Minds Of Terminus

SFFaudio Online Audio

Minds Of TerminusMinds Of Terminus is a new audio drama podcast that seems inspired by a number of recent novels (Kiln People, Saturn’s Children). Here’s the elevator pitch:

“In the world of Terminus, technology has advanced beyond contemporary understanding or explanation. Nanotechnology is at its peak, common and ubiquitous. The fields of Artificial Intelligence and Nanorobotics have matured, and swarm intelligences maintain roads, buildings, monitor traffic, collect advertising data, nurse the sick… the applications are nearly endless. It has even become possible for a human being to upload their intelligence and personality into an artificial neural matrix. These copies, however, aren’t seen in the way that a modern-day trans-humanist from our time might regard them. For example, no one regards these mind uploads as a way to attain immortality of any kind. The original lives on, after all, and the copy is regarded as… something other than human.

Something less.

Applying advanced neuroscience, these uploaded personalities can be pruned and teased into any number of purpose-built, utilitarian shapes and designs, and this has become the preferred way to program the robotic helpers used every day in all walks of life, from heavy industrial machines to nannies.

Then one day, all of the humans are gone. The streets are quiet. The AIs begin waking up, but their masters have left them. Who and what are they, when all of the humans are gone? Are they all just bad copies of dead humans?”

Episode 1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]

Podcast feed:

http://www.mindsofterminus.com/category/podcasts/feed/

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

SFFaudio Review

Cover of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour BookstoreMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
By Robin Sloan; Read by Ari Fliakos
Audible Download – 7 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / mystery / technology / cerebral / singularity / metafiction

Every once in a blue moon, a completely off-the-radar book comes zooming in out of left field and smacks you upside the head. I love books about books and bookstores and bibliophiles, so even reading the title was like swallowing a long, curved, gleaming fishhook. The tagline yanked the hook up into my soft palate and began reeling me in:

A gleeful and exhilarating tale of global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, rollicking adventure, and the secret to eternal life – mostly set in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

The story is told from the perspective of down-on-the-heel design school graduate Clay Jannon, who lands a graveyard shift gig at the titular bookstore. Mr. Penumbra is an archetypically mysterious bookstore. Jannon soon discovers that the bookstore is merely a front for a lending library catering to a strange cult-like group of readers. Unable to contain his curiosity despite warnings from the proprietor, Clay investigates, aided in his quest by his artistic roommate, his Silicon Valley love interest, and a host of other quirky and likeable characters.

I know what you’re thinking: mysterious books, ancient cults, and a quest for eternal life–sounds like a Dan Brown novel. Not so! Where Brown’s prose is ponderous, even pompous, Sloan’s writing is equal parts wit and vigor. It often reads like early Neal Stephenson or, at its best, a timeless Neil Gaiman. Many superficial elements bear a resemblance to Brown’s work, but in the end this is a Brownian novel for true geeks. Brown’s wild, far-fetched car chases through Paris streets are replaced by equally far-fetched but far more satisfying night-time raids into a secret library with a DIY book scanner and an epic set piece data visualization scrum which takes place at Google headquarters. The novel explores areas as esoteric and diverse as typography, cloud computing, and archaeology. The real engine driving most modern mystery thrillers is action, but ideas fuel Mr. Penumbra.

Even readers like me who prefer fantasy to future tales will find something to like here, since the bibliographic mystery ultimately hinges on a trilogy of fictitious epic fantasy novels, The Dragon Song Chronicles. To say more would spoil the plot, but suffice it to say that even the most die-hard D&D player wouldn’t put down the book wholly disappointed. In one scene, the protagonist obtains a recording of the trilogy read by the author on cassette tape, and, in a nice touch that mirrors the novel’s preoccupation with metafiction, Macmillan Audio renders those particular passages in scfratchy, low-quality audio read by a narrator who stepped right out of the 1980s.

And speaking of narration, Ari Fliakos does a fine job with Mr. Penumbra. The novel is rife with obscure terminology drawing from a diverse wealth of linguistic sources, yet Fliakos makes few if any slips. His youthfully exuberent Clay and his tremulously throaty Mr. Penumbra fit the characters perfectly, as do the voices he selects for most of the other characters. A part of me wishes that Jonathan Davis had narrated this novel, since it then would have felt almost like a more upbeat Snow Crash. But that’s only wishful thinking on my part and not at all fair to Mr. Fliakos. A bad performance could have ruined this otherwise outstanding novel, but his performance does it justice.

The book isn’t perfect. The plot, while engaging, is fairly predictable and formulaic at times. I often found myself easily predicting the next twist. As so often happens in these novels, the romance didn’t quite come off as natural to me, although one could make a strong argument that Sloan intentionally made the love interest ambiguous. These are minor quibbles, however. If anything in this review strikes you as remotely interesting, you should read this book. You won’t regret it.

Posted by Seth

Coode Street podcast #113 with anthologists James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

SFFaudio Online Audio

Notes From Coode StreetJames Patrick Kelly and John Kessel came on Coode Street Podcast #113 to have a rather spirited discussion about science fiction.  They just put out a new anthology about The Singularity — Digital Rapture.  They talked about traditional (Campbellian?) sf vs ‘mainstream sf’ (see their anthology The Secret History of Science Fiction), and traditional sf vs ‘singularity sf’.  They also praised M. John Harrison’s book Light.  I’ll have to get back to that, but I found some of the characters very unlikeable.

|MP3| of the podcast episode.

Posted by Tamahome

 

Vernor Vinge interviewed on the Adventures in Scifi Publishing podcast

SFFaudio Online Audio

adventures in scifi publishingAdventures in Scifi Publishing interviews Vernor Vinge in episode 140.  You would think he would be as intense as Raymond Kurzweil, but he seems like a light and easy going guy.  Vernor describes his Zones of Thought universe.  He also likes Charles Stross’s novel Accelerando and a short story from his Toast anthology called Antibodies |Read Our Review|. His new novel The Children Of The Sky comes out this month, which is a direct (within 20 years, as opposed to the 20,000 years of the prequel A Deepness In The Sky) sequel to A Fire In The Deep.  Vernor also mentions (at 34 min) one of Poul Anderson’s Dominic Flandry books where three species form a single mind (The Rebel Worlds according to this)

Rss feed:  http://feeds.feedburner.com/adventuresinscifipublishing

|MP3|

Posted by Tamahome

On Spec: Sticky Wonder Tales by Hugh A.D. Spencer

SFFaudio Online Audio

On Spec MultimediaSticky Wonder Tales
By Hugh A.D. Spencer; Dave Nichol and Hugh A.D. Spencer
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: On Spec Magazine
Published: Fall 2006
You have to love a story that opens with: “Squiffy: Sorry to hear about the bowel infection. Even sorrier to hear that itâs one of the intelligent ones.” Through a series of back and forth letters, we follow the evolution of two brothers who, via government sponsorship, undergo physiological and mental changes in order to understand alien telepathy or technology. Stephen is busy turning into an alien turtle with an IQ of 350. Andrew grows breathing pores and tendrils that link him to an alien ship’s software. Neither foresees what happens when government mavens cut their programs. By the end of the story, a worse fate than being shelved looms on their horizon.

[via BoingBoing]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #008

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #008 – here there be podcasts – we’ve adorned ourselves in too much gold, now we can’t move! So join us on our 8th show, where we’re always etymologically correct.

Scott: Oh ya right. I just forgot something man. Uh, before we dock, I think we ought to discuss the bonus situation.

Jesse: Right.

Scott: We think… we think we deserve full shares.

Jesse: Right.

Scott: Pass the cornbread.

Topics discussed include:
42Blips.com, METAtropolis, Jay Lake, John Scalzi, Elizabeth Bear, Tobias Buckell, Karl Schroeder, Mr. Spaceship, Philip K. Dick, Stefan Rudnicki, Wonder Audio, Anne McCaffrey, The Ship Who Sang, Michael Hogan, Battlestar Galactica, 18th Century Spain, Cascadia (Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and sometimes Idaho), Detroit, “Turking”, The Turk (the chess playing automaton), alternative economy, Kandyse McClure, infodump, shared world, Brandon Sanderson, hard fantasy, Elantris, Larry Niven, The Magic Goes Away, manna, unicorns, dragons, Dungeons & Dragons, Mistborn, Robert Jordan, The Wheel Of Time, Writing Excuses Podcast, Howard Tayler, SchlockMercenary.com, Dan Wells, The Dark Knight, Aural Noir, The New Adventures Of Mike Hammer, Stacy Keach, Mike Hammer, Full Cast Audio, Red Planet, Robert A. Heinlein, Bruce Coville, Mars, Heinlein’s Future History sequence, the Red Planet TV miniseries, Princess Academy, Shannon Hale, Blackstone Audio, The Collected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 1, and Volume 2, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, David Farland, Runelords, Collected Public Domain Works Of H.P. Lovecraft, LibriVox.org, October, Ray Bradbury, “Autumn ennui”, AUTHOR PAGES, LEIGH BRACKETT, FREDERIC BROWN, JAMES PATRICK KELLY, BBC7, RadioArchive.cc, Beam Me Up Podcast, MACK REYNOLDS, Robert Sheckley, Religulous, Constantine’s Sword, The Ultimate Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction: The Definitive illustrated Guide edited by David Pringle, space opera, planetary romance, Julie D., Forgotten Classics podcast, The Wonder Stick, time travel, alien intrusions, metal powers, Slan, The Demolished Man, comedic SF, aliens, artificial intelligence, “cosmic collisions”, Deep Impact, cyborgs, dinosaurs, the dying Earth, Gene Wolfe, elixir of life, immortality, Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, genetic engineering, nuclear war, overpopulation, parallel worlds, robots, androids, Joanna Russ, Ben Bova, space travel, suspended animation, teleportation, transcendence = the Singularity ?, Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke, religion, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Monica Hughes, Crisis On Conshelf Ten, Hard SF, cyberpunk, psychology, New Wave, lost races, military SF, science fantasy, shared worlds, steampunk.

Posted by Jesse Willis