Jack Ward of the Sonic Society podcast has just informed me of some terrible news (read Jack’s tribute here). Humanity’s friend, Bill Hollweg, of Miles, Texas and BrokenSea Audio Productions, is dead.
I do not know the details of his death, I heard he’d taken his own life, but I do know that whatever he died of it must really have been that his heart was far too big.
To say that Bill was a generous man is to be uncharitable with words. Bill was a champion of that which is best in life, with a voice like a gravel pit and a pen like a sage.
I had far too few meetings with him, and he was a better friend to me than I deserved. I suspect I am not alone in this.
I first found Bill’s work on the web, about a decade ago, and as happens, we soon became, as he put it “amigos.”
His enthusiasm was contagious.
I last heard from in December in a brief comment consisting mostly of an oath to Crom that I “rock” – but the truth is it was Bill who rocked, and I swear it by Crom.
Bill well knew that there was no use in calling on the gods, for they care little for men. They merely laugh and send down dooms, if they even hear. But though Crom is grim and loveless, he gave one boon to Bill, at birth Crom breathed power to strive and create into Bill’s soul.
I, as just one of his chroniclers, do not have the complete picture, but I do know that to live life as Bill did is a goal worthy of any man.
As lovers of the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs how could Bill and I not have become the fastest of friends?
But Bill could surprise me. In one of our last exchanges he told me that he was thinking he needed to “re-read Moby Dick for the zillionth time!” I had, at the time read it only twice.
But truly this is not a tragedy. In fact, it all makes a grim kind of sense. Bill had been a sailor, and like Steve Costigan a fighter. A true veteran, and then a steely warrior, laughing in the face of rent-seeking vampires of cultural suppression. And now, like John Carter, though his body is here, his spirit has left the Earth for more adventurous climes. Call him Ishmael.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Asimov’s Science Fiction, Mid-December 1983, longer forms, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, the Patternist novels, the scene on the bus, Parable Of The Sower, Parable Of The Talents, Kindred, Sisters Of The Revolution, The Evening And The Morning And the Night, disease, bio Science Fiction, the virology labs, Xenogenesis trilogy, aliens, breeding humans, public transportation science fiction stories, Philip K. Dick, Los Angeles, The Commuter, Ray Bradbury, The Pedestrian, interacting with the public, The Chrysalids, The Day Of The Triffids, The Walking Dead, how this world got to be how it is, slowly interrogate, her central thesis: civilization = communication, how does the bus driver get paid?, what percentage of the population died?, a normal route, one guy is the bus system, how does Obsidian get paid?, paid in sex?, post-apocalypse reveling Jenny, the creepy smelly wordless cult leader, how many women could speak?, right handed men, feminism, creepy men creeping on women, play dumb and pack a gun, our zombies are different, unique special snowflake zombies, body language, was it the Soviets?, you think you’re better than me?, a perfect nightmare of Hell, the law of the jungle, Obsidian is mentally impaired, if there ever was going to be a TV adaptation they’d call it “The Silence”, au contraire, standing spear-carrier, a swapped languages Vietnam War movie [subsequent research turns up no evidence that this film exists], everyone else is an alien to everbody else in this world, romance as opposed to SF, not certain of her own impairment, memory, they just needed audiobooks, jibber-jabber speech sounds, it just meant nothing, dah dah dah, could you still speak?, when the deaf speak, if you can’t speak can you understand your own thoughts, strokes, aphasia, communication by singing, Oliver Sacks, the afterword, visiting her dying friend, popular science of the 1980s, a science fiction epidemic, being a lefty or a righty, the rage, so primal, primal instincts, you’re all hairless chimpanzees, pre-human, the one element of humanity is your name, book-cart or book-truck, books as fuel, cake or oven, a teacher and protector, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, it was language that turned her around, savouring the words, society in general, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Iron Heel not the Iron Fist, limited intellect and language, the Red Death, life before the plague, the breakdown of society, pandemics empowering the lower classes, a liberation from the burden of history, chauffeur, taking on a harem, reconstructing the low being brought up, The Walking Dead, scavenging silently, a Garden Of Eden, so messy, blow it up and start fresh, divine retribution, like the Tower of Babel, bulldoze 2017 and start again, the toddlers are immune, the story is unfinished and we have to finish it for ourselves, the Rosetta Stone, deciphering Linear B (the language of the Minoans), how important illustrations are, Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs, The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by , talking to other book people, Reading Envy isn’t Reading Rage, transcribing music without the western music notation system, what happens next?, the music analogy, a hopeful story, a hopeful ending, book people are focused on the reading, burned abandoned buildings, sex in public, highly depopulated, women seeking protectors, maybe he’d meet someone else, sadness, if this was a TV show, how would deaf people be affected?, isn’t sign-language simply another language, H.G. Wells’ The Kingdom Of The Blind, is the gesturing center the same as the speech center?, fMRI, Letters To [Octavia] Butler, Letters To Triptree, bias and prejudice, how can people think like this?, using words in ways they can’t be used, using words as gestures, Twitter as the aggressive gesture, big ideas in a short space, a conspiracy that’s happening (long names on Twitter), seeing metaphors everywhere.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #053
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Lake by Edgar Allan Poe
Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.
The Lake was first published in Tamarlane And Other Poems, 1827.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #393 – Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft, read by the great Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (5 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Jim Moon)
Talked about on today’s show:
the pronunciation, Athenae, not from Weird Tales, a prose poem vs. a story, flash fiction, it does everything, the big elephant, it avoids all the things people decry Lovecraft for, the pure experience, pure Dreamlands Lovecraft, living in the outrage culture, it is much better to be dead than it is to be alive, drug use, reflections, new colours, From Beyond, The Colour Out Of Space, beyond the colours we know, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a little dreamquest, no cat, Zakarion, King Kuranes, Basil Elton, The White Ship, big themes, tentacled monsters, sanity-blasting, nihilism, transcendence and revelation, wonder and awe, a compression, a packet of seeds, The Gardens Of Yin and The Window, gateways and passages, a distillation,
Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked.
opiate, poppy seed cookies, Wayne June, The Crawling Chaos, the decay and pain of disease, seeking non-existence in unconsciousness, Hypnos, breaking through the barrier, horrible and wonderful, duality of perception,
But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.
I’m out of here!, The Shadows Over Innsmouth, this is AMAZING!, the horrible as transcendent, not-quite apotheosis, transfiguration, a counter-point to the insignificance of humanity, stepping beyond, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, the wild world of his dreams,
There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.
Minnesota, the Sawtooth Mountains,
I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.
giving Death a high-five, The Gardens of Yin
Beyond that wall, whose ancient masonry
Reached almost to the sky in moss-thick towers,
There would be terraced gardens, rich with flowers,
And flutter of bird and butterfly and bee.
There would be walks, and bridges arching over
Warm lotos-pools reflecting temple eaves,
And cherry-trees with delicate boughs and leaves
Against a pink sky where the herons hover.
the gorgeous garden,
All would be there, for had not old dreams flung
Open the gate to that stone-lanterned maze
Where drowsy streams spin out their winding ways,
Trailed by green vines from bending branches hung?
I hurried—but when the wall rose, grim and great,
I found there was no longer any gate.
a retelling of earlier voyages, Jack Vance, Planet Of Adventure, The Dying Earth, strange vistas, lush imagery, opening up perceptions, the grey sameness of ordinary existence, consuming all the senses, rich or decadent description, baroque, gorgeously saturated prose, The Moon Moth, a maginfied orientalist, operatic, fantasies of exotic lands, arabesques, sarabandes and curlicues of hashish smoke, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, Tolkienized, pipeweed and beer, that connection to Dunsany, Idle Days On The Yann,
When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.
Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.
And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.
temples, not sunken temples, what happened to the temples?, almost Robert E. Howardy, The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges, Lovecraft was reading a lot of Schopenhauer,
I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. And happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.
very Platonic, called forth by Life, Socrates, ahh, yes I remember fire, the trauma of childbirth wipes your memory, opium, mind blown, ever to wise to ever have been born in the waking world, Waking Life, Philip K. Dick, now I remember, native infinity, everything goes back to that Platonic realm, The Dreamquest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, if you’re born in the dream world…, Jesse gets to the dreamland by a route obscure and lonely, the Zoog wood touches the waking world, Paul’s role playing game, Dante and stories of the underworld, a one way passage, the official entrance, passing bodily into the underworld, a gem of a story, poppy seeds that flourish and grow, to round table it, is the end positive or negative?, the closing of a circle, eastern philosophy, definitely positive, he just overdosed on a drug in real life, in your dissolved state, this is not Heaven (Garden of Yinn style), looking at it from the outside, staying in bed too long, symptoms of depression, the reason for his voyage, the ugly trifles of existence,
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #034
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Cremation Of Sam McGee by Robert Service
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Cremation Of Sam McGee was first published in 1907 in Songs Of A Sourdough.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #374 – Jesse and Bryan Alexander talk about Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
Talked about on today’s show:
reading Moby Dick to the air, Moby Dick inspiring heavy metal, terror or dismissal, when Bryan was a student, Madness, Meaninglessness, and Deviant Sexuality, drop this class now, paragraph long themes, being driven insane by writing about Moby Dick, when Bryan was a young professor, if you can teach that you’re one of us, how to proceed, becoming a Moby Dick fanatic, going to sea, revisiting the sea, a book about everything, a most excellent LibriVox narration, re-reads, one of the things really good writers do, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, “this object” -> “book”, a message about how this book is, besmoked and deface, shades and shadows, delineating chaos bewitched, a long and limber black mass, unimaginable sublimity, a blasted heath, a hyperborean winter scene, that one portentous something, a cape-horner in a great hurricane, every sentence is beautiful, a reader’s guide, a stack of copies, this is a comedy book, the etymology, the extracts supplied by a sub-sub librarian, the extracts are freaking random, something unpublished, he did a google search for “whale”, a complete flop, what the hell is it?, Typee, a giant whaling story, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne lit his brain on fire, SYMBOLISM!, Pierre Or the Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, “Herman Melville, Insane?”, everything you hear about it gives you no hint, this novel cannot be adapted, Ray Bradbury’s adaptations, Gregory Peck, a lot like Joseph Conrad, Melville is more terrifying than Conrad, hilarious like Edgar Allan Poe, a tragedy, a disaster, the first line of the book is a lie, gut churning fear, the sharks devouring everything, a terrifying book, the science fiction aspect, the fantasy aspect, when Pip is drowned he goes to the bottom of the sea, the infinite of his soul, the unwarped primal world, the miser merman: wisdom, god’s foot on the treadle of the loom, man’s insanity is heaven’s sense, in different as is god, like a Clark Ashton Smith passage, “anyone seen pip?”, coral insects that made the stars and the planets, every chapter veers sideways, visionary and inspired, mastheads, very strange, the last chapter, what does he mean by that?, our hero disappears, the yawning gulf, the great shroud of the sea, why 5,000 years ago, the sounds of the words, interweaving the whole coffin theme, my keeled soul, one tiny metaphor, a missing Shakespeare play, theatrical, musical, through recorded history, a vast inhuman nature swirling all-round, The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, it’s death, meet it fighting, are we gonna bring each other down in the attempt to fight death, yes, we are, the Pequod is like the Enterprise on the original Star Trek, C.L.R. James, Marxist theory, Mariners And Castaways, an anti-racist book, massively cosmopolitan, a slave ship that revolts, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, slavers as props, the exhumed skeleton of Christopher Columbus, “Follow Your Leader”, a great novel of friendship, the sperm squeezing scene, the gayest and queerest book ever written, burly men squeezing sperm with each other, thumping each other, the universal thump, the barking insane chapter, Loomings, sharing a bed with a harpooner, he’s off selling his head, I’m not going to be the wife, a head in one hand and an axe in the other, hilarious, as if I was Queequeg’s wife, his bridegroom clasp, a hatchet-faced baby, so shockingly obvious, a giant block of time in which homosexuality was taboo, suicide, I quietly take to the ship, astonishing, if this book came out this year, shelved in the gay fiction section, where Ahab the queer old guy, white bone leg, rallying the troops, the three harpooners with their harpoons out, sharp and heavily polished, this is super-gay, like Gothic knight of old, a fresh lance, the three boats, Tashtego is from Gay Head (Martha’s Vineyard), Antarctic in their glittering expressions, his lithe snaky limbs, the son of the prince of the powers of the air, now hes taking to sea, the Science Fiction part, global economy, forward looking, the new global enterprise, Daggoo with his lion-like tread, masculine men, a powerful image, this is the 19th century power industry, you never need to read another book about whales, powering every home, anointing an new king with sperm oil, it’s called sperm-oil because it looks like sperm, touching each other lovingly under the sperm, there’s a library to keep up with Moby Dick, homo-social, Starbuck’s skepticism, going back to the whale, the whale as female or male, a fool’s errand, [recording broken] so much trouble with a book, The Tempest is just too big, what kind of fool was I think I could do a Moby Dick show?, we being repeating ourselves, Thomas Mann, necrophilia, imagine writing a review, contemporary reviews, people were smarter back then, attacking a book from the outside in, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, a big epic story, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, foreigners coming in and telling the American story, Breaking Bad, the noir journey, a lot darker than Moby Dick, Ahab going to his grave, The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe, the American Renaissance, one of the ships at the Spouter Inn is from The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, the 19th century anxiety about being buried alive, a grave with a window, part of the American Gothic heritage, like the Nostromo in Alien, abandoned military fortresses, haunted house, nature Gothic, prairies Gothic, the psycho-geographical features, a castle in the middle of the South Pacific, a secret crew, like Rochester’s secret wife, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, our sacred horrors, the mighty walls rushing asunder, a tarn at my feet, reading quotes, Ahab’s soliloquies, reading quotes, he’s dying, more palmy than the palms, the Pequod is him, The Haunted Palace, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Khan’s obsession with Kirk, if Kirk was out there for revenge it would have been a very different show, The Balance Of Terror, a giant Berserker in space, The Doomsday Machine, Jesse Cuter is on a mission to kill God, Norman Spinrad, the whale lives on buried together in the sea, the greatest adventure writing of all time, action dialogue, the last soliloquy, he’s not afraid to make this book go all these places, so post-post modern, in uncharted territory, like Satan, Tashtego is the primordial American, claiming the doubloon, the head becomes his coffin, the ship, the hearse, the second hearse!, its wood could only be American, From The Earth To The Moon by Jules Verne, eternal malice, on their bull-like necks, sudden realization, slowly suddenly realizing, the hidden crew, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Parsees, Persians, the foreign and the domestic, The Prophet, did you see those shadows going on to the ship?, a raucous ride from one kind of book to another kind of book, like a Gothic horror novel, with one survivor to tell the tale, burn it down, The Castle Of Otranto, so many things get brought into play, the sharks like are vultures following a battle, tiger yellow, words best omitted here, a little censorship, you live in a blessed evangelical land, anti-racist book, The Gold Bug, H.P. Lovecraft, death of beautiful women, Melville is in love with every colour of man, Saint Elmo’s fire turns the ship into candles, Ahab’s razors, the blue in Queequeg’s head, Tashtego’s shark white teeth which strangely gleamed, he’s powerful, holding the chain, blood against fire!, supernaturally tapped into the whale, he can smell the whale, in partial telepathic connection, forehead to forehead, changing from chapter to chapter, Thomas Pynchon, as Shakespearean as anybody has been, extreme states of being, we repeat ourselves, a bottle episode, Ozymandias, that is the devastation, a land epic, he’s in Lima (Peru), the strangest city, the white veil, a rigid pallor, two things that make Jesse sad, despair for humanity, when “net worth” is the autocomplete, despair despair!, ticket sales, desperate search answers for the pop-quiz, destroyed destroyed!, Bone is impossible to stop reading, running gags, trying to get people to read Moby Dick (and they fall asleep), petrified by his aspect, all your oaths are as binding as mine, the mark for thunderbolts, lightning power, the epithet for Captain Ahab is “old thunder”, this is not a book about the plot, we should never see Ishmael, seeing the world under the arm of Queequeg in his bed, it should never be adapted, cinematic to begin with, the storyteller is the frame, illustrated quotes, Fred Heimbaugh, Ahab is the Captain of the Black Freighter from Watchmen, an Alan Moore style book, the ebook for Jerusalem by Alan Moore, Jesse doesn’t read ebooks, traveling, a completely global book, a little map of the whaling ports of New England, the terrible old man in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old man in Ishmael, the doubloons in The Dunwich Horror, did I review the book using the text of the book, no [actually, yes], accidentally on purpose, the same effect can be wrought, my illustration of the painting in the Spouter Inn, all the religion in the book, a member of the First Congregationalist Church, you are a preacher yourself, worshiping Wojo, all works turn to comment on themselves, when movies show up in the movies, Hitchcock movies, Tristram Shandy, the novel is doing this, sounding to bottom, Scarface, the American story, the American dream, The Sopranos, The Hunt, dark water is mystery, Gothic 101, the birds, the birds!, he profoundly saw, the undiscoveredable bottom, an open door marbled tomb, a tomb hunting for you, we never see it from the whale’s point of view, the whale as a force of nature, the honours heaped upon warriors (and those not heaped upon whalers), we fight battles no lesser men could ever fight, man against nature, man against himself, the candles, oh thou omnipotent, oh thou foundling fire, leap up and lick the sky, I worship thee, I glory in my genealogy, he’s killing his father, he despairs at his life at sea, 40 years at sea, best go out in a blaze, repeating the description of the Spouter Inn’s be-smoked oil painting, a church that is also a ship, unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, a nameless yeast, what does the marvelous novel mean?, you’re being harpooned, Macbeth, Bryan Alexander (for example), an exasperated whale, the ship is the bread, the sea is the wine, the white whale as the lamb of god, Orson Welles, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Eric S. Rabkin’s idea of Fantasy, was it bitten off below the knee or above?, maybe it’s only his own ivory there, nobody has written a prequel, Peter Watts’ The Things, a funny thing about The Thing From Another World, John W. Campbell ripping off H.P. Lovecraft, the prequel sequel remake of The Thing was pretty damn good, watching cartoons, In The Walls Of Eryx, At The Mountains Of Madness, condensed Olaf Stapledon, The Shadow Out Of Time, astronomy, tone and effect, psychological science, The Pit And The Pendulum, Arthur Machen, World War I, the Angels of Mons
Posted by Jesse Willis