I found a humorous reading of Mark Twain’s Taming the Bicycle on http://librivox.org/short-story-collection-001/. I could sympathize with his difficulty in learning to ride a penny-farthing bike. The proper name for this design was Ordinary Bicycle. They had a large front wheel with pedals, a small rear wheel, and no freewheel — you couldn’t coast — and just one speed — you couldn’t shift gears. Oh — no brake, either.
Librivox provides “Acoustical liberation of books in the public domain”. The readers’ voices bring life to the authors’ words. The authors include unexpected surprises: I spent a pleasant hour listening to The Defenders by Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982). (Who’s he? An imaginative writer. Hollywood based Blade Runner, The Minority Report, Paycheck, The Matrix, and Total Recall on his short stories and novels.) The Defenders introduces a world in which humans have burrowed deep into the Earth to escape radioactivity caused by a never-ending war that’s fought by robots on Earth’s surface.
The terrible destruction of total nuclear war between the Western and Eastern Blocks has succeeded in sterilizing the surface of the earth. No living creature can now exist there and all humans on both sides, have fled to the hives built miles below the surface where they constantly work to produce the war materials necessary to carry on the battle. For 8 years now, the actual fighting between these super powers has been conducted by robots known as Ledeys since only they can sustain the terrible levels of radiation caused by the constant bombardment. They are the Defenders, standing between the combatants far below and ultimate victory or defeat. Life is hard in the tunnels, but liveable, while it is lethal on the surface. The ledeys keep the generals informed on everything through vids and pictures; but how can this continue? what will happen? Who will win? (Summary by Phil Chenevert)
I look forward to listening to more Librivox readings on my smartphone. I’ll listen to more Phil Dick stories and then Edgar Allen Poe is next.
Mark Twain’s penny-farthing bicycle? Riding it sounds as daunting as riding a modern track bike: no freewheel, gears, or brakes. I’ve ridden them in a velodrome only. Some daredevils (somehow) ride them on the street. I think they’re nuts.