The SFFaudio Podcast #382 – READALONG: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

August 15, 2016 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #382 – Jesse, Paul, Julie Davis, and Maissa talk about Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.

Talked about on today’s show:
1921, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the morality of this character, on his high horse, betraying the Revolution, completely detached, everybody in this novel is morally gray, maddeningly indistinct, not a hero, historical explanation, that is why the book is named “Scaramouche”, he is the goad, acting as Scaramouche, Aline holds up the virtue, the epitaph on Sabatini’s gravestone, a Prisoner Of Zenda situation, based on somebody real, “A Romance Of The French Revolution”, incendiary speeches, the “Paladin of the Third”, critiquing the excesses of the French Revolution, pro-Jacobean, the character has knowledge of the future, excusing a lot of the morality, we don’t know what he’s thinking until he opens his mouth, good writing, “the tiger is the great lord of the jungle…”, hunting the tiger, solidifying what the revolution meant, dual (duel) motivation, playing the actor, foreshadowing, acting, taking on the role of actor (orator and paladin), a Heinleinian hyper-competent character, the author forces the other Scaramouche off-stage, the comedy and drama, a great sequence, becoming the mask, the inner portion of his life is reflected out on to the stage, he is himself as his purest expression, he is best as Scaramouche, he’s happiest and most content as himself as Scaramouche, you did WHAT with WHO?, we are all the sport of destiny, why look at adaptations, the 1952 movie, dad vs. brother, liberty, equality fraternity, the Robe, Omnus Omnibus, the Buskin, the Sword, enraging the audience, the privileged estates, it becomes very meta, William Shakespeare, a horrible sequel (Scaramouche: The Kingmaker), the puppetry, the author is puppetting the characters, traditional swashbuckler, The Princess Pride without the comedy, other ways of telling the story, a revenge tale, A Tale Of Two Cities, Nicholas Nickleby, reading old books, writers who were ravenous readers first, Donald Westlake (Richard Stark), the Parker series, roll and repeat adventures, Scaramouche is just living, accessory criminals, Alan Grofield is an actor/criminal who gets his own spin-off series, The Score by Richard Stark, The Damsel, The Dame, The Blackbird, Benet, there is the other way…, Sabatini’s weakness is his third act, in the center of Islam, Simon Vance’s narration of Scaramouche, Gord Mackenzie’s narration (for LibriVox), expletive deleted, name of name!, in keeping with the 19th century literary tradition, a lost tale of the French Revolution, Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg, wandering Scaramouche-style, juggling, waking-up with amnesia, quasi-global government, The Old Curiosity Shop, commedia dell’arte, pantomime, improv, Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, pantaloon, harlequin, the little skirmisher, Shakespeare’s types, a learned-fool, a brooding older man, the maiden -> the nurse -> the matron, you’re playing pantaloon, more meta, reading books to become a fencing master, the opening is rather boring, but soon after we’re in a sword-fight, the man-on-the-run genre, as a lawyer, taking sides, raising and destroying a company, the trainee becomes the master, friendship, friendships that betray him, caring enough, carrying on a legacy, sucking up to power, at heart a good guy despite the threats, in bed or on board, the 1952 adaptation’s ending is better than the novel’s, a young Corsican officer, played for comedy, the seven-minute fight in the theater, I will meet you behind the cathedral, killing members of the titled classes, weird morality, shooting a good guy and forgiving the man you’re after revenge for, Mel Ferrer, “he had a string of wives and I understand why”, The Taming Of The Shrew, Stewart Granger, he’s not handsome, aha!, an unhandsome Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, star-quality, The Prisoner Of Zenda, deep into French Revolution politics, the Revolutions Podcast, aristocrats vs. the Third Estate, deep into the weeds, we’re on a powder keg politically (brexit), biting off your own to spite your face, the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the titled (and entitled) classes, the estates: Nobility 1st, Church 2nd, 3rd People, 24% of the population of with 90% of the power, justice for the rich vs. justice for the poor, production efficiency since the French Revolution, the food industry, 1% of the 1%, everybody is fed, far away to the left, the sucking up to power is still around, class betrayal, bastard children, I was betrayed!, everybody is secretly noble, never mind all that revenge, that’s the reality we live in, the book is very realistic, people are people are people, there’s something noble about liberty, equality, fraternity, the resistors to change were pulling dirty tricks, sabotage and betrayal, “noble” and “honorable”, a calculated attack, a professional boxer challenging me to a fist-fight in the street, why dueling is banned, UFC, we should use our words (lawyers), Jesse went off, same sex relationships in 1796, can we not get passed this?, they freed every slave, a very honorable action, high morality, Alexandre Dumas’ father, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, Napoleon is a sketchy character, the Haitian Revolution, the Church’s stranglehold on France is gone, Quebec, the Quiet Revolution, Napoleon literally sold Louisiana out, Captain Blood, slavery in Barbados, many many pirates, given our success with Scaramouche … could a LibriVox narrator record Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk?

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini - Famous Authors Illustrated
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini - Famous Authors Illustrated

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #200 – READALONG: Mars Needs Books! by Gary Lovisi

February 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #200 – Jesse, Mirko, and Gary Lovisi discuss the Science Fiction novel Mars Needs Books! by Gary Lovisi.

Talked about on today’s show:
the great description,, it’s a prison novel, it’s a dystopian science fiction novel, it’s a book collector’s novel, Philip K. Dick, a reality dysfunction, The Man In The High Castle, 1984 by George Orwell, “retconning“, Stalin, airbrushing history, a new Science Fiction idea!, Amazon’s Kindle, Mark Twain, “The Department Of Control”, J. Edgar Hoover, Simon is the most evil character ever, oddball individualists, a straw man gulag, one way of keeping the population in control is to send troublemakers away, another is to give them someone to hate, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, the Attica Prison riot (1971), Arabella Rashid, entertainment media, when you can’t tell what the truth is anymore it’s very easy to control people, maybe it’s an allegory for our times, Paperback Parade, SF writers were wrong about what our times are like, Mars, crime novels, Science Fiction as a metaphor, people are scared of reading, “I like good writing”, Richard Stark’s Parker novels, getting the word out about Mars Needs Books!, Gargoyle Nights, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, horror, fantasy, nice and short, short books pack a punch (and don’t waste your time), Stephen King, Patrick O’Brian, ideas, paperback novels from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, customers want thick books, Winter In Maine by Gerard Donovan, were looking at a different readership today, James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, there’s nothing that doesn’t add to the story, “Lawrence Block is scary good”, Donald E. Westlake, Robert Bloch, Eight Million Ways To Die, A Pair Of Recycled Jeans by Lawrence Block, Evan Hunter (Ed McBain), Charles Ardai (was on SFFaudio Podcast #090), book-collectors, Murder Of A Bookman by Gary Lovisi (is also on, collectable glassware, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, cool dialogue, Driving Hell’s Highway by Gary Lovisi (also on, That Hell-bound Train by Robert Bloch, noir, Violence Is The Only Solution by Gary Lovisi (paperback), hard-boiled, revenge, betrayal, personality disorder, Sherlock Holmes, westerns, “if there’s one truth in the universe that I know it’s that Germans love westerns”, which frontier are you talking about?, The Wild Bunch, a western with tommyguns, Akira Kurosawa, Outland (is High Noon in space), Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, hard-boiled, violence, the Martian national anthem, Prometheus Award, libertarian motifs, world-building,, Hurricane Sandy, Wildside Press, POD Books, eBooks, fire and water, that paperback is still in readable condition in 150 years?, fanzines, Jack Vance, The Dying Earth, Robert Silverberg, Dell Mapbacks, paperbacks were disposable, used bookstores, sex books.

Audible - Mars Needs Books! by Gary Livosi

Posted by Jesse Willis

“Parker” movie is based on Flashfire by Richard Stark

October 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, News 

Aural Noir: News

My buddy Trent, of the Violent World Of Parker blog, has been closely following the developments surrounding the latest Donald E. Westlake (aka Richard Stark) related film. Here’s the trailer for Parker:

Trent points out, in his post, that the movie’s plot looks like it closely follows that of Flashfire, one of the better books from near the end of the long running series. Now Flashfire was released by Books On Tape in 2001, but it is now available on HERE. If you listen to the sample there you can compare it to the trailer.

In a Midwestern city, Parker calmly tosses a firebomb through a plate-glass window, while some newfound partners in crime take down a nearby bank. Making their getaway in the confusion, the bank robbers tell him two things: that this heist was only seed money for a much gaudier one, and that Parker has to loan them his share of the take. Now Parker is rampaging through the American South, taking on a new identity as he goes, and planning his own assault on his former partners’ next target, a spectacular jewelry heist in Palm Beach. But Parker didn’t count on one unfortunate detail. A very bad and very stupid man knows his true identity, and wants him dead.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #152 – READALONG: The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

March 19, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #152 – Jesse talks with Trent Reynolds and Paul Westlake about the AudioGo and Hard Case Crime novel The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake.

Talked about on today’s show:
Is The Comedy Is Finished going to be the last Donald E. Westlake novel to be published?, Memory (and our discussion of it), Charles Ardai, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, getting paid is a priority for professional writers, the 1970s, Honeydew, USO tours, Bob Hope, the audiobook experience, Peter Berkrot’s narration of the audiobook of The Comedy Is Finished, Koo Davis, Bob Hope as Red Skelton vs. Bob Hope as Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ricky Gervais, Koo Davis narrates his own POV in the present everyday tense sense, “Westlake is the master of sentence by sentence writing”, “in the moment”, “the god-damned Vietnam thing”, “the real Americans”, the redemption, healing vs. moving on, Ronald Reagan, “new normal”, “the Carter malaise” and “festering wounds”, Larry, Peter, Mark has daddy issues, Joyce, the Dortmunder gang if they were all psychotic, “doing a Westlake”, why do Koo’s boys not look like him?, the role of a father, the mirror scene, “genetics don’t matter in fiction”, fatherhood as a choice, leave the messages to Western Union, character arcs, Lindsey, A Sound Of Distant Drums, radio drama, “there are round characters and there are flat characters”, “oh this is a Westlake”, “Charo has become a bitter old woman”, “a romantic writer”, succinct description, taking plots from real life, The Score, “he can heist anything”, The Mourner, The Stepfather, “that’s pretty much how these work”, three Dortmunder ideas, Kahawa should be an audiobook, California, Burbank, Santa Barbara, Elizabeth Taylor’s biography, Under An English Heaven should be an audiobook too, Anguilla, an option has been taken out on Kahawa, the new Parker movie, Stephen King’s filmography vs. Donald Westlake’s filmography, The Hot Rock, Cops And Robbers (1973), The Split (based on The Seventh), Payback, Les Alexander, The Outfit, City Of Industry, The Sour Lemon Score, Made In U.S.A., the Criterion Collection, it’s Clint Eastwood with internal monologue, a Dortmunder TV series, The Limey, Terence Stamp, Idi Amin, Uganda, “the coffee train”, Enough, Ordo, A Slight Case Of Murder, A Travesty, it’s very hard to be a Westlake expert, the sound a girl makes when you’re kissing her, “it’s just a weird name”, Bob Hope was a knight!, Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, Westlake’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, Westlake’s renunciation of SF, Anarchaos by Curt Clark, “Rolf Malone is a precursor to Parker”, Theodore Bikel (the fiddler in The Fiddler On The Roof), The Risk Profession, Nackles (is great for kids!), The Twilight Zone, Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Nackles, the Starship Hopeful series (available on, Lawrence Block’s fantasy story, SF is very allegorical (and that’s not Westlake), Humans, Westlake’s Smoke vs. Wells’ The Invisible Man, “and everybody’s an asshole”, “everybody one way or another is a jerkoff”, “Joyce goes crazy in the most wonderful way”, a survivor of Chernobyl, “is God really an asshole?”, “angels are assholes”, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Sacred Monster, Get Real, ridicule in print, Money For Nothing, Westlake never lectured, interior thoughts that are so revealing about the shallowness of a character’s nature, Washington, D.C., “moving up the ladder”, “what does Ginger want?”, “it’s fun to play with fire”, “I’ve got to have something”, did Don hate rock and roll?, he liked classical and atonal jazz, “damn hippie”, 99% of politics is pointless, talking to death, Jimmy The Kid (a Parker novel inside of a Dortmunder novel), kidnapping, Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, Patty Hearst, Gangway, Brian Garfield, Spider Robinson’s Dortmunder homage, Lawrence Block, The Sour Lemon Score, Dashiell Hammett, Piers Anthony, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, shiny spaceships, don’t read by genre, read by author, the genre label, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Trent’s beef with Angelica Huston, a period piece, Paul had a problem with John Cusack, J.T. Walsh, Pat Hingle, Annette Bening, “I’ll never look at a bag of oranges the same way”, Donald Westlake: NYC Personified, The Violent World Of Parker website, Nick Jones, Westlake’s bibliography at

AudioGo - The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

Maxim Jakubowski talks about Donald E. Westlake

March 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Recorded at The Groucho Club in January, this two part interview with “writer, editor, collector and former publisher Maxim Jakubowski” is a talk about “the works of crime [and Science Fiction] novelist Donald E. Westlake [and Richard Stark].”


Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: AudioGo: Donald Westlake and Richard Stark

March 2, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Recent Arrivals 

Aural Noir: Recent Arrivals

AudioGo Hard Case CrimeAudioGo, formerly BBC Audiobooks America and formerly Chivers Audio, has a terrific MP3 download program up and running. It works similarly to Tantor Media, with similar pricing. You can get DRM free MP3 downloads via after a quick sign up. I just tried it out and found it works really well, almost without a hitch, and doesn’t even require a software download (though that is optional). The files come down as Zipped MP3s, numbered and ready for use. There’s even cover art embedded!

First up, it’s the subject for our next Donald E. Westlake readalong! And apparently the last novel of Westlake’s ever – I have a feeling that Hard Case Crime will dig around until they find a few more – at least I hope they do! That said, this is actually a novel that’s never been published before – and comes from the middle of his writing career. I’m very much looking forward to hearing…

The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake; Read by Peter Berkrot – Approx. 10 Hours 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The year is 1977, and America is finally getting over the nightmares of Watergate and Vietnam and the national hangover that was the 1960s. But not everyone is ready to let it go. Not aging comedian Koo Davis, friend to generals and presidents and veteran of countless USO tours to buck up American troops in the field. And not the five remaining members of the self-proclaimed People’s Revolutionary Army, who’ve decided that kidnapping Koo Davis would be the perfect way to bring their cause back to life…

AudioGo - The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

I read The Hook, and loved The Hook, years ago. It was first published in 1990 and may have been the first William Dufris narrated novel I’ve ever heard. It’s a wonderful audiobook and a great book about the publishing industry, writing and murder.

The Hook by Donald E. Westlake; Read by William Dufris – Approx. 7 Hours 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Bryce Proctorr has a multimillion-dollar contract for his next novel, a trophy wife raking him over the coals of a protracted divorce, a bad case of writer’s block, and an impending deadline. Wayne Prentice is a fading author in a world that no longer values his work. He’s gone through two pseudonyms, watched his book sales shrivel, and is contemplating leaving the writing life. Proctorr has a proposition: If Prentice will hand over his unsold manuscript to publish under Proctorr’s name, the two will split the book advance fifty-fifty. There’s just one small rider to the deal…

AudioGo - The Hook by Donald E. Westlake

Also by Westlake, but written under his Richard Stark pseudonym, The Seventh is the seventh book in a long running series of terrific crime novels about a heister named Parker. This new audiobook edition features a new narration by Westlake veteran Stephen R. Thorne! The old one, recorded for Books On Tape by Michael Kramer, is long out of print. The only thing lacking from this edition is the Luc Sante introduction (which is even advertized on the cover art below).

The Seventh by Richard Stark (aka Donald E. Westlake); Read by Stephen R. Thorne – Approx. 4 Hours 26 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

The robbery was a piece of cake. The getaway was clean. And seven men were safely holed up in different places while Parker held all the cash. But somehow the sweet heist of a college football game turns sour, Parker’s woman is murdered, and the take is stolen. Now Parker’s looking for the lowlife who did him dirty, while the cops are looking for seven clever thieves-and Parker must outrun them all. When hunters and hunted meet, some win, some lose…

AudioGo - The Seventh by Richard Stark

Posted by Jesse Willis

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