Review of Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Nine Princes in Amber by Roger ZelaznyNine Princes in Amber
By Roger Zelazny; Read by Alessandro Juliani
5.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2012
Themes: / Fantasy / Siblings / Royalty / Swordplay / Magic /

Before Joss Whedon, there was Roger Zelazny. I thought this at some point during this time through Nine Princes in Amber, a book I revisit now and then. Zelazny’s dialogue is snarky and the story quick and interesting. Figure out how to depict the road to Amber, and the Amber novels would make an excellent television series. If Joss wrote this, though, the women in the story would have stronger roles.

My reason for re-reading this was the publication of a new unabridged audio version from Audible Frontiers. Alessandro Juliani narrates, and makes the story even better. Before this, the only unabridged recording that existed was read by Zelazny himself. I’ll definitely keep those audiobooks – Zelazny has a very distinctive voice – but Juliani’s reading fleshes out the character of Corwin so well that it makes the book more entertaining.

The novel is told in first person from Corwin’s point of view. At the opening, Corwin wakes up in a hospital bed with memory loss. As he figures things out, so do we. He learns that he’s a quick healer, that he’s got some skills, and that he has a sister. Further along he realizes more – he’s part of a royal family of Amber, the only true world. There’s magic and intrigue, there’s trumps and travels to Amber, there are creatures and mean princes. It’s wonderful. And it’s a short listen, coming in at only 5 1/2 hours.

If you like this one, listen to the other four in the series, all available on Audible. They are all great fun. After that, there are another five books. It’s excellent to see that Audible Frontiers is alert enough to change the narrator for those. Alessandro Juliani narrates the first five books, then Wil Wheaton takes over for the next five because those books are from another character’s point of view. Well done, Audible!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice BurroughsA Princess of Mars
By Edgar Rice Burroughs; Read by John Bolen
6 CD’s – 6 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: 2001
ISBN: 1400100186
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mars / Aliens / Swordplay / Classic /

There are few classic novels with as much influence as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars. First published in 1912 (serialized in All-Story magazine with the title Under the Moons of Mars), Burroughs sparked the imagination of many of science fiction’s golden age writers, including Ray Bradbury and his Martian Chronicles. The audiobook cover is a detail from the 1919 Grosset & Dunlap cover.

A Princess of Mars is an imaginative adventure novel in which John Carter, a Virginian military man who starts the story running from Indians in the Arizona desert, is magically transported to Mars. Burroughs does not go into detail on the mechanics of the transportation, but does go into great detail about the inhabitants of Mars, called “Barsoom” by its natives.

There are two races on Mars – a four-armed green warrior race, and a red human-like race. The princess of the title is Dejah Thoris of Helium, whose beauty captures John Carter when he sees her taken by him in chains by some four-armed Barsoomians.

The novel is filled with damsel-in-distress/derring-do-male-hero sensibility that is laughable at times, but still the story holds up as a classic of the genre. Burroughs’ description of an alien culture is a forerunner of an entire category of science fiction, and I found it entertaining on that level. I also felt a great deal of nostalgia, because I read this book a few times as a early teen, along with the other ten Mars volumes, and a Tarzan or three.

John Bolen performs the whole book as John Carter, with a southern gentlemanly manner that the character demands. This means not only Carter’s attitude, but his southern accent, which took me a few minutes to settle into.

Check out Tantor’s science fiction and fantasy section for more Edgar Rice Burroughs titles.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson