Everybody’s talking about podcasting these days, e…

SFFaudio News

Everybody’s talking about podcasting these days, either that or starting their own and then talking about it. We’ve collected some resources for the Science Fiction and Fantasy audio fan who is finally ready for the MP3 experimentation to begin…

The Dragon Page
A long running Arizona radio show has transitioned from mere frequency and amplitude modulations to the exciting world of Podcasting! But in a disturbing turn it has started to multiply at a truly alarming rate! The Dragon Page has spawned three, count em three, podcasts and a number of spin-off serial novels. Will they become the Walmart of SF & F podcasting? Tune in and see…

Cover to Cover
A podcast with a literary science fiction and fantasy bent, authors are interviewed frequently, hosted by Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra.

Slice of Sci Fi
A podcast with a spec fic media and Star Trek bent, hosted by Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra.

Wingin’ It
Two bent SF & F geeks, Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra, podcasting without a net.

Evo Terra came up with the term, “Podiobooks”, for serially podcast audiobooks and he’s built a site showcasing four spec fic novels that are doing just that, the first three were associated with The Dragon Page prior to the the creation of the Podiobooks site, but they’ve generously included a fourth independent author’s “podiobook” there too:

MOREVI: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana
Tee Morris and Lisa Lee’s paperbook novel Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana gets serially podcast with Tee Morris reading and engineering.

Earthcore, Scott Sigler’s geology and mining centered novel is being serially podcast. It plays out like a technothriller in the vein of a Lincoln Child novel only far, far angrier. Sigler reads it himself.

The Pocket and the Pendant, Mark Jeffrey’s young adult fantasy novel being serially podcast.

Tom Corven is a tale being written and read by Paul Story. Story (a pseudonym) originally hails from Scotland but he’s writing it in Split, Croatia and podcasting it serially from a cybercafe there.

Rev Up Review
British blogger and SF author Paul Jenkins’ new podcast sounds very promising indeed. His second podcast carefully surveys what’s available in the speculative fiction podcast field and what of it is worth listening to. He’s also reading his short story “The Journey of Jonathan Cave”, but part one starts with his first “experimental” podcast so be sure to check that one out first.

The Seanachai
Thanks to Paul S. Jenkins for finding this one. The Seanachai is a “weekly(ish)” podcast of dramatic storytelling and commentary by Patrick E. McLean.
Funny fantasy so far!

Nuketown Radio Active
Speculative fiction reviews from “a geek dad”. Includes movie, book, game, comic book, web site and podcasts reviews.

The Comic Geeks
A podcast about comic books, toys, memorabilia, science fiction and more.

SFSite.com Podcasts
MP3 reviews of audiobooks!

Matamea Rising
“A fictional serialized radio show”. Despite that description this radio style serial actually exists!

“Next, I Hem a Cyclic Door”
A project using “podcasting”, comic book panels and video to tell an episodic science-fiction story across different mediums. A collaboration between comic book artist Tim Dedman and Code Owl Productions founder Gabriel Walsh. Dedman and Walsh exchange scripts and execute each other’s idea.

Have we missed a podcast? Let us know!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Comic Book: The Movie

Science Fiction AudiobooksComic Book: The Movie
Written & Directed by Mark Hamill; Performed by a Full Cast
DVD Video Special Feature – 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED
Publisher: Miramax
Published: 2004
UPC: 786936230635
Themes: / Superhero / Comics / Fantasy / Humor /

The fictional Golden Age superhero Commander Courage is without doubt the greatest hero in comics for obsessed High School teacher Don Swan (Mark Hamill) in the mockumentary called Comic Book: The Movie. While the movie itself is well worth viewing it is one of the extra features on this 2 disc DVD set that is the most interesting for us: An original radio script supposedly first broadcast in the mid-forties, entitled “The Origin Of Commander Courage”. As most of the cast of Comic Book the movie is made up of animation voice talent they decided to do a dramatic “re-creation” of the script during a panel at the 2002 San Diego Comic Con. This brief origin story tells how Commander courage first got his unique super powers. The voice talent includes: Gary Owens (Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost), Maurice Lamarche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama), Bob Paulsen (Animaniacs, The Tick) and Jim Cummings (The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Shrek)! Video of the recording session is provided as well but we’re asked to imagine sitting with our families gathered around an old Philco Radio, tuning in to the first ever broadcast of the “Commander Courage Radio Show”‘. The script is ridiculous, but then so were most of the origin stories of 1940s superheroes. The live audience laughs as the casts takes liberties with the script and improvise their own sound effects. Well worth a look and a listen!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond

BBC Radio Drama - Superman: Doomsday and BeyondThe Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0563401974
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1993
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics /

A review by Jake Black

In my previous review I talked about my experience with Superman, and that it was the reason that I’m doing these Superman-related reviews for SFFAudio. This week’s covers the 1993 audio play Superman: Doomsday and Beyond which dramatically retells the story of Superman’s death and return. I have to admit that I know this story inside out. It was what got me really reading comics, and especially familiar with the Superman comics. Since then, I have heavily followed them.

The story covers over 1000 comic book pages. I was skeptical as to whether or not the audio play could handle such a lengthy story in two cassettes. The play gives it a noble try, and succeeds – mostly. The “death” portion (the epic battle with the demonic Doomsday) is given very little attention. It doesn’t seem as intense as the comics did. It almost cheapens the death of the Man of Steel. Similarly the funeral portion is dramatically edited from the comic book version.

However, the “return” stuff is very loyal to the source material. It covers all of tape two, and approximately a quarter of tape 1. Some of the comic book elements, like the superhero mourning, and Lois’ encounter by the “sympathetic” Jed, were cut from the tapes for time reason, and while they aren’t necessarily missed on the tapes, though they do add a lot to the comics. One very importance difference is the absence of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Jordan’s involvement in the story set his character’s evolution in motion such that we are just now seeing the end of it in the white-hot Green Lantern Rebirth story, currently published by DC. But, the story is handled well. And it does include some cool moments from the comics prior to this story like Lois’ and Clark’s engagement, and how “they saved Luthor’s brain” to clone him (which is also still an important story in the comics.)

The overall sound is great. Like the previous Superman audio play, these tapes sound great on all of the different players on which I played them. Loaded with sound effects, which mostly sound great, there are a couple of irritations: Superman’s heat vision is an annoying buzz like those cheap ray guns that you’d get from the grocery store for $1.49; and the alien ruler Mongul’s ship is full of travel alarm-clock buzzing.

The voice actors are fantastic, as well. Superman’s voice is a bit too tenor-ish, but I’m getting pretty used to it. The rest of the characters sound great – especially the Australian Lex Luthor II, the new “Man of Steel” John Henry Irons, and the nefarious Cyborg. The only huge complaint I have of the voices is Superboy’s – the teenage clone of Superman. It is clearly an adult trying his best to sound 16 – but it becomes a really bad, really irritating impression of Bill and Ted. It’s really awful!

With the mix of music, sound effects, and a talented cast of voice actors, these are a lot of fun. I enjoyed them more than the other “Adventures of Superman” audio play I listened to previously. I think that the storytelling method may be a bit confusing to people who aren’t familiar with Doomsday, the four false-Supermen, etc. but the overall story is fantastic. If nothing else, it is a great trip down memory lane for a Superman fan who loves this story!

This review is copyright 2005 by Jake Black. You can find out more about Jake at his website, http://www.jakeblack.com.

Review of The Adventures of Superman

Science Fiction Audio Review

Fantasy Audio Drama - The Adventures of SupermanThe Adventures of Superman
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 056339370X
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1994
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics /

A review by Jake Black

I’m not really an avid listener of the sci-fi audio, and so it was a bit of a surprise to be invited to write two reviews for SFFAudio. However, the two they asked me to do focus on Superman, and that is a subject with which I am extremely familiar. I have spent the last three plus years working as a contributing writer for the official web sites for Smallville, wrote an issue of the comic series based on that show, and have worked on a ton of assorted academic and comic-related projects centered on the Man of Steel.

This week we’re beginning my reviews with an evaluation of the BBC Radio play The Adventures of Superman. Created in 1994 for radio airplay across the pond, the audio play was presented on two cassettes with a total running time of over two-and-a-half hours. The story is lifted straight from the comic books of 1986-87; a series called Man of Steel written by John Byrne, which relaunched Superman from the beginning. It is Superman from his first appearance in Metropolis. He meets Lois Lane and Lex Luthor for the first time. He discovers the origins of his powers, and creates the dual identity to help others. He fights street thugs, the Kryptonite-infested Metallo, the failed clone Bizarro, all the while trying to bring down the corporate magnate Lex Luthor.

The dialog and story are nearly completely lifted from the comics word for word, albeit with the occasional addition of descriptive dialog to help the listener imagine what everything looks like – clothing etc. While I understand the necessity for such expositional dialog on the tapes, it was a bit cheesy – “How could anyone dress like that, with tan pants and a black t-shirt!” etc.

The voice talent used for the play are all very talented, and create captivating characters with their voices. Nearly all of them match very closely with the voices I’d created for characters like Lois Lane, Jonathan and Martha Kent, and Lex Luthor, while the menacing Metallo and Bizarro are both well cast, too. The only voice I really didn’t like much Clark Kent/Superman played by Stuart Mulligan. While he does his best to drop his voice when he is Superman, it is too high a tenor voice to be taken seriously as either character from the beginning. Lana Lang (voiced by Shelley Thompson) is also a bit of a disappointment as she is a bit too much of a “southern belle” to be from Kansas. But, perhaps, that is due to this being a British piece with actors not knowing the distinctive regional dialects for the USA.

The play is full of nice additions, like sound effects for everything – footsteps, car horns, police sirens, gunshots, etc. However, the sound effect given to Superman’s heat vision is awful. It is similar to the little ray guns that light up and you can buy at the grocery store for a dollar. In spite of this one set back, the mix between dialog, music, and sound effects is perfect. I played it on several different players, and in all cases – including the car – the sound was pure, crisp, and all around nice. It didn’t need an extra boost of volume from any of the players I listened to.

All in all, if you are a Superman, these tapes are a lot of fun. Non-Superman fans may not enjoy them quite as much, but they do provide a good introduction to the character, his background, and his friends and enemies. I’m not totally convinced that they will bring new converts to the ways of the Last Son of Krypton, but they are, overall, entertaining, faithful to the subject matter, and well produced.

This review is copyright 2005 by Jake Black. You can find out more about Jake at his website, http://www.jakeblack.com.

Review of The Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Superman
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
ISBN: 056339370X
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1994
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics / Audio Drama /

This BBC radio drama (originally heard on BBC Radio 1 FM) tells the story of Superman from his first appearance in the skies to his battles with Lex Luthor, The Bizarro Superman, and Metallo. Dirk Maggs adapted and directed the script, from stories written by John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, and Jerry Ordway, published by DC Comics.

The production is strikingly effective. On the back cover of the package, it says, “A movie without pictures – you won’t believe your ears!” That’s not rhetoric – this audio drama plays exactly like a movie. Scene changes are made, setting is established, and special effects all executed with sound. With headphones on and eyes closed, you can practically see the screen in front you. And the acting is uniformly excellent. Remarkable!

I enjoyed the production much more than I expected to, because not only did it sound great, the story was great too. The tale begins with the first appearance of Superman as he saves a supersonic jet from destruction. From there, Clark Kent sets up his alter ego, dons his costume, then spends the rest of the story fighting Lex Luthor (and his creations) while discovering his own origins. The entire thing was executed brilliantly, and the result is a production that I enjoyed more than any Superman film I’ve seen.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson