The SFFaudio Podcast #434 – READALONG: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #434 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Julie Davis and Maissa Bessada talk about The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet

Talked about on today’s show:
Peter Lorre is not in Dracula, 1929, Black Mask, Sam Spade, The Dain Curse, 1941 movie, Star Trek: The Next Generation: “The Big Goodbye”, Mr Leech, Laurence Tierney, Cyrus Redblock, Sindey Greenstreet, Gutman, Brigid O’Shaughnessy, The Black Bird (1975), Wilmer, The Twilight Zone, Effie Perine, his mom is his secretary, watching for kicks, seeing the bird in colour, Satan Met A Lady (1936), the BBC Saturday Night Theatre adaptation, John Huston, Constantinople became Istanbul, we disagreed!, too right to fool with, we agreed!, Raymond Chandler vs. Dashiell Hammet, same genre, so heavy on description, a Pinkerton man, doing the right thing (for different reasons), hard-boiled to the core, a narrow code, moral problems, big on description and framing scenes, immersed into the world by following the words, seeing the movie in the book, seeing the power, an ‘impatient grimace’ is stage direction, text devoted to description, the opposite of a Philip K. Dick novel, what film does, the scene where Bogart leaves after pretending to be angry, that shaking hand, best screenplay adaptation, unlike Philip Marlowe, who is the homophobe? the author or the character or both or neither?, a perspective, we notice like she does, don’t blame me for being a fake, is there a homophobe?, Brigid is baiting Cairo, the one you couldn’t make, when you’re slapped you’ll take it and like it, you could make a strong case, Jesse was baiting, what Spade is doing, who is the gay man in this story, Wilmer gets the slurs, Joel Cairo, smells of gardenia, fruity, a Greek passport, speculation that Gutman is gay, a gay gang or a queer gang, genial, William Dufris’ narration of the novel, thinking for oneself, a blonde Satan, the teeth thing, a trademark, Humphrey Bogart, another kind of gay man, “the boy” “Wilmer you’re like a son to me, but sons can be replaced. There’s only one Maltese Falcon”, a really strange family, where Julie goes for her gay family information, Wesley Crusher’s mom, touching Picard, a weird family meeting in Picard’s ready room, the Klingon, Data the Pinocchio character, the characters in the holodeck story, the detective friend, all after “the item”, what makes the dynamic so awesome, the highest point in the film, “I spent 17 years looking”, let’s go to Constantinople, Peter Lorre has purpose and meaning, they invite Spade to come along, the movie makers loved, it the audience loved it, and that’s how we get Casablanca, reuniting over and over, three kinds of men, the tough cynical tough guy with a code, the sycophant (the leech), I need you stand with your hands behind your neck, every future episode, that pistol, that is why we love Joel Cairo, the Gutman Sidney Greenstreet is so dynamic, I love talking to a man who loves to talk, the palming of the $1,000 bill, I have to have my games, apologizing while insulting, the key to his relationship with Wilmer, Gutman loves manipulation, find me a character that isn’t manipulating, even Effie is manipulating, everybody is manipulating everybody, what the hell!?, a hetero sort of version of the gay team, Archer’s cheating, there’s a woman out here, she’s a spectacularly bad judge of character, everybody is cynically manipulating everybody else, even the cops are in on it, the Star Trek adaptation, sharing pickled pig feet, not with those caps, here to offer insight, Julie’s going to disagree halfway through, why does this novel work so well, as opposed to any of the other Dashiell Hammett novels, chasing a whatsit, almost identical plots: Ronin (1998), an international cast, San Fransisco, “I need a kiss”, everybody is manipulating each other, the great whatsit, the McGuffin, Mike Spillane a glowing suitcase, the room lights up and you’re face comes off, Pulp Fiction, why does this all resonate, in a world without God we do not have any purpose for existence, the price of the Maltese Falcon goes up and up and up, it could be worth an infinite amount of museum, something worth chasing after, maybe my life can regain a purpose, we get a sense of ‘oh yes, this is something can chase after’, why we love they don’t kill Gutman is they are allowed to go one along with their quest, that god shaped hole, high five, Scott! Scott!, the Flitcraft case in chapter 7, looking at it very obliquely, death is real, not the life he wants, he recreates the life he was living, the proper pronunciation of “Spokane”, what’s the point of the Flitcraft story, Spade telling a story, fleshing Spade out, how Spade wound up in San Fransisco, coming out of the mists, backstories, a ball of snow rolling down a hill, Cairo’s backstory, that’s why he’s a private detective, captured by pirates, lost in France for history, not Mr Wells’ history, a history of humanity, a micro-story,

He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them.

“It was not, primarily, the injustice of it that disturbed him: he accepted that after the first shock. What disturbed him was the discovery that in sensibly ordering his affairs, he had got out of step, not into step, with life. He said he knew before he had got twenty feet from the fallen beam that he would never know peace again until he had adjusted himself to this new glimpse of life. By the time he had eaten his luncheon, he had found his means of adjustment. Life could be ended for him at random by a falling beam: he would change his life at random by simply going away. He loved his family, he said, as much as he supposed was usual, but he knew he was leaving them adequately provided for, and his love for them was not of the sort that would make absence painful.

how perfectly fascinating, she’s always lying, Tacoma, you’re never going to change, she doesn’t get it, I’ve lied so long I don’t know how to do anything else, s specific note, a specific word, thank you for saying “fuck”, this book had censorship, the word “gunsel”, punk, a male prostitute or sex slave, projecting homophobia, a back and forth exchange, in the lobby of a hotel, “the fairy”, New York aren’t you, Baumes’ rush (the 1920s equivalent of the three strikes law), bums and hobos and gunsels, shove off, you can tell G I said so, he never brings his eyes up, he’s almost not there, shove off, performance art, that would go over big on 7th avenue, censorship, sailors, where sailors go to pick up…, to shake loose information, he’s employing homophobic language to provoke, Miskatonic.org Rara Avis (the rare bird), bulletin boards, amateur scholars, he can’t act, a Lux Theatre adaptation, Hollywood actors recreating movies as radio dramas, Edward G. Robinson as Sam Spade, a strange line, You’re the sister of the boy who stood on the burning deck, Casabianca, we don’t know how Casablanca came to be, a great classic out of a filler, a wonderful confluence of events, strange international relations, Vichy France, the Nazis, that great speech, a romantic positive speech, come around to me in 20 years, do you think either one of them loved each other?, his philandering, they’re all angels, what does love leave to them, he’s the hetero version of Cairo, sent to sleep with the Russian, a fun speech (pure bullshit), the ending of Casablanca, this could be the beginning of a beautiful…, Jesse’s independent research, the letter of transit is the Maltese Falcon, they ripped this off!, a solid but unspectacular hit, a work of genius, standing the test of time, you’re principles, she’s worth and so is the boyfriend, cipher, what does that amount to?, not a hill of beans (in this crazy world), here’s my code, I’m not playing the sap for you, low spirits, by late 1941, the cynicism, a comedy by accident, comedy, you’ll forgive me but it’s not good for me to be alone with you, poor Joel Cairo, we can give up you, it’s really striking when they replicate that relationship, Spade made a cigarette, Lauren Bacall, a kind of remake of Casablanca, To Have And Have Not, Bold Venture, Slate Shannon and Sailor Duvall and King Moses, set in Havana, playing to type, ideas vs. character, a story full of ideas – but demonstrated, Hammett leaves you to put it together, what was going on his head?, Red Harvest, even leaner, his style is amazing, he’s super-smart, he doesn’t put genius into the characters, people make movies about his life, fought in both WWI and WWII, evil mercenaries operating for giant evil corporations, Lillian Hellman, HUAC, throw a veteran of two world wars thrown in prison as “unamerican”, The Thin Man, The Adventures Of Sam Spade, talking everybody’s space away, the original Rat Pack, Errol Flynn, Eva Gardner, quite a pack, the den mother, a good to do list for anybody, she’s wise beyond her years, self-possessed, a match for any man, You Must Remember This podcast: Bogie Before Bacall, Bacall After Bogie, so 1945, asking Peter Lorre for dating advice, another really wise guy, better five good years than nothing, go for it you idiot!

Black Mask, September 1929 - The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon and Humphrey Bogart
The Maltese Falcon (Folio Society)
The Maltese Falcon meets The Call Of Cthulhu - illustration by DOUGLAS KLAUBA

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4 + RA.cc: JAMES BOND: From Russia With Love RADIO DRAMA

Aural Noir: Online Audio

From Russia With Love is the third James Bond RADIO DRAMA made for BBC Radio 4 by the wife and husband team of Rosalind Ayres and Martin Jarvis. And it’s absolutely wonderful!

Compared to the movie adaptation, which complicates the plot and adds in more action sequences, this radio drama versio of the novel is much more of a straight-up espionage thriller. In fact it’s so straight-up it feels kind of like an episode of The Sandbaggers. Smart, realistic, gritty. But as with any Bond tale it’s also loaded with sexiness. I’m really in awe at the skill and scale of these adaptations.

Toby Stephens is absolutely terrific as Bond. And Olga Fedori, the spy who loves him, is the best “Bond girl” I’ve ever heard. Fedori plays Corporal Tatiana Romanova, the a Soviet state assigned seductress of 007. She’s a pawn in a game being played by SMERSH, the counter-intelligence agency of the Red Army.

Within the luxurious ninety minutes of the play you get a real sense of a story being told.

When I watch the James Bond movies it rarely occurs to me that there’s much of a plot in between the action sequences. In fact, I don’t well recall any of the Bond movie plots very distinctly. The movies, even though I mostly love them, are more apt to treat the plot’s premise as an excuse to get to the next exotic location or to the next fantastic stunt sequence. They’re more cartoon than novel. Not so with this adaption. Colonel Rosa Klebb, one of the big baddies of both, is creepy like she is in the movie, but with this radio adaptation you’ll almost feel bad for her in her later scenes. The one liners are there, but they’re not laughing jokes as much as they are punctuation marks for the gallows humour of Bond.

The radio drama adaptation offers a two kinds of Russian love, the sentimental and the soft, and the hard and the ruthless.

Indeed, the intimacy of audio version is amazing. Bundled up snugly on the Orient Express with the two sexy cold war era spies is a wondrous treat you can’t afford to let yourself miss.

Olga Fedori as Tatiana Romanova and Toby Stephens as James Bond

BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccSFFaudio EssentialFrom Russia With Love
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 87 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play
Broadcast: July 21, 2012
Provider: RadioArchive.cc
It’s 1955 and the Russians plan an act of terrorism. Choice of target? James Bond. To be ‘killed with ignominy’: a major sex scandal will leave his reputation, and that of MI6, in tatters. Colonel Rosa Klebb of the KGB devises a plan to lure Bond into their trap, using beautiful Corporal Tatiana Romanova as bait – plus a Spektor, the latest Russian decoding device. MI6 learns that Tatiana wants to defect and ‘M’ orders Bond to Istanbul. When Tatiana makes contact she seems to be in love with him – but is she? Either way, he soon falls for her and they leave Istanbul together, accompanied by larger-than-life Darko Kerim, Head of British Intelligence in Turkey. The climax of the drama includes a surprising confrontation between Bond and the murderous Rosa Klebb. In writer Archie Scottney’s brilliantly evocative ‘radio screenplay’, we see another side to 007. Unsure of his judgement, can he bring the lovely Tatiana safely to England, along with the precious Spektor? Will the Russians succeed in having Bond killed? If so, who is the would-be murderer?

Cast:
General/Rene ….. John Sessions
Kronsteen ….. Mark Gatiss
Major/KGB director/Barman ….. Jon Glover
Rosa Klebb ….. Eileen Atkins
James Bond ….. Toby Stephens
May ….. Aileen Mowat
‘M’ …… John Standing
Moneypenny ….. Janie Dee
‘Q’ ….. Julian Sands
Kerim ….. Tim Pigott-Smith
Manager/Conductor ….. Matthew Wolf
Tatiana ….. Olga Fedori
Announcer ….. Micky Stratford
Nash ….. Nathaniel Parker
Ian Fleming ….. Martin Jarvis

Specially composed music by Mark Holden and Michael Lopez

Director: Martin Jarvis
Producer: Rosalind Ayres
A Jarvis & Ayres production for BBC Radio 4.

From Russia With Love

Tatiana Romanova, the Hagia Sophia, and the Orient Express

Trailer for the movie version:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4X + RA.cc: Topkapi by Eric Ambler

Aural Noir: Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 ExtraRadioArchives.ccAccording to the Wikipedia entry, BBC Radio 7 was renamed BBC Radio 4 Extra back in April. I’m not much for re-branding – it’s a grubby little idea that makes me think of scientific management, focus groups and meetings … endless … unproductive … meetings. The more I think about meetings the less I want to think.

Hopefully the new name will last a few years, and then perhaps BBC management can go ahead and arrange to have a meeting about considering the update of their antiquated delivery methods – perhaps they’ve already started as I hear they’ve finally dropped RealAudio (the web’s first big audio technology).

Speaking of delivery methods, I discovered my first interesting BBC Radio 4 Extra offering over on RadioArchive.cc. RA.cc is my favourite site for public radio, its chock full of great taxpayer funded programming. The site is extremely well organized and make even people who are wary of the word “torrent” comfortable with the technology. Files are, naturally, in the MP3 format, and when well seeded, a program the size of Topkapi will take only about TEN minutes to download. That’s service folks!

Topkapi, aka The Light Of Day, is a 1962 novel Eric Ambler. I’d heard about it – but until it showed up on RadioArchive.cc I never even thought to investigate it. Well, after investigating it turns out that The Light Of Day was an Edgar Award winning novel, 1964, and has a fair cachet in espionage and crime fiction circles. The name change, for this reading, was likely done to remind BBC listeners of the movie – Topkapi is pretty famous, the Ottoman Sultans used it as their personal residence as well as an “impregnable fortress” that housed its famous seraglio/harem.

the Topkapi Palace by night

The Wikipedia entry for Ambler has this gem:

“A recurring theme in Ambler’s books is the amateur who finds himself unwillingly in the company of hardened criminals or spies. Typically, the protagonist is out of his depth and often seems for much of the book a bumbling anti-hero, yet eventually manages to surprise himself as well as the professionals by a decisive action that outwits his far more experienced opponents.”

That certainly fits Topkapi.

I can’t say how much of the novel was excised for this abridgement, but I can say the novel definitely works as a quick listen. There are some unnecessary sound effects added, but when they show up they don’t overwhelm the text. The story is told in first person, by the clever, but unlucky anti-hero. David Westhead, the reader, is truly excellent in performing the lead character. He’s got a wonderfully subdued humor, and the voice and accent work he provides for the man supporting characters adds a lot of color.

Topkapi by Eric AmblerTopkapi (aka The Light Of Day)
By Eric Ambler; Read by David Westhead
Six 30 minute episodes – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Broadcast: May 2011
Source: RadioArchive.cc
Small time operator Arthur Abdel Simpson is an illegitimate stateless half British half Egyptian pimp and pornographer. He makes his living fleecing tourists in Athens, Greece. When he picks up a likely looking pigeon at the airport he soon discovers that he’s the one in trouble. He’s then blackmailed into driving a car to Istanbul.

1/6. Minor crook Arthur Abdel Simpson spots a likely mark at Athens airport
2/6. Arthur Simpson is interrogated by Turkish security for unintentional arms smuggling.
3/6. Arthur is now seconded to Turkish security. He also has to work at the suspect’s villa.
4/6. Unwilling agent Simpson watches a group of ‘tourists’, while he works as their driver.
5/6. Arthur Simpson witnesses a vicious knife fight and waits for news of Fischer.
6/6. Arthur Simpson is still on the roof. He has just reluctantly robbed the Treasury.

Here’s the trailer for the film version:

I’ll try to find a copy of the film itself, and maybe see if its anything like the audiobook.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #098 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #098 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage about the new audiobook releases. And we also play Philip K. Dick’s “Preserving Machine” game in which you pick a piece of music and transform it into an animal.

Talked about on today’s show:
New releases, The Adjustment Bureau by Philip K. Dick, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, Roger Ebert, “Meet Cute”, Phil Gigante, The Stainless Steel Rat, Gregg Margarite, Russian Ark, Hermitage, The SFBRP Podcast, Your Movie Sucks, Dune, “This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time.”, Korean movies mix humor, horror, drama, “the tone is off” in Shakespeare too, Unknown (a special edition of Out Of My Head), Berlin, Bronson Pinchot, Richard Matheson, On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot has “a whole crew full of pirates in his mouth”, Audible.com, Beverly Hills Cop, Gideon’s Sword by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Arthur C. Clarke’s Richter 10 by Mike McQuay, a Gene Wolfe writing exercise, The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin |READ OUR REVIEW|, “trickster, prodigy, master thief”, techno-thriller-ish, Planet Of The Damned by Harry Harrison, West Of Eden, Bill The Galactic Hero, Long After Midnight by Ray Bradbury, Tantor Media, Michael Prichard, Drink Entire: Against the Madness of Crowds, The Odyssey of Homer, “he’s in a boat, Poseidon hates him, then he’s home”, the origins of Necromancy are in The Odyssey, Philip K. Dick was directly inspired by The Odyssey, An Improvised Life: A Memoir by Alan Arkin, James Randi, The Black Widowers, The Trapdoor Spiders, Isaac Asimov, the Amazing Larry, Luke jumps on giant balloons |VIDEO|, Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Physics Of The Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny And Our Daily Lives By The Year 2100 by Michio Kaku, Art Bell and Coast To Coast AM, Jesse thinks string theory is bullshit, 2012, Higgs boson, Tachyons, what’s wrong with futurism, Popular Mechanics/Popular Science and the flying car, filtering metastases, The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell, Cynical-C, Kenneth Branagh as Wallander, the relationship between Science Fiction and detective fiction is that both allow the reader to participate in them, who-dun-it? vs. what happened?, Sherlock Holmes vs. Columbo, Agatha Christie vs. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself, The Writing Excuses Podcast, The Orbit Books Podcast #1, Jack Womack, Tamahome, sycophantic interviews are bad, Robert J. Sawyer, “the best stuff happens after the interview”, Richard K. Morgan’s article on Tolkien, The Space Dog Podcast, Ballentine Books, The Fountains Of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, Lester del Rey, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, Simon Prebble, Gulliver’s Travels, dystopia, A Truly Golden Little Book, No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining, of the Best State of a Republic, and of the New Island Utopia, Steen Hansen, “immersed in Americanism”, The United States vs. Canada, American utopianism vs. Canadian muddling through, British North America Act, the long gun registry, Winston Churchill, did Winston Churchill write SF?, Newt Gingrich as an alternate history novel, Plato’s The Republic, Mein Kampf, Dianetics, Meatball Fulton (aka Tom Lopez), Ruby, Lady Windermere’s Brass Fantabulous, Part 2, “purposefully ridiculous”, new Audible.com releases, Audible Frontiers, When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger, Jonathan Davis, The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds, “grimy and grungy and punky”, Pushing Ice, mining the Oort cloud, Century Rain, Journey To The Center To The Earth, Gulliver’s Travels, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Kenneth Brannagh, Jorge Luis Borges, Stromboli, The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2) by Patrick Rothfuss, Random House Audio, The Vampire Archives: The Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published edited by Otto Penzler, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, undeadliest, Dreamsongs by George R.R. Martin, Heart Of Darkness, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, Heavy Time by C.J. Cherryh, Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny, Sri Lanka, Death Cloud by Andrew Lane, Venus by Ben Bova, The Children Of Dune by Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, “talented readers” is a compliment?, “horribly unreadable” “throwthemacrosstheroomable”, family curse, Christopher Tolkien and Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, Saga Of Seven Suns, Hellhole, sickmyduck, The Preserving Machine by Philip K. Dick |ETEXT|, Doc Labyrinth, Mozart bird, Beethoven beetle, Wagner animal, this is Dick talking about music, “Hey Jesse you must be the coolest teacher out there”, what would The Beatles be, put Lady Gaga in out comes Lady Gaga?, Vampire Weekend into meercats, what gender is this website?, Band Of Horses would yield themselves, “Weird Al” Yankovic?, “I wonder what will happen next?”, A Scanner Darkly, Radiohead would be an owl, if the term “sellout” applies to anyone in the universe it applies to Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, planetary romance vs. space opera, Greenland vs. Iceland, Berlin means bogtown, are Malad residents are Malodorous?

Posted by Jesse Willis