New Releases: Heinlein, Moers, Powers, Matheson, Faye, Collins, Spillane, Swift, Frank, Conrad, Niven, Pournelle

New Releases

Here’s a wonderful batch of audiobooks that didn’t show up under an SFFaudio Xmas tree. Stupid Santa!

Winner of an AudioFile magazine “Earphones Award”, narrated by a “2010 AudioFile Best Voice winner” –

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Wycherly Woman by Ross MacdonaldThe Wycherly Woman: A Lew Archer Novel
By Ross Macdonald; Read by Grover Gardner
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: January 2010
ISBN: 9781433278594 (cd), 9781433278624 (mp3-cd)
Phoebe Wycherly was missing two months before her wealthy father hired Lew Archer to find her. That was plenty of time for a young girl who wanted to disappear to do so thoroughly—or for someone to make her disappear. And before he could locate the Wycherly girl, Archer had to reckon with the Wycherly woman, Phoebe’s mother, an eerily unmaternal blonde who kept too many residences, had too many secrets, and left too many corpses in her wake.

Another title beloved of Audiofile magazine: Starring Stacy Keach as Mike Hammer!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The New Adventures Of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Vol. 2  by Max Allan CollinsThe New Adventures Of Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Vol. 2: The Little Death
By Max Allan Collins; From a story by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins; Performed by a full supporting cast
2 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 1.9 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 9781441712585 (cd), 9781441712592 (mp3-cd)
Private eye Mike Hammer is no stranger to murder, but this time he has two to untangle: the killing of the Captain, a legless, homeless panhandler, dismissed by the police as “minor,” and the slaying of gambling kingpin Marty Wellman. Marty’s lady friend, Helen Venn, turns to the P.I. for help when the Mob fingers her for the next kill. Seems the new kingpin, Carmen Rich — with whom Hammer has a violent history — thinks Helen made off with ten mil in skim money courtesy of her late lover. But Mike Hammer knows a damsel in distress when he sees one and takes up Helen’s cause, igniting a series of hit attempts on his life by a small army of out-of-town shooters. Such minor distractions can’t prevent the toughest detective of them all from solving two murders and avenging a “little death” in a big way.

I liked the movie. Has anyone read the book?

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Somewhere In Time by Richard MathesonSomewhere In Time
By Richard Matheson; Read by Scott Brick
9 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441722201 (cd), 9781441722218 (mp3-cd)
Written by one of the grand masters of modern fantasy, Somewhere In Time is the moving, romantic story of a modern man whose powerful love for a woman he has never met allows him to literally transcend time. A dying young playwright staying in a turn-of-the-century hotel becomes captivated by a painting of a beautiful stage actress from the previous century. Obsessed, he begins to study everything he can about the woman and her time and becomes convinced he belongs with her. Through self-hypnosis, he transports himself to 1896, where he finds the soul mate he was fated to meet. But will he be able to stay? Somewhere In Time won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was the basis for the 1980 cult classic movie starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

Is this an audiobook about playing poker with the devil? Nice!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Last Call by Tim PowersLast Call
By Tim Powers; Read by Bronson Pinchot
16 CDs or 2 MP3CDs – Approx. 19.1 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441757364 (cd), 9781441757371 (mp3-cd)
Scott Crane abandoned his career as a professional poker player twenty years ago and hasn’t returned to Las Vegas, or held a hand of cards, in ten years. But troubling nightmares about a strange poker game he once attended on a houseboat on Lake Mead are drawing him back to the magical city. For the mythic game he believed he won did not end that night in 1969—and the price of his winnings was his soul. Now, a pot far more strange and perilous than he ever could imagine depends on the turning of a card. Enchantingly dark and compellingly real, this World Fantasy Award–winning novel is a masterpiece of magic realism set in the gritty, dazzling underworld known as Las Vegas.

Translated from the German…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Rumo And His Mircaculous Adventures by Walter MoersRumo & His Miraculous Adventures (A Novel in Two Books)
By Walter Moers; Translated by John Brownjohn; Read by Bronson Pinchot
19 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 22.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441757982 (cd), 9781441758019 (mp3-cd)
Set in the land of Zamonia, this exuberant, highly original fantasy from Walter Moers features an unlikely hero. Rumo is a little Wolperting—a domesticated creature somewhere between a deer and a dog—who will one day become the greatest hero in the history of Zamonia. Armed with Dandelion, his talking sword, he fights his way through the Overworld and the Netherworld. He meets Rala, a beautiful Wolperting female; Urs of the Snows, who thinks more of cooking than of fighting; Gornab the Ninety-Ninth, the demented king of Netherworld; Professor Ostafan Kolibri, who goes in search of the Non-Existent Teenies; Professor Abdullah Nightingale, inventor of the chest-of-drawers oracle; and, worst luck, the deadly Metal Maiden. Astonishingly inventive, amusing, and engrossing, Rumo is a captivating story from the unique imagination of Walter Moers. Filled with humor, this novel puts a new spin on the usual epic fantasy. The comparisons are many—Douglas Adams, Lewis Carrol, J. K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, and R. Crumb—but Moers is clearly an original. Long live Zamonia!

One of the Heinlein juvies that I read while in the UK. It, along with Starman’s Quest (by Robert Silverberg) have got to be directly inspired by the famous twin paradox thought experiment!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Time For The Stars by Robert A. HeinleinTime For The Stars
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Barrett Whitener
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 10, 2010
ISBN: 9781433230462 (cd), 9781433230493 (mp3-cd)
Travel to other planets is now a reality, and with overpopulation stretching the resources of Earth, the necessity of finding habitable worlds is growing ever more urgent. There’s a problem though—because the spaceships are slower than light, any communication between the exploring ships and Earth would take years. Tom and Pat are identical twin teenagers. As twins they’ve always been close, so close that it seemed like they could read each other’s minds. When they are recruited by the Long Range Foundation, the twins find out that they can, indeed, peer into each other’s thoughts. Along with other telepathic duos, they are enlisted to be the human transmitters and receivers that will keep the ships in contact with Earth. But there’s a catch: one of the twins has to stay behind—and that one will grow old—while the other explores the depths of space and returns as a young man still.

Hasn’t this been done like four or five times before? Or maybe I just dream’t that?

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Dust And Shadow - An Account Of The Ripper Killings By Dr John H. WatsonDust And Shadow (An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson)
By Lyndsay Faye; Read by Simon Vance
8 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 10, 2010
ISBN: 9781441768117 (cd), 9781441768131 (mp3-cd)
Breathless and painstakingly researched, this is a stunning debut mystery in which Sherlock Holmes unmasks Jack the Ripper. Lyndsay Faye perfectly captures all the color and syntax of Conan Doyle’s distinctive nineteenth-century London. In Dust and Shadow, Sherlock Holmes hunts down Jack the Ripper—the world’s first serial killer—with impeccably accurate historical detail and without the advantage of modern forensics or profiling. Sherlock’s desire to stop the killer who is terrifying the East End of London is unwavering from the start, and in an effort to do so he hires an “unfortunate” known as Mary Ann Monk, the friend of a fellow streetwalker who was one of the Ripper’s earliest victims. However, when Holmes himself is wounded in Whitechapel attempting to catch the villain, and a series of articles in the popular press question his role in the crimes, he must use all his resources in a desperate race to find the man known as “The Knife” before it is too late. Penned as a pastiche by the loyal and courageous Dr. Watson, this debut signals the arrival of a tremendous talent in the mystery and historical fiction genres.

The moral horror of colonialism as performed by Kenneth Branagh? Sign me up!

AUDIBLE - Heart Of Darkness by Kenneth BranaghHeart Of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad; Read by Kenneth Branagh
Audible Download – Approx. 3 Hours 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Signature Classics
Published: November 23, 2010
Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh. Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever. With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first. Stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors David Hyde Pierce, Leelee Sobieski, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

This 1959 novel’s title is derived from a few lines in the Book of Revelation

AUDIBLE - Alas, Babylon by Pat FrankAlas, Babylon
By Pat Frank; Read by Will Patton
Audible Download – Approx. 11 Hours 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible.com
Published: December 21, 2010
This true modern masterpiece is built around the two fateful words that make up the title and herald the end – “Alas, Babylon.” When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness. Will Patton’s narration paints this classic tale as an ominous picture of the terrible possibilities of the nuclear age.

This audiobook is the subject of an upcoming SFFaudio Readalong…

AUDIBLE - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan SwiftGulliver’s Travels
By Jonathan Swift; Read by David Hyde Pierce
Audible Download – Approx. 9 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Signature Classics
Published: December 14, 2010
Four-time Emmy Award winner David Hyde Pierce is famous for playing the lovably self-important Dr. Niles Crane in the hit TV series Frasier. Now, he brings the same wit and charming arrogance to his Signature Classics performance of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. More than just a mock travel book and fabulous adventure, Gulliver’s Travels is a character study and social satire that skewers politics, science, religion, philosophy, and pretentiousness with a bite and resonance that remains as fresh today as the day it was published. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t been out of print in nearly 300 years. Set sail with David Hyde Pierce for a smart, fun, new Gulliver’s Travels experience that’s unlike any other. And stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors Leelee Sobiesky, Casey Affleck, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

And so is this one!

Audible Frontiers - Oath Of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry PournelleOath Of Fealty
By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle; Read by Jeremy Johnson and Suzanne Toren
Audible Download – Approx. 10 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: June 22, 2010
In the near future, Los Angeles is an all but uninhabitable war zone, wracked by crime, violence, pollution and poverty. But above the blighted city, a Utopia has arisen: Todos Santos, a thousand-foot high single-structured city, designed to used state-of-the-art technology to create a completely human-friendly environment, offering its dwellers everything they could want in exchange for their oath of allegiance and their constant surveillance. But there are those who want to see the utopia destroyed, whose answer to tomorrow’s best and brightest hope is mindless violence. And they have just entered Todos Santos.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: Night Drive by Murray Leinster

SFFaudio Online Audio

Night Drive

While I was flipping through one of my grandmother’s old English textbooks (SENSE AND FEELING) I found it contained a short story written by Will F. Jenkins. You may, as I did, instantly recognize it as a pen name of Murray Leinster (even if, in actuality, it’s the other way around). After running the title and the names by my copyright researching buddy, I was pleased to discover it was in the PUBLIC DOMAIN! I then passed it on to another of my creative friends who turned it into an episode of her podcast.

Julie Davis, the narrator, says she was planning on saving it for Halloween. I can see exactly why she was planning that, but it’s probably the perfect listening for any Autumn drive … at night …. in the country ….. with the doors locked …… very tightly.

Night Drive by Murray LeinsterNight Drive
By Murray Leinster; Read by Julie Davis
1 |MP3| – Approx. 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: September 24, 2010
In which a young woman at night is faced with a life-or-death choice.
Night Drive by Will F. Jenkins, was first published in the March 1950 issue of Today’s Woman magazine. In 1962 it was later collected in the Belmont Books paperback called Twisted, (edited by Groff Conklin).

Podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/forgottenclassics

Night Drive

In which a young woman at night is faced with a life-or-death choice.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Random House Audio: Dexter Is Delicious

Aural Noir: New Releases

Random House Audio is releasing the fifth and latest book in the Dexter Morgan series on Tuesday. This time it’s read by the author! All four of the previous audiobooks in the series were narrated by Nick Landrum for Recorded Books

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Dexter Is Delicious by Jeff LindsayDexter Is Delicious
By Jeff Lindsay; Read by Jeff Lindsay
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 7, 2010
ISBN: 9780307577542
Dexter Morgan has always lived a happy homicidal life. He keeps his dark urges in check by adhering to one stead­fast rule . . . he only kills very bad people. But now Dexter is experiencing some major life changes—don’t we all?—and they’re mostly wrapped up in the eight-pound curiosity that is his newborn daughter. Family bliss is cut short, however, when Dexter is summoned to investigate the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl who has been running with a bizarre group of goths who fancy themselves to be vampires. As Dexter gets closer to the truth of what happened to the missing girl, he realizes they are not really vampires so much as cannibals. And, most disturbing . . . these people have decided they would really like to eat Dexter.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir review of The Monster Of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi

Aural Noir: Review

HACHETTE AUDIO - The Monster Of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario SpeziThe Monster Of Florence: A True Story
By Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi; Read by Dennis Boutsikaris
8 CDs – Approx. 9.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781600242090
Themes: / Crime / History / Mystery / Murder / Serial Killer / Conspiracy / Italy / Florence / Sardinia / The Renaissance /

In 2000, Douglas Preston and his family moved to Florence, Italy, fulfilling a long-held dream. They put their children in Italian schools and settled into a 14th century farmhouse in the green hills of Florence, where they devoted themselves to living la dolce vita while Preston wrote his best-selling suspense novels. All that changes when he discovers that the lovely olive grove in front of their house had been the scene of the most infamous double-murders in Italian history, committed by a serial killer known only as the Monster of Florence.

If you’re a fan of Douglas Preston’s fiction you’ll be all into digging the biographical details he adds to this illuminating non-fiction account of a real monster and the labyrinthine twists and turns the investigation took. Those readers looking for insight into Thomas Harris’ Hannibal novels can find this story impactful too. Myself, I was most interested in the unparalleled access this fearsome story details, namely the historical forces that shaped Florence, Tuscany and Sardinia from ancient days, through the Renaissance, the 1960s, 1970s, and on up to the present. Preston, with help from Spezi, provides elucidating details about how the killer (or killers) got away with 16 murders that took place between 1968 and 1985. Their book, this audiobook, is an indictment of Florentine and Italian journalists, the Italian national police , the Florentine investigators, and one prosecutor in particular. In short, after more than 30 years of criminal investigation the case remains an unsolved mystery. Spezi and Preston do take a guess at the culprit, and they back that guess up with a logic chain that is a helluva-lot-more compelling than the official explanation. But, just thinking about it all, a week or two later, I’m still shaking my head. The final disgrace of this story came as a result of a convergence between the Public Minister of Perugia, Giuliano Mignini, and a fraud psychic named Gabriella Carlizzi. Together they explained to themselves, and the arresting police, that Mario Spezi was actually involved in the murders and was a member of a satanic cult.

Even more worrisome, if it is possible to imagine, is what Preston argues is a fairly widespread Italian cultural embrace of something called “dietrologia.” Literally meaning “behindology,” dietrologia is the practice of assuming that nothing notable is as it actually appears – that something hidden (often sinister, cynical and/or conspiratorial) is behind any and all notable events. In Canada we might call it acting paranoid, or being a conspiracy theorist. In Italy, apparently, it is regularly practiced around the dinner table. And it’s all fun and games, I guess, until you end up throwing innocent people in jail. During the writing of The Monster Of Florence Spezi was arrested for either being a collaborator with the Monster or actually being the serial killer himself. Meanwhile Douglas Preston was interrogated, told to confess, threatened with arrest, and forced to leave Italy upon pain of prosecution. The Monster Of Florence case was completely bungled. This was a clusterfuck on par with the notorious California’s McMartin preschool investigation and trial. I guess it all goes to show that police and prosecutorial incompetence is alive and well in the new and old worlds both.

Reader Dennis Boutskaris takes full control of the narrative, becoming the voice of Preston (and Spezi) for the entire audiobook. To my untrained ears his Italian accent sounded fine. The cover art, as mentioned in the audiobook, comes from a photograph of a statue in Piazza della Signoria, in Florence (The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna |JPG|). In addition, on the final disc, there is an informative interview with Douglas Preston.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Very Bad Deaths by Spider Robinson

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Very Bad Deaths by Spider RobinsonVery Bad Deaths
By Spider Robinson; Read by Spider Robinson
10 CDs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0786182431
Themes: / Science Fiction / Serial Killer / Psychic /

Many listeners don’t like it when the author narrates his own story. I’ve never understood this, especially when it comes to science fiction, which has a long history of this. Early Caedmon titles featured Frank Herbert, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov reading their own works. Live readings are common events at science fiction conventions. And I find that I usually like author-read audiobooks. The author lends an extra dimension to the reading that a third-party narrator simply can’t provide.

Every now and then you run across an author/narrator who is good enough at narrating that you’d like to see him narrate some other author’s books too. Harlan Ellison is that good, for example. And so is Spider Robinson. He reads in such a comfortable, personable way that it’s easy to imagine that this guy you know popped in for lunch and is telling you this story over the kitchen table. I enjoyed his reading so much that I wondered first how good his Callahan Chronicals would be read by him (not that Barrett Whitener did a bad job – he didn’t), and further, how Spider would be narrating another author’s work, like, say, a Heinlein novel. The answer? He’d be pretty damn good. I found myself eager to return to this audiobook every time I was forced to put it down.

Along with Russell, who is the loosely autobiographical main character, the story involves a serial killer with a fetish for inflicting pain, a psychic roommate who is appropriately named “Smelly”, and a female cop who is not a lesbian. The story flits from the past, where Russell first met Smelly, to the present, where Smelly seeks him out to tell him that he read the mind of the serial killer as he flew over his house in an airplane and they better by God do something about him.

The story is mainly about these characters going after the serial killer, having many conversations about whether they should go after him. Robinson keeps it interesting throughout, but doesn’t hesitate to move off the plot for some tangential opinion dumps, or some science fiction references, or some puns. The story moves, and is personal, enjoyable, often funny, and touching. And the bad guy is flinchingly bad. Enjoy this one.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Koko By Peter Straub

Fantasy Audiobooks - Koko by Peter StraubKoko
By Peter Straub; Read by James Woods
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published: November 1988 – Out Of Print
ISBN: 0671652397
Themes: Fantasy / Horror / Mystery / Vietnam / Serial Killer /

“Koko…” Only four men knew what it meant… Vietnam vets. One was a doctor. One was a lawyer. One was a working stiff. One was a writer. All were as different as men could be – yet all were bound eternally together by a single shattering secret.

A group of Vietnam vets flies back to Asia in search of a former member of their old unit, someone who they think may have become a serial killer, someone calling himself “Koko”. Koko’s motivation and identity are inextricably linked to their tour in ‘Nam, and specifically to one experience they all shared in a Vietnamese village. But in order to discover Koko’s true nature, a few of them may have to die.

Simon & Schuster Audio have used the same cool cover art from the paperback for this audiobook, which is great, but they’ve heavily abridged the novel, which isn’t. Thankfully, the story still works despite the abridgement, and the reader, James Woods, has the chops to become a full time narrator if that Hollywood thing doesn’t work out. Also added to the production is suitably accented music, which works well despite happening at seemingly random intervals. Peter Straub is really able to carve the words into your mind in such a way as to freak you right out of your skin. But it’s not just the words themselves; it’s the characters and the thoughts they have, and the motivations that drive them. It’s certainly a horror novel, but more in the tradition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness than Stephen King’s It. What’s really weird though is that Koko won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. Despite lacking any fantastic elements, Koko is more mystery than fantasy and more horror than fantasy. But don’t get me wrong, Koko deserved the award. It’s just that it is so far outside the boundaries of typical fantasy fiction that only a phrase like “speculative fiction” can capture it at all. Were the work not so impressive nobody would bother debating whether it was fantasy or not. It’s definitely worth the debate.

Posted by Jesse Willis