The Fire Of Asshurbanipal by Robert E. Howard

July 14, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

If you’re looking to add a Robert E. Howard story to your reading library, but don’t want to get started down the Conan path, look no farther than The Fire Of Asshurbanipal. It was the cover story for the December 1936 issue of Weird Tales!

Weird Tales December 1936 - The Fire Of Asshurbanipal by Robert E. Howard

WEIRD TALES The Fire Of Asshurbanipal - illustration by J. Allen St. John

The Fire Of Asshurbanipal was sold posthumously to Weird Tales by Howard’s father, then the only surviving member of Howard’s immediate family. The story features a pair of adventurers. One is an American, named Steve Clarney, and the other is an Afghan named Yar Ali. They make a fun pair.

Eric Wilkerson‘s depiction of Clarney, for the Call of Cthulhu Collectible Card Game, makes Clarney look like Indiana Jones (minus the whip), and that’s not wholly wrong. But Clarney isn’t an archaeologist, though he and Yar Ali are treasure hunters, and the period and setting is pretty close.

Eric Wilkerson's depiction of Steve Clarney

It is available in print as a part of easily the Ballantine Del Rey collection called The Horror Stories Of Robert E. Howard (ISBN: 0345490207); there was also a pair of deluxe releases by Subterranean Press. And most importantly there is a wonderful professionally narrated audiobook edition available from Tantor Media (it’s read by the talented Robertson Dean):

Horror Audiobook - The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard by Robert E. HowardThe Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Robertson Dean
2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 24 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audiobooks
Published: 2010
ISBN:
Sample |MP3|

The paper editions feature two stunning images from the story by Greg Staples.

The Fire Of Asshurbanipal as illustrated by Greg Staples

The Fire Of Asshurbanipal art by Greg Staples

Interestingly, a different version of the same novelette, The Fire of Asshurbanipal, was published in more recent times as a straight adventure story (same characters but minus the supernatural elements). That fantasy-free version and can be found in another Ballantine Del-Rey collection entitled El Borak And Other Desert Adventures (ISBN: 034550545X).

El Borak And Other Desert Adventures

And that one includes wondrous illustrations by the master of comic book covers Tim Bradstreet.

The Fire Of Asshurbanipal illustration by Tim Bradstreet

The Fire Of Asshurbanipal illustration by Tim Bradstreet

And the version available on Gutenberg Australia’s website is, of course, the original Weird Tales version, complete with references to the Necronomicon, Yog-Sothoth and other sundry Cthulhu mythos details. And that’s the version which has recently been podcast by FNH’s Cthulhu Podcast.

Cthulhu PodcastThe Fire of Asshurbanipal
By Robert E. Howard; Read by FNH
2 MP3 files – Approx. 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Cthulhu Podcast
Podcast: June 2011
|ETEXT|
First published in the December 1936 issue of Weird Tales.
Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

I think I first read this story about twenty-five years ago, and remembered it as a gripping adventure yarn with a fairly strong Lovecraftian feel. I picked it up second hand, in a used bookstore in a handsomely covered collection of ‘weird’ Howard stories called Wolfshead (ISBN: 055312353X). In that 1979 book, there is an excellent introduction by Robert Bloch in which he argues that the “stylistic excesses” found in Howard’s stories, like The Fire Of Asshurbanipal, can be “easily excused” because within Howard’s writing “lurks a dark poetry, and the timeless truth of dreams.”

That still sounds right to me. The Fire Of Asshurbanipal is exciting, happily and ornately adjectival, and carries about with it a heft that most adventure fiction can’t really come close to matching. Listening to this podcast edition I’ll admit it possesses a raw power that I still appreciate even today, much later in life. What jars most, of course, is the prominent position given to race, the reliance on instinctual knowledge, and the repeated use of jungle cat metaphors (which feel particularly out of place in the Arabian desert setting).

Over on the Black Gate blog Ryan Harvey argues that The Fire Of Asshurbanipal is cut from the same cloth as H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines and Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King. I agree.

If you’re looking for more stories like The Fire Of Asshurbanipal I highly recommend another novelette, of more recent vintage, that follows in the tradition very well – That’d be Charles Ardai’s Nor Idolatry Blind the Eye (available in audio as a part of the Audio Realms audiobook Hunt Through The Cradle Of Fear |READ OUR REVIEW| and as an |ETEXT|).

For those who are more comics inclined, check out Joseph Remy’s 40 page webcomic adaptation of The Fire Of Asshurbanipal which begins |HERE|.

And in case you were wondering, the Asshurbanipal of the title was a 7th century BC Neo-Assyrian king famed for the creation of the Library of Ashurbanipal which held among its collection the Epic Of Gilgamesh. It is reported that Alexander the Great, upon seeing the great library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh, was himself inspired to create his own library and that one became perhaps the most famous library of all.

Detail from the Paul Lehr’s cover for Wolfshead:

Wolfshead cover illustration by Paul Lehr

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #102

April 4, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #102 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about new audiobook, book, and comic book releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Infinite Worlds Of H.G. Wells, Sherlock Holmes, Memory by Donald E. Westlake, Hard Case Crime, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, nihilism, SFSignal’s 122 books that bring Scott to tears, All The Lives He Led by Frederik Pohl (a semi-nihilistic novel), Yellowstone, “half minus negative zero”, A Matter Of Time by Glen Cook, The Black Company, Abel One by Ben Bova, blood and flesh and shirtless, Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, BoingBoing, Russian Ark, Enigmatic Plot vs. Enigmatic Pilot, Enclave (aka Razorland) by Ann Aguirre, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Scorch Trials, The Hunger Games, Hunt The Space Witch and Other Stories by Robert Silverberg, WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer, Starstruck, Blair Butler, “Geoff Boucher’s Los Angeles Times Hero Complex ‘Get Your Cape On’ pick of the week”, The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, Macmillan Audio, Audible.com, Brilliance Audio, Warriors edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Forever Bound by Joe Haldeman, Lawrence Block, O. Henry-ish, “I see no reason to buy through iTunes” (vs. Audible.com), Limitless (aka The Dark Fields) by Alan Glynn, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flowers For Algernon, Understand by Ted Chiang, acquiring a whole bag of pills, “smart people are neat”, Tantor Media, History Is Wrong by Erich von Däniken, Jesse becomes momentarily depressed, The Guns Of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, John Lee, the John Cleaver series, have world events have sped because of modern technology?, Libya, Tripoli, “The Graveyard Of Empires”, “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores Tripoli”, NPR, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee, cola, the Today In Canadian History podcast, the Canadian Navy, I Don’t Want To Kill You by Dan Wells, I Am Not A Serial Killer, “normally I don’t do this”, Dexter, the Writing Excuses podcast, Homeward Bound by Harry Turtledove, alternate history, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Grover Gardner, Eric S. Rabkin, George Orwell’s 1984, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, William Dufris, binary fission, Tantor Media is very innovative in including ebooks with their audiobooks, we need a new demarcation to desperate urban fantasy romance from SF, “conspiracy and ignorance based books”, The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, Tales From A Thousand Nights And The Night (aka 1,001 Nights!) translated by Richard Burton, The Thousand Nights And A Night is the first fix-up novel, Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, South America, Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome, To Say Nothing Of The Dog by Connie Willis, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, Atlantis And Other Places by Harry Turtledove, Slave To Sensation shouldn’t be a science fiction novel, Orson Scott’s Card Intergalactic Medicine Show, Rejiggering The Thingamajig by Eric James Stone on Escape Pod #277, body-swapping, I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, gender-swapping, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Heinlein’s old theme: “naked people talking to each other”, Heinlein likes to examine social preconceptions and social prejudices, “not a Heinlein classic but still classic Heinlein”, Eifelheim, Luke Burrage, Idiot America by Charles P. Pierce, George Washington riding a dinosaur, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, contemporary with Tolkien (rather than derivative of Tolkien), Michael Moorcock, Eric Birghteyes by H. Rider Haggard, Bronson Pinchot, The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, anthropomorphic fiction, quasi-Science Fiction, quasi-Fantasy, Coyotes In The House by Elmore Leonard |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Call Of The Wild by Jack London, We Three by Grant Morrison, Transmetropolitain, Warren Ellis, Tama’s pet peeve in comics is silent panels, Audible Frontiers, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, The Tripods, The Sam Gunn Omnibus, The Steel Remains, Cliffs Notes are now available as audiobooks, Brave New World, The Spiral Path by Lisa Paitz Spindler, Eat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks, William Coon’s Eloquent Voice titles, Andre Norton’s The Time Traders, Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg |READ OUR REVIEW|, Philip K. Dick, Henry James, Anton Chekov, Paul of Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth.com The Whisperer In Wax, wax cylinder tech, Embedded by Dan Abnett, SFSignal.com.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #088

December 27, 2010 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #088 – Scott and Jesse talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals and the new releases.

Talked about on today’s show:
Why was Scott gone?, Scott fought off a zombie apocalypse, an angry letter to Santa, Last Call by Tim Powers, Subterranean Press, On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot, “gritty magic realism”, Scott likes lists, top 10 best horror novels, Ghost Story, The Stand, divinationary tarot cards, The Fisher King, “blended weirdness”, StarStruck, The Audio Comics Company, Starstruck’s Wikipedia entry, William Dufris, Simon Vance, Portland (Maine), Simon Vance’s YouTube, Infinivox, Starship Vectors, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Charles Coleman Findlay, Gwenyth Jones, Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, “spacey Science Fiction is very refreshing”, BoingBoing’s “The Beginning Of The End Of A Trend” post – is the death of Paranormal Romance approaching?, Brilliance Audio, The God Engines by John Scalzi, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast, The Android’s Dream (as read by Wil Wheaton), Audible.com, Debt Of Bones by Terry Goodkind, the Legends anthology, Frank Muller, The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin, The Hedge Knight II, Legends II, Dreamsongs, Pump Six And Other Stories by Paulo Bacigalupi, The Fluted Girl, biopunk, Lord Of The Changing Winds: The Griffin Mage Book One by Rachel Neumeier, epic fantasy, Griffins, hard-boiled YA?, noir YA?, The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You by Harry Harrison, Gregg Margarite, the Stainless Steel rat is wry and slick and rascally, well written candy, West Of Eden, prehistorical Science Fiction, alternate history, Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, barking cats?, Scott is a cat person, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, “Mood-altering cat parasites make women friendly and men into jerks”, fantasy, The Runelords: Book Four: The Lair Of Bones by David Farland, Shadowheart by Tad Williams, Dick Hill, The Habitation Of The Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente, Prester John, immortality, She: Who Must Be Obeyed by H. Rider Haggard, “the literal tree of knowledge”, A Dirge For Prester John, Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, “the fate of the world is always hanging in the balance” ,The Walking Dead TV vs. The Walking Dead comic, “a zombie movie that never ends”, Robert Kirkman‘s plan, reading contest, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, upcoming readalongs: Gulliver’s Travels and Oath Of Fealty, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, Wil Patton, Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, Heart Of Darkness, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper, Time For The Stars, Will Patton, Richard Matheson, Somewhere In Time, Ross Macdonald, The New Adventures Of Mike Hammer, Stacey Keach, Max Allan Collins, SS-GB by Len Deighton, Fatherland, Eric S. Rabkin, “I don’t want to say I like Nazis”.

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider Haggard

November 2, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxBack in April my friend Brian Murphy wrote a wonderful essay generally extolling the virtues of Viking Age Fantasy, and particularly recommending H. Rider Haggard’s Eric Brighteyes as one of the best of the genre. Here’s a taste:

“…I would unhesitatingly declare it [Eric Brighteyes] among the finest works in the genre, better than [Bernard] Cornwell and at least as good as [Poul] Anderson’s best. It may not be as much a household name as Haggard’s more famous works King Solomon’s Mines and She, but it’s nevertheless rightly considered a classic in some quarters and one of Haggard’s best.”

The entire in-depth review can be read over on The Cimmerian. And if you’re looking for more of Lancelot Speed‘s wonderful illustrations (like the one I used for the art below), check out Archive.org’s scan of the 1891 edition HERE. It is wonderful!

LIBRIVOX - Eric Brighteyes by H. Rider HaggardEric Brighteyes
By H. Rider Haggard; Read by Brett W. Downey
33 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 10 Hours 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 2, 2010
Eric Brighteyes is the title of an epic viking novel by H. Rider Haggard, and concerns the adventures of its eponymous principal character in 10th century Iceland. Eric Thorgrimursson (nicknamed ‘Brighteyes’ for his most notable trait), strives to win the hand of his beloved, Gudruda the Fair. Her father Asmund, a priest of the old Norse gods, opposes the match, thinking Eric a man without prospects. But deadlier by far are the intrigues of Swanhild, Gudruda’s half-sister and a sorceress who desires Eric for herself. She persuades the chieftain Ospakar Blacktooth to woo Gudrida, making the two men enemies. Battles, intrigues, and treachery follow. First published in 1890.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/4317

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Theresa L. Downey and Diana Majlinger ]

Posted by Jesse Willis

FREE LISTENS (top 10) includes: The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

July 8, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Free Listens BlogSeth, of the FREE LISTENS blog, (a site that focuses exclusively on reviewing FREE audiobooks), has posted a TOP TEN list of FREE AUDIOBOOKS. Here it is:

1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
2. Howards End by E.M. Forester |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
3. King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
4. The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
5. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
6. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
7. Riders Of The Purple Sage by Zane Grey |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
8. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
9. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|
10. Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers |FREE LISTENS REVIEW|

There’s a a lot of good listening in there!

I’ve tried to convince Seth (AKA “The Listener” as he’s known over there) to come blog for us exclusively. Sadly, that hasn’t happened yet.

But, upon his recommendation, I’ve taken the liberty of checking out just the first audiobook on the list, The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (as read by John Telfer).

“The Listener” is right, it is absolutely terrific! Be sure to check it out for yerself…

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by John Telfer
25 MP3 Files – Approx. 6 Hours 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: AudiobooksForFree.com
Published: 2003
Provider: Gutenberg.org
Originally published in the Strand Magazine from July 1891 to June 1892.

A Scandal In Bohemia Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Red Headed League Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

A Case Of Identity Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Boscombe Valley Mystery Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Five Orange Pips Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Man With The Twisted Lip Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Blue Carbuncle Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Beryl Coronet Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

[via Free Listens]

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Allan’s Wife by H. Rider Haggard

December 14, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxYou can make a good case for the sexism in old books. Just look at the Book of Genesis: Lot’s Wife. Noah’s Wife. These are the ladies so oppressed that they didn’t even deserve names. However, I think we can attribute what looks like the exact came same kind of sexism in titling Allan’s Wife more to marketing than anything else. This is, after all, the third novel in the Allan Quatermain series. And it’s not actually very much about his wife, at least at the start. It tells more tales of Quatermain’s time in South Africa, his observations about two dueling witchdoctors (they use their magic to control lighting), his father’s death, and eventually the fate of his wife. For the record Allan Quatermain’s wife (of the title) is named “Stella Carson.” Come to think of it, some clever writer could probably do a whole series of YA books called The Adventures Of Allanah Quatermain (perhaps a secret grandaughter?). Until then…

LibriVox - Allan's Wife by H. Rider HaggardAllan’s Wife
By H. Rider Haggard; Read by Elaine Tweddle
15 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: December 2009

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/3718

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to [email protected] and James Christopher]

Posted by Jesse Willis

« Previous PageNext Page »