The SFFaudio Podcast #687 – People Of The Black Circle by Robert E. Howard; read by Mark Nelson
This unabridged reading of the story (3 hours 34 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Trish E. Matson, Alex, and Connor Kaye.
Talked about on today’s show:
when “the”, Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, Savage Sword Of Conan adaptation, 116 page adaptation, feeling that text raw, the 1982 Conan movie is a really good movie, lifting a lot from this, it is all of the Howard stories, our counter hero is done with you now, spear through his gut, Thulsa Doom, come to me my child, the magic system, the snake transformation, The Frost Giant’s Daughter, Robert E. Howard’s Greatest Conan Story, what you like about Conan, political wheeling and dealing, how to make your writing better, the three ways of viewing movies, the auteur theory, the star theory, the genre theory, Poe copy, looking for Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane, more paid by the word than usual, rushing through it, broad strokes and hinting, Conan The Buccaneer by Lin Carter and Fritz Leiber, cool intrigue, when the Devi, really good chess movement, Planet Of Iron Shadows?, Iron Shadows In The Moon, pirates, how the story actually works, three adaptations, Ablaze’s French translation, Dark Horse, Marvel’s full SSOC adaptation, gorgeous, atmospheric, action panels, covered in veils and things, trades clothes with the hill woman, smoky mystic, half naked before and half naked again, Alfredo Alcala’s inks are unfinished, John Buscema’s pencil’s, rocks are beautiful, scales and turbans and clouds of dust, the decline in comics, what happened to comics, Ablaze is muddy looking, sorta manga style, when they get angry people go manga, his proportions are wrong, he looks like a mutant, a cartoon aesthetic, not enough nudity, butt and sideboob, her regression scene, one of the best scenes in all of Conan, Skull-Face, “I’ve kissed ladies from Hell”, so good, the shell of the story, the Devi is on a revenge quest, Conan is trying to be a leader, admitting responsibility towards his men, the mark of a leader, Queen Of The Black Coast is run by Belit, Yezdigerd, why all of this plot is happening, agents, Thoth Amon, the King of Turan, gaining the kingship not administering the kingdom, betraying and intriguing, the names, servants of the seers, a little carelessness, action, Conan is very Conan, stupid magic belt, Yasmina, Evan shares a lot of Trish’s views, political factions and relations, who is loyal to who, that really long climax, the transformation into the bird, the forces of sorcery, decadent empire and barbarism, the class element, Gitara, what is Gitara’s motivation to convert Green Turban, does she really love him?, I’ll make you king, outside of her powers, you’re a powerful man, he could have challenged me, both baddies, they’re both slaves, Howard is ambivalent about a lot of things Evan isn’t, smashing elites, the individual within a corrupt society, forge an empire of our own, you’re powerful and I’m tricky, an underdetermined character, a Great Game story, Iraqis, pre-Iraq, Afghulis, Iranistanis, what’s missing is he doesn’t get to fight a tiger, giant snakes, giant eagle, Conan is never really in India, Kull fights tigers, a wizard dressed up as a tiger, a book of essays about Robert E. Howard, real geography, Himalayas, the Zaibar Pass is the Khyber Pass, Afghanistan, an El Borak story with Conan, is Turan Persia or Turkey?, the Vilyaet Sea, the Aral Sea not the Black Sea, Iron Shadows In The Moon, mid northern asia border with Europe-ish, Buddhist evil priests, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, they’re from the Mysterious East, out of The Shadow, anti-Buddhists, a Fu Manchu style Buddhists, red dust and blue dusts, prayer wheels, a perfectly calm, Buddhist sash thing on his head, he’s a lich, a lecherous lich, catch the Devi, the genre vs. the medium, it feels like a serial but it isn’t a serial, Flash Gordon serials, lets make this longer, feeling the drag, Vale Of Lost Women cooks, the ending is pristine, I’ve still got men, the dog attacking a guy is there to fill pages, a bunch of challenges, a boss fight, that’s how you get paid, a D&D module, the belt of magical resistance, Conan doesn’t have a magic sword or a loyal horse, its wielded by Robert E. Howard, the “Atlantean sword” shit, Conan fights a giant magnet, Conan fighting a polar bear, Conan has to fight magic because its Weird Tales, the power of evil wizards moving the plot, you’re to stupid to know what it is: $250 vs. $50, four parallel characters, Yasmina’s vs. Gitara’s third eye (her Bindi), the loss of vocabulary is palpable, “lambent”, pages of no dialogue and no text, great, good, bad, and terrible all on one page, three shadows and a nightstand, elf-style ears and facial piercings, its a reveal he’s a lich, no I’m just a man but I command demons, the psychological torture of living through reincarnation cycles, she’s humbled, household drudgery, back beyond the dimmest dawn, skin clad, looms, dragged, the bite of the lash, the bloody block, Alfredo Alcala, Big John Buscema, are doing it without reference materials, two words for throw, he hurl throwed, Savage Sword was the Golden Age, Roy Thomas, Ernie Chan (Chua), a decline and a decline and a decline, we think it is the character that we like, hard to sell an El Borak story?, some bias against going to places and learning things, Thomas Jane, handsome actor, a local sidekick, demons and armies and the , The Fire Of Ashurbanipal, Steve Clarny, Swords Of Schaharazar, Hawks Of The Hills, The Lost Valley Of Iskander, lost valley trope, The Lost Valley, Temple Of Doom doesn’t exist without this story, guy has his heart ripped out, modeled on the movies, some ladies in the jungle, snake footage, magic items in the bible, an excuse to go to India and China, visiting a place but not as tourists, the gross out scenes, presented with food that you can’t eat, Stephen Spielberg’s ex-wife is the kid character, Short Round is our viewpoint Mary Sue, the stupid and the smart the cool and the uncool, pairing Conan up with a bunch of regulars, Crom is a repeating character, why Evan is having trouble finding something to say, Howard’s philosophy is not intellectual as it is honorable, when confronted with the problem of her clothes are on, a man should kill a woman if she’s too dangerous, slaps her on the butt and she accepts it as a complicated, doing the monkey dance, how do I as an individual interact with the world, why Yasmina is such a good character, the Conan Destroyer princess, human beings acting in the world, when Green Turban refuses to die, you get him for me, ate his salt, Solomon Kane is insane and there are no demons (but he’s doing his best), I guess I have to use this magic staff, why these weird plots happen, doomed hirelings, they’re fucked and they know it, coming away with a philosophy of what his ideas are, how to live in the world in the moment, his feminist moment, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as to Yasmina, a classist person, not thrilled to be slapped on the butt, an appreciation not a denigration, not a fan of royalty, The Hour Of The Dragon, Xaltotun is the best villain, plans, give me your horse and I’ll save you, we can’t get married, chief of the guard, there are customs, we’ll work it out, I have a very nice harem you can be a part of, she literally kills him, horrible childbirths in her retrogression, silly putty, she knew the agonizes of childbirth, Solitude Of Self, individual struggle with nature that women experience but men don’t, Russian roulette, Robert E. Howard is not wedded to Conan the way we are, the last set of stories were Conan tales, had he lived, classifying his stories by character, that poem is really hot (or rough), Delenda Est by Robert E. Howard, the star is the important thing, the new Dune half movie, a bunch of models, Dark Horse, people standing in scenic locations, no text scrawl, no banquet scene, the beats of the action, it doesn’t capture what is the story, the monster beats, Robert e. Howard philosophy infodumps, the descriptions, C.L.A.I.M.: Character Language Allusion Imagery Message, what is the message of the new Dune movie, Sardukar complaining about things, explaining the weirding way in a film, transmuting poison in your body, showing buffed up people, who wants to do a Conan story vs. who wants to do a Robert E. Howard story, thinking of the setting and the setup, marketing purposes, scenes, ideas, and philosophy too, a princess who has been captured by a cult, Thulsa Doom’s cult, Red Nails, Valeria, mostly Belit, The Tower Of The Elephant, Oliver Stone and John Milius, to string the plot together, the weirding modules in the first Dune (1984) movie, Conan isn’t a character in the stories as much as they are stories with Conan in them, a backstory, an unhappy brooding king, By This Axe I Rule, tidbit of philosophy, listen to the philosophers, he kills the judge, trying to connect all the stories together, they don’t really understand, it isn’t just swords and giant snakes, an individual with an unhelpful god, treat it like an auteur rather than a star, Quentin Tarantino movies in different genres, telling yarns, the fun action adventure stuff, an idea somewhere in it, how to relate to women, he likes hot women, rape and threats of rape, how to relate to the weaker sex, be a man about it, the barbarian from outside, the savage vs. the barbarian, his own code, the distinction Lovecraft didn’t get, he’s the Jordan Peterson of Weird Tales, a moral code, a set of attitudes, what is, a magic system, hypnotism, a set of tricks that they work, an illusion?, a lock of hair, autosuggestion, he’s not as afraid of them, magic works on success, D&D rolling a 1, illusionists, the dog outside of the temple eating the offal, he is defeatable, becoming an eagle, we needed a tiger, fingernails, how witches work in the real world, my penis doesn’t work anymore, somebody’s balls swelled up, superstition makes you more superstitious, people are suggestible, your milk goes sour, they can kill the king with a lock of his hair (when the stars are right), his cortisol levels are high, fleeing the village, Khemsha, stampeded by Conan’s horse, his magic doesn’t matter, stepped on by a horse, a knife is a hardy incantation, hey Gitara how do you like that ride on our air horse?, cloud things, whirling dervishes, Paul got his 3rd shot, Gibraltar has 130% vaccination and full of COVID, like a magic charm, if we are to believe the science, sympathetic magic, why things happen as they do, really ugly, an earthquake in Haiti is punishment from God, magical thinking vs. Jack Vance style spells, propaganda techniques, the Lisan al Gaib, fighting the unbelievable, his muscles are bigger, beginner’s luck, confidence in the steel, the riddle of steel, the hand that wields the steel, only this you can trust, surrogate dad (James Earl Jones), so deluded, the real magic, women going through the streets of England putting white feathers on men during WWI, an attitude as well as knowledge, be an empiricist vs. be a rationalist, spinning up bullshit, Plato, the gold blooded and the silver and the bronze, this person is a natural slave, a natural leader, what makes the Devi divine is that her dad was the Rajah, Yasmina Devi, Genghis Khan, a backwards translation, through myth and 10,000 years she’s a goddess now, revenge is her god, the audiobook is a bit hard to follow, what all the factions were and what they wanted, a slow story, the middle section, people reading this in the 1930s knew what lambent is, H. Rider Haggard, we’ve become illiterate, the minimalist and conversational style, for a low class culture, mass market, people loved it, Savage Sword has awesome vocab on every page, we know she’s sad and worried about her son because she’s crying, we need big chunks of text, narration in movies is good, trying to explain a complex, know then it is the year 10,191, plans within plans wheels within wheels, just read the book, the ornithopters are better, they should have been birds not dragonflies, the ornithopter looked like a hawk, so forgettable, the fur diaper, neat and not tattered, he brushed his fur diaper that day, not in league with the devil, Kevin Sorbo’s Kull movie, Red Sonja (1985), supposed to be a comedy, fantastic bad, that scene is in here, Evan’s podcast, the Robert E. Howard Lovecraft letters, Pigeons From Hell was adapted for Thriller, stars two white guys, a black legend (folk tale), sleeping in an old plantation house, interesting revenge (symbolically), more pathos to that story, Hansel And Gretel has a sense, people were acting badly, Almuric, one big chunk, restricted zone, some time next year, Klim’s Journey Under The Ground, in the 18th century twice, Caleb Williams by William Godwin, The Goddess Of Atvatabar, The Midwich Cuckoos, The Pre-Persons by Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein’s boy scouts gone wrong in space, revelry, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, Connor doesn’t live on twitter, deep and rich, lemmee give you this magic belt made from Stygian lady’s hair, Alex’s ancestor was convicted of witchcraft in New France, cursed her womb by cutting a piece of her hair off, convicted and exiled, killed by Indians, 12 more kids, 11 kids, he might have actually been a witch, Alex’s last name is “Lich”, in the family archives, a convicted witch, Joan Of Arc, what a jerk, villains in Alex’s family, When Time Turned by Ethel Watts Mumford, like Back To The Future without a Delorean, The Clock That Went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell, Reading, Short And Deep, set in the Netherlands, written disposably, half of Wisconsin, really well written, a historical siege scene, all the tropes (from 1881), Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle, The Ganymede Takeover, Benjamin Franklin, The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester, WWII and boxing journalism, Henry James, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary, trying to make it hard for you to understand, An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge, the Civil War, Stephen Crane, Walt Whitman, make bank, Jack London, Herman Melville, lunchtime upside down, Solomon’s Gold, overwhelmed with work, a month on Egypt, classroom management, the students disrespect Evan, dig into their computer, insane coworkers, Evan can’t out himself as a freak (yet), Ancient Egypt, bad textbook, Kufu was a cruel pharaoh, the poor didn’t need mummification because they were buried in shallow graves, its not a work of love, Works Progress Administration, I’ve been told that Biden is the new FDR, Walker Evans taking photographs of people working in Walmart and living in the vans, New Deal money putting artists and musicians to work, all the bridges were built in the 1930s, interviewing former slaves, giving money to rich people, the vaccine mandate is exactly that, government research money, an NFT game, blockchain, “we got funded”, it sounds like a scam, web 2.0 was a scam, Pets.com, why Elon Musk is so rich, Bezos sells servers to the US government, planting the seeds, omicron variant, Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick, booster shots in perpetuity, fear moves money better than anything else, you can’t mandate, a healthy response, the weird nanny state in Taiwan, the pet industry, pet nannies, licensing pet nannies, I’m an unlicensed pet nanny, you need the barbarians to sweep in, wipe away (some) of the old, clean up your own room (style of thinking) vs. communism will solve all our problems, these emerging men, you need to get your house in order, stupid when off topic smart when on topic, trad dads, interpreting the bible, funny Bible stories, a book of fairy tales, Howard is highly influenced by the Bible, The Song Of Solomon, three volumes with big print.
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