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Vox: SF For Your Ears
by Scott Danielson

Other Vox: SF For Your Ears Columns

Blackstone Audio
Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Radio Repertory Company of America
Soundings by Jeff Green
Yuri Rasovsky
Audio Drama
Crazy Dog Audio Theatre
Giant Steps: An Apocalyptic Comedy for the World Wide Web
Mark Time Award
Seeing Ear Theater
Wollcott and Sheridan
Audio Publishers
Atlanta Radio Theater Company
Books on Tape
Defiance Audio
Fantastic Audio
Full Cast Audio Books
The Reader's Chair
Recorded Books, LLC
Star Trek Novels/Audio
Star Wars Novels/Audio
Timberwolf Press
SF Talk Radio
Book Crazy Radio
Cosmic Landscapes
The Dragon Page
Hour 25
Reality Break - a science fiction talk show
Sci Fi Overdrive
SF On the Radio
Radio Station: subspaceXmission
The Teaching Company
Timeship Studio
Voyage's Multimedia Project

It used to be that talking about science fiction audio meant talking about radio shows like Dimension X, X Minus One, or, most commonly, Orson Welles' War of the Worlds. Nowadays, though, science fiction audio means "audiobooks" to most people. Perhaps listeners get their fill of drama on television and at the movies, and, if they listen to audio fiction at all, prefer a reading of the text rather than a performed piece of drama. Perhaps it's just the fact that audio drama doesn't always sound good in a car because of the use of stereo effects that can sound terrible against the white noise of traffic, yet excellent through headphones. No matter what the reason, audio drama has largely fallen off the average person's entertainment menu. And that's a huge shame, because the drama currently being produced is better than ever.

Diabolic Playhouse Roger Gregg, of Ireland's Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, has created some first rate science fiction audio drama with his Diabolic Playhouse. There are six stories, delightfully told, contained on the MP3-CD, which is available from Crazy Dog themselves or from ZBS. The programs range from the hilarious comedy of Demons of the Deep, in which the crew of the Sea Nymph cruise to Rig 39 to find out what happened to all the people there, to Press 3, a drama in which consumerism, bureaucracy, and color-coded alert systems are all fodder for Gregg and his actors, who completely succeeded pulling me into this place only to make me realize that I already live there. This is excellent, original, fantastic audio drama that I can't recommend highly enough.

Roger Gregg also plays Eddie the ship-board computer in Dirk Maggs' latest production, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Tertiary Phase. The program was recently released on CD from the BBC. Many of Maggs' other audio dramas are also available, and are uniformly excellent. The Adventures of Superman, Superman: Doomsday and Beyond, An American Werewolf in London, and Stephen Baxter's Voyage are a few of the titles available. Initial recording of the final phase of The Hitchhiker's Guide was completed recently for broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in May. Dirk Maggs' productions are marked by rich soundscapes that create an immersive listening experience.

Yuri Rasovsky's series of science fiction dramas entitled 2000X was recently released on CD. Adapted dramas like Robert A. Heinlein's By His Bootstraps and Harlan Ellison's 'Repent, Harlequin,' said the Ticktockman highlight the collection. A sample of the authors of the other adapted stories: Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Octavia E. Butler, A.E. van Vogt... This is intelligent science fiction, dramatized by a true artist. Rasovsky has also produced a fine adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey, and his version of the horror tale The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is not to be missed. These are both available from Blackstone Audio.

Dinotopia The ZBS Foundation is the home of Meatball Fulton, the man who brought us Ruby. Very recently, ZBS produced an adaptation of James Gurney's original Dinotopia, which was a beautiful picture book. The drama is a triumph filled with subtle detail which brings the story vividly to life. And production of Ruby titles haven't ceased -- they are up to Ruby 6.5.

The Radio Repertory Company of America has produced some very enjoyable titles, as well. There are three Anne Manx adventures (starring Claudia Christian), the latest being Anne Manx and the Trouble on Chromius, and a drama starring Traci Elizabeth Lords called The Adventures of Red Cloud. RRCA's dramas are well-acted rollicking science fiction adventure/comedies.

Soundings One more collection of audio drama that I enjoyed recently is Jeff Green's Soundings. The stories are surprising and the sounds stay with you. In "Vigilante", a TV obsessed psychic kills people he's seen on the news -- the sound of him flipping through the channels in search of a victim is disturbing indeed. In "Flash", the sound of the characters being shown visions of what might be their past lives is mesmerizing. "Spaxterback" allows us to hear a conversation between a computer and an intelligent amalgam the computer created in order to solve a problem. Truly riveting stuff.

So science fiction audio drama is far from dead. Even on the air -- the BBC continues to produce radio dramas, and so does the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). Speaking of the CBC, Robert J. Sawyer is involved with the creation of a new science fiction radio series called "Emanations", the first story of which goes into production this month.

Imagine how good television would be if all these authors I mentioned in this column were writing the scripts, or even the stories behind the scripts. There's really no need to wait, because they are all right here, in your ear. Enjoy.

Copyright © 2005 Scott Danielson

Scott discovered the world of SF audio years ago, when he spent hours a day in his car. His commute has since shortened considerably, but his love for audio remains. By trade, he's an control engineer for a manufacturing plant. Aside from reading and writing science fiction, his hobbies include community theater, where he can often be found behind the soundboard or (much less often) on the stage. Scott can also be found at SFFAudio.

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