Science Fiction and Politics University Course continues

Online Audio

Science Fiction and Politics Professor Courtney Brown‘s course at Emory University is a Political Science course entitled Science Fiction and Politics (Political Science 190). We’ve talked about this course more than once. But, as the new lectures appear in the feed, this podcast gets renewed interest, and thus prompts new posts. So here’s another, this one lists all the currently available lectures (Spring 2007 is now completed at Emory). Brown’s lectures below are from two semesters and feature some incisive political insights found in more than a dozen SF novels.

Lectures available:

01: Introduction and Overview |MP3|
02: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|
03: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (2 of 2) |MP3|
04: Foundation And Empire by Isaac Asimov |MP3|
05: Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov |MP3|
06: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1 of 2) |MP3|
07: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (2 of 2) |MP3|
08: The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2) |MP3|
09: The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (2 of 2) |MP3|
10: The Uplift War by David Brin (1 of 2) |MP3|
11: The Uplift War by David Brin (2 of 2) |MP3|
12: Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (1 of 2) |MP3|
13: Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (2 of 2) |MP3|
14: How to write your essays |MP3|
15: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1 of 2) |MP3|
16: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1 of 2) |MP3|
17: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1 of 2)|MP3|
18: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (2 of 2)|MP3|
19: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1 of 2) |MP3|
20: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (2 of 2) |MP3|
21: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1 of 3) |MP3|
22: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (2 of 3) |MP3|
23: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (3 of 3) |MP3|
24: Neuromancer by William Gibson (1 of 2) |MP3|
25: Neuromancer by William Gibson (2 of 2) |MP3|
26: On free will [based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy] (1 of 2) |MP3|
27: On free will [based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World] (2 of 2) |MP3|
28: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2) |MP3|
29: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (2 of 2) |MP3|
30: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (1 of 2) |MP3|
31: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (2 of 2) |MP3|
32: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|
33: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|

You can subscribe to the podcast via this feed:

http://www.courtneybrown.com/classes/scifi/mp3/cb_SciFiPoliticsClass1.xml

Also, Dr. Brown tells me that he’s been getting requests from some of his students for more female Science Fiction authors. He asks if we have any “top-of-the-list suggestions?” He’s been using Hugo and Nebula award winning novels, but we all know that there are plenty of novels out there that haven’t won a Hugo or a Nebula that are still worthy of examination. Can you think of any Dr. Brown should add to his class for next year?

NPR Weekend Edition "Arkham House & H.P. Lovecraf…

SFFaudio Online Audio

NPR Weekend EditionNPR Weekend Edition – Arkham House & H.P. Lovecraft
Sunday, October 31, 2004, 7 Minutes 31 Seconds
LINK TO THE NPR SHOW:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4133870 This all to short radio feature outline’s the history of small press publisher Arkham House, talks about H.P. Lovecraft and includes brief interviews with Gary Gygax, Greg Bear and Ray Bradbury. It also includes a snippet from Sunset Audio’s The Dunwich Horror audio dramatization. Cool stuff!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The finalists for this year’s Audie Awards were an…

The finalists for this year’s Audie Awards were announced on Feb. 23rd. Here are some genre-related nominees:

The finalists for the SCIENCE FICTION award are:

The Callahan Chronicles

Written by: Spider Robinson

Read by: Barrett Whitener

Blackstone Audiobooks

Darwin’s Children

Written by: Greg Bear

Read by: Scott Brick

Books on Tape, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Dune: The Machine Crusade

Written by: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Read by: Scott Brick

Audio Renaissance, A Division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Books on Tape, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Monstrous Regiment

Written by: Terry Pratchett

Read by: Stephen Briggs

Harper Audio

Still Life With Crows

Written by: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Read by: Rene Auberjonois

Time Warner AudioBooks

Among the nominees for CHILDREN’S TITLES FOR AGES 8+ is:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Written by: J.K. Rowling

Read by: Jim Dale

Listening Library

Phoenix also shows up in the PACKAGE DESIGN category, and as a nomination for Jim Dale for SOLO NARRATION – MALE. George Guidall is up for the same award for Don Quixote from Recorded Books, and Campbell Scott for Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake.

And in the AUDIO DRAMA category:

The Chronicles of Narnia

Written by: C. S. Lewis

Performed by a Full Cast

Focus on the Family

which also appears in the PACKAGE DESIGN and ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION categories.

See all the nominees at the Audio Publisher’s Association website. The winners will be selected on June 4 at the Audie Awards, a black-tie event at the Harold Washington Public Library Center in Chicago.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Wind from a Burning Woman by Greg Bear

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Wind from a Burning Woman by Greg BearThe Wind from a Burning Woman
By Greg Bear; Read by George Guidall and Christina Moore
7 Cassettes – 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 1992
ISBN: 1556907672
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Terrorism / Asteroids / Metaphysics / Religion / Utopia / Dystopia / Future City / Cloning / Aliens

This superior anthology collects several early Greg Bear stories. The narrators, George Guidall and Christina Moore, guide us skillfully through Bear’s dense prose and do so with obvious relish. This collection features only top-notch stories — any single tale alone would be sufficient evidence that Bear is a future Grandmaster of science fiction and fantasy. Bear’s later novels occasionally suffer from a density that makes reading difficult. Very little of this is evident in this collection. The stories are generally clear in the telling, and where they are not, the confusion is brief. The wholly original and infinitely interesting ideas contained within each story make worthwhile any brief confusion of style.

The Wind from a Burning Woman, the title story, was later to serve as a prequel to Bear’s novel Eon, and describes the possible consequences of the ultimate act of terrorism.

The White Horse Child is an great allegory about a curious young boy who will grow up to become a writer. Written in a style that owes a debt to Clifford D. Simak, this pastoral fantasy story is an instant classic. Petra is a very unusual fantasy tale, its religious theme tackles the hard boiled consequences of taking certain biblical prophecies events as actual future events. So brilliantly does it achieve originality it reminds us why Greg Bear is so exceedingly interesting to read.

Scattershot is my personal favorite in this collection. Its sheer inventiveness and exploration of the consequences of metaphysical physics makes it a fascinating listen.

Mandala is an almost satiric examination of the far end of the curve of utopian ideals. It could almost be thought of as Greg Bear’s take on Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars.

Hardfought is a Hugo-winning novella that follows the viewpoints of both the aliens and the humans in their interstellar war. It could be considered Greg Bear’s take on Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. In order to fight their battle, humans have adapted in strange ways. It’s an absolutely fascinating read.

Stories included:
The Wind from a Burning Woman
The entire crew of Psyche, an asteroid turned into a spaceship, is murdered. Giani, the granddaughter of the project’s administrator commandeers the spaceship in an attempt to uncover the truth.

The White Horse Child
An odd allegory about a boy becoming a writer. God fearing, book burning, censoring Auntie Dancer tries to stop a child from becoming a storyteller.

Petra
“God is Dead”, when stone comes alive after reality rearranges itself. Petra is a half-caste, a lowly figure in the world of the cathedral. His father was a living statue, his mother a human nun.

Scattershot
Francis Geneva finds herself allied with a robotic Russian teddy bear after her starship has an accident. She and her new companion are forced to explores the consequences of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. In a reality where every possibility exists coping can be quite stressful. Sometimes the aliens are from Earth.

Mandala
In order to become perfect the sentient cities of Earth cast off their final flaw, the problem causing people. Mandala explores a future where mankind has reverted to a stone age existence after losing access to their technology.

Hardfought
Insular aliens known as the Sylexy are at war with humanity, in an attempt to understand their strange enemy they capture and clone a human soldier.

Review of Queen of Angels by Greg Bear

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Queen of Angels by Greg BearQueen of Angels
by Greg Bear; Read by George Guidall
14 Cassettes – 19.75 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Date Published: 1991
ISBN: 0788763482
Themes: / Science Fiction / Nanotechnology / Artificial Intelligence / Near Future /

Emanuel Goldsmith, a famous poet, murdered eight people, then disappeared. Three people want to find him: an aspiring writer, an embittered scientist who wants to use him, and a policewoman who needs to put him in custody before the Selectors, a vigilante organization, get to him first.

What if human consciousness were just an algorithm resembling a computer program? In Queen Of Angels, Greg Bear shows us, and more. It is a future where someone changing his mind means “reprogramming” it to get rid of the mental flaws. A future in which nanotechnology enables people to radically change their physical appearance. A future where a criminal has his mind “debugged” instead serving a sentence in prison. And a future in which artificial intelligences strive to become self aware.

Queen of Angels is absolutely chock full of fresh and interesting Science Fiction ideas, but it can be quite confusing due to its six separate story threads. This clarity problem is compounded by a complete lack of explicit transitions. A listener attempting this audiobook must be prepared to pay very close attention. The story stagnates somewhat in the middle but it is ultimately worth the time because two of the narratives end in disturbing original ways.

Prejudice is a central theme in this novel. Nanotechnology and mental reporgramming technology has completely restructured society’s class system into the unaltered and the altered human camps. And the consequences meted out by these technologies make for a world where only the perfect “therapied” job seekers get high paying jobs and promotions.

Having previously enjoyed Greg Bear’s breathtaking novel Blood Music and his admirable short fiction collection entitled The Wind from a Burning Woman, I’d only recommend Queen of Angels to fans of those books who thought them easy reading.