The SFFaudio Podcast #426 – READALONG: A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #426 -Jesse and Juliane Kunzendorf talk about A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Talked about on today’s show:
1960, is it true that Peter S. Beagle wrote A Fine And Private Place when he was 19?, Mary Shelley, Mr Rebek has been in the graveyard for 19 years, self-aware, unforeseen circumstances, November 2016, lightweight material, subtext, it’s not deep, on the nose, a bit long?, novel length for a novella idea, a raven here, a lady doing her shopping, a time capsule, 1960-ish, darn interesting, how New York was, a social study, science fiction and werewolves, a light touch fantasy, pretty effective, 272 pages, six to eight hours, narrated by Peter S. Beagle himself, a calm voice, a pleasant listen, more better work, a special and distinct voice, kind of amazing, it feels super-old, wise, philosophical about death and how to live, how do you get to this?, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, one of Jesse’s favourites, nobody cared, Jesse’s theory as to what is going on in The Raven and how it relates to this story, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, a metaphysical poem, start to kissing, rhyming with the comeuppance, but none do there embrace, reading poems aloud, forced rhymes,

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

sweet!, come on baby!, 1681, a tutor to a rich man’s daughter, post-mortem publication, The Twilight Zone, World Enough And Time, inspired, amorous birds of prey, iron gates of life, chaste love, Jonathan and Mrs. Clapper, finding another person to be with, all during WWII, an interesting backstory, reading books, washing his clothes in the bathroom sink at night, is it all in his head?, is he just a crazy homeless man?, fitting the facts, dirty and smelly, well groomed, disheveled, shaving, grooming, what are we to make of Mrs. Clapper falling in love with not the greatest catch ever?, her (dead) husband, tickles a sense of adventure, I’m not your husband, the rain-jacket, museum visitor than stay-at-home, the store scene, the Stillman family, when are you getting married?, she’s trapped in her role, her place in society, her apartment, the social environment of the 1960s, widowhood, when are you going to Florida?, other options, how she’s going to be buried, Mr. Rebek’s prison, an incomplete explanation, acting as a witch-doctor, love-potions, the scarred up boxer, making a love-potion, it’ll just make her receptive, when the love-potion works…, a weak character, he plays along, whiter teeth, his girlfriend died and he can’t get over her, he’s fleeing from the world and responsibility, in a time loop, frozen in time, just being, going on vacation is not a life, more of the same, his icy tomb, other stories like this, Beatrice in Dante’s Paradise, Orpheus and Eurydice, Odysseus, is Mr. Rebek going to move in with Mrs. Clapper?, living together, wearing her husband’s old clothes?, his room, they have to find a new apartment, from the Goodwill (but actually from her), she’s trying to replace her dead husband, marriage, domains, the boss, the nameless raven, Elijah, a squirrel with a wife, more raven, a couple of rules, how ghosts act and animals can talk, the ghosts, subversion, that’s what ravens do, the nightwatchman, alcohol, Spanish singing, sung as it should have been sung, another reflection of the raven, a psychopomp, Charon, the ferryman, Anubis, Pluto, deep in every religion, a man alive in the place of the dead, you’re a terrible guard, a passenger stuck on the barge to the underworld, not dead, not alive, seeing the dead, Mrs. Clapper can’t see the dead, an idea working below the surface, a lazy slow river journey, a slowboat to hades, Michael, I don’t want your nepenthe, Laura, more friends than anything else, a seagull lost in Iowa, seeing a bird, what is the metaphor there?, heavy with metaphors, things underlying, Juliane has time, listening to the sound of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, certain sad uncertain rustling, a story of madness, Jesse’s theory but first the poem itself, Beagle must have been familiar with The Raven, books: “many a quaint and curious volume”, not nameless, wrought as a homophone for rot, a ghost of flame, morrow and marrow, surcease of sorrow, ending sorrow by reading, distraction, “to still the beating of [his] heart,” December, at night, midnight, “once”, Charles Dickens, big on ghosts, Into That Darkness Peering a collection of Poe narrated by Wayne June, what is he dreaming about?, suicide, what’s behind suicide, teasing, the passive voice, Guy de Maupassant, premature burial, Japanese or Korean ghosts, a real creepy ghost story, back from the dead, “chamber” not house, a lattice, panes and shutters, curtains, a shade, purple as the royal colour, layers, why is his soul burning?, slight variations, eyelids as shutters, “perched upon a bust of Pallas”, Athena, why Pallas?, palace, there were two goddesses, Pallas was eaten by Athena, distance away from Athena, perched above wisdom, “though thy crest be shorn and shaven”, Sampson, you can’t shave a raven, you can pluck a raven, crest, no fur nor hair nor feather’s on it’s head, that’s a different bird, it’s a condor aka a buzzard aka a carrion eater aka a vulture, why vultures head’s are are shaven, mistaking the bird, his perception of it as a raven is odd, why doesn’t anybody comment on this?, Athena’s helmet has a Raven on it, when you make a drawing you have to choose, in a poem we can have it both ways, a comparison to a vulture, craven as lustful, vultures don’t look young, he’s having it both ways, a much scarier story, a fire theme, ungainly = ungraceful, a talking raven, nesting ravens, does the Raven always tell the truth?, “fiery eyes” burning, Gustave Doré, a ray of light, fire and light, censer, seraphim, nepenthe again, always subverting, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, desert land, balm in Gilead, skin soothing stuff, radiant, “still is sitting, still is sitting”, how can the shadow throw from the lamp stream over?, “my soul from out that shadow”, he burned his house down and he’s a ghost, the perfume of smoke, a room (not a house), Mr. Rebek’s house is a tomb, a man without a Lenore, eh, what are you going to do?, ravens in Greek mythology, Apollo, why all ravens are black today, creator god, the Ravens in the Tower of London, Mabel and Grip, trickster god, ravens stealing food, experiments with crow communication, sharing information, Jesse’s crow friend, zebras, lions making a plan, he cried like a baby, a reading raven, a gentle fantasy, the social structure, Michael and Laura, suicide or murder?, a prison of his own making, the prison of her own head, a golden cage, a satisfactory book, Mr. Rebek is 53, Mrs. Clapper is a little older (maybe), children are really absent, what’s real and what’s just in his head?, the nightwatchman is the sanest of all of them, so little evidence for insanity, very little below the surface, The Last Unicorn film adaptation, thematic connections, the death theme, The Innkeeper’s Song, five novels, We Never Talk About My Brother, funerals, death of child, hanging out in graveyards, pillars that didn’t support anything, the symbology of graveyards, a broken column indicates a life cut short, burial vs. cremation, a line between life and death, formalized words, affective, more philosophical, working as a mortician, Six Feet Under, a good book and pretty impressive, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (and the comic book adaptation), similarities, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a boy raised by ghosts, Tarzan, raised by animals, Tantor the elephant, Nobody Owens aka Bod, subtle illustrations, the babysitter characters, reading with students, tweeting Neil Gaiman, a signed poster, monster characters, Coraline, Tim Burton, thanatophilic, a weird relationship with death, if you’re dead you’re just gone, exactly like before you were born, we’re all just living in our heads.

BALLANTINE - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
IDW - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #070 – Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

June 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #070

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Miss Brill by Katherine Mansfield

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Miss Brill was first published in Athenaeum, November 26, 1920.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Assassin’s Fate (The Fitz and the Fool, #3) by Robin Hobb

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Penguin Random House - Assassin's Fate by Robin HobbAssassin’s Fate (The Fitz and the Fool, #3)
By Robin Hobb; read by Elliot Hill
Digital Download – 39 hours, 15 minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Published: May 9, 2017

More than twenty years ago, the first epic fantasy novel featuring FitzChivalry Farseer and his mysterious, often maddening friend the Fool struck like a bolt of brilliant lightning. Now New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb brings to a momentous close the third trilogy featuring these beloved characters in a novel of unsurpassed artistry that is sure to endure as one of the great masterworks of the genre.

Executive Summary:
There is not much I can say about this book without getting into spoilers, or making statements that may lead people to guess at their meaning. What I can say is much like Ms. Hobb’s previous works, this book made me feel. A lot.

Audiobook:
Elliot Hill is a pretty good narrator. He can be a bit soft spoken however. And he’s not great at female voices. I rather wish he didn’t try. Still it’s more good than bad, and I do think he adds something to the narration that makes the audio worthwhile. If you liked him in the previous books, you should like him here.

Full Review:
This book was difficult for me to rate. I don’t give out 5 stars easily, and normally when I do it’s a no-brainer. This one not so much. The book has some pacing issues, especially early on. I have no idea of the final page count, but in audio it’s nearly 40 hours long. Ms. Hobb’s books have always been on the slower side, but there were points in this book where it was a bit too much. That’s only a minor gripe though.

FitzChivarly Farseer is one of the most real characters I ever read. When this series was announced I was both excited and nervous to get to spend more time with him. What terrible things would Ms. Hobb do to him this time? She has really put him through the ringer over the years. However my desire to spend time with him again outweighed my fear.

When the series started, I was not happy about the addition of Bee’s chapters. At its conclusion, I’m still a bit torn on them, but I think the story could not have been told otherwise. I think part of me was just irritated to have to spend any time in the book away from Fitz. In addition to Fitz, it was really great to see some old friends again, some of whom I never expected to see.

This book like Fool’s Quest before it, rewards those who have read the entire Elderlings series, not just the Fitz books. If you haven’t read Liveship Traders and Rainwild Chronicles, I highly recommend you do so first. There is so much that’ll you be missing if you don’t.

There isn’t much else I can say without getting into spoilers beyond this: Ms. Hobb has an incredible ability to make feel strong emotions for fictional characters. Joy, anger, love, hate, cheer, sorrow. I feel so much that I’m drained. Few books do that to me, but hers seem to do it all the time, especially the Fitz books. It is for this reason I decided to give this 5 stars instead of 4.

Prepare yourself for an emotional journey. I hope you’ll find it as worth it as I did.

Review by Rob Zak

Reading, Short And Deep #064 – Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

April 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #064

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Jabberwocky was first published in 1871.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Brilliance Audio - A Monster Calls by Patrick NessA Monster Calls
By Patrick Ness; Narrated by Jason Isaacs
4 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 23 September 2011

Tags: / YA / fantasy / monsters / nightmares / illness /

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…. This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself.
Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

This book is inspired by an idea from author Siobhan Dowd (4 February 1960 – 21 August 2007). Patrick Ness was granted the opportunity to explore these ideas, and soon ideas gave way to other ideas, which yielded this book. There’s a terrific interview that follows the audiobook reading wherein Ness discusses the writing process and challenges he faced in such an undertaking. Ness successfully sidesteps weighty sentiment and delivers emotional authenticity while allowing room for empathy, and it is for these reasons that this book resonates long after reading.

The writing is clean and the story is as deep and layered as you wish it to be. Don’t let the young protagonist fool you. This isn’t your generic YA plastic-wrap fantasy story packed with breathless bubblegum adventure and paint-by-number characters. There are monsters and there is loss. The emotion is real, and Ness allows enough room for empathy to turn, to circle like an unquiet animal that knows the end isn’t far. Couple this with genuine wisdom, and we have a story that demands attention, that successfully spans that artificial genre-based boundary to shake reader out their slumber.

Jason Isaacs narrates the audiobook, and conducts the follow-up interview with Patrick Ness at the book’s conclusion. Isaacs nails the reading. In my opinion the audiobook is flawless, and Isaacs never makes himself known to the listener, rather he is a conduit, something only the very best readers manage to pull off. Too many contemporary audiobook narrators perform the text when all they need to do is get out of the way and read. Thank you, Jason Isaacs.

Posted by Casey Hampton

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

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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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

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