Talked about on today’s show:
Book 4, from The Taming Of Smeagol to the end of The Two Towers, or “Don’t get tangled-up with a spider”, or “Frodo slogging through the marshes forever”, or “nothing but a bunch of people walking”, Jesse’s least favorite, so gloomy, poems, flora, fauna, stew, Julie thinks it’s necessary, encounters, the overall gloom, the purification of Frodo, also Sam, carry-on and finish-off, Sam as the hero, Sam telling the story, Sam is the lowest of the low, the evolution of Sam, Sam is jealous of Gollum, Jesse loves the meta-stuff, “Mr Frodo, sir”, Smeagol must save them both, once upon a time, “Tell me more about Sam, dad.”, the huge elf warrior, Gollum’s story, we’re never the villain, what inspired Richard K. Morgan’s The Steel Remains, seeing it from the orcs’ point of view, how well structured, looking forward and looking back, nuanced and multi-layered, Tolkien’s reputation, a very black and white moral sensibility…, the other point of view, the creation of orcs, Melkor, one of the seven gods of Middle Earth, the blight of Mordor, the flowers on the crown, dark and light, Frodo and Gollum, old and beautiful vs. old and pitiable, they could have been each other, the argument between Gollum and himself, the editing, why is Gollum bad, stinker and slinker, Sam’s apology to Smeagol, Smeagol is passive aggressive, the timing as the greatest tragedy of the whole book, Cory Olsen, the lost opportunity, twisting the promise, what the ring has promised him, Gollum the great could eat fish three times a day!, his modest dreams, like a dog off a leash, he’s like a dog in every way, guilty dogs, dogs turning on their masters, fish are sweet to Gollum, everything that we like he hates, calling Gandalf’s words to mind, the big picture, the eye is looking for you, Smeagol’s contribution, even the worst evil, chance if chance you call it, diverting evil to good, the deal with Faramir, another structural thing, three travelers in a land, Riders Of Rohan, who be you, it is totally a mirror, Aragorn and crew, revealing vs. being discovered, the righteous, blindfolded again, a foreshadowing of Éowyn, well the Rohirrim are great but…, bear that in mind, Faramir’s mind reading power, who are the Númenóreans?, Jesse thinks it is wisdom, not so much about race, it’s because he’s full of lore, the mind reading thing, Galadriel’s telepathy, “No”, “come hither”, ESP?, character vs. race, country first (Borimir) vs. wisdom first (Faramir),
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
this is the guy, the BBC radio drama, you ran all the way to me!?, Tolkien is teasing us, an echo of Galadriel, grey eyes glinting, not if I found it on the highway, “It’s not a romance novel, Julie.”, “Wow, what a guy!”, David Wenham, Aragorn is a ranger of the North and Faramir is a ranger of the South, Sam’s oliphant, what false promises did Sauron make to these guys?, dressed like Robin Hood and the merry men of Sherwood, one of the most religious things in The Lord Of The Rings, a meeting in the secret lair, Sam’s overspeaking reflecting Frodo’s overspeaking back in the Prancing Pony, heart over head, another geographical reflection, behind a waterfall, Helm’s Deep, seeing Rohan, seeing the storm, the dark skies, Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul, the chapter titles, The Passage Of The Marshes, The Black Gate Is Closed, Of Herbs And Stewed Rabbit, ruin the conies, the homely things, pots and pans, the phial of Galadriel, the Checkov’s shotguns, the belt that Borimir was given, the magic items, used once, Hobbits learn to cook before they speak, the rope!, Shelob stings Frodo like when Frodo is stung by the morgul blade back at Weathertop, running blindly on the bridge, Cirith Ungol, Shelob is Ungoliant’s daughter, the children of Shelob inhabit Mirkwood, South African spiders, how many time has the ring been worn?, Bilbo at the party, Frodo at the Prancing Pony, Frodo at Weathertop, Frodo at Amon Hen, Frodo at Borimir’s confrontation, Sam at Shelob’s lair, the ring’s effect on Sam, different people are effected differently by the ring, Frodo’s power with the ring would be to command, the ring is like a computer, if you think google is the internet…, the ring gives invisibility as a basic power, it gives Sam the power of sharp hearing and translation, Frodo can see more, Sam’s superpower is listening (he was an eavesdropper), as they approach Mordor the ring gets heavier and more powerful, leap from a precipice into a fire, it also blinds Frodo, the ring’s perception, “the master’s back”, because it is linked to Sauron, like a dog?, back to the magic items, if you play Dungeons and Dragons, a bow of plus to killing orcs, even Borimir’s gift, Sam’s dirt, Frodo’s phial, Sting from Frodo to Sam, leaving the Mithril armor, and then there’s the rope, the tying of the rope, is it a magic rope?, Galadriel’s rope?, that’s not her gift, words have power, another manifestation, “We got rope” [says some random elf], cloaks, rope, and bread, who is following?, is Gollum really allergic to the rope, if somebody tied me up, he can’t eat the lembas, he hates light, the ropes, and the nice things, climbing down Dracula-style, he knows his knots, the mystery from the previous, what happened to the entwives?, back in the Green Dragon Inn, “oh those tales”, the Ents tell where the Entwives went, the Brown Lands are brown, Jesse found a thread somewhere on the internet, Teleporno, a lot of digital ink was spilled, the last paragraph of page 258, just after watching the storm, “the skirt of the storm”, primed for finding the entwives, looking at Fanghorn,
At last they were brought to a halt. The ridge took a sharper bend northward and was gashed by a deeper ravine. On the further side it reared up again, many fathoms at a single leap: a great grey cliff loomed before them, cut sheer down as if by a knife stroke. They could go no further forwards, and must turn now either west or east. But west would lead them only into more labour and delay, back towards the heart of the hills; east would take them to the outer precipice.
“There’s nothing for it but to scramble down this gully, Sam,” said Frodo. “Let’s see what it leads to!”
“A nasty drop, I’ll bet,” said Sam.
The cleft was longer and deeper than it seemed. Some way down they found a few gnarled and stunted trees, the first they had seen for days: twisted birch for the most part, with here and there a fir-tree. Many were dead and gaunt, bitten to the core by the eastern winds. Once in milder days there must have been a fair thicket in the ravine, but now, after some fifty yards, the trees came to an end, though old broken stumps straggled on almost to the cliff’s brink. The bottom of the gully, which lay along the edge of a rock-fault, was rough with broken stone and slanted steeply down. When they came at last to the end of it, Frodo stooped and leaned out.
ties it too a stump, got this rope from the elves, oh I don’t want it elf rope behind, the rope is not magic, not really high fantasy, the birch stump untied the rope!, the last of the entwives, Frodo and Sam aren’t looking out for the entwives, “10 points for creativity”, a structural argument, they untie their bonds and sit down on a stump, answering any and every question, Julie goes with Tolkien’s answer, Jesse argues for the book over the author, here’s proof that the entwives are there, every time Galadriel’s name gets mentioned, the last thing he says is Galadriel and he strokes the rope, there is no truth of the matter, we cannot go to Middle Earth except by reading this book, Jesse keeps marshaling the argument, “you will find friends”, “Elrond is right”, two hobbits sit down on a stump and are taken by a tree, on the edge of a forest, symmetrically it works, an undefeatable argument unless, if were trying to solve mysteries…, the fragrant area, it used to be, this place had its history too before it was the Brown Lands, there are things we don’t know and things Tolkien didn’t know about it, world-build the hell out of it, structurally: the time, a three day foot journey to the west and a three day foot journey to the east, near simultaneous action, the end of page 70, even the wind is mapped out, Emun Myul, “almost felt you liked the place?”, a magic talking tree, the final nail in the coffin, the birch, the word book comes from the word birch, bravo bravo, the mystery is left there, when we were talking about the word stuff, Tom Bombadil,
‘It’s a trap!’ said Sam, and he laid his hand upon the hilt of his sword; and as he did so, he thought of the darkness of the barrow whence it came. ‘I wish old Tom was near us now!’ he thought. Then as he stood, darkness about him and a blackness of despair and anger in his heart, it seemed to him that he saw… a light in his mind, almost unbearably bright at first…. Far off… he saw the Lady Galadriel… in Lórien, and gifts were in her hands. And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear, for you I have prepared this.
and that happens again, Sam brings light by thought, the big theme, with this phial, brandishing this light, intolerable light, unbearable light, the infection of light, Frodo asleep becoming a phial of light, Sam seeing it in Frodo, Frodo fading?, Frodo purified?, light going through him, the pincushion effect!, Frodo the white, the trend of weariness, the fate of all the elves, Mythgard Academy, that’s a choice, The Choices Of Master Samwise, you noodle!, everything that happens in the last book, foolish choices (wise choices), signing a contract you haven’t read, who would have the ring now?, somebody cut this open, the orcs had orders, in the floaty ghosty of the eye, the black hand only has four fingers, does Sauron have a body?, rolling Frodo into a ditch, all my choices have proved ill, what good lay in choice?, the very last map in The Two Towers, the wetwang and the entwash, Rohan, the new book The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski, telling the story of The Inklings, Lewis’ atheism and conversion, intertextuality, reading each other’s minds, Eagle And Child pub, Hugo Dyson, an alternate theory on the entwives, the vocal mannerisms of treebeard are those of C.S. Lewis, the question is not: “where are the entwives” but rather “where are our husbands?”, Dorothy L. Sayers, a male exclusive club, christian apologetics, a shoo–in.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
On the comparative merits of the book, movie, and the BBC audio drama; the similarity between the audio drama and the film; Ian Hom as Frodo in the audio drama (elder Bilbo in the film) and Michael Hordern as Gandalf; Rob Inglis’s superb audiobook narration and singing; poetry and singing as a reflection of Tolkien’s mythological influence; Kenneth Morris’s influence on Tolkien; The Silmarillion and the creation of Middle Earth; The Tolkien Professor and Michael Drout as resources for further Tolkien scholarship; Jesse’s first encounter with The Hobbit; the birth of Jesse’s fascination with audiobooks; the depth of Tolkien’s world-building and lack of depth in fantasy successors; Aragorn is unsung hero; on how the audio helped Jenny get a handle on the series; Seth’s regular reading of the novels; Maissa has questions as a new reader; the cliffhanger ending of Book I; on the making of the rings; the ring as an analogy to modern technological addiction; Steve Jobs as Sauron; Maissa envisions true palm technology and Jesse envisions a real technological ring; Doctor Who; Socrates, Gyges, and a ring of invisibility, how much agency does the Ring have?; religious subtext; more on the ring’s agency; “more than one power at work”; on how Tolkien had to retcon The Hobbit; Tolkien’s letters and his attention to detail; Frank Herbert’s similar world building process in Dune; on Middle Earth’s historical depth; the cats of Queen Berúthiel; Farmer Maggot vs. the Black Rider; hobbits make the story relatable; Gandalf as rabble-rousing priest and prophet (Moses, Jeremiah); “birthday presents” and the circularity of the tale; “The Conspiracy Unmasked” and the power of friendship; the untold tale of Fredegar Bolger; on the faults of hobbits; parallels with modern military conflicts; economics in the books (or lack thereof); the varieties of goodness and evil; the Prancing Pony has free wi-fi; a time of transition and the Elves’ pilgrimage to the Gray Havens; on Gollum’s possession of the ring; Tom Bombadil as unexplained phenomenon; Jesse wants a Tom Bombadil Bed and Breakfast; on the importance of Frodo’s encounter with the Barrow White; Tolkien could have written weird fiction; Sam’s selfless sacrifices; Tolkien’s impact on our real lives; we are all Butterburs wanting to be Sams; Sam learning his letters; class differences in the Shire, Hobbiton as Downton Abbey; “the road goes ever on”; does Sauron have corporeal existence?; no Harry Potter style set pieces in favor of a much more organic feel; Jesse tells us the definition of scrumping; Tolkien’s descriptions of nature; on Tolkien and fantasy tropes; influence on Dungeons and Dragons; Bombadillo cadence; comparisons with contemporary writing of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser series and Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories; Tolkien’s preference for allegory over history; the power of words in Tolkien and its parallel with Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea; on the novel’s slow opening; on the film’s simplification of plot and characters, Merry and Pippin in the film are Dumb and Dumber; if Gandalf can make fireworks, why are there no guns in Middle Earth?; for a wizard, Gandalf doesn’t do much magic; (who let the dogs out?); Tolkien and World War I; on Gandalf’s refusal to take the ring; on the etymology of wraith and the origin of the ring wraiths; more on Plato and Socrates’s Ring of Gyges parable; Gollum’s fascination with roots and beginnings; Aragorn’s healing power (foreshadowing!); giving the ring to the wrong person is “like giving a machine gun to a baby”; Saruman twisted by even the idea of the ring; Maissa is a prescient reader.
Posted by Jesse Willis
This is a pretty terrific adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire classic, Carmilla. David Warner is wonderful as the father of the doomed Laura. And the music sounds, to my untrained ear, like that from Wojciech Kilar‘s in the 1992 movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
By Don McCamphill; Adapted from the novella by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; performed by a full cast
Approx 44. Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Brodcaster: BBC Radio 4 Extra
Broadcast: Nov 1, 2011
A young woman finds her lonely existence in a remote Austrian castle enlivened by the arrival of a mysterious and beautiful visitor – Carmilla. What was the unworldly setting in which they last met? And why does Carmilla so violently reject the hawker’s amulet designed to ward off evil spirits?
Produced for BBC Northern Ireland Drama.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #275 – Jesse and Mr Jim Moon discuss Ivanhoe: A Romance by Sir Walter Scott
Talked about on today’s show:
1820, the Tantor Media audiobook as read by Simon Prebble, 3 comic book adaptations!, the July 2014 BBC Radio 4 adaptation (1hr), General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, immensely important, Wamba and Gurth, looking at adaptations, refinement, Robin Hood (1973), the splitting of the arrow, a willow wand, daring-do fiction, archery, folktale, Will Scarlet splits the arrow in the Queen Katherine Ballad, the historical inaccuracies, Rob Roy, a plump text, King Richard and Friar Tuck, The Merchant Of Venice by William Shakespeare, a very Shakespearean novel, pithy and punchy, dialogue and banter, The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, fully motivated characters, Athelstane, colour cloaks, where does Isaac stat at Ashby?, Chapter 2 Gurth is “this second Eumaeus”, Ivanhoe is a retelling of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca, the usurpation, the governance of Scotland, the Saxons as the Scots under the English yoke, Loxley, Prince John, King John, Magna Carta, robber barons, Brian de Bois-Guilbert (wants Rebecca), Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, “Front of Beef” (wants Isaac’s money), Maurice de Bracy (wants Rowena), war and God, the 1997 BBC TV adaptation of Ivanhoe, an Arthurian style obsession, the reconciliation, Athelstane is almost a Hobbit, Athelstane death is a comedic version of a Guy de Maupassant or Edgar Allan Poe premature burial story, The Fall Of The House Of Usher done as farce, Monty Python And the Holy Grail, surprisingly few deaths, “boys own adventure”, The A-Team, Ulrica’s death, the the Waverley Novels, almost a Fantasy, magic, The Prisoner Of Zenda, venison, the Douglas Fairbanks Robin Hood, the Black Knight – who could it be?, how easy would the disguises be seen through in 1820, bigger than Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, stage adaptations, Waverley places around the world, Abbotsford, British Columbia is named (in part) after Sir Walter Scott’s home, Ivanhoe’s popularity in the southern United States, invasion, slavery and chivalry, underselling the power of fiction (as compared with non-fiction), On The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin, The Communist Manifesto, Tolkien, understanding fiction, the revelation of truth through fiction, novels were once quite novel, the need for novels, models of action, 1984 changes, helps and improves you, “what is honorable action?”, the power of oaths, rapacious acquisition vs. honorable service, the destruction of the Templars, banishment was a harsh punishment, an obsession with love, Rebecca is the female Ivanhoe, the role of the Jews in the book vs. the adaptations, banking, this is not an anti-Semitic book (shockingly), the coin counting scene, the roasting scene, Friar Tuck is super-anti-Semitic, Churchill’s background, why is it that English were not as anti-Semitic as most of Europe?, a zeitgeisty historical novel, looking at the present through a historical lens, puffy, the level of intellect is very high – the etymology of pig, Lincoln Green, the final battle, a powerfully intellectual book for a piece of fiction, mid-19th century fiction isn’t as punchy, wit and intelligence in peasant characters, J.K. Rowling must have read Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott’s was “the Wizard Of The North”, Cedric <-the name comes from this book, "freelance" <-lances for hire, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, Robin Hood (Ridley Scott), Robin Hood’s nom de guerre, ITV’s Robin Of Sherwood <- both Robin Hood mythologies are in it!, the "Dread Pirate Roberts", a good knight but a bad king, pagan gods, Herne the Hunter, Ivanhoe popularized the Middle Ages, Arthurian scholarship, folk customs, the ancient Egypt craze, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, a big powerful book, A Song Of Ice And Fire is kind of the anti-Ivanhoe, the Dunk And Egg stories, surprisingly modern, the symmetry of Ivanhoe, a tonic for gallstones, HBO should commission Ivanhoe, the 1952 version, the 1982 version, Ciarán Hinds, Mark Hamill, Kevin Costner vs. Alan Rickman, a noir ending averted.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute; read by Simon Prebble. Jesse fends off illness to lead us in an intriguing discussion about Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel. This podcast features Jesse, Jenny, Seth, and Paul.
Talked about on today’s show:
Reversed seasons in Southern Hemisphere; novel originally serialized in London weekly periodical The Sunday Graphic; “on the beach” as naval phrase meaning “retired from service”; the novel almost universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike; what is the ideal time frame for an end-of-the-world scenario?; On The Beach as bleak existential novel; the author’s avoidance of political or religious polemic; 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins; Australia as a secular nation; Earth Abides by George R. Stewart; Endgame by Samuel Becket; the novel as a metaphor for terminal cancer patients; The Star by Arthur C. Clarke; abstract sterile end-of-world mechanics, a “cosy catastrophe“; 2008 BBC radio adaptation; 2000 TV movie starring Bryan Brown, modernized and featuring a much more optimistic tone; Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick 2012; could the novel’s characters done more to ensure the continued survival of humanity?; fallout shelters, “duck and cover!”; Chernobyl; rampant alcoholism; euthanasia; attitudes toward media–were newspapers responsible for the war?; regression of technology in the novel; The Waveries by Fredric Brown; we wish the Cosy Catastrophe genre would supplant Paranormal Romance; reflection of a pre-WWI era arms race; 1959 movie version tackles Cold War paranoia; U.S. government’s criticism of the novel; Five Years by David Bowie; faced with the end of the world, our panel would evidently read Marcel Proust; needless revisions in film adaptations; much action takes place “off the page” in the novel; lookism; The Scarlet Plague by Jack London; Simon Prebble’s excellent audio narration; George Orwell’s 1984; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and logotherapy; Jay Lake and his bout with cancer; Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and how we’re haunted by the people who are no longer with us; the novel’s three-dimensional characters; Nevil Shute employs typical British understatement; Lord of the Rings‘s Denethor and the idea of hopelessness; Egyptian tomb goods and attitudes towards death; Jesse plans his funeral rites.
Posted by Seth Wilson
Talked about on today’s show:
Jonathan Davis, Pat Fraley, Scott Brick is the Brad Pitt of audiobooks and Simon Vance is the George Clooney of audiobooks, how Simon Vance got started, reel to reel tape recorder, Winnie The Pooh, BBC Radio 4, 1980s, Brighton, RNIB, Grover Gardner, George Guidall, The Book At Bedtime, Margaret Thatcher, California, San Francisco, Christian and devotional audiobooks, “we sound more intelligent (but we’re not)”, Stieg Larsson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Audiofile Magazine, Earphone Awards, England, Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the apprenticeship, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, a classic dystopia, Thirteen (aka Black Man), The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, artfulness and in-artfulness of narration, Doctor Who, overwhelming music -> overwhelming emotion, The Lord Of The Rings, the good narrators do the unexpected, “boo”, Dune by Frank Herbert (the full-cast audiobook), Goodreads.com, Simon Prebble, V For Vendetta by Steve Moore, the comic + the movie + Simon Vance = great audiboook, Natalie Portman was awesome, Stephen Rea, most novelizations are terrible, Hugo Weaving, James Bond, Ian Fleming, AudioGo, Blackstone Audio, the Green Knowe books, Listen And Live, Kate Fleming, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, a complicated book, a second chance, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast review of The Prestige (episode #177), the movie of The Prestige, a final trick, one of the best Science Fiction movies of the last ten years, a thinking man’s book (and movie), The Illusionist, stage magic vs. CGI magic, The Magic Circle, Left for Dead: The Untold Story Of The Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race by Nick Ward and Sinead O’Brien, survival, Antarctica, fiction vs. non-fiction, a cabinet of heads, WWII, the Patrick O’Brian books (the Aubrey–Maturin series), Master And Commander, the incomplete book 21, Robert Hardy and Tim Piggot-Smith, what SFF Simon Vance book should we check out?, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, The Exodus Towers, The Plague Forge, zombie apocalypse, aliens, “good honest adventure”, Pan Books Of Horror, c, Rama, Rama II, The Man In The High Castle, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, a PDF listing Simon Vance’s audiobooks, out of print audiobooks, Audible.com, Christopher Priest’s other audiobooks are done by other audiobook narrators, Peter Ganim, Robert J. Sawyer, The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks, rights issues, keep your audiobooks.
Posted by Jesse Willis