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Carnival of Death
L. Ron Hubbard
Multicast performance, unabridged
Galaxy Press, 2 hours

L. Ron Hubbard
Lafayette Ron Hubbard was born March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Nebraska and died January 14, 1986 in San Luis Obispo, CA. In the 1930s and 40s, he produced a large number of westerns and science fiction stories and novels, some under the pen-name René Lafayette. Among these, some were well regarded, including the fantasy Slaves of Sleep (1939), the novel Typewriter in the Sky, the well-regarded militaristic post-apocalyptic novel Final Blackout (1940), and the horror novel Fear (1940). In 1950, he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, and in 1954 he founded the Church of Scientology to promote his "applied religious philosophy." Between 1954 and the early 80s, Hubbard published no further science fiction or fantasy. His Battlefield Earth was published in 1982 and eventually spawned the movie of the same name. The ten part ultra-pulpish Mission Earth series was published largely posthumously, and as with Battlefield Earth received rather poor reviews. Further biographical information can be found on the official L. Ron Hubbard website and in Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller -- I'll let you decide what to believe.

Publisher's website
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BOOK REVIEW: To the Stars: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gil T. Wilson

Carnival of Death I would never really say L. Ron Hubbard was a horror writer. For the most part, he wrote some great sci-fi, but Hubbard did write a lot of fiction from various genres back in the golden age of pulp-fictions in the mid-twentieth century. In the mystery genre, some of the stories tended to move into the horror realm. This book is one of those that branches out and adds a little of the horror genre into the mix.

Galaxy Audio took Hubbard's short stories that were published through various aviation, sports and pulp magazines and created a series of "audio pulps." These audiobooks are about two hours in length and contain one or more short stories within a given genre. The production mixes subtle sound effects, original music and an extremely talented cast of voice talent to create a cinematic audio experience that provides the perfect audio escape from reality.

This book includes the following two stories:

"The Carnival of Death" was originally published in the November, 1934 issue of Mystery/Detective magazine. It starts out as a bit of a horror story but, with the twist and turn expertise of Hubbard's typewriter, becomes a spectacular mystery in which a drug ring is thwarted. A carnival has recently imported four "headhunters" from Darkest Africa to scare the audiences in America. When the four escape and headless corpses begin showing up, U.S. Treasury Agent Bob Clark must solve the mystery before the horror of headless corpses continues.

First published in the April, 1936 issue of Fantasy Magazine, "The Death Flyer" is a great ghost story that would be worth listening to around the campfire, especially if there is a train track nearby. Jim Bellamy, finds himself stuck to a train track where, decades earlier, a train crashed, killing dozens of people. He cannot free himself from being stuck before a train begins bearing down on him. Suddenly, the train stops and the engineer yells down for Jim to hurry aboard -- they've been waiting for him. It seems Jim has found himself on board a ghost train, but for what reason? Give this one a listen and you'll never hear a distant train whistle the same again.

These are a couple of stories from the Golden Age that provide some nice chills of horror, but nothing too scary.

Copyright © 2010 Gil T. Wilson

Gil T. has spent a quarter of a century working in radio and has lots of spare time on his hands and reading or listening to books takes up all that time. Check out his blog to find out what he's up to at any given moment.

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