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Vox: SF For Your Ears
by Scott Danielson

Other Vox: SF For Your Ears Columns

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

Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination by Professor Eric Rabkin, University of Michigan, published by The Teaching Company, contains 8 thirty minute lectures

"The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence."
-- Mary Shelley, Preface to Frankenstein
The Teaching Company Thus begins what is widely recognized as the first science fiction novel: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. And with Frankenstein begins Eric Rabkin's course on Science Fiction, produced by the Teaching Company, and entitled Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination. Rabkin, a professor at the University of Michigan, presents 8 lectures that properly and firmly place science fiction in its nook in the history of literature.

Professor Rabkin's lectures are a listening pleasure. They are well organized, informative, and interesting. He presents the course as an overview of science fiction, calling Frankenstein the first true science fiction novel while acknowledging its inspiration from farther back in history. He lectures through to an introduction to cyberpunk, using Gibson's Neuromancer as his main illustration.

In each lecture, Rabkin summarizes several important books, some that I have read, and some that I haven't. The whole thing fascinated me; his discussion of Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe, the contributions made to the field by Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell, his lecture on hard SF (Clement, Clarke, and Forward), another on science fiction film, and the encouragement of the New Wave or writers by E.J. Carnell and Michael Moorcock of the British SF mag New Worlds.

I learned quite a bit from this course. Professor Rabkin presented much in the eight lectures. My only disappointment was that it ended -- he could have talked for another eight, and I still would have been glued. Enjoy!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, read by the author, published by Simon and Schuster Audioworks, unabridged, 8 hours
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft Since we're talking non-fiction, I thought I'd mention this one, which I know has a lot of interest among aspiring SF writers. I know many people who have read this book and have not only loved it, but also truly appreciated that Stephen King took the time to write this.

I listened to this one on audio, and felt the same appreciation. It is a very personal account of King's writing career, along with a very detailed description of how he does what he does. He also adds some inspirational get-off-your-butt speeches.

I really enjoyed this one; especially the audio version. King read this book himself, and I came away with the feeling that I had spent a couple of evenings with him, discussing common interests.

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, read by Jenny Sterlin, published by Recorded Books, Inc., unabridged, 26.5 hours
Doomsday Book Here is a time travel tome from Connie Willis that won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards for Best Novel.

In the book, it is common practice to send folks back in time to observe history in the making. Willis solves the paradox problem by allowing the universe to manage itself -- paradoxes are prevented because they simply can't happen. The universe won't allow it.

The story revolves around Kivrin, a grad student who is determined to visit the Middle Ages. Immediately after she is "dropped" through time, the technician responsible for the drop takes ill. He tries to convey to others that a problem exists, but loses consciousness before explaining himself. The novel then splits its time between the present and past, following both Kivrin's experiences in the brutal Middle Ages, and the folks in the present who are trying to retrieve her.

I enjoyed the book immensely. Willis presents a poignant picture of life in the Middle Ages along with an interesting view of our near future, should time travel become possible.

The audio was an excellent production. Jenny Sterlin performs the book well, her English accent fitting the material perfectly. She was energetic throughout, with a very pleasant voice.


The Teaching Company provides many college-level courses on both audio and video. I've listened to several of them, and have found each one an enriching experience. Their web site (check the link list) contains an outline of each course. I encourage checking them out! Here's a short list of their many courses that may be of interest:
Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy
Classical Mythology
Discovering the Middle Ages
Einstein's Relativity and the Quantum Revolution
Great Ideas of Philosophy
King Arthur and Chivalry
Search for Intelligent Life in Space

Copyright © 2001 Scott Danielson

Scott discovered the world of SF audio years ago, when he spent two hours a day in his car. His commute has since shortened considerably, but his love for audio remains.

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