Review of The Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

December 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dream-quest of unknown kadathThe Dream-quest of Unknown Kadath
By H. P. Lovecraft; Performed by Jim Roberts
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 6 hours
Themes: / cats / ghouls / dark shapes that meep / a lost city / horror /
Publisher summary:
Three times Randolph Carter dreamed of the marvelous city, and three times was he snatched away while still he paused on the high terrace above it.” Randolph Carter embarks on an epic quest across a world beyond the wall of sleep in search of an opulent and mysterious sunset city. When he prays to the gods of dream to reveal the whereabouts of this magical city, they do not answer, and his dreams stop altogether. Undaunted, Carter resolves to go to Kadath, where the gods live, and beseech them in person. However, no one has ever been to Kadath, and no one even knows how to get there—but that won’t stop Randolph Carter from trying.
We all love the quest story. Without some sort of a quest, the story falls into introspective navel gazing, and becomes as interesting as reading about someone’s cup of tea growing cold near a rain-soaked window overlooking a drab landscape of bent grass fading in the waning light of gloaming. Quests are good, in literature, games, and life. H.P. Lovecraft gives us a quest, and I liked it, for the most part. Those of you familiar with Lovecraft will undoubtedly nod your chin when I suggest that this story is a little weighted with those wonderfully complex names of gods, of places, of rites practiced in secret darkness. If you can overlook the name thing and concentrate on the story, it’s nice enough. While I don’t believe this is Lovecraft at his best, I do feel it’s a must for those Lovecraft enthusiasts.The audiobook is roughly four and a half hours, and I’ll admit it, I increased the speed by a factor of three, sometimes four. Jim Roberts is the narrator, and I feel this is an example of mismanaged casting. Roberts is a competent narrator, and I have enjoyed some of his readings in the past. But his voice sounds like your grandfather’s brother, which is just fine if the narrative follows such a gentlemen. But it doesn’t work well when the protagonist is for all intensive purposes, a younger man full of vigor and drive. It’s a minor grouse, but I never managed to rid myself of this incongruity between reader and main character.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of Tales of Terror

November 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Tales of TerrorTales of Terror Collection
A Night in Whitechapel, Was It a Dream?, Caterpillars, John Mortonson’s Funeral
By: Ambrose Bierce, Guy de Maupassant, E.F. Benson; Performed by Victor Garber
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 1 disc, 1 hour!
Themes: / short stories / horror / classic / supernatural /
Publisher summary:

‘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.

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins

November 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins was first published in the magazine Household Words, April 24, 1852.

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins

The Weird CircleThe Weird Circle – A Terribly Strange Bed
Adapted from the story by Wilkie Collins; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 3, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

SuspenseSuspense – A Terribly Strange Bed
Adapted from the story by Wilkie Collins; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: June 7, 1954
Provider: Archive.org

Audiobook:

Weird Circle adaptation:

Suspense adaptation:

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe

October 31, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe - illustration by Corben

A double Halloween treat, my favourite Edgar Allan Poe short story, a Gothic Horror tale as narrated by two of my favourite people.

First up, as narrated by Julie Davis of Forgotten Classics and A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcasts.

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan PoeThe Oval Portrait
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Julie Davis
1 |MP3| Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
The injured narrator finds, upon the pillow of a bed in an abandoned castle in the Appenines, a book describing the many paintings that adorn the room he lies in.
First published in Graham’s Magazine, April 1842.

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe - illustrated by Jesse

And from the voice of Lovecraft and his WeirdAudiobooks.com, the great Wayne June!

The Oval Portrait - LEGOized by Jesse

And here’s an illustrated |PDF| version!

The Oval Portrait (from a French printing)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #288 – READALONG: The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson

October 27, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #288 – Jesse and Mr Jim Moon talk about The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson.

Talked about on today’s show:
1912, The House On The Borderland, a great flawed masterwork, Panther UK, The Ghost Pirates, Carnacki, “you could club a night hound to death with it!”, why you shouldn’t skip the first chapter (or why you should), what’s missing: hey we found this document, the unnamed protagonist(s), a handwritten font, a seventeenth century that never was, the style and the tics, giant paragraphs starting with “and” “yet” “now”, no dialogue at all, the Lady Mirdath, a deliberately clumsy journal, a found footage book, a book to savour, Scott Danielson, mostly kissing, a little spanking, washing and kissing feet, playing the coquette, the Ballantine publication with the Lin Carter introduction, why is Hodgson such a romantic in this book?, Sam Gafford, writing order vs. publication order, The Night Land as the work of a young adolescent man, getting into the rhythm of the language, the Pyramid of the Lesser Redoubt, the 80% mark, the black river, a morass of romance, gender politics, horror?, Lovecraftian horrors in the background, fantasy, adolescent fantasy, a mother and a damsel, fight monsters and capture the princess, honoured as a hero, a classic adventure story, the landscape itself, how does the ecology work?, no sun and no moon, an utterly far future, it retains its plausibility, a new dark age of science and sorcery, a scientifically minded man, a 17th century man, the “earth current”, geothermal energy, when the earth was struck by a comet, pierced to the mantle, the oceans drained away, a dying earth, flying machines, The Night Land is future-proofed, the Earth is tidally locked, Lord Kelvin’s estimate, trees? trees?, the Moon is gone, the stars are gone, an underground world, the other stars have also burned out, billion year old petrified trees?, mega-fauna, at the ocean’s bottom there are lots of predators, moss bushes, living on the little light of the lava pits, the Country Of Seas, the Black River, moss trees?, spiders, scorpions, snakes, the four armed men, the humped men, the great men, monstrous mutations, the Night Hounds and the Watchers are unclean things intruding into our world, damaging the fabric of reality, abhumans, neither animal nor supernatural, Outside forces, the Watchers, converging on the Great Redoubt, you don’t see anything as menacingly powerful even in Mordor, subsisting on isotopes, giant eidolons or avatars of outside forces, pawns of the power of evil shaped out of the landscape itself, the Listening Ear, slow but intelligent, the Thing That Nods, the Earth will be destroyed (in so many ways), WWI, mutating away, all these threats to humanity are symbolized, aeons of encroachment, the Watcher Of The South, the Watcher Of The North-East, the light in the eye, “the essential doubt that is part of myth and legend”, cast iron mythology, the joys of The Night Land, the last of humanity in one building, it won’t belong before humanity degenerates, the grey metal armor, the diskos, a spinning metal weapon wouldn’t work, “don’t hold it that way”, whipping, immature attitudes, whose wearing what, “you’re not eating you pills!”, something real and human, a youth of 17, beneath the constant kissing, the audiobook version, an epic of two characters, the Master Monstruwacans keeping the telescopes warm, the top of the pyramid, the farmers (as usual) are at the bottom of the social pyramid, deep into the Earth, the first proper dying earth, a sequel to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, a fannish projection, Darkness by Lord Byron, the journey to the far future, the journey through Mordor, C.S. Lewis read The Night Land, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Inklings, Sam Gafford’s hypothesis, the first fully fledged dying earth story, Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique, Jack Vance, a love across time, the dog and the sister, human emotion played out across a backdrop, the last reel of 2001: A Space Odyssey, deep future, TheNightLand.co.uk, why you should read chapter one, they always meet at night, attacked by footpads, boar hounds, pigs, she dies in childbirth, then the crazy stuff happens, it was all mistake and they lived happily ever after, the framing sequence in The House On The Borderland, a journal of actual life and a journal of a future incarnation, “she called me by my pet name”, “I called her Mirdath”, the product of a nervous breakdown, a manic wish-fulfillment, the focus is not on the 17th century writer, deep into the night, the names, powdered food and powdered water, telepathy, mind elements, the night hearing, awesomely hilarious and completely wrong, “the master word”, an authentication against false messages, public key cryptography, discos?, a 17th century man who somehow got a hold of the projector and some reels of Tron (1982), the plot of Tron, an avatar of everyone he knows is in there, The Lego Movie (2014) has the same plot, Small Town by Philip K. Dick, some crazy futurist, Frank Tippler, reincarnated in a computer program, a dreamland, the hypnagogic land, a novel theory, Hodgson is such a good writer that we are doing most of the work, the greater and the lesser, the reflections, what’s going on in the House Of Silence?, why is the nodder nodding?, the road where the silent ones walk, the country from where comes laughter, monstrous black slug creatures, wilderness hazards, capital “E” evil, “Ah, last of humanity.” [licks lips], is the House of Silence the House on the Borderland?, the arena, Hodgson is an amazing power of a writer, retelling of The Night Land, stories set in The Night Land, he has the power of H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, because Lovecraft liked them, the unrecognized part of Lovecraft’s legacy is that he was a fan, oh the really long difficult one, you need to be a mature and patient reader, The Dream Of X, The Shadow Out Of Time, a mind swap through time, Lovecraft was fundamentally uninterested in making money, somebody’s pet project, an artwork, will this be popular?, I wanna make some money, the Carnacki stories were commercial, prog-rock, a concept album, self-indulgent doesn’t necessarily mean bad, “what I really need is a 500 page novel written in 17th century language”, written for his own edification and amusement, nautical fiction, The Boats Of Glen Carrig, The Voice In The Night, horrible and romantic, an infection story, body horror, The Night Boat?, “I just found this it was in an old trunk”, “outshone by the Wellses, Doyles, and Ashton Smiths”, there’s something to this idea, John C. Wright, Greg Bear, screen adaptations, The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, The Night Land is ideal for film script, giant slug battles, A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs has the same plot, he out-Howards Robert E. Howard, the nobility of masculinity, a male archetype, physical culture, body building, William Hope Hodgson was a hottie, a Hodgson bio-pic would be a winner.

Fabian A DREAM OF X
Pays Nuit
Ballantine - The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
Fabian - The Watcher Of The South
Fabian - Into Mine Arms
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson - Word Cloud

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4 Extra: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu [RADIO DRAMA]

October 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

This is a pretty terrific adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire classic, Carmilla. David Warner is wonderful as the father of the doomed Laura. And the music sounds, to my untrained ear, like that from Wojciech Kilar‘s in the 1992 movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

BBC Radio 4 ExtraCarmilla
By Don McCamphill; Adapted from the novella by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; performed by a full cast
Approx 44. Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Brodcaster: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Broadcast: Nov 1, 2011
A young woman finds her lonely existence in a remote Austrian castle enlivened by the arrival of a mysterious and beautiful visitor – Carmilla. What was the unworldly setting in which they last met? And why does Carmilla so violently reject the hawker’s amulet designed to ward off evil spirits?

Produced for BBC Northern Ireland Drama.

Cast:
Anne-Marie Duff
David Warner
Brana Bajic
Celia Imrie
Kenneth Cranham

Posted by Jesse Willis

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