I’ve posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s murderous classic, Markheim, before (the audiobook and another radio drama). But, I’ve just discovered a very good new adaptation (from 2006) available at RadioArchive.cc. The sound design is excellent, and its lengthy enough to bring out most of the nuance in the text.
Adapted from the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Adapted by John Taylor; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: February 1, 2006
On Christmas Day 1886 with London shrouded in fog, a man shadows a girl across Blackfriars Bridge towards the back streets of Holborn. His name is Markheim and his intentions are unremittingly dark.
Directed by John Taylor
Tommy – Mark Straker
Markheim – Jack Klaff
Girl – Abigail Hollick
Visitor – Anton Rodgers
Crispin – Anthony Jackson
And for German listeners there’s THIS sexy sounding version produced as a part of a cool series called Gruselkabinett (which translates to “Chamber of Horrors”).
There is no finer model for the study of setting than this story affords. It is three o’clock in the afternoon of a foggy Christmas Day in London. If Markheim’s manner and the dimly lighted interior of the antique shop suggest murder, the garrulous clocks, the nodding shadows, and the reflecting mirrors seem almost to compel confession and surrender. “And still as he continued to fill his pockets, his mind accused him, with a sickening iteration, of the thousand faults of his design. He should have chosen a more quiet hour.” So he should for the murder; but for the self-confession; which is Stevenson’s ultimate design, no time or place could have been better.
There is little action in the plot. A man commits a dastardly murder and then, being alone and undetected, begins to think, think, think. It is the turning point in his life and he knows it. Instead of seizing the treasure and escaping, he submits his past career to a rigid scrutiny and review. This brooding over his past life and present outlook becomes so absorbing that what bade fair to be a soliloquy becomes a dialogue, a dialogue between the old self that committed the murder and the new self that begins to revolt at it. The old self bids him follow the line of least resistance and go on as he has begun; the newly awakened self bids him stop at once, check the momentum of other days, take this last chance, and be a man. His better nature wins. Markheim finds that though his deeds have been uniformly evil, he can still “conceive great deeds, renunciations, martyrdoms.” Though the active love of good seems too weak to be reckoned as an asset, he still has a “hatred of evil”; and on this twin foundation, ability to think great thoughts and to hate evil deeds, he builds at last his culminating resolve.
The story is powerfully and yet subtly told. It sweeps the whole gamut of the moral law. Many stories develop the same theme but none just like this. Stevenson himself is drawn again to the same problem a little later in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hawthorne tried it in “Howe’s Masquerade,” in which the cloaked figure is the phantom or reduplication of Howe himself. In Poe’s “William Wilson,” to which Stevenson is plainly indebted, the evil nature triumphs over the good. But “Markheim,” by touching more chords and by sounding lower depths, makes the triumph at the end seem like a permanent victory for universal human nature.
If the story is the study of a given situation, Markheim, who is another type of the developing character, is the central factor in the situation. We see and interpret the situation only through the personality of Markheim himself. Another murderer might have acted differently, even with those clamorous clocks and accusing mirrors around him, but not this murderer. There is nothing abnormal about him, however, as a criminal. He is thirty-six years old and through sheer weakness has gone steadily downward, but he has never before done a deed approaching this in horror or in the power of sudden self revelation. He sees himself now as he never saw himself before and begins to take stock of his moral assets. They are pitifully meager, though his opportunities for character building have been good. He has even had emotional revivals, which did not, however, issue in good deeds. But with it all, Markheim illustrates the nobility of human nature rather than its essential depravity. I do not doubt his complete and permanent conversion. When the terrible last question is put to him – or when he puts it to himself – whether he is better now in anyone particular than he was, and when he is forced to say, “No, in none! I have gone down in all,” the moral resources of human nature itself seem to be exhausted. But they are not. “I see clearly what remains for me,” said Markheim, “by way of duty.” This word, not used before, sounds a new challenge and marks the crisis of the story. Duty can fight without calling in reserves from the past and without the vision of victory in the future. I don’t wonder that the features of the visitant “softened with a tender triumph.” The visitant was neither “the devil” as Markheim first thought him nor “the Saviour of men” as a recent editor pronounces him. He is only Markheim’s old self, the self that entered the antique shop, that with fear and trembling committed the deed, and that now, half-conscious all the time of inherent falseness, urges the old arguments and tries to energize the old purposes. It is this visitant that every man meets and overthrows when he comes to himself, when he breaks sharply with the old life and enters resolutely upon the new.
Posted by Jesse Willis
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (4 Hours 53 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The Status Civilization was first published under the title Omega and was serialized in the August and September 1960 issues of Amazing Science Fiction Stories Magazine.
Go back to episode (SFFaudio Podcast #056) to hear our discussion of it.
Will Barrent awakes without memories just before being deposited on Omega, a planet for criminals where the average life expectancy is three years. He’s listed as a murderer and released into the illicit society as a “peon” the lowest class imaginable. A mysterious girl gives him a weapon that starts him on his path to status, a path that requires constant brutality. But it must be borne if our hero is to discover the reason for his imprisonment; A reason that pits him against himself, and involves the sardonically similar but devoutly different creeds of Omega and Earth.
Posted by Jesse Willis
This is a truly terrible story, by someone who is normally perceived to be a great author, Robert Bloch. I suspect Bloch chose the pseudonym for this one because it is so bad. Indeed, I suspect this is precisely the kind of story Isaac Asimov was trying to defeat with his Three Laws of Robotics. But beyond the dangerous robot trope it also features, at least to my ears, the most creepily lascivious robot ever!
Junior is oily, immoral, and oversexed.
Dimension X – Almost Human
Adapted from the story by Robert Bloch; Adapted by George Lefferts; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: May 13, 1950
A gun moll answers an ad to be a nursemaid to a baby robot, things are fine until her boyfriend, a professional thief, shows up and teaches the robot a few things. First published in Fantastic Adventures, June 1943.
Here’s Robert Bloch’s introductory essay to Almost Human (as written for My Best Science Fiction Story a 1949 anthology edited by Leo Margulies and Oscar J. Friend):
Posted by Jesse Willis
Dead Spots (Scarlett Bernard #1)
By Melissa F. Olson; Performed by Amy McFadden
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Release Date: 2012
Publisher summary: A woman with the ability to counteract magic is in a race against time–and the supernatural underworld–to catch a killer before another body drops.
Scarlett Bernard knows about personal space: step within ten feet of her, and any supernatural spells or demonic forces are instantly defused–vampires and werewolves become human again, and witches can’t get out so much as a “hocus pocus.” This special skill makes her a null and very valuable to Los Angeles’s three most powerful magical communities, who utilize her ability to scrub crime scenes clean of all traces of the paranormal to keep humanity, and the LAPD, in the dark.
But one night Scarlett’s late arrival to a grisly murder scene reveals her agenda and ends with LAPD’s Jesse Cruz tracking her down to strike a deal: he’ll keep quiet about the undead underworld if she helps solve the case. Their pact doesn’t sit well with Dash, the city’s chief bloodsucker, who fears his whole vampire empire is at stake. And when clues start to point to Scarlett, it’ll take more than her unique powers to catch the real killer and clear her name.
I snagged this audiobook to post about from the stack of urban fantasy because it was an author I had not heard of, the first of a series, and not previously published on Audible! Reviews I’ve seen so far are complimentary on the main character, and the complexity of the story.
Coincidentally, we are on the hunt for 1-2 paranormal romance or urban fantasy audiobook reviewers. If this kind of book is your kind of thing, please contact Jenny on the about page!
Posted by Jenny Colvin
Radio Project X, a great new audio drama troupe out of Toronto, makes a combination of compelling and humorous audio dramatizations – recorded live on stage. The latest one to reach my ears is centered around a terrific adaptation of a creepy Theodore Sturgeon story entitled The Other Celia (aka The Blonde With The Mysterious Body). Like the other Radio Project X episodes already released, this program is followed by a series of skits, all funny, and all very Canadian – the kind you’d hear on CBC radio in years past.
The Other Celia
Adapted from the short story by Theodore Sturgeon; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 10 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Radio Project X
Podcast: August 14, 2012
Something drastic should happen to all snoopers – but nothing as awful and frightful as this! First published in Galaxy, March 1957.
[via The Sonic Society]
Posted by Jesse Willis
Everett F. Bleiler, in Science Fiction, The Early Years, described The Diamond Maker as a tale of “science fiction by implication” – but there’s another way of looking at it too. You could argue that it’s just the story of an unsuccessful heel grifter, with a tall tale and a gaffed prop, who puts on the Send.
I like it either way.
The Diamond Maker
By H.G. Wells; Read by Jerome Lawsen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 25, 2008
First published in the Pall Mall Budget, August 16, 1894.
The Diamond Maker
By H.G. Wells; Read by Sean Puckett
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Voices In The Dark
After a long day’s work, our narrator meets a beggar while contemplating the peacefulness of the river embankment. First published in the Pall Mall Budget, August 16, 1894.
Here’s a |PDF| made from the story’s appearance in Science Wonder Stories, June 1929.
And here’s a short film noir style adaptation:
Posted by Jesse Willis