The Country Of The Blind by H.G. Wells

SFFaudio Online Audio

TITLE - The Country O fThe Blind by H.G. Wells

Here’s the editorial introduction to The Country Of The Blind from Amazing Stories, December 1927:

We take many things for granted in this world. We accept many preconceived notions about an amazing large number of things, which, like as not prove to be amazingly wrong. If any story ever proved this point, The Country Of The Blind certainly is that one. The author exploits the well-known saying , “In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” Indeed that statement is most easy to believe and all logic should point that way. In reading this interesting story, you will soon find out how far wrong even seemingly good logic can be.

The above, presumably written by Hugo Gernsback himself, ably covers most of what I thought to say about this story. But that didn’t quite stop me.

This audiobook was my first time reading this story. I’m starting to think that H.G. Wells always wrote allegory and fable. The main character in this piece, and all Wellsian fiction, is completely unlikeable. The society he creates is unlikeable too. What does it say about me that I appreciated the story, even if I didn’t like it? What does it say about modern SF that stories with unlikeable protagonists in unlikeable societies are so few?

I guess I appreciated The Country Of The Blind because there’s a very deep skepticism to it, about human nature, about society but most importantly about the claim of wisdom. Man is a foolish, foolish beast. His only guide to the future is what has come before. But we’re always tempted to take some distilled bit of wisdom and use it that to do our thinking for us. What does it say for us when for every proverb we use to rationalize a decsion there is another proverb that could have supported an alternate?

Better, perhaps, to reject proverb entirely.

LibriVoxThe Country Of The Blind
By H.G. Wells; Read by llite (aka George Cooney)
1 |MP3| – Approx. 61 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 17, 2010
While attempting to summit the unconquered crest of Parascotopetl, a mountaineer named Nunez slips and falls down the far side of the mountain. At the end of his descent, down a snow-slope in the mountain’s shadow, he finds a valley, cut off from the rest of the world on all sides by steep precipices. Nunez has discovered the fabled Country of the Blind. The valley had been a haven for settlers fleeing the tyranny of Spanish rulers until an earthquake reshaped the surrounding mountains and cut it off forever from future explorers. The isolated community prospered over the years despite a disease that struck them all blind. As the blindness slowly spread over the generations and the last sighted villager had died, the community had fully adapted to life without vision. First published in the April 1904 issue of the Strand Magazine.

The Country Of The Blind - illustrated by Frank R. Paul

Included below are all the audio drama adaptations I could find. I recommend the episode of Escape with Paul Frees.

EscapeEscape – The Country Of The Blind
Based on the story by H.G. Wells; Adapted by John Dunkel; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: November 26, 1947
produced/directed by William N. Robson
Cast:
William Conrad … Ibarra
Paul Frees … Nunez
Produced/directed by William N. Robson

EscapeEscape – The Country Of The Blind
Based on the story by H.G. Wells; Adapted by John Dunkel; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: June 20, 1948
Cast:
Berry Kroeger … Ibarra
Paul Frees … Nunez

EscapeEscape – The Country Of The Blind
Based on the story by H.G. Wells; Adapted by John Dunkel; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: March 20, 1949.
Cast:
Berry Kroeger … Ibarra
Edmund O’Brien … Nunez
Produced/directed by Norman MacDonnell

SuspenseSuspense – The Country Of The Blind
Based on the story by H.G. Wells; Adapted by John Dunkel and William N. Robson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 19 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: October 27, 1957
Cast:
Raymond Burr

SuspenseSuspense – The Country Of The Blind
Based on the story by H.G. Wells; Adapted by John Dunkel and William N. Robson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 24 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: December 13, 1959
Cast:
Bernard Grant
Produced/directed by Paul Roberts

Favorite Story Favorite Story – Strange Valley
Based on The Country Of The Blind by H.G. Wells; Adapted by ???; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 27 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: KFI
Broadcast: April 23, 1949
Cast:
Ronald Coleman … Nunez

[via Escape-Suspense.com]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade by Edgar Allan Poe

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade by Edgar Allan Poe - illustration by Frank R. Paul

Here’s the uncredited editorial introduction, presumably by Hugo Gernsback himself, to The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade as it appeared in the May 1928 issue of Amazing Stories:

“When we realize that this story was written nearly 100 years ago, we must marvel at the extraordinary fertile imagination of Poe. Poe was probably the inventor of “Scientifiction” as we know it today, and just because the story was written almost a century ago, certainly does not make it less valuable. On the contrary, it becomes more valuable as time passes. It is just as applicable to the modern man, who is mostly in the fog about what goes on around him in science today, as his predecessors were a century ago.”

Indeed, if you read it straight through, without pausing to read the footnotes, you’ll probably only get a vague sense of what’s going on in this story. And though I think I tumbled to the idea pretty early on, I still found myself in many places echoing the king’s many harrumphs. I’m not one to use the term “genius” lightly, but if anyone is worthy of the term, it is certainly Edgar Allan Poe. Even in his lesser works, like The Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade, there is a wry brilliance that may be entirely matchless.

LibriVoxThe Thousand-And-Second Tale Of Scheherazade
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 55 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox
Published: October 1, 2009
First published in the February 1845 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.

And here’s the matching |PDF|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #124 – READALONG: Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #124 – a discussion of the Audible Frontiers audiobook Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein with Scott, Jesse, and Tamahome.

Talked about on today’s show:
“We believe that an armed society is a polite society”, under the pen name Anson MacDonald, his 2nd novel, For Us The Living was first, “no nudity or free love”, The Amazing, The Astounding, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont, “a string of ideas broken up by action”, like two novellas put together, a novel about genetics and dueling, list of characters and terms, reversed names like Korea, “he’s a special guy”, moderators, germplasm, “sperm wars”, engineering away violence, Gattaca, Brave New World, “great egg!”, naturals, experimentals, written in the time of Hitler, kids are like Dune, Felix wonders what’s the point, reincarnation?, “says crazy ideas like they’re common sense”, synthesist, Scott has some quotes ready, Felix doesn’t want kids, “Felix just needs a good woman”, rambunctious scene with Felix and Phyllis, “I’m gonna kiss ya!”, Galactic Suburbia would not like this book, Heinlein’s characters, frozen football player, “everyone’s going to be a telepath”, John W. Campbell, “they don’t talk about telepathy anymore”, Podkayne Of Mars, Heinlein and fertility, Heinlein FAQ, the economic system — Social Credit, Beyond This Horizon on Wikipedia, spread the wealth, “What is money?”, it all goes to 0’s and 1’s, waterbed conception, The John W. Campbell Letters, bringing up super-writers, we never change, Campbell hated Dune Messiah, Felix is a “starline”, no Heinlein sequels??, “needs more telepathy”, best Heinlein novel?, Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Double Star is like Moon Over Parador with Richard Dreyfuss, Starship Troopers has an action-packed start, Heinlein’s short stories like By His Bootstraps with Dreyfuss dramatized on 2000X, Red Planet with pet ball that’s an alien (now I get the Willis joke), Have Spacesuit Will Travel starts well, Heinlein as a dad, Fullcast Audio did a lot of these, Tunnel In The Sky just arrived and is like The Hunger Games, it’s a sci-fi Lord Of The Flies, Full Cast Audio is trying to be family friendly, nudity, worst Heinlein plot?, will the future remember football?, the sport “bligablong”, let’s read the opening, “the halt?”, serialized like The Space Merchants, “it’s all of those things and much more!”, it’s quotable, is the U.S. more polite?, England, duels are stressful, old reviews, 1900-1950 era, 1984, Brave New World, Heinlein starts the SF novel and hardback trend, Hugo Gernsback, Scott loved Foundation, Nazis on the moon, Rocket Ship Galileo, generation ship in Universe (nice old cover), “sucker for space.”

Beyond This Horizon - cover illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction May 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

SIGNET - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

New English Library - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Signet Science Fiction - T4211 - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Adventure Books, No. 1, Winter 1952 - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Adventure Books, No. 1, Winter 1952 - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Science Adventure Books, No. 1, Winter 1952 - Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by Tamahome

The First Edition – interview with Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl

SFFaudio Online Audio

TVOF - The Voices Of FandomForgive me, I’ve posted part of this before, but it’s good enough to post twice. Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov were interviewed for a 1972 show called The First Edition. Apparently the show never aired, and was never edited.

THE FIRST EDITION – FIRST SHOW – 1972 – Raw interview material for unfinished show”

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

I repost the interview, in part because of how damn cool it is, and also in part because it is just the excuse I need to post what might very well be Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov first appearance together in print (in the letters column of the June 1939 issue of Thrilling Wonder Stories). Be sure to listen, it’s a terrific interview! In it Asimov responds to the “New Wave” and attacks neo-Luddites, and Pohl protests the takeover of Science Fiction by the “English lit majors” (Pohl didn’t finish high school).

Be sure to read the letters below in which the two Brooklyn boys, Fred and Isaac, grumble about SF. Pohl has some sharp words for the art of Frank R. Paul and Asimov swears he will eat Uranus!

Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov in the letters column of Thrilling Wonder Stories - June 1939

[via The Voices Of Fandom and with props to “Burbank396”]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #113

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #113 – Jesse and Eric S. Rabkin talk about Stupidity and Intelligence in Science Fiction (and Fantasy).

Talked about on today’s show:
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse, Fantasia, Christopher Marlowe‘s The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, Brothers Grimm Clever Hans (the fairy tale), Clever Hans (the horse), War With The Newts by Karel Čapek, Excerpt from (Book Two – Up the Ladder of Civilisation), trephination, “there are some things man was not meant to know”, evil science and evil scientists, R.U.R., Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein is an egotist whereas the creature wants community, Chapter 11 of Frankenstein, intellect vs. empathy, “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of knowledge which I sought.”, the ideology of intelligence is suspect, Gulliver’s Travels, Laputa, philosophers, The Clouds by Aristophanes, “head in the clouds”, BBC Radio dramatization of Lysistrata, The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle, “the big bang”, telepathy, Gregg Margarite, “Genius in not a biological phenomenon.”, “stupid people can have smart babies and smart people can have stupid babies”, eugenics, sterilization programs, “we know so little about what we mean by intelligence”, “we breed against the outliers”, “If I see further than others it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants”, Sir Isaac Newton, Newton vs. Leibniz, Darwin vs. Wallace vs. Darwin’s grandfather, Robert A. Heinlein, “steam engine time”, Columbus and the egg, humans (persons) can compound our intelligence, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Charly, “we shouldn’t define humanity by our intelligence”, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, flowers from Weena, “fundamental humanity has to do with emotion and not intelligence”, He, She and It by Marge Piercy, programming a robot with stories, Yod is a robot-like golem, “it was immoral to create a conscious weapon”, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Eric is the world’s least reliable critic of The Doomsday Book, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, philosophy of science, the meaning of weapon, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, tool vs. weapon, “we have one mad scientist after another”, Gojira!, Ozymandias, Watchmen, Understand by Ted Chiang, “talking to babies”, “if everyone in the world around you is an idiot…what kind of relationship can you have with the world”, His Masters Voice by Stanisław Lem, Hogarth is an incredibly intelligence person, Edgar Allan Poe, Audible Frontier’s Solaris: The Definite Edition, The Futurological Congress, Isaac Asimov, Eric puts on his professorial hat, nous, the etymology of the word “intelligence”, Asimov reads between the lines for you, the etymology of the word “stupid”, what’s with the word “sentient” in Science Fiction?, Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, ansible, “sentience is the bag that we put all our coding for equally human”, was Larry Niven the prime promulgator of the SF version of “sentience”?, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, “words are a map on the world”, The Time Machine, evolution and the clash of the classes, Wells respects the intelligence of his readers, Morlocks vs. Eloi, the King James version of the Bible, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani“, Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories, “whizz bang sensofwunda”, The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells, “the warp drive is not important”, “the ansible is not important”, “we are all time travelers”, “in Wells’ greatest works he leaves some part of the story open”, “but whether this was a reprieve for us or them only time will tell”, Experiment In Autobiography by H.G. Wells, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”, Friedrich Schiller, reporters became cynical now they just go see what’s happening on Facebook, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth is public domain, much of Kornbluth is PD because he died so young, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, Idiocracy, stupid people have lots of (stupid) babies (?), what’s wrong with The Marching Morons?, PLENTY!, “The Marching Chinese”, Thomas Robert Malthus, eugenics and dysgenics, what ties do genetics and intelligence have?, a very high fraction of American presidents have been left handed, immigrant groups produce terrific comedians, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, storing up ideas for my “word hoard”.

The Marching Chinese

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #103

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #103 – Scott, Jesse, Eric S. Rabkin and Luke Burrage talk about FOOD in Science Fiction and Fantasy. It is rather unpleasantly like being drunk.

Talked about on today’s show:
Luke’s got a twelve hour hunger, fairy tales, Fantasy, food sharing is coming to know the alien, what food is served in a Canadian restaurant?, Kwakiutl vs. Kwakwaka’wakw, pemmican, voyageurs, THE YELLOW PERIL podcast (The SFFaudio Podcast #051), Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein’s creation was a vegetarian, Paradise Lost, Genesis, Cain vs. Abel, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, the three stages of eating: veggies -> meat -> people, aliens, crazy vs. odd, inedia (fasting), breatharianism, Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, inspired by spirits, Neuromancer, communion, puns, Foods of the Gods: Eating And The Eaten In Fantasy And Science Fiction (Proceedings Of The J. Lloyd Eaton Conference On Science Fiction And Fantasy Lite) edited by Eric S. Rabkin, Gary Westfahl and George Edgar Slusser, more puns, The Futurological Congress by Stanisław Lem, consuming books, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Michael Kandel, The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, evolution and food, food in pill form, Tang, Firefly, Science Fiction: prediction of the future vs. sign of the future, jetpacks, capsulized food is symbolic, lembas is super-power bread, energy drinks, food as a representation of our relationships with our bodies, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, yet more puns, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, food and pretty dresses, baking and bread have deep roots, Voyage To The Moon by Cyrano de Bergerac, no one ever sees a baker eating, food imagery, the centrality of bread in SFF only matches that of religion, the bread yes – the blood no, Osiris, Egypt, Greece, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, List of races and species in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the babel fish, “it’s not the babel worm”, fish as a symbol, Pythagoras, professor smackdown, Tower Of Babel, food and sexuality, urban romance, Eat Prey Love, “man does not live by bread alone” vs. “forbidden fruit”, bread as technology, breadfruit, the garden of Eden, the tree of knowledge vs. the tree of immortality vs. the rubber tree, Trantor, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, Coruscant, Star Wars, Sam Parkhill, The Off Season by Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles, the best hot dog stand on Mars, The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, the national food of America is the hot dog, the hot dog is the symbol of America, Manhattan, “hot dog stands all the way down”, meat paste, man as food, To Serve Man by Damon Knight, Alien, The Logic Of Fantasy by John Huntington, cannibalism, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Galápagos by Kurt Vonnegut, The Genocides by Thomas M. Disch, The Screwfly Solution by James Triptree Jr., Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, further punning, vat grown meat, breeding animals to be less intelligent, a very meaty topic, Caviar by Theodore Sturgeon, vegetarianism, Fallen Dragon by Peter F. Hamilton, Luke is on the wrong side of meat history, being as unnatural as possible is what makes us human, a continuing journey towards humanity (marching on our stomachs?), social animals, mothers make food for you – witches make food of you, choosing not to eat meat vs. choosing to be monogamous, dolphin eating habits (are they porpoiseful eaters?), eating dolphin is out of line (for Luke), exploring the possibilities of empathy, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, empathy vs. compassion, Technovelgy.com’s entry on food, an overly inclusive notion of what constitutes invention, CBC Spark, visiscreens and visiplates, Ralph 124C 41+ by Hugo Gernsback, Minding Tomorrow by Luke Burrage, Technovelgy needs more wiki, Wikipedia is endlessly useful, automated restaurant, The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells, food has functions beyond just sustaining our bodies, George Birdseye, Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, coffee, sharing meals via Skype.

Posted by Jesse Willis