Recent Arrivals: Tequila Mockingbird by Paul Bishop

Aural Noir: Recent Arrivals

Out of print, (I found it on ABEbooks.com), and just arrived by Canada Post, is this 10 cassette audiobook written by Paul Bishop, of the Bish’s Beat blog!

CHIVERS - Tequila Mockingbird by Paul BishopTequila Mockingbird
By Paul Bishop; Read by William Roberts
10 Cassettes – Approx. 10 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Chivers Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0792722426
The murder of Alex Waverly, a highly decorated detective in LAPD’s anti-terrorist division, appears to be an open-and-shut case of domestic violence turned deadly. But circumstances are not what they seem, as Fey Croaker discovers, when the Chief gives the case to her with instructions to wrap it up “quick and tidy. No muss, no fuss.” Caught in the middle of a power struggle, Fey and her crew search for the truth. But they quickly become moving targets in their effort to stop a south-of-the-border terrorist from striking at the very heart of Los Angeles.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin

SFFaudio Review

TANTOR MEDIA - The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan KollinThe Unincorporated Man
By Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin; Read by Todd McLaren
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 24 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: May 2009
ISBN: 9781400161720
Themes: / Science Fiction / Utopia / Dystopia / Time Travel / Slavery / Economics / Business / Cryonics / Immortality / Virtual Reality / Philosophy / Law / Alaska / Colorado / Los Angeles / Switzerland / Nanotechnology / Space Elevator /

The Unincorporated Man is a provocative social/political/economic novel that takes place in the future, after civilization has fallen into complete economic collapse. This reborn civilization is one in which every individual is incorporated at birth and spends many years trying to attain control over his or her own life by getting a majority of his or her own shares. Life extension has made life very long indeed. Now the incredible has happened: a billionaire businessman from our time, frozen in secret in the early twenty-first century, is discovered and resurrected, given health and a vigorous younger body. Justin Cord is the only unincorporated man in the world, a true stranger in this strange land. Justin survived because he is tough and smart. He cannot accept only part ownership of himself, even if that places him in conflict with a civilization that extends outside the solar system to the Oort Cloud. People will be arguing about this novel and this world for decades.

Even though I had never heard of the authors I like this book right from the start. The title reminded me of a Philip K. Dick novel called The Unteleported Man. There are probably a whole bunch of SF books following the formula “The (negative attribution) Man”, with The Invisible Man perhaps being the first of them. But there’s a lot more to like about this novel than the title alone. Among the pleasures it brings is good, old-fashioned idea based SF. It has been quite a while since I was so intellectually engaged by a novel’s central premise. And The Unincorporated Man has one. Set on a future Earth The Unincorporated Man is fundamentally different in both tone and scope than most SF novels I’ve read recently. Authors Dani and Eytan Kollin have envisioned a future in which the institution known as “the corporation” has replaced the convention of “person.” When born each child has stock of 1000 shares issued in his or her name. 10 percent of these stocks are held by each parent, the government gets another 5 percent and the rest is held in trust until the age of majority after which the balance of the stock is given to the child-cum-adult. He or she can then sell, or keep his or her stocks as they so desire. Holding a majority of your own stock insures relative autonomy (based on the amount above 50% you hold). The primary difficulty comes when you realize that you’ll need to invest in yourself. If you want an education you’ll need to pay for it. But without an education the pay won’t be much. So, you can either get education money by working at a low-wage job, and deriving whatever profit percentage your current stock level allows, or by selling your stock off for cash. This typically manifests itself in the majority of humanity not owning majority in themselves. With the possibility of living for centuries, thanks to the ubiquitous nanotechnology, you’d be wise to invest in an education. But in so doing you’ll loose control of your majority, and thus perhaps have to work at jobs that your shareholders choose, take vacations when your shareholders agree and generally have your life dictated to you by those that hold your stock. Why not just take the money and loaf? Who cares what the shareholders say? They can’t make you work can they? Well, yes they can. The corporate system is enforced by a forced mental audit that is applicable whenever shareholders think a corporation, who they hold stock in, is committing malfeasance (shirking their job, deliberately getting fired, etc.). Every corporation is trackable, thanks to GPS-like implants, and is thus ultimately accountable to his or her shareholders. It is the ultimate invasive tyranny, a slavery to the bottom line, a profit motive enforced by an invisible hand that you shook a deal with.

But things aren’t all doom and gloom. Those who are lucky enough to have been born with enough money, drive, intelligence, talent or beauty are able to do pretty much whatever they like with their time – that is assuming they don’t loose too much of their stock in luxuries or in judgments rendered against them in civil lawsuits. You can live like a king, wear any kind of clothing you like, read the newsies and travel the world in an endless party. But, as the centuries have rolled past it seems that fewer and fewer people have found it fashionable (or is the correct word possible?) to retain or even re-seek their majority stock. After all, in their nanotechnological society material abundance sees that no-one starves, no-one remains un-housed. Freedom, it seems, is just out of fashion. Enter Justin Cord and his unincorporated status.

I really liked this novel, but it isn’t without a few caveats. I found the fascinating society portrayed to be the most interesting thing about The Unincorporated Man. The characters are all pretty stiff and the problems facing Jason Cord, our hero, were far less interesting than they were useful in exploring this strange new society. Like many novels I review this one suffers most greatly from excessive page count. At 480 pages the novel takes 24.5 hours to listen to. I’d have preferred the novel with a steadier editorial hand. The editor could have done two relatively easy things. First he or she could have cut out a lot of the filler. I’m not just talking about empty sentences, there are many scenes that could have been eliminated or described in just a sentence or two. There are, for instance, two big court cases in this nove. Would it have been impossible to tell this story in one? Second, there was a useless detour along the way. I enjoyed it, but don’t see any reason it was needed in this novel. It could have been easily explored separately, in another novel. Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin wanted to talk about the relatively unexplored idea, a social scourge in the form of really vivid virtual reality. Larry Niven did something similar with his idea of the “tasp,” but that wasn’t exactly VR. If you could live your whole life in an artificial reality that was extremely cheap why wouldn’t you? The answer, cooked up by Kollins, is less persuasive than I’d have hoped. And again it doesn’t really need to be in this particular novel. They foresee a coming global catastrophe created not by ecological destruction, but rather by an addictive technological neuropathology. That’s great, but like I said it doesn’t need to be in this novel. When a false reality is far more enjoyable than a real one why should we care about the real one? Good question. Just don’t ask it here.

Narrator Todd McLaren, who I first encountered in Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon |READ OUR REVIEW|, is very talented. He mispronounce one or two words. “Concomitant.” being one of them. McLaren isn’t called to do many accents here, but he gives voice to a fairly large cast of characters. There are also several scenes in which he is required to portray a man giving impassioned speeches to crowds. These don’t sound like shouts, thankfully, but instead give the impression of a strained voice, speaking so as to be heard.

Posted by Jesse Willis

We’re Alive: A Story Of Survival – a zombie audio drama serial

SFFaudio Online Audio

We're Alive: A Story Of SurvivalWe’re Alive: A Story Of Survival is a new horror serial podcast that makes use of one the world’s most currently popular tropes, ZOMBIES!

One of the more difficult storytelling problems, in creating a zombie story, is addressing the word itself. “Zombie,” as we use it, is a relatively new word and it conjures up some highly specific images. But, since it refers to something of the modern world, but not actually in the modern world it can’t be simply taken for granted – at least not quite yet.

George Romero, the inventor of the modern zombie story, didn’t have this problem. He had his protagonists call their foes “the dead.” And the story was played straight. Now that this meme is free floating, fully realized and yet still insubstantial the writer of We’re Alive: A Story Of Survival, Kc Wayland, felt the need to address the problem. This is what he did:

Michael: They were like animals and they sure as hell weren’t like us anymore. Not with those eyes.

Angel: Then what were they?

Saul: Zombies.

Michael: Come on Saul, this isn’t the time.

Saul: No joke sarge! What if they are?

Michael: Think about it just for a second.

Exactly. This writerly technique is called “Lampshade Hanging.” It’s needed when some aspect of the story threatens the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief. The idea is simple: call attention to the problem and then having called that attention, move on. It sounds counterinutive, but it works. The audience is perversely mollified, satisfied that the writer knows what we know. Okay, enough of meta-zombies. Here’s this zombie show’s zombie premise:

A small riot in LA has spread past its containment. Three reserve soldiers are called to their deserted duty station. Believed to be the last remaining armed servicemen in the area, Michael, Angel, and Saul witness the true cause of the riot; people are starting to change and attack each other. Armed with only what they can carry, they set out to secure an apartment building and rescue survivors scattered amongst the shattered remains of civilization. In a world turned upside down, every day is a struggle, as those who have taken refuge in the tower find out that their safe haven is under constant threat. In this place, however, the strengths of those who stand together, might just be enough to live long enough to see things start to change.

There are 13 episodes out so far. It’s an interesting story, being a full blown zombie apocalypse set in Los Angeles.

Podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/itpc/wwwwaylandws/Wayland_Productions/Were_Alive_-_Podcast/rssxml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[via Radio Drama Revival]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of Drive by James Sallis

Aural Noir: Review

Blackstone Audio - Drive by James SallisDrive
By James Sallis; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
Audible Download – 3 Hours 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
Provider: Audible.com
Themes: / Crime / Noir / Los Angeles / Hollywood / Arizona /

“Much later, as he sat with his back against an inside wall of a Motel 6 just north of Phoenix, watching the pool of blood lap toward him, Driver would wonder whether he had made a terrible mistake. Later still, of course, there’d be no doubt. But for now Driver is, as they say, in the moment. And the moment includes this blood lapping toward him, the pressure of dawn’s late light at windows and door, traffic sounds from the interstate nearby, the sound of someone weeping in the next room…”

Drive starts with an important dedication. “To Donald Westlake, Ed McBain and Larry Block.” If an author is going to choose any three modern crime writers as inspiration for a book they could pick no better three than these dudes. Drive starts off with an opening sentence that could have been written by Richard Stark (a pen-name of Donald Westlake), proceeds to punch-out clean and clinical prose like McBain’s 87th Precinct novels and punches the story along like Lawrence Block at his best. Drive stars “Driver”, a nameless Hollywood stunt driver by day and a criminal getaway driver by night. We get how he started in the business of stunt-driving, a few scenes of him pulling off those incredible feats of automotive control, and how he got involved in the punishing business of criminal getaway driving. It’s fast, but it ain’t furious, it’s more of a simmering sizzle.

Blackstone narrator Paul Michael Garcia, who I last heard as the reader of Starman Jones, has a young voice – I knew I’d enjoy his reading of something in this genre. Garcia’s narration made it an incredibly solid listen. What’ll keep it from being a classic of the niche is that same anonymity of the protagonist. I enjoyed the ride with the guy, the “driver”, he has an incredible story to tell, but it was like I got hypnotized by the road somehow – I got to the end, refreshed and exhilarated but not particularly aware of what route we took. Perhaps this makes Drive the ideal summertime, top down, high-gear audiobook? It’s a novella so it’s short and you’ll zip through it practically before the commute is over. I think its worth giving a try.

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 7: This Is Pulp Fiction

Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7Time to double click on that Radio Downloader shortcut you’ve placed on your desktop folks! There’s a rebroadcast of the 2008 BBC Radio 7 commissioned collection of five stories called This Is Pulp Fiction. Airing in the Crime and Thrillers slot are readings of stories by William F. Nolan, Gil Brewer and Jim Thompson! Honestly, how can you pass it all up?

This is Pulp Fiction
By various; Read by Peter Marinker
5 Broadcasts – [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: July 28th – 31st 2009 (Monday – Friday @ 1:45pm, 8:45pm and 1:45am)
Peter Marinker reads some of the best in classic American Pulp Fiction, abridged for radio by Nick McCarty.

Stories included:

1/5 Divide and Conquer
By Jack Ritchie
Tommy’s Casino chain is running smoothly till some new blood tries to muscle in. A classic 1957 crime thriller about a cleverly foiled protection racket.

2/5 The Getaway
By Gil Brewer
Gangster Vincente is about to make the biggest hit of his career. A classic 1976 crime thriller about a gangland hit with a twist.

3/5 Black
By Paul Cain
There’s a gang war raging, and Black is there to sort things out.

4/5 Forever After
By Jim Thompson
Ardis Clinton has a foolproof plan to kill her husband. From 1960, a crime thriller about a woman’s comeuppance.

5/5 A Real Nice Guy
By William F. Nolan
A serial sniper is stalking for another target in Los Angeles. From 1980.

Posted by Jesse Willis

DRT Summer Showcase #3: The Knightmare

SFFaudio News

And here are details from the first of Decoder Ring Summer Showcase #3‘s program…

The Knightmare by Bill Cunningham

The man behind this production, Bill Cunningham, says that “The Knightmare is a hero cut from the same cloth as The Shadow or The Green Hornet.” Not unlike Decoder Ring’s Red Panda himself! In this 2-part episode, The Knightmare is fighting Hollywood gangsters, Hollywood cops and Nazis (probably not from Hollywood). Unlike RP this story is set in Los Angeles.

The KnightmareThe Knightmare (The Murder Legion Strikes at Midnight)
By Bill Cunningham; Performed by a full cast
2 Parts – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: May 30th, 2009 & June 6th, 2009

Podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Here’s a downloadable sample from the intro to the show |MP3| and |HERE| is the full press release.

Posted by Jesse Willis