The SFFaudio Podcast #416 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

April 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #416 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander discuss Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, June-July 1939, The Midnight Meat Train, the audio drama from Suspense (Blue Hours), Los Angeles, a truly underground story, how far the infection has spread, like Russian nesting dolls, Pickman’s Model, Pickman’s painting entitled “Subway Accident”, Death Line (1972) (aka Raw Meat), The Terror Of Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a rabbit warren, movie adaptations, C.H.U.D. (1984), Escape From New York (1981), they’re everywhere, very 80s, atrocious dialogue and logic, an old dodge, John Carpenter, the 59th street bridge, the society of CHUDs, female inmate, a mini-romance, how most people interact with this story, I could barely get through it and I really liked it, weird pacing, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), the camera as observer, Christopher Lee and Donald, “There are monsters in the tunnel inspector!”, a film out of its time, the old boy’s network (is also from Far Below), a mean bully thief sexist, looting the place, two different movies, it somehow works, so garish, quite murky, incredible tunnels in the London Underground, ghost stations, Creep (2004), ghost stories/urban legends, the monsters are descendants of the survivors of a tunnel construction collapse, The Descent (2005), the man aka the cannibal, “mind the doors”, an exploitative horrible monster mess movie, she’s pregnant, keep the community going, a family crypt, a tragedy horror, is Creep (2004) a remake of Raw Meat (aka Death Line)?, where does folklore come from?, a secret medical experiment facility, he’s always preceded by rats, The Graveyard Rats by Henry Kuttner, The Gruesome Book, a race of subterranean beings, a dead body animated by rats, The Gripping Hand and The Mote In God’s Eye, the watchmaker moties, Gremlins (1984), the tendrils out of Lovecraft grow deep, Mimic (1997), Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, a mad scientist with other responsibilities, giving your right arm, I’m not quite there yet, a reasonable depravity, the Duke Of New York is A#1, a little smoke break, calling forth the CHUDs, we follow Kurt Russell following that guy, Franka Potente looking for George Clooney, empathy for a rapist, it’s all connected, a theme of degeneration in the dark, she’s a bitch, a horrible manipulative person, a nice symmetry, social satire, black humour, this is horrible and great as well, Syria and Russia, this is why the Indians sold Manhattan so cheap, where is The Descent supposed to take place?, they’re albino cave dwellers, Monsters (1990) TV show adaptation of Far Below, The Midnight Meat Train, Clive Barker’s obsession with raw meat, Bradley Cooper, Limitless,
the wrong carriage, butchered bodies, the butcher, the true city fathers, who is the narrator talking to?, you’re going to eat my wife, a choice ending, a deep cut, a new recruit, they weren’t allowed to report on this, a student, a photographer, a vegan, ultra-horror, he’s grain fed!, starting with an image, holding on vs. hanging from, Mahogany, the mythological ferryman, their damnation until they can pass it on, The Books Of Blood by Clive Barker, Dagon (the fanzine), he hadn’t read any Lovecraft at that point, Bryan may have lived Far Below, The Warriors (1979), Death Wish (1974), the Washington, D.C. subway system, Fallout 3, Death Line (Raw Meat) 1972, Escape From New York (1981), C.H.U.D. (1984), sewers, Monsters (1990) TV show, Creep 2004, The Descent (2005), attested by every country in the world and every people, ghouls in the bible?, J.R.R. Tolkien has it, the barrow wights, Edgar Rice Burroughs, white furry monster, the Morlocks, H.G. Wells invented CHUDs (in The Time Machine), The Midnight Meat Train (2008), the vein, going deep, Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne, monks are more heavenly, the Wizard Knight worlds, Gene Wolfe, angels, burrowing into mother earth, the long tradition of the earth as maternal, All Quiet On The Western Front, WWI, Château-Thierry, Verdun, bleed France white, “they shall not pass”, the Balrog, delving too deep, a battlefield map, battlefield commander, Vimy Ridge, 12 kilometers of tunnel, Passchendaele (2008), Thompson, the Maxim gun, domestic life, Carl Akeley, taxidermy, big game hunting, apes, killing a leopard with his bare hands, Indiana Jones, The American Museum Of Natural History’s Akeley Hall, Heart Of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, Friedrich Nietzsche on the abyss, ghouls like in Pickman’s Model, hinting, Pickman’s Model is the fictionalized version of Far Below, part simian part canine part mole, Nyarlathotep darkness, The Rats In The Walls, howling blindly, idiot flute players, the dark pharaoh, August Derleth, Cthulhu Water, The Facts In The Case Of Arthur Jermyn And His Family aka The White Ape, it’s not the family, Greek vs. Biblical, the acme of human progress tears itself to bits, national or familial genealogy, the family business, plump Captain Norris, the Morlock connection, staring into the abyss, the hidden race sub-genre, Richard Sharpe Shaver, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, they colonize us, The Mound by Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft, an inverted high-tech monstrous civilization, let’s see where it goes, less genetic and more philosophical, the description of the funding, NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker, Tammany Hall, childhood power fantasy, for our own safety, you’d understand, carte blanche, you can’t handle the truth, he’s the bad guy, in the warm light of day, taking precautions, the deepness rotting at the core of the Earth, involving the feds, the classic American cop story, NYC police corruption, Prince Of The City with Treat Williams, the War on Terror, At The Mountains Of Madness, Boston subway stations, Bram Stoker, high-tech, nascent technology, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, the telephone, it’s a tasty story, the thing was upon us, out of the darkness, Supernatural Horror In Literature, I learned a lot from Lovecraft, Quiet Please: The Thing On The Fourble Board, they dug too deep!, listen at night in the basement, things that are digging up, Jon Petwee era, Doctor Who: Inferno, Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror, the Brigadier’s eyepatch and Spock’s beard, evil Captain Archer, green gas causing degeneration, environmentalism, The Green Death another minging story, The Silurians, Call Ghostbusters (1984)!, Edge Of Darkness (1985), Homer, Polyphemus he only sleeps in a cave, neanderthals, and the niter, it grows!

Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

Mister Mystery - The Subway Terror

Escape From New York's CRAZIES

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #322 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #322 – Jesse and Jenny talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
many sins, paperbooks, The Architect Of Aeons by John C. Wright, Tor Books, The Voyage Of The Basilisk by Marie Brennan, beautiful illustrations and blue text, cover art, a bias against bad art, the way kids talk about book covers, fonts and graphic design, stock photos, don’t mix serif’d fonts, use classic art in the public domain, don’t muddy it up, Graysun Press Class M Exile by Raven Oak, Star Trek, Self Made Hero, I.N.J. Culbard, The Shadow Out Of Time, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, the difficulty of promotion for small press publishers, Horror!, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker, John Lee, Macmillan Audio, Pinhead, Hellraiser, random bloody body horror, The Midnight Meat Train, Bradley Cooper, the way Clive Barker’s stuff works, Audio Realms, Limbus, Inc. Book 2, a shared world anthology by Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe McKinney, Harry Shannon edited by Brett J. Talley, space for creativity, David Stifel’s narration of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Island Of Doctor Moreau meets Frankenstein done Burroughs style, The Man Without A Soul, David Stifel knows everything about Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, read by Scott Brick, Mad Max: Fury Road, 3D is a gimmick, Vampire Horror! by M.R. James, John Polidori, F. Marion Crawford, Anthony Head, M.R. James is the country churchyard ghost story guy, John Polidori was Byron’s Doctor, Mary Shelley won the contest, The Vampyre by John Polidori, Lord Ruthven is kind of based on Lord Byron, an autobiographical fantasy horror, music!, all the good D words, Survivors by Terry Nation, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, who wrote House, M.D.?, writing credit in the UK, a familiar premise, the original TV series and the remake, The Walking Dead, all the fun stuff we like about post-apocalyptic storytelling, simultaneous existence, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, our dependence on grasses, The Road, canned food isn’t a long term plan, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, deer in the woods, the high price put on poaching, the other solution is cannibalism (also not very sustainable), The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, cutting water, this is already how things are, the atomic bomb scenarios are played out, the water problem, the new dust bowl, North Carolina and South Carolina, Seattle and Vancouver, Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, read by Phil Gigante, a comic version of Doctor Strangelove, Marissa Vu, Paul Weimer, The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, Luke Burrage’s reviews of the Orange County books, Find Me by Laura van den Berg, silver blisters?, Guy de Maupassant style, The End Has Come edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams, Carrie Vaughn, Megan Arkenberg, Will McIntosh, Scott Sigler, Sarah Langan, Chris Avellone, Seanan McGuire, Leife Shallcross, Ben H. Winters, David Wellington, Annie Bellet, Tananarive Due, Robin Wasserman, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth Bear, Jonathan Maberry, Charlie Jane Anders, Jake Kerr, Ken Liu, Mira Grant, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Margaret Atwood’s serial, Science Fiction in Space and the Desert, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, read by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron, very sciencey, too many Jesses, Rob’s commute, Nova by Margaret Fortune, read by Jorjeana Marie, a human bomb, Imposter by Philip K. Dick, The Fold by Peter Clines, read by Ray Porter, another Philip K. Dick story called Prominent Author, a joke story, 14 by Peter Clines, Expanded Universe, Vol. 1 by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Bronson Pinchot, Blackstone Audio, Robert A. Heinlein is a weird idea man, Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Hachette Audio, Sword & Laser, The Darkling Child (The Defenders of Shannara) by Terry Brooks, read by Simon Vance, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, larger than life voices, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, the accents, BBC audio dramas of James Bond books, the David Niven Casino Royale, The Brenda & Effie Mysteries: Brenda Has Risen From the Grave! (4), Bafflegab, Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III: A Novel by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, read by Michael Fenton Stevens and Stephen Briggs, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, read by Julia Emelin, The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, read by Davina Porter, Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor, coming of age in a fantasy world, librarians recommend!

The Brenda And Effie Mysteries (4) Brenda Has Risen From The Grave by Paul Magrs

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #312 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Soft by F. Paul Wilson

April 13, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #312 – Soft by F. Paul Wilson; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
Humphrey Bogart, reading at school, Jesse’s job, Korean academy (Hagwon), enrichment, H.P. Lovecraft, writing poems about ghosts, Tiger moms, Korean Hogwarts, a period piece, the 5″ black&white TV screen, an emergency television?, a Casio LCD Walkman sized TV, body horror, tentacles, the rats are people?, a TV adaptation?, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, the ending, what’s happened to George, clinging to their immunity, two weighted drapes, repopulating the Earth, 1950s actors, Protecting Project Pulp, Sex Slaves Of The Dragon Tong, Edgar Rice Burroughs, pulp era racism, Edgar Allan Poe, black people are conspicuously absent from most of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, Poe’s only interested in the deaths of beautiful women, is F. Paul Wilson libertarian?, what happens after the story’s end?, not many are left alive, The Walking Dead, the empty city, i09’s apocalyptic, zombie stories, World War Z, a partial zombie story, the introduction from Between Time and Terror edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, the allegorical treatment of the AIDS epidemic, New York City, Cary Grant, what is Brad Pitt’s catchphrase, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hidden McBain movie in The Simpsons, watching movies on TV, a rumpus room?, the dying living room, reviving the living room?, you’re all alone together, Merlin, so ’80s, the Star Wars movies, what happened?, ’70s movies are now incomprehensible, we need training to appreciate old movies, the difference between the Watchmen movie and the Watchmen comic, new RoboCop vs. old RoboCop, V For Vendetta, Hugo Weaving’s performance as V, Fred’s kids, they can never a Jedi be, Yoda is wrong about everything, Dr. Smith from Lost In Space, David Brin, the nostalgia of old movies as a way of escaping the horrible pain of reality, an uncomfortable feeling of liking apocalyptic stories, weirdly self-flattering, zmobies are the force of nature we refuse to acknowledge, Robert J. Sawyer, the medical cure for death is coming, denying death vs. embracing death, Night Of The Living Dead, a memento mori, this story is about Viagra, an episode of Senifeld, …what was left of my legs, a great first line, a newscaster still out there, they’re all Jell-O in their apartment buildings, the Libertarian streak, does he have the cure, Ray Kurzweil, the basic premise of all life so far discovered in the universe, no matter how many pills he takes, fish oil revolutionized Fred’s life, a more wide ranging curiosity, fishy burps, its a pill of course its good for me!

Still Life With A Skull

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Consumed by David Cronenberg

October 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

consumedConsumed
By David Cronenberg; Narrated by William Hurt
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 30 September 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours, 50 minutes

Themes: / body horror / technofear / medical / sex / conspiracy /

Publisher summary:

The exhilarating debut novel by iconic filmmaker David Cronenberg: the story of two journalists whose entanglement in a French philosopher’s death becomes a surreal journey into global conspiracy.

Stylish and camera-obsessed, Naomi and Nathan thrive on the yellow journalism of the social-media age. They are lovers and competitors – nomadic freelancers in pursuit of sensation and depravity, encountering each other only in airport hotels and browser windows.

Naomi finds herself drawn to the headlines surrounding Célestine and Aristide Arosteguy, Marxist philosophers and sexual libertines. Célestine has been found dead and mutilated in her Paris apartment. Aristide has disappeared. Police suspect him of killing her and consuming parts of her body. With the help of an eccentric graduate student named Hervé Blomqvist, Naomi sets off in pursuit of Aristide. As she delves deeper into Célestine and Aristide’s lives, disturbing details emerge about their sex life – which included trysts with Hervé and others. Can Naomi trust Hervé to help her?

Nathan, meanwhile, is in Budapest photographing the controversial work of an unlicensed surgeon named Zoltán Molnár, once sought by Interpol for organ trafficking. After sleeping with one of Molnár’s patients, Nathan contracts a rare STD called Roiphe’s. Nathan then travels to Toronto, determined to meet the man who discovered the syndrome. Dr. Barry Roiphe, Nathan learns, now studies his own adult daughter, whose bizarre behavior masks a devastating secret. These parallel narratives become entwined in a gripping, dreamlike plot that involves geopolitics, 3-D printing, North Korea, the Cannes Film Festival, cancer, and, in an incredible number of varieties, sex. Consumed is an exuberant, provocative debut novel from one of the world’s leading film directors.

“Let me unbox you…”
-Aristide Arosteguy

This is a novel best suited to two audiences: those looking for innovative horror, and people interested in visionary possibilities of new media. It would also be good for fans of first-time novelist David Cronenberg’s work in film, but I suspect they’d fall into the first two categories.

(I fall into all three, being a lifelong Cronenberg fan since I first saw the mad genius of Videodrome.)

Consumed is, as one might expect from the author, a challenging and strange book. I can describe the plot like this: two journalists investigate a Parisian crime, wherein a husband killed and ate part of his wife. The (former) couple were influential philosophers, Célestine and Aristide Arosteguy, and a cute parody of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. They made waves with a theory of consumer society (hence one meaning of the title). Naomi and Nathan are lovers and colleagues, fellow gadget hounds, but they usually live apart, and follow their joint inquiry along separate, parallel lines.

What follows is a picaresque or road trip, as the two N’s travel the world: Paris, Japan, Canada, Hungary, Cannes, Holland. Cronenberg teasingly refuses to give us much local color, offering instead the thin, usually tech-mediated views of our protagonists, or sketches of the people they meet.

So much for the plot’s initial action. But I’d also need to tell you more about the book’s style. Consumed adores its surfaces and fetishes. It lovingly describes clothing, technologies, record covers (oh yes), body parts, and interior decorating exactly as far as major characters obsess over them. Technology looms large; this is very much a novel about modern digital devices and how we intimately use them.

Consumed is also about pushing against discussing awkward or awful topics, mostly in a horrific way. Without spoilering too much, I can mention offhandedly cannibalism, murder, autocannibalism, apotemnophilia, acrotomophilia, deformed body parts, sexually transmitted diseases, cancerous body parts, and medical fetishism. Which brings us back to Cronenberg’s tone. He doesn’t revel in these topics, but comes to them thoughtfully, from a character’s mind, almost (and sometimes literally) clinically.

In a sense Consumed is an update of Videodrome, a deep dive into our current media obsessions and how they warp (and delight) ourselves. “Naomi was in the screen” is how it begins. In a sense this is about limitation, especially by the end. Yet Cronenberg isn’t simply a techno-skeptic, at least not in the text; he’s too fond of devices and their powers. He sees their depths, and shares them with us through his well-informed, perverse vision.

It’s also a horror novel by any stretch of the term. There’s body horror, dread, suspense, and even a touch of something deeper by the end.

It is also funny, although not everyone laughs with me. There are running gags, like many characters’ obsession with landing a New Yorker story, or in Naomi and Nathan’s banter, or nearly everything the bad Hungarian surgeon says.

I’d recommend this to the audiences mentioned above.

William Hurt does a terrific job with the audiobook overall, handling a wide range of accents. He seems especially at home with Aristide Arosteguy’s voice. Early on Hurt inserts odd, non-Shatnerian pauses into sentences that disconcert, but this ceases by the middle of the book. It’s a pleasure to listen to.

Posted by Bryan A.