Review of Saturn Run by John Sandford

SFFaudio Review

Saturn Run by John SandfordSaturn Run
By John Sandford and Ctein; Narrated by Eric Conger
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 6 October 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours, 35 minutes

Themes: / spaceship / aliens / first contact / thriller /

Publisher summary:

For fans of The Martian, an extraordinary new thriller of the future from number-one New York Times best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein.

Over the course of 37 books, John Sandford has proven time and again his unmatchable talents for electrifying plots, rich characters, sly wit, and razor-sharp dialogue. Now, in collaboration with Ctein, he proves it all once more in a stunning new thriller, a story as audacious as it is deeply satisfying.

The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope – something is approaching Saturn and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.

A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.

The race is on, and a remarkable adventure begins – an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this Earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect – and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.

You will want to love this book. And it’s easy to understand why. There’s a space race to Saturn, the promise of cool alien tech, and a whole mess of us versus them as China and America reach for the stars (sorry, but the pun had to be). The writing and story are solid. They don’t break new ground, but the read is fun, and if you experience disappointment, it’ll be due to what isn’t here rather than what is here. This is to say, you will look up after reading/listening and want more as opposed to wanting less. You will, in the end, like this book.

I wanted more character development. This could have occurred in a longer story, but as it is, the narrative feels too hurried. Yes, pacing in thrillers is essential, but this story would have benefited with more attention to character and less use of political stereotypes.

If you’re in the market for a fun and fast-paced space thriller that teases you with alien technology, I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy what Saturn Run offers. In the author’s note, it calls attention to the desire to stay as near to science as possible while projecting technology into the year 2066. And so for those of you who enjoy hard science with respect to velocity and gravity, I think you might appreciate the science presented. I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know if the technical specs discussed for one of the spaceship’s engines are accurate, but they are intriguing.

Eric Conger narrates the audiobook. Conger does a fantastic job at reading and staying out of story’s way. I highly recommend the audiobook.

The first half of this book promises more than the second half delivers. And since the fun factor is slightly more than the disappointment factor, I leave feeling mildly amused and entertained.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Stories Vol. 19

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxIt seems LibriVox has started adding a few more credits to its collections starting with this volume. Besides the narrators, this collection was created by the following LibriVox volunteers:

Book Coordinator: Gregg Margarite
Dedicated Proof-Listener: julicarter
Meta-Coordinator/Cataloging: Lucy Burgoyne

Stories new to this collection include:

Stopover by William Gerken. This is a well written but annoying story. It is one of better parapsychology short stories, but that isn’t saying much. John W. Campbell was absolutely obsessed with paraspychological ESP bunk – it makes for very repetitive reading. This story’s setting, in a post-apocalyptic USA, is vivid – and the characters are emotionally realistic -too bad about the ESP crap. Bellona Times, the narrator, has a few missteps in this one – including the reading “psi talents” as “pee-ess-eye talents.”

Something Will Turn Up by David Mason. The beatnik/hippy repairman, and his dialogue, in this tale are a real hoot. It’s more a Fantasy tale than an SF one, but its got a beatnik TV repairman so I’m still happy. Read by Bellona Times again without any serious flaws but with a few little ones here and there. Times snaps his fingers and whistles – which to me is a narrator double no-no. There’s also a word or two improperly read, notably “reversed” read as “reverse.”

The Sargasso Of Space by Edmond Hamilton. This is a fast paced space opera (and mystery) about an interplanetary spacecraft that’s run out of gas. Gregg Margarite continues to kick ass as a narrator. He’s no vocal chameleon but he’s just a few tweaks away from being a pro sounding narrator. He seems to choose some of the better stories too. I think he’s super cool. Maybe he’ll be my friend? That’d be cool.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 019Short Science Fiction Stories Vol. 19
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
Science Fiction is speculative literature that generally explores the consequences of ideas which are roughly consistent with nature and scientific method, but are not facts of the author’s contemporary world. The stories often represent philosophical thought experiments presented in entertaining ways. Protagonists typically “think” rather than “shoot” their way out of problems, but the definition is flexible because there are no limits on an author’s imagination. The reader-selected stories presented here were written prior to 1962 and became US public domain texts when their copyrights expired.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Fantastic Universe August/September 1953All Cats are Gray
By Andre Norton; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
An odd story, made up of oddly assorted elements that include a man, a woman, a black cat, a treasure—and an invisible being that had to be seen to be believed. – Under normal conditions a whole person has a decided advantage over a handicapped one. But out in deep space the normal may be reversed—for humans at any rate. First published using Norton’s Andrew North pseudonym in Fantastic Universe Science Fiction, August–September 1953.

LibriVox - Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. DickBeyond Lies The Wub
By Phillip K. Dick; Read by Tom Hackett
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
The slovenly wub might well have said: Many men talk like philosophers and live like fools. From Planet Stories July 1952.

LibriVox - The Gallery by Rog PhillipsThe Gallery
By Rog Phillips; Read by Ted Ryan
Published: June 23, 2009
Wherever he went Arthur felt the power behind the lens. – Aunt Matilda needed him desperately, but when he arrived she did not want him and neither did anyone else in his home town. From Amazing Stories January 1959.

LibriVox - The Happy Unfortunate by Robert SilverbergThe Happy Unfortunate
By Robert Silverberg; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 39 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
Dekker, back from space, found great physical changes in the people of Earth; changes that would have horrified him five years before. But now, he wanted to be like the rest—even if he had to lose an eye and both ears to do it. From Amazing Stories December 1957.

LibriVox - The Man Who Saw The Future by Edmond HamiltonThe Man Who Saw The Future
By Edmond Hamilton; Read by Xanderphilips
1 |MP3| – Approx. [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
“Jean de Marselait, Inquisitor Extraordinary of the King of France, raised his head from the parchments that littered the crude desk at which he sat. His glance shifted along the long stone-walled, torchlit room to the file of mail-clad soldiers who stood like steel statues by its door. A word from him and two of them sprang forward.” First published in Amazing Stories, October 1930. Later reprinted in the February 1961 issue of Amazing Stories.

LibriVox - A Matter Of Proportion by Anne WalkerA Matter Of Proportion
By Anne Walker; Read by Dale A. Bade
1 |MP3| – Approx. 37 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
In order to make a man stop, you must convince him that it’s impossible to go on. Some people, though, just can’t be convinced. From Astounding Science Fiction August 1959.

Astounding Stories September 1931Sargasso Of Space
By Edmond Hamilton; Read by Greg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
She was floating along the wreck-pack’s edge. Helpless, doomed, into the graveyard of space floats the wrecked freighter Pallas. From Astounding Stories September 1931.

LibriVox - Something Will Turn Up by David MasonSomething Will Turn Up
By David Mason; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
Err … maybe it had to do with this being a non-Parity universe, perhaps? Some things can’t be simply inverted, after all… From Analog February 1963.

Fantastic Universe September 1957Stopover
By William Gerken; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 23 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
What will the world be like, the day after Tomorrow, for the lonely ones who will have talents that others will half fear, half envy? William Gerken describes this strange world in which young and old will have to find new values and pursue new dreams, as they search for the answer… From Fantastic Universe September 1957.

LibriVox - Toy Shop by Harry HarrisonToy Shop
By Harry Harrison; Read by Xanderphillips
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 23, 2009
The gadget was strictly, beyond any question, a toy. Not a real, workable device. Except for the way it could work under a man’s mental skin… From Analog April 1962.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Max Warp

SFFaudio Online Audio
BBC Radio 7 - BBC7Doctor Who: Max Warp
Full cast audio drama
Stars Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith
Written by Jonathan Morris
Directed by Barnaby Edwards
Produced by Big Finish Productions
52 minutes

Just heard this on BBC7 and it’s really fun so I thought I’d better post it before it slips away. (Since it already aired last Sunday, oops, it’s only available until November 1, so get cracking!)

Max Warp is a sort of Agatha Christie style murder mystery (eh, well, you’ll see…hear) that crosses paths with Douglas Adams (with one or two direct references as well) and then ends up in Doctor Who’s lap. Terrible sentence I know but where this tale takes place is probably the most fun part.  Here’s the skinny from the Big Finish page:

Broadcasting live from the Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show. Hosted by outspoken columnist and media personality Geoffrey Vantage, with spaceship-guru-extraordinaire O’Reilley and daredevil pilot Timbo ‘the Ferret’…When a test flight of the new Kith Sunstorm ends in disaster, the Sirius Exhibition Station is plunged into a web of murder and intrigue. Someone – or something – is trying to re-ignite a war between the Varlon Empire and the Kith Oligarchy…only two investigators, the Doctor and Lucie, can hope to uncover the truth.

And so it goes, and I’d love to tell you more about this story but that would be spoiling things.  Listen to Max Warp yourself.  You can do so right now by clicking here!

Posted by RC of RTSF

BBC7 presents: Down and Safe (Blake’s 7)

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7

Down and Safe: A Celebration of Blake’s 7
Presented by fan Mitch Benn.
Airdate: August 25, 2008 (aired 3 times).

Holy moly, I was busy and away and almost missed this excellent radio retrospective of Blake’s 7. (Fortunately for all of us, it is still available to listen to -see below.) Clocking in at three hours, Down and Safe covers the whole shebang, from the groundbreaking and influential late 70’s television series to the latest version reimagined and presented as audio drama, with clips and snippets and informed commentary and…

…And, speaking of audio drama, well, check out the BBC7 blurb: The BBC 7 bank holiday rebellion starts with the history and rebirth of a sci-fi classic, with episodes including The Syndleton Experiment (1999), Liberator (2007) and When Vila Met Gan (2008).

Yep, you heard right. Three complete full cast audio plays -they form the bulk of the show; three different and very entertaining takes on the Blake’s 7 universe that you shouldn’t miss (unless you have a very good excuse like, say, hives). So, space science fiction luvvers everywhere, be sure to check out Down and Safe here, here, here (RealPlayer required) or here (webpage – RealPlayer required) through Sunday, August 31!

Posted by RC of RTSF

Review of Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Blake's 7Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures (Trilogy Box Set)
By Ben Aaronovitch, Marc Platt and James Swallow; Performed by FULL-CAST
3 Audio CDs & 1 CD-ROM – Approx. 225 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: B7 Media
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Galactic Civilization / Politics / War / Terrorism / Spaceships /

In the third century of the second calendar, the galactic Federation, once a beacon of democracy and peace, has become a corrupt tyranny. Roj Blake stood up for the ordinary people. The establishment framed him for crimes he didn’t commit and sentenced him to permanent exile on the notorious prison planet of Cygnus Alpha. The Federation thinks it has seen the last of Roj Blake. The Federation will wish it had.

The producers of this stunning re-imagining Terry Nation’s late 1970s television series have improved upon the original Blake’s 7 in the same way as Battlestar Galactica was improved upon in its new TV series. This set, contains the three re-cut episodes Rebel, Traitor, and Liberator (and 40 minutes of bonus features). It is absolute audio drama perfection. The show is fast, surprising, darkly thrilling and utterly unflinching. Roj Blake is a folk hero, like Robin Hood or Pancho Villa. His struggle to free the deluded citizens of the galactic federation is full of ambiguities not found in the simplistic Star Wars films. If you like audio drama, you’ll love Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures!

Alistair Lock, responsible for sound effects, fills the soundscape with original and re-worked B7 sounds. The music is orchestral, and reminiscent of the original show. The acting in all three stories is absolutely top-shelf, Derek Riddell (Doctor Who) is the hardened, yet compassionate, Roj Blake. The treacherously reliable Kerr Avon is played by Colin Salmon (Tomorrow Never Dies). Michael Praed (of Robin Of Sherwod fame) guest stars, it’s a real who’s who of British Actors! Even Carrie Dobro (last seen in Babylon 5’s Crusade), playing Jenna, gets a meaty role she can really sink her teeth into.
I first listened to the Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures on the Sci Fi channel UK’s website as the five minute episodes were released. They sounded great! But, because they were released three times a week, and because each episode began and ended with lengthy intros and outros (lasting a minute or so) it was nigh impossible to follow the story. NOT SO with this re-cut version!

Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the set…

Disc 1: Rebel by Ben AaronovitchRebel is not only easy to follow, it is impossible not to follow! The show is super-compelling – like a tractor beam sucking you in. The adventure starts on Earth with a government special-ops team trying to capture the elusive Roj Blake. Blake was an opposition leader, now he’s an accused pedophile and terrorist. He’s soon caught, but not cowed. At his sham trial he acquits himself well, but still gets convicted after the fair judge (played by Frances Barber) gets re-programed. Blake is sentenced to exile on a prison planet, but instead of being neutralized he and some fellow prisoners manage to find what may turn out to be a real source for change in the Federation – an alien ship of immense power!

Disc 2: Traitor by Mark Platt
Blake and company, now in possession of a starship with tech beyond that of the Federation, must master the artificially intelligent and suicidal computer. Traitor is action packed, scene transitions take micro-seconds, point of view shifts by sound (you can tell where you are by what the voice of the speaker sounds like). As in Rebel the physics and science are done in a deliberate “hard SF” style. Unbeatable audio action.

Disc 3: Liberator by James Swallow
In part three, the Scottish accented Supreme Commander Servalan (Daniela Nardini) and her lackey Space Commander Travis (Craig Kelly) hatch a plan to eliminate Blake and steal his new ship. Meanwhile, with their ship now in fully working order Blake’s seven argue as to the best course of action. Should they, as Avon suggests,turn pirate? Or should they, as Blake wants, turn “Liberator” into a flagship of resistance? A few light-years away something is waiting…

Special Features [CD-ROM]:

Blake’s 7: A Rebellion Reborn – [VIDEO]
A terrific 17 minute video documentary offering behind the scenes studio footage, on camera interviews and commentary on what made the old television series so great. Watching this will sell any old Blake’s 7 fan on this new series!

Sci Fi 360 – [VIDEO]
A short (4 Minutes 16 Seconds) video about Blake’s 7 – Audio Adventures that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel UK, shot at the Sci-Fi-London 6 Festival.

Sci Files – [VIDEO]
Another short video (2 Minutes 1 Second) promoting the show. It too aired on the Sci-Fi Channel UK.

Blakes 7 Theme – [MUSIC]
An MP3 featuring an extended (2 Minutes 10 Seconds) version of the new B7 theme!

Blooper Reel -[AUDIO BLOOPERS]
An MP3 (5 Minutes 43 Seconds) of outtakes from the recording of the three episodes.

“He’s The One” – [MUSIC]
An MP3 rock ballad about Roj Blake performed by Slashed Seat Affair.

Various sizes of desktop wallpaper featuring B7 art.

The producers tell me we haven’t heard the last of the Blake’s 7 Audio Adventures! So, get on board citizens, the rebels need your strength.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New FREE AUDIOBOOK: Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Colors Of Space

SFFaudio Online Audio

A new LibriVox title has piqued our interest. It’s Marion Zimmer Bradley’s 1963 novel The Colors Of Space. Sadly, this is not the ideal audio version of it as it has multiple readers – who seem to have randomly chosen their chapters. I think the ethos of LibriVox is absolutely wonderful, but the output, especially in cases like this seems more geared towards project completion and narrator convenience rather than listener preference. That said, the audiobook is 100% free and very easily downloadable either by a Zipped Folder full of MP3s, singly in individual file of MP3 or OGG Vorbis formats and by the podcast feed (including a one click iTunes subscription).

LibriVox audiobook - The Colors Of Space by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Colors Of Space
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by various readers
15 zipped MP3 Files or podcast – 5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 29th 2007
Bart Steele, a Space Academy graduate, has the potential to gain the secret of an alien “warp drive”, a super-fast technology for interstellar travel. He’ll have to get some surgery, and spy upon an alien race to do it but he’s . lucky because by a bit of genetic quirk Bart can see a wider optical range than ordinary humans. Still, countless human spies have already failed to gain the secret.

You can get the entire novel in podcast form, via this handy url: