Review of Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer

SFFaudio Review

Beginning the fourth week of this SFFaudio 7th Anniversary Story-a-Day Celebration! Be careful out there…

Science Fiction Audiobook - Identity Theft by Robert J. SawyerIdentity Theft
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by Anthony Heald
2 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9781441716729
Themes: / Science Fiction / Robots / Consciousness / Mystery / Detectives /

This is a great story. It originally appeared in Down These Dark Spaceways, and anthology edited by Mike Resnick and published by the Science Fiction Book Club. This version is read by Anthony Heald, a terrific narrator who was once the voice of choice for the Star Wars universe. He reads with energy and verve, great characterization and accents as needed.

Sawyer has said before that he feels that science fiction has more in common with the mystery genre than it does the fantasy genre, and this isn’t the first time he’s written an effective science fiction mystery. In the future Mars he presents, people can trade their bodies in for artificial ones, providing long life and more reliable body parts. The process requires making a copy of a person’s conscious mind, and imprinting that copy into the brain of the new body.

Like in many Sawyer stories, many of the implications of such a world are explored. What happens to the originals? What about unauthorized copies? In addition, there is a very interesting human settlement on Mars, and some fossil finding there. “Identity Theft” is a very entertaining novella, very well presented.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #041


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #041 – Jesse and Scott are joined by SF author Robert J. Sawyer to talk about his audiobooks, writing Science Fiction novels, and the TV show based on his novel FlashForward.

Talked about on today’s show:
FlashForward (the TV series), FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, Blackstone Audio, David S. Goyer, Marc Guggenheim, Jessika Borsiczky, Brannon Braga, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, does the TV show of FlashForward have a plan?, idea based SF, time travel, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells |READ OUR REVIEW|, differences between the television show and the novel versions of FlashForward, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven, philosophy in Science Fiction, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Jonathan Davis, Audible Frontiers, atheism and religion in SF, scientific institutions in Science Fiction, The Royal Ontario Museum, CERN, The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, science, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, Launchpad Astronomy Workshop, Edward M. Lerner, Joe Haldeman, science literacy amongst Science Fiction authors, Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross, post-singularity SF, Clarke’s Third Law, NASA Ames Research Center, TRIUMF, Human Genome Project, Neanderthal Genome Project, military SF, S.M. Stirling, Harry Turtledove, alternate history, consciousness, aliens, spaceship, time travel, the WWW trilogy,, Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer, Star Trek, alien aliens, Larry Niven, Niven’s aliens, Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer, how did fantasy and Science Fiction get lumped together? Donald A. Wollheim, dinosaurs, artificial intelligence, genetics, time travel, the Internet, quantum physics, CBC Radio’s version of Rollback, Alessandro Juliani.

Jessika Borsiczky on adapting the novel of FlashForward to television:

Trailer for Sawyer’s WWW trilogy:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Transition by Iain M. Banks

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Transition by Iain M. BanksTransition
By Iain M. Banks; Read by Peter Kenny
13.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alternate Realities / Consciousness / Culture /

It was my understanding that Iain Banks published his non-science fiction under this name and his science fiction as Iain M. Banks. I haven’t read any of his other books, despite having Consider Phlebas on my book shelf for the last twenty one years. After reading Transition that book has suddenly jumped a lot closer to actually getting read. Sadly it isn’t available in audio or it would be a done deal.

Transition tells the disjointed, non-linear story of Tumudjin Oh. Oh is one of the many agents for The Concern, an organisation that spans the multi-verse, also known in some realities as l’Expédience. His job involves traveling to different realities and performing a wide range of tasks. From leaving a leaflet so that someone will see it and change their life, or stopping someone from entering a building moments before is collapses and even outright assassination. Banks employs the Many-Worlds variant of alternate realities and the implications of what realities they do, and more importantly do not
encounter, are central to the core conflict. Travel between realities is not by means of a portal or vehicle, but by the use of a drug, septus. This allows individuals to send their personalities to different realities, where they take over the body of someone already there. Usually, the invaded body is of a similar age and body type, but that isn’t set in stone. Once in the host body, they have access to the skills, knowledge and languages of their host. Travel is not a there and back, but a never-ending series of forward jumps that periodically may return to previously visited realities, but not necessarily into the same host as before.

Oh is very much the pawn between the rival Madame d’Ortolan and Mrs Mulverhill. d’Ortolan is the unofficial head of l’Expédience, and is grooming Oh. Much as the rebel Mrs Mulverhill does. He has a small case of OCD that follows him from body to body, sometimes stronger than others. We follow Oh in the present as he is sent on a mission by Madam d’Ortolan and also flashbacks telling how he has come to this point. Mrs Mulverhill, always wearing a veil in whatever reality and
body she has, attempts to seduce Oh both physically and politically.

There are other view points that we cycled throughout the book. Some are told in the first-person, others in third. Patient 8262 is a Transitioner who has hidden himself in a clinic in a reality where he hopes to escape his mysterious pursuers. Madame d’Ortolan has plans concerning the governing Council of the Concern, which Mrs Mulverhill objects to. Oh, who’s points-of-view sections are titled The Transitionary, meets d’Ortolan and received his orders. There are also
points of views from other characters, including Adrian Cubbish, a drug dealer turned financier, who we comes from our own reality.

Banks’ explore a range of topics, particularly in their first person narrations, from Christian Terrorists, torture, limited liability companies and drugs. Adrian goes into detail about his love affair with Cocaine, comparing it to the variety of alternatives.

The several points of view, particularly the multiple first person narrators confused me at first. I had to replay the first chapter or so once I figured out what was happening. Listen out for those POV changes, they could have been made clearer with a slightly longer pause perhaps.

The narrator, Peter Kenny, is outstanding. You can hear the thought behind the intonation of every phrase. A very detailed and thought out narration. The high point for me was Bisquitine’s insane ramblings. Jumping accent and voice sentence by sentence to bring her madness to life. Yet he uses the technique to make a certain sense of the stream
of apparently random phrases. I’ll be looking out for more from this narrator, even out with the SF genre.

As I mentioned at the start, I’ve not read any of Bank’s work before. If Transition has taught me nothing, it’s that I’ve been sorely remiss in this. Transition is a very dense, detailed story. The scenes come to life in only a few words, Banks’ prose is a delight to read. I’m certain that I’ll appreciate it even more on a second, and probably a
third listen. I’m sure I’ll understand more of the depth of the plot and the character’s machinations. Banks doesn’t dwell on what makes each reality distinct. Experienced transitioners can sense the make up of a reality, and their almost check-list breakdown as they assimilate into their new host body covers it. The realities themselves aren’t the centre stage, the only exception is Calbefraques, the base reality of l’Expédience. Instead the story focuses on the character’s.

After my single listen, I’m not sure about some aspects of the story, such as why so much time was spent with some characters. Adrian in particular, but also Patient 8262. Not that these sections weren’t entertaining, but I struggle to see what their character’s were contributing. Patient 8262 at least provided exposition on Transitioning and the setting as a whole, and so served as an overall narrator of sorts.

An engrossing listen that appeals to my love of complexity and traveling amongst alternate realities. Highly recommended.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

The SFFaudio Podcast #036


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #036 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Julie of Forgotten Classics to talk with Allan Kaster, the editor of Infinivox’s new audiobook anthology: The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction! We discuss this terrific audiobook, in depth, as well as a few other new releases and recent arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
Infinivox (an imprint of Audiotext), biology, study guides, chemistry, Great Science Fiction Stories, Bioware (from medical software to video games), Mass Effect, The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction, A Walk In The Sun by Geoffrey A. Landis |READ OUR REVIEW|, Guest Of Honor by Robert Reed, The Shobies’ Story by Ursula K. Le Guin, Hollywood Kremlin by Bruce Sterling, immortality, Hard SF, Robert Reed, vampires are rather liberal (for being immortal), Five Thrillers by Robert Reed, sociopathy, Ted Chiang, StarShipSofa’s (#88) interview with Ted Chiang, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, consciousness, souls, religion, transcendence, Ray Gun: A Love Story by James Alan Gardner, meta-science fictional stories, “ray guns and spaceships”, Adrift by Scott D. Danielson, World Of The Ptavvs by Larry Niven, Star Trek Animated Series (The Slaver Weapon), “The Soft Weapon” by Larry Niven, romance, Galileo’s Children: Tales of Science vs. Superstition edited by Gardner Dozois, The Dream Of Reason by Jeffrey Ford, The Empire Of Ice Cream by Jeffrey Ford, The Dreaming Wind by Jeffrey Ford (on StarShipSofa AD #75), sense of wonder, 26 Monkeys, Also The Abyss by Kij Johnson, Fantasy vs. Science Fiction, Mini-Masterpieces Of Science Fiction, The Gambler by Paolo Bacigalupi, Fast Forward 2, Fencon 2009 (Dallas, TX), Aliens Rule edited by Alan Kaster, How Music Begins by James Van Pelt, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Laws Of Survival by Nancy Kress, City Of The Dead by Paul McAuley, Shoggoths In Bloom by Elizabeth Bear, H.P. Lovecraft, lovecraftian homage, we need an audio collection of stories inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, frontier, space western, archaeology, aliens, Ray Bradbury, Mrs. Carstairs And The Merman by Delia Sherman, Dercum Audio, 1930s, 19th century, sea creatures, squids, Greg Egan, Peter Watts, The Art of Alchemy by Ted Kosmatka, industrial espionage, The N Word by Ted Kosmatka, Seeds Of Change edited by John Joseph Adams, future releases from Infinivox, Infinivox on, Mike Resnick’s Kirinyaga cycle, Guest Law by John C. Wright, Beggars In Spain by Nancy Kress, physics, pirates, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Charles Stross, Antibodies, Lobsters, A Colder War, The Chief Designer by Andy Duncan |READ OUR REVIEW|, Michael Swanwick, The Edge Of The World by Michael Swanwick, The Griffin’s Egg by Michael Swanwick, the state of the magazine industry, Fast Forward 2, Sidewise In Time, Eclipse 2, Extraordinary Engines, Penguin Audio, Level 26: Dark Origins by Anthony E. Zuiker and Duane Swierczynski, Brilliance Audio, The Beastmaster by Andre Norton, Richard J. Brewer, Audible Frontiers, The Short Victorious War by David Weber, The Rise Of Endymion by Dan Simmons, caterbury tales in space, Luke Burrage’s SFBRP on the Hyperion series, Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas on Simmons’ Hyperion series, Ilium by Dan Simmons, The Terror by Dan Simmons, novella length stories, Escape Route by Peter F. Hamilton, a recent interview with Audible’s founder, The Law Of Nines by Terry Goodkind, Mark Deakins, Rammer by Larry Niven, narrator Pat Bottino, the MP3-CD format vs the CD format, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, Robert J. Sawyer, Man Plus by Frederik Pohl

Posted by Jesse Willis