Yesterday I read the first publication of the first issue of a planned twelve issue comic book series entitled Providence.
Written by Alan Moore, and with art by Jacen Burrows, this is capital L literature in comic book form.
This is the Shakespeare of comics – with depths of horror and pathos virtually unparalleled, and exquisitely rendered.
Unlike great prose or even the magic of great poetry, comics allow for visual symbols, that, like the iconic images of film, can wordlessly move you, haunt you.
You will die soon. Your being is fragile. You have a very tenuous grip on this mote of dust, itself in orbit around a very dim candle, in an abandoned cathedral of stars spinning meaninglessly meaninglessly alone, and yet amongst all these billions of others alone in a vast universe of darkness, and though our ever-weakening grip on an existence that we, deep down, know will not last, there is a certain pleasure in seeing that doomed life reflected in great fiction.
I count myself lucky to live in a time when the great works of literature are as accessible as they are. And despite all the grey dross we must wade through to find that which we seek, there is something wonderful that happens when a work of such depth of quality is published within one’s own lifetime.
I urge you – do not miss the opportunity to experience Providence for yourself.
Below you will see that I have compiled a series of images from the first issue of Providence. In so doing I am picking up just one visual pairings that, when I noticed it, multiplied my depth of appreciation for this work of art.
There are many many others.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1915, Blackwood’s Magazine, a propaganda novel, the propaganda ministry, pro-empire, Buchan’s later job, Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, the Orson Welles adaptation, Mercury Theater, Welles’ propaganda pieces, Nazis invading Canada (Nazi Eyes On Canada), ultima thule, if Operation Sea Lion had worked…, Nazis in Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, Isle de Crozet, the coolest island ever, Jules Verne, why does our hero go to Scotland?, veldcraft, Greenmantle, Richard Hannay, the comic, Brian thought it was a riot, a brisk read, elegant prose, the BBC Radio documentary on John Buchan, judging everything, “subjective”, coincidences, sooo convienient, the human civilization, The Riddle Of The Sands by Erskine Childers, another sneaky German plot, the Patrick O’Brian books, the invasion novel genre, mining British harbours, u-boats, a shocking incident, Scapa Flow, Winston Churchill, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household is the WWII version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Constantine Karolides, war was inevitable, popular in the trenches?, Hannay eats well on the run, cliffhangers, Adrian Praetzelis, a semi-bald archaeologist, Jesse’s dream theory, tired of London …. not enough exercise … lo and behold a murder plot… sleep and dream and wake, a Freudian sense of everything being really nearby, the climax became surreal, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, how to deal with those in between, The Prisoner Of Zenda, “honestly this is impossible”, boys own adventure, James Bond, Dracula, how do these things work in detail, I’m pretty good with disguise, a sign of good writing, villain to do lists, don’t lock the hero in a room filled with explosives, act like you belong there, the roadman scenes, the milkman was a precedent, disguise as psychology, ridiculous of imposture, the speaker at the liberal candidates meetings scene, Australia or free-trade, Asquith, Liberals, free-trade within the empire, as satisfying as a mortician, the eloquence of an emigration agent, a ripping speech Twizden, Hammond, something that always changes is the meaning of the title, the Black Stone (Schwartz Stein), when you’re Lord Tweedsmuir…, Jonathan Harker, ordinance survey maps, the corridors of power, having the power of the British Empire at your back, the reward, doubt about British command, yesterday 100 years ago, the Gallipoli campaign, unilateral disarmament, the secret pact, the French are hyper-competent, playing along, just go over the top, your reward is to go to the Western Front, Greenmantle is the direct sequel, the supremely confident at veldcraft, the Germans had found a Muslim prophet, Islam as a powder-keg, the Mesopotamian campaign, a very personal battle while armies clash, a secret history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Duelists by Joseph Conrad, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, The Red Panda Adventures by Gregg Taylor, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Captain Canuck, Declare by Tim Powers, Kim Philby, Brian’s WWI kick, the Eastern front (Turkey vs. Russia), Duel For Kilimanjaro: Africa 1914-1918, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the opening antisemitism (an international banking conspiracy) is just a smokescreen, crazy conspiracy theories, you only believe the unbelievable tale, a wink to the audience, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The United States Of Paranoia by Jesse Walker, the “stab in the back theory”, conspiracies, the Black Hand, seeing the novel in its context, period magazines, stepping into a time machine, having perspective, don’t have secret treaties with France, a landward in Asia, The DaVinci Code, The Grove of Ashtaroth, the Canaanite goddess, Rhodesia, clearing of the land, a weird fiction version of colonialism, Buchan wrote 101 books, Witch Wood (BBC Radio drama), big in to Buchan, Huntingtower, Mr Standfast, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot, Lovecraft’s parody “Wastepaper”, a pre-modern guy, unthinking ideas, a moral victory over the enemy, panache or élan, Memory Hold-the-Door by John Buchan, Canada’s current Governor General (David Johnston), Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, “chloroform in print”, Mark Twain, Fred’s novel is in beta (The Devil’s Dictum), wait fifty years and read the Wikipedia entry, our assessment of things, Shakespeare was too sad or too gory, why teach Julius Caesar? because it has no sex, the Hugos blew up, Ancillary Justice, changing the markets, Bowdlerizing the past, The Tempest, classic science fiction info dump, Miranda is falling asleep, Mr Jim Moon’s take on The Thirty-Nine Steps, the mystery run-around, the Jason Bourne films, stalking on-the-run travelogue format, Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, a British form of pulp, adaptations, North By Northwest, the 2008 TV adaptation the u-boat in a loch, Alfred Hitchock, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Ring, the lack of women, adding women, shoveling women into adaptations, it’s all for Fred’s mom, there’s a gun in the pram, Hannay has an afro in the 1978 adaptation, the ministry of espionage, Mr Memory, the comics adaptation, a bridge to far, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, with access to itching powder…, expansive imagination, in the Twilight books the heroine is a complete cipher, WWI books, WWII books, Armed Forces Editions, the post war interest in H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance in the South Pacific.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #316 – The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick; read by Mike Vendetti. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 15 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Paul, and Mike.
Talked about on today’s show:
1954, The God Who Runs, bad titles, Next, Homo Aureus, The Man In The high Castle (TV series), hashtag marketing, an episode of The Twilight Zone, the film adaptation, Knowing, a working train-wreck, the main character has no sapience, autism, the diner scene, not just an exposition scene, the fake salesman, a lady with 8 boobs, shades of Total Recall, he’s looking for Jews, the secret police, the DCA are the secret police, the locals protect the mutant, Philip K. Dick:
“Here I am saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn’t want to lead us. Maybe from their super-evolved lofty level we wouldn’t seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren’t.”
what we did to the neanderthals, this is super X-Men, the John W. Campbell mutants vs. the Philip K. Dick mutants, House Of M, for those who are not Tamahome…, Spider-Man trying to “pass” as a mutant, the Scarlet Witch can re-write reality, to the beginnings of the superhuman genre, the origins of Superman, powerful superheroes are going to save us, Astounding -> Analog, John W. Campbell was obsesses with psychic powers being a science, mutation as evolution up, Slan by A.E. van Vogt, “fans are slans”, a lot of stuff going on, looking into the future, this so isn’t a movie, they just put a golden tint on the film-stock for Next, single word titles, Audible ratings, a story that is repulsive to everybody, we are the monsters, Audible’s return policy, Mike grew up in the Cold War era, Mutual Assured Destruction, no real external threat anymore, the Soviets have their own DCA, all the “deves” are getting “euthed”, Cris Johnson is the character’s name in the book and the movie, Dick was really interested in what happened in Nazi Germany, the atomic war caused all these mutations, the diner scene again, they’re everywhere!, the Johnson family seem to love Cris, he’s got the James Bond gene, women can’t resist, the unfaithful wives (and husbands), the crappy Wikipedia summary, can they sterilize everybody, they know this is the end, Cris can never be outmaneuvered, the whole last 40 minutes of Next didn’t happen, the movie does a good job of illustrating how Cris’ super-power would work, Groundhog Day, computer save gaming, because Cris can’t talk…, how we interact with NPCs in computer games is how Cris is interacting with everyone around him, we’re all sort of trapped like that, marketing it as a X-Men or superhero type story, imaging a dollhouse and all the different possibilities he could do, Philip K. Dick is Mr. Innovative, a chilling world that’s pretty much like ours, a very ’50s feel in terms of the country and random energy shields, the X-Men explanation for mutation (atomic bomb testing), The Crawlers by Philip K. Dick, the golden man is beautiful and the crawlers are ugly, the crawlers have their own agenda, they are not seen as human, Harlan Ellison, a mutant psionic, The Skull by Philip K. Dick, “we met the enemy and he is us”, the mutant theme has dried up in SF, Deus Irae, an armless and legless hero, Tibor McMasters, a huge sense of pathos, “how come people are such assholes”, The Turning Wheel by Philip K. Dick, White Man’s Burden, what if we would have lost the war (WWII)?, Cañon City, Colorado, Mike is the man in The Man In The high Castle again, Nazis vs. Imperial Japan, the American occupation of Japan, Two Dooms by C.M. Kornbluth, occultist, even more surreal than Dick, we’re number 1 and their number 10, the werewolves (post-war German resistance against occupation), going to the movies, after the atom bomb, you never saw the Hollywood movie where the Americans invade Russia (the reverse of Red Dawn), the ridiculous premise behind the remake of Red Dawn, North Korea, auto-immune disease, the acronym-itis that sinks the ship, government conspiracies, aliens, Mexicans are aliens?, what?, what would happen if the Americans left California, don’t spread that rumor, Pacific Edge, the California drought, Washington and Oregon, archetypical Dick, A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, to quote Solaris, Dick is wise, if humans go on as Cris Johnson, this is why people are upset that their kids are autistic, he is in a sense “superior”, ok you say you want a superior being… how do you like that John W. Campbell, he’s a golden god, the Steve McQueen of mutants, a swelling torrent of sheer force!, are they having sex?, cigarettes as symbols, explicit sex, a seduction, is she going to be the mother of dragons?, Genghis Khan style, Cris is unique (for now), dumb feral cubs, dominant or recessive, there is no hope, it won’t be us, grinning wryly, In The Mouth Of Madness, every species can smell its distinction, man will be a myth, one perfectly adapted animal, more of a threat to the men than it is to the women, Species, a female golden man, that’s why you have the mutants with the eight breasts, what do you think of that? what do ya make of this?, a litter of kids needs eight arms, turning people into animals, rats, subhumans, what do ya make of that?, he’s covered in fur, how does he put on pants?, he’s like a peacock, Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp, why peahens choose peacocks with the longest tails, peahens want their male offspring to be attractive to peahens, they’re going to breed us out of business, The Turning Wheel (again), racism, H.P. Lovecraft, it’s an act!, there are mutants all around them, he’s one thing in the restaurant he’s another to the cop, a super-secret agency that everybody knows about and talks about, every family is hiding a mutant, FBI agents infiltrating anarchists groups, ATF Operation Fearless, Kafka by way of Dick, the NRA, welcome to America, Anita, sexism, nobody is clean in this fight, Cris ruins the horseshoe game (by way of saying goodbye?), a repulsive attractive powerful story, Cris’ mom, Cris’ dad, how could this story have been adapted otherwise, a stupid plot, why do the French want to blow up Los Angeles?, the movie is a train-wreck and yet…, Juliane Moore’s character is a monster, she’s driven, strapped to the Clockwork Orange chair watching CNN, that’s burying the lead, the two minute rule, he’s got no past, you have to have a past to decide what you’re going to do in the future, his present is our future, the movie has lots of problems, what was the “next” card, domestic rendition, there are people, don’t ask this question, Cris doesn’t need to speak because speaking is for planning, he’s just an animal, you have to have a past to plan.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #313 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa continue their journey through The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien with a discussion of Book II “The Ring Goes South” (aka the second half of The Fellowship Of The Ring).
Talked about on today’s show:
Many meetings; Elrond’s powerpoint at the council; Bilbo’s demands for lunch (after missing his first and second breakfasts); the science fiction info dump; Council of Elrond’s unfeasibility in today’s publishing world; council is a series of chained short stories; a whole bunch of new characters; the rhythm and pacing of Tolkien’s storytelling; the protracted timespan of the novel; crotchety Bilbo; Caradhras and the “jaw-cracker” Dwarven tongue; Sam as the mediating character; Bill the Pony; dreams and The Wizard of Oz; the inevitability of Frodo’s quest; the dreams of Boromir and Faramir; Boromir has something to prove; Boromir’s complex relationship with Aragorn; the one walkers set against the nine riders; Boromir is Gondor-centric and doesn’t see the big picture; nuclear weapons as a modern analogy for the ring, Mordor = Nazi Germany, Gondor = Russia, Canada = The Shire; Canada’s refusal of nuclear power; the importance of choices in the story; Saruman of Many Colors; “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”; subverting readers’ expectations; “I will take the ring, though I do not know the way”; the ring and addiction; Galadriel’s long battle with temptation; Caradhras again, the anthropomorphic mountain; The Mirror of Galadriel and the choice to look; Teleport = teleportation + pornography; Tolkien’s letters, and Galadriel is not the Virgin Mary; Galadriel’s soul gaze–Boromir’s response: “this is bullshit!”; Frodo’s relationship with Galadriel as fellow ring bearers; more dubious analogies: Gandalf (or Isildur) as Eisenhower; the raw deal the Stewards get in Minas Tirith; Sam’s always excluded from the meetings; Rivendell and Lothlórien’s competing bed and breakfasts; Galadriel’s gifts; The Lord of the Rings as modernized Viking sagas; Babylon 5 is Lord of the Rings in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!; Jesse has seen everything; the Moria dungeon crawl; the Lovecraftian tentacle monster; how did Gollum enter Moria; Dungeons and Dragons vs. the Tolkien estate; wolves; the reappearance of “chance”; Frodo’s perilous sturgeon Amon Hen; repeated references to star- and moonlight; the strange nature of Elf magic; a digression about bears, bees, honey, and wolves; the Elven cloaks vs. Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak; the nature of the other rings; race conflicts in Middle Earth and the fairness of blindfolds; the film’s vulgarization of dwarves; the poetry of Middle Earth; the complexities of a multilingual world; “nom de traveling”; black swans on the Great River; Jesse is a “philosophically-trained Elvish dude”; white swans and symbolic logic; not many big predators in Middle Earth; Romantic ideas of nature; vegetarians and vegans in Middle Earth; the slippery slope of vegetarian logic; orcs in Lord of the Rings vs. goblins in The Hobbit; George MacDonald’s Goblin Princess; the etiology of the orcs; Sauron’s exploits in Númenor (read: Atlantis or Ultima Thule) before the ring; Robert E. Howard’s Conan is an Atlantean; multiple readings; what are the rest of the dwarves up to?; bosses and minibuses in Moria; Legolas, Gimli, and intercultural stress in Middle Earth; looking forward to The Two Towers; Maissa is still on board as a first-time reader.
Posted by Seth
The SFFaudio Podcast #312 – Soft by F. Paul Wilson; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Fred.
Talked about on today’s show:
Humphrey Bogart, reading at school, Jesse’s job, Korean academy (Hagwon), enrichment, H.P. Lovecraft, writing poems about ghosts, Tiger moms, Korean Hogwarts, a period piece, the 5″ black&white TV screen, an emergency television?, a Casio LCD Walkman sized TV, body horror, tentacles, the rats are people?, a TV adaptation?, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, the ending, what’s happened to George, clinging to their immunity, two weighted drapes, repopulating the Earth, 1950s actors, Protecting Project Pulp, Sex Slaves Of The Dragon Tong, Edgar Rice Burroughs, pulp era racism, Edgar Allan Poe, black people are conspicuously absent from most of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, Poe’s only interested in the deaths of beautiful women, is F. Paul Wilson libertarian?, what happens after the story’s end?, not many are left alive, The Walking Dead, the empty city, i09’s apocalyptic, zombie stories, World War Z, a partial zombie story, the introduction from Between Time and Terror edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, the allegorical treatment of the AIDS epidemic, New York City, Cary Grant, what is Brad Pitt’s catchphrase, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hidden McBain movie in The Simpsons, watching movies on TV, a rumpus room?, the dying living room, reviving the living room?, you’re all alone together, Merlin, so ’80s, the Star Wars movies, what happened?, ’70s movies are now incomprehensible, we need training to appreciate old movies, the difference between the Watchmen movie and the Watchmen comic, new RoboCop vs. old RoboCop, V For Vendetta, Hugo Weaving’s performance as V, Fred’s kids, they can never a Jedi be, Yoda is wrong about everything, Dr. Smith from Lost In Space, David Brin, the nostalgia of old movies as a way of escaping the horrible pain of reality, an uncomfortable feeling of liking apocalyptic stories, weirdly self-flattering, zmobies are the force of nature we refuse to acknowledge, Robert J. Sawyer, the medical cure for death is coming, denying death vs. embracing death, Night Of The Living Dead, a memento mori, this story is about Viagra, an episode of Senifeld, …what was left of my legs, a great first line, a newscaster still out there, they’re all Jell-O in their apartment buildings, the Libertarian streak, does he have the cure, Ray Kurzweil, the basic premise of all life so far discovered in the universe, no matter how many pills he takes, fish oil revolutionized Fred’s life, a more wide ranging curiosity, fishy burps, its a pill of course its good for me!
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #311 – Ethan Brand by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged recording of the story (44 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie, Seth, and Rose.
Talked about on today’s show:
The story as a “culminate chapter” to an unfinished novel; H.P. Lovecraft’s description of the story in his essay on supernatural fiction (see our Podcast of the Seven Gables); Ethan Brand as Byronic (anti)hero; Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft; the uncanny nature of laughter; Hawthorne’s Biblical allegory; “Puritans and sin, they go hand in hand”; Ethan Brand and Adam’s search for forbidden knowledge; the almost-total absence of women in the story; the vices of the townspeople in the story; Hawthorne’s regret of the Salem witch trials; parallels to House of the Seven Gables; Hawthorne’s sense of humor; similarities to Goethe’s Faust; the Jew and his picture box; how the Holocaust ruined our reading of literature; what exactly does Ethan Brand see in the picture box?; the biblical story of Job; the intersection of sin and evil; the sin of suicide–can it be absolved?; the ambiguity of the final laughter; morality vs. intellect; the multifaceted symbolism of the story’s final image; association with Cain and Abel; double meaning of the name Brand; the internal nature of Brand’s sin; the image of girls running off to join the circus is apparently timeless; The Heart of Ethan Brand 1944 radio drama by Weird Circle; is redemption possible?; relics, iconoclasm, and capitalism; fruitlessness of pursuing knowledge; the story’s roots in Hawthorne’s experience; staring into fire; the audio drama’s departure from evil; “Jesse does not eat babies–or even veal.”; using people as a means to an end; degrees of evil; the sin of pride; Paradise Lost; Rappaccini’s Daughter; the story’s measured tone; Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God; Dombey and Son; the dog chasing its tail; unconditional love; the alternate pronunciation of “kiln”; parallels in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; contradictions in story’s final image; white as image of purity in Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and other fairy tales; phantom limbs; more on The Happy Prince, The Selfish Giant, The Centerville Ghost by Oscar Wilde; the power of audiobooks; “hair-raising image of corruption”; Ethan Brand as a novel.
Posted by Jesse Willis