If you’re a fan of good narration, and creepy short stories about witches, check out Bob Neufeld’s reading of The Hollow Of The Three Hills by Nathaniel Hawthorne. He’s a veteran narrator, with good taste is stories, and a terrific voice.
There is an “excellent” and extensive German Wikipedia entry on The Hollow Of The Three Hills – sadly, an English Wikipedia entry does not even exist.
The Hollow Of The Three Hills
By Nathaniel Hawthorne; Read by Bob Neufeld
1 |MP3| – Approx. 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
First published in The Salem Gazette, November 12, 1830.
And here’s a |PDF|.
Posted by Jesse Willis
I previously pointed you toward two outstanding stories that influenced HBO’s True Detective. But there’s actually a complete recording of the entire book of The King In Yellow, by Robert W. Chambers, available on LibriVox. It’s broken up into two parts:
In my researches I also found some illustrations from a 1902 publication of The King In Yellow, have a look:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Listen to Mr Jim Moon‘s epic narration of the science book Dinosaurs by Colin Douglas (the illustrations are by B.H. Robinson).
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show: H.P. Lovecraft’s essay Supernatural Horror in Literature; the House as a character in the novel; the novel’s memorable characters; The Scarlet Letter is “a sentence, a trial unto itself”; the novel’s modern resonance; Jim Crow gingerbread; setting and character trump plot; the rambling plot imitates life; Hawthorne’s subtle use of humor; Hepzibah = Lovecraft?; the family chickens, Chanticleer is an allusion to Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale; Chanticleer dredges up John’s horrible memories of Rock-a-doodle; comparison to various Lovecraft stories; Hawthorne’s characters are concepts, but well-drawl concepts; allegory with depth à la Tolkien; atavistic guilt; hypnotism, mesmerism, and phrenology, oh my!; phenomena as fads in science fiction and popular culture; Edgar Allen Poe’s work, especially The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar and Fall of the House of Usher; Arthur Conan Doyle is to spiritualism as Glenn Danzig is to Satanism; The X-Files, “I Want to Believe”; John Keats’s theory of negative capability; Mark F. Smith’s LibriVox narration; man’s identity tied to real estate; a Marxist reading of the novel; the house as metaphor for the human heart; Pennsylvania and the great American land grab; the novel’s peculiarly Puritan nature; real-life Pynchon family ancestors of author Thomas Pynchon; inspiration for the fictional house now a tourist attraction; Hawthorne’s defense of writing a romance in the novel’s preface; the novel’s horrendous screen adaptations and slightly better comic book adaptations; The Haunting of Hill House; the power of interpretive haunting; revival of the Gothic tradition e.g. in The Duchess of Duke Street; Hawthorne plays amazing tricks with point of view; “guns are America’s pit bulls”; Joe Hill’s Locke and Key.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Themes: / near future / technology / thriller /
The New York Times bestselling author of Daemon–”the cyberthriller against which all others will be measured” –(Publishers Weekly) –imagines a world in which decades of technological advances have been suppressed in an effort to prevent disruptive change. Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century–fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common disease, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances–have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960′s failed to arrive? Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few. Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they’ve been working toward for years: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics–the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission. They are living in our future. Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady balks, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age? And when they do, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?
Influx is a techno-thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole way through. The question of what happens when a small group is allowed to hoard technological advances is very interesting here – is it all really for the greater good? The tone of this book reminded me a bit of Michael Crichton but a bit less thriller and a bit heavier on the speculative science/technology. The story kept up a pretty good pace throughout and did not slow down much even once the mystique of the fantastical technology was revealed.
Whenever I read/listen to a techno-thriller, there is this anticipation of what the technology at work is and how it has become this terrible thing that must be defeated or survived for the rest of the book. That anticipation almost always delivers but some books slow down after that reveal happens. There was a moment or two with Influx that I thought that could happen but Daniel Suarez did a great job of keeping parts interesting that could have been pretty dry. It does mention the prison in the description of the book and I didn’t know if I was in store for a The Count of Monte Cristo..thankfully the prison time was just about as interesting as the rest.
There are many technologies at play in this novel and Suarez made great use of them for some good suspense and actions sequences using them. The only small gripe I had with the novel is that the technologies work too well. Sure they have some really bright minds working on these things but to turn around production quality material in so little time, covertly, and for those things to seemingly not have glitches is kind of unbelievable (even for fiction). There were a couple of minor holes in the usage but overall it was really well done.
As for the audio performance, Jeff Gurner did a good job doing voices for the character and narration. He was always clearly understood and the voices were distinct enough that I could usually tell which character was doing the talking. I would enjoy listening to other books narrated by Jeff Gurner.
Posted by Tom Schreck
Themes: / fantasy / magic / crystals / visions / aliens /
Two hundred years after the Forbidding was broken, Santhenar is locked in war with the lyrinx – intelligent, winged predators who will do anything to gain their own world. Despite the development of battle clankers and mastery of the crystals that power them, humanity is losing. Tiaan, a lonely crystal worker in a clanker manufactory, is experimenting with an entirely new kind of crystal when she begins to have extraordinary visions.
The crystal has woken her latent talent for geomancy, the most powerful of all the Secret Arts – and the most perilous. Falsely accused of sabotage by her rival, Irisis, Tiaan flees for her life. Struggling to control her talent and hunted by the lyrinx, Tiaan follows her visions all the way to Tirthrax, greatest peak on all the Three Worlds, where a nightmare awaits her.
The start of this book was promising, but things went off the rails. Then, just as they seemed to be recovering, I found the end to be awful. I think my main problem this book is the characters and their dialogue. In part one of the book Mr. Irvine introduces us to several characters that I despised almost immediately. In part two he seems to be trying to elicit sympathy from the reader via self-pity from internal monologue and sympathetic back story. It might work for some readers, but not for me. At best instead of coming around to like the characters as complex and flawed, I find myself mostly indifferent about what might happen to them.
The main character is mostly likable, although some of her thoughts rubbed me the wrong way. I assume this is another attempt to give her depth through flaws instead of being a hero trope. Maybe my dislike of almost all the characters is just an inability for me to understand their society, but I doubt it. The most likable characters are minor ones who don’t seem to stick around very long. It’s really hard for me to enjoy a book when I don’t like the people I’m reading about.
The main story is interesting. The world is at war with much more powerful alien creatures. Humanity have built machines called clankers in order to be able to fight back, but they are still mostly outmatched. At first this seems more like sci-fi than fantasy, but the clankers are powered by crystals and there a mostly unexplained magical system based on them and their connection to power nodes around the world. So really it’s some sort of mix that has more of a fantasy feel than science fiction.
There are a lot of political and social issues that play into things. With so many young men dying in a seemingly endless war, everyone is expected to produce children to essentially provide the next generation of fodder. Anyone accused of a crime is sent to one of two places depending on their gender. Males are sent to the front lines where they will likely die in short order. Women are sent to “breeding factories” which are exactly what they sound like. Entirely too much time was spent on the breeding factories, and the notion of a society so desperate to survive they force women to sleep numerous partners in the hopes of producing the most helpful offspring as frequently as possible is downright horrifying to me.
This is apparently the second series of Mr. Irvine’s Three Worlds sequence. Having never read the first (The Mirror Quartet), I’m sure I’m missing some references to things from that series. My understanding is this is set hundreds of years later, and possibly on a different world. I never felt lost but it’s possible I would understand more about the crystals and their powers if I had read that series first.
Overall it wasn’t a very good book and it was not as well executed as I would have liked. I found myself cringing at some of the writing in places, especially the dialogue. The ending of the book really was really off-putting – it felt like a bad soap opera on television.
Grant Cartwright, the narrator, is the only bright spot of the book, and a large part of me being able to get through the worst parts. I’m not sure if he exclusively reads books targeted at an Australian audience, but if so that’s a shame. He does a good amount of voices for the various characters and his normal reading voice is clear and easy to understand. Some of his voices are grating, but I think that’s fitting for the characters he is portraying. Maybe this partnership between Bolinda and Random House will bring more of his work to North America. I’d like to see what he does with a better book.
Review by Rob Zak.