Review of The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

SFFaudio Review

Here’s a review of The Veldt, story #20 in our 7th Anniversary Review Spree!

The Illustrated Man by Ray BradburyThe Veldt
Contained in The Illustrated Man
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
8 CDs – 9 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781433297199
Themes: / Science Fiction / Automated House / Computers / Children / Simulation /

In a house that cost them “thirty thousand dollars installed”, George and Lydia Hadley and their two children lived happily. Their shoes were tied with automatic shoe-tyers, their bacon was automatically fried, and, most importantly, their children were kept entertained. Life was good in their soundproof Happylife(tm) Home. Of course, things go terribly wrong. In the nursery, the kids seem to be spending a lot of time in Africa. With the lions.

The story was published in 1950, and though nobody’s tying my shoes, here in 2010 I can identify strongly with some of what Bradbury says here. At one point, George gets so upset that he decides to shut the house down:

“Lydia, it’s off, and it stays off. And the whole damn house dies as of here and now. The more I see of the mess we’ve put ourselves in, the more it sickens me. We’ve been contemplating our mechanical, electronic navels for too long. My God, how we need a breath of honest air!”

And he marched about the house turning off the voice clocks, the stoves, the heaters, the shoe shiners, the shoe lacers, the body scrubbers and swabbers and massagers, and every other machine he could put his hand to.

The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical cemetery. So silent. None of the humming hidden energy of machines waiting to function at the tap of a button.

Every so often I experience the same kind of angst and run around shutting things down. Things don’t end up so well for George, though. Maybe I better just leave it all on… and let the kids play with the lions. moohoowahahaha!

I’ve heard this story many many times, but I don’t know that I’ve actually heard an audiobook version before now. They’ve always been radio dramas, and this story has appeared several times: It was a Dimension X episode (1951), an X Minus One episode (1955), and Episode 11 of Bradbury 13. It was also televised as an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater in the 1980’s.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky

SFFaudio Review

Yet another story in SFFaudio’s 7th Anniversary Exposition of Excellent Stories! Step right up…

Science Fiction Audiobook - Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel SwirskyEros, Philia, Agape
By Rachel Swirsky; Read by Rachel Swirsky
1 Hour 12 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Story Podcast #013)
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Love / Robots / Divorce / Children / Relationships /

Adriana shrugged. “They’re all beautiful, right?”

“We’ll need specifications.”

“I don’t have specifications.”

The salesman frowned anxiously. He shifted his weight as if it could help him regain his metaphorical footing. Adriana took pity. She dug through her purse.

“There,” she said, placing a snapshot of her father on one of the display tables. “Make it look nothing like him.”

I’ve been really lucky this month. I’ve listened to thirteen stories, and they’ve all been winners. This one may be the best of the lot!

Adriana goes through with the purchase in that scene above – she buys herself a robot husband named Lucian. She then has a baby named Rose. Though Rose has none of Lucian’s DNA (he has none to give, of course), this is a family. The decision to purchase a robot whose body is made to order and whose personality can be molded to fit does not prevent relationship problems, though. It introduces different ones.

You can probably tell from just that short section that Adriana is a character with a lot of internal conflict. I immediately cared about her, and Lucian, and little Rose. This is a wonderful story that I’ll be reading again.

You can grab the story |HERE|

Or subscribe to the Tor Story Podcast at this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TorDotStories

Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Assam and Darjeeling by T.M. Camp

SFFaudio Review

Assam and Darjeeling by T.M. CampSFFaudio EssentialAssam & Darjeeling
By T.M. Camp; Read by T.M. Camp
Podcast Download (iTunes and RSS Feeds can be found |Here| – Approx 23 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: T.M. Camp
Published: 2008
Themes: / Fantasy / Religion / Legend / Children / Underworld /

A masterful and nuanced book, Assam & Darjeeling is the story of a quest straight into legendary, mythological landscape. Two children’s’ efforts to save their mother serves as a lens through which we see pure love, redemption, and sacrifice.

It all begins with a car accident on a snow-covered road; two kids and their mother end up in intensive care. The kids are banged up . . . but their mom is in a coma, hovering on the edge of death. Drifting in a pale, ghostly world of their own, the kids resolve to find her and bring her back.

So begins their journey into the Underworld, where the remnants of Dante, shreds of folklore, and echoes of mythology struggle to keep pace with the world above.

Demons with cell phones, ancient deities tooling around in vintage convertibles… Gods and goddesses whose pantheons have fallen out of favor, waiting tables in an all-night diner to make ends meet… A lonely queen wandering through her winter palace, waiting for spring… A little boy named Edgar who set off on his own after the Black Plague to wander other worlds above and below, looking for something he lost long ago… A congregation of souls fooled into believing they’ve reached the fields of Heaven, while the demon who ensnared them feeds on their faith and their fear…

This story will appeal to anyone who knows and loves classic Western mythology. Camp has tweaked the old legends just enough to make us puzzle about each new situation and character’s origin. When it falls into place we feel a sense of triumph for getting it right … or the need to dash to the reference books to see what unknown myth he is referring to.

One of the truest pleasures of Assam & Darjeeling is the relationship between the forceful younger sister, Darjeeling, and the thoughtful, sensitive older brother, Assam. The way that they work together to save their mother, yet often clash in the details of how they must proceed is what carries the story and makes us believe in their relationship. It rings true to anyone who has siblings whom they love but who also have the capacity to irritate beyond belief in daily life.

Camp reads his own story and his understated delivery adds to pull the listener into the story. His accents are flawless and add definition to each character. His playful side shows in the touches he adds to the very end of each podcast where his contact information changes frequently and always has a humorously mystic tone.

This is hands-down one of my favorite books of the year. I absolutely loved it and anxiously awaited each weekly upload until the entire book was finished. I only wish that it were available in printed form so that I could give it to people who don’t listen to audio books.

Posted by Julie D.

LibriVox: The Shadows by George MacDonald

SFFaudio Online Audio

shadowsfin2.jpgThe Shadows
By George MacDonald; Read by Catherine Eastman
2 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 1.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 27, 2007

Though no longer well known, his works (particularly his fairy tales and fantasy novels) have inspired admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L’Engle. The Shadows is one such fairy tale. The strange Shadows spend their existence casting themselves upon the walls and forming pictures of various sorts: mimicking evil actions of those who have done wrong in the hopes of causing their repentance, playing a comic dumb-show to inspire a playwright and dancing to inspire a musician, nudging a little girl to comfort her grandfather, and playing with a sick little boy as he waits for his mother to return home. For all that their forms are black, their hearts are of the whitest.

This fantasy for younger readers/listeners has a couple of things in its favor for adults other than just the historical interest in its author.  The reader here, Catherine Eastman, does an outstanding job and the story is quite imaginative. Highly recommended for younger listeners and not too bad for adults either.

Complete Audiobook [zip], individual MP3s here.

And here’s the podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-shadows-by-george-macdonald.xml

Posted by Dave Tackett

Review of Super Pal and Jewels of the 11th Generation

SFFaudio Review

Great Northern Audio - Super PalThe Saving of the World: Super Pal (Includes Jewels of the 11th Generation)
By Great Northern Audio Theatre; Performed by a FULL CAST
1 CD – Approx. 70 minutes [LIVE AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Great Northern Audio
Published: 2005/2006
Themes: / Fantasy / Comedy / Superheroes / Meteors / Jewels / Space Travel / Children / Squeak Toys / Computers

A comet is heading towards Big City, but is it a job for Super Pal?

Great Northern Audio brings you the tale of the blue-glowing superhero, as told from those closest to him. The nurse who helped birth him, the girlfriend who likes the cape (nudge-nudge), his best friend growing up, even the crooks he brought down.

Meanwhile, the comet comes closer, and Super Pal is nowhere to be found. The mayor begins to look at other superheroes, but no help is available. One kinked their back while lugging an oil rig across the desert, and another is expecting a baby and is on light duty. You know, bank robbers.

What to do? Well, Super Pal does have a weakness for cats in trees….

The CD also includes The Jewels of the 11th Generation, a story of two zany treasure-hunters looking for the ultimate treasure. They certainly find more than that! Children, pirates- and… squeak toys? But where are the jewels? This is also a lot of fun and well-written. Mix that with excellent acting, including the talents of David Ossman of Firesign Theatre, and you know exactly why I enjoyed it so much.

These performances were a lot of fun. I loved the documentary-style interviews in telling the tale of Super Pal, and the jokes in Jewels made me laugh out loud a couple of times! Very witty, and hearing the audience respond now and then in the background really made it all the more enjoyable. For a live performance, it has a better sound than a lot of in-studio performances. A very enjoyable hour!

Both SuperPal and Jewels of the 11th Generation were part of live Great Northern Audio performances in 2005 and 2006. Definitely worth going over to Great Northern’s website and getting a copy today!

BBC4 Afternoon Play The Veldt by Ray Bradbury

SFFaudio Online Audio

Just a reminder, the BBC 4 Afternoon Play that just aired is still available through the “Listen Again” service. Of it, one listener writes: “I was riveted by today’s drama, The Veldt. Truly chilling and a brilliant evocation of a whole, troubling yet thoroghly (SIC) engaging environment. Radio drama at it’s best.” I’m listening to it now. I have to agree, sounds great so far!

Online AudioAfternoon Play: The Veldt
By Ray Bradbury; Performed by a Full Cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: Tuesday 22nd May -14:15-15:00 (U.K. Time)
“An updated version of a classic SF story by Ray Bradbury, adapted from the stage play by Mike Walker, about a playroom that becomes a beguiling tempter, drawing two young children into secret, deadly adventures”

This is available via the Radio 4 Afternoon PlayListen Again” service for 7 days following the broadcast.

posted by Jesse Willis