Themes: / horror / numismatists / hidey-holes / secrets /
What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down?
When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.
The audio version of this longish short story clocks in at three hours and thirty-three minutes. It harbors no SF, fantasy, or supernatural components, which frequently inhabit King’s works. This is a straightforward horror/suspense piece. But for a few slack portions of the narrative, the pacing is pleasing, the exposition is handled briskly and cleanly, and the characters feel genuine rather than clunky marionettes.
The murder details are gruesome and chilling, and at least one crime involves a child. What would we do if suddenly the person we thought we knew the most turned out to be a psychotic stranger? Well, some of us might fight for justice. Others may simply, and quietly, acquiesce, and hope that the bad things will blow away on a summer wind.
King’s knack for building tension through honest character behavior delivers a deep sense of atmosphere. The writing is typical King, and the absence of flowery adjectives combined with sturdy nouns and verbs only bolsters the work, cracking that bell of authenticity harder.
Jessica Hecht is the narrator. Initially I found her delivery over the top and forced. But as the reading progressed, and I felt my way into her rhythm and style of narration, I realized her interpretation really did feel true to the characters.
I think fans of King will find this appealing, and most likely will have already read this in the collection Full Dark, No Stars . But I doubt that newcomers to King will want to start with this piece.
Posted by Casey Hampton.
The Future for Curious People
By Gregory Sherl; Narrated by Heather Corrigan and Justin Torres
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2 September 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours, 30 minutes
Themes: / near future / technology / relationships / librarians /
Meet Evelyn and Godfrey. Evelyn is breaking up with her boyfriend, who’s passing out advertisements for his band on a snowy street corner in Baltimore. She’s seen their dismal future together at Dr. Chin’s office: she and her boyfriend, both many years older, singing “Happy Birthday” to a Chihuahua and arguing about cheese. She hopes for more. Meanwhile, Godfrey is proposing to his girlfriend, Madge, who’s not quite willing to take that leap; she wants to see their future together first—just to be sure they’re meant for each other. The Future for Curious People follows Evelyn and Godfrey’s soon-to-be-entwined lives, set in motion by the fabulist premise of a world with envisionists like Dr. Chin. In struggling with their pasts and possible futures, the characters encounter the mysteries of sorrow, love, death, and fate. It’s a story that will capture you with its brightness, its hopefulness, its anxious twists and turns. It is a love story that is ultimately a statement about happiness and how to accept our fleeting existence.
This was a highly enjoyable book about people who can’t help but look into their relationship futures, with great consequences to their current entanglements. The two narrators on the audiobook portray Godfrey Burkes and Evelyn the Librarian very well, alongside distinguishable minor characters with different voices. The varieties of futures don’t get old, in fact they relate to one another and connect to the futures of other characters, as they should.
The book made me laugh quite a few times – it’s the kind of humor that’s just cute, like a romantic comedy. I’m a sucker for light, cute stories when the characters are bookish or quirky or otherwise unusual. This fits the bill!
Posted by Jenny Colvin
Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories
By Megan Mayhew Bergman; Read by Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 hours, 28 minutes
Publication Date: November 2012
Themes: / birds / animals / relationships / parents / cancer / literary /
An “astonishing debut collection, by a writer reminiscent of such greats as Alice Munro, Elizabeth Strout, and even Chekhov” (Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants), focusing on women navigating relationships with humans, animals, and the natural world. Exploring the way our choices and relationships are shaped by the menace and beauty of the natural world, Megan Mayhew Bergman’s powerful and heartwarming collection captures the surprising moments when the pull of our biology becomes evident, when love or fear collides with good sense, or when our attachment to an animal or wild place can’t be denied.
This book came out in print in March 2012, and the audiobook was new in November.
The title is apropos – while the stories aren’t about birds exactly, most of them do seem to include animals in some way – many birds, but also ferrets, dogs, sheep, cats, even a chinchilla.
The author is at her strongest when she writes about relationships, particularly when they have failed because of issues the people can’t control – death, disease, savior complex, you name it. The most powerful story to me was the first one – Housewifely Arts – that tells the story of a woman and her young son, driving to visit her deceased mother’s bird, just to hear her voice one more time. Wow. I will remember it for a long time. It also takes place in a city that I know well on the coast of South Carolina, which also brought it to life.
Yesterday’s Whales demonstrates what happens when your life deters from your Values, while Every Vein a Tooth demonstrates what can happen when you stick to them. Both are heartbreaking and memorable. The Right Company, with the weird salve of the obese food writer, is one story with unique, super southern characters.
The Artificial Heart was probably my least favorite story, because the vision it attempts of a post-fish dystopic Florida was not quite as successful as the painful realities of the other stories.
Most of the stories are set in the south, which is where Bergman grew up, with one set in Vermont where she lives now. The stories are read by Cassandra Campbell, who does a great job with subtle changes in accents, vocal tone, and pacing. (I’ve heard her before, as one of the readers for the Cloud Atlas audiobook.)
Posted by Jenny Colvin
Yet another story in SFFaudio’s 7th Anniversary Exposition of Excellent Stories! Step right up…
Eros, Philia, Agape
By Rachel Swirsky; Read by Rachel Swirsky
1 Hour 12 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tor.com (Tor Story Podcast #013)
Themes: / Science Fiction / Love / Robots / Divorce / Children / Relationships /
Adriana shrugged. “They’re all beautiful, right?”
“We’ll need specifications.”
“I don’t have specifications.”
The salesman frowned anxiously. He shifted his weight as if it could help him regain his metaphorical footing. Adriana took pity. She dug through her purse.
“There,” she said, placing a snapshot of her father on one of the display tables. “Make it look nothing like him.”
I’ve been really lucky this month. I’ve listened to thirteen stories, and they’ve all been winners. This one may be the best of the lot!
Adriana goes through with the purchase in that scene above – she buys herself a robot husband named Lucian. She then has a baby named Rose. Though Rose has none of Lucian’s DNA (he has none to give, of course), this is a family. The decision to purchase a robot whose body is made to order and whose personality can be molded to fit does not prevent relationship problems, though. It introduces different ones.
You can probably tell from just that short section that Adriana is a character with a lot of internal conflict. I immediately cared about her, and Lucian, and little Rose. This is a wonderful story that I’ll be reading again.
You can grab the story |HERE|
Or subscribe to the Tor Story Podcast at this link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/TorDotStories
Posted by Scott D. Danielson