1/09/2011. Contributed by Rod MacDonald
pub: Infinivox/Audiotexttapes. 8 CDs 8.25 hours. Price: $ 5.74 (US). ISBN: 978-1-884612-96-1. Kindle edition: GBP 3.50 (UK).
check out websites: www.audiotexttapes.netand www.infinivoxSF.com
We are now into the third collection in this series, ‘The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction’. These are all stories that were published in 2010 and what a good selection it is! The fiction gets better every year and the narration maintains the same excellent quality with a clear variation from four distinct voices. This variation in voice is actually very important because it prevents you from being bored with the same tones throughout the entire eight CDs.
Of course, these stories are not necessarily the best available in the genre. Whatever top 10 someone selects there is always another top 10 somewhere else based on different criteria. However, it must be said that regardless of the method of selection, the stories presented here are all pretty good, entertaining and memorable. I can't say I was disappointed with any of them. Listening to one CD prompted the next and so on until all were finished.
Damien Broderick's offering, ‘Under The Moons Of Venus’ was perhaps my favourite story of the bunch. Of course Venus does not have a satellite and has never had one as far as we know but in this story it has two, basically our moon and also Ganymede, a satellite from Jupiter. This isn't some far distant future, it's happening now and the psychiatrist involved in the tale is at a loss trying to explain it.
Dogs have developed the ability to speak, quite strange when this comes from a red setter on the beach. Most of the population has been transported to the new terraformed Venus, leaving only a few perplexed people completely at an impasse, in a state of limbo trying to work out the reasons behind the changes. Singularity, act of God and aliens. All are considered. There is a problem in that the psychiatrist may not be in charge and may be the patient. His wife still thinks the moon is in the sky but who is right? An intriguing story, excellently delivered.
All of the stories have interesting leaps of imagination. For example, in ‘A Letter From The Emperor’ by Steve Rasnic Tem, an envoy inspects a far distant colony in the Empire. Troubled by the suicide of his shipmate, his mind is unsettled. However, this is a strange Empire. Planets have been surfaced, leaving little of the original geology. People seem to be a mixture of the biological and electronic and everything has a disconnected feel to it as if matters are running on protocol rather than real issues.
A commander in the outlying colony is retiring and the envoy delivers a letter from the Emperor. There is also a third voice which comes from the ship. Perhaps this is the entity with ultimate control but overall, there doesn't seem to be much control at all. A strange story taking you completely out of your world to a different universe, it defies conventional logic.
As with most of the stories, reality is changed and it takes a few minutes for you to get adjusted. That's what's good about them! They take you to a different place with different rules. For a few moments while listening to the CDs, everything else stops.
Peter Watts gives us a different twist on reality with ‘The Things’. Remember John Carpenter's movie, ‘The Thing’? He has written this story from the perspective of the shape-shifting alien. An interesting shift not only in shape but in species as well.
A thoughtful piece, ‘Alone’ written by Robert Reed, is basically about a loner travelling on a large spaceship through the Galaxy. Why is this person alone? Through choice or a victim of circumstances? Reflective and interesting!
There are half a dozen more stories in this collection. If you would like to know more about them then visit the website listed above. Purchase details are also given. At about $30, with free postage, this is not a bad deal. You will get lots of entertainment for your money and this package could also represent a good present for anyone interested in Science Fiction for a birthday or, dare I mention it, Christmas. Definitely recommended.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA