A Night in Whitechapel, Was It a Dream?, Caterpillars, John Mortonson’s Funeral
‘Night in Whitechapel’ French short-story master Guy de Maupassant offers this chilling look into one of the world’s best known cities. When two young men make a trek to London on a cold December evening, they expect to take in the city and maybe a pub or two along the way. But a chance encounter with a mysterious woman soon has them questioning not only the proceedings of their evening but their sanity as well. ‘Was It a Dream?’ Guy de Maupassant once again delivers a spine-tingling narrative. A young man recounts the tragic death of his love, claimed by an unknown illness. In his grief, he wanders the cemetery where she is buried to find a dark secret that she, and many other corpses, share. ‘Caterpillars’ Stories of the supernatural from E.F. Benson have been terrifying audiences for decades—even making the transition to television adaptation. In “Caterpillars,” a man recalls his terrifying stay at a haunted Italian villa. You will never look at caterpillars in the same way. ‘John Mortonson’s Funeral’ Perhaps best known for The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce is a mainstay of nineteenth-century American literature. In “John Mortonson’s Funeral,” Bierce adds horror to his satirical lens. The mourners at this funeral will be forever changed.
“Night in Whitechapel” – Guy de Maupassant
When two young men make a trek to London on a cold December evening, they expect to take in the city and maybe a pub or two along the way. But a chance encounter with a mysterious woman soon has them questioning not only the proceedings of their evening but their sanity as well.
“Was It a Dream?” – Guy de Maupassant
A young man recounts the tragic death of his love, claimed by an unknown illness. In his grief, he wanders the cemetery where she is buried to find a dark secret that she, and many other corpses, share.
“Caterpillars” – E.F. Benson
A man recalls his terrifying stay at a haunted Italian villa. You will never look at caterpillars in the same way.
“John Mortonson’s Funeral” – Ambrose Bierce
The mourners at this funeral will be forever changed.This collection is well named. All of these tales have a certain creepiness factor that will leave your skin crawling if you think about them too much. They also have the virtue of not being the usual “classic” horror tales included in most anthologies, although they are by authors acknowledged as master storytellers.
What enhances the subtlety and creeping horror is Victor Garber’s soft spoken narration. As any good actor would, he reads each tale differently to reflect its own character, but never with obvious technique that draws the listener away from the story itself. My favorite was “Was It a Dream?” in which the protagonist’s lovelorn state gradually gives way to shuddering fear in the graveyard. The transition was so seamless that I couldn’t tell you when it happened and by the end of the tale I myself was horror stricken.
The collection is short, clocking in at slightly more than an hour, but it is choice. Definitely recommended.
Posted by Julie D.
The SFFaudio Podcast #255 – The Repairer Of Reputations by Robert W. Chambers; read by Mark Turetsky. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 25 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Mark Turetsky!
Talked about on today’s show:
The King Of Yellow, 1895, novelette, the connections between the stories, Cynthia, the coda, The Mask, Paris, the lethal chamber (a suicide booth), the Fates, revision of judgement, questioning the reader’s sanity, The Yellow Sign, Hildred Castaigne, the future setting (or lack thereof), the statue of Garibaldi (at Washington Square Park), the Carcosa Mythos, weird tales, weird romances, New York City, Mr. Wilde, Hawberk, Dr. Archer, the geography of Washington Square, the elevated train, a subway entrance (as a death chamber), the Wikipedia entry, Futurama (and New New York), a bohemian place, NYU, why is everything militarized?, what’s with the jingle of metal?, the expansion of the American Empire, “citation needed”, dragoons, hussars, lancers, the Prussian style, New Jersey, the texture of the fantasy future, a courtly atmosphere, colouring psychosis, a Napoleonic fascist sate, the meta-fictional nature of The King In Yellow, the Cthulhu Mythos vs. the Yellow Mythos, a surrealist existential nightmare, a fall from a horse, “he’s in the biscuit box”, it’s not horror, weird fiction, Ambrose Bierce, Science Fiction, science, the pinnacle of technology is a dreadnaught, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, Copernicus, Ptolemy, Galileo, the Moons of Jupiter, we’re living in a paradigm, a time of scientific flux, modern atomic theory (and The Mask), H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism, Steve Job and the “reality distortion field“, a social reality, Mr. Wilde’s career is the ability to distort social reality, “Napoleon, Napoleon, Napoleon”, Charlemagne, George Bernard Shaw: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.“, Emperor Norton, California, Ambrose Bierce, “A sure sign of a genius is that all of the dunces are in a confederacy against him.”, the Hawberk (aka the Duke of Avonshire), the Metropolitan Museum, why does Louis visit Hildred?, the lethal chamber is central to the action, under the thrall of the Yellow Sign, Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant, insanity and isolation, how is Hildred employed?, how Schizophrenia works, going along with the delusion, what is the significance of the cat?, the crisis comes when the cousin has to move, the crush on Constance, the anti-story nature of the work, the unreliable narrator (not Mark!), “suspension of disbelief”, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (and the old romantic poets), a reaction against science, are the ships real?, aren’t the ships and cavalry set up as a Chekov’s Gun that will go off?, internal inconsistencies, how old are the characters?, Hildred vs. Louis, the statue of General Sheridan, Académie Julian, artists and prostitutes and models, The Mask by Robert W. Chambers, what photography did to painting, impressionism, disruptive ideas, the homunculus, the missing fingers, the damaged ears, Mr. Wilde’s manuscript is the story we’re reading!, is the Chamber is a reference to Chambers himself?, The Street Of The First Shell by Robert W. Chambers, the siege of Paris (during the Franco-Prussian War), Two Fishers by Guy de Maupassant, the Benedict (80 Washington Square East), HBO’s True Detective and the connections to The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, detecting reality (and identity), the purple ears vs. pink ears, how does repairing reputations work?, Hildred’s reputation, a Strangers On A Train-esque clearing house for murder, Scandal (we haven’t seen it), Osgood Oswald Vance, crouching, who killed Mr. Wilde?, the cat did it!, the cat must be symbolic, Oscar Wilde and The Yellow Book, a web of fantasies, “folie à deux”, ‘don’t make fun of crazy people because their folly lasts longer than our own’, we don’t have perfect access to reality, WWI, a social reality vs. a harsh physical reality of artillery, madman vs. a fool, craziness vs. folly, Omar Khayyám, Act 1, Act 2 will make you insane, densely packed with world and incidence, revolutionary science, speculation, no Shyamalan twists please, Cohle and Hart, precedents for a twelve year gap, Battlestar Galactica, Vikings, Rome, Lost, it won’t be a happy ending, suicide is hugely important in both stories, ‘death is not the end’, back to the cat, The Street Of The Four Winds by Robert W. Chambers, cats, dark magic, evil omens, The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, No mask?, Stefan Rudnicki talking about The King In Yellow, the “pallid mask”, is it a skull?, Boris, the face in the fates, the bird on the statue, a jigsaw puzzle, “the long arm of The King In Yellow reaches forward and backward in time and space”, David Lynch’s Lost Highway, is Mr. Wilde real at all?, a very readable book, stylistically it’s surprising modern, the artisty milieu, a freshness, “beware of The King In Yellow“.
Posted by Jesse Willis
A couple lines from episode 2 of HBO’s new show, True Detective, made made me gasp in shock and pleasure. The stylish debut episode, though beautifully filmed, didn’t quite explicitly state the weird undercurrent that may be behind the mystery of this novel for television.
Det. Rustin Cohle (reading the diary) “I closed my eyes and saw the King in Yellow moving through the forest.”
And then “The Yellow King … Carcosa”
I really began to get excited when, near the end of episode 2, birds flock into a recognizable shape, a tattoo found on the victim in episode 1.
Here are two short stories, listed chronologically, for those lines:
An Inhabitant Of Carcosa
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by rasputin
1 |MP3| – Approx. [UNABRIDGED]
First published in the San Francisco News Letter and California Advertiser, Dec 25, 1886.
And here’s a |PDF| version.
The Yellow Sign
By Robert W. Chambers; Read by CrowGirl
1 |MP3| – Approx. 39 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: November 30, 2011
The King In Yellow is a monstrous and suppressed book whose perusal brings, fright, madness, and spectral tragedy. Have you seen the Yellow Sign? First published in 1895.
And here’s a |PDF| version.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #246 – Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Mr. Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (23 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Julie Hoverson, and Melvin Cartegena.
Talked about on today’s show:
An early Lovecraft story, a favourite Lovecraft, getting tangled in the mythos, similar elements, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, chronology, artists vs. scientists, Polaris, alternative dream realities, a mystic connection to a star, The Dreams In The Witch House, the funniness, a man falls in love with a statue, statuesque features, Greek mythology, He, sudden and instant friends, recurrent themes, a smarter friend, is this the original Fight Club?, The Hound, The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, not enough drugs in Kent, London, the Fu Manchu Limehouse connection, caffeine and amphetamines, aging, astral projection, ‘a man with Oriental eyes’, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Abdul Alhazred (was a Lovecraft persona), The Nameless City, Einsteinian theory, S.L. = Samuel Loveman, “all the cosmos is a jest”, wordless understanding, The Picture of Dorian Gray, an Olympian brow, Hypnos is the god of sleep the son of night and the brother of death, Charles Baudelaire, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, Harley Warren = Samuel Loveman, Ambrose Bierce, together but ahead, a column of gold, a red light, breaching the chambers of Hypnos, ambiguity, a symbolic or allegorical Tyler Durden, a way to avoid writing dialogue, “control the universe and everything under it”, in dreams you do control the universe, Lucid dreaming, “it’s not like Inception“, certain techniques, dream logic, Seattle, Tetris before bed, documenting dreams, Lucid dreaming is ultimately pointless, Julie’s dreams, NREM vs. REM dreaming, the function of dreams, sorting and practicing, incubating a dream at the temple of Hypnos, Phantasy (one of Hypnos’ sons), plungings and soarings, scary dreams, aether, The Police, Wrapped Around Your Finger, someplace beyond time, drifting, Ovid’s family tree for the family of Hypnos, Death and Sleep look like each other, Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, Phobotor, Phanatos, Hypnos lived in a cave without a door, at the entrance of the cave were poppies and other flowering drugs, mandragora, old guys at young gay parties, screaming starts happening, if it were written today, who is this story being told to, a confession from an asylum or hospital, a cosmic joke, a schizoid break, his brow was white as of marble, volumes exchanged in a look, Freddy Krueger, dream mythology, Dreamscape, Inception, The Dream Master by Roger Zelazny, Uncle Scrooge in The Dream Of A Lifetime, Sleepwalkers, Naomi Watts and Ray Wise, Guy de Maupassant, a sequel, Masters Of Horror: Cigarette Burns, John Carpenter, many remakes, There’s A Family Of Gnomes Behind My Walls And I Swear I Won’t Disappoint Them Any Longer by J.R. Hamantaschen, weird dubiousness, Masters Of Horror: The Dreams In The Witch House, Wake up Julie!
Posted by Jesse Willis
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 Bierce; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
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!
CBSRMT #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
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.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Just in, this very interesting anthology, edited by Stefan Rudnicki! I couldn’t find a Table of Contents on this package or on the Audible site, so I included it below. Why don’t audio publishers find the Table of Contents important when it comes to anthologies and collections? Because… THEY ARE.
After seeing the contents, I’m eager to dive into this. Oliver Onions, Guy de Maupassant, Harlan Ellison, John Crowley… Harlan Ellison reading John Crowley… this is terrific!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Lofty Ambitions by Harlan Ellison, read by Harlan Ellison
PART 1: THE MYTHS WE LIVE BY
A Youth In Apparel That Glittered by Stephen Crane, read by Stefan Rudnicki (poem)
After the Myths Went Home by Robert Silverberg, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Novelty by John Crowley, read by Harlan Ellison
Pan And The Firebird by Sam M. Steward, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Murderer, The Hope Of All Women by Oskar Kokoschka, performed by cast
The Touch Of Pan by Algernon Blackwood, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Lost Thyrsis by Oliver Onions, read by Roz Landor
The Bacchae (excerpt) by Eurpides, performed by cast
PART 2: MYTHS THAT BITE
A Noiseless Patient Spider by Walt Whitman, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Mystery Train by Lewis Shiner, read by John Rubenstein
Continued On The Next Rock by R.A. Lafferty, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Diary Of A God by Barry Pain, read by Enn Reitel
The Repairer of Reputations (excerpt) by Robert W. Chambers, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Yellow Sign by Robert W. Chambers, read by Stefan Rudnicki
An Inhabitant Of Carcosa by Ambrose Bierce, read by Danny Campbell
The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, read by Arte Johnson
PART 3: SHOCKING FUTURES
Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, read by Stefan Rudnicki (poem)
City Come A’Walkin (excerpt) by John Shirley, read by Don Leslie
A Pail Of Air by Fritz Leiber, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Machine Stops (excerpt) by E.M. Forster, read by Roz Landor
Looking Backward and Equality (excerpts) by Edward Bellamy, read by David Birney
Gulliver’s Travels (excerpt) by Jonathan Swift read by Scott Brick
Utopia (excerpt) by Sir Thomas More, read byChristopher Cazanove
Monument To Amun by Queen Hatshepsut, read by Judy Young
PART 4: TRAVELING FOOLS
La Bateau Ivre by Arthur Rimbaud, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Inspiration by Ben Bova, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Bones Do Lie by Anne McCaffrey, read by Stefan Rudnicki
A Princess Of Mars (excerpt) by Edgar Rice Burroughs, read by John Rubinstein
The Great Stone Of Sardis (excerpt) by Frank R. Stockton, read by David Birney
Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (excerpt) by Lewis Carroll, read by Michael York
Diary Of A Madman (excerpt) by Nicolai Gogol, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Inferno (excerpt) by Dante, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Odyssey of Homer (excerpt), read by David Birney
PART 5: TRANSFORMERS
The Stolen Child by William B. Yeats, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Porcelain Salamander by Orson Scott Card, read by Gabrielle de Cuir
Let’s Get Together by Isaac Asimov, read by Arte Johnson
Dracula (excerpt) by Bram Stoker, read by Simon Vance
Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (excerpt) by Robert Louis Stevenson, read by John Lee
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, read by Gabrielle de Cuir
Frankenstein (excerpt) by Mary Shelley, read by Stefan Rudnicki0\ *
The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh (Traditional English Fairy Tale), read by Judy Young
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (excerpt) by William Shakespeare, performed by cast
The Ballad of Tam Lin (Celtic ballad), read by Stefan Rudnicki
Metamorphosis (excerpt) by Ovid, read by Cassandra Campbell
PART 6: REST IN PIECES
The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe, read by Stefan Rudnicki
The New Testament: Revelations (excerpt), read by Stefan Rudnicki
The Colloquy of Monos & Una by Edgar Allan Poe, read by Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir
From the Crypts of Memory by Clark Ashton Smith, read by Danny Campbell
The Comet by W.E.B. DuBois, read by Mirron Willis
Sand (excerpt) by Stefan Rudnicki, performed by cast
Transience by Arthur C. Clarke, read by Bahni Turpin
The Illusionist by Gareth Owen, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Unchosen Love by Ursula K. LeGuin, read by Stefan Rudnicki
In Lonely Lands by Harlan Ellison, read by Harlan Ellison
News from Nowhere (excerpt) by William Morris, read by Stefan Rudnicki
PART 7: COMMENTARIES
The Special And General Joys of Science Fiction by Ben Bova, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849 by Elliott Engel, read by Gabrielle de Cuir
Adolescence And Adulthood In Science Fiction by Orson Scott Card, read by Stefan Rudnicki
Posted by Scott D. Danielson