A Rob Hunter Reader

m4b audiobooks
(click pictures to enlarge, titles for story)

Song of the Rice Barge Coolie

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Ginny Levitan and her husband, Jim, are inspecting a possible retirement home at the outset of Rob Hunter’s “The Song of the Rice Barge Coolie.” With the aid of real estate agent Barbara Casmirczak—“Call me Babs”—they buy the odd dwelling and soon discover they have an ant infestation. Later, Ginny discovers that Jim is having an affair with busty Babs. What raises this above the typical tale of marital discord is the alternating sections told from the ants’ POV. While the snappy dialogue between the humans is quite clever, the early sections dealing with the ants are outstanding. Which leads to my only real complaint. Having set up this round-robin style of twin narratives, the author dispenses with the ants’ POV a little ways into the story. I can understand the need to do so, but as Ginny becomes the cuckolded wife, I found myself missing the finely depicted ant world of The Lady Mother of the Long Walkers, which felt like a well-crafted world of high fantasy. A small grumble on my part as they do appear again, of course.

—Marshall Payne, in The Fix-online, October 14, 2000

The Queen's Head

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“Things were good. The times of the ancestors were stable and prosperous taken all in all. The folk were well-fed and knew who and where they were. There was no disruption of the social fabric.” The storyteller nodded and smiled as though to himself. He plucked a dolorous chord from his lyre. “‘There are strange things done ’neath Califoux’s sun...’ A human song. They styled themselves merchant princes come to seed the stars with a gospel of wealth without work: a thing they called ‘growth.’ I have heard them at it myself. They said they were only seeking a place to land and trade...” The children sensed a wondrous secret about to be divulged. “And pay their taxes... Heh-heh-heh. The Queen and her Tetrarch in His wisdom allowed them to land their starships.” The storyteller rocked back and forth on his heels, pleased, and waited to be asked for more.

—The Queen’s Head

The Orange Virgin

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Lechery, debauchery, total annihilation, the usual stuff as two prime movers contend for power. Not power to do anything in particular, threaten, coerce, destroy: illuminate a city, tighten the skeins of a siege engine, or wind up the bowels of a child’s clockwork toy, just power to have around. Just in case. Just the familiar, reassuring bulge of potential, there to quiet unease was not much to ask. But who to ask?
(runtime 9 ¾ hours)

—The Return of the Orange Virgin

The Runaway Bungalow

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Oswaldo Patricio Meléndez O’Rourke y Nuñez arrived with a backpack of laundry and a Mac 10 machine pistol. The path from the rocky beach where he had scrambled ashore became a set of steps, then a gravel road, then a short street clustered with the mercantile establishments that decorate small town life. Oswaldo noticed that yellow lines had been painted to assist an inexperienced parker. Hoping to be inconspicuous he paused to rest beside a vehicle that might look as though he and it belonged together. He watched as a woman attacked the doors of the supermarket across the street, strange behavior for even an American. She seemed to be trapped inside. Oswaldo slipped from the harness of his backpack and let it fall. There was a metallic clunk as it hit the pavement. From the dropped backpack came a muffled protest. “Ouch!” One sock and most of a very soiled sweater stuck out where a zipper had jammed.

“Uh, Santo—that is you?”

“Sí, niño. And you are having an epiphany, a spiritual experience—these happen all the time ”

“Not to me, Santo.”

—The Runaway Bungalow

Mark Twain in Milan

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The blue aurora quivered and a woman popped out of thin air beside me. She was togged out in a tweed-and-velvet something that clung agreeably as she moved, and swinging a serious looking cavalry saber. A veil covered her face and head. She brushed aside the veil and peeped out. She gave me the once-over and attacked. I ducked.

The breeze of the sword’s passage sounded just like in the ninja movies. I made a note of this. “Ow!” I landed on my tukhes.

Her pale gray eyes grew huge. “Oh, terribly sorry, old chap. I thought you were someone else,” she said. “Are you still alive?” I said yes. “I say, good fun, what?” she remarked. A bullet zinged past and she dived under the desk. Under the desk seemed to be appropriate; I dived too.

—Mark Twain in Milan

Mark Twain in Milan

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There was something wrong. If not wrong, decidedly not right. At least out of place. This was disturbing. The sun slanted at a low angle through a paned glass aperture and was refracted by a dangling prism in an overstuffed gift kiosk. A large insect clothed in the flowing yellow robes of a religious adept wandered over. Reaching out a palp to steady himself, he fell against a rack stuffed with pre-packaged entertainments, their lurid packaging positioned to attract a traveler’s retail impulses. Some spoke with tiny voices, “Hot, hot, go here!” “Romance, love, lust!” The quiet ones drew his attention.

The beewolf turned to the mirror of a gumball machine and preened. He had the feeling that someone was watching him. “I am a confidence operator. Right now I am losing confidence.” He spoke to his reflection.

—The Beewolf

The file extension .m4b defines the file as specific type of audiobook in the same way .mp3 defines a specific type of audio file. You are invited to browse the .mp3s at onetinleg.com’s audio download section. These downloads are released under a Creative Commons license; they’re free. An m4b audiobook is very similar to an audio album made of .mp3 files. The biggest difference is that the m4b will bookmark or remember your place in a file when you stop. These are zip files; you will have to unzip the files after the download completes.

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