In 1981, NPR affiliate station KUSC hatched a bold plan to adapt George Lucas’ Star Wars for radio. Easily the most visual film of the last decade, Star Wars as a listening experience seemed like an unlikely idea, but Lucas sold them the rights to adapt the hit movie for one dollar, and opened the Lucasfilm vaults to the show’s producers: Star Wars sound effects would be available to them in their raw form, along with every note of John Williams’ music. The cast was a mixture of original Star Wars cast members, Hollywood veterans, and future TV and movie stars still in the early stages of their careers. Novelist Brian Daley and Director John Madden then turned the first three films into "movies to watch with your eyes closed." [more inside]
Sound of Cinema - British Sci-Fi from the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder - BBC Radio 3 talks to film composer Stephen Price about The Shape of Things to Come, Alien, Gravity, and other science fiction soundtracks.
Tabletop Audio - a new site with sixty ambient sound and music files for science fiction, horror, fantasy, modern and historical tabletop games. Plus a nifty queue manager and the option to download the tracks for play offline.
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
The very first major science fiction series for adults on radio was Mutual Broadcasting System's 2000 Plus (1950-1952). An anthology program, 2000 Plus used all new material rather than adapting published stories. Just one month after its premiere, NBC Radio began airing Dimension X (1950-1951), which dramatized the written work of such young writers as Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Kurt Vonnegut. In 1955, NBC relaunched Dimension X as X Minus One (1955-1958), drawing from stories that had been published in the two most popular science fiction magazines at the time: Astounding and Galaxy. 17 of 30 episodes of 2000 Plus, all 50 episodes of Dimension X, and all 125 episodes of X Minus One are available for free download as individual mp3s from the Internet Archive. [more inside]
In need of a regular dose of audio short fiction, whether it's horror, crime, or pulp fantasy? Welcome to the District of Wonders, a collection of podcasts spun off from the award winning StarShipSofa (previously, previosly).
In Martian Chronicles, a young-adult novella by Cory Doctorow, colonists leave a bloated earth and head towards the economic promise land of Mars. There's a fascinating spin on this tale that isn't summarize-able so go listen to it. Part 1, 2, 3.
A Canticle for Leibowitz (1981, NPR); an audio adaptation of Walter Miller's 1960 history of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz in the centuries after the Flame Deluge. [more inside]
Following the success of The Haunter of The Dark, the HP Lovecraft Literary Podcasts presents two new readings, From Beyond and The Picture in The House, by Andrew Leman and Bruce Green. Both recordings are available "In 3D". Alternatively if you like your Lovecraft with both pictures AND sound, the HP Lovecraft Historical Society version of The Whisperer in Darkness is complete and being shown at worldwide film festivals - it's a talkie! (The HPLHS are now also offering a rather handsome "official membership" pack.) Want something more interactive? Cthulhu Dark offers a complete Lovecraftian tabletop RPG system that fits on two sides of a sheet of paper. Please note: "If you fight any creature you meet, you will die. Thus, in these core rules, there are no combat rules or health levels. Instead, roll to hide or escape."
Due to a rewording of the rules Science Fiction podcast StarShipSofa (previously, previously, previously) could be eligible for a Hugo award. Meanwhile the current episode features The Gambler (text version here), a story by Paolo Bacigalupi - best known as the author of The Windup Girl, one of TIME Magazine's ten books of the year ("Not just science fiction, mind, but fiction, generally") and almost certainly a favorite for the Hugo's best novel category.
StarshipSofa has podcasted all of the Nebula Best Short Story Nominees for 2008, following on from podcasting all but one of the 2008 BSFA short story nominees. Previous StarshipSofa.