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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 Callahan Chronicals by Spider Robinson; read by Barrett Whitener Blackstone Audiobooks, 16.5 hours, Unabridged
The Callahan Chronicals This is an omnibus edition of the first three collections in Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon series, which are Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Time Travelers Strictly Cash, and Callahan's Secret.

Callahan's is definitely a place I would frequent, if it existed. Somewhere on Long Island, Callahan runs a saloon whose patrons share pain and joy, listening to each other's stories and the stories of many a mysterious stranger with equal attention. The characters, the empathy... that's really the thing here. The empathy. Spider Robinson is an extremely empathic writer, able to reach a bit deeper down than your average science fiction author. The results are these excellent, often touching stories of people I'd like to meet in a place I'd like to visit.

A typical Callahan's story finds the bar's regulars participating in the numerous and hilarious activities they've come up with -- most of them featuring puns or the highest order. Someone -- a stranger, or one of their own -- then interrupts them with a tale. Time travelers, aliens, they are all drawn to Callahan's to tell their story.

Barrett Whitener is exceptional here, perfectly suited for this material. His nuanced performance adds just the right touch in nearly every story.

The audiobook includes three forewords -- there is a double dose of nostalgia from Spider Robinson and a bit of history from Ben Bova, taking most of Tape 1 Side 1. I found them interesting and a worthy addition to this long book. I'm glad Blackstone Audio kept those in there.

Timeline by Michael Crichton; read by John Bedford Lloyd Random House Audio, 15 hours, Unabridged
Timeline Timeline was an entertaining listen from start to finish. This is the first time I've listened to or read one of Michael Crichton's novels, and judging from this one, Crichton certainly knows how to tell an exciting story, but one with serious scientific flaws.

Crichton does spend a significant amount of time in the book explaining its main premise -- time travel. Well, it appears to be time travel, but, as explained in the novel, it's really travel between universes. Because there are an infinite number of universes out there, then every possible time exists somewhere, right now. The plot of the novel has several characters going back, or over, to the past after a professor who has gone back and can't return. The story follows both the folks who went back and the folks who remain in the present universe monitoring the equipment used to make this all happen. The characters who remain often wonder if the folks they sent back are still alive, but it seems that if there really are an infinite number of universes, the question is meaningless because they are both.

The main source of enjoyment for me was the setting and the events that occur in the past. The travelers end up going back to the 14th century France, where they encounter knights, maidens, monks, and peasants, portrayed in what I felt was a very convincing manner, though I am certainly no expert. The story was interesting and exciting as they experience this earlier version of our world while trying to find the man they were sent to retrieve. I suspect that this will make a very good film. (Currently scheduled for release late this month.)

John Bedford Lloyd does a very good job with the narration. He provides several discernable characters, and handles the action with skill.

Tales for a Stormy Night: A Pandora's Box of Classic Chillers Compiled by Yuri Rasovsky Blackstone Audio, 9 hours, Unabridged stories & Audio drama
For those with an autumn taste of the macabre, I invite you to experience Tales for a Stormy Night: A Pandora's Box of Classic Chillers compiled by audio dramatist Yuri Rasovsky and published by Blackstone Audiobooks. This compilation contains a mixture of narrated stories and dramatized pieces from a number of classic authors.

My favorites were: The wickedly humourous "Oil of Dog" by Ambrose Bierce, a story told by a man who feels responsible for the disintegration of the family business; Edgar Allen Poe's memorable "The Cask of Amontillado", brilliantly performed; H.H. Munro's tale of a truth-telling cat named "Tobemori"; and Charlotte de Quincy's epistolary tale of revenge, "Perfidy and Perfection".

The tales are macabre, often atypical, well-produced, well-read, and well-performed. It fulfilled my desire for a bit of darkness this autumn... close the blinds, turn off the television, and give it a listen.

The complete list of contents:
"The Ghostly Rental" by Henry James
"The Terrible Old Man" by H.P. Lovecraft
"Oil of Dog" by Ambrose Bierce
"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe
"The Fall of the House of Usher" by Edgar Allen Poe
"Something Lies Beyond the Scene" by Dame Edith Sitwell
"Tobemori" by H.H. Munro
"The Body Snatcher" by Robert Louis Stevenson
Purgatory by William Butler Yeats
"Bonche the Silent" by I.L. Peretz
"The Horla" by Guy de Maupassant
"Mimi-Nashi-Hoichi" by Lafcadio Hearn
"Perfidy and Perfection" by Charlotte de Quincy

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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