New Release – Mr. Spaceship by Philip K. Dick, read by Rudnicki

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals 

Mr SpaceshipMr. Spaceship
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
72 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2008

The war continues as a stalemate. The Yucconae, an alien race, are living organisms that can traverse outer space. The Earth’s drone rockets do not have a chance against the flexibility of a living organisms.

Working in a military research facility, Kramer comes up with a system of installing a man’s brain as the central processor of a rocket. Since a pilot could not withstand the pressures of deep space flight, a willing sacrifice will need to be made. Kramer’s ex-wife, Dolores, remembers an old professor, Professor Thomas, that she and Kramer had attended in college. Professor Thomas is near the end of his lifespan. His mind is still agile, and it is agreed that it is his mind that will go into the rocket. The plan is for the brain to be alive but not conscious inside the rocket.

But things don’t go as they should as some last minute modification allows Professor Thomas to return to consciousness and fully control the ship. And it’s not in the Professor’s plans to be a pawn to the Earth’s military. 

Available at Audible and iTunes.

 Posted by The Time Traveler of the Time Traveler Show

Review of Halo: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction audiobook - Halo Contact HarvestHalo: Contact Harvest
By Joseph Staten; Read by Holter Graham and Jen Taylor
10 CDs – 11 hrs [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781427202499
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military / Tactics / Gaming / Aliens /

This is how it began… It is the year 2524. Harvest is a peaceful, prosperous farming colony on the very edge of human-controlled space. But we have trespassed on holy ground–strayed into the path of an aggressive alien empire known as the Covenant. What begins as a chance encounter between an alien privateer and a human freighter catapults mankind into a struggle for its very existence. But humanity is also locked in a bitter civil war known as the Insurrection. So the survival of Harvest’s citizens falls to a squad of battle-weary UNSC Marines and their inexperienced colonial militia trainees.In this unlikely group of heroes, one stands above the rest…a young Marine staff sergeant named Avery Johnson.

Before I move into this review, I need to say a couple of things. One, I am not a fan of the Military SF sub-genre. I don’t hate it, but a few weapon descriptions go a long way for me. Two, I am not a gamer, though the first time I saw Halo 3 on the Xbox 360, it made me want to sell my Wii.

Now that you know that I can say that Halo: Contact Harvest was almost exactly what I expected it to be. There is a whole lot of automatic weapons fire by a whole lot of soldiers who say things like “look sharp!”, “give me some cover!”, and “lock and load!”. There is plenty of futuristic weaponry discussed and model numbers of vehicles tossed about. If that’s the kind of thing you enjoy, here it is!

My impression now, having played a bit of Halo 3 at a friend’s house and having heard this book, is that story plays a large role in the game. Like good writers, the game makers (the author, Joseph Staten, is one of that team) imagined and wrote a great deal, then spawned the game from that, leaving most of the story untold, because, let’s face it, the gamers want to blow things up, not watch a movie. Yet the story does make the game much more interesting and gives it a surprising (to me) depth. This novel is a way to tell some of the backstory to those interested, and since the hardcover spent a few weeks on the bestseller list, there is obviously plenty of interest.

In the first Halo game, humans are already at war with aliens that are called “The Covenant”. This novel is a prequel to that game, and it describes the start of the conflict between The Covenant and humans. The story is told from two points of view – the humans (led by Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson), and the aliens. The humans have claimed a world called Harvest as their own, but the aliens object because the surface is covered with artifacts made by the “Forerunners”, an extinct race that the aliens worship. Bullets fly. But to stop there is to not give the story credit, because there are some good things in there, including a revelation that the aliens want to suppress because their very beliefs are threatened.

Overall, this is a good audiobook, because the main narrator (Holter Graham) is excellent, and the writing isn’t bad either. The emphasis on military jargon is something that turns me off, but that’s just me. I suspect that military SF fans will like this audiobook a great deal, and I’m pleased to have heard it myself, if only to learn of story’s significant place in the gaming market.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold

SFFaudio Review

Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster BujoldDiplomatic Immunity
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Grover Gardner
9 CDs – 11 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781433213144
Themes: / Science fiction / Space Opera / Military / Diplomacy / Romance / Genetic Engineering / Intrigue /

Blackstone Audio has been publishing the entire Vorkosigan series read by Grover Gardner. There are several volumes out, and we’ve reviewed a couple of them (The Vor Game and Mirror Dance) before this one. I have little to add to the positive assessment of Gardner’s talent that the other reviews of this series have pointed out; I’ll just say that I enjoy his narration of these books very much. He’s got a dry tone that fits Miles Vorkosigan perfectly. A very pleasant listen.

In this particular volume, Miles is called into diplomatic action against the Quaddies, a genetically engineered race that we were introduced to in the novel Falling Free. In that novel, we learn that quaddies are genetically altered humans that have four arms and no legs which is an advantage if you live and work in zero gravity. The only problem? They were treated as slaves by the company that made them, and the novel is largely about their rebellion.

Diplomatic Immunity takes place 300 years after that one, and much has changed, though distrust for “downsiders” remains. Vorkosigan is called in when some citizens are captured and held by the Quaddies at their Graf Station. He meets with the representatives of the Quaddie government, hears their side of the story, then proceeds to uncover the truth while preventing a war.

Miles Vorkosigan is a fine character. He’s got flaws (and plenty of them) yet always manages to succeed despite them. His personality is entertaining, and the plot of this novel, in which Miles is called upon as both diplomat and detective, is just plain fun. Whenever I listen to one of these, I imagine how good a television series this would make. These novels are not meant to be masterpieces of hard science fiction – they are meant to be enjoyed, and enjoy them I do. I can’t wait to hear the next one, though I feel that listening to them in the original print publication order would add even more to the experience, the main reason being that the Miles I hear in this novel is not the same Miles I heard in The Vor Game, I expect due to events in the novels in-between.

Lois McMaster’s Vorkosigan novels have an interesting history on audio. A company named The Reader’s Chair originally came out with enjoyable unabridged versions read in tag team fashion by Michael Hanson and Carol Cowan. Unfortunately, the company didn’t survive. One of the first reviews I wrote when I got into reviewing audio was the Reader’s Chair audio version Falling Free, the Nebula Award winning novel that I spoke of earlier in the review. Click here to see it.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold

SFFaudio Review

Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster BujoldMirror Dance
By Lois McMaster Bujold; Read by Grover Gardner
15 CDs – about 18 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433205699
Themes: / Science fiction / Space travel / Cloning / Military /

Mirror Dance may be many things, but it is primarily the story of a clone named Mark Vorkosigan and his struggle to discover his own identity. To find himself, he must come to grips with his tortured upbringing, his harrowing training to become a spy and assassin, and the long shadow of the man he was cloned from — a diminutive, homely, yet fiercely inspiring man named Miles Vorkosigan. In the process, he plans a daring infiltration that devolves into pitched battle on an enemy planet, all laid out with action, tactical clarity, and emotional impact that puts some so-called “military SF” I’ve heard to cowering shame. But that’s not all for Mark. He must also find his way through courtly intrigue, survive an uneasy adoption by Miles’s parents, perform some deft detective work, haltingly begin an unlikely little romance, and endure psychologically horrific torture.

Grover Gardner provides the voice that leads us on this tortuous journey. Giving distinct personalities to a pair of genetically identical protagonists is a tall order, yet between Bujold’s words and Gardner’s nuanced performance, the two lead characters remain effortlessly distinct. What’s more, the secondary characters are portrayed with the same care. It is hard to imagine a better reading of this material.

But is there really any doubt about the outcome of these crises? The liner notes are as comforting as a quick look at the final chapter: This book is part of a larger series with the same characters. I read that to mean there would be little chance the author would kill off a vital cash cow.

I know, I know, the demands of the publishing industry have made series works the lifeblood of genre fiction. I’m sure they bring in lots of new SF readers and maybe even some good books here and there, but what do we sacrifice in the process? In this book, it is any palpable sense of suspense or purposeful haste in the proceedings. In general, I think it is risky, new ideas that challenge and expand our concept of what SF and fiction can do. Are the larger sales numbers really worth the cost?

That doesn’t mean this book is a waste of time. The characters are well explored, the situations are thought provoking, and the tone ranges from disarmingly tender to chillingly perverted. You will care about Miles, Mark, their family, and their friends. You will hate their enemies. But at the same time, the sometimes languid pacing and the foreknowledge of the outcome will not make listening to this book an urgent necessity. Bujold can think, she can plot, and she can definitely write. But this book will leave you wishing she’d used all that talent to write something a little bolder.

Posted by Kurt Dietz

Baen Audiobooks FREE

Online Audio

Baen BooksBaen Books has FREE audiobooks! I knew that several of Baen’s hardcover first editions over the last few years had been coming with BONUS CD-ROMS full of eBooks. And I thought that was pretty cool, and clever too, but it was a big surprise to me to learn that they have often also included MP3 audiobook readings (complete novels and short stories). Even cooler, one thoughtful collector has archived the CDs on his/her website! And here are links to each…


Hell's Faire by John RingoHell’s Faire
By John Ringo; Read by ????
21 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
With the defenses of the Southern Appalachians sundered, the only thing standing between the ravening Posleen hordes and the soft interior of the Cumberland Plateau are the veterans of the 555th Mobile Infantry. Dropped into Rabun Pass, with a couple of million Posleen behind them and fourteen million to the front, the only question is which will run out first: power, bullets or bodies. But they have a hole card: far to the north the shattered SheVa Nine, nicknamed “Bun-Bun,” is undergoing a facelift. Rising from its smoking ashes is a new weapon of war, armed with the most advanced weaponry Terra has ever produced, capable of facing both the Posleen hordes and their redoubtable space-cruisers. Capable of dealing out Hell as only SheVa Nine can. But when push comes to vaporization, if Mike O’Neal and the other members of the 555th are going to survive, it will come down to how much Posleen butt Bun-Bun can kick. Prepare to eat antimatter, Posleen-boy.

The Far Side Of The Stars by David DrakeThe Far Side Of The Stars
By David Drake; Read by ????
35 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
While the Republic of Cinnabar is at peace with the Alliance, warriors like Lt. Daniel Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy must find other work—like escorting a pair of wealthy nobles on an expedition to the back of beyond! The Princess Cecile, the corvette in which they carved their reputations in letters of fire, has been sold as a private yacht, but she still has her guns, her missiles, and her veteran crew. Daniel and Adele will need all of those things as they face winged dragons, an Alliance auxiliary cruiser, jealous lovers, and a mysterious oracle which really does foresee the future. That won’t be enough, though, when they penetrate a secret Alliance base and find a hostile fleet ready for a war that will sweep Cinnabar out of a strategically crucial arm of the galaxy. Preventing that will involve skill, courage, and more luck than a sane man could even pray for; and it will require a space battle on a scale that a tiny corvette like the Princess Cecile has no business being involved in. But she’ll be in the middle of it anyway, because Daniel, Adele, and their Cinnabar crew would never turn their backs on a fight!

There Will Be Dragons by John RingoThere Will Be Dragons
By John Ringo; Read by ????
45 MP3 Files – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
n the future there is no want, no war, no disease nor ill-timed death. The world is a paradise-and then, in a moment, it ends. The council that controls the Net falls out and goes to war. Everywhere people who have never known a moment of want or pain are left wondering how to survive. But scattered across the face of the earth are communities which have returned to the natural life of soil and small farm. In the village of Raven’s Mill, Edmund Talbot, master smith and unassuming historian, finds that all the problems of the world are falling in his lap. Refugees are flooding in, bandits are roaming the woods, and his former lover and his only daughter struggle through the Fallen landscape. Enemies, new and old, gather like jackals around a wounded lion. But what the jackals do not know is that while old he may be, this lion is far from death. And hidden in the past is a mystery that has waited until this time to be revealed.

Short Stories:

A Ship Named Francis by John Ringo And Victor MitchellA Ship Named Francis
By John Ringo and Victor Mitchell; Read by ????
Publisher: Baen
Published: 2003
Sean Tyler, a corpsman in the Royal Manticoran Navy, thought that a stint as a loaner in the explosively-growing Grayson Navy would boost his career. So, when he heard there was a slot vacant on board the cruiser Francis Mueller, he volunteered. Unfortunately for Corpsman Tyler, no one told him that almost everybody on board the Francis — from the clueless captain to the psychotic XO and the panicky chaplain — had been sent there because no one else in the entire Grayson Navy wants them.

Let’s Go to Prague
By John Ringo; Read by ????
Publisher: Baen
A pair of Manticoran Marines discover that a holiday can be even more fun if it involves spoiling StateSec’s day.