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

John Joseph Adams has started a new column on audi…

SFFaudio News

John Joseph Adams has started a new column on audiobooks for Locus Magazine. It appeared in the July issue, and has just been posted on the magazine’s website. Click here for the complete column. It’s great to see some audiobook coverage in Locus!

In my review of the unabridged version of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, I stated that this was the only audio version of Salem’s Lot of which I was aware. A reader from the UK informs me that Salem’s Lot was dramatized as a BBC Radio production in the mid 1990’s, but was unsure whether or not it was made available for sale anywhere. Anybody out there know? If so, drop me note! Better yet, send me your copy so I can hear it… :)

All my best, everybody, and thanks for visiting!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Salem’s Lot
By Stephen King; Read by Ron McLarty
11 Cassettes – 17.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Published: 2004
ISBN: 0743536959
Themes: / Horror / Vampires / Maine / Small town /

Simon and Schuster recently published this unabridged version of ‘Salem’s Lot, the only appearance of this 1975 Stephen King novel on audio of which I’m aware. This is the second novel published by King, and in my opinion is one of his finest.

Ben Mears, a successful author, returns to the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot to research a book he’s writing. Things get complicated quickly when a man named Barlow moves into town and folks start disappearing. Even more complicated – they start re-appearing. As vampires. As Ben Mears absorbs this fact, he meets the young Mark Petrie, and together they fight Barlow and his growing army.

The characters are the most striking attribute of any Stephen King novel, and this early novel is no exception. The numerous characters breathe with detail, and they all seem like people that I’ve met or could meet today. King lays the small town of Salem’s Lot out for all to see, warts and all, and then commences to destroying it while the reader watches. The actions and fates of the small town characters King has brought to life are where the story lies – not in Barlow himself.

Ron McLarty performs the novel, and does a fine job of it. He handles all the characters with great skill, reading in a clear and often tense manner. As you can probably tell, I really like Salem’s Lot. It’s one of the few novels that I revisit every so often. McLarty treated it well, and I thank him.

Now, I’d love to hear an unabridged audio version of the other two of what I’ve heard called King’s Trinity: one of The Shining, and one of the uncut version of The Stand. I’ll wait patiently…

NOTE: Did anyone catch that recent USA Network TV version of Salem’s Lot? Why the heck did they change so many small details? OK, OK, it’s a different medium, yadda yadda yadda, but wow. They had a perfectly good story to start with. ‘Nuff said. Back to the audio.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

SFFaudio Review

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing Of The Three by Stephen KingThe Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
By Stephen King; Read by Frank Muller
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks [UNABRIDGED]
Date Published: November 1997
ISBN: 0140867155
Themes: / Fantasy / Parallel worlds /

This is the second book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I read the first volume a few months ago (in print) and found it very different from Stephen King’s other work. To start with, it was not set in our world, where King sets nearly all of his novels. This volume is set both in the wasteland of the first novel and this world. King expertly uses the setting along with his unforgettable characters to explore the notions of Good and Evil in a grand fashion.

The main character in the books is Roland, a gunslinger, possibly the last gunslinger, who travels in a world separate but somehow connected to our own. This second volume starts within hours after the first ends. Roland is required to draw three people from our world into his to help him on his quest to reach the Dark Tower. If none of this makes sense, that’s okay. I’m hesitant to provide too much detail. It is enough to say that what you have here is a contemporary fantasy novel written by one of the finest creators of believable characters in fiction.

And Frank Muller does the narrating. I’ve never been disappointed in a Muller narration, and this certainly is no exception. His voice is perfect for this material – I imagine Roland’s voice to be Muller’s – and the great energy which he provides this novel probably made it more interesting than it actually was. Several times when listening time came to and end, I took an extra lap around the block or listened for an extra ten minutes… and Muller’s reading is as responsible for that as King’s writing.

I am definitely a Stephen King fan. I enjoy nearly all of his stories. My favorites are from his early career, The Stand and Salem’s Lot especially. Neither of those have audio versions, unfortunately. (Well, there is a version of The Stand available from Books on Tape, but it is not the complete version of the novel that King released later in his career.)

For more info on the Dark Tower series, check the Dark Tower Compendium.

On June 7, the Horror Writers Association gave the…

SFFaudio Online Audio

On June 7, the Horror Writers Association gave their 2002 Bram Stoker Awards. There are audio editions of a few of the winners.

FIRST NOVEL

The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold, narrated by Alyssa Bresnahan, Unabridged, Recorded Books

FICTION COLLECTION

One More for the Road by Ray Bradbury, read by Campbell Scott, Harper Audio

WORK FOR YOUNGER READERS

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, read by the author, Unabridged, Harper Audio

ALTERNATIVE FORMS

“Imagination Box”, Steve & Melanie Tem, Lone Wolf Publications (multimedia CD)

J. N. Williamson and Stephen King were given Lifetime Achievement Awards. Find all the awards here.

Personally, the only work listed here that I’ve read is Gaiman’s Coraline which I enjoyed very much. Congrats to all the winners!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Legends: Stories from the Masters of Fantasy: Volume 1

SFFaudio Review

Legends: Stories From The Masters of Fantasy: Volume 1 edited by Robert SilverbergLegends: Stories From The Masters of Fantasy: Volume 1
Edited by Robert Silverberg; Read by Frank Muller and Sam Tsoutsouvas
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published:
ISBN:
Themes: / Fantasy /

Robert Silverberg, himself a prolific fantasy author, has gathered with this series a collection of the longer novellas by the most popular living fantasy authors. Each of the authors was asked to write a new story based on one of his or her most famous series.

In Volume One there are two novellas. The first belongs to Stephen King and is set in his popular Gunslinger/Dark Tower universe. Silverberg’s contribution is set in his Majipoor universe. An intriguing premise but did it turn out to be any good?

The Dark Tower: The Little Sisters Of Eluria by Stephen King; Read by Frank Muller
Roland of Gilead, badly needs to find a horse doctor. His horse is ailing and won’t last long, but when he comes across a lonely desert town he quickly ends up needing a doctor for himself. Unfortunately, the only medical attention he’s getting comes from a vampire like sisterhood intent on both healing AND bloodletting.

I’ve never been overly fond of Stephen King, I find his writing like his ideas at best mildly interesting and at worst boring. But, being as I’d not tried anything of his work in some time, I was willing to give him another try. This piece seemed ideal. It was supposed to be fantasy, and not pure horror that he’s so well know for. It was also a prequel to a long series that I’d heard good things about (The Dark Tower series). But alas, I was not impressed in the least. While there are interesting elements, the setting is what appears to be a post-apocalyptic cross between the Zane Grey and The Road Warrior, which while not completely original is at least not a setting that has been done to death. Unfortunately the story is very long winded. I normally don’t care for overly long fantasy tales, The Lord of The Rings being a notable exception, but I am in the minority here. Stephen King fans don’t seem to mind a thicker than thick novel. This production of the Little Sisters of Eluria has the benefit of clarity, at all times I knew what was going on, and Frank Muller’s reading was okay, barring his usual difficulty with women’s voices. There are some writers who while not writing in the clearest manner manage to hold your attention by their very ideas. In the case of the Little Sisters Of Eluria, the clear writing and clear production just made the boredom more obvious for me. If you like the Dark Tower series you may enjoy this novella, but I found it a vulgar, mildly gross, hard to finish and ultimately pointless.

Majipoor: The Seventh Shrine by Robert Silverberg; Read by Sam Tsoutsouvas
Majipoor, a planet settled long ago by human colonists, is ruled by Valentine, once Lord Valentine now Pontifax of the whole planet. Valentine and his court entourage are on an expedition to an ancient city where they intend to investigate the murder of archeological team leader.

First let me say I like a lot of Silverberg’s work, some of his short stories are really good, but I’ve found his work very uneven. Being unfamiliar with the Majipoor stories I thought this novella would be a good introduction to Robert Silverberg’s fantasy series. This story though is a murder mystery, set on an alien world full of traditions and history. Silverberg does a fairly good job of bringing newbies like me up to speed, informing us of Pontifax Valentine’s personal history, and the strained species relations between the native Metamorphs (shapeshifting intelligent aliens) and the Human colonists of Majipoor. That being said, the story isn’t at all enthralling, it has a lot of “your majesty this” and “your majesty that” found in some of the more derivative fantasy fiction. The mystery element is unsolvable by the reader, something that I dislike as a general rule. But on the other hand Sam Tsoutsouvas does a good job, saving his different voices only for important plot characters. As with the other story in this audiobook, perhaps it will be more enjoyable for someone who likes the universe in which it is set. I can imagine never listening to another Majipoor story, and the idea doesn’t worry me in the least.