I mentioned this already near the end of last month’s #WhispersyncDeal roundup, but I figured I would expand things a bit and offer up one last reminder that Downpour.com‘s “Black Friday” sale extended well beyond the one day, and finally does end tonight (Thursday, December 3). There’s plenty of titles well below credit cost, and pre-orders (!!) and rentals are also included. One I’d recommend, right off the bat?
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, read by Stefan Rudnicki for Skyboat Media — For $7.63 this is kind of a “no brainer”, people. It’s one of the great all time works of science fiction, read by one of the masters of the audiobook form, with excellent production touches to boot: “Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.” And apparently the “Black Friday” discounts also include rental prices, as Babel-17 rents for $3.48. I reviewed the (quite nice) rental process earlier this year, and can recommend it without hesitation. (Although in this case, I might suggest you buy it; Rudnicki reading Delany may be a pairing for your personal re-listening library.)
As I mentioned, the “Black Friday” sale also includes pre-orders, which is kind of unheard of, so I’ll go ahead and mention one I’ve already snapped up: Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett, read by Jamye Méri Grant for Skyboat Media. Just out on December 1, it’s on sale for $8.98, and for rent for $3.48. Recipient of a 2015 Philip K. Dick Award Special Citation and a 2014 Locus Recommendation for First Novel, it was also one of my most-missing audiobooks of 2014: “A computer program etched into the atmosphere has a story to tell—the story of two people, of a city lost to chaos, of survival and love. The program’s data, however, has been corrupted. As the novel’s characters struggle to survive the apocalypse, they are sustained and challenged by the demands of love in a shattered world both haunted and dangerous.”
More pre-orders to check out include Heinlein’s The Star Beast (also now out as of December 1) for $5.99, and The Long List Anthology for $8.98 pre-order (December 15) or $3.48 pre-rental. The latter is the Kickstarter-funded, David Steffen-edited, Skyboat Media-produced audiobook of some of the fantastic short fiction which did not quite make the Hugo finalists lists this year. I’m really, really bummed that Delany’s Dhalgren and Nova aren’t yet available for pre-order, because they’d likely be in this deal, too, and I would have loved to save a few bucks on those, too.
Before I get to an absolute avalanche of recommendations, I’ll highlight a couple more new releases, since new release titles are generally not included in these sales:
Ryan W. Bradley’s new collection Nothing But the Dead and Dying is narrated by Elijah Alexander and Tamara Marston, and is on sale for $4.19 (buy) or $2.98 (rent), the price that’s on offer for his 2014 novella Winterswim, which was read by Paul Michael Garcia. Bradley brings a poet’s language to gritty crime fiction in Winterswim, and his new collection tackles corpse theft to fund a father’s burial, deadbeat fathers and birth defects, life’s brutal endings and beginnings, a 20-plus-story tour of “blue-collar Alaska” that even includes minor league baseball and sports reporting in the Alaskan Moose League.
The Dead Mountaineer’s Inn by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, authors of the classic Russian surrealist science fiction novel Roadside Picnic, got a new (and first-ever English) translation by Josh Billings this year, as well as a new introduction by Jeff VanderMeer, for their “country house murder-mystery” that is anything but either bland or cozy. These are the Strugatsky brothers, of course, and so we’ve got bizarre science fictional goings-on, dark comedy, and in this case Keith Szarabajka’s delightful accent work, for $5.99.
Luna: New Moon begins a new science fiction series for Ian McDonald, under the voices of Suzanne Toren, Soneela Nankani, and Thom Rivera. This one’s already making many best-of-the-year lists: “The scions of a falling house must navigate a world of corporate warfare to maintain their family’s status in the moon’s vicious political atmosphere. The moon wants to kill you—whether it’s being unable to pay your per diem for your allotted food, water, and air, or just getting caught up in a fight between the moon’s ruling corporations, the Five Dragons. You must fight for every inch you want to gain in the moon’s near-feudal society. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.”
Speaking of those “best of the year” lists in science fiction, Planetfall by Emma Newman: “Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, a planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown. More than twenty years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment—and harboring a devastating secret.”
Turning towards fantasy, Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings, read by Peter Kenny: “Multi-award-winning author Aliette de Bodard brings her story of the War in Heaven to Paris, igniting the City of Light in a fantasy of divine power and deep conspiracy. In the late twentieth century, the streets of Paris are lined with haunted ruins. The Great Magicians’ War left a trail of devastation in its wake. The grands magasins have been reduced to piles of debris, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart. But those that survived still retain their irrepressible appetite for novelty and distraction, and the great houses still vie for dominion over France’s once-grand capital. Once the most powerful and formidable, House Silverspires now lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.”
Vermilion by Molly Tanzer is probably my most mispelled book of the year: I type it “Vermillion” and “Vermellion” and probably other things before finally just looking it up. I also had to look up what a “psychopomp” was, but in a year absolutely rife with fantastic Weird Westerns (Wake of Vultures, Bats of the Republic, Karen Memory, and Silver on the Road) Tanzer’s is certainly the punkiest and pompiest: “From British Fantasy Award nominee Molly Tanzer comes her debut novel, Vermilion, a spirited weird Western adventure that puts the punk back into steampunk. Gunslinging, chain-smoking, and Stetson-wearing Taoist psychopomp, Elouise “Lou” Merriwether might not be a normal nineteen year old, but she’s too busy keeping San Francisco safe from ghosts, shades, and geung si to care much about that. It’s an important job, though most folks consider it downright spooky. Some have even accused Lou of being more comfortable with the dead than the living, and, well … they’re not wrong. When Lou hears that a bunch of Chinatown boys have gone missing somewhere deep in the Colorado Rockies, she decides to saddle up and head into the wilderness to investigate. Lou fears her particular talents make her better suited to help placate their spirits than ensure they get home alive, but it’s the right thing to do, and she’s the only one willing to do it.”
Women Destroy Science Fiction! was a special issue of John Joseph Adams’ Lightspeed Magazine, guest edited by Christie Yant. As Skyboat already handles the magazine’s podcast, it was a natural fit to produce a full audiobook as well. Seanan McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, Tanarive Due, N.K. Jemisin, and more. The $11.23 sale price is not too much under a credit, but the $3.48 rental price is a steal.
I also want to highlight some of the works of Kim Stanley Robinson which are included in the sale. This year has seen new audiobooks for The Years of Rice and Salt (read by Bronson Pinchot, a masterwork of both fiction and narration, I cannot really recommend this more highly) and his The Three Californias Triptych (read by Stefan Rudnicki), though only Pacific Edge is under $10 the other two are (just) under the price of a credit, too. A Short, Sharp Shock (read by Paul Michael Garcia) is just $4.49, though it was a bit weird, even for me. Unfortunately, his Hachette Audio audiobooks aren’t below credit cost even with the sale discount, but I have to recommend them all here just the same: 2312, Shaman, and Aurora are all absolutely fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. Get them all.
Cory Doctorow‘s audiobooks are here, too, both his essay collections (Content, Context, and Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free) and his novels Rapture of the Nerds (with Charles Stross), Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (read by Bronson Pinchot), Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, his collection Overclocked, and his young adult novels Little Brother (read by Kirby Heyborne) and Homeland (read by Wil Wheaton), For the Win, Pirate Cinema, and Makers.
Tim Powers has 5 books in the sale: On Stranger Tides and Last Call are read by Bronson Pinchot, while Simon Vance reads The Stress of Her Regard, Simon Prebble reads Declare, and Fiona Hardingham reads Hide Me Among the Graves, all fantastic audiobooks. Lewis Shiner‘s four audiobooks are also on sale: the foundational cyberpunk novel of Mars colonialization Frontera, the World Fantasy Award winning Glimpses, his skateboarding anarchist squat novel Slam, and his Collected Stories, all from Skyboat/Blackstone and Stefan Rudnicki, Gabrielle de Cuir, et al.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle books Rocannon’s World, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions are $3-$5 each, read by Stefan Rudnicki; Lois McMaster Bujold has a tall stack of Borkosigan adventures and Sharing Knife fantasies in the sale.
Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X trilogy is $8.95 for the complete Southern Reach series audiobook, or Annihilation is $5.09 and the other parts are $5.99 each if you’re only missing one. Read by Carolyn McCormick, Bronson Pinchot, and Xe Sands, the series is coming to film under the hand of writer-director Alex Garland (The Beach, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Ex Machina, Never Let Me Go, Dredd), with Natalie Portman and Gina Rodriguez said to be starring. “Dive into the mysteries of Area X, a remote and lush terrain that has inexplicably sequestered itself from civilization. Twelve expeditions have gone in, and not a single member of any of them has remained unchanged by the experience—for better or worse.”
I’ve already mentioned Stefan Rudnicki a half-dozen or so times by now, but that literally isn’t even close to the half of it. He’s also in the sale dozens and dozens more times, reading Ben Bova, Robert Silverberg, Orson Scott Card, Joe R. Lansdale, Louis L’Amour, Charles Beaumont, Robert W. Chambers (The King in Yellow), Theodore Sturgeon (More than Human and To Marry Medusa), Sarban, Shirley Jackson, Walter Jon Williams, Harry Sidebottom, Nancy Kress, Richard Matheson, Fredric Brown, Richard Zimler, and more, including not one but two series by Alex Bledsoe (the Tufa series starting with The Hum and the Shiver which is only $4 to rent, people! and the Eddie LaCrosse series starting with The Sword-Edged Blonde). I also want to especially mention my very, very high opinion both of his performance on Manly Wade Wellman’s The Old Gods Waken and his millenia-spanning speculative fiction anthology Fantastic Imaginings, which served as my introduction to quite a few authors (Clark Ashton Smith for example) and re-introduction to works I hadn’t read in years (Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market”).
Yet more Downpour.com deals? Sure. Here’s a link to all of the fantasy audiobooks under $10 and here’s all of the science fiction audiobooks under $10. A lot of the Tor.com novellas (Kai Ashante Wilson’s Sorcerer of the Wildeeps is fantastic), Jonathan Maberry’s “V Wars” anthologies, Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char, Sandra Newman’s The Country of Ice Cream Star (an amazing book and audiobook), Robert Repino’s Mort(e), Django Wexler’s “The Shadow of Elysium”, John Joseph Adams’s Operation Arcana, Wastelands, and The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination anthologies, Kevin J. Anderson’s The Map of All Things, Peter V. Brett’s Messenger’s Legacy, CL Moore’s Black God’s Kiss, Brian McClellan’s Return to Honor, Jonathan L. Howard’s The Fear Institute, Patrick Rothfuss’ The Slow Regard of Silent Things, James Cambias’ A Darkling Sea, Carolyn Ives Gilman’s Dark Orbit, Alastair Reynolds’ Slow Bullets, Christopher Buehlman’s The Lesser Dead and Between Two Fires, Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstor, Catherynne M. Valente’s Six-Gun Snow White (this is a fun one; books 3 and 4 of her Fairyland series are also on sale), Terry Bisson’s Bears Discover Fire and Other Stories (one of my ten favorite books of all time), Todd McCaffery’s Dragonwriter, John Crowley’s Little, Big, Larry Niven’s Ringworld, Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper’s Building Harlequin’s Moon (a greatly underrated sf work of the 2000s), T.C. McCarthy’s Germline, Brian Evenson’s Immobility, Mira Grant’s Feed, Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music, Connie Willis’ Bellwether, Peter Watts’ Echopraxia, Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim, Jane Rogers’ The Testament of Jesse Lamb, Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible, Walter M. Miller’s classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, two The New Space Opera anthologies, Jack Vance, Catherine Asaro, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Kate Wilhelm, Mervyn Peake, Charles de Lint, on and on and on, etc.
Last but certainly not least, Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk is a moving, beautiful memoir of both Macdonald’s personal journey of grief after the death of her father, as she pours herself into training a goshawk, and also an intriguing look at the life of T.H. White, the author of the classic Arthurian retelling The Once and Future King, who also tried (and miserably, miserably failed) to train a goshawk of his own. It also contains some beautiful nature writing, and Macdonald narrates her own story superbly. It was just named one of the NY Times 10 books of the year, and there’s no time like the present to pick it up.
Happy deal-hunting! But shop fast, as the sale ends today. (I don’t have a specific time handy, either! Eek!)