Harper Audio was founded in 1952 under the name “Caedmon.” Harper Audio still occasionally publishes under its Caedmon label but its real heyday was in the late 1970s. Uniquely, the back of each album featured unique liner notes typically written specifically for the LP. Witness this vintage magazine ad (from Unearth, Spring 1978):
Posted by Jesse Willis
Maissa Bessada narrates for us Silly Asses a one page (400 word) satirical short story by Isaac Asimov.
Also available is a |PDF| made from a scan of the original publication in Future Science Fiction, February 1958.
And here is the complete text:
Silly Asses by Isaac Asimov
Naron of the long-lived Rigellian race was the fourth of his line to keep the galactic records.
He had a large book which contained the list of the numerous races throughout the galaxies that had developed intelligence, and the much smaller book that listed those races that had reached maturity and had qualified for the Galactic Federation. In the first book, a number of those listed were crossed out; those that, for one reason or another, had failed. Misfortune, biochemical or biophysical shortcomings, social maladjustment took their toll. In the smaller book, however, no member listed had yet blanked out.
And now Naron, large and incredibly ancient, looked up as a messenger approached.
“Naron,” said the messenger. “Great One!”
“Well, well, what is it? Less ceremony.”
“Another group of organisms has attained maturity.”
“Excellent. Excellent. They are coming up quickly now. Scarcely a year passes without a new one. And who are these?”
The messenger gave the code number of the galaxy and the coordinates of the world within it.
“Ah, yes,” said Naron. “I know the world.” And in flowing script he noted it in the first book and transferred its name into the second, using, as was customary, the name by which the planet was known to the largest fraction of its populace. He wrote: Earth.
He said, “These new creatures have set a record. No other group has passed from intelligence to maturity so quickly. No mistake, I hope.”
“None, sir,” said the messenger.
“They have attained to thermonuclear power, have they?”
“Well, thats the criterion.” Naron chuckled. “And soon their ships will probe out and contact the Federation.”
“Actually, Great One,” said the messenger, reluctantly, “the Observers tell us they have not yet penetrated space.”
Naron was astonished. “Not at all? Not even a space station?”
“Not yet, sir.”
“But if they have thermonuclear power, where do they conduct the tests and detonations?”
“On their own planet, sir.”
Naron rose to his full twenty feet of height and thundered, “On their own planet?”
Slowly Naron drew out his stylus and passed a line through the latest addition in the small book. It was an unprecedented act, but, then, Naron was very wise and could see the inevitable as well as anyone in the galaxy.
“Silly asses,” he muttered.
Asimov wrote Silly Asses on July 29, 1957. To put that in context, just ten days earlier (July 19, 1957), as a part of Operation Plumbbob the USAF filmed five Air Force officers standing directly under an atmospheric nuclear detonation. The idea was to demonstrate the safe usage of nuclear weapons over civilian populations.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
The audiobook, Recorded Books, the appendix, The Lord Of The Rings, the feeling in your right hand, a dream-like book, Room 101, a disjointing of time, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Signet Classic, already a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League at 12, a 1971 sex drive, memory, Winston Smith’s obsession with the past, the three traitors, the Soviet Union as applied to Britain, show trials, it is so effective, The Running Man is a prole version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, “WHITMAN, PRICE, AND HADDAD!!! You remember them! There they are now, BASKING under the Maui sun.”, down the memory hole, the brutality of the movies and the applause of the audience, the crushing of weakness, the terrible children, the 1954 BBC TV version starring Peter Cushing, Winston’s own memories of his childhood, did Winston kill his sister, his bowels turn to water when he see a rat, the return of the mother, a bag of decay, the 1984 version of 1984, John Hurt looks like he was born to play Winston Smith, is it Science Fiction?, dystopia, does this feel like Science Fiction?, Social Science Fiction, If This Goes On… by Robert A. Heinlein, Animal Farm, Goldstein’s Book, the re-writing of history, collapsing the vocab, The Languages Of Pao by Jack Vance, Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, The Embedding by Ian Watson, Isaac Asimov’s review of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell imagines no new vices, WWIII, in regular SF we get used to a lack of motifs, the coral, the memories, the place with no darkness, everything is recycled in a dream and people merge, in dream logic 2+2 can equal 5, reduction of the world and the self, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, soma, The Hunger Games, Wool by Hugh Howey, cleaning day, grease, transformed language, a crudboard box, euphony, a greasy world, a comparison to We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, We The Living by Ayn Rand, Harcourt Brace, Politics And The English Language by George Orwell, V For Vendetta, Norsefire vs. IngSoc, a circuitous publishing history, crudpaper, prole dialect, part dialect, New Speak, military language, Generation Kill, military language is bureaucratic language, Dune by Frank Herbert, Battle Language, private language, Brazil, the thirteen’s hour, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, victory means shit, Airstrip One, speakwrite, Star Wars, careful worlding, a masterwork, a transformation and an inoculation, watch 1984 on your phone while the NSA watches you watch it, North Korea, “without getting to political”, 2600‘s editor is Emmanuel Goldstein, the traitor Snowden, that’s what this book is, it’s political, The Lives Of Others, hyper-competent, the bedroom scene, “We are the dead.”, how did the picture break off the wall, dream-logic, Jesse knows when he’s dreaming, if you dream a book you must generate the text, dreaming of books that don’t exist, a great sequel to Ringworld?, The Sandman, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”, O’Brien, Martin, the worst thing is you can’t control what you say when your sleeping, uncanny valley,
Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure IngSoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was
his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.
Polar Express, the book within the book, high end books, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, is London the capital of Oceania?, the value of the book, Stephen Fry’s character, a book that tells you only things you already knew, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, the possibilities of other books, supercharged moments in movies, Twelve Monkeys, Dark City, Book Of Dreams, utopias within dystopias, reading in comfort and safety, the golden place, Julia is a pornosec writer, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Processed Word by John Varley, Russian humor, is there really a war?, power is the power to change reality, Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, doublethinking it, the proles seem to be happier, feeling contempt, lottery tickets depress Jesse, “renting the dream”, the proles are obsessed by lotteries, who is the newspaper for?, the chocolate ration, Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History Of The Universe, how stable is Oceania?, guys and Guy, how stable is North Korea?, Christopher Hitchens, there’s no hope in 1984, the subversion mechanism has been subverted, changing human behavior, Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick, genocide, racial purity, are they bombing themselves?, where does Julia get all her treats?, utopia is a nice cup of coffee, The Principle Of Hope by Ernst Bloch, what’s missing from your life comrade?, is Julia playing a role?, she’s the catalyst for everything, misogyny vs. misanthropy, Nietzsche’s master morality slave morality, political excitement is transformed into sexual excitement, ‘I have a real body it occupies space (no you don’t you’re a fictional character)’, Julia’s punk aesthetic, I love you., she’s the dream girl, the romantic couple that brings down the bad order, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Pacific Rim, The Matrix, Equilibrium, Mephistopheles, Mustapha Mond, Jesse thought she was in on it, the prole lady out the window, nature, ragged leafless shrubs, nature has been killed, the Byzantine Empire, the Catholic Church, cult of personality vs. an idoru Big Brother, Eurythmics, we’re nostalgic for the Cold War, the now
iconic ironic 1984 Apple commercial, dems repubs NSA, has Britain been secretly controlling the world using America?, George Bernard Shaw, society and politics, SF about the Vietnam War, petition for and against the war, Judith Merril, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, China.
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
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
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Recent Arrivals
I had an exciting Friday a few months back. I’m calling the events of June 1st, 2012 The Adventure Of The Mysterious Sherlock Holmes Audio Dramas In The Thrift Store
The story begins with me visiting a thrift store. I first found this vintage 1975 box of Lego (with the original Woolco price tag still on the box) – I got it for just $4. Then I picked up a $2 game called Isaac Asimov Presents Waddington’s SUPERQUIZ.
Then, in the audiobook section I spotted three two-cassette collections for $4 each.
And they turned out to be the big winner.
Entitled simply “The Sherlock Homes Collection“, at first I thought they were audiobooks, something I’ve seen many times before. But the price stickers obscured the details. Then was a shock, an instant of recognition for the actor pictured on the back covers was none other than Roy Marsden of The Sandbaggers fame – I covertly peeled back one of the stickers and investigated further.
They were audio dramas!
According to Grant Eustace’s website (he adapted them) only 6 of the 24 dramatizations produced were broadcast (on BBC World Service). But that may not mean they were no well received as it appears that they were actually produced for British Airways in-flight audio entertainment. One thing seems clear, I didn’t know they had even existed before that Friday, and I think that probably meant they wer’e not very well known.
I got “Collection Three” (ISBN: 0773305033) which features adaptations of:
The Red Headed League
The Solitary Cyclist
A Scandal In Bohemia
The Blue Carbuncle
“Collection Four” (ISBN: 0773305041) which features adaptations of:
The Speckled Band
The Golden Prince-Nez
The Man With The Twisted Lip
And “Collection Six” (ISBN: 0773305068) which features adaptations of:
The Devil’s Foot
The Bruce Partington Plans
The Cardboard Box
There are two different companies credited with publication, BFS Audio (and BFS Entertainment is still in business) and Talking Tape Company (which I have no data on). The tapes themselves all have the BFS Audio logo on them.
Here are the details:
Cover of Collection Three:
Interior details from Collection Three:
Cover of Collection Four:
Interior details from Collection Four:
Cover of Collection Six:
Interior details from Collection Six:
Now, after listening to the twelve dramas over the last few months I can happily report that these are really excellent productions. Very swift, but dialogue driven, with uniformly excellent acting.
If you’ve got a source that has the other three collections please let me, and everyone else, know by commenting. This series should be much better known.
Posted by Jesse Willis