The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson

July 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

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If you want some idea as to what William Hope Hodgson’s short story, The Voice In The Night, is about first think of Samuel Taylor Cooleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

Then imagine it told at night.

Now collapse that imagined story down to a simple love story.

Let it shiver, pulse, and flow.

Add in a white mist, legions of creeping sporelings, and now imagine all that as if it was written by H.P. Lovecraft.

Now you have an idea.

SF historian Sam Moskowitz, in his introduction to it in Science Fiction By Gaslight, had some high praise for William Hope Hodgson and The Voice In The Night.

“Of the dozens of authors who wrote science fiction by gaslight, Hodgson is one of the very few a portion of whose work will endure … Within the limited range of mounting and sustaining a peak of unrequited horror, [he] achieved heights of genius.”

I’m not sure that this horror tale is going to make you think it’s SF. That’s not what I thought of when I heard it. But Moskowitz is right.

It also, I think, ably demonstrates that horror need not involve a hint violence. That said, The Voice In The Night does have violation in the form of the bloodless monster of the natural world. Others have called it a “minor classic” and I agree, it goes into the sublimely creepy depths of horror.

“Mr. Hodgson is perhaps second only to Algernon Blackwood in his serious treatment of unreality. Few can equal him in adumbrating the nearness of nameless forces and monstrous besieging entities through casual hints and insignificant details, or in conveying feelings of the spectral and the abnormal” – H.P. Lovecraft – from Supernatural Horror In Literature

LibriVoxThe Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 11, 2009
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

PseudopodPseudopod 250: The Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by Wilson Fowlie
1 |MP3| – Approx. 39 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Pseudopod
Podcast: October 7, 2011
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

Tales To TerrifyTales To Terrify No. 29: The Voice In The Night
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by Lawrence Santoro
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Tales To Terrify
Podcast: July 26, 2012
A fisherman aboard a ship caught in the doldrums of the North Pacific, on night watch in a fog-bank, hears a voice call out from the sea. The voice asks for food, but it insists it can come no closer, that it fears the light, and that God is merciful. In payment for the food it tells a tale more frightening than any I’ve ever heard around a campfire. First published in the November 1907 issue of Blue Book Magazine.

Wikisource |ETEXT|
|PDF|

Illustration by Franz Altschuler for it’s appearance in Playboy, July 1954:
The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson - Illustrated by Franz Altschuler in Playboy, July 1954

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick

July 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Counter-Clock World by Philip K. DickCounter-Clock World
By Philip K. Dick, Read by Patrick Lawlor
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1430-5
Themes: / Time travel
/ Science Fiction / Reanimation

Publisher summary:  

In Counter-Clock World, time has begun moving backward. People greet each other with “goodbye,” blow smoke into cigarettes, and rise from the dead. When one of those rising dead is the famous and powerful prophet Anarch Peak, a number of groups start a mad scramble to find him first — but their motives are not exactly benevolent, because Anarch Peak may just be worth more dead than alive, and these groups will do whatever they must to send him back to the grave.

What would you do if your long-dead relatives started coming back? Who would take care of them? And what if they preferred being dead? In Counter-Clock World, one of Dick’s most theological and philosophical novels, these troubling questions are addressed; though, as always, you may have to figure out the answers yourself.

Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick’s short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.  The bits with the terrifying librarians were particularly funny, and this reader may have laughed hysterically in her car.

Time moves backwards… but not exactly. While everyone has to unsmoke their cigarettes and disgorge their food, there are still events going on that didn’t happen before. And when a human has unaged enough that they have to go back into the womb, any old womb will do. Some of those inconsistencies make the world not as plausible as it should have been in order to focus on the story.

The world building is more successful than the characters, which are terribly flat and uninteresting. Lotta, the wife of Sebastian Hermes, the owner of the Hermes Vitarium, is particularly vapid. Of course, she’s getting younger and dumber all the time, so maybe that is to be expected. The female characters are all conniving or sniveling, and the male characters are heroic but stupid. It got old. The main plot point is about a prophet coming back to life, but that kind of gets lost in the laser battles in the library.

Patrick Lawlor is a great reader with excellent enunciation. By listening to it, I realized how often Philip K. Dick uses alliteration and adverbs, she says knowingly.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

Review of The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

July 27, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - The King of Plagues by Jonathan MaberryThe King of Plagues
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
15.5 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2011
Themes: / Horror / Assassins / Virus / Bio-engineering / Thriller /
 
 

… He paused. “Tell me again what Scofield said to you. About the river of blood.”

I closed my eyes and found the words. “‘They said that if the rivers didn’t run red with blood, then the blood of my family would run like a river.'”

“Yes. That troubles me.”

“All of it troubles me. The phrasing doesn’t match the rest of what he said. He was clearly quoting, or attempting to quote, something that was said to him. It has a distinctly biblical structure to it. Rivers running red with blood. You’re going to need a different kind of specialist to sort that out. Not my kind of job … I’m a shooter.”

When a huge London hospital is rocked by bomb blasts, thousands are dead or injured. Joe Ledger arrives to investigate and within hours is attacked by assassins and then sent into a viral hot zone during an Ebola outbreak.

Joe has tangled with zombies and he’s battled with dragons. Now he’s up against the seven plagues of Egypt, the best that bio-engineering can provide. What would the seven plagues be without a secret society concocting them for our doom? Not much, of course, and The Seven Kings have a worldwide conspiracy that will test Joe to his utmost.

I especially enjoyed the fact that, unlike the previous two books, readers do not know what the terrorists are planning. Each new attack is experienced along with Joe Ledger as unthinkable plagues descend first upon one place and then another.

That said, the book is still fairly straight-forward about most of the “mysteries” Joe encounters. A young researcher’s family connections seem obvious, as does the source of the final attack that Joe and his team must stop to save the world. Misdirection may be the hallmark of the Seven Kings but it isn’t something that Maberry seems to worry about too much. If it works, then it works. If not, well there is still a ripping good thriller to read.

Interestingly, Maberry includes a henchman with more of a conscience than one expects in a conspiracy of unfathomable evil. This follows the trend of The Dragon Factory where Paris, though capable of committing abominable individual acts, draws the line at mass destruction or EVIL as Maberry would call it. Does this mean there is lesser evil and greater EVIL? Or is it rather like saying that Hitler loved dogs so he had a good side to his personality? I’m not sure just what Maberry is getting at, but it is a very interesting development in his villains.

Villains aside, there is not a lot of character development because it simply isn’t that sort of book, although we do get a bit more light shed on the mysterious Mr. Church. I also enjoyed the addition of Joe’s dog, Ghost, who seems to have almost supernatural abilities of his own as the most perfectly trained attack dog ever. (But, let’s be fair. What other sort of attack dog could keep up with Joe?)

On the negative side, an audio book is not the ideal way to experience some of the torture used on the people forced to help The Seven Kings. It is what one expects from this sort of thriller, but one description was enough and we were treated to several. Also, the description of the Biblical plagues and the contest between Moses and the court magicians was one of the worst I’ve ever heard. It wouldn’t have taken much to remove the idea of “God teaching Moses magic” and tell the original story. It certainly would have taken nothing away from the book. However, this is quibbling and not something that is going to dampen most people’s enjoyment.

Ray Porter continues to do a pitch perfect job narratin the Joe Ledger books. His narration is a key part of the “Joe Ledger experience” for me and, as I’ve noted in other reviews, is the reason I prefer the narration to reading the book myself.

Fast paced and tightly written, The King of Plagues just might be the perfect summer superhero book. If you like your superhero as a hard-bitten shooter, with a white dog named Ghost, who likes nothing better than slaying monsters, that is.

Posted by Julie D.

REPS Podcast: CBC Stage: Fahrenheit 451 adapted from the novel by Ray Bradbury

July 27, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Fahrenheit 451

REPS PodcastThe REPS Podcast (Radio Enthusiasts Of Puget Sound) has recently podcast a 41 year old CBC radio drama that I’d never even heard had existed:

It’s Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451!

Apparently produced by CBC Radio in Vancouver, as a part of the long running “Stage” program, the drama is light on sound effects and high on fidelity to the original text.

In fact, the production is an amazingly faithful adaptation considering it’s only an hour long. Thanks REPS!

CBC StageCBC Stage – Fahrenheit 451.
Adapted from the novel by Ray Bradbury; Adapted by Otto Lowy; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 52 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio
Broadcast: March 4, 1971

Cast:*
Neal Denard … Montag
Alan Scarfe … The Fire Captain
Linda Sorenson
Sharon Kurt
Peter Hobwerth
Dorothy Davies
Merv Componi
Eric Walston
Anni Scarfe

Sound by Lars Eastholm
Technical by Bob Spence
Produced by Don Mowatt

Podcast feed: http://feeds.repspodcast.com/repsrss

Check out these terrific illustrations from the first ever serialization of a novel in Playboy (March, April, and May 1954):
Fahrenheit 451 - illustration by Ben Denison
Fahrenheit 451 - illustration by Ben Denison
Fahrenheit 451 - illustration by Ben Denison

And while were at it here’s a letter from Playboy’s May 1954 issue written by William F. Nolan:
William F. Nolan letter in Playboy, May 1954

*These are mostly guesses on the spelling of these names.

Update (January 22, 2015):

Here are the original illustrations for Ray Bradbury’s The Fireman (the novella which was later expanded into Fahrenheit 451) from Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1951 - illustration by Karl Rogers

Posted by Jesse Willis

Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar by Neil Gaiman (live reading)

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Here’s a live reading (audio only), by Neil Gaiman himself, of Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar. The story is a kind of mash up of a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore piece, that and the Cthulhu mythos, and also English pub culture.

Charles de Lint, in his review for The Magazine of Fantasy And Science Fiction (May 2005) described it thusly:

Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar is very funny — laugh out loud funny, in places — but it’s to Gaiman’s credit that it’s not a complete farce. Somehow he manages to instill a touch of creepy dread to leaven all the humor.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Posted by Jesse Willis

Earbud Theater: Neil Gaiman’s Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar AUDIO DRAMA

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Earbud TheaterEarbud Theater is a new audio drama podcast (without a podcast feed that I can spot). Casey Wolfe, who pointed it out to me, calls them “podplays” – which is a new word but and one that fits fine.

The first episode to catch my attention is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar!

Young American Ben Lassiter is touring the British coastline when he’s forced to take refuge from the rain at a pub in the town of… Innsmouth. Here he meets the peculiar Seth and Wilf who have something to teach Ben about life, Lovecraft, death and unspeakable horror. Adapted by Casey Wolfe and performed by Jake Borelli, Simon Verlaque, Rees Pugh and Joanne McCallin, please sit back and enjoy a pint of Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar.

I quite liked this 17 minute adaptation. It’s faithful to Gaiman’s original story and that’s always a good thing. But, I should point out the the MP3’s volume is too low – even wearing earbuds I had a hard time catching every bit of it.

|MP3|

Incidentally, the beverage of the title is likely inspired by a real beer with an odd taste.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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