The SFFaudio Podcast #334 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #334 – The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Pioneer, March 1843, a Hawthorne Poe fest, contemporaries, The Scarlet Letter, a quote by Poe about Hawthorne, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, well known?, why this story Fred?, he’s obsessed with sin, sociopaths, trigger warnings, neurosis, shame, luck, shaped by sin, a mark upon the family, subconscious Freudian messages, Commentary Magazine, Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature by Gary Saul Morson, textual density, vocab, Lovecraft poems, Fungi From Yuggoth poems, harbours, kids are now shuttled between school the home and the mall, ranting against Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, revolutions in 20th century literature, Ernest Hemingway, the show don’t tell revolution, Hawthorne is the telling-est teller who ever telled, the right attitude toward sin, the two facedness of people, Hawthorne is attacking late stage decadent Puritanism, a homosexual vibe, what is the lesson?, science reaches too far?, Gothic horror, the evil wizard or the mad scientist, science as the channel to unlimited power, elixirs, potions, not even futuristic, Georgiana, Aminadab?, where is this story set?, Aylmer’s castle, Aylmer’s wealth, a compartmentalized life, from the third person POV, the host narration, obsession, the left side, the sinister side, she’s been marked, in the dream, chemical means, pre-Darwin, “I’ve got these old books”, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a natural philosopher, science vs. alchemy vs. magic, Isaac Newton, almost as if he was Ben Franklin, electricity, many suitors, Aylmer’s wooing, is Aylmer gaslighting Georgiana?, she’s reading, a Medieval heroine, a character of of Greek mythology, is a sex-change story?, is this a boob-job story?, envy, the tips of two small fingers, she’s compared to a marble statue, small pox scars, Marilyn Monroe‘s beauty mark, does positioning matter?, Supernatural Horror And Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, a meditation on obsession, many uninteresting analysis, so little action, beyond the sexual interpretation, Hawthorne doesn’t seem all that prudish, how far can you go in purist of perfection in a fallen world, a mark of original sin, wanting knowledge (of good and evil?), the sin of disobedience, Frankenstein and Aylmer are reading the same books, the process of creating a man in Frankenstein, the lightning bolt, Luigi Galvani, grave-robbing, Paracelsus, the gold thing is your way of getting funding, when writing a grant…, this might lead to a cure for cancer(!), alchemy as a religion, The Cask Of Amontillado, Eric S. Rabkin, “the niter, it grows”, Montresor or Fortunato, niter, growing human shaped things inside of bottles, poisons, psychology and the occult, the difference between alchemy and science is openness, the Royal Society, Harry Potter’s school, there have to be muggles, magically oblivious, J.K. Rowling, natural greed, the ethic of sharing knowledge, France’s version of the Royal Society, like the obsession with “open source” or the “public domain”, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, sooo lifelike, sooo beautifully painted, Gothic horror, the evil mad scientist is destroyed by the power he unleashes, The Portrait Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the ending, what is Hawthorne saying?, was Aylmer’s attempt doomed from the beginning?, Jesse’s mom, one of the most important powers of a teacher, she has “THE VOICE”, Muad’dib (Paul Atredies), Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, a profound revelation, philosophy and critical thinking, vitamins are bullshit, fish oil woke Fred’s brain, North America has the world’s most expensive urine, religion wants you to take it on authority, bronze age holy texts, religion as book club where you only ever read one book (or just listen to a guy who did), cynicism or wisdom, loyalty to the organized religion of your family, inherited religions, fundamentalist belief systems, the narcissism of small differences, splintering, revolting revolutionaries, purity of doctrine, young earth creationists, Catholicism as an almost ethnicity (an identity), Hawthorne as a stopgap between H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley, the murky origins of Science Fiction, Dante, Lucifer frozen in the ice, a Gothic ghost story, Frankenstein’s obsession is with defeating death, too in love with science, Hawthorne’s message is like: “don’t drink too much”, Greek symposia, what really happened at a Greek symposium, “write drunk and edit sober”, The Odyssey, mixing water with wine, getting plastered is a sign on unmanning, the Greek obsession was with finding the moderation between too little and too much, what was Hephzibah’s sin?, her sin is being too worried about sin, “you will eat blood”, public shaming is a little much, be moderate with your casting of sin, John Wesley, a healthy functioning society, wealth corruption, falling into decadence, the protestant work ethic is kicking-in, Guggenheim, ransoming the grandchild, leaving it all to art, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Fred’s all time favourite Science Fiction novel: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, how do we raise the next generation?, a supercharged Kindle, matter compilers, Star Trek‘s replicator, eating green sludge, window panes made out of pure diamond, handmade hipsters, how you raise the next generation in a wealthy society, we are unimaginably wealthy, are Japan’s young people uninterested in sex?, Richard Dawkins on Twitter, The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, Gothic-y, Science-y, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, a great inventor, Neoterics, he’s stealing their ideas, the ultimate mad scientist story, following in the tradition, somatoypes, ectomorph (Aylmer), mesomorph (Aminidab), endomorph (Jesse), it’s a scam!, Hillary Clinton, the Ronald Reagans of the world, this is astrology, people think that once you’ve got a word for something you understand it, wearing the mask long enough…, IQ tests, quantification, any time we think we understand the most complex thing in the universe…, there really is a subconscious, tweeting dreams, psychology, the book club with only one book in it, The Great Courses (The Teaching Company), Eric S. Rabkin, survey courses, kooky specializations, the best way to learn, the perennial student, taught not to learn, philosophy of art, credentialism, Jesse can guess the exact words in a student’s vocabulary, guess your weight or age, how Jesse gets work, gaming credentialism, no high school diploma, a contempt for institutionalized learning, a play-by-the-rules personality, grade inflation, what did Mussolini do?, intimidation vs. cultivation, give the students the experience of reading, reading as a meeting of minds, defending a dissertation, essays, we’re obsessed with essays (for the wrong reason), ohhh spoilers!, the big problem with almost any media, “I don’t want to spoil it for you.”, testing is easier, a kind of objectivity, don’t blame the actors for shitty Hollywood movies, status is society, education as the cultivation of minds, there aren’t enough people who are willing to rebel!

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - modified John Collier's "Laboratory", 1895

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - illustration by Lisa K. Weber

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #240 – READALONG: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #240 – Jesse, Scott, Julie Davis, and Bryan Alexander discuss Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Talked about on today’s show:
The 1818 edition versus the 1831 edition, the half-made up prologue, Leaves Of Grass, are there any body changes?, “the corpus”,’s version with Simon Templeman, Anthony Heald, Stefan Rudnicki, Frankenstein vs. the monster, creature, wretch, demon, insect, incoherent with rage, face to face, moving on, the fainting hero or heroine, swooning, Lovecraftian fainting, cosmic horror, Herbert West: Re-Animator, Young Frankenstein, Cool Air by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James, becoming god, why are we reading a book by a teenager from almost 200 years ago, Edinborough, the broken reader, Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, etymology, Paradise Lost, Gulliver’s Travels, Percy Shelley, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Caliban, The Tempest, Science!, hey I’m killing your family and stuff, Spirits!, Russia, the Arctic, Prospero, Caliban the dogsbody, Sycorax, the pre-science world to the science world, Christopher Marlowe, “I’ll burn my books!”, the education of young Victor, religious swearing, Brian Aldiss, spark, the electrical element, Galvani and the frog’s legs, more chemical (than electrical), the Romantics, the heart of the the book, “the modern Prometheus”, nature, the North Pole, Siberia, Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin, berries and nuts, vegetarianism, the bringing of fire, The Wonderstick (the coming of the bow) “spooky action at a distance”, fire as technology, Eric S. Rabkin, fire -> knowledge -> enlightenment, the blasted oak, the family tree destroyed, this mortal clay, body stealing, Burke and Hare (are a lot of fun), ‘there are some things man was not meant to know’, a motherless monster, Young Frankenstein, what’s so cool about Young Frankenstein is that it solves the problems caused by previous movie adaptations, “Hey there handsome”, is the creature really hideous?, “a very Jewish movie”, “this is a boy that the world will love”, community, Victor had no Igor, Eyegor, or Fritz, well formed, euphemisms, dull yellow eye, proportionate limbs, is he veiny?, black and flowing hear, a pearly whiteness, a feminist novel, a misogynist fantasy, the framing narrative, males behaving badly, Gothic, gender coding, the curse of the Frankensteins, Frau Blücher, the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Frankenstein, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Justine (and the lack of justice she receives), Anne Rice, “I’m never going to sleep again”, the path of evil, Victor had a temper, the abnormal brain (Abbie someone), a “blank slate”, Henry Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein retcons the book and the 1931 movie (and the Hammer movies), Froderick Frankenstein, Boris Karloff, Transylvania Station, The Body Snatcher, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Cat (1934), Bela Lugosi, a movie from a parallel dimension, the perfect romantic character, the “noble savage” and the “blank slate”, flowery language and obfuscation, a baby story, that’s Science Fiction right there, an eight foot baby, how do we detect the world, what is light?, a blind man given sight, sphere vs. pyramid, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, an urbane monster, the ideal syllabus, Mary Shelley is showing the heck off, Paradise Lost, The Sorrows Of Young Werther, suicide, Lives Of The Noble Greeks And Romans by Plutarch, Ruins Of Empires by Constantin-François de Volney, Frankenstein’s lab notes, Safie, the Ottoman Empire, Turkey as a proxy for European society, Olaf Stapledon, the hapless fate of the aboriginals of North America, Shelley’s hanging out with radicals, an anti-American dream, three years after the fall of Napoleon, Lord Byron, dreams, “how are we living with each other?”, Prometheus Unbound, The Last Man, Prometheus should be our hero, Harlan Ellison, Walton, Bryan’s dissertation was on Frankenstein, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, At The Mountain Of Madness, Star Trek, doppelgangers, doubles all the way down, perfectly symmetrical, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, Melmoth The Wanderer by Charles Maturin, The Saragossa Manuscript by Count Jan Potocki, the fire and ice, “in the cottage we are the monster”, lookism, when they see the monster, “as a lion rends the antelope”, Blade Runner‘s ending, all those murders, a child having a temper-tantrum, where you gonna get that wood?, standing on an ice-floe, Dante’s Inferno and the final circle of hell, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Bryan reads Frankenstein every year, teaching Frankenstein in high-school, a perfect ending, is the monster still out there?, Edison’s 1910 film adaptation of Frankenstein (it’s 10 minutes), imagine Tesla adapting Frankenstein, a shameless self-promoter, “Victory Frankenstein fucked with Mother Nature, and She bore him a strong son”, ‘there are some things that man was not meant to know’, Walton wants to find the source of the pole’s magnetism, “it’s not just loving your family – it’s also loving your fellow being”, “if you make a mistake – own up”, Walton learns from the story, Young Frankenstein, it’s an ethics book, mad scientists, a Kennedy son, Moby Dick, C.L.R. James, a ship as a microcosm of society, “I smell readalong!”, Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power by Andrew Nagorski, “the kids loved Uncle ‘Dolf”, “charisma leaking out all over the place”, charisma and beauty, a bear doesn’t understand charisma, real-life parallels, what is the function of Henry Clerval in the book, is he us?, a homoerotic reading, Percy and Bryon go hiking, it’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, World’s End, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth’s provenance and the weird relationship with her cousin/brother/owner Victor, a subterranean psychodrama, Victor’s wild dream in which Elizabeth dies and then turns into his mom, grave worms, a maternal figure and a corpse.

Theodor von Holst - Frankenstein

Frankenstein - illustration (possibly by Ernie Chan)


FRANKENSTEIN - The Bride Of The Monster - illustration by Mike Ploog

FRANKENSTEIN - illustration by Dino Castrillo

These Books Make Me Feel...

LEGOized Frankenstein

Posted by Jesse Willis

Dimension X: The Potters Of Firsk adapted from the story by Jack Vance

February 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Potters Of Firsk - illustration by Edd Cartier

Here’s a hidden gem, a terrific adaptation of a sociological Science Fiction short story by the great Jack Vance! Plus it has materials science!

Dimension XDimension X – The Potters Of Firsk
Adapted from the short story by Jack Vance; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC
Broadcast: July 28, 1950
The native population of Firsk produce pots of every colour under the sun, save one. First published in the May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction.

The Potters Of Firsk - illustration by Edd Cartier

Also check out this beautiful character study by Thomas Perkins:

The Potters Of Firsk illustration by Thomas Perkins

[via Tinkoo Valia’s Variety SF blog]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: The Green Girl by Jack Williamson

August 28, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Forgotten ClassicsThis week’s episode of the Forgotten Classics podcast saw the explosive conclusion of Julie Davis’ reading of the “scientific classic” The Green Girl by Jack Williamson. This short novel was one of our SFFaudio Challenge #5 audiobooks and so now Julie has won a prize (as well as our enduring respect)!

When I added The Green Girl to the challenge Rick Jackson, of Wonder Publishing described it to me as “early sense of wonder SF.” I think that’s right. I guess I knew what that meant, vaguely anyway, but now that I’ve heard it I’d suggest the fantastic events, with their grandeur of scale, are magnificently preposterous. That said, The Green Girl is never quite cartoonish as there is a reverence, if not slavishly accurate reverence, for both science and the value of scientific knowledge. It’s this that distinguishes The Green Girl from many of its contemporary pulps.

WONDER EBOOKS - The Green Girl by Jack WilliamsonThe Green Girl
By Jack Williamson; Read by Julie Davis
5 MP3 Files (Podcast) – Approx. 4 Hours 27 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: August 2011
Melvin Dane has been seeing a vision of a green girl since he was a child. Images of her came over the ether. Is she just fantasy? Or a reality that managed to cross time and space? And now, with the Earth under threat of extinction, will Melvin ever meet that girl of his dreams? With an alien force trying to bring Earth back to the Ice Age, Melvin and his foster father, scientist Sam Walden, embarked on a heroic quest to save their world. Their adventures took them from their sleepy little cottage in the beaches of Florida to the unexplored and totally unexpected world beneath the ocean. First published in the March and April 1930 issues of Amazing Stories. Later collected in 1950 as Avon Fantasy Novel #2.

Chapters 1-8 |MP3|
Chapters 9-16 |MP3|
Chapters 17-24 |MP3|
Chapters 25-29 |MP3|
Chapters 30-32 |MP3|

Podcast feed:

I’d hoped to find a copy of Amazing Stories, March 1930, in which the first half of the novel was serialized, but haven’t found one so far. If you’ve got a copy I’d love to add them below (please email me)! In the meantime, here are three scans from the April 1930 issue:

Amazing Stories April 1930 - Page 60 - The Green Girl by Jack Williamson

Amazing Stories April 1930 - Page 61 - The Green Girl by Jack Williamson

Amazing Stories April 1930 - Page 77 - The Green Girl by Jack Williamson

[Thanks again also to Rick Jackson of Wonder Ebooks where you can find plenty more vintage SF and criminally under-published crime books]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Adventures of Doc Savage

August 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Audio Drama - The Adventures of Doc SavageThe Adventures of Doc Savage
Adapted from novels by Lester Dent
Starring Daniel Chodos as Doc Savage
8 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Published: 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hero / Adventure / Pulp / Audio Drama / Skeletons / Chemistry /

Doc Savage is the strongest, smartest, most resourceful, best-looking guy you’ll ever meet. And he fights crime. Born in pulp magazines in the 1930’s, he’s also the subject of 181 novels, and a movie.

The Adventures of Doc Savage contains 13 half-hour episodes of audio drama that were originally broadcast on NPR in 1985. These episodes tell two complete stories that were adapted from novels written by Lester Dent. “Fear Cay” was published in September 1934 and “The Thousand Headed Man” in July 1934. The scripts were written by Will Murray and Roger Rittner.

Having never read a Doc Savage story, I was interested for historical reasons. I’ve run across these novels regularly over the years, but the pulp hero never caught my reading eye. I’m very happy, though, to have heard these audio dramas. They are very well done. They’re action packed, thoroughly entertaining, and as full of camp as you’d hope.

With the opening of “Fear Cay”, I learned that Doc Savage doesn’t work alone. He’s got a team around him that reminds me of Buckaroo Banzai’s crew. (Now, why was Jeff Goldblum wearing that ridiculous cowboy outfit again?) I now realize that Buckaroo had to have been influenced by Doc Savage. Savage also has a diverse team around him – from physical strength to electronic genius – and there’s nothing they can’t handle.

Still, Doc Savage is the best of them all. He’s not among equals. He can overpower multiple men at once, but he’s just as apt to talk himself out of a situation. And he’s got gadgets and/or chemical formulations for everything else that occurs.

In short, I had a great time listening to these dramas. They’re fun.

Find them over at

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #119

August 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #119 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk to author Paul Malmont about his novel The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, Jack London In Paradise, Hawaii, The Iron Heel by Jack London, the rise of the oligarchy, The Washington Post review of The Astounding, The Amazing, And The Unknown, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, the Philadelphia Experiment, the movie The Philadelphia Experiment, “a psuedo-historical event” vs. “a cultural phenomena”, legend, John W. Campbell, Astounding Science Fiction, Unknown (magazine), Kamikaze pilots vs. the Kamikaze group, L. Sprague de Camp, chemistry, Orange Nehi, the Tunguska event, Nikola Tesla, the Wardenclyffe Tower, historical fiction, meta-science fiction, Walter B. Gibson, Lester Dent, H.P. Lovecraft, the “hero pulps” vs. science fiction pulps, The Shadow, Doc Savage, L. Ron Hubbard as a tragic hero, Dianetics, an atomic age religion, Virginia Heinlein, Janet Asimov, Gertrude Asimov, “The robot felt…”, using social networks to promote a novel, Frank Herbert, Aleutian Islands, the Manhattan Project, Cleve Cartmill and the atomic bomb, The Green Hills Of Earth, Tim Powers, “twenty weird true things”, Murdoch Mysteries, the AC DC wars, remixing modern historical fiction, Iain M. Banks, mash-ups, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril has zombies, the TVO interview with Walter B. Gibson, magic, In Search Of….

Posted by Jesse Willis

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