If you need a twenty-minute nightly respite from the 24/7 hyper-politics of the next week, welcome to the fortieth audio adventure in our popular series Tales for Our Time and our annual Halloween horror story. Before we get to this year's chiller, thank you for all your kind comments, still incoming, about The Prisoner of Windsor, my contemporary inversion of The Prisoner of Zenda. Washington State Steyn Clubber Gary Alexander writes:
Before starting this latest gem, I want to HIGHLY recommend you all do some 'binge listening' to The Prisoner of Windsor if you haven't started it. I listened to two and said 'He can't keep this up,' but he did. This parody of today's insanity is best piled upon your ear and brain in generous multi-chapter portions per day. It FINALLY makes that stupid emoji symbol "Rolling on the Floor Laughing" make some sort of sense.
Kudos to Mark for writing and delivering this modern masterpiece filled with zingers and comic voices a tonic for this time of total insanity in all other media.
That's very generous of you, Gary. Too kind. But maybe we'll do a Rupert of Hentzau sequel for next year.
Ahead of that, you'll be glad to hear that for our fortieth tale we're eschewing this Steyn bloke in favor of a genuine practicing author. Well, actually, he was a practicing physician - and the guy he was practising on was Lord Byron. They were holed up in the meteorologically miserable "year without a summer" of 1816 in a Swiss villa, with three house guests of artistic bent and partial to literary parlor games. And from one such late-night competition came two of the great enduring creatures of the horror genre, as I recount in my introduction. The first was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; the second was the work of the doctor in the house, John William Polidori:
It happened that in the midst of the dissipations attendant upon a London winter, there appeared at the various parties of the leaders of the ton a nobleman, more remarkable for his singularities, than his rank. He gazed upon the mirth around him, as if he could not participate therein. Apparently, the light laughter of the fair only attracted his attention, that he might by a look quell it, and throw fear into those breasts where thoughtlessness reigned. Those who felt this sensation of awe, could not explain whence it arose: some attributed it to the dead grey eye, which, fixing upon the object's face, did not seem to penetrate, and at one glance to pierce through to the inward workings of the heart; but fell upon the cheek with a leaden ray that weighed upon the skin it could not pass. His peculiarities caused him to be invited to every house; all wished to see him, and those who had been accustomed to violent excitement, and now felt the weight of ennui, were pleased at having something in their presence capable of engaging their attention...
And thus we meet the Vampyre - eight decades before Bram Stoker and Count Dracula.
To hear the first part of The Vampyre, prefaced by my own introduction to Mr Polidori's tale, Mark Steyn Club members should please click here and log-in.
If you find yourself with insufficient horrors this first Hallocovideen, don't forget our previous tales of dread, including Algernon Blackwood's story of The Wendigo, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and H G Wells on The Island of Dr Moreau. Oh, and we also have a black cat to cross your path.
Unless you're the looting type, seven months of lockdown, looting and the apparently permanent New Abnormal have surely taken their toll. So I'm happy to offer some relief from the liveliness of Philadelphia's streets or the equally disturbing deadness of Marseille's: three-and-a-half 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 over 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 The Vampyre 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, if you dislike my foray into vampirism and think I deserve to get it in the neck, feel free to chow down. And do join us tomorrow for Part Two of John William Polidori's The Vampyre.