The SFFaudio Podcast #567 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Alchemist by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #567 – The Alchemist by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto (for Legamus.eu). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (30 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Maissa Bessada, Terrence Blake and Julie Hoverson.

Talked about on today’s podcast:
The United Amateur, November 1916, 1908, 17 or 18 years old, consistently left out, The Beat In The Cave, a straight up Lovecraft story, the very last part of the very last episode of The H.P. Lovecraft literary Podcast‘s last Lovecraft episode, the opening, the ending, peters and swoons, the surprise that’s no surprise, the happiest (funniest), perfect, those words, a dramatic reveal, so inbred, incredibly dense, “ok, boomer”, black death, okay Tithonus, Eos the goddess of dawn, gods are merciful, Endymion, sleep forever, Cassandra, be careful what you wish for, Charles le Sorcier, why it is a comedy, claws for hands, same old clothes from 600 years, ago, skeletal, he’s a lich, Antoine is incredibly dense, weird phenomenon, who is telling this story and why, age 90, who is he telling this to?, subversive ways of reading it, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, set in Italy, wounded somehow, banditi, the scions of the house he’s in, the chateaus are both frowning, metonymy or synecdoche, the head of an old man, wooded around the base and has a head, a less sexual reading, given the crowning, the women are immediately killed, sacrificed to the devil and died in childbirth, 25 (or 32) generations without girls, Crusader Kings II, the painter paints his wife so well, entranced, wrought, THIS IS INDEED LIFE ITSELF!, aghast, FOOL! CAN YOU NOT GUESS MY SECRET?, it is I I I I, I love that ending, do you not know how the secret of life was solved?, I’ve been studying these texts, he speaks Latin, if you stick only to the text, the new document that has been handed down from father to son, why is that gold there?, to rebuild the estate, he never leaves the house, wait another 32 years, Antoine has these secrets now, he kills him with fire, the relationship between the two men and the two families, all about the other, cursed to fulfill his curse, move on, in the comic adaptation, 10,000 generations, feeling sorry for Charles, they live in the same castle, you idiot!, a black blob still alive, look at how many of these have the same theme, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, about a lich who inhabits one of his own descendants, The Thing On The Doorstep, ancestral papers, The Rats In The Walls, its within, the H.P.L.H.S. adaptation, De La Pore, the letter is lost, the family curse, an excellent adaptation by Julie Hoverson of 19 NOCUTURNE BOULEVARD, A(udio)D(rama)Infinitum, Maissa’s podcast: The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi, free and amateur audio drama, as a comedy, single person narrative, the phone call is coming from inside the house, what he’s doing in that room, House Of Long Shadows, Lovecraft’s little twist on the Gothic, a serial killer, The Castle Of Otranto, at the end of a traditional gothic, traditional Scooby-Doo, a naturalistic explanation, a narrative within the narrative, a framed story, a framed portrait, wooo spooky, the second to last page, disliking the sight I turned away (from the Gothic door), very wondering about his father and his ancestors, his servant Pierre, upon my 21st birthday, of the most startling nature, the gravest of my apprehension, a certain circumstance which I always deemed strange, a certain sandwich place, my belief in the supernatural was firm and deep seated, OF COURSE!, he’s been studying the occult books in the library, at age 90 his beliefs are no longer firm, he literally faints, not an actual curse, the sorcery in this story, the house of C__., straight out of Shakespeare, the magic spell, that was Charles pushing that rock, it IS a comedy, is he the son of the devil?, presumably she gave birth prior to the burning, this story is getting better and better, so many parallels between the two families, one redeeming ray of humanity, a fierce intensity, a more than filial affection, “you killed my stepdad/lover”, he’s an alchemist not a sorcerer, the appearance of magic, I figured out a way to make gold and I also learned how to make the elixir of life, the curse is that he’s cursed himself, the philosopher’s stone, things move around, a liquid stone, the burning liquid, the progenitor, Pierre means stone, is Pierre a golem?, a reagent, a catalyst, there’s this stuff called DNA that’s magic, he passes through the Gothic door, why does Lovecraft do it?, is he making this interesting point?, it MAY have been gold, I was strangely effected by that which I’d undergone, Dark Of The Hillside Thickets, the boy Antoine, the wild ravines and grottoes, dusty forest, it’s The Outsider, in trying to sell this to Maissa, he had a dragon head, he was not allowed to talk to the kids of the village, maybe the castle has no mirrors, the dragon-headed boy that you are, he doesn’t know what he is, there IS no Charles le Sorcier, suckered in with poetry, the gothicness of it, I preceded back some distance, suddenly feel to my experience, its rusted hinges, a dream from 1909, two human skulls, Carl Jung, that’s a death-wish who do you want to kill, a map of his soul, its in the air, a plumbing the depths of your own castle, clothing the hills, The Haunted Palace by Edgar Allan Poe, all skully, all rotty,

XVI. The Window

The house was old, with tangled wings outthrown,
Of which no one could ever half keep track,
And in a small room somewhat near the back
Was an odd window sealed with ancient stone.
There, in a dream-plagued childhood, quite alone
I used to go, where night reigned vague and black;
Parting the cobwebs with a curious lack
Of fear, and with a wonder each time grown.

One later day I brought the masons there
To find what view my dim forbears had shunned,
But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.

David Lindsay’s Voyage To Arcturus, an inner journey, Music Of Erich Zann, Julie’s Lovecraft Five audio dramas are now out in Germany, full of morphine charm and comfortable goose, archetypes, Arthur Jermyn, backstory, The Dunwich Horror is all backstory, C. Auguste Dupin, The Picture In The House, the way it is told is different, at least that’s what I told the police, The Haunter Of The Dark, From Beyond, The Shunned House, a vampire’s elbow, beautiful dead women vs. architecture, a library of an ancient family, is my line cursed?,

The House

‘Tis a grove-circled dwelling
Set close to a hill,
Where the branches are telling
Strange legends of ill;
Over timbers so old
That they breathe of the dead,
Crawl the vines, green and cold,
By strange nourishment fed;
And no man knows the juices they suck from the depths of their dank slimy bed.

In the gardens are growing
Tall blossoms and fair,
Each pallid bloom throwing
Perfume on the air;
But the afternoon sun
With its shining red rays
Makes the picture loom dun
On the curious gaze,
And above the sweet scent of the the blossoms rise odours of numberless days.

The rank grasses are waving
On terrace and lawn,
Dim memories sav’ring
Of things that have gone;
The stones of the walks
Are encrusted and wet,
And a strange spirit stalks
When the red sun has set,
And the soul of the watcher is fill’d with faint pictures he fain would forget.

It was in the hot Junetime
I stood by that scene,
When the gold rays of noontime
Beat bright on the green.
But I shiver’d with cold,
Groping feebly for light,
As a picture unroll’d—
And my age-spanning sight
Saw the time I had been there before flash like fulgury out of the night.

Lovecraft sees a house, The Lurking Fear, the grass is strangely over-nourished, drawing the conversation, what does this evoke in us?, appreciating what’s going on, you’re seeing things better, a different myth cycle, connections between The White Ape and The Picture In The House, what this evolution stuff, the narcissistic wound, we thought we were god’s chosen turns out , a white man in somebody’s basement getting your revenge every 32 years, it seems a rudimentary story, no cosmic or metaphysical element, there’s something about the end, You fool! Warren is dead!, recognize the will, Arthur Schopenhauer, the only way out is to deny the will, he’s a bad alchemist, the eternal return of killing, he’s made a metaphysical mistake, not everyone really lives, The Cask Of Amontillado, you who know me so well, his confessor, Fortunado, I got away with it, why are we being told this story, is he living in an old folks’ home, The Name Of The Rose by Umberto Eco, renewing an old horror?, The Beast In The Cave, The Lurking Fear, became a C.H.U.D., whatchoo gonna do about it son?, so many thing unsaid, Marissa couldn’t stop thinking about it, he has a dragonface, from its machicolated parapet, stones or boiling oil, mounted battlements, worm eaten wainscots, that’s what he does with his time, he explores the ruins, called to the land beyond, the only human creature, cobwebs in profusion, untenanted gloom, dream holiday, bat and alchemist guano, he’s down there sciencing, the kid was fine, Lovecraft’s interest in witches, a political or social charge, sorcery in Saudi Arabia, Russia’s interfering in our elections (with magical ads on Facebook), Russian stooges, the old fashioned way, back to the children being killed, Gilles de Rais, The Unnameable, Mr Jim Moon, Cotton Mather, at the southward there was a Beast, this fellow was hereupon examined, infamous, they tortured him, the eye thing, he’s reading all these old books, he is that guy in the tower, his house is collapsing, he achieved his immortality, Malleus Maleficarum, vanishing testicles, he spent his whole childhood in a castle reading books.

The Alchemist by H.P. Lovecraft - comic book cover art by Octavio Cariello

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #073

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #073 – Jesse talks with Luke Burrage and Gregg Margarite about the Audible Frontiers/Brilliance Audio audiobook of Earth Abides by George R. Stewart!

Talked about on today’s show:
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, New York City, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the best post-apocalyptic novel, a lost classic, a calm method of exposition, a student of history, Isherwood Williams, very vivid and deeply imagined, how do you define Science Fiction?, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, philosophical nuts and bolts, the central crisis is left unexplained, the science in Earth Abides, “I understand people better after reading this book”, breeding cycles, Hard Biological Science Fiction, the disappearance of lice, overpopulation of the Earth, is it the author speaking or is it the main character?, ecology, there was no will to power, only a will to live, Baruch Spinoza, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, I can’t believe how long it took the guy to get to the library!, “how to render game”, “there’s lots of library love in this book”, “we’re not going to be the people that we were”, “the characters had to be ignorant out of laziness”, 1947, going to university, mediocrity is well loved, “why is dumb so cool?”, only people who are intelligent enough to ask the question…, does genius beget genius?, is intelligence particularly related to genetics?, nature/nurture, eugenics, is intelligence a particular interest rather than something in the brain?, superior interest vs. superior brainpower, Evie, finding the test, the IQ test, the observer’s position in the universe, “do you think what the government did to Alan Turing was wrong?”, the Apple logo inspired by Alan Turning’s suicide?, snopes.com, I knew I wanted to be friends with Gregg Margarite, LibriVox.org, the San Fransisco tribe, you cannot spoil this book, WWII, cargo cults, “would you ever be a member of a cargo cult?”, Montezuma and Quetzalcoatl, The Gods Must Be Crazy, religion, superstition, pinch your God, if God lived on earth people would break his windows, tribal sociological phenomena, the role of chiefs, the most interesting book about pinching I’ve ever read, “heartwarming pinching”, reading, despondence and acceptance, what does it really matter if humanity is dead?, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, intellectual arguments vs. emotional arguments, it’s very rare to be emotionally affected (to tears) by a book, narrator Jonathan Davis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, one of the best narrations that I’ve heard, Mike Resnick‘s Starship series, Star Wars, Connie Willis‘ introduction to Earth Abides, Deep Six by Jack McDevitt, “always skip over the introduction”, where does Isherwood’s name come from?, forgetting your own name, the character of Jack, I don’t read for characters, Isherwood thinks he’s an intellectual, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, “I would have taken out Electromechanical Engineering“, Emm and Ezra, Charlie, George (the carpenter/plumber), “even his dog (Princess)”, a friend’s quiz, people are not just what they know or what they read, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, “society is all the different bits and humanity is all the different bits”, adopting leaves as a currency, maybe the whole of Douglas Adams should be treated like a religious text, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a book about itself, Doctor Who, the dish of the day, other themes in Earth Abides, racism in Lucifer’s Hammer, what race is Emma?, does it matter?, the last American, people who are racist are people talk about race, race is a sociological idea, race is something – but it is not science, “I don’t live the history”, “they need to have somebody who are below them on the ladder”, Fox News, ideological reasons for watching TV, Glenn Beck is Mormon, Mormons believe that the Constitution of the United States was “divinely inspired”, his country is part of his ideology, the reason Orson Scott Card hates gays is because of his belief system, newspapers still have an Astrology section, there is no hegemony in Earth Abides, individuals interacting with one another, “people abide”, are you born of another?, matriarchy vs. patriarchy, “Is it a talisman? a totem? It’s single jack!”, “the power to destroy and drive in a nail”, a genius accident, the word “jack” means “doer”, Jack Bauer, semiotics, Jesus freaks vs. religious freaks, separating the voice of the author from the voice of the main character, The Last Man On Earth, The Last Man On Earth Blog, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Life After People, George R. Stewart wrote a biography of Bret Harte, Harte is far more complex than Louis L’Amour, Oakland, Mark Twain, recording for LibriVox.org, 2BOR02B by Kurt Vonnegut, we all know that Science Fiction has been carrying this burden, iambik audio, recording a 600 page book on the road, $1000 microphone, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, The Ego Machine by Henry Kuttner, the Del Rey “best of” books, The Best Of Jack Williamson, Frederick Pohl, Luke rates Earth Abides 4.5 out of 5 stars, “it’s good because it’s not very good in this way”, did it achieve what it set out to accomplish, The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, we are thoroughly impressed, Earth Abides is 13 CDs 15 Hours, time passing, the loss of reading, is literacy in and of itself a good?, giving the book away, separating technique from practical skills, bull dodging, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green, get Charlton Heston out of your head but keep Edward G. Robinson, The Omega Man, potential upcoming SFFaudio Readalongs, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle, Do Andoids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Valis, The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer and The Divine Invasion, Leo Tolstoy, the philosophy of art, “the only true art is folk art”, art is an abbreviation of the word artifact, a nuclear bomb is art to me, labor intensive art, venus figures, craft vs. art, I don’t think art has a place in this book?, I’m pretty sure something is going on about art in this book, I see similarities between petroglyphs and Pollock, maybe I was wrong, are we post structuralist, Duchamp, Aristotle’s Poetics, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, David Lynch’s Dune, Laurel and Hardy, Gilligan and the Skipper, Akira Kurosawa, George R. Stewart basically invented the disaster novel, Ordeal By Hunger by George R. Stewart (available from Blackstone Audio).

Posted by Jesse Willis