Lord Dunsany’s take on the sword and sorcery sub-genre is high on the Dunsany and low on the Lord (which is itself a very Dunsanian trait).
The Hoard Of The Gibbelins
By Lord Dunsany; Read by Greg Elmensdorp
1 |MP3| – Approx. 10 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 24, 2007
The bold knight Alderic seeks the fabled hoard of the Gibbelins. First published in the Jan 25, 1911 issue of The Sketch.
Here’s a |PDF|.
Posted by Jesse Willis
We recently received four collections from Speculative! via Brilliance.
Murray Leinster Collection
Includes: The Pirates of Ersatz, The Aliens, Operation Terror
By Murray Leinster; Read by Jim Roberts and Ran Alan Ricard
In The Pirates of Ersatz, Murray Leinster presents a fast-paced, light-hearted adventure story with a touch of Monty Python and much derring-do. The hero, Bron Hodon, comes from a planet where there is only one vocation – space piracy. His dream is to become an electrical engineer so he makes his way to a planet with a “perfect society” and invents a power source that should benefit all. The perfect society does not appreciate it, accuses him of creating “death rays” and forces him to flee to Darth, a much more primitive planet. There, and in space, he undergoes a number of rollicking adventures that make him wonder if space piracy – with a twist – might not be so bad after all. This tongue-in-cheek space adventure has often been compared to The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison.
The Aliens: Among other things, Murray Leinster is credited with the invention of “parallel universe” stories and in 1956 he won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Novelette. Leinster wrote over 1,500 short stories in his career and two of the best, “First Contact” and “The Aliens”, deal with humanity’s first encounter with an alien race. In this story, the human race is expanding through the galaxy and so are the Aliens. When two expanding empires meet, war is inevitable. Or is it?
Operation Terror: Murray Leinster’s science fiction stories typically dealt with themes of frustration with human frailty and its limitations, cynicism vs. idealistic ethics, and romance. When a mysterious alien spacecraft lands in a lake in Colorado and the invaders begin using a paralyzing ray that no one can understand or stop, it takes an ingenious man like Lockley to save the girl and solve the mystery of the aliens.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Collection
Includes: The Big Trip Up Yonder, 2BRO2B
By Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Performed by Emmett Casey and Kevin Killavey
The Big Trip Up Yonder: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was known for blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, and that is exactly what he does in this story. It was written in 1954 and first appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction. In the chronology of his works, it came between Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan. The story takes place in a future in which the population has grown so huge, due to an anti-aging product, that generations are forced to live together in crowded apartments. The family in this story is ruled by a dictatorial grandfather, the owner of the apartment and oldest of the clan.
2BR02B: Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was known for blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, and that is exactly what he does in this little gem of of a story from 1962. In the chronology of his works, it came between Mother Night and Cat’s Cradle. The title is pronounced “2 B R naught 2 B” and references the famous phrase, “To be or not to be” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The story takes place in a future when diseases and aging have been eliminated and, as a result, the government has taken measures to insure population control
Edmond Hamilton Collection
Includes: City at World’s End; The Stars, My Brothers
By Edmond Hamilton; Performed by Jim Roberts
City at World’s End: The midwestern town of Middletown is the “first strike” of a new super bomb. However, instead of destroying the town, the attack rips a hole in the space-time continuum, sending the town and it’s inhabitants to a distant Earth, cold and foreboding. The story of their struggle, survival, and ultimate success in rekindling the planet and dealing with the people and aliens of the future is the stuff of great science fiction. As you listen, see if you agree with the many who think this story was the origin of the Star Wars characters Chewbacca and Leia.
The Stars, My Brothers: Edmond Moore Hamilton was a popular science-fiction author during the “Golden Age” of American science fiction. “The Stars, My Brothers” is considered one of his best, and certainly most imaginative, stories. A spaceman is killed in space and frozen. He is left orbiting the space station where he was killed in the hope that a method will be found to bring him back to life. That day finally comes a hundred years later, when he awakens to a very different world and comes to realize he has become both a symbol and a pawn in a human/alien conflict.
Alan Edward Nourse Collection
Includes: The Coffin Cure, Image of the Gods
By Aland Edward Nourse; Performed by Ben Hurst
The Coffin Cure: No one likes a cold. It has plagued mankind for generations. When Dr. Coffin and his colleagues finally devise a cure for this ailment, the discovery is met with excitement worldwide. A month later though, noses everywhere start to rebel. Can they find a cure for the cure and do it in time to save their own necks?
Image of the Gods: In this story, an earth colony discovers that their relationship with the mother planet has suddenly changed due to an overthrow of the Earth’s government. They decide not to go along with the new totalitarian regime and to declare their independence. They expect a fight for liberty and get it. However, their relationship with the natives of the planet, the “dusties”, changes the whole situation in a very dramatic way.
“the curse of want gives way to the curse of plenty”
-Frederik Pohl, in the anthology Nightmare Age
Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, as a part of “The Shape of Things to Come” season in 1991 (a series of plays looking at the future) The Midas Plague was adapted from the acclaimed novella by Frederik Pohl.
Now, thanks to the terrific service RadioArchive.cc you can experience this positively smirk inducing satire of a consumer society flipped on it’s head.
Here’s my description of the premise:
Morey Fry lives in a post-scarcity world where cheap production has made commodities, consumer goods, and food ubiquitous. The “poor” are forced to spend their lives in a constant state of frantic consumption, continually upgrading their devices, clothes, jewelry, and appliances. But “poor” Morey can only wear-out his shirts so fast, and taking double cream in his coffee is giving a sick feeling. Meanwhile a black market in counterfeit ration book stamps flourishes, yet Morey is an honest man. When poverty stricken Morey marries a “rich” girl from the right side of the tracks they move into his well appointed mansion. There, the efficient household staff of robot butlers, valets, maids, cooks, and footmen foist endless consumer goods upon them both at a furious rate, something that upsets Morey’s new “wealthy” spouse – after all she’s is accustomed to a certain luxurious lifestyle.
The Midas Plague
Adapted by Mark Power from the story by Frederik Pohl; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 (via TORRENT) – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: September 4, 1991
Directed by Alec Reid
Morrey Fry – Michael Drew
Cheri Fry – Diane White
Howland – Alan Covenay
Judge Elon – Eric Allen
Grace Elon – Caroline Hunt
Semmelweiss – Nick Chivers
Newman – Nick Chivers
Fairless – Clarence Smith
Sam – Clarence Smith
Wally – Richard Pearce
Blaine – Richard Pearce
Tanaquil – Catherine Neal
Wainwright – Fraser Kerr
Henry, the Robot – Geoffrey Collins
Profirio – Geoffrey Collins
More illustrations from the publication in Galaxy, April 1954:
The Midas Plague can also be found in…
Posted by Jesse Willis
There are two readings of My Favorite Murder, by Ambrose Bierce, on LibriVox. Bill Mosley’s reading has a more appropriate accent, but Peter Yearsley’s is funnier, perhaps because of his English accent. The high minded language of the protagonist, combined with the frightening descriptions, makes Yearsley’s version more essentially hilarious.
If you’re familiar with Jack London’s Moon-Face, and liked that story, I think you’ll like this one too.
My Favorite Murder
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by Bill Mosley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 3, 2010
First published in the San Francisco Examiner, September 16, 1888.
And here’s a printable |PDF|.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Never Bet The Devil Your Head was written by Edgar Allan Poe to mock his critics. It’s wit is as sharp as Voltaire’s Candide and it’s smirk is as wide as Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, but it’s just the size of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.
Never Bet The Devil Your Head is the tale of Toby Dammit, a man of vice, who comes to a bad end.
Here’s a choice snippet:
“At five months of age he used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At six months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he was in the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies. At eight months he peremptorily refused to put his signature to the Temperance pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after month, until, at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon wearing mustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and for backing his assertions by bets.”
I highly recommended it.
Here’s an unabridged reading:
Never Bet The Devil Your Head
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Dawn Keenan
1 |MP3| – Approx. 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Voices In The Dark
First published in Graham’s Magazine, September 1841.
And here’s a pointed, yet spritely, audio dramatization adaptation with the legendary Daws Butler playing Dammit:
CBS Radio Workshop – Never Bet The Devil Your Head
Adapted from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: July 28, 1957
John Dehner … Mr. Poe
Daws Butler … Toby Dammit
Howard McNear … the Devil
And finally here’s a |PDF|.
Posted by Jesse Willis
One of the earliest detectives in history, or at least the history of literature, is Zadig. Zadig is the main character of Voltaire’s philosophical novel Zadig; Or The Book Of Fate – An Oriental History. I stumbled across it’s existence while reading an old issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in which one chapter was featured under the title The Dog And The Horse. The brief editorial introduction, and some further researches on my own, assert that Zadig in this chapter may have been the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe’s C. August Dupin!
I can sort of see it too, for The Dog And The Horse shows a kind of giant first step in an evolutionary process of the detective – seeing his marriage turn sour Zadig turns to the study of nature for his joy. A kind of passionate interest in the world is necessary for both the scientific detective and the more Sherlockian sort of detective.
The story is damn funny too.
Posted by Jesse Willis