The SFFaudio Podcast #311 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Ethan Brand by Nathaniel Hawthorne

April 6, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio, Podcasts 

Podcast

TheSFFaudioPodcast600

The SFFaudio Podcast #311 – Ethan Brand by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged recording of the story (44 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie, Seth, and Rose.

Talked about on today’s show:
The story as a “culminate chapter” to an unfinished novel; H.P. Lovecraft’s description of the story in his essay on supernatural fiction (see our Podcast of the Seven Gables); Ethan Brand as Byronic (anti)hero; Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft; the uncanny nature of laughter; Hawthorne’s Biblical allegory; “Puritans and sin, they go hand in hand”; Ethan Brand and Adam’s search for forbidden knowledge; the almost-total absence of women in the story; the vices of the townspeople in the story; Hawthorne’s regret of the Salem witch trials; parallels to House of the Seven Gables; Hawthorne’s sense of humor; similarities to Goethe’s Faust; the Jew and his picture box; how the Holocaust ruined our reading of literature; what exactly does Ethan Brand see in the picture box?; the biblical story of Job; the intersection of sin and evil; the sin of suicide–can it be absolved?; the ambiguity of the final laughter; morality vs. intellect; the multifaceted symbolism of the story’s final image; association with Cain and Abel; double meaning of the name Brand; the internal nature of Brand’s sin; the image of girls running off to join the circus is apparently timeless; The Heart of Ethan Brand 1944 radio drama by Weird Circle; is redemption possible?; relics, iconoclasm, and capitalism; fruitlessness of pursuing knowledge; the story’s roots in Hawthorne’s experience; staring into fire; the audio drama’s departure from evil; “Jesse does not eat babies–or even veal.”; using people as a means to an end; degrees of evil; the sin of pride; Paradise LostRappaccini’s Daughter; the story’s measured tone; Sinners in the Hands of an Angry GodDombey and Son; the dog chasing its tail; unconditional love; the alternate pronunciation of “kiln”; parallels in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; contradictions in story’s final image; white as image of purity in Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and other fairy tales; phantom limbs; more on The Happy PrinceThe Selfish GiantThe Centerville Ghost by Oscar Wilde; the power of audiobooks; “hair-raising image of corruption”; Ethan Brand as a novel.

Ethan Brand - illustration by Elliott Banfield

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

Review of Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith

October 22, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-SmithUnholy Night
By Seth Grahame-Smith; Read by Peter Nerkot
10 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Fantasy / Mythology / Occult / Christianity / Bible /

“Joseph? Mary? My name is Balthazar. This is Gaspar . . . this is Melchyor. We don’t want to hurt you . . . we’re just looking for a place to rest. But, Joseph? if you don’t put that pitchfork down, I’m going to take it from you and stab you to death in front of your wife and child. Do you understand?”

Wanted thieves Balthazar, Melchyor, and Gaspar, disguised as wise men, show up at a little manger in Bethlehem with a huge star blazing overhead, looking for a hideout from the law. But when Herod’s soldiers begin slaughtering the babies in Bethlehem, Balthazar takes the safety of the Holy Family into his own hands. As fugitives on the run to Egypt, they must escape not only Roman soldiers but creatures of mythology and the occult. Everyone’s either gunning for the Antioch Ghost with a price on his head or the innocent newborn who has such an unearthly effect on those around him.

Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) finally stops inserting his words into other people’s writing and writes a book in his own words. And a fine job he does of it too. For a violent, gore-filled, action-thriller there are a surprising number of very human characters, many of whom we are meant to recognize.

Pontius Pilate appears as an ambitious young officer ambivalent about truth. Mary and Joseph struggle with how to reconcile the truth of Jesus as God with the reality of a baby who must be fed, loved, and parented. Above all, this is Balthazar’s story, who has a complex story-line driving his actions and attitudes. We learn how he became the cynical Antioch Ghost and we wonder if he will find a more worthy goal than vengeance.

Above all, I was surprised to find myself eventually thinking of Unholy Night as modern midrash. Midrash is a traditional Jewish way of trying to understand the underlying spirit of scripture, sometimes connecting it to modern life, by creating parables. This allows for some imaginative storytelling as rabbis look for interpretations with are not immediately obvious but are nevertheless held within the original text.

Grahame-Smith lives up to the midrash ideal by both being respectful to his source material and also using his vivid imagination on a Biblical event that is wide-open to interpretation, Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt with the Christ child. Among other things, the author is very good at opening new views on familiar subjects, such as just how horrible King Herod was. It brings to life the terrible things he did very much as I have read them in history books. One also gets a deeper understanding of the locals’ simmering, resentful hatred of the Roman empire.

Narrator Peter Berkrot is a reader I haven’t come across before but will be seeking out in the future. He conveys just the right amount of cynicism as Balthazar, menace and insanity as Herod, and innocence as Mary. I am not sure how this book comes across in print but I’d listen to it again in a heartbeat thanks to Berkrot’s narration.

Grahame-Smith has delivered a story of Biblical proportions in Unholy Night: zombies, swarms of locusts, epic sword fights, outlaws, obsessed rulers, vengeance, redemption, and more are in this entertaining action tale. That he did it all while staying true to original material that can be unpopular reading these days makes him a writer I am going to seek out in the future. Highly recommended.

Posted by Julie D.