The SFFaudio Podcast #555 – READALONG: Shadows In The Moonlight by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #555 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Terence Blake, Mark Finn, Alex talk about Shadows In The Moonlight aka Iron Shadows In The Moon by Robert E. Howard

Talked about on today’s show:
trademark, registered, copyright, Vale Of Lost Women, rattle Mark’s cage, red caped monkey, more construction, more constructed, barbarism vs. civilization, propagandizing this idea, the middling Conan, formula, Rogues In The House, the beginning of the greatest hits album, if he were Aerosmith this would be “Walk This Way”, touchstones, essential elements, the damsel in distress, bloody trail of vengeance, piracy, savage ape, supernatural menace, what do you want from a Conan story, a representative story, there’s wizardry, dream magic, this is what Conan is all about, this is what Conan does, if there was a snake, squirmed an burrowed like a snake, the comics, it starts similarly to Red Nails, the end of the beginning, fruit, giant monster, alone in the wilderness, why did you run out of this jade palace, the Garden of Eden, Queen Of The Black Coast, monkey monsters, a forbidden place, working through, this is what manly men act like, this is what a man is, where Olivia looks at the two jungle creatures, how they’re alike, Shah Amurath, barbarian in response, a Cimmerian vs. the Cimmerian, a response to what he and Lovecraft were arguing over, Howard thought Lovecraft was smarter than him, test those theories, page 30, was there a serpent in..?, PulpCovers doesn’t want to be PC, without judgement but with a pattern, unashamed of being a manly man, pirate costumes, carrying a gun around, chivalrous towards women, Lovecraft is a gentle-man (a gentlemen), what a man is, Terence territory, a pre-philosophy for manhood, the way men love Conan, doing ablutions, iron thews, a male and female gaze, ewww gross, powerful, Tweets Of High Adventure, tweet length prose, every sentence has the language, art, unashamed, its all pure, Vale Of Lost Women is “problematic”, a distilled essence, no casual Conan readers, in for penny in for a pound, this masculinity, did he have a choice in Texas in the 1920s?, acceptable work for a man, vocational training, taking a day job, begging letter, worst fucking human being ever, the boxing stories, bareknuckle boxing, intellectual conversation, never about particulars, newspaper stories to back up their thought processes, news clipping, the only way to run a city, the story in the boat, in the prose, we don’t sell our children, stories of Comanche, a warts and all presentation, ethnic cleansing, riding with the Cherokee, a mindset, an ideal, there are no rules right now, Gertrude Hemken loved Conan, studying philosophy, Nietzsche, John Milius and Oliver Stone, Conan The Barbarian (1982), a through line, sitting in the agora listening to the philosophers, life is an illusion then I’m an illusion too, Solomon Kane is the religious philosopher, scenes of melancholy, a debate on masculinity, a constructed virtue, the body or the mind, the idea of the wild and nature, Lovecraft’s wild, you’ve got the wild inside you, human beings , women are shapely, every muscle is supple, pantherish, his scabbard purrs, it comes from silk, a relationship between what shah Amurath vs. the ape vs. Conan, toxic masculinity, I’m a barbarian buy I’m not a monster, a king of Akif, Turanians vs. Hyrkanians, Hyrkanians are a race and Turanians are a nationality, the Persian Gulf vs. the Caspian Sea vs. the Black Sea, maps of Hyboria, Vedyha is India, Khitai is China, the islands of Mu, filling in the historical record, a starting place, walk these things back into the Hyborian age, analogs, she’s a devi not a rani, he needs a Mediterranean, adventure locations, a pirate this week, the Kozaki are the Cossacks, the Mongols, Red Sonja vs Red Sonya, her sister’s a real person, her father’s a real person, Haws Of Outremer by Robert E. Howard, Mark wrote the afterword, the Punisher in armor, the Cormac Fitzgeoffrey stories, the same emotional space, riding out on the steppes, Oriental and Middle Eastern adventures, Flesh + Blood (1985), Rutger Hauer and Jenifer Jason Leigh, the Dark Horse Comics adaptation, the art, Olivia doing the narration doesn’t make sense, 2 and half days, the confrontation in the reeds is one of Howard’s best scenes, you really hate that guy, when he’s getting chopped to bits, Olivia has two dreams, when Conan’s rowing and the other in the ruined temple, a prologue, what her dream is, the negroes who aren’t negroes, not-kushites, black and made of iron, what does it mean?, expressing their otherworldliness, black statutes but not statues of black people, an artificially baroque language, some sort of race thing, the golden youth, possibly raped, the sky reflected in the water, both a sea and a lake, one third the salinity of the rest of the oceans, flying through the sky, she’s describing it to Conan, she’s supposed to be telling Conan’s story, we shouldn’t be inside her head and not past tense, he can’t hold down a job, pillage a few towns over, holding out for a management position, wear sandals to tread the jeweled thrones, the blue of the sea, mirrors of stars, a phantasmal oarsmen, a quiet slumber, his iron thews, that female gaze, shying away from Robert E. Howard, annoyed by the mire, unmanned by bugs, how far a man can throw a stone, showing off his thews, testing his theory, she’s traumatized, a princess laid low to the status of a slave, a couple (at the end), not telling fairy stories, men and women equally tough in a fight, Ronda Rousey, women are subject to male violence, a romance (an adventure) out of horrible circumstance, we’re not used to today, Yemen right now, 70-80 year old text, a historical basis for women adventurers, easy to gravitate to, Joan of Arc, the women pirates, women doing what men do, he’s not pulling this stuff out of his butt, Howard’s historical stories, Conan was a commercial endeavor, pulp era titillation, why Margaret Brundage did those covers, Seabury Quinn, when he comes back, the women have changed positions, evil queens, swordswomen, a shift in agency, in the Dark Horse adaptation, in the actual story it’s all her, saving him in order to save himself, Valeria is competition for Conan, Red Sonja’s character is mostly that, equally wily, Olivia is just a regular person, crawling into that den of pirates, how tortured they have been, the male version of Olivia, Conan knows everybody, Sergius, a boss fight, the TV tropes for this story, three point landing, divine right of kings, Conan the rules lawyer, Tim Truman’s Dark Horse comics adaptation, a defense of the switch to Olivia’s POV, the thing that Conan did, the guy in the story that everybody’s heard about, getting into it, Conan’s perspective, the disembowelment, seeing that same scene again from that POV, the Roy Thomas adaptation is not to add any words, Roy Thomas is amazing when he captures Howard’s prose, the new Marvel travesty (Conan The Barbarian and Savage Sword Of Conan) “ass” is used twice in July 2019 issue, cur, dog, slut, special language, Island of the Temple Statues, why that change, it changes the dynamic, hard not cruel, quartering, “quarter? I’ll give you quarter!”, Olivia’s really active, this formula, beautiful babe in distress, check off those boxes, you can take my stories or leave them, playing it up, why the text feels so weird, three set pieces, don’t forget the giant ape, strung like beads on a string, Conan on a weekend, they should hire the person who runs Conan The Salaryman, how it resonates with Paul, flipping your desk, Thor: The Dark World (2013), adjectives attitude and viewpoint on the world, Frank Miller’s Sin City, Conan in a noir story, just a crazy guy (with a code), code vs. philosophy, a personal moral compass, allowing for an exception, Conan is his own arbiter, there’s always an angle to be played, we can take Conan at his word but nobody else can, Olivia over his shoulder and he’s running away, high heels vs. mountain cat, the only thing that can unman me is mosquitoes, a supple ass, those outside, too nice a guy, Gertrude Barrows Bennett, faces and asses?, girls like prepping, men like to be thought of as competent, how to be, how to be a man, the right attitude, its more like…, why does Howard never take us to Cimmeria?, the whole point is to see a man out of his element and see how he should act, those roving feet, something powerful about that idea, how to be a man, “what’s real, man?”, it’s good to have skills, the prose is gorgeous, the unnamed monkey, we need to talk about the parrot, bad biology, if this is near the tropics, New World parrots are colourful, a thousand year old parrot, Jesse wasted his time, the parrot as the harbinger, the chorus, we got the idea, if Howard had seen a parrot, Da Vinci’s Demons, the communist memes, some Nazi left over from WWII is giving a speech, justifications for tweets, macaw, why he put it in this fantasy world, research is hard, fantasy world, letters to Harold Lamb in ADVENTURE, it’s so good, a fruit they’ve never seen before, there’s a dinosaur in it, getting snakes wrong, a failure of the work, a fringe moment, the new Age Of Conan Belit comic is shit, a ship at full sail in a storm hidden in a harbour with gunports, Baggywrinkles by Lucy Bellwood, a sailor’s story should be written and drawn by people familiar with ships, Lovecraft defends him as a poet, his poetry is beautiful, 700 poems!, the complete poetry of Robert E. Howard, Cimmeria, some great lesbian stuff, the alliteration and rhythm, the lull of the rowing, he was fantastic at it, how he did it, looking at meters and couplets, Howard intuited, his prose has that richness, scenes of horrible violence, kings dying from poison, beauty in the savagery, why nobody has been able to write a convincing Conan story, the vocabulary and the rhythm, Howard was able to write Lovecraft stories, a different disposition, The Black Stone, The Challenge From Beyond, Queen Of The Black Coast, the language is the main character, the checkpoints could be seen as mechanical, a complex story, an inspiration to early Dungeons & Dragons, mixing and matching, skill checks, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, not enough angry monkeys, Giant Ape, kobolds, why does he like monkeys so much, is Howard wrestling with Darwin, Thak, Moon Of Zimbabwe, he doesn’t like to come out of the forest, gorillas, base emotions, Howard’s stance on mankind, cycles of history, that backslide into savagery and barbarism, Thak wants to be a man, a ladder you can climb, Gulka the Gorilla Slayer, gorilla as a stand in for the lecherous intentions of people of colour, to refute Darwin and prop up racism, that wonderful willful disconnect to justify a bad belief system, using the stories of the bible and the trappings as a weight of authenticity, The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, from the monkey’s POV, the sailor who brought him to France, dragon, flying monkeys in Queen Of The Black Coast, a thing in culture at the time, King Kong, The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith, the Hippocampus Press documentary: Clark Ashton Smith: Emperor Of Dreams, Dagon, a per-Atlantean civilization, babies sacrificed to a gorilla god, an Atlantean dream story, monkeys are in the air man, The Wizard Of Oz, a phenomenon, everybody got gorillas on the brain, gorilla suits, a course correction after the 1970s, Planet Of The Apes, Sailor Steve Costigan stories, an animal reflection, using natural terms, why Solomon Kane is always a wolf, El Borak is fast and deadly, hawk noses, vulpine eyes, connecting to a larger natural world, sacrificing something superior to them, the psychological basis for bullfighting, suppleness vs. strength, he wins with dexterity as much with strength, he’s upped his wisdom, his constitution, he can lie in a snowbank, the Tibetan monks, the yoga of inner heat, pro-nature, Conan is a part of nature, Lovecraft as a nature as a scary other, nature with gambrel roofs nearby, how much was Howard out in boats, a rural existence, hiking and camping, New Mexico, Carlsbad Caverns, Galveston, Texas, how he writes about stuff, the Walden variety of gentlemen on holiday, longhand letters, the things some writers will do not to finish a story, going back to it vs. being out of it, getting past miscegenation, deep ones, Cthulhu, shapeless formless, slithering shadow, in Howard’s world, the last of their kind, the end of the age of megafauna and megaflora, he’s still working on his monkey ideas, fringe science, discredited anthropological stuff, one of the greatest magazines ever printed, a whole series about the Kozaki, a fight with Yildiz, making whole connections by people who can capture the voice, The Scarlet Citadel, this guy’s lived a life, I’m gonna git Conan, we can fill in that stuff for ourselves, the best thing about Conan, he’s the least asshole asshole in the room, why he’s in a bad mood, I already told him I wasn’t going to do it, Black Gate blog, Hither Came Conan, The God In The Bowl, the one with the snake god, barbarism vs. civilization, the reason why you have them in so many of the stories, Farnsworth Wright, in the first 11 Conan stories, issue 21 of the Dark Horse series, the reason Olivia was sold, the Queen of Ophir, undercutting the idea, ABlaze‘s Conan series, Jesse will fight that monkey god, Terence doesn’t hang out in the French comic book stores, more spare more simple, a feminist ending, I want to sail the seas with you, I will bring you with me, Conan, “I will make you the king of this inland sea, Conan”, it ends with the parrot, scorch king Yildiz’ pantaloons, John Bolton anti-Iranian propaganda, People Of The Black Circle, the Persians as the bad guys in western history, Howard’s sympathies, “Oriental Adventures”, the El Borak stories, throwing the Brit under the bus, every man has the capacity to be a shithead, shithead or victim, the compass needle, the course correction, melded with a dark god from an ancient tomb, Conan as the antidote for too much corruption, where the politics comes in, Conan The Cimmerian, Tomas Giorello, you gotten soften, unexpectedly cheerful, if this was happening in the 1990s, the Del Rey Conans, disengage the De Camp and Lin Carter, pop-culture Conan fighting pop culture Wolverine, Savage Avengers, the onramp, CHiPs , you’re sullying the legacy, deeply understanding and respecting the prose, how the fuck can they get away with this?, an editorial failure, she has the voice in her head, that it’s funny, we need thews and no ass, the recipe, Red Sonja with Roy Thomas and Esteban Maroto, it will get cancelled, By Crom, Shel Kahn’s Conan Is My Spirit Animal, attributed to Genghis Kahn, what is best in life, coffee, women lamenting, pulp magazine philosopher, Philip K. Dick as a paperback philosophy, what these weird guys spread across the United States, everybody should be lucky enough to have access.

Boris Vallejo cover for Iron Shadows In The Moon

Mark Schultz illustration for Iron Shadows In The Moon by Robert E. Howard

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #197 – The Pimienta Pancakes by O. Henry

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #197

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Pimienta Pancakes by O. Henry

The Pimienta Pancakes was first published in McClure’s, December 1903.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #387 – READALONG: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #387 – Jesse, Paul, and Julie Davis talk about Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein.

Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding Science Fiction, February, March, April 1956, Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, making connections, good job, 100% first person, mistaken shallow perception -> deeper understanding, The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain, The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope, the LibriVox audiobook levelated and made beautiful, humour, light, twitter conversation “bland” vs. “light”, bubbles along, swashbuckler, Heinlein is that you?, this is a book about politics, here are all the political systems, making fun of Heinlein is very easy, bullheaded, popular quotes, one character sitting in a room and another character walks in and says “no”, refusing, listen to me young man I am the old man and I know best, Heinlein’s negotiation tactic is brinkmanship, it’s not your turn, more about politics and racism and perception (than SF), I think my father would be proud that my life is a work of art, from Lorenzo Smythe’s POV, a failed actor, not a loser, penniless, working as a stripper, the illustrations from the serialization, this is not in the book, non-info-dump info-dumps, Coriolis vs. Coriolanus, narrator Lloyd James, in the voice of Bonforte, a better person or politician than Bonforte, remember Bill, a bunch of people talking on a spaceship, not a juvenile, Hitler, Satan, assuming the attributes of divinity, a politically astute novel, Heinlein’s earlier jobs, owning a silver mine, running for political office, being in the room, libertarian, California state assembly 1948, no prizes for second place in politics, an British parliamentary system, William King Of The Dutch and Emperor of The Earth, Queen Elizabeth II (former Empress), head of state vs. head of government, when you go to visit Lincoln, Lincoln is a God in the temple, larger than life, a Greek temple, The Simpsons, political corruption, the Jefferson memorial, you went to Lincoln first!, understanding why the book is resonant, the emperor of Known Space likes playing with trains, meeting the Queen, no statue for John Major, 100 units in pocket, politics as a team sport vs. saviors, taking care of the day-to-day crap, Primary Colors (1998), John Hightower, I take that on so you can get something done, taking on the mantle of the President, there’s no special charm to Prime Ministers (usually), confidence votes, the show must go on, “always take sides”, the “poltroons”, a second look, the title, human = martian, equality for all, doubling, Lorenzo Smythe = Lawrence Smith, an instinctual hate of the aliens, squiggly arms, hating aliens is racism, the aliens are just Texans, the life wand, induction into the Martian clan, introduction at William’s court, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin’s lecture on Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, the TV Tropes entry on Double Star, orange morality and blue morality, wise man and straw man, showing up late, a cycle humans keep falling into, a 1970 Double Star cover, a modern art prize (2000 Turner Prize) controversy, Stuckists and Sad Puppies, scale matters (?), Marcel Duchamp, “artist”, Fountain, ponies?, movements for and against, Paul’s biased POV, taking umbrage, Rabid Puppies, SF is overrun with leftists (?), “no award”, like every awards thing, TOR Books, inclusionary authors, Larry Correia’s books, U.S. elections, trying to destroy the system, SJW = social justice warrior, what’s fundamentally interesting about Double Star is that we’re in on a massive fraud to subvert democracy, Humans First, for Jefferson’s sake, takes the facts the same story from the other side: a response book, I don’t want people walking around with open carry for their “life wands”, no guns allowed signs in Texas churches, The Good Wife, the Hillary Clinton – Bill Clinton story, telling lies in public, seeing politics from up close and personal, The West Wing, Dave (1993), a little humour there, “sick”, the wife, a little bit inverted, interesting parallels, taking the role and making it better, he’s better at Bonforte than Bonforte was, to be an actor you have to be every man, I’d like Jack the Ripper, an unreliable narrator, the theatrical way he describes himself, he thinks it’s all true, hyperbolized in some ways, acting with a burst appendix, biology can be conquered by will, ripping off the novel/plot, Moon Over Parador (1988), The Magnificent Fraud (1939), we are rooting for the hero, who is ripping off who?, it depends on what you do with it, To Be Or Not To Be (1942), To Be Or Not To Be (1983), the new Ben Hur, going by Hugos or awards or contests, Connie Willis, the Oscars, Guardians Of The Galaxy, two CG characters and it doesn’t suck?, being burned by award winners, Theeb, a disillusioning moment, boycotting and protesting, N. K. Jemisin, a Heinlein letter, race relations, the lucky ones were the ones that were enslaved, the inciting incident, Heinlein was the most liberal of SF writers, more left than Wells, a Missouri dude who was always into pushing fellow humans, “huh, he’s Filipino”, “he’s not even American!”, Heinlein’s always pushing talking heads that turn out to be diverse, Farnham’s Freehold, time travel, Blacks have taken over the world, castrating the son, cannibals, a less PC version of Planet Of The Apes, the Pierre Boulle book is a comedy (satire), Pierre Boulle, the ending of the Planet Of The Apes is a comedy, sexism, Charlton Heston in the Civil Rights movement, for both martians and men, making peace amongst all, here’s my problem, get in the system, The Fifth Season, where’s the idea?, where’s the idea?, Cory Doctorow does Heinlein in Little Brother, paint by numbers, Robert J. Sawyer, that shows the diversity you find in Toronto, the magic system is based on the manipulation of earth (geological) forces, it’s anti-racist, it’s important to be seeing doing it, more Bonforte than Bonforte, more Heinlein than Heinlein, the one female character, Heinlein doesn’t understand women, criticizing Dickens, he’s terrible at writing other humans, his villains are stick-figures, the old man, the young looking older woman, and the young narrator who has to be taught, transcending limitations, he’s bad at women who aren’t from the 1940s, violence towards women was an everyday thing, assault with violence, not that I laid a finger on her, proper and sensible hitting, the way people talked back then, from the wife-beating 1950s, acting like this guy, no no no no no, totally unrealistic, a six hour book, SFFworld.com, Double Star was written in three weeks, creep in.

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #299 – READALONG: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #299 – Jesse and Julie Davis talk about Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Talked about on today’s show:
North ANGER! Abbey, this is a comedy, parody and meta-gothic novel, The Mysteries Of Udolpho, an inversion, Jane Austen is hilarious, The Jane Austen Book Club (the movie), documentaries, “its very meta”, her first (and almost) last novel, the advertizement from the authoress, fashions of literature and clothing, Tilney and Thorpe, the price of everything, a braggart, going afoul, a terrible sketch,
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz, don’t just believe what everybody teaches you, desperate characters, Pride And Prejudice, letting you think, going along, women are supposed to be passive, a woman’s only right is to refuse, railroaded by stronger personalities, “…born to be an heroine”, a mundane life, Catherine is living her life in the third person as a Gothic romance heroine, 1,000 alarming presentiments, romance subverted, The Mysteries Of Udolpho as a less realistic and hyped up version of Northanger Abbey, the labyrinth is society not Mrs. Radcliffe’s Apennines, Emma, Mrs. Allen, it’s just not done, Isabelle’s master list of Gothic Novels, “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for someone who isn’t my friend”, an open conversation, “I wish we knew someone here”, she’s 15, true to human nature, the arch narrator, hands and heads in the proper number to go around for all the children, Frederick, I’ve broken with my father, just like in a Gothic novel, the (BBC) audio drama of The Mysteries Of Udolpho, “you should really try Ursula K. Le Guin”, absolutely horrid!, the black wardrobe!, a character sketch (illustrated below), “She seized, with an unsteady hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations…”, a washing bill!, Eleanor, everything is explained, the volumes, a rushed ending?, the mysterious messenger, Henry’s true character, reining in your own imagination, Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, he’s spooking himself, the description of the birds, the slaves, New York, giving facts and making comments, we are doing a lot of the colouring, the one thing we know about readers is that they read, the reading process, the black veil <-is from The Mysteries Of Udolpho, The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a very funny (as in curious) story, Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole, supernatural elements, the refinements, the timelessness, Phyllis Whitney, Mrs. Radcliffe, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, what went wrong?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, The Devil To Pay, Sir Walter Scott, H.P. Lovecraft, Georgette Heyer, Northanger Abbey as a modern novel by Val McDermid, a YA novel, Fahrenheit 451, serving as a feeder, everybody is reading these trashy novels, an impassioned defense of the novel, you can’t live your life as if it was a novel, two movie adaptions, the 2007 ITV production, plot shorthand, Lord Byron, something terrible coming out of London, two tombstones and a lantern on the frontispiece, all of Jane Austen’s books have soldiers in them, a timeless focus on the people, when Julie met Jenny, these are characters not plots, sitting at the piano, The Many Lovers of Jane Austen, a Texas convention, with Klingons and Kirks, WWI, cigarettes and something to read, Mansfield Park, Mrs. Allen but with an edge, Juliet Stevenson as a narrator, 170 books read (in 2014), reading speed, a stumbling savourer, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, solitary reading vs. group reading, trains boost reading, “drawing room reading like singing, piano playing, and card”, scandalous reading, reading out loud, David Timson’s Dickens narrations, dramatic readings, Dickens invented the audiobook, Charles Dickens And The Great Theatre Of The World by Simon Callow, Elizabeth Klett’s reading of Carmilla, oh my!,

I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

“Who? What? Your love? Well, that’s super”, he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters,

“…and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution.”

surrounded by children, they all have to tucked in, they’re genteel, it was wet that day, a good introduction to Jane Austen.

Northanger Abbey - Marvel Comics Adaptation

Catherine Morland - Character Sketches (1892)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

SFFaudio Review

Clean Sweep by Ilona AndrewsClean Sweep
By Ilona Andrews; Narrated by Renee Raudman
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / Texas / magic / bed and breakfast / werewolves / vampires /

Publisher summary:

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast.

But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….

Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Clean Sweep is an urban fantasy-type book with some interesting twists. Unfortunately, the narrator of the audiobook had a voice that didn’t fit the character and was so out of place that it made the book very difficult to listen to.

Dina is an innkeeper, a woman who runs a B&B in Texas. Her inn has magical properties and she has magical capabilities, her role being that of a neutral protector in a version of Earth/USA that includes normal humans but also has vampires, werewolves, and other magical beasts. The main thrust of the story is that Dina’s inn becomes the site for a showdown between two sides in a big family disagreement, though the book was more than halfway through before any of this became evident. The first half (or slightly more) of the book was world building and character introduction more than it was purely essential to the plot.

In Clean Sweep, Ilona Andrews has some interesting ideas about magic. I think I might be persuaded to read another book set in this world/series, assuming it was quicker to get to the point/didn’t do as much world-building, and assuming that I read it, not listened to it (or that the narrator was someone else). In Ms. Andrews’ world, the magical entities are by and large aliens from other worlds who find themselves on earth for a variety of reasons. What appears to be magic to “normal” people is actually uber nanotechnology or other futuristic technologies at work from alien worlds. There are many aggressive entities, such as the werewolves and vampires, but there are also places like the Inns, the Switzerland’s of the magical world. Innkeepers are to take no sides and to protect whoever signs the contract and pays to be a guest at the inn.

All of this goes awry when some creatures known as stalkers start killing dogs in the town where Dina’s inn is. At first, she believes that a local werewolf named Sean is to blame, but after killing two (with the help of Sean) and studying them, she comes to find out that these creatures may have been hired by vampires as part of a massive (and deadly) family feud. The world-building is mainly done by Dina explaining how the “magic” came to be to Sean, who knows nothing of the history of his species’ home planet or how his species came to earth. Through these explanations and through Dina’s preparations to help protect the vampires who are staying at the inn, the reader learns about other worlds, wormholes, and the true source of “magic.”

The book also has a side plot that was touched briefly upon, a story of Dina’s parents’ inn vanishing one day. Dina does a bit through the course of the narrative to try to find them, but it seems fairly obvious that it’s a side thread to be explored in later books/as a series arc. While most of the book is purely urban fantasy, there are also some hot and steamy scenes that are typically found in romance novels. Many urban fantasy books these days seem to have these scenes, whether they add to the story or not (in this case, not). There is also a possible threat, the local police officer thinking Dina is up to no good, but that thread is unceremoniously dropped just before the main thread of the story picks up, about halfway through. It’s not clear if this topic will be revisited in later books or if it was just an editing miss.

Clean Sweep is a fairly typical, action-packed urban fantasy story. There aren’t any deeper themes or morals to be had from it, though the idea of magic as uber technology is kind of fun. The book, once the actual plot started, was pretty quick to go through and fairly simple/straight-forward. This isn’t a book that’s going to make you think, or require lots of focused reading time to enjoy.

The only major negative is with the audiobook specifically. Dina is supposed to be a 23 year old woman living in Texas. Unfortunately, she sounds like an old grandmother from the deep south. The voice and the description of the character just don’t align. The narrator’s voices for the men were surprisingly good, but her overall voice just sounded old and tired. In parts where there was a lot of action, she actually sounded even worse, over dramatizing her voice acting. I actually thought she was going to die a few times. It was downright uncomfortable and annoying to listen to, and I cannot recommend the audiobook. If another book in this series is released, I may give it a go in print/Kindle, but won’t be listening again unless the narrator changes.

Posted by terpkristin.

Review of High Midnight

SFFaudio Review

High Midnight by Rob MoscaHigh Midnight
By Rob Mosca; Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks
Publication Date: June 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours, 3 minutes

Themes: / horror / drunk monkeys / psychotic clowns / zombies / Texas /

Publisher summary:

Welcome to Unity, Texas. Population: Bizarre. The only thing protecting the residents of Unity from a stream of nightmares is Laredo Beaumont, the town’s hard-drinking, ass-kicking sheriff, and Cicero, his knife-wielding chimpanzee deputy. It’s a thankless job that leaves Laredo drained and nearly broken. The only solace he can find is in the arms of his beloved Sally Mae, a ghostly soiled dove from a phantom bordello where only the most daring of men would think to step foot.

We’ve all heard that old saying about book cover judgments. Perhaps now it’s time we block out blurb-based reckonings. Rob Mosca’s High Midnight is bursting with criminally psychotic clowns, zombies with a twist, spectral prostitutes, and strange creatures. But it’s also a prime example of good, at times strong writing.

I’m uncertain into which genre High Midnight ought slide. More than likely, it’s a sub-subgenre. Something like Gritty Redneck Bizarro. In the beginning, the weird hyperbolic writing style and content is intriguing. When combined with crisp and skilled writing, you feel anxious and excited. Like a passenger on a hijacked locomotive, you feel your heart speed up to mirror the rushing landscape and you begin wondering where you’re going, and what will happen when you get there. But as the story progresses, we climax, reaching a point at which we can go no faster, further, or weirder, and everything beyond becomes a repetitive flatlining disappointment due to the lack of contrast.

I liked how Mosca would introduce a character, and then immediately leap back in time to show a slivered piece of the character’s history. This allows for a streamlining of exposition without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. But this approach comes with a price. The story’s momentum becomes the engine, the driving force behind the storytelling. When this occurs, character submits to situation, preventing reader from forging strong bonds with character. Before we know it, and no matter how good the writing, the story is the situation acting upon character, rather than the characters reacting to situation. The result is uninteresting characters. And it’s difficult to create tension when I don’t give a damn if someone lives, dies, laughs, or cries. Situation will always grab our attention, but it is forever characters that maintain it.

High Midnight gets high marks for the audiobook. Bernard Setaro Clark is a name to remember. Clark narrates the audiobook, and captures the story’s voice. Whether it’s a clown’s ghastly giggle, drawling redneck sheriff, or explicit ghostly fornication, Clark delivers a tremendous reading. If you’re going to give this a read, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook.

Posted by Casey Hampton.