Review of The Fat Man; A Tale of North Pole Noir

SFFaudio Review

The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir

The Fat Man; A Tale of North Pole Noir
By Ken Harmon; Read by Johnny Heller
1 MP3 CD / 5 CDs – 5.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Published: 2010

Themes: / Fantasy / Christmas / Elves / Santa / Noir / Murder / Reindeer / It’s a Wonderful Life /

If you’re looking for a holiday story that’s not yet another retelling of The Christmas Carol, then pick up Ken Harmon’s The Fat Man. Gumdrop Coal is framed for murder after being ousted from the Coal Patrol and he’s out to clear his name.

Fired from his longtime job as captain of the Coal Patrol, two-foot-three inch 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Coal is angry. He’s one of Santa’s original elves, inspired by the fat man’s vision to bring joy to children on that one special day each year. But somewhere along the way things went sour for Gumdrop. Maybe it was delivering one too many lumps of coal for the Naughty List. Maybe it’s the conspiracy against Christmas that he’s starting to sense down every chimney.

Take all the Christmas references your sweet tooth can stand and keep going, add in an embittered and betrayed Elf from the Coal Patrol, Reindeer with the panache of top gun fighter pilots, and a spunky girl reporter, Buttercup Snitch, who either only has eyes for Gumdrop or is in on the frame job.

The story is told by Gumdrop Coal, leader and founder of the Coal Patrol, in a wonderful hard bitten noir style. Gumdrop is used to dealing with some nasty customers (children). The Coal Patrol are the guys who work from the Naughty List. After it’s been checked, twice.

Set in Kringle Town with Santa and the Elves. Filled with characters you will have heard from assorted Christmas Fairy. But they aren’t all as you might expect.

It isn’t all candy and Christmas trees; there is also a dark side to Kringle Town. The other side of the tracks: Potterville. If you’ve ever watched It’s a Wonderful Life you should recognise that name.

Gumdrop doesn’t believe Naughty Boys and Girls should be treated the same as their well behaved siblings. That smothering all children in gifts regardless of merit lessens both the gift and the child.

Johnny Heller tells it in a wonderful straight-up noir-style, even when doing the high pitched elves.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

The Shepherd by Fredrick Forsyth; Read by Alan Maitland

SFFaudio News

If you were to take a stab at guessing the favourite audiobook of Canadians you’d be well to guess a Christmas story that includes a vampire, a ghost, and a mosquito.

Produced for CBC Radio this classic reading of Frederick Forsyth’s The Shepherd is superbly read by Alan Maitland (aka Frontporch Al, aka Fireside Al, aka Graveside Al).

Bonus: A CBC interview with Frederick Forsyth about the story, the interviewer is Barbara Budd!



Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: So what did yule all receive for Xmas?

SFFaudio Commentary

Did you get what you want for Xmas? I did. I always seem to. This year the theme seemed to be coffee. I got enough to last me until next July! Huzzah!

But the real gift, as always, was that I got to spend some time with my family. On Xmas eve we play a great game called “The Game” – the object of “The Game” is to steal specially wrapped Christmas presents from your relatives and other party attendees – it is especially fun to steal presents from children. There are a few rules, and lots of fake drama, and bogus strategy all designed for fun and it’s basically wall to wall laughter for about 75 minutes. The gifts are generally pretty junky, like dollar store toys or tools – one of them this year was a miniature bale of hay, another was a light in the shape of a fried egg. I love it.

At these parties I get to see lots of uncles and aunts, cousins and other relations all of pleasant disposition. Actually the whole thing is about as close to a Hobbit gathering as you’ve ever seen in real life (though most of us are taller and wear shoes). It’s more that there’s always plenty of food and thoughtful gifts – genuine merriment and respect. It’s rather lovely. But there are always surprises too. Like the one from last Christmas, or the year before. One of my distant relatives, down from northern British Columbia, told me he had happened upon my podcast through the Anne Is A Man blog and that he had been listening to it. That gave me a good laugh! It was one of the best gifts I received. I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising, most of my relatives seem to be readers.

This year the most relevant gift wasn’t actually for me, but it gave me another good laugh.

See one of my cousins, an avid reader, received a new paperback copy of WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer. It was a Christmas present from her aunt and uncle (who happen to be my aunt and uncle too).

Penguin paperback of Wake by Robert J. Sawyer

I happened to be sitting beside her as the gifts were being dispersed and unwrapped. So, when I saw that she’d received it, and that the book was in the new tall paperback format I asked if I might have a look inside (I’d only heard the audiobook). I opened the front cover only to see this:

Seth Wilson blurb In Wake

That’s from Seth Wilson’s review!

That was a good laugh too!

So what did yule all receive for Xmas?

Posted by Jesse Willis

Blackstone Audio: FREE SHORT STORY: The Soul Of The Ships by Brian Freeman

SFFaudio Online Audio

Blackstone Audio is giving away a FREE short story (in MP3 or M4B format)!

The Ship Of The Souls FREE SHORT STORY

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Ship Of The Souls by Brian FreemanThe Souls Of The Ships
By Brian Freeman; Read by Joe Barrett
1 |MP3| or 1 |M4B| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2011
“The tale tells of lost love, beauty, and the magic of a foggy Christmas Eve night that leads to an unexpected event for two people. An earlier version of this story appeared about twenty years ago in Lake Superior Magazine. Since then, it has only been published in Italian and German—now this original English version is available for the first time on audio from Blackstone.”

Thanks Blackstone!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Tantor Media: FREE AUDIOBOOKS: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift and Favorite Stories Of Christmas Past

SFFaudio Online Audio

Tantor MediaThe great Tantor Media is offering two FREE audiobook downloads right now!

The audiobooks are…

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (read by David Case) |HERE|


Favorite Stories Of Christmas Past read by Renée Raudman and Alan Sklar |HERE|
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
The Story of Christmas by Nora A. Smith
A Country Christmas by Louisa May Alcott
An Empty Purse by Sarah Orne Jewett
The Bachelor’s Christmas by Robert Grant
The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Andersen
The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus by Francis Church
The Festival of St. Nicholas by Mary Mapes Dodge
The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Two Free Audiobooks from Tantor

All you need to do to get both of these audiobooks immediately is either have, or set up, an account with Tantor Media (which is FREE).

The files themselves are zipped MP3s and come with companion ebooks (they’re PDF files that are unlocked and DRM-FREE). The audiobooks will after checkout be immediately downloadable, but will also be stored in your account, under the “My bookshelf” section, for future download.

Here’s what my checkout looked like just a few minutes ago:

TANTOR MEDIA Offers Gulliver's Travels and Favorite Stories Of Christmas Past as FREE DOWNLOADS

I’m listening now. Thanks Tantor!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #131 – Julie Hoverson of 19 Nocturne Boulevard


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #131 – Jesse, Scott, and Tamahome talk to Julie Hoverson of 19 Nocturne Boulevard

Talked about on today’s show:
how do you say “hiatus”?, “one woman butt kicking army”, third year anniversary, 74 episodes, The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft audio drama, Bill Hollweg is in The Deadeye Kid, Maine accents, The Leech by Robert Sheckley (secretly), comedy, A Date With Dana was funny, classic storylines, The Rookie won the Mark Time Award, “line up to get killed by their favorites”, “I love creepy old ladies”, Crumping The Devil, The Imp Of The Perverse, Lovecraft’s The Thing On The Doorstep, Within The Walls Of Eryx is “straightforward sci-fi”, Dis Belief is from a Jorge Luis Borges story, puns, finding the copyright owner, finding quality audio drama, Julie’s audio blog about oversight, we need curation, Voice Hollywood does their own ratings, Julie will be at the next Balticon, Balticon Podcast, there’s never enough people to help, Geek Girl Con, editing the parts together, simultaneous recording?, Julie is in The Radio Drama Handbook by Richard J. Hand and Mary Traynor, The Grand Guignol is violent theater, The Thrice Tolled Bell is like a Hammer film, “cuz I’m crazy”, what dramas does Julie like?, We’re Alive (The Zombie Podcast, also from Blackstone Audio), why do it?, Julie tried to develop a “dead serial killer buddy movie”, Wormwood, comics, Five Fingers Of Doom, short stories, timing your podcast releases, “the mentality of slackness”, for the nasty creepiness: One Eighteen: Migration, Julie’s The Gift Of The Zombi an Xmas show, zombies in love, “zombies are the new cowboys”, a half-hour is a good length, fan dogs on Facebook, “what’s the best science fiction audio drama around?”, Kim’s Warp’d Space involves milk runs, Children Of The Gods, The Leviathan Chronicles, Julie is in Edict Zero (created by Jack Kincaid who did The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy intro), a cop show on a future colony, how complicated can a show be?, “there’s always engaging things”, Big Finish are pros, “fanfic”, Darker Projects Star Trek tie-ins (Tamahome listened to Lost Frontier), Jesse wants A Princess Of Mars drama, who’s got the rights?, adapting a novel, William Shakespeare, Cymbeline Revisited, Edwardian Entertainments, The Yellow Wallpaper

Posted by Tamahome