It’s A Good Life by Jerome Bixby

October 1, 2013 by · 1 Comment
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It's A Good Life by Jerome Bixby

It's A Good Life by Jerome Bixby - illustration by Quinn

It's A Good Life by Jerome Bixby - illustration by Quinn

It’s A Good Life is a 1953 short story by Jerome Bixby. Set in the small town that used to be in Ohio. It’s entire population loves and fears three year old Anthony Fremont. Anthony is omnipotent.

This story has been adapted several times by The Twilight Zone. The original series did a very faithful adaptation, a sequel episode, “It’s Still A Good Life“, featured a grown-up Anthony and his daughter. There was also an adaptation within Twilight Zone: The Movie. Even The Twilight Zone radio drama series adapted it.

Here’s the audiobook, as podcast in two parts on Rick Jackson’s The Time Traveler Show (along with an interview with the narrator, William Dufris).

The Time Traveler Show PodcastIt’s A Good Life
By Jerome Bixby; Read by William Dufris
Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| – Approx. 2 Hours 4 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Time Traveler Show
Podcast: August 2006
Anthony Fremont can go anywhere he wants, he can read thoughts, he can project sensory information, he can create, he can destroy, he can mold reality, he can kill. Anthony Fremont is three years old. First published in Star Science Fiction Stories No.2.

Podcast feed:

http://www.timetravelershow.com/shows/feed.xml

Here’s a |PDF| made from the publication in Science Fantasy, #16, 1955.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Chaser by John Collier

March 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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The Chaser by John Collier

John Collier’s modern fairy tale, The Chaser, was adapted as an episode of the first season of the original The Twilight Zone. And now the story has just been narrated for Tom Elliot’s The Twilight Zone Podcast.

The Twilight Zone PodcastThe Chaser
By John Collier; Read by Danny Davis
1 |MP3| – Approx. 11 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Twilight Zone Podcast
Podcast: March 18, 2013
Alan, a lovelorn man, desperate for the object of his affections to return them, visits a queer chemist for a solution. First published in The New Yorker, December 28, 1940.

Podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheTwilightZonePodcast

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Here is a |PDF| of the story, and here is another |PDF|.

And here’s The Twilight Zone adaptation:

The story also inspired a Tales From The Crypt story, in issue 25:

Tales From The Crypt #25

That, in turn, was adapted for the television series, using the same name:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Steel by Richard Matheson (from Steel And Other Stories)

July 12, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Steel And Other Stories by Richard MathesonSteel And Other Stories – Steel
By Richard Matheson; Read by Scott Brick
Approx. 59 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2011
ISBN: 1455112127
Themes: / Science Fiction / Boxing / Robots /

Steel, a novelette, was first published in the May 1956 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
The editorial introduction preceding it described Steel as a “tale of strength and endurance” and as “a science fiction sports story so realistic, simple and powerful that it should prove moving even to sports-loathing readers who have never let a boxing bout darken their television screens.” The story would just a few years later, in a 1963 adaptation as an episode of the Twilight Zone brighten the living rooms of many. And, in 2011 it would inspire the big budget movie Real Steel. So, how does the original novellete, stand up to repeated blows of history?

Pretty well. If you like Matheson’s writing Steel is definitely worth hearing. This story captures in a relatively short space the oddity, the kind of quirk that Matheson seems forever working on. It’s something I’ve noticed in practically every story by Matheson that I’ve read. His main characters always seem to want to make a human connection with strangers, and in their efforts to do so always fail – and always for the same reason. In their desire to be heard, and be understood, they always disregard the needs and desires of those strangers. I’ve never seen a writer tackle anthing like this, over and over, like Matheson always seems to. Let’s tale Steel as our example. One of the two main characters, Paul, goes to great lengths to get engage an uninterested stranger in a conversation about the exploits of his dilapidated robot boxer. That the stranger, who doesn’t know anything about boxing, doesn’t care about boxing, and has never even heard of Paul’s robot, is obviously completely uninterested in what Paul is saying. This doesn’t seem to occur to Paul. It’s as if Paul’s own need to reach out and be heard – to be something – is greater than the interests of the stranger – whatevber those interests might be. It’s not so much a Science Fiction issue as it is an existential one. It’s almost as if Matheson is using his fiction to try to find a way to navigate around a massive blind spot in human relations. Like in his novel The Incredible Shrinking Man Matheson has the plot of Steel be a manifestation of a character’s internal difficulties.

Scott Brick narrates this bare bones dialogue driven story. I’m often ambivalent about Brick’s narrations. Sometimes he works for me, sometimes he doesn’t – and I think I’ve finally realized why. Brick is excellent at delivering emotion. But if the emotion is from a third person perspective it comes across as too operatic. But, if the story is told in first person perspective then it work well. In Steel there are basically only two voices – Paul’s and Kelly’s. And when Brick voices either one I can’t readily enough distinguish difference between them. Yet when a story is told in first person Brick’s narration really works. Take this sample |MP3| from Nelson DeMille’s The Lion’s Game (which is first person perspective). And now compare it with this |MP3| from Steel.

I came away feeling somewhat unsatisfied with Steel. It’s not that the story is uninteresting, or unoriginal, Steel is both original and interesting. Kelly and Paul are a pair of boxing enthusiasts – and I’m more of an enthusiast of ideas. There’s just not enough intellectual heft to their journey. I think The Twilight Zone adaptation, penned by Matheson himself and starring Lee Marvin, does the story better mostly because it’s a lot quicker too it. The movie version is hardly an adaptation, being much more of a family father and son traditional conservative values tale than an existential exploration. None of versions of the story did what I wanted them to do, namely get into the robot’s POV. The fact that none of the adaptations treat the robot as anything other than an external manifestation of their root interests is kind of depressing. But then again, I don’t go to Matheson for uplifting, I like his depressing ideas.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Elegy by Charles Beaumont

April 6, 2012 by · 2 Comments
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Elegy - ILLUSTRATION from  Imagination, February, 1953
Elegy by Charles Beaumont

Elegy, by Charles Beaumont, is available over on Gutenberg.org and that means it’s in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. This short story, by the legendary Charles Beaumont, was adapted as an episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s how I found it, and that’s why it was produced as an audiobook for Tom Elliot’s The Twilight Zone Podcast. But before I detail that let me first offer you this handy |PDF| version.

Here’s the audiobook:

The Twilight Zone PodcastElegy
By Charles Beaumont; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 43 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Twilight Zone Podcast
Podcast: June 27, 2011
|ETEXT|
It was an impossible situation: an asteroid in space where no asteroid should have been—with a city that could only have existed back on Earth! First published in Imagination, February 1953.

Podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheTwilightZonePodcast

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

And here’s The Twilight Zone adaptation:

And here‘s Tom Elliot’s podcast review of the TZ adaptation |MP3|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #154 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

April 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #154 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, Mirko and David Stifel talk about An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce (read by Bob Neufeld for LibriVox).

Talked about on today’s show:
The Devil’s Dictionary, comic irony, an American classic, German drama, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Sleep No More, Nelson Almstead, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, civil war stories, quantum mechanics, The Damned Thing, the genres: horror, ghost, “weird”, “weird war”, “dream”, or SUSPENSE, alternate reality, why is An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge so popular with high-school English teachers?, time perception, not-SF, “the man who was engaged in being hanged”, passivity, “go for it hands”, “a dream story”, David used to have out of body dreams, “stream of consciousness”, subjectivity, Henry James, the radio drama adaptations (Escape, Suspense, CBS Radio Mystery Theater),

“Each year thousands of short stories roll out from a multitude of typewriter, march across the pages of our magazines toward well deserved oblivion. Few are memorable, fewer still are classics. They pass the time and are forgotten even before the paper on which they are written is reduced to black ash. But occasionally a story is written that is a true classic, an unforgettable tale.”

astral projection, H.P. Lovecraft, Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, near death experience, Bierce’s headwound, Sigmund Freud, A Dream Play by August Strindberg, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, the driftwood, the slowdown of time, it’s a mystery story, a million blades of grass, infinite detail and infinite depth, Isaac Asimov, The Turn Of The Screw, The Twilight Zone version (which was a French short film), what’s with the corporal?, of the body, a hidden pun or joke, it was a setup, a great suspicion of death or dying, the kicking legs = running, unconscious insight result in surprise and relief, the tongue, wish fulfillment, the suspicion begins, naturalistic interpretation, Igor (Son Of Frankenstein), the history of hangings, botched hangings, popping heads, Hang ‘Em High, Braveheart, can it be truly spoiled?, war,

“Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.”

constitutional rights, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents adaptation, The Twilight Zone short film version, HuffDuffer, CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, “it’s best read”, an audio drama adaptation, impressionism, mapping back, additional scenes, a water moccasin, narration, is it a miracle that the rope breaks, a heavenly Eden like land, gates, Sergei Bondarchuk’s War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy, altered state, (The Crawling Chaos), sex choking, speculative fiction, life passing before you, the telescoping of time, remembering the classics, 100,000 high school teachers, one of the most podcast short stories, O. Henry stories are cute, an existential story, “trapped in a world he never made”, an exegesis.

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
By Ambrose Bierce
From Eerie Magazine #23

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #153 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Small Town by Philip K. Dick

March 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #153 – Small Town by Philip K. Dick, read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story followed by a discussion of it with Jesse, Tamahome, and Gregg Margarite!

Of Small Town Philip K. Dick wrote:

“Here the frustrations of a defeated small person — small in terms of power, in particular power over others — gradually become transformed into something sinister: the force of death. In rereading this story (which is of course a fantasy, not science fiction) I am impressed by the subtle change which takes place in the protagonist from Trod Upon to Treader. Verne Haskel initially appears as the prototype of the impotent human being, but this conceals a drive at his core self which is anything but weak. It is as if I am saying, The put-upon person may be very dangerous. Be careful as to how you misuse him; he may be a mask for thanatos: the antagonist of life; he may not secretly wish to rule; he may wish to destroy.”

Talked about on today’s show:
Gregg is getting better at girls, girls are always questioning you, horror, urban fantasy, The Twilight Zone, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Rod Serling, paranoid Verne Haskell, a lead quarter, the redistribution of wealth, playing god, “…and he rested and he made a sandwich”, god games, SimCity 2000, churches can’t be stopped, Microcosmic God, “shoved into the next dimension”, is it slipstream?, Stopover In A Quiet Town, transformers are the science, diorama, the train doesn’t run them over, “moral”, “extremely moral”, train guys, Lego, erector sets, Lincoln Logs, Meccano, matchbox cars, small towns can be hell, comic book stores, “urbane-al-ity”, is Verne the god of Woodland?, pet shops and mortuaries, little man, SFSignal’s Sword And Sorcery Panel suggest characters should be the focus, “Finished!”, world warping, John Carter, handwavium, “make out”, Beyond The Door, Dick’s faithless women, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, how risque were SF mags in the 1950s?, San Fransisco, Silvia is one of Dick’s most common female character names, a life sized diorama, The Tell Tale Heart, The Days Of Perky Pat, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, the game of Life, Barbie, chew-z, the documentary Marwencol (2010), “he wants love”, Mark Hogancamp’s world is open, living in a real dream world, Deja Thoris has a time machine, Jeff Malmberg, A Clockwork Orange, adding layers, “well done Jeff”, R. Crumb, Blade Runner‘s androids take photographs to take memories, “reality and consciousness are fluid constructs”, crazy vs. differently enabled, Esopus magazine, a world without irony, authenticity, people are complicated, Greenwich Village, cross-dressing, WWII.

Small Town by Philip K. Dick second publication in the April 1967 issue of Amazing Stories

Marwencol

Posted by Jesse Willis

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