The SFFaudio Podcast #471 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #471 – Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (21 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:
the proper pronunciation of Machen, Arthur Llewellyn Jones, Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman, apprentice journalist, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, The Lost Club, Reading, Short And Deep, identicals, a Hellfire Club, a big scary black book, never heard from again, a very weird story, truly as the first weird fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, cosmicism, Mr Weird, H.P. Lovecraft, “it is this”, M.R. James, bedrock authors, Machen lived this stuff, a real-life magical society, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, W.B. Yates, a genuine mystic, landscape, in the modern world people see things on the surface and don’t apprehend the meaning, meta narrative, the interior story, so deeply framed, so nested, the hoopla surrounding The Bowmen, it’s not the story, the story is not the story, the story is the effect of the story, embarrassed by the story, a disappointment, surprisingly funny, a bit of whimsy, the early weeks of WWI, a ray of hope, taken as a genuine report from the front line, the Angel of the Mons, fighting the tide, how rumours take hold without any evidence, “snow on your boots”, reading it a straight up, a weird meta-fiction, pre-Borges, this sounds familiar, so popular, side projects, tales, stories, a meme, fascinating, how many Machens?, not a good story, T.P.’s Weekly, November 22nd, 1915, the retreat from Mons (August 1914), September 1914, six months later, weird podcasts, Tin Foil Hat Podcast, part of being an adult is being interested in the truth, conspiracy, half of capitalism, Clinton and Pizzagate, really fucked up things going on in government, punishment for plebs, a Clinton, New York child sex scandal, in the memory, it couldn’t be killed, all the letters Machen got, death threats, bottom up stories and top down stories, Russia! Russia! Russia!, collaborating or colluding, a conspiracy theorist, the person who testified who can’t be found, the Russian rumor, reports of Russian troops seen in Britain, a plague of spies, Cossacks at train stations heading south, a huge flap, a third myth, the Rape of Belgium, a rumour among German troops, resisting the invasion, buckets full of eyes, necklaces of German soldiers’ eyeballs, breasts cut off, every conceivable atrocity, a British censor on war time reports, the liars did very well, James Hayward’s Myths And Legends Of The First World War, German corpse factories, “the vile Hun”, fake news, the horrible little children, the Edwardian equivalent of the internet, into the papers in a round about fashion, how the nature of rumor and myth begins, transmitted in times of uncertainty and trouble, official news sources, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, they’re all correct, CIA infiltration of news agency [and MI5 screening of BBC], a lack of news, filling the gap with whatever they can find, the whole Russia story, 13 Russian trolls, Facebook ads, “the big gotcha moment”, the Internet Research Agency, in the business of trolling (for money), fake accounts, we have these rubes, for commercial purposes, Trump somehow helped the Russians hack the DNC servers?, borders mean nothing to the ultra-rich, puppets, Bernie-bro,

“army recruiters reported problems in explaining the origins of [WWI] in legalistic terms” hence an evolution in tactics, or different tactics for different classes, or the intellectual vs. the visceral

posters from 1914 and 1918

Seventy years ago your great-grandfathers and their great-grandfathers signed a document that made certain guarantees about Belgium’s neutrality.

vs.

Remember when the Germans raped their way through Belgium

this was Pearl Harbor!, why this story is so relevant, the thing that is the story, a powerful point about war, Morgan the childlike man, Castle Coch, the Red Keep, read about Belgium, and think they could haven been more than five or six years old, they were to ear what slime is to the touch, blasphemies struck like blows, a swarm of noise-some creatures, children with old men’s faces, one paragraph, Morgan to dream of Avalon, to purge himself of the fuming corruption of the streets, is this a true story?, places that are deprived and poor, the underwolves, super-predators, the Central Park five, seven fold increase in prison population, harvesting slaves, whatever new drug it is, top down or bottom up, moral panics, juvenile delinquents, hoodies, chavs, thuggish people, picked up by politicians, class war, welfare is for crack and knives, mainstream news, rock and roll, Beatles records, video nasties, horror comics, Dungeons & Dragons, video game violence, Trayvon Martin, manipulate the facts, the funny children, is Machen starting another story?, this is how I make this stuff up, the myth of the JD (juvenile delinquent), teddy boys, rockers, mods, a Bank Holiday British tradition, Quadrophenia, arguments about-for-and-against education, bad seeds, evil children, The Midwich Cuckoos, teenage hoodlums, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, free rides, sticking it to the man, sense of power, community centers, midnight basketball, psychology, the irresistible impulse to knock over a house of cards, the impulse for destruction, they just came in from Siberia, a train ride from Scotland, the British, Americans, and Canadians invade Siberia to try to reverse the Russian Revolution, The Sandbaggers, the rumour becomes the reality, wanting to believe the legend, not caring about evidence, fossilized in this story, what Robert E. Howard calls the little people, elves and trolls and gremlins, from fantasy to fake news, fake fairies, a strange new power, The Novel Of The Black Seal, The Novel Of The White Powder, Panther paperback, terrible cruel dwarf elves, the horror of war, he took a long time to get there, what’s this mention of Belgium, the worst swearword known in the galaxy, a weird momentum, the story has to keep replicating, the introduction to The Bowmen And Other Stories, the answer of course is in the question, struggles in truth in news, false, the seedbed for new conspiracy theories, official unknown sources, trying to fill dead air, Mr Jim Moon’s Folklore On Friday articles, Krampus, absolute bullshit, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Halloween, the received wisdom is always wrong, a new dark age, perceiving reality, where this story is set, who’s saying it, there are so many narrators, real places, Glastonbury Tor, Morgan le Fay, the myth of Avalon seems to be a bottom up story, Geoffrey Of Monmouth, Mallory, John Boorman’s Excalibur, a gel filter, the land of the fairy, Morgan le Fay is she has sex with her half brother, Mordred is killed by Arthur, Arthur is wounded and goes to the island of Avalon where he is healed by his sister and the mother of his child, how you get out of the horror of the Belgian horror, internecine war, the Kaiser and the Czar hugging each other.

propaganda evolution in WWI

The Angels Of The Mons

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal

SFFaudio Review

Tales of the Red Panda The Crime Cabal by Gregg Taylor

Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal
By Gregg Taylor; Read by Gregg Taylor
Publisher: Audible
Release Date: October 17, 2012
ISBN: 9780986856334
Playing time: 5 hours 53 minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: pulp / heroes / depression era / gangs / zombies / bombs / hypnotism / secret identities / roof tops / grapnel guns

Depression-era Toronto is the setting for Gregg Taylor’s pulp hero The Red Panda and his sidekick The Flying Squirrel. The novel opens with the last of the big gangs in the city being brought to Justice; Police Chief O’Mally railing against the masked vigilantes at loose in his city. While the Press love the hero: defender of the weak, the poor and the downtrodden of society.

Out from the ashes of the many gangs that our hero’s have crushed rises a new gang, The Crime Cabal. This new gang knows that for them to flourish, they must deal with The Red Panda once and for all. But there is more behind the Cabal than a simple gang. When the hulking enforcers of the gang turn out to be zombies it’s clear that this is no ordinary gang.

The Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal is the first novel set within the same setting as the podcast audio dramas, also written and produced by Gregg Taylor under the Decoder Ring Theatre banner. There is continuity between the podcast and the novel, but the novel does stand on it’s own, even providing an origin story for one of the long running supporting characters. The setting and characters are all introduced with enough background and flare to be fully formed within the novel alone.

Gregg Taylor does a commendable job with the narration and the characters. Of note are the character voices especially as I’ve listened to the audio dramas for some years. Taylor captures the essence of the voices of the characters as they have been portrayed by other actors. For several years in some cases. So, even if you have listened to the podcasts you won’t be disappointed by the the portrayal of familiar characters, and if you haven’t then they come out fully formed characterizations.

My only niggle is that in the first few chapters the narration feels just a little rushed in places, but this passes.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

Review of City of Darkness by Ben Bova

SFFaudio Review

ed. – Here is a fine example of Harlan Ellison as narrator.

City of Darkness by Ben BovaCity of Darkness
By Ben Bova; Read by Harlan Ellison
2 Cassettes – 3 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Dove Audio
Published: 1998
ISBN: 0787117269
Themes: / Science Fiction / City / Gangs / Environment /

This is a story about a teenager who feels New York City calling to him – “live here, live here, whatever it is, it’s here, and nowhere else”. No, this isn’t Fame. In fact, it’s much closer to John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, because Ben Bova’s Manhattan has been covered by a dome, and only opens for tourists in the summer, because of several issues, including the quality of the environment (not fit for people) and the mood of the citizens (you can’t move around in the city without being shot at).

The teenager, Ron Morgan, receives his results on tests that determine his entire future. He scores very well (extremely well), but New York beckons. His father be damned, he sneaks off to get in one last visit before giving his life to the machine. Mayhem ensues, and when the gates close for the summer, Ron finds himself locked on the wrong side. He finds the city sparsely populated by interesting characters, many of whom are young people who have split up in a way that would have made William Golding nod. Gangs rule the day, and Ron finds himself in an extremely difficult spot, with nothing to rely on other than his mechanical aptitude.

This may be my favorite Ben Bova work. He crams many of his recurring themes into this story, but social and environmental concerns rule the day here. His picture of future New York is dismal, and very much an if-this-goes-on warning. The citizens who decide to stay in the city choose to because they don’t see life in mainstream society (i.e., a lifetime in pursuit of dollars) as a better option – another thing Bova makes us consider.

Now, the story is quite good. But, what makes the audiobook great (and it is great) is the way it was read. Harlan Ellison performs the novel, and won an Audie Award for it. Ellison’s style of narration is unique in my experience. He can keep up with the best narrators in the business when it comes to accents and character creation, and then adds a story-telling touch that makes it all the more personal. His emotion isn’t limited to dialogue. He stammers when a character stammers. He’s excited when the action is intense. He is fully present while he’s narrating, and he lets himself feel and convey those feelings without waiting for dialogue to do it. It spills over, right out the earphones, and makes the story much more vivid and intense. This is a superior piece of narration – one that professionals should hear.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson