Review of Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil By James Luceno

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Star Wars: Labyrinth of EvilStar Wars: Labyrinth of Evil
By James Luceno; Read by Jonathan Davis
4 CD’s – 5 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 0739317350
Themes: / Science Fiction / Star Wars /

Star Wars: Labyrinth of Evil is a prequel to the upcoming Star Wars film Revenge of the Sith. It takes place after Attack of the Clones, the action starting in the thick of a battle in the Clone War. Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, and the rest of the Jedi Council have thrown their resources into finding out who and where Darth Sidious is after finding a very promising lead – a holotransceiver that had been used to contact him. The tale is a very satisfying whodunit featuring Obi-Wan and Anakin following a series of clues that bring them closer and closer to Sidious, while all the time Anakin gets closer and closer to the Dark Side.

I recall watching Episode II after listening to the prequel to that film, Alan Dean Foster’s Star Wars: The Approaching Storm. Early in the movie, Obi-wan and Anakin speak briefly about events that occurred in the prequel novel. It makes the books much more a part of the whole Star Wars saga to know that the movie-makers are paying attention to the novel-writers, and vice versa.

Jonathan Davis is remarkable. He nailed very passable accents for all the characters, including Yoda, Count Dooku, and Obi Wan Kenobi as played by the film actors. The pace is quick, and Davis drives the story perfectly. Sound effects are abundant, effective, and enjoyable.

In all, this audiobook is an action packed adventure full of light saber duels, dark villians, and… in short, it’s Star Wars! And very good Star Wars – it should be a hit with every fan.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Here are this month’s new releases: AUDIO RENAI…

New Releases

Here are this month’s new releases:

AUDIO RENAISSANCE

There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin with Joe Layden, read by Sean Astin

I’m looking forward to this memoir of Astin’s experience working on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’m one of the folks who watched every extra goodie on the massive Extended LOTR DVD’s.

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BLACKSTONE AUDIO

Callahan’s Con by Spider Robinson, read by Barrett Whitener

Barrett Whitener read Spider Robinson’s The Callahan Chronicals, which we reviewed on SFFAudio a while back. The Callahan stories are among the most empathic high-quality stories you’ll find in the world of science fiction, and this title is likely no different. The description says that Death himself walks into the bar this time…

Jesse:

I just finished listening to Callahan’s Key, also read by Barrett Whitener. Where you’ve described Robinson’s work as “empathic high-quality stories” I would describe it as “high-functioning fan-fiction”. That isn’t a bad thing, I like the stuff myself, but it certainly won’t be to everyone’s taste.

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HARPER AUDIO

A Coyote In The House by Elmore Leonard

This is a kids book in the tradition of “Call of The Wild” – told from the animal’s perspective.

Jesse:

If nothing else, crime and western writer Elmore Leonard has a great ear for dialogue, so this should be a fun tale with respect to that. But he’s never written juvenile fiction before, so its also unknown territory in some respects.

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PAPERBACK DIGITAL

Cally’s War by John Ringo and Julie Cochrane, read by William Dufris and Christine Marshall

A novel by military SF writer and Baen author John Ringo and Julie Cochrane. Cally had been fighting for the future of the human race, but now she is in a war for survival: the survival of her soul…

Paperback Digital has also released several OTR audio dramas on Fictionwise.com: “The Green Hills of Earth” by Robert A. Heinlein, “Drop Dead” by Clifford D. Simak, “Destination: Moon” by Robert A. Heinlein, and “With Folded Hands” by Jack Williamson.

And look for Charlaine Harris’ Vampire Mystery novel Dead Until Dark, which will be released on Halloween. Paperback Digital titles can be purchased on their site (http://www.paperbackdigital.com) or on Fictionwise.

Jesse:

It should also be noted that Paperback Digital has remastered and cleaned up these 1950s era radio dramas. Something which they sorely needed.

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RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO

Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, Volume III, edited by Robert Silverberg

This volume of the Legends II series contains stories by two of my favorites: “The Monarch of the Glen” by Neil Gaiman and “The Yazoo Queen” by Orson Scott Card. I’m a fan of the short novel length – there is so much treasure out there in the novella and novelette size. While I’m talking about these, Legends II, Vol. 1 contains “The Sworn Sword” by George R.R. Martin and “Beyond Between” by Anne McCaffrey, and Legends II, Vol 2 contains “Lord John and the Succubus” by Diana Gabaldon and “Indomitable” by Terry Brooks.

Jesse:

I look forward to hearing these! The first Legends anthologies were released by HarperAudio last time. Hopefully Random House Audio will do as good a job.

Star Wars: Jedi Trial by David Sherman and Dan Cragg, read by Jonathan Davis

Random House’s Star Wars titles rival Simon and Schuster’s Star Trek titles in production value and style. If you enjoy Star Wars stories, these books are quite good. Also quite good is Jonathan Davis, who I first heard when he read Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.

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RECORDED BOOKS

Raketty Tam by Brian Jacques, read by Brian Jacques

A title in the Redwall fantasy series!

Another note from Recorded Books – they have a rental program that looks a lot like Netflix. Unlimited audiobook rentals for $29.99/month. Check it out here.

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SIMON AND SCHUSTER AUDIO

Night of the Living Dead by John Russo and George Romero

An audio drama featuring the original cast!

Dark Tower VII by Stephen King, read by George Guidall

The final volume of Stephen King’s epic series. Stephen King read by George Guidall? Yeah, baby. I’m a Stephen King fan, but have not kept up with this series. I’ve heard “The Gunslinger” and “The Drawing of the Three“, and enjoyed them both – time to start on the rest of them.

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COMING SOON!

Wil Wheaton, of wilwheaton.net, has published a book called Just a Geek (which is excellent) and I’m thrilled to report that he’s recording an audio version. Wil says the audiobook has some extra asides, and that it’s more like a performance, or director’s cut, than a straight-forward reading. Look for it on his website in the coming weeks! In the meantime, ITConversations has posted audio of Wil’s recent performance at Gnomedex, where he read excerpts from the book.

Jesse:

This sounds like a terrific idea! Wheaton experimented a little with audio blogging a while back – posting to his website by telephone. He’s also read at least one audiobook short story that I know of. It can be found in Dove Audio’s The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century (which is available on Audible.com). The story is called “Why I left Harry’s All Night Hamburgers” by Lawrence Watt-Evans.

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If you’ve got something you’d like to show up on our monthly New Releases post, write me and let me know. Enjoy, everybody!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

I spent Thursday at Life, the Universe, and Everyt…

SFFaudio News

I spent Thursday at Life, the Universe, and Everything XXII, the 22nd annual science fiction symposium held at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. While there, I got to see a live broadcast of the weekly science fiction talk show I-SCI-FI.

I-SCI-FI is broadcast live on Thursday nights from 7-9pm Mountain time. I liken the listening experience to meeting up with some good friends once a week and talking science fiction. The show’s main focus is media (television and movies), but they also include interviews with science fiction and fantasy authors.

Shown in the picture is the I-SCI-FI crew: from left to right is engineer Brady, HariKarrie, Captain T’Rex, and Jedi Joe.

On Thursday, I-SCI-FI interviewed Sam Longoria, the media Guest of Honor at the symposium. They then interviewed fantasy author Victoria Strauss via telephone about her new book, The Burning Land. Last, they played an interview with Star Wars novelist Timothy Zahn, which had been recorded a week earlier at a local Barnes and Noble. In between, they had a trivia contest both for the live audience and the online audience. It was great fun. Be sure to try them out!

NOTE: While you listen to I-SCI-FI live, visit the chat room! If I’m in there, my username is MrScott.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

I just updated the New Releases page… Current…

New Releases

I just updated the New Releases page…

Currently, I’m listening to Deathstalker: Rebellion, Part 1 by Simon Green from Defiance Audio, read by several people. It’s an action-packed story in the Star Wars mold; empire, rebellion, aliens of all types, sword fights…

I’d like to see more companies adopt their style of publication. Deathstalker and Deathstalker: Rebellion are big books – they’d make for a large unabridged audio. Large enough, in fact, that most of their target audience (teens) wouldn’t be able to afford them. Instead of going that route, Defiance has made a series of them, releasing the novel in five three-hour portions at a very comfortable $9.95 a piece (or a mere $6.95 if you download them off the website).

This could serve as a model for the production of some excellent but bulky stuff like George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. Why not release it in parts? As long as the end result is unabridged, I’d buy them.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Commentary: Star Wars audiobooks

SFFaudio Commentary

In 1999, Del Rey published Vector Prime by R.A. Salvatore. This novel was the first in a projected 22 novels in a series called The New Jedi Order. This week, the Star Wars website has a sneak peek of the penultimate novel in the series, The Final Prophecy. Only one more to go.

What does this have to do with audio? Well, every single one of these novels has been produced as an audiobook. And well-produced at that. I’ve listened to and enjoyed three of the titles – Vector Prime (Book 1) by R.A. Salvatore, Dark Tides I: Onslaught (Book 2) by Michael A. Stackpole, and Dark Journey (Book 10) by Elaine Cunningham.

These books have an overriding story, which readers (and listeners) like me really appreciate. Most media tie-in series are held in a tight grip – stuff is not allowed to happen. Each novel must end exactly where it began, allowing the next author’s tale to make sense. But in the New Jedi Order series, there was an overall plan to the 22 volumes to start with. Each author wrote his or her part of the story arc, and the results are excellent. In short, stuff happens in these books.

A quick note on setting: the series takes place years after Return of the Jedi. Luke is trying to rebuild the Jedi Council. Han and Leia are married, with three children, all teen Jedi. The bad guys in the series are the fascinating and sinister Yuuzhan Vong, a race of invaders from another galaxy who exist outside the Force.

Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson