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Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories MP3 CD – Audiobook, February 2, 2016
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|MP3 CD, Audiobook, February 2, 2016||
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"This fresh collection of Beaumont's weird fiction is rife with fantastical tropes and twist endings...Twist endings get a bad rap in our oh-so-sophisticated millennium, but in Perchance to Dream, they're in the hands of a master...Throughout the book, Beaumont challenges perception, norms, and our smug reliance on appearances, using supernatural and science-fictional elements to drive home his points — sometimes gently, sometimes jarringly...[Beaumont’s] imagination, as Perchance to Dream amply shows, was more than most writer's enjoy in the longest of lifetimes."
"Beaumont’s stories offer flashes of true horror, subverting shock value with vertiginous questions about good, evil and human nature."
—The Seattle Times
"Creepy, melancholy short stories from the mid-20th-century master...Each with its satisfying twist, often surprisingly surprising, these stories charm and entertain."
“In every genre he explored, Beaumont wrote with style, with a sure sense of his characters. His stories are often haunting, and though their concerns are ever enduring, they provide a clear window into the fears and hopes of his time.”
“The name of Charles Beaumont will be honored and recognized for generations yet to come.”
"Terrifically creepy pieces that almost always end with a twist...Beaumont deserves the wider audience this volume can provide."
"As a writer, Beaumont never seemed particularly concerned with observing the hard boundary lines of genre, and sometimes slipped over it and across again with gleeful abandon. As a writer of imaginative fiction, Beaumont was especially adept at the use of fiction as an object lesson, using it as a mirror to force readers to confront their own complacency and small-mindedness. In Beaumont’s hands, wishes become nightmares, and the road to hell is always paved with good intentions."
"This is a worthwhile and important collection, preserving an author’s work for a new generation of readers. Read them. Get angry. Be shocked. Laugh. Charles Beaumont’s work will certainly provoke your imagination."
—Weird Fiction Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
About the Author
Charles Beaumont (1929 - 1967) was a prolific American writer of speculative fiction, including the collection Night Ride, and Other Journeys. His stories provided the source material for over twenty Twilight Zone episodes.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course, these days unless you're a TW fan, you would never heard of this guy, which is a shame. He was ahead of his time.
The best part of this collection is that it includes seven stories that were later adapted for television on Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, almost all of which were adapted by Beaumont himself for the show. For those interested, these stories are: "The Howling Man," "The Jungle," "Perchance to Dream," "In His Image," "The Beautiful People" (filmed as "Number Twelve Looks Just Like You" from a teleplay by John Tomerlin), "Song for a Lady" (filmed as "Passage on the Lady Anne"), and "Traumerei" (filmed as "Shadow Play").
This collection should also have included the stories, "The Devil, You Say?" and "Elegy," both of which were also adapted for the show by Beaumont, "The Devil, You Say?" as "Printer's Devil," for no other reason than to completely collect the Beaumont stories associated with the show. The collection also neglects one of Beaumont's finer stories that is also connected to Twilight Zone, "Gentlemen, Be Seated," which Beaumont also adapted into a teleplay and submitted to the Zone before, incredibly, it was rejected for production by the show's fifth season producer. It would have been interesting to have all of this Twilight Zone material in one collection since his connection to the show is the primary reason he is remembered and read today.
Along with the Twilight Zone material, this collection also includes many of Beaumont's finest stories. I would direct the reader to "A Death in the Country," a suspense story about one of Beaumont's favorite pastimes, auto racing, "Free Dirt," a surreal and highly original horror story, "Place of Meeting," a clever horror/science fiction short-short, "Night Ride," about another of Beaumont's passions, jazz music, "The New People," a tense story of domestic terror, "Last Rites," an examination of religion through a science fiction lens, and "The Magic Man," a heart-wrenching story about the power of belief.
There are included some stories that don't show Beaumont at his best but were presumably included to both fill out the collection and show a little of the author's range. These include "Fritzchen," and "The Monster Show," two satirical fantasies, and "A Classic Affair," and "The Music of the Yellow Brass," two marginally successful non-genre stories.
Alas, the collection also include some poor stories, such as "Sorcerer's Moon," "You Can't Have Them All," "Father, Dear Father," "Blood Brother," and "The New Sound." What's baffling about the inclusion of these stories is what was left out of the collection so that they could be included. Left out were essential stories such as "Miss Gentilbelle," Beaumont's devastating tale of the horrors of a twisted childhood, "The Hunger," an intense noir tale, "Black Country," a prize winning story about the power of jazz music, "Mourning Song," a powerful dark fantasy about choice and destiny, and "The Vanishing American," his classic fantasy about the effects of American society on the identity of the individual. If the reader enjoyed this collection I highly recommend they seek out these stories as they are better than almost everything else included in this collection and are stories that I, as a longtime Beaumont reader, feel are stories that simply must be included for a one-volume collection of the author's work to be considered definitive. I'm at least hoping this means there is a proposed second volume in the future that will collect the remainder of Beaumont's wonderful short fiction.
Overall, this is an fine primer on Beaumont's unique style but ultimately it's a missed opportunity to collect all of Beaumont's best work in one easily accessible collection. I highly suggest Beaumont biographer/editor Roger Anker's 1988 volume "Selected Stories" (Dark Harvest), reprinted in paperback as "The Howling Man" (Tor 1992). It includes all of Beaumont's best work as well as personal essays by Beaumont's professional friends. Get it while it's still relatively affordable, for it remains at this time the definitive collection of Beaumont's wonderful short fiction.
Like Cornell Woolrich, Beaumont thrives on sudden, unexpected revelations and/or reversals of fortune. Conceptually, many of them are
novel, though at least a couple are well-worn cliches. For me, however, most of the stories are marred by slow, repetitive prose or construction that robs the tales of greater power. Let me briefly consider two Twilight Zone stories, with the understanding that there will be massive SPOILERS ahead.
"The Beautiful People" was adapted by John Tomerlin and turned into the TZ episode "Number 12 Looks Just Like You." Beaumont's story is set in a future society where everyone eventually chooses one of several physical types to be transformed into. One girl doesn't wish to be modified, preferring to remain herself in all aspects. Ultimately, however, she is forced into submitting to the procedure. Tomerlin's screenplay follows the basic story, but he makes one significant addition that adds immensely to the story: in Beaumont's original, society forces the girl to undergo the transformation, and in the last paragraph, the machine is turned on and that's it. In the Twilight Zone episode, we get to see what happens afterward: the girl winds up being pleased with her metamorphosis and becomes just like everyone else in attitude. That's a much more chilling ending that Beaumont's.
"The Howling Man" was broadcast in 1960, and I remember being scared out of my pants by the masterful buildup and stunning transformation at the end. In this tale, the Devil is imprisoned in an abbey and convinces a naive and disbelieving traveler to release him. Beaumont's original story, with the same title, changes the ending completely! After the Devil is released, the narrator receives word later on that Lucifer's been recaptured and everything's just fine. This simply robs the tale of its original power.
There are some stories in this volume that are neither science fiction or fantasy, and they contain the best writing, though they still have the irony and twists evident in the non-realistic tales. In the main, this is a volume worth reading, though as others have noted, there are better Beaumont stories left out. However, I don't think what you'll find here is as good as some other reviewers are claiming. Certainly, in my mind, the five that were later used on The Twilight Zone don't hold a candle to their dramatized counterparts.
What a talent we lost when he died; who knows how many more wonderful little tales and Twilight Zone episodes he would have graced us with. While Ligotti is certainly more impressive in a literary sense, this was, no contest, my favorite Halloween read this October.
Also, this will undoubtedly be the only time you'll see a collection bookended by tributes from Ray Bradbury and William Shatner. An apt duo, though I'm unclear where the Bradbury foreword came from as he'd been dead for three years prior to the publication of this edition. I like to think he has indeed succeeded in his goal to live forever and has been in contact with Penguin Classics from the afterlife.