The 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)
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1982, the last readable Heinlein novel, head-shaking, one of the most awkward books, transgender stuff, a New York times article, I Will Fear No Evil, body swap, an old man in a young woman’s body, Predestination (2014), All You Zombies, sex-change and time travel, another example of a Heinlein character getting a sex-change, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, even the computer is gender fluid, Podkayne Of Mars, Heinlein is the man in Science Fiction who really believes in women, the spring of 1991, re-reading experience, characters who defy human emotion and reality, made of human DNA, the Pinocchio story, focusing on the overbuilding, not just sex but odd sex, anti-male homosexuality but he likes lesbianism, a whiff of – but no sex on screen, Red Thursday, there’s a rape at the beginning and she marries her rapist at the end, it needs an editor, losing track of plotting, he let me pee, he’s a nice rapist, it makes sense!, Stranger In A Strange Land, what do we do about it?, horrible Heinlein thoughts, a lot of “doxy” training, an enhanced person vs. an artificial person, increased sexuality bred into them?, Dr. Baldwin engineered her, Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein, supermen, Olympia, late Heinlein is giving up on what early Heinlein wrote, travel reading, line marriages and serial marriages, making families, Christchurch, Winnipeg, Heinlein went to a swingers party and said “let’s do this all the time”, seeing a person’s mind over time, a plotless meandering travelogue/memoir, so many coincidences, that just happened to happen?, from set-piece to set piece, Bellingham, the AP guy never comes back, Chekhov’s gun that turns out to be a red herring, it wasn’t serialized for Playboy but should have been, sex for sex-sake, he’s got the 1997 World Wide Web in this book, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game did forums, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, Hathitrust, terminals vs. PCs, kittens, cats, how many breakfasts, hungry the whole time, that “triggered” me, Jesse explains this book, Canada, California, Las Vegas, New Zealand, Australia, credit cards, she takes his Diner’s Club card, clothing, Heinlein went on a cruise, transient ischemic attack (TIA), Grumbles From The Grave, lots of eating, good food, cruise ship food, movies, cruise-like, sitting at the captain’s table, Heinlein being respected, touring the United States, crazy governments, “long pig” = human pig, rich “slitch”, playing psychoanalyst, the Earth is doomed, Heinlein is obsessed with the frontier, Time Enough For Love, the frontier hypothesis, racism you wouldn’t notice, law and order in peaceful British Canada, the remainders of the US, the Bear Flag Republic of California, the Free State of Las Vegas, Vicksburg, the Chicago Imperium includes Minnesota, getting Paul’s revolution on, everybody is Amish now, driving draft horses, semi-ballistic skyport, the world’s best batteries: shipstones, Ayn Rand, a libertarian streak, the Galt’s Gulch approach to patents, an unresolved plot point, an internal revolt, they own everything, making an argument, an analogy for the oil industry, s-groups, freeing women up to work, Friday can run 30 km per hour, rolling around on the floor with kittens and babies, housewives, the lesbian couple-ship with Goldie, tension between roles of women, all those contradictions, why is Friday sterile, childless Heinleins, write what you want, Heinlein as a gold bug, making America great again by tearing down the wall between the USA and Mexico, pushing gold hard, politeness is society, no flame wars on Heinlein’s internet, paperbooks vs. ebooks, Google book scans, nobody knew about the internet, the pay internet, the pay web, SOPA and PIPA, a free and open internet, Friday‘s enthusiasm for the web was realistic, I can learn everything, you have no excuse today for not knowing everything, know what you don’t know and don’t talk about it, learning about the world by reading Heinlein novels, the word “knave”, The Queen of Hearts, claques, stylites, particularism, secessionist California, Texas, a balkanized USA, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, alternate dimensions, the Rapture,
The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.
its so easy not to appreciate all we have, I pity all the fools, The Number Of The Beast, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gay Deceiver, there’s no way to fix this!, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, the thing he has about incest, Heinlein’s Future History, Philip K. Dick does the opposite, it all hangs together, someone is hanging himself in a closet, Heinlein’s periods, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Door Into Summer, Professor Eric S. Rabkin, walls dilate open, women: I kinda wanna be one, The Puppet Masters, a similar organization, a boss with a bunch of agents, the boss just dies, writing the novel with a pair of dice or the I Ching, weird coincidences, part of the story just falls away, the Dungeon Master, Friday as a pick-a-path book, on the whole we enjoyed it, the writing style, Hillary Huber was the narrator for Blackstone Audio version, a fun listen, I wouldn’t say that I liked it, fun in places, what is an artificial person, if you prick me do I not leak?, people born of three parents, a future person, GMO fruit vs. organic fruit, people have been fucking with fruit forever, Jesse expounds on apples, all apples for harvest are grafts, Maissa expounds on bananas, Paul expounds on corn, corn is in everything in the USA, you’re 80% corn, the enhanced talking dog, kobold miners, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, the main character is a robot, no biological creatures, the illegitimate worries that Friday has are programmed into the main character of Saturn’s Children, a romp novel with everybody dead, straight out of Heinlein’s subconscious, Reading, Short & Deep, Who Can Replace A Man? by Brian Aldiss, Ian Tregillis’ Alchemy War novels, Spartacus, Botany Bay, there is a destiny that shapes our lives, an allusion to Hamlet
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1970, many people have a problem with this book, issues, classic big dumb object, the book hasn’t changed, oh bad, with live in very sensitive times, political correctness, totally unacceptable jokes, ‘Teela was one of the few women crying doesn’t make ugly’, “so I don’t rape Nessus”, joking and laughing, regaining confidence, is Teela a damsel in distress?, a hole in the Ringworld, luck, she isn’t saved by a man, a trope subverted, Candide, blind faith, rising up, worldbuilding, jaded spacer, quasi-murderous kzin, cowardly Nessus, N-Space, an author plot device, not so cool, Prill, Ascension, Jesse begins apologizing for Larry Niven’s, breaking Paul’s bubble with a fan favourite: Firefly, a lot of sex, defined as a concubine, 40 people on the ship, overly sensitizes, picks at people’s mind, every woman has a tasp within her if she knows how to use it, where are the vampires and ghouls, The Ringworld Engineers, he’s a wirehead, drugs, retesting, a stimulating environment, puppeteer is puppeteer, where’s the outrage over the puppeteer immorality, looking at the book the wrong way, if that’s your takeaway from that scene, let it go, non-sentience and the non-sentient females, Louis Wu’s freezer family, sentient is an interesting world, Philosophical zombies, Westworld!, Ex Machina, man creator creating a woman for sex, addressing a real thing, hard facts that people don’t like to think or talk about, differences between the genders, not being shy, gender switch Louis and Teela’s genders, non-reproductive sex, the intersection between reproduction and sex and gender, a biological fact, why do we go to the puppeteer world, motivated by breeding licenses, he has a beautiful woman’s voice(s), horror acts, I’m going to murder you, when you live in a society that has solved all the gender problems…, as a plot device, the whole book is “spoiled” on the cover and the back, it’s very interesting and let’s explore, in order to have a reason there have to be a series of coincidences, a treatise on fate and destiny, exploring through the story, she just needs to meet a man?, do you have any free will, the puppet strings of fate, the god gambit, she’s going to be alive for 20,000 years, Teela becomes a “protector”, retconing, Protector by Larry Niven, a 1 to 1 scale map of the Earth, Mars, after the Halo generation, trouble picturing it, a true fact, bigger than our imagination, the orbit of the Earth around the sun, did the Lying Bastard make the Fist Of God, the comet defense system, the shadow square wires, Earth has natural mechanisms for keeping itself in balance, there’s no maintenance crew for the Ringworld, laser taboo, Ringworld is so inconceivably big and the whole is not very big in comparison, plug the hole, the center cannot hold, things fall apart, entropy, the sunflower problem, ecology, the ring foundation material being exposed, no real geological activity, preventing the seas from being silted, all the systems that are needed to be maintained, good job Earth!, the Aral Sea, the Earth society, the homogenization of the world, Beirut looks like Budapest, Munich resembles Cairo, transfer booths and stepping discs vs. Skype, a global culture, people in other countries can be in the same room, the lucky ones, every number in South America, Louis is a big mix, Larry Niven is hilarious, Louis Wu and his Motley Crew, French and Chinese, a chrome yellow mandarin, so racist?, just a fashion, Teela was blue, globalism happens, google translate, the Larry Niven’s flashcrowd stories, not the Organlegger stories, not Known Space, flash zombie mobs, revolutions, 2000+ veterans heading to Standing Rock, North Dakota, not through the mainstream media, a slow motion flash mob, thinking about technology the way Larry Niven does, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, how are fly-cycles powered?, concepts or technologies from Ringworld, Neutron Star, Beowulf Shaeffer, my greatest hits of technology ideas, the Ansible (an anagram for Lesbian), Orson Scott Card, General Products Hull, anti-matter, Slaver stasis field, World Of Ptavvs, selecting for luck, a stupid (smart) idea, we don’t have a complete picture of reality, they’re using a different theory, manipulating probabilities, the Scarlet Witch and Gambit, there is no actual book from god, running a crazy (interesting) experiment with an infinite amount of puppeteers, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, sex solving all problems, Babylon 5, bonobo references, sexing your ways out of problems, obsessed by sex, anyone alive has someone in their family interested in sex, a science fan, something to think about, when did Isaac Asimov become interested in sex?, a good thing, the problems with it are so negligible, the fans of Ringworld are insanely interested in it, browbeaten into writing the sequels, a natural school learned from, booster-spice is straight out of Dune, ragweed, the Chaosium Ringworld RPG, Teela brown is well educated, bundled in with the luck, does having experience pain help with empathy?, the Ringworld foundation material, the way Douglas Adams explains how big space is doesn’t give you the same sense, this thing is really, really big, a barbarian swordsperson on a quest, he’s Don Quixote and she’s Sancho Panza, super-funny, “he stopped having sex with me when he found out about you”, almost every culture has done that in most of human history, a collapsed civilization, he knows magic, people barter with people, he’s honourable, stupid honour, she’d be ruining him, keep him the noble idiot that he is, wandering the Ringworld forever, that’s why there is a game about this world, Stellaris, the puppeteer world, leaf-eaters for lunch, “my love”, sexism is based on the distinguishment between male and female, races aren’t real, genders are real, French-ness, epicanthic folds, the end of racism, we all speak Interworld, there goes Firefly again, Joss Whedon, this is why you should pillory Niven: Wu travels the wrong direction for his birthday, “endlessly teased”, the Earth spinning the wrong direction, Niven has tapped into something amazing with Ringworld, a TV adaptation, how to depict the Ringworld on screen, mostly conversations about technical problems and possible solutions, that’s so interesting, the cloud over the city, it looks like a cloud?, that variable sword, Jesse does the voices, Louis the mediator, a xenophile, cool!, real racism, that’s racist!, Speaker’s viewpoint, Nessus’s character is brilliant, [“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.”], Meskalanites as Yankee traders, the same story (in structure), what antlers are for, they’re cowards (cautious), they always attacked before they were ready, masterful foreign policy, sock-puppets, it’s both, the Outsiders, slave and food out of everybody, 350 pages, The Wizard Of Oz plot, Maissa’s theory: Teela is Dorothy, the Puppeteer is the Cowardly Lion, Sunflowers instead of Poppies, Louis is Dorothy, Teela as the Tin-Man, Prill as the Wizard, a road trip, it kind of looks like The Wizard Of Oz, Speaker as Tony the Tiger, anachronisms, when you make a kizinti laugh that’s going to be your last joke, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Starfleet Battles, drone warfare, an Enterprise made out of General Products hulls, a BDO, a BDO capper, invented and solved in one book, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, Jesse engineer’s a dyson’s sphere without artificial gravity (using Ringworld tech), The Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees, low-tech characters lack a scientific education, Rammer is not known space story, a horrible dystopia, the corpsicles, sticking it to the man, A World Out Of Time, always weird sexual things, totally forgivable, setting Samuel DeLany aside, biological differences in the genders create biological imperatives, women seem to like to take care of babies that come out of their bodies, why do you think that is?, snakes don’t take care of their babies, a biological reason, snakelets take care of themselves, men seem to find women scarce and women seem to find men plentiful, these are facts, that’s what people do, recreation and reproduction, birth control technology has fundamentally changed human relations, walking around in bags, repressed technology, Jesse is going to get into trouble, protecting the make libido, horror stories, a culture of repression, from a biological stance, Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, changelings, Rapunzel, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, this totally a sex story, women always know who their children are and men don’t, the motivation behind horrible, men spread genetic material without cost but for women it is highly costly, the cuckoo, feeding baby birds is physically high cost, divorce in the age of social safety net, charged words, in defense of poor Larry Niven, sexist, colouring the re-reading, trapped in the police jail, flying the Improbable, put a ring around it, a fundamental disregard for women, a lessering of women, little low affect Hal Clements, he’s a man, books written by women, good books, an exercise in making characters, being unable to fully model, a callousness, plot movers to opposed to people, Prill is at a disadvantage, if you’ve been worshiped for a long time, non-violation of the Prime Directive, violated many times, Speaker as a male god, it doesn’t count on Ringworld, very worldist!, vampires and hominids, the lack of diversity, human speciation on the Ringworld in The Ringworld Engineers, bribed with Boston lettuce, less diamond so chaff, mining metaphors, one-and-done-it.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #395 – Jesse and Wayne June talk about The Slithering Shadow (aka Xuthal Of The Dusk) by Robert E. Howard
Talked about on today’s show:
Wayne’s first exposure to Robert E. Howard, “repetitious and childish, a self-vitiating brew of pseudo-science”, stage illusions and , repetition, “Oh, Conan!, Robert would have wanted it that way, REH is having some fun with a genre he normally doesn’t play in, Red Nails, Conan is dismissive of the city’s population, degeneration, drug addled drug attics in dopey hazes, lasers, radium light bulbs, manufacturing food from the primal elements, Valeria vs harem slave Natala, devious, controlling, self-interested, a lot of depth behind the shallowness in this story, Conan is really grumpy from page one, gigantic mirth: she’s only human, curmudgeon Conan, poisoning the well, don’t grab my sword arm, slap on the ass, a grumpy sexist, Howard’s doing something really really funny, The Slithering Shadow is a gothic horror, silliness, women written like cartoon characters, not reminding you of your mortality, not about the uselessness of existence, clunky elements, a haunted castle, kicking and screaming, bad casting, trap doors, up to the hilt, sitting on another divan, sooo gothic horror novel, hidden passageways, trapdoors, convoluted coincidence, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Oval Portrait, very recently and hurriedly abandoned, still food on the table, candles that have just been blown out, one spot of blood, The Monk, a giant helmet, a giant dome at the center of the city, one giant palace, all the trappings of a haunted mansion, switching gears, describing Thog, jumping right into H.P. Lovecraft, men of action, biting the Lovecraftian horror, what Cimmerians are like, passive aggressive Conan, in all of Howards writings about Conan, a blood feud, a lack of reproduction, an H.G. Wells trick, why the drug element is so heavy, the golden wine (a healing potion), Howard’s doctor father was very familiar with heroin addiction, Fort McMurray, “morons”, barbarians vs. the civilized, Thalis’ experience, the Fred Van Lente adaptation for Dark Horse Comics, initiated into the cult of Derketa, not my first rodeo, a gang-bang, better to kill Natala, Thalis’ life story is a horror show hidden behind a few words, that’s the cover of Weird Tales, who is this story intended for?, racy, sex, before Natala knifed Thalis, I don’t like getting stabbed, taught to be hard and cruel, Thalis’ chance at revenge, a Stygian Queen, growing up with doped out morons, a gruesome comeuppance, Thog doesn’t just eat you he rapes you first, digested for a thousand years, tentacles, the face of Thog, a non-euclidean face, a 40 year Texas feud, Thog at the center bottom of the city, a big black amorphous mass, Thog is the mad lady in the attic, a stoic attitude towards destiny and fate, from the likes of Thog, Thog is the oil, the cause for the addiction and for the city, unseen until it gushes all over you, fundamentally Howard is not completely wrong about civilization, trigger warnings and sexism, the limitations on what a woman can be in Xuthal (get a real man), moral judgements, his own code of ethics, stealing a slave, Natala’s safety is bound up with his morality, a kind of a rescue, the rebel Prince Almuric, a great river flowing into the desert, dead with forty arrows, canteen full of water, a rich and decadent place, black lotus, cursed, the desert will be kinder, a rebel prince of Stygia, Thalis was like a Natala, she’s the heavy (other than Thog), whip up some anger, Thalis is a Natala without a Conan, this “civilized” society, one of the worst Conan stories by one of the best writers of pulp fiction is still a pretty good story, super-hero-ish, Howard was smart at marketing, Margaret Brundage, lesbian scenes on the cover, gratuitous nudity, temptation, Queen Of The Black Coast, Belit, a pirate queen, first mate (literally), Belit runs that story, a noir awesome ending, the coincidence, “I guess I could do a gothic – Conan won’t like this”, having fun with it, all those tropes, the comics adaptations, done in Stygian, when Conan talks in word balloons, a rough-hewn word balloon (a Cimmerian accent?), you don’t want to do Arnold, a pulpy breezy, showing the Xuthalians hooked up to IVs, smoking your black lotus, the den of an opium smoker, chasing the dragon, enough backstory to make it interesting, an opium inundated culture, yellow skinned, China in decline, the Hermit Kingdom, decadence collapsing, a yellow peril story, San Fransisco, Chinatown, Lovecraftian elements, The Hour Of The Dragon, start with a random story, outliers, Beyond The Black River, Queen Of The Black Coast, an epicness, forty issues of awesome adventure, the tie between pulp adventure and comics, comics are the legacy of the pulps, The Shadow, Doc Savage is a pulp superhero with a super-team, in the 1970s, Conan The Barbarian, the Roy Thomas adaptation from Savage Sword of Conan #20, 1977, essentially nudity, heads being lopped off, no blood and no death, Curtis Publications, kick-ass stories, amazing pulp adventure, a 60 page comic adaptation, “freely adapting”, Conan finds a lost valley – Iskander’s kingdom, crocodile men and bird men, walking zombies, all sorts of things need to have their heads lopped off, Marvel was the dark side vs. DC, sel-doubt and existential anxierty of the heros, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, the amazing Filipino artists drawing busty ladies and big armed barbarians, Warren Comics, Heavy Metal, Richard Corben, so much richness in the non-superhero comics, Pepe Moreno, Rebel (1984), Mad Max meets Escape From New York with Nazis, a hot rod gang with a heart of gold, victory by blowing up the World Trade Center, power in visualizing, the “steely thews” of Conan, eldritch vs. thews, cat-like, jaguar, pantherish, the battle scenes really flowed, Howard highly influenced by Lovecraft, The Black Stone, an elegance of colour, colour in every particle of sand, the opposite of Lovecraft, with Lovecraft the horrible thing makes its appearance and you faint, Howard wades in on it, Lovecraft would never do that, one can’t battle gods and get away with a whole skin, psychic damage vs. physical damage, Howard is a complement to Lovecraft, physicality, fighting against the inevitability, there’s life there, bleak and grey vs. blood flying everywhere, Robert E. Howard was a lot lustier, “a superfluity of naughtiness”, tongue in cheek, “spicy”, Railroad Man’s Magazine, Air Stories, Zeppelin Stories, True Detective, Spicy Detective, Spicy Mystery, Spicy Adventure, Twilight is nothing new, sexist so sexist, racist so racist, women readers asking for more nudity and spicy, reading it with one hand, women liked and wrote for Weird Tales, Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Maude Ludington Cain, yeah it’s sexist, keep behind me girl, “Why is he calling her a girl?”, “Oh, he’s sexist.”, visualizing what is said, what if someone saw us?, there’s blood on the stones, Conan at his stupidest, a crimson mist descended over his eyes, don’t let the blind bull-headed grumpiness be a guide for what he’s like, there’s a great character there.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #039
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Wisdom Of The Trail by Jack London
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Wisdom Of The Trail was first published in the Overland Monthly, December 1899.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #379 – Jesse and Maissa Bessada talk about A Walk Among The Tombstones by Lawrence Block.
Talked about on today’s show:
1992, a controversial book, hey ladies (!), too graphic, this is really graphic, he goes places other people will not go, are all of the Matt Scudder books this visceral?, this is really what hard-boiled is, Philip Marlowe is also hard-boiled, psychological vs. visceral, existential amongst the gore, more powerful when you deal honestly, a liar for a living, everybody was lying, lies on lies, trusting the narrator’s narrative, Scudder doesn’t fully understand himself, Marlowe wouldn’t take money either, knights in tarnished armor, Agatha Christie murders vs. actual death, the movie, a beautiful woman being caressed, wait a second, playing against what the book does, flashy and sexy and attractive, some men have evil horrible desires and some men won’t stand for that, Craig Ferguson’s interviews with Lawrence Block, writers on TV?, there’s something really special about this book, Hollywood is afraid of the wrong things, why did they change the character’s name and skin color, they did it because they’re racist, having a sympathetic criminal who is an arab, TJ, Elaine, Mick Ballou, the arab market, a busty dark haired beauty, the movie is so much easier to digest than the book, they couldn’t show what you read, he can’t be saying that, so horrible, going against reality, superheroes, Daredevil and Jessica Jones, this felt real, Tarantino movies, the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, fun and light, he’s a writing machine, the Evan Tanner series, a member of every revolutionary movement on the planet, he’s an amazing writer, a really great writer, living with the character, AA meetings, shorthand for the psychology, earlier in the series, like we’re his sponsor, seamless, TJ is weakened in the movie, sympathy understanding and comprehension, a through-line direct, TJ in the book is a modern kid, a hustler, he knows how to get stuff done, moving the story to 1999, voicemail, call forwarding, beepers, memory lane, why are there so many water-mains bursting, the 1% of the 1%, collapsing infrastructure, a little time-capsule, close but far away, Matthew Scudder ages with the books, the Keller series, Hitman is a fix-up novel, it was a great book and had a lot of power, Robert Pickton, institutions can’t help you, if you’re a hooker or a homeless person or a kid on the run from his or her parents you can’t go to the police, Pam’s story, “Pammie”, horrible human evil, experiences with police, mainstream television, television shows about justice, the FBI, it’s the system, the morality that we normally think about, following the law, you’re a number in a system, I don’t need to rely on societies rules, law breaking, murder, we’re all okay with that, superheroes are the opposite way of going, you never see Spider-man on the witness stand, Superman stopping a crashing airplane is more plausible than the Joker being jailed by Batman, down a superhero rabbit hole, in cahoots with the police, the idealized justice system is a fantasy, the criminals were the sweetest characters, how they did it in the movie, avoiding the moral lessons of the book, Peter’s suicide, Keenan’s divine retribution, I have to tell you – you don’t have to listen, the cutter, I was glad that he did it, they brought a 14 year old girl into it, she’s missing two fingers, okay – that’s fine – go ahead, tell what he had done, Elaine and Scudder go to plays and movies, Mother Courage, agitprop, breaking the fourth wall, wanting you upset, PAY ATTENTION, be mad, be upset, a Croatian movie, thinking about Raymond Chandler, no one to be consoled by, he’s got a cat, dropping Elaine drops so much of the value, moral weirdness, there’s so much grey here, what Elaine does for Pam, what Lawrence Block does, a lot of guys will dig that, violence as entertainment to be shared, Debra Winger in Black Widow, if this was a movie, TV-movies, 15 minutes of allotted fame, Goodreads review, wrapped packages of meat, an unsettling book, it’s happening right now out there in the world, murdered and missing women, it’s so easy, reading this book is agreeing to get in the van, Julie saw what is in the van and wouldn’t get in, the Japanese TV miniseries version of The Long Goodbye, the drinking doesn’t have consequences, junkie thinking, Keenan basically killed his brother, steal his wallet and help him try to find it, victims without vengeance, anti-humane language, damn the costs damn the consequences, his Phoenician ancestors, a drug trafficker and a junkie, be broken somewhere, the backstory, the movie shorthand, the affair, Keenan and Peter’s story were undermined in the film, the death of Peter makes Matt a hero, they turned it into a Hollywood movie, the betrayal, breaking the solidarity, Francine is faithful and loving, she never bought TV-dinners, his little glass doll, the cemetery subplot, at the end of this book we get the sense that TJ will become the real true apprentice, he’s not a character – he’s a person, in conversation Matt always gives a short honest response, he’s trying to be real, he needed to walk, the street was a character, the cover for the original audiobook, hate (and love) for Mark Hammer’s narration, a slow wondrous narration, the best cover art, Liam Neeson walking, all those tall buildings all over New York is a walk among the tombstones, a really good title, “I don’t like to do a lot of research”, whenever you read a Lawrence Block book, he does this amazing thing, the Chip Harrison books are sex-adventures, pornography books, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Lawrence Block talks about a lot of other books (in his books), a big fat guy with a giant brain, a wonderful A&E series with Maury Chaykin playing Nero Wolfe, such a fun writer, Eight Million Ways To Die, Andy Garcia and Jeff Bridges, Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, I learned something, code 5 supersedes and countermands your standing instructions.
Posted by Jesse Willis