Review of Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos

SFFaudio Review

Lines of Departure by Marko KloosLines of Departure
By Marko Kloos, read by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 28 January 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 discs; 10 hours

Themes: / military sf / basic training / overpopulated earth / battle armor combat / aliens / marriage / mutiny / mathematics /

Publisher summary:

In the sequel to Terms of Enlistment, a desperate battle for interstellar supremacy pits man against man and humanity against aliens in an epic tale of vicious combat and political deception.

Vicious interstellar conflict with an indestructible alien species. Bloody civil war over the last habitable zones of the cosmos. Political unrest, militaristic police forces, dire threats to the solar system…

Humanity is on the ropes, and after years of fighting a two-front war with losing odds, so is Commonwealth Defense Corps officer Andrew Grayson. He dreams of dropping out of the service one day, alongside his pilot girlfriend, but as warfare consumes entire planets and conditions on Earth deteriorate, he wonders if there will be anywhere left for them to go.

After surviving a disastrous spaceborne assault, Grayson is reassigned to a ship bound for a distant colony—and packed with malcontents and troublemakers. His most dangerous battle has just begun.

In Lines of Departure, Marko Kloos picks up where Terms of Enlistment left off. Earth is overpopulated, various terrestrial governments are still warring with one another in space as people colonize the stars, and there’s a new nearly indestructible alien species that appears determined to exterminate mankind.

The combat scenes are crisp and the action flows at a nice clip. For the majority of the narrative, we tag along with Andrew Grayson as he along with his fellow NAC troopers battle the Lanky, the new aliens on the block. Again we are plunged into a universe where the Chinese, Russians, and North American Commonwealth manage to still fight one another in space as they simultaneously battle the eighty-foot tall Lanky.

Kloos writes a nice sequel, but unlike many others, I didn’t feel that Lines of Departure was as strong as Terms of Enlistment. Still, this is a good Military SF book and worth your time. I like the military hardware, interactions between troops and civilians, and the realistic paradoxical bureaucracy that apparently still plagues humanity’s future.

My favorite scene? Andrew Grayson having breakfast with his mother in a small Vermont diner. I like Military SF combat, and Kloos writes good combat scenes. But the breakfast is something special. Character development happens seamlessly, dialogue feels effortless and natural, and there is some genuine emotional growth occurring. I could almost taste the food, smell the coffee, and feel the heft of the menu and napkins.

The ending is good, maybe not surprising, but it’s true to the story and well written. Nice Job, Mr. Kloos. Thank you for not overreaching. You gave me what the story needed, and you resisted the temptation of adding too many whirly-bangs.

Luke Daniels narrates the audiobook, and turns in another outstanding reading.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. If you’ve read Terms of Enlistment, you’ll want to give this a go.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

The SFFaudio Podcast #227 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Dreams In The Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #227 – The Dreams In The Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Julie Hoverson. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 42 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Hoverson, Mirko Stauch, and John Feaster.

Talked about on today’s show:
1933, a pretty terrible Lovecraft story, which story?, science fiction vs. horror, crappy cheesy, Julie’s audio drama adaptation of The Dreams In The Witch House, bad ending vs. interesting journey, nobody wants August Derleth to be right, Mirko likes it, a magnificent failure?, an unusual narrative, standard witch story #4, The Size Of The Universe by Willem de Sitter, is the Dark Man made out of dark matter?, the first fanfic Mary Sue writer, Hypnos, witches, magic, what does a being from beyond space need with baby guts, why is Nyarlathotep crusing the streets with a dude in his pajamas?, Prohibition, a supervillain squad, a nerve specialist, Herbert West, Re-Animator, Douglas Adams, space is really really really big, the total perspective vortex, Lovecraft humour, Pickman’s Model, Walter Gilman is blind to the danger, the Masters Of Horror adaptation, The Whisperer In Darkness, The Colour Out Of Space, a homesteading concept, Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets, The Shadow Out of Tim, the science fiction aspect, a scary fascination, the sunburn, the blown out ear drums, Azathoth, the Pythagorean view, “everything is made of numbers”, mathematics, Galen, is Keziah Mason dead?, is Walter Gilman doomed from the start?, Brown Jenkin looks like Chuck E. Cheese, what is Brown Jenkin?, witches familiars, Blackadder, “bloody milk!”, bubbles -> Beelzebubbles, modern witches, “the witch stole my penis”, mob mentality, Caligula, proscription, Crassus, the Polish landlord and tenants, a drunken loom-mender?, the looming evil, the cross prayer, the cross giver, the cross as a weapon, Walpurgis Night, the skeleton is quantum physics, Halloween, the maypole, the Brocken, pagan rituals, prank gardening, tree stealing, mascot kidnapping, “excessively religious”, Elwood, The Thing On The Doorstep is internally logical, Tales From The Crypt, Lovecraft’s racism, The Haunter Of The Dark, presenting light, superstition, Mount Everest, icky areas, Lovecraft’s characters aren’t into self-preservation, 1960s, addiction, psychedelics, helmet refusers, “outspokenly Wiccan”, The Call Of Cthulhu RPG, 20 sided die, weird angles, 4 sided die, Julie’s die scar, sharp Doritos, caltrops, “grimoire”, sleeping on Elwood’s couch, a cohesive awesome, the endings, the star wanderings, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, Polaris, an obsession with evil stars, astral projection, the movement of the stars, Lovecraft’s astronomic efforts, The Festival, a weird plot thread, Lovecraft as an untethered balloon, there’s a lot of puppy dog in H.P. Lovecraft, “the poky little Lovecraft”, Montreal, a historical-building-o-phile, Bingo The Birthday Clown, Star Crunch (a Lovecraftian sponsor), “a field of red jelly with bones floating in it”, hot dog water, ultimately everyone is consumed, Tunus the Unstoppable, a soap opera with only three people, an anthropomorphic supercomputer, Krusty the Klown, a fascinating unpleasant series, The Lovecraft Five, Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family, He, The Picture In The House, H. Rider Haggard’s She done as a comedy, Brown Monkey’s The Dreams In The Witch House, Uncle George’s House Party, 19 Nocturne Boulevard, The Hole Behind Midnight by Clinton Boomer, Broken Eye Books’s Kickstarter, a professional audio novel, a giant evil naked clown, the HPLHS movie adaptation of The Whisperer In Darkness, the changes, Mr. Jim Moon’s review of The Whisperer In Darkness, it’s fucking terrifying, Julie’s reading, Julie loves to play crazy old people, a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft, “fun, surprising, and terrifying”, The Creeping Unknown, more suspense and less action, Charles Fort (played by Andrew Leman), Septimius Felton by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Doctor Portsoaken”, “Robert Hagburn”, Charles Dickens, Curse Of The Crimson Altar, Die, Monster, Die!, The Curse, Thriller, Pigeons From Hell, The Resurrected, Bleeders (aka Hemoglobin), a micro-budget with Rutger Hauer.

Classics Illustrated - Dreams In The Witch-House - illustration by Pete Von Sholly

The Dreams In The Witch House - Room For Rent

Dreams In The Witch-House - illustrated by Ben Templesmith

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of “Turjan of Miir” by Jack Vance

SFFaudio Review

We forgot to mention that this short review is part of the 7th Anniversary SFFaudio Reviewapalooza! Those responsible have been sacked.

Science Fantasy Audiobook - The Dying Earth by Jack Vance“Turjan of Miir”
Contained in The Dying Earth
By Jack Vance; Read by Arthur Morey
42 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fantasy / Spells / Mathematics / Artificial Life /

“Turjan of Miir” is the first story in Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth. It’s a densely rich story – when my mind wandered, I had to stop and back up the audio because each and every word is important and very much worth hearing. And a pleasure to hear, too – kudos to Arthur Morey for the fine narration.

The story opens with Turjan trying to feed his latest creation.

Turjan sat in his workroom, legs sprawled out from the stool, back against and elbows on the bench. Across the room was a cage. Into this, Turjan gazed with rueful vexation. The creature in the cage returned the gaze with emotions beyond conjecture. It was a thing to arouse pity.

The creature won’t eat, though, and dies in front of him. Out of frustration (for he’s attempted to create life many times before), he decides to visit an otherworld where a man (or ex-man) named Pandalume will be able to help him stabilize the pattern he needs to successfully make life.

Vance is luxurious with detail. In very little space, he tells us how Turjan can only carry four spells at a time, so for the trip to the otherworld he takes “three spells of general application”. The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Fandale’s Mantle of Stealth, and the Spell of the Slow Hour. It’s marvelous. There are many descriptive gems here.

I immediately see how The Dying Earth spawned an RPG, and I can also see that Wolfe, Zelazny, and Gaiman were all influenced by Vance.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson

SFFaudio Review

Yet another story in SFFaudio’s 7th Anniversary Carnival of Characters!

Science Fiction Audiobook - Melancholy Elephants by Spider RobinsonMelancholy Elephants
By Spider Robinson; Read by Spider Robinson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 34 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Spider on the Web
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Art / Copyright / Human Mind / Mathematics /

The moment I realized that copyright was at the center of the story, I thought: Jesse would love this. I’m fairly certain he’s read it, though. There can’t be a lot of fiction where copyright plays a part, and besides; Spider Robinson is one of his favorites.

A law to extend copyright is proposed, and Dorothy, an artist, visits a Senator in future Washington to persuade him to vote against. The story is not dry exposition about law. It’s about art, the human mind, mathematics, and the universe. A lot to pack into 34 minutes, for certain, and it did leave me feeling melancholy, like the elephants.

It’s important to note that this story won a Hugo Award in 1983, long before copyright ran headlong into the digital age. “Melancholy Elephants” stands beside other great science fiction stories that so clearly saw the future coming.

The story was read by Spider Robinson as part of his Spider on the Web podcast.

Here’s the podcast feed: http://www.spiderrobinson.com/iTunes_feed.xml

And |HERE| is a direct link to the episode with “Melanchoy Elephants”.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s another LibriVox short story collection for you. As usual there are a few repeats sprinkled among the first time recorded tales. Of those latter tales I’ve made a few notes:

Narrator Bellona Times has a nice setup and a decent voice for Breakaway. This tale is Science Fiction for astronauts. An utterly unselfconscious telling of the first Earth to Moon mission – written and published more than a dozen years before it actually happened.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s satire Some Words With A Mummy an amateur Egyptologist gets his hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. He decides to unwrap it, with startling results. This isn’t Poe’s greatest story, it seems to be very much of its era, but because it is still Poe it is still very good. Narrated by the ever capable Gregg Margarite.

Mex was written by what appears to be a Laurence M. Jannifer (under a pseudonym). It is hard to follow as narrator Daniele races through the standard LibriVox introduction then does some very strange things to what should be Mexican accented English.

I hadn’t even heard of Walt Sheldon prior to the two tales released in this collection. First up, Two Plus Two Makes Crazy has a great title! It depicts a Logan’s Run-like society as seen from the tech department. Fun.

A wacky physics professor stars in the other Sheldon tale: This Is Klon Calling. This one is a mite predictable, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Both Sheldon tales are read by the ever talented Gregg Margarite.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 018
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-018.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LibriVox - Belly Laugh by Randall GarrettBelly Laugh
By Randall Garrett; Read by glenford2000
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
You hear a lot of talk these days about secret weapons. If it’s not a new wrinkle in nuclear fission, it’s a gun to shoot around corners and down winding staircases. Or maybe a nice new strain of bacteria guaranteed to give you radio-active dandruff. Our own suggestion is to pipe a few of our television commercials into Russia and bore the enemy to death.

Breakaway by Stanley GimbleBreakaway
By Stanley Gimble; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
She surely got her wish … but there was some question about getting what she wanted. From Astounding Science Fiction December 1955.

LibriVox - Cully by Jack EganCully
By Jack Egan; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
By all the laws of nature, he should have been dead. But if he were alive … then there was something he had to find. From Amazing Stories, January 1963.

LIBRIVOX Science Fiction - Earthmen Bearing Gifts by Frederic BrownEarthmen Bearing Gifts
By Fredric Brown; Read by Bookman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
“Mars had gifts to offer and Earth had much in return—if delivery could be arranged!” First published in the June 1960 issue of Galaxy magazine.

Fantastic Universe January 1957Mex
By Laurence M. Janifer; Read by Daniele
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Talented William Logan [Laurence M. Janifer], though he hails from Dodger territory, tells a quiet story from down near the Mexican border, where men are very close to ancestral memories and to the things which dwell in the shadows. Logan is one of the more interesting of the newer writers. From Fantastic Universe January 1957.

LibriVox - The Putnam Tradition by Sonya DormanThe Putnam Tradition
By Sonya Dorman Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Through generations the power has descended, now weaker, now stronger. And which way did the power run in the four-year-old in the garden, playing with a pie plate? From Amazing Stories January 1963.

LibriVox - Some Words With A Mummy by Edgar Allan PoeSome Words With A Mummy
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Some amateur Egyptologists get their hands on an ancient Egyptian mummy. They decide to unwrap it, with startling results. First published in the April 1845 issue of American Review: A Whig Journal.

Summit by Mack ReynoldsSummit
By Mack Reynolds; Read by M.White
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Almost anything, if it goes on long enough, can be reduced to, first a Routine, and then, to a Tradition. And at the point it is, obviously, Necessary. First published in Astounding Science Fiction’s February, 1960 issue.

Fantastic Universe August - September 1953This Is Klon Calling
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
One sure way to live dangerously is to become a practical joker. Should you have any doubts about it you might ask Professor Dane. From the Aug-Sept 1953 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Fantastic Universe March 1954Two Plus Two Makes Crazy
By Walt Sheldon; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 3, 2009
Walt Sheldon is bitter-bright in this imaginative short satire of Man’s sell-out by a group of staunch believers in the infallibility of numbers. From Fantastic Universe March, 1954.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Caedmon’s Science Fiction Soundbook

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Caedmon Science Fiction SoundbookScience Fiction Soundbook
By Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Robert A. Heinlein
Read By Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner
4 hours – 4 Cassettes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Caedmon
Published: 1977
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mars / Edgar Allan Poe / Computers / Mathematics / Sociology / Space Travel /

This out-of-print Caedmon set was a wonderful find (thanks, Esther!) because it contains two cassettes (four stories) that are amongst the earliest science fiction audio I ever heard. The stories are “The Green Hills of Earth” and “Gentlemen, Be Seated” by Robert A. Heinlein, and “There Come Soft Rains” and “Usher II” by Ray Bradbury, all read by Leonard Nimoy. Also included here is “The Psychohistorians” by Isaac Asimov and “Mimsy Are the Borogroves” by Henry Kuttner, both read by William Shatner. The audio was originally published in 1977.

I found Leonard Nimoy’s readings to be excellent. In Bradbury’s “Usher II”, he delivers a passionate speech about the evils of book burning with perfection. In “Gentlemen, Be Seated” and “The Green Hills of Earth” he portrays working class spacemen with complete success.

William Shatner, though, was disappointing. I’ve heard him read some Star Trek titles, and felt his delivery was pretty good, but here, on both cassettes, he reads as if he needs to be across town in fifteen minutes. He zips through the text, sometimes fast enough to affect my comprehension.

The stories are all bona-fide 5-star classics:

“There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury, read by Leonard Nimoy
This famous story is about a house. That’s it, just a house. An automatic, programmed house that keeps running and running… but where are its inhabitants? Bradbury manages to tell a very human tale without any actual people.

“Usher II” by Ray Bradbury, read by Leonard Nimoy
A fantastic story, passionately read, about a man who builds Poe’s House of Usher on Mars. Because of the social climate on Earth, it would be illegal to build such a fantastic structure, because stories of fantasy are simply no longer allowed. If you agree with that policy, this fellow would be happy to show you around, and he does get that opportunity. As I mentioned earlier, a highlight is a speech on censorship that was an obvious precursor to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

“The Psychohistorians” by Isaac Asimov, read by William Shatner
This is the first novelette in the first book of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. In it, you meet Hari Seldon and Gaal Dornick in an introduction to some of the key elements of the Foundation story, including the Empire in decline and the mathematics of psychohistory. However, I did have difficulty get into Shatner’s narration.

“The Green Hills of Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Leonard Nimoy
Rhysling is a Spacer who lost his eyesight in a reactor pile accident. Now, he’s a famous bard, and this is his story. The story is an excellent portrayal of what spaceflight might be like from the working stiff’s point of view, once flight becomes common. At least from the perspective of a science fiction writer in 1948. No NASA engineers here.

“Gentlemen, Be Seated” by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Leonard Nimoy
This story is similar to “Green Hills” in that the characters are working class spacemen. One agrees to take a reporter through some new buildings on the moon (yes, he does get overtime pay for it), but an accident occurs during the tour. Another story from the late 1940’s, which is the part of Heinlein’s long career that I enjoy most.

“Mimsy Were the Borogroves” by Henry Kuttner, read by William Shatner
This story fared better under Shatner’s cadence than did “The Psychohistorians”. I was captured by it within 5 minutes or so of concentrated listening, and Kuttner’s story held my attention even when Shatner didn’t. The story involves some toys that were sent back in time by a far-future scientist with too much time on his hands. The toys are found by some kids, who play with them, and are changed by them. The story plays with the ideas of how people think – how kids think, how adults think, and how it could possibly be different. I found it a well-written and entertaining exploration of these ideas. Great science fiction.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson