Tag Archive: short stories


One-More-Thing-B.J.-Novak-e1392823050260“One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories”
By B.J. Novak
Read by: by B. J. Novak, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fischer, Jason Schwartzman, Katy Perry, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling
Published by Random House Audio
6 hours and 48 minutes

Being a fan of the TV series, “The Office,” I was prepared for the quirky writing by B.J. Novak. What I wasn’t prepared for was the laugh-out-loud moments and the surreal storytelling that makes up this audiobook. 64 stories make up the book that will at least have you giggling from beginning. Not all the stories will be a hit for everyone but with that many to read/hear many will strike a chord. Personally I laughed out loud for many of the stories and probably made a spectacle of myself while listening to the book on my iPod.

Novak’s talent on writing is only enhanced by the cast of characters doing the reading. Hearing the voices of his “Office” alumni was not so surprising. What was surprising was hearing Katy Perry, yes the singer, take part in this collection. Each of the voices were perfect for each story they read and added a little bit of oomph to the presentation. Each voice had the perfect mix of great comedic timing and tone and when needed the “straight man” in the comedy bit. This great combination of actors and writing made this audiobook too much fun.

The subjects of the different stories vary from story to story and no theme is repeated throughout the book. I want to summarize every story for this review, but I would not be doing you a favor. Each story has its own little surprise in not only the subject but in delivery, depth and some even supply a surprise ending. You owe it to yourself to pick up this book and read or listen for yourself.

In order to get you a little more interested I will describe (minimally) some of my favorite stories from this collection.

Opening the book is the story of what happened to the hare after the fabled tortoise and hare race. The hare decides there should be a rematch, but this time he trains and decides to take the race seriously.

A little boy, who is forbidden to eat sugary cereals, sneaks a box home only to find he’s won the million dollar sweepstakes, but his parents forbid him to claim the prize. When he sneaks off to the cereal’s business offices what he discovers is that he is ineligible to win and what he learns further could tear his family apart.

This book contains lots of references to pop-culture but the best is the story of “Wikipedia Brown and the case of the Missing Bicycle.” This time around the genius of the story, Wikipedia Brown, is not as much help as you’d think.

The final story I should mention is a futuristic sci-fi story where sex-robots can be ordered through the mail. But what happens if the female sex robot actually falls in love?

You owe it to yourself to get this book and enjoy the wit and whimsy of B.J. Novak. The humor ranges from just pure fun to some really smart humor that will leave you feeling like you just got a degree from an Ivy League school.

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Best-Horror-of-the-Year

Audiobook review “The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 4”

Edited by Ellen Datlow

Read by Various Readers

Published by Blackstone Audio

Approx. 17 hours

Always the fan of horror and always the fan of short stories this book was a must read for me. When I saw the title, “The Best Horror of the Year…” my first question was what year? Seeing that the hardcover version was published in 2012, I looked further and discovered this was the best of 2011. Being a bit cynical I thought, we’ll have to see about that.

Well, the cynicism went away right at the first story. Each story in this collection represented a different point in the horror genre of fiction from mysterious faith-healers to monsters that live underground and sense vibrations of their prey to two spies trying to capture a Lovecraftian villain and more. This collection will introduce you to some new horror story telling and allow you to revisit some of your favorite storytellers.

Each story was read by a different narrator creating the fun from each of their own vocal talents. The editors matched perfectly each story to a different voice, not only allowing the difference from a male or female point of view, but also the tone of the stories match the vocal tones of the readers. The narrators includes Lindy Nettleton, Charles Carroll, Shaun Grindell, Angela Brazil, and Fred Sullivan

I will briefly describe a few of my favorite stories from this collection, in no particular order.

“The Little Green God of Agony,” by Stephen King opens the book with a story of a rich man seeking to live forever, pain-free without the grueling physical rehab. Hearing of a faith healer that has a history of positive results the man uses his influences to bring in the faith-healer, not all of the man’s staff hold the same faith. He summons the Rev. Rideout to his bedside. Rideout is no mere faith healer. He doesn’t heal, “I expel.” He casts out the demon god that feeds on hurt.

“Blackwood’s Baby,” takes place in rural Washington state, This story tracks a 1930s expedition of diverse hunters seeking a beast of legend more dangerous than any of them anticipate.

In John Langan’s “In Paris, in the Mouth of Kronos,” two government agents try to prove themselves when they’re hired to grab a “Mr. White,” who may not be a human. Mixing spy thriller with a touch of Lovecraft this story has a great creepiness factor.

“The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine” by Peter Straub is a bit of a surreal journey down a river on a luxury yacht where Ballard and Sandrine could live comfortably as long as they don’t ask questions. But as is human nature the couple investigate their surroundings if only to find where their food comes from. Everytime they gain new information it seems to be lost, forgotten or clouded by the next interlude.

“The Moraine” has a feuding couple lost on a mountain in a whiteout fog with a monster. The monster in this story mixes the monsters from “Tremors,” “The Ruins” and “The Mist.” This is a good old-fashioned monster story that could have been a drive-in movie theater hit if made into a movie.

In my favorite story out of the group, A.C. Wise’s “Final Girl Theory,” “‘Kaleidoscope’ isn’t a movie, it’s an infection, whispered from mouth to mouth in the dark.” A cult movie is the basis for an underground following that leads one fan to seek out the leading lady in the film.

A great collection of different horror stories with a great collection of narrators makes this audiobook one to grab.

henry sugar

Audiobook Review: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More”
by Roald Dahl
read by Andrew Scott
Published by Penguin Audio
Approx. 7 hours

Penguin Audio has recently released the works of Roald Dahl, the man who brought us “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and I have the pleasure of getting all these audiobooks for review. I immediately jumped in with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator” and really didn’t know which book to listen to next. It was great reliving my childhood and being entertained as an adult with these fantastically funny and whimsical stories.

I decided to just randomly choose my next Roald Dahl audio choice and this is the one I came up with. This audiobook came as a complete surprise. The stories in this collection are much different from the Roald Dahl stories I was used to. This collection is a combination of fiction and non-fiction stories each one was unique and while most were poignant they each revealed a little bit of humanity as the story progressed and unfolded. Not knowing any of the stories beforehand made for a very pleasant surprise as the end of each story was reached. Sometimes there was that bit of tear in my eye and sometimes there was a hopefulness for all of humanity.

This is definitely a collection to grab for the older fans of Roald Dahl. A couple of the stories are autobiographical in nature and as the listener you will discover a little more about the man that told such great children’s stories. The narrator in this collection did a superb job in presenting each story and giving each story their own unique ambiance through his vocal presentation.

 

Next, I will briefly summarize each story to give you a hint as to what you can expect.

 

“The Boy Who Talked with Animals”

This story is told from the point of view of someone on vacation in Jamaica. One night a huge sea turtle is being brought on the shore by some fishermen. All the people on the beach are enthralled by the massive beast and many talk about the ways the turtle could bring in money, some of the enterprising vacationers offer money for the turtle. All offers are turned down because the hotel owner has already paid for the turtle to make turtle soup. The vacationers are then talking about how great dinner will be. A young boy steps in and calls everyone horrible and cruel. The boy loves animals and even talks with them according to his parents. The boy’s father pays off the fishermen and the hotel manager and the turtle is set free. But that is not the end of the story. The next day the boy is missing and only when the fishermen return from sea can the story find a very heartwarming ending.

 

“The Hitch-hiker”

I found this story very intriguing. The beginning is not clear where the story will go but by the end it is quite humorous. The story is told from the point of view of a man who has a brand new BMW 3.3 LI. He is enjoying a drive down the highway and stops to pick up a “rat-like” hitch-hiker with long fingers. They begin talking and eventually talk about the car and the hitch-hiker talks the man into pushing the car to it’s limits. They get the speed up faster and faster until a police officer on a motorcycle comes up from behind. The driver is given a ticket and even threatens the driver with prison time. After receiving the ticket the driver becomes quiet. The hitch-hiker then tries to cheer him up by making him guess his profession. Once the driver starts to guess the story becomes funny and even with a little twist to the end of the tale.

 

“The Mildenhall Treasure”

This story is the first non-fiction in the collection and tells of a plowman who is plowing a field in England during WWII for a local farmer. The plowman, Gordon Butcher, hits a hard spot in the field and the plow becomes disconnected from the tractor. Wanting to get the field plowed before the snow hits he rushes back to try and clear the plow. What he discovers is a large metal plate. The area is well known for it’s buried Roman Treasures. When he tells the farmer, the farmer proceeds to uncover the treasure which is a collection of silver dinnerware, later discovered to be worth millions. The farmer moves all of the treasure to his home where he cleans the silver and keeps it for himself. The catch is that the United Kingdom has a law that buried treasures must be reported and become property of the country, (compensating the discoverer, of course). The farmer hides the treasure and keeps it to himself until a visiting historian sees one of the silver spoons accidentally left out. This may be a bit of a spoiler but the treasure now sits in the national museum, but the events that lead to getting the treasure in the proper hands make this story intriguing.

 

“The Swan”

Break out the tissue for this one. Peter Watson loves nature and birds, when bullies Ernie and Raymond set off to kill some rabbits with the new gun Ernie received for his birthday, they run into Peter. Peter has always been the target of the two bullies and this day just became his worse day ever. Holding Peter at gunpoint the bullies tie him to the middle of a railroad track. They tie him down between the rails so that he narrowly escapes death as the train rolls by and Peter barely fits under the passing train. They then march Peter to a nature sanctuary and shoot a swan. This brings Peter to tears to see such a beautiful creature shut down. The bullies send him over to retrieve the swan. This is when Peter discovers the unhatched eggs. To further Peter’s humiliation, Ernie says he can bring the swan to life and cuts off the wings and straps them to Peter. The events that follow present a little hope to anyone being bullied.

 

“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

Henry Sugar is an extremely wealthy man who loves gambling. While visiting with a doctor friend he discovers a medical report about a man who could see without using his eyes. This man studied with a Yogi until he developed the ability. Henry Sugar sees this as a way to guarantee winning at numerous casinos. The catch is the process of learning this ability requires strict mind and body training. The training, while successful, changes Henry in many ways and soon he looks at life from a different viewpoint.

 

“Lucky Break”

This is a non-fictional account which discusses the events in his life that led to Roald Dahl becoming a writer, including a meeting with a famous writer, who helped to launch his career. The story is about Dahl’s school and all the teachers, up until after the publication of his first story.

 

“A Piece of Cake”

This final story is another non-fiction story which is autobiographical in nature. This one covers Dahl’s time as a fighter pilot in World War II, and details how Dahl was injured and eventually forced to leave the Mediterranean arena. The original version of the story was written for C. S. Forester so that he could get the gist of Dahl’s story and rewrite it in his own words. However, Forester was so impressed by the story (Dahl at the time did not believe himself to be anything approaching an accomplished writer) that he sent it straight off to his agent who had it published (as “Shot Down Over Libya”) in the Saturday Evening Post, thereby kick-starting Dahl’s writing career.

 

A great collection of some of Roald Dahl’s lesser known works, that will give you a little more insight of the famous children’s author.

 

tricksoldier

“Trick Soldier”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx. 2 hours

Once again I find myself looking for a good audiobook to keep me company. I don’t want anything too heavy. I want something fun and only looking for two hours worth of entertainment. Where do I turn? To Galaxy Audio and their out of this world audio productions of L. Ron Hubbard’s “Stories from the Golden Age.”

The “Golden Age” of stories in America I’m referring to is a time when the pulp magazines were printed in order to bring entertainment to the masses in the form of short stories. These stories covered everything from war stories, Westerns, mysteries and science-fiction. L. Ron Hubbard wrote prolifically during this time period and had many stories printed in many magazines, covering all the genres.

Hubbard could write all these dozens of stories and still make each and everyone different. Hubbard’s stories all contained twists and turns in the plot and action that the ending was not always what you’d expect. There were some formulaic points in the stories one could expect; the hero always won, the male lead always got the dame, and crime doesn’t pay. These are pretty much to be expected norms in all of Hubbard’s writings during this time. While these could be expected as the end, Hubbard always made the journey so full of twists and turns that the adventure was always in the storytelling and not the end.

Galaxy Press has been re-releasing these stories in their own pulp magazine type of books since 2008, and it seems they never run out of stories. The physical books are very reminiscent of the original pulp magazines and even use the original artwork from the covers of the magazines from that era. The paper stock in the books is thicker, and the artwork within the covers of the book all reflects the pulp fiction classics.

To make things even more fun, the audiobook versions of these releases are produced by Galaxy Audio and are beyond entertaining. The audiobooks all feature multi-cast performances from a slew of actors whose talent is immeasurable and are able to bring to life all the over-the-top characters created by Hubbard. The audio performances also feature great music that pushes the story along in the chapter breaks and the sound effects are so real that you will be ducking bullets in the western stories, strapping in for launch in the science-fiction tales, and donning your life vest in the sea adventures.

Some of the productions are single stories, but some are a special treat and contain multiple stories. This audiobook is one of those special treats and contains three thrilling far-flung adventures featuring soldiers with hidden talents and courage.

The first story is the title story, “Trick Soldier,” which was originally published in the January, 1936 issue of “Top Notch.” The story is an odd pairing of a boot camp bully and his victim. The “Trick Soldier” is in charge of a local native army squad in Haiti. A “trick soldier” is a term used to refer to a boot camp soldier who seems to be able to excel on drill and routine yet be short on courage. The recruit who has physically bullied the “trick soldier” trudges through the jungle to serve under the “trick soldier,” 10 years later. The “trick solder” soon finds a mutiny among his troops and his bully (the second in command now) fears for his life. The tables are turned in this battle adventure with a surprising finish to a thrilling story.

The second story, “He Walked to War,” was originally published in the October, 1935 issue of “Adventure.” This story was a nice comedic story that hit near and dear to my heart. I was once commended by a boss saying that at first he thought I was lazy, but soon realized I was a genius in that I am always trying to find ways to make my job easier to perform with as little exertion as possible. Basically, I just want to make life as easy as possible. This is exactly the case for Marin Signalman, E.Z. Go. In fact, he doesn’t want to sign his entire name and just shortens it to E.Z. Go. E.Z. is tired of walking, so he requests a transfer from Marine signalman to airplane gunner. His thinking is that instead of walking into war he can fly into war and get there faster. The problem is the first aircraft he is assigned to crashes, and he finds himself walking, once again, through the Nicaraguan underbrush.

Finally, the last story in this collection is “Machine Gun 21,000,” which was originally published in the December, 1935 issue of “Dynamic Adventures.” This one also has a story that turns the tables, but I don’t want to say too much because the twists revealed at the end make this story very unique. Blake is in charge of a foreign platoon, and while being a great military leader, he has a habit of losing things. Blake loses machine gun number 21,000, then, facing court martial, finds the man who stole it and quells a mutiny. All the time with a general breathing down his neck telling Blake how much of a loser he is. I will say this, by the end of the story Blake is one of the most strategic planners in military history.

Three great stories from the golden age that are fun to hear whether you are a military story fan or not. If you are, the details of the stories will keep you listening, and if you are not or have never heard a military fiction you will be having fun throughout the listening of this audiobook.

 

“Killer’s Law”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy audio
Approx 2 hours

It’s funny when you think about it, many people complain about today’s youth in reference to their short attention span. This complaint has been blamed on the MTv generation creating short films and high-speed messages from the 80s. The funny part however can really be traced back to the middle of the century. During this time period there were short cartoons and serials before movies and the movies were at the longest 90 minutes. In the literary world there were the pulps. Pulp fiction magazines that were full of short stories that ran the gamut of available genres.

Many of these pulp magazines featured great authors telling great stories in the short story or novella format. Some of the stories may be lost forever, but thanks to Galaxy Audio and Galaxy Press, the pulp fiction era stories from L. Ron Hubbard are being re-released. The non-audiobook versions have the look and feel of the old pulp magazines. They have made the covers sturdier so that they will last longer but once you crack one of these open the feel of the paper on which the books are printed is the thick and pulpy texture that gave the magazine’s the pulp fiction nickname.

The audiobooks are a completely different approach to these fun stories. The audiobook productions are full cast performances complete with sound effects and original transitional music that make for a full surround feel of these stories, placing you as the listener right in the middle of the story. They also have the sound of classic radio plays from the same era of the pulp fiction releases.

The voice actors are all phenomenal in that these stories feature over the top characters and each actor brings the characters to life with great voicework. The sound effects keep the story rolling without overpowering the scene set by the story.

This release from GalaxyAudio features 4 short stories that come from the Mystery genre and each one features a detective story with the inevitable twists and turns that L. Ron Hubbard did best.

The first story is the title story “Killer’s Law,” it was originally published in the September, 1947 issue of “New Detective” magazine. When Sheriff Kyle of Deadeye, Nevada comes to Washington D.C. at the request of a senator to bring evidence against a wealthy copper king he finds himself in the middle of a scandal when he’s knocked unconscious and awakens next to the dead body of the senator he was to meet. The sheriff must then solve this mystery to clear his name.

The next story is “They Killed Him Dead,” which was originally published in the May, 1936 issue of “Detective Fiction Weekly.” Detective “Careful” Cassidy literally walks into what seems to be a murder just as it happens. After all, he hears the gun shot and as he turns the corner sees a man holding a gun and another man dead with a gunshot to the head. Seems pretty much like an open and shut case. Normally Detective Cassidy would look at all aspects of the case but seeing as this seems pretty normal, arrests the man with the gun and sends the body to the morgue. Once in the morgue the coroner takes a look and the case doesn’t seem to be so open and shut, with the dead man having possibly died from a stabbing, or a broken neck, or from choking. “Careful” Cassidy arrests four suspects before unraveling the truth to this mystery.

The third story is “The Mad Dog Murder” and was originally published in the June, 1936 issue of “Detective Fiction Weekly.” This one is a bit of a cute murder mystery in which the main suspect is at first a rabid Pekingese. A man dies of rabies and yet the dog doesn’t seem to have the disease after a few days in the pound. Yet a doctor with a penchant for animal testing seems to be under suspicion.

The final story in this collection is “The Blow Torch Murder” and was originally published in the March, 1936 issue of “Detective Fiction Weekly.” In the days before great television CSI problem solvers a detective must uncover the murderer from the usual suspects who are conveniently in jail for various minor crimes at the time of death. A cleverly devised murder, that appears to have been committed with a blow torch, is solved by a homicide detective with only a wristwatch as a clue.

In today’s age all of these mysteries could be solved in a single episode of a CSI program, however being the mid-20th century the detectives have only their wits to solve what today’s crimes are solved by extreme graphics, closeups and CGI.

 

“H. P. Lovecraft’s Book Of The Supernatural”
Edited by Stephen Jones
Read by: Bronson Pinchot, Steven Crossley , and Davina Porter
Published by AudioGo
Running Time: 16hrs 44min

I know I should have looked deeper into this book before requesting to listen, but I saw the name H.P. Lovecraft jumped on it. I was hoping for an audiobook full of Lovecraft’s stories but instead I got a collection of gothic Supernatural tales from the 19th Century. Granted the stories were a mixed bag of treats, some good, some average and some just plain boring. The readers of the stories were also a mixed bag of treats. Some good and some seemed as though they were, as the saying goes, “phoning it in.” Bronson Pinchot did well with some of the parts he took part in but there were times where it seemed as though he was forcing a feel of the old gothic tales but what happened was his delivery was downright boring, the same goes with the other readers. Some stories were perfectly read while others were dull each narrator had their moments of each.

The basis of this book is H. P. Lovecraft’s 1927 essay on Supernatural Horror in Literature and talks about the evolution of the genre from the early Gothic novels to the work of contemporary American and British authors. Throughout, Lovecraft acknowledges those authors and stories that he feels are the very finest the horror field has to offer: Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Guy de Maupassant, Ambrose Bierce, and Arthur Conan Doyle, each story is prefaced by Lovecraft’s own opinions and insights in their work. It is a nice collection of supernatural gothic tales and for any fan of supernatural and horror a good study of the genre.

The stories are too numerous to sum up but I will touch on some of my favorites and some which require some extra mention.

“Markheim” by Robert Louis Stevenson
When faced with a supernatural being (that could be “the Devil”) after murdering a shopkeeper, Markheim must evaluate his life for redemption. This was one of the most intriguing stories of the collection, in that it forced a man who has thrown away his life to review and determine his own worth.

“Message Found in a Bottle” by Edgar Allan Poe
This was a very nice Poe story in which a man is a sole survivor on a ship that is adrift in the Pacific. As the ship gets closer to Antarctica he spots another ship which boards and finds himself a ghost aboard that strange ship. Typical Poe story in that the literary illustration of the events and background will lose you in this one.

“The Middle Toe of the Right Foot” by Ambrose Bierce
I found this one to be humorous for some reason, probably due to the completely unrealistic aspect of the story. It is not a very well set up, in fact it’s very abrupt in the plot build-up but the essay segment before warns the listener of this. Basically a man kills his wife and children and for some reason he has to fight a duel with a man in the same house he murdered his family. The police come to the home the next day to find the man dead, but no wounds on his body and 3 sets of footprints in the dust. Fun ghost tale, but very awkward in structure.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Oilman
I have read this story before and loved it. The main idea behind the story is a first person story told by a woman who at first seems to be suffering from what today would be called postpartum depression, but slowly descends into madness after being shut in a room with ugly yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper begins as ugly but as the woman loses herself into the madness begins to love the color and sees women “creeping” around outside her window, soon she wants to stay in that room so she doesn’t have to creep along with them. Very creepy psychological horror story told by the woman who at first seems normal but soon changes.

“The Recrudescence of Imray” by Rudyard Kipling
I didn’t find much horror in this one, but the idea that a murdered man’s ghost comes back to help find his body and his killer seems to be the gist of the story. Not up to par with a Lovecraftian story but interesting in its historical aspect of the genre.

“The Hands of Karma Ingwabanashi” by Lafcadio Hearn
This one is almost humorous. An old woman is dying and she tells the young girl that comes to sit by her in her dying days that she is to replace her as the wife of the lord. The girl protests and as she helps the woman to stand. As she does so the woman grabs the girls breasts and dies. The hands become “infused” with the breasts and they stay with her for the remainder of her life making the young girl not able to marry. Weird tale there.

Other stories include: “The Burial of the Rats” by Bram Stoker, “The Red Lodge” by H R Wakefield, “The Captain of the PoleStar” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Villa Desiree” by May Sinclair, “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson, “The Turn of the Screw” by Henry James, “The Dead Smile” by F Marion Crawford, “The Wind in the RoseBush” Mary E Wilkins-Freeman, “Novel of the White Powder” by Arthur Machen, “The Tale of the German Student” by Washington Irving, “Who Knows?” by Guy de Maupassant, “The Invisible Eye” by Erckmann Chatrian, “What Was It?” by Fitz James OBrien, and “The Torture by Hope” by Villiers de Ilsle Adam

Nice collection as a whole but with the variety of stories, they may not all be your favorites, but they do present a good historical variety of supernatural horror.

“Red Death Over China”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
Approx 2 hours

I have recently started and stopped listening to several audiobooks lately. I’m always looking for a good book and am open to most genres. I love audiobooks because they can be heard no matter what I’m doing and with a one hour round trip commute to and from work, there’s some good book time right there. Lately, though, I’ve been starting books that seem like they’ll be really good but later turn out to be not worth my time, but I only discover this after wasting some of my time listening. Whenever I hit a run of several books that don’t meet my standards, I go back to a publisher/author that I know will always be perfect.

Those books are the re-issues of the old Pulp-Fiction era stories from L. Ron Hubbard, published by Galaxy Audio. Each time I start one of these books it’s like visiting an old friend. These collections of short stories from the master story-teller are like a comfortable sofa, as soon as you sit in that sofa you just sink in and relax and let the world wash over you. As soon as these audiobooks start you can just sit back, relax and let the story wash over you. They are always entertaining, whether it is the simple words and story-telling or the superb production along with a full cast acting out the stories, the excellent narrator pushing the stories along, or the sound effects and music that surround you with the story so that you feel as though you are a part of it. When the opening music starts, original scores written to fit with all the genres I just feel like the story and myself are all that matters. This is just what a good book is supposed to do, allow you to escape reality so you can give your mind a rest.

This time around, for some reason I really took note of the Narrator of the story, R.F. Daley. Daley narrates nearly all the “Stories from the Golden Age” releases from Galaxy Audio, and I’ve always been impressed. Like the actors in the story Daley as the narrator is a character within the stories. He delivers the story emphasizing the action, emotions and events throughout keeping the listener involved. One of the things that makes these L. Ron Hubbard stories worth hearing is that they always have some sort of twist in the plot and when Daley gets to that part of the story he sounds as if he were surprised at the ending as well, but he does it so subtly that as the listener I felt as though I discovered the twist first. Great stories in this collection and I think this also shows off Daley’s talents the best.

There are three short stories in this collection starting with the title story, “Red Death over China,” which was originally published in the, October, 1937 issue of “War Birds” magazine. American Pilot, John Hampton is an in-betweener. He stands for no cause owes his allegiance to no one. He can find no cause worth dying for and does what he does pretty much just for the paycheck. When he is hired to deliver a plane to the army of Mao Tse-tung he finds himself hired as a pilot in China’s civil war. When the side he is flying for (because the pay is good) becomes threatened by the enemy, Hampton is asked to fly a mission that he could die doing. Nothing is worth dying for, at least not yet, when what looks to be the final battle, Hampton observes the tenacity of the army to defend an undefendable location. Can he change? Will he change?

The next story in this collection is “The Crate Killer,” originally published in the June, 1937 issue of “War Birds” magazine and is a slightly humorous story but more to the point a story of a man who finds his heart. After parachuting nine times from airplanes coming apart around him, “Jumper” Bailey becomes somewhat of a jinx. When faces his tenth and most challenging test flight he has a bit more of a purpose to prove himself.

Finally, there is the story “Wings over Ethiopia” which was originally published in the February, 1939 issue of “Air Action” magazine. This is another one of the heroes for hire stories but this time pilot Larry Colter is hired to fly a photographer around war torn Ethiopia to get footage of the war between Italy and Ethiopia. When captured by both sides, each consider him a spy. Armed with only his expertise in the air and his wits Colter must get the photographer and film back to the States.

Great escapism, and great adventures in two hours of great storytelling.

“The Magic Quirt”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast Performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
approx 2 hours

Once again I venture off into the thrilling days of yesteryear with another Western Adventure from Galaxy Audio and L. Ron Hubbard. Each time I hear one of these Westerns from one of the masters of pulp-fiction, I am amazed at how such a great audio experience like these audiobooks from Galaxy Audio, got me to listen to a genre of fiction I would have NEVER read. That is the magic that is behind every one of these releases.

Galaxy Audio has been releasing audiobook versions of the many stories written by L. Ron Hubbard during the hey day of the pulp magazines of the mid-20th century since 2008. Each month is a new release and with all the stories from Hubbard I’m pretty sure they have a couple more years worth of books to come. When it came to the short stories that appeared in all genres of the pulps (Sci-fi, fantasy, foreign adventure, air adventure, sea adventure and westerns) L. Ron Hubbard covered them all.

What makes these audio stories so great is the expertise involved in producing these little gems. Each audiobook is about two hours in length, and in those two hours you get anywhere from one to three stories. Each of the stories contain the intrigue and twists and turns that Hubbard was known for but Galaxy Audio doesn’t stop there. These audio stories contain some top-notch voice actors, original music that matches the mood and genre of every story and sound effects that sound so realistic you feel as though you are part of the story.

This time around the audio pulp contained three stories from the Golden Age of Stories. Each one packed a punch and with the superb production, I felt as though I was riding alongside the cowboys and dodging the same bullets. Each of these stories had such an unexpected twist in the story that if they ever make a western version of “Twilight Zone” these could definitely be “Submitted for your approval.”

The first story and title of this collection was “The Magic Quirt.” This story originally appeared in the June, 1948 issue of “The Rio Kid Western” magazine. Old Laramie is a cook for the Lazy G Ranch and is not too happy with his job. As fate would have it Laramie finds himself accidentally rescuing an Aztec family. As a reward from saving them from a sure death at the hands of some bandits they give Old Laramie a quirt that is endowed with magical powers that will make him a “big man.” With the riding whip in hand Laramie finds himself standing up to folks he never would before and begins a new life full of adventure. The quirt is full of powers with the carved feathered snake on the handle and the glowing green eyes….or is it?

Next up is; “Vengeance is Mine” which was originally published in the June, 1950 issue of “Real Western Stories.” I should warn you that this is one of the few Hubbard stories that has a sad ending, but it does have a lesson to learn. When Whitey goes to visit his father and finds him dying from a gunshot, Whitey seeks revenge on the man his father named with his last dying breath. The vengeance sought is in error and even a bit ironic.

Finally, the last story is “Stacked Bullets.” This story first appeared in the December, 1948 issue of “Famous Western.” Charley Montgomery has the only land around with water on it. Running low on cash he sells the land only to lose the money in a fixed poker game. The new owners start charging the other ranchers for water, Charley is hired to correct the situation in a shootout.

Once again the two hours of stories from this audiobook went by way too fast. Great storytelling and great performances combine to make this collection a great addition to any audiobook collection.

“The Battling Pilot”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multi-cast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio
approx. 2 hours
I have been listening to the releases of the L. Ron Hubbard pulp fiction stories from Galaxy Audio ever since they first started releasing them back in 2008 and have enjoyed every new release. The quality in these audiobooks is above and beyond what is expected. The storytelling by Hubbard already keeps you on the edge of your seat, but with Galaxy Audio they take the story to an even higher level. With original music score, great sound effects and superb voice talent acting out the over the top characters, you don’t just listen to the story, instead you are thrown into the story completely and once the story is done you may find yourself dusting off the remnants of whatever battle or adventure you’ve just experienced. These audiobooks are very reminiscent of the old-time radio dramas, except you don’t have to wait until next week to find out what happens to the hero, it’s all incorporated into two-hour packages that will fly by from the fun.

Hubbard wrote for the pulps prolifically during the mid-20th century. He covered pretty much every genre covered by the pulp magazines, Westerns, Far-Flung Adventure, Air Adventure, Sea Adventures, Science-Fiction and Fantasy and more. At first I was only interested in the Science-Fiction and Fantasy stories, but after listening to all of them I had to have more, so I tried the other genres and found out they are all just as good, in fact I even listened to a genre I was never interested in before, Westerns, and found myself enjoying those stories as well. So, as long as the books keep coming out I’ll keep listening.

This time around I listened what seems to be a new favorite of mine from L. Ron Hubbard, Air Adventures. Hubbard was a pilot and knew what he was writing about in these stories. Keep in mind these are not your modern jets and such, but rather prop planes from the early to mid-20th century he was writing about. While some of these audio releases from Galaxy Audio can contain more than one short story, this two-hour adventure was the single story of, “The Battling Pilot.”

“The Battling Pilot” was originally published in the March, 1937 issue of “Five-Novels” monthly and tells the story of a day when pilot Peter England’s hum drum job of flying for an airline on the Washington to New York and back again route.

To start things out he gets a rookie co-pilot that has a love for flying. Peter has done the job so long that not only does he know who the regular passengers are and why they are taking each trip, but he no longer sees the excitement in flying. This flight, however will change all that.

Peter’s normal passengers are all bumped and in their stead a woman and her elderly assistant board the plane. It seems the two purchased all the seats in the plane for double the ticket prices, to make this trip. Why they are the only ones becomes clear when the assistant refers to the young woman as “your highness.” But that is only the beginning of the danger and adventure.

Along the flight path, Peter’s plane is shot at and ordered to land by a black plane that is determined to shoot them down. When the plane lands it is discovered that the dame is a princess and she’s trying to protect her country by delivering a check to an arms dealer. The pilot of the black plane is her country’s enemy and will do everything he can to stop that deal. Peter then becomes a man of action and does every thing HE can to protect and save her.

As with all of Hubbard’s pulp-fiction stories, the hero gets the dame, but this time around Hubbard throws so many twists and turns in the story (again, as with all of Hubbard’s stories) the dame (the princess) is not all she appears to be. Enjoy this mystery and air adventure story from the golden age, I know I did.

“Under the Black Ensign”
by L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance
Produced by Galaxy Audio (2008)
Approx 2 hours.

Back when I first started listening to these audio book productions of tales from the days of Pulp Fiction, or Stories from the Golden Age, I was only interested in the Science Fiction and Fantasy tales, but soon I was curious to hear some of the other genres because of the high quality of performance and production put into these books.

Galaxy Audio produces each story from the days of pulp fiction magazine into phenomenal performances that will remind you of the early days of radio.  The characters created by Hubbard are already well rounded and over the top and the voice actors bring each character to life, each one sounding like a character from the mid-20th century, just like the high drama and suspense stories that were on the radio at the time.   The vocalizations, the sound effects and the original music all come together to bring you a true theater of the mind performance.

Once I had listened to all the sci-fi and fantasy stories I started then listening to the back issues of these audio pulps, and no matter what genre I heard, I was entertained and enjoyed the great story.  Hubbard wrote many stories during the time of the pulp magazines and in many genres.  This time around we dive into a sea adventure, but even more exciting (I was especially looking forward to listening to this one) a pirate adventure.

Originally published in “Five Novels Monthly” August,  1935, “Under the Black Ensign” could be called the perfect swashbuckler romance.  Set in the Caribbean of the 17th century this story blends piracy, British men-of-war, a girl of aristocratic birth disguised as a boy, and an officer unjustly stripped of rank.

Tom Bristol’s career as first mate of the Maryland bark Randolph abruptly ends during shore leave when he is press-ganged into serving aboard the British HMS Terror.   Back in the day the crews of naval vessels were the underlings and treated as such.  One day onboard the Terror Bristol drops his marlin spike while working aloft and it nearly falls on a Lord who is on his way to take over a fort and prison in the Caribbean.  The Lord, being the hoity toity well-to-do royalty type, thinks Bristol was attempting to assassinate him orders Bristol to be given 100 lashes (a punishment that would bring death.

Just as Bristol is about to receive his lashes, the vessel is overtaken by pirates and after the melee Bristol is seen to be tied to the mast and given the opportunity to join the pirates.  Bristol is one of the valuable few that understand navigation on the high seas.

When Bristol is confronted by another pirate that wants to commit mutiny he kills the mutinous scalawag.   His new pirate mates desert him quickly after he’s found guilty of killing a mutinous pirate and unwittingly harboring a woman on board.   The woman was actually Lady Catherine who escaped the Spanish by disguising herself as a boy.   Bristol is then marooned on a deserted island, with nothing but a small supply of water, a gun and just enough bullets to kill himself.

The woman is put off toward more civilized confines but she steers her boat toward the island where Bristol is alone and they set up camp to decide what to do.  As fate would have it Bristol watches a Spanish ship battle a Dutch slave ship and abandon the Dutch ship and its cargo.  Bristol and the lady row out to the ship and free the slaves, who are sailing men themselves.   Bristol now has a crew and they manage to seize a ship through trickery and he sets out for revenge against the pirates and the British on his own vessel sailing under the black ensign.

Great swashbuckling, pirates, battles, and dames what more could you ask for.  This story beats any Pirates of the Caribbean story you’ll find.

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