The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

SFFaudio Online Audio

The subject of SFFaudio Podcast #125 [which will be live Monday September 12th, 2011] is The Horla, a sort of ghost story by Guy de Maupassant. If you’re still not familiar with this particular Guy let me place him in context for you. He was one of the inventors of the short story and a master of the form. The stories he wrotes hold up incredibly well, being completely fresh despite being more than century old. His style is simple, straightforward and even more accessible than the works of either H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe (despite their tales having been written in English and his being written in French). Poe’s writings, of course, all preceded Guy de Maupassant. In fact Poe died the year before Maupassant was born! There’s kind of a succession going on here…

Poe -> Maupassant -> Lovecraft

…Maupassant died in in 1893, Lovecraft was born in 1890. But unlike so many of Maupassant’s tales, the ones that leave you smirking sympathetically at a collection of colourful characters, The Horla is not a tale of a social faux pas with an ironic twist – instead, I judge it as being three-fifths Science Fiction, two-fifths Horror, and 100% totally freaky!

Check out this haunting passage:

“The vulture has eaten the dove,
and the wolf has eaten the lamb;
the lion has devoured the sharp-horned buffalo,
and man has killed the lion with arrow, sword and gun;
but the Horla is going to make of man what we have made of the horse and the ox:
his chattel,
his servant
and his food,
by the mere exercise of his will.
Woe to us.”

I think what I like best about The Horla is the strong bent towards skepticism and naturalistic explanation that’s exhibited by the unnamed protagonist. He comes across like a hard Science Fiction reader, full of excitement for the wonders of the universe. He’s unwilling to accept magical explanations for the obviously strange phenomena he witnesses. He tells us his story in diary entries that seem to track both his mood, variously ebullient and depressed, as well as the facts and impressions of the strange happenings on his estate and elsewhere in France. When he leaves his seaside home, where the bulk of the action takes place, he relates a story that sounds like it must be fully supernatural. And in Paris, where he has first hand experience of disturbing para-psychological phenomena (post-hypnotic suggestion), he reserves judgement. And finally, when lying in bed he repeatedly experiences something we today might describe as sleep paralysis. Is it that the narrator insane? Or does the universe have a secret that is not yet widely known? Find out for yourself!

Here are two fantastic audiobook versions:

LibriVoxThe Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 11, 2009

Hypnobobs - The Horla by Guy de MaupassantThe Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Read by Jim Moon
1 |MP3| – Approx. 57 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Hypnobobs
Podcast: February 22, 2011
“Mr Jim Moon delves into classic French literature to unearth a seminal vampiric tale of creeping fear, dread and madness”

And from the same podcaster, a thorough and fascinating exploration the story and the film adaptation:

Hypnobobs - Diary Of A MadmanDiary Of A Madman
1 |MP3| – Approx. [DISCUSSION]
Podcaster: Hypnobobs
Podcast: March 05, 2011
“This week Mr Jim Moon launches into an in-depth discussion of Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla. Also we have a look at its screen adaptation – Diary of a Madman starring Vincent Price.”

There have been two audio dramatizations:

The Weird CircleThe Horla
Based on the story by Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: MBS, NBC, ABC
Broadcast: October 24, 1943

Mystery In The AirMystery In The Air – The Horla
By Guy de Maupassant; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 25 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: August 21, 1947
The Horla, written in 1887 by Guy de Maupassant, is an unusual horror tale about an invisible alien entity that seeks to inhabit and control human beings. It was cited by Lovecraft as being the inspiration for his classic story, The Call Of Cthulhu, and as an important forerunner to the weird horror genre pioneered by himself, August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and others, in the early-mid 20th century. This version, from Mystery in the Air (oddly, a summer replacement for the Abbott and Costello Show), benefits from a brisk script and a wonderful live performance by Peter Lorre as your weekly raging psychopath.”

Two stunning illustrations, by Lynd Ward, from The Horla:

The Horla - illustration by Lynd Ward

The Horla - illustration by Lynd Ward

An uncredited illustration from Library Of The World’s Best Mystery And Detective Stories, Volume 4:

The Horla - illustration from Library Of The World's Best Mystery And Detective Stories Volume 4

Here’s the trailer for the very loosely adapted 1963 movie starring Vincent Price:

Posted by Jesse Willis

19 Nocturne Boulevard: An adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Thing On The Doorstep

SFFaudio Online Audio

19 Nocturne Boulevard19 Nocturne Boulevard, created and run by audio dramatist Julie Hoverson, features original and adapted “strange stories” – the podcast alternates between completed productions, like the one below, and diary entry style production notes. I was mightily impressed by Hoverson’s adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s Science Fiction short story The Leech when I heard it back in February! It’s a terrific production by a talented cast. Hoverson has crafted her skill to a keen edge. I was jazzed to hear that she’d undertaken a new production of an H.P. Lovecraft classic, The Thing On The Doorstep which is a novelette first published in the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

I’m a sucker for stories with “Thing” in the title. A THING is not a he or a she. It isn’t a describable something – in fact, it’s very indescribability makes it damn intriguing – you, and the characters in the stories, ask questions “What the hell is that thing?!?!?!”

Now DC Comics had the Swamp Thing (a plant elemental) and Marvel had the Man-Thing (a “slow-moving, empathic, humanoid” that had once been a man). But it’s in short fiction especially that I find THINGS compelling. And when you start looking for these THINGS you’ll find dozens and dozens of stories with THING in the title. A couple of other good ones include The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce and The Thing On The Roof by Robert E. Howard. And in movies, of course, there is John Carpenter’s The Thing.

Now the particular THING in on this particular doorstep in Julie Hoverson’s adaptation is a whole other thing. I won’t give away, but I will say it certainly lives up to the mysterious nouny goodness of the title.

Lovecraft’s tales can be difficult to adapt, as they’re unusually wholly bereft of actual dialogue between characters (if there is even more than one character!). Julie Hoverson dramatizes the story’s form, which is a kind of confession/statement to police, using a combination of flashbacks and interrogation room scenes to tell the tale. The sound design is good, allowing us to tell who is who and where is where. The acting is also pretty solid with most of the lines coming off as if recorded live on set. Have a listen!

19 Nocturne Boulevard - The Thing On The DoorstepThe Thing On The Doorstep
Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft; Adapted by Julie Hoverson; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 33 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: 19 Nocturne Boulevard
Podcast: August 15, 2011
What does a man do when his new bride really, really wants his body?.

Dan Upton – Mark Olson
Officer Flatbush – Reynaud LeBoeuf
Officer Malone – Danar Hoverson
Edward Derby – Paul Cram (imdb)
Asenath Derby – Angela Kirby
Jean – Julie Hoverson
Clerk – Suzanne Dunn
Orderly – Gene Thorkildsen
Dr. Castle – Marshal Latham
“Roman” girl – Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard

Music from the first soundtrack album from the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast

Editing and Sound – Julie Hoverson
Cover Design – Brett Coulstock

Podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 2

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

As a special CANADA DAY treat for everyone worldwide, has scored the entire 2nd Season of The Red Panda Adventures! The entire season is up and ready for download today! And here’s our review of it…

Podiobooks Audio Drama: The Red Panda Adventures - Season TwoThe Red Panda Adventures – Season Two
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a FULL CAST
12 MP3 Files – Approx. 5.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: /
Published: 2006/2007
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Supervillains / 1930s / Toronto / Secret Identities / Hypnotism / Magic / Parallel Worlds /

Mad Monkey: “Security pays, but it can’t live without fear. And all I want is my cut.” -Episode 20: Monkeyshines

Like the first season of The Red Panda Adventures, season two is an incontestably enjoyable frolic through original, but familiar, comic book territory. The Red Panda and his faithful driver, Kit Baxter (AKA Flying Squirrel), patrol Toronto rooftops by static boot, and whunk their way through superhero sized pneumatic tubes concealed about the city, fighting wrongdoers. New and old supervillains, voiced by professional audio actors, execute egregious crimes that can only be foiled by a prosperous panda with hypnotic powers and a volitant rodent with a mean right-hook.

The second season has more of what made the first season so terrific. Standouts in traditional storytelling include episode 14: The Sunday Supplement, Episode 16: The Sweet Tooth, and Episode 20: Monkeyshines. The latter introduces a terrific new antagonist called “The Mad Monkey,” an arch-scoundrel on par with DC Comics rogues like The Joker and The Penguin. Season two also has a few episodes that expand the storytelling in different directions. Episode 18, for instance, was the long requested Secret Origins episode – in which we discover the first ever meeting of Panda and Squirrel. Episode 15: When Darkness Falls tells its tale from the perspective of a young boy in a city with a vigilante superhero. And episode 24: The World Next Door posits the existence of an alternate universe in which the Red Panda is a Nazi fighter and the Flying Squirrel is a teenage boy! In naming this show an SFFaudio essential I’ve got to cite both the writing and the production. The acting here is absolutely tops. Recording the scenes in-studio, together, works. The writing is perky, puissant, perfect, and seemingly effortless. The series scribe, Gregg Taylor, is a master storyteller.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 1

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Podiobooks Audio Drama: The Red Panda Adventures - Season OneThe Red Panda Adventures – Season One
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a FULL CAST
12 MP3 Files – Approx. 5.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: /
Published: 2005/2006
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Supervillains / 1930s / Toronto / Secret Identities / Hypnotism /

Flying Squirrel: “We could have two super-power’d loons on our hands.” -Episode 11: Duality

Masks, grapple-guns, static boots, retractable membranes, ring-radios? Check. Supervillains with names like The Golden Claw, The Electric Eel and Diablo? Check. Okay then, tune your podcatcher to ‘pure pulp’ and break out the hockey organ because The Red Panda Adventures – Season One is ready to glide into justice. This first 12 episode season is full of flying kung fu fists, mesmerizing hypnosis, snappy dialog and mystery. Most memorable for me are the characters and the dialogue. Plot lines are reminiscent of comic-book and radio serials from yesteryear but the parlance is all modernistic as filtered through a roaring-twenties speech pattern paradigm. Episode 2: Night Mission and Episode: 7 Red Panda Wanted Dead Or Alive stood-out because these episodes highlighted the interaction between the love-blind hero, Red Panda, and his adoring sidekick The Flying Squirrel. The Panda’s superpowers are a cross between those of The Green Hornet and The Shadow. He’s a master hypnotist, able to cloud the minds of villains. Other fun aspects are the introduction of other superheroes and superhero groups, in a way the whole show reminds me of animated version of The Tick if it were played slightly straighter.

The Red Panda Adventures – Season One is a super-fun diversion delivered in delicious half-hour doses. The only thing better than the production of this fab audio drama series is the vocal talent. I get endless kicks out of the sexual tension between the oblivious Red Panda and his pining sidekick/driver Kit Baxter. Their city, 1930s Toronto, is quieter than many other audio dramas, I hear less foley and fewer sound effects, I like that they aren’t obsessed with putting in the sound of footsteps in every scene – it usually isn’t necessary. Also nice is that from episode one of this series this show really works. This is probably because of the experience gained during the previous Red Panda incarnation (a six episode series set during WWII). Season Two is already underway and I look forward to devouring it too.

Posted by Jesse Willis