Review of The Green Hills of Earth and Gentlemen, Be Seated by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. HeinleinThe Green Hills of Earth and Gentlemen, Be Seated
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Leonard Nimoy
1 Cassette – 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Caedmon
Published: 1979
ISBN: None
Themes: / Science Fiction / Minstrel / Space Travel / The Moon /

This is one of my most treasured recordings. Until I found it on eBay a couple of years back, my only copy of it was a worn cassette that I taped from my local library’s copy when I was a kid. That cassette must have been played a hundred times. When Jesse noticed it on eBay one day, he let me know and I snatched it. I would have paid any price.

It’s likely that the recording’s worth is that its sounds evoke pleasant memories of my childhood. But it’s not only that. This is an excellent reading by an actor I admire (Leonard Nimoy) of the work of this legendary author. So it’s well worth finding yourself if you can get it.

The first story is “The Green Hills of Earth”, a story of a man named Riesling, who worked among the atomic piles on space freighters until an accident left him sightless. From then on, he became a minstrel, writing and performing the songs of the trade.

Second is “Gentlemen, Be Seated”, which is about a reporter who is allowed guided access to some of the tunnels being built on the Moon.
He’s escorted by a construction worker, who he’s lucky to have with him when things go awry.

To this day, these stories are still Robert A. Heinlein to me. These are from the early phase of his career, published in 1947 and 1948, respectively. Of Heinlein, I enjoy these stories and his others from the same period best of all his work.

What I haven’t got to look at all these years is the very nice Kelly Freas cover. Though it doesn’t really have anything specific to do with the stories (there isn’t a gun to be found in either of them) it’s still very nice.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Tales From The Crypt

SFFaudio Review

Tales from the CryptTales From The Crypt
Performed by Tim Curry, Gina Gershon, Luke Perry, Oliver Platt, John Ritter, Campbell Scott and others
4 CDs – Aprox 3 hrs. [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Highbridge Audio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 1565116747
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Crime / Murder / Humor / Undead / Music / Zombies /

Produced by the now defunct Sci-Fi Channel’s Seeing Ear Theatre, these seven audio plays are based on EC comicbook stories from the 1950s, skillfully updated and masterfully produced its one of the best anthology audio drama series of the last 25 years! Unfortunately, only seven of the eight episodes actually produced are included. And that is the biggest disappointment with this collection. The actors are awesome, the sound effects and music fill the audio landscape without drowning out their performances – but all this would be nothing without good writing, and again we’ve lucked-out. All seven tales are a whole lot of fun. Each episode is bookended by the Cryptkeeper’s introduction and comments on the story. The Cryptkeeper is voiced by John Kassir, the same actor as in the television series. This undead host’s obsession with horror is only exceeded with his obsession with frightfully bad puns. It is really good stuff boys and ghouls!

Island of Death
A dot-com millionaire with a penchant for movie trivia crash lands on an isolated tropical island and becomes embroiled in a twisted cross between a reality television show and Odysseus’ encounter with the sea-nymph Kalypso. Luke Perry (Jeremiah) is teamed with Gina Gershon (Bound) for the least successful tale in this collection. Gershon and Perry are great, but the action is a might hard to follow.

A Little Stranger
They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but did they really mean vampires and werewolves? Set in 1968, this is the sole episode without a major Hollywood star in the lead. Randy Maggiore and Lisa Nichole star, and make the horrific crossbreed of terror and comedy.

Tight Grip
Told from a truly bizarre perspective, this is a tale of a young concert violinist is boxed in by a terrible secret stars Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Original and really scary.

By the Fright of the Silvery Moon
A modern day sheriff in New Mexico faces deadly perils, irate environmentalists and angry ranchers. John Ritter (Three’s Company) stars as the sheriff.

The longest tale in the collection. An immigration lawyer who has stolen his client’s money retires to mysterious Haiti. What he finds there may just be enough to overcome a powerful zombie curse. Oliver Platt (Funny Bones) stars. An immersive and fascinating tale of horrific Caribbean curse that makes you crave the sweetmeats.

Carrion Death
A truly excellent “horrality” tale. A bookish schoolteacher – disgusted with his inept students – goes on a crime spree and lands himself in prison. When he escapes from custody into the desert the only thing that can stop him are the talking ants. Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) seems to revel in his character’s clear insanity.

Fare Tonight, Followed by Increasing Clottiness!
A vampire hunter takes cab ride to bloody peril during a citywide vampire outbreak. An ingenious pairing of a modern day Van Helsing and an East Indian taxi driver. Keith David (The Chronicles Of Riddick), is awesome in this one, and not just for his iconic maniacal laughter. Aasif Mandvi (Spider-Man 2) is also excellent, playing his meek humor close to the vest!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Volitar: Murder, Mystery, Mayhem Music

Volitar: Murder, Mystery, Mayhem
Music by Andrew Engstrom; Dramatic scenes performed by a full cast
1 Music CD with dramatized connecting scenes – 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: 2002
UPC: 803680208120
Themes: / Music / Science Fiction / Experimental / Mystery / Suspended Animation / Aliens /

“Well according to the Navi-computer we’re right on target Mr. Braiden. We should be landing on Volitar in oh…. a quick year and a half.”

The year is 2117. Mining moon owner Trevor Braiden, along with planetary geologist Dr. Desiree Lear, return to Volitar in search of a new mining site. Just hours after their arrival a bomb blast rips through the mining compound leaving Trevor bewildered from the loss of his best friend. Someone is trying to him, but why?

Tracks included:
1. Blast-off
2. Deep Freeze
3. Soul Searching
4. Landing
5. Gateway Theatre
6. Faces
7. The Secret
8. Just One Look
9. Machine Shop
10. Nightmare
11. Laser Research
12. The Fire of Section 17
13. Dead
14. Mourning
15. Desiree For Dessert
16. Free

Volitar’s creator, Andrew Engstrom, wrote this concept album as a hybrid between science fiction audio drama and straight rock music CD. He personally wrote and played multiple instruments in all of the songs, sang in others, co-wrote the dramatic storyline and even performed the lead character’s role. I’m of two minds on this one, I liked the idea, though I admit to not being a devotee of the concept album, but I didn’t come away from it thoroughly convinced. The dramatic elements are probably most to blame here. Unfortunately Engstrom came up with a milieu and some characters but the story isn’t quite finished. What little of it I could follow didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and each of the eight dramatic scenes that it is composed of seemed to be written only as introduction to the following song. One example of this is where our characters go into a seedy bar, where an alien rock group is just taking the stage. Before the band starts to play one of the characters asks another to dance. – Cue the music track. – After that song finishes, they tell each other how much they enjoyed the dance they just had and ask to dance again…

While I really and truly appreciated the enthusiasm and the follow through in production of the CD and fit and finish of the packaging, the content itself left me bewildered. The voice acting was only fair and for some scenes the actors sounded like they were simply reading their lines straight off the page. And though the album was recorded between 1998 and 2002, the music felt very 1985, with lots of heavy metal riffs and indecipherable or inaudible lyrics. Not my favorite. But then my tastes in music may not be yours; several other reviewers have noted how much they enjoyed the music. Musically it may work well for you. As far as the fiction goes … I like to be able to follow the story. And I couldn’t here. BUT, taking it in as a serious attempt at SF, that should be followable may have been a mistake on my part.

Becky Jo Engstrom, who plays one of the characters, noted in an exclusive audio interview available with the bonus eBook CD “The Making of Volitar,” that they planned the CD as an homage to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the ‘B-movie’ influences of their youth. So, if before you insert the CD and hit play, you tell yourself, ‘this is light entertainment, just music with dramatic scenes’ and not ‘dramatic scenes with music’, you may have a heck of a lot of fun with it! As an aside, special mention should go to artist, Bud Curtis (, who’s responsible for the CD’s digital imagery in the fold out packaging; he’s done a terrific job! I found the bonus eBook quite interesting too, well presented and chock full of production details. Andrew Engstrom and his team seem like really cool people and I look forward to their follow up album tentatively titled “Volitar: War In Ganthros.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Song Before Sunset By David Rowland Grigg

A Song Before Sunset
By David Rowland Grigg; Read by Alexander Wilson
MP3 DOWNLOAD – 28 minutes, 22 seconds [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Telltale Weekly
Published: 2004
Themes: / Science Fiction / Post-apocalypse / Music /

In a post-apocalyptic city, an old man seeks to recreate his past as a concert pianist. First published in 1976 in the Australian anthology entitled: Beyond Tomorrow – An Anthology of Modern Science Fiction edited by Lee Harding, this story has been languishing unreprinted until this exceptional audio edition was released. Production value is high, the sound is exceptionally clear and the reading is lightly, and appropriately accented with music. Alexander Wilson’s reading is haunting and restrained, matching the mournful tone of this short story. Available online at for only $1.00 USD, “A Song Before Sunset” is an excellent value and a great listen!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Green Hills of Earth / Gentlemen, Be Seated by Robert A. Heinlein

SFFaudio Review

Green Hills of Earth/Gentlemen Be Seated by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Leonard Nimoy, Caedmon, 1977

Let me pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave me birth
Let me rest my eyes
On the fleecy skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.

–Robert A. Heinlein’s Rhysling

I type that from memory, hearing Leonard Nimoy’s voice in my mind’s ear. These two stories make my favorites list probably for nostalgic reasons, though Leonard Nimoy is an excellent narrator. This was one of the first audiobooks I listened to as a youth – it was one of the tapes in my local library’s small collection. I found it one day while looking through the few old time radio cassettes. This was also my first exposure to Robert A. Heinlein, and I was hooked. I was struck (and still am) by Heinlein’s ability to make his future so normal to all the people in it.

The story of Rhysling, blind singer of the spaceways, was on one side of the cassette, and the story of a reporter’s dangerous lunar adventure was on the other. A top-notch performance from Nimoy made this a gem that I’ve enjoyed many many times. I have no idea where to find copies of this now. If anyone does, please let me know.