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  • gilwilson 4:37 PM on January 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , simon vance,   

    Oliver Twist By: Charles Dickens 

    61zxRCSGv7L._SL500_Oliver Twist
    By: Charles Dickens
    Narrated by: Simon Vance
    Length: 16 hrs and 7 mins
    Release date: 07-29-08
    Publisher: Tantor Audio

    In this day and age everyone pretty much knows Charles Dickens work, and the same could probably be said about Oliver Twist. On occasion I like to revisit classic stories, especially revisit in audiobook form. Most of the time I pick up on something I missed whether it’s because of the age difference (yeah I’m Old now, so what.) or maybe just because I do the audiobook version when revisiting and just listening to the story and letting it flow over me, either way it’s nice to discover something new each time.

    While on the subject of the audiobook version, let’s talk about the narrator, Simon Vance. Vance is one of my top 5 audiobook voices. He can give each character a unique voice while reading, that at times it seems as though more than one person is narrating. Sometimes it is just enough to know it is another voice but Vance can give the story that extra oomph that will help the listener get lost in the story.

    In case your not familiar with the story, this Dickens novel was a social commentary on how poverty affects all, not just the poor. Oliver is an orphan sent to live at the workhouse where his mother gave birth to him and experiences the abuse the workhouse caretakers express on the children in their care. He is then sent to be an apprentice for an Undertaker where Oliver gets abused and runs away. Once on the streets Oliver begins working for the shady Fagin while learning the tricks of the pick pocket trade from the Artful Dodger.

    Through Oliver Twists misadventures with the criminal element the reader/listener is taught that poverty creates problems for everyone and that we are all affected somehow. If you ask me, you definitely learn that crime does not pay, although you have to get through nearly all of the book for that to surface.

    Publisher’s Summary:

    One of Charles Dickens’ most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, “Please, sir, I want some more”. After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves, Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured audiences’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and the terrifying Bill Sikes, perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time.

    Rife with Dickens’ disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation – and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

    (P)2008 Tantor

  • gilwilson 9:49 PM on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: alan goldsher, , , , beatles, , , , , , , , , , paul is undead, , simon vance, , , ,   

    “Paul is Undead” by Alan Goldsher 

    “Paul is Undead”
    by Alan Goldsher
    read by Simon Vance
    published by Blackstone Audio (2010)
    Approx 8 hours

    As the kids say, “OMG,” I am still giggling thinking about this book and I finished it 2 days ago.  “Paul is Undead” has got to be one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time.  This book is written in the format of the many biographies of rock stars in that it is a series of interviews that tell the story.  This time though the story is not the story we all know as the rise of The Beatles to the “Toppermost of the Poppermost,” a phrase used by John Lennon throughout the book and the definition is not fully understood until the very end.

    In the tradition of all the horror mashups that have been released recently, (e. g. “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” and “Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters,” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) Alan Goldsher gives it a go, mashing up the supernatural and the Beatles.  The entire history of The Beatles is retold with The Beatles now being Zombies and wanting to take over the world.   Okay, really only 3 of the Beatles are zombies, Ringo is a 7th level Ninja, of course.

    When you rush out to get this book, I would HIGHLY recommend getting the audiobook version.  Simon Vance does a superb job of not just reading the book but performing it as well.  Vance does his best impression of all celebrities mentioned in the book including the Fab 4, but with more, he does the voice of the Chicago reporter who is writing the book, Mick Jagger, Ed Sullivan, Elvis, Rod Argent, Yoko Ono, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Satan and more.  At times I felt as though I were listening to an audio biography produced by Ken Burns (but without the long drawn out scenes.)  Vance had me laughing out loud with my headphones on with his presentation of this already hilarious book.

    The book opens with Howard Cosell breaking in and announcing the attempted beheading of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman.  Lennon’s head is reattached and Chapman is arrested.  From there we go back to the birth of John Lennon when as he came out of the womb he was zombified via the “Liverpool Process.”  The “Liverpool Process” of creating zombies is different from many other zombie creations known around the world.  The “Liverpool Process” produces a super human zombie that can think, has supernatural powers, great speed, can hypnotize anyone, and can tear off and reattach any limb and more.  Oh they still hunger for the gray matter but they can also eat , drink and experiment with drugs, the brain eating is saved for special occasions.

    John then recruits/turns Paul and the duo are unstoppable, George Harrison is turned by Paul because John thinks he is too young.  Stu Sutcliffe doesn’t get turned to a zombie instead after quitting the Beatles he becomes a vampire.  After the three play a few gigs they realize they need to replace Pete Best because they need a drummer who can protect the band.  Enter Ringo Starr, a 7th level ninja, who can turn himself invisible (great subtle joke there).

    Sure they have their problems, after all the world doesn’t quite know what to do with zombies, but they make great music.  Even worse, world renowned zombie hunter, Mick Jagger, is always trying to destroy them.  Rod Argent is accused of riding the Beatles’ coattails by naming his band The Zombies, even though they aren’t undead.  Roy Orbison is a deity of unknown proportion who doesn’t allow Paul to steal his glasses.   Smoking marijuana creates zombie flatulence which creates a purple haze of a more potent material that takes Bob Dylan by surprise.  The Mahareshi Yogi gets dismembered, and finally Yoko Ono a 9th level ninja, has it out for Ringo.

    All the stories are there, from their first Ed Sullivan appearance, the Shea Stadium troubles, and the band playing a concert on the rooftop of Abbey Road Studios, but with the hilarious zombie twist.  For any Beatles fan this book is a must, it will have you laughing throughout.
    Lots of gory laughs to be had.

  • gilwilson 11:19 PM on December 6, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , frankenstein, , mary shelley, playing god, prometheus, , simon vance,   

    “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley 

    “Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”
    by Mary Shelley
    Read by Simon Vance
    Produced by Tantor Media, 2008
    Approx 8.5 hours

    Once again I get to revisit a classic.  I’ve read this book several times but this is the first time I’ve listened on audiobook.  Simon Vance does a first rate job of reading this story.  His vocal characterizations are spot on in every aspect I ever heard in my head while reading the story.  I think I may have found my new favorite audiobook voice.

    Each time I read this book I get something new out of it.  That’s what happens when the books are well thought out, and I’m guessing that’s one thing that makes them a classic.  This time around the theme of loneliness seemed to stick out with me.  Victor Frankenstein does not create the “creature” out of loneliness but the struggle from that point for the monster is loneliness.

    The story is told through a few viewpoints, first through a series of letters from Captain Walton, who spots the creature on the ice in the north and then rescues Dr. Frankenstein from the same icy waters, to his sister Margaret.  Then through Victor Frankenstein telling the Captain his tale, then through the creature telling his story to his creator, back to Frankenstein and back to Walton as a close.  A very unique storytelling format that not only works but definitely keeps the reader/listener attentive.

    The loneliness aspect really comes out when the creature is telling his story to his creator, Victor Frankenstein.  The creature is abandoned by Frankenstein after Frankenstein is disgusted by the final outcome, Frankenstein simply flees, leaving the newborn creature alone and confused.  The creature explores the world through a forest after it escapes and learns he is hideous when people run away from him in terror.  Frankenstein used various body parts to create the creature, I refuse to call him a monster, with the intent to make him larger than humans around eight feet tall.  The skin of the creature is yellowish with some transparency.  So as you can see from the description he would be a bit scary.  But he’s only misunderstood.

    Being abhorred by mankind, the creature sets off to be alone.  But along the way he finds shelter in a cubby hole attached to a family dwelling.  Over a long period of time the creature observes the family and learns that humans are actually loving caring beings.  He learns over the time to speak the language and even read.  He then begins to long for the family’s companionship but when trying to meet the blind father the son and daughter walk in and are horrified by his appearance and chase him away.

    The creature then runs off to Geneva, home of Frankenstein, and finds a young boy, who is young enough to not be influenced by the mores of the public and can learn to be friends without thinking the creature is something to fear.  The boy as it turns out is afraid but to make matters worse he is the younger brother of Victor Frankenstein.  The creature is agitated by the boy’s fear but becomes angered and vengeful when he realizes this is something he can take away from Frankenstein.

    When Frankenstein returns for the funeral of young William, the creature begins stalking him.  Frankenstein is then captured by the creature and the creature then states that he wishes Frankenstein to build another creature as a mate.   With no more loneliness the creature promises to move to where no man lives and live out his life with his bride.  Frankenstein is horrified by the thought of creating another horror and refuses.  The creature then begins to kill all those around Frankenstein making the doctor feel some of the creatures loneliness.  From there the hunt is on for Frankenstein to destroy his creature, which leads to the frozen North Sea and the where the book began with the ship picking up Dr. Frankenstein.

    All the creature wants is a friend.

  • gilwilson 2:42 PM on October 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , dr. watson, , , john joseph adams, neil gaimen, , , , , simon vance, the improbable adventures of sherlock holmes   

    “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” edited by John Joseph Adams 

    “The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”
    edited by John Joseph Adams
    Performed by Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik
    produced by Brilliance Audio
    Approx 21.5 hours

    If you are a constant reader of my postings, you may be wondering what I’m doing listening to a Sherlock Holmes audio book.  I know, it sounds weird and most of my readings are in the Sci-fi, Horror and Fantasy realms, but once in a while I dive into the classics, but this time I’m not straying away from my favorite genres.  This collection of short stories takes the world’s most famous “Consulting Detective” into some very interesting adventures.

    The defining quote Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote for Holmes, “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,” is what guides this collection.  This collection explores the improbable and bends the limits on improbability.  There are 28 stories in this collection written by authors whose specialties range throughout the sci-fi, horror and fantasy realms.  Just a few of the authors are; Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, Laurie R. King, Anthony Burgess, Stephen Baxter.

    Some of the stories in this collection are rewrites of original Holmes adventures, such as “A Study in Emerald” by Neil Gaiman.  Gaiman takes the introductory story to Holmes’ adventures , “A Study in Scarlet,” and places Holmes and Watson in an alternate universe in which Lovecraftian creatures have invaded the Earth and rule the contintents.  In the original story Scarlet referred to the color of the blood of the murder victim, in this story Emerald refers to the alien’s greenish blood color.   I found this story to be the most fun, in that having known the original story, how the aliens created a strange turn to the clues Holmes had to decipher.

    In the other stories you have Holmes traveling through time, meeting with the authors, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, explaining his 3 years of missing time when Watson believed him to be dead at the hands of Professor Moriarty.

    Whether you are a Sherlock Holmes fan or a fan of the strange genres of fiction you will have fun when listening to this collection.  There is a bit of something for everyone here.  Even some normal Holmes Adventures that just don’t seem to be solvable by Holmes.

    The readers, Simon Vance and Anne Flosnik swap the reading depending on whether the story is told from a woman’s point of view or a man’s.  Anne Flosnik reads the stories using various accents and emotions perfectly.  The gem in this audio book, in my opinion, is Simon Vance, throughout the book Vance captures the characters of Holmes and Watson flawlessly.  No matter where the adventure takes them he is consistent with their vocal qualities and that keeps the listener tuned in to the adventure.  I know there were several times I couldn’t stop listening until Holmes solved the crime.

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