The SFFaudio Podcast #763 – The City Of The Singing Flame by Clark Ashton Smith, read by Tommy Patrick Ryan. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the book (1 hours, 30 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Trish E. Matson, Connor Kaye, and Tommy Patrick Ryan
Talked about on today’s today’s show:
two these, Beyond The Singing Flame, it’s an onion, should Jesse have asked Tommy to record that too?, no novels, pretty famous guy for a guy with basically no novels, he’s 14 years old, bursting with ideas, reads like a D&D campaign set in the Arabian Nights, a flame like in She, the copyright status, Hippocampus Press, The Black Diamonds, he’s really hard too, his writing is very simple in this one, his vocabulary, give himself some feedback, supernal, an archaic word for supernatural, Eric S. Rabkin, a 3 sentence prose pastel, splenetic, iridescent, arabesque, nympholepsy, mien, rutilant, ill-tempered, the least difficult CAS story, sentence by sentence story, that might make a novel, becoming from high heaven, ethereal, rife with words, he’s masterful with the language, construction is good too, the shape of the plot is really excellent, a very interesting story, The Emperor Of Dreams documentary, accessible, why lots of writers like it, sidereal, lead astray, considering his vocabulary, lepidoperous, did you think of Logan’s Run?, swirling around, transcend and get reborn (or die), moth to a flame, exactly, multi dimensional higher dimensional transcendence, really into the body, really into material, obsessed with death and beauty, Lovecraft likes stars, immortality, architecture and burying the past, sexuality, reproduction through death, the beauty of those things, the siren call of the city, where’s it all going, he’s obsessed with thinking about it and telling about it, his structure is really good, sentence by sentence, he didn’t really do anything with it, the structure makes more appreciable, missing the last chapter, asking for the sequel, the narrator gets inserted into the story, no wrap up frame, disconcerting, he didn’t have an ending, kill the main characters, kind of Clark Ashton Smith but not really, this document is now found in a cylinder falling from the sky, I found this cylinder when taking a hike, Angarth more Smith, he’s the illustrator and the artist, his friend who’s also a weird fiction, never met in real life, the real life connections, EldritchDark, the best etext versions, Arkham House along with the sequel, published during his lifetime, July 1931, Wonder Stories, We had been friends for a decade or more, the journal, July 1st, 1938, July 31st, 1930, I’ve been gone for two years, set in the future, originally, Philip Hastane, there’s always a war in Europe, the reprint in Startling Stories, The Scientifiction Hall Of Fame, Harry Warner, Jr., of all the living writers of fantasy, A. Merritt, an alien planet, read around, the word that kept coming up, Carcosa, a bunch of layering on Carcosa, True Detective‘s first season, anything Yellow King related, Robert W. Chambers, Gene Wolfe’s vocab, The Wizard Knight, even deeper, circle back, cycle of stories, alien city on another world, not as sinister, more sirens, more sexy than horrific and compelling, this city is relatively safe place, Giles Angarth, he still brings his gun though, inner and outer narrator, sandwiches, coffee, and a gun, The Demoiselle DY’s, The Elf Trap, Ambrose Beirce, a friend of George Sterling, a continental famous kid, often on the front page, wunderkind child poet from California, newspapers were hungry, syndicated, The Vancouver Sun, every city paper had that story, a little bit like, A Wine Of Wizardry, Jack London, never met Ambrose Bierce, titans of American and international literature, An Inhabitant Of Carcosa, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, a death story, I don’t recognize this landscape, I have the illness, recognizing the landscape, it’s California, the animals, no birds, no insect, a lynx, transforming the landscape into a another world, literally a hike, the Lake Of Hali, Tathagoua, the Book of Eibon, Tsathoggua, are their lynx in Colorado, they go on the hike that inspires this story, central to that, a ski resort, a deep mountain tarn that’s never been sounded, seeing the landscape from the documentary, otherworldly, rock formations, been out on a hike, what if this was an alien world, walking makes your brain start going, Sedona, like an alien formation, episodes of Star Trek, where am I, substances Smith abused, the strongest drug, coffee, dream like drug trips, The Hashish Eater, Lord Dunsany, Confessions Of An English Opium Eater, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an excuse to let imagination run wild, psychedelic ideas, your brain is manufacturing drugs for itself, H.P. Lovecraft is the opposite, Bobby Derie took cocaine for a prescription, HPL: coke head, it’s not for you, warned Clark Ashton Smith not to take it, wine, Atlantean wine, the wine state, schizophrenia, first and second guy bring the third guy, the structure, a brief summary of the book, British enough, does a really good Irish, third or fourth time, we keep going back, changed somehow, brings the cotton balls, suicide, gonna be great, after that event, the siren song has wooed him completely, he’s an artist not a wordsmith, what’s on the other side, a total utopia, only humans come back, the flame dimension, everything is in ruins, a temperance story, a big popular thin in the city, gin, Marvel movies, whatever drug, we gotta lock this down, depopulate us, kill yourself with a friend, a horrible destructive lure, what’s beyond this flame, death is beyond this flame, a transformation, an ascension, Downward To The Earth by Robert Silverberg, rebirth, everybody dies, choose to rebirth yourself, if your hand isn’t flashing red, on your birthday, you’re young and strong, swiping left, or right, nu you, is this a fantasy or is it a science fiction?, weird fiction, psychedelic fiction, very spiritual, technological or magical, a teleporter, an ancient doorway, more Coruscant, the thermos of coffee and set a little bit in the future, wormholes in place, a science fiction writer as a character, in a science fiction magazine, moer super-science than regular science, transdimensional, Algol, sangfroid, struck with awe, a spiritual transformation, we’re all one now, this feeling of singularity, moth people, purified or made unified, very-Lovecraft, Ex Oblivione, love being non-existent, H. Rider Haggard, these science fiction writers and illustrators are better people, earthly pleasures, Ebbonly, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, matching haircuts, stepping through the pillars and falling, falls a different way, using the scientific methods, pilgrimage, the earplugs, numbing agent, can you numb your ears?, super-meta, words couldn’t possibly describe it, here’s how sweet I am, here’s some really excellent prose about it, all the names, things to work into a story, Angarth, a small town in Scotland, is that his real name?, Clark Smith seems like a pretty boring name, working the vocab mine, Hastur, the tamarack, mid-California, the Sierras, Kim Stanley Robinson, Zenna Henderson’s The People, on the shore of some foreign planet, alienation, vertiginous, determine our personalities, shut-in, his dad traveled the whole world, back to the library, reads The Arabian Nights, this landscape, Crater Ridge, stones of monolithic size and shape, an unknown vegetation, luminescent amber, Anakim, spire on giant spire, stepped through the looking glass into a fantasy world, this alien city with a yellow mist, best be done animated, much more illustrated than live action, Anakim are giant humanoids, basically giants, gargantuan, that’s a normal world, Darth Vader, where they steal all their names from, he just read the Bible, the people of the city, giant stone people, they do not have ears, a Las Vegas, popsicles and silver suits and haircuts, many roads to this city, alien creatures, their corridors, other Earths, other planets, a plane of portals, The Black Company by Glen Cook, Las Vegas for suicide/transcendence, the sinning has got to be stopped, why it’s so interesting and demands a sequel, humans center themselves in their stories, we’re a sideline, spectators and not really important, the gun never gets used, siege weaponry, a tower with legs, like our good friend Sauron, suicide cult, why are they so certain there’s something bad through the flame, obviously you’re going to die, immolated, smoke, instantly consumed, near the end, mesmeric lure, succumbed to the desire, immolate himself, a giant lepidoptery being, so good, smart moths, compassionate moths, fellow travelers, rather sweet, deadly enslavement, he ran forward in a series of leaps both solemn and frenzied, sacerdotal, headlong into the flame, more dazzling greenness, benumbed brain centers, annul the perilous mesmerism, fled from the shrine, envying my companion’s fate, fiery dissolution, more people going in from coming out, this is very attractive, enjoying wine, not for me, ice cream, fomo, a hilarious short story [And All The Earth A Grave] by C.C. MaCapp, a computer slips a cog, two coffin garage, this face tattoo is very fashionable, emigration, people living the country, a moral upset, even maybe mention, telepathy, the incoming army, the foundation of the flame, Reno trying to steal Las Vegas’ business, the last pilgrims, the rulers of the outer lands, obeyed the lure of the singing fountain and vanished into the higher sphere, the story leans that way, you don’t know, one moth to the other moth, I used to be a caterpillar, many legends in the outer lands, guessed by only a few, the inner dimension is hated, a lethal and pernicious chimera, an opium paradise, a mecca for this?, suicide boothing, the build up the city, built up around it?, larger or more impressive than other buildings, like a beautiful waterfall for Paul, it’s too dangerous, we can’t have too many people being happy here, into a higher state of consciousness, a VR fountain, live in your basement a VR all day, hippies, spiritual higher stare of consciousness, the great resignation, there’s more to life, the religion vs. a cog in the machine, our viewpoint characters, lashed to the mast of the ship like Odysseus was, timeless concept, war on a peaceful nation, can they destroy it?, like a laser beam, a geyser, a geological force, the scoriac stuff, gotta read the sequel, when you read Conan, those were the days, jump onto a new ideal, Conan never revisits the same place, Poseidonis stories, 2 or other stories like that, that Averoigne series, why is this happening, the letters pages, is this really possible, we should ask, more by the same author, the nature of this world and the purpose of the flame, if Tommy wants to record it, professional grade, keep using that, The Black Abbot Of Puthuum, on my phone in a farm in Ecuador, a checklist, an excuse to read a story, read it at a level, getting to share that, accents, Irish to Scottish to British, theatre, Saturday Night Live, Alec Guinness and Obi Wan Kenobi with Yorkshire, all the British characters from Star Wars, a City Of The Singing Flame tattoo, explaining Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft is in the Marvel Universe, Clark Ashton Smith movies, a TV adaptation, he’s difficult, he’s high level, incredible vocab, the imagery the colours, chalcedony, they love their art, they’re art men, rectilinear architecture, the nod to Lovecraft, cyclopedia, a Lovecraft vocab database, why Jesse does the podcast, an appointment, J. Manfred Weichsel, William Jeffrey Rankin, it is up to individuals, denying the attraction of the flame, just another drug problem like heroin, gin, or marvel movies, your AI friends, my AI girlfriend likes the same AI movies I like, you learn stuff, what people think they want, just read Clark Ashton Smith, customized stuff, opt out, everybody’s an AI, too new of a book, the best science fiction books, AI generated, 23 books on the list, 1 book from 2016, some listicle website, integrated and got rid of duplicates, Arthur C. Clarke, Blake Crouch’s 2016 book, The Martian, best?, you’d do pretty well, full circle, The Sunken Land Rises Again by M. John Harrison, Viriconium, weird fiction, pretty damn weird, an assistant to a mad scientist, super dense and very prosey, light on plot, he’s on the long list, Light novels, an unsettling atmosphere, feels very very modern, Nova Swing, 19 hour collection of stories, Neil Gaiman, Jack Vance’s Green Magic, get magic, bitter and tragic, recursive worlds, not quite getting what you want, poignant and good, dying earth wizards, the Zothique series stories, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, sad story, Subterranean Press, premium paper, Logan’s Run, Shakespeare’s Planet, Invitation To The Game, The Charwoman’s Shadow, Scratch One, Progeny by Philip K. Dick, getting back to Philip K. Dick, 53-57 stories, always exciting, these incredible authors, Le Guin once, Arthur C. Clarke, Elmore Leonard, nobody knows they’re public domain yet, all the weight of the world is on your shoulders, it’s exciting, or gals, its nice to be appreciated, there for somebody, its not just for the moment, its for the ages, share it with somebody 30 years from now, put it on a bookshelf, big box computer games, selling it for $86, an arc of nostalgia, 286sx, Future Shop, couldn’t afford a 28.8, $0.99, nostalgic for their youth, an old broken 286, feel the floppy going in, become valueless and then come back, the Harlan Ellison version, an L.A. based radio show, not for the ages, an enthusiastic and emotive, very very elderly, the narrator of the film, Harlan Ellison claimed to have read it 200 times, that’s how he learned to read aloud, narrated some Ben Bova, Run For The Stars, passionate, going to Hollywood and getting cynical, born into a world weary wisdom about reality, he went his own way, a passion project, a Hippocampus Press DVD, shill for publishers, passionate people, sharing the materials, solid contents, effort into their covers, the complete poems of Lovecraft, a really handy reference, S.T. Joshi finds some scrap of poem, The Hashish Eater poem, delectable, makes reading delicious, so rich, the lightest and most accessible, 101 Clark Ashton Smith, high level, for bibliophiles, all this prose, a lot of sugar, a slice of cake, small desserts, you have to like that, niche, if you don’t like honey you’re not going to like it, the richest Tommy has ever read, Ambrose Bierce, challenging the reader, why are you trying to make your prose…, making jokes, carving magnificent sculptures out of mountainsides, he really does have something, why Lovecraft was his biggest fan, Robert E. Howard was a great poet, translations of Charles Baudelaire, Poe and Dunsany, Baudelaire and Poe, taproot, undeniable, the first Sherlock Holmes short story, A Scandal In Bohemia, The Purloined Letter, Conan Doyle is the accessible and dumb version of Poe, this hidden photograph, I will have her show me, we love Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson and London and Irene Adler, we don’t love Dupin, the contents of the letter are sick evil and twisted, the photograph is of the king of Bohemia, I’m doing a tribute to Poe and nobody knows, Harry Potter vs. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, super entertaining, no Harry Potter tattoos, Harry Potter is breezy, Tolkien is fun but not breezy, an afternoon’s entertainment, Clark Ashton Smith: guaranteed enjoyment, intellectually interesting, attentive, tickles a different part of the brain, high art, good art, most art is good, one of his best plots, well that happened, Lovecraft’s plots are much better, not much of a plotter, 700 pages to explore this concept is cool but nothing happened, Pacific Edge, guy tries to get girlfriend at baseball game, not playing the same game, just a weird guy, how popular he was, talked this one to death, Pirates Of Venus, A Meeting With Medusa, Sailing To Byzantium, Farnham’s Freehold, northern Minnesota, almost Canada, just about out May, The Thing On The Roof, No Man’s Land, pick in August, 2 years is fine but 5 years is too long, lost tribe of cave people, troggies, chuddies, surprise chuds, Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers, lick and nip, Paul Sings The Classics, a singing voice for silent musicals, Nerds Of A Feather get together, Gather Yourselves Together by Philip K. Dick, from 1994, posting photos, Jesse misses Connor on twitter, usually eastern, an awful awful dream, discombobulated, very fun, that sentence sounds like he put a space in it, disjointed, a snip in the file, mouth noises, get closer to your mic, get a better mic, not all for the audience, caring a lot about art, Cat Killer by Donald E. Westlake, brutal an interesting sounding, Clive Barker, Jonathan is not a murder as far as I know, collecting human heads, Tales To Make You Vomit, not all horrific, that weird, you guys should be DMing each other, some sort of money arrangement, throwing around numbers, probably not even 4 hours, an hour and a half recording, relatively cold, ACX pays per finished hour, the going rate, $200 or $300 per finished hour, wordcounter.net, sell them not on audible.com, revenue sharing, Planet Of The Wage Slaves, diverse ideas and lots of nudity, amazing covers, their text over my art, Warrior Soul looks great, the lady’s hair in front of the title of the book, art direction vs. being an artist, coming up with interesting ideas, Five Maidens On A Pentagram, gothic horror sex-farce, Hasatan, sex-crazed demon, just sounds fun and pulpy, our reality, cycling through Smith/Howard/Dick, millions of great things, how to get this stuff out there, enough bundled together, anthologies based on themes, teaching the occasional yoga class.