Just ahead of the thirty-ninth audio adventure in our popular series Tales for Our Time, thank you for all your kind comments, still incoming, about our thirty-eighth: The Prisoner of Windsor, a summer diversion from yours truly inverting the premise of The Prisoner of Zenda. Nancy Hawkes, a Mark Steyn Clubber from Virginia, writes:
I am a First Quarter Founding Member of the MSC and I don't comment often, but I couldn't keep silent about this tale. Where to begin? I save Tales for Our Time for road trips so I can listen for long stretches. The Prisoner of Windsor was amazing. I just finished it tonight. I don't know which I liked better - the rollicking, funny, sad, sobering story, or the comical, serious, heart-warming, heart-rending reading of it. There were parts that had me crying with laughter (Rudy at the gay pride parade - good thing I wasn't going 70+mph at that point!) and tearing up with sadness over the loss of love of country (Rudy trying to instill some backbone in the King).
Mark, thank you for this. If only the wider world could hear/read it and understand...
Thank you so much, Nancy. Too kind. Maybe we'll make it more widely available - and maybe we'll do a Rupert of Hentzau-type sequel for next summer.
Ahead of that, you'll be glad to hear that for our thirty-ninth tale we're eschewing this Steyn fellow in favor of a bona fide top-rank author. In these final weeks of a very bizarre non-campaign season, I've been rummaging around for some classic tales of American election days. There are fewer than you might think, but here's one from Isaac Asimov, speculating from the vantage of 1955 on what refinements half-a-century of technological innovation might bring to a citizen's duty. And so, as that November morning looms, the United States eagerly awaits another presidential election:
Linda came closer and put both her forearms on one of the old man's knees so that he had to discard his newspaper altogether.
She said, 'Grandpa, did you really once vote?'
He said, 'You heard me say I did, didn't you? Do you think I tell fibs?'
'N—no, but Mamma says everybody voted then.'
'So they did.'
'But how could they? How could everybody vote?'
Indeed. At a certain point, all those millions of voters become superfluous.
To hear the first part of Franchise, prefaced by my own introduction to Isaac Asimov's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
Asimov, by the way, was speculating from 1955 on the 2008 election, which was certainly different, although not quite in the way he predicted.
Unless you're the looting type, six months of lockdown and the apparently permanent New Abnormal are surely chafing. So I'm happy to offer some relief from the liveliness of Portland's streets or the equally disturbing deadness of Melbourne's: over three years' worth of my audio adaptations of classic fiction starting with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's cracking tale of an early conflict between jihadists and westerners in The Tragedy of the Korosko. To access them all, please see our easy-to-navigate Netflix-style Tales for Our Time home page. We've introduced a similar tile format for my Sunday Poems and also for our audio and video music specials.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club three years ago, and I'm overwhelmed by all those members across the globe who've signed up to be a part of it - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Cook County to the Cook Islands, West Virginia to the West Midlands. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone.
That said, we are offering our Club members a few extras, including our monthly audio adventures by Dickens, Conrad, Kafka, Gogol, H G Wells, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Louis Stevenson - plus a couple of pieces of non-classic fiction by yours truly. You can find them all here. We're very pleased by the response to our Tales - and we even do them live on our annual Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming such ventures are ever again permitted, and sometimes with special guests.
I'm truly thrilled that one of the most popular of our Steyn Club extras these last three years has been our nightly radio serials. If you've enjoyed them and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our special Club Gift Membership. Aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The chance to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, Mark's Mailbox, and our other video content;
~My video series of classic poetry;
~Booking for special members-only events, such as The Mark Steyn Christmas Show;
~Priority booking for the next Mark Steyn Cruise, assuming we're ever again allowed to hold such a thing;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world (assuming "live appearances" become a thing once more);
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the opportunity to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - and don't forget that special Gift Membership. As soon as you join, you'll get access not only to Franchise but to all the other yarns gathered together at the Tales for Our Time home page.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So feel free to vote down either the tale or my reading thereof. And do join us tomorrow for the conclusion of Isaac Asimov's Franchise.