The latest edition of Sensor Sweep sent me in search of a good audiobook of Kipling’s famous proto-steampunker long story “With The Night Mail” (1905, expanded 1909). Surprisingly difficult to find on YouTube in a good reading, and Librivox search ‘knows nurthing…’. Though Librivox does actually have it, which alerts me that their keyword search is obviously duff. Even a search for kipling night doesn’t pick it up. Librivox’s one reading turns out to be echoing and not ideal, though you might fix it up in an audio editor.
But that matters not, since trusty old Archive.org brings a good result. Patrick Stacey’s version from 2020, a one-hour reading complete with “enhanced with original music and sound effects” and which he made and uploaded himself. Super. I might even recommend it in the November edition of Digital Art Live. Though there is a bit rather awkwardly cut out at 45:20 minutes, the “Rimouski drogher” section. I can see why that was cut, but the vital description of the Mark Boat and the meteorite has also gone with it.
It was in print in the U.S. McClure’s Magazine, November 1905, the first publication — unless the British magazine that published it a month later was perhaps on the news-stands before its December cover-line. It anticipated a great many new technologies, from radio to air-traffic to medical (30 year has been added to the average lifespan). Here the story is deemed set in “June 2025” rather than 2000, and opens slightly differently. There are other small differences compared to the 1909 and 1915 book versions, and the sequel opens with a quote from the original that makes yet another small change.