Recent Arrivals/Commentary: Blackstone Audio – Anderson, Powers, Matheson, Kress and Heinlein

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Blackstone AudiobooksWe all know that old idiom – “don’t judge a book by its cover” – we all know it is a metaphor, that it isn’t supposed to be literal. In fact, to take it literally is to actually misunderstand the point of it.

But books, the literary things that they are, ARE of course pre-judged based on their covers. We decide whether we want to buy, borrow or steal them, rightly or wrongly, because of their covers. Here’s a great set of covers. I judge these covers as actually looking like really good reads based on their covers. The author names being clearly legible help me, the titles and font being legible and clever help me, but it is the images that are the most visceral component of helping me decide which book is to be picked up, and which is to be ignored.

Take this one. This is the kind of cover that makes you say: “That is fucking cool! Lemme see it for a second.” Then you gaze at it for a while, flip it over, read the back and buy it.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Harvest Of Stars by Poul AndersonHarvest Of Stars
By Poul Anderson; Read by Tom Weiner
15 CDs – Approx. 17.9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: August 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781441788986
Earth lies crushed in the grip of totalitarianism. To save her planet, Kyra Davis is sent on a mission to liberate the last bastion of freedom and to rescue its legendary leader. Her bold adventure will sweep her from Earth’s rebel enclaves to the decadent court of an exotic lunar colony.

I like the cover on this one too. Its creepy and ethereal. The blood and the textual shadow make it look like a ghost or vampire story. Without actually telling me the story it still gives me a real sense of what the book might be like (whether that’s accurate or not). This is an affective cover.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Stress Of Her Regard by Tim PowersThe Stress Of Her Regard
By Tim Powers; Read by Simon Vance
14 CDs – Approx. 16.7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: May 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781441757180
When Michael Crawford discovers his bride brutally murdered in their wedding bed, he is forced to flee not only to prove his innocence but to avoid the deadly embrace of a vampire who has claimed him as her true bridegroom. Joining forces with Byron, Keats, and Shelley in a desperate journey that crisscrosses Europe, Crawford desperately seeks his freedom from this vengeful lover who haunts his dreams and will not rest until she destroys all that he cherishes. Told in the guise of a secret history, this tale of passion and terror brilliantly evokes the nineteenth century. The chilling horror and adventure blend to create a riveting romantic fantasy.

Image and color and font work much better than color and font alone. We get the “shadow on the sun” of the title, along with an actual shadow on the sun (which is maybe a raven or a hawk). I’m not much for abstract, but the boughs in a fiery orange could be fire or leaves or both. It’s much better than just color and font. This cover is both striking and mysterious.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Shadow On The Sun by Richard MathesonShadow On The Sun
By Richard Matheson; Read by Mark Bramhall
5 CDs – Approx. 5.6 Hours
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: July 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781441739957
Southwest Arizona, a century ago — An uneasy truce exists between the remote frontier community of Picture City and the neighboring Apaches. That delicate peace is shredded when the bodies of two white men are found hideously mutilated. The angry townspeople are certain the “savages” have broken the treaty, but Billjohn Finley, the local Indian agent, fears that darker, more unholy forces may be at work. There’s a tall, dark stranger in town, who rode in wearing the dead men’s clothes. A stranger who may not be entirely human.

In this case the image is actually a visual allusion to the cover of The Great Gatsby (and other covers). The foreground framing invites us in, as through a doorway, to go down into the valley where lies that city, a mesa metropolis – and all the while the stars above are watching. The only criticism I have here is that while the font is good there is a repeat on the “E” (and the “S”) – that’s slightly distracting.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Steal Across The Sky by Nancy KressSteal Across The Sky
By Nancy Kress; Read by Kate Reading
9 CDs – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: July 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781441792402
The aliens appeared one day, built a base on the moon, and put an ad on the Internet: “We are an alien race you may call the Atoners. Ten thousand years ago we wronged humanity profoundly. We cannot undo what has been done, but we wish humanity to understand it. Therefore we request twenty-one volunteers to visit seven planets to Witness for us. We will convey each volunteer there and back in complete safety. Volunteers must speak English. Send requests for electronic applications to [email protected]” At first, everyone thought it was a joke. But it wasn’t. This is the story of three of those volunteers and what they found on Kular A and Kular B.

This one feels like it was made quickly (by a skilled artist) mostly out of stock images. The pocket-watch and the radioactive hazard trefoil give you a couple of tips as to the plot (time travel and nuclear war), but there’s also the Sam Browne belt equipped figure (with double braces) walking into what looks like an African Savannah – it all makes you want to open it up and see where that dude is going.

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. HeinleinFarnham’s Freehold
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Tom Weiner
8 CDs – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: June 5, 2011
ISBN: 9781441791702
Hugh Farnham is a practical, self-made man, and when he sees the clouds of nuclear war gathering, he builds a bomb shelter under his house, hoping for peace and preparing for war. But when the apocalypse comes, something happens that he did not expect. A thermonuclear blast tears apart the fabric of time and hurls his shelter into a world with no sign of other human beings. Farnham and his family have barely settled down to the backbreaking business of low-tech survival when they find that they are not alone after all. The same nuclear war that catapaulted Farnham two thousand years into the future has destroyed all civilization in the northern hemisphere, leaving Africans as the dominant surviving people. In the new world order, Farnham and his family, being members of the race that nearly destroyed the world, are fit only to be slaves. After surviving a nuclear war, Farnham has no intention of being anyone’s slave, but the tyrannical power of the Chosen race reaches throughout the world. Even if he manages to escape, where can he run to?

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #102

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #102 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about new audiobook, book, and comic book releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Infinite Worlds Of H.G. Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Memory by Donald E. Westlake, Hard Case Crime, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, nihilism, SFSignal’s 122 books that bring Scott to tears, All The Lives He Led by Frederik Pohl (a semi-nihilistic novel), Yellowstone, “half minus negative zero”, A Matter Of Time by Glen Cook, The Black Company, Abel One by Ben Bova, blood and flesh and shirtless, Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, BoingBoing, Russian Ark, Enigmatic Plot vs. Enigmatic Pilot, Enclave (aka Razorland) by Ann Aguirre, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Scorch Trials, The Hunger Games, Hunt The Space Witch and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg, WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer, Starstruck, Blair Butler, “Geoff Boucher’s Los Angeles Times Hero Complex ‘Get Your Cape On’ pick of the week”, The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, Macmillan Audio, Audible.com, Brilliance Audio, Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman, Lawrence Block, O. Henry-ish, “I see no reason to buy through iTunes” (vs. Audible.com), Limitless (aka The Dark Fields) by Alan Glynn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flowers For Algernon, Understand by Ted Chiang, acquiring a whole bag of pills, “smart people are neat”, Tantor Media, History Is Wrong by Erich von Däniken, Jesse becomes momentarily depressed, The Guns Of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, John Lee, the John Cleaver series, have world events have sped because of modern technology?, Libya, Tripoli, “The Graveyard Of Empires”, “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores Tripoli”, NPR, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, cola, the Today In Canadian History podcast, the Canadian Navy, I Don’t Want To Kill You by Dan Wells, I Am Not A Serial Killer, “normally I don’t do this”, Dexter, the Writing Excuses podcast, Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove, alternate history, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Grover Gardner, Eric S. Rabkin, George Orwell’s 1984, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Dufris, binary fission, Tantor Media is very innovative in including ebooks with their audiobooks, we need a new demarcation to desperate urban fantasy romance from SF, “conspiracy and ignorance based books”, The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, Tales From A Thousand Nights And The Night (aka 1,001 Nights!) translated by Richard Burton, The Thousand Nights And A Night is the first fix-up novel, Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, South America, Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome, To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, Atlantis And Other Places by Harry Turtledove, Slave To Sensation shouldn’t be a science fiction novel, Orson Scott’s Card Intergalactic Medicine Show, Rejiggering The Thingamajig by Eric James Stone on Escape Pod #277, body-swapping, I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, gender-swapping, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Heinlein’s old theme: “naked people talking to each other”, Heinlein likes to examine social preconceptions and social prejudices, “not a Heinlein classic but still classic Heinlein”, Eifelheim, Luke Burrage, Idiot America by Charles P. Pierce, George Washington riding a dinosaur, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, contemporary with Tolkien (rather than derivative of Tolkien), Michael Moorcock, Eric Birghteyes by H. Rider Haggard, Bronson Pinchot, The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, anthropomorphic fiction, quasi-Science Fiction, quasi-Fantasy, Coyotes In The House by Elmore Leonard |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Call Of The Wild by Jack London, We Three by Grant Morrison, Transmetropolitain, Warren Ellis, Tama’s pet peeve in comics is silent panels, Audible Frontiers, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, The Tripods, The Sam Gunn Omnibus, The Steel Remains, Cliffs Notes are now available as audiobooks, Brave New World, The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler, Eat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks, William Coon’s Eloquent Voice titles, Andre Norton’s The Time Traders, Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg |READ OUR REVIEW|, Philip K. Dick, Henry James, Anton Chekov, Paul of Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth.com The Whisperer In Wax, wax cylinder tech, Embedded by Dan Abnett, SFSignal.com.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #072 – READALONG: Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #072 – Jesse and Scott talk with Julie Davis, of the Forgotten Classics podcast about Assam And Darjeeling by T.M. Camp |READ OUR REVIEW|.

Talked about on today’s show:
Assam & Darjeeling by T.M. Camp, Podiobooks.com, iTunes, serialized fiction, entertaining copyright notices, where do you do your podcast listening?, I’ve got my hands full of car, the volume on Assam And Darjeeling is way too low!, remastering Assam And Darjeeling for audiobook, listening to podcasts at double speed (only on iTouch and iPhone), the premise of Assam And Darjeeling, Hades, the underworld, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, Escape From Hell by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle , The Divine Comedy: The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, Virgil’s The Aeneid, Ovid, the Brothers Grimm, witches, Greek Mythology, Edgar, no one can be as cruel as a kid, Joss Whedon, in the hands of a skillful author, Matters Of Mortology by T.M. Camp, Kij Johnson‘s The Fox Woman, the Black Gate blog, foxes in mythology, Aesop’s Fable The Fox And The Grapes, Cernunnos, Herne the Hunter, making the switch from comedy to horror and horror to comedy, the Shaggy Man (in the Oz series), Tom Bombadil, he has psychic powers too?, page 18, masterly dialogue put into the mouths of young children, the PDF version of Assam And Darjeeling, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson, life after death, Inception, Edgar Alan Poe should go into the underworld to get his wife Virginia, The Memory Palace episode about Edgar Allan Poe’s death (Episode 20 strong>This Ungainly Fowl), This American Life is really bleak, WNYC’s Radiolab isn’t, general fiction is generally bleak, A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Flannery O’Connor, Science Fiction vs. general fiction, Social Science Fiction, Science Fiction has a second layer, it’s not all style, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, Staggerford by Jon Hassler, there are ways to tell powerful stories, A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, Bangsian Fantasy, Fantasy, re-reading The Lord Of The Rings, the more I think about it the more I think I don’t like Fantasy, SFSite.com, derivative Fantasy, romance novels, Jane Austen, John Thorne, The Long Walk by Stephen King (Richard Bachman), The Stand, It, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Under The Dome, Shirley Jackson, Ray Bradbury, long vs. short, The Cell by Stephen King, 28 Days Later, Desperation by Stephen King, The Rapture, if you were a character in this book who would you be?, the rule that makes any book better: talk about food, Lawrence Block, the economy of the afterworld, lampshading, I’m done with sequels, Mike Resnick’s Starship series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, The Fall Of Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green, Adventures by Mike Resnick, mammoths vs. mastodons, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Mister Ron presents: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

SFFaudio Online Audio

Podcast - Mister Ron's BasementMister Ron’s Basement podcast has a special Christmas Episode that features the original 1921 F. Scott Fitzgerald story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. A wonderful motion picture adaption of this story starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett is being released to movie theaters right now. It is a great movie. But the original Fitzgerald story is a work of genius, and the movie differs from it dramatically. We had considered serializing it across the span of a week, but instead offer the lengthy tale in its entirety. It is almost an hour long. Please download this, relax, and enjoy. You can find the episode http://slapcast.com/users/revry/6979

If the web site is down (it has been happening occasionally lately while the switch to a faster server is forthcoming), then you can load it directly from the feed at:

http://slapcast.com/mp3/revry/revry-2008-12-25.mp3

Your feedback is especially welcome. Please write to: [email protected]   

Posted by Mister Ron