Here are the New Releases for September – a fine l…

Here are the New Releases for September – a fine looking bunch of audiobooks, I must say…

Anansi Boys
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Lenny Henry
Harper Audio, Unabridged
The sequel to American Gods – can’t wait!

Dragonflight
By Anne McCaffrey; Read by Dick Hill
Brilliance Audio, Unabridged
This is a mass market re-release of this title, now available on CD and MP3-CD

The Road to Dune
By Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson
Read by Scott Brick
Audio Renaissance, Unabridged
Click here for the SFFAudio Review!

Speaker for the Dead
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Various
Audio Renaissance, Unabridged
Click here for the SFFAudio Review!

Star Wars: The Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen
By Troy Denning; Read by Jonathan Davis
Random House Audio, Abridged

The Warrior’s Apprentice
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Grover Gardner
Blackstone Audio, Unabridged
Available on cassette, CD, and MP3-CD
This is the second Vorkosigan novel released by Blackstone.

Thud!
By Terry Pratchett; Read by Stephen Briggs
Harper Audio, Unabridged
The latest Discworld novel.

Review of The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Vor Game by Lois McMaster BujoldThe Vor Game
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Grover Gardner
9 CDs – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9780786178308
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Military / Espionage /

I’ve listened to several space operas lately. Sometimes it works out that way when reviewing science fiction audio, no matter how eclectic I try to be in my listening. So, I approached this with a bit of a sigh, expecting more of the same. I should have known better, though, because Lois McMaster Bujold is one heck of a fine storyteller, and Grover Gardner is a fine reader, too. The Vor Game showed me how good space opera can be. It doesn’t take itself seriously, the characters are people you’d like to meet, the situations (and their resolutions) are plausible, and, only because you care enough about the characters, exciting.

The Vor Game is one of a series of books collectively called The Vorkosigan Saga. Technically, this Hugo Award-winning book is the fourth in the series, but each stands alone. It starts with Miles Vorkosigan, the son of the famous Count Vorkosigan and subject of most of the Vorkosigan novels, graduating from the Barrayaran military academy. He’s anticipating an assignment in all sorts of interesting places, but he lands a spot as a weatherman in a frozen northern training base. An infantry training base no less – something for which his short stature (from genetic damage suffered by his mother while pregnant with Miles) is simply not built. And it all goes downhill from there in a story that spans this frozen tundra to the depths of space, and includes ensigns and emperors. The characters are very witty, especially Miles.

Grover Gardner is an excellent reader. He is not a flamboyant dramatic reader, but a precise steady reader with a very pleasant voice. I enjoy his performances, like I did this one.

Blackstone Audio is going to publish more of the Vorkosigan titles – the next in line is The Warrior’s Apprentice. Looking forward to it!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction

SFFaudio Online Audio

I just stumbled across a very nice resource – Fast Forward: Contemporary Science Fiction is a television show based in Arlington, VA. They have interviewed a number of science fiction authors, and they have archives going back to 2003 so you can listen to (or watch – each interview is available in MP3 audio format or compressed video format) at your leisure.

The following interviews are currently available: Orson Scott Card, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, Patricia Wrede, Elizabeth Massie, Laura Anne Gilman, Susanna Clarke, Jasper Fforde, China Miéville, Cortney Skinner, Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Tamora Pierce, Nalo Hopkinson, Jack Williamson, Terry Pratchett, Karl Kofoed, Margaret Weis, Laurell K. Hamilton, Garth Nix, Roger MacBride Allen, Donna Andrews, Catherine Asaro, Robert Jordan, Will Ludwigsen, and Mindy Klasky.

Click here for their archives!

Review of Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

Fantasy Audiobooks - Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster BujoldPaladin of Souls
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Kate Reading
13 CDs – Approx. 15 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0786181397
Themes: / Fantasy / Religion / Magic / Demons /

Paladin of Souls is the second book in Bujold’s series involving the country of Chalion. A minor, troubled character in the first book, The Curse of Chalion, is the heroine, or the champion of souls, in this remarkable tale. Lady Ista is an intriguing forty-something lead character and is best described by her own words: “I have always been a drab sort of thing; the only thing that has improved is my wits.” She is intelligent and witty and uses these talents to deal with devastating events from her past.

The setting for this story is a medieval-style world with a polytheistic religion in which men and women choose one of five Gods, each with unique callings and characteristics, to worship. In addition to this, there are demons and demon magic creating opposition for the plot. The story centers around Ista and her relationship with the Gods. She is disillusioned with them as a result of her past involvement that had deadly and heartbreaking consequences, but is dragged kicking and screaming back into their service. She is given the tasks of rescuing souls being destroyed by demons and sorting out a deadly triangle of demon magic and deception.

As the story unfolds Ista not only finds a calling that gives her life meaning, she finds devoted friends, forgiveness, and love. Within the story are several very moving interactions between her and the Gods wherein she comes to have a deeper understanding of their plans and their love for the men and women who serve them. Bujold has composed a beautiful novel that is at once compelling, humorous, and touching. Her characters are not only heroic, but fantastically multidimensional. They are by turns noble, compassionate, selfish, stubborn… human.

The audio version of Paladin of Souls is a wonderful example of the perfect pairing of story and voice. Kate Reading sounds like royalty in every book she narrates. Some may recognize her performances with Michael Kramer in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. She also has been the primary voice of Dr. Kay Scarpetta in Patricia Cornwell’s murder mysteries. Ms. Reading’s ability to enunciate without sounding like she is working at it lends itself beautifully to Lady Ista, whom we can assume would behave and sound like a person of the ruling class. With all this said, Paladin of Souls is a step above the ordinary in fantasy literature and audiobooks. It is a delight to experience.

Review of Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Falling Free by Lois McMaster BujoldFalling Free
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan
7 Cassettes – 9 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: The Reader’s Chair
Published: 1996
ISBN: 0962401099
Themes: / Science Fiction / Genetic Engineering / Space Travel / Space Stations / Slavery / Corporations /

When I heard about The Reader’s Chair going out of business, I couldn’t help but to revisit this book. I first started writing about audiobooks back in 2001, and one of the first columns I wrote for SFSite was about The Reader’s Chair. In that column, I said:

The audio versions are first-rate. Hanson and Cowan read the books with enthusiasm, providing different characters with different inflections. Great care was taken to make these novels a listening pleasure.

Upon listening to this Nebula-winning novel, and after hearing I have no clue how many audiobooks since, I can still say that the Reader’s Chair titles are amongst the finest out there. Michael Hanson has a deep sonorous voice that demands attention, and Carol Cowan is a warm yet feisty counterbalance.

Falling Free is a novel that fits into Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, but the events occur 200 years before the birth of the famous Miles Vorkosigan. The story involves a corporation that genetically engineers a new race of humans (called Quaddies) that are uniquely adapted for work in zero-gravity. Enter Leo Graf, an engineer hired to teach zero-g welding techniques to this new race of slave labor. When he sees how the Quaddies are treated, he becomes very uneasy. Think you know where this is heading? Bujold pulls it off brilliantly.

This one is now officially out of print, but well worth finding. The Reader’s Chair productions are top notch, from the high quality production value to the sturdy and fine-looking packaging. I’m very sorry to see them go.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

A few news items today… First, Robert J. Sawyer…

A few news items today…

First, Robert J. Sawyer will be interviewed this Friday morning, April 15, at 10:30 p.m. (in every time zone) on CBC Radio One’s flagship morning show “Sounds Like Canada” about MINDSCAN. You can get it on the web at: http://www.cbc.ca.

Second, congrats to all the Hugo nominees! You can find a complete list of the nominees at Interaction’s Worldcon website. Of the fiction nominees, a few have audio versions:

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (nominated for Best Novel) is available unabridged from Audio Renaissance.

I found The Algebraist by Iain Banks (also a Best Novel nominee) available on audio at Amazon.uk. There’s no mention that I can see about whether it’s abridged or not. If anyone out there has more info, please let me know.

Shed Skin by Robert J. Sawyer (Best Short Story nominee) is available on audio from Deuce Audio.

And lastly, some bad news for SF audiobook fans. The Reader’s Chair, publisher of some very fine audiobooks, especially Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, has closed it’s doors.