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Author Topic: EP182: The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham  (Read 7705 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: November 02, 2008, 05:56:32 AM »

EP182: The Story of the Late Mr. Elvesham

By H.G. Wells.
Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod).

“I must tell you, then, that I am an old man, a very old man.” He paused momentarily. “And it happens that I have money that I must presently be leaving, and never a child have I to leave it to.” I thought of the confidence trick, and resolved I would be on the alert for the vestiges of my five hundred pounds. He proceeded to enlarge on his loneliness, and the trouble he had to find a proper disposition of his money. “I have weighed this plan and that plan, charities, institutions, and scholarships, and libraries, and I have come to this conclusion at last,”–he fixed his eyes on my face,–”that I will find some young fellow, ambitious, pure-minded, and poor, healthy in body and healthy in mind, and, in short, make him my heir, give him all that I have.” He repeated, “Give him all that I have. So that he will suddenly be lifted out of all the trouble and struggle in which his sympathies have been educated, to freedom and influence.”

I tried to seem disinterested. With a transparent hypocrisy I said, “And you want my help, my professional services maybe, to find that person.”

He smiled, and looked at me over his cigarette, and I laughed at his quiet exposure of my modest pretence.


Rated PG. Kids, don’t do drugs. Also, some profanity in the outro.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Zathras
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2008, 07:41:28 AM »

A good story with excellent reading.  I believe this was my first exposure to the story.  Yes, it has become trope, but to hear the origins of that trope was pretty damn cool.

Steve's outro was very powerful.  I'm glad he responded and let us know why he ran the piece.  I hadn't looked at it that way.  As for the negative feedback, I hadn't thought it was that over the top.  I went back and read them again and saw a bit of it in the forums, but more on the blog.

That being said, Steve really ticked me off this week.  I was ready to quote Marcus myself when Steve stole my thunder.  Guess I was at least on the right track though.   Wink
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2008, 02:14:32 PM »

Great story, well written. It is hard, when you read these trope-creating classics, to divorce them from their successors - even if I hadn't already read the story, I wouldn't have been able to hear this story with the shock and surprise it must have elicited in some of its readers with the direction its plot took. Still, it was very effective.

I do wonder at the ending - was the powder really poison, or was it indeed switch-back potion, causing death just because of the death of the other body? I guess it's up to us to decide...
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alllie
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2008, 04:50:02 PM »

"Use every man after his [just] desert, and who shall 'scape whipping?" ... Shakespeare

Yes, better not hope for fairness.

Though I still do.
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bolddeceiver
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Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...


« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2008, 08:07:47 PM »

Really great choice, really great reading, really great commentary.  Pure escape pod joy.
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Leslie 417
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2008, 10:14:22 PM »

I liked the story... it's been done so many times with so many twists but that's why it's a classic right?
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deflective
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2008, 10:17:41 PM »

always fun to revisit the classics.

this set me to thinking of another story in the trope. a company was advertising that it was offering excitement and adventure to anyone brave enough to accept their offer. you walked in blind and, after signing documents that absolved the company from legal responsibility, you switched bodies with someone. the other person would have paid for the switch and may have some sort of terminal illness. as an added bonus the way that they got the money may have left them wanted by the law.

sound familiar to anyone? i've been trying to place the title and it's niggling.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 12:37:27 AM by deflective » Logged
Windup
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« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 12:17:45 AM »


Like most here, I'm sure, I've been exposed to so many of this trope-creator's descendants that I saw the switch coming just a few minutes in. And I agree that the experience of the "first readers" is lost to us.  But it was great to hear the original.  Good pick, Steve.  And well read.

The end quote reminded me of something I heard once about the Bible: "Proverbs and the historical books are mostly about explaining how God should be fair; Psalms is mostly about complaining that He isn't; and the New Testament is about saying we should be grateful for that fact."
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My whole job is in the space between "should be" and "is."  It's a big space...
ColdWarrior
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2008, 04:33:12 PM »

First, since I'm new here, I have to say thanks to Steve and everyone involved in [Escape/Pseudo]Pod[Castle].  I've been a listener from the beginning and am glad to see audio dramas doing well in this form.  I grew up on the likes of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, but I'm dating myself.

Lots of good stuff on this podcast on a regular basis.  If there wasn't I wouldn't have stuck around for all 182 episodes.

That said, though I see a number of comments praising the reading, I have to disagree.  For some reason, maybe it's age, I had an incredibly difficult time following the narration.  It seemed unnaturally fast.  So much so, that I finally just gave up about half way through and skipped to the outro.

Sorry.  It didn't do it for me.

Of course, though Wells broke lots of new ground in speculative fiction, I was never a fan of his writing style, which may have had something do do with my (and it is my) problem in following along and enjoying this one thoroughly.
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ajames
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2008, 08:19:48 PM »

Great story, well written. It is hard, when you read these trope-creating classics, to divorce them from their successors - even if I hadn't already read the story, I wouldn't have been able to hear this story with the shock and surprise it must have elicited in some of its readers with the direction its plot took. Still, it was very effective.

Fortunately, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this story despite having seen a B-movie on the same theme with Pamela Anderson many (well, maybe 10) years ago.

And Steve, very powerful outtro and very well done - I am continually impressed at how well you put together ideas and express them. I wasn't following the boards very closely at all when this story came out, so I missed much of what was said, but I do remember wondering why exactly you ran the story when you did. Now it makes perfect sense and I wonder how I manage to muddle through my life with that incredibly dense mass I call a brain.
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Corydon
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« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2008, 09:20:18 PM »

I'm afraid I couldn't listen to this one.  Something about the recording: there's a sort of high-pitched whistle on certain syllables ("s" is especially bad) that makes it painful to listen to on my iPhone.  It's not quite as bad (though still noticeable) on my computer, so I'll see if I can't give it a go later.
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tpi
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2008, 03:13:08 AM »

That said, though I see a number of comments praising the reading, I have to disagree.  For some reason, maybe it's age, I had an incredibly difficult time following the narration. 

I was hesitant to post this, as everyone was praising the reading (I thought it was just me), but I must agree to this. At places reading was very fast, sometimes it was too loud, and some letters were very grating to the ears.
As english isn't my first laguage( as you can probably guess), I am usually very sensitive to the quality of the reading.
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wintermute
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What Would Batman Do?


« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2008, 08:10:28 AM »

First of all, re the outro and feedback: Fuckin' A, Mr Eley.

As to the story itself, I know I've read it, or a virtual clone, sometime in my childhood. I knew the basic plot as soon as the will was mentioned, and knew that there would be strict medicals, and that Eden's handwriting would be different enough that he couldn't sign Elvesham's name, and that Mr Elvesham would end up run over by a cab. But other than that, I couldn't recall the detail.

So it was fascinating to rediscover this story, and to discover that it was a Wells. This is definitely a keeper.
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Science means that not all dreams can come true
MacArthurBug
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2008, 09:36:32 AM »

's good! Really liked this one.
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Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.
lieffeil
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2008, 04:38:02 PM »

Oh, the Classic. One of my favorite flavours of science fiction, after the Dry Sarcastic with Witty Swirl.
Mr. Wells' last words were, reputedly, "Go away, I'm alright." Talk about reality not mirroring fiction.
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cpengel
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2008, 05:17:40 PM »

Steve, I admire your handling of last week's comments in the closing.  Bravo.
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Father Beast
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2008, 09:23:32 PM »

Goodness, but it's refreshing to hear just how well the classic stuff holds up after all these years. Despite Wells' plodding kind of storytelling, it was a lot of fun. And the ending twist actually made my hair stand up for a minute.

Bravo!

However, the reader's squeaky s's drove me a little batty until I learned to listen past them.
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hoyajon
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2008, 06:34:11 AM »

Loved the story Smiley
Loved the reading Smiley

Glad the kids weren't in the car during the outro.  Steve should make a warning before dropping the f-bomb. Shocked
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2008, 04:47:21 PM »

Mad props to Steve for "I don't give a fuck about the politics." Grin

As for the sign off ... "Be good to others.  And have fun."  Are you Bill, or Ted?  Because that sounds an awful lot like "Be excellent to each other.  And party on, dudes!"  Grin Grin
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Enemyvirus
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« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2008, 06:20:25 PM »

I loved this one, reminded me why I love SF. I remember reading War of the Worlds what I was at school and being bowled over. 30 years and a couple of hundred books later I'm still reading\listening the same stuff.

The outro was inspired, your comments were spot on. I totally agree with the why's and wherefors that made you decide on the story for the date in question.

Thanks for all your time and effort for this wonderfull podcast, you make my drive home from work something to look forward to at least once a week.
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