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Frequency #1
Frequency
Frequency
From the Frequency website:
A science fiction/fantasy short story AUDIO ANTHOLOGY on Compact Disc.

Frequency brings you the best in short science fiction/fantasy from the top authors in the field -- both established writers and hot, young up and comers.

More than "books-on-tape," Frequency stories, when appropriate, are augmented with high-quality music and sound effects, with the voices of some of Hollywood's most talented actors.

For the first time you can bring the best science fiction/fantasy short stories on the road with you. Take Frequency along and share your commute with Nebula Award winners like Mike Resnick. You can listen to Frequency at the gym -- hear Hugo winner Michael Swanwick while you work out! In fact, anywhere you can take your Discman™ or MP3 player, you can enjoy Frequency.

Frequency Website

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

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Although labeled the first volume of Frequency, a new fiction-on-CD publication, it was preceded by a two-disc volume 0, issued at Chicon 2000. That volume contained the complete Hugo-nominated short stories, read by a variety of actors. The official volume #1 contains an apparent mixture of original and reprinted (re-recorded?) stories, also recorded by a variety of actors.

Ray Vukcevich's humorous story, "Problem Solved," opens this issue of Frequency. Unfortunately, the story reveals a problem inherent in audio renditions of stories. Although "Problem Solved" is a humorous tale of a man's attempt to make cockroaches more likable to Americans, Dave LaFontaine's deep voice does not reflect the humour of the story and, on the contrary, detracts from it. LaFontaine has an excellent reading voice, but it should be used to narrate more serious stories where it can provide the proper gravity.

Kathy Christopherson reads Kurt Roth's epistolary story, "Rift," in which the narrator lives in a research station on the interstellar frontier near a strange "Rift" which mirrors the distance between her and her husband. Despite the setting, "Rift" is less science fiction than it is about the relationship between two people, as the narrator thinks back to the course of her relationship and the problems she and her husband have had. The setting is incidental to the story as a whole and could easily have been the story of a person whose work keeps them in one country while their spouse is in another country and cannot visit.

Peter Dillard's voice and timing are much better than LaFontaine's at narrating comedy, as demonstrated in his recital of John Serna's "User Error," a humorous tale of demon-summoning and revenge. The story is set in a world in which demonic summonings can be purchased in the same way as computer hardware and software. Frank and Bob are attempting to summon a demon to rip the heart out of Frank's ex-wife. Unfortunately, Frank fails to fully read the user manual that came with the demon-summoning kit or follow the instructions that he did read. Serna's story follows the attempts of Frank and Bob to figure out what went wrong, including their desperate call to the company's technical support line.

In "Panic," Stan Schmidt writes about an alien on conquest whose ship crashes. Schmidt's story has an ironic twist to it which is, unfortunately, telegraphed early in the story. This type of twist is becoming almost as cliché as the couple who discover they are the Adam and Eve on a new planet. Despite this flaw, J.R. Esposito's reading is good and fits the mood as the aliens try to come to terms with their predicament, made even worse when the invaded planet discovers their presence and demonstrates unforeseen capabilities.

Stephen Dedman sets "Honest Ghosts" in a New Orleans science fiction convention in the early morning hours. It is a discussion between two authors who are making their living by rehashing other people's works rather than creating their own worlds. Tim Klein's reading is good, providing the right amount of confessional attitude for a bar story between two friends. One of the authors has found himself ghosting for a man who claims to be a serial killer and is a fan of his horror writing. The story is an interesting look at the creative process, but it raised questions of morality.

While the idea of a periodical on CD is interesting and reasonably well-executed, Frequency does have a few problems which need to be resolved. Currently, the CD comes in a clam-shell case, like those used for DVDs, with attractive cover art designating the names of the authors included. However, the only place a printed table of contents appears is on the actual disc, which means that someone who wants to refer to the play order or see who wrote a story, cannot do it while the disc is playing.

Another minor problem is that there is no indication of when and where the stories originally appeared. While some of the stories on Frequency #1 may be original, other stories have seen previous print publication.

Listeners who have enjoyed some or all of the stories would be benefited by the inclusion of information regarding where they can find print versions of the stories they enjoyed.

According to the Frequency website and promotional materials, there are additional stories on the website which can be accessed by subscribers to Frequency, however accessibility information has not been made available.

Contents

Ray Vukcevich, "Problem Solved"
Kurt Roth, "Rift"
John Serna, "User Error"
Stanley Schmidt, "Panic"
Stephen Dedman, "Honest Ghosts"

Copyright © 2000 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.


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