The SFFaudio Podcast #473 – READALONG: The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

May 14, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #473 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, Marissa Vu, Bryan Alexander, and Julie Hoverson discuss The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
19 Nocturne dot net or dot org, time-traveling, novella, Astounding Stories, June 1936, stricken strucken, the centerpoint for everything that H.P. Lovecraft writes, cats and poetry, cannibalism?, “The Dreamquest Of Unknown Political Economy”, Trantorians, Isaac Asimov, Olaf Stapledon, immense breadth of time, Doctor Who, Albert Finney?, Jack Finney, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Altered Carbon, the Uber economy, the HPLHS adaptation, economist, psychologist, the Foundation series, Jevons, connecting economic cycles with sunspots, cosmic horrors, the Jevons paradox, a dark insight into human nature, Malthus, eugenics, fascistic socialism, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, traumatized by the wrong things, a utopia story, intellectual pursuits, laying some seeds, we wouldn’t notice anyway, 100% nerds, they’re librarians, puritans, an infinite library, Borgesian in its vastness, the spider people, the beetle people, they left their library behind?, Fahrenheit 451, cloud computing, playing around with time, curiously tenacious cellulose fabric, the things under the trap doors, Mencken’s definition of puritanism, World Of Greyhawk, adamantium stone, the Drow, stemming the tide, held at bay, very allegorical, putting down of the dark desires, strange other stories, The Outsider, seeing his form, the horror of seeing your own body, horror, science fiction, evil?, animals, Dreams Of Yith by Duane W. Rimel and H.P. Lovecraft, the rugose cone minds occupy the previous bodies, entitlement, no malice, where the horror is, a horror that nobody can even imagine, talking teapots and singing cats, from a pre-cartoon era, The White People by Arthur Machen, evil is not wickedness, talking rosebushes, airships and submarines, privileges, intellectual adventures, inward bound, what Nathan Peasley’s doing in the age when ferns ruled the earth, meeting with secret cults, generous freaks, how we would treat animals, curiosity rules, putting our minds in a wolfpack, living like a wolf, committing suicide, exercising your rugose body, Red Dwarf’s Mindswap, an exemplary species or individual?, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, Julie’s narration, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, juvenile delinquents, Yithian kids, we’re abused herd animals, The Roller-coaster by Alfred Bester, a Westworld-like kill-torture-sex device, dreams and books and architecture, much nicer, being possessed by a library, do they wipe the minds to protect themselves or to stop messing with the timelines?, WWI, a very different sequel, Gothic tale, haunted house, a haunted basement, where you suppress that what you fear and dread, Earth’s entire history is a Gothic story, The Thing On The Doorstep, consciousness transference, The Tomb, The Nameless City, crawling through tunnels, The Beast In The Cave, At The Mountains Of Madness, resonating with the shoggoths, two levels, more exploration, Professor Dyer, when the Doctor goes to Gallifrey, Gallifreyans are Yithians, meddling, Seeds Of Doom, Genesis Of The Daleks, their Mormon mission, a rite of passage, a fascistic library, we don’t know enough about the slug people, Hammers On Bone by Cassandra Khaw, A Song For Quiet, Weird Detective, investigating a crime, Peasley’s rider went looking for cosmic horror info, access, amnesia, the undercooked conspiracy, the long fingered foreigners, special knowledge, Nyarlathotep, the MiGo, the Cult of Hastur, the Cult of The Yellow Sign, The Repairer Of Reputations, suicide booths, family plots, a hint of a story, family drama buried deep, what must have happened, this is fascinating, my dad has become this alien sociopath, the wife’s story, the son’s story, all Lovecraft so deeply, he was ugly, visage, he’s got a wife, a surrogate child, obsessed with libraries, how the avatar of Peasley’s occupier, A Year Off, the restriction of funds, Quebec or Florida, Antarctica, New York, the love of the home and the desire to explore, how important dream is, what his dreams mean, what Lovecraft’s stuff is all about, obsessed with his dreams, Donald Trump’s twitter account,

From the moment of my strange waking my wife had regarded me with extreme horror and loathing, vowing that I was some utter alien usurping the body of her husband. In 1910 she obtained a legal divorce, nor would she ever consent to see me even after my return to normality in 1913. These feelings were shared by my elder son and my small daughter, neither of whom I have ever seen since.

Only my second son, Wingate, seemed able to conquer the terror and repulsion which my change aroused. He indeed felt that I was a stranger, but though only eight years old held fast to a faith that my proper self would return. When it did return he sought me out, and the courts gave me his custody.

the kid sought him out, there’s a whole novel in there, we have to race past it, Wingate is essentially Lovecraft, Lovecraft’s dad, the mother’s maiden name, we get rid of the women, they don’t understand us, or they understand to much, women are scary, I.N.J. Culbard’s comics adaptation, what that face looks like, drool, I had the most strange expression, a striking face, traumatizing, high on morphine, what the fuck’s going on, if you’re the wife…, the HPLHS adaptation, Al-ice, vestments, pretty amazing, the ending, almost comical, the polypous invisible horror race, an extended descent into the cellar, twist ending, a thousand Twilight Zone imitators, the weakest part of the story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, an Inception level twist, we already knew that,

No eye had seen, no hand had touched that book since the advent of man to this planet. And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that frightful abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless hieroglyphs of earth’s youth. They were, instead, the letters of our familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my own handwriting.

tentacle-writing, a massive letter to his son, a long boat trip, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, abandoning his son, is he going to kill himself?, just fleeing?, everything he imagined actually did happen, the heart of this story, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, reproduction without women, back to the text, self mutilation, giving up everything you’ve been looking for, bad idea, Australia, the biggest spider, am I mistaken in thinking the star headed vegetable carnivores of Antarctica are pretty nice folks?, people is people, racism, discrepancies, how many gay friends, he hates foreigners, anybody he hasn’t met, fear, fear of the unknown, raised so isolated, he is literally The Outsider, a night walk, to clear his mind, seeing people inside having a gay party in a familiar building, he is the horror, a professor of economy who becomes a professor of psychology, a sign of bad character, Darkest Of The Hillside ThicketsThe Shadow Out Of Tim, a marine biologist, made vs. suggested, no Sotho, Nug-soth, we’re going to get magicians back, filed under revisions, a pocket-sized version of Fungi From Yuggoth, high weird, panoramic and picaresque, Ramsey Campbell’s early mythos stories, visions, Campbellian weirdness, surrealism, a giant rolling head, a progression of imagery, the lidded bulbs close heavily once more, somebody’s guarding, the third stanza, a stream of putrefaction, hovering mist, those dead gates, the silver gates of Yith, is Yith the city or the planet, the machines, the secret that would bring the dwellers back, a mirror of what we’re seeing on Earth, another planet, the glowing dome, Lovecraftian key, The Book, at last the key is mine, unseal the lid, they have to do this repression, what does human mean?, eyeless huge and bloated head, striking imagery, Soth = Smith, caged by the great race, whistling horrors, the 9th stanza, carrion eaters, high in the even sky, the beings of Yith, waiting to be eaten, bat winged beings, snouted winged folk, who is doing the dreaming?, is it Peasley?, distilling the lovely imagery of delving, 150 million years ago, the blocky ruins of Interstate State Park, very Yithian, all the gardens, tables and pens and standing desks, their technology, weird mechanical contraption, convex mirrors, the keyboard hasn’t been invented, a clicking conversation, a horror, David Lindsay’s A Voyage To Arcturus, the sense, they possessed many senses, they can’t smell, of the body, more primal, smell seeds and swamps, taste is too close, not intellectual enough, hey all look like they’re wearing dresses, low and body-like, pleasure senses, chocolate, honey makes babies happy, a utopia dystopia based on reading and writing, being able to taste things, mashed potatoes, a secret favourite, he wanted to try everything, no wonder his wife left him, the ideal consumer for British food, a strange story, almost plotless, Neal Stephenson, a mystery at a distance, Jesse was struck, how he found out all his information, he reconstructs the journeys, he goes to all the places, visiting all the libraries, reliving his life, Sweden, he’s done things, two fans, more Lovecraft coming, The Dreams In The Witch-house, Inssmouth, Dunwich, the differnt adaptations, the 1972 Skull Comics adaptation, cute Yithians, the ship’s doctor, action, different ways to do things, Julie’s going to mess people up, told from the women’s point of view, Red Hook, The Music Of Erich Zann, racism, six pages and an eternity, a lot of streetwalking, one of the two Yithian senses.

Graphic Classics - Volume 4 - H.P.Lovecraft: The Shadow Out Of Time adapted by Matt Howarth

The Shadow Out Of Time - adapted by I.N.J. Culbard

HPLHS - Arkham Advertiser, May 16 1908

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #466 – READALONG: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

March 26, 2018 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #466 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa, talk about Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

Talked about on today’s show:
clones, doppelgangers, eidolons, 2014, the 2018 movie, gifting the book, Finch, City Of Saints And Madmen, new weirdness, The New Weird, The Weird, appreciating the book, appreciating the movie, understanding why people talk about the book and the movie the way they do, justifying their ratings, framing it wrong, the Wikipedia entry, The New Yorker, Area X as a hyperobject, Paul would know, big dumb object, Ringworld, Rama, going into it and experiencing it, the original and the interpretation, what?!!?, better experienced as audiobook, the cool thing about the audio version (it is ephemeral), you can’t skip or skim sex scenes, a dream like quality to the words, pronunciation, how things read on the page, The Man Who Japed, juveniles = Juvenal(s), fucking with the reader by changing the text in a kind of fungal growth, experimental, fairly successful, not easily digestible, the book is a manifestation of Area X itself, screwing with the readers’ heads, Alex Garland, seeing the movie first and then reading the book, Blade Runner: 2049, the theater experience, the painful trauma of childbirth, Sunshine, a science fiction movie that doesn’t care about science at all, Ex Machina, nuking the sun back into starting?, the metaphor for Sunshine, not a good idea for a movie, Solar Crisis (1990), Hard Sun, doing good things with bad ideas, not a perfect movie, interpretation, we can’t do that, narrator, from an internal point of view, a kind of version, inspired by, the book is all about words, no big piles of documents to read, The Man In the High Castle show, pointing to something without saying what it is, an art film for a mainstream audience, Andrei Tarkovsky, expectations, characters with names, outside of Area X, setting expectations, imagine its a different expedition, the tower the tunnel, Steen, what do you remember about it?, it’s “this kind of book”, no proper nouns in the whole book, signposts on your journey, taking down all the signposts, a sign there’s no signposts, an initial “S”, Ghostbird, Area 51, a word you use in place of a word, Operation Overlord, H-Hour, D-Day, designed to prevent you from knowing, in the mode, shift gears, losing your spot, so dreamlike, hypnotic, hypnosis, as a trope, hypnosis was huge in Science Fiction for decades, not a Science Fiction book, who likes this book, literary fiction, very lit-fic, horror elements, weird fiction, a reworking of The Willows, inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Supernatural Horror In Literature, something more than secret murder and bloody bones, a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer unknown forces, the assaults of chaos and the demons of unplumbed space, an attack on the fixed laws of nature, a wrinkle in reality, what’s it like to experience that, if you squint a little bit, a metaphor for the scientific process, scientists, AR-15 or M-16s, a nod back to the book, everybody has one, the same uniform, a military expedition but twisted in a certain sense, the second and third books, cancer as a motivation, the disintegrating marriage, having an affair, pathetic and sad, set a little bit into the future, any evidence that it is set into the future, everything in the book is completely without specificity, he went through it with a comb and took away information, the word Lovecraft loves to use “certain”, a great adjective, the pig creature is a bear in the movie, Vietnam War upside down and inside out, the biologist is in love with the swimming pool, the characters in the film are cannon fodder, the conversation in the boat, taking away the centrality of character, a framing story, Benedict Wong, the tie-up scene, her fingerprints are moving, a lift from The Thing (1982), paranoia and suspicion, really bullshit, they’re all on Xanax, passion about biology and ecosystems, we only see the Xanaxed version on the characters in the film, we don’t see what the love, sympathy isn’t enough, evoking place, the black pine forest, a derelict lighthouse, untroubled landscape, Florida or the Georgia coast, filmed in England, cool ideas, Southern Reach, SR, an institution, two things that don’t tell you what they are, the same time zone, a lack of specificity,

“After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marshes.”

the crawler, the thing without the name, the Swede, the narrator’s name, as if he is in the room, utterly transformed, just that, I am not returning home,

“See,” he said quietly, “the victim that made our escape possible!”

And when I peered across his shoulder I saw that his stick rested on the body of a man. He turned it over. It was the corpse of a peasant, and the face was hidden in the sand. Clearly the man had been drowned, but a few hours before, and his body must have been swept down upon our island somewhere about the hour of the dawn—at the very time the fit had passed.

“We must give it a decent burial, you know.”

“I suppose so,” I replied. I shuddered a little in spite of myself, for there was something about the appearance of that poor drowned man that turned me cold.

The Swede glanced up sharply at me, an undecipherable expression on his face, and began clambering down the bank. I followed him more leisurely. The current, I noticed, had torn away much of the clothing from the body, so that the neck and part of the chest lay bare.

Halfway down the bank my companion suddenly stopped and held up his hand in warning; but either my foot slipped, or I had gained too much momentum to bring myself quickly to a halt, for I bumped into him and sent him forward with a sort of leap to save himself. We tumbled together on to the hard sand so that our feet splashed into the water. And, before anything could be done, we had collided a little heavily against the corpse.

The Swede uttered a sharp cry. And I sprang back as if I had been shot.

At the moment we touched the body there rose from its surface the loud sound of humming—the sound of several hummings—which passed with a vast commotion as of winged things in the air about us and disappeared upwards into the sky, growing fainter and fainter till they finally ceased in the distance. It was exactly as though we had disturbed some living yet invisible creatures at work.

My companion clutched me, and I think I clutched him, but before either of us had time properly to recover from the unexpected shock, we saw that a movement of the current was turning the corpse round so that it became released from the grip of the willow roots. A moment later it had turned completely over, the dead face uppermost, staring at the sky. It lay on the edge of the main stream. In another moment it would be swept away.

The Swede started to save it, shouting again something I did not catch about a “proper burial”—and then abruptly dropped upon his knees on the sand and covered his eyes with his hands. I was beside him in an instant.

I saw what he had seen.

For just as the body swung round to the current the face and the exposed chest turned full towards us, and showed plainly how the skin and flesh were indented with small hollows, beautifully formed, and exactly similar in shape and kind to the sand-funnels that we had found all over the island.

“Their mark!” I heard my companion mutter under his breath. “Their awful mark!”

And when I turned my eyes again from his ghastly face to the river, the current had done its work, and the body had been swept away into mid-stream and was already beyond our reach and almost out of sight, turning over and over on the waves like an otter.

all the evidence is gone, the explanation in the movie is as much The Colour Out Of Space as it is the novel Annihilation, 12 expeditions, the shimmer is gone, possibilities, the asteroid, something extraterrestrial struck the lighthouse, the “S” word, he’s not her husband, he’s the duplicate, the shimmer in the eyes, more subtle, the thing he’s doing, a comet, meteorite, dwarf planets and planets, Ceres, a meteorite vs. comet, the object is white, aiming at something, the earth is a giant egg and the comet is a sperm, a tunnel and tower, slipping into Eric Rabkin mode, designed to be seen in the unconsciousness (if not the consciousnesses), a tunnel and a tower, becoming a being, fungus all over the walls is white, cell division, an egg developing into a person, cancer, ovarian cancer, the all women cast!, what is it like to have a being growing inside of you that is a mutation of you, the childless relationship, off to fight in Pakistan again, reunited, the happy ending is a new beginning, isn’t pregnancy scary, the real immortality cells can have, cancer vs. a baby, kinds of immortality, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the film works at what it’s doing, the movie is a prism for the book, a very filmic version of the book, it couldn’t be an audio drama, very very very metaphorical, a comic book version, in the backgrounds, Alex Garland’s story, the words scrawled in the tower/tunnel,

“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dimlit halls of other places forms that never were and never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who never saw what could have been. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit—and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive. And there shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy from which shall blossom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passing of an age. That which dies shall still know life in death for all that decays is not forgotten and reanimated it shall walk the world in the bliss of not-knowing. And then there shall be a fire that knows the naming of you, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you that remains.”

dreamlike biblical word salad, going to that church, its just weird, negative reviews of the book, you’re never going to get an explanation, very meta, the narration is unreliable, or the universe is unreliable, she’s in a coma, none of this is happening, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Providence, seeing sexuality in everything, Rapunzel is only a sex story, hair growth like plant growth, a retelling of the Garden of Eden, underneath a lot of stuff is sex, about the cosmic, makes Jesse sad, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, a big stream of white cats up to the Moon, a sex dream, once you start looking, what it makes us different from rocks, the formation of rocks, we can’t compare ourselves to electrons, not mammal sex, why that weird world salad sentence, a tunnel, spiraling, a helix, just words, words are magic in the same way that genes are magic, let’s write some words, what does it mean?, certain coding, creating and casting a spell, speech-writing, amino acids into creatures who build and use firetrucks, this is literally Marissa’s job, where the spell is breaking, a piece of tape, seeing the book as a text in reference to texts and weird fiction, the word “thing”, that’s why the word shows up in so many weird fiction stories, uncanny horror, between fantasy and science fiction, body horror, Re-Animator, coming back to life as parts, seeing those fruiting bodies on the dead corpses, let’s take some samples, guts fall out, the more Marissa learns about biology the more grossed out she gets, designed to, very very movie, intestines, fear, scary gross out scene, Aliens (1986), the perfect film movie for what it is, taking certain aspects of Alien and amps them up, Terminator 2 is a remake of Terminator, Hudson becomes the hero, switching over to science mode, horror mode, you’re allowed to switch around as much as you want, why so many love it and hate it, contamination story, pregnancy story, creeping dread, taking all that potential out, taking it as it is, watch the movies first, preferring the text, reading the subtitles, as a film the characters are Xanaxed humans, placing themselves in our reality, are you polishing your Pashtun?, grounding, the Southern Reach is a metaphor for the continual war on terror?, 17 years in, he should have made it a real art film, unrelatable, are we all 12 years old?, being talked down to, people on CNN, everything that isn’t set in the shimmer hurts the film, the environmental disaster, a military screw up, Stephen King (The Mist), angry at the movie, a slow creeping dread, so disappointing, the plants that look like people, the twinned dears with flower antlers, very excellent language, the hints about the journals, this is all in a journal, that’s the moment they knew the most, are they losing information, we start with more information, if you re-edited the film, we all lost time, this is the afterlife, this is dream state, if I was religious I would read everything that way, the pool, the pond, tower tunnel, how her husband was traumatized by something in childhood and it was a film, the shownotes for the Altered Carbon show, how memory works, how important childhood memory is for laying your personality down, what memories are even real, that was a different person, the crisis actor thing, misremembered, .005% error margin, interrupting an attempted murder, strangling and cover in blood, missing limbs, the screaming thing in the bushes, self-reinforcing, the spiral of words, in 10 or 20 years, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, an agency in dysfunction, Kafkaesque, so mundane, The Castle, in second person, sudden jarring cries, dripping out, the, the movie poster’s tagline “fear what’s inside”, psychological head-space fear, flowers sprouting from her arms, the better parts of the film, filmic explanation, the anthropologist in the tunnel/tower, the psychologist, did she lie?, that’s a story, the story doesn’t make sense as a straight up story, hypnosis as used in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, very science fictional, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, [Jesse has already done a show on it], a decent movie and an even more interesting book, Marissa wants Jesse to read the sequels, a marketing gimmick, readings for podcasts, revisiting as a concept, three big pieces of a puzzle, what’s wrong with the word “spoiler” is the word has the opposite meaning (for Jesse), knowing more makes Jesse more interested, the lady goes off in a boat (maybe), and leave her journal behind (maybe), it would be much better as a found footage movie shot on videotape, shaky-cam, The Ritual (2017), four guys go out for a hike in the woods, a psychological haunting that happens, not being able to act, the psychology works amazingly better, Norse mythology, a hike movie (!) Marissa’s in!, Swedish mountains, we’ve been completely destroyed, why is called Annihilation?, special pleading, “nihil” means nothing and “a” means not – annihilation is a nothing of a nothing, titles are important, the trigger word, The Slithering Shadow by Robert A. Howard, something to talk about over beers, having something to do is really important in a world with no meaning, Jesse has nothing in common with his students, the only thing we really share is the text, before and after class, having that ritual of three interesting things, Matchstick Men, there’s no heaven, try to get through it until the cancer comes, less Xanax more coffee, The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson, a becalment, do you have any food, a ship covered in fungus, an island covered in fungus, eating the fungus, becoming the fungus, the pool body,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #465 – READALONG: Dune (Book I of III) by Frank Herbert

March 19, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #465 – Jesse, Paul, Scott, Marissa, Matthew Sanborn Smith, Will, and Bryan talk about Dune: Book I “Dune” by Frank Herbert aka the first third of Dune.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965, serialized in Analog 1963, 1964, 15 years old, start the training early, mentat training, Bene Gesserit training, a trope, the crowning trope of a certain kind of science fiction, we are the universal super-being, fans are slans, it turns you into an asshole, peak podcast, a lot of drugs, the truthsayer drug, #thedrugsofdune, a drug book influenced by a drugee, rachag, coffee, the cranberry coloured stain of the sapho juice, mentats is a drug in the Fallout games, Nefud squatted, semuta, trance drugs, call on Doctor Yeuh, a wakeshot, sleeping drugs, ups and downs, poisons, the gom jabbar, inspiration, mushroom collecting, some science, Joe Rogan’s mushroom guy, psilocybin, pretty obvious, mushroomy, ecological science fiction, the creatures, part plant and part animal, the spice is worm poop, the network of how everything is interconnected, why it is so different from every other book, Philip K. Dick, A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, a technology of the self, a drug of choice, meditation practices, how embodied the training Paul is doing, a very Joe Rogan book, body training, he is Joe Rogan, consciousness expansion, a prophecy laid down for him, a nice book about a mother and son going on a camping trip in the desert, wherever Paul goes, trite and facile, when Paul was 14/15, he has the same name as me, a mentat duke, save it for the next podcast, the first book of the first book of Dune, and baby sister in the womb, up to the point where Paul is crying for his daddy, high on spice beer, Florida, reading while travelling intensifies the reading experience, Tuscon, Idaho, the belly of a sandworm, walking around L.A., wasting water, get the squeezings, water discipline, what makes Dune so amazing, ecological novel, A Game Of Thrones before A Game Of Thrones, read it, read it, read it, an electro-static charged novel, pushing fifty, Dune Messiah, sparse, elegant, The Dune Encyclopedia, thoughtful and oblique, think harder and reflect, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, Arthur C. Clarke, a deep book, preparing for six years, sand dune migration in Oregon, comparative religion, psychology, twenty years, his genetic unconsciousness, a lot of poetry, Gurney Halleck, Dune World, try a Caladanian daughter, dense layer of referential, a second order approximation, a reaction to WWII and WWI, in different directions, Muslim history, resource politics, the ecological movement, decolonization politics, Orientalism by Edward W. Said, Napoleon, Lawrence Of Arabia turned on its head, exploiting the exotic, Misionaria Protectiva, a naked power grab, pretty subtle, intertwining change and stagnation, stress and response, the prison planet, galactic messiah, Arnold J. Toynbee, Chinese Gordon, Karthoum, the Mahdi, distributing information, a small film book of a small sandworm, a propaganda system, three great tutors for his sun, his mom is his yoga instructor, Thufir for math, Gurney for fighting, less internet than it should be, educating Paul, the Anderson/Herbert prequels, mentats are their YouTube, the Harkonen veil, basic facts, the Imperial Ecologist and Planetologist, the spacing guild, an information bottleneck, weather satellites, this information thing, the effect of a messiah on a society, the structure around a messianic leader, reflecting on the casualties of Paul’s jihad, unbelievers all, information transfer, Bene Gesserit fake news, accusing Russia, propaganda, this is a good duke, stories transfer (not YouTube videos), no rocketry, background ecology, door seals, meditation and the Arrakis version of chakras, a sense of pedagogy, a re-imagination of space-opera, Paul and Feyd are both students, formal and informal teachers, are you catching this?, loving relationship, one is the twisted and one is the pure, the policy and the curriculum, training up an aristocracy, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, the medieval space opera, Star Wars, why it works for bad reasons, monoplocies, CHOAM, autocracies, a dream of Jesuits, House Corrino, the terrible crime of stagnation, cybernetics, the great mind, Game Of Thrones type tactics, a thoughtful parody, a retro universe, an intervention in the history of Science Fiction, your magna carta, family atomics, kanly, reading this novel after 1990, reading it in the 1980s, an appendix show?, the banquet scene, such a faithful adaptation of a novel, Dr Yueh’s droopy mustache, it’s not about what you film, the emotional undercurrent above the table, players roles, chess pieces, a microscopic view of the macroscopic greatness of this book, Ted Chiang’s Understand, picking up all these things, Paul gets an insult, Liet Kynes’ ally, this is why Jesse doesn’t like going to dinner parties, the most important scene in the book?, what a lot of novels are afraid to do, head-hopping, what they’re thinking, how they’re plotting, the power of Herbert, an unpaid-off plot thread, the stillsuit’s manufacturer’s daughter, who put her into play?, in light of later events…, George Guidall’s is the best audiobook version, how proof against modern times, “roles for women” and “mansplaining”, strictly defined, maybe we’re being double out-thought, from the eyes of other characters, false information, when Yueh gives himself away, the distraction we see in him, unreliable head-hopper, the narrator makes us like Paul, the epigraphs, you have a traitor amongst you, we know pretty much everything, the tension comes from elsewhere, who the father of Jessica was, the only surprise, so awesome, spoilers are not the important thing, who the hidden murderer is doesn’t matter, not Yueh, inconceivable to break imperial conditioning, B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, a towering achievement of world-building, a classic suspense story, Ken Schneyer, Princess Irulan is a propagandist, the opening, inside the propaganda machine, Hart To Hart, predestination as storytelling technique, Agamemnon by Aeschylus, two great houses, a knowing walk into doom, a reversal of the hero’s journey, a romance, the seeds of tragedy are being sown, remixes of contemporary and historical events, Gom Jabbar as a pun on Kareem Abdul Jabbar? [or is the jabbar derived directly from the Arabic for coercion or force?], the “Lansdraad”, the Hanseatic League, whipping all these things together, Tolkien, very Shakespearean, the soliloquy, Piter De Vries, watching Dune under the effect of edibles, watch the David Lynch movies first!, Starlog, a fascinating movie and book, The Twilight Zone Magazine, the reader creates the world for themselves, how an ornithopter works, Jodorowsky’s Dune, sparking off your imagination, Eric S. Rabkin’s “transformed language”, dragons, worm = wyrm, the epithets, silky and effeminate, the Harkonnen sexuality vs. the Atredies’ kanly manliness, the Baron’s an awesome villain, appetites, plans within plans, surrounded by weak terrible characters, don’t waste this sexy lady, whoever seduced the Baron in his youth, the greatest villains, Night At The Museum, to enhance the horror of the Harkonens, a love of a certain kind of efficiency and morality, trying to get revenge, the unexpected, “Russian hacking”, the internet research agency, it’s a bot, billionaires know each other, foolish and stupid thinking, seeing the inner workings of people’s minds, subtle body cues and motivational signals, we are trained by Herbert, the “my dead wife excuse”, when did Yueh flip, for murder?, securing his seed for another bloodline?, a text for analyzing reality, James Risen‘s debate with Glenn Greenwald, we’re becoming the Kwisatz Haderach while we’re reading it, priming for skepticism, the weirding way, Bene Gesserit kung fu, the voice is real, “the teacher voice”, the “parent voice”, The Wire, Stilgar spits on the table, the book is sneaky and devilish, a science of pain, living your life in a pain amplifier, similar to LSD and hallucinogens, layers going on underneath, collective unconscious, everything is interconnected, Jungian racial memory, the Reverend Gaius Helen Mohiam, Siân Phillips, you treat her as a common serving wench?, sequel and prequel books, Hellhole by Kevin J. Anderson, Seleucus Secundus, Sardukar, mining ideas, marrying soft and hard science fiction, Dune as a fat fantasy novel, noble houses, sword fights, magical powers, a fantasy book with science fiction discipline, science fiction tools, anthropology, Black Panther, a scientific ecology, no sense of the fantastic, The Stars My Destination, cold eyed realpolitik, political science, Michael Moorcock’s Starship Stormtroopers, what makes Mordor evil, when Gurney becomes to old, a moral difference, the evil is real, wanting to have the scenes, the road goes ever on, but what are the healing properties of that tree?, a walking tour of England, the greatest connection to fantasy is with how the Kwisatz Haderach works, a cool insane idea, the Mass Effect games, space magic, “everything’s connected man, I can travel to the stars!”, “I can read your mind, man!”, when Paul has a dream of Chani, the waking dream, Muad’dib, drunken Duncan Idaho, Altered Carbon, brain chemistry, advanced mental training to appreciate your dreams, lucid dreaming, pure fantasy, working against the Missionaria Protectiva, never mind about Elijah!, actual nuns took Scott away, the zeitgeist of science fiction in the 1960s, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven’s indestructible hulls, Philip K. Dick, Athena visiting Telemachus, the metaphor for a bowstring being drawn and released, the Butlerian Jihad, human machines and our magic and engineering, focused consciousness, the animal and the human, love and duty, fantasy strips away choice, Frodo, a fantasy of international relations, Tolkien wants to leave the world, those orcs, ultimately killable, tools for dealing with the world, take walks and smoke pipes, a training manual, it’s all coming together, points of realization, “wow, my mind blown!”, the morality and humanity of your parents, Dune World (the Analog serialization), the heroes are wiped out, the trap is sprung, when Gandalf is killed, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, great relief, traipsing through Farmer Maggot’s mushroom fields.

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

CAEDMON - Dune Banquet Scene - art by Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #377 – READALONG: Dreamwalker by Russell James

July 11, 2016 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #377 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and David Stifel talk about Dreamwalker by Russell James

Talked about on today’s show:
ACX, Audio Realms, Fred Godsmark, a workmanlike exposition, a terrific premise, the setup, a disability in life mirrored by an ability in the dream world, all of the spoilers, Life Is A Dream by Pedro Calderón, a prophecy in the court of Poland, raised in a cave, juice of the poppy, an Elizabethan era court, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, the Induction in The Taming Of The Shrew, a Shakespearean hobo, the play with the play, the dream story is improved because of the framing, a secret dream girl, building the dream mansion, a memory palace, is it a horror novel?, a fantasy novel with some gore, Paul’s theory of horror, The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher, splatterpunk, horror is something you put on to something, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, the mean streets of Atlantic City, surgical detail, two kinds of horror: body horror and moral horror, Greek tragedy, how many fingers into his orbits, the Bacchae and Pentheus, oh my god the parents are monsters, H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, but rather Dreamscape (1984), the symbolism, Dennis Quaid is a psychic trained as a dreamwalker, Inception, seeing Nancy Regan being exploded by a nuclear bomb in New York City, a rare phenomenon, an internet of dreams, Roger Zelazny’s Dreammaster, a whole sequence of dream stories, stories on both sides of the fence, assassination at the bus station, no body to go back to, coma, afraid to go to sleep, Dreamwalker would make a very good movie, picturing Atlantic City, no salt water taffy, what does Twin Moon city look like?, how does it get built?, the shared landscape, Second Life, virtual reality, how seriously do you take your dreams?, retreating from day-life into dream, Pete, depressed people sleep, Moby Dick has a lot of mass, it gets better as it goes along, self-contained, Pete is a sympathetic figure, visual processing disorder, libraries turning into caves, we all have visual processing disorder in dreams, dream house, dream girl, lucid vision in the dreamworld, sequel dreams, alternate New York, the geography of dreams, littering the landscape with so many (undercooked?) seeds, the furniture all thrown out on to the street, Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant, furniture fleeing a home, to flee his fleeing furniture, checking into an insane asylum, the furniture of your mind, the taxis with two crossed palm-trees, is Twin Moon City in the Caribbean?, an alternate Port-au-Prince, Jesse’s illustration, Nameless Street, is Reyna supposed to be white? she’s blonde, Pete is supposed to be white too right?, the good girl is a black guy too, What Dreams May Come, reflecting an essential truth, what would Russell James say?, in dream people blend together, a love hate relationship with Haiti, Ithaca (NY), moving to Philadelphia, she has a ship, retelling the novel from another character’s POV, “dream girl”, his view of her, following her sister into death, the scene with the antelope, what’s the range of dream wifi?, inquiring minds, a sequence at the bus station, overhearing the soldier’s, a smile that the son will never see, a foreshadowing of Tommy’s return, what happened to the assassin (the hit-woman), an entertainment book, not designed to languish in a drawer for sixty years, this is what a modern meat and potatoes working writer book looks like, amazingly deep, Six Characters In Search Of An Author, Henry The IV by Luigi Pirandello, harmonies and reverberations, what is reality, narration, so many voices, you’re everybody, Geoffrey Holder (Baron Samedi), a deep deep voice, Live And Let Die, The Serpent And The Rainbow, voicing the main character, a mature me and a younger me, buy the book it deserves more listeners, especially neglected, food for thought, a thinking book, a popcorn book with a different premise, Dark Inspiration, Dark Vengeance, rural horror, Wayne June, Audio Realms picks great narrators.

Dreamwalker by Russell James

Dreamwalker by Russell James - illustrated by Jesse Willis

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #347 – READALONG: The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

December 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #347 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1962, Jesse and Paul’s first ever Philip K. Dick novel, rush reading, Juliana Frink, the book within the book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, The Book Of Changes, the book that we are within, more like something Olaf Stapledon would write, future histories vs. alternate histories, what the Japanese and Nazis have done, For Want Of A Nail by Robert Sobel, Mexico, a very odd strange alternate history, a textbook from an alternate world, acharacteristic Dick, The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, jewelry, taken from his life, Anne Dick, a soul wrenching scene, soul churning horrific embarrassing, working retail, R. Childan is horrible, he’s a monster, the least Philip K. Dick book, not a lot of boobs (but still some), not that much coffee, why this book is so powerful, we are so close to the characters souls, sympathy, who is the main character of this book?, Juliana, R. Childan, Mr. Baynes, Frank, Mr. Tagomi, so little interaction between the characters, we don’t know it is Frank, a clever move, everybody is fake, R. Childan is not Robert Childan, he speech pattern and thought pattern are Japanese, a lack of pronouns, Dick is a chameleon, Paul and Betty, the authentic American experience, soaking up, that’s not their names, Paul and Betty Kasura are more American than the American, Juliana is a fake judo instructor, she uses a knife, Hawthorne Abendsen, we know where he lives, Hawthorne Abendsen is Robert A. Heinlein for Dick (and Dick himself), children, Heinlein’s house in Colorado, Heinlein had loaned Dick money, Dick owed money to the IRS, We Can Build You, “To Robert and Ginny Heinlein…”, Wyoming, Dick is buried in Colorado, Fort Morgan, Colorado, Riverside Cemetery, damn, Dick’s sister, mom and dad, D.C., agrarian agronomy?, California, the dedication, “To my wife Anne, without whose silence…”, the jewelry business, getting excited, a bit sulky and a little bitter, a line from Childan’s mind, this sounds like its true,

They’re out of their minds, Childan said to himself. Example: they won’t help a hurt man up from the gutter due to the obligation it imposes. What do you call that? I say that’s typical; just what you’d expect from a race that when told to duplicate a British destroyer managed even to copy the patches on the boiler as well as—

the stamp on the boiler “Made in Aberdeen” or whatever, is this a true fact?, the objects, the pistol, Ed and Frank, the fake pistols are real pistols, the two lighters, Roosevelt’s lighter, historicity, historically interesting, the provenance, superstition of historicity, the real McCoy, you feel it, if Mr. Tagomi’s civil war era replica revolver can do the job…, Dick’s theme for the whole book, the theme that he’s always engaging, this stuff, actual facts of history, these events happened, the answer in this particular case…, historific truth, afraid to ask the question, this truth about the world, strangely meta-fictional, Tagomi escapes the meta-fictional world, a true and genuine object, the real state of affairs, cars and the freeway, our world is a nightmare, a depressing two world Cold War between the U.S. and England, C.M. Kornbluth’s Two Dooms, set in the 1940s, a future where the U.S. has lost the war, an alternate broken U.S., captured by the Germans, secret Jewish magical power, the world if we don’t is too terrible to contemplate, a repeated scene (or feeling), Mr. Baynes on the rocket, from Europe to San Fransisco, Lotze,”Oh, yes; that’s so. But racially, you’re quite close. For all intents and purposes the same.”

Lotze began to stir around in his seat, getting ready to unfasten the elaborate belts.

Am I racially kin to this man? Baynes wondered. So closely so that for all intents and purposes it is the same? Then it is in me, too, the psychotic streak. A psychotic world we live in. The madmen are in power. How long have we known this? Faced this? And-how many of us do know it? Not Lotze. Perhaps if you know you are insane then you are not insane. Or you are becoming sane, finally. Waking up. I suppose only a few are aware of all this. Isolated persons here and there. But the broad masses… what do they think? All these hundreds of thousands in this city, here. Do they imagine that they live in a sane world? Or do they guess, glimpse, the truth… ?

But, he thought, what does it mean, insane ? A legal definition. What do I mean? I feel it, see it, but what is it?

He thought, It is something they do, something they are. It is-their unconsciousness. Their lack of knowledge about others. Their not being aware of what they do to others, the destruction they have caused and are causing. No, he thought. That isn’t it, I don’t know; I sense it, intuit it. But-they are purposely cruel … is that it? No. God, he thought. I can’t find it, make it clear. Do they ignore parts of reality? Yes. But it is more. It is their plans. Yes, their plans. The conquering of the planets. Something frenzied and demented, as was their conquering of Africa, and before that, Europe and Asia.

Their view; it is cosmic. Not of a man here, a child there, but air abstraction: race, land. Volk. Land. Blut. Ehre. Not of honorable men but of Ehre itself, honor; the abstract is real, the actual is invisible to them. Die G?e , but not good men, this good man. It is their sense of space and time. They see through the here, the now, into the vast black deep beyond, the unchanging. And that is fatal to life. Because eventually there will be no life; there was once only the dust particles in space, the hot hydrogen gases, nothing more, and it will come again. This is an interval, ein Augenblick . The cosmic process is hurrying on, crushing life back into the granite and methane; the wheel turns for all life. It is all temporary. And they-these madmen-respond to the granite, the dust, the longing of the inanimate; they want to aid Natur.

he is a fucking Nazi!, at this point in the book…, he says he’s Jewish, is he Jewish?, a character is introduced.. the become who they really are, Joe Cinadella is an Italian who becomes an SS Aryan assassin, he’s becoming something, his genuine self, he’s actually an Italian who changes into a Nazi, transformation not revelation, Joe tells us about his family, what kind of music he like, an elaborate provenance?, Jesse thinks that Dick didn’t know who Joe was when he began writing, he became what he was in the book and world, Mr. Baynes is transformed, they actually are that way as well, the playing out of reality is undetermined, particle-wave duality, a “waveicle”, when you measure him a certain way, the truth is “revealed” collapsing the wavefront, observation determines the reality, the characters are in superposition state until Dick cast the yarrow stalks, when the world does it, Baynes is a Swede and a Jew and a Nazi, his elaborate cover, all of the characters are like that, Abendsen deflects, “I just murdered a man for you”, it happened to Heinlein, he’s almost inviting it, everybody knows his address, why does the SS send a Nazi hitman to kill this guy?, that’s not how they work, why is he telling Mr. Tagomi?, a stalking horse, Tagomi is a chess pawn, the most humane person, when Tagomi defies the German ambassador, the guy he frees is the guy who created the object, karmic circularity, changing as they are perceived, Nazism factionalized, a lot of technical terms, Dick did a lot of reading, the Abwehr, the SD, layers of terminology, Reinhard Heydrich, basically Hitler did a shitty job, draining the Mediterranean, skulls for cups, a sequel would have to be set in the Nazi part of things, sensitive and sympathetic, Speer, “yes he did slave labor, but he didn’t enjoy it.”, the two completed chapters of the proposed sequel, Herman Goering, Admiral Canaris, that sounds like a Dick novel (and a role playing game), GURPS Infinite Worlds, spreading Nazism to other worlds, staying in the heads of all these Nazis all the time, Heydrich sent Joe, Lotze is also an SD agent, everything is fake with a secret inside, internecine-Nazi?, the pilot for the Amazon series, it almost has no connection to the book, it’s about that piece of jewelry, it’s not a book it’s a movie, for the TV series, Paul’s guess… Abendsen has a portal to our world, sign Paul up, a little bit too fluffy and light, the Minority Report TV show is a trainwreck, you can’t really adapt this book, in development for a long time, Ridley Scott, a late-70s I, Claudius version shot on videotape, as soon as you start looking at what this book is actually about…, the American antiques thing is missing, Philip K. Dick reviewing his own novel, like a pair of glasses, what the book does to us, Paul’s speech about the pin, seeing into Childan’s head, they all laughed, this crappy play, what a monster you are, he’s been made a fool, false hopes dashed, Jesse replaces the words “pin or object” with “fiction or novel” and thus find’s Dick’s review of The Man In The High Castle within The Man In The High Castle, mere content deprived of form, it somehow partakes of tao, this novel has made its peace with the universe, this book has wu, by contemplating it we gain more wu ourselves, since we last about PKD, stones rejected by the builder, a rusty beer can by the side of the road, I have pondered this novel unceasingly, isn’t that exactly what he’s doing here?, it doesn’t have form, so true, Jesse thinks Dick was wrong, Dick almost never did anything like a sequel, think about how Hawthorne Abensen, this is Dick’s first real success, “give us more of the same” (the book industry as we know it), “I’m not sad”, The Ganymede Takeover by Philip K. Dick and Ray Faraday Nelson, formless and amorphous, this plotting gels so well, the I, Ching helped him, A Scanner Darkly, taken from life, a writer who is pretending to be a criminal, an organic shape, “what’s really going on here?”, she’s saying it right here, when Joe comes back with that haircut, at the heart of this novel, the two real action scenes, when Juliana is with Joe, he is sane and she is the opposite, she goes into the bathroom to kill herself, casting those yarrow stalks, Juliana’s last decision she makes, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy Ecclesiastes 12:5, “and the grasshopper shall be a burden”, a tiny little thing will have a great weight, the title of the book itself, why is the book called “The Man In The High Castle”?, the end of Farnham’s Freehold, “barbed wire and machine guns”, a meditative smile, he’s lying, he’s going to sit down when he meets Christ, it sounds like Heinlein, Juliana is literal minded and can’t understand Abensen’s jokes, are her boobs real?, she’s in post traumatic shock, the hymn,

Let us love our God supremely,
Let us love each other too;
Let us love and pray for sinners,
Till our God makes all things new
Then he’ll call us home to heaven,
At his table we’ll sit down.
Christ will gird himself and serve us
With sweet manna all around.

they never lived in a high castle, Abensen is fated to what will happen, this happened to Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, Popular Mechanics showed Heinlein’s house, a kid’s bicycle in the driveway, Dick gave Heinlein a kid, Heinlein tried to treat everyone with respect, for Heinlein every race is worthy, weird ideas about sex and gender, an equal rights for all races, equal dignity, the Vietnam War, when hippies start showing up on his door, just like when Juliana shows up, when Juliana calls, they don’t call the police and kick her out, pilgrims to Dick’s house, “he wants me to go to his house and say hi”, before you do that…, just to stand there and feel the historicity, where he came to rest, the final gloss, a fake high castle, the high castle is the skull, who is the man in the high castle?, the mind trapped within the skull looking out, Dick was never satisfied, zoology and philosophy, Plato’s Myth of the Cave, chained to the floor since birth, behind them are people carrying various objects on their heads and walking by, and behind them are fires, the believe the shadows on the wall are the real world, if one should manage to escape…, they wouldn’t believe, Juliana says I’m one of the few, Baynes says it too, what’s the TRUTH about this world, in fact it’s only me when writing this book, unlike Lovecraft or Poe, the intertextual thing going on, written by Heinlein or Pohl (or Kornbluth), peak performance of this particular feeling, this is the PKD book you can hand to anybody who has read a little bit of history, as the facts unfold, even that reality is fake, the George Guidall narration, the little prologue, that recording is from 1997, audiobooks at that time, the traditional market (for audiobooks) was the blind, a standard trope that has disappeared now, the back of the dust-jacket, a singular mark of American literature, an amazing book, re-reading it, so many layers, we’re done.

The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #334 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #334 – The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Pioneer, March 1843, a Hawthorne Poe fest, contemporaries, The Scarlet Letter, a quote by Poe about Hawthorne, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, well known?, why this story Fred?, he’s obsessed with sin, sociopaths, trigger warnings, neurosis, shame, luck, shaped by sin, a mark upon the family, subconscious Freudian messages, Commentary Magazine, Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature by Gary Saul Morson, textual density, vocab, Lovecraft poems, Fungi From Yuggoth poems, harbours, kids are now shuttled between school the home and the mall, ranting against Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, revolutions in 20th century literature, Ernest Hemingway, the show don’t tell revolution, Hawthorne is the telling-est teller who ever telled, the right attitude toward sin, the two facedness of people, Hawthorne is attacking late stage decadent Puritanism, a homosexual vibe, what is the lesson?, science reaches too far?, Gothic horror, the evil wizard or the mad scientist, science as the channel to unlimited power, elixirs, potions, not even futuristic, Georgiana, Aminadab?, where is this story set?, Aylmer’s castle, Aylmer’s wealth, a compartmentalized life, from the third person POV, the host narration, obsession, the left side, the sinister side, she’s been marked, in the dream, chemical means, pre-Darwin, “I’ve got these old books”, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a natural philosopher, science vs. alchemy vs. magic, Isaac Newton, almost as if he was Ben Franklin, electricity, many suitors, Aylmer’s wooing, is Aylmer gaslighting Georgiana?, she’s reading, a Medieval heroine, a character of of Greek mythology, is a sex-change story?, is this a boob-job story?, envy, the tips of two small fingers, she’s compared to a marble statue, small pox scars, Marilyn Monroe‘s beauty mark, does positioning matter?, Supernatural Horror And Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, a meditation on obsession, many uninteresting analysis, so little action, beyond the sexual interpretation, Hawthorne doesn’t seem all that prudish, how far can you go in purist of perfection in a fallen world, a mark of original sin, wanting knowledge (of good and evil?), the sin of disobedience, Frankenstein and Aylmer are reading the same books, the process of creating a man in Frankenstein, the lightning bolt, Luigi Galvani, grave-robbing, Paracelsus, the gold thing is your way of getting funding, when writing a grant…, this might lead to a cure for cancer(!), alchemy as a religion, The Cask Of Amontillado, Eric S. Rabkin, “the niter, it grows”, Montresor or Fortunato, niter, growing human shaped things inside of bottles, poisons, psychology and the occult, the difference between alchemy and science is openness, the Royal Society, Harry Potter’s school, there have to be muggles, magically oblivious, J.K. Rowling, natural greed, the ethic of sharing knowledge, France’s version of the Royal Society, like the obsession with “open source” or the “public domain”, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, sooo lifelike, sooo beautifully painted, Gothic horror, the evil mad scientist is destroyed by the power he unleashes, The Portrait Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the ending, what is Hawthorne saying?, was Aylmer’s attempt doomed from the beginning?, Jesse’s mom, one of the most important powers of a teacher, she has “THE VOICE”, Muad’dib (Paul Atredies), Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, a profound revelation, philosophy and critical thinking, vitamins are bullshit, fish oil woke Fred’s brain, North America has the world’s most expensive urine, religion wants you to take it on authority, bronze age holy texts, religion as book club where you only ever read one book (or just listen to a guy who did), cynicism or wisdom, loyalty to the organized religion of your family, inherited religions, fundamentalist belief systems, the narcissism of small differences, splintering, revolting revolutionaries, purity of doctrine, young earth creationists, Catholicism as an almost ethnicity (an identity), Hawthorne as a stopgap between H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley, the murky origins of Science Fiction, Dante, Lucifer frozen in the ice, a Gothic ghost story, Frankenstein’s obsession is with defeating death, too in love with science, Hawthorne’s message is like: “don’t drink too much”, Greek symposia, what really happened at a Greek symposium, “write drunk and edit sober”, The Odyssey, mixing water with wine, getting plastered is a sign on unmanning, the Greek obsession was with finding the moderation between too little and too much, what was Hephzibah’s sin?, her sin is being too worried about sin, “you will eat blood”, public shaming is a little much, be moderate with your casting of sin, John Wesley, a healthy functioning society, wealth corruption, falling into decadence, the protestant work ethic is kicking-in, Guggenheim, ransoming the grandchild, leaving it all to art, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Fred’s all time favourite Science Fiction novel: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, how do we raise the next generation?, a supercharged Kindle, matter compilers, Star Trek‘s replicator, eating green sludge, window panes made out of pure diamond, handmade hipsters, how you raise the next generation in a wealthy society, we are unimaginably wealthy, are Japan’s young people uninterested in sex?, Richard Dawkins on Twitter, The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, Gothic-y, Science-y, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, a great inventor, Neoterics, he’s stealing their ideas, the ultimate mad scientist story, following in the tradition, somatoypes, ectomorph (Aylmer), mesomorph (Aminidab), endomorph (Jesse), it’s a scam!, Hillary Clinton, the Ronald Reagans of the world, this is astrology, people think that once you’ve got a word for something you understand it, wearing the mask long enough…, IQ tests, quantification, any time we think we understand the most complex thing in the universe…, there really is a subconscious, tweeting dreams, psychology, the book club with only one book in it, The Great Courses (The Teaching Company), Eric S. Rabkin, survey courses, kooky specializations, the best way to learn, the perennial student, taught not to learn, philosophy of art, credentialism, Jesse can guess the exact words in a student’s vocabulary, guess your weight or age, how Jesse gets work, gaming credentialism, no high school diploma, a contempt for institutionalized learning, a play-by-the-rules personality, grade inflation, what did Mussolini do?, intimidation vs. cultivation, give the students the experience of reading, reading as a meeting of minds, defending a dissertation, essays, we’re obsessed with essays (for the wrong reason), ohhh spoilers!, the big problem with almost any media, “I don’t want to spoil it for you.”, testing is easier, a kind of objectivity, don’t blame the actors for shitty Hollywood movies, status is society, education as the cultivation of minds, there aren’t enough people who are willing to rebel!

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - modified John Collier's "Laboratory", 1895

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - illustration by Lisa K. Weber

Posted by Jesse Willis

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