Last night, while listening to the Drabblecast fiction podcast, I stumbled across British author, blogger and podcaster Frank Key, the Max Ernst of silly.
One of the most outsider of independent weird writers, his website Hooting Yard is a magical land of absurdist nonsense where his prose tumbles forth in an increasingly hilarious manner. He reads his fiction on the groovy London arts online channel Resonance FM and his fiction is available in paperback and an ebook called By Aerostat To Hooting Yard, which I just bought.
Here’s a story of Frank’s on Drabblecast, Boiled Black Broth and Cornets. It mentions legendary jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke which gets a thumbs up from me. I recommend listening to the show in it’s entirety as the host is very funny and they also feature hundred word stories by listeners.
This one, A Plague of Boils, was the one I listened to last night. I had to find out more about this weirdo. Frank’s story is the last of three and begins around the 18:34 mark.
This one isn’t so much science fiction as a bowl of madness.
Weekend With The Owl God begins at 18.30
And lastly here’s Frank himself reading on Resonance FM:
Hello my little flower seed packets surreptitiously passed to Poirot as a clue to be deciphered later. Here in the future there are so many ways to experience fiction that words leak from our every orifices. One of the ways I’ve been mainlining fiction is via podcasts, and thanks to all those who alerted me to these particular gems.
What works so well about the fictional casts is the blending of fact and fiction, echoing Orson Welles’ fifties radio version of War of the Worlds where the first section was presented as a genuine news reel. Also taken from the past is the serial format, reflecting the stories Dickens and many others wrote for newspapers.
These stories, despite being set in the modern day, have a distinctly fifties feel. Performed live at The Slipper Room in New York it’s in turns funny, strange and…mysterious. Of course, being a variety show (each episode has one or two songs as well as a few stories), some are better than others but you can feel the fun they’re having and there’s some great ones.
I really enjoyed this Childhood Fears themed episode:
Inspired by places of mystery or legend like Atlantis and Xanadu, this series is a fictional search for Tanis. Is it a place? Is it a thing? Is it a tiny lemon-shaped vacuum cleaner? The main story is punctuated by true mysteries and literary/weird fiction references from Haruki Murakami to House of Leaves, which makes me as geekily happy as this bird with a paper towel.
This serial on the unsolved cases of Paranormal investigator Dr Strand comes from the same production company as Tanis. Again the stories are inspired by ‘true’ mysteries such as the audio from Hell and the exorcism of Anneliese Michel (here under a fictional name).
The individual cases aren’t always brought to a satisfying conclusion – so far, anyway, I’ve only listened to a few – but they are intriguing and definitely enjoyable. Also Strand reminds me of a moodier and darker Richard Wiseman, a magician and debunker whose book promotion I went to in Edinburgh. He was very jolly, it was fun.
This seven part (so far) series actually made me very nervous as I listened through headphones late at night. It’s premise is eerie enough; ten years ago residents of Limetown disappeared without trace and journalist Lia Haddock is determined to find out what happened. The story builds in spookiness and intrigue until…well, I won’t tell you anymore.
This reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode To Serve Man: Aliens land and announce they’re bringing earthlings back to their planet to live peacefully. Scientists attempt to decipher a book of theirs throughout, not succeeding until it’s too late. I have a sneaking suspicion that the possibly extra-terrestrial message the code-breakers are attempting to crack in this podcast isn’t going to be anything good.
This is the only nonfiction entry and it’s completely addictive. Sarah Koenig, a journalist and radio personality, is attempting to get to the bottom of a case which doesn’t add up on closer inspection. Or does it? That’s what she’s trying to figure out.
Adnan Syed is in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in Baltimore. It seemed at the time to be a cut and dried example of a jealous ex boyfriend, but none of their school mates believe it and some of the timelines are iffy to say the least. Also there are possible fantasists, streakers, and much more. Seriously, give this one a listen, I had to force myself to switch it off and go to sleep.
Years from now I will be discovered, nothing but thick cobwebs stretched over bones, a pair of headphones stuck to my yellowing skull, the only sound the weak strains of one of these podcasts or Audible (which is also good, Gillian Anderson and Neil Gaiman have already read me spooky stories).
That’s how anyone would want to go, isn’t it? Join us…
Good day! There are many horror podcasts out there including NoSleep, Drabblecast, Pseudopod and the Monster Club (Old Time Radio site), but I have a special place in my heart for Chilling Tales For Dark Nights as it opened my weirdly little mouse ears to the joys of audio internet horror. I can pretend I’m tuning into the radio in the time of vintage, ready to be thrilled and chilled.
The stories aren’t always to my taste – we all have our own unique tastes don’t we, my little bottles of sauce – but there are enough I liked to share with you my favourites.
This is a translation from a Japanese story and I think it has all the right levels of spooky weirdness. It may get a little ‘explainy’ at the end but, for me, that’s part of the charm of some of these internet stories:
This one is very creepy with a nice twist at the end:
Some of the best stories have an image that stays with you. I think this is one of those:
Here’s a classic Twilight Zone-esque ‘be careful what you wish for’ story:
This one has a nice gothic feel to it:
The little voice in this is quite cute. I like the story too:
I like abandoned town stories. Here is one of those: