LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s another LibriVox short story collection for you. As usual there are a few repeats sprinkled among the first time recorded tales. Of those latter tales I’ve made a few notes:

Narrator Bellona Times has a nice setup and a decent voice for Breakaway. This tale is Science Fiction for astronauts. An utterly unselfconscious telling of the first Earth to Moon mission – written and published more than a dozen years before it actually happened.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s satire Some Words With A Mummy an amateur Egyptologist gets his hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. He decides to unwrap it, with startling results. This isn’t Poe’s greatest story, it seems to be very much of its era, but because it is still Poe it is still very good. Narrated by the ever capable Gregg Margarite.

Mex was written by what appears to be a Laurence M. Jannifer (under a pseudonym). It is hard to follow as narrator Daniele races through the standard LibriVox introduction then does some very strange things to what should be Mexican accented English.

I hadn’t even heard of Walt Sheldon prior to the two tales released in this collection. First up, Two Plus Two Makes Crazy has a great title! It depicts a Logan’s Run-like society as seen from the tech department. Fun.

A wacky physics professor stars in the other Sheldon tale: This Is Klon Calling. This one is a mite predictable, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Both Sheldon tales are read by the ever talented Gregg Margarite.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-018.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LibriVox - Belly Laugh by Randall GarrettBelly Laugh
By Randall Garrett; Read by glenford2000
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
You hear a lot of talk these days about secret weapons. If it’s not a new wrinkle in nuclear fission, it’s a gun to shoot around corners and down winding staircases. Or maybe a nice new strain of bacteria guaranteed to give you radio-active dandruff. Our own suggestion is to pipe a few of our television commercials into Russia and bore the enemy to death.

Breakaway by Stanley GimbleBreakaway
By Stanley Gimble; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
She surely got her wish … but there was some question about getting what she wanted. From Astounding Science Fiction December 1955.

LibriVox - Cully by Jack EganCully
By Jack Egan; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
By all the laws of nature, he should have been dead. But if he were alive … then there was something he had to find. From Amazing Stories, January 1963.

LIBRIVOX Science Fiction - Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Frederic BrownEarthmen Bearing Gifts
By Fredric Brown; Read by Bookman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
“Mars had gifts to offer and Earth had much in return—if delivery could be arranged!” First published in the June 1960 issue of Galaxy magazine.

Fantastic Universe January 1957Mex
By Laurence M. Janifer; Read by Daniele
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Talented William Logan [Laurence M. Janifer], though he hails from Dodger territory, tells a quiet story from down near the Mexican border, where men are very close to ancestral memories and to the things which dwell in the shadows. Logan is one of the more interesting of the newer writers. From Fantastic Universe January 1957.

LibriVox - The Putnam Tradition by Sonya DormanThe Putnam Tradition
By Sonya Dorman Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Through generations the power has descended, now weaker, now stronger. And which way did the power run in the four-year-old in the garden, playing with a pie plate? From Amazing Stories January 1963.

LibriVox - Some Words With A Mummy by Edgar Allan PoeSome Words With A Mummy
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Some amateur Egyptologists get their hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. They decide to unwrap it, with startling results. First published in the April 1845 issue of American Review: A Whig Journal.

Summit by Mack ReynoldsSummit
By Mack Reynolds; Read by M.White
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Almost anything, if it goes on long enough, can be reduced to, first a Routine, and then, to a Tradition. And at the point it is, obviously, Necessary. First published in Astounding Science Fiction’s February, 1960 issue.

Fantastic Universe August - September 1953This Is Klon Calling
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
One sure way to live dangerously is to become a practical joker. Should you have any doubts about it you might ask Professor Dane. From the Aug-Sept 1953 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Fantastic Universe March 1954Two Plus Two Makes Crazy
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Walt Sheldon is bitter-bright in this imaginative short satire of Man’s sell-out by a group of staunch believers in the infallibility of numbers. From Fantastic Universe March, 1954.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases

New Releases

Smoky Mountain Horrors by Weston OchseSmoky Mountain Horrors
By Weston Ochse; Read by Weston Ochse
Audible Download – 4 Hours 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Kanigit Media / Audible.com
Published: May 11, 2009
Set mostly in Appalachian country, backwood characters will leave you laughing in pain and gasping in horror. You will learn something new about Weston’s horrific mountain tales every time you listen. They are not for the feint of heart. A collection of short horror stories. Two of the stories available for free HERE.

Tantor - The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian by Robert E. HowardThe Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian (Book One in the Conan of Cimmeria Series)
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Todd McLaren
14 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – 16 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: June 11th, 2009
ISBN: 9781400112234 (cd) , 9781400162239 (mp3-cd)
Thirteen of Robert E. Howard’s legendary stories starring Conan the barbarian, a swordsman who cuts a swath across the lands of the Hyborian Age, facing powerful sorcerers, deadly creatures, and ruthless armies of thieves and reavers.

Haze
By L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; Read by William Dufris
10 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 11 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: June 25th, 2009
ISBN: 9781400112913 (cd), 9781400162918 (mp3-cd)
A war is about to start between planets in this new science fiction novel by the bestselling author of the Recluce series.

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Book 2 of the Gentleman Bastard series)
By Scott Lynch; Read by Michael Page
20 CDs or 3 MP3-CDs – 25 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: June 4th, 2009
ISBN: 9781400110520 (cd), 9781400160525 (mp3-cd)
In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Scott Lynch took us on an adrenaline-fueled adventure with con artist extraordinaire Locke Lamora. Now Lynch brings back his outrageous hero for a caper so death-defying, nothing short of a miracle will pull it off.

From Recorded Books’ SCI-FI AUDIO imprint (First quarter 2009 new releases on CD)…

Rollback
By Robert J. Sawyer; Read by George K.Wilson
9 CDs – 10 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781436186506
Dr. Sarah Halifax earned worldwide fame for deciphering the first alien message received on Earth. Now nearing the end of her days, she learns that, at long last, the reply has come.

Shaman’s Crossing (Book One of The Soldier Son Trilogy)
By Robin Hobb; Read by
16 CDs – 18.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4361-7968-3
Nevare Burvelle was born to be a
soldier in the Gernian army. But as Nevare’s career takes off, his worldview alters considerably. Corruption and nepotism reign, and now Nevare questions his own ideals, wondering why he continues fighting for the empire.

Fifty Degrees Below
By Kim Stanley Robinson; Read by Richard Ferrone
15 CDs – 18 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4361-8634-6
When the Gulf Stream stalls, dangerously low temperatures grip the Eastern Seaboard and Western Europe. While multinational corporations attempt to exploit the disaster, humankind’s only hope may be a desperate move to dump millions of tons of salt into the ocean.

Mean Streets
By various; Read by various
9 CDs – 9.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4361-9217-0
Featuring New York Times best-selling authors Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green, and national best-selling authors Kat Richardson and Thomas E. Sniegoski, Mean Streets offers four novellas from the hottest names in contemporary paranormal suspense. Running the gamut from demons and werewolves to zombies and black magic, these whodunits crackle with otherworldly secrets, making for a noir collection with an extra set of fangs.

Fool’s Experiment
By Edward M. Lerner; Read by George K.Wilson
10 CDs – 11.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781436164849
As a NASA engineer, critically acclaimed author Edward M. Lerner developed a background in science and technology perfectly suited to his fast-paced SF thrillers. In Fools’ Experiments, the military-industrial complex unwittingly unleashes a devastating threat to humanity after government programmers experiment with viruses and worms. But what escapes is no ordinary computer virus, and when the deadly artificial life-form reaches the Internet, humanity’s very existence is at stake.

From Recorded Books’ SCI-FI AUDIO imprint (Second quarter 2009 new releases on CD)…

Forest Mage (Book Two of the Soldier Son Trilogy)
By Robin Hobb; Read by John Keating
22 CDs – 19 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781436179706
Nevare Burvelle has survived major combat and is making a quick recovery from a disease plaguing his fellows in the King’s army. He also believes he is free from the Speck magic that held him under its sway. Now traveling home to rendezvous with his fiancée, Nevare suffers haunting visions and soon realizes that malicious magic still resides within him—and is intent on destroying everything he holds dear.

Brightness Reef
By David Brin; Read by George K.Wilson
20 CDs – 17 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781436179744
Persecuted refugees from six separate alien races have migrated to the idyllic planet Jijo. And despite their incredible diversity, the inhabitants live together in blissful harmony. However, settlement on Jijo is illegal—and it’s only a matter of time before the residents of this forbidden paradise are discovered by the galactic powers-that-be.

Iron Sunrise
By Charles Stross; Read by George Guidall
11 CDs – 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781440710575
PlanetMoscow is vaporized by an unnatural star explosion, prompting those who escaped to counterattack the likely culprit—planet New Dresden of the neighboring system.
But New Dresden wasn’t to blame, and as worlds go to war, an unseen enemy labors to destroy the universe itself.

Counting Heads
By David Marusek; Read by Kevin R. Free
13 CDs – 14 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4361-8640-7
The debut novel from highly regarded short-story author David Marusek, Counting Heads pushes the limits of the genre. Life in the year 2134 is nearly perfect, with nanotechnology and medical science granting people near immortality. But when Sam Harger is flagged as a terrorist, his powerful wife dies in a plane crash, and his daughter’s cryogenically frozen head becomes a sought-after prize, Sam must fight to save the human race from a secret cabal.

The Fabulous Riverboat (Riverworld Saga, Book 2)
By Philip José Farmer; Read by
10 CDs – 12 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4361-8636-0
The Fabulous Riverboat tells of a world where all of humanity has been mysteriously resurrected on the banks of one mighty river. Samuel Clemens (a.k.a.MarkTwain) is tasked with finding a fallen meteorite and using its ore to build a massive riverboat. But in order to succeed, he’ll have to outwit some of history’s most nefarious villains.

Into Looking Glass
By John Ringo; Read by L.J. Ganser
10 CDs – 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books / Sci-Fi Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9781440710612
When a subatomic physics experiment causes a massive explosion, interdimensional gateways open in Florida—and aliens pour out. Some intend to bring Earth to its knees. Others seem willing to help, but will annihilate the planet if Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller can’t stop the menace from spreading.

And from Recorded Books’ new “Mystery” imprint…

The Somnambulist
By Jonathan Barnes; Read by John Curless
9 CDs – 11 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books Mystery
Published: 2009
ISBN: 978143618066-5
Set amidst Victorian London’s seamy, fog-shrouded underworld. Meet Edward Moon, an illusionist and detective who operates solely with the aid of his hulking, mute sidekick.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 010

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s the recently released Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 010 from LibriVox! I had a chance to listen to most of the stories and I’ve highlighted a few:

1. As Long As You Wish, a cool kind of time travel tale, seems at first to have some volume problems, but it actually doesn’t, it’s a little creative interpretation that will become clear later in the story. The Coming Of The Ice is old, feels old fashioned, but isn’t so dated as to be unreadable. In fact, the story is rather terrific! It feels very much like a H.G. Wells story.

2. The Coming Of The Ice explains the strange and sad fate of a man who undergoes an operation to make him immortal (and sterile). This is a really terrific reading by the English accented Giles Baker (who could have a career in audiobooks ahead of him). The story itself is also significant in another respect – it was the first all new story ever purchased or published in Amazing Stories magazine (the first all-science fiction mag).

3. The Eternal Wall, deals similarly, offering a man another kind of one way trip to the future, this time though, not of his choosing. Speaking of Wells stories, the last tale in this collection is a Wells story – and it feels as close as Herbert George ever came to noir. From the perspective of a noir aficionado, there’s one flaw with it (and with War Of The Worlds for that matter) – in that Wells sets it all up well but he doesn’t have the guts for the all important follow through. But, speaking from a non-noir-loving perspective, it’s a damn fine story – and proves once again that Wells had more original ideas kicking around than almost anybody else before or since. Narrator Gregg Margurite’s setup isn’t perfect, he sounds a little muffled, but his reading voice is very good.

4. The K Factor Also read by Gregg Margurite, with the same setup as with all his recordings, muffled. Margurite has also recorded a full length Harrison Novel Deathworld! Societics is “The applied study of the interaction of individuals in a culture, the interaction of the group generated by these individuals, the equations derived therefrom, and the application of these equations to control one or more factors of this same culture.” It feels as if Harrision had been reading some Isaac Asimov and then Thomas Kuhn had been reading this story.

5. Star Mother while well written, is barely Science Fiction at all, seeing as the events that it reports would be happening mere 2 years after the story was originally published. Unfortunately Janet Moursund’s reading of Star Mother has too many mouse clicks in the recording.

6. Solander’s Radio Tomb is pretty funny, though more than anything else what I took away from it was an even greater fear of legal wills than I already had – if making plans are what make us human then the ability to revoke a plan does also – unfortunately, being dead you aren’t up for revoking much. So ya, I’m afraid of legal wills.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Volume #010Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 010
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 04, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science and technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

LibriVox Science Fiction - As Long As You Wish by John O'KeefeAs Long as You Wish
By John O’Keefe; Read by Sean O’Hara
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
If, somehow, you get trapped in a circular time system . . . how long is the circumference of an infinitely retraced circle? First published in Astounding Science Fiction, June, 1955.

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Coming Of The Ice by G. Peyton WertenbakerThe Coming of the Ice
By G. Peyton Wertenbaker; Read by Giles Baker
1 |MP3| – Approx. 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
Strange men these creatures of the hundredth century …
First published in Amazing Stories June 1926, reprinted in Amazing Stories July 1961 with an introduction by Sam Moskowitz.

LibriVox Science Fiction - The Eternal Wall by Raymond Z. GallunThe Eternal Wall
By Raymond Z. Gallun; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
A scream of brakes, the splash into icy waters, a long descent into alkaline depths … it was death. But Ned Vince lived again—a million years later! From Amazing Stories April 1956, first published in Amazing Stories November 1942.

LibriVox Science Fiction - The K-Factor by Harry HarrisonThe K Factor
By Harry Harrison; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
Speed never hurt anybody—it’s the sudden stop at the end. It’s not how much change that signals danger, but how fast it’s changing…. From Analog December 1960.

LibriVox Science Fiction - Lease To Doomsday by Lee ArcherLease To Doomsday
By Lee Archer; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
The twins were a rare team indeed. They wanted to build a printing plant on a garbage dump. When Muldoon asked them why, their answer was entirely logical: “Because we live here.” From Amazing Stories September 1956.

LibriVox Science Fiction - ...Or Your Money Back by Randall Garrett…Or Your Money Back
By Randall Garrett; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – Approx. 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
There are lots of things that are considered perfectly acceptable … provided they don’t work. And of course everyone knows they really don’t, which is why they’re acceptable…. From Astounding Science Fiction, September 1959 (published under the David Gordon pseudonym).

LibriVox Science Fiction - Question Of Comfort by Les CollinsQuestion Of Comfort
By Les Collins; Read by Tom Weiss
1 |MP3| – Approx. 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
From Amazing Science Fiction Stories March 1959. The Gravity Gang was a group of geniuses—devoting its brilliance to creating a realistic Solar System for Disneyland. That was the story, anyway. No one would have believed all that stuff about cops and robbers from outer space.

LibriVox Science Fiction - Solander's Radio Tomb by Ellis Parker ButlerSolander’s Radio Tomb
By Ellis Parker Butler; Read by qqqsimmons
1 |MP3| – 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
First published in Amazing Stories June 1927, later in Amazing’s April 1956 issue. “I first met Mr. Remington Solander shortly after I installed my first radio set. I was going in to New York on the 8:15 A.M. train and was sitting with my friend Murchison and, as a matter of course, we were talking radio.”

LibriVox Science Fiction - Star Mother by Robert F. YoungStar Mother
By Robert F. Young; Read by Janet Moursund
1 |MP3| – Approx. 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: February 2008
A touching story of the most enduring love in all eternity. From Amazing Stories January 1959.


LibriVox Science Fiction - The Story Of The Late Mr. Elevsham by H.G. WellsStory Of The Late Mr Elvesham
By H.G. Wells; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
“I set this story down, not expecting it will be believed, but, if possible, to prepare a way of escape for the next victim. He, perhaps, may profit by my misfortune. My own case, I know, is hopeless, and I am now in some measure prepared to meet my fate.”

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-010.xml

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Blood of Ambrose by James Enge

SFFaudio Review

Blood of Ambrose by James EngeBlood of Ambrose
By James Enge; Read by Jay Snyder
Audible Download – 14 hours 29 mins [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2009
Themes: / Fantasy / High Fantasy / Arthurian Legend / Sword and Sorcery / Necromancy / Regency / Immortality /

In his introduction to the Audible Frontiers recording of Blood of Ambrose, James Enge places his debut novel in the “swords and sorcery” fantasy sub-genre. While the work certainly fulfills the expectations established by that label–it’s replete with feats of arms, dark conjurings, and roguish characters–it also owes debts to the Arthurian tradition and to humorous fantasy in the vein of David Eddings and Joe Abercrombie. The resulting mélange of tropes and styles sometimes clashes, but in the end it leaves the reader with a varied and satisfying reading experience.

The blurb from Pyr, who publishes the hardcopy edition, reads as follows:

Centuries after the death of Uthar the Great, the throne of the Ontilian Empire lies vacant. The late emperor’s brother-in-law and murderer, Lord Urdhven, appoints himself Protector to his nephew, young King Lathmar VII and sets out to kill anyone who stands between himself and mastery of the empire, including (if he can manage it) the king himself and his ancient but still formidable ancestress, Ambrosia Viviana.

When Ambrosia is accused of witchcraft and put to trial by combat, she is forced to play her trump card and call on her brother, Morlock Ambrosius—stateless person, master of all magical makers, deadly swordsman, and hopeless drunk.

As ministers of the king, they carry on the battle, magical and mundane, against the Protector and his shadowy patron. But all their struggles will be wasted unless the young king finds the strength to rule in his own right and his own name.

With names like Uthar and Viviana, even the most casual scholar of Arthuriana will recognize several connections to that illustrious tradition. Even the book’s title, Blood of Ambrose, is an allusion to Arthur, since in some medieval texts King Arthur is sometimes conflated with the late Roman British official Ambrosius Aurelianus. Though the novel is set in a seemingly fictional realm, tantalizing connections to our own world fleetingly appear, including overt references to the Latin tongue and to Britain itself. The relationship between the Ontilian Empire and our own past, however, is never fully explored. While Enge asserts that Blood of Ambrose serves up a completely self-contained story, he certainly leaves room for future world-building.

King Lathmar VII, as the above blurb suggests, is ostensibly the novel’s protagonist. Seen in this light, Blood of Ambrose is a coming-of-age story, and in this capacity it succeeds beautifully. In the book’s early hours, Lathmar is tossed around “like a sack of beans,” as he says, but by book’s end he’s making his own decisions and asserting his rightful authority. His relationship with the other characters are fraught with ambivalence and ambiguity.

The novel’s shining star, though, is the almost-immortal Morlock, who epitomizes the paradoxical swords-and-sorcery antihero. On the one hand, he’s valiant, protective, and very kind to Lathmar. Yet at times he is prone to violent outbursts or spells of depression. In a unique twist, we’re also told that he’s had a drinking problem in the past, and his refusal to let spirits pass his lips recurs as a frequent talking point among the other characters.

Unfortunately, the novel’s plot isn’t on par with its vibrant characters. Blood of Ambrose certainly tells some thrilling, engaging, and poignant stories, but they work better as standalone adventures rather than building a unified edifice. Characters like Lathmar, Morlock, and the arch-villain poisoner Steng serve as unifying threads,  but the plot simply lacked the momentous drive to keep me interested in what would happen next. Luckily, the character development was strong enough to provide me with that forward impetus.

Jay Snyder’s reading of Blood of Ambrose is mostly run-of-the-mill, with one significant exception. His resonant, laconic, intentionally dead-pan portrayal as Morlock transcends mere performance. This is how a flesh-and-blood Morlock really would speak. Seldom in my experience listening to audiobooks has a character been so indelibly linked to the narrator who gives him voice. Snyder’s depiction of Lathmar also deserves note; the transition from tremulous stuttering to firm command mirrors the development of the young king. His rendition of the tempermental Ambrosia is less flattering, and her outbursts can grate on the listener’s ears like claws. Of course, that may well be intentional.

Though it tells a rather lackluster story, Blood of Ambrose introduces a fascinating settting populated by a host of multi-faceted characters. It’s my hope that James Enge will continue to work and play with this colorful palette.

Posted by Seth Wilson

BBC7 celebrates Robert A. Heinlein Centenary with audio fiction

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionIn honour of the 100th anniversary of Robert A. Heinlein’s birth, BBC7’s The Seventh Dimension is airing a special series of Heinlein stories. The first of which aired this last Saturday. First up was The Green Hills Of Earth, a Heinlein story he partially credited to a line from C. L. Moore and her story Shambleau (which also aired this year on BBC7). The Green Hills Of Earth is also one story with a distinction few others could possibly equal, it was quoted to listeners on the Moon – namely the crew of Apollo 15! Next Saturday the Heinlein Centenary celebration continues with Ordeal In Space. And, all this week, BBC7 is airing Methuselah’s Children. You can have a listen to The Green Hills Of Earth now, and for the next few days, via the Listen Again service. Same goes for the first episode of Methuselah’s Children. More details below..

The Cool Green Hills Of Earth by Robert A. HeinleinThe Green Hills Of Earth
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Adam Sims
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED?]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Saturday July 7th 2007
This is the poignant story of Rhysling, the blind space-going songwriter whose poetic skills rival Rudyard Kipling’s. This yarn is about a radiation-blinded spaceship engineer crisscrossing the solar system writing and singing some of the best lyrics in science fiction. In a fine display of writing skill, the spaceship and crew feel as real to the reader as a contemporary tramp steamer.

Science Fiction Methuselah's Children by Robert A. HeinleinMethuselah’s Children
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Paul Birchard
6 Parts, Six 30-Minute Broadcasts – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Weekdays July 2007 to July 16th 2007
Robert A Heinlein’s sci-fi novel about a group of families who can live for several hundred years.

Jesse Willis

Review of Dark Shadows: The House of Despair

SFFaudio Audio Drama Review

Horror Audio Drama - Dark Shadows: The House Of DespairDark Shadows: The House Of Despair
By Stuart Manning, Directed by Gary Russell; Performed by a full cast
1 CD – 72 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: September 2006
ISBN: 1844352439
Themes: / Horror / Birds / Lost Souls / Witchcraft / Ghosts / Immortality /

After years of wandering the world, Quentin Collins is coming home. But the Collinwood that awaits him is no longer the sanctuary he remembers. As the town of Collinsport hides in fear from otherworldly powers, Quentin vows to unite old friends and reclaim his birthright.

Dark Shadows was one of those lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenons. Modern audiences look at it now and don’t get what audiences of the late 1960s saw in it, or why so many of its fans can’t let it go today. Without its Vietnam era frame of reference, the show seems to have little or no appeal. It isn’t scary by today’s standards. It’s not intentionally funny. Buffy it ain’t.

One can’t help but wonder, then, if there’s any point in attempting an original cast resurrection. So many of the mainstays are no longer living, and the show’s biggest star, Jonathan “Barnabas” Frid, is retired at age 82. With four original series stars in the leads, however, Big Finish productions has achieved a nostalgic romp with a modern storytelling style, intelligent and psychological, dripping with atmosphere, which should satisfy fans of the one-of-a-kind soap opera and modern audiophiles both.

David Selby makes a creditable transition from the Sixties anti-hero that was Quentin Collins, recovering lycanthrope, into a strong leading man. He returns to his ancestral home at age 130-something to find it deserted, overtaken by a supernatural presence who just might be the hidden Big Bad from Hitchcock’s The Birds. Enlisting the aid of the witch Angelique, he sets out to re-establish his dynasty as the new Collins family patriarch.

Selby’s eternal tongue in cheek awareness of his character’s failings serves him well. Lara Parker, forty years later, is still enthralling as the beautiful, horrific Angelique. To the writer’s credit, she maintains her darker side, an ally, but still a potential villain. Kathryn Leigh Scott has a voice made for audio drama, and brings dignity to the long-suffering Maggie Evans, who, after all this time, still hasn’t figured out that her friends the Collinses are not quite human. John Karlen returns as servant Willie Loomis, now “Mad Willie.” As always, he brings life and sympathy to a weak and even sleazy role. Newcomer Andrew Collins is well-cast in his part, which shan’t be revealed herein. The original Robert Colbert Dark Shadows score is blended nicely with original music.

During my listening, the background effects balance was sometimes a little off, obscuring the voices. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s nearly impossible to get the balance right for every sound system out there. I listened on a rental-car stereo. As an audio theater producer myself, (who’s also been chastised in a review for effects balance) I’m the first to say that it’s a lot to ask of an editor to create something artful and make it work for the most pedestrian sound system. For an optimal listening experience, grab some headphones. This is the first of four existing titles in a series, with more promised for the future.