The SFFaudio Podcast #240 – READALONG: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

November 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #240 – Jesse, Scott, Julie Davis, and Bryan Alexander discuss Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Talked about on today’s show:
The 1818 edition versus the 1831 edition, the half-made up prologue, Leaves Of Grass, are there any body changes?, “the corpus”, Downpour.com’s version with Simon Templeman, Anthony Heald, Stefan Rudnicki, Frankenstein vs. the monster, creature, wretch, demon, insect, incoherent with rage, face to face, moving on, the fainting hero or heroine, swooning, Lovecraftian fainting, cosmic horror, Herbert West: Re-Animator, Young Frankenstein, Cool Air by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, M.R. James, becoming god, why are we reading a book by a teenager from almost 200 years ago, Edinborough, the broken reader, Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, etymology, Paradise Lost, Gulliver’s Travels, Percy Shelley, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Caliban, The Tempest, Science!, hey I’m killing your family and stuff, Spirits!, Russia, the Arctic, Prospero, Caliban the dogsbody, Sycorax, the pre-science world to the science world, Christopher Marlowe, “I’ll burn my books!”, the education of young Victor, religious swearing, Brian Aldiss, spark, the electrical element, Galvani and the frog’s legs, more chemical (than electrical), the Romantics, the heart of the the book, “the modern Prometheus”, nature, the North Pole, Siberia, Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams by William Godwin, berries and nuts, vegetarianism, the bringing of fire, The Wonderstick (the coming of the bow) “spooky action at a distance”, fire as technology, Eric S. Rabkin, fire -> knowledge -> enlightenment, the blasted oak, the family tree destroyed, this mortal clay, body stealing, Burke and Hare (are a lot of fun), ‘there are some things man was not meant to know’, a motherless monster, Young Frankenstein, what’s so cool about Young Frankenstein is that it solves the problems caused by previous movie adaptations, “Hey there handsome”, is the creature really hideous?, “a very Jewish movie”, “this is a boy that the world will love”, community, Victor had no Igor, Eyegor, or Fritz, well formed, euphemisms, dull yellow eye, proportionate limbs, is he veiny?, black and flowing hear, a pearly whiteness, a feminist novel, a misogynist fantasy, the framing narrative, males behaving badly, Gothic, gender coding, the curse of the Frankensteins, Frau Blücher, the Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Frankenstein, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Justine (and the lack of justice she receives), Anne Rice, “I’m never going to sleep again”, the path of evil, Victor had a temper, the abnormal brain (Abbie someone), a “blank slate”, Henry Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein retcons the book and the 1931 movie (and the Hammer movies), Froderick Frankenstein, Boris Karloff, Transylvania Station, The Body Snatcher, Robert Louis Stevenson, The Black Cat (1934), Bela Lugosi, a movie from a parallel dimension, the perfect romantic character, the “noble savage” and the “blank slate”, flowery language and obfuscation, a baby story, that’s Science Fiction right there, an eight foot baby, how do we detect the world, what is light?, a blind man given sight, sphere vs. pyramid, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, an urbane monster, the ideal syllabus, Mary Shelley is showing the heck off, Paradise Lost, The Sorrows Of Young Werther, suicide, Lives Of The Noble Greeks And Romans by Plutarch, Ruins Of Empires by Constantin-François de Volney, Frankenstein’s lab notes, Safie, the Ottoman Empire, Turkey as a proxy for European society, Olaf Stapledon, the hapless fate of the aboriginals of North America, Shelley’s hanging out with radicals, an anti-American dream, three years after the fall of Napoleon, Lord Byron, dreams, “how are we living with each other?”, Prometheus Unbound, The Last Man, Prometheus should be our hero, Harlan Ellison, Walton, Bryan’s dissertation was on Frankenstein, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, At The Mountain Of Madness, Star Trek, doppelgangers, doubles all the way down, perfectly symmetrical, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, Melmoth The Wanderer by Charles Maturin, The Saragossa Manuscript by Count Jan Potocki, the fire and ice, “in the cottage we are the monster”, lookism, when they see the monster, “as a lion rends the antelope”, Blade Runner‘s ending, all those murders, a child having a temper-tantrum, where you gonna get that wood?, standing on an ice-floe, Dante’s Inferno and the final circle of hell, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Bryan reads Frankenstein every year, teaching Frankenstein in high-school, a perfect ending, is the monster still out there?, Edison’s 1910 film adaptation of Frankenstein (it’s 10 minutes), imagine Tesla adapting Frankenstein, a shameless self-promoter, “Victory Frankenstein fucked with Mother Nature, and She bore him a strong son”, ‘there are some things that man was not meant to know’, Walton wants to find the source of the pole’s magnetism, “it’s not just loving your family – it’s also loving your fellow being”, “if you make a mistake – own up”, Walton learns from the story, Young Frankenstein, it’s an ethics book, mad scientists, a Kennedy son, Moby Dick, C.L.R. James, a ship as a microcosm of society, “I smell readalong!”, Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power by Andrew Nagorski, “the kids loved Uncle ‘Dolf”, “charisma leaking out all over the place”, charisma and beauty, a bear doesn’t understand charisma, real-life parallels, what is the function of Henry Clerval in the book, is he us?, a homoerotic reading, Percy and Bryon go hiking, it’s Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, World’s End, Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Elizabeth’s provenance and the weird relationship with her cousin/brother/owner Victor, a subterranean psychodrama, Victor’s wild dream in which Elizabeth dies and then turns into his mom, grave worms, a maternal figure and a corpse.

Theodor von Holst - Frankenstein

Frankenstein - illustration (possibly by Ernie Chan)

Frankenstein

FRANKENSTEIN - The Bride Of The Monster - illustration by Mike Ploog

FRANKENSTEIN - illustration by Dino Castrillo

These Books Make Me Feel...

LEGOized Frankenstein

The Creation Of Frankenstein's Creature - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4 + RA.cc: JAMES BOND: From Russia With Love RADIO DRAMA

Aural Noir: Online Audio

From Russia With Love is the third James Bond RADIO DRAMA made for BBC Radio 4 by the wife and husband team of Rosalind Ayres and Martin Jarvis. And it’s absolutely wonderful!

Compared to the movie adaptation, which complicates the plot and adds in more action sequences, this radio drama versio of the novel is much more of a straight-up espionage thriller. In fact it’s so straight-up it feels kind of like an episode of The Sandbaggers. Smart, realistic, gritty. But as with any Bond tale it’s also loaded with sexiness. I’m really in awe at the skill and scale of these adaptations.

Toby Stephens is absolutely terrific as Bond. And Olga Fedori, the spy who loves him, is the best “Bond girl” I’ve ever heard. Fedori plays Corporal Tatiana Romanova, the a Soviet state assigned seductress of 007. She’s a pawn in a game being played by SMERSH, the counter-intelligence agency of the Red Army.

Within the luxurious ninety minutes of the play you get a real sense of a story being told.

When I watch the James Bond movies it rarely occurs to me that there’s much of a plot in between the action sequences. In fact, I don’t well recall any of the Bond movie plots very distinctly. The movies, even though I mostly love them, are more apt to treat the plot’s premise as an excuse to get to the next exotic location or to the next fantastic stunt sequence. They’re more cartoon than novel. Not so with this adaption. Colonel Rosa Klebb, one of the big baddies of both, is creepy like she is in the movie, but with this radio adaptation you’ll almost feel bad for her in her later scenes. The one liners are there, but they’re not laughing jokes as much as they are punctuation marks for the gallows humour of Bond.

The radio drama adaptation offers a two kinds of Russian love, the sentimental and the soft, and the hard and the ruthless.

Indeed, the intimacy of audio version is amazing. Bundled up snugly on the Orient Express with the two sexy cold war era spies is a wondrous treat you can’t afford to let yourself miss.

Olga Fedori as Tatiana Romanova and Toby Stephens as James Bond

BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccSFFaudio EssentialFrom Russia With Love
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 87 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play
Broadcast: July 21, 2012
Provider: RadioArchive.cc
It’s 1955 and the Russians plan an act of terrorism. Choice of target? James Bond. To be ‘killed with ignominy’: a major sex scandal will leave his reputation, and that of MI6, in tatters. Colonel Rosa Klebb of the KGB devises a plan to lure Bond into their trap, using beautiful Corporal Tatiana Romanova as bait – plus a Spektor, the latest Russian decoding device. MI6 learns that Tatiana wants to defect and ‘M’ orders Bond to Istanbul. When Tatiana makes contact she seems to be in love with him – but is she? Either way, he soon falls for her and they leave Istanbul together, accompanied by larger-than-life Darko Kerim, Head of British Intelligence in Turkey. The climax of the drama includes a surprising confrontation between Bond and the murderous Rosa Klebb. In writer Archie Scottney’s brilliantly evocative ‘radio screenplay’, we see another side to 007. Unsure of his judgement, can he bring the lovely Tatiana safely to England, along with the precious Spektor? Will the Russians succeed in having Bond killed? If so, who is the would-be murderer?

Cast:
General/Rene ….. John Sessions
Kronsteen ….. Mark Gatiss
Major/KGB director/Barman ….. Jon Glover
Rosa Klebb ….. Eileen Atkins
James Bond ….. Toby Stephens
May ….. Aileen Mowat
‘M’ …… John Standing
Moneypenny ….. Janie Dee
‘Q’ ….. Julian Sands
Kerim ….. Tim Pigott-Smith
Manager/Conductor ….. Matthew Wolf
Tatiana ….. Olga Fedori
Announcer ….. Micky Stratford
Nash ….. Nathaniel Parker
Ian Fleming ….. Martin Jarvis

Specially composed music by Mark Holden and Michael Lopez

Director: Martin Jarvis
Producer: Rosalind Ayres
A Jarvis & Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.

From Russia With Love

Tatiana Romanova, the Hagia Sophia, and the Orient Express

Trailer for the movie version:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4X + RA.cc: Topkapi by Eric Ambler

June 1, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 ExtraRadioArchives.ccAccording to the Wikipedia entry, BBC Radio 7 was renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra back in April. I’m not much for re-branding – it’s a grubby little idea that makes me think of scientific management, focus groups and meetings … endless … unproductive … meetings. The more I think about meetings the less I want to think.

Hopefully the new name will last a few years, and then perhaps BBC management can go ahead and arrange to have a meeting about considering the update of their antiquated delivery methods – perhaps they’ve already started as I hear they’ve finally dropped RealAudio (the web’s first big audio technology).

Speaking of delivery methods, I discovered my first interesting BBC Radio 4 Extra offering over on RadioArchive.cc. RA.cc is my favourite site for public radio, its chock full of great taxpayer funded programming. The site is extremely well organized and make even people who are wary of the word “torrent” comfortable with the technology. Files are, naturally, in the MP3 format, and when well seeded, a program the size of Topkapi will take only about TEN minutes to download. That’s service folks!

Topkapi, aka The Light Of Day, is a 1962 novel Eric Ambler. I’d heard about it – but until it showed up on RadioArchive.cc I never even thought to investigate it. Well, after investigating it turns out that The Light Of Day was an Edgar Award winning novel, 1964, and has a fair cachet in espionage and crime fiction circles. The name change, for this reading, was likely done to remind BBC listeners of the movie – Topkapi is pretty famous, the Ottoman Sultans used it as their personal residence as well as an “impregnable fortress” that housed its famous seraglio/harem.

the Topkapi Palace by night

The Wikipedia entry for Ambler has this gem:

“A recurring theme in Ambler’s books is the amateur who finds himself unwillingly in the company of hardened criminals or spies. Typically, the protagonist is out of his depth and often seems for much of the book a bumbling anti-hero, yet eventually manages to surprise himself as well as the professionals by a decisive action that outwits his far more experienced opponents.”

That certainly fits Topkapi.

I can’t say how much of the novel was excised for this abridgement, but I can say the novel definitely works as a quick listen. There are some unnecessary sound effects added, but when they show up they don’t overwhelm the text. The story is told in first person, by the clever, but unlucky anti-hero. David Westhead, the reader, is truly excellent in performing the lead character. He’s got a wonderfully subdued humor, and the voice and accent work he provides for the man supporting characters adds a lot of color.

Topkapi by Eric AmblerTopkapi (aka The Light Of Day)
By Eric Ambler; Read by David Westhead
Six 30 minute episodes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Broadcast: May 2011
Source: RadioArchive.cc
Small time operator Arthur Abdel Simpson is an illegitimate stateless half British half Egyptian pimp and pornographer. He makes his living fleecing tourists in Athens, Greece. When he picks up a likely looking pigeon at the airport he soon discovers that he’s the one in trouble. He’s then blackmailed into driving a car to Istanbul.

1/6. Minor crook Arthur Abdel Simpson spots a likely mark at Athens airport
2/6. Arthur Simpson is interrogated by Turkish security for unintentional arms smuggling.
3/6. Arthur is now seconded to Turkish security. He also has to work at the suspect’s villa.
4/6. Unwilling agent Simpson watches a group of ‘tourists’, while he works as their driver.
5/6. Arthur Simpson witnesses a vicious knife fight and waits for news of Fischer.
6/6. Arthur Simpson is still on the roof. He has just reluctantly robbed the Treasury.

Here’s the trailer for the film version:

I’ll try to find a copy of the film itself, and maybe see if its anything like the audiobook.

Posted by Jesse Willis