Commentary: SFSignal Mind Meld on favourite audiobooks (and audio drama) of all time

SFFaudio Commentary

SFSignal.comJohn DeNardo, of the magnificent SFSignal blog, recently asked me to participate in another “Mind Meld.”

Here’s the topic:

“What are your favorite SF/F/H audiobooks and/or audio fiction stories of all time?”

Here’s what I wrote:

As one of the people behind SFFaudio, a website devoted to SFF in the audio format, this is about the hardest question you could possibly ask me. I can’t even begin to start ranking all the gloriously wonderful audio I’ve had the honor of listening to over the last 20 years (unless you count SFFaudio as exactly that). But, I can throw out some titles that are absolutely terrific!

Since I began listening in earnest (around 1991), and to make it manageable, I’ll limit myself to just one audiobook (or audio drama) per year (sorted by publication date). To make it even easier, I’ll list only commercial productions – we have plenty of love for podcasts and other amateur audio on For starters check out our series called Five Free Favourites.

1991: The Best Fantasy Stories Of The Year 1989 (Dercum Audio – ISBN: 1556561431)
1992: The Wind From A Burning Woman by Greg Bear (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1993: The Children Of Men by P.D. James (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1994: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Time Warner – ISBN: 9781570420528)
1995: Mind Slash Matter by Edward Wellen (Durkin Hayes) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1996: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein (Blackstone Audio – ISBN: 0786110546)
1997: Sci-Fi Private Eye ed. Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg (Dercum Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1998: Martian Time Slip by Philip K. Dick (Blackstone Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
1999: Ringworld by Larry Niven |READ OUR REVIEW|
2000: The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg |READ OUR REVIEW|
2001: Minority Report And Other Stories by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|
2002: Two Plays For Voices by Neil Gaiman (Seeing Ear Theatre / Harper Audio) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2003: The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|
2004: Ender’s Game (25th Anniversary Edition) by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|
2005: The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 1 by H.P. Lovecraft (Audio Realms) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2006: The Chief Designer by Andy Duncan (Infinivox) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2007: Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures (Trilogy Box Set) (B7 Media) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2008: The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman (Recorded Books) |READ OUR REVIEW|
2009: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart (Audible Frontiers/Brilliance Audio ) |SFFaudio Podcast #073|
2010: The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison |READ OUR REVIEW|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Telling Atwood’s Tale

SFFaudio Commentary

Offered here, with small commentary, is a complete listing of the audio editions and adaptations of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. A note from the Wikipedia entry:

“The [paperbook version of the] novel concludes with a metafictional epilogue that explains that the events of the novel occurred shortly after the beginning of what is called ‘the Gilead Period.’ The epilogue itself is a ‘transcription of a Symposium on Gileadean Studies written some time in the distant future (2195),’ and according to the symposium’s ‘keynote speaker’ Professor Pieixoto, he and ‘a colleague’, Professor Knotly Wade, discovered Offred’s narrative recorded onto thirty cassette tapes. They created a ‘probable order’ for these tapes and transcribed them, calling them collectively ‘the handmaid’s tale’.” offers a critical analysis of Offred’s experiences in the Republic of Gilead; There, you’ll find an assertion that the novel’s title title – arguing that it’s – a “sexist pun on the word tale/tail” playing off the association with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and the role that handmaids are forced to play in Gileadean society.

BBC Radio:

BBC RADIO COLLECTION - The Handmaid's Tale [RADIO DRAMA]The Handmaid’s Tale
3 Broadcasts (2 Cassettes) – Approx. 3 Hours [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: 2000
ISBN: 0563553561
Recorded on location in and around New York.

BBC World ServiceOff The Shelf – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Jocelyn Cunningham
fifiteen 15 Minute Episodes – Approx. 3 Hours 45 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC World Service / Off The Shelf
Broadcast: May-June 1993

BBC Radio 4Book At Bedtime? – The Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Buffy Davis
10x 30mins or 10x 15mins [ABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 / BBC Radio 7?
Broadcast: 1995 / December 2007?

BBC Radio 3English National Opera – The Handmaid’s Tale*
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood;
1 Broadcast – Approx. 2 Hours 45 Minutes [OPERA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 3
Broadcast: 2003
*Performed for the first time in Copenhagen in 2000.

CBC Radio:

BTC AUDIO - The Handmaids Tale - CBC RADIO DRAMAThe Handmaid’s Tale
Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood; Adpated by Michael O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
2 Broadcasts, 2 CDs – Approx. 1 Hour 43 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio / Sunday Showcase
Broadcast: August 11 and 18, 2002
Publisher: BTC Audiobooks
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0864923414
Janey Amos … Cora
Greg Bryk … Guardian
Alex Bulmer … Ofglen #2, Woman being chased
Emma Campbell … Offred
Kim Campbell … Aunt Elizabeth
Richard Clarkin … Nick
John Cleland … Guardian, TV announcer
William B. Davis … The Commander
Shirley Douglas … Aunt Lydia
Michelle Fisk … Rita
Catherine Fitch … Oflgen #1
Donna Goodhand … Serena Joy
Juliana Hayden-Nygren … Daughter
William Johnston … Guide, Guardian, TV announcer
Kim Kuhteubl … Ofjohn, Woman
Richard Lee … Cashier, Tourist, Man who dies, Guardian
Hardee T. Lineham … Doctor
Juno Mills-Cockell … Ofwarren
Rahnuma Pathaky … Woman in gym, Woman, Woman in washroom
Andrew Tarbet … Luke, Guardian
Kristen Thomson … Moira
Diana Tso … Tourist, Woman, Woman greeting
Terry Tweed … Mother

Dramatized by Michael O’Brien
Directed and produced by Ann Jansen
Recording Engineer Joe Mahoney
sound Effects by Wayne Richards and Matthew Wilcott
Mastered by Lloyd Hanson
Introduction by Robbie O’Neill
Original music by Michael White


CHIVERS AUDIO - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Joanna David
8 Cassettes – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1985
ISBN: 0745168086
Near the end of the 20th century, birth control and the effects of nuclear fallout have caused fewer births, so the Biblical story of Rachel is invoked to handle the declining birth rate.

DURKIN HAYES - The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaids Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Julie Christie
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listen For Pleasure / Durkin Hayes Audio / dhAudio
Published: 1987 / 1988
ISBN: 0886462142
“A dystopian novel of a world ruled by militaristic fundamentalism in which sexual pleasure is forbidden.”

RECORDED BOOKS - The Handmaids Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Handmaid’s Tale
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Betty Harris
8 Cassetes or 10 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 9781556902161 (cassette), 9781436179850 (cd)
ISBN: 2002
This novel has been described as “a women’s 1984.” As with Orwell’s futuristic thriller, The Handmaid’s Tale is well-written, politically astute, and contains enough reality mixed in with the fantastic to compel and horrify. Although the novel has a feminist perspective, it addresses the universal issues of individual autonomy and freedom.

Posted by Jesse Willis

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (as read by Nicol Williamson)

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here’s an auspicious first post for 2010!

There are several audiobook editions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The most recent production would be the unabridged version for Recorded Books. It’s narrated by Rob Inglis. Prior to that, there was also an abridged DH Audio (Durkin Hayes) production featuring narrator Martin Shaw. It was released in the 1990s. Tolkien recorded a few segments himself, released through Caedmon records and later Harper Audio. The earliest actual audiobook version is also very highly regarded. That’s this one, narrated by Nicol Williamson. It never saw North American distribution. Williamson is going to be familiar to fans of John Boorman’s masterpiece Excalibur (he played Merlin).

ARGO RECORDS - The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien; Read by Nicol Williamson
Four 33 1/3 LPs – Approx. 3.5 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Conifer Records / Argo Productions
Published: 1973, 1974
Includes a 7 page booklet. The reading Includes some musical additions.

This is all apropos of some dude uploading it to Youtube (of all places).

Here is Part 1

The rest of the recording is available on a Nicol Williamson fansite |HERE| and |HERE|. For those more inclined to listen to their audio away from their computers, the entire audiobook (in two zipped downloads) is available in the MP3 format |HERE|.

[via The Silver Key, The Cimmerian and If I Only Had blogs]

Posted by Jesse Willis


SFFaudio News

I’ve put this very rare audiobook up to auction. It’s our very last copy (perhaps the last sealed copy on Earth). It got an excellent review from my son Jesse Willis…

See the review HERE – then please go bid on it at:

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY RARE AUDIOBOOK. It is Out Of Print and very hard to find, the publisher is also out of business so it won’t be reprinted. This audiobook was published in 1995 and is amazingly STILL SEALED IN ITS ORIGINAL PACKAGING. It is in absolutely perfect condition. This is a 2 cassette audiobook and is UNABRIDGED (approx running time of 180 minutes).

And to quote Jesse’s review:

“For a straight reading – no music, no voice effects – this is perfect. Cover art is a little hard to decipher but is adequate. To top it all off, Mind Slash Matter was, until recently, only available only as an audiobook. Such an amazing story and straight to audio!”

Posted by Elaine Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #020


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #020 – Today Jesse and Scott talk with James Powell, a terrific Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Crime writer. He was first published in April 1966 and has approximately 140 published short stories in such magazines as Playboy and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. But most of his tales, including his most famous have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine! His tales are relentlessly logical, often hilarious, and swift. He is an absolute master of the short story. Powell is what’s known in the business as a “Pussycat writer” which means he doesn’t put sex and violence on the page, it all happens off-stage. Look for his latest tale, Clowntown Pajamas in the February 2009 issue of EQMM.

Talked about on today’s show:
A Cozy For The Jack-O-Lanterns, A Dirge For Clowntown, Clowntown Pajamas, Monaco, France, Crippen & Landru, The Friends Of Hector Jouvet |READ IT|, Peter Sellers, A Murder Coming, the review in which I first mention A Dirge For Clowntown rules for what Powell calls “Elf Economics”, The Theft Of The Valuable Bird, Midnight Pumpkins (Cinderella as Hard Fantasy), Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock style stories, Clowntown Pajamas, the hidden but clear rules of clown and mine behavior, Toronto, 1940s, QUESTION: Who does James Powell read? ANSWER: Charles Dickens, Jorge Luis Borges, J.R.R. Tolkien, and lately Michael Swanwick‘s The Edge Of The World, as wells as A Passage To India, E.M. Forster, Bouchercon, Frederic Dannay, Santa’s Way, The Tamerlane Crutch (a takeoff on the Maltese Falcon and A Christmas Carol), Lawrence Block, Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, The Quest For Creeping Charlie, 1950s, George Orwell, Winter Hiatus, Iced: The New Noir Anthology of Cold, Hard Fiction edited by Peter Sellers, The Dawn Of Captain Sunset (a superhero champion of the elderly), round robin style short stories, The Best Fantasy Stories Of The Year: 1989 edited by Orson Scott Card and Martin H. Greenberg (ISBN: 1556561431), the difficulty of writing a Science Fiction Mystery story, John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, of A Dirge For Clowntown Scott says: “[it is] one of the finest mysteries I’ve ever read set in a different world,” Dercum Audio, Durkin Hayes, The Book Of Lies, Brad Meltzer, A Murder Coming edited by Peter Sellers (ISBN: 0886466377), calling all publishers: COLLECT JAMES POWELL!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Durkin Hayes Audiobooks for sale

SFFaudio News

Durkin Hayes Audiobooks

I’ve been selling Durkin Hayes Paperback Audio audiobooks for about 10 years. None of them are available on as DH Audio (formerly Durkin Hayes, formerly Listen For Pleasure) was going bankrupt about the same time took off. These are all out-of-print audiobooks, and I think they’re some of the very best ever put to tape. Anybody want to buy some?

All of these are $5.00 each (U.S. or Canadian). That’s $0.01 above the original retail price. Buy 6 or more and I’ll throw in free shipping to the USA. For other countries (including my own country of Canada) I’ll charge a flat shipping fee of $5.00 for an unlimited number of audiobooks. All of these are single cassette audiobooks. They’re all “brand new” and “shrinkwrapped”. I’ve heard all of them, some pretty recently. If you have any questions please post em below or email. Money orders and PayPal are both ok. Details follow the pics:

First up an anthology of awesomeness selected by Isaac Asimov (for print) and Martin Greenberg (for audio) in 7 parts…

Durkin Hayes Audiobooks

Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories – Volume I
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 60 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “Captive Market” by Philip K. Dick and “The Last Of The Deliverers” by Poul Anderson
*The cover incorrectly states the title of the Poul Anderson story as (The Last Of The Defenders) , it is actually “The Last Of The Deliverers”
ISBN: 0886469481

Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories – Volume II
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 72 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “World Of A Thousand Colors” by Robert Silverberg and “Impostor” by Philip K. Dick
ISBN: 0886469430

Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories – Volume III
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 80 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “Silent Brother” by Algis Budrys and “Ishmael In Love” by Robert Silverberg
ISBN: 0886469511

Isaac Asimov’s All Time Favorite Science Fiction Stories – Volume IV
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 80 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “The Victim From Space” by Robert Sheckley and “Honorable Enemies” by Poul Anderson
ISBN: 0886469570

Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 5
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois?
1 Cassette – Approx. 93 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “Wings Out Of Shadow” by Fred Saberhagen and “Exposure” by Eric Frank Russell
ISBN: 0886468612

Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 6
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois?
1 Cassette – Approx. 93 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey and “Though Dreamers Die” by Lester del Rey
ISBN: 0886469732
*This one says its abridged by I believe that is an error.

Isaac Asimov Presents Volume 7
Edited by Martin H. Greenberg; Read by Rene Auberjonois?
1 Cassette – Approx. 104 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Includes: “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell, “The Last Monster” by Poul Anderson, and Why Johnny Can’t Speed by Alan Dean Foster
ISBN: 088646983X

Next 5 assorted short story collections…

Durkin Hayes Audiobooks

Unicorn Variation
By Roger Zelazny; Read by Rene Auberjonois
1 Cassette – Approx. 83 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Unicorn Variation by Roger Zelazny and “Angel Dark Angel” by Roger Zelazny
ISBN: 0886467365

Tales By American Masters: The Masque Of Read Death
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Win Phillips
1 Cassette – Approx 60 Minutes [UNABRIDGED?]
ISBN: 0886468949
The Masque Of Read Death and Silence, A Fable by Edgar Allan Poe

Points Of Departure
By Pat Murphy; Read by Brenda Vaccaro
1 Cassette – [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0886466296

Over The River And Through The Woods
By Clifford D. Simak; Read by Jonathan Frakes
1 Cassette – Approx. 97 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0886467624
Includes:Over The River And Through The Woods“, “Founding Father” and “Beachhead” all by Clifford D. Simak

By Clifford D. Simak; Read by Jonathan Frakes
1 Cassette – Approx. 84 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0886467616
Includes:Neighbor“, and “Desertion” both by Clifford D. Simak

Posted by Jesse Willis