The Year’s Top Ten Tales Of Science Fiction 7 edited by Allan Kaster (CD book review).

September 10, 2015 | By | Reply More

It doesn’t seem long since the very first edition of ‘Top 10 Tales Of Science Fiction’ was on the market and here we are with number 7 which includes some of the best from 2014 and, once again, we have a really good CD collection with these tales narrated by two of our favourites, Nancy Linari and Tom Dheere. A well packaged box, attractive and presentable, it contains seven CDs and almost 10 hours of unabridged narration. Having listened to them all from the start, I can verify the quality hasn’t diminished and that it’s as good as ever.

YearsTopTenSF-7CD

If I had to pick a favourite it would be the very weird tale about alien invaders who had conquered the Earth in ‘Sadness’ by Timons Esaias. A man tries to get the better of them but it’s a difficult task because they are so different and unusual that they defy common logic. I mean, an alien visitor cutting off his own big toe and planting it in the garden is a bit unusual. Trying to beat the aliens involved an abnormal amount of mind shifting and security consciousness especially after hundreds of years of their domination.

Perhaps the least favourite story was ‘Marielena’ by Nina Allan which dealt with asylum seeker immigrants in Britain’s near future. Maybe too close for comfort in some respects, it was also too political and maybe a bit inaccurate.

Of the rest, there is plenty of variety and scope, a mixed bag of writing style and subject, all pretty well interesting and enjoyable. A brief summary goes as follows:

A convicted serial killer is sentenced to mind alteration to cure his neurological disorder that resulted in the sociopathic murdering of thirteen women in ‘Covenant’ by Elizabeth Bear. ‘The Magician And LaPlace’s Demon’ by Tom Crosshill follows a powerful artificial intelligence that discovers the existence of magic and then prosecutes a vendetta against the magicians who grow more powerful as their numbers dwindle.

In ‘Amicae Aeternum’ by Ellen Klages, a generation starship is about to take-off and a young girl thinks about her past and future on leaving the planet Earth forever, never to see it again. ‘Red Lights And Rain’ by Gareth L. Powell is a blend of Science Fiction and vampires in which they are manufactured, not born. In ‘The Sarcophagus’ by Robert Reed, the maintenance cyborgs of the Great Ship encounter a stranded spacer in a derelict lifesuit from a long ago ship. ‘Babelsberg’ by Alastair Reynolds tells a story of a robot whose account of the dead colonists recently found on Titan are challenged by another artificial intelligence. This is a subject more and more common in today’s literature with the advancement of computers in society ever more to the forefront.

In ‘Passage Of Earth’ by Michael Swanwick, a familiar name to the top 10 series, a coroner gets a taste of the Earth invaders’ superior intelligence while dissecting a giant worm-like alien. Finally, in ‘The Colonel’ by Peter Watts, Colonel Moore tries to assess the capabilities of the hived human intelligences that have attacked a compound under his command.

You couldn’t really ask for a better 10 hours of entertainment. It doesn’t really matter if you listen to them while travelling, sitting on an armchair or lying in bed, it’s a great alternative to watching TV. Audio has greater scope because the mind can travel much further than movie productions which are limited to what the technicians can produce. The imagination is a much better vehicle. You will see that times change. 30 years ago there was never the same emphasis on computerised entities such as we have today, confirming the fact that we have really grown up in the electronic age and our perceptions are beginning to alter forever.

This is definitely a collection to recommend and as with the six that came before, it is one to keep and explore in future years. Okay, it’s not the definitive stamp of what everyone would consider as the best Science Fiction, it’s more a representation of what was most popular. It is not to everybody’s taste but you can’t please everyone all the time. Nevertheless, it’s not bad at all and I think most people will be pleased with the outcome. Of course, it’s available in print and electronic download as well. What is recommended here is the CD collection. CDs are probably not as popular as they used to be but, as a physical collection, a box that can be put on a bookshelf, it is a real concrete entity which you can relate to. I would say there is still a place for this type of product. As a gift for yourself or somebody else, this is a good purchase.

Rod MacDonald

August 2015

(pub: Infinivox/Audiotexttapes. 7 CDs 10 hours 10 stories. Price: $29.99 (US) inc p&p. £27.54 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-884612-73-2)

read by: Tom Dheere, Nancy Linari and Dara Rosenberg

check out websites: www.audiotexttapes.net, www.infinivoxSF.com and www.audiotexttapes.net/TheYearsTopTenTales7.htm

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Category: Music/Audio, Scifi

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