The SFFaudio Podcast #688 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Niels Klim’s Journey Under The Ground by Ludvig Holberg

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #688 – Niels Klim’s Journey Under The Ground by Ludvig Holberg; read by Alan Winterrowd

This unabridged reading of the story (3 hours 45 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and Connor Kaye.

Talked about on today’s show:
1741, Latin, 1845, underground journey, great Latin accent, difficult, funny stuff, interesting physics, satire, the midway point, old books, Edgar Allan Poe didn’t have electricity, nobody had a typewriter, a whole century before that, the farther back in time, upfront heavy lifting, explaining Elvis, a k-pop star from the Southern United States, girls go wild, in the tree society, not discussing the nature of God, he becomes a baron, Catholicism, anti-Catholic remarks, Denmark, the Holy Trinity, intellectual Catholics, upperclass twits and fashion, a criticism of Danish society, sick of religious debates in general, the book with the book, a book review of the book you’re reading in the book, a satire of travel literature, wild places, the unknown, to the center of the earth, The Goddess Of Atvatabar, how old this inner world concept, different physics, City Of Endless Night, in orbit around a sun at the center of the earth, another planet (a ball), he was treated like a comet, blown back through the same hole, the firmament, the opposite crust, a meta-argument, we see them as the heavens, balls all the way up, 2021 North America, and Australia, and Taiwan, causes eclipses on the world of the Firmament, their planet turns away from the sun, two hollow Earths, a donut within a donut, in 1740…, what Galileo and what Newton is doin, we haven’t seen out planet from a larger perspective, he big dumb object that is the planet earth, dumb in the sense of stupid, tigermen, monkeymen, treemen, the trees take his blood, they put branches on him to help him fit in, the Enlightenment, Cesare Beccaria, the prison reformer, capital punishment, criminal justice, people having different humours in their blood, making fun of it, utopian aspect, Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, they star the same way, Mardi by Herman Melville, The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, a Poe poem, the sentience of all vegetable things, colocation of stones, fungi, reduplication, they got up their own asses in terms of rationalism, travel narratives, duplicated, our books, the mental existence of the invalid,

Our books — the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of the mental existence of the invalid — were, as might be supposed, in strict keeping with this character of phantasm. We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean D’Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. One favorite volume was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisitorium [[Inquisitorum]], by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and œgipans, over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in quarto Gothic — the manual of a forgotten church — the Vigiliae Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae.

a prequel to an underground world story, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, these are bullshit books, alchemy is bullshit, what we do at the FDA now, peer review, a council of elders, Benjamin Franklin, the Royal Society, secret locked cages vs. done publicly, methinks thou do protest to much, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, sniffing out bullshit is hard for most people, why Poe has Usher so fucked up, he doesn’t leave his estate, through books, out the window, only testing books against other books, Sir John Manderville, Marco Polo, outlandish [bullshit], people with their face on their chest, Antonio Pigafetta, talking about Maoris, you’re a peasant, weird consulting, why is there so much in Science Fiction, exogamy, incest is what you do when you’re up your own ass, keeping money in the family, trying to breed traits, Roderick Usher once went to school, the Poe figure, dude, you went to seed quick, he doesn’t have the light of the sun, we need the stars to tell us where we are and what we are, other kinds of underground books, a really big thread in science fiction, the inner psychedelic journey, a nation of sensible tigers, the musical instrument people, the subtitle:

“being a
narrative of his wonderful descent to the subterranean
lands; together with an account of the
sensible animals and trees inhabiting the
PLANET NAZAR AND THE FIRMAMENT.”

you get what you paid for and the people who are like viola, play a viola at them, they play themselves, types of people you hang out with, musicians, the priests, special areas where menfolk were sent and grew fat and smooth, monasteries, cannibals,

“I have a kind of suspicion that the Europeans are cannibals; for they shut large flocks of healthful and strong persons in certain inclosures, called cloisters, for the purpose of making them fat and smooth. This object seldom fails, as these prisoners, free from all labor and care, have nothing to do but to enjoy themselves in these gardens of pleasure.

big protestant comment, not exactly Ents, don’t be hasty, let’s think this through, they have Entwives, we can go one further, a guy with a heart in his leg, a recurring theme, rape comedy, put on trial for rape, a Dutch hotel, Italy, sleep with the innkeeper’s wife, a comment on Italian hospitality, the Spanish sleep all day, he’s attacking everybody in Europe, fragment missing [Denmark], the crown scepter, he’s burning everybody, he criticized the German language, the main verb goes to the end, Mark Twain, good for jokes, Norwegian, The Bridge, why Pete Buttigieg can speak six languages, an empty title, the language of this land, the whole land is called holy, the continental augmenter of his country, invincible notwithstanding he is sometimes slain, worth reading the whole book just for this section, the famous Voltaire quote, a running joke, Charlemagne, one Mark Twain quote, people will quote stuff change all the worlds and attribute it to Ambrose Bierce, why wouldn’t it be Twain?, don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story, the monkeys with the wigs, the Australian and Canadian judicial system still does wigs, they gave him a fake tail in their descriptions of him, the book follows a pattern, he gets run out of town, a series of episodes, Candide by Voltaire, a monkey sequence, picaresques are for lower class heroes, Huckleberry Finn, rough and dishonest and appealing hero, a deacon who used to be an emperor, Jack Vance, low class, low brow characters, incidents, comedic, not a novel though novel lengthy, active vs. passive protagonists, it is active but doesn’t seem to be, just surviving, he changes the world, when a little kid writes copyright on a story for their mom, why would a little kid care about that, there is no international copyright, the printers are the ones who make money, a pension for life, he takes wives later, he draws the line at lioness wives, the men own the women but by social custom the women are run by the men, the woman runs the house so the man has to go the club, co-equal slaves to capitalism and there is no domestic sphere, the house sits empty all day long, so far before electricity, they’ve got gun, telescopes, printing, if you want to see something printed you have to go to a printer who writes it backwards on a piece of metal, why printed up in volumes, where the word “subscribe” comes from, comparing Donald E. Westlake to Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, you go to Bath, by the author of…, you put your name under, “preorders are love”, “likes are love”, write me a hate thing, tell me how I suck, the true measure of success, angry comments, you’re boring, bitcoin and supermodel asses, flashy mics and spinning gifs, the upload takes a long time, 500 episodes, if its easy do it, what Baron Ludvig Whatsiname, he would have been happy to have been abolished, meritocracy, distinct from Europe, earned the pension, Ben Shapiro talking to Joe Rogan, The Rise Of Meritocracy by Michael Dunlop Young, what Hillary Clinton thinks they’re in, we earned what we got, 1958, Obama looked down his nose at Biden, you’re not one of us, an aristocracy, parents wanting to get their kids into an ivy league school, it effects our reality, a student bragging about being a billionaire, Hannah Arendt, not technically a meritocracy, a youtuber, the different societies and cultures we’re seeing, plays, essays, poems, history, exploring how societies could work, the tree society, the women have too much equality, maybe we could improve the life of women, is he named after a real person?, in the fiction of the story he’s a real person, just graduated from seminary (college), the ending, the Wandering Jew , his crazy king getup, Jerusalem, Prester John, like a time traveler, the Flying Dutchman, wanting position, I’m a king here, John Smith with Pocahontas, how you got rich, people are interested in you, you are a weird celebrity, a nobody, given honors, revolutionize cultures, rise to power, feeds the fantasy, when you go to a foreign land and you eat a food, worried about Canadian culture (in opposition to the United States), food is a technology, a bowl of fruit, cheese is a technology, all technologies are copying, Newcomen’s steam engine, incest vs. exogamy, take you lumber to Scotland and they give you kilts, Pasta is not that interesting but getting silk out!, why India happens, movin that product, how people work with knowledge, you heard the news?, its built into us, its bullshit, not everything that you hear is real, reinforcing the bullshit detector, Star Trek, mad at the guy with the opposite tan, The Wheel Of Time, the travel genre, episodes, no overall massive goal, The Canterbury Tales, Jason And The Argonauts, Medea, an old genre, The Epic Of Gilgamesh, waiting for the complete volume, very interesting, some really funny bits, he acts the same way, Twain would have read a lot, what version did Poe read?, Poe in Scotland and England, why isn’t there a really good Edgar Allan Poe biography?, an alcoholic or not, he was a drinker, the Army of Northern Virginia, 3.5 hours, immensely more enjoyed, too airy fairy, above The Goddess of Atvatabar, The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer Lytton, flying armies, the illustrations in both, The Mound by Zealia Bishop and H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Shaver, 1943, as true as Scientology, I Remember Lemuria, Amazing Stories, Ray Palmer, in the guise of fiction, “rock books”, like Joseph Smith, a branch of SF, like prions, mystical, good SF should challenge you, bad SF converts you into some whackjob who’s breathing though his nose to get more Vril power, fans are Slans, I have access to secret reality, these were popular because they had a quasi-true story thing about it, the letters column, the UFOs are Real, now that Space Force is a thing, ball lightning has been around long before space force, UFO means spaceship for most people, what an alien would say, I’m a lizard man from beneath the earth in Los Angeles, why are these guys arguing so much, rationalists are nice people but I wouldn’t let one marry my daughter, like a part of a cult, you’re either in a cult or you’ve just broken through the cult you’re in, what Michio Kaku purports to do, more elegant but still untestable, prayer, which would you rather have as a worshiper: a guy who follows all the edicts of your divinity and almost never asks you for favours or a guy who is always breaking your edicts but is constantly asking for favours?, understanding prayer, praying in my presence, god is apparently telepathic, praying in a language you don’t understand, prayer wheels, we know what we’re doing, why Robert E. Howard’s response to the Tibetan monks is The Black Seers Of Yimsha, unless its there to remind you of something, community, why is prayer intoned if God is telepathic?, your community can go insane, the First World War, go in the meatgrinder, don’t hang out with those ladies, go live into a cave, the sex strike in ancient Greece, the chicken feathers, we wont bang you if you don’t go into the meatgrinder, Lysistrata, war is a community activity, go to the trenches, you can make community with dead people Voltaire is my guy, he’s saying things that are in your head, “A friend is a second self” -Mark Twain, you want to hang out with Socrates, he’ll get you into trouble, have a symposium with, Alcibiades is hot, have a cat, The Midwich Cuckoos, Paul is going to Worldcon, triple vaccination, a super-spreader event, what screed has been nominated?, two dumb tweets in a row will get you unfollowed, down on the tweetcount, getting canceled, the secret is to only tweet about things that are universally appealing (cats), tweets about a slave to the COVID gods, masks are redundant in Taiwan, foreigners tend to be bootlickers, a nice hot take, Cold War on both sides, pro-China, a decent job and a hot date, they’re Neils Klim, there’s no Kentucky Colonels around here at all, Nebraska has a navy, so many chicken jokes, knighting people, giving them away like candy, the Congressional Medal Of Honor, as soon as you have a president putting a decoration around someone who isn’t one of the elite he now has power, having a beer with Obama, you’ve just given a sergeant power, real honorifics, Sergeant York, Audie Murphy, if they’re not on board….

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #435 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Green Meadow by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #435 – The Green Meadow by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson read by the great Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (17 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander, and Wayne June!

Talked about on today’s show:
The Crawling Chaos, a tiger, a plague year, drugs, a meteorite, professors, translators, how it struck an ending, baffling, three big paperbacks, the revision work, Arkham House, Horror Of The Museum, like a fragment, an extended commonplace book entry, strongly echoed in The Shadow Out Of Time, the mythos shopping list, the artificial checklist, Memory, What Rhe Moon Brings, prose poems, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, completely ignored, what to make of it, prose poem aspects, the only audiobook version in the universe, the way it struck Wayne, 1918/19, an early effort, Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, atypical formula, loosely connected to the frighteningly uncaring universe, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, The Wendigo, The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce, nature as a threat, 100%, the gauntlet thrown down: “The text, as far as preserved, is here rendered as literally as our language permits, in the hope that some reader may eventually hit upon an interpretation and solve one of the greatest scientific mysteries of recent years.” a hoax, dreams, a frame, figuring out what it means, a series of images, the power of the description, its so clear that life is the enemy, the sea and the sky are in a war with life, he breaks off from life, a peninsula, things of the air, the forms of the air that are non-alive join with the sea, conspiring, the living against the non-living, cataract, ending in the Dreamlands, Bryan’s take, the fantasies vs. the horror, appreciated and enjoyed, the massive frame, WWI, German, one of the many loathsome policies of the Wilson administration, the tonal shift, the quick catastrophe, the Harvard guy blows it,

I saw clearly the source of the chanting, and in one horrible instant remembered everything. Of such things I cannot, dare not tell, for therein was revealed the hideous solution of all which had puzzled me; and that solution would drive you mad, even as it almost drove me. . . . I knew now the change through which I had passed, and through which certain others who once were men had passed! and I knew the endless cycle of the future which none like me may escape.

Kafka’s fragments, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym, the four professors, Potowonket, Lovecraft country village, Dr. Richard M. Jones, the “late” professor Chambers of Harvard, how did he manage to do it?, the indestructible pages, he found out what happened and he followed the path, why the text is cut-off, it’s not a fragment,

. . . . All is before me: beyond the deafening torrent lies the land of Stethelos, where young men are infinitely old. . . . The Green Meadow . . . I will send a message across the horrible immeasurable abyss. . . .

that sort of scene, The Quest Of Iranon, Sarnath, the book is the message, that’s not so interesting, a real scholar, Democritus, idola (eidolon), air spirits you absorb through your pores, influencing your eidolon, really creepy, the theme: oh those scary trees – watch out!, papyri, center for Hellenic studies at Harvard, Professor Rooms, he original atomic theory, souls of the dead, Homer, audible and visible in sleep, the Poe connection again, Dreamlands,

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule—
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
Out of SPACE—Out of TIME.

Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters—lone and dead,—
Their still waters—still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,—
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily,—
By the mountains—near the river
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
By the grey woods,—by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
By the dismal tarns and pools
Where dwell the Ghouls,—
By each spot the most unholy—
In each nook most melancholy,—
There the traveller meets, aghast,
Sheeted Memories of the Past—
Shrouded forms that start and sigh
As they pass the wanderer by—
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
’T is a peaceful, soothing region—
For the spirit that walks in shadow
’T is—oh, ’t is an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not—dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fring’d lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly
From this ultimate dim Thule.

msiing the one thing Lovecraft never puts in (the dead girlfriend), the dead trans-gendered boyfriend, not a good girl to hang out with, The Man Whom The Trees Loved, forest and verdure being alluring but having a terrible force, Arthur Machen, Jesse makes his students do his homework for him, vocab words, Jesse thinks regular people read about teacups and tea-cozies, how insane people were in whatever period, why are they so upset, they haven’t invented rocketships, between 1895-1925, astral projections, the long nights, cursing the gods, the ancient blasphemies and terrible delving, terribly upset and thoroughly enjoying himself, his astral body, over-leaped the bounds of corporeal entity, he planeted the seed, this explains the whole story, old science fiction (before the rocketships), David Lindsay’s A Voyage To Arcturus, Jack London’s The Star Rover, a lot less vikings and Japanese invasions of Korea, bringing Hypnos and the Dreamlands all together, the checklist, you can frame it in the wrong way, how good this story is, the abrupt ending is foretold by the huge frame, the narrator does almost nothing, a malignant hatred, grotesquely huge horrible, unthinkable things, the land breaks off, its up to us to do all the work, typical Lovecraft, unthinkable indescribable things, this horrible thing (existence) is just hitting them, existence (consciousnesses) attacks him, the hopeless uncaring universe, William Blake’s The Tyger, he thinks it is a reference to Rudyard Kipling, less and less of an isthmus, a description of bodily decay, let’s go off to another planet, so good, Virginia Jackson was a prodigious dreamer herself, holding on to all those details, turning a dream into a story, an alien place, why are the trees scaly, he had become an ant, a field of broccoli, lichen and fungi, grey lichen, a point of alien-ness, adapting it for film, stop-motion animation, whatever is going on in this alien planet, Scythian (Greek description of everybody to the top right of the Black Sea), if all the Mediterranean, the planet is being destroyed, the sea has defeated the trees, night gaunts?, dong interpretation, life is terrible-horrible, god is life, god is DNA, the enemy of life is non-life, nihilistic, living where young man are, scythe, the earliest recorded hashish smokers, the smoke rings of the hashish smokers, what’s lurking in the Green Meadow, human-ish,

While the words were utterly undistinguishable, the chant awaked in me a peculiar train of associations; and I was reminded of some vaguely disquieting lines I had once translated out of an Egyptian book, which in turn were taken from a papyrus of ancient Meroë. Through my brain ran lines that I fear to repeat; lines telling of very antique things and forms of life in the days when our earth was exceeding young. Of things which thought and moved and were alive, yet which gods and men would not consider alive. It was a strange book.

a prototype for the Necronomicon, who are the chanters?, The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, Alan Moore’s Providence, a test out, a strange narrative and a strange book, a persistent meme, people get upset (and Jesse finds it hilarious), look at these crazy people, the Yellow Peril, what they should have been worried about, not just for space (it’s also for time), mis-named, semi-based on a real guy, projecting yourself outside your body, that’s cool, when King Kuranes walks off the cliff, Celephais, a fucking meteorite came down from the sky with a book in it, it took 2,000 years to reach the Earth, chalk and slate, the lure of life that isn’t horror, the siren call of human contact, parties, suicide, the shadowy figures were that which were really real, reverting to the main theme, oblivion is to be preferred, why is this story called “The Green Meadow” instead of “The Scary Trees

My eyes could now discern several things amidst the omnipresent verdure—rocks, covered with bright green moss, shrubs of considerable height, and less definable shapes of great magnitude which seemed to move or vibrate amidst the shrubbery in a peculiar way. The chanting, whose authors I was so anxious to glimpse, seemed loudest at points where these shapes were most numerous and most vigorously in motion.

the sense of vibration and oscillation, wake up buddy!, shrubbery, a three headed knight, A Voice In the Night by William Hope Hodgson, The Derelict, a fungus, eater of the dead, green vs. grey, so green even the trunks and rocks are green, the forward and backward nature, the perpetuation is the horror, if anyone could become President then Lovecraft could become President, give me a clean planet like Mars or Mercury bathed in the solar rays, a walk in the woods with Wayne June, green is my favorite colour, just beneath the skin, existence sucks, In The Mountains Of Madness by W. Scott Poole, there’s still lots of interesting books to read, that strange book he read, Lovecraft is so funny, a joke, falling along his normal path and message, it’s not deadly serious, the most important scientific discovery in the history of the world, The Colour Out Of Space, that’s how Joseph Smith found his books, the hoax religion, there nice people to hang out with, sure they don’t like coffee but they don like ice-cream, really cool underwear, chloroform in print, before we go completely sideways, the Fiddler’s Green myth, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, better than anything Gaiman has written since (except for the first volume), appeals to sailors, reading a lot of comics, mermaid, mermaids are the angels for sailors, DC and Marvel horror comics, mermaid discovers meat, lamia, sirens, a Valhalla for sailors, common ways of dying in folk-songs, Friday and The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, Billy Budd by Herman Melville, dance-houses doxies and tapster, ladies of negotiable affection, were dance halls a way of getting around prostitution laws, an earlier version of Match.com, off the rails and into the sea and off the hook.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

Review of Ilium by Dan Simmons

SFFaudio Review

Ilium by Dan SimmonsIlium (Ilium #1)
By Dan Simmons; Narrated by Kevin Pariseau
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 25 Discs; 30 hours
Themes: / Mars / gods / ancient Greece / scholars / Shakespeare / fantasy /
Publisher summary:
From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing—and often influencing—the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy.Thomas Hockenberry, former 21st-century professor and Iliad scholar, watches as well. It is Hockenberry’s duty to observe and report on the Trojan War’s progress to the so-called deities who saw fit to return him from the dead. But the muse he serves has a new assignment for the wary scholic, one dictated by Aphrodite herself.With the help of 40th-century technology, Hockenberry is to infiltrate Olympos, spy on its divine inhabitants…and ultimately destroy Aphrodite’s sister and rival, the goddess Pallas Athena. On an Earth profoundly changed since the departure of the Post-Humans centuries earlier, the great events on the bloody plains of Ilium serve as mere entertainment.Its scenes of unrivaled heroics and unequaled carnage add excitement to human lives devoid of courage, strife, labor, and purpose. But this eloi-like existence is not enough for Harman, a man in the last year of his last 20. That rarest of post-postmodern men—an ‘adventurer’—he intends to explore far beyond the boundaries of his world before his allotted time expires, in search of a lost past, a devastating truth, and an escape from his own inevitable ‘final fax.’ Meanwhile, from the radiation-swept reaches of Jovian space, four sentient machines race to investigate—and, perhaps, terminate—the potentially catastrophic emissions of unexplained quantum-flux emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of Mars.

If someone were to describe this book to me (if they even could), I don’t know if I would believe how much I absolutely enjoyed it. Dan Simmons is a mad genius.

Shakespeare-quoting humanoid robots, Greek Gods, post-humans, and old-style humans somehow make the craziest awesome story imaginable.

Ilium is a story told through essentially three unrelated viewpoints. First, there’s Hockenberry. This is told in first person. Hockenberry is called a “Scholic,” a human from our the 20th century (our time) who was rebirthed in a future where Homer’s Trojan War is being fought. His job is to report on the war … to the Greek Gods.

At first, this is completely confusing. Why? is a question I asked myself over and over, but it begins to make sense with time. Plus, it’s hard not to be fascinated with the events of the Iliad. It’s also impressive how much research went into it, though that’s only an assumption since my knowledge of the Trojan War is essentially from the movie, Troy (but I have read the Odyssey!).

The second viewpoint is the humans, mainly Daemon. Daemon is a self-involved fool who is unlikeable to say the least. But who wouldn’t be when you have everything handed to you on a silver platter by robots called servitors (sp – I did listen to the audio so forgive me), like all humans everywhere. Pleasure is their life, knowledge … is lacking.

The third viewpoint is that of a sonnet-loving humanoid robot called a “moravec” and named Mahnmut. Specifically, and only, Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s work consists of exploring the moon of Jupiter called Europa. Mahnmut is called in on a mission with a group of moravecs to explore some occurrences on the planet mars.

At first, I was highly entertained, though confused, with the events of the Trojan war and the other parts were just above boring. Slowly, the story takes hold and it had me hook, line, and sinker.

Listening to the audiobook, I was looking forward to my morning and evening drives and not too sad to do errands on my lunch hour either. Somehow, it ALL makes sense even though it sounds like the oddest collection of classics to make up a cohesive story all its own. What does Shakespeare have to do with the Iliad or Proust (his work makes appearances too) for that matter, all set in the future with technology that gives humans everything they ever want or need?

It’s crazy I tell ya. Crazy! How did I like this book this much? I’m telling you, Simmons is a mad genius. I will just sit back and let him take me on his journey. It’s amazing. I question not.

Kevin Pariseau is the narrator of this audiobook and while at first I thought he over-acted the part of Hockenberry, though somehow not the other parts, I really grew to like him and found out that it was literally just the character of Hockenberry that he was playing. And it’s impressive given how many Greek words and names he’s got to …erm… name.

The only problem is that Ilium is only half the story. It stops at a huge cliffhanger and I’m already heading to Olympos to see how this ends.

5 out of 5 Stars (Mind … blown)

Posted by Bryce L.

The SFFaudio Podcast #220 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #220 – The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster; read by Elizabeth Klett (for LibriVox). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 13 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Professor Eric S. Rabkin, and Mr. Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
Novelette or novella, novellini?, E.M Forster wrote some Science Fiction?, genre boundaries, H.G. Wells, adventure, horror, The Time Machine, a critique of English society, dystopias, diegesis, a didactic approach, The War Of The Worlds, a bogus bifurcation of the body and the spirit (or the mind), ambiguous possibility, the “Machine” of the titles, Morlocks and Eloi, a reversal, a complement, prophetic vs. appropriate, looking through my blue plate, this book is the biggest existential critique of my lifestyle, it was lovely to meet Jim and Eric, a caricature and a critique, blackberry season, a swaddled lump of flesh, a curiously intrusive narrative technique, a fable, author backchat, in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien, lampshading, breaking the fourth wall, an aural phenomena, a fable, a parable, philosophical scenarios, Plato’s Myth Of The Cave, The Republic, Socrates, ontological imaginary equivalents, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the narrator isn’t exactly human, “back chat”, man is not necessarily the measure of all things, empiricism vs. rationalism, the unanswerable questions of the stars, everyone is a lecturer in the future, “second hand ideas”, the French Revolution not as it was but as it might be in our society, Alexander The Great’s monstrous rampage through Asia, “the juice of the individual human experience”, we have many books, books as experience generators, Ion, J.R.R. Tolkien, “there is a muse”, the rhetor, aiming out of the subterranean, why are we obsessed with essays?, SAT style essays, a quasi-Aristotelian view of happiness, what does a happy horse look like?, fleet fleets make happy shipwrights, happiness verb, man is not an animal like the others, the body doesn’t matter, man is a mind, big fat babies, the wealthy vs. the working, the bloom of Victorian society (men in sheds), a satire of academia, the Logical Positivists, natural deductive logic, Mr. Jim Moon does a lot of research, rehashing, Terry Jones, Christopher Columbus, Nathaniel Hawthorne, an unexpected continent, the North-West Passage, telling powerful and relevant, the use of the word “idea”, “forms”, Rene Descartes, interpenetration, Orion, the hunter giant,” when you give a bad podcast do you ask for euthanasia afterwards?”, you’re not there for the characters, a very erudite story, Vashti (from the Book of Esther), Purim, the worst possible kind of mother, “the book”, unmechanical, religion, what is the machine exactly?, is the machine Capitalism? Google? Wikipedia? The Internet? Communism?, the beds only come in one size, the six sided cell, a hive society, command societies, totalitarianism, “machines are in the saddle and ride mankind”, the trains make us run on time, a network of machines is the Machine, a perfected machine disallows individuality, “In the dawn of the world our weakly must be exposed on Mount Taygetus”, the worship of Helios, Ancient Greece, the homeless don’t die, despite being set in the future this is a danger in human existence, a perfect social system (utopia), an inversion of the ancient Spartan technique, not to go against the Greek, an inversion of the Garden of Eden story, in real life, a very disturbing story, a hopeful ending, a white snout, sexual competition as in Dracula, have we learned our lesson?, a passion for connection, Wall-E, infantilized adults, vomitorium, Logan’s Run, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, an anti-romantic Eden, “they give me no ideas”, “metal blind”, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster invented Skype?, pneumatic tube, Paris, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the business of Science Fiction isn’t technological prediction, a totalizing synergy, the blue slates, an Edwardian future, the machine religion, humans enslaved by their own social attitude, Cory Doctorow, the mending committee doesn’t know how to fix anything, personifying and deifying the machine, Voltaire’s “The better is the enemy of the good.”, Protagoras, the Sophists, a sophist editorial cartoon, give me money and pay attention to me, an incredibly weak story with spectacularly fruitful ideas, what does it mean to say “I read something and liked it?”, The City And The Stars by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, its left to us to ponder some very deep questions, we’re not at The City And The Stars tech yet, the 1970s and the 1990s was the time for Brave New World, complementary drugs, the work and the context we read them in, recycling of knowledge and group consensus, exciting and relevant for our time, where and when we are when we first read something is important, Against The Fall Of Night, The Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Have Space-Suit, Will Travel, Little Brother, the civilized society and the outer savage, Dr. Eric & Mr. Moon.

LEGOized - The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster

Which Killer Deserves To Have Been Read His Miranda Rights?

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Learning: Tales From Ancient Greece

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Learning -Tales From Ancient GreeceI probably should have told you about this podcast earlier, the thing is, I forgot just how stupid BBC policy can be. So, hurry up and subscribe to this great podcast before what remains of the earlier files drop out of the feed!

Tales from Ancient Greece, a production of BBC Learning, is a dramatized retelling of the Greek mythology. Officially the show is “particularly suitable for children aged 9 to 11,” but I like it quite a bit too. The premise is that Hermes, the winged messenger god, was a witness to practicality every famous Greek myth and in each 15 minute show he’ll take us on one such adventure. Here’s a snippet of the official description:

“[Hermes’] stories are full of laughter and sorrow and unusual people, places and creatures. The series includes such favourites as the story of Persephone, King Midas, the Minotaur and Medusa.”

Unfortunately you’ve already missed Orpheus and Eurydice (episode 2) and Persephone (episode 1)!

The show is weekly and began with Episode 0, beginning on May 1, 2013 (it was just an introductory 9 second podcast announcing that the show would be weekly).

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio/greekmyths/rss.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

My favourite episode so far was that of Perseus And The Gorgon (episode 4) |MP3|. I’ve even LEGOized it!

Perseus and the Gorgon (Medusa)

Posted by Jesse Willis