LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 016

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 16Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 016
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 19 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 2009
Science fiction (abbreviated SF or sci-fi with varying punctuation and case) is a broad genre of fiction that often involves sociological and technical speculations based on current or future science or technology. This is a reader-selected collection of short stories, first published between 1951 and 1962, that entered the US public domain when their copyright was not renewed.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-vol-016.xml

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Astounding Science Fiction June 1959All Day September
By Roger Kuykendall; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Some men just haven’t got good sense. They just can’t seem to learn the most fundamental things. Like when there’s no use trying—when it’s time to give up because it’s hopeless…
From Astounding Science Fiction June 1959.

Fantastic Universe January 1954Beyond The Door
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Did you ever wonder at the lonely life the bird in a cuckoo clock has to lead—that it might possibly love and hate just as easily as a real animal of flesh and blood? Philip Dick used that idea for this brief fantasy tale. We’re sure that after reading it you’ll give cuckoo clocks more respect. From Fantastic Universe January 1954.

Astounding Science Fiction September 1955Blessed Are the Meek
By G.C. Edmondson; Read by M.White
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Every strength is a weakness, and every weakness is a strength. And when the Strong start smashing each other’s strength … the Weak may turn out to be, instead, the Wise. This story was first published in the September 1955 issue of Astounding.

Fantastic Universe May 1954The Calm Man
By Frank Belknap Long; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Dip the pen of a Frank Belknap Long into a bottle of ink and the result is always bound to be a scintillating piece of brilliant imaginative science fiction. And he’s done it again in the tortured story of Sally. From Fantastic Universe, May 1954.

Planet Stories January 1954The Crystal Crypt
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
Stark terror ruled the Inner-Flight ship on that last Mars-Terra run. For the black-clad Leiters were on the prowl … and the grim red planet was not far behind. First published in the January 1954 issue of Planet Stories.

Amazing Science Fiction Stories September 1958The Gift Bearer
By Charles L. Fontenay; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
This could well have been Montcalm’s greatest opportunity; a chance to bring mankind priceless gifts from worlds beyond. But Montcalm was a solid family man—and what about that nude statue in the park? From Amazing Science Fiction Stories’ September 1958 issue.

Fantastic Universe January 1957Out Of This World Convention
An essay by Forrest J. Ackerman; Read by Jozef Nagy
1 |MP3| – Approx. [CONVENTION REPORT]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
An eye-witness account of the 14th World Science Fiction Convention in session. First published in Fantastic Universe in January 1957.


Astounding Stories November 1932A Scientist Rises
By D.W. Hall; Read by dana-allen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
All gazed, transfixed, at the vast form that
towered above them.
From the November 1932 issue of Astounding Stories.

Fantastic Universe January 1954Texas Week
By Albert Hemhuter; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
One of the chief purposes of psychiatry is to separate fantasy from reality. It is reasonable to expect that future psychiatrists will know more about this borderline than the most learned doctors of today. Yet now and again even the best of them may encounter situations that defy all logic. From the January 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Fantastic Universe May 1954Year Of The Big Thaw
By Marion Zimmer Bradley; Read by Greg Weeks
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 19th, 2009
“In this warm and fanciful story of a Connecticut farmer, Marion Zimmer Bradley has caught some of the glory that is man’s love for man—no matter who he is nor whence he’s from. By heck, you’ll like little Matt.”
From the May 1954 issue of Fantastic Universe.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Story Speiler: Scrimshaw by Murray Leinster

SFFaudio Online Audio

The old man just wanted to get back his memory—and the methods he used were gently hellish, from the viewpoint of the others…. that’s the internal description of Murray Leinster’s Scrimshaw, a short story from Astounding Science Fiction’s September 1955 issue. I’d heard that word before, but had to look it up:

scrimshaw [noun]: the name given to handiwork created by whalers made from the byproducts of harvesting marine mammals. It is most commonly made out of the bones and teeth of Sperm Whales, the baleen of other whales, and the tusks of walruses. It takes the form of elaborate carvings in the form of pictures and lettering on the surface of the bone or tooth, with the engravings

Scrimshaw by Murray LeinsterScrimshaw
By Murray Leinster; Read by Roy Trumbull
1 |MP3| – Approx. 39 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Story Spieler Podcast
Published: 2009?
Provider: Internet Archive
From Astounding Science Fiction, September 1955. A mining colony on the moon is home to a murderer and to his victim who is slowly recovering memories lost when he was left for dead. A bold attempt is made to hijack $5 million in diamonds from the mine.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #024

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #024 – Jesse and Scott discuss hardware (which is the best iPod), comics (graphic novels to some), movies (bad and worse) and even a few audiobooks (not so bad at all).

Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals, Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip, Blackstone Audio, Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint, urban fantasy, Pebble In The Sky by Isaac Asimov, BBC Audiobooks America, Gentleman Of The Road by Michael Chabon, In The Electric Mist With The Confederate Dead by James Lee Burke, New Orleans, why there’s no such thing as a “noir” series, Montana, film: Taken, ViolentWorldOfParker.com, Duplicate Effort by Kristine Katherine Rusch, the Moon, Audible.com’s Short Story sale, Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber, LibriVox + SFFaudio = Instant iTunes Audiobooks, “Here Comes The eBook Revolution” by Mike Elgan, the e-ing of magazines, review of The Book Of Lies by Brad Meltzer, Phantoms by Dean Koontz, revisionism – what authors shouldn’t go back and revise (or update) their published novels, evidence: Star Wars, Star Trek: Amok Time, Escape Pod returns! with a new Ken Scholes short story, Lamentation by Ken Scholes, Springtime for Hitler (and Germany), iPhone’s drawback (battery life), iPod Nano vs. iPod Classic vs. iPod Touch, The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake comes to audiobook on March 1st 2009, Decoder Ring Theatre, Gregg Taylor’s Black Jack Justice is now a webcomic!, Sandman: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman, Gaiman on CBC,

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction audiobook - The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. HeinleinThe Cat Who Walks Through Walls
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published: December 2007
ISBN: 1433212918
Themes: / Science Fiction / Marriage / Time Travel / Parallel Worlds / The Moon / Space Station /

When a stranger attempting to deliver a cryptic message is shot dead at his dinner table, Ames is thrown headfirst into danger, intrigue, and other dimensions where Lazarus Long still thrives, where Jubal Harshaw lives surrounded by beautiful women, and where a daring plot to rescue the sentient computer called Mike can change the direction of all human history.

There are a lot of things to dislike about The Cat Who Walks Through Walls:

1. Characters: Heinlein’s characters are either ultra-confident know-it-alls or utterly buffoonish straw-men. Heinlein will happily spend a good ten minutes explaining to you the workings of suborbital flight in a vacuum, but won’t explain (and worse yet – will have the other characters agree) to highly improbable societal systems in cast off sentences like – ‘all sexual options are invested in women’ (on the moon). Then he follows it up with jury trials of accused rapists lasting 30 seconds. Personally, I suspect that any system that threw away habeas corpus in favour of whatever one gender said was good – wouldn’t last very long. It’s possible to imagine a society in which women play a dominant role – but I don’t find it plausible to find any society in which one gender can say one word “rape” (true or not) – and have the accused rapist be instantly ripped apart. Heinlein ignores the problems of: No evidence, no witnesses, no trial. It doesn’t fly Mr. Heinlein.

2. Things missing: First, the internet, especially email, everyone is still mailing paper letters from Lagrange space stations to the Moon! Second, DNA testing. Talk of positively identifying someone all runs along the lines of “fingerprints” and “blood types.” Third, GPS. On Heinlein’s moon you can only tell where you are by using inertial trackers or getting a starfix.

3. A glaring omission: There’s one more thing missing, the last half of the book. Seriously, this book is all prologue, with lots of interesting action, but the entire build up is concluded on the last disc.

4. Too much: There are also things this book has too much of. First, all the many male characters are always calling themselves, denying that they are, or accusing each other of being “henpecked.” This, no matter what universe or era they come from! I’ve never heard any of my married friends use that term. Second, no matter which continent, planet or timeline, the many husbands in this novel come from, they all playfully joke about “beating” their wives. I just don’t know what to do with that information. Is this common in your marriage?

Now, having stated off this review with the above it may sound as if I dislike the novel. And that’s not strictly true. I don’t, not really. But, on the other hand, this is the third audiobook release of it and some of the novelty is starting to wear off. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls has a crackerjack opening scene, some amazing hard SF early on, and a goodly amount of redeeming entertainment value. This is a novel for the truly die-hard Heinlein fans. It was written with the intent of rewarding them for their many years of dedicated reading. It does that. It contains dozens and dozens of characters, many of whom are cameoing from previous Heinlein novels. Lazarus Long (Methusela’s Children), and Hazel Stone (The Rolling Stones) both play substantial roles in the novel. Other characters making appearances include Jubal Harshaw (Stranger In A Strange Land) and Manuel Garcia O’Kelly Davis aka Manny (The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress). In fact, as a reward to loyal readers, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls pairs rather nicely with Heinlein’s The Number Of The Beast in that both it and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls are fond examinations of both the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre and Heinlein’s own career. The key that ties both together is Heinlein’s idea of “pantheistic solipsism.” The idea behind which is that many universes exist under an explanation of ‘the world is myth.’ “The World as Myth” means that influential authors, like L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Heinlein himself are actually creating real parallel universes simply by writing vividly about them. In other words, the fictional stories we really enjoy, ARE ACTUALLY REAL. It’s a neat idea, but it’s better explored in The Number Of The Beast. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, other than being a rewarding odyssey for fans, is more about marriage than any particular SF idea. Richard Ames gets married in chapter two, and honeymoons on Luna – all the while being chased by assassins and hounded by officious bureaucrats. And that’s where the schism comes in. Heinlein has a no-nonsense, no compromises attitude towards bureaucracy, every situation is black or white. And that holds true for marriage too. Except when it doesn’t. Robert Heinlein Richard Ames will put his foot down, draw a line in the sand, and say “this far no farther”. He’ll hold fast, when confronted by social or bureaucratic interaction not too his liking. He’ll do the same in marriage… and then redraw the lines of his convictions to preserve the marriage. I find the latter rather realistic, but the former utterly unrealistic.

Narrator Tom Weiner has been given the thankless task of voicing about three dozen characters. Worse, there are few attributions in the text itself. Pages and pages of dialogue go by without any breaks. This being the third audiobook edition of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls I think back to George Wilson’s solid reading for Recorded Books, and Robert Vaughn’s abridged reading for Simon & Schuster. Vaughn’s is still my favourite, despite it being abridged to hell. Vaughn should have become a professional audiobook narrator. Weiner’s version, Blackstone’s release, is a close second.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Ascent by Jed Mercurio

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Ascent by Jed MercurioAscent
By Jed Mercurio; Read by Todd McLaren
6 CDs – 7.5 7.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781400103683
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alternate History / War / Cold War / The Moon /

The sun swings behind the world. Night engulfs him. The dull metal craft plunges through space, its portholes pale beacons containing the silhouette of a man, and the only other lights are the stars themselves.

This alternate history novel is a faithful depiction of the Soviet Union’s race against the United States to put a man on the Moon. The sad reality is that it never happened this way, but that doesn’t nullify a tremendously magnetic story of how it very well could have done. The viewpoint character is Yefgeni Yeremin an orphan of WWII, a fighter pilot and a Korean air-war ace. His story is as compelling a depiction of a quasi-Nitzchean overman as I’ve seen in fiction. Yeremnin is a more human, more plausible kind of Ayn Randian character – but he’s also hard to empathize with. He’s a man who can’t quite break free of his upbringing, his colleagues, his country, but who despite this achieves what must be viewed as the ultimate in overcoming. The Ascent of the title is not just that of a man from the surface of the Earth, but of mankind from Earth and that which came before. Just as birth is the obvious, but arbitrary line in the moral sand of personhood, so too is the actual landing of a human being on the surface of the moon.

Ascent starts with a shock, builds brilliantly during the Korean War scenes and then plateaus. Mercurio tells a powerful story – the first half of the audiobook absolutely riveted the headphones to my head. That which follows is engaging, but not as impactful. Perhaps the tale could have been told in another manner. Perhaps part of the problem is in the novel form itself. I wonder if it might not have been better, shorter – as a novella say. Yeremnin too is hard to take at this length – he is a hard man, from a hard world, with little in him other than will. The technical jargon that predominates his space voyage, while I’m certain accurate, is burdensome, and the problems that face the protagonist are less thrilling than those in the first half of the book. The end, when it comes, simply…. is. It isn’t wrong for the book, but it isn’t right either. It may be that this kind of tale, with this kind of character, is not actually tellable another way. Todd McLaren helps, he does Russian accented English but doesn’t overplay it – this is a matter of fact delivery. I hope Mercurio can find another topic within Science Fiction with as much passion as that which he put into Ascent, this was a tremendously compelling listen.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Rolling Stones by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Rolling Stones by Robert A. HeinleinThe Rolling Stones
By Robert A. Heinlein; Performed By A Full Cast
8 CDs – 7 Hours 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 1932076808
Themes: / Science Fiction / Young Adult / Space Travel / Newtonian Physics / The Moon / Mars / The Asteroid Belt /

When the Stone twins made up their minds to leave Luna City in a secondhand spaceship, they hadn’t planned on having their whole family accompany them. But the Stones are not your ordinary Lunar family – no way! – and their voyage through the solar system sure proves it.

Not long ago FULL CAST AUDIO contacted us, and gave us a heads-up – a new Robert A. Heinlein novel was coming. I was blown away by their first Heinlein adaptation so I tried to keep my expectations reasonable. “Lightning can’t strike twice”, I told myself. “Just be happy that it is being released. That’s what you asked for and that’s what you got. Don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t live up to your expectations.” I needn’t have worried. The Rolling Stones is as good as the superb full cast reading of Have Space Suit, Will Travel – maybe even a little better!

It is a Heinlein juvenile, written and first published in 1952, full of Heinleinian economics, politics, and family values, which all combine with a travelogue of interplanetary adventure. Dialogue moves the surprisingly light plot along, and the narrator provides the cultural and technological backdrop.

The Stone family is made up of father Roger, mother Edith, grandmother Hazel, the eldest child Meade, the youngest Buster, and the middle identical twins Castor and Pollux. The twins are natural born inventors and entrepreneurs, so when they go looking through the used spaceship yards on Luna they’ve got a scheme in mind. When Roger finds out about their plans he manages to turn the whole thing into a family venture. And off they go into the solar system.

If you like Heinlein you’ll love this novel but it’s a little different from most juvies in that it is more a series of smaller adventures. What I like best about the book is that it ably envisions a wonderful future of interplanetary travel in a completely scientifically accurate way. The economic model that would allow a family to buy a spaceship, fuel it and use it as their personal yacht may be unrealistic, but that won’t dampen your enthusiasm. It didn’t mine.

Most of the actors are new but Bill Molesky is back playing another father and Cynthia Bishop plays another mother figure. Peter Moller plays another small role, and FULL CAST AUDIO founder Bruce Coville makes another cameo too. Another plus – Daniel Bostick again directs. If I had my druthers, Daniel Bostick will direct all the future FULL CAST AUDIO Heinlein releases too (on the principle you don’t mess with success). The new actors are all perfect in their roles. There isn’t a false performance in the bunch.

A potential stumbling block was avoided. This is a third person perspective novel, as opposed to the first person of Have Space, Suit Will Travel, so they needed a narrator. Veteran voice over actor David Baker took the reins there and together with this full cast read another faithful adaptation of a Heinlein “juvenile” novel.

What’s really interesting though is that this is a straight reading with multiple readers, something I didn’t fully realize in Have Space Suit, Will Travel. There are no sound effects. There are just actors reading the text and a little accenting music at chapter openings. This was another excellent choice, a straight reading works well. You don’t need to paint in sound effects when the words evoke a mental image.

As is becoming the rule, the attention to detail found in the audio production extends to the fit and finish of the packaging. Jerry Russel’s original cover art is absolutely beautiful to behold. The CD case is the identical design to the Have Spacesuit, Will Travel case. A thick DVD style case, with the CDs stacked and secured by two plastic clamps. Perfect! Please FULL CAST AUDIO keep recording these Heinlein juvenile novels. I’d like to say I deserve it, but even if I don’t the novels sure do!

Posted by Jesse Willis