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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

Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card Read by David Birney, Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir, Stefan Rudnicki, Fantastic Audio, Unabridged, 12 hours
Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card Read by David Birney, Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir, Amanda Karr, Lisa Nemacheck, John Rubenstein, Stefan Rudnicki, and Don Schlossman Fantastic Audio, Unabridged, 15 hours
Shadow Puppets Speaker for the Dead Over the 18 or so months I've been doing this column, I've written several times on works of Orson Scott Card. Here are two more first-rate audio versions of Card's books from Fantastic Audio.

Speaker for the Dead is the second in the original Ender series. Ender has left the Earth and lands on Lusitania, a world containing an alien race with strange ways living side by side with Portuguese colonists. Card takes the character of Ender Wiggin to new depths as a Speaker for the Dead; Wiggin confronts the mystery of the alien species and the mysteries of some humans as well.

Shadow Puppets continues the current second series. It's the third book of four. Bean, Petra, and others from Ender's army are young adults now. Peter Wiggin, Ender's older brother, has plans of his own as Hegemon.

These audios are simply excellent, there are no other words. Again, as in earlier installments of the audio series, different actors are used as the story changes point of view. I find this tremendously effective, assisting both in both the clarity and the comfort of the story. There are no weak readers in the bunch; the story moves forward nicely. I highly recommend all of the Card titles from Fantastic Audio, without exception.

Dreamcatcher by Stephen King Read by Jeffrey DeMunn Simon and Schuster Audio, Unabridged, 23 hours
Dreamcatcher Dreamcatcher is primarily a horror novel, but the bad guys in this one are extraterrestrial. This book is typical Stephen King, which is to say that it's long, the characters are deep and affecting, there are lots of flashbacks, and it's an engaging story.

The story revolves around four men who have been friends since childhood. Every year, they meet for a vacation in November at a place they call the Hole in the Wall, a cabin in the woods. Two of them arrive at the cabin, and two are on their way there when the extraterrestrial excrement hits the fan. In addition to these four men, the most notable characters are Kurtz, a military man whose assignment is to kill the ET's, and Dudditz, a retarded boy who is in many ways the fifth member of the Hole in the Wall gang.

Jeffrey DeMunn is a first-rate reader. His voice is a perfect selection for this horror story, and he's energetic, clear, and a pleasure to listen to for the entire 23 hour length.

Every Stephen King novel I've heard on audio has had the benefit of and excellent reader. For your October listening, I heartily recommend Delores Claiborne, read by Frances Sternhagen or Desperation read by Kathy Bates. My favorite Stephen King novel (one of my favorite novels, period) is The Stand, which I recently discovered exists on audio from Books-on-Tape. I haven't yet heard it, but it's read by Grover Gardner, one of the best readers in the business. (Note: This version appears to be the shorter version of the book. King was required to cut the book because the publisher wanted it shorter. Later, he restored the pages he was forced to cut. This is NOT the uncut version.)

Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber Read by Stefan Rudnicki Fantastic Audio, Unabridged, 7 hours
Gather, Darkness This was my introduction to Fritz Leiber (1910-1992). Gather, Darkness has been called his first significant work of science fiction. It was originally published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1943, then released as a novel in 1950.

The story takes place in the far future. Scientists started to disguise their art as religion in order to remain important to humanity. Gadgets were used to convince the masses of miracles. Over the years, the hierarchy grows in strength until it is actively suppressing the people. A revolution occurs, with their own science - disguised as witchcraft to combat the church.

I found the whole novel riveting. Stefan Rudnicki's deep voice adds resonance to the faux religious characters. And the material was fascinating. This was a fine introduction to Leiber's work for me. I'm eager to pick up some of his other work.

Song of the Wanderer: The Unicorn Chronicles Part II by Bruce Coville Read by the author and a Full Cast Unabridged, 4 cassettes, Full Cast Audio
Song of the Wanderer This audio was a story with a great message for the youngsters. Since the cover says "ages 8 to 12", I listened to this one with my 8 year old son, Chris. He loved it, and I enjoyed it too.

The story is about Cara, a young girl who travels through Luster, a place where unicorns live. They fled there from the Earth to get away from hunters. She travels across the land to get her grandmother. The story progresses as Cara discovers things about her grandmother and meets new and interesting characters.

The story is read by Bruce Coville and a full cast. Everyone does a great job. The result is a sort of cross between an audio drama and a straight narration. There were times that I felt the narrator should step aside and let the characters do the talking, but overall I found it very good. My son was rapt. In his words, "You gotta hear this; there's unicorns and griffins and Cara can do really cool things with magic."

Enough said. Enjoy!

Copyright © 2002 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 electrical engineer. 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.

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