Review of Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

November 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

skeletonSkeleton Crew
By Stephen King; Narrated by Stephen King, Matthew Broderick, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, Will Patton, Norbert Leo Butz, Lois Smith, Dylan Baker
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 22 hours, 37 minutes

Themes: / short stories / horror /

Publisher summary:

The master at his scarifying best! From heart-pounding terror to the eeriest of whimsy – tales from the outer limits of one of the greatest imaginations of our time!

In “The Mist”, a supermarket becomes the last bastion of humanity as a peril beyond dimension invades the earth.

Touch “The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”, and say your prayers.

There are some things in attics that are better left alone – things like “The Monkey”.

The most sublime woman driver on earth offers a man “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” to paradise.

A boy’s sanity is pushed to the edge when he’s left alone with the odious corpse of “Gramma”.

If you were stunned by Gremlins, the Fornits of “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet” will knock your socks off.

Trucks that punish and beautiful teen demons who seduce a young man to massacre; curses whose malevolence grows through the years; obscene presences and angels of grace – here, indeed, is a night-blooming bouquet of chills and thrills.

Review:

I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but I am a big fan of Stephen King. I’ve read two collections by him prior to this one: Hearts in Atlantis and Different Seasons. I thought both of them were stronger collections. The main difference is those contain fewer, but longer stories I think.

This one has been on my radar for a long time, in particular because of The Mist, which is the first (and longest) story. It’s actually a Novella, where the rest are short stories. It’s supposed to have “major” ties to his Dark Tower series, and one of the few in that category I haven’t read already. Personally I found it being a “major” connection to be a stretch, especially compared with most of the others. So if like me, you’re wanting to read all the associated works, I personally think you can skip this one without much issue.

There are 3 stories worth calling out for this collection of 22 (although calling 2 of them stories is overly generous). The best story was probably Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut. I thought it was fantastic. I also really enjoyed The Monkey and Gramma.

Paranoid: A Chant and For Owen round out the bottom. I guess if you have little fragments of writing you think are interesting, sticking them in such a large collection is the best way to publish them, but I think the collection would have been stronger without them personally.

As to the rest you can consult my list of ratings below.

Audio
This book has 13 unique narrators, some of them reading several stories. Will Patton, Frances Sternhagen, Paul Giamatti, and Norbert Leo Butz were the best narrators of the group. None of the narrators were bad, but most of them were unmemorable. You can see my full ratings below for each performance.

Ratings
StoryStory RatingNarratorNarrator Rating

The Mist – 3 – Will Patton- 4.5
Here There Be Tygers – 2.5 – Kyle Beltran – 3
The Monkey – 4.5 – Matthew Broderick – 3
Cain Rose Up – 1.5 – Kyle Beltran – 3
Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut – 4.5 – Dana Ivey – 3.5
The Jaunt – 3 – Robert Petkoff – 3
The Wedding Gig – 2.5 – Paul Giamatti – 4
Paranoid: A Chant – 1 – Will Patton – 3
The Raft – 3 – Stephen King – 3
Word Processor of the Gods – 3.5 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands – 2 – Paul Giamatti – 4
Beachworld – 2.5 – Michael C. Hall – 3
The Reaper’s Image – 2 – David Morse – 3
Nona – 3 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
For Owen – 1.5 – David Morse – 3
Survivor Type – 2.5 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
Uncle Otto’s Truck – 3 – David Morse – 3
Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1) – 3 – Dylan Baker – 3
Big Wheels: A Tale of The Laundry Game (Milkman #2) – 3 – Dylan Baker – 3
Gramma – 4 – Frances Sternhagen – 4.5
The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet – 3.5 – Michael C. Hall – 3
The Reach – 2.5 – Lois Smith – 3

Review by Rob Zak.

The SFFaudio Podcast #396 – READALONG: The Thing On The Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft

November 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The Thing On The Doorstep

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #396 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Wayne June talk about The Thing On The Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, January 1937, the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaptation, the movie, all thingy, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, racism, the sexism isn’t sexism, I’m not fully human, I need a man’s brain, partially intentional?, a mishmash of transmigrations, the opinion of Ephraim as expressed through Asenath, congress with certain supernatural horrors (Deep Ones), hybrid, what Edward hears, Man can be capitalized, at what point in the story does Asenath speak for herself?, man vs. woman, poison, the prequel, when she leaves Innsmouth?, trapped in the corpse of her own father, amazing resonances, 0% sexist, sympathy, being locked up in the Crowninshield House, down the 6,000 steps, in a Darkest Dungeon in Maine, mindblasted by shoggoths, on and on and on,

It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer.

a horrible “survival”, gills and spawning, Ephraim is desperate for immortality because he’s fully human, aging while your descendants get to live forever, not the immortal we’re looking for, this technology, burn the Necronomicon, gender swapping, finding a body on craigslist, social networking and social media, Bodybook, Strange Aeons: The Thing On The Doorstep (2005), the Providence adaptation, honeymoon in Innsmouth, especially creepy, a rival to her father, he’s having sex with the father-in-law, a thought you never want to have, a character focused story, reacting badly, body-hopping through time, a story of Daniel’s insanity, the framing story, Julie Hoverson’s adaptation, Dan is so far from the events, below the surface, other filmed adaptations, with budget vision and understanding, Guillermo del Toro, the 3 and 2 knock, glub glub glub bubble bubble, the scariest use of glub glub ever, Daniel is a skeptic, a recurring motif: “tirelessly mediocre”, he doesn’t have hypnotic ability (susceptibility), Ephraim needs a weak willed person with a lot of brains, get a taxi, strong willed, he’s gone through some shit, the survival continues, rationalizing the magic, it’s all math, Charlie Stross’ Laundry books, A Colder War, Shoggoths In Bloom by Elizabeth Bear, Dreams In The Witch House, science of magic, quantum stuff, Lovecraft at bottom is a Science Fiction writer, candlestick, the Rider-Waite tarot deck, a cult leader in New York, The Order Of The Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, the infinity symbol above “the Magician” and “Strength”, the cups the swords the wands and the pentacles, the esoteric order in reality, The Dunwich Horror, Robert M. Price, an ouroboros belt, biblical names, Ephraim and Asenath, a circle, is this an earlier survival (from a biblical era?), The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick has his themes, reality replaced with post-it notes, parallels in Lovecraft, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, in a dream Jervas Dudley finds the key, just so natural, beginning and ending in a sanitarium, the great race of Yith, born in the wrong time, a 17th century gentleman, what’s wrong with sleeping in a graveyard, Lego model of THE TOMB, an affinity for the tomb, now is the time we discuss the Providence adaption, a 12 issue series, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Avatar Press, racism, sexism, and hidden sexuality, physically turning the pages is traumatic, reading that third paragraph, incredibly difficult to read, the subtext becomes text (and graphic), the more you think about it the more horrifying it gets, Edwards’ weird experiences, that lost time, Robert Black, the final panel, she’s standing on the doorstep, the rape scene, he sees himself entering town, another callback, the call from woodland Maine, the local Marshall, a pivotal scene, communing with the shoggoths, wordlessly insisting he’s going to drive the rest of the way, power over the weather, uncanny predictions, Lovecraft the wannabe architect, another kind of horror, the hidden, the crushed in skull of Asenath is the beginning of the story, out of all of the horrible teenage experiences waking up in a decomposed body is a cool idea, there’s a lot more too it than that, the seeds are all there, it is deep, An Exchange Of Souls by Barry Pain, H.B. Drake’s The Remedy, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, great minds think alike, a devotee of subterranean magic, a hypnotist with the power to transfer her consciousness, out of body experience, Trinidad, a psychic vampire story, bank robbery, a phial of acid, the Asenath analogue, without the final transference, a popular trope at that time, spritualism and seances, mesmerism, animal magnetism, The Facts In The Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe, he totally glub glubbed, Cool Air, ammonia baths, staying alive for love, he’s been dead for years, if you read a lot of Lovecraft you’ll love Providence, she’s raping her own body with the body of a gay man, so inverted through a mirror, the father is a monster, a lot of trans people would be really happy with Ephraim’s tech, suffering, “monsters in human form”, one of the monsters: lich, an evil wizard that uses magic to keep alive, classic high level undead D&D monsters, ancient Scottish for corpse, soul magic, Gary Gygax, Clark Ashton Smith, a phylactery, Edward says to Dan, an object brought back from the underground Maine shoggoth pit, John Dee, the magical objects, opening gateways with quantum physics, this story has it all, a keystone has it all, fetishes?, if this was a bayou story, we dig it, would a great high budget version, Lovecraft is word magic, the definitive adaptation, amazing to hear the voice invoke pages from the Necronomicon, a minimalist palate, brings the images to life, that’s why Lovecraft doesn’t work as well on film, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Thing (1982), Lovecraft thought of himself as a failure because he thought he couldn’t live up to the dreams his stories describe, Lovecraft never wavered from the idea that the only thing interesting is interesting things, who cares about that Henry James sitting room drama when you can pick up a gun and shoot your freind in the head six-times through, it cannot be described, alien sounding vocabulary, don’t think of elephants, so genius, the name of the house that Asenath house, the Derby mansion, a real family in a fake town, she bought the crownishield to shield her crown, on the way back from Maine, they switch,

I do not recall just what my own part of the conversation was, for the baffling alienage of my seatmate filled all my consciousness.

an emotional response,

There was talk of an investigation, but this was dispelled one day when Asenath appeared in the streets and chatted in a sprightly way with a large number of acquaintances

dusting a turning the furnace on once a week, he will need a place to go, on those days, this guy is genius, what makes the spell so great, that’s insane, polished, so many meanings, it’s like he’s occupied by a 17th century genius.

PROVIDENCE, issue 6, by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

Asenath waits - from PROVIDENCE by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

PROVIDENCE by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

PROVIDENCE by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

PROVIDENCE by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

PROVIDENCE by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

The Thing On The Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #040 – The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #040

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Night Wire was first published in Weird Tales, September 1926.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #394 – narrator Wayne June

November 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #394 –Jesse talks with the great Wayne June, the narrator of Darkest Dungeon and several H.P. Lovecraft audiobooks. Wayne grew up reading science fiction and has both a love and appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.

Talked about on today’s show:
he has to be Wayne June, Darkest Dungeon, made in Vancouver, really hard, Chris Bourassa, Tyler Sigman, the script, Stuart Chatwood, PowerupAudio.com, Twitch streaming, stress and post traumatic stress disorder, Dismas, snap out of it, “a mighty blow”, what are you recording?, out of context, YouTube commentary, STURDY SHOVELS!, single player, Wizardry on the Apple II, comics, the sequels to games get better, a community of gamers, a Twitch streamer’s sound-pack, Red Hook Studios, 500 personalized notifications, taking it out of context, worlds of their own, laughing our butts off, a DOTA announcer pack?, professional gaming, millions of dollars in prizes, a groundswell of support for Wayne June, Jesse was a fan of Wayne June fan from the beginning, Jesse made Wayne June the man he is today, a lovecraftian theme, pronouncing all the words, “squamous”ˈskwāməs/, Wayne June grew up on Lovecraft, a lifetime of Lovecraft, it’s better to be non-existent, weltanschauung, you have to feel what the author wants you to feel, Donald Sutherland, great performance advice: don’t lie, live the script, people are going to feel it, Ex Oblivione:

So, happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.

Lovecraft doesn’t give a shit about what other people think of his writing, he’s fully committed, guilty, he’s his own genre, enveloped in a syrup of hopelessness, necessary flourishes, the undisputed master, Edgar Allan Poe, I’m that guy, carrying books of poems around, The Dunwich Horror, the Vermont landscape, ravines of problematic depth?, that’s giving me a problem, subjective vs. objective, here’s the quality of what he thinks it should be judged as, a subjective outline, Lovecraft often has the revelation first achieved through sound, The Thing On The Doorstep, the sound coming before the visualization, Lovecraft is meant to be read aloud, a book of spells, feelings of fear and nausea or dread, The Raven, you can taste a lot of Poe in Lovecraft’s stuff, From Beyond, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, ingesting a story, alliteration and consonance and assonance, so crafted with sound,

And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

Dreamland, there’s even ghouls in there, Ex Oblivione very succinctly outlines Lovecraft’s whole gloomy view of the universe, rewarding re-reading,

Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.

The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, too wise to have ever have been born in the waking world, illimitable space, the realm of the forms, he enters into it joyously, incredibly comforting, yeah right!, awww damn, coffee, Thomas Ligotti, consciousness as an accident of evolution (and not a happy accident), Douglas Adams, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, tooth and claw, awareness and self awareness, glooming-up a good gloomy book, Chinatown, its good to hear truth, other people are struggling, taking existential dread and experiencing it fully, putting it into a compartment, naming all the guts, fear can be managed, take it in doses, wrestling with fictional takes on real existential dreads, give it names, True Detective, temperament, there’s nothing truer than great fiction, From Beyond, the unseen world, things flopping through us, a monster story, life as tedium vs scientific revelation, The Hounds Of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, to the beginning of creation, when you invent the microscope, germ theory, telescopes, Galileo, ultraviolet, microbes, confronting how small we are, the endless boundless vistas of space, best expressed,

I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognised sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.

not just horror, science fiction as well, Lovecraft is the H.G. Wells of weird fiction, the project to get Wayne June to record every H.P. Lovecraft story, packaged in the Necronomicon, slow treading, at the bottom of this ravine of problematic depth,The Call Of Cthulhu, Frankenstein, bringing our own prejudices, whose argument is this?, The Dunwich Horror is a family tragedy, coming from a dimension where aesthetics are different, Jesus and Mary, he has to break into the library to read a book, biased and racist, Wilbur wanted to learn skillz, transparent attic brother, he wanted to help his disabled brother, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a family reunion, living forever under the sea, fishy eyes, he gets his sealegs, aquatic family values, The Tomb, Jervas Dudley likes walks in the woods, the ancestors, reverting to type, atavism, an “evil” ancestor, coming to terms with what’s in your family tree, goth or emo, who’s he hurting?, such a libertarian, let the living lie with the dead, the ending of Annabelle Lee, sleeping with a corpse, a beautiful beautiful poem about a disgusting activity, he could probably find better ways to spend his time, discernment, eating mushrooms, when we get together for pizza, Wayne June owes Jesse a pizza.


Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #035 – The Painter Of Dead Women by Edna Worthley Underwood

October 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #035

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Painter Of Dead Women by Edna Worthley Underwood

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Painter Of Dead Women was first published in The Smart Set, January 1910 .

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #388 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft

September 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #388 – From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (19 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.


Fantasy Fan, this story has to be visualized, the 1986 movie, the baroque language does not work on film, comedy gore and sex instead of adjectives, scary looking, a golden age of practical special effects, fantastic horror is the pinnacle of going nuts, Stuart Gordon, the servants all left three days ago, piles of clothes, The Hounds Of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, Trail Of Cthulhu, the Hypnogoria podcast, Netflix’s Stranger Things, Ubbo-Sathla by Clark Ashton Smith, dilettante occultist, perceiving space time as a dimension, seeing beyond the veil, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, more cosmic than a Narnian wardrobe, levels of reality co-terminus with out own, cyclopean temples, The Horror From The Heights by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a huge beaked terror, hooked onto, Robert Hooke (rival of Newton), Micrographia, 1665, all the living things all over your body and that permeate reality but were previously unseen, Antonie Leeuwenhoek grinding your own lenses, creatures from beyond, there’s nothing that doesn’t have living creatures all over it, the stage of childhood, no amount of cleaning will ever let you escape these creatures, gut flora, scrubbing clean the world, a nightmare, Tillinghast’s monologues, look through this telescope look through this microscope,

Foremost among the living objects were inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. these things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantly obliterating the latter from sight. Shudderingly I felt that I knew what had obliterated the unfortunate servants, and could not exclude the things from my mind as I strove to observe other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around us.

not only can we see these things they can see us, ignorance as protection, The Silence (Doctor Who), the size of the Earth in relation to the size of the universe, washing the dishes, incommensurate, Tillinghast a mad scientist,

We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the sense we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers….I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognized sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.”

peering to the “bottom of creation” unicellular life, deep into space and back into time, an analogy for the product of science, despair, a 17th century gentleman, an anglophile, From Beyond or The Hound Of Tindalos have jobs, this story is talking about something real, Banshee Chapter, down the rabbit hole, drugs created by the CIA, that’s a real fucked up story, Lovecraftian and Dickian, an acid trip, effecting dreams, “a bronze gate”, a drug instead of a machine, equally an adaptation of The Hounds Of Tindalos, attuned, pineal gland as a radio transmitter, the “numbers stations” radio queue, one of the strangest true things in our world today, a TV repair shop, the NSA, the electrical circuit brought her dissolution, two guys sitting in a room talking about philosophy, The Render Of Veils by Ramsey Campbell, Daolath, shifting planes and shapes, They Live and Eight O’Clock In The Morning, Tillinghast glasses, the political version of From Beyond, having the veil lifted (fantasy), using glasses or a telescope or a microscope or a drug (science fiction), the fantasy version, patient 11, clairvoyance, The Mist by Stephen King, once unleashed, Tillinghast thinks he is the master of the universe he has created, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, fleeting a demon from the demon star (Algol), the distorted face of Tillinghast in the glowing constellation of our galaxy, passing beyond, being consumed, a very rich little short story, shooting the machine, destroying the window, death by apoplexy, apoplexy is for men, hysteria is for women, neglecting the body, met pets are not pretty, aesthetic standards are very different, disintegration, “trembling, eh?”, “they are coming, curse you look, it’s just over your left shoulder!”, is Tillinghast dead?, was it a hallucination?, what happened to the murdered servant’s bodies?, reader beware, we’re not safe, Banshee Chapter is an even more faithful adaptation than From Beyond (1986), their own predatory ecosystem, master or victim?, existential horror, the great world outside is dark and horrible, insanity shattering, sleep well at night.

From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

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