Talked about on today’s show: Jonathan Davis, Pat Fraley, Scott Brick is the Brad Pitt of audiobooks and Simon Vance is the George Clooney of audiobooks, how Simon Vance got started, reel to reel tape recorder, Winnie The Pooh, BBC Radio 4, 1980s, Brighton, RNIB, Grover Gardner, George Guidall, The Book At Bedtime, Margaret Thatcher, California, San Francisco, Christian and devotional audiobooks, “we sound more intelligent (but we’re not)”, Stieg Larsson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Audiofile Magazine, Earphone Awards, England, Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the apprenticeship, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, a classic dystopia, Thirteen (aka Black Man), The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, artfulness and in-artfulness of narration, Doctor Who, overwhelming music -> overwhelming emotion, The Lord Of The Rings, the good narrators do the unexpected, “boo”, Dune by Frank Herbert (the full-cast audiobook), Goodreads.com, Simon Prebble, V For Vendetta by Steve Moore, the comic + the movie + Simon Vance = great audiboook, Natalie Portman was awesome, Stephen Rea, most novelizations are terrible, Hugo Weaving, James Bond, Ian Fleming, AudioGo, Blackstone Audio, the Green Knowe books, Listen And Live, Kate Fleming, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, a complicated book, a second chance, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast review of The Prestige (episode #177), the movie of The Prestige, a final trick, one of the best Science Fiction movies of the last ten years, a thinking man’s book (and movie), The Illusionist, stage magic vs. CGI magic, The Magic Circle, Left for Dead: The Untold Story Of The Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race by Nick Ward and Sinead O’Brien, survival, Antarctica, fiction vs. non-fiction, a cabinet of heads, WWII, the Patrick O’Brian books (the Aubrey–Maturin series), Master And Commander, the incomplete book 21, Robert Hardy and Tim Piggot-Smith, what SFF Simon Vance book should we check out?, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, The Exodus Towers, The Plague Forge, zombie apocalypse, aliens, “good honest adventure”, Pan Books Of Horror, c, Rama, Rama II, The Man In The High Castle, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, a PDF listing Simon Vance’s audiobooks, out of print audiobooks, Audible.com, Christopher Priest’s other audiobooks are done by other audiobook narrators, Peter Ganim, Robert J. Sawyer, The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks, rights issues, keep your audiobooks.
The SFFaudio Podcast #230 – The Red Room by H.G. Wells, read by Simon Vance. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Luke Burrage, Bryan Alexander, and Simon Vance.
The Red Room (aka The Ghost Of Fear) was first published in The Idler, March 1896.
Talked about on today’s show:
Are there any supernatural elements in The Red Room?, what is the genre of this story?, Gothic Fiction, a deconstruction of the gothic, the ultimate psychological horror story, the apparatus of gothic horror, a psychoanalysis of horror, what we do to ourselves, we scare ourselves, the scary clothes horse, “as long as this house of sin endures”, what happened to the candles, Luke’s theory, what is the sin?, the old people, bad candles?, trick candles?, a Scooby Doo interpretation of the story?, coincidence, how reliable is the narrator?, the origins of the horror are in a fake scare, the changing description of the men, distorted and crouching, the man with the shade, shadow?, ghost?, a blue phial, a green shade, a story of generational transfer, the rising generation of science, the significance of the narrator’s age (28 years), what’s up with the gun?, an impossible sturdiness, the unknowableness of your own mind, the final word – or is it?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Eric S. Rabkin, an evil relationship, Ganymede with an eagle (Zeus), cup-bearer is a euphemism, does the Chinaman statuary represent the Yellow Peril?, clothing fashioned in dead brains, the generational interpretation, the grotesque, why not three norns?, the three disabilities, a tremendous tremor, 150% spillage, a mocking shadow, a pro-science story, fire = knowledge, the light of science, the return of ignorance with the return of darkness, why is the narrator there?, is this a Hound Of The Baskervilles situation, the previous tenant, the glass before the fire, the three mirrors, Mise en abyme, “your own choosing”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, what side in the public debate of new spiritualism, it felt modern to Luke, The Pit And The Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula is a contemporary of The Red Room, the subterranean passage, Eric is a big Freudian, a meticulous forensic analytic description, this isn’t Mulder this is Scully, Simon Vance has voiced Dracula twice, Fangland (a modern 60 Minutes style retelling of Dracula), updates to Dracula, The Dracula Tapes, The Stone Tape (1972), byte by byte, Nigel Kneale, The Quatermass Experiment, Lorraine Castle, generic European castle, skeptics haunted by a ghost that isn’t a ghost, a modern Gothic horror story, is it the carbon monoxide coming off the fungus?, the stone as a medium, solid state recording, a scientific explanation, a Lovecraftian pre-human recording, it may not be need to be remade, Quentin Tarantino remakes bad movies as a good movies, haunted digital media, Alien, MOTHER is basically HAL, Demon Seed, the anti-Japaneses bias as a more modern Yellow Peril, the medium of the tale, the staircase, “it’s not there’s nothing there”, the good-time gal, the wrong interpretation, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson, becoming lost in your own head, he brought the ghost into the room, spirits as ghosts, why is it a red room?, red in the flames, it’s like the grate is a prison, a slick tunnel to the red room, a womb like room, a beige room, Ash spurting sperm everywhere, a haunted castle in space, Alien as the opposite of Star Wars, the science hero angle, gothic explique, teasing out a Gothic reading, in medias res, Freudian spaces, on this night of all nights, its like their casting a spell, is he a journalist?, Simon thinks the narrator is the new owner, Christopher Priest, The Prestige, why Christopher Priest is not as popular as he should be, his head and his lips are bloody, a bashed face, The Door In The Wall by H.G. Wells, is the story open, Luke is skeptical about the openness and the double blooding, belying the begrudgement, the curious escape,”H.G. Wells is a genius writer”, The War Of The Worlds from the alien perspective, Little Wars, “a heavy blow at last upon my forehead”, an almost 2nd person POV shift, “global warming is a fake”, the haunted man not the haunted room, Gene Wolfe, gothic markers, Henry James, Boon, the judgements of history, Wells’ agenda, The Time Machine, The Chronic Argonauts, horrific jellyfish and rabbits, nameless characters, minimal information, the Wells-Wolfe connection, The Shadow Of The Torturer, the always unreliable narrator, Understanding Comics by Scott Mccloud, Hello Kitty, part of the appeal of the Twilight books is in how badly drawn Bella is, inviting blankness, Things To Come.
The SFFaudio Podcast #229 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Paul Weimer talk about NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.
Talked about on today’s show:
Tam is back, Haruki Murakami, Kafka On The Shore, magic realism, Japan, kafkaesque, surrealism, 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, pretty books, Chip Kidd, rice paper, Requiem by Ken Scholes, Julie Davis, Tor, magic staff, earth in the future, The Steel Remains, “oh crap this is the future”, Gene Wolfe, Happy Hour In Hell by Tad Williams, Bobby Dollar, The Dirty Streets Of Heaven, urban fantasy, demoness tangling, Lankhmar, urban fantasy => a certain kind of fantasy, noir/detective => hardboiled, Otherland, Luke Burrage, cats, “the Walter Jon Williams effect”, MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, mostly dystopian, Oryx and Crake, quasi-humans, The Year Of The Flood, genetic engineering, racoon-pigs, storytelling mode, listening at 2X speed, competitive debate, Margaret Atwood’s preview of a review of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, a sequel to The Shining, Atwood’s weakness for horror and terror, “because he’s Stephen King”, Will Patton, “don’t judge me people”, is there a stigma in literary circles?, Zoomer magazine’s profile of Margaret Atwood as “Queen Of The Nerds”, Twitter, tweetalong?, a genuine literary reputation, poetry, Orson Scott Card, does it matter?, dystopia, Dreamscape Audiobooks, The Night Lands by William Hope Hodgson, The House On The Borderlands, a very daunting book, big and ambitious, Lovecraftian?, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Earth Abides, class, mainstream post-apocalypse, Alas Babylon by Pat Frank, a toothless grandfather, Drew Ariana, Goslings by J.D. Beresford, plague talk!, The Children Of Men, Y: The Last Man, the newspapers, HiLoBooks, “Radium Age” Science Fiction, Gweek, The Road To Science Fiction, classicism, sexism, barbarism, The Iron Heel, numeracy and literacy, the size of the universe or the age of the Earth, Simon & Schuster Audio, Rivers by Michael Farris Smith, Jenny loves destroying the earth, wiping the slate clean, Fallout, Tobias Buckell, Interrupt by Jeff Carlson, Hunter Davis, Brilliance Audio, simultaneously published with print, Neanderthals, the pronunciations, Robert J. Sawyer, Discover Magazine, literally means not literally anymore, it’s figuratively raining cats and dogs, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, Julie Davis, Simon Vance, science fiction thrillers, John Scalzi, plague, space elevator, working for the enemy?, a compressed schedule, writing 2X, a first novel!, military SF, “we’ve complinished everything”, Reflex by Steven Gould, Jumper, the physical audiobook industry (is it mostly for libraries), Paperback Audio, William Dufris, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, innate teleportation, the Jumper movie, Portal, post-humans, Nightcrawler without the bad smell, BAMFless, The Clockwork Man by E.V. Odle, Ralph Lister, no introductions makes Jesse sad, are there audio previews?, Affliction: An Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter Novel (#22) by Laurell K. Hamilton, The Lord of Opium (Matteo Alacran #2) by Nancy Farmer, The Midnight Heir (Bane Chronicles #4) by Cassandra Clare and Sara Rees Brennan, building on The Hunger Games, Untouchable (Immortals After Dark #8) by Kresley Cole, Robert Petkoff, The Hunt or Capture, the reality TV version of The Hunger Games in The Hunger Games would be very boring, The Truman Show would be a very boring show to actually watch, in fiction the TV shows are without narrative, TVtropes show with an show, Hamlet, William Shakespeare did meta 500 years ago, epic traditional fantasy, traditional epic fantasy marriage, Crown Thief (Tales Of Easie Damasco #2) by David Tallerman, Giant Thief, sword and sorcery, golem or gollum?, Witch Wraith: The Dark Legacy of Shannara by Terry Brooks, Rosalyn Landor, , “Tolkien with the serial numbers filed off”, “its all about the elfstones”, The Lord Of The Rings, questing, trilogy vs. endless series, the Wikipedia entry for Shannara, a magical cataclysm, “a richer broader universe”, Revolution, S.M. Stirling, Robert Jordan, the Dragonlance series, Daniel Abraham, subverting the quest trope, The Eye Of The World, George R.R. Martin, gathering forces and subverting expectations, children’s fantasy, Roald Dahl, Matilda is read by Kate Winslet!, the musical of Matilda, The Twits, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Charlie And The Great Glass ElevatorFuturama, Fry and the Slurm factory, Gene Wilder, great character names!, Dickensian names, The BFG, biography, crime, thriller, JFK’s Last Hundred Days: The Transformation Of A Man And The Emergence Of A Great President, Death Angel (Alexandra Cooper #15) by Linda Fairstein, The Kill List by Frederick Forsyth, George Guidall, “now it’s personal”, Penguin Audio, adding heat urgency of character development, adding a baby, Breaking Bad babies, the invisible baby or worse the artificially aging child syndrome, Mork & Mindy, Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, 30,000 years ago, prehistorical romance, hard edged scientific, Clan Of The Cavebear, Monsters Of The Earth by David Drake, Seanan McGuire, Soldier by Harlan Ellison, The Terminator, The Outer Limits, James Cameron, Philip Wylie, Tomorrow!, John Wyndham, When Worlds Collide, The Answer, nuclear war with angels, The End Of The Dream, The Murderer Invisible.
It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying. It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world. In each era, a child shall be chosen. Their task is to find a dark messiah known only as the Crowman. But is he our saviour – or the final incarnation of evil?
Black Feathers is the first in the Black Dawn series by eco-horror writer Joseph d’Lacey. It follows two timelines, one about a present day boy Gordon Black whose birth marks the end of the world and one about Megan Maurice who lives in a post-apocolyptic future. They are connected in their search for the Crowman, a mysterious figure who will either save the world or destroy it. And if you were hoping to find that out, or anything else for that matter, you’ll have to wait for the next book.
This book sets up tone really well. It’s moody and dark and a little bit creepy without being cheap. And as great as the idea of the Crowman and the parallel timelines are it all falls apart in the lack of plot. After all, just because I will watch a movie with a shirtless Jude Law doesn’t mean I want to be forced to spend a day with him. And that was kind of how this was. After a while I was just waiting to see if anything would happen that would be more than a “previously on” could sum up. The answer is no. Not even in the last chapter. This is probably also because I had trouble connecting with Gordon and Megan. We are told that they are special and important without being shown. Why does Gordon’s coming mark the end of the world? Why do crows follow him around wherever he goes? Why was Megan chosen by the Crowman to receive visions when no girl has been chosen before her? It’s a mystery! But we know that all this has been foretold so that makes them special. Unfortunately, they are not special enough for me to want to stick around through Gordon wondering what to do when his family is taken away and meeting some random strangers in the woods. Or to see Megan wandering around a forest while her teacher whispers enigmatic things at her.
Along those same lines, this book also commits the cardinal sin of being worthless on its on. Without a sequel, this book does not have a complete story. There is not a single resolved plot element or character arc which makes the whole thing an overly long set up for the next book.
As a side note, d’Lacey takes the eco part of his chosen genre seriously. There are times when it gets a bit preachy about how we have destroyed the earth and we are horrible, irresponsible creatures. This actually gives it a bit of a Happening feel. Anyway, if you enjoy composting on your days off, this is the book for you.
The audiobook is narrated by Simon Vance who was amazing and perfect for this book. He loans it an almost storybook quality that enhanced the overall tone and emphasized the youthfulness of the protagonists. Even if the book is mediocre, I could listen to him for hours. Which is, in fact, exactly what I did.