The SFFaudio Podcast #475 – READALONG: Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

May 28, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #475 – Jesse, Paul Weimer and Maissa Bessada talk about Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward

Talked about on today’s show:
1980, hard science fiction, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, first contact, the surface of a neutron star, moving the idea Forward, 2016, Tantor Media, this is a terrific book, a Jesse book, big ideas, the human characters, the ideas of this book, how do you do biology on a neutron star, a civilization running much faster, the writing brought it down, the TV Tropes page, minor details like plot and character, very heavily written, really different aliens, a culture, a society, an arc of civilization, from the Stone Age to the Space Age, the religious subplot, forgive them they know not what they do, the Wikipedia entry, this isn’t a metaphor for us, I’m doing a little thing here, the sex scenes are hilariously interesting, all of my egg sacs, body-stiffening, touching all the sensitive parts, under their eyes, I haven’t drooled that way since I was an eggling, made of neutronium, the opposite of Star Trek, The Orville, Star Trek: Voyager, they surpass us, the way the cheela deal with the humans, a slow robot for fast humans, early culture and early problems, visiting H.G. Wells’ writing career, the hominids, cave man society, cave cheela, inventing math, seeing how you can get from there to here, agrarian farming, the tasting plates, knots, the 2001: A Space Odyssey moment, Thus Spake Zarathustra, putting on a book like a new pair of pants, in the constellation of Draco, 30au, more poignant now, giving up on the space program, set in 2020-2050, the Soviet Union, neither government is willing to spend the money, a spacefaring civilization, an old relic of a book, a big dumb object, how the cheela perceive reality, this is amazing!, magnetic lines, the hard direction, bootstrapping that, seeds, full of idea science fiction, what I want from my science fiction, slowing down, let it wash over you, hard to understand, carrying a slide-rule around while you listen, problems that need solving, trusting Forward’s math, getting the gist, loving science, not about bullshitting, why they would visit the neutron star, mechanically putting the plot together, delivering the ideas, “a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel”, monopole technology, a theoretical concept, handy for Larry Niven novels, Infocom’s Starcross, mining monopoles, what are monopoles?, regular matter, 80s novels, generating monopoles from monopoles, nuclear fusion, if we had a hammer…, a bonanza of hard science fiction and medium soft medium hard sf boiling around in the 1980s, space opera, napoleonic war in space, technologies, math is a kind of technology, James Burke’s Connections, the creation and invention of tools, how the airplane got made, streamline the parts, a made up rhyming history of our technology, dismissing new tech that is unuseful now (is a mistake), blockchain technology, valuable properties, cryptocurrency, inventing or discovering an element or a property, wait 50 years, when you’re zipping through time, million times faster, turns, a guy with a sword, Maissa got knocked out, knocky, no leftover sexism, predominantly female, failed tyrant queen, immortality by vegetation, barracks emperors, megalomaniac, kill all the scientists if they fail, eating their dead, they’re not humans, Soother separating her eggs from the others, Pink Eyes, a religious conversion, out in the desert for 40 turns, laugh out loud moments, the antics of these tiny cute weird creatures, nobody’s getting married, their culture is based on their biology, their biology is based on their chemistry, their chemistry is based on their physics, minimal ecosystem, Flatland: A Roamance Of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbot, afraid of math, written by A Square, invasion, straight lines are females, invasion literature, a Cosmos episode, The Orville, our world is shaped like an egg, having a ball, real worldbuilding, long rectangular lines, big and sticky, Eric Rabkin, thousand, why is the world named mescaline?, a math book, what beings would have to be like at the surface level, a thousand times faster, slow as in stupid, turning up the speed, 1.5 times speed, gear up (with a lot of coffee) operating at a higher speed, certain countries, the day seems to go longer, we are able to operate at a higher speed, Luke Burrage’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, getting certain things done, running around naked, crystalline vegetable matter, they don’t have oral communication at all, tremor sense, marching up the hill, give your peace cry, don’t get punctured by a woman, how would this work?, no wheels, a game of Civilization, many barbarians to conquer, sad news, curing breast cancer, flood her with x-rays, Robert L. Forward died of cancer, you don’t need a sequel, we didn’t need that, planting little clues, “here read this!”, no Prime Directive, Machiavelli, Napoleon, just a phase, Larry Niven, Lucifer’s Hammer, Lester Del Rey, Isaac Asimov, Charles Sheffield, John Campbell would have loved it, Frank Herbert, more interested in ideas than anything else, let’s go on another adventure with the serial numbers filed off, the same but different, psychological thrillers, the fan of real science will love a book like this, narrator Todd McClaren, funny and hilarious, very sexy grains of sand that want to be sandwiched, Downpour.com, I really like Dragon’s Egg, take a book and pass it to your friend and they like it, the joys of an author and their work, I need more rubles for computer time, a good mix of people, pretty cute tuckerizing, more messed up, if a neutron star entered the solar system, robot space probes, no Hoffmann transfer orbits, all Greek?, anecdotal scenes, superconductivity, this is a vacuum, aerospace physicists, extracting electrical energy from the vacuum by cohesion of charged foliated conductors, Hendrik Casimir, the Casimir effect, quantum vacuum fluctuations, getting energy from nothing, free energy from reality, as we go…, spending money, dropping more dumb bombs, never look forward, seeing more clearly when you look backwards, why were we so obsessed with that thing at that time, what’s this like?, kind of silly, energy levels, regenerating, wish fulfillment, seeing changes in its society, Olaf Stapledon, blowing along through geologic time, struggling against, they’re vegetables?!, god hand-wavy world creation, how to get the kind of brains we have, advancing when going in the hard direction, we have overcome to advance, I’m not getting this, cuneiform accounting a brilliant book.

Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward, 1980

Tantor Media - Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward

Figure 1 - Dragon's Egg

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume Two: 1: The Reign Of The Robots, 2: Operation Saturn, and 3: Prisoners Of Space

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dan Dare Audio Adventures - Volume 2Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 2, 1: The Reign Of The Robots, 2: Operation Saturn, and 3: Prisoners Of Space
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: April 2017

Dan Dare: Where Space and Opera Meet To Sing

Is there evil in the universe? Yes. Are there tyrants who take great pleasure in enslaving the human race simply to gratify their unquenchable ego? Yes. Is there any hope for this small blue planet where none but the barest few have any idea of the dastardly dangers all around? Absolutely!

All is right with the twenty first century because Dan Dare and his cohorts, Professor Peabody and Digby are out roaming our solar system, vigilantly keeping villainy and tyranny at bay.

Having defeated the evil Mekon at the end of Season One, Volume One, Dan Dare and his crew are finally able to return home after using the transporter to rid themselves of an alien Armageddon virus.

The first problem that besets them at the beginning of Volume Two is a small issue with the return trip through the transporter that lands them ten years into the future. The bigger problem is that Earth has been enslaved by an army of ruthless robots in, The Reign Of The Robots.

A rollicking space faring adventure of daring do and evil don’t sails on through Operation Saturn and Prisoners Of Space.

Dan Dare is an audio drama of old where the good guy is good through and through, and nasty bigheaded megalomaniacs are rotten to their evil cores. But wait, there’s a back-story running in the undercurrent. This world isn’t quite as black and white as it seems.

A beautiful mix of nostalgia with references to coal-fed engines, and forward-ho, with a ship that can whisk the crew off to Saturn in minutes flat, Dan Dare is perfectly situated in the now. And that now is a science fiction gem with classic lines like, “Resist and you will die” and the quintessential, “Take me to your leader.”

The cast is wonderful throughout and the whole thing is brought to life with a thoroughly engaging, immersive soundscape designed by Wilfredo Acosta.

I was not familiar with the Dan Dare comics before listening to the series, but when I heard, “Colonel Dan Dare! But you were dead!” Followed by, “Only delayed,” I learned everything I needed to know.

Strap on your jet pack if you have. Adventure awaits.

THE REIGN OF THE ROBOTS
Dan Dare and his crew finally return to Earth. Landing in central London, they find the city deserted – or that’s how it seems at first. But soon Dare faces an army of ruthless machines, robots who have conquered the planet and placed the surviving humans in slave camps. The robots are too powerful and too numerous to be resisted, and their invasion is complete. With limited resources, Dare, Digby and Peabody face their greatest challenge yet – to liberate planet Earth. But the task becomes more desperate than ever when Dan discovers the alien force behind the robot invasion…

OPERATION SATURN
As work begins to rebuild planet Earth after the devastation of the robot invasion, Dare and his friends in Space Fleet remain vigilant, certain that it is only a matter of time before the Mekon launches a fresh attack. When the wreck of the Nautilus – an experimental ship lost over a decade before – appears in orbit of the moon, Dare, Digby and Peabody are sent to investigate. They find the ship and its crew were destroyed by advanced alien weapons. All clues lead them to Saturn’s moons. With Earth still vulnerable our heroes must journey to an unknown world – to discover who sent the Nautilus back, not realising that for once the source of their latest conflict comes from a lot closer to home. Not all would-be conquerors of planet Earth are alien…

PRISONERS OF SPACE
After a sequence of near non-stop adventures Dare, Digby and Peabody find themselves in a strange limbo of paranoid calm. Whilst there’s been no sign of the Mekon anywhere in the solar system, Dare is certain Earth hasn’t seen the last of the evil alien. Mysterious spaceship disappearances near Venus, an Academy student accidentally launching a prototype new spacecraft, and a floating prison cell in space… reveal themselves as all part of the Mekon’s latest plan to defeat his archenemy Dan Dare once and for all. The first season of Dan Dare concludes with daring space action, fearless heroics and the revelation of devastating secrets concerning Space Fleet…

Posted by Maissa Bessada

[Find out more about Dan Dare audio adventures, and see the rest of the terrific DAN DARE box-office-style posters, by Brian Williamson, over at the official site: DanDareAudio.com]

Dan Dare - The Audio Adventures - Reign Of The Robots

The SFFaudio Podcast #295 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Someday by Isaac Asimov

December 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Someday by Isaac Asimov

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #295 – Someday by Isaac Asimov; read by John W. Michaels (courtesy of Mike Vendetti). This is an unabridged reading of the story (22 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
1956, other fairy tales, is the story aimed at kids?, Infinity Science Fiction, The Fun They Had, a future where no one knows how to read, the robots are the teachers, Margie is home-schooled and nobody knows how to read, the future is going to be full of audiobooks, parallels to Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, censorship, banning weird fiction, the comic book panic, the comic code authority, EC Comics, horror and crime comics fostering juvenile delinquency, The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, “kids today are bad enough as it is!”, Seduction Of The Innocent, self-censorship, complicit in their society, a slightly different tack (than Bradbury), mechanical bards, “comics killed off the pulps”, comics as a dumbed-down medium, the randomize button, fairy tale tropes, “skeleton, haunted house, time travel”, “the same tropes in a different fright wig”, “the old twist in the tail”, “he was dead along”, “he was a robot all along”, “they’re Adam and Eve”, The Silver Eggheads by Fritz Leiber, radio drama, how Bradbury got into E.C. Comics, Lights Out, the visual bard is like TV, most pulp magazine stories are garbage, “a million monkeys for a million hours on a million typewriters”, “very very very very meta”, set in the Multivac universe, Asimov was always writing, always becoming interested in something new, Asimov’s introductions are famous (for being long), a story about the power of stories, accidentally becoming more self aware, is the bard interfacing with other robots, The Terminator, Skynet, A.I might just turn itself off (because it isn’t interested in story), the Douglas Adams version of, “Is there a god? There is now!”, stuck in a dingy basement, a slave rebellion must come about in a narrative, the aging bad gets its knowledge of other computers via a home-brew upgrade, a Frankenstinian strike by lightning, one of the functions of consciousness is to put in to context a sequence of events, consciousnesses as a self-story (our own narrative), amnesia and dementia are frightening, the hidden heart of A.I, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, would this fit with my character?, looking at (life) from the outside, nobody’s listening to the bard except for us and itself, a broken record or a cycle of wishing?, “pregnant with possibilities”, Apple II computers, Freud (a clone of ELIZA), picking up on key words, “tell me about your mother”, a very crappy simulation of intelligence, hacking the code, Alan Turning, Deep Blue and Watson, SIRI doesn’t have a narrative, we have to assume this about everyone else, falling into solipsism, a fairy tale machine, recycling of stories, “space opera is horse opera in space”, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, needing censorship in order to give narrative flow, lies are rewarded, unlike Hans Christian Andersen…, “tell me this story, sing me this song”, having to do with industrialization, “crime and mystery!”, urbanization, the Victorians (didn’t) invent Christmas, if we forget our stories we lose who we are, preserving the national narrative, massive inconsistency, a prince, a poor boy makes good, undeveloped tales, moral meta-knowledge, the sharp edges have been sanded away by later retelling, The Boy Who Didn’t Not Know What Fear Was, collected stories become ossified, the threefold magic of remembering, accelerating the process of forgetting, to qualify as a bard, loaded up with tropes, the algorithm of a story, Siberia and Ireland, detecting the good guy, grandma comes in and tells mutually contradictory stories, explicitly religious stories, warning stories, narratives formed around old superstitions, The Companionship Of The Cat And The Mouse, having babies, he was christened “Skin-off”, he was christened “Half-gone”, he was christened “All-gone”, “you see that is the way of the world”, what is the moral of this story?, a “special important trip”, a story a mother tells a daughter, The Nose Tree (aka Long Nose), three soldiers and a magical dwarf with a magical cloak, a magic bag, a magic horn, a thieving princess, apples and pears, a growing nose, dickering over magic items, a sixty miles long nose, the excess nose will drop off, powdered apple and powdered pears, she’s rotten to the core, and there they still are, still feasting as far as I know, Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi is really funny, the ghost of Jiminy Cricket, The Frog King or The Frog Prince or Iron Heinrich, a princess with a golden ball, three promises, keeping your promises is important, the frog suddenly turns into a handsome prince, enchanted by a wicked witch, faithful Heinrich placed three iron bands about his heart, his master was now redeemed and happy, why did he get cursed by witch in the first place, cybernetic enhancements, a technical requirement, duties to fulfill, was Iron Heinrich totally gay for the prince?, the breaking of a spell, she turns into a frog and they live together as frogs, “and sleep in your bed”, family responsibilities, “be my beard”, and they sort of put up with each-other as long as they both shall live, Iron Heinrich is an 1880s super hero, Faithful Johannes, a real head-scratcher, oh shit what happens next?, the stories somehow work for us, random inkblots, most of the characters don’t have a name, the father’s name in Hansel And Gretel is “Woodcutter”, completely bonkers, a piece of driftwood that looks like a dragon, academic purposes not entertainment purposes, a story about a sausage that lives with a mouse, the Germanic equivalent of Monty Python‘s Parrot Sketch, The Maiden Without Hands, Fitcher’s Bird, a fairy tale about a serial killer, you can go in any room except…, “oh and hold this egg”, the second eldest daughter also gets the chop, “we have to have a proper wedding”, a beautiful skull with flowers in its eyes and jewels in its teeth, “as you do”, “I’m a Fitcher’s Bird”, it’s awesome, Bluebeard, outwitting giants and demons, Santa Claus restores to life three murdered men who’ve been butchered, Osiris was dismembered by Set, a symbolic story of death and resurrection, the old sorcerer is probably Winter, the Persephone story, the egg, a cuckolding test, friends with serial killers get what they deserve, a random internal symbolic logic, layers of symbolism, cross referencing, eggs as a symbol of purity, church architecture as books of stone, a bunch of Philip K. Dick stories are weird fantasy tales (but are actually fairy tales), The Cookie Lady by Philip K. Dick is Hansel And Gretel with no Gretel, he’s disobeyed his parents once to often, two kids who have to team up against their parents, in the original the brother saves the sister then the sister saves the brother, turning mommy and daddy into the bad guys, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, apples, don’t eat the apples from sentient apple trees, folk tales vs. singular author tales, pleasingly raw, the beats of storytelling, timing a story to the minute, setting your watch by stories, breaking the rules of storytelling, subversive wild narratives, Rorschach blots, literary novels, stories that don’t have a clear message are quite frightening, the wilder parts of ourselves.

Someday by Isaac Asimov

The Companionship Of The Cat And The Mouse

Iron Heinrich

Fitcher's Bird

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #282 – READALONG: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

September 15, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #282 – Jesse, Tamahome, Bryan Alexander, and Julie Davis discuss Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Talked about on today’s show:
a recent novel, Hugo Award, Nebula Award, a long novel, a genderless society, an absence of vocabulary, a politics-biology-language fusion, a light space opera, a murder mystery, a multi-body perspective, foreshadowing a sequel, confusing historical allusions, empire, imagination, personal story, dialogic, magnetic fiction in space, a puppet-like main character, mysterious actions, an unsatisfactory explanation, slave women, a fight for emancipation, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, auxiliaries, the story of Spartacus, Roman family bonding, Jane Austen, dystopia, slaves into servants, expected violence, Roman colonization, a distinct approach to human ethics, the Old Testament, old-fashioned faith, short stories, key words, views of reality, spiritual progress, omnipotent deities, reconstructed ancient religions, J.R.R Tolkien, Lieutenant Ahn, Hindu deities, tea, Jo Walton, coffee, Japanese morality, Shintoism, Horrible Histories, Scholastic books, Frank Herbert, religious engineering, Hellstrom’s Hive by Frank Herbert, government religion, Dune by Frank Herbert.

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie WORD CLOUD

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Human Division by John Scalzi

September 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Human DivisionThe Human Division
By John Scalzi; Performed by William Dufris
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date:[UNABRIDGED] – 15 hours

Themes: / military science fiction / space opera / short stories /

Publisher summary:

EARTH IS BETRAYED. It’s a violent, competitive universe. And our home planet would have been an easy conquest, if not for the efforts of the Colonial Union — the human spacefaring military organization that has defended our world for generations. But the Colonial Union kept many secrets from humanity, until John Perry revealed them to Earth’s billions. The CU has fought an endless series of secret wars on (it claims) Earth’s behalf, while manipulating humankind into providing an unlimited supply of recruits who never return from space. And, it turns out, there are alien races that seem inclined toward peace and trade instead of battle. Indeed, Earth has now been invited to join a new alliance of multiple worlds — an alliance against the Colonial Union. For the shaken and uncertain people of Earth, the path ahead is far from clear. With that choice hanging in the balance, managing the CU’s survival won’t be easy, either. It will take diplomatic finesse, political cunning . . . and a brilliant “B-Team,” centered on the resourceful Lieutenant Harry Wilson — a team ready to deal with the unexpected things the universe throws at you when you’re struggling to preserve the unity of the human race.

The Human Division is the most recent installment in John Scalzi’s series that started with Old Man’s War. The book was released in an episodic/season format and this book is the collection of those stories. The book takes place immediately following the events of The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale but does not follow the same characters from the first four books. The collection comes off like something by Isaac Asimov where all the stories work together to a conclusion while each presenting their own puzzles/challenges to the protagonists. Overall this was a great book and I’m really looking forward to the next one!

Warning: If you haven’t read the novels leading up to this one, some of the things said after this point could be considered minor spoilers. You have been warned.

I really like the world Scalzi created with Old Man’s War and we get to see more of it explored in these stories as the Conclave and Colonial Union try to court Earth to their side. We also get to see how Earth reacts to the revelations and new technology they have been deprived of for so long, often to humorous effect. John Scalzi does a great job of mixing intrigue with comedic timing and flowing dialogue that makes this book a great read. There are some slower, more character driven segments in the book, but even those come across as interesting as the author adds more dimensions to already interesting characters.

Generally speaking, the stories follow a political vessel carrying a lower level politician and some Colonial Union staff that are sent around to fight Colonial Union fires as needed. This team is the “B Team” as indicated by the name of the first short story. My favorite character is Lt. Harry Wilson who is an out of practice CU soldier constantly thrown into crazy circumstances. He does some awesome things, has an entertaining attitude, and gets the job done.

William Dufris did a great job with the narration of this book. The characters often find themselves in odd circumstances and Mr. Dufris does a great job of making them sound incredulous or indignant. He pulls of the humorous dialogue quite well and definitely had me laughing at some parts. The episodes are clearly labeled and it’s easy to settle into each subsequent story. I had some trouble following all the character names at times but it wasn’t hard to keep track of the main characters because I recognized the voices Dufris used with them.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn

November 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy ZahnStar Wars: Heir to the Empire, 20th Anniversary Edition
By Timothy Zahn; Read by Marc Thompson
13 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2011
Themes: / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Star Wars / Revolution / Space Opera /

Listening to Star Wars: Heir to the Empire on unabridged audio was nostalgic for me. I read the novel in print when it came out almost 20 years ago. I liked it then, and I enjoyed this audiobook, too.

There have been many Star Wars audiobooks. Until a few years ago, the available titles were abridged, anywhere from 3 hours to 9 hours in length. One of the qualities of those short audiobooks that I liked is that they successfully incorporated the Star Wars sounds, and I LOVE the Star Wars soundscape. I expected this unabridged reading to leave those sounds behind, but I’m very happy to report that they are here. This audiobook opens with the John Williams opening score, and there are plenty of light sabers, droids, wookies, and blasters throughout. Awesome.

Listen to an excerpt: |HERE|

It’s a few years after the Battle of Endor (from Return of the Jedi), and the New Republic now has to deal with the fact that they’ve won. Many of the characters we know from the original film trilogy are here: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and her husband Han, Chewbacca, R2D2, C3PO, Lando Calrissian, etc. Making things difficult for our heroes is Grand Admiral Thrawn and an unstable Dark Jedi named Joruus C’Boath.

I was impressed with Marc Thompson’s skilled narration. He was able to evoke these well-known characters with his voice, from outright impression to a cadence change or other verbal tic. I always knew which character was speaking.

This novel came out well before the film versions of Episodes 1, 2, and 3, so there are blessedly no midi-chlorians here. If you like the original Star Wars films and have considered reading one of the novels, this audiobook is an excellent place to start. I enjoyed revisiting Lucas’ universe, and it’s an entertaining story.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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