GeekBlips: TV that inspires

SFFaudio News

Geek Blips Robyn Lass, the editor of GeekBlips.com asked me to contribute to a “blogger opinion” article, kind of a mind meld like post (of the kind SFSignal.com regularly does). Here’s the question she asked:

“If you could have the ability/gadgetry of your favorite science fiction TV or Movie character and join them – in their world – on one of their adventures, who would it be and why?”

Yeah. So, I wasn’t sure I could answer the question. Join their adventures? That’s not me exactly. But, there was something there. I thought about it for a few hours. Then, I finally wrote this:

A few years ago there was a pirate broadcast called Prisoners Of Gravity that would regularly interrupt a lame TV Ontario nature show called Second Nature. Lasting just under a half hour, it was hosted by a crazy Canadian who had strapped a rocket to the roof of his Camaro, launched himself into space and then crashed into an orbiting satellite. From there, in his high castle, Commander Rick (aka Rick Green) lived, surrounded by the things he’d brought with him: computers, comics and lots of paperback books.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, a shadowy crew of SF fans would rove the bookstores and Science Fiction conventions recording interviews with the creators of SF and Fantasy. They’d take the interviews with writers like Robert J. Sawyer, Alan Moore, Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman and Garth Ennis, and upload them all to Commander Rick in the satellite. From there Rick would record these interviews onto audio cassettes and keep them for use in his live broadcasts. He would also make use of the telephone and satellite video feeds that he had access to in order to record live interviews with his guests during the show. The programs were compiled and broadcast with the help of a mute, but highly intelligent, computer named NanCy. Topics discussed were different every episode,with individual shows on censorship, superheroes, humor, religion, fairy tales, Mars, cyberpunk, war, overpopulation, sex and much, much more.

The series aired 139 episodes over a five years mission – it is rumored that Commander Rick died (having perhaps run out of food) – but it is also rumored that he returned to earth – since then NanCY has managed just a very few transmissions in the form of reruns. There was no better news magazine program that explored SF, Fantasy, Horror and comics and their various themes and ideas.

I’ve been thinking it would be really great to strap a few solid rocket boosters to the roof of my own car and do my own show. In the meantime I’ve been bidding on ebay for used spacesuits. One day I may win one.

You can see the original article |HERE|. You’ll find a few other peoples’ answers too.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #040

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #040 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Steve Feldberg of Audible.com to talk about Audible Frontiers and other Audible.com projects. We talk audiobooks the whole show, giving particular attention to those produced by Audible.com itself. Steve tells us all about a bunch of the upcoming Science Fiction, Fantasy, espionage, and crime audiobooks we can expect to see showing up in the Audible catalgoue this year and next!

Talked about on today’s show:
Audible.com, Audible Frontiers, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, Robert J. Sawyer, Frederik Pohl, how to translate font and textual changes to audio, Oliver Wyman, Jonathan Davis, METAtropolis |READ OUR REVIEW|, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, narrator performance, The Wind Up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, how do you pick stuff?, Battlestar Galactica, Mike Resnick‘s Starship series, space opera, dialogue driven audiobooks, David Weber‘s Honor Harrington series, female protagonists, Mike Shepherd‘s Kris Longknife series, military SF, Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series, novella and novelette length audiobooks, METAtropolis, Michael Hogan, Alessandro Juliani, Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer, Stefan Rudnicki, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Scott Brick, Hopscotch by Brian Garfield, espionage novels, Death Wish by Brian Garfield, Hopscotch (1980) starring Walter Matthau, Six Days Of The Condor by James Grady, mystery and thriller audiobooks, Jim Thompson, copyright disambiguation, Hard Case Crime, BBC Audiobooks America, Christa Faust, The Ghosts Of Belfast by Stuart Neville, Gerard Doyle, Eragon by Christopher Paolini, Jeremy Gage, Lawrence Block, pseudonymous narrators, Grover Gardner (aka Tom Parker), Mercedes Lackey‘s Elemental Masters series, fairy tales, Starplex by Robert J. Sawyer, WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer |READ OUR REVIEW|, Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer, Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s Retrieval Artist series, William Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Count Zero, All Tomorrow’s Parties are all coming to audiobook, wouldn’t a multi-voiced version of Neuromancer be great? Yes it would!, Stanisław Lem, audiobooks are coming, Gene Wolfe‘s The Book Of The New Sun is coming to audio, epic fantasy is hard to turn into audiobooks, David Eddings, Subterranean Press, how the audiobook experience is different than the paperbook experience, Harlan Ellison as a narrator, we need some Jack Vance audiobooks, Brilliance Audiobooks, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Seeing Ear Theatre, audio drama, James Patrick Kelly, copyright disambiguation part II, the Bradbury 13, J. Michael Straczynski‘s City Of Dreams, Mary Burkey’s Audiobooker Blog, audiobook reading groups, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Audible.com’s internal book club.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Two Plays For Voices by Neil Gaiman

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audio Drama - Neil GaimanTwo Plays For Voices
By Neil Gaiman; Performed by two Full Casts
2 CDs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio / Seeing Ear Theater
Published: 2002
ISBN: 0060012560
Themes: / Fantasy / Angels / Vampires / Fairy Tales /

Stories included:
Snow Glass Apples
Once upon a time there lived a young princess with skin as white as snow, with hair as black as coal, with lips as red as blood. Most people think they know what happens to this young unfortunate girl. Most people are wrong. Tony-award winning actress Bebe Neuwirth stars as a wise Queen who wants nothing more than to reign over her kingdom peacefully but is forced to match wits with an inhuman child who has an unnatural taste for blood.

Full Cast List:
Bebe Neuwirth as the Queen ; Martin Carey as the Huntsman; Mark Evans as the Prince; Merwin Goldsmith as the Lord of the Fair; J.R. Horne as the Archbishop & Friar; Alissa Hunnicutt as the Maidservant; Randy Maggiore as a Soldier; Kate Simses as the Princess; Nick Wyman as the King

Murder Mysteries
In this mystery noir set in heaven’s City of Angels before the fall, the first crime has been committed. It is an awful one. While the angelic hosts labor to create the world and its workings, one of their number is mysteriously slain by one of their own. Raguel, Angel of Vengeance, is mandated by Lucifer to discover both motive and murderer in this holy dominion that had so recently known no sin. Golden Globe award winning Brian Dennehy stars as Vengeance.

Full Cast List:
Brian Dennehy as Raguel ; Anne Bobby as Tink’s Friend; Christopher Burns as Saraquael ; Thom Christopher as Lucifer ; Ed Dennehy as Zephkiel ; Michael Emerson as Narrator ; Traci Godfrey as Tinkerbell Richmond ; Evan Pappas as Phanuel

I find audio dramatizations to be generally inferior to straight unabridged readings. There are certainly exceptions; it is just my personal general experience. But every once in a while an exception is so forcefully good, so sweet and so right, it makes me question my general preference in total. And no audio drama thus far has shaken this conviction better than these two “plays for voices”.

I of course heard them both back when they first turned up on the Seeing Ear Theater website, and I was blown away then. I told everyone to go check it out, and I still send people to the site every now and then, but after hearing them on crystal clear CD I’ve decided that even though the website is free, the CD set is the preferred way to listen. The sound is exquisite, the packaging elegantly designed, and when they do decide to remove the wonderful collection of audio dramatizations that makes up the Seeing Ear Theater website collection I’d be kicking myself for not owning a hard copy of both of these amazing dramatizations. I should also note that like much of Neil Gaiman’s adult fantasy, both of these stories feature explicit sexual scenes.

So what makes this collection so great? Well, Gaiman’s unique storytelling gift has something to do with it – probably most to do with it if truth be told. But where Gaiman’s writing leaves off the adaptors pick up with the same skill level – and fail to spoil it.

My main complaint with audio dramatizations in general is that they tend to be “improvements” of the text rather than adaptations. Countless stories have been ruined by incautious adaptors who failed to respect, and in many cases even understand, the story they are adapting. This is most emphatically not the case with these two dramas. The cast and crew of both have achieved that same level of artisanship as Neil Gaiman himself. The casting is brilliant! Bebe Neuwirth, who most people would recognize from her film and television work, is a stage trained actress with two Tony awards to her credit. I can think of no one better than she for the role of the unfairly maligned queen in Snow Glass Apples. In Murder Mysteries, a bit more of an ensemble piece, two actors stand out as achieving similar greatness. Brian Dennehy in the lead role, and Michael Emmerson as the British accented narrator. But in lauding all three of these perfectly cast actors I must be careful to note that several uniformly talented players in their own right support them. Their parts may be small but they do them exceedingly well.

Much praise also must be given to sound designer John Colluci, who had a hand in nearly every Seeing Ear Theater production. The music, foley work and stereo effects are perfect. And of course the producer and director of both these dramatizations, Brian Smith deserves the highest praise. Without him neither would have been possible. Everything has come together in both these productions. There was not one small disappointment, not a single minor flaw, not one awkward moment. Two Plays For Voices is flawless, flawless, flawless.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of 84.2 Minutes with Algis Budrys

84.2 Minutes with Algis Budrys84.2 Minutes Of Algis Budrys
By Algis Budrys, Read by Algis Budrys
1 Cassette – 84.2 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Unifont Company
Published: 1995
ISBN: 1886211019
Themes: Science Fiction / Interstellar Travel / War / Immortality / Post Apocalypse / Fairy Tales / Alternate History / Parallel Worlds /

The four stories in this rare collection are densely packed with terrific science fiction ideas and all four share a haunted bittersweet quality. Algis Budrys lets the power of his text completely rule over his performance. Budrys barely distinguishes between the characters; he reads it in an almost conspiratorial style saying, “If you don’t like them, there’s very little more I can say. But I secretly think you will like them, in which case there’s nothing much more I need to say”. His philosophy has extended into the production as well, this is a very utilitarian audiobook, pages can be heard turning in the background while he reads, the cover art is completely non-existent and the title is hardly evocative of much at all, but despite it all 84.2 Minutes Of Algis Budrys is a worthy addition to any science fiction audio fan’s library. The only hard part may be getting a hold of one!

Stories Included:

“The Distant Sound Of Engines”
Severely maimed in an automotive accident, a patient recovering in hospital listens as his roommate, a dying man spouts formulas for faster than light travel, the alloy specifications for ultra strong spacecraft hulls and everything else necessary to make humans an interstellar species. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s March 1959 issue.

“Explosions!”
On a distant water-world that was long ago colonized by humans, a pirate king comes up with a plan to unify the many islands of his planet, and do it by force. “Explosions!” was written under the pseudonym William Scarff and first appeared in Tomorrow Speculative Fiction’s April 1993 issue.

“The Price”
The Earth’s civilizations have been destroyed, fewer than 100 people survive, mankind’s last hope is an enigmatic hunchback who’s been imprisoned for more than 150 years. He’d been chained in various dungeons or enslaved in forced labour camps, but when Europe was annihilated in a global war, and every person there was destroyed, he alone walked out. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s February 1960 issue

“Never Meet Again”
England surrendered in 1940, by 1941 German U-boats ruled the Atlantic, by 1942 the Russian’s had surrendered at Stalingrad. Now fifteen years later a respected researcher in the Greater German Reich has finished his life’s work, a machine that can access alternate worlds. “Never Meet Again” was first published in the 1958 anthology The Unexpected Dimension.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Bernardo’s House by James Patrick Kelly

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Bernardo's House by James Patrick KellyBernardo’s House
By James Patrick Kelly; Read By James Patrick Kelly
FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD (link to jimkelly.net) – 1 Hour (26.97 MB) [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: www.jimkelly.net
Published: April 2004
Themes: Science Fiction / Post Apocalypse / Robots / Artificial Intelligence / Sexuality / Fairy Tales /

“Once on time,” said the girl, “Louise lives in that castle. Louise’s Mom dies, don’t say where her Dad goes. So Louise stuck with spang bitch taking care of her. That Louise castle got no door, only windows high and high. Now Louise got most hair.” Fly spread her arms wide. “Hair big as trees. When spang bitch want in, she call Louise. ‘Louise, Louise, let down buzzy hair.’ Then spang bitch climb it up.”

In the future women will come in all shapes and sizes but men will still be pigs. This is especially true about a philandering homewrecker named Bernardo. Bernardo left 3 years ago, leaving poor Louise alone with no one to talk to… until a young girl named “Fly” arrived. James Patrick Kelly’s hilarious stories never fail to bring a smile to my face and “Bernardo’s House” is no exception. Kelly tends to write very funny personal stories, charged with human and sometimes alien emotions – his recurring themes include biological problems and ethical dilemmas. Kelly also has a great fondness for inventing new words; he is in fact a raving neologist. But all these traits are completely in service to his stories, and in the case of “Bernardo’s House”, the comedic situation and the main character’s apprehension of it is truly tempered by our own baggage that we bring to the experience, turning a story that starts out as fluff into a bittersweet morality tale. “Bernardo’s House” was first published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 2003 issue, and at this writing is a finalist for the Hugo Award.

Sound quality and production values are excellent. Kelly is a real performer! He infuses his reading with a bouncy upbeat tone that makes the funny scenes even funnier. But the very best part about “Bernardo’s House” is that its available for FREE! Kelly only asks that if you enjoyed hearing this tale you consider making a donation to his PayPal account, donations encourage future recordings so it’s a real positive feedback loop!

Posted by Jesse Willis