The SFFaudio Podcast #260 – AUDIOBOOK: The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

April 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #260 – The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Bob Neufeld.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (6 hours 40 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The Hound Of The Baskervilles was first serialized in The Strand Magazine, August 1901 to April 1902.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound Of The Baskervilles by A. Conan Doyle

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

February 11, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The famous and exquisitely wrought novel, The House of the Seven Gables, in which the relentless working out of an ancestral curse is developed with astonishing power against the sinister background of a very ancient Salem house … from this setting came the immortal tale — New England’s greatest contribution to weird literature — and we can feel in an instant the authenticity of the atmosphere presented to us. Stealthy horror and disease lurk within the weather-blackened, moss-crusted, and elm-shadowed walls of the archaic dwelling so vividly displayed, and we grasp the brooding malignity of the place when we read that its builder — old Colonel Pyncheon — snatched the land with peculiar ruthlessness from its original settler, Matthew Maule, whom he condemned to the gallows as a wizard in the year of the panic. Maule died cursing old Pyncheon — “God will give him blood to drink” — and the waters of the old well on the seized land turned bitter. Maule’s carpenter son consented to build the great gabled house for his father’s triumphant enemy, but the old Colonel died strangely on the day of its dedication. Then followed generations of odd vicissitudes, with queer whispers about the dark powers of the Maules, and sometimes terrible ends befalling the Pyncheons.

-H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature

The House Of The Seven Gables

For an upcoming SFFaudio Podcast READALONG of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House Of The Seven Gables I point you towards this unabridged 12 hour 20 minute solo narration by Mark F. Smith:

With novels on LibriVox my preferred file type is M4B (DRM-FREE of course) because they’re natively bookmarkable – but a Zipped MP3 version, and a vanilla podcast feed are also available.

Part 1 |M4B|
Part 2 |M4B|
Part 3 |M4B|

Podcast feed:
https://librivox.org/rss/2961

The House Of The Seven Gables - an 1875 illustration of Clifford Pyncheon by John Dalziel

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Black Heart by Holly Black

June 21, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Black Heart by Holly BlackBlack Heart: The Curse Workers, Book 3
By Holly Black; Narrated By Jesse Eisenberg
6 hrs and 33 mins – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2012
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / FBI / Crime / Curses / Magic /

Girls like her, my grandfather once warned me, girls like her turn into women with eyes like bullet holes and mouths made of knives. They are always restless. They are always hungry. They are bad news. They will drink you down like a shot of whisky. Falling in love with them is like falling down a flight of stairs. What no one told me, with all those warnings, is that even after you’ve fallen, even after you know how painful it is, you’d still get in line to do it again.

That’s Cassel Sharpe for you. He’s stuck on Lila Zacharov and stuck good. It’s a real shame that he’s under duress to work undercover for the FBI and she’s enthusiastically training to take a place in her father’s crime family. If only that were his only problem.

As in the previous two books of the Curse Workers trilogy, where certain individuals are born with the ability to curse others with the touch of a finger, we’re working up to a big con job that will save the day. Meanwhile Cassel is continually attempting to become a better person, a good person, while navigating a gritty maze of gray moral choices.

He’s given plenty of opportunities because his special curse working skill means that everyone wants to use him. Sorting through lures, threats, and blackmail from family, the mob, and the government becomes a way of life and gives author Holly Black plenty of room to weave plots.

Cassel’s mother is held hostage, a long-ago diamond heist must be solved, a fellow student needs help against a blackmailer, the government needs him for a special mission that could end bigotry against curse workers, and his roommate has girl friend problems. And let’s not forget the main attraction, Cassel’s tumultuous relationship with Lila, who now hates him. Yep. It’s all in a day’s work for Cassel Sharpe.

As always, it comes down to an elaborate con which pulls everything together and wraps things up, while managing to stay plausible. Black has the courage to bring her trilogy to a definite end and I applaud her for doing so. The ending is not tidy, but I liked it that way. It managed to be satisfying while simultaneously reflecting the uncertainty of Cassel’s life. And that is quite a feat.

Interestingly, this last book of the trilogy contained a spot where author Holly Black suddenly took a misstep in writing from a male perspective. In a love scene a guy would not be talking about his flat stomach and corded muscles … that’s a girl’s turn on. He’d be talking about her … ahem … various attributes. Black did such a good job the rest to of the time that this rang particularly false and it isn’t a big deal. Just … interesting.

Audio Notes: As with the preceding Curse Worker books, Jesse Eisenberg’s narration is perfect for conveying Cassel’s awkwardness. I particularly enjoy the moments when he portrays other characters through slight alterations which manage to communicate a surprising amount about the people he is voicing. His narration is a big part of my enjoyment of the series. Would I read other Curse Worker books instead of listening to the audio? Probably not. Eisenberg is Cassel and I like it that way.

Posted by Julie D.

Protecting Project Pulp: That Spot by Jack London

April 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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SFFaudio Online Audio

That Spot by Jack London is a 4,000 word story. Not generally considered to be either Fantasy or Science Fiction, it nevertheless borders both. I also think, depending on your mood, it can also be seen either as horror story or a comedy.

Any way you classify it, That Spot is absolutely wonderful.

Jack London had the intellect, experience, disposition, hunger, and temperament of ten men (or at least one very queer dog).

That Spot by Jack London

Protecting Project PulpProtecting Project Pulp No. 39 – That Spot
By Jack London; Read by Steven Howell
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Protecting Project Pulp
Podcast: April 8, 2013
Two Americans in the Yukon purchase a strange dog for a song, and it haunts them for the rest of their days. First published in Sunset Magazine, February 1908.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Ash Tree by M.R. James

August 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“If any of [my stories] succeed in causing their readers to feel pleasantly uncomfortable when walking along a solitary road at nightfall, or sitting over a dying fire in the small hours, my purpose in writing them will have been attained.” – M.R. James

The Ash Tree - illustration by George Chastain (from Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, December 1981)

I’m just beginning to get into M.R. James so I’m not sure quite what to make of his stories yet. To me The Ash Tree felt restrained, subtle, and it was “pleasantly uncomfortable” to be sure – but is that enough?

I haven’t hit a story of his that has grabbed me the way Guy de Mapassaunt’s The Horla has or the way William Hope Hodgson’s The Voice In The Night has.

Maybe ghost stories just need to have something other than haunting to draw me in.

LibriVoxThe Ash Tree
By M.R. James; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: June 7th, 2006
A damp Suffolk house, with a curious ash tree growing close to it, may have been cursed by a woman once executed for witchcraft. First published in Ghost Stories Of An Antiquary, 1904.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Red Glove by Holly Black

July 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Red Glove by Holly BlackRed Glove: The Curse Workers, Book 2
By Holly Black; Read by Jesse Eisenberg
7 Hours, 5 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2011
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Con men / Curses / Magic / Boarding school /

A review by Julie D.

Red Glove is the second book in Holly Black’s Curse Workers series, the first of which was White Cat. |SFFaudio Review|

As the book begins, we get more of a feel for the insecure world in which Cassel grew up. It is the end of summer vacation and he’s living with his mother in Atlantic City, drifting from hotel to hotel, helping her con a series of wealthy gentleman friends for support. It is an anxiety-filled existence, with the potential for exploding violence at any moment.

When his senior year at boarding school begins, Cassel is glad to reenter the familiar environment. That is derailed when Lila, the girl he loves but must avoid, begins school there as well. Inevitably, it seems, she becomes one of his circle of friends and the angst of seeing the girl he cannot have is constantly on his mind.

Just a few days into the school year, Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered and the Feds try to recruit him to help solve that case and investigate a possibly related string of unsolved murders. The only clue is video footage of a woman wearing red gloves but whose face cannot be seen. They also want Cassel to become an informant on the Zacharov crime family, with which his own family has long been aligned. Complicating matters, the Zacharov’s also want to recruit Cassel to use his transformation powers on their behalf. As if that weren’t pressure enough, the state government is heightening efforts to test everyone to identify curse workers.

As Cassel attempts to untangle the web of lies in which he finds himself, he must resort to a big con to both discover the truth and solve his problems about who he will work with. Naturally this is great fun and there are many plot twists and cliff-hangers along the way in the story which make it somewhat addictive listening. Only the final twist of the book was fairly predictable. However, it is fairly unimportant to the book overall as it serves to act as the bridge to carry the reader forward into the next book of the series.

Red Glove conveys more of the feel of Cassel’s age since much of the action takes place around classes or with school pals. However, as in White Cat, the key issues are still those of trust, betrayal, friendship, identity, truth, and true love, all on a higher level than the ordinary book set among this age group.

As in the first book, Cassel walks a tightrope between right and wrong in his world of gray ethics. However, the fact that he now has some close friends allows us to see him opening up to others and extending himself in their time of need. He will use his con skills when needed but is taking increasing chances by telling the truth to those around him. This allows for personal growth that makes his choices harder much of the time, but which we can see slowly building to a way out of the crime-filled, worker world he has always inhabited.

Black does us the great favor of not worrying much about back story or lengthy flashbacks. She will add a sentence or two when the stories overlap to be sure the reader is oriented and then moves on. This kept the story moving at a fairly brisk pace, although it did bog down a bit in the middle when Cassel goes hunting for who set up a particular murder victim.

As before, Jesse Eisenberg narrated the book with great skill, conveying Cassel’s emotions as the awkward high school senior longing for normalcy. Usually he would simply alter his voice a bit to portray other characters but occasionally would use accents to great effect, as in his portrayal of the head of the Zacharov family.

Red Glove is not as fresh and sparkling as White Cat, but it is a worthy successor. I definitely enjoyed it and am considering getting the print version for rereading. Recommended.

Posted by Julie D.

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