Naxos Audiobooks: 2 FREE Horror tales, The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce and The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde

SFFaudio Online Audio

Naxos AudiobooksNaxos Audiobooks, is offering a couple of free audiobook downloads this month!

Here’s part of the description of the first one:

Bierce’s ghost stories are not among the best-written but they are unusual and distinctly ‘modern’ in their definition of what constitutes a ‘ghost’. They enjoy a popularity today that eluded them during Bierce’s lifetime, perhaps because the late twentieth century reader is more prepared to accept his psychological approach to the genre. The stories resist neat classification, no conclusions are offered. Whatever the true nature of the entity in The Damned Thing, Bierce offers no tidy answer. One of the protagonists offers his theory but it is no more than that and you are left with the feeling that perhaps the entity wanders the earth to this day and that Bierce merely recorded one episode of its existence.

NAXOS AUDIO - The Damned Thing by Ambrose BierceThe Damned Thing
By Ambrose Bierce; Read by Jonathan Keeble
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9789626344941
First published in 1894.

The Damned Thing has been adapted as an episode of Masters Of Horror as well as for the comics in Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce, 2nd Edition:

The Damned Thing - illustration by Reno Maniquis

The second audiobook is longer, but not huffduffable. It’s wrapped in a zipped folder with 12 MP3s (and also includes a wonderful 8 page PDF with story notes by Chloé Harmsworth).

NAXOS AUDIO - The Canterville Ghost by Oscar WildeThe Canterville Ghost
By Oscar Wilde; Rupert Degas
1 Zipped MP3 – Approx. 77 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9789626349748
“A terrifying ghost is haunting the ancient mansion of Canterville Chase, complete with creaking floorboards, clanking chains and gruesome disguises – but the new occupants seem strangely undisturbed by his presence. Deftly contrasting the conventional gothic ghost story with the pragmatism of the modern world, Wilde creates a gently comic fable of the conflict between old and new. Rupert Degas’s hilarious reading brings the absurdity and theatricality of the story to life.”

The Canterville Ghost - illustration by Wallace Goldsmith

The Canterville Ghost has been adapted to film more than a dozen times! Here’s the trailer for the first such, from 1944:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Naxos Audiobooks: Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft

SFFaudio Online Audio

Free, for a limited time, from the new Naxos Audiobook entitled The Call of Cthulhu and Other Stories comes this unabridged reading of Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft! It’s read by the talented William Roberts. Cha-ching!

NAXOS AUDIOBOOKS - The Call Of Cthulhu And Other Stories by H.P. LovecraftDagon
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by William Roberts
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: October 2010
The testament of a tortured, morphine-addicted man who plans to commit suicide over an incident that occurred early on in World War I when he was a merchant marine officer. First published in 1919.

And check out the also excellent Audio Realms version HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Ian Fleming’s favourite novels (as a kid)

SFFaudio Online Audio

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James BondI’ve just started listening to Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, a biography by Andrew Lycett, (available from Blackstone Audio). Here’s an interesting bit from early on:

“On Sunday evenings all the boys would gather in the hall of Durnford‘s [preparatory school] main building, a shabby 18th century manor house. Then, while her feet were tickled by some unfortunate child, Nell [the headmaster’s wife] would read them an adventure story. The general favourites were The Prisoner Of Zenda, Moonfleet and, towards the end of Ian’s time, Bulldog Drummond. Lawrence Irving, a pupil shortly before the Flemings, found that he ‘Never read those books again without hearing Nell’s tone and inflection.’ The same went for Ian, though he preferred the populist works of Sax Rohmer who opened up a more fantastic world with his yellow devil villain Doctor Fu Manchu.”

See that? There’s a nice direct connection between Dr. Fu Manchu and Doctor No. And, as I’m discovering by listening to Andy Minter’s reading of The Prisoner Of Zenda, you get a nice resonance between James Bond, playboy adventurer, and Rudolf Rassendyll, English gentleman.

In fact, as I’m writing this I’m very much enjoying The Prisoner Of Zenda, and am considering delving more deeply into the sub-genre it helped create: Ruritanian romance (a story set in a fictional country)

LIBRIVOX - The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony HopeThe Prisoner Of Zenda
By Anthony Hope; Read by Andy Minter
1 |M4B|, 22 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 16, 2006
The Prisoner of Zenda tells the story of Rudolf Rassendyll, an English gentleman on holiday in Ruritania, a country not a thousand miles from Bavaria. There, by reason of his resemblance to the King of Ruritania he becomes involved in saving the King’s Life and his Throne from the King’s dastardly brother and his allies. Woods, moated castles, pomp, swordplay, gallantry, villainy and a beautiful princess. What story could ask for more?

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LIBRIVOX - Moonfleet by J. Meade FalknerMoonfleet
By J. Meade Falkner; Read by various readers
24 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 17, 2008
The novel is set in a fishing village in Dorset during the mid 18th century. The story concerns a 15 year old orphan boy, John Trenchard, who becomes friends with an older man who turns out to be the leader of a gang of smugglers. One night John chances on the smugglers’ store in the crypt beneath the church. He explores but hides behind a coffin when he hears voices. He finds a locket which contains a parchment, in the coffin belonging to Colonel Mohune. Unfortunately after the visitors leave, he finds himself trapped inside, and is only rescued two days later when two of the smugglers, Ratsey, the sexton and Elzevir Block, the innkeeper of the Why Not?, the local pub, investigate his disappearance. His aunt insists he leaves her house and Elzevir Block takes him in to live at the pub.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Bulldog Drummond by Herman Cyril McNeile (1920), isn’t yet available as an audioboook on LibriVox, but it is available (unabridged) from Naxos Audiobooks |HERE|.

The Insidious Doctor Fu Manchu (aka The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu) by Sax Rohmer (1913), is forthcoming on LibriVox, but is already commercially available through Tantor Media |HERE|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe

SFFaudio Commentary

Speaking of Sir Walter Scott and Ivanhoe… I’ve been much into Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe over the last six months. I’ve watched three different video adaptations. One was a theatrical version from the 1950s, one was a TV movie from the early 80s and one a TV miniseries from just a few years ago. I am currently re-reading the black and white comic book adaptation by Pocket Classics and I’ve also snagged the audiobook from LibriVox.

LIBRIVOX - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by various
44 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 19 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: June 09, 2009
The fortunes of the son of a noble Saxon family in Norman England as he woos his lady, disobeys his father, and is loved by another. Set in late 12C England and in Palestine with Richard Cœur-de-Lion at the Crusades.

Podcast feed:

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Annise and Snemand]

Besides being a rollicking adventure, a heartfelt romance, a rough history lesson and a plea for peace between Christians and Jews, Ivanhoe is also a series of fun etymological English lessons. Consider, the first few sentences of the novel’s dialogue. Ivanhoe begins with a conversation between two Saxon slaves:

“The swine turned Normans to my comfort!” quoth Gurth; “expound that to me, Wamba, for my brain is too dull, and my mind too vexed, to read riddles.”

“Why, how call you those grunting brutes running about on their four legs?” demanded Wamba.

“Swine, fool, swine,” said the herd, “every fool knows that.”

“And swine is good Saxon,” said the Jester; “but how call you the sow when she is flayed, and drawn, and quartered, and hung up by the heels, like a traitor?”

“Pork,” answered the swine-herd.

“I am very glad every fool knows that too,” said Wamba, “and pork, I think, is good Norman-French; and so when the brute lives, and is in the charge of a Saxon slave, she goes by her Saxon name; but becomes a Norman, and is called pork, when she is carried to the Castle-hall to feast among the nobles; what dost thou think of this, friend Gurth, ha?”

Above Gurth (the fool) explains to Wamba (the swineherd) the logic behind calling meat that’s still on the hoof and meat that’s on the table by two different English words. “Swine” is the Saxon word for pig and “porc” [pork] is the Norman [French] word for pig. Soon after this scene these two Saxon slaves are confronted by troupe of Norman knights who proceed to turn one of Wamba’s Saxon swine into proper Norman pork.

The novel features plenty of back and forth. Indeed the more I think about it, the more I think classic Doctor Who took it’s pacing from Ivanhoe what with folks: being kidnapped, ransomed, dressing in disguise, falling in love with their enemies, forgiving each other, and fighting in chivalric combat. There are plenty of villains too. With an unforgiving father, a witch-smelling warrior-priest [those pesky Knights Templar], an ignoble Norman nobleman (who redeems himself in the end), a kvetching Jew and his fetching Jewess daughter. Yeah, I love this story!

Here’s a cross section of the different audiobook versions of this influential 19th century novel:

Dove Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by David Warner
4 Cassettes – Approx. 6 Hours [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dove Audio (NewStar Media)
Published: 1997
ISBN: 9780787110635

Naxos Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Jonathan Oliver
2 CDs – Approx. 2 Hours 39 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 1994
ISBN: 9626340258

Blackstone Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Frederick Davidson
14 Cassettes – Approx. 20.4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 9780786195718

Ivanhoe [Parts 1 and 2]
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Jim Killavey
14 Cassettes – Approx. 21 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Books On Tape / Jimcin Editions
Published: 1986
ISBN: 9780786195718

Brilliance Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Michael Page
CDs or MP3-CD – Approx. Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2005
ISBN: 9781597370097 (cd), 1597370118 (mp3-cd)

HarperCollons Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by
Brian Cox
2 Cassettes – Approx. 3 Hours 7 Minutes [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: HarperCollins Audio
Published: 1992, 1996
ISBN: 0001049283

Ivanhoe And The Lists Of Ashby
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Doughlas Fairbanks Jr.
2 33 1/3 RPM LP Records – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Caedmon
Published: 1977

Highbridge Audio - Ivanhoe by Sir Walter ScottIvanhoe
By Sir Walter Scott; Read by Ronald Pickup
2 Cassettes – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: HighBridge Audio
Published: 1997
ISBN: 1565112113

And here’s a peek at the Pocket Classics edition (ISBN: 0883017393):

POCKET CLASSICS - Ivanhoe Pages 6 and 7

I wonder why there isn’t an audio drama version.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Naxos Audiobooks: 3 FREE Sherlock Holmes short stories

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Naxos AudiobooksNaxos Audiobooks, in partnership with AudioFile Magazine, is offering three unabridged Sherlock Holmes short stories FREE for download until December 29th, 2009! The first of these had already been made available, but the other two are definitely new to my collection (and SFFaudio). Narrator David Timson has a really terrific voice for Sherlock Holmes narration. Have a listen to Timson talk about Doyle and Holmes |MP3|. He’ll make you want to get the rest of the Sherlock Holmes short stories and the four Sherlock Holmes novels he narrated for Naxos.

Naxos Audiobooks - Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventure of Silver Blaze
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by David Timson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 60 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2009
One of the most famous images of Sherlock Holmes, Sidney Paget’s drawing of Holmes, complete with Deerstalker and Inverness cape, leaning eagerly forward to a an attentive Watson in a railway carriage as they hurtle towards their next adventure comes from ‘The Silver Blaze.’

Naxos Audiobooks - The Adventure Of The Stock-Broker's Clerk by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventure of the Stock-Broker’s Clerk
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by David Timson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 41 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2009
In Stock-Broker’s Clerk, the intrepid pair travel by train to Birmingham, and it is nostalgic to think that despite it being 1889, when Holmes and Watson alighted at New Street station they would have been greeted by cobbled streets, eighteenth-century houses and a town still largely undeveloped.

Naxos Audiobooks - The Adventure Of The Bruce-Partington Plans by Sir Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by David Timson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 71 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2009
Trains feature consistently throughout the canon, incidentally and as a main component of the story as in ‘The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans’. It is popular amongst railway enthusiasts, as a significant part of the investigation takes place among the subterranean tunnels of the London Underground system.

[via AudioFile]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Naxos Audiobooks: The Fall Of The House Of Usher, The Pit And The Pendulum & Other Tales Of Mystery And Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe

SFFaudio Online Audio

In lecture #4 of The Teaching Company’s Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature’s Most Fantastic Works professor Eric S. Rabkin argues:

“The writing of Edgar Allan Poe has too often been dismissed for reasons that do not hold up under scrutiny. … The idea that he was an alcoholic is supported by the fact that he was found lying unconscious in an alley by a bar in his relatively young adulthood, in his 40s, and ultimately, a few days later died. In fact modern evidence that Richard Thompson at Purdue University has uncovered suggest that it is quite possible that Poe was allergic to alcohol, rather than an alcoholic. We have no evidence that he actually drank a lot. But even if he were an alcoholic claiming that his writing is nothing but the outpourings, as it were, of an alcoholic, is clearly foolish because if drinking alcohol made one a great and lasting writer the world would be full of them.

The idea that he was a pervert is based on the fact that he married his first cousin, who was only thirteen at the time, and that he never married again after her early death. It’s important to know that this first cousin, Virginia Clem, was of legal age when he married her, that marrying first cousins was not only legal but somewhat common at the time. His marriage was public, it was blessed by her mother. It was legal. It was devoted and it ended only with her death in 1847. They married in 1836, but in 1842, that is six years into the marriage, but five before her death, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. And so for half of his marriage he lived in fear, in the knowledge, that his bride would come to an early demise. This does not sound to me like a pervert, it sounds to me like a deeply saddened man.”

On a happier note, Naxos Audiobooks, in cooperation with Audiofile magazine, are giving away an audiobook full of melancholy Poey goodness. It’s only available until midnight on October 31, 2009 (when the link will presumably turn into a 404 pumpkin) so get downloading!!

Naxos Audiobooks - The Fall Of The House Of Usher, The Pit And The Pendulum & Other Tales Of Mystery And Imagination by Edgar Allan PoeThe Fall Of The House Of Usher, The Pit And The Pendulum & Other Tales Of Mystery And Imagination
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by William Roberts
45 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 4 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks
Published: 2003
ISBN: 9789626342831
The horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, with its dungeon of death, and the overhanging gloom on the House of Usher demonstrate unforgettably the unique imagination of Edgar Allan Poe. Unerringly, he touches upon some of our greatest nightmares – premature burial, ghostly transformation and words from beyond the grave. Written in the 1840s, they have retained their power to shock and frighten even now.

Stories included:
The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, Ligeia, The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Black Cat, The Premature Burial, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

Posted by Jesse Willis