LibriVox: The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxThe prospect of listening to an amateur narration of an audiobook may not get your shaft cranking but perhaps that’s because you haven’t yet found the right one. Here’s an older LibriVox recording, one that’s made many a listener happy. Alex Foster’s English accent is perfectly aligned for a reading of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells – so much so that nobody haas bothered recording another version for LibriVox! This is something rather unusual on LibriVox – at least for a work as famous as The Invisible Man!

LibriVox - The Invisible Man by H.G. WellsThe Invisible Man
By H.G. Wells; Read by Alex Foster
13 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: 2006
The Invisible Man (1897) is one of the most famous science fiction novels of all time. Written by H.G. Wells (1866-1946), it tells the story of a scientist who discovers the secret of invisibility and uses it on himself. The story begins as the Invisible Man, with a bandaged face and a heavy coat and gloves, takes a train to lodge in a country inn whilst he tries to discover the antidote and make himself visible again. The book inspired several films and is notable for its vivid descriptions of the invisible man–no mean feat, given that you can’t see him!

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Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of FALCO: Venus In Copper – a RADIO DRAMA

Aural Noir: Review

BBC Audio - Venus In Copper - based on the novel by Lindsey DavisSFFaudio EssentialFalco: Venus In Copper
Based on the novel by Lindsey Davis; Performed by a full cast
3 CDs or Audible Download – Approx. 3 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Publisher: BBC Audio /
Published: July 2006
ISBN: 1846071399
Themes: / Crime / Ancient Rome / Detective / Murder / Noir /
Sample: MP3

“Greetings! Marcus Didius Falco at your service, private informer, investigator to you. If you need references ask the emperor. I’ve just done a big job for him. It went very well, so well his chief spy got jealous and threw me in prison, accused me of stealing some imperial lead. Those ingots are going to haunt me forever. I’d have given them the money if anyone had bothered to ask. Still it wasn’t all bad rotting in jail. I had company, a very friendly rat. But before I had time to get to know him better my mother bailed me out.”

Marcus Didius Falco is the central character and narrator of Venus In Copper (the third in a series of novels by Lindsey Davis). Falco’s narration and dialogue is sprinkled with half-nods and sly-winks to the private detective stories of the 20th century. At least one or two lines out of Falco’s mouth each episode echoes something from Chandler, Chinatown or another quip you’ll half recognize. Falco lives in 70’s AD Rome under the rule of Emperor Vespasian. He works as a ‘private informer’ solving mysteries for the citiy’s elites or the nouveau riche freed slaves. That latter is the case with this mystery, concerning the investigation of a black widow set to marry into a rich family made up of freed slaves. The serpentine plot takes the fore of the drama with Davis and dramatist Mary Cutler (a friend of Davis’s) beeing careful to detail Falco’s personal life just enough to make us care about them all. I mentioned that the program seems to delight in referencing the 20th century private detective story. But it also seems highly interested in showing us actual historical 1st century AD detail. The feel for Rome itself, the interplay between fact actually informs the plot – how wonderful and refreshing for a historical mystery! Te program is both comforting in its familiarity and simultaneously fascinating in its new setting. The characters are likewise familiar and new. Venus In Copper is wonderful.

Anton Lesser, playing Falco, is absolutely extraordinary, carrying the program to the heights of radio drama excellence. Anna Madeley, playing Falco’s aristocratic girlfriend, is also amazing. In fact the entire cast does excellent work. Falco’s world is depicted with a rich soundscape with atmospheric effects and well themed music. The only flaw in the entire production was an artificial sounding talking parrot – but then again I don’t think I’ve ever heard a convincing talking parrot imitation. The program is available in stereo on CD or (occasionally via BBC iplayer) or in monaural via Highly recommended.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake

Aural Noir: Review

BBC Audiobooks America - The Cutie by Donald E. WestlakeHard Case CrimeSFFaudio EssentialThe Cutie
By Donald E. Westlake; Read by Stephen R. Thorne
Audible Download – Approx. 5 Hours 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America /
Published: March 2009
Themes: / Mystery / Crime / Noir / Murder / New York /

“Mavis St. Paul had been a rich man’s mistress. Now she was a corpse. And every cop in New York City was hunting for the two-bit punk accused of putting a knife in her. But the punk was innocent. He’d been set up to take the fall by some cutie who was too clever by half. My job? Find that cutie – before the cutie found me.”

That’s Clay, the strong right arm of Ed Ganolese, talking above. Ed’s a NYC syndicate boss. The mob may have old roots but the syndicate, the crop of gangsters in this novel, only goes as far back as WWII. See during the show in Italy a bunch of D-Day Dodging G.I.s found themselves allied with some old-world black marketeers. And now, twenty or so years later, in the 1960s those bonds lead Clay down strange alleys. He’s forced to turn amateur detectivewhich is something new for a mob enforcer. But his boss Ed, but you call him Mr. Ganolese, is under the squeeze from the “parent company” in Italy. And when Ed asks, Clay does. So, Clay takes the case. He needs to solve the frame-up murder put over on a low level pusher named Billy Billy. Billy Billy is innocent – everyone knows he wouldn’t harm a fly – but the cops like him for the murder. And it looks bad for Billy Billy because he woke-up from his heroin induced stupor in the middle of the murder scene. Everyone knows he’s innocent, Ed knows, Clay knows but the cops, well they just don’t care. Since Billy is someone’s patsy and just a hair’s-breadth ahead of the law that means Clay has really got his work cut-out for him.

I had previously read the paperbook of this novel, but not with the Hard Case Crime title of The Cutie. When I read it originally the novel was called The Mercenaries. The strange thing is that the title seems to have influenced my opinion as to the character of the book, maybe its a combination of things. The title and the way it was read. When I first read the novel about five or six years ago I would have classified it as a rather dark, but with this new title, new cover art (by Ken Laager), and the brightly lit voice acting by Stephen R. Thorne it comes off as surprisingly light. Almost a caper in fact. Part of of it must also be because The Cutie is told in first-person from Clay’s point of view. Narrator Thorne brings a youthful confidence to the part (something my inner voice apparently didn’t). But, it’s still strange how Clay is really a cold blooded and murderous thug – Westlake gives him an excellent backstory. But then again perhaps I’m still hearing Thorne’s reading of Somebody Owes Me Money |READ OUR REVIEW|. The Cutie is fully utterly engaging, I found myself trying to solve the central mystery again, all the while marveling at Westlake’s masterful storytelling. The Cutie is a gritty, fast paced, and well plotted murder mystery with a highly unusual criminal/detective lead. If you haven’t tried a Westlake novel before this, now and with The Cutie is your perfect place to start – this was Donald Westlake’s first novel under his real name.

Posted by Jesse Willis

DRT Summer Showcase #3: The Knightmare

SFFaudio News

And here are details from the first of Decoder Ring Summer Showcase #3‘s program…

The Knightmare by Bill Cunningham

The man behind this production, Bill Cunningham, says that “The Knightmare is a hero cut from the same cloth as The Shadow or The Green Hornet.” Not unlike Decoder Ring’s Red Panda himself! In this 2-part episode, The Knightmare is fighting Hollywood gangsters, Hollywood cops and Nazis (probably not from Hollywood). Unlike RP this story is set in Los Angeles.

The KnightmareThe Knightmare (The Murder Legion Strikes at Midnight)
By Bill Cunningham; Performed by a full cast
2 Parts – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: May 30th, 2009 & June 6th, 2009

Podcast feed:

Here’s a downloadable sample from the intro to the show |MP3| and |HERE| is the full press release.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 012

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 012Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 012
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

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LibriVox Science Fiction - As Long As You Wish by John O'KeefeAs Long As You Wish
By John O’Keefe; Read by Joelle Peebles
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
From Astounding Science Fiction, June, 1955.
If, somehow, you get trapped in a circular time system . . . how long is the circumference of an infinitely retraced circle?

LibriVox - The Big Fix by George O. SmithThe Big Fix
By George O. Smith; Read by Alan Winterrowd
1 |MP3| – Approx. 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
Anyone who holds that telepathy and psi powers would mean an end to crime quite obviously underestimates the ingenuity of the human race. Now consider a horserace that had to be fixed…
From Astounding Science Fiction December 1959.

Future Science Fiction No. 30, 1956The Fourth Invasion
By Henry Josephs; Read by Tibbi Scott
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
Psychopathology has offered possible answers to why, from time to time, people in large quantities “see” strange things in the sky which manage to evade trained scientific observers, or conform to what is known about the behavior of falling or flying bodies. And mass hysteria is by no means a product of the present century. But—what if these human foibles were deliberately being exploited? From Future Science Fiction No. 30 1956.

By Jack London; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009

LibriVox - The Man Who Saw The Future by Edmond HamiltonThe Man Who Saw The Future
By Edmond Hamilton; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
“Jean de Marselait, Inquisitor Extraordinary of the King of France, raised his head from the parchments that littered the crude desk at which he sat. His glance shifted along the long stone-walled, torchlit room to the file of mail-clad soldiers who stood like steel statues by its door. A word from him and two of them sprang forward.” First published in Amazing Stories, October 1930. Later reprinted in the February 1961 issue of Amazing Stories.

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Nothing Equation by Tom GodwinThe Nothing Equation
By Tom Godwin; Read by Janet Moursund
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
From Amazing Stories December 1957. The space ships were miracles of power and precision; the men who manned them, rich in endurance and courage. Every detail had been checked and double checked; every detail except—

LibriVox - The Putnam Tradition by Sonya DormanThe Putnam Tradition
By Sonya Dorman; Read by Tibbi Scott
1 |MP3| -Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
Through generations the power has descended, now weaker, now stronger. And which way did the power run in the four-year-old in the garden, playing with a pie plate? From Amazing Stories January 1963.

Astounding Stories November 1932A Scientist Rises
By D.W. Hall; Read by David Adamson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
All gazed, transfixed, at the vast form that towered above them. From the November 1932 issue of Astounding Stories.

The Shadow And the Flash
By Jack London; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 34 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009

LibriVox - We Didn't Do Anything Wrong, Hardly by Roger KuykendallWe Didn’t Do Anything Wrong, Hardly
By Roger Kuykendall; Read by Joelle Peebles
1 |MP3| – Approx. 8 Hours 55 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 12, 2009
After all—they only borrowed it a little while, just to fix it— From Astounding Science Fiction May 1959.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of This Won’t Kill You by Rex Stout

Aural Noir: Review

DH Audio Mystery Audiobook - This Won’t Kill You by Rex StoutThis Won’t Kill You
By Rex Stout; Read by David Elias
1 Cassette – Approx. 60 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: DH Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0886468655
Themes: / Mystery / Murder / Crime / Baseball /

Nero Wolfe couldn’t care less about baseball, even the World Series final game–until four players are drugged. Now a team’s chances, and maybe their star players, are dead. Evidence is hard to find, so Archie Goodwin dodges fists and acid while the boss keeps one little secret from the police.

There’s a whole team of suspects for Nero Wolfe to confront in this peppy locked stadium mystery.

Narator David Elias is terrific, filling his lungs for the resonant corpulence of Wolfe’s voice, then higher pitching and faster talking-it for the energetic Archie Goodwin. As well, Elias offers many variation’s on accents and voices for the numerous other minor characters filling out this novelette. He also ain’t bad with a falsetto. The abridgment is very skillful. Rex Stout’s plots are often highly complex, and can lead a reader to be confused as it is. Whatever was expunged for this edition, this audiobook abridgment is easy to follow.

Posted by Jesse Willis