Review of The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Savage Tales of Solomon KaneThe Savage Tales of Solomon Kane
By Robert E. Howard; Narrated by Paul Boehmer
Publisher: Tantor Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours, 30 minutesThemes: / pulp / fantasy / hero / short stories / Publisher summary:

With Conan the Cimmerian, Robert E. Howard created more than the greatest action hero of the twentieth century—he also launched a genre that came to be known as sword and sorcery. But Conan was not the first archetypal adventurer to spring from Howard’s fertile imagination.

He was…a strange blending of Puritan and Cavalier, with a touch of the ancient philosopher, and more than a touch of the pagan…. A hunger in his soul drove him on and on, an urge to right all wrongs, protect all weaker things…. Wayward and restless as the wind, he was consistent in only one respect—he was true to his ideals of justice and right. Such was Solomon Kane.

Collected in this volume are all of the stories that make up the thrilling saga of the dour and deadly Puritan: “Skulls in the Stars,” “The Right Hand of Doom,” “Red Shadows,” “Rattle of Bones,” “The Castle of the Devil,” “Death’s Black Riders,” “The Moon of Skulls,” “The One Black Stain,” “The Blue Flame of Vengeance,” “The Hills of the Dead,” “Hawk of Basti,” “The Return of Sir Richard Grenville,” “Wings in the Night,” “The Footfalls Within,” “The Children of Asshur,” and “Solomon Kane’s Homecoming.”

I don’t normally seem to enjoy older works of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and unfortunately, things were no different here. I was never a Conan fan growing, so I’d never read any of Mr. Howard before. The audiobook collection stars with an obituary or memorium written by H.P. Lovecraft with whom Mr. Howard apparently corresponded.

Mr. Howard is probably best known for his character Conan, but Solomon Kane is often credited as the first “Sword & Sorcery” character.

In this collection of stories Solomon Kane fights Pirates, Ghosts, Vampires, Sorcerors, Harpies and more. Solomon Kane wields daggers, pistols a sword, and in later stories, a magical staff. Sounds like it would be great! Unfortunately I was mostly bored. The best story of the bunch for me was The Children of Asshur, which was only a fragment and therefore ends somewhat abruptly. I would have liked to see where Mr. Howard intended to go with that story.

There are certainly things to like here. The writing isn’t bad and the adventures are certainly varied enough, but it just seemed like not much really happens most of the time. And then there is the racism. You can pull out the usual excuses, when the book what written, or the fact that the racism portrayed is probably accurate to the characters themselves. That doesn’t change the fact for me that it kept pulling me out of the stories.  It’s not in every story, but is present in most, especially those where Solomon Kane travels to Africa. Many times it seemed like an unnecessary aside, rather than an important plot point for or character motivation.

All in all, as I believe these stories are in public domain you might be better off picking one or two to check out rather than the whole collection. I think the best complete story was The Hills of the Dead, where Kane first gets his magic staff and fights a horde of vampires.

Review by Rob Zak.

The SFFaudio Podcast #237 – A PODCAST ABOUT PODCASTS

November 4, 2013 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #237 – Jesse, Tamahome, Julie Davis, Seth, and Jimmy Rogers talk about podcasts.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jimmy’s Synthetic Voices, Jenny’s Forgotten Classics and A Good Story is Hard to Find, podcasts are a house of mirrors, we have reached the podcast singularity, Julie’s podcast highlight feature, Edgar Allan Poecast, Dickens and Hawthorn podcasts on Julie’s wishlist, Jimmy’s podcast group meetup, Washington Science Fiction Association, Jimmy’s segment on StarShipSofa, the value of curated podcasts about podcasts, Luke Burrage’s geek Venn diagram (see below), Julie on the intimate nature of podcast listening, Jesse on the rarity of finding people who speak like they write, podcasts invite listeners into the conversation, “Tam listens to all podcasts”, SFSignalSword & Laser, mainstream podcasts, Security NowABC NewsAgony Column, Jesse wants to hit Margaret Atwood again, 99% Invisible funded by KickStarter, Julie scans the new releases section in iTunes, KCRW’s DnA and Martini Shot, Inside the New York Times Book Review Podcast, NPR’s Car TalkWait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!Nature podcast, Science UpdateEncounters60 Minutes is tightly edited (and that’s how it is!), Vice podcast (HBO show tie-in) and Dennis Rodman, FreakonomicsDay 6, Dan Carlin’s Common Sense and Hardcore History, CBC embraces podcasters, Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac makes Seth sound smart, audio drama, the Lovecraftian Welcome to Night ValeNerdist podcasts, Twin PeaksWormwoodDecoder Ring Theatre‘s shows, Julie Hoverson’s 19 Nocturne BoulevardLeviathan Chronicles, podiobooks, Scott Sigler‘s BloodCast and Rookie series, J.C. Hutchins, Mur Lafferty‘s Heaven series, We’re Alive zombie podcast, Julie educates us on the Texas definition of “fine”, The Monster Hunters is zany UK comedy (not related to Larry Correia‘s Monster Hunters International), Plants vs. ZombiesHG World (not related to H.G. Wells), Ace Galaksi features Douglas Adams humour, meritocracy in podcast recommendations, “podcasting makes anyone a celebrity”, so does blogging (Julie’s Happy Catholic blog), Seth is the new intern (but can’t afford the Night Vale intern shirt), CromCast discusses Robert E. Howard whilst eating Chinese food, the nature of an author’s writing informs the nature of podcasts about them, H.P. Lovecraft Literary PodcastPhilip K. Dick Philosophical Podcast (not just on Facebook anymore), the importance of a well-researched podcast, Mr Jim Moon’s Hypnogoria, Peter Kushing, Chop Bard Shakespeare podcast, Julie challenges Jesse to do a podcast on The Tempest, SFFAudio’s Odyssey podcast series, Julie’s Genesis podcast series (based on Robert Alter‘s translation and commentary), Uncle Tom’s CabinBorn Yesterday history podcast featuring an objective history of the gay bar, History According to BobBritish History PodcastHistory of Philosophy without any gaps, Mike Duncan‘s History of Rome and Revolutions podcasts, When Diplomacy Fails, alternative iOS podcast apps, Stitcher, Swell Radio is Pandora for podcasts, Downcast ($0.99) is chock full of functionality, Huffduffer creates custom podcast feeds, if you don’t have RSS it’s not a podcast!, Free MP3 Downloader, fiction podcasts, Escape Artists Network (Escape Pod for SF, PodCastle for fantasy, and PseudoPod for horror), StarShipSofa’s Tales to TerrifyClarkesworld Magazine, John Joseph Adams’s Lightspeed MagazineNightmare MagazineDrabbleCast, different approaches to horror narration, Night of the Living Dead, don’t listen to horror before bed, Journey Into podcast, Seeing Ear Theatre on archive.org, Jimmy and Tam like to support creators of new content (but, asks Jesse, is new necessarily better?), CraftLit is way more than just knitting, podcasts about writing (Jesse hates them), Mur Lafferty’s I Should be WritingWriting Excuses (Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal), NaNoWriMo, Neil Gaiman on writer’s block, writing podcasts offer writers a sense of community, Adeventures in Science Fiction Publishing, Terry Pratchett “just makes things up”, the importance of writers reading classic works, Jimmy argues that ‘short stories offer writers more opportunity to extemporize and gives readers a sense of immediacy’, writing for deadline, Adventure magazine, Lord of the Rings, Tolkien Professor Podcast, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jane Austen, the Budweiser frogs, advertising as a source of drama, commercialization and ownership of brands, Jimmy on how podcasts build community, an intense debate about layering spoken word audio over music, This Week at NASADribbleCast is a fan spin-off of DrabbleCast, The NoSleep Podcast just won Parsec Award for Best New Podcast, Classic Tales Podcast (links are ephemeral), we all love podcasts–surprise!, Warrior Queen of Mars by Alexander Blade, if Doctor Who were a podcast the audience could request an episode with tribbles, Rappuccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens, podcast production has left overhead than traditional media offering greater flexibility and responsiveness.

Luke Burrage's Geek Nerd Chart

 

Posted by Seth Wilson

The SFFaudio Podcast #236 – AUDIOBOOK READALONG: The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard

October 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #236 – The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard, read by Paul Boehmer (courtesy of Tantor Media’s The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (60 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Matthew Sanborn Smith, and Bryan Alexander

Talked about on today’s show:
Second-to-last Solomon Kane story chronologically, “Red Shadows” and “Wings of the Night” close contenders for Solomon Kane stories, the latter featuring harpies from Jason and the Argonauts, history of Solomon’s staff explained in other stories, fetishes (not THAT kind!), joojoo stick, magical weapons, Wandering Star edition illustrated by Gary Gianni, comic book adaptations, vampire-slaying, story uncharacteristically well-plotted including foreshadowing, “plains and hills full of lions” oh my!, lion sleeping habits, “Africa is full of never-explained mysteries” excuses plot holes, prefigures Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld movies, one of few stories to depict ‘nation of vampires’, Kiss of the Vampire (film), Transylvania, homeopathic symbolism, sex sells, ‘Howardian damsel in distress’, voodoo, feminization of the jungle, homoerotic undertones, Howard biography Blood and Thunder by Mark Finn, post-Colonial critique, vampires in fiction oscillate between sexualized and homicidal, Stephen King slams Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vampires, Nosferatu (relatively unknown at the time of this story’s writing) introduced the idea that sunlight kills vampires, the Devil as source of Kane’s lustful urges, “Howard doesn’t do metaphors very well”, vampire-zombie continuum, Howard as great visual writer, animal characteristics ascribed to Kull and Conan but not Kane, snake imagery (related to serpent in Garden of Eden?), Slave Coast, vultures, nature of the soul, “Rogues in the House” (written in one sitting while Howard had a headache), the dangers of over-interpreting Howard, Howard’s subconscious, early 20th-century magazines preoccupied with race, Cosmpolitan (it was once a literary magazine), race hierarchy, Solomon Kane less racist than Howard himself, racial hierarchy, Berbers, Solomon Kane’s conflicted personality, the New Model Army, Howard’s characters are solitary, Puritans, Kane has a death wish, Kane’s celibacy, significance of Solomon Kane’s name, Ben Jonson satirizes Puritan names (in Bartholomew Fayre), so does Terry Pratchett (in Lords and Ladies, Mormonism, concept of congregation of all believers, English Civil War and its sects, Grendel in Beowulf as descendant of Cain, Sandman comics, Kane is “always on the road”, Matthew Hopkins witchfinder general, wood imagery, we learn what a palaver is, The Dark Tower series, temptation, inquisition, H. P. Lovecraft, cohesion of Howard’s works, history of the English language, George Harrison’s coyright infringement, parallel evolution in fiction, Clark Ashton Smith, Charles Baudelaire, genocide, the importance of a shared reader-author premise, shared cultural values, Hitler, The King in Yellow, Woodrow Wilson was a racist, zombies vs. animals.

The Hills Of The Dead - Illustration by Greg Staples

The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard

The Hills Of The Dead

Solomon Kane's Fetish Staff

Solomon Kane in Africa

Posted by Seth Wilson

Solomon Kane’s Homecoming by Robert E. Howard

October 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio
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 SFFaudio Podcast #235 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

October 21, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #235 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, Luke Burrage, Paul Weimer and Seth Wilson talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny’s the only woman in the kitchen, many audiobooks by Roald Dahl, The Twits, no Leo Laporte, The WitchesBoy and Going Solo (nonfiction), “piece of cake” (aeronautical term?), maybe we need a kid reviewer, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Other Animal Stories, (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang:  Roald Dahl – screenplay, Ian Fleming – novel), (it wasn’t black and white), You Only Live Twice, Jenny got her grabby hands on The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Fairyland #3) by Catherynne Valente and read by Catherynne Valente, play sample here, should authors narrate their own audiobooks? (didn’t Stefan Rudnicki want to narrate John Crowley’s Little, Big?), Jesse again mentions the mystery/science fiction novel Golden Fleece by Robert J. Sawyer, ‘Radium age sf’ books (Jesse was saying dreamscapeab.com, but I think it’s hilobrow.com?), Theodore Savage by Cicely Hamilton, “monoculture is bad”, (downpour.com is another alternative), Marvel: Spider-Man Drowned in Thunder by Christopher L. Bennett from Graphicaudio in 5.1 surround sound! (how do you sample that?), The Watchmen motion comic (link), “can’t you do 5.1 in dvd?” Luke wonders, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, |READ OUR/SETH’S REVIEW|, conservative women, “magic indistinguishable from science”, Luke’s cut of The Way Of Kings, the ‘Jesse’ unit, paper books, Six Pack o’ Strange Tales by Michael Faun, CaddyshackThe Goliath Stone by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington, The One-Eyed Man by L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is science fiction, cover controversy, Paul’s Sfsignal interview with L.E. Modesitt, Jr. (has cover), The Lost Prince by Edward Lazellari, Canada is one-way, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher, “Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter”, Star Wars Uncut video collaboration, some text from the Shakespeare Star Wars, Shakespeare is written in blank verse, duh, Joss Whedon can do the movie, Golden Age full cast audio drama (link), infecting dreams, Lumosity brain games and training, The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard includes The Hills Of The Dead, is Solomon like Dresden?, Out Of Time’s Abyss by Edgar Rice Burroughs read by David Stifel, The War Of The Worlds: Global Dispatches edited by Kevin J. Anderson, it’s purely an English invasion, Ender’s Game Alive: The Full-Cast Audioplay by Orson Scott Card (out 10/22/2013), Stefan Rudnicki talked about it on Functional NerdsRepublic Of Thieves by Scott Lynch isn’t out yet (out 10/22/2013), talking like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, The Circle by Dave Eggers, tech thrillers, is Gravity science fiction?,The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, 2012Neil deGrasse Tyson’s critical tweets about Gravity, she cried in space wrong, Kaleidoscope by Ray Bradbury, Superheroes! Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture by Laurence Maslon and Michael Kantor, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser, Germany says no more, The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 3 Edited by Allan Kaster from Infinivox, Bleeding Edge By Thomas Pynchon is a tech thriller maybe, Star Trek Aurora is sexualized (sounds like Joe Haldeman’s Star Trek books), don’t get mad Paramount, Luke has to eat, Paul Weimer tweets photos.

[Applicants for the two giveaway copies of THE SAVAGE TALES OF SOLOMON KANE should leave a comment with a verifiable factoid about Robert E. Howard (as well as an email address) - the two most interesting factoids, as selected by Jesse, will receive their prizes by mail.]

TANTOR MEDIA - The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane by Robert E. Howard

Recent Arrivals from Tor Books

Posted by Tamahome

Protecting Project Pulp: Waterfront Fists by Robert E. Howard

October 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Also known as “Stand Up And Slug” this humourous boxing story is told in the first person. Narrator Jim Philips does a great job characterizing the wharfies, boxers, and floozies that populate its seedy Honolulu docklands.

“I do not believe in too much thinking; it gives a fighter the headache.”

Waterfront Fists by Robert E. Howard

Protecting Project PulpProtecting Project Pulp No. 30 – Waterfront Fists
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Jim Philips
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 4 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Protecting Project Pulp
Podcast: February 5, 2013
Trouble never troubled Steve Costigan, for trouble meant action with a capital A—and action was what Steve craved. This time it was Honolulu, waterfront cabarets, and—guess what—a beautiful girl! First published in Fight Stories, September 1930.

There’s a complete ETEXT, but even better I’ve made a |PDF| from a scan of Fight Stories, September 1930.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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