Reading, Short And Deep #021 – Moon-Face by Jack London

June 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #021

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Moon-Face by Jack London

Moon-Face was first published in The Argonaut, July 21, 2016

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

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Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #352 – TOPIC: Doors, Gates, and Portals (and Rubicons)

January 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #352 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Prof. Eric S. Rabkin talk about doors, gates, and portals (and rubicons)

Talked about on today’s show:
thinking about doors, individual phenomena, a phenomenological way, white and purity, water, Edmund Husserl, an intensional act of consciousness, the conquistadors, when did WWII happen?, what kind of a phenomenon is a door?, doors are artificial, Narcissus and the lake, a boundary, passages for the whole body, windows, two-way passages, quicksand, horizontal movement, four qualities, the story of Oedipus, the riddle of the Sphinx, man -> mankind, the founding myth of Western culture, Aristotle, from one world to another, Eric in his professorial mode, the word world, were = man, the age of Man, in the world of…, the social domain that human beings create for themselves, prisons, doors as phenomena are artificial boundaries between two different worlds, social changes from one side of a door to another, doors as a phenomenon represent changes from consciously defined worlds, outdoors vs. indoors, inside and outside the gingerbread house, the morning thesis, the idea for this show, windows as opposed to doors, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, wanting to turn windows into doors, a rich example, sliding doors vs. sliding windows, in Science Fiction…, Robert A. Heinlein, defining the writing style of Science Fiction, the ideal Science Fiction sentence, Beyond This Horizon, “The door dilated and a voice from within said ‘Come in Felix.'”, wasting energy, one little change makes it a Science Fiction world, Heinlein invented the word “slideway”, Friday, from the reader’s armchair world it the fantastic world, folklore, liminality, crossing rivers, wandering into the forest, a wild world with gods and monsters, agrarian rural society -> industrial living, the wardrobe, The Door In The Wall, The Gable Window by H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth, Dreams In The Witch-house, a locked-room mystery, The Secret Garden, a Wellsian door in the wall, what’s behind the door could be anything, mythical monsters, vampires need your permission to cross your threshold, Dracula comes in through the window, defying gravity and the phenomenology of windows, an instant subliminal marker, ho ho ho, Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, the lore of changelings, leaving the house by the chimney, Little Red Riding Hood, “dispatched by typical female means” (cooking), Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass, Alice is fantasizing before she leaves the bank of the river, the river side is a liminal domain, dazing, daisies, crossings, protective imagination, opening the door for a sequel, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, a girl named Door, London’s underclass, being homeless is living outdoors, a hunter named Hunter, Door’s father is Lord Portico, a door back into Heaven, another rich text, worlds within worlds, the word hinge, ideas hinge upon something, stiles aren’t like doors, stiles don’t have hinges, lichgates and side doors to churches, the dead enter the church through a different door than the living, The Superstitious Man’s Tale by Thomas Hardy, shades of everybody, fourteen saints, a holiday in Germany, the blood of a sacrificial lamb, Exodus, keeping death from the door, all saints day, Jack-O-Lanterns scare off the returning dead, nature, walking through a gate, spirits pass through, how do gates function in keeping out the spirits of the dead, gates as territorial boundaries, “you come in through here”, the laws of territoriality, a keeper of the gate, the gate is the cover of the book, the door is what we cross “Once upon a time…”, “the second page of the first paragraph of a famous book”, why round?, why the exact center?, why green?, Eric’s eyes are green, The Door In The Wall has a green door, magic doors are often green, The Magic Door The Green Door (aka The Little Green Door) by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, horrible and messy and smelly, fundamental jokes in the Shrek series, Shrek is green too, kids love farts, About Time (2013), Domhnall Gleeson going through doors, “doors are amazing”, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, the Chinese Scholar’s garden at Snug Harbour cultural center, moon gates, gates post signs, gates offer viewpoints, from The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe:

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
And laugh—but smile no more.

the mouth as a door for voice and wisdom (and later a gate for flies and maggots), orifices, doors are artificial, eyes as windows, windows as natural, calm water as a window, the night sky as a window into the universe, window = wind and eye, a metaphor switching meaning, a heart is like a pump and a pump is like a heart, Babylon 5, star-gates, the Twilight Zone show inside Futurama: The Scary Door, Fredric Brown: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. there was a knock on the door.”, William F. Nolan’s the door problem, a seventy-foot bug, the imagination trumps revelation, film, Shiley Jackson’s The Haunting Of Hill House (in the book and the film), banging vs. knocking, the unopened door, the end of The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, The Psychoanalysis Of Fire by Gaston Bachelard, “fire: fine servant, horrible master”, poor little rich boys, the ultimate irony: Arbeit Macht Frei, an open gate, the phenomena interpenetrate, Rubicon (lost and found), The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, “h amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x”, uni-directional time travel as a kind of rubicon, Julius Caesar’s crossing, Alea iacta est (“The die is cast”), suicide, Jean Paul Sartre, Rip van Winkle, rubicons are natural, driving in Los Angeles county, counties and shires divided by rivers, the mouth as a (mostly) one way door into the body, Protector by Larry Niven, the tree of life root is a one way door (a rubicon), The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, The Ring, the River Styx, ancient heroes and gods crossing back and forth across the river Styx, biological machines, Jesus Christ’s tomb door, a locked room mystery, doubting Thomas, The Cold Equations as a demarcation between materialist SF and all other kinds, rejecting the premise of the story, two kinds of laws, “Marilyn willingly walks into the airlock and is ejected into space.”, myth vs. hard Science Fiction vs. soft Science Fiction, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a few examples in literature, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, seven gates to Hell in Pennsylvania, Hell, Michigan, Audie Murphy’s To Hell And Back, a rubicon as an irrevocable choice, The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman, Will cutting portals to other realms, “the ability to create portal given to someone on the cusp of puberty”, age 21 (given the key to the door), Key to the city, garter -> gate, barbicans, walled homes in the northern Mediterranean, doors within doors, protected by the laws of the city, the freedom of the city given to military units, Janus -> January, a two faced god and the god of doors, the doors to the temple of Janus are closed, open cities, Brussels, the locking of doors, growing up in New York you’re never fully at peace, living in Strawberry Point, Iowa, wifi open vs. wifi encrypted, wardriving, keeping the door open, the subspecies, dutch-doors, squeaky hinges, a door that opens up, China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, “falling backwards into a world in which a consciousness extends infinitely in all directions”, “the phenomenology changes the epistemology”, ontological differences, The Star Rover by Jack London, a portal to other places and times via astral projection, even in confinement one can find ways out, The Demolished Man The Stars My Destination, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, the restriction of the coffin of the body, jaunting, The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, The Twilight Zone episode The Hunt, a country bumpkin -> a rural American, all dogs go to heaven, gatekeepers and doorkeepers, porter, the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, wine drinkers and beer drinkers, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, was anything down that hatch on Lost?

Beyond This Horizon - Astounding Science Fiction April 1942 - illustration by Hubert Rogers

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #345 – READALONG: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

November 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #345 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about the Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.

Talked about on today’s show:
1937, Jesse has a radical thesis, is this book a true story?, I’m not really happy I just think that I am, Alice In Acidland, drugs, what do we mean by true?, arachnoids and ikthyoids, a summary of Last And First Men, the unnamed narrator, astral projection, the contents of this book, not history but a personal experience (of imagination), standing on a hill, an interesting fantasia, considering the size of the universe, Star Trek with Nazi costumes is possible and perhaps even inevitable, The Truman Show, the nature of infinity, an Italian who would be perfectly happy to use the word true about this book, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.”, bitterness, Dante Alighieri, a lyric poem, Olaf Stapledon was a philosopher, a blazing panoply, an image of the rose, OS, “One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.”, an abiding faith, the original meaning of comedy, comedies end in marriage, sitcoms, both narrators acknowledge their psychological state, an exponential rhythm, overhead obscurities in flight, a Doppler shift, the other Earth, Bvalltu, a composite character, planets – > solar systems -> galaxies, a fractal experience, an encompassing wisdom, marriage as a small atom of community, spirit inhabited rock, a World War I novel, 1986, Eric taught Star Maker to Bryan, memories imbricated upon each other, the preface, Stapledon was an ambulance driver in WWI, looming WWII, militarism, seeing the sunny side of a ruined planet, Merseyside, too smashed up to really be alive, a 1930s novel, fascism vs. communism, how to organize the self and society, a secular myth, a shock to civilization, the cycle of mechanization, terrible mutations, the onset of the tank, a sense of horror, WWI and WWII as two different episodes, the Spanish Civil War, shaking off colonialism, materialistic industrialization, the only wait out is an act of faith, how can we not think of the Star Maker as a monster, “struck dumb with shame”, limitations of the audio medium, Bryan’s keyboard, C.S. Lewis, why C.S. Lewis didn’t like Star Maker, a Lewis-nemesis, crusades, the Great War on Terror (2 decades old), mindless religious violence, anticipations of subsequent Science Fiction, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, two 20th century philosophies, Freud and Marx, neurosis and sublimation, genitals with sense organs, radio pornography, the feelies from Brave New World, crisis of labour, ideologies as philosophical artifacts, not Dave Singer, separated by space and time, supplementary parentheses, adduction of Christianity, three linked universes, playing for the souls of the creatures, a timeless heaven and a timeless hell, Earth, Mars, and Venus in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, suffering for the redemption of the Earth, explicitly not a Christian view, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as a response to a paragraph in Star Maker, all the Christs of all the worlds, “a basket of Christs”, this is Arthur C. Clarke, a tour of Science Fiction in the future, this is The Mote In God’s Eye, The High Crusade, the novel itself is a universe, cosmos vs. universe, Jesse’s theory about the Game Of Thrones universe in the TV show, what Clarke does this in slight watercolours Stapledon paints in bold oils on a massive canvas, Arthur C. Clarke’s life changing moment, copying out the scales of magnitude, Bryan’s son, encapsulating, it is Stapledon, Dante is Dante in The Divine Comedy, The Divine Comedy as political revenge, Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, Stapledon is not a punishment guy, when Lovecraft looks out of the universe…, when Stapledon looks at the same vista he’s not as melancholy about it, The Cats Of Ulthar, contemporaries, philosophical horror, long distance psychology, like Poe, fairy tales, handling fears, we get to feel, this is an education effort, quite special, a genre issue, the roller-coaster moment, looking at the vocabulary, eldritch and ichor, lucidity, feeling, the etymology of the word “vermin”,

I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and
living gem revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though
invisible, were some of the most congested centers of human population.
There below me lay huge industrial regions, blackening the air with
smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly momentous enterprise had
made no mark whatever on the features of the planet. From this high
look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before the dawn of
man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could have
guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering,
self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.

the stellar wars, too lucid for more tribal patterns, sympsychic partnership, angelic vermin, more real than all the stars, like two close trees grown together, difference can be strength, the Orson Welles radio version of The War Of The Worlds, versus the Martians our differences don’t make a hill’s worth of difference, The Lord Of The Rings, looking for the Ents and the Entwives, there are Ents in Star Maker, the holy sex transmission that never got off, the ships worlds,

It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to
see the foam circling under one’s own nose as the vessel plunged through
the waves, to taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past
one’s flanks, to feel the pressure of air on the sails as one beat up
against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line the rush and murmur
of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom’s configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the
under-water ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a
hurricane, to feel the masts straining and the sails threatening to
split, while the hull was battered by the small but furious waves of
that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great living
ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their
yellow or russet sails to the wind’s variations; and very strange it was
to realize that these were not man-made objects but themselves conscious
and purposeful.

Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one
another’s sails with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another’s
soft “decks” with metal knives, or at a distance firing at one another
with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it was to feel in the presence
of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to carry out with
her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed
the love-play of this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled,
grapple her to one’s flank, and board her with sexual invasion. It was
charming, too, to see a mother ship attended by her children. I should
mention, by the way, that at birth the young were launched from the
mother’s decks like little boats, one from the port side, one from the
starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough
weather and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our
visit natural sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and
propeller which were fixed to the stern.

nothing like this in Science Fiction, Lloyd Abbey’s The Last Whales, an elegiac book, another sub-genre of Kindle based pornography, much of William Wordsworth’s poetry is admired too simply, Eric reads Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, the houses with windows like sleeping eyes, watching the lives of dreams, the houses are sleeping not the people within them, the smokeless air, lying still, what makes the beauty, The World Is Too Much With Us, a cry for God, Fungi From Yuggoth (IX): The Courtyard by H.P. Lovecraft:

It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!

deemed unfit, body horror, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, ever more capacious mentalities, being taught by groups, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Inner Light, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant as a horrible version of this, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, Boneland by Jeffrey Thomas, from a microscopic perspective, these things pass, bodyless timelords, a swarm of locusts, eugenics, Chapter 9, cultural and eugenical means, The King In Yellow (The Repairer Of Reputations) by Robert W. Chambers, the lethal chamber, Futurama, Providence, Alan Moore, criticism of Moore, turning everything Lovecraft hates into love, Last And First Men was a bestseller in 1930, the fifth generation, the Martian hive-mind, what is the moral ideal that Stapledon hopes that we move toward?, individuality in community, a literary allusion, a race on Venus, from epoch to epoch, that scaling thing again, the problem with fascism, fasces, is this a Darwinian book?, parasitism, symbiosis, evolution, Marx dedicated Capital to Darwin, getting rid of Harper, mutual aid, The World, the Flesh & the Devil by J.D. Bernal, astronomy, Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution), mutual slaughter, profit in fraternization with the enemy, like Rod Serling The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, gentleness as a religion, the entangled bank (in Origin Of Species), functional stability arising out of local possibilities of violence, virtue in the creator is not the same of virtue in the creature, a third position, the sense experience of a star, in the center of this paragraph, free will and determinism are compatible, always bigger, a selfless star, the normal voluntary motor activity of a star, if you empty your ego and just feel others, perfect selflessness allows entrance into perfect community, getting your karma clean, dark matter, the science is pretty damn good, the key word is “lucid”, the vast emptiness enables the insight into the stars, rubies lay behind me, the sky’s familiar diamonds, all possible light, watch Steven Universe, ageless like Star Maker, the tag cloud, world and worlds, Oswald Spengler, growth -> change -> decay, the myth at the end, the course of empire paintings, The Decline Of The West, Arnold J. Toynbee, future histories, we could see if we were lucid, a great Götterdämmerung moment, the Russian civil war, The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, subsequent Science Fiction, for those who haven’t yet read the book…, the most disliked and most liked book, what kind of a novel is this?, an epic poem crossed with a lyric poem, erroneous expectations, feel better about your fishwife and your step children, back to Lovecraft, a writer of ideas, Odd John and Sirius are more like regular novels, Jack London’s Star Rover, more swords fewer wives, Frank Herbert, God Emperor Of Dune, when you frame it that way…, Accelerando by Charles Stross, full time IT professionals writing SF, Ted Chiang and Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang can do anything, lapidary, Jorges Luis Borges wrote an introduction for Star Marker, A Story Between Jest and Earnest, Love and Discord.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #296 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop

December 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Z.B. Bishop

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #296 – The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop; read by Jim Campanella (from Uvula Audio). This is an unabridged reading of the story (3 hours 18 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, John Feaster, and Jim Campanella.

Talked about on today’s show:
The least interesting part, the headless ghost that is sometimes is a woman, why isn’t this story better known, a bait and switch, an Edgar Rice Burroughs pastiche written by H.P. Lovecraft, getting the girl, A Strange Manuscript Found In A Cthulhu Cylinder, Ms. Found In A Bottle, The Curse Of Yig, the unnamed ethnologist, Quetzalcoatl, slithering like a man, The Mountains Of Madness, The Horror In The Museum, the original version, the Bishops of Dunwich, aggressively biblical, strange lost societies, The Whisperer In Darkness, the underworld, Grey Owl, Grey Eagle, unabridged and (not unedited), a Cthulhu coin, a science fiction story, atomic power, materialize objects, body sculpting, Robert E. Howard, Zamacona, Cibola, a city of gold, inured to torture, a magnetic star metal, Xibalba (Mayan Hell), Mayans Incas Aztecs, The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, a forerunner to Brave New World, cannibalism, unicorn cattle, our world in their Hell, The Hound, sooo decadent, corpse hunters, a cartoon of evil, proto-emo-goths, are they interested in Zamacona, oooh he’s a savage!, morals are lost by boredom, civilization decays to barbarism, Red Nails by Robert E. Howard, The Red One by Jack London, disturbing culture, romances, disintegrating penises, lost worlds, he doesn’t do ghosts, all of the problems, headless and alive, convoluted, very Star Treky, a headless zombie, a secret history to this story, black flesh dissolving slime, The Festival, Indian skulls, the original headless ghost, headlessness is not a thing, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, strange shaped skulls, conquistadors gotta conquista, they could completely destroy us, the Roman aqueducts, bad medicine, Chief Sitting Bull, “Yes, no, and you bet”, B.C.’s native languages, water in BC is “chuck”, ocean is “salt chuck”, trading languages, ghost hunters and treasure hunters, dowsing doodlebugs, these are not barrows, this is a butte, Tikal (Guatemala), Teotihuacan (Mexico), Star Wars, parking your X-Wings, strange carvings on sandstone, Jack London’s The Red One, 1918, Charles Fort, 1919, Cahokia, plowed under, a cursed Pizza Hut, chocolate, potatoes, tomatoes and syphilis, Woodhenge, totem-poles, why we always talk about Romans (because we have books written by them), the Incan writing system (knots), cuneiform, we’ve got to get more styluses.

The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft

The Mound

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: The Story Of A Story – a 1917 editorial about the publication of Jack London’s first story (1899)

November 13, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Jack London - - - - The Story Of A Story

Below you’ll find the complete editorial introduction to the January 1917 issue of The Black Cat. Published very shortly after Jack London’s death, November 22, 1916, it serves as an introduction to the republication of London’s first published story, A Thousand Deaths (which appeared in the May 1899 issue of The Black Cat).

A Thousand Deaths is a SCIENCE FICTION story and it was the beginning of Jack London’s career. London would return again and again to SCIENCE FICTION, see our podcasts on Goliah, The Red One, The Star Rover (audiobook and discussion), and The Iron Heel (audiobook and discussion).

The complete text of A Thousand Deaths is here |PDF|, and we’ve done a podcast on it as well.

The Black Cat’s Editorial Page

Jack London – – – – The Story of a Story

Vagabond, explorer and oyster pirate; fisherman, gold prospector and toiler down among men; sociologist, student of metaphysics, and country gentleman,- Jack London was all of them – Jack London who died the other day. Perhaps his varied activities would fall into three classifications. First and always, he was the adventurer, following many trails and working at many trades; then the country gentleman, living in a more refined, if less invigorating atmosphere; and finally, the professional man of letters, doing his daily stint of a thousand words year in and year out, and making all other pursuits subservient to this one.

It is said of writers that they need not tramp over half the world in order to write great books. But it is quite probable that the man who does see half the world or all of it, for that matter, will sit down to write with a sub-conscious mind overflowing into note books, will in the actual labor of composition command a style of more than ordinary vigor. Jack London died at forty-one, at an age when many men are just starting out to test the broadening effects of travel. Seventeen years before his stories had begun to appear in print, and even at this time, he was drawing upon personal experiences and, first-hand knowledge for the raw material which goes into stories. And
at that time he had been seeing life in its broader aspects for nearly ten years, dating back to the end of his grammar school days and his entrance to man’s estate as a longshoreman.

Thus from the first he experienced none of that writer’s sterility which comes from lack of ideas. His struggle was not with matter, but with form. His years of apprenticeship were wholly dedicated to the mastery of technique and the cultivation of style; while other writers who lived less strenuously, butchered the former and worried along with a hybrid form of the latter as they put all of their energy into the pursuit of an idea that would be sure to take with the editors.

More than seventeen years ago, in May 1899, Jack London’s first story, “A Thousand Deaths,” was published in THE BLACK CAT. Doubtless many of our readers are already familiar with the facts concerning its publication as they are here set forth.

In Martin Eden, the book which more than any other of his is autobiography, London tells the old story of an author’s struggle for recognition. Martin Eden is about to go back to coal heaving, despairing of fame as a writer, when a letter from “The White Mouse” informs him of the acceptance of his story, ”The Whirlpool.’ That is the story in fictional form.

Here is the way London tells of his first acceptance by THE BLACK CAT, written as an introduction to “The Red Hot Dollar,” a collection of tales ‘by the founder of the
magazine, the late Mr. H. D, Umbstaetter.

“As I say, I was at the end of my tether, beaten out, staved, ready to go back to coal-shoveling or ahead to suicide. And then one morning I received a short. thin letter from a magazine.” (Mentioned as The Transcontinental in Martin Eden.) “This magazine had a national reputation. It had been founded by Bret Harte. It sold for twenty-five cents a copy. It held a four thousand word story of mine, ‘To the End of the Trail.’ I was modest. As I tore the envelope across the end, I expected to find a check for no more than forty dollars. Instead, I was coldly informed (by the Assistant Sub-scissors, I imagine) that my story was ‘available’ and that on publication I would be paid for it the sum of five dollars.

“The end was in sight, I was finished – finished as only a “very young, very sick and very hungry young man could be. And then, that same day, that very afternoon, the mail brought a short thin letter from Mr. Umbstaetter of THE BLACK CAT. He told me that the four thousand word story submitted to him was more lengthy than strengthy, but that if I would give permission to cut it in half. he would immediately send me
a check for forty dollars.

“I told Mr. Umbstaetter he could cut it down two halves if he would only send the money along. He did, by return mail. And that is precisely why I stayed in the writing game. Literally and literally I was saved by THE BLACK CAT short story.

“To many a writer with a national reputation THE BLACK CAT has been the steppingstone. The marvelous, unthinkable thing Mr. Umbstaetter did. was to judge a story on its merits and to pay for it on its merits. Also, and only a hungry writer can apprcciate it, he paid immediately upon acceptance.”

That is the story, of the story which marked the genesis of Jack London’s career as one of America’s most robust writers. We republish “A Thousand Deaths” as the first story this month and dedicate this number to the mememory of Jack London, the author, and to the memory of H. D. Umbstaetter, the editor who gave him a hand.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #258 – READALONG: The Star Rover by Jack London

March 31, 2014 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #258 – Jesse, Seth, and Maissa discuss The Star Rover (aka The Jacket) by Jack London.

Talked about on today’s show:
titled The Jacket in the UK; astral projection; what about alien past lives; the primordial ooze; the book is a laundry list of Jack London’s interests; structure resembles television flashbacks; knuckle-rap Morse Code; The Count of Monte Cristo; Seth recounts his own past-life story; Jesse and Maissa debate plausibility of reincarnation; Plato and the Land of the Forms; “little death” means something else in French; Ragnar Lodbrok based on Norse Mythology; anachronism; Korean history and turtle ships; Jesse attempts to use the Napoleon Complex to debunk reincarnation; everyman (and everywoman); does reincarnation extend beyond humanity?; “there’s only one soul”; Lucretius, star dust, and the recovery of scrolls from Herculaneum; “souls are totally bogus”; past lives as a metaphor for reading widely; prevalence of the number 40; hallucination; Jack London on surfing; multilingual reference as an indicator of fame; prison reform; interrogation, torture, and Guantanamo Bay; loosely adapted in 2005 film The Jacket; the 1923 silent film adaptation is sadly lost; comparing and contrasting with The Iron Heel; T.C. Boyle’s The Relive Box in The New YorkerUntil the End of the World, a film about reliving dreams; on cultivating sleep; frame narrative; sexism; historical basis for character names; H.P. Lovecraft, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the creative power of dreams; confabulation; Total Recall; “faith in the lordship of my mind”; the odd importance of tobacco; The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells.

The Star Rover by Jack London

The Star Rover by Jack London

The Star Rover by Jack London

The Star Rover by Jack London

The Star Rover by Jack London

Posted by Jesse Willis

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