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Continuing with "Sci-Fi September", I thought that I would share another audiobook from the legendary sci-fi author, Harlan Ellison. I was delighted to see a few Ellison fans in the comments section of "Ellison Reads Ellison". As with my previous post, this audiobook features Ellison reading another one of his own short stories, in this case "Jeffty Is Five". The story was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1977, and included in the "Shatterday Collection" three years later. I hope those of you who are accustomed to me primarily posting music here won't mind the break from tradition, as I have a few more items that I would like to post for "Sci-Fi September" that aren't music related.
As with most Harlan Ellison recordings from the '70s and '80s, this little gem is extremely rare. A very limited number of cassettes were released on Ellison's own label, The Harlan Ellison Record Collection, in 1982. The download provided below was ripped from one of these extremely rare cassettes, of which only 500 were released. I'm short on time, so I hope you all won't mind if I post a plot summary from Wikipedia, which does a better job of giving a condensed description than I could.
"Jeffty is Five" concerns a boy who never grows past the age of five — physically, mentally, or (oddly enough) chronologically. The narrator, Jeffty's friend from the age of five well into adulthood, discovers that Jeffty's radio plays serial programs no longer produced on radio stations that no longer exist. They are contemporary, all-new shows, however; not re-runs. He can buy comics such as The Shadow and Doc Savage that are, again, all-new although they are no longer being produced, not to mention long discontinued pulp magazines with new stories by Stanley G. Weinbaum, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard despite the authors being long dead. Jeffty can even watch films that are adaptations of old pulp fiction novels like Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man. The narrator is privy to this world because of Jeffty's trust, while the rest of the world (the world that grew as Jeffty did not) is not. When Jeffty's world and the "real" world intersect Jeffty loses his grip on his own world, eventually meeting a tragic end. It won the short story Nebula Award in 1977 and Hugo Award in 1978. It was also voted in a 1999 online poll of Locus readers to be the best short story of all time." - Wikipedia
I should point out that the bitrate of the audio is an abysmal 56kbps. Ordinarily I would refrain from posting a recording consisting of such inferior audio quality; however, I have decided to go ahead and post it for two reasons, the first being that this recording is so extremely rare, and the second being that the recording is still very listenable despite the low bitrate. If it were music released at such a low bitrate it would be unlistenable due to the amount of distortion, but since this recording strictly consists of dialougue it simply sounds like the nearly 30 year old recording that it is. For those who demand better audio quality, you can find a recording of "Jeffty Is Five" on the audiobook compilation "Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century". I may post this compilation before the end of the month, providing it is still out of print, as I believe it is. I hope that you Ellison fans enjoy this rare gem, and hopefully this will serve as an introduction to those who are unfamiliar with his work. As always, please share your opinions, and feel free to post any requests you might have for additional Harlan Ellison recordings in the comments section.
Year of Release: 1982 Label: The Harlan Ellison Collection Genre: Audiobook, Science-Fiction, Short Story Bitrate: 56kbps