LibriVox: The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxIf you follow SFFaudio at all closely you’ll know we’re going to be recording a podcast talking about Robert Sheckley’s The Status Civilization. And while we’re all making plans to read a book and record a podcast about it Gregg Margarite, one of LibriVox’s finest narrators, has actually recorded the book and made it available as a podcast! Now if you’re a fan of Gregg Margarite’s narration (and the audiobooks he records) you’ll probably appreciate what he has to say about his recording. Namely, he’d prefer you listen to the commercial release or, at the very least, consider purchasing another audiobook from the same company. Sez Gregg:

“My version of The Status Civilization is now available at

I do not wish it to compete with the commercial version, which I believe to be superior to my proletarian alternative. I am a fan of both Mark Douglas Nelson [the commercial release’s narrator] and Wonder Audio, and I want to see both prosper. So if you are going to listen to my version I request you to pledge the purchase of another title from Wonder. We need the professionals…”

LIBRIVOX - The Status Civilization by Robert SheckleyThe Status Civilization
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Gregg Margarite
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 55 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: April 2010
Will Barrent awakes without memories just before being deposited on Omega, a planet for criminals where the average life expectancy is 3 years. He’s listed as a murderer and released into the illicit society as a “peon” the lowest class imaginable. A mysterious girl gives him a weapon that starts him on his path to status, a path that requires constant brutality. But it must be borne if our hero is to discover the reason for his imprisonment; A reason that pits him against himself, and involves the sardonically similar but devoutly different creeds of Omega and Earth. – The Status Civilization was first published as “Omega!” in the August and September 1960 issues of Amazing Science Fiction Stories Magazine.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Betty M. and Annise]

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Readalong: The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

SFFaudio News

The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley

SFFaudio MetaWe’ve got a plans!

Specifically, we’re doing a readalong. That is, we get a few podcasters and bloggers together reading the same book (or listening to the same audiobook) and then talk about it on the SFFaudio Podcast.

Our first official readalong will be:

The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley (read the |WIKIPEDIA| entry)

First published as Omega! in the August and September 1960 issues (a two-part serial) of Amazing Science Fiction Stories, The Status Civilization has been reprinted more than a dozen times.

If you’d like to have read the novel by the time of the podcast’s release, on April 26, you can either find a paper edition, get the ebook from |PROJECT GUTENBERG| and/or get the unabridged audiobook from or iTunes:

The Status Civilization by Robert SheckleyThe Status Civilization
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
5.5 hrs. – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Availiable at Audible and iTunes
Will Barrent has no memory of the murder for which he was convicted. He will now have to live his life sentence on the prison planet Omega. The few that survive there do it by committing crimes. And the more adept the planet inmates are at higher crime, the more they climb their bizarre anti-social ladder. They all must live in a society where drug addiction is mandatory, as is the worship of the Dark One. Barrent’s goal is to find why he was sent to this mad world and to clear his name and return to Earth. But first he must survive – for a life sentence on Omega is usually a short sentence indeed.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Game of Rat and Dragon by Cordwainer Smith

SFFaudio Review

Gathering, shindig, or hootenanny? You decide!

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Game of Rat and Dragon by Cordwainer SmithThe Game of Rat and Dragon
By Cordwainer Smith; Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick
32 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Travel / Telepathy / Cats /

Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger) was an interesting guy who wrote very interesting fiction. He was an American intelligence officer during World War II, he traveled the world, and was an advisor to President Kennedy. In science fiction, his most famous work is probably the only novel he ever published: Norstilia. His short fiction is rich and creative.

“The Game of Rat and Dragon” was written in one sitting in 1956, according to J.J. Pierce (writing in another one of those Ballantine Best Of’s). Long distance space travel in this future occurs with the help of telepaths, but there’s a catch. Once a telepath is “out there” skipping along toward a destination, or “planoforming”, the telepath is in danger of being touched by entities called dragons – insanity is the usual result. The solution? Partners. Partners fly alongside ships in football-sized ships of their own, telepathically connected to the pilot. They are quicker than humans, and are able to destroy dragons before they make contact with ships – almost every time. Who are these partners? Purr.

The idea that there’s baddies living in some kind of hyperspacial plane has been visited often. Babylon 5 leaps to mind as a recent example. But Smith’s descriptions of “pinlighting” are poetic and uncommon. There’s not a heck of a lot of conversation in this one, but Matthew Wayne Selznick is up to the narrating challenge. The combination of Smith’s prose and Matthew Wayne Selznick’s voice worked very well – never a dull moment!

Wonder Audio (along with all their audio short stories) can be found: |HERE|

If you want to buy these stories on Audible (this one costs only $2.37), find the whole catalog |HERE|

Want to see the cover of The Best of Cordwainer Smith? Me too!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

New Releases – Philip K. Dick, Jack Vance & Andre Norton

New Releases

Three fantastic new releases from Wonder Audio, plus news on one eBook!

The Men Return & Worlds of Origin
By Jack Vance; Read by Tim Rowe
1 hr, 10 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2010

Available at Audible

Two vintage stories from the 1950s by science-fiction Grand Master Jack Vance, who wrote stories of adventure, detection, horror, and humor.

What the Critics Say:

“‘Worlds of Origin’: A mystery novel and a fine example of Vance’s trademark imagination with worlds and customs of alien origin. No less than a dozen wholly unique Vance worlds come to light during Magnus Ridolphs’ inquiry into the mysterious death of a man on a space-station retreat. ‘The Men Return’: [A] completely alien earth where our universal rule of cause and effect no longer has any meaning and only the insane flourish in the new dynamics.” (Amazon reviewer “Coriolous”)

The Defenders
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
61 min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2010

Available at Audible

Taylor felt life was pretty good. Sure, living in an underground bunker developing more sophisticated weapons to bomb the Soviets was less than ideal. But he had a pretty wife, and he was safe from the radioactive poisoned environment that existed above ground. The leadies, sophisticated robot servants, could inform them of the devastating destruction, the bombed out cities, and the further Soviet attacks. But it was a strange fact that the latest leadie to return to the bunker showed no sign of radioactivity. Strange enough for Taylor to be ordered above ground in a lead-lined suit to investigate. That Taylor didn’t want to go, wasn’t really an option!

People of the Crater
By Andre Norton; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
1hr, 44min.- [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Wonder Audio
Published: 2010

Available at Audible

A flight to a lost world of Antarctica. Garin Featherstone has been sent to explore a mysterious blue haze that was spotted in the polar region. There he discovers a lost civilization and a strange environment of vivid green lands, crimson tree trunks, and golden rivers. He must save Thrala of the light against the lizard men.

This is Andre Norton’s first professional published story from 1947. Even the Grand Dame of science fiction had to have her first sale. And she shows her strengths in her first fantastic adventure story.

Did you know Wonder Audio also publishes eBooks and print books under the name of Wonder Publishing Group? Here’s one of their many new eBooks. And yes, that’s one sweet cover. :)

Venus is a Man’s World and Other
by William Tenn

Wry, brilliant stories from the late William Tenn. Stories of irony, poignancy, humor and satire. Vampires, time travel and paradoxes, government projects, war, and the battle of the sexes. Stories included are: VENUS IS A MAN’S WORLD, OF ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, NULL-P, BROOKLYN PROJECT, SHE ONLY GOES OUT AT NIGHT, PROJECT HUSH, ME MYSELF AND I, and RICARDO’S VIRUS. The Science Fiction Encyclopedia ranked Tenn as “one of the genre’s very few genuinely comic, genuinely incisive writers of short fiction.”


Posted by Rick Jackson

LibriVox: D-99 by H.B. Fyfe

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxJerry Pyle, one of the participants in the Fourth Annual SFFaudio Challenge writes in to say:

hey jesse…

good news! i just completed D-99! you can find it here:

this was such an amazing experience. i just want to thank you for letting me be a part of the sffaudio challenge.


Thank you Jerry!

Jerry has that all backwards of course – it was Jerry, along with the other cool folks at LibriVox that deserve our thanks. He and they have made us all a public domain Science Fiction audiobook that we can both enjoy and share with our friends forever and ever! If there’s any gratitude left after Jerry and LibriVox take their fair share it should go to Rick Jackson of Wonder Audio. Rick both suggested and commisioned the proofing of the etext for the Challenge. H.B. Fyfe himself is beyond accepting our thanks personally – he was transmuted, in 1997, into a force more powerful than we can possibly imagine. Should we need to we could spread any other deserved thanks a little further afield – we could also thank one of the audiobook publishers who supplied the prizes from which Jerry can now pick!

So Jerry, which 4th Annual SFFaudio Challenge prize would you like?

LIBRIVOX - D-99 by H.B. FyfeD-99
By H.B. Fyfe; Read by Jerry Pyle
20 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 03, 2010
EARTHMEN IN TROUBLE Harris was caged in an underwater “zoo” by a pack of blue lobsters. Maria drew a five-year sentence on a puritanical planet for trying to buy a souvenir–and for being excessively feminine. Taranto and Meyers had committed the crime of being shipwrecked on a planet that didn’t like strangers. Gerson was simply kidnapped. And nobody had any idea why five citizens of Terra were being held on other worlds–and the ultra-secret Department 99 existed only to set them, and others like them, free. This tense novel is the story of one evening’s work for Department 99–their successes and failures–and of the strange crisis that almost wrecked D-99.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

The audiobook is also available in two etext formats |PDF | and |HTML| – in case you’d like to read along!

[Special thanks also to Barry Eads (aka KiltedDragon) and James Christopher (aka Steampunk) @ LibriVox and Rick Jackson @ Wonder Audio!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown

Aural Noir: Review

[This audiobook was created by Wonder Audiobooks which is owned by SFFaudio contributor and a past reviews editior Rick Jackson]

Wonder Audiobooks - The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric BrownSFFaudio EssentialThe Fabulous Clipjoint
By Fredric Brown; Read by William Coon
Audible Download – 5 Hours 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: / Wonder Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / Crime / Mystery / Murder / Alcoholism / Noir / Carny / Chicago / Janesville /

You’ll hear the soft, lazy voice of a dame who’s been around, and you’ll meet up with a beautiful heller. You’ll learn the lurid secrets of a man’s locked past, and you’ll prowl dark alleys with two men–two men turned hunters. And you’ll wonder–why Ed and his Uncle Am didn’t level with the cops; what business a gang would have with Ed’s dead father; and where the killer thought the hunters would go wrong. Here are your answers, in this fast-spinning, two-fisted mystery about thugs, molls, and carnival folks.

Ed Hunter is 18, an apprentice linotype operator in 1940s Chicago. He works with his father. One morning Ed gets up to work only to find his father missing, having not come home the night before. This can only mean one thing – MURDER! The cops aren’t too interested, his alcoholic stepmother and oversexed step sister aren’t up for it, so it’s up to Ed to get justice. But to get the job done he’ll need help so For he enlists his uncle, a carny with more brains and experience than any man Ed knows.

Rick Jackson, the man behind Wonder Audiobooks, is a good friend of mine. It’d be hard to say I’m 100% objective about reviewing his stuff. The problem mostly being that he and I have such similar tastes in audiobooks and fiction that to praise one of his audiobooks is very much like saying how cool I am! But he is cool damn it! And more importantly this is a truly awesome audiobook. I will stake my reputation on you loving it. If you’re twice as apt to like an old crime novel as a new one, then you’re three times as apt to love The Fabulous Clipjoint. The mystery is not hard to follow, the story is told in first person, but conversely it was devilishly hard to solve. I pride myself on being an excellent armchair detective, but I was happily baffled right up til the big reveal. That’s really saying something. William Coon sounds like a wise teenager. But then whenever he’s tasked with another character’s voice he switches: Falsetto, gruff, kindly, Coon does them all. Highly recommended.

Posted by Jesse Willis