To Boldly Go…In Your Ear: Episode I: Untouched by Human Hands! Downloadable Audio!
From the Net Directly to Your Home or Rocket Ship!
Imagine a brave new world in which you can beam your scientific romances, speculative fiction, and fan-boy/girl favorites directly up to your starship using your already installed computer tractor beam or directly to the control room of your TARDIS! Well now you can! Have your Communications Officer tune your ansible to the Harris County Public Library’s website. (If you don't happen to have an ansible you can also use your home computer.) Send out a probe to detect the word “Downloadable” in the Format Field of the Refine menu on the right-hand side of the page. Then say, in a firm commanding voice, “Energize.” If that doesn’t work then click here.
On the other hand, if you don’t care for all the time that it takes to travel to the stars, you might enjoy some traveling in time from the man who introduced the fourth dimension as a great get-a-way destination for adventure. Step aboard The Time Machine as H.G. Wells images it. There are several formats and narrators to choose from here. But, I really like Bernard Mayes for his dry English rendition. The narration makes a nice counterpoint to the imaginative action.
“Would you like to see the Time Machine itself?” asked the Time Traveller. And therewith, taking the lamp in his hand, he led the way down the long, draughty corridor to his laboratory. I remember vividly the flickering light, his queer, broad head in silhouette, the dance of the shadows, how we all followed him, puzzled but incredulous, and how there in the laboratory we beheld a larger edition of the little mechanism which we had seen vanish from before our eyes. Parts were of nickel, parts of ivory, parts had certainly been filed or sawn out of rock crystal.
“Look here,” said the Medical Man, “are you perfectly serious? Or is this a trick? like that ghost you showed us last Christmas?”
“Upon that machine,” said the Time Traveller, holding the lamp aloft, “I intend to explore time. Is that plain? I was never more serious in my life.”
If you’re in the mood for something serious you may enjoy The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. The book’s original publishers, Villard Books, decided to market this as a literary novel, much to the surprise of the author, whose short description of the book was, “Jesuits in Space.” In 2019 the giant radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico picks up music broadcast from somewhere near Alpha Centauri. While the United Nations debates on the expense or need to launch an expedition to investigate, the Society of Jesus quietly outfits a craft and sets off. What they find on the new world of Rakhat is a society and social ecology that is structured very differently than the one they left behind on Earth. The survivor’s story is both harrowing and thought provoking.
While you’re provoking your thoughts you might also consider the temperature at which paper bursts into flame: Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s now classic story of a totalitarian society.
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, and he enjoys his job. But he has a secret dread hidden in the ventilation ducts above his ceiling. Lately he thinks that his hands are betraying him. They keep snatching and hiding the things he’s supposed to burn. One day he encounters an eccentric teenage girl on the way home from work. What she says begins to worry him. He’s not sure why. But things are not right. His wife has attempted suicide several times, but she doesn’t want to talk to him about it. She does not want to believe that it happened. She just wants to watch “The Family” on the wall-sized television. She just wants to be happy and normal.
Less serious, but plenty of fun is Sick Building, a spinoff from the new Dictor Who television program. The building is the ultimate get away vacation home. If only it wasn’t for the Voracious Craw. The Voracious Craw, an omnivorous mountain-sized predator, is about to gobble up everything on Tiermann's World: saber-toothed tigers, plant life, the landscape itself and even Tiermann himself, his family and his deluxe Dreamhome. The Tiermanns own their own planet and live in such luxury because Professor Ernest Tiermann invented most of the automated furnishings in Dreamhome and the Domovoi, the artificial intelligence that guides them. Professor Tiermann still rules the roost, dominating his wife and their teenage son, the only human inhabitants of the planet, and he does not like an alien Time Lord and his companion dropping in unannounced. He already knows about the Voracious Craw, and he already has his own plans for evacuation, thank you very much, and he plans to do it his way without outside interference. What Tiermann doesn’t know is that it won’t be outsiders who will foil his escape plans. He considers the furnishings, which he has endowed with human characteristics and consciousness, as expendable bits of machinery that must be abandoned to the Craw. It’s a consideration that does not sit well with the Domovoi!
A Plea for Help
The tech-savvy among you may even be able to download the all of the above audio delicacies directly to your PDA, cell phone or comlink. However, as a struggling member of the digital immigrant generation I need help verifying this? Someone out there in cyberspace please let me know if this is really possible.
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi! You are my only hope!”