Dune Roller by Julian May

November 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Julian May’s first published story, Dune Roller, became something of a popular tale – at least with editor Robert Silverberg who had it in two of his anthologies one which collected “masterpieces” and the other which collected “great” tales. Indeed, the novelette was quickly adapted as an episode of the Tales Of Tomorrow TV series. There was also an apparently “abominable” 1972 movie adaptation called The Cremators, and there was this 1961 BBC Home Service radio dramatization (available via torrent over on RadioArchive.cc).

BBC RadioRadioArchives.ccDune Roller
Adapted from the short story by Julian May; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 59 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Home Service
Broadcast: January 26, 1961
On isolated island in Lake Michigan a visiting ecologist discovers an unknown mineral that’s been linked to a local legend of a ravenous creature. First published in Astounding, December 1951.

Dune Roller - illustrated by Julian May
Dune Roller - illustrated by Julian May
Dune Roller - illustrated by Julian May
Dune Roller - illustrated by Julian May

It was also, rather successfully adapted to television for Tales Of Tomorrow:

Download the |MP4|.

Trailer for The Cremators:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of IT by Stephen King

July 14, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - IT by Stephen KingIT
By Stephen King; Read by Steven Weber
45 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2010
Themes: / Horror / Childhood / Adulthood / Monsters /

You don’t have to look back to see those children; part of your mind will see them forever, live with them forever, love with them forever. They are not necessarily the best part of you, but they were once the repository of all you could become.
—Stephen King, IT

What quality separates an adult from a child? Is it responsibility in the former and unbridled freedom in the latter? Do adults possess a higher order of thinking? Or, to take a cynical view, are adults merely physically larger (perhaps they/we never really do grow up)?

I happen to think there is a difference, though it’s hard to say precisely what. You could describe adulthood as a phase through which we all must pass, else we remain stunted and undeveloped, looking backward instead of forward, unable to transform into the mature beings that the hard world requires. Indefinable and amorphous, you may as well call this period of transition it. Stephen King did, and in 1985 he wrote a massive book by the same name about this very subject.

As is King’s forte, IT is also a horror story, and a terrifying one at that. The villain of IT is a creature that lurks in the sewers of Derry, Maine, one that takes the shape of our worst fears. IT’s favorite shape is a painted clown known as Pennywise, friendly at first glance but whose greasepaint smile reveals a double-row of Gillette razor teeth. Pennywise can also take the form of a werewolf, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, and more. Whatever a particular child finds most terrifying, Pennywise can take its shape.

Pennywise has been preyed on the children of Derry for untold generations, emerging from a deep slumber in the sewers every 27 years to feed. After a year of gruesome killings (written up in the press as mysterious child disappearances, or frequently blamed on other sources), the cycles end with a culminating event, typically an awful orgy of destruction, after which the creature resumes its hibernation.

But Pennywise—aka., IT—always comes back. Derry is perennially under its pall and seems to accept the darkness as “just the way things are” and the horrors continue in cyclical fashion. But then comes the summer of 1958. A group of 10 and 11-year-old children called the Loser’s Club, led by a stuttering, charismatic child known as Bill Denbrough, unite to battle Pennywise. All have had close brushes with the monster. Scarred by their experiences but united in purpose (Bill’s six year old brother Georgie is dragged into the sewer and killed in a gruesome scene at the beginning of the novel, and Bill vows revenge), they travel into Derry’s byzantine sewer systems to put an end to the monster. Following an epic confrontation in the creature’s den the children vow to return to Derry should Pennywise/IT ever return.

One of the club, Mike Hanlon, remains behind in the ensuring decades to watch and wait. When Pennywise does re-emerge 27 years later the children of the Loser’s Club are now adults in their late 30s. Some higher power has mercifully allowed them to forget the terrible events of their childhood and move on with their lives. But now they have to fight the terrible evil once more and growing up has diminished them in some way. This time around they find themselves less equipped to fight.

IT is a great story full of memorable events, places, and characters. King imbues Derry with its own personality, and the town feels like a member of the cast. King skillfully weaves in events from Derry’s awful past, including past murder sprees and the culminating bloodbaths that sent IT back into the sewers, including a horrific nightclub fire (The Black Spot) and the explosion of the Kitchener Ironworks.

But in the end, what I like most about IT, and what separates the book from much of the rest of King’s oeuvre, is its thoughtful exploration of that amorphous crossing of the bar from youth to maturity. To get where you want to go in life you have to grow up, King says, but it’s not a simple process. The transition from childhood to adulthood is a complex and bittersweet, its benefits equivocal. Adulthood brings with it at least some measure of financial, parental, and geographic freedom. We can leave those hometowns that are so frequently a source of shame and failure and hidden darkness. But in so doing we lose a lot, too—our dreams, our innocence, our closest friends, and sometimes even our faith in a higher power. And the only way to defeat Pennywise—that monstrous, childhood IT—is through faith.

King has been accused by his critics of being shallow, all style and no substance (he did himself no favors by once calling himself “the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries”). But I’ve found that his best material has more depth than meets than eye. IT is not just about battling monsters. Or rather it is about that, but the monsters are also the real, adult fears of loneliness, guilt, and dependency, of growing up, of confronting the monsters of one’s past and trying to move on. We are all incomplete until we face our past and determine who we are, what we stand for, and how we want to live our lives. This personal struggle, as much as visceral, horrific battles with Pennywise, is what brings me back to IT again and again.

I will say that IT is not without its problems, including a sequence that remains controversial among King’s readers. Without spoiling the story, it involves a coming of age ritual in the sewers that is a bit off-putting and jarring, even though I do understand its purposes. Some of the characters feel a bit one-trick and allegorical (representative of concepts rather than three-dimensional human beings). Other readers have complained that IT’s big secret—Pennywise’s final reveal—a bit of a let-down after 1,000 pages of build up. King is unfortunately often guilty of unsatisfying endings to otherwise great novels, and IT arguably suffers from the same problem. I don’t necessarily agree, as I find the epilogue incredibly satisfying, but others have made this criticism.

But despite its flaws, IT is one of my favorite books by King. With a memorable monster, a nice cast of characters, and a compelling, decades-spanning storyline with an epic final showdown, IT is a horrific page turner with deeper literary ambitions that it mostly fulfills.

Posted by Brian Murphy

The Sonic Society: Pulpy, Mysterious, Funny

October 20, 2007 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Sonic SocietySeason 3 of The Sonic Society, is well under way, their latest, and possibly greatest episode to date! Have a listen |MP3|.

This ep showcases Broken Sea‘s pulpy adventure series Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter. Scripting for JS: MH is well researched, and very fun. The two episodes included are from the second story arc entitled Jake Sampson And The Tears Of Ra. It is a supernatural tale primarily set in 1920s Egypt. Personally I could do without the footsteps in echoing corridors but other than that this is a highly recommended listen.

Also included in this show is the third episode of the increasingly mysterious audio drama from New Zealand. The show is called Claibourne Claybourne, it feels like a Kiwi version of Twin Peaks. It is quite slick. but I can’t seem to find a website or much information about the program on the web though. Anybody know more about Claibourne? Claybourne‘s own podcast can be found HERE, where it has already concluded with Episode 96!*

Also on tap in this show is the funniest listen ever heard on The Sonic Society, a skit from “wacko parody/absurdist/topical/musical/slapstick radio sketch comedy project” called Wasted Tape. It has nothing to do with Science Fiction, Fantasy, or even Horror but I think you’ll dig it anyway. The subject of the WT players’ jocularity: An all male cast of The Vagina Monologues.

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to The Sonic Society’s podcast feed:

http://sonic.libsyn.com/rss

*Thanks Roy!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Shadow Killer by Matthew Scott Hansen

May 9, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Shadow   Killer by Matthew Scott HansenThe Shadow Killer
By Matthew Scott Hansen; Read by William Dufris
2 MP3 CDs or 12 CDs; Approx. 15 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 1400153255 (MP3-CDs); 9781400103256 (CDs)
Themes: / Horror / Sasquatch / Paranormal / Indigene / Monster / Mystery / Mythical Creature /

At first I thought to myself. Bigfoot? Really? It just seemed like the sort of thing you might find in the B-movie isle at Blockbuster. In a way, yes, it is, but not in that cheap, cheesy sort of way, where you feel like you’re just a little dirtier, just a little dumber just for watching. No, The Shadow Killer by Matthew Scott Hansen is a novel that takes all the known clichés from this sort of monster/disaster stories and hones in on the razor sharp edges of them. He does this while still keeping the book compulsively fun.

You know how Bigfoot always seems like a really tall guy in a monkey suit? Well, this is not that kind of Bigfoot story. The luxury of Bigfoot in written form, is that Bigfoot can be as big as the author wants him to be. In fact, there is much of the book spent avoiding the specifics of the actual size, allowing the reader/listener to come up with their own idea of how big it is.

This sasquatch is an angry one. The beginning of the story tells of how his tribe, clan, family, kin have been wiped out and killed by a forest fire. He is the lone survivor and is set off on a mission of revenge towards “The Keepers of Fire”, who just turn out to be us humans. He starts wreaking havoc and slowly builds up to a terrorizing rampage. But, since the existence of Bigfoot has never been proven, it’s not exactly easy to catch him, or even figure out what exactly is going on.

This edge-of-your-seat thriller centers around an ensemble cast who each have varying degrees of faith in the actual existence of this giant. There is a retired software engineer, whose life has been in shambles since he actually encountered a different Bigfoot three years prior, while on vacation. No one believed him, of course, and he has been obsessed ever since. There’s a Sheriff’s Detective who gets assigned to the investigation of all the strange occurrences and missing people in the area. There is even a bloodthirsty TV reporter who has aspirations towards the big time, and she too latches on to the story, willing to do anything to get higher ratings. Last, there’s my favorite character; Ben, aging Indian, who has been having dreams about being chased by this enormous beast. He seems to be connected to this animal and begins searching for it, not knowing exactly what will happen when he finds it. The story seems like a bunch of people being eaten and terrorized for the first several chapters, until Ben is introduced. He’s instantly likeable.

The story is relentless. Once it gets going, it does not let up, and while a few of the characters of this book are still standing in the end, no one gets out with out a few battle wounds, both physically and emotionally. These people get run through the wringer and you go through the wringer with them. As the reader, you start to wonder how much more of this they can take. The writing and descriptions of these scenes are of laser intensity. You know within just a few words of meeting a character whether you are going to like that character or hate them, and once you do like or hate a character the rest of the tale only strengthens your feelings in that direction.

For me, the most enjoyable part of listening to this book was the narration by William Dufris. He is a master of capturing the emotion and feeling of a moment, and in such a way that it really plays out in your mind. Where some narrators might perform a little bit, putting some feeling in to the character’s dialogue and descriptions, Dufris turns his reading in to a tour de force.

This book has numerous characters, all with different voices and attitudes. He can make you laugh, cry, cringe and feel out of breath, all with a few simple inflections to his voice. Female characters somehow sound like real women, and there is not one ounce of discomfort or sense of overacting. Dufris does the reading so well, that you forget that you are actually listening to one man doing all of this by himself. All the while making it seem like it is the simplest of actions. Just like most masters of their craft, William Dufris makes his vocation, audiobook narration, look easy.

All in all, this audio book is a highly entertaining listen. Its got a little bit of everything. But, be warned this is adult material. There are verbose detailed sexual situations and gore that place very interesting pictures in your head. Including one scene of murder where the animal can sense that the woman he is killing is “ready to mate”. What follows after, is one of the few times I have ever felt queasy about what I was listening to. That scene is very well written and extremely vivid, but still discomforting. When you think it’s as bad as it is going to get for this woman, it gets even worse, and I’ll just leave it at that.

So, if you have a strong stomach, like a monster story with great characters and a great narrator, this audio book does what I feel audio books should do for the listener; it won’t let you stop listening to it. In the 15 hours I spent listening to this novel, I never felt bored and my sense of dread and fear for the characters was omnipresent. Maybe, by the time you finish listening, you’ll believe in Bigfoot too.