The SFFaudio Podcast #618 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #618 – The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake; read by Gregg Margarite (for LibriVox.org). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 4 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons

Talked about on today’s show:
authors like Westlake, seeing the ending coming, Amazing, March 1961, which ending?, a cynical person, when you’re a lawyer…, lawyer brain, ruining your enjoyment?, you feel smart, reading mysteries, ahead of the curve, forgetting the ending every time, a double twist ending, Westlake is amazing, his most Amazing story, he doesn’t like his boss but he puts up with him, fire and theft in New York, space missions, a meta-story, Westlake’s career, a crime story, a locked room mystery, a series, he could easily lose all the money, a triple twist ending, there could have been!, planned all along, contingency plans for everything, he was planning this forever, cleverer than they knew, the worldbuilding, this could have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, they don’t seem to have the internet, real last name, Ab and Jafe and Ged, an Expanse story, space stations around Earth, a colony on Luna, a gold rush story, The Expanse, what’s driving this?, brilliant people going out to make their money, Jesse can explain it all, they shrivel up, not mostly Australians, mostly Americans, obsessed with the country in which he lives, The Spy In The Elevator, the theme about government, a hands-off government, the Double RP deal, uninsurables, very rapacious capitalism, definitely his signature, handwriting analysis is not as robust as people want it to be, a part of our toolkit, he actually did sign it, this retirement plan, cash return form, well…there’s a law, they wouldn’t give money if they didn’t have to, the corruption somehow didn’t work that day, the insurance lobby, an insurance investigator, a hidden theme, Evan Lampe’s podcast on Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick is obsessed with the frontier, Lovecraft: forgetting and the sea, Westlake is obsessed with insurance, Somebody Owes Me Money, a nephew novel, this weird phenomenon, characterization, the best insurance policy, it seems like if I go with this plan…, why is this in here?, calling Paul Westlake up, his first published story as a professional, government is insurance, helping me not worry about stuff, what taxes are insurance payments, health care, car insurance, the army, in tight alliance with our neighbours, what the RCMP is for, thinking of government as insurance, we have to defend this, Corona virus, starving to death, that payment is insurance, keeping the system stable, an evil universe, anybody who cheats on their CERB is going to be investigated, UBI, telling the company being afraid of its boss, an insight into a terrible, who is the government an insurance policy for?, insurance for the employers, the primary beneficiaries are the stock owners, the WE fake charity, speaking fees, a $14,000 vacation for a minister, if the stockholders are not the general public then they are working for a subset of them, the cynicism is not the focus, an Agatha Christie style locked-room mystery, if it was the government…, the last book, Anarchaos, the absence of insurance companies, a possibility of taking your crime with you, government ideas, ethics, if he wasn’t so greedy, he wouldn’t have gotten away with it, that Scooby Doo ending, alive and in France, they all look exactly the same, Atronics, Chemisant, Ludlum, they sound like things we would get, company towns, how it worked in Anarchaos, Vicco, Kentucky, a ghost town called IOCO (Imperial Oil Company), all the way from Trinidad?, Alcan, through the panama canal, that’s where the power is, if the company goes out of business, those fly-over states, bringing mining back, northern Minnesota, Westlake is incredibly subtle, if you look for the signs, standout lines, there he is, he’s kind of a ghost, the description of the boss and his hands, always smooth, skepticism, the spaceship west of Cairo, the good ship Demeter, g-sickness pills, I was as sick as a dog, as depressing as Turkish bath with all the lights on, a welder’s practice range, a transparent dome would have been more fun, cheap iron, polishing his own spacesuit’s inside, debris, shit orbiting earth, paint chips, some physics problems, jollier, scooters and tuggers, industry troopers, capitalism, the winners of capitalism, square corners painted olive drab, International Atronics Incorporated, high wages, how do you make a vacuum tube?, the tech of the now, he’s putting it in your hand, dribbled down the elevator, the opening of Anarchaos, a milk run, other adventures, Martians, alien insurrections, you don’t even notice, Westlake has opted out, high school, air-force, a Snow top, a white helmeted MP, a set of background for his writing career, hints as to what was striking him, The Man With The Getaway Face by Richard Stark, plastic surgery, Will needs to read that book, falling in love with the author, the driver was an ex-communist party enforcer, Parker was in WWII, be a thief, Westlake started in law enforcement, healthcare, hunger, being in the army is being in a socialist state, he’s a cop in a socialist state, your health insurance, your housing, most people never think about it, Westlake is some kind of weird intellectual, his only way to make a living is to tell people lies, the more interesting your lies are the better your living, my god this is good!, psycho-analyzing his own thing, there’s some substance to it, Tomorrow’s Crimes, the closest to a crime story, a philosopher of crime, he got a lot of letters from prison, prisoners loved his crime books, rats, pulling the perfect job is amazing, once you can’t turn to the cops for help you’re always on his own, he can’t trust his partners, he murders the taxi-man, he’s here to enact his power fantasy in a libertarian state, yay!, a funny way of thinking of what he’s doing, how do you survive in the 20th century?, why would he leave SF?, not financially viable, series is where the money is, science fiction is kind of the opposite of series, its finished, Melinda Snodgrass, fulfilling a role were; not supposed to have, science fiction can be applied to any literary genre, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, we know him from his SF, movies, a tonne of crime, a mystery set in a science fiction universe, I can make the rules, The Caves Of Steel, people don’t go outside, The Hole Man by Larry Niven, Paul’s theory of mysteries, a fair mystery, there’s two suits sitting there, he red-herring’d it, polished his silvered faceplate visor, where the whole thing started, built the whole story around the image, gold in the NASA suits, gold vs. silver, 30 pieces of silver, a different Adams, a lot of domes, the scooters are domes, the asteroid city dome, Finder by Suzanne Palmer, an Apollo Program, understatement, its egg shaped body, green, very army, “the windshield” translucency, floating forever, foreshadowing, we’re him, our hero Jed, he took so long to come home, Will’s a little acquisitive, really empathizing with this story, giant pile of metal, an intellectual exercise, you’re feeling like the guy, Will’s a little bit different than Jesse, an office job, petty bourgeois technician, a life of quiet desperation, Fight Club, breaking his own identity, identity switching, A Bullet For Cinderella, the cultural universe it comes out of, John D. MacDonald, we should eventually do all of the Westlake novels, The Green Eagle Score, the titles run in streaks, Parker robs an air force base, army guys, that rock concert sure is loud, think of all the money from the concessions, scores, a couple of decades between books, see the pattern?, he’s just being playful, he’s a hunter, then he becomes a shark, eventually he gets married, just keep me in flowers and champagne, they start getting silly, he’s got a real sense of humour, cuz sharks don’t laugh at jokes, funny doings, isnights into a person’s character by reading essentially throwaway stories, different from making a movie or a TV show, one person generally, a sense of through-line, wouldn’t you rather know what H. Rider Haggard was thinking than some adaptation of his novel?, too ponderous, Edgar Rice Burroughs, limited success, the way Frankenstein movies gets Frankenstein so wrong, the smartest man who ever lived, I Tarzan you Jane, “Fire bad” vs. soliloquy, learned to speak and read through a crack in a wall, you can’t see those hand gestures, those wry lines, all these flavours of cocktails, bitter but also delicious, rye, very fluffy, it feels so fluffy, so good!, reading Lester Del Rey, so hamfistedly bad, he’ll get you drunk you don’t even know you’re drinking, terribly clunky, For I Am A Jealous People by Lester Del Rey, he’s good at lifting, The Faithful, Reading, Short And Deep, uplifted dogs, dog pilots with surgically altered hands, the last man has died, a very Will story, uplifted gorillas, so badly written, that’s kinda super-racist right there, so hamfisted, a green and lovely world, Man’s creation, worship the memory, Who Can Replace A Man by Brian Aldiss, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, WWI, Lester Del Rey is making moves, here’s four more 10 hour novels, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, City by Clifford Simak, Desertion by Clifford Simak, Cemetery World, animal stuff, we go sideways, this is a dog man, James Powell, 130 stories, A Dirge For Clowntown, Inspector Bozo, a world worry down on his luck aging clown detective, a clown police procedural in a clown universe, his clown wife, the clowns are the white people, the other race is the mimes, mime on mine violence, Discworld novels, not a fantasist in a normal sense, its just so weird, its its own literary thing, The Code Of The Poodles, episode 81, humorous fantasy crime, The Friends Of Hector Jouvet, A Pocketful Of Noses, a unique voice, Ed Wood, pre-everybody.

The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake

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The SFFaudio Podcast #606 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #606 – Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens; read by Mary Jo Escano.

This unabridged reading of the story (29 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Famous Fantastic Mysteries, All-Story Weekly, the original, Mary Jo Escano, Connor Kaye, an inversion of The Cask Of Amontillado, unhinged, paranoid, the slight, Reading, Short And Deep, The Purloined Letter, hiding something in plain sight, C. Auguste Dupin, Voltaire’s Zadig, the origin of Sherlock Holmes, a couple of lines in Latin, a story from ancient Greece, like most people, the content of the letter, blackmail, Poe is so twisted, feed the child to the parent, revenge, the general outline Fortunato is unlikely, don’t tread on me, a foot stamping on a snake, coded, carnival day, the way the story is framed, you who know me so well, a return to the frame, fifty years, confess to a murder crime, confessing to his confessor, a little twist, an unrepentant evil fuck, bad deal, Poe is very revengy, Francis Stevens, Terrence E. Hanley’s blog, the math, the golden age for SF is 12, a new edition of Poe came out when Francis Stevens was 12, H.G. Wells, a number of Poe stories, read and listened, a whole other story, every single line, incredibly interesting how much work each little thing does, densely short, idea matrix, dream, didn’t feel cheated, Castalia House, more Lovecrafty, Schrodinger’s Beatrice, a back frame, The Turn Of The Screw, the dream thank god was a lie, what was the dream, both, this avenging poison, really questioning, this is an actual dream Francis Stevens had, Lovecraft’s letters, Jesse’s dreams, this thesis, dreams and creative writing are basically the same thing, multiple passes, the power of dreams, if that’s not the case, that’s how the narrator tells the story, dreams are very slippery things, worried that something in the dream is reality, what you feared, neglecting pets [sooo neglecty], undo, what is actually real, everyone they say has a streak of incipient madness, the potentiality, Beatrice wants a divorce, Santallos, she was going for italiante, Spanish background, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, a mummy in his house, read stories then write based on prominent, at 3am on your birthday, a very long dream

Dreamt I traveled to a small island nation, a tourist destination, &took the usual tourist trap tour with a semi-stranger. He’d lured me there like Harley Warren, with hints& half-promises about some semi-history some semi-mythology of that island nation. A Twitter acquaintance, I was his Randolph Carter, his audience and student. We toured the caves with the others, but at a certain passage broke with the group and wound down tunnels of the known path. There he pointed out subtle signs no local guide would mention or noticed. A glyph here, a scratch there. And eventually he showed me the wall which concealed that culminating theory, or so he said. I feared my Carter might be his Fortunato and said so. But his knowing laugh reassured and also frightened me. He asked my help in rolling the wall, a large round rock, aside and I did, and with my small extra strength added to his the wall moved. We pass into the passage beyond and found evidence that the island’s rumors about a great power once visiting but somehow sparing them the devastation of similar remote island nations to be literally true. For beyond that wall we found a small group of skeletons seated round in a ring. Each a cup in their bony hands. Each cup contained a reddish residue and as I [p]awed and sniffed at the bottle between them my semi-acquaintance explained the scene to me. They’d crashed their ship upon the island’s rocky shores, he said, after being wrecked upon them by a swirling tempest. But surviving and being provisioned, their leader, a ship’s surgeon told the poxxy crew they could expect a rescue and relief. But this had been a ruse for the surgeon somehow knew that his European crew carried a disease too deadly to be treated on the isolated natives of this island nation and so instead he’d planned a party where in truth he’d drugged their wine, and collapsed the cave wall behind which lay this sordid scene.

I sat there stunned.

How could this Twitter acquaintance know all this about this hidden history, this suicidal plan, this involuntary pact, this truly tainted tontine in which all its members had only learned their fate at the hands of their deceaser doctor who himself imbibed the tainted wine?

Again

my Twitter acquaintance, nigh a friend, laughed and explained his morbid methodology.

And as I heard his terrible words, and sniffed again at that reddish residue I realized that the island’s isolated events and the ships surgeon from long ago were less a quaint [story] than a repeating pattern and as this realization dawned upon me and he laughed the final words I heard that round rock roll back into place as I awoke to write these words.”

no joke, experience the horror, deliberative cruelty, a wind so strong, a bunch of images, quite interesting, now I’ve gone too far, that happens in this story, really cool, Poe-esque, less something to be proud of than to be interested in, How Jesse Dreams podcast, 6 weird words,

HIS GREAT GRANDSIRE’S WILL by Jesse
Upon the death of his despised great grandfather, the portly boy was surprised to learn he had been bestowed his mouldering ancestral estate, consisting of a remote mountain fortress, a deep black lake, and crumbling thatch-roofed stables.
Yet when he first visited that stone citadel, that deep still tarn, and those rotting horse stalls, the ample boy was not particularly impressed with his great grandsire’s wizardry.
But the more he investigated that ancient demesne the more the big boy came to appreciate his great grandfather’s antiquarian peculiarities.
So it was particularly poignant when one November evening the rotund boy was plumbing the depths of the manor’s many cellars when, after sliding aside a purple velour curtain, he discovered the shriveled and still swinging corpse of his great grandfather in a magnificent rocking chair.
Shocked, but no longer surprised, the seemingly faithless boy instantly kicked his old ancestor’s body out of the chair, draped that sumptuous violet hanging about his still plush shoulders, seated himself, laughed and began to rock.
When in the spring sunshine they eventually found him in that basement of that shining citadel, the boy’s body was dry and desiccated, the stables had been rebuilt, the lake was lush with lively loons, and a freshly empty casket lay resplendent in an upper turret.
THE END

Jesse writes better in his dreams, the original Virgil Finlay illustration, having Poe on your mind, a Poe-ish story, in your reading gets inside of you, how this story was constructed, a cliche, and it was all a dream, genuinely what it is, it feels like it was written by a woman, the way he talks about the other male, the female gaze, he sat in the woman’s chair, he wishes he could see himself, his litheness of his body, its almost like a gay thing, sometimes Jesse’s not in his own dreams, third person dreams, an expy, Maissa doesn’t know whose in her dreams, interfering with access, designed to be forgettable, kettle on the stove, dream memory would harm reality if it persisted, looking for the cat you’ve never owned, maladaptive, I must be enjoying it while its happening, try to hold on to dreams, free association, a deliberately difficult order, the arbitrariness of dreams, how could this work?, writing your way out of it, plotters vs. pantsers, writing by the seats of your pants, the unpublished first novel of Clark Ashton Smith (The Black Diamonds), a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, an old castle, rotting tapestry, another dinner, there’s wrestling, a mysterious letter delivered by a bird, you are now my enemy, forsworn, no explanation, this wonderful imagination, he’s got the right attitude, the font is too small, why it is a dream story, she read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and she had this dream, her own personal psychology, Poe’s life, his parents, his adoptive family, super-randy, romanced everybody around, you better straighten up, defiant, West Point, excelled and kicked out, a trouble maker, Tomahawk Poe, how mean he was, Baltimore Gazette, trouble holding a job, alcoholic, Poe’s executor was his enemy, Poe was not a normal person, Francis Stevens was a normal person (extraordinarily gifted), not a Harlan Ellison type, Poe would be very tiring, we have to work with this guy, he’s the son of the boss, the narrator is upset by the actions he thought he took, he didn’t kill Beatrice, but he thought about it, jealousy, putative lover, yay my marriage failed, easy come easy go (but its not that easy), the timing of this story, 1918 vs. 1922, King Tut’s tomb, waves of Egyptmania, a little premature, The Mummy, 1940, its very short, subtle, authentic, she was 34 when this story came out, the bulk of her stories appear The Curious Experience Of Thomas Dunbar, the superhero Sampson, the very first superhero story, super-science, comic-booky, unrelated experiments, all of the metal, vibranium or adamantium, like Captain America, tremendous strength, the mythological character, written when she was a teenager, she’s got something, a real dynamism, it feels clunky at the beginning, it’s a short story, to be sure of my visitor, this is all planned, our friend, our Beatrice, it throws you off, a blast of sharp November air, each purple curtain, from Poe, ah distinctly I remember, wrought its ghost upon the floor, burn, I had to throw my weight upon the door, the storm without (he thinks), you’re very cautions, a password, this house stands somewhat alone, thieves everywhere, full of import, a feat of considerable muscles, sarcophagus, yes, the woman it contains, don’t you agree?, counterfeited a shudder, mummy horror, selling everything, tear jars and tombstones, a meme, drinking a cup full of “liberal tears”, making light, that relationship, neglecting his wife, another Poe story, The Oval Portrait, her name is not insignificant, trying to escape a bad relationship, she just wants to have it quits, the kind of chair that women love but most men loathe, like a cat, occasional blundering candor, the litheness of his body, why does he want to be understood?, with a single exception, the entire lot is going to the dealers, the costume of the mummy, he’s transferred his affection, very weird, where is Beatrice, a sea-cruise, another Poe story, The Oblong Box, its a coffin, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the coffin as a flotation device, she’s in her boudoir?, we don’t know, what’s behind the curtain?, what is the curtain?, the dream?, the space between life and death?, the rosy velour curtain, constantly billowing, a rose coloured sail, must be a door behind there, huh?, my voice checked him, are you quite strong enough to close that door, chin on shoulder, his face seemed scarcely familiar?, what door is it?, his eyes fled mine, the invading winds, Annabelle Lee, you feel like you’re with them, heft to the things, the foot of the gilded case, gilded cage, a prisoner of his own thoughts and his own fear and his own making, he can’t escape them, a repulsive fantasy, yes?, you are too lovely Beatrice, you shall have your freedom, the father’s friend sent the wine, a very female story, kill with poison, enemy and himself, a murder suicide, none of us are going to survive that night, The Sleeper, a story not just a description, by the tomb by the sea by his Annabelle Lee, big frost ship poem, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, you’re walking down the highway, who are you?, its a story of necrophilia, a dude like Romeo outside of a house, she’s either dead or asleep, The Sleeper, curtains, superhard to understand, a nice tomb (she deserves it), to hear the echo (that’s a ghost), the horror of your loved one being dead, your in-laws, if Beatrice is to die, she should be given the most grand tomb imaginable, the mummy’s tomb, be with her (kinda), definitely thinking about it, the underdog stand, one more try, my father’s jealous blood, the mummy or his wife?, he was paying more attention, let her mate with who she would, my brown perfect princess of the Nile, as I had seen it in my vision, did he do that?, he was prepping, prepping for the murder, so good, page 41, erect in the doorway, more beautiful, bound across her bosom, amulets, the amulet of purity of the heart, Dante Alighieri, lost in the dusk of her hair, the flesh of any of us three, what he says about her hair, pallor, an interesting growth, the billowing of the titular curtain, the same totem, the catacombs, a distraction to Fortunato, the niter, it grows, an indication of growth in death, bird poo, an alchemical idea, crystalline growth, do you notice the curtain it blows?, half the estate, even to the sarcophagus itself, the unclosed frozen eyes, a motif used again again, Dream-Land, there the king hath forbid the uplifting of the fringed lid, the courtesy due a guest, a gauge, a measure of his suffering, drive home the jest, you’re joking with me, dressed in motley, a jester, Beatrice had seen, Romeo And Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, any use, the melting pot of dissolution, almost Lovecraftian, you asked what door, there are doors and doors dear, charming friend, close it now in my face, wither you have, the heavy heavy door of the Osiris, very cool story, so many layers, more notes from Connor, pretty much a reasonable person, to consummate their affair, juicy horror elements, without plot being committed, a reasonable person, your writing sucks, dude, a magician’s act, the whole dream is a magic trick, the stage assistant has not been sawn in half, a comparison between Beatrice and the dead princess, changed vs. unchanging, the dead princess, he can project all his stuff onto her, no, no I hate those, watching movies with his mummy bride, their all independently wealthy, take your stuff home to work with you, one story in Weird Tales, Sunfire, running out of Francis Stevens to read, alas!, three stories to go, The Thrill Book, Impulse, set in the Society Islands Of The South Pacific, how much we will enjoy this story, completely gone, Friend Island, make sure you keep a copy, and that’s that, evocative, stuff to say, Unseen—Unfeared, Google Books, one photo of Francis Stevens (unattributed), why she stopped, some falling out with her kid, alternative dates for her birth and death, changed her name again?, R.M. Burrows, with women its hard, Lovecraft’s name is unusual, we don’t quite have the technology yet, new stuff gets scanned, 1948 newspaper Washington, D.C., Book Club called The Outsiders, first order of business, write a stern letter to the government, Weird Tales was banned in Washington, D.C., “different stories”, like a television channel, “The Unique Magazine”, those misfits, the weird stories, this isn’t a science fiction story, its not even a fantasy story, a horror story, a Poe story, not following a particular set of tropes, why I like Francis Stevens.

Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens - Illustration by Virgil Finlay

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The SFFaudio Podcast #516 – READALONG: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #516 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Evan Lampe talk about The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Talked about on today’s show:
1920, serialized with wonderful illustrations, WWI, volunteer hospital dispensary, Cynthia, Dashiell Hammett, Dick worked in a repair shop, H.P. Lovecraft never left his house, the best selling novelist of all time, Shakespeare, pretty impressive, go back to the start, so polished, Sherlock Holmes, her first dog was named George Washington, Agatha Christie: surfer, her house was named Styles, her husband had an affair, she mysteriously disappeared, Curtain, the template for her later books, a court case, gathering everyone together in the library, Captain Hastings, his brother she kept in a basket, Oscar Wilde, interactive, written on a wager, the ideal detective story, what really made her reputation, what she’s created here is something people really liked, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, an intellectual game you play with yourself, Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, the novelized form of a game that can only be played between a reader and an author, a sudoku puzzle, “cosy” murders, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Choose Your Own Adventure books, props, the map of the house, the fragment of the will, play along at home, tremendously cool, an ahead of its time idea, Dell mapbacks, Avon mapback, a very American cover, Marilyn Monroe, the layout of styles, who’s lying, American hardboiled, so detached, emigres, the corrupt police department, everyone’s dirty, Raymond Chandler, a body, a motive, more escapist than fantasy literature, who killed this nice lady, who started this goddamned war that’s killing everybody, Bryan Alexander, it can’t but help talk about WWI, pro-war rallies, patriotic Belgian refugees, the rape of Belgium, an offer to write propaganda, unemployed uppercrust guys, Inspector Japp is not the right class, I much prefer the Belgies, aint your ordinary run of foreigners, noir books, James M. Cain, the murderers are the main characters, suspense, game-playing fantasy, if you could do anything after the war, I’d like to be a detective (like Sherlock Holmes), Jesse ruins the show, 15 Agatha Christies, read like popcorn, so relaxing, so untaxing, turn on my brain more, Chandler, the breakdowns of people’s lives and marriages, Hastings is sort of a flake, offers to marry the first lady who starts crying in front of him, an odd scene, someone might take you up on it, failed romance, the promise that made Agatha Christie very wealthy, there could be more of these adventures, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Miss Marple, problems from success, an outsider’s view of something very inside, Murder In Mesopotamia, Murder On The Orient Express, this is where Agatha Christie wrote, basing it on her own experience, losing money, murder for revenge, murder for love, murder for money, mostly money, Evelyn Howard, playing housemaid, a con-artist, American hardboiled evil characters, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the estate is a diner in California, the Howard and Inglethorp relationship, the intricacy of the plotting, double jeopardy, civics class, this cleverness, like a puzzle, The Simple Art Of Murder by Raymond Chandler, the authentic flavour of life, begging the question, a really long game, deeply embedded, impressively patient, on vacation in Dartmoor, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the isolated house, a convoluted plot to disinherit somebody, red herrings, almost efficient, legitimated, the spy, the escaped lunatic, thrown off the scent, not the way murders actually take place, the Khashoggi assassination, reading too many Agatha Christies, lured into an embassy, a hit team, a lot more grubby, Jesse wrecks the podcast again, real life murders, John Haigh, the next rung on the ladder, when bodies are dissolving, poison is her trademark, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, the American response to Christie and Holmes, “I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you all here”, the real murderer is revealed, the consulting detective, kinda strange, kinda weird, no matter where he goes people die, Miss Marple, Angela Lansbury’s Murder She Wrote, the most prolific serial killer, the title, all the mysterious affairs, Dorcas, Jonathan Fast, a strange SFy name, don’t write notes to your gf, they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for Poirot, an antecedent in Sherlock Holmes, leaning on an intellectual heavyweight, Hastings has his heart too much on his face, a vague suspicion of everything, the game is under foot, how self-aware this is, I’m a kind of literary detective, Tommy and Tuppence, this is a thing in this world, her second husband was an archaeologist, ahead of her time on the meta-stuff, more than 60 novels, Philip K. Dick had 40 novels, this drive to write, Stephen King’s legacy, Mr Jim Moon’s Stephen King shelves, back to King, The Running Man, The Long Walk, a straight-up metaphor for life, from the alien perspective, newsreel footage from the 1930s, wearing a hat, Our Dumb Century, “Man Ventures Outside Hatless”, sunglasses replaced hats, the fossil of a whole fleshed out society that existed, John Buchan, the politics, Belgian refugees, the Poirot TV show, a French detective, a detective has to have a quirk, McCloud, Cannon, Ironsides, quirks, a cup of hot chocolate to get the little grey cells working, an outsider who brings insight into the cases, tapping into the same thing Jane Austen does, closely observing society, classes, a close up focus, shared DNA, upper classes, seeing the dirty laundry, quaint and cozy, later books, the interwar years, a very static world, the way class works in England, hardboiled novels, a more liquid environment, you get to ignore class conflict and unions, inheritance, always on vacation, the investigation is into people’s character, whether Mr Darcy is a jerk, whether this man is suitable for marriage, an orphan who gets adopted, seven Belgians, the audio drama, her patriotic poem, go fight in the war and get killed, the Napoleonic wars, detachment makes them popular, an escape, her perspective, poisoning thousands (with her words), toured the world, staying at the Ritz, Jack London, send me to the worst part of town, The People Of The Abyss, those who don’t live off of the investments of their grandfather, the best selling novelist of all time is a woman, she’s the J.R.R. Tolkien of the mystery, Alfred Hitchcock, The Feminization Of American Culture by Ann Douglas, Mary Wollstonecraft, women should marry their friends, poetry is peacock feathers, “dude this will get you chicks”, a valuable skill, not our world, the amazing thing about humans is we’re not as visual as we think we are, we live in the world of words, Lovecraft’s spells, false realities, oral cultures, languages and literary traditions, a bookshelf is case of spellbooks, a certain kind of magic, the primary medium, music, idea based SF vs. cozy based mystery solving, politicize Dick’s works, the worst sin she commits, pure escapism, detached relationships, there’s a wall all the way through it, a big circle, skating along the perimeter, look for the things that aren’t there, children, all adult children, Hallowe’en Party, Mr Jim Moon’s Halloween researches, a wonderful childhood, the money went away, WWI pilot, a little too attractive, he’s too pretty, that famous disappearance, the darkest incident in a person’s life, public crisis, so guarded in her interview, the worst incident in Philip K. Dick’s life, the lowest point of people’s lives, a very very very famous writer, a fulfilling life, a life well led, the adaptations, Japanese mysteries, the audio drama vs. the TV adaptation, really well put together, seeing the mustache, whole mediums come in, Maissa’s audio drama video, a poolside infodump, Big Finish, the modern novel is showing some signs of wear, new technologies, a VR story industry, streamer media, Twitch, what the kids are doing, kind of like podcasting in realtime, celebrities, content creators, Deadmau5, Dr DisRespect, performing and talking, whatever medium in 50 or 60 years they’ll be doing documentaries about these people, not only for children, livestreaming, drawing, a new medium, magazines, what we imagined 2019 would be like, it was not this, the war is barely there in the book, adaptions play up the war, she plays down the war, The Mousetrap is excellent, a great sense of humour, everybody did it.

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #479 – READALONG: The Wolf-Leader by Alexandre Dumas

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #479 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon, and Maissa Bessada discuss The Wolf-Leader by Alexandre Dumas

Talked about on today’s show:
1857, 1904, 1950, August 1931 – March 1932, The Eyrie letters column, June 1932, a thrilling and fascinating story, weird novels, serials, a Weird Tales story, technically weird, the religious and technical werewolf, more folktale and fairytale, the Devil, The Devil And Daniel Webster, Mr Jim Moon’s werewolfery podcast series, a Faust story, it has wolves in it, lip service to the werewolfery, the frame, folk horror, a big black wolf, deal with the Devil, romantic farce, backfiring wishes, a solid ending, a folk story about an incel, in six weeks, blaming the world, Dumas and his lineage, prolific Dumas men, The Count Of Monte Cristo, the full unexpurgated version, not your typical French aristocrat, The Black Count by Tom Reiss, Dumas’ father was the General, married to his Haitian slave, general -> novelist -> playwright, the woman Dumas can’t remember very well is Marie, his black slave Haitian grandmother, Marie-Cessette Dumas, Dumas’ whole career is writing about his father, the background in history, before and after the French Revolution, a falling-out with Napoleon, wanting the lucky generals, a battle in Egypt, 20,000 Mamaluks killed, 26 French troops killed, a shitty bark, Malta, imprisoned Count Of Monte Cristo style, jealous friends, a false imprisonment, a revenge story, so cool, tarps and wily beasts, a good translation?, flowing beautifully, the unabridged version, Fritz Leiber, the introduction, a fictionalized account of a folktale, that weird little moment, this particular person as the hero, meta-commentary, the framing device, playing storyteller, did he shoot the werewolf?, the ending, dogs are fighting over a wolf-skin (not a wolf corpse), three ways to become a werewolf, cursed by god or the devil, an Arthurian knight, magic and witchcraft, donning a wolfskin, a werewolf possesses two skins (turned inside out), the An American Werewolf In London way (being bitten by a wolf or a rabid wolf), the Saga of the Volsungs, becoming an outlaw, turning on your fellow man, huddling under a wolfskin turns you against your fellow man, Thibault, quasi-redemption, did he escape death at the end?, being buried alive forever awake, swapping his life for hers, her soul was saved, a voice of thunder, a fresh and bleeding wolfskin, the skin of a werewolf, what had become of the body?, the former sabot maker, by reason of sacrifice and saved, a translation error?, how fair is that?, very Catholic, seen to come and pray beside her grave, he became a monk instead of a sex hound, that final sacrifice, incel sex hound becomes a monk, the horrors, people are so mean to him, his precious cup, rooting for Thibault, farce, cringing, Benny Hill with Werewolves, Restoration plays are all sex-farces, wrong place wrong time, hiding behind curtains, people of different classes trying to get it on, a math problem, only 17 wishes to get there, the grains on the chessboard, 130,000 hairs, chest hairs, pubic hairs, balding, comb-over, La Chasse Galerie aka The bewitched Canoe or The Flying Canoe for Reading, Short And Deep,swearing temporary allegiance to the Devil, a very nested story, fifty years before, taffy pull, running the Loup Garou, Quebecois French, a time warp, a kind of cheekiness, frozen in amber-ness, a retelling of The Wild Hunt, hunting the souls of the wicked, Odin, Herne the Hunter, a fascistic horror, how fascism works, join the witch hunt, an almost witch hunt, the teeth knocked out are his canines, the witch, the old molle, his mistress!, the bailiff’s wife, my gamekeeper’s got it into his head, this idiot thinks…, great wisdom, benightmared, so cheeky, dealing with superstitions, modern politics, send them on an errand for a fortnight, the most generous largehearted being the world, his tongue was like a windmill, a massive yarn out of a tiny little thread, wolf problems in 18th century France, Brotherhood Of The Wolf, unusual size and preternatural cunning, Beast of Gévaudan, a fifty year flashback, Maquet, referring back to hair, back and back in time, 90x80km, 210 attacks, partly eaten, the attacks continue, a wolf chain, the Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves, the devil walks in wolf form, a lion brought in from Africa, killing everything and anything, a pack of wolves?, what the beast really was, what is going on here?, the wolf’s revenge, rabies, rabid wolves, maybe it’s possessed of something else, Guy de Maupassant, the inheritor, the serial master, The Wolf aka The White Wolf, madness for hunting and acting like a savage beast, tales sanguinary, men against beasts, 1764, Lorraine, a bachelor for the love of the chase, lived only for that, immeasurably tall bony hairy violent and vigorous, two giants straddling their huge horses, brains dashed out, to bruise stones, he strangled it gently, look Jean!, like Gargantua at the birth of Pantagruel, he would have died content, the horror of the chase, he will be between my legs, a very Jordan Peterson scene, true from one end to the other, cruel and rude and terrible, a legacy from a real incident and a real fear, something primal, 15,000 years of domesticated dogs, wolves and bears, tigers, on a genetic level, a powerful and deep story that resonates, one day we might be prey again, The Grey, stalked by wolves, coyotes all around, a couple of meters away, who is predator who is prey?, don’t run, looking for weakness, can we take it?, dog aggression, Marissa was surrounded by coyotes, honest signals, springbok bouncing, Jesse kicked a black bear, Paul was hunted by a fox, Paul is not for eating, a lot of hunting and boozing and sexing (and failed sexing), the wine, little laugh out loud moments, the two grey-coated valets, drinking to the health of the Devil, crazy, I’ve been saved, taking the Lord’s name in vain, what really happened, a massive brawl, don’t take this religion stuff too seriously, the Devil is quaint or cute, wishes by accident, a passing thought, caught in adultery, a lot of evil, the General’s bedroom, a big axe in your hand, leader of the pack, a distinction between werewolf stories and running with the wolves story, Bluebook, August 1939, The Wolf Woman by H. Bedford-Jones, Shiva, no man, encircled or enscorcled, a racist story, well that was a terrible story, she harnesses the power of wolves, Werewolf By Night, Jack Russell, a human who commands a group of wolves, comics, Animal Man, Tarzan and his monkey pack, Sabor, Tantor, being raised by wolves, ancient Rome, Romulus and Remus, what is the lore of the werewolf story?, what appeals about this so much?, from the medieval period up to the 19th century, a very real fear, paranoia, werewolves in folk tales, modern Hollywood, The Wolf Man (1941), the right werewolf cocktail, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, part-time monster, only three nights a month, casting off humanity and casting off civilization, three meals away from barbarism, partial recipes, the two bullets, bullets marked with a cross, biting the bullets, bullets made of gold or silver, the exchange of rings, a marriage deal with the Devil, magic ring, The Lord Of The Rings ring, Thibault’s wolf, the sabot maker and whoever he’s trading with, the devil is not a guy, The Princess Bride, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Ladyhawke (1985), this is amazing, curses, swearing and cursing are synonyms, back in the day when people carried swords on their hips, no swearing, honour requires, profanity, their metaphors for disrespecting, boy problems, a great experience, The Three Musketeers, we’ve got to do some investigations, some crazy long book, Moby Dick, Warlock 2: Wrath Of The Exile, Noble Werewolves.

Strange Tales Of Mystery And Terror, January 1932

Wolves Of Darkness By Jack Williamson

Blue Book, August 1939

Marvel Premiere, 59, Werewolf By Night

Conan The Barbarian, 49

Posted by Jesse Willis

Protecting Project Pulp: The Opener Of The Way by Robert Bloch

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Opener Of The Way by Robert Bloch - Illustration by Virgil Finlay

Here’s a creepy tale by a then young disciple and contemporary of H.P. Lovecraft. Taking Egyptian mythology as his starting point Robert Bloch delivers a pretty good tale in the style of the master.

Protecting Project PulpProtecting Project Pulp No. 59 – The Opener Of The Way
By Robert Bloch; Read by Simon Hildebrandt.
1 |MP3| – Approx. 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Protecting Project Pulp
Podcast: September 9, 2013
A tremendous tale about the dread doom that overtook an archeologist in that forgotten tomb beneath the desert sands of Egypt. First published in Weird Tales, October 1936.

The titular appellation “The Opener Of The Way” has also recently turned attached to a monster named “Allabar” in the Dungeons & Dragons: Monster Manual 3 (which recommends you use it as a “climactic villain”). The TV Tropes entry “D&D Nightmare Fuel” describes this “monster” thusly:

And then there is Allabar, Opener of the Way, the first 4th Edition living star … instead of a face, imagine dozens upon dozens of unblinking eyes, as well as hundreds of rope-like “growths” around its “body.” Think the moon, when it’s nice and big and clear, so you can see all of the faultlines, valleys and craters. Now imagine every faultline and valley is a huge, thrashing tentacle, and every crater, from the biggest to the smallest, is a never-blinking eye. Imagine that floating in the sky above you at night. Staring at you. Hating you.

Allabar, The Opener Of The Way

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace GalaksiMaissa Bessada’s The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is very hard to tell you about. It’d be easy to say the show is just bonkers, but that’d give you the idea that it doesn’t work on a certain level that it really does. The plot is nonsensical, in the way that some of Philip K. Dick’s are. But If I said it was like a Philip K. Dick plot that’d give you absolutely the wrong idea. The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is far more like the Goon Show than PKD.

The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is naive, sharp, amateurish, polished, bizarre, insightful, childish, wise, ridiculous, and hilarious. I’ve been listening to the six half hour episodes over and over for the last three weeks and I still honestly don’t know exactly what to make of it or how even to really describe it – other than to say I like it a whole lot and I want Maissa Bessada to be my friend.

We may have to look at The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi as a kind of work of genius, something to marvel at, something to experience. There’s a kind of damn the torpedoes specificity to the details of this show that make it an impossible project to imagine got made. And yet here it is, like a very weird dream come alive, The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi seems to have come from an alternative universe.

But I don’t want to scare you off, it a weird experimental audio drama, in fact it’s pretty conventional, and first and foremost it’s a comedy. So let me invite you in.

Think of the great comedic audio dramas: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Scarifyers, Steve, The First or Dick Dynamo: The Fifth Dimensional Man.

You’d say yeah, it’s a comedy like those. But then I’d say to you that, unlike Hitchhiker’s, this one’s really zany! Zany on multiple levels. And that, unlike Scarifyers, this one’s a Science Fiction comedy, that it’s really not very much interested in how things are, as much as how they could be! There’s no periodicity to it. And that, unlike Steve, this one, though totally and utterly Canadian, is full of international flavouring! And unlike Dynamo, the titular character is the straight-man to the off-the-rails flowing crazy funny world.

The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is crazier than a patchwork quilt of all of those shows gliding through puffs of time and space.

And although they are really completely and wholly different in every possible way The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi reminded me most of was The Adventures of Sexton Blake. It’s not the word play, nor the lunatic pacing, it’s more the characters. And yet, the comparison still falls completely apart.

Indeed, the ears you need to appreciate The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi require you to throw out your basic assumptions. They require a paradigmatic shift within you, an unencumbered embrace of the unfamiliar and hilarious, a removal of expectations, an open mind.

The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is an audio drama that cares most about the weird story that it is weirdly telling. It’s really, really fun.

Here’s the official premise:

After a comet of unknown origin crashes through one of God’s recycling piles, a new planet, Traa Laa Laa, forms in the aftermath. Created from a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the beings on that planet have the ability to change shape. It is CSIS special agent Ace Galaksi’s destiny to discover that those shape-changing extraterrestrials have been visiting Earth since time immemorial – and that some of those visitors left artifacts behind. One of those artifacts is as small as a seventy million year old tennis ball, another as big as the great pyramid of Giza. Certain peculiarities about the artifacts lead Ace to some startling discoveries about the very nature of existence. Unfortunately Ace Galaksi’s destiny is unclear as to whether or not he’ll be able to stay ahead of world government plots to ensure he keeps his findings to himself – permanently.

Sez scripter Maissa Bessada:

“After completing the novel version of Ace Galaksi, I realized the work had great potential as an audio play. I re-wrote it as a series of scripts, hired several talented, highly versatile actors and a Juno award winning, retired CBC producer. The show was complete. Fantastic! For about a split – or as those of us with a sci-fi bent would have it – nano-second. Then I realized that having an entertaining, thought-provoking show online wasn’t the end of my work, it was only the beginning. The next challenge was finding an audience for it.

A few weeks ago I was introduced to your podcast. In one episode Scott said in passing, ‘The best audio drama is better than a movie.’ I stopped in my tracks. (I was listening while walking the dog) and told the dog and whatever squirrels and trees that would pay attention, ‘The best audio drama is better than a movie – I couldn’t agree more!’

I’d love for you guys to listen to my show. People that choose to enjoy sci-fi in an audio format – I feel like a stranger in a strange land who has finally found home.”

Teaser |MP3|

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3| Part 3 |MP3| Part 4 |MP3| Part 5 |MP3| Part 6 |MP3|

Podcast feed:

http://acegalaksi.libsyn.com/rss

Leave a comment, tell me what you think of this show.

Posted by Jesse Willis