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

Watching for Robert Sheckley’s Watchbird

SFFaudio Online Audio

Every time I read a Robert Sheckley story I become re-enamored with the cutting burn of his insights. The latest Sheckley tale that I’ve been reading is his 1953 futuristic fable Watchbird. It’s about a new policing tool, a device that can prevent murder at the point of action. It’s not funny exactly, but it is satirical, and quite beautiful in parts:

“Over the town, the watchbird soared in a long, lazy curve. Its aluminum hide glistened in the morning sun, and dots of light danced on its stiff wings. Silently it flew.

Silently, but with all senses functioning. Built-in kinesthetics told the watchbird where it was, and held it in a long search curve. Its eyes and ears operated as one unit, searching, seeking.”

The watchbirds of the title are flying robots equipped with the tools to do their jobs – they sniff out the “outpouring of certain glands” and “taste” the “deviant brain wave” of a murderer before he or she can strike. But the watchbirds have also been programmed with the knowledge that not all murderers are wrathful, some like one hit-man who shows up in the story, have no feelings about the murders they commit. And so, they must learn to watch out for these hidden murders, to look out for the precursors to cold killings. And that’s where I think Sheckley’s radical departure comes in.

Denotation is at the heart of human conflict.

I take this as the thesis of Robert Sheckley’s short story Watchbird. Like many of those classic Science Fiction stories, Watchbird is nothing like plausible. I can’t imagine that Galaxy’s editor, Horace Gold, accepted Sheckley’s tale on the grounds that it was a logical extrapolation of where technology was going. This, even despite the long history of unmanned aerial vehicles which I am sure both Sheckley and Gold were aware of. Indeed, though we now live in a world where the likes of the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, equipped with air-to-ground AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, can strike any target – the technology was never the issue. Sheckley’s concern is in what motivates their use. So the question then, as now, is: “What’s the difference between a killing and a murder?”

In answer to that question I think Watchbird should be better known, more read, and perhaps like Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984, it should be read by those who would seek to govern. Sadly, I think this unlikely. I’m not convinced Watchbird‘s epistemological skepticism is as palatable as the simplicity of: a “boot stamping on a human face— forever” or that of a megalomaniacal pig.

Epistemology is a hard, hard sell, but as we strive for the moral conclusions we so desire, we must, if we are to be clever, first reconcile all the varied definitions that we think we know.

This kind of story is of history and humanity, written as with an exploded view. Words like “right” and “wrong”, “murder” and “kill” are used to map the world and as such they are the explanation of, and sometimes the reasons for, the actions we see all around us. As evidence I can only submit Watchbird:

Audiobooks:

LIBRIVOX - Watchbird by Robert SheckleyWatchbird
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 16, 2010
Strange how often the Millennium has been at hand. The idea is peace on Earth, see, and the way to do it is by figuring out angles. First published in the February 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

Audio Drama:

Tales Of TomorrowTales Of Tomorrow – Watchbird
Based on a story by Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: ABC Radio (American Broadcasting Company)
Broadcast: 1953
Provider: OTR-Cat.com

2000X - Watchbird based on the story by Robert Sheckley2000X – The Watchbird
By Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
Audible Download – Approx. 35 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Publisher: The Hollywood Theater of the Ear / Audible
Published: 2000
Science invents a flying robot that prevents murder, but there’s a fateful glitch. Adapted for audio by William F. Nolan and Ytzhak Berle, with a cast featuring Newell Alexander, Janet Carroll, Jerry Castillo, Joe Greco, Melissa Greenspan, Allan Miller, Stefan Rudnicki, Hamilton Camp, Brian Finney, and Bradley Schreiber.

Springbok Radio - SF'68SF’68 – Watchbird
Based on the story by Robert Sheckley; Adapted by Michael McCabe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3|* – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: Springbok Radio
Broadcast: 1968
Provider: The Zombie Astronaut’s Frequency Of Fear #0.048
*The adaptation begins at approx. the 43 minute mark.
SF’68 was produced in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1968.

Other:

-The original publication in Galaxy Science Fiction |ETEXT|HTML|

-Video adaptation in The Masters Of Science Fiction TV series.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #054

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #054 – Jesse and Scott talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals, the new releases and the current listens.

Talked about on today’s show:
Full Cast Audio, Kenneth Oppel, Starclimber, alternate, Lionsgate City (aka Vancouver), Space Station Rat by Michael J. Daley, Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein |READ OUR REVIEW|, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow |READ OUR REVIEW|, 1984 by George Orwell, Brilliance Audio, A Local Habitation by Seanan McGuire, Mary Robinette Kowal, Where Angels Fear To Tread by Thomas E. Sniegoski, angels, Roger Zelazny, Blackstone Audio, Frostbite by David Wellington, werewolves, 13 Bullets by David Wellington, vampires, Let The Right One In, Dead Snow, David Wellington’s “Monster Trilogy”, zombie apocalypse, Survivors (2008), Terry Nation, Survivors (1975 – 1977), 30 Days Of Night, dreamy vampires, Blackstone Audio, Vampire$ by John Steakley, John Carpenter’s Vampire$, bounty hunting, Dark Is the Sun by Philip Jose Farmer, Recorded Books, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, LibriVox.org, Rastignac The Devil by Philip Jose Farmer, Gregg Margarite, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, Love Bites by Lyndsay Sands, the paranormal romance problem, Blue Moon by Laurell K. Hamilton, Obsidian Butterfly by Laurell K. Hamilton, Single White Vampire by Lyndsay Sands, Penguin Audio, The Silent Sea by Clive Cussler and Jack DeBrule, Dirk Pitt, “Jacque Cousteau as James Bond”, Cujo by Stephen King, Firestarter by Stephen King, The Monster Of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Running Man by Stephen King = reality television, Robocop, Thinner by Stephen King, The Long Walk by Stephen King, The Long Walk by Sławomir Rawicz, Siberia, walking from Siberia to India, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins |READ OUR REVIEW|, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Cube, dragons, How To Train Your Dragon, Anne McCaffrey, Eragon, Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne, Komodo dragons, Dragonslayer, Dragonheart, Smaug, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast, DragonLance, Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George, Roadwork by Stephen King, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy meets The Omega Man, where the pseudonym “Richard Bachman” came from, “everything comes back to Donald E. Westlake”, Blackstone Audio, Empire Builders by Ben Bova, Nova Audiobooks, NASA, cutting the Constellation program, CBS coverage of Apollo 11, Robert A. Heinlein was a commentator for Apollo 11, why do we have so little Heinlein audio and video?, Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, Oath Of Fealty by Elizabeth Moon, Graphic Audio, The Serrano Legacy, Galaxy Press, A Matter Of Matter by L. Ron Hubbard, The Crossroads by L. Ron Hubbard, time travel, Captive Market by Philip K. Dick, economics, Brilliance Audio, Saucer by Stephen Coonts Saucer: The Conquest by Stephen Coonts, Peter Watts, The Eyes Of The Overworld by Jack Vance, Breaking Point by James Gunn |READ OUR REVIEW|, Tales Of Dying Earth by Jack Vance, “Vance has ideas and style”, The Last Castle by Jack Vance, The Moon Moth by Jack Vance |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy interviews The Tolkien Professor.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #020

Podcast

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

Commentary: What are we missing?

SFFaudio Commentary

SFFaudio MetaBy any measure of the times were living in, there is a new audio renaissance. More audiobooks are getting made now than ever before. And more SF, Fantasy and Horror audiobooks are being released than ever before. Here’s a list of the top 10 SFF novels from Sci-Fi lists:

1. Frank Herbert Dune
2. Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game
3. Isaac Asimov Foundation
4. Douglas Adams Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
5. George Orwell 1984
6. Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
7. Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451
8. William Gibson Neuromancer
9. Isaac Asimov I, Robot
10. Arthur C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey

All of these novels have had UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK releases at some point or another. Several have had more than one unabridged release! That’s wonderful. But I’m still not satisfied. What novels are we still missing? Or rather, what novels are you missing.

Personally I’m missing a few, here’s a list of just 10 titles I’ve picked from out of the air. I’d like to see any and all of these made into unabridged audiobooks:

1. Scott Lynch The Lies Of Loch Lamora
2. Dan Simmons Hyperion
3. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle The Mote In God’s Eye
4. Clifford Simak Way Station
5. Alfred Bester The Stars My Destination
6. Steven Gould Jumper
7. Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space
8. Robert J. Sawyer Golden Fleece
9. John Brunner Stand On Zanzibar
10. Ken MacLeod The Star Fraction

What novels are missing from your audiobook shelf?

Posted by Jesse Willis

Vintage Radio Drama of George Orwell’s 1984

SFFaudio Online Audio

Online Audio - NBC University TheatreWar is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Big brother is watching listening. Yep we’re talking propaganda, the fabrication of “truth”, the outlawing of dissent, the distortion of reality, endless war… and of course thought crime. No we’re not talking about the goings on on 2007, were talking about the 1949 NBC University Theater’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. This production originally aired on August 27, 1949 but is available today for your listening enjoyment is the very first adaptation of 1984 and it stars David Niven!

1984
Based on the novel by George Orwell; FULL CAST
1 MP3 – 54 Minutes 15 Seconds – [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: August 27, 1949

[via Indymedia UK]