Going Postal in the News

Audible

Postmarked for Death now at Audible. A postal clerk in Tucson targets government offices and mail processing equipment supporting food stamps and Mexican immigrants near the border fence/wall. He is hunted by a rookie postal inspector while police search for the wrong man. (Calvin continues to work and mail letter bombs, with a patsy/fellow postal worker framed and tied up in an abandoned Titan missile base in the desert just north of Nogales.) A psychological suspense told from two viewpoints, with a look into the mind of the bomber (who realizes that shooters are committing suicide!) Based on actual postal shootings, like the one in Edmond Oklahoma that killed 14, and the Unabomber. New to audio, read by Len Cassamas. “A class performance, powerful and accomplished. Mystery at its best.” –Clive Cussler  

USA Today

Ready Player One

Ready Player One is a visually intensive “blast.” Stephen Spielberg pulled off many amazing stunts and scenes, utilizing the latest special effects technology. The look of the film, which seems to have an unlimited budget, is designed to capture gamers and video game lovers attention. Lots of virtual reality weapons, car and truck racing, explosions, and many movies playing a part like a Disney theme park come to life. (The Shining was particularly effective and fun.) My favorite scene was when Chucky and a emoji attack players. Their real world is broken, and depressing. Slum trailer parks and mansions, little in between. Based on the novel by Ernest Cline (narrated on audio by Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame), it features a USPS van driven at the climax by the heroes, who are being attacked by corporate killers. The message of the film is that “VR is not reality, only reality is real.” So in a way it takes the path of Avatar, drama and romance and war, ending with food for thought. The switch from first person shooters to adventure games with puzzles may get some fans to switch from thinking “Reality is Broken” as an escape to thinking “Reality can be fixed. Let’s do it.” 

Playing with Fire

Audio Drama

Click on image above for link to the Radio Drama, which is downloadable for your local radio station or website. Produced for Sun Sounds Radio for the Blind (art museum related horror,) with a link to the charity. Free download; several others are there too. Full cast and sound. In news, my novel Awakening Storm has been released at Audible, narrated by ESPN horse racing producer and voiceover talent Barry Abrams. 

Barry Abrams

Hurricane Season

Audiobook News

Audiobooks

Even the ones which get the boot are worth a look, or listen…

Through the Audie Awards® competition, publishers enter titles in various categories for recognition of excellence. Finalists are selected by a diverse group of experienced judges and one winner is awarded the Audie in each category. Finalists for Industry Awards for Excellence in Design, Marketing, and Production and for Audiobook of the Year announced. For more information and to see a list of all of the nominees, visit www.theaudies.com.

Some of the nominees we recommend are:  Glass Houses by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio / How to Work for an Idiot (Revised and Expanded with More Idiots, More Insanity, and More Incompetency): Survive and Thrive Without Killing Your Boss by John Hoover, narrated by Brian Sutherland, published by Audible Studios / Peak Performance by Brad Stullberg and Steve Magness, narrated by Christopher Lane, published by Brilliance Publishing / The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss, narrated by Kate Reading, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Beartown by Fredrik Backman, narrated by Marin Ireland, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Code Girls by Liza Mundy, narrated by Erin Bennett, published by Hachette Audio / Carpet Diem: Or…How to Save the World by Accident by Justin Lee Anderson, narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies, published by Tantor Audio, a division of Recorded Books / The Handmaid’s Tale: Special Edition by Margaret Atwood and Valerie Martin, narrated by Claire Danes, Margaret Atwood, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios / Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope, narrated by David Shaw-Parker, published by Naxos AudioBooks / The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See, narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles, Kimiko Glenn, and others, published by Simon & Schuster Audio / Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Macmillan Audio / Nevertheless We Persisted, edited by Tanya Eby: Blunder Woman Productions / Nights of the Living Dead: An Anthology edited by Jonathan Maberry and George A. Romero, narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Rex Linn, Gabrielle de Cuir, Adenrele Ojo, Richard Gilliland, Ray Porter, Kristoffer Tabori, and Kasey Lansdale, published by Blackstone Publishing / Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray, narrated by January LaVoy, published by Listening Library / Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork, narrated by Roxana Ortega and Christian Barillas, published by Scholastic Audio / Now, isn’t this all “The Voice” for Voice Actors? Somebody call Adam Levine. Today is his birthday. On today, March 18, if you say, “Alexa, Hello,” into your Amazon Echo, she will tell you this. Scary? She’s an AI. What happens when AI happens for real, with real emotions? Real narrations, robot actors? For now, Alexa can play your Audible audiobooks, and keep track of chapters and how much time is left in the book! AGT.

Whiskey Business

If your audiobook doesn’t win, you could turn to whiskey. Whiskey Business, that is! An audiobook narrated by Barry Abrams. A Powerball winner was announced today, too. Consolation prize? Or you could win next time.

 

Interview with Ctein

Ctein

Ctein has a double-degree from Caltech in English and Physics. He has written over 500 articles, columns, books, and manuals on photographic topics, and done research in everything from solar astronomy to computer screens, and from the seventy-year-old dye transfer printmaking process to state-of-the-art electronic color displays. He has made new discoveries about ordinary B&W photographic printing and new designs for computer printers. Most recently, he became a novelist, co-authoring Saturn Run with John Sandford, and is hard at work on a new novel, a disaster thriller, with Scifi author David Gerrold (who, among many novels, wrote “The Trouble with Tribbles” script for Star Trek.) 

Jonathan Lowe) How did your book collab with John Sandford come about? I heard he wrote you, and you didn’t want to do it at first, money being “the root of all evil.”

Ctein) This is, in fact, 99% true. We concatenated a couple of different conversations for the sake of narrative, and I never said money was the root of all evil. John stuck that in – he thought it amusing, but it is true to life.

Lowe) And the new book project? Not with Sandford?

Ctein) No. After Saturn Run, I had an idea for a natural disaster thriller, based upon a paper that appeared in Nature about 15 years ago – a computer model of what kind of tidal wave would occur after a major Hawaiian offshore landslide, which happens every couple of hundred thousand years. John wasn’t available to write another book with me. He and I like working together, but he’s contractually obligated to turning out two of his series novels a year, and there are only so many hours in the day. We may well work together at some point in the future. I’ve got this idea for next book. I could write it myself, but it happens I like collaborating. More fun. About the time the Saturn Run was coming out a long time good friend of mine and science fiction author David Gerrold asked me if I might be interested in having him as a collaborator at some point. So I rung him up on the phone, pitched the natural disaster novel idea to him and asked him if he’d be interested in doing something like that, and he said hell yes. The new novel is tentatively titled “Ripple Effect” and it’s about 75% done. Can’t tell you when it will come out, but I’m hoping within a year. In the meantime, a 35,000 word excerpt from it that stands on its own will be appearing in the May/June issue of Asimov’s science fiction magazine under the title “Bubble & Squeak.” To be clear, Ripple Effect isn’t science fiction. It’s a contemporary natural disaster thriller, set a few years from now for convenience, but it doesn’t make particular use of that. But it is hard science – all the actual disaster/geology stuff is as accurate as we know how to make it.

Lowe) Sounds great. Look forward to it. Do you have a mentor or someone who influenced you to write? Mine was Ray Bradbury, who answered every letter I wrote him as a teen fan.

Ctein) I met Ray Bradbury when I was in college. Several of us got to go out to dinner with him. It was not long after I had decided that my chosen career would be photographer, not physicist, and nobody was objecting but it was not the sort of thing that one got a lot of  explicit support for at Caltech. After dinner, Ray asked us what we planned to do with our lives. He got to me and I very hesitantly said, “Well, I was planning on becoming a photographer.” Ray clapped his hands and boisterously exclaimed, “Good for you!” It was the first time anyone had shown enthusiasm over my choice. It made a huge difference to me. That is why my first book was dedicated to Ray Bradbury.

Lowe) As was one of mine! Incredible. It’s a small world, after all. Thanks.

Saturn Run

Science Fiction

Vintage scifi, with a early Ray Bradbury story. Note AE Van Vogt. His novel “Voyage of the Space Beagle” (Darwin’s ship) inspired the Alien series. His estate sued, and Ridley Scott settled out of court. The new HBO series Fahrenheit 451 was inspired by a story Ray wrote called “The Pedestrian,” which later featured David Ogden Stiers in a Bradbury TV series, and foretold driverless cars and drones. The drone helicopter, piloted by a robot, takes two men out for a walk (instead of watching sports on their “viewing screens” –flat screen TVs) to the “Center for Research on Regressive Tendencies.” The 2002 movie Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale, is another reinterpretation on Fahrenheit 451…this time featuring burning and guns. It is also interesting to note that “Voyage of the Space Beagle” inspired David Gerrold. His seeing “The Man Trap” on Star Trek caused him to submit his “The Trouble with Tribbles” script, and the “The Man Trap” was inspired by the Van Vogt novel. Gerrold also used the animal, a “Coeurl” in his book “A Season for Slaughter,” which is the creature’s name in the Van Vogt novel. Trivia, but interesting, no?

 

Becoming Meryl Streep

Meryl StreepHer Again is an intimate look at the artistic coming-of-age of the greatest actress of her generation, from the homecoming float at her suburban New Jersey high school, through her early days on the stage at Vassar College and the Yale School of Drama during its golden years, to her star-making roles in The Deer Hunter, Manhattan, and Kramer vs. Kramer. New Yorker contributor Michael Schulman brings into focus Meryl’s heady rise to stardom on the New York stage; her passionate, tragically short-lived love affair with fellow actor John Cazale; her marriage to sculptor Don Gummer; and her evolution as a young woman of the 1970s wrestling with changing ideas of feminism, marriage, love, and sacrifice.

Featuring eight pages of black-and-white photos in a PDF, this captivating story of the making of one of the most revered artistic careers of our time reveals a gifted young woman coming into her extraordinary talents at a time of immense transformation, offering a rare glimpse into the life of the actress long before she became an icon.

THE POST was nominated for Best Picture, and Streep for Best Actress. The story is appropriate for our times for several reasons: newspapers are dying in favor of online McNews video and sound bites. Many local news stations have folded their investigative departments, and instead chase viral videos just like TMZ does. It is all about sports and weather. “Scores” (whether on the football field or killing fields) are tallied and delivered, accompanied by ads for junk food and prescription drugs. War stories and political secrets are particularly suppressed or debated, with only a few outlets like the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post (along with 60 Minutes and Frontline) spending time and money to get to the truth. Disinformation and fake news attack these efforts relentlessly. Many of the movies up for Oscars were based on books. Writing, like reporting, takes work that many do not want to take in a “winner-take-all” culture. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, had this to say about it: “Factoids are clips posted to make people believe they know more than they do. The less people read, the more violent the world becomes.”

 

Elon Musk’s Favorite Book

Tesla

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. How do we know this? A copy exists onboard the Tesla now traveling to Mars. It’s in the glovebox! A sign on dash reads “Don’t Panic!” That’s also from the book. 

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox—the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

SpaceX

How to Debunk Bad Science, Conspiracy, and Fake News

Star trek

Fake News, “alternative facts,” and bogus science is more viral now than ever. Over 100,000 videos on Youtube tell us the Earth is flat. Our President denies basic science, and thanked InfoWars (a conspiracy site) for help in his election. The “History” Channel suggests the pyramids were built by Ancient Aliens, relying on ancient writings and drawings as “evidence.” Throughout history, mankind has struggled to understand life’s mysteries, from the mundane to the seemingly miraculous. Static societies endured for ages, without progress, because creativity was suppressed. Challenges to dogma were met with death. In THE BEGINNING OF INFINITY, David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation, shows why man’s ego colors his faulty interpretations of events and observations. The human eye, he argues, is the least important tool of science, and the most easily fooled. Things are rarely what they seem, and no justification or authority is needed to arrive at truth. What is needed is to recognize flaws of logic, which have plagued mankind for thousands of years. Static thinking, mired in superstition and error, is our past, but need not be our future. Listening to this 20 hour audiobook is like getting a college degree in physics, biology, math, and geology. You will no longer be victim to those who would manipulate your beliefs for profit. Called one of the most profound science books ever written by the NY Times, it shows why explanations have a fundamental place in the universe. They have unlimited scope and power to cause change, and the quest to improve them is the basic regulating principle not only of science but of all successful human endeavor. This stream of ever improving explanations has infinite reach. Optimistic in outlook, the book shows how we are subject only to the laws of physics, but they impose no upper boundary to what we can eventually understand, control, and achieve. A most relevant Must Read or Hear. http://TowerReview.com

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