Tales of adversaries and of childhood, and stories for Halloween

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, September 27th

13:30: Tea time at Baker Street

The Valley of Fear, The Strand Magazine, 1915. Illustration by Frank Wiles
The Valley of Fear, The Strand Magazine, 1915. Illustration by Frank Wiles

“I am inclined to think—” said I.

“I should do so,” Sherlock Holmes remarked impatiently.

I believe that I am one of the most long-suffering of mortals; but I’ll admit that I was annoyed at the sardonic interruption. “Really, Holmes,” said I severely, “you are a little trying at times.”

He was too much absorbed with his own thoughts to give any immediate answer to my remonstrance. He leaned upon his hand, with his untasted breakfast before him, and he stared at the slip of paper which he had just drawn from its envelope. Then he took the envelope itself, held it up to the light, and very carefully studied both the exterior and the flap.

“It is Porlock’s writing,” said he thoughtfully. “I can hardly doubt that it is Porlock’s writing, though I have seen it only twice before. The Greek e with the peculiar top flourish is distinctive. But if it is Porlock, then it must be something of the very first importance.”

He was speaking to himself rather than to me; but my vexation disappeared in the interest which the words awakened.

“Who then is Porlock?” I asked.

“Porlock, Watson, is a nom-de-plume, a mere identification mark; but behind it lies a shifty and evasive personality. In a former letter he frankly informed me that the name was not his own, and defied me ever to trace him among the teeming millions of this great city. Porlock is important, not for himself, but for the great man with whom he is in touch. Picture to yourself the pilot fish with the shark, the jackal with the lion—anything that is insignificant in companionship with what is formidable: not only formidable, Watson, but sinister—in the highest degree sinister. That is where he comes within my purview. You have heard me speak of Professor Moriarty?”

So opens The Valley of Fear, which first appeared in serial form within the pages of The Strand Magazine between 1914 and 1915, before being republished as a full length novel. Set prior to the events of Holmes’ apparent death in The Final Problem, the story serves to explore more sinister activities undertaken as the behest of that criminal mastermind, Professor Moriarty.

Join Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell as they continue with the second in a 6-part reading of what became the fourth and final Sherlock Holmes novel.

18:00: Selections from Pinocchio

An 1883 illustration from the original Le avventure di Pinocchio, drawn by Enrico Mazzanti and coloured by Daniel Donna
An illustration from 1883 and the original Le avventure di Pinocchio, drawn by Enrico Mazzanti and coloured by Daniel Donna

Caledonia Skytower settles down at Magicland’s Golden Horseshoe to read selected adventures from the famous story of Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who comes to life through the granting of a wish, and who then has various adventures and misadventures along his path of life.

It’s a story we’re all familiar with in one way or another, and probably largely as a result of the 1940 Walt Disney adaptation of the tale, which is rated today as both one of the finest Disney features made, and one of the greatest animated films of all time.

But, how many of us are familiar with the original Adventures of Pinocchio, published in 1883 by author Carlo Collodi? For those all too familiar with Disney’s rendering of the little puppet who wants to be a boy, there is much in the book that is familiar – but also much that is very different.

So – what will Caledonia bring? Pinocchio’s adventures as seen through the eyes of Disney, or as put to paper by Collodi – or perhaps a mix of both? Or will she cast her net wider?

Be at the Golden Horseshoe to find out!

Monday September 28th, 19:00: A Night in the Lonesome October

It is the start of the Haunted Month, and the Seanchai staff are marking the arrival and passage of October with readings of Roger Zelazy’s A Night in the Lonesome October. The latter is the last of Zelazy’s published works, and 31 of its 32 chapters (the first being an introductory chapter) each take place on a night in October.

Lonesome OctoberThe book is satirical in nature, and is written in the first person – the narrator being Snuff the dog, the companion of none other than Jack the Ripper. The central theme of the book is that once every few decades, when the moon is full on the night of Halloween, the fabric of reality thins, and doors may be opened between this world and the realm of the Great Old Ones. At this time, men and women with occult knowledge gather at a certain location to engage in The Game – an attempt by some to open the doors, and others to hold them closed. Should the Openers ever win the game, the Great Old Ones will come to Earth, remake it in their own images and enslave or slaughter the human race in the process.

Through the month of October, the Players in the game – all archetypal characters from Victorian Era Gothic fiction – form alliances, make deals, oppose one another, and even kill off opposing Players, until the night of October 31st, when the ritual takes place and the fate of the world is decided. Each Player has his or her familiar, an animal companion with near-human intelligence which helps them complete the numerous preparations required to be ready for the ritual on the final night. The majority of the story describes the interactions and discussions of these animals, as described from Snuff’s viewpoint.

Tuesday September 29th,19:00 The Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid

Thunderbolt KidKayden Oconnell reads from Bill Bryson’s memoirs of his childhood, growing up in Iowa in the 1950s. However, given this is Bill Bryson, these are no ordinary memoirs.

Born into an era when “automobiles and televisions and appliances (not to mention nuclear weapons) grew larger and more numerous with each passing year, and DDT, cigarettes, and the fallout from atmospheric testing were considered harmless or even good for you”, the young Bryson held a daydream typical of so many American youngsters of the time: to be a superhero.

For Bryson, this meant spending time wearing a football jersey emblazoned with a lightning bolt together with a towel for a cape whilst spending time righting imaginary wrongs, overcoming evil-doers, travelling faster than a speeding bullet and leaping tall buildings in a single bound and being known as The Thunderbolt Kid.

And it is through the eyes of this childhood alter ego that Bryson allows us to witness his home and family life as he grew up in 1950s Des Moines.

Wednesday September 30th 19:00: Serafina and the Black Cloak

serafinaCaledonia Skytower commences a reading of Robert Beatty’s spooky mystery thriller.

Serafina lives a life of total secrecy. While her father may be the maintenance man for the great house of the Biltmore Estate, the wealthy owners of the estate have no idea that he lives in the basement of the house – and much less that his daughter lives there with him.

Not that this is a problem for Serafina; she is quite at home exploring the great house and its grounds whilst avoiding being seen. There’s certainly no need for her to venture into the great forest beyond the estate, and with which, he father has said, lie many dangers.

But when the children on the estate start vanishing, Serafina is forced to join forces with the young nephew of the Biltmore’s owners, and discover the identity of the one they believe to be behind the disappearances of the other children: the Man in the Black Cloak. But in order to do so, Serafina must enter the forest her father has warned her against; and within that forest lies a deeper secret Serafina must confront: that of her own identity.

Thursday, October 1st

19:00: Patrick’s Path

Caledonia Skytower reads a story from her upcoming volume A Trio of Irish Tales II.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.


Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for August / September is Water for People, “When one person or one family has clean, accessible water, their lives are changed. But when entire regions and countries have water, the world is changed.”

Additional Links

One thought on “Tales of adversaries and of childhood, and stories for Halloween

Comments are closed.