Review of The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City

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

SFFaudio Review

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

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

Publisher summary:

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

Contents include:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Casey Hampton.

The SFFaudio Podcast #303 – READALONG: The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

February 9, 2015 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #303 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

Talked about on today’s show:
1838, Poe’s only completed novel, Paul’s Poe years, The Tell-Tale Heart, a macabre sort of phase, Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, fix-ups, Premature Burial, Ms. Found In A Bottle, The Oblong Box, The Gold Bug, secret codes, Poe is old and public domain and not particularly racist, The Pit And The Pendulum, the Poe theme, the death of a beautiful woman is conspicuous by her absence, the meta-commentary, Tristram Shandy, The Cask Of Amontillado, a dog named Tyger (burning bright?), William Blake, Jules Verne, An Antarctic Mystery, Ms. Found In A Copper Cylinder, Antarctica, “Ms. Found In A…”, “it was begun to have been serialized”, fake stories as true stories, Captain Cook’s Antarctic expeditions, “a labyrinth of lumber”, how to load a ship, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Washington Irving, SF as a generally American phenomenon, a slow creep of fantastic elements, full-blown surrealism, the drinking, on the Grampus, dressing like a ghost, another phantom in white, “Mr. Pym is not available”, a genuine narrative, missing islands, a metaphor for alcoholism, sailing in a storm, half-sunk/drunk, echoes, the plague ship, the Penguin, echoes, all these lies, a note from the Wikipedia entry, fictional analogues for real events, autobiographical drinking, The Lighthouse by Edgar Allan Poe (a fragment), “I expected to inherit some money”, money problems, “he’s pouring his troubles into this manuscript”, this is Poe’s version of Dude, Where’s My Car?, an unreliable narrator, an excellent story, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, albatrosses, thematic similarities, they eat many birds, “an unmentionable thought”, subsequent cannibalism, the same ghost ship as in Rime?, Antarctic spirits, H.P. Lovecraft, the subtitle:

Comprising the Details of Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on Board the American Brig Grampus, on Her Way to the South Seas, in the Month of June, 1827. With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivers; Their Shipwreck and Subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; Their Deliverance by Means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the Brief Cruise of this Latter Vessel in the Atlantic Ocean; Her Capture, and the Massacre of Her Crew Among a Group of Islands in the Eighty-Fourth Parallel of Southern Latitude; Together with the Incredible Adventures and Discoveries Still Farther South to Which That Distressing Calamity Gave Rise.

who wrote the subtitle?, they didn’t have the concept of spoilers, the opposite of a spoiler, The Savage Land (Marvel Universe), Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot, a hollow earth theory, this is a Science Fiction book in a strange sense, what’s with the multi-layered coloured water?, the strange creatures, the creature’s corpse in the white waters, is Australia a place?, At The Mountains Of Madness, why Poe is not in outer space, basically these Antarctic people are aliens, this is very Stanley G. Weinbaum (A Martian Odyssey), Michael Moorcock’s Seas Of Fate, H. Rider Haggard, duplicitous natives in the black land, what will be in the white lands?, a heavily read book (in the 19th century), The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, when Lovecraft describes it…, haunted by the architecture of homes, Lovecraft’s description of Pym:

“In the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym the voyagers reach first a strange south polar land of murderous savages where nothing is white and where vast rocky ravines have the form of titanic Egyptian letters spelling terrible primal arcana of earth; and thereafter a still more mysterious realm where everything is white, and where shrouded giants and snowy-plumed birds guard a cryptic cataract of mist which empties from immeasurable celestial heights into a torrid milky sea.”

pouring into the hollow Earth?, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, At The Earth’s Core, Kublah Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, leaving the ending open to the reader, how will he get back to Nantucket?, the names A. Gordon Pym and E. Allan Poe, framing devices, The Turn Of The Screw, a framing device gives the reader an extra distance, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Robert Silverberg’s The Secret Sharer, the southern polar bear, “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li.” the face of an open book, downy feathers, what does it mean?, whiteness, philological scrutiny, “white-phobic”, the audiobook narration, copyright, a total Poe thing to do, Poe loved cryptography, Poe would be writing in Elvish, a font nerd, hanging out with Charles Stross and Alan Moore, can you imagine Poe at a Worldcon?, a drunkard’s story, shoplifting at The Innsmouth Bookshop, Fungi From Yuggoth XV: Antarktos:

Deep in my dream the great bird whispered queerly
Of the black cone amid the polar waste;
Pushing above the ice-sheet lone and drearly,
By storm-crazed aeons battered and defaced.
Hither no living earth-shapes take their courses,
And only pale auroras and faint suns
Glow on that pitted rock, whose primal sources
Are guessed at dimly by the Elder Ones.

If men should glimpse it, they would merely wonder
What tricky mound of Nature’s build they spied;
But the bird told of vaster parts, that under
The mile-deep ice-shroud crouch and brood and bide.
God help the dreamer whose mad visions shew
Those dead eyes set in crystal gulfs below!

the black cone, the primal sources, Lovecraft quoting himself, that shrouded white figure, “Tekeli-li don’t kill the albatross”, Lemuria, Thule, the novel as a journey, how do you return from the surreal?, what happened to Tyger?, they ate him!, Dirk Peters (so manly he has two penises), Tyger’s collar, someone was going to drown the dog, poor Tyger, a horrendously awful horrifying experience, when Paul Theroux visited Jorge Luis Borges he read him The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, Borges thought Pym was Poe’s greatest work, the interest in the meta, strange runes, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, deep into madness (not drunken madness), genetic disease or confronting reality, The Call of Cthulhu, dreams, a fever dream?, forgetting, a change in tenses, the missing two or three final chapters, Xeno’s paradox, a Mercator map, and Greenland, is that all racism?, “a nautical negro”, Toni Morrison, the black cook, don’t go into a tiny box-canyon with natives of any colour, scrupulously honest, earlier bushwhacked voyagers, going piratical?, going whaling?, the mutiny, Mr. Starbuck, why is Pym stowing away in the first place?, the captain that ran them down was drunk, boating skills, Treasure Island, Augustus’ father, the inexplicable weevils, “taking liberally from the spirits”, this narrative is full of holes, a free sea voyage, Pym is a teenager, everybody has a boat on Nantucket, an adventure of a lifetime, Pym is “not available”, Jeremiah N. Reynolds, Poe’s last word was “Reynolds”, a possibly apocryphal story, Mocha Dick, the long conversation of conversation of Science Fiction, Moby Dick is in dialogue with Pym and Mocha Dick, bibliographic archaeology, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, in a dinghy, considering cannibalism, drawing straws, “and dropped like stones”, did their bones dropped likes stones?, the narrator becomes more and more unreliable, dis-masted, a teetotaler who drinks only coffee.

The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket - subtitle

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #269 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Moth by H.G. Wells

June 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastSpoken Freely Presents: Summer Shorts '14The SFFaudio Podcast #269 – The Moth by H.G. Wells; read by Peter Bishop. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Seth and Mr Jim Moon!

Peter Bishops narration of The Moth is a part of Spoken Freely: Summer Shorts ’14 series (get the whole audiobook at Tantor Media – all proceeds benefit ProLiteracy.

Talked about on today’s show: Subtitle “Genus Novo” means “new species”, or, well, new genus; not to be confused with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Sphinx; not tongue-in-cheek like Wells’s The New Accelerator or The Flowering of a Strange Orchid; morality tale; insanity; a “knife fight” of scientists; significance of names, especially when only heard in audio; genre: ghost story, scientific fiction, satire; bears relevance to scientific debates through the ages; Robert Hooke vs. Isaac Newton; Lawrence Krauss on Geek’s Guide podcast; “miracle of incompetence”; science “all works out in the end”; microlepidoptera are little moths; confirmation bias; death’s head moth in Silence of the Lambs; caterpillars, moths, and transformation; Pawkins misheard as “Porkins”; chess and diatoms; follows trends of horrible characters in Wells stories; erratic, gadfly behavior of the moth; giant maddening mosquitos in Canada; “unfortunately the doctor was a blockhead”, detached sadism; the monster inside you à la Alien; multiple readings of the story; The Door in the Wall; strait jackets; moths aren’t Lovecraftian; Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls.

A Moth - Genus Novo by H.G. Wells - illustrated by Arthur C. Becher
A Moth - Genus Novo by H.G. Wells - illustrated by Arthur C. Becher
The Moth by H.G. Wells - illustration by R. E. Lawlor

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Seismograph Adventure by Arthur B. Reeve

December 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

The Seismograph Adventure - illustrated by Winter

Professor Craig Kennedy, a scientific detective similar to Sherlock Holmes, uses his knowledge of chemistry, psychoanalysis, and the scientific method to solve mysteries. In this adventure he foresees “potentialities and possibilities unrecognized by ordinary minds, and with his profound knowledge of applied sciences, is able to approach the enormous tasks confronting him from a new and scientific angle.”

And according to Hugo Gernsback The Seismograph Adventure is “one of the finest, as well as scientific, of Arthur B. Reeve’s stories.”

LibriVoxThe Seismograph Adventure
By Arthur B. Reeve; Read by Elliott Miller
1 |MP3| – Approx. 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: 2010
“Can ghosts walk? And if they do, can their footsteps be recorded on a machine? And are the spirits of the phantom world subject to the same physical phenomena as our human bodies? These are tantalizing questions which arise during the thrilling and complex mystery into which Craig Kennedy and Jameson are plunged without warning.” First published in Cosmopolitan, April 1911.

And here’s a 10 page |PDF| made from its republication in Scientific Detective Monthly, March 1930.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Hedgehog by Saki

October 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

One can easily imagine a story like this actually happening at an upper-crust English country seat like the fictional Downton Abbey – Ruth Golding’s fabulous narration is spot on for this cute little “ghost story” by Saki.

LibriVoxThe Hedgehog
By Saki; Read by Ruth Golding
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox
Published: 2012
The busybodies at a vicarage garden party invite a one Miss Ada Bleek, from the “Society for Psychical Research”, to have a bit of a snoop at their local ghosts – she finds a very large and rather pale one.

And here’s a five page |PDF| version.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

October 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Doctor Sleep by Stephen KingDoctor Sleep (The Shining #2)
By Stephen King; Read by Will Patton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 24 September 2013
ISBN: 9781442362390
[UNABRIDGED] – 18 hours, 35 minutes

Themes: / Horror / Paranormal / Thriller / Ghosts / Alcoholism /

Publisher summary:

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant “shining” power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted fans of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

I’m not a fan of sequels. I’m not really sure The Shining needed a sequel. Sure there were lingering questions about Danny and Wendy at the end, but they weren’t critical in my mind. That said, Mr. King’s novels tend to interconnect on several levels, so I was curious to see what he would do in a sequel to one of his most popular books.

Doctor Sleep is a very different book from its predecessor. The shining plays a key role of course, but I would categorize this book more as Paranormal Thriller rather than Horror. I would however recommend you read/reread The Shining before this though.

The first part of the book catches you up with Danny, his mother and Dick Halloran, and then proceeds to catch us up to Danny in the present day.

Unfortunately for Danny, Mr. King is a big believer in like father like son. Danny has become an alcoholic and has the same anger issues Jack struggled with in the first story. It hard to blame him given his traumatic childhood coupled with the horrors being so strong in the shinning has exposed to him.

A good part of this story felt like an advertisement for the Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m not sure if that’s how Mr. King got himself sober, but it certainly seems like it, as he talks about it to excess. It does make for an interesting idea of “what might have happened if Jack Torrence sought help?”, but I could have done with less time being spent on that aspect of the story.

Keeping with his themes of the cyclical nature of life, the other main protagonist is a young girl who is even stronger in the shinning than Danny was in his youth.

We are also introduced to the True Knot, a pack of “physic vampires” that are near immortal by traveling the country and feeding on the shinning for their longevity. Can you guess where this is going? I could.

So it wasn’t the most unpredictable of stories, but in many ways I enjoyed it more then The Shining. I’m not a big horror fan. This book explores the shining in much greater detail than its namesake novel. Mr. King introduces some well developed new characters, and doesn’t just retell the same story again with minor changes like many sequels tend to.

Mr. Patton does an excellent job reading this book. He has many distinct voices and accents that adds a little something to the story. I was surprised they used a different reader than the The Shining, but as it turned out to be a fairly different book, I think it was a good decision.

So will you like it? If you’re a big horror fan hoping that Mr. King can scare the hell out of you again, probably not. If you’re like me and enjoy the fantastical nature of Mr. King’s novels then you just might.

Review by Rob Zak.

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