The SFFaudio Podcast #431 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Fitcher’s Bird by Bros. Grimm

July 24, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #431 – Fitcher’s Bird by Bros. Grimm; read by Julie Davis. This is an unabridged reading of the folk tale (8 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa

Talked about on today’s show:
a rather unusual Brothers Grimm folktale a wizard sorcerer, his magical power is to make people fall in love with a beggar, a male witch from Hansel and Gretel, to live forever, to control women, from the girl’s perspective (the third sister’s perspective), body parts, a backpack full of gold, revenge, get back up on your legs, she’s got the power, magical spells by rhyme, a girl controlling a duck, becoming a duck, ducks are desirable, delicious duck eggs, so bizarre, gruesome, a bathtub full of cut-up body parts, the dropping of the egg, how clever!, betrayal, testing women for faithfulness, keys to every room in the house, she now has all the power, trust, a Garden of Eden situation, promises, the keys to a cage, egg is the future, she can’t think for herself, lying, power, Protector by Larry Niven, a variation of another famous fairy tale: Bluebeard, a donut shaped planet, tell the the Bluebeard myth, a forbidden room, a test, an egg to take care of, a Bluebeard test, I would not have submitted, authority, Julie is stunned, the majority gets cut-up, potential wives, a wife who will obey/trust him, the flaw, everything she desires, lacking mutual trust, curiosity, bewitching, a Pandora’s Box, Charles Perrault, The Robber Bridegroom, Beauty And The Beast, a transformation story, what’s needed, for mutual benefit, an amazing ending, The Castle Of Murder, every window with blood, a skull decked out, diamonds in the eyes, gruesome monster story, a charnel house, the last sentence, “the wizard and all his crew”, who are these people?, a different invitation, “brothers and kinsmen”, rescue, avengers, all his folk, all his friends, burn ’em, hardcore, no one’s doing this again, his mindset, they’re as bad as he is, honey and feathers, magic, Fowler’s Fowl, a white apron, Gretel, magic blood, a virginity test, the concern of men, the concern of women, Philip K. Dick, women want one thing and men want another thing, why would anyone marry Donald Trump?, an evil wizard, women want to make sure their children are well supported, what if she lets in someone who’s not me?, who is this story for?, the lesson is you should be smart not just loyal, loyalty will get you burned to death in a house, a bad hombre, the charismatic guy, it’s the money, fame, it’s easy to give in to thoughtless negative impulses, did he have bad hair?, tiny hands?, cycle of life, breaking out of the egg, a strange new wonderful bird, a great misfortune, like God talking in the King James Bible, God or Jesus, Arthur Rackham illustration, the Wikipedia entry, a Jewish caricature, it’s all turned around on him, resting, “I’m looking through my little window”, he got so tired, Cinderella, cutting off heels and toes, Prince Charming, a title and castle and money, she’s not even human anymore, I’m headed to New York, good enough, they all had poor eyesight and hearing, a very tall castle, an axe, why is he cutting them up?, a serial killer, Dexter, Jesse’s students are from Asia, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, explaining why these conventions come up, projecting backwards, 1850s, Split (2016), we should all watch it together, what are the things you don’t expect to find?, slash movie conventions, survivors, The Descent (2005), all C.H.U.D.s are underground C.H.U.D.s, she’s been reborn, covered in blood, no longer is she weak, she’s powerful, mettle tested, don’t just marry any old prince, exploring every part of your house, Julie rescinds her invitation, knowledge is power, powerful and useful, curiosity killed the cat, people are curious, Clark Ashton Smith, Arthur Machen, “since thou hast gone into my room — thy life is ended”, with the rest, she did not fair better than her sister, the bloody chamber, it has to happen three times for the magic to work, the three sisters, the three journeys, the three pigs, Goldilocks, somebody’s been sitting on my stool, somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and there she is!, what is the meaning behind this story, the ur story, Lady Macbeth, smart and disobedient, gaslighting, you can’t tell me how to think about what I’m seeing, Gaslight (1944), the moral is it’s best to be third born.

Hermann Vogel illustration of Fitcher's Bird

Fitcher's Bird illustration by Arthur Rackham

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #427 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Hansel And Gretel by Bros. Grimm

June 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #427 – Hansel And Gretel by Bros. Grimm; read by Julie Davis. This is an unabridged reading of the folk tale (16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
a folktale, a fairy tale, a lot of magic, a lot of animals, a lot of birds, strange phrases, a cat, the bird episode, Grimm’s Fairy Tales translated by Lucy Crane with illustrations by her brother Walter Crane, the gingerbread house, candy canes, the family’s house, too nice for a starving family, how can you not love this story?, spawned a whole industry, Jesse’s the worst son, no respect for his mother, indirect approach, a Philip K. Dick story, Jesse’s inside, The Cookie Lady, a suburban fantasy, a Hansel and Gretel story without Gretel, Bubber, the woman he visits after school, oh Philip K. Dick!, all the street names, Pine Street and Elm Street, why are the two stories so different, she’s not a regular witch, absorbing the life energy, a fat little boy who loves cookies, she’s young and beautiful, the wind is blowing, just a tumbleweed there, a horrible version of Hansel and Gretel, recognizing that you have to have help, both the children are contributing to the welfare, taking turns, wiser vs. cleverer, a Deep Space Nine episode, Jake Sisko‘s muse sucks the life energy out of him, the Star Trek universe is suffering from population decline, a little girl in Star Trek: Voyager, as soon as possible, bad writing, Wil Wheaton, o father I’m looking at my little white kitten, you young fool, sunshine on the chimney pot, a pigeon, why aren’t they eating the cat and the pigeon?, we ate your cat last night!, a strange story for modern kids, going without food, a famine in Germany, cannibalism, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, is the dad horrible or just weak?, he’s convinced, step-mother, his wife and his two children, I pity the poor children, different translations, slippy, how she went away, she “died”, is she’s the witch?, and then the witch says almost the exact same thing, the same pattern, the wife being gone…, we can read it the way kids read it, no subtext, how we’re supposed to read it, if you’re reading it to Jesse…, strength against adults, ganging up on the kids, if the mother is a witch…, it takes a little while, sexist!, once a man gives in he has to always give in, close reading, power relationships, giving into authority, keep the faith, math class, the wife would listen to nothing, “he who says A must say B too”, is that the logic?, if a man yields once he’s done for, more concrete in your face, like a cigarette, I already spanked my kid I might as well kill him, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, the nice monster, how do children see their parents?, as we discover…, the part we all understand, I want it now!, what are these stories for? what is their purpose?, at the end of the day kids need to go to sleep, something to chew over while they sleep, how do you choose what story and who to tell it to?, the circumstances for the telling of Hansel and Gretel, the story gets past your defenses, you’re a team against us, how do we steal from mom?, together rather than apart, how to forebear against…, a different message for a different person, where the story resonates, poor little Bubber had no brother or sister to save him from the excesses of his desires, Julie’s first thought, stories adults told, little girls now big girls, too lively?, a dinosaur, interactive storytelling, revelations, The Robber-Bride, for grown ups only?, knock knock the Grimm Bros. are at the door, here are the stories we tell, nothing else going on, the whole purpose, learning to stand up for yourself, imprisoned, she comes into herself, we’re going to ride separately, we each of us stand up for each other, do it yourself, a lot of the parents would be children, as we learn these mythological stories, an oral tradition, an illiterate population, children as the protagonists, a super-interesting story, On Golden Pond, they’ve already gained the wisdom, for children or for everybody?, Cinderella is of marriageable age, a young person, YA, Rapunzel, that prince was not as noble as you may have thought, dark, levels of development, children’s tales, suitable for children?, when you have no other entertainment, really believing in witches, talking animals, if I ask her she will help us, on your nice white back, questioning things, the theory, the house that they find is not the house they started at, crossing of water, a long way around, a symbolic crossing, Gretel as a silly goose, the theme of the birds, Eric S. Rabkin pointed out that the birds are fed by Hansel, making a sacrifice, rewarded, you can eat all the animals, you can feed the animals, eggs, glinting flints, reminding the duck, do the kids know how to swim?, the pearls and precious stones, the food that the witch ate from previous visitors, where do dragons get their treasures?, he that can catch her, a very large fur cap out of the skin of a mouse, a distraction on purpose, the relationship between humans and animals, the iconic image, it’s just the wind, doing what kids do, they eat us out of house and home, we’re starving to death, getting rid of the kids, the next wave of the famine comes, sleeping by a fire, sleeping under a tree, the third sleep is under the roof of the witch’s house, want some candy, endless candy, I don’t care about money I want some candy, witch’s pancakes, eating the roof, nibble nibble like a mouse, ok duh!, the boy gets all the best food, repaid, repetition, get up lazybones, becoming thin, eating the shells of crabs, thinking too much, eating children for their energy and their youth, the stepmother is the witch thesis, not just to keep the man, meals for her, come eat me, a sign of her wealth, a disinterest in making babies, eating children makes you immortal, the cautionary tale to the parent, do the right thing, parents don’t get any names, her name is a description of what she looks like, rampion, who the audience is, wish fulfillment, money can be converted into food, the kids as the heroes, horse and cow stories, mulling over the story, talking about the candy house, the lesson gets past your defenses, everythings safe and wonderful and you’re powerful, you come back ahead, a lot bad relationships, I’m mad at mom right now, the only chracters in the story do a job, the stories are so washed by the river, a pretty well-polished stone with some duck feet paddling above.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #423 – AUDIOBOOK: Dracula by Bram Stoker

May 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

DRACULA by BramStoker

The SFFaudio PodcastLit2GoThe SFFaudio Podcast #423 – Dracula by Bram Stoker, read by Rick Kistner.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (14 Hour 23 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of Lit2Go, a great website offering individual chapter MP3s and streaming audio (all available HERE). Dracula was first published in 1897.

We will discuss Dracula next week.

Dracula (1947) Pocket Books

EERIE - Dracula (1953)

DRACULA by Bram Stoker

DURKIN HAYES - Dracula by Bram Stoker - read by Donald Pickering

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #414 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Unnamable by H.P. Lovecraft

March 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #414 – The Unnamable by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse Willis, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, a joke, W. H. Pugmire, the Lovecraft learning curve, a very short story indeed, the meta-story, beyond our ken, a literary argument, someone from the Great Race Of Yith came back in time, defending his own fiction, playtesting, every paragraph has vocabulary expanding words, resonances between stories, Philip K. Dick, the night, architecture, the numinous, a fake and also legit defense against the arguments marshaled against him, Neil Degrasse Tyson, dark matter, dark energy, a scare story, the orchestration of the vocabulary, the bat, Carter and Manton, the beginning of it, The Unnamable (1988), mercifully short,

It is all in that ancestral diary I found; all the hushed innuendoes and furtive tales of things with a blemished eye seen at windows in the night or in deserted meadows near the woods. Something had caught my ancestor on a dark valley road, leaving him with marks of horns on his chest and of ape-like claws on his back; and when they looked for prints in the trampled dust they found the mixed marks of split hooves and vaguely anthropoid paws. Once a post-rider said he saw an old man chasing and calling to a frightful loping, nameless thing on Meadow Hill in the thinly moonlit hours before dawn, and many believed him.

New England puritanical horror, who it is or what it is, Cotton Mather, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, a hidden murder, Pan, one aspect of the unnameable creature, a faun, a creature of indiscriminate sexuality, pan -> panic, the panisci, the panic of the herd, what are they doing in the hospital, attacked by a bull, a rape story, Archive.org, fs for Ss, the Attic Window, Whispers, The Gable Window by August Derleth, a cruel joke, precipitating the event, Manton’s reaction, ha ha ha I told you so, I whispered an awestruck question, was it like that?, like my memory?, in an earlier age, What Was It? by Fitz-James O’Brien, an unseen demonic force, The Shunned House by H.P. Lovecraft, a two-fisted investigation, flamethrowers, bones and a skull with horns, noisome frigid air, a piercing shriek, a rifted tomb of man and monster, Carter’s sucker punch, an inverse Scooby Doo ending, a malice, a more charitable reading, spinning up a story with a similar effect, the short film, The Shadow Of The Unnamable (2011), the hint of a German accent, the Germans love Lovecraft, the aspect of the animals, the snails, moths, the bat, experiences with bats, tangled in women’s hair, brushed by a bat at night, what is going on in the original Cotton Mather story?, the goose barnacle, bothering farmyard animals, Ring Of Bright Water, a pet otter, a diving terrier, in the film the unnamable has a name: Elida, the 1988 film, the empty Miskatonic University campus, the under-dressed sets, the blank slate (or slab), tabula rasa, nicely drawn out, The Unnamable II: The Statement Of Randolph Carter, a being from “we best not speculate where”, co-terminus beings, an illegible slab, colossal roots sucking, illegible vs. blank, an olive tree, The House by H.P. Lovecraft, magnifying an aspect, a real house, Fungi From Yuggoth, The Howler by H.P. Lovecraft

They told me not to take the Briggs’ Hill path
That used to be the highroad through to Zoar,
For Goody Watkins, hanged in seventeen-four,
Had left a certain monstrous aftermath.
Yet when I disobeyed, and had in view
The vine-hung cottage by the great rock slope,
I could not think of elms or hempen rope,
But wondered why the house still seemed so new.

Stopping a while to watch the fading day,
I heard faint howls, as from a room upstairs,
When through the ivied panes one sunset ray
Struck in, and caught the howler unawares.
I glimpsed—and ran in frenzy from the place,
And from a four-pawed thing with human face.

Lovecraft books become the books, The Weird Writings Of H.P. Lovecraft, spellcasting books,

It had been an eldritch thing—no wonder sensitive students shudder at the Puritan age in Massachusetts. So little is known of what went on beneath the surface—so little, yet such a ghastly festering as it bubbles up putrescently in occasional ghoulish glimpses. The witchcraft terror is a horrible ray of light on what was stewing in men’s crushed brains, but even that is a trifle. There was no beauty; no freedom—we can see that from the architectural and household remains, and the poisonous sermons of the cramped divines. And inside that rusted iron strait-jacket lurked gibbering hideousness, perversion, and diabolism. Here, truly, was the apotheosis of the unnamable.

combining points of view, going back to that 17th century New England horror, The Witch (2016),

Others knew, but did not dare to tell—there is no public hint of why they whispered about the lock on the door to the attic stairs in the house of a childless, broken, embittered old man who had put up a blank slate slab by an avoided grave, although one may trace enough evasive legends to curdle the thinnest blood.

inviting speculation, the image of a person retained in glass, Bob Shaw’s stories about Slow Glass, The Light Of Other Days by Bob Shaw, images imprinted on glass, the motif of photographic lightning, the emotions in physics, The Martians by Ray Bradbury, Oh!, when Paul became an SF fan, legend, the murderer’s eye,

Whether or not such apparitions had ever gored or smothered people to death, as told in uncorroborated traditions, they had produced a strong and consistent impression; and were yet darkly feared by very aged natives, though largely forgotten by the last two generations—perhaps dying for lack of being thought about. Moreover, so far as aesthetic theory was involved, if the psychic emanations of human creatures be grotesque distortions, what coherent representation could express or portray so gibbous and infamous a nebulosity as the spectre of a malign, chaotic perversion, itself a morbid blasphemy against Nature? Moulded by the dead brain of a hybrid nightmare, would not such a vaporous terror constitute in all loathsome truth the exquisitely, the shriekingly unnamable?

The hour must now have grown very late. A singularly noiseless bat brushed by me, and I believe it touched Manton also, for although I could not see him I felt him raise his arm. Presently he spoke.
“But is that house with the attic window still standing and deserted?”
“Yes,” I answered. “I have seen it.”

the skull, the telling of the tale is the summoning of the creature, if only…, Arkham Asylum, rough sex or something, thinking about Elida, why is she so white?, justification, home invaders, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Leatherface takes a moment, backstory, bringing dignity to the situation, get off my tomb!, 6 pages of high level vocab words, the meta-aspect, lazy critical opinions, a linguistic trap, Lovecraft’s riposte to his critics, rumor, imagination, illusion, what effect does it have upon us?, the real horror, what does that do to a man?, Boston, the delicate overtones of life, what are they?, silly milksops, having it both ways, there’s no California gothic, what Algernon Blackwood can do with the wilderness, the power of nature vs. the power of an old building or a graveyard, The Wendigo, a reverence for that witch is unnamed, afflicted by a being, how could Lovecraft exist in a place like California?, had Lovecraft been to Florida by 1925, C.M. Eddy, The Loved Dead, withdrawn from Indiana, Farnsworth Wright, Kissed (1996), a very tasteful and very repellent film, “love knows no bounds”, a take that, Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, In Defense Of Dagon, an old argument, every day things transcribed, a proper film about Albanian engineers, give us some awards, Tropic Thunder (2008), never go full retard, skewering truth, gameas that people play, pretending to have seen movies or read books, the guilty pleasure, don’t listen to the milksops (whatever they are), Philip K. Dick wanted to write realistic fiction, Lovecraft never dabbled in trying to be respectable, intertextual obssession, a library and a graveyard and a grove, F. Scott Fitzgerald, all the problems that the people at the Great Gatsby party have, facing the nature of the universe, keep the fright away, the beauty and terror of the universe, daytime is for writing letters, petting cats, and eating ice-cream, dreams, attacking F. Scott Fitzgerald, great writing, rushingly boundlessly toward, as an even more concrete opposite: Upton Sinclair and Theodore Dreiser, grinding detail, social documents but not fun to read.

Magnalia Christia Americana Book VI page 35 by Cotton Mather
PROVIDENCE - The Unnamable
The Unnamable scene in Providence, issue 8

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

February 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Brilliance Audio - A Monster Calls by Patrick NessA Monster Calls
By Patrick Ness; Narrated by Jason Isaacs
4 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 23 September 2011

Tags: / YA / fantasy / monsters / nightmares / illness /

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…. This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth. Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself.
Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

This book is inspired by an idea from author Siobhan Dowd (4 February 1960 – 21 August 2007). Patrick Ness was granted the opportunity to explore these ideas, and soon ideas gave way to other ideas, which yielded this book. There’s a terrific interview that follows the audiobook reading wherein Ness discusses the writing process and challenges he faced in such an undertaking. Ness successfully sidesteps weighty sentiment and delivers emotional authenticity while allowing room for empathy, and it is for these reasons that this book resonates long after reading.

The writing is clean and the story is as deep and layered as you wish it to be. Don’t let the young protagonist fool you. This isn’t your generic YA plastic-wrap fantasy story packed with breathless bubblegum adventure and paint-by-number characters. There are monsters and there is loss. The emotion is real, and Ness allows enough room for empathy to turn, to circle like an unquiet animal that knows the end isn’t far. Couple this with genuine wisdom, and we have a story that demands attention, that successfully spans that artificial genre-based boundary to shake reader out their slumber.

Jason Isaacs narrates the audiobook, and conducts the follow-up interview with Patrick Ness at the book’s conclusion. Isaacs nails the reading. In my opinion the audiobook is flawless, and Isaacs never makes himself known to the listener, rather he is a conduit, something only the very best readers manage to pull off. Too many contemporary audiobook narrators perform the text when all they need to do is get out of the way and read. Thank you, Jason Isaacs.

Posted by Casey Hampton

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)

Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself

At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.

a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,

Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.

It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.

That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.

poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,

“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 by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

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