First published in Harper’s Weekly November 10, 1894 this novella combines the two poles of Doyle’s personality – the skeptic and the dupe. Playing out like a combination of Guy de Maupassant’s The Horla and The Manchurian Candidate. The protagonist, Austin Gilroy, a professor of physiology, meets a woman at a party who can perform frightening feats of mesmerism.
Variously described as being a tale of a “psychic vampire” other editors and anthologists have classified it as “weird fiction” or “horror”
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Read by Delmar H Dolbier 4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 54 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Mockingbird (Miriam Black #2)
By Chuck Wendig; Read by Emily Beresford
Publisher: Angry Robot on Brilliance Audio
Length: 9 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / fantasy / urban fantasy / psychic / powers / death /
This whole “settling down thing” that Louis has going for her just isn’t working out. Still, she’s keeping her psychic ability – to see when and how someone is going to die just by touching them – in check. But even that feels wrong, somehow. Like she’s keeping a tornado stoppered up in a tiny bottle.
Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds was my favorite read of 2012, introducing the character Miriam Black and promising of further adventures. The book trailer featuring narration by Dan O’Shea really intrigued my interest as to the powerful oratory nature of the book’s narrative and convinced me that I should continue the series via the audiobook route. The audiobooks are narrated by Emily Beresford and at first the very pleasant tone defied expectations, but given the book’s initial divergent nature from the first volume I ended up finding the narration to serve quite well. I am sure if I had started this series on audiobook, I would have enjoyed the first installment equally.
Just one touch and Miriam Black can see the specific details of one’s death including the date and all the potentially gory details. Blackbirds introduces Miriam as a transient wandering from one death scene to another and exploiting her abilities for financial gain. After all, any attempts to intervene with the fate yield disastrous outcomes so why not profit from her ability? Without spoiling the details, the end of that book leads Miriam desperately trying to circumvent another future that has been written in stone, or at least written in her journal she keeps of all her deadly visions.
The outcome of this first novel leads Miriam to settle down and try to make it without the use of her powers at the onset of Mockingbird. Needless to say, events quickly transpire and she is called to use her powers and once again finds herself going head to head with fate and even an apparent serial killer joins the mix as well. The novel builds and expands on concepts and characters introduced in the first novel and I highly recommend to anyone who enjoyed the first installment. I did miss having an author’s afterword as in the first novel which serves as a bridge between the two novels. I hope that the afterword’s promise of many more potential Miriam Black novels is fulfilled.
The SFFaudio Podcast #186 – An unabridged reading of The Lady, Or The Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton (17 minutes), read by David Federman – followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Julie Hoverson (of 19 Nocturne Boulevard).
Talked about on today’s show:
Monty Hall, Let’s Make A Deal, a can of sardines, a donkey and a block of hay, the Dungeons & Dragons meaning of “Monty Hall”, use in schools, weighting the scales, what is the character of women?, equally loving and equally jealous, love vs. jealousy, how barbaric are women?, where are the female criminals, a fully barbaric king, trial by ordeal, a box with a viper, a box with a knife, the swift choice, a curious justice system, jaywalking into the people’s court, like father like daughter, women were so emotional, unmodernizable sexism, guilt, there are tigers behind both doors, The Price Is Right, imaginary morality in an imaginary land, fairness conflated with arbitrariness, “when he and himself agreed upon anything”, Julie’s problem with philosophy, game theory, a thought experiment, Ray Bradbury style stories convey Bradburian feelings vs. Rorschachian style stories which elicit only the reader’s feelings, The Discourager Of Hesitancy (a sequel to The Lady, Or The Tiger?), smile vs. frown, Batman, Two-Face’s decisions are not actually coin tosses, The Man in The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I Ching, “the tiger does not eat the straw because the duck has flown away”, phone psychics should agree with their customers, “the cards are telling me…”, psychics as impartial observers, a Ponzi scheme, selection bias, is it a double bluff?, does the father know that the daughter knows?, what is the punishment for adultery?, obsolete pop-culture, zoot suit riots (not just a joke, seriously), “six of one, half a dozen of the other”, “as snug as a bug in a rug”, we have to invent rug technology, nitpicking, Bugs Bunny dialogue, Max Headroom (is still ahead of it’s time), “blipvert”, They Live, shantytowns in the Regan era, Shock Treatment, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Foundation and Empire By Isaac Asimov; Read by Scott Brick 8 CD’s, 10 hours [UNABRIDGED] Publisher: Books on Tape Published: 2005 (Re-issued with new narrator) ISBN: None on package Themes: / Science Fiction / Psychohistory / Galactic Empire / Mental Powers /
This classic novel contains two parts. The first is The General and is much like Foundation in tone and subject matter. Galactic Empire is dying, and the Foundation grows in strength. The story is about Bel Riose, a General in the Empire, and the Empire’s last gasp against the Foundation.
But then Asimov takes it up a notch. “The Mule” is the second part of the book, and is one of Asimov’s finest works. The Foundation is unexpectedly confronted with an enigma who calls himself The Mule. Hari Seldon could not have considered such an anomaly in his equations, and when historical events are altered by The Mule’s mental ability to influence people, the Foundation responds.
And what more can I say about Scott Brick? I really enjoy him, and look forward to his narrations. This book was written more than fifty years ago, and it holds up as much more than a historical curiosity. Brick does a fine job with it.