Short Story Audio Readings

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A couple of Harry Harrison short stories have been recorded by the folks at LibriVox – ‘The Repairman’ read by Anton, and ‘Toy Shop’ read by Cori Samuel are included in a collection titled Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 001.

Librivox are also planning a reading of Harry Harrison’s Planet of the Damned – a number of chapters have been recorded by several different readers, and are being posted as they’re completed, which means the chapters are appearing out of sequence. Such readings are ambitious projects – and I can’t help thinking that with several readers, this is going to be a bit of a mish-mash when it’s completed, but we shall see.

All of the above claim to be recordings of ‘Public Domain’ works, so have been created without Harry Harrison’s permission. The ‘blurb’ Librivox is using for Planet of the Damned is taken from the HH website, also without permission. Tsk, tsk.

3 Responses to “Short Story Audio Readings”

  1. Marc A. Says:

    I am so pleased to read that Mr. Harrison is aware of the Librivox recordings!

    It is a surprise to find a piece as well-composed as Planet of the Damned which purports to be in the public domain. This apparently is the opinion of the Project Gutenberg lawyers. As I’m certain Mr. Harrison is aware, copyright rules in the United States have in more recent years shifted to give writers better support with less confusion and red tape. On the flip side, this means that new public domain recordings of works as young as Planet of the Damned will be a scarcity in the future.

    Indeed, it might have been a courtesy for the readers at Librivox to contact Mr. Harrison. I don’t know that anyone has. I am the one using the pseudonym “n8evv”, and I have not done so. As a new Librivox reader who joined a few hours short of a week ago, I would say this experience alerts me of the need to do just this in the future.

    I don’t have the opportunity to read much fiction; I am essentially a full-time volunteer for various activities I hope to be in the public good. Until this project, I haven’t read any sci-fi in at least ten years. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have read that I ordered Planet of No Return from Amazon. This used copy won’t produce any revenue for Mr. Harrison, but I will at least have the privilege of reading this text.

    Hopefully a good commercial audio recording is available, because Librivox cannot record it unless Mr. Harrison places this book in the public domain prematurely. What I am sure of is that the Librivox recording of Planet of the Damned will expose many to Mr. Harrison’s fine work and create opportunities for sale of the bulk of it believed to not be in the public domain yet.

    There might have been some confusion about the “blurb”, which was not intended for use in the final project and might have been unwisely included in the project posts. The meta coordinator for this recording is aware of this and has responded by removing the offending material as soon as it was brought to her attention.

    I wondered too about the mish-mash concerns of having several readers work on Planet of the Damned. I originally signed on for a single chapter, but everyone else was offering to read four chapter blocks. When this became apparent, I shifed spaces somewhat with another reader so I would also read four chapters.

    The LibriVox reading of Planet of the Damned has been an ambitious one in sum, but everyone reading has enjoyed the work immensely, and the chapters have posted quickly. I am impressed and surprised by what these non-professional readers are accomplishing. LibriVox intentionally makes no requirements on whether a reader is any good or not, with the apparent result that those who come forward and try find the confidence and interest to become the best they can quite rapidly.

    I look forward to further mention and critical review of this recording via Mr. Harrison’s blog or by other means.

  2. Paul Tomlinson Says:

    Hi Marc – thanks for your comments.

    I did some research for Harry Harrison when we first learned that some of his works had ‘accidentally’ slipped into the public domain as a result of their copyright not having been formally renewed. An oversight arising from the complexity of US copyright law, which requires anything written between two dates to be formally renewed, wheras anything after those dates is automatically renewed – I can’t remember the dates, but I think three or four HH stories fell into this category, plus Planet of the Damned.

    I think there is a feeling among some writers – and I don’t claim that this is Harry Harrison’s view – that the vultures circle waiting for this sort of slip up to take place…🙂

    I think Project Gutenberg is a fine project, though the guys there are not infallible — they list Harry’s short story ‘The Misplaced Battleship’ as being the public domain, which it isn’t, as it’s three or four chapters of the first Stainless Steel Rat novel, which is still in copyright.

    Librivox too is a great project – and as it’s non-profit-making, isn’t something author’s will be upset about; but if they’re going to use an author’s name to promote stuff, it would be a courtesy to contact the author and let them know. Same with using stuff from the HH website – if people ask, we don’t say no, unless its something we don’t own the rights to.

    I agree with what you say about the Librivox recording of Planet of the Damned, and I look forward to hearing the whole thing.

    My original post on this was deliberately grouchy – I’ve known Harry for the best part of 25 years, I think he’s one of the best storytellers SF has ever produced, and I get annoyed if I feel he’s being exploited or not given the respect I think he deserves — I never claimed to be unbiased… 🙂

  3. Trochę opowiadań, wszystko SF « .:: bg recenzje: książki, filmy ::. Says:

    […] książką ze wspomnianej serii. Jest jakiś problem z prawami autorskimi, oficjalna strona autora twierdzi, że nie jest ono public domain, ale zarówno Project Gutenberg, jak i Librivox nie zdejmują […]

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