The SFFaudio Podcast #511 – The Canal by Everil Worrell; read by Wayne June. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (53 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, December 1927, a vampire story, H.P. Lovecraft, an alternative version of the story’s ending, dynamite vs. a wooden sword, Wikisource, The James Dickey, white caps on the canal, low key, that bitch is getting it, where’s the dynamite?, no secret cavern only opened by a , have I got dementia?, the April 1935 reprint, the Night Gallery half hour TV adaptation, fix Skype, Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, shooting day for night, very dream like, 1960s westerns, as bright as daylight, Lesley Ann Warren smokin’ hot, so sexually provocative, her middle name is cleavage, drunk this other dude, red bedspread, evoking the attraction, essentially a skeleton, a heart shaped face, she’s bony, a very well written student, the amount of poetic techniques she uses, super-high level, I didn’t intend that to be poetry, writing a very long suicide note, all these ppp sounds, repetition, the last ravings of a madman, the thing I shall have done, where did the changes come from?, her father has a giant stake, stab me with your giant wooden stake, that’s a lot of symbolism there, do we think that Everil Worrel made those changes?, the whole heroic aspect, in one fell swoop, drama, toned down, beef up the ending?, paid by the word, a Hollwood Blockbuster ending, the camp invasion, bitten by rats, he’s killing everybody, do all the people in the camp die?, infected, he’s a little hard to follow, everybody’s going to die, whoever did this was a monster, a cargo of death, when she first became the thing she is, expiation, redemption, atonement, a very Catholic Christian religious word, it isn’t so much about the girl, the narrator is very Lovecraftian, he loves to be alone, not afraid to being hanging out alone in the dark, meditating in graveyards, night walks, driving out to the countryside, in Paris?, along its left bank?, every canal has a left bank (and a right bank too), fallen into disuse, the River Walk in San Antonio, “Morton”, Hyacinth is slightly better than Lily, she’s telepathic, his name is “Ron”, fishmongers, easier to fit into a half hour, some of the leaps, the 1927 illustration by Hugh Rankin, grease-pencil, a flapper haircut, a dance move, giant bats, “Loathsome shapes flapped through the night along the way that led to the pleasure camps.”, a roadster, a motorboat, early fall?, he’s already got a whole lifestyle going, that smell, what’s going on with the dilapidated buildings, these aren’t gypsies exactly, a recreational thing?, a portable brothel?, pleasure is a weird word, “She’s a vampire. A vampire!, VAMPIRES!”, the storm had a rock hit him in the head, feasting, the more minimal ending, we have to infer how she got there, she commands him to carry her, my father is deaf and he sleeps soundly, metaphors, he sleeps by night, not lying, you sleep soundly, a pique in my voice, always at different times, on guard, she ate a child, the father has to kill her, the father’s story, maybe the father died after?, imagining the backstory, lonely places, she’s an attraction he’d never felt before, a mossy gravestone, did the father invent all that?, global pandemic, I’ve read Dracula, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, making explicit, one of the few vampire stories in which the narrator is familiar with vampire fiction, running water, the rules, meta-context, genre saavy, two different subgengres, a Robert E. Howard ending, the shorter version is rather Edgar Allan Poe like, which did Lovecraft read, a strong echo of Hypnos and The Hound, one is enthralled to another, ending in the night side of the city, where the nice people don’t go, so many echoes, a city at night, Fungi From Yuggoth was written in December 1929 to early 1930, The Call Of Cthulhu, maybe August Derleth “improved” it, The Grove of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, Dagon, the plunger, the plunger!, not better, more poignant, pointy sword, why is he carrying around a wooden sword?, the wooden sword, decapitated with a Bowie knife, a fudge between the two, The Canal by H.P. Lovecraft, January 1938, Somewhere in dream there is an evil place
Where tall, deserted buildings crowd along
A deep, black, narrow channel, reeking strong
Of frightful things whence oily currents race.
Lanes with old walls half meeting overhead
Wind off to streets one may or may not know,
And feeble moonlight sheds a spectral glow
Over long rows of windows, dark and dead.
There are no footfalls, and the one soft sound
Is of the oily water as it glides
Under stone bridges, and along the sides
Of its deep flume, to some vague ocean bound.
None lives to tell when that stream washed away
Its dream-lost region from the world of clay.
oil, inspired by Worrell, there’s no vampire lady, more architecture based than lady based, less Poey than Frank Lloyd Wrighty, no trace of oil, an image you would think of, like scum, mental oil, Richard Corben’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Canal, a mystery city, The Music Of Eric Zann, these mystery cities, a great name for a guy who loves death, poems with this imagery, a river, a canal, or a stream, What The Moon Brings, I hate the moon, The Nightmare Lake, the corpse of a god, a tarn, so brutal, the slime beneath the unmoving waters of the canal, a slimy muddy expanse, The Crawling Chaos, his horror nightmares, The Night Ocean by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft, to rest a weary mind, the same psychology, The Lake, the most wondrous delight, which version, from Tamarlane And Other Poems,
In youth’s spring, it was my lot
To haunt of the wide earth a spot
The which I could not love the less;
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound.
And the tall pines that tower’d around.
But when the night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot — as upon all,
And the wind would pass me by
In its stilly melody,
My infant spirit would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.
Yet that terror was not fright —
But a tremulous delight,
And a feeling undefin’d,
Springing from a darken’d mind.
Death was in that poison’d wave
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his dark imagining;
Whose wild’ring thought could even make
An Eden of that dim lake.
almost not dark enough to be Poe until the last quarter, a children’s book of Poe’s poems for children, Annabelle Lee, The Loved Dead, a ghostly couple hovering over that lake, two ghosts rather than one, place and fate, I could care less, which vs. witch, under a spell, wild bewildering, bound, Archibald Lampman, multi-valence, bound = tied up = springing = the boundary, this is a suicide note, his youngest young, solace homophone with soul-less, a very Poe poem, the horror of existence, the tremulous delight, that’s night fright or cold, that’s excitement, an amazing suicide note to give to kids to read, all the virtues of suicide, parent teacher meetings, no suicides yet, keeping things in the open, sometimes people go nuts, you need to talk to a doctor, the May 1953 issue of Weird Tales has a letter from Everil Worrell saying how much she enjoyed Lovecraft’s writing, The Supreme Witch, Slime is terrific, cosmic and spatial about the dark ocean, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, The Raft, The Egyptian, The Dream Merchant, agree with Lovecraft’s detractors, Lovecraft vocabulary, “foul mephitic vapours”, horrific ululations, it wasn’t so much Lovecraft did but how he did it, a really good mom, you can be a horrible monster loving graveyard sniffing weirdo and also be a good mom, it gives Wayne hope, you’re going to love The Loved Dead, such a delight to read, so extreme, its not going to show you, on the corpse board, and he’s a serial killer too, Kissed (1996), We So Seldom Look On Love, a tasteful necrophiliac film, actors to play the corpses, a letter story from a 13 year old girl, in love with the corpses, freaky deaky, everybody needs some body to love, the puns about necrophilia.
Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.