SFFaudio’s Challenge: The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper

SFFaudio Online Audio

Meta SFFaudio - SFFaudio Contest - Make audiobook win an audiobookI am extremely pleased to announce that…

Mark Nelson, the narrator of our 1st place entry in our “Make An Audiobook, Win An Audiobook Challenge” has also scored 3rd place!

Late Monday evening I received an email from Mark with a link to his reading of The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper. This exahusts the three original awards I allotted for the the challenge. I didn’t expect to have this happen – heck, I wasn’t even sure that I’d even get a single taker for the challenge, let alone have three finished novels within the space of 2 months. Boy, was I ever wrong! And I couldn’t be more pleased about it.

This challenge has yielded 3 complete and unabridged Science Fiction audiobooks from the public domain. Because of this I am determined to cook up another challenge list.

In the meantime, be sure to check out this brand new audiobook that will be a boon to audiobook readers of the Science Fiction persuasion…

Librivox Audiobook - The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam PiperThe Cosmic Computer
By H. Beam Piper; Read by Mark Nelson
11 MP3s or 11 OGG Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: COMPLETED January 15th 2006
Conn Maxwell returns from Terra to his poverty-stricken home planet of Poictesme, “The Junkyard Planet”, with news of the possible location of Merlin, a military super-computer rumored to have been abandoned there after the last war. The inhabitants hope to find Merlin, which they think will be their ticket to wealth and prosperity. But is Merlin real, or just an old rumor? And if they find it will it save them, or tear them apart?

Congratulations again Mark and thanks!

Mark Nelson is narrating another audiobook for the SFFaudio Challenge!

SFFaudio News

Mark Nelson, the narrator of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer, has staked his claim for another title from the SFFaudio Challenge list! Behold our art for it…

Librivox Audiobook - The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper

This is Mark’s second entry in our challenge – if you’ll recall, back in November I challenged anyone to turn in any one of a number of previously unreleased public domain novels into an unabridged single voiced audiobook. As an incentive, I offered a BRAND NEW unabridged commercial audiobook to the first person to complete and release one of the books from the list. Mark did it and it was an absolutely terrific audiobook! I am super-juiced at the idea he’s doing another.

Look for The Cosmic Computer AKA “Junkyard Planet” by H. Beam Piper to show up on the pages of LibriVox in “a couple of weeks”!

Congratulations again Mark and thanks!

Now since my original challenge will soon be running out of the original batch of audiobooks (at least two out of the three Blackstone Audiobooks I purchased for the event are going to be mailed out shortly), I’d like to ask what you SFFaudio readers would like to see included in the SECOND CHALLENGE!

YUP, that’s right, we’re going to add to the list and RENEW the challenge with more incentive audiobooks. So I’ll ask you folks. Which, of the more modern Science Fiction, Fantasy (and Horror if there are any) public domain books on Manybooks.net or Project Gutenberg would you like to see added to the list? I’ll also ask you what kind of commerical audiobooks you would like to see given out by us as the incentive for the SECOND CHALLENGE? Post your thoughts! Make your voice count! And claim your titles!

Commentary: Make your own Public Domain Audiobook or Podcast Novel: Win A Prize

SFFaudio Commentary

Meta SFFaudio - SFFaudio Challenge - Make audiobook win an audiobookThe SFFaudio Challenge – # 1

What do you do if you have a good voice and want to record something Speculative Fiction related but don’t have any ideas on what to record?

I have a suggestion!

At SFFaudio our first and best love is UNABRIDGED Science Fiction audiobooks. The good news is there are a large number of public domain Science Fiction or Fantasy novels that have yet to be read aloud. You needn’t bother with fancy sound effects. There’s no need for incidental music. In fact most audiobook listeners prefer their listening to be without these frills. All you’ll need is a microphone and a nice quiet room. This is the way traditional audiobooks have been recorded for nearly thirty years. But even with all those years of recording there are still DOZENS and DOZENS of name-author novels and stories available for your narration. These will be exclusive recordings!

With all the hype about Creative Commons of late you may have forgotten or maybe you never realized that there is so much in the public domain still to be recorded. In researching the complete fiction audiography of Cory Doctorow I came across no fewer than three versions of Cory’s Down And Out In the Magic Kingdom audiobook. That is probably two times to many – especially when you consider that so many public domain titles are still languishing unrecorded!

Now it isn’t like everyone has forgotten about the public domain. Admittedly, there are a few people recording public domain SF & F – like our very own Time Traveler for instance. His Time Traveler Show has a classic Science Fiction short story in nearly every podcast. There’s also Maureen O’Brien, of Maria Lectrix, who has recorded novels like Little Fuzzy and Dawn Of Flame. We’re also fond of the folks at Voices In The Dark who have recorded a number of Lovecraft’s tales. And no discussion of public domain could forget LibriVox. LibriVox is doing good work, but they aren’t, for my tastes, doing enough that is close enough to the modern era. They do stuff like Burroughs, Shelley, Twain, London and Wells, in other words, a lot of stuff that traditional audiobook publishers have already done at one time or another. There are already versions of The Time Machine and Dracula and many, many other relatively familiar novels from dozens of different professional vendors. I think it is about time more people to start doing some SF or Fantasy that isn’t from the early 20th century or prior, or if it is, make sure at least that hasn’t been recorded commercially previously. To that end I’ve compiled a short list of potentially do-able novels. Check these puppies out:


The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed December 17th 2006 by Mark Nelson – 1st title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Badge Of Infamy by Lester Del Rey |Gutenberg Project|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed January 14th 2007 by Steven H. Wilson – 2nd title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

The Cosmic Computer (AKA Junkyard Planet) by H. Beam Piper |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed January 15th 2006 by Mark Nelson – 3rd title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

The Answer by H. Beam Piper |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND WILL SOON BE RELEASED (Completed January 22nd 2007 by Mark Nelson – 4th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Plague Ship by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed March 2007 by Mark Nelson – 5th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Star Surgeon by Alan Nourse |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed June 15th 2007 by Scott Farquhar – 6th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|


Triplanetary by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|
This title has been COMMERCIALLY RELEASED by Books In Motion.

The Black Star Passes by John W. Campbell |Manybooks.net|



The Sky Is Falling by Lester Del Rey |Gutenberg Project|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by Jeffery Tillotson)

Operation: Outer Space by Murray Leinster |Manybooks.net|

City At World’s End by Edmond Hamilton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by James Kocher)

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF SUMMER 2007 (Claimed by Cindy Woods)

The Door Through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley |Manybooks.net| THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY AUGUST 2007 (Claimed by Christie Nowak)

A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylindner by James De Mille |Manybooks.net| This 19th century title hasn’t been audiobooked even by a commercial audiobook company.THIS TITLE IS IN PROGRESS (Claimed by Robert A. Graff)

The Skylark Of Space by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS IN PROGRESS (Claimed by Mark P. Steele)

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF SUMMER 2007 (Claimed by Cindy Woods)

The Secret Of The Ninth Planet by Donald A. Wollheim |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by Cliff Charles)


This World Is Taboo by Murray Leinster |Manybooks.net| (Manybooks.net has a computer generated audiobook, but of course such a reading sucks compared to a human being)

Warlord Of Kor by Terry Gene Carr |Manybooks.net| *There is now a multiple-reader version available from LibriVox, but someone wanting to do a single voice reading is still invited to do so).

The Galaxy Primes by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|

This is just a smattering of what exists in the public domain. You could turn any one of these into a complete podcast novel or an amateur unabridged audiobook. You could even turn them into copyrighted audiobooks should you so desire – and even try selling them. Your voicing of a public domain book is eminently copyrightable. Podiobooks.com has started hosting Librivox titles, if you do a good job with your reading I think you’d have a good chance of getting your files hosted with Podiobooks – and maybe even get some donations too! If that still doesn’t quite do it for you read on…

As an incentive, I will offer a BRAND NEW unabridged audiobook to the first person to complete and release an unabridged reading (in a single human voice) of one of the novels on this list above. As the first person to complete this challenge you’ll need to notify me by email and verify to me the existence and availability of these files. As a winner you’ll receive your choice of one of the following Blackstone Audio audiobooks:

Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick
This audiobook has been won by Mark Nelson for his completion of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer

Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
This audiobook has been won by Steven H. Wilson for his completion of Badge Of Infamy
by Lester del Rey

Animal Farm by George Orwell
This audiobook has been won by Mark Nelson for his completion of The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper

If you have any questions about the contest, or anything written above let me know and I’ll add details. SFFaudio wants you to make audiobooks!

** UPDATE ** Nov 13th 2006 @ 1PM

Nate Peterson has written in asking:

“How do I get started? What equipment do I need and what software? What format do you want?”

Here are some answers Nate:

1. Choose a title from the list above. You’ll probably want to print out at least one copy of it. Read through the novel, make sure it is something you’ll want to record.

2. Get yourself a microphone. I hear USB mics work quite well but many amateur narrators get good use out of cheaper equipment.

3. Audacity is some good freeware that many people starting out using. It is relatively versatile and the learning curve isn’t too high. You’ll probably also want to grab an MP3 LAME encoder so you can export your files into the MP3 format. HERE is a link on how to do that.

4. MP3 format is the preferred standard, but it isn’t required to fulfill the contest. Details on what bit-rate, etc, should be worked out in advance, LibriVox and Podiobooks.com both have resources that can help you choose (more on that below).

5. There is a terrific resource available at Podiobooks.com. Their authoring guidelines (a PDF file) will give you a good general outline of what standards and practices will help you to make a better audiobook. Also, LibriVox has a number of experienced amateur narrators in their forums from which you can draw expertise. They have also created a wiki that will answer many technical questions.

** UPDATE ** Nov 16th 2006 @ 9:30PM

Banshee points out that…

“Manybooks.net apparently has the wrong version of some of those books which Gutenberg is going to post, but hasn’t posted yet. For example, the version of The Skylark of Space on manybooks.net is the book version, which is still under copyright. The public domain version is the magazine version, which they have over at durendal.org. Since Smith extensively revised Skylark, that’s a problem you can’t just sweep under the rug.”

Thanks for pointing that out Banshee. Yikes! If someone has already started recording a copyrighted version of one of these novels listed at Manybooks.net they will still be eligible for the prize (but they will still have to prove they recorded the entire novel), they will obviously however not be able to release the audiobook in any sort of commercial capacity. If this turns out to be the case the entrant who recorded a public domain version will still get a prize. I will award two prizes (of your choice) – one to the ‘mistaken copyrighted’ entrant, one to the public domain entrant. Nobody will be cheated for an error of ‘was it copyrighted or public domain?’ Sound fair?

** UPDATE ** Dec 19th 2006 @ 11:38PM

Three titles have been claimed! One has already been completed, another is set to release and one is set to begin recording. Nice work folks!

** UPDATE ** Dec 22nd 2006 @ 11:30PM

Four titles have been claimed. One has completed, another is set to release and two others are going to begin recording soon. Cool!

** UPDATE ** Jan 8th 2007 @ 2:10PM

Seven titles have been claimed. One has been completed and released, another has been completed and is being podcast! More updates as they come.

** UPDATE ** Jan 21st 2007 @ 12:10AM

Eight titles have been claimed. Three have been completed and released! All three of the prize audiobooks have been won. I’m still not sure what prizes will be offered to those challengers who are still striving to complete their claimed titles. Suggestions are welcomed.

** UPDATE ** Jan 22nd 2007 @ 8:48PM

Only 9 titles remain unclaimed! I’ve pulled Triplanetary by E.E. “Doc” Smith from the list because it has actually been commercially released already. The Answer by H. Beam Piper will be appearing in an H. Beam Piper short story collection.

** UPDATE ** March 30th 2007 @ 11:17PM

Only 7 titles remain unclaimed! This is so awesome.

** UPDATE ** May 16th 2007 @ 8:25AM

A mere 6 titles remain unclaimed! Nice work folks!

** UPDATE ** July 16th 2008 @ 4:53PM
7 titles have been completed, and only 4 titles are left to be claimed.

H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy as a FREE UNABRIDGED audiobook!

Little Fuzzy is a minor classic of Science Fiction by H. Beam Piper. Thanks to the wondiferous hobby of Maureen O’Brien it is now available in its unabridged entirety as an amateur produced MP3 audiobook. All 17 chapters are available now for free via archive.org.

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam PiperLittle Fuzzy
By H.Beam Piper; Read by Maureen O’Brien
17 Zipped MP3 Files – 6 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
PODCAST: Maria Lectrix
COMPLETED: October 2006

The planet Zarathustra is going through a dry spell. Land-prawns, ecologists, and scared bureaucrats are coming out of the woodwork. But there’s more trouble to come. The cutest little alien critter you’ve ever seen: Little Fuzzy.

The story revolves around determining whether a small furry species discovered on the planet Zarathustra is sapient. Along the way a gentle kind of libertarianism that emphasizes sincerity and honesty is advocated. This is generally considered a “juvenile” novel.

The narrator, Maureen O’Brien, first released each chapter as an instalment on her Maria Lectrix Podcast which she describes as “Six days a week of public domain audiobooks — mystery, history, adventure, devotion — for people with Catholic tastes.” About Little Fuzzy she writes:

“Right now, I’m making an audiobook of H. Beam Piper’s novel Little Fuzzy. It’s in the public domain and on Gutenberg, because Piper didn’t renew copyright. Piper is one of my younger brother’s favorite authors, so I’m really doing it for him. But the funny thing is that I actually am enjoying the book a lot more than I did back in junior high; I guess the legal and corporate maneuvering makes more sense to me now.”

Little Fuzzy is finished, I asked her what else she’d been working on. It seems that Maureen’s been in fandom more than a dozen years, helping out at some conventions and writting for an shared world superhero zine, Vanguard Dossier. She says…

“I record public domain stuff because I am cheap and have time on my hands. Also, it’s nice to give something back to the Internet that’s given so much to me. Back in the BBS days, you were expected to upload a certain amount of material to offset all the files from other people that you were downloading. I think I’ve done that now.”

And has she ever she’s recorded dozens of other stories, novels, poems and plays too!

“I’m afraid my choice of literary works is a bit haphazard, as I usually pick on whim something I like, something I’ve been meaning to read, or something I run across that looks interesting. My original plan was to podcast mostly short stories, short essays, and a few longer works. Instead, novels and epic poems have taken over my podcast.

For quite a while, I was broadcasting something from the works of antebellum New York SF/Fantasy writer Fitz James O’Brien every Monday. Partly this was because I like his stuff and think he’s unfairly neglected. But partly it’s because I had a hard time deciding what to read on Mondays and he narrowed that down quite a lot. But Fitz had a very interesting take on life, and I enjoyed that a lot. He was also amazingly prolific; there are still tons of stories by him that I haven’t done.

I also really enjoyed reading Lord Dunsany, who has been one of my all time favorite authors since I first encountered his stories. When he really gets rolling, his fantasy can veer abruptly from the highest flights of beauty and language to the silliest comedy within a few sentences. He was wonderful to read; and I fully intend to read some more stories by him later this year. I would love to hear someone adapt one of his spooky plays as an audio drama; I think they might work very well.

A lot of the epic poems I’ve podcasted are actually fantasy novels in poetic form. Lucan’s Pharsalia is full of witchcraft and horror, ancient Roman style. Scott’s The Bride of Triermain is pure fantasy, with King Arthur, demigoddesses, bards, phantoms, and all.”

It is all very cool and I’m going to be keeping my ear attuned to Maureen’s passion. I’ve subscribed to her podcast. If you’re interested you too can subscribe by plugging this feed into your podcatcher: