The SFFaudio Podcast #687 – People Of The Black Circle by Robert E. Howard; read by Mark Nelson
This unabridged reading of the story (3 hours 34 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Trish E. Matson, Alex, and Connor Kaye.
Talked about on today’s show:
when “the”, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Savage Sword Of Conan adaptation, 116 page adaptation, feeling that text raw, the 1982 Conan movie is a really good movie, lifting a lot from this, it is all of the Howard stories, our counter hero is done with you now, spear through his gut, Thulsa Doom, come to me my child, the magic system, the snake transformation, The Frost Giant’s Daughter, Robert E. Howard’s Greatest Conan Story, what you like about Conan, political wheeling and dealing, how to make your writing better, the three ways of viewing movies, the auteur theory, the star theory, the genre theory, Poe copy, looking for Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane, more paid by the word than usual, rushing through it, broad strokes and hinting, Conan The Buccaneer by Lin Carter and Fritz Leiber, cool intrigue, when the Devi, really good chess movement, Planet Of Iron Shadows?, Iron Shadows In The Moon, pirates, how the story actually works, three adaptations, Ablaze’s French translation, Dark Horse, Marvel’s full SSOC adaptation, gorgeous, atmospheric, action panels, covered in veils and things, trades clothes with the hill woman, smoky mystic, half naked before and half naked again, Alfredo Alcala’s inks are unfinished, John Buscema’s pencil’s, rocks are beautiful, scales and turbans and clouds of dust, the decline in comics, what happened to comics, Ablaze is muddy looking, sorta manga style, when they get angry people go manga, his proportions are wrong, he looks like a mutant, a cartoon aesthetic, not enough nudity, butt and sideboob, her regression scene, one of the best scenes in all of Conan, Skull-Face, “I’ve kissed ladies from Hell”, so good, the shell of the story, the Devi is on a revenge quest, Conan is trying to be a leader, admitting responsibility towards his men, the mark of a leader, Queen Of The Black Coast is run by Belit, Yezdigerd, why all of this plot is happening, agents, Thoth Amon, the King of Turan, gaining the kingship not administering the kingdom, betraying and intriguing, the names, servants of the seers, a little carelessness, action, Conan is very Conan, stupid magic belt, Yasmina, Evan shares a lot of Trish’s views, political factions and relations, who is loyal to who, that really long climax, the transformation into the bird, the forces of sorcery, decadent empire and barbarism, the class element, Gitara, what is Gitara’s motivation to convert Green Turban, does she really love him?, I’ll make you king, outside of her powers, you’re a powerful man, he could have challenged me, both baddies, they’re both slaves, Howard is ambivalent about a lot of things Evan isn’t, smashing elites, the individual within a corrupt society, forge an empire of our own, you’re powerful and I’m tricky, an underdetermined character, a Great Game story, Iraqis, pre-Iraq, Afghulis, Iranistanis, what’s missing is he doesn’t get to fight a tiger, giant snakes, giant eagle, Conan is never really in India, Kull fights tigers, a wizard dressed up as a tiger, a book of essays about Robert E. Howard, real geography, Himalayas, the Zaibar Pass is the Khyber Pass, Afghanistan, an El Borak story with Conan, is Turan Persia or Turkey?, the Vilyaet Sea, the Aral Sea not the Black Sea, Iron Shadows In The Moon, mid northern asia border with Europe-ish, Buddhist evil priests, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, they’re from the Mysterious East, out of The Shadow, anti-Buddhists, a Fu Manchu style Buddhists, red dust and blue dusts, prayer wheels, a perfectly calm, Buddhist sash thing on his head, he’s a lich, a lecherous lich, catch the Devi, the genre vs. the medium, it feels like a serial but it isn’t a serial, Flash Gordon serials, lets make this longer, feeling the drag, Vale Of Lost Women cooks, the ending is pristine, I’ve still got men, the dog attacking a guy is there to fill pages, a bunch of challenges, a boss fight, that’s how you get paid, a D&D module, the belt of magical resistance, Conan doesn’t have a magic sword or a loyal horse, its wielded by Robert E. Howard, the “Atlantean sword” shit, Conan fights a giant magnet, Conan fighting a polar bear, Conan has to fight magic because its Weird Tales, the power of evil wizards moving the plot, you’re to stupid to know what it is: $250 vs. $50, four parallel characters, Yasmina’s vs. Gitara’s third eye (her Bindi), the loss of vocabulary is palpable, “lambent”, pages of no dialogue and no text, great, good, bad, and terrible all on one page, three shadows and a nightstand, elf-style ears and facial piercings, its a reveal he’s a lich, no I’m just a man but I command demons, the psychological torture of living through reincarnation cycles, she’s humbled, household drudgery, back beyond the dimmest dawn, skin clad, looms, dragged, the bite of the lash, the bloody block, Alfredo Alcala, Big John Buscema, are doing it without reference materials, two words for throw, he hurl throwed, Savage Sword was the Golden Age, Roy Thomas, Ernie Chan (Chua), a decline and a decline and a decline, we think it is the character that we like, hard to sell an El Borak story?, some bias against going to places and learning things, Thomas Jane, handsome actor, a local sidekick, demons and armies and the , The Fire Of Ashurbanipal, Steve Clarny, Swords Of Schaharazar, Hawks Of The Hills, The Lost Valley Of Iskander, lost valley trope, The Lost Valley, Temple Of Doom doesn’t exist without this story, guy has his heart ripped out, modeled on the movies, some ladies in the jungle, snake footage, magic items in the bible, an excuse to go to India and China, visiting a place but not as tourists, the gross out scenes, presented with food that you can’t eat, Stephen Spielberg’s ex-wife is the kid character, Short Round is our viewpoint Mary Sue, the stupid and the smart the cool and the uncool, pairing Conan up with a bunch of regulars, Crom is a repeating character, why Evan is having trouble finding something to say, Howard’s philosophy is not intellectual as it is honorable, when confronted with the problem of her clothes are on, a man should kill a woman if she’s too dangerous, slaps her on the butt and she accepts it as a complicated, doing the monkey dance, how do I as an individual interact with the world, why Yasmina is such a good character, the Conan Destroyer princess, human beings acting in the world, when Green Turban refuses to die, you get him for me, ate his salt, Solomon Kane is insane and there are no demons (but he’s doing his best), I guess I have to use this magic staff, why these weird plots happen, doomed hirelings, they’re fucked and they know it, coming away with a philosophy of what his ideas are, how to live in the world in the moment, his feminist moment, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as to Yasmina, a classist person, not thrilled to be slapped on the butt, an appreciation not a denigration, not a fan of royalty, The Hour Of The Dragon, Xaltotun is the best villain, plans, give me your horse and I’ll save you, we can’t get married, chief of the guard, there are customs, we’ll work it out, I have a very nice harem you can be a part of, she literally kills him, horrible childbirths in her retrogression, silly putty, she knew the agonizes of childbirth, Solitude Of Self, individual struggle with nature that women experience but men don’t, Russian roulette, Robert E. Howard is not wedded to Conan the way we are, the last set of stories were Conan tales, had he lived, classifying his stories by character, that poem is really hot (or rough), Delenda Est by Robert E. Howard, the star is the important thing, the new Dune half movie, a bunch of models, Dark Horse, people standing in scenic locations, no text scrawl, no banquet scene, the beats of the action, it doesn’t capture what is the story, the monster beats, Robert e. Howard philosophy infodumps, the descriptions, C.L.A.I.M.: Character Language Allusion Imagery Message, what is the message of the new Dune movie, Sardukar complaining about things, explaining the weirding way in a film, transmuting poison in your body, showing buffed up people, who wants to do a Conan story vs. who wants to do a Robert E. Howard story, thinking of the setting and the setup, marketing purposes, scenes, ideas, and philosophy too, a princess who has been captured by a cult, Thulsa Doom’s cult, Red Nails, Valeria, mostly Belit, The Tower Of The Elephant, Oliver Stone and John Milius, to string the plot together, the weirding modules in the first Dune (1984) movie, Conan isn’t a character in the stories as much as they are stories with Conan in them, a backstory, an unhappy brooding king, By This Axe I Rule, tidbit of philosophy, listen to the philosophers, he kills the judge, trying to connect all the stories together, they don’t really understand, it isn’t just swords and giant snakes, an individual with an unhelpful god, treat it like an auteur rather than a star, Quentin Tarantino movies in different genres, telling yarns, the fun action adventure stuff, an idea somewhere in it, how to relate to women, he likes hot women, rape and threats of rape, how to relate to the weaker sex, be a man about it, the barbarian from outside, the savage vs. the barbarian, his own code, the distinction Lovecraft didn’t get, he’s the Jordan Peterson of Weird Tales, a moral code, a set of attitudes, what is, a magic system, hypnotism, a set of tricks that they work, an illusion?, a lock of hair, autosuggestion, he’s not as afraid of them, magic works on success, D&D rolling a 1, illusionists, the dog outside of the temple eating the offal, he is defeatable, becoming an eagle, we needed a tiger, fingernails, how witches work in the real world, my penis doesn’t work anymore, somebody’s balls swelled up, superstition makes you more superstitious, people are suggestible, your milk goes sour, they can kill the king with a lock of his hair (when the stars are right), his cortisol levels are high, fleeing the village, Khemsha, stampeded by Conan’s horse, his magic doesn’t matter, stepped on by a horse, a knife is a hardy incantation, hey Gitara how do you like that ride on our air horse?, cloud things, whirling dervishes, Paul got his 3rd shot, Gibraltar has 130% vaccination and full of COVID, like a magic charm, if we are to believe the science, sympathetic magic, why things happen as they do, really ugly, an earthquake in Haiti is punishment from God, magical thinking vs. Jack Vance style spells, propaganda techniques, the Lisan al Gaib, fighting the unbelievable, his muscles are bigger, beginner’s luck, confidence in the steel, the riddle of steel, the hand that wields the steel, only this you can trust, surrogate dad (James Earl Jones), so deluded, the real magic, women going through the streets of England putting white feathers on men during WWI, an attitude as well as knowledge, be an empiricist vs. be a rationalist, spinning up bullshit, Plato, the gold blooded and the silver and the bronze, this person is a natural slave, a natural leader, what makes the Devi divine is that her dad was the Rajah, Yasmina Devi, Genghis Khan, a backwards translation, through myth and 10,000 years she’s a goddess now, revenge is her god, the audiobook is a bit hard to follow, what all the factions were and what they wanted, a slow story, the middle section, people reading this in the 1930s knew what lambent is, H. Rider Haggard, we’ve become illiterate, the minimalist and conversational style, for a low class culture, mass market, people loved it, Savage Sword has awesome vocab on every page, we know she’s sad and worried about her son because she’s crying, we need big chunks of text, narration in movies is good, trying to explain a complex, know then it is the year 10,191, plans within plans wheels within wheels, just read the book, the ornithopters are better, they should have been birds not dragonflies, the ornithopter looked like a hawk, so forgettable, the fur diaper, neat and not tattered, he brushed his fur diaper that day, not in league with the devil, Kevin Sorbo’s Kull movie, Red Sonja (1985), supposed to be a comedy, fantastic bad, that scene is in here, Evan’s podcast, the Robert E. Howard Lovecraft letters, Pigeons From Hell was adapted for Thriller, stars two white guys, a black legend (folk tale), sleeping in an old plantation house, interesting revenge (symbolically), more pathos to that story, Hansel And Gretel has a sense, people were acting badly, Almuric, one big chunk, restricted zone, some time next year, Klim’s Journey Under The Ground, in the 18th century twice, Caleb Williams by William Godwin, The Goddess Of Atvatabar, The Midwich Cuckoos, The Pre-Persons by Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein’s boy scouts gone wrong in space, revelry, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, Connor doesn’t live on twitter, deep and rich, lemmee give you this magic belt made from Stygian lady’s hair, Alex’s ancestor was convicted of witchcraft in New France, cursed her womb by cutting a piece of her hair off, convicted and exiled, killed by Indians, 12 more kids, 11 kids, he might have actually been a witch, Alex’s last name is “Lich”, in the family archives, a convicted witch, Joan Of Arc, what a jerk, villains in Alex’s family, When Time Turned by Ethel Watts Mumford, like Back To The Future without a Delorean, The Clock That Went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell, Reading, Short And Deep, set in the Netherlands, written disposably, half of Wisconsin, really well written, a historical siege scene, all the tropes (from 1881), Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle, The Ganymede Takeover, Benjamin Franklin, The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, WWII and boxing journalism, Henry James, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, trying to make it hard for you to understand, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, the Civil War, Stephen Crane, Walt Whitman, make bank, Jack London, Herman Melville, lunchtime upside down, Solomon’s Gold, overwhelmed with work, a month on Egypt, classroom management, the students disrespect Evan, dig into their computer, insane coworkers, Evan can’t out himself as a freak (yet), Ancient Egypt, bad textbook, Kufu was a cruel pharaoh, the poor didn’t need mummification because they were buried in shallow graves, its not a work of love, Works Progress Administration, I’ve been told that Biden is the new FDR, Walker Evans taking photographs of people working in Walmart and living in the vans, New Deal money putting artists and musicians to work, all the bridges were built in the 1930s, interviewing former slaves, giving money to rich people, the vaccine mandate is exactly that, government research money, an NFT game, blockchain, “we got funded”, it sounds like a scam, web 2.0 was a scam, Pets.com, why Elon Musk is so rich, Bezos sells servers to the US government, planting the seeds, omicron variant, Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick, booster shots in perpetuity, fear moves money better than anything else, you can’t mandate, a healthy response, the weird nanny state in Taiwan, the pet industry, pet nannies, licensing pet nannies, I’m an unlicensed pet nanny, you need the barbarians to sweep in, wipe away (some) of the old, clean up your own room (style of thinking) vs. communism will solve all our problems, these emerging men, you need to get your house in order, stupid when off topic smart when on topic, trad dads, interpreting the bible, funny Bible stories, a book of fairy tales, Howard is highly influenced by the Bible, The Song Of Solomon, three volumes with big print.
The SFFaudio Podcast #674 – The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft – read by Steve Mann. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (8 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Trish E. Matson, and Jason Thompson
Talked about on today’s show:
The Tryout, November 1920, Weird Tales, Fantastic Novels, Hannes Bok, a girl or a young woman, cats looking very satisfied with themselves, 3 pages or 8 minutes, 88 shows mentioning The Cats Of Ulthar, most of them are not in English, the best introduction to Lovecraft, a lot of little things that work as an introduction, witches, wandering weirdos, foreigners, geographies, are the couple witches?, they’re witch-ish, ogres, frightening, can this be read subversively, sorry Trish, why is this such a popular story, the narrator is present, a murder mystery, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, popular to least popular, At The Mountains Of Madness, this fictional list, Old Bugs, The Wicked Clergy Man, a scultping contest, this story sucks, the sound of the bees, the beekeeper tells the narrator, who tells the story, we know, what do you remember?, the reason people don’t like that story is they don’t get it, telegraphed from the beginning, the wrath of Bast, super-simple, people love cats, has cats in the title, not that much racism in it, the mysterious dark foreigners are the good guys sort of, catskins nailed all over the wall, eating them?, a meanspirited old couple, what people in the town are saying, hiding the truth, we gotta burn these manuscripts, a push pull, the beetles, scarabs, Dreamlands, what of their spirits?, did the cats steal their souls?, sucking the baby’s breath, activating the cats, the circularity, who is the narrator?, purring before the fire, the last image of the story (in Jason’s adaptation), sexily vs. hungrily, the dog lies patiently until it starves to death, the cat will eat you, a village full of cats ate a couple, the heroes are the cats, the moral simplicity of an EC comic, questioning the validity of the human eating cats, all he did was jaywalk, The Terrible Old Man, home invade a pirate from 3 centuries ago, gypsies vs. travelers, the Roma people of Europe, India and Alexander the great, the India connection, where the word Egypt comes from Menes, pre-Egyptian, another possible source, the dark wanderers in Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, turban wearing, such frightened and passive people, live in a hovel, they’re treated like witches, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret Murray, Christians who believe in , a fairy tale, Diodorus Siculus heard it from some crocodile god priests, all the things that are being described, not only Bast, their quiet mien, the referent is missing, the mother of all these cats?, before and beyond human Earth history, definitely (kind of) in the Dreamlands, Polaris on its own, Meroe, Nubia, a lost port mentioned in the Bible, the connections come later, ex post facto in the Dreamlands, resurrect them?, every cat was back, dead or busy feasting, telling fortunes, investigate the cotter’s cottage, still extant cats, cats on a mission, dream like, dream logic, reason to be skeptical, the villagers are always getting it wrong, sacrificed, coyotes are a serious issue, real life experience, gossip, baseless, the villagers sicced this little boy and his magic on that couple and got even though they are innocent, gullible gods, tricking the gods, they show up in the sky, Scooby Doo, no Nancy Drew activities, the follow up to the Cats Of Ulthar, the gods fucked up, the fallibility of the divine, the Greek gods every day of the week, I want vengeance, a devotee, his parents are already dead, almost like a storm, the gods are obedient to those who are believe in them, vernacular tradition, non-institutionalized beliefs, passed on by spoken words, the common people know about it, the Esoteric Order Of Dagon has some metal plates they pass around, folktales before they get written down, the opening sentence, Skai, the Yann river, no man may kill a cat, the species is male?, who are we?, retconned around Kadath time, the past vs. a dream, if only the dream had been set not in ancient Greece, the fairytalishness, the realm of myth, long ago and far away as many fairy tales say, who the narrator is usually matters, the wagon leaving the town, a tour of Innsmouth, the burgers, why are you telling me all their names, look at the list of characters who show up, sustaining a mood, he’s trying to tell us about the purpose of this law is, why?, the burgers pass a law, it becomes a folk belief, mouths to feed, bag in the river, the story of Moses, this Egyptian quality, Egypt is the breadbasket for Rome, food is wealth, the mousers vs. the pets, eatin the rodents that will eat your grain, myth vs. propaganda, what a stan is, Lovecraft is a cat stan, not the dogs of Ulthar, what do dogs do, dogs bark, bears three days a week, there to protect to the property, hungry bears, many many odes to cats, cat love, propaganda for cats, a wish fulfillment story, that tiny black kitten, cat lives are worth more than human lives to Lovecraft, the roving folk, Egyptians in all but name, their magic, their magic show, Evan’s story about losing his cat, knowing how devious Lovecraft can be, The Rats In The Walls has a cat, Delapore eats another man, still defending them, a swarm of rats, the cat is the hero, you’re crazy man, “I, as a cat, will not support this cannibalism”, Jesse derailing, The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, your house burned down because of a cat, The Raven, working on a psychological level, why does it take so long to get to the point, so obviously put together that way, an untrustworthy story, Evan is neutral, the townspeople are dumb, no police arresting people for killing cats, what scarabs were, we don’t know what scarabs are, amulets placed in the wrappings, tradable items, we don’t know why they’re there, Egyptology, Egytpomania, another Egypt-ism, eating of the dead, a cleansing of the evil of what they did, the cleansing mechanism, not a memorable story,
On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the time-stained blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an old bee-keeper who lives in the neighboring cottage told me a different story.
a shared studio, the townspeople report, such good friends, the story of the fall,
However, the Syracusans obtained after a while a very splendid statue in Athens, and the Tegeans consoled themselves by erecting in the agora a marble temple commemorating the gifts, virtues, and brotherly piety of Musides.
city vs. country, one is better than the other,
But the olive grove still stands, as does the tree growing out of the tomb of Kalos, and the old bee-keeper told me that sometimes the boughs whisper to one another in the night wind, saying over and over again. “Oida! Oida!—I know! I know!”
hiding the truth The White ApeThe Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, to hide the truth, his grandma was a monkey, there’s sometimes a key, sometimes they are straightforward?, half more again as complex as this one?, The Street, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, The Whisperer In Darkness, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Lurking Fear, pay attention, beefy guys, he needs a lot of meat, The Strange High House In The Mist, a lot of weird stuff happens, not straightforward but simple, this outside frame, we’re not supposed to trust, picky about his own work, Philip K. Dick, a personal favourite, S.T. Joshi, walks in the forest, letters about cats, the College Street address, a gang of feral cats living on his roof, if Lord Dunsany the dog guy meets the cat guy, Dean Spanley, a great sense of humour, The Book of Wonder, a randy centaur, Bride Of The Man-Horse, its the getting there that’s fun part, how men should court women, how centaurs get their brides, a Dunsany imitation in terms of style, 7-10 minutes to read, ebullient detail, once per week, The Idler, filling pages for the idle rich, not the ideal Weird Tales story, a Clark Ashton Smith adaptation, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a retconned cosmology, The White Ship and Celephais, a cats themed comic anthology, a comic twist at the end, these smiling cats, ambiguous intent, lest they kill us, who is this law for?, how the Ultharians feel about it, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, the most dreamlandsy one, chronologically, its before people, almost like he’s talking to Robert E. Howard in that one, the psychology is implicit, sometimes a story is just a story, readers in the 1920s, that level of morbidity is day to day for us, extra gross for 1920s readers?, Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allan Poe, too gross, Wastelands by W. Scott Poole, horror has its birth after WWI, the symbolists, The Troop by Nick Cutter, PG-13, this is not supposed to be a horror story, folktales and household tales, more than humans, add more magic to the story, drag out linger, so much detail, Sergio Aragonés, some guy with nemes on, a German beer stein, there’s beer, what they’re making with those crops, a pseudo Germanic look for Ulthar, the curls of an Egyptian, ankh everywhere, two gods, Ibis, the staff is an open mouth with teeth, Lovecraft foreshadows with a magic spell, repetition a symmetrical thing, all the animals are playing cutesy roles, a wellness check, a kind of horror, a mode, terrible youth trauma, return to the Dreamlands role playing game, their giant noses and their blank eyes and their implements, for the people are simple, four cats suckling, a sphinx, all ayres book of dallaire book of Greek and Norse myths, Echidna the mother of monsters, weird slug woman, the baby hydra and the baby sphinx, exiled to a cave, Cerberus is a they, tentacles, gimme milk gimme milk, added blood, you have to love them anyways, licking their genitals, motherhood is difficult for humans!, firm but gentle, the cats of Saturn, a gamification thing, Jason’s drawing game, Mangacon Cartooner, like Pictionary but producing comics, get the most fame points possible, you have to sell out to whatever trend, so meta, Evan made a huge mistake, fan service, obsession cards, giant sword, three point landing, gamifying his own letters, worldbuilding, the Lovecraft industry is a huge industry, uncountable unnameable, you play dreamers, drawn from Dunsany, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, the sanity mechanism, go mad or die, memory resources, spend memories, performing marvels, Randolph Carter lost his memories of Providence, creating monsters out of the air, dream logic, Carter remembers he can speak nightgaunt, he always spoke nightgaunt, coincidental magic, conjuring cats, what’s the core activity?, go on dream quests, fairy tale style quests, breaking the pillars of Dreamland, as a responsible dreamer, a plague of fairies, word currency, 300 word cards, make little speeches, blasphemous, wonder, and road, an excuse to be eloquent, the Jack Vance role playing game, The Dying Earth, interesting and fun, dialogue with each other, why don’t you try to make friends with these ghouls?, Horror On The Hill, charisma rolls, neanderthals on the team, DREAMRPG.com, look at this art, its stunning!, that lady with a mask, the watchseller selling digital clocks!, The Call Of Cthulhu: Dreamlands, modern tech doesn’t work, its infinite, continually expanding, the distance between spaces grows greater and greater, like the distances between the stars, low tech vs. modern tech, in Jason’s headcanon…, stuck in the Dark Ages, an existential ramble, a zoog hiding in curtain by the hookah, some lich guy hanging out, the attention to tiny details, “yeah, she’s a medusa what of it?”, where I go to get my equipment for my dreamquest, this is awesome awesome dreamstuff, semi-announced, an Edgar Allan Poe module, an Oz module, Dreamland, Ulalume, a list of dreamers and stats for them, outside of time, they’re dreamselves, established in Celephais, a message in a bottle from two centuries later, Fungi From Yuggoth: Continuity, dream psychiatrist stories, Dreamscape, Inception, trying to tap into deep time (eternity), the Jungian dreamlands, Lovecraft’s conception of the cosmos as an eternal machine, mechanistic, grinding towards the heat death, paradoxes, all night and all day, Jamieson by Margaret St. Clair, just happy to be there, a kind of a Jorkens style story, through the hole in the wall, tiny little grape press, forever cursed to walk the earth, basuto wood and moon grapes for the moonwine, straight out of dreamquest, Dunsany style, epic mythological vs. Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman goofy, Paul’s play by email diceless RPG: Strange Bedfellows, set in the world of Roger Zelazny, expanding into a dreamspace, stealing shamelessly, contact the dreamer, Kij Johnson’s Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe, a complete stylistic pastiche, The Riverbank by Kij Johnson (a stylistic doppleganger of The Wind In The Willows), when those letters come out, his family is very rich, what dirt he has, is there anybody that’s better documented than Lovecraft?, thank you, kid oriented D&D stuff.
The SFFaudio Podcast #671 – The Watcher At The Threshold by John Buchan – read by Connor Kaye. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (55 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, and Connor Kaye
Talked about on today’s show:
Harper’s, December 1900, distraight is a word, distraight is distracted, hearth, fucking deep!, the reference level, operating on a different continent, an earlier period, Supernatural Horror In Literature, August Derleth, The Lurker at the Threshold, the first half, Evan’s bike, prepared for the subtext, folk horror as a genre, the earliest examples of folk horror, a weird tales with hints of folk horror, so good, its hard, nothing happens in this story, coffee and dinner, a restaurant in a small town nearby, an email or something, better than a lot of Lovecraft stories, kinda banal on the service, a friend going around the bend, that moment on that ride together, the evening in the library, Roman history, Roman law, just a few paragraphs, all this happens in the very very end of the story, scenes we can read out, way deeper, hallucinating a little bit, clearer simpler movie, The Grove Of Ashtaroth, no girl, set in Africa (probably Rhodesia), Roman/Scottish folk horror, Semitic folk horror, dynamite and shotgun everything, a descent into a cave, Ash Tree Press, another of Buchan’s weird tales No Man’s Land, take the best scenes in making a comic, a dog cart and a lady at the door, don’t look at that sculpture over there, the narrator is a bit odd, the narrator is a lawyer on vacation, he’s come from Norway, a storycap, in love with his cousin, our narrator is not interested in the story (as much as his cousin), he’s kinda dumb but good at dropping all the hints, the opening, 189_, why is he hiding the year from us, a “true story”, the footnote also makes it a “true story”, lustful after a cousin, I can take her away from here and we can be together (and dump this guy), a familial duty, a former love, she was better off to marry him, he was in love with her, there to service her needs (not his), there’s some sort of underlying thing going on, where he got this from, underdeveloped for a modern audience, not a rip-roaring, The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, this mid-Atlantic region, Buchan has read Poe, a great setup, what kind of disease does this guy have?, a venereal disease, no successful treatment for the Maupassant disease, The Horla etc., syphilis, a disease of the heart, his left side, always talking about woodcocks, a hillclimb?, billiards, our narrator is dumb, a “sun-worshipper”, the moor is indistinct, he’s not a weird fiction fan, Ladlaw, his disastrous trip to Norway for the hunting, never explained, grumpy the whole time, the case is not going well, eager to get back, too weird for me, I can’t solve it, way to uncomfortable, compared with the fresh highland glen all was chilly and dull and dead, a very bad temper, other John Buchan works, the Clan Roydens, you know the house., who is he talking to?, on the moors, walks and hunts and fishes, pleasant people in the house, a fortnight in Norway, overly dramatic, he just likes shooting, when we finally get to the letter, a PS and another PS, my affectionate cousin, laidlow, Bob is terribly ill and I’m crazy, it is not doctor’s business, he’s dying, she has the same infection, a whole other level to his researches playing a role, shotgunning a goddess, 100% supernatural vs. a supernatural story (a possession story) and venereal disease, Barry Pain, laurels, death figure and life figure, Madam Blavatsky and the Theosophists, a symbolist painting, talking about his left side, kinda dumb, its the devil, in the universe of the story, Justinian making a deal with the devil, Laidlaw, Sybil, Theodora, hip deep in Theosophy, Falun Gong, congregationalist church with theosophy on the side, why this story is so weird, technical things, why is Lovecraft so racist, not everybody was into Theosophy, not ancient Biblical stuff, very specifically about Justinian, law school for a minute, he doesn’t read that much, I’m not going to tell you the story as he said it, set it down exactly as it is said, our narrator than the audience, John Buchan is laying it down so heavy, page 802, three fools alone in the dank upland, gobbling his food and getting scared at his napkin, a mad tea party with a vengeance, the doormouse and the hatter, Alice In Wonderland, Theodora -> a doormouse -> a watcher by the threshold, watching her husband at the threshold of death, very atmospheric and moody, gruesome and spooky, they don’t have any ducks for me to shoot, The Tomb, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, details about ancient defensive structures, a Yithian taking him over?, a reincarnation?, a past life exposed by this illness?, what he’s been doing, it used to be full of books about badminton, neat and scholarly (I hated it), horses and shooting, how much time doing Lovecraftian research, the secret history of Justinian, all real books, roll against Library Science, made a deal with the devil, The Thing On The Doorstep, The Shadow Out Of Time, the relationship between Scotland and Justinian, the Roman Inheritance: Christianity and Law, Edward Bulwer Lytton’s Zanoni, confronted by every aspirant, really lame spirituality, it covers everything, Justinian and Theodora are both saints, how they’re really rotten, an evil whore actress, an egoist, how much labour is involved in keeping the estate up, the town is full of poor people, a groom, the employee, they want to go on vacation, a class criticism, the narrator is unaware of class, Robert -> Robin, his sinister side, more bookish, Justinian’s bust, the spirit of Justinian was inside the bust?, the footnote, sleeping trouble, Delacroix Byzantium, the intertextual, The Horla theory, the disease that shall not be named, infected with Justinian’s disease, right up to but not including Scotland, The Rats In The Walls, 18th century England and Rome, John Buchan was an imperialist, WWI, The Thirty Nine Steps, on the path of being responsible for the extinction of a goddess, friends at school, some sort of fascinating connection, “going to seed”, they come into their flower and then go to seed, seedy = disreputable, why Poe and Lovecraft are so different, there are bigger issues than girls, the role of Justinian, he’s a Lovecraftian character, the most basic interpretation, the same spirit or demon, he recognized his own symptoms, Secret History by Procopius, this is an echo of that, textual verification, an amorphous shadow, the divide between the spiritual world and the modern reality, something’s attached to him through that divide, sundown syndrome, you lawyers, sounds like Lovecraft talking, this Mannan, the real landscape, the red earth and the red rock and the red streams of the hills, a new gospel, it would kill materialism, the poets who have deified nature, the profundity, the shaggy somber eyed forefather, wise wise, a queer land nowadays, inscrutable, an important part of this story, reading it literally, the Howard Lovecraft debate about civilization, law tames it, the Mad Hatter, the basic laws of the Enlightenment, 1900, fin de siecle, the yellow nineties, at a precipice, a gilded age, hints of Nietzsche, law can save us, getting that empire back, why is the land red red red, what’s missing is all the people, the Picts, what we think they were like, druids vs. the national spirit of Germany, Tacitus, Buchan’s a Scot who’s part of Empire, servants of Empire, this Empire shit is really bad, keeps the books on rich people’s investments, Montrose by John Buchan, the Jacobites are mentioned, a billiards game sort of story, I would show you the back of simple nature, the groom, I must have speed or go mad, til the ghoulish elder world, a solitary lit window, the red desert?, we’re having trouble picking it all up, putting all the work in, not filmable, a comedic narrator character, I’m a simple guy, I just like shooting things, how’s he gonna help?, the house literally cracks apart and collapses into the surrounding tarn, a metaphor for venereal disease, where are the kids in this family?, the house of MORE, the end of the cycle of empire, we’ve reached our peak, its all downhill from there, Buchan is very much like Ladlaw, photos of Buchan as Governor General in Canada, all the native tribes, Indians, Innu, and Inuit, when the royals come to Canada, you’re a part of the tribe now, a plains Indian headdress, the royal estate, the natives have a closer relationship to Britain than Canada does, Lord Beaverbrook, neo-Jacobites, the Stuart heirs, the divine right of kings, the Scottish kings, political conservatism, send him to Australia, in a way that the Welsh aren’t, engineers of Empire are Scottish, Airstrip One etc., either Scottish independence or a Jacobite restoration, more Buchan, The Green Wildebeest, No Man’s Land by John Buchan, way out into the moors of Scotland, Picts, Worms Of The Earth by Robert E. Howard, brutal but also wise, action packed!, less deep?, he got a writing career in addition, The Thirty-Nine Steps is a potboiler, parallel to this house of More, page 805, the actress harlot devotee, shapeless thing at his side, he dumb, the man in the chair before me, grim earnest, nonsense or no, devilish fancy, two inappropriate laughs, you doofus, he’s a real jerk, horribly anxious, giggling to himself, so insensitive, camped out outside the library, its the devil, oh, you’re serious, always dismissing, wry senses no jokes, clever wordplay, we see it as funny because of our distance, mooching, his ecosystem, Clan Roydens, his Lovecraftian universe, being a Scottish Lord, filing off the serial numbers, a very realistic story, for money, endless vacation time, non-productive lords, a slight realization, all built on labour and the deaths of people who lived here, the official histories are followed by the secret histories, a small incident among upper class twits, a hypocrite but he admits it, subversive in the sense that these upper class people are fucked, Will Emmons says science fiction comes in lots of different flavours but fantasy is for elitists, an Irish Lord and an Oxford don, diplomat, soldier, and writer, he’s solid, Ambrose Bierce is so subversive of his own text, all irony all the time, he’s having fun, William Gibson is always talking about what things are made of, an ironic overlay, adventurey overlay, stymied at all opportunities, a weird thing to do to your story, what the hell is this, so different and boring (comparatively), Supernatural Horror In Literature, his weirdest story, the atmosphere is great, The Weird And The Eerie by Mark Fisher, what is weird?, what is eerie?, the moor is eerie, this vast empty thing, the situation with Ladlaw was weird, leave it and never resolve, you should know what these things are, no resolution, publishers probably hate that, available as an audiobook, tackling many different films and TV shows and books, Prester John by John Buchan.