New Releases: Jonathan Stroud, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Star Wars, Robert B. Parker, S.J. Parris

New Releases

Here’s a batch of new releases!

We talked about the first two on the latest SFFaudio Podcast. Of the others that are forthcoming it is the length of Robert B. Parker’s novel Split Images that has me most excited. A new novel that’s just 4 CDs long but still UNABRIDGED? That’s terrific! Meanwhile Heresy, a new historical murder mystery written under a pseudonym, sounds very interesting. Random House is releasing the unabridged version only as a digital download. We can probably see that on audible.com later this month.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean KoontzThe Eyes Of Darkness
By Dean Koontz; Read by Tanya Eby
8 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: January 3, 2010
ISBN: 1441817166
A year had passed since little Danny’s death – a year since his mother began the painful process of acceptance. But Tina Evans could have sworn she just saw her Danny in a stranger’s car…then she dreamed that Danny was alive. And when she awoke, she found a message waiting for her in Danny’s bedroom – two disturbing words scrawled on his chalkboard: NOT DEAD. Was this someone’s grim joke? Her mind playing tricks on her? Or something…more? For Tina Evans, it was a mystery she couldn’t escape. An obsession that would lead her from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the cold shadows of the High Sierras. A terrible secret seen only by…The Eyes of Darkness.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Heroes Of The Valley by Jonathan StroudHeroes Of The Valley
By Jonathan Stroud; Read by David Thorn
CDs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: January 27, 2009
ISBN: 9780739382202

Halli Sveinsson has grown up in the House of Svein, hearing the legends of the heroes as all his forefathers did. Theirs is a peaceful society, where the violence of the past has been outlawed and disputes are settled by the Council. But young Halli has never quite seemed to fit in with the others. For starters, he is neither handsome nor tall, like his siblings. He’s stumpy and swarthy, with a quick mind and an aptitude for getting into trouble. Bored with everyday chores and sheepherding, he can’t help playing practical jokes on everyone, from Eyjolf, the old servant, to his brother and sister. But when he plays a trick on Ragnar of the House of Hakon, he goes too far, setting in motion a chain of events that will forever alter his destiny. Because of it, Halli will have to leave home and go on a hero’s quest. Along the way, he will encounter highway robbers, terrifying monsters, and a girl who may be as fearless as he is. In the end he will discover the truth about the legends, his family, and himself.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - A Dark Matter by Peter StraubA Dark Matter
By Peter Straub; Read by Robertson Dean
12 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: February 9, 2010
ISBN: 9780739322413
The incomparable master of horror and suspense returns with a powerful, brilliantly terrifying novel that redefines the genre in original and unexpected ways. The charismatic and cunning Spenser Mallon is a campus guru in the 1960s, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favors of his young acolytes. After he invites his most fervent followers to attend a secret ritual in a local meadow, the only thing that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body—and the shattered souls of all who were present. Years later, one man attempts to understand what happened to his wife and to his friends by writing a book about this horrible night, and it’s through this process that they begin to examine the unspeakable events that have bound them in ways they cannot fathom, but that have haunted every one of them through their lives. As each of the old friends tries to come to grips with the darkness of the past, they find themselves face-to-face with the evil triggered so many years earlier. Unfolding through the individual stories of the fated group’s members, A Dark Matter is an electric, chilling, and unpredictable novel that will satisfy Peter Straub’s many ardent fans, and win him legions more.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Star Wars - Clone Wars - Gambit - StealthStar Wars: Clone Wars: Gambit: Stealth
By Karen Miller; Read by Jeff Gurner
10 CDs – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: February 23, 2010
ISBN: 9780739376898
The first installment of a two-book Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker adventure, set against the backdrop of the Clone Wars! – Planet by planet, darkness creeps across the galaxy. Among warriors and generals, among ordinary beings living in far-flung worlds, the fear will not go away: We are losing this war… Anakin Skywalker feels it, too. The Separatist Alliance, with ruthlessness and treachery, is beating the Republic to every strategic target. But after a costly clash with General Grievous for the planet Kothlis, Anakin has a mission that will focus his anxious mind. Alongside Obi-Wan Kenobi, he is posing as a long-lost native of Lanteeb, an impoverished world on the Outer Rim. This seemingly unimportant planet has drawn the interest of the Seps—and Anakin and Obi-Wan soon discover the disturbing reason: A scientist enslaved by General Lok Durd is drawing on Lanteeb’s one natural resource for a devastating bioweapon. Now Anakin and Obi-Wan have entered the eye of a storm. Their presence has been exposed, Lok Durd’s plans unveiled, and a fight has begun for survival behind enemy lines—and a chance of winning a war that must be fought at any cost.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Heresy by S.J. ParrisHeresy
By S.J. Parris (aka Stephanie Merritt); Read by John Lee
5 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: February 23, 2010
ISBN: 9780307714299
Masterfully blending true events with fiction, this blockbuster historical thriller delivers a page-turning murder mystery set on the sixteenth-century Oxford University campus. Giordano Bruno was a monk, poet, scientist, and magician on the run from the Roman Inquisition on charges of heresy for his belief that the Earth orbits the sun and that the universe is infinite. This alone could have got him burned at the stake, but he was also a student of occult philosophies and magic. In S. J. Parris’s gripping novel, Bruno’s pursuit of this rare knowledge brings him to London, where he is unexpectedly recruited by Queen Elizabeth I and is sent undercover to Oxford University on the pretext of a royal visitation. Officially Bruno is to take part in a debate on the Copernican theory of the universe; unofficially, he is to find out whatever he can about a Catholic plot to overthrow the queen. His mission is dramatically thrown off course by a series of grisly murders and a spirited and beautiful young woman. As Bruno begins to discover a pattern in these killings, he realizes that no one at Oxford is who he seems to be. Bruno must attempt to outwit a killer who appears obsessed with the boundary between truth and heresy. Like The Dante Club and The Alienist, this clever, sophisticated, exceptionally enjoyable novel is written with the unstoppable narrative propulsion and stylistic flair of the very best historical thrillers.

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Split Images by Robert B. ParkerSplit Image (a Jesse Stone novel)
By Robert B. Parker; Read by James Naughton
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: February 23, 2010
ISBN: 9780739357484
The body in the trunk was just the beginning. Turns out the stiff was a foot soldier for local tough guy Reggie Galen, now enjoying a comfortable “retirement” with his beautiful wife, Rebecca, in the nicest part of Paradise. Living next door are Knocko Moynihan and his wife, Robbie, who also happens to be Rebecca’s twin. But what initially appears to be a low-level mob hit takes on new meaning when a high-ranking crime figure is found dead on Paradise Beach. Stressed by the case, his failed relationship with his ex-wife, and his ongoing battle with the bottle, Jesse needs something to keep him from spinning out of control. When private investigator Sunny Randall comes into town on a case, she asks for Jesse’s help. As their professional and personal relationships become intertwined, both Jesse and Sunny realize that they have much in common with both their victims and their suspects—and with each other.

Posted by Jesse Willis

AudibleLive Chat with Dean Koontz about Relentless

SFFaudio News

Dean Koontz chats with his readers about his new novel Relentless (available through Audible.com and Brilliance Audio) in this AudibleLive chat with Dean Koontz

After viewing this interview/chat I am reminded about why I don’t like most interviewers. Questions like: “What was your motivation when…” and the old classic “where do your ideas come from?” are almost worthless. The problem is that author’s don’t often seem very insightful into their writing process. Koontz manages his best with these questions, but the answers are most interesting when he is telling you a story about something that happened to him.

[via Audible.com’s Twitter feed]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Phantoms by Dean Koontz

SFFaudio Review

Brilliance Audio - Phantoms by Dean KoontzPhantoms
By Dean Koontz; Read by Buck Schirner
12 CDs – 15 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: January 2008
ISBN: 9781423339267
Themes: / Horror / Suspense / Science Fiction / Mass Disappearance / California /

They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California. At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease. But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

I went into this novel with low expectations. Our resident Dean Koontz aficionado was telling me that Phantoms wasn’t one of Koontz’s best works. That’s the bright side about low expectations – it makes the mediocre seem better. My biggest complaint isn’t really with the story at all – but rather with its length. 15 hours is a bit too long for a novel with this content and plot – there’s a whole separate subplot about an escaped criminal and his subsequent interactions with a biker gang. These parts of the book get mentioned a couple of times by the main narrative – but are otherwise un-interactive until the end of the novel. That whole subplot might have made an interesting short story, if separate, but it ends up being a side-note that doesn’t come to any real fruition, except in what felt like a tacked on end piece. Still, the main narrative is rather compelling. Dr. Jennifer Page, who lives and works in the small resort town of Snowfield, California, is returning from the big city and in doing so she’s taking with her much younger sister Lisa. Their mom has recently died and Jenny plans to raise her younger sister in the small town. Unfortunately, their arrival in Snowfield yields a much more horrifying and surprising disaster than the mere death of their mom. Everyone in town is missing! Well, almost everybody is missing anyway, with those few who aren’t entirely disappeared being completely dead – having been killed in grisly or bizarre fashions. The only clue to what has happened in Snowfield, while Jenny has been out of town, is a near incomprehensible message scrawled onto a bathroom mirror.

Fans of certain H.P. Lovecraft stories, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Stephen King‘s The Mist will likely quite enjoy this tale. Thinking back on myself, it feels as if Phantoms would have made an excellent late 1960s or early 1970s Doctor Who serial. What I liked most about it was not the atmosphere of spookiness (that seems a high point to a lot of folks), but rather the care and attention to the back story and the explanations which Koontz put into the lead up to the events in snowfield. I can’t recall a lot of other novels that have dealt with the “mass disappearance” phenomenon. I do recollect one film on the topic, The Quiet Earth (it is terrific) but has a far different execution and feel than does Phantoms. Speaking of film, I recommend you shy away from the film version of Phantoms entirely – it trims down the plot (which you’d think would be good) – but manages to feel rather crappy all-around, despite being adapted to film by Koontz himself.

Phantoms gave Dean Koontz a reputation as a horror writer, Koontz describes the novel as “one of the ten biggest mistakes” of his life because, it earned the label horror writer, which he says he “never wanted, never embraced, and [has] ever since sought to shed.” I can see it. The actual novel is definitely working within the rules of Science Fiction. Sadly, suspense, which Koontz does embrace, is often confused with horror – and hence his problem. The initial publication of Phantoms in 1983 garnered the novel several positive reviews. But only Analog’s review clearly recognized Koontz’s attempt to put technology and science to the fore in Phantoms. Narrator Buck Schirner sounds a whole lot like Mel Blanc. He’s got a good range, and changes his voice for different character genders, ages, and accents. The cover on this audiobook is sadly wholly uninformative, as is the bland title. The novel should have been called “The Ancient Enemy” and the cover should have depicted an open sewer grate, or a sink full of jewelry.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #023

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #023 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Rick Jackson (aka The Time Traveler) and talk to him about his podcast (The Time Traveler Show) and audiobook company (Wonder Audio).

Talked about on today’s show:

The Time Traveler Show podcast, Scott Brick, William Dufris, Mark Douglas Nelson, Sam Mowry, Arthur C. Clarke, Stefan Rudnicki, Wonder Audio, Mac Kelly, Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley, Audible.com/wonderaudio, ebook, Frank Herbert, Alfred Bester, Pat Bottino, The Cimmerian blog, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, Chronicle Books, Macmillan Audio, fantasy, Lamentation by Ken Scholes, multiple narrators, Full Cast Audio, Elmore Leonard, Jim Dale, Stephen Fry, Harry Potter, Graphic Audio, Anathem by Neal Stephenson, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester (ISIS Audio ISBN: 1856955435), Phantoms by Dean Koontz, Mel Blanc, Billy West, Tara Platt, Yuri Lowenthal, Bill Hollweg, the public domain status of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, The Weapon Shops Of Isher by A.E. van Vogt, William Coon, The Quest For Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher, They Bite by Anthony Boucher, William F. Temple, A Sheckley Trilogy, Worlds Of Wonder edited by Robert Silverberg, The Monsters by Robert Sheckley, A Is For Alien, The Science Fiction Oral History Association, Lloyd Biggle Jr., SFOHA needs volunteers, Worldcon 2009, Macmillan Audio, Sly Mongoose by Tobias Buckell (read by Jonathan Davis), science fiction, aliens, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow |READ OUR REVIEW|, infodumping, Scott Westerfeld, Uglies, Pretties, Extras, A Case Of Conscience by James Blish |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Finnegan’s Wake by James Joyce, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Penguincon, Penguincon podcast, Spider Robinson, Stephen Eley, Day Million and We Purchased People by Frederik Pohl, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me), science as “arrogance control”, transhumanism.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #021

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #021 – Jesse and Scott are joined new SFFaudio contributor Carsten Schmitt! It’s a show full of participatory enjoyment and less about equipment love.

Talked about on today’s show:
Macmillan Audio, Halo: The Cole Protocol, Tobias S. Buckell, METAtropolis (now is a paperbook), Subterranean Press, Canadia: 2056 – Season 2 now on CD, The indefensible Zombie Astronaut, livejournal sucks, The unofficial podcast feed of Canadia 2056, radio drama, Steve: The First, Steve: The Second, Matt Watts, post-apocalypse, C.H.U.D., H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society‘s audio theatre At The Mountains Of Madness |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Dunwich Horror, Dark Adventure Radio Theatre, digital downloads vs. CDs, The Shadow Out of Time, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call Of Cthulhu Role Playing Game, Yog Radio, The Dragonships Series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, Dragonlance, Brilliance Audio, DoOon Mode, Piers Anthony, On A Pale Horse, George Guidall, Recorded Books, The Dolphins Of Pern, Anne McCaffrey, Phantoms, Dean Koontz, The Dean Koontz Companion (a paperbook), small towns in fiction, Salem’s Lot, German radio drama, Gabriel Burns, Vancouver, Seeing Ear Theatre, we need an unofficial podcast feed for Seeing Ear Theatre, J. Michael Straczynski, Tales From The Crypt, City Of Dreams, Neil Gaiman, Secret Army, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, WWII evasion lines, Louis de Funès, tea for two and two for tea, Yog Radio, Charles Tan (Bibliophile Stalker blog), actual play session podcasts, Wil Wheaton plays D&D 4th Edition (to Carsten’s dismay), celebrity RPG play session (Vin Diesel etc.), Fallout 3 vs. Age Of Conan, The Scarifyers, BBC 7, Rich Carlson, RadioArchive.cc, Billy Boyd, pirate radio, Sealand, what Jesse fears most (finger losses).

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #016

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #016 – is really strange and very good – we talk about Dean Koontz, talking dogs, praise Robert J. Sawyer, his audiobooks and much more! Book covers, cover art, they matter!

Talked about on today’s show:

Audible.com, the new Audible Frontiers new releases, review of The Speed Of Dark, Mary Robinette Kowal, Blackstone Audio, The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick, Star Trek, Pandora’s Star, Judas Unchained, Peter F. Hamilton, Star Wars, Mike Resnick, The Last Colony, John Scalzi, Zoe’s Tale, William Dufris, Anathem, Robert J. Sawyer, Flashforward, Tantor Media, A Case Of Conscience, James Blish, 100% FREE Audiobook Black River by Dean Koontz (which is an SF suspense novella), Microsoft’s Zune now compatible with Audible.com, Dean Koontz, Dragon Tears, Jay O. Sanders, talking dogs, our new DEAN KOONTZ author page, Intensity, Seize The Night, Fear Nothing, Dean Koontz short stories that should be audiobooked: Nightmare Gang, Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein, RJS’ Flashforward as a TV series? = they’ll do it like the did The 4400, CERN, RJS predicted the current pope!, murder mystery Science Fiction, Illegal Alien, review of Calculating God, Golden Fleece, dinosaurs, Robert J. Sawyer’s weakest novel = End Of An Era (?), review of The Terminal Experiment, Wake, the WWW trilogy, available RJS audiobooks, Shed Skin, BBC Radio documentary on Wikipedia: The Wikipedia Story, Sarah Vowell, Assassination Vacation, The Wordy Shipmates, Vowelette, what “they” are doing wrong with audiobooks: no table of contents sux! No map sux!, Stefan Rudnicki‘s Skyboat Productions, Resonance, A.J. Scudiere, geology, magnetic polar reversal, review of Posing As People, Orson Scott Card, Mike Resnick’s Audible.com editorial, Stalking The Unicorn, Stalking The Vampire, cover art matters, Total Dick Head’s 2 hour celebration of Philip K. Dick’s 80th birthday.

Posted by Jesse Willis