The SFFaudio Podcast #382 – READALONG: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #382 – Jesse, Paul, Julie Davis, and Maissa talk about Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.

Talked about on today’s show:
1921, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the morality of this character, on his high horse, betraying the Revolution, completely detached, everybody in this novel is morally gray, maddeningly indistinct, not a hero, historical explanation, that is why the book is named “Scaramouche”, he is the goad, acting as Scaramouche, Aline holds up the virtue, the epitaph on Sabatini’s gravestone, a Prisoner Of Zenda situation, based on somebody real, “A Romance Of The French Revolution”, incendiary speeches, the “Paladin of the Third”, critiquing the excesses of the French Revolution, pro-Jacobean, the character has knowledge of the future, excusing a lot of the morality, we don’t know what he’s thinking until he opens his mouth, good writing, “the tiger is the great lord of the jungle…”, hunting the tiger, solidifying what the revolution meant, dual (duel) motivation, playing the actor, foreshadowing, acting, taking on the role of actor (orator and paladin), a Heinleinian hyper-competent character, the author forces the other Scaramouche off-stage, the comedy and drama, a great sequence, becoming the mask, the inner portion of his life is reflected out on to the stage, he is himself as his purest expression, he is best as Scaramouche, he’s happiest and most content as himself as Scaramouche, you did WHAT with WHO?, we are all the sport of destiny, why look at adaptations, the 1952 movie, dad vs. brother, liberty, equality fraternity, the Robe, Omnus Omnibus, the Buskin, the Sword, enraging the audience, the privileged estates, it becomes very meta, William Shakespeare, a horrible sequel (Scaramouche: The Kingmaker), the puppetry, the author is puppetting the characters, traditional swashbuckler, The Princess Pride without the comedy, other ways of telling the story, a revenge tale, A Tale Of Two Cities, Nicholas Nickleby, reading old books, writers who were ravenous readers first, Donald Westlake (Richard Stark), the Parker series, roll and repeat adventures, Scaramouche is just living, accessory criminals, Alan Grofield is an actor/criminal who gets his own spin-off series, The Score by Richard Stark, The Damsel, The Dame, The Blackbird, Benet, there is the other way…, Sabatini’s weakness is his third act, in the center of Islam, Simon Vance’s narration of Scaramouche, Gord Mackenzie’s narration (for LibriVox), expletive deleted, name of name!, in keeping with the 19th century literary tradition, a lost tale of the French Revolution, Lord Valentine’s Castle by Robert Silverberg, wandering Scaramouche-style, juggling, waking-up with amnesia, quasi-global government, The Old Curiosity Shop, commedia dell’arte, pantomime, improv, Who’s Line Is It Anyway?, pantaloon, harlequin, the little skirmisher, Shakespeare’s types, a learned-fool, a brooding older man, the maiden -> the nurse -> the matron, you’re playing pantaloon, more meta, reading books to become a fencing master, the opening is rather boring, but soon after we’re in a sword-fight, the man-on-the-run genre, as a lawyer, taking sides, raising and destroying a company, the trainee becomes the master, friendship, friendships that betray him, caring enough, carrying on a legacy, sucking up to power, at heart a good guy despite the threats, in bed or on board, the 1952 adaptation’s ending is better than the novel’s, a young Corsican officer, played for comedy, the seven-minute fight in the theater, I will meet you behind the cathedral, killing members of the titled classes, weird morality, shooting a good guy and forgiving the man you’re after revenge for, Mel Ferrer, “he had a string of wives and I understand why”, The Taming Of The Shrew, Stewart Granger, he’s not handsome, aha!, an unhandsome Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, star-quality, The Prisoner Of Zenda, deep into French Revolution politics, the Revolutions Podcast, aristocrats vs. the Third Estate, deep into the weeds, we’re on a powder keg politically (brexit), biting off your own to spite your face, the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the titled (and entitled) classes, the estates: Nobility 1st, Church 2nd, 3rd People, 24% of the population of with 90% of the power, justice for the rich vs. justice for the poor, production efficiency since the French Revolution, the food industry, 1% of the 1%, everybody is fed, far away to the left, the sucking up to power is still around, class betrayal, bastard children, I was betrayed!, everybody is secretly noble, never mind all that revenge, that’s the reality we live in, the book is very realistic, people are people are people, there’s something noble about liberty, equality, fraternity, the resistors to change were pulling dirty tricks, sabotage and betrayal, “noble” and “honorable”, a calculated attack, a professional boxer challenging me to a fist-fight in the street, why dueling is banned, UFC, we should use our words (lawyers), Jesse went off, same sex relationships in 1796, can we not get passed this?, they freed every slave, a very honorable action, high morality, Alexandre Dumas’ father, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, Napoleon is a sketchy character, the Haitian Revolution, the Church’s stranglehold on France is gone, Quebec, the Quiet Revolution, Napoleon literally sold Louisiana out, Captain Blood, slavery in Barbados, many many pirates, given our success with Scaramouche … could a LibriVox narrator record Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk?

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini - Famous Authors Illustrated
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini - Famous Authors Illustrated

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

SFFaudio Online Audio

If you’re just a poor boy you’ll appreciate this monstrosity sized FREE audiobook from LibriVox. From the author of Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk comes part of the inspiration for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini!

If nothing else this audiobook will make you do the fandango! Check out the first line…

“He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”

LIBRIVOX - Scaramouche by Rafael SabatiniScaramouche
By Rafael Sabatini; Read by Gord Mackenzie
36 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 17 Hours 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: April 27, 2007
Scaramouche is a romantic adventure and tells the story of a young aristocrat during the French Revolution. His successive endeavors as a lawyer, politician, actor, lover, and buffoon lead his enemies to call him “Scaramouche,” but he impresses many with his elegant orations and precision swordsmanship.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/scaramouche-by-rafael-sabatini.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Incidentally, there’s a terrific 2005 BBC Radio 4 documentary on Bohemian Rhapsody available as a torrent on RadioArchive.cc:

I Will Not Let You Go: The Bohemian Rhapsody Story

And, here’s the trailer to the 1952 movie version of Scaramouche:

Posted by Jesse Willis

Five Free Favourites #3

SFFaudio Online Audio

Five Free Favourites
Five more faves, five more of my best bets. These are stories to make your mind say “yum yum” and your wallet say “nightie-night”…

1.
Mech Muse - After A Lean Winter by David FarlandAfter A Lean Winter
By David Farland; Read by Rick Jelinek
1 |M4A| File – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: MechMuse
Podcast: Spring 2006
I’m very pleased to see all the released MechMuse stories still available online. Of the dozen or so of stories released, I think this one is my favourite. It’s set six months or so after the events of H.G. Well’s The War Of The Worlds and features a protagonist named “Jack London,” who like the other residents of the Yukon, is still struggling against a Martian menace that still survives up there.

2.
The Time Traveler Show - Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. DickBeyond Lies The Wub
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Mac Kelly
1 |MP3| – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Time Traveler Show
Podcast: December 2006
The best Xmas gift I received in 2006 was this podcast short story! This was Dick’s first ever published tale, it’s one of his best too. And, I find holds up to multiple listenings. I recommend it often. Knowledge of Homer’s Odyssey is recommended.

3.
Librivox Audiobook - The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose FarmerThe Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Mark Douglas Nelson
10 Zipped MP3s or Podcast – 6 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 2006
Publisher: LibriVox.org
This FREE audiobook was created on a dare. As one of the titles from the first SFFaudio Challenge I asked budding narrators to make single-voiced audiobooks from a list of public domain titles. This was the very first to meet the challenge – it is also one of the best. Set on a grassy plain on an obscure alien planet – it’s fast, funny, and makes for quite a romp. A novel in the spirit of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

Subscribe using this feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/the-green-odyssey-by-philip-jose-farmer.xml

4.
Science Fiction Audiobook - Star Surgeon by Alan E. NourseStar Surgeon
By Alan E. Nourse; Read by Scott D. Farquhar
14 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – 5 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: October 2007
Dal Tigmar is an alien doctor with a sort of interstellar Médecins Sans Frontières. As a recent graduate of the Galaxy’s most prestigious medical school, on Earth, he’s been trained to treat every disease in the book. But racism isn’t a disease even he can treat. This is a real peppy 50 year old novel, that still crackles with energy. It plays out like a typical Heinleinian juvenile, minus the lectures. You’ll love it.

5.
X Minus 1X-Minus One: The Lifeboat Mutiny
Based on the story by Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: NBC Radio
Broadcast: September 11, 1956
Provider: Archive.org
I find a lot of X-Minus One hit or miss, but this Robert Sheckley story works. In fact, I’ve used the script for it twice just this month! Kids love it, adults love it. It’s funny, and it’s FREE! My only nit-pick is that the actor playing the lifeboat is not emotional enough – he totally underplays the scripted dialogue. When I do this part, I always play it highly emotional.

I’m still soliciting podcasters and bloggers for their lists, if you’ve a batch of five free faves you think just can’t be ignored, either post em below, or send me an email.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

FULL CAST AUDIO Audibook: Airborn by Kenneth OppelAirbornSFFaudio Essential
By Kenneth Oppel; Performed by a FULL CAST
10 CDs – 10.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1933322543
Themes: / Fantasy / Parallel World / Alternate History / Airships / Swashbuckling / Pirates /

…the pirate airship was already adjusting its course, keeping pace, and as it forced us closer to the waves, we would have less space to manoeuvre. There was a great flash from the pirate ship’s underbelly and a thunderous volley of cannon fire scorched the night sky across our bow.

A voice carried by bullhorn shuddered the air. “Put your nose to the wind and cut speed.”

The story of Airborn is told by 15 year old Matt Cruse, a lowly cabin boy on the a ziz-like commercial airship called the Aurora, primarily used as a passenger liner, the Aurora also carries industrial an commercial goods between continents. Matt was actually born in the air and dreams of becoming an officer one day, not only to further his career as an airman but also to better support his family back home. One day, while aloft and on watch, Matt spies a damaged hot air balloon drifting in the South Pacificus. Only Matt’s natural aptitude in the rigging can save the dying man carried in it. When Matt rescues him the feverish old man’s words are of an amazing, and highly improbable creature he’d spotted in the sky. A year or so later, young Kate de Vries, who was granddaughter to the hot-air balloonist, comes aboard the Aurora. Kate herself has dreams of following in her grandfather’s flightpath and becoming a famous naturalist. They might never have discovered her grandfather’s secret though, had it not been for sudden and vicious pirate raid lead by the legendary air-pirate Szpirglas (pronounced Spear-glass). After the attack and crash-landed on an uncharted island off the regular air-routes it is up to Matt to discover the secret of Kate’s grandfather, repair the damaged airship along with the crew and win the heart of Kate herself. If Matt can just pull it all together he might even live long enough to attend the Air Academy and become a officer.

This is a simple, almost classically structured, juvenile adventure story in the Heinleinian tradition. What is so different about this novel is that it isn’t set in a familiar setting – no spaceships and farm boys here, instead we have an alternate history/alternate universe tale, set on Earth, but an Earth which has place names subtly altered (The city of Vancouver is called Lionsgate City, the Pacific ocean is the Pacificus). Most importantly a flourishing airship economy has made the world of Airborn a cross between a benign steampunk world and pneumatic tube etherland of alternate science and technology. The successful airships industry is buoyed not by helium or hydrogen but instead by a mango scented and plentiful noncombustible gas: hydrium. Also in use are ornithopters, which are a fun but failed technology in our world, though they seem to serve well enough in Airborn, at least for short hops. The world’s extant empires are all subtly altered too, it appears that the expansive British Empire centered in “Angleterre, is tempered, perhaps by a more vigorous Germanic or French empire? North America itself is cut-up into “Kanada” and the “American Colonies”. The Aurora itself though is the primary setting of the novel. As a commercial passenger airship it is based out of Lionsgate City (Vancouver) and plies the airways of the Pacific to Sydney, Siberia and beyond.

There is a tremendous difference between a FULL CAST reading and a regular audiobook. A full cast audiobook, and by that I mean a FULL CAST AUDIO production, is as close to an audio drama as you can get without actually becoming a dramatization. Each character has his or her own actor, this along with descriptive text and punctuating music transmogrifies the unabridged words into vibrant mental images. I’d be willing to bet that if you were to hook-up a person listening to Airborn to a Functional Magnetic Resonating Imaging machine the FMRI would show tremendous activity in the visual cortex. There is a sequel, called Skybreaker in the release pipeline coming from Full Cast Audio, if it lives up to the standard set in writing and production it will be an SFFaudio Essential too.

Review of The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

LibriVox - The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose FarmerThe Green Odyssey
By Philip Jose Farmer; Read by Mark Nelson
10 MP3s or 10 OGG Vorbis files – 6 Hours 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 2006
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Themes: / Science Fiction / Space Opera / Planetary Romance / Swashbuckling / Pirates / Slaves / Planetary Ecology / Panspermia / Humor /

Alan Green is a space traveler stranded on a barbaric planet. He’s been taken as a slave and made a consort to an insipid and smelly queen. His slave-wife, though beautiful and smart, nags him constantly. He’s given up hope of ever returning to Earth when he hears of two astronauts who have been captured in a kingdom on the other side of the planet, and sets out on an action-packed journey on a ship sailing across vast grasslands on rolling pin-like wheels in a desperate scheme to save them and return home.

This audiobook was created on a dare. Back in November 2006 I challenged anyone to make an unabridged single-voiced audiobook from a list of titles of public domain Speculative Fiction novels that had not been previously released as audiobooks. This is the first audiobook to complete the aforementioned “SFFaudio challenge.” With its completion, the narrator, has won himself a copy of Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick as read by Tom Parker. Congratulations Mark! Now, on to the review proper…

The Green Odyssey roughly parallels the adventures of the original Odysseus, except that the Mediterranean sea here is instead a sea of grass on an endless plain on an obscure alien planet. Perhaps most original in this tale are the ships that sail that grass sea of this land-dominated planet. The idea of sails and roller ships to ply the prairie between cities is a neat one (something similar was used the Dragonlance AD&D module Dragons Of Ice by Douglas Niles). The lead character, Alan Green, is a Earthman who has been shipwrecked (or is that “spacewrecked”) on a planet inhabited by a branch of quasi-medieval Homo sapiens sapiens. If his alien origins were to be revealed they’d think him a demon. For two years already he’s been enslaved and humbled. The worst of it is his being forced into the bed of a lusty, but fickle, Duchess. Her merest whim would mean his death, so when Green hears of two strangers, like himself, who’ve come from the sky in a strange ship, his ears perk-up. Upon further investigation it seems the two “demons” are being held in a distant city. With a death sentence not too far in their futures, Green hatches a shrewd escape plan with a wily merchant. His only problem – his adopted family wants to go with!

This is a exuberant adventure. It reminds me of vintage Poul Anderson, in fact the whole novel is a kind of an inverse of Anderson’s excellent The High Crusade. Its also funny, in the same smile and smirk way, and lets not forget another of its vitures, The Green Odyssey is quick! I often think this, the classic short novel of the 1950s and 1960s, is the perfect length for SF. Moreover, Farmer has scripted lots of fun details for fans of both Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs – the colloquial language is also full realized and amusing. Now a word of caution, this is by no means a classic on the scale of To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Jose Farmer’s best know work. That said, it is absolutely and addictively listenable – I plowed straight through the 6 hour running time with nary a dry spell. Since it is FREE, thanks to the good efforts of Mark Nelson, I can unreservedly recommend it even to people who’d otherwise give it a miss.

Mark Nelson has a real narrators voice. He puts as much characterization into the various characters into this exposition heavy novel as is probably possible. Sound is good, loud enough and pretty clean of noise. Two minor problems, Mark pronounces a word wrong and there is one line repeated, I’d guess the latter got missed in the editing, the former is almost inevitable. I’ve heard professional productions far less “professionally” produced. I am looking forward to hearing a lot more public domain SF novels from Mark!

Editors note:
In a last minute email Mark has said that he does indeed expect to be reading more Science Fiction for LibriVox in the months ahead. He’d prefer titles that “haven’t been done commercially, just to increase the variety of audiobooks out there”. But here’s the problem he’s having; Mark is not super-familiar with the Science Fiction from the 50’s and 60’s. His reading thus far has tended to read much more recent. And so he asks that we come up with with some recommendations. Recommendations, in fact, from what he calls “the knowledgeable” – Hey! That’s you guys out there! So, which public domain Science Fiction novels from the 1950s and early 1960s would you like to hear Mark read?

Posted by Jesse Willis