Review of The Best Christmas Ever by James Patrick Kelly

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Best Christmas Ever by James Patrick KellyThe Best Christmas Ever
By James Patrick Kelly; Read by James Patrick Kelly
FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD – 38 minutes, 19 secs [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: James Patrick Kelly
Published: 2005
Themes: / Science Fiction / Christmas / Nostalgia /

Albert Paul Hopkins was the last man. The biops were determined to see to his every need. It had only been eight months since the last Christmas so it was definitely time for another one, the man needed another one. And if this wasn’t the best Christmas ever it might be his last!

This is the first James Patrick Kelly short story MP3 available through Fictionwise, but it was actually available along with several other short stories on James Patrick Kelly’s own FREE READS website back in 2004. First published on SciFiction, the online fiction wing of the sci-fi channel, The Best Christmas Ever has been nominated for a 2004 Hugo in the best short story category. As the story progresses facts about what has happened to the world start to slip out, and it seems that something has made mankind all but exitnct. In its place are creatures called “biops” which are able to morph into any living thing. This is a very pogniant tale of a man who duitfully continues to exist when he clearly doesn’t want to and how his continued existence effects those around him. You might think of it as a James Patrick Kelly version of I Am Legend. Kelly is great at incorporating narrative information into his plots and his reading is as always excellent. There are a couple time he stumbles over a word or two and I could here pages turning but none of that really harms the production. Available for FREE on the Fictionwise site and JPK’s FREE READS site. It’s like an early Christmas present, now go unwrap it!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Fruitcake Theory By James Patrick Kelly

Fruitcake Theory by James Patrick KellyFruitcake Theory
By James Patrick Kelly; Read by James Patrick Kelly
FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD (link to – 30 Minutes (14.33 MB) [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Aliens / First Contact / Christmas / Immortality /

“This one hears much of the information of fruitcake.”

Maggie is a tour guide. Her job is to escort an alien that looks like a rooster, and acts as dumb as one, during the yuletide season. The rooster is just one of two kinds of aliens from a bifurcated species visiting Earth. This is a story that posits some very interesting aliens, something Kelly is good at, but the heart of the story is the Christmas theme. It’s a bit silly, but I liked it that way. Told in the first person, Kelly does a great muppetish voice for the alien rooster that creates some great mental images to go along with the description. The reading concludes with a very appropriate Christmas music. It was great!

First published in the December 1998 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, “Fruitcake Theory” and this great recording of it will certainly get you in the mood for Christmas. As with the all the other audio stories of Jim Patrick Kelly’s we’ve reviewed, “Fruitcake Theory” is available for download on Kelly’s website for FREE – you’d have to be as nutty as a fruitcake not to try a deal like that! Kelly only asks that if you enjoyed hearing the tale you consider making a donation to his PayPal account. Donate as little or as much as you like, but seeing as the Christmas spirit is fast approaching be generous.

Posted by Jesse Willis

ITConversations debuted a new online audio intervi…

SFFaudio Online Audio

ITConversations debuted a new online audio interview show this week called Voices in Your Head. The description:

Can you hear it, even as you read this, speaking to you inside your mind? What are those Voices in Your Head? Host Dave Slusher interviews writers, musicians and other creative people about the effect of technology on their art and vice versa.

Dave Slusher’s first guest is SF author James Patrick Kelly.

Click here to go to ITConversations and listen to the show!

And while we’re on the subject, the best SF interview show online is Hour 25. Their latest interview is with Laurell K. Hamilton.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases

New Releases

Audio Renaissance

Saucer: The Conquest by Stephen Coonts in both abridged and unabridged versions. This is a sequel to a novel about the discovery of a 140,000 year-old spacecraft. I missed the first one, but would like to hear if it exists on audio – Audio Renaissance does not carry it if it does. Kirkus calls Saucer “a comic, feel-good SF adventure.”

First Meetings in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card, read by Gabrielle de Cuir, Amanda Karr, and Stefan Rudnicki

I’m a fan of Orson Scott Card’s Ender novels, so this was a real treat. It contains 4 stories, one of which is the original Ender’s Game novella, the others stories from various places on the Ender timeline. All of Card’s unabridged Ender novels are being re-released by Audio Renaissance.

Saturn by Ben Bova, read by Amanda Karr and Stefan Rudnicki and others

Here’s the latest of Ben Bova’s Solar System novels. I’ve heard Mars and Return to Mars, but I’m not sure how these novels are related to this one, Venus and Jupiter.

Blackstone Audio

Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven

I talked a bit about this last month, but it was really released in September, so here it is again.

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy

I’ve got this one in my to-be-heard pile and I’m eager to get to it. I know very little about Pat Murphy, but I see she won a Nebula Award for the novel The Falling Woman, which I don’t think is available on audio.

Jesse: Pat Murphy won a hugo and a nebula for a short story called “Rachel In Love”, which is a love story from the point of view of a chimpanzee. It’s been recorded a couple of times. There was also a single cassette collection of her short stories published by Durkin Hayes called “Points Of Departure”.

Brilliance Audio

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, read by Jim Dale

I’m starting to see this one everywhere, but haven’t received any feedback from anyone on it. It’s aimed at the YA market – 9-12 year-olds – and is a prequel to Peter Pan. I may have to listen just to hear another Jim Dale performance. There’s an audio sample on Brilliance’s website.

Free Reads

James Patrick Kelly adds three more stories to Free Reads, a section of his site where you can download free audiobooks (MP3 format) of his stories. Included now are “Faith”, “The Best Christmas Ever”, and “Serpent”.

Jesse: This is an awesome value – cool and funny stories read by James Patrick Kelly and all it costs you is guilt if you don’t donate something to his future recording fund.

Harper Audio

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman

This is an hour-long CD that contains readings of some children’s books by Neil Gaiman. Included are: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Wolves in the Walls, Cinnamon, and Crazy Hair.

Jesse: Looking forward to this collection. I was worried this was just another repackaging of Coraline and the two Seeing Ear pieces. Glad to see it is all new to audio!

Paperback Digital

As reported here early this month, Paperback Digital is online with two new MP3 format audiobooks for sale: Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint and 1634: The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis. I haven’t heard either of them, but they appear to be professionally done with William Dufris and Christine Marshall narrating. These books are available as downloads or on MP3-CDs.

Also from Paperback Digital is the X Minus One episode “Drop Dead” by Clifford D. Simak, which is available on, a site well-known for eBook sales. Paperback Digital is editing out commercials and doing what they can to improve the sound quality of several old radio shows. Next week they will be releasing these episodes:

The Green Hills of Earth and Destination: Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

The Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre Halloween broadcast of The War of the Worlds

The Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre broadcast of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson

Colony by Philip K. Dick

The Coffin Cure and Prime Difference by Alan E. Nourse

Protective Mimicry by Algis Budrys

The Merchants of Venus by A.H. Phelps, Jr.

Jesse: Coming out of the blue as it did, Paperback Digital is the most exciting and surprising news in Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks so far this year!

Recorded Books

Swords of Night and Day, a science fantasy by David Gemmell and narrated by Christopher Kay. I’m unfamiliar with this, but it’s part of a something called the Drenai series.

Last, but certainly not least, here’s what has added in the last month, many of which were mentioned above:

An updated edition of First Meetings by Orson Scott Card

Saucer: The Conquest by Stephen Coonts

Saturn by Ben Bova

High Druid of Shannara: Tanequil by Terry Brooks

Dune: The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven

Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card

The Dragon’s Son by Margaret Weis

Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2) by Lynn Flewelling

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Several titles from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series

Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb

Titles from the Wingman series by Mack Maloney

Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud

Titles from the Deathstalker collection by Simon R. Green

Collections of Arthur C. Clarke’s stories (The Nine Billion Names of God, The Songs of Distant Earth, etc.)

Wow! An excellent month for science fiction audio. Happy listening!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

A couple of very nice new releases to tell you abo…

New Releases

A couple of very nice new releases to tell you about:

From Telltale Weekly, an unabridged The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. Click here for a page that includes an excerpt. I’m looking forward to this – I listened to the Brilliance Audio version of this one… well, TRIED to listen to it. Found the reader not to my liking, though, which really kills an audiobook for me. It was packaged, by the way, with Wells’ The Time Machine, which was really excellent.

And from Infinivox, Solstice by James Patrick Kelly. Click here for more info and an excerpt. I really urge you to check out their stories.

Review of Unique Visitors By James Patrick Kelly

Unique Visitors
By James Patrick Kelly; Read by James Patrick Kelly
FREE MP3 DOWNLOAD (link to – 15 Minutes (7.11 MB) [UNABRIDGED]
Published: April 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Time Travel / Immortality / Internet / Personality Uploading /

Submit query. There are currently 842 unique visitors monitoring this session. The average attention quotient is 27 percent. Twenty-seven percent! Don’t you people realize that you’ve got an eyewitness to history here?

Afraid to die? Want to watch reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies for all eternity? All you have to do is give up your body. Even better you can visit the future throught the miracle of forward time travel, just set your alarm clock for a million or so years and turn yourself off.

First published in the hardcover anthology Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction (2001), the short story “Unique Vistors” takes its name from the term for webpage hits and posits a future where you are you can become your own webpage! Full of wry humor, nostalgia, philisophical insight, and internet savvy, this the prototypical James Patrick Kelly tale.

Told in the first person, what would have been an otherwise straightforward performance by Kelly is accented and enhanced with electronica music, echoing voice effects and canned laughter. I’m not sure the canned laughter or the echoing voice work – but I liked the techno music and the sound quality and production values were good. As with the all the other audio stories of Kelly’s we’ve reviewed, “Unique Visitors” is available for download on Kelly’s website for FREE – become a unique visitor, try it yourself! Kelly only asks that if you enjoyed hearing the tale you consider making a donation to his PayPal account. Donate as little or as much as you like, but seriously consider giving him a little something – after all, its in our own interest – because if we do he’ll give us more stories like this!

Posted by Jesse Willis