The SFFaudio Podcast #046

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #046 – Jesse and Scott talk audiobooks, hard SF, current theatrical movies, Kenneth Oppel‘s Skybreaker and the new Gene Wolfe audiobooks at Audible.com! We also debut a new feature (boldly stolen from the late lamented Sofanauts Podcast). RIP.

Talked about on today’s show:
bananas, Smoke by Donald E. Westlake, invisibility, humor, the Richard Stark novels are only funny to psychopaths, crime, Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You by Donald Westlake (Westlake’s open letter to Science Fiction on why he’s not writing SF anymore), Philip K. Dick’s interview on Hour 25, Those Sexy Vintage Sleaze Books: A Blog About Vintage Soft Core Paperbacks, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, paperbackswap.com, The Ax and The Hook by Donald E. Westlake, The Engines Of God by Jack McDevitt, Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, aliens, xenoarcheology, terraforming, Tom Weiner, hard SF, 2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke, exoplanets, social science fiction, soft SF, The Windup Girl by Paulo Bacigalupi, androids, first contact, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, how to win any argument about modern SF: bring up Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick, hero characters doing villainous things, Island Of The Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, Summer Of The Monkeys by Wilson Rawls, Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke, hovercraft, Australia, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, marine biology, District 9, the MacGuffin in District 9 is stupid, Avatar, Sharlto Copley, Star Trek, Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel, Full Cast Audio, audio drama, Science Fiction, alternate history, Fantasy, airships, pirates, lifting gasses, phrenology, Howard Hughes, Thomas Edison, Graphic Audio, Brandon Sanderson‘s Warbreaker, Elizabeth Moon‘s Serrano Legacy series, audio drama is for truckers!, Jesse’s pick of the week: William Friedkin‘s Sorcerer (1977), laserdiscs, the great thing about laserdiscs!, VHSrips!, The Wages Of Fear (1953), Scott’s Pick of the week: Gene Wolfe’s The Book Of The New Sun (a novel in four parts), narrated by Jonathan Davis, the SFFaudio Yahoo! Group, Audible.com, Blake’s 7 The Early Years – Jenna: The Trial / The Dust Run (Vol. 1.5), Carrie Dobro, Babylon 5: Crusade, the Blake’s 7 television series, Blake’s 7 is the best audio drama space opera series ever!, Brian AldissHelleconia series, Non-Stop by Brian Aldiss, Best SF Stories of Brian W. Aldiss, the fix-up novel, Dreamsongs by George R.R. Martin |READ OUR REVIEW|, Maps In A Mirror by Orson Scott Card, short stories turned into novels, Karen Makes Out (a short story), Out Of Sight (a novel) by Elmore Leonard, Out Of Sight (the film), Karen Sisco, Meatball Fulton‘s Ruby The Galactic Gumshoe, NPR, Recorded Books, The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, what Jesse wants for his birthday: the complete fiction of Ted Chiang in audio, The Bishop’s Heir by Katherine Kurtz, the Deryni series, David Weber, series should end!

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFBRP: Luke Burrage in conversation with Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast My friend Luke Burrage, of the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, has placed a candid conversation that we had into his podcast feed! I’m shocked. Shocked!

How dare he do such a thing?!?

Admittedly, he did ask my permission (and did receive it) but still … the effrontery is absolutely unbelievable.

Have a listen for yourself: SFBRP #072.5 – Luke and Jesse in Conversation |MP3|

Here’s what we talked about:

R. Scott Bakker, audiobooks, Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, Blindsight by Peter Watts, Moving Mars by Greg Bear, Courtney Brown, Science Fiction and Politics Podcast, feminism, utopias, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, cloning, remote viewing, nature vs. nurture, nurture as a subset of nature, epistemology, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fantastic Voyage and Fantastic Voyage II by Isaac Asimov, the strange life of a photon, combat, Aristotelian values, Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear, Century Rain by Alastair Reynolds, The SFFaudio Podcast #041, FlashForward by Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward the TV show, Michael Crichton, podcast production, savvy marketing, good women writers, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, prolific authors, Out Of Sight by Elmore Leonard, Lobsters by Charles Stross |READ OUR REVIEW|, Halting State by Charles Stross, End of an Era by Robert J. Sawyer, science as a basis of fiction, Luke’s second novel (tentatively titled either Monster Story or Teeth and Claws).

Here’s SFBRP‘s podcast feed:

http://www.sfbrp.com/?feed=podcast

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Killing Castro by Lawrence Block

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

Dutch Treat The Audiobooks of Elmore Leonard

Aural Noir: Online Audio

My Elmore Leonard AudiobooksDutch Treat The Audiobooks Of Elmore LeonardAs you can see by my stack of Elmore Leonard audiobooks, gathered from my shelves, Dutch Treat: The Audiobooks of Elmore Leonard is just the kind of podcast I’m looking for. It’s on a highly specific subject, one that couldn’t really exist in any other format. The unnamed host takes clips from each Elmore Leonard audiobook (abridged and unabridged) to showcase Leonard’s terrific dialogue in the hands of some of the top narrators in the audiobook business. It was great to hear Grover Gardner, Joe Mantegna, Robert Forster chewing up Leonard’s dialogue once again. The only real detraction I see, in this super-fun podcast, is the highly unnecessary “strong language” warning.

It’s Elmore Fucking Leonard for fuck’s sake!

Actually there’s not a gratuity of swearing in these audiobooks, which makes the warning doubly annoying. Might as well say: “Elmore Leonard is a fiction writer, none of the events in these novels have actually happened.”

[sigh]

Okay, enough of my whining, have a listen.

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://dutchtreat.libsyn.com/rss

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Coyote in the House By Elmore Leonard

A Coyote's in the House by Elmore LeonardA Coyote In The House
By Elmore Leonard; Read by Neil Patrick Harris
3 CDs – 3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Children’s Audio
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0060728825
Themes: / Fantasy / Anthropomorphic Fiction / Movies / Crime /

This dog was cool for a homeboy, an older male who had peed all over this big yard, marking it to let everybody know this was his turf and nobody else’s. Keep it, homes. Live here and get food handed to you. Believe you’re somebody in your pitiful kept world, no better than a slave.”

Buddy’s the aging movie star, Antwan’s the streetwise hipster and Miss Betty is the showgirl. Buddy also happens to be a German Shepherd, Antwan is a wild and wily Coyote and Miss Betty is a bouffant Poodle. A Coyote In The House is a kid’s book in the tradition of Jack London’s The Call of The Wild. In essence this it is the same story, simply with a sub-urban as opposed to an arctic setting – that and Elmore Leonard’s patented prose. It’s not just Leonard’s dialogue that’s distinctive; it’s his story structure, characters, and cadence that all scream Elmore Leonard. And that’s very disconcerting. Leonard hasn’t written anything but adult crime novels and westerns so to hear this audiobook was truly odd. I think kids and adults who listen with together will both be pleased. It’s a fun story but it’s a strange experience for fans of Elmore Leonard’s other novels.

I couldn’t get over how Leonard completely ignores the impossibility of the situation he’s created. I know it’s a kid’s story, and kids won’t likely see it the way I do, but this story is utterly impossible. It basically ignores everything we do know about animal intelligence and replaces it with hipster lingo and human motivations and then marches on, oblivious to all the impossibilities those things entail. As an example, Buddy, the aging German Shepherd movie star, watches his old movies all day long – every animal in A Coyote In The House is intimately familiar with movies and movie stars – this despite the story logic that these canines, felines and avians can’t understand most of what humans say (and vice versa). Further, the animals can’t manipulate objects with their paws like in a Disney movie say, and yet somehow Buddy is able to – off screen – grab a VHS tape of one of his movies put it in the VCR and watch it, rewind it and put it back before his owners get home and see him. “Oh come on,” you say. “It’s a kids story, it doesn’t have to make sense.” Maybe. It didn’t ruin the experience for me but it didn’t let me fully enjoy it either. I just think that it’d have been a far better story to tackle, realistically, the animal’s perspective head on.

One other curious thing of note. The use of the word “bitch.” In any other Leonard novel it wouldn’t be a novelty – here it refers doubly as a slang term (for adult listeners) and as a female canine for children. Some adults may have a problem letting their kids hear such words, when the usage is not clear cut but I think that’d be the wrong attitude to take – the word is legitimately used here and I’d be far more concerned about kids thinking that animals are just like people – when they aren’t – than learning a “bad” word. Performed by Neil Patrick Harris, A Coyote In The House has a goodly number characters with distinctive voices. Harris is quite impressive as a reader! His audiography seems to consist mostly of children’s novels, perhaps a legacy from his child stardom. In any case he’d be a good reader of adult novels too.

Posted by Jesse Willis