The SFFaudio Podcast #524 – AUDIOBOOK: The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #524 – The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, read by Gregg Margarite.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (2 Hours 47 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The Variable Man was first published in Space Science Fiction, September 1953.

We will discuss it next week.

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick from Space Science Fiction, September 1953 (pgs 6 and 7)

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick from Space Science Fiction, September 1953 (pg 29)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #520 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #520 – Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick; read by Mike Vendetti. 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:
medium length, Star Science Fiction Stories No. 3, public domain, the Philip K. Dick estate lied, fraudulent, pretty good, Ballantine Books, published in the Soviet Union, communist propaganda, paying his taxes on the rubles, appropriate, magazine supplement to Pravda, America gone mad with capitalist solutions to the problem of nuclear fallout, preppers, the whole society is deluded, preppers in reality, zombie apocalypse bag, what’s in your bug-out bag, survivalists, nuclear war, practicing for the bug-out, its mainstream, sharpening their knives, no STEM, the gym instructor, a psychological breakdown, stop, drop and roll, duck and cover, anachronistic, Electric Dreams, a documentary about life in China, we don’t have to worry about terrorism, x-rays at every subway shop, police are your friends, schools with face-recognition software, wow!, no masks for tricking cameras, a good thing, Safe And Sound, the commons vs. the private, not a satire, gender flipped, a kid has a nervous breakdown story, Tony And The Beetles, looking at the map and wondering how far you have to be to avoid being nuked, become a C.H.U.D., trying to survive in the subways, traumatizing, The Day After (1983), Reagan saw the TV movie?, kind of odd, summit talks with Mikhail Gorbachev, the adaptation doesn’t get into the history of civil defense, bomb shelters, post-apocalyptic literature, The Blitz, FEMA?, that part of being a citizen has atrophied, we don’t find out what a “P” is “anti-P” anti-preparedness, let’s get that same feeling, the United States was going crazy, school was agony as always, watertight baskets, NATS circling above, civil defense drones, private taxes, a preparedness rating, a prequel to the Fallout games, the 1950s-cyber-future, find the berries that won’t poison him, pretty monstrous, Fallout communities, a failed social experiment, Pip-boys, the Dex of the adaptation, a cellphone, all iPhone elements, it didn’t know what to do with what it had done, admission 50cents, the sirens are going off and this poor little kid doesn’t have 50cents to get into the public fallout shelter, with his audiobooks!, cooing and crying, a place of safety and security, the quest for safety, guns and gas-masks forever, how the NRA functions, to be fair, collecting, guys are collectors, Jay Leno’s garage, gun collecting, gun technology, gonna have to go to Linux this year!, guns can do jobs, the only purpose that the government has is to protect citizens collectively, the satire, our own personal navies, look at all these kids, this hippie kid, a Toyota Prius, “sheep”, “Hey, Mom-shirt!”, consumerism, C.C. McApp, fidget spinners, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, they made death so attractive, humans are jack-asses, harrowing, the boy is traumatized, commodification, all human relations are commodified, undercooked, unsaid, the whole end reveal, the clumsiest reveal, executive/government person, manufacture a fake attack, disinformation, manipulated into action, mental illness, trying to control the society more an more, a metaphor for insane security theater, Russia Russia Russia, Galaxy, December 1963, the dad has the right attitude, psychologically damaged by everyone around him, more for the PKD Rhetorizer: running a retail business, real wood furniture, a mistake, another drill?, so embedded (in a bubble), what did they think of it in the Soviet Union, a status symbol, a car has a utility, now you need an apartment that looks good on Instagram, let’s go out for a drink, make safety expensive, the world outside of the suburb, when you’re in a in a bubble, Reeboks are the only kind of shoe that’s cool to wear, Rambo II, you’re walkman isn’t a SONY Walkman, a school assembly about something political that kids can do nothing about, only in a memory, presented with the flag, it can be read as a bitter memory, the time you met Donald Trump, double think, double feeling, 10 years ago, the same president, he looked just like he does on TV, make the people afraid enough, Watchmen, you couldn’t even imagine how scary it is, A Boy And His Dog by Harlan Ellison, Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy, the president is the chief of the chamber of commerce, the Soviets are a complete enigma, boring technology, “Pay up more, Bob.”, the climate change apocalypse, New Zealand is a fallout shelter for the rich, Kim Dotcom, it was cheap, which countries will be the safest?, standing on the outside watching the helicopters fly away, radon, how to spot a terrorist, “if you see something, say something”, living in bubbles, domes?, did you see the map?, desertified, how the deserts are moving east, the place where they grow the food/fuel, soybeans, invest now!, the after show, Jesse asked for a show like Electric Dreams to be made, Jesse regrets, Jesse is being punished, hear-gel, somebody in the writer’s room got a medal for that one, the mean girls vs boy bullies, gender flipping, the mom doesn’t have the same kind of concerns, analogous, a representative of her bubble, you’re undermining everything that you came here for, what’s going on?, trapped outside, ooh a library scene!, a decision/explanation, to remove the ambiguity, communist or anti-communist or capitalist, unfragile, programmed, mind control, it doesn’t make any sense, backflash, something is wrong, could they do a straight-up adaptation?, we have evidence, the ideas behind a story, a story about consumerism, a show about Medicare for all, become your own doctor, nobody forces you to buy guns, wouldn’t this be a cool opening scene, basic writing problems, bracelets, the transformation of wants into needs, cellphones are necessities, the coercion is peer pressure, mandatory, corporate capitalism, android vs. Apple, Samsung, the explanation is bunk, they didn’t bother to make it make sense, Runciter High, just trying to be cute, fan-service, make it meaningful, eXistenZ (1999), how to get people onside, feeling burned, never wish for a TV show, the magic genie podcast, Evan’s review of Foster, You’re Dead, the final stages of capitalism, neo-liberalism, Bradley is now Chelsea Manning, “the wall” and the “government shutdown”, a collective threat, how the Great Wall of China got built, The Hanging Stranger, unless they can find a way of profit by building a wall then any government expenditure is bad, ground level, this is all ridiculous, Foster is a little kid, looking back, cold war, lacking perspective, excluded, reasons to be afraid, how cool is this story?, such a tragic image, we wanted to see that story, Jesse takes it all back, Jesse made a Monkey’s Paw wish, they’re not harming Philip K. Dick’s brand (nor are they helping), Ubik, Philip K. Dick would be delighted, the premise of this story,

One day I saw a newspaper headline reporting that the President suggested that if Americans had to buy their bomb shelters, rather than being provided with them by the government, they’d take better care of them, an idea which made me furious. Logically, each of us should own a submarine, a jet fighter, and so forth. Here I just wanted to show how cruel the authorities can be when it comes to human life, how they can think in terms of dollars, not people.

that’s cool,

By the way — the above mentioned story was picked up by Ogonek, the largest circulation Soviet weekly (1,500,00). They even drew a number of archaic, foul illustrations for it … so I have more readers in the USSR than in this country. An odd situation. I never got a cent for the reprint; I wrote to Ogonek, asking for a copy of the magazine, but they didn’t answer the letter.

he’s very happy about this, its not foul at all, a weird relationship with reality, communists are the greatest threat ever, reporting people to the FBI, a liar and delusional, what would you be thinking reading this in the Soviet Union?, people say all sorts of stupid stuff, isn’t it a really good satire, The Trigger Effect (1996), paranoia, a mini version of Cold War paranoia, mass hysteria, mass consumerism hysteria, why are we doubling down on Beanie Babies, competitors going going all Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kid, how bizarre it was, not just about nuclear war, I want my dishwasher, my clothes washer, a new car every year as a status symbol, a new iPhone every year, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the twist is that the nannies fight each-other, planned obsolescence, dual use, the ultimate in consumerism satire, Sales Pitch, not funny, just scary.

Interior illustration for the Soviet publication of Foster, You're Dead by Philip K. Dick

COVER illustration of the Soviet publication of Foster, You're Dead by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #512 – AUDIOBOOK: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #512 – Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown, read by Karen Joan Kohoutek.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (7 hours 28 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.

Wieland was first published in 1798.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

Doubleday Dolphin - Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

DTV - Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

DayZ - Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #511 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Canal by Everil Worrell

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #511 – The Canal by Everil Worrell; read by Wayne June. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (53 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Wayne June

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, December 1927, a vampire story, H.P. Lovecraft, an alternative version of the story’s ending, dynamite vs. a wooden sword, Wikisource, The James Dickey, white caps on the canal, low key, that bitch is getting it, where’s the dynamite?, no secret cavern only opened by a , have I got dementia?, the April 1935 reprint, the Night Gallery half hour TV adaptation, fix Skype, Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, shooting day for night, very dream like, 1960s westerns, as bright as daylight, Lesley Ann Warren smokin’ hot, so sexually provocative, her middle name is cleavage, drunk this other dude, red bedspread, evoking the attraction, essentially a skeleton, a heart shaped face, she’s bony, a very well written student, the amount of poetic techniques she uses, super-high level, I didn’t intend that to be poetry, writing a very long suicide note, all these ppp sounds, repetition, the last ravings of a madman, the thing I shall have done, where did the changes come from?, her father has a giant stake, stab me with your giant wooden stake, that’s a lot of symbolism there, do we think that Everil Worrel made those changes?, the whole heroic aspect, in one fell swoop, drama, toned down, beef up the ending?, paid by the word, a Hollwood Blockbuster ending, the camp invasion, bitten by rats, he’s killing everybody, do all the people in the camp die?, infected, he’s a little hard to follow, everybody’s going to die, whoever did this was a monster, a cargo of death, when she first became the thing she is, expiation, redemption, atonement, a very Catholic Christian religious word, it isn’t so much about the girl, the narrator is very Lovecraftian, he loves to be alone, not afraid to being hanging out alone in the dark, meditating in graveyards, night walks, driving out to the countryside, in Paris?, along its left bank?, every canal has a left bank (and a right bank too), fallen into disuse, the River Walk in San Antonio, “Morton”, Hyacinth is slightly better than Lily, she’s telepathic, his name is “Ron”, fishmongers, easier to fit into a half hour, some of the leaps, the 1927 illustration by Hugh Rankin, grease-pencil, a flapper haircut, a dance move, giant bats, “Loathsome shapes flapped through the night along the way that led to the pleasure camps.”, a roadster, a motorboat, early fall?, he’s already got a whole lifestyle going, that smell, what’s going on with the dilapidated buildings, these aren’t gypsies exactly, a recreational thing?, a portable brothel?, pleasure is a weird word, “She’s a vampire. A vampire!, VAMPIRES!”, the storm had a rock hit him in the head, feasting, the more minimal ending, we have to infer how she got there, she commands him to carry her, my father is deaf and he sleeps soundly, metaphors, he sleeps by night, not lying, you sleep soundly, a pique in my voice, always at different times, on guard, she ate a child, the father has to kill her, the father’s story, maybe the father died after?, imagining the backstory, lonely places, she’s an attraction he’d never felt before, a mossy gravestone, did the father invent all that?, global pandemic, I’ve read Dracula, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, making explicit, one of the few vampire stories in which the narrator is familiar with vampire fiction, running water, the rules, meta-context, genre saavy, two different subgengres, a Robert E. Howard ending, the shorter version is rather Edgar Allan Poe like, which did Lovecraft read, a strong echo of Hypnos and The Hound, one is enthralled to another, ending in the night side of the city, where the nice people don’t go, so many echoes, a city at night, Fungi From Yuggoth was written in December 1929 to early 1930, The Call Of Cthulhu, maybe August Derleth “improved” it, The Grove of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, Dagon, the plunger, the plunger!, not better, more poignant, pointy sword, why is he carrying around a wooden sword?, the wooden sword, decapitated with a Bowie knife, a fudge between the two, The Canal by H.P. Lovecraft, January 1938, Somewhere in dream there is an evil place

Where tall, deserted buildings crowd along
A deep, black, narrow channel, reeking strong
Of frightful things whence oily currents race.
Lanes with old walls half meeting overhead
Wind off to streets one may or may not know,
And feeble moonlight sheds a spectral glow
Over long rows of windows, dark and dead.

There are no footfalls, and the one soft sound
Is of the oily water as it glides
Under stone bridges, and along the sides
Of its deep flume, to some vague ocean bound.
None lives to tell when that stream washed away
Its dream-lost region from the world of clay.

oil, inspired by Worrell, there’s no vampire lady, more architecture based than lady based, less Poey than Frank Lloyd Wrighty, no trace of oil, an image you would think of, like scum, mental oil, Richard Corben’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Canal, a mystery city, The Music Of Eric Zann, these mystery cities, a great name for a guy who loves death, poems with this imagery, a river, a canal, or a stream, What The Moon Brings, I hate the moon, The Nightmare Lake, the corpse of a god, a tarn, so brutal, the slime beneath the unmoving waters of the canal, a slimy muddy expanse, The Crawling Chaos, his horror nightmares, The Night Ocean by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft, to rest a weary mind, the same psychology, The Lake, the most wondrous delight, which version, from Tamarlane And Other Poems,

In youth’s spring, it was my lot
To haunt of the wide earth a spot
The which I could not love the less;
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound.
And the tall pines that tower’d around.
But when the night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot — as upon all,
And the wind would pass me by
In its stilly melody,
My infant spirit would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.
Yet that terror was not fright —
But a tremulous delight,
And a feeling undefin’d,
Springing from a darken’d mind.
Death was in that poison’d wave
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his dark imagining;
Whose wild’ring thought could even make
An Eden of that dim lake.

almost not dark enough to be Poe until the last quarter, a children’s book of Poe’s poems for children, Annabelle Lee, The Loved Dead, a ghostly couple hovering over that lake, two ghosts rather than one, place and fate, I could care less, which vs. witch, under a spell, wild bewildering, bound, Archibald Lampman, multi-valence, bound = tied up = springing = the boundary, this is a suicide note, his youngest young, solace homophone with soul-less, a very Poe poem, the horror of existence, the tremulous delight, that’s night fright or cold, that’s excitement, an amazing suicide note to give to kids to read, all the virtues of suicide, parent teacher meetings, no suicides yet, keeping things in the open, sometimes people go nuts, you need to talk to a doctor, the May 1953 issue of Weird Tales has a letter from Everil Worrell saying how much she enjoyed Lovecraft’s writing, The Supreme Witch, Slime is terrific, cosmic and spatial about the dark ocean, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, The Raft, The Egyptian, The Dream Merchant, agree with Lovecraft’s detractors, Lovecraft vocabulary, “foul mephitic vapours”, horrific ululations, it wasn’t so much Lovecraft did but how he did it, a really good mom, you can be a horrible monster loving graveyard sniffing weirdo and also be a good mom, it gives Wayne hope, you’re going to love The Loved Dead, such a delight to read, so extreme, its not going to show you, on the corpse board, and he’s a serial killer too, Kissed (1996), We So Seldom Look On Love, a tasteful necrophiliac film, actors to play the corpses, a letter story from a 13 year old girl, in love with the corpses, freaky deaky, everybody needs some body to love, the puns about necrophilia.

The Canal by Everil Worrell - Illustrated by Hugh Rankin

NIGHT GALLERY Death On A Barge

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #507 – Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 36 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Wayne June

Talked about on today’s show:
aunt?, ownt?, The London Mercury, April 1922, H.P. Lovecraft, pretty damn interesting, is it a ghost story?, Robert Aickman, Fontana Book Of Ghost Stories (Volume 1), M.R. James,, E.F. Benson, Thomas Liggoti, is it a vampire story?, a very successful ghost story, is it a witchcraft story?, necromancy, psychic vampirism, all about mood and sustaining a mood, atmospheric, very, creepiness sneaks in, chills up and down the spine,

“Deserving of distinguished notice as a forceful craftsman to whom an unseen mystic world is ever a close and vital reality is the poet Walter de la Mare, whose haunting verse and exquisite prose alike bear consistent traces of a strange vision reaching deeply into veiled spheres of beauty and terrible and forbidden dimensions of being.”

in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, rumors about an ancient castle under which is a conclave of demons, not truckle with psychological fudging, real life stories, never tipped over the abyss, a feeling of being haunted, the weight of disbelief, monster,

“Of the shorter tales, of which several volumes exist, many are unforgettable for their command of fear’s and sorcery’s darkest ramifications; notably Seaton’s Aunt, in which there lowers a noxious background of malignant vampirism”

Shades Of Darkness adaptation, 9/10ths close to the book, a big switcheroo, switching the roles, dialogue from the story, adaptations are people interpreting, interpretive decisions, the girl Alice, more life to her at the beginning, the casting, what a role, a role of a lifetime, no eating, a mountain of a woman vs. doll-like, that thin and hungry look, her hair, a wig, dark hair, all this history, how intense people are, things going on, the number of parallel things that are happening, the first meeting the second meeting, the school, the strand, creepier, it feels like an actual memoir, weary of for no good reason, Withers, why is he telling this story, a chapter in a memoir, not very good person, Seaton’s not perfect, maybe this aunt is very moral, she does pretty much everything wrong, a huge colossal biotch, from a shit’s point of view, “a creature”, why does she act that way, she’s a prick or in league with the devil, she is a monster (in a any sense of the word), a horrible person, spite, little mind games, this is not Seaton’s story, may ownt, an extraordinary figure, a non-supernatural story, what made a person like this?, maybe she just way to much Lovecraft when she was young, we English, pongo, ape, monkey, bribed every time, some jam, lunch, expensive wine, the everyman, self-involved, does she kill him?, the roles were switched, bells and sparks, that chess scene,

Seaton’s aunt was wearing an extraordinary kind of lace jacket when we sidled sheepishly into the drawing-room together. She greeted me with a heavy and protracted smile, and bade me bring a chair close to the little table.

“I hope Arthur has made you feel at home,” she said, as she handed me my cup in her crooked hand. “He don’t talk much to me; but then I’m an old woman. You must come again, Wither, and draw him out of his shell. You old snail!” She wagged her head at Seaton, who sat munching cake and watching her intently.

his room is full of cages, down at the pond, a dysfunctional family,

“And we must correspond, perhaps.” She nearly shut her eyes at me. “You must write and tell me everything behind the creature’s back.” I confess I found her rather disquieting company. The evening drew on. Lamps were brought in by a man with a nondescript face and very quiet footsteps. Seaton was told to bring out the chess-men. And we played a game, she and I, with her big chin thrust over the board at every move as she gloated over the pieces and occasionally croaked “Check!”—after which she would sit back inscrutably staring at me. But the game was never finished. She simply hemmed me defencelessly in with a cloud of men that held me impotent, and yet one and all refused to administer to my poor flustered old king a merciful coup de grâce.

teaching chess, the aunt and Withers are parallel, Arthur chose him, something of his aunt there, toying and sparing,

“There,” she said as the clock struck ten—”a drawn game, Withers. We are very evenly matched. A very creditable defence, Withers. You know your room. There’s supper on a tray in the dining-room. Don’t let the creature over-eat himself. The gong will sound three-quarters of an hour before a punctual breakfast.” She held out her cheek to Seaton, and he kissed it with obvious perfunctoriness. With me she shook hands.

“An excellent game,” she said cordially, “but my memory is poor, and”—she swept the pieces helterskelter into the box—”the result will never be known.” She raised her great head far back. “Eh?”

It was a kind of challenge, and I could only murmur: “Oh, I was absolutely in a hole, you know!” when she burst out laughing and waved us both out of the room.

immoral behavior, a cloud of men, how she treats her nephew, Withers or Johnson or Wither or Smithers, another dig, tapping into something very British, mirrored, a dishonest narrator, passing judgement on all and sundry, a hideous old beast, she’s not such a bad old stick, a dull stolid chap, what’s expected, a public school attitude, everyone’s a jolly good sort, a mask for bad behavior, a cavalier with the truth, very calculated, foibles of behavior, you are nothing to me, it’s a test, dare you correct an old lady, is she’s too self aware?, if this were a true memoir, they sneak into her room and hide in her closet, too intellectual for her own good, why she’s a miss, about half way through the book,

We turned and walked slowly towards the house, across whose windows I confess my own eyes, too, went restlessly wandering in search of its rather disconcerting inmate. There was a pathetic look of draggledness, of want of means and care, rust and overgrowth and faded paint. Seaton’s aunt, a little to my relief, did not share our meal. Seaton carved the cold meat, and dispatched a heaped-up plate by an elderly servant for his aunt’s private consumption. We talked little and in half-suppressed tones, and sipped a bottle of Madeira which Seaton had rather heedfully fetched out of the great mahogany sideboard.

I played him a dull and effortless game of chess, yawning between the moves he himself made almost at haphazard, and with attention elsewhere engaged. About five o’clock came the sound of a distant ring, and Seaton jumped up, overturning the board, and so ending a game that else might have fatuously continued to this day.

no malice, interpretation, he’s turning into her, becoming more sympathetic to her, my aunt, we lost all our money, fairly obvious, the aunt has spent the inheritance, stopping at the chemists to get rat poison, WHY?, is Seaton trying to kill his aunt?, a half-term holiday, for his own use, another parallel, what’s with the bangle?, only when pirating, a craze for wearing a ring, a craze for wearing bangles, wearing a rubber band as a bangle, a little affectation, a bit of jewelry, more adult, a bit glamorous, to be interesting and opulent, bullying, perfectly horrid, a touch of the tar brush, not white enough, a bit debonair, a bit gypsy,

I can scarcely describe with what curious ruminations I led the way into the faded, heavy-aired dining-room, with this indefinable old creature leaning weightily on my arm—the large flat bracelet on the yellow-laced wrist.

they are isolated, a maiden aunt, a malevolent creature, sometimes people are weird, weird household cultures, lobster mayonnaise, game sausages, the salad is the monster, a gargantuan appetite, you can’t scare me with your ghost stories, I’ll take it, she’s sure to be quite decent to you, code for child sexual abuse, she’s just a woman, does she lie ever?, the eye in the room, is this an Innsmouth story?, a lot of fishy eyes in this story, Irving S. Cobb’s Fishhead, frog boy?, did he go to the pond, or the sea?, her younger brother, she might be being misread, people turning into dust, Seaton is turning into his aunt, something you like to eat, so interesting,

We walked up the village street, past the little dingy apothecary’s and the empty forge, and, as on my first visit, skirted the house together, and, instead of entering by the front door, made our way down the green path into the garden at the back. A pale haze of cloud muffled the sun; the garden lay in a grey shimmer—its old trees, its snap-dragoned faintly glittering walls. But now there was an air of slovenliness where before all had been neat and methodical. In a patch of shallowly-dug soil stood a worn-down spade leaning against a tree. There was an old broken wheelbarrow. The roses had run to leaf and briar; the fruit-trees were unpruned. The goddess of neglect brooded in secret.

the Goddess of neglect, what the hell does that mean?, the whole opposite view of this whole thing, he’s dying, is he digging his own grave?, his way to try to get away, a keen naturalist, he’s making the best of a bad situation, I like wildness, forklift trucks to do her goddamned hair, the keys to his trust fund, salving a scrap of conscience, a bit of a tightfist, the money is running out, nuts and fruit, he doesn’t want to get too fat, tadpoles, between becoming what he’s going to be, the aunt croaks, he will never,

on one memorable occasion went to the length of bestowing on me a whole pot of some outlandish mulberry-coloured jelly that had been duplicated in his term’s supplies. In the exuberance of my gratitude I promised to spend the next half-term holiday with him at his aunt’s house.

expensive madeira, she sounds like a Lovecraft,

She confided in us her views on a theme vaguely occupying at the moment, I suppose, all our minds. “We have barbarous institutions, and so must put up, I suppose, with a never-ending procession of fools—of fools ad infinitum. Marriage, Mr. Withers, was instituted in the privacy of a garden; sub Rosa, as it were. Civilization flaunts it in the glare of day. The dull marry the poor; the rich the effete; and so our New Jerusalem is peopled with naturals, plain and coloured, at either end. I detest folly; I detest still more (if I must be frank, dear Arthur), mere cleverness. Mankind has simply become a tailless host of indistinctive animals. We should never have taken to Evolution, Mr. Withers. ‘Natural Selection!’—little gods and fishes!—the deaf for the dumb. We should have used our brains—intellectual pride, the ecclesiastics call it. And by brains I mean—what do I mean, Alice?—I mean, my dear child”—and she laid two gross fingers on Alice’s narrow sleeve—”I mean courage. Consider it, Arthur. I read that the scientific world is once more beginning to be afraid of spiritual agencies. Spiritual agencies that tap, and actually float, bless their hearts! I think just one more of those mulberries—thank you.

sounding like Thomas Ligotti, everything sucks, the trap of pessimism, a certain truth to it, justification for all manner of barbarity and horror, survival of the fittest, neoliberal morality, atmosphere building, the deaf for the dumb, intellectual pride, what do I mean Alice?, I mean courage, spiritual agencies, an attack on spiritualism, worst wedding toast ever, worst host ever, my child brother died in it, sleep well, how big a deal, another theory, one more of those mulberries, bastard squirrels, almost all vegetation, pop goes the weasel, Babylonian mythology, silkworms, death and rebirth, they spin their own shroud, Seaton should run away, the horse, she never will or she never would, she knows everything we’re doing, is she telepathic?, does she know the boy is buying rat poison?, cages and boxes, a box with a worm in it, role reversal, a switch, something strange happens near the end, off to tea, she calls him Arthur, is that you Arthur?, the ghost of Arthur?, get out, she doesn’t know, she killed him but she doesn’t even know, a voracious appetite, getting psychically fatter, she’s lost her source of food, she’s dying, conversing with the dead, still floating around the house, nothing to feed off anymore, not wholly embodied, that all seeing eye, seeing into other people’s minds, is he first in his class?, maybe if you apply the rules of science it’s almost like she’s in a superposition, the pile of clothes on the floor, the shoes two meters apart pointing at each other, a bundle of clothes, she’s in her room and she’s not in her room, Schrödinger’s Aunt, she’s just a human being, this story does both, a horror story, she’s a vampiric-witch who can talk to ghosts, The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish gold, easy pickings, bottled souls, old shipmates, three new bottles, his yard, moss covered totemic gods from the South Seas, Smithers Withers Johnson, not wholly of this dimension, why she’s so weird, an alien trapped on Earth, she knows she’s a shit, he does the exact same stuff as she does, not of this earth, a tragedy, the whole takeaway, feeling a little guilt, a life tragedy, nothing but a trap, you’re either a feeder or you’re the food, not an Oscar Wilde, outside of society, so masterfully put together, another way of going, she’s mean because she gives him the small room, who made the room full of cages and boxes, playing goth music all night, all about interpretation, a reflection of me (being in a cage), interesting parallels, a black widow spider, Wayne doesn’t buy that she’s innocent, in league with the devil, what happened to her brother?, a theory for Mr Jim Moon, The Terror Of The Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mother of pearl, a monster in the mine, a letter Seaton, Samuel Seaton, the painting on the wall, the one with the eye is S. Seaton, retelling it as a modern story, he has a VIC 20!, security cameras in every room, we have the same kinds of issues and problems today, most manifest in her awareness of what she’s doing, self-conscious, Alice is almost consciousless, did she move away?, who did she escape?, a weird race of two, the deep one crown in a chest of jewlery, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, trying to find a place to put my sympathy, they’re screwed individually and in combination, All Hallows by Walter de la Mare, a sour church, Blackwood and Machenesque, a BBC Radio abridgement, the story becomes insane without pauses,

you know your space, a powerfully interesting way of writing, layering in themes that are almost ineffable, just words, so much is the way its told, a liberated thoughtful lady, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, occult skill, charged with mockery and bitterness, ruined, processing through a filter of hate, began to play the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. The piano was old and woolly. She played without music. The lamplight was rather dim. The moonbeams from the window lay across the keys. Her head was in shadow. And whether it was simply due to her personality or to some really occult skill in her playing I cannot say: I only know that she gravely and deliberately set herself to satirize the beautiful music. It brooded on the air, disillusioned, charged with mockery and bitterness. I stood at the window; far down the path I could see the white figure glimmering in that pool of colourless light. A few faint stars shone, and still that amazing woman behind me dragged out of the unwilling keys her wonderful grotesquerie of youth, and love, and beauty. It came to an end. I knew the player was watching me. “Please, please, go on!” I murmured, without turning. “Please go on playing, Miss Seaton.”

No answer was returned to my rather fluttering sarcasm, but I knew in some indefinite way that I was being acutely scrutinized, when suddenly there followed a procession of quiet, plaintive chords which broke at last softly into the hymn, A Few More Years Shall Roll.

what significance did the hymn have for her?

I confess it held me spellbound. There is a wistful, strained, plangent pathos in the tune; but beneath those masterly old hands it cried softly and bitterly the solitude and desperate estrangement of the world. Arthur and his lady-love vanished from my thoughts. No one could put into a rather hackneyed old hymn-tune such an appeal who had never known the meaning of the words. Their meaning, anyhow, isn’t commonplace.

I turned very cautiously and glanced at the musician. She was leaning forward a little over the keys, so that at the approach of my cautious glance she had but to turn her face into the thin flood of moonlight for every feature to become distinctly visible. And so, with the tune abruptly terminated, we steadfastly regarded one another, and she broke into a chuckle of laughter.

engaging with him like an adult, the clothes of a man, his coat is too big for him, so grateful for the invitation, I really appreciate it because I’m dying, the paranoid literal ghost haunted victim of an in-league-with-the-devil-aunt, nothing more than a coffin, my brother William died, there’s hundreds of eyes like that in the house, I shan’t stand it much longer, did Seaton commit suicide?, all my plans are falling into place, the old mulberry jelly trick, we are told he has lavish pocket money, that would be in character, so lonely, the bangle as an amulet against her, Alice Outram, some good stuff, a now lost medieval village in Derbyshire, early 1900s travel, piggy back rides and hiding in closets, candles, a fascinating story, Seaton is definitely a liar, you were supposed to best man, more on the ball, creeped by the aunt, you hypocrite, a mismatch between emotions and what people say, being clever and arch, snarky, is it about control or just being playful, so much free-rangeness, allowed bullying to flourish, snapchat bullying, the mistakes of perception that you have in childhood, a confession story, somewhere in there Withers is having an argument with Seaton, some guilt, mistreating the old bird, what she says, calculated cruelty, emotionally abusive, emotionally neglectful, no sexual or physical abuse, she never lies to him, she never gaslights him, that never happened, you’re wrong, she demeans him, she knows everything that I think and what I do, he’s a squashed human, squashed at school, victimness, uninterested in his emotional being, baby monkeys, the monkey Withers, a monkey in with a tadpole, very subversive, what is the question, what is this story?, not fantasy, not science fiction, definitely weird fiction, vampire is stronger than ghosts (in here), prehistoricism, eternal evil, Silurians (Doctor Who reference), Doggerland, it feels so Lovecrafty because of all the fish, he is doomed, The Rats In The Walls, The Moon Bog, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan,

And again I paused irresolutely a few paces further on. It was not fancy, merely a foolish apprehension of what the raw-boned butcher might “think” that prevented my going back to see if I could find Seaton’s grave in the benighted churchyard. There was precious little use in pottering about in the muddy dark, merely to discover where he was buried. And yet I felt a little uneasy. My rather horrible thought was that, so far as I was concerned—one of his extremely few friends—he had never been much better than “buried” in my mind.

dark!, a dark philosophy,

I was not a man of the world, nor was I much flattered in my stiff and dullish way of looking at things by being called one; and I could answer her without the least hesitation.

“I don’t think, Miss Seaton, I’m much of a judge of character. She’s very charming.”

“A brunette?”

“I think I prefer dark women.”

“And why? Consider, Mr. Withers; dark hair, dark eyes, dark cloud, dark night, dark vision, dark death, dark grave, dark!”

she’s goth, yo,

Perhaps the climax would have rather thrilled Seaton, but I was too thick-skinned. “I don’t know much about all that,” I answered rather pompously. “Broad daylight’s difficult enough for most of us.”

Seaton's Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #504 – AUDIOBOOK: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #504 – The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, read by Phil Chenevert .

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (5 hours 21 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.

The Jungle Book was first published in 1894.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Posted by Jesse Willis