The Sonic Society: Pulpy, Mysterious, Funny

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Sonic SocietySeason 3 of The Sonic Society, is well under way, their latest, and possibly greatest episode to date! Have a listen |MP3|.

This ep showcases Broken Sea‘s pulpy adventure series Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter. Scripting for JS: MH is well researched, and very fun. The two episodes included are from the second story arc entitled Jake Sampson And The Tears Of Ra. It is a supernatural tale primarily set in 1920s Egypt. Personally I could do without the footsteps in echoing corridors but other than that this is a highly recommended listen.

Also included in this show is the third episode of the increasingly mysterious audio drama from New Zealand. The show is called Claibourne Claybourne, it feels like a Kiwi version of Twin Peaks. It is quite slick. but I can’t seem to find a website or much information about the program on the web though. Anybody know more about Claibourne? Claybourne‘s own podcast can be found HERE, where it has already concluded with Episode 96!*

Also on tap in this show is the funniest listen ever heard on The Sonic Society, a skit from “wacko parody/absurdist/topical/musical/slapstick radio sketch comedy project” called Wasted Tape. It has nothing to do with Science Fiction, Fantasy, or even Horror but I think you’ll dig it anyway. The subject of the WT players’ jocularity: An all male cast of The Vagina Monologues.

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to The Sonic Society’s podcast feed:

*Thanks Roy!

Posted by Jesse Willis

William Hope Hodgson’s The House On The Borderland on BBC7

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th Dimension BBC7’s The Seventh Dimension is airing a new commission of The House On The Borderland from their North Ireland producers this week. No word on whether it is unabridged or not, but you can hear it via the Listen Again service. Not sure who Hodgson is or what The House On The Borderland is about? Here’s a take one author’s opinion upon this work:

“A classic of the first water.” – H.P. Lovecraft

Wikipedia sez of it:

“[The House On The Borderland] is a milestone that signals the leaving of the realistic nature of supernatural fiction of the late 19th century. Hodgson follows out of the ghost story and the gothic to create a newer cosmic horror that leaves a great impression on the people who would become the great writers of the weird tales of the middle of the 20th century.”

BBC7 - The House On The Borderland by William Hope HodgsonThe House On The Borderland
By William Hope Hodgson; Read by Jim Norton
4 Broadcasts – Approx. 2 Hours [ABRIDGED]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Tues. – Fri. at 6.30pm and 00.30am starting Sept. 4
Two friends camp near the ruins of an old house in a remote area in the west of Ireland, there they discover a manuscript which describes the terrifying experiences of the last owner of the house of the title.

BBC7 broadcast of Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionPreviously released on BBC Radio 4, and with a different reader, The Willows is a 100 year old supernatural Horror story is endorsed by none other than H.P. Lovecraft! Old H.P. described it as: ‘The finest supernatural tale in English literature.’ Blackwood, is well regarded as one of the 20th century’s foremost writers of supernatural fiction and as Lovecraft, said of him: ‘he is the one absolute and unquestioned master of weird atmosphere …[he] can evoke what amounts almost to a story from a simple fragment of psychological description. Above all others he understands how fully some sensitive minds dwell for ever on the borderland of dream, and how relatively slight is the distinction betwixt those images formed from actual objects and those excited by the play of the imagination.’

BBC7 - The Willows by Algernon BlackwoodThe Willows
By Algernon Blackwood; Read by Lawrence Jackson
4 X 30 Minute Episodes – Approx. 2 Hours [UNABRIDGED?]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Monday 25th to Thursday 28th, 2007 at 6:30pm (repeats 12:30am) UK Time*
Two friends on a canoeing trip down the Danube decide to spend the night on a small island in a remote stretch of the river between Austria and Hungary. Little by little, they realize that malevolent supernatural forces, embodied by the island’s ubiquitous rustling willow trees, are at work against them, and what at first promises to be a straightforward camping expedition escalates into an ordeal of survival against a powerful agency from another dimension.

All four parts will be made available via the Listen Again service shortly after they air.

Jesse Willis

Review of Something Wicked This Way Comes (with A Sound of Thunder) by Ray Bradbury

Fantasy Audiobooks - Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes (with A Sound of Thunder)
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
8 CD’s – 9.5 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 0786175354
Date Published: 2005
Themes: / Fantasy / Halloween / Carnival / Magic / Supernatural / Aging /

Sometime each October, a line is crossed; the line between falling leaves and fallen leaves, between shirtsleeves and a jacket, between the relief that summer has ended and the slight dread of the upcoming winter. Most of us don’t really notice the moment of crossing; we look up sometime afterwards and wonder where all the pumpkins came from. Some people, though, are exquisitely aware of this moment; they live in it, they draw it out and savor it, and a special few of them create art about it that allows the rest us to actually experience it. Dave McKean captures it with his eerie photo collages, M. Ward puts his old-young-man voice to good use singing about it, particularly in a track called “One Life Away,” and Terry Gilliam almost-but-not-quite captured it on film in the recent The Brothers Grimm. Ray Bradbury did some of his best work while inhabiting it. In The Illustrated Man and The October Country, he told stories about people’s lives intersecting that weird border. In The Halloween Tree, he abandoned story for the most part, and spent his time describing the sensory experience of the moment of crossing. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, recently released as an audiobook by Blackstone Audio, he skillfully combined plot and description to examine this and life’s other unnoticed, but profound, sea changes.

Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are the young protagonists of the story, best friends born just two minutes apart, but each on a different side of the line. Each of the boys personifies their respective border country; Will is blue-eyed and blonde, responsible, mannered, charming, the type of kid who looks like he was born wearing a scout uniform. Jim is darker, his eyes and his hair, but also his mood and personality. While it would be easy (and tempting) to say that Will is “better” than Jim, Bradbury shows his wisdom by describing the value of both of the boys’ attributes, how one, without the other, is vulnerable and incomplete, and how the different elements each boy bring to the friendship ultimately strengthen it.

The story follows Will and Jim as they cross a number of boundaries; the October line, the line between boyhood and adolescence, and the line between innocence and experience. The arrival of a strange carnival to the boys’ idyllic town complicates these passages. “Cougar and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show” is indeed something wicked, and the danger it presents to the boys and their town makes for an engaging, suspenseful tale.

Audiobook veteran Stephen Rudnicki reads Something Wicked, and gives a largely enjoyable performance, with only a few rough spots. Listeners familiar with Rudnicki will understand that dialogue between two pubescent boys isn’t exactly the perfect material for his sonorous voice. Everything is forgiven, however, when Mr. Dark makes his entrance. Rudnicki’s reading of the tattooed ringmaster’s introductory sentence literally gave me chills. Mr. Cougar, the Dust Witch, and the rest of the Shadow Show freaks are also done justice by Rudnicki’s interpretations.

Blackstone Audio seems to have heard my pleas for more DVD-type extra features on audio books, and have included an extra disc with a Bradbury short story, “A Sound of Thunder,” also read by Rudnicki. The story, a powerful exploration of the dangers of time travel, was recently made into a motion picture starring Edward Burns (and almost universally panned).

An interesting element of this audio book is that, whether by accident or design, the discs almost invariably ended at a point of terrific suspense. Rather than simply turning a page to assuage my anxiety about the fate of the characters, I was scrambling to eject discs, open cases, balance discs on my various fingers and insert new discs. Call me a masochist, but I thought it actually made the experience more enjoyable. Even listeners who don’t share my Hitchockian penchant for prolonging a story’s tension will have a hard time finding a better group of guides than Bradbury, Rudnicki, Jim, Will, and Mr. Dark for this year’s passage over that peculiar line.

Review of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Fantasy Audiobooks - Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes
By Ray Bradbury; Read by Paul Hecht
7 CD’s – 8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
ISBN: 0788746375
Date Published: 1999
Themes: / Fantasy / Halloween / Carnival / Magic / Supernatural / Aging /

First of all, it was October. A rare month for boys.
— Prologue, Something Wicked This Way Comes

As I write this, it’s a cool October night. The trees outside are starting to drop autumn leaves. It’s not difficult, especially after finishing this novel, to see why October turns my thoughts to Ray Bradbury more than any other author. He can instill the spirit of Halloween in a person the same way that Dickens instills the spirit of Christmas, and Something Wicked This Way Comes is his work that does it best.

Paul Hecht, in one of his finest narrating performances, reads this unabridged version of Bradbury’s novel, and adds an infectious enthusiasm to the poetic prose. I was captured by his performance.

The novel revolves around Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, who are best friends. They are both nearly thirteen years old, and it’s the week before Halloween. Into town comes a lightning rod salesman who warns of an approaching storm. Later that same night a carnival comes to town, full of bizarre people and sinister magic. The boys are immediately drawn to it and, after an unsettling event involving a carousel, know that they are dealing with something dangerous and powerful. The two boys are very different people, so they react to the carnival, its people, and its magic in different ways.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is a novel full of images. The carnival, the carousel, the boys themselves running here and there, the lightning rod covered with ancient symbols… those images come through with crystal clarity in this audiobook. Happy Halloween!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson