New Releases: A Century of Science Fiction, an unabridged narrat…

New Releases

A Century of Science Fiction, an unabridged narrated history of science fiction film and television, Request Audiobooks
This looks interesting… from the description: “Here are the details of some of the most well known science fiction films and television series ever created: A Trip To The Moon, The Day The Earth Stood Still, The War of The Worlds, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Planet of the Apes, Aliens, Star Wars, Star Trek, and many more. Listen to the recapitulations of sci-fi voyages from the men and women who realized these fantasies. With interviews and sound bites from their films, William Shatner, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephen Spielberg, and Kevin Costner, along with Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, Raquel Welch, Orson Welles, just to name a few, speak of their excursions into strange, new worlds…”

Eye for Eye by Orson Scott Card, read by Stefan Rudnicki, Unabridged, Request Audiobooks
Here’s an audio version of Orson Scott Card’s Hugo Award-winning novella Eye for Eye.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, read by Christopher Hurt, Unabridged, Blackstone Audio
Ray Bradbury’s classic novel about a fireman whose job it is to burn books. Click here for an audio sample.

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin, read by John Lee, Unabridged, Random House Audio
Book 4 in the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by George R.R. Martin. Been waiting for this one… It’s also available at Books on Tape in library binding. Yay! Listen to excerpt oneListen to excerpt two.

The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, read by Jonathan Kent, Unabridged, Tantor Media
A classic H.G. Wells novel from Tantor Media, the fine folks who brought us Edgar Rice Burroughs on audio.

King Kong by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper, read by Stefan Rudnicki, Unabridged, Blackstone Audio
This is a novelization of the original King Kong script, and includes commentary by Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Orson Scott Card, Harlan Ellison, Larry Niven, Catherine Asaro, Jack Williamson, and Marc Zicree. Click here for an audio sample.

March Upcountry by David Weber and John Ringo, read by Stefan Rudnicki, Unabridged, Blackstone Audio
A novel by two masters of military SF – click here for an audio sample.

Master of Dragons by Margaret Weis, read by Suzanne Toren, Unabridged, Audio Renaissance
This is the third novel in a trilogy written by Margaret Weis, who is half of the Weis-Hickman team that wrote many popular epic fantasy novels in the Dragonlance series. Click here for an audio sample.

Run for the Stars by Harlan Ellison, read by the Author, Unabridged, Request Audiobooks
A new (to audio) story by Harlan Ellison. That alone makes it a must-have!

Star Wars: Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno, read by Jonathan Davis, Abridged, Random House Audio
Star Wars! I continue to be impressed with the richness of the Star Wars line of audio novels. Jonathan Davis is the perfect reader, and the production quality is first rate.

The Unnameable: Four Tales by H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. Lovecraft, Read by David Cade, with music by Paolo Barzini, Unabridged, Tales of Orpheus
Contains: “The Book”, “The Music of Erich Zann”, “The Cats of Ulthar”, and “The Unnameable”

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, read by Maxwell Caulfield, Unabridged, Request Audiobooks
The original War of the Worlds novel.

And from Escape Pod in the past month:
“The Death Trap of Dr. Nefario” by Benjamin Rosenbaum, read by Chris Miller with Stephen Eley
“The Great Old Pumpkin” by John Aegard, read by Stephen Eley
“Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw” by Jeffrey R. DeRego, read by Jonathan Sullivan
“The Ludes” by Lisa M. Bradley, read by Stephen Eley
“Mount Dragon” by Vera Nazarian, read by Stephen Eley

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Thanks to SFFAudio reader Esther for a couple of a…

SFFaudio News

Thanks to SFFAudio reader Esther for a couple of additions to the Hugo Award Winners on Audio page:

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinFor 1970 Best Novel Winner The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin we added this audio version:
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, abridged and read by the author, Waldentapes (Warner Audio), Abridged, 1985, ISBN: 068132774X

A Boy and His Dog by Harlan EllisonAnd for 1966 Short Fiction Winner “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” we added this audio version:
“A Boy & His Dog” & “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison, read by the author, Unabridged, ISBN: 0681327774, Waldentapes (Warner Audio), 1985

Thanks very much, Esther!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Voice from the Edge Vol. 1: I Have No Mouth a…

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Voice from the EdgeThe Voice from the Edge Vol. 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
By Harlan Ellison, read by Harlan Ellison
5 CD’s – 6 hours [UNABRIDGED stories]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 1574535374
Themes: / Science Fiction / Collection / Series / Post-Apocalypse /Artificial intelligence / Utopia / Dystopia / Magic Realism / Love / Hell /

There are two basic reasons to invest in a short story collection by a single author. The first is to experience first hand the stylistic, thematic, and technical contributions the author has made to his genre and to literature in general; the second is to sample the dynamic range the author covers, to gauge the extent of his palette.

This audio book delivers the first in spades. With Harlan Ellison’s friendly, yet curmudgeonly introduction, we are thrust immediately into the gritty, rawness he helped bring to science fiction. Such stories as the harrowing, lurid, complex title story, the gleefully offensive misogyny and sociopathy of “A Boy and His Dog”, the pop-cultural, pejorative ranting of “Laugh Track”, and the sophomoric sexual preoccupation of “The Very Last Day of a Good Woman” clearly delineate the dark, adult-oriented themes he introduced, as well as his predilection for unlikable anti-heroes who often leave us feeling a bit less comfortable about ourselves. And on such material, his distinctive narrative style shines. He curses with conviction, and his voice handles guilt, revenge, and damnation with seeming familiarity.

In the overall story choice, we also have a remarkable demonstration of the range of Ellison’s writing. Compare the patient, redemptive power of “Paladin of the Lost Hour” to any of the stories mentioned above, and you’ll see what I mean. Throw in the sly, haunted twist of “The Time of the Eye”, the overwrought post-modernism and tedious beatnik vamping in “’Repent Harlequin!’ said the Tick-Tock Man”, the sublime, hellish search for love in “Grail”, and the puzzling juxtaposition of the truly horrific and the trivial in “The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke”, and you cover quite a swath of not only the science-fiction spectrum, but the fiction spectrum in general.

Unfortunately, the use of a single narrator for all these stories blurs their uniqueness, especially since that narrator is Harlan Ellison. His delivery style can be enjoyable, but it is so raw, so exaggerated and so pervasive that it tends to flatten the relief of the work itself. I can’t say that I question the wisdom of having Ellison narrate, for on any single story his voice adds the confident insight that only an author can bring to his own work. But this is a collection, and the diverse stories deserve a wider range of vocal performance to truly showcase their differences. My advice is to make the best of this paradox by taking the collection slowly. The quality of the material, the exceptionally crisp sound and the fine, user-friendly packaging make this an audio book you should not miss, just make sure to pace yourself.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

NPR’s Weekend Edition did a little piece on the tu…

SFFaudio News

NPR Weekend EditionNPR’s Weekend Edition did a little piece on the tumultuous history of the adaption of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot with comments from those who think the film is a disappointment, like SF authors Geoffrey Landis and Harlan Ellison, and from the film’s supporters, including Asimov’s widow Janet Jeppson and the film’s director Alex Proyas.

Click here for the show.

NPR has also posted a couple of neat sound clips by Harlan Ellison, one on his unfilmed screenplay of I, Robot and the other on why it didn’t get made.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Hollywood Fantasies: Ten Surreal Visions of Tinsel Town

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Hollywood FantasiesHollywood Fantasies – Ten Surreal Visions of Tinsel Town
By Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Ed Gorman, John Jakes, David Morrell, Michael Reaves, David Schow, Robert Sheckley, Robert Silverberg and Henry Slesar; Read by Susan Anspach, David Birney, Harlan Ellison, Jamie Farr, Laini Kazan, Steve Kmetko, Harley Jane Kozak, Favid Madden and John Rubinstein
4 cassettes – Approx 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dove Audio
Published: 1997 – hardcopy out of print (available for download at Audible)
ISBN: 0787109460
Themes: Fantasy / Hollywood / Movies / Television / Westerns / Witchcraft / Virtual Reality / Magic /

Learn the truth behind the mask of Hollywood in these ten bizarre tales of dreams and dream weavers, movies and movie-makers, by some of the most respected fantasy writers of our time.

This disappointing collection has a few redeeming tales, but few must-listen gems. The majority of the stories feel like filler – many feature tacked on twist endings that are less than stellar. Apparently Harlan Ellison’s reading of his own story, “Laugh Track,” has been modified in the performance – with the addition of a few lines here and there – if anybody’s gonna mess with a story it best be the author. The cover art is utilitarian but colorful, packaging for this audiobook is however very poor, most examples of these 4 cassette plastic cases with cardboard covers have become unbound as the glue holding the two together was not up to its task. Another minor annoyance, the mislabeling of cassette 4, Ed Gorman’s story “Gunslinger” is said to run through all of side 7 and onto 8, when it is the reverse. “Dead Image” starts on side 7 and runs through all of side 8.

Stories Included:

“The Never-Ending Western Movie” by Robert Sheckley
Jamie Farr’s gruff cowboy voice successfully narrates this 1976 short story, which posits an alternate world in which the old-fashioned movie serial westerns and reality television have merged. This is hard enough on the actors, who now have to do their own stunts, but when the prop guns fire real bullets acting scared isn’t too tough.

“One For The Horrors” by David Schow
A run-down movie theater shows prints of lost movie masterpieces like The Man Who Would Be King starring Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable? The only thing that could top that is what’s playing tomorrow night! This one really is fantasy! Strictly for film connoisseurs – it held my interest but could have exited the stage a little more interestingly. Author David Schow must have done some fascinatingly fun research for this one. Reader Steve Kmetko works some magic of his own in the theater of the ear.

“The Man Who Wanted To Be In The Movies” by John Jakes
George wants to be in movies, so he visits his local licensed witch to cast a spell that’ll do the job. Harley Jane Kozak, the narrator, is fine – but the story itself is absolutely pointless and uninteresting.

“Laugh Track” by Harlan Ellison
Have you ever wondered where the laugh tracks from television sitcoms come from? Meet Wally Modisett, the Phantom Sweetener. Originally appearing in “Weird Tales” Magazine in 1984, this overly lengthy tale is almost made up for in part by Ellison’s enthusiastic performance, told in first person.

“Reality Unlimited’ by Robert Silverberg
Virtual Reality movies. Neat idea, but that’s all it is, the idea is there but the story is M.I.A.. When this tale was written in 1957 it might have had some point to it, today it’s barely a curiosity. A disappointing story by the usually reliable Silverberg. But on the other hand Susan Anspach reading of it was fine.

“The Movie People” by Robert Bloch
Movie extras have been in Hollywood films since the silent era, but just because they have no lines doesn’t mean we can’t read between them. Adequate and with a modicum of originality this tale would have benefited from a few more drafts before publication – it wanted to be a better story. John Rubenstein takes his time with the telling – a laconic voice that doesn’t detract from the story.

“Werewind” by Michael Reaves
A serial killer and a lonely howling wind may be connected. The only question is how. Marginally listenable, Michael Reaves’ story isn’t predictable, but neither is it comprehensible. It feels like a refugee from a Danielle Steele novelization of A Nightmare on Elm Street – and that doesn’t make any sense to me either! David Madden’s reading is far better than this short deserves.

“The Movie Makers” by Henry Slesar
Henry Slesar’s ode to 1950’s science fiction b-movies succeeds – in disappointing the same way those bad movies do – minus the cheesy special visual effect. The twist ending is also predictable. Lainie Kazan’s serviceable reading is adequate to the story’s requirements – though consider the predominant male characterization a female narrator is a questionable choice.

“Gunslinger” by Ed Gorman
In the early Twentieth century cowboys were heading away from the range and towards Hollywood, where they’d take on roles in the burgeoning western film frenzy. One man however is has a score to settle with one of these cowboys turned film actors, and its gonna be real bullets that’ll fly. “Gunslinger is illogically placed in this collection – it is not fantasy. It is set in Hollywood, but isn’t particularly fanciful. David Birney doesn’t have much to do here, but neither does he fail to achieve what’s required – to tell the story.

“Dead Image” by David Morrell
A thinly veiled tale about movie rebel James Dean, that asks the question: If Dean had a second chance at life would he do things any different? This very interesting tale depends upon a listener’s knowledge of James Dean’s life and death – also neat was the appearance of a Dennis Hopper type. Morrell’s tale isn’t likely to be turned into a film itself, but it’s full of neat ruminations on destiny and fame. Jamie Farr’s deep voice makes a second, and very welcome, appearance in this collection. He’s becoming one of my favorite celebrity narrators.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Voice from the Edge Vol 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Voice from the Edge Vol 1 by Harlan EllisonThe Voice from the Edge Vol 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
By Harlan Ellison; Read by Harlan Ellison
5 CD’s – 6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2002
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Short Stories / Artificial Intelligence / Time / Demons /

This is a collection of Harlan Ellison’s best (well… most popular) stories. The most oft-reprinted tales are here, among them: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “‘Repent, Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman”, “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, and “A Boy and His Dog”. The stories are read by the author, who himself is a first-rate reader, lending an infectious energy to every story in the collection.

I personally know of no other author’s stories with which to compare Harlan Ellison’s. He’s arguably the finest writer of short fiction on the planet, building stories of great impact in such a short space. In “‘Repent, Harlequin'”, he gives us a parable of society’s dependence on the clock, making schedules look ridiculous enough to make one wonder what the heck we’re all doing. And this was written in the 1960’s! In “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, a man is given responsibility over the world’s last hour. The characters in “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream” are trapped by a malevolent computer. These are great stories, every one. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection.

Stories included in the collection: “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, “Laugh Track”, “Grail”, “‘Repent, Harlequin,’ Said the Ticktockman”, The Very Last Day of a Good Woman”, “Paladin of the Lost Hour”, “The Time of the Eye”, “The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke”, and “A Boy and His Dog”.