Review of Last Call by Tim Powers

September 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Last Call by Tim PowersLast Call
By Tim Powers; Read by Bronson Pinchot
16 CDs – Approx. 19.1 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 9781441757364
Themes: / Fantasy / Gambling / Immortality / Las Vegas / Poetry / Arthurian Legend / Greek Mythology / Egyptian Mythology

Scott Crane abandoned his career as a professional poker player twenty years ago and hasn’t returned to Las Vegas, or held a hand of cards, in ten years. But troubling nightmares about a strange poker game he once attended on a houseboat on Lake Mead are drawing him back to the magical city. For the mythic game he believed he won did not end that night in 1969—and the price of his winnings was his soul. Now, a pot far more strange and perilous than he ever could imagine depends on the turning of a card. Enchantingly dark and compellingly real, this World Fantasy Award–winning novel is a masterpiece of magic realism set in the gritty, dazzling underworld known as Las Vegas.

Tim Powers’ Last Call (1992 William Morrow and Co.; 2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.) is studded with references to old myths, snatches of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland,” the art of poker playing, and the unique culture and atmosphere of old and new Las Vegas. It contains numerous major and minor characters, overarching themes and subplots, and digressions into probability theory. In other words, it demands close reading and attention to detail. Listening to it in half-hour chunks as I did while driving to work was probably not the best idea, and may have affected my review of the book, but what follows is an honest appraisal.

There’s a lot to like in Last Call, and I lot I liked. At its heart it’s really about the vast, mysterious forces driving the universe and the ways in which they manifest in our lives. Why does tragedy pass over a criminal and take a good person instead? Why does a disease like cancer randomly strike a family man with a wife and children to support? Although life appears chaotic and meaningless, perhaps there are active, purposeful forces of fate at work as well, old gods that exist outside our typical suburban lives but can be sought out and appealed to, and even manipulated. In Last Call Powers breathes new life into ancient myths like the Arthurian Fisher King, the Greek god Dionysus, and the Egyptian goddess Isis, incorporating themes of resurrection and physical health tied to spiritual health. These ancient demigods reappear in the forms of unlikely modern-day characters, including broken-down ex-gambler Scott Crane and his estranged foster-sister Diana. Last Call also includes a cast of memorable bad guys, including a bloated fat hit man Trumbull who is convinced that eternal life can be had through the consumption of raw flesh, and the chief baddie Georges Leon, a mystic who achieves immortality through stealing and possessing the bodies of the living. Crane is the central figure in the story, a man who in 1969 played a portentous game of Assumption with a powerful set of tarot cards. Twenty years later Crane returns for a second game against Leon with nothing less than his soul on the line.

Last Call is ultimately a hopeful book, as it implies that there may be a purpose to our lives and a way to control one’s destiny, if you can read the cards and master the archetypes of the Tarot. In Powers’ hands playing cards are a metaphor for the mysteries of life and the skill and luck required to navigate its uncertain waters.

Neil Gaiman’s American Gods employs a similar conceit of old gods reincarnated in the modern world but I must say I enjoyed Gaiman’s take better. Powers is a talented writer and I enjoyed his descriptions of the seedy soul of Las Vegas, as well as some memorable set-pieces he creates, including an encounter with the ghost of the infamous gangster Bugsy Siegel beneath the waters of Lake Mead. But the slow pace of the narrative, the meandering plotline, the too-numerous characters and plotlines that drop in and out of the story without sufficient explanation and resolution (Crane’s wife Susan, for example), and tedious descriptions of card game after card game make Last Call a difficult listen and at times an outright chore, despite the fine narration by Bronson Pinchot.

Perhaps my lukewarm reaction to Last Call has something to do with the fact that I I’m not a fan of card playing; Vegas is a cool place to visit and I’ve tried my hand at a few slot machines, but sitting down at a table in the company of hardcore gamblers has zero appeal for me. If you read Last Call watch closely for the signs, the subtle flush of cheek or restless eyes that the best card players know how to detect and interpret. As for casual readers: Beware.

Posted by Brian Murphy

Never Bet The Devil Your Head by Edgar Allan Poe

August 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Never Bet The Devil Your Head was written by Edgar Allan Poe to mock his critics. It’s wit is as sharp as Voltaire’s Candide and it’s smirk is as wide as Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, but it’s just the size of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal.

Never Bet The Devil Your Head is the tale of Toby Dammit, a man of vice, who comes to a bad end.

Here’s a choice snippet:

“At five months of age he used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At six months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he was in the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies. At eight months he peremptorily refused to put his signature to the Temperance pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after month, until, at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon wearing mustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and swearing, and for backing his assertions by bets.”

I highly recommended it.

Here’s an unabridged reading:

Voices In The DarkNever Bet The Devil Your Head
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Dawn Keenan
1 |MP3| – Approx. 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Voices In The Dark
Published: 2005
First published in Graham’s Magazine, September 1841.

And here’s a pointed, yet spritely, audio dramatization adaptation with the legendary Daws Butler playing Dammit:

CBS Radio WorkshopCBS Radio Workshop – Never Bet The Devil Your Head
Adapted from the short story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: July 28, 1957
Provider: archive.org

Cast:
John Dehner … Mr. Poe
Daws Butler … Toby Dammit
Howard McNear … the Devil

And finally here’s a |PDF|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Weird Circle

September 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. The problem was that even though I’ve spent a considerable amount of time working on it, it has been slow going. I figured it will be years more before I finished it at that rate. If you’ve got some ideas about the authors I haven’t been able to discover please drop a comment. In the meantime here’s what I’ve got:

The Weird CircleThe Weird Circle was a 1940s half hour radio drama series that ran 78 episodes in syndication from 1943 to 1945 in the USA.

One story I suggest fans of SF check out is What Was It? by Fitz-James O’Brien, this 1859 story, starts off with all the proto-typical mumbo jumbo about seances and haunted houses and then takes a more Science Fictiony turn. It’s also, according to Wikipedia, one of the earliest modern stories about invisibility. The show’s producers primarily drew upon early and mid-19th century gothic fiction stories for their adaptations.

The final story in this series, The Black Parchment, seems something like a French version of The Monkey’s Paw.

Episodes:

The Fall Of The House Of Usher
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: August 29, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

The House And The Brain
Based on the story by Edward Bulwer-Lytton; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 5, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

The Vendetta
Based on the novel by Honoré de Balzac; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 12, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
Based on a novel by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 19, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

Declared Insane
Based on a story by Honoré de Balzac; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 26, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the story Interdiction by Honoré de Balzac

A Terribly Strange Bed
Based on the story by Wilkie Collins; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 3, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

What Was It?
Based on a story by Fitz-James O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 10, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

The Knightsbridge Mystery
Based on the story by Charles Reade; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 17, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
First published in Life in 1882, later republished in Argosy (UK) Jul 1931.

The Horla
Based on the story by Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 24, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

William Wilson
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 31, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
First published in October 1839.

Passion In The Desert
Based on the story by Honoré de Balzac; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 7, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
Turned into a film.

Mateo Falcone
Based on a story by Prosper Mérimée; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 14, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1829.
Turned into an opera.

The Man Without A Country
Based on Edward Everett Hale; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 21, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
First published in Atlantic Monthly December 1863.

Dr. Manette’s Manuscript
Based on a story by Charles Dickens; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 28, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
Adapted from the novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

The Great Plague
By Thomas Hood (?); Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 5, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
Adapted from the short story A Tale Of The Great Plague by Thomas Hood.

Expectations Of An Heir
Based on a story by Samuel Johnson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 12, 1943
Provider: Archive.org
Adapted from The Lingering Expectation Of An Heir

The Hand
Based on a story by Guy de Maupassant (?); Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 19, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

Jane Eyre
Based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 26, 1943
Provider: Archive.org

The Murders In The Rue Morgue
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 2, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Lifted Veil
Based on a novella by George Eliot; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 9, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
The Lifted Veil was first published in 1859.

The 4:15 Express
Based on the story by Amelia B. Edwards; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| -Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 16, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

A Terrible Night
Based on a story by Fitz James O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| -Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 23, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Tell Tale Heart
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| -Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 30, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Niche Of Doom
Based on a story by Honoré de Balzac; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| -Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 6, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the story La Grande Breteche by Honoré de Balzac.

The Heart Of Ethan Brand
Based on a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| -Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 13, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the story Ethan Brand by Nathaniel Hawthorne. First published in .

Frankenstein
Based on the novel by Mary Shelley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 20, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Feast Of The Red Gauntlet
Based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 27, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the novel Redgauntlet.

Murder Of The Little Pig
Based on a story by Émile Gaboriau; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 5, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Specter Of Tappington
Based on the story by Richard Harris Barham; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 12, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1837. Lieutenant Charles Seaforth is back from India, and will stay in “the oak room” a notoriously haunted room in Tappington manor. But when a skeletal specter steals Seaforth’s pants in the night he’s forced to wear his tropical shorts to breakfast!

Strange Judgement
; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 19, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Wuthering Heights
Based on the novel by Emily Brontë; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 26, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1847.

Curse Of The Mantle
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 2, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Cask Of Amontillado
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 9, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

A Rope Of Hair
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 16, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Falkland
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 23, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Trial For Murder
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 30, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Werewolf
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 7, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Old Nurse’s Story
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 14th, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Middle Toe Of The Right Foot
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 28, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Dream Woman
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 3, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Phantom Picture
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 10, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Ghost’s Touch
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 17, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Bell Tower
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: September 24, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Evil Eye
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 1, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Mark Of The Plague
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 8, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Queer Client
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 15, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Burial Of Roger Melvin
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 22, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Fatal Love Potion
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 29, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

Mad Monkton
Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 5, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Returned
Based on a story by Neville Brand (?); Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 12, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Executioner
Based on the story by Honoré de Balzac; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 19, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1830.

Rappaccini’s Daughter
Based on the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: November 26, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1844.

The Wooden Ghost
Based on a story by Sheridan Le Fanu; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 3, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
Adapted from Schalken The Painter by Sheridan Le Fanu. First published in 1839.

The Last Days Of A Condemned Man
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 10, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1829.

The Warning
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 17, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Doll
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 24, 1944
Provider: Archive.org

The Diamond Lens
Based on the story by Fitz-James O’Brien; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: December 31, 1944
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1858 in The Atlantic Monthly.

The History Of Dr. John Faust
Based on a story by anonymous; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 7, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on a chapbook story Historia von D. Johann Fausten first published in 1587.

Duel Without Honor
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 14, 1945
Provider: Archive.org

The Spectre Bride
Based on a story by William Harrison Ainsworth; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 21, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1822.

The Tapestry Horse
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: January 28, 1945
Provider: Archive.org

The River Man
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 4 1945
Provider: Archive.org

Ancient Mariner
Based on a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 11 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. First published in 1798.

The Oblong Box
Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 18 1945
Provider: Archive.org

The Mysterious Bride
Based on a story by James Hogg; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: February 25, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1830.

The Thing In The Tunnel
Based on a story by Charles Dickens; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 4, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens. Later adapted as an audio drama for Hall of Fantasy (1950), Suspense (1956), Nightfall (1982) and Seeing Ear Theatre (1998?). A spectral figure in a dark railway tunnel has a message

The Moonstone
Based on the novel by Wilkie Collins; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 11, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the novel The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. First published in 1868.

The Pistol Shot
Based on a story by Alexander Pushkin (?); Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 18, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on the short story The Shot by Alexander Pushkin. First published in 1830.

The Possessive Dead
????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: March 25, 1945
Provider: Archive.org

The Goblet
Based on the story by Ludwig Tieck; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 1, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Translated from German into English in 1827. Donaldo is the governor of an Italian island. He chooses a woman of low birth as his bride to be and gives her a series of engagment gifts, a silver ring, a silver pendant, and a silver goblet. The problem is, Francesca, his intened, has falllen in love with the silversmith!

The Case Of Monsieur Valdemar
Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 8, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe. First published in 1845.

The Shadow
Based on a story by Hans Christian Andersen; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 15, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Based on The Shadow. First published in 1847. Classified as a “fairy tale.” A man’s shadow becomes another person and tries to control his life.

Bride Of Death
By ????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 22, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
A beautiful woman is fated to marry a dead man.

Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: April 29, 1945
Provider: Archive.org

The Red Hand
By ????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 6, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
A money hungry husband bent on murder chases his wife across France.

The Haunted Hotel
Based on a story by Wilkie Collins; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 13, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
First published in 1878. Set in Venice.

Markheim
Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 20, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
This is a radical adaptation, set in a contemporary (to 1945) setting, and providing much of the presumed back-story (stuff that isn’t actually in the text of Stevenson’s original tale). First published in 1885 |ETEXT|.

The Black Parchment
By ????; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: May 27, 1945
Provider: Archive.org
Raphael Roland, a degenerate Parisian gambler intent on suicide, saves a drowning man in the Seine. In response he’s given a certain black parchment, written is Sanskrit, that grants wishes to the bearer. But, as an owner’s wishes are granted the parchment gets smaller and smaller and its owner gets older and older.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne

February 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

LISTENING LIBRARY - Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules VerneAround The World In Eighty Days
By Jules Verne; Read by Jim Dale
7 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Listening Library
Published: 2005
ISBN: 0307206424
Themes: / Adventure / 19th Century / Gambling / Religion / Mormonism /

Shocking his stodgy colleagues at the exclusive Reform Club, enigmatic Englishman Phileas Fogg wagers his fortune, undertaking an extraordinary and daring enterprise to circumnavigate the globe in eighty days. With his French valet Passepartout in tow, Verne’s hero traverses the far reaches of the earth, all the while tracked by the intrepid Detective Fix, a bounty hunter certain he is on the trail of a notorious bank robber. Combining exploration, adventure, and a thrilling race against time, Around The World In Eighty Days gripped audiences upon its original publication and remains hugely popular to this day.

When I get into a subject, I really get into it. I think I’m becoming something of an Around The World In Eighty Days expert. I’ve tracked down the episode of Have Gun Will Travel that includes a visit from Phileas Fogg. I’ve gotten my mitts on several audiobook versions, and a BBC radio dramatization too. I’ve watched the Michael Palin series that took inspiration from the novel. I poured over the Classics Illustrated comics version.

Phileas Fogg, who seems to epitomize a certain kind of stereotypical Englishman, is described as emotionless. He makes his calculations, and like the watch he carries, ticks away without a wasted movement. At one point a certain travelling companion makes a remark something like “this is the only time I’ve seen you become emotional” this when confronted by the prospect of sitting idly by while a woman is burned alive. Fogg’s reponse: “I am emotional, when I have the time.” That burning, by the way, takes the form of a Hindu “suttee.” Later on in Utah, Passepartout, Fogg’s manservant, takes in a sermon in the form of a lecture on the history of Mormonism. It’s a hilarious scene, and as such this book is one of the few classics that I will probably re-read. Around The World In Eighty Days overflows such gems. It’s biggest failing is that a good deal of the suspense Verne injects comes from out of nowhere, clunks around the pages, making waste, only to sputter out into utter forgetability at the end.

Narrator Jim Dale, best known for his work on the Listening Library Harry Potter audiobooks, brings a full range of accents and voices to this audiobook. Dale does a really terrific Passepartout! The production includes some seemingly randomly insterted music and sound effects that nearly drown out Dale’s performance. That’s bad. Additional mistakes include an image of a hot air balloon on the cover. There is absolutely no balloon in this novel, though one appears in a couple of video adaptations.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein

April 1, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

[Jesse’s Note: This is a first time review from one of my students. Rose sat down with a tattered old paperback copy of Podkayne Of Mars and a brand new Blackstone Audio CD audiobook of Podkayne Of Mars for a readalong – the result was this terrific review – Thanks Rose!]

Fantasy Audiobook - Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. HeinleinSFFaudio EssentialPodkayne of Mars
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Emily Janice Card
5 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433251612
Themes: / Science Fiction / Adventure / Reproduction / Politics / Family / Gambling / Venus / Mars /

From the author of Friday and Rocketship Galileo comes this classic tale featuring the grand master of science fiction’s most remarkable heroine. Podkayne Fries, a smart and determined maid of Mars, has just one goal in life: to become the first female starship pilot and rise through the ranks to command deep-space explorations. So when she is offered a chance to join her diplomatic uncle on an interstellar journey to distant Earth via Venus, it’s a dream come true—even if her only experience with diplomacy is handling her brilliant but pesky younger brother, Clark. But she’s about to learn some things about war and peace because Uncle Tom, the ambassador plenipotentiary from Mars to the Three Planets Conference, is traveling not quite incognito enough, and certain parties will stop at nothing to sabotage negotiations between the three worlds….

This is the first Robert A. Heinlein audiobook, or Heinlein book, and my first audiobook that I have ever read. I also hadn’t read any Science Fiction before. This was mostly because I thought Science Fiction was just fiction that was “beyond reality,” so I wasn’t really interested in it. However, after reading and listening to Podkayne Of Mars, I found myself considering reading another. Heinlein’s idea, that to freeze babies and decant them whenever the parents want, is fascinating. Since many women are busy with their work and have no time to take care of their babies, I think this practice and technology may come true in the future. One issue for me was I didn’t really like Clark at first. He acts brusquely, seemed selfish and didn’t seem to care about his family. I was, therefore, impressed by Clark when he decided to become more responsible and caring.

Emily Janice Card, daughter of Orson Scott Card, narrated Podkayne Of Mars. Card narrates the whole 176 page story all as Poddy, except seven pages from the end when Clark, her younger brother, takes over. I think Card’s voicing of Poddy was in-sync with a sentimental, skeptical, and ambitious young teen. It made me feel as if Poddy was reading her own story. However, Card’s voicing of Clark wasn’t as harmonious. Probably, this was because she is female. Compared to 1979 paperback edition, Poddy on this cover doesn’t really look like Poddy. Poddy looks quite cynical. I much prefer the 1979 edition because there Poddy looks more of a sentimentalist.

Posted by Rose [장미]

Review of Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes by Harlan Ellison

March 23, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

We’re in the home stretch now… Pick up the ball, and throw it to Who.

Audiobook - Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes by Harlan EllisonPretty Maggie Moneyeyes
Contained in The Voice from the Edge, Volume 3: Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes
By Harlan Ellison; Read by Harlan Ellison
1 Hour – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2010
Themes: / Fantasy / Ghosts / Gambling / Slot Machines /

Why don’t more narrators read stories like Harlan Ellison reads stories? I would say that the insistence with which he reads has to do with the fact that he’s delivering his own material, but he won an Audie Award for his narration of a Ben Bova story a while back. So he pours the same personality – and that’s what the quality really is; a personal one, like he’s right there with you – he pours the same personality into stories other than his own. I would therefore love to hear him read an anthology of his favorite stories from other writers.

But the story at hand is “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes”, a sharp tale about a guy near the end of his luck who pulls the handle on a dollar slot machine and wins the jackpot. Then pulls the handle and wins again. Impossible, you say? Maybe. Maybe not.

I love the fact that after the story Ellison talks about writing it. And that’s an interesting story, too.

Visit the Blackstone Audio website for an audio sample from another of the stories in the Voice from the Edge, Vol. 3 collection.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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