Thirteen – horror audiobook anthology – Cover Art

Well, it is almost here…after two years of work and a lot of wonderful people donating their time, talent and enthusiasm, the THIRTEEN audiobook anthology is being released on 24th August 2013.

Edited by the mighty Scott Harrison (TWEET HERE), and recorded & produced by me, published by my Spokenworld Audio company (CLICK HERE) THIRTEEN contains 13 (well, obviously!) spine-tingling tales of terror, new short stories by some of our biggest and most beloved genre authors, read by some truly epic acting names.

THIRTEEN is an experiment to see how popular audiobook anthologies could be.  We already know genre fans love printed and e-book anthologies, so we hope the same will be true for audiobooks.  If we get good sales and support we hope to attract funding and backing from the likes of Audible to enable to release several anthologies every year.

Before we get to the full running order, and who’s who, let us first take a moment to gaze fully upon the cover art for the audiobook.  When Scott dreamed up the project he said he hoped we could have a cover that was reminiscent of a 1970s Pan Book Of Horror, or one of those classic spoken word horror LPs.  So, I turned to designer genius Matt Dillon (also a mighty fine author in his own right – TWEET HERE) and set him the challenge.  Well, as you can see below, he absolutely SMASHED it!  This is the cover art of our dreams…

Image

Gaze upon its beauty and loveliness…the single-eyed skull reminds me a little of the old ITV kid’s show Knightmare!  It oozes 1970s Pan vibes. Hopefully you’ll forgive us the UNDEAD STEREO pun…all those old LPs used to say LIVING STEREO, so we just couldn’t help ourselves.  Matt is a certified deity of cover art…flood him with commissions, he is worth every damn penny you spend!

Here’s the back cover (well, OK, so it’s a digital download, but LPs had two sides, so why can’t we?! which shows you just who has written for us, and who has done the reading:

Thirteen - Back Cover 2000

If you can’t read the text for any reason, here’s the running order:

Side A

1 – Hidden Track (part 1) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

2 – Dead Space  by  George Mann read by Greg Wise

3 – A Girl, Sitting  by  Mark Morris read by Jilly Bond

4 – Finding The Path  by  Kaaron Warren read by Trevor White

5 – The Hairstyle of the Devil  by  Martin Day read by Arthur Darvill

6 – Down  by  Gary McMahon read by Stephen Rashbrook

7 – Visions  by  Cavan Scott read by Michael Maloney

8 – Half Life  by  Dan Abnett read by John Banks

9 – Hidden Track (part 2) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

Side B

10 – With Her In Spirit  by  Stephen Gallagher read by Frances Barber

11 – Tabula Rasa  by  Alasdair Stuart read by Lalla Ward

12 – One Hit Wanda  by  Kim Newman read by Samuel West

13 – A Glass of Water  by  Mark Wright read by Gemma Arterton

14 – Ghost Pit  by  Simon Clark read by Jeff Harding

15 – I Wish  by  Johnny Mains read by Steven Cree

16 – Hidden Track (part 3) by Scott Harrison read by Barnaby Edwards

Obligatory Xmas Charity Single

Waaaaay back in the mid-90s I worked for B97, a commercial radio station in Bedford.  We were asked to support the local Anglia TV Kid’s Xmas charity, and so we did, with lots of on-air activity and THIS wee song, written and performed by Paul Garner (now a famous comedy writer) and me with some help from a lot of other lovely people.  We made cash for the kids, so it was a good thing.  Whether the single is a good thing or not I’ll leave up to you!

Written by Paul Garner & Neil Gardner

Performed by Paul Garner, Neil Gardner, Neil Bentley, Tim Page, B97 Crew, Yamaha Crew

Recorded at The Bunkers, Bedford

Thanks to B97/Chiltern Radio & all who helped make it possible.

How I Remember, Remember the 5th November

It is the 5th of November once again, and whilst the past few days have been celebratory, feeling chuffed about my audiobook business (www.ladbrokeaudio.com) surviving its first year, the time has come once again to look back and mourn the death of my best friend, Pete Barnes.  He died, 9 years ago today, aged just 30, of a series of strokes.  I’ve written a lot about this before, so won’t bore you with it all again.  Suffice to say, he was my best friend (of 16 years) as well as my housemate, my brother-in-arms and the geekiest guy I knew.  He was fit and healthy. He had no obvious signs of an impending stroke.  We were playing a computer game on a Sunday afternoon and then…BANG…my best bud was dead. Gone. Never to hear him speak again.  9 years hasn’t lessened the pain, I still grieve everyday, still feel guilt every minute and still miss him every second.  So many great and geeky things have happened to me in the past 9 years, and while I know I had Pete with me in spirit, boy do I wish he’d been there in reality.

So here’s to Pete Barnes…a true top chap.  Taken too soon, but a joy to have known.

Now here’s the thing…stroke can affect ANYBODY!  Not just the old or unwell.  Many younger people suffer from strokes and you need to know the signs.  I didn’t and I blame myself for not getting him the medical help he needed (as well as blaming those at the hospital who were unable/unwilling/untrained to do what was needed as soon as possible).  This doesn’t have to happen to anyone else.  PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, watch this video from the Stroke Association and learn about the FAST test…it really won’t take too much of your time and may save a life one day.

Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for taking the time to watch the video and learn the FAST test.  Pete was my best friend, my brother in life and my continued inspiration.  He is 9 years gone, but forever here. I miss you, mate.

Some Lewis Carroll Inspired Poetry

I’ve been working on some Lewis Carroll audiobooks recently, and it inspired me to write a bit of Carroll-esque nonsense poetry.  Here it is, I hope you like it!

 

“Bring Forth My Gyres”

 

Where are they now

Those insatiable needs

Of mome raths and gimbles

And men made of cheese

 

Of yesterday’s mermaids

And low flying goths

Those rampaging mimsies

And full-frontal moths

 

The hearing and sharing

Of obstinate corn

With unquenching framules

And corkscrewing horn

 

Of lobsang and earhole

And marmalade seats

The nearness of oblongs

The left-handed pleats

 

Oh where are they now

Those irrational lords

The insides of normal

And rear-facing hordes

 

Bring forth my gyres

And my oft-quoted toes

Return then your jumstones

This journeyman goes

 

Recent Audiobooks

Normally I do an annual audiobook roundup, those titles I’ve produced and/or edited (with my lovely other half Tanja!)  But it has been such a busy year to date, that I felt a quick update now would be useful (and maybe inspire you to buy one or two of these beauties):

DOCTOR WHO: SHADA – Gareth Roberts/Douglas Adams

CLICK HERE TO BUY

From the unique mind of Douglas Adams, the legendary ‘lost’ Doctor Who story completed at last by Gareth Roberts and read by Lalla Ward.

The Doctor’s old friend and fellow Time Lord Professor Chronotis has retired to Cambridge University – where nobody will notice if he lives for centuries. But now he needs help from the Doctor, Romana and K-9. When he left Gallifrey he took with him a few little souvenirs – most of them are harmless. But one of them is extremely dangerous.

The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey isn’t a book for Time Tots. It is one of the Artefacts, dating from the dark days of Rassilon. It must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. The sinister Skagra most definitely has the wrong hands. He wants the book. He wants to discover the truth behind Shada. And he wants the Doctor’s mind…

Based on the scripts for the original television series by the legendary Douglas Adams, Shada retells an adventure that never made it to the screen.

READ BY LALLA WARD

THE SECRET OF HAPPY EVER AFTER – Lucy Dillon

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When Anna takes over Longhampton’s bookshop, it’s her dream come true. And not just because it gets her away from her rowdy children and their hyperactive Dalmatian. As she unpacks boxes of childhood classics, Anna can’t shake the feeling that maybe her own fairytale ending isn’t all that she’d hoped for. But as the stories of love, adventure, secret gardens and giant peaches breathe new life into the neglected shop, Anna and her customers get caught up in the magic too. Even Anna’s best friend Michelle – who categorically doesn’t believe in true love and handsome princes – isn’t immune. But when secrets from Michelle’s own childhood come back to haunt her, and disaster threatens Anna’s home, will the wisdom and charm of the stories in the bookshop help the two friends – and those they love – find their own happy ever afters?

READ BY JILLY BOND

OVER THE MOON: MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY – David Essex

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As a young schoolboy, David Essex dreamed of becoming a professional footballer and was signed up by his beloved West Ham United. But as a teenager, he developed a passion for music, which set him on a very different path, and ultimately led to superstardom. It wasn’t, however, an easy start. Scraping a living on the edges of show business was a hard slog, and he endured many disappointments.

Then, aged 23, he went along to an audition for a new musical called Godspell and won the role (Jesus) that shot him to fame. Within a year he was starring in a smash hit film, That’ll Be the Day, and had written and recorded his first number-one single, ‘Rock On’. It was the start of Essex Mania, and a long journey of undreamt of adventure.

From Godspell to EastEnders, it’s been an amazing life. And here is David’s full incredible story – in his own words.

READ BY DAVID ESSEX

THE VOYAGES OF THE PRINCESS MATILDA – Shane Spall

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“Tim and I both understood we had done something really stupid. We had underestimated the danger involved in going out to sea. We had no radio, compass, life raft, or flares. In other words, we were a couple of idiots.”

This is the story of Shane and Timothy Spall and their Dutch barge, The Princess Matilda. After a summer on the Thames they head out to sea with only a road atlas and a vast amount of ignorance – and it is absolutely terrifying!  On their travels, memories are triggered of childhood trips to the seaside, but also of more recent times.

As Tim and Shane explore the coast from the Medway to Cornwall, eventually they start to wonder: Could they make it out of England altogether? Could Matilda make it to … Wales?!  Taking place over the course of five years, The Voyages of the Princess Matilda is a minor epic, charting a very personal, moving, and uplifting story of an everyday couple’s adventure around their much-loved homeland. The Spalls’ adventures have already been the subject of two BBC4 series.

READ BY FRANCES BARBER

WHERE HAVE I GONE? MY LIFE IN A YEAR – Pauline Quirke

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Pauline Quirke was a skinny child, a slim teenager, a curvy woman, then – according to her bathroom scales (curse them) – just plain fat. Yes, the “F” word. Tipping the scales at nearly 20 stone, with creaking knees and a dodgy ankle to boot, at the beginning of 2011 Pauline had reached a crisis point. Something had to change, and fast.

It was never going to be an easy ride, but with her trademark warmth and sense of humour, Pauline recounts the highs and lows of the roller-coaster year in which she whips herself, and her life, into shape – with a fair few tales from her celebrated forty-year acting career thrown into the bargain. She reveals all: from the strain of working long hours away from home on one of Britain’s most popular soaps to renewing her wedding vows and reuniting with her Birds of a Feather co-stars; from battling the bulge and facing the naysayers to rediscovering the joys of airline travel…without a seatbelt extension.

Honest and revealing, Where Have I Gone? is brimming with brilliantly funny anecdotes and truly moving moments. So put your feet up and join Pauline as she embarks on the most incredible year of her life.

READ BY PAULINE QUIRKE

THE BOOK OF EBENEZER LE PAGE – GB Edwards

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Ebenezer Le Page, cantankerous, opinionated and charming, is one of the most compelling literary creations of the late 20th century. Eighty years old, Ebenezer has lived his whole life on the Channel Island of Guernsey, a stony speck of a place caught between England and France yet a world away from either. Ebenezer himself is fiercely independent, but as he reaches the end of his life he is determined to tell his own story and the story of those he has known. He writes of family secrets and feuds, unforgettable friendships and friendships betrayed, love glimpsed and lost.

The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is a beautifully detailed chronicle of a life, but it is equally an oblique reckoning with the traumas of the 20th century, as Ebenezer recalls both the men lost to the Great War and the German Occupation of Guernsey during World War II, and looks with despair at the encroachments of commerce and tourism on his beloved island.

READ BY ROY DOTRICE

PLANET OF THE APES – Pierre Boulle

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Greg Wise reads Pierre Boulle’s chilling, iconic novel about a nightmare world where apes rule over men. In a spaceship that can travel at the speed of light, Ulysse, a journalist, sets off from Earth for the nearest solar system. He finds there a planet which resembles his own, except that on Soror humans behave like animals and are hunted by a civilised race of primates. Captured and sent to a research facility, Ulysse must convince the apes of their mutual origins. But such revelations have always been greeted by prejudice and fear… The inspiration for several acclaimed cult films, Planet of the Apes is both a gripping, disturbing fable and a classic of science fiction.

READ BY GREG WISE

SKIOS – Michael Frayn

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On the sunlit Greek island of Skios, the Fred Toppler Foundation’s annual lecture is to be given by Dr Norman Wilfred, the world-famous authority on the scientific organisation of science. He turns out to be young and charming – not at all the intimidating figure they had been expecting. The Foundation’s guests are soon eating out of his hand. So is Nikki, the attractive and efficient organiser. Meanwhile, in a remote villa at the other end of the island, Nikki’s old school-friend Georgie waits for the notorious chancer she has rashly agreed to go on holiday with, and who has characteristically failed to turn up. Trapped in the villa with her, by an unfortunate chain of misadventure, is a balding old gent called Dr Norman Wilfred, who has lost his whereabouts, his luggage, his temper and his sense of reality – everything he possesses apart from the flyblown text of a well-travelled lecture on the scientific organisation of science…

READ BY MARTIN JARVIS

HOLLOW EARTH – John & Carole E. Barrowman

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Twins Matt and Emily Calder have imaginations so powerful that they can make art come to life. Their powers are sought by villains intent on accessing the terrors of Hollow Earth – a place where all the devils, demons and monsters ever imagined lie trapped for all eternity. If Hollow Earth is breached, the world will be plunged into chaos. If Hollow Earth is breached… the twins are as good as dead.

READ BY JOHN BARROWMAN

WHY SPENCER PERCEVAL HAD TO DIE – Andro Linklater

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On the afternoon of May 11, 1812, Spencer Perceval, the all-powerful prime minister of Great Britain, was fatally shot at short range in the lobby of Parliament by John Bellingham, a Liverpool businessman. Perceval polarized public opinion: Revered by some and hated by others for his fight against the lucrative slave trade, he domineeringly kept Britain at war against Napoléon and was driving her into war with the United States despite the huge economic drain of each, raising taxes to new heights to finance his decisions. Bellingham was not alone in blaming Perceval and his government for their ruinous policies; indeed, he claimed to have killed Perceval “as a matter of justice,” and believed he would not only be exonerated, but also applauded for his action. But he was not to enjoy relief; within a week, granted the briefest of trials that trampled his right to due process, he was hanged.

READ BY STEPHEN RASHBROOK

THE HUNT – Andrew Xia Fukuda

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Seventeen-year-old Gene struggles to survive in a society where humans have been eaten to near extinction by the general population. When Gene is chosen to participate in the government-sponsored hunt for the remaining humans, he must learn the art of the hunt but also elude his fellow hunters whose suspicions about his true human nature are growing… A gory, gripping thriller for young adults from acclaimed author Andrew Fukuda.

READ BY TREVOR WHITE

COMING SOON

OLIVER TWIST – Charles Dickens – Read by Dominic Cooper

THE JUNGLE BOOK – Rudyard Kipling – Read by Alistair McGowan

DOCTOR WHO & THE LEISURE HIVE – David Fisher

WHEN HOOPOES GO TO HEAVEN – Gaile Parkin

MISSING PERSONS – Nicci Gerrard

DOCTOR WHO: SNAKEBITE – Scott Handcock

LIONEL ASBO: STATE OF ENGLAND – Martin Amis

PAINTER OF SILENCE – Georgina Harding

NEUROMANCER – William Gibson – Read by Jeff Harding

So as you can see, it has been a busy 6 months, and the titles are building up already for the next 6 months, with two new trilogies we are producing with SNK Publishing for Audible, and some exciting new titles for AudioGO.  Keep on supporting audiobooks and do let us know what you think of any of the titles we’ve produced.

The Beautiful Artwork of Koichi Murai

I am incredibly fortunate to be friends with Koichi Murai, a master of the art of Japanese Calligraphy and ink artwork.  He is a soft-spoken, humble young man with an immense talent and unique style.  He is living back in Japan after being in the UK for some time, and has been working tirelessly as a volunteer clearing up the most damaged parts of the country following the Tsunami/Earthquake.  As a master of calligraphy, he creates stunning ink on ricepaper works, using traditional techniques and tools.  He also uses these traditional crafts to create incredible works of art, many themed around Samurai and Bushido, but he can turn his hand to anything.

I wanted to introduce you to Koichi-san and some examples of his unique artwork and recommend him to you if you are looking for something personal and beautiful.  His artworks are bespoke and incredibly well priced, and make great gifts for yourself or some very lucky friends and family.

Here’s a gallery of some of his works, and if you’d like to learn more about getting one of these pics or something unique, please drop me a line and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with him.  You can also join his facebook page by CLICKING HERE

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LEGO Mechas!

It is no shock to anyone that I am a massive LEGO fan.  We have a heck of a lot of it at our house (and no, we don’t have kids!)  I’ve always loved the versatility of the stuff, but in recent years my appreciation has moved more towards the accuracy and cleverness of the licensed kits (Star Wars, POTC, etc…)  But something was always missing for me…why no Japanese or Anime themed LEGO?  There are tons of fan-built mechas on the internet, so why had LEGO not gone down this route?

So imagine my joy at discovering LEGO had gone down this route, just a few years ago, with their EXO-FORCE range!  I never saw these sets released in the UK, but I may have just missed them.  But wherever they DID come out, they are quite simple the VERY FINEST LEGO SETS EVER!  Oh yes, they are incredible.  Superbly designed, beautiful concepts, well-balanced with fantastic articulation and playability factor.  The anime styled mini-figs are ace, but the mechas are the real deal.  Some even come with light-up bricks that channel red light through to the cockpits and guns.  So…fracking…cool.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s a few snappy snaps of the three new Exo-Force mechas we now own.  They seemed quite at home in our Japanese themed garden :-)

 

Sci-Five Shorties 02 – “Saya’s Last Gasp”

Did you know I co-present a podcast called SCI-FIVE where we investigate all things SF in approximately 5 mins?  No, well, I do, and it is up to episode 62 already…you should go take a listen:

CLICKY HERE FOR THE PODCAST SITE

Recently we have launched the SCI-FIVE SHORTIES, a series of 4-8 minute new SF themed short stories.  I’ve written a few, and for those interested here is the second one, plus the audio link if you are interested in listening:

“SAYA’S LAST GASP” by Neil Gardner

          ‘Bugger!’ Saya shouted as her fingers, encased in their heavy-work gloves, slipped another few inches. ‘Bugger, bugger, bugger!’ Slip, slip, slip.

There are few, if any, good places to find yourself hanging on to by your fingertips, but for Saya, right now, she couldn’t think of any that could be worse.

‘THREE MINUTES TO ACTIVATION’ the robotic computer voice sounded in her ears, her telepathic communication link to the ship still working in one-direction.  Damn it, why couldn’t they hear her?!

‘Buggeration, buggery, bugger!’ she continued to swear, loudly.  She knew no-one could hear her, but the profanity helped keep her calm, and she kind of enjoyed the idea of what someone would think if they were to suddenly be able to hear her.  The thought of a stream of invective roaring around the ship’s telepathic PA system gave her a momentary diversion, before her mind refocused on her predicament.

This was such a stupid, typically-her way to die.  ‘It couldn’t happen to anyone else, could it?’ Saya thought to herself, the joints in her fingers screaming in agony, the gloves gradually slipping further. Why had she even volunteered to do the job?  She was no system specialist, and she certainly wasn’t the best at zero-g working.  Then there was her habit of losing all sense of direction once outside in space, and of course her general dislike of the cumbersome heavy-work space suits.  Combine all that with her clumsiness, lack of balance and all-round inability to do anything right, and Saya quickly realised just why she was stuck where she was stuck.

‘This is the Captain speaking,’ the warm, mellifluous voice had come over the PA. ‘As you all know we are soon to enter Relativity Drive for the jump to our next destination.  However, the onboard systems tell me that we have 1042 minor faults that need to be repaired before we make the jump.  Since we are on a strict schedule, and the engineering teams need to focus on the most complex tasks, I need volunteers to help fix the small stuff.  If you would like to help, and earn a gratitude chit for your assistance, please telpath my office before 0600. Captain out.’

Saya was a good person.  She cared about her job, her ship and her crewmates.  But sadly she hadn’t made a good impression, ever since she joined up four Relativity jumps ago.  She had been hired as a junior systems analyst and assistant, but it had become very clear, very early on that she had lied on her application.  She had basic systems knowledge, gleaned from years spent in salvage yards and on steamer ships doing the intra-system runs, but she had no clue how a Relativity Cruiser worked.  So she had been downgraded to second assistant environmental systems apprentice, lost two-thirds of her pay, been forced to move in to a shared dormitory with 5 other apprentices, and generally got the scummy end of the hydro-mop.

‘TWO MINUTES TO ACTIVATION’ the computer droned.

She had jumped at the chance to show the Captain and crew that she was made of better stuff, and to earn that gratitude chit.  She was already at MINUS 16 gratitude chits (a new ship record) and desperately wanted to break even before she was inevitably thrown off the ship.

And so she had telpathed her request to volunteer, and then she had waited.  And waited, and waited some more.  Eventually the Captain’s office telpathed to say there was one job left, it was on the outside of the ship’s hull and needed next to no skills except the ability to hold on, turn a spanner clockwise and climb back aboard before the jump occurred.

Saya, although scared and worried about a zero-g external excursion, headed for the appointed airlock, got her instructions from the bored and less-than-amiable engineering assistant, climbed into her heavy-work space suit and headed out in to space.  Sadly she banged her helmet on the steel-girdered airlock door, and broke her telpath antennae, thereby missing the engineering assistant’s hurried warning to ‘Stay clipped on to the guide rail’.

Once outside the ship, Saya had worked her way towards the small hatchport that needed 3 of its 4 locking bolts refastened.  She had a small digital heads-up display in her helmet counting down the minutes until the ship would blast in to Relativity Drive and span the vast distance to its next port of call.  She sill had 30 minutes to get the job done and get back inside the ship. ‘No worries, easy as anything,’ she had told herself.  But while confident in her ability to tighten 3 locking bolts in no time at all, she was starting to get concerned as to why she couldn’t hear anything from the ship’s telepathic PA system.  She should have been getting all sorts of messages and updates.  She ran a quick diagnostic on her suit and was dismayed to see that it was damaged.  The telpath comms system was broken.  the onboard diagnostics was able to get the system working in one-direction only. ‘Oh well, its not like they need to hear from me, is it?’ Saya had told herself.

‘ONE MINUTE TO ACTIVATION’ came the voice of the computer

Quite how she had forgotten to attach herself to the guide rail, Saya couldn’t think.  And why she hadn’t remembered that she was using a power-wrench, she really couldn’t say.  But put those two things together, add in the build-up momentum of the ship as it prepped for its Relativity Jump, and you ended up with Saya, gripping on for her life, to the exterior hull of a spaceship, slipping towards the engine mounts and about to be either [a] left behind to float in space until she died of asphyxiation, or [b] fall into the engine mounts just as the Relativity Drive powered up and she was atomised in an instant.

‘Bugger me, bugger me, bugger me! Won’t SOMEONE hear me?  Please, I need help! Don’t fire up the engines. I’m still out here….’ she screamed, gasping for breath, desperate to be heard.  She felt the vibrations in the hull building, her gloved hands slipping.  She screamed once more…

‘Oh come on you bastards, you must know I am here…help!’

The Relativity Drive powered up.

‘Oh bugger,’ she gasped.

(c) Neil Gardner, 2012

Sci-Five Shorties 01 – “The Sound Within”

Did you know I co-present a podcast called SCI-FIVE where we investigate all things SF in approximately 5 mins?  No, well, I do, and it is up to episode 62 already…you should go take a listen:

CLICKY HERE FOR THE PODCAST SITE

Recently we have launched the SCI-FIVE SHORTIES, a series of 4-8 minute new SF themed short stories.  I’ve written a few, and for those interested here is the first one, plus the audio link if you are interested in listening:

“THE SOUND WITHIN” by Neil Gardner

          Inside the space was cavernous, a behemoth of structure, its size close to unfathomable for the untrained mind.  Within the space there seemed to be no height, no width and no breadth.  The space itself appeared limitless, without end…without start.

Outside of the space was darkness.  Inside the space was limitless light. The boundary between the two was at once indistinct and yet as undeniable as the space itself.

Determining the structure of the space, the purpose of the space, the meaning of the space was a daunting task.  Where would you start? And how would you know when you had finished? From where would you begin the task, and where would you conclude it? By what criterion would you attempt to define the space? And to what would you make comparison?

The space was.  The space is. The space is everything.

Yet within the space there was nothing.  No up or down, or left or right.  The space, while illuminated by the fiercest white light, was utterly devoid of anything to see by that light. The space existed, but it was impossible to describe such existence using any explainable distinguishing features.  The space was just…the space.  It existed, therefore it was.

The space from within appeared devoid of function or purpose.  In fact it seemed devoid of anything, except the light, and its own existence. From without the space was an all encompassing light that defined the darkness around it.  The darkness was, because the space was.  One defined and delineated the other.  Without one there might not be the other.  Did the space, therefore, describe the darkness? Or did the darkness inform the space, give it substance and form?

Outside the space was silence.  The darkness said nothing. No sounds emerged, no sounds escaped. The darkness remained inviolate.

Inside the space the nothingness of the light was considered to be the completeness of existence.  Light was the space, and the space was the endless bright, furious light.

And then something extraordinary happened.  From deep within the space, from the very heart of the light, there came a sound. It lived for but a heartbeat of time, and then it was gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.

An eternity of space and light passed.  And just as the sound became a nano-spot of a fragment of the merest suggestion of a memory…it happened again.  This time it lasted for a whole second.  It defined the time of its duration and gave life to speculation.  Was sound going to supplant the light within the space? Did the light create the sound? Why was the sound longer this time?

Before answers could be formulated, the space rang out with the sound once again.  It grew in strength and volume, in amplitude and tone.  The sound ran laughing around every part of the space and back again, seeking the edges of the space and marking the boundaries of its existence.  The light, previously everything within the space, exploded in to a myriad colours, refracting through the lens of the all-encompassing sound.  Together the sound and the spectrum of light burst and fractured and exploded throughout the space.  The space had no time to come to terms with this new experience, as sound and light, sharing and joining and merging and mutating, reached the place where the darkness lived, and with one sudden gasp of momentum…spewed forth from the space into the darkness.

Now the space and the darkness are joined.  A river of sound and light gushes between them.  Space is defined by its birthing of colour and the reflections and echoes of the sound.  The darkness is now no longer entirely dark, and knows the joy of both light and sound.  Slowly, ever so slowly, the space and the darkness are creating something new, something different, something else.  In time there will be no more space, there will be no more darkness.  Then…what will be, will be what has come before, and what will come next, will be a space all of its own.

(c) Neil Gardner, 2012

Newsline – 6th January 2012

Newsline – 6th January 2012.

Mission Report – Introduction to the new Team

Mission Report – Introduction to the new Team.

2011 – A Year In Audiobooks

So, 2011 comes to a close, and as we wave bye bye I thought I would look back at what this year has meant for me as an audiobook producer, editor and publisher.  The most exciting thing was the launch of Ladbroke Audio, with Tanja (my fiance)…a dedicated audiobook production company that seems to be doing great business already. The saddest thing was the death of the lovely Elisabeth Sladen, who I had had the honour of producing several times for SJA audiobooks.  A massive thank you to PAUL KENT & MERILYN HARRIS for stepping in to help produce a few of the titles when I fell ill or was too busy elsewhere.  Also mahoosive thanks to MICHAEL, KATE, JESS, JEN, CLAIRE, EMMA and all the gang at AudioGO for keeping us in employment and being such good friends.  Big thanks to our friends SEB, KAYV, SAM & the gang at SNK Studios, our partners in crime for 99% of all the audios we produce. And a big thanks to the team at Random House Audio for taking a chance on us this year…we look forward to more audio grooviness with you in 2012.

It has been a bumper year for titles, so let’s dive in to the chewiness:

ALL ALIENS LIKE BURGERS by RUTH WHEELER – Read by DEBBIE CHAZEN – UNABRIDGED – Spokenworld Audio

Young, polite and intelligent Tom Bowler has barely ever ventured out of the small English town where he grew up. So when he applies for a job in a fast food restaurant at a “local” service station during his gap year he is rather surprised to discover that the vacancy is in fact based on Truxxe, a planetoid stationed between local galaxies Triangulum and Andromeda. Hes surprised further still to find himself becoming friends with a purple alien and that he has strange feelings for his android supervisor, Miss Lola. Tom soon discovers that Truxxe has many hidden secrets – just what makes it so special? And why is its terrain so rich and varied that it can be used for fuelling such a diverse variety of intergalactic spacecraft? What are the Glorbian space pirate brothers Schlomm and Hannond plotting? And just what is it that they put in those burgers?

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BEHIND THE BLACK DOOR by SARAH BROWN – Read by SARAH BROWN – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio & AudioGO Ltd

Today, Gordon’s words are simple and heartfelt. He promises, as his own school motto said, to do his utmost. I know that the same will go for me, too. We turn to the door, greeting the policeman on duty. It is time to play our part in contributing to what happens next in government and a new life behind the black door.’  In this personal memoir about life at 10 Downing Street, Sarah Brown shares the secrets of living behind the most famous front door in the world. Sarah gave up a successful career in business to serve the country and champion countless charities at home and abroad. A passionate campaigner for women and children, she mobilised hundreds of thousands of people through her early adoption of Twitter where her legion of followers engaged with her on everything from repression in Burma to diversity in British fashion.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to travel with special branch, pack for a photo call with supermodels or pause a speech in front of hundreds when the autocue fails, it’s all here – from what to do when the school play clashes with a visit to the White House to what it feels like to support the man you love as he takes tough decisions to stave off global financial meltdown… Intimate, reflective, surprising and funny, ‘Behind the Black Door’ takes us backstage to reveal what it’s like to be an ordinary woman, wife and mother in extraordinary circumstances.

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DOCTOR WHO: THE GLAMOUR CHASE by GARY RUSSELL – Read by ARTHUR DARVILL – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

An archaeological dig in 1936 unearths relics of another time… And – as the Doctor, Amy and Rory realise – another place. Another planet.  But if Enola Porter, noted adventuress, has really found evidence of an alien civilization, how come she isn’t famous? Added to that, since Amy’s been travelling with him for a while, why does she think the Doctor is from Mars?  As the ancient spaceship reactivates, the Doctor discovers that nothing and no-one can be trusted. The things that seem most real could actually be literal fabrications – and very deadly indeed. Who can the Doctor believe when no one is what they seem? And how can he defeat an enemy who can bend matter itself?

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SEX LIFE by DR PAMELA STEPHENSON CONNOLLY – Read by DR PAMELA STEPHENSON CONNOLLY – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

When did your sexual experiences start? Are you having more virtual sex than real sex? Can you have too much or not enough sex? What exactly is ‘normal’?  Bestselling author and leading sex therapist, Pamela Stephenson-Connolly takes us on an eye-opening journey to explode the myths and answer the embarrassing questions we’ve always wanted to ask about sex and our insatiable appetite for it.  Drawing on hundreds of intimate interviews with ordinary people of all ages, appetites and backgrounds, Stephenson-Connolly reveals how the ever-present sexual force in each of us evolves throughout our lives, from our first months in the womb up right until our nineties. She also shows that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and that anything goes when it comes to sex as long as it is safe, sane and consensual. The result is an intimate portrait of our sexual selves that dispels the myths, guilt and mystery surrounding sex and our sexual urges.  Read by the author with Katherine Fenton, Tania Rich, Simon Shepherd and Bill Wallis. Hugely informative, always entertaining and at times shocking, this is arguably one of the most enlightening books on sex ever published.

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THE CAPTURE OF CERBERUS/THE INCIDENT OF THE DOG’S BALL by AGATHA CHRISTIE – Read by DAVID SUCHET – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Two recently-rediscovered Hercule Poirot short stories by Agatha Christie, read by David Suchet.  In 2004, a remarkable archive was unearthed at Agatha Christie’s family home, Greenway – 73 of her private notebooks, filled with pencilled jottings and ideas. Hidden within this literary treasure trove were two rare, never-before-published short stories, discovered by archivist John Curran and published in his book ‘Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years of Mysteries in the Making’.  ‘The Capture of Cerberus’ was intended to be the twelfth in her collection of Poirot stories, ‘The Labours of Hercules’, but she eventually rewrote it, keeping only the title. In this first, original version, Poirot is holidaying in Geneva, trying to take his mind off the impending war. But a chance meeting with an old acquaintance leads to an investigation involving a Nazi dictator and an enormous hound… ‘The Incident of the Dog’s Ball’, probably written in 1933, was reworked as the novel ‘Dumb Witness’ (1937) with a different murderer and motive. In it, Poirot receives a letter from an elderly lady, written two months before and asking for help. Now she is dead, and Poirot is convinced that her beloved terrier Bob holds the key to her death…

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THE JUST SO STORIES by RUDYARD KIPLING – Read by DAVID WARNER – ABRIDGED – Spokenworld Audio

Have you ever wondered how it is that the moon pulls the tides (instead of a crab who was taller than the smoke of three volcanoes), or the reason why the elephant’s nose is so long? Find out as Rudyard Kipling’s classic children’s stories are brought to vivid life in this enchanting  production first performed at the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh in August 2011. The perfect show for children aged 4+ and for adults of all ages. In this all-new audio adaptation of the smash-hit theatre show, legendary actor DAVID WARNER lends his voice to five of Kipling’s finest fare, while the Red Table Theatre cast perform five of their unique songs from the live show (in all-new recordings made especially for Spokenworld Audio).

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HOPE & GLORY: THE DAYS THAT MADE BRITAIN by STUART MACONIE – Read by STUART MACONIE – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio & AudioGO Ltd

‘These were the days that made us, and these are the day trips to find them. Should we do a flask? And are you sure you’ll be warm enough in that coat?’  In ‘Hope and Glory’ Stuart Maconie goes in search of the places, people and events that have shaped modern Britain. Starting with the death of Queen Victoria, to the Battle of the Somme and the General Strike, and on to the docking of the Empire Windrush and Bobby Moore raising the Jules Rimet trophy, he chooses a defining moment in our nation’s story from each decade of the last century and explores its legacy today.  Some were glorious days, some were tragic, or even shameful, but each has played its part in making us who we are as a nation. From pop stars to politicians, Suffragettes to punks, this is a journey around Britain in search of who we are.

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DAVE GORMAN VS. THE REST OF THE WORLD by DAVE GORMAN – Read by DAVE GORMAN – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio & AudioGO Ltd

Remember when you were a kid, and you used to go round to a friend’s house to see if they were playing? Well, as adults we’re not supposed to do that. Which is a shame… because Dave Gorman likes playing. He REALLY likes games. So he knocked on the biggest door you could ever imagine – the internet – and asked 76,000 people if they fancied a game. This is the story of what happened next.  Dave was up for anything and gamely played them at whatever they chose. He played some classics – Monopoly, Scrabble, dominoes and cribbage. He played many games he’d never heard of before – Khet, Kubb, Tikal or Smite anyone?  He played board games and physical games. He’s thrown sticks, balls, frisbees and darts. He’s rolled dice and he’s drawn cards.  From Liverpool to Hampstead and from Croydon to Nottingham, Dave travelled the length and breadth of Britain meeting strangers in strange places – their homes, at work, in the back rooms of pubs – and getting some hardcore game action. From casual players to serious game geeks, from the rank amateur to the world champion, he discovered a nation of gamers more than happy to welcome him into their midst.  He’s travelled all around the country and met all sorts of people – and it turns out us Brits are a competitive bunch! And it seems that playing games can teach you a lot about what makes the British tick. Of course, Dave hasn’t been keeping score. Much.

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RUSSIA: THE WILD EAST (Part 1 – Eps 1-25) – Written & Presented by MARTIN SIXSMITH – RADIO SERIES – BBC Radio 4 & AudioGO Ltd

The first 25 episodes from the landmark BBC Radio series. Martin Sixsmith brings his firsthand experience of reporting from Russia to this fascinating narrative, witnessing the critical moment when the Soviet Union finally lost its grip on power. Power struggles have a constant presence in his story, from the Mongol hordes that invaded in the 13th century, through the iron autocratic fists of successive Tsars. Ivan the Terrible, Catherine the Great, Peter the Great – all left their mark on a nation that pursued expansion to the East, West and South. Many Tsars flirted with reform, but the gap between the rulers and the ruled widened until, in 1917, the doomed last Tsar, Nicholas II, abdicated. The first part of Sixsmith’s history ends with Lenin and the Bolsheviks forcing through the final Revolution and paving the way for the Communist state. Eyewitness accounts and readings from Russian authors and historians, from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, enhance this fascinating account, as well as music taken from a wide range of Russian composers including Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Borodin and Shostakovich.  Martin Sixsmith traces Russia’s turbulent 1000-year history from its founding to the Revolution.

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DOCTOR WHO: HUNTER’S MOON by PAUL FINCH – Read by ARTHUR DARVILL – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

‘There’s no end to the horror in this place – it’s like Hell, and there are devils round every corner.’  On Leisure Platform 9 gamblers and villains mix with socialites and celebrities. It’s a place where you won’t want to win the wrong game. With Rory kidnapped by a brutal crime lord, the Doctor and Amy infiltrate a deadly contest where fugitives become the hunted. But how long before they realise the Doctor isn’t a vicious mercenary and discover what Amy is up to? It’s a game that can only end in death, and time for everyone is running out. Read by Arthur Darvill, ‘Hunter’s Moon’ features the Doctor, Amy and Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

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DOCTOR WHO: TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL by JONATHAN MORRIS – Read by CLARE CORBETT – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

‘The past is like a foreign country. Nice to visit, but you really wouldn’t want to live there.’  In 2003, Rebecca Whitaker died in a road accident. Her husband Mark is still grieving. He receives a battered envelope, posted eight years ago, containing a set of instructions with a simple message: ‘You can save her.’  As Mark is given the chance to save Rebecca, it’s up to the Doctor, Amy and Rory to save the whole world. Because this time the Weeping Angels are using history itself as a weapon.  Read by Clare Corbett, ‘Touched by an Angel’ features the Doctor, Amy and Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

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DOCTOR WHO: SERPENT CREST – TSAR WARS by PAUL MAGRS – Starring TOM BAKER – FULL CAST – AudioGO Ltd

Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor in the first of five thrilling brand new adventures, with Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey. In a distant galaxy, the Tsar and Tsarina rule over the Robotov Empire from the safety of their palace, whilst human workers tend the power plants on satellite moons.  When the Doctor arrives with Mrs Wibbsey, his identity is immediately mistaken, and the Tsarina believes that her old ally, Father Gregory, has returned. But when the Palace comes under attack, the Tsar suspects him of treachery.  Meanwhile, Mrs Wibbsey discovers that dark secrets are lurking in the shadows of one satellite moon. Far more than mere human rebellion is being planned, and Father Gregory is not operating alone. His actions will set off a chain of events with long-lasting consequences for the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey…

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DOCTOR WHO: SERPENT CREST – THE BROKEN CROWN by PAUL MAGRS – Starring TOM BAKER – FULL CAST – AudioGO Ltd

Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor in the second of five thrilling brand new adventures, with Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey.  The year is 1861, and the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey find themselves in the right place at the wrong time. At the rectory they encounter the ill-tempered Reverend Dobbs and his young ward Andrew, whose paper faces hide whatever horrors lie beneath. Tutoring him is one Mr Bewley, whom Mrs Wibbsey is startled to recognise.  In Hexford Woods, the Doctor uncovers a secret which Andrew and his friends have been keeping. As the truth begins to emerge about the rectory’s occupants, it also becomes clear why so many people have disappeared from the village. Unless the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey can help, the whole village will soon be terrorised by a child’s imagination…

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DOCTOR WHO: SERPENT CREST – ALADDIN TIME by PAUL MAGRS – Starring TOM BAKER – FULL CAST – AudioGO Ltd

Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor in the third of five thrilling brand new adventures, with Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey.  Trapped underground, the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey encounter a small boy who claims to be Aladdin, in search of a fabled lamp. He joins them on their own quest, to find a power source in this weird domain and switch it off.  Many obstacles lie in their way. Vast rooms stuffed with exotic items give way to torch-lit tunnels and deadly precipices. Creatures of mythical proportions lie in wait. Peculiar atmospheres take their toll on them. Perhaps strangest of all, the Doctor’s multi-coloured scarf appears to take on a life of its own…  As friends are separated and uneasy alliances are formed, the strange environment attempts to claim them. Will the Doctor and Mrs Wibbsey ever get back to Hexford? And will Aladdin discover who he really is?

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DOCTOR WHO: SERPENT CREST – THE HEXFORD INVASION by PAUL MAGRS – Starring TOM BAKER – FULL CAST – AudioGO Ltd

Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor in the fourth of five thrilling brand new adventures, with Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates, and David Troughton as the Visitor.  It’s been many months since the Doctor was in Hexford, and Mrs Wibbsey keenly feels his absence. As her grave suspicions about her new neighbour grow, she is in danger of becoming ostracised from village life. When Mike Yates turns up at Nest Cottage with a visitor in tow, Mrs Wibbsey’s life is turned even further upside down. Why has this strange new fellow appeared – and can he really be who Mike thinks he is?  With UNIT watching the skies, and a strange forest growing daily around the village perimeter, it comes as little surprise when an enormous spaceship slides into view and dominates the skyline. Who is watching Hexford, and what do they want? Never has Mrs Wibbsey needed the Doctor more. But can she cope with two…?

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DOCTOR WHO: SERPENT CREST – SURVIVORS IN SPACE by PAUL MAGRS – Starring TOM BAKER – FULL CAST – AudioGO Ltd

Tom Baker stars as the Fourth Doctor in the fifth of five thrilling brand new adventures, with Susan Jameson as Mrs Wibbsey, Richard Franklin as Mike Yates, and David Troughton as the Visitor.  It has been three months since the Hexford catastrophe, and Mike Yates is trying to show strength of leadership to the villagers. But with morale low and supplies running out, it is increasingly difficult to keep his own hopes up. Unless somebody finds them soon, the future looks bleak.  So when the TARDIS materialises on the village green, it seems that help has arrived at last. But with two Doctors apparently at large, there is still the small matter of what was buried under Nest Cottage – not to mention who is clamouring to break through the protective force field. Soon Hexford is under siege once again, and this time an ancient hunger will be sated. Time has run out for the keepers of the Skishtari egg…

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RUSSIA: THE WILD EAST (Part 2 – Eps 26-50) – Written & Presented by MARTIN SIXSMITH – RADIO SERIES – BBC Radio 4 & AudioGO Ltd

Martin Sixsmith continues his history of Russia, from the tumultuous events of 1917 to the country’s re-emergence as one of the world’s most powerful nations.  After the whirlwind of the revolution, the Bolsheviks struggled to consolidate their victory. To rescue the economy and save the regime, Lenin made concessions to the people. But after his death, Stalin introduced forced collectivisation and industrialisation, condemning the Soviet people to conditions worse than those experienced under the Tsars. Nikita Khrushchev reversed the worst excesses of Stalinism, and in 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on radical reforms of the communist system – unleashing unforeseen consequences that swept him from power and destroyed the USSR.  Martin Sixsmith brings his firsthand experience of reporting from Russia in the 1980s and ‘90s to his narrative, witnessing the critical moment when the Soviet Union lost its grip on power. He asks if the recurring patterns of Russian history can help us understand what has happened since 1991, when the promise of Western-style democracy aroused so many hopes for change.  Eyewitness accounts, archive recordings and personal testimony enrich his narrative, as well as readings from Russian authors and historians such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Vasily Grossman, plus music by Stravinsky, Prokofiev and others.  The final 25 episodes from the landmark BBC Radio series.

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THINGS I COULDN’T TELL MY MOTHER by SUE JOHNSTON – Read by SUE JOHNSTON – UNABRIDGED – Random House AUdio & AudioGO Ltd

‘There was a lot that we kept from my mother. My dad would say to me as a teenager “Don’t tell your mother.” We couldn’t face the disapproval.’  Sue Johnston always seemed to be disappointing her mother. As a girl she never stayed clean and tidy like her cousins. As she grew older, she spent all her piano lesson money on drinks for her mates down the pub, and when she discovered the Cavern she was never at home. The final straw was when Sue left her steady job at a St Helens factory to try her hand at that unsteadiest of jobs: acting.  Yet when Sue was bringing up her own child alone, her mother was always there to help. And playing her much-loved characters Sheila Grant and Barbara Royle – although her mum wouldn’t say she was proud as such, she certainly seemed to approve. And in her mother’s final months, it was Sue she needed by her side.  The relationship with your mother is perhaps the most precious and fraught of any woman’s life. When she began writing, Sue set out to record ‘all the big things, and all the small things. Everything I wanted to tell my mother but felt I never could’. The result is a warm, poignant and often very funny memoir by one of Britain’s favourite actresses.

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THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE MULTIPLEX by MARK KERMODE – Read by MARK KERMODE – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio

In It’s Only a Movie, the incomparable Mark Kermode showed us the weird world of a film critic’s life lived in widescreen. Now, in The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex, he takes us into the belly of the beast to ask: ‘What’s wrong with modern movies?’  If blockbusters make money no matter how bad they are, then why not make a good one for a change? How can 3-D be the future of cinema when it’s been giving audiences a headache for over a hundred years? Why pay to watch films in cinemas that don’t have a projectionist but do have a fast-food stand? And, in a world in which Sex and the City 2 was a hit, what the hell are film critics for?  Outspoken, opinionated and hilariously funny, The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is a must for anyone who has ever sat in an undermanned, overpriced cinema and asked themselves: ‘How the hell did things get to be this terrible?’

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DOCTOR WHO: PARADOX LOST by GEORGE MANN – Read by NICHOLAS BRIGGS – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

‘The Squall feed on psychic energy. They spread like a plague and if they are not stopped they will strip the Earth clean…’  London 1910: an unsuspecting thief finds himself confronted by grey-skinned creatures that are waiting to devour his mind. London 2789: the remains of an ancient android are dredged from the Thames. When reactivated it has a warning that can only be delivered to a man named ‘the Doctor’.  The Doctor and his friends must solve a mystery that has spanned over a thousand years. If they fail, the deadly alien Squall will devour the world…  Read by Nicholas Briggs, this is a thrilling adventure featuring the Doctor, Amy and Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

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DOCTOR WHO: BORROWED TIME by NAOMI A ALDERMAN – Read by MEERA SYAL – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

‘You want more time Mr Brown, of course you do. We all want more time. Let me make you an offer…’  Andrew Brown never has enough time. No time to call his sister, or to prepare for that important presentation at the bank where he works. The train’s late, the lift jams. If only he’d had just a little more time. And time is the business of Mr Symington and Mr Blenkinsop. They’ll lend him some – at a very reasonable rate of interest.  Detecting a problem, the Doctor, Amy and Rory go undercover at the bank. But they have to move fast to stop Symington and Blenkinsop before they cash in their investments.  Read by Meera Syal, this is a thrilling all-new adventure featuring the Doctor, Amy and Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

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SAPPHIRE BATTERSEA by JACQUELINE WILSON – Read by FINTY WILLIAMS – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Finty Williams reads this warm, funny and moving sequel to Jacqueline Wilson’s hugely acclaimed ‘Hetty Feather’.  Hetty Feather was given her name when she was left at the Foundling Hospital as a baby. But she always longed to be named after her incredible sapphire-blue eyes. When she is reunited with her mother, she hopes her new name, Sapphire Battersea, will also mean a new life. But things don’t always go as planned…  Follow the twists and turns of Hetty’s adventures as she begins work.  She longs to be reunited with her dear Jem, but also finds a new friend, Bertie the butcher’s boy. Despite her hopes for the future, Hetty’s life seems likely to take a darker path. Can she cope with the trials ahead?  A fantastic story set in Victorian times that Jacqueline Wilson fans will adore.

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THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH by HP LOVECRAFT – Read by RICHARD COYLE – ABRIDGED/RADIO SERIES – BBC Radio 4 Extra & Spokenworld Audio

The perfect HP Lovecraft title to follow on from 2010′s “At The Mountains Of Madness”, and the only HPL title not to appear in a periodical! Perfect also because it is split in to 5 distinct chapters…ripe for abridgement in to five half hour episodes! “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” tells the first-person story of a young historian, Robert Olmstead, who, while investigating his family genealogy in New England, is intrigued to learn about a hated and mysterious fishing-town called Innsmouth. When he visits he finds the place to be run-down and near-deserted, with a cult-like religion and a strange, degenerate population. His investigation soon turns in to a race to escape the town and the the evil creatures he sees emerging from the sea.  “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” was written by HP Lovecraft in 1931 and is the only one of his works of fiction not to have initially been published as part of a periodical. It continues HPL’s Cthulhu Mythos, featuring townspeople worshipping the elder sea god Dagon and mentioning the mysterious Shoggoth creature of his other works. This 2011 adaptation comprises 5 episodes, originally aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra, once again read by the superb RICHARD COYLE and featuring music by acclaimed composer JON NICHOLLS. The series is offered here in exclusive EXTENDED EDITIONS. You will find an additional 30 mins of mystery-filled audio within these five episodes!

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DARK MARKET by MISHA GLENNY – Read by MISHA GLENNY – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio & AudioGO Ltd

The benefits of living in a digital, globalised society are enormous; so too are the dangers.  The world has become a law enforcer’s nightmare and every criminal’s dream. We bank online, shop online, date, learn, work and live online. But have the institutions that keep us safe on the streets learned to protect us in the burgeoning digital world? Have we become complacent about our personal security – sharing our thoughts, beliefs and the details of our daily lives with anyone who cares to relieve us of them?  In this fascinating and compelling book, Misha Glenny, author of the international bestseller ‘McMafia’, explores the three fundamental threats facing us in the 21st century: cyber crime, cyber warfare and cyber industrial espionage. Governments and the private sector are losing billions of dollars each year, fighting an ever-morphing, often invisible, often super-smart new breed of criminal: the hacker.  Glenny has travelled and trawled the world. And by exploring the rise and fall of the criminal website DarkMarket, he has uncovered the most vivid, alarming and illuminating stories. Whether JiLsi or Matrix, Iceman, Master Splynter or Lord Cyric; whether Detective Sergeant Chris Dawson in Scunthorpe or Agent Keith Mularski in Pittsburgh, Glenny has tracked down and interviewed all the players – the criminals, the geeks, the police, the security experts and the victims – and he places everyone and everything in a rich brew of politics, economics and history.  The result is simply totally absorbing. DarkMarket is authoritative and completely engrossing. It’s a must-have for everyone who uses a computer: the essential crime guide for our times.

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DIARY OF A DOG WALKER by EDWARD STOURTON – Read by EDWARD STOURTON – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Edward Stourton’s columns, recording his regular excursions with Kudu, the Springer spaniel, appeared fortnightly in the Telegraph from May 2009 until September 2010. They form the basis for this witty, charming and revealing book of canine musings. Ed’s focus might momentarily seem trivial, but his canvas proves to be immeasurably wide. Kudu’s small trips to the park offer big insights into romantic attachment, warfare, guilt and depression, honour and heroism, our sense of duty, beauty and the hard facts of life’s pecking order.

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MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE? by JAMES CORDON – Read by JAMES CORDON – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio

As far back as he can remember James Corden has only ever wanted to be in one place: in front of you, doing something to make you laugh, cry, shout, or giggle uncontrollably. At the age of 4, he grandstanded throughout his baby sister’s christening, standing on a chair in front of the whole congregation, pulling faces and cracking everyone up. Despite himself, the vicar was impressed. And from then on he couldn’t get enough of the spotlight, even when it always seemed to avoid him. Throughout his teens, he and his Dad trudged up and down towards London, getting closer and closer to landing a gig, only to be told ‘No’ at the last stage. But he never gave up and soon found his whole life turned upside down and inside out by his experience as one Alan Bennett’s History Boys. From that moment forth, he’s never looked back.  May I Have Your Attention Please? is the warm, cheeky, surprisingly honest and hilarious story of one of our most popular comedy talents. From his antics as one of the founding players of his high-school’s first ever rugby team to gaining recognition in the West End, to nationwide fame as the loveably loud Smithy in the award-winning Gavin and Stacey, this is a tenderly told story of what it’s like to try, try and try again and – happily – get there in the end.

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BRUNG UP PROPER by JASON MANFORD – Read by JASON MANFORD – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio

Jason Manford is firmly established as one of the country’s favourite stand-ups and is up there with the best northern comedy legends. His career began one night in a pub in Chorlton when a comedian didn’t arrive for his set and Jason, the 17-year-old glass collector stepped in to fill the gap. From that point on he’s never looked back, until now that is….  This is the story in his own words of everything that lead up to that fateful moment – a colourful tale of growing up with lots of family and not enough money, of getting by and sticking together. It is a story of his shameless extended clan of wayward uncles and singing nans and a gobby little knobhead at the heart of it all called Jason. Featuring rock-hard great granddads, doting grandparents, pub-crooning nanas, football-mad dads, pet-obsessed mums, more dodgy uncles than you can shake a stick at, failed exams, dead-end jobs, paper rounds, prostitutes, shocked priests, manslaughter, winning goals, sudden losses, replica shirts, chip-fat incidents, scary pubs, pet meat, fighting Gandhis, cancelled Christmases, Sir Oswald Mosley, flooded tents, call centres, circumcision, puppy love, friends for life, difficult girlfriends, gigs from hell, heart break and, finally, true love….  With his laugh-out-loud tales of coming of age, Jason shows he’s a generous storyteller and as natural an observer as he is on stage.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AMAZON/AUDIBLE

THE TALES OF MAX CARRADOS by ERNEST BRAMAH – Read by ARTHUR DARVILL – ABRIDGED/RADIO SERIES – BBC Radio 4 Extra & Spokenworld Audio

The tales of Max Carrados lie squarely in the classic English detective tradition, told in plain though polished prose. Max is an omniscient blind amateur detective with a wry sense of humour. Arthur Darvill reads five of his brings five of his finest adventures to life.  Max Carrados featured in a series of mystery books that first appeared in 1914. Carrados featured alongside Sherlock Holmes in the “Strand” magazine in which they both had top billing. The character often boasted how being blind meant his other senses were heightened. The author Ernest Bramah excelled in his detailed writing and uncovering of clues. The beneficiary of a large inheritance from an American relative, Carrados is foremost a gentleman who undertakes sleuthing only as an avocation. Though equipped with a keen observer in the perfect manservant Parkinson, the blind Carrados does not merely sit around deducing: he makes his own observations with ears, nose and fingertips. Carrados makes a point of noticing what others don’t, in his case precisely because, as he says, “I have no blundering, self-confident eyes to be hoodwinked.” Instead he uses careful deduction, his four other senses, and the well-trained eye of his manservant. Carrados’ friend Carlyle, a private investigator, serves as his Watson – he is just dense enough to require an explanation of how Carrados has solved each crime. Ellery Queen calls this first volume of his adventures, “One of the ten best volumes of detective shorts ever written!

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM SPOKENWORLD AUDIO

DOCTOR WHO: THE STEALERS OF DREAMS by STEVE LYONS – Read by CAMILLE CODURI – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

In the far future, the Doctor, Rose and Captain Jack find a world on which fiction has been outlawed. A world where it’s a crime to tell stories, a crime to lie, a crime to hope, and a crime to dream.  But now somebody is challenging the status quo. A pirate TV station urges people to fight back. And the Doctor wants to help until he sees how easily dreams can turn into nightmares.  With one of his companions stalked by shadows and the other committed to an asylum, the Doctor is forced to admit that fiction can be dangerous after all. Though perhaps it is not as deadly as the truth.  Read by Camille Coduri, this is a gripping adventure featuring the Ninth Doctor as played by Christopher Eccleston, together with Rose and Captain Jack as played by Billie Piper and John Barrowman in the hit series from BBC Television.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

TORCHWOOD: LONG TIME DEAD by SARAH PINBOROUGH – Read by INDIRA VARMA – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Indira Varma reads this thrilling Torchwood adventure – a prequel to ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’.  Cardiff Bay. The government has ordered the excavation of the wreckage of a secret underground base. DCI Tom Cutler is watching from a distance, fascinated by the process. There are people in his dreams. People he feels he should know.  The disbanded Torchwood Institute spent a century accumulating non-terrestrial artefacts and catching aliens. Who knows what – or who – might still be intact down there. But by the time they find the first body, Suzie Costello is long gone.  Based on the hit series created by Russell T. Davies, ‘Long Time Dead’ is a prequel to ‘Torchwood: Miracle Day’, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles as Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper. It features Suzie Costello, as played by Indira Varma.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

DOCTOR WHO: THE SILENT STARS GO BY by DAN ABNETT – Read by MICHAEL MALONEY – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Michael Maloney reads this original adventure by Dan Abnett, featuring the Eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory.  For centuries the Maintainers have worked. With no help from other worlds, they subsist on the food they can grow and that’s little enough. But their purpose, their whole life, is to maintain the machines that will one day make their world as habitable as old Earth. Life used to be hard. Now as crops fail, livestock sicken, and the temperature drops, it’s becoming impossible. This year’s Winter Season Feast won’t be the usual celebration. It’s no time for optimism or hope – or to welcome unexpected guests. The Doctor, Amy and Rory find a society breaking apart – and then the Doctor’s old enemies the Ice Warriors make their move. With the cold-hearted threat of invasion, the real battle for survival begins. Or does it? The Doctor suspects that behind everything lies a deadlier, even more chilling danger…  A thrilling adventure featuring the Doctor, Amy and Rory, as played by Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill in the spectacular hit series from BBC Television.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

ELISABETH SLADEN: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY by ELISABETH SLADEN – Read by CAROLINE JOHN – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Caroline John reads the captivating autobiography of Elisabeth Sladen, with a foreword by David Tennant and a postscript by Brian and Sadie Miller.  When Elisabeth Sladen first appeared as plucky journalist Sarah Jane Smith in the 1973 ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Time Warrior’, little did she know her character would become one of the most enduring of the series’ long history, and one of the all-time favourite companions. She left the TARDIS in 1976, but reprised the role of Sarah Jane many times, as well as touring the world of ‘Doctor Who’ fandom. So when Russell T. Davies approached her to star in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’, how could she refuse? This warm, witty autobiography, completed only months before Elisabeth died in April 2011, tells her remarkable story, from humble beginnings in post-war Liverpool, through an acclaimed theatrical career, to ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em’ and the furthest reaches of the Universe. A unique, insider’s view of the world’s longest-running sci-fi series, Elisabeth’s memoir is funny, insightful and entertaining and a fitting tribute to a woman who will be sadly missed by millions. Caroline John, actress and friend of Elisabeth Sladen, played companion Liz Shaw in ‘Doctor Who’. David Tennant was the Tenth Doctor in the hit BBC TV series. Brian and Sadie Miller are Elisabeth Sladen’s husband and daughter.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

DEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY by PD JAMES – Read by SHEILA MITCHELL – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

P. D. James masterfully recreates the world of Pride and Prejudice, and combines it with the excitement and suspense of a brilliantly-crafted crime story.  The year is 1803, and Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for six years. There are now two handsome and healthy sons in the nursery, Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and her husband Bingley live nearby, and the orderly world of Pemberley seems unassailable. But all this is threatened when, on the eve of the annual autumn ball while the guests are preparing to retire for the night, a chaise appears, rocking down the path from Pemberley’s wild woodland. As it pulls up, Lydia Wickham – Elizabeth’s younger, unreliable sister – stumbles out screaming that her husband has been murdered.  Death Comes to Pemberley – inspired by P. D. James’s lifelong passion for the work of Jane Austen – is a distinguished work of fiction from one of the best-loved and most-read writers of our time.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

DOCTOR WHO: EARTHSHOCK by IAN MARTER – Read by PETER DAVISON – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Peter Davison reads this exciting novelisation of a classic Doctor Who adventure in which the Fifth Doctor encounters the Cybermen.  A group of palaeontologists have been savagely attacked while carrying out a study of fossilised dinosaur remains in an underground cave system on twenty-fifth century Earth.  A party of troopers and Professor Kyle, the only survivor of the attack, are investigating the deaths of her colleagues when they discover the Doctor and his companions at the site of the massacre. The time-travellers are immediately suspected. In trying to establish their innocence and find out who – or what – was responsible for the killings, the Doctor is confronted by an old enemy…  The Fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison, reads Ian Marter’s complete and unabridged novelisation, first published by Target Books in 1983, whilst Nicholas Briggs provides the authentic voice of the Cybermen.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

DOCTOR WHO – By MARK MORRIS – Details TBC – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Only just finished this one, so there are no details to share with you just yet.  But I can tell you that it is an exclusive 1 hr audio adventure, read by one of the stars of the 2011 DW Xmas Special!

COMING SOON

SPIRAL by RODERICK GORDON – Read by PAUL CHEQUER – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

The Styx have surfaced… If you thought the Limiters were nasty, think again. This time it’s their females that provide the creepiest surprise. And all that stands in their way are Will and his friends – and a rag-bag team of retired commandos. It’s a smoking spiral of chaos…  The fifth fantastic adventure in the ‘Tunnels’ series for older children, from acclaimed authors Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. Read by Paul Chequer.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

WHY BE HAPPY WHEN YOU COULD BE NORMAL? by JEANETTE WINTERSON – Read by JEANETTE WINTERSON – UNABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

The shocking, heart-breaking – and often very funny – true story behind Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.  

`Vivid, unpredictable, and sometimes mind-rattling memoir… This book… which had been funny enough to make me laugh out loud more times than is advisable on the No 12 bus – turns into something raw and unnerving’ —-Julie Myerson, the Observer

`This is certainly the most moving book of Winterson’s I have ever read… but it wriggles with humour… At one point I was crying so much I had tears in my ears. There is much here that is impressive, but what I find most unusual about it is the way it deepens one’s sympathy, for everyone involved’ —-Zoe Williams, the Guardian

`In the 26 years since the publication of her highly acclaimed first novel, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Jeanette Winterson has proved herself a writer of startling invention, originality and style. Her combination of the magical and the earthy, the rapturous and the matter-of-fact, is unique. It is a strange and felicitous gift, as if the best of Gabriel Garcia Marquez was combined with the best of Alan Bennett… This remarkable account is, among other things, a powerful argument for reading… This memoir is brave and beautiful, a testament to the forces of intelligence, heart and imagination. It is a marvellous book and generous one’ —-Cressida Connolly, the Speactator

`Both inspiring and appalling, its cruellest details only made digestible by the restrained elegance of Winterson’s prose’ —-Fiona Sturges, Independent on Sunday

COMING SOON

THE BEE-MAN OF ORN & OTHER FANCIFUL TALES by FRANK R STOCKTON – Read by NEIL GARDNER – UNABRIDGED – Spokenworld Audio

A series of 9 fantastical tales from Frank R Stockton, including “The Bee-Man of Orn”, “Old Pipes & The Dryad”, “The Griffin & The Minor Cannon” and “Christmas Before Last”.  Released weekly over 9 weeks to build up a complete collection.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM SPOKENWORLD AUDIO

THE CHIMP PARADOX by DR STEVE PETERS – Read by DR STEVE PETERS – UNABRIDGED – Random House Audio & AudioGO Ltd

Personal development book by Dr Steve Peters, the British Cycling team’s psychiatrist, in which he shares his phenomenal mind management programme for the first time.  Do you sometimes behave irrationally or impulsively? Do you face some situations with fear and trepidation? Do feelings of self-doubt consume everyday activities?  Leading Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Steve Peters, knows more than anyone how impulsive behaviour or nagging self-doubt can impact negatively on our professional and personal lives.  In this, his first book, Steve shares his phenomenally successful mind management programme that has been used to help elite athletes and senior managers alike to conquer their fears and operate with greater control, focus and confidence.  Seemingly complex concepts are made simple with the use of memorable analogies — such as the ‘chimp’, that seemingly irrational and impulsive being that inhabits our minds — and real-life case studies. Never before will you have had such a deep and clear understanding of your own behaviour and natural responses to certain people or situations.  This knowledge, combined with simple techniques that can be easily incorporated into daily life, will help you to control your emotional impulses and reach your full potential, leading to success at work and a happier, harmonious home life.

COMING SOON

WHAT KATY DID by SUSAN COOLIDGE – Read by LORELEI KING – ABRIDGED – AudioGO Ltd

Gangly, quick-tempered Katy always means to be beautiful and beloved and as good as an angel one day, but meanwhile her resolutions somehow get forgotten or go horribly wrong. Until, one terrible day, the swing breaks… But it is still a long, eventful time before Katy learns to be as loving and patient as her beautiful, invalid Cousin Helen.

COMING SOON

JAPANESE FAIRY WORLD: STORIES FROM THE WONDER-LORE OF JAPAN – Read by VARIOUS – UNABRIDGED/CHARITY – Spokenworld Audio

The recent devastation in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami has shocked the world. We at Spokenworld Audio, alongside our friends and partners at Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd are unashamed Japon-ophiles…we just love the place, the people and the culture. We have some great friends in Japan, and we felt it was important that we do what we could to help out.  JAPANESE FAIRY WORLD, STORIES FROM THE WONDER-LORE OF JAPAN has been produced by Neil Gardner at Ladbroke Productions in just a few days, with the incredible kind help and talents of many of the UK and US’s finest Voice Over artists. With beautiful music donated by Jon Nicholls and Seb & Kayvan at SNK Music (and additional music from AKM Music). Within you will find 25 short-stories from the rich heritage of Japanese folk-tales. From demons and gods, to the creation of the Earth and the naming of mountains.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM SPOKENWORLD AUDIO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: MARGARET THATCHER – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

In interviews ranging from 1975 to 1990, Margaret Thatcher talks about being a woman in politics; managing men and women; her response to the media attacks she received in the early days of her career, and the importance of wearing the right clothes. She also recalls her memories of home, including working in her father’s grocery shop; the radio and TV programmes she enjoyed (including ‘The Two Ronnies’) and following sports like cricket and tennis. Also mentioned are the time she met her husband Denis; her worries about her son Mark when he went missing in the Sahara desert; her interest in science, and her love of porcelain and sculpture. Lastly, she discusses her stamina and her worst moment as Prime Minister (during the Falklands War). BBC Archive Voices: shining a light on the icons of our time. BBC Archive Voices features interviews with some of the key figures from the fields of entertainment, sport, politics and literature – many of which haven’t been heard since their original transmission. This is a unique window into the past and is a chance for us to hear those who contributed to the richness of our cultural heritage. With access to the entire archive of BBC Radio and television, we can now witness some of the most lively, entertaining and informative encounters in BBC broadcasting. Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: NOEL COWARD – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

In interviews ranging from 1960 to 1972, Noël Coward talks about being a legend; whether he is a cynical writer; his early days in acting and about his early reputation for upsetting fellow actors on stage. He also discusses acting with Laurence Olivier; his affection for the Navy; his film-making; his knighthood, and writing ‘Private Lives’ for his friend Gertrude Lawrence. BBC Archive Voices: shining a light on the icons of our time. BBC Archive Voices features interviews with some of the key figures from the fields of entertainment, sport, politics and literature – many of which haven’t been heard since their original transmission. This is a unique window into the past and is a chance for us to hear those who contributed to the richness of our cultural heritage. With access to the entire archive of BBC Radio and television, we can now witness some of the most lively, entertaining and informative encounters in BBC broadcasting. Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: TERENCE RATTIGAN – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

This fascinating collection of archive interviews with the acclaimed playwright, whose centenary was celebrated in 2011, begins in 1969 with a radio appearance on Out This Week. It culminates with an interview for Kaleidoscope in 1977, recorded a few months before his death. Inbetween are several major radio features on Rattigan’s life and work, in which he discusses the craft of playwriting, the state of commercial theatre, comparisons with Coward and Pinter, his famous ‘everywoman’ character Aunt Edna, and several of his plays in detail including Flare Path, Cause Celebre, French Without Tears, The Winslow Boy and The Deep Blue Sea.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: ROALD DAHL – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

In interviews ranging from 1972 to 1989, Roald Dahl talks about writing for children; his medical inventions to aid his ailing son and wife (the actress Patricia Neal) when they were seriously ill, and writing his short stories. He also covers his school days; military service; writing for films (including ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’) and the link between cruelty and laughter. BBC Archive Voices: shining a light on the icons of our time. BBC Archive Voices features interviews with some of the key figures from the fields of entertainment, sport, politics and literature – many of which haven’t been heard since their original transmission. This is a unique window into the past and is a chance for us to hear those who contributed to the richness of our cultural heritage. With access to the entire archive of BBC Radio and television, we can now witness some of the most lively, entertaining and informative encounters in BBC broadcasting. Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: GLENDA JACKSON – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

This fascinating collection of archive interviews with the renowned actress and MP begins with a radio interview in 1970 and runs through to a guest appearance on Desert Island Discs in 1997. Along the way Glenda Jackson appears on numerous programmes including Parkinson, In The Psychiatrist’s Chair and Start the Week, during the course of which she discusses her background and early years, women in theatre, and her journey from being a highly successful actress to becoming a Member of Parliament (and Minister of Transport). In A Chance to Meet… and In The Hot Seat she faces the questions of an invited audience and discusses a wide range of topics.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: ALFRED HITCHCOCK – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

In interviews ranging from 1955 to 1980, Alfred Hitchcock talks about the time he was locked in a police cell when he was a child and being typecast as a director of thrillers. He also discusses his early films; the advent of ‘talkies’; planning ‘Psycho’; American audiences; cinema techniques; horror films, and the influence of real crimes. He considers the difference between making films in America and Britain; the importance of lighting; his female leads, and being a practical joker. As well as critics, he also touches on avoiding clichés; murder in film; film editing and music; ‘The Birds’; the star factor in actors, and making comedies. BBC Archive Voices: shining a light on the icons of our time. Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary. BBC Archive Voices features interviews with some of the key figures from the fields of entertainment, sport, politics and literature – many of which haven’t been heard since their original transmission. This is a unique window into the past and is a chance for us to hear those who contributed to the richness of our cultural heritage. With access to the entire archive of BBC Radio and television, we can now witness some of the most lively, entertaining and informative encounters in BBC broadcasting.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

BBC ARCHIVE VOICES: BRIAN CLOUGH – ARCHIVE AUDIO SERIES – AudioGO Ltd

In interviews ranging from 1972 to 2000, Brian Clough talks about ‘the real Brian Clough’ – how he is perceived by other people; his bluntness and forceful opinions, and what makes him a good football manager. He also discusses the prospect of becoming an MP; his dream job; football hysteria and hooliganism; his childhood and mother’s death; and being imitated by Mike Yarwood. He considers what people may say about him after his death; buying football players and having managerial ability, as well as sport on TV; leaving Nottingham Forest, and his very public falling out with Peter Taylor. BBC Archive Voices: shining a light on the icons of our time. BBC Archive Voices features interviews with some of the key figures from the fields of entertainment, sport, politics and literature – many of which haven’t been heard since their original transmission. This is a unique window into the past and is a chance for us to hear those who contributed to the richness of our cultural heritage. With access to the entire archive of BBC Radio and television, we can now witness some of the most lively, entertaining and informative encounters in BBC broadcasting. Due to the age and nature of this archive material, the sound quality may vary.

CLICK HERE TO BUY DIRECT FROM AUDIOGO

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It was also a pretty big year for my radio production company, Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd…but to list all those programmes would make this the world’s longest blog post ever!  Suffice to say, I am extremely proud of the international awards we won for some of our programmes, grateful to all of the producers, presenters, writers, actors and others who helped make another fine year of radio entertainment.  Huzzah!

2012 brings with it several new audiobooks already, plus a whole heap of new Archive Voices projects.  On the radio front we have over 10 new progs and series in the pipeline.  Over at Spokenworld Audio we are looking forward to a rebuild of the back-end of the online store, a massive increase in titles (fingers crossed for a tidy wee deal with our chums at AudioGO) and some very exciting new audiobook titles from our own production stable.

And my 2012 New Year resolution – reply to emails faster and get the businesses sleeker and more profitable.  Hire talented people and friends and grow the businesses.  Have fun and be creative.

And my 2012 wish – to get to produce and/or edit audios for Big Finish.  Nick and I have talked about it, so I just need to make it happen…fingers crossed!

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ONE AND ALL…and thanks for continuing to support, RT and share our audio work.  Now get out there and buy some of it too ;-)

Neil Gardner & Tanja Glittenberg (& the audio-editing kitty-cats), Dec 31st 2011

Bargain Basement Time

It is Neil’s Bargain Basement Time…that’s right, I have a few things to get rid of and they could be yours for VERY SILLY MONEY indeed!  There is but one rule to this game:

You MUST be able to come to Croydon, or arrange for delivery pickup from Croydon – these items are large, heavy and very tough to post!

OK, here goes:

THE WEST WING – ALL 7 SEASONS ON REGION 2 DVD (BOXSETS…NOT THE NEWER ALL-IN-ONE BOXSET)

The greatest TV show ever, bar none…well, that’s my opinion!  I’ve recently got the all-in-one WW boxset so no longer need my original season boxsets.  All 7 seasons are here, every DVD works and all are in good condition.  This is a great chance to get the whole wonderful WW experience in one hit.

Value – £70-100

ASKING PRICE – £25 + cost of delivery/pickup

 

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SOLD SOLD SOLD! – SEALY SYMPHONY MATTRESS – SOLD SOLD SOLD!

Size – Double (190cm long / 135cm wide / 22cm high)

Micro quilted mattress Posturetech springs to provide support A pressure relief inlay. POSTUREPEDIC.

Condition – AS NEW – slept on ONCE but was too small for us (we then bought a SUPERKING…oh, the wonder of it!) – comes with mattress protector

Age – 3 weeks old!

Value – £600+

Link to reviews by other owners - http://reviews.dreams.co.uk/5643-en_gb/113-00218/reviews.htm

ASKING PRICE – £200 O.N.O. + cost of delivery/pickup

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SOLD SOLD SOLD! – LG 50PS-3000 – 50″ Flat Screen Plasma FULL HD TV – SOLD SOLD SOLD!

Size – 50 inch plasma display

Age – 18 months old

Condition – As close to new as you could ever hope for.  This TV is in pristine condition, no scratches or marks, no screen burn or other damage.  Has been used daily and has a stunning FULL 1080p HD capability.  Works superbly with games consoles and Blu Ray players.  Has 3 HDMI inputs, plus 2 Scarts, FREEVIEW digital tuner and USB & PCMCIA card slots.  I have loved this TV and am only selling it as I just got a 3D version from the Best Buy closing down sale.

Link to product info page - http://www.lg.com/uk/tv-audio-video/televisions/LG-plasma-tv-50PS3000.jsp

Value – £699

ASKING PRICE – £200 O.N.O. + cost of delivery/pickup

NB We have boxed the TV up in the newer 3D TV box, so it is safe and easier to transport.  Would fit in back of a car with the seats down.

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So…there it is, BARGAIN BASEMENT is at an end.  If you are interested in any, or all of the above, drop me a line by email (CLICK HERE) or via Twitter (@HokusBloke) or Facebook (CLICK HERE)

8 Years On – F.A.S.T.

It was 8 years ago today that my best friend of 16 years, Pete Barnes, tragically died of a stroke.  He was aged just 30, in great health and no one saw it coming.  I’ve written many times of how important he was to me, what a massive hole his passing left in me, and how the pain and loss have never lessened or left me.  I still miss him every day and I still feel intense guilt over the whole affair.  Yet, as I have said many times, since he left us, he has in one way or another inspired me to greater things and remains my best friend, constant companion and wisest advisor.

This year I wanted to mark the 8th anniversary of his death with some bare facts…because strokes can affect anyone of any age, yet so many of us, including health professionals, still think of it as an affliction for the over 60s.  So please, take a moment to read the information below from the Stroke Association, and make sure your friends and family know this stuff.  With early intervention many strokes can be survived, we just need to know what to look for, and not be afraid to tell our health professionals of our fears.  Don’t be a passive bystander, step up and be heard.

***If you can, in these hard times, please donate what you can to the Stroke Association – every penny gets us a step closer to saving more lives – just CLICK HERE***

You can recognise a stroke using the FAST test

FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?

SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

TIME to call 999.

If a person fails any one of these tests, get help immediately by dialling 999

A speedy response can help reduce the damage to a person’s brain and improve their chances of a full recovery. A delay in getting help can result in death or long-term disabilities.

Please click the link below for an explanation of the FAST test in an audio format.

FAST test audio file (331 kb)

Don’t ignore temporary symptoms

If symptoms disappear within 24 hours, the person may have had a Transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which is also called a mini-stroke. A TIA is still a medical emergency, because it can lead to a major stroke.

 

***For a lot more information of strokes please visit the Stroke Association website – CLICK HERE***

 

Non-Stop Audiobooks

So…it has been a mad month. Why? Because, after pitching for work, I got my wish and ended up with an insane amount.

Audiobooks, audiobooks everywhere, and no time to edit to be seen!

It is one of those rare, but pleasing bits of nightmare when you get more work than you can healthily undertake.  You don’t want to complain, because you don’t know when it will happen again, but then you also need to sleep and take a break and when this much work comes along you tend to sleep very little!

Let me explain…I don’t have a 9-5 job, 5 days a week.  I own the two businesses I run, and like all small business-owners, tend to take on as much of the work as possible in order to save money and maximise profit. And, as a bit of a perfectionist who has built his reputation on his own quality of work, I find it hard to hand over jobs (especially audiobooks) to other people to do.

Over the past 4-6 weeks we’ve had the following audiobooks (and radio productions) happening:

  • 3x Doctor Who audios (5 and 6 CDs long each)
  • 3x Unabridged novels (8 and 10 and 12 CDs)
  • 1x five part BBC Radio 4 Extra series
  • 2x autobiography audios (both 8 CDs)
  • 1x 2 part World Service series
  • Oh…and the continuing adventures of the 4th Doctor in the Serpent Crest series!

So how did I manage to produce, edit, master and deliver all of these?  Partly it is due to working 7 days a week, from 7am to 10pm.  But it got to the point where things overlapped, producing was required when editing needed doing, and, worryingly, I ended up getting depressed and close to breakdown because with no downtime, the work became too much.

BUT HUZZAH! To the rescue came four wondrous people:

Paul Kent – Paul is just about the most proficient and experienced audiobook producer I have ever met and has taken on two of the titles for me when I needed to be elsewhere.  His first book is out now…a whole blog about that soon!

Richard Bannerman – Richard is my partner in crime in the radio biz and has taken over producing some BBC work for me…I wish I could do it, but time is against me!

Seb Juviler – Seb co-owns SNK Media/Studios in central London and is my co-conspirator on audiobooks.  He has made the studio side of things incredibly easy and stress-free.

Tanja Glittenberg – my beloved fiance who has [a] put up with my moods and stress and [b] learned the art of audio editing very fast and with incredible finesse and precision. She is an excellent first-pass editor and means we can take on this level of work without killing me or losing quality.  It also helps her build a new career, get paid and (ahem) help with the household bills ;-)

So…it took me a while to ask for help, but when I did, I got it and in spades!  What a wonderful experience.  Now I just hope [a] you enjoy the audios and radio shows and [b] we keep getting the work

I’ll be back to tell you what the titles were as soon as I am allowed to share such secrets :-)

To Our Friends At Reeves Corner

The now former Reeves Furniture building in Croydon

Ladbroke Productions (proud to be a Croydon business) would like to send our love and support to our friends at Reeves Furniture in Croydon. Last night, the beautiful building above, established in 1867, was burned to the ground by moronic evil looters and rioters. Reeves is a family business that all of us in Croydon are very proud of. The building and business was a real historic landmark, and we are devastated to see its destruction by mindless thugs. We would also like to send our support to all the residents and other businesses affected by the rioting last night. Such meaningless wanton destruction proves nothing but the idiocy of those who partake in it. Croydon, and all of London will stand strong and united against such violence. We look forward to the rebirth of Reeves Furniture.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, this is what Reeves Furniture looked like late last night!

Comic-Con, SFX & Mad Skills

It’s that time of year again when the lucky 100,000 make their way to San Diego for Comic-Con…a nerdvana of comics, films, toys, cosplay and so much more.  Like Simon Pegg & Nick Frost, Comic-Con is for me a ‘must-do before I die’ affair.  Yet, sadly, another year passes and I can’t afford to go.

But wait! For while I cannot get there, the lads and lasses (mainly lads!) of SFX Magazine ARE going…en masse…and for four days they will be flying the UK flag proudly while attempting to get the US all excited about SFX magazine.  To do this they are taking 90,000 copies of a SFX Special Edition, A5 sized and chock fulla goodies.  Ade and Dave and co will, with the help of the obligatory booth ladies (I am sure they are babes but let’s not get in to that argument) be handing out these special editions to all-comers.  And what will SFX’s new US fans discover on the inside back cover (a prime piece of real estate)? Well, only this here kick-ass advert:

Looks fantastic, doesn’t it?  While Spokenworld Audio is still in its early launch stages, this was a prime opportunity, at a great price, to put our name and brand and ethos in front of 90,000 people in the US capital of genre.  Will we make money back?  Well, adverts rarely get you many direct sales, but I do believe we will have established our brand in the minds of the exact people we will be targeting over the next few years.  Plus it is another great chance to partner with the SFX gang, which is always fun and fruity.

But hang on…let me talk to you ABOUT the advert, because I am sure you have noticed that it is, to be plain and simple, KICK ASS!  It is a beautifully drawn, wonderfully composed piece of artwork and I am intensely jealous that I can’t draw like that.  It was, in fact, drawn by the unfeasibly talented MATT DILLON (aka geekplanetmatt on Twitter), who is an artist and designer of prodigious abilities, as well as the co-founder of the web’s finest genre portal…Geekplanetonline.com

Matt has supplied us with cover art in the past, and has that rare ability to be able to knock up original and stunning artwork at short notice.  He is able to work from the briefest of briefs (sometimes while wearing no briefs at all, so the rumour goes!) and the shortest of timelines, but always brings a wealth of ideas as well as excitement and enthusiasm to the project.  If I had more money to spend on art I would be commissioning him every week of the year.

So, let me say to you, one business blokey to another…seriously, if you need some art doing, some design work required, a project needs spicing up…contact MATT DILLON and you won’t be disappointed.

DETAILS

Spokenworld Audio – click here

GeekPlanetOnline – click here

Matt Dillon Email – click here

EXAMPLES OF MORE OF MATT’S WORK FOR SPOKENWORLD AUDIO

  

Malta’s Buses – In Memorium

I’ve been to the island of Malta many times, and absolutely love the place.  And one of the best things about it are the canary-yellow buses that flock around the main fountain in Valletta and take you all over the island.  They are ancient and unique and full of life and personality.  And, as of this summer, they are all being scrapped to make way for horrible, impersonal, boring modern buses run not by owner-drivers, but by the monolithic corporation Arriva!  So, in memory of these beautiful and magical beasts, here is a poem I wrote about them some years back, as I stood by the fountain in Valletta, watching the flock go by:

BUSES by Neil Gardner

Like a flock of sun-gold flamingoes,

They swarm around the fountain now dry.

Some shiny new, others in death throes,

The journey may be hard but they’ll try.

All at once the flock takes wing and leaves,

As one they make haste and depart.

Squawking and screeching the sound weaves,

I watch, transfixed, full of heart.

Each one’s destination is different,

Yet the flock knows where to return.

To far off location the individuals are sent,

On a wing and a prayer, but no concern.

They’re back now, all yellow and noisy,

Surrounding me they nest and roost.

At night they lie warm, snug and cosy,

Before another day’s flock is let loose.

 

Here’s the link to the BBC News story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/9520210.stm

You’re Only As Good As…

It’s been a crappy week so far.  First the death of the gorgeous Lis Sladen, and then yesterday I learned that my radio production company (the oldest in the UK) had been denied the right to pitch/produce a certain style of documentaries for BBC Radio 4 for the next 2 years.  We’ve been succesfully making these sorts of docs since 1992…they are the core of what we do…but now, like afternoon plays 2 years ago, we’re off the list!

Why?

Well, it seems you are only as good as your last…erm…well, it can’t be success.  Our docs have garnered critical praise and listener admiration.  Some have even won awards.  We are told that, in a couple of instances, our previous docs weren’t “admired”…but they were admired by the press, the audience and our fellow producers.  So it was only the network chiefs who didn’t like them?  I wonder who we are REALLY trying to make programmes for? The commissioners or the stakeholders who pay the bill every year (you and me!)

So, suddenly, I am looking at a £30,000 per year loss in work.  I have 6 producers and 10 presenters no longer earning.  My company loses some credibility.  I wonder if I can pay the mortgage.  It’s not like there’s anyone else out there paying money to have these docs produced – if only the UK government would allow some kind of competition in the speech radio market, but alas, they may look like they hate the BBC, but I promise you, they are all cronies together.

So I am angry, and upset, and frustrated.  “You are rewarded for loyalty and success” makes me laugh, almost as much as every time talent asks me “So surely they’ll pay us more for this considering the success of the last thing?”  Ha ha ha, really? Go ask them.  It is ever diminishing budgets, ever increasing rights packages and ever insulting BBC-independent producer relationships.

Are we still producing kick-ass, award winning, top-class, critically acclaimed radio programmes and series?  Damn right we are.  Just check out “Russia: The Wild East” on R4 right now.  Ridiculous praise and press.  But will that translate in to more commissions for 2012-13.  I have a sinking sensation.

The BBC already hates having to deal with radio indies.  They are now pushing aggressively for the smaller and medium sized indies to shut down, so they only have to deal with 5 or 10 super-indies.  And then BBC Radio will be where BBC TV is…with the occassional superb production, in amongst the cookie-cutter production line nonsense.

We’ll persevere, but we’ll push even harder through our Spokenworld Audio sister company to producer, publish, sell and even commission new audio that goes straight to market.  It is high time the BBC were removed from their place of privilege and reminded that other people know what they are talking about, too.  So, here’s to the BBC, may it remain a bastion of UK creative arts.  But now comes the time of the independent commissioner and publisher…we may not have the free access to cash from the licence fee, but we’ll get the best and the brightest to work with us because OUR CREATIVITY IS STRONG!

We’ll Miss You, Sarah-Jane

It is such a sad day…Elisabeth Sladen, our very own Sarah-Jane Smith, has passed away, aged 63.

She was an absolute hero of mine, an icon of my Doctor Who youth, a gorgeous, funny, vibrant, friendly, cheerful, intelligent and fabulous human being.

I feel incredibly honoured and fortunate enough to have worked with her producing her last four Sarah Jane Adventures audiobook adventures for AudioGo. Over two years we had some of the most fun in a studio I have ever had. And they are four of the productions I am most proud of. To hear Lis reading out my name as the producer was a moment that will resonate for me forever.

But what is more important is that Lis was a genuinely fantastic person…someone who cared passionately about her character, her work, her family, her friends and her colleagues. She was always as concerned for our time and wellbeing as her own.

The last time I saw her we swapped gifts…I got some signed SJA audiobooks (very much treasured items in our household) and she got a copy of “The Brightonomicon Audio Series” and “The Bumper Book of FICTS”. She told me later that the FICTS had given her a good laugh…now we are all aware of what she was going through, I hope that my ridiculous FICTS gave her some respite for just a few moments.

So we move on to a slightly colder world, without Lis or Sarah-Jane…but she’s still with us in our hearts and memories, and all those lovely shiny DVDs and Blu-Rays we can enjoy over and over again. But let me suggest this to you…once you’ve rewatched School Reunion, or the SJA series…grab yourself an SJA audiobook or three (or four, or five!) and head somewhere quiet and put your headphones on, and let Lis tell you some of her adventures herself…one-on-one. It’ll make you cry, but it’ll also make your heart sing with joy.

RIP Lis…you were, are and will always be, the greatest companion of them all!

Love, Neil, Tanja and all at Ladbroke Productions xxx

RECOMMENDED SJA AUDIOBOOKS FROM AUDIOGO:

  • The Shadow People
  • The White Wolf
  • Wraith World
  • The Deadly Download

PLUS OTHER GREAT SARAH-JANE AUDIOS FROM BIG FINISH!

A Lack-of Morality-Tale for our times

SCENE - Woman finds herself unemployed for no fault of her own and seeks help from the UK Job Centre to find work.  She enters the gloomy building at the appointed day and time and walks up to the Job Centre staff member

Woman:  Hello…erm…I’ve never been to a Job Centre before so I don’t really know what the procedure is.  Can you help me?

Staffer:  It’s up to you to learn how the system works.  We can’t offer any assistance.

Woman:  Oh.  Well, um, should I fill out a form, or wait in line, or do something with the computers?

Staffer:  Fill this in.

HANDS OVER A LARGE FORM

Woman:  OK, great, not a problem.  Then what do I do with it.

Staffer:  Everything is on the form.  I can’t help you. You can’t fill it in here.  You have to go home to do it.

Woman:  And then what?  Do I bring it back here?

Staffer:  Everything is on the form.

Woman:  Ah, right, I see…oh, it says to post it back, first class (at my expense I see) and wait for a new appointment.

Staffer:  Goodbye.

SEVERAL WEEKS LATER…THE SAME SCENE

Woman:  Hello again, I’m back for my appointment.  How are you today?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  Right…erm…OK.  Well, I filled in the form and returned it and was told to come meet you today and you would tell me how to proceed with getting help to get a job.

Staffer:  Have you completed the form?

Woman:  Yes, I just told you that.  Didn’t you hear me?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  Hmmm?!  Well, yes, I did and that is why I am here.  Look, to be honest, I am really rather embarrassed about losing my job, and I’ve never been unemployed before and I really want to get back in to work, any work will be fine, I just need your help to get going with it.  Well, I say I need your help, but I have already started applying for jobs myself, but according to your form these don’t count.  I have to come here, meet you every 2 weeks and be ‘helped’.  So, will you help me?  First of all I wondered if I could get any Job Seeker’s allowance, to help pay for all the applications and bus journeys and getting all the way here and back every fortnight?

Staffer: Let me look at your file…hang on…

SOUND OF TYPING ON COMPUTER

Woman:  Well?

Staffer:  We can’t help you.  You aren’t eligible for Job Seeker’s Allowance because you’ve been working.

Woman:  Well of course I’ve been working!  I’ve been working all my adult life!  I’ve paid my insurance and tax.  Doesn’t that entitle me to just a little bit of help?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman: Argh!  Look, sorry, I know you are just doing your job, but surely there is something you can do to help?

Staffer: Fill in this form and bring it back in two weeks to be signed off.  If you don’t apply for at least 6 jobs every two weeks you won’t be entitled to Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Woman:  WHAT?!  But I’ve already given you evidence of over thirty jobs I’ve already applied for.  Don’t they count?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  And what do you mean I won’t be entitled to Job Seeker’s Allowance?  You’ve already told me I’m not getting any?!

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  Aaarrghh!  Look…OK…right…I know it is just the system, not you.  So…I wanted to ask…I’ve been offered a job, a good job, but the employer needs me to have a certain qualification.  Now, I used to live abroad, in Europe, and while I was there I got the qualification, but it was obviously a European version.  Can you help me get it recognised in the UK so I can accept the job offer?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  Oh for the love of Pete!  Well, if YOU and Job Centre can’t help, who can?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.  It is your responsibility to research and contact anyone who can help you get a job.  The Job Centre does not help you get a job.

Woman:  Right!  So!  IF I can find someone to help me, is there any funding available to pay for the cost?  Or…if I have to retake the qualification can you help me with the cost of the training?

Staffer: The Job Centre offers no financial help with training or gaining job skills.  Since you have been working recently this is your responsibility.  Please fill out this form and return in two weeks.

Woman:  Aaaaarrrgghhhh!!!  Right, that is it…I’m off and I’ll sort it out myself.  Thanks for nothing.  Do you know how much help you’ve been to me today?

Staffer:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

TWO WEEKS PASS.  THE WOMAN DISCOVERS SHE HAS TO RETAKE THE TRAINING AT HER OWN EXPENSE.  SHE BORROWS THE MONEY FROM FAMILY.  THE TRAINING IS DUE TO BE ON THE DAY SHE IS MEANT TO RETURN TO THE JOB CENTRE.  SHE CALLS TO REARRANGE HER APPOINTMENT.

Woman:  Hello?  I was wondering if I could rearrange my Job Centre appointment on Friday?  I have a training session that day.

Anonymous 1: Please wait while I pass you to someone who can help.

PAUSE

Anonymous 2:  Hello?

Woman: Hello?  I was wondering if I could rearrange my Job Centre appointment on Friday?  I have a training session that day.  Can you help?

Anonymous 2: Please wait while I pass you to someone who can help.

PAUSE

Anonymous 3:  Hello?

Woman: Hello?  I was wondering if I could rearrange my Job Centre appointment on Friday?  I have a training session that day.  Are YOU someone who can help me?

Anonymous 3: Please wait while I pass you to someone who can help.

PAUSE

Anonymous 3:  Hello? Job Centre appointments.

Woman: Hello?  At last!  I was wondering if I could rearrange my Job Centre appointment on Friday?  I have a training session that day.  Is that possible?

Anonymous 3:  Training, you say?  Well, in that case just don’t come on Friday and call us on Monday to re-apply.

Woman:  Re-apply?  For what?

Anonymous 3:  How many hours training are you taking?

Woman:  Well, it is three days, 9 to 5 each day, so that would be 24 hours in total.

Anonymous 3:  Is your training for more than 20 hours?

Woman:  I just told you, it will be approximately 24 hours over 3 days.  Didn’t you hear me?

Anonymous 3:  I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

Woman:  What does it matter.  Surely my taking training to gain a qulification which will help my job prospects is something you would approve of?  What does the number of hours matter?

Anonymous 3:  Since you are training for more than 20 hours, we have to sign you off. You are now in full-time education and no longer eligible for Job Seeker’s Allowance.

Woman:  WHAT?!  But I DON’T GET Job Seeker’s Allowance!  And it isn’t full time education.  I am not a student.  I am re-qualifying for a qualification I already have because you wouldn’t recognise the original qualification!  Aaarrgghh!

Anonymous 3:  Please call back on Monday and we will start the signing-on process once again.  I hope this has be of help to you in finding a new job.

Woman:  Who are you?!  What is going on?!  Why won’t you people help me?!  I just want to get a job and not be a burden on my family and the tax-payers.  I want to do my bit, and earn money!  Why won’t you people help me?!

Anonymous 3: I can’t offer you any response.  The Job Centre is unable to help you with this information.  Please look online or on our website for further assistance.

WOMAN SLAMS PHONE DOWN

N.B.  This is based on a very true, very real-life story which is on-going.  I have been disgusted with the Job Centre and the UK Government’s approach to honest, hard-working individuals who simply find themselves out of work and desperately seeking new employment.  There is NO HELP WHATSOEVER.  What there is, instead, is form-filling, pointless appointments and heap loads of guilt and embarrassment.  The system appears to be setup for the feckless and work-shy.  Those who work at the Job Centres, while grossly characterised within this short play, genuinely seem to either be unwilling to find ways to help, or genuinely unable to help because the system doesn’t allow help to be offered to those who most need it.  We want people back in work, and we want them to feel supported and encouraged.  Right now, from my recent experiences, I can say that none of this is happening.  Shame on the Job Centre and shame on the UK Government.  All your big plans for benefit reform are great for the papers, but come down to street level and start fixing the almighty cock-up that is the day-to-day system.  Stop making it impossible for those who want work to get help to find work.  Right now, all I can say to sum up the Job Centre experience is:  EPIC FAIL!

Thank you message

A little audio thank you message to everyone involved with AUDIOBOOK FOR JAPAN 2011

All Aliens Like Burgers – Audiobook Release

IT’S HERE! “All Aliens Like Burgers” is the first in the much anticipated TRUXXE TRILOGY by Ruth Wheeler. Published by HIRST BOOKS (click here to buy the book), this exclusive unabridged audiobook edition is read by star of Dr Who, We Are Klang, Tittybangbang and Calendar Girls, Debbie Chazen. Featuring new music from award-winning radio, film & TV composer Jon Nicholls, and produced by multiple-award winning radio & audio director Neil Gardner.

CLICK HERE to visit the Spokenworld Audio site and buy the download

CLICK PLAY to hear a sample


An exciting, funny adventure in space, for late teenage – adult readers.

Young, polite and intelligent Tom Bowler has barely ever ventured out of the small English town where he grew up. So when he applies for a job in a fast food restaurant at a “local” service station during his gap year he is rather surprised to discover that the vacancy is in fact based on Truxxe, a planetoid stationed between local galaxies Triangulum and Andromeda. Hes surprised further still to find himself becoming friends with a purple alien and that he has strange feelings for his android supervisor, Miss Lola. Tom soon discovers that Truxxe has many hidden secrets – just what makes it so special? And why is its terrain so rich and varied that it can be used for fuelling such a diverse variety of intergalactic spacecraft? What are the Glorbian space pirate brothers Schlomm and Hannond plotting? And just what is it that they put in those burgers?

 

 

Reviews of the book (courtesy of Hirst Books)

5 product stars

5 starsgemma walton – 21 June 2010
really enjoyed the book – it was very descriptive, whilst still being a compelling read. ruth has an amazing imagination and makes the unbelievable sound perfectly plausible and believable. i loved the humour especially with the crystal growing and retrieval – and also the spottooning (which im hoping it wont become a new sport on earth!!)the door is opened really nicely for a sequel with more of toms adventures…. burger ingredients …. alien relations….a home visit with the new found tablets or new found friends…… looking forward to the sequel!!

5 product stars
david – 21 June 2010
all aliens like burgers is the dabut novel from author ruth wheeler and its a cracker. the basic plot concerns tom bowler who applies for a job at a “local” service stations fast food restaurant – which turns out not to be what or even where it seems. i wont go into any more details and ruin your enjoyment. ruth wheeler has created and enjoyable story with interesting and well fleshed out characters. the narrative moves at a good pace and makes an ideal read for anyone, like me, who enjoys a good science fiction novel with a twist.i was lucky enough to meet the author at a local book signing and found her to be charming and very down to earth. ruth also told me she is working on a sequal to this book. i for one, will be waiting with eager anticipation for more adventures of tom bowler.

5 product stars
Five Star ReadEd – 07 September 2010
A most enjoyable debut novel from ruth wheeler in which she chronicles the mis-adventures of young tom bowler who is a fish out of water in his new job at a galactic burger bar ! Fast moving,funny and imaginative,this is highly recommended to all fans of douglas adams and comedic sci-fi.

4 product stars
All Alians like burgersA robinson – 17 January 2011
Really enjoyed this book I bought it for my youngest son but landed up reading it myself and could’nt put it down – very funny well worth the read

4 product stars
burgers in space!mike cook – 17 June 2010
this is a light-hearted story of a teenager taking up a job in a less than usual location. the story takes us on a journey of discovery for a young man leaving home, with some excellent imagery. includes one of my favourite one-line observations of recent years. one to sink your teeth into for a little light entertainment.

4 product stars
victoria kahl – 21 June 2010
a real fish-out of water story, its interesting to think how i would cope with a situation like this. most of the time the main character accepts what he sees and gets on with things, i think this is because he is still a teenager and things roll off him!amongst the pure sci-fi there are plenty of comedy moments and even a sprinkling of romance. i look forward to the rest of the series and to finding out where toms adventures will take him.

 

Audiobook for Japan 2011

The recent devastation in Japan caused by the earthquake and tsunami has shocked the world. We at Spokenworld Audio, alongside our friends and partners at Ladbroke Productions (Radio) Ltd are unashamed Japon-ophiles…we just love the place, the people and the culture. We have some great friends in Japan, and we felt it was important that we do what we could to help out.

JAPANESE FAIRY WORLD, STORIES FROM THE WONDER-LORE OF JAPAN has been produced by Neil Gardner at Ladbroke Productions in just a few days, with the incredible kind help and talents of many of the UK and US’s finest Voice Over artists. With beautiful music donated by Jon Nicholls and Seb & Kayvan at SNK Music (and additional music from AKM Music). Within you will find 25 short-stories from the rich heritage of Japanese folk-tales. From demons and gods, to the creation of the Earth and the naming of mountains.

 

Over 3.5 hours of fabulous audiobook readings!

 

100% of the money raised from the sale of this unique audiobook will be donated by Spokenworld Audio and Ladbroke Productions to the RED CROSS JAPAN TSUNAMI/EARTHQUAKE APPEAL. We will even donate the VAT as well!

We encourage you to purchase the complete audiobook, but if you would prefer to, you can also buy each story individually (a slightly more expensive option!). The complete set comes as a zipped folder containing the 25 stories plus an introduction and end credits…all as high quality stereo 192kbps mp3 files…ready for importing into iTunes or on to an mp3 player of your choice!

Before we get to the list of stories, let us tell you the incredibly generous readers who gave their time, talent (and studios!) to make this project a reality. If you are a producer/director, please take it from us, these people are fantastic and well worth hiring:

 

RAMON TIKARAM (yes, Ferdie from This Life…ace!)

NATALIE COOPER (who also helped organise the voices…what an angel)

PETER DICKSON (the voice of X-Factor and so much more, buy his app at www.myruddyvoice.com)

PATRICK LUNT (legendary voice over!)

MARIAN KEMMER

CHRISTOPHER KENT

CLAIRE LACEY

MARTY PERRETT (check out his superb podcast ‘The Boxroom’ – subscribe in iTunes)

HELEN QUIGLEY

MARK TAYLOR

KATY MAW

TAFF (he promises us he has a surname, but it is on a ‘need to know’ basis apparently!)

RACHEL ASHLEY

GEORGE WASHINGTON III

FRAN McCLELLEN

JUSTIN BARRETT

JULIE BERRY

PHILIP BANKS

NEIL GARDNER

 

The cover art was created by Tanja Glittenberg.

 

How To Buy Audiobook for Japan 2011

 

OK…so let’s get to the audiobook stories…click HERE to visit the Spokenworld Audio site and purchase either the entire collection or individual stories.

Please Note: VAT is added automatically for those purchasing from the UK or EU countries. Spokenworld Audio and Ladbroke Productions will match the sum total of VAT as an additional donation to the appeal.

Many thanks for your support and please spread the news. We’d love to sell hundreds, if not thousands of copies and raise as much money as we can for the appeal.

 

Audiobook Round-up

I’m a lucky blighter…as an audiobook fan I just love hearing what’s new and hearing a wide variety of genres…but what makes me lucky is that I am an audiobook producer, so I get access to many more audiobooks than is probably fair ;-)  So I thought, hey Neil, why not start sharing the news about audiobooks that you’ve heard, produced or know a bit about.  So that’s what I’m gonna start doing.  Come back regularly to be updated on audiobook goodness…and even get the occasional chance to win one or more of the audiobooks mentioned!

I, Claudius

Broadcast
Author : Robert Graves
Reader : Full Cast

Running Time : 6hrs 0mins

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Robert Graves’ brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, starring Tom Goodman Hill as Claudius and Derek Jacobi as Augustus.

The wickedly entertaining inside story of the lives and deaths of the Imperial dynasty from Augustus to Caligula is told by their obscure relation, Claudius.

In public, Claudius is a stammering, drooling weakling, whose reputation as an idiot keeps him safe from office and assassination. But in private, he’s as sharp as they come, and keeps a secret history of everything he discovers. Until one day, as one of the few of his family left alive, he’s acclaimed Emperor against his will. Can he save Rome from the corruption he’s grown to detest?

Featuring Derek Jacobi (who won a BAFTA for his performance as Claudius in the acclaimed 1977 BBC television production) as Augustus, and with an all-star cast, this gripping dramatisation will enthral anyone who loves the decadence of Ancient Rome.

Available now as DOWNLOAD and CD from 

 

Aurelio Zen: Blood Rain

Unabridged Reading

Author : Michael Dibdin

Reader : Michael Kitchen

Running Time : 8hrs 30mins

Michael Kitchen reads this complete, full-length ‘Aurelio Zen’ novel by bestselling author Michael Dibdin.

After his last case, among the gentle hills and lush vineyards of Piedmont, Inspector Zen finally receives the order he has been dreading all his professional life: his next posting is to Sicily, home of the Mafia.

The gruesome discovery of an unidentified, decomposed corpse sealed in a railway wagon on a disused siding marks the beginning of Zen’s most difficult and dangerous case.

Set against the backdrop of the 3000-year-old city of Catania, in the shadow of the smouldering volcano of Etna, ‘Blood Rain’ finds Aurelio Zen at his most desperate and driven.

‘The best detective novelist around’ – Sunday Times

A complete and unabridged reading by Michael Kitchen.

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South Riding

Broadcast

Author : Winifred Holtby

Reader : Full Cast

Running Time : 3hrs 45mins

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Winifred Holtby’s classic novel of 1930s Yorkshire.

It is the summer of 1932, and Sarah Burton embarks on a new beginning as the headmistress of Kiplington High School for girls. There she encounters unenthusiastic pupils, distant staff and a run-down building, but she is determined to inspire.

When she organises her first community event, she begins to feel more at home. However, her next bright idea – taking the girls out on a snowy clifftop walk – gets her into trouble with local landowner and school governor Robert Carne.

As Sarah learns more about Carne’s troubled home life and his concern for his daughter Midge, she finds herself increasingly drawn to him. But she soon has more on her mind than romance, as she struggles to prevent bright but poor schoolgirl Lydia Holley from losing her scholarship…

Starring Sarah Lancashire, Philip Glenister and Carole Boyd, this gripping adaptation memorably evokes the lives, loves and sorrows of the inhabitants of South Riding.

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Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None

Dramatisation

Author : Agatha Christie

Reader : Full Cast

Running Time : 1hrs 30mins

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of a classic Agatha Christie mystery, starring Lyndsey Marshal, Geoffrey Whitehead and John Rowe.

Ten guests travel to an island at the invitation of someone named U.N. Owen. All are strangers, but they have two things in common: they have all been responsible for someone’s death, and none will leave the island alive.

Over the next two days and nights, each of the guests is killed off in a different manner in keeping with the nursery rhyme, ‘Ten Little Soldier Boys’. As they are picked off one by one, who could possibly be responsible?

The killers are forced to turn detective so they can find the unknown murderer, but one by one they become victims…

Billed as ‘the famous detective story without a detective’, ‘And Then There Were None’ is one of Agatha Christie’s darkest and most enduring tales.

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