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Audio Book Review
Flying, fear, fresh air and the future

Jonathan Lowe
Audio Book Reviewer

If you enjoy escapist science fiction, there’s an interesting new full-cast production out titled “Outlanders: Purgatory Road” by Mark Ellis, under the series’ pen name, James Axler. The GraphicAudio novel is directed and narrated by Terence Aselford. It’s set in the future when Earth has recovered from nuclear war only to fall prey to feudal barons vying for power on the Pacific island of New Edo. Alien dictators come into play here too (indeed, they’ve been with us all along.) This rock ’em sock ’em adventure takes a hop, skip and a jump beyond traditional science fiction – with a fusion of military action – to imagine mother Earth in total chaos, but with pockets of hope. Hmmm … maybe it’s not so far out after all. Rated for mature content, some of this is B-movie silly, but they get an A for effort. (Cutting Audio/8 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜

For a more believable adventure, try “Flight of the Phoenix” by Elleston Trevor, a tale of survival involving a crippled air freighter that crashes in the Sahara. Twelve men set out to rebuild the craft while facing the fierce desert sun and their dwindling water supplies. Question: Do you drink the water from the coolant system needed to get the plane aloft again, and hope to be sighted for rescue, or do you risk heat exhaustion and rebuild? They decide on the latter, but there’s a surprise in store. Narrated by one of the best in the business, Grover Gardner, this book inspired the movie currently playing in theaters. The book is also available in MP3 format, as well as cassette and CD. (Blackstone Audio/7 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜1/2

Did one of your New Year’s resolutions involve a diet? Barry Sears, Ph.D., reads his own new audio book, “The Anti Inflammation Zone.” He’s the best-selling author of several Zone diet books and here focuses on the best ways to achieve hormonal control over low-level inflammation, which is a silent killer that some researchers have linked to diseases like cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. His No. 1 suggestion? Eating fish and in addition, taking supplements of ultra-refined fish oil concentrates in order to rapidly lower inflammation in the body. Of course, you also need to lower your sugar intake too, the good doctor says, which may not be easy if you consider all the things that turn into sugar when eaten, such as bread and potatoes. While this audio book could have benefited from a professional reader, your health will certainly benefit if you manage to follow some of Sears’ advice. (Harper Audio/3.5 hours abridged) ˜˜˜

Here’s a surprise: George Wilson reads “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton, the latest novel from the author of “Jurassic Park,” “Timeline” and “Prey.” It is more controversial, as it’s more of a non-fiction book in techno-thriller guise. Why the big controversy, you ask? Because Crichton seems to be saying, through his characters, that our obsession with environmental degradation is based not on science, but on fear mongers who employ the tactics of propaganda to advance their own political ends, and to keep people in line. A not-so-subtle backhand to the establishment in Hollywood is a surprise here, too. So whether the claims made in this book prove accurate, one has to admire the courage of its author in standing up for his convictions. Food for thought? (Harper Audio/18.5 hours unabridged) ˜˜˜1/2

Finally, in “Laughs” – a collection of short interviews – NPR’s “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross talks with 21 different comedians about their experiences in front of the microphone and in some cases gives you a candid inside look at stand-up performers you enjoy. Particularly interesting is what Jay Leno says about his early days working blue-collar clubs, and what Chris Rock says about being skinny and defensive as a kid. Other stars include Al Franken, Bill Maher, Conan O’Brien, Drew Carey, Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Martin Short and Bob Newhart. It’s a look behind the curtain, and not without a few laughs. (Highbridge Audio/3.5 hours abridged) ˜˜˜1/2

These audio books may be rented from Audio Adventures in truck stops or by calling 1-800-551-6692. Be sure to ask for “Awakening Storm,” about a greedy televangelist who holds a hurricane prayer party when an act of God intervenes in the form of an earthquake off Miami.