The SFFaudio Podcast #687 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The People Of The Black Circle by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

Weird Tales The People Of The Black Circle

Weird Tales The People Of The Black Circle

Weird Tales The People Of The Black Circle

Weird Tales The People Of The Black Circle

Weird Tales The People Of The Black Circle

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SSOC #16 - John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala - People Of The Black Circle

SSOC #17 - People Of The Black Circle

ABLAZE (Ejikure cover) People Of The Black Circle

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The SFFaudio Podcast #674 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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 Ape The 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 Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft

Hannes Bok - The Cats Of Ulthar

Hannes Bok - The Cats Of Ulthar

Jason Thompson - The Cats Of Ulthar

Echidna

Jason Thompson - The Cats Of Ulthar

Jason Thompson - The Cats Of Ulthar

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Jesse Willis - The Cats Of Ulthar

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Jacen Burrows - The Cats Of Ulthar

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The SFFaudio Podcast #668 – READALONG: The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #668 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Marissa VU, and Will Emmons talk about The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

Talked about on today’s show:
1983, time travel fantasy novel, awards, Bronson Pinchot, the best narrator there is, he’s actor good, the accents and the emotions, Grover Gardner, a chameleon, his timing, his best self, Jonathan Davis, mostly fiction, Perfect Strangers, Beverly Hills Cop, The Bronson Pinchot Project, renovating a whole town, Marissa’s pick (along with Scott), a good idea, the stack of to-be-reads, Will’s first Tim, an addictive quality, stuck in time, body parts disappearing, I’m gonna get kidnapped, get murdered, the evil clown, a “generous” book, Last Call, Declare, Gene Wolfeish, gaps in history, a supernatural explanation for an oddity, On Stranger Tides, Homer’s The Odyssey, the Fisher King, Egypt, voodoo magic, World Fantasy, a friend of Philip K. Dick’s, an entertaining person, have this book not be fiction, everything that’s coming, great for readers because it allows us to participate in the book, ripped off many times, so Call Of Cthulhu, body switching, more setups than payoffs, a big long book, connections, obviously obsessed, the Cold War, 1800s, Las Vegas in the 60s 70s, always some magic, the Tim Powers genre, all the research first, weird facts, building the plot to that string of history, William Ashbless, entwined with Coleridge, Dean Koontz’ The Book Of Counted Sorrows, The Stress Of Her Regard, the William Ashbless wikipedia entry, not a romantic poem, walks in the countryside, kind of predictable, James Blaylock, had you said the Blaylock, hideously deformed, the poetical efforts of our deformed friend, The Digging Leviathan by James Blaylock, enjoying himself immensely, good fake romantic poetry, Lord Byron, Marcus Aurelius, the whole frame of the river being frozen with a shotgun pattern in it, Kubla Khan, drowning, the juice of paradise, the milk of the poppy, the visitor from Porlock, opening in Egypt, The Twelve Hours Of The Night, also inspired by the plot, interesting historical facts, this meta stuff, invented and written by no-one, All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, that meta-play, why this book works, that playfulness, if you like role-playing games and magic, entertaining, skating through it, the 17th century trip, the Duke of Monmouth’s rebellion, a little ice age, its dangerous to do these things, other stories set in this universe, is that what we want more of?, Dog-faced Joe, Anubis, expecting a lot more Egyptian stuff, set in the London Hoboverse, a hobo simulator: Hobo: Tough Life, steampunk, there’s practically no steam in this at all, that meeting hall, the thieves guild, very Dungeons & Dragons, the grifter’s guild, playing up to Charles Dickens’ pre-Victorian England, ahistorical or super-historical, the Punch & Judy show, how people engage with puppets, when a puppet calls you out and you get mad at the puppet, ventriloquist dummy, there’s nothing funnier than that, these puppets are more than puppets, steal all this for your D&D campaign, Call Of Cthulhu, Vampire The Masquerade, is Dog-faced Joe Anubis?, making Egypt for Egyptians, time gates, weird powers, cursed with lycanthropy, a magical disease, make Egypt great again, P. Djèlí Clark, Anubis’s heiroglpyh: a pen or a feather a wavy line a box or a cup a bird or a jackal (or a wolf), where’s my Anubis content?, other expeditions, secret history stuff, images produced for this book, a wall, Anubis, somebody passing through a gate within Anubis, he’s the god of Death, Dog-faced Joe is immortal, live your life backwards, become the richest person ever, rule the earth, wills (and testaments) are a way of extending your life beyond your life, their will lives on, their estate has a founding document, a very Egyptian thing, totally looted, all the big graves are looted, a little bit to be said about why the magic works in the timegaps, the manna is higher, very Larry Niven-esque, very Tim Powers-y, playing by a different set of rules, maybe a little more cringey, Jesse doesn’t think about Declare ever, Fred Heimbach, dark evil forces, allows participation in the reading, On Stranger Tides, Elizabeth Bear, Will’s extra homework: a Laser Book: Blake’s Progress by Ray Nelson, a giant battle scene, a thousand wives fighting a thousand lizard gods, if you ate some of William Blake’s brain, his poetry proves he is a time traveler, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, John Keats, the pre-Joycean fellowship, Mary Shelly, John Polidori, romanticism and science fiction go together, the break between realism and science fiction, they know about science but they don’t choose to be clinical, the romantics fit, Ozymandius by Percy Shelley, One-Eyed Jack by Elizabeth Bear, urban fantasy, historical fantasy, Lies Of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, medieval urban fantasy, We Are Seven by William Wordsworth, buried twelve steps from your door, struggles with depression, 2006, Gentlemen Bastards, secondary world novels, The Sin In The Steel by Ryan Van Loan, The Councillor by E.J. Beaton, books in other worlds, all the dwarves and elves, building up a secondary world, Rocky XVIII, Star Trek, all the movies in the Enterprise database, The Strange Case Of Mr. Cigars, Bride Of Chaotica, reverse lore, where were all the books Bilbo was reading in Rivendell, do the Rohirim don’t know how to write?, memorized poems, the aliens from Galaxy Quest (1999), Andy Serkis recording The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, Alternate Routes by Tim Powers, Earthquake Weather, Expiration Date, Forced Perspective, its the communists [at Baen] demanding series, latter day sequels, an Anubis Gates story, Subterranean Press, Philip K. Dick, weird inklings, Lego versions, The Laughing Dead (1989), priests and nuns oh my, fun book, the dwelling, under 15 hours, novellas are the best, let the cat in.

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers - illustration by Zeljko Pahek

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The SFFaudio Podcast #626 – READALONG: The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #626 – Jesse, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons, and Trish E. Matson talk about The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker.

Talked about on today’s show:
1903, 1912, there are 7 movie adaptations (at least), audio drama, no comic book adaptations except for one in Graphic Classics, how influential it is, Dracula, Dracula’s Guest, why excised, is it very similar to Dracula or very different from Dracula?, experimental, aka a lawyer, a school teacher, Lucy’s suitor, cowboy, the doctor, the Dutchman, brides don’t get names, not so much in the format, The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft, the coziness, they way American television deals with stuff (its a cop show), Odile Thomas from Hypnogoria, Role Playing Game characters, the antiquarian, the daughter from away, the solicitor, the detective named Daw, a module, cause and effect are reversed, lifting from books, H. Rider Haggard, She, common elements, less problematic, less interesting, to chew over, perfectly okay, what filmmakers have done with it, story breaking, most of the people are breaking it from other versions of the movie, most movie makers watch movies and most novelists read novels, re-make, John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Thing From Outer Space (1951), Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, novels are great at a lot of things, tricking you, the toolset is different, Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971), the Hammer adaptation, the gothic style and mid-sixties fashion sense, period pieces, as Mr Jim Moon pointed out, the new woman, participants, Mina vs. Tera, the Dutchman’s journal, the cartouches, wearing men’s clothes, reincarnation is bullshit, the latest Tom Cruise mummy film, The Mummy (1999), Frankenstein, there is no definitive mummy story, what a general audience knows about mummies, they’re back, they’re cursed, and they’re out to get people, she’s wrapped but not embalmed, making prep for a return, I’m blossoming, this mummy was undead, regular mummydom, I have something here, it would have been a series… Dracula II: He’s Back, what’s going on in Tera’s plan, same plan as Dracula’s, a lost chapter, the earlier gods, back to the source gods, its really cool what she wants to do, go back to the beginning, where the magic is, raarrrh!, Silvio the cat, he has his own version of Tera, the vat is wiser than Margaret, what happens at the end of this novel?, fresh in Will’s brain, she’s back!, a less cynical read than Jesse does, a 5,000 year journey, the new woman, is it a threat?, yes, everybody’s a threat, how cops deal with people, resisting being killed, we’re all like that, you have hands, cup a tea or a slash with the knife, where she’s coming from, she’s a magician, a great sorcerer, she exceeded her teachers, look at her history, she murdered a lot of people, a menace, she goes through with the marriage, why?, not so much a takeover as a fulfillment of a plan, kind of like a detective story, he gets out a magnifying glass, it becomes a different kind of book, that skillset is not leaded, physically taken over by the spirit of Tera, Tera was manipulating the dad all along, a character named Winchester, the Egyptologist, Abel’s bedroom is actually a tomb, do not remove any of the items from it, let me lie in state, all the Egyptian tombs were active places of attendance, grave goods, by right of possession, he is the curse of this mummy, he’s got the agent off to get the lamps, all the deaths that happen in the excavations and expeditions are his responsibility, ways of understanding how people are understanding, The Awakening (1980), The Mystery Of Imagination’s Curse Of The Mummy Tomb (1970), they saved money, visually its more interesting, a teleplay, 100% behind, the country house, the train, the electricity, the difference in tone, happy in her domesticity, a happy life at home with her adoring husband, the sinister ending, decked out in the queen’s garments with a predatory expression on her face, the best adaptation, fashion issues, problematic fashion, stylish, the seven fingers, all the covers, sometimes caressing a jewel, Jesse can’t stop noticing, a sixth and seventh digit, the hand does a lot of extracurricular activities, Guy De Maupassant’s The Hand and The Withered Hand, Swinburne, mummy stuff around the house is like having a Tesla, Raiders Of The Lost Ark has no mummy but it does have a jewel, a pretty bad movie, its a horror movie, a suspense story, a supernatural story, The Omen, a certain tone, set before the novel starts, high concept, the whole story (but backwards), The Mummy Resurrected (2014) aka Resurrection Of The Mummy, super-terrible, on Tubi, The Eternal (1998), Christopher Walken, set in Ireland, a female iron age druidical bog mummy, almost like an art film, narrated from two childrens’ points of view, the curse is alcohol, thanks Jorge Luis Borges and Bram Stroker, a typo or not, a license and a rewrite, Lou Gosset Jr. Bram Stoker’s Mummy, very faithful and a complete mess, The Tomb (1986) deliberately and accidentally entertaining, musical sequences for no reason, not a good movie but also quite interesting, The Jewel Of *The* Seven Stars, this is wrongly titled, the happy ending, why is she evil, the Wikipedia summary of the plot, manipulated by evil Queen Tera, wreak her will on the end, she’s a Corbek, confusing, Heston’s amazing, he’s wearing the neckerchief, 18 years previous, a curse movie, when you look at a movie it tells you about its period, 1970s = divorce and marriage breakup, the wife is still alive, they are rhyming with the original story, servicing their own subconsciousnesses and serving the audiences, Bram Stoker loves this setup, one stranger from the United States, in good faith working together to solve the issue, “the great experiment”, this whirlpool, this orbit of this obsessive egyptologist, Silvio, we get to do with it whatever we want, she’s also a time traveler, one of the most famous novels of the 19th century, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, all the other films that are basically the same story, Lifeforce (1985), The Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Hailey’s comet, a retelling of Dracula (in space), the disappearance of her body, she’s astrally all over the place, she’s a star rover, she’s cosmically aware, where’d he get his money, smuggler drug dealers, Cornish smugglers, re-setup your tomb, all the stars aligned, why it was a craze, a very meta-situation, its not because the Egyptians were obsessed with death, China has mummies from 2,000 years ago, a Chinese mummy, “Lady Dai”, decanted from a mysterious liquid, melons, you can see her tongue, changing lives, windows into a period of time from so long ago, Tera has weaponized our interest, knowledge of forethought, alive again in a physical body, the treasurer with the spear, she wanted to be excavated, English servant, a lower class (?) man who knows evil when he sees it, an elite functionary in a think tank, a weapon for hire, genuinely fascinated, Mad Mike Hoare, Egyptology instead of killing, he’s our klaxon, Silvio is our klaxon, robbing tombs, assuaging European guilt, revenge from a great Empire from 5,000 years ago, a decadent civilization, her evil is less Catholic, she’s willful, I’ve got this whole other system going, why would it be deleted?, it underscores the more bleak vision, the ambiguous ending (1912), why Silvio has seven claws on one foot, its really Silvio’s story, her familiar, cat vs. snake, a grey cat, a tabby, the only female pharaoh of upper and lower Egypt, was Hatshepsut gender fluid?, the trappings of masculinity, her name was obliterated, when we think about kings and queens in ancient days, do whatever they want, financial freedom, you can be a gladiator!, strucken, the blasphemy of their life, resistance to the priestly class, the priestly class today, flourish, be your true self, two extra digits, upper and lower, a full and healthy life and an extra life, Ayesha was evil, manipulative vs. evil, presidents and speakers of the houses, is it seven?, a description:

He was certainly a magnificent animal. A chinchilla grey Persian with long silky hair; a really lordly animal with a haughty bearing despite his gentleness; and with great paws which spread out as he placed them on the ground.

a Lovecraftian description of a cat, a good command of language, quite engaging, slow paced, only 10 hours, quite respectably good prose, beautifully written, smooth and easy to read, Will disagrees, cut out about a third, how efficient that 1970 TV movie adaptation is, no train ride, the gas mask, compressed scenes, it could have been shortened, he cut it the wrong place, commercial instinct, he was a stage manager at an acting theater (a playhouse), tweaking to improve stories, playing to it, right from the beginning, the opening chapter is a dream, this is how Tera manipulates people

It all seemed so real that I could hardly imagine that it had ever occurred before; and yet each episode came, not as a fresh step in the logic of things, but as something expected. It is in such a wise that memory plays its pranks for good or ill; for pleasure or pain; for weal or woe. It is thus that life is bittersweet, and that which has been done becomes eternal.

ways of reading this,

Again, the light skiff, ceasing to shoot through the lazy water as when the oars flashed and dripped, glided out of the fierce July sunlight into the cool shade of the great drooping willow branches—I standing up in the swaying boat, she sitting still and with deft fingers guarding herself from stray twigs or the freedom of the resilience of moving boughs. Again, the water looked golden-brown under the canopy of translucent green; and the grassy bank was of emerald hue. Again, we sat in the cool shade, with the myriad noises of nature both without and within our bower merging into that drowsy hum in whose sufficing environment the great world with its disturbing trouble, and its more disturbing joys, can be effectually forgotten. Again, in that blissful solitude the young girl lost the convention of her prim, narrow upbringing, and told me in a natural, dreamy way of the loneliness of her new life. With an undertone of sadness she made me feel how in that spacious home each one of the household was isolated by the personal magnificence of her father and herself; that there confidence had no altar, and sympathy no shrine; and that there even her father’s face was as distant as the old country life seemed now. Once more, the wisdom of my manhood and the experience of my years laid themselves at the girl’s feet. It was seemingly their own doing; for the individual “I” had no say in the matter, but only just obeyed imperative orders. And once again the flying seconds multiplied themselves endlessly. For it is in the arcana of dreams that existences merge and renew themselves, change and yet keep the same—like the soul of a musician in a fugue. And so memory swooned, again and again, in sleep.

who is having the dream, an Egyptian river aka the Nile, a brief boating expedition with Miss Trelawny, Tera inserting herself,

It seems that there is never to be any perfect rest. Even in Eden the snake rears its head among the laden boughs of the Tree of Knowledge. The silence of the dreamless night is broken by the roar of the avalanche; the hissing of sudden floods; the clanging of the engine bell marking its sweep through a sleeping American town; the clanking of distant paddles over the sea…. Whatever it is, it is breaking the charm of my Eden. The canopy of greenery above us, starred with diamond-points of light, seems to quiver in the ceaseless beat of paddles; and the restless bell seems as though it would never cease….

coming out of the dream, the doorbell, the knocking, you know about the plow, big dipper, Polaris, north of Egypt, he’s definitely a good writer,

The record of a soul is but a multiple of the story of a moment.

deep time, the Egyptians didn’t have a dualist perspective, Jews tend not to go with dualism, there’s your Ka, your astral thing, your body, your id, your ego, your superego, programs inside, my brain is a computer, my mind is the software running on the computer, glitches and reboots (sleep), how does it technically work for Tera, a takeover?, a new vessel, pour your spirit, the dualist take on it, all part of Tera’s plan, moments of clarity, William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe, don’t fall asleep because you die and some guy wakes up in the morning with your memories, The Body Snatchers, a worse version of you, let’s share this space, she’s like an immigrant, old and new, the upstairs and the batcave, the upper and lower, bring the foreign into England, central to the Empire, the author wrote the book, he’s the guiding hand, he doesn’t have full access to why he’s doing stuff, inhabited by Tera, giving permission, the old woman who’s the new woman, I’ve killed 9 people in the last 5,000 years, ancient alien metal, aerolite, meteorites, star spawned, a magic sword, star connected, she is in some way divine, a symbol of something, the devil is real in a certain sense, numerology, explained as science, the radium that is so prominent, an astral body, hey pick up that fork, corporeal transference, there need be no bounds, its fun to taste stuff, you don’t want to have a sequel, the wrong scale, the possibilities opened up, Will doing his Farmer impression, what the ka does, the Riverworld series, When The World Shook by H. Rider Haggard, a millionaire socialist, a striking resemblance, reincarnation, a science fiction plan to destroy the world, theosophical adventures start to become science fiction stories, so many valances, gothic or weird stories, that X-Files feel, The Jewel Of Seven Stones by Seabury Quinn, Weird Tales, April 1928, a bad priest and a good princess, less ambiguous, Jules de Grandin, no deep philosophy and stuff, read more Bram Stoker, The Crystal Cup by Bram Stoker, super-obscure, very abstract, souls, what does it mean?, a cup filled with nothing in it, taking the reality of materialism and transmuting it into poetic beauty, a stage play, it could be a short film, there’s no characters except for the cup and the light, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, super-cool and very weird, a feature length no budget film adaptation, A Princess Of Mars with LSD, how John Carter gets to Mars, various relationship, the party, the tower, suicidal action, metaphysical, audiobook and readalong available in the feed, Will’s cup of tea, down for more stoker, subtle, she’s got a plan.

The Awakening (1980)

Bram Stoker's The Mummy (1998)

Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1971)

The Tomb (1986) VHS

BORIS VALLEJO cover of The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

FRENCH edition of The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Oxford Paperback - The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

ZEBRA - The Jewel Of Seven Stars, 1979

The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker, Arrow 1975

ARROW - The Jewel Of Seven Stars (1962)

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The SFFaudio Podcast #625 – AUDIOBOOK: The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #625 – The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker, read by Roger Melin and was first published in paper in 1903.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (10 hours 12 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker (1904)

The Jewel Of Seven Stars by Bram Stoker

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

Podcast

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

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

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

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis