The SFFaudio Podcast #141 – READALONG: The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells

January 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #141 – Last week’s podcast was an unabridged reading of The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. This week Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Professor Eric S. Rabkin form an ad hoc community discuss it!

Talked about on today’s show:
Are we men or animals?, Charles Laughton, The Island Of Lost Souls, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, let the movie atrophy and evaporate, changing the name Prendick to Prentice to Parker, Margaret Atwood, Moor, death, water, Moreau, Gustav Moreau, etchings of Dante’s Inferno, ebony, anthracite, Moreau is a funeral shroud, prig + dick (thick), prender, Prendick appropriates Moreau’s island, the manuscript, Prendick is a user, “a false church”, Edward (the happy guardian), Charles (the common man), “a private gentleman”, the single biggest theme in the book (modern European culture deforms the natural state of things), beastilizing humans or humanizing beasts, the white man’s burden (and his name is black), pro-science vs. anti-progress, Darwin brings the questioning of the moral narrative of humans, Montgomery and Moreau lack moral direction, Prendick too is directionless (all at sea), vivisection, “life is the house of pain”, Wells (and Mary Shelley) are deeply concerned with the relationship of scientists with the larger community, Eric thinks science unaware of moral obligation is the target, Prendick is a disingenuous narrator, Moreau is a colonial overload, “The Lady Vain”, Lady Day (Billie Holiday) vs. Lady Day (the Catholicism meaning), “Lady Day” is an ironic reversal of “Saint Mary”, Ipecacuanha = ipecac, Gulliver’s Travels, what are the chances of a collision with a derelict ship in the middle of Pacific?, M’Ling, mankind’s way of finding destruction, “ship of fools”, the ships are microcosms, a foreshadowing of destruction (of an unsustainable ), “Wells is just so God-damned smart”, Addaneye Island vs. Adonai (God), M’Ling is Manling, is M’ling a dog or an ape?, Thomas HobbesLeviathan, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, “the great chain of being”, “In the afternoon, Moreau, Montgomery, myself, and M’ling went across the island to the huts in the ravine.” Montgomery = defender of the mountain, Prendick’s narration belies the events of the story, poetic justice, “he attacks Helmar with his hands”, men don’t sink like stones, cannibalism, “when every animal is a person then you better have a law against cannibalism”,

A sudden convulsion of rage shook me. I was almost moved to batter his foolish head in, as he lay there helpless at my feet. Then suddenly his hand moved, so feebly, so pitifully, that my wrath vanished. He groaned, and opened his eyes for a minute. I knelt down beside him and raised his head. He opened his eyes again, staring silently at the dawn, and then they met mine. The lids fell.

“Sorry,” he said presently, with an effort. He seemed trying to think. “The last,” he murmured, “the last of this silly universe. What a mess — ”

I listened. His head fell helplessly to one side. I thought some drink might revive him; but there was neither drink nor vessel in which to bring drink at hand. He seemed suddenly heavier. My heart went cold. I bent down to his face, put my hand through the rent in his blouse. He was dead…

Eric thinks Prendick is trying to exonerates himself, abolutionism a theme of abstinence and alcohol, “you’re Mr. Shut Up”, Lem Johnson, Governor George Gawler‘s 1838 speech to the local Aborigines in the Adelaide area:

“Black men – We wish to make you happy. But you cannot be happy unless you imitate good white men. Build huts, wear clothes, work and be useful. Above all things you cannot be happy unless you love GOD who made heaven and earth and men and all things. Love white men. Love other tribes of black men. Do not quarrel together. Tell other tribes to love white men, and to build good huts and wear clothes. Learn to speak English. If any man injure you tell the protector and he will do you justice.”

language as an instrument of repression, “this is an impossible story”, vivisection cannot create men, “this is a fable”, Thomas Henry Huxley, Wells was an apprentice to Huxley, natural selection and animal nature, if you can evolve can you devolve?, Montgomery is Moreau’s vicar (or Pope), an experiment with a snake, the Garden of Eden, Prendick is a liar, there is no great chain of being, Brits don’t have the right to change Indians, neither the force of arms, nor the claim of church, nor the claim of law can justifiably impose on one’s fellow man, The Time Machine, cannibalism is a transformation of murder, The Island Of Doctor Moreau as a fable, Sigmund Freud’s essay on “the uncanny” (make the metaphorical literal), The Eyes Have It by Philip K. Dick, it looks like a beast fable, “animal swiftness”, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, rabbits and Easter and eggs, Prendick destroys the symbol of christian resurrection, “a boat of community”, The War Of The Worlds as a kind of coda to The Island Of Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein, human beings are social animals, Boer Wars, South Africa, The Invisible Man, The Kingdom Of The Blind by H.G. Wells, one man is no match to a community, all of Wells’ protagonists seem to be horrible human beings, “a private gentleman”, if you have means you have an obligation to participate in the world, the doubting Thomas Marvel, the ocelot man, the pig men, the monkey man, “he’s a five man”, “big thinks” vs. “little thinks”, “it takes a real man to tell a lie”, sex and marriage and community in Frankenstein, Doctor Moreau Explains, man-making vs. woman-making, the puma-woman, Brian Aldiss, The Other Island Of Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein Unbound, “when suffering finds a voice”, vivisection, social class, PETA, the British Museum, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, The Invention Of Morrel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, “an atrocious miracle”, “youthful blasphemy”, are there any contemporary reviews for The Island Of Doctor Moreau?, Henry James vs. H.G. Wells, little picture vs. big picture, psychology vs. sociology, characters vs. ideas, our Rainbow’s End discussion, Wells is undervalued because he is so easy to read, the consumption of food and drink, Wells learned it all, The Outline Of History by H.G. Wells, Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, ramify, The Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, The Inheritors is an elegiac recognition of the importance of community, neanderthals.

The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells - Illustration by Frank R. Paul for Amazing Stories

The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells - Illustration by Frank R. Paul for Amazing Stories

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

The Island Of Dr. Moreau - Cover illustration by Paul Lehr

H.G.WELLS' The Island Of Dr Moreau - MARVEL

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #087 – READALONG: Hyperion by Dan Simmons

December 20, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #087 – Jesse talks with Gregg Margarite and Mark Douglas Nelson (two terrific LibriVox and iambik audiobook narrators) about the Brilliance Audio (Audible Frontiers) audiobook Hyperion by Dan Simmons.

Talked about on today’s show:
SciPodBooks.com (Mark Douglas Nelson’s audiobooks), Mark’s double understanding of Hyperion, “make it internally consistent”, Jurassic Park, living in forward and backward time, “The Scholar’s Tale”, setting reality aside, “why can’t stories be written in less than 600 (or 1100) pages”, “the nomenclature was great”, Hyperion made Gregg sad (it reminded him of Walmart), The Canterbury Tales, The Decameron, was Hyperion a near miss?, “The Priest’s Tale”, Robert Sheckley, if they were self contained stories would it have worked better?, The Fall Of Hyperion, comparing the Hyperion Cantos to Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series, “The Diplomat’s Tale”, the stories get worse as you go along, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Slaughterhouse Five |READ OUR REVIEW|, “The Soldier’s Tale”, making a link between sex and violence, Starship Troopers, Colonel Fedmahn Kassad is a good character, “The Poet’s Tale”, Martin Silenus (the Satyr) and Sad King Billy (William XXIII of the Kingdom of Windsor-in-Exile), “The Detective’s Tale” (the long goodbye), cybrids are very cool, John Keats, Ezra Pound, combining a hardboiled/noir detective story with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, talking to dolphins, narrator duties, you don’t fall in love with the client!, “when a detective‘s partner is killed he’s supposed to do something about it”. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, “The Scholar’s Tale”, Sol Weintraub, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Merlin sickness (Merlin’s disease), David Hume‘s explanation of miracles: a miracle would be “a transgression of a law of nature”, if speculative fiction exists this is what they were talking about, time debt, if anything can happen then I don’t care what happens, the story of Abraham and Isaac (the binding of Isaac), is Hyperion a religious book?, Abraham’s ethics were childish compared to Sol, The river Lethe (was one of the rivers in Hades – it was river of unmindfulness, The Green Odyssey |READ OUR REVIEW|, why was the windwagon late?, Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express and Ten Little Indians, what happened to the Templar?, We’re Off To See The Wizard, The Wizard Of Oz, the confrontation with the Shrike, it’s a grab bag of everything, Simmons must have been inspired by all sorts of sources, the half-hour blender metaphor, Gregg is upset we all came to the same (and correct) conclusion, Simmons set himself a Titanic task with Hyperion, where was the editor?, listening to a multi-voiced audiobook, Full Cast Audio, Hyperion‘s narrators (Marc Vietor, Allyson Johnson, Kevin Pariseau, Jay Snyder, Victor Bevine), having to fend off the legions of audiobook groupies, Gregg gets emails about the pronunciation of “prestidigitation”, the generic American sitcom accent, Norse mythology, Yggdrasil (the world tree), Stephen King’s the Dark Tower series and Kevin J. Anderson’s Saga of Seven Suns series, Kevin J. Anderson‘s writing secret (he goes hiking with a voice recorder), Frank Herbert’s Dune, David Lynch’s Dune, Dune Messiah is a let-down but it has the Golah!, Gregg wants a copy of The Orange-Catholic Bible, “would you be a Bene Gesserit or a Mentat?”, Gregg would be a Morlock, look elsewhere for a cannibal podcast, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle‘s Oath Of Fealty, Jonathan Swift‘s Gulliver’s Travels, Julie Davis of Forgotten Classics, Gregg says Julie is really a horse!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Blackstone Audio

September 3, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Blackstone AudiobooksComic books and reference books were the two types of paperbooks I thought I’d never ever see turned into audiobooks.

“How could they do it?”

That was basically my entire argument. But then, a few years ago I was foiled: Graphic Audio does them! Still, reference books … nobody could ever do an audiobook of one of those. Right? Right?!?

Nope. You were wrong again Jesse!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Twilight Zone Companion Second Edition by Marc Scott ZicreeThe Twilight Zone Companion (Second Edition)
By Marc Scott Zicree; Read by Tom Weiner
13 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 15.4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: March 2010
ISBN: 9781433223426 (cd), 9781433223457 (mp3-cd)
The Twilight Zone Companion is the complete, five season (1959-64) show-by-show guide to one of television’s greatest series. Zicree’s well-written account is fascinating reading for even the casual fan. Coverage of each episode includes plot synopsis, Rod Serling’s opening narration, behind-the-scenes stories from the original artists who created the series, and a complete list of cast and credits.

Vampire Zero is the third in Wellington’s Vampire series, following after 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Vampire Zero by David WellingtonVampire Zero: A Gruesome Vampire Tale
By David Wellington; Read by Bernadette Dunne
9 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: May 2010
ISBN: 9781441739308 (cd), 9781441739339 (mp3-cd)
U.S. Marshal Jameson Arkeley, the country’s foremost authority on vampires, taught police investigator and vampire fighter Laura Caxton everything she knows about monsters. After a bloody war visited upon Gettysburg by an army of vampires, Arkeley gave up his own life to save others—except he didn’t exactly die. Arkeley accepted the curse and is now a vampire himself. What’s worse, he’s the savviest vampire ever; he knows all the tricks better than anyone. Caxton is now faced with the task of destroying her former mentor. But Arkeley knows all her tactics too; after all, he taught them to her. Caxton realizes she must finish Arkeley before he succeeds in his quest to exterminate his own family. But even more important, she has to prevent him from becoming a beast exponentially more dangerous: a vampire zero.

Voyagers, the 1st book in the “Voyagers” series, came out in 1981. Books 2 and 3 were published in ’86 and ’90 and The Return, book 4, came out in paperbook in 2009. 2010 brings…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Return by Ben BovaThe Return (Book IV of Voyagers)
By Ben Bova; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
11 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: July 2010
ISBN: 9781433277702 (cd), 9781433277733 (mp3-cd)
After more than a century of exploring the stars, Keith Stoner returns to Earth to find that the world he has come back to does not match the one he left. The planet is suffering the consequences of disastrous greenhouse flooding. Most nations have been taken over by ultraconservative religion-based governments, such as the New Morality in the United States. With population ballooning and resources running out, Earth is heading for nuclear war. Stoner, the star voyager, wants to save Earth’s people. But first he must save himself from the frightened and ambitious zealots who want to destroy this stranger—and the terrifying message he brings from the stars.

Here’s the longest running series, in number of years, of this batch. The first Berserker book, a collection of short stories about the titular self-replicating war machines, came out in 1967. This is the 14th book in the series…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Rogue Berserker by Fred SaberhagenRogue Berserker
By Fred Saberhagen; Read by Paul Michael Garcia
8 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2009
ISBN: 9781433217104 (cd), 9781433217135 (mp3-cd)
ROGUE: (1) A deceitful, double-dealing evildoer. (2) A fierce elephant or stamodont that has been banished from the herd. (3) Having a peculiarly malevolent or unstable nature. (4) No longer loyal, affiliated, or recognized, and hence not governable or accountable. Erring, apostate. (Galactic Dictionary of the Common Tongue)

Harry Silver has already had a lifetime of trouble from ordinary Berserkers, the automated killing machines programmed an age ago to denude the galaxy of life. But now one of these machines has gone rogue—and kidnapped his own family. What worse devilry will a deviant killing machine attempt? How will he stop it? And even if he can, will he ever see his family alive again?

Pat Murphy’s website describes Nadya as “an historic, feminist, werewolf novel with fist fights, Indian magic, daring rescues, and great sex. What more could you ask?” Maybe only that it be an audiobook with great cover art? Hey now!

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Nadya by Pat MurphyNadya: The Wolf Chronicles
By Pat Murphy; Read by Kirsten Potter
13 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – 15.4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: May 2010
ISBN: 9781441733832 (cd), 9781441733863 (mp3-cd)
The daughter of Polish immigrants growing up in the 1830s on the Missouri frontier, Nadya knew she was not like other girls. But when she became a woman and the Change came, she discovered just how different she was. For Nadya was a shape changer, a werewolf like her Polish immigrant mother and father before her. After coming through a great personal tragedy brought about by her trusting nature and burgeoning sexuality, Nadya heads west to California, seeking a place to be wild and free. Nadya befriends the more cultured Elizabeth and the prepubescent Jenny, and together, the three young women fight their way across the vast American frontier. En route, they encounter rattlesnakes, Indians, the remains of the cannibalistic Donner party, and Elizabeth’s repressed sexuality, which leads to an affair between her and Nadya.

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Random House Audio: Dexter Is Delicious

September 3, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: New Releases 

Aural Noir: New Releases

Random House Audio is releasing the fifth and latest book in the Dexter Morgan series on Tuesday. This time it’s read by the author! All four of the previous audiobooks in the series were narrated by Nick Landrum for Recorded Books

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Dexter Is Delicious by Jeff LindsayDexter Is Delicious
By Jeff Lindsay; Read by Jeff Lindsay
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 7, 2010
ISBN: 9780307577542
Dexter Morgan has always lived a happy homicidal life. He keeps his dark urges in check by adhering to one stead­fast rule . . . he only kills very bad people. But now Dexter is experiencing some major life changes—don’t we all?—and they’re mostly wrapped up in the eight-pound curiosity that is his newborn daughter. Family bliss is cut short, however, when Dexter is summoned to investigate the disappearance of a seventeen-year-old girl who has been running with a bizarre group of goths who fancy themselves to be vampires. As Dexter gets closer to the truth of what happened to the missing girl, he realizes they are not really vampires so much as cannibals. And, most disturbing . . . these people have decided they would really like to eat Dexter.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft, Volume 4 by H.P. Lovecraft

August 17, 2006 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

Horror Audiobooks - The Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 4 - The Rats In The Walls, The Shunned House, The Music Of Eric ZahnThe Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft Volume 4: The Rats In The Walls, The Shunned House, The Music Of Eric Zann
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Wayne June
3 CDs – 2 Hours 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1897304242
Themes: / Fantasy / Horror / Music / Atavistic Guilt / Cannibalism / Mushrooms /

Curse you, Thornton, I’ll teach you to faint at what my family do! … ‘Sblood, thou stinkard, I’ll learn ye how to gust … wolde ye swynke me thilke wys?… Magna Mater! Magna Mater!… Atys… Dia ad aghaidh’s ad aodaun… agus bas dunarch ort! Dhonas ‘s dholas ort, agus leat-sa!… Ungl unl… rrlh … chchch…

This collection from Audio Realms is the fourth in a series, and the second to be reviewed. There are three CDs and three complete and unabridged stories here, first published between 1922 and 1937. The tales are archaically constructed. If you sat down and try to read one of the paragraph-long sentences that Lovecraft wrote you’d probably begin to wonder why it actually works. Then if you considered that this is the guy who makes curious genealogists or amateur historians the center of his horror stories it becomes almost baffling how he manages to keep our attention at all. There is no doubt though: Lovecraft has our attention. I think I am on safe ground in calling him, at the very least, one of the true giants of Horror fiction. Here are three stories that will prove it…

The Rats In The Walls
The Delapore family, late of Massachusetts, has returned to its ancestral family estate in rural England. Their genealogical and historical research reveals that their ancestors have maintained a strange atavistic responsibility to the land and the ruin upon which their keep was built. Woe be to the friendly neighbors of the long-away Delapores, for the Delapore blood runs thick in their veins and loudly thrums with ancestral duty, as loudly perhaps as the “venimous slithering of ravenous rats in the walls.”

The Shunned House
The house of this story is reported to have been based on a couple of real houses that Lovecraft actually visited. One in particular in Providence, RI at #135 Benefit Street, as in the story, is supposed to be the main inspiration. This story also uses local Providence folklore and history for added depth, but I suspect that if even one fifth of the rest of this story were true we’d have to nuke Rhode Island from orbit, just to be sure. I think some people consider this to be one of Lovecraft’s lesser tales but this one really got me. I am probably a bit more mycophobic than your average person, though. If you don’t like mushrooms, or if you’re even a little afraid of them, listen to this one with the lights on.

The Music Of Eric Zann
One of the most frequently adapted of Lovecraftian tales. The narrator, a near-vagrant, recalls a fellow lodger of a mouldering lodging house in a mysterious French city. Erich Zann is being stalked by a nameless horror that comes to him at night. Only the eerie music he produced was not nearly as haunting as horror that chased him. First published in 1922, still powerful.

SFFaudio Essential narrator Wayne June is back! His grave rumbling voice and his letter perfect pacing makes each of these three tales a shuddersome experience. But I do have a one problem with this entry in the terrific Dark Worlds Of H.P. Lovecraft series. It isn’t the production; these CDs sound awesome. Wayne June’s reading of these three stories is absolutely definitive. His unaccompanied performance is utterly chilling – this series truly must be heard. It isn’t the packaging that is the problem, with original art by Allen K. The images on this series are reminiscent of the art found within the pages of the pulps in which these stories were first published. No, my problem isn’t with any of these things. My problem is with choice to censor a couple of lines of the text in The Rats In The Walls. It makes me want to cry. Maybe Lovecraft was indeed being a racist when he wrote the offending words (in naming Delacore’s cat “Nigger-man”), but I’m a purist. Instead of calling Delacore’s cat “Nigger-man” Audio Realms has changed it to “Blackman.” If the text is good enough to be republished year after year ought we not preserve it as it stands, racism and all? True horror is by its very nature transgressive, but I want all the horror in my life to be in fiction. A cannibalistic incestuous serial murderer of homeless children is scary in fiction but as long as its fiction I’m up for it. Keep all the racist crazy-talk in the fiction, I say, because that is where it all belongs.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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