Reading, Short And Deep #054
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Hesperia by H.P. Lovecraft
Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.
Hesperia was first published in Weird Tales, October 1930.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #405 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
Talked about on today’s show:
Speaker to Canadians, off the rails, doing a sequel, 1980 follow up to the 1970 novel, was this a good idea?, seeing the Ringworld one more time, fun, Larry Niven was having a lot of fun with it, retcon (retroactive continuity), Teela’s luck, maybe Paul is completely wrong, bad bad Teela Brown, her boytoy, because reasons, becoming a protector, where the luck problem comes in, the fight between Teela, Chmee and Wu is fabulous, luck is directing all these people, re-re-reinterpretation, happily ever after and sequels don’t play nice, luck as a genetically programmable trait is complete bullshit, that’s what’s going to happen, if you’re going to do a sequel…, waiting for Teela to show up, The Ringworld Throne, Louis becomes a protector, take each book on its own, she’s protecting all of the lucky people who are coming after her, cooler in a couple of ways, why Louis had needed to be a droud addict (a wire-head), he was bored in the first book, he’s an addict in the second, a little flashback to the visit of the gardens of the patriarch, “call me Chmee”, the Kzin patriarch’s version of the Smithsonian, happy all the time and hating his life, he can’t have cheese anymore, no more skinjobs or sleeping plates, caught up by the A.R.M., when Louis quits the droud, the only thing that saves him, a brilliant plotter, making choices, having free will (or not), Teela has to double-think her way, he’s the center of his own Ringworld (as an addict) then it flips, the addiction withdrawal was too easy, gorging on tree-of-life, that’s why sequels are a problem, really good writers use up their characters, that’s what makes The Postman Always Rings Twice so great, there aren’t endless sequels to great books, by the end of Moby Dick only one character is still alive, this whole book is retconning, here’s what’s wrong with the Ringworld!, that’s the game in Hard SF, the game he was playing was too big for him (Larry Niven), incorporating criticism, we were wrong about this…, this is a science heavy book, Prill was a liar, the spill mountains, the unclimbable rim mountains became volcanoes (kind of), how terrible this world is, the scrith covered place, we are very lucky to be on an actively-geological plant, we’re lucky to have metal, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, an asteroid crash that Mark Twain finds, it’s harder to boil things without metal, a ceramics and alcohol based high-technology, fiddling with the facts of the first book, Paul is more annoyed about the Teela brown transformation, Teela becomes both the hero and the villain kind of, maybe we should have read Protector first, the Pak and the Pak protectors, big science, World Of The Ptavvs, a recap of the premise of Protector, two main characters, unwanted and unexpected uplift, are there any women in there?, Protectors are sexless, talking about the sex in The Ringworld Engineers, rishathra, the Babylon 5 episode with rishathra, the two librarian Wendy and Peter, tell me about the mating practices, we make records (anthropological pornography), Jesse defends Larry Niven again, Wu the silent sexual ambassador, if Louis Wu was a female character…, where’s the same sex rishathra?, an obvious method of birth control, too much of that again, projecting what heterosexual males, I gotta get me a harem, mating uncontrollably, venereal disease is a real problem in our world, no mosquitoes, no venereal disease, the logic behind the sexual practices, the grass eaters, the cow and bull people, how cattle work, the sexual practices of wolves, the going on vacation thing, the terms the field scientists used: sneaky fuckers, another double-think, the lone guy in SF willing to do stuff with this, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, a real reproductive phenomenon, male pregnancy, sympathizing with everyone, males are easily replaced, they way we love our pets, the way he says females should be docile, the third sex of puppeteer, the way females are regarded, he’s a dude from the 1970s whose not trying to be sensitive, some books are male or female, more appealing to males, Niven is so good at thinking, the Wheels Within Wheels chapter, I’m saving this world, when Louis cuts up the hyperdrive, “Come, let us reason together” where is that line from?, the book of Isaiah, God talking to man, playing the god gambit, he turns the tables on the Hindmost, aye aye captain, the Bandersnatchi of Jinx is from Jabberwocky by Louis Carol, Wunderland, the Alice In Wonderland theme from Ringworld, the Peter Pan theme, Louis Wu is Peter Pan (the boy who will never grow up), following Louis out the window into Neverland (of the ship), The Man-Kzin Wars books, why is Speaker’s name Chmee, Smee, tag in the dark, Smee is the bosun to Captain Hook, that’s really clever, turning lead to fuel, the alchemy of the planet, a wild goose chase, the 5% 95% trick, it’s legit!, a strong sense of pathos, every character we’ve met on the Ringworld will die, would you kill everyone you’ve ever met to save 95% of the population?, empathizing with the sunflowers, is life for a year for everyone better?, it could be triple-think, talking about motivation, why do anything, what’s the point of anything, caring for the breeders, protecting her own vs. others, very interesting stuff, Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto, helicopter parenting, you can’t tell me my son’s grades are low, teacher motivation, knuckling under, lowering standards and grade inflation, the Business and Computer Science departments, everyone gets As, only Philosophy was holding out (when Jesse was at university), the mother protecting the young, the bear mother attacks threats to the cub, Free Range Kids, the perception of the threat level is higher, the craziness that happens when the mothering instinct is in charge, imagine Grandma with the powers of Rambo, why Teela is such a fearsome adversary (even when she’s playing to lose), the closest in any other science fiction is in the Banquet Scene in Dune, super-geniuses plotting how to murder each other, literally a role playing game style adventure, totally an RPG player move, where The Ringworld Role Playing Game came from, an nobody noticed he was talking into his hand, layers of fun, two poems,
I. The Book
The place was dark and dusty and half-lost
In tangles of old alleys near the quays,
Reeking of strange things brought in from the seas,
And with queer curls of fog that west winds tossed.
Small lozenge panes, obscured by smoke and frost,
Just shewed the books, in piles like twisted trees,
Rotting from floor to roof—congeries
Of crumbling elder lore at little cost.
I entered, charmed, and from a cobwebbed heap
Took up the nearest tome and thumbed it through,
Trembling at curious words that seemed to keep
Some secret, monstrous if one only knew.
Then, looking for some seller old in craft,
I could find nothing but a voice that laughed.
I held the book beneath my coat, at pains
To hide the thing from sight in such a place;
Hurrying through the ancient harbor lanes
With often-turning head and nervous pace.
Dull, furtive windows in old tottering brick
Peered at me oddly as I hastened by,
And thinking what they sheltered, I grew sick
For a redeeming glimpse of clean blue sky.
No one had seen me take the thing—but still
A blank laugh echoed in my whirling head,
And I could guess what nighted worlds of ill
Lurked in that volume I had coveted.
The way grew strange—the walls alike and madding—
And far behind me, unseen feet were padding.
the first two sonnets from the Fungi From Yuggoth sonnet cycle, some books of elder lore, the audiobook irony, the problems of not having an audiobook version, the connection between finding the old books that reveal the truth about the world (only the machine people know the secret), the cult of knowledge, the paperback cover of Protector, surrounded by ancient tomes, great books make you super-smart, hitting that hard, page 128,
Something leaped from the crest of the next hill over. Green light speared it in midair, and held while the thing flamed and died. So much for Chmeee’s spacesuit. But a flight of hand-sized missiles flew toward the base of the green laser beam. Half a dozen white flashes from behind the rise, and the snap! of lightning striking close, showed that Chmeee had succeeded in turning puppeteer-made batteries into bombs.
Teela was close, and she was using a laser. And if she was circling the pond, just beyond the crest… Louis adjusted his position.
Chmeee’s burnt suit had fallen too slowly. A protector would know it was empty. Cthulhu and Allah! How could anyone fight a lucky protector?
calling on one fictional god and one semi-fictional god, calling on other gods, this is Niven playing a game with us, I like this game, gender does really change peoples minds, seeds and fields to plant, that has consequences in thinking, what do men want?, if you look at history, Genghis had a huge harem, the practice of polygamy, viking practices, is it patriarchy, he’s working it out in this Ringworld scenario, providing grandmotherly wisdom and veteran warriors, a generic love, another plot going on, the Earth is great and Ringworld sucks, Ringworld is a Garden of Eden, all the predators are on one island too far away from the rest of the ringworld, this is the story of the Fall, what is the thing that turns you into a Protector and something hard, the tree-of life root, who do we need right now, climate change, we’re so busy pulling the world apart Bussard ramscoops, Ringworld Engineers as an analogy for Earth, we need some smart bad-ass, monstrous, Justin Trudeau’s not going to solve it and neither will Trump, somebody around here needs to eat some Tree-Of Life Root, there were two trees in Eden, the tree of immortality, longevity vs. fertility, banishment, the fall of the cities, the Puppeteers with their snaky heads did this, they have beautiful voices too, a retcon Paul could accept, interpolating,
The smell of tree-of-life was in Louis’s nose and in his brain. It was not like the wire. Current was sufficient unto itself an experience that demanded nothing further to make it perfect. The smell of tree-of-life was ecstasy, but it sparked a raging hunger. Louis knew what tree-of-life was now. It had glossy dark-green leaves and roots like a sweet potato, and it was all around him, and the taste — something in his brain remembered the taste of Paradise.
panspermia is bullshit, Chariots Of The Gods?, the plot of Battlestar Galactica, thallium oxide, the Bible is a true story … we’ve forgotten, damn that’s good!, still doing good work, adding another ring, who were the first people, the two librarians, they get on an Ark, was Teela one of Louis’ descendants? (dating the great great granddaughter), not Heinlein level incest, if you think incest in Science Fiction that’s Heinlein, male SF writers, set pieces, I love the vampires, undercutting Prill’s one skill, vampire perfume, everything on the map of Mars, they have a gas laser, the taboo against lasers went away, I love the ghouls, keeping it in the family, the ghouls are the secret rulers of the Ringworld, non-sentient male and female, free-will vs. choice, he’s sexy, pheromones for humans, animal free will vs. animal free will, insects that get killed in mating, we were all in that state at some point, all the ideas Niven is playing with, all those ridiculous RPG-like events (the sunflowers and the water condensers), looking for ways to create meaning, a really smart book (and also a trashy sequel), stealing stuff for RPGs, dreaming about protectors, one of Niven’s big ideas, where did all the protectors go?, a question for The Ringworld Throne, making a whole bunch of people soft, nature finds a way, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the hanging people are kind of like the moties, the audiobook narrator didn’t do the Puppeteer contralto, we miss Nessus, the Hindmost is a dick, the tree-of-life virus, where did they go?, Niven didn’t know (in this book), another kind of addiction, their booster spice or their current addiction, a symbiotic virus, who is running the show?, more than Human (or Pak), powerful ideas and powerful characters powerfully motivated, not a wholehearted endorsement.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, February 1928, the best or the most famous of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, Michel Houellebecq, it has everything in spades, dreams, madness, you must have insanity, a lot of action but all is indirect, adaptations, the Call Of Cthulhu game, a large shelf of Call Of Cthulhu game books, library skills is a high value skill, a story about research, Spotlight (2015), an anthology of stories, nested stories, the nautical adventure, the great uncles’ investigations, the 1908 Cthulhu cult in Louisiana, the origin of murder maps, Borgesian, Indiana Jones, the silent film, weirdly deferred, a Lovecraftian call to action: please don’t repeat this story, The Mountains Of Madness, the Algernon Blackwood opening quote, the late Francis Waylon Thurston,
“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes in forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…”
dinosaurs, dinosaur men, or Silurians, Jordan B. Peterson, caught in the middle of a whole deal, getting a sense of the deeper meaning of the Garden Of Eden story, man made conscious by woman, very Lovecraftian, really really old texts, looking at texts in the wrong way, they are so wise, in creating a new pantheon, why it is so powerful, was it a deliberate choice or an accretion around a grain of sound, plush animals, Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, this is Dagon revisited, great artists, an atheist version of religion, from a hugely remote period, consciousness manifested in shapes and forms long since withdrawn, creating our gods and monsters, explaining away the existence of religion, myths that developed based on something long before humanity (that isn’t your great Buddy in the sky), very frightening, knitting together all of human folklore, Robert Graves, Spengler, Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, a universal monomyth, The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood, a Gaia myth, in Esquimaux legend, the South Pacific, dreams changing people, the scary potential of such a myth, infecting the world, Toulon Orbus Teratis by Jorge Luis Borges, staving off the unstoppable, Cthulhu’s edges have been sanded off, in facing our fears we become less afraid (or go mad), degenerate or go mad, degeneration aint so bad, Castro’s story, the benefits under Cthulhu, enjoyments of savage chaos, a wonderful time of depravity, a Robert E. Howard moment, go insane, die, or run away, one Norwegian sailor, The Call Of Cthulhu (2005), lip reading, German expressionism, the best silent film Jesse’s seen, being faithful to Lovecraft’s work, the microscopic budget, the isle of Paradise, Tibet and China, Castro is The Shadow (or Batman), Iram of the Pillars, The Nameless City, The Fire Of Ashurbanipal by Robert E. Howard, Scott was playing a Cthulhu rpg with his family at Christmas, the books infecting the world, The Communist Manifesto, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, for most people reality is social reality, becoming an investigator, the meta context, the model for the game is the story, Norway, the template for how to run a scenario, go gibbering, the sanity stat, Darkest Dungeon, the more intelligent you are the more at risk you are of losing your sanity, these are not eucldian angles, “taking sanity point”, table 4b Insanity Table, Wayne June’s narration of Darkest Dungeon, written in Lovecraft’s style, as hard as hell, it’s all about the sanity, buy lots of torches, scotophobia (fear of darkness), barophobia (the fear of loss of gravity), falling into the sky, temporary insanity, Wayne June vs. Jim Moon, the assonance is strong, the stars are aligning, the floor is lava, you can only walk on the couch or a pillow (or a sibling), there’s something about the play of children that continues into RPG, LARPing vs. RPGing, the first narrator is very skeptical, drawing you in bit by bit, falling into madness slowly, so wide in scope, The Tomb or Dagon, how to think about it, Wayne June reads the opening of The Call Of Cthulhu:
The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
brutal cynicism, totally resonates with Wayne (double meaning), so negative and so accepting of the negativity, not having cognitive dissonance is merciful, the train of Cthulhu coming down the tracks at you, DEATH, Jordan Peterson again, consciousness and the fear of death, it’s on all our minds, don’t think about it, I’m getting grey hair… how did that happen?, that dark inevitable gun-barrel, looking great!, still vertical, The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, hard science fiction, a terrible way to hook a reader, damn this sounds good!, all of 18th century poetry, Alexander Pope,
Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow’rs of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics giv’n,
T’ inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav’n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er,
To smart and agonize at ev’ry pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?
“Dear reader, you’re a moron be happy”, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, Bryan is a serious Ligotti cultist, consciousnesses as a curse, there are no other animals in the kingdom that can contemplate their deaths, teaching Koko to sign is the most unmerciful thing in the world, the curse is passed on, the curse of sentience, Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers, weeping openly, back to the first paragraph, happiness vs. chaos and darkness (making you feel more alive and happy), he who increases his understanding increases his sum of suffering (Ecclesiastes 1:18), the second sentence,
We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.
Einstein was right, isn’t that what this is saying?, to try would be a bad thing, what the Alien movies tell us, Charles Stross’ Laundry Files novels, Case Nightmare Green, the SETI worry, The Three-Body Problem, so dark, a dark vision (that sounds great), a rich book, beating the 18th century drum, recalling Voltaire and Samuel Johnson, stay home and cultivate your garden, the third sentence, how I see myself in relationship with science, science is AWESOME!, a negative spin on it,
The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
hey, guess what?!, we’re all going to die as a species, stick your head in the sand, burn baby burn, drill baby drill, brilliant and calm, I don’t know what it means, the Theosophists, Madame Blavatsky, a hoax religion, your child is going to be the next world messiah, that’s kind of bananas, hugely influential, The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley, very Hard SF, the different branches of science, one giant puddle of natural philosophy, the sciences and the humanities, back into fantasy, “But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it.” please expound upon this Mr Jim Moon dead and dreaming, a little wink, double meaning in the Necronomicon,
It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.
the much discussed couplet, the most famous quote of Lovecraft ever, how the Necronomicon is treated in this story, the Observers Book of Eldritch Beings, medieval grimoires, stenography and ciphers, Doctor John Dee, signed 007, alchemical texts, allegorical, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, where we get Cthulhu wrong, a marine King Kong vs. the high priest of the Old Ones, they died after their fashion, other dimensions, untold countless dimensions, Dreams In The Witch House, The Whisperer In Darkness, physically dead currently, our physical universe isn’t the only game in town, dead doesn’t apply to these fellows, these are creatures of the cosmos and are eternal, tweeting the dreams, Recapture by H.P. Lovecraft (is a dream recaptured in a sonnet), the translation of dream into text IS Lovecraft’s genre, using the mind to rationalize the irrationable, great artists and poets are best attuned to the transmissions of Cthulhu, evil muses inspired by the reality of science, we are biological creature with no souls fucking and eating and who are gonna die, dreams show up in newspapers in Lovecraft’s world, violence suicide madness, earthquakes, the earth itself is dreaming, the cosmic infinity of the quantum world, a keen astronomer, what if that continuum is inhabited, it’s a good as god, Clarke’s Law, might as well be a god, Castro’s unreliable narration, modern horror fiction, evil mustache twirlers, “It’s all about FREEDOM, guys!”,
Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.
the most METAL thing Bryan’s ever read, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, you can become like gods!, more stories from the point of view of cultists, the Oathbreaker will reward you because…, entombed but still thinking and dreaming, a generation of stories about hidden kingdoms, The First Men In the Moon, The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton here hold my staff, puns, Greenland, New Zealand, talking to back-woods people, we don’t hold with cops normally, an accurate picture of Louisiana, jury tampering, ethics in government, Henry Kissinger speaking to the Nobel Peace Prize trust, irony is dead, a non-idealist non-fantasy approach, cultists making gods of the old ones, they couldn’t give a damn about humanity, a materialist slant snuck in the back door, a murder mystery, jostled by a “nautical negro”, we do really see Cthulhu coming out of this door, Paul and Marissa,
Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.
the Thing, I have a thing for Things,
weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes
Philip K. Dick’s “tomb world” becoming Lovecraft, Galactic Pot-Healer, a sunken cathedral, a god without form or shape which can transmit its communications through books, radio and toilet bowls, seeing his own corpse, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, these to guys are receiving the same transmissions, they were on the same wavelength, the transmissions about reality, guys who get science and then go dark, a dark interest in reality, what is lying underneath, Glimmung is not Cthulhu and yet he is, almost as a cult, the cult of the Glimmung, Glimmung is fighting his negative self as well, I have a little box I put myself in so the fish don’t eat me, in struggle of raising this sunken cathedral their is some sort of remuneration or solace, existential dread is lessened in some way, how this connects to plush Cthulhu, you need something to snuggle up with, more senile and benign, experincing this kind of dread in the safety of your own home, you can have a cup of coffee, The Ghost-Table by Elliott O’Donnell, reading Weird Tales on the bus on the way home from work, flapper hats, Margaret Brundage reading a copy of Weird Tales, Arkham House and the Pentagon, WWII, Armed Forces Edition of Lovecraft, dread and horror and attractive, Germany’s equivalent of Weird Tales, Der Orchidgarten (1919), reflecting on death, a comforting skull on your shelf, memento mori, Wayne brings a whole new level of dread, overdose on Cthulhu (it’s homeopathic), cyclopean blocks, the Dark Adventure Radio Theater adaptation, an ongoing adaptation, the stop motion animation Cthulhu, the Nosferatu like look, playing up the heroism, gibbering on the floor, The Man Who Laughs (1928), a perpetual grin, Conrad Veidt, Bob Kane, Gothic horror, Wednesday Adams, Cthulhu is unmentionable, like Voldemort, names have power, naming the animals, Adam and Eve are good Lovecraft characters, Joe Rogan’s podcast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen of today, Elon Musk, Alan Moore, Joe Rogan, Dan Carlin, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, normally he’s a talker, what am I hearing, mind-blowing perspectives, Peterson is nailing things in ways we haven’t been able to figure out myself before, amazing work, he’s kind of conservative, the left-right thing is a mistake, in the very first thing Adam does after gaining consciousness is hide in a bush, hiding from the all seeing eye, Samuel Delany, a feminist lesbian separatist mercenary company, man is a truncated woman, the final paragraph, things are going to get worse,
his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executors may put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.
what is he talking about?, modernity?, immigration?, the Philip K. Dick return to chaos, life is the only antidote to entropy and yet life must die,
Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry of that charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibbered like Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.
a cosmicly potent swimmer, Greek myth, Odysseus wins, Johansen goes back to his wife, I am nobody, it was I Odysseus sacker of cities, I’m gonna tell my dad!, slid greasily, another connection to the sirens,
I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to show why the sound of the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.
an anti-progress narrative, its better not to know, right back to Wayne’s pessimism, no street view for the R’Lyeh, carpool to R’Lyeh
Posted by Jesse Willis
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (1 Hour 31 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of Legamus. The Call Of Cthulhu was first published in Weird Tales, February 1928.
We will discuss it next week.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #401 – Celephaïs by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Gordon Gould. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June.)
Talked about on today’s show:
The Rainbow, May 1922, Marvel Tales, 1934, Weird Tales, Jun-July 1939, “A Posthumous Weird Fantasy”, a story about H.P. Lovecraft’s life,
Kuranes was not modern, and did not think like others who wrote. Whilst they strove to strip from life its embroidered robes of myth and to show in naked ugliness the foul thing that is reality, Kuranes sought for beauty alone. When truth and experience failed to reveal it, he sought it in fancy and illusion, and found it on his very doorstep, amid the nebulous memories of childhood tales and dreams.
so Lovecraft, reality ain’t pretty, always in fantasy, consciousness and objective reality, Jason Thompson comic book adaption, detail and attention, London, Yeasto and Beefo, Thomas Shap, gleefuly smashing a cat, opiates, a hashish man, the anonymity of Kuranes’ dream visage (in Jason Thompson’s rendering), Understanding Comics, wearied and wizened, a board game, an amazing adaptation, the page 8 sequence, the valley of Ooth Nargai, where form does not exist, a violet coloured gas, compass and protractor, manga style, hot air balloons, toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky, the domes are the same shape as the balloons, The Thing On The Doorstep, a script of imagery, going deep into the story, spending weeks in just 19 minutes, Fungi From Yuggoth, Dreamland-like,
XVII. A Memory
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.
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.
The Gardens of Yinand from Celephais:
One night he went flying over dark mountains where there were faint, lone campfires at great distances apart, and strange, shaggy herds with tinkling bells on the leaders; and in the wildest part of this hilly country, so remote that few men could ever have seen it, he found a hideously ancient wall or causeway of stone zigzagging along the ridges and valleys; too gigantic ever to have risen by human hands, and of such a length that neither end of it could be seen. Beyond that wall…
it’s a dream but it is also real, Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a teetotaler, far more fascinating is the man himself, at points in his life, his dreams live on, eighty years later, immortality, he’s alive for a lot more people than he was when he was alive, horrifying vs. a slow sad tragedy, reflecting H.P. Lovecraft’s life, uncompromising, attitudes towards money, lies and untruths, up-selling, The Diary Of Alonzo Typer, William Lumley, a Thomas Shap character himself, the pathetic people who tell lies about their own life experience in order to make life more tolerable, the last paragraph, played mockingly, Trevor Towers, the purchased atmosphere of extinct nobility, offensive brewers, The Great Gatsby, that resentment, so tragic, so awesome, the two images of Trevor Towers, thinness of reality, and the neighbouring regions of dream, his eye, the naked ugly reality, he’s killed himself, you’re out king!, The Coronation Of Mr. Thomas Shap by Lord Dunsany, tongue in cheek, ironic, to persuade customers, a more compromised Lovecraft, a dignity of nobility, your everyday fella, particularity imaginative, a fable, don’t let it effect your work, living on the skeleton of his ancestry (or he’s a writer), tweeting dreams, the writer’s life,
I cannot tell why some things hold for me
A sense of unplumbed marvels to befall,
Or of a rift in the horizon’s wall
Opening to worlds where only gods can be.
There is a breathless, vague expectancy,
As of vast ancient pomps I half recall,
Or wild adventures, uncorporeal,
Ecstasy-fraught, and as a day-dream free.
It is in sunsets and strange city spires,
Old villages and woods and misty downs,
South winds, the sea, low hills, and lighted towns,
Old gardens, half-heard songs, and the moon’s fires.
But though its lure alone makes life worth living,
None gains or guesses what it hints at giving.
there’s that wall again, the wall as representative of the line between life and death, Ex Oblivione, they’re all dream-quests, “rift”, how the words associate with one another, all the abysses that Lovecraft talks about, The Strange High House In The Mist, a god having lunch, being thrown off the Earth, and yet…, a gate, a void, astral projection, the only way to the dream world (and space), super resonant, that’s great!, the wall over which the imagining and expectancy of what could be, that alone makes life worth living, embracing the fact you’re going to be extinct, that depth is unplumbed, a “problematic depth”, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, wanting to be an astronomer, going on night walks, it’s isolating, he’s walking alone here, the “rift”,
Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down; past dark, shapeless, undreamed dreams, faintly glowing spheres that may have been partly dreamed dreams, and laughing winged things that seemed to mock the dreamers of all the worlds. Then a rift seemed to open in the darkness before him, and he saw the city of the valley, glistening radiantly far, far below, with a background of sea and sky, and a snow-capped mountain near the shore.
But three nights afterward Kuranes came again to Celephaïs. As before, he dreamed first of the village that was asleep or dead, and of the abyss down which one must float silently; then the rift appeared again, and he beheld the glittering minarets of the city, and saw the graceful galleys riding at anchor in the blue harbour, and watched the gingko trees of Mount Aran swaying in the sea-breeze.
Once every year, in autumn’s wistful glow,
The birds fly out over an ocean waste,
Calling and chattering in a joyous haste
To reach some land their inner memories know.
Great terraced gardens where bright blossoms blow,
And lines of mangoes luscious to the taste,
And temple-groves with branches interlaced
Over cool paths—all these their vague dreams shew.
They search the sea for marks of their old shore—
For the tall city, white and turreted—
But only empty waters stretch ahead,
So that at last they turn away once more.
Yet sunken deep where alien polyps throng,
The old towers miss their lost, remembered song.
a sunken city, the city waits for them too, I don’t like it when people give me presents, faking it, for a minute or two, in that moment, Wayne always appreciates more cash, The City In The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe, Lo! Death has reared himself a throne, J.R.R. Tolkien, no Usher-ness, Little Princess Mee, Shap = Shaper (dream) or shop, profound, where the sea meets the sky, “Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down”, and “Endlessly down the horsemen floated, their chargers pawing the aether as if galloping over golden sands; and then the luminous vapours spread apart to reveal a greater brightness, the brightness of the city Celephaïs, and the sea-coast beyond, and the snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky.”, a dream written down, keep reading the same story over and over again, Paul’s map (or depiction) of Celephais, Campaign Cartographer, inspired to art, the abandoned village is Innsmouth, a river running through it, a completely inverted vision, ancient atavism vs. beauty and a new golden age, steering into The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Carter once knew Kuranes in waking life, Carter knows me, the more muscular adventurer, all around the Dreamlands, the infection of dream travel, Kuranes’ last name is Trevor, a hit of this hookah, back to reality, back to childhood, The Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, exiled to reality, better off in the real world, the reverse, Wayne June’s audiobooks for Thomas Shap and Celephaïs, a dream fiction collection, have them all together, at your terrible job, retire to the sea-coast and go for a sleep walk, read it on your own.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The 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.
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