Review of Sci Phi: The Journal of Science Fiction In Philosophy – January 2008 (Volume 1 Issue 1)

SFFaudio Review

Sci Phi: The Journal of Science Fiction In Philosophy - January 2008 (Volume 1 Issue 1)Sci Phi: The Journal of Science Fiction In Philosophy – January 2008 (Volume 1 Issue 1)
Edited by Jason Rennie; Read by various
11 MP3s and PDF – Approx. 3.5 Hours or 33,000 Words [PHILOSOPHICAL JOURNAL]
Publisher: Sci Phi Productions
Published: January 2008
Themes: / Philosophy / Science Fiction / Religion / Fantasy / Cloning / Time /

“Sci Phi is a new popular level journal aimed at readers who like science fiction but want to think about its implications a little more. Each issue of Sci Phi will contain short stories and articles. The short stories will tend to have an interesting idea underlying them and the articles will look at various philosophical ideas through the lens of science fiction. Each issue comes in various ebook formats as well as all of the stories and articles in mp3 format for your listening pleasure. Each issue costs $7, and all of the contributors are paid on a royalty basis, with about 80% of the issue price being paid directly to contributors. Additionally after one year each issue of the journal will be released under a Creative Commons attribution non-commercial license 3.0.”

The Journal of Science Fiction In Philosophy is a spin-off from the Sci-Phi Show podcast. The short introductory editorial, written and read by the journal’s editor Jason Rennie, defines what the journal will be about using examples from film and television – but despite these examples the stated focus is on making the journal more focused on the literary side of Science Fiction.

Next up, “What Is Sci-Phi” (introductory article) by Jason Rennie; read by TD-0013, introduces the philosophical content of modern Science Fiction. The stories are followed by “questions for reflection” which are a series of questions designed to provoke the philosophical spirit in the listener.

“Irwin Goes To Hell” by Jason Pomerantz is the first piece of fiction in the journal; it is a humorous and surrealistic tale of a hapless suitor determined to break all ten of the Ten Commandments. But the joke runs a little long with so many commandments to break and so many trips to hell (and heaven).

Geoffrey Maloney‘s “The Oracle In The Red Limousine,” read by Nathan Lowell, the next short story, offers a small reflection on the idea predestination and a large handful of humor.

“Requiem for a Harlequin: Two Perspectives on Time, and a Celebration of Kairos, in Three Stories by Harlan Ellison” by Michael Spence is a commentary on what he sees as a previously unnoticed theme in Harlan Ellison stories. Warning, pre-reading of the three Ellison tales is definitely required.

“You Pretty Thing” by Lee Battersby (and read by Rick Stringer) is short, unmemorable, fleeting. This, despite having some weighty ideas (life after death, cloning, consciousness-downloading).

“Requiem for a Silent Planet” by Stephen Dedman, read by TD-0013, stands out (with lines like “I’m loaded for pope.”. This one is an intriguing listen right up until its very abrupt end. This story feels terribly unfinished – which is a real shame.

Likewise, the serialized piece “The Big Questions” by Stephan Vladimir Bugaj and Ben Goertzel, read by Jeffrey Kafer, starts with a moon-smashing bang. It is a snappy first person tale of a head in the clouds solipsist asking many of the traditional questions of metaphysics – many questions, few answers – perhaps some will come in future issues of the journal.

“A First Look at Lookism” is an article with an argument at its center. The subject of which is an exploration of the “morally inappropriate discrimination,” phenomenon of visual discrimination. The author, Ryan Nichols is an assistant professor. He examines the moral status of lookism with special reference to a piece of literary science fiction (namely Ted Chiang’s Liking What You See: A Documentary). Nichols surveys the terrain and then mulls over an argument that he thinks may show precisely why lookism is so wrong. He’s thorough and the article runs about 25 minutes.

Next, “The Losting Corridor” by Matt Wallace, read by Drew Beatty, offers a dreamy entrance into a Twilight Zone-like world. A hardboiled detective on the trail of a shooter winds up in a Platonic blind-alley that he may never escape from. The tale is gritty and well written, but ultimately it is a shallow mirror pointed at a past that never was.

Finally, the issue is capped by “The Epilogue” which is, despite its title, actually a fiction piece. It’s an eight minute tale, by The Rev-Up Review‘s Paul S. Jenkins. A cryptic worldwide broadcast by an anonymous grey-bearded sky guy proves once and for all that the atheists were wrong, and will be right. Well written, but more of an exercise in storytelling than a story.

Magazines by their nature are extremely hard to review (their many small components needing to be examined in detail). There is something in the essential character of magazine reading that is always more ephemeral than novels or short stories alone. That said, after reading over what I’ve written above, it appears I have been more damning than praising – had I been merely a casual reader looking for something to listen to I bet I’d have been far less so. So let me clarify, for the first issue of a magazine the Sci Phi: The Journal of Science Fiction In Philosophy – January 2008 is extremely well put together. It doesn’t have any real dead weight, and I eagerly look forward to listening to future issues.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Frequency Of Fear podcast features CBC Radio Drama NIGHTFALL and more

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - Zombie Astronaut's Frequency Of FearThe Zombie Astronaut‘s podcast Frequency Of Fear, tackles the doubly difficult problem of duplicates (doppelgängers or clones – if you will). Showcased on the show are stories about killers and killers, killing duplicates and trying to dupe the authorities about it. The second show is particularly cool as its an episode of CBC Radio’s 1980 series Nightfall. Entitled “The Repossession” it features Chris Wiggins (from Friday The Thirteenth – The Series) and other familiar CBC voices. It was first broadcast on September 26th, 1980.

Plug the podcast feed into your podcatcher, and listen twice:

Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. Free The Adventures Of Apocalypse Al

7th Son Book Three Premieres Saturday

SFFaudio Online Audio

J.C. Hutchins' 7th Son Book 3JC Hutchins is one big tease. The entire month of June podcasters
all over the internet world played their interviews with the man (this podcaster included) to help promote the third book release. I listened to several of them, and it was tons of fun. I loved all the different perspectives all of the different shows came from, based on what their shows are about. I swear, if you want to become a total JC Hutchins expert (or perhaps a stalker), here is a list of just a few of the podcasts he’s had interviews with:

Barely Podcasting (in 4 parts, then will put up the entire interview)
Strangely Literal
Tag in the Seam
Tvindy Time
Love Long and Prosper
The Sci Phi Show
Update: Muse With Me
Update: The Gigcast
Update: Better Late Than Never
Update: Murder at Avedon Hill
Update: Sonic Society
Update: Survival Guide to Writing Fantasy

This was just off the top of my head. If you did an interview and want it listed- let me know and I’d be more than happy to add it!

What’s next on this big tease leading up to the premiere of Book Three? Well, today episode Zero was posted! What is Episode Zero? Why, The Story So Far!

Tomorrow (Thursday) JC is having a Clone Line Q&A chat, and rumor has it that anyone who joins in for the chat will get a very special bonus… Friday is the big launch party in Second Life, then holy MOLY Saturday is the day!

Update: Chapter’s One and Two are out, and trust me, it does not disappoint! JC has also put up the entire audio from the Clone Line Q&A up in his podcast feed. Hours of fanatical 7th Son listening awaits!

If you have not subscribed to the 7th Son Novel yet, all you have to do is paste this feed into your podcatcher:

You can also get Book 1:Descent and Book 2: Deceit separately through It’s also a perfect route to take if you just want straight story, with no extra-podcast frills and chat.

Review of The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul LevinsonThe Plot To Save Socrates
By Paul Levinson; Read by Mark Shanahan
7 CDs – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1593160747
Themes: / Science Fiction / Time Travel / Cloning / Philosophy / Ancient Greece / Ancient Rome / Ancient Egypt / 19th Century New York /

“Think not those faithful who praise all thy words and actions;
but those who kindly reprove thy faults.”
Socrates (c.470 BC – 399 BC) Greek philosopher

2042 AD. Sierra, a young classics scholar has discovered a lost Platonic scroll. Its contents will lead her to attempt to trounce the awful punishment that was imposed upon Socrates, the pre-eminent philosopher of the golden age of Greece. Joining her is her fiance Max, her thesis advisor Tom, Alcibides (a famous Greek orator and friend to Socrates), 19th century New York publisher W.H. Appleton, as well as the famously talented inventor, Heron of Alexandria.

Levinson opens the novel well with grad student Sierra Waters discovering a lost Socratic dialogue. It is a terrific opening, and I think this is what got my hopes so high. This isn’t a terrible novel, it just doesn’t grab me like I wanted it to. It is, rather, a workman-like time travel adventure. I was hoping it would be something deeper. In terms of pace, there is at least one too many characters. And none of them, including Socrates, engaged me as they should have. This is doubly troubling considering that the ideas weren’t sufficent for the novel length. Both the time travel itself and the mechanism of the time travel (a set of chairs created by a mysterious time traveler from the future) are sidelined and remain virtually unexplained. There are some interesting reveals sprinkled here and there and Levinson gives a decent twist-ending but it is only satisfying on one level and doesn’t and fufil the promise I thought it had. I never became enraptured by the story. There are unfilled gaps in the narrative. It feels as if the novel were abridged, though the packaging copy assures me that it wasn’t. The biggest single disapointment for me was the lack of more than a surficial philosophical content. Socrates reasons for allowing himself to be executed by an Athenian jury are only lightly touched upon. Levinson has an interest in philosophy, but Socrates and the Socratic method deserve a stupendous Science Fiction showcase and not this – a light adventure yarn. Had the spartan but solid contents of the plot been rendered to novellete or novella length the story would probably have worked far better. To his credit Levinson includes Socrates’ distrust of the written word. The written word is fixed, something that can’t be quibbled about as easily as can the thoughtful power of spoken word. Had Socrates known about audiobooks I think he’d have questioned the recorded word too.

Narrating duites on this one are by Mark Shanahan. Shannahan has a decent range, offering some distinction between the many characters. His job however was made more difficult than it should have been; Levinson’s characters aren’t fully dimensional. The narration is accompanied by sound effects and a situational background noise. I was disapointed with the inclusion of sound effects. If the text says “the doorbell rang.” you don’t need the sound effect of a doorbell ringing. If the narrator then reads the line “the doorbell rang.” not only don’t you need the sound of a doorbell ringing it interupts the flow of the story to include it. Less intrusive, but certainly no less unnecessary is the occasional inclusion of background noise designed to be appropriate to where a scene takes place. A pub, with a humm of clinking of glasses and the buzz of distant conversations, a seaside with the cry of seagulls and the slosh of waves. I get it, we’re in a pub or on a beach. But the absence from the rest of the narrative makes these scenes stand out in a way they shouldn’t and thus paradoxically distances the listener rather than drawing him or her in. The music is actually pretty good and definitely works better than the rest of the production details. The music fades in and out, bookending scenes. There are also one or two sentences that were missed in the final pass. Shannahan will read a line, and then read it again.

Upon reading other reviews scattered around the net I see that more people seem to have become caught up in the novel than I did. I envy them. I wanted to like this novel a lot more than I did. One reviewer pointed out that Levinson’s characterization and was like that of Isaac Asimov’s. I don’t disagree, I just think that was one of Asimov’s few weakness. Another reviewer pointed out how well constructed the chronology of the time travel was. Again, I don’t disagree, it was well woven. Maybe my problem is that most of my favorite time travel stories are of a much shorter length. If that is your problem too, bear that in mind joining in on The Plot To Save Socrates

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of 7th Son Book One by J.C. Hutchins

SFFaudio Review

7th Son Book One7th Son Book One: Descent
By J.C. Hutchins; Read by J.C. Hutchins
Podcast Novel – Approx. 16 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: J.C. Hutchins;
Published: August 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / Suspense / Crime / Cloning / Conspiracy /

The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy.

How does that grab you? These are the first two sentences from the prologue of the podiobook 7th Son, and it just gets better from there. Next, we meet our 7 main characters: John, Michael, Jack, Father Thomas, Jonathan, Dr. Mike, and Kilroy 2.0, as each are taken abruptly away from their individual lives and brought to the 7th Son Facility. They quickly learn that their lives – and their memories – are not as individual as one would think. Each man is a clone, and each had been implanted with the same memories from childhood, using Memory Recording/Installation (MR/I) technology. Each clone has their own personality trait (for instance, one is a priest, another is a Marine, and another is a musician), and though they are clones, their physical appearances do differ slightly.

What they come to discover is they were brought together to help catch the person who assassinated the President. The 7th Son facilitators believe that John Alpha, the source in which all the other clones were created, is behind the assassination. Only they don’t know how, or why. That is where the clones come in. Working together, they discover John Alpha’s whereabouts, at the same time learning more and more about their pasts that never were. The clones also discover they share the same mother, who was taken away by John Alpha. The memories of their mother are the same implanted memories, and they all share them, even though the woman, Danya Sheridan, is quite real and was a memory specialist at the facility.

We find out soon enough this is a conspiracy that goes much deeper than assassinating a President. Experimenting with memory technology also has its downfalls, when in Chapter 8 we learn about NEPTH Charge Technology (Neuro Erasure-Pulsed Technology Hardware), a technology that sends such a shockwave through the brain that every one of your memories are erased. Eventually a way to control that misstep is found, but the implications should the technology fall into the wrong hands are evident.

The very next chapter is an example of this, and is by far my favorite chapter in the book. I remember it very clearly because I cringed for the entire process. For onlookers, I must have looked like I was having some sort of seizure. It is that good of a chapter.

Hutchins captures your attention from the very beginning, and with a smooth voice is able to depict each character in such a way you begin to recognize each clone’s voice as their own. His writing is smart, descriptive, and his ideas are original, with plot twists that will keep you guessing right up until a secret is revealed (and there are quite a few). You’re guaranteed to gasp and talk to your computer or mp3 player while listening. J.C. Hutchins gives Stephen King a run for his money. Now that I think about it, someone should let King know about this podcast novel, if he’s not subscribed all ready, that is.

There are two ways to receive this podcast novel. One is through, where you will get nothing other than the chapters of the story, as if you’re listening to an audiobook. The other way is subscribing to the podcast feed directly through Hutchins’ website, which is how I listened. Listening to the book this way is a bit different than just listening to it as a straight audiobook. The set up is a weekly show, with an introduction, a recap of the last chapter, the chapter itself, then closing with voicemails and podcast promotions. A lot of listeners to the podcast listen week-by-week, as you would wait for the next episode of a television show. Each chapter is compelling enough, with just enough cliffhanger to keep you checking your podcatcher for the next chapter to be released. Other listeners, such as myself, joined the “Beta Clone Army” (as the fan-based Myspace group is called) later in the book. I listened to nothing else for a week-and-a-half, then had to wait like everyone else when I caught up. It was frustrating, but in a good way.

Also included in the podcast-show version of the novel is a bonus show, filled with Q&A from listeners, plugs for other podcasts, and acknowledgements. I loved listening to this extra show. Hutchins talks about his inspiration for the 7th Son story, as well as giving in-depth analysis of each clone, and how he created the characters. The hard-core fans will find it very informative, and I personally love to hear where writers get their inspirations for stories.

There is a ton of fan-hype surrounding this podcast novel, and it’s easy to be swept up in it. Whether you listen as a “podiobook” or as the podcast show, 7th Son will captivate your imagination and hold it hostage right up to the end. The writing is strong and easily stands alone, which is why it has the fan base it does. Book two begins September 26th, so there is plenty of time to subscribe to this book and catch up.

Review of Anne Manx on Amazonia

Anne Manx on AmazoniaAnne Manx on Amazonia
By Larry Weiner; Performed by a Full Cast
2 CD’s – 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0977134202
Themes: / Science Fiction / Private Eye / Cloning /

Anne Manx on Amazonia is the fourth installment in the Radio Repertory Company of America’s ongoing Anne Manx series. All four titles are available on their website, but don’t worry if you haven’t heard them. You’ll probably want to hear the other three after hearing this one, but you won’t have to to understand what’s happening.

In a nutshell, here’s the plot:
On Amazonia, they have a very unique way of replacing their queen. They clone her. The first attempt to clone the current queen fails, so they toss the baby out and try again… only the clone survives. Fast forward several years, and the flawed clone (who obviously survives) gets Anne Manx to help her get back to Amazonia. Woven throughout this is the rich, ongoing story of the conflict between Anne Manx and Richmond, her evil nemesis.

Anne Manx is played by Claudia Christian, of Babylon 5 fame. Richmond is played by Patricia Tallman, who was also on Babylon 5. Both of these actresses succeed in bringing their characters to vibrant life. The queen and her two clones were played by Barbara Harris, who was simply wonderful. I never had a problem distinguishing which character was speaking – they were three distinct people. I don’t doubt that Barbara Harris would make a superior audiobook narrator if she ever chose to try it.

To the great performances and excellent script add the sheer quality of production. RRCA is producing quality entertainment.

Anne Manx on Amazonia is funny, action-packed, and touching. Fine writing, a wonderful cast, and first-rate production make this the best installment in the Anne Manx series. Don’t miss it!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson