The SFFaudio Podcast #448 – READALONG: The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

November 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #448 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Talked about on today’s show:
1954, a reconstruction of a Norse Saga with Dungeons & Dragons elements, Scott loved it, Jesse found it terrible, and Paul has read it thrice, what would have happened…, Eric Bright Eyes by H. Rider Haggard, idiots and assholes and magic, low magic, striving toward wisdom, the nuclear weapons of magic, Odin, sacrificial Paul, the rules, in the realm of mythology, Beowulf, The Lord Of The Rings, Michael Moorcock’s Elric Of Melnibone, archetypes and gods, greater and deeper, mythic vs. inspired by myth, the language was amazing, Jesse’s not saying much, directly inspired by Beowulf, The Völsunga Saga, an insight into 1000 year old society, The Odyssey, the characters tended to not be very wise, semi-historical, Ragnar Lodbrook, simile nice, toning down the massive metaphors, more about power than it is about ideas, the whole magic sword thing, magic items, H.P. Lovecraft, huge and menacing and powerful and on the edge of our ability to perceive, Skafloc, drawing runes, there’s a demon in here, cursed staves, Dreams In The Witch House, his counterpart (his changeling), screwed at birth, cursed in a Greek or Norse way, more action, not an idea book, all about the ideas, The Forever War, the ideas are not front in center, you can’t touch iron, that’s the rule!, The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven, werewolves, becoming an outlaw, becoming savage, why is he a werewolf, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, not unlike the world was viewed, the revised edition, Bronson Pinchot’s narration, the 1971 revision (made it worse), Gollanz’s reversion, ‘I welded the Broken Sword back together’, a ‘Book For The Blind’ narration, luke warm, The High Crusade, Three Hearts And Three Lions, a WWII officer dropped into the land of fairy, the plot of the Wonder Woman movie, for copyright reasons?, fiddling, the language in this book, poetry, evocative descriptions, half converted Christians, a ghost tells them, that’s the rules, her brother her lover, that’s the tragedy, echoes, the ending was rushed, Valgard, killed by the device, E.F. Bleiler, noir, doomed from the beginning, the characters doom themselves vs. their doomed because of their destiny, why is this happening?, he calls to the raven, hey there’s a battle down the road, dude!? why did you do that?, James M. Cain, for no good reason, stirring the same area of Scott’s brain, pale recreation of Tolkien, thinking about the meta-aspect, that GRAVITAS, WWII, truth, the eternal verities, the truth of story, poetic truth, philosophers, a truth and a resonance, Dunkirk, its hard to criticize anything that is tongue-in-cheek, the bad geography of Middle Earth (Tor.com), philology, Frank Herbert, geology and ecology, monsters doing monstrous things to each other, what makes them powerful, Marissa, imagine you’re copy-editing someone’s work, fixing a falsity, the Goodreads reviews, the reviews of Beowulf, what’s the Bible’s Goodreads reviews, Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg, the epic vs. the novel, ringing false, is this a high fantasy book?, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, science vs. magic, lets shoot the fireballs at each other, Robert E. Howard, the magic sword mentality, Excalibur and King Arthur, his human thews (though very jaguar-like), the strength of 10-hill giants, a really problematic definition, epic vs. sword and sorcery, about scale and stakes, who is casting the fireballs, “an Atlantean Sword”, the magic is in his manliness, about willpower, born to be screwed, the characters don’t seem to know themselves, they are almost pre-conscious, The Odyssey, I’ve made mistakes – I’m going to make more – and here I go, sticking with the tradition he is writing in, that northern tradition, the Neil Gaiman movie script adaptation of Beowulf, The Saga of Eric Brighteyes, set in Iceland, Henry Treece’s Viking Trilogy, on the PDF Page, Viking Dawn, The Road To Miklagard, Viking Sunset, Beothuk, throw down some quotes, a sequel hook, Ragnarok, the unfinished comic book adaptation from the 1960s, good stuff, a book full of sadness, “whence came you hither, fawn?”, the sacred grove, the dryad screams, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, arbitrary rules, the White Christ, real gods vs. fake gods, who and how much power a particular name has, see American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Elf-Trap by Francis Stevens, Carcassonne, Kentucky, why are some characters not allowed to touch iron?, that’s the rules, the afterword, a science fiction-y take, when he isn’t being playful, Three Hearts And Three Lions, marrying science fiction with fantasy, how they can intertwine and make sense of each other, when the Devil shows up, Dante (Alighieri), “the White Christ, time and love”, I knew him of old in my incarnation of Loki, things as other things, fairies from China and India, a very old idea, that’s some deep stuff right there, elf girlfriends vs. human girlfriends, mocking eyes, “oh, you’re one of thooose guys”, “like calls to like”, cold mystery, adopted by elves, mythic, Dragon Magazine, some of the cartoons, straight out of Elric (and this), intelligent swords, willful swords, when you’re sword has a higher intelligence that you do, a tragedy, where’s my place in this world, where’s my place in a Norse saga?, sword dances, a novel for Dungeons & Dragons players, “Brutal, romantic and tragic. no cute hobbits.”

Ballantine Books - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson (1961) fanzine illustration

comic book adaptation of The Broken Sword

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson - Italian

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #445 – READALONG: Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

October 30, 2017 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #445 – Jesse, Paul, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander talk about Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

Talked about on today’s show:
1918, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, 1970, Friend Island, interview with a sea-woman, “peace ships”, women are grizzled teetotallers, The Elf-Trap, Carcassone, Kentucky, Carolina, so obscure, an artists colony, she’s kind of like a female Lovecraft, hidden beyond normal perceptions, Gertrude Mable Barrows Bennett, A. Merritt, pure raving pulp, impressive, giant narrative yank, Neal Stephenson, a little Tim Powers-y, lost civilization, H. Rider Haggard, come back to haunt him, the lost city, strangled to death by a python, Boots = Colin, character names, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, a Doctor Moreau in the suburbs, very melodramatic, a giant killer ape called “Genghis Khan”, a sub-sub genre of killer gorillas, the whole Aztec mythology, a sub-boss, a strangely international novel, the Irish nature of the heroes, Mexico present and past, a whole raft of gods, Egyptian and Japanese gods, undisciplined, scene by scene, two dudes wandering through the desert, The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, David Stifel, a created creature, a man without a soul, pirates, machine gunning scenes, mixing it up, completely spurious quote from H.P. Lovecraft, the elder gods called out, “wonderful and tragic allegory… amazing, thrilling”, The Curse Of Yig, strange monsters, mad science and ancient sorcereies, a bizarre fungal-oid process, The Shunned House, always bringing it back to the domestic, the female characters are at least as powerful as the male, a house attacked, a domestic dispute, the manifestation of Quetzalcoatl, the Goodreads summary:

Two adventurers discover a lost city in the Mexican jungle. One is taken over by an evil god while the other falls in love with a woman from Tlapallan. Back in the states, the possessed man begins to use magic to mutate civilians. The other walks away, but the pair must duel in the end.

dry and desiccated hills, romance, Julie Davis:

“This is a very enjoyable combination of lost world, Lovecraftian monsters, H.G. Wells, and (of course!) a romance. I especially liked the fact that the people who believe the supernatural reality the fastest are Irish. They are used to their Celtic gods and tales, natch!”

the Rabid Puppies, a light quick and very praising review, undisciplined, what does this mean?, it’s like Eden, there’s a snake, foreshadowing, not well planned out, because it was serialized…, how much did Stevens know, wading around in Aztec mythology, Deities & Demigods, Doctor Who: The Aztecs, sharing a cup of chocolate, the look on Hartnell’s face, Aliette de Bodard, the mindset of a priest of an Aztec god, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, Q (1982), Amy H. Sturgis, cave-men days, the reversal of The Time Machine, The Daleks, a beautiful allegory, a bottle episode, Marco Polo, dropped into an alien culture, a description from Barbara of what the Aztec culture was like, Temple Of Evil, a garden for the retirees, retirement age of 52, a plurality of viewpoints, save them from Cortez, profoundly affected, Quetzalcoatl has 400 hit points and infinite movement, the Irish aspect, as readers of Lovecraft know…, immigration restriction, Irish heroes, extra big, extra strong, extra smart, the Irish cop, tough and sarcastic, Robert E. Howard, Dorothy Macardle’s The Uninvited, the Celtic connection to all things bogey, bugaboos, our “Nordic character”, you can’t shoot that, Sven Bjornsen and his wife Astrid, the Norse as the ideal, the Nazis, Lovecraft’s respect for the Scandinavians, the strange pacings, a kaleidoscope, the plot was getting away from her, the classic cliffhanger, Tlalpan, Cortez as the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl, Montezuma’s failure to act, Cortez as a canny operator, Francisco Pizarro, the British and French and Portuguese in India, set between two small towns that don’t exist, Steven’s husband, the domestic spheres, household events, going through doorways, a lot of doorway stuff, liminal, wrong-footing, a civil war, the Cortez moment, almost a retelling, booted out, a sense of something else, this isn’t a triumphant colonial novel, The Man Who Would Be King, the white hounds, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the place of black and red, the skin colour of the household, the “greaser”, The Electric Executioner by Adolphe de Castro and H.P. Lovecraft (is TERRIBLE!), are the hounds the disease?, the Wild Hunt, elves, lost world, strange city, Jack Vance, the black stone of evil incarnate, Robert E. Howard-y vs. Edgar Rice Burroughs-y, adventure pulp, domestic supernatural, Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, Chapter 6: The Black Eidolon, unevenly constructed paragraphs, kind of weird, always going back to the bungalow and the veranda, being a wife means being in a home, Philip K. Dick’s characters hang out in southern California, there’s something meta about everything she does, too diverse?, a boldy feminist piece, Fahrenheit 451 has gravitas because it’s dystopic, The Hitchhikker’s Guide’s To The Galaxy, Harry Harrison, John Scalzi, comedic science fiction novels, falling absolutely flat, playing with our expectations, closing towards the end, leaving Talapalan, back to domestic concerns, the power of Dracula, Undine, ancient Mexican deities and monsters, 1918, invasion, Cecil Rhodes, Rhodesia, Great Work Of Time by John Crowley, a steam-punk utopia, a gorgeous writer, a haunting writer, it turns on Rhodes, what’s up with Anne Of Green Gables?, parallels, Chapter 24, a reversal of the first scene, the kitchen sink, a weird balance between the Irish Celtic and the Aztec and the Mexican, Neil Gaiman-y, H.P. Lovecraft would have taken her to task over her structuring, disconcerting and unfamiliar, Doctor Reed’s compound, fungous creatures shaped by thoughts, albino marsh, a red flap, a gold chair, fortress of fear, one of the problems, Thor has a hammer, a twin, the complexity, the collapse of Aztec civilization, the Norns vs. the Fates, Cold War 2.0, Greek and Roman mythology, Latina and Greek, Pallas Athena, different periods, semi-appropriating, Theseus, different emphases, Greco-Roman culture, feudalism, The Marriage Of Cadmus And Harmony by Roberto Calasso, genre history, bursting with intelligence and ideas.

Virgil Finlay illustration of Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

PAPERBACK LIBRARY - Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #439 – READALONG: The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

September 18, 2017 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #439 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer discuss the novella entitled The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Talked about on today’s show:
Serberous?, the novella (not the whole book), maybe an accident maybe on purpose, very-Wolfeian, Orbit 10 edited by Damon Knight, fixup vs. novel?, V.R.T., to fully understand…, you need them all together, error or on purpose, many moons ago, novella is the perfect length for any Science Fiction work, read in publication order, old home week, Ender’s Shadow, Ender’s Game, cheating, the Alzabo Soup podcast, The Book Of The New Sun, condensed and distilled, Jorge Luis Borges <- I like what that guy's doing, I'm going to do me some of that -> George R.R. Martin, reader doing the heavy lifting, A Song Of Ice And Fire, almost a fantasy novel, a cloning story, Jack Vance, far future where science has become magic, the Dying Earth subgenre, no magic going on?, the sentences are full of magic, what does the title mean, is the reader the fifth head?, The Black Gate blog post, this story is a combination lock that allows many different combinations, info-dumping, somebody is a clone or a mirror or a part of his imagination, an unreliable narrator, a really good sign, this is Gene Wolfe’s thing, perfect memory, no memory, a consistent memory, how accurate are the details?, how many characters are there?, number five, is one of the characters is “Gene Wolfe”?, the father, the brother (David), the aunt, the lady in pink, the other clone in the warehouse, the four-armed dude is a character, the robot (Mr Millions), Marsh, the anthropologist, the brothel, how its revealed, he has been in prison, the only complete arc, we must infer the rest of them, the death of the father, Christopher Nolan should direct it, it is a complete work or it will be, clones of the same person, hinkey, hokey, or odd, all the books in the private library were written by his father, going to the Ws, very meta, are you a Nigerian prince? Jesse will believe you (for a minute), he is really old, which body did all the typing and research, daily dissertations, studying particular subjects (to be filled in in the labyrinth), The Library Of Babel, the only thing we know about readers is that they like books, writers are readers too, the ultimate fantasy is the place where all the stories are found, cloning to write, cloning to read, what’s up with the late night interrogations, is he psychoanalyzing?, or studying?, voight-kampff tests, what makes something or someone real?, Infinivox, Robert Reed’s Guest Of Honor, there was no quintessential cloning novel, why she is guest of honour, everybody is immortal, he could be downloading, being able to read three books at the same time, David isn’t one of the clones is he?, he escapes, theory and conjecture, nothing more than personality test?, gaining insight into himself, he’s clearly cloned a lot, “failures”, a slave who looks like him, four arms vs. five heads, societal cloning, impressions, “questionable things”, a brothel, a Frankenstian lab, The Island Of Dr Moreau, Littlefinger and Varos from Game Of Thrones, all sorts of play, what the kid’s doing with the frogs, experimenting with all the different ways of living and making life, mirrors and labyrinths, why he lives in a brothel, financial motivations, slave dealing, endless cycle, the Greek Tragedy elements, unfortunately that’s how the prophecy goes, genes are destiny, escaping the trap and escaping the cycle, A Song Of Ice And Fire, castrated folks, incest, pretty interesting, Nightflyers, Sandkings, that hardness, slavery and murder, colonization, genocide, colonialism, what information can we glean, the plastic replicas of the aboriginal stone tools, pre-stone tool culture, is Veill’s hypothesis correct?, does it matter?, good questions, John Marsh or a version of John Marsh, sending messages in the prison…to who?, the third novella, only identified as numbers, more to unlock, 666 to jump up on the stage, Hell, Hell is a stage, the theatre, the woman guard, what are the different theories on the title?, Maitre, the five clones, the maidenhead (virginity), bars and locked doors, suddenly he’s a mad scientist, the slave market visits, the great grandfather, a ROM?, reliability of information, why who is an abbo is important, robot protector, robot tutor, seemingly no emotions, very Christopher Nolan, if Gene Wolfe is the name of 5, one is a mirror of the other, one is a mirror of Earth and one is a mirror of Hell, one way of writing a story summary, what is the metaphor of the stage?, why is the stage stuff in there?, there’s stuff they want you to see, there’s a bunch going on back stage, a facade, the name of the house, The House Of The Dog, base and primal, a sexual position, what the significance of the stone tools (that are actually plastic), John V. Marsh, the significance is overblown because it is the only thing leftover, the kid then confabulates the culture, is David smarter or wiser?, when our father interviews you what does he call you?, escaping the traps, reading Odysseus, the cyclops, don’t give your name, the intertextual references, H.P. Lovecraft, Vernor Vinge, feeling like fantasy, part of the play, nurture vs. nature, it’s all fate, doomed, a metal prison, we seek self knowledge, why we seek, the little ape, we wish to discover why we fail, another reflection, the mirror world you can’t go to, to step through the looking glass, a myth or a fairy tale, trying to connect with the world of myth and legend, quest, maitre means head, like a head of a hotel, so cool, the theories of what is going to happen in Game Of Thrones, Martin’s plans, “interesting”, what bones were put into the soup, how the meal is going to digest, a very complex set of flavours, the anise, the bacon, mixed beans, a very hearty hearty meal, How To Read Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them.Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

the dogs always stand in, how the red woman and her prophecies play out, king’s blood, a victim of her own witchery, a deep analysis of the opening credits of the Game Of Thrones TV series, it’s not really a map, it’s an inverse orrery, mechanistic movement, behind the scenes, a Dyson’s sphere, when Winterfell falls, a nice metaphor for the creation of a secondary world, Lord Dunsany’s The Wonderful Window, Golden Dragon City, ways of reading, different methods and techniques with which to approach, an interview with Gene Wolfe, the Korean War, once you think you’re smart that’s when they get you, getting killed shows that you’re not smart, I’m a much more literary man, it’s about the love of writing, how ethereal or gossamer Borges stuff is, how it connects to us, it can live without us reading, a story being spun, its the yarn itself, it needs us more than Borges’ stuff does, what would make a failed Gene Story would look like, that’s his brand, Stanisław Lem’s One Human Minute, a cute thought, a professor of 1920s and 1830, a more broad education, the Wikipedia entry for 1908, when you read the Wikipedia entry for 2017 in 100 years…, Durham Stevens, super-deep, The Island Of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories, he knew exactly what he was doing, a confluence of events, a critical hit, stumbled upon, its not an accident, Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury, Proust, questions of identity, Sandman, he has always been a really good guy to following the reading of, Douglas Adams, look at this, his essays about Edgar Allan Poe, an even better non-fiction writer than a fiction writer, a book of essays, a mini essay about cities in SimCity 2000, a little Easter Egg, “ruminate”, A View From The Cheap Seats, Philip Reeve, The Hungry Cities Chronicles, The Wind From A Burning Woman (collection) by Greg Bear, this is Lankhmar, Dungeons & Dragons, a city adventure, behind every door is another potential story, a tiny little slice, fully expanded, Fritz Leiber’s not as good as I want him to be, next level stuff, Gene Wolfe never won a Hugo, there’s no justice, you know nothing, Nebulas, who is our best writer?, no official audiobook version, Audible.com, the best of Gene Wolfe on audio is a good idea, a hard no, off the Wolfe subject.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #427 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Hansel And Gretel by Bros. Grimm

June 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #427 – Hansel And Gretel by Bros. Grimm; read by Julie Davis. This is an unabridged reading of the folk tale (16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
a folktale, a fairy tale, a lot of magic, a lot of animals, a lot of birds, strange phrases, a cat, the bird episode, Grimm’s Fairy Tales translated by Lucy Crane with illustrations by her brother Walter Crane, the gingerbread house, candy canes, the family’s house, too nice for a starving family, how can you not love this story?, spawned a whole industry, Jesse’s the worst son, no respect for his mother, indirect approach, a Philip K. Dick story, Jesse’s inside, The Cookie Lady, a suburban fantasy, a Hansel and Gretel story without Gretel, Bubber, the woman he visits after school, oh Philip K. Dick!, all the street names, Pine Street and Elm Street, why are the two stories so different, she’s not a regular witch, absorbing the life energy, a fat little boy who loves cookies, she’s young and beautiful, the wind is blowing, just a tumbleweed there, a horrible version of Hansel and Gretel, recognizing that you have to have help, both the children are contributing to the welfare, taking turns, wiser vs. cleverer, a Deep Space Nine episode, Jake Sisko‘s muse sucks the life energy out of him, the Star Trek universe is suffering from population decline, a little girl in Star Trek: Voyager, as soon as possible, bad writing, Wil Wheaton, o father I’m looking at my little white kitten, you young fool, sunshine on the chimney pot, a pigeon, why aren’t they eating the cat and the pigeon?, we ate your cat last night!, a strange story for modern kids, going without food, a famine in Germany, cannibalism, who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy, is the dad horrible or just weak?, he’s convinced, step-mother, his wife and his two children, I pity the poor children, different translations, slippy, how she went away, she “died”, is she’s the witch?, and then the witch says almost the exact same thing, the same pattern, the wife being gone…, we can read it the way kids read it, no subtext, how we’re supposed to read it, if you’re reading it to Jesse…, strength against adults, ganging up on the kids, if the mother is a witch…, it takes a little while, sexist!, once a man gives in he has to always give in, close reading, power relationships, giving into authority, keep the faith, math class, the wife would listen to nothing, “he who says A must say B too”, is that the logic?, if a man yields once he’s done for, more concrete in your face, like a cigarette, I already spanked my kid I might as well kill him, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, the nice monster, how do children see their parents?, as we discover…, the part we all understand, I want it now!, what are these stories for? what is their purpose?, at the end of the day kids need to go to sleep, something to chew over while they sleep, how do you choose what story and who to tell it to?, the circumstances for the telling of Hansel and Gretel, the story gets past your defenses, you’re a team against us, how do we steal from mom?, together rather than apart, how to forebear against…, a different message for a different person, where the story resonates, poor little Bubber had no brother or sister to save him from the excesses of his desires, Julie’s first thought, stories adults told, little girls now big girls, too lively?, a dinosaur, interactive storytelling, revelations, The Robber-Bride, for grown ups only?, knock knock the Grimm Bros. are at the door, here are the stories we tell, nothing else going on, the whole purpose, learning to stand up for yourself, imprisoned, she comes into herself, we’re going to ride separately, we each of us stand up for each other, do it yourself, a lot of the parents would be children, as we learn these mythological stories, an oral tradition, an illiterate population, children as the protagonists, a super-interesting story, On Golden Pond, they’ve already gained the wisdom, for children or for everybody?, Cinderella is of marriageable age, a young person, YA, Rapunzel, that prince was not as noble as you may have thought, dark, levels of development, children’s tales, suitable for children?, when you have no other entertainment, really believing in witches, talking animals, if I ask her she will help us, on your nice white back, questioning things, the theory, the house that they find is not the house they started at, crossing of water, a long way around, a symbolic crossing, Gretel as a silly goose, the theme of the birds, Eric S. Rabkin pointed out that the birds are fed by Hansel, making a sacrifice, rewarded, you can eat all the animals, you can feed the animals, eggs, glinting flints, reminding the duck, do the kids know how to swim?, the pearls and precious stones, the food that the witch ate from previous visitors, where do dragons get their treasures?, he that can catch her, a very large fur cap out of the skin of a mouse, a distraction on purpose, the relationship between humans and animals, the iconic image, it’s just the wind, doing what kids do, they eat us out of house and home, we’re starving to death, getting rid of the kids, the next wave of the famine comes, sleeping by a fire, sleeping under a tree, the third sleep is under the roof of the witch’s house, want some candy, endless candy, I don’t care about money I want some candy, witch’s pancakes, eating the roof, nibble nibble like a mouse, ok duh!, the boy gets all the best food, repaid, repetition, get up lazybones, becoming thin, eating the shells of crabs, thinking too much, eating children for their energy and their youth, the stepmother is the witch thesis, not just to keep the man, meals for her, come eat me, a sign of her wealth, a disinterest in making babies, eating children makes you immortal, the cautionary tale to the parent, do the right thing, parents don’t get any names, her name is a description of what she looks like, rampion, who the audience is, wish fulfillment, money can be converted into food, the kids as the heroes, horse and cow stories, mulling over the story, talking about the candy house, the lesson gets past your defenses, everythings safe and wonderful and you’re powerful, you come back ahead, a lot bad relationships, I’m mad at mom right now, the only chracters in the story do a job, the stories are so washed by the river, a pretty well-polished stone with some duck feet paddling above.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #426 – READALONG: A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #426 -Jesse and Juliane Kunzendorf talk about A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Talked about on today’s show:
1960, is it true that Peter S. Beagle wrote A Fine And Private Place when he was 19?, Mary Shelley, Mr Rebek has been in the graveyard for 19 years, self-aware, unforeseen circumstances, November 2016, lightweight material, subtext, it’s not deep, on the nose, a bit long?, novel length for a novella idea, a raven here, a lady doing her shopping, a time capsule, 1960-ish, darn interesting, how New York was, a social study, science fiction and werewolves, a light touch fantasy, pretty effective, 272 pages, six to eight hours, narrated by Peter S. Beagle himself, a calm voice, a pleasant listen, more better work, a special and distinct voice, kind of amazing, it feels super-old, wise, philosophical about death and how to live, how do you get to this?, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, one of Jesse’s favourites, nobody cared, Jesse’s theory as to what is going on in The Raven and how it relates to this story, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, a metaphysical poem, start to kissing, rhyming with the comeuppance, but none do there embrace, reading poems aloud, forced rhymes,

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

sweet!, come on baby!, 1681, a tutor to a rich man’s daughter, post-mortem publication, The Twilight Zone, World Enough And Time, inspired, amorous birds of prey, iron gates of life, chaste love, Jonathan and Mrs. Clapper, finding another person to be with, all during WWII, an interesting backstory, reading books, washing his clothes in the bathroom sink at night, is it all in his head?, is he just a crazy homeless man?, fitting the facts, dirty and smelly, well groomed, disheveled, shaving, grooming, what are we to make of Mrs. Clapper falling in love with not the greatest catch ever?, her (dead) husband, tickles a sense of adventure, I’m not your husband, the rain-jacket, museum visitor than stay-at-home, the store scene, the Stillman family, when are you getting married?, she’s trapped in her role, her place in society, her apartment, the social environment of the 1960s, widowhood, when are you going to Florida?, other options, how she’s going to be buried, Mr. Rebek’s prison, an incomplete explanation, acting as a witch-doctor, love-potions, the scarred up boxer, making a love-potion, it’ll just make her receptive, when the love-potion works…, a weak character, he plays along, whiter teeth, his girlfriend died and he can’t get over her, he’s fleeing from the world and responsibility, in a time loop, frozen in time, just being, going on vacation is not a life, more of the same, his icy tomb, other stories like this, Beatrice in Dante’s Paradise, Orpheus and Eurydice, Odysseus, is Mr. Rebek going to move in with Mrs. Clapper?, living together, wearing her husband’s old clothes?, his room, they have to find a new apartment, from the Goodwill (but actually from her), she’s trying to replace her dead husband, marriage, domains, the boss, the nameless raven, Elijah, a squirrel with a wife, more raven, a couple of rules, how ghosts act and animals can talk, the ghosts, subversion, that’s what ravens do, the nightwatchman, alcohol, Spanish singing, sung as it should have been sung, another reflection of the raven, a psychopomp, Charon, the ferryman, Anubis, Pluto, deep in every religion, a man alive in the place of the dead, you’re a terrible guard, a passenger stuck on the barge to the underworld, not dead, not alive, seeing the dead, Mrs. Clapper can’t see the dead, an idea working below the surface, a lazy slow river journey, a slowboat to hades, Michael, I don’t want your nepenthe, Laura, more friends than anything else, a seagull lost in Iowa, seeing a bird, what is the metaphor there?, heavy with metaphors, things underlying, Juliane has time, listening to the sound of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, certain sad uncertain rustling, a story of madness, Jesse’s theory but first the poem itself, Beagle must have been familiar with The Raven, books: “many a quaint and curious volume”, not nameless, wrought as a homophone for rot, a ghost of flame, morrow and marrow, surcease of sorrow, ending sorrow by reading, distraction, “to still the beating of [his] heart,” December, at night, midnight, “once”, Charles Dickens, big on ghosts, Into That Darkness Peering a collection of Poe narrated by Wayne June, what is he dreaming about?, suicide, what’s behind suicide, teasing, the passive voice, Guy de Maupassant, premature burial, Japanese or Korean ghosts, a real creepy ghost story, back from the dead, “chamber” not house, a lattice, panes and shutters, curtains, a shade, purple as the royal colour, layers, why is his soul burning?, slight variations, eyelids as shutters, “perched upon a bust of Pallas”, Athena, why Pallas?, palace, there were two goddesses, Pallas was eaten by Athena, distance away from Athena, perched above wisdom, “though thy crest be shorn and shaven”, Sampson, you can’t shave a raven, you can pluck a raven, crest, no fur nor hair nor feather’s on it’s head, that’s a different bird, it’s a condor aka a buzzard aka a carrion eater aka a vulture, why vultures head’s are are shaven, mistaking the bird, his perception of it as a raven is odd, why doesn’t anybody comment on this?, Athena’s helmet has a Raven on it, when you make a drawing you have to choose, in a poem we can have it both ways, a comparison to a vulture, craven as lustful, vultures don’t look young, he’s having it both ways, a much scarier story, a fire theme, ungainly = ungraceful, a talking raven, nesting ravens, does the Raven always tell the truth?, “fiery eyes” burning, Gustave Doré, a ray of light, fire and light, censer, seraphim, nepenthe again, always subverting, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, desert land, balm in Gilead, skin soothing stuff, radiant, “still is sitting, still is sitting”, how can the shadow throw from the lamp stream over?, “my soul from out that shadow”, he burned his house down and he’s a ghost, the perfume of smoke, a room (not a house), Mr. Rebek’s house is a tomb, a man without a Lenore, eh, what are you going to do?, ravens in Greek mythology, Apollo, why all ravens are black today, creator god, the Ravens in the Tower of London, Mabel and Grip, trickster god, ravens stealing food, experiments with crow communication, sharing information, Jesse’s crow friend, zebras, lions making a plan, he cried like a baby, a reading raven, a gentle fantasy, the social structure, Michael and Laura, suicide or murder?, a prison of his own making, the prison of her own head, a golden cage, a satisfactory book, Mr. Rebek is 53, Mrs. Clapper is a little older (maybe), children are really absent, what’s real and what’s just in his head?, the nightwatchman is the sanest of all of them, so little evidence for insanity, very little below the surface, The Last Unicorn film adaptation, thematic connections, the death theme, The Innkeeper’s Song, five novels, We Never Talk About My Brother, funerals, death of child, hanging out in graveyards, pillars that didn’t support anything, the symbology of graveyards, a broken column indicates a life cut short, burial vs. cremation, a line between life and death, formalized words, affective, more philosophical, working as a mortician, Six Feet Under, a good book and pretty impressive, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (and the comic book adaptation), similarities, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a boy raised by ghosts, Tarzan, raised by animals, Tantor the elephant, Nobody Owens aka Bod, subtle illustrations, the babysitter characters, reading with students, tweeting Neil Gaiman, a signed poster, monster characters, Coraline, Tim Burton, thanatophilic, a weird relationship with death, if you’re dead you’re just gone, exactly like before you were born, we’re all just living in our heads.

BALLANTINE - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
IDW - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

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

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

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

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

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