At 13.5 hours long, this contains the dramatization of ALL SIX of the Locke and Key graphic novels, starting with Welcome to Lovecraft and ending with Alpha and Omega.
Talked about on today’s show: Published 60 years ago; research is Jesse’s “security blanket”; The Black Stone by Robert E. Howard; stone of Erech has parallels to the Kaaba in Mecca; Moses’s ill-fated water-rock in Old Testament; the Stone of Scone; palantíri; War? What is it good for? We aren’t fans of all the battles; Éomer’s poetic “all is lost” moment; The Last Samurai and heroic fatalism; World War I; Faramir’s dislike of war; the movies’ over-reliance on spectacle; the power of words; the Lord of the Nazgûl; Éowyn’s badassery; Houses of Lamentation vs. Houses of Healing; the strength of the weakest; parallels between Merry and Pippin; the flaws of film versions of Éowyn–and Faramir; great deeds vs. duty; Éowyn as Old Norse valkyrie archetype; the twisting of the Nazgûl; debating the corporeality of Sauron; Sauron and Denethor use others for their dirty work; Ghân-buri-Ghân and other marginalized figures; woodwoses; no authorized Lord of the Rings fan fiction; Jesse wants public domain story following Gimil and Legolas on postwar adventures; Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fanfiction; Tolkien’s scholarly inside jokes; we don’t know our Greek numbers; on foils, parallels, and the integrity of Tolkien’s work; Théoden and Denethor; Gandalf’s healing power, “see the light”; Denethor’s false wisdom; Denethor passages have quality of a Greek tragedy; modern society, like Denethor, can’t see the whole picture; film portrayal of Gandalf whacking Denethor is not canon; Christ parallels and the resurrection of hope; the layering of symbolism; barrow wights and Théoden’s barrow; Korean harvest festival Chuseok; the aggression of the Tolkien estate; the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings animated movies of yore; “the hands of the king are the hands of a healer”; athelas (kings foil) to the rescue!; the king’s power to call the wounded back from the dead; the title of lore master; the last big distraction and self-sacrifice at the Black Gate; on the division of Lord of the Rings into books and volumes; on the pleasures of slow reading; more discourse on Denethor; Pippin and Merry are interchangeable (!?); even Sauron is just one evil power, parallels cyclical historical events in our world (cf. resurgence of Russia under Putin); no spoilers for Maissa!; the Mouth of Sauron’s terms, and what if Gandalf had surrendered?; Hitler, appeasement, and Alexander the Great; envisioning flamethrower guitarist from Mad Max: Fury Road at the Battle of the Black Gate;
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1)
By Jim Butcher; Narrated by Euan Morton
Imprint: Penguin Audio
Release Date: September 29, 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 21 Hours and 30 Minutes
Themes: / steampunk / magic / airship / fantasy /
Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake.
Executive Summary: Fast paced action, interesting world building, memorable characters, cool magic system. In a word: fun!
Audio book: This one was coming in with a high bar to meet. Mr. Butcher’s popular Dresden Files gets amazing performances by James Marsters. Meanwhile his Codex Alera series is done by the excellent Kate Reading.
So how does Euan Morton stack up? I’m happy to report quite well. I’ve had this pre-ordered in hardcover for months, but I think I may stick with audio if he continues as the narrator. Great voices and inflections that adds that little extra something that make an audio a great option for this book.
Jim Butcher is my favorite author. I discovered him about 8 years ago, and quickly devoured his Dresden Files books. Then I moved right into his Codex Alera series. For three blissful years there was a Dresden Files book in April and a Codex Alera book in December.
Upon completing Codex Alera, Mr. Butcher’s pace seemed to slow. I found the books as good as ever, or possibly even better, just far less frequent. At first it may anger fans of the Dresden Files that Mr. Butcher is writing something else. I’m here to tell you it shouldn’t.
This book is excellent. I’d be surprised if any fans of Mr. Butcher don’t also enjoy this. And hey, maybe writing two series at the same time will get us more excellent books to enjoy in a shorter period of time. It seems to have worked well for him in the past.
When I first heard of this series, my initial reaction was, Steampunk? Really? I must admit that I never really saw the appeal. I haven’t read a lot of the genre, but what little I had read until recently didn’t seem to be for me. My second thought was Well, I’d read Jim Butcher Twilight fan fiction if that’s what he wanted to write.
The action starts almost right from the beginning. The pace is furious, with very few points of slowing. There was never a good stopping point in my listening and I always hated to put it down. To me that’s what separates a 5 star rating from a solid 4.
We are quickly introduced to several characters. First we meet Gwen Lancaster, a young noblewoman determined to join the Spire Ark’s guard. I had a bit of a mixed reaction to her. There were times I found her frustrating, but it’s good to have a variety of characters, and Gwen helps to round things out nicely.
Next we meet Grim, the Captain of the airship Predator and various members of his crew. Grim is very much of the vein of Harry Dresden, though I see bit of Bernard from Codex Alera in him as well. He’s easily likeable, but far from the best character in my opinion.
Bridget Targwen and her cat Rawl come next. Both are fantastic, especially Rawl. All of the cats are excellent, but especially Rawl. Mr. Butcher’s cats are a bit reminiscent to me of those in Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man Trilogy. He seems to nail cats exactly. And apparently the internet is crazy for cats, so instant bestseller, right?
Finally we meet Master Etherialist Ferris, and his apprentice Folly. Folly is absolutely my favorite! She reminds me a bit of Luna Lovegood. All of her scenes are highly entertaining. She’s probably considered more of a secondary character to the first three, but I hope she continues to play a large role in the future books.
And if that’s not enough there are several other secondary and tertiary characters that are all quite good, such as Gwen’s cousin Benedict, members of the Predator: Creedy, Kettle and Journeyman and the Spire Ark himself: Lord Albion.
The antagonists are a bit cartoonish at times, especially Cavendish, but the two main Auroan soldiers felt more nuanced though.
This story is very character-driven, but Mr. Butcher has created a pretty interesting world for them to inhabit. There is very little steam powered anything though. Instead the main resource of note are Ethereal crystals. They power everything from Airships to hand weapons referred to as gauntlets.
Explanations for the world and magic systems are slowly metered out as the book goes on, but there were thankfully few info dumps. Or if there were, I was too busy enjoying myself to notice.
The book is fairly well self contained. Things end in a pretty good spot, especially considering this is the first book in a series. There are plenty of questions left to be answered, but most of the main conflicts of this book are either resolved, or put on hold nicely.
Overall if you enjoy Mr. Butcher other work, or enjoy character-driven faced paced action packed stories, pick this one up. You won’t regret it.
Now I will once again eagerly have to await the next book in two series by Mr. Butcher, much like when I first discovered him. How lucky for us all!
The SFFaudio Podcast #336 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Bryan Alexander talk about A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay
Talked about on today’s show:
the original title Nightspore Of Tormance, colouring a reading, a really weird book, William Blake meets Gene Wolfe but Scottish, H.G. Wells in the 1960s taking acid, John Bunyan meets science fiction, The Pilgrim’s Progress, do they leave the Earth?, the first five chapters, multiple resonances, future echoes, quasi-science fiction philosophy, a time travel book, a time loop, a Buddhist reincarnation story, everyone at the party, Krag, Surtur, and Shaping, a gnostic novel, re-reading the ending, Crystalman, a terrifying demi-god, a breathtaking thing, later Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer is a happy version of this story, like the Epic Of Gilgamesh, profound and disturbing, the death-toll, The Odyssey, everyone who sails with Odysseus gets killed, Maskull is a killer, a freebooter, one half Conan, detailed set-up, energetic, furious, uncontrolled, coming to self-knowledge, the demi-urge we’ve been looking for, maybe the events are co-temperanous, the events on Arcturus vs. the events on Earth, time-travel, myth, mythic time is always happening, coming to awareness, pursuit of liberation, the point of process, the 1971 movie, black and white and low budget, hippie hair on Maskull, Mr. Hair, the medium, you are about to witness a materialization, isn’t that clever?, Lindsay injected so much resonance, dream-like, everything that Nightspore says and does shows his experience level, All You Zombies, By His Bootstraps, Predestination (an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s All You Zombies), this book is about gender, female and male selves, the third gender, the Wombflash story, another version of Maskull, Joywind, a story about the human experience, Maskull = man-skull or mask-all, really profound!, like a religious text, explaining the conflicts with women, Oceaxe, Panawae, sacrificed for him, the Wikipedia chapter summaries, Starkness observatory, an observatory without telescopes!, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft, a house as a symbol for the body, climbing the observatory, he had three times the gravity, roll-up their sleeves, spitting on their wounds, this is a suicide story too, Joiwind, blood swap, blood brothers, quick sex, Crag spits on the blood, Steven Universe, naked wrestling, horseplay, matterplay, very 1960s, I Will Fear No Evil, Stranger In Strange Land, Mah-skuul, the voyage removes the masks, a total vision of the universe, explaining all of nature, Hindu reincarnation, a Promethean element, the fire of the gods, Fred Kiesche, the Ballantine publication, a sixties thing, the tower’s levels, climbing the Karmic ladder, what has need got to do with it?, each window is a life, Tormance = torment + romance or to romance, a quasi-scientific romance, Tralfamadore, Tormance as a platonic version of Earth, Eric S. Rabkin’s science fiction class, new senses, new organs, new colours, the sheer weirdness, a lake that is a musical instrument, like Ringworld, Carcosa, Jale and Ulfire (new colours), Mr. Jim Moon, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, a lack of rockets doesn’t prevent travel to the stars, a torpedo, backlight, quasi-science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs, like John Carter’s journey to Mars, like Superman under the yellow sun, a 19 hour journey, the profound understanding of the size and age of the universe, The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, deep time, massive space, the limitation of physics and limitations of matter, Violet Apple website (about David Linday), Oceaxe from Sycorax (from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), Harold Bloom’s A Flight To Lucifer, C.S. Lewis was the first and only fan of the book, a complaint about the theology?, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, wanting to find meaning in a godless or evil-godded universe, the strict rules of realism, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, a post-apocalypse novel, a game of all of human knowledge, Siddhartha, Jesse is anti-realism, after reading A Voyage To Arcturus Jesse feels uplifted, it is all wrapped up in an H.G. Wellian style explanation, the greatest joke ever, the guy attending the seance is the guy who is called forth at the seance, The Red Room, bridging the gap between the ghost story and the real science fiction philosophy quest for the purpose of existence, Cavorite, a way to get to the thing that you want, a chapter about colour theory, art theory, Eric would be interested in Joiwind’s eating habits, eating Gnallwater, philosophy of food, vegetarianism, raising animals for food, Hinterland Games’ The Long Dark, as a WWI novel, the traumatic waste, the bonding of an individual to the will of a country, the Vietnam War, go out and kill people?, explaining the seance, the U.S. Civil War, 1920s and 1930s fiction, Mrs. Dolloway by Virginia Woolf, unseated and violent, this is a guy who went to war and didn’t like what he saw, Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That, comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien’s textual texts, Lewis is more projective, Narnia, Lindsay and LEwis looking forward and Tolkien looking back, Middle Earth as the original history of Earth, Lewis looking forward, so much suicide, this book doesn’t shy away from anything, homoeroticism, Anne Leckie’s new exciting non gendered pronoun book, yeah well so does this 1920 novel, this book has everything, the third sex, gender swapping, how could this book ever make the mainstream?, Michael Bay production, Die Farbe (the German movie adaptation of The Colour Out Of Space), out on DVD-R, black and white and colour, colour changes, always travelling north, Maskull get on a train and go north to Scotland, back to Buchan, Olaf Stapledon, getting the cosmos, the universe becomes a character, The Last And First Men, Martian energy beings, Starmaker is like Edgar Rice Burroughs, massive issues of being, an ethical call to people, there’s nothing quite like it to day in fiction, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, astral projection, we’ll go to the Moon, The Crystal Egg, working with the limited physics that is possible, Star Trek, Tsiolkovsky and Goddard, Star Wars, green corpuscles, the midichlorians, an airplane/submarine, Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey, an echo of Verne and Wells, mundane science fiction, this is bullshit!, their all jobless!, this is not planetary romance, more like H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, dream rules apply, the experience of reading Gene Wolfe, mythic power with personal power, something is happening right around you.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #335 – A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, read by Mark Nelson.
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (11 hours 5 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.
A Voyage To Arcturus was first published in 1920.
Posted by Jesse Willis
By Michael Crichton; read by Scott Brick
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] 12 CD’s; 15 hrs. 9 min
Themes: / dinosaurs / adventure / cloning / DNA /
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.Until something goes wrong.…
I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this book. I guess I’ve always had my reservations because of what an impact the movie had on me as a kid. I was about 9 or 10 when the movie first came out and it blew my mind. As the book likes to point out, boys love dinosaurs and that was true.
As a side note, I’m loving how much my son (5 y.o.) loves dinosaurs. He knows so much more about them than I do, in fact his favorite is the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur I learned existed from him.
(the hipster’s T-Rex)
Now, I’ll be the first to admit my memory of of the movie is a tad hazy, but from what I do remember, the movie actually follows the book quite a bit, at least up until about 2/3 of the book where either my memory is bad or the books is completely different (oh and Grant loves kids in the book, which is … opposite). More than I would have guessed, which was not a lot.
There’s a little more detail to the initial attacks we see in the movie and it’s not quite as gruesome in parts (and much more gruesome in others). The girl gets attacked by the Compsognathus (little green dinos), or **”compys” as they’re known. **excuse my spelling, I listened to the audio and like Fox news, I don’t feel the need to fact check.
The park is just about ready to open and it’s time to get all the consultants together to make sure it’s on the right track. Thus, Grant and Sattler, Ian Malcolm, the attorney Jennaro, and a couple others are flown in.
Of course, nefarious doings are going on and a competitor wants in on the dinosaur action. In comes Dennis Nedry, who is pretty much spot on copied in the movie. Excellent job Wayne Knight. He’s pretty much built the entire IT system for the park and thus has quite a bit of control over pretty much everything. I don’t remember his involvement in the park being this extensive, but then again, I was 9. There’s a frikkin’ T-REX!!!
As we all know, everything goes to pot and we all know what goes from here. Even though the movie diverges from the book, we all know what goes on from here.
And it’s awesome. I had a blast listening to this book and Scott Brick is such a talented narrator, you don’t even notice him reading. It’s just pure story.
A couple *important* things I wanted to point out… some spoilers for the book:
1. The lawyer, Jennaro, is not as spineless as in the movie, does not get eaten while he’s sitting on the toilet by a T-Rex (okay, that was an awesome addition), and even saves the day at one point by pointing out law that doesn’t exist. (No, this sudden support for the lawyer has nothing to do with the fact that I have an Esq. on the end of my name … perish the thought)
2. Was Lex Murphy that annoying in the movie? I really don’t remember that. She’s super duper annoying in the book.
3. Ian Malcolm’s Chaos Theory should have been cut down like in the movie. There are a number of times he’s going off about it and you’re literally thinking, aren’t there dinosaurs around the corner about to eat them? Does anyone care about any theory at this time besides the theory of escaping dinosaurs? Still a great character, just weird timing of his rants about corporations and such, which I’m not disagreeing with.
(literally the only image you’re allowed to use when referring to Ian Malcolm)
4. So this book was published in 1990 and this book had maybe a total of 15 to 20 people at risk, not counting the rest of the world that could potentially be at risk by dinosaurs escaping. We’re talking people you’re honestly worried about dying or not throughout the book.
Jump to 2015, Jurassic World, and we’ve got an entire park open with thousands and thousands of people at risk. Does that say something about how our society’s penchant for destruction?
5. But seriously, back to Malcolm, Chaos Theory essentially comes down to – because dinosaurs are an unknown, and much like the weather – unpredictable – you’re all screwed and nothing will work right. And then Malcolm gloats. Even while dinosaurs are stalking him.
Now, the opposing argument in the book is that zoos exist so why can’t dinosaurs be kept in a zoo? My problem is that if everyone gave up because there was an unknown then we’d have just about nothing. People go forward with the unknown all the time. Many fail, but that’s how great success comes as well. I guess I’m saying I needed more to this theory and preferably when I can think about the theory and not when DINOSAURS ARE LITERALLY AROUND THE CORNER TRYING TO EAT YOU.
6. Jurassic Park gets lots of crap for providing false ideas as to what dinosaurs actually looked like (see raptors). While it’s true, if you ignore the story, it is explained. You know that whole science part toward the beginning, well they talk about only finding partial DNA and having to graft in DNA from other animals (which actually becomes a huge problem). This would lend toward dinosaurs that don’t actually look like they’re supposed to and I’m fine with that explanation.
I have to say, after 25 years, Jurassic Park really held up well. Lots of the communication issues would be the same problem nowadays because of the fact that they’re on a remote island that cell phones would be problematic on anyway. It helps that a book doesn’t have to actually reproduce computer screens so you can picture those as high tech as you want as long as you ignore the amounts of memory they mention. At least they’re in the gigabytes still.
And most of this I just point out because of how into the book I was. I really had a blast listening to Jurassic Park and I can highly recommend a reading of this classic. One of the few book/movie combinations where I can honestly say I loved both for their own reasons. Now, I need to go track down a copy of that movie. If only there were some online subscription service like Oyster for movies.
4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
Posted by Bryce L.