Aural Noir Review of The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown

Aural Noir: Review

[This audiobook was created by Wonder Audiobooks which is owned by SFFaudio contributor and a past reviews editior Rick Jackson]

Wonder Audiobooks - The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric BrownSFFaudio EssentialThe Fabulous Clipjoint
By Fredric Brown; Read by William Coon
Audible Download – 5 Hours 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com / Wonder Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Crime / Mystery / Murder / Alcoholism / Noir / Carny / Chicago / Janesville /

You’ll hear the soft, lazy voice of a dame who’s been around, and you’ll meet up with a beautiful heller. You’ll learn the lurid secrets of a man’s locked past, and you’ll prowl dark alleys with two men–two men turned hunters. And you’ll wonder–why Ed and his Uncle Am didn’t level with the cops; what business a gang would have with Ed’s dead father; and where the killer thought the hunters would go wrong. Here are your answers, in this fast-spinning, two-fisted mystery about thugs, molls, and carnival folks.

Ed Hunter is 18, an apprentice linotype operator in 1940s Chicago. He works with his father. One morning Ed gets up to work only to find his father missing, having not come home the night before. This can only mean one thing – MURDER! The cops aren’t too interested, his alcoholic stepmother and oversexed step sister aren’t up for it, so it’s up to Ed to get justice. But to get the job done he’ll need help so For he enlists his uncle, a carny with more brains and experience than any man Ed knows.

Rick Jackson, the man behind Wonder Audiobooks, is a good friend of mine. It’d be hard to say I’m 100% objective about reviewing his stuff. The problem mostly being that he and I have such similar tastes in audiobooks and fiction that to praise one of his audiobooks is very much like saying how cool I am! But he is cool damn it! And more importantly this is a truly awesome audiobook. I will stake my reputation on you loving it. If you’re twice as apt to like an old crime novel as a new one, then you’re three times as apt to love The Fabulous Clipjoint. The mystery is not hard to follow, the story is told in first person, but conversely it was devilishly hard to solve. I pride myself on being an excellent armchair detective, but I was happily baffled right up til the big reveal. That’s really saying something. William Coon sounds like a wise teenager. But then whenever he’s tasked with another character’s voice he switches: Falsetto, gruff, kindly, Coon does them all. Highly recommended.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher

SFFaudio Review

Proven Guilty by Jim ButcherProven Guilty
By Jim Butcher; Read by James Marsters
Audible Download – approx. 16 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Magic / Chicago / Wizard / Faeries / Vampires / Black Magic

By the time most fantasy series reach their eighth novel, they’re usually showing their age. For proof, one need look no further than Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, in which the eighth book, Path of Daggers, is seen as the beginning of the cycle’s decline, although some would place this event significantly earlier. In any case, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series certainly doesn’t follow this trend. In fact, Proven Guilty suggests that the series just keeps getting better.

The novel initially follows the series formula: Chicago wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden faces a series of seemingly-disconnected incidents which, as the plot progresses, reveal themselves to be connected in a sinister way. The White Council is on the lookout for black magic; monsters from the big screen are wreaking havoc at a horror fan convention; and Molly Carpenter, daughter of Harry’s good friend Michael, is in some kind of mysterious trouble. Harry must juggle all these fly balls and, as usual, keep himself from getting killed. He’s aided by the usual cast of supporting characters like officer Karin Murphy and the elemental Bob the Skull., and White Court vampire Thomas.

Harry soon discovers that the faerie courts of Summer and Winter have taken an interest in recent events. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Proven Guilty so much, since it evoked themes from the other faerie-centric novel in the series so far, Summer Knight, which is also one of my favorites. Butcher writes about the fae as if they are both inscrutably beautiful and incalculably terrifying. In general, the Summer Court tends to side with the “powers of good”, while the Winter Court allies itself with “evil”, but faerie politics aren’t quite that simple. Summer can be incredibly crafty and deceptive, while denizens of Winter are prone to occasional acts of kindness and sacrifice.

This moral ambiguity cuts to the heart of the success of Proven Guilty. Themes of morality, self-control, parenthood, and responsibility abound. Butcher’s early novels felt like little more than exciting detective thrillers with a supernatural twist–entertaining, witty, humorous, but lacking any real depth. In later Dresden Files novels, Butcher has cultivated a heightened emotional sensitivity. in Proven Guilty, this manifests most prominently in Harry’s complex relationship with the Carpenter family. Without giving too much away, suffice to say that the execution of a young boy at the hands of the White Council for misuse of magic holds more than a hint of foreshadowing.

James Marsters, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, narrates the novel flawlessly. His hard-boiled narrative style perfectly fits the book’s genre as a detective story, and his dust-dry rendition of Harry Dresden’s dialogue captures the wizard’s lonely character perfectly. Marsters also handles the female characters deftly, avoiding the pitfall of overacting that some other male vice actors fall prey to.

Readers might get away with reading Proven Guilty as a stand-alone novel, since it does a passable job of weaving backstory into the plot in an unobtrusive manner, but it’s worth reading the Dresden Files series from the beginning. Unfortunately, books six and seven (Blood Rites and Dead Beat) haven’t yet received the audio treatment, though they’re schedules for release sometime in the coming months.  It’s well worth plodding through those two volumes in print.

Also take a look at SFFaudio’s favorable review of Small Favor, book ten in the series, which I’m immensely looking forward to once I’ve read the intervening White Night.

Posted by Seth Wilson

The SFFaudio Podcast #019

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #019 – Julie Davis (of the Forgotten Classics, StarShipSofa and Happy Catholic blog) joins us for a potassium filled show.

Talked about on today’s show:
Forgotten Classics, The Hidden Adversary, Agatha Christie, Temptation, David Brin, Recorded Books, Sundiver, Different Seasons, Stephen King, Frank Muller, Daemon, Daniel Suarez, Microsoft Zune’s 30gb brick = DRM, Librivox’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, Craftlit, Craftlit podcast, Another Beowulf & Grendel, Iceland, Greenland, The Fall, Encounters At The End Of The World, Antarctica, Chicago, Dreams With Sharp Teeth coming to DVD, Harlan Ellison, Voices From The Edge, City Of Darkness, Ben Bova, A Wizard Of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin, The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury, A good book badly read: IBM And The Holocaust, Edwin Black (have a listen to a sample) |MP3|, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman, Tony Smith from StarShipSofa, the worst news of 2008/2009: Donald Westlake is dead. The Hunter, The Sour Lemon Score, Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr Burglar books, Richard Stark’s Parker novels, Spider Robinson, The Hook, The Ax, Humans, Samuel Holt, Grofield, Lemons Never Lie, Hard Case Crime, Somebody Owes Me Money, The Risk Profession, Tomorrow’s Crimes, Anarchaos, Theodore Bikel, Westlake’s “nephew novels”, Smoke, Ross Thomas, Dick Francis, an incomplete but wonderfully annotated bibliography of Westlake novels, My Own Worst Enemy, Money For Nothing, The Cutie, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Robert Silverberg,

Posted by Jesse Willis

Spider Robinson reads The Persistence Of Vision by John Varley

SFFaudio Online Audio

Spider On The Web - Spider Robinson’s podcastJohn Varley’s Hugo and Nebula award winning 1978 novella The Persistence Of Vision is the latest unabridged story to be recorded by Spider Robinson for his Spider On The Web podcast.

Wow! Could your life get any more thrilling than this?

The Persistence Of Vision is the perfect tale for these times. With those bread riots we’ve all got planned for next week and all. Now, all we’ll have to do is let a few of our nuclear power plants do The China Syndrome-thing, get the survivors together, form a few farm collectives, shave off all our body hair, and then paint ourselves a nice shade of purple.

Science Fiction Audio - The Persistence Of Vision by John VarleyThe Persistence Of Vision
By John Varley; Read by Spider Robinson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 2 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Spider On The Web
Podcast: November 2008
Wandering the roads and rails of a future USA, our narrator learns the art of living in a dead economy. Only a mysterious wall on the New Mexico/California border and a collective of the blind-deaf keep his wandering feet from moving on.

And, here are the details for the new Audible Frontiers version (which is done by a different narrator and is minus the sounds of pages turning)…

Audible Frontiers Science Fiction Audiobook - The Persistence Of Vision by John VarleyThe Persistence Of Vision
By John Varley; Read by Peter Ganim
Audible Download – 2 Hours 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: September 2008
Listen to a sample |MP3|
On the surface, this Hugo and Nebula Award-winning classic is about a drifter who comes to stay in a New Mexico commune founded by a group of deaf-blind people. But beneath the story, author John Varley examines deep, universal issues. What is the nature of communication? What does an individual gain – or lose – by subsuming himself to the whole? Can an outsider ever truly “belong”? Varley says that he has had more response to this story than anything he has ever written, that some readers have even told him it changed their lives. Listening to The Persistence of Vision, it is easy to understand why.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword by Tee Morris

 SFFaudio Review

Fantasy podiobook - Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing SwordBillibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword
By Tee Morris; Read by Tee Morris and others
16 MP3 Files – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: TeeMorris.com / Podiobooks.com
Published: 2007
Themes: / Fantasy / Mystery / Magic / Alternate World / Chicago / 1920s /

It is The Era of Prohibition, where crime runs rampant in the streets and a city divided into territories serves as the ultimate prize. Somewhere in this Underworld of Chicago, an enchanted weapon holds the key to ending The Gangland Wars. In the wake of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, only one is man enough to stand up against Al Capone … a four-foot-one dwarf named Billibub Baddings.

That Baddings character, he isn’t your regular dwarf. Hell, he’s not even from planet Earth at all. He’s the other kind of dwarf, one of those Tolkienesque creatures. Baddings is a short but stocky humanoid, like the ones you’d find inhabiting the mountains and mines of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and World Of Warcraft. So how’d he end up in Chicago? Well, during one of his very real adventures Billi crossed a dimensional gate and found himself flung far from home into the bowels of the Chicago Public Library building. Stranded in 1929, on a planet without any Elves, Hobbits or trolls, Billi has had to acquire a massive new skill-set in his adopted urban home. And even though we know from his own accounts that he was what D&D players might have called a “high-level character” to begin with, it isn’t a piece of cake. Luckily, finding himself an avid reader, after teaching himself to read English, Billi sets out to become a professional private investigator, just like in the books he’s discovered. Fortunately, whatever Billi sets his mind to doing, sooner or later gets done. And then, just like in the books, a dame enters Billi’s office with a case – a case which will eventually pit lil’ Billi against the biggest mobster of all, namely old Al “Scarface” Capone himself!

The background for the tale is 1929 Chicago, but Billibub tells us what the place is like from his 4 foot 1 first person point of view. Even better is the attention to detail on Billi’s own homeworld, we get plenty of info on what his land was like – it is richly imagined, a fantasy landscape with multiple alliances, plenty of battle history and their own philosophical beliefs. I’d warrant a future novel in this series (and make no mistake, this is a series character if we’ve ever seen one) will warrant an extended visit to Acryonis. The plot is swift, and flows as if it was always a cinch that hardbolied mystery and fantasy went to together like ham and eggs. You’ll find yourself swept along, cheering for the know-it-all dwarf right to the very end.

With Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword Tee Morris has written another terrific fantasy novel that blazes trails in genre bending – combining mystery and fantasy – as well as medium stretching – this is an audiobook enhanced with music and sound effects. Tee started the whole podcast novel revolution way back in 2005 with Morevi: The Chronicles Of Rafe And Askana, two years later he’s now mastered it. Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword will indubitably become known as the “first great enhanced drama podiobook.”

Tee Morris performs the book himself, but he’s brought a who’s-who of guests podcasters in to perform most of the other characters (including one of our own SFFaudio editors). As the tale is told first person the enthusiastic self-confidence of Tee spills over onto Billi. Billi is ultra-competent. That ultra competence (there isn’t any point in time where we think Billi is out of his depth) and an over use the colloquial 1920 terms (everyone has “peepers”, nobody has “eyes”) are the only seams in an otherwise smooth production. Scene music, sound effects and the occasional voice effect, often created through editing alone makes this unabridged novel come alive in an atypical but extremely enjoyable auidobook-like experience. For those used to audiobooks there is an option through podiobooks.com to download the entire audiobook in one day. For those who prefer to take the book at a slower pace you can set your customizable podcast feed to deliver at your own pace.

Highly recommended!

Posted by Jesse Willis

ALSO: Avid Tee Morris fans will be delighted to learn Tee’s next podiobook release will be an extended and UNABRIDGED version of Tee’s first novel (and first podiobook) Morevi: The Chronicles Of Rafe And Askana. Have a listen to the promo |MP3|.

It starts just ONE WEEK from today on October 29th! on November 29th 2007.

For more info on Morevi REMASTERED, visit the offficial website at Morevi.net.

Billibub Baddings Podcast Novel preparing to Launch

SFFaudio News

{Podcast / Podiobook - Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword by Tee MorrisThe original podcast novelist is set to STRIKE AGAIN soon!

Tee Morris, co-author of Morevi: The Chronicles Of Rafe and Askana, and the first podcast novelist in the history of this universe is planning on podcasting his 2004 novel Billibub Baddings And The Case Of The Singing Sword. The first teaser |MP3| is out already, and the actual novel should start sometime in the early New Year, likely February. Here’s the hook:

“Chicago, 1929. There are a thousand stories in the naked city; and when you’re a dwarf at four-foot-one, they all look that much taller.” It is The Era of Prohibition, where crime runs rampant in the streets and a city divided into territories serves as the ultimate prize. Somewhere in this Underworld of Chicago, an enchanted weapon holds the key to ending The Gangland Wars. In the wake of The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, only one is man enough to stand up against Al Capone… …a four-foot-one dwarf named Billibub Baddings. “Billi,” as his friends come to know him, is a working stiff dwarf in the all too-human sized world of Chicago. Seems that a brood of orcs and a renegade warlock had opened a Portal of Oblivion in his homeworld and was planning to submerge his nine lands of Acryonis into an Age of Darkness. Billi had managed to throw a monkey wrench into those plans…but not before getting himself caught in the pull of that portal. When he came to, he found himself in the heart of The Windy City during The Roaring Twenties. After dealing with trolls, goblins, and rock dragons, Al Capone and Bugs Moran are about as intimidating as choir boys. Billi sets himself up as a tough-talking, waist-high, straight-dealing detective, and business was looking bleak, until a dark-eyed beauty crossed his threshold with the case that involved the mob, the upper-crust of Chicago society, and Billi’s past. Get ready for The Lord of the Rings written by Mickey Spillane! Poking fun at the hard-boiled detective novel, Fantasy mainstays, and even the legend of Chicago’s 1920 underworld!

Tee’s first novel was abridged, but no word has yet been leaked as to whether this will be an UNABRIDGED or ABRIDGED podiobook. Let’s hope for the former!