A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou has Aye and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany

SFFaudio Online Audio

A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou - a Resonance FM podcastThe second series of A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou is underway, and the podcast radio show (on Resonance FM 104.4 FM in London, U.K.) has out-done itself by recording a terrific and moving reading of Aye and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany. Victoria de Rijke joins Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about the story and Delany in general. This is insightful listening about one of the most well written and unusual stories in all of Science Fiction.

Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. DelanyEpisode 11 – Aye, and Gomorrah
By Samuel R. Delany; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: September 23rd, 2008
Winner of the 1967 Nebula Award for best short story. First in Harlan Ellison’s seminal 1967 anthology, Dangerous Visions.It takes place in a world where astronauts, known as Spacers, are neutered before puberty to avoid the effects of space radiation on gametes. They are fetishized by a subculture of ‘frelks’, those attracted by the Spacers’ unattainability and unarousability (‘free-fall-sexual-displacement complex’). The mischief-loving Spacers exploit this for amusement and money — and possibly out of loneliness and a desire to recapture their lost sexuality. The story tells of a Spacer’s poignant meeting with a female frelk.

The previous show presents a J.G. Ballard short story, a tough one, not quite as easily accessible (which is saying something)…

Track 12 by J.G. BallardEpisode 10 – Track 12
By J.G. Ballard; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED?]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: September 16th, 2008
A Science Fiction short story about electromusic? Yup. A retelling of Poe’s The Cask Of Amontillado? Very likely. Fully comprehensible? Maybe. Published in a 1958 issue of New Worlds.

And, the first show, of the second series, has a classic Robert Sheckley tale, only 5 pages long, but also a massive epic [I just wish there wasn’t any background music or SFX during the reading]…

Zirn Left Unguarded, The Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerley Dead by Robert SheckleyEpisode 09 – Zirn Left Unguarded, The Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerley Dead
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED?]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: September 10th, 2008
“It’s got swords, vast space battles and God’s receptionist.”

The one bad thing about this podcast (other than the lack of title and author name at the beginning of the story) is there are no direct links available (for hotlinking), you’ll have click through or subscribe to the podcast to get the files – which likely means about 75% 60% of the people who listen to podcasts via direct links won’t get to hear it. Slug Of Time guys, it’s time to fix that!

Here’s the podcast feed for the few of you who know how to use it:

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/slugoftime-podcast/feed/

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Into That Darkness Peering: Nightmarish Tales Of The Macabre Vol. 1 by Edgar Allan Poe

SFFaudio Review

Into That Darkness Peering: Nightmarish Tales Of The Macabre Vol. 1Into That Darkness Peering: Nightmarish Tales Of The Macabre – Vol. 1SFFaudio Essential
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Wayne June
1 CD – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: AudioBookCase.com
Published: March 2008
ISBN: 0977845303
Themes: / Horror / Revenge / Cats / Noir / Wine /

Three tales from the original master of horror fiction, Edgar Allan Poe! Included in this collection are “The Raven”, “The Black Cat” and “The Cask Of Amontillado.”

Three classic tales. These stories are so familiar as to be almost genetic. They are the foundation for whole modern genres. Noir, Crime and Horror fiction were sired by Poe. Hear three of his finest in this, their finest form.

“The Raven” follows the curious events in one evening of unnamed brooding narrator. Whilst reading a tome of “forgotten lore” he hears a knocking on his door. What follows is a rhymed narrative rumination on the portentous meaning of the feathered visitor’s single utterance. Nevermore will you need to wait for another version. This one’s definitive.

“The Black Cat” is a first person account of the alcoholic events leading an animal lover to the depths of depravity and beyond into horror. This tale seems to encapsulate the entire fevered imaginings of the American temperance movement. Its supernatural elements are minor compared to its un-romantic view of an unrestricted humanity stripped of the superego. In other words, it’s a killer story.

“The Cask Of Amontillado” is a strong tale of cold, cavernous revenge served with a very dry sherry, one brick at a time. This is one of Poe’s most enigmatic works. What precisely the revenge is for, or if there indeed was any real vengence required (despite the narrator’s claim) has haunted scholars. However you interpret it, it does push all the “great horror story” buttons in you.

Narrator Wayne June assures us that he’s done his research on this new series of definitive Edgar Allan Poe readings, and in listening you’ll absolutely have to agree. Place names and pronunciations are perfect – accents and action are exact. You can often tell when a narrator is bluffing it, surfing through the sentences blindly. That absolutely doesn’t happen here. In Poe’s most famous narrative poem The Raven, for instance, there’s nary a line that doesn’t contain an archaic word that’d flummox. June never falters. He’s got them all sussed. The Black Cat too, has never sounded better. June captures the sympathetic first person narrative and then drives home the barbarity flawlessly. Light accents make “The Cask Of Amontillado”, the most difficult of the three tales here, flow like an old vintage newly discovered. There are already many versions of these three classics available on audio, but I’d venture not a single one could come even close to match any of these three. Wayne June’s voice is perfectly matched to the melancholic material. As was the case with his superlative Lovecraft recordings, nobody else’s voice is more more morbidly macabre than is Wayne June’s. This is essential listening.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Conan The Barbarian Movie Adaptation LP

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Conan The Barbarian - Movie Adaptation LPConan The Barbarian
Based on the Motion Picture directed by John Milius; Performed by a FULL CAST
33 1/3 RPM LP – Approx. 43 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Power Records
Published: 1982 (Out Of Print)
Product #: 1134
Themes: / Fantasy / Revenge / Battle / Mythology / Gods / Snakes /

“I was born on the battlefield! The first sounds I
heard were the screams of dying men!”

It took almost a half of century for Robert E. Howard’s legendary thief, warrior, barbarian and eventual King to debut on the silver screen. In the fifty or so years prior to the 1982 theatrical release of Conan The Barbarian, and against all odds, Conan had clutched fate by its throat and demanded success in practically every media it was translated into. Novels, magazines, newspaper syndication and comics, they were all conquered by this sword-wielding barbarian. These conquest continually garnished him a growing legion of loyal followers. So by Conan’s God Crom, it only made sense for Hollywood to be this fantasy character’s next path to tread under his sandaled feet.

Ridley Scott… Oliver Stone… Many talented directors attempted to bring “Conan The Barbarian” to theaters before writer/director John Milius’ inspired script finally got it right and brought the project to fruition. John’s vision, which some critics called “horribly violent” and “sexist”, captured the true lifeblood and essence of the Hyborian Age and all its brutality and sinister ways. Directed on location in Spain for Universal Pictures, it starred world renowned bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan of Cimmeria and Shakespearean actor James Earl Jones as the dreaded snake cult leader Thulsa Doom.

As always, making a motion picture about any character with a large fanbase creates controversy, and Conan The Barbarian was no different. Many fans questioned most of the inexperienced cast and their acting ability. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world champion bodybuilder. Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, was a professional dancer. Even the director’s surfing partner took on the role of Subotai. Overwhelmingly, other than James Earl Jones, the cast was perceived as great lot of physical specimens rather than accomplished actors. Confusion also lingered among purists regarding Milius’ choice to retell Conan’s origin, which somewhat contrasted with the purist understanding of the barbarian’s earlier years. But other fans defended the retelling, arguing that creator Robert E. Howard never truly fleshed out Conan’s childhood, only briefly touched upon it. Moreover, they were quite pleased that Milius honored the legacy of Conan by sampling script ideas from many of Conan’s original tales like “The Tower of the Elephant” and “The Thing in the Crypt”.

Whichever side fans took, most couldn’t help not to revel in the sure beauty of the film… especially its Fantasy panting-like cinematography, awe inspiring original score and its seriousness in tone (something sorely missing in the later and utterly inferior sequel.) So, like all forms of media before it, the film Conan The Barbarian was a success and is now considered a classic among fans of the sword & sorcery genre. Conan was once again triumphant.

That same year, Power Records released the story of “Conan The Barbarian” which was surprisingly good among movie adaptation albums of its time. Known more for creating stories for adolescents, it was really quite astonishing to see Power Records adapt a “R” rated film, gloriously filled with masses of graphic violence, explicit nudity and even an orgy! The adaptation did exclude the “worst” parts of the film of course, but most mothers I know would balk upon their children listening to lines like “The last image I saw was my parent’s heads on a pair of Vanir pikes!” This adaptation was obviously made for young adults.

A whole new cast of actors were used, and the actors chosen for Conan, Subotai and The Wizard were an excellent choice. Conan is more intelligent than he appeared in the film, in the vein of the original Robert E. Howard writings. Actually, the original film script called for Conan to have more dialogue and narrate his own story rather than Mako’s ‘The Wizard’ doing the chronicling. But due to Schwarzenegger’s thick accent, much of Conan’s lines were trimmed down and/or removed in trade of Arnold’s powerful visual presence, which is where a problem lies. I actually had trouble appreciating this adaptation at first. Being a great fan of the film, I had the original actor’s voices and their dialogue (or Conan’s lack thereof) imprinted in my mind so deeply, it was hard to listen with a fresh perspective. Challenging yourself to give it a second “go around” is where the reward lies!

Conan narrating his tale is not the only difference between the adaptation and the actual film. Though fans of the film will be pleased to know that practically all of the story differences you hear were actually in the original John Milius script, before they were edited for various creative and/or monetary reasons. Some differences are subtle, like Thulsa Doom’s high priests are named Yaro and Rexor (rather than the familiar Rexor and Thorgrim). Others are larger events, like when Conan and Subotai enter the cities of Zamora looking to plunder the riches of the snake tower. While traveling through the filthy city of Shadizar, the script & adaptation details an extra scene of Conan and Subotai witnessing a snake cult procession moving through the streets. This is where Conan first hears the cursed chant of his nemesis Thulsa Doom since his parent slaying so long ago. He also gets his first glance of the haunting Princess he would later steal for King Osric, as she calls out to Conan from her platform, commanding him to “throw down his sword” in the name of Set. It’s a great scene.

My only gripe with the record adaptation is I wish it featured the film’s original score. While the orchestration Power Records uses is vast and surprisingly well done, it’s hard to stand against the classic work of composer Basil Poledouris. Though, with their excellent cast and matching production values, this can be easily overlooked. Especially when listening to the “new” dialog and scenes ultimately left on the cutting room floor. As a fan of all things Conan and especially the films, it creates quite a thrill and leaves you slightly imagining… what might have been.

Review of Twisted Rhymes

Review

Twisted Rhymes by Bob HarperTwisted Rhymes
Performed by Bob Harper
1 CD – 52 minutes
Published by: Bob Harper Productions
Themes: / Horror / Royalty / Ghosts / Zombies / Medieval / Tavern / Revenge /

I played this CD not knowing at all what to expect. I heard some music and some background voices that quickly established the setting of a royal feast. Then the voice of Bob Harper started to perform a poem and I was pulled right in. The poem starts well enough “…it was a marvelous affair…” but I realized that the affair was not so marvelous. The king, not sane, describes his burdens to the lords in attendence… and things get horrifying from there. I immediately played the 5 minute track again. And again. Like a good song, I wanted to keep listening, but I continued on and listened to the rest of the CD in one mesmerized sitting.

Harper’s resonant tone in combination with the sound effects and music – it just works beautifully. These poems are great scary fun, suitable for family listening; though some scenes are definitely intense, I would not call the horror “graphic”. They are more in the Poe tradition – in fact, a few of the tracks are influenced directly enough by Poe to be called homage.

The entire CD was a very pleasant surprise. These ten short horror stories left me a nice creepy feeling this season the likes of which I haven’t experienced for a long time. Highly recommended!

You can buy this at Horrorsound, the website for Bob Harper Productions.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson