01/02/2011. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Audio Text/Infinivox. 540 minutes 8 CDs. Regular Price: $29.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-884612-94-7. read by: Tom Dheere and Nicola Barber.
check out website: www.audiotexttapes.net and www.infinivoxSF.com
Since my early days of reading Science Fiction, spaceships have always been appealing to me. Not only were they the vehicles to places unknown, alien spaceships were also openings to all sorts of mysterious and bewildering events. In this collection from Infinivox, we've got six short stories all with starships and spaceships as their subjects so what could be better than that?
Over the last few years this company has produced more and more good Science Fiction audio short stories. If you look at their website, a comprehensive list is available but beware, before you know it you could be ordering half a dozen titles and running up a serious bill. While the price of the titles is not extortionate, it's not at the lower end of the market neither and don't be misled by them selling at what they call a sale price as opposed to a regular price because as far as I can see they've always had the items on sale price. Maybe this is just a marketing ploy.
Apart from that, the stories are of good quality and are well narrated by Tom Dheere and Nicola Barber. This title, ‘Starship Vectors’, comes in a neat package with eight CDs organised into envelopes within a box. Organising your listening is quite easy and the CDs don't get mixed up.
My favourite story of the collection was Steven Baxter's ‘Mayflower 2’. I've always had a great respect for this author. His stories are well thought out, concise and interesting and this one is no exception. Taking up two complete CDs, it's one of the larger of the collection.
Basically, this is a generation starship tale. This idea is not new and there's been lots of similar stories appearing over the last few decades but this is a lot more interesting than the others. It begins inconspicuously enough with an ordinary human by the name of Russell living on a colony at the edge of the solar system. Political strife endangers everyone and the population is forced to escape using large colony ships which will take them slowly through the galaxy to new destinations where they can live in peace.
Russell's destination is actually outside the galaxy and it will take them 30,000 years to reach their safe haven. Some of the crew have been genetically changed to enable them to have long life-spans. This immediately separates them from the rest of the colonists and as the journey continues, this separation increases to become a distinct gulf. Hundreds of generations come and go on the colony ship leaving only one of the genetically altered humans to survive. Russell is almost godlike in nature but what becomes of the population after many years of evolution within the constraints of a large tin can? A very interesting and compelling story!
‘Boojum’ from Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette take us to the living space ship called, strangely enough, Lavinia Whafeley. Mind you, it is a pirate vessel and the main aim of the occupants is to gather booty from all corners of the Galaxy.
The collection contains four other stories, all entertaining and readable. They are, ‘The Political Officer’ by Charles Coleman Finlay. This reminds me somewhat of the U-boat story ‘Das Boot’ where the mariners had to contend with a political officer as well as the enemy. The other stories are, ‘Shiva In Shadow’ by Nancy Kress, ‘The Remoras’ by Robert Reed and, finally, ‘The Tomb Wife’ by Gwyneth Jones.
After listening to all the stories, the general opinion was that they were certainly worth the effort. As with other stories from the collections available from this company, I wasn't disappointed and recommending them to others is quite easy to do. The editor Allan Kaster has selected good material not only for Science Fiction content but for the ability to come across well as a narrated story. Good stuff. Let's hope there's lots more to come in the future!
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