CBC Radio One’s program "IDEAS" did a two-part 2-h…

SFFaudio Online Audio

CBC Radio LogoCBC Radio One’s program “IDEAS” did a two-part 2-hour special on Ursula K. Le Guin entitled “The Word For World is Imagination”

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/features/leguin/index.html

which was broadcast on October 4th and 5th 2004. In this documentary producer Kelley Jo Burke explored the work, methods, and magic of one of speculative fiction’s most important, and mindful writers. It looks like CBC Radio One has CDs of the program available too! Find them here.

2 Audio Excerpts are online:

Ursula K. Le Guin talks about being a writer.

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/media/leguin_1.ram

Ursula K. Le Guin talks about why people are uncomfortable with reading science fiction/fantasy.

http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/media/leguin_2.ram

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Left Hand Of Darkness
By Ursula K. Le Guin ; Read by Ruth Stokesberry
8 Cassettes – Approx. 11.5 hours UNABRIDGED
Books On Tape
ISBN: 0736611290
Themes: / Science Fiction / Galactic Civilization / Sociology / Gender / Worldbuilding /

“…our entire pattern of socio-sexual interaction is non-existent here. The Gethenians do not see one another as men or women. This is almost impossible for our imaginations to accept. There is no division of humanity into strong and weak. One is respected and judged only as a human being…it is an appalling experience for a Terran.”
-Ong Tot Oppong’s field notes of the planet Winter

Genly Ai, the lone emissary of a galactic federation of planets, has landed on the planet named Winter. His job is to make first contact and offer membership to the federation. But Winter is a strange world. Its people are adapted to the chilly planet, use some highly technological devices and yet have a feudal political structure. Slightly complicating matters is the people themselves – they are all bisexual hermaphrodites.

The Left Hand of Darkness is a recognized classic of Science Fiction; it won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards for best novel for 1970. At its center this novel is a thought experiment, built to planetary proportions. This subgenre of HARD SF includes many great novels like Frank Herbert’s Dune and Robert Silverberg’s A Time Of Changes. It also acts in some manner as does a dystopia or utopia novel, shining light on those things hidden, in this case by gender politics, of the time in which it was written. In the late 1960’s and 1970’s women were just becoming fuller participants in power and business. The Left Hand of Darkness taps into this burgeoning social movement. Asking the question “What would a world look like where there were no gender politics at all?”. Le Guin’s answer is fascinating.

While at times slow and ponderous this is a great novel for its time. It is filled with almost endless detail of life on a fully thought out world. Of special note is a fully fleshed out and powerful series of reading of the mythology of Winter, it is superbly crafted stuff. I’m not a huge fan of Le Guin’s body of work but I did appreciate this audiobook. The central idea is very well thought out and the details show in her attention. At least in the abstract, the plot plays out much like a good Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. And there is good reason for this. Indeed, Star Trek: The Next Generation has dealt with both “first contact” situations in the episode aptly named “First Contact” and hermaphroditic aliens in the episode “The Outcast”. The fact that both of those episodes are among the best ST:TNG ever did tells you something about the themes. The Left Hand Of Darkness is not a great page turner, or in this case a tape flipper of a novel. And it is not simply the subject matter that bogs it down. Barry Longyear’s Enemy Mine deals with gender neuter aliens in a thrill-ride fashion that is sadly absent here. Nor does the political intrigue present in The Left Hand of Darkness keep you sitting in the car after you’ve got where your going, waiting for the tape to finish, like it does with the similar Frank Herbert’s Dune. But despite these criticisms, make no mistake, this is
a classic of SF.

Books On Tape did a fabulous job putting together this production. The stunning original cover of the paperback is featured on the plastic clamshell case. The reading is by Ruth Stokesberry, who although unknown to me before this is good at her job. But funnily enough I was immediately thrown off by her voice reading the male narrator’s lines. Typically in audiobooks, male protagonists are read by male readers, who then go into falsetto to read female character’s lines, in this case it is the opposite. And while this is somewhat jarring, it doesn’t have a negative effect as much as it puts the listener into the same situation as the protagonist. In short, it works. The reading itself includes a lengthy and absolutely fascinating introduction written by Ursula K. Le Guin and an appendix explaining the different names and formulas used to determine the months, years, and days of the week. This is a great example of how to make an audiobook.

Audible.com is publishing some excellent science f…

SFFaudio News

Audible.com is publishing some excellent science fiction and fantasy on audio. Earlier this year, they put out three collections: The Best of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine 2002, The Best of Analog Science Fiction Magazine 2002, and The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine 2002. I reviewed all three titles for SF Site and enjoyed them all. My clear favorite, though, was the Fantasy and Science Fiction collection, so I was very pleased to see them follow up with two more titles: The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, January-February 2003 and The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, March-April 2003. The stories are all unabridged, and each collection runs five to six hours.

Over the past two or three years, I’ve experienced a growing appreciation for short-form science fiction on audio. Unabridged novella and novellette length stories make the finest audiobooks, in my opinion, and there is a lot of good science fiction and fantasy out there at that length that has yet to be recorded. I’ve got a copy of The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, January-February 2003 and have listened to the first story, called “Anomalous Structures of My Dreams” by M. Shayne Bell. M. Shayne Bell is an intensely emotional writer. All of his stories I’ve read to date have been memorable – he really makes me feel. His website is here. It hasn’t been updated for a long while, but you can read “Lock Down”, one of his best. The site also has his essay A Defense of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is worth a read.

There are five other stories in the The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, January-February 2003 collection:

“Vandoise and the Bone Monster” by Alex Irvine

“Grey Star” by Albert E. Cowdrey

“Old Virginia” by Laird Barron

“The Seasons of the Ansarac” by Ursula K. Le Guin

“Reach” by Sheila Finch

(Readers include Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir)

There are also six stories in the The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, March-April 2003 collection:

“The Resurrections of Fortunato” by John Morressy

“Decanting Oblivion” by Lawrence C. Connolly

“Shutdown/Retrovival” by Aaron A. Reed

“Hunger: A Confession” by Dale Bailey

“The Lightning Bug Wars” by Gary Shockley

“Seeing is Believing” by Paul Di Filippo

(Readers include Harlan Ellison and Gabrielle de Cuir)

I’ll revisit these once I get them heard… but I hope they continue to produce these titles. Current science fiction and fantasy audio by great writers, right there for the grabbing.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Here are the 2003 Audie Award nominees, for excel…

SFFaudio News


Here are the 2003 Audie Award nominees, for excellence in audiobooks. Find the whole list at the Audio Publisher’s Association.

Science Fiction
Catch the Lightning by Catherine Asaro, read by Anna Fields Blackstone AudioBooks
Dune: Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, read by Scott Brick Books on Tape, Inc.
The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb, read by John Lee Books on Tape, Inc.
The Pillars of Creation by Terry Goodkind, read by Jim Bond Brilliance Audio
Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett, read by Stephen Briggs Ulverscroft Large Print

I’m a little surprised with this list, largely because there is nothing there from Audio Literature whose Fantastic Audio imprint is consistently excellent. I’m certain that their unabridged Ender’s Game audio was released in March 2002, which would qualify it for this award. Also, Ursula K. LeGuin’s Tales from Earthsea was excellent and from around the same time. How is something nominated? Who does the judging?

Some other interesting nominees:

Children’s Titles For Ages 8+ includes Coraline by Neil Gaiman, read by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins Publishers).

In the Audio Drama category, The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family).

Fiction or Non-Fiction, Licensed or Distributed: Two Plays for Voices by Neil Gaiman, read by Brian Dennehy, Bebe Neuwirth and a full cast (HarperCollins Publishers)

Package Design: The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, fully dramatized (HighBridge)

And this last category…
Achievement in Production
The Joy of Pi by David Blatner, read by Oliver Wyman, Hank Jacobs & Laura Dean (Random House Audible)
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family)
Seek by Paul Fleischman, read by a full cast (Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio)
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, read by a full cast (Focus on the Family)
Two Plays for Voices by Neil Gaiman, read by Brian Dennehy, BeBe Neuwirth and a full cast (HarperCollins Publishers)

Posted by Scott D. Danielson