The SFFaudio Podcast #236 – The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard, read by Paul Boehmer (courtesy of Tantor Media’s The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (60 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Matthew Sanborn Smith, and Bryan Alexander
Talked about on today’s show:
Second-to-last Solomon Kane story chronologically, “Red Shadows” and “Wings of the Night” close contenders for Solomon Kane stories, the latter featuring harpies from Jason and the Argonauts, history of Solomon’s staff explained in other stories, fetishes (not THAT kind!), joojoo stick, magical weapons, Wandering Star edition illustrated by Gary Gianni, comic book adaptations, vampire-slaying, story uncharacteristically well-plotted including foreshadowing, “plains and hills full of lions” oh my!, lion sleeping habits, “Africa is full of never-explained mysteries” excuses plot holes, prefigures Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld movies, one of few stories to depict ‘nation of vampires’, Kiss of the Vampire (film), Transylvania, homeopathic symbolism, sex sells, ‘Howardian damsel in distress’, voodoo, feminization of the jungle, homoerotic undertones, Howard biography Blood and Thunder by Mark Finn, post-Colonial critique, vampires in fiction oscillate between sexualized and homicidal, Stephen King slams Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vampires, Nosferatu (relatively unknown at the time of this story’s writing) introduced the idea that sunlight kills vampires, the Devil as source of Kane’s lustful urges, “Howard doesn’t do metaphors very well”, vampire-zombie continuum, Howard as great visual writer, animal characteristics ascribed to Kull and Conan but not Kane, snake imagery (related to serpent in Garden of Eden?), Slave Coast, vultures, nature of the soul, “Rogues in the House” (written in one sitting while Howard had a headache), the dangers of over-interpreting Howard, Howard’s subconscious, early 20th-century magazines preoccupied with race, Cosmpolitan (it was once a literary magazine), race hierarchy, Solomon Kane less racist than Howard himself, racial hierarchy, Berbers, Solomon Kane’s conflicted personality, the New Model Army, Howard’s characters are solitary, Puritans, Kane has a death wish, Kane’s celibacy, significance of Solomon Kane’s name, Ben Jonson satirizes Puritan names (in Bartholomew Fayre), so does Terry Pratchett (in Lords and Ladies, Mormonism, concept of congregation of all believers, English Civil War and its sects, Grendel in Beowulf as descendant of Cain, Sandman comics, Kane is “always on the road”, Matthew Hopkins witchfinder general, wood imagery, we learn what a palaver is, The Dark Tower series, temptation, inquisition, H. P. Lovecraft, cohesion of Howard’s works, history of the English language, George Harrison’s coyright infringement, parallel evolution in fiction, Clark Ashton Smith, Charles Baudelaire, genocide, the importance of a shared reader-author premise, shared cultural values, Hitler, The King in Yellow, Woodrow Wilson was a racist, zombies vs. animals.
Posted by Seth Wilson
The SFFaudio Podcast #234 – Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant; read by Mark Turetsky. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (39 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mark Turetsky, and Professor Chris Coski of Ohio University.
Talked about on today’s show:
One of the last Guy de Maupassant stories, fantasy podcasts, what genre is this story?, the mysterious, the macabre, the morbid, do we buy the narrator’s story?, Am I Insane? by Guy de Maupassant, the events that happen are insane, a horror story?, a satire of Gothic horror, it is a ridiculous premise, a mental institution, is he lying?, is he deluded?, the servants, very thorough thieves, the title, Maupassant is intentionally ambiguous, there’s always a grain of the opposite, a syphilitic brain crafts a masterful short story, is it a true-ish story?, Maupassant was kind of a loner, boating among other things, Maupassant liked his solitude, touring all the European cities, THE SIGN OF DEATH PRECEDES STRANGE EVENTS, “several hours”, if the furniture is taking the place of other people…, affection for objects, The Golden Braid (aka The Tress Of Hair), falling in love with an object, the writing desk and its contents, where did the writing desk go?, his letters his papers, his personal history is now gone, deracinate , visiting new places, the history of his heart, the photographs, his emotional life, the furniture is the mental faculties, the house is him,
“Then I suddenly discerned, on the threshold of my door, an armchair, my large reading easy-chair, which set off waddling [LIKE A DUCK]. It went away through my garden. Others followed it, those of my drawing-room, then my sofas, dragging themselves along like [CROCODILES] on their short paws; then all my chairs, bounding like [GOATS], and the little foot-stools, hopping like [RABBITS].”
his desk is like a wife who’s trying to run away, the repeated refrains, “imagine my feelings”, you stop being the reader and become a participant, the revolver, marauders, the doors are alive too, Rouen, his arms were there, gun nuts, the presentiments, the river Robec, the black nauseous waters, the second hotel scene mirrors the first, is the hotel an asylum, you found your mental faculties, he checks himself in (to the hotel and the asylum), are you a private gentleman?, is the asylum is a prison?, the fat bald little yellow bearded man from Rouen with a head like a moon, grammatically it doesn’t make sense, ambiguity, THE MOON, the witch’s sabbath crescent, the play “beautiful music and fairy life drama”, he’s had a spell cast on him, “a serious accident would certainly take place”, a paralytic stroke, the sound from outside his body, a humming, trains passing, clocks, marching multitudes, “the big one”, the crescendo, “Signad” in Swedish means “designed”, Sigurd, the ring cycle, dwarves, fantasy and reality mixing, were the cops playing along?, “this house communicates with it’s neighbors”, very weird, Jesse’s tweeted dream explanation: “Dreamt an explanation for WHO KNOWS? By Guy de Maupassant – the furniture was deleted, & their dissolution was confabulated.”, not a psychological interpretation, an ontological interpretation, accidentally deleting something, SimCity, ctrl-z, not a useful miracle, an incompetent higher power, “My god, my god”, “Merciful heaven”, no grudge against, Who knows?, God knows!, a murderous schoolteacher, Revenge by Guy de Maupassant, a higher power that deletes, the short story is the only form that can be perfect, there’s something perfect, any lacuna, “a missing section of text”, the oxymoron, rude gentleness, an unbalanced situation, the insane sanity or the sane insanity, the widow Bidoin,
“He ordinarily passes his evenings at the house of a female neighbor, who is also a furniture broker, a queer sort of sorceress, the widow Bidoin”
is she married to the bald man, that Disney movie, maybe it isn’t a perfect short story, etymological searches, the tour of Africa, Sicily, Normandy, “where there hover no vague hauntings”, the missing night, a different sort of desert, Fear by Guy de Maupassant, “I had a presentiment in Africa”, “the sun dissipates it like a fog”, fear vs. panic, the spiritual gnawing of northern cultures, The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft, “God is dead but he never really was alive. The universe is real but we’re alone in it. Looking up at the starry night we are pointless, alone, with nothingness behind us, nothingness ahead of us, and its horrible.” he goes crazy because he’s alone, in the tumult of the crowd (with it’s light pollution), “there’s a shop for that down the street”, very very very small and unimportant, Lovecraft made it a monster, Eric S. Rabkin, light as the symbol for knowledge, inside the interesting chest cavity, a cosmic vastness and emptiness in which we are lost, solitude, Rouen, Rotomagus (round market or round plain) – but the word magus, J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves, great craftsmen, is the man from Roen really God?, yesterday I was in a private asylum, three months, a descent into madness, is there no lacuna in the inflexible sequence of his observations, a lacuna in which the end took place.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Simon Vance, Blackstone Audio, The Prestige (2006), explicit, cursing vs. casting spells, I’m going to trick you, a nice complement to the book, Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, Momento, The Princess Bride, epistolary, Dracula, Pike’s Peak, Colorado Springs, under the influence of the man on top of the mountain, David Bowie, Nikola Tesla, Any sufficiently advanced technology…, what is the genre?, Gothic fiction, old fashioned horror, Science Fiction, Scott’s review, Fantasy, a nice twist of Lovecraft, the deaths, “the other detective” (Jenny’s Freudian slip), a mystery, Sherlock Holmes, the prestige materials, Borden vs. Angier, Penn & Teller, seance (fake) vs. prestidigitation (the pact), the pledge -> the turn -> the prestige, you ruined our act, “when Simon Vance says…”, “some days you love me, some days you don’t”, did she know?, the honest liar, Christian Bale, does it matter who sired a child matter if you’re identical twin may have inseminated your wife?, which twin is it (the father or the uncle), Fallon, doubling, everything is doubled, a double agent, Olivia or Julia?, Andrew Wesley Borden -> Nicolas Julius Borden, Lord Caldlow, a book with two authors, revenge via tribute, A,B,C,D,E,F, what happened when the great-grandson of Borden was three years old?, a repeated pattern, a red herring, invited to Dracula’s castle, Franklin was imprisoned in California but his cult has a duplicator in the basement in England, another Angier wraith or the same one?, why Lovecraftian?, wiggling bodies, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, a return to a Gothic home, an explanation for the premise of The Outsider, did the wraith of Angier fail?, 100 times, noir, can the Tesla machine duplicate the soul?, AMAZING!, a side trip, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, wraiths, “waiting to wake up”, telepathy, addicted to transportation, pain and depression, is it a teleportation machine? a photocopier?, Star Trek‘s transporter, Think Like A Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, the metal rod, “that’s the thing about science”, “more like a real Tesla”, Tesla spoke English with an accent, Angier is American in the movie, Hugh Jackman, California, Jesus came out of the tomb, the cult denies the appearance of Franklin, a bi-locating religious fanatic, Angier’s first magic practice was at a pub called “The Land And Child”, The Church Of Christ Jesus, the history of the house, during WWII it was RAF Transport Command, Christopher Priest is really really smart, Angier -> Anger?, how the French get Angier and Angier and Angier!, his brother, because that’s what he’s looking for that’s what he sees, The Fly (1986), “explicit material”, The New Transported Man (PUN!) vs. In A Flash, a doubling and a denialing of the doubling, “he’s really stuck on the doubling”, The Lamb is The child, pointless and flat women, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, wooden women, Katherine, Borden’s wife’s journals, it’s a guy show really, everybody gets the short shrift except for these two and a half guys, where in literature are women magicians, Now You See Me, stage performance magicians, why doesn’t Luke Burrage go into magic?, Luke is the evil twin, would she wear the tophat?, Zatana (DC Comics), a female magician who acts as the assistant, a missed opportunity, Lady Katherine is very enigmatic and is playing some sort of game, a wink from The Invisible Man (by H.G. Wells), playing cards hidden under pint glasses, the James Patrick Kelly problem, killing yourself is ok if you have a copy?, Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War handwaves the problem away, they don’t rot?, was the soul transported too?, What’s with the echo?, Angier’s cancer goes into remission when the ghostly Angier gets closer, Good Kirk vs. Rapey Kirk, wimpy Kirk need the rapey Kirk, recombination, complete transfers work well for the transported Angiers, Borden’s injury, Angier’s injury, the Borden seaside history is all lies, the Bordens were cartwrights and coopers, IT’S ALL LIES, stop with the woodworking (the JESUS motif again), one of the mes, when did they start living as one man, you’re supposed to apply the lesson of the Chinese magician to the entire story, one of the few things unchanged between the book and the movie, a fake that’s also true (doubling again), the timeline is somewhat mysterious, one of the Borden’s is more of a writer and the other is more of an editor, “I’m staying with my girlfriend”, fantastic narrative, a relatively modern book that will become and remain a classic, it’s porous and open and hard, book vs. movie, Tam fell asleep and became confused, beautiful moments, Tesla is almost like a magician, he is like a wizard, brilliant genius weirdo, the nemesis, Thomas Alva Edison vs. Tesla (doubling), AC vs. DC, Edison’s DC vs. Tesla’s AC, and ultimately a synthesis, electrifying an elephant, “it’s like they were two magicians competing”, Nyarlathotep by H.P. Lovecraft is about a Tesla-like character doing essentially a Tesla-show, possibly an elder god, Dracula Edison Gothic Horror Science Fiction Horror Detective Noir Fantasy, The Inverted World, The Islanders, twins, fraternal twins vs. identical twins, the Christopher Priest Wikipedia entry, denouement, a tie-in edition of the paperbook, the movie’s editing, The Magic by Christopher Priest, David Langford’s review:
“It seems entirely logical that Christopher Priest’s latest novel should centre on stage magic and magicians. The particular brand of misdirection that lies at the heart of theatrical conjuring is also a favourite Priest literary ploy – the art of not so much fooling the audience as encouraging them to fool themselves… The final section is strange indeed, more Gothic than sf in flavour, heavy with metaphorical power. There are revelations, and more is implied about the peculiar nature of the Angier/Tesla effect’s payoff or “prestige” – a term used in this sense by both magicians. The trick is done; before and after, Priest has rolled up both sleeves; his hands are empty and he fixes you with an honest look. And yet … you realise that it is necessary to read The Prestige again. It’s an extraordinary performance, his best book in years, perhaps his best ever. Highly recommended.”
a prestigious career in newspapers, he wants to be a dead body (or many), the great reveal was surprising, Frankenstein, very much in the Gothic tradition.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #227 – The Dreams In The Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Julie Hoverson. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 42 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Hoverson, Mirko Stauch, and John Feaster.
Talked about on today’s show:
1933, a pretty terrible Lovecraft story, which story?, science fiction vs. horror, crappy cheesy, Julie’s audio drama adaptation of The Dreams In The Witch House, bad ending vs. interesting journey, nobody wants August Derleth to be right, Mirko likes it, a magnificent failure?, an unusual narrative, standard witch story #4, The Size Of The Universe by Willem de Sitter, is the Dark Man made out of dark matter?, the first fanfic Mary Sue writer, Hypnos, witches, magic, what does a being from beyond space need with baby guts, why is Nyarlathotep crusing the streets with a dude in his pajamas?, Prohibition, a supervillain squad, a nerve specialist, Herbert West, Re-Animator, Douglas Adams, space is really really really big, the total perspective vortex, Lovecraft humour, Pickman’s Model, Walter Gilman is blind to the danger, the Masters Of Horror adaptation, The Whisperer In Darkness, The Colour Out Of Space, a homesteading concept, Darkest Of The Hillside Thickets, The Shadow Out of Tim, the science fiction aspect, a scary fascination, the sunburn, the blown out ear drums, Azathoth, the Pythagorean view, “everything is made of numbers”, mathematics, Galen, is Keziah Mason dead?, is Walter Gilman doomed from the start?, Brown Jenkin looks like Chuck E. Cheese, what is Brown Jenkin?, witches familiars, Blackadder, “bloody milk!”, bubbles -> Beelzebubbles, modern witches, “the witch stole my penis”, mob mentality, Caligula, proscription, Crassus, the Polish landlord and tenants, a drunken loom-mender?, the looming evil, the cross prayer, the cross giver, the cross as a weapon, Walpurgis Night, the skeleton is quantum physics, Halloween, the maypole, the Brocken, pagan rituals, prank gardening, tree stealing, mascot kidnapping, “excessively religious”, Elwood, The Thing On The Doorstep is internally logical, Tales From The Crypt, Lovecraft’s racism, The Haunter Of The Dark, presenting light, superstition, Mount Everest, icky areas, Lovecraft’s characters aren’t into self-preservation, 1960s, addiction, psychedelics, helmet refusers, “outspokenly Wiccan”, The Call Of Cthulhu RPG, 20 sided die, weird angles, 4 sided die, Julie’s die scar, sharp Doritos, caltrops, “grimoire”, sleeping on Elwood’s couch, a cohesive awesome, the endings, the star wanderings, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, Polaris, an obsession with evil stars, astral projection, the movement of the stars, Lovecraft’s astronomic efforts, The Festival, a weird plot thread, Lovecraft as an untethered balloon, there’s a lot of puppy dog in H.P. Lovecraft, “the poky little Lovecraft”, Montreal, a historical-building-o-phile, Bingo The Birthday Clown, Star Crunch (a Lovecraftian sponsor), “a field of red jelly with bones floating in it”, hot dog water, ultimately everyone is consumed, Tunus the Unstoppable, a soap opera with only three people, an anthropomorphic supercomputer, Krusty the Klown, a fascinating unpleasant series, The Lovecraft Five, Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family, He, The Picture In The House, H. Rider Haggard’s She done as a comedy, Brown Monkey’s The Dreams In The Witch House, Uncle George’s House Party, 19 Nocturne Boulevard, The Hole Behind Midnight by Clinton Boomer, Broken Eye Books’s Kickstarter, a professional audio novel, a giant evil naked clown, the HPLHS movie adaptation of The Whisperer In Darkness, the changes, Mr. Jim Moon’s review of The Whisperer In Darkness, it’s fucking terrifying, Julie’s reading, Julie loves to play crazy old people, a love letter to H.P. Lovecraft, “fun, surprising, and terrifying”, The Creeping Unknown, more suspense and less action, Charles Fort (played by Andrew Leman), Septimius Felton by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Doctor Portsoaken”, “Robert Hagburn”, Charles Dickens, Curse Of The Crimson Altar, Die, Monster, Die!, The Curse, Thriller, Pigeons From Hell, The Resurrected, Bleeders (aka Hemoglobin), a micro-budget with Rutger Hauer.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Themes: / fantasy / magic / hallucinations / special powers / novella /
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.
Legion is a short, interesting, 2-disc novella by Brandon Sanderson about a man with a unique mental disorder that allows him to do extraordinary things. Sanderson develops some fun characters, interesting abilities (of course this is typical for him), and drops them in a mysterious adventure. My only real complaint about this novella is that I wish there was more.
Those familiar with Sanderson’s style know to expect a unique magic/ability system that leads to an interesting plot. In this case, Stephen Leeds has many hallucinations that all serve as experts in some way that is useful to him such as weapons, knowledge, psychology, etc. People come to Stephen with problems and he can serve as a team of experts to solve whatever case/mystery needed. The trick is that only he can see these hallucinations (think A Beautiful Mind) which can lead to some interesting conversations.
Oliver Wyman does a great job narrating this novella. He did a great job with all the voices and accents from the novella. He does a great vocal equivalent of a skeptical look when characters are dealing with someone talking to hallucinations. I would listen to books narrated by Oliver Wyman again.
Posted by Tom Schreck
Themes: / 1930′s / guns / secret organizations / magic / urban fantasy /
Jake Sullivan is a war hero, a private eye — and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent and the Feds need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical abilities. But the last operation Jake was sent on went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, an old friend in happier times, had too much magical muscle with her for the Feds to handle, even with Jake’s help. It got worse. Jake found out that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worse still, he had attracted the attention of one side’s ruthless leaders — who were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live .
Hard Magic reeks of cool in the best possible way, especially when read by Bronson Pinchot. Yup, the Perfect Strangers actor is one of the coolest narrators I’ve ever listened to.
Speaking of cool. Jake Sullivan. Jake freaking Sullivan. He’s easily the coolest character I’ve ever read. He’s a slow-witted meathead, at least it would appear on the surface, and you would think I would hate him, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is he actually a very smart guy, but he works hard and keeps his word. And you probably don’t want him to keep his word, it usually doesn’t bode well for people.
This brings me to something I really enjoyed about this book. Correia’s magic system in this book is excellent. It’s extremely well thought out, but even better is that people can also use it in more ways than it appears. Jake is one of those who has figured out a way to use his magic differently, he’s figured out that manipulating things so that he can easily lift them or move them is just a small portion of what his magic can do. It allows him to manipulate gravity much the same as a certain character in The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson.
I’ve heard a lot about Larry Correia and never anything less than positive. Already he was on my list of authors to read, but I’ve obviously taken my sweet time getting there. Let me tell you, I waited far too long.
Hard Magic takes place around the time of the Great Depression. It’s the early 1930′s and things are not going well for people. However, there are oakies, gangsters, pin stripes, and everything cool about this time period. There are also secret organizations, some good and some bad, and there’s more to the magic than it first appears.
I won’t waste your time anymore. This was such a great read, with great characters and a great narrator in Bronson Pinchot, even though it did take some time to warm up to him. His slow drawl for Jake Sullivan was just pure genius. But beware, this may just make you cooler.
4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)
Posted by Bryce L.