Reading, Short And Deep #050 – The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith

January 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #050

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Uncharted Isle was first published in Weird Tales, November 1930.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #049 – The Eater Of Souls by Henry Kuttner

January 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #049

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Eater Of Souls by Henry Kuttner

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Eater Of Souls was first published in Weird Tales, January 1937.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #400 – READALONG: The Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick

December 19, 2016 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #400 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Wayne June talk about The Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison, early crystallized, fantasy, science fiction, a great story, which perspective, Roll Them Bones by Fritz Leiber, a weird gnostic sort of thing, religious and gnostic themes, a scary herald, comforting, the one last comfort, first impressions, kind of amazing, so Philip K. Dick, almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror, politics, some of the best parts of his novels, Mr Lovecraft himself, amazing things to say, 1968, under LSD, written on LSD?, the Philip K. Dick fans website, Latin and Aramaic, a grain of salt and a tab of acid, what a good writer PKD is, the cigar keeps going out, how shocking, this is a retelling of 1984, 1984 meets the Doors Of Perception, Big Brother is God, the dystopia he’s living in, watching TV as a part of the job, reverse cultural imperialism, the ancient art of American steer roping, Julia (from 1984), Tanya, secret societies, being roped into a conspiracy against the part, agitprop, a great cynicism, astoundingly interesting, LSD in the water, anti-psychotic snuff, seeing behind the illusion, one of twelve possible realities, 1984 is not our world, modern politics, customized ads and emails, propaganda, you don’t taste it anymore, the desert of the real, stolen from The Matrix, a terrifying reality, have sex and drugs until you die (the moral of the story), there are things worse than I, what could be worse, very Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, topless and bottomless, glowing boobs, a mutant, low on affect, as horrific as anything in H.P. Lovecraft, powerful imagery, a genius all over the map, neo-Platonism, I am everything, I created the party, I created the anti-party, relativism, no objective reality,

It was terrible; it blasted him with its awareness. As it moved it drained the life from each person in turn; it ate the people who had assembled, passed on, ate again, ate more with an endless appetite. It hated; he felt its hate. It loathed; he felt its loathing for everyone present — in fact he shared its loathing. All at once he and everyone else in the big villa were each a twisted slug, and over the fallen slug carcasses the creature savored, lingered, but all the time coming directly toward him — or was that an illusion? If this is a hallucination, Chien thought, it is the worst I have ever had; if it is not, then it is evil reality; it’s an evil thing that kills and injures. He saw the trail of stepped-on, mashed men and women remnants behind it; he saw them trying to reassemble, to operate their crippled bodies; he heard them attempting speech.

what would be seeing?, it’s metaphor, a return to chaos, like meeting a celebrity and falling under their sway, interesting political, reading Hillary [Clinton] emails, seeing behind the curtain, plans and strategies, when on the drug of reality (instead of the public face of it), seeing everything for what it is, Netflix, London Has Fallen, Channel Zero, ruined for generic Hollywood movies, giving speeches while smashing an enemy in the face, since Independence Day, people watching the movie with us, the proxy for the audience, “we authorized it through the G8”, writing is solving problems, the whole of the movie depends on a tiny little linchpin, it’s all about economics, cartoonish, ISIS and the Saudis and the Clintons, destabilize your enemies and reinforce your allies, some people think that Hillary is the more sane response, behind closed doors speech, a public face and a private face, very pragmatic, she dissembles, since the days of the Roman senate, the veils are lifted, fear has infected them, he has revealed the fakeness all around them, he’s so fake he’s genuine, the clanker, the gulper, the climbing tube, the bird, politics and truth-telling, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, diving into the greatest depression of your existence, consciousness is an accident of evolution, the atheist existential point, in order to survive emotionally, I want to it to go back the way it was, a gelatinous thing with a million eyes,

And then it ceased talking to him; it disjoined itself. But he still saw it; he felt its manifold presence. It was a globe which hung in the room, with fifty thousand eyes, a million eyes — billions: an eye for each living thing as it waited for each thing to fall, and then stepped on the living thing as it lay in a broken state. Because of this it had created the things, and he knew; he understood. What had seemed in the Arabic poem to be death was not death but God; or rather God was death, it was one force, one hunter, one cannibal thing, and it missed again and again but, having all eternity, it could afford to miss. Both poems, he realized; the Dryden one too. The crumbling; that is our world and you are doing it. Warping it to come out that way; bending us.

the window!, THE WINDOW!, don’t fall on my account,

“Don’t fall on my account,” it said. He could not see it because it had moved behind him. But the piece of it on his shoulder — it had begun to look like a human hand. And then it laughed.

“What’s funny?” he demanded, as he teetered on the railing, held back by its pseudo-hand.

“You’re doing my task for me,” it said. “You aren’t waiting; don’t have time to wait? I’ll select you out from among the others; you don’t need to speed the process up.”

shaking hands with Hillary Clinton, politics can distract us from reality, politics as a filter, seeing the world through a different filter, relativism, that’s why Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary tried to redefine what the drug was doing to you, psychedelic, philosophy, natural experiments, giving a blind person sight and having them recognize what they’d previously recognized with their hands, our minds don’t just take in and process information, drugs break the filters of projection, when you see someone smiling and giving you a message on TV, Barack Obama is a master of this, the TPP, the Dakota Access Pipeline, Bill Maher, The Jimmy Dore Show, The Young Turks, RomneyCare is ObamaCare, the Democrats stole the money and positions from the Republicans, Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, Hillary workers on TV, exploitation plan, George Carlin and the big club, he’s a socialist of course he’s naive, he met a wood-chipper, who will be to blame?, who will be responsible?, arguing about nothing related to any of the issues that anyone cares about, the absolute benefactor, a Caucasian from New Zealand, it’s icky and you don’t want to deal with it,

“Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unselfconscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.”

the argument goes: lalalalalalal, block it out, we’re not just meat-sacks, Doctor Strange, the terror of the multiverse, atheist = asshole, shining a light on an uncomfortable truth, but we’re happy, I could have steak again, chemtrails are something to worry about, the Kardashians, reality and ignoring things, The Congress (2013), an animated reality, they want the delusion, there are multiple deserts, retreat to the Cambrian, getting mopped up with a towel,

That evening in his small but well-appointed condominium apartment he read over the other of the two examination papers, this one by a Marion Culper, and discovered that it, too, dealt with poetry. Obviously this was speciously a poetry class, and he felt ill. It had always run against his grain, the use of poetry — of any art — for social purposes. Anyhow, comfortable in his special spine-straightening, simulated-leather easy chair, he lit a Cuesta Rey Number One English Market immense corona cigar and began to read.

The writer of the paper, Miss Culper, had selected as her text a portion of a poem of John Dryden, the seventeenth-century English poet, final lines from the well-known “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day.”

. . . So when the last and dreadful hour
rumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.

Well, that’s a hell of a thing, Chien thought to himself bitingly. Dryden, we’re supposed to believe, anticipated the fall of capitalism? That’s what he meant by the “crumbling pageant”? Christ. He leaned over to take hold of his cigar and found that it had gone out. Groping in his pockets for his Japanese-made lighter, he half rose to his feet.

then a page break,

At a quarter to three in the morning, as he sat sleepless in the living room of his conapt, smoking one Cuesta Rey Astoria after another, a knock sounded at the door.

When he opened it he found himself facing Tanya Lee in her trenchcoat, her face pinched with cold. Her eyes blazed, questioningly.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said roughly. His cigar had gone out; he relit it. “I’ve been looked at enough,” he said.

“You saw it,” she said.

He nodded.

She seated herself on the arm of the couch and after a time she said, “Want to tell me about it?”

“Go as far from here as possible,” he said. “Go a long way.” And then he remembered: no way was long enough. He remembered reading that too.

the attempts at distraction failing, the title, the legless war veteran, a full novel’s worth of ideas bubbling,

“We can’t win,” he said. “You can’t win; I don’t mean me. I’m not in this; I just wanted to do my job at the Ministry and forget it. Forget the whole damned thing.”

“Is it non-terrestrial?”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“Is it hostile to us?”

“Yes,” he said. “No. Both. Mostly hostile.”

when he’s on the ledge, his shoulder has begun to bleed, a stigmata, the anti-god that rules the universe, Prince Of Darkness, the god of The Sims player, we’re evil, Ray Nelson’s Eight O’Clock In The Morning, Philip K. Dick gave the manuscript copy of this story to Ray Nelson, Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of the greatest movies ever filmed, They Live! now has added relevance, is it hostile to us?, it’s not one thing, Nietzsche: “God is dead”, Philip K. Dick: “no, They live.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams

November 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

williamsThe Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn #1)
By Tad Williams; Narrated by Andrew Wincott
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 33 hours, 19 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / sorcery /

Publisher summary:

A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard – for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvishlike Siti, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die.

Only a small scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon – a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League – will go the task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle of long-lost swords of power…and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend maker’s worst nightmares!

Review:

This is the first book in a trilogy from Tad Williams. The story was originally published in the late 1980’s, and it’s good to finally have it available in audio. The audio is likely coming in advance of a new trilogy from Williams, a sequel to the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy that this book is the first in.

The book is set in Williams’ world of Osten Ard, and from what I can tell (based on the names and words used in the book), Osten Ard is a Nordic country/world. This first book, The Dragonbone Chair, is a sort of coming of age tale for main character Simon, as he struggles to survive in a world that’s rapidly changing.

The main story arc is familiar to those who read a lot of fantasy, or those familiar with Joseph Campbell’s writings on mythology. In the first part of the book, the reader (listener, in my case) is introduced to the world of Osten Ard, specifically Hayholt Castle, where Simon is born and raised. His father is mysterious and his mother died in childbirth, Simon works as part of the serving staff in the castle under King John Presbyter. As a teenager, Simon begins to take instruction from the wizard Morganes, and through this lens the reader learns a lot of the history of the world.

When the king dies, though, and his eldest son Elias takes over ruling the land, the world seems to turn. There is a drought and plague, and the roads no longer seem safe. Some blame this on Elias’ advisor, the red priest Pyrates. Elias’ brother, Josua, is one of those, and escapes the Hayholt to head north to gather troops to take on Josua. Morganes and Simon help Josua escape, and Morganes dies in punishment from Elias, allowing Simon to escape into the world to try to join Josua. Thus begins Simon’s adventure and growth into a man as he struggles to survive in a very difficult time in the world of Osten Ard.

On his travels, he meets a troll, Binabik, and accidentally saves a “Sithi,” one of the old race from the north of Osten Ard. Binabik becomes his traveling companion and they make their way to Josua. When they arrive, an old priest reveals that the terrors being wrought upon the world are the work of the spirt of Ineleuki, a terrible magician from 500 years prior. The northerners fear that the end of the world is near if they cannot stop this black magic. Here, the reader learns about three swords that, united, may be able to turn the tide. One sword, Sorrow, is in Elias’ posession. Another, Minneyar (Memory?), is lost, and the third, Thorn, is believed to be even farther north in the land of what remains of the Sithi and the trolls (two different races). Simon begins a second quest, along with Binabik and some men from Josua’s court, to find this third sword, while evil remains in the world and Elias mounts an attack on Josua.

The story, while familiar, is engrossing. Having read some of Williams’ other works, I’ve found that there are times that they can feel a little plodding, a little drawn out. The Dragonbone Chair never felt this way. Scenes move swiftly and there is always action. Fighting scenes kept me on the edge of my seat and nervous for what would happen next. I also enjoyed looking for parallels in this work to others, such as the tales of King Arthur, as well as trying to piece together what would be next in store for the heroes, just as they were piecing it together.

Unfortunately, the combination of the narrator’s accent and the “odd” names/places in the book made it difficult to understand at times, while listening. Sometimes, too, the narrator at times overdid the accent and/or spoke quietly (because the character was speaking quietly). I was glad that I had the physical book (a copy I’d picked up a few years ago in a book exchange) to refer to and keep track of what was being said. I think that when I listen to the next book in the series, I’ll purchase the ebook to follow along, as needed. I think Wincott did a great job with the narration, even if it was difficult to understand at times. His voice reminds me of some of the British narrators who sound a little bit like someone’s grandfather, reading a story aloud.

Despite the difficult place and character names, and even if some of the fantasy arc was “typical,” I really enjoyed this story, this introduction to the weird world of Osten Ard. I can’t wait for the next book to be released in audio.

Posted by terpkristin.kristin

Reading, Short And Deep #040 – The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

November 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #040

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Night Wire was first published in Weird Tales, September 1926.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of The Waking Fire

August 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Waking FireThe Waking Fire (The Draconis Memoira, Book 1)
By Anthony Ryan; Narrated by Steven Brand
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 22 hours, 34 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / epic fantasy / magic /

Publisher summary:

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues, and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered Blood-blessed who finds himself pressed into service by the Protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted lands in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an Ironship cruiser whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war – or drown in its wake.

Executive Summary: A great start to a new series. It blends a lot of different things together in an interesting way to feel original. I’m really looking forward to see where he takes things from here.

Audiobook: Steven Brand is a great narrator. He reads with good inflection, and does a few voices. In the past my main complaint about him has been he speaks too quietly. He’s either fixed that, or the people making the books are adjusting his volume up to make him a lot easier to hear than past books I’ve listened to.

Full Review
I absolutely loved both Blood Song and Tower Lord. It’s possible that it made it impossible for me to love Queen of Fire. Either way, I was disappointed enough in that book, that I was reluctant to pick this one up. I had planned to wait on reviews from people I trusted to come out before getting it. Then a review copy fell into my lap.

This book is kind of a hodge podge of several things I love: Mistborn, Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Dragons. And if that’s not enough there is also high sea adventure, and pirates! That may sound like a mess, but Mr. Ryan does a great job in blending those elements together. I also can’t guarantee all of those things were influences on this book, but they are things I thought about as I was reading.

Mistborn has one of my all time favorite magic systems. This one feels similar, only a little less structured, and with only 4 known types of abilities. The main similarity is the idea of imbibing something in order to do magic, and that only a small number of people are born with the ability. Beyond that they are quite different.

My favorite character is Lizanne, who is basically Jane Bond. Her story line was always my favorite, and I really want to know more about the training she went through. I hope we get some flashbacks or possibly her training new recruits in future books, but then I’m a sucker for the magic school trope.

Clay was also a great character, and a more reluctant protagonist then Lizanne. His story was reminiscent of an Indiana Jones story, with him being basically nothing like him. If anyone is Jones it’s maybe his uncle.

The final protagonist, Lt. Hilemore was enjoyable enough, but I spent much of the book wondering how his story fit in with the other two. Rest assured it’s made clear by the end of the story, but it takes awhile. That doesn’t mean his story wasn’t interesting, it just felt disconnected from the rest of the book for me. With him you get high seas battles and pirates!

None of that even scratches the surface of the great supporting cast. Each subplot has it’s own supply of interesting characters. And if 3 interesting protagonists influenced by different elements, and a great supporting cast isn’t enough. There are Dragons. And really, isn’t that enough?

Overall, I’m glad I got this is a review copy because I really enjoyed this book. I just hope he can take his time on the sequels because I felt like his last book suffered from rushing to completion to meet a deadline. I love getting new books in a series once a year, but I’m willing to wait longer if the author needs more time. I’m hoping he’ll be able to bring this to a more satisfying conclusion than his previous series.

Review by Rob Zak.

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