Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Radiomen

Eleanor Lerman, who lives in New York, is the author of numerous award-winning collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2016, her novel, Radiomen, was awarded the John W. Campbell Prize for the Best Book of Science Fiction.

Tower Review:  What inspired RADIOMEN?
Eleanor Lerman:  Whitely Strieber said something once that I’ve never forgotten: when he wrote Communion and then subsequent books about his encounters with aliens, he said that people kept asking him why the aliens abducted people, why they seemed to be doing some kind of experiments on them, etc. His reply was that how could he, a human being, possibly understand the beliefs and motivations of other beings? They might have a completely different view of the universe, of living beings’ purpose and place in the universe. He thought it was almost arrogant of human beings to think that their understanding of the universe would be the starting point for any other being’s understanding in any other part of the cosmos. I thought that was a brilliant and profound idea–with one little spin of my own. I imagine that wherever there is life, there is probably some yearning for connection with a higher being and probably the same kind of confusion about who He/She/It is. That’s what began the story for me. But there’s one other thing: when I was a little girl, my uncle rigged a radio receiver that allowed us to hear the sound of one of the later Sputnik satellites. The Soviets wanted people to pick up the signal because they thought it would scare Americans, in particular, into thinking that the Soviets were way ahead of them in the space race. But when I heard Sputnik, I wasn’t scared–I think I fell in love with the idea of sounds traveling through space and being able to hear them on a radio. (When I was a teenager, living in New York, I remembered this feeling when I could pick up a rock and roll station at night from a distant city like Chicago.) Many years later, I came across an audio tape of Sputnik’s telemetry signal online, and when I heard it, it was like hearing the voice of an old friend.

Q:  How important was tone to you, related to audiences outside the scifi community?
A:  It is very important to me that Radiomen be accessible to both the scifi community and others who are more focused on reading “literary” novels. Most speculative fiction and scifi written by women tends to be dystopian in nature. I’m not really interested in speculating about the end of the world or apocalyptic times. For me, the question of whether or not we’re being visited by aliens and if so, why, is a framework for speculating about why actually lies beyond the human horizon. Questions about why we exist, what our lives mean, whether we are alone in the universe–big questions like that–are the kind of thing that you talk about with your friends when you’re young. But you sort of forget about them in the middle of your life when you’re caught up with work and raising kids and the everyday stuff of life. But as you get older, the questions return again when you start staring mortality in the face. Once that happened to me, as a writer, it seemed almost trivial to be writing about anything else, but I needed a big framework to deal with such outsized, almost metaphysical questions, and that’s how I moved towards scifi. But I was hoping that anyone who wonders about what we can’t see beyond the night sky and the stars would like Radiomen.

Q:  Did you hear the audiobook, and if so, what did you think?
A:  I have not heard the book yet but I was very impressed by how much effort Dawn Harvey put into making sure that her pronunciation of names and words was something I was comfortable with. I very much appreciated that and I can’t wait to listen, some late night, to a reading of the story.

Q:  Will there be a sequel?
A:  In a way. A new book called The Stargazer’s Embassy. New characters and, sadly, no dog–but alien beings are once again main characters, although this time what they are confused about is the nature of death. The Betty Hill star map–-her claim that when she and her husband Barney were abducted in 1961, the aliens showed her a map of the Zeta Reticuli star system and said that’s where they were from–plays a role in the story, as does a Hello Kitty phone app and a character based on Ted Serios (who was once famous for being able to take “mental pictures”–-meaning, to transfer images from his mind to the film in a camera).

Review of Radiomen here: 

http://audiobookstoday.blogspot.com/2015/02/radiomen-by-eleanor-lerman.html

science books

ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer

jeff vandermeerANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer. Plot: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers. Narrated by Carolyn McCormick on audio, the stand-alone novel is not your typical scifi listen, but has been picked up for a movie adaptation starring Natalie Portman and directed by Alex Garland, who did Ex Machina. It is a subjective account told through the protagonist’s viewpoint. Sensations are key, and the almost stream of consciousness revelations seem like diary entries. There are no Predator creatures hunting them down, using invisibility shields. It’s more cryptic, moody, the influence on the scientists more like the supernatural. And like “The X Files,” not everything can be explained. Which is the whole point. You can see why Garland was attracted to the material. The mystery lingers, and the purpose of such books and films is not to do a neat little Hollywood feel-good wrap-up, complete with one-liners, but to present the dilemma. To incite debate while stimulating the imagination.

For a change or pace, the video below is classical violinist Sarah Chang talking about ethics. Sarah is one of the best musicians in the world, a prodigy who grew into one of the most demanded performers. What is special about her, outside of music, is her honesty and dedication to kids and learning. No diva with a massive ego, she is the real deal. She once showed up in a tiny club in Buenos Aires, just out of love of Latin fusion tango music, although she has played with every major orchestra, including (as a child) with John Williams at the Hollywood Bowl. Our interview with her is HERE.

Sarah Chang

The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman

The Book of DustRenowned storyteller Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of Lyra Belacqua and His Dark Materials for a thrilling and epic adventure in which daemons, alethiometers, and the Magisterium all play a part. The Book of Dust will be a work in three parts, like His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). The title and cover of this first story will remain under wraps until a later date, but it can be revealed that the book is set ten years before The Golden Compass and centers on the much-loved character Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon.
Philip Pullman) “I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how Lyra came to be living at Jordan College, and in thinking about it, I discovered a long story that began when she was a baby and will end when she’s grown up. This volume and the next will cover two parts of Lyra’s life: starting at the beginning of her story and returning to her twenty years later. As for the third and final part, my lips are sealed.
Question) Is it a prequel? A sequel?
Answer) It’s neither. In fact, The Book of Dust is . . . an equal. It doesn’t stand before or after His Dark Materials, but beside it. It’s a different story, but there are settings that readers of His Dark Materials will recognize, and characters they’ve met before. Also, of course, there are some characters who are new to us, including an ordinary boy…a boy we have glimpsed in an earlier part of Lyra’s story, if we were paying attention…who, with Lyra, is caught up in a terrifying adventure that takes him into a new world.
Q) Why return to Lyra’s world?
A) Dust. Questions about that mysterious and troubling substance were already causing strife ten years before His Dark Materials, and at the center of The Book of Dust is the struggle between a despotic and totalitarian organization, which wants to stifle speculation and inquiry, and those who believe thought and speech should be free. The idea of Dust suffused His Dark Materials. Little by little through that story the idea of what Dust was became clearer and clearer, but I always wanted to return to it and discover more.

iPhone8

Terry Brooks and Anthony Heald

Anthony Heald

Anthony Heald acted in plays throughout high school and college, and spent 15 years working in regional theater before settling in New York. He quickly established himself there by playing Tom in a 1980 Off-Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, and two years later made his Broadway debut alongside Holly Hunter in Beth Henley’s The Wake of Jamey Foster. His performances in Anything Goes and Love! Valour! Compassion! earned him Tony Award nominations, and he was recognized with an Obie Award for his work in the productions of The Foreigner, Digby, Henry V and Quartemaine’s Terms. In film, he has appeared in Silkwood, Outrageous Fortune, and in Silence of the Lambs, with minor roles in The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, Kiss of Death, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Postcards from the Edge, 8MM, Proof of Life, Red Dragon, and Accepted. His over sixty audiobooks to date include Where the Red Fern Grows, The Pelican Brief, Jurassic Park, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, (which was a Clint Eastwood movie), The Great Gatsby, and many others. He currently resides in Ashland, Oregon with his family, where he is a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company. Our interview at http://AudiobooksToday.blogspot.com 

Terry BrooksTerry Brooks is the bestselling author of dozens of fantasy and SF novels, such as The Heritage of Shannara, Landover, The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara, and the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace. His latest is The Fall of Shannara: The Black Elfstone, read on audio by Simon Vance. He lives in Hawaii.
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TOWER REVIEW: What had you written prior to “The Sword of Shannara,” and what was your reaction to the book’s success?
TERRY BROOKS: Prior to that, I wrote a bunch of junk. It was all experimentation with different forms of fiction, but it was necessary to spend time with it in order to get to a place where I could write the Shannara books.
TR: Were you precocious or shy, growing up?
TB: I was a shy, introverted kid, but I was good in school and liked books. I liked to use my imagination to create scenarios and characters. The kids in the neighborhood would get together to act out stories. I always tell people I was doing role playing before they invented the term.
TR: I know just what you mean. Outside, pretending, instead of watching television. So how do you explain our fascination with the magical, the mystical, and the mysterious?
TB: I think we all read to escape from stress. A few hours with a book, and everything looks different. We are somehow renewed. Fantasy is attractive for any number of reasons. It is the oldest and most familiar form of storytelling. I suppose I could argue that fantasy, with magic and monsters and strange lands, gives us a sense of empowerment we lack in our normal lives. It is no exaggeration to say that we are increasingly made to feel small and vulnerable, dwarfed by government, corporations, technology, and so on. In fantasy, that’s the traditional role of heroes, but somehow they persevere and come through. I think that gives us a reassurance we need.
TR: Regarding The Phantom Menace, did George Lucas just hand you his screenplay and give you free rein to develop the characters within certain guidelines, or did he discuss the novelization with you as you wrote it?
TB: I met with Lucas on the Phantom Menace project at Skywalker Ranch to find out what it was going to be like to work with the LucasBooks people. I admit to some concerns. My experience writing an adaptation to HOOK some years earlier was not a good one. But George was very good about agreeing to allow me to write the book the way I wanted, and to comment on it later. He allowed me to change things from the movie script, including dialogue, and I think that was in part because he understands that books do not work the same way as movies. It is a different experience. He wanted me to consider writing the book more from Anakin’s point of view. That was not hard to arrange. Thus we ended up with additional material in the book that could be more easily worked in there than it could have in the movie. It made a perfect compliment to the movie, rather than just a rehash of it.
TR: Any thoughts on series vs. stand alone novels?
TB: Well, if readers like what they find on their first journey in, they want to go back. The trick for the writer, of course, is not to make the multiple book form seem artificial. There is a certain amount of pressure on writers to just keep doing the same thing because it sold last time, so should sell this time. This is not a good way for a writer to go. It is one of the reasons I only do a certain amount of stories in a world before going away to write something else. It keeps me fresh and interested. On the other hand, now and then a single fantasy novel is sufficient to do what is needed. I think of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Mists of Avalon,” for example. That book was complete all on its own, although she chose to write one or two sequels. I think it depends on the material.
(Note: Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is read on audio by Alexander Adams, a pseudonym for Grover Gardner.) 

Mysteries

THE DROWNING POOL by Ross MacDonald: When a millionaire matriarch is found floating face down in the family pool, the prime suspects are her good-for-nothing son and his wife, who stand to inherit, as well as a questionable chauffeur and a tycoon of a company trying to get the woman’s property for the oil under it. Private Investigator Lew Archer takes this case in the Los Angeles suburbs and encounters a moral wasteland of corporate greed and family hatred—and sufficient motive for a dozen murders.

 

Classic Scifi

Jack Vance

Jack Vance Audiobook: he had been granted eternal life—but now he was living on borrowed time. Gavin Waylock had waited seven years for the scandal surrounding his former immortal self to be forgotten and had kept his identity concealed so that he could once again join the ranks of those who lived forever. He had been exceedingly careful about hiding his past. Then he met the Jacynth. She was a beautiful nineteen-year-old, and Gavin wanted her. But he recognized that a wisdom far beyond her years marked her as one who knew too much about him to live. As far as she was concerned, death was a mere inconvenience. But once the Jacynth came back, Gavin Waylock’s life would be an everlasting hell. . .

“Narrator Kevin Kenerly sets a commanding tone of this visionary morality tale…On audio for the first time, the novel illuminates thoughts on race and class in the unique way only science fiction can pull off, and Kenerly’s naturally strong and charming voice is aided by his gift for wry engagement, his subtle yet enthusiastic steering of the story arc, and his effortless creation of both male and female characters. What makes this book special is how it reveals the universal truths of human nature, ending with a befitting twist. Kenerly is the perfect pilot for the ride.”Audiobooks Today