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Vox: SF For Your Ears
by Scott Danielson

Other Vox: SF For Your Ears Columns

Audio Drama
BEYOND 2000
Giant Steps: An Apocalyptic Comedy for the World Wide Web
Mark Time Award
Seeing Ear Theater
Wollcott and Sheridan
Audio Publishers
audible.com
Atlanta Radio Theater Company
Books on Tape
Defiance Audio
Infinivox
Fantastic Audio
Full Cast Audio Books
The Reader's Chair
Recorded Books, LLC
SciFiAudio
Star Trek Novels/Audio
Star Wars Novels/Audio
Timberwolf Press
ZBS
SF Talk Radio
Book Crazy Radio
Cosmic Landscapes
The Dragon Page
Hour 25
I-SCI-FI
RadioSciFi
Reality Break - a science fiction talk show
Sci Fi Overdrive
SF On the Radio
Other
ReelBooks
The Teaching Company
Timeship Studio
Voyage's Multimedia Project

Before audiobooks existed as a popular medium, there was audio drama. From Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds through shows like Dimension X and X Minus One to the recent 2000X series, audio drama has been and continues to be a great way to enjoy science fiction and fantasy.

Audiobooks differ greatly from audio dramas, because audio dramas are not novels or short stories. They are plays. And like plays, they are meant to be experienced in one sitting. Audio dramas require more of the listener, whose imagination is an integral part of the production.

Yuri Rasovsky, executive producer of Hollywood Theater of the Ear, says, "Audio drama is essentially visual. Its evocative power depends on the creator's ability to excite pics in the listener's imaginations." Without that imagination, the drama is ineffective, and in order to provide that imagination, audio dramas need to be given the listener's full attention.

Audio dramas should be heard on a good stereo system, as the stereo separation may be used to help the audience differentiate characters or for other audio effects. Another important note is that audio drama doesn't always work in a car -- there are differences in loudness that provide the right effect in a good environment, but in a car, background noise may force you to chase the volume control up and down to adjust for those differences. If an experience like this has caused you to swear off audio dramas, I urge you to try listening with headphones, because audio drama is a unique and worthwhile form of entertainment.

The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari Written, Directed, and Produced by Yuri Rasovsky Featuring John de Lancie with Jane Carr, Robertson Dean, Kaitlin Hopkins, Tony Jay, James Otis, and Lorna Raver Dove Audio, 1 hour
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari Chilling is the word for Yuri Rasovsky's award-winning audio drama, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. It's beautifully crafted and extremely well acted by a cast led by John de Lancie. De Lancie stars as a young man who visits a fair one night with his friend and girlfriend. There, they go to Dr. Caligari's tent where they meet the mysterious Cesare, the somnambulist, who is neither alive nor dead, and who -- no, the rest is best heard. The production starts there and builds, and builds...

A silent film from 1919 called Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari, directed by Robert Weine, inspired the production. It was recorded in 1997 and won the Independant Publishers Award for Best "Direct to Audio" production in 1998. It's available from Amazon or Audible.com.

Yuri Rasovsky's other audio dramas include the 2000X series (available from Fantastic Audio and Audible.com) and an eight-part audio dramatization of Homer's Odyssey (available from Blackstone Audio).

The Man Who Traveled in Elephants by Robert A. Heinlein, adaptation by Brad Lineweaver Starring Harlan Ellison, Daniel Taylor, Trudy Leonard, Karen Barrett and others. Introduced by Ray Bradbury. Atlanta Radio Theater Company, 40 minutes
The Man Who Traveled in Elephants This lively title is the first of a series the Atlanta Radio Theater Company is calling its "Dean's List", which will include further dramatized Heinlein stories. Ray Bradbury aptly introduces the story, for the story is very Bradbury-esque. (During that introduction, Bradbury says that his stories are Heinlein-like, and not the other way around.)

This story revolves around John Watts, who retires and decides to visit every fair and circus in the country with his wife. After his wife dies, things are not the same for him. He visits one last fair - one more magical than all the others.

Some future titles: The Menace from Earth, Our Fair City, "All You Zombies-", and Solution Unsatisfactory.

The Invisible Man Starring Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie with many others Script by Nat Segaloff and John de Lancie
The Invisible Man Alien Voices is an audio theater group headed by Leonard Nimoy and John de Lancie, and featuring several Star Trek alumni. This production features a great script and strong performances that provide a fresh look at this H.G. Wells classic. Other available titles include The Time Machine, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and The Lost World.

Some more audio drama not to miss:

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, BBC
The BBC radio shows were the original and finest incarnation of this hilarious series written by Douglas Adams.

2000X, Hollywood Theater of the Ear
Available now from Fantastic Audio -- don't miss Heinlein's By His Bootstraps starring Richard Dreyfuss and Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman, starring the author, Harlan Ellison.

There are several Old-Time radio series available from several different places. Most popular are the Dimension X and X Minus One series, which both contain stories by the best active writers of the time; Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, and a host of others.

NOTES

The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, January and February 2003 In my last column, I wrote about three audiobooks available from Audible.com; The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine 2002, The Best of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine 2002, and The Best of Analog Science Fiction and Fact Magazine 2002. Since then, Audible.com has followed up with two more titles worth some attention; The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, January and February 2003 and The Best of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine March and April 2003. I hope they keep this up -- I'm enjoying them greatly.

Copyright © 2003 Scott Danielson

Scott discovered the world of SF audio years ago, when he spent hours a day in his car. His commute has since shortened considerably, but his love for audio remains. By trade, he's an control engineer for a manufacturing plant. Aside from reading and writing science fiction, his hobbies include community theater, where he can often be found behind the soundboard or (much less often) on the stage. Scott can also be found at SFFAudio.


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