We launched The Mark Steyn Club earlier this summer, and I'm immensely heartened by all those SteynOnline supporters - from Cleveland to the Cook Islands, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Hungary to Hong Kong - who've signed up to be a part of it. 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 - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, all our movie features and songs of the week. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and being heard and being viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way. The point of The Mark Steyn Club is to come up with a way to keep funding some of the more logistically complex and labor-intensive stuff, like my interview with former Aussie PM John Howard, or the live show from Ottawa. So I thank those longtime readers, listeners and viewers who've volunteered to be part of that.
That said, we are introducing a few bonuses for our members - not locking up our regular content, which will always be free, but admitting members to a few experimental features, such as this new audio series. In Tales for Our Time I revisit some classic fiction I've mentioned in books and columns over the years - old stories that nevertheless speak to our own age. Our first serialization was The Tragedy of the Korosko by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, which you can hear here, and our second was The Time Machine by H G Wells, which you can find here. As I said when we launched this series, if it turns out a total stinkeroo, we shall never speak of it again.
But to judge from your reaction we avoided stinkeroo status. So we're back with a brand new serialization. This latest audio excitement features a novel that my old editor Judith Shulevitz calculated was one of the three most cited works of literature in the weeks after 9/11 - The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad.
As I say in tonight's introduction, for a "simple tale of the 19th century" (as the author called it) written early in the 20th century, Conrad delineated many of the features of the new Age of Terror a hundred years on - as we'll hear in the weeks ahead. For example, our headline "Calling Madness to the Regeneration of the World" comes from a famous passage in the novel, but could just as easily stand for the strategic objectives of both Islamic imperialists and antifa anarchists.
As before, we'll post an episode a day of Tale for Our Time, and you can either enjoy it as a book at bedtime half-an-hour before you lower your lamp - or pile up the chapters and listen to the whole thing on a long car journey. I always like reading stories, and I did do a little of it professionally a zillion years ago. So, if it works, we may release it as an audio book on CD or Audible a ways down the road. But for the moment it's an exclusive bonus for Mark Steyn Club members. To hear Part One of The Secret Agent, prefaced by my own introduction to the book, please click here and log-in.
If you'd like to hear this serial, all you need to do is join the Club - either for a full year or, if you suspect we're some fly-by-night shifty scammers and you want to see how it goes, a mere quarter. And, 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 opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and our other video content;
~My new quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn;
~Our new video series of classic poetry;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the chance to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
One other benefit to membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if you like or dislike this third Tale for Our Time, or consider my reading of it a bust, then feel free to comment away below. I weigh in on the comment threads myself from time to time, but, like an anarchist padding the streets of Conrad's London, only furtively and at odd hours. So it's mainly your turf, to have at it - and join us for Part Two of The Secret Agent tomorrow.