Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rubbing the Cloudy Bottle of the Audio Genie

Starship Sofa has had some fun bits of fiction recently. You can grab it from their audio page. I'd especially recommend The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald by Peter Watts in which a doctor is involved in the psychological evaluation of a woman accused of the bloody murder of her husband and, in the best fiction tradition, discovers there's more to the case than there first appears. I've just listened to We See Things Differently by Bruce Sterling. It's not really science-fiction, more the reportage/memoir of an Egyptian journalist in a near future where an Islamic caliphate has risen to replace both Russia and the United States as the global superpower. We travel with him to what remains of the States as he seeks an audience with a rock star who energises his audiences with songs reminding them of what they once were.

If you check out Episode 75 on L Sprague De Camp, even though it doesn't mention it anywhere, the last thirty minutes is an episode of one of those sci-fi radio dramas from the middle of the last century about big game hunters time travelling to bag some dinosaurs. It's pulp fun.

I'm a bit behind with the stuff over at Escape Pod.

The Color of a Brontosaurus by Paul E. Martens is also a story involving time-travel and dinosaurs, a somewhat clichéd story about a man looking desperately for time travellers so they can take him to the past to see dinosaurs. Some of the more interesting diversions are sadly ignored and the ending is fairly predictable but it's still a fun take on the old idea. Artifice and Intelligence by Tim Pratt is about whether the danger of self-aware machines is less Skynet and more just boredom and whether there's much of a difference. I enjoyed the way that what initially seemed like a number of unconnected vignettes came together, and there are some interesting characters, like the Indian A.I. and the techno-pagan who's more than happy to let power corrupt her. Friction by Will McIntosh is an odd story of an unnamed race on an unnamed planet at an unspecified time who live in fear of their bodies falling apart due to the friction of joint movement. A philosopher who has made it his purpose in life to read the works of his forebears, carved on to an impossibly long wall around the planet, must decide whether the risks he incurs in friction burns by engaging in an act of charity are outweighed by the benefits if he succeeds.

All well worth your time to have a listen.

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