The SFFaudio Podcast #275 – READALONG: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

July 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #275 – Jesse and Mr Jim Moon discuss Ivanhoe: A Romance by Sir Walter Scott

Talked about on today’s show:
1820, the Tantor Media audiobook as read by Simon Prebble, 3 comic book adaptations!, the July 2014 BBC Radio 4 adaptation (1hr), General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, immensely important, Wamba and Gurth, looking at adaptations, refinement, Robin Hood (1973), the splitting of the arrow, a willow wand, daring-do fiction, archery, folktale, Will Scarlet splits the arrow in the Queen Katherine Ballad, the historical inaccuracies, Rob Roy, a plump text, King Richard and Friar Tuck, The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare, a very Shakespearean novel, pithy and punchy, dialogue and banter, The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, fully motivated characters, Athelstane, colour cloaks, where does Isaac stat at Ashby?, Chapter 2 Gurth is “this second Eumaeus”, Ivanhoe is a retelling of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca, the usurpation, the governance of Scotland, the Saxons as the Scots under the English yoke, Loxley, Prince John, King John, Magna Carta, robber barons, Brian de Bois-Guilbert (wants Rebecca), Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, “Front of Beef” (wants Isaac’s money), Maurice de Bracy (wants Rowena), war and God, the 1997 BBC TV adaptation of Ivanhoe, an Arthurian style obsession, the reconciliation, Athelstane is almost a Hobbit, Athelstane death is a comedic version of a Guy de Maupassant or Edgar Allan Poe premature burial story, The Fall Of The House Of Usher done as farce, Monty Python And the Holy Grail, surprisingly few deaths, “boys own adventure”, The A-Team, Ulrica’s death, the the Waverley Novels, almost a Fantasy, magic, The Prisoner Of Zenda, venison, the Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood, the Black Knight – who could it be?, how easy would the disguises be seen through in 1820, bigger than Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, stage adaptations, Waverley places around the world, Abbotsford, British Columbia is named (in part) after Sir Walter Scott’s home, Ivanhoe’s popularity in the southern United States, invasion, slavery and chivalry, underselling the power of fiction (as compared with non-fiction), On The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin, The Communist Manifesto, Tolkien, understanding fiction, the revelation of truth through fiction, novels were once quite novel, the need for novels, models of action, 1984 changes, helps and improves you, “what is honorable action?”, the power of oaths, rapacious acquisition vs. honorable service, the destruction of the Templars, banishment was a harsh punishment, an obsession with love, Rebecca is the female Ivanhoe, the role of the Jews in the book vs. the adaptations, banking, this is not an anti-Semitic book (shockingly), the coin counting scene, the roasting scene, Friar Tuck is super-anti-Semitic, Churchill’s background, why is it that English were not as anti-Semitic as most of Europe?, a zeitgeisty historical novel, looking at the present through a historical lens, puffy, the level of intellect is very high – the etymology of pig, Lincoln Green, the final battle, a powerfully intellectual book for a piece of fiction, mid-19th century fiction isn’t as punchy, wit and intelligence in peasant characters, J.K. Rowling must have read Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott’s was “the Wizard Of The North”, Cedric <-the name comes from this book, "freelance" <-lances for hire, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Robin Hood (Ridley Scott), Robin Hood’s nom de guerre, ITV’s Robin Of Sherwood <- both Robin Hood mythologies are in it!, the "Dread Pirate Roberts", a good knight but a bad king, pagan gods, Herne the Hunter, Ivanhoe popularized the Middle Ages, Arthurian scholarship, folk customs, the ancient Egypt craze, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, a big powerful book, A Song Of Ice And Fire is kind of the anti-Ivanhoe, the Dunk And Egg stories, surprisingly modern, the symmetry of Ivanhoe, a tonic for gallstones, HBO should commission Ivanhoe, the 1952 version, the 1982 version, Ciarán Hinds, Mark Hamill, Kevin Costner vs. Alan Rickman, a noir ending averted.

Rebecca and Ivanhoe - illustration by C.E. Brock (1905)

Ivanhoe illustrated by Clarence Leonard Cole (1914)

Ivanhoe illustrated by Maurice Greiffenhagen

Ivanhoe illustrated by Maurice Greiffenhagen

Ivanhoe illustrated by Maurice Greiffenhagen

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #245 – The Best of 2013

December 30, 2013 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

TheSFFaudioPodcast600The SFFaudio Podcast #245 – It’s our -The Best of 2013! episode. For it we invited SFFaudio fans, SFFaudio reviewers, and SFFaudio participants to share their listening highlights of 2013. We asked folks to tell us about their favourite audiobook or podcast episode.

If you don’t see your favourites listed below, feel free to add them as a comment. And remember, it needn’t be a podcast or audiobook from 2013, only one you heard in 2013.

And if you leave a comment in the first week (and a way to contact you) you’ll also be eligible for a a FREE PRIZE audiobook mailed to your home (anywhere in the whole universe*)!

Participants:

Bryce L.

  • The Stand by Stephen King, Read by Grover Gardner (Random House Audio)
  • The Magicians and The Magician King by Lev Grossman, Narrated by Mark Bramhall (Penguin Audio)
  • Hard Magic by Larry Correira, read by Bronson Pinchot (Brilliance Audio)

Casey Hampton.

  • Boy and Going Solo by Roald Dahl; Read by Dan Stevens (Penguin Audio)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Read by Neil Gaiman (Harper Audio)

Maissa Bessada

Seth Wilson

  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, Read by George Guidall (Harper Audio)

Paul Weimer

  • Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal, Read by Mary Robinette Kowal (Macmillan)

Jenny Colvin

Scott D.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

*Mirror universe inhabitants need not apply

Review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

October 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Doctor Sleep by Stephen KingDoctor Sleep (The Shining #2)
By Stephen King; Read by Will Patton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 24 September 2013
ISBN: 9781442362390
[UNABRIDGED] – 18 hours, 35 minutes

Themes: / Horror / Paranormal / Thriller / Ghosts / Alcoholism /

Publisher summary:

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I’m not a fan of sequels. I’m not really sure The Shining needed a sequel. Sure there were lingering questions about Danny and Wendy at the end, but they weren’t critical in my mind. That said, Mr. King’s novels tend to interconnect on several levels, so I was curious to see what he would do in a sequel to one of his most popular books.

Doctor Sleep is a very different book from its predecessor. The shining plays a key role of course, but I would categorize this book more as Paranormal Thriller rather than Horror. I would however recommend you read/reread The Shining before this though.

The first part of the book catches you up with Danny, his mother and Dick Halloran, and then proceeds to catch us up to Danny in the present day.

Unfortunately for Danny, Mr. King is a big believer in like father like son. Danny has become an alcoholic and has the same anger issues Jack struggled with in the first story. It hard to blame him given his traumatic childhood coupled with the horrors being so strong in the shinning has exposed to him.

A good part of this story felt like an advertisement for the Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not sure if that’s how Mr. King got himself sober, but it certainly seems like it, as he talks about it to excess. It does make for an interesting idea of “what might have happened if Jack Torrence sought help?”, but I could have done with less time being spent on that aspect of the story.

Keeping with his themes of the cyclical nature of life, the other main protagonist is a young girl who is even stronger in the shinning than Danny was in his youth.

We are also introduced to the True Knot, a pack of “physic vampires” that are near immortal by traveling the country and feeding on the shinning for their longevity. Can you guess where this is going? I could.

So it wasn’t the most unpredictable of stories, but in many ways I enjoyed it more then The Shining. I’m not a big horror fan. This book explores the shining in much greater detail than its namesake novel. Mr. King introduces some well developed new characters, and doesn’t just retell the same story again with minor changes like many sequels tend to.

Mr. Patton does an excellent job reading this book. He has many distinct voices and accents that adds a little something to the story. I was surprised they used a different reader than the The Shining, but as it turned out to be a fairly different book, I think it was a good decision.

So will you like it? If you’re a big horror fan hoping that Mr. King can scare the hell out of you again, probably not. If you’re like me and enjoy the fantastical nature of Mr. King’s novels then you just might.

Review by Rob Zak.

Review of Carrie by Stephen King

September 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

carrieCarrie
By Stephen King; Narrated by Sissy Spacek
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (now only available through Audible.com)
Publication Date: 24 August 2012
[Unabridged] – 7 hours; 20 minutes

Themes: / telekinesis / adolescent bullying / religious fervor / hog slaughter / revenge / horror /

Publisher summary:

An unpopular teenage girl, whose mother is a religious fanatic, is tormented and teased to the breaking point by her more popular schoolmates. She uses her hidden telekinetic powers to inflict a terrifying revenge.

I’ve wanted to read Carrie for a while now.  It’s one of those iconic works that you’re compelled to read, more out of a sense of obligation to the author’s craft than a product of individual literary desire.  I’m not one of those Stephen King aficionados that could play King Trivia and know every answer.  I’ve read some of his books, and most of those have been fantastic.  Some weren’t.  Truthfully, I’d love to sit down and just talk shop with King.  Just to be able to shoot the breeze about writing, the shape of a story, how to switch tense to make something pop, and a load of other stuff that most likely doesn’t blow the hair back for that many folks.

Stephen King has a knack for drawing a character that evokes empathy from the reader.  I can’t say I enjoyed the question and answer portions, the jagged breakaways from the main narrative flow, or the investigation that lies at the far end of this story.  But I love how King slows down a scene, making time stretch beyond normal, beyond the pocketful of seconds, far past the internal clockwork of mind can account for in a passing moment.  I also really appreciated some of King’s choice of language.  And I’m giving King bonus points for quoting Dylan lyrics, thanks Stevie!

I don’t believe it’s a secret that there’s blood in this story.  There’s also murder and violence.  What most surprised me was my reaction to the scene with the pigs.  I won’t go into detail here, but this scene evoked the most emotional reaction for me, and I found this interesting.  I had and felt compassion for Carrie, but the part with the pigs and potato chips stood out like broken glass under a bright moon.

Sissy Spacek as narrator does a solid job.  Her delivery is dependable, and she does not try to act the story.  She does not insert herself as a character in her reading.  I was able to hear a slight amount of audible feedback in this audio rendition, and am disappointed that the sound engineers didn’t clean the tracks up before distribution.  This audiobook is prefaced with a few words from Stephen King.  He gives a little background to how Carrie was saved from the dustbin, and how its publication came just in time.  I for one am a fan of Stephen King speaking about his history and life, and so I enjoyed this little introduction.  I find King’s voice pleasant and easy to listen to.

 Posted by Casey Hampton.

The Graveyard Shift with Dudley Knight

August 16, 2013 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Graveyard Shift - Readings by Dudley KnightBeginning it seems in the mid-1970s Dudley Knight, a U.C. Irvine professor of drama, voiced a series called The Graveyard Shift on KPFK, Los Angeles. The purpose was to tell stories of the macabre. His broadcasts aired weekly with shows of variable length (between half and hour and two and a half hours).

Here is a list of broadcast stories, with links to audio when available:

Jan. ??, 1974- The Room In The Tower by E.F. Benson (34 min.)

Divider

May. ??, 1977 – Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick (55 min.)

Jun. 08, 1977 – I See A Man Sitting On A Chair And The Chair Is Biting His Leg by Harlan Ellison and Robert Sheckley (57 min.)

Jun. 22, 1977 – It by Theodore Sturgeon (57 min.)

Jun. ??, 1977 – Count Magnus by M.R. James (35 min.)

Jul. 06, 1977 – Children Of The Corn by Stephen King (71 min.)

Aug. 03, 1977 – Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman (56 min.)

Aug. 17, 1977 – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (37 min.)

Aug. 31, 1977 – Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken (46 min.)

Sep. 21, 1977 – The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood (42 min.)

Oct. 19, 1977 – Armaja Das by Joe Haldeman (44 min.)

Nov. 08, 1977 – It Only Comes Out At Night by Dennis Etchison (33 min.)

Dec. 14, 1977 – Couching At The Door by D.K. Broster (59 min.)

Dec. ??, 1977 – The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges (35 min.)

Divider

Jan. 18, 1978 – Suspicion by Dorothy L. Sayers (38 min.)

Jan. ??, 1978 – I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (41 min.)

Feb. 01, 1978 – The Gentleman From America by Michael Arlen (48 min.)

Feb. 08, 1978 – Bulkhead by Theodore Sturgeon (75 min.)

Feb. 22, 1978 – Gonna Roll The Bones by Fritz Leiber (60 min.)

Mar. 22, 1978 – Sometimes They Come Back by Stephen King (58 min.)

Apr. 05, 1978 – Three Miles Up by Elizabeth Jane Howard (42 min.)

Apr. 19, 1978 – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Fredric Brown (49 min.)

Jun. 07, 1978 – The Ash Tree by M.R. James (36 min.)

Jul. 26, 1978 – The Squaw by Bram Stoker (35 min.)

Aug. 30, 1978 – Batard by Jack London (39 min.)

Sep. 06, 1978 – The Game Of Rat And Dragon by Cordwainer Smith (37 min.)

Oct. 17, 1978 – The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson (49 min.) |MP3|

Nov. 21, 1978 – The Other Celia by Theodore Sturgeon (48 min.)

Dec. 06, 1978 – Benlian by Oliver Onions (44 min.)

Divider

Jan. 03, 1979 – Before Eden by Arthur C. Clarke (32 min.)

Jan. 31, 1979 – The Haunters and the haunted by Edward Bulwer Lytton (106 min.)

Feb. 23, 1979 – Space Rats Of The CCC by Harry Harrison (37 min.)

Apr. 03, 1979 – Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick (41 min.)

Apr. 17, 1979 – Thurnley Abby by Perceval Landon (43 min.)

Divider

???. ??, 1985 – Afternoon At Schrafts by Gardner Dozis, Jack Don, and Michael Swanwick Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Divider

???. ??, ???? – The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Joyland by Stephen King

June 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Joyland by Stephen KingJoyland
By Stephen King; Read by Michael Kelly
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: June 2013
ISBN: 9781442359918
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 discs

Themes: / crime / noir / amusement parks /

Publisher summary:

Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever. Joyland is a brand-new novel and has never previously been published.

I’d like to think of myself as an experienced Stephen King reader.  I’ve read about 25 of his books, but that’s only about a 3rd of what he’s written.

At first I found myself wondering if I had the author right. I kept waiting for horrible things to happen: evil clowns, monsters, Randall Flagg. You know, a Stephen King book. There are carnies, but no evil clowns.  That’s probably not fair on my part, he has written a variety of things over the years, and not all of it is horror. Still it’s what he’s best known for, and it can be a bit surprising when evil isn’t lurking around every corner.

That isn’t to say this book doesn’t have some spookiness and a sense of the fantastical going on.  Joyland is about a 21 year old college student named Devin Jones, recently ditched by his girlfriend who takes a summer job working at an amusement park in North Carolina called Joyland in the 1970s. One of Joyland’s biggest attractions is the Horror House, said to be haunted by the ghost of a girl who was murdered during the ride a few years past. That sounds more like the Stephen King we all know, right?

During his job interview, he meets the resident “psychic” who gives him a prediction about his future. He’s skeptical, because surely, it’s all just an act for the show, right? What follows is a time that Devin will never forget, and a story I greatly enjoyed. It’s actually quite heart warming in places. It’s really a book about people more than anything.

It’s certainly not one of his scariest books, but it’s one of the best of his I’ve read. It’s certainly more The Shawshank Redemption than It. At only 283 pages/7.5 hours it’s much shorter than Mr. King’s usual fare as well, but I’d definitely recommend it as a quick read.

The book is narrated by Michael Kelly who is probably better known as an actor than as an audiobook reader. This is the first book I’ve listened to with him. Unsurprisingly he speaks in a clear manner, with good inflection. He does a few accents for some of the characters, but not all.

Review by Rob Zak.

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