The SFFaudio Podcast #488 – READALONG: Dune (Book III of III) by Frank Herbert

August 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #488 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Bryan Alexander, and Will talk about Dune: Book III “The Prophet” by Frank Herbert aka the third third of Dune.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965, The Santaroga Barrier, El Santos!, Luke Burrage, the worst part of the book, good stuff in here, amazing, stupendous, and really good, not spectacular, the most spectacular, man to man, a knife fight, the sparkling knife fights of conversation, reading the books for the action, an idea person, heavy on the ideas, the setup, the culmination, splayed out, family atomics, Paul’s analysis, which baby to never see again, it isn’t a Dune problem it’s an every book problem, who wants answers?, Herbert’s answers, it can’t exist without the other two, the only movie we should ever talk about, the scenes, the dialogue is all there, what’s missing, there’s a gun that doesn’t go off, very strange, the gun of Count Fenring, denouement, a friend of an emperor, Fenring vs. Paul, “Count Fenring: A Profile”, within his capabilities, not about Paul, this is Count Fenring’s book, this guy’s the one guy that’s never been in my vision, a lot of promise, what kind of power is it going to be?, the power of invisibility, Kwisatz Haderach, Jesse’s twitter profile, who Jesse modeled himself after, I don’t want that mantle, about the accretion of power, why Dune Messiah is such a fantastic book, private language, they did seduce Feyd, the Imperium beyond the Harkonnens, Russian Czar’s abdication, even if Fenring could defeat and kill Paul it wouldn’t stop anything, tapping into the collective consciousness, a Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Handerson quadrology, no attempt has ever been completed, walking wounded, sterile, a could-have-been, a powerless eunuch, forty or fifty pages where Paul isn’t mentioned, worldbuilding, Leto II, Alia lives, seeing all ends, the surfer on the wave, a lot of smart folks anticipating, the flags, C.H.O.A.M. or U.N., does that mean the bombs don’t hurt?, cover, saves the emperor’s life, a beautiful cruel joke, to reign in Hell, soft and wonderful, straight from the Iliad, too comfortable, from their decadence, a callback to the Trojan War, rest and pay taxes, Ottoman Janissaries, going crazy without a purpose, all the what ifs, suppose Paul dies, kill the rest of the universe, a tyrannical genocide, let’s go conquer the galaxy, destroy the spice, galactic civilization collapses, interstellar society, the best possible outcome, a Boethian decision, Book II, parallel structure, ooh I’m smart, happy birthday, it makes you feel like a supergenius, plans within plans feints within feints, combat to the death, another parallel, Feyd tries to take the Baron’s position, Thufir’s blindside, the Baron is so lovably evil (and competent), make Arrakis great again?, gluttonous lust, the slaveboy with a posion stinger in his thigh, let Feyd think that I saw it myself, actually I’m the smart one, Nefud, you still need me, I’m going to show you still need me, I’m going to remember this, the next scene that we never see, killing his harem, to take his punishment, Alia sting, Stilgar’s challenge for Paul’s leadership, should I cut off my right arm, so well highlighted, a fear-power relationship vs. a love-power relationship, the Baron hates truthsayers, the Bush administration, it could be true that’s good enough, truth means nothing, for the sake of tradition, ride the maker, this idea of history or necessity, bought a Bene Gesserit, you pay for that Amazon Echo dot but Amazon should be paying you, you know my tastes, I’m totally gay, the straight up interpretation, I don’t want them spying on me and manipulating me, on the Kinsey scale, other ways of getting semen, one would be valuable for…, advice, I trust them not, changing the subject, when Thufir has a fight with the Baron, there are things that you don’t need to know, Salusa Secundus, that tiny little fact (that the Baron wanted to turn the Arrakis into a prison planet), you fucked up, Rabban has to be cut off, the whole of the missing years, at least three years, the toddler, to save himself from the emperor, how the sardaukar are created, a spare heir, acting instinctually smartly, a political calculation that saves the Emperor’s life, to tame Thufir Hawat, making all the right chess moves, the Baron’s fate is not as forseeable, Baron Harkonnen did nothing wrong!, shall I dispatch her now Emperor, a victory for her brother, the revenge, kills her own grandfather, justice, this poor Baron, still ends up dead, a brilliance to this, easy to dismiss, everybody here is a monster, you should be afraid of Paul, Gurney gets an Earldom, and every surviving Atredies gets a title, Baronets all over the place, massive reward, this victory, the prophet Mohamed, all the Muslim lands, satrapys, Alexander the Great, Leopold II, plundering Africa, squeezing and squeezing, always a touch of the calculated, not from the heart, wanting everyone loyal, I NEED him, he’s a tool, forget the equipment, we need men now, like in the first book, shortly thereafter, not what the old Atredies would have done, regretting the loss of the equipment, the men vs. the equipment, nicely balanced parallel, the appeal of Paul, one of many many games, a fantastic power fantasy, Slan, the X-Men, Kyle MacLachlan, master of the universe, age 14, Achilles was 17 in the Iliad, cheeks too full for the desert, seductive, quietly undermining, if Aragorn was the main character in The Lord Of The Rings, Voltaire, tend your own garden, Irulan, how cruel Paul is to Irulan, I’m gonna treat her so bad baby!, Irulan plotting to kill Paul, the ultimate internal question, religion and politics in the same cart, the ultimate power fantasy for Paul, this quote is fantastic, treating Herbert as non-fiction, the Amish, that orthodox effort, that moment of peace for Paul and Chani, quiet hypocrisy, “terrible purpose” is repeated 23 times, another change, feeling it, a nice lady who has a little test for a little boy, the heat and pain pile, an iconic scene for all of science fiction, I see the truth of it, explosion of realization in the mental sphere, a drug book, Gaius Helen Mohiam appears like a witch, kind of kind, wench poured my water, her apprentice, you disobeyed your orders, until she shows up here at the end, how is she depicted, this child is an abomination!, is it TP? telepathy?, just like when I was getting consciousness uploaded when I was a girl, is she wrong?, mom shouldn’t do drugs when she is pregnant, making the sacrifice, child genius, leading a regiment at age 3, she’s meant to be the bad guy, we’re supposed to recoil, the coming jihad, only a glimpse, the dark future, this desert power, addicted to oil, solar power, Dune solved, when they go too far, only spice powered, no solar, no wind, cutting-off avenues of caught, Jesse is not Elon Musk’s team, artificial intelligence, AI as a weapon, hippy dippy engineering sociologist anthropology guy, terraforming, this is about O.P.E.C., the Hudson’s Bay Company or the East India Company, his stock in CHOAM is forfeit, brutal indignity, title rich and money poor, the role of oil, Butlerian Jihad as a useful phrase, techlash, jihad is not a word that sells well today, biased data, accentuating inequalities, dreadful flavour, future history, Isaac Asimov’s future history, tinkering back towards that, cast away AIs, the decline of Empire, science as priesthoods, that last Cold War, Giving Up The Gun by Noel Perrin, banning crossbows, giving up nuclear stockpiles, blew their noses off, high technology and its opposite, star spanning starcraft and medieval style politics, how Marissa’s games match her audiobooks, Horizon Zero Dawn, a robot safari, retreating from technology, ruins are computer screens, going back to the Amish, Mennonites, weird policy, no electricity, airpower, blenders running on compressed air, technological policies, what are the ramifications of this technology, landline telephones, cellphone technology, Africa’s wired cellular wallets, digital currency based on cellphone credits, what technology will be useful, Canada’s participation in NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, WarGames (1983), nukes, we took the missiles but not the nuclear tips, Defense Minister and Prime Minster of Canada, advice on top secret stuff, managing treaties, political cost, being in NORAD, Iceland’s invasion during WWII, you can have your country back, a giant bully south of the border, obey the will of the giant country, John Diefenbaker, John F. Kennedy, what Syria is all about, the White Helmets, no giant surprise, an actual machine out there doing work, get on board or find a path through, the Bomarc Missile Crisis, the joint strike fighter debacle, if you look at the history of Canada in the right way, a positive force, Pierre Eliot Trudeau was paling around with Castro, a true image, Cuban doctors, plot machinations in the book mirroring a reality happening in the nows, mushrooms, more Marissa territory, hanging out with that worm, a coma for three weeks, some trip, time opening up, a sniff of a new drug, Feyd’s knife’s poison is transmuted, “poison” appears 117 times in Dune, chief poisoner, the Russian doping epidemic, bend over comrade, early on in book three, she took the coffee and sipped it, Frank Herbert’s at a rock concert, tripping out on the floor is transmuting, hot and delicious, room service, heaven for Jessica, she had thought of coffee and it had appeared, Tau, the subtle poison of the spice diet, enlightenment, their minds rejected what they could not encompass, more Slan, the guide, guided through the trip, Joe Rogan, taking the arrogance out of it, training, the etymology of psychedelic, psyche = soul/mind, delos = clarity/manifest, no mischaracterization, pattern recognition enhancement, seeming like a truth, the way the birds fly, “truth” is in the book 90 times, “pattern” comes up 48 times, the pre-spice mass, gathering up the magic mushrooms, a convenience, metaphorical, the power to destroy a thing is the power to control it, heavy shit, super-dark, science fiction genre history, partaking in jaspers, not the full-dune effect, amphetamines or coffee, town awareness, telepathy, drugs as a huge theme, stimulants, barefoot in the head, Robert Silverberg, Norman Spinrad, 1980, super-anti drugs, an exponent of coffee, Neuromancer, case is strung out all the time, reflecting what was happening in the culture, his case officer, Armitage implants a drug neutralizer, the ultimate solution for Reagan, The Hellgramite Method, how Keith Moon of The Who died, suicide, how science fiction shifts, innerspace going from biological to cyberspace, dated in interesting ways, the role of gender, Planet Of The Apes (1963), where Paul rides the sandworm, making the models feel realistic and big, the worm as a dragon, the Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe, much of madness more of sin, coffin worm of a dead world, a man making a steed out of a giant god, Reading, Short And Deep, Strange Exodus, gutted cosmic carcass, primal lust, humanity becomes a parasite, the image of man conquering death, it looks like a shot from Dune, a flea on a dog, the ecology, threatening a chain reaction, destroying all the oil like Saddam Huessein during the first Gulf War, not an atomic model, oil and drugs, Jessica’s power to transmute, a superhero story, Doc Savage stuff, if you’re anxious about your body, why Bryan doesn’t like the Lynch movie, minute operations, a weirding module defense in The Appendix show, that interior way, the women dare not look in that place, a place that women can’t go, the balance of the force, controlling the gender of their babies, controlling ovulation, super-yoga, a superpower, ultradiscipline, she didn’t seem to have an inner life, the women in here have huge inner lives, we spend a ton of time in Jessica’s mind, what’s going on in Paul’s mind, he becomes an enigma, the way Jordan Peterson talks about male and female minds, Jessica is a mom then she’s a reverend mom, Paul you do what’s good for you, is her mind expansion there a reflection, if men don’t have father figures, being raised by mothers alone, mothers want to protect their children, toughening, only giving into one instinct, having been tested, why the kwisatz haderach has to be male, the Y chromosome, how midwives are always women, midwives dudes, are male obstetricians uncool?, a caste based thing, training schools, Gurney even went to some school, the Suk school, training academies, he’s a mentat, who is the emperor’s mentat?, male domains and female domains, women’s roles and men’s roles, anthropological science fiction, traditional societies, strict gender roles, a remix of a medieval society, historical framework, Paul as the white savior, a male who solves a female problem, sexism, too easy, how powerful the role of Jessica is, Chani and Jessica and Alia, the brilliant one, the wise one, here too, there has to be a pattern, a version of Dune with Paula Atredies, Leta who bears a daughter, Grass by Sheri S. Tepper, if one was doing a university course on science fiction, one semester for each of Dune’s three books, an amazingly rich text, he’s the baddie, the subversion, from the fourteen year-old’s point of view, a wonderful adventure that makes you feel smart, over and over, a war book, a drug book, history, the Folio Society edition, Scott Lynch, Dracula, Bram Stoker, non of his other books are Dune level, The Dosadi Experiment, Whipping Star, Herbert is playing games of complexity and depth, Gene Wolfe, mind stretching, Samuel Delaney, a mental workout, an emotional workout, The White Plague, The Children Of Men, emotional destruction, taking story into all kinds of places, 159

The Sandworm Strikes - illustration by Ed J. Hannigan

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #330 – READALONG: Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick

August 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #330 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
Time Pawn by Philip K. Dick, 1960, The Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, Science Fiction Hall Of Fame: Volume 1, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Idiocracy, if smart people don’t have babies…, a kind of Heinleinian authority, a little grey case, his bag is missing, grey vs. black, a doctor from the past visiting a future society, medicine as a crime, interfering with euthanasia, another weird interesting post nuclear war world, primitive or advanced?, we don’t talk about death, reflecting our world back at us, youth culture, worshiping youth, movie heroes used to be old men, Logan’s Run, Nolan’s world, what is the appeal of that world?, a culture will run things for you if you don’t think a lot, the Ancient Egyptian culture of death, you will live your life in your death, the soulcube, immortality through the species itself, The City And The Stars by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, nobody wants to see that, kids are stupid, the wisdom of the grandmothers, the Vietnam War, genetic stupidity, Language For Time Travelers by L. Sprague de Camp, Stargate, Astounding, an editorial note for Time Pawn, the right to live, ruthless euthanasia, time travel, Dr. Jim Parsons, the character is a time pawn, the second arrow, an inevitability, to ensure their own existence, deterministic, the standard classic scene, being careened, the auditorium at the first Beatles concert is only filled with time travelers, Dick’s take on time travel, familiar stars. not familiar? why aren’t they familiar, figuring out the future of the character as he’s writing it, “huh, that’s weird”, completely unpredictable vs. completely predictable, van Vogtian, Paul employs a railroad metaphor, Sir Francis Drake, line by line rewrites, from New York to San Fransisco, matter to mine, Time Pawn vs. Dr. Futurity, glittering vs. illuminated, darting like silver fish, no aircars?, nobody is going to be reading Time Pawn anytime soon, “the chamber was a blaze of light…dead gods waiting to return”, a rushed novel?, what’d you do with all that?, standard Dick tropes: a wife shuffled to the side, missing the wife less in Dr. Futurity, the description of the women is much lengthier, always heaving breasts, there’s no questioning of reality, no surveillance, less questioning, an uncharacteristically straightforward story, it feels like all the other Ace Doubles, in the mode of reading SF, all the tropes are assumed, Margaret Atwood, Michael Crichton, going through the evolution to understand the SF tropes: Wells -> Gernsback -> the 60s, three a week, that’s all we need to know, airbags everywhere, flame retardant spray, toxic chemicals vs. being on fire, we live in a screwed up culture, mercury poisoning, asbestos, guide beams, the google car, GPS, if there was a solar flare…, Aftermath, a Charles Sheffield novel, old infrastructure could save us, Cuba, Alpha Centauri goes supernova, the Three Hoarsemen podcast, steam-punk without the steam is just punk, Pastwatch: The Redemption Of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card, a monster, the Columbian exchange, Dick has just read about Sir Francis Drake, Drake’s voyage, he’s famous for making Queen Elizabeth I a big pile of money, Expo 86, the Golden Hind, Drake’s landing point, Oregon, Vancouver Island, Nova Albion, Albion, British Columbia, albino, a weird figure to fixate on, Cortez, Pissaro, The Mask Of The Sun by Fred Saberhagen, caught in the machinations of time traveling empires, more bushwhacking, Daniel Abraham, the way they talk in this future society, it keeps not working, his presence eventually changes their society, starting that whole tribe, the scene with the arrow, a predestination paradox, those stone markers, “I’ll get around to it”, that whole planet is covered in markers, the way Dick ended it, leaving it loose, why Time Pawn is so much of a better title, he feels he is the chess master after a certain point, the extended spaceship to Mars scene, the robot computer with a rat brain, such a creepy scene, “I wonder what’s going to happen”, if the character doesn’t want to get on track, what’s that about?, what are those guns for?, Shupos?, always people confronting him, make remarks about the women, this is NOT a book written by committee, don’t read this as your first Dick, more fodder for your feed.

Time Pawn by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Ed Valigursky

Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Harry Borgman

Docteur Futur by Philip K. Dick

Dr Futurity by Philip K. Dick (Methuen)

Dr Futurity by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Chris Moore

Dr. Futurity by Philip K. Dick (Berkley)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #116

July 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #116 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about The Space Merchants (aka Gravy Planet) by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

Talked about on today’s show:
Frederik Pohl’s blog, differences between Gravy Planet and The Space Merchants Coca-Cola vs. Yummy Cola, com-pocalypse (a commercial apocalypse), advertizing, conservationists -> connies (or consies) is an analogue for communists -> commies, Tristan Und Isolde, Costa Rica, Chicken Little, Fowler Shocken, 1950s. Jews in “the Science Fiction ghetto”, H.L. Gold, Phlip Klass (William Tenn), Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, the Wikipedia entry for The Space Merchants, a study guide for The Space Merchants, Levittown, Man Plus, The Merchants War, Pohl’s interest in psychiatry, Gateway, structural problems in The Space Merchants, identity theft, a hero’s journey, The Odyssey, katabasis, banana republic, the United Fruit Company, Cuba, U.S. Marines in Columbia, Vance Packard’s The Hidden Persuaders, Jack O’Shea, little people are the perfect astronauts, pilots tend to be small people, the continuing relevance of The Space Merchants, “transformed language”, The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, “the Glaciers didn’t freeze overnight” (Rome wasn’t built in a day), what side do you oil your bread on, pedaling your Cadillac into the future, are there more cars in the U.S.A. than people?, William Gibson, The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed, corporatocracy, Oliver Stone, does Wall Street run the world or is it Madison Avenue?, representative government per capita (per head) or ad valorem (to value), The Marching Morons, dystopia, utopia, citizen vs. consumer, CBC’s The Age Of Persuasion podcast, the effectiveness of advertizing, feminine hygine products, “it has wings”, coffiest vs. Starbucks, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty, how effective is advertizing?, saturation of advertizing vs. the message of advertizing itself, does advertizing work?, who consumes dog food?, soyaburger, Chlorella, algae, soylent red, despite what he says Eric is not a jerk vegetarian, seitan (wheat gluten food), Moby Dick, Mountain Dew in the U.S.A. vs. Mountain Dew in Canada, energy drinks, Jolt Cola, phial vs. vile, Philip K. Dick’s Do Android Dream Of Electric Sheep?, the Penfield Mood Organ, caffeine, Tamahome likes unsweetened chocolate, what did Montezuma drink all day long?, does has the internet lessen the impact of advertizing?, the spillage from penis enhancement, Eric bought a wide cross section of pornography, “genuine spurious placebo”, Boeing “forever new frontiers”, the Dubai Ports controversy, Cisco Systems, I, Robot, Minority Report, gesture recognition, Yelp, Wikileaks: U.S. diplomats pressed Boeing deals, Bombardier, “he came from an old family”, Kennedy, Bush, Heddy and Hester, Hedy Lamarr, Hester Prynne, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man, The Stars My Destination, “Eight sir, seven sir, six sir, five sir, four sir, three sir, two sir, one. Tenser, said the Tensor, Tenser said the Tensor. Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun.” Rebecca Black’s Friday is a train wreck, Arthur C. Clarke‘s Tales From The White Heart, colonizing your brain, “you haven’t read a book until you’ve talked about it”, is solitary reading a different kind of thing than social reading?, satire, Monty Python’s “The Funniest Joke In The World” sketch, advertizing in books, advertizing in paperback novels, propaganda, recommendation vs. advertizing, making something available vs. thrusting it upon you, metaSFFaudio, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, Flannery O’Connor with zombies, why SFFaudio doesn’t link to Amazon.com, Morning Joe, Fox News, Scott is now a politician, Douglas Adams, political debate being replaced by sound bites, Jon Stewart vs. Sean Hannity, Jon Stewart’s appearance on Crossfire, Will Rogers, communication vs. advertizing, jokes are revelations, brand awareness, why do kids want to see Transformers 3?, Cedar Rapids is a coming of age movie about the nature of friendship, why is there no commercial released audiobook of The Space Merchants?, The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, Them!, anti-consumerism (anti-Americanism), tobacco packaging warning messages (are ads), the tobacco industry vs. the anti-tobacco industry, church advertizing, Scientology doesn’t sell the same message as many other religions, L. Ron Hubbard, A.E. van Vogt, Dianetics, the premise of Null-A, Friedrich Nietzsche.

Illustrations from the original serialization of Gravy Planet (aka The Space Merchants) in Galaxy Science Fiction magazine’s July August and September 1952 issues:

Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley
Gravy Planet illustrations by Don Sibley

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Killing Castro by Lawrence Block

September 20, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Reviews 

Aural Noir: Review

Killing Castro is book number 051 in the Hard Case Crime library.

BBC Audiobooks America - Killing Castro by Lawrence BlockHard Case CrimeKilling Castro
By Lawrence Block; Read by Henry Leyva
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: January 2009
ISBN: 9780792759751
Themes: / Thriller / Cuba / Hitman / Mercenaries / History / Assassination / Crime /

There were five of them, each prepared to kill, each with his own reasons for accepting what might well be a suicide mission. The pay? $20,000 apiece. The mission? Find a way into Cuba and kill Castro.

Until the announcement on the Hard Case Crime website in 2008 most Block aficionados, like me, had no idea that novel that is Killing Castro existed. Us Blockheads knew that LB had written a ton of novels early in his career. Heck we’d even identified quite a few of them. But unless you’d owned a copy of Fidel Castro Assassinated: A Dramatic Tale of a Daring and Successful Plot to Kill Cuba’s Dictator, and had compared this obscure 1961 Monarch paperback with Block’s writing you’d never have known he’d written it. This is because it was originally attributed to an otherwise unknown author “Lee Duncan.” Had it been written by “Paul Kavanagh” (a known Block pseudonym), I’d have already found and read a copy years ago. Indeed, to my ears this certainly feels like a lost fourth Paul Kavanagh novel. Two of Paul Kavanagh’s three other novels are about shady operatives doing black-ops for cash too. If you want the original paperback, by the way, ABEbooks.com currently lists a copy at $150.00. That’s down from the $600 asking price just a few months back. Hard Case Crime offers the gorgeous covered paperback version for just $7. Me, I’ll stick with the BBC Audiobooks America version.

One of the things I liked most about this audiobook, other than the brisk characterization and snappy plotting, was all the historical context Block put into the novel. This isn’t merely a thriller, or a crime story. Running just under 5 hours (204 pages in paperbook) there’s about half an hour of historical exposition between all the action. In those sections Block deftly details Fidel Castro’s personal biography, the history Batista’s rule of Cuba, Fidel’s leadership of the revolution and a thoughtful analysis of the revolution’s aftermath. As far as I can tell the history is entirely accurate. It sticks to the facts and makes a case both for and against Castro’s revolution without any special pleading. To my mind “Lee Duncan” could have probably got a job at the Cuba desk of the CIA, just based on the analysis within this novel. They really could have used him too as the book originally came out the same year as the CIA-backed Bay Of Pigs invasion. But I guess the covert world’s loss is our literary gain.

This is the first time I’ve heard Henry Leyva as a narrator. He performs the American mercenaries with enough distinction to tell all five of them apart, and gives good voice to two Cuban rebels, one male, one female. As Leyva is fluent in both English and Spanish he brings a ton of authenticity to the Cuban accented anti-castristas. He really is a narrator to watch. I first heard him as an actor performing in an episode of J. Michael Straczynski’s excellent audio drama anthology series City Of Dreams. He’s also narrated the audiobook version of Cuba Libre by Elmore Leonard, so I’m gonna have to get my hands on that audiobook too.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of Fever by Sean Rowe

August 8, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Aural Noir: Review

As part of our revival of the Aural Noir label, we’ll be re-running some of our classic (offline) Aural Noir posts, including this “vintage” audiobook review which was first posted in December 2005…

Tantor crime audiobook - Fever by Sean RoweFever
By Sean Rowe; Read by William Dufris
5 CDs – Approx 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1400101778
Sample: |MP3|
Themes: / Crime / Heist / Noir / Thriller / Terrorism / Florida / Cuba / Nautical / Family /

Raw, is probably the best one-word sum up of Sean Rowe’s first novel Fever. Rowe’s prose lacks the polish found in novelists like Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake and Elmore Leonard, but he doesn’t lack what it takes to eventually become worthy of hanging out with these masters, especially if he keeps writing like this!

Fever follows a tight knit group of fuck-ups through their attempt to rob thirty million dollars of stashed drug money from an aging cruise ship plying the waters between Miami and Cuba. The crew, on paper at least, looks like it should be able to handle anything. It consists of an ex-FBI agent Matt Shannon, his step brother (an ex-DEA agent named Jack Fontana), an emergency room nurse named Julia, a former Black Panther, and a South American soldier of fortune. Despite their collective skill set these are all losers in almost every way. Shannon’s past is slowly revealed, working backwards we know that he’s an in-debt alcoholic, with a dead wife, missing an index finger and has a step-brother who is a recently paroled felon. When the step-brother frames Shannon in the sinking of a freighter Matt is half-blackmailed into going along, with a vague desire to somehow help his brother. The rest of the crew are nearly as sad, Julia was an orphan who was sexually abused from a young age. And Jack Fontana is dying after serving his sentence. Even the minor characters have their share of problems…. one passage detailing the last job the mercenary took killing Indians in the jungles of South America is brutal, funny and illustrative of just how unlikely this string will be of pulling off this or any job. The malformed love triangle between Shannon, his brother, and Julia pays off in a tasty neo-noir style. In fact love, brotherly and the other kind is probably at the heart of this story. Fever is extremely enjoyable, the dialogue is crisp and fun, the scenes are imaginative and original. A constant surprise awaits in every chapter. None of it goes exactly according to plan and that makes it all the better to follow. The novel’s few problems seem mostly structural, scene transitions aren’t handled as well as I’d like and despite it being a first person perspective we never really get an idea of what’s going on inside the narrator’s head. This could be a deliberate style on the part of Rowe, as both flaws could be thought to pay off in certain ways later in on the book, but I’m thinking a more seasoned novelist might have been better able to give us everything. I eagerly look forward to reading the next Sean Rowe novel!

Read by the always reliable William Dufris, the first person perspective plays into such classics as Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice. Dufris’ natural timbre doesn’t exactly embody the gravelly voiced loser we imagine as the narrator but his voicing of the rest of the crew is spot on. Men, women, a Colombian drug lord, the string and even minor characters like an aging boxer all sound just like you’d want them to. Tantor Media, an exciting new player in unabridged audiobooks has packaged Fever in a clamshell CD case with leaved pages. The cover is the same as the Little Brown & Co. original and the sound quality is phenomenal. The pricing is extremely reasonable too. I think Tantor is probably the most exciting new big little publisher of the decade!

Posted by Jesse Willis