Free Audiobooks for a Summer Roadtrip

SFFaudio Online Audio

Free Listens BlogAccording to the Triple-A, over 31 million Americans will travel by road this Memorial Day weekend. If you’re one of those, you might want to bring along an audiobook or two to keep you company on the Interstate. Long drives are a great time to take in an audiobook, but also require a specific type of book. The plot has to be exciting enough to hold your interest on boring stretches of the Interstate, but simple enough that you can still pay attention to the traffic. Since you’ll be spending most of your money on gas, you might want to save your vacation budget by going with a free downloadable audiobook. I’ve come up with 5 recommendations for free road trip Science Fiction and Fantasy audiobooks:

* Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell – This novel, published by Podiobooks, tells the story of Ishmael, a new crewmember on a space freighter. The story and gentle didactic tone reminded me of classic adolescent science fiction like Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein.

* Trunk & Disorderly by Charles Stross – Stross reads his own work here in a novellette made available by Subterrannean Press. The story is a hilarious re-imagining of the Wooster and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse, but set in a futuristic universe. Not recommended for children.

* The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle – In probably the greatest Sherlock Holmes novel, Holmes and Watson confront a demonic hellhound threatening the life of their client. John Telfer performs a marvelous array of British accents in this excellent recording. Project Gutenberg provides two duplicate copies of the files: one at 11 kHz and a higher-quality version at 22 kHz.

* The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Even if you or your children have the movie memorized, the original book is worth a listen. J. Hall narrates the book in this LibriVox offering with a pleasant American accent that would be at home on NPR.

* Red Panda Adventures by Decoder Ring Theatre – Okay, so this one’s not technically an audiobook. The folks at Decoder Ring Theater produce an excellent show in old-time radio style about the adventures of a pair of wisecracking masked heroes. Download several episodes to fit the length of your trip.

Posted by Seth (Listener of the Free Listens blog)

FREE Neil Gaiman short story A Study In Emerald

SFFaudio Online Audio

A wonderful gift from Harper Audio! A FREE Hugo Award winning (2004) Neil Gaiman short story, A Study In Emerald, it comes from Neil Gaiman’s collection entitled Fragile Things

Fantasy audiobook - short story - A Study In Scarlet by Neil GaimanA Study in Emerald
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Neil Gaiman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: November 2007
Alluding to both the Sherlock Holmes canon and the Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos, this Hugo Award winning short story will delight fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, and of course, Neil Gaiman. A Study in Emerald draws listeners in through carefully revealed details as a consulting detective and his narrator friend solve the mystery of a murdered German noble. But with its subtle allusions and surprise ending, this mystery hints that the real fun in solving this case lies in imagining all the details that Gaiman doesn’t reveal, and challenges listeners to be detectives themselves.

Posted by Jesse Willis

A plethora of pleasures from BBC7


BBC 7's The 7th DimensionThe next will be one of the busiest weeks ever heard on BBC7, with dramatizations and readings galore! Thankfully, all will be available through the BBC7 ‘listen again’ service. There are two novels by John Wyndham, a vintage Sherlock Holmes vs. vampire story (there have been severals by many hands over the years) as well as a rebroadcast of a popular new original drama (fans of which will be pleased to hear that a second series is set to air in early 2008)…

By Ben Moor; Performed by a full cast
5 Broadcast (5 Episodes) – [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Sundays at 6pm and midnight (for 5 weeks)
Edna Turner has just moved to London to work on a listings magazine and is naturally excited. Her boss is the friendly Carlo and while her bedsit isn’t exactly a palace, she gets down to work. An encounter at a music club with the strange Tankerton Slopes leads her to travel to the bizarre parallel city of “Undone” and a mission to send radical TV developer Marlboro Fagpacket back home. Read more about Undone on Ben Moor’s site.

A “gripping dramatisation by John Constable”, first broadcast in 1998 airs this Saturday…

Radio Drama - BBC7 - ChockyChocky
Based on the novel by John Wyndham; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC7
Broadcast: Saturday @ 12pm (rerun @ 1am) UK Time
Many children have imaginary friends but one father becomes rather concerned that his son, Matthew, is a bit old to have one. His concerns deepen as his son becomes increasingly distressed and blames it on arguments with this unseen companion. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the friend is far from imaginary, but is an alien consciousness residing inside Matthew’s mind—a fact that is of intense interest to shadowy government forces.

First broadcast on Saturday Night Theatre back in 1981…

Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula (AKA The Case of the Sanguinary Count)
Based on a novel by Loren D. Estleman; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC7
Broadcast: Sunday at 10am and 8pm
Doctor Watson’s account of how the great detective Sherlock Holmes battled the evil forces of Count Dracula.

A “chilling” 1982 production that first aired on BBC Radio World Service…

Radio Drama - BBC7 - The Midwich CuckoosThe Midwich Cuckoos
Based on the novel by John Wyndham; Performed by a full cast
3 Parts – [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Wednesday – Friday at 6pm and midnight
Another alien impregnation theme – but this is where it all started – a sleepy English village may be the birthplace for the end of the world.

A season of four tales from around the world exploring the weird and the wonderful, first broadcast as a special commission on BBC 7 earlier this year…

Fantastic Tales – Hell Screen
By Ryunosuke Akutagawa; Read by Togo Igawa
2 Parts – [UNABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Monday – Tuesday at 6.30pm and 12.30am
A horror story set in medieval Japan in which a powerful Lord clashes with an arrogant painter, leading to tragedy.

Fantastic Tales – Alarm Clock On The Night Table
By Zoran Zivkovic; Read by Anna Massey
1 Broadcast – [UNABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Wednesday at 6.30pm and 12.30am
An unusual occurrence forces an elderly woman to confront a tragedy from her past.

Fantastic Tales – The White People
By Arthur Machen; Read by Ioan Meredith and Louise Collins
1 Broadcast – [UNABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Thursday at 6.30pm and 12.30am
An intriguing tale which explores the nature of good and evil and the origins of sin.

Fantastic Tales – Delhi
By Vandana Singh; Read by Shiv Grewal
1 Broadcast – [UNABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC7 / The 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Friday at 6.30pm and 12.30am
A man living in present-day Delhi is haunted by visions of the city as it was in the past and how it will be in the future.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase Wins Audiobook of the Year

SFFaudio News

Science Fiction Audio Drama - The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Tertiary PhaseThis just in – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase was named the Audiobook of the Year by the Audio Publisher’s Association at this weekend’s Audie Awards! Congratulations to adapter/director Dirk Maggs and everyone involved with it. It’s fantastic to see a science fiction audio drama win this award. See the SFFaudio review of this title here.

In a tough Science Fiction category, the winner was Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan. Find the SFFaudio review here.

Genre winners in other categories:

Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, read by Jim Dale, Listening Library

Children’s Titles for Ages 8+
The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson, read by Patricia Conolly, Recorded Books

Solo Narration – Female
Davina Porter for A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon

Audio Drama
The Sherlock Holmes Theatre by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, performed by a cast, produced by Yuri Rasovsky, Blackstone Audio
ed – OK, this may not technically be a genre title, but most SF fans like Holmes, and Yuri Rasovsky has genre ties, including the excellent 2000X series.

Achievement in Production
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald, performed by a cast, Focus on the Family

Not a bad genre showing! Find the complete list of winners and nominees at Unfortunately, the website is a little cryptic as of this writing – to see the winners and nominees, you’ve got to download a 6Mb PDF file that is titled “The Audies Sampler”. If I can find a clean HTML list, I’ll let you know.

Click here for a complete list of Audie Award fina…

SFFaudio News

Audio Publisher's Association LogoClick here for a complete list of Audie Award finalists. The awards will be presented on May 19 in Washington, DC at the National Press Club.

In the Science Fiction category, here are the finalists:

Dragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey, Brilliance Audio

Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, Tantor Media, Inc., SFFaudio Review forthcoming

Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card, Audio Renaissance, SFFaudio Review

The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein, Full Cast Audio, SFFaudio Review

The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold, Blackstone Audiobooks, SFFaudio Review

In other categories, Campbell Scott received a nomination for his narration of The Shining by Stephen King. A marvelous audiobook, that is – click here for the review. And I was pleased to see Blackstone’s The Sherlock Holmes Theater get a nomination in the Audio Drama category.

Good luck to all the nominees!

On a side note, I was very pleased to serve as one of the judges for this year’s awards, though I was not given the Science Fiction category.

Review of Sci-Fi Private Eye edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Sci-Fi Private Eye edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. GreenbergSci-Fi Private Eye
Edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg; Read by Bill Fantini and Nelson Runger
4 cassettes – 6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dercum Audio
Published: August 1997
ISBN: 155656273X
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mystery / Utopia / Dystpoia / Sherlock Holmes / Mars / Berzerker / Time Travel / Artificial Intelligence / Covert Warfare /

Decades ago, SF grandmaster Isaac Asimov noted the similarity between detective “whodunit” stories and science fiction “puzzle” stories. Avoiding some of the obvious pitfalls, he began to write stories that contain elements of both of these popular genres. Later as an anthologist, Asimov teamed up with Martin H. Greenberg to collect the best of this subgenre. Sci-Fi Private Eye was the happy result. Though obviously not recorded under perfect conditions, you can literally hear the pages turning, I was flabbergasted by the love and care that went into the recording of this audiobook. It starts off with a haunting original musical score, then, instead of simply reading the first story, as is typical with nearly every audiobook, it introduces the anthology with a brief but well composed essay on the subject of mystery science fiction! The packaging is not as good, while in a sturdy enough case, the original cover art falls into a category I call “computer designed abstract boring”. Even worse, they spelled Asimov’s name wrong. The cassettes themselves also lack important details (what story starts where and ends where). The stories though are so good that I’ve got to summarize and review them individually:

Stories Included:
Introduction written and read by Isaac Asimov
“Getting Across” by Robert Silverberg
“The Martian Crown Jewels” by Poul Anderson
“Of The Metal Murderer” by Fred Saberhagen
“Mouthpiece” by Edward Wellen
“War Game” by Philip K. Dick

Robert Silverberg’s “Getting Across” is a terrific SF short story told in the first person. It was originally published in the anthology entitled Future City (1973). A future society is in danger. To house the engorged human race, the Earth is entirely covered by one large metropolis. But it isn’t one big city so much as it is a million city-states abutting one another. Each district has its own government, its own customs and industries, and it’s own way of life. Contact between districts is restricted and often dangerous to those who attempt it. All districts rely on a master computer program for the smooth operation of these automated communities. So when Ganfield’s master computer program is stolen, things start to deteriorate quickly. Garbage starts piling up uncollected, food stops being delivered, the climate control system stops working, and the deactivated robotic police force cannot prevent the cannibalism that is only weeks away. The man whose “month-wife” stole the program is sent to find her and bring it back. His task is nearly impossible because even if he can get out of his district getting across will only be the first hurdle. Typical of Silverberg’s great work in the 1970s.

Poul Anderson’s “The Martian Crown Jewels” was first published in A Treasury of Great Science Fiction, Vol. 1 (1959). The Martian Crown Jewels have been stolen! The theft threatens to destroy diplomatic relations between Mars and Earth. Inspector Gregg, of the Earth police force stationed on Mars, is stumped. Who can solve the baffling locked spaceship mystery and avert a galactic catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions? None other than Mars’ greatest consulting detective, Syaloch, a seven-foot feathered Martian who lives at 221B “Street of Those who Prepare Nourishment in Ovens.” Most entertaining.

Edward Wellen’s “Mouthpiece” first saw print in the pages of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine’s February 1974’s issue. Most of the stories I’ve read by Edward Wellen tend to be focused on the workings of the human mind, and this one is no exception. This one fictionalizes a fascinating historical curiosity regarding the final hours of “Dutch” Schultz and takes it just that bit farther – into artificial intelligence – leaving us pondering the nature of personality, memory and thought. It’s also a great little mystery to boot!

Fred Saberhagen’s “The Adventure Of The Metal Murderer” was first published in Omni Magazine’s January 1980 issue, and is another in Saberhagen’s long running series of Berzerker short stories. It’s a time travel story that starts in the distant future and then goes back to 19th century London, England. A clever tale that will remind you of Michael Moorcock’s “Behold The Man”.

Philip K. Dick’s “War Game” was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine’s December 1959 issue. Earth’s traditional enemy, Ganymede, is at it again. They are trying to subvert and soften up the good people of Earth by selling potentially dangerous toys and games as a prelude to invasion. One toy appears to assemble itself over time into a nuclear weapon, another convinces the user that the virtual reality he or she is in is actual reality, and a third is a harmless variation on the board game Monopoly. But the market demand for the inventive Ganymedian games is pressuring the Earth customs to clear the toys for stocking in time for Christmas. If they follow the rules only one will get through to the store shelves. Typically Dickian and thus very entertaining.

Posted by Jesse Willis