I’ve been a member of Audible.com since 2002, and over that time I’ve watched as Audible’s library of classic science fiction has grown. It’s been very impressive, and yet, there are many great science fiction books and authors that haven’t made it into their catalog. I’m inspired to write this because of reading “Great Unsung Science Fiction Authors That Everyone Should Read” by Charlie Jane Anders at io9.com. Our Classics of Science Fiction Book Club has been discussing this article, thinking up our own list of SF authors who have gone missing in action, or who we think young people should track down and try.
I thought I’d look up on Audible to see if these authors are remembered, and list the number of audio books available. You can click on the link to read about the author and their books at Wikipedia. I only counted whole books in print at Audible, not single short stories.
These are authors we think deserve more attention. Charlie Jane Anders was pretty good at picking writers that are mostly not in print at Audible.com. That wasn’t her intention, but that’s how I used her list. The book club picked a number of authors that Audible has done a bang-up job of remembering, like Edmond Hamilton.
First, Charlie Jane Anders lists these authors as deserving more attention:
- John Brunner (1)
- Doris Piserchia (0)
- Adam-Troy Castro (3)
- Kathleen Ann Goonan (0)
- Robert Sheckley (5)
- C. L. Moore (0)
- William Barton (0)
- Kage Baker (3)
- Paul Di Filippo (0)
- Carol Emshwiller (1)
- Clifford D. Simak (2)
- Amy Thomson (2)
Some of the authors we discussed at our book club. I haven’t listed them all, because some were very obscure.
- Gordon R. Dickson (9)
- Jack L. Chalker (38)
- John Brunner (1)
- James Schmitz (0)
- Geary Gravel (0)
- Edmond Hamilton (19)
- A. Merritt (1)
- C. M. Kornbluth (1) – but major, his complete short story collection – 43 hours and 10 minutes
- Hal Clement (13)
- Cordwainer Smith (0)
- H. Beam Piper (6)
- Ann Maxwell (0)
- Theodore Sturgeon (5)
- Eric Frank Russell (0)
- Poul Anderson (6)
- Kenneth Bulmer (0)
- Murray Leinster (8)
- Clifford Simak (2)
- Fred Hoyle (1)
- Fredric Brown (4)
- John W. Campbell (3)
- Alfred Bester (0)
- William Tenn (0)
- Michael Bishop (0)
- Samuel R. Delany (0)
- Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (0)
- R. A. Lafferty (0)
- D. G. Compton (0)
- John Boyd (0)
We had a few overlaps with Anders, but for the most part, our fond memories were for other writers. Overall, Audible has lots of major science fiction novels it could still publish. Especially, Alfred Bester or Samuel R. Delany, or even Michael Bishop? However, I still give Audible.com an A+ for preserving classic science fiction. Hell, they’ve published eight E. C. Tubb novels, and thirty A. Bertram Chandler books. Some of these books haven’t seen the light of day since their original ACE Double publication.
The book club consists mainly of older science fiction fans from around the world that have a nostalgia for the science fiction they grew up reading. We’re worried that some of our favorite books and writers might be forgotten when we’re no longer here to remember. These aren’t necessarily our favorite writers, but the ones our faulty memories retrieved when we tried to remembered books we had mostly forgotten, but still remembered fondly.
I have to say that Audible.com is a great resource for old science fiction fans.
JWH – 4/2/14
12 thoughts on “Memorable Science Fiction Missing From Audible.com”
Mr. H–I follow your blog via Feedly, and this post made me pause a moment. Feedly doesn’t let me recommend blogs to others, so I can alert them to your cogent and erudite musings. I do occasionally share them on Facebook (David Brin especially liked your religion post) but this message needs to be broadcast to the SFnal community. May I suggest that you contact John DeNardo at SFSignal and recommend this blog entry for their daily links post? firstname.lastname@example.org
If you put in the subject line “suggested link post” it will get handled faster…and you’re welcome to mention that Richard Derus, who owes him an interview/review and hasn’t forgotten, suggested it.
SF Signal routinely links to my posts when I write about science fiction, so we’ll see if it shows up tomorrow. But thanks for the advice, it’s a nice compliment.
Great post Jim. I’m glad I brought it up.
John Wyndham has five books at audible. Guess he isn’t as unsung as I though.
That’s the great thing about Audible, they do remember. I think there must be a bunch of old farts like me that wanted to hear the SF books they fondly remember reading as a kid.
My own favorites list would be weighted towards writers from the 1940’s thru the 1960’s as well as the odd earlier writer like George Allan England, so many of them are slipping into obscurity. I’d include:
L. Sprague de Camp
Lewis Padgett (Kuttner + C. L. Moore)
maybe Keith Laumer, Manly Wade Wellman and Chris Anvil
I’m finding that even someone as well known as Poul Anderson is poorly represented on library shelves now.
Some recent feminist bitching inspired me to sit down and list some fondly remembered female authors from that era. I get the impression that a lot of the complainers aren’t even aware of these earlier writers (and unlike Tiptree/Sheldon, it was no secret that they were women). Not in either of your above lists:
Miriam Allen deFord
Evelyn E. Smith
Margaret St. Clair (aka Idris Seabright)
Then there are the authors of some of my favorite children’s books (I’ve been reading SF/Fantasy as long as I can remember). Madeline L’Engle and Mary Norton of course, but also
Raymond Abrashkin & Jay Williams (Danny Dunn series)
Bertrand R. Brinley (Mad Scientists’ Club series)
Walter R. Brooks (Freddy the Pig series)
Oliver Butterworth (The Enormous Egg)
Eleanor Cameron (Mushroom Planet series)
Evelyn Sibley Lampman (The City Under the Back Steps, The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek, Rusty’s Spaceship)
Ruthven Todd (Space Cat series)
Louis Slobodkin (Spaceship Under the Apple Tree series)
Wish I could be a child again just long enough to read some of the books in these series that I missed growing up! I wonder if children still read any of these at all.
I forgot Chad Oliver.
Lewis Padgett’s Robots Have No Tails sure would be fun to hear. I recently listened to The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, and it was excellent. I’d like to hear Zenna Henderson’s The People books. Yeah, I forgot about Wilson Tucker. I read The Year of the Quiet Sun a couple years back because it wasn’t on audio. I was also a fan of the Danny Dunn books as a kid. There are so many forgotten authors to remember.
Harry Harrison has only been gone for a couple of years but I’m not sure if younger readers know him much. Same for Fred Pohl. Two of Harrison’s funniest books are the parody/pastiches “Bill, the Galactic Hero” and “Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers”. To really appreciate them though, you have to know “Starship Troopers”, “Foundation” and E. E. Smith’s Lensman books.
At the book club we just finished Pohl’s Man Plus last month. And we have quite a few Harrison fans. We often talk of Bill, the Galactic Hero and the Deathworld books.
I love the fact that you point out Michael Bishop 😉 YAY!
I did that thinking of you Joachim.
LibriVox has a nice selection of older Sci Fi audiobooks, including “Captives of the Flame” by Samuel Delany.