The SFFaudio Podcast #365 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

April 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #365 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Mr Jim Moon talk about The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, April 1929, set in 1928, the Wikipedia entry, “one of the few tales Lovecraft wrote wherein the heroes successfully defeat the antagonistic entity or monster of the story”, the heroes were a nice family who kept to themselves, hounding the downtrodden, the story structure, the lily white mom, a virgin birth to an extraordinary son, an invisible brother, the holy trinity, it’s Jerusalem all over again, another fallen world, Dostoevsky’s The Grand Inquisitor, she’s sooo virginal, towards racism, non-human entities, deeply inset, the whole of Dunwich is inbred, more sanctified, extreme exogamy, Wilbur Whateley’s literary model, Frankenstein’s monster, yellow skin, lustrous black hair, hounded by the community, nudism is not a sin on your own land, they’re non-Christians, persecution, one of the great problems of Frankenstein, the creation of new life in a socially horrible way, for lack of a better appendage, some of the things Wizard Whateley says are troubling, Wilbur’s strangeness, reserve books, deny all access to this kid, the Call Of Cthulhu RPG is modeled on this story, Yog-Sothoth’s appearances in other stories, Through The Gates Of The Silver Key by E. Hoffman Price and H.P. Lovecraft, the opener of the way, Randolph Carter, Wilbur’s diary, the clearing off of the Earth, a lonely teenager, contempt for his mom, her albinism, somewhat deformed, gestures and hints, her unnamed son, Wilbur is dark, another step down the albinism route, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, the Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows Providence adaptation (issue 4), Robert Black, the Wilbur stand-in is Willard, the audio drama, family photos, the madwoman in the attic (the mad brother in the attic), dad’s always feeding him, he’s just a big kid, wonderfully atmospheric, he’s a horror writer, the normal way to read this story, weird fiction, The Colour Out Of Space, science fiction, Providence, Rhode Island, Athol, dread and horror, straight-up horror, Lovecraft and race, Lovecraft and class, poor white people are monstrous and horrific, inbred and weak, a fun Malcolm Gladwell piece, To Kill A Mockingbird demonized poor white folk, Trump-bashing, Oswald Spengler’s The Decline Of The West, have we peaked?, patronizing the poor, this is shocking, Theodore Dreiser, Jacob Reese’s How The Other Half Lives, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Degeneration: Fear Of The White Race Declining, war, we’ll all be Teddy Roosevelt and Baden-Powell, WWI, prohibition, the first U.S. propaganda committee, the end of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, rural threat, The Terrible Old Man, a cultural flip-flop, the rural folk as the other, the tipping point, urban migration, canary women in munition factories, the yeoman past, the gold doubloons, where did that money come from?, practicing alchemy?, Keanu Reeves, a ghurka knife, Dracula’s money belt, poor Wilbur, dogs wanna eat him!, dogs are mean, barking at things we cannot see, the dog as index of character, good people feed you bad people eat you, unlike the whippoorwills?, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, Wilbur is a little goaty, concepts and styles, the gods having union with humans and birthing the monstrous, a neuroscientist, a gibbering wreck, a trail of destruction, literal devolution, absolute corruption in human form, Helen Vaughn, a mystery story, disturbing hints, an enturely different story with entirely different tropes, a classic bad seed story, a giant monster on the loose story, a New England kaiju story, the Moodus Noises, hollow earth stories, lost race stories, Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race, ravines of problematic depth, Lovecraft casts a spell upon the reader, entranced by the language, landscape description, Elmore Leonard, stage-setting, the river as a serpent, oddly suggestive, feeling uneasy, the weird tale aspect, a little too round and a little too even, pulling down all the stones on all the hilltops, At The Mountains Of Madness, Dreams Of Animals, other families, the etymology of panic, somebody’s panic face, red scares, yellow perils, bank panics, the god Pan,

The word derives from antiquity and is a tribute to the ancient God, Pan. One of the many gods in the mythology of ancient Greece: Pan was the god of shepherds and of woods and pastures. The Greeks believed that he often wandered peacefully through the woods, playing a pipe, but when accidentally awakened from his noontime nap he could give a great shout that would cause flocks to stampede. From this aspect of Pan’s nature Greek authors derived the word panikon, “sudden fear,” the ultimate source of the English word: “panic”.

multiples of Pan:

Pan could be multiplied into a swarm of Pans, and even be given individual names, as in Nonnus’ Dionysiaca, where the god Pan had twelve sons that helped Dionysus in his war against the Indians.

a scapegoat, panic is the sense that everything around you is alive, 1806, a beautiful valley, a few cows, not interested in the modern economy, industry “didn’t take”, party line telephones, gossip, no phone at the Whateley farm, are they all practice hidden religions, The Horror Of The Burying Ground, a humor piece, an experimental embalmer, Herbert West: Embalmer, they’re alive!, everyone goes to their graves alive, gothic horror, comedy, set in Vermont?, Will Murray, Lovecraft’s revisions, tongue in cheek, blackly comic self-parody (almost), The Horror Of The Museum, Hazel Heald, in the 19th century everyone was afraid of premature burial, Edgar Allan Poe, a New York City echo, the different adaptations, the 2009 SciFi channel version, Jeffrey Combs, Dean Stockwell (Dr Yueh), the 1970 movie adaptation, a satanist movie, a lot of the story is in it, an anti-hero, Professor Armitage, Dennis Wheatley, cosmic horror, a beholder from Dungeons & Dragons gone berserk, a staff with a thunderbird totem, don’t go near the hills on certain nights of the year, a resentment, the degenerate side of the family, the opening credits, the love interest, the natural order, the big interpolation, an abomination, like Philip K. Dick, a source for films (mostly bad), The Resurrected, Blade Runner, Total Recall: 2070, Minority Report TV series, The Man In The High Castle TV series, the problem is there’s no real hope…, exactly the opposite of Dick’s idea, what that means for us, the medium shift (from book to movie), The Stone Tape (the BBC radio drama adaptation), checking out a book as a plot point, the Suspense radio drama adaptation of The Dunwich Horror, OTR, The War Of The Worlds, a Lovecraftian flavour, a sense of weirdness, using the whippoorwills, the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaptation, Wayne June is Mr Creeps, The Great God Pan, Out Of The Earth, The Thing In The Woods by Margery Williams, Ooze, an episode of Lovejoy, Ian McShane, regular uncursed artifacts, Deadwood, Dunwich On Sea (or In Sea?), a Swinburne poem, Stone Angel, The Ancient Track, Lovecraft’s description of other books in poems, a restatement of the Whateley family, Jesse reads a poem, Mr Jim Moon quotes from Zaman’s Hill, Lovecraft Country, Massachusetts and Vermont, very rural, Wizard Alexander, so articulate, glib stereotype, it would be childish to say it was indescribable…, a master of horror with a deep seated love of humour.

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Hugh Rankin

The Dunwich Horror - illustration by Rowena Morrill

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

November 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #345 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about the Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Posted by Jesse Willis