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

September 28, 2015 by · 1 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 #327 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

July 27, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #327 – The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse Willis, Seth Wilson, Jim Moon, and Juan Luis Pérez.

Talked about in this episode:
Title has a hyphen; published in Weird Tales in June 1926, but written for a St. Patrick’s Day event; most critics dismiss the story; most characters are nameless; no Cthulhu mythos; Greek ties to Lovecraft’s The Tree; H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast; thematic similarities to The Rats in the Walls and Hypnos; conflict between the bog goddess and her servants; frogs; moonbeams; Greek Pan pipes, not Celtic pipes; on the story’s un-Irishness; competing models of colonization; Protestant work ethic; Pied Piper of Hamelin; surviving narrator motif similar to Ishmael in Moby Dick; departure from the traditional Lovecraftian narrator; the poetry of Lovecraft’s prose, alliteration, etc.; Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature; spoiler in Weird Tales art; the joys of reading aloud; Lovecraft’s Dunsanian story The Festival; architecture; Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and the gothic symbolism of bogs, etc.; Lovecraft’s descriptionn of cities in The Mountains of Madness and landscapes in The Dunwich HorrorThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and similar impressionism in film; The Quest of Iranon; unreliable narrators à la Edgar Allan Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher; laughing; bog draining and the curse of the Tiddy Mun; the city of Bath and the intersection of Roman and Celtic cultures; John Buchan’s The Grove of Ashtaroth; this is actually a happy Lovecraft story!; Robin Hood and the defense of the land; humans destroy megafauna; Lovecraft’s The Hound; American horror trope of the Indian burial ground; the lack of Celtic mythology; will-o’-the-wisps; how does one drain a bog? Ask the Dutch; disappointment in scientific explanation for stories; the ruins and the Gothic tradition.

The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #318 – READALONG: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

May 25, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #318 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander, and Fred Himebaugh talk about The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Talked about on today’s show:
1915, Blackwood’s Magazine, a propaganda novel, the propaganda ministry, pro-empire, Buchan’s later job, Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, the Orson Welles adaptation, Mercury Theater, Welles’ propaganda pieces, Nazis invading Canada (Nazi Eyes On Canada), ultima thule, if Operation Sea Lion had worked…, Nazis in Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, Isle de Crozet, the coolest island ever, Jules Verne, why does our hero go to Scotland?, veldcraft, Greenmantle, Richard Hannay, the comic, Brian thought it was a riot, a brisk read, elegant prose, the BBC Radio documentary on John Buchan, judging everything, “subjective”, coincidences, sooo convienient, the human civilization, The Riddle Of The Sands by Erskine Childers, another sneaky German plot, the Patrick O’Brian books, the invasion novel genre, mining British harbours, u-boats, a shocking incident, Scapa Flow, Winston Churchill, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household is the WWII version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Constantine Karolides, war was inevitable, popular in the trenches?, Hannay eats well on the run, cliffhangers, Adrian Praetzelis, a semi-bald archaeologist, Jesse’s dream theory, tired of London …. not enough exercise … lo and behold a murder plot… sleep and dream and wake, a Freudian sense of everything being really nearby, the climax became surreal, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, how to deal with those in between, The Prisoner Of Zenda, “honestly this is impossible”, boys own adventure, James Bond, Dracula, how do these things work in detail, I’m pretty good with disguise, a sign of good writing, villain to do lists, don’t lock the hero in a room filled with explosives, act like you belong there, the roadman scenes, the milkman was a precedent, disguise as psychology, ridiculous of imposture, the speaker at the liberal candidates meetings scene, Australia or free-trade, Asquith, Liberals, free-trade within the empire, as satisfying as a mortician, the eloquence of an emigration agent, a ripping speech Twizden, Hammond, something that always changes is the meaning of the title, the Black Stone (Schwartz Stein), when you’re Lord Tweedsmuir…, Jonathan Harker, ordinance survey maps, the corridors of power, having the power of the British Empire at your back, the reward, doubt about British command, yesterday 100 years ago, the Gallipoli campaign, unilateral disarmament, the secret pact, the French are hyper-competent, playing along, just go over the top, your reward is to go to the Western Front, Greenmantle is the direct sequel, the supremely confident at veldcraft, the Germans had found a Muslim prophet, Islam as a powder-keg, the Mesopotamian campaign, a very personal battle while armies clash, a secret history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Duelists by Joseph Conrad, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, The Red Panda Adventures by Gregg Taylor, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Captain Canuck, Declare by Tim Powers, Kim Philby, Brian’s WWI kick, the Eastern front (Turkey vs. Russia), Duel For Kilimanjaro: Africa 1914-1918, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the opening antisemitism (an international banking conspiracy) is just a smokescreen, crazy conspiracy theories, you only believe the unbelievable tale, a wink to the audience, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The United States Of Paranoia by Jesse Walker, the “stab in the back theory”, conspiracies, the Black Hand, seeing the novel in its context, period magazines, stepping into a time machine, having perspective, don’t have secret treaties with France, a landward in Asia, The DaVinci Code, The Grove of Ashtaroth, the Canaanite goddess, Rhodesia, clearing of the land, a weird fiction version of colonialism, Buchan wrote 101 books, Witch Wood (BBC Radio drama), big in to Buchan, Huntingtower, Mr Standfast, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot, Lovecraft’s parody “Wastepaper”, a pre-modern guy, unthinking ideas, a moral victory over the enemy, panache or élan, Memory Hold-the-Door by John Buchan, Canada’s current Governor General (David Johnston), Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, “chloroform in print”, Mark Twain, Fred’s novel is in beta (The Devil’s Dictum), wait fifty years and read the Wikipedia entry, our assessment of things, Shakespeare was too sad or too gory, why teach Julius Caesar? because it has no sex, the Hugos blew up, Ancillary Justice, changing the markets, Bowdlerizing the past, The Tempest, classic science fiction info dump, Miranda is falling asleep, Mr Jim Moon’s take on The Thirty-Nine Steps, the mystery run-around, the Jason Bourne films, stalking on-the-run travelogue format, Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, a British form of pulp, adaptations, North By Northwest, the 2008 TV adaptation the u-boat in a loch, Alfred Hitchock, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Ring, the lack of women, adding women, shoveling women into adaptations, it’s all for Fred’s mom, there’s a gun in the pram, Hannay has an afro in the 1978 adaptation, the ministry of espionage, Mr Memory, the comics adaptation, a bridge to far, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, with access to itching powder…, expansive imagination, in the Twilight books the heroine is a complete cipher, WWI books, WWII books, Armed Forces Editions, the post war interest in H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance in the South Pacific.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan - First Edition
John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #317 – AUDIOBOOK: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

May 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #317 – The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, read by Adrian Praetzellis.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (4 hours 2 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.

The Thirty-Nine Steps was first published in 1915.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan - All-Story Weekly,  June 5th, 1915

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan - illustrations by Edward Ardizzone

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #306 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

March 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 


Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #306 – The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe; read by Mike Vendetti. This is an unabridged reading of the story (49 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, Bryan Alexander, and Mike Vendetti

Talked about on today’s show:,, a Reader’s Digest version, a ponderous vocabulary, prolixity, Poe the hoaxer, the part of him that invented the mystery short story, a corpse flower, this is what Lovecraft does, “he’s done his research!”, words made by mad men, mapping the elephant’s outline, the movies, the comics, the Wikipedia entry, The Haunted Palace by H.P. Lovecraft, the Roger Corman movie, the poem is the outline for the story, the history of the house of usher, dead trees with white trunks, New Jersey, the lutes well tuned law, porphyrogene – “born to the purple”, synecdoche, a photo negative, upside down and inverted, golden banners, the fungi, The Tell Tale Heart, The Bells, a republic society in love with aristocracy and royalty, The Masque Of The Red Death is a dystopia, Hop Frog, “its beautiful … but horrible things happen”, John Buchan, broken off pieces of themselves, Thomas A. Shippey, the Vatican astronomer, no titles allowed anymore, Queen Elizabeth II, Br. Guy Consolmagno, absentee royalty, a super-mix, “evil things in robes of sorrow”, entombed, equating architecture and person, you can’t separate Roderick from his sister, “I heard it man”, why did he dare not speak?, buried alive, twins and twinning, the 1989 adaptation of The Fall Of The House Of Usher, why they can’t just tell the story in adaptations, this is hospice care, was Roderick tormented by his twin sister?, I see a skull, the house is a skull, the trees are ribs or arm bones, a ghost, dying of old age, reason, rationality, Guy de Maupassant’s Who Knows, the furniture represents the faculties, the end of The Life Of Pi, the miasma, an unhealthy atmosphere, in awe of Poe, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor, the Usher stump, the stump of the tree of Jesse, a tottering mind, everything’s lined with copper, a Frankenstein motif, a long family line of incest, “it had put forth no enduring branch”, “so lain”, viewing it as a story about incest, set in the location of Hammer Horror, Middle Lovecraft, seeing Lovecraft through Poe, a cyclopean vocabulary, H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Weird Tales edited by Douglas A. Anderson, crazy complicated sentences, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, CraftLit, the prologue to The Scarlet Letter, reading Poe aloud, Supernatural Horror In Literature, oral cadence, the very summits of artistry, fictional miniaturists, Ligeia, another dead woman story, so Lovecraft, he loves his architecture, “sharing a single soul”, the crack, “the eye of a scrutinizing observer”, laughing out loud, the unnamed narrator is of the same class as Roderick, context for the story, science stories, buried alive stories, The Pit And The Pendulum, sense experience, again New Jersey, Italy, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, weird fiction out to wazoo, why do they do that?, demented messed up stories, Young Goodman Brown, Rappaccini’s Daughter, supernatural elements, sense experience, an utter depression of soul, the after dream of the reveler upon opium, the dropping of the veil, the veil of dreams, the after-dream is after the dream?, the veil is beautiful, a shout-out to Thomas de Quincey, crawling fungi, red-litten windows, “laugh but smile no more”, coffin worms, creeping into the crypt to often, The Conqueror Worm, a foreshadowing, reasons for laughter vs. reasons for smiling, the hideous throng, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, premature burial, Buried (2010), The Death of Olivier Bécaille by Emile Zola, Weird Tales, Poe is a hilarious writer, punning and japing, Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning, Dead Families 101, How To Repair Your Doomed House, The Man Who Collected Poe by Robert Bloch, wacky moments, The Cask Of Amontillado, deGrave wine, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, Jervas Dudley as one of the Usher descendants, a lot more Poey, there are not a lot of sisters in Lovecraft, The Moon Pool by A. Merritt, The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, comparing Poe to Lovecraft, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, The Dreams In The Witch House, the novella (short story) vs. the novel, it starts off as a horror tale, What The Moon Brings, Ireland, a little bit ushery,

The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall Of The House Of Usher - illustration by Russell Hoban (1963)
Pocket Classics - The Fall Of The House Of Usher
House Of Usher (1960)
The Fall Of The House Of Usher illustrated by S. de Ivanowski

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

November 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“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 was written by the fifteenth Governor General of Canada, John Buchan. Despite that high position, he was the viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch for five years in the 1930s, Buchan is probably better known today as the author of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan’s novelette has been described as a “weird story” (by the makers of Escape) or as “high fantasy” (in The Fantastic Imagination) by editors Robert H. Boyer and Kenneth J. Zahorski, a 1977 anthology).

I’m not sure exactly what it is, except very interesting and certainly within the vague borders of the Fantasy genre. The Grove Of Ashtaroth reminds me of a short story by Philip K. Dick, Of Withered Apples.

You can judge for yourself what you think it is most like.

There’s a hurried, but unabridged, reading available |MP3|. It’s read by Libby Hill for the TV On The Internet podcast (beginning shortly after the twenty minute mark).

I myself have made a |PDF| from the original publication in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, June 1910.

But your best bet, in audio, for the moment at least, is to listen to the 1948 Escape radio dramatization!

EscapeEscape – The Grove Of Ashtaroth
Adapted from the novelette by John Buchan; Adapted by Les Crutchfield; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: February 29, 1948

Paul Frees as John Buchan
William Conrad as Lawson

And if you were wondering, the only major difference between the original story and the dramatization is that the unnamed narrator is named (after Buchan himself) in the dramatization.

[Thanks also to]

Posted by Jesse Willis

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