Talked about on today’s show:
19 Nocturne dot net or dot org, time-traveling, novella, Astounding Stories, June 1936, stricken strucken, the centerpoint for everything that H.P. Lovecraft writes, cats and poetry, cannibalism?, “The Dreamquest Of Unknown Political Economy”, Trantorians, Isaac Asimov, Olaf Stapledon, immense breadth of time, Doctor Who, Albert Finney?, Jack Finney, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Altered Carbon, the Uber economy, the HPLHS adaptation, economist, psychologist, the Foundation series, Jevons, connecting economic cycles with sunspots, cosmic horrors, the Jevons paradox, a dark insight into human nature, Malthus, eugenics, fascistic socialism, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, traumatized by the wrong things, a utopia story, intellectual pursuits, laying some seeds, we wouldn’t notice anyway, 100% nerds, they’re librarians, puritans, an infinite library, Borgesian in its vastness, the spider people, the beetle people, they left their library behind?, Fahrenheit 451, cloud computing, playing around with time, curiously tenacious cellulose fabric, the things under the trap doors, Mencken’s definition of puritanism, World Of Greyhawk, adamantium stone, the Drow, stemming the tide, held at bay, very allegorical, putting down of the dark desires, strange other stories, The Outsider, seeing his form, the horror of seeing your own body, horror, science fiction, evil?, animals, Dreams Of Yith by Duane W. Rimel and H.P. Lovecraft, the rugose cone minds occupy the previous bodies, entitlement, no malice, where the horror is, a horror that nobody can even imagine, talking teapots and singing cats, from a pre-cartoon era, The White People by Arthur Machen, evil is not wickedness, talking rosebushes, airships and submarines, privileges, intellectual adventures, inward bound, what Nathan Peasley’s doing in the age when ferns ruled the earth, meeting with secret cults, generous freaks, how we would treat animals, curiosity rules, putting our minds in a wolfpack, living like a wolf, committing suicide, exercising your rugose body, Red Dwarf’s Mindswap, an exemplary species or individual?, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, Julie’s narration, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, juvenile delinquents, Yithian kids, we’re abused herd animals, The Roller-coaster by Alfred Bester, a Westworld-like kill-torture-sex device, dreams and books and architecture, much nicer, being possessed by a library, do they wipe the minds to protect themselves or to stop messing with the timelines?, WWI, a very different sequel, Gothic tale, haunted house, a haunted basement, where you suppress that what you fear and dread, Earth’s entire history is a Gothic story, The Thing On The Doorstep, consciousness transference, The Tomb, The Nameless City, crawling through tunnels, The Beast In The Cave, At The Mountains Of Madness, resonating with the shoggoths, two levels, more exploration, Professor Dyer, when the Doctor goes to Gallifrey, Gallifreyans are Yithians, meddling, Seeds Of Doom, Genesis Of The Daleks, their Mormon mission, a rite of passage, a fascistic library, we don’t know enough about the slug people, Hammers On Bone by Cassandra Khaw, A Song For Quiet, Weird Detective, investigating a crime, Peasley’s rider went looking for cosmic horror info, access, amnesia, the undercooked conspiracy, the long fingered foreigners, special knowledge, Nyarlathotep, the MiGo, the Cult of Hastur, the Cult of The Yellow Sign, The Repairer Of Reputations, suicide booths, family plots, a hint of a story, family drama buried deep, what must have happened, this is fascinating, my dad has become this alien sociopath, the wife’s story, the son’s story, all Lovecraft so deeply, he was ugly, visage, he’s got a wife, a surrogate child, obsessed with libraries, how the avatar of Peasley’s occupier, A Year Off, the restriction of funds, Quebec or Florida, Antarctica, New York, the love of the home and the desire to explore, how important dream is, what his dreams mean, what Lovecraft’s stuff is all about, obsessed with his dreams, Donald Trump’s twitter account,
From the moment of my strange waking my wife had regarded me with extreme horror and loathing, vowing that I was some utter alien usurping the body of her husband. In 1910 she obtained a legal divorce, nor would she ever consent to see me even after my return to normality in 1913. These feelings were shared by my elder son and my small daughter, neither of whom I have ever seen since.
Only my second son, Wingate, seemed able to conquer the terror and repulsion which my change aroused. He indeed felt that I was a stranger, but though only eight years old held fast to a faith that my proper self would return. When it did return he sought me out, and the courts gave me his custody.
the kid sought him out, there’s a whole novel in there, we have to race past it, Wingate is essentially Lovecraft, Lovecraft’s dad, the mother’s maiden name, we get rid of the women, they don’t understand us, or they understand to much, women are scary, I.N.J. Culbard’s comics adaptation, what that face looks like, drool, I had the most strange expression, a striking face, traumatizing, high on morphine, what the fuck’s going on, if you’re the wife…, the HPLHS adaptation, Al-ice, vestments, pretty amazing, the ending, almost comical, the polypous invisible horror race, an extended descent into the cellar, twist ending, a thousand Twilight Zone imitators, the weakest part of the story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, an Inception level twist, we already knew that,
No eye had seen, no hand had touched that book since the advent of man to this planet. And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that frightful abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless hieroglyphs of earth’s youth. They were, instead, the letters of our familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my own handwriting.
tentacle-writing, a massive letter to his son, a long boat trip, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, abandoning his son, is he going to kill himself?, just fleeing?, everything he imagined actually did happen, the heart of this story, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, reproduction without women, back to the text, self mutilation, giving up everything you’ve been looking for, bad idea, Australia, the biggest spider, am I mistaken in thinking the star headed vegetable carnivores of Antarctica are pretty nice folks?, people is people, racism, discrepancies, how many gay friends, he hates foreigners, anybody he hasn’t met, fear, fear of the unknown, raised so isolated, he is literally The Outsider, a night walk, to clear his mind, seeing people inside having a gay party in a familiar building, he is the horror, a professor of economy who becomes a professor of psychology, a sign of bad character, Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets‘ The Shadow Out Of Tim, a marine biologist, made vs. suggested, no Sotho, Nug-soth, we’re going to get magicians back, filed under revisions, a pocket-sized version of Fungi From Yuggoth, high weird, panoramic and picaresque, Ramsey Campbell’s early mythos stories, visions, Campbellian weirdness, surrealism, a giant rolling head, a progression of imagery, the lidded bulbs close heavily once more, somebody’s guarding, the third stanza, a stream of putrefaction, hovering mist, those dead gates, the silver gates of Yith, is Yith the city or the planet, the machines, the secret that would bring the dwellers back, a mirror of what we’re seeing on Earth, another planet, the glowing dome, Lovecraftian key, The Book, at last the key is mine, unseal the lid, they have to do this repression, what does human mean?, eyeless huge and bloated head, striking imagery, Soth = Smith, caged by the great race, whistling horrors, the 9th stanza, carrion eaters, high in the even sky, the beings of Yith, waiting to be eaten, bat winged beings, snouted winged folk, who is doing the dreaming?, is it Peasley?, distilling the lovely imagery of delving, 150 million years ago, the blocky ruins of Interstate State Park, very Yithian, all the gardens, tables and pens and standing desks, their technology, weird mechanical contraption, convex mirrors, the keyboard hasn’t been invented, a clicking conversation, a horror, David Lindsay’s A Voyage To Arcturus, the sense, they possessed many senses, they can’t smell, of the body, more primal, smell seeds and swamps, taste is too close, not intellectual enough, hey all look like they’re wearing dresses, low and body-like, pleasure senses, chocolate, honey makes babies happy, a utopia dystopia based on reading and writing, being able to taste things, mashed potatoes, a secret favourite, he wanted to try everything, no wonder his wife left him, the ideal consumer for British food, a strange story, almost plotless, Neal Stephenson, a mystery at a distance, Jesse was struck, how he found out all his information, he reconstructs the journeys, he goes to all the places, visiting all the libraries, reliving his life, Sweden, he’s done things, two fans, more Lovecraft coming, The Dreams In The Witch-house, Inssmouth, Dunwich, the differnt adaptations, the 1972 Skull Comics adaptation, cute Yithians, the ship’s doctor, action, different ways to do things, Julie’s going to mess people up, told from the women’s point of view, Red Hook, The Music Of Erich Zann, racism, six pages and an eternity, a lot of streetwalking, one of the two Yithian senses.
The SFFaudio Podcast #202 –The Shadow Kingdom by Robert E. Howard, narrated by Todd McLaren (from Tantor Media’s Kull: Exile Of Atlantis). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 25 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show: Hypnogoria and Hypnobobs, King Kull, Kaa Nama Ka Lajerma, the magic phrase, snake men, shibboleth, the Book Of Judges, the letter after “G” in the alphabet, Z, Jay-Zed, Isaac Asimov’s test unionized, a gloomier and more brooding hero, a more philosophical CONAN, a more fantastical Howard story, wolf-men, a talking cat, animal people, Picts, Atlanteans, the Thurian Age, Mu, Lemuria, Atlantis, the final cataclysm, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Plato, Man from Atlantis, sea-barbarians, Brule the Spear-Slayer, “What, you would have me come alone?”, the Tower of Splendor, kingdom vs. empire, the Empire of The Seven Kingdoms, “squatting and living in the remnants of an older civilization”, secret passages and secret chambers, it’s like a mall, “I am Kull!”, in light of later events, King Kull’s identity crisis, I’m King, stop trying to depose me, Mel Brooks, Jared Diamond’s The World Until Yesterday, barbarians vs. traditional societies, constant talking, “a more purple depth of language”, the Shakespearean soliloquy, manly men, Hulk will smash, Weird Tales, By This Axe I Rule, King Conan vs. regular CONAN, Kull as a practice run for CONAN, Exile Of Atlantis, a sort of Science Fiction idea, Philip K. Dick, Robert Sheckley, The Thing (aka Who Goes There?), Eight O’clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson, They Live, waking to the full reality of the world, “the owners of the Earth”, a human mask over an alien face, “are you a snake man?”, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, alien replicants, The Hanging Stranger by Philip K. Dick, identity, Howard isn’t only a purple prose action man, Kull’s philosophical bent, the speaking of the hooves, ruling an alien land, deep time, geologic time, reptoid conspiracy phenomenon, Congress as aliens, V, David Icke, Howard as a message man, there’s something metaphorical happening, a paranoia of trust, the old regime vs. the new regime, a Yes, Minister situation, new broom vs. old guard, a superhero story, the nameless serpent god, Set, Yig, Worms Of The Earth by Robert E. Howard, Thulsa Doom, Conan The Barbarian (1982), the Kull movie (Kull the Conqueror) with Kevin Sorbo, there’s no Brule, big hair and heavy metal guitar, a good farce, Valka’s face, it’s not god-awful.
Admittedly, not all of the available titles in this sale are unabridged, but they mostly are. There are a dozen SFF titles, plenty of crime, mystery and noir as well as a shelfload of history audiobooks. There are even a couple of audio dramas in there.
Here’s just a smattering of what excited me:
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; read by Ben Kingsley THE AENEID by Virgil; read by Frederick Davidson BABYLON BABIES by Maurice G. Dantec; read by Joe Barrett THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London; read by Ethan Hawke CASINO ROYALE by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance CHRISTOPHER’S GHOSTS by Charles McCarry; read by Stefan Rudnicki A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT by Mark Twain; read by Carl Reiner CRIMINAL PARADISE by Steven M. Thomas; read by Patrick Lawlor THE DEAL by Peter Lefcourt; read by William H. Macy DEATH MATCH by Lincoln Child; read by Barrett Whitener |READ OUR REVIEW| DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA by Miguel de Cervantes; read by Robert Whitfield EVIL, INC. by Glenn Kaplan; read by Glenn Kaplan THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX by Elleston Trevor; read by Grover Gardner FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley; read by Julie Harris FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS by Mary Shelley; read by Simon Templeman, Anthony Heald, and Stefan Rudnicki HOW TO SURVIVE A ROBOT UPRISING by Daniel H. Wilson; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| HUCK FINN AND TOM SAWYER AMONG THE INDIANS by Mark Twain and Lee Nelson; read by Grover Gardner I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson; read by Robertson Dean |READ OUR REVIEW| I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves; read by Frederick Davidson THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS by Jack Finney; read by Kristoffer Tabori IT’S SUPERMAN! by Tom De Haven; read by Scott Brick JAMES BOND BOXED SET by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance KING KONG by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper; novelization by Delos W. Lovelace; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by Richard Condon; read by Christopher Hurt THE MARTIAN CHILD by David Gerrold; read by Scott Brick MARTIAN TIME-SLIP AND THE GOLDEN MAN by Philip K. Dick; read by Grover Gardner MILDRED PIERCE by James M. Cain; read by Christine Williams MYSTIC WARRIOR by Tracy and Laura Hickman; read by Lloyd James PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie; read by Roe Kendall THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde; read by Simon Vance THE PRESTIGE by Christopher Priest; read by Simon Vance QUANTUM OF SOLACE by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance RINGWORLD’S CHILDREN by Larry Niven; read by Barrett Whitener |READ OUR REVIEW| ROCKET SHIP GALILEO by Robert A Heinlein; read by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW| SUPERMAN RETURNS by Marv Wolfman; read by Scott Brick |READ OUR REVIEW| SWEENEY TODD AND THE STRING OF PEARLS by Yuri Rasovsky; read by a full cast TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs; read by Ben Kingsley THE TEN-CENT PLAGUE by David Hajdu; read by Stefan Rudnicki THERMOPYLAE by Paul Cartledge; read by John Lee THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas; read by Michael York THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells; read by Ben Kingsley THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka; read by Geoffrey Howard UTOPIA by Sir Thomas More; read by James Adams V FOR VENDETTA by Steve Moore; read by Simon Vance |READ OUR REVIEW| THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells; read by Christopher Hurt WHERE’S MY JETPACK? by Daniel H. Wilson; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE by Don Winslow; read by Dennis Boutsikaris THE WORLD ACCORDING TO NARNIA by Jonathan Rogers; read by Brian Emerson
“I warn you that what you’re starting to read is full of loose ends and unanswered questions….Now if you don’t like that kind of story, I’m sorry, and you’d better not read it. All I can do is tell what I know.”—from the book
On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved—the world as he knew it.
First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired the acclaimed 1956 film, directed by Don Siegel and starring Kevin McCarthy, one of Time magazine’s 100 Best Films.
The image of Donald Sutherland at the end of the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers—mouth yawning open, eyes rolled back, finger stabbing at the screen—haunted me throughout my childhood. I stumbled onto the now iconic scene while watching television one day and it absolutely traumatized me. I found that alien shriek terrifying, and I still do.
It was with that chilling image gnawing at my mind that I began listening to the audiobook of 1955’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, upon which the Sutherland and as well as earlier (1956) film are based. I found out early on that, while lacking the visceral fear of the 1978 film, the novel evokes a deeper sense of dread, and also packs some literary and historic heft, including a deft examination of the political landscape of 1950’s America.
While I went into Body Snatchers listening for pure story alone, its subtext was undeniable. Body Snatchers was written during the height of McCarthyism, and you don’t have to try to look for parallels—Body Snatchers is as much a reaction to the existential threat of Communist Russia as it is a book about battling alien invaders.
But Body Snatchers is no simple allegory of the Red Scare, either. Finney also provides a nostalgic snapshot of a simpler time, infusing the story with elements that are largely fond relics these days—soda jerks, doctors’ home visits, and shoe-shine men, for example. Finney sets the book in 1976, but perhaps he sensed that, even in the mid-50’s, those elements of small town America were already starting to fade away. You can’t help but feel a sense of sadness and loss amid the growing horror.
For those who are unfamiliar with the plot of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s a tale about an alien race of seed pods who drift through space, seeking out planets whose life they imitate with perfect simulacrums while the host body is absorbed.
The book opens with the narrator, Miles Bennel, living a quiet, uneventful life as a doctor in the small California town of Santa Mira. But soon a creeping, icy fear begins that builds deliciously over the course of the book, rising to near-panic when we learn the magnitude of the invasion. Remember that this is 1950’s style horror, so there’s no overt bloodshed or gore. But who needs splatterpunk when you’re confronted with an alien, parasitic race intent on consuming all life on the planet? Try to imagine the suffocating paranoia and slowly awakening terror of discovering that people all around you that you thought you new—teachers and sales clerks, husbands and wives—are being replaced by emotionless clones. And no one believes you.
Kristoffer Tabori reads the audio version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and does a wonderful job. He also shares in an interview on the final disc that his father, Don Siegel, directed the original 1957 film by the same name.
This is not a book without some flaws, however. One weakness is the spread of the aliens. At the risk of divulging a minor spoiler, the seed pods absorb their hosts’ bodies by growing in close proximity to their victims, typically in the basement of their homes. The process can take hours or days (how long is never revealed), but it begs the question: If Bennel and his friends managed to stumble upon a clone before it came fully to life, how come more Santa Mira residents didn’t do the same? Are we supposed to believe that every home has a convenient hiding hole in its basement capable of concealing three-foot long green vegetable pods? Also, the ending of the book was a bit of a let-down. I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say it felt a bit tacked-on and unsatisfying.
But, overall, Invasion the Body Snatchers is well-written and thought-provoking sci-fi/suspense, and a fine way to pass the time while commuting amidst the rest of the soulless conformists “packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes” on their way to the office.
Just in are the Audie Award Finalists for 2008. In the Science Fiction category:
• The Draco Tavern, by Larry Niven, narrated by Tom Weiner, published by Blackstone Audio Inc.
• Dune, by Frank Herbert, narrated by Scott Brick, Simon Vance and a full cast, published by Macmillan Audio
• The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, by Jack Finney, narrated by Kristoffer Tabori, published by Blackstone Audio Inc.
• Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Ravens of Avalon, by Diana L. Paxson, narrated by Lorna Raver, published by Tantor Media, Inc.
• Selections from Dreamsongs 1: Fan Fiction and Sci-Fi from Martin’s Early Years: Unabridged Selections, by George R.R. Martin, narrated by Claudia Black, Mark Bramhall, Scott Brick, Roy Dotrice, Kim Mai Guest, Kirby Heyborne and Adrian Paul, published by Random House Audio
That’s an excellent list. In other categories, Joe Hill is on there twice, once for 20th Century Ghosts (Short Stories/Collections category) and once for Heart-Shaped Box (Thriller/Suspense category).
That multi-voice production of Dune is also recognized in the Achievement in Production and Multi-Voiced Performance categories.
Neil Gaiman makes a strong showing as well, with a nomination for Neverwhere in the Narration by the Author or Authors category and two in the Children’s Titles – Ages 12+ category; InterWorld and M is for Magic.