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Frequency #2
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
SF Site Review: Frequency #1

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

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Frequency is an audio anthology, presenting, in Volume 2, six stories, all, I believe, previously published in print form. The stories are presented on a Compact Disc, and I found it easy to listen to them using the CD-ROM drive in my computer.

The stories included are "The Apple Golem" by Bruce Holland Rogers, read by William Foss; "Housecalls" by Jerry Oltion, read by Alistair Logan; "Christmas at the Cushingura Cafe" by Stephen Dedman, read by Tadao Tomomatsu; "Abbat01r" by Cory Doctorow, read by Alyxx Ian; "Chance in Hell" by John Rosenman, read by Martin Dunn; and "Rate of Change" by Bud Sparhawk, read by David LaFontaine. I found the readings well done in each case, very clear, easy to follow. (The reading of "Abbat01r" seemed not wholly successful, but that was not due to any fault in the reader or the production, but rather that the story is perhaps not ideally suited for reading out loud, consisting as it does of a first-person narrator telling, for much of the story, about hearing another first-person narration. The switch in POV, though reasonably well-signalled by slight changes in the reader's voice, was still at times a bit difficult to track.)

I think I like Rogers' "The Apple Golem" the best. Rogers is nowadays a permanent fixture on the Nebula Awards Final Ballots for short stories, it seems, and he is a very accomplished writer of quietly effective stories. This story is about a magician who creates the title being for his sexual gratification, only to have things turn against him. The vegetable/sexual imagery is very nicely done, and the story is simple but satisfying.

Australian writer Stephen Dedman contributes a morbidly effective short piece: "Christmas at the Cushingura Cafe" tells of a rather outré variation on Karaoke offered at the title business. I saw this story in the small-press magazine Space and Time a few years ago -- it's nice to see, er..., hear, it again.

Cory Doctorow was the deserving winner of the 2000 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. "Abbat01r" is a neat piece about a future software professional buttonholed in the title bar by a boring old "hacker" with tales of his exploits back when computers were new. While waiting for a man to meet him to pay for a recent job, the narrator reluctantly listens to a strange tale of vampires on the net... only to find that the tale might be truer than he imagines. It's interesting, though I don't think the juxtaposition of traditional horror tropes with cyberpunkish tropes was quite successful.

Bud Sparhawk's contribution is "Rate of Change," which tries to portray the Vingean Singularity as it happens. Such attempts usually fail almost by definition, since the "Singularity" supposedly involves humanity becoming something we, now, can't understand, but Sparhawk makes a brave try, and shows a fair bit of imagination.

Jerry Oltion's "Housecalls" presents a priest with an amusing problem -- a man who seems to involuntarily turn water into wine, such that he can't drink anything without getting drunk. However, I was unconvinced, even in a humorous sense, by the resolution -- the result of the priest's efforts should have been quite a different substance! (And Oltion gets the application of the Catholic term "transubstantiation" wrong.) For me, this was a potentially nice joke, with a nicely predictable twist at the end, which fell flat.

The other story is also humorous, John Rosenman's "Chance in Hell." A web-designer stumbles across her dead husband, in a virtual environment. He seems quite happy -- which she doesn't think is fair, for he was a scummy philanderer. But she has skills that might be useful... Another minor effort, not really original enough to be memorable.

I confess I prefer reading my stories to hearing them. But Frequency is a nicely presented collection of decent if not spectacular stories. For those who like their fiction aloud, it's not a bad alternative.

Copyright © 2001 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton.


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