Yesterday, Nora interview the award-winning Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer. He’s just published the third installment of his WWW trilogy, called Wonder. It speculates about a possible world in which the web develops consciousness and becomes “Webmind.”
Bonus: A three part video interview with Sawyer in Hungary.
Sawyer talks about: FlashForward, other Sawyer-related TV shows, dinosaurs, awards, his upcoming book (Triggers), memory, research, assassination, ebooks, Japan, piracy, DRM, advice to aspiring writers, teaching writing, the University Of Toronto, travel, translations and RJS book covers from around the world.
“One should always hunt an animal in its natural habitat; and the natural habitat of man is – in these days – a town. Chimney pots should be the cover, and the method, snapshots at two hundred yards. My plans are far advanced. I shall not get away alive, but I shall not miss; and that is all that matters to me any longer.” – Rogue Male
Similar to The Most Dangerous Game hey?
But as to the legacy – let me offer these…
First up we need to consider in reverse chronological order David Morrell‘s 1972 novel, First Blood, and the subsequent movie of the same name. Said Morrell: “When I started First Blood back in 1968, I was deeply influenced by Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male.”
That’s a very strong recommendation in itself.
Then there was a 1976 TV-movie version starring Peter O’Toole (I also recall seeing it advertised as airing on A&E television network back in the 1990s)….
And lastly, in the video department, there was a 1941 film version (directed by Fritz Lang) put out under the title Man Hunt…
As to the audio, I did a search of that handy dandy resource RadioArchive.cc and found there a lovely UNABRIDGED reading of Rogue Male, a novel that was commissioned (and recently re-aired) on BBC Radio 7. I’ve just finished listening to it and I highly recommend it!
SERIOUSLY, be sure give this one a try. It’s totally gripping from the first sentence on. It holds your attention with a combination of great narration (by Michael Jayston), excellent writing (by Geoffrey Household) and historical relevance. It has a feel of a historical novel – giving you a sense of the time and the culture – whilst also meditating on the human mind – especially decision making. It’s not unlike Ken Follett‘s Eye Of The Needle or The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins – it’s that good.
One thing that Rogue Male has, that those others lack, is a nice human-animal friendship. This is essentially a hunting story, rather than a spy story, so it is more singularly focused on those themes and less externalized. I’ve never read a story that depicts what it’s like to stalk an animal (be it human or otherwise) better than this novel does.
Here’s what one of the commenters on the torrent thread said about it:
“This simply has to be one of the best ‘reads’ I will have in 2008. The reader is brilliant and the story suspenseful beyond belief. I listened to it in bed and it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout every chapter. Thanks for upping it. This is already in my top 10 audio experiences of all time.”
By Geoffrey Household; Read by Michael Jayston
15 Broadcasts – Approx. 6 Hours 32 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: 2004 Told in first person by the protagonist, an un-named British sportsman, sets out to see whether he can successfully stalk and prepare to shoot a European dictator. Supposedly interested only in the hunt for its own sake, he convinces himself that he does not intend to actually pull the trigger. First published in paperbook form in 1939.
And, there was a BBC radio drama version too (also available at RadioArchive.cc)!
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Starring Simon Cadell and David Googe.
Other radio drama adaptations include:
Suspense – Rogue Male
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: December 31st 1951
Stars Herbert Marshall and Ben Wright.
Everything For The Boys – Rogue Male
Based on the novel by Geoffrey Household; Adapted by Arch Oboler; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]*
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Starring Ronald Colman and Ida Lupino.
*This is a lost broadcast, no known copies now exist.
And I should also mention, that a sequel, Rogue Justice, first published in 1982, was also broadcast on BBC Radio 7 earlier this year as a five-part abridged reading (also read by Jayston).
By Lawrence Block; Read by Henry Leyva
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours 45 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Published: January 2009
Themes: / Thriller / Cuba / Hitman / Mercenaries / History / Assassination / Crime /
There were five of them, each prepared to kill, each with his own reasons for accepting what might well be a suicide mission. The pay? $20,000 apiece. The mission? Find a way into Cuba and kill Castro.
Until the announcement on the Hard Case Crime website in 2008 most Block aficionados, like me, had no idea that novel that is Killing Castro existed. Us Blockheads knew that LB had written a ton of novels early in his career. Heck we’d even identified quite a few of them. But unless you’d owned a copy of Fidel Castro Assassinated: A Dramatic Tale of a Daring and Successful Plot to Kill Cuba’s Dictator, and had compared this obscure 1961 Monarch paperback with Block’s writing you’d never have known he’d written it. This is because it was originally attributed to an otherwise unknown author “Lee Duncan.” Had it been written by “Paul Kavanagh” (a known Block pseudonym), I’d have already found and read a copy years ago. Indeed, to my ears this certainly feels like a lost fourth Paul Kavanagh novel. Two of Paul Kavanagh’s three other novels are about shady operatives doing black-ops for cash too. If you want the original paperback, by the way, ABEbooks.com currently lists a copy at $150.00. That’s down from the $600 asking price just a few months back. Hard Case Crime offers the gorgeous covered paperback version for just $7. Me, I’ll stick with the BBC Audiobooks America version.
One of the things I liked most about this audiobook, other than the brisk characterization and snappy plotting, was all the historical context Block put into the novel. This isn’t merely a thriller, or a crime story. Running just under 5 hours (204 pages in paperbook) there’s about half an hour of historical exposition between all the action. In those sections Block deftly details Fidel Castro’s personal biography, the history Batista’s rule of Cuba, Fidel’s leadership of the revolution and a thoughtful analysis of the revolution’s aftermath. As far as I can tell the history is entirely accurate. It sticks to the facts and makes a case both for and against Castro’s revolution without any special pleading. To my mind “Lee Duncan” could have probably got a job at the Cuba desk of the CIA, just based on the analysis within this novel. They really could have used him too as the book originally came out the same year as the CIA-backed Bay Of Pigs invasion. But I guess the covert world’s loss is our literary gain.
This is the first time I’ve heard Henry Leyva as a narrator. He performs the American mercenaries with enough distinction to tell all five of them apart, and gives good voice to two Cuban rebels, one male, one female. As Leyva is fluent in both English and Spanish he brings a ton of authenticity to the Cuban accented anti-castristas. He really is a narrator to watch. I first heard him as an actor performing in an episode of J. Michael Straczynski’s excellent audio drama anthology series City Of Dreams. He’s also narrated the audiobook version of Cuba Libre by Elmore Leonard, so I’m gonna have to get my hands on that audiobook too.