The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service

June 23, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxThe Cremation Of Sam McGee
By Robert W. Service; Read by Katie Gibboney
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [POETRY]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 30, 2007
First published in in 1907.

The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d “sooner live in hell”.

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead — it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows — O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May”.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here”, said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared — such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”;. . . then the door I opened wide.

The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm —
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

There is also a solid NPR reading (read by Scott Simon and Daniel Pinkwater) |MP3|

And, NPR also has Johnny Cash’s reading:

[unsigned images from Sense And Feeling edited by R.J. Scott]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Nightmares on Congress Street Part IV

October 21, 2005 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - Nightmares on Congress Street 4Nightmares on Congress Street Part IV
by Various, performed by the Rocky Coast Radio Theatre
1 MP3-CD – 2 Hours 35 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Paperback Digital
Published: 2004
ISBN: 1584390069
Themes: / Horror / Poetry / Zombies / Poe / Cremation /

“Nightmares on Congress Street” is a radio show that has been broadcast each Halloween Eve since 2001. This is “Part IV” because it’s a recording of the 4th annual broadcast. It’s not “Part IV” in the sense that you need to run out and find parts I-III before listening to this one. As far as I know, they aren’t available. The shows are recorded by a group of theatrical professionals from the Portland, ME area, and are broadcast on Maine Public Radio.

It’s rare that I hear something modern that captures the spirit of Halloween. Sure, there’s some scary stuff out there, and some funny scary stuff out there, but “Nightmares on Congress Street” really catches the fun spirit of Halloween. There are scares and laughs in good measure throughout, and you’d be hard-pressed to find better production quality anywhere.

Included here are six productions:

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
A mummified monkey’s paw seems to grant wishes, but, as always, a person should be careful what he wishes for.

The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service
The cover doesn’t list who does which part, but the actor who performed this horror poem was just fabulous. The poem tell the story of Sam McGee, who stumbles into the camp of a cowboy, and who asks that cowboy to make sure to cremate him if he dies.

The Cabin in the Woods by Clay T. Graybeal
A bunch of folks go to a cabin to spend some time, but doesn’t that plant outside look like someone we know? Ridiculous.

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe
One of the finest renditions of this Poe classic that I’ve ever heard.
The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled –but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity.
And punish he does. Bravo to the actors on this one.

The Librarian by Rhonda Carlson
This piece is done by Rhonda Carlson, Rocky Coast Radio Theatre’s composer. Delightful mayhem, this one.

The Horror of Walker Point by Anthony S. Marino
This one is an excellent tale right out of George Romero’s playbook. It is performed in a kind of “War of the Worlds” style – regular programming is interrupted for important news about a chemical spill. As more and more people are affected by these chemicals, the newscasters bravely stay on the air.

I thoroughly enjoyed this production, and am eager to hear this year’s show!

You can get this title at Paperback Digital, Audible, and at Tantor.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Scary Stories with Alan Maitland by Various

August 4, 2005 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Horror Audiobook - Scary Stories by Alan MaitlandScary Stories with Alan Maitland
By various; Performed By Alan Maitland
1 Cassette – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: CBC Radio
Published: 2002
ISBN: 0660187825
Themes: / Horror / Classics / Family / Short Stories /

Alan Maitland is a veteran Canadian Broadcasting Corporation broadcaster, who reads seven classic horror stories and poems here. The cassette makes for quality family listening, and Maitland reads with energy and enjoyment.

My favorite of the group is The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s true that I’ve read it several times and have heard it performed a couple of other times, but still – I enjoy it every time, and did again here. The heart beats below the floorboards, and Maitland helps us feel it.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes is a classic poem. I know it best from Loreena McKennitt’s musical version, and it was interesting to hear the poem read aloud.

Other stories and poems included on the 1 hour cassette: Goblins Who Stole a Sexton by Charles Dickens, The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service, The Witches’ Convention and Reunion of the Night Creatures by Rose Robert, and An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce.

The whole recording had a sort of Ray Bradbury feel to it, but that could be because I identify Bradbury so strongly with Halloween. This audio would be a worthwhile and appropriate purchase for family listening.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson