1/8/2010. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Audio Text/Infinivox. 570 minutes 8 CDs. Regular Price: $35.99 (US), CD Sale $29.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1884612-91-6). read by: Vanessa Hart, Sue Bilich and Tom Dheere
check out website: www.audiotexttapes.net/TheYearsTopTenTales.htm
If you are looking for interesting and entertaining audio Science Fiction short stories then you don't need to look any further than Audio Text. Look up their website. There is a wealth of material available and, following on from the success of 'The Year's Top 10 Tales Of Science Fiction' which was reviewed in the September 2007 edition of SFCrowsnest, they've got the second edition on sale now.
In this, you will get a total of ten stories on eight CDs which will keep most people occupied for nine hours. Remembering how enjoyable the first series was, I looked forward to listening to the new edition and I wasn't disappointed. First of all, and most importantly, the narrators are very good. They will not send you to sleep. They speak with enthusiasm, accentuating the speech and moods of the characters from the stories. Secondly, the stories themselves are all of excellent quality, varied in nature and full of interest.
What about the price? By the time you've paid postage it works out at just under $4 for each CD. While this is not cheap, it doesn't seem to be excessively expensive. The package comes in a neat box not much thicker than a normal CD container and it won't take up a lot of room on your shelf. While this is okay, I think the technology is there for something better in the future, if only manufacturers would improve their products to be more versatile. Even with today's broadband, downloading the contents of eight CDs could be a bit daunting but all this could be put on one small disk or a type of USB memory stick. Unfortunately, audio short stories have a favourite place in the automobile and generally here you don't find much more than a CD player, at least for people with mundane vehicles like myself.
What about the stories?
They are an 'unabridged audio collection of the best of the best Science Fiction stories published in 2009 by current and emerging masters of the genre, as narrated by top voice talents, though I am not sure of the criteria used to make this claim. I'm sure others have their own best of best top 10! However, regardless of the advertising blurb, the production is reasonably impressive.
In 'Erosion' by Ian Creasey, a man tests the limits of his exo-suit prior to leaving a dying Earth. 'As Women Fight' by Sara Genge portrays a hunter, in a society of body-switchers, who has no time to train for a fight to inhabit his wife's body. In 'A Story, With Beans' by Steven Gould, the role of religion in a dystopian future plagued with metal-eating bugs is considered. 'Events Preceding The Helvetican Renaissance' by John Kessel involves a monk, in the far future who steals the only copy of a set of plays from a repressive regime and uses this loot to free his people. In 'On the Human Plan' by Jay Lake, a mysterious alien visits a far-future, dying Earth in search of the death of Death. Set in the Jackaroo sequence, 'Crimes And Glory' by Paul McAuley, a detective chases a thief to recover alien technology that both aliens and humanity are desperate to recover. Set in the Lovecraftian Boojum universe, 'Mongoose' by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, a vermin hunter and his tentacled assistant come on board a space station to hunt toves and raths. In 'Before My Last Breath' by Robert Reed, a geologist discovers a strange fossil in a coal-mine that leads to the discovery of a peculiar graveyard. 'The Island' by Peter Watts tells the story of a woman on a spaceship who must decide whether to place a stargate near an alien society which will ultimately destroy it. Finally, the 10th story, 'This Peaceable Land Or The Unbearable Vision Of Harriet Beecher Stowe' by Robert Charles Wilson is an alternate American Civil War history in which the war was never fought, slavery gradually disappeared and Uncle Tom's Cabin was never published.
A wide range of stories with something for everyone. Very good entertainment recommended for audio short story listeners.
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