The SFFaudio Podcast #307 – READALONG: The Lord Of The Rings (Book 1 of 6) by J.R.R. Tolkien

March 9, 2015 by · 2 Comments
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TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #307 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa talk about The Lord of the Rings Book I (“The Ring Sets Out”) by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Talked about on today’s show:
On the comparative merits of the book, movie, and the BBC audio drama; the similarity between the audio drama and the film; Ian Hom as Frodo in the audio drama (elder Bilbo in the film) and Michael Hordern as Gandalf; Rob Inglis’s superb audiobook narration and singing; poetry and singing as a reflection of Tolkien’s mythological influence; Kenneth Morris’s influence on Tolkien; The Silmarillion and the creation of Middle Earth; The Tolkien Professor and Michael Drout as resources for further Tolkien scholarship; Jesse’s first encounter with The Hobbit; the birth of Jesse’s fascination with audiobooks; the depth of Tolkien’s world-building and lack of depth in fantasy successors; Aragorn is unsung hero; on how the audio helped Jenny get a handle on the series; Seth’s regular reading of the novels; Maissa has questions as a new reader; the cliffhanger ending of Book I; on the making of the rings; the ring as an analogy to modern technological addiction; Steve Jobs as Sauron; Maissa envisions true palm technology and Jesse envisions a real technological ring; Doctor Who; Socrates, Gyges, and a ring of invisibility, how much agency does the Ring have?; religious subtext; more on the ring’s agency; “more than one power at work”; on how Tolkien had to retcon The Hobbit; Tolkien’s letters and his attention to detail; Frank Herbert’s similar world building process in Dune; on Middle Earth’s historical depth; the cats of Queen Berúthiel; Farmer Maggot vs. the Black Rider; hobbits make the story relatable; Gandalf as rabble-rousing priest and prophet (Moses, Jeremiah); “birthday presents” and the circularity of the tale; “The Conspiracy Unmasked” and the power of friendship; the untold tale of Fredegar Bolger; on the faults of hobbits; parallels with modern military conflicts; economics in the books (or lack thereof); the varieties of goodness and evil; the Prancing Pony has free wi-fi; a time of transition and the Elves’ pilgrimage to the Gray Havens; on Gollum’s possession of the ring; Tom Bombadil as unexplained phenomenon; Jesse wants a Tom Bombadil Bed and Breakfast; on the importance of Frodo’s encounter with the Barrow White; Tolkien could have written weird fiction; Sam’s selfless sacrifices; Tolkien’s impact on our real lives; we are all Butterburs wanting to be Sams; Sam learning his letters; class differences in the Shire, Hobbiton as Downton Abbey; “the road goes ever on”; does Sauron have corporeal existence?; no Harry Potter style set pieces in favor of a much more organic feel; Jesse tells us the definition of scrumping; Tolkien’s descriptions of nature; on Tolkien and fantasy tropes; influence on Dungeons and Dragons; Bombadillo cadence; comparisons with contemporary writing of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories; Tolkien’s preference for allegory over history; the power of words in Tolkien and its parallel with Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea; on the novel’s slow opening; on the film’s simplification of plot and characters, Merry and Pippin in the film are Dumb and Dumber; if Gandalf can make fireworks, why are there no guns in Middle Earth?; for a wizard, Gandalf doesn’t do much magic; (who let the dogs out?); Tolkien and World War I; on Gandalf’s refusal to take the ring; on the etymology of wraith and the origin of the ring wraiths; more on Plato and Socrates’s Ring of Gyges parable; Gollum’s fascination with roots and beginnings; Aragorn’s healing power (foreshadowing!); giving the ring to the wrong person is “like giving a machine gun to a baby”; Saruman twisted by even the idea of the ring; Maissa is a prescient reader.

The Lord Of The Rings - The Fellowship Of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien - Illustration by John Howe
The Fellowship Of The Ring - A Part Of The Shire - MAP

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Travels Of Conan And Belit – AN ANNOTATED CHART OF THE BLACK COAST

June 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

I’m still of the opinion, many many years after first reading it, that The Queen Of The Black Coast is Robert E. Howard’s very best story. It’s an epic fantasy romance adventure tragedy.

I love it. How can you not love a passage like this:

Belit shuddered. “Life, bad as it is, is better than such a destiny.
What do you believe, Conan?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them
is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death.
It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s
realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the
Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep
while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging
wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation
of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content.
Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of
reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no
less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live,
I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

We’ve done two podcasts of it:

One was the audiobook, HERE. And one the other was the audio drama, HERE.

But the story, as I first encountered it, was a different adaptation, a serialized and expanded comics version published from the mid to late 1970s. Indeed, Marvel Comics’ Roy Thomas thought there must have been good material in there as he played out that story, expanding upon this paragraph:

The Tigress ranged the sea, and the black villages shuddered. Tomtoms
beat in the night, with a tale that the she-devil of the sea had found
a mate, an iron man whose wrath was as that of a wounded lion. And
survivors of butchered Stygian ships named Belit with curses, and a
white warrior with fierce blue eyes; so the Stygian princes remembered
this man long and long, and their memory was a bitter tree which bore
crimson fruit in the years to come.

And it ran for three years and 40 issues – from issue #58 (January, 1976) to issue #100 (July, 1979) and in those years Belit and Conan adventured.*

I spent much of the 1980s finding, collecting, and reading those back issues. After years I had a complete run of the comic. But only this week, approximately 30 years later, did I find this, an oversized two-page map chronicling the travels of Conan and Belit in those comics!

Behold, and click through to see the 1979 map published only in the Marvel Treasury Edition #23 (words by Roy Thomas, cartography by Mark Rogan):

The Travels Of Conan And Belit

[*still available in Volumes 8 – 12 of Dark Horse’s The Chronicles of Conan]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: A Witch Shall Be Born by Robert E. Howard

June 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Weird Tales, December 1934 - A Witch Shall Be Born by Robert E. Howard

Here is Donald A. Wollheim’s introductions to A Witch Shall Be Born, as published in Avon Fantasy Reader, #10:

Robert E. Howard’s stories of the wanderings of Conan the Cimmerian through the realms of the pre-Glacial era were based upon a carefully structed “history” of those ages devised by Howard before starting his series. It is, we think, this careful groundwork which makes these tales so colorfully realistic, so vivid, so varied in background. We sense that he has woven into his literary tapestry not merely varicolored threads but clothes of different textures, so that his prehistoric kingdoms are national not merely because he calls them by different names but because he has thought of them as different in culture, approach, tradition. This is no mean feat for a purely imaginary world and it is one of the things that have made Robert Howard’s stories so much more memorable than attempts at similar construction by more commercially slanted writers.

Unique And Fascinating Fantasy (Introduction from Avon Fantasy Reader #10)

A Witch Shall Be Born by Robert E. Howard - illustration by Hugh Rankin

LibriVoxA Witch Shall Be Born
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chenevert
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 2 Hours 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 17, 2013
The kingdom of Khauran is admittedly small, but blessed with an abundance of rich soil, hard working inhabitants and much gold but most of all by a sweet young queen who is as wise and beneficent as she is beautiful. But then a horrible witch (her evil twin sister) secretly replaces her and introduces devil worship, human sacrifice and other things too repulsive to mention. Conan, who was the captain of her guard is captured and crucified in the desert. First published in Weird Tales, December 1934.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7946

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

And here’s a |PDF| of A Witch Shall Be Born as scanned from Avon Fantasy Reader #10.

A Witch Shall Be Born by Robert E. Howard - illustration by John Buscema

[Thanks also to Britannia and Phil]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Shadows In The Moonlight by Robert E. Howard

April 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

Shadows In The Moonlight by Robert E. Howard

`Shadows

Though Robert E. Howard had originally titled this Conan adventure “Iron Shadows In The Moon” it was actually first published under the title Shadows In The Moonlight. Current publications, and adaptations, tend to favour Howard’s original title. But either way the novelette, featuring a shipload of pirates, a shapely maiden, and a giant ape, makes for some very good reading.

LibriVoxShadows In The Moonlight
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chenevert
4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: April 17, 2013
First published in Weird Tales, April 1934.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7755

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustrated by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustrated by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Mark Schultz

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Mark Schultz

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Cary Nord

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The People Of The Black Circle by Robert E. Howard

April 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The People Of The Black Circle by Robert E. Howard - illustration by Hugh Rankin

In this well-regarded CONAN novella our hero, now a chieftain in the Hyborian equivalent of Pakistan, tangles with a beautiful young queen bent on revenge. Her plot will have Conan fighting an evil sorcerer who, by will alone, can rip a man’s heart out of his chest!

And giant snakes.

Weird Tales, September 1934

LibriVoxThe People Of The Black Circle
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Mark Nelson
1 |M4B|, 10 Zipped MP3 Files, or podcast – Approx. 3 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox
Published: April 1, 2013
“A stupendous story of Conan the barbarian soldier of fortune, and a tremendous adventure in the castle of the Black Seers.” First published in Weird Tales, September, October, and November 1934.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7692

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

And here’s an illustrated |PDF| made from the republication in Fantastic, January 1967 (the illustrations, by Hugh Rankin, are from the original serialization in Weird Tales).

The People Of The Black Circle - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala
The People Of The Black Circle - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala
The People Of The Black Circle - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

[Thanks also to: DaveC, Ann Boulais, and Jack!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Ace Double D-36 – Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard (aka The Hour Of The Dragon)

March 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

ACE Double D-36 - Conan The Conqueror by Robert E. Howard (aka The Hour Of The Dragon)

The only Conan novel written by Robert E. Howard himself is PUBLIC DOMAIN. I first encountered it under it’s ACE Books title, Conan The Conqueror.

Here’s a |CBZ| file scanned from the Ace Double (D-36) featuring The Hour Of The Dragon.

Other etext versions are available HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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