Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #395 – Jesse and Wayne June talk about The Slithering Shadow (aka Xuthal Of The Dusk) by Robert E. Howard

Talked about on today’s show:
Wayne’s first exposure to Robert E. Howard, “repetitious and childish, a self-vitiating brew of pseudo-science”, stage illusions and , repetition, “Oh, Conan!, Robert would have wanted it that way, REH is having some fun with a genre he normally doesn’t play in, Red Nails, Conan is dismissive of the city’s population, degeneration, drug addled drug attics in dopey hazes, lasers, radium light bulbs, manufacturing food from the primal elements, Valeria vs harem slave Natala, devious, controlling, self-interested, a lot of depth behind the shallowness in this story, Conan is really grumpy from page one, gigantic mirth: she’s only human, curmudgeon Conan, poisoning the well, don’t grab my sword arm, slap on the ass, a grumpy sexist, Howard’s doing something really really funny, The Slithering Shadow is a gothic horror, silliness, women written like cartoon characters, not reminding you of your mortality, not about the uselessness of existence, clunky elements, a haunted castle, kicking and screaming, bad casting, trap doors, up to the hilt, sitting on another divan, sooo gothic horror novel, hidden passageways, trapdoors, convoluted coincidence, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Oval Portrait, very recently and hurriedly abandoned, still food on the table, candles that have just been blown out, one spot of blood, The Monk, a giant helmet, a giant dome at the center of the city, one giant palace, all the trappings of a haunted mansion, switching gears, describing Thog, jumping right into H.P. Lovecraft, men of action, biting the Lovecraftian horror, what Cimmerians are like, passive aggressive Conan, in all of Howards writings about Conan, a blood feud, a lack of reproduction, an H.G. Wells trick, why the drug element is so heavy, the golden wine (a healing potion), Howard’s doctor father was very familiar with heroin addiction, Fort McMurray, “morons”, barbarians vs. the civilized, Thalis’ experience, the Fred Van Lente adaptation for Dark Horse Comics, initiated into the cult of Derketa, not my first rodeo, a gang-bang, better to kill Natala, Thalis’ life story is a horror show hidden behind a few words, that’s the cover of Weird Tales, who is this story intended for?, racy, sex, before Natala knifed Thalis, I don’t like getting stabbed, taught to be hard and cruel, Thalis’ chance at revenge, a Stygian Queen, growing up with doped out morons, a gruesome comeuppance, Thog doesn’t just eat you he rapes you first, digested for a thousand years, tentacles, the face of Thog, a non-euclidean face, a 40 year Texas feud, Thog at the center bottom of the city, a big black amorphous mass, Thog is the mad lady in the attic, a stoic attitude towards destiny and fate, from the likes of Thog, Thog is the oil, the cause for the addiction and for the city, unseen until it gushes all over you, fundamentally Howard is not completely wrong about civilization, trigger warnings and sexism, the limitations on what a woman can be in Xuthal (get a real man), moral judgements, his own code of ethics, stealing a slave, Natala’s safety is bound up with his morality, a kind of a rescue, the rebel Prince Almuric, a great river flowing into the desert, dead with forty arrows, canteen full of water, a rich and decadent place, black lotus, cursed, the desert will be kinder, a rebel prince of Stygia, Thalis was like a Natala, she’s the heavy (other than Thog), whip up some anger, Thalis is a Natala without a Conan, this “civilized” society, one of the worst Conan stories by one of the best writers of pulp fiction is still a pretty good story, super-hero-ish, Howard was smart at marketing, Margaret Brundage, lesbian scenes on the cover, gratuitous nudity, temptation, Queen Of The Black Coast, Belit, a pirate queen, first mate (literally), Belit runs that story, a noir awesome ending, the coincidence, “I guess I could do a gothic – Conan won’t like this”, having fun with it, all those tropes, the comics adaptations, done in Stygian, when Conan talks in word balloons, a rough-hewn word balloon (a Cimmerian accent?), you don’t want to do Arnold, a pulpy breezy, showing the Xuthalians hooked up to IVs, smoking your black lotus, the den of an opium smoker, chasing the dragon, enough backstory to make it interesting, an opium inundated culture, yellow skinned, China in decline, the Hermit Kingdom, decadence collapsing, a yellow peril story, San Fransisco, Chinatown, Lovecraftian elements, The Hour Of The Dragon, start with a random story, outliers, Beyond The Black River, Queen Of The Black Coast, an epicness, forty issues of awesome adventure, the tie between pulp adventure and comics, comics are the legacy of the pulps, The Shadow, Doc Savage is a pulp superhero with a super-team, in the 1970s, Conan The Barbarian, the Roy Thomas adaptation from Savage Sword of Conan #20, 1977, essentially nudity, heads being lopped off, no blood and no death, Curtis Publications, kick-ass stories, amazing pulp adventure, a 60 page comic adaptation, “freely adapting”, Conan finds a lost valley – Iskander’s kingdom, crocodile men and bird men, walking zombies, all sorts of things need to have their heads lopped off, Marvel was the dark side vs. DC, sel-doubt and existential anxierty of the heros, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, the amazing Filipino artists drawing busty ladies and big armed barbarians, Warren Comics, Heavy Metal, Richard Corben, so much richness in the non-superhero comics, Pepe Moreno, Rebel (1984), Mad Max meets Escape From New York with Nazis, a hot rod gang with a heart of gold, victory by blowing up the World Trade Center, power in visualizing, the “steely thews” of Conan, eldritch vs. thews, cat-like, jaguar, pantherish, the battle scenes really flowed, Howard highly influenced by Lovecraft, The Black Stone, an elegance of colour, colour in every particle of sand, the opposite of Lovecraft, with Lovecraft the horrible thing makes its appearance and you faint, Howard wades in on it, Lovecraft would never do that, one can’t battle gods and get away with a whole skin, psychic damage vs. physical damage, Howard is a complement to Lovecraft, physicality, fighting against the inevitability, there’s life there, bleak and grey vs. blood flying everywhere, Robert E. Howard was a lot lustier, “a superfluity of naughtiness”, tongue in cheek, “spicy”, Railroad Man’s Magazine, Air Stories, Zeppelin Stories, True Detective, Spicy Detective, Spicy Mystery, Spicy Adventure, Twilight is nothing new, sexist so sexist, racist so racist, women readers asking for more nudity and spicy, reading it with one hand, women liked and wrote for Weird Tales, Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Maude Ludington Cain, yeah it’s sexist, keep behind me girl, “Why is he calling her a girl?”, “Oh, he’s sexist.”, visualizing what is said, what if someone saw us?, there’s blood on the stones, Conan at his stupidest, a crimson mist descended over his eyes, don’t let the blind bull-headed grumpiness be a guide for what he’s like, there’s a great character there.

Weird Tales - The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

Weird Tales - The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

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Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #040

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Night Wire was first published in Weird Tales, September 1926.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #394 –Jesse talks with the great Wayne June, the narrator of Darkest Dungeon and several H.P. Lovecraft audiobooks. Wayne grew up reading science fiction and has both a love and appreciation for H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.

Talked about on today’s show:
he has to be Wayne June, Darkest Dungeon, made in Vancouver, really hard, Chris Bourassa, Tyler Sigman, the script, Stuart Chatwood, PowerupAudio.com, Twitch streaming, stress and post traumatic stress disorder, Dismas, snap out of it, “a mighty blow”, what are you recording?, out of context, YouTube commentary, STURDY SHOVELS!, single player, Wizardry on the Apple II, comics, the sequels to games get better, a community of gamers, a Twitch streamer’s sound-pack, Red Hook Studios, 500 personalized notifications, taking it out of context, worlds of their own, laughing our butts off, a DOTA announcer pack?, professional gaming, millions of dollars in prizes, a groundswell of support for Wayne June, Jesse was a fan of Wayne June fan from the beginning, Jesse made Wayne June the man he is today, a lovecraftian theme, pronouncing all the words, “squamous”ˈskwāməs/, Wayne June grew up on Lovecraft, a lifetime of Lovecraft, it’s better to be non-existent, weltanschauung, you have to feel what the author wants you to feel, Donald Sutherland, great performance advice: don’t lie, live the script, people are going to feel it, Ex Oblivione:

So, happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.

Lovecraft doesn’t give a shit about what other people think of his writing, he’s fully committed, guilty, he’s his own genre, enveloped in a syrup of hopelessness, necessary flourishes, the undisputed master, Edgar Allan Poe, I’m that guy, carrying books of poems around, The Dunwich Horror, the Vermont landscape, ravines of problematic depth?, that’s giving me a problem, subjective vs. objective, here’s the quality of what he thinks it should be judged as, a subjective outline, Lovecraft often has the revelation first achieved through sound, The Thing On The Doorstep, the sound coming before the visualization, Lovecraft is meant to be read aloud, a book of spells, feelings of fear and nausea or dread, The Raven, you can taste a lot of Poe in Lovecraft’s stuff, From Beyond, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, ingesting a story, alliteration and consonance and assonance, so crafted with sound,

And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

Dreamland, there’s even ghouls in there, Ex Oblivione very succinctly outlines Lovecraft’s whole gloomy view of the universe, rewarding re-reading,

Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.

The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, too wise to have ever have been born in the waking world, illimitable space, the realm of the forms, he enters into it joyously, incredibly comforting, yeah right!, awww damn, coffee, Thomas Ligotti, consciousness as an accident of evolution (and not a happy accident), Douglas Adams, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, tooth and claw, awareness and self awareness, glooming-up a good gloomy book, Chinatown, its good to hear truth, other people are struggling, taking existential dread and experiencing it fully, putting it into a compartment, naming all the guts, fear can be managed, take it in doses, wrestling with fictional takes on real existential dreads, give it names, True Detective, temperament, there’s nothing truer than great fiction, From Beyond, the unseen world, things flopping through us, a monster story, life as tedium vs scientific revelation, The Hounds Of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, to the beginning of creation, when you invent the microscope, germ theory, telescopes, Galileo, ultraviolet, microbes, confronting how small we are, the endless boundless vistas of space, best expressed,

I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognised sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.

not just horror, science fiction as well, Lovecraft is the H.G. Wells of weird fiction, the project to get Wayne June to record every H.P. Lovecraft story, packaged in the Necronomicon, slow treading, at the bottom of this ravine of problematic depth,The Call Of Cthulhu, Frankenstein, bringing our own prejudices, whose argument is this?, The Dunwich Horror is a family tragedy, coming from a dimension where aesthetics are different, Jesus and Mary, he has to break into the library to read a book, biased and racist, Wilbur wanted to learn skillz, transparent attic brother, he wanted to help his disabled brother, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a family reunion, living forever under the sea, fishy eyes, he gets his sealegs, aquatic family values, The Tomb, Jervas Dudley likes walks in the woods, the ancestors, reverting to type, atavism, an “evil” ancestor, coming to terms with what’s in your family tree, goth or emo, who’s he hurting?, such a libertarian, let the living lie with the dead, the ending of Annabelle Lee, sleeping with a corpse, a beautiful beautiful poem about a disgusting activity, he could probably find better ways to spend his time, discernment, eating mushrooms, when we get together for pizza, Wayne June owes Jesse a pizza.


Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #039

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Wisdom Of The Trail by Jack London

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Wisdom Of The Trail was first published in the Overland Monthly, December 1899.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #393 – Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft, read by the great Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (5 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Jim Moon)

Talked about on today’s show:
the pronunciation, Athenae, not from Weird Tales, a prose poem vs. a story, flash fiction, it does everything, the big elephant, it avoids all the things people decry Lovecraft for, the pure experience, pure Dreamlands Lovecraft, living in the outrage culture, it is much better to be dead than it is to be alive, drug use, reflections, new colours, From Beyond, The Colour Out Of Space, beyond the colours we know, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a little dreamquest, no cat, Zakarion, King Kuranes, Basil Elton, The White Ship, big themes, tentacled monsters, sanity-blasting, nihilism, transcendence and revelation, wonder and awe, a compression, a packet of seeds, The Gardens Of Yin and The Window, gateways and passages, a distillation,

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked.

opiate, poppy seed cookies, Wayne June, The Crawling Chaos, the decay and pain of disease, seeking non-existence in unconsciousness, Hypnos, breaking through the barrier, horrible and wonderful, duality of perception,

But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.

I’m out of here!, The Shadows Over Innsmouth, this is AMAZING!, the horrible as transcendent, not-quite apotheosis, transfiguration, a counter-point to the insignificance of humanity, stepping beyond, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, the wild world of his dreams,

A Memory
There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.

Minnesota, the Sawtooth Mountains,

I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.

giving Death a high-five, The Gardens of Yin

Beyond that wall, whose ancient masonry
Reached almost to the sky in moss-thick towers,
There would be terraced gardens, rich with flowers,
And flutter of bird and butterfly and bee.
There would be walks, and bridges arching over
Warm lotos-pools reflecting temple eaves,
And cherry-trees with delicate boughs and leaves
Against a pink sky where the herons hover.

the gorgeous garden,

All would be there, for had not old dreams flung
Open the gate to that stone-lanterned maze
Where drowsy streams spin out their winding ways,
Trailed by green vines from bending branches hung?
I hurried—but when the wall rose, grim and great,
I found there was no longer any gate.

a retelling of earlier voyages, Jack Vance, Planet Of Adventure, The Dying Earth, strange vistas, lush imagery, opening up perceptions, the grey sameness of ordinary existence, consuming all the senses, rich or decadent description, baroque, gorgeously saturated prose, The Moon Moth, a maginfied orientalist, operatic, fantasies of exotic lands, arabesques, sarabandes and curlicues of hashish smoke, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, Tolkienized, pipeweed and beer, that connection to Dunsany, Idle Days On The Yann,

When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.
Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.
And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

temples, not sunken temples, what happened to the temples?, almost Robert E. Howardy, The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges, Lovecraft was reading a lot of Schopenhauer,

I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. And happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.

very Platonic, called forth by Life, Socrates, ahh, yes I remember fire, the trauma of childbirth wipes your memory, opium, mind blown, ever to wise to ever have been born in the waking world, Waking Life, Philip K. Dick, now I remember, native infinity, everything goes back to that Platonic realm, The Dreamquest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, if you’re born in the dream world…, Jesse gets to the dreamland by a route obscure and lonely, the Zoog wood touches the waking world, Paul’s role playing game, Dante and stories of the underworld, a one way passage, the official entrance, passing bodily into the underworld, a gem of a story, poppy seeds that flourish and grow, to round table it, is the end positive or negative?, the closing of a circle, eastern philosophy, definitely positive, he just overdosed on a drug in real life, in your dissolved state, this is not Heaven (Garden of Yinn style), looking at it from the outside, staying in bed too long, symptoms of depression, the reason for his voyage, the ugly trifles of existence,

Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jasper
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #038

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Highwayman by Lord Dunsany

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Highwayman was first published in Neolith No. 2, February 1908.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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