Talked about on today’s show:
the dream of Bryan Alexander, the nightmare that is Paul, 1940, 1962, almost a disaster, this story hit them like ton of bricks, Frankenstein, disturbing, a simple plot, leading you in circles, rising action, the horrible Freytag pyramid, creating a person out of dreams, a Joseph Campbell plot, learning Spanish, listen to the negatives, no one was unaware that the silent man, the unanimous night, it claustrophobic cloaks, the beginning of Moby Dick, in The Garden Of Forking Path, Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris, the circularity of the text, there is no “collected works” of Borges, Broges’ translations, the language of doppelgangers, the father and son angle, a mediation on parenthood, a god of fire, if Eric Rabkin were here, Prometheus, realizing you’re a dream, a trapped figure in endless circularity, parenting, once the colour of fire and now that of ashes, a grey man under unknown leaves, tributaries of sleep, weaving a rope of sand, coining the faceless wind, a folkloric reference, a Cornish legend, The Lottery Of Babylon, the company knows all, a ruin of a religion that somehow comes true, the most difficult task a man could undertake, an infinite amount of time for the hairs on the arm, not the god of the bible, food and figs, a dream god, a hilarious line from Celephais, I’m a prodigious dreamer, a dream man who dreams a dream man into existence, a dream written down, meta accusations in the post modern school, a hero to post-modern thinkers, The Babylonian Lottery, where the Zend language, characteristics of a society, too much leprosy, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, the moonness was going above the river, the beautiful language of a dream, Voltaire’s Zadig, a fake Babylon, the book of Zend, The Library Of Babel, real world Greek, this river, bamboo canoe, other burned temples, H. Rider Haggard, double negative, Xenophon’s Anabasis, 10,000 mercenaries, epic adventure, populated or unpopulated, in the aftermath of disaster, Detroit, Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings, yet another abandoned village, The Warriors (1979), an optimistic version of New York, being a vegetarian, Frankenstein’s creature is a vegan, he’s got to dream some meat into being, this is Abel not Cain, where the story really gets cooking, his body is a temple, dialectic dreams, clouds of taciturn students, interpolate him into the real world, a man lecturing the clouds, The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds by Lawrence Block, seeing images in the clouds, people are like clouds in dreams, a two sided coin, the dialectics, dissection theater, in the Gnostic cosmogonies, a red Adam who cannot stand, the world was created by the demi-urge, Valis by Philip K. Dick, addendum to the creation story, Lilith, the red mercury story (a geopolitical urban legend), alchemical texts, a locked Wikipedia entry, the cold fusion of terrorism, a golem, a man made out of clay but without a soul, Adam of dust, Adam of dreams, the wizard is the dreamer, again Frankenstein, why would it have been better?, Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Hypnos, doppelganger fiction, mirrors, Borges’ philosophy of Poe’s Composition, the literary equivalent of Escher, more like Lovecraft than Dick, aristocratic families, grandparents who were big into books, loved suits, loved their hometowns, Buenos Aires, a love of reading, wrote about writing, letter writers, connected with their readers, strange visionary figures, gregarious men, authors confused (conflated) with his own characters, complex truth and curious parallels, beauty, meaning and the belief in the power of story, how we make sense of the universe and how we interpret knowledge, both seeking to blow minds, Borges read Lovecraft, There Are More Things by Jorge Luis Borges is dedicated to Lovecraft, arguing with Lovecraft, cosmic is the word (not eldritch) or dream, The Call of Cthulhu, interpolate connects us to Dick as well, a bit of sense data, we don’t see just by having the world come into our eyes, we also project, the story is not complete, filling in the steps between fire and grey, Dick, Borges, and Lovecraft are working the world in a different way showing us their dreams, what would a Borgesian city in Kadath (the Dreamlands) look like?, Inception is a Borgesian story, far more concreteized, a heist, the grey man kissed the mud, the blades which were lacerating his flesh, the brambles delacerated his flesh, where did the blades come from?, what is certain, there’s something on the bank injuring him (or the blades are in him already), the crown of thorns, the temple was crowned, from out of the south, almost biblical, interesting, the plaything of forces far greater than he can comprehend, mental terror, the incessant trees, obligation, inconsolable shriek, the birdless morning, the phoenix, the tiger is man, Tyger Tyger, horses as a symbol of force, power, dynamism, and nobility, horse or tiger, domesticated vs. wild, super enigmatic yet we know exactly what happened, the creation of the heart, the moon, fourteen lucid nights, from lucidity to obscurity?, meticulous love, to rectify it with a glance, invoking the name of a planet, Mars?, Venus?, Mercury?, it could be the penis, much more meticulous from, the innumerable hair was the most difficult task, full moon?, starting the cycle again, the circularity of the ruins, re circularity, a disc vs. an amphitheater, the geography of the Library of Babel, a torus, the bottom of an amphitheater, it’s a magic spell, Lovecraft fandom, Cthulhu prayer breakfast, Borges was the darling of the literary set when he was alive, the New American Library edition, Borges is still a god of modern literature, intertextuality, Borges’ made up quotes and citations, Ibid by H.P. Lovecraft, a parody of 19th century scholarship, the adventures of a man’s skull, groundhogs worshiping a skull as a deity, the sense of humour, S.T. Joshi, a classic schoolboy error, BBC Radio documentary, humour in Borges, loops and whorls, sophisticated humour, blades vs. brambles, Poe the prankster, Herman Melville, extraordinary sentences, puckish and wry, apotheosis.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #274 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family by H.P. Lovecraft
The SFFaudio Podcast #274 – Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Gildart Jackson (this audiobook comes to us courtesy of Blackstone Audio’s Eldritch Tales). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (28 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Samantha Wikan
Talked about on today’s show:
The story was also published as Arthur Jermyn and The White Ape, Weird Tales, 1921, The Wolverine, the 1980s, “that’s not a big deal”, “our more enlightened times”, Lovecraft’s letter to Weird Tales, Rhodesia, “the Dark Continent”, “our brothers and sister in the jungle”, racism, Allan Quatermain, telegraphing the twist, is Lovecraft making a joke?, a more horrific reading, no Elder Gods, no Dreamlands, atavism and degeneration, great grandmother was a gorilla, miscegenation, bestiality, Dagon, Shadow Over Innsmouth, atavism, losing sanity points, Sir Wade Jermyn (African explorer with a “Portuguese wife” -> Philip Jermyn (a very agile sailor) -> Robert Jermyn (an anthropologist) -> Nevil Jermyn (runs off with a dancer) – > Alfred Jermyn (joins the circus) -> Arthur Jermyn (the poet scholar), Lovecraft became despondent when his family had to leave their home, Lovecraft’s mom said he was “exceedingly ugly”, Lovecraft’s father (died in an asylum), a tainted heritage, fear of degeneration, the ape goddess, diluting the noble bloodline, Arthur was the most unattractive one that was allowed out of the bedroom, Nevil’s siblings, a music hall singer of “unknown origin”, a lack of respect for the lower classes, below or above one’s station, a common sailor, the gamekeeper’s daughter, Winesburg, Ohio, Ray Bradbury’s inspiration for The Martian Chronicles, who is telling this story?, “demoniacal hints”, oppressive science, a future echo to Pickman’s Model, squamous eldritch adjectives, a gentleman in a club, “the gorilla boxing match death”, a smoking jacket holding court, clubman tales, Lord Dunsany, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, Isaac Asimov’s The Black Widowers Club, Supernatural (1977 BBC TV series), “the club of the damned”, blood freezingly funny, “really ugly or unconventionally beautiful”, Arthur’s life story is quite sad, we really empathize with Arthur Jermyn, Victorian society, aren’t we all Arthur?, a lot of people probably don’t like the idea we are related to apes, maybe we should reject it even though its true, Douglas Adams “Earthmen are not proud of their ancestors and never invite them around to dinner”, digital watches, the ape city, hybrids, what of the other side?, S.T. Joshi’s reading, “that last clause is critical”, the white apes as the missing link, “the entire white race”, the only explanation, miscegenation assumes certain things, eugenics, “he married that ape”, “he made an honest ape of her”, the illustration from Weird Tales, how pretty was she?, the community’s contempt, judgements from a group of racist assholes, “that being said I’d rather be a poet than a sailor”, the butler, the servants, the black nanny, “the aged Soames”, the 1993 comic book adaptation by Stephen Phillip Jones, the visitor named “Seaton”, the only one who survives is Alfred, the adaptation goes off on this weird tangent -> The Terror Of Blue John Gap (first published in 1910), Samuel Seaton is in both stories (The Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family and The Terror Of Blue John Gap, She by H. Rider Haggard, a more realistic version of that story, Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the lost city of Opar (a lost colony of Atlantis), the John Carter books, this story is underrated, the humour and the pathos, not going into purple overdrive, the Jorkens tales, dry British wit, take off the Cthulhu blinkers, Jesse would like Mr Jim Moon to read aloud The Terror Of The Blue John Gap, Blue John (the mineral), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “obviously its insane”, Heart Of Darkness , Henry Morton Stanley, Dr. Livingston, Penny Dreadful is a mash-up of late 19th century horror fiction, Timothy Dalton plays a kind of Allan Quatermain kind of character, Mina Harker, demon possession, “raping their way across Africa”, the Grand Tour, “sending sons to the colonies for hunting, drinking, and whoring”, Sir Wade is the White God, the Congolese natives’ stories are all true, what’s in the box?, two statues?, a subterranean ocean, a fish man?, “I’m your great grandfather boy”, the Spawn of Cthulhu, “Deep Ones can mate with any species”, when we read Lovecraft we do a disservice to force connections to the Cthulhu Mythos, presenting it as a theory, “the locket!”, “what’s in the locket?”, the locket was empty, they threw the locket in a well, interpretations, stopping the spread vs. just being horrified, putting them over the percentage, “they had to make it not be”, having an ancestor delivered to your door, “Sir Wade collected things one wouldn’t ordinarily collect”, what did he bring back?, tending away from the Cthulhu Mythos, Cthulhu plushie, Lovecraft would never have said: “Sanity points?! Great idea!”, The Hound by H.P. Lovecraft (and it’s black museum), Lovecraft used the Necronomicon as “a backdrop and a reference and a flavour”, appreciating the stories as stories, it’s touching!
Posted by Jesse Willis
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
Talked about on today’s show:
the classic Tarzan yodel, the dum-dum service, Tarzana, California, those beautiful Burroughsian run-on sentences:
“From this primitive function has arisen, unquestionably, all the forms and ceremonials of modern church and state, for through all the countless ages, back beyond the last uttermost ramparts of a dawning humanity our fierce, hairy forebears danced out the rites of the Dum-Dum to the sound of their earthen drums, beneath the bright light of a tropical moon in the depth of a mighty jungle which stands unchanged today as it stood on that long forgotten night in the dim, unthinkable vistas of the long dead past when our first shaggy ancestor swung from a swaying bough and dropped lightly upon the soft turf of the first meeting place.”
A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (and SFBRP #151), Edgar Allan Poe should be read aloud, The Return Of Tarzan, racism, Esmeralda, Gone With The Wind, minstrel shows, Chicago, Arizona, the mammy archetype, radio drama racism, Jar Jar Binks, Star Wars: Episode III, October 1912, historical dialect, Jane (the white lady), “you just shot a woman in the head”, cannibalism,
Conan Tarzan lynches his mother’s killer, rope tricks, out of context vs. in context, Tarzan as a god, Ballantine Books, the dum-dum scholars, Project Gutenberg edition, ERB Incorporated, Tarzan The Censored by Jerry L. Schneider, Tarzan Of The Apes censorship and “improvements” since the original publication, “an English grammar Nazi”, The Heathen by Jack London, taking out or changing a few words can hurt the story, Earnest Hemingway and William Shakespeare are “too wordy”, Tab Cola, Tarzan’s relationship with the cannibal villagers, “mankind and civilization aren’t”, colonialism, the Belgian Congo, King Leopold II, contemplating cannibalism, “the white god of the woods”, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), Wisconsin, Tarzan’s ape father is driven away by Kerchak (and turned into a museum exhibit), “the Evil village of Scotland”, the sadness that comes with the deaths is powerful, Paul D’Arno, Obi Wan Kenobi, “Tarzan was the blockbuster hit of the twentieth century”, A Princess Of Mars, Ruritania, The Mad King, “complete in one issue”, All-Story, the scanty Science Fiction elements, feral children, Romulus and Remus, Mowgli, Tarzan is a wild child, “this line from a book”, all of Burroughs characters are excellent language learners, when Tarzan writes a note, Lord Of The Jungle (Dynamite Entertainment), the mistaken dual identity, “Jane has massive bosoms”, Green Mansions (starring Rima, The Jungle Girl), Johnny Weissmuller, “the Sheena of South America”, Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, Psycho, significantly more significant, the primary driver of fiction of this period is character, Nancy Drew, book serials, Rudyard Kipling dissed Burroughs’ writing and grammar, White Fang is kind of like Tarzan Of The Apes, first person vs. third person, you can’t admire the character from afar if the story is told first person, Sherlock Holmes, “that turn towards character is a turn towards the third person omniscient POV”, “that heroic distance” (1910-1950), Raymond Chandler, “I read Chandler”, Tarzan is the only Burroughs series that doesn’t turn to first person narration, John Carter’s character, why is Tarzan such a big character, Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography Of Lord Greystoke by Philip José Farmer, Tarzan as a quiet sophisticate, Doc Savage, The Green Odyssey by Philip José Farmer, Farmer is a fan of character, a stranger in a strange land, what ruined Julie for religion, The Mastermind Of Mars (is PUBLIC DOMAIN), “Tur is Tur.”, copyright, copyfight, jungle Tarzan vs. cafe absinthe drinking Tarzan, “the machine”, the Weissmuller Tarzan, where does he get his razor?, “that knife was his father”, “next book please”, Tarzan And His Mate , “lots of wet people”, “skin friendly”, melon-farmer vs. motherfucker, Boy and Cheeta are Hollywood, Scrappy-do, what did Tantor have to say?, Sabor the lioness, “there are no tigers in Africa, Ed”, Crocodile Dundee, Beyond Thirty, The Mucker, yellow peril looking dudes, The Girl From Hollywood, The Man Eater, early road trips, The Land That Time Forgot, The Lost World, the Caspak series, WWI, “sheer headlong adventure”, The Asylum, closing words, “it’s not what you think”, “really really good fun”, baby ape skeleton in the cradle, a classic of writing, a touching story, “and vengeance is his”, serialization in newspapers, cliffhangers, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins,
Posted by Jesse Willis
“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”
-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)
The Grove Of Ashtaroth was written by the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Despite that high position, he was the viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch for five years in the 1930s, Buchan is probably better known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan’s novelette has been described as a “weird story” (by the makers of Escape) or as “high fantasy” (in The Fantastic Imagination) by editors Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, a 1977 anthology).
I’m not sure exactly what it is, except very interesting and certainly within the vague borders of the Fantasy genre. The Grove Of Ashtaroth reminds me of a short story by Philip K. Dick, Of Withered Apples.
You can judge for yourself what you think it is most like.
But your best bet, in audio, for the moment at least, is to listen to the 1948 Escape radio dramatization!
Escape – The Grove Of Ashtaroth
Adapted from the novelette by John Buchan; Adapted by Les Crutchfield; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: February 29, 1948
Paul Frees as John Buchan
William Conrad as Lawson
And if you were wondering, the only major difference between the original story and the dramatization is that the unnamed narrator is named (after Buchan himself) in the dramatization.
[Thanks also to Escape-Suspense.com]
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #133 – Beyond The Black River by Robert E. Howard, read by Todd McLaren (courtesy of Tantor Media’s The Conquering Sword Of Conan). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novelette (2 Hours 29 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse and Tamahome).
Talked about on today’s show:
Todd McLaren, Conan’s voice is confident, Balthus is the Jimmy Olsen to Conan’s Superman, Robert E. Howard’s avatar in Beyond The Black River is Balthus, “the damnedest bastard who ever lived”, “buckets of mead”, a noble death, a prominently displayed dog, barbarism vs. civilization, Red Nails, “the viking hat”, The Savage Sword Of Conan, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Tam is a Conan novice, The Last Of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, western, “alabaster skin”, the triumph of Barbarism (is the coda for the story), Texas, would the 1% agree with Howard?, Picts, the world of Hyboria, Cimmeria was a real place, history, historical romance, physical display, don’t overblow the homo-eroticism, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, autodidacts, Margaret Atwood’s interview on CBC’s Q, “occasionals”?, Walt Whitman and Henry James, The Turn Of The Screw, sword and sorcery, did Howard invent the barbarian as a character?, Genghis Khan, forbidden knowledge, Howard and Jack London, The Call Of The Wild, California, Alaska, Yukon, slavery, civilization to barbarism, “a Conan dog”, atavism, Zogar Sag is the Jesus to Jhebbal Sag’s God, secret language magic, secret symbols, Conan The Barbarian, Conan is at the height of his power, atavistic magic, “what was I missing”, chatty Conan, Brian Wood’s new Conan comic (adapting Queen Of The Black Coast), Barry Windsor Smith, “he’s busy getting revenge”, a distillation of what’s in the stories, Conan and the philosophers, Oliver Stone and John Milius, Conan The Destroyer, sword vs. sorcery, Berserk (manga), “if you were in the Hyborian age which god would you worship?”, “a Klingon god”, “who is the good guy in Beyond The Black River?”, why does Conan side with the Aquilonians?, “swarthy white men”, Conan is bronzed by the sun not swarthy, end the Jersey Shore references, “this is a war story”, Conan doesn’t believe in an external valuation, why is there only one Devil?, Gullah the Gorilla God – the hairy one who lives on the moon, Africa, Aquilonia is France, Hyboria is Europe, Hyperborea (boreal + hyper = far north), Stygia = Egypt, Texas history, the Picts are the Comanche in this story, Julius Caesar, degenerating white men, Kull, Brule The Spearslayer, “noble savage”, a “symphony of racism”, Bran Mak Morn: The Last King by Robert E. Howard, Kings In The Night, The Whole Wide World, The One Who Walks Alone by Novalyne Price Ellis, Vincent D’Onofrio as Robert E. Howard channeling Conan, photographs of Robert E. Howard, Howard was a LARPer, “Howard was a rough-hewn intellectual”, boxing, gun culture vs. cat culture, WWII, Lidice, “even a white man’s dog is worth more than seven Picts”, Bill Hollweg’s Queen Of The Black Coast audio drama, would Beyond The Black River make a good audio drama?, Lou Anders’ Hollywood Formula doesn’t work here, philosophy of the woods, audiobooks and comics are better than movies, SSOC #26 & #27, Dark Horse’s Savage Sword Of Conan, Volume 3, ostrich feathers tell a story, a frontier story, Weird Tales covers by Margaret Brundage, the Hulk, supple, Red Nails would be a good readalong, laser beams and dinosaurs.
Posted by Jesse Willis