LibriVox – LibriVox – History Of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1 & 2

SFFaudio Online Audio

They don’t make books like the used to. Check out the first two volumes of this STUNNING twelve volume History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, first published in English between 1903 and 1906. The complete collection (either 12 or 13 books) contains more than 1,200 coloured plates, photographs, drawings and illustrations!

LibriVox - History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1
History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 1
By G. Maspero; Edited by A.H. Sayce; Translated by M.L. McClure; Read by Professor Heather Mbaye
29 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 24, 2009
A masterwork by of one of the fathers of modern egyptology. This work, in twelve volumes, was translated from the French original, “Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient classique.” Maspero was a largely self-taught master of hieroglyphic translation. In November 1880, he was placed at the head of a French archeological mission, which developed later into the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale.

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LibriVox - History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 2History Of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 2
By G. Maspero; Edited by A.H. Sayce; Translated by M.L. McClure; Read by Professor Heather Mbaye
36 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 8, 2009
A masterwork by of one of the fathers of modern egyptology. This work, in twelve volumes, was translated from the French original, “Histoire ancienne des peuples de l’Orient classique.” Maspero was a largely self-taught master of hieroglyphic translation. In November 1880, he was placed at the head of a French archeological mission, which developed later into the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Lost Gods by Drew Beatty

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - Lost Gods by Drew BeattyLost Gods
By Drew Beatty; Read by Drew Beatty
Published: 2008
Themes: / Fantasy / Gods / Con Men /

Kweku Anansi is just another down-on-his luck con man who preys on the more fortunate during the day and goes home to his loving wife at night. That seems rather a comedown for the African trickster god, which is his real identity. However, Anansi is close to one of the “lost gods” whose powers are fading as the number of people who believe in him grow fewer with time. He meets up with another con man who has a good idea for a big haul when they are confronted by a group of gods who would do anything to be worshipped again. When they offer him the chance to regain his lost power and worshippers Anansi must make a choice between the mortal world which includes his wife and that of the gods.

I always enjoy stories about Anansi whether the authentic folk tales or the modernized use of the character such as is found in Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. This is a smaller tale than Gaiman’s but still well told. We like Anansi from the beginning and pull for him along the winding path his adventures take. Author Drew Beatty does a good job of reading the book, slightly changing his voice to portray characters so that one can really visualize them well. The only problem I came across was that the last three chapters had unedited duplications where the author had reread for proper wording or emphasis.If these are fixed then the story will be much smoother.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly, especially Beatty’s inclusion of the trickster gods from pantheons of both current and long gone religions around the world. If you enjoy modernized tales of gods among us, of the urban fantasy oeuvre, this this will be your cup of tea as well.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of Elric of Menibone by Michael Moorcock

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Elric of Melnibone by Michael MoorcockElric of Melniboné
By Michael Moorcock, Read By Jeffrey West and Michael Moorcock
5 CD’s – 5.5 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Realms
Published: 2003
ISBN: 097315960X
Themes: / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Magic / War / Gods /

It’s a testament to the imaginative might of author Michael Moorcock that his most famous creation, Elric of Melnibone, has become a permanent and prominent thread in the fabric of fantasy. Though he may not be quite the same household name as Conan, what fantasy fan hasn’t heard of the albino warrior/sorcerer, he of the tortured soul and wielder of the black demon sword Stormbringer.

The character of Elric first appeared in print in 1961 in a short story entitled “The Dreaming City.” Author Michael Moorcock later expanded the work into a short novel, Elric of Melnibone (1973). Though not perfect, I consider this latter a must-read for fans of fantasy fiction. It’s a marvelous work of imagination whose beautiful trappings include Imrryr, a city of alien architecture and strange, often abhorrent customs; demon-summoning sorcerers; and appearances by elementals and the gods of chaos. It combines the fast-pace and adventurous swagger of pulp fiction with a main character prone to brooding meditation and

The Elric stories are deliberately iconoclastic, taking an ironic stance in opposition to traditional/Tolkienian high fantasy and their often conservative worldviews. Elric is the reluctant emperor of Melnibone, a decadent, fading, yet still powerful kingdom that has dominated the Young Kingdoms of the earth for 10,000 years (think of Rome had it never lost its military might, ruled by emperors like Caligula for millennia). Drunk on the blood of conquest, immoral to the core, and frequently under the influence of dream-inducing drugs, the Melniboneans live by the philosophy, “seek pleasure, however you would.” Slaves perform all the menial work, and some have been surgically altered/bred to perform single functions like singing a single, perfect note, or rowing a war-galley.

The army is unwaveringly loyal to the lineage of the Ruby Throne, as are its emperors—until Elric inherits the throne. He begins to question the old traditions, including the Melnibonean’s right to rule the Young Kingdoms with an iron fist. At heart Elric wants to abdicate the throne and run away with his love, Cymoril. But he’s afraid that the next in line to the throne—his cousin, the wicked Yrkoon, a throwback to the cruelest lords of Melnibone—will institute a reign of terror in his stead.

Yrkoon and his followers despise Elric, whom they perceive as weak and a threat to Melnibone’s place of power. They devise a plot to kill him during a barbarian invasion from the sea. Elric leads a successful attack that routs the barbarians, but at his lowest ebb (Elric’s weak constitution requires him to take a potent concoction of daily drugs to maintain his energy), Yrkoon shoves him into the sea. Weak and weighed down by his armor he begins to drown.

Thinking Elric slain, Yrkoon sails home and assumes the throne. Elric, however, is saved by a whispered spell to an elemental god of the sea and returns to Melnibone to punish and exile his cousin. Aided by a handful of followers, Yrkoon takes Cymoril hostage and escapes the Dragon Isle to start an uprising in one of the barbarian kingdoms. The remainder of the book includes Elric’s quest to get Cymoril back, which culminates with Elric’s recovery of the powerful but cursed Stormbringer.

Elric of Menibone starts off exceedingly strong with some memorable description and characters. Moorcock succeeds in making Melnibone feel like an alien place, as torture, incest, and dining on human flesh are routine occurrences (a scene with the sinister court torturer/chief interrogator Dr. Jest—a thin, sinuous man wielding a merciless, razor-thin scalpel—is forever seared into my memory). Moorcock’s portrayal of magic is exactly the way I like it—powerful and capricious, accessed through great grimoires capable of summoning great powers of darkness, but also prone to turn on the caster in unpredictable ways.

For all its strengths, however, Elric of Melnibone—and in particular its sequels—are not perfect. Moorcock is blessed with a tremendous imagination, but at times I find that he fails to deliver on his promise. For example, we’re told that the Melnibonean sorcerer-kings engage in drugged dream-sleep that allows them to wander other worlds and universes, “consort with angels, demons, and violent, desperate men,” and learn the accumulated lore and magic of the Melnibonean race, all from their dream couches. As a result of these dream-quests, their minds are millennia old. It’s a great concept. And yet how does this activity result in a character like the impetuous Yrkoon, who acts like a spoiled 25-year-old prince instead of a thoughtful sage suffused with the wisdom of ages? I also found the Elric series slips into repetition in later books as Elric battles one demon after another. His world-weary attitude in itself grows tiring after several books as well.

Finally, I must state that I found this Audio Realms AudioBooksPlus presentation a mixed bag. The reader, Jeffery West, was talented and altered his voice enough to create recognizable characters. This version also featured a brief overview/introduction read by Moorcock himself, a very nice, unexpected bonus. But the production was marred by the head-scratching decision to play music in the background throughout the entire reading. This included a loud heartbeat sound played during dramatic scenes. After a while I ceased hearing the music, but at times it was jarring and took me out of the flow of the story.

Note to Audio Realms and other audio book producers: The thought is appreciated, but please drop the soundtracks and stick to the text.

Posted by Brian Murphy

LibriVox Noir: The Aeneid by Virgil

Aural Noir: Online Audio

LibriVoxOut now from LibriVox is an early English translation of an epic poem. Aeneas’s story is the story of the foundations of the Roman republic and the Roman empire. Its ethos plays an important role in shaping who we are nearly two millennia after it was written. I think of it as the first in a long tradition of NOIR LITERATURE. Sure, you thought that the story of Romulus and Remus was grim. But that’s much later in the history of the Roman people – at least according to the greatest Roman poet, Publius Vergilius Maro, better known as Virgil. Virgil wrote this earlier history of the Roman origins for his Emperor, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, better known as Augustus.

If you’ve read The Iliad you’ve already met Aeneas. The end of The Iliad is the beginning of The Aeneid. Aeneas leads his surviving, but homeless, Trojans to Italy, where they become the ancient ancestors to the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the second set of six books chronicle the war for the new Trojan homeland. In his war against the brave and honorable, but hot-headed Turnus, Aeneas keeps his cool (as a good Roman should). In fact, Aeneas is everything a good Roman should be, full of filial piety, brave, resistant to the temptations of distracting women, and ultimately ruthless.

Some scholars think that the final scene of this epic is unfinished. I understand why they think that, they say the meter is off, that Virgil died before he could make it fully symmetrical. I choose not to believe that. I choose to believe the final lines of this epic poem are exactly as Virgil intended: That is, COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY NOIR.

Here are the final lines of the poem’s Fitzgerald translation:

“Then to his glance appeared the accurst swordbelt surmounting Turnus’ shoulder, shining with its familiar studs – the strap Young Pallas wore when Turnus wounded him and left him dead upon the field; now Turnus bore that enemy token on his shoulder – enemy still. For when the sight came home to him, Aeneas raged at the relic of his anguish worn by this man as trophy. Blazing up and terrible in his anger, he called out: ‘You in your plunder, torn from one of mine, shall I be robbed of you? This wound will come from Pallas: Pallas makes this offering, and from your criminal blood exacts his due.’ He sank his blade in fury in Turnus’ chest…”

Aeneas, who throughout the rest of the poem symbolizes pietas (reason), in this final scene becomes furor (fury). Since this poem is considered the national epic of the Roman people, it seems fitting that the Roman virtues are at the fore of the concluding scene. Romans were vengeful, pitiless, with what Friedrich Nietzsche called a “master morality” – the morality of the strong-willed. What is good is what is helpful; what is bad is what is harmful. For Virgil, and Augustus, the strong-willed Roman morality is not needing the approval of a higher power. For us, in certain circumstances it leaves us saying things like… “Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

LibriVox Noir Audiobook - The Aeneid by VirgilThe Aeneid
By Publius Vergilius Maro; Translated by John Dryden; Read by various
24 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – 13 Hours 39 Minutes [POETRY]
Published: October 2008
The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who traveled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. The first six of the poem’s twelve books tell the story of Aeneas’ wanderings from Troy to Italy, and the poem’s second half treats the Trojans’ ultimately victorious war upon the Latins, under whose name Aeneas and his Trojan followers are destined to be subsumed. The poem was commissioned from Vergil by the Emperor Augustus to glorify Rome. Several critics think that the hero Aeneas’ abandonment of the Cartheginian Queen Dido, is meant as a statement of how Augustus’ enemy, Mark Anthony, should have behaved with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.

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Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Grist Mill: God of the Razor and If You Take My Hand, My Son

SFFaudio Review

Grist Mill - God of the RazorThe Grist Mill: “The God of the Razor” and “If You Take My Hand, My Son”
By Joe R. Lansdale and Mort Castle; Performed by a Full Cast
1 CD – 1 hour – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: STH Productions
Published: 2008
Themes: / Horror / Gods / Razors / Fathers / Afterlife /

A cloud across the moon can change the entire face of the night. It changes the way some people change their clothes… the way women change their hair.
— “God of the Razor”, Joe R. Lansdale

This CD contains two episodes from The Grist Mill audio drama series. The first is Joe R. Lansdale’s God of the Razor, which finds the protagonist confronting a weird guy in an empty house who talks about moons and clouds and eyes on his razor. (Note to self: if a weird guy mentions the word “razor”, it’s time to go, regardless of whether or not he sees eyes on them.) Like it says on the box, this one’s not for the squeamish.

Next is Mort Castle’s If You Take My Hand, My Son, which is a wrenching tale of a man who, after an accident, sees his father, who he had had a terrible time with when he lived. Is the man’s urge to reconcile with his father stronger than his will to live?

The audio drama is first rate – excellent actors, great sound, and two stories that are well worth hearing. So, if you are looking for a chill this Halloween, this collection would be an excellent choice.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

BBC: WS has Gaiman’s Anansi Boys as a Radio Drama

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC World ServiceA BBC World Service adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys starring Lenny Henry is going to be broadcast on BBCWS Radio stations later today.

God is dead. Meet the kids. When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie “Fat Charlie.” Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can’t shake that name, one of the many embarrassing “gifts” his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie’s life.

Anansi Boys - Audio DramaAnansi Boys
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman; Performed by a full cast
1 Broadcast – 1 Hour [AUDIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC World Service / World Drama
Broadcast: Nov 17th 2007 @ 20:01 GMT

This program should be available on the World Service’s “listen again” program for 7 days following the broadcast.

Posted by Jesse Willis