The SFFaudio Podcast #229 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #229 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Paul Weimer talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
Tam is back, Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore, magic realism, Japan, kafkaesque, surrealism, 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, pretty books, Chip Kidd, rice paper, Requiem by Ken Scholes, Julie Davis, Tor, magic staff, earth in the future, The Steel Remains, “oh crap this is the future”, Gene Wolfe, Happy Hour In Hell by Tad Williams, Bobby Dollar, The Dirty Streets Of Heaven, urban fantasy, demoness tangling, Lankhmar, urban fantasy => a certain kind of fantasy, noir/detective => hardboiled, Otherland, Luke Burrage, cats, “the Walter Jon Williams effect”, MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, mostly dystopian, Oryx and Crake, quasi-humans, The Year Of The Flood, genetic engineering, racoon-pigs, storytelling mode, listening at 2X speed, competitive debate, Margaret Atwood’s preview of a review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, a sequel to The Shining, Atwood’s weakness for horror and terror, “because he’s Stephen King”, Will Patton, “don’t judge me people”, is there a stigma in literary circles?, Zoomer magazine’s profile of Margaret Atwood as “Queen Of The Nerds”, Twitter, tweetalong?, a genuine literary reputation, poetry, Orson Scott Card, does it matter?, dystopia, Dreamscape Audiobooks, The Night Lands by William Hope Hodgson, The House On The Borderlands, a very daunting book, big and ambitious, Lovecraftian?, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Earth Abides, class, mainstream post-apocalypse, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, a toothless grandfather, Drew Ariana, Goslings by J.D. Beresford, plague talk!, The Children Of Men, Y: The Last Man, the newspapers, HiLoBooks, “Radium Age” Science Fiction, Gweek, The Road To Science Fiction, classicism, sexism, barbarism, The Iron Heel, numeracy and literacy, the size of the universe or the age of the Earth, Simon & Schuster Audio, Rivers by Michael Farris Smith, Jenny loves destroying the earth, wiping the slate clean, Fallout, Tobias Buckell, Interrupt by Jeff Carlson, Hunter Davis, Brilliance Audio, simultaneously published with print, Neanderthals, the pronunciations, Robert J. Sawyer, Discover Magazine, literally means not literally anymore, it’s figuratively raining cats and dogs, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, Julie Davis, Simon Vance, science fiction thrillers, John Scalzi, plague, space elevator, working for the enemy?, a compressed schedule, writing 2X, a first novel!, military SF, “we’ve complinished everything”, Reflex by Steven Gould, Jumper, the physical audiobook industry (is it mostly for libraries), Paperback Audio, William Dufris, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, innate teleportation, the Jumper movie, Portal, post-humans, Nightcrawler without the bad smell, BAMFless, The Clockwork Man by E.V. Odle, Ralph Lister, no introductions makes Jesse sad, are there audio previews?, Affliction: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel (#22) by Laurell K. Hamilton, The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer, The Midnight Heir (Bane Chronicles #4) by Cassandra Clare and Sara Rees Brennan, building on The Hunger Games, Untouchable (Immortals After Dark #8) by Kresley Cole, Robert Petkoff, The Hunt or Capture, the reality TV version of The Hunger Games in The Hunger Games would be very boring, The Truman Show would be a very boring show to actually watch, in fiction the TV shows are without narrative, TVtropes show with an show, Hamlet, William Shakespeare did meta 500 years ago, epic traditional fantasy, traditional epic fantasy marriage, Crown Thief (Tales Of Easie Damasco #2) by David Tallerman, Giant Thief, sword and sorcery, golem or gollum?, Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Rosalyn Landor, , “Tolkien with the serial numbers filed off”, “its all about the elfstones”, The Lord Of The Rings, questing, trilogy vs. endless series, the Wikipedia entry for Shannara, a magical cataclysm, “a richer broader universe”, Revolution, S.M. Stirling, Robert Jordan, the Dragonlance series, Daniel Abraham, subverting the quest trope, The Eye Of The World, George R.R. Martin, gathering forces and subverting expectations, children’s fantasy, Roald Dahl, Matilda is read by Kate Winslet!, the musical of Matilda, The Twits, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator Futurama, Fry and the Slurm factory, Gene Wilder, great character names!, Dickensian names, The BFG, biography, crime, thriller, JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation Of A Man And The Emergence Of A Great President, Death Angel (Alexandra Cooper #15) by Linda Fairstein, The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth, George Guidall, “now it’s personal”, Penguin Audio, adding heat urgency of character development, adding a baby, Breaking Bad babies, the invisible baby or worse the artificially aging child syndrome, Mork & Mindy, Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, 30,000 years ago, prehistorical romance, hard edged scientific, Clan Of The Cavebear, Monsters Of The Earth by David Drake, Seanan McGuire, Soldier by Harlan Ellison, The Terminator, The Outer Limits, James Cameron, Philip Wylie, Tomorrow!, John Wyndham, When Worlds Collide, The Answer, nuclear war with angels, The End Of The Dream, The Murderer Invisible.

Dreamscape Audiobooks - Goslings by J.D. Beresford

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #208 – READALONG: Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #208 – Jesse, Jenny, and Eric S. Rabkin talk about Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Talked about on today’s show:
Magic realism, liking this book more, upset with a lot of things, “where’s the fantasy?”, Eric uses this book in his classes, Laura Esquivel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Eric’s Castillian accent, magic realism is just realism, One Hundred Years Of Solitude, locus classicus, a ten pound bag of amniotic fluid salt, Spark Notes, Tita would make some food, externalize her emotions, making matches, soap opera style plot, “this is a girl book”, “the most girly book ever”, birthing, cooking, Chapter 5, the chickens are pecking each other’s eyes out, the chicken tornado, three sisters, “know any other trinities”, Tia means aunt, Jessela, Josephita, “Little Joseph”, Mamma Elena wants to be God, Garza means heron, “malice in her heart”, birds, falcons, capons, an absence of storks, “Alex, the conqueror of the world”, what are we to make of the death of Roberto?, nurse and nourish, lactating non-moms, “such a girly book”, Isabel Allende, women have magic (in the kitchen, bedroom, family), the massive Wikipedia entry on Magic Realism, John Brown, Eric’s 4 cents about magic realism, true Fairy Tales, nobody is surprised by talking animals in fairy tales, Science Fiction, King Kong, Frankenstein, “science fiction provides metaphors whereas magic realism provides conceits”, food becomes the metaphor for the presentation of the self, Erving Goffman, the movie, the insane asylum, Chencha, ghosts, the kilometer long blanket, you may not believe it but you have to accept it, Jenny’s superpower, Ray Bradbury, grand niece, aroma and flavour, impossible flavours, John Brown has the power of his Kickapoo indian grandmother, romance novel, Rosaura, golden rose, the Virgin Mary, Pedro = Peter (the rock upon whom she will build her church), what it means to be selfless, loyal, and reliable, John Brown (the abolitionist), why is mama Elena such a twisted up bitch, Gertrudis (spear of strength), a story of racial prejudice, Harlequin Romance, Tristan And Isolde, love potions, “to the table or to be but you must come when you are bid”, “one time only is one called”, Gertrudis is burning with fire and covered in pink sweat, “in a very sexy manner”, rape?, Pedro’s a stick figure of a person, the ox-tail soup, “that was the way she entered his body”, a feminist book, the sergeant who can’t read, the mother needs to go away, “Surprise, I hate you.”, a haunted kitchen, the tradition of the youngest daughter, a love that bore strong fruit, not just a girly book, racism, black people dance well?, the Mexican Revolution, the revolution is happening within the people, “a brilliant insight”, the individual and the public, the Chinaman, “a well cooked dish”, the etiquette book, the three coloured enchiladas, Zapata, Pershing, Pancho Villa, the Mexican Tourist Board, the food is good, Easter Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus, Tita and Pedro’s final occurrence is apotheosis, Jesus gets the revive?, a tunnel of light, onions as a metaphor, the translation, visits to Mexico, Diego Rivera, civic nationality, “as if”, puns, conveying the general tone of craftsmanship, the two audiobooks, the metaphorical title, “hot and bothered”, alchemical food chemistry magic, recipe, science with its reproduceable results, eight different ways to perfectly hard-boil an eggs,

The Seal Of Mexico
Man Controller Of The Universe by Diego Rivera

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #155 – READALONG: Five Nebula Nominated Short Stories

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #155 – Jenny, Tamahome, and Jesse talk about the five Nebula 2011 nominated short stories for which there are audio versions.

Talked about on today’s show:

the Clarkesworld one was too quiet (by the way, we use Levelator), April Fools jokes fall out of date, The Cartographer Wasps And The Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu, Jenny’s favorite, it’s science and it’s fiction but is it science fiction?, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, “nerdy mapmakers”, Ottoman Empire, Jenny is into language, ‘thrumming’, revolution, The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, Tam was moved to tweet it, Jhumpa Lahiri and first generation Americans, do we need the fantastic part?, Mike Resnic-y, workshop stories, “he’s such a tool”, movie version?, Asian magic realism, the owl on Home Depot, Murakami, Jesse likes Leggos, childhood, Jesse please explain Mama, We Are Zhenya by Tom Crosshill, Tam sounds just like narrator Stefan Rudnicki, quantum mechanics, author’s blog post about the story, intellectual heft, it’s a five year old, Flowers For Algernon, head-eating clouds, Lost, YA novel about singularity, superpowers, and giant robots, author was a nuclear operator, Zhenya is everywhere, and now with a slightly older child — Movement by Nancy Fulda, we’ve read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time |OUR READALONG|, “temporal autism”, we’ve also read Speed Of Dark |READ OUR REVIEW| so we are autism experts, or Asperger’s?, Daniel Tammet and prime numbers, “she doesn’t want new shoes”, father’s bug killer, (note: here I got E. Lily Yu mixed up with Yoon Ha Lee’s Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain from Sffaudio 120, here’s the full text and audio from Lightspeed), Her Husband’s Hands by Adam-Troy Castro, horror, SUPER CREEPY DO NOT WANT, the hyphen in the author’s name was originally a typo, Chiller Theater, war, The Hand with Michael Caine, Guy De Maupassant, House of Holes by Nicholson Baker, Bianca’s Hands by Theodore Sturgeon (podcasted by Spider Robinson), It by Sturgeon, some story about brains, eyes, and taste buds, Pruzy’s Pot (podcasted by Spider Robinson) has a monster under the toilet that does things, we make our Nebula picks and predictions, a moving story about ponies from last year, Kij Johnson, a story about sex with an alien, which story will be remembered in ten years? Toy Story III with immigrants, we will discuss Among Others by Jo Walton, sexy Welsh accent in the audiobook, Tam’s amazing Welsh accent, waiting for Jo’s series on Hugo-nominated novellas, get off my lawn with your books series’s!, how to find good stories/books, Christopher Priest’s amazing post, anything good after 1950?, Stories by Neil Gaiman and Alan Sarrantonio, The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains |READ OUR POST|, Joe Landsdale on novels

crosshill novella cover

Posted by Tamahome

Review of The Greatest Science Fiction Stories Of The 20th Century

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Greatest Science Fiction Stories Of The 20th CenturyThe Greatest Science Fiction Stories Of The 20th Century
By various; Read by various
4 Cassettes – 6 Hours [Unabridged]
Publisher: Dove Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0787116807
Themes: / Science Fiction / Magical Realism / Aliens / Time Travel / Parallel Worlds / Space Travel / Mutation / Nuclear Winter /

What would a long time SF fan consider a collection called The Greatest Science Fiction Stories Of The 20th Century when none of the stories would make his top ten list, and some aren’t even SF? In this case, I consider it a very good collection of stories. If anything, this seems a collection of well-read and written, but randomly chosen, speculative fiction stories.

Clearly intended to present a wide variety of “Science Fiction,” this audio-anthology has neither theme nor consistency but it doesn’t need them. The stories, with only two exceptions, are quite entertaining. They are all extremely well read, my quibble with a poor attempt at an accent notwithstanding, ranging from Harlan Ellison’s wonderfully passionate reading of his story to Nana Visitor’s aesthetically perfect interpretation of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”

Each story is briefly commented on below.

“Jeffty Is Five”
By Harlan Ellison; Read by Harlan Ellison
Reality is distorted around a boy who doesn’t age. This is Magical Realism, not SF, but an amazing story nonetheless. Ellison’s response to the bitter cynicism of modernity will tear at the core of your soul unless A) you’re very young or B) you don’t have a soul. The best story in the collection.

“Twilight”
By John W. Campbell; Read by Richard McGonagle
A good early SF story but not quite great. It feels a bit to much like Wells’ The Time Machine, but it entertaining enough. A retelling of a time traveler’s visit to the twilight of humanity.

“The Ones Who Walk Away Fom Omelas”
By Ursula K. Le Guin; Read by Nana Visitor
Virtually everyone knows this Fantasy, again not SF, story. It has all the strengths and weakness of Le Guin’s writing, amazing authorial voice and great storytelling, but a strong tendency to be overly didactic to the point of sanctimoniousness. Still as with most of her stories, the strengths far outweigh the weaknesses.

“Bears Discover Fire”
By Terry Bisson; Read by Arte Johnson
Bears start using fire in an otherwise normal Kentucky. This Magical Realism, not an SF. This story was the only one that bored me. It also had my only, relatively minor, reading complaint. The reader’s Kentucky accent is a bit off and sounds a bit condescending.

“The Crystal Spheres”
By David Brin; Read by Alexander Siddig
A very interesting, though highly implausible, story about a universe in which all stars are encircled by invisible, impenetrable, crystal spheres.

“That Only a Mother”
By Judith Merril; Read by Terry Farrell
Due to radiation poisoning, a baby is born mentally gifted but physically impaired. A disturbing, unpleasant story that is only marginally SF.

“Allamagoosa”
By Eric Frank Russell; Read by James A. Watson
Wonderful over-the-top humor. This story of a spaceship facing an inspection while missing an offog, an item no one knows what is, is a gem.

“Tangents”
By Greg Bear; Read by Melissa Manchester.
A boy can see into the the fourth physical dimension and a scientist helps him play music for the beings there. Interesting enough, but forgettable.

“The Nine Billion Names of God”
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Alexander Siddig
Tibetan monks have a computer print out all the names possible names of God with the intent of fulfilling the purpose of creation. Good enough but not even Clarke’s best short story.

“Huddling Place”
By Clifford D. Simak; Read by David Ackroyd
In a future with robots and space travel agoraphobia has become a serious threat. This story would have been just acceptable filler except for the fact that in this story from 1944, Simak predicts the internet, though he describes it in terms of a television with knobs.

“Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Diner”
By Lawrence Watt Evans; Read by Wil Wheaton
A fun, interesting take on the the idea of parallel universes. Certainly an enjoyable story.

“Fermi And Frost”
By Frederik Pohl; Read by Denise Crosby
Icelanders face the prospects of nuclear winter in the post-apocalyptic tale. A good downbeat story to balance some of the lighthearted stories.

Conclusion: This is a very good anthology. It definitely isn’t a collection of the best stories, but it may be the best collection of stories available. Highly recommended.

I started reviewing this collection on the expectation that it was out of print and I would have to recommend Amazon or eBay as a source of a used cassette copy. So imagine my surprise when a mere day after finishing it, I hear an Audible.com ad for it on Pseudopod. So, it is easily available for those interested.

Posted by David Tackett

Review of Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature by Michael D.C. Drout

SFFaudio Review

Modern Scholar - Rings, Sword, Monsters Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature
Lectures by Professor Michael D.C. Drout
7 CDs & Book – 7 Hours 51 Minutes [LECTURES]
Publisher: Recorded Books LLC / The Modern Scholar
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1419386956
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Lectures / Fantasy / J.R.R. Tolkien / Middle Earth / Beowulf / Children’s Fantasy / Arthurian Legend / Magic Realism / World Building /

“It used to be that fantasy was a boy’s genre and that was clear even back through the 80s and 90s, that 90% of your audience for fantasy literature, 90% of your audience for Tolkien was male. That is no longer the case. When I give lecturings [sic] at gatherings of Tolkien enthusiasts the crowd is easily 50-50 male female and often times more female than male – though I will have to say that many of the women in the crowd are wearing elf-princess costumes – I’m not really sure what that means.”
-Lecture 13: Arthurian Fantasy (on the ‘Marion Zimmer Bradley effect’)

Most of this lecture series is concerned with Tolkien. Drout explains what influenced Tolkien’s fiction, how his work impacted Fantasy and how later writers reacted to and imitated him. A full five of the 14 lectures are on Tolkien’s books proper, with another four on what influenced him, and who he influenced. The scholarship here is absolutely engrossing, hearing Drout tease out details from names, the structure and the philosophy of Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion will delight any Tolkien fan. At one point in Lecture 4 Drout explains the sources for the names of both the 13 dwarves of The Hobbit and Gandalf too. According to Drout, Gandalf was originally named “Bladderthin.” But this isn’t just scholarship here, Drout is very much a critic, a fan of the works he studies. He gives a critical examination of plots, themes and the worlds of each of the Fantasy novels he talks about. Drout dissects Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, calling them possibly the best Fantasy since Tolkien, on the one hand and also shows what doesn’t quite work in them. Drout, like Tolkien is an scholar of Anglo-Saxon so there is also plenty of talk about Beowulf and the impact it had on Tolkien. In fact, central to many of his arguments is the linguistic background each work of Fantasy makes use of. Tolkien works so well, argues Drout, in part, because it all hangs linguistically together. Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, which Drout thinks immensely prominent in post-Tolkien Fantasy, doesn’t have a cohesive linguistic bedrock, and that hurts the series – which he thinks is otherwise one of the best realized “secondary worlds” created. Whatever it is Drout talks about, he backs up his critical opinion. Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he’s read them, and has dissected the plots to show how as time has gone by and Brooks has written more, he’s come to have something of his own voice, and not just stayed the pale Tolkien imitator he started as.

The lectures on Tolkien inevitably lead to the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Drout gives them their due, and shows why some of it works and some of it doesn’t. Arthurian Fantasy, which predates Tolkien, seems to have run a parallel course to “secondary world” fantasy literature. After hearing Lecture 13 you’ll come away with a desire to find a copy of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and Mary Stewart’s Merlin series. My own opinion is that Drout gives too much credit to J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter novels, he talks about her writing for about 8 minutes. In fairness it would probably not be possible to talk about Children’s Fantasy literature without mentioning her popular series. But on the other hand there are many different kinds of Fantasy that Drout doesn’t talk about at all. I wonder why Neil Gaiman isn’t mentioned. What of Robert E. Howard? And why almost no talk about short stories? James Powell’s A Dirge For Clowntown needs some attention! The only solution is for Recorded Books to go back and ask for more from this professor. Call it Gods, Barbarians, and Clowns: Further Explorations Of Fantasy Literature or something. Until then I’ll be working on my Cimmerian-clown costume.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Voice from the Edge Vol. 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison

SFFaudio Author of the Month Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Voice from the Edge: I Have No Mouth and I Must ScreamThe Voice from the Edge Vol. 1: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
By Harlan Ellison, read by Harlan Ellison
5 CD’s – 6 hours [UNABRIDGED stories]
Publisher: Fantastic Audio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 1574535374
Themes: / Science fiction / Collection / Series / Post-Apocalypse / Artificial intelligence / Utopia / Dystopia / Magic Realism / Love / Hell /

ed. – This is one of two Harlan Ellison collections that were released by Fantastic Audio. The second is called The Voice from the Edge: Midnight at the Sunken Cathedral.

There are two basic reasons to invest in a short story collection by a single author. The first is to experience first hand the stylistic, thematic, and technical contributions the author has made to his genre and to literature in general; the second is to sample the dynamic range the author covers, to gauge the extent of his palette.

This audio book delivers the first in spades. With Harlan Ellison’s friendly, yet curmudgeonly introduction, we are thrust immediately into the gritty rawness he helped bring to science fiction. Such stories as the harrowing, lurid, complex title story, the gleefully offensive misogyny and sociopathy of “A Boy and His Dog”, the pop-cultural, pejorative ranting of “Laugh Track”, and the sophomoric sexual preoccupation of “The Very Last Day of a Good Woman” clearly delineate the dark, adult-oriented themes he introduced, as well as his predilection for unlikable anti-heroes who often leave us feeling a bit less comfortable about ourselves. And on such material, his distinctive narrative style shines. He curses with conviction, and his voice handles guilt, revenge, and damnation with seeming familiarity.

In the overall story choice, we also have a remarkable demonstration of the range of Ellison’s writing. Compare the patient, redemptive power of “Paladin of the Lost Hour” to any of the stories mentioned above, and you’ll see what I mean. Throw in the sly, haunted twist of “The Time of the Eye”, the overwrought post-modernism and tedious beatnik vamping in “’Repent Harlequin!’ said the Tick-Tock Man”, the sublime, hellish search for love in “Grail”, and the puzzling juxtaposition of the truly horrific and the trivial in “The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke”, and you cover quite a swath of not only the science-fiction spectrum, but the fiction spectrum in general.

Unfortunately, the use of a single narrator for all these stories blurs their uniqueness, especially since that narrator is Harlan Ellison. His delivery style can be enjoyable, but it is so raw, so exaggerated, and so pervasive that it tends to flatten the relief of the work itself. I can’t say that I question the wisdom of having Ellison narrate, for on any single story his voice adds the confident insight that only an author can bring to his own work. But this is a collection, and the diverse stories deserve a wider range of vocal performance to truly showcase their differences. My advice is to make the best of this paradox by taking the collection slowly. The quality of the material, the exceptionally crisp sound and the fine, user-friendly packaging make this an audio book you should not miss. Just make sure to pace yourself.