Prisoners Of Gravity, the best damn TV show ever: Have a listen

Online Audio

Online AudioIf you like Science Fiction and you haven’t managed to catch a single episode of Prisoners Of Gravity, I pity you. I really do. The show was awesome. It was produced between 1989 and 1994 for TV Ontario (and syndicated sporadically across North America) – each episode was like an extended blog entry (before there was such a thing). The topics, each episode only had one, focused on a particular theme found in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and comic books.

The bulk of an individual show would be just ‘talking heads’ – it was an interview format show with multiple celebrity guests of the best kind, mostly SF&F authors. Each guest would talk about the subject at hand with the interviews having been done at conventions, bookstores and the like – but I can’t stress enough just how each show was so narrowly focused on a specific theme in Speculative Fiction. Here’s just a few of the episodes subjects:

Alternate Histories, Religion, War, Dreams, Watchmen (yup a whole show on the Alan Moore comic series), Cyberpunk, World-Building, Death, Vampires, Dinosaurs, Metamorphosis, Mars and many more.

What made the show so endearing, besides the absolutely stunningly cool content, was the unrelentingly geek-o-serious production. The show’s host, played by comedian Rick Green, was supposed to be a frustrated über-geek named Commander Rick, who had, prior to the show starting, fled the earth in his homemade rocket (packed ful of books and comics). Unforunately for the Commander, he crashed into a television satellite, from which he now broadcasts his show. His only companion there is Nan-Cy, the sardonic artificial intelligent computer system that keeps Rick alive and relatively sane.

If this shows sounds interesting, or you’re feeling nostalgic, click on over to my good friend Rachelle Shelkey’s fansite, Signal Loss, and have a peek around. No official DVDs are available, but there’s a message board and episode trading might be doable now with the promulgation of cheap DVD-Rs. I myself am sending Rachelle my entire collection of VHS tape, in the hopes I will be getting some episodes I’ve never seen before. If you have some episodes contact Rachelle! If we can get enough people interested maybe we can get a complete series run!

Now for the audio|MP3|. It is the first 5 minutes from an episode of Prisoners Of Gravity on the subject of Science Fiction Fandom. Enjoy!

posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook – Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerParable of the Sower
By Octavia E. Butler; Read by Lynne Thigpen
10 CDs – 12 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0788747606
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Survival / Religion /

Occasionally in science fiction there comes a novel that should be considered important not only inside the genre, but in all of literature. Like 1984 by George Orwell. Or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Or like nearly everything Octavia Butler ever wrote, including this novel.

Parable of the Sower is a novel consisting of the diary entries of the main character, a teen named Lauren. She lives and writes in 2020’s United States of America, in the Los Angeles area. Butler imagines a lawless future America where everyone is on their own. Lauren lives in a cul-de-sac with a wall around it – her family and several others haved pooled together. Murders are commonplace, as is theft, and people struggle to survive while the world moves on. Lauren comments on the death of an astronaut on Mars, the election of a new president, as well as her ever-changing day-to-day life.

Complicating things is the fact that Lauren is a hyper-empath. If she sees someone get hurt, she feels that pain as if it was happening to her. An extremely uncomfortable thing to be, when pain exists all around her.

Out of all of this, she creates a new religion, called Earthseed, which springs forth from the beliefs formed by her life’s circumstances. She isn’t inventing it, as she says more than once – no, she’s discovering it. In a world in which the only surety is change, she discovers God. And God, she figures, is change itself.

Lynne Thigpen is flawless in her narration of this book. She did a wonderful job speaking as if the world in which Lauren moved was normal. Her emphasis and emotion perfectly fit the character. The result was an audiobook that I’m better off for having heard.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Chrysalis by Ray Gross

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Audio Screenplay - Chrysalis by Ray GrossChrysalis
By Ray Gross; Performed by a Full Cast and a Narrator
1 Mp3 File – 2 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / Science / Religion /

Science is the purest form of religion.

Struggling genius Graham Godfrey, together with his select team of young discoverers, is led from Georgetown University to the mysterious Bainbridge Institute by his ambitious uncle in a quest to harness a new quantum energy source. But the project takes an unexpected turn and unfolding events thrust Graham into his haunted past where a dark secret shrouds an unspoken family tragedy.

Audio Cinema’s Chrysalis is a screenplay done for audio – when you listen what you’ll hear is a new hybrid – you could think of it as a complete table reading of a film script by the cast of a film prior to the filming. Added to the reading are a soundtrack and sound effects. A narrator reads all the non-dialogue lines in the script, in an conspiritorial, almost whispering, voice. The character’s lines are all performed by individual actors. Sound effects and music accompany the action. Now you might think this sounds like audio or radio drama, but it isn’t, nor is it a full cast reading of a novel, instead it is something I’ve never heard before, a completely new thing. This is a movie screenplay 9/10ths of the way to completion – a complete movie without the visuals. The experience is comparable to listening to the Descriptive Visual Service® found on some WGBH (PBS) television dramas.

The script is interesting and the production moves along at a nice clip. There are few, difficulties here and there, the narrator mispronounces “facade,” one or two other minor things ruffle the experience. I quite liked the ideas. The plot is thoughtful and in some respects echoes like a happier version of Theodore Sturgeon’s short story Microcosmic God. In structure it’s like the 1983 film WarGames. I worry about the format though. I’m a fan of audio tracks of film and tv. Sometimes the narration, the sound of the story, will tip you to things you’d have missed in the visual landscape. If you take the audio track from Babylon 5 and just listen to an entire show you’ll get 90% of the story. Stories, good stories, are idea driven, whether it is narration or dialogue, good ideas come from the soundtrack not the visuals. The ideas in Chrysalis resonate. I don’t need to see the movie of Chrysalis, I’ve heard it.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Wahhh? Alien EthOS: The Ethics Of Sci-Fi is back…

Online Audio

alien EthOS: The Ethics of Sci-fi LOGOWahhh? Alien EthOS: The Ethics Of Sci-Fi is back and with a new show! I really thought they had pod-faded – given that their last show was podcast way back in early November 2005 I’m truly surprised they are back. Glad for it too because Show#5 is on “Religion and a Child’s Right to Life” with the SF media example being from the Babylon 5 episode entitled “Believers”.

Click HERE to download Show #5 directly.

Or subscribe through iTunes by clicking HERE.

Review of Battlestar Galactica by Jeffrey A. Carver

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Battlestar GalacticaBattlestar Galactica
By Jeffrey A. Carver, based on the teleplay written by Ronald D. Moore and Christopher Eric James, based on a teleplay by Glen A. Larson
Read by Jonathan Davis
4 CD’s – 4 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: 2005
Themes: / Science Fiction / War / Robots / Military / Government / Space Travel / Mythology / Religion /

Has anyone else noticed how good television has become during the past ten years? Well, 13 years. In 1993 Babylon 5 first aired, ushering in a new wave of science fiction and fantasy television that is both smart and damned entertaining. Following B5 was Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. Many would put Farscape and Stargate in the same category. I haven’t seen enough of either to make that judgment. We could quibble about the list of this new wave all we want, but currently at the crest of that wave is the Sci-Fi Channel’s Battlestar Galactica, which is, without doubt, the best science fiction show currently in production.

This audiobook is an abridgement of the novelization of the first Battlestar Galactica show, which was a 4-hour mini-series that originally ran in 2002. I admit that even typing that makes me wince. An abridgement of the novelization of a television show. How much farther from Shakespeare can a person get? Not exactly high falutin culture here.

But this story is edgy, tense, and complex. It opens with a complacent human race that has gotten used to life without their enemy, the Cylons. The Cylons were human-built machines that rebelled, then accepted an armistice agreement around 40 years before the beginning of this audiobook, which is primarily about the sudden unexpected attack on humanity by the Cylons. The attack leaves the Battlestar Galactica as one of the very few ships that survives, and the immediate aftermath sets up several storylines that are followed in the television series.

Jonathan Davis, who keeps pretty busy with the many Star Wars audio titles, narrates, and does his typical and excellent job with it.

I’m a fan of this series, and was happy to receive this audiobook. Though the audio offers nothing new over the miniseries itself, it was an enjoyable way to experience the story while driving. I’m not sure if Audio Renaissance plans to continue releasing Battlestar Galactica titles, but because of the nature of the series, they would have to release every episode since each one is dependant on what takes place before.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Road to Dune by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson

SFFaudio Review

The Road to Dune by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. AndersonThe Road to Dune
By Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert, and Kevin J. Anderson; Read by Scott Brick
12 CD’s – 14 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: JUST RELEASED – September 2005
ISBN: 159397776X
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dune / Desert / Religion / Commentary / Journal / Short Fiction /

In a sentence, The Road to Dune is an intriguing collection of Dune “extras” that should please any fan of Frank Herbert. Including myself.

A quick background on me as far as Dune goes – I read the first novel once, then listened to George Guidall’s unabridged narration of the same book. I also heard The Butlerian Jihad, which was written by Brian Herbert (Frank Herbert’s son) and Kevin J. Anderson. I mention all this so that you can know my level of Dune knowledge – I am by no means an expert. With that said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, as you may know, have continued Frank Herbert’s Dune series by adding two trilogies of prequels to Herbert’s existing books. They’ve consulted notes that Frank Herbert left behind, and the opening of this book explains that to some degree. Bill Ransom, who collaborated with Frank Herbert on a few books, also weighs in, describing his writing life with Frank.

Next up is a short novel called Spice Planet which represents the first version of Dune, or what Dune could have been. The novel is certainly better, but Dune World was also engaging and interesting from the perspective of a person who has read the novel (what’s different, what’s the same) and as a very good story in its own right.

Also included are deleted scenes and alternate endings from Dune and Dune, Messiah, letters and notes from Frank Herbert during the time he was trying to get Dune published. Especially interesting are some letters to and from John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Analog Science Fiction Magazine, which serialized the first Dune novel, but declined the second one.

Four short stories by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are here, too. The first, “Whisper of Caladan Seas” was originally published in Amazing Science Fiction and takes place during the first Dune novel. The other three, “Hunting Harkonnens”, “Whipping Mek”, and “Faces of a Martyr” are set in the prequel times that Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson write about in their trilogies. They are very good stories, all.

Scott Brick narrated, and I am reminded why I enjoy him so much. His narration is energetic, dramatic, and powerful, but never over the top. I never tire of his rich voice and the believable, living characters he performs.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book on several levels. For a person writing a thick tome of a science fiction novel, this glimpse into Herbert’s process is very educational. For a fan of Dune, this look into what could have been is very entertaining. For a fan interested in the history science fiction, the correspondence between Campbell and Herbert and the story of the novel’s purchase and publication by Chilton are pure gold. And for a fan of good stories, there’s plenty here to enjoy.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson