The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (narrated by Xe Sands)

SFFaudio Online Audio

Professional narrator Xe Sands (Xe is pronounced “exy”) recorded a terrific sounding audiobook of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper back in June.

Sez Xe:

Originally, I wanted to record “The Lottery,” by Shirley Jackson. Sadly, it is not in the public domain. But then, for some reason, this wonderful, dark, gothic story of a woman’s descent into madness came to mind. Not sure whether to thrilled to have the perfect piece, or somewhat disturbed that a tale of neuroses run wild popped into my mind so easily, but I digress…

I think I’ve grown a bit angry.

Let me start with this – how the story is generally encapsulated:

“…a woman whose mental illness makes her a prisoner in her own home.”

“…a young wife and mother succumbing to madness ”

So why is this a problem? It’s true, right? She is unbalanced. She does descend into madness. But it’s all a question of why, WHY does she “succumb” to madness?

And this is where I grow a bit angry. Most of the dismissive language used in these summaries miss the point: that this story is a treatise on the attitudes toward women’s mental health during this period (written in 1899). The narrator, who we are supposed to believe is unreliable, is actually perfectly coherent and early on in the story, likely a far better judge about what would actually help her. It is the ignorance and arrogance of her husband that is the unreliable narrator, for his filter regarding her condition and what would help it, cannot be trusted to give the reader an accurate picture of what ails his wife.

Take a look at this bit from the author, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper.” And tell me if attitudes are really all that different today? All I can say is that it is wonderful that she was able to save herself…and I think she put a hint of that in this story:
“He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me.”

Luckily for Gilman, she was able to do what her narrator could not.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #159 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #159 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Charles Tan talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charles sent to World Fantasy, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is a reworking, Is WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer YA?, three from Angry Robot, Giant Thief by David Tallerman, Empire State by Adam Christopher is superhero noir, free comic book day, The Shadow comic by Garth Ennis, listening speeds, Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm, Bolinda Audio from Australia, Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, YA is big, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, “scare the crap out of little kids”, The Novice by Trudi Canavan, cozy fantasy, Dark Is The Moon by Ian Irvine, Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, being developed for Netflix, polarizing, Angels Of Vengence by John Birmingham, futuristic Clancy?, White Horse by Alex Adams, Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, ebook first, “I’m getting refreshed”, Jenny would like Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, not Genevieve Valentine, Welcome To Bordertown edited by Ellen Kushner (Sfsignal interview) and Holly Black is all-new, “these stories are too wet”, A Handful Of Stars by Dana Stabenow is an older book, “Alaskans in space”, The Outcast Blade by John Courtenay has vampires, “well that’s disappointing”, how about steampunk?, the splitting of Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Legends by Robert Silverberg, Scott thinks Far Horizons should be an audiobook, Agatha H. And The Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius comics online, Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow, Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti, “clockpunk”, Nightfall by Stephen Leather, soul legalities, “God is the ultimate scammer”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous, paper books, Comedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, usefulness of blurbs, The Company Of The Dead by David J. Kowalski, end of Scott’s stack, I didn’t know 8 Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block was a book, lots from Audible Frontiers, Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series with multiple narrators, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, think of the movie inverted, “take your damn dirty hands off me”, Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out Of Meat, Charles is reading the Shirley Jackson award nominees (horror and dark fantasy) to prepare for interviews, Peter Staub’s Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, “it scared the pants off me”, where’s the John Joseph Adams anthology audiobooks?, Kim Stanley Robinson audio short story at Lightspeed Magazine, 2312 stays in the solar system, Mars trilogy if you like science, tons of new Robert Silverberg on Audible, The World Inside will be an HBO series, Scott liked Book Of Skulls, a bunch of Connie Willis, what’s on the horizon?, Existence by David Brin, Red Mars was a marathon, A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, what kind of fantasy does he write?, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, bye Charles

The Shadow cover

 

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #104

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #104 – Scott, Jesse, and Gregg Margarite talk about two Robert Sheckley short stories, Untouched By Human Hands (aka One Man’s Poison) and Seventh Victim.

Talked about on today’s show:
extravaganza vs. jamboree vs. hootenanny, the absent article, The Tenth Victim, Is That What People Do? The Selected Stories Of Robert Sheckley, “one man’s poison is another man’s meat”, writing with your mind, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Gregg has been on many bloody campaigns with his typewriter, Scott loves the pen and notebook, Jesse uses a camera, whiteboard technologies, our podcast about FOOD, Douglas Adams, “Sheckley is not as vaudevillian as Adams”, Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, The Pirate Planet, a building shaped like a doughnut, “food-worthy”, c-rations vs. sea rations, “fill all your stomachs and fill them right”, Hellman and Casker, how do you determine food from non-food, chemists have horribly burnt tongues, Geology exams require the use of tongues, giggling food, drinking vs. being drunk, short stories should throw off sparks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Untouched By Human Hands was sixty years ahead of its time, Laurel And Hardy vs. Gilligan’s Island, the SyFy channel is sixty years behind the times, Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Robert A. Heinlein, copyright, Mickey Mouse vs. Mighty Mouse, keeping murder alive, Sheckley’s late career, Stanton Frelaine = Stand In the Free Lane?, The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Lifeboat Mutiny by Robert Sheckley, The Leech, Warrior Race, Watchbird, La Decima Vittima, Marcello Mastroianni, New York, World War IV, World War VI, feminism, Mindswap, the economy in Seventh Victim, wordlbuilding in a short story, Spotters, Morger, the Tens Club, a game where people kill people, “there is no such thing as human rights”, are these rights not self-evident?, thou shalt not kill/murder, “the age of the half-believer”, Catholicism vs. protestantism, cherry-picking the beliefs from the old and new testament, the three legs of the scientific method (rational, empirical, scholastic), fads, should we require a degree in science to wear a lab-coat?, cargo cults, philosophy, the Emotional Catharsis Bureau, “damn women”, “gladiatorial events complete with blood and thunder”, does a desire to murder start wars?, Gregg thinks we are vehicles for genes, Professor Eric. S. Rabkin, Genesis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is aggressiveness (or competition) a requirement to move on, the Space Race, the architects of tech during WWII, Michael Faraday isn’t getting any royalties, copyright vs. copyfight, seek technology got a patent!, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, guaranteed minimum income, William Shakespeare, West Side Story, “there are only seven stories [basic plots]”, “we stray”, Frelaine’s reaction to the suicidal Victim, the purpose of catharsis, the deep unsatisfaction of an unfinished play, an unrequited kill, how many [TV] series are canceled before their plots unfold? (too many), Dexter vs. Babylon 5 vs. Lost, Game Of Thrones, Drive, The Wire is deeply unsatisfying every episode, ambivalent storytelling, “you can’t fix this neighborhood, move.”, The Corner, Firefly and Serenity, “he had a plan”, how to watch Babylon 5, what is the message of Seventh Victim, X-Minus One, Battlefield 2, do violent video games (and computer games) reduce violence?, Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, Killer: The Game Of Assassination, Gregg wants it with collateral damage.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Anthony Boucher’s All Stars: 52 best SF books (+6 More) and 12 Fantasy books

SFFaudio Commentary

The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction - October1958

The “All Star Anniversary Issue” of Fantasy And Science Fiction Magazine (for October 1958) featured famed editor Anthony Boucher’s regular “Recommending Reading” column – but with a twist. In celebration of the magazine’s 9th anniversary Boucher challenged himself to create a list of “Fifty Review Copies I Would Not Part With.” He failed in this herculean task – he just couldn’t pair down the list to fifty (even by restricting what would qualify in a number of ways). Instead, he ended up listing 52 Science Fiction novels or collections that he had no hand in publishing, another six that he did, and twelve Fantasy titles that were absolute must keepers as well. Of them Boucher wrote:

“These are novels and collections which have, from 1949 through 1957, given intense pleasure to a man professionally, obligated to read every s.f. book published in America; and I venture the guess that any reader, novice or habitué of our field, will find stimulation and delight in a high number of these titles.”

That’s good enough for me! I have reproduced as Boucher listed them (in alphabetical order by author). But I’ve added links to extant audiobook editions:

Boucher’s 52 best SF books:
Brain Wave by Poul Anderson |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov [COLLECTION] |READ OUR REVIEW|
The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov |READ OUR REVIEW|
The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov |READ OUR REVIEW|
Earth Is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov [COLLECTION]

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury [COLLECTION] |READ OUR REVIEW|

What Mad Universe by Fredric Brown
The Lights In The Sky Are Stars by Fredric Brown
Angels And Spaceships by Fredric Brown [COLLECTION]

Cloak Of Aesir by John W. Campbell [COLLECTION]

No Blade Of Grass / The Death Of Grass by John Christopher |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|

Prelude To Space by Arthur C. Clarke
Expedition To Earth by Arthur C. Clarke [COLLECTION]
Against The Fall Of Night (and The City And The Stars) by Arthur C. Clarke

Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement

The Wheels Of If by L. Sprague de Camp [COLLECTION]
Rogue Queen by L. Sprague de Camp

Nerves by Lester Del Rey

Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

The Third Level by Jack Finney [COLLECTION]

The Man Who Sold The Moon by Robert A. Heinlein [COLLECTION]
The Green Hills Of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein [COLLECTION] |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|BOOKS ON TAPE|CAEDMON|

Bullard Of The Space Patrol by Malcolm Jameson

Takeoff by C.M. Kornbluth
The Explorers by C.M. Kornbluth [COLLECTION]
Not This August by C.M. Kornbluth

Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber
The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber |WONDER AUDIO|

The Big Ball Of Wax by Shepherd Mead

Shadow On The Hearth by Judith Merrril

Shadows In The Sun by Chad Oliver
Another Kind by Chad Oliver [COLLECTION]

A Mirror For Observers by Edgar Pangborn

The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

The Other Place by J.B. Priestly [COLLECTION]

Deep Space by Eric Frank Russell [COLLECTION]

Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley [COLLECTION]

City by Clifford D. Simak [COLLECTION] |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|
Strangers In The Universe by Clifford D. Simak

Without Sorcery by Theodore Sturgeon [COLLECTION]
The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Slan by A.E. van Vogt |BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA|
The Weapon Shops and The Weapon Makers by A.E. van Vogt

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. |AUDIBLE MODERN VANGUARD|

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley Weinbaum [COLLECTION] |LIBRIVOX|

The Throne Of Saturn by S. Fowler Wright

The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|
Re-Birth/The Chrysalids by John Wyndham |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|

Excellent titles that had origins on the pages of Fantasy And Science Fiction:

Bring The Jubilee by Ward Moore

Tales From Gavagan’s Bar by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp [COLLECTION]

The Sinister Researches Of C.P. Ransom by H. Nearing Jr. [COLLECTION]

One In Three Hundred by J.T. McIntosh

The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein |FULL CAST AUDIO|
The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Boucher’s best dozen Fantasy books:

The Devil In Velvet by John Dickson Carr

Fancies And Goodnights by John Collier [COLLECTION]

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison |MARIA LECTRIX|

The Circus Of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney

The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of A Justified Sinner by James Hogg

Fear by L. Ron Hubbard |GALAXY PRESS|

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson [COLLECTION] |BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA|

The Ghostly Tales by Henry James [COLLECTION]

Pogo by Walt Kelly

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Further Fables For Our Times by James Thurber [COLLECTION]

The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien |RECORDED BOOKS|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Long Walk by Stephen King

SFFaudio Review

Horror Audiobook - The Long Walk by Stephen KingThe Long Walk
By Stephen King; Read by Kirby Heyborne
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2010
ISBN: 9780142427835
Themes: / Horror / Walking / Alternate History / Maine /

Every year, on the first day of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as the “Long Walk.” Among this year’s chosen crop is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty. He knows the rules: Warning are issued if you fall under speed, stumble, sit down. After three warnings, you get your ticket. And what happens then serves as a chilling reminder that there can be only one winner in the Walk: the one who survives.

One of the things that generally makes me not connect with fiction is what’s missing. That is to say, if the story isn’t talking about some idea (the human condition, society, or how the world works) I probably won’t connect with it. I therefore always assume that a novel has some message. A lesson it is trying to impart to me. Perhaps this is a mistake as The Long Walk, by Stephen King, lives on the surface of what it is. It’s 100 boys walking across the United States in a kind of slow motion deathrace. Unlike the the traditional death march, these walkers are all volunteers, and are supplied with food and water. “That’s the premise.” I told myself. But what message had King planted underneath it? What idea was he trying to convey in novel form?

At first I was wondering if King was addressing the Vietnam War. But that didn’t pan out, not exactly. The way the book is structured, the premise is never flatly stated, we only learn how the boys ended up where they are (walking across Maine) when they discuss it amongst themselves. So, we’re learning the premise as we go. I figured that if there was a message in The Long Walk it needed to be decoded. My first suspect for the key to the message was the soldiers who passively enforce the Long Walk’s rules. Their faces were strangely blank, providing no bounce or reaction to their work or the insults the walkers hurl at them. I thought their blankness might be a hint, a symbol, or something. But if so, it didn’t work out for me. In fact, by the end, never having learned the names of any of the nearly faceless soldiers, it was quite the opposite. The only idea I could come up with to explain this was that they were designed to represent the unfeeling laws of nature. Kind of an embodiment physics, unfeeling and inalterable. That got me thinking that perhaps the whole of the The Long Walk was kind of a metaphor for mortality – you know, the idea that no matter your station, no matter your talent, none of us can escape our coming demise. But, the more I read, the less that seemed likely. In fact, no matter which intellectual straw I grasped at I kept coming away with a figurative handful of nothing.

Another angle of attack I took was to look at the world. What kind of a world would allow this horror race? What was the meaning of “the prize” for the winner? The world, what little we get to hear of it, was pretty interesting. We learn that there are 51 states in the Union, that before then end WWII some kind of air raid from Nazi Germany hit the American East Coast, and that the government may be entirely in the hands of a military dictatorship. Nice! These and other small details slip out in the many varied conversations between the boys in the Walk, amongst trash talk, sex talk and the discussion of literature. With nothing much left to go on I tried to think about the literary references, tried to see if there was some key there, to unlocking the meaning of this novel. At one point one of the walkers says that ‘the Walk is like living in a Shirley Jackson story.’ He was right! And later on, when ruminating on the effect of being watched by the public, another of the boys says he’s ‘reminded of a Ray Bradbury story.’ And he was right! In fact, there are maybe a half dozen literary references alluded to in this novel. But none of them, not any one of them, was the key to decoding the meaning for me. So, in the end, I didn’t come away with was any sense of what this novel was about, other than what it would be like to be force marched across the United States.

Apparently The Long Walk was originally written in 1966 and 1967 while King was in his first two semesters of university. I’m assuming it was somewhat updated or re-written before it’s 1979 debut in paperback under King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym. I first heard Kirby Heyborne’s narrative abilities with Little Brother |READ OUR REVIEW|. That novel was told in the first person, and Heyborne’s youthful voice was up for the job there. Here, voicing more than a dozen young men and boys, all in the third person, he renders an acceptable, if not stellar, performance. He adds the occasional regional American accent to each kid and it always sounds appropriate for what we know about his background. Also of note: There is an interesting introductory essay on Disc 1 entitled The Importance Of Being Bachman. It does not, however, provide any particular details about The Long Walk.

Posted by Jesse Willis

FREE LISTENS Top 10 Free Stories

Review

Free Listens Blog

A few weeks ago Jesse posted my list of Best Free Audiobooks. I got a great response for this post, so I thought I’d do another one with my favorite free short stories that I’ve reviewed at Free Listens. Of course such lists are inherently silly, as they depend upon the listmaker’s tastes, current mood, memory, and a host of other little factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the story. So, if you’d rather, here’s a list of 10 really darn good stories (but maybe not the best):

  1. “The Lottery” – Shirley Jackson
  2. “A Rose for Emily” – William Faulkner
  3. “The Gospel According to Mark” – Jorge Luis Borges
  4. “The Gift of the Magi” – O. Henry
  5. “Nightfall” by Isaac Asimov
  6. “Bullet in the Brain” – Tobias Wolff
  7. “A Sound of Thunder” – Ray Bradbury
  8. “The Monkey’s Paw” – W.W. Jacobs
  9. “The Open Window” – Saki
  10. “The Yellow Wallpaper” – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Hope you enjoy these!

Posted by Seth