October 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #392 – Jesse, Luke Burrage, and Juliane Kunzendorf talk about recent listens, new audiobooks, and comics.

Talked about on today’s show:
what we’ve been listening to lately, a long time, mostly SFFaudio has been a Philip K. Dick podcast lately, fun, picking and choosing, the Philip K. Dick Rhetorizer, motifs and phrases, writerly tics, a TV Tropes for Philip K. Dick, the Wub, Nick And The Glimmung, Galactic Pot Healer, its like telepathy, how many of the short stories, Second Variety (Screamers), kind of monster(y), Jon’s World, Screamers: The Hunting, a break from Philip K. Dick, will we have a PKD wrap up show?, the Best of Philip K. Dick, listen to all of them?, good fun, Hugula Award winners (winners of both Hugos and Nebulas), Alastair Reynolds, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, The Writing On The Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage, graffiti, slaves copying newsletters, an absence of copyright, the 17th century, The Economist, how technology and history intersect, A History Of The World In Six Glasses, The Victorian Internet, full of enlightening history, when the post is delivered 25 times a day, non-fiction, Jared Diamond, educational = entertaining, Simon Vance, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Nineteen-Eighty Four, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisted, early versions, Eric S. Rabkin, Jenny Colvin, what it’s like to live in a world without privacy, scheduled sex, 2011, quitting or pausing an account, always be listening, listening at the gym, get short books, how many Jesses is that?, The Martian Chronicles, reading contest, how many centimeters of books have you read, reading comics, finishing good books feels awesome, listen in the shower, podcasts are better at the gym (or places of higher distraction), reading by language, reading in translation, short and interesting is hard, Pandora’s Star, Otherland, phone in the toilet, plopped, the waterpoof iPhone 7, the Sony ICF-CS15iPN Personal Audio System (“DREAM MACHINE”) (does not work with iPhone 6 or iPhone 7), Jesse is well groomed, it’s time to shave, doing housework, the TVs in a gym, imaging your own dialogue and soundtrack, Pavane by Keith Roberts, Jenny’s Reading Envy podcast, Redemption Ark, an anthropomorphic kangaroo, East German assimilation into West Germany, The Kangaroo Chronicles by Marc-Uwe Kling, before bed laughter, ending the day in a good mood, audio drama before sleep, audio drama is television (or movies) without a picture, The Monster Hunters, werewolves and Draculas, movie associations, dense with material, Die Drei Fragezeichen (the three question marks) aka The Three Investigators, Alfred Hitchcock, set in California but done in German, the Perry Rhodan of audio drama, John Sinclair, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, “structural” storytelling, The Most Powerful Idea In The World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention by William Rosen, steam engines, patents, The Third Horseman: Climate Change And The Great Famine Of The 14th Century, name and place-name pronunciation, 14th century weather, how hungry were the people?, Ireland, eating what’s left in your ancestors skulls, a record of the famine, volcanic eruptions, 1816 (the year without a summer), Switzerland, Krakatoa, pendulum oscillation, unseasonably awesome summers for 400 years, Greenland, Mount Tambora, Updraft by Fran Wilde, A Deepness In The Sky by Vernor Vinge, The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, Kill Or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Criminal, Fatale, period crime, superheroey or supervilliany, real demon vs. brain tumor demon, Westworld, Hard Case Crime comics (Titan Comics), Peepland and Tirggerman, Christa Faust, MMA or UFC, the Snakes On A Plane novelization, Money Shot, the print death spiral, the difference between graphic novels and comics, floppies, “trades” = “trade paperbacks”, Saga by Brian K. Vaughn, IDW, Archangel by William Gibson, time travel to WWII into a copy of our universe, why the half-naked woman on the cover?, naked people (not men), women in comics have massive boobs, the medium of comics developed out of the turn of the 19th and 20th century “physical culture” movement, in Saga you never think it’s too much, sex, an orgy planet, Hard Case Crime covers have women as part of the iconography, owning slaves as titillation?, Cinema Purgatorio, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Max Brooks, very meta, the history of cinema, through the lens of the Marx Brothers, Code Pru, World War Z, A More Perfect Union, the Kickstarter for Cinema Purgatorio, Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Aftershock Comics, Dreaming Eagles, Stephen Spielberg’s Red Tails, Simon Coleby, Francesco Francavilla, WWII, war comics, Eric S. Rabkin, Battlefields: The Night Witches, we need a Nacht Hexen movie!, Harry Turtledove, SPQR by John Maddox Roberts, historical criminal fiction, Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, Scooby Doo, The Mummy and Indiana Jones mixed together, books people would like to see Luke review, Alastair Reynold’s Revenger, rant episodes, nightmare licensing, 10 books for £1 million (in 10 years), do we prefer early books or later books by authors?, Century Rain, Robert J. Sawyer, Golden Fleece, remember enjoying Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven books, setting aside sexist and racist material, Jesse defends Larry Niven, Iain M. Banks, Hominids, reading for ideas, Replay by Ken Grimwood, The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August, Minding Tomorrow by Luke Burrage, recommended many times.

comics on Jesse's desk

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #355 – READALONG: The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

February 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #355 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul Weimer talk about The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
novel or novella, would Lovecraft have published it had he lived longer?, left in a drawer, a first draft, smoothing out, an amazing talent, a fascinating fun world, The Wizard Of Oz, a tour of Lovecraft’s material, not the place to start with Lovecraft, no existential bleakness, surprisingly gentle, even Nyarlathotep is kind of nice, more adventurous, extended into nonsense, marshaling armies, Conan’s messing about is strictly small potatoes, a gregarious jolly man, a sense of fun, poems about Frank Belknap Long’s cat, more lucidity than you expect, the ghouls, the Fungi From Yuggoth cycle, three travelers who’d previously visited the dreamland, one must be the unnamed narrator of The Crawling Chaos, King Kuranes, the narrator of Hypnos, the smoking cosmic gun, The Other Gods, the priest, The Strange High House In The Mist, a night-gaunt, the mythos was largely invented by fans, the nexus point, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, is the graveyard in the Dreamlands?, other ways to get to the Dreamlands, ghoul tunnels, the ghouls are quite friendly, Warren is dead!, the enchanted wood, the Vaults Of Zin, the realm of the Gugs, The Divine Comedy, The Cats Of Ulthar, lots of cats from Ulthar, almost an anime style plot, hilarious, whimsical, swarming cats, unlocking, context, Dunsananian, Polaris, the Land Of Lomar, ahead of Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Paul’s own RPG Dreamlands, slavers, fighting the Moon Men, surprisingly visual, Celephaïs and The White ship, much mining, the Moon wine, lava gatherers, chalcedony mining, Mr. Merchant, Nyarlathotep is the wizard (and the wicked witch), Sauron, Azathoth does the gnawing, Carter’s passivity, Carter’s activity, Indiana Jones in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, an explorer’s adventure, the hound is Belloq, Bryan Alexander, not a horror book, more comedy than horror, the Nigh-Gaunts sound scary but their major power is tickling, Lovecraft has a wicked dry sense of humour, playing with a caricature of himself, based on his own nightmares, squirming feelings, “there’s more of gravy than of the grave about you”, Marley’s ghost, a bit of undigested beef, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the HPLHS’ A Solstice Carol, adapting three Lovecraft stories by way of Dickens, The Festival, Pickman’s Model, The Outsider, it all connects up, Richard Upton Pickman, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, this grand tapestry, Jim’s ball of wax, The Thing On The Doorstep, a shoggoth in those pits, Night-Gaunts (the poem), not seeing the whimsical side of it, a gamer style fashion, in Deities & Demigods, that was all bullshit, Michael Moorcock’s Elric, flying on the night-winds with the ghouls, an internal Lovecraftian world, maps, the map from the Call Of Cthulhu‘s Dreamland Supplements, Sandy Petersen, Jason Thompson’s Dreamlands map, The Green Meadow, the Vaults Of Yin, the Gardens of Zin, how do they get to the Moon on this map?, straight on until morning…, dream logic supplies an endless supply of water, how much is personal and how much is external?, Carter’s Sunset City (Kadath), the gods of earth have abandoned it for Kadath, cosmic horrors, the Games of Divinity, Fungi From Yuggoth, Homecoming (Sonnet V), our experience of reading Lovecraft, Recognition, the book is the key,

IV. Recognition

The day had come again, when as a child
I saw—just once—that hollow of old oaks,
Grey with a ground-mist that enfolds and chokes
The slinking shapes which madness has defiled.
It was the same—an herbage rank and wild
Clings round an altar whose carved sign invokes
That Nameless One to whom a thousand smokes
Rose, aeons gone, from unclean towers up-piled.

I saw the body spread on that dank stone,
And knew those things which feasted were not men;
I knew this strange, grey world was not my own,
But Yuggoth, past the starry voids—and then
The body shrieked at me with a dead cry,
And all too late I knew that it was I!

, the next poem

V. Homecoming

The daemon said that he would take me home
To the pale, shadowy land I half recalled
As a high place of stair and terrace, walled
With marble balustrades that sky-winds comb,
While miles below a maze of dome on dome
And tower on tower beside a sea lies sprawled.
Once more, he told me, I would stand enthralled
On those old heights, and hear the far-off foam.

All this he promised, and through sunset’s gate
He swept me, past the lapping lakes of flame,
And red-gold thrones of gods without a name
Who shriek in fear at some impending fate.
Then a black gulf with sea-sounds in the night:
“Here was your home,” he mocked, “when you had sight!”

then we get The Lamp, Zaman’s Hill, The Port, The Courtyard, XX. Night-Gaunts, XXI. Nyarlathotep, XXII. Azathoth, XXV. St. Toad’s, seeking after visions, XVI. The Window, I.N.G. Culbard’s adaptation of The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath, this is a poem as well, word choices for assonance and alliterative sound, very aural, a pleasure to listen to, meant to be read aloud, Carter looks a lot like Lovecraft (in I.N.G. Culbard’s adaptation, Jason Thompson’s adaptation of The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath, from Dunsany and Poe, it all goes back to Poe with his Dream-land poem, Ulalume, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe,

by Edgar Allan Poe
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE—Out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters—lone and dead,—
Their still waters—still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,—
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,—
By the mountains—near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
By the grey woods,—by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,—
By each spot the most unholy—
In each nook most melancholy,—
There the traveller meets, aghast,
Sheeted Memories of the Past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
’T is a peaceful, soothing region—
For the spirit that walks in shadow
’T is—oh, ’t is an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fring’d lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

the double negative, seeing the mysteries of the dreamlands with the eyes unclosed, protean quality, an evolution of that Dream-Land, the seed that took root in Lovecraft’s mind, pools with lolling lilies, Eldorado, a prodigious dreamer, Tweeting dreams, “I’m prodigious dreamer.”, keeping a dream diary, deeper and more vivid, a dream New York City, Jesse recounts dream of swimming through the streets, a sea-monster, rafts, tables, wonderful wonderful comic books, it is very difficult to read books in dreams, #nightmare, forgetting that he is dreaming, close to waking, dreams while dreaming, Dennis Quaid, Dreamscape (1984), if we can just get the internet of dreams working, awesome and amazing, Waking Life (2001), dreams as prison, Curanes story is in the middle, Curanes has trained a bunch of locals to act English, totally Wizard Of Oz, the magic of three, The Crawling Chaos by H.P Lovecraft and Winifred Virginia Jackson, some sort of plague, opium, he’s inside his own head and walks into the Dreamlands, all cities of amber and chalcedony, deserted cities, amazing imagery, inside baseball, once you’re deep into the trenches…, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman has the same kind of ghouls, the way ghouls get their names (the first person they eat), maybe Pickman got eaten by a ghoul (retcon), meeps or glibbers, planning the assault on Kadath.

The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath by H.P. Lovecraft - illustration by Jason Thompson

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #353 – READALONG: Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick

January 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #353 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
Or How We Got Along After The Bomb, a Nebula Award Nominee?, why this novel?, Now Wait For Last Year, The Man In The High Castle, the ideas are awesome, confusingly written, before the bomb, the earlier atomic blast, jumping back and forth without warning, a subtle change, quasi-flashbacks, a straightforward timeline, jumping between the characters, head hopping, Hoppy Harrington, the Dick themes, Bill’s ability, getting confused, body-switching, consciousness projection, who is Bill?, the parasitic twin brother, Beyond Lies The Wub, the captain is gone, a theme in this story (other than with Bill), telekinetic ability, taking Walt Dangerfield’s place, a weird comedy bit, impressions, is anybody in that satellite at all?, it sounds like him, is Hoppy dead?, he went to Heaven (the satellite), the audiobook narrator’s (Tom Weiner’s) interpretation, bad writing?, dear god!, psychoanalysis, creepy, a mad god resentful of his treatment, the killing of Bluthgeld, something very cool going on, the reason we read Philip K. Dick novels, the Philip K. Dick radio (and other audio interviews), Dick was easily manipulated, you’re an alcoholic, getting into jewelry, a super-impressionable guy, a Zelig, a very human thing (multiplied), Jesse has reviewed himself out, Jesse’s review of Dr. Bloodmoney: a radio repairman with no limbs…, a big fish in a small pond, what Dick knows, an avid mushroom picker, interacting with themselves, a talking sheepdog, Stuart McConchie’s horse, cheating wives, the dog, the rat that plays a nose-flute, he stole the story … but it became part of him (and thus his story), he is a part of her, he is literally inside of her, when someone tells you a story…, classic Dick touches, Cheyenne, a pastoral existence, like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge, they’re crunching their granola, playing video games while listening to audiobooks, Fallout 3, full of mutants, a bit of racism, the second novel with a phocomelus protagonist, Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, supernatural powers, some life crisis, lifts from stories, The Great C, Of Withered Apples, “In Earth’s Diurnal Course”, a title for marketing, Dr. Strangelove, Bluthgeld as Henry Kissinger, Operation Paperclip, Robert McNamara, bone viruses, gooks, the half-baked, Marissa’s Fallout game, post-nuclear war, E-Day (Emergency Day), starts and ends on a morning, one of PKD’s tricks, Vulcan’s Hammer, Now Wait For Last Year, re-resonance, mutants going about their business, thing about the freaks, being that had been fused together, kind of beautiful, the rat pulling a little cart, one of the rat traps is also scurrying, the pizza rat meme, food and other essentials, radiation tablets, the mutants will be fine, the cats, cats start planning and scheming, Paul’s pic of the Roman cat, Mike Cole, ancient history, dancing pigeons, it sang for it’s supper, ruins inhabited by cats, Villa Appia, a rabbit, rabbits in the ruins, Hoppy’s plan, Looper, telekinetic powers, Hoppy is kind of like the Rainmaker, he heals a watch-spring, Galactic Pot-Healer, a technopath, recycling ideas, School For Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough, Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina, the power to command mechanical objections, superhero comics, consistency, Mr. Pistorius (gets murdered), Bluthgeld is insane right?, does he have abilities?, if there is a viewpoint character… Mary Sueing?, Dick is Bluthgeld, we get deep inside his mind, the switch between dialogue and inner monologue, responsibility, his mistaken calculation, you can take it ambiguously, a catalyst for changing the world, his name, Dick likes German names, Mister Jack Tree, Mister Tree, jackfruit, the story of Odin (hung on a tree for nine days), myster tree?, there’s something central about him, undercooked, Hoppy’s desires and plans drive the plot, goals and ambitions, did Hoppy cause the war?, why am I eating this rat?, money is useless, a hoarder, cigarettes, coffee, Philip K. Dick predicted video games, the bottlecaps (are money), a haorder style game, Stuart McConchie is a modern game player, crafting, the boss, a real life boss, very autobiographical, did Dick know an armless and legless person?, Dick’s obsession with his dead twin sister, the whole “I can see into the land of the dead” thing, monstrous children, rock paper scissors, an angry little child, a snail, real senses, the owl, into Hoppy, where did Hoppy go?, into Dangerfield, Dangerfield had something growing inside him, California, so sad, his wife’s still up there with him, another drug overdose, marriage, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Little Movement by Philip K. Dick, Toy Story, Jesse explains the plot of The Little Movement, kinda freaky, an alien invasion fleet, the other toys, the kid is freaked out, everything is going wrong, a very dark Toy Story, by breaking the fourth wall he’s broken a rule, “that’s this book, kinda”, …because I like Germans, so many cool ideas, confusing, so many people, the central axis of what’s happening, Bonnie’s sleeping around, typical PKD wife stuff, petty office politics after the end of the world, post-apocalyptic travel is hard, Russians and Japanese on Catalina, on the other hand…, it’s not all bad, he’s going to automate his cigarette stuffing, hippies hanging out and doing hippy stuff, more about the alcohol, this podcast is petering out, sorry Mr. PKD, it’s not a great book, not the greatest bull-session ever, that sheep dog with no money, catch the stick, good comedy, kind of tragic, he is a monster (but you feel for him), a really good set-up, he got mistreated, surviving and not becoming bitter about it, Dangerfield isn’t bitter, what do they do in Russia, maybe there’s a bunch of other satellites up there, why did this get a Nebula nomination?, we are happy to have read it, whatever’s next on out list…

ACE - Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
Peter Elson illustration of Doctor Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of CONAN RED SONJA by Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian, Randy Green, Rick Ketcham, and Dave Stewart

August 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dark Horse Comics - Conan Red Sonja (Hardcover)

Conan Red Sonja
By Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian, Randy Green, Rick Ketcham, and Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Published: July 2015
ISBN: 9781616556518

Conan Red Sonja is a hardcover collecting issues 1-4 of a limited series of floppies put out by Dark Horse Comics.

I was prompted to review this comic, a trade hardcover actually, after re-reading the review snippets on the back of the book. SciFiPulse, Kabooooom, Geeked Out Nation, and Doomrocket all praised Conan Red Sonja (I think I may have heard of one of these websites before).

And, after reading it myself, I’m thinking it might be time for another opinion on Conan Red Sonja.

I didn’t hate it. But I am very disappointed with it.

I think Conan Red Sonja would make an fine book for a preteen who has not read many comics, or maybe someone a little older who needs a bit of distraction while waiting at an airport, or any someone who needed to get an idea who and what Conan and Red Sonja were but didn’t really want to know any the specifics (for some reason). Conan Red Sonja would make a suitable book for one of these persons.

There are some things Conan Red Sonja has going for it. It isn’t completely disjointed, despite having large time jumps between issues. It contains some good artwork. Some good colouring. It is printed on great paper. It is bound very well.

I also think I like what writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub were aiming at. And to be fair they don’t completely miss the mark. This book has a some nice set pieces. Individual panels here and there can be quite pretty. The splash pages are well composed. The whole package is there. Unfortunately its just lacking in all the little polished details that would have made Conan Red Sonja something really good.

In essence what’s wrong with Conan Red Sonja is that it is just not smart enough.

Now I bet most people who haven’t read a lot of Conan comics wouldn’t expect you’d go to Conan or Red Sonja comics for smartness, but I do.

It used to be that Conan’s stories were based on short stories by Robert E. Howard (and a few other authors). That tended to smarten things up quite a bit. And Conan comics, unlike the superhero comics, had real deaths, people would die and – get this – not just come back a few issues down the road. That was smart too. Trust me, I know whereof I speak on this whole issue. I’ve been reading comics since the mid 1980s. I grew up collecting and reading Savage Sword, Conan The Barbarian, King Kull, Red Sonja and pretty much every other Robert E. Howard character they’d do a comic about. So I know Conan and Red Sonja pretty damn well – and it can be very smart stuff.

This comic isn’t very smart.

I’ll point to five very specific problems:

Conan Red Sonja page 29 "Always"

1. NO GUNS. Despite the drawing above, there are no cannons in the Hyborian age. Maybe this wasn’t actually in the script, maybe this is just a slip-up by an enthusiastic artist who, thinking “this is a pirate ship” and “pirate ships have cannons” drew some cannons. They don’t have cannons, not in the Hyborian Age.

Conan Red Sonja pages 30-31 "Attack"

2. INVERSE RACISM. The pirate ship on the right. Do you see what’s missing? You can’t make racism go away by avoiding situations that might look controversial. Bêlit’s crew is supposed to black, made up exclusively of “ebony-skinned warriors.” Bêlit’s crew, in Conan Red Sonja don’t look ebony to me. Yes, Howard was racist, but Bêlit isn’t racist. She is selfish. Wanton. Cruel. But not racist. Having Bêlit not have a black crew is a stupid way to avoid looking like being racist. It’s like having the Kents of Smallville be Chinese for the purposes of racial diversity, but keeping Clark Kent white – he’s a fucking alien! – So, suffice it to say, I don’t get the point of the change here – it just makes me think yeahhh, they’re afraid to deal with the fact that the creator of this character was racist, so lets pretend everyone is white in the Hyborian Age. Howard specifically sets up this image in Queen Of The Black Coast. Bêlit is an “ivory” skinned warrior woman leading a crew of “ebony” skinned pirates. Deal with it.

Conan Red Sonja page 45 "Unsheathed"

3. NO FUCKING WAY! No, Thoth Amon is not responsible for the poisoning of the Zarkheba River, nor, as we are probably supposed to infer, the subsequent death of Bêlit. Bêlit is responsible for her own death. Despite what writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub have Thoth Amon saying above, there’s no reason at all to have him say it – other than it is something for him to say.

First of all, Thoth Amon isn’t the be-all and end-all of evil in the Hyborian Age – he isn’t the evil behind every evil. He isn’t anything close to being the Professor Moriarty of Hyborian Age (and neither was Moriarty, actually). That’s just lazy, lazy writing.

Thoth Amon shows up in exactly one Robert E. Howard story, The Phoenix On The Sword, and the two characters never actually meet. Or as the Wikipedia page for Thoth Amon puts it “[Thoth Amon] is often used as Conan’s arch enemy in derivative works.” Well, here’s another derivative work to add to the list, Conan Red Sonja.

Moreover, Thoth Amon’s explanation for why he supposedly poisoned the Zarkheba River doesn’t hold water. There were no ruins of a coastal town at the mouth of the river! There was a ruined city upriver, that’s the setting for the climax of Queen Of The Black Coast, but that city was ancient, and had very different reasons for going bad. Again, shitty lazy writing.

Maybe there are excuses for this sort of thing, maybe the folks at Conan Properties International and Red Sonja, LLC, are so worried about protecting the characters they invented claim to own that they are micromanaging the writing team – telling them what can and cannot be written. I don’t know.

Conan Red Sonja - page 56 "A Beaten Hound"

4. ART. When not occasionally looking drugged, sometimes, just from panel to panel, Conan will look like a different dude. He will rapidly grow and then lose abdominal hair. Weird right? Too weird. I could buy a version of Conan with abdominal hair, or a version with chest hair, or a version with hair everywhere, or a Conan with a completely hairless torso (the traditional look). What I can’t buy is the growing and mowing I’m being asked to do between panels. Pick a fucking hair pattern.

Conan Red Sonja - page 81 "I Feed You This Impossibility"

5. LOGIC. While The overall plot McGuffin isn’t bad – I like the idea of a red seed (from space) – one that sprouts a red-thorned vine that infects and chokes all the life out of everything in a land – it’s not a new idea of course, its from H.G. Well’s The War Of The Worlds – I like it! Yet I don’t think this book uses it very well. For example, we’re told it kills absolutely everything it gets close to, and so when Conan, after getting infected somehow (the book doesn’t show us how) – after getting infected Conan has the red thorny vines growing out of the muscle on his left forearm. His cure for this infection is fire (which is cool) but when the red thorny vine grows back Conan just pulls it out by the root – and that cures it?!? WTF!? What about all the other people and animals and plants that were killed by this invasive red alien plant? You’re expecting me to accept that this burn it then pull it technique will work for Conan but didn’t work for anyone else?

And that again is the problem with Conan Red Sonja, this book doesn’t expect anything of me. It certainly doesn’t respect the rules and patterns of the Hyborian Age and so it can’t and doesn’t respect itself.

I’ve seen this happen with a lot with corporate controlled franchises. They turn a character with whom an author told stories into fan service machines – telling us more about the character and forgetting what made the original writing so compelling.

Don’t give us more backstory, don’t give us prequels, do something awesome.

Posted by Jesse Willis


August 10, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #329 – Jesse, Scott, Jenny, Tamahome and Paul talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
ecomic, The BOZZ Chronicles by David Michelinie and Bret Blevins, Dover Publications, Iron Man, The New Mutants), a “plucky prostitute”, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, the Guardian Podcast, a tyranny of circumstances, The Cold Equations, The Coode Street Podcast, Interstellar, interestingly depressing, Ali Ahn, Hachette, this is all Paul, City of the Chasch: The Tschai, Planet of Adventure, Book 1 by Jack Vance, interesting language, strange customs, fun books, Blackstone Audio, Resurrection House, Reading Envy, Archangel (Book One of the Chronicles of Ubastis) by Marguerite Reed, beasts, military SF, on a planet?, she’s a mother, Terpkristin, Octavia Butler, Dark Disciple: Star Wars, Marc Thompson, Random House Audio, sound effects?, The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science fiction 7, Infinivox, read by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari, Bryan Alexander, Elizabeth Bear, Robert Reed, Alastair Reynolds, Michael Swanwick, Peter Watts, The Flicker Men by Ted Kosmatka, Keith Szarabajka, scientists in labs, Robert J. Sawyer, FlashForward, Blackstone Audio, throwing on a throwback, Thorns by Robert Silverberg, Stefan “the great” Rudnicki, Skyboat Media, from 1967, Ultima, Proxima Book 2 by Stephen Baxter, wild galaxy spanning stuff, Tantor Media, Per Ardua Ad Astra = by struggle to the stars, the Xeelee books, “Traditional Fantasy”, no homosexuals or gender swapping, Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb, lots of fantasy, she writes books people really like Queen of Fire by Anthony Ryan, read by Steven Brand, “urban or contemporary fantasy”, The City And The City, Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville, WORKING FOR BIGFOOT Stories from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, Buffy, American Harry Potter?, James Marsters, The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1 by N.K. Jemisin, secondary world fantasy, post apocalyptic fantasy, City Of Stairs, Deceptions A Cainsville Novel by Kelley Armstrong, The Tale Of The Body Thief, Anne Rice, The Undying Legion by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith, The Conquering Dark: (Crown & Key Book 3) by Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith, read by Nicholas Guy Smith, paranormal romance, Earth Bound (Sea Haven #4), Christine Feehan, horror/suspense, Finders Keepers, Stephen King, audiobook exclusive, Drunken Fireworks, a sample of Tim Sample’s audio narration, THE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: The Haunted City edited by Jason Blum, The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy podcast, Joel and Ethan Cohen, The Purge, Ethan Hawke, Eli Roth, Alive, Scott Sigler, Empty Set Entertainment, the warping of society, contemporary criticism, nonfiction, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, Geoff Colvin, could our jobs be replaced by robots or computers?, Tam is their pet, Ex Machina is idea heavy, audio drama or “Audio Dramer”, an Idahoan accent?, And the Sun Stood Still, LA Theatre Works, Dava Sobel, Nicolaus Copernicus, Werner Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, how do we get access to plays, television seems insane to Jesse, there should be a Broadway channel, new podcasts: the Black Tapes podcast, SERIAL, NPR-style audio drama, fake pop journalism, The Great Courses’ The Torch podcast, Eric S. Rabkins course, The American Revolution (Great Courses), Neil deGrasse Tyson’s courses on Netflix, the GENRE STOP! podcast (a readalong style podcast), Ancillary Justice, The Martian, engineering fiction, applied science, readalong style, The Writer And The Critic, The Incomparable podcast, Read-A-Long, “when you hear a chime turn the page”, Books On The Nightstand podcast, The Readers podcast, Booktopia, Readercon, Fourth Street Fantasy, deep discussions, book centric panels, reader centric panels, a Roger Zelazny panel, a Jack Vance panel, Anne Vandermeer on Reading Envy, The Guardian Podcast, whooooah!, paperbook: The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath And Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Jason Thompson (adaptor/illustrator) The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft, Sergio Aragones, Groo, the marginalia in Mad magazine, page composition, J.H. Williams III, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, the final episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a map of the dreamlands, it’s a map man!, illuminated maps,

Dreamlands poster by Jason Thompson

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #328 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft

August 3, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #328 – The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 23 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Seth, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
a Science Fiction, Horror, or Fantasy story?, hard to classify, Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, wistful elements, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, a spiritual or psychological analog, a long prose poem, describing lands that never were, a lovely little tale, narrative isn’t exactly the point, the bird, the bird as an eidolon of the ship, the eidolon Lathi, Jason Thompson‘s comic adaptation of The White Ship, the ghost ship, why is the bird blue?, over the cataract, falls as if it wasn’t going to, the world ending, a description of Cathuria, aloe and sandalwood, an imagined land, dreaming Cathuria into existence, the sacred river Narg, Kublai Khan, a dream snatched away and smashed, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allan Poe, Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe,

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE—Out of TIME.

Lathi and Thalarion, Celephais, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, an old dreamer and lighthouse keeper of Kingsport town, fewer and fewer ships, a great delusional fugue state, a white spar and a blue bird, Polaris, a watchman in a watchtower, a beautiful symmetry, structural similarity, a beautiful dead woman, Eleonora, Ligeia, Morella, un-whimsical, Hypnos, the bearded mentors, astral projected journey, going to far, moon-beams, The Moon-Bog, a bridge of moon-beams, big ancient cities, civilization, you can’t have books without cities, lore x 3, he was given many books in his youth, when he was young and filled with wonder, Thanatos the Greek god of death, the throne of Azathoth, a dream of falling, the sin, Randolph Carter is seeking in the dreamlands, where the gods dwell, the gods have conquered, the person from Porlock, Jeff Vandermeer’s dream, William Hope Hodgson, fungal growths,

Then came we to a pleasant coast gay with blossoms of every hue, where as far inland as we could see basked lovely groves and radiant arbours beneath a meridian sun. From bowers beyond our view came bursts of song and snatches of lyric harmony, interspersed with faint laughter so delicious that I urged the rowers onward in my eagerness to reach the scene. And the bearded man spoke no word, but watched me as we approached the lily-lined shore. Suddenly a wind blowing from over the flowery meadows and leafy woods brought a scent at which I trembled. The wind grew stronger, and the air was filled with the lethal, charnel odour of plague-stricken towns and uncovered cemeteries. And as we sailed madly away from that damnable coast the bearded man spoke at last, saying: “This is Xura, the Land of Pleasures Unattained.”

The Valley Of Unrest by Edgar Allan Poe,

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

what the heck does that mean?, nameless things that feast upon the corpses of men, a large layer of death, allegorical symbolism, the platonic forms,

“On the green and flowery mountains of Cathuria stand temples of pink marble, rich with carven and painted glories, and having in their courtyards cool fountains of silver, where purl with ravishing music the scented waters that come from the grotto-born river Narg.”

what good writing!, Fungi From Yuggoth XVIII: 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.

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.

verse for birthday cards, The Haunted Lake, Christmas poems, a concordance of themes, all the shades of Lovecraft, The Picture In The House, The Bells, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the discover of sanity blasting horrors, ebbs and flows, soul and sanity loss, cosmic transcendence, drawing what we see,

“For the aeons that I dwelt there I wandered blissfully through gardens where quaint pagodas peep from pleasing clumps of bushes, and where the white walks are bordered with delicate blossoms.”

Basil Elton’s sin, distant whispers, really?, better than Sona-Nyl?, “Dude you’ve always lived alone!”, a sea-faring Tyler Durduen, a Coleridgian-Obi-Wan Kenobi, a big eastern theme, fantastical oriental places, like Narnia, Arabia mythologized, a marked contrast, Lovecraft as a homebody in the center of a great American port, like living in Atlanta and never getting on an airplane, Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein, wherever you go, there you are, an interesting visualization, Celephais, writing down dreams, a penniless tramp, travels tell me, King Kuranes, his spirit lives on in the dreamlands, scented monsters, the basalt pillars of the west, Jason And The Argonauts, the Pillars of Hercules, Gibraltar, DC Comics, Thalarion and Themyscira, The H.P. Lovecrafts‘ song The White Ship, late-sixties hippies and beatniks, wow these are AMAZING!, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Providence 02 - The White Ship illustration by Jacen Burrows

The Gardens Of Yin by H.P. Lovecraft illustrated by Jesse

Jason Thompson's comic of H.P. Lovecraft's The White Ship

The White Ship - illustrated by Jason Eckhardt

The White Ship by H.P. Lovecraft - Illustration by Alec Stevens (from Anything Goes, issue 4)

Posted by Jesse Willis

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