The SFFaudio Podcast #467 – Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (14 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show:
A Tale Of Fear, Weird Tales, October 1938, Frank Belknap Long, Who Fears the Devil, Silver John, proto-hippy wandering balladeer, the Lovecraft circle, The Werewolf Snarls, so short, an odd ending for a Weird Tales story, anthologies of horror, feeling familiar, the fears of a ten year old boy, manufacturing a memory, weird dreams, false echoings, lucid dreaming, that wasn’t real, The Thing In The Cellar by David H. Keller, A Message From The Pig-man by John Wain, the short film, short films on Netflix, calling card, is he actually an orphan?, local politics, he wants to be a deep sea diver, the Encyclopedia Britannica, a thing, two things going on, a monster, see it and feel it, looking for something to read, the suspense, strange ideas, still living your life, comic books, It by Stephen King, Summer Of Fear by Dan Simmons, no one listens to me, tension, having to man up, a heavy handed symbol for a coming of age, page 494, night after night, week after week, the thing and its fear, mid-summer, it did not wait, he can’t put it off anymore, weird psychology, a symmetry, Marissa, [The THING] Up Under The Roof, John Carpenter’s The Thing, it and them and they, the first hook, get fire, face the fear that’s in there, like a pirate, he shuffles around, his imagination is really what the thing is, there’s absolutely no monster, conjured by imagination, a true story, the last two paragraphs, “I found nothing.”, the had been something, mortal peril, sleeping soundly, not even in the war, WWI, going over the top, the lurking dread, Wonder Woman (2017), the worst war for scariness, Doctor Who, The War Games, Genesis Of The Daleks, Forgotten Weapons, Skaro, the mutations, the Kaleds, what happened to Davros?, moral degeneration, the slave system, V2 slave labour, Sarah Jane Smith, a heavy dose of radiation, starved of oxygen, digging up old stuff, special effect and in the moment, Radio 4, Wrath Of The Iceni, Energy Of The Daleks, Trail Of The White Worm, Leela, in facing it he dispelled it, facing fears, is the creature real real?, sometimes stories just work, 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg, horror, dread, other dwellers, a terrible beating, pulping my face, tongue-lashed, scolded, no one can help him, Great Depression era orphans, Dickensian, an orphanage?, we sympathize, he’s a reader, the downstairs parlour was Heaven, Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia, hating school, a die-hard reader, aardvark, amoeba, sounded as an amoeba looks, rolling and flowing, scared himself, ceiling cat, reversing the horror of his life, a power story, Jung or a Jungian disciple, ‘angels monster gods and demons may not exist but the human mind behaves as if they do’, wonderfully evocative, wrong-footing your perception, when it comes down, it would wait no longer, it would flow, bullies, if you’re fearless it works to your advantage, creep into bed with me, a cold dog who wants to snuggle up, what colour it was, almost sexual?, crossing a line, scared in bed, sticking your head under the blankets, totemic blankets, something primal, cocooning yourself away, I care not for your blanket protection small child, school shootings, arm the teachers, giving bullet-proof blankets to children, a beautiful metaphor: a cold determination came like new sawdust poured into an empty doll, like Gepetto’s puppet (Pinocchio), this is what made me, what was necessary, a character defining moment, like a pirate’s dirk, deeper into the darkness, clearing the whole space, he becomes the thing, a horror show, he made it!, so freaky, a reversal, he’s under the microscope, it can see him but he can’t see it, very Dungeons & Dragons, Lurkers Above, Grey Oozes, Gelatinous Cube, you gotta clean the dungeon somehow, a power play, mirrors, there’s something down there, a moment of contact, if I’m dead anyway, Wellman’s biography, moving around, suggesting how someone’s life will go, trained for the law or the ministry, an adventurer, deep-sea diver is kind of like astronaut, making your own way, old books, commercial divers, the bad guys in Scooby-Doo episodes with big brass helmets.
The SFFaudio Podcast #466 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa, talk about Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
Talked about on today’s show:
clones, doppelgangers, eidolons, 2014, the 2018 movie, gifting the book, Finch, City Of Saints And Madmen, new weirdness, The New Weird, The Weird, appreciating the book, appreciating the movie, understanding why people talk about the book and the movie the way they do, justifying their ratings, framing it wrong, the Wikipedia entry, The New Yorker, Area X as a hyperobject, Paul would know, big dumb object, Ringworld, Rama, going into it and experiencing it, the original and the interpretation, what?!!?, better experienced as audiobook, the cool thing about the audio version (it is ephemeral), you can’t skip or skim sex scenes, a dream like quality to the words, pronunciation, how things read on the page, The Man Who Japed, juveniles = Juvenal(s), fucking with the reader by changing the text in a kind of fungal growth, experimental, fairly successful, not easily digestible, the book is a manifestation of Area X itself, screwing with the readers’ heads, Alex Garland, seeing the movie first and then reading the book, Blade Runner: 2049, the theater experience, the painful trauma of childbirth, Sunshine, a science fiction movie that doesn’t care about science at all, Ex Machina, nuking the sun back into starting?, the metaphor for Sunshine, not a good idea for a movie, Solar Crisis (1990), Hard Sun, doing good things with bad ideas, not a perfect movie, interpretation, we can’t do that, narrator, from an internal point of view, a kind of version, inspired by, the book is all about words, no big piles of documents to read, The Man In the High Castle show, pointing to something without saying what it is, an art film for a mainstream audience, Andrei Tarkovsky, expectations, characters with names, outside of Area X, setting expectations, imagine its a different expedition, the tower the tunnel, Steen, what do you remember about it?, it’s “this kind of book”, no proper nouns in the whole book, signposts on your journey, taking down all the signposts, a sign there’s no signposts, an initial “S”, Ghostbird, Area 51, a word you use in place of a word, Operation Overlord, H-Hour, D-Day, designed to prevent you from knowing, in the mode, shift gears, losing your spot, so dreamlike, hypnotic, hypnosis, as a trope, hypnosis was huge in Science Fiction for decades, not a Science Fiction book, who likes this book, literary fiction, very lit-fic, horror elements, weird fiction, a reworking of The Willows, inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Supernatural Horror In Literature, something more than secret murder and bloody bones, a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer unknown forces, the assaults of chaos and the demons of unplumbed space, an attack on the fixed laws of nature, a wrinkle in reality, what’s it like to experience that, if you squint a little bit, a metaphor for the scientific process, scientists, AR-15 or M-16s, a nod back to the book, everybody has one, the same uniform, a military expedition but twisted in a certain sense, the second and third books, cancer as a motivation, the disintegrating marriage, having an affair, pathetic and sad, set a little bit into the future, any evidence that it is set into the future, everything in the book is completely without specificity, he went through it with a comb and took away information, the word Lovecraft loves to use “certain”, a great adjective, the pig creature is a bear in the movie, Vietnam War upside down and inside out, the biologist is in love with the swimming pool, the characters in the film are cannon fodder, the conversation in the boat, taking away the centrality of character, a framing story, Benedict Wong, the tie-up scene, her fingerprints are moving, a lift from The Thing (1982), paranoia and suspicion, really bullshit, they’re all on Xanax, passion about biology and ecosystems, we only see the Xanaxed version on the characters in the film, we don’t see what the love, sympathy isn’t enough, evoking place, the black pine forest, a derelict lighthouse, untroubled landscape, Florida or the Georgia coast, filmed in England, cool ideas, Southern Reach, SR, an institution, two things that don’t tell you what they are, the same time zone, a lack of specificity,
“After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marshes.”
the crawler, the thing without the name, the Swede, the narrator’s name, as if he is in the room, utterly transformed, just that, I am not returning home,
“See,” he said quietly, “the victim that made our escape possible!”
And when I peered across his shoulder I saw that his stick rested on the body of a man. He turned it over. It was the corpse of a peasant, and the face was hidden in the sand. Clearly the man had been drowned, but a few hours before, and his body must have been swept down upon our island somewhere about the hour of the dawn—at the very time the fit had passed.
“We must give it a decent burial, you know.”
“I suppose so,” I replied. I shuddered a little in spite of myself, for there was something about the appearance of that poor drowned man that turned me cold.
The Swede glanced up sharply at me, an undecipherable expression on his face, and began clambering down the bank. I followed him more leisurely. The current, I noticed, had torn away much of the clothing from the body, so that the neck and part of the chest lay bare.
Halfway down the bank my companion suddenly stopped and held up his hand in warning; but either my foot slipped, or I had gained too much momentum to bring myself quickly to a halt, for I bumped into him and sent him forward with a sort of leap to save himself. We tumbled together on to the hard sand so that our feet splashed into the water. And, before anything could be done, we had collided a little heavily against the corpse.
The Swede uttered a sharp cry. And I sprang back as if I had been shot.
At the moment we touched the body there rose from its surface the loud sound of humming—the sound of several hummings—which passed with a vast commotion as of winged things in the air about us and disappeared upwards into the sky, growing fainter and fainter till they finally ceased in the distance. It was exactly as though we had disturbed some living yet invisible creatures at work.
My companion clutched me, and I think I clutched him, but before either of us had time properly to recover from the unexpected shock, we saw that a movement of the current was turning the corpse round so that it became released from the grip of the willow roots. A moment later it had turned completely over, the dead face uppermost, staring at the sky. It lay on the edge of the main stream. In another moment it would be swept away.
The Swede started to save it, shouting again something I did not catch about a “proper burial”—and then abruptly dropped upon his knees on the sand and covered his eyes with his hands. I was beside him in an instant.
I saw what he had seen.
For just as the body swung round to the current the face and the exposed chest turned full towards us, and showed plainly how the skin and flesh were indented with small hollows, beautifully formed, and exactly similar in shape and kind to the sand-funnels that we had found all over the island.
“Their mark!” I heard my companion mutter under his breath. “Their awful mark!”
And when I turned my eyes again from his ghastly face to the river, the current had done its work, and the body had been swept away into mid-stream and was already beyond our reach and almost out of sight, turning over and over on the waves like an otter.
all the evidence is gone, the explanation in the movie is as much The Colour Out Of Space as it is the novel Annihilation, 12 expeditions, the shimmer is gone, possibilities, the asteroid, something extraterrestrial struck the lighthouse, the “S” word, he’s not her husband, he’s the duplicate, the shimmer in the eyes, more subtle, the thing he’s doing, a comet, meteorite, dwarf planets and planets, Ceres, a meteorite vs. comet, the object is white, aiming at something, the earth is a giant egg and the comet is a sperm, a tunnel and tower, slipping into Eric Rabkin mode, designed to be seen in the unconsciousness (if not the consciousnesses), a tunnel and a tower, becoming a being, fungus all over the walls is white, cell division, an egg developing into a person, cancer, ovarian cancer, the all women cast!, what is it like to have a being growing inside of you that is a mutation of you, the childless relationship, off to fight in Pakistan again, reunited, the happy ending is a new beginning, isn’t pregnancy scary, the real immortality cells can have, cancer vs. a baby, kinds of immortality, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the film works at what it’s doing, the movie is a prism for the book, a very filmic version of the book, it couldn’t be an audio drama, very very very metaphorical, a comic book version, in the backgrounds, Alex Garland’s story, the words scrawled in the tower/tunnel,
“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dimlit halls of other places forms that never were and never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who never saw what could have been. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit—and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive. And there shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy from which shall blossom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passing of an age. That which dies shall still know life in death for all that decays is not forgotten and reanimated it shall walk the world in the bliss of not-knowing. And then there shall be a fire that knows the naming of you, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you that remains.”
dreamlike biblical word salad, going to that church, its just weird, negative reviews of the book, you’re never going to get an explanation, very meta, the narration is unreliable, or the universe is unreliable, she’s in a coma, none of this is happening, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Providence, seeing sexuality in everything, Rapunzel is only a sex story, hair growth like plant growth, a retelling of the Garden of Eden, underneath a lot of stuff is sex, about the cosmic, makes Jesse sad, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, a big stream of white cats up to the Moon, a sex dream, once you start looking, what it makes us different from rocks, the formation of rocks, we can’t compare ourselves to electrons, not mammal sex, why that weird world salad sentence, a tunnel, spiraling, a helix, just words, words are magic in the same way that genes are magic, let’s write some words, what does it mean?, certain coding, creating and casting a spell, speech-writing, amino acids into creatures who build and use firetrucks, this is literally Marissa’s job, where the spell is breaking, a piece of tape, seeing the book as a text in reference to texts and weird fiction, the word “thing”, that’s why the word shows up in so many weird fiction stories, uncanny horror, between fantasy and science fiction, body horror, Re-Animator, coming back to life as parts, seeing those fruiting bodies on the dead corpses, let’s take some samples, guts fall out, the more Marissa learns about biology the more grossed out she gets, designed to, very very movie, intestines, fear, scary gross out scene, Aliens (1986), the perfect film movie for what it is, taking certain aspects of Alien and amps them up, Terminator 2 is a remake of Terminator, Hudson becomes the hero, switching over to science mode, horror mode, you’re allowed to switch around as much as you want, why so many love it and hate it, contamination story, pregnancy story, creeping dread, taking all that potential out, taking it as it is, watch the movies first, preferring the text, reading the subtitles, as a film the characters are Xanaxed humans, placing themselves in our reality, are you polishing your Pashtun?, grounding, the Southern Reach is a metaphor for the continual war on terror?, 17 years in, he should have made it a real art film, unrelatable, are we all 12 years old?, being talked down to, people on CNN, everything that isn’t set in the shimmer hurts the film, the environmental disaster, a military screw up, Stephen King (The Mist), angry at the movie, a slow creeping dread, so disappointing, the plants that look like people, the twinned dears with flower antlers, very excellent language, the hints about the journals, this is all in a journal, that’s the moment they knew the most, are they losing information, we start with more information, if you re-edited the film, we all lost time, this is the afterlife, this is dream state, if I was religious I would read everything that way, the pool, the pond, tower tunnel, how her husband was traumatized by something in childhood and it was a film, the shownotes for the Altered Carbon show, how memory works, how important childhood memory is for laying your personality down, what memories are even real, that was a different person, the crisis actor thing, misremembered, .005% error margin, interrupting an attempted murder, strangling and cover in blood, missing limbs, the screaming thing in the bushes, self-reinforcing, the spiral of words, in 10 or 20 years, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, an agency in dysfunction, Kafkaesque, so mundane, The Castle, in second person, sudden jarring cries, dripping out, the, the movie poster’s tagline “fear what’s inside”, psychological head-space fear, flowers sprouting from her arms, the better parts of the film, filmic explanation, the anthropologist in the tunnel/tower, the psychologist, did she lie?, that’s a story, the story doesn’t make sense as a straight up story, hypnosis as used in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, very science fictional, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, [Jesse has already done a show on it], a decent movie and an even more interesting book, Marissa wants Jesse to read the sequels, a marketing gimmick, readings for podcasts, revisiting as a concept, three big pieces of a puzzle, what’s wrong with the word “spoiler” is the word has the opposite meaning (for Jesse), knowing more makes Jesse more interested, the lady goes off in a boat (maybe), and leave her journal behind (maybe), it would be much better as a found footage movie shot on videotape, shaky-cam, The Ritual (2017), four guys go out for a hike in the woods, a psychological haunting that happens, not being able to act, the psychology works amazingly better, Norse mythology, a hike movie (!) Marissa’s in!, Swedish mountains, we’ve been completely destroyed, why is called Annihilation?, special pleading, “nihil” means nothing and “a” means not – annihilation is a nothing of a nothing, titles are important, the trigger word, The Slithering Shadow by Robert A. Howard, something to talk about over beers, having something to do is really important in a world with no meaning, Jesse has nothing in common with his students, the only thing we really share is the text, before and after class, having that ritual of three interesting things, Matchstick Men, there’s no heaven, try to get through it until the cancer comes, less Xanax more coffee, The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson, a becalment, do you have any food, a ship covered in fungus, an island covered in fungus, eating the fungus, becoming the fungus, the pool body,
The SFFaudio Podcast #230 – The Red Room by H.G. Wells, read by Simon Vance. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Luke Burrage, Bryan Alexander, and Simon Vance.
The Red Room (aka The Ghost Of Fear) was first published in The Idler, March 1896.
Talked about on today’s show:
Are there any supernatural elements in The Red Room?, what is the genre of this story?, Gothic Fiction, a deconstruction of the gothic, the ultimate psychological horror story, the apparatus of gothic horror, a psychoanalysis of horror, what we do to ourselves, we scare ourselves, the scary clothes horse, “as long as this house of sin endures”, what happened to the candles, Luke’s theory, what is the sin?, the old people, bad candles?, trick candles?, a Scooby Doo interpretation of the story?, coincidence, how reliable is the narrator?, the origins of the horror are in a fake scare, the changing description of the men, distorted and crouching, the man with the shade, shadow?, ghost?, a blue phial, a green shade, a story of generational transfer, the rising generation of science, the significance of the narrator’s age (28 years), what’s up with the gun?, an impossible sturdiness, the unknowableness of your own mind, the final word – or is it?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Eric S. Rabkin, an evil relationship, Ganymede with an eagle (Zeus), cup-bearer is a euphemism, does the Chinaman statuary represent the Yellow Peril?, clothing fashioned in dead brains, the generational interpretation, the grotesque, why not three norns?, the three disabilities, a tremendous tremor, 150% spillage, a mocking shadow, a pro-science story, fire = knowledge, the light of science, the return of ignorance with the return of darkness, why is the narrator there?, is this a Hound Of The Baskervilles situation, the previous tenant, the glass before the fire, the three mirrors, Mise en abyme, “your own choosing”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Houdini, what side in the public debate of new spiritualism, it felt modern to Luke, The Pit And The Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, Dracula is a contemporary of The Red Room, the subterranean passage, Eric is a big Freudian, a meticulous forensic analytic description, this isn’t Mulder this is Scully, Simon Vance has voiced Dracula twice, Fangland (a modern 60 Minutes style retelling of Dracula), updates to Dracula, The Dracula Tapes, The Stone Tape (1972), byte by byte, Nigel Kneale, The Quatermass Experiment, Lorraine Castle, generic European castle, skeptics haunted by a ghost that isn’t a ghost, a modern Gothic horror story, is it the carbon monoxide coming off the fungus?, the stone as a medium, solid state recording, a scientific explanation, a Lovecraftian pre-human recording, it may not be need to be remade, Quentin Tarantino remakes bad movies as a good movies, haunted digital media, Alien, MOTHER is basically HAL, Demon Seed, the anti-Japaneses bias as a more modern Yellow Peril, the medium of the tale, the staircase, “it’s not there’s nothing there”, the good-time gal, the wrong interpretation, The Crawling Chaos by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred V. Jackson, becoming lost in your own head, he brought the ghost into the room, spirits as ghosts, why is it a red room?, red in the flames, it’s like the grate is a prison, a slick tunnel to the red room, a womb like room, a beige room, Ash spurting sperm everywhere, a haunted castle in space, Alien as the opposite of Star Wars, the science hero angle, gothic explique, teasing out a Gothic reading, in medias res, Freudian spaces, on this night of all nights, its like their casting a spell, is he a journalist?, Simon thinks the narrator is the new owner, Christopher Priest, The Prestige, why Christopher Priest is not as popular as he should be, his head and his lips are bloody, a bashed face, The Door In The Wall by H.G. Wells, is the story open, Luke is skeptical about the openness and the double blooding, belying the begrudgement, the curious escape,”H.G. Wells is a genius writer”, The War Of The Worlds from the alien perspective, Little Wars, “a heavy blow at last upon my forehead”, an almost 2nd person POV shift, “global warming is a fake”, the haunted man not the haunted room, Gene Wolfe, gothic markers, Henry James, Boon, the judgements of history, Wells’ agenda, The Time Machine, The Chronic Argonauts, horrific jellyfish and rabbits, nameless characters, minimal information, the Wells-Wolfe connection, The Shadow Of The Torturer, the always unreliable narrator, Understanding Comics by Scott Mccloud, Hello Kitty, part of the appeal of the Twilight books is in how badly drawn Bella is, inviting blankness, Things To Come.
It’s a pretty great story, so you can see why it would be, but with its popularity comes a flood of different free readings, most not so great. Which is why I was so pleased to find this free version by the great Grover Gardner. Goodness!