The Thing At Nolan by Ambrose Bierce

May 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Virtually all of Bierce’s tales are tales of horror; and whilst many of them treat only of the physical and psychological horrors within Nature, a substantial proportion admit the malignly supernatural and form a leading element in America’s fund of weird literature.”

-H.P. Lovecraft, from Supernatural Horror In Literature

A 1,500 word horror tale by Ambrose Bierce, typically bundled as the final of seven short horror stories, under the collective “Some Haunted Houses”, The Thing At Nolan was first published on its own. And that’s why I’ve edited up a special The Thing At Nolan from a larger LibriVox version.

The Thing At Nolan by Ambrose BierceThe Thing At Nolan
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: 2006
First published in San Francisco Observer, August 2, 1891.

And here’s a |PDF|.

There’s also a CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, adapted by actor Arnold Moss! It fills in a lot of the details from the very sketchy sketch of Bierce’s original story. Moss also takes a role!

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBSRMT #0920 – The Thing At Nolan
Adapted from the story by Ambrose Bierce; Adapted by Arnold Moss; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 20, 1978
Source: CBSRMT.com
When a father vanishes while digging a ditch in frontier Missouri, suspicions fall on the rebellious son who recently threatened him with bodily harm. His mother believes his claims of innocence, but the rest of the townsfolk do not.

Cast:
Court Benson
Russell Horton
Arnold Moss
Bryna Raeburn

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Deathworld by Harry Harrison

May 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

deathworldDeathworld
By Harry Harrison; Read by Jim Roberts
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
6 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / gambler / psionic abilities / planetary worlds / planetary colonists /

Publisher summary:

Professional gambler Jason dinAlt, who has ‘psionic’ abilities, is hired to win a great deal of money for a mysterious and very imposing stranger. When he ‘breaks the bank’ their expertly timed escape gets them off-world just in time. The gambler learns he has helped the dwellers of Pyrrus, otherwise known as ‘Deathworld’ – a planet that appears to be fighting and trying to destroy its inhabitants. Intrigued, he determines to see this world and learn its secrets. He discovers that there are colonists who live outside the embattled city who are not under constant and ever evolving attack from the planet. Jason’s efforts to help the city dwellers and re-unite the two planetary groups before they are all destroyed makes for a gripping listen.

Deathworld is one of Harry Harrison’s early books written in the finest tradition of the pulps with a forced romance and a flimsy excuse, but highly entertaining nevertheless. Jason dinAlt, the psionic gambler with a heart of gold, decides to go the the deadliest known planet in the universe due to a fit of malaise and stays there in spite of a rather tedious training period (made more enjoyable if you imagine Eye of the Tiger playing in the background). However, once he gets released into the general population, the mystery of Pyrrus picks up and it’s certainly a mystery I never suspected.

Pyrrus itself, presumably named after the war of attrition being fought there, is a dreadful world where even the plants can kill you, but the ingenuity of the planet’s lethalness and the two societies it has created are a nice backdrop to the adventure plot. Our exposure to the wildlife is more limited than I’d like with the focus being on the warfare instead. The relationship between the aptly named Junkmen and Grubbers is much more developed and is one of the most interesting elements of the story. Their mutual hostility reflects the tension between industrialism and agrarianism that is always prevalent in developing civilizations.

The characters themselves are mostly flat and underdeveloped, everyone according to their role and no more. Meta, Jason’s love interest, is especially annoying to me, though that may have been because of the complete lack of chemistry between her and Jason. She feels like a perfunctory character whose actions and reactions are dictated by the needs of the story rather than any sort of internal motivation. Jason, too, doesn’t have much a character arc (although I trust he isn’t as bored by the end as he was before Pyrrus). As a gambler he’s willing to put his life on the line for a hunch but his investment in the fate of the world is never fully explained beyond a general sense of goodwill. Still, what is character development in the face of carnivorous plants, poisonous animals, murderous bacteria, and the perpetual threat of volcanic eruptions? I’m not going to read a book called Deathworld for characters talking about their feelings.

Should you feel inclined to listen to this book, I don’t recommend this audiobook. The narrator, a Mr. Jim Roberts, was flat, boring and completely wrong for the tough characters and fast-paced action. It felt like I was being read to by a New York accountant, a well-meaning but unsuccessful uncle. The characters all sound the same and no attempt is made to put emotion into them. With a story like this, the right narration can really make or break it. I’d recommend either reading the book yourself or finding another version of the audiobook.

Posted by Rose D.

Review of The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination edited by John Joseph Adams

May 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Mad Scientist's Guide to World DominationThe Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Performed by Stefan Rudnicki, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Justine Eyre
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
16 hours [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: / mad scientists / science / superheroes / villains /

Publisher summary:

Mad scientists have never had it so tough. In super-hero comics, graphic novels, films, TV series, video games, and even works of what may be fiction, they are besieged by those who stand against them, devoid of sympathy for their irrational, megalomaniacal impulses to rule, destroy, or otherwise dominate the world as we know it. Dr. Frankenstein was the first truly mad scientist of the modern era. And what did it get him? Destroyed by his own creation. And Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, a man ahead of his time as well as out of his head — what did he do to deserve persecution? Even Lex Luthor, by all accounts a genius, has been hindered not once, not twice, but so many times that it has taken hundreds of comic books, a few films, and no fewer than ten full seasons of a television series to keep him properly thwarted. It’s just not fair. So those of us who are so twisted and sick that we love mad scientists have created this guide. Some of the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but you’ll recognize them. It doesn’t matter, though. This guide is not for you. It’s for them: the underhanded, over-brained paranoiacs who so desperately need our help. What lies behind those unfocused, restless eyes and drooling, wicked grins? Why — and how — do they concoct their nefarious plots? Why are they so set on taking over the world? If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck, because we are exposing their secrets, aiding and abetting their evil. It all awaits, within. Watch out, world!

Full table of contents on editor’s site.

I really enjoyed the first half of the stories in the collection but thought things got less interesting/slower in the second half. It may have been that some stories shared some similarities and the repetition got tiresome, but I don’t think so. I think it was actually that the second half of the stories had more of a serious tone to them that just didn’t go as well with me as the more humorous first half.

I really liked Chris Claremont’s introduction to the book. I thought it brought some interesting insights into why the bad guy is so important for the hero. I thought John Joseph Adams’ introductions to each story were helpful although a bit confusing in the audiobook format (it took a few stories before I understood what the heck was going on with the scientific categorization). I thought they helped me get into the story faster since I kind of knew what to expect and I do think I enjoyed the short stories more as a result. Some would say they spoil the stories but I didn’t think they revealed any more than the back of a novel would about its story.

There are 22 stories in this collection. Many are humorous and have interesting spins on the common tropes you’d expect from mad scientist or superhero stories. I generally liked all the stories but I’d say my favorites were Professor Incognito Apologizes, The Angel of Death Has a Business Plan, Captain Justice Saves the Day, and Rocks Fall.

I didn’t overly dislike any stories except for The Space Between by Diana Gabaldon. The story is by far the longest and I had trouble following the different character’s stories and understanding the point of the story. It appears that story is from a series by her so it may be that I didn’t like it because I haven’t read her other works.

I thought all three readers did a fantastic job with their voice acting in this collection. I would definitely listen to books performed by these readers again. I particularly liked Mary Robinette Kowal’s performances. She does a great job doing voices of people trying to be patient with the mad scientists – whether it be their therapist, assistant, or fellow evil genius.

Various sites have posted some of the stories online to read for free, compiled on the editor’s site, and those would be a good litmus test if this is the book for you. Professor Incognito Apologizes: an Itemized List by Austin Grossman is a great example of the more humorous offerings and The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss is a good example of the more serious stories.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Space Casey by Christiana Ellis

May 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Space Casey audio drama Space Casey
By Christiana Ellis; Performed by a full cast
10 Episode Podcast Series – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: SpaceCasey.com
Podcast: 2007
Themes: / Science Fiction / Humor /

Some heroines will steal your heart… This one will steal your wallet.”

Space Casey is a 10-part audiodrama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama.

Pure nostalgia took me back to this really fun little audio drama. Listening to Mur Lafferty read The Shambling Guide to New York City made me recall the other Podiobooks I discovered with such pleasure.

The story follows con artist Casey as she boosts a spaceship from a greenhorn. Problem is, the spaceship was programmed to take off for uncharted territories. Uncharted to humans that is. I won’t say more about the plot other than we see Casey rise to new heights as she struggles to return to human space with all the odds against her. Never was her ability to con people (and aliens and robots and spaceships) more necessary for her survival.

This is a lot of fun and I found myself laughing aloud several times. I absolutely love Christiana Ellis’s sense of humor and narration. She also got a lot of voice talent assistance from other well-known Podiobooks and podcasting talent. I had fun seeing if I could identify them before the credits at the end.

Perfect summer fun, or actually fun for whenever you’re listening.

Podiobooks link
http://podiobooks.com/title/space-casey/

Christiana Ellis’ link
http://christianaellis.com/?page_id=559

Posted by Julie D.

Listen To Genius: Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti

May 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I listened to a great episode of BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time about Christina Rossetti recently. I was fascinated by their brief discussion of her poem Goblin Market. Melvyn Bragg and guests described it as:

‘celebrated, fascinating, bizarre, extraordinary, powerful, strange, lascivious, and religious.’

I tracked down a reading, a very good one, and I think you’ll agree it is really amazing!

This poem is totally sexual, yet does not feature a word of sex. Full of lesbianism, incest, fruit and at least nine kinds of wow!

Listen To Genius!Goblin Market
By Christina Rossetti; Read by Kate Reading
1 |MP3| – Approx. 23 Minutes [POETRY]
Publisher: Redwood Audiobooks (Listen To Genius)
Published: 2008?
Source: Listen To Genius
Lizzie and Laura are two innocent sisters inhabiting a beautiful “per-raphaelite” fairy tale pastoral land. They hear the calls of the goblin men, sample the fruit once, buy’s a curl of her hair. First published in 1862.

Here’s a |PDF| featuring illustrations by Rossetti’s brother.

And behold a snippet from John Bolton‘s gorgeous 1983 comics adaptation of Goblin Market:

Goblin Market ilustration by John Bolton

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #214 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

May 27, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #214 – The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft; read by the fabulous Mike Bennett. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novella (3 hours 2 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Hoverson, and Mr. Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
My only holy book, Deities & Demigods, Deep Ones, Dagon, serving the will of Cthulhu, “they can only be killed by violent death”, why are they evil, seafood, miscegenation, the war on alcohol, they like to drink and wear jewelry, are there Deep Ones in Guantanamo Bay?, only crackers and soup, Innsmouth, Massachusetts, Captain Obed Marsh, persuaded to breed with a deep one, immortality, 19th century, “festering quietly”, “a nice family reunion”, why is The Shadow Over Innsmouth so cherished?, Call Of Cthulhu The Dark Places Of The Earth, a Skyrim mission, Dagon and Mother Hydra, Dagon, New England Tahitians, Walter Gilman in The Dreams In The Witch House, The Thing On The Doorstep, Doctor Who’s The Sea Devil is The Shadow Over Innsmouth with less schtupping, The Silurians, can’t go wrong with a good sea monster, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Julie’s adaptation will have more sex!, Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, g-men, an Esoteric Order Of Dagon style-cult, a traumatic read, the end, the film of Dagon (set in Spain), Stuart Gordon, Castle Freak is one of the best dramatic Full Moon films, the Masters Of Horror adaptation of The Dreams In The Witch House, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society adaptation (Dark Adventure Radio Theatre), the framing story, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, who is our protagonist confessing to?, Double Indemnity, heredity and atavism, 1920s, 1930s, Zadok Allen, Julie’s adaptation of The Rats In The Walls, The Picture In The House, female characters in Lovecraft, Cool Air, Lovecraft cares about words, House Of The Dead, the San Juan Islands, the naming of islands, Lovecraft crafts with love, August Derleth!, “the full gibbous moon”?, racism, the “Gilman Inn” is a pun, The Whisperer In Darkness, he’s there for the architecture, “reluctant fascination”, that old uncle who smells weird, The Shuttered Room by August Derleth, the worst fanfic writer ever, posthumous collaboration, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, The Harbor-Master by Robert W. Chambers, an inbred wild-man, local rednecks, “a bit too close to the sea”, an economic depression, isn’t it a good deal?, arranged marriages, what’s with the Innsmouth Chamber Of Commerce?, in the Octopus’ garden, Brown Monkey, Dick Dynamo: The Fifth Dimensional Man, meta, 118 Migration, Afterlives (a Bangsian fantasy), the golden era of internet audio drama, a new idea, Hypnobobs, classics vs. moderns, old books have vocabulary, Jack London, MTV saturated audiences?, Goodreads reviews of Dracula, Fifty Shades Of Grey, atheist vicars?, the stress on the importance of reading may breed bad books, teachers pick books with big social value, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, turning kids off literature, Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, using Robinson Crusoe as a guide to life, police procedural, obstreperous, The Murders At The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, the audiobook of The Moonstone.

Weird Tales, May 1942 (Canadian edition)

The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft WEIRD TALES - Canadian - Edmond Good

The Shadow Over Innsmouth - illustration by Hannes Bok

Deep One from Dieties & Demigods

The Shadow Over Innsmouth - illustration by Frank Utpatel

Neonomicon by Allan Moore and Jacen Burrows

The Shadow Over Innsmouth - illustration by Bernie Wrightson

Posted by Jesse Willis

Next Page »