The SFFaudio Podcast #699 – READALONG: The Doomed City by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #699 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Doomed City by Arkady Strugatsky and Boris Strugatsky.

Talked about on today’s show:
Strugatsky, 1989 kind of, 1972, late 1960s, how to classify this book’s publication story, who had read this before, Roadside Picnic, weird late publication, Stalker (1979), 2017 audiobook, the afterword, the introduction, Soviet science fiction, literature in the Soviet Union, Red Plenty, if a book doesn’t have a manuscript, if it doesn’t get read by readers it doesn’t exist, the carbon copy, a book that can frustrate people, not really a science fiction novel as much as it is an existential novel, a role playing game made out of this setting, a worker in a big office building, possessed vending machines, Control, freak your shit out, single player video game, garbage worker, baboons show up, wander off into the North, jump off the precipice, Disco Elysium, strange philosophical conversations, skill tree, intrusive thoughts, weird psychology, hilarious, playing it straight, completely deranged, develop different relationships with people, a meta, did this book remind you of any books?, Dark City (1998), an undefined place and time, 1950s Leningrad, Driftwood by Marie Brennan, fantasy kingdom, squeezed towards the center, City At the End Of Time by Greg Bear, dream-like reality, the Red Building, Cinnabar [by Edward Bryant], M. John Harrison’s Viriconium series, resonance, Plato’s The Republic, The Just City by Jo Walton, The Investigation by Stanisław Lem, the Riverworld series by Philip Jose Farmer, To Our Scattered Bodies Go, chess board, internal stuff, John Brunner’s The Squares Of The City, moving people around, Charles Stross’ Missile Gap, an Alderson disc, ICBMs no longer work, the Siege Of Leniningrad, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman, Last Exit by Max Gladstone, the pyramid, A Maze Of Death, Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick, Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, amalgamated and reconstituted, a book about art, The Wall Of Darkness by Arthur C. Clarke, Super Science Stories, July 1949, Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, distinctive styles, contemplating a stairway and holding a Möbius strip, an Elon Musk style character funds a stairway to see over a wall, awesome story, an Omni story, The Infinite Plane by Paul J. Nahin, Travel By Wire by Arthur C. Clarke, the food becomes poison, the clock of the Long Now [Foundation], left handed food, no comparative thoughts, The Truman Show (1998), artificial worlds, the Soviet context, the heroic stage, friendly with a Nazi, the end, art and culture being the greatest good, the Temple, powerful writing, the Siege of Leningrad, I was in Cambodia, I was in Waco with Koresh, the most lethal, a rival source of power, the Soviet center, the great strategist, playing chess with human bodies, another Omni story, imaginary numbers, math fiction, a Soviet peasant makes a set of chessmen, capitalists vs. workers, enchantment, how chess can be played, it doesn’t matter if your king is taken, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the truth is whatever I tell you it is, angel/alien, a deeply flawed main character, he wants to leave the library, an emblem, not answering that stuff, this is us on Earth here, randomocracy, it’s just happening, the ethnography, Swedes, Germans, Koreans, an American with a cowboy hat, that open time, so global, the existential element, everybody is here, we’re told it is voluntary, you died there, bud, a camouflaged criticism, everybody will become communist, continue the program, lacking geographic specificity, NATO, good branding, if you have faith, there are no kids in this city, a garbage collector to a policeman to the mayor to the president to the leader of an expedition, doctors too?, a lawyer, bricklayer, somewhat failing experiment, it can only be failed, out of control, German efficiency, a classic utopian thing, The Lottery In Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges, a gardener, a response to a reality, you can not fall any further, a stoic philosophy, choosing not to be upset, willing to suffer the swamps, pleasant swamps, 1950s gulag, city/country divide, the farmers, the Truckers this week, coming into the city in a convoy, one of these farmers has a machine gun, we need that machinegun to get rid of the baboons, policies made in extremis, German POWs lodged with farmers, trapped on the continent, we called that slavery, 3rd amendment to the U.S. constitution, the baboon invasion, a metaphor for something, Dan Simmons’ The Terror, leaded meat, going insane, the crystal palace, endless plain, monsters, a premonition, the giant statue, an obvious super-metaphor, Stalin and Lenin statues, William Hope Hodgson, the heat death of the Solar System, The Night Land, geothermal energy, an anti-city, wireless transmission, a horseless knight with a circular saw, a geological force, a 17th century gentleman, existential and talky, a classical romance in an insane setting, there is meaning in images and events, we are not privy, the stuff that is not there, the guy who issues the toilet paper, important notes, committee meeting minutes, a curious puppy, playing the game in his way, giggling at everything, anti-semitism, he gets the last word, he’s the brains of the operation, physically jewish, an engagement with judaism, what the temple is about, producing culture, respecting the intellect, the people of the book, Jerusalem and Moscow, crazy reviews, misogyny, skank (not slattern), a Soviet style phrase, whiny sluts, wankrags for the guys, udders, in the police station, I don’t have that file, we don’t know everybody’s backstory, how could you?, no woman’s perspective, the basic pass on this is they are in Hell, Earth is Hell, capable of receiving pain, if you want to stay alive you have to kill, what are we to do, the experiment is the experiment, the devil god, hunger isn’t the problem we just don’t have enough food, our swedish friend, the military skank, they pickup somehow, everything that’s elided, previous iterations of the city, left incomplete, going downstairs to sleep with her, corrupted, WWII into the 1970s, a story of disillusionment, very Colonel Kurtz, Aguirre, The Wrath Of God (1972), the book begins with shit, the book ends with shit, reflected things, her beautiful white pristine legs, scabs bruises and abscesses, physically degenerating, their will is breaking, a blank landscape allows for deep reflection, Lena on Goodreads:

Depressing surreal social criticism that pretends to be a sci-fi. The parody on communism and soviet propaganda is quite obvious, but the story also takes deeper study of human society and nature. One star for misogyny, disgusting realism and unnecessary cruelty. Moreover authors didn’t give any explanation to the world-building nor uncover any plot’s mysteries.

where the reader has gone wrong, a funhouse mirror, through a mirror darkly, satire makes it sound like its fun, showing us truths, a misogynistic, its already in the world, when the revolution happens, sees the results, the emphasis on diarrhea and dysentery, things start in the gutter, a shit job, simple, available for you to see, the opening was terrific, The tanks were rusty, dented, and their lids were lose, potato husks, the mouth of an unkempt indiscriminate food pelican, a competent cop, it’s going to be gone when they get there, Andre is pretty incompetent, he doesn’t want to understand, haunted by the end, the temple speech, humanities, an astronomer, a sky that has one star and doesn’t move, Theodore Sturgeon’s Microcosmic God, the neoterrics, Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, just neglect, the humanities vs. the sciences, the mute mentor, circles, the emphasis on fecal matter, the afterlife, blast away at somebody, there’s no art in this city, all these shitty pulp magazines, no great writers, no great poets, a complaint, they’re not here, in the outer world, always in development, a very meta-book, its hard to write good art, are we writing good art?, a book review inside of a book, showing television in Robocop (1987), a condemnation of society, abundance riots, Nazi art, I don’t understand anything, reveal the truth about their world, the truth of the Red building, all will be revealed, nope, the authors know what they’re doing, Roadside Picnic [Stalker (1979)], Swiftian misanthropy, American conservative literature, apes and monkeys as a critique of Darwin, that realistic, that bestial, casually fucking in the streets, monkeys, an incredibly dark view, aren’t we?, a fishtank, to quote Marlowe, a decisive ending, raising our science fiction and fantasy hope, a meta-science fiction book, not a fantasy, following the rules, fantastic, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, Plato’s The Republic, H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, crappy adventure stories, later you became obsessed with it, the strivings of a story like The War Of The Worlds are to put us in our place, this is what you really are, have yourself humbled, we are humbled, a mimetic sense, what would we do if we were placed in this very strange RPG, more shit is around the next corner, worship at the temple in the crystal palace, William G. Shepherd, Omni, Discovery, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, is that the best we can hope for?, a minority adds to and maintains the temple, the temple persists, participate in keeping the temple going is a great way of life, six months of a magazine, nobody’s going to look at them, a friend in Australia, the little builder, somebody else’s job, its not Jesse’s job to put Jesse’s statue up in the temple, his job is to polish the temple steps, and point people in the right direction to find the right book inside the temple if they come by, maybe call them in from the street, no donation needed, they walk by and spit on Jesse, coral reef, all of our art, if you’re not creating, hiding hoping the squid doesn’t eat him, Jesse the clownfish, Hemingway, drunk, pedophile, Dostoevsky was an extreme right-winger, the temple creators are flawed, the canon contains shit but it has beauty within the shit, horrible creators, whatever politics is now, cancel culture, the pederast Tchaikovsky, thief and gallows-bird, O. Henry was an embezzler, Ezra Pound, open fascist, defender of the Soviet Union, defending human rights abuses, the temple that endures, whatever flag people are waving, holding up the flag, wearing a flag is an act that is very different, planting a flag on your house, when the flags come out, in division, this doomed city, it’s important, nationalities are incidental, all united as doomed, yesterday’s enemy, when you strip them of the flag, this kind of work is important, a suggestive sketch, points it’s making, high poetry, as an aesthetic way to be, endings are disappointing (usually), where it takes you to emotionally, did he shoot himself?, he met himself and he shot himself, it’s left open, capable of killing the best person we know, capable of self destruction, capable of destroying other human beings, he pulled a pistol out of the holster, tall tattered exhausted with a dirty beard, a return shot, he doesn’t check his cap, not being able to recognize this other, a mirror, he’s shooting himself, sitting in his tent, all the possible things he can do to avoid what needs doing, how you maintain discipline, these are animals, the traditional way of doing it, The One Black Stain by Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, Sir Francis Drake, Magellan, returns to England, you can now murder people because you are a chief of an expedition, the maritime tradition, they are the law, they can marry people, the dominant navy on the planet, unless you’re a pirate and have signed the articles, a precedent, you’re a bad person, you’re a coward, the Golden Hind, head in hands, wracked with doubt, the misery of having killed a friend for a wrong reason, we put ourselves in these Hells, regretting or doubling down, I didn’t choose to be here, nobody explains how the , no authorial infodump for us, the anti-Neal Stephenson, the thermodynamics of the big wall, deal with it, what does it mean that the sun is off, is it a coincidence?, is it a sign?, about to become a dictator, the Russian kitchen drinking scene, here it is, they’re all completely disagreeing with each other but not actually coming to blows over anything, it’s just talk, pretty deep, not something we see in American literature that often, written about drinking, F. Scott Fitzgerald, a manly thing to do, a classy thing to do, very realistic, all the russian drinking, before the blackout, the snacks, all the stages of inebriation, a positive, a bright spot, the party, Raymond Chandler, a rich guy drinking himself to death, set in Los Angeles, blendy, Dashiell Hammett, hiding the truth of reality by drinking, Mike Hammer, American detective stories are about uncovering reality, that guy was beating his wife, somebody died, his daughter killed herself, hiding the truth through alcohol vs. a communal defiance against the reality they already acknowledge, the vomiting, more thoughts, Herodotus on the persian court, Peter the Great, the drunken synod of fools, Stalin plying with vodka, in vino veritas is legit, WWII, Churchill couldn’t go 2 weeks without his prescription alcohol, Nixon drunk, Yeltsin, russians thought he drank too much, Voltaire’s conclusion Candide, a dark russian take on Candide, zoom out a bit, one last russian thing, awkward conversations, the extreme opposite of Frank Herbert’s conversations, it’s painful to read, I don’t understand what you’re saying, the dialogue is very fun, pulling out 10,000 quotes, a commonplace book, self-journal, write down your dreams, a diary is very narcissistic, what twitter is for Jesse (a commonplace book), Paul’s Miscellany, whoever exercises power, man has to have a goal, hence the expedition, hence the experiment, we’ve got to do something, general outrage, goals and enemies, very easy to be uncharitable, words on a page, you don’t need to be outraged about everything, a set of beliefs is dangerous, a blob of ideas I’m currently carrying around, squish some of them, taking a model of what someone else is saying, how other people’s mannerisms work, ongoing public conversation, these vast swaths of people who comment, a massive list of comments, they’re talking to themselves, this is what you do because , when you see Jesse on twitter it’s because he has to wait 15 seconds, in the before times (pre-covid), monitoring mentions, believing in the conversation, great for connecting with people, a really interesting bookshelf, detecting outrage, plugins, moderate your anger, road rage is like twitter isolation, indistinct, a look of concentration and fear (or don’t), this person is the worst human being in the entire world, essentially bad drivers, perfectly nice people, an excuse for it, it’s hard not to be a hypocrite, how good is that narration?, he had a voice for everybody, good show, good take, by special request of Chowbacca, a random twitter guy, exactly, a fan of the show, looking forward to everyone’s thoughts, thank you so much @chowbacca415. make the temple as pretty and nice as possible, the temple is a library, trucks being impounded, ready when you are, Mentor, Mentor is actually Athena (in The Odyssey), how to deal with Circe, some of the characters are on hands experimenters, Touched By An Angel, like Quantum Leap but for christians, make things right, a science fiction explanation, mentoring, pedagogy, the last words of the book in russian, stacks of firewood, there’s a lot of burning to come, a demon or a devil, Athena’s hobby horse for Odysseus, he’s the wise and wily one, Heracles gets a special interest from Zeus, as a psychological story, Nietzsche, no psychological depth, Get Smart, cone of silence room, a black room, an anti-room somewhere in the house, there’s a metaphor there for you.

The Doomed City

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The SFFaudio Podcast #697 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Almuric by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #697 – Almuric by Robert E. Howard; read by Connor Kaye

This unabridged reading of the story (5 hours 28 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Trish E. Matson, Connor Kaye, and Cora Buhlert

Talked about on today’s show:
probably not by H.P. Lovecraft, by Robert E. Howard and possibly others, poo-pooing, some serious ending issues, the real probic question, sort of made up, Golden Fleece, 1939, Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet, less magic, a historical fiction magazine, Gates Of Empire by Robert E. Howard, 1975, another story set in the Saladin Egyptian Caliphate eras, a crusader King, really enthusiastic, Almaric, a historical figure, characters of similar names, two different Almarics or Almurics, he liked the name, Thok/Thak/Grak, the best Robert E. Howard pastiche ever or he’s making fun of him, muscular scenes, more Howardian, Howard does Howard really well, how much was Howard responsible, the letters, too on point, except the ending, dissertation on howard’s thought presented as a story, these themes, tell a lot more, it tells the thesis pretty exclusively, the issue, a sketch that someone else put together, a first draft?, Patrice Louinet, the manuscript is lost, 1934, Drums of Tombalku, Hour Of The Dragon, Otis Adelbert Kline, suspect infodumps, Daniel Look, Howard Days, stylometry, wordcounter.net, using math, Conan pastiches, specific words, scarlet or citadel, the and of or from and to, classifies Fritz Leiber stories as Fritz Leiber stories, a sword and Planet Guy, Francis Hard, Farnsworth Wright, not wholly complete, multiple drafts, the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales, the ending was taken from the inference about the beginning, the way the story ends is not compatible with the way the story starts, relating the story we are about to receive, The Lighthouse (2019), an unfinished short story by Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch, a whole novel inspired by the short story, too horrible to relate, if you look deep into what they’ve written, why did they write that, brushing their teeth and looking in the mirror, everything is there for a purpose, the finishers of Almuric, looking deep into the story, anathema to a Howard ending, bring civilization to these barbarians, parts of this are definitely suspect and the ending is wholly suspect, seeking to join the society, artificial, not Howardian, the goorahs, Acher, Koth, Cimmeria is from The Odyssey, Afghulis in Afghulistan, Stygia, certain passages, Robert E. Howard had a hand in this, The Garden Of Fear, a tower, winged people, something about elephants, Solomon Kane story Wings In The Night, The Moon Of Skulls, a vampire queen wants to have sex with Solomon Kane, sacrificed at the full moon, Garden Of Evil by Margaret St. Clair, Vale Of Lost Women, a winged guy and a bunch of flower ladies, images that haunt him, so much more like Edgar Rice Burroughs than anything else by Robert E. Howard, The Gods Of Mars, Warlord Of Mars, a self-destruct mechanism, a nuke, a 1939 nuke, elder god type monster, Otis notes, literary manager, ripoffs of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Buccaneers Of Venus, Kline got the cover, Almuric didn’t get the cover, Everill Worrell, A Witch Shall Be Born, The Slithering Shadow, the fingerprints of A Princess Of Mars, the mechanism to get to mars is minimized, how Esau Cairn gets to Almuric is never explained, cliffhangery, every time he gets knocked on the head, two sequences being carried aloft, he even comments on this, my third time in captivity, very very very Howardian, the opening is pretty strong, on the run from corrupt civilization, corruption and civilization are the same thing for Robert E. Howard, Connor’s credulity, that doesn’t seem like something Robert E. Howard would write, a first draft, the repetition of verbs, I caught up a shield, I rushed to finish this story, Howard was not a find and replace guy, scarlet, showing not telling, the writing style, I have only a dim memory, several things happened at once, we gotta find a way to fix this, fist fighting, mundane terrestrial stories, it could have been written by anybody, Steve Costigan it’s not, those infodumps, notes, essays, The Hyborian Essay, that’s his research, Howard doesn’t do infodumps, research notes, now I shall give you a lengthy infodump, the thematic infodumps, this is why civilization os not the proper place for human beings, mastery of the human form and human strength, doing Burroughs, put Otis to work, Farnsworth Wright, good editor bad writer, Paul Ernst, Seabury Quinn, commenting on the stories, this Francis Hard (Farnsworth Wright) guy is terrible, nobody copyright renewed this story, authors tend to make a claim, Wright and Kline both died young, as much or more of Robert E. Howard has come out since his death as during his life, decade after decade, the first major thing after his death, not in the Del Rey editions?, Bobby Derie, Howard Andrew Jones, James Allison stories, Phoenix On The Sword, he’s always dying, an outer narrator, some adventures in a faraway place or a far distant time, dispensing with the idea, in Earth history, Kull is Atlantean, pre-cataclysmic civilization, how to get into it, this is a fantasy book, terms to explain it to ourselves, secondary world, Tolkien, The Hobbit, most attributed to Burroughs, gods and names are pretty much the same, the river Yag, the land of Yog, didn’t finish mapping it all, a lot of Howard’s setup, how did you enjoy it as a book? vs. how it was constructed?, a bit over a hundred pages, the scale, assaulting the city, Robinson Crusoe feel to it, battling with baboons in the wilderness, how much we enjoy it related to how much Howard was in it, Pirates Of Venus, an editorial for Weird Tales, a mission statement for Weird Tales, fantasy, science fiction, and horror, The Weird Tales Story edited by Robert Weinberg, The Dark Man Journal, ape men, sexual dimophism, bub, Howard loved apes!, no ape-women, pulp science fiction, suspect, all of the Conan comics, a way to make you turn pages, you can’t kill the guy, sheer force of numbers, The Scarlet Citadel, Hour Of The Dragon, detective fiction, gassed, hit on the head, most of that’s bad, it makes it suspect, the Howardian content is so high, the pastiche worker, pretty good, The Garden Of Fear is a really good story, a fanzine, recycle scenes, not unwilling to recycle, Almuric Role Playing Game setting, kickstarted style art, races of Almurica, Dogheads, Akki, it’s gotta be, jaegers, hunters, Germans in Texas, a Lebanese shopkeeper in Cross-Plains, pre-chat, how surprised would you be if in 1961 he converts to Islam?, slave-trading is evil, muslim sidekicks, El Borak, he loves swearing by gods, and there’s no god greater than Allah, if only for the aesthetics, Muhammad Ali, some kind of Islamic rally, individualism, protestant, too community based, Allah knows, this big guy in the sky, He exists, swearing to various gods, why Solomon Kane is so attractive, his belief makes him attractive, challenged all the time, my sacred staff, an evil voodoo thing, it’s beyond me, the god of my people, the religious fanatic, the nicest puritan you’ll ever meet, he likes animals, he thinks you’re an evil demon, the Gent From Bear Creek stuff, semi-embedded in a community, out from society, why the novel was abandoned, ends with peace and harmony and a new golden age?, there’s no permanence in dog-brotherhood, ape-brothers, the relationship with the women, Kull has Brule, standing next to Conan is not good, women can survive but we never see them again, a reset button, a comic book sequel Almuric, the Iron Hand Of Almuric, what’s left to say, the golden skinned ladies, copper skin, see the sexual dimorphism there, particular word choices, name choices, Altha, Alpha, a slave girl, Theta, a #LegCling, pulsing, thews, I could feel her heart, her quick pants of fright, what Howard would do, an interesting dynamic, the crudity of the men in her culture, a bit weird, he crushed her to his body, his writing of women improves, his Mexican prostitute sex, she wants to die rather to live out of place in her world, born ahead of her time vs. his being born in the past, a woman with agency, she knows what she doesn’t want, has to get rescued all the time, transitional Howard, Valeria from Red Nails vs. Belit, topless, died of sunburn, some nudity in this book, the Jirel Of Joiry stories, his Dark Agnes stories, Red Sonja, Zenobia, bears comparison, Cairn, The Cairn On The Headland, how dumb are you?, I’m looking for you, that lack of agency, out of character, Howard in a certain sense, Cairn has Howard’s fists but his brains are inadequate to the task, played for comedy, Steve Costigan, very fluffy, what Evan suspects, you’re both a liar and a coward, as all men know, knotty fist, a dozen feet away, moderate corporal correction, it wasn’t the punching, that is NOT Howard, he would never say that, Conan wont defend himself, L. Sprague De Camp had Conan spank his kid, the evil queen is going to spank her maid, women attack other women, Lesbia, Howard had no idea how lesbians worked, was Margaret Brundage bisexual?, not much attention given to men, less than half written by Howard?, the H.P. Lovecraft revisions, stylometry, editorial notes, a copyedit job, what other scholars said, too direct, someone wanted to present Howard’s thesis, too much telling not enough showing, way down on the list of Howard you should spend any time on, a Howard completionist, a pallid substitute, this is not crackin, not actively annoying, inoffensive, a little offensive, the character is endorsing it, beyond the pale, a twitter argument with a shitlib or someone here, Conan being a socialist or a communist, Conan The Socialist by Cora Buhlert, primitive societies, primitive communism, no thing is owned by one person, no one here is allowed to starve, you can’t own stuff in those types of cultures, hunter gatherer, counting coup, a social game that has rules, reputation, The Black Stranger, The Treasure Of Tranicos, famines, storehouses full of grain, I used my sword and my fists, he gives away his prize, the end of every Conan story, losing all the money at the end, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, botom up heroes, even Kull is a usurper, from the working class, a queen who has lived for 600 years, a lady who’s up, bottom up rather than top down, she’s a slaver, certain phrases and scenes, the structure is way less so, more of the framing device, the political boss, it wasn’t relevant, it was though, more like a Jack London story, urban fantasy, samurai cannibal book, The Mucker, The Monster Men, The Efficiency Expert, The Garden Of Fear feels way more substantial, the flowers are symbolic, where’s the symbolism in here?, some furry guys, red peoples and white apes, pure escapism, Howard has an agenda, and axe to grind, he’s passionate about it, I’m going to demonstrate my beliefs to you through story, Hour Of The Dragon is brimming with anger, a metaphor for the rise of fascism in Europe, Benito Mussolini, I will make you hurt, this one is fun, it doesn’t have anything deeper to say, do better, Connor, top tier Howard, Galactic Journey, lost along away, sword and planet, Will has read a lot worse than this, this isn’t dreck, statements of philosophy, the space babe, they create the new society, a planetary romance ending, the violence was a little over the top, a score of wounds, so parodied, Wolverine, recuperative powers, super-tough, “my immense recuperative powers”, crucified, he sleeps it off, he puts his leg in the water to stop the bleeding, a fun story, way better material, the density level, word choices, Howard writes like a poet, Spear And Fang aint beautiful, in his mid-twenties and approaching his 30, a natural writer in his prime wrote some notes, The Wicked Clergyman by H.P. Lovecraft, the worst Lovecraft story there is that he wrote, the comic book adaptations, Epic Illustrated 2-5 issues, Dark Horse sequel, Roy Thomas and Mark Winchell, wont somebody stop Roy Thomas, Ironhand Of Almuric, Gardner F. Fox style, dense prose, Tim Conrad, too much prose, mostly retired, of all the Conan co-authors, those big text boxes, he doesn’t fuck around with the prose, adapted to a Conan story, Arabian adventures, an effect of Conan fever, 1961, Ace, a Frazetta cover, Jack Gaughan, tonnes of very small slim paperbacks from the 1970s, looking in second hand bookstores, pretty obscure for a famous book (of Howard’s), how impactful the stories were, riding the name, why the role playing game exists, fuckin cool, Strange Detective, where he’s getting published, Adventure, volume, Fight Magazine, Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazines, Sam Walser is Robert E. Howard, Spicy magazines, reading the Spicy magazines, embarrassing, hit after hit after hit author, who wouldn’t want this issue?, great reprints, great Virgil Finlay art, Spicy Adventure, Francis X. Gordon, not everything came out in the 70s, El Borak stories, the James Allison stories, The Howard Foundation, no print editions?, save it for the Garden Of Fear, the intro with the dying protagonist, H.P. Lovecraft and Virginia Jackson’s The Crawling Chaos, The Star Rover by Jack London, Howard bookshelf, erotica, working with an existing trope, how we get to the world, modern sword and planet stories?, using a rocketship to get there, astral projection had made irrelevant by V-2s, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincy, unheard of roads, overdose, our outer narrator, let me tell you of the secret of the world, the “Great Secret”, observatory!, telescopist!, no better alternative, telescopy hut, a flight through space, The Crystal Egg by H.G. Wells, the same martians, the inference, how we get from there to here, shot through the telescope, a teleporter, Professor Hildebrand, how he gets the story, what we’re reading, teleportation across time?, driven out of Europe into Africa, the last of the monkey-apes, people with wings, Conan The Barbarian, #9, winged ears, The Tower Of The Elephant, a dumbo captured by a wizard, another yag-yog, a giant spider, missing the giant snake, obsessed with evolution, she read Darwin, the bat-people, cutting off their wings, controlling rivals?, female Kizinti are dumb and pregnant, a podunk town, eugenics was a hot topic, the Howard-Lovecraft letters, decades of eugenics programs, sterilization, Esau Cairn is not a thinker, a naked savage, on the ladder of evolution, parody of Robert E. Howard, silks and steel and stone towers, tell not show, it had his name on it, playing it fast and loose, stuck it together, SCOOP!, Clifford Ball, a would be Conan, The Thief Of Forthe, what you expected Conan to look like, no substitute, this Clifford Ball guy, Henry Kuttner, attitude, Robert E. Howard has a big chip on his shoulder, Kuttner had a different chip on a different shoulder, Z.B. Bishop writes as good as Lovecraft!, disposable popcorn, it has the signs but lacks the heft, AI audiobooks, Seabury Quinn audiobooks, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Agatha Christie with supernatural elements, Murder On The Links, a ripoff of Jewel Of Seven Stars, the alpha and the notetaker, August Derleth, Jules De Grandin and Doctor Trowbridge, occult detectives, the John Thunstone stories, the Netflix section for reality TV, people who liked science fiction, good at marketing, Clark Ashton Smith had no hand in fixing this story, The Maze Of Maâl Dweb, The Flower-Women, C.L. Moore would have been better, the Charlton Comics adaptation, all rip-offs of Tarzan, after the puLps died comics took over, Sheena, Ka-Zar, too much, Conan goes to the Center of the Earth, Tarzan on the Moon, Bran Mak Morn and Kull, Kings Of The Night, Worms Of The Earth, Conan or THE Conan, a guy goes into a cave, Conan was his ancestor, Leigh Brackett, criminal on Venus, Lorelei Of The Red Mists, Ray Bradbury, homage, how much we got out of this, meta-talk, some sort of emotional attitude towards reality, it sparks, sometimes stories are abandoned for a reason, fascinating fragments, how hilarious it would be reading Ray Bradbury doing planetary romance, he does weird things she wouldn’t do, killed in WWII, where the Bradbury begins and the Brackett stops, nostalgic, The Small Assassin, a guy’s afraid of the wind, phonecalls make a guy’s life a living hell, dead undersea soldiers, two episodes in the can, quite a buffer, The Planet Stories Podcast, Connor needs a podcast, The Wind In The Portico by John Buchan, No-Man’s Land by John Buchan, hence listening to David Brin, almost like a podcast on YouTube [CONNOR’S YOUTUBE VIDEO ESSAY PODCAST FEED IS: HERE], keeping to a specific theme, old school podcasts, Mr Jim Moon is doing witches this year, a lot of not Science Fiction, the Horrorbabble guys, Evan’s podcast uses podbean, Evan has 787 podcast episodes out, the American Civil War, 4 continents represented, a Taikonaut, Starlink satellites, clutter up the sky, beloved by cats, mutant cats for our future, psychic cats know when we’re feeling vulnerable, The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, novel after novel, until Jesse dies or Eric dies, to do two podcasts a week, when I’m feeling weak, hoping that something is going to be good, a six month backlog, take a vacation from recording, don’t silence, don’t de-platform, i’m not Whoopi!, Cora was on the Dickheads podcast talking into The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett, the Appendix N Book Club podcast.

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES - illustration by Virgil Finlay

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Why Weird Tales? by Otis Adelbert Kline - from WEIRD TALES, May June July 1924

Almuric - illustration by Ken Kelly

Almuric - illustration by Gaughan

Epic Illustrated - ALMURIC

DARK HORSE - Almuric - Tim Conrad

ACE F-305 - ALMURIC by Robert E. Howard

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The SFFaudio Podcast #614 – READALONG: The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #614 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Will Emmons talk about The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Talked about on today’s show:
Vrill, Paul’s kind of joke, anonymously in 1871, highly influential novel, a rival for Dickens, Theosophists and the Nazis, an underground dystopia utopia from the 19th century, a little butter, a giant infodump with wings, nice first draft bud now write an adventure set in that place, cool idea it sucked as a book, abandon all of the things that were stupid, stupid but compelling, so many people were stupid to think this was amazing, Looking Backward, 90% of the book is describing that place, a thought experiment, a sociological novel, an American point of view, when these people come out of the work we’re fucked, a pro-American point of view, its a satire, making fun of the narrator, these jokes don’t land, why its so ironic, the ultimate error, he didn’t think it through, the background Silmarillion material for another book, etymology, nomative and genative cases, a local angle, the Secretary for the Colonies in the 1850s, a Whig and a conservative, Colonel Moody (Port Moody), as a colonial dude he is always looking outward, how societies should be run, how great American democracy was, for example two of my own brothers just paid $30,000, from infancy their handed pistols, they treat men like women, not even a science fiction novel, there’s these big birds, they wear their wings around, and there’s this metal, he doesn’t have midichlorian vril veins, that staff, magic wands, some tie to Circe, a strong will, a Sumuerian goddess, a wand as opposed to a staff, satirical in setup, how many other good books their are that are ripping this off, City Of Endless Night by Milo Hastings, Nazi world underground, the magic is eugenics, also eugenics, zapping babies, electromagnetism, Faraday, the age of the Earth, why Evan wanted his wife on the show, an influence on H.P. Lovecraft, there’s a scientific culture, the elements, Vril is not treated as magic, electricity, mental power, a pseudoscience, Vril has long long legs, still with us today, BoVril, essence of beef, bullion, bovine + vril = Bovril, soda pop, wonder drugs, healthenize your body, cereals, physical culture, a discipline, a BBC piece, pre-Nazi Germany was into it, the British were into it, you just have to breathe through your nose, improve your life by breathing through your nose, a superior, yoga, its good to exercise their body, big muscular lady arms and legs, continual calm exercise, why is he focused so much on that?, everybody knows god is 100% real, a very specific other world, making fun of Christianity, my dad wants me to kill you, we could go together, I’ll kill myself too, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, one place underground, on the way down, the passage had been zapped before, zap the hole closed, why do they have wings?, The Menace From Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, the lower gravity on the Moon would allow human flight, they’re angels, higher beings, those Nordics have as much as 1% angel in them, back to the Nazis, more Darwinian, neanderthal blood, Jesse is a bit too hard on the whack-jobs, Alcoholics Anonymous, its bullshit but there’s something to it, acupuncture, needles and a massage, William James, social movements, devil worship, concrete manifestations, witches, Margaret Murray, if yoga helps you, namaste, you went in skeptical to your back treatment, its not all in your head, center your prana, Paul, feel better at your desk job, yogic flyers, exoticness, cult or belief system, unfalsifiable, a popular cult, also a political party, anti-enlightenment, Willy Ley, Astounding, May 1947, Pseudoscience in Naziland, the shotgun technique, John W. Campbell, full of stereotypes, the Russian a vodka bottle, the Frenchman a woman, the German, magic, in the days before the Nazi, Ariosophy, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, Albrecht Dürer, I can’t stand that man’s smell, various races have different smells, “society for truth”, “power”, a British state secret, surely the Roman’s had it, contemplating the structure sliced in halves, looking at the outer world, a whackjob cult, Nazi and SS stuff was Bulwer-Lytton telling us a truth hidden in fiction, ancient aliens, ancient Egypt, this a box that existed, maybe it is a gateway to another dimension, Madame Blavatsky, She by H. Rider Haggard, The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle, past life regression, I was a priest in Atlantis!, seeing how there’s two of us now…, if everybody has past lives…, we were both Cleopatra, more an more animal life dies, furries, the relationship between Theosophy and this book, root races, Hyperboreans, Lemuria, Egypt in the Americas, the Thule Society, cultural zeitgeist, the Q (anon) for theosophy, Amazing Stories, a thirst for this stuff, Raelians, the Northwest Passage, a vital and firm belief, expedition after expedition, the climate at the time, why did they act on this faith belief, Terra Australis Incognita, societies within the culture, The Terror, the H.M.S. Terror, most everybody died, tins being full of lead, the funding for the expeditions were crowdsourced, start a war with Russia, a grift that they sold themselves them into, who take there orders from…, the Nazis wanted to expand their territories the way the Vrilya, a blueprint for Thule society beliefs, there are books that get written and people adopt them as a belief system, why utopian fiction is so different, the means and reins of power, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, with these expedition, to get to the China market, Hudson’s Bay Company, Pacific island possessions, propping up the Empire in the Pacific, it doesn’t cost you anything to invade Russia, they didn’t run into a continent full of people with tanks, China’s colonial system (with credit and ports), the Belt and Road initiative, the different Lovecraft collaborations, ghost writing, a three sentence idea, Underwhelming Scares, where did this ghost come from?, zombies, slaves, rising and falling empires, a decadent declining society, no art, no culture, gladiator fights, bodily abilities, Lovecraft and machine culture, they don’t make any new music, mummer plays, news: “bears in the woods”, get your 72 dark eyed houris, so sex randy in the afterlife, kingdom of heaven forever, own planet, what you gonna do there?, seems kinda stale, Job: A Comedy Of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein, talking about politics a little bit, the kids do the work, an uninspired utopia, no vigour, nukes, elevators, wings, Choose Your Own Adventure, One thing disturbs you…, sterile utopia is dystopia, Nazis and the United States, the Lovecraft utopia Jesse likes is the Yithian one, field researchers, when not cataloguing and cross-referencing, all over space and time, The Roller Coaster by Alfred Bester, a terrible boring underground heaven, everybody is the same, if your kid is a little bit ugly (or birth defect) they destroy it, we know how great they are because there are no policemen, the explanation for the economy is very very poor, an economy in heaven is BS, Underground Kingdom by Edward Packard, a higher species of life, Pellucidar, Edgar Rice Burroughs, by way of the men and the women, 45-50% of the book, you’re revealing things about yourself, Bulwer-Lytton likes masculine women, she hangs up her wings forever, its about Victorianism, just reverse the genders and it makes a lot more sense, really good at pretending to be good at the stupid hobbies of their husbands, he’s satirizing normal bourgeois marriage, Arkham Librarian (Rebecca Baumann on twitter: @arkhamlibrarian), Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, the Mahars are all women, dominating with mental powers, looking at his own wife askance, I might be the colonial minister but my wife is running my life, the psychological influence this is operating under, what happened is…, cool cool cool, the same protagonist as our unnamed protagonist but a successful imperialist, the light explanation sucks in The Coming Race, Thomas More’s Utopia, an inner moon, John Cleves Symmes, Jr., it DID exist, Jesse is obsessed with weird islands, Kerguelen Islands, Thule, in Poe, there are these places, they’re in the literature, this isn’t coming from bullshit, which one is the ultimate Thule, six days north of Britain by sea, Orkney, Faroe Islands, why people grift themselves into believing the Necronomicon is a real book, it becomes critical thinking, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, not everybody twigs, how democracy was going to take over the world, old men should act like young kids, democracy democracy democracy, Monroe Doctrine, Bulwer-Lytton as a defender of the Victorian marriage, mutah marriage, a loophole for prostitution, making this the norm, propaganda, every romantic comedy should have a post credit scene where a man moves into a mancave, Robert Silverberg, my month wife…, Donald E. Westlake’s The Spy In The Elevator, Temporary Wife, Vril stuff is kinda like power, keep things as they are, this group of greater people, satirizing religion, an unhappy result, lebensraum, Greek colonies, earthquake damage, an alien planet, under a particular mountain, a fairy sense, the little people, elves, The King Of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne, dinosaurs, tigers, the parasite tiger, the parasite parasite tiger, Stromboli, the cartoon of Journey To The Center Of The Earth, all the scholars are female, what is he saying there?, parasitism, the descendants from frogs, what is he saying?, the batrachian-ness of this species, birds as symbols, frogs and salamanders are down and dirty in the muck, birds sing and frogs croak, aware of what Darwin’s laying down, the moral debate about how the frogs should be interpreted, an academic argument, its incredibly rich (whatever it is), some Victorian thing hit right on the nose (that we’re not able to follow), scientists and philosophers have argued each other in circles, tadpoles are totally perfect, a conversation about decadence, simple vs. complicated, moralists and naturalists, the vast superiority of the frog, the monkey trial, still talking about it on the TVs (racism), they think that race is a thing, an ascent and descent, a footrace up a ladder of evolution, filling all the niches, all of this shit is bullshit, ethnic types, rare genetics, like that of a red-man, beardless, gravity and quietude of orientals, male and female look more or less alike, most big sex animals have the females bigger, hyenas, sperm competition, rams, gorillas, peacocks are all display, different kinds of competitions, proof that your genes are shit, drinking contests, drinking diesel to show how tough he was, the point of alcohol contest, “honest signals”, baby springboks, a way of indicating your material is good, buff your muscles, rug your head, subconsciously indicating your quality, challenging all sorts of assumptions, I blushed like a girl when the girls complimented me on my choice of clothing, back to the gorillas, competing physically to dominate the harem, they’ve evolved incredibly tiny penises, gender dimorphism, sperm competition, whose gonna mount who?, what’s the point of a family in this world?, a fertility rate of 1, the female pursuit, immediately submissive, a whack idea, he’s having his cake and eating it too, a male fantasy, Y: The Last Man, Philip K. Dick’s Doctor Futurity, why feminists like birth control, disempowering men, Lois McMaster Bujold, artificial wombs, the pill was not banned, abortions have been with us a lot longer than the pill, the brutal unthinking mythology about what religion has to say, bypassing the gut response, Mormonism came into existence when coffee was a thing, alcohol is ancient, marijuana, taboo-ish, bypassing the objection of killing a baby, something Bulwer-Lytton wouldn’t have, Make Love Not War: The Sexual Revolution, An Unfettered History by David Smith Allyn, once you have the photocopier quill copyists are out, post-scarcity, printing press restrictions, a license to get a printing press, the power, the pill (so concealed) bypasses all the previous setup defenses a society has made, how does Saudi Arabia hand the pill?, a post-1970s catholic priest do?, what’s your advice, priest?, approved of or not, traditional patriarchal society, birth control in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), I’m only going to have another kid if you do X, Y and Z, in the west, they way we treat doctors as a priest class, these documents that allow people to do things they wouldn’t allow other people to do, men and women had equal access, there was no intellectual momentum behind its banning, people working the religious grift are not the swiftest, look at this and look at that, is he making fun of science?, a giant lizard, they destroy crops, they’re not vegans, they add a little fruit to it, milking goat-like non-goats, Hitler being a vegetarianism, an intellectual tradition, veganism is less intellectual than vegetarianism, we examined your teeth, Jesse knows a lot of veggies, Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History Of Vegetarianism From 1600 To Modern Times by Tristram Stuart, bad for the planet, going to the teeth stuff, we’re not evolved to have wheels, evolved to cook our meat, sugar and fat, keep it in the freezer, phrenology, ridiculous 19th century bullshit, our bearded hero wearing a tunic, dominate him like a child, a refined look, AND she’s a vegetarian,

amativeness – the arousal of feelings of sexual desire. sexiness, amorousness, eroticism, erotism. concupiscence, physical attraction, sexual desire, eros – a desire for sexual intimacy. carnality, lasciviousness, lubricity, prurience, pruriency – feeling morbid sexual desire or a propensity to lewdness.

something phrenologists were obsessed with, playing with actual people (vs just playing with skulls), a practical working phrenologist needed to be quick on his feet if their head didn’t fit, the ultimate protestants, puritanical protestants clearing the land, admiring or ambivilating?, a dystopia, poking fun of the Americans, the racism that elinates native population, coitus reservatus, Rosicrucians, ancient knowledge, super-human geniuses of history, Jesse can’t stop harassing Wayne June with Rosicrucian ads, AMORC, Doctor Climber, misues of sex energy, “Dianism” (Sex Magick), the war is now on Wikipedia, revision wars, whose ridiculous system of fake religion is better, the Rosicrucians (at least) didn’t kill millions of people, a particular moment and particular conditions, reading it today, Richard Wagner, the Meistersinger of Nürnberg, buying Goya beans to show support, more chaff than clarity, we might not get She, this stuff is in the air, so many precursors, stuff is happening right now that we cant see for what it is, they’re doing THAT kind of crazy thing, some traditions can last a long time, what new pieces of information are coming into the public consciousness, evolution, electricity, and deep time, the flood pushed them below ground, how recently we realzied how old the earth is, Lovecraft is two things, geology and the biggness of the universe, both of those things make you small, the sea, the sea is vast, cosmic horror writ small, the genetic racism stuff, mixing of inferior and superior, The Festival, maritime connections, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, the Dreamlands, we’re there, the underground stories are a precursor or related to time travel stories, going back to Verne, how do they get all their oxygen from, don’t think about it, Jesse, 1780s, the discovery, nobody wants to get into fights with Jesse about phlogiston, phlosgisticated and dephlogisticated, a fluid that can be transferred between air and objects, no crusades or jihads about phlogiston, it wasn’t fundamentally changing our conception of ourselves, that kind of resistance, your point is Darwin, this information doesn’t need to be suppressed, I need the stuff that’s in the air to live, we are lying to ourselves all the time by using metaphors, oxygen causes cancer, a lack of it causes immediate death, sushi is a food that makes you healthy, sushi is full of heavy metals which makes you die, the frog is being dephlogisticated under the vacuum pump, oxymoron, oxy means sharp, moron means dull, why etymology is incredibly important, oxy-gen, hydro-gen, heli-um, the shitty logic (is the history), one of the names in here, Tyee [a Chinook word drawn from the Nuu-chah-nulth language], a princess of Helium, a weird love hate relationship, you were doomed to be exterminated from the beginning, a grand tapestry, the great chain of being (and your not believing), no skepticism in their relgion, literally one of the arguments for the existence, I can conceive of a being that which non-greater can be conceived, a god who works Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, Descartes, St. Anselm, Ontological argument, philosophy as close-up magic, Platonism, if bigness is a form, a nice explanation for why monotheism is incredibly popular, two guys in Asia meet at a campfire, Conan The Barbarian (1982), Subotai, your god lives under my god, your guy got sacrificed on the cross, a giant that’s 800 feet tall, not subject to kryptonite, but he also has a natural power like Green Lantern, yeah well my God exists, its very silly, it tricked people for a couple hundred years, cogito ergo sum, I can trust my senses, kind of Him, the people who are giving the money to the relgious people, can I marry this lady if I say these special words?, the bumps on her noggin make her really sexy.

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The SFFaudio Podcast #542 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Exhalation: Stories: What’s Expected Of Us by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #542 – What’s Expected Of Us from Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang; This is an unabridged reading of What’s Expected Of Us (6 minutes) followed by a discussion of the Penguin Random House Audio audiobook of Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang.

participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, Wayne June, and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
his second collection, 17 years to come out, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, squint hard, a lot of them have a focus on children, he had some kids?, a theme, teaching and growing, parenting, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, a science fiction story with mimetic fiction problems, Dacy’s Patent Automatic Nanny, childrearing, not the major theme, background thought processes, fate and destiny, an abiding theme, care and caring, finding truths closer to home, The Great Silence, dissecting one’s own brain, straight up science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson, you fools, you’re wasting your life, Paul could rant, set on spaceships, making sense of reality, a test subject for another star, they’re all standouts, its not our universe, a creationist universe, a dread discovery, the center of the universe is elsewhere, Earth as a prototype for someone else, an epistolary manner, a crisis of faith, Poul Anderson, a mixed relationship, life after death, finding a way to be comfortable with that fact, approaching the subject of entropy, the universe is winding down, nobody is going to live forever, comforting ideas, all just whistling past the graveyard, a positive conclusion about it, how do you look into the abyss and come away with a happy attitude, be happy on the way down, Oomphalos, I’m in charge now, now she has free will, he explores free will from every direction, the audiobook from Tantor, it took a long time for audiobooks to become the dominant medium for people who actually read, I don’t get many ideas, most reviewers on YouTube: booktubers?, a whole universe of people, people who read books are really weird, every week you wanna be reading a new book? what a weirdo, the New York Times bestseller, books not designed to be read, overwritten, as any right thinking person would, these should be longer, very presumptuous, I want more of this, throwing down idea much bigger than the package he places them in, Wayne liked the shortest stories best, educated super-intelligent, deep thought, rigorous self-examination, tedious, on and on and on, 48 minutes, The Lifecycle Of Software Of Objects, concentrated science fiction, two drops in a cup of water, what it means, navel, center, a role playing anecdote, the enemy is the they (the center of the universe), we’re the center of the universe, The Middle Kingdom, Middle Sea, everywhere is the center, everybody’s stupid because their vision is so limited, a young earth, a parallel in our own history, reason for belief, mummies with no navels, obviously not created, his guiding philosophy, if there was a miracle, its on rails, preodomites, other people, The Truth Of Fact The Truth Of Feeling, deeply profound, a Black Mirror episode, some colonial guy getting colonized, writing and reading, auto text generator, no periods, Roman monuments used dots not spaces, pre-modern Chinese, getting it from context, cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, right in Jesse’s zone, Bros. Grimm concertizing, once in book form, Jesse doesn’t really take notes, one of the things going on, going back to an oral culture, Socrates, cost effective, the Romans were into copying and photo-copying each other’s works, questioning the nature of truth and reality, really cool, what truth is, Scott and Jesse conversations on truth, people complaining about truth, he’s more truthful about his lying, politician lying, not a wise man, wiser than some of the fools that have been so smart in the past, he was not the same, name recognition, you know exactly what his motivation is, truth is not one thing, your own memory of what reality was, science as being replicable, that whole diatribe, truth is that what is, there is an objective truth, we hope, touch the Eiffel Tower, a subjective conclusion, the objective truth, defining truth, relativistic, its subtle, tirade harangue fulmination, discursive, who designed it?, maybe he stole that plan, the more you don’t examine and are unable to reexamine stuff…, religious truth, truths which motivation action, William James, pragmatism, because it was false, smoke sacrifice to the gods was meaningless, intersecting with other science fiction stories, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, king of your own planet, a real estate story, jack hammering off the coast of Labrador, a Nazi universe, Genghis Khan, mythological pseudo-historical figure, the universe does and doesn’t care about you, making a connection with science, those most interested in religion were scientists, Isaac Newton, the original Bible Code person, the impact might have been diluted, these people don’t die, there is no biology, this culture built up around air-stations, eating as a cultural event, if you get this you can tell the story, The Nine Billion Names Of God and The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, sacrificed, hits Paul in the feels, the three narcissistic wounds, Sigmund Freud, the Earth is not the center, Darwin and evolution, that the ego thinks it is free is an illusion, strong with archaeological proofs, freedom, no final answer, interesting concepts, Olaf Stapledon, a whole book from one paragraph of Starmaker, Jorge Luis Borges, The Library Of Babel, standing room for sleeping, why this illusory duplication, this is not our world, there’s no food, they’re more like robots in a certain sense, all the argon is coming to them from something beneath them, who invented the robots?, a blank slate, the robot equivalent, an analogy of the heat death of the universe, “we existed we were real”, a self contained universe, a navel gazing story, working the same theme, Jesus in South America (the God of Dreams) [The Circular Ruins], teaching the A.I.s consciousness, self-dissecting, a good example that doesn’t exist in the same way as ours does, the transference between universes, the prism, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, Until The End Of The World (1999), replaying your dreams, so much about them, the perfect obsessive movie for you, gazing into who you are, the machine allows you to navel gaze, fomo = fear of missing out, the grass is greener, a simple idea, fragmenting kaleidoscopic versions of reality, only a few months old and it was going up in value, diminishing returns, amazing sparky thoughts, pirated songs, I’d make so much money, information is the only thing passed between universes, copyrighted specifically for you, the same wound, possible yous, not being paralyzed, why not?, one of me is going to do it, destroys your ordinary criteria for action, a high dose of neg-entropy, the school shooters, what effect would it have, Jesse derives solace from being (sort of) a determinist, science fiction about the difficulty of weather prediction, are there more murders now?, outliers, fads, more of the same, All The Myriad Ways by Larry Niven, you might lose your will to do things, What’s Expected Of Us, whichever universe you’re in, Vanessa, an unstable person, Counterpart, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, as Evan pointed out on his podcast, the universe is very small, seeing what’s going on outside, they’re all blending together, he thought he had done so much work, that’s much to harsh, words can sometimes resonate very deeply, the non-simple truth, a reality we are distantly connected to, poor connections, emergent things, to know what truth is (is tough), a longer meditation, the longest thing he’s ever written, either these people are wasting their lives or we’re all wasting our lives, where’s the truth there WAYNE?, to leap into agnosticism, relate to our interpretation of reality, we can only do what we can do, the motif of harmful sensation, The Imp Of The Perverse, physical or mental damage you can suffer, explicitly shoutsout to H.P. Lovecraft, akinetic mutism, won’t or can’t speak or won’t or can’t move, the motif of harmful sensation, a truly convincing argument that life is pointless might qualify, it doesn’t matter, a thread running through (or more than one), Ted Chiang has got a brain, the Lovecraftian horror, like a cognitive plague, a thought that explores the thinker, a Godel sentence, I try to act as if or rather action happens, pretend you have free will, believing the lie is the only way to avoid this waking coma, civilization relies on self-deception (perhaps it always has), The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, living it, this universe might have slipped into equilibrium with nothing more than a quiet hiss, that in itself is beauty, in the next bottle over, the Complete Works of Shakespeare except it’s “Shmamlet”, the meaning is fake, Paul’s fear, robot descendants,

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

not a horror story but a science fiction truth, truths always in refinement, David Hume, past behavior, Robert Wright’s interview with Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life, a silly seeming story, Arrival, are you going to roll up into a little ball or are you going to affirm it?, the pharmacon, poison and medicine, make you a paralyzed mute or a creative, it takes all that time or that care to make that stuff literary, Wayne’s in a little ball, Wayne’s gonna complain, some stuff’s going to happen, get some jokes in there, WTF, we’re all gonna be specks in a layer of basalt, Tony C. Smith’s StarShipSofa, a Ted Chiang fan forever now, four stories, nested stories, Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, The Garden Of Forking Paths, you can read it forever, a story that’s circular, in the exact middle you have a point around which everything swirls, the knowledge for where the treasure under the tree came from, super symmetrical, so wonderful, a time travel story in which there’s no technological difference, no traditional time travel tropes, there’s no predicting eclipse, he steals from himself, he predicts the albino baby and gets out of prison, The Diamond Necklace or The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, there’s the pit of despair, the story is the treasure, we as the prince get the benefit, why the title is Exhalation: Stories, The Great Silence, John Paul Sartre with possible worlds, Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny, whatever works is true, the suppression of this technology because of the ruling class, nowhere for that to go, a remaking of humanity, thinking about childrearing while childrearing, mimetic fiction is all about divorces, my experience with my marriage, different parents have different levels of interest in their own child’s rearing, would have benefited the working class, the washing machine is liberatory, television as the babysitter, smartphones, is that wrong, a typical Ted Chiang thing, an actual syndrome: psychosocial dwarfism, growth hormones stop operating, emotional malnutrition, not an ideal human state, really bougie, homeschooling, unschooling, the class dimension, a survival strategy, a metaphor for public schooling, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the planned obsolescence angle, aloof parents, more attached to the nanny than to the parents, gladiatorial nannies, what if they trigger while raising the kids, if you follow police state logic, hands are dangerous weapons, tape their mouths up, and kill everybody (to be safe), the rational childcare device, a more cutesy vignette

reading, or being read, Ted Chiang stories, is like quaffing pure liters of undiluted SCIENCE FICTION from the fount in which it was first forged. And I tell you, without hyperbole, that Science Fiction absolutely cannot die as long as TED CHIANG lives and writes it.

asking and posing the big questions, natural science, parallel universes, asking questions, collecting and systematizing, that guy we didn’t like, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, “proving things”, weapons of mass destruction, 17 intelligence agencies, how can we falsify this?, holy shit he was right!, thought experiments, thinking them through completely, exploring a philosophical point, you can’t do it with mimetic fiction, what happens if…, that’s what they all are, the author afterwords offer insight, that I’m taking my head apart scene, a reverse infodump, we can’t understand ourselves, arguments like proverbs (suck), limiting understanding, refusing that limit, there’s no Godellian self-impossibility, what Dick does, almost like a drug metaphor, the thought’s he’s having and the thoughts he’s expressing, if you want to get into a big fight, tell me my hand is not my hand, memory, Hal, the difference, Ted Chiang doesn’t have this paranoia, adjacent to technology, the guy measuring the ether, how do we know what we know, the art installation for The Great Silence, Alex the talking parrot, very emotional, their beak is kind of their hand, emotional realities, those Alex videos, a whole other mind we have access to through regular English, these humans are looking for intelligence in the universe, the search for terrestrial intelligence, pretty cool, kinda heartbreaking, the whole Alex thing, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams, Arecibo, it hears the voice of creation, the lasting breath, spirit as the breath of God, the breath is not me, he’s having it both ways, these copper plates, audio versus text, in another five years, Wayne would personally recommend the book and the audiobook, here’s where I got the idea, at the end of every story, as a collection, this book we can hand off to people, I feel stupid when I’m reading stupid, reading this makes me feel like I’m the genius that I am, I’m sophisticated, I’m so stupid, not having brilliant ideas all day long, a guy practicing his words for his sermon, thinking on aloud, thinking on paper, writing therapy, cast them out of you, people are made of stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #404 – READALONG: The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast
H.P. Lovecraft's The Call Of Cthulhu
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #404 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander and Wayne June, talk about The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, February 1928, the best or the most famous of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, Michel Houellebecq, it has everything in spades, dreams, madness, you must have insanity, a lot of action but all is indirect, adaptations, the Call Of Cthulhu game, a large shelf of Call Of Cthulhu game books, library skills is a high value skill, a story about research, Spotlight (2015), an anthology of stories, nested stories, the nautical adventure, the great uncles’ investigations, the 1908 Cthulhu cult in Louisiana, the origin of murder maps, Borgesian, Indiana Jones, the silent film, weirdly deferred, a Lovecraftian call to action: please don’t repeat this story, The Mountains Of Madness, the Algernon Blackwood opening quote, the late Francis Waylon Thurston,

“Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival… a survival of a hugely remote period when… consciousness was manifested, perhaps, in shapes in forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity… forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters, mythical beings of all sorts and kinds…”

dinosaurs, dinosaur men, or Silurians, Jordan B. Peterson, caught in the middle of a whole deal, getting a sense of the deeper meaning of the Garden Of Eden story, man made conscious by woman, very Lovecraftian, really really old texts, looking at texts in the wrong way, they are so wise, in creating a new pantheon, why it is so powerful, was it a deliberate choice or an accretion around a grain of sound, plush animals, Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, this is Dagon revisited, great artists, an atheist version of religion, from a hugely remote period, consciousness manifested in shapes and forms long since withdrawn, creating our gods and monsters, explaining away the existence of religion, myths that developed based on something long before humanity (that isn’t your great Buddy in the sky), very frightening, knitting together all of human folklore, Robert Graves, Spengler, Toynbee, Joseph Campbell, a universal monomyth, The Centaur by Algernon Blackwood, a Gaia myth, in Esquimaux legend, the South Pacific, dreams changing people, the scary potential of such a myth, infecting the world, Toulon Orbus Teratis by Jorge Luis Borges, staving off the unstoppable, Cthulhu’s edges have been sanded off, in facing our fears we become less afraid (or go mad), degenerate or go mad, degeneration aint so bad, Castro’s story, the benefits under Cthulhu, enjoyments of savage chaos, a wonderful time of depravity, a Robert E. Howard moment, go insane, die, or run away, one Norwegian sailor, The Call Of Cthulhu (2005), lip reading, German expressionism, the best silent film Jesse’s seen, being faithful to Lovecraft’s work, the microscopic budget, the isle of Paradise, Tibet and China, Castro is The Shadow (or Batman), Iram of the Pillars, The Nameless City, The Fire Of Ashurbanipal by Robert E. Howard, Scott was playing a Cthulhu rpg with his family at Christmas, the books infecting the world, The Communist Manifesto, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, for most people reality is social reality, becoming an investigator, the meta context, the model for the game is the story, Norway, the template for how to run a scenario, go gibbering, the sanity stat, Darkest Dungeon, the more intelligent you are the more at risk you are of losing your sanity, these are not eucldian angles, “taking sanity point”, table 4b Insanity Table, Wayne June’s narration of Darkest Dungeon, written in Lovecraft’s style, as hard as hell, it’s all about the sanity, buy lots of torches, scotophobia (fear of darkness), barophobia (the fear of loss of gravity), falling into the sky, temporary insanity, Wayne June vs. Jim Moon, the assonance is strong, the stars are aligning, the floor is lava, you can only walk on the couch or a pillow (or a sibling), there’s something about the play of children that continues into RPG, LARPing vs. RPGing, the first narrator is very skeptical, drawing you in bit by bit, falling into madness slowly, so wide in scope, The Tomb or Dagon, how to think about it, Wayne June reads the opening of The Call Of Cthulhu:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

brutal cynicism, totally resonates with Wayne (double meaning), so negative and so accepting of the negativity, not having cognitive dissonance is merciful, the train of Cthulhu coming down the tracks at you, DEATH, Jordan Peterson again, consciousness and the fear of death, it’s on all our minds, don’t think about it, I’m getting grey hair… how did that happen?, that dark inevitable gun-barrel, looking great!, still vertical, The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, hard science fiction, a terrible way to hook a reader, damn this sounds good!, all of 18th century poetry, Alexander Pope,

Is not to act or think beyond mankind;
No pow’rs of body or of soul to share,
But what his nature and his state can bear.
Why has not man a microscopic eye?
For this plain reason, man is not a fly.
Say what the use, were finer optics giv’n,
T’ inspect a mite, not comprehend the heav’n?
Or touch, if tremblingly alive all o’er,
To smart and agonize at ev’ry pore?
Or quick effluvia darting through the brain,
Die of a rose in aromatic pain?

“Dear reader, you’re a moron be happy”, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, Bryan is a serious Ligotti cultist, consciousnesses as a curse, there are no other animals in the kingdom that can contemplate their deaths, teaching Koko to sign is the most unmerciful thing in the world, the curse is passed on, the curse of sentience, Galatea 2.2 by Richard Powers, weeping openly, back to the first paragraph, happiness vs. chaos and darkness (making you feel more alive and happy), he who increases his understanding increases his sum of suffering (Ecclesiastes 1:18), the second sentence,

We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.

Einstein was right, isn’t that what this is saying?, to try would be a bad thing, what the Alien movies tell us, Charles Stross’ Laundry Files novels, Case Nightmare Green, the SETI worry, The Three-Body Problem, so dark, a dark vision (that sounds great), a rich book, beating the 18th century drum, recalling Voltaire and Samuel Johnson, stay home and cultivate your garden, the third sentence, how I see myself in relationship with science, science is AWESOME!, a negative spin on it,

The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

hey, guess what?!, we’re all going to die as a species, stick your head in the sand, burn baby burn, drill baby drill, brilliant and calm, I don’t know what it means, the Theosophists, Madame Blavatsky, a hoax religion, your child is going to be the next world messiah, that’s kind of bananas, hugely influential, The Golden Dawn of Aleister Crowley, very Hard SF, the different branches of science, one giant puddle of natural philosophy, the sciences and the humanities, back into fantasy, “But it is not from them that there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it and maddens me when I dream of it.” please expound upon this Mr Jim Moon dead and dreaming, a little wink, double meaning in the Necronomicon,

It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and was virtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathless Chinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

the much discussed couplet, the most famous quote of Lovecraft ever, how the Necronomicon is treated in this story, the Observers Book of Eldritch Beings, medieval grimoires, stenography and ciphers, Doctor John Dee, signed 007, alchemical texts, allegorical, The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, where we get Cthulhu wrong, a marine King Kong vs. the high priest of the Old Ones, they died after their fashion, other dimensions, untold countless dimensions, Dreams In The Witch House, The Whisperer In Darkness, physically dead currently, our physical universe isn’t the only game in town, dead doesn’t apply to these fellows, these are creatures of the cosmos and are eternal, tweeting the dreams, Recapture by H.P. Lovecraft (is a dream recaptured in a sonnet), the translation of dream into text IS Lovecraft’s genre, using the mind to rationalize the irrationable, great artists and poets are best attuned to the transmissions of Cthulhu, evil muses inspired by the reality of science, we are biological creature with no souls fucking and eating and who are gonna die, dreams show up in newspapers in Lovecraft’s world, violence suicide madness, earthquakes, the earth itself is dreaming, the cosmic infinity of the quantum world, a keen astronomer, what if that continuum is inhabited, it’s a good as god, Clarke’s Law, might as well be a god, Castro’s unreliable narration, modern horror fiction, evil mustache twirlers, “It’s all about FREEDOM, guys!”,

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

the most METAL thing Bryan’s ever read, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, you can become like gods!, more stories from the point of view of cultists, the Oathbreaker will reward you because…, entombed but still thinking and dreaming, a generation of stories about hidden kingdoms, The First Men In the Moon, The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton here hold my staff, puns, Greenland, New Zealand, talking to back-woods people, we don’t hold with cops normally, an accurate picture of Louisiana, jury tampering, ethics in government, Henry Kissinger speaking to the Nobel Peace Prize trust, irony is dead, a non-idealist non-fantasy approach, cultists making gods of the old ones, they couldn’t give a damn about humanity, a materialist slant snuck in the back door, a murder mystery, jostled by a “nautical negro”, we do really see Cthulhu coming out of this door, Paul and Marissa,

Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.

the Thing, I have a thing for Things,

weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangible substance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, that was built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes

Philip K. Dick’s “tomb world” becoming Lovecraft, Galactic Pot-Healer, a sunken cathedral, a god without form or shape which can transmit its communications through books, radio and toilet bowls, seeing his own corpse, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, these to guys are receiving the same transmissions, they were on the same wavelength, the transmissions about reality, guys who get science and then go dark, a dark interest in reality, what is lying underneath, Glimmung is not Cthulhu and yet he is, almost as a cult, the cult of the Glimmung, Glimmung is fighting his negative self as well, I have a little box I put myself in so the fish don’t eat me, in struggle of raising this sunken cathedral their is some sort of remuneration or solace, existential dread is lessened in some way, how this connects to plush Cthulhu, you need something to snuggle up with, more senile and benign, experincing this kind of dread in the safety of your own home, you can have a cup of coffee, The Ghost-Table by Elliott O’Donnell, reading Weird Tales on the bus on the way home from work, flapper hats, Margaret Brundage reading a copy of Weird Tales, Arkham House and the Pentagon, WWII, Armed Forces Edition of Lovecraft, dread and horror and attractive, Germany’s equivalent of Weird Tales, Der Orchidgarten (1919), reflecting on death, a comforting skull on your shelf, memento mori, Wayne brings a whole new level of dread, overdose on Cthulhu (it’s homeopathic), cyclopean blocks, the Dark Adventure Radio Theater adaptation, an ongoing adaptation, the stop motion animation Cthulhu, the Nosferatu like look, playing up the heroism, gibbering on the floor, The Man Who Laughs (1928), a perpetual grin, Conrad Veidt, Bob Kane, Gothic horror, Wednesday Adams, Cthulhu is unmentionable, like Voldemort, names have power, naming the animals, Adam and Eve are good Lovecraft characters, Joe Rogan’s podcast, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen of today, Elon Musk, Alan Moore, Joe Rogan, Dan Carlin, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, normally he’s a talker, what am I hearing, mind-blowing perspectives, Peterson is nailing things in ways we haven’t been able to figure out myself before, amazing work, he’s kind of conservative, the left-right thing is a mistake, in the very first thing Adam does after gaining consciousness is hide in a bush, hiding from the all seeing eye, Samuel Delany, a feminist lesbian separatist mercenary company, man is a truncated woman, the final paragraph, things are going to get worse,

his ministers on earth still bellow and prance and slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinking whilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy. Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executors may put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.

what is he talking about?, modernity?, immigration?, the Philip K. Dick return to chaos, life is the only antidote to entropy and yet life must die,

Slowly, amidst the distorted horrors of that indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry of that charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibbered like Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops, great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokes of cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.

a cosmicly potent swimmer, Greek myth, Odysseus wins, Johansen goes back to his wife, I am nobody, it was I Odysseus sacker of cities, I’m gonna tell my dad!, slid greasily, another connection to the sirens,

I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to show why the sound of the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.

an anti-progress narrative, its better not to know, right back to Wayne’s pessimism, no street view for the R’Lyeh, carpool to R’Lyeh

Armed Services Edition - H.P. LOVECRAFT
Cthulhu illustration from Deities and Demigods
The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
The Maltese Falcon meets The Call Of Cthulhu - illustration by DOUGLAS KLAUBA
Cthulhu - illustration by Antonio De Luca
The Call Of Cthulhu WORDCLOUD

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #345 – READALONG: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #345 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about the Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.

Talked about on today’s show:
1937, Jesse has a radical thesis, is this book a true story?, I’m not really happy I just think that I am, Alice In Acidland, drugs, what do we mean by true?, arachnoids and ikthyoids, a summary of Last And First Men, the unnamed narrator, astral projection, the contents of this book, not history but a personal experience (of imagination), standing on a hill, an interesting fantasia, considering the size of the universe, Star Trek with Nazi costumes is possible and perhaps even inevitable, The Truman Show, the nature of infinity, an Italian who would be perfectly happy to use the word true about this book, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.”, bitterness, Dante Alighieri, a lyric poem, Olaf Stapledon was a philosopher, a blazing panoply, an image of the rose, OS, “One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.”, an abiding faith, the original meaning of comedy, comedies end in marriage, sitcoms, both narrators acknowledge their psychological state, an exponential rhythm, overhead obscurities in flight, a Doppler shift, the other Earth, Bvalltu, a composite character, planets – > solar systems -> galaxies, a fractal experience, an encompassing wisdom, marriage as a small atom of community, spirit inhabited rock, a World War I novel, 1986, Eric taught Star Maker to Bryan, memories imbricated upon each other, the preface, Stapledon was an ambulance driver in WWI, looming WWII, militarism, seeing the sunny side of a ruined planet, Merseyside, too smashed up to really be alive, a 1930s novel, fascism vs. communism, how to organize the self and society, a secular myth, a shock to civilization, the cycle of mechanization, terrible mutations, the onset of the tank, a sense of horror, WWI and WWII as two different episodes, the Spanish Civil War, shaking off colonialism, materialistic industrialization, the only wait out is an act of faith, how can we not think of the Star Maker as a monster, “struck dumb with shame”, limitations of the audio medium, Bryan’s keyboard, C.S. Lewis, why C.S. Lewis didn’t like Star Maker, a Lewis-nemesis, crusades, the Great War on Terror (2 decades old), mindless religious violence, anticipations of subsequent Science Fiction, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, two 20th century philosophies, Freud and Marx, neurosis and sublimation, genitals with sense organs, radio pornography, the feelies from Brave New World, crisis of labour, ideologies as philosophical artifacts, not Dave Singer, separated by space and time, supplementary parentheses, adduction of Christianity, three linked universes, playing for the souls of the creatures, a timeless heaven and a timeless hell, Earth, Mars, and Venus in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, suffering for the redemption of the Earth, explicitly not a Christian view, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as a response to a paragraph in Star Maker, all the Christs of all the worlds, “a basket of Christs”, this is Arthur C. Clarke, a tour of Science Fiction in the future, this is The Mote In God’s Eye, The High Crusade, the novel itself is a universe, cosmos vs. universe, Jesse’s theory about the Game Of Thrones universe in the TV show, what Clarke does this in slight watercolours Stapledon paints in bold oils on a massive canvas, Arthur C. Clarke’s life changing moment, copying out the scales of magnitude, Bryan’s son, encapsulating, it is Stapledon, Dante is Dante in The Divine Comedy, The Divine Comedy as political revenge, Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, Stapledon is not a punishment guy, when Lovecraft looks out of the universe…, when Stapledon looks at the same vista he’s not as melancholy about it, The Cats Of Ulthar, contemporaries, philosophical horror, long distance psychology, like Poe, fairy tales, handling fears, we get to feel, this is an education effort, quite special, a genre issue, the roller-coaster moment, looking at the vocabulary, eldritch and ichor, lucidity, feeling, the etymology of the word “vermin”,

I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and
living gem revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though
invisible, were some of the most congested centers of human population.
There below me lay huge industrial regions, blackening the air with
smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly momentous enterprise had
made no mark whatever on the features of the planet. From this high
look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before the dawn of
man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could have
guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering,
self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.

the stellar wars, too lucid for more tribal patterns, sympsychic partnership, angelic vermin, more real than all the stars, like two close trees grown together, difference can be strength, the Orson Welles radio version of The War Of The Worlds, versus the Martians our differences don’t make a hill’s worth of difference, The Lord Of The Rings, looking for the Ents and the Entwives, there are Ents in Star Maker, the holy sex transmission that never got off, the ships worlds,

It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to
see the foam circling under one’s own nose as the vessel plunged through
the waves, to taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past
one’s flanks, to feel the pressure of air on the sails as one beat up
against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line the rush and murmur
of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom’s configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the
under-water ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a
hurricane, to feel the masts straining and the sails threatening to
split, while the hull was battered by the small but furious waves of
that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great living
ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their
yellow or russet sails to the wind’s variations; and very strange it was
to realize that these were not man-made objects but themselves conscious
and purposeful.

Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one
another’s sails with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another’s
soft “decks” with metal knives, or at a distance firing at one another
with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it was to feel in the presence
of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to carry out with
her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed
the love-play of this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled,
grapple her to one’s flank, and board her with sexual invasion. It was
charming, too, to see a mother ship attended by her children. I should
mention, by the way, that at birth the young were launched from the
mother’s decks like little boats, one from the port side, one from the
starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough
weather and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our
visit natural sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and
propeller which were fixed to the stern.

nothing like this in Science Fiction, Lloyd Abbey’s The Last Whales, an elegiac book, another sub-genre of Kindle based pornography, much of William Wordsworth’s poetry is admired too simply, Eric reads Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, the houses with windows like sleeping eyes, watching the lives of dreams, the houses are sleeping not the people within them, the smokeless air, lying still, what makes the beauty, The World Is Too Much With Us, a cry for God, Fungi From Yuggoth (IX): The Courtyard by H.P. Lovecraft:

It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!

deemed unfit, body horror, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, ever more capacious mentalities, being taught by groups, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Inner Light, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant as a horrible version of this, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, Boneland by Jeffrey Thomas, from a microscopic perspective, these things pass, bodyless timelords, a swarm of locusts, eugenics, Chapter 9, cultural and eugenical means, The King In Yellow (The Repairer Of Reputations) by Robert W. Chambers, the lethal chamber, Futurama, Providence, Alan Moore, criticism of Moore, turning everything Lovecraft hates into love, Last And First Men was a bestseller in 1930, the fifth generation, the Martian hive-mind, what is the moral ideal that Stapledon hopes that we move toward?, individuality in community, a literary allusion, a race on Venus, from epoch to epoch, that scaling thing again, the problem with fascism, fasces, is this a Darwinian book?, parasitism, symbiosis, evolution, Marx dedicated Capital to Darwin, getting rid of Harper, mutual aid, The World, the Flesh & the Devil by J.D. Bernal, astronomy, Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution), mutual slaughter, profit in fraternization with the enemy, like Rod Serling The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, gentleness as a religion, the entangled bank (in Origin Of Species), functional stability arising out of local possibilities of violence, virtue in the creator is not the same of virtue in the creature, a third position, the sense experience of a star, in the center of this paragraph, free will and determinism are compatible, always bigger, a selfless star, the normal voluntary motor activity of a star, if you empty your ego and just feel others, perfect selflessness allows entrance into perfect community, getting your karma clean, dark matter, the science is pretty damn good, the key word is “lucid”, the vast emptiness enables the insight into the stars, rubies lay behind me, the sky’s familiar diamonds, all possible light, watch Steven Universe, ageless like Star Maker, the tag cloud, world and worlds, Oswald Spengler, growth -> change -> decay, the myth at the end, the course of empire paintings, The Decline Of The West, Arnold J. Toynbee, future histories, we could see if we were lucid, a great Götterdämmerung moment, the Russian civil war, The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, subsequent Science Fiction, for those who haven’t yet read the book…, the most disliked and most liked book, what kind of a novel is this?, an epic poem crossed with a lyric poem, erroneous expectations, feel better about your fishwife and your step children, back to Lovecraft, a writer of ideas, Odd John and Sirius are more like regular novels, Jack London’s Star Rover, more swords fewer wives, Frank Herbert, God Emperor Of Dune, when you frame it that way…, Accelerando by Charles Stross, full time IT professionals writing SF, Ted Chiang and Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang can do anything, lapidary, Jorges Luis Borges wrote an introduction for Star Marker, A Story Between Jest and Earnest, Love and Discord.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Harry E. Turner's Zenith - Starmaker

Posted by Jesse Willis