Happy Labor Day to all Americans, and Happy Labour Day to all Canadians - with or without U, as Bono would say. And for those waiting for the downtrodden proletariat to rise up and cast off their shackles, we have Part Three of my serialization of The Secret Agent, the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time.
This "simple tale of the 19th century", as its author called it, was published by Joseph Conrad in 1907, and sold pitifully few copies in its first years. But it survived to become one of the most enduring of Conrad's works, especially after 9/11, when its vision of terrorist cells plotting in the heart of the world's great cities became timelier than ever. In tonight's episode, the small band of political activists gather in the room behind Mr Verloc's seedy Soho shop - and we make the acquaintance of Comrade Ossipon, old Karl Yundt, and Michaelis. The last is a kind of Omar Khadr of Victorian England - a murdering terrorist released from prison and taken up by the media and society. A respectable London publisher has given him a generous advance to write a book, and a grand lady has given him a country cottage to write it in.
The preoccupations of such men have not changed much over the last century:
'I have always dreamed,' he mouthed fiercely, 'of a band of men absolute in their resolve to discard all scruples in the choice of means, strong enough to give themselves frankly the name of destroyers, and free from the taint of that resigned pessimism which rots the world. No pity for anything on earth, including themselves, and death enlisted for good and all in the service of humanityâ€”that's what I would have liked to see...'
The old terrorist turned slowly his head on his skinny neck from side to side.
'And I could never get as many as three such men together.'
Recruiting is a little easier these days.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here - and if you've only joined in recent days and missed our earlier serials, Conan Doyle's The Tragedy of the Korosko and H G Wells' The Time Machine, you can find them here. Founding Member John Wilson has been enjoying them:
I've eagerly anticipated this next installment. I don't know where you find time to produce all this, but I'm beginning to suspect there is a warehouse full of Mark Steyn clones somewhere.
That sounds like a unusually desperate sequel in the Planet of the Apes franchise. Maybe I'll pitch it to 20th Century Fox. But I'm glad you're a member, John. We have fun in The Mark Steyn Club, and in return the Club helps support all our content - whether in print, audio or video, and keep it out there in the world for everyone. In return, membership confers a few benefits (aside from Tales for Our Time):
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books and other items;
~The opportunity to take part in our Clubland Q&A sessions;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show and our other video content;
~My new quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn;
~Our occasional series of video poetry;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~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 globe.