The SFFaudio Podcast #154 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge
By Ambrose Bierce
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #154 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, Mirko and David Stifel talk about An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce (read by Bob Neufeld for LibriVox).

Talked about on today’s show:
The Devil’s Dictionary, comic irony, an American classic, German drama, Famous Monsters Of Filmland, Sleep No More, Nelson Almstead, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond, civil war stories, quantum mechanics, The Damned Thing, the genres: horror, ghost, “weird”, “weird war”, “dream”, or SUSPENSE, alternate reality, why is An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge so popular with high-school English teachers?, time perception, not-SF, “the man who was engaged in being hanged”, passivity, “go for it hands”, “a dream story”, David used to have out of body dreams, “stream of consciousness”, subjectivity, Henry James, the radio drama adaptations (Escape, Suspense, CBS Radio Mystery Theater),

“Each year thousands of short stories roll out from a multitude of typewriter, march across the pages of our magazines toward well deserved oblivion. Few are memorable, fewer still are classics. They pass the time and are forgotten even before the paper on which they are written is reduced to black ash. But occasionally a story is written that is a true classic, an unforgettable tale.”

astral projection, H.P. Lovecraft, Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, near death experience, Bierce’s headwound, Sigmund Freud, A Dream Play by August Strindberg, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, the driftwood, the slowdown of time, it’s a mystery story, a million blades of grass, infinite detail and infinite depth, Isaac Asimov, The Turn Of The Screw, The Twilight Zone version (which was a French short film), what’s with the corporal?, of the body, a hidden pun or joke, it was a setup, a great suspicion of death or dying, the kicking legs = running, unconscious insight result in surprise and relief, the tongue, wish fulfillment, the suspicion begins, naturalistic interpretation, Igor (Son Of Frankenstein), the history of hangings, botched hangings, popping heads, Hang ‘Em High, Braveheart, can it be truly spoiled?, war,

“Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.”

constitutional rights, the Alfred Hitchcock Presents adaptation, The Twilight Zone short film version, HuffDuffer, CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, “it’s best read”, an audio drama adaptation, impressionism, mapping back, additional scenes, a water moccasin, narration, is it a miracle that the rope breaks, a heavenly Eden like land, gates, Sergei Bondarchuk’s War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy, altered state, (The Crawling Chaos), sex choking, speculative fiction, life passing before you, the telescoping of time, remembering the classics, 100,000 high school teachers, one of the most podcast short stories, O. Henry stories are cute, an existential story, “trapped in a world he never made”, an exegesis.

From Eerie Magazine #23

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge - Illustration from Smith's Weekly, March 12, 1938

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: Night Drive by Murray Leinster

SFFaudio Online Audio

Night Drive

While I was flipping through one of my grandmother’s old English textbooks (SENSE AND FEELING) I found it contained a short story written by Will F. Jenkins. You may, as I did, instantly recognize it as a pen name of Murray Leinster (even if, in actuality, it’s the other way around). After running the title and the names by my copyright researching buddy, I was pleased to discover it was in the PUBLIC DOMAIN! I then passed it on to another of my creative friends who turned it into an episode of her podcast.

Julie Davis, the narrator, says she was planning on saving it for Halloween. I can see exactly why she was planning that, but it’s probably the perfect listening for any Autumn drive … at night …. in the country ….. with the doors locked …… very tightly.

Night Drive by Murray LeinsterNight Drive
By Murray Leinster; Read by Julie Davis
1 |MP3| – Approx. 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: September 24, 2010
In which a young woman at night is faced with a life-or-death choice.
Night Drive by Will F. Jenkins, was first published in the March 1950 issue of Today’s Woman magazine. In 1962 it was later collected in the Belmont Books paperback called Twisted, (edited by Groff Conklin).

Podcast feed:

Night Drive

In which a young woman at night is faced with a life-or-death choice.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Voices In The Wind Audio Theatre

SFFaudio Online Audio

Voices In The Wind Audio TheatreExecutive Producer David Farquhar of the audio drama troupe called Voices In The Wind Audio Theatre, writes in to tell me about audio drama production group. From the website:

Voices In The Wind– Audio Theatre, formally Design Sound Productions. Our mission is to produce quality audio drama programs which reflect a wide range of genres including Suspense, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi and Seasonal Presentations. Our production studio is located in Chatham, Ontario Canada, and we have had the good fortune of working with noted actors, writers and directors from New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle in the United States as well as from Toronto, Guelph, Windsor and Huntsville in Canada.

And notably, among their roster of professionals is Seeing Ear Theatre veteran George Zarr! Check out these free downloads:

Running To Detroit by Dave CarleyRunning to Detroit
By Dave Carley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 38 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Voices In The Wind
Published: July 2010
A mother and daughter plan on crossing the border from “Canuckistan” into Detroit, Michigan in an effort to “boost the American economy.” Sadly, a passport problem makes the change their plans – but all is not lost, as a pair of shady characters can help!

School Spirit by George ZarrSchool Spirit
By George Zarr; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CFCO / CHRW
Broadcast: Halloween 2005
“After a nighttime brush with the supernatural will Michelle’s first day of High School, be her last?”
SCHOOL SPIRIT was recorded live at the Von Ayres Cultural Center in Wallaceburg, Ontario on May 14, 2005 for later broadcast on CFCO AM 630 / 92.9 FM – Chatham and CHRW 94.9 – London on Halloween night 2005. The program was also featured on M Radio and The Sonic Society.
GLEN TURNER: Dad and Fiend
JC CHARBONNEAU: Marcy and Mrs. Stanton
JASON DOLSEN: Newscaster and Mr. Jameson
PAT GOUGH: Homicidal Teacher
Written and Directed by: George Zarr
Executive Producer/Background Ambiences: David Farquhar
Post Production: George Zarr
Recording Engineer/Front of House Mix: Brett Sansom
Musical Accompaniment/Spot Sound Effects: Joseph Benoit
Foley Sound Effects: Denise Benoit and Christina Roberts
“Voices In The Cold Wind” Lyrics by Frank Stasio, Music by George Zarr Performed by Noelle Dupuis and Denise Benoit, musical accompaniment by Joseph Benoit

Every Now And Then by George ZarrEvery Now And Then
By George Zarr; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 33 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CFCO / The Radio Works
Broadcast: 2003
“A sunny day, a quaint antique store, browsing through the artifacts of the past. To some, these are the ingredients for a pleasantly-spent afternoon. To Frank, it is the beginning of a journey that will tear his world inside out. Is his amusing and puzzling journey down memory lane an actual journey? Or a careening descent into insanity?” Every Now And Then [is] an original radio drama of suspense produced for broadcast on the New York based radio series The Radio Works and their 70 member stations across the USA and CFCO AM 630/92.9 FM. The Program was also featured on M Radio and The Sonic Society.
GREGG RAINWATER: Frank and Johnny
NOELLE DUPUIS: Diane and Mabel
NORM MCLEOD: Mr. Sagen, Sea Captain and Sailor
PAT GOUGH: Mrs. Spencer
BOB STEELE: Horse and Carriage Driver, Newspaper Vendor and Sailor
DAVID FARQUHAR: Voice on Gramophone
Written and Directed by: George Zarr
Executive Producer, Recording Engineer and Post Production: David Farquhar
Original Music: George Zarr
Vocals: Noelle Dupuis

Dark Road To Nowhere by Joey OuelletteDark Road to Nowhere
By Joey Ouellette; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 13 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio One (Windsor, Chatham and Sarnia), CFCO, Sound Affects
Broadcast: Halloween 2003
“It was a dark and stormy night, Simon and Felicia were out driving along a lonely country road, when suddenly, something jumped out in front of their car, was it a Halloween trick, an illusion or the beginning of a nightmare?
ANDREA KING: Felicia and the Old Woman
JOEY OUELLETE: Mr. Howard the Keeper
HOST: Norm McLeod
Written and Directed by: Joey Ouellette
Executive Producer/Recording Engineer/Post Production: David Farquhar

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

SFFaudio Review

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck HoganThe Strain
By Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan; Read by Ron Perlman
Audible Download – 13 hours 36 mins [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Harper Audio
Published: 2009
Themes: / vampires / scientific thriller / horror / New York / mythology / medical mystery

Yes, it’s another book about vampires. But wait, don’t shrug it off just yet. Several things set The Strain apart from the glut of vampire novels flooding the market of late. First, it’s co-written by movie director Guillermo del Toro, whose past film successes include the vampire flick Blade II, the comic-book adaptation of Hellboy, and the mythological Pan’s Labyrinth. He’s also heading up the forthcoming film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Furthermore, The Strain takes a more sobering view of the undead, divorced from the romanticism weighing down the vampire genre.

The Strain begins when a plane lands at JFK airport with almost all its passengers struck dead. The Center for Disease Control calls in its chief investigator Ephraim Goodwether, newly divorced and newly sober, to look into the matter. Mysteries abound when the passengers’ bodies go missing from the morgue, the few survivors begin acting strangely, and a coffin-like trunk inexplicably vanishes from the plane’s cargo hold. Ephraim and his partner Nora, with whom he’s had some past romantic involvement, find unlikely aid in the guise of pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian, an aged Holocaust survivor who carries an odd staff with a silver wolf’s-head handle. The old man explains that a centuries-old conflict between vampire tribes is about to burst forth onto the streets of New York.

And indeed it does. The narrative frequently shifts away from the main storyline to tell the stories of men and women infected with a strange virus, whose vector is a disgustingly pulsating capillary worm. Initial side effects resemble a mild flu and include sore throat and slight disorientation. But this is only the beginning. The sore throat, it turns out, heralds the growth of a new sinister organ, a long tendril-like apparatus under the tongue tipped with a deadly stinger, which in turn infects other humans. Other vampiric characteristics soon manifest, including the whitening of gums, an aversion to sunlight, and immunity to most forms of attack.

The premise is intriguing, especially since it presents a more scientific approach to the undead than most other vampire novels, except perhaps Richard Mathesen’s superior I Am Legend. Unfortunately, the actual story unfolds too slowly and spasmodically, and lacks evidence of any real structural forethought on the part of the authors. Del Toro originally pitched the idea as a TV show, and evidence of his screenwriting background can be found in the scene headings affixed to each section and in the many entertaining but ultimately superfluous vignettes of violence. The suspense sequences are spine-tingling and the action scenes hair-raising, but most of them do little to further the story.

The book’s shining gem is the character of Abraham Setrakian, whose harrowing escape from Nazis and forces even more sinister we learn throughout the book in flashback sequences. Del Toro’s interest in mythology and folklore take center stage, and provide the most compelling moments of the book.

It’s difficult to know how the division of labor fell between Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan in writing The Strain, but my impression is that del Toro provided the concept and perhaps wrote some of the pivotal scenes, while Hogan did the heavy lifting of filling in the gaps and pulling the whole thing together. This should have been a good thing, since Chuck Hogan is an acclaimed best-selling author. However, writing good speculative fiction requires a certain sensitivity and perspective that I believe Hogan lacks, although this is only a guess on my part since I’ve read none of his other work. Del Toro has keener vision as a storyteller, at least as seen in his films, though these skills don’t necessarily translate to the written word. Since the cover bears both their names, both del Toro and Hogan must bear some blame for crafting a less-than-stellar novel.

The Strain is narrated by actor Ron Perlman, who incidentally also played a role in del Toro’s Blade II. Particularly in works of suspense and horror, a good voice actor can make the difference between scenes that leave you gripping the arms of your chair and scenes that make you laugh out loud by virtue of their inadvertent cheesiness. I’m pleased to report that Perlman’s voice work in The Strain had the former impact on me. His intonations are pitch-perfect, and he snarls out the vampiric growls and moans with enough force and feeling to chill the blood.

The Strain is the first in a trilogy of the same name, as can be seen in the novel’s grim and hurried ending. As Dante Hicks says of The Empire Strikes Back in Clerks, “it ends on such a downer.” That said, the ending brought significant changes to the lives of several pivotal characters who, despite the spotty storytelling, I’ve grown to care about, and I’ll probably read the sequel when it hits the audio airwaves next year.

Posted by Seth Wilson

Review of 7th Son Book One by J.C. Hutchins

SFFaudio Review

7th Son Book One7th Son Book One: Descent
By J.C. Hutchins; Read by J.C. Hutchins
Podcast Novel – Approx. 16 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: J.C. Hutchins;
Published: August 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / Suspense / Crime / Cloning / Conspiracy /

The President of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy.

How does that grab you? These are the first two sentences from the prologue of the podiobook 7th Son, and it just gets better from there. Next, we meet our 7 main characters: John, Michael, Jack, Father Thomas, Jonathan, Dr. Mike, and Kilroy 2.0, as each are taken abruptly away from their individual lives and brought to the 7th Son Facility. They quickly learn that their lives – and their memories – are not as individual as one would think. Each man is a clone, and each had been implanted with the same memories from childhood, using Memory Recording/Installation (MR/I) technology. Each clone has their own personality trait (for instance, one is a priest, another is a Marine, and another is a musician), and though they are clones, their physical appearances do differ slightly.

What they come to discover is they were brought together to help catch the person who assassinated the President. The 7th Son facilitators believe that John Alpha, the source in which all the other clones were created, is behind the assassination. Only they don’t know how, or why. That is where the clones come in. Working together, they discover John Alpha’s whereabouts, at the same time learning more and more about their pasts that never were. The clones also discover they share the same mother, who was taken away by John Alpha. The memories of their mother are the same implanted memories, and they all share them, even though the woman, Danya Sheridan, is quite real and was a memory specialist at the facility.

We find out soon enough this is a conspiracy that goes much deeper than assassinating a President. Experimenting with memory technology also has its downfalls, when in Chapter 8 we learn about NEPTH Charge Technology (Neuro Erasure-Pulsed Technology Hardware), a technology that sends such a shockwave through the brain that every one of your memories are erased. Eventually a way to control that misstep is found, but the implications should the technology fall into the wrong hands are evident.

The very next chapter is an example of this, and is by far my favorite chapter in the book. I remember it very clearly because I cringed for the entire process. For onlookers, I must have looked like I was having some sort of seizure. It is that good of a chapter.

Hutchins captures your attention from the very beginning, and with a smooth voice is able to depict each character in such a way you begin to recognize each clone’s voice as their own. His writing is smart, descriptive, and his ideas are original, with plot twists that will keep you guessing right up until a secret is revealed (and there are quite a few). You’re guaranteed to gasp and talk to your computer or mp3 player while listening. J.C. Hutchins gives Stephen King a run for his money. Now that I think about it, someone should let King know about this podcast novel, if he’s not subscribed all ready, that is.

There are two ways to receive this podcast novel. One is through, where you will get nothing other than the chapters of the story, as if you’re listening to an audiobook. The other way is subscribing to the podcast feed directly through Hutchins’ website, which is how I listened. Listening to the book this way is a bit different than just listening to it as a straight audiobook. The set up is a weekly show, with an introduction, a recap of the last chapter, the chapter itself, then closing with voicemails and podcast promotions. A lot of listeners to the podcast listen week-by-week, as you would wait for the next episode of a television show. Each chapter is compelling enough, with just enough cliffhanger to keep you checking your podcatcher for the next chapter to be released. Other listeners, such as myself, joined the “Beta Clone Army” (as the fan-based Myspace group is called) later in the book. I listened to nothing else for a week-and-a-half, then had to wait like everyone else when I caught up. It was frustrating, but in a good way.

Also included in the podcast-show version of the novel is a bonus show, filled with Q&A from listeners, plugs for other podcasts, and acknowledgements. I loved listening to this extra show. Hutchins talks about his inspiration for the 7th Son story, as well as giving in-depth analysis of each clone, and how he created the characters. The hard-core fans will find it very informative, and I personally love to hear where writers get their inspirations for stories.

There is a ton of fan-hype surrounding this podcast novel, and it’s easy to be swept up in it. Whether you listen as a “podiobook” or as the podcast show, 7th Son will captivate your imagination and hold it hostage right up to the end. The writing is strong and easily stands alone, which is why it has the fan base it does. Book two begins September 26th, so there is plenty of time to subscribe to this book and catch up.