Review of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

LibriVox - The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose FarmerThe Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Mark Nelson
10 MP3s or 10 OGG Vorbis files – 6 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 2006
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Planetary Romance / Swashbuckling / Pirates / Slaves / Planetary Ecology / Panspermia / Humor /

Alan Green is a space traveler stranded on a barbaric planet. He’s been taken as a slave and made a consort to an insipid and smelly queen. His slave-wife, though beautiful and smart, nags him constantly. He’s given up hope of ever returning to Earth when he hears of two astronauts who have been captured in a kingdom on the other side of the planet, and sets out on an action-packed journey on a ship sailing across vast grasslands on rolling pin-like wheels in a desperate scheme to save them and return home.

This audiobook was created on a dare. Back in November 2006 I challenged anyone to make an unabridged single-voiced audiobook from a list of titles of public domain Speculative Fiction novels that had not been previously released as audiobooks. This is the first audiobook to complete the aforementioned “SFFaudio challenge.” With its completion, the narrator, has won himself a copy of Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick as read by Tom Parker. Congratulations Mark! Now, on to the review proper…

The Green Odyssey roughly parallels the adventures of the original Odysseus, except that the Mediterranean sea here is instead a sea of grass on an endless plain on an obscure alien planet. Perhaps most original in this tale are the ships that sail that grass sea of this land-dominated planet. The idea of sails and roller ships to ply the prairie between cities is a neat one (something similar was used the Dragonlance AD&D module Dragons Of Ice by Douglas Niles). The lead character, Alan Green, is a Earthman who has been shipwrecked (or is that “spacewrecked”) on a planet inhabited by a branch of quasi-medieval Homo sapiens sapiens. If his alien origins were to be revealed they’d think him a demon. For two years already he’s been enslaved and humbled. The worst of it is his being forced into the bed of a lusty, but fickle, Duchess. Her merest whim would mean his death, so when Green hears of two strangers, like himself, who’ve come from the sky in a strange ship, his ears perk-up. Upon further investigation it seems the two “demons” are being held in a distant city. With a death sentence not too far in their futures, Green hatches a shrewd escape plan with a wily merchant. His only problem – his adopted family wants to go with!

This is a exuberant adventure. It reminds me of vintage Poul Anderson, in fact the whole novel is a kind of an inverse of Anderson’s excellent The High Crusade. Its also funny, in the same smile and smirk way, and lets not forget another of its vitures, The Green Odyssey is quick! I often think this, the classic short novel of the 1950s and 1960s, is the perfect length for SF. Moreover, Farmer has scripted lots of fun details for fans of both Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs – the colloquial language is also full realized and amusing. Now a word of caution, this is by no means a classic on the scale of To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Jose Farmer’s best know work. That said, it is absolutely and addictively listenable – I plowed straight through the 6 hour running time with nary a dry spell. Since it is FREE, thanks to the good efforts of Mark Nelson, I can unreservedly recommend it even to people who’d otherwise give it a miss.

Mark Nelson has a real narrators voice. He puts as much characterization into the various characters into this exposition heavy novel as is probably possible. Sound is good, loud enough and pretty clean of noise. Two minor problems, Mark pronounces a word wrong and there is one line repeated, I’d guess the latter got missed in the editing, the former is almost inevitable. I’ve heard professional productions far less “professionally” produced. I am looking forward to hearing a lot more public domain SF novels from Mark!

Editors note:
In a last minute email Mark has said that he does indeed expect to be reading more Science Fiction for LibriVox in the months ahead. He’d prefer titles that “haven’t been done commercially, just to increase the variety of audiobooks out there”. But here’s the problem he’s having; Mark is not super-familiar with the Science Fiction from the 50’s and 60’s. His reading thus far has tended to read much more recent. And so he asks that we come up with with some recommendations. Recommendations, in fact, from what he calls “the knowledgeable” – Hey! That’s you guys out there! So, which public domain Science Fiction novels from the 1950s and early 1960s would you like to hear Mark read?

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Challenger working on The Skylark Of Space by E.E. "Doc" Smith

SFFaudio News

Meta SFFaudio - SFFaudio Contest - Make audiobook win an audiobookMore “Challenge” news…

Mark P. Steele, wrote in to say:

“Hi there. I ran across your challenge late, but decided to try anyway.”

The book Mark P. is interested in is the The Skylark Of Space by E.E. “Doc” Smith. Very cool, say I.

As you well know, Bob, The Skylark of Space is one of the earliest novels of interstellar travel. First published in 1928. It is oft considered the first literary Space Opera.

Frederick Pohl said of it:

“With the exception of the works of H.G. Wells, possibly those of Jules Verne it has inspired more imitators and done more to change the nature of all the Science Fiction written after it than almost any other single work.”

According to Mark P.’s research, BOTH the original 1928 and the later 1958 revision are in the public domain, and Mark P. is planning on recording the 1958 version.

Mark asks: “Is anyone else working on this?”

Well Mark, no, I know of no-one else who is working on that title. So far, we’ve got only three audiobooks in various stages of completeness in “The SFFaudio Challenge”:

CHALLENGERS SO FAR:

-Mark Nelson has COMPLETED & RELEASED (awaiting verification) an unabridged recording of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer.

-Steven H. Wilson has has finished the recording of Badge Of Infamy by Lester del Rey
– and we expect a Podiobooks.com release of it relatively soon.

-Mark P. Steele is preparing to record The Skylark Of Space (1958) by E.E. “Doc” Smith.

Would anyone else like to publicly stake a claim from the titles on the challenge list?

Also, it seems Mark P. Steel wouldn’t mind some technical assistance – as he writes…

“The main problem that I have is the static on the recording. I’m using Audacity, and filtered the static, but it sounds somewhat hollow and metallic, thus making me skeptical of the usability,of the recording. My next step is to try and move the mike away from the computer, on the possibility that it’s the fan hum I’m getting.”

Hmmm, I’m tech-challenged myself, but I can offer a custom bit of cover art to get Mr. Steele inspired:

The Skylark Of Space by E.E. Doc Smith

Can anyone else give Mark P. some advice on how to get the static out of his recording?

SFFaudio Challenge MET with an unabridged reading of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer!

SFFaudio News

Meta SFFaudio - SFFaudio Contest - Make audiobook win an audiobookMORE BIG BIG NEWS!

Mark Nelson, a prolific narrator at LibriVox.org has written in to announce he has already COMPLETED and RELEASED one of the public domain Speculative Fiction novels listed in the SFFaudio ‘make an audiobook, win an audiobook’ challenge!

In an email dated “Sun, 17 Dec 2006 15:39:27 -0800” Mark wrote:

“I don’t know if any others took you up already and recorded any of the others on your list, but a complete audiobook of The Green Odyssey has just been published on LibriVox”

Well Mark, at least one other person has recorded one of the public domain novels, but it appears you are the first to both complete and release one which is what is required by the challenge. And The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer |Manybooks.net| was indeed one of the novels from the challenge!

For those playing along at home… in mid-November I challenged anyone to turn any one of a number of previously unreleased public domain novels into an unabridged single voiced audiobook. As an incentive, I offered a BRAND NEW unabridged commercial audiobook to the first person to complete and release one from the list. It appears Mark has, in fact, done that!

All that is necessary now is the verification – namely me listening to the novel and comparing it to the Maybooks.net text – but by all accounts it certainly appears that Mark has met this challenge! This therefore, almost certainly, means that Mark will be receiving a free audiobook of his choice. Either Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein or Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Now, if you are CURRENTLY making, or were PLANNING on making your very own novel based on the challenge, don’t stop now! Let me know which novel you are working on. I’d like to know what you’re doing. And, we might even be able to scrounge up a BRAND NEW professionally narrated audiobook for you too!

In the meantime SFFaudio is proud to present the first (provisionally) completed Speculative Fiction novel in our ‘Make an Audiobook, Win an Audiobook Challenge’:

Librivox Audiobook - The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose FarmerThe Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Mark Nelson
10 MP3s or 10 OGG Vorbis files – 6 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 2006
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Alan Green is a space traveler stranded on a barbaric planet who has been taken slave and made a consort to an insipid and smelly queen. His slave-wife, though beautiful and smart, nags him constantly. He’s given up hope of ever returning to Earth when he hears of two astronauts who have been captured in a kingdom on the other side of the planet, and sets out on an action-packed journey on a ship sailing across vast grasslands on rolling pin-like wheels in a desperate scheme to save them and return home.

Click HERE to get it directly from LibriVox!

Congratulations Mark and thanks!

Commentary: Make your own Public Domain Audiobook or Podcast Novel: Win A Prize

SFFaudio Commentary

Meta SFFaudio - SFFaudio Challenge - Make audiobook win an audiobookThe SFFaudio Challenge – # 1

What do you do if you have a good voice and want to record something Speculative Fiction related but don’t have any ideas on what to record?

I have a suggestion!

At SFFaudio our first and best love is UNABRIDGED Science Fiction audiobooks. The good news is there are a large number of public domain Science Fiction or Fantasy novels that have yet to be read aloud. You needn’t bother with fancy sound effects. There’s no need for incidental music. In fact most audiobook listeners prefer their listening to be without these frills. All you’ll need is a microphone and a nice quiet room. This is the way traditional audiobooks have been recorded for nearly thirty years. But even with all those years of recording there are still DOZENS and DOZENS of name-author novels and stories available for your narration. These will be exclusive recordings!

With all the hype about Creative Commons of late you may have forgotten or maybe you never realized that there is so much in the public domain still to be recorded. In researching the complete fiction audiography of Cory Doctorow I came across no fewer than three versions of Cory’s Down And Out In the Magic Kingdom audiobook. That is probably two times to many – especially when you consider that so many public domain titles are still languishing unrecorded!

Now it isn’t like everyone has forgotten about the public domain. Admittedly, there are a few people recording public domain SF & F – like our very own Time Traveler for instance. His Time Traveler Show has a classic Science Fiction short story in nearly every podcast. There’s also Maureen O’Brien, of Maria Lectrix, who has recorded novels like Little Fuzzy and Dawn Of Flame. We’re also fond of the folks at Voices In The Dark who have recorded a number of Lovecraft’s tales. And no discussion of public domain could forget LibriVox. LibriVox is doing good work, but they aren’t, for my tastes, doing enough that is close enough to the modern era. They do stuff like Burroughs, Shelley, Twain, London and Wells, in other words, a lot of stuff that traditional audiobook publishers have already done at one time or another. There are already versions of The Time Machine and Dracula and many, many other relatively familiar novels from dozens of different professional vendors. I think it is about time more people to start doing some SF or Fantasy that isn’t from the early 20th century or prior, or if it is, make sure at least that hasn’t been recorded commercially previously. To that end I’ve compiled a short list of potentially do-able novels. Check these puppies out:

COMPLETED TITLES:

The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed December 17th 2006 by Mark Nelson – 1st title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Badge Of Infamy by Lester Del Rey |Gutenberg Project|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed January 14th 2007 by Steven H. Wilson – 2nd title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

The Cosmic Computer (AKA Junkyard Planet) by H. Beam Piper |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed January 15th 2006 by Mark Nelson – 3rd title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

The Answer by H. Beam Piper |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND WILL SOON BE RELEASED (Completed January 22nd 2007 by Mark Nelson – 4th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Plague Ship by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed March 2007 by Mark Nelson – 5th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

Star Surgeon by Alan Nourse |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE HAS BEEN COMPLETED AND RELEASED (Completed June 15th 2007 by Scott Farquhar – 6th title to complete) |RELEASE DETAILS|

REMOVED FROM THE CHALLENGE:


Triplanetary by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|
This title has been COMMERCIALLY RELEASED by Books In Motion.

The Black Star Passes by John W. Campbell |Manybooks.net|

|THIS TITLE IS COMPLETE (Completed by Scott D. Farquhar)|RELEASE DETAILS|

CLAIMED TITLES:

The Sky Is Falling by Lester Del Rey |Gutenberg Project|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by Jeffery Tillotson)

Operation: Outer Space by Murray Leinster |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND MAY BE IN PRODUCTION (Claimed by Daniel)

City At World’s End by Edmond Hamilton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by James Kocher)

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF SUMMER 2007 (Claimed by Cindy Woods)

The Door Through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley |Manybooks.net| THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY AUGUST 2007 (Claimed by Christie Nowak)

A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylindner by James De Mille |Manybooks.net| This 19th century title hasn’t been audiobooked even by a commercial audiobook company.THIS TITLE IS IN PROGRESS (Claimed by Robert A. Graff)

The Skylark Of Space by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS IN PROGRESS (Claimed by Mark P. Steele)

The Defiant Agents by Andre Norton |Manybooks.net|THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED AND SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY THE END OF SUMMER 2007 (Claimed by Cindy Woods)

The Secret Of The Ninth Planet by Donald A. Wollheim |Manybooks.net|
THIS TITLE IS CLAIMED (Claimed by Cliff Charles)

AVAILABLE TITLES:

This World Is Taboo by Murray Leinster |Manybooks.net| (Manybooks.net has a computer generated audiobook, but of course such a reading sucks compared to a human being)

Warlord Of Kor by Terry Gene Carr |Manybooks.net| *There is now a multiple-reader version available from LibriVox, but someone wanting to do a single voice reading is still invited to do so).

The Galaxy Primes by E.E. Doc Smith |Manybooks.net|

This is just a smattering of what exists in the public domain. You could turn any one of these into a complete podcast novel or an amateur unabridged audiobook. You could even turn them into copyrighted audiobooks should you so desire – and even try selling them. Your voicing of a public domain book is eminently copyrightable. Podiobooks.com has started hosting Librivox titles, if you do a good job with your reading I think you’d have a good chance of getting your files hosted with Podiobooks – and maybe even get some donations too! If that still doesn’t quite do it for you read on…

As an incentive, I will offer a BRAND NEW unabridged audiobook to the first person to complete and release an unabridged reading (in a single human voice) of one of the novels on this list above. As the first person to complete this challenge you’ll need to notify me by email and verify to me the existence and availability of these files. As a winner you’ll receive your choice of one of the following Blackstone Audio audiobooks:

Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick
This audiobook has been won by Mark Nelson for his completion of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer

Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
This audiobook has been won by Steven H. Wilson for his completion of Badge Of Infamy
by Lester del Rey

Animal Farm by George Orwell
This audiobook has been won by Mark Nelson for his completion of The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper

If you have any questions about the contest, or anything written above let me know and I’ll add details. SFFaudio wants you to make audiobooks!

** UPDATE ** Nov 13th 2006 @ 1PM

Nate Peterson has written in asking:

“How do I get started? What equipment do I need and what software? What format do you want?”

Here are some answers Nate:

1. Choose a title from the list above. You’ll probably want to print out at least one copy of it. Read through the novel, make sure it is something you’ll want to record.

2. Get yourself a microphone. I hear USB mics work quite well but many amateur narrators get good use out of cheaper equipment.

3. Audacity is some good freeware that many people starting out using. It is relatively versatile and the learning curve isn’t too high. You’ll probably also want to grab an MP3 LAME encoder so you can export your files into the MP3 format. HERE is a link on how to do that.

4. MP3 format is the preferred standard, but it isn’t required to fulfill the contest. Details on what bit-rate, etc, should be worked out in advance, LibriVox and Podiobooks.com both have resources that can help you choose (more on that below).

5. There is a terrific resource available at Podiobooks.com. Their authoring guidelines (a PDF file) will give you a good general outline of what standards and practices will help you to make a better audiobook. Also, LibriVox has a number of experienced amateur narrators in their forums from which you can draw expertise. They have also created a wiki that will answer many technical questions.

** UPDATE ** Nov 16th 2006 @ 9:30PM

Banshee points out that…

“Manybooks.net apparently has the wrong version of some of those books which Gutenberg is going to post, but hasn’t posted yet. For example, the version of The Skylark of Space on manybooks.net is the book version, which is still under copyright. The public domain version is the magazine version, which they have over at durendal.org. Since Smith extensively revised Skylark, that’s a problem you can’t just sweep under the rug.”

Thanks for pointing that out Banshee. Yikes! If someone has already started recording a copyrighted version of one of these novels listed at Manybooks.net they will still be eligible for the prize (but they will still have to prove they recorded the entire novel), they will obviously however not be able to release the audiobook in any sort of commercial capacity. If this turns out to be the case the entrant who recorded a public domain version will still get a prize. I will award two prizes (of your choice) – one to the ‘mistaken copyrighted’ entrant, one to the public domain entrant. Nobody will be cheated for an error of ‘was it copyrighted or public domain?’ Sound fair?

** UPDATE ** Dec 19th 2006 @ 11:38PM

Three titles have been claimed! One has already been completed, another is set to release and one is set to begin recording. Nice work folks!

** UPDATE ** Dec 22nd 2006 @ 11:30PM

Four titles have been claimed. One has completed, another is set to release and two others are going to begin recording soon. Cool!

** UPDATE ** Jan 8th 2007 @ 2:10PM

Seven titles have been claimed. One has been completed and released, another has been completed and is being podcast! More updates as they come.

** UPDATE ** Jan 21st 2007 @ 12:10AM

Eight titles have been claimed. Three have been completed and released! All three of the prize audiobooks have been won. I’m still not sure what prizes will be offered to those challengers who are still striving to complete their claimed titles. Suggestions are welcomed.

** UPDATE ** Jan 22nd 2007 @ 8:48PM

Only 9 titles remain unclaimed! I’ve pulled Triplanetary by E.E. “Doc” Smith from the list because it has actually been commercially released already. The Answer by H. Beam Piper will be appearing in an H. Beam Piper short story collection.

** UPDATE ** March 30th 2007 @ 11:17PM

Only 7 titles remain unclaimed! This is so awesome.

** UPDATE ** May 16th 2007 @ 8:25AM

A mere 6 titles remain unclaimed! Nice work folks!

** UPDATE ** July 16th 2008 @ 4:53PM
7 titles have been completed, and only 4 titles are left to be claimed.

Listen to the GrandMasters of Science Fiction vi…

SFFaudio Online Audio

Listen to the GrandMasters of Science Fiction via online audio
Ever wonder what your favorite Science Fiction authors sound like? We can help. Here’s a complete list of the Science Fiction Writers Of America GrandMasters sorted by the year of their induction and the online audioclips and interviews that we know about.
PLEASE NOTE: File types vary ( .mp3 .m3u .ram .wav ).

Robert A. Heinlein (1974)

Stranger in a Strange LandTime Enough for Love
“Robert Heinlein Day”“eggs in one basket”
“colonies beyond Earth”“through the universe”

Jack Williamson (1975)

-An interview from the Fast-Forward archives

Clifford D. Simak (1976) – None known

L. Sprague de Camp (1978) – None known

Fritz Leiber (1981) – None known

Andre Norton (1983) – None known

Arthur C. Clarke (1985) – None known

Isaac Asimov (1986)
-Asimov interviewed by Terry Gross 1986
-A Wired for Books interview from 1987

Alfred Bester (1987) – None known

Ray Bradbury (1988)
-A Wired for Books interview from 1992
-A Wired for Books interview from 1993

Lester Del Rey (1990) – None known

Frederik Pohl (1992) – None known

Damon Knight (1994) – None known

A.E. van Vogt (1995) – None known

Jack Vance (1996) – None known

Poul Anderson (1997) – None known

Hal Clement (1998)
-An Hour 25 online interview

Brian W. Aldiss (1999)
-A Wired for Books interview from 1984
A Wired for Books interview from 1986

Philip José Farmer (2000) – None known

Ursula K. Le Guin (2002)
-Three Hour 25 Interviews: Sep 2000Oct 2001Aug 2003

Robert Silverberg (2003) – None known

Do you know of some other online audio interviews or sound clips featuring the SFWA GrandMasters? Let us know!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of To Your Scattered Bodies Go By Philip Jose Farmer

Science Fiction Audiobooks - To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose FarmerTo Your Scattered Bodies Go
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Paul Hecht
6 Cassettes – 7.75 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books Inc.
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0788763261
Themes: / Science Fiction / Resurrection / Society / Aliens /

Paul Hecht reads this Hugo Award-winning novel by Philip Jose Farmer. The novel begins with the resurrection of millions of people from throughout human history. They awaken in a great river, swim to the surface, and emerge onto the shore.

The story’s main character is Sir Richard Burton, an adventurer who lived from 1821 to 1890. He immediately finds himself leader of a small group of people which includes a prehistoric man, a Victorian woman, and an alien. This afterlife is no heaven, though, as people barely get over the fact that they are alive again before they start fighting each other for the usual reasons humans do.

Burton’s attention turns to the river itself, and he decides to build a boat and find its source, hoping then to find the answers to his questions – Who resurrected them? And why? The answer to this question changes throughout the book as more is revealed and the characters figure things out.

Another significant character is Nazi Hermann Goering who picks up from where he left off on Earth, enslaving Jews and engaging in battle wherever he can find it. The exchanges between Goering and Burton are the highlight of the book. That humankind can be resurrected without changing is a dismal thought, and I think the main theme of this novel. But mankind’s adventurous spirit is also represented as honorable in Burton’s character.

Paul Hecht is a good reader who does well with this material. He was a bit dry at times, but was very listenable and successfully held my attention.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson