The SFFaudio Podcast #126 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Statement Of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft

September 19, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #126 – a complete and unabridged reading of The Statement Of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Wayne June (from the Audio Realms collection The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft – Volume 3), followed by a discussion of the story. Participants include Jesse, Scott, Tamahome, Jenny Colvin (of the Reading Envy blog) and Mr. Jim Moon (of Hypnogoria.com).

Talked about on today’s show:
H.P. Lovecraft never played soccer?, Mr. Wayne June is the voice of Lovecraft, Michael Clarke Duncan has a swarthy voice, Pat Bottino’s voice might work for Lovecraft, Tama was a Lovecraft virgin until The Statement Of Randolph Carter, The Statement Of Randolph Carter is a good place to start with Lovecraft, forbidden writings, nameless things with many adjectives, Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart, a radical thesis: Harley Warren is a mean practical joker, Jesse renders the story meaningless, The Turn Of The Screw, Big Cypress Swamp, Florida, Imprisoned With The Pharaohs, alligator-men, secret places and cultists, legion (many – demons – The New Testament), The Lovecraft Vocabulary Challenge, necrophagous niter, The Cask Of Amontillado, did Randolph Carter cover up that tomb?, using The Statement Of Randolph Carter for vocabulary expansion, “hoary”, adding horror, The Silver Key, Randolph Carter is an occult thrill seeker, “we’re one lid away from total doom”, I don’t find books of forgotten lore in used bookstores, Harry Houdini’s book on the occult had an introduction written by Lovecraft!, Lovecraft’s letters, the Call Of Cthulhu RPG works differently than other RPGs, Dungeons & Dragons, From Beyond, Re-Animator, Herbert West Re-animator, it’s such a cute little horror, showing Lovecraft on screen may be best done humorously, dripping oozing ichor, China Miéville, piling on the connotations, bringing home the horror, “it was an eldritch night and I was feeling squamous”, night terrors, Tama had a nightmare that DC was going to relaunch all their comics, “Warren is calling”, what does a gelatinous voice sound like? it’s a rip-of from Poe, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, hypnotism, Warren’s theory about why certain corpses say fat and firm, Demons by John Shirley, The Unnameable, a funny riposte, “your giant zombie theory doesn’t work”, In The Mouth Of Madness, The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft, The New Cthulhu, Robert E. Howard, The Black Stone, Clark Ashton Smith, Conan lives in a Lovecraftian universe, Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, The People Of The Dark, Worms Of The Earth, Howard’s non-Lovecraftian horror, Pigeons From Hell, Howard was a collector of words and ideas, what’s the Mongolian word for sword?, Cimmeria was a real place, Lovecraft was a crafter of stories whereas Howard was a storyteller, Lovecraft’s poetry, yellow peril, The Horror At Red Hook, raging racist, respectable white folks turning into fish people, Clive Barker, “you’re one puzzle box away from doom”, dark fantasy, hidden secret magical worlds.

The Statement Of Randolph Carter by H.P. Lovecraft - illustration by Andrew Brosnatch

The Statement Of Randolph Carter

The Statement Of Randolph Carter scene in Providence, issue 8

The Statement Of Randolph Carter Illustration by Pete Von Sholly

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

September 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Audiobook - Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner DozoisWarriors
Edited by George R. R. Martin and Garner Dozois
Read by Patrick Lawlor and Christina Traister
26 CDs – 31 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2011
Themes: / Fantasy / Historical / Mainstream / Warriors /

A review by Brian Murphy.

“People have been telling stories about warriors for as long as they have been telling stories. Since Homer first sang the wrath of Achilles and the ancient Sumerians set down their tales of Gilgamesh, warriors, soldiers, and fighters have fascinated us; they are a part of every culture, every literary tradition, every genre.”
–George R.R. Martin, Warriors

There are two ways to approach the George R.R. Martin-Gardner Dozois edited anthology Warriors, one which is guaranteed to induce disappointment. If you expect a collection of swords and sorcery stories or medieval-based historical fiction, the clatter of steel on shield and heroic feats of arms, you will be disappointed. But if you keep an open mind and read it for what it is — a group of disparate genre stories all loosely connected by a warrior theme — you’ll enjoy it, and maybe more.

To be fair, the packaging on the label (a sword blade and an old gothic style script) is slightly misleading, and I admit that I was initially disappointed by the collection, my expectations placed elsewhere. But that feeling faded quickly, and by the end I was very pleased with Warriors.

In Warriors you’ll find horror, a western, and a mystery, as well as historical fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, from all ages of history including ancient Rome, the Viking Age, the medieval era, the world wars, the present, and the future. It’s hard to call this entirely a collection of genre fiction: How does one classify “The Girls from Avenger” by Carrie Vaughn, a moving story about a pilot from an all-female unit in WWII who investigates a mysterious death of a friend during a training accident? Historical fiction? Mainstream (is that a genre)? The same classification problem could be said of many other stories in here, like Peter Beagle’s “Dirae,” which follows the soul of a hospitalized woman that transcends its mortal coil by leaving her body and materializing as a kick-ass vigilante, allowing her to fight battles for the disadvantaged and the bullied.

But that’s really the entire point of Warriors. In the introduction, Martin states he was inspired to commission the anthology based on his experiences combing through the old drugstore wire spinner racks of his youth, in which you could science fiction sandwiched alongside westerns, or a bodice-ripping romance next to an Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter sword-and-planet novel.

There is nothing in Warriors that’s badly written, and in fact everything is well-done. It’s an antidote to those who think genre writing is shallow and formulaic; this collection is anything but. It’s also worth noting that every story in here is new, commissioned for the volume, so there’s no danger in reading something you’ve encountered before.

All that said, I have yet to encounter the anthology in which I liked every story. Unfortunately one of the weaker entries kicks off the volume. Even as a fan of Vikings, “The King of Norway” by Cecelia Holland did nothing for me. It features a bloody ship-to-ship engagement with no real investment in the characters involved, and the flow of battle is hard to follow, to boot. Warriors contains a couple other stories that I didn’t much care for: “The Custom of the Army” by Diana Gabaldon was too involved and seemed a thinly-veiled attempt to get readers interested in her Lord John novels. I don’t like when authors do this. “Defenders of the Frontier” was ambitious and well-done but lacked a decisive punch. War is often described as endless stretches of tedium followed by brief moments of terror. “Defenders’ explores this aspect of war, but unfortunately my overwhelming feeling upon finishing it was the same, sans terror.

Other stories are partial successes. “Out of the Dark” was shaping up as one of the most engaging and well-executed stories in the collection, but the ending (which was telegraphed enough so that it didn’t take me wholly by surprise) is too jarring, and renders the hard-fought sacrifices void. But even so I’d recommend it. I’m not so sure I could say the same for “Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik, which was well-done but a little to close to Avatar for me to completely enjoy.

The rest of Warriors was almost uniformly good, and some of the stories are absolute gems.

“The Pit” by James Rollins is written from the point of view of a domesticated dog stolen by a ruthless trainer of pit fighters, and it works. It’s a great little story that tugs at the heartstrings.

“The Eagle and the Rabbit” by Steven Saylor is another fine tale. The characterization carries the story as everyone from the sympathetic protagonist to the chief bad guy—a cruel Roman slave-driver—is memorably portrayed.

The best stories in my opinion were Joe Lansdale’s “Soldierin,” “My Name is Legion” by David Morrell, “The Scroll” by David Ball, and “The Mystery Knight” by George R.R. Martin. The only writer of this foursome with whom I had no previous acquaintance was Ball, and after reading “The Scroll” I’d certainly be interested in picking up more of his stuff. It’s about a French military engineer taken captive by the sultan of Morocco and forced to oversee the construction of a mighty city. The sultan is an absolute bastard who cruelly toys with the fates of his captives (the lucky are killed outright). At the outset of the story the sultan writes down the engineer’s fortune on a scroll, and every twist and turn in the tale seems fated by what has already been written. The execution is superb.

Morrell and Lansdale are similar writers: Both are highly competent, professional storytellers with the ability to spin compelling yarns with a very high batting average. They don’t disappoint here. “My Name is Legion” features a soldier who seeks to repent for his troubled past by entering the crucible known as the French Foreign Legion. It’s a great little story about discipline and honor and the strange fortunes of war. Lansdale is one of the best tale spinners of this or any era, as far as I’m concerned. His stuff is always gripping and visceral but suffused with humor, which certainly describes “Soldierin,” a story about an all-black unit of buffalo soldiers and a savage encounter with Apaches in the old west.

Warriors saves the best for last with “The Mystery Knight.” Martin’s story is set in his A Song of Ice and Fire world of Westeros, which is ostensibly fantasy but is deeply medieval. Heraldry, jousting, dark ages cuisine, and the knight-squire relationship are examined here in detail. The story includes a few too many characters to keep them all straight, particularly in an audio format (this is my one criticism of audio—I find it tedious to bookmark and/or flip back and forth, which is a requirement when reading a typical byzantine Martin story). But the quality of the writing is superb and stands out even in this collection of heavyweights.

Current or former Martin readers who are turned off by A) The sheer length of A Song of Ice and Fire, or B) Its unrelenting brutality (I’ve had issues with both, though I do plan to finish the series) should nevertheless enjoy “The Mystery Knight.” My first thought upon finishing it was that I wish that A Song of Ice and Fire was more like this: A little more light-hearted, with a sharper, tighter focus on the characters I care about. The hedge knight Dunk and his squire Egg are a memorable pair, and “The Mystery Knight” whet my appetite for the two previously published Dunk and Egg stories.

One final note on the audio version: Listening to Warriors was a freaking epic. It’s 26 discs and checks in at 31 hours, 13 minutes. It almost wore me down a few times. Warriors does feature two narrators — Patrick Lawlor, who narrates the stories with male protagonists, and Christina Traister, who reads those featuring women. This does help to break things up. It took a while for Lawlor to grow on me, as I found his voice much more suited to the lightheartedness of “The Mystery Knight” than some of the other, harder-edged stories. Traister was very good, particularly in her reading of “The Girls from Avenger” and the hard-edged horror/thriller “Clean Slate.”

Posted by Brian Murphy

Power Records Plaza: Man-Thing – Night Of The Laughing Dead

September 17, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Blog - Power Records PlazaI first posted about Power Records Plaza back in 2007. It looks like’s in mothballs now, perhaps it has completely fulfilled its mission? The site is dedicated to an obscure 1970s and 1980s record company named Power Records.

Here’s the cover of Power Records #16 – Man-Thing – Night Of The Laughing Dead (a story which abridges and adapts a story begun in Man-Thing #5, May 1974, written by Steve Gerber and with art by Mike Ploog and Frank Chiaramonte):

Power Records #16 - Man-Thing - Night Of The Laughing Dead

Night Of The Laughing Dead is a bizarre mix of existentialism and the supernatural. There’s a suicidal clown, the world’s strongest man, and another man that no longer reasons – one who functions only on emotion. That man is YOU …. for you are the Man-Thing!

I told you it was weird.

MP3 file of the audio DOWNLOAD FROM MEDIAFIRE

The audio is also available via WFMU |MP3|

PDF of the comic DOWNLOAD FROM MEDIAFIRE

YouTube combination of the comic and the audio – Part 1 of 2:

YouTube combination of the comic and the audio – Part 2 of 2:

[Thanks Bill!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBS Radio Mystery Theater: The Creature From The Swamp

September 16, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“Soon after ‘It‘ appeared in Unknown (the pulp mag competitor of the Weird Tales title which showcased Conan and Kull and Lovecraft), Ted Sturgeon’s name was a household word – at least if you lived in a house-hold where fantasy books lined creaking shelves. More Than Human, ‘Microcosmic God‘ and The Synthetic Man were still in the future, but it was all there – all the talent and the promise – lying there newborn and naked and writhing in a story called ‘It‘ which has never been topped in its field, and which has itself directly or in, directly spawned a virtual army,of gloopy-glop monsters which have infiltrated nearly every comics company which ever went into hock for a four-color printing press.”

-From an essay entitled A Somewhat Personal Pronouncement by Roy Thomas (found in Supernatural Thrillers #1 – December 1972)

The Creature From The Swamp

If there is a concise history of fictional wetland creatures with non-specific pronoun-noun names I’m not aware of it. Be it an IT, a MAN-THING or a SWAMP THING I’ve a a real HEAP of fascination for the merging (or emerging) of man-like-life from decay and vegetable matter.

Here’s a brief timeline of my own devising:

August 1940 – Street & Smith’s Unknown Fantasy Fiction -> It! by Theodore Sturgeon
(a composite being of mud, mold, decaying foliage surrounds a human skeleton and comes alive)

1942 – Hillman Periodicals -> The Heap
(the will of a WWI flying ace clings “to the smallest shred of life through sheer force of will” and arises from swamp muck in a rotted body intermingled with vegetation)

May 1971 – Marvel Comics -> Man-Thing
(a “slow-moving, empathic, humanoid” that had once been a man arises)

July 1971 – DC Comics -> Swamp Thing
(a plant elemental awakens)

December 1972 – Marvel Comics -> Supernatural Thrillers -> A comics adaptation of the original It!

March 1974 – CBS Radio Mystery Theater -> The Creature From The Swamp

I really enjoyed this production from CBS Radio Mystery Theater’s first season. It is obviously inspired by its predecessors but it also incorporates some earlier mythology to good, and mysterious effect.

Go now, follow Larry Drake, a man burned by the flames of the past, follow him into the swamp. See what fate befalls him. See what fate befalls the beautiful woman he rescues from a frightening creature that lays waiting within the marshy depths of the Devil’s Cauldron.

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBS Radio Mystery Theater – #0053 – The Creature From The Swamp
By Ian Martin; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: March 7, 1974
Provider: CBSRMT.com

Cast:
Robert Dryden
Jack Grimes
Leon Janney
Joan Loring

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs

September 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I read The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs in the book called SHOCKS edited by Burton Goodman. It was different, less detailed, than the Project Gutenberg edition. There are five actors playing all the characters in the audiobook below.

LibriVoxThe Monkey’s Paw
By W.W. Jacobs; Read by David Barnes, Stuart Pyle, Cori Samuel, Jim Mowatt, Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: March 2, 2007
|ETEXT|

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-monkeys-paw-by-ww-jacobs.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Kevin Long

LibriVox: The Big Time by Fritz Leiber

September 16, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Narrator Karen Savage has finished her SFFaudio Challenge #5 audiobook, calling The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber, “A classic locked room mystery, in a not-so-classic setting.” And she’s right about that, this is an SF/Mystery classic.

Fritz Leiber says, in his 1982 introduction to The Big Time, that the novella was written over the course of exactly 100 days in 1956 and 1957.

For more on the plot |READ OUR REVIEW| of the Audible Frontiers edition. Savage has a great voice, this is an amazingly clear recording, and she affects a very serviceable set of intonations and accents for the half dozen or so characters with speaking parts in this excellent reading. My only complaint, as with the Audible edition, Savage does not use the tune of Lili Marlene for the reading of the lyrics at the end of chapter 3. Oh well.

LibriVoxThe Big Time
By Fritz Leiber; Read by Karen Savage
16 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: September 16, 2011
|ETEXT|
You can’t know there’s a war on—for the Snakes coil and Spiders weave to keep you from knowing it’s being fought over your live and dead body! First published in Galaxy Science Fiction’s March and April 1958 issues.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/5355

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Here’s Ed Emshwiller’s cover for the Ace Double (D-491) edition of The Big Time:

Ace Double D-491 - The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - cover by Ed Emshwiller

Here are the stunning Virgil Finlay illustrations from the original Galaxy publications:

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

The Big Time by Fritz Leiber - Illustrated by Virgil Finlay

[Thanks also to AnnSterling]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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