Radio Drama Revival: BBC Radio 4’s The Handmaid’s Tale

SFFaudio Online Audio

Radio Drama RevivalThough Margaret Atwood denies it, along with denying that humans landed on the Moon, I genuinely and truly believe she has written an excellent Science Fiction novel. In fact, BBC Radio 4’s production of that very Science Fiction novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, is truly excellent Science Fiction drama too! That’s why I’m so excited to pass along this post from Radio Drama Revival‘s Fred Greenhalgh:

Oh, dear listeners, today we have a treat for you! It’s a story commissioned by the the gold standard in audio drama – the BBC!

The show is producer John Dryden’s inspired adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. The story tells of a dismal future where the lines between church and state are no longer distinguishable, and the nature of femininity has been revised to fit a more religious bent.

Free young women are conscripted to become “handmaid’s” – women used as stand-ins for infertile wives in a world where sterility seems rampant… And this is the story of one of those Handmaids.

Part 1 is available now, parts 2 and 3 will appear in future podcasts…

Part 1 of 3 |MP3|

A full-cast dramatization based on one of the 20th century’s most outstanding novels about the future. When religious extremists take over the US government, they create the Republic of Gilead where women are prohibited from owning property and all money is transferred to male relations.

Podcast feed:

http://feeds2.feedburner.com/FinalRune

Also recommended, for those interested, there is a very different CBC Radio adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale (as dramatized by Michael O’Brien). It aired in 2002 and was later released on CD by BTC Audiobooks.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Incomparable Podcast

SFFaudio Online Audio

The IncomparableHere is the first episode |MP3| of The Incomparable Podcast. It appears to be all about SFF books! Huzzah! Here’s the description:

Climb in your Zeppelin, grab a self-burning book, and prepare for the first Incomparable Podcast, in which we discuss “The City and The City,” “The Windup Girl,” “For The Win,” and more. Plus we mispronounce the names of writers.

The Incomparable Participants: Glenn Fleishman, Scott McNulty, Dan Moren, and Jason Snell. The Incomparable Theme Song composed by Christopher Breen.

Prominently mentioned in this Incomparable episode:

* “The City & The City” by China Miéville
* “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi
* “For the Win” by Cory Doctorow

Also mentioned:

* “Perdido Street Station” by China Miéville
* “Little Brother” by Cory Doctorow
* “Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom” by Cory Doctorow
* “Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest
* “The Gone-Away World” by Nick Harkaway
* “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi
* “Tongues Of Serpents” by Naomi Novik
* “The Dream Of Perpetual Motion” by Dexter Palmer
* “A Storm Of Swords” by George R.R. Martin
* “Oryx And Crake” by Margaret Atwood
* “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union” by Michael Chabon
* “Bitter Seeds” by Ian Tregillis
* “The Adamantine Palace” by Stephen Deas
* “Shades Of Grey” by Jasper Fforde
* “Fables” by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina

Podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/incomparablepodcast

[via Jeremy Keith of Huffduffer.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #050 – READALONG: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #050 – Jesse and Scott discuss The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James.

Talked about on today’s show:
An excerpt from the lecture: Masterpieces Of The Imaginative Mind (Lecture 6: H.G. Wells: We Are All Talking Animals) by Professor Eric S. Rabkin, James thought novels ‘must explore an individual’s psychology’ but H.G. Wells asserted novels ‘must explore the great social forces that shape all of us.’, The Teaching Company, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Blackstone Audio’s version, PaperbackSwap.com, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast show on The Invisible Man and More Invisible Men, LibriVox.org, LibriVox’s FREE version of The Turn Of The Screw, Stephanie Beacham, War Of The Worlds, The Time Machine, Donald E. Westlake, John Irving, James Lee Burke, Pat Conroy, literary fiction, ambiguity, deliberate ambiguity, the framing sequence, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, outlining the plot, country estates, England, governesses, orphans, corruption and contamination, ghosts, Christmas, Why is it called The Turn Of The Screw?, Is this a double ghost story?, if the governess is crazy doesn’t that make the story pointless? sexism, solitary decisions may not be wise, what happens to Miles? The Innocents (1961), sexuality, James called The Turn Of The Screw “a shameless potboiler”, adaptations and interpretations, The Turn Of The Screw (2009), The Others (2001), Marlon Brando’s prequel The Nightcomers (1971), Thomas Kuhn, incommensurable literary paradigms?, Margaret Atwood, literary Science Fiction, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, The Handmaid’s Tale, governess stories, tutors, teachers, surrogate parents, William Makepeace Thackeray‘s Vanity Fair, Johdi May, The Turn Of The Screw (1999), is the governess an unreliable narrator?, The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes, Mystery and Science Fiction are very closely aligned, tales of ratiocination, Edgar Allan Poe, The Turn Of The Screw in comics, Pocket Classics, Oscar Wilde, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: The Innocents, Blackadder II, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow as read by Martin Jarvis, RadioArchive.cc, The Turn Of The Screw BBC radio drama, Saturday Night Theatre.

The opening of The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James – Pocket Classics edition (ISBN: 0883017393):

Pocket Classics - The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James (ISBN: 0883017598)
The Turn Of The Screw - illustration by Lynd Ward
The Turn Of The Screw - illustration by Lynd Ward

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #047

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #047 – Jesse and Scott talk audiobooks, The Invention Of Lying (the perfect movie for audiobook fans), and hot blimp on zeppelin action.

Talked about on today’s show:
fantastic coffee, recent arrivals, Penguin Audio, Anita Blake, Laurell K. Hamilton, Bloody Bones, The Killing Dance, Burnt Offerings, narrator Kimberly Alexis, paranormal romance, Sookie Stackhouse, True Blood, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, horror, Full Cast Audio, Emmie And The Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell, Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel |READ OUR REVIEW|, the Matt Cruse series, SFFaudio Essential, Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel,Mainspring by Jay Lake |READ OUR REVIEW|, Blackstone Audio, Planet Of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin, the Hanish Cycle series, The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin, Avatar, Audible Frontiers, Book Of The Road, Tales Of Earth Sea by Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin |READ OUR REVIEW|, Harlan Ellison, Recorded Books, The Dark Design by Philip Jose Farmer, more airships, current listens, Game Change, text to audiobook techniques, Dennis Boutsikaris, Engines Of God by Jack McDevitt, new releases, The Eyes Of Darkness by Dean Koontz, Brilliance Audio, Heroes Of The Valley by Jonathan Stroud, the Bartimaeus Trilogy, fantasy, quest, Jonathan Stroud’s Heroes of the Valley: Thalia Kids’ Book Club, Matthew Cody, Tantor Media, Time Travelers Never Die by Jack McDevitt, SFSignal’s review of Time Travelers Never Die, Battlestar Galactica, “McDevitt is ooh-wow Science Fiction in the Arthur C. Clarke tradition,” Flatland: A Romance Of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott, math-fiction, the LibriVox edition of Flatland, narrator James Langton, did you get your free audiobook from Tantor Media?, Scott Brick, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Futurist by James P. Othmer, narrator William Dufris, Richard K. Morgan, narrator Simon Jones, Bill Murray, Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society, Zombieland, The Invention Of Lying is a romantic comedy that’s philosophical Science Fiction, Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Macmillan Vs. Amazon.com: ebook pricing dispute, John Scalzi’s Whatever post on the topic, Apple iPad, Amazon’s deletion of 1984, “bailouts for everyone!”, big evil corporations and the “tyranny of the bottom line”, Brilliance Audio, Killing Floor by Lee Child, one star reviews, the Cynical-C Blog, Daily Dose Of Ingersoll, You Can’t Please Everyone, Letter From Mark Twain To A Snake Oil Peddler, LibriVox: Extract From Captain Stormfield’s Visit To Heaven by Mark Twain, the merits and demerits of the iPad and the iPhone vs. the iPod Classic, Frederick Pohl’s The Way The Future Blogs, Pohl on Isaac Asimov |Part 1|Part 2|, the Moonies, Jerry Pournelle at Brigham Young University with Mormons and Scientologists, Life, The University & Everything 28, Margaret Atwood: History Denier, The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fredösphere, Orson Scott Card’s politics vs. his books, Apollo 11, Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16, Apollo 17, NASA’s Constellation Program, 10 NASA Inventions You Might Use Every Day, Wil Wheaton’s audiobooks are on Lulu.com, Just A Geek by Wil Wheaton |READ OUR REVIEW|, Memories Of The Futurecast, Julie’s Forgotten Classics podcast, Scott’s Pick Of The Week: Scenting The Dark And Other Stories by Mary Robinette Kowal, Subterranean Press, Ronald Rabbit Is A Dirty Old Man by Lawrence Block, epistolary novel, Cinderella Sims by Lawrence Block, Hard Case Crime, Jesse’s Pick Of The Week: Da Vinci’s Inquest, Intelligence, Castle, CSI is “six people standing around telling each other information they all already know,” Da Vinci’s Inquest does not use the pro forma police procedural TV show construction, Da Vinci’s Inquest is like The Wire but set in Vancouver, Acorn Video.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Spartan Youth Radio: Interview with Margaret Atwood

SFFaudio Online Audio

Spartan Youth RadioSpartan Youth Radio (a Northern Ontario high school radio station) has an interview with Margaret Atwood. Reporter Madeline Lemire talked to Atwood during her book tour for The Year Of The Flood. In the interview Atwood talks about her novel, moon landing conspiracy theories, biotechnology, religion, environmentalism, coffee, twitter and “the future of novels.”

I always thought Margaret Atwood’s position on ‘not being a Science Fiction writer’ had some merit. She’s never been all that interested in science. After listening to Atwood explain her position on the moon landings being fake (she thinks that they were) I have to agree she’s definitely not all that interested in science. I shake my head at your smug oleaginousness Margaret Atwood. You are a history denier. The moon landings were not fake. We did them, they were done.

Here’s the interview |MP3|

Our review of The Year Of The Flood |READ OUR REVIEW|!

Here’s a video featuring a multi-performer “dramatic reading” from The Year Of The Flood:

Aren’t you glad Atwood doesn’t narrate her own audiobooks?

[via the Digital Copyright Canada blog]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Year Of The Flood by Margaret Atwood

SFFaudio Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - The Year Of The Flood by Margaret AtwoodThe Year Of The Flood
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall
11 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 22, 2009
ISBN: 9780739383971
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Disaster / Environmentalism / Environmental Disaster / Ecology / Planetary Ecology / Religion / Genetic Engineering / Sex / Activism / Genetics /

The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year Of The Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

Margaret Atwood’s book The Year Of The Flood spans several years, before, after and during the waterless flood which is a plague that affects only humans. There are three readers, Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall. Throughout the eleven discs (14 hours), I enjoyed listening to the women, and began to dread the onset of the male reader. He was certainly professional. Was it his character, Adam One, a religious cult leader of God’s Gardeners? Was it the inevitable sermon he would read in a church-appropriate voice? Or was it the hymns, written by Atwood and set to “original” music that would have me engaging in positive procrastination in order to avoid finishing this audiobook.

The loveliest parts of the book take place from the point of view of Ren, a child in God’s Garden. The religion is a logical outcome for a near future on Earth following environmental disasters not too difficult to imagine. Technologies we toy with today lead to some A Clockwork Orange style vocabulary. Words such as “garboil” (a kind of petroleum made from trash) lend a frighteningly vital immersion into this eco-nightmare. Other wonderful vocabulary delights come through the genetic alterations of food and creature such as soydines and bugs with little smiley faces engineered thereon so thoughts of squishing them would be repugnant. The Gardeners have a host of saints to celebrate, showing Atwood’s ability to relate some important environmentalists and peaceniks to her tale including Saint Rachel Carson, Saint David Suzuki and Saint Mahatma Gandhi.

The main female characters, Ren and Toby, both fully developed, are compelling. Throughout the story, one is interested in them as human beings, in their suffering, in their losses, in their desires. Despite the time shifts, the readers manage to keep the characters believable; one is lost in the story (as one should be!) until the final disc. Maybe Atwood can’t write optimistic endings. With all the violence, sadistic sex and death in the world of the Gardeners who are staunch vegetarians who don’t even kill the insects that invade their gardens; with spray guns, layabout body parts and a world of human-pig hybrids conducting funerals, the last disc felt wrong. Ren’s character becomes childish. Toby becomes a murderous cold-blooded killer and then suddenly has another personality shift. The only character to remain true is the one-dimensional ADAM ONE. I was strung along on the brilliant imagination, left flat on story line, and confused in the end by the characters I thought I liked.

Am I waiting for that third expected book in a TRILOGY featuring some of these characters? My interest in Atwood’s “exfernal” world is now lukewarm.

Posted by Elaine Willis