The SFFaudio Podcast #424 – READALONG: Dracula by Bram Stoker

June 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #424 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Julie discuss Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Talked about on today’s show:
Straight waistcoats, the audiobook, the Leslie S. Klinger annotated Dracula, Dracula (1931), Bela Lugosi, The Horror Of Dracula (1958), the 1977 BBC miniseries Count Dracula, the Richard Matheson’s scripted Dracula (1973), Jack Palance and one armed push ups, the 1979 Frank Langella Dracula, the Bram’s Stoker’s Dracula (1992), “whoa Dracula, cool castle!”, Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995), Love At First Bite (1979), George Hamilton, faithfulness, the Big Finish 4 hour audio drama of Dracula, Mark Gattis, Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula comic, how big a deal Dracula is, Frankenstein, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the Twilight series, Lifeforce, the Mercury Theater – Orson Welles version, Zoltan: The Hound Of Dracula (1978), Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett, a modern vampire family, religion and symbols, don’t judge Paul, reincarnation romance, Mina is the reincarnation of Dracula’s wife, why do we need this reincarnation, The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross, an alien elven princess, an alien parasite, blood, fantasy science, Queen Of The Damned, Anne Rice, dominating vampires, collapsing or eliminating characters, illuminating and confusing, most interesting characters, Dracula’s dairy, The Dracula Tapes by Fred Saberhagen, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, Renfield, Eric S. Rabkin, Harker as a mirror to Renfield, locked in a castle, eat this bird, hours of talking (no partaking), write letters, I’ve read all your letters, observing eating, Doctor Seward, gas-lighting, why is Renfield the way he is?, Dracula’s Guest, what contacts did Renfield have with Dracula?, the insane asylum, explaining to us what’s really going on, a Socratic question, why is Dracula interested in going to England in the 1890s?, Empire?, evolution, Van Helsing’s speeches, he’s a child, Kenneth Hite, MI5, the unredacted Dracula files, in the role playing setting, Dracula fought the Turks, Dracula was invited to England, The Great Game, the Hypnogoria podcast, wordless Dracula, once you go vampire you’re a feral beast, London, Corey Olsen’s Dracula at Mythgard Academy, Lucy is more sensitive, Renfield was open to the Count, other methods, “the blood is the life”, the Scooby gang, Renfield fighting Dracula, Mina, adaptors don’t know what to do with Renfield, Renfield never gets deleted, Renfield’s role, I wonder why they put that in there?, Renfield as a policeman in Whitechapel?, a little weirder, Renfield as transgender, Dracula likes sucking on women, breaking Renfield (instead of sucking his blood), if it isn’t just all about sex, more vitality, another reading, books about Dracula, Renfield as a John the Baptist character (a Harker or a herald), moving up the food chain, the Hammer movies, Dracula as a satanic figure, a most ancient vampire, the secret origin of Dracula in Chapter 18, many dealings with the evil one, an evil Hogwarts, the 10th student of the Devil, deconsecrating, Kim Newman, invasion literature, what if the Germans won WWI or WWII?, The Battle Of Dorking, a more subtle invasion, Lucy as Helen of Troy, multiple suitors who represent different classes and kinds of Englishness, Van Helsing as a kind of suitor, Carfax Abbey as Troy, everybody who meets her loves her, Lucy Westernra, light of the west?, the stealing and breaking of a marriage, West vs. Wast, good vs. evil, you can’t avoid the religion, Dracula as an inversion of Jesus Christ, selfishness vs. unselfishness, a sanguine temperament, banding together, resonating with humanity, the Lyceum theatre, a Greek temple, the guest host relationship, enter of your own free will, invitations, Dracula locks you in, Polyphemus, almost a French farce, obsessing over housebreaking, covering their asses in London, breaking the hinges off the door, why the gypsies are the bad guys, The Curse Of Strahd (Ravenloft), Romania, Transylvania, the Borga Pass, the two fingered salute, the evil eye, the heavy metal devil sign, extra garlic, Mina’s dairy, very superstitious = wisdom, recipes, comparing Dracula to Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, long council sessions, here’s what we know, coming out in the daylight, True Blood, burying those who will become vampires, Dracula has a dream, I never drink … wine, “it’s good!”, walking in daylight, why does Dracula go to the zoo?, the zookeeper and Dracula conversation, a symbolic element, the old sailor in the seaside cemetery, so much going on, extending life, immorality in the body vs. the soul, the tombstones, the lies, dragging the tombstones to Saint Peter, The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, he’s everybody, why is Dracula’s house empty?, the wiggling bag (with baby in), the lights on Walpurgisnacht, Halloween, the will-o’-the-wisp, the flickering corpse lights, gathering up local caches of gold, served by cows, chickens, and pigs, gothy junkies, he doesn’t have to dine on everybody he meets, tools, more discriminating about what you eat, the shaving glass, nobody wants to eat Renfield, what H.P. Lovecraft took from Dracula, The Call Of Cthulhu, if I was Dracula, 50 boxes, holy earth vs. unholy earth, a perversion, the question of Dracula cooking, looking at a beautiful girl, the Bloofer Lady, Jesse’s theory as to the meaning of “bloofer”, nobody has jobs, presuming beautiful as the meaning vs. having blue fur, bat and gas, a wolf and a werewolf, blue fur lady, the kids are very free-range, cockney urchin speak, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, one really interesting thing, Dracula’s Brides (or Wives), breaking the rules, the novel is about marriage, Lucy talks about her suitors, I wish I could have more than one husband, psychology, the sexuality of Dracula, Lucy’s bedroom visitors are her suitors, she loves them all, Harker’s photo of Mina or Lucy and Mina, why Dracula focuses on them, a weird relationship between the four suitors, Quincey Morris, Pampas, vampire bats, vaquero, world adventurer, Doctor Seward, Lord Holmwood, Abraham Van Helsing, intravenous bodily fluids, candle spills sperm,

Van Helsing went about his work systematically. Holding his candle so
that he could read the coffin plates, and so holding it that the sperm
dropped in white patches which congealed as they touched the metal, he
made assurance of Lucy’s coffin. Another search in his bag, and he took
out a turnscrew.

non-sexual connotation, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, sounding like Eric S. Rabkin, seeing sex in everything, it’s weird, Mina’s child gets the name of all the men, their all the father of that baby, everybody knows that Dracula is all about the sexiness, all of the repression, literally stated in the diaries, this is the way I can get everybody, the perversion of the feeding, reading backward, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, how things become popular, how repressed the Victorians weren’t, a golden age of brothels and hookers, crimes against children, Stoker’s breaking a prime taboo in fiction, killing children, a comics adaptation, sexually charged scenes, Jesse completely disagrees, a technological novelty, a hysterical fit, we’re all married to her, an aura, investing it with something backwards, Paul watches the ping pong match, with modern eyes and sensibility, could they have used electric lanterns, even if it wasn’t intended, what does our Dr. Van Helsing say?, the coffin as another bed, a deliberate mirror of earlier scenes, stakes as totemic items, destroying the body so it ain’t gonna get up again, ultraviolence, garlic as an anti-septic, the staking of Lucy, a dark mirror, very nicely negotiated, reading differently, killing Lucy to save her soul, how good Mina is, the look of peace on Dracula’s face, he was a great, good, and wise man, restoring Dracula, giving the novel a closure, a sequel by Stoker’s great grand kid, our adventurers, how do we resurrect Dracula?, all the symetry that we like, the three brides and the three suitors, so meta, epistolary elements, a found footage book, Fangland by John Marks, how great this typewriter is, The Hawkins Papers, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society props, the writing, transcribing the wax cylinder, S. by Doug Dorst (J.J. Abrams), watching Dracula at the gym, it has legs, like The Lord Of The Rings, when you think vampire you think Dracula, what if Dracula doesn’t exist, a lot of insanity, a conniption, disease, marriage, insanity, a mundane book without Dracula, hysteria, secrets, Seward and Dracula and Harker, she has the brain of a man, Jim is brooding, invisibility, Nosferatu, shadow, mirrors, we don’t have reflections because we don’t have souls, vampires leaving the grave, a fat beached leech, more Dead And Loving It, ruder shadow, Van Helsing (2004), movie direction-style descriptions, a surprisingly modern novel, set slightly in the future, a Science Fiction novel?, audio notes, new theories, Kate Reed, the Dracula tv series, the Victorians (a mass of contradictions), Inventing The Victorians by Matthew Sweet.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (1931) Grosset And Dunlap
Scholastic Books - DRACULA by Bram Stoker

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #415 – READALONG: Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

April 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #415 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa, and Jenny Colvin discuss Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler

Talked about on today’s show:
Asimov’s Science Fiction, Mid-December 1983, longer forms, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, the Patternist novels, the scene on the bus, Parable Of The Sower, Parable Of The Talents, Kindred, Sisters Of The Revolution, The Evening And The Morning And the Night, disease, bio Science Fiction, the virology labs, Xenogenesis trilogy, aliens, breeding humans, public transportation science fiction stories, Philip K. Dick, Los Angeles, The Commuter, Ray Bradbury, The Pedestrian, interacting with the public, The Chrysalids, The Day Of The Triffids, The Walking Dead, how this world got to be how it is, slowly interrogate, her central thesis: civilization = communication, how does the bus driver get paid?, what percentage of the population died?, a normal route, one guy is the bus system, how does Obsidian get paid?, paid in sex?, post-apocalypse reveling Jenny, the creepy smelly wordless cult leader, how many women could speak?, right handed men, feminism, creepy men creeping on women, play dumb and pack a gun, our zombies are different, unique special snowflake zombies, body language, was it the Soviets?, you think you’re better than me?, a perfect nightmare of Hell, the law of the jungle, Obsidian is mentally impaired, if there ever was going to be a TV adaptation they’d call it “The Silence”, au contraire, standing spear-carrier, a swapped languages Vietnam War movie [subsequent research turns up no evidence that this film exists], everyone else is an alien to everbody else in this world, romance as opposed to SF, not certain of her own impairment, memory, they just needed audiobooks, jibber-jabber speech sounds, it just meant nothing, dah dah dah, could you still speak?, when the deaf speak, if you can’t speak can you understand your own thoughts, strokes, aphasia, communication by singing, Oliver Sacks, the afterword, visiting her dying friend, popular science of the 1980s, a science fiction epidemic, being a lefty or a righty, the rage, so primal, primal instincts, you’re all hairless chimpanzees, pre-human, the one element of humanity is your name, book-cart or book-truck, books as fuel, cake or oven, a teacher and protector, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, it was language that turned her around, savouring the words, society in general, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Iron Heel not the Iron Fist, limited intellect and language, the Red Death, life before the plague, the breakdown of society, pandemics empowering the lower classes, a liberation from the burden of history, chauffeur, taking on a harem, reconstructing the low being brought up, The Walking Dead, scavenging silently, a Garden Of Eden, so messy, blow it up and start fresh, divine retribution, like the Tower of Babel, bulldoze 2017 and start again, the toddlers are immune, the story is unfinished and we have to finish it for ourselves, the Rosetta Stone, deciphering Linear B (the language of the Minoans), how important illustrations are, Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs, The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by , talking to other book people, Reading Envy isn’t Reading Rage, transcribing music without the western music notation system, what happens next?, the music analogy, a hopeful story, a hopeful ending, book people are focused on the reading, burned abandoned buildings, sex in public, highly depopulated, women seeking protectors, maybe he’d meet someone else, sadness, if this was a TV show, how would deaf people be affected?, isn’t sign-language simply another language, H.G. Wells’ The Kingdom Of The Blind, is the gesturing center the same as the speech center?, fMRI, Letters To [Octavia] Butler, Letters To Triptree, bias and prejudice, how can people think like this?, using words in ways they can’t be used, using words as gestures, Twitter as the aggressive gesture, big ideas in a short space, a conspiracy that’s happening (long names on Twitter), seeing metaphors everywhere.

Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)

Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself

At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.

a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,

Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.

It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.

That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.

poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,

“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Scarlet Plague by Jack London

October 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

DREAMSCAPE AUDIOBOOKS - The Scarlet Plague by Jack LondonThe Scarlet Plague
By Jack London; Read by Drew Ariana
Approx. 2 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dreamscape Audio
Published: August 20, 2013
Themes: / Science Fiction / San Francisco / Plague / Post-Apocalypse / Disease / Philosophy / Politics / Class Conflict /

The year is 2013 and plague has struck. Not a wannabe killer like SARS or the Spanish flu, but a tsunami type devastation that swallows every living thing, check that, every person, in its path. Its nickname is the red death because at its arrival the first thing that happens to the infected person is they start sporting a red face – like a beacon for everyone else around them to – RUN. The next thing that happens is they die. Well a little more goes on in between, numb feet, numb hands, a heart so numb it stops. All within an hour, or a few hours if the person is lucky/unlucky enough to have it drag out that long. Then for fun what’s left of the numbed, red faced, ex-person, immediately starts decomposing, falling apart before the eyes of anyone still around to witness it, practically shooting decomposing germs into the air like a plant shooting its spores. There are two classes of people, the ultra rich and everyone else. As the ultra rich jump into their airships to get as far away as possible, they just carry death with them – first class. Everyone else simply falls down and dies where they are. The devastation’s full name is Scarlet Plague. Sixty years into the future when the very few last contenders of what was once the mighty human race hear tell about it, they can’t even decipher what scarlet means because language (like life) has degraded to the point of only holding on to what’s necessary. Scarlet is red. Counting only needs to go as high a ten. The squiggles on money and books are meaningless, but that’s of no consequence because neither books nor money are in use anyway. Apologies, I’m getting ahead of myself. About 160 years ahead.

The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, published in 1912 is about the plague that will strike 100 years from his time, told from a perspective 60 years hence by the last man alive who’s ever seen an airship or read a book. 2013, a hundred years into the future for Jack London, is today and yesterday, this week. Hearing this story now, is like what it was to read (or re-read) 1984 in 1984. Sort of surreal. Interestingly 1984 is a year that was mentioned in the story of the plague. Did George Orwell choose that year with a tip of his hat? Probably. I’ve heard George was a fan.

Back to Jack. What did he get right? What did he miss? Commercial airships? Instant wireless communication? Check, check. About 8 billion people planet wide? Check. The ultra rich and everyone else, hmmm, not that far off the mark, probably pretty close considering he was most likely exaggerating a little to make a point. The work didn’t actually feel like science fiction, it felt contemporary, the section that describes this part of the century anyway. Like his projection to 2073 started from here, not from a century ago. Because the today part of the story is so right, it makes the rest of the story worse.

Not worse as in it’s a bad story. It’s an excellent, superbly imagined, tangible story. Worse in regards to how Mr. London judged the human condition. 60 years from now, 160 years from when the book was written, James Howard Smith or Grandsir, is telling his three grandsons the story of the plague. A story that was in great demand 20 or 30 years before, is quickly becoming lost – now of passing interest to two of the boys, and of real interest to only one. For one thing Grandsir’s sentences are way too complicated, especially when he goes off into his memories and starts speaking as he used to do when he was professor of English literature at Stanford. Speech has become staccato and minimalist, the niceties of language having died off with everyone that had time for that sort of thing. The other problem is the things Grandsir talks about make no sense to the boys. Cities, cars travelling by air, exchanging things with money, wasting time with written markings, all of it is so outside of what the boys know it might as well be make believe. The ramblings of a deranged, lost, old mind. With an estimated world population of less than 500, life has become a question of survival. If you want to eat then you have to go out and kill yourself some dinner. Grandsir calls his grandsons savages. When he was a boy (one of his constant refrains) there were those who gathered food and those who ordered its gathering. His progeny has been reduced to food gatherers. Interestingly Grandsir’s still got them gathering food for him. Old habits die hard I guess.

So why was this professor of classical literature spared to help re-forge humanity? No reason. One in every few million just didn’t get red faced. Maybe death momentarily blinked as it passed them by or got distracted by the particularly amusing scene of the mountains of bodies piling up at its feet. A couple of feeble minded, the very richest most splendid woman in America, a violent, vile, wife beating chauffer who made himself her husband, our friend the professor – just a few random cards in the deck. Life’s like that. You build your magnificent cities, you spend your time creating art and pondering the great questions, and life responds by carelessly wiping itself out. Careless in that it doesn’t quite finish the job. But no matter, because life will make its way forward again.

And now we come to the worst part of the story. It’s not the plague and what happens in the aftermath. The author makes it clear that ultimately, in the long run, humanity will rally back. They’ll rebuild and create again. The worst part is what Mr. Jack London sees after that.

Drew Ariana who read the story in this recording did a good job. My only issue was the character voice he assumed for Grandsir. I didn’t have a problem with the voice, the problem was, so much of the story was told using this voice it became a little distracting. Otherwise, an easy, pleasant listen.

By the end of the book, awash in dystopia, I was seeing a little red. Too delightful not to share, here’s a little red (or Scarlet) for you. “All man’s toil upon the planet was just so much foam. He domesticated the serviceable animals, destroyed the hostile ones, and cleared the land of its hostile vegetation and then he passed and the primordial flood of hostile life rolled back again, sweeping his handy work away.”

Posted by Maissa Bessada

The SFFaudio Podcast #178 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

September 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #178 – An unabridged reading of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (32 minutes, read for LibriVox by Michelle Sullivan) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny Colvin, and Julie Hoverson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman vs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson, wall-paper vs. wallpaper, a seminal work of feminist fiction, a ghost story, a psychological horror story, the Wikipedia entry for The Yellow Wallpaper, Alan Ryan, “quite apart from its origins [it] is one of the finest, and strongest, tales of horror ever written. It may be a ghost story. Worse yet, it may not.” postpartum depression, “the rest cure”, phosphates vs. phosphites, condescending husbands, infantilization of women, superstitions, is she dangerous?, is she only pretending to go insane or is she actually mad?, will reading The Yellow Wallpaper drive you to insanity?, an androcentric society, Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, Life by Emily Dickinson

MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Jenny is the husband’s sister (or mistress?), “gymnasium or prison, she doesn’t know she’s living in a short story”, does the family think she’s crazy a the story’s start?, biting the bed is a bit suspicious, barred windows, suicide, has she forgotten that she’s the wrecked the wallpaper to begin with, a haunted house vs. a haunted woman, is the supernatural only within minds?, Julie goes crazy without something to read, first time motherhood can be a struggle, duplicity, crazy people are known to make unreasonable requests, “why is the cork on the fork?”, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, what’s the rope for?, “all persons need work”, counting the holes, are women moral by default?, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, utopia, “everything is both beautiful and practical”, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution (prohibition), the husband faints (and so she wins?), creeping vs. crawling, the creepiest ending, smooch vs. smudge, neurasthenia, William James (brother of Henry James), “Americanitis”, the fashion of being sick, hypochondria as a fad, the “fresh air” movement, Kellogg’s cereal 9and other patented medicines), a yogurt colonic, mental illness is shameful in Asia, mental illness vs. oppression, an absolutely unreliable narrator, Stockholm syndrome style thinking, “You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well under way in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you.” worrying a tooth, tooth loss as an adult is horrific, as a kid it’s fun, why are we rewarded by the tooth-fairy?, is the tooth-fairy universal?, was chronic fatigue syndrome a fad?, fame is popular, Münchausen’s syndrome (the disease of faking a disease), take up a hobby!, distinguishing genuine from real, syndrome (symptoms that occur together) vs. disease (dis-ease), “which is worse…”, how to look at doctors, Tam’s doctor is nicer than House, M.D., witch doctors, non-invasive cures, gallium, Vitamin C, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Julie Hoverson’s reading of The Yellow Wallpaper, the unnamed narrator (let’s call her Julie), “what’s with the plantain leaf?”, a modern version of The Yellow Wallpaper would be set at fat camp (is that The Biggest Loser), starts off, Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews, arsenic doughnuts (are not Münchausen syndrome by proxy), The Awakening by Kate Chopin, civilizing influence, bathing!, “men know what side their sex is buttered on”, In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl, Changeling (screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski), what is your Yellow Wallpaper?, fiction is Jesse’s wallpaper, ‘tv, videogames, comics … none of these make you crazy’, heroin chic, Julie has many yellow papers, Tam’s yellow wallpaper is the bookstore, Sebastian Junger vs. J.G. Ballard, 1920s, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, posing gowns, identical wigs, Jenny’s yellow wallpaper is dreams, The Evil Clergyman (aka The Wicked Clergyman) by H.P. Lovecraft, nice wallpaper, authorial self-interpretations, Eric S. Rabkin, re-reading as an adult something you read as a kid, The Prince Of Morning Bells by Nancy Kress, The Portrait Of A Lady by Henry James, The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, old time radio comedies, should you read fiction from the beginning? Start with Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer?, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Jonathan Swift, Peter F. Hamilton, E.E. ‘doc’ Smith, Mastermind Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Ad for The Yellow Wall Paper from 1910

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - illustration by J.K. Potter

Sebastian Junger vs. J.G.  Ballard

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, And The Birth Of Europe by William Rosen

April 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

William Rosen’s appearance on The Daily Show with John Stewart, a couple of years ago, prompted me to pick up his audiobook The Most Powerful Idea In The World. It’s a terrific book, and a very solid audiobook (with Michael Prichard narrating). It delivered a concise, impressively researched and argued, history of the industrial revolution’s engine and it’s causes. I highly recommend that book (also available from Tantor). But what I hadn’t realized was that Rosen had already penned a book on another fascinating historical period.

Sample |MP3|

Tantor Media - Justinian's Flea: The First Great Plague And The Fall Of The Roman Empire by William Rosen

Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, And The Birth Of Europe
By William Rosen; Read by Barrett Whitener
MP3 Download – Approx. 11 Hours 51 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Media
Published: May 22, 2007
The Emperor Justinian reunified Rome’s fractured empire by defeating the Goths and Vandals who had separated Italy, Spain, and North Africa from imperial rule. At his capital in Constantinople, he built the world’s most beautiful building, married its most powerful empress, and wrote its most enduring legal code, seemingly restoring Rome’s fortunes for the next 500 years. Then, in the summer of 542, he encountered a flea. The ensuing outbreak of bubonic plague killed 5,000 people a day in Constantinople and nearly killed Justinian himself.Weaving together evolutionary microbiology, economics, military strategy, ecology, and ancient and modern medicine, William Rosen offers a sweeping narrative of one of the great hinge moments in history, one that will appeal to readers of John Kelly’s The Great Mortality, John Barry’s The Great Influenza, and Jared Diamond’s Collapse.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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