The SFFaudio Podcast #327 – The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse Willis, Seth Wilson, Jim Moon, and Juan Luis Pérez.
Talked about in this episode:
Title has a hyphen; published in Weird Tales in June 1926, but written for a St. Patrick’s Day event; most critics dismiss the story; most characters are nameless; no Cthulhu mythos; Greek ties to Lovecraft’s The Tree; H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast; thematic similarities to The Rats in the Walls and Hypnos; conflict between the bog goddess and her servants; frogs; moonbeams; Greek Pan pipes, not Celtic pipes; on the story’s un-Irishness; competing models of colonization; Protestant work ethic; Pied Piper of Hamelin; surviving narrator motif similar to Ishmael in Moby Dick; departure from the traditional Lovecraftian narrator; the poetry of Lovecraft’s prose, alliteration, etc.; Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature; spoiler in Weird Tales art; the joys of reading aloud; Lovecraft’s Dunsanian story The Festival; architecture; Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and the gothic symbolism of bogs, etc.; Lovecraft’s descriptionn of cities in The Mountains of Madness and landscapes in The Dunwich Horror; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and similar impressionism in film; The Quest of Iranon; unreliable narrators à la Edgar Allan Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher; laughing; bog draining and the curse of the Tiddy Mun; the city of Bath and the intersection of Roman and Celtic cultures; John Buchan’s The Grove of Ashtaroth; this is actually a happy Lovecraft story!; Robin Hood and the defense of the land; humans destroy megafauna; Lovecraft’s The Hound; American horror trope of the Indian burial ground; the lack of Celtic mythology; will-o’-the-wisps; how does one drain a bog? Ask the Dutch; disappointment in scientific explanation for stories; the ruins and the Gothic tradition.
The SFFaudio Podcast #288 – Jesse and Mr Jim Moon talk about The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson.
Talked about on today’s show:
1912, The House On The Borderland, a great flawed masterwork, Panther UK, The Ghost Pirates, Carnacki, “you could club a night hound to death with it!”, why you shouldn’t skip the first chapter (or why you should), what’s missing: hey we found this document, the unnamed protagonist(s), a handwritten font, a seventeenth century that never was, the style and the tics, giant paragraphs starting with “and” “yet” “now”, no dialogue at all, the Lady Mirdath, a deliberately clumsy journal, a found footage book, a book to savour, Scott Danielson, mostly kissing, a little spanking, washing and kissing feet, playing the coquette, the Ballantine publication with the Lin Carter introduction, why is Hodgson such a romantic in this book?, Sam Gafford, writing order vs. publication order, The Night Land as the work of a young adolescent man, getting into the rhythm of the language, the Pyramid of the Lesser Redoubt, the 80% mark, the black river, a morass of romance, gender politics, horror?, Lovecraftian horrors in the background, fantasy, adolescent fantasy, a mother and a damsel, fight monsters and capture the princess, honoured as a hero, a classic adventure story, the landscape itself, how does the ecology work?, no sun and no moon, an utterly far future, it retains its plausibility, a new dark age of science and sorcery, a scientifically minded man, a 17th century man, the “earth current”, geothermal energy, when the earth was struck by a comet, pierced to the mantle, the oceans drained away, a dying earth, flying machines, The Night Land is future-proofed, the Earth is tidally locked, Lord Kelvin’s estimate, trees? trees?, the Moon is gone, the stars are gone, an underground world, the other stars have also burned out, billion year old petrified trees?, mega-fauna, at the ocean’s bottom there are lots of predators, moss bushes, living on the little light of the lava pits, the Country Of Seas, the Black River, moss trees?, spiders, scorpions, snakes, the four armed men, the humped men, the great men, monstrous mutations, the Night Hounds and the Watchers are unclean things intruding into our world, damaging the fabric of reality, abhumans, neither animal nor supernatural, Outside forces, the Watchers, converging on the Great Redoubt, you don’t see anything as menacingly powerful even in Mordor, subsisting on isotopes, giant eidolons or avatars of outside forces, pawns of the power of evil shaped out of the landscape itself, the Listening Ear, slow but intelligent, the Thing That Nods, the Earth will be destroyed (in so many ways), WWI, mutating away, all these threats to humanity are symbolized, aeons of encroachment, the Watcher Of The South, the Watcher Of The North-East, the light in the eye, “the essential doubt that is part of myth and legend”, cast iron mythology, the joys of The Night Land, the last of humanity in one building, it won’t belong before humanity degenerates, the grey metal armor, the diskos, a spinning metal weapon wouldn’t work, “don’t hold it that way”, whipping, immature attitudes, whose wearing what, “you’re not eating you pills!”, something real and human, a youth of 17, beneath the constant kissing, the audiobook version, an epic of two characters, the Master Monstruwacans keeping the telescopes warm, the top of the pyramid, the farmers (as usual) are at the bottom of the social pyramid, deep into the Earth, the first proper dying earth, a sequel to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, a fannish projection, Darkness by Lord Byron, the journey to the far future, the journey through Mordor, C.S. Lewis read The Night Land, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Inklings, Sam Gafford’s hypothesis, the first fully fledged dying earth story, Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique, Jack Vance, a love across time, the dog and the sister, human emotion played out across a backdrop, the last reel of 2001: A Space Odyssey, deep future, TheNightLand.co.uk, why you should read chapter one, they always meet at night, attacked by footpads, boar hounds, pigs, she dies in childbirth, then the crazy stuff happens, it was all mistake and they lived happily ever after, the framing sequence in The House On The Borderland, a journal of actual life and a journal of a future incarnation, “she called me by my pet name”, “I called her Mirdath”, the product of a nervous breakdown, a manic wish-fulfillment, the focus is not on the 17th century writer, deep into the night, the names, powdered food and powdered water, telepathy, mind elements, the night hearing, awesomely hilarious and completely wrong, “the master word”, an authentication against false messages, public key cryptography, discos?, a 17th century man who somehow got a hold of the projector and some reels of Tron (1982), the plot of Tron, an avatar of everyone he knows is in there, The Lego Movie (2014) has the same plot, Small Town by Philip K. Dick, some crazy futurist, Frank Tippler, reincarnated in a computer program, a dreamland, the hypnagogic land, a novel theory, Hodgson is such a good writer that we are doing most of the work, the greater and the lesser, the reflections, what’s going on in the House Of Silence?, why is the nodder nodding?, the road where the silent ones walk, the country from where comes laughter, monstrous black slug creatures, wilderness hazards, capital “E” evil, “Ah, last of humanity.” [licks lips], is the House of Silence the House on the Borderland?, the arena, Hodgson is an amazing power of a writer, retelling of The Night Land, stories set in The Night Land, he has the power of H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, because Lovecraft liked them, the unrecognized part of Lovecraft’s legacy is that he was a fan, oh the really long difficult one, you need to be a mature and patient reader, The Dream Of X, The Shadow Out Of Time, a mind swap through time, Lovecraft was fundamentally uninterested in making money, somebody’s pet project, an artwork, will this be popular?, I wanna make some money, the Carnacki stories were commercial, prog-rock, a concept album, self-indulgent doesn’t necessarily mean bad, “what I really need is a 500 page novel written in 17th century language”, written for his own edification and amusement, nautical fiction, The Boats Of Glen Carrig, The Voice In The Night, horrible and romantic, an infection story, body horror, The Night Boat?, “I just found this it was in an old trunk”, “outshone by the Wellses, Doyles, and Ashton Smiths”, there’s something to this idea, John C. Wright, Greg Bear, screen adaptations, The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, The Night Land is ideal for film script, giant slug battles, A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs has the same plot, he out-Howards Robert E. Howard, the nobility of masculinity, a male archetype, physical culture, body building, William Hope Hodgson was a hottie, a Hodgson bio-pic would be a winner.
The SFFaudio Podcast #281 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander discuss Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
Talked about on today’s show:
1968, science fiction by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner, abridged version, audiobook, repetition of theme, an introductory novel to Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, jam packed with action, one long day, the fake police station, a classic Dick move, how many androids are there in this book?, movies, androids, legitimate slavery, Luba, minority, androids v. slaves, reality of humans, psychological tests, visuals, dialogic science fiction, Wilder Penfield, The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton, mood organ, existential humor, satire, artificial, unbelievable world, endless competition, goat glands, Sydney’s Catalog, the BBC Radio 4 audio drama by Jonathan Holloway & Kerry Shale, parallel characters, undercut truth, an animal theme, religious allusions, Mercer, Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan), lurker, detective story, lack of world descriptions, less striking scenes in the movie, Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, tomb world, fraud corpses, Mercer v. Jesus, lack of introduction in the movie, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the maker, hope of freedom, androids as fiends, humans yet not humans, what is the definition of human?, the question, the title, empathy to androids, Deckard’s predictions, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, predestination, fake things, simulacra, electrically modified ecology, emotional drug, consumerism, The Days of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the vale of reality, the cuckoo clock in Blade Runner, layered symbols, visualizing future technologies, Kayla Williams, unobvious connections, paranoia, suspicion of government, The Exit Door Leads In by Philip K. Dick, unimportance of religious reality, environmental awareness, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, dehumanization in war, androids = inverted human, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, television, The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, podcasting, Metropolis (Fritz Lang), Max Headroom, “Five Minutes Into the Future”, The Red Room by H.P. Lovecraft, haunted media.
The SFFaudio Podcast #228 – Jesse and Jenny talk about the Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon.
Talked about on today’s show:
the near and far future, not a novel, an imagined planetary history, the scope, Penguin Books, philosophy, the introduction, The Iron Heel by Jack London, a future history, human civilizations, two thousand million years (two billion years), universes => galaxy, man is a small part of the universe, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, Doctor Who, 2001: A Space Odyssey, what the plot would look like if there was one, the eighteen periods of man, evolution and construction, it’s set in 1930, is there ever an end to humanity?, Last Men In London by Olaf Stapledon, Last And First Men was popular in its day, Stapledon served in the ambulance service in WWI, plotlessness, period themes, the flying theme, the depletion of fossil fuels, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Venus, Mars, Neptune, the Martians, the Venusians, the genocide on Venus, Luke Burrage (the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast), racism, a Science Fiction mythology, the poetic musical ending, deep time, to the end of the Earth and beyond, Stapledon as an historian, civilizations always fall, there’s no one thing that ends civilizations, humanity as a symphony, the returns to savagery, establishing the pattern, Arthur C. Clarke, The House On The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson, The Night Lands, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft and cosmicism, the Wikipedia entry for Last And First Men, Fritz Leiber, Forrest Ackerman, scientificion, matchless poignancy, S. Fowler Wright, Lovecraft’s love of the stars (astronomy), one of the species of man is a monkey, another a rabbit, no jokes but perhaps humour, a cosmic joke, monkeys have made human their slaves, Planet Of The Apes, an ability to hear at the subatomic level, intelligence, a fourteen foot brain supported by ferroconcrete, obsession with gold, obsession with diamonds, pulping people, it’s written like a history textbook or essays, the Patagonia explosion, the upstart volcanoes, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, chiseling knowledge into granite, Olaf loved coming up with different sexual relationships, the 20 year pregnancy, suicide, euthanasia, an unparalleled imagination, groupthink, telepathy, oversimplification, we must press on, the baboon-like submen, the seal-like Submen, the divergence of man into other ecological niches, the number of ants in New York, ecosystems, nuclear weapons, robots are missing, where is the robot man?, the over-emphasis on fossil fuels as the only source of energy, if you could see us now, post-humans, ultimately a love letter to humanity, not aww but awwww!, Starmaker as a masterpiece, Sirius, uplifting a dog, a fantasy of love and discord, dog existentialism, who am I and where is my bone?, Olaf Stapledon in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, influential vs. famous, a very different read.
Talked about on today’s show: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, New York City, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the best post-apocalyptic novel, a lost classic, a calm method of exposition, a student of history, Isherwood Williams, very vivid and deeply imagined, how do you define Science Fiction?, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, philosophical nuts and bolts, the central crisis is left unexplained, the science in Earth Abides, “I understand people better after reading this book”, breeding cycles, Hard Biological Science Fiction, the disappearance of lice, overpopulation of the Earth, is it the author speaking or is it the main character?, ecology, there was no will to power, only a will to live, Baruch Spinoza, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, I can’t believe how long it took the guy to get to the library!, “how to render game”, “there’s lots of library love in this book”, “we’re not going to be the people that we were”, “the characters had to be ignorant out of laziness”, 1947, going to university, mediocrity is well loved, “why is dumb so cool?”, only people who are intelligent enough to ask the question…, does genius beget genius?, is intelligence particularly related to genetics?, nature/nurture, eugenics, is intelligence a particular interest rather than something in the brain?, superior interest vs. superior brainpower, Evie, finding the test, the IQ test, the observer’s position in the universe, “do you think what the government did to Alan Turing was wrong?”, the Apple logo inspired by Alan Turning’s suicide?, snopes.com, I knew I wanted to be friends with Gregg Margarite, LibriVox.org, the San Fransisco tribe, you cannot spoil this book, WWII, cargo cults, “would you ever be a member of a cargo cult?”, Montezuma and Quetzalcoatl, The Gods Must Be Crazy, religion, superstition, pinch your God, if God lived on earth people would break his windows, tribal sociological phenomena, the role of chiefs, the most interesting book about pinching I’ve ever read, “heartwarming pinching”, reading, despondence and acceptance, what does it really matter if humanity is dead?, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, intellectual arguments vs. emotional arguments, it’s very rare to be emotionally affected (to tears) by a book, narrator Jonathan Davis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, one of the best narrations that I’ve heard, Mike Resnick‘s Starship series, Star Wars, Connie Willis‘ introduction to Earth Abides, Deep Six by Jack McDevitt, “always skip over the introduction”, where does Isherwood’s name come from?, forgetting your own name, the character of Jack, I don’t read for characters, Isherwood thinks he’s an intellectual, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, “I would have taken out Electromechanical Engineering“, Emm and Ezra, Charlie, George (the carpenter/plumber), “even his dog (Princess)”, a friend’s quiz, people are not just what they know or what they read, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, “society is all the different bits and humanity is all the different bits”, adopting leaves as a currency, maybe the whole of Douglas Adams should be treated like a religious text, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a book about itself, Doctor Who, the dish of the day, other themes in Earth Abides, racism in Lucifer’s Hammer, what race is Emma?, does it matter?, the last American, people who are racist are people talk about race, race is a sociological idea, race is something – but it is not science, “I don’t live the history”, “they need to have somebody who are below them on the ladder”, Fox News, ideological reasons for watching TV, Glenn Beck is Mormon, Mormons believe that the Constitution of the United States was “divinely inspired”, his country is part of his ideology, the reason Orson Scott Card hates gays is because of his belief system, newspapers still have an Astrology section, there is no hegemony in Earth Abides, individuals interacting with one another, “people abide”, are you born of another?, matriarchy vs. patriarchy, “Is it a talisman? a totem? It’s single jack!”, “the power to destroy and drive in a nail”, a genius accident, the word “jack” means “doer”, Jack Bauer, semiotics, Jesus freaks vs. religious freaks, separating the voice of the author from the voice of the main character, The Last Man On Earth, The Last Man On Earth Blog, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Life After People, George R. Stewart wrote a biography of Bret Harte, Harte is far more complex than Louis L’Amour, Oakland, Mark Twain, recording for LibriVox.org, 2BOR02B by Kurt Vonnegut, we all know that Science Fiction has been carrying this burden, iambik audio, recording a 600 page book on the road, $1000 microphone, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, The Ego Machine by Henry Kuttner, the Del Rey “best of” books, The Best Of Jack Williamson, Frederick Pohl, Luke rates Earth Abides 4.5 out of 5 stars, “it’s good because it’s not very good in this way”, did it achieve what it set out to accomplish, The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, we are thoroughly impressed, Earth Abides is 13 CDs 15 Hours, time passing, the loss of reading, is literacy in and of itself a good?, giving the book away, separating technique from practical skills, bull dodging, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green, get Charlton Heston out of your head but keep Edward G. Robinson, The Omega Man, potential upcoming SFFaudio Readalongs, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle, Do Andoids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Valis, The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer and The Divine Invasion, Leo Tolstoy, the philosophy of art, “the only true art is folk art”, art is an abbreviation of the word artifact, a nuclear bomb is art to me, labor intensive art, venus figures, craft vs. art, I don’t think art has a place in this book?, I’m pretty sure something is going on about art in this book, I see similarities between petroglyphs and Pollock, maybe I was wrong, are we post structuralist, Duchamp, Aristotle’s Poetics, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, David Lynch’s Dune, Laurel and Hardy, Gilligan and the Skipper, Akira Kurosawa, George R. Stewart basically invented the disaster novel, Ordeal By Hunger by George R. Stewart (available from Blackstone Audio).
The Year Of The Flood
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall
11 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 22, 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Disaster / Environmentalism / Environmental Disaster / Ecology / Planetary Ecology / Religion / Genetic Engineering / Sex / Activism / Genetics /
The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year Of The Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.
Margaret Atwood’s book The Year Of The Flood spans several years, before, after and during the waterless flood which is a plague that affects only humans. There are three readers, Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall. Throughout the eleven discs (14 hours), I enjoyed listening to the women, and began to dread the onset of the male reader. He was certainly professional. Was it his character, Adam One, a religious cult leader of God’s Gardeners? Was it the inevitable sermon he would read in a church-appropriate voice? Or was it the hymns, written by Atwood and set to “original” music that would have me engaging in positive procrastination in order to avoid finishing this audiobook.
The loveliest parts of the book take place from the point of view of Ren, a child in God’s Garden. The religion is a logical outcome for a near future on Earth following environmental disasters not too difficult to imagine. Technologies we toy with today lead to some A Clockwork Orange style vocabulary. Words such as “garboil” (a kind of petroleum made from trash) lend a frighteningly vital immersion into this eco-nightmare. Other wonderful vocabulary delights come through the genetic alterations of food and creature such as soydines and bugs with little smiley faces engineered thereon so thoughts of squishing them would be repugnant. The Gardeners have a host of saints to celebrate, showing Atwood’s ability to relate some important environmentalists and peaceniks to her tale including Saint Rachel Carson, Saint David Suzuki and Saint Mahatma Gandhi.
The main female characters, Ren and Toby, both fully developed, are compelling. Throughout the story, one is interested in them as human beings, in their suffering, in their losses, in their desires. Despite the time shifts, the readers manage to keep the characters believable; one is lost in the story (as one should be!) until the final disc. Maybe Atwood can’t write optimistic endings. With all the violence, sadistic sex and death in the world of the Gardeners who are staunch vegetarians who don’t even kill the insects that invade their gardens; with spray guns, layabout body parts and a world of human-pig hybrids conducting funerals, the last disc felt wrong. Ren’s character becomes childish. Toby becomes a murderous cold-blooded killer and then suddenly has another personality shift. The only character to remain true is the one-dimensional ADAM ONE. I was strung along on the brilliant imagination, left flat on story line, and confused in the end by the characters I thought I liked.
Am I waiting for that third expected book in a TRILOGY featuring some of these characters? My interest in Atwood’s “exfernal” world is now lukewarm.