Audio drama review: Robin Of Sherwood: The Knights Of The Apocalypse by Richard Carpenter

June 28, 2016 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Robin Of Sherwood: The Knights Of The ApocalypseRobin Of Sherwood: The Knights Of The Apocalypse
By Richard Carpenter; Performed by a full cast
2 Hours – CD or Digital Download [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Spiteful Puppet
Published: June 30, 2016

England in the reign of King John and a dark force is intent on conquest. Only the hooded man can stand against it… The church lies impotent at the mercy of the Pope and the interdict against the kingdom. With the people living in fear and a series of disappearances that threaten the very fabric of noble society, Robin ‘i’ the hood and his band of outlaws must race to rescue the past so that the future may be protected. A journey to Huntingdon and beyond Sherwood will see them battle their most dangerous enemy yet as Herne’s son faces The Knights of the Apocalypse…

If you close your eyes you’ll see it – it being a new two part episode of the classic ITV television series Robin Of Sherwood, minus the grainy 16mm film stock. From the opening Clannad theme – you’ll see it all – that brightly lit forest green, those grey stone castles and churches, the flashing swords, the flying arrows. You’ll of course hear them all too.

Early into The Knights Of The Apocalypse we learn that England is suffering under the “Interdict”, a punishment of all of England for King John’s offence of the Catholic Church. This really happened. The titular Knights of the Apocalypse, though fictional, are said to be a breakaway branch of the Knights Templar – and the ultimate historical destruction of the Templars is very effectively retroactively-foreshadowed in this production.

The two hours, in two parts, had me struggling with the heroes, thinking deep thoughts, rallying against the heavy hand of oppression, chuckling at the baddies, laughing with the heroes, worried at what might possibly happen next, then heart-warmed, and ultimately delighted at the lightfooted sweep all the little details added up to. This is an epic as big as The Swords Of Wayland and as revolutionary as Robin Hood And The Sorcerer.

Barnaby Eaton-Jones, the producer, seems to have made it his mission to make The Knights Of The Apocalypse as true to the original show as humanly possible. Soliciting initial funding using an indiegogo campaign, Eaton-Jones paired a script by the now deceased Richard Carpenter, Robin Of Sherwood‘s creator (he also wrote some of the show’s finest episodes), and tracked down every living member of the original cast to this production. The result is truly tremendous! It is amazing to hear the voices of that old cast once again – Mark Ryan (the brooding Saracen swordsman Nasir), Ray Winstone (forever the hot-headed Will Scarlet), Clive Mantle (smiling and gentle Little John), Jason Connery (that noble second incarnation of Robin, the hooded man), curly haired Judi Trott (voicing the summer maid of Sherwood, Marian), Phil Rose (the friendly friar, Tuck), and Peter Llewellyn Williams (Much, the simple miller’s son).

A lot of folks probably think of Alan Rickman as the most iconic Sheriff of Nottingham – he was terrific – but for me the worst (and by that I mean best) Sheriff of Nottingham will always be Nickolas Grace. Grace is back to his old tricks; playing that cowardly cartoon of law, that malefactor of injustice, all the while wonderfully dripping contempt and venom from every sour word. We get Grace in several scenes, including some with his equally contemptible brother, the Abbot Hugo, played wonderfully once again by Philip Jackson. A few of the voices are new, filling in for the deceased Robert Addie (Guy of Gisbourne) and Daniel Abineri (Herne, now played by his son). But we also get some audio drama stars like Colin Baker and Terry Molloy playing guest villains.

The Knights Of The Apocalypse is a magical experience. Its story will satisfy, so much so that it could slip-in right next to that final TV episode that aired June 28, 1986. No, this is not a reboot, not re-imagining, not a rerun – this is a reunification. You’ll be reunited in righteous camaraderie with the merry folk of Sherwood – doing the work that must be done, for the good of the people, and breaking the law as needs must.

In reading some of the other early reviews I think they’ve short-shrifted both the historicity and the timeliness (or maybe the timelessness) of what’s going on in The Knights Of The Apocalypse. This really isn’t just a story about how a cute cult TV show got a little fan service 30 years after the last episode aired. No, this is a story about power, politics, economics, about religion. This is a story about class and class struggle, human virtue and human vice. For who is King John, that off-screen terror, if not the hubristic government the governs for the rich and not for all? Who is the Sheriff of Nottingham if not a cynical functionary enforcing the unjust laws unequally, and for his own gain? And why is it, exactly, that an old folktale about a band of heroes who break the law for the good of the people so very, very resonant exactly 30 years (or approximately 550 years) after they were first told?

Here’s a recent piece of publicity:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City

July 28, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Blumhouse House of NightmaresTHE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: The Haunted City
Edited by Jason Blum; Read by Various
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 14 hours

Themes: / horror / short stories / ghosts / demonic possession / violence / murder /

Publisher summary:

Emmy Award-winning producer Jason Blum has ushered in a new dawn of horror with franchises like Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister. Now he presents THE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: THE HAUNTED CITY, a stunning collection of original, terrifying fiction from a unique cast of master storytellers.   

Contents include:

“Geist” by Les Bohem
“Procedure” by James DeMonaco
“Hellhole” by Christopher Denham
“A Clean White Room” by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
“Novel Fifteen” by Steve Faber
“Eyes” by George Gallo
“1987” by Ethan Hawke
“Donations” by William Joselyn
“The Old Jail” by Sarah Langan
“The Darkish Man” by Nissar Modi
“Meat Maker” by Mark Neveldine
“Dreamland” by Michael Olson
“Valdivia” by Eli Roth
“Golden Hour” by Jeremy Slater
“The Leap” by Dana Stevens
“The Words” by Scott Stewart
“Gentholme” by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Do you enjoy ghost, demon, and gore-lit? If yes, then you’ll enjoy this collection of stories ranging from psychological horror to down and dirty violent bloodletting. I feel this anthology does a nice job at covering the various bases in this subgenre, and for those of you interested in such reading material, I think you’ll enjoy the reading experience.

I’m not averse to reading stories that are violent or haunted by ghosts, but I need good writing. Some of these tales are fine examples of solid craft and storytelling. “A Clean White Room” by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill was a delight in the forward lean immediacy of the story. “Gentholme” by Simon Kurt Unsworth is an excellent story rendered in a pleasing unfolding of character exploration, and while the ending is a little flat, it was a pleasure to read.

Regarding recommendations? Yes, if you are a fan of these types of stories. No, if you are only an occasional horror reader. This is not a good collection to start on. It is a great collection if you’re looking to add to your already substantial horror reading catalog.

Several different narrators collaborate on this audiobook. I couldn’t find a list of the readers, but I think all deliver an outstanding reading. I was impressed with the audio quality.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

LibriVox: The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

If I had to name the one story that’s influenced my reading, and thinking, most in last couple of years I’d name The Horla by Guy de Maupassant. It possesses my mind like a dark and deep tunnel running through my imaginative landscape – if you haven’t heard it yet you should. Below you’ll find my preferred version, but there are more readings, and adaptations HERE – and we did a whole podcast about it, that’s HERE.

One new thing though is this |PDF| which I made from a scan of an issue of Famous Fantastic Mysteries – it features the 1911 George Allan England translation.

LibriVoxThe Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 11, 2009
First published in Gil Blas; Oct 26, 1886.

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #125 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

September 12, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #125 – The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, read by Gregg Margarite (of LibriVox), followed by a discussion of the story – participants include Jesse, Tamahome and Jenny Colvin (of the Reading Envy blog).

Talked about on today’s show:
“c’est magnifique!”, is this Jesse’s favourite story from the 19th century?, H.G. Wells, is The Horla Science Fiction, aliens, ghosts, Guy de Maupassant is crafting our feeling on how the story should be interpreted, Mont Saint-Michel, Ladyhawke, Second Life, Normandy, Paris, France, ghosts, goats with human faces, biblical stories of possessed pigs, metaphor of the wind, the wind as a telekinetic force, invisibility, personal experience vs. faith, succubi, vampires, Jim Moon’s Hypnobobs podcast (reading of The Horla and Dairy Of A Madman), was Guy de Maupassant interested in science?, his prolific output, Sigmund Freud, is this a psychological drama?, the character in the movie vs. the short story, sleep paralysis and depression, is the unnamed protagonist of The Horla bioplar?, syphilis, H.P. Lovecraft, Benjamin Franklin, the character has a Science Fiction attitude (a disposition towards science), a story of possession (like in The Exorcist), glowing eyes, Rouen, “excuse my French”, external confirmation, diagnose yourself, São Paulo, Brazil, The Horla means “the beyond”, what lives beyond the Earth?, Jenny wasn’t thinking aliens at all, creatures from other dimensions, the Predator’s cloaking device, is the horla really Santa Claus?, hypnotism and hypnotists, post-hypnotic suggestion, confabulation, its a quasi-phenomenon, why can’t everyone be hypnotized?, Hamlet, did he burn down his house or did the horla do it?, noir, movies demand the defeat of evil, “Son Of The Horla and Spawn Of The Horla“, science and skepticism, who broke all the drinking glasses?, the Futurama version of a Twilight Zone episode,

“The vulture has eaten the dove, and the wolf has eaten the lamb; the lion has devoured the sharp-horned buffalo, and man has killed the lion with arrow, sword and gun; but the Horla is going to make of man what we have made of the horse and the ox: his chattel, his servant and his food, by the mere exercise of his will. Woe to us.”

Tamahome should read some H.P. Lovecraft, here’s H.P. Lovecraft’s description of The Horla:

“Relating the advent in France of an invisible being who lives on water and milk, sways the minds of others, and seems to be the vanguard of a horde of extra-terrestrial organisms arrived on earth to subjugate and overwhelm mankind, this tense narrative is perhaps without peer in its particular department.”

Lovecraft is using deep time to scare us instead of the supernatural, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, sorry I cant talk right now I’m being digested, Cthulhu’s guest appearance on South Park, the elements, space butterfly,

“We are so weak, so powerless, so ignorant, so small — we who live on this particle of mud which revolves in liquid air.”

a cosmic view, the Carl Sagan view, evil is everywhere, an allegory for science, Frankenstein, “men ought not meddle in affairs normally deemed to women”, the Frankensteinian monster, a warning against science vs. science is our only way of understanding the universe, we have one place to look and that is to science, the propaganda he’s pushing, “there are things we can’t explain”, gentlemen did science back then, Library Of The World’s Best Mystery And Detective Stories on Wikisource, the case of my body being haunted, Edgar Allan Poe, Diary Of A Madman, turn us into batteries, “this is a looking glass”, the main character holding a photograph of himself, foreshadowing, out of body experience, Tama fails the quiz of the lesson earlier, when we don’t know – don’t conclude, we ought not conclude anything from this scene, we are not supposed to know we know the answer, Harvey Keitel’s appearance on Inside the Actor’s Studio, becoming comfortable with the unknown, The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jesse proceeds to recount the entire plot of The Necklace, like a really sad O. Henry story, Somerset Maugham, Henry James, A String Of Beads, “Mais oui.”

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant - illustration by Julian-Damazy

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant - illustration by Julian-Damazy

Posted by Jesse Willis