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.

The SFFaudio Podcast #272 – READALONG: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #272 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Julie Davis talk about The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters.

Talked about on today’s show:
2012, Amazon Vine, Android Karenina, Sense And Sensibility And Sea-Monsters, Quirk Books, nurturing writers, rage, apocalyptic stories, mysteries, The End Is Nigh, BRING HER TO ME, not-technically the end of the world, wretched stragglers, going bucket-list, Tam questions, “witty questions”, would you do a podcast if you knew the world was ending next year?, more classics, cozies, get your mind on someone else’s destruction, depressing things make Jesse feel good, “a jar for urine”, Jenny would forget reading, Tam would do “something involving women”, an existential novel, the mystery is secondary to the world building, planting potatoes, four or five months, brutish and horrible and short, the belt, the hoarding, money or love or jealousy or power, real random or artificial random, red herrings, Agatha Christie, the sister, hope, she networks well, the spotty cellphone service, the literary allusions, the romantic plot arc, a lot of ore to be mined, Detective Culverson, the mother and the father, the secondary characters, the coffee shop guy, the existential stuff, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, at the dentist, it’s all going to end, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, Peter Berkrot is a great narrator, “Hen” is brooding, Palace like Pallas, upon the bust of Pallas, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, nevermore, the reverential use of “freeze motherfucker”, it’s about existence, Salvador Dalí, finding reasons for existence, suicide, doing the thing that must be done, a little case of doubling, “I finally get to do what I wanted”, a noble element, the shooting, and then there’s the dog (a bichon frise), a very well put together book, doing the romance, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Distant Pale Glimmers, a Marvel vs. DC movie, Firefly, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, Batman, emancipation or execution, the guns anomaly (AK-47), the trilogy, the second book, Concord, New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”, Texas, “live free, then die”, first person present tense, “that noir style”, treasuring the moments, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, Christmas, the message, where’s the seed bank on the Moon?, “think of your life as a story”, the key “Truth”, the most important thing ever, TV news is telling shitty stories, 2011 Norway Attacks, “psycho” vs. “psychotic“, “you’re not the main character”, the villain of the piece, “it would be noble, except…”, an intensification of everyday life, the rebuilding, societal change, a “novel” idea, World War Z by Max Brooks, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, the Edgar Award, the snow, the animals, “maybe the science is off”, denying reality, seeing it with a telescope, denial doesn’t help you, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter, coming to grips with mortality, assisted living movie group, alternative medicine and false hope, “a natural reaction”, quit your job and go crazy, spend time with your friends, who cares about podcasting?, “the secret to podcasting is that it’s an excuse to spend time with your friends”, podcast is a great medium, unlike The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy, “that’s not what the podcast is”, religious books, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, The Inklings, the formatting is facilitating, proper flow, “super-consumable”, re-readers, “this makes you think about what’s important in your life”, “a thought provoking book”, The Source, Hank’s purpose, ‘locked town mystery’, the process, empathy, a grubby little murder, caring, the insurance office, Hank Palace cares about all these stories, a Star Trek reference, The Inner Light, Picard learns to play the flute,

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Watchmen

Posted by Jesse Willis

Think: The Lives Of Jack London (an interview with biographer James L. Haley)

SFFaudio Online Audio

Think with Krys BoydThink, a “topic-driven interview and call-in program hosted by Krys Boyd” from KERA (in Texas), covers many topics. But back on July 22, 2010 it broadcast an episode entitled The Lives Of Jack London. Here’s the official description:

He prospected for gold, hunted seals and wrote some of the most popular adventure novels of the early 20th Century. But what was Jack London really like? We’ll talk this hour with biographer, historian and novelist James L. Haley whose new book is “Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London” (Basic Books, 2010).

|MP3|

In many ways this is a surprising interview – well worth hearing. There are a few facts I’d never heard before and a few fascinating interpretations. The strangest part, at least for me though, were about London’s socialism and the lengths Hayley goes to apologize for it.

Very good news, by the way, the audiobook of Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London is available from Blackstone Audio and it’s read by Bronson Pinchot!

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Mountain Man by Robert E. Howard

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Robert E. Howard’s Breckinridge Elkins stories are humorous tall tales about a mighty naive but mighty muscled country boy. This one, the very first, starts off a little like Winnie The Pooh, but fear not, all Howard’s usual themes are in there. There’s a bit of a difference though, even though you’ve got a barbaric he-man battling civilized folk the story differs from a CONAN tale in that it’s set in the then contemporary world (1934) and also because it’s told in first person by an unreliable narrator.

The audiobook’s narrator, RK Wilcox, on the other hand, is a very reliable narrator, as you’ll hear in this solid reading of Mountain Man.

Mountain Man by Robert E. Howard

LibriVoxMountain Man
By Robert E. Howard; Read by RK Wilcox
1 |MP3| – Approx. 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 25, 2008
|ETEXT|
Introducing the famous Breckinridge Elkins of Hardrock County, suh-the first and foremost What-a-Man of 1934! He was raised on b’ar meat and panther milk – and strong men hunt a hideout when it’s his night to howl! First published in Action Stories, March-April 1934.

Here’s a |PDF| from the original publication in Action Stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #146 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG – Eight O’Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #146 – Eight O’Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson, read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it with Jesse, Gregg Margarite and Ray Nelson himself!

Talked about on today’s show:
This story was suggested by a listener [thanks], Eight O’Clock In The Morning, a terse procedural aspect of the text, Ray is a fan of bare bones writing, alien forks and knives, inspired by flies, a new adaptation of Eight O’Clock In The Morning (on IMDB), John Carpenter’s They Live, occupy wall street, the 1% aren’t just mean, one of the best short story adaptations, Nada = nothing, a traitless character, a modern fable, The Twilight Zone, sowing a distrust of television, “Work Eight Hours, Play Eight Hours, Sleep Eight Hours”, Ray co-wrote The Ganymede Takeover with Philip K. Dick, Gregg likes it, The Ganymede Takeover has been translated 15 times, Ray and Phil are a hit in France, Edgar Allan Poe owes his classical status to Baudelaire, the short story form itself, Again, Dangerous Visions, Hillside School in Berkley, CA, Ray went to school with Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin, France, 1950s, Harlan Ellison, Jean Paul Sarte, book smuggling, Henry Miller, Ray gave Phil acid twice, Philip K. Dick’s acid trips (and flashbacks), answers vs. questions, public and private realities, Ray loves radio theatre, the new audio drama, Tim Heffernan, The Drama Pod, The Cosmic Circle on KPFA, live broadcast, live TV, Saturday Night Live, Your Show Of Shows, Mel Brooks, Woody Allan, Larry Gelbart, the last unsafe TV show was Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, anthology series, The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror, Carleton E. Morris, radio drama in Canada, Carleton E. Morris, Prairie Home Companion, appointment radio, X Minus One, Dimension X, Escape, Suspense, I Love A Mystery, BrokenSea’s OTR Swag Cast, The Temple Of The Vampires, Bill Hollweg, The Quantum Door, Gregg gets to be Rod Serling, Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter, Egypt, Texas, Robert E. Howard, H.P. Lovecraft, paperbook publishing is tough, we want ebook and audiobook editions of , iambik.com, $0.30, William Blake, Laser Books, pseudonyms, RayNelson.com, cartoonism, American Window Cleaner Magazine, “Inflate my girl James … the Viagra is kicking in.”, the propeller beanie, Flying Down To Rio, the 1939 Worlds Fair, The World Of Tomorrow, Elektro the smoking robot, Treasure Island, Hitler’s swastika farm at the world’s fair, The Old Beatnik, Herb Caen, how the beatniks got their name, Jack Kerouac, a synchronistic view of the universe, theology, the University Of Chicago, my Edgar Allan Poe drawing, why don’t people draw more often?, every little kid knows how to draw, essay writing, the death of newspapers, the smell of a used bookstore, How To Fuck Like The Stars aka How To Do It, drawing, writing and smuggling pornography, the Wikipedia entry on Ray Nelson, “Push where it gives”, singing black spirituals in a cowboy suit in Paris, Ray “Tex” Nelson aka Tex The Singing Cowboy, Jeffrey Lord’s Richard Blade, Harlequin Books, Slave Of Sarma by Jeffrey Lord (read by Lloyd James), California Ray, Allen Ginsberg, “I wrote verse. I wrote verse and verse as I went along.”, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Howl, the San Fransisco Renaissance, Sex Happy Hippie, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Marion Zimmer Bradley, I, Lesbian by Lee Chapman (aka Ray Nelson and Marion Zimmer Bradley), copyright, fanzines, the smell of a mimeograph machine, Ray Bradbury, Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Weird Tales, H.P. Lovecraft is more like a blogger than a 1950s writer, Farnsworth Wright, Astounding Stories, Pickman’s Model by H.P. Lovecraft, extraterrestrial monsters, cosmic horror, L. Sprague de Camp, H.P. Lovecraft in a dress, flipped his lid, the Fascinators are fascinating, the adaptation of They Live, Frank Armitage, scripting They Live, the sunglasses, the venetian blind glasses, Blade Runner, Total Recall, John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Thing From Another Planet, John W. Campbell, John Carpenter’s music, Roddy Piper doesn’t look like an everyman, the five minute fight scene works great!, Keith David, Seeing Ear Theatre, Tales From The Crypt |READ OUR REVIEW|, Eight O’Clock In The Morning is a kind of Lovecraftian tale, The Lurking Fear, “anything includes everything.”

Eight O'Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson

They Live - based upon The Story Eight O'Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson

Got A Light Buddy?
The Children

They Live - Indian poster art

They Live - illustration by Jeremy Wheeler

THEY LIVE poster from Printed In Blood

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #042

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #042 – Jesse is joined by Brian Murphy and Gregg Margarite to talk about the Tantor Media audiobook: The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard |READ OUR REVIEW|.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Hyena by Robert E. Howard, racism, racism in Robert E. Howard’s fiction, Jack London, H.P. Lovecraft, Solomon Kane, Crom, By This Axe I Rule, Howard/Lovecraft correspondence, plot vs. mood, pessimism, writers who kill themselves, Philip K. Dick, defining chaos, Dark Valley Destiny by L. Sprague de Camp, Blood And Thunder by Mark Finn, Howard’s life and death, The Whole Wide World, Howards’ westerns and historical stories, “with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth”: was Howard or Conan bipolar?, Texas in the early 20th century, Conan’s intellect, The Tower Of The Elephant, Barbarian vs. Cimmerian, Conan’s philosophy (Epicureanism?), fantasy, Howard’s use of magic, The Frost Giant’s Daughter (aka Gods Of The North), magic doesn’t trump steel, existentialism, nihilism, Ymir, The Prisoner, Howard’s animal similes, The God in the Bowl is a murder mystery and a locked room mystery and a detective story!, Yag-Kosha isn’t a great alien design, The Hyborian Age, Marvel’s Conan The Barbarian, The Savage Sword Of Conan, Dark Horse’s Conan, Curtis Magazines, The Scarlet Citadel, big battles and giant snakes, Marvel’s King Conan (Conan The King), The Hour Of The Dragon, Queen Of The Black Coast, barbarian love, Oliver Stone, John Milius, The Howard Conan:

“Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

The Stone/Milius Conan:

“Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.”

How do you pronounce names like Cimmeria and Bêlit?, Clark Ashton Smith, Bêlit’s character, Conan the Daoist, Conan’s character, Conan’s morality, Black Colossus, who the hell is Mitra?, The Cimmerian blog, Rogues In The House, Iron Shadows In The Moon, the Vilayet Sea, A Probable Outline Of Conan’s Career, Red Nails, The Pool of the Black One, Rogues In The House, people are animals, Charles Darwin and Robert E. Howard, Clifford D. Simak, man’s successor (intelligent dogs) take over, Thak is a great character name, writing (or just saying that you are), Fantasy seems to be a novel length genre, The Bloody Crown Of Conan, The Conquering Sword Of Conan, narrator Todd McLaren, character voices, bite the wax tadpole, Roy Thomas.

A 1938 newstand full of pulp magazines

Tantor Media - The Coming Of Conan The Cimmerian, The Bloody Crown Of Conan, The Conquering Sword Of Conan

Posted by Jesse Willis