The SFFaudio Podcast #376 – READALONG: Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne

July 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #376 – Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada talk about Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne.

Talked about on today’s show:
title variations, they don’t go to the center of the Earth, Arne Saknussemm, Lit2Go, the Tim Curry narration, how did the paperwork get out of the Earth?, he was too specific, the knife, what happened to Arne Saknussemm?, barometer, manometer, dead servants, taciturn servants, would you like some bacon cooked on the lava (magma), overdosing on adaptations, comic adaptations, the 2008 Brendan Fraser version (3D movie), fluffy, the nephew-uncle dynamic, a page turner, adding a female expeditionary member, inspiration vs. adaptation, inspired by this book, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the same setup, irascible professors, going for a girl, a forerunner (a person who went before), Maplewhite vs. Saknussemm, dinosaurs, underground journey, subterranean, fun, huge science expositions, Around The World In Eighty Days, the Fantastic Voyages (or Journeys) series, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, Five Weeks In A Balloon, Jules Verne wrote 66 novels!, one of the things he’s doing, visit every place in the world and characterize every nation, Germans and Icelanders and Danes, national personalities, everyone is a cartoon, “stereotype”, a crazy uncle, a light comedy, science vs. adventure, Verne takes us on tours, touring Copenhagen, vicarious travel, adventurous passion, not to poop all over this book, At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this book is missing a 12-foot giantess cave-girl girlfriend, standing on the ceiling of the basement, a vast hollow sphere, Pluto and Porcupine (the roman equivalent of Persephone), Jules Verne’s spelling of Edgar Allan Poe (he called him Edgard Allan Poe), referencing everything, The Sphinx In The Ice, Verne was Poe’s #1 fan, a beautiful tradition, The Green Girl by Jack Williamson, biological phases compared to geological phases, looking at the stars and the earth you’re looking backward in time, the science, the original french version of this book was in 1864, 10 years later the relationship with Germany is fundamentally different, the mechanistic world, 10 years made a hell of a difference, this is a very international book, the humor, I was in love with her, “you could say I adored her (if any such word exists in the German language)”, he’s right about us, Verne is very sly, just like the professor, languages, Verne’s dad tried to make him a lawyer, trying not to be provincial, Virgil and Homer and Shakespeare, “You monument to ignorance”, a zinger in every chapter, “great as it is that asylum is it is not big enough to contain all of Professor Lidenbrock’s madness”, you have no vision, “I care nothing about seeing magnificent spectacles”, a walking tour of Copenhagen, crawling up the stairs, Axel’s maturity (or lack thereof), the names, Henry vs. Axel, Lidenbrock vs. Hardwigg, the different translations [the Professor’s name is a pun], a secret history, the Saknussemm document becomes the Jules Verne novel in the 2008 movie, the 1959 movie makes the professor Scottish, translations and adaptations to make it more relevant for the audience, Gretchen -> Grauben -> Gretel, bad translations, learning about eiderdown and eiderdown hunters, stealing nest fluff, the science is pretty damn good, you can’t have an adventure to the center of the Earth if the Earth’s center is hot, EVIDENCE!, “everyone is laughing at me, here’s a pterodactyl”, “science is composed of errors, but errors that are right to make”, the ball-lightning, St. Elmo’s fire, the compass problems, almost realistic, Stromboli was Tolkien’s model for Mount Doom, we will not tell them how we actually got here, they said they were shipwrecked (and it is kind of true), dense with humour, history, architecture, an enduring classic, Hans was the opposite of the uncle, characters exchanging personalities, a process of maturation, an inveterate coward and then he craters, the seeds of what he will become, Axel will become like his uncles when he grows older, Verne shows a character’s worst and best sides, a giant fur covered creature pounding his chest -> it’s King Kong!, 16 foot giant bones discovered, a skull the size of a Volkswagen, a moral panic, a real newspaper article, Jesse does an Icelandic accent, The Odyssey, like Professor Challenger, The Poison Belt, aliens, Hans has to get paid every Sunday, Icelandic life is hard, Icelanders are Eskimos without the benefits of being Eskimos, Master, Verne’s racism is a sympathetic racism, Conan Doyle’s internationalism is very different, Burroughs’s characterization, what Verne is doing is cool, I’m not usually the persons who says: “You know what this needs? More romance”, mineralogists, all good characterization, Conan Doyle’s cute cynicism, Burroughs’s hero characters find girls and have them lay some eggs, H. Rider Haggard’s lost worlds were in Africa, adventure types, She!, The People Of The Mist, a White Goddess among the Zulu people, this is sort of Vernianian: science, history, literature and reveling in that knowledge, The Mysterious Island, a parody meme -> Mysterious Island, Nellie Bly, pretending to be insane to see what life in an asylum is like, Librivox, what it’s like to live in Mexico, back when newspapers paid reporters to investigate things, BBC, gravity in the center of the Earth would pull you in every direction, BBC Radio 4: In Our Time on the Earth’s core, biology is taught wrong, there names are what they do, telling rocks apart at a glance, smell, sound, taste, rocks can be tested it with your body, on the final exam in geology they give you a tray full of rocks, the ferrous iron taste of the water, Hans brock water, flood that whole compartment (luckily it was the size of the Earth), draining the Mediterranean, Verne is the second most translated author in the world, looking at it from our perspective today, Ben Hur, Lew Wallace, do your own abridging.

Scholastic - A Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne - cover art by Mort Kuntsler

A Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne - T618

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - adapted for BOYS' LIFE (1995)

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Jim Thiesen

Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Journey To The Center Of The Earth - illustrated by Patrick Whelan

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Stonehenge Gate by Jack Williamson

January 30, 2007 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Stonehenge Gate by Jack Williamson, read by Harlan EllisonThe Stonehenge Gate
By Jack Williamson; Read by Harlan Ellison
7 CDs – 8.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 9780786146550 (Cassette), 9780786174119 (MP3-CD), 9780786167784 (CD)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Stargate / Journey / Slavery / Evolution / Aliens /

Click here for audio sample.

This is Jack Williamson’s last book, at least it’s the last book published in his lifetime. The man has had a long career, a very long career. Jack’s first story was published in the fairly new Amazing Stories in 1928. Jack has been able to adapt his fiction to the changing and maturing literature that we call Science Fiction, again and again.

One admirable quality of Jack’s work that remained consistent over the nine decades in which he wrote, was his ability to tell a good yarn. His stories can always hold your attention, and he never forgot to have a beginning, middle and an end. This may sound like a trait that all writers should have, but it is really not the case. This always kept Jack’s works above the average SF writer.

In The Stonehenge Gate, we have four poker buddies that find a gateway into other worlds. The four characters are academics who are excavating a site under the sands of the Sahara. Will is an English Professor who narrates the story. Ram is an African professor who has a strange birthmark that mimics the shape of the Stonehenge Gate that they find. Stranger still is that the birthmark seems to be hereditary.

They soon pass into many new worlds throughout this novel. The majority of the novel takes place in a world inhabited by a preindustrial society with institutionalized black slavery. The characters have to grapple with functioning in this world while supporting abolishinest causes. There’s a dark quality to this part of the journey that has more than a passing nod to Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness.

Harlan Ellison’s narration is spectacular. This is likely the only audiobook that is written by one SF Grand Master and read by another. Of course, there aren’t any SF Grandmaster’s that have also won an Audie award like Harlan has. Harlan throws himself into his acting. He’s energized and seems to be convincingly living the parts he’s portraying to a greater degree than can be said of most voice actors.

How does this book stack up against the rest of the Williamson cannon? I don’t believe this is one of Jack’s best books nor one of his lesser efforts. Placing it somewhere in the middle. But in the case of Jack, that’s a pretty damn good book.

Review of Cell by Stephen King

May 23, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Editor’s note: Our newest reviewer, a mysterious gent from the future known only as The Time Traveler, debuts on SFFaudio with this review of Stephen King’s latest. Be sure to sit down and read it before you pick up your cell phone.

Science Fiction & Horror Audiobook - Cell by Stephen KingCell
By Stephen King; Read by Campbell Scott
8 Cassettes or 12 CDs – 12.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio / Recorded Books
Published: 2006
ISBN: 0743554329 (Cassette), 0743554337 (CD)
Themes: / Horror / Science Fiction / Apocalypse / Zombies/ Journey /
Survivors / Terrorism

There’s a reason why cell rhymes with hell.

Stephen King’s latest book is a return to form for this master of horror. In it, everyone with a cell phone goes stark raving mad after they receive some kind of pulse through their cell. The pulse, likely sent by terrorists, wipes the victims’ minds clean. This story takes no time to get started. Within the first few minutes, you are drawn into this nightmare scenario, steeped in gore and horror.

The main character, Clayton Riddell, finds himself in Boston when the pulse drives the majority of people biting, scratching, and murderously mad. He is joined by a band of likable characters as they set off to get out of Boston. Meanwhile the victims of the pulse start behaving more like Zombies and start flocking together and evolving with even more unexpected behavior.

Much of this material is familiar ground for King. But the narrative drive is strong, and it doesn’t drag with shear verbosity as King’s writing sometimes does. Campbell Scott reads the audiobook. Scott is a very competent narrator who’s also a film actor and has appeared in movies like The Exorcism of Emily Rose. His narration is restrained and subdued which works well with the apocalyptic horror being described. His Boston accents are excellent without being overdone. He’s also the son of the late George C. Scott.

I’ve got two qualms with the audiobook. If it’s unabridged, shouldn’t it contain the dedication? I picked up the hardcover edition at the store and found it was dedicated to George Romero and Richard Matheson. George Romero was the director and writer of the Night of the Living Dead and it’s sequels. Richard Matheson wrote the seminal post-apocalyptic vampire novel, I am Legend, in 1954. There is no dedication on the audiobook. Doesn’t unabridged mean word for word? The dedication definitely foreshadows what kind of novel Cell is to be.

Also there are places in the second half of the book where the narrative voice totally changes. It sounds as if they needed some pick-ups done, to fix small mistakes, and Mr. Scott was not available so they plugged someone else in. Overall these are small distractions, and the audiobook is a hard to turn-off listen.