Review of The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 1: The Dunwich Horror and The Call of Cthulhu by H.P Lovecraft

October 31, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

Horror Audiobooks - The Dunwich Horror and The Call of the CthulhuThe Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 1: The Dunwich Horror and The Call Of Cthulhu
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Wayne June
3 CDs – Approx 3.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: 2005
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Gods / Evil / Mathematics / Dreams /

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

When Fantasy is inspired by science it can be especially powerful. H.P. Lovecraft built his mythos using the scientific concepts of his day. There could have been sensible talk of ‘other dimensions’ before the experiments surrounding the nature of light. And much of the alienness of his creations explicitly depend on such concepts in theoretical physics as non-euclidian geometry. With these concepts being in the air Lovecraft set out to plant a seed of churning fear with his fiction – turning the many unknowns science was uncovering into unspeakable horrors that lurk within the imagination. Combine this with Lovecraft’s dense and brooding prose and you’ve got something that no modern author could get away with. No modern author could, Lovecraft does. Audio Realms is starting to release the titles that make any classic fantasy fan salivate. Here in this terrific audiobook are two tales of horror that we declare to be SFFaudio Essential:

The Dunwich Horror is the tale of a backwater New England town with a devolving populace and one particularly strange family’s chronicle. It starts with two small things. The cataloguing of some mouldering old books and a disturbing birth of a new resident. These events are the begining of a new danger for the hamlet of Dunwich and possibly the Earth entire. What’s interesting here, as with so many early horror tales, is that Lovecraft creates evil not by revealing action directly but by atmosphere and appeal to our primitive revulsion reflex. Lovecraftian evil is not something created by moral degeneracy (though he does talk of that), but rather by sheer alieness, an atmosphere of ignorance and most of all a lurking dread.
I’m not sure it would make much sense to be an apologist for the Elder Gods who’d consume us without a thought – but what exactly makes them so evil? Since everyone who finds out has their sanity blasted we’re not likely to find out very soon.

The Call Of Cthulhu is a reconstructed tale. A nephew finds in the his recently deceased uncle’s study some strange documents. A young nephew discovers in his recently deceased uncle’s study some correspondences and notes, along with a mysterious and disturbing statue. It seems that several mysteriously similar cults worship of a being, who they call Cthulhu. A sea voyage eventually yielded a brush with an unearthly force. I won’t reveal any more of the plot, but I will say this, I think Philip K. Dick may have been inspired by this story for his novel Galactic Pot Healer. This creepy tale is perhaps the definitive Lovecraftian work. They even named a great role playing game after it. One suggestion, this one is pretty scary, you may want to wear brown pants while listening.

Narrator Wayne June’s voice will give you the absolute lurking creeps. His deep raspy voice is also used to good effect for all the narration, when he is infrequently called upon to do the voices of the damned he distinguishes between them well. This is the best Lovecraft adaptation to audio I’ve heard and more frightening than hell. For full effect a listener should turn down the lights, put on a good set of headphones, sit in a lonesome room with a view of the sea and pray that Lovecraft was just making all this stuff up.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Statement of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft

October 31, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Horror Audiobooks - The Statement of Randolph CarterThe Statement Of Randolph Carter
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Bill Mills
1 MP3 File – Approx. 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Renaissance E Books / REB Audio
Published: 2005
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror /

“Carter! for the love of God, put back the slab and get out of this if you can! Quick!–leave everything else and make for the outside–it’s your only chance! Do as I say, and don’t ask me to explain!”

An excellent introductory mini-biography of Lovecraft precedes the reading of this infamous short story of lurking horror. Written in 1919 and first published in 1920 The Statement Of Randolph Carter is one of the best ways to step into the terrible beauty of the Lovecraftian mythos. Told as a statement in monologue by the title character – Carter recalls to the gentlemen assembled around his hospital bed the singular incident that brought him there – an event so horrific it would likely blast the mind of the sanest man should it be witnessed first hand. Following the clues they found in the text of an ancient book from India two men discover a nameless horror entombed in the Earth. Bill Mills’ reading is truly eerie. There is a constant musical background during the reading – it doesn’t too badly hurt the production but I myself would have preferred a music-free reading. The Statement Of Randolph Carter is available now as a high quality MP3 through just in time for Halloween!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Eileen, AKA "E" of The Public Domain Podcast wra…

October 29, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Eileen, AKA “E” of The Public Domain Podcast wrapped up her first novel recently.

The Master Of The World
By Jules Verne; Read by Eileen

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Not from Space

October 28, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Not From SpaceNot From Space
Produced by Borgus
2 CDs – 108 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Borgus
Published: 2002
ISBN: None
Themes: / Science Fiction / Satire / Radio / Greed /

We join Earth during the year 2000. The economic boom, advanced technology is prospering, and everyone is focused on… themselves.
Not From Space Introduction

Not from Space is not your typical fare. Uniqueness in audio is something I haven’t come across in a long while, and here it is. With that said, I’ve got the task here of telling you what Not From Space is, and I can’t think of a way to describe it without making it sound like so many other radio shows. But here goes: Not From Space tells the story of alien invasion entirely through newscasts. Sounds pretty common, eh? Told you.

But again, Not From Space is not your typical fare. At the very beginning, for example, is a brilliant piece of satire as talk show hosts announce that Bill Gates is going to give away computers to “foreigners”, then take calls from people that are really upset about it. I’ve heard enough talk radio to be able say that this bit really hit home, from the encouragement of the hosts to the logic of the callers. And that’s what makes Not From Space so atypical – it is full of pieces that hit home.

The entire story is told through the news radio station. There is no traditional dialogue between characters, just news told to listeners. Jeffrey Bays, in a talk about the show which is included at the end of the production, says that the show is meant to be listened to in the background, much like a real radio station would be. There are so many interesting moments that popped out as I listened, and the more I listen, the more things I notice.

The show was produced in a unique manner as well. It was entirely created on the internet using a world-wide cast of 15 voice actors trading MP3 files. It sounds wonderful – a very accurate simulation of a radio station, right down to the commercials, which in this case are a pleasure to hear.

Borgus has captured the feel of an American talk radio station to tell a story with a point. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to listening again.

Not From Space will be heard on XM Satellite Radio’s Sonic Theater, Channel 163 this Halloween weekend:
-Saturday October 29 at 9am/9pm (US-Eastern)
-Monday October 31 at 5am, 1pm, and 9pm (US-Eastern)

You can also get a copy on audio CD from Borgus.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Fifth Sorceress by Robert Newcomb

October 27, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 


Fantasy Audiobooks - The Fifth Sorceress by Robert NewcombThe Fifth Sorceress
By Robert Newcomb; Read by Simon Jones
5 CDs – 6 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 0553713922
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic /

“It is more than three centuries since the ravages of a devastating war nearly tore apart the kingdom of Eutracia. In its wake, those who masterminded the bloodshed-a quartet of powerful, conquest-hungry Sorceresses-were sentenced to exile, with return all but impossible and death all but inevitable. Now a land of peace and plenty, protected and guided by a council of immortal wizards, Eutracia is about to crown a new king. And as the coronation approaches, the spirit of celebration fills every heart. Except one.”

Ya, mine! That’s mostly a joke, mostly. Overall this novel wasn’t terrible. I didn’t have my mind wander off too often, and whenever it did Newcomb would throw a shocking scene at it to bring me back. But I have a number of problems with The Fifth Sorceress:

1. It is yet another in the irrepressibly publishable world-saving magic fest novels. You know the kind where some editor says, “Wait I know, let’s tell another Tolkien story, but not do it as well.” Ya that kind.

2. The pseudo-mystic blood based magic system at the story’s core. This magic system has provenance which could have come straight from bullshit artist Madame Blavatsky. Untrue is not a possible criticism of fiction so I’ll just say “distasteful”. It might be possible or even interesting to tell a story like this straight faced, but it’d have to be with a damn impressive point to it. This didn’t.

3. Magic use. Generic and temporary bodily weakness seems to be the only consequence of the use of magic. Depressing in its unoriginality.

4. Women “of the blood” are always evil and men “of the blood” always good. So much for subtlety and complexity in gender relations. Newcomb could have done a lot more with his bifurcated magic system than making it bad girls vs. good guys.

5. The cookie-cutter world itself. Planets full of improbably named bodies of water and calcified quasi-medieval governments don’t do much for me – not after the 40 or 50th iteration of them anyway. Be more creative please.

Despite these problems there are some genuinely original and shocking scenes peppered throughout the novel and Newcomb handles these all well. Another point in its favor is that Newcomb doesn’t leave the reader hanging at the end, even though this is the first book in a series. Leaving us hanging is something he could have done in an attempt to get us to read the next installment in “The Chronicles of Blood And Stone” series. He leaves open the possibility for you to read on but doesn’t punish you by withholding an ending.

On the audio end, this is a fully digital recording so The Fifth Sorceress sounds phenomenal. But the real kudos goes to narrator Simon Jones (of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy fame) who does a fine job keeping the aural end up. When he voices the hapless Prince Tristan he invokes his old Arthur Dent persona. The centuries old wizard named Wigg sounds like a more put-upon Gandalf and most of the females voiced by Jones sound either wicked or seducing or both at the same time – a neat trick. If you’re in the mood for a light listen The Fifth Sorceress may suit you. Overall I really can’t say I hated it. I credit this mostly to the abridger. The abridgement may, in fact, have made an hefty and mostly indigestible novel far more palatable. After all that can you believe I’m going to attempt the sequel?

Posted by Jesse Willis

Miss Star Trek: Enterprise? Try a podcast! Star…

October 26, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Miss Star Trek: Enterprise? Try a podcast!

Star Trek: Pioneers is fan audio series created by Pioneer Audio Productions. Several episodes have been produced so far (they started back in 2004). The sound effects and music are excellent, the writing good and the acting, like all amateur productions, is mostly amateurish, flat but always earnest. Not bad at all considering!

But I do have one reservation, can anyone explain to me why Decks 5 and 7 on Federation ships are always getting hull breaches?

Posted by Jesse Willis

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