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  • gilwilson 7:59 PM on March 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , space travel,   

    “Doctor Who: Blackout” by Oli Smith 

    “Doctor Who: Blackout”
    by Oli Smith
    Read by Stuart Milligan
    Published by AudioGo
    1 hour 17 minutes

    I am really loving these short (1 hour or so) audio stories released by AudioGo. They are each like an episode of Doctor Who and the perfect filler while waiting for the next season of Doctor Who to come back to television. The BBC has just announced a new companion for the Doctor for the next season, so while I get even more antsy for the next season I have these audiobooks to fill my time. I believe this is the last short story I have for the 11th Doctor, so the next ones will be full-fledged audiobooks from AudioGo (they have lots from all the Doctors).

    This “episode” begins with a patient, Clint, who has had dreams of abductions talking to a doctor, but as it turns out it is The Doctor. The Doctor, Amy and Rory have landed the TARDIS in Pennsylvania but on November 9th, 1965 have taken a train to New York to find a cure for a poison that is in the water, and Clint seems to be a key.

    Rory and Amy have caused a fireplug to overpressurize and in turn the water spray reveals a ship floating above New York City. Soon people start freezing and exploding and it is up to the Doctor to find the cure for the poisoning. The aliens cause a blackout which makes things difficult for the Doctor to get a message, or rather a warning, to the aliens, but assisted by his trusty sonic screwdriver the Doctor fights on.

    The reader, Stuart Milligan, did a very nice job creating the all around feel of a Doctor Who story. The writing was a perfect fit into the world of Doctor Who and, Milligan was able to bring to life the action and emotion of the story. His voicework was very good when representing the Doctor, Rory and even Amy, however his representation of Clint seemed a bit forced, I think he was trying to go for a typical rough New York cab driver with the voice, but it didn’t seem to work for me. The rest of the voice work was nearly perfect. In case you aren’t familiar, Milligan portrayed Nixon in the “Impossible Astronaut” episode of the program.

    Definitely a must listen for any Doctor Who fan. Nothing you couldn’t go without, but definitely a story for filling in some of the time before the new season.


  • gilwilson 9:49 PM on March 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , jason arnopp, meera syal, meme spawn, , , space travel,   

    Doctor Who: The Gemini Contagion by Jason Arnopp 

    Doctor Who: The Gemini Contagion
    by Jason Arnopp
    Read by Meera Syal
    Published by AudioGo (2011)
    Running Time: 1hrs 30mins

    First of all I want to scream out how much I love the BBC and AudioGo for making these Doctor Who audiobooks available. I am antsy and eagerly awaiting the next season of Doctor Who and in the meantime I’m getting my fix of the Doctor, by listening to these adventures through time and space with the 11th doctor. When I run out of the 11th doctor I will go back to the 10th (who, portrayed by David Tenant, was my second favorite Doctor to Tom Baker) But these adventures with the 11th Doctor (portrayed by Matt Smith) are loads of fun. Right now I’m going through all the audio releases that are three hours or less, and having a blast.

    This audio release is read by Meera Syal, who appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who; The Hungry Earth Cold Blood. She portrayed Dr. Nasreen Chaudhry, a geologist in the year 2020. Along with Tony Mack, she was digging down into the Earth further than any other human ever had before. They discover a race of reptilians that have lived under the Earth for years and will do so for many more. Anyway, at first I was wondering if her reading this book would mean that her character would make an appearance in this story, and reading the cover notes I couldn’t see how. As I listened I realized she wouldn’t, but Meera did a superb job in reading the story. She was able to capture the quirks of the 11th Doctor and Amy Pond perfectly and with the help of the subtle music score was able to present the emotions and excitement throughout the story.

    The story follows the The Doctor and Amy as they arrive on the ice-planet Vinsk in the year 2112. Where the Zalnex company is getting ready to release a miracle hand lotion. The lotion provides the user to understand all languages. The problem, the shipment is being sent to Earth and the lotion was never tested on humans. As it turns out humans are susceptible to insanity after using the hand lotion, because the human brain cannot sort out the languages at once.

    The doctor that created the lotion cloned a race called “Meme Spawn” and used them to manufacture the lotion, by introducing the microscopic spawn into the lotion where they psychically link to the host allowing the host to understand the languages. To make things worse the cloned Meme Spawn, are able to mutate and become a sort of flying starfish creature and conquer the hosts.

    The Doctor and Amy race against time to keep the shipment arriving on earth. But along the way Amy becomes “infected” and the Doctor must make the decision of whether to save Amy or the Human Race.

    This romp through space and time is just as fun as any episode of Doctor Who and sorts itself out in true Doctor Who fashion.

  • gilwilson 8:55 PM on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , between planets, , , , bruce coville, earth, full cast audio, , , rebels, , , , space travel, venus   

    “Between Planets” by Robert A. Heinlein 

    “Between Planets”
    by Robert A. Heinlein
    Multicast performance
    Produced by Full Cast Audio
    TRT: 7 hours

    It’s time for some classic science-fiction and you can’t get much “classicer” than Robert A. Heinlein.  Yeah, I know I made up a word but when it comes to Heinlein you know you are in store for some sci-fi that is rich in all things that make good sci-fi.  From the author of “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land” this book is no exception to the excellence that goes into and comes out of a Heinlein story.  He writes the full story.  He doesn’t just write a space adventure, he also creates a political and social culture around and throughout the story that keeps the story on pace.

    “Between the Planets” was originally published as a series in “Blue Book” magazine in 1951 under the title, “Planets in Combat” and was serialized in “Boys’ Life” magazine in 1978 as a monthly cartoon series.   Scribner published the hardcover version in 1951.  Knowing it appeared as a cartoon series in “Boys’ Life” is a hint that, yes, this is a young adult readers book.  With that in mind, I can think of no one other than one of the champions of YA books than Bruce Coville to take command of turning this fun piece of sci-fi into an audio book.  Coville is an author of young adult and children’s stories and novels, especially some really fun scary stories.  He is also the founder of Full Cast Audio.

    Full Cast Audio takes a nice approach to creating an audiobook, using a full cast of performers and keeping the productions family-friendly and with age appropriate casting.  Full Cast Audio also throws in some original music for the chapter separations that make this a fine listening experience.  I will admit that some of the younger voices weren’t as honed in the acting craft as some of the others, but that was easily forgiven due to the fact that the voice matched the character.  All in all I’d say, a job very well done in bring this Heinlein story to life.

    Don Harvey is about to graduate from his Dude Ranch type High School on Earth when his parents, who are living on Mars send for him to come to Mars before graduation.  They also leave him with the mysterious message to be sure and see a family friend, Dr. Dudley Jefferson, and to bring the package that Dr. Jefferson gives him to Mars.  At this time in Earth’s future, there is an uprising from the Colony on Venus who want to end Taxation without representation.   Not being born on Earth, Don has yet to declare whether he is a citizen of Earth, Venus or Mars and all the powers that be treat him with suspicion.

    Dr. Jefferson dies mysteriously after giving Don a ring to take to Don’s father.  Don then blasts off for the orbiting space station which is the launching point to all the planetary colonies.  The problem, Venusian rebels have taken over the station and are directing residents of Venus to Venus and those of Earth back to Earth.  Don can’t get to Mars so He goes to Venus, knowing that there is something he needs to do with that ring.

    A coming of age story in which Don Harvey learns to make life-changing decisions and those trying to keep secrets learn that Don is not the “kid” they think he is.   With Venusian Dragons, and military coups this book will keep you on the edge throughout and with the very nice production from Full Cast Audio, the story will come to life putting you “Between Planets.”

  • gilwilson 9:26 PM on June 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , john barrowman, space travel, ,   

    Torchwood Audio Dramas “Lost Souls” “Asylum” “Golden Age” “The Dead Line” Directed by Karen McAll 

    Torchwood Audio Dramas
    “Lost Souls”
    “Golden Age”
    “The Dead Line”
    Directed by Karen McAll
    each episode approx 1 hour.

    Once again I’m astounded by the creative sci-fi writing for British television.  I’ve been a fan of Doctor Who from way back.  Get past the what are now, and even then, considered cheesy special effects,  and you find some very smart writing in these series.  When the Doctor Who TV series experienced a rebirth back in 2005 I was wary.  I was afraid they would not be able to keep up with my image of Doctor Who, I was a huge fan of Tom Baker’s portrayal of the Doctor.  How could they keep up with the humor and the fun in space and time travel?  Well only recently I decided to give it a try.  I had six seasons to watch and I watched them all.  I was astounded. The writing was excellent and all of the new doctors kept the tradition alive.  David Tennant was my favorite of the New Doctors, since he was the closest to what Tom Baker brought to the character.

    The cool thing about the new series was that it launched two spin-off series. One was aired on CBBC (the children’s portion of BBC tv), “The Sarah Jane Adventures.”  This series focused on the longtime Doctor Who companion Sarah Jane Smith.  The adventures were more of a live action Scooby Doo series (sans semi-talking dog, unless you count K-9) It was a kids show but the Doctor made a couple of appearances and the aliens were all ones that were experienced on Doctor Who.   There was even a crossover episode of Doctor Who which featured Sarah and her alien hunting crew along with the crew of the other spin-off, “Torchwood.”

    This second spin-off series, “Torchwood,” was one that really got my attention.  “Torchwood,” is a series about alien hunters that were established by Queen Victoria in 1879.  The Doctor saved the Queen from a werewolf at the Torchwood Estate, in Scotland.  After the Doctor saves her she knights him and then banishes him and establishes Torchwood to keep out all aliens.  (Something note here; Torchwood is an anagram for Doctor Who.)  Later in the Doctor Who Series Torchwood blasts an alien ship out of the sky, which The Doctor had just made it’s passengers promise to never come to Earth again.  Going against the Doctor on this the British Prime Minister learns not to cross the Doctor.  In yet another episode of Doctor Who Torchwood is destroyed by the Daleks.

    The Torchwood team is led by Captain Jack Harkness,  who is a time agent and can never die.  He met up with Doctor Who early in the new series and several times there after.  After Torchwood is destroyed, Captain Jack rebuilds Torchwood because “The 21st Century is when Everything changes.”  He rebuilds the base in Cardiff, Wales, because there is a rift in time and space above/around Cardiff that aliens and time travelers find their way through.  His team’s job is to detain the arrivals or if possible send them back, keeping the world safe from aliens.     So far the series has run 3 seasons with a fourth one coming soon, according to rumor at the time of this writing.

    Set between the end of Series Two and the beginning of Series Three, the BBC aired four Torchwood radio dramas featuring the cast of the series, with the first airing September, 2008 and the last three July, 2009.  That is the focus of this review.  After I watched all of the new Doctor Who series and all the Torchwood series, I had to find more material.  There are other audiobooks available but I wanted to start out with these radio dramas.   They are available separately on amazon.com at last check.

    So, let’s talk about these audio dramas.  They all feature the full cast and are written just as well as the TV series.  If you want to continue in the Torchwood world it is best to start with these since they do feature the full cast.  They also include the same music as the TV broadcasts as well as phenomenal sound effects that blast you into the middle of the story.

    Here’s a summary of each episode:

    “Lost Souls” written by Joseph Lidster, begins with Captain Jack Harkness and his crew chasing weevils (annoying aliens that are constantly coming through the rift).  Jack gets a call from Doctor Martha Jones, a former companion of The Doctor, who needs his help at CERN.  Just hours away from a major discovery in particle physics people have gone missing.  Torchwood arrives to find that the people have a particle missing from their atoms and must save the Earth from something brought to our univers via the Hadron Collider.

    “Asylum” written by Anita Sullivan, is about a girl that comes from the future through the rift, she is caught shoplifting clothes and Torchwood is called in because of the weapon she’s carrying.  Turns out the young girl is from a bleak future and has a secret.  Why did she come back in time and more important who sent her?

    “Golden Age” written by  James Goss, tells the story of the Delhi branch of Torchwood which was closed down by Captain Jack Harkness back in 1924 yet the people inside are not only still receiving packages addressed to Torchwood but have also found a way to freeze time.  This can’t be good for planet Earth.

    “The Dead Line” written by Phil Ford is more of a haunting tale of a phone call you never want to receive.  People in Cardiff are winding up in the hospital after answering the phone and going into a coma.  When the call is traced the phone number is one that has not been connected since 1975.  When Jack answers one of those calls it is up to Ianto Jones and Eve Myles, the other two members of Torchwood to find answers.

    Four great sci-fi stories that will leave you wanting more.  You can always go back and watch the series and check out the other audiobooks based on the series.  Glad I could get you started.

  • gilwilson 3:11 AM on April 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , beyond all weapons, , , , , , , , , space travel   

    “Beyond All Weapons” by L. Ron Hubbard 

    “Beyond All Weapons”
    by L. Ron Hubbard
    Multicast performance
    Produced by Galaxy Audio
    Approx. 2 hours.

    I have figured it out, right before I start any audio book which is 10 hours or more of listening time, I’m going to fill in with an intermission of one of these L. Run Hubbard audio pulps.  Back in the day before a movie the audience would get treated to a cartoon, serial or news reel.  Well these audio pulps released by Galaxy Audio are just like those serials, and some of the stories are “cartoony,” in that they are fun and short.  These larger than life characters and interesting adventures are the perfect fit for a two hour audio enjoyment.

    One of the main reasons for the audio enjoyment is the great acting.  In researching these stories, I found they put the actors in the same room at the same time so they can see what each other is doing and work off that, much like the old time radio shows.  Another feature is the original music composed specifically for each book.  Very creative and innovative audio book production by Galaxy Audio.

    The latest in my adventures is the book “Beyond All Weapons,” a collection of stories that were originally published in the science-fiction pulps of the 40s and 50s.  This audio book contains three sci-fi stories that demonstrate Hubbard’s science fiction mastery but also the stories in this particular edition seem to be a bit more brainy.  In fact the first one is a very neat explanation of Einstein’s theory of Relativity as it pertains to space travel.

    Let me sum up each story one by one.

    “Beyond All Weapons”, originally published in “Super Science Stories,” January, 1950 is about the colonists of Mars wanting to get away from and destroy the tyrannical war mongers that have taken over Earth and threaten to take over Mars.  The fighters have recently acquired a new fuel that will enable them to reach light speed and take the “refugees” out of the system.  They manage to have enough for ships to arrive at a new habitable planet after 9 days, covering several thousand light years.   Once settled on the planet they make a weapon that will enable them to return to Earth and defeat the tyrannical government.  But returning to Earth they find all life gone.  The twist in the story not only gives the brain a good physica problem to solve but Hubbard has also built in a bit of a morality tale into this story that will leave thinking philosophically.

    “Strain,” originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, April 1942, tells of a prisoner of war and how the enemy tortures him to find the secrets of an impending invasion.  This story is one of futility and pain as the officer does everything he can think of to escape and once that is determined to be an unobtainable goal he becomes determined not to share the secrets.  Once again Hubbard throws that inevitable twist in the story that would leave a fan of “The Twilight Zone,” gasping.

    The final story “The Invaders,” originally published in Astounding Science Fiction, January 1942, is a little more of a light hearted story, especially when compared to the previous two emotional stories.  This one tells of a technician that was sent to a nebula where a rare and valuable crystal is being mined.  However the miners are under constant attack from beings that seem to adapt to each weapon being used.  The technician is sent to create a new weapon that will destroy the creatures so the crystal can be mined safely.  The officer in charge of the the mining facility seems to do everything to keep the technician from destroying the creatures.  The technician wants to explore outside the nebula and deep inside, with no real concern for the creatures, but the officer just wants his weapon.  Eventually the problem is solved but I will warn you, this one is very deep philosophically and yet a bit humorous.

    All in all these pulps bring back the years of the pulp magazines of the mid 20th century and bring back some fun stories that should not be forgotten.

  • gilwilson 8:23 PM on April 3, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , odd couple, red dwarf, , , space travel   

    “Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers” By Grant Naylor 

    “Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers”
    By Grant Naylor
    Multicast Performance
    BBC radio broadcast of Abridged audiobook
    Approx 3 hours.

    Recently I watched the entire 8 seasons of the British space comedy TV series, Red Dwarf.  I didn’t watch the series much when it actually aired (on PBS here in the states), but I did catch a few episodes and thought them to be funny…very funny actually, with that great sarcasm and dry wit that the Brits do best.  After watching all 8 seasons, I kept asking, “Is that all?” It couldn’t be there was too much more fun to be had.  The actors were brilliant in their roles as a diverse set of characters pretty much marooned in space, at least until season 7, then things got weird (weirder?).   Anyway as I found out that wasn’t all.  There are books out there, my fave, cool, let me at ’em.  I found that the first book had been broadcast on BBC Radio with the original cast and that’s the one I had to get.   After all Douglas Adams made some great strides in the retelling of his “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” on BBC Radio, so this had to be great.  Yes it was and more so.

    Here’s the premise of the series “Red Dwarf;” Dave Lister is one of the lowliest crew members on the interstellar mining ship Red Dwarf.  He’s the guy that cleans the gunk out of the chicken soup vending machines.   Arnold Rimmer is is boss of sorts.  Dave is a laid back curry eating, beer drinking, cigarette smoking  slob who just wants to go back to Earth.  Arnold Rimmer is the overachiever that never can pass his officer’s exam.  They are bunkmates on the Red Dwarf.  On the last day of their lives, okay last day of Rimmer’s life, Dave is placed in time stasis as punishment for bringing an unquarantined animal (a cat by the name of Frankenstein) on board.  Time stasis is a pretty cool punishment, if you ask me.  The punished is locked in and for the time of sentence (3 years in Lister’s case) time goes by for everyone else and not you, okay you lose 3 years of pay in this case, but to the punished it only takes a moment.

    Alright, so Lister is locked into stasis.  The Red Dwarf then has a core meltdown creating hydrogen bomb effect on board, thus all lifeforms destroyed but electronics and the ship are fine.  So Lister is release out of stasis 3 million years later after all harm of radiation has passed and he finds himself not only alone on the ship but alone in the universe, yes the human race is extinct.  So the ships computer, Hollie, revives Lister’s bunkmate, Rimmer, as a hologram.  The technology is so energy consumptive that the ship’s resource can only support one hologram.  The problem is what Hollie thinks may save Lister’s sanity, actually may cause him to go insane, picture “The Odd Couple” in space and you have the comedy makings of this fiasco.

    It is soon discovered that during the 3 million years that infamous cat of Lister’s was safe behind cargo bay doors and reproduced over the timespan and eventually the cats evolved over 3 million years into Felis Sapiens.  Humanoids but still cats at heart, any cat lover would love this character.  Later in this book after discovering a crash landed Earth space craft the crew is rounded out with Kryten, a mechanoid, a robot designed to serve.

    This audiobook is basically a retelling of the first season of the series and a portion of season two.  The additional material is what makes this a big bonus.  Not only do you get the retelling but also some back story, like how Lister got to be on the Red Dwarf, more information on the evolution of Cat, and some extra fun information.

    If you are a fan of Red Dwarf, you’ll love this audio book, If you have never watched a single episode, check out this audio book and then get ready for the urge to watch the series.

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