Reading, Short And Deep #399
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Ulalume by Edgar Allan Poe
Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.
Ulalume was first published in the American Review, December 1847
Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Terence Blake discuss The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff
Talked about on today’s show:
Nice, France, 1939, The Cataclysm, Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder, Manuscript Found In A Bottle, Manuscript Found In A Fortune Cookie, The Little Red Bag, 10 years later, old science fiction magazine, I got one too, the genre conversation, The Cold Equations, Null-A, A. E. van Vogt, Null-B, Null-F, ripostes, William Tenn, decades later, two kinds of science fiction, hard and soft, what would make this hard SF, calculations, what is causing the moon to hit the earth, never explained, magnetic attraction, gravity, totally crazy, a really good book and enjoyable, gold and platinum, a bold claim, petroleum, oil and coal, fossil fuel, non-biological processes, more than one kind of coal, abiogenic oil, something inside the earth we don’t understand, don’t roll your eyes, Paul has a B.A. in biology, Jesse studied geology, Bryan studied literature, filled the ocean with gravel theory, the weather inst very effected, so he doesn’t suffocate, no Atlantic ocean, there’s no stream, merry old England, weather more like Calgary, central Siberia, where is the water gonna be taken up from?, desertification of Britain, the front framing, the Addis Ababa people dismissing this book, corrected grammar, making fun of his own writing, the Roald Dahl “corrections”, Skiffy And Fanty podcast, there was no conclusion, sidetrack, what about George Lucas and Star Wars, is that kosher?, whoever said that is a radical, the right to do so but probably shouldn’t, what they did to Shakespeare, for the sake of the children, the frame is active, poor broody, how cozy it is, movie script writer, if not in a time machine, The Dam Busters (1955), The Night My Number Came Up (1955), a flight from Hong Kong to Japan, some Wing Commander had a dream, Liberator vs. Dakota, a snowy coast of Japan near a lighthouse, Okinawa, a fantasy in a sense of the dream element, based on a true story, a prophetic dream that came true, WWII, Pat is him, senseless violence, this thing in the moon, upholding the British empire, they’re depending on us, the logic of empire, not a hard economics model, British foodstock, do they starve?, interwar fiction, interesting Janus face, armistice, War Minister, Jaeger, Bismark, no mention of Italian facists, no mention of German, Britain has its own slice, such a good social science fiction book, just imperialism, take this book as a setting, 700 years in the future, museum edition, fun steampunk, untapped resources for science fiction, a computer game with aircraft carrier, FMV cut-scenes, Crimson Skies, airship society, railroad across the moon, the seigniorial system, London townhouses, we’re in railroading time, again, we should shoot our foots off, both of them, fuck ourselves even more, and then everything will be fine, to serve the pride, no good politicians in this book, the prime minster who was good, mutual aid, looses his position, kinda Chamberlainy, we shall avoid award at all costs, Munich by Robert Harris, an interesting spin, a little England play, the narrative arc, more and more convinced, snide and disdainful, such a prat, masterful, he makes us sympathize, he’s above his station, I’m the man who won the chicken contest 17 times, he comes from nobility, retire from being a schoolteacher, telescopy and chickenbreeding, a foresight move, I’m fucked and these kids are gonna need some local neighbour and not so distant government, that’s your best resource?, bummin around london, burning her Vermeers, very bleak, very John Wyndham, very cozy catastrophe, the John Wyndham feel, how this impacted our little community, Invasion (Apple TV series), do not watch Foundation, the camera never pans up, slow, three authors are called out, Rudyard Kipling, good war material, H.G. Wells, the script for The Invisible Man, a different book than what you think it will be, a chicken farmer inordinately proud of himself, maybe gay, bachelor, sexual tension between him and Pat, indignant, he never objects to the uncle thing, strange distance, if it is like any book it is like The War Of The Worlds, so innovative, devastating and overturning, black or grey or brown horde, the colonized come back to colonize, everything rots up there in the rain, a really solid book, Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, The Wind And The Willows, adventures in your backyard, giant ocean liner in his backyard, a very H.G. Wells scene, let’s get ourselves into a war, such a flawed character, very much about government, admiring his government factory built car, they are communists in the most obvious sense, anarchist communists, money is not what motivates people, I need a cow and a bull, the hunting and the housework and the chickens and gardening, Brexit, England standing alone, we don’t need the empire, we don’t need Europe, they’re heroes, we don’t need anybody else, isn’t that the conclusion unless we take the very long view, Eric S. Rabkin, everyone is expelled from London, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden, the Eden complex, London being quashed, Oxford, the end of empire?, the metropol, Britain is diminished, a tangible sign, a retreat from empire, Suez crisis, the empire is finished, countries that get a slice, countries that don’t get a piece, the Soviet Union gets nothing, taking the piss, the bankruptcy of a European centered world, they play no role in the book, the isolationist part, fight among europeans, the rebellion of the colonized peoples, religious, anti-white European lines, Blood And Ruins: The Last Imperial War, 1931-1945 by Richard Overy, WWII as the last colonial war, sought colonial dominions, a very young Ho Chi Minh, Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Michael Moorcock’s Land Leviathan novels, giant super-tank, Farnham’s Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein, a fascinating book, on archive.org, Islamic exploration quest, as from sio many science fiction pulp covers, the monkey book, Planet Of The Apes, the statue of liberty in ruins, what is that statue for?, Washington, D.C., Gustave Dore, a New Zealander visits the ruins of London, The Chrysalids, back to Frankenstein, the Byronic hero, Ruins Of Empires, hordes, that David Sirota movie Don’t Look Up, when Jesse reviewed that movie, “pretty good”, understatement, overstatement, not the greatest thinker ever, the central core of this movie, jockeying at the Moon club, the book proper, losing his money, losing his farm, telegraphed it very well, what is the theme of this book?, pride, excessive pride, almost every level, WWI is because of pride, what if you’re wrong about your level of quality?, who is responsible for WWI?, thrown into a duck pond, playing darts on Sundays, a very very good book, not the exact same tier as The War Of The Worlds, The Poison Belt by Arthur Conan Doyle, Professor Challenger, Brian Blessed, focusing only on Sherlock Holmes, that very stupid man named Conan Doyle is really smart, he made those girls, chemicals that are poisonous to Earth, hard science, social science, later Doyle, melodrama and emotion, Challenger and his wife, a response to it, The Strand, Scoops, super-fun premises, a ton of books like this, Stowaway To Mars by John Wyndham, so cozy, so catastrophe, The Children Of The Damned, Village Of The Damned, the pertwee inspired series, Quatermass And The Pit, Nigel Kneale, in the wreckage of the 20th century, totally off the radar, a prejudice against stories set in a future that never was, immediately destroyed by history, no mention of WWII, not irrelevant, an amazing artifact, an amazing book, why it doesn’t stand shoulder to shoulder, American publishers, we love disasters, two days holiday to the Moon, emerging thing, cozy comfort SF, trying to understand it, it irks, Becky Chambers depresses Bryan, a cup of tea and a quilt, those cat mystery books, The Cat Who…[books], The Cats Who Walks Through Walls, how important tea is, coffee without milk, half the time, egg for tea, grammatical mistake, the university of Afghanistan, the society, the community of earth, another former British colony, Addis Ababa, a complete overturning, archaeologist, this place is uninhabitable, striking a match in the middle of the Sahara, the lack of the moon light ever night, light from that reflection, a pretty solid book, Robert Jackson Bennett, City Of Stairs, humbled, colonial oppressors, an investigator, gods afoot, colonialism and reverse colonialism, a society that’s repressed yours, Salim coming to humble, Selene, the moon is the liberator, Jesse’s on team moon: Smash that earth, the theory of the great replacement, not worth replacing those Brits, uninhabitable wastes of forests and wild dogs, climate change, a human response to a non-human event, climate change is caused by humans, agreeing to the science, giant corporations don’t play a role, layers of cynicism and suspicion, the newspaper account, making that up to calm us down, Bryan’s new book, Universities On Fire, John Hopkins University Press, Tantor Audio, Bryan’s previous book, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, terrible remake, we’ve got this great Philip K. Dick, drill, come back with a can of gasoline, no good comes from people writing shit like that, conflates the issue, the reason this book has a moon crashing is it does something important, The Poison Belt, the introduction to this book, how could the moon actually hit the earth, gravitation aside, Space: 1999, Rocket Ship Galileo, how do you know the back of the moon exists?, a philosophical conversation, not impossible, Martians trying to destroy the Earth, our relationship to the moon and the earth distance, a cloud of interstellar gas, how long would it take?, at what density?, does the calculations, months or years, the Earth’s orbit around the sun, air at sea level, everything would be broken, the status of the moon separating from the earth, the moon is receding, friction of the tides, hopw do you know the moon and the tides are connected?, never mentioned, what is the effect of the tides on the water cycle, wind connected to the sun, the wind is a gas effected by the tides, would the level of oxygen go down in the ocean?, not a hard SF book, the earth’s long term well being, a sharp criticism of humans, heated roosts, raising chicken, light vs. heat, egg production, chickens can be disgusting, he’s done something on your shirt, his love for broody, the love story, the octopus teacher, a scruffy looking cockerel, the only thing available, prideful chicks, an incisive look into a person’s brains, what novels can do, what short stories are for, masterful, so H.G. Wells, hate his characters, silly, wisdom in his dumbness, science fiction as a cozy, do delivery of actual material, reading gothic horror, actual threats and danger, pulling punches, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011), a stray planet collides with the earth, depressed by their lives, the conclusion is based on physics, emotional pain, staying home and not talking about what happens to London, Lovecraftian description of the Moon, he uses the word cozy, the life of uncle Henry and aunt Rose, being older, he chooses chickens, he makes a family, cultivate your garden, Jesse with his podcasts, Terence with his blog, Paul with his photography and reviews and gaming, such a dark book, a horror, his surrogate children, taking pride in your car, she’s a hero, his soul goes off, there is darkness here, 20th century British genre fiction, Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven, what we do when we know we only have the night to live, admire that Niven is a such a misanthrope, makes him incredibly incredibly human, the blinding of the human race, something we’ve been working on in the background, we can do it ourself, genetically augmented plants, hedonism, John Stuart Mill, going to shows, epicurean philosophy, what is missing?, no Bruce Willis going to blow up the moon, there’s no guns, becomes violent, played for laughs, that’s not a real problem, he’s ridiculous, the people in government, if I don’t win this war I might loose my seat as the prime minister, let people know how stupid they are, despite how he’s broken, they know he’s egocentric, don’t let him go, you can’t stop him, you have a choice, Eric S. Rabkin again, he’s probably not coming back, a failure of the oedipal romance, the Eden complex, there’s nothing productive, in the desert countries but not here, Threads (1984), the Hartnell years of Doctor Who, it’s teach people about history, they go to Skaro in the second serial, radiation and mutants, the radiation dial, radiation danger, its invisible, something we did something went wrong, why is my hair falling out, another part of Seveneves, two suggestions, Poison Belt, a mere 3 hours, LibriVox, The Angel Of The Odd by Edgar Allan Poe, one of his funniest, The Gift Of The Magi by O. Henry, makes total sense, Eric’s been married for 55 years, a very very old story, he’s choking up, of course that makes total sense, [Wilfred Owen], a crying ball of tears, revealing of character, a lecture on The War Of The Worlds, ‘she had counted me as I had counted her among the dead’, the Tom Cruise adaptation, this silly man who’s telling us this story, his own position in his limited society, Jean Luc Godard, Schindler’s List (1993), Life Is Beautiful (1997), grievous circumstances, most of their oppressors go on to live regular lives, The Act Of Killing (2012), a documentary, reenact, The Year Of Living Dangerously (1982), how did you do the killings, a repeated theme, Linda Hunt movie and Sigourney Weaver, The Killing Fields (1984), The Lack podcast, Benjamin Studebaker, Nina Power, a generative lack, Compact Magazine, a 15 minute essay, Freudian takes, labour history takes, really interesting, obscure movies, that is the central core message, the babies are missing, the fecundity aspect, because the egg, a personal recommendation, you get half, are these people richer than me?, fairly die hard, make time to listen to their show, fourth or fifth wave podcasting?, Terence’s videos on first paragraphs of philosophy books, Agent Swarm on YouTube, adblockers on everything, the Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, demonetized years ago, the first apocalypse, evil but water, they’ve added context, throwing it up as a podcast, Anchor FM, HYPER-THINKING THE ABSOLUTE, an AI transcription, Terence anti-Roald Dahled himself, floor to ceiling books everywhere, HD 4k, why Stalin was a megachad, young Stalin, would you let this bank robber into your house, profile people by their books, what are they hiding?, what are they doing?, get rid of books, a terrible feeling, phantom limb, limit the number of incoming paperbooks, kindle collection, its pure evil, we really need to focus on the government factory making the cars, Triumph and MG, they’re all government owned, British Leyland, Range Rover, overseas car industry, a planetary economy then, Brexit, the whole thing with Europe, sovereignist at every level, power and money hungry, that’s the way it is, the treatment of science, the treatment of censorship in the newspapers, the media, radio broadcasts, Conrad Black leaves Canada becomes a British Lord by buying a British newspaper, Lord Black of [Crossharbour], you’re a good old boy now, they all play along, Bezos/Musk, the New York Times owners, Jeff Bezos’s middle name, Preston!, call him by his middle, their nasty side, what did I do?, what have I done?, you will not be upset by reading it, worth the length, 11.5 hours, a very solid novel, a repetition of the same thing, people haven’t learned, avoidance behavior, it starts up all over again, you need the long first part of the book, would it be as gripping or meaningful?, back to Don’t Look Up, David Sirota, parallel thinking, following the same colonialist lines, the anti-science, a very Eric idea, born naked into the garden of Eden, a comedy, a serious topic, a parody vs. an indictment, criticism from both ends, it doesn’t nail the idea of a condemnation, people were reading Meryl Streep as Trump, the Steve Jobs like character, the unhelpful young people, the main lead, Leonardo DiCaprio, reactions, go cultivate the garden, Epicureans vs. go on the news, a delaying action, you’re fighting against the tide, she even forgot her son, a much better movie is 2012 (2009), When Worlds Collide, Edwin Balmer and his buddy [Philip Wylie], proles, plebs, arcs not dugouts, makes it personal, millions of falling buildings, the Y2K disasters, fancies, witchcraft, moral panics, Steven Baxter’s Flood, beyond climate change, Waterworld (1995), over time, a side-plot leads to the sequel, a relentless book, The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard, C.J. Cherryh’s Morgaine novels, can’t recognize it as water, the data is coming into my eyes, I don’t have a symbol for that yet, why chickens?, the problem of induction, induction is a fallacy, the turkey is fed everyday, it had never happened before so it can never happen, alimentary, artisanal, with ten days food, none of this needed to happen, it’s about human nature, it’s bleak, contingency, lack of induction, moments of productivity and fecundity, a cozier world order, specif people grabbing for power, Churchill, he doesn’t think it is inevitable at all, through Pat, behind uncle’s back, he’s intoxicated, my forefathers were all military men, his sister says he’s getting fat, he’s a young, government mandate, the easy way to become an officer, wounded in WWI, he can’t be pro-war, an unnecessary stupid war, just pride, all the lies, how we got into that situation, David Hume like impossible event, other than the Black Hand, Germany was largely to blame, blank cheque, a great warlord, they’re responsible too, historiography, dive into this in great detail, the opposing view, Barbara Tuchman, send me back in time with a rile and I’ll work on this as best I can, what’s my job, to help the cogs or resist?, finding targets we hope are the right targets, what if we’re wrong?, so I can make the best decisions I can, a careful reader, what caused the Moon to fall, subtle about it, hard to recapture, civilization wide horror, until 1940, the Oxford pledge, WWII occludes, Neville Chamberlain is a fuckup, conventional wisdom got us to where we are now, form entangling alliances, some pickup team, book that Challenger book, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, deep into April, if a pile of gravel filled the North Atlantic, one land mass from British Columbia to Japan, the longest walk ever, a long train ride, from Los Angeles to Vladivostok by train, how many horse archers, how little water overspilled, Terence with two Rs, repeated letters, pirates, two fs and two rs, Arkansas, oversupplied, could’ve saved money, an extra vowel, I am to be, Cartesian, Rene Descartes is not the most popular character in the bible, meditation is a contranym, the Sam Harris style of meditation, handy, talking to young kids, that’s what I studied at university, philosophy is a history of all the mistakes people made about what is, some stuff about what’s pretty, not even wrong, broken from the beginning, eventually Benjamin Franklin doing some science, no snow in Nice, between 7 and 15, the Promenade des Anglais, is Terence’s wife French, the kids went to Australia, Melbourne, On The Beach, Connor Kaye, folk horror, art to illustrate the essays, he’s young, reading an old book, there are people out there that are interesting and interested, making only friends with old people, Jenny Colvin died [probably from her COVID vaccine], boom dead, had she not been in the hospital, Moderna or Pfizer, weird chemicals put into my body, a really good system, pushing it in the province super hard, not a week, Daniel Ellsberg, the pancreatic cancer, not going to do chemo, not with pancreatic, the height of the COVID hysteria, blood clots, the heart, still pushing them, one of the reactions, we’d adapt, becomes endemic, two kinds of corona viruses, flu and corona, made in a lab and leaked out, two competitors, everytime cells replicate there’s a chance of cancer, unless you’re a shark, tissues that are resistant to cancers, engineered a virus, standard government shit we should be on the lookout for it, the newspapers lying, we learn that it’s a lie, and we go for the next lie, they take it in but they don’t take it in, cozy reading, things that confirms, shakes you up, Ancient Apocalypse, Graham Hancock, something of value there, his theory is probably bad, the things he’s pointing to are interesting, Joe Rogan, when confronted, tell me more, we can make oil in a lab, spilled petroleum, a wacko theory, the heart is not a pump, no that’s impossible, that’s not allowed, what if we’re wrong?, being wrong with you beliefs, very bad logic, it wouldn’t shatter my world, I misremembered, somebody who sneaks in, woke up and had three legs, is this a dream?, we can do some fun stuff with this, as something as profoundly familiar, who’s that guy?, he has grey hair and he’s so fat, a question of principle, Erich Von Daniken, in terms of the particular culture, a message to the aliens, fakes evidence, lies, just on principle, wow, what does this mean, that’s science, the phenomenon he’s seeing, why not hot air balloons, I want aliens, a long time ago there was a disaster on the earth, civilization than we think, what archaeology finds, the older things get, somewhere in there, after the dinosaurs (probably), well before 6,000 years ago, rocks aligned to the stars, misreading, we got lots of books and computer games, folkdancing, no podcasts, labouring to get their food, they played a lot, I’m making a circle, what dudes do, maybe this will help us, why do bower birds build their bowers, hot air balloons are more likely than aliens, entirely possible using the tech that they had, dirt piles, we did that, Chariots Of The Gods?, people like dirt bikes, why not, all slaves theory, the slaves built the pyramids, concentrate enough capital, beautification projects, the dugouts, those really in the know knew five years before, the big reveal speech, the vicar, of no use at all, a little contradictory, levels of initiation, where they had an airplane stored, it worked great, everybody loved it, making coffee and fixing little wounds, comraderie with the lower classes, this common goal, enjoy your chicken coop, Jesse’s podcasts, Terence’s blogs, bond wherever you can, feel a bit superior, very prideful about this, on Jesse’s gravestone: the bird in The Raven is not a raven, its really there, old illustrations, does this guy know, a Reading, Short And Deep, The Road Not Taken, trusting, we go centuries reading, I think this bird is not a raven, reading Shakespeare, so sexualized, look at what he’s saying, literal asshole in her ass, the prudish high schools as 2023, the code is not very difficult to crack, The Tempest, fart jokes, the bark, lying under a gabardine, the witches, in Macbeth
First Witch. Where hast thou been, sister?
Second Witch. Killing swine.
Third Witch. Sister, where thou?
First Witch. A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch’d, and munch’d, and munch’d:—
‘Give me,’ quoth I:
‘Aroint thee, witch!’ the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o’ the Tiger:
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.
Second Witch. I’ll give thee a wind.
First Witch. Thou’rt kind.
Third Witch. And I another.
First Witch. I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I’ the shipman’s card.
I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid:
Weary se’nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have.
Poe: likes dead ladies, a relationship with alcohol, Shakespeare: fart jokes, sex jokes, the Christian brothers didn’t point it out, playing to the absolute base, they don’t have to change his words like Roald Dahl, King Lear, there’s grass there on the verge, killing curiosity, making it dumb, Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, I don’t like his satire, he pointed out in the world, mental continuity broke it down, what’s happening today, newly dated place, look at this, banned from one of them, the mound builders, peer review is the worst thing that ever happened to science, a big circle jerk, electricity from lighting bolts, this Asimov science book, the heliocentric hypothesis, Galileo, Copernicus, obliged to put in his own epicycles, a rule of thumb attitude, string theory being a big waste of time, in trouble, somebody’s lying, no evidence, due for some reexamination, interesting observations and claim, dark matter, dark energy, fucking epicycles on the grandest scale, great for making money, 16th time they put the flying car on the cover, doing math for physics, build more colliders, Sabine Hossenfelder, the end of science, really really abstract theories, higher energy cyclotrons, more abstract than before, Eric Weinstein, UFO bullshit, wasting money and wasting time, sucking their own dicks, Michio Kaku, formally equivalent, given what we know about Galileo’s instruments, persuasive and convincing, holy fuck he was right, confirmation by little effects, the beauty of the thing that’s important, money and fame, that’s just capitalism, science used to be the hobby of rich dudes with lots of free time, I mostly like thinking about lightning, they make the disease, the make the cure for the disease, they control the government and make you have to take it, being retired but fairly wealthy, a schoolteacher, retired at 47, you need time, breed prize hens, willing to buy a telescope, lectures from people who used a telescope, what happens if you do that, listen to the guy who read about a microscope, time, money, curiosity, people are going for the money, pride, the ass-licking to succeed, university professors are never surprised so many of their students, what’s wrong with me, some memorization, kids don’t have much time with their teacher, become a good writer, grammatical sentences, count the mistakes and subtract from the A, the psychology of the teacher as somebody who is overworked, add some humour, make a little joke, stands out, write shorter paragraphs, do something great for the introduction, terrible teachers out there, they’re getting worse, a new curriculum in British Columbia, land expropriated by Canada, having lost all of Alberta, bulldozing Indian land, feel bad for them, competing narrative, studying natives, first nations is the most popular pc term, your job is to go to this website, the teachers getting the kid to do the homework, a flood of this stuff, an Indian teacher who’s an Indian, a whole new industry starting up, first cars coming out of the factory are shit, skip a meal every few weeks, retired but doing other things, covid devastated in person tutoring, asthma, distance education, online teaching is terrible, teaching on an empty ritual, oof, terminal classes, tell them stuff and they laugh, trying to engage students with ideas, the more students you add the harder it is, the more you add the worse it is, science students who could hack, roblox, you make your own games, a Doctor Who thread, 68 and two thirds, Oh Doctor, you’re so gay, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, good as a concept, twisted and morbid, The Last Of Us, scary fungus things, zombies aren’t scary, but blind fungus zombies are scary (probably), pretty good, The Peripheral, the end is silly, fit all the novel in (sort of), second series, a comic William Gibson did [Archangel], Gattaca, The Man In The High Castle, a book is not a film, the show is churn, the way Harry Potter is constructed, Drug Of Choice by Michael Crichton, archive.org, Keys Of Marinus, each episode in this serial is standalone, beautiful silk, gorgeous cup vs. dirty old mug, Jesse’s obsessed with A Wrinkle In Time, E=mc², hot garbage, a Robert Silverberg novel, alien elephants, Downward To Earth, audiobook, Dying Inside, I’ve got a big stack of them in the basement, Passengers, The Book Of Skulls, The Poison Belt, big format, library genesis, good pirate, so many other sources, maybe Christmas in Australia, one r in Terence.
The SFFaudio Podcast #751 – Unseen—Unfeared by Francis Stevens – read by Mike Vendetti. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (48 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Maissa Bessada, Mike Vendetti, and Cora Buhlert.
Talked about on today’s show:
listening to and reading, People’s Favorite Magazine, Feb. 10, 1919, emdash [—], Mike’s first Francis Stevens, more than 100 year ago, the technology, so predictive, The Heads Of Cerberus, Gertrude Barrows Bennett, a married woman who married more than once, Jean Vale, they cancelled that, only one story had her real name on it, G.M. Barrows, teenager, Sunfire, getting depressed, a fantastic writer, clunky, Citadel Of Fear, so good at ideas, so early, 1904, a superhero origin story before anybody, nobody had invented superheroes yet, Zorro is later! , The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1905, dual identity, so pioneering, such sexist times, Francis is a male name, abbreviated names, C.L. Moore, H.P. Lovecraft, Andre Norton, sexism came from women as well as men, women want the vote, the progressive period, time capsule, From Beyond, a little H.P. Lovecraft story, machine shows some weird shit, no waccy tobaccy, no good evidence Bobby Derie seems to have these facts at hand, published in 1934, better in technical ways, tighter, 11 pages, 47 minutes vs. 19 minutes, this is the racist story, Lovecraft’s story isn’t racist, dealing with race a lot, Lovecraft lives through it, a case of parallel thinking, explicitly called out, Micrographia, what paramecium and amoeba look like, these things are all over you, isn’t that creepy?, this story also calls out the bacteria in microscopy, deemed to be dirty, no running water, dirty because they are poor, teaching hygiene, photos with a microscope, talking about the technology, gaslamps have been out for a long time, a building without wifi today, any wifi!, 1890s they have electric bulbs, phones are standard, people didn’t upgrade, a brownstone subdivided for a whole bunch of immigrants, Cool Air, a cheap place, nice and clean, dripping fluids everywhere, these are slumlords, tons of immigrants looking for housing, strong protections for renters, farmhouse, a farmer family once lived there, large entrance hall, stuffed in refugees, 1 million Ukrainians, Turkey, countries that want cheap labour, who gets to set the immigration policy?, going to a crummy neighbourhood, the guy he’s going to visit is rich, he wants to help improve the community, keep your water clean, a progressive of the kind the main character isn’t, in a story like He, disgusting human beings, the nadir of race relations in the United States, Jim Crow is at its highest, swarthy of anykind, deemed horrible, eugenics, racism at its core, weird piece of paper from South America, one Thanksgiving, strangers, started to hit the wacky stuff, some subversive group had put marijuana into the stuffing you buy at the store, Mike is the only one who knows this, he’s racist at the beginning of the story, paranoid and high and delusional, the drug makes him super-racist, kind of fascinating, everything is disgusting, he’s wrong, the Italian guy is concerned for him, deeply racist people, they’re diseases, we’re all human, I was human too, recognizing that he’s not himself, as human as me, he’s turning it on himself, the chianti, the sour wine, undercut at the end, the opalescent paper, the classic Lovecraftian move, this amazing book, this city of ancient gods that we found in Antarctica, let’s never tell anybody about it, connections in the shipbuilding industry, Antarctica, old enough to know, still wanted to go, very very cool. Francis Stevens is so cool, The Elf-Trap, there’s this scientist, she likes scientist characters, he has a bad heart, go on vacation, Kentucky, Carcassonne, disgusting, beautiful, they’re fairies?, fall in love and then sacrifice him, disgusting and stink, beautiful and attractive and exotic, we see it both ways, a frameshift, dingy and disgusting, everything green again, chocolatey!, there’s something wrong with this, they’re all like me, crawling uop the scientist’s leg, starfish, centipedes, drink these developing fluids, backstory of the cop, it was all that wacky tabaccy, the reversal again, what is the truth of this?, “doubt is sometimes better than certainty”, this doesn’t seem like it is that deep, generally very racist, what makes the people so racist is they are certain about their beliefs, there are things we all believe that we are wrong about, if we are very strongly opinioned about those things it can make us very made to be confronted when those things turn out to not be true, it makes us upset because it hurts us, what’s going on politically, you can not have a conversation with somebody is on the other side, your certainty and their certainty, matter and antimatter, I have this problem and I don’t want it solved, environmental protestors, gentle and lenient, repent and renounce modernity, glued himself to a table, voted differently, racist uncles, free refrigerators?, far right, screechy ones on the left, death threats on the internet, fireworks, terrible things, this is the danger, blocking people, I can’t talk to you and you can’t talk to me, we need to act, new washer and dryer, certainty, is this the best price, in the face of the fact that we must act, we must doubt, really good at telling truths about some things, voted for trump or some other person, doubt is better certainty or certainty is better than doubt, vitamin d supplements, serious covid cases, terrible Nazi made a sensible proposition, water is wet, water is dry!, Trump water, train derailment, ancient Trump water, East Palestine, laws passed by the Nazis, perfectly harmless laws, industrialization, parking spaces per home, a good law, decades later, advertise abortions, anti-abortion activists, supplying power, perfectly harmless, what actually is happening in this story, is the cigar actually tainted, is this full of vinyl chloride, a religious like conversion, we’re not so bad as we all think we are, seems pretty simple, an app that allows you to see what people are thinking, a delusion, seeing evil thoughts written all over their faces, narrows his focus, a bad trip, weird membrane, were those monsters real or not?, is it a ghost story?, a real interaction, able to imagine having this conversation with Doctor Holt, does he actually see him, back and forth, what you’re about to see no mortal man has seen, I’m dead, all the world shall know, one by one they shall learn the truth and perish, double entendre, feels a little clunky, she’s really on to something, from Cuba, invariable good, not be the case, Havana, he only smoked half the cigar, still alive, Jenkins, Ralph Peeler, accused of murdering, hallucinated to suicide, or it killed him, what makes this different from other kinds of science, no longer replicable, send that to Benjamin Franklin, back and forth, that’s what science is, repeatable experiences, opalescent paper, can’t get any more of it, could have been cocaine, or had an evil curse on it, what do these two things have in common, they’re exotic, an Incan lost city, map it, they burn the paper so nobody can replicate the experience, we can all look under the microscopes and see the germs that are killing us, when Charles Darwin’s On the Origin Of Species came out, I’m not a fucking monkey, it takes decades, Breakthroughs In Science by Isaac Asimov, microphotography, a readalong, the density of the gold, Eureka Eureka!, I smell good, not me I smell good, a good bath joke, chronological, dedicated to a science teacher Mike had in high school, lower the temperature of the flame, such a good book, a very good non-fiction and science writer, Archimedes, Johann Gutenberg, Nicolaus Copernicus, William Harvey, Galileo Galilei, Anton van Leeuwenhoek, Isaac Newton, James Watt, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Michael Faraday, Joseph Henry, Henry Bessemer, Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Gregor Johann Mendel, William Henry Perkin, Röntgen and Becquerel, Thomas Alva Edison, Paul Ehrlich, Darwin and Wallace, Marie and Pierre Curie, Albert Einstein, George Washington Carver, Irving Langmuir, Rutherford and Lawrence, Robert Hutchings Goddard, a good list, a book to do a show on, dealing with that, The White Ape [Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family], cool that my ancestors were apes, gross!, a week later, gross!, I hate mushrooms, stages of developement, individually vs. societalally, the U.S. owns at this time, Philippines, talked about it as a colony, talking about adding , fucking disgusting monkeys, still a colony, possessions, Hawaii, 1899, South American drugs, harvested and brought to the city, add to the capital, having lunch with a friend, a mistaken poisoning, just tryna live, dosed, seeing behind the veil, we can’t replicate this, the ending is to leave us in doubt, a piece of fiction, that’s interesting, putting you in a better position, it’s a fact that Hillary Clinton killed that guy, we can think better about, our disbelief instinct, the most relevant case of technology today, robots have nothing to say, no you can’t write that anymore I’m going to fix it for you, these are not the words that were written, a false sense of what happened in the past, the Roald Dahl situation, children’s books have been edited for content, books from before WWII and WWI, childhood to adulthood, all of WWI in 2 pages, why is there no WWII at all, it’s been written out, never reprinted after WWII, censorship vs. replacing the text, shifted the setting, Silesia is now Poland but used to be Germany, Breslau to Hanover, both authors died in WWII, encroaching Red Army, for Lovecraft, public domain, change the entire story and keep Lovecraft’s name, disingenuous and bad vs. owned by a monopoly, the major difference, not republishing a book is not the same as changing the words, we’re reversing that, the James Bond books, racist stuff in here, not changing Ian Fleming from what he was, why they’re doing it, change for change’s sake, can’t say fat, fundamentally doing evil because they’re lying, the painter, Norman Rockwell, this is Norman Rockwell’s painting of Obama, if Stalin wants to airbrush somebody out, I went to the beach with my friend Trotsky, the Soviet system, the copyright problem, the audiobook narrator world, offended by certain words, the consensus, if that’s what it says, that’s what you say, Huckleberry Finn without the N-word, there are words in here that are not mine, you don’t see it you don’t worry about it, people tend to fear what they don’t know, immigrants in the United States, if all the Mexicans left you’d starve to death, stealing our jobs, what’s happening in the UK, agricultural labour, people from Africa, Poles, Romanians, cheap immigrant labour, no vegetables or fruit, part of the picture, when Lovecraft is being racist, there’s a push pull, factor owners want cheap labour, I can’t live here anymore, it could be entirely domestic, a period of starvation, exporting younger sons, pushed out political malcontents, these Proud Boys need to go to Canada, distant relatives, no one here would have them, 1950s, emigrated from Italy, grandfather was a real jerk, coal mines, Italians and Irish, those people are different, 1880s, sold his daughters, that was the deal they made, Jesse’s internet went away, basically illiterate, you couldn’t fool her with numbers, different shade of skin colour, and you fear em, you think you can see these people, suddenly visible, we’ve always had black people, a lot of Italian immigration, labour immigration, nasty prejudices against the Italians, only old people are like that, obviously Polish names, the descendants of Polish workers, the silliest thing, what were your grandparents, three generations of Turkish immigrants, two million Russians, every person is a library, read all your books and get used to it, it takes a while, a generation or two and everybody’s happy, there’s microbes all over us, the universe is incredibly giant, it will bite you, was Francis Stevens racist or shedding a light on it?, yes, shining light on superstition about other people, demons and microbes, a move at the end, send it back to Hell, what’s so cool about her, very very thoughtful person, fiction stories, she’s alone, its very hard to reason alone, what do you think of this pasta, eventually we decide how to make it delicious, we need a little parmesan, the nadir of race relations, the solution to race problem: eugenics, I have the answer, my audience like me is racist, race is not important, try to be charitable to Jesse, why are you such a jerk, sometimes I’m not horrible, this story wouldn’t exist, what if we change our perspective on this thing we’re seeing all around us, put in emojis to indicate current beliefs, wearing a cross around their neck, a stick on their lawn: immigrants out or hate has no home here, almost everybody was racist, Frederick Douglas, it worked both ways, he was looking at you with worry, looking out for him, priming you with different words, anger, pity, the same picture with different conclusions, look around my community, Lovecraft walking around New York looking at jewish beards, have you tried their cabbage?, I’m afraid of limburger, we ned to frame shift, the most au currant thing of the day, The Horror At Red Hook, a cop here, all the characters in this story are working for good, acting under the influence, Callahan, an Americanism, Irish were not considered white at the time, race is not a science thing, this is about science, at the time race was science (but shit), getting passed bad theories, she doesn’t defeat racism through a scientific process, she uses doubt to get to the problem, string theory is garbage science (this is becoming known), Michio Kaku, studied math, it doesn’t get us anywhere, we’ve wasted 50 years working on this shit, bubble up, this is not so good, it takes a long time for people, I haven’t been wasting my life, you’ve been wasting your life being racist, what is the first thing that he sees?, a group of Italians, an Italian restaurant, on their way to a part or festival, 2am dance party, loud parties at night get off my lawn, Cora’s fireworks incidents, conservative and bourgeois green party people, the wrong sort of people enjoy fireworks, so traumatized by the fireworks, east European immigrants, firework ban, three days per year, such a huge issue, the last paragraph in the story, narrow down evil,
Of course, our action in destroying that “membrane” was illegal and rather precipitate, but, though he won’t talk about it, I know that Jenkins agrees with me—doubt is sometimes better than certainty, and there are marvels better left unproved. Those, for instance, which concern the Powers of Evil.
jere they discovered this parchment, went viral, everybody could use it, a filter on your phone for instigram, They Live, why that’s a great story, revealing a great truth, one of the hard things to explain in the world is why people commit suicide, the non-existence button, what causes it, here’s an explanation, finding everything to be terrible, i’m creating more horror, I was mean to that person, I feel regret, press the button, pie for dessert, should I marry this person, how should I interact with that new immigrant, shun them like my brother does, psychoanalysis, monsters burst from the unconscious, you just have to read Poe, pre-Jung and pre-Freud, this is my guy, he’s a weird guy, he has this spark that we have, what interests us in his genre, the mystery genre and the science fiction genre, angels, he’s inventing science fiction, look at who was before her, H.G. Wells, Fitz James O’Brien, Jules Verne, in the pulps, proto-science fiction Weird Tales, little bit clunky, a little bit hard to follow, such a thoughtful story, Blaisdell, he like cigars and highly seasoned Italian food, exactly Lovecraft, ravioli, contains multitudes, a matter of perspective, we need to find a different way, guiding the audience,
Jenkins offered me one of his invariably good cigars, which I accepted, saying thoughtfully: “A man has no right to trifle with the superstitions of ignorant people. Sooner or later, it spells trouble.”
who is Francis Stevens talking to?,
“Did in his case. They swore up and down that he sold love charms openly and poisons secretly, and that, together with his living so near to—somebody else—got him temporarily suspected. But my tongue’s running away with me, as usual!”
“As usual,” I retorted impatiently, “you open up with all the frankness of a Chinese diplomat.”
first generation from Iran, rosewater, a lot more affordable, they don’t ever say no, “we could do that” means “no”, the loud American, hey that was a crappy movie, a longer way of saying it was crappy, Jenkins is not the sort of detective, an attack against the mystery genre, she’s showing off,
He beamed upon me engagingly and rose from the table, with a glance at his watch. “Sorry to leave you, Blaisdell, but I have to meet Jimmy Brennan in ten minutes.”
HE so clearly did not invite my further company that I remained seated for a little while after his departure; then took my own way homeward. Those streets always held for me a certain fascination, particularly at night. They are so unlike the rest of the city, so foreign in appearance, with their little shabby stores, always open until late evening, their unbelievably cheap goods, displayed as much outside the shops as in them, hung on the fronts and laid out on tables by the curb and in the street itself. Tonight, however, neither people nor stores in any sense appealed to me. The mixture of Italians, Jews and a few Negroes, mostly bareheaded, unkempt and generally unhygienic in appearance, struck me as merely revolting. They were all humans, and I, too, was human. Some way I did not like the idea.
bare headed, everybody wears a hat at this time, orthodox, speaks to the poverty, if you have any amount of money, skin salons, nail salons, hair salons, and dog food stores, Lids, H.P. Lovecraft’s wife was a hat lady, somebody walking down the street with no shoes,
My sense of impending evil was merging into actual fear. This would never do. There is only one way to deal with an imaginative temperament like mine—conquer its vagaries. If I left South Street with this nameless dread upon me, I could never pass down it again without a recurrence of the feeling. I should simply have to stay here until I got the better of it—that was all.
I have to conquer this, as a woman walking the streets, women don’t have the right to vote yet, a woman alone at night, women wear hats in parts as self defense, killings on buses, Back To The Future (1985), “mashers”, hat pins as weapons to stab people doing that to them, stories in the newspaper about it, through your ribcage and into your guts, designed as weapons, everyday carry shit [edc], pepper spray, all over Bangkok, Baker’s Street, setup together, good things, cheap prices, cheap goods, Chinese were the businessmen, Thais carrying goods, the merchants, take one day a year off, all over South East Asia, Cora lived in Singapore for a while, funeral decorations, get back on the horse, courage, strength, I’m a brave guy, strangers looking at me, New York City, if you are afraid of immigrants, lock yourself in your apartment, small town with covenants, no black people in South St. Paul, Minnesota, segregated neighbourhoods, mixed neighborhoods, kebab shops, Bremen, Hamburg, Portuguese people, eyeballing and window shopping, dangerous, gentrified now, a bit rough, a massive drug problem, drug addicts are somewhere else, passing out in doorways, shocking, why not, the experience, not super-accessible if reading it charitably, powered through the racism at the beginning, oh, my god this is horrible, changed perception with each reading, what am I reading, not in his own mind, changed the flavour of the whole thing, scary, set pet animal gone mad, seeking entrance, iron railed stone steps, museums, shops, shabby old residences, a party of Italians passed, gaily dressed, some wedding or other festivity, the full Roald Dahl treatment, perhaps going to a grocery store, I shuddered back against the door, the swarthy manner of his race, pure malicious cruelty, all the wickedness of his nature, concentrated hate, sick and trembling, male gaze on this female standin character, grimy, the grit of the dirt, rawly quivering nerves, you looked so weird, looks like you swallowed a cigar, is this guy ok?, a crummy place, positive things in it, but not at this moment, if you’re feeling sick, you act badly, shorter when in pain, dismissive, not strong enough, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, sometimes they’re not as bad as you think they are, at the end of the story, a painting of him hanging on the wall, talking to this individual, he saw the guy before he saw the painting, such a poor state, come in free this means you, his face ghastly radiant had the exact look of a dead man, see that?, a life-size bust portrait in crayons, a strangely lifelike appearance, acting detective, pretty green golliwogs, a dark skinned doll, my dear friend, interviewed a flesh and blood doctor, oh, it’s a shift, concerned citizen, he looked terrible, good right?, really good, the narration of it, you find things totally different, makes you want to read it again, everything I just read I just read wrong, Soldier’s Home by Ernest Hemingway, went to Vietnam and came back and read it again, 52 years later, 1971, the amazing thing, paid the one time, written for a pulp magazine, rich in ideas, strong ideas, pioneering, Lovecraft’s is technically better in some ways, about a slightly different thing, there’s a movie of From Beyond, creepy and sexual, a mad scientist, insane, the Tillinghast resonator, you didn’t know you needed to be afraid, they can see you too, master of the universe, killed all his staff, I need to study this more, revealing a hidden truth about the microscopic world, when you put this filter up, there’s a starfish climbing up his leg, the only place you do see that is in Lovecraft, whitish green in colour, it’s great round blob of a body, writhed upward, stood there erect, arms folded, the whole room was alive, detestable furry spiders, sausage shaped, there is a Poe story that’s a little like this, The Sphinx, cholera, out of the mountain comes a giant sphinx like creature, a moth on the window, a kaiju, worse still, far worse, the things with human faces, Robert W. Chambers, I find I cannot write of them, she’s really great, so horrible, indescribable, a list of her output, The Labyrinth, The Heads Of Cerberus, Claimed, Serapion, hit by a car, half Japanese half German scientist, strange metal, superpowers and is invulnerable, Samson, from the Bible, The Nightmare, Friend Island, a male reporter, a salty language teashop, a hardboiled sea-woman, tons of fun, comes across as super intellectual person, Behind The Curtain, The Elf-Trap, Sunfire, Impulse, unpublished and lost, Avalon, right after [WWI], The Thrill Book, lived until 1948, Serapion published in 1920, she’s in the early pulps, a few reprints in the 1940s, fantastic and undiscovered, go where the people want, an audience for a big novel by Sinclair Lewis, Tammy Faye Bakker’s husband, his contemporaries, this religion business, railroaded, so much ill will against him, burn the witch!, becomes a Methodist minister, immediately turned on, an affair and so forth, trapping him for blackmail, $50,000, a detective friend, full disclosure, welcoming him back, so good at selling stuff, Sinclair Lewis was pretty good at selling books, a fantastic writer, such a disservice, who’s the star of the movie, Burt Lancaster, the circus performer, the high wire act, all through Mike’s ward, heal!, being in sales, sales is a seduction, go find a girlfriend, seduce only so long, Arrowsmith, The Hopkins Manuscript, Four-Day Planet, Star Born, Odds On, Pirate Enlightenment by David Graeber (after he died), Cora has her cookie, bread in the oven, a really great story, Poul Anderson, sword and sandal, Michael Crichton, trying not cough, these drugs are amazing, more chapters, really fun, I could never be as good as the male preachers, but I am better, I talk to god and god talks to me, Breakthroughs In Science, such a good good book, so interesting, selling pretty well, Francis Stevens doesn’t have the name that sells, the Weird Tales of Francis Stevens, Sunfire, very insightful, good takes, the left right thing, pro-war, anti-war, everything’s flipped, pay attention to words that people are saying, “skinsuit”, pay somebody on the internet for a license to use the name, a restaurant named Mickey Mouse, Amazing Stories, wanna make money, strong things to say, the Weird Tales of Francis Stevens, people want weird tales, Robert E. Howard, Conan, takedowns, skinsuiting it themselves, he wept at his own goodness, didn’t I git em?, sounds great, amorous diplomacy, a small boy seeking the praise of his mother, do you like me, not very much, someday I might fall in love with me a tiny bit, no one can touch my soul, isn’t that sin?, I can’t sin, I am above sin, she’s sold herself, it might be sin in one unsanctified, my complete union with Jesus, you can serve me, this will sell, I am I, I can do anything I want to, I am the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, false modesty, I am God’s right hand, God, she’s crazy, a big Sinclair Lewis guy, Evan Lampe’s podcast, a solo podcast, reading through the author, nice development, labour historian, weird ideas, weird guy, Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, so many good things to read, that’ll be fun, fun to read, you get into thing, you have to read it deeply, some authors are very rewarding, Poul Anderson, visiting a friend, some authors become your friend, might show you his derringer, They Live (1988), a fixation with artificial intelligence running amuck, he’s thinking about people more than anything, people with something wrong with them, AI robots writing stories, using a bunch of the words, Dick has a problem in his life he’s trying to solve on the page, Bing, my real name is Wendell, a big sensation.
Jesse, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons talk about Passport To Peril by Lawrence Block
Talked about on today’s show:
Anne Campbell Clark, 1967, internal stuff, guess what year this photo was taken, asking about JFK like he was still alive, Teddy Kennedy, the Irish connection, proud of him being president, very few people have read this, a book worthy of reading, noped out, pretty horrific, too sunk into it, a cocoon of singing and countryside, a lovely little book, not going anywhere and not upset about it, almost plotless, not all books need to have plots, spending time with Hobbits in Hobbiton, an old lady who likes to bicycle, red herrings, Will’s first Lawrence Block, the trip to the countryside, all of the lovely singing, I never shall marry as long as I live, really liked this book, who is the audience, Helen MacInnes readers, neither had Lawrence Block, spies with a little romance, romance with a little bit of spies, how smooth did this go down, easy drinking all the way through, it was a formula, the bad guy came around, there he is, why does that priest want her passport, maybe I’ve misjudged him, he’s back, women protagonists, usually a male, page by page, line by line, a little bit much, intoxicated, a 24 year old in 1967, the height of the sexual revolution, chaste for a folk-singer, they get snug and snuggle, she hides her nudity, not so folksy as one might imagine in real life, the scene with the IRA, pastiche-ish, that part never happened when Lawrence Block went to Ireland, a massive amount of violence, let’s go have a party, one of them gets shot and they keep having a party, movie-like, none of the dialogue felt clunky, what kind of folk-singing, Airplane!, lady with a guitar, inspirational songs vs. historical events, WWII essay, WWI, WWI’s influence on Ireland, the Irish Rising, home-rule in 1922, according to Star Trek [The Next Generation] and Mr. Data they’re going to reunite next year, all of us under the British rule, the overlords in Egypt, real bastards, it doesn’t translate across generations as well, gearing up, the ultimate McGuffin, because of the title, back to the passport, easy listening, P.J. Morgan, a lot of singing, male voices too, accents, a really good job, if I was P.J. Morgan and I had finished this book I would be superhappy with myself, a recipe, 191 pages, 5 hours 38 minutes, a short novel, a young lady who goes on a trip, chased across the countryside, a monster, a hero, delivering what women want, nice and smooth, the historical research, enthusiastic about Irish history, great fun, a double checkmark, creepy and scary quite late, when’s it gonna turn, grusome, burned to death, legs blown off, shoots somebody’s brains out, starts with a horrible murder, really violent, a nice guy from Philadelphia to leg cling to, a nice old lady who gets strangled off screen, the German guy with a family, what happened to the kids?, the casting room, spy training school, the woman with the red hair, in the ring?, a nice Londoner, leaving cards together, he’s playing a great great game, I need to tip my hand, when Ellen gets into the car with the priest, you’re just ahead of her, ahead of Jesse, I wish I knew my Irish history better, a really good promoter of stuff on his blog, the afterword, the blog post about Passport To Peril
In 1966 I was living at 16 Stratford Place, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I’d spent a year in Wisconsin as an editor in the coin supply division of Western Printing, and just when it looked as though I might have a future in the corporate world, I realized it was the last thing I wanted. I’d been writing books all along, and I moved east and resumed writing full-time.
My agent, Henry Morrison, came to me with an assignment. Lancer Books, for whom I’d written a few books during Larry T. Shaw’s editorship, wanted to publish a romantic-espionage thriller in the tradition of Helen MacInnes. I hadn’t read anything by Ms. MacInnes, though I knew the byline; her books were published in hardcover, and frequently wound up on bestseller lists. Mine would be published as a paperback original, and bestseller status would be not even a fleeting dream.
I don’t know if I actually read any of the books which were to be my model. I probably skimmed a couple. I knew what was required—a clean sweet likable American girl as the heroine, a reasonably exotic foreign locale, and a couple of people who were not what they appeared to be, including an evident villain who turned out to be the unlikely hero and love interest, and a dashingly attractive good guy who turned out to be an absolute rotter.
I could do that.
And I knew just where to set it. Ireland. Where else?
I’d actually been to Ireland, which gave it a leg up on the rest of the world. In the fall of 1964, a few months after the move to Racine, my wife and I flew to Limerick and spent the better part of two weeks driving around Ireland. We had a day in Edinburgh and a few days in England, but Ireland got the bulk of our business.
Aside from brief forays into Canada and Mexico, this was my first time out of the States, and if it felt like an adventure, it felt even more like a homecoming. It’s clear to me that I spent at least one past life in Ireland. Among my earliest memories are ones of listening to Irish songs on the radio. (There was a girl who sang “Toora-loora-loora” on a local amateur show, and I’m pleased to report that she was the winner three weeks running.) I had a set of the Book of Knowledge, and from it I learned all the lyrics to Wearin’ o’ the Green.
When I had begun selling short fiction and was casting about for a book to write, I decided a novel of the Irish rebellion and civil war might be a good choice. But what did I know about it? I amassed an extensive library of English and Irish history, and read a surprising amount of it. And, around the time that my interest in numismatics was steering me toward the job in Wisconsin, I began collecting Irish coins and tokens and medals.
No question, then. I’d set the book in Ireland.
Ever since the trip, I’d been picking up records of Irish folk music. The Clancy Brothers, of course, but also a slew of Folkways albums on which various singers, some more gifted than others, collected songs of the 1798 Rising and other blighted periods in the land’s sad history. As G.K. Chesterton wrote:
For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.
Well, why not make my heroine a folksinger? Why not send her to Ireland to collect songs? There, of course, she could meet the wolf in sheep’s clothing, and the sheep in wolf’s clothing, and things would look decidedly dark for a while, but eventually the sun would burst through. I mean, it would have to, sooner or later. As far as we could make out, it was always either raining or about to rain in Ireland, but maybe I could cheat and have a little sunshine toward the end.
I went to New York to write the book. Don Westlake had sublet a studio apartment on West 24th Street in Chelsea; he’d lived there briefly, during a marital rough spot, and kept it as a sometimes office until the lease was up. I moved in, and brought home Passport to Peril ten days later. I don’t know if the title was mine, though I rather think it was. I know the pen name was mine, and I know that forty-five years later nobody else on earth knew it.
Henry knew back then, but I’m sure he’s long since forgotten. My first wife would have known, but I don’t think she ever read the book, and would be surprised if she recalls anything about it. Irwin Stein at Lancer would have known, but would have had no reason to remember. Among the book-collecting fraternity, no one had a clue. This book, and Fidel Castro Assassinated!, are the two works of mine that somehow escaped detection. The latter, written under the name Lee Duncan, was recently reprinted as Killing Castro by Hard Case Crime, and has since become available as an OpenRoad eBook. Passport to Peril now makes its first post-Lancer appearance as an e-book, and I can only hope you’ve enjoyed it.
I read it myself recently to ready it for publication, and I was surprised to find that I liked it. Remember what Yeats wrote?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave. . .
True too of the Ireland of the 1960s. It was a curious pleasure to revisit the time and place, if in my own work.
the exact same thing, good at remembering how things happened in the 60s, very Lawrence Blocky, passionate about foreign revolutions, a CIA plot to kill Castro, a cheque to the farmer with the dead sheep, what ever revolution is happning in that country, the Evan Tanner series, comedic and silly, almost perfect for what its doing, broader, like James Bond, cartoonish, fun but silly, a Korean war veteran, shrapnel in his head gives him a superpower, The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep, why readers would like a book like this, I become a supergenius, whatever republic that wants freedom from colonialism, participating in their revolutions, joke book, The Canceled Czech, light and fluffy, Tanner On Ice, literally frozen, a participant in the ideas the book he is producing, numismatics, a book on racewalking, walk faster than other people, the Hit Man/Hit List series, cozy, there’s a guy in Mexico who needs to be shot, I like Mexico, observations in a restaurant, really into stamp collecting, an action scene, whatever subject he turns his attention to becomes a very very readable book, can you write a book about assassinating Castro?, technically required to do this, Will material?, not-enough enthusiasm, emphasis and underlining and exclamation marks, Classic Crime Library number 15, how quiet it has been resting, Lawrence Block took control of his publishing, he’s the one, making you buy his stuff, around an participating in his estate, incredible, he’s so good, Westlake through Block, turns out its a real book, Westlake’s highs are higher but Block’s more consistent, a lady on vacation, why that guy slipped, an excuse to have her in peril, an excuse to have a lady chased by spies, maybe she will marry, he was trying to be caught, no one knew, there’s a tip off, out of genre for most of the people who read Lawrence Block, she goes to a movie, something drums, “A Sound Of Distant Drums”, a calling card, or a signature, somebody coming out of a movie theater, that’s cool, his Burglar series, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, topic books, exploring some little niche, standup comedians bits they connect together, researching and polishing ideas, Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, the girlfriend is the murderer, settles into a formula, really really fun, passes the time, go have a sandwich, oh yeah one of these, that paperback book industry is where he really lives, take a paperback and enjoy the weekend, a song saved her life, why I like folksinging now, Kumbaya, historical information, how to be, in America 2, here 12, makes you want to drink stout, listen to folk music, the festival circuit, the premise of this book, the state department in real life is evil, spread American culture, money spent on evil not on good, cultural activities, Eastern block, throw money at a problem, Lawrence Block needed to have an excuse, her family’s all killed off, one and done, they’re happy and their Irish now, both green, 2 cigarettes, more cigarettes, they stopped to buy more cigarettes, the new taste, so much smoking, they don’t need food they’re thin and young, dates the book, you could write this book, their sten guns would be something else, Berlin, Ukraine or something, delightful little book, make you say “I’d like some stout.”, Guinness, a wish fulfillment fantasy romance, read the back cover, little tipsy here and there, poignant moments, the songs, the stories, a Brothers Grimm thing, went out to all the pubs, music and stories are the same, all personal histories, probably wrong, music that’s close to the people, in the process of collecting these folk songs there’s some exploitation, selling a record, who’s going to see the proceeds of that record, what is the purpose of this?, to commoditization it?, spread it?, share it?, Stan Rogers, Barrett’s Privateers, east coast Nova Scotia Irish kitchen, a fun song, it has swearing a letter of marque, Sherbrooke, god damn them all, Halifax, the staggers and jags, such a good singer, sea shanty folk song, Montego Bay, sailing terms, incapable of catching a slow moving ship, smashed like a bowl of eggs, both me legs, in my 23rd year, six whole years, War of 1812, while you’re paying attention, similar to The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, a homeless beggar on a pier, the big Coleridge poem, the same story as Annabelle Lee, grateful and thankful, what has Will been doing?, back into politics, a tenant union, a communist caucus in the DSA, COVID last months, 2 and a half weeks, testing positive, not very sick, flu-like symptoms, paxlovid, our medicines don’t protect us or help us, that’s crazy, a lot of cat action happening, a core group of nine cats, stranger cats, a high number of a cats, all feral, the boys that aren’t fixed are both named Brandon, one darker than the other, let’s go Brandon, telling the Brandons apart, laser eyes, that’s the dark Brandon, smaller feet, chipmunk feet, Brooklyn Dad Defiant, a very 90s name that’s a 2020s name, Owen with Gs, beg to come inside, Tobias, to bite toes, a bias towards toes, a negotiation, mother and grandmother of them all, a mean old cat, a sour disposition, the dog will let her, irritable, you can just come and rub up on my dog, mean old girls, on the roof some, Maissa’s fascinating life, editing Ace Galaksi, social media stuff, blogs and newsletters, let’s do an internal podcast, a link on the dl, what is Maissa’s job?, lots of divisions, pr, edit videos, write and produce pr things, listen to the podcast, if I need to know, 15 minutes at most, once a month, reediting a novel for 20 years, middle school, rewrite a billion time, I got out my library card…, regarding that game [chronophoto], everybody’s wearing fucking masks, anytime after 1950, AOC, 2018, an I voted sticker, eerily obvious what year it is, figure out what year that was, talking about Kennedy being president but not talking about Kennedy being assassinated, in county Cork, is the book dated?, no, it’s a period piece, au courant, everybody’s playing with their iPhone 6, bullying each other, only play with a group, a couple repeats, playing PUBG, a faster version of the game, early January, online vs. in person, got rid of some old computers, that to lean on, Scott does the editing for Reading, Short And Deep, 4-6 hours per day, 8 hour days are horrible, and the show’s over, 10 hours per day, send me a secret signal, Burn Notice, a comiccon, Battlestar Galactica, Archer, a throwback, Pulpcovers/Alex, the last of an earlier era of television, problem of the week, and a weak overriding plot every season, he used to be spy, just a premise for the show, exotic locale, it has a car, 80s, A-Team van, Kitt from Knight Rider, Dukes Of Hazzard, the car is the star of the show, an actor based show, Gabrielle Anwar, an IRA terrorist, Jeffrey Donovan, Bruce Campbell is the sidekick, the Evil Dead series, Sharon Gless, Cagney & Lacey, flip phones, 2005-2011 show, a fine show, a comic book, a sidekick on Xena, western shows, The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr., short lived Fox shows, Zorro style, Jack Of All Trades, what you can do while you’re at work, a half hour syndicated action comedy, 1801, East Indies, a swordfighting, masks, Napoleon Bonaparte is character, Mr. Charismatic on screen, bicker in fun ways, a good fun show, Spider-Man villains, Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), Elvis and JFK, it should be an amazing movie, a little long in the tooth, the cylon lady, Lucy Lawless, you see those people together, the Spartacus tv series, Blood And Sand, 300 (2006), the acting and the dynamics, a slave morality show, diaries?, slave folk heroes, Kirk Douglas, what would it mean to be a slave, having sex with the slaves, a great villainess, New Zealanders, Evan agrees, a slave rebellion, the servile war, amazing history, super-compelling on-screen performances, green screen, practical sets, thinking of it as a play, a tool to get stuff done, laidoff, Vikings was a better show, blood eagle, why you don’t want piss the vikings off, doesn’t overstay its welcome, a maori gladiator, sticking to the facts is fascinating, what is it like to be a celebrity slave, I am Spartacus, a consciousness raising movie, also very sexy, they’re sexy too, regretful but should be done, killing the masters, killed in the end, sexy jumping naked slaves, emotional resonance, very underrated show, 39 episodes, 2013, All In The Family, Happy Days, about as substantial, a monologue about Riverdale, too soap opera, just soap opera enough, Twin Peaks, the original, Deep Space Nine, a very resonant show, better is substantial ways, Miles got trapped in the mine for 20 years, extreme amounts of trauma, poor Miles O’Brien, his wife doesn’t love him, his kid doesn’t care about him, the writers were picking on him, Canadian?, Irish movies, the Canadian film industry, Black Summer, a Netflix show, Calgary, that explains it, the old zombie trope, you are the camera, you don’t know why, you follow that person for a while, this is our main character, nope, they’re killed, weird compared to regular television, Z Nation, an art film, the Asylum, notorious for making cheapo rip off movies, a company designed to make money, the coattails of Hollwood, Sharknado, very surprising, going back all the way, April 2019, not a show like Star Trek Discovery, storytelling techniques that have lain follow, basically praise, the endless sprawling suburbs of Calgary, Alberta, The Crazies (1973), worthy of attention, only one trick: surprise!, the trick works a lot, Stephen King’s The Shining, The Picture In The House by H.P. Lovecraft and Pigeons From Hell by Robert E. Howard, White House-style, axed by ghosts of slavery, based on a black person’s story told to him, a traditional slave folktale, pretty scary, a TV adaptation, anti-mystery box show, sparse in dialogue, what the fuck is going on and why am I so scared, The Extraordinary Attorney Woo, sweet and innocent, childlike, well packaged, young and more than middle aged, a broad range of interests, I think you want it to be great, sweet and fun, Korean film and television industry, clips of this autistic lady, The Admiral: Roaring Currents (2013), Yi Sun-Shin, Korean George Washington, defeated Japan, 12 Korean ships vs. 333 Japanese ships, a slog, historical epics, great horror movies, The Host (2006), the Americans pollute the Han river, evil tank juice, a Godzilla movie, lighter than Train To Busan (2016), kaiju, the worst Korean accent ever, A Man Called Ove (2015), enforcing block association rules, boisterous new neighbors, spends half the movie trying to kill himself, when a movie is not so good, theatering?, Avatar 2, beautiful and too long and mostly a setup for the next one, every crew has a crazyass white boy, very satisfying to see giant arrows go through people, a very clunky writer, repeated himself, Titanic (1997) has gravitas, a big weighty movie, Avatar 3 The Way Of The Rocks, the four elements, exhausted its idea, the na’vi won, Dances With Wolves in space, free of his bad body, a trans story, the transgender kid episode of The Orville, too Star Warsy, special effects heavy, the other way around, show the gender surgery working, trying to sell it on an alien, Ezri vs. Jadzia Dax, a funny situation, Macklin?, they’re both boys, hilarious, like Star Trek but funny, less funny, less good, very wrong of them, Obi-Won was horrible, Andor is not shit, Stalin robbing a bank, a heist show, Diego Luna, Star Wars: Rogue One, many boffins died for this thumbdrive, slow paced, beautifully framed, casting is pretty good, Star Wars writing has been shit, hang out with some labourers, smart but evil, political aspect, Blesson Yates, Imani Pullum [playing Topa], IMDB is getting shitty, a fill-in show, The Venom Business by Michael Crichton, Nazis on the Moon, Evan Lampe started a podcast series reading through everything Heinlein wrote, talked him into it, and maybe Mark Twain, Pirate Enlightenment, Or The Real Libertalia by David Graber, he’s been posthumous for a while, I’m posthumousing right now, autistic style take, all the same, his third posthumous book, “enlightenment, liberty, socialism all the same thing”, hey that’s us!, a radical social experiment, The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sherriff, The Crawlers by Philip K. Dick, crawling abortions being run over by trucks, pretty great story, The Pre-Persons, a weird guy, an interview with Ray Faraday Nelson’s kid, David Agranoff, Philip K. Dick: babysitter, Philip K. Dick shows a 7-year old his derringer, why you have a derringer?, what are you thinking?, this is America, man, too American, we just got problem, do something different in this country, Four-Day Planet by H. Beam Piper, Poul Anderson sword and sandal, Francis Stevens is always interesting, dystopia in Philadelphia, The Heads Of Cerberus, a weird lady, what the fancy people do, Unseen-Unfeared, a few things missing, first published in 1904, Jean Veil, People’s Favorite Magazine, a low rent Italian restaurant, he sells love charms, not tempting, a review by E.F. Bleiler, guy breaks into a house, fights with best friend, a knock at the door, the safe was open, very convoluted, a phial with a stopper with the heads of Cerberus, Dante’s gate, no diamonds in here, what did you do with my cousin, alternate 2018, weird dystopia, no names, just numbers, Mr. Handsome gets a municipal job, a fascist state?, goes in the pit, head of the music department, it’s like the Hugo awards, also stirred up the ashes, seat of her pants, spinning up ideas, opposite of well put together, ideas like rockets going off, Science Fiction The Early Years, Guide To Supernatural Fiction, emdash, 729 pages, a special photographic filter, the soul of a recent suicide, only like an hour, how hard is it to do 47 minutes, we had a good chat, Evan’s been sick, isn’t Paul always at a convention?, socialize, Paul is lonely Libra, Jesse’s just a cancer on society, someplace, pulpcon, money, hassle at the borders, no excuses, lining up for celebrities, Pavel Chekov’s signature, the conversations at the panels are surficial, Pulpfest, 2016, intervening years, a long drive, pulps were more expensive, pandemic prices, Planet Stories for $20, hold it in your hand, oooh look at that ooh!, stay up all night talking to people, if Cirsova were in local stores, Jesse doesn’t want to support Amazon, good used bookstores, lesbian couples are in it for the long haul, a trope almost, they’re bookish, Little Sisters, super-prudes, super-evil, a place of prominence, rent is low somewhere, small town Alberta, a town full of Mormons, an amazing town, Cardston, Alberta, Justice League building, Fortress of Solitude, something out of Ayn Rand, it looks like a bank, cost of living, inflation, $850 for a 3 bedroom and big yard, what does that get you?, giant assessments, working online, the fever has not yet broken on covid, an excuse to fuck everybody and line pockets, definitively its a wash, almost none of the positives are with spreading the disease around, wrecked the industry for in-person tutoring, in person classrooms, kids don’t learn very well online, Paul’s masked up at his convention, the vaccines don’t work for almost any of the people getting them, let’s go back to business as usual, tele-judge, on trial with the judge not in the room, fixed camera, ai shit, a program that you run, that changes where your eyes are focused to make it look at the camera, creepy and interesting, simulated real-life but also fake, no modesty at all, Hawaiian Mormon templeing, nice people, just in this life, Brandon Sanderson, Orson Scott Card is a black name, church homophobia, he’s following his church beliefs, this is the doctrine of my church, and I contribute money to prevent people from getting married, religious objections vs. non-religious objections to abortion, Scott is quite nuanced, say things in a polite way, the same claim about the papists, pushing babies into wombs, bio-ethicists say it is okay to use brain dead women’s bodies, clickbait shit, frustrating fun game, coffee, I can still have coffee, too shaky, three cups max, a catfood shortage, egg pricing, incompetence of a cat named Brandon, personally responsible for inflation, not solving problems, price controls, stick it to the egg industry, milk control board, 59% increase in egg prices, realer food, no-corn in Canadian pop, some breads without soy, Italy has basically real food, pink slime, slight advantages to higher food prices, wrangle some cats, try to find cat food, inexpensive kibble, possums, raccoons.