Horror by Guy de Maupassant

February 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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In Supernatural Horror In Literature, H.P. Lovecraft’s monograph on weird fiction, he lists seven short stories by Guy de Maupassant, and one poem. It took a bit of research but I tracked down that one poem and found a public domain English translation of it. I then passed on to Mr Jim Moon, of the wonderful Hypnobobs podcast. He has given it voice:

|MP3| – 2 Minutes 11 Seconds [POEM]

Horror by Guy de Maupassant

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl

December 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Revolting Rhymes and Dirty BeastsRevolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts
By Roald Dahl; Read by Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Miriam Margolyes
Publisher: Penguin Audio
[UNABRIDGED] -  1 hour

Themes: / poetry / children / fairy tales / mischievous animals /

Publisher summary:

Revolting Rhymes

Did you think Cinderella married the prince and lived happily ever after, or that the three little pigs outsmarted the wolf? Think again! Master storyteller Roald Dahl adds his own darkly comic twists to six favorite tales, complete with rambunctious rhymes and hilarious surprise endings.

Dirty Beasts

Roald Dahl’s inimitable style and humor shine in this collection of poems about mischievous and mysterious animals. From Stingaling the scorpion to Crocky-Wock the crocodile, Dahl’s animals are nothing short of ridiculous. A clever pig with an unmentionable plan to save his own bacon and an anteater with an unusually large appetite are among the characters created by Dahl in these timeless rhymes. This new, larger edition is perfect for listening.

This brief and unabridged audio production begins with Revolting Rhymes then progresses into Dirty Beasts. There is music arranged as dividers between the various rhymes. I usually do not like music in audio productions but this is the exception. I appreciated how the music provided a moment for laughter or reflection, and I never felt as if the musical interludes were distracting. Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig, and Miriam Margolyes take turns reading the selections. All of them do a fantastic job, and not once did a narrator overacting the material pull me away from the text. I think Penguin Audio got this right.

While this is aimed at a youthful audience, it’s accessible for all ages. Those who are younger will enjoy the enthusiastic readings and rhyming schemes on display. For the older reader/listener, the cleverness of Dahl is truly something to appreciate.

Incidentally, my favorite was “The Toad and the Snail.”

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

November 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Review

William Shakespeares Star WarsWilliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars
By Ian Doescher; Read by Daniel Davis, Jonathan Davis, January LaVoy, and Marc Thompson
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 1 October 2013
ISBN: 9780804191791
[UNABRIDGED] – 3 hours, 31 minutes

Download excerpt: | MP3 |

Themes: / Star Wars / Shakespeare / poetry / saga / iambic pentameter /

Publisher summary:

Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearsome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.

Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the audiobook you’re looking for.

What if you went to your local Renaissance Fair expecting to watch a Shakespearean play that ended up being Star Wars: A New Hope? Shakespeare’s Star Wars is pretty much what you’d get. If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted take on Star Wars that’s fun to listen to but can also come off a bit silly, you might enjoy this book. Don’t be intimidated by the Shakespeare part, it isn’t difficult to follow. We’re talking Renaissance Fair level of difficulty in understanding what’s going on.

This book follows the events of the first movie (Episode IV) and was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. Some fan service is paid out to small things like whether Han Shot first and Luke’s whining while on the farm. Too much fan service can be bad but I thought this was handled well and not overdone too much. It was just enough that it made me smile or laugh as the story progressed.

As for the Shakespearean side of things, Doescher does a great job of incorporating many of the more well known phrases and devices known from the more well known plays. I have to give him due credit for writing the whole thing in iambic pentameter and making fantastic use of asides (when characters speak to the audience). The asides are really great to show what characters are thinking and I especially like how they are used for R2D2 (and how he “plays the fool”). Doescher makes prolific use of many well known phrases from Shakespeare that work in most places but can be a little too jarring in others when too much of the quote is used (“we few, we happy few…”).

Audiobook: As for the audio performance, I couldn’t have been happier. I expected the Shakespearean dialogue to be difficult to follow but since it’s more like “Renaissance Fair” Shakespeare, it was no problem to understand. The cast did a great job with all the voices and I genuinely laughed after the first couple of R2D2 lines. I should note that I didn’t really like January LaVoy’s performance so much in Razor’s Edge but I thought she did great in this book. All the normal sound effects and music were also present and enjoyable as usual.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Basil Rathbone reads The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

October 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Basil Rathbone reads The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe from the album “Basil Rathbone Reads Edgar Allan Poe“, released 1954 by Caedemon.

Basil Rathbone Reads Edgar Allan Poe

Posted by Jesse Willis

Solomon Kane’s Homecoming by Robert E. Howard

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Solomon Kane's Homecoming by Robert E. HowardFirst published in Fanciful Tales of Time and Space, Fall 1936.
Mr Jim Moon narrates this poem |MP3| by Robert E. Howard.

Here’s a |PDF| made from that publication.

Solomon Kane’s Homecoming by Robert E. Howard

The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs, the air was slashed with foam,
The long tides moaned along the strand when Solomon Kane came home.
He walked in silence strange and dazed through the little Devon town,
His gaze, like a ghost’s come back to life, roamed up the streets and down.

The people followed wonderingly to mark his spectral stare,
And in the tavern silently they thronged about him there.
He heard as a man hears in a dream the worn old rafters creak,
And Solomon lifted his drinking-jack and spoke as a ghost might speak:

“There sat Sir Richard Grenville once; in smoke and flame he passed.
“And we were one to fifty-three, but we gave them blast for blast.
“From crimson dawn to crimson dawn, we held the Dons at bay.
“The dead lay littered on our decks, our masts were shot away.

“We beat them back with broken blades, till crimson ran the tide;
“Death thundered in the cannon smoke when Richard Grenville died.
“We should have blown her hull apart and sunk beneath the Main.”
The people saw upon his wrist the scars of the racks of Spain.

“Where is Bess?” said Solomon Kane. “Woe that I caused her tears.”
“In the quiet churchyard by the sea she has slept these seven years.”
The sea-wind moaned at the window-pane, and Solomon bowed his head.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and the fairest fade,” he said.

His eyes were mystical deep pools that drowned unearthly things,
And Solomon lifted up his head and spoke of his wanderings.
“Mine eyes have looked on sorcery in dark and naked lands,
“Horror born of the jungle gloom and death on the pathless sands.

“And I have known a deathless queen in a city old as Death,
“Where towering pyramids of skulls her glory witnesseth.
“Her kiss was like an adder’s fang, with the sweetness Lilith had,
“And her red-eyed vassals howled for blood in that City of the Mad.

“And I have slain a vampire shape that sucked a black king white,
“And I have roamed through grisly hills where dead men walked at night.
“And I have seen heads fall like fruit in a slaver’s barracoon,
“And I have seen winged demons fly all naked in the moon.

“My feet are weary of wandering and age comes on apace;
“I fain would dwell in Devon now, forever in my place.”
The howling of the ocean pack came whistling down the gale,
And Solomon Kane threw up his head like a hound that sniffs the trail.

A-down the wind like a running pack the hounds of the ocean bayed,
And Solomon Kane rose up again and girt his Spanish blade.
In his strange cold eyes a vagrant gleam grew wayward and blind and bright,
And Solomon put the people by and went into the night.

A wild moon rode the wild white clouds, the waves in white crests flowed,
When Solomon Kane went forth again and no man knew his road.
They glimpsed him etched against the moon, where clouds on hilltop thinned;
They heard an eery echoed call that whistled down the wind.

Solomon Kane's Home-Coming

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Owls by Charles Baudelaire (translated by Clark Ashton Smith)

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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The Owls by Charles Baudelaire, translated by Clark Ashton Smith

From Weird Tales, November-December 1941. Listen to Mr Jim Moon‘s great narration of this poem by Charles Baudelaire |MP3|.

Though credited as having been translated by one “Timeus Gaylord” we are reliably informed that this was a pseudonym of Clark Ashton Smith.

The Owls
By Charles Baudelaire, translated by Clark Ashton Smith

In shelter of the vaulted yews,
Like alien gods who shun the world,
The flown owls wait with feathers furled;
Darting red eyes, they dream and muse.

In rows unmoving they remain
Till the sad hour that they remember,
When, treading down the sun’s last ember,
The towering night resumes its reign.

Their attitude will teach the seer
How wise and needful is the fear
Of movement and of travailment;

For shadow-drunken wanderers bear
On all their ways the chastisement
Of having wished to wend elsewhere.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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