The SFFaudio Podcast #416 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

April 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #416 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander discuss Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, June-July 1939, The Midnight Meat Train, the audio drama from Suspense (Blue Hours), Los Angeles, a truly underground story, how far the infection has spread, like Russian nesting dolls, Pickman’s Model, Pickman’s painting entitled “Subway Accident”, Death Line (1972) (aka Raw Meat), The Terror Of Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a rabbit warren, movie adaptations, C.H.U.D. (1984), Escape From New York (1981), they’re everywhere, very 80s, atrocious dialogue and logic, an old dodge, John Carpenter, the 59th street bridge, the society of CHUDs, female inmate, a mini-romance, how most people interact with this story, I could barely get through it and I really liked it, weird pacing, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), the camera as observer, Christopher Lee and Donald, “There are monsters in the tunnel inspector!”, a film out of its time, the old boy’s network (is also from Far Below), a mean bully thief sexist, looting the place, two different movies, it somehow works, so garish, quite murky, incredible tunnels in the London Underground, ghost stations, Creep (2004), ghost stories/urban legends, the monsters are descendants of the survivors of a tunnel construction collapse, The Descent (2005), the man aka the cannibal, “mind the doors”, an exploitative horrible monster mess movie, she’s pregnant, keep the community going, a family crypt, a tragedy horror, is Creep (2004) a remake of Raw Meat (aka Death Line)?, where does folklore come from?, a secret medical experiment facility, he’s always preceded by rats, The Graveyard Rats by Henry Kuttner, The Gruesome Book, a race of subterranean beings, a dead body animated by rats, The Gripping Hand and The Mote In God’s Eye, the watchmaker moties, Gremlins (1984), the tendrils out of Lovecraft grow deep, Mimic (1997), Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, a mad scientist with other responsibilities, giving your right arm, I’m not quite there yet, a reasonable depravity, the Duke Of New York is A#1, a little smoke break, calling forth the CHUDs, we follow Kurt Russell following that guy, Franka Potente looking for George Clooney, empathy for a rapist, it’s all connected, a theme of degeneration in the dark, she’s a bitch, a horrible manipulative person, a nice symmetry, social satire, black humour, this is horrible and great as well, Syria and Russia, this is why the Indians sold Manhattan so cheap, where is The Descent supposed to take place?, they’re albino cave dwellers, Monsters (1990) TV show adaptation of Far Below, The Midnight Meat Train, Clive Barker’s obsession with raw meat, Bradley Cooper, Limitless,
the wrong carriage, butchered bodies, the butcher, the true city fathers, who is the narrator talking to?, you’re going to eat my wife, a choice ending, a deep cut, a new recruit, they weren’t allowed to report on this, a student, a photographer, a vegan, ultra-horror, he’s grain fed!, starting with an image, holding on vs. hanging from, Mahogany, the mythological ferryman, their damnation until they can pass it on, The Books Of Blood by Clive Barker, Dagon (the fanzine), he hadn’t read any Lovecraft at that point, Bryan may have lived Far Below, The Warriors (1979), Death Wish (1974), the Washington, D.C. subway system, Fallout 3, Death Line (Raw Meat) 1972, Escape From New York (1981), C.H.U.D. (1984), sewers, Monsters (1990) TV show, Creep 2004, The Descent (2005), attested by every country in the world and every people, ghouls in the bible?, J.R.R. Tolkien has it, the barrow wights, Edgar Rice Burroughs, white furry monster, the Morlocks, H.G. Wells invented CHUDs (in The Time Machine), The Midnight Meat Train (2008), the vein, going deep, Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne, monks are more heavenly, the Wizard Knight worlds, Gene Wolfe, angels, burrowing into mother earth, the long tradition of the earth as maternal, All Quiet On The Western Front, WWI, Ch√Ęteau-Thierry, Verdun, bleed France white, “they shall not pass”, the Balrog, delving too deep, a battlefield map, battlefield commander, Vimy Ridge, 12 kilometers of tunnel, Passchendaele (2008), Thompson, the Maxim gun, domestic life, Carl Akeley, taxidermy, big game hunting, apes, killing a leopard with his bare hands, Indiana Jones, The American Museum Of Natural History’s Akeley Hall, Heart Of Darkness, Apocalypse Now, Friedrich Nietzsche on the abyss, ghouls like in Pickman’s Model, hinting, Pickman’s Model is the fictionalized version of Far Below, part simian part canine part mole, Nyarlathotep darkness, The Rats In The Walls, howling blindly, idiot flute players, the dark pharaoh, August Derleth, Cthulhu Water, The Facts In The Case Of Arthur Jermyn And His Family aka The White Ape, it’s not the family, Greek vs. Biblical, the acme of human progress tears itself to bits, national or familial genealogy, the family business, plump Captain Norris, the Morlock connection, staring into the abyss, the hidden race sub-genre, Richard Sharpe Shaver, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, they colonize us, The Mound by Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft, an inverted high-tech monstrous civilization, let’s see where it goes, less genetic and more philosophical, the description of the funding, NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker, Tammany Hall, childhood power fantasy, for our own safety, you’d understand, carte blanche, you can’t handle the truth, he’s the bad guy, in the warm light of day, taking precautions, the deepness rotting at the core of the Earth, involving the feds, the classic American cop story, NYC police corruption, Prince Of The City with Treat Williams, the War on Terror, At The Mountains Of Madness, Boston subway stations, Bram Stoker, high-tech, nascent technology, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, the telephone, it’s a tasty story, the thing was upon us, out of the darkness, Supernatural Horror In Literature, I learned a lot from Lovecraft, Quiet Please: The Thing On The Fourble Board, they dug too deep!, listen at night in the basement, things that are digging up, Jon Petwee era, Doctor Who: Inferno, Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror, the Brigadier’s eyepatch and Spock’s beard, evil Captain Archer, green gas causing degeneration, environmentalism, The Green Death another minging story, The Silurians, Call Ghostbusters (1984)!, Edge Of Darkness (1985), Homer, Polyphemus he only sleeps in a cave, neanderthals, and the niter, it grows!

Far Below by Robert Barbour Johnson

Mister Mystery - The Subway Terror

Escape From New York's CRAZIES

Dead Of Night 3 April 1974

Tomb Of Darkness 9 July 1974

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Reel Stuff edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg

July 13, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

The Reel Stuff
Edited by Brian Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg
Read by Various
6 Cassettes – 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0886465745
Publisher: dhAudio
Published: 2000 [OUT OF PRINT]
Themes: / Science Fiction / Horror / Computers / Memory / Aliens / Urban Legend / Space Travel / Time Travel /

The Reel Stuff is a collection of stories that have been adapted into films. They are all great stories, and this collection has the added attraction of comparing these stories to the films. dhAudio really did a fabulous job with this one. The stories:

Johnny Mnemonic by William Gibson, read by Christopher Graybill
FILM: Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Johnny Mnemonic was published in 1981, a few years before Gibson’s Hugo and Nebula-award winning Neuromancer hit the scene, illuminating the whole Cyberpunk sub-genre. This story is a clear view of that sub-genre as it has all the elements; human/computer interfaces, plenty of violence, and quick-witted characters. In this story, the title character holds a piece of data in his brain that is wanted by some powerful folks who are willing to do plenty to get it. Christopher Graybill does a great job with it.

Amanda and the Alien by Robert Silverberg, read by Colleen Delany
FILM: Amanda and the Alien (1995 – TV)
This tale, by the great Robert Silverberg, is humourous and sexy. The main character is a ditzy teenage girl named Amanda who takes an alien who can morph into anyone it eats under her wing. Definitely a B-movie kind of story, but purposefully so. Colleen Delany performs well, capturing the Amanda character perfectly.

Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, read by Terence Aselford
FILM: Mimic (1997)
Mimic is a very short tale that reads almost like a documentary about the peculiar ways in which animals hide from other animals. This is then extrapolated in a very spooky way to humans. Terence Aselford didn’t have a heck of a lot to work with here, but he kept it interesting.

The Forbidden by Clive Barker, read by Vanessa Maroney
FILM: Candyman (1992)
Clive Barker drums up some modern mythology here as a female professor explores urban legend among the lower class in London. The story is effective and chilling in the hands of Vanessa Maroney, who navigates Barker’s weirdness as if it were really happening.

We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick, read by Terence Aselford
FILM: Total Recall (1990)
Terence Aselford gets another chance in this collection, reading this reality-bender by Philip K. Dick. The main character wants to go to Mars in the worst way, but can’t afford it. The solution? Take a virtual vacation! Have memories implanted so you can “have gone” to Mars. But here, things get complicated when the implantee’s supressed memories surface during the procedure. Dick again manages to leave me wondering what the heck is really real – where exactly is the immovable bedrock? Nothing is sacred in Philip K. Dick’s hands.

Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, read by Christopher Graybill
FILM: Nightflyers (1987)
Martin here spins a science fiction horror story. Think Psycho meets Lost in Space and maybe you’ll have a feel… a group of people ride on a ship that is controlled by a mystery man who never leaves the cockpit. Christopher Graybill again is impressive in his reading.

Air Raid John Varley, read by Nannette Savard
FILM: Millenium (1989)
Nannette Savard reads a very strange, very affecting story about Earth’s future. In it, humans have evolved just a bit, but the Earth’s biosphere has been destroyed, its people diseased. Varley’s descriptions are vivid and graphic – these people are in a bad way. To keep the species going, they go back in time to retrieve healthy airline passengers, mid-flight, since history shows they are on the verge of fiery death. These passengers become humanity’s hope. Varley is a very affecting writer, and through the main character we experience much. Savard does a great job conveying this to the listener.

Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, read by Richard Rohan
FILM: The Outer Limits: Sandkings (1995)
Simon Kress wants a pet, but something interesting… something out of the ordinary. He finds what he’s looking for when he purchases a group or creatures called sandkings which live in a large terrarium with plenty of sand lining the bottom. They build castles and fight battles. They even worship. And they are endlessly fascinating. Well, they were. Perhaps a little prodding from Kress will end the monotony… This one is my favorite of this excellent collection. Sandkings is original and fascinating, both as a character study of a man with too much comfort and as an exploration of an alien animal species.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

January 16, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

Fantasy Audiobooks - Neverwhere by Neil GaimanNeverwhere
By Neil Gaiman; Read by Gary Bakewell
2 Cassettes; 2 hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Highbridge Company
Published: 1997
ISBN: 1565112318
Themes: / Fantasy / London Underground / Magic / Urban Legend /

Neil Gaiman is certainly one of the most decorated storytellers at work today – his books seem to be on the final ballot for every conceivable award, and rightly so. His work is unique and fantastic (in both senses of the word).

Neverwhere follows part of the life of Richard Mayhew, a young businessman who lives in London. He lives a dreary life full of accounting books and deadlines, and is engaged to Jessica, who works in the art industry. His life is changed completely when he stops to help Door, a young woman he finds injured on the sidewalk. Unwittingly, he is introduced to a world he never knew existed – that of London Below. There, beneath the city, Door is not only Door, she is “Lady” Door. And an entire population lives down there, living lives unknown to those who live in London Above. Mayhew quickly finds himself hip deep in her problems as she runs from Croup and Vandemar (a pair of serial killers) and tries to solve the mystery of the murder of Door’s whole family. With them travels the Marquis of Carabas, a man willing to do much for a favor, and the famous Hunter, a female bodyguard. London Below is filled with interesting characters and more than a touch of magic.

Gary Bakewell (who plays Richard Mayhew in the BBC television series) does an excellent job with the narration. His voice drew me quickly into the wonderful strangeness. The sound effects and editing mimicked that of the television series. But, this was an abridgement. In this case, that means that the ending was rushed as events were crammed into that last quarter to make the 2-hour cut.

Having seen and enjoyed the BBC TV series, I can say that the parts that were missed along the way in this story are very worthwhile, and an unabridged version of Gaiman’s novel would be welcome. But this abridged audiobook captures the flavor of the story well. Even with the skipped events and rushed ending, the story makes sense, and it’s worth a listen.