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
I quite like this one. It makes a fit companion to The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Red Room by H.G. Wells.
The Ghosts begins as straightforward haunted house story, one coming out of the Gothic tradition. Our hero, a skeptic, is staying with his brother at an ancient baronial estate. There, he argues with his brother about the existence of ghosts, and what sorts of evidence for their existence would be acceptable. Then, in order to make his point, he proceeds to induce in himself a ghostly experience by means darkness, drugs, and deprivation.
Are the ghosts he sees real and if so, is his point proved?
Here’s an illustrated |PDF| made from the publication in The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reprinted 150 times, according to ISFDB.org entry on it, I’m thinking Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart may very well be the most reprinted story ever.
It’s a pretty great story, so you can see why it would be, but with its popularity comes a flood of different free readings, most not so great. Which is why I was so pleased to find this free version by the great Grover Gardner. Goodness!
The Tell-Tale Heart
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Grover Gardner
1 |MP3| – Approx. 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Redwood Audiobooks (Listen To Genius)
First published in The Pioneer, January 1843.
And here’s a handy |PDF| version.
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
Themes: / Fantasy / Christmas / Elves / Santa / Noir / Murder / Reindeer / It’s a Wonderful Life /
If you’re looking for a holiday story that’s not yet another retelling of The Christmas Carol, then pick up Ken Harmon’s The Fat Man. Gumdrop Coal is framed for murder after being ousted from the Coal Patrol and he’s out to clear his name.
Fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol, two-foot-three inch 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Coal is angry. He’s one of Santa’s original elves, inspired by the fat man’s vision to bring joy to children on that one special day each year. But somewhere along the way things went sour for Gumdrop. Maybe it was delivering one too many lumps of coal for the Naughty List. Maybe it’s the conspiracy against Christmas that he’s starting to sense down every chimney.
Take all the Christmas references your sweet tooth can stand and keep going, add in an embittered and betrayed Elf from the Coal Patrol, Reindeer with the panache of top gun fighter pilots, and a spunky girl reporter, Buttercup Snitch, who either only has eyes for Gumdrop or is in on the frame job.
The story is told by Gumdrop Coal, leader and founder of the Coal Patrol, in a wonderful hard bitten noir style. Gumdrop is used to dealing with some nasty customers (children). The Coal Patrol are the guys who work from the Naughty List. After it’s been checked, twice.
Set in Kringle Town with Santa and the Elves. Filled with characters you will have heard from assorted Christmas Fairy. But they aren’t all as you might expect.
It isn’t all candy and Christmas trees; there is also a dark side to Kringle Town. The other side of the tracks: Potterville. If you’ve ever watched It’s a Wonderful Life you should recognise that name.
Gumdrop doesn’t believe Naughty Boys and Girls should be treated the same as their well behaved siblings. That smothering all children in gifts regardless of merit lessens both the gift and the child.
Johnny Heller tells it in a wonderful straight-up noir-style, even when doing the high pitched elves.
Posted by Paul [W] Campbell
SFFaudio Podcast #189 featured our chat with the fantastic writer Tim Prasil – about his MARVELLOUS BOXES anthology series (as produced by Decoder Ring Theatre). Something that came up in that discussion was that one of the stories, Plotting For Perfection, was based on a short story Tim has the story online, |PDF|, and has now graciously narrated it for our listening pleasure:
Plotting For Perfection
By Tim Prasil; Read by Tim Prasil
1 |MP3| – Approx. 32 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Provider: Tim Prasil
Provided: December 2012
A photographer on assignment meets his future love, an astrophysicist, and then is visited by photographs of their future life together.
Posted by Jesse Willis