The SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute; read by Simon Prebble. Jesse fends off illness to lead us in an intriguing discussion about Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel. This podcast features Jesse, Jenny, Seth, and Paul.
Talked about on today’s show:
Reversed seasons in Southern Hemisphere; novel originally serialized in London weekly periodical The Sunday Graphic; “on the beach” as naval phrase meaning “retired from service”; the novel almost universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike; what is the ideal time frame for an end-of-the-world scenario?; On The Beach as bleak existential novel; the author’s avoidance of political or religious polemic; 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins; Australia as a secular nation; Earth Abides by George R. Stewart; Endgame by Samuel Becket; the novel as a metaphor for terminal cancer patients; The Star by Arthur C. Clarke; abstract sterile end-of-world mechanics, a “cosy catastrophe“; 2008 BBC radio adaptation; 2000 TV movie starring Bryan Brown, modernized and featuring a much more optimistic tone; Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick 2012; could the novel’s characters done more to ensure the continued survival of humanity?; fallout shelters, “duck and cover!”; Chernobyl; rampant alcoholism; euthanasia; attitudes toward media–were newspapers responsible for the war?; regression of technology in the novel; The Waveries by Fredric Brown; we wish the Cosy Catastrophe genre would supplant Paranormal Romance; reflection of a pre-WWI era arms race; 1959 movie version tackles Cold War paranoia; U.S. government’s criticism of the novel; Five Years by David Bowie; faced with the end of the world, our panel would evidently read Marcel Proust; needless revisions in film adaptations; much action takes place “off the page” in the novel; lookism; The Scarlet Plague by Jack London; Simon Prebble’s excellent audio narration; George Orwell’s 1984; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and logotherapy; Jay Lake and his bout with cancer; Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and how we’re haunted by the people who are no longer with us; the novel’s three-dimensional characters; Nevil Shute employs typical British understatement; Lord of the Rings‘s Denethor and the idea of hopelessness; Egyptian tomb goods and attitudes towards death; Jesse plans his funeral rites.
Posted by Seth Wilson
Talked about on today’s show:
Jonathan Davis, Pat Fraley, Scott Brick is the Brad Pitt of audiobooks and Simon Vance is the George Clooney of audiobooks, how Simon Vance got started, reel to reel tape recorder, Winnie The Pooh, BBC Radio 4, 1980s, Brighton, RNIB, Grover Gardner, George Guidall, The Book At Bedtime, Margaret Thatcher, California, San Francisco, Christian and devotional audiobooks, “we sound more intelligent (but we’re not)”, Stieg Larsson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Audiofile Magazine, Earphone Awards, England, Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the apprenticeship, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, a classic dystopia, Thirteen (aka Black Man), The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, artfulness and in-artfulness of narration, Doctor Who, overwhelming music -> overwhelming emotion, The Lord Of The Rings, the good narrators do the unexpected, “boo”, Dune by Frank Herbert (the full-cast audiobook), Goodreads.com, Simon Prebble, V For Vendetta by Steve Moore, the comic + the movie + Simon Vance = great audiboook, Natalie Portman was awesome, Stephen Rea, most novelizations are terrible, Hugo Weaving, James Bond, Ian Fleming, AudioGo, Blackstone Audio, the Green Knowe books, Listen And Live, Kate Fleming, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, a complicated book, a second chance, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast review of The Prestige (episode #177), the movie of The Prestige, a final trick, one of the best Science Fiction movies of the last ten years, a thinking man’s book (and movie), The Illusionist, stage magic vs. CGI magic, The Magic Circle, Left for Dead: The Untold Story Of The Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race by Nick Ward and Sinead O’Brien, survival, Antarctica, fiction vs. non-fiction, a cabinet of heads, WWII, the Patrick O’Brian books (the Aubrey–Maturin series), Master And Commander, the incomplete book 21, Robert Hardy and Tim Piggot-Smith, what SFF Simon Vance book should we check out?, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, The Exodus Towers, The Plague Forge, zombie apocalypse, aliens, “good honest adventure”, Pan Books Of Horror, c, Rama, Rama II, The Man In The High Castle, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, a PDF listing Simon Vance’s audiobooks, out of print audiobooks, Audible.com, Christopher Priest’s other audiobooks are done by other audiobook narrators, Peter Ganim, Robert J. Sawyer, The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks, rights issues, keep your audiobooks.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Though I’m of the opinion you should go for the Wayne June version (physical copy HERE or Audible.com HERE) I should point out that the abridged 2010 BBC reading of H.P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness, as read by Richard Coyle (with added bed music) is wholly available streaming.
Here’s the official description:
This 2010 adaptation comprises 5 episodes, originally aired on BBC Radio 7, and offered here in exclusive EXTENDED EDITIONS. You will find an additional 30 mins of terror-filled audio within these five episodes!
Abridged by Paul Kent
Read by Richard Coyle
Music by Jon Nicholls
Produced by Neil Gardner
Posted by Jesse Willis
Earlier this year BBC Radio 4 began a season they called “The Real George Orwell” – here’s the official description:
A Radio 4 journey through the labyrinth that is the life and work of George Orwell.
Of course there is no real George Orwell – it was the pen name of Eric Blair – but he was a writer and political commentator who is very hard to pin down. Ever since his early death in 1950, he has been at one and the same time the darling of some on both the left and the right of British politics – whilst being reviled by others. For all the beautiful simplicity of his writing and storytelling Orwell/Blair is a complex mass of confusions – an anti-establishment, pro-English, ex-Etonian ex-policeman and socialist, who was ardently anti-authoritarian. He was as anti-fascist as he was anti-communist, a former Spanish Civil War soldier who was anti-war but pro the Second World War, and so on and so on.
Through dramatisations of the key books, through four newly commissioned plays that explore the disjuncture between the man who was Eric Blair and the writer who was George Orwell, and through factual programming and readings, Radio 4 will take you on a journey from Burma via Catalonia, Wigan, Jura, Manor Farm along the road that led to Nineteen Eighty-Four, one of the most influential novels of the twentieth century.
I’m listening to Nineteen Eighty Four now, and loving it. Have a read of Tom Goulding’s review for the RadioTimes:
Radio 4 continues its series of Orwell dramatisations with Jonathan Holloway’s long-awaited two-part adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four. An eerie dystopian vision in the vein of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s magnum opus is a prescient window into Cold War politics, closed-circuit surveillance and blanket censorship.
Christopher Eccleston is the downtrodden protagonist Winston Smith, while Pippa Nixon shines as forbidden love interest Julia. Elsewhere, V For Vendetta villain Tim Pigott-Smith fills O’Brien’s face-stamping boots with sinister relish.
A masterclass in ferocious condemnation and harrowing satire, this is another gem in this superb season.
Then fire up your torrent client and head on over to RadioArchive.cc – where the drama is getting rave reviews!
Adapted from the novel by George Orwell; Dramatised by Jonathan Holloway; Performed by a full cast
2 MP3s via TORRENT – Approx. 1 Hour 54 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: Feb. 10, 2013 and Feb. 16, 2013
Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth. Sick and separated from his wife, he lives alone in a one-room flat in Victory Mansions in London, chief city of Airstrip One. Big Brother stares out from every poster, the Thought Police uncover every act of betrayal. When Winston finds love, he discovers that life does not have to be dull and deadening, and awakens to new possibilities.
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer
Winston Smith – Christopher Eccleston
Julia – Pippa Nixon
O’Brien – Tim Pigott-Smith
Parsons – Kim Wall
Syme – Sam Alexander
Prostitute – Susie Riddell
Charrington – Robert Blythe
Actor – Christine Absalom
Actor – Don Gilet
Actor – Joe Sims
Actor – Joshua Swinney
Actor – Sam Alexander
And the |ETEXT|.
And ++good, here’s the BBC TV version from 1954 (starring Peter Cushing!):
Posted by Jesse Willis
Here’s the official description:
Alternative worlds dominate radio drama this week. To complement productions of The Drowned World and Concrete Island (next week) by the master of the near future J.G. Ballard, writers imagine their own dystopias in our season Dangerous Visions. As well as the maternal death syndrome threatening the survival of the human race in The Testament Of Jessie Lamb, dramatised from her own novel by Jane Rogers, the original plays ask what happens if sleep is outlawed? If cloning becomes a matter of course, and your loved ones are indistinguishable from their cloned replicants? If North London declares UDI against the wasteland of South London? If human sacrifice becomes an accepted necessity? If one man becomes immortal? Along with other related programmes on Radio 4, 4 Extra completes the season with a chilling new four-part serialisation of William Golding’s classic fable, Lord of the Flies, exploring the very essence of good and evil.
Here are the programs, and related goodness:
Saturday 15th June:
Dangerous Visions: The Sleeper
Radio 4, 1430: A fable for our times. In The Sleeper by Michael Symmons Roberts we see our own society as it is today but with one familiar element removed. This is a Britain in which, decades ago, human beings gradually lost the gift of sleep. With Maxine Peake and Jason Done.
Archive on 4: Very British Dystopias
Radio 4, 2000: Beneath the calm surface of British politics, lurking in the imaginations of some of our leading writers, terrible things have happened. Professor Steven Fielding examines these dystopian visions which have gripped creative and public imaginations.
Lord of the Flies: Fire on the Mountain (part 1 of 4)
Radio 4 Extra, 2300: William Golding’s classic story about a group of boys plane-wrecked on a deserted island. New dramatisation by Judith Adams, with Ruth Wilson narrating.
Sunday 16th June:
Radio 4, 1445: As Radio 4 begins its new season of Dystopic Dramas, Dangerous Visions, the playwright and poet Michael Symmons Roberts wonders how close the gap between imagining and living in dystopia actually is.
Dangerous Visions: The Drowned World
Radio 4, 1500: JG Ballard’s story of a scientific mission surveying drowned cities. This is a future where the earth’s atmosphere, and human consciousness, has eroded. Adapted by Graham White.
Dangerous Visions: Face to Face with JG Ballard
Radio 4 Extra, 1800: The late author of Empire of the Sun and many works of speculative fiction reveals his perspective on the world and the media.
Monday 17th June:
Dangerous Visions: The Testament Of Jessie Lamb
Radio 4, 1045/1945, Monday to Friday: Jane Rogers dramatises her award winning dystopian novel about a teenage girl who decides to save humanity. Starring Holliday Grainger as Jessie Lamb.
Dangerous Visions: Billions
Radio 4, 1415: Blake Ritson and Raquel Cassidy star in Ed Harris’s wicked tale of love and deception, in which Mark comes home to find a replacement wife provided by her insurance company.
Tuesday 18th June:
Dangerous Visions: Invasion
Radio 4, 1415: On his return from Mars, Astronaut Kadian Giametti wakes up in quarantine. Slowly he discovers that the world outside his cell has changed beyond recognition.
Wednesday 19th June:
Dangerous Visions: London Bridge
Radio 4, 1415: In Nick Perry’s dark vision of the future, the River Thames has become a border separating the crime-free police state of North London from the lawless slumland of the South.
Thursday 20th June:
Dangerous Visions: Death Duty
Radio 4, 1415: In Michael Butt’s dark vision of the future, a city-state plagued by drought has instituted a system of sacrifice in a desperate measure to bring about rain. With Nicholas Jones.
[Thanks to David and Roy!]
Posted by Jesse Willis
Episode 1 – The Box
By Stephen Gallagher; Performed by a full cast
Released: June 7, 2013
The culmination of the Wainfleet Maritime College sea rescue and safety course is a session in The Box, an underwater helicopter escape simulator. The candidates are ex-navy or air force, and The Box should be an easy exercise for such experienced men. So why are the drop-outs gradually increasing in number? Men are seeing things when they’re submerged, and won’t talk about them when they come out… What is the secret of The Box?
Episode 2 – The Fixation
By Mark Morris; Performed by a full cast
Released: June 14, 2013
When Ian Hibbert witnesses a hoodie dumping a bin of rubbish outside his house, he decides enough is enough. He convenes a group of Darwell residents and sets out to clean up the estate, which has been falling to rack and ruin the past few years. But the Clean Up Darwell group are abused; his daughter is attacked; and finally, one of the committee members disappears. Ian discovers to his cost that someone – or something – doesn’t want him to clean up Darwell. But why?
Episode 3 – Spanish Ladies
By Paul Magrs; Performed by a full cast
Released: June 21, 2013
Phil doesn’t need a girlfriend, his overbearing Mummy tells him. His Mummy will look after him forever. She steams open his post, reads his diary and checks under his bed for mucky magazines. Suspecting that her shy, middle-aged son is seeing a lady, she employs her friend Renee from Friday night bingo to spy on him. But when Mummy discovers that it’s Renee herself who is carrying on with her darling boy, she exacts a terrible revenge…
In the annals of cinema, Hammer Film Productions are a legend, most famous for producing a string of classic horror movies from the mid ’50s until the late ’70s. They brought iconic characters like Professor Quatermass, Dracula, Baron Frankenstein and the Mummy to the screen and made Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee stars.
Hammer ceased film production in 1976 and after a couple of well remembered anthology TV series in the early ’80s – Hammer House of Horror (1980) and Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984), the studio closed its doors. But much like their famous horror creations, they didn’t stay dead. Hammer came back from the grave in the 21st century with a string of new movies – Let Me In (2010), The Resident (2011), Wakewood (2011) and the box office smash The Woman In Black (2012).
However the reborn Hammer hasn’t confined itself to making fine movies – in 2011 they launched a publishing arm, releasing new books by big names such as Jeanette Winterson and Tim Lebbon, and a series of novels that re-imagine their classic movies. Furthermore in January this year Hammer took to the stage with a new play adapting Henry James’ classic ghost story The Turn Of The Screw opening in the famous Almeida Theatre in London.
And now the legendary house of horrors is moving into the world of audio drama with the launch of Hammer Chillers, a series of 30 minute plays which are to be released as weekly downloads from the 7th June, with a complete series CD coming on July 26th. Much like their book imprint, Hammer have gathered together a fine roster for this foray into sonic terror, with established genre writers penning the scripts and plenty of familiar names from British TV and film in the casts.
First out of the gate is The Box (released 7th June) starring Con O’Neill, Alex Lowe and Zoe Lister. The titular device resides at the Wainfleet Maritime College and is used in training courses to simulate an underwater helicopter escape. However this routine exercise is regularly being failed by experienced personnel, leading course instructor Sean (Con O’Neil) to suspect that all is not right within the Box.
Scripted by accomplished novelist and screen writer Stephen Gallagher, The Box presents us with an eerie little mystery that pays off with a rather neat twist-in-the-tail. With a strong cast, excellent production values, and a simple but strong storyline, this is a wonderfully chilling opener for the series. It sets the bar high from the outset and rightly so to build audience loyalty with the rest of the series.
However as good as The Box is, it is comparative gentle compared to the following episodes. The second episode is The Fixation, written by Mark Morris, an author who has been turning out good solid horror novels that are highly entertaining for a good few years now. And The Fixation is quintessential terror Morris-style, taking us to a small English town where something isn’t quite right. Ian Hibbert is a somewhat fussy fellow who becomes increasingly irritated by the litter and trash that is cluttering his community, and vows to clean up his local area. However there is a more sinister reason for the ever growing piles of rubbish accumulating in Darnell than the general decline of society that Hibbert is so worried about.
Like much of Morris’s work, The Fixation reworks classic horror tropes into a contemporary English setting, creating intriguing and imaginative tales that reflect current society. This episode features some wonderful character work, with comic actor Miles Jupp delivering a great performance as the often petty Hibbert. However while Hibbert is in many ways a satire of an irritatingly over-zealous do-gooder, the strength of Morris’ script and Jupp’s performance, is that he and his family will have your sympathy as the horrors unfold. The Fixation is an excellent small town horror tale, chiming nicely with social issues we can relate to, but also using the medium of sound to fine creepy effect.
The third episode comes from Paul Magrs – another very well established author who’s written a very diverse range of books ranging from literary novels to mysteries to Doctor Who fiction. And Mr Magrs is no stranger to audio drama either having scripted several radio plays for the BBC and numerous Doctor Who audio adventures for Big Finish. And his past experience serves him well here in Spanish Ladies. It’s the twisted tale of an overbearing Mummy and her grown-up son Phil who isn’t so much still tied to her apron strings as positively ensnared in them.
For the most part, it plays out like an Alan Bennett piece, all sharply observed but slightly comic dialogue, but when the truly horrible Mummy, played to perfection by Jacqueline King, discovered that not so young Phil has found some romance, you know things are going to take a turn for the worse. Now the magic of good audio drama is painting pictures with words and sounds, and the medium is used to brilliantly hideous effect in Spanish Ladies. It’s pure horror dripping out the speakers!
Overall, it’s fair to say that Hammer Chillers certainly hit the mark and the production company Bafflegab have excelled themselves. They’ve delivered some top notch radio horror here. And aside from the quality scripts and performances, where this series really excels is the fact that they use the medium of sound so well in the stories, truly and fully embracing the audio medium to deliver the chills. Speaking as some one whose listened to a lot of horror radio past and present, with these first three episodes Hammer Chillers are well on the way to establishing themselves as a modern classic of audio horror.
Posted by Mr. Jim Moon