Audible SF/F NOTE: moved to The AudioBookaneers

It feels like I just wrapped up a huge release week post two days ago, because I did. But so much has already come out since Wednesday that, well, I’d better post now because next week should have a huge list of new audiobooks as well. So here’s an “interlude” release week post.

Leading the list is the Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch, all narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith for Tantor Audio. The three books, Midnight Riot: Peter Grant, Book 1, Moon Over Soho: Peter Grant, Book 2, and Whispers Under Ground: Peter Grant, Book 3, concern London constable (and eventual sorcerer’s apprentice) Peter Grant whose “ability to speak with the lingering dead” sees him plucked from a paper-pushing assignment and “plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.”


Also out Friday is 6-pack of audiobooks by Greg Bear, all out from Audible Frontiers. They are: Beyond Heaven’s River, Strength of Stones, and Hardfought (Narrated by Ray Chase), Psychlone (Narrated by William Roberts), Dinosaur Summer (Narrated by Dave Courvoisier), and Slant (Narrated by Christine Williams).

Grimm Tales for Young and Old By Philip Pullman, Narrated by Samuel West for AudioGO — Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins — “In this enchanting selection of fairy tales, award-winning author Philip Pullman presents his 50 favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm in a ‘clear as water’ retelling, making them feel fresh and unfamiliar with his dark, distinctive voice.”


Joe Golem and the Drowning City By Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, Narrated by Robert Fass for Macmillan Audio — Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins — “In 1925, earthquakes and a rising sea level left Lower Manhattan submerged under more than 30 feet of water, so that its residents began to call it the Drowning City. Those unwilling to abandon their homes created a new life on streets turned to canals and in buildings whose first three stories were underwater. Fifty years have passed since then, and the Drowning City is full of scavengers and water rats, poor people trying to eke out an existence, and those too proud or stubborn to be defeated by circumstance. Among them are 14-year-old Molly McHugh and her friend and employer, Felix Orlov. Once upon a time Orlov the Conjuror was a celebrated stage magician, but now he is an old man, a psychic medium, contacting the spirits of the departed for the grieving loved ones left behind. When a séance goes horribly wrong, Felix Orlov is abducted by strange men wearing gas masks and rubber suits, and Molly soon finds herself on the run. Her flight will lead her into the company of a mysterious man, and his stalwart sidekick, Joe Golem, whose own past is a mystery to him, but who walks his own dreams as a man of stone and clay, brought to life for the sole purpose of hunting witches.”

And Thursday saw the years-anticipated release of J. K. Rowling's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, narrated by Tom Hollander for Hachette Audio at nearly 18 hours. With no magic or boy wizards in sight, it’s still already topping Audible’s weekly best-seller charts. (With just two days of sales so far.) “When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen.” There have been some good reviews, and some quite bad ones; one which intrigues me the most is by Lev Grossman for TIME, who (elsewhere) calls it “a triumph”. Hm…


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I started hearing good things about Wool quite some time ago. Then Ridley Scott bought the film rights, and still I didn’t read it. Then Random House UK bought in, and still I didn’t read it. But now that The Guilded Earlobe has given the audiobook a “go for it” review, I’ll have to figure out how to fit it into a busy fall of listening.

The last Tuesday of September brings a sizable haul of interesting-looking audiobooks, from new sequels, to some of 2011’s most missing, new Terry Pratchett, and the return of Neil Gaiman Presents.

The Mongoliad: The Foreworld Saga, Book 2 By Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, and Cooper Moo comes with quite a busy byline from Brilliance Audio, but once again it’s one narrator, Luke Daniels, who handles the dozens of accents and handful of storylines as the story picks up where it ended in Book One, the aftermath of the Mongolian invasion of Europe, 1241. Can’t get enough Foreworld? There’s also a 1.5 hour short, Dreamer: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, By Mark Teppo with, of course, Daniels at the helm.


2011 saw two strong entries in a very specific subgenre. TC McCarthy’s Germline ended up one of my favorites of the year last year, and now Embedded by Dan Abnett, narrated by Eric G. Dove for Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio, gives listeners another look at an embedded journalist in a military sf storyline. Where Germline focused on a near-future resource war in South Asia, Abnett takes a look at both a more distant future and setting, as well as a double meaning for ‘embedded’, as his journalist has himself ‘chipped inside the head of a combat veteran’ in a battlezone on a remote colony planet.

Small Beer Press published Delia Sherman's The Freedom Maze late in 2011, and this book for young adults went on to win Norton, Prometheus, and Mythopoetic Awards, as well as be named one of Kirkus Review’s best of 2011, and be selected onto the Tiptree Honor Award List. Now it’s in audio, narrated by Robin Miles for Listening Library. “Set against the burgeoning Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and then just before the outbreak of the Civil War, The Freedom Maze explores both political and personal liberation, and how the two intertwine. In 1960, thirteen-year-old Sophie isn’t happy about spending summer at her grandmother’s old house in the Bayou. But the house has a maze Sophie can’t resist exploring once she finds it has a secretive and playful inhabitant. When Sophie, bored and lonely, makes an impulsive wish inspired by her reading, hoping for a fantasy adventure of her own, she slips one hundred years into the past, to the year 1860. On her arrival she makes her way, bedraggled and tanned, to what will one day be her grandmother’s house, where she is at once mistaken for a slave.”


Another teen audiobook release this week is Dodger By Terry Pratchett. Read by frequent Pratchett narrator  Stephen Briggs for Harper Audio, the book sees Pratchett turn his attention and wit to a street urchin in Dickensian London: “A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he’s…Dodger. Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London’s sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He’s not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl - not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England. From Dodger’s encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery. Beloved and best-selling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy’s rise in a complex and fascinating world.”

One of my “regrets” in 2011 was not making time for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, a middle grade novel billed as an “American Narnia”. Now Meloy is back with a sequel, Under Wildwood, under his own narration for Harper Audio. At 13 hrs and 20 mins, it’s the longest audiobook mentioned so far in this post, though it’s aimed at the youngest listeners of the bunch. Who says kids these days don’t have attention spans?


Neil Gaiman Presents returns this week with three novels by 1920s literary satiric fantasist James Branch Cabell, all narrated by Robert Blumenfeld: Jurgen, The High Place, and Figures of Earth: A Comedy of Appearances. “A few words from Neil on Jurgen: Jurgen may be the most famous of James Branch Cabell’s books: It was certainly the one that put him on the map, when, in January 1920, the New York Society for the Prevention of Vice took his publisher to court for violating New York’s anti-obscenity law. Suddenly, Cabell went from an admired but semi-obscure author of literary satiric fantasy, to the guy everyone was reading because he was censored.”


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Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands
Edited by: Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
Performances by: MacLeod Andrews, Cassandra Campbell, Ellen Kushner, and Holly Black
Length: 18 hours and 8 minutes
Release date: 10 April 2012

Review by Dave Thompson: Bordertown Lives!

I feel in love with Welcome to Bordertown well before I actually read any of the stories. In her introduction, Terri Windling explains how Bordertown came to be: In the 80s, fantasy meant epic – primarily riffs on Tolkien, talking animals, and Sword and Sorcery. Windling was living in NYC, having conversations with writers and editors about mythology while punk music pounding at the bar stage. And when she was given the task of creating a shared world anthology, she had the idea to tap both a sense of rebellion and of tradition, and blend them into something different. Today, we call it Urban Fantasy, but at the time, it didn’t have a name, and it’s easy to forget how unique it was back then. [MORE:]

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The middle of September brings a few audiobooks of interest, but my first thoughts on the week are 1. that I was at first incredibly excited when I saw the new Tad Williams urban fantasy novel The Dirty Streets of Heaven: A Bobby Dollar Novel, Book 1 listed — but then it turned out I wasn’t logged in, so Audible was showing me titles not available in my country, and now I have only the horrible, awful knowledge that the audiobook I want to listen to exists, and yet cannot be sold to me. And 2. That my “seen but not heard” list below includes Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff as well as, more mysteriously to me, Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon, which is out in physical media from Brilliance Audio. First world problems, I know. Still, a long-missing audiobook from Nalo Hopkinson and an anticipated new YA audiobook from Libba Bray make for a week worth listening to. Update: Via @MrsTad I have learned that the US audiobook is in production! Hooray!

My pick in adult sf/f releases this week is Midnight Robber By Nalo Hopkinson, Narrated by Robin Miles for Audible Frontiers. Published in 2000 by Aspect / Warner Books, the book was a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and PKD Award, as well as a nominee for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award: It’s Carnival time and the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance, and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. To young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favorite costume to wear at the festival - until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgiveable crime. Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life…and set her free.” Length: 12 hrs and 49 mins.


Meanwhile in the “Teen SF/F” listings is the latest from Libba Bray, with her own audio introduction. The Diviners is narrated by January LaVoy for Listening Library: “Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City - and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries her uncle will discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.” Length: 18 hrs and 14 mins.


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Briarpatch By Tim Pratt
Narrated by
Dave Thompson via ACX for Timothy Pratt c/o Curtis Brown, LTD
10 hrs and 9 mins
Release Date:

Article and Interview by Dave Thompson

For the general public, Tim Pratt is one of the best kept secrets in fantasy fiction. I say this not just as someone who loves to read (and listen!) to Tim’s work, but as someone who who has bought his stories to be featured at PodCastle, a podcast run by Anna Scwhind and myself. Tim creates interesting characters who always feel real, and typically puts them in a world similar to ours, with several very subtle differences. At a young age, Tim discovered he could entertain himself with his own writing, and has never stopped, becoming quite prolific. He’s written and sold over a hundred short stories (it wouldn’t surprise me if by the time this is posted, it’ll be 200), and has written fifteen novels, including the Marla Mason books (as T.A. Pratt), and The Constantine Affliction as T. Aaron Payton.

A year ago, I got to read Tim Pratt’s incredible contemporary fantasy fiction novel Briarpatch. As soon as I started reading it, I completely fell in love. Also, I knew it was a story that my voice was a good fit for. I’d been curious about taking a shot at reading audiobooks for a couple years now, so I emailed Tim and asked him if there were any plans for an audiobook. This … maybe isn’t the best way to go about becoming an audiobook narrator. But I knew Tim and felt comfortable asking him, and I felt comfortable that if he didn’t like the idea, he’d tell me.

And so, this past summer, I spent just about every free moment I had recording Tim’s amazing book. (The recording process could probably be a whole other post.) [Editor’s note: Why yes, Dave, it could be a whole other post. Thanks for volunteering.] We used ACX, which was very easy to work with. When I turned everything in, I kept waiting for Tim to tell me that he wanted me to do something different (maybe even the whole thing). Instead, he told me how happy he was with it, and how much he liked some of the character voices. (Dave’s note: I am not Roy Dotrice or Jim Dale. I have a very minimalistic approach to reading, which is part of why I knew I could read this one.)

And now, the book is out! It’s even got a review! A positive one! People have bought it! Yay! I feel pretty lucky, to be completely honest, to have recorded Briarpatch at all, let alone as my first audiobook.

When I told Sam about all this, he suggested I interview myself about the process. Luckily, thus far, he’s settled for me interviewing author Tim Pratt, who is decidedly more interesting!


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Art for AlphaBooks!
Quentin Coldwater, from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Art by Andrew Neal.
Commentary at!


Art for AlphaBooks!

Quentin Coldwater, from The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Art by Andrew Neal.

Commentary at!

It seems pretty far fetched, but Audiobooker reports that as part of Amazon’s push of their new “Whispersync for Voice” feature for Kindle and Audible that it has made $500 of audiobooks free. I’ve tried it, it does work, though I had to finally connect my Audible account with my Amazon account. The 26 titles are classics, including Frankenstein, The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver’s Travels, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, etc. read by professional narrators like Simon Vance, Alan Cumming, Jim Dale, and more.

Update: There’s also a significant discount for buying the audiobook for other Kindle books. Some titles include free ebooks like Four-Day Planet and The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper ($9.95 sale price audiobook) and A Princess of Mars by Burroughs ($1.49 sale price audiobook), as well as discounts on non-free ebooks such as A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness or The Hunger Games trilogy, the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others, Jim Butcher’s Storm Front, American Gods, Michael J. Sullivan’s Riyria Revelations, The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, Ready Player One, The Night Circus, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, Foundation by Isaac Asimov, … For the complete list of Whispersync-ready titles, you’ll have to brose 750 pages of 20 items, though the sf/fantasy section “only” lists 1500 titles.



“If you love clever, whimsical fantasy, you won’t want to miss the new audiobook version of Ellen Kushner’s novel The Privilege of the Sword. There’s nothing better than a Kushner novel on a long afternoon .”

Thank you!  I loved getting to read my own work for posterity - and having Neil & Felicia in it was a real thrill … along with exalted audiobook stars like Katherine Kellgren & Barbara Rosenblat.  Plus music by Nathanael Tronerud. It’s an amazing production, and I hope it finds love for all!