New Releases

New Releases

Audio Renaissance

Saucer: The Conquest by Stephen Coonts in both abridged and unabridged versions. This is a sequel to a novel about the discovery of a 140,000 year-old spacecraft. I missed the first one, but would like to hear if it exists on audio – Audio Renaissance does not carry it if it does. Kirkus calls Saucer “a comic, feel-good SF adventure.”

First Meetings in the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card, read by Gabrielle de Cuir, Amanda Karr, and Stefan Rudnicki

I’m a fan of Orson Scott Card’s Ender novels, so this was a real treat. It contains 4 stories, one of which is the original Ender’s Game novella, the others stories from various places on the Ender timeline. All of Card’s unabridged Ender novels are being re-released by Audio Renaissance.

Saturn by Ben Bova, read by Amanda Karr and Stefan Rudnicki and others

Here’s the latest of Ben Bova’s Solar System novels. I’ve heard Mars and Return to Mars, but I’m not sure how these novels are related to this one, Venus and Jupiter.

Blackstone Audio

Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven

I talked a bit about this last month, but it was really released in September, so here it is again.

Adventures in Time and Space with Max Merriwell by Pat Murphy

I’ve got this one in my to-be-heard pile and I’m eager to get to it. I know very little about Pat Murphy, but I see she won a Nebula Award for the novel The Falling Woman, which I don’t think is available on audio.

Jesse: Pat Murphy won a hugo and a nebula for a short story called “Rachel In Love”, which is a love story from the point of view of a chimpanzee. It’s been recorded a couple of times. There was also a single cassette collection of her short stories published by Durkin Hayes called “Points Of Departure”.

Brilliance Audio

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, read by Jim Dale

I’m starting to see this one everywhere, but haven’t received any feedback from anyone on it. It’s aimed at the YA market – 9-12 year-olds – and is a prequel to Peter Pan. I may have to listen just to hear another Jim Dale performance. There’s an audio sample on Brilliance’s website.

Free Reads

James Patrick Kelly adds three more stories to Free Reads, a section of his site where you can download free audiobooks (MP3 format) of his stories. Included now are “Faith”, “The Best Christmas Ever”, and “Serpent”.

Jesse: This is an awesome value – cool and funny stories read by James Patrick Kelly and all it costs you is guilt if you don’t donate something to his future recording fund.

Harper Audio

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman

This is an hour-long CD that contains readings of some children’s books by Neil Gaiman. Included are: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Wolves in the Walls, Cinnamon, and Crazy Hair.

Jesse: Looking forward to this collection. I was worried this was just another repackaging of Coraline and the two Seeing Ear pieces. Glad to see it is all new to audio!

Paperback Digital

As reported here early this month, Paperback Digital is online with two new MP3 format audiobooks for sale: Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint and 1634: The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis. I haven’t heard either of them, but they appear to be professionally done with William Dufris and Christine Marshall narrating. These books are available as downloads or on MP3-CDs.

Also from Paperback Digital is the X Minus One episode “Drop Dead” by Clifford D. Simak, which is available on, a site well-known for eBook sales. Paperback Digital is editing out commercials and doing what they can to improve the sound quality of several old radio shows. Next week they will be releasing these episodes:

The Green Hills of Earth and Destination: Moon by Robert A. Heinlein

The Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre Halloween broadcast of The War of the Worlds

The Orson Welles/Mercury Theatre broadcast of Bram Stoker’s Dracula

With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson

Colony by Philip K. Dick

The Coffin Cure and Prime Difference by Alan E. Nourse

Protective Mimicry by Algis Budrys

The Merchants of Venus by A.H. Phelps, Jr.

Jesse: Coming out of the blue as it did, Paperback Digital is the most exciting and surprising news in Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks so far this year!

Recorded Books

Swords of Night and Day, a science fantasy by David Gemmell and narrated by Christopher Kay. I’m unfamiliar with this, but it’s part of a something called the Drenai series.

Last, but certainly not least, here’s what has added in the last month, many of which were mentioned above:

An updated edition of First Meetings by Orson Scott Card

Saucer: The Conquest by Stephen Coonts

Saturn by Ben Bova

High Druid of Shannara: Tanequil by Terry Brooks

Dune: The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Ringworld’s Children by Larry Niven

Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card

The Dragon’s Son by Margaret Weis

Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2) by Lynn Flewelling

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

Several titles from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series

Bimbos of the Death Sun and Zombies of the Gene Pool by Sharyn McCrumb

Titles from the Wingman series by Mack Maloney

Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud

Titles from the Deathstalker collection by Simon R. Green

Collections of Arthur C. Clarke’s stories (The Nine Billion Names of God, The Songs of Distant Earth, etc.)

Wow! An excellent month for science fiction audio. Happy listening!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb

Bimbos of the Death Sun
By Sharyn McCrumb; read by Ruth Ann Phimister
4 Cassettes – 6 Hours /[UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 1999
ISBN: 0788768867
Themes: / Science Fiction Convention / Mystery / Humor / Fandom /

“A quaint airport hotel hosts an SF convention that is positively swarming with sword and sorcery aficionados, unfortunately the guest of honor is found with a bullet through his cold little heart. Its obvious who did it, its author, Sharyn McCrumb”*
-Commander Rick, Prisoners Of Gravity

Appin Dungannon, the guest of honor at RubiCon, a regional science fiction convention has been murdered. He had written a seemingly endless, and highly profitable, series of swords-and-sorcery novels about a Celtic warrior with a magic sword. He had spent every moment at this particular con, and many previous, making a general nuisance of himself and ridiculing his own fans and the costume contest entrants. So its no real wonder that he wound up dead. The only question is ‘who did it?’ With so many suspects how can the murder be solved? After all the police don’t know the terrain, they don’t understand Klingon! Thankfully, Jay Omega, an engineering professor at a local university and author of the lamentably titled “Bimbos of The Death Sun” is up to the task of separating the murderers from the mere nerds.

First published in 1988, the computer technology references, like everyone still using floppy diskettes (!), is the only thing that really dates this funny novel.

Billed as a murder mystery satire, Bimbos of the Death Sun does have those elements. But considering the murder takes place more than half way through the book and the requisite whodunit scenes aren’t the primary focus even after the late murder, I see it more as straight satire of the convention culture that fans of fantasy and science fiction have built for themselves. For those interested, in such a straight mystery with a comedic touch I highly recommend you check out Isaac Asimov’s much underrated Murder At The ABA. Bimbos though, does have a few of the murder mystery necessities – like the very Rex Stoutish ‘I suppose your wondering why I’ve gathered you all here’ scene, but even then it does take place over a game of Dungeons and Dragons. McCrumb, an Edgar award winner, apparently got a strong negative reaction to the novel from what she calls “the sort of person who has a degree in physics and works at McDonalds, but its okay because on weekends he’s a Viking warrior.”* I can kind of see why though, she’s pretty ruthless – exposing the extreme geekitude of many SF conventioneers, but given that she appears to be carrying an outsider’s perspective (McCrumb is mainly known as a mystery author) its surprising just how accurately she’s portrayed the atmosphere of a con. I think she’s a little too familiar with the convention mindset to be entirely in contempt of it. And remember that in 1988 being a nerd wasn’t quite the same thing as being a nerd now. One other minor worry is that for such a short novel, a mere 6 hours (224 pages), the many character perspectives would seem to hamper the mystery elements, and I suppose it would if I were to critique it as a murder mystery alone it would be a concern. A mystery fan alone may have felt cheated, as a fan of both mysteries, science fiction, and its satirization, I didn’t.

Bimbos comes on four cassettes and packaged in the “Collector’s Edition,” an affordably priced, lightweight packaging that’s durable enough for a private collection but not durable enough for a library. A clear plastic sheet protects the printed insert containing the original cover art, which depicts the in-novel described cover art of Jay Omega’s own novel. Such touches are much appreciated by collectors like myself and Recorded Books has always been the standard bearer for outstanding original cover art on audiobooks.

Bimbos is full of jokes and comedic commentaries of fannish behavior, there’s plenty of fun for narrator Ruth Ann Phimister to play with. Her performance, including a funny Scottish accent, was always most appropriate and always in tone with the mood of the text, a lighthearted performance of a lighthearted visit to a fictional SF convention. I truly look forward to her reading of the sequel, entitled Zombies Of The Gene Pool, which is also available from Recorded Books.

* Quotations taken from Prisoners Of Gravity episode on “S.F. Mysteries”.

Posted by Jesse Willis