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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

The Terminal Experiment by Robert J. Sawyer; Narrated by Paul Hecht Recorded Books, Unabridged, 9.25 hours
The Terminal Experiment Robert J. Sawyer won the Nebula Award (1995) with this novel, and after listening to the audio version, I believe I would have voted for it also. There is so much of interest to the listener in this book -- artificial intelligence, a good murder mystery, a nicely realized near-future, and, as I've come to expect from Sawyer's novels, thought-provoking philosophy.

The novel's main character is Dr. Peter Hobson, a scientist who, much to his surprise, records evidence of a distinct energy that leaves one's body at the time of death. Several characters immediately label that energy "the soul". Sawyer explores the implications of this discovery in a couple of ways. Through news items, the reader sees how the world reacts as a whole. Through Peter Hobson, the discoverer of the soul, we see a more personal reaction. He decides to explore the meaning of life after death further by transferring his entire neural net into a computer. He makes a total of three copies. One he leaves unchanged, the other two he alters, by severing neural nets devoted to specific things, in order to simulate both immortality and life after death.

But his inner conflicts follow the simulacra, and they become more than experiments.

This is science fiction at its most thought provoking. The exploration of ideas and their implications is fundamental for good hard SF. Sawyer definitely succeeds in that exploration here, but then goes a step farther, making it personal and therefore even more meaningful.

Paul Hecht, an actor who has appeared in numerous Broadway plays, performs the book for Recorded Books. My first impression was that his cadence was too slow. I wanted the book to move more quickly. But as I settled into his style, I found his narration extremely insightful and rewarding.

First Meetings: Four Stories from the Enderverse by Orson Scott Card; Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Amanda Karr Fantastic Audio, Unabridged, 5 hours
First Meetings As a fan of Orson Scott Card's Ender series, I was eager to listen to this audiobook. It contains four stories, three of which add to the overall Ender story. The fourth is the original "Ender's Game" novelette that appeared in Analog in 1977.

The first story, "The Polish Boy", is about Ender Wiggin's father, John Paul, who is four years old. His large family resides in Poland, and is visited by the Hegemony who, by this time, is already looking for the next military genius.

In "Teacher's Pet", an older John Paul meets his wife-to-be, Teresa, when he is a student in a college course she's teaching as a grad student.

Next is the original published version of "Ender's Game".

"Investment Counselor" details the first meeting between Ender and Jane, an intelligence that has come to life among the ansibles.

All of these stories are well-told, well-narrated, and should be of great interest to any fan of the series.

Deathstalker: Rebellion Episode 1: Opening Gambit by Simon R. Green; Performed by Richard Rohan, Terence Aselford, Colleen Delany, and Nanette Savard Defiance Audio, Abridged, 3 hours
Deathstalker: Rebellion Episode 1 This is the first of five episodes of a new series published by Defiance Audio. (Other series include Deathstalker, the first of Simon Green's Deathstalker novels.) Deathstalker: Rebellion is Space Opera defined -- plenty of action with empires at stake.

Owen Deathstalker is traveling with the beautiful Hazel d'Arc, a pirate. Together they form a plan for the eventual overthrow of Queen Lionstone XIV. They plan to do this by starting small, and building a following for their rebellion piece by piece.

Owen is the latest in a long line of warriors, bred with the ability to "boost", or for a brief time to be able to push his body to incredible feats while fighting. With Hazel at his side, they begin their journey.

The narrators maintain the breakneck pace of the story beautifully. Sound effects and music enhance the multi-voice production without overwhelming the performances.

Defiance Audio now has a website, where their titles can be downloaded at very reasonable prices.


I continue to discover science fiction radio shows that are available on the Internet. Sci-Fi Overdrive is the best of the ones I've been hearing. It's nationally syndicated on the Business Talk Radio network, and runs once a week. I've been listening via their website (listed in the link list above left), where they have an archive of their past shows. Check it out.

Speaking of internet radio, a recent Dragon Page show featured interviews with Stan Lee and Peter David. It may still be available on their site.

Americana Publishing obtained the assets of Sunset Productions, which includes several Roger Zelazny audiobooks. They have plans to re-release all ten Amber books, abridged and read by the author.

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Frank Muller, the narrator of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series, is still recovering from a 2001 motorcycle accident. Find info at Ric Johnson's site here. Another excellent narrator, George Guidall, has been selected to narrate the remaining three novels, which will all be released in the next 17 months. Guidall also narrated the revised edition of The Gunslinger, the first volume in the series, which was released last month.

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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