Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson, Narrated by Jim Meskimen

Jack Williamson managed to craft a different sort of werewolf tale with Darker Than You Think, creating whole new mythology along the way and tethering it all with the cutting-edge science–and pseudoscience–available at the time the story was written. It’s a strange thing that more writers didn’t take his lead and incorporate elements of this mythology in novels written since the 1940s.
The narrative follows Will Barbee, a reporter with close ties to members of a concluded expedition into the Gobi desert. On scene when the leader of the expedition experiences a sudden, suspicious death just as he’s preparing to make a grave announcement regarding their discoveries, Barbee doggedly pursues the story he knows is there. What follows is a disorienting melange of waking life and dreams, the questionable nature of reality, and the blurred line where fact meets fiction.
At its core, Darker Than You Think is a tale of a millennia-long conflict between human beings and a close relative hiding in plain sight while preying on humanity. Centuries before, humankind had thought they won the war; but a rising tide of Homo lycanthropus has been utilizing advances in scientific understanding to build their numbers and grow in strength. Awaiting the emergence of the Child of Night who will lead them to a golden age for their kind, the lycanthropes have only one thing to fear, an ancient weapon humanity can use against them, recovered on the expedition to the deserts of Mongolia.
A race against time ensues as Will Barbee, led by the enchanting April Bell, struggles to discover the nature of this weapon and neutralize the threat it poses.
The pulpy writing style of the times is a refreshing transition from modern literature. Though the identity of the Child of Night was so predictable that any discerning reader will have it figured out shortly after the mystery is proposed, the story is still an enjoyable one. Will Barbee comes across as almost painfully stupid at times, and his denial of what he’s experienced is stretched far beyond what should be credible for even the most disoriented and frightened individual.
Jim Meskimen’s narration is perfectly suited for a book written in the 1940s, sounding almost like the narrator of the radio dramas popular at the time. He captures the feel of the times in a way a lot of narrators might struggle to embody.

One thought on “Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson, Narrated by Jim Meskimen

  1. At least the werewolves of the story aren’t confused for zombies, going … brains? … brains here? …. brains?? I LIKE A BOOK THAT KNOWS ITS LYCANTHROPES. I must say, your statements that the character doesn’t believe what’s in front of his nose puts me off. Just as a novel should be grounded in some form of reality, a character should feel like he could actually exist and react in as realistic a manner as possible, not defying the laws of character-building, such as they are. Bad book. *slaps the book’s spine* Bad book.

    — Catxman



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