The SFFaudio Podcast #234 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant

October 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #234 – Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant; read by Mark Turetsky. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (39 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mark Turetsky, and Professor Chris Coski of Ohio University.

Talked about on today’s show:
One of the last Guy de Maupassant stories, fantasy podcasts, what genre is this story?, the mysterious, the macabre, the morbid, do we buy the narrator’s story?, Am I Insane? by Guy de Maupassant, the events that happen are insane, a horror story?, a satire of Gothic horror, it is a ridiculous premise, a mental institution, is he lying?, is he deluded?, the servants, very thorough thieves, the title, Maupassant is intentionally ambiguous, there’s always a grain of the opposite, a syphilitic brain crafts a masterful short story, is it a true-ish story?, Maupassant was kind of a loner, boating among other things, Maupassant liked his solitude, touring all the European cities, THE SIGN OF DEATH PRECEDES STRANGE EVENTS, “several hours”, if the furniture is taking the place of other people…, affection for objects, The Golden Braid (aka The Tress Of Hair), falling in love with an object, the writing desk and its contents, where did the writing desk go?, his letters his papers, his personal history is now gone, deracinate , visiting new places, the history of his heart, the photographs, his emotional life, the furniture is the mental faculties, the house is him,

“Then I suddenly discerned, on the threshold of my door, an armchair, my large reading easy-chair, which set off waddling [LIKE A DUCK]. It went away through my garden. Others followed it, those of my drawing-room, then my sofas, dragging themselves along like [CROCODILES] on their short paws; then all my chairs, bounding like [GOATS], and the little foot-stools, hopping like [RABBITS].”

his desk is like a wife who’s trying to run away, the repeated refrains, “imagine my feelings”, you stop being the reader and become a participant, the revolver, marauders, the doors are alive too, Rouen, his arms were there, gun nuts, the presentiments, the river Robec, the black nauseous waters, the second hotel scene mirrors the first, is the hotel an asylum, you found your mental faculties, he checks himself in (to the hotel and the asylum), are you a private gentleman?, is the asylum is a prison?, the fat bald little yellow bearded man from Rouen with a head like a moon, grammatically it doesn’t make sense, ambiguity, THE MOON, the witch’s sabbath crescent, the play “beautiful music and fairy life drama”, he’s had a spell cast on him, “a serious accident would certainly take place”, a paralytic stroke, the sound from outside his body, a humming, trains passing, clocks, marching multitudes, “the big one”, the crescendo, “Signad” in Swedish means “designed”, Sigurd, the ring cycle, dwarves, fantasy and reality mixing, were the cops playing along?, “this house communicates with it’s neighbors”, very weird, Jesse’s tweeted dream explanation: “Dreamt an explanation for WHO KNOWS? By Guy de Maupassant – the furniture was deleted, & their dissolution was confabulated.”, not a psychological interpretation, an ontological interpretation, accidentally deleting something, SimCity, ctrl-z, not a useful miracle, an incompetent higher power, “My god, my god”, “Merciful heaven”, no grudge against, Who knows?, God knows!, a murderous schoolteacher, Revenge by Guy de Maupassant, a higher power that deletes, the short story is the only form that can be perfect, there’s something perfect, any lacuna, “a missing section of text”, the oxymoron, rude gentleness, an unbalanced situation, the insane sanity or the sane insanity, the widow Bidoin,

“He ordinarily passes his evenings at the house of a female neighbor, who is also a furniture broker, a queer sort of sorceress, the widow Bidoin”

is she married to the bald man, that Disney movie, maybe it isn’t a perfect short story, etymological searches, the tour of Africa, Sicily, Normandy, “where there hover no vague hauntings”, the missing night, a different sort of desert, Fear by Guy de Maupassant, “I had a presentiment in Africa”, “the sun dissipates it like a fog”, fear vs. panic, the spiritual gnawing of northern cultures, The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft, “God is dead but he never really was alive. The universe is real but we’re alone in it. Looking up at the starry night we are pointless, alone, with nothingness behind us, nothingness ahead of us, and its horrible.” he goes crazy because he’s alone, in the tumult of the crowd (with it’s light pollution), “there’s a shop for that down the street”, very very very small and unimportant, Lovecraft made it a monster, Eric S. Rabkin, light as the symbol for knowledge, inside the interesting chest cavity, a cosmic vastness and emptiness in which we are lost, solitude, Rouen, Rotomagus (round market or round plain) – but the word magus, J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves, great craftsmen, is the man from Roen really God?, yesterday I was in a private asylum, three months, a descent into madness, is there no lacuna in the inflexible sequence of his observations, a lacuna in which the end took place.

Qui Sait?

Who Knows by Guy de Maupassant

Stories Strange And Sinister

Pall Mall Magazine, June 1894 - Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant - illustrated by Arthur Jule Goodman

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #230 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Red Room by H.G. Wells

September 16, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #230 – The Red Room by H.G. Wells, read by Simon Vance. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Luke Burrage, Bryan Alexander, and Simon Vance.

The Red Room (aka The Ghost Of Fear) was first published in The Idler, March 1896.

Talked about on today’s show:
Are there any supernatural elements in The Red Room?, what is the genre of this story?, Gothic Fiction, a deconstruction of the gothic, the ultimate psychological horror story, the apparatus of gothic horror, a psychoanalysis of horror, what we do to ourselves, we scare ourselves, the scary clothes horse, “as long as this house of sin endures”, what happened to the candles, Luke’s theory, what is the sin?, the old people, bad candles?, trick candles?, a Scooby Doo interpretation of the story?, coincidence, how reliable is the narrator?, the origins of the horror are in a fake scare, the changing description of the men, distorted and crouching, the man with the shade, shadow?, ghost?, a blue phial, a green shade, a story of generational transfer, the rising generation of science, the significance of the narrator’s age (28 years), what’s up with the gun?, an impossible sturdiness, the unknowableness of your own mind, the final word – or is it?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Eric S. Rabkin, an evil relationship, Ganymede with an eagle (Zeus), cup-bearer is a euphemism, does the Chinaman statuary represent the Yellow Peril?, clothing fashioned in dead brains, the generational interpretation, the grotesque, why not three norns?, the three disabilities, a tremendous tremor, 150% spillage, a mocking shadow, a pro-science story, fire = knowledge, the light of science, the return of ignorance with the return of darkness, why is the narrator there?, is this a Hound Of The Baskervilles situation, the previous tenant, the glass before the fire, the three mirrors, Mise en abyme, “your own choosing”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, what side in the public debate of new spiritualism, it felt modern to Luke, The Pit And The Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula is a contemporary of The Red Room, the subterranean passage, Eric is a big Freudian, a meticulous forensic analytic description, this isn’t Mulder this is Scully, Simon Vance has voiced Dracula twice, Fangland (a modern 60 Minutes style retelling of Dracula), updates to Dracula, The Dracula Tapes, The Stone Tape (1972), byte by byte, Nigel Kneale, The Quatermass Experiment, Lorraine Castle, generic European castle, skeptics haunted by a ghost that isn’t a ghost, a modern Gothic horror story, is it the carbon monoxide coming off the fungus?, the stone as a medium, solid state recording, a scientific explanation, a Lovecraftian pre-human recording, it may not be need to be remade, Quentin Tarantino remakes bad movies as a good movies, haunted digital media, Alien, MOTHER is basically HAL, Demon Seed, the anti-Japaneses bias as a more modern Yellow Peril, the medium of the tale, the staircase, “it’s not there’s nothing there”, the good-time gal, the wrong interpretation, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson, becoming lost in your own head, he brought the ghost into the room, spirits as ghosts, why is it a red room?, red in the flames, it’s like the grate is a prison, a slick tunnel to the red room, a womb like room, a beige room, Ash spurting sperm everywhere, a haunted castle in space, Alien as the opposite of Star Wars, the science hero angle, gothic explique, teasing out a Gothic reading, in medias res, Freudian spaces, on this night of all nights, its like their casting a spell, is he a journalist?, Simon thinks the narrator is the new owner, Christopher Priest, The Prestige, why Christopher Priest is not as popular as he should be, his head and his lips are bloody, a bashed face, The Door In The Wall by H.G. Wells, is the story open, Luke is skeptical about the openness and the double blooding, belying the begrudgement, the curious escape,”H.G. Wells is a genius writer”, The War Of The Worlds from the alien perspective, Little Wars, “a heavy blow at last upon my forehead”, an almost 2nd person POV shift, “global warming is a fake”, the haunted man not the haunted room, Gene Wolfe, gothic markers, Henry James, Boon, the judgements of history, Wells’ agenda, The Time Machine, The Chronic Argonauts, horrific jellyfish and rabbits, nameless characters, minimal information, the Wells-Wolfe connection, The Shadow Of The Torturer, the always unreliable narrator, Understanding Comics by Scott Mccloud, Hello Kitty, part of the appeal of the Twilight books is in how badly drawn Bella is, inviting blankness, Things To Come.

The Red Room by H.G. Wells

The Red Room by H.G. Wells

The Red Room Word Cloud

Understanding Comics - Amplification Through Simplification

The Red Room by H.G. Wells

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC R4 + RA.cc: Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson [RADIO DRAMA]

May 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Gruselkabinett - Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson

I’ve posted about Robert Louis Stevenson’s murderous classic, Markheim, before (the audiobook and another radio drama). But, I’ve just discovered a very good new adaptation (from 2006) available at RadioArchive.cc. The sound design is excellent, and its lengthy enough to bring out most of the nuance in the text.

BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccMarkheim
Adapted from the story by Robert Louis Stevenson; Adapted by John Taylor; Performed by a full cast
MP3 via TORRENT – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: February 1, 2006
On Christmas Day 1886 with London shrouded in fog, a man shadows a girl across Blackfriars Bridge towards the back streets of Holborn. His name is Markheim and his intentions are unremittingly dark.

Directed by John Taylor

Cast:
Tommy – Mark Straker
Markheim – Jack Klaff
Girl – Abigail Hollick
Visitor – Anton Rodgers
Crispin – Anthony Jackson

And for German listeners there’s THIS sexy sounding version produced as a part of a cool series called Gruselkabinett (which translates to “Chamber of Horrors”).

As a bonus I offer this newly created |PDF| and a vintage anlaysisby C. Alphonso Smith from Short Stories Old And New (1916):

Setting:
There is no finer model for the study of setting than this story affords. It is three o’clock in the afternoon of a foggy Christmas Day in London. If Markheim’s manner and the dimly lighted interior of the antique shop suggest murder, the garrulous clocks, the nodding shadows, and the reflecting mirrors seem almost to compel confession and surrender. “And still as he continued to fill his pockets, his mind accused him, with a sickening iteration, of the thousand faults of his design. He should have chosen a more quiet hour.” So he should for the murder; but for the self-confession; which is Stevenson’s ultimate design, no time or place could have been better.

Plot:
There is little action in the plot. A man commits a dastardly murder and then, being alone and undetected, begins to think, think, think. It is the turning point in his life and he knows it. Instead of seizing the treasure and escaping, he submits his past career to a rigid scrutiny and review. This brooding over his past life and present outlook becomes so absorbing that what bade fair to be a soliloquy becomes a dialogue, a dialogue between the old self that committed the murder and the new self that begins to revolt at it. The old self bids him follow the line of least resistance and go on as he has begun; the newly awakened self bids him stop at once, check the momentum of other days, take this last chance, and be a man. His better nature wins. Markheim finds that though his deeds have been uniformly evil, he can still “conceive great deeds, renunciations, martyrdoms.” Though the active love of good seems too weak to be reckoned as an asset, he still has a “hatred of evil”; and on this twin foundation, ability to think great thoughts and to hate evil deeds, he builds at last his culminating resolve.

The story is powerfully and yet subtly told. It sweeps the whole gamut of the moral law. Many stories develop the same theme but none just like this. Stevenson himself is drawn again to the same problem a little later in “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Hawthorne tried it in “Howe’s Masquerade,” in which the cloaked figure is the phantom or reduplication of Howe himself. In Poe’s “William Wilson,” to which Stevenson is plainly indebted, the evil nature triumphs over the good. But “Markheim,” by touching more chords and by sounding lower depths, makes the triumph at the end seem like a permanent victory for universal human nature.

Characters
If the story is the study of a given situation, Markheim, who is another type of the developing character, is the central factor in the situation. We see and interpret the situation only through the personality of Markheim himself. Another murderer might have acted differently, even with those clamorous clocks and accusing mirrors around him, but not this murderer. There is nothing abnormal about him, however, as a criminal. He is thirty-six years old and through sheer weakness has gone steadily downward, but he has never before done a deed approaching this in horror or in the power of sudden self revelation. He sees himself now as he never saw himself before and begins to take stock of his moral assets. They are pitifully meager, though his opportunities for character building have been good. He has even had emotional revivals, which did not, however, issue in good deeds. But with it all, Markheim illustrates the nobility of human nature rather than its essential depravity. I do not doubt his complete and permanent conversion. When the terrible last question is put to him – or when he puts it to himself – whether he is better now in anyone particular than he was, and when he is forced to say, “No, in none! I have gone down in all,” the moral resources of human nature itself seem to be exhausted. But they are not. “I see clearly what remains for me,” said Markheim, “by way of duty.” This word, not used before, sounds a new challenge and marks the crisis of the story. Duty can fight without calling in reserves from the past and without the vision of victory in the future. I don’t wonder that the features of the visitant “softened with a tender triumph.” The visitant was neither “the devil” as Markheim first thought him nor “the Saviour of men” as a recent editor pronounces him. He is only Markheim’s old self, the self that entered the antique shop, that with fear and trembling committed the deed, and that now, half-conscious all the time of inherent falseness, urges the old arguments and tries to energize the old purposes. It is this visitant that every man meets and overthrows when he comes to himself, when he breaks sharply with the old life and enters resolutely upon the new.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The City And The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe (read by Wayne June)

May 12, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Wayne June‘s animated reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The City And The Sea is absolutely haunting.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The City In The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe

May 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The City In The Sea

The City in the Sea by Edgar Allan Poe

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol’s diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

Here’s the audio, as narrated by Mister Jim Moon:

The City In The Sea was published in this form in the Broadway Journal, August 30, 1845:

The City In The Sea: A Prophecy by Edgar Allan Poe

The City In The Sea

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #164 – READALONG: The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

June 11, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #164 – Jesse, Wayne June and Mirko Stauch talk about The House On the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Wayne undersold the novel, it’s shockingly interesting, you can really see the influence on Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, blasphemous hybrid anomalies, “a classic of the first water”, the framing sequence, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, description of sense experience, the best you can expect from the universe is indifference, cosmic horror, Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, Last And First Men, reading in translation, Chad Pfifer, the readalong concept, getting into the book, Under The Knife by H.G. Wells, the swine beasts, the sister – “she knows he’s fucking nuts”, there’s a lot of going to bed in this book, a very relatable character, Arthur C. Clarke, one of the finest works of Science Fiction ever written, marking the transition from Gothic horror to cosmic horror, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the cover art, the Corben comic book cover, the town (or street) that can’t be found, it’s a kind of haunted house story, compression of time, Einsteinian relativity, Pepper is dead and dust, Brian Stableford, Camille Flammarion, The Night Lands by William Hope Hodgson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Percival Lowell, S.T. Joshi, parallel development, authors write cosmic horror in cosmic horror time, astronomy,

“In the future, when the end of things will arrive on this earth, the event will then pass completely unperceived in the universe. The stars will continue to shine after the extinction of our sun, as they already shone before our existence.”

Enlightenment thinking and the decline of religion – tying your own shoes for eternity, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, you can’t love anything in this universe, the jade house in the arena, mythological creatures, Kalpas (is Sanskrit for aeons), it’s meta, before this book we’re living in a world run by God and after this book were living in a post God world, deep time, the recluse, are the swine people are the villagers, what book is the recluse reading?, two incommensurable realities, Messrs Tonnison and Berreggnog, haunting, Clarke’s third law, Poltergeist, the door inward, the start as poets but they don’t end that way, the unnamed lover (let’s call her Lenore), The Crawling Chaos (SFFaudio Podcast #138), The Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe, The House Of Usher, Roger Caillois: “The fantastic is always a break in the acknowledged order, an irruption of the inadmissible within the changeless everyday legalityā€¯ (from Au Coeur Du Fantastique), reading old literature, C.S. Lewis, a passion for commas, a gripping book (while the character’s mind wanders), a pregnant book.

Ed Emshwiller painting for The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

Vertigo Richard Corben -The House On The Borderland

William Hope Hodgson's The House On The Borderland

The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson - illustration by Ian Miller

Freeway Press - The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson - dustjacket

The House On The Borderland - illustration by Peter Manesis

PANTHER - The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

Posted by Jesse Willis

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