The SFFaudio Podcast #028

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #028 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Luke Burrage of The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast. First up we talk about Luke’s show and reviewing Science Fiction. Later we ask the question for our time: Are the British taking over Science Fiction?

Talked about on today’s show:
Luke Burrage: International Juggler and Entertainer, Juggling Podcasts, Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, NaNoWriMo, the “Void Trilogy” by Peter F. Hamilton, Richard K. Morgan, Black Man (aka Thirteen) |READ OUR REVIEW|, Altered Carbon |READ OUR REVIEW|, StarShipSofa’s Richard K. Morgan interview, Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer, Dune by Frank Herbert |READ OUR REVIEW|, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks, The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham, Alien 3, Blade, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells |READ OUR REVIEW|, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, rating systems vs. rankings, The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein, the PC Gamer Podcast, Singularity Sky by Charles Stross, ebooks, Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan |READ OUR REVIEW|, Time Station Berlin by David Evans.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #026

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #026 – Jesse and Scott argue about how long books should be, talk about audiobooks, audio panels, Audible’s new audio format (higher quality). We also ask the questions:

“If Stephen King was your dad and reading you a bedtime story, would you ever get to sleep?” and “Why does Epic Fantasy have to be so long?”

Talked about on today’s show:
Science Fiction Symposium @ BYU, Writing Excuses podcast, Brandon Sanderson, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, The Immortals by Tracy Hickman, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Vol. 1, Elantris |READ OUR REVIEW|, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., David Farland, Eric James Stone, James Dashner, Orson Scott Card, Audible’s new Enhanced Audio Format, Blackstone Audio‘s forthcomings: new Harlan Ellison (and old), Stir Of Echoes by Richard Matheson, Passage by Connie Willis, Bellwether by Connie Willis, CBC Radio Between The Covers, Wake by Robert J. Sawyer, Battlestar Galactica, the Story Speiler podcast, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, 20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill |2 FREE STORIES|, Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, On Writing by Stephen King, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit by Lawrence Block, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, Escape From Hell, Wikipedia is full of spoilers, Exit Door Leads In by Philip K. Dick [is full of swearing], The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet: Philip K. Dick |PDF|, Starship Rebel by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, and a 5 sound review of Babylon 5, A Song Of Ice And Fire by George R.R. Martin, Wild Cards would make good audio, HBO’s True Blood, is it all ‘too much conversation, not enough sword?’

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

SFFaudio Review

Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleInferno
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Tom Weiner
5 CDs – 5.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433259050
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Bangsian Fantasy / Religion / Literature / Evil /

After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he’s landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante’s road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of Hell, led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless mental and physical tortures. As he struggles to escape, he’s taken through new, puzzling, and outlandish versions of sin—recast for the present day.

I don’t like that the book’s copywriter has spoiled the revelation of Benito’s last name. I figure most people would figure it out PDQ anyway, but it’s not actually revealed until more than half way through this novel. This is a rather interesting book, I’d heard about the title a few times over the years, along with the mention that Niven/Pounelle had written it, but had never actually got my hands on a copy until this year. It’s rather fitting that it’s been re-released now with all the hubub about religion vs. atheism going on. But the timing on the re-release probably has more to do with the imminent (like now) release of the sequel, Escape From Hell.

The Allen Carpentier character is, I assume, an analogue of Niven/Pounelle, an SF writer of the Hard variety. Carpentier is one of those folks who likes all those Fantasy ghouls and goblins to be either nailed down under a microscope for proper cataloging or poofed away in puffs of neuro-psychological explanation. Basically, a guy like me. When Carpentier finds himself alive, or at least not dead, after falling from a balcony, trapped in a place that resembles Dante Alighieri’s Inferno he insists the place is an “Inferno-land”, a kind of twisted Disneyland, created by something he mentally marks down as “Big Juju” (possibly an immensely powerful alien) rather than “God.” As a book it does stand well on its own, but leaves the ultimate revelations off-pages – something the sequel is pretty much going to have to address if it’s gonna be a satisfying sequel. This book however offers an effective and nuanced rumination on the nature of evil. I found myself sympathizing with the injustices Carpentier sees perpetrated throughout “Inferno-land” – sure a lot of the residents are highly contemptible, selfish, short sighted, and maybe even evil – but is any bad act enough to garner naught but eternal torture? That “Big Juju” character has just gone too far!

Tom Weiner delivers another terrific reading, providing vocal shading and accents for each character in the novel. It’s an even handed delivery, straddling the knife edge between the comedic possibility and the main character’s skeptical POV. Allen Carpentier often talks to himself, mentally checking his sanity as his highly skeptical eyes confront the pervasive reality of a manifest hell.

A Map of HELL (from the 1976 paperbook of Inferno):

Map Of Hell

Cover for Galaxy, October 1975 - Illusted by Richard Pini and Wendy Pini (INFERNO by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals from Blackstone Audio

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

The Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 1The Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume 1
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Various
7 CDs – 8 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433228223

Philip K. Dick stories! Contents: “Autofac”, “Progeny”, “The Exit Door Leads In”, “A Little Something for Us Tempnauts”, “The Last of the Masters”, “The Preserving Machine”, “Novelty Act”, “The War with the Fnools”, and “The Electric Ant”.
 
 
The Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 2The Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume 2
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Various
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433228308

MORE Philip K. Dick stories! Contents: “Colony”, “Upon the Dull Earth”, “The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford”, “Faith of Our Fathers”, “The Days of Perky Pat”, “The Variable Man”, and “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”.
 
 
Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleInferno
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Tom Weiner
5 CDs – 5.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433259050

Author in hell!

After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he’s landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante’s road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of Hell, led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless mental and physical tortures. As he struggles to escape, he’s taken through new, puzzling, and outlandish versions of sin—recast for the present day.
 
 
The Sum of All Men by David FarlandThe Runelords: The Sum of All Men
By David Farland; Read by Ray Porter
17 CDs – 20.4 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433226946

I read this one in print a long while back – a great epic fantasy.

David Farland’s acclaimed Runelords series introduces a world where the social structure is based upon the magical exchange of “endowments” such as stamina, grace, and wit. The Runelords are those who receive these endowments from their vassals, becoming superhuman in exchange for the responsibility of caring those they have deprived of strength, or beauty, or sight.

Young Prince Gaborn of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta. Armed with his gifts of strength and perception, the prince and his bodyguard stop at a local tavern, where they spot a pair of assassins who have their sights set on Princess Iome’s father. As they race to warn the king, they realize that more than the royal family is at risk—the very fate of the Earth is in jeopardy.
 
 
Sherlock Holmes TheatreSir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes Theatre
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Gillette, and Yuri Rasovsky; Performed by a full cast
5 CDs – 5.5 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9781433279916

Audio drama extraordinaire!

Blackstone Audiobooks is pleased to present the first audio recordings ever of the only two Holmes plays written by his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. These new, specially commissioned productions of the Hollywood Theater of the Ear star Audie Award-winning readers Martin Jarvis as Sherlock Holmes and Kristoffer Tabori as Dr. Watson.

In Sherlock Holmes, the Napoleon of Crime, Professor Moriarity plots with would-be blackmailers to have Holmes killed. And the normally love-proof Holmes falls for an exceptional woman. The play was co-authored by the American matinee idol William Gillette, who played the title sleuth. A smash hit from the beginning, the play remained in Gillette’s repertoire until he retired more than thirty years after its premiere.

What is the secret of the shocking death of poor Enid’s sister? What did she mean by her dying words, “the speckled band”? What danger does Enid face from the brutal Dr. Rylott? Only Holmes can scope out the answer and save the helpless girl from certain death. Sir Arthur adapted The Speckled Band (1910) from his own short story of that name. A stage success on three continents, the play hasn’t received a professional revival in eighty-four years.

When Holmes turns fifty, he retires and becomes a beekeeper, creating a crisis for his friend Watson, whose income derives from the Holmes stories he contributes to the Strand magazine. Further, the Doctor owes money to mobsters who want either their cash or his blood. The surprising upshot is, as the headlines proclaim, a Ghastly Double Murder in Famed Detective’s Flat, a one-act comedy by producer-director Yuri Rasovsky, here receiving its audiobook premiere.

Besides winning the prestigious Audie Award, this audiobook won the 2006 Communicator Award for Art/Culture, an international award that recognizes recognizing creative excellence in communications.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Commentary: What are we missing?

SFFaudio Commentary

SFFaudio MetaBy any measure of the times were living in, there is a new audio renaissance. More audiobooks are getting made now than ever before. And more SF, Fantasy and Horror audiobooks are being released than ever before. Here’s a list of the top 10 SFF novels from Sci-Fi lists:

1. Frank Herbert Dune
2. Orson Scott Card Ender’s Game
3. Isaac Asimov Foundation
4. Douglas Adams Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
5. George Orwell 1984
6. Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land
7. Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451
8. William Gibson Neuromancer
9. Isaac Asimov I, Robot
10. Arthur C. Clarke 2001: A Space Odyssey

All of these novels have had UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK releases at some point or another. Several have had more than one unabridged release! That’s wonderful. But I’m still not satisfied. What novels are we still missing? Or rather, what novels are you missing.

Personally I’m missing a few, here’s a list of just 10 titles I’ve picked from out of the air. I’d like to see any and all of these made into unabridged audiobooks:

1. Scott Lynch The Lies Of Loch Lamora
2. Dan Simmons Hyperion
3. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle The Mote In God’s Eye
4. Clifford Simak Way Station
5. Alfred Bester The Stars My Destination
6. Steven Gould Jumper
7. Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space
8. Robert J. Sawyer Golden Fleece
9. John Brunner Stand On Zanzibar
10. Ken MacLeod The Star Fraction

What novels are missing from your audiobook shelf?

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

SFFaudio Radio Drama Review

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleThe Gripping Hand
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Jay O. Sanders
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: 1993
ISBN: 0671791109
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Biology / Politics / Economics /Galactic Civilization / Galactic Empire / Mormonism /

Twenty-five years have passed since the second Empire of man quarantined the mysterious aliens known only as Moties within the confines of their own solar system – afraid of the threat these aliens may pose to man kind. But the wall seperating man from the Moties is beginning to crumble…

The Gripping Hand is set in a the “CoDominium” universe originated by Jerry Pournelle. This is the sequel to their first novel together, The Mote In God’s Eye (not available on audio). The setting is that of a future interstellar empire in which humanity has only one major rival for complete dominance. The so-called “Moties” are an intelligent species that is so war-like, so very dangerous, that an enitre human naval task force sits blockading the Motie system’s only exit. The Moties are a species divided into distinct biological forms, each serving a different function. Master. Mediator. Engineer. Warrior. Each type is supremely adapted to its task, and only constant civil war has kept their population in check. Combined with the specialization is a terrible burden; if Moties don’t breed they die agonzing deaths.

For those who haven’t already read The Mote In God’s Eye, you may want to stop reading now as spoilers must follow. At the end of The Mote In God’s Eye, Sir Kevin Renner and His Excellency Horace Bury were secretly enlisted into Imperial Naval Intelligence. For the twenty-five years since then, they’ve acted as unpaid spies, keeping a watchful eye for “outies” (human raiders) in order that the empire might focus its meager resources on the overwhelming Motie threat. Bury is a merchant prince whose dealings allow him access to the underworld of many border worlds. Renner, a former naval officer, now acts as a field agent in the employ of Bury. When a botched Mormon kidnapping plot appears to involve a Motie phrase “the gripping hand”, Bury demands to inspect the fleet blockading the Motie system. His journey leads him to several surprises.

There’s a bit of bad news about this audiobook. If the abridgement had been longer there would still be some question as to whether or not we’d know what is going on in this book. I’ve listened about three times now and I’m pretty impressed at how much sense I’ve managed to make of it in spite of what little of the novel is there. It almost works. It has the barest framework of the plot left, lots of interesting characters, some very good dialogue, and a few simply brilliant SF ideas – but the final feeling I was left with at the end is great disappointment. We would really could have had a special audiobook here, if Simon & Schuster hadn’t knocked out so much in their drive to release 2-cassette abridgments as they did back in the early 1990s. This all is especially upseting because narrator Jay O. Sanders does a fantastic job with the accents and character voices. I think it is safe to say that the fad of abridging the snot out of every novel that comes down the pipe is over. That’s a good thing. It came to late for this audiobook. Some publisher out there should get a hold of The Mote In God’s Eye and record it, complete and unabridged, and while they’re at it they should get Jay O. Sanders to do the reading. We know he’ll do a good job.

Posted by Jesse Willis