The SFFaudio Podcast #156 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Books IX – XII)


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #156 – Scott and Jesse talk, in the third of a six part series, about the books IX, X, XI, and XII of The Odyssey.

Talked about on today’s show:
What’s the plural of cyclops?, cyclopskin?, cyclopean, Charybdis and Scylla, from this book many books have come, Philip K. Dick’s early fantasies are peppered with Odysseian goodness, Upon The Dull Earth, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Odysseus is a smart liar, “my fame has reached the skies”, Telemachus runs the first four books, Odysseus in third person runs in the second four books, Odysseus in the first person runs the third four books, Calypso vs. Circe, “deep in her arching caverns”, the land of the lotus eaters, lotus addiction, Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick, “I’m a plant, doctor”, the 1968 Italian miniseries adaptation of The Odyssey (L’Odissea), why does Odysseus listen to the Sirens?, Circe’s wand, Hermes’ wand, the origin of wizards and sorceresses, Polyphemus, cheeses!, Beowulf, Grendel’s attack in the hall, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a bachelor’s home vs. a maiden’s home, the cyclops island is a libertarian utopia!, Zeus vs. Poseidon, twenty-power wine!, manifest destiny, the guest gift, “I’ll eat nobody”, “I have a cunning plan my lord”, Odysseus is always messing with the gods, “you shameless cannibal”, the prophecy that Odysseus would blind Polyphemus, raider of cities, swag, Odysseus is not a righting-wrongs kind of hero, Polyphemus’ prayer to his father, Poseidon doesn’t make an on-screen appearance in The Odyssey, what is Aquaman’s hair colour?, Circe (the bewitching queen), Ian McKellan‘s narration of the audiobook, “and so he mounted her bed”, “breeding” great trust, tame lions and wolves, Eurylochus goes on the “away mission”, Eurylochus was “unmanned”, Hermes and the moly, the Wikipedia entry for moly, potions and poison, “The Book Of The Dead”, Cimmeria, Robert E. Howard, “the original Fantasy”, Odysseus becomes the bard, “one death is enough for both men, but you shall now have two”, Hercules, Achilles, Agamemnon is bitter about Clytemnestra murdering him, Charybdis and Scylla is like an old fashioned version of The Cold Equations, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, Dante’s Inferno, Paradise Lost, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, The Aeneid, Strange Eden by Philip K. Dick, Star Trek (Who Mourns for Adonais?), Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, “oh boy”, Hyperion, Odysseus never takes the blame for anything, immortal zombie cows, how does Odysseus end up in that tree?, Ithaca at last!

N.C. Wyeth - Circe

Odysseus Performing The Nekyia

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey

SFFaudio Online Audio

Mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Crawling Chaos, and discussed in SFFaudio Podcast #138, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater by Thomas de Quincey was first published in 1821.

Martin Geeson, the narrator, has written this intriguing mini essay about it for his LibriVox reading.

“Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty Opium!”

Though apparently presenting the reader with a collage of poignant memories, temporal digressions and random anecdotes, the Confessions is a work of immense sophistication and certainly one of the most impressive and influential of all autobiographies. The work is of great appeal to the contemporary reader, displaying a nervous (postmodern?) self-awareness, a spiralling obsession with the enigmas of its own composition and significance. De Quincey may be said to scrutinise his life, somewhat feverishly, in an effort to fix his own identity.

The title seems to promise a graphic exposure of horrors; these passages do not make up a large part of the whole. The circumstances of its hasty composition sets up the work as a lucrative piece of sensational journalism, albeit published in a more intellectually respectable organ – the London Magazine – than are today’s tawdry exercises in tabloid self-exposure. What makes the book technically remarkable is its use of a majestic neoclassical style applied to a very romantic species of confessional writing – self-reflexive but always reaching out to the Reader.

I’ve combined his narration with two different sets of illustrations and placed the resulting video on YouTube:

LIBRIVOX - Confessions Of An English Opium Eater by Thomas de QuinceyConfessions of an English Opium-Eater
By Thomas de Quincey; Read by Martin Geeson
1 |M4B|, 16 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 16, 2009
First published in September and October 1821 issues of London Magazine.


Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to TriciaG, Ruth Golding, and Golden Age Comic Book Stories]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #138 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Crawling Chaos by Winifred V. Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #138 – The Crawling Chaos by Winifred V. Jackson and H.P. Lovecraft, read by Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (21 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Tamahome, Jim Moon and Wayne June). Here’s the ETEXT.

“In The Crawling Chaos the narrator flees inland, taking his adjectives with him.” -L. Sprague de Camp (from Lovecraft: A Biography)

Talked about on today’s show:
Wayne June is still alive!, first impressions of The Crawling Chaos, Wikipedia’s plot summary of The Crawling Chaos, dream logic, an opium vision, the tripiness, the philosophy behind The Crawling Chaos, The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe, the self as a haunted palace, Poe is so 19th century, The Raven, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, entropy, there is no meaning in this uncaring universe, “and all the planets mourned”, you’d need a lot of Prozac (or opium) to go through a life like that, the catharsis of apocalypse, a cosmic apocalypse, the plot is a jumble of junk, the biblical echoes, “only the gods reside there” (in Teloe), a very old testament vibe, “lest you turn into a pillar of salt”, the protagonist is us (mankind), Lovecraft’s recurring themes, the ordinary man who swaps places with another, The Shadow Out Of Time, Polaris, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, transcendental mind-swap stories, the story was a pseudonymous collaboration between Elizabeth Berkley (aka Winifred V. Jackson) and Louis Theobald, Jun. (aka H.P. Lovecraft), Nyarlathotep, “send me some money”, a lot of dross with a powerful effect, “the year of the plague”, the “oriel window” is an eyeball!, “calm down Howard”, “he’s in his own brain”, who or what is “the crawling chaos”?, the ocean pounding is his heart beating, “We’re all doomed!”, what is the crawling chaos?, S.T. Joshi, Rudyard Kipling, the peninsular beach house, Tiger Tiger (from The Jungle Book), The Tyger by William Blake, is the beautiful youth Mowgli?, who are “they”?, a fawn faced youth, Weena from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, did Winifred read The Time Machine before sleep?, what is the meaning of “Teloe”? is it teleology, reaching for meaning or purpose and losing it, Amber and Chalcedony, pleasure barges bound for blossomy Cytheron, Liquid Gold, Lord Dunsany, the heavenly host, the destruction of the physical (the corpse-like clay), black clouds like vultures, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear”, City In The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe, opium addiction, why opium?, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincey, Charles Baudelaire, a waking dream, if the story was written in the 1960s…, LSD, morphine and Morpheus (dream), a waking dream, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, The Doors Of Perception, out of Plato’s cave, Philip K. Dick, mindset and environment, mescaline, dreams vs. drug trips, journeys into the unconscious, Mouthpiece by Edward Wellen, decoding the death ravings of Dutch Schultz (HERE), William Burroughs, Robert Anton Wilson, “French Canadian Bean Soup”, stream of unconsciousness, Frances vs. French people, “swimming through New York”, The Librarian TV series, “perfectly ordinary strange adventures”, puns are big for the subconscious, Samuel R. Delany, Groucho Marx.

The Tyger by William Blake

The United Co-Operative, April 1921 - The Crawling Chaos

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Armor by John Steakley

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction - Armor by John SteakleySFFaudio EssentialArmor
By John Steakley; Read by Tom Weiner
11 CDs – Approx. 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2009
ISBN: 1433294834
Themes: / Science Fiction / Military SF / War / Leadership / Drugs / Psychology /

The planet is called Banshee. The air is unbreathable, the water poisonous. It is the home of the most implacable enemies that humanity, in all its interstellar expansion, has ever encountered. Felix is a scout in A-team Two. Highly competent, he is the sole survivor of mission after mission. Yet he is a man consumed by fear and hatred. And he is protected not only by his custom-fitted body armor, the culmination of ten thousand years of the armorers’ craft, but also by an odd being which seems to live with him, a cold killing machine he calls “the Engine.” This best-selling science-fiction classic is a story of the horror, the courage, and the aftermath of combat and also of how strength of spirit can be the greatest armor of all.

Armor is a novel that was clearly inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. It makes use of both powered exoskeletons and insect-like alien enemies. But, instead of being a novel of politics and leadership it is a very different kind of story. At first I thought it was about the psychological effects of violence and the various kinds of heroism that can exist within a person. I was wrong because that isn’t enough. This novel is not one or two things. It isn’t the normal kind of idea driven SF that I so love – instead its ideas flow more through the emotions, eliciting our sympathies. I think this was acomplished by it changing, turning over and over, with it’s many plot surprises.

Early on Felix, our viewpoint character, refers to something he calls an “engine.” I thought he was describing the powered armor of the title. That would make sense, there was a video game called Heavy Gear that, like than Mechwarrior, had men and women doing battle in humanoid shaped tanks. I think it refereed to its “mechs” as “engines.” Felix seems pretty much like any of the other soldiers he’s been dropped with on planet Banshee. Maybe he’s a bit more of a hick – he doesn’t know the names of the winners at the Powered Olympics. Felix makes no waves, volunteers for nothing. He just wants to survive the battle to come. But when the waves of enemy aliens pour out of their holes only Felix survives – and keeps on surviving.

Armor has taut battle scenes, flowing exposition, and realistic dialogue. Had John Steakley written more, and his other novel Vampire$ |READ OUR REVIEW|, I think he’d be a very well known author.

The first third (or so) of the novel follows Felix, a low ranking scout in the invasion of the planet Banshee. Here the action somewhat resembles that of Starship Troopers. Then there is an abrupt switch – the novel seems to lurch into an an entirely different scene and setting. Set a few years later and following in first person perspective this time we meet a man named Jack Crow. Crow is a notorious galactic scoundrel. A well known thief, pirate, and adventurer – his legend is long and precedes him even to an obscure research station on a planet called Sanction. Crow is there to infiltrate, but eventually finds himself involved in an experiment – one that drains him of his half-hearted bravado and changes his life. If were talking about where this novel fits in the SF library I’ll say this: Armor synthesizes the action of Heinlein’s Troopers with the emotional impact of Haldeman’s The Forever War – but still comes off as a completely unique story.

Tom Weiner, who seems to be narrating almost every Blackstone Audio audiobook that I’m listening to these days, delivers his usual letter perfect narration. Weiner animates Felix with a weary melancholy of a veteran scout, brightens audibly with the cocksure Crow, pulls a vocal Tom Bombadil with Louis, feminizes for Lya, and geeks it all up for Holly (a star-struck scientist). That’s pretty impressive. Check this audiobook out!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Spider On The Web: Satan’s Children by Spider Robinson

SFFaudio Online Audio

Spider On The Web - Spider Robinson’s podcastSpider Robinson has recorded his 1979 novella, Satan’s Children, for release in two parts on his podcast. He describes it as being “about a holy lunatic’s dream of actually making a better world, through chemistry.” Episodes 79 and 80 feature the complete reading.

Myself, I don’t like music, something included in almost every Robinson podcast, so I’ve used Audacity to strip out and combine both halves of the fiction in each episode. Combined together the novella runs nearly 78 minutes. But even if you are weird like me there are still a few other bits and bobs in there you may be interested in hearing – including some news on Jeanne Robinson‘s health and a rare blog entry from Harlan Ellison (as read by Spider).

New Voices II, ed. George R. R. Martin, Jove 1979Satan’s Children
By Spider Robinson; Read by Spider Robinson
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Spider On The Web
Podcast: March 2010
First published in the anthology New Voices II (The Campbell Award Nominees) edited by George R.R. Martin, Jove 1979.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Donations for Jeanne Robinson can be done through THIS site.

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 7: Planet B (series 2), The House On The Strand, A Stir Of Echoes

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 7 - BBC7BBC Radio 7 has two “NEW COMMISSIONS” that should draw many a wandering ear. First up a Richard Matheson novel A Stir Of Echoes! Scott reviewed the UNABRIDGED Blackstone Audio version not too long ago |READ OUR REVIEW|. Julie and a few other folks will also be excited to learn that the second Planet B series begins this week too. Among the re-runs for the week ahead is a BBC7 commission 2005. The House On The Strand is a 1969 novel by Daphne du Maurier. I suspect most of the new releases will turn up on sooner or later, or you could use Radio Downloader, either of those will work. Planet B (Series 2), on the other hand, is available via podcast and the first episode is already in the feed!

Planet BPlanet B (Series 2) – The Tender Trap
By Matthew Broughton; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: Sunday at 6pm and midnight
Kip is looking for love on the dating site, The Spark. But he gets more than he bargains for when a mysterious woman explodes into his world. Produced by James Robinson.
Joseph Cohen-Cole
Tessa Nicholson
Emerald O’Hanrahan
Chris Pavlo
Melissa Advani
Adjoa Andoh

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

The House On The Strand by Daphne du MaurierThe House On The Strand
By Daphne Du Maurier; Read by Julian Wadham
12 Broadcast – Approx. 6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: Tuesday – Friday at 6.30pm and 00.30am
Daphne Du Maurier’s masterpiece is a beguiling combination of romantic atmosphere, haunting psychology and assured storytelling. The tale revolves round the narrator Dick Young, who escapes from his troubles in the form of a new drug, which transports him six centuries back in time. But his attempts to change history bring terror to the present and throw his own life into the balance.

A Stir Of Echoes by Richard MathesonA Stir Of Echoes
By Richard Matheson; Read by Trevor White
5 Broadcasts – Approx. 2.5 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7
Broadcast: Monday – Friday at 1.30pm, 8.30pm and 1.30am
Tom Wallace lived an ordinary life in a seemingly normal neighbourhood until his brother-in-law hypnotises him; a chance event that awakens psychic abilities he never knew he possessed. Now he can hear the private thoughts of the people around him, and learns shocking secrets he never wanted to know.

Posted by Jesse Willis