Secret World Chronicle Podcast from Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey

The Secret World Chronicle podcastCheck out this slick new podcast – The Secret World Chronicle, created by Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey. What is The Secret World Chronicle? From the website:

The Secret World Chronicle is a braided novel series created by authors Mercedes Lackey and Steve Libbey. It takes the “superhero” concept back into its pulp roots, but with a modern science fiction approach. Pretend that comic books never took hold of the superhero idea – that’s the Secret World concept.

They’ll be podcasting weekly episodes of this SF/Superhero novel series (The Introduction and Parts 1 and 2 of the Prologue are up already), and here are the links:

Podcast Feed:


Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Superman: UP, UP, and Away!

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Superman: Up Up and AwaySuperman: UP, UP, And Away!
Starring Bud Collyer as Superman
2 CD’s – 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Spirits
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1570197806
Themes: / Superheroes / Superman / Old Time Radio /

A Review by Jake Black

Long before anyone named Reeves, Routh, or Welling portrayed America’s greatest hero, there was Bud Collyer. Collyer played Clark Kent and Superman on the Radio for close to a decade. During that time, he also voiced Superman and Clark Kent in the beautiful Fleisher cartoons.

I recently heard Superman: UP, UP, and Away, a two-CD set that covers the first 12 episodes of the epic radio series. The series itself is notable for its many contributions to the Superman mythos, including kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen, and the famous catchphrases “Look, up in the sky,” and “Up, Up, and Away,” used because the visual of flying couldn’t be accomplished, because it was, after all, radio.

This CD set is enjoyable for its historical significance. The radio show really was that important to the mythos. Bud Collyer’s first performance as Superman is notable as he drops his voice when Superman, and speaks higher as Clark. A clever way to distinguish between the two.

There are two stories featured in the set. The first begins with the explosion of Krypton, and a very unusual origin of Superman. It is as though the adult Clark had been secluded for 30 years, wandering the Earth without talking to anyone. His earthly parents are conspicuous by their absence in the story, and Superman seems to be created by two regular Joes that Clark runs into. In fact, these strangers give him the name Clark Kent!

As one who has studied the evolution of Superman, this new origin took me out of the set, but I did enjoy the rest of the story – partially because it deals with a train and Salt Lake City (where I live). It was fun for me to hear that my hometown was featured in the first non-comic presentation of Superman!

The second story deals with a crazed scientist, and an attack with an “Atomic Beam” on the Daily Planet building, among other stereotyped Superman situations. The second story is focused on Lois, and is her debut “off the pages.”

Throughout both stories, Superman seems to hide in the shadows, more like Batman of today. No one really ever *sees* Superman. Kind of funny when compared to today’s version.

The sound quality is very clear. I am certain that it has been digitally remastered as it doesn’t sound like it is inside a tin can, as other radio plays on CD have. I really appreciate that.

The actors are wonderfully committed to their characters. Even though the occasional mad scientist laugh occasionally takes me out of the moment, there is a high level of commitment. The flying sound effects are well done. They remind me of the wind-blowing sound that was utilized successfully in the George Reeves television series. (They also remind me of the flying Superman toy that was found in Burger King Kid’s Meals this summer.)

One of the strengths on the CD is that each episode (6 episodes per story/disc) is it’s own chapter. Plus each features a short recap of where we are in the story as it begins. This is helpful, though if you sit for an hour to listen to each story straight through, it gets a bit redundant, as does the “Superman is a copyrighted character” spiel that closes each episode. But this is such a minor issue, that it hardly detracts from the whole presentation.

The biggest weakness of the set is the lack of music. Some scenes seem to move much more slowly because there is no music in the entire set. No opening credit music, no background music. It is noticeably absent, and hurts the set overall.

Hardcore Superman fans will really enjoy this CD set, if only for its historical value. The performances are wonderful, there are only a couple of minor complaints about it (the music, primarily) but over all it a fantastic addition to a Superman CD collection.

Review of Comic Book: The Movie

Science Fiction AudiobooksComic Book: The Movie
Written & Directed by Mark Hamill; Performed by a Full Cast
DVD Video Special Feature – 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED
Publisher: Miramax
Published: 2004
UPC: 786936230635
Themes: / Superhero / Comics / Fantasy / Humor /

The fictional Golden Age superhero Commander Courage is without doubt the greatest hero in comics for obsessed High School teacher Don Swan (Mark Hamill) in the mockumentary called Comic Book: The Movie. While the movie itself is well worth viewing it is one of the extra features on this 2 disc DVD set that is the most interesting for us: An original radio script supposedly first broadcast in the mid-forties, entitled “The Origin Of Commander Courage”. As most of the cast of Comic Book the movie is made up of animation voice talent they decided to do a dramatic “re-creation” of the script during a panel at the 2002 San Diego Comic Con. This brief origin story tells how Commander courage first got his unique super powers. The voice talent includes: Gary Owens (Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost), Maurice Lamarche (Pinky and the Brain, Futurama), Bob Paulsen (Animaniacs, The Tick) and Jim Cummings (The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Shrek)! Video of the recording session is provided as well but we’re asked to imagine sitting with our families gathered around an old Philco Radio, tuning in to the first ever broadcast of the “Commander Courage Radio Show”‘. The script is ridiculous, but then so were most of the origin stories of 1940s superheroes. The live audience laughs as the casts takes liberties with the script and improvise their own sound effects. Well worth a look and a listen!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond

BBC Radio Drama - Superman: Doomsday and BeyondThe Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0563401974
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1993
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics /

A review by Jake Black

In my previous review I talked about my experience with Superman, and that it was the reason that I’m doing these Superman-related reviews for SFFAudio. This week’s covers the 1993 audio play Superman: Doomsday and Beyond which dramatically retells the story of Superman’s death and return. I have to admit that I know this story inside out. It was what got me really reading comics, and especially familiar with the Superman comics. Since then, I have heavily followed them.

The story covers over 1000 comic book pages. I was skeptical as to whether or not the audio play could handle such a lengthy story in two cassettes. The play gives it a noble try, and succeeds – mostly. The “death” portion (the epic battle with the demonic Doomsday) is given very little attention. It doesn’t seem as intense as the comics did. It almost cheapens the death of the Man of Steel. Similarly the funeral portion is dramatically edited from the comic book version.

However, the “return” stuff is very loyal to the source material. It covers all of tape two, and approximately a quarter of tape 1. Some of the comic book elements, like the superhero mourning, and Lois’ encounter by the “sympathetic” Jed, were cut from the tapes for time reason, and while they aren’t necessarily missed on the tapes, though they do add a lot to the comics. One very importance difference is the absence of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Jordan’s involvement in the story set his character’s evolution in motion such that we are just now seeing the end of it in the white-hot Green Lantern Rebirth story, currently published by DC. But, the story is handled well. And it does include some cool moments from the comics prior to this story like Lois’ and Clark’s engagement, and how “they saved Luthor’s brain” to clone him (which is also still an important story in the comics.)

The overall sound is great. Like the previous Superman audio play, these tapes sound great on all of the different players on which I played them. Loaded with sound effects, which mostly sound great, there are a couple of irritations: Superman’s heat vision is an annoying buzz like those cheap ray guns that you’d get from the grocery store for $1.49; and the alien ruler Mongul’s ship is full of travel alarm-clock buzzing.

The voice actors are fantastic, as well. Superman’s voice is a bit too tenor-ish, but I’m getting pretty used to it. The rest of the characters sound great – especially the Australian Lex Luthor II, the new “Man of Steel” John Henry Irons, and the nefarious Cyborg. The only huge complaint I have of the voices is Superboy’s – the teenage clone of Superman. It is clearly an adult trying his best to sound 16 – but it becomes a really bad, really irritating impression of Bill and Ted. It’s really awful!

With the mix of music, sound effects, and a talented cast of voice actors, these are a lot of fun. I enjoyed them more than the other “Adventures of Superman” audio play I listened to previously. I think that the storytelling method may be a bit confusing to people who aren’t familiar with Doomsday, the four false-Supermen, etc. but the overall story is fantastic. If nothing else, it is a great trip down memory lane for a Superman fan who loves this story!

This review is copyright 2005 by Jake Black. You can find out more about Jake at his website,

Review of The Adventures of Superman

Science Fiction Audio Review

Fantasy Audio Drama - The Adventures of SupermanThe Adventures of Superman
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 056339370X
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1994
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics /

A review by Jake Black

I’m not really an avid listener of the sci-fi audio, and so it was a bit of a surprise to be invited to write two reviews for SFFAudio. However, the two they asked me to do focus on Superman, and that is a subject with which I am extremely familiar. I have spent the last three plus years working as a contributing writer for the official web sites for Smallville, wrote an issue of the comic series based on that show, and have worked on a ton of assorted academic and comic-related projects centered on the Man of Steel.

This week we’re beginning my reviews with an evaluation of the BBC Radio play The Adventures of Superman. Created in 1994 for radio airplay across the pond, the audio play was presented on two cassettes with a total running time of over two-and-a-half hours. The story is lifted straight from the comic books of 1986-87; a series called Man of Steel written by John Byrne, which relaunched Superman from the beginning. It is Superman from his first appearance in Metropolis. He meets Lois Lane and Lex Luthor for the first time. He discovers the origins of his powers, and creates the dual identity to help others. He fights street thugs, the Kryptonite-infested Metallo, the failed clone Bizarro, all the while trying to bring down the corporate magnate Lex Luthor.

The dialog and story are nearly completely lifted from the comics word for word, albeit with the occasional addition of descriptive dialog to help the listener imagine what everything looks like – clothing etc. While I understand the necessity for such expositional dialog on the tapes, it was a bit cheesy – “How could anyone dress like that, with tan pants and a black t-shirt!” etc.

The voice talent used for the play are all very talented, and create captivating characters with their voices. Nearly all of them match very closely with the voices I’d created for characters like Lois Lane, Jonathan and Martha Kent, and Lex Luthor, while the menacing Metallo and Bizarro are both well cast, too. The only voice I really didn’t like much Clark Kent/Superman played by Stuart Mulligan. While he does his best to drop his voice when he is Superman, it is too high a tenor voice to be taken seriously as either character from the beginning. Lana Lang (voiced by Shelley Thompson) is also a bit of a disappointment as she is a bit too much of a “southern belle” to be from Kansas. But, perhaps, that is due to this being a British piece with actors not knowing the distinctive regional dialects for the USA.

The play is full of nice additions, like sound effects for everything – footsteps, car horns, police sirens, gunshots, etc. However, the sound effect given to Superman’s heat vision is awful. It is similar to the little ray guns that light up and you can buy at the grocery store for a dollar. In spite of this one set back, the mix between dialog, music, and sound effects is perfect. I played it on several different players, and in all cases – including the car – the sound was pure, crisp, and all around nice. It didn’t need an extra boost of volume from any of the players I listened to.

All in all, if you are a Superman, these tapes are a lot of fun. Non-Superman fans may not enjoy them quite as much, but they do provide a good introduction to the character, his background, and his friends and enemies. I’m not totally convinced that they will bring new converts to the ways of the Last Son of Krypton, but they are, overall, entertaining, faithful to the subject matter, and well produced.

This review is copyright 2005 by Jake Black. You can find out more about Jake at his website,

Review of The Adventures of Superman

The Adventures of Superman
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
ISBN: 056339370X
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1994
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics / Audio Drama /

This BBC radio drama (originally heard on BBC Radio 1 FM) tells the story of Superman from his first appearance in the skies to his battles with Lex Luthor, The Bizarro Superman, and Metallo. Dirk Maggs adapted and directed the script, from stories written by John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, and Jerry Ordway, published by DC Comics.

The production is strikingly effective. On the back cover of the package, it says, “A movie without pictures – you won’t believe your ears!” That’s not rhetoric – this audio drama plays exactly like a movie. Scene changes are made, setting is established, and special effects all executed with sound. With headphones on and eyes closed, you can practically see the screen in front you. And the acting is uniformly excellent. Remarkable!

I enjoyed the production much more than I expected to, because not only did it sound great, the story was great too. The tale begins with the first appearance of Superman as he saves a supersonic jet from destruction. From there, Clark Kent sets up his alter ego, dons his costume, then spends the rest of the story fighting Lex Luthor (and his creations) while discovering his own origins. The entire thing was executed brilliantly, and the result is a production that I enjoyed more than any Superman film I’ve seen.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson