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  • gilwilson 4:37 PM on January 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , tantor audio   

    Oliver Twist By: Charles Dickens 

    61zxRCSGv7L._SL500_Oliver Twist
    By: Charles Dickens
    Narrated by: Simon Vance
    Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
    Release date: 07-29-08
    Publisher: Tantor Audio

    In this day and age everyone pretty much knows Charles Dickens work, and the same could probably be said about Oliver Twist. On occasion I like to revisit classic stories, especially revisit in audiobook form. Most of the time I pick up on something I missed whether it’s because of the age difference (yeah I’m Old now, so what.) or maybe just because I do the audiobook version when revisiting and just listening to the story and letting it flow over me, either way it’s nice to discover something new each time.

    While on the subject of the audiobook version, let’s talk about the narrator, Simon Vance. Vance is one of my top 5 audiobook voices. He can give each character a unique voice while reading, that at times it seems as though more than one person is narrating. Sometimes it is just enough to know it is another voice but Vance can give the story that extra oomph that will help the listener get lost in the story.

    In case your not familiar with the story, this Dickens novel was a social commentary on how poverty affects all, not just the poor. Oliver is an orphan sent to live at the workhouse where his mother gave birth to him and experiences the abuse the workhouse caretakers express on the children in their care. He is then sent to be an apprentice for an Undertaker where Oliver gets abused and runs away. Once on the streets Oliver begins working for the shady Fagin while learning the tricks of the pick pocket trade from the Artful Dodger.

    Through Oliver Twists misadventures with the criminal element the reader/listener is taught that poverty creates problems for everyone and that we are all affected somehow. If you ask me, you definitely learn that crime does not pay, although you have to get through nearly all of the book for that to surface.

    Publisher’s Summary:

    One of Charles Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please, sir, I want some more”. After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

    Rife with Dickens’ disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation – and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

    (P)2008 Tantor

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  • gilwilson 9:40 PM on April 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , general zod, , krypton, , , , tantor audio, the last days of krypton,   

    “The Last Days of Krypton” by Kevin J. Anderson 

    “The Last Days of Krypton”
    by Kevin J. Anderson
    Read by William Dufris
    Produced by Tantor Media, 2007
    Approx 15.5 hours

    I have only recently become a fan of DC comics, “Make Mine Marvel” was my slogan, but after tackling audiobook novelizations of DC heroes I’ve received a more in depth knowledge of what makes up the DC Universe.   The only problem is that after almost a century of heroes it’s hard to keep continuity.  There have been many stories, for example, told of the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton.  Did the sun go supernova, did something strike the planet,did the planet implode?  An answer to each of these questions has appeard as a bit of an explanation throughout the run of Superman comics and if someone were to read all the comics from the beginning they may get a bit confused.  There are other questions I’ve had such as where did Supergirl come from, some versions she’s the cousin of Superman other’s she’s an angel.  Well if Krypton was destroyed how did she survive?   Remember the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve?   How did General Zod and his two assistants come to be trapped in the neutral zone? Then there’s Brainiac, what’s his story?

    Kevin J. Anderson has tried to sum up all these problems and write a history of Kal-el’s (Superman’s) home planet, Krypton in the days just before the little baby that would become Superman was blasted off toward Earth.  Kevin is not a stranger to taking an established piece of work and adding to it, he has teamed up with Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert, to add stories to the “Dune” universe of novels.  Having read and appreciated the work he has done in that realm I knew this would be a good book.    The interesting aspect of this novel is that it is really not a superhero story but rather a piece of science-fiction with some superhero potential added to push the story along.  This story not only explores the destruction of Krypton but also reveals the politics of this planet that just wanted to stay alone in the universe.

    The reader, William Dufris, did an adequate job of reading the book, but there were times when some of the characters seemed parodies in the vocal changes.  It’s like Dufris wanted to turn this into a superhero story from with similar vocalizations to the ’60s “Batman” tv series.  There was no campiness to the writing but some of the dialogue was read that way.  But it was not enough to keep me from enjoying the fun sci-fi story from Kevin J. Anderson.

    The novel explores how Jor-el (Superman’s father) discovers the planet and its sun is dying, and through the xenophobic politics of the elders is constantly sent packing when he is trying to save the planet.  Soon alien forces invade some friendly some not so friendly and change the way the council works but it is too late and soon Commissioner Zod takes over and is determined to rule Krypton.  In doing so, Zod, sacrifices many lives needlessly and puts the planet at risk, it is up to Jor-el and Zor-el (Jor-el’s brother) to save Krypton.  Are their efforts to late?

    This story is full of adventure, excitement, passion and glory and is a perfect read for comic book and science fiction lovers alike.

    “The Last Days of Krypton”
    by Kevin J. Anderson
    Read by William Dufris
    Produced by Tantor Media, 2007
    Approx 15.5 hours

    I have only recently become a fan of DC comics, “Make Mine Marvel” was my slogan, but after tackling audiobook novelizations of DC heroes I’ve received a more in depth knowledge of what makes up the DC Universe.   The only problem is that after almost a century of heroes it’s hard to keep continuity.  There have been many stories, for example, told of the destruction of Superman’s home planet, Krypton.  Did the sun go supernova, did something strike the planet,did the planet implode?  An answer to each of these questions has appeard as a bit of an explanation throughout the run of Superman comics and if someone were to read all the comics from the beginning they may get a bit confused.  There are other questions I’ve had such as where did Supergirl come from, some versions she’s the cousin of Superman other’s she’s an angel.  Well if Krypton was destroyed how did she survive?   Remember the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve?   How did General Zod and his two assistants come to be trapped in the neutral zone? Then there’s Brainiac, what’s his story?

    Kevin J. Anderson has tried to sum up all these problems and write a history of Kal-el’s (Superman’s) home planet, Krypton in the days just before the little baby that would become Superman was blasted off toward Earth.  Kevin is not a stranger to taking an established piece of work and adding to it, he has teamed up with Brian Herbert, son of Frank Herbert, to add stories to the “Dune” universe of novels.  Having read and appreciated the work he has done in that realm I knew this would be a good book.    The interesting aspect of this novel is that it is really not a superhero story but rather a piece of science-fiction with some superhero potential added to push the story along.  This story not only explores the destruction of Krypton but also reveals the politics of this planet that just wanted to stay alone in the universe.

    The reader, William Dufris, did an adequate job of reading the book, but there were times when some of the characters seemed parodies in the vocal changes.  It’s like Dufris wanted to turn this into a superhero story from with similar vocalizations to the ’60s “Batman” tv series.  There was no campiness to the writing but some of the dialogue was read that way.  But it was not enough to keep me from enjoying the fun sci-fi story from Kevin J. Anderson.

    The novel explores how Jor-el (Superman’s father) discovers the planet and its sun is dying, and through the xenophobic politics of the elders is constantly sent packing when he is trying to save the planet.  Soon alien forces invade some friendly some not so friendly and change the way the council works but it is too late and soon Commissioner Zod takes over and is determined to rule Krypton.  In doing so, Zod, sacrifices many lives needlessly and puts the planet at risk, it is up to Jor-el and Zor-el (Jor-el’s brother) to save Krypton.  Are their efforts to late?

    This story is full of adventure, excitement, passion and glory and is a perfect read for comic book and science fiction lovers alike.

     
  • gilwilson 11:19 PM on December 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , frankenstein, , mary shelley, playing god, prometheus, , , tantor audio   

    “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley 

    “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”
    by Mary Shelley
    Read by Simon Vance
    Produced by Tantor Media, 2008
    Approx 8.5 hours

    Once again I get to revisit a classic.  I’ve read this book several times but this is the first time I’ve listened on audiobook.  Simon Vance does a first rate job of reading this story.  His vocal characterizations are spot on in every aspect I ever heard in my head while reading the story.  I think I may have found my new favorite audiobook voice.

    Each time I read this book I get something new out of it.  That’s what happens when the books are well thought out, and I’m guessing that’s one thing that makes them a classic.  This time around the theme of loneliness seemed to stick out with me.  Victor Frankenstein does not create the “creature” out of loneliness but the struggle from that point for the monster is loneliness.

    The story is told through a few viewpoints, first through a series of letters from Captain Walton, who spots the creature on the ice in the north and then rescues Dr. Frankenstein from the same icy waters, to his sister Margaret.  Then through Victor Frankenstein telling the Captain his tale, then through the creature telling his story to his creator, back to Frankenstein and back to Walton as a close.  A very unique storytelling format that not only works but definitely keeps the reader/listener attentive.

    The loneliness aspect really comes out when the creature is telling his story to his creator, Victor Frankenstein.  The creature is abandoned by Frankenstein after Frankenstein is disgusted by the final outcome, Frankenstein simply flees, leaving the newborn creature alone and confused.  The creature explores the world through a forest after it escapes and learns he is hideous when people run away from him in terror.  Frankenstein used various body parts to create the creature, I refuse to call him a monster, with the intent to make him larger than humans around eight feet tall.  The skin of the creature is yellowish with some transparency.  So as you can see from the description he would be a bit scary.  But he’s only misunderstood.

    Being abhorred by mankind, the creature sets off to be alone.  But along the way he finds shelter in a cubby hole attached to a family dwelling.  Over a long period of time the creature observes the family and learns that humans are actually loving caring beings.  He learns over the time to speak the language and even read.  He then begins to long for the family’s companionship but when trying to meet the blind father the son and daughter walk in and are horrified by his appearance and chase him away.

    The creature then runs off to Geneva, home of Frankenstein, and finds a young boy, who is young enough to not be influenced by the mores of the public and can learn to be friends without thinking the creature is something to fear.  The boy as it turns out is afraid but to make matters worse he is the younger brother of Victor Frankenstein.  The creature is agitated by the boy’s fear but becomes angered and vengeful when he realizes this is something he can take away from Frankenstein.

    When Frankenstein returns for the funeral of young William, the creature begins stalking him.  Frankenstein is then captured by the creature and the creature then states that he wishes Frankenstein to build another creature as a mate.   With no more loneliness the creature promises to move to where no man lives and live out his life with his bride.  Frankenstein is horrified by the thought of creating another horror and refuses.  The creature then begins to kill all those around Frankenstein making the doctor feel some of the creatures loneliness.  From there the hunt is on for Frankenstein to destroy his creature, which leads to the frozen North Sea and the where the book began with the ship picking up Dr. Frankenstein.

    All the creature wants is a friend.

     
  • gilwilson 10:35 PM on November 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , jekyll and hyde, philosophy, , , , tantor audio, the strange case of dr jekyll and mr hyde   

    “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson 

    “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”
    by Robert Louis Stevenson
    read by Scott Brick
    Produced by Tantor Media
    Approx 3 hours

    Like I say, every so often you have to go back and revisit the classics.  This time around I decided to listen to a tale that has been portrayed as a horror story, but in reality it is the exploration of man’s darker side.  I’ve seen the 1931 film starring Frederick March as the lead and while the movie focused on the horror side of things they did a pretty good job of showing the duality of man.  But the idea of drinking a potion to become a monster has been the bulk of what popular culture relates back to the Robert Louis Stevenson tale.

    One of the reasons I decided to give this book a listen was two-fold; 1 – because it was an audiobook and I could listen while I worked around the house, showered and commuted to work, after all a good audiobook can make a great soundtrack.  2 – because this book was read by Scott Brick.  I’ve always enjoyed listening to Scott Brick narrate books, he puts emotion into the readings that are subtle yet effective.  This time around, Brick brings to life the many aspects of late nineteenth century London.

    The book covers the piecing together of the story of how Mr. Edward Hyde can be so ruthless and yet be the man the Good Dr. Jekyll has bequeathed everything to through his will, and then through written correspondence from Dr. Jekyll is fully realized as he confesses to his exploration of the split personality through chemistry.  Hyde is observed brutally knocking over a child and when confronted offers no apology, instead he buys his way out.

    The problem arises when Jekyll discovers his original formula was tainted and after ordering the chemicals for more of his personality splitting concoction, finds they are pure and he cannot repeat the original without first finding what was the impurity in the original.  The original formula allowed him to shift back and forth at will between the two personalities.  The later formulas allow Hyde to take over without ever getting control of his situation.  But Jekyll has a plan and will sacrifice himself to save humanity from his dark side.

    Hey this novella is not too long of a read or listen, so do yourself a favor read a classic and enjoy some mystery with a little philosophy thrown in.

     
  • gilwilson 3:04 AM on March 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , duncan idaho, , , harkonnen, house harkonnen, , , , , tantor audio   

    House Harkonnen Book 2 of the Prelude to Dune series by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson 

    House Harkonnen
    Book 2 of the Prelude to Dune series
    by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
    Read by Scott Brick
    Produced by Tantor Audio
    approx 26.5 hours (unabridged)

    After the death of his father,Frank Herbert,  Brian Herbert discovered some manuscripts left behind with more information on the universe of Dune. Teaming up with Kevin J. Anderson they began a quest to add more stories to the “Duneverse” based on these manuscripts and their own talents in writing Science Fiction. The first was the “Prelude to Dune” series. This book “House Harkkonen” was the second in this series.

    Tantor Audio has re-released these books in audio book form and this time they aquired the award winning voice of Scott Brick. Back when I first started listening to audio books Scott Brick was the first reader I heard. After hearing his performance I became a huge fan of audio books. There’s a reason Mr. Brick has won so many awards. His voice is completely adjustable to any genre and his talents are fully expressed when reading a book with multiple characters. When expressing the voice of another speaker in the dialogue in the book he can, with the subtlest of changes, change characters so the listener is treated to what nearly sounds like a multi-cast performance. At the same time he can add the characters emotions into the voice to the utmost perfection. Scott Brick is no stranger to the “Dune” series, he has voiced many of the audio books so he knows the material and I would have to say he is the perfect choice for the re-issue of these books.

    “House Harkkonen” gives even more information on the buildup of what created the situations leading to the epic novel “Dune,” by Frank Herbert.

    This book takes place approximately 20 years after the Book “House Atreides” and about 30 years prior to the original “Dune” series.  Shaddam Corrino IV is the emperor and his Bene Gesserit wife, Anirul produces only daughters, leaving him without an heir to the throne. The emperor is aware of the Bene Gesserit ability to determine the sex of their children and grows annoyed at Anirul for not giving him a son. Along with this stress factor for the Emperor the Tleilaxu have yet to produce a synthetic equal to the Spice Melange. This was the reason the planet of Ix was taken over and House Vernius went renegade.

    Dominic Vernius is still in hiding as a renegade but his children, Kailea and Rhombur, are living with Duke Leto Atreides on Caladan. Leto arranges fro Rhombur to take in a concubine from the Bene Gesserit, and Kailea becomes Leto’s concubine. Kailea gives birth to Victor the son of Leto and heir to House Atreides, but due to politics and the fact that Kailea is considered renegade Leto cannot marry her. Besides, the Bene Gesserit have other plans with Jessica, the daughter of Vladimer Harkonnen and a Bene Gesserit witch. Leto does arrange to have a lady-in-waiting to help Kailea. Kailea’s lady-in-waiting, Chiara, is actually a Harkonnen agent sent to poison Kailea’s mind against Leto. Kailea and Chiara scheme to assassinate Leto thus making Victor the Duke and Kailea a Regent. But the plan backfires and the planned explosion kills young Victor and mutilates Rhombur. Kailea then kills Chiara and commits suicide unable to face what she has done.

    The Tleilaxu offer to make a ghola,a clone, of Victor in exchange for the barely alive body of Rhombur Vernius. Leto ultimately refuses, after much soul-searching, knowing that the Tleilaxu intend only harm towards House Vernius. Instead, Leto hires Dr. Wellington Yueh, an expert in the field of cybernetics, to fashion a cybernetic replacement body for Rhombur. Leto and Jessica fall deeply in love, leading Jessica to decide to conceive a son for Leto’s sake, directly disobeying the Bene Gesserit’s order that she have a daughter.

    Baron Harkonnen grows weaker due to his disease, but he becomes more vicious, destroying his half-brothers life (figuratively first then literally). A Suk doctor determines the cause of the illness is from the Bene Gesserit he raped. Harkonnen seeks reveng on the witches but through mind tricks they show him who is really in charge. Meanwhile, the Baron’s brother, Abulurd, uncovers an illegal stockpile of spice on Lankiveil. Rather than turn his brother in to the Emperor, Abulurd, a benevolent ruler and the polar opposite of his brother Vladimir, uses the stockpile to benefit his people. Upon discovery of this, Glossu Rabban, Abulurd’s firstborn son, strangles his father to death, an act which earns him the nickname of “Beast.” Baron Harkonnen also kidnaps Abulurd’s other son, Feyd-Rautha, and tries to raise him as his own.

    We are also introduced to Gurney Halleck. Gurney’s village is raided and his sister is taken away. He later finds she is forced to work in a “pleasure house” for the Harkonnen military. He tries to rescue her but is capture and made a slave. He then tries to attack Rabban, but is outnumbered and Rabban punishes him by killing his entire family. Gurney escapes to Salusa Secundus to help Dominic Vernius with his attacks against the empire.

    Dominic learns of the atrocities going on on Ix and gathers all his stockpiles of atomics to the south polar region of Arrakis in order to deliver them to the homeworld of the Emperor and destroy the House Corrino. But his plan is discovered and the Sardukar guards are sent to stop him. Instead he detonates the atomics destroying most of the south pole area of Arrakis.

    On Arrakis it is learned that the Bene Gesserit have been mixing with the Fremen in order to blend prophecies of the Qwissatz Hadderach and the myths of the Missionaria Protectiva.

    And this is only scratching the surface of this wonderful adventure into the Duniverse.

     
  • gilwilson 3:58 AM on December 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , house atreides, , , , tantor audio   

    “Dune: House Atreides” by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson 

    “Dune: House Atreides”
    by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
    read by Scott Brick
    Produced by Tantor Media
    approx. 26.5 hours

    Back in 1999, Brian Herbert discovered some manuscripts left behind with more information on the universe of Dune, written by his father Frank Herbert.  Teaming up with Kevin J. Anderson they began a quest to add more stories to the “Duneverse” based on these manuscripts and their own talents in writing Science Fiction.  The first was the “Prelude to Dune” series.  This book “House Atreides”  was the first in this series.

    Tantor Audio has re-released these books in audio book form and this time they aquired the award winning voice of Scott Brick.  Back when I first started listening to audio books Scott Brick was the first reader I heard.  After hearing his performance I became a huge fan of audio books.  There’s a reason Mr. Brick has won so many awards.  His voice is completely adjustable to any genre and his talents are fully expressed when reading a book with multiple characters.  When expressing the voice of another speaker in the dialogue in the book he can, with the subtlest of changes, change characters so the listener is treated to what nearly sounds like a multi-cast performance.  At the same time he can add the characters emotions into the voice to the utmost perfection.  Scott Brick is no stranger to the “Dune” series, he has voiced many of the audio books so he knows the material and I would have to say he is the perfect choice for the re-issue of these books.

    “House Atreides” gives some information on the buildup of what created the situations leading to the epic novel “Dune,” by Frank Herbert.

    An aging tyrant emperor rules the known universe, Emperor Elrood Corrino IX, and his son Shaddam IV, cannot wait for him to die, so that Shaddam may become emperor. He and his minion, Hasimir Fenrig devise a slow poison to kill off the old man so Shaddam may sit in the “Golden Lion Throne.”

    While this is going on Elrood has some schemes going that could change the universe. Spice Melange, only found on Arrakis (Dune), is needed for the Spacing Guild to fold space, it prolongs life, and is highly addictive. “He who controls the spice, controls the Universe.” So Elrood has set out to devise an alternative to spice. Teaming up with the genetic scientist race of the Tleilaxu, Elrood has commissioned them to develop the newly engineered spice. As payment to the Tleilaxu, Elrood plans a takeover of the machine planet IX, where in place are the facilities for such a genetic engineering feat. To do this the House Vernius must be defeated. Instead of laying back and being defeated the house goes renegade, meaning they are no longer supported or recognized by the league and are criminals. The children are sent to Calidan to live with Duke Paulus Atreides. They are raised along with the Duke’s son, Leto Atreides.

    Meanwhile the Bene Gesserit discover they are only 2 or 3 generations from the Kwisatz Haderach, a prophesied messiah figure. But first they must get Baron Vladimir Harkonnen to “donate the genetic material.” The first union of a Bene Gesserit sorceress and Harkonnen is deformed and must be repeated. This time Harkonnen violently rapes the sorceress and in the process she curses him with an incurable disease.

    On Caladan, Paulus Atreides dies during a bullfight with a drugged Salusan Bull, and Leto becomes Duke. House Harkonnen has developed a ship that renders itself invisible. And frames House Atreides for an attack on the Tleilaxu.

    In the meantime on Arrakis, Dune, Pardot Kynes a planetologist sent by Emperor Elrood, arrives on Arrakis and begins his duties there. He starts to dislike the Harkonnen rule there, and is getting more and more interested in the native Fremen of the desert and the possibility of terraforming the planet. Pardot is discovering more and more proof that some time, long ago, Arrakis was covered with giant oceans, and gets curious about what changed the climate to what it is today.

    Once again another book filled with lots of material lots of action and great political interaction.

     
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