Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis, John Cleese (Read by)

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I've lost count of the number of times I've read (or listened to) this priceless book. It is delightful - and I consider "devotional" in how, through the perspective of the demon Screwtape, we poor sinners get a much better picture of the spiritual warfare that is our earthly lives. And, as I've perhaps noted before, I enjoy reflecting on where my father was when he first read it - in a German POW camp.

This audio reading by John Cleese is excellent. His reading - his ACTING - of Screwtape's words is spot on. I've done readings from this myself, but none since hearing Mr Cleese - I'm sure he'll influence me greatly, should I get another opportunity to perform fromt this classic.

(the library links above may not lead you to the unabridged Cleese reading -I'd recommend searching "by words," to find it).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by

S. M. Stirling

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Stirling's charming second pastiche of 1930s planetary romances (after 2006's The Sky People) moves from Venus to Mars, where different Terran factions vie to pick up the pieces of the Tollamune emperor's shattered realm. Archeologist Jeremy Wainman, sent by the U.S. Aerospace Force to explore the lost city of Rema-Dza, promptly falls in love with Martian mercenary Teyud za-Zhalt; no surprise that she turns out to be heir to the long-vanished Crimson Dynasty, or that they rush off to thwart an attempt to usurp the Ruby Throne.

Terrific. Hard to say more. I really admire how Stirling took the conventions of Burroughs (evil Lords, swordplay, super leaps from muscular earthmen, mannered "honor code" bound Martians and more) and wove them into a story that (at least to me) rings true, as a hard SF story of today. I also really enjoy how he depicts the 60's era SF writers and how they respond to discovering that Mar (and Venus) really ARE like the worlds Burroughs and his ilk described.