The literary roots of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)

July 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Black Destroyer by A.E. van Vogt - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939

“‘It was history, honorable Mr. Smith, our knowledge of history that defeated him,’ said the Japanese archaeologist, reverting to the ancient politeness of his race.”
-A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939)

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) takes inspiration from a number of sources. The oldest direct literary allusion is to Joseph Conrad’s 1904 novel Nostromo. Nostromo, beside being the book’s title, is also the name of the novel’s protagonist and the name of the ship in Alien. Conrad’s novel is set in a fictional South American nation of Costaguana and in it’s seaport town of Sulaco, the name of the ship in Aliens.

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

In the novel Nostromo is an Italian seaman, a trusty capataz de los cargadores, a hyper-competent, but resentful, head longshoreman, and an employee of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (perhaps hence forth to be named either “the company” or Weyland-Yutani). Having settled in the seaside town “Sulaco” he has established himself as an the indispensable man.

The crew of the Nostromo, in Alien, act much more like longshoremen than they do sailors – though I note that they are more commonly referred to as long haul trucker types*. But, given all the union shop talk, the bonuses, and all the loading and unloading equipment all over their ship (all those chains hanging down, remember?) and also Ripley’s later work with power loaders in the sequel, Aliens, the comparison to longshoremen is more apt. Moreover, the ship in Alien is named “Nostromo” and is a commercial mining ship.

Starship Solider by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Solider by Robert A. Heinlein

James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) is mostly inspired by Alien (1979), having approximately the same recipe and relationship that Terminator 2 (1991) has to The Terminator (1984), yet Cameron still acknowledges the inspiration of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, Starship Troopers (firrst published as “Starship Solider“). And, you can totally see it – what with the “combat drops” and the “bug hunts” and the power armor (powered exoskeletons).

Finally, and I posted about this back in 2012, there is a massive inspiration for the alien of Alien coming from a 1939 novelette by A.E. van Vogt, Black Destroyer. That story is told from the perspective of the intelligent alien animal. Here’s the art for it from the original publication:

A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939
A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939
A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939

More on Black Destroyer can be found here:

Newest to me, and perhaps least known [thanks to Chris for the pointer], is the fact that A.E. van Vogt’s second story in Astounding (December 1939), also influenced Alien. The story is entitled, Discord In Scarlet.

Astounding Science Fiction, December 1939

Again the cover story, Discord In Scarlet featured another alien horror attacking a crew of humans, but this one doesn’t so much look like the alien from Aliens as it does act like it – specifically it has the ability to plant its eggs in men for reproductive purposes. I’ve highlighted a gruesome passage here:

Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt

Also evocative, is the interior art for the story, two of the illustrations use some colour (rather rare for Astounding):

Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt
Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt
Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt

Both Black Destroyer and Discord In Scarlet were incorporated, with some revisions, into van Vogt’s fix-up novel The Voyage Of The Space Beagle.

Posted by Jesse Willis

*there is a D-grade movie called Space Truckers

The SFFaudio Podcast #374 – READALONG: Moby Dick by Herman Melville

June 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #374 – Jesse and Bryan Alexander talk about Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Talked about on today’s show:
reading Moby Dick to the air, Moby Dick inspiring heavy metal, terror or dismissal, when Bryan was a student, Madness, Meaninglessness, and Deviant Sexuality, drop this class now, paragraph long themes, being driven insane by writing about Moby Dick, when Bryan was a young professor, if you can teach that you’re one of us, how to proceed, becoming a Moby Dick fanatic, going to sea, revisiting the sea, a book about everything, a most excellent LibriVox narration, re-reads, one of the things really good writers do, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, “this object” -> “book”, a message about how this book is, besmoked and deface, shades and shadows, delineating chaos bewitched, a long and limber black mass, unimaginable sublimity, a blasted heath, a hyperborean winter scene, that one portentous something, a cape-horner in a great hurricane, every sentence is beautiful, a reader’s guide, a stack of copies, this is a comedy book, the etymology, the extracts supplied by a sub-sub librarian, the extracts are freaking random, something unpublished, he did a google search for “whale”, a complete flop, what the hell is it?, Typee, a giant whaling story, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne lit his brain on fire, SYMBOLISM!, Pierre Or the Ambiguities, The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade, “Herman Melville, Insane?”, everything you hear about it gives you no hint, this novel cannot be adapted, Ray Bradbury’s adaptations, Gregory Peck, a lot like Joseph Conrad, Melville is more terrifying than Conrad, hilarious like Edgar Allan Poe, a tragedy, a disaster, the first line of the book is a lie, gut churning fear, the sharks devouring everything, a terrifying book, the science fiction aspect, the fantasy aspect, when Pip is drowned he goes to the bottom of the sea, the infinite of his soul, the unwarped primal world, the miser merman: wisdom, god’s foot on the treadle of the loom, man’s insanity is heaven’s sense, in different as is god, like a Clark Ashton Smith passage, “anyone seen pip?”, coral insects that made the stars and the planets, every chapter veers sideways, visionary and inspired, mastheads, very strange, the last chapter, what does he mean by that?, our hero disappears, the yawning gulf, the great shroud of the sea, why 5,000 years ago, the sounds of the words, interweaving the whole coffin theme, my keeled soul, one tiny metaphor, a missing Shakespeare play, theatrical, musical, through recorded history, a vast inhuman nature swirling all-round, The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym of Nantucket, it’s death, meet it fighting, are we gonna bring each other down in the attempt to fight death, yes, we are, the Pequod is like the Enterprise on the original Star Trek, C.L.R. James, Marxist theory, Mariners And Castaways, an anti-racist book, massively cosmopolitan, a slave ship that revolts, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, slavers as props, the exhumed skeleton of Christopher Columbus, “Follow Your Leader”, a great novel of friendship, the sperm squeezing scene, the gayest and queerest book ever written, burly men squeezing sperm with each other, thumping each other, the universal thump, the barking insane chapter, Loomings, sharing a bed with a harpooner, he’s off selling his head, I’m not going to be the wife, a head in one hand and an axe in the other, hilarious, as if I was Queequeg’s wife, his bridegroom clasp, a hatchet-faced baby, so shockingly obvious, a giant block of time in which homosexuality was taboo, suicide, I quietly take to the ship, astonishing, if this book came out this year, shelved in the gay fiction section, where Ahab the queer old guy, white bone leg, rallying the troops, the three harpooners with their harpoons out, sharp and heavily polished, this is super-gay, like Gothic knight of old, a fresh lance, the three boats, Tashtego is from Gay Head (Martha’s Vineyard), Antarctic in their glittering expressions, his lithe snaky limbs, the son of the prince of the powers of the air, now hes taking to sea, the Science Fiction part, global economy, forward looking, the new global enterprise, Daggoo with his lion-like tread, masculine men, a powerful image, this is the 19th century power industry, you never need to read another book about whales, powering every home, anointing an new king with sperm oil, it’s called sperm-oil because it looks like sperm, touching each other lovingly under the sperm, there’s a library to keep up with Moby Dick, homo-social, Starbuck’s skepticism, going back to the whale, the whale as female or male, a fool’s errand, [recording broken] so much trouble with a book, The Tempest is just too big, what kind of fool was I think I could do a Moby Dick show?, we being repeating ourselves, Thomas Mann, necrophilia, imagine writing a review, contemporary reviews, people were smarter back then, attacking a book from the outside in, Garth Ennis’ Preacher, a big epic story, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, foreigners coming in and telling the American story, Breaking Bad, the noir journey, a lot darker than Moby Dick, Ahab going to his grave, The Oblong Box by Edgar Allan Poe, the American Renaissance, one of the ships at the Spouter Inn is from The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, the 19th century anxiety about being buried alive, a grave with a window, part of the American Gothic heritage, like the Nostromo in Alien, abandoned military fortresses, haunted house, nature Gothic, prairies Gothic, the psycho-geographical features, a castle in the middle of the South Pacific, a secret crew, like Rochester’s secret wife, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, our sacred horrors, the mighty walls rushing asunder, a tarn at my feet, reading quotes, Ahab’s soliloquies, reading quotes, he’s dying, more palmy than the palms, the Pequod is him, The Haunted Palace, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, Khan’s obsession with Kirk, if Kirk was out there for revenge it would have been a very different show, The Balance Of Terror, a giant Berserker in space, The Doomsday Machine, Jesse Cuter is on a mission to kill God, Norman Spinrad, the whale lives on buried together in the sea, the greatest adventure writing of all time, action dialogue, the last soliloquy, he’s not afraid to make this book go all these places, so post-post modern, in uncharted territory, like Satan, Tashtego is the primordial American, claiming the doubloon, the head becomes his coffin, the ship, the hearse, the second hearse!, its wood could only be American, From The Earth To The Moon by Jules Verne, eternal malice, on their bull-like necks, sudden realization, slowly suddenly realizing, the hidden crew, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Parsees, Persians, the foreign and the domestic, The Prophet, did you see those shadows going on to the ship?, a raucous ride from one kind of book to another kind of book, like a Gothic horror novel, with one survivor to tell the tale, burn it down, The Castle Of Otranto, so many things get brought into play, the sharks like are vultures following a battle, tiger yellow, words best omitted here, a little censorship, you live in a blessed evangelical land, anti-racist book, The Gold Bug, H.P. Lovecraft, death of beautiful women, Melville is in love with every colour of man, Saint Elmo’s fire turns the ship into candles, Ahab’s razors, the blue in Queequeg’s head, Tashtego’s shark white teeth which strangely gleamed, he’s powerful, holding the chain, blood against fire!, supernaturally tapped into the whale, he can smell the whale, in partial telepathic connection, forehead to forehead, changing from chapter to chapter, Thomas Pynchon, as Shakespearean as anybody has been, extreme states of being, we repeat ourselves, a bottle episode, Ozymandias, that is the devastation, a land epic, he’s in Lima (Peru), the strangest city, the white veil, a rigid pallor, two things that make Jesse sad, despair for humanity, when “net worth” is the autocomplete, despair despair!, ticket sales, desperate search answers for the pop-quiz, destroyed destroyed!, Bone is impossible to stop reading, running gags, trying to get people to read Moby Dick (and they fall asleep), petrified by his aspect, all your oaths are as binding as mine, the mark for thunderbolts, lightning power, the epithet for Captain Ahab is “old thunder”, this is not a book about the plot, we should never see Ishmael, seeing the world under the arm of Queequeg in his bed, it should never be adapted, cinematic to begin with, the storyteller is the frame, illustrated quotes, Fred Heimbaugh, Ahab is the Captain of the Black Freighter from Watchmen, an Alan Moore style book, the ebook for Jerusalem by Alan Moore, Jesse doesn’t read ebooks, traveling, a completely global book, a little map of the whaling ports of New England, the terrible old man in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Terrible Old man in Ishmael, the doubloons in The Dunwich Horror, did I review the book using the text of the book, no [actually, yes], accidentally on purpose, the same effect can be wrought, my illustration of the painting in the Spouter Inn, all the religion in the book, a member of the First Congregationalist Church, you are a preacher yourself, worshiping Wojo, all works turn to comment on themselves, when movies show up in the movies, Hitchcock movies, Tristram Shandy, the novel is doing this, sounding to bottom, Scarface, the American story, the American dream, The Sopranos, The Hunt, dark water is mystery, Gothic 101, the birds, the birds!, he profoundly saw, the undiscoveredable bottom, an open door marbled tomb, a tomb hunting for you, we never see it from the whale’s point of view, the whale as a force of nature, the honours heaped upon warriors (and those not heaped upon whalers), we fight battles no lesser men could ever fight, man against nature, man against himself, the candles, oh thou omnipotent, oh thou foundling fire, leap up and lick the sky, I worship thee, I glory in my genealogy, he’s killing his father, he despairs at his life at sea, 40 years at sea, best go out in a blaze, repeating the description of the Spouter Inn’s be-smoked oil painting, a church that is also a ship, unaccountable masses of shades and shadows, a nameless yeast, what does the marvelous novel mean?, you’re being harpooned, Macbeth, Bryan Alexander (for example), an exasperated whale, the ship is the bread, the sea is the wine, the white whale as the lamb of god, Orson Welles, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, Eric S. Rabkin’s idea of Fantasy, was it bitten off below the knee or above?, maybe it’s only his own ivory there, nobody has written a prequel, Peter Watts’ The Things, a funny thing about The Thing From Another World, John W. Campbell ripping off H.P. Lovecraft, the prequel sequel remake of The Thing was pretty damn good, watching cartoons, In The Walls Of Eryx, At The Mountains Of Madness, condensed Olaf Stapledon, The Shadow Out Of Time, astronomy, tone and effect, psychological science, The Pit And The Pendulum, Arthur Machen, World War I, the Angels of Mons

The Voyage Of The Pequod

The Oil Painting In The Spouter Inn - illustrated by Jesse

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 

Podcast

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 #303 – READALONG: The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

February 9, 2015 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #303 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket by Edgar Allan Poe

Talked about on today’s show:
1838, Poe’s only completed novel, Paul’s Poe years, The Tell-Tale Heart, a macabre sort of phase, Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, fix-ups, Premature Burial, Ms. Found In A Bottle, The Oblong Box, The Gold Bug, secret codes, Poe is old and public domain and not particularly racist, The Pit And The Pendulum, the Poe theme, the death of a beautiful woman is conspicuous by her absence, the meta-commentary, Tristram Shandy, The Cask Of Amontillado, a dog named Tyger (burning bright?), William Blake, Jules Verne, An Antarctic Mystery, Ms. Found In A Copper Cylinder, Antarctica, “Ms. Found In A…”, “it was begun to have been serialized”, fake stories as true stories, Captain Cook’s Antarctic expeditions, “a labyrinth of lumber”, how to load a ship, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Washington Irving, SF as a generally American phenomenon, a slow creep of fantastic elements, full-blown surrealism, the drinking, on the Grampus, dressing like a ghost, another phantom in white, “Mr. Pym is not available”, a genuine narrative, missing islands, a metaphor for alcoholism, sailing in a storm, half-sunk/drunk, echoes, the plague ship, the Penguin, echoes, all these lies, a note from the Wikipedia entry, fictional analogues for real events, autobiographical drinking, The Lighthouse by Edgar Allan Poe (a fragment), “I expected to inherit some money”, money problems, “he’s pouring his troubles into this manuscript”, this is Poe’s version of Dude, Where’s My Car?, an unreliable narrator, an excellent story, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, albatrosses, thematic similarities, they eat many birds, “an unmentionable thought”, subsequent cannibalism, the same ghost ship as in Rime?, Antarctic spirits, H.P. Lovecraft, the subtitle:

Comprising the Details of Mutiny and Atrocious Butchery on Board the American Brig Grampus, on Her Way to the South Seas, in the Month of June, 1827. With an Account of the Recapture of the Vessel by the Survivers; Their Shipwreck and Subsequent Horrible Sufferings from Famine; Their Deliverance by Means of the British Schooner Jane Guy; the Brief Cruise of this Latter Vessel in the Atlantic Ocean; Her Capture, and the Massacre of Her Crew Among a Group of Islands in the Eighty-Fourth Parallel of Southern Latitude; Together with the Incredible Adventures and Discoveries Still Farther South to Which That Distressing Calamity Gave Rise.

who wrote the subtitle?, they didn’t have the concept of spoilers, the opposite of a spoiler, The Savage Land (Marvel Universe), Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Land That Time Forgot, a hollow earth theory, this is a Science Fiction book in a strange sense, what’s with the multi-layered coloured water?, the strange creatures, the creature’s corpse in the white waters, is Australia a place?, At The Mountains Of Madness, why Poe is not in outer space, basically these Antarctic people are aliens, this is very Stanley G. Weinbaum (A Martian Odyssey), Michael Moorcock’s Seas Of Fate, H. Rider Haggard, duplicitous natives in the black land, what will be in the white lands?, a heavily read book (in the 19th century), The House Of The Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne, when Lovecraft describes it…, haunted by the architecture of homes, Lovecraft’s description of Pym:

“In the Narrative of A. Gordon Pym the voyagers reach first a strange south polar land of murderous savages where nothing is white and where vast rocky ravines have the form of titanic Egyptian letters spelling terrible primal arcana of earth; and thereafter a still more mysterious realm where everything is white, and where shrouded giants and snowy-plumed birds guard a cryptic cataract of mist which empties from immeasurable celestial heights into a torrid milky sea.”

pouring into the hollow Earth?, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, At The Earth’s Core, Kublah Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, leaving the ending open to the reader, how will he get back to Nantucket?, the names A. Gordon Pym and E. Allan Poe, framing devices, The Turn Of The Screw, a framing device gives the reader an extra distance, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, Robert Silverberg’s The Secret Sharer, the southern polar bear, “Tekeli-li, tekeli-li.” the face of an open book, downy feathers, what does it mean?, whiteness, philological scrutiny, “white-phobic”, the audiobook narration, copyright, a total Poe thing to do, Poe loved cryptography, Poe would be writing in Elvish, a font nerd, hanging out with Charles Stross and Alan Moore, can you imagine Poe at a Worldcon?, a drunkard’s story, shoplifting at The Innsmouth Bookshop, Fungi From Yuggoth XV: Antarktos:

Deep in my dream the great bird whispered queerly
Of the black cone amid the polar waste;
Pushing above the ice-sheet lone and drearly,
By storm-crazed aeons battered and defaced.
Hither no living earth-shapes take their courses,
And only pale auroras and faint suns
Glow on that pitted rock, whose primal sources
Are guessed at dimly by the Elder Ones.

If men should glimpse it, they would merely wonder
What tricky mound of Nature’s build they spied;
But the bird told of vaster parts, that under
The mile-deep ice-shroud crouch and brood and bide.
God help the dreamer whose mad visions shew
Those dead eyes set in crystal gulfs below!

the black cone, the primal sources, Lovecraft quoting himself, that shrouded white figure, “Tekeli-li don’t kill the albatross”, Lemuria, Thule, the novel as a journey, how do you return from the surreal?, what happened to Tyger?, they ate him!, Dirk Peters (so manly he has two penises), Tyger’s collar, someone was going to drown the dog, poor Tyger, a horrendously awful horrifying experience, when Paul Theroux visited Jorge Luis Borges he read him The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, Borges thought Pym was Poe’s greatest work, the interest in the meta, strange runes, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, deep into madness (not drunken madness), genetic disease or confronting reality, The Call of Cthulhu, dreams, a fever dream?, forgetting, a change in tenses, the missing two or three final chapters, Xeno’s paradox, a Mercator map, and Greenland, is that all racism?, “a nautical negro”, Toni Morrison, the black cook, don’t go into a tiny box-canyon with natives of any colour, scrupulously honest, earlier bushwhacked voyagers, going piratical?, going whaling?, the mutiny, Mr. Starbuck, why is Pym stowing away in the first place?, the captain that ran them down was drunk, boating skills, Treasure Island, Augustus’ father, the inexplicable weevils, “taking liberally from the spirits”, this narrative is full of holes, a free sea voyage, Pym is a teenager, everybody has a boat on Nantucket, an adventure of a lifetime, Pym is “not available”, Jeremiah N. Reynolds, Poe’s last word was “Reynolds”, a possibly apocryphal story, Mocha Dick, the long conversation of conversation of Science Fiction, Moby Dick is in dialogue with Pym and Mocha Dick, bibliographic archaeology, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, in a dinghy, considering cannibalism, drawing straws, “and dropped like stones”, did their bones dropped likes stones?, the narrator becomes more and more unreliable, dis-masted, a teetotaler who drinks only coffee.

The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket - subtitle

The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe - 1902 illustration by Frederick Simpson Coburn

The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym by Edgar Allan Poe - 1902 illustration by Frederick Simpson Coburn

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #286 -AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Red One by Jack London

October 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Jack London's The Red One

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #286 – The Red One by Jack London; read by Oliver Wyman. This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 3 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Oliver Wyman.

Talked about on today’s show:
Bryan and Ollie, 1918, WWI, Jack London in Hawaii, a super science fiction story, H.G. Wells, existential concerns, the misogyny and racism, “unbeautiful”, London was racist and anti-racist, Lovecraft, cosmic science fiction, a beautiful sad ending, a transcendent ending, the motifs (motives), head and finger injuries, head blown off, his guide loses his head, the final head chopping, the devil devil house, twisting in the smoke, breadfruit, banyan, God’s Grace by Bernard Malamud, the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, the mosquitoes, headhunting, blackbirding is essentially slavery, giant butterflies, the Atlas Moth, it’s not an alien spaceship is it?, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Philip K. Dick, unresolved endings, a potential stage production of Flow My Tears The Policeman Said, a giant alien head, the striker has helmeted figures, ancient astronauts is the next year, 1919, Charles Fort, Erich von Däniken, Jack London’s 10 Sex Tips, Cosmopolitan -> cosmos -> cosmetology, Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke, a tripwire, a Lovecraftian sense of the universe, explorer narratives, Mungo Park, Bassett,

“And beneath that roof was an aerial ooze of vegetation, a monstrous, parasitic dripping of decadent life- forms that rooted in death and lived on death.”

Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, Mexico, London stole from others and his own life, journal writing, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, “the abrupt liberation of sound”, the walls of Jericho…, two score feet in length, an alien ark, the libraries of supermen from other stars?, the Jungian analysis, a giant egg with Bassett as a sperm, Earle Labor, the ending resonates, the red one as a mandala, from a distance it appears lacquered, fever dreams, childhood hallucinations and visions, what’s the logic behind head-hunting, mortification, the other white man’s head, helmeted figures sitting inside the mouths of crocodiles, a labour of thousands of years, the twelve tribes, breadfruit is called “nimbalo” in the Solomon Islands -> “nimbus”, ringmanu -> Manu -> the progenitor of all humanity, the twelve apostles, the red one is a voice, twelve deaf apostles, gospel = good news, cure it well, immortality, London was a super-atheist, Lovecraft was an atheist, the harsh horrifying reality of death, “the serene face of the Medusa. Truth.”, Lovecraft’s poems, Alethia Phrikodes, “Omnia risus et omnia pulvis et omnia nihil”, Thomas Ligotti, True Detective, “I think human consciousness, is a tragic misstep in evolution. … species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction”, Edgar Allan Poe, Songs Of A Dead Dreamer, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, Pseudopod The Bungalow House, being a narrator doesn’t give you time to read, comics maybe, The Manhattan Projects, dealing with the problem of physical, Rainbow’s End, Geoffrey Household, Limbo by Bernard Wolfe, not enough physical volume in the universe, books with maps, books with art, Eadweard Muybridge, Jeff Bezos, ebooks are notorious for not having good art in them, the art of Alex Ross as a PDF, London as a tangible writer, “a mighty cry of some titan of the elder world”, Olaf Stapledon, Starmaker, the separation of the soul and the body, you are your head, the martians in The War Of The Worlds, who is telling this story?, feelings and questions, The Call Of The Wild, he’s a basset hound chasing after a big red ball, London was a dog man, the two dog books, The Sea Wolf is an intense book, To Build Fire, “the cold of space”, a hypnagogic state, the physical and the philosophical, The Iron Heel, so many writers never leave the room where they write the book, the premise for The Red One was suggested by George Sterling, A Wine Of Wizardry, what if aliens sent a message to the earth and it was not understood, if it had been shot, the gun that doesn’t go off, King Kong and Skull Island, a cynical take on religion, the Cosmopolitan illustrations, definitely an artifice, the core of a star that fell to Earth, aliens came out and they killed them, ships or jet fighters, organic ships, the spore of the organic ships, Prometheus, worth looking at and listening to, the most expensive work of fan fiction ever made, the autodoc scene, this is the thing that didn’t need to be made, Alien, Ron Cobb and Geiger, 1966, the year of Star Trek and Batman, Alan Dean Foster, Alien: The Illustrated Story by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, recent alien invasion fiction, Footfall, Protector by Larry Niven, infantilized aliens, the fruit of the tree of life, Forge Of God by Greg Bear, “I have bad news”, Orson Scott Card, reared by robots, astrogation, Anvil Of Stars by Greg Bear, Sundiver by David Brin, Forbidden Planet, Glen Cook‘s Starfisher series, Captain Harlock, Anathem by Neal Stephenson, William Dufris, the glossary, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, mushrooms, characters in therapy, one of the greatest works of Science Fiction period, the serialization of Gateway in Galaxy, Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, 1920, The Temple, black muck, they’ve got cults going.

The Red One illustrated by Jim Nelson
The Red One by Jack London COSMO
The Red One by Jack London COSMO
The Red One by Jack London COSMO
The Red One by Jack London COSMO

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #128

October 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #128 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Luke Burrage talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Germline by T.C. McCarthy, Russia vs. United States, Kazakhstan, Blackstone Audio, Hannah, Finland, unapologetic fairy tale imagery, Brothers Grimm, Tama is a sucker for girls who kick ass, Kick-Ass, Bourne Identity, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Full Cast Audio, Tunnel In The Sky by Robert A. Heinlein, interplanetary survival course, “Rod Walker, as Heinlein Intended“, Ozzy in Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton, Between Planets, Space Cadet, Perseus by Geraldine, Hercules, Odyssey, Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce, young adult books, The City And The Stars, abstracting the voices of the characters, Jesse enthuses about Full Cast Audio’s format, Blackstone Audio, Downward To Earth by Robert Silveberg (it draws from Heart Of Darkness, The Secret Sharer by Robert Silverberg, The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad, “the heart of lightness”, The Hidden by Jessica Verday, The Hidden (movie) with Kyle MacLachlan, The Hollow, The Haunted, supernatural/romance/YA, “maybe Jenny can take up the lance”, Macmillan Audio, How Firm A Foundation by David Weber, On Basilisk Station, “Steve Gibson loves it”, George R.R. Martin, the Writing Excuses podcast, I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells, “it’s very tempting to kill everyone”, Star Wars: Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn (20th Anniversary Edition), Mark Thompson, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye (Luke and Leia get married), the Han Solo novels, Michael A. Stackpole, Star Trek novelizations vs. Star Wars novelizations, Wookipedia, perhaps Lucas was lucky and not talented, Leigh Brackett, Lawrence Kasdan, Stories Of The Golden Age: The Tramp and Shadows From Boothill, Jenny is late, War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, Zoo City, South Africa, China Miéville audiobooks flood audible, Iain M. Banks, Audible Frontiers vs. Audible Ltd., Ready Player One sounds like nostalgia not SF, everybody who wears spandex and legwarmers likes Ready Player One, the Gweek podcast, virtual world, Daemon by Daniel Suarez, Blackstone Audio, The Ringworld Engineers, To Sail Beyond The Sunset by Robert A. Heinlein, Origin Of The Species by Charles Darwin, Recorded Books, Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem, Lawrence Block audiobooks, Hard Case Crime, Getting Off by Jill Emerson (Lawrence Block), AudioGo, Such Men Are Dangerous by Lawrence Block, The Specialists, Coward’s Kiss, You Could Call It Murder, Small Town, Paul Kavanagh, Michael Crichton, Eaters Of The Dead, Smoke by Donald E. Westlake, The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake, Psycho by Robert Bloch, Stand On Zanzibar by John Brunner, Luke’s novel Minding Tomorrow, does Stand On Zanzibar have a cylindrical structure?, long stuff tends to be crappy, Luke is on Audible’s platinum plan, Spin by Robert Charles Wilson, Courtney Brown’s Science Fiction And Politics podcast, Spellwright by Blake Charlton, spell errors?, “as you well know…”, Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer, The Swarm by Frank Schatzing, Beyond This Horizon by Robert A. Heinlein, tie-in novels, Dan Abnett’s Warmhammer 40,000: Horus Heresy series, Black Library, “a fist the size of a baked ham”, Jesse’s meta review of Luke’s meta review of Sword Of The Lichtor by Gene Wolfe, Halting State by Charles Stross, Luke’s pick of the week: Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian, Jesus’ final words on the cross, Jesse’s pick of the week: Invincible Ultimate Edition Volume 1 written by Robert Kirkman, Ed Brubaker, Gregg Rucka, Scott’s pick of the week: Declare by Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides, is Declare idea fiction?, Kim Philby, Tamahome’s pick of the week: The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Invincible Ultimate Collection Volume 1

Posted by Jesse Willis

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