The SFFaudio Podcast #410 – READALONG: Protector by Larry Niven

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #410 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Protector by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
1973, Galaxy, June 1967, The Adults by Larry Niven, Phssthpok, the name of the ship, the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Human, and Eagle, baby angels, beaked, going deeper, the seraphim, Cherubism

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

the end

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

how the aliens are described, aliens, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, previous encounters with Larry Niven, channeling all sorts of things, what did Maissa think?, a softer spot for Larry Niven, not sexist at all, Larry Niven’s best book, an abrupt ending, incomplete pieces, more Kobold, the artificial planetoid, Eden II, the first paperback release of Protector, a donut shaped planet with a tibit (Tim Horton’s), the belly button of the donut, donut holes, a monster or a fairy, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, by all the Lords of Kobol, clicks, Battlestar Galactica, going Old Testament, going Mormon, a masterful novel, The Ringworld Engineers as a reprise of Protector, Ringworld as the light fun novel, the ending is so good, the horror, genocide, fighting for humanity, Roy Truesdale, tricking the nurses, fake cities, WWII, inflatable tanks, a page break, it seems only reasonable to novelize this report, that was fun, check the duplicate Stonehenge, the final three paragraphs, just behind this laser pulse, “I love you”, the novel is wrong, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, Betrayer Of Worlds, Protector has enough space battle to kill actual space battle novel (barring crappy space opera space battles), space seeds, biological bullshit, a highly motivated character, deeply reasoned, a quasi relative, the opposite of X-Wings and Tie fighters banking in outer space, we love it anyway, exactly the opposite, cool vs. functional, steel jacketed, magnetic field, the thinking behind the space battles wipes out everyone (writer’s) abilities to write any more, a galactic chess game vs. high-stakes poker, sub-light relativistic space battles, positional effects, Rules Of Engagement (or maybe Master of Orion ?, C.S. Forester, broadsides in space, a Frederick Pohl editorial from 1963, Spacewar! (literally mentioned in this book), Asteroids, a right turn in space, that’s why Larry Niven’s the best, playing with the laws of physics and he doesn’t cheat, the Hal Clement essay, honest poker, the panspermia aspect, World Of Ptavvs, the slavers, Homo habilis from the stars, dna based, the Slavers did it, the Sea Statue, a dissertation of free will, two divergent visions of Creation, when god stays or leaves, no progress, still animals, the image of the Eye and the Garden of Eden, the Eye In The Sky, I can see you – I can see through bushes, no art, Brennan can see, a sense of whimsy, a fun character, was Brennan a fake?, Truesdale’s protector, motivation, take me to you leader, so playful, he is their leader, amazing, paying fees, Oldavai, Crete, still in the breeding stage, a good book, bunches of questions and points, building the Ringworld, a different library, an expedition to Earth, an expedition to star X, their achilles’ heel, Ringworld Engineers is all echoes, we needed this book, Alice as in Alice In Wonderland, she left pregnant, play in the fields, but do not touch…, tell her about the Bluebeard myth (aka The Castle Of Murder), an egg, a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg, you do not want to open that door, you do not want to eat of those Trees, the solution to the mystery of the novel, everyone has been kidnapped is a descendant of Brennan, farming and cultivating descendants, Brennan monster is playful in his play, Vandervecken, making a myth he can enjoy, consciousness before being changed, the vampires get consciousness in Ringworld Engineers, does it help you to have whimsy, the jury is out, a message of despair, the Pak is coming, the Kzinti, The Mote In God’s Eye, hard lessons, genocide, moties, motivation by need, Brennan painting his spacesuit, biding his time, a medieval castle, progeny, deep down the point is art is good, if you’re smart enough there is very little free choice, Teela Brown’s luck, the same subject, the root is perpetuated by a virus, colonizing the pak, what is smartness except efficiency, crossing a continent, struggling with money, why do people want it, what is money anyway?, money is food, keeping your food safe with food, why does Trump need more money, operating as a logical creature it is to make his progeny better off, it worked for Genghis, inheritance, straight out the genes, what motivates people, biological determinism, everyone needs motivation, stop eating, grasping after fake visions of punishment (or reward), a “death wish”, like Phssthpok I’ve made all human children my beneficiaries, the Public Domain PDF Page, a hip street, channeling Frank Sinatra, taking photographs, not sanguine, Larry Niven’s own financial circumstances, writing SF for a long period of time, Greg Bear, Halo novels, Blood Music don’t put money on the table, Niven’s work is playful, the reason for Niven’s renown, making the piece the best piece it can be, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, collaborations, there are no spoilers,

Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…
-Dirk Grobbelaar

Among Others by Jo Walton, all his human characters blur together, Walton has a point, psychoanalyzing, SF isn’t a costume drama, John W. Campbell’s challenge: write me an alien that thinks as well as a man but unlike a man, Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves, Arrival, the story and the movie, Understand by Ted Chiang, Limitless (2011), and the rightly cancelled Limitless TV series, like the Minority Report TV show, from the sub-conscious to uplift and unconscious and conscious, Flowers For Algernon, flourishing and protected, seeing the manipulation happening, Sherlock Holmes, seeing the pattern no one else can see, intelligence, politics and the failures of politics, intelligence vs. manipulation, a smart person doesn’t gamble unless they know it isn’t a gamble, a war longer than the quagmire of the Vietnam War, all of that struggle, that’s the opposite of intelligence, Niven is right about intelligence and options, Brennan is not as bound, the golf course, did Brennan ever play the golf course that he built?, this would be good, having thought those through, how we see Brenna when he interacts with his Adam and Eve, he runs, the next thing that needs to be done, the efficiency we gain as adults, pretending to play dolls, the exigencies of adulthood, being a smart adult, I put away childish things, playing with LEGO, an angle to attack, LEGO as a awards, appreciating the enjoyment of play, having consciousness of his childhood, creations for a purpose, sharing vs. hoarding, pondering deep things, the mother vs. the father, Brennan’s modified suit with the Mother and Child, a savior figure, he’s the Madonna, their garden, playthings for the children, the Sol system is Brennan’s garden, have you noticed you haven’t had war?, exterminating the Martians, The Organleggers, capital crimes, China, the horror of rationality, organ transplantation, the RNA sequence, wiping your whole mind, the premise of Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck, Rammer by Larry Niven, A World Out Of Time, greater than human intelligence, we were manipulated into it, The Draco Tavern, playful comedic pieces, here’s a problem of science and here’s my solution, jokes, a whole subgenre of bar stories, The Callahan books by Spider Robinson, Lord Dunsany’s The Jorkens Stories, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, chirality, thalidomide, an iceberg, Known Space, just one of Niven’s playgrounds, Hard Fantasy, The Magic Goes Away, as you use magic you deplete a natural resource, magic carpet, a dead spot, and back in these days amoeba were the size of whales, that’s how little magic is left, a Niven disc, a sense of sadness, set in the time of Atlantis, The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak, Niven as an efficient writer, jarring transitions, needing an editor, better than Clement, sex, a vitality, the weather is a little to clement in Clement’s world, Harry Stubbs, revisiting Protector, given Tree Of Life now Paul would… stop eating? wiping out half of humanity for reasons known only to him… in the New World Order, remaining human, being a mom, maternal feelings, a screaming red thing that came out of your body, are Protectors more like moms than dads?, genderless, oh sweetie, killing off all the creatures that threaten her children, warlike, a mother wouldn’t do that, is Niven right?, if you’re smart enough are their fewer and fewer courses of action?, the Teela monster, pretty sure Niven was never a mom, fierce viking grandparents, no free will, different motivation and different results, why does Brennan wait to convert Truesdale, poor Brennan, too much talking baby-talk, gender as an honorific, Protector Mom (please don’t write this as a sequel), something really original, a creation so original it is like a dragon or an elf, seeing the cat vs. monkey you’ve always wanted, the super-strong hominid vs. the intelligent tiger, Speaker vs. Teela, as Douglas Adams put it “Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.”, we got our own stuff going, the Traveller universe, most excellent.

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Ballantine Books (1973) Protector by Larry Niven

Protector by Larry Niven - illustration by H.R. Von Dongen

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)

Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself

At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.

a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,

Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.

It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.

That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.

poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,

“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep# 054 – Hesperia by H.P. Lovecraft

February 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, 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 – READALONG: The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

January 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

II. Pursuit

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.

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #404 – READALONG: The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

January 16, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast
H.P. Lovecraft's The Call Of Cthulhu
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #404 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander and Wayne June, talk about The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

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

Armed Services Edition - H.P. LOVECRAFT
Cthulhu illustration from Deities and Demigods
The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #403 – AUDIOBOOK: The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

January 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #403 – The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Martin Reyto.

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.

The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft - illustration from Weird Tales

Posted by Jesse Willis

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