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
The SFFaudio Podcast #306 – The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe; read by Mike Vendetti. This is an unabridged reading of the story (49 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, Bryan Alexander, and Mike Vendetti
Talked about on today’s show:
LibriVox.org, Audible.com, a Reader’s Digest version, a ponderous vocabulary, prolixity, Poe the hoaxer, the part of him that invented the mystery short story, a corpse flower, this is what Lovecraft does, “he’s done his research!”, words made by mad men, mapping the elephant’s outline, the movies, the comics, the Wikipedia entry, The Haunted Palace by H.P. Lovecraft, the Roger Corman movie, the poem is the outline for the story, the history of the house of usher, dead trees with white trunks, New Jersey, the lutes well tuned law, porphyrogene – “born to the purple”, synecdoche, a photo negative, upside down and inverted, golden banners, the fungi, The Tell Tale Heart, The Bells, a republic society in love with aristocracy and royalty, The Masque Of The Red Death is a dystopia, Hop Frog, “its beautiful … but horrible things happen”, John Buchan, broken off pieces of themselves, Thomas A. Shippey, the Vatican astronomer, no titles allowed anymore, Queen Elizabeth II, Br. Guy Consolmagno, absentee royalty, a super-mix, “evil things in robes of sorrow”, entombed, equating architecture and person, you can’t separate Roderick from his sister, “I heard it man”, why did he dare not speak?, buried alive, twins and twinning, the 1989 adaptation of The Fall Of The House Of Usher, why they can’t just tell the story in adaptations, this is hospice care, was Roderick tormented by his twin sister?, I see a skull, the house is a skull, the trees are ribs or arm bones, a ghost, dying of old age, reason, rationality, Guy de Maupassant’s Who Knows, the furniture represents the faculties, the end of The Life Of Pi, the miasma, an unhealthy atmosphere, in awe of Poe, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor, the Usher stump, the stump of the tree of Jesse, a tottering mind, everything’s lined with copper, a Frankenstein motif, a long family line of incest, “it had put forth no enduring branch”, “so lain”, viewing it as a story about incest, set in the location of Hammer Horror, Middle Lovecraft, seeing Lovecraft through Poe, a cyclopean vocabulary, H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Weird Tales edited by Douglas A. Anderson, crazy complicated sentences, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, CraftLit, the prologue to The Scarlet Letter, reading Poe aloud, Supernatural Horror In Literature, oral cadence, the very summits of artistry, fictional miniaturists, Ligeia, another dead woman story, so Lovecraft, he loves his architecture, “sharing a single soul”, the crack, “the eye of a scrutinizing observer”, laughing out loud, the unnamed narrator is of the same class as Roderick, context for the story, science stories, buried alive stories, The Pit And The Pendulum, sense experience, again New Jersey, Italy, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, weird fiction out to wazoo, why do they do that?, demented messed up stories, Young Goodman Brown, Rappaccini’s Daughter, supernatural elements, sense experience, an utter depression of soul, the after dream of the reveler upon opium, the dropping of the veil, the veil of dreams, the after-dream is after the dream?, the veil is beautiful, a shout-out to Thomas de Quincey, crawling fungi, red-litten windows, “laugh but smile no more”, coffin worms, creeping into the crypt to often, The Conqueror Worm, a foreshadowing, reasons for laughter vs. reasons for smiling, the hideous throng, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, premature burial, Buried (2010), The Death of Olivier Bécaille by Emile Zola, Weird Tales, Poe is a hilarious writer, punning and japing, Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning, Dead Families 101, How To Repair Your Doomed House, The Man Who Collected Poe by Robert Bloch, wacky moments, The Cask Of Amontillado, deGrave wine, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, Jervas Dudley as one of the Usher descendants, a lot more Poey, there are not a lot of sisters in Lovecraft, The Moon Pool by A. Merritt, The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, comparing Poe to Lovecraft, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, The Dreams In The Witch House, the novella (short story) vs. the novel, it starts off as a horror tale, What The Moon Brings, Ireland, a little bit ushery,
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #303 – READALONG: The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe
Talked about on today’s show:
1838, Poe’s only completed novel, Paul’s Poe years, The Tell-Tale Heart, a macabre sort of phase, Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, fix-ups, Premature Burial, Ms. Found In A Bottle, The Oblong Box, The Gold Bug, secret codes, Poe is old and public domain and not particularly racist, The Pit And The Pendulum, the Poe theme, the death of a beautiful woman is conspicuous by her absence, the meta-commentary, Tristram Shandy, The Cask Of Amontillado, a dog named Tyger (burning bright?), William Blake, Jules Verne, An Antarctic Mystery, Ms. Found In A Copper Cylinder, Antarctica, “Ms. Found In A…”, “it was begun to have been serialized”, fake stories as true stories, Captain Cook’s Antarctic expeditions, “a labyrinth of lumber”, how to load a ship, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Washington Irving, SF as a generally American phenomenon, a slow creep of fantastic elements, full-blown surrealism, the drinking, on the Grampus, dressing like a ghost, another phantom in white, “Mr. Pym is not available”, a genuine narrative, missing islands, a metaphor for alcoholism, sailing in a storm, half-sunk/drunk, echoes, the plague ship, the Penguin, echoes, all these lies, a note from the Wikipedia entry, fictional analogues for real events, autobiographical drinking, The Lighthouse by Edgar Allan Poe (a fragment), “I expected to inherit some money”, money problems, “he’s pouring his troubles into this manuscript”, this is Poe’s version of Dude, Where’s My Car?, an unreliable narrator, an excellent story, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, albatrosses, thematic similarities, they eat many birds, “an unmentionable thought”, subsequent cannibalism, the same ghost ship as in Rime?, Antarctic spirits, H.P. Lovecraft, the subtitle:
Comprising the Details of Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on Board the American Brig Grampus, on Her Way to the South Seas, in the Month of June, 1827. With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivers; Their Shipwreck and Subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; Their Deliverance by Means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the Brief Cruise of this Latter Vessel in the Atlantic Ocean; Her Capture, and the Massacre of Her Crew Among a Group of Islands in the Eighty-Fourth Parallel of Southern Latitude; Together with the Incredible Adventures and Discoveries Still Farther South to Which That Distressing Calamity Gave Rise.
who wrote the subtitle?, they didn’t have the concept of spoilers, the opposite of a spoiler, The Savage Land (Marvel Universe), Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot, a hollow earth theory, this is a Science Fiction book in a strange sense, what’s with the multi-layered coloured water?, the strange creatures, the creature’s corpse in the white waters, is Australia a place?, At The Mountains Of Madness, why Poe is not in outer space, basically these Antarctic people are aliens, this is very Stanley G. Weinbaum (A Martian Odyssey), Michael Moorcock’s Seas Of Fate, H. Rider Haggard, duplicitous natives in the black land, what will be in the white lands?, a heavily read book (in the 19th century), The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, when Lovecraft describes it…, haunted by the architecture of homes, Lovecraft’s description of Pym:
“In the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym the voyagers reach first a strange south polar land of murderous savages where nothing is white and where vast rocky ravines have the form of titanic Egyptian letters spelling terrible primal arcana of earth; and thereafter a still more mysterious realm where everything is white, and where shrouded giants and snowy-plumed birds guard a cryptic cataract of mist which empties from immeasurable celestial heights into a torrid milky sea.”
pouring into the hollow Earth?, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, At The Earth’s Core, Kublah Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, leaving the ending open to the reader, how will he get back to Nantucket?, the names A. Gordon Pym and E. Allan Poe, framing devices, The Turn Of The Screw, a framing device gives the reader an extra distance, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Robert Silverberg’s The Secret Sharer, the southern polar bear, “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li.” the face of an open book, downy feathers, what does it mean?, whiteness, philological scrutiny, “white-phobic”, the audiobook narration, copyright, a total Poe thing to do, Poe loved cryptography, Poe would be writing in Elvish, a font nerd, hanging out with Charles Stross and Alan Moore, can you imagine Poe at a Worldcon?, a drunkard’s story, shoplifting at The Innsmouth Bookshop, Fungi From Yuggoth XV: Antarktos:
Deep in my dream the great bird whispered queerly
Of the black cone amid the polar waste;
Pushing above the ice-sheet lone and drearly,
By storm-crazed aeons battered and defaced.
Hither no living earth-shapes take their courses,
And only pale auroras and faint suns
Glow on that pitted rock, whose primal sources
Are guessed at dimly by the Elder Ones.
If men should glimpse it, they would merely wonder
What tricky mound of Nature’s build they spied;
But the bird told of vaster parts, that under
The mile-deep ice-shroud crouch and brood and bide.
God help the dreamer whose mad visions shew
Those dead eyes set in crystal gulfs below!
the black cone, the primal sources, Lovecraft quoting himself, that shrouded white figure, “Tekeli-li don’t kill the albatross”, Lemuria, Thule, the novel as a journey, how do you return from the surreal?, what happened to Tyger?, they ate him!, Dirk Peters (so manly he has two penises), Tyger’s collar, someone was going to drown the dog, poor Tyger, a horrendously awful horrifying experience, when Paul Theroux visited Jorge Luis Borges he read him The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, Borges thought Pym was Poe’s greatest work, the interest in the meta, strange runes, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, deep into madness (not drunken madness), genetic disease or confronting reality, The Call of Cthulhu, dreams, a fever dream?, forgetting, a change in tenses, the missing two or three final chapters, Xeno’s paradox, a Mercator map, and Greenland, is that all racism?, “a nautical negro”, Toni Morrison, the black cook, don’t go into a tiny box-canyon with natives of any colour, scrupulously honest, earlier bushwhacked voyagers, going piratical?, going whaling?, the mutiny, Mr. Starbuck, why is Pym stowing away in the first place?, the captain that ran them down was drunk, boating skills, Treasure Island, Augustus’ father, the inexplicable weevils, “taking liberally from the spirits”, this narrative is full of holes, a free sea voyage, Pym is a teenager, everybody has a boat on Nantucket, an adventure of a lifetime, Pym is “not available”, Jeremiah N. Reynolds, Poe’s last word was “Reynolds”, a possibly apocryphal story, Mocha Dick, the long conversation of conversation of Science Fiction, Moby Dick is in dialogue with Pym and Mocha Dick, bibliographic archaeology, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, in a dinghy, considering cannibalism, drawing straws, “and dropped like stones”, did their bones dropped likes stones?, the narrator becomes more and more unreliable, dis-masted, a teetotaler who drinks only coffee.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
North ANGER! Abbey, this is a comedy, parody and meta-gothic novel, The Mysteries Of Udolpho, an inversion, Jane Austen is hilarious, The Jane Austen Book Club (the movie), documentaries, “its very meta”, her first (and almost) last novel, the advertizement from the authoress, fashions of literature and clothing, Tilney and Thorpe, the price of everything, a braggart, going afoul, a terrible sketch,
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz, don’t just believe what everybody teaches you, desperate characters, Pride And Prejudice, letting you think, going along, women are supposed to be passive, a woman’s only right is to refuse, railroaded by stronger personalities, “…born to be an heroine”, a mundane life, Catherine is living her life in the third person as a Gothic romance heroine, 1,000 alarming presentiments, romance subverted, The Mysteries Of Udolpho as a less realistic and hyped up version of Northanger Abbey, the labyrinth is society not Mrs. Radcliffe’s Apennines, Emma, Mrs. Allen, it’s just not done, Isabelle’s master list of Gothic Novels, “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for someone who isn’t my friend”, an open conversation, “I wish we knew someone here”, she’s 15, true to human nature, the arch narrator, hands and heads in the proper number to go around for all the children, Frederick, I’ve broken with my father, just like in a Gothic novel, the (BBC) audio drama of The Mysteries Of Udolpho, “you should really try Ursula K. Le Guin”, absolutely horrid!, the black wardrobe!, a character sketch (illustrated below), “She seized, with an unsteady hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations…”, a washing bill!, Eleanor, everything is explained, the volumes, a rushed ending?, the mysterious messenger, Henry’s true character, reining in your own imagination, Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, he’s spooking himself, the description of the birds, the slaves, New York, giving facts and making comments, we are doing a lot of the colouring, the one thing we know about readers is that they read, the reading process, the black veil <-is from The Mysteries Of Udolpho, The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a very funny (as in curious) story, Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole, supernatural elements, the refinements, the timelessness, Phyllis Whitney, Mrs. Radcliffe, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, what went wrong?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, The Devil To Pay, Sir Walter Scott, H.P. Lovecraft, Georgette Heyer, Northanger Abbey as a modern novel by Val McDermid, a YA novel, Fahrenheit 451, serving as a feeder, everybody is reading these trashy novels, an impassioned defense of the novel, you can’t live your life as if it was a novel, two movie adaptions, the 2007 ITV production, plot shorthand, Lord Byron, something terrible coming out of London, two tombstones and a lantern on the frontispiece, all of Jane Austen’s books have soldiers in them, a timeless focus on the people, when Julie met Jenny, these are characters not plots, sitting at the piano, The Many Lovers of Jane Austen, a Texas convention, with Klingons and Kirks, WWI, cigarettes and something to read, Mansfield Park, Mrs. Allen but with an edge, Juliet Stevenson as a narrator, 170 books read (in 2014), reading speed, a stumbling savourer, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, solitary reading vs. group reading, trains boost reading, “drawing room reading like singing, piano playing, and card”, scandalous reading, reading out loud, David Timson’s Dickens narrations, dramatic readings, Dickens invented the audiobook, Charles Dickens And The Great Theatre Of The World by Simon Callow, Elizabeth Klett’s reading of Carmilla, oh my!,
I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.
“Who? What? Your love? Well, that’s super”, he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters,
“…and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution.”
surrounded by children, they all have to tucked in, they’re genteel, it was wet that day, a good introduction to Jane Austen.
Posted by Jesse Willis