LibriVox: The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard

The Devil In Iron - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Considered by some to be the worst Conan story written by Howard, The Devil In Iron isn’t my favourite either.

In it the “gay clad” barbarian visits an island fortress, wrestles a giant green snake, fights an unstabable demon, and saves a sleepy-headed and scantily dressed beauty.

The plot, which is rather intricate, doesn’t do much for me – but several scenes have that Howard writing magic I love.

LibriVoxThe Devil In Iron
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chevernet
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: March 16, 2013
Alone on the strange enchanted island of Xapur, Conan must face Khostaral Khel, a fearsome monster made of living metal! First published in Weird Tales, August 1934.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|
The Devil In Iron - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Weird Tales, August 1934

Posted by Jesse Willis

Hypnobobs: Naturally by Fredric Brown

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here’s a cute little short story, with a sympathetic protagonist, by the master of the short short, Fredric Brown. Mr. Jim Moon, the proprietor and narrator of the Hypnobobs podcast, calls it a “A Micro Tale”, others may call it “Flash Fiction”. Indeed, its brief length and moral teaching probably makes it the perfect story to read before a college mid-term or final exam! But it also has the effect of explaining why any school for magic, like Hogwarts, could never possibly work.

Hypnobobs - Naturally by Fredric BrownHypnobobs – Naturally
By Fredric Brown; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 5 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Hypnobobs
Podcast: August 22, 2011
Henry Blodgett is a terrible math student and knows he’ll fail his upcoming geometry exam. But as a student of black magic he may have found a way out! First published in the September 1954 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction.

Podcast feed:

Here is the accompanying art, by “Stone”, from the original publication:

Illustration by Stone of Naturally by Fredric Brown

And here’s the complete text if you’d like to read along:

Naturally by Fredric Brown

Henry Blodgett looked at his wrist watch and saw that it was two o’clock in the morning. In despair, he slammed shut the textbook he’d been studying and let his head sink onto his arms on the table in front of him. He knew he’d never pass that examination tomorrow; the more he studied geometry the less he understood it. Mathematics in general had always been difficult for him and now he was finding that geometry was impossible for him to learn.

And if he flunked it, he was through with college; he’d flunked three other courses in his first two years and another failure this year would, under college rules, cause automatic expulsion.

He wanted that college degree badly too, since it was indispensable for the career he’d chosen and worked toward. Only a miracle could save him now.

He sat up suddenly as an idea struck him. Why not try magic? The occult had always interested him. He had books on it and he’d often read the simple instructions on how to conjure up a demon and make it obey his will. Up to now, he’d always figured that it was a bit risky and so had never actually tried it. But this was an emergency and might be worth the slight risk. Only through black magic could he suddenly become an expert in a subject that had always been difficult for him.

From the shelf he quickly took out his best book on black magic, found the right page and refreshed his memory on the few simple things he had to do.

Enthusiastically, he cleared the floor by pushing the furniture against the walls. He drew the pentagram figure on the carpet with chalk and stepped inside it. He then said the incantations.

The demon was considerably more horrible than he had anticipated. But he mustered his courage and started to explain his dilemma. “I’ve always been poor at geometry,” he began . . .

“You’re telling me,” said the demon gleefully.

Smiling flames, it came for him across the chalk lines of the useless hexagram Henry had drawn by mistake instead of the protecting pentagram.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #074


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #074 – Jesse and Scott talk about the recently arrived audiobooks with assistance and commentary by Luke Burrage

Talked about on today’s show:
New York, “your whole life is a holiday”, The Way Of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel Of Time series, “the entire world is imagined from the ground up”, Blackstone Audio, The Shadow Hunter by Pat Murphy, neanderthals, cave bear, “a little cave dude”, The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Robert J. Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, shamanic or shamanistic, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, Urban Fantasy Alert, City Of Ghosts by Stacia Kane, the Chess Putnam series, First Drop Of Crimson by Jeaniene Frost (Book 1 in the The Night Huntress World series), paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy, spade vs. Spade, vampires, by , southern Gothic, Flannery O’Connor with zombies, the full zombie vs. the half zombie vampire, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, The Walking Dead by , Being Human (tv show), Dark Shadows, Hawaii 50, V, Half Blood Of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston, Stephen King, noir urban fantasy?, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Subterranean Press, Bronson Pinchot, pirates, magic, voodoo, Brilliance Audio, Bearers Of The Black Staff by Terry Brooks, Caviar by Theodore Sturgeon, Shannara, Audiofile Magazine, Connecting the Robots and Empire (Foundation) series, demon war, war dudes and siege engines, The Speed Of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, autism, Mary Robinette Kowal’s review of the Books On Tape edition of The Speed Of Dark |READ OUR REVIEW|, Luke’s idea for a paranormal romance set in the stone age, “urban cave fantasy”, Quicksilver by Neal Stephanson, audiobooks are being shaped to the length of an Audible credit, The Baroque Cycle, The Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch |READ OUR REVIEW|, “it ends in Gibraltar”, Penguin Audio, Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston, Dr. Seuss, Roald Dahl, science fiction, Zero History by William Gibson, Max Headroom, Elmore Leonard, great writing is not enough, Michael May’s Adventure Blog article on back of the book copywriting, taking the risk of writing only the keywords, Starship: Mutiny by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick |READ OUR REVIEW|, Finch by Jeff Vandermeer, StarShipSofa, weird fantasy vs. new weird, the George Zarr talk (The SFFaudio Podcast #071), Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot a BBC radio drama, “if you’re 14 years old and you’re listening to this…”, fantasy women, Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan, Young Adult fiction, the The Ruins of Gorlan series, I Am Number Four, Battlestar Galactica, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, This Immortal by Roger Zelazny, Dune by Frank Herbert, Children Of Dune, Bad Blood by John Sanford, James Lee Burke, Santa Fe Edge by Stuart Woods, by Michael Kramer, the Richard Stark Parker books (Books On Tape), Ed Eagle vs. Eddie The Eagle, New Mexico, puzzling murder, false identity, lush and exclusive resorts, family, vegetarian, car, crash, human, not human, zombie, mystery, maggot infested corpse, brink of death, flesh off her bones, Dust by Joan Frances Turner, should be able to know it, OVERLORDS!, Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, futuristic gadgetry, Snow Crash, Virtual Light by William Gibson, “the first really good augmented reality book”, The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recent Arrivals: Audio Realms and Dark Realms Audio

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Audio RealmsHere’s a stack of mostly horror titles that have been inching their way into my dreams! It’s a solid mix of public domain novels (and collections) along with brand spanking new series and standalones. Check out Brian Keene’s modern horror tale, Castaways (its at the bottom). Keene writes comics, it may be the best place to start with the modern stuff! With regards to the PD material, I’m torn between People Of The Dark, which includes my favorite Conan story Queen Of The Black Coast, and Algernon Blackwood’s The Empty House And Other Ghost Stories. All of these titles should also be available in MP3-CD editions and MP3 download editions via too.

A novel idea, take several of the modern issues of Weird Tales, and make an audiobook out of it…

AUDIO REALMS - Weird TalesWeird Tales
By various; Read by Wayne June and others
5 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9781897304075
Includes tales from issues #336, 337 and 338 of Weird Tales: The Unique Magazine
Stories included:
Ripper! by William F. Nolan
Shore Of Night, Shore Of Day by Katrien Rutten
Hearts And Minds by Barbara Krasnoff
The Ghost Of Me by Melinda Thielbar
The Sacredotal Owl by Michael Bishop
Sympathy For Dragons by John Gregory Betancourt
The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford

This cover looks rather boring on first glance, but look closer, it has a bit more than you expect…

AUDIO REALMS - A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice BurroughsA Princess Of Mars
By Edgar Rice Burroughs; Read by Brian Holsopple
6 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: August, 2009
ISBN: 9781897304457
Ex-confederate army captain John Carter finds himself unwittingly transported to Mars, while fleeing Apache Indians. This new world is populated by a race of monstrous Martians, whose culture is based on the ability to fight for their race. Fortunately, the gravitational difference between Mars and Earth has given him the strength that he will need for survival.on this hostile planet. John Carter battles ferocious Martian creatures, but gains the respect of the beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princes of Helium. This is the first of eleven in the ‘Mars’ series.

This is the second novel in a new series, but I’m betting that wouldn’t effect the story one whit…

AUDIO REALMS - Hunt For Adventure: Through The Cradle Of Fear by Gabriel HuntHunt: Through The Cradle Of Fear (#2 in the Adventures Of Gabriel Hunt series
By Gabriel Hunt (aka Charles Ardai); Read by Jim VanDusen
6 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: November 2009
ISBN: 9781897304761
From the towers of Manhattan to the jungles of South America, from the sands of the Sahara to the frozen crags of Antarctica, one man finds adventure everywhere he goes: GABRIEL HUNT. Backed by the resources of the $100 million Hunt Foundation and armed with his trusty Colt revolver, Gabriel Hunt has always been ready for anything – but is he prepared to enter… The Cradle Of Fear? When a secret chamber is discovered inside the Great Sphinx of Egypt, the mystery of its contents will lead Gabriel to a remote Greek Island, to a stone fortress in Sri Lanka … and to a deadly confrontation that could decide the fate of the world!

Five words: QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST. ’nuff said…

AUDIO REALMS - The Weird Works Of Robert E. Howard - Volume Two: People Of The DarkThe Weird Works Of Robert E. Howard – Volume Two: People Of The Dark
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Wayne June, Brian Holsopple, Gary Kohler, Bob Barnes and Charles McKibben
5 CDs – Approx. 5.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9781897304136
People Of The Dark is the second volume of The Weird Works Of Robert E. Howard presented in audiobook form. It continues to offer many of Howard’s works from the classic magazine Weird Tales meticulously restored to it’s original texts. This volume contains;People Of The Dark, Queen Of The Black Coast, The Garden Of Fear, The Haunter Of The Ring, Valley Of The Worm, The Challenge From Beyond and includes some of his famous heroes such as Conan.

The Willows gave me the willies, so I’m thinking these are perfect tales for a dark and stormy night and a bucket of ice cream…

AUDIO REALMS - The Empty House And Other Stories by Algernon BlackwoodThe Empty House And Other Stories
By Algernon Blackwood; Read by Brian Holsopple
6 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: August 2009
ISBN: 9781897304686
Most connoisseurs of modern horror fiction rate Algernon Blackwood (1869-1951) as the finest horror writer of all time. Blackwood was unsurpassed in originality, atmosphere, and characterization. His finest works still surprise and shock today’s readers. The Empty House And Other Stories, originally published in 1906, was Blackwood’s first collection. It includes such classics as the title story, A Haunted Island, A Suspicious Gift, and many more.

This one sounds like a reverse Marco Polo story, with dragons, sorcerers and magic instead of pasta…

AUDIO REALMS - Gonji: Red Blade From The East (Volume 1) by  T.C. RypelGonji: Red Blade From The East (Volume 1)
By T.C. Rypel; Read by Brian Holsopple
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: July 2009
ISBN: 9781897304549
Cast out from his Japanese homeland, Gonji, the Samurai warrior, journeyed across barbaric Europe in the quest of Vedun, the distant city in the loftiest peaks of the Carpathian Alps. Ceaselessly fighting the hated plague and hostile peasants, Gonji struggled to reach the mighty walls of majestic Vedun. But demons and dragons, and mages and monsters pursued the warrior across the wintry plains and the jagged mountains. His swords flashing with fury, Gonji battles his foes and strengthened his will, determined to conquer his hardships, and fulfill his destiny!

Apparently this is the first in a series, perhaps something along the lines of Jim Butcher’s Dresden series?

AUDIO REALMS - The Things That Are Not There by C.J. HendersonThe Things That Are Not There
By C.J. Henderson; Read by Charles McKibben
10 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: July 2009
ISBN: 9781897304426
Private detective Theodore London ran the best agency in New York City until a demon-driven storm trashed his operation. Ready to quit the business, fate delivered a beautiful woman to his doorstep—one being pursued by an army of winged monsters determined to use her as the key to unlock a doorway that will lead the world to madness.

The plot of this novel kind of reminds me a bit of Terminal Freeze |READ OUR REVIEW|, but warmer…

DARK REALMS AUDIO - Castaways by Brian KeeneCastaways
By Brian Keene; Read by Maynard McKillen
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dark Realms
Published: March 2010
ISBN: 9871897304709
They came to the lush, deserted island to compete on a popular reality TV show. Each one hoped to be the last to leave. Now they’re just hoping to stay alive. It seems the island isn’t deserted after all. Contestants and crew members are disappearing, but they aren’t being eliminated by the game. They’re being taken by the monstrous half-human creatures that live in the jungle. The men will be slaughtered. The women will be kept alive as captives. Night is falling, the creatures are coming, and rescue is so far away.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison

SFFaudio Review

White Witch, Black Curse by Kim HarrisonWhite Witch, Black Curse
By Kim Harrison; Read by
Marguerite Gavin
15 CDs – Approx. 18 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433270314
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / demons / vampires / banshees / pixies / memory / detective / romance /

White Witch, Black Curse is the seventh entry in Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, also called the Rachel Morgan series after its protagonist. For the sake of full disclosure, I should state that I haven’t read the previous books in the series. It’s a testament to Harrison’s storytlling that I was still able to jump into the tale with only a minimal perusing of Wikipedia for character background. That said, purists will probably want to start with the first book in the series,  Dead Witch Walking, as indeed I intend to do.

Rachel Morgan is a witch who, along with her vampire companion Ivy Tamwood, runs a supernatural investigative agency called Vampiric Charms. She’s the supernatural equivalent of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Modern Cincinatti, in Harrison’s alternate history world, knows of the existence of supernatural beings, collectively dubbed inderlanders. Two federal agencies, the human-staffed Federal Inderlander Bureau and the otherworldly Inderlander Services security agency, maintain relations between the human world and that of the “ever-after” whence all other races came. Vampires, pixies, witches, and other strange beings walk the streets of Cincinatti, and not once in White Witch, Black Curse does their presence pass for comment among the book’s human characters. This marks a refreshing departure from other urban fantasy I’ve read, in which supernatural beings live underground, beyond the awareness of most everyday people.

As the novel opens, Rachel is attempting to solve the murder of her vampire boyfriend Kisten. In theory, this shouldn’t pose a problem, since she was present when the crime took place. But someone, somehow, has wiped her memory of that night’s events, and as she examines the crime scene she experiences only brief flashes of recollection and insight. A recent string of attacks apparently connected to a banshee also calls for her attention. As in most mysteries, these seemingly separate plotlines inevitably intersect at certain points as the novel progresses. The narrative hits several satisfying crescendos and climaxes throughout the book, but on the whole the plot plods along without any clear impetus to drive it forward.

The depth and dynamism of protagonist Rachel Morgan, however, redeems the novel from its mediocre plot. Like many heroines of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, she’s a badass. Unlike many other heroines, her character is balanced by a believable measure of insecurity, self-doubt, and even a hint of self-loathing. As a witch, she’s mostly confident in her magical abilities, but even in this realm she sometimes expresses hesitance. In the sphere of romance, she questions her suitability as a partner, calling herself an “albatross” who brings ruin upon those upon whom she bestows her love. No doubt this has something to do with the death of her former lover Kisten, and events in earlier novels might well bear this belief out as well. She also exhibits the tendency to rush bullheadedly into situations without considering the implications for herself or her circle of friends.

And Rachel is blessed with fast friends, family,  and other acquaintances who don’t comfortably fit into a single category. The unlikely highlight among the cast of supporting characters is the pixie Jenx, who often accompanies Rachel on her adventures. The foul-mouthed, irreverent little guy at first appears to serve as nothing more than comic relief, flitting around on a trail of pixie dust and spouting clever obscenities. Yet he stands–flutters?–by her when the going gets tough and many others have abandoned her.

The emotional textures of White Witch, Black Curse further offset the deficit of the novel’s mediocre plot. Rachel’s relationships seldom develop in predictable ways. Her friendships with her partner Ivy, FIB agent Captain Edden, and even the pixie Jenks, all come under occasional strain. The Morgan family dynamics are alo fraught with tension. And then there’s the romance. Rachel seldom devolves into the weak-kneed, crooning damsel of other romance novels. For the most part, she’s remarkably intellectual and circumspect in approaching relationships.

The book’s emotional power even extends to its magic. While not particularly organized or systematic in any “scientific” sense, the magic of the Hollows also hinges on feelings. FIB psychologist Ford has the empathic gift of reading emotional states of those around him. Auras also figure heavily into the plot as an external representation of a character’s internal state. Even a character of sound physical health might be in danger if their aura has been weakened by a recent traumatic experience.

Marguerite Gavin’s performance of White Witch, Black Curse isn’t the best audio rendition of urban fantasy I’ve heard, but it certainly does Harrison’s writing justice. Again, Jenx the pixie is the standout; she lends a nasal, sing-song voice to the spry winged creature which sparkles nearly as much as he does. On the whole, though, the best I can really say about Gavin’s performance is that it’s unobtrusive.

Fans of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series will find White Witch, Black Curse a satisfying continuation to the series. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance enthusiasts will also likely find much to like in Harrison’s unique world. Hardcore fantasy readers, on the other hand, might find themselves put off by a hit-and-miss plot and a lack of any real intellectual depth. Still, the book’s strong characters and emotional power make it a good candidate for some fun summertime reading.

Posted by Seth Wilson

Review of Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Armageddon’s Children by Terry BrooksArmageddon’s Children
By Terry Brooks; Read by Dick Hill
12 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1423322568
Themes: / Fantasy/ Post-Apocalyptic / Demons / Elves / Quest /

The first entry in Terry Brooks’ new Genesis of Shannara trilogy, Armageddon’s Children starts things off brilliantly. It is immediately engrossing, capturing the listener’s attention from the first minute clear through its cliffhanger ending. Set on an Earth where civilization has been mostly destroyed by war, diseases, and by demonic entities it is a world inhabited by mutants, demons, elves and humans, all hiding from an inevitable end. Post-apocalyptic fantasy is an odd sub-genre but Brooks pulls it off well, mostly combining the feel of post-apocalyptic science fiction with the trappings of fantasy.

Like many stories of this size, there is more than one main character. Armageddon’s Children has four: Logan Tom, a Knight of the Word is the foremost protagonist. Here has been given a mission to find a mysterious “gypsy morph” and lead it and a few human survivors to salvation. Logan, like most of the characters, must overcome self-doubt and accomplish his mission if humanity is to be saved. Another character, Angel Perez, another knight is sent with a tatterdemalion to find, and help save the elves. Hawk, a street urchin leads a small group of children. Kirisin, an Elf, is chosen to tend the Ellcrys, a sentient tree from the original Shannara series. The fates of all these characters are all intertwined and each must succeed in their respective quest if humanity and elfkind are to survive the looming destruction of the Earth.

Dick Hill, the narrator, is one of the better readers I’ve heard. Though the novel builds upon characters and ideas from earlier books in Brooks’ series, it stands on its own quite well. I haven’t heard or read many of them, yet I never felt as I were missing anything while I was listening to Armageddon’s Children. Indeed, the only complaint I have about the audiobook is a very minor one. This is a marketing problem. It is annoying that “Shannara” is not mentioned anywhere on the cover of the audiobook, despite the fact that it is the third largest word on the paperback version’s cover. Simply put I loved the audiobook of Armageddon’s Children and I can’t wait for the next in the series to be released.

Posted by David Tackett