The SFFaudio Podcast #336 – READALONG: A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

September 28, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #336 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Bryan Alexander talk about A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

Talked about on today’s show:
the original title Nightspore Of Tormance, colouring a reading, a really weird book, William Blake meets Gene Wolfe but Scottish, H.G. Wells in the 1960s taking acid, John Bunyan meets science fiction, The Pilgrim’s Progress, do they leave the Earth?, the first five chapters, multiple resonances, future echoes, quasi-science fiction philosophy, a time travel book, a time loop, a Buddhist reincarnation story, everyone at the party, Krag, Surtur, and Shaping, a gnostic novel, re-reading the ending, Crystalman, a terrifying demi-god, a breathtaking thing, later Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer is a happy version of this story, like the Epic Of Gilgamesh, profound and disturbing, the death-toll, The Odyssey, everyone who sails with Odysseus gets killed, Maskull is a killer, a freebooter, one half Conan, detailed set-up, energetic, furious, uncontrolled, coming to self-knowledge, the demi-urge we’ve been looking for, maybe the events are co-temperanous, the events on Arcturus vs. the events on Earth, time-travel, myth, mythic time is always happening, coming to awareness, pursuit of liberation, the point of process, the 1971 movie, black and white and low budget, hippie hair on Maskull, Mr. Hair, the medium, you are about to witness a materialization, isn’t that clever?, Lindsay injected so much resonance, dream-like, everything that Nightspore says and does shows his experience level, All You Zombies, By His Bootstraps, Predestination (an adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s All You Zombies), this book is about gender, female and male selves, the third gender, the Wombflash story, another version of Maskull, Joywind, a story about the human experience, Maskull = man-skull or mask-all, really profound!, like a religious text, explaining the conflicts with women, Oceaxe, Panawae, sacrificed for him, the Wikipedia chapter summaries, Starkness observatory, an observatory without telescopes!, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft, a house as a symbol for the body, climbing the observatory, he had three times the gravity, roll-up their sleeves, spitting on their wounds, this is a suicide story too, Joiwind, blood swap, blood brothers, quick sex, Crag spits on the blood, Steven Universe, naked wrestling, horseplay, matterplay, very 1960s, I Will Fear No Evil, Stranger In Strange Land, Mah-skuul, the voyage removes the masks, a total vision of the universe, explaining all of nature, Hindu reincarnation, a Promethean element, the fire of the gods, Fred Kiesche, the Ballantine publication, a sixties thing, the tower’s levels, climbing the Karmic ladder, what has need got to do with it?, each window is a life, Tormance = torment + romance or to romance, a quasi-scientific romance, Tralfamadore, Tormance as a platonic version of Earth, Eric S. Rabkin’s science fiction class, new senses, new organs, new colours, the sheer weirdness, a lake that is a musical instrument, like Ringworld, Carcosa, Jale and Ulfire (new colours), Mr. Jim Moon, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, a lack of rockets doesn’t prevent travel to the stars, a torpedo, backlight, quasi-science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs, like John Carter’s journey to Mars, like Superman under the yellow sun, a 19 hour journey, the profound understanding of the size and age of the universe, The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, deep time, massive space, the limitation of physics and limitations of matter, Violet Apple website (about David Linday), Oceaxe from Sycorax (from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest), Harold Bloom’s A Flight To Lucifer, C.S. Lewis was the first and only fan of the book, a complaint about the theology?, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, wanting to find meaning in a godless or evil-godded universe, the strict rules of realism, The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse, a post-apocalypse novel, a game of all of human knowledge, Siddhartha, Jesse is anti-realism, after reading A Voyage To Arcturus Jesse feels uplifted, it is all wrapped up in an H.G. Wellian style explanation, the greatest joke ever, the guy attending the seance is the guy who is called forth at the seance, The Red Room, bridging the gap between the ghost story and the real science fiction philosophy quest for the purpose of existence, Cavorite, a way to get to the thing that you want, a chapter about colour theory, art theory, Eric would be interested in Joiwind’s eating habits, eating Gnallwater, philosophy of food, vegetarianism, raising animals for food, Hinterland Games’ The Long Dark, as a WWI novel, the traumatic waste, the bonding of an individual to the will of a country, the Vietnam War, go out and kill people?, explaining the seance, the U.S. Civil War, 1920s and 1930s fiction, Mrs. Dolloway by Virginia Woolf, unseated and violent, this is a guy who went to war and didn’t like what he saw, Robert Graves, Goodbye To All That, comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien’s textual texts, Lewis is more projective, Narnia, Lindsay and LEwis looking forward and Tolkien looking back, Middle Earth as the original history of Earth, Lewis looking forward, so much suicide, this book doesn’t shy away from anything, homoeroticism, Anne Leckie’s new exciting non gendered pronoun book, yeah well so does this 1920 novel, this book has everything, the third sex, gender swapping, how could this book ever make the mainstream?, Michael Bay production, Die Farbe (the German movie adaptation of The Colour Out Of Space), out on DVD-R, black and white and colour, colour changes, always travelling north, Maskull get on a train and go north to Scotland, back to Buchan, Olaf Stapledon, getting the cosmos, the universe becomes a character, The Last And First Men, Martian energy beings, Starmaker is like Edgar Rice Burroughs, massive issues of being, an ethical call to people, there’s nothing quite like it to day in fiction, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, astral projection, we’ll go to the Moon, The Crystal Egg, working with the limited physics that is possible, Star Trek, Tsiolkovsky and Goddard, Star Wars, green corpuscles, the midichlorians, an airplane/submarine, Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey, an echo of Verne and Wells, mundane science fiction, this is bullshit!, their all jobless!, this is not planetary romance, more like H.P. Lovecraft’s dreamlands, dream rules apply, the experience of reading Gene Wolfe, mythic power with personal power, something is happening right around you.

Sphere - A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #334 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #334 – The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Pioneer, March 1843, a Hawthorne Poe fest, contemporaries, The Scarlet Letter, a quote by Poe about Hawthorne, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, well known?, why this story Fred?, he’s obsessed with sin, sociopaths, trigger warnings, neurosis, shame, luck, shaped by sin, a mark upon the family, subconscious Freudian messages, Commentary Magazine, Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature by Gary Saul Morson, textual density, vocab, Lovecraft poems, Fungi From Yuggoth poems, harbours, kids are now shuttled between school the home and the mall, ranting against Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, revolutions in 20th century literature, Ernest Hemingway, the show don’t tell revolution, Hawthorne is the telling-est teller who ever telled, the right attitude toward sin, the two facedness of people, Hawthorne is attacking late stage decadent Puritanism, a homosexual vibe, what is the lesson?, science reaches too far?, Gothic horror, the evil wizard or the mad scientist, science as the channel to unlimited power, elixirs, potions, not even futuristic, Georgiana, Aminadab?, where is this story set?, Aylmer’s castle, Aylmer’s wealth, a compartmentalized life, from the third person POV, the host narration, obsession, the left side, the sinister side, she’s been marked, in the dream, chemical means, pre-Darwin, “I’ve got these old books”, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a natural philosopher, science vs. alchemy vs. magic, Isaac Newton, almost as if he was Ben Franklin, electricity, many suitors, Aylmer’s wooing, is Aylmer gaslighting Georgiana?, she’s reading, a Medieval heroine, a character of of Greek mythology, is a sex-change story?, is this a boob-job story?, envy, the tips of two small fingers, she’s compared to a marble statue, small pox scars, Marilyn Monroe‘s beauty mark, does positioning matter?, Supernatural Horror And Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, a meditation on obsession, many uninteresting analysis, so little action, beyond the sexual interpretation, Hawthorne doesn’t seem all that prudish, how far can you go in purist of perfection in a fallen world, a mark of original sin, wanting knowledge (of good and evil?), the sin of disobedience, Frankenstein and Aylmer are reading the same books, the process of creating a man in Frankenstein, the lightning bolt, Luigi Galvani, grave-robbing, Paracelsus, the gold thing is your way of getting funding, when writing a grant…, this might lead to a cure for cancer(!), alchemy as a religion, The Cask Of Amontillado, Eric S. Rabkin, “the niter, it grows”, Montresor or Fortunato, niter, growing human shaped things inside of bottles, poisons, psychology and the occult, the difference between alchemy and science is openness, the Royal Society, Harry Potter’s school, there have to be muggles, magically oblivious, J.K. Rowling, natural greed, the ethic of sharing knowledge, France’s version of the Royal Society, like the obsession with “open source” or the “public domain”, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, sooo lifelike, sooo beautifully painted, Gothic horror, the evil mad scientist is destroyed by the power he unleashes, The Portrait Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the ending, what is Hawthorne saying?, was Aylmer’s attempt doomed from the beginning?, Jesse’s mom, one of the most important powers of a teacher, she has “THE VOICE”, Muad’dib (Paul Atredies), Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, a profound revelation, philosophy and critical thinking, vitamins are bullshit, fish oil woke Fred’s brain, North America has the world’s most expensive urine, religion wants you to take it on authority, bronze age holy texts, religion as book club where you only ever read one book (or just listen to a guy who did), cynicism or wisdom, loyalty to the organized religion of your family, inherited religions, fundamentalist belief systems, the narcissism of small differences, splintering, revolting revolutionaries, purity of doctrine, young earth creationists, Catholicism as an almost ethnicity (an identity), Hawthorne as a stopgap between H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley, the murky origins of Science Fiction, Dante, Lucifer frozen in the ice, a Gothic ghost story, Frankenstein’s obsession is with defeating death, too in love with science, Hawthorne’s message is like: “don’t drink too much”, Greek symposia, what really happened at a Greek symposium, “write drunk and edit sober”, The Odyssey, mixing water with wine, getting plastered is a sign on unmanning, the Greek obsession was with finding the moderation between too little and too much, what was Hephzibah’s sin?, her sin is being too worried about sin, “you will eat blood”, public shaming is a little much, be moderate with your casting of sin, John Wesley, a healthy functioning society, wealth corruption, falling into decadence, the protestant work ethic is kicking-in, Guggenheim, ransoming the grandchild, leaving it all to art, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Fred’s all time favourite Science Fiction novel: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, how do we raise the next generation?, a supercharged Kindle, matter compilers, Star Trek‘s replicator, eating green sludge, window panes made out of pure diamond, handmade hipsters, how you raise the next generation in a wealthy society, we are unimaginably wealthy, are Japan’s young people uninterested in sex?, Richard Dawkins on Twitter, The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, Gothic-y, Science-y, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, a great inventor, Neoterics, he’s stealing their ideas, the ultimate mad scientist story, following in the tradition, somatoypes, ectomorph (Aylmer), mesomorph (Aminidab), endomorph (Jesse), it’s a scam!, Hillary Clinton, the Ronald Reagans of the world, this is astrology, people think that once you’ve got a word for something you understand it, wearing the mask long enough…, IQ tests, quantification, any time we think we understand the most complex thing in the universe…, there really is a subconscious, tweeting dreams, psychology, the book club with only one book in it, The Great Courses (The Teaching Company), Eric S. Rabkin, survey courses, kooky specializations, the best way to learn, the perennial student, taught not to learn, philosophy of art, credentialism, Jesse can guess the exact words in a student’s vocabulary, guess your weight or age, how Jesse gets work, gaming credentialism, no high school diploma, a contempt for institutionalized learning, a play-by-the-rules personality, grade inflation, what did Mussolini do?, intimidation vs. cultivation, give the students the experience of reading, reading as a meeting of minds, defending a dissertation, essays, we’re obsessed with essays (for the wrong reason), ohhh spoilers!, the big problem with almost any media, “I don’t want to spoil it for you.”, testing is easier, a kind of objectivity, don’t blame the actors for shitty Hollywood movies, status is society, education as the cultivation of minds, there aren’t enough people who are willing to rebel!

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - modified John Collier's "Laboratory", 1895

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - illustration by Lisa K. Weber

Posted by Jesse Willis

Recapture by H.P. Lovecraft

November 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

First published in the May 1930 issue of Weird Tales. Illustration by Boris Dolgov.

Recapture by H.P. Lovecraft

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft

October 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Nameless City by H.P. Lovecraft (illustration by Jack Binder from Weird Tales, November 1938)

H.P. Lovecraft’s 5,000 word short story, The Nameless City, was based one of his dreams. That dream, in turn, was inspired by the last line of Lord Dunsany’s story The Probable Adventure Of The Three Literary Men, a story from 1911 (itself available as an |MP3| from LibriVox). Indeed, the line is even quoted within the tale:

“the unreverberate blackness of the abyss”

The eponymous, anonymous, city itself seems to have been inspired by “Iram, the City of Pillars” which was a mysterious lost city – a kind of “Atlantis of the Sands” – that is mentioned in the Quran.

And one critic, according to the detailed Wikipedia entry for the story, has it that Lovecraft was inspired by At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

And for all those reasons The Nameless City is certainly worth looking at, if you can find it.

To help I’ve assembled a |PDF| made from a scan of the story, as published in the November 1938 issue of Weird Tales.

And here are several freely available narrations:

LibriVoxThe Nameless City
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Mark Nelson
1 |MP3| – Approx. [UNABRIDGED]
Published: January 23, 2008
It lay silent and dead under the old cold desert moonlight, but what strange race inhabited the abyss beneath those cyclopean ruins?
First published in The Wolverine, No. 11, November 1921.

LibriVoxThe Nameless City
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Scott Carpenter
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: October 19, 2008
It lay silent and dead under the old cold desert moonlight, but what strange race inhabited the abyss beneath those cyclopean ruins?
First published in The Wolverine, No. 11, November 1921.

LibriVoxThe Nameless City
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Rebecca M.L.
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: April 14, 2011
It lay silent and dead under the old cold desert moonlight, but what strange race inhabited the abyss beneath those cyclopean ruins?
First published in The Wolverine, No. 11, November 1921.

Yog Radio PodcastThe Nameless City
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Michael Scott
1 |MP3| – 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Yog Radio
Podcast: May 7, 2006
It lay silent and dead under the old cold desert moonlight, but what strange race inhabited the abyss beneath those cyclopean ruins?
First published in The Wolverine, No. 11, November 1921.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of 14 by Peter Clines

October 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Cover of 14 by Peter Clines14
By Peter Clines; Read by Ray Porter
Audible Download – 12 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2012
Themes: / Mystery / Science Fiction / Horror

As you might be able to tell from the diverse yet vague range of themes listed above, 14 is a difficult book to classify or review. Much like The Matrix, you can’t really be told what 14 is; you simply have to experience it for yourself. The blurb–or perhaps the term log line would be more appropriate–reads:

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment. Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much. At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s. Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends. Or the end of everything….

Aside from giving off a subtle Stephen King vibe, this synopsis doesn’t much help categorize the book either. And yet, in precisely the way book cover pitches are supposed to do, it offers just enough tantalizing hints to draw you in. If I had to pick a single overriding genre for the novel, I would choose mystery. There are indeed some strange goings-on in the Kavach Building, which houses the novel’s motley assortment of tenanets as well as the eponymous apartment number 14. Some of these things are creepy, hence the horror; some are paranormal, hence the science fiction. But ever driving the plot forward is protagonist Nate Tucker’s desire to get to the bottom of it all. The mystery theme is underscored by repeated, almost overdone, references to Scooby Doo. But in terms of literary and historical allusions Scooby and Shaggy are kept good company by the likes of Nikola Tesla and H. P. Lovecraft. Yes, the book is that weird.

What makes it all work and flow so smoothly is Clines’s knack for characterization. The listless protagonist Nate Tucker, the artist Xela with nudist tendencies, the Hindi hacker Veek, the hardcore Christian Andy, and virtually every other character, major or minor, are people whose stories are minor mysteries in their own right. When, pardon my French, shit gets weird, you’re always anchored by this (mostly) likable ensemble. Clines’s writing is also excellent. His background in Hollywood is evident in the novel’s setting and characters, and the third-person narration is likewise cinematic in pacing. It would be easy to see 14 adapted into a movie or, preferably, a miniseries. The novel excels, as a good mystery should, in dropping tantalizing plot hints, only to cut away to more chapters on characterization, spurring the reader to read on and find out what happens next. In the hands of less capable writers this technique can feel like a cheap trick, but fortunately Clines doesn’t overdo it.

The diverse cast of characters poses a potential challenge for narrator Ray Porter, from the feminine cadence of Veek’s Indian accent to the clipped, harried German accent of Oskar the building manager. Fortunately, Porter is mostly up to the task. He handles these characters, as well as a broad range of accents from our own continent, nearly flawlessly. With a few exceptions near the end, his narration manages to feel unobtrusive, almost as if there were no narrator at all and the listener is simply telepathically absorbing the words from the page. I don’t believe I’ve listened to Ray Porter’s work before, but I’ll certainly watch for him from now on.

The book puts a neat little bow on most mysteries, but there are still a few loose tendrils that could serve as springboards for another novel in the same universe. It really was difficult to say goodbye to the characters and the world. In his review for Fantasy Book Critic, Mihir Wanchoo draws several apt comparisons between 14 and the television series Lost. The resemblance is indeed strong. If you enjoy strong characterization and a whirlwind of genre-bending mysteries, you’ll probably love the hell out of 14. And–sorry J.J. Abrams et al.–Peter Clines actually knew where the plot was going.

Posted by Seth

19 Nocturne Boulevard: The View From Within AUDIO DRAMA (adapted from an H.P. Lovecraft story)

September 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

This is an adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft short story, a very loose one, and the title is different. I think if you’ve read it you have a chance of identifying it, but if you haven’t you probably won’t.

19 Nocturne Boulevard - The View From Within19 Nocturne Boulevard – The View From Within
By Julie Hoverson; Adapted from a story by H.P. Lovecraft; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: 19 Nocturne Boulevard
Podcast: November 15, 2010

Richard … Philemon Vanderbeck
Edward … Bryan Hendrickson
Charles … Michael Coleman
Warren … Glen Hallstrom
Herbert … Carl Cubbedge
Auguste … Reynaud LeBoeuf

Music by Kevin MacLeod

Posted by Jesse Willis

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