Reading, Short And Deep #404
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Virtuoso by Herbert Goldstone
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
Virtuoso was first published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 1953
The SFFaudio Podcast #643 – The Hound by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto for Legamus.eu
This unabridged reading of the story (23 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, February 1924, 1922, little things, once you start reading the text, in a real way, we could go on and on about this [but not really], approaches, the timeline, a period of days throughout, two chapters, two parts, no dates, repetitive, the autumn moon, the autumn wind, and we could not be sure, September 24, 19__, a whole 19th century thing, Edgar Allan Poe, Sept 28, October 29th, November 18th, November 19th, the 20th, the 23rd, and before a week was over, November 26th-ish, November 27, 28, 29, scenes are set at night, a pale winter moon, November 30th, the half-frozen sod, all weirded, 1912, before the great war, HPLovecraft.com, pre-war, modernist, their whole youth, modernist philosophies and artistic movements, resonances with other stories, the audiobook version, then the terror came, some time ago, a simple tale?, flowery prose, decaying flowery prose, the plot is pretty simple, what actually happens, what is the “hound”, ghouls, Pickman’s Model, The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath, ghouls don’t have wings, St. John and herself?, Jesse’s surprise, Connor’s interpretation, the batwings, the skull, no literal monster, a real hound in England, bats react, the corpse, a bloodhound, the amulet is a scent on them, the criminals who steal it get killed, The Hounds Of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, a gigantic hound, sphinx, the baying, Will’s first time, the supernatural reading, ghoulish guy, weird hobbies, if you believe him, a freshly opened grave scent, a very funny story, making fun of people like himself, an effete intellectual, lambasting modernism, engaging with modernism, an unreliable narrator, this criminal act, kills his friend, kills a household full of people, my last rational act, a goth joke, they’re pre-goths, I’m so dismal, Rheinhart Kleiner, a bit of an old gravestone under his pillow, gothy as hell, his cultural fiction, art, Neo-classists, Samuel Johnson, Pre-Raphaelite, William Morris, Da Vinci man, other movements, the decadents, art doesn’t have any meaning at all, art should be meaningless, we copy art more than our true natures are reflected in art, art should lift people, art should reflect the pure virtues of humanity, the symbolists, painfully obvious, the prosaic, every aesthetic, devastating ennui, on their fainting couches, now I’m disdainful again, the narrator’s home (a mansion), we’re too weird to have servants, trips to holland, a museum, the engimas of the symbolists, each new mood was drained too soon, the depth and diabolism of our penetrations, an addiction, criticising the avant garde ideal, Duchamp’s Fountain, Charles Baudelaire, its about that weird feeling, Fleur Du Mal, Clark Ashton Smith, soon exhausted of thrills, the abhorred practice of grave robbing, what the big civilizations do, not more ghoulish than regular explorers, a blasphemous unthinkable, next to you on the bus, he’s enjoying this, how many of Lovecraft stories are about art, The Music Of Erich Zann, The Tree, new trends in art, Hypnos, Igor Stravinsky, W. Scott Poole’s Wasteland, drugs, astrally projecting into space, there was no second guy, a dominating will outside myself, not so much about race as it is about class, whiteish, protestants, where the rabble were in terror, a squalid thieves den, including the children, the fear of the masses, the manor estate, I’m so dark and devious and awful, to avoid mangleation, The Loved Dead, so obvious, how many times that happens in Lovecraft, Harley Warren, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, his descent into more and more depraved actions, a monster piece, his creepy museum, human being taxidermy, stuff a baby, a secret room, basalt and onyx, vomited weird green and orange light, voluminous black hangings, the moods we most craved, funeral lillies, some spicy smells, soul upheaving stenches, intended as a comedy?, he has a sense of humour, a very dry sense of humour, hard not to see it, Byronicly tortured people, sincerely, a plastic skull, what is your other option, working out his stuff, you could go dig him up, you do your best, you think about it, he did a lot of thinking, the most interesting authors are the ones doing exactly that, thinking through their own issues in art, super-dense, tanned human skin, Goya had perpetrated but dared not acknowledged, Clark Ashton Smith, the most horrific paintings, very dark subjects, Saturn devouring his children, Will is irony poisoned, the potency, every detail, their secret lair, how decadent they are, the Klingons are LARPers, they were born into it, born into a family of bikers, you were a biker, these guys are goths, the byronic irony of it all, he has an invisible friend, Re-Animator, his friend Herbert West, made explicit in Hypnos, I’m going to shoot myself in the head, the part he enjoys, a confession, an underground musem, a Lovecraft trope: civilization can tell their story through art, The Nameless City, the art reveals the narrative, from the outside world, a black museum, the civilization of the Elder things (At The Mountains Of Madness), a deeper critique, he uses the power of art to critique, Reading, Short And Deep, how this whole poem came to be made, making fun of a friend who was in love with somebody, using art as a weapon, a mermaid, moaning over girls, he has it both ways, he is the master of it that’s why he doesn’t need to have it, the influence on Poe on this, lifts from Edgar Allan Poe, a chamber door knock, a sound at the window, a turkey vulture (aka a raven), the red death, the oblong box, obeisance, transferred the beautiful dead lady, Annabele Lee is a necrophilia story, the architecture, the churchyard itself, in the dutch language, the tip of the comedy iceberg, on the note of Poe, working Poe out of his system, a Poe pastiche, drawing on Poe’s style, making fun of itself, frustrated, he couldn’t depart from the style of Poe, a play on itself, make it over the top, so it becomes something else, so purple, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, they’re banning all the naughty words, a black museum on Mars, ghoulish skully purple draped funereal stuff, Planet Stories and such, set elsewhere, Poe does the same thing, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, a symbolist piece, Lovecraft engaging with the art and using it to make fun of it, Lovecraft rejected modernism, he artificially constructs his sentences and vocab, he’s conservative, Bobby Derie, transgender operations in the 1920s, a defense technique, sexuality?, I studied it, his way of dealing, Death And The Gravedigger by Carlos Schwabe, another bad Lovecraft explainer, Cthulhu isn’t a plushie, he’s a symbol, who are the people greatly affected by it, this is a dream story, a waking dream, I’d like to be a lord, let’s be real here I visit the graveyards, astral projection is never going to happen, his conservatism is a reaction to this, the reality, vast, we’re insignificant, to retreat to something solid, retreating into a new dark age, they’re just hearing the words, we live on a placid island of ignorance, he’s talking about reality, this is the part that Paul doesn’t like, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, someday piecing, terrifying vistas, the deadly light, the personal reaction, 10,000 children died in Yemen today, we seem to be blockading Venezuela for some reason, coming to conclusions, like a vampire sucking out the good juices of the Earth, its all of the things, repetition list, woodwind, nightwind, autumn wind, nightmare, nights everywhere, it doesn’t only mean one thing, super-deep and super-rich, the thing on Leng, all the Leng places, sane and balanced, Necronomicon, the ghastly soul symbol, Kun-Lun, Lost Horizon, they eat corpses, so over the top, of course they have a copy, locked up tight (but everybody has read it), a perceptive interpretation, at the start of the 20th century, this big thing accessible to the masses, From Beyond, micrographia, how insignificant we are, scientific knowledge, tiny little bugs in your eyebrows, the artists are the most sensitive, in their dreams, the main thrust, how they come to the place where they are, people who have gone too far into their artistic delicacies, what’s the solution?, burn the museum down, hide the amulet, bury it deep, retreat, he burns the museum, Dagon, ends with a suicide, that hand?, the hand reaching through the door?, its a dream, its another dream story (Dagon), like the bottom of the ocean, The Sea Thing by Frank Belknap Long, I wonder why I read this?, the uplifted continent, a vampire fish that’s also a man, lampreys, that chapter in Dracula, The Canal by Everil Worrell, writing down dreams, struggling to explain, like watching a movie or TV show or a play, I become the other, somehow back in the boat, take opium, Jesse is afraid of alcohol, coming up with explanations, being a human being, an addiction to artistic pornography, overdose, kind of like a warning story, Old Bugs, not meant to be published, a way of explaining to a friend, the depths of depravity, oh my god this is my guy, Robert E. Howard, his guy really gets it, he’s got some weird fixings in his head, weird stories or poems, its all symbolic, not one person in the dreams, a dominating will outside myself, something repeated, equals vs. one is the leader one is the follower, “he dominated me”, a “dominating will”, a waking dream vs. literally a dream, is this an unreliable narrator, inventing a friend who dominates you (or impels you on) is a way to externalize, Garak talks about his friend Elim, Elim got Garak into so much trouble, Baibars and Haroun, when you’re in the bathroom and putting on the goth makeup, choosing to buy the jeans, a costume, if you don’t know that you’re kind of weird, I’m doing this, it varies from goth to goth, tortured and introspective, self-aware, emo, is emo a slur?, not an emo story, too cheerful for emo, Mary Shelly’s stuff is very Goth, Poe: “I love this shit”, six sentence story, Haverhill Incident by Jesse, Lovecraft’s commonplace book, two Lovecraft things, sanguinary, Lovecraft pastiche, he’s really trying to deal with his problems, he’s conflicted about it, it doesn’t really make sense if we’re all dust, a chalk white giant or an effeminate celt, a nautical negro, everything under the suns, your decadent debauched disreputable rich protagonist(s), the rabble, various pejorative terms for other races, white upperclass rich, horrible people, H.G. Wells, tuetonic anglo saxon, rich and cultured, worse than the rabble, the rabble is always white, the local dutch peasants knowing something, Celephais, The White ship, well to do (at least), The Colour Out Of Space, the something bad that happened was an investment in a dam, rebuild the family estate, Ireland if its saint Patrick’s Day, The Moon Bog, King Kuranes, nouveau-riche, the mighty have fallen, walking off the cliff in his sleep, his corpse is floating on the waters on the beach below, get back that which is lost, his suits things, I once was on boats so I am still a sailor, Jesse you’re not a cowboy are you?, don’t label me!, he’s a wreck as a human being, his disgust for immigrants is well known, as soon as you start thinking about it through the racist lens, I’ve never met a racist Lovecraft reader, just a cool story, it wasn’t the racism that made it cool, the giant monster underwater, the history of Australia, the idea of white people, migrants from the 1950s, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Greeks, Italians, Pakistan or India, Iranians, moving into the neighborhood, good stable jobs, the immigrant work ethic from your parent, anybody who is not the old money like me, these massive exceptions, in his art Lovecraft saw something special, Sonia Greene, she appreciates what he’s doing, his weird fanzine industry, he’s really afraid of what his dad did, consorting with hookers, getting drunk, Ronald Regan’s wife told me, thinking that problems were caused by drugs, the madness, what is his explanation, no explanation, they’re bored, that anomie part, the Star Trek future, a motivation, dealing with your trauma creatively, a goth in a three piece suit that’s seen better days, his armour, being a gentleman, very romantic, I’m very delighted to have your correspondence, the gentleman, from his family, racists, uniquely racist (because he talked about it), Poe doesn’t talk about it, we all know he would have fought on the side of the South in the Civil War, of course he was racist, it would be weird to think he wasn’t racist, (some of) the abolitionists were racists, we should do this for us, free-soilers, what colour is the hound?, the thing in the grave as being the hound, it is or isn’t the hound, its described as white, a black shapeless nemesis, the amulet is green, they summoned something, who is he writing it for?, he put a lot of poetic devices in, Lovecraft liked cats, dogs show up occasionally, The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, alcoholism, the cat came back to haunt him, an unreliable narrator, if you read it carefully, like a Wells character, a horrible person getting jollies while in prison, I’m not responsible, that’s the ticket, an anti-alcohol screed, a hogshead, burns his house down, no beautiful dead, The Hound by Dennis Paoli (directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Barbara Crampton) audio drama, drawing on The Evil Dead version of the Necronomicon, some kind of spell, the hound is a literal monster, he prays at one of the altars, save me from this thing, a ritual aspect, old boy, a surprise spice to the flavour, he probably wouldn’t have a approved, a different sense of humour, he does pray over the grave of the ghoul, sorcerer wizard equivalent from 500 years ago, he prays over St. John, mumbled over his body one of the devilish rituals, Iron Maiden lyrics, biker or goth, you’re in the club, drop an ice cream cone, scoop one out for old HPL, Roddy McDowell’s reading of The Hound, The Outsider, Martin Reyto, very straight, very flat, pronouncing all the words correctly and gravelly voice, Sinjun, used a u in Colour Out Of Space, Evan’s podcast on Lovecraft, things that annoy podcasters, anglopholism, long live the queen, something he came up with on his own, embarrassing at parties, very accepting people, if you read a lot of books, excited about stuff in amateur press, Lovecraft Country, prestige television, Nicholas Cage, 5 adaptations of The Colour Out Of Space, the current one, the worse thing you’ve ever seen, a pet Cthulhu, just a cash in, market research, Free Comic Book Day, Will needs to listen to Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter, let me tell you about how my dead friends, Bill Hollweg, famous for his work in Planet Of The Apes, Cornelius.
Talked about on today’s show:
Richard Bachman, Getting It On, not what I thought it would be, a school shooter book, only two people, a lot less group therapy, The Breakfast Club where the teacher gets shot, Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick, working his real life problems, psychologically traumatized by growing up, On Writing, Danse Macabre, single mom, he was witness, assuming schools are different today, out of the institution, it is not like it was, way less, psychological bullying, the teachers are the prison guards, you don’t squeal, it really is a prison, obsessed with bullying, It, the whole town is kind of sick, Carrie, seems kind of unrealistic, pervasive evil, neutral or brutal, The Long Walk, Roadwork, The Running Man, Thinner, The Regulators, parallel to Desperation, Blaze, one of his more Philip K. Dickian novels, an official photo of Richard Bachman, Richard Stark and Donald Westlake, everything comes out like Bach, The Dark Half, Thad Beaumont, told the father, comic crime, a Navy or Marine recruiter, a helluva lot of psychology, a very strange book, why this stuff happens, school shootings make a lot of sense, you can’t leave, if you can’t escape you lash out, the centerpiece of young people’s lives, if you do have rage inside you, projected at your guards and fellow prisoners, the math teacher, the narrator viewpoint character has something wrong with him (and also grievances), how what people say and do haunt people, too grown up?, particularly sophisticated, Stephen King re-reads, this isn’t there anymore, his kids are a little too grown up?, they aged the kids up, magic, things that 11 year olds believe that 14 year olds don’t, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, infantilizing young people, its too late, a lot of truth in this book, so pervasive in the culture, The Shining, the father figure, the genealogy of evil, he’s an alcoholic, mother issues, family issues, cycles of horror, every 28 years, brainwashing her daughter, something King grappled with for decades, written in high school, contemporary references, the math teacher is a monster, he’s being haunted, he doesn’t attack the students, fellow prisoners, prisoners of their nation, prisoners of their community, prisoners of their religion, social stigma of being a slut, backstory, telling ghost stories, takes on the role of teacher, they get it on, getting passed all the bullshit and the horror and secrets that are making their lives miserable, pedagogy, industry standard, what do you think, let’s engage on this, he’s a better teacher, facilitate learning among students, I’m at BU now, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, raw and short, 211 pages, just over 5 hours in the audiobook, one long walk, The Long Walk, only 100 people do it each year, virtually everyone fills out that form, a physical checkup, to do with the draft, the war, the guy who sells books to the school, his dad’s a creepy fuck, walking from Maine to Boston, there’s no end point, that’s life, a metaphor for life, very dark, it transforms itself rather oddly, why he withdrew the book, shooting up your school, kind of like a play, we learned something here today, another trope of his, seductive leader, Randall Flagg in The Stand, shining is King’s psychic ability, Charlie Decker shines, a very good book, an interesting book, this peculiar institution is ongoing, its global, when Jesse’s tutoring, realizing to them individually, the ability to get inside the kid’s head, building up skills and information, teaching them to ride bikes (with sentences, or analysis), use the magic words, a skill set you’re trying to impart, roll call, escaped for the day, Jesse has had good teachers, forced to be there, why or what was happening, you’re not allowed to skip, game the system, school was punishment, university was completely different, they take an exam at the beginning of the book, all the other kids are dressed down, you idiots, there’s no test, in a more horrible environment, modelling what they’re doing, you can’t do that with a whole classroom full of kids, they don’t know what they don’t know, its impossible, a disaster, 35 kids in a class, 20 is conceivable, some teacher who are capable of great work in the classroom, your attention is so divided, how normal animals work, mom bears eat blackberries, there’s no school for animals, a flock of birds, a herd of sheep, what we’re doing kind of is institutionalizing a thing, artificial parent, sometimes they’re horrible, their litters are to big, more malevolent, your pay determines how valuable you are, Elon Musk must be a genius because he’s so rich, the teacher has the right answer, showing your work, trains us for capital industrial society, obedience, the humanities (are to blame), S.E. Hinton, these are your great writers, these are your national heroes, expanding the hero set as we become more woke, an immigrant culture, 1870s, this twitter thing that happened S.E. Hinton author of The Outsiders, really good reads, reassign what you were assigned, about young kids, a JD novel, apparently alive, my students love your novel, thank you for your beautiful work, they can read a book, graphic novel, she’s a snob, a hierarchy of art, novels aren’t at the top, short stories, novellas, plays, TV movies, podcasts can be pretty amazing, her objection is interesting, make kids not hate school by showing school is totally hateable, empathizing with people of general good character (in poor circumstances), a teacher handing out copies of Rage, self-banned, shooters with this book in their locker, lifting the scales, this institution is super pervasive, half online, Michel Foucault, prison, asylum, institution, to serve modernity, the history of the prison, China, 80 years old, jail, confinement is the punishment, copying the west, public schools are very very new, what are we going to do with them, a fake labour market, what’s an alternative to prisons, tutoring is an alternative, monasteries, apprentices, student loans and free college, the industry needed skilled workers, cobblers or bakers, funded by taxpayers, the bosses don’t pay for it, it has never been the standard, why the university feels so different, exams and attendance, the lecture hall vs. the classroom, you can feel it, truancy officers, hall passes, the school to prison flow, black people in the States, being uppity in school, uppity into school, a feeding system for prison, residential schools were super-evil, away from their parents, their language, physical and sexual abuse, the legacy is not good, you can generationaly heal, Joe Hill, other problems, your society isn’t just your parents, recruitment for the war machine, another institution, professional soldiers and standing armies, clans and border incursions, the legacy of institutions gets deep inside, roots that are hard to see, penetrating layers of psychology, we’re in that forest, cultural interrogation, the asylum, Nurse Ratched, watch it if you want, asylums are the go to place for horror, reform out, group homes and group therapy, the abuses were so horrible, generational desensitization, co-op homeschooled, the default is the parent is a religious nut, overly protective, wonky, hippie, regular parents are desensitized, how crappy school is, just a thing you have to do, all sorts of things to hate about the institution, the only exception is politicians, a badge of honor, I went to a public school, I suffered with all you plebs, Pete Buttigieg, the psychological impact of not going to school, South Park pandemic special, psychological damage for *not* going to school?, watching YouTube videos, there’s a Philip K. Dick novel, The Long Walk was a depressing grind, there is no liberation, this is a liberation book, electroshock therapy, psilocybin, megadoses, parental expectation, what they think education is, what education actually is, memorization, maybe there’s a better way, use is the better way, start using those vocab, silly at the beginning, problems in the world you would like to communicate, we won’t like the ranking, it gets in students heads too, inured to education, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, becoming institutionalized, that mental illness thing, if he can’t break the system then what he did was horrible, did the prison guards have it coming?, getting up at 5am, the kids are overworked, they don’t have a life outside of school, that’s bad, we should all be in jail for child abuse, in a few hundred years, those overseers were as much to blame, strong union in British Columbia, criticize the curriculum, English 10, Shakespeare’s amazing, fill in the blanks, essays, online schooling, more common, self-paced, a list of books you need to read and reflect on in your writing, which character said this?, guess what the writer of the exam said was the right answer, get a stack of book, you’re gonna dig this book, not interested in reading at all, everybody has to be a novel reader, the problem with grading, art history in-class analysis, cultural, thematic, evaluation, judging a slug on how well it climbs trees, who can climb trees best, he chooses the math teacher, you have to have a certain level of math, math is really important and really interesting, if you’re a sailor, if you’re an engineer, a contractor, a cashier, quadratic equations, whose ever used Euclid, prove angles on a triangle, its interesting, let’s keep this idea and system alive, I’m for this thing, you don’t have to be an expert on Ancient Egypt, what school should be is a buffet, they can pursue it at a higher institution, in high school science we dissect animals, prepared slides, not literally science, pushing the boundaries of what we know, experimentalized, that’s not what you’re doing that’s not your job, Jesse teaches essay writing, the essay format was very popular in the 16 to 18th centuries, essay writing in first grade, did King do a disservice to humanity by self-banning this book, as a school shooter book, group therapy, he’s a horrible person, he uses foul language, Red Letter Media’s review of The Friday The Thirteenth sequels, should we ban slasher films?, slasher films are awesome, the close observer, other King books are so much worse, Apt Pupil is way worse, the new right, neo-nazis, a Nazi who got away, worse characters, he’s a popular writer, quoting Wikipedia, the Virginia Tech shooter, Cain Rose Up, Guns, the preface to Blaze, does it save lives?, the Columbine high-school massacre, Columbine by Dave Cullen, Bowling For Columbine (2002), what they always do in the media, Doom causes school shootings, blaming Dungeons & Dragons, Tom Hanks becoming mentally ill by playing D&D, Evan’s pastor, C.S. Lewis is okay, you shouldn’t do this: Jesus, another institution, sexual repression, the concerns of people’s reputations, what the truth is, all sorts of stuff, I’m not a devil worshiper surprisingly, what actually happened, folie à deux, Klebold and Harris, warning signs, the police fucked it up real good, school lockdowns, lockdown is not a good idea, a kind of mania for control, punishment, unquestionable policies, playing with guns, buying guns, making explosives, hate for people, extreme hate for people, the reason she was killed, are you a christian, she said yes, how the United States works, what Colorado was, Mork And Mindy was set in Boulder, a big Air Force state, military education, Robert A. Heinlein near Cheyenne, this mountain central state, a new western frontier, a batman movie shooting, a different kind of state, religion, school, military, set beliefs, you don’t fit into those, resentment can build up, boys are good at killing people because they have hands, machetes, it’s one way to go, its kind of like cancer, if you have enough cells you’re going to get it, Richard Bachman’s book are not the key to the school shootings, understandable, that person who he was, he was very angry, he was full of horror at reality, he reserves his anger for Trump now, this viewpoint character is most like the author, not the book Jesse was expecting, Pinter-like, its never gonna be a TV movie, getting out graduating and telling the truth, everybody masturbates, I’m a virgin, a good read, an interesting read, you shouldn’t skip rage, teenage sexuality, the one hold out, he’s a mirror to the narrator, male vs. female sexuality, there’s so much moralism about sexuality in King’s early work, alcoholism, drugs, Doctor Sleep, Revival, recovery narrative, monogamy, The Stand, 99.9% of Americans die, good wins out, THIS IS MY WOMAN, moralistic about monogamy, he’s taking what he likes from the institution, this is literally the problem, raging against the institutions all around him, The Running Man is such an awesome critique of American capitalism, Christian moralizing is not for me, some religious leader didn’t like the way the institution was running things, a lack of long term vision, seems like a nice guy, the killings, should I do a show on this?, Jesse was worried, Jesse shouldn’t worry, other problems that he’s ignoring, he has a legitimate grievance, make it about veganism, crazy people, TV shows, leaders on television, not so subtle hints, legacy of horror, changing the reality violently, an incident in a fictional character’s life, the loyal friend who is going to come visit him, getting some truth out and making people feel better, we all pee, she doesn’t pee or poo, you can’t admit to something like that, could have happened in a church, going postal, workplace shooting, interesting book, fits so smoothly into Stephen King’s other works, literally defying King, a 2012 Guardian review, asked Stephen King, what cowed media we have, fucking terrible journalism, its very impressive, 1966, good job Stephen King.
The SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne
Talked about on today’s show:
and today we’re reading…, John Bloodstone, an old science fiction novel, why wouldn’t I read this book?, public domain, never heard of this guy, Science Stories, February 1954, house names or pseudonyms, tiers of science fiction magazines, armchair fiction, digging into the issue, the cover has nothing to do with the contents of the story, a brilliant 45,000 word novel, a singular spaceship, J. Allen St. John, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, Warlord Of Mars, The Moon Maid, a Burroughsian planetary romance, splash page, the creature, his former lover, a precursor, L. Sprague de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias, against the rules, find each other attractive, tentacles out of eyebrows, an ancient spaceship, the subjugated people have invented gunpowder, backgrounded to Garthanas’ story, what Paul would be thinking about Jesse would be thinking about the worldbuilding, how little this book has been published, it does was it says on the tin, a man off his world (or not our world), the ending, a solar system with two and a half inhabitable planets, Thronas is the fifth world, Carson of Venus, Hamardeen, the math and the names, a panspermia story, dinosaur time, Dalathasheen, Haven, Adamas, a tropical haven, a vast natural garden which they named…, Atlantis,
Their dreams of old we, too, have known,
But we are flesh and they are
And Yesterday is dust…
just some rando, a weird way to start a story, Tolkien, narrator Tim Harper, preeeety good job, so good, very specific vocab, names of days, all of the logic, names of ranks, layer up this world, as logical and rational as possible, lovely detail, the amphitheater, very vivid, very colourful, a real sense of embodiment, the interests of the author, elf names, etymological construction to the names of things, the measuring system, worldbuilding and making a whole universe (or solar system) for a FIVE HOUR BOOK, and to make the story work as well, the same trick over and over: a secret identity, he’s teaching us, you like Twelfth Night, you like Shakespeare, he’s turning evil, what if I’ve been rooting for a monster this whole time, that’s good writing, the AI of the ship, the metal god, a very early AI, from such an oblique angle, The Great C by Philip K. Dick, he Kirks the computer, I love that idea, the computer doesn’t say, if Kirking is a verb, apparently Gene Roddenberry was a fan, “I’d stand in a line in the rain for one of Stu Byrne’s stories”, back when Paul was young and strong, Thundarr The Barbarian Garth Ennis, one of the many many rip-off’s if Conan, make the show to sell the toys, unpublished Tarzan novel, fan fiction, the Pellucidars, the Barsoom books, male romancesque, lost to time, when the book is THIS interesting, the archaeology of this sort of thing, born in 1911, Jam Packed with Burroughs, more of the same, He-Man, She-Ra, Red Sonja (from the comics), filed-off serial numbers, friendship works differently in Burroughs-world, honor-based friendship, more sex and drinking, more carousing, no animal friend, no Woola, The Green Odyssey, a loving-parody-comedy vs. straight-up, Michael Moorcock, Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, hard to escape the orbit of Burroughs, S.M. Stirling, Tantor Media, The Sky People, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings, he goes wide, characterizing the responses to Burroughs, dinosaurs on Mars, Leigh Brackett, aliens, A World Of Difference by Harry Turtledove, a collapsed empire, the golden ship is a great piece, with that ending he’s cutting off all the sequels, what it turns this book into is a science fiction book of the mainstream type, acceleration, artificial gravity, a force of nature like the tides, the worship of many many gods, how much work he put into this, not a work of slapdashery, Goodreads reviews, the used bookstores podcast, Goodreads is owned by Amazon, many moral hazards in the universe, AbeBooks is owned by Amazon, Byrne is from St. Paul,
It has all the hallmarks of a hastily-written product plus one whose creator has a very specific beginning and endpoint in mind and is working to bridge the two. Byrne occasionally has to paste in the gaps with backstory or offstage events–clearly he was not going to go back and revise–and this leaves the impression that more interesting things are happening to more interesting people while Garthanas is standing around waiting or being talked to.
The story is also strangely unspecific about the context. It’s implied that the oppressed Harmarians are some kind of ethnic minority who are slowly being deported to planet Hamardeen (Mars) because the Thronasians would prefer to be served by the unpredictable and violent nonhuman polar inhabitants, but nobody says this and it is not explained clearly. The half-explanations conspire to baffle and not tantalize with unseen depths.
“Space barbarians” is arrived at uniquely, with a robotic Golden Ship left behind by an earlier civilization. It is a tragedy that this is the only remnant of super-science and one wonders what more Byrne could have added to liven up this story.
The final moments, as it starts to wrap up, do achieve power. Byrne finally has a specific vision with a specific end goal and Garanthas is in place to witness it all and to act appropriately. But the overall impression is less “tale of multigenerational tragedy” than “muddled mess”.
hanging out with a Roman slave who knows how the Roman Empire works, a case of reviewism, a disease that effects many reviewers, space barbarians, a trope, maybe it needed more pondering, a lot of battle scenes, before we talk about the art, action packed, almost the script for Buck Rogers, so many court scenes, sneaking around inside of a space ship, a Star Wars (1977) level of action, kissing, intrigue, how you are when you come to something, a serious problem when they do reviews a lot, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, he’s writing to his own conclusion, award winning is a bad word in Jesse’s mind, The Aquiliad: Aquila In The New World by S.P. Somtow, you need to know what the author is doing, answers to What If, the artist knew truth, the only person better at sculpting than me is my master, a very small pair of worlds, another connection to Star Wars, hello Jupiter, reading into it, he wanted to have philosophy in it without getting into it, a thinker king like King Kull, appreciating the art, about that meditation, a John Carter who is appreciating the martian sculptures, normally that’s us when reading the books, the statue at the end, it’s in that opening song, a future echo, an echo of the past, Battlestar Galactica, page 13, we are flesh and they are stone, playing with, the word “Truth”, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley, Ozymandias by Horace Smith, On A Stupendous Leg Of Granite…, hubris is a great problem, uh huh and yup and we’re going to be the same way, more political, Lovecraftian vs. science fictional, that projection, Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia, the journals and a report about what’s going on in North America, Planet Of The Apes, fast paced, Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road, so many great books that are just hidden away, ratings are a part of the problem of reviewism, star ratings, clouding judgement, it straight jackets you, the pain management chart, hangnail 1, gaping flesh wound from sword stab 8, a standard of one person, the way Luke Burrage justifies his rating system, this is not a classic like a The House On The Borderland, The Time Machine, more worldbuilding than The Green odyssey, Tolkien vs. Narnia, portal fantasy vs. secondary world, six hours well spent, thank you to Tim Harper.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #531 – Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (45 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe.
Talked about on today’s show:
a plant named Paul, first published in Imagination, February 1953, the PDF, Introducing the author: Philip K. Dick, comic books, Stirring Science Stories, “There was no limit.”, StF (scientifiction), Faustian!, a medium in which the full play of imagination can operate, social awareness, communications between myself and others, my wife and my cat (Magnificat), a huge desk!, “read and write quite a lot”, public libraries, school libraries, a very young Philip K. Dick, the YouTube audio, nakedly bathing her foot while in a bush a scientist stares at her, baffled by this story, what the hell is going on?, really weird, a take that Jesse could Grok, totally baffled by, what Philip K. Dick was getting at, dreams, a scene not in the story, two trailers for film adaptations, the tone, the French one looked really angry, yelling, episode 9 of Evan’s Philip K. Dick Book Club podcast, about labour, refusal of work tradition, post scarcity philosophy, Paul Lafargue, anarchists, Bertrand Russell, reinvest productivity into leisure, Roanoake, “CROATOAN”, the anti-work tradition, the robot, two robots, a dorm room, a science fiction future, Earth doesn’t have trees anymore, the evolutionary argument, find green beautiful, Savannah grasses, the most beautiful trees are the ones that can be climbed, the Philip K. Dick Rhetorizer, obsession with cedar trees, a beautiful driveway leading up to a house, Upon The Dull Earth, an obsession with trees, orbiting Jupiter, Jesse’s massive theory, the pipers, the girl is a piper(?), Doctor Harris, do you know about the pipers, a native, Martians who came to the asteroids, folklore, we don’t know what’s really going on, what happens in the story, fantasy stories masquerading as science fiction stories, Beyond Lies The Wub, a talking pig, the pig talks about Odysseus and philosophy, weird strange guy, the Ancient Greeks, Strange Eden, tame, this brutish dude, transformed into a tamed animal, Aeëtes is the brother of Circe, Bubber the blubber boy, Return To Lilliput, maybe they’re dryads, the hamadryad, tied to a particular tree, building the base, Pan and the panisci, the pipes of Pan, not paying attention to science, a fantasy set in a science fiction universe, why are they called pipers?, Marissa’s theory, The Pied Piper Of Hamelin, like they’re dying, Of Withered Apples, lives in the ground, maybe the forest are all just dead people, the victims don’t eat, the scene at the end with the dirt, sunlight, water, a strange invasion story, the contamination they’re trying to prevent, unrelated plant schemes, to spread the gospel, the line about Tiberius, when Christianity showed up in high places, household slaves of the Imperial family, tutoring the kids, “that’s Jesus!”, Friedrich Nietzsche, “slave morality”, this is GOOD, that was BAD, this is GOOD, “the meek shall inherit the earth works for me”, only in the blood soaked soil of the Roman Empire can a slave morality be so flourishing, a whole cool thing, the Holy Roman Empire, that turn, Doctor Harris’ POV, presumably he knows what’s in his luggage, is he lying there?, a psychological story, dreams, switching genders, every time you see the word “plant” replace it with the “woman”, just why do you think you’re a woman?, a strange phenomenon, how is the psychological happening happening?, a mysterious transformation, more about identity, in our world, the experience as presented, if it was by Heinlein, a few bosom shots, a beauty and grace of movement, secretary just out of school, an invasion story, Paul’s theory, a different set of mythological references, the myth of Endymion, the myth of Actaeon, Atremis and Diana, turned into a stag, his dogs, Martians, a defense of the asteroid by the pipers, quelling them, neutralized, Evan’s take, these workers are infected with the work ethic, the valourization of work, a whole ideology here, full employment, if you’re not in the labour market you’re less, the blessings of work, the fear of everything individual, work giving meaning, so many things going on, it doesn’t tell you what its doing, random stuff, our first victim, blonde, the most bizzaro conversation, it is a comedy, “why do you think you’re a plant”, “I’ve been a plant for several days now”, “I see”, beefy Commander Cox, work was unnatural, contemplate, jet repair, two nurses passed, a jet blast injury, a bovine youth with horned-rimmed glasses, the bovine youth, Philip K. Dick coding-in, I’m doing fantasy right now, cataleptic?, is this on purpose?, it was a warm sunny day, a graceful flowing motion, he is the girl, copper coloured natives, they’re sunbathers, the Coppertone, you’re on your way to your writing shack, there’s a story right there, how do you become one of those people, sunbathing is a vacation thing, the opposite of work, in the military for no reason, M*A*S*H, Corporal Klinger, I need a section 8, maybe he protest to much, an argument against pacifism, they’re deserters, if everybody did what I do, another take on Bartelby, The Scrivner, inscrutable, a law copyist, Bob Cratchet, Scrooge will have to fill out his own eviction notices, a Memorial to the Unknown Deserter, Life Of Philip K. Dick, Anthony Peake suggest that chapter 6 of The Wind Of The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, benign forgetting, “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, the gift of forgetfulness, this hidden memory is The Wind In The Willows, Morpheus in The Matrix (1999), the reviews, there’s a lot of stories like this?, Weltanschauung (worldview), a Promethean aspect to Philip K. Dick, Time Out Of Joint, they’re sunbathing, other people don’t see it as work, idle but doing interesting things, in the beginning was the deed, a pretty good pickup line, obsessed with Faust in the 50s, poppy, goldbricking, “poppycock”, where poppies and grass grew everywhere, Hypnos the god of sleep, Philip K. Dick knows what he’s doing (at least on some level), encoding for us, a story for the reader to try to engage with, rebuffed by the sea, people always point to the twist ending, is it a twist?, somehow confident he’s on the right path, the Pan idea, The Great God Pan, Helen Vaughn out in the woods taking in hard working men, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, its a murder mystery, the two best sculptors, two different ways of getting inspiration for their art, one goes to the city, the other to the grove, a fascinating story, the nature of art, taking inspiration from nature, can’t explain it but knows its necessary, it doesn’t touch on art, dead at night, almost childhood, before you can become creative, absorbing like a sponge, same with Lovecraft, unconsciously thinks of his own early life, a baby lying in the sun, the god of the Sun, Apollo, the goddess Artemis had a relationship with Pan, he’s setting us up, working a psychological idea out, all these different interpretations, they act as nature spirits, the way he comes upon her, a golden snake, Apollo, the Pythias, a connection there, a grey creature, hunt and fish, no written language, a story of Herman Melville’s Typee, where food is plentiful, when you’re having fun at work its play, an AP prep course, what Bob Black calls the Ludic lifestyle, transforming work into play, playful in an aimful way?, we don’t need to do that much, do we need 4% GDP growth?, untied to human labour, you can do it all through finance, labour and income, the whole system is designed to prevent that, vulture capitalism, cutting down a tree is GDP, Paramount and Fox and Disney, the quality of film isn’t going to go up radically but the shuttering of a competitor, seeing the reflections of all this stuff in a story that’s so impenetrable, Beyond The Door, were people knowing exactly what he was doing, a story of cuckolding, Oh my god, encoding a secret story inside the story, just out of reach, that’s how it is anyway, is Diogenes in the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer?, he lived in a pot, he called himself a cynic (a dog), a lower lifeform, being a human is not that great, you want to be on the team that doesn’t get enslaved, if you aren’t building ships and nukes then you are subjects to the whims of those who are, because you weren’t building tanks…, that war lasted 14 years (12 Christmas episodes and Alan Alda’s aging rapidly), the war chews people up, they’re cogs in the machinery, the bovine youth, the psychology, to opt out, to go back to the land, to be off the grid, pacifism does make sense until the tanks start rolling, authoritarianism, a post-colonial criticism of the refusal of work, Souvenir, the same infection, Emma Goldman, history is the tension between the individual and the institution, the WE, its powerful, it can be turned off, plantism is incredibly powerful, the work ethic is way more powerful, the anarchist anti-work argument, Thank You For Calling (2018), worry free live-work centers, its a prison, three squares a day, great food, friends, free healthcare, that evil corporation, a science fiction story, it doesn’t present as such, horsemen, Hiro Protagonist of Snow Crash, interesting and fun, worth watching, the thesis of Office Space (1999), it feels like it takes a lot longer, you feel like you’ve been there before, a pretty impressive feat, something very real, underneath there are a lot of people in those bullshit jobs, things are changing, herbivore men in Japan, Peppa Pig, society folk, the loser dad, Gumball, Rick And Morty, somebody should totally analyze that, they choose not to date, dating training, grass eaters, I can relate to this, the pull back to programming, the psychologist is completely wrong, destroy the pipers, fades into the forest, I’m going to go back to my shed now, “normal work”, his cat’s not sure, big output, the gendered aspect, everything Dick says about women, the idle wife as a trope, Cleo, did they all leave him?, swapped, why we need the biography, Tessa left him, easily lured off into the woods by women, serial monogamy, very serial.
Posted by Jesse Willis