Reading, Short And Deep #347
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Stroller by Margaret St. Clair
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Stroller was first published in Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1947.
This unabridged reading of the story (7 hours 3 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.
Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Connor Kaye.
Talked about on today’s show:
1907, semi-autobiographical novel, he kills himself at the end, the Lord Dunsany introduction from 1954, narrating audiobooks, a writer of note himself, surprisingly lucky in a way that Machen was not (not just being born a lord), Machen made his money as a journalist, editor, a job here and there, inheriting money from relatives, that allowed him to write, how else do you get the time to write, Lovecraft’s struggles, walking, The Silver Key, ancient Greeks and Romans, The Watcher By The Threshold, the veil, the secret world behind the veil, the colour of that world (is red), the furnace and the fire, light and colour and emotion, a very odd book, this book is a real trip, maybe Machen’s masterpiece, bigger in scope but also very intimate, take out all the parts about the struggle of writing, if condensed down, what makes it into a novel, bounced off this book, what is going on in this book, no clear plot at the start, not having anybody support that, Mark Nelson: fantastic, Mark Nelson has good taste and picks good stuff to narrate, Machen is a tough writer, he’s dense, floating on a river and sensations happen, Mrs. Gibbon and Annie were more important than we thought, the faun on the hill, by the end you understand, the first reading through, the focus is strange, Ambrose Bierce is perverse, Mark Twain, the least understandable way is the best way, this book has its own reading list, Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe, this is my guy, Poe and me are best buds, making gold out of letters on pages, even Lovecraft is easier, Lovecraft doesn’t throw us red herrings, a series of red herrings (the troubles of life), significant as a life trauma (not a plot point), incidents from Lucians life, The Cosy Room, a lot of rooms, he really knows place, exhausting your body walking and coming to a space, he can’t look at certain things in the room, the level distance from the harsh realities, I’m an alien, I’m much higher above looking down, a nice coping mechanism, boys torturing insects, they don’t feel pain anyways, the puppy torture scene, kids are like that, Out Of The Earth, bloodlust of children causing WWI, strange connections, put on the button that says “current thing”, Russians are evil now, very interesting but very difficult, get your trigger warning out, how disassociated Lucian is, I wanted to shake him, he didn’t do anything, talking about it, he has to be aloof from these things, so disconnected from what was happening around him, considering the rest of this story, he is the puppy, he feels, he is a victim, the owner of the puppy, she is the one who comforts him, the girl that becomes his religion, the puppy scene is incredible,
The leader saw the moment for his master-stroke. He slowly drew a piece of rope from his pocket.
“What do you say to that, mun? Now, Thomas Trevor! We’ll hang him over that there bough. Will that suit you, Bobby Williams?”
There was a great shriek of approval and delight. All was again bustle and animation. “I’ll tie it round his neck?” “Get out, mun, you don’t know how it be done.” “Is, I do, Charley.” “Now, let me, gwaes, now do let me.” “You be sure he won’t bite?” “He bain’t mad, be he?” “Suppose we were to tie up his mouth first?”
The puppy still fawned and curried favor, and wagged that sorry tail, and lay down crouching on one side on the ground, sad and sorry in his heart, but still with a little gleam of hope; for now and again he tried to play, and put up his face, praying with those fond, friendly eyes. And then at last his gambols and poor efforts for mercy ceased, and he lifted up his wretched voice in one long dismal whine of despair. But he licked the hand of the boy that tied the noose.
the core problem for all of us, we are the ones who inflict pain, monsters and boys, trying to be kind to everyone, in the city, that quality of generosity, the most beautiful, Annie, a servant girl, Master Lucian, when he meets her in the lane, reverse double leg cling, she caresses his head, the published book with stuff stolen from his book, once something is published, no one wants any of that, something we both do and something that we do to others, it’s amazing, here read my book, they cant see the garbage that they’ve written, they can only see , why would I bother that something isn’t published?, the worst baseball player ever, keep going johnny you can do it!, the cultural movement, late 90s, the rise of self-help, you can do anything, every person can be the best at something they are capable of being, liking to run, long legs and pain inside that can only be healed by having a gold medal around your neck, a horrible reality of the world, a coming of age story, realization of your own limitations is coming of age, a painful aspect, the pain of sexuality, the horniest boy ever, his fellow kids, him alone spinning up his own theories, lusting after almost ethereal objects, highly romantic sense of the world, working class people who don’t give a shit, let’s get trashed, the 12 year old and the 15 year old, going for long walks, idealizing women, under the surface, we don’t know him that well except where his actions bubble up against reality, there is feeling there, when he tries to share his book with people, do pretty flowers, some people are trying to help him, unwillingness to deviate, he’s gifted, he knows he’s gifted, a lot of alchemy symbolism, words are magical, the ability to provoke and control emotions, making people more subject to what they are, mostly used for evil, when he first sees that book with his stuff published in it, validated, apathetic, he’s proud of it, making it all about money, he needed the validation, a stage that a lot of authors get stuck in, the ideas are going to be stolen, Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), you gotta sue, a Guy De Maupassant story was totally ripped-off, sold to weird tales, The Tortoise Shell Comb, An Apparition, a cavalry officer, comb my hair for me, if you were Guy De Maupassant, Banksy?, give your mom a book you wrote, a dishonesty of the known relationship, do the esoteric stuff not the commercial stuff, the anti-Edgar Rice Burroughs, kind of suceeds, it’s a victory?, a lot of Lovecraft in this character, the young writer, the particular personality type, unbending, committing to a vision, not compromising, he got that book, a funny line they always say about Lovecraft, so many beans, accentuates the victory, we can’t even read the fucking thing, and yet it’s a victory, who is it a victory for?, a victory for Lucian, overdosing on morphine, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater, ladies of sorrow, horror movies, Suspiria (1977), a bestseller, How I Smoked Crack And Lived To Tell About It, that French guy who loved Poe, Les Fleurs Du Mal, Suspiria De Profundis, Charles Baudelaire, insight into his mind, an unreliable narrator?, he’s hiding something from us, he has the shakes, smoking a ton of tobacco, overdosed, an addict, emotionless, he probably doesn’t want to masturbate, doesn’t have the materials, burying thoughts in physical weariness, piercing his own body with burrs, a recognized mental illness symptom, cutting, hare shirts, impure thoughts, the fetish, unhealthy, complex organisms in a complex society, get a real job, follow my advice, very real, who’s to say they’re not right?, the middle road, Lucian chose complete dedication art, bending like a reed in the wind, no goals, getting you killed, going along with the current, part of the problem for individuals, living in a society with mass hysteria, why do we have to have that war on another continent, an alliance treaty with France and Russia, white chicken feathers, the current thing, almost a statement, Trevor Towers, Celephais?, sleepwalks off a cliff, a triumph but only from his point of view, capitalism’s threat: knuckle under or become homeless, peruse artistic endeavors, Machen survived where Lucian didn’t, another way he could have gone, this is what could have happened to me, idealistic, circumstances were slightly different, early 2000, Richard K. Morgan, conflict investment, Market Forces, caught up in Netflix deals, ultimately the opposite of the Stephen King/Lovecraft route, success can be something that can hurt you as well, The Bowmen, jotted off in five minutes, the Ghost of Kyiv, the Angel Of The Mons, attestations, Bryan Alexander, Colonel Tomb laughs at this from his grave, just has to be true stories, Vietnamese fighter pilot, Colonel Toon, WWII, Panfilov’s 28 Men (2016), War Thunder, how dare you say that, it’s important!, bullshit made of wholecloth, the rolling thunder of this truth being needed, if Machen had any kind of cultural impact, debunking it, it’s true that it would be good for morale, Rape Of Belgium, these brave Belgian boys, we need them to be hard done by, raped by the pre-Nazis, ginning up anger, encouraging recruitment, a fundamental lie at base, there’s a veil between reality and how we see reality, the veil is real, willful blinders, the noble lie, telling truths, from genuine situations, confabulating slightly, Philip K. Dick’s characters are autobiographical, Horselover Fat, A Scanner Darkly, putting himself on the list, sometimes we slip through, a very odd book, John Steinbeck, East Of Eden, magnum opus, frustrating and meandering, not page turners, ethereal feeling, the veil between reality, The White People, The Great God Pan, monologue about what is reality, investing the time and energy, it feels pretty long, Charles Dickens is very engaging, floating down a river, Machen loves his descriptions of nature, at the fort on the hill, descriptions of the trees and nature, crafted, did this actually happen to Machen as a boy?, ecstatic experience, on drugs, what makes you go back there, how small you are, connection, he tried it with a novel, alcohol, the invention of gin, counter-reaction, massive social impacts, China’s reaction to computer games, a three hour limit, internet games, solo game disconnected from the internet, single player games now require an internet connection, Civilization 2, Roblox, Minecraft, set in its period (late 19th century), love of literature and great texts, 18th century authors knew what was going on, Kublai Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats, knight vs. wight, Tolkien leftovers, because it’s archaic, a horny young man and an idealized woman, a femme fatale story, it destroys him, dissociates, his ideal woman, Annie as a person, as a part of his imagination, the Roman fort, being a Roman senator, the Roman temples of D.C., we are just as great (corrupt) as they were, a false reality, I’m wearing a business suit, folk horror, how women are depicted in folk horror, pagan motifs, witchcraft, blindsided, when Miss Gibbons died, a very fairy tale scene, he’s the wolf, Annie was a witch, unholy wedding, explicitly magical aspects, seduction, the magic is in the men, brain chemicals, the shapely waist, her skin, the Platonic ideal, in the air in the period, Mr. Skelmersdale In Fairyland by H.G. Wells, I’m ruined now, transformed him, it isn’t played for laughs, The New Accelerator, The Invisible Man, comic possibilities everywhere, bittersweet, a triumph as a tragedy, a silk purse of a sow’s ear, lemonade from lemons, the slippery idea of the ideal world or woman, when we read Lovecraft that’s the absent part, Edgar Allan Poe, the ideal woman is the dead woman, she can never be limited by reality (growing old, not being smart enough, fighting), the Baudelaire way, beautiful cruelty, life is cruel, damaged people managing their trauma (in ways other than alcohol), a moment later, joy and happiness, drunk on love, bronze hair, come for a walk with me, a statue, very Greek, his visions, there was death in the woman’s face, she had indeed, the brink of utter desolation, a sex scene too, the carpet matches the drapes, a very sexual novel for a guy who’s so chaste, he falls asleep on the hill, none of them are real and all of them are, is this kid mentally ill?, the end of Dagon, he’s seeing the thing he’s fearful of in himself and not recognizing it, a troubled kid, maybe it’s like he has down syndrome or he’s autistic, kindness, the world is retarded and not him, he’s so extreme in his uncompromisingness, expressed as greatness, isolation, pushes him to the brink, again he was astray in the mist, splendid as Rome, terrible as Babylon, the place of eternal gloom, ring within ring, circle within circle, high writing, the sanctuary of the infernal right, wresting, muscles that could throw down mountains, a flaring street, naphtha fires, pure poetry, dusky figures, a noise like a chant of the lost, orgy, bronze hair, a gulf of darkness, all symbolism, precious robes, the room!, a vapour of the grave, horrible caresses, the matted thicket, the desire rose up like a black smoke, amazing, she lures him, he forces himself upon her, she turns into a very bad trip, exaltation to pain and torture, the elm tree was riven, Lucian is a good name, the tumult and the shock came as a sudden murmur, he overdosed, is he chasing the dragon?, are all of these dreams on the hill?, his dependence on tobacco, a symbol for a later addiction, walking to get rid of his energy, thick black tobacco to cloud his mind, he chases her across a landscape that is not a city, a difficult triumph, no one else is wealthier for it, a vast silence overwhelmed him, Ex Oblivione, dissolving into the Realm of the Forms, a temporary escape from reincarnation, The Novel Of The White Powder, going to seed or dissolution, a continuous issue, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, the other way you can go, morphine?, The Green Meadow, ecstatic states, walking to exhaustion, a difficult topic, there’s truth everywhere in it, sloppy racism, the primitives being in touch with sensations and sense, barbarian hating civilization, Robert E. Howard, nine times, barbarians, pleasantly, prigs perfected, joyous manly young fellows, raped?, devious backstreets, the respectable inhabitants are barbarians, The Lost Club, a Weird Tales reprint, The Lost Room by Fitz James O’Brien, places that go missing, The Music Of Erich Zann, The Lost Street [by ], a strange experience, experiencing weirdness, N, a more definite divide between fantasy and reality, a magical world intruding upon London, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, does he go through it?, Golden Dragon City, Game Of Thrones, the only guy with HBO in 1902, Dunsany had it much easier, a crazy man confronts Dunsany in a restaurant, I just make them up you see, the story that is described is one Dunsany wrote, as extreme as Dunsany gets, not quite on the level of Guy de Maupassant, rigid principles, flowery words and a suit, a lifestyle that could so endanger them, is N unfinished?, a warning story, prurient interest in seeing how far one can descend, reality TV shows, I’m not that depraved, morbid curiosity, not edifying curiosity, The Cosy Room And Others, Hippocampus Press, The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft, nothing of Lovecraft is copyrighted, you don’t know how many letters he wrote where he put a poem in for a newborn baby’s birthday, so nested and so rich with vocabulary, a werewolf story, Psychopompos, exhausting a sonnet, more time invested in reading Clark Ashton Smith is a good thing, if this is Machen’s worst I want to read more, difficult, The Shining Pyramid, tiny details that fly by, The Unknown World, May 15 – June 15, 1895, Robert E. Howard wrote way more than H.P. Lovecraft did, the vastness of his other work, popular for his supernatural stories, Robert W. Chambers flips a switch, the opposite of what Lucian does, The Secret Glory, The Three Impostors, a fix-up, chasin a dragon out of the window, spent it all on insane asylums, The Horla, Maupassant rented a hot air balloon to promote a book, before airplanes, The Troop by Nick Cutter, trained up and fought a poet to promote his book, Uwe Boll, Ed Wood, completely talentless, maybe he just got past it, self-awareness is a stumbling block, Ed Wood (1994), found family, he has an eye and no talent, as innocent as a war veteran could be, a go getter, $5, Golan Globus Theatre podcast, the Tijuana Bible, historical records we need to have preserved, what Julian needed (was printed pornography), Conquering Goddess, it needs to be fully illustrated, BDSM, Robert E. Howard, nudy pulps before Playboy, the first Playboy with Marilyn Monroe, weird repression, Penthouse, happening but hidden away, human nature never changes, more evidence that this is how we have always been, embarrassing, left out in the woods, pre-WWII, this is somebody’s great grandma, challenged one of his critics to a boxing match, if he won the boxing match, you won the fight therefore, dueling, humour was our way of escaping bullies, laughter is disarming, intellectual overpowering, more than halfway through (life), a very thinly veiled autobiography, drawing on his own experience, a lot of philosophy, writerly philosophy, more about writing than it is about mysticism, why Maupassant wrote weird fiction, Maupassant’s career, A Piece Of String, A Ball Of Fat, a Star Trek episode [The Galileo Seven], hypocrisy, my servants are stealing from me, I am my servant, these terrible experiences he must relate, very healthily not on Twitter, No Man’s Land by John Buchan, Esteban Maroto, Australian youtube audiobook narrator, Steve Parker audiobooks, simple guy: likes audiobooks, iPads, Randall’s Round, you should always record, The Wind In The Portico, The Temple Of Death by A.C. Benson, 23 temples, spread out the Buchan, doing the same authors but not back to back, The Horror Horn by E.F. Benson, a yeti story in Switzerland, The Inn by Guy De Maupassant, the horror of being alone, afraid of a lot of stuff, The Terror, Who Knows?, the little shop dwarf, his homunculus, “oh monsieur, all your furniture is gone”, this is alarming, the furniture is the faculties of his mind, all metaphorical, symbolist, a good discussion of a complex book.
Talked about on today’s show:
Tantor Media, 2013, dynamo, biography, H.P. Lovecraft, non-fiction, after 1899, as a kid, the future, the turn of the 20th century, Evan’s 100 Pages podcast, black writers, important fin de sicle, Victorian to Edwardian, a time of massive change, his parents and his quasi-parents, to see where London came from, looking at the past, don’t watch the news, William the Conqueror, seances and spiritualism, 30 years into spiritualism, morphing into other practices, the Chinese believe in ghosts, Americans believe in all kinds of things, UFOs, angels, credulous, Warren Chase, Wisconsin, utopian socialism, the Civil War, free labour, free soil, the connection between all these ideas, pamphlets, autobiographies, the rise of science and capitalism, Marx and Darwin, what are the laws?, utopians, the Horatio Alger story, I’m gonna make my fortune–and I can, coming from poverty and misfortune, complaining and bragging, Martin Eden’s problem, when Jack London was in Australia, died at 40, debilitated vs. lively and fierce, the noseless stranger, John Barleycorn, a novel to take as truth, alcohol, alcoholism, whiskey, a philosophical tangent, white logic, pink elephant, fatalism, existentialism, filling Nietzschean logic with religion, Steen Hansen, when still a teenager, delivering newspapers, teeth knocked out, hoboing around the United States, sheer physical movement, London’s connection to socialism, child labour, incredibly hard and varied work, the family economy, supporting his parents, travel, love of literature, the London epic, blown away, London’s Klondike experience, perfidy by Canadians, how many stories, the blood brain barrier between life and fiction, frequent life raiding, worship and fascination, The Call Of The Wild, Buck is sitting by the campfire, seeing a caveman, a race memory, a kind of brilliant thinker, hackwork, this is horror, enjoin, The Red One by Jack London, ancient astronauts, a dark and twisted story, Jung, symbol laden, lying sick and unable to move, astounding to see, Philip K. Dick, neighbours and wives, reworking his own thoughts as fiction, he interviews himself, thinking aloud on paper, how close Earle Labor got to understanding Jack London, more accurate, defining my position, the rent man, hope, the half-baked economist, the stout gentlemen, they wouldn’t be socialists they’d be beer sodden wrecks, scabs, full fledged graduates in anarchy, he’s a firecracker, George Sterling, the Weird Tales circle, Clark Ashton Smith, tilting the whole continent towards San Fransisco, Ambrose Bierce, the giantness of London, London’s mother was 4 and half-feet tall, punching Japanese officer in the face, not like another writers, J.R.R. Tolkien, going for walks and smoking pipes, Charmian and he were restless, Jack London couldn’t stay still, England, People Of The Abyss, on Jack London time, smoking and drinking, not sleeping enough, The Shadow Out Of Time, a Yithian takes over Jack London, conflicted about the work ethic, The Sea Wolf, Brisenden = Sterling, he didn’t have the spark, Weird Al, is Jack London still in school libraries?, White Fang, The Iron Heel, older dystopia, It Can’t Happen Here, London’s engagement with racism, the mestizos of Mexican Revolution, so many of London’s stories are skewering stupid racism, the white race lives on the destruction and putrefaction of the societies they’re crushing, The Wisdom Of The Trail, adopting the white man’s mentality, white men’s burdens are to be carried by red men, surrounded by racism, everyone around him people are using race as an excuse to do things, a whole critique of social Darwinism, the peak of European imperialism, it doesn’t get you anywhere, loneliness and despair, To Build A Fire, China, British literature, committed to teaching, he still glowed and grinned like a madman, bonding over Melville, War by Jack London, mad mythic, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, living in extreme cold (in Vermont), “the cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet”, science fiction, looking at reality, not about the relationships between people, look at this fascinating phenomenon, psychology or economics, The Cold Equations, a hard Science Fiction story, muscles in motion, when he does it it becomes, man against nature in the extremis, a story about spacesuits, Thomas Huxley, a literary critique of race in London’s work, Jack London’s Racial Lives: A Critical Biography, Campbell, the state of nature and the state of art, Herbert Spenser, The Shadow And The Flash, sibling rivalry, the mind at work, The Scarlet Plague, a social Darwinian document, the Chauffeur tribe, old idiots are interested in book reading, The Strength Of The Strong, Moon-Face: A Story Of Moral Antipathy, The Cask Of Amontillado, Guy de Maupassant, seeing into the mind of the other, empathy, “my-culture-is-not-your-prom-dress-ism”, cultural appropriation, dogs, Wolf Larsen is an odious character, academic arguments, Wolf Larsen is like Tony Soprano, Edward G. Robinson, a weird disease, was Jack London a precog?, seeing the psychology at work, Jack London (1943), A Thousand Deaths, a deserter, torture, wow!, almost everything in this story happened, I am not your father because I was impotent at that time, six marriages, fewer divorces, a hard mother, a family curse?, the seven year itch, looking for father figures, the man of action in the salon, Everhardt, Doctor Who, worshiping the man, Irving Stone’s Sailor On Horseback, the dream sandwich, The Star Rover, everybody should read Jack London, mapping reality.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #449 – Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Oliver Wyman. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Oliver Wyman.
Talked about on today’s show:
100 years old, the beginning, because it is short, At The Mountains Of Madness, the narrator is insane, gone mad with fear, Pete Rawlik, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a great Crispin Glover impersonation, Christopher Walken, the great war was then at its very beginning, pre-Lusitania, the narrator is either British or Canadian or an American working on a British or Canadian ship, inspired by a dream, a Lovecraft-stand-in, internal evidence, a Mid-Atlantic accent, the element of the war, post-traumatic stress, adding ambiguity, illustrations, a LEGO version, on the first page, he’s outside of the boat, “the change happened while I slept”, the heaving vastness of unbroken blue, half-sucked, the surface of the ground matching the undulating black mire, Stranger Things, “the upside-down”, stranded at the bottom of the ocean, being sucked into black slime, how sexual the images are in this, everybody illustrates the creature climbing up the monolith, the one with the monster, an incredibly striking image, a framing story, weeks -> months -> years, three or four years of torture, he was “supercargo”, WWII, The Narrative Of Arthur Goron Pym Of Nantucket, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, two spaceships traveling in intergalactic space crashing into each other, designed to be suspect, “I think I went mad then”, an unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a reverse Atlantean myth, Lemuria, Mu, pre-human horrors, all of this is real, The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith, King Kong, a phantasmagoric eternity of delirium, like The Invisible Man, a coming apocalypse, the oars, a style of storytelling, The Red One by Jack London, the big red thing, it feels like a Lovecraft story, shooting giant butterflies or moths, the Atlas moth, a juju man, the heads, a breadfruit tree, loaded with heads, “the red one”, a giant red sphere, an alien spaceship, a super-powerful weird story, nothing is revealed, the most enigmatic story, ancient astronauts were not a thing until after The Red One, stories really, Erich von Daniken’s Chariots Of The Gods and Life After Life, huskies and dying in the snow, White Fang, Call Of The Wild, The Sea Wolf, Jack London’s science fiction, “hard-ass bastards vs. dilettante assholes”, To Build A Fire, a punch to the gut, feeling SFy, the coldness of space reaching down, being tipped away from the sun, hard SF, the guy needs a spacesuit, that feeling when Luke Skywalker gets stuffed into a tauntaun, looking at the world from an alien perspective, the wisdom of men does not extend to all things, Jack London totally an SF guy, The Iron Heel is mostly lectures, back to Lovecraft, the genre of apocalyptic dream fiction, highlights and stars and boxes, “I cannot think of the deep sea”, “water soaked granite”, clams in their clammy beds, sea-cucumber, eating invertebrates, a horseshoe crab, Oliver is not afraid of going in the water, on the dock, de-crabbing his crab trap, good at clamping, tearing the crab apart, pretty horrific, Paul went to the beach in New Zealand, the deep ones were not invading that day, the HPLHS’ Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, reading the ending in a subversive way, I dream of day, in their reeking talons, war exhausted mankind, universal pandemonium, just end this!, bring on the great old ones!, why is he freaked out?, what’s happening with our species right now, if Jesse is right, taking place in 1917, the horrors of trench warfare, end our inhumanity to each other, might as well have the apocalypse, Keith Roberts’ Pavane, Scott and Luke Burrage, fairies, changing history, researching history (instead of watching the news), some dude went crazy in Las Vegas, country music is not for everybody, this story fits in with that, the general tenor, I got to read more about what the unabomber was worried about, hid and read history and do a podcast,
When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death.
Lovecraft’s inspiration for writing these stories is dwarfing the horror of reality, somebody is putting a name on it, House Of Cards, I miss when politicians were evil (instead of corrupt and inept), we sympathize with their massive ability (and their massive ambition), a fantasy of competence, Ken Burns’ Vietnam, JFK, Obama, a written narrative, I hear a noise at the door, an immense slippery body, that same scene, jumping out the window, that turn, he’s one of them, a fear that he has within him, knowledge bubbling below the surface but which he can’t put name to, “it shall not find me”, “god, that hand”, “the window, the window!”, being digested slowly, the hand is the hand before him, creepy, totally within the text, pre-Shadow Over Innsmouth, subconsciously he’s thinking of all of this, when doing the modelling of that LEGO, seeing other people’s drawings, a sexuality that’s freaking him out, kissing is somebody putting their mouth on you, when people write about sex, detail by detail, beat by beat, drawing a veil over some of it, the carvings and the bas-reliefs on the monolith, a giant man-like creature fighting a whale, reading this as deep ones, each story is independent, are we supposed to…, what size is this monolith, what size is the creature that most people would call Dagon, dimensions, presumably, Polyphemus-like and cyclopean, definitely huge, it’s his, no man could life that, bronze age tombs, when it comes out of the water, it flung its gigantic scaly arms, a child clinging to its mother, certain measured sounds, is it “in heat”, a Freudian interpretation, “loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds.” “certain” is very specific and means nothing, a religious chanting, a sexual thing, I remembered little, “I believe I sang a great deal” and laughed oddly when I was unable to sing. I have indistinct recollections of a “I heard peals of thunder”, over reading, certain people (Ollie Wyman), something deep within us, we know it is powerful, its the questions that propel us forward, when he travels over the surface over the land, nowhere were there sea-fowl, a giant white phallus, walk through the mire, unknown to the modern world, decomposing forms of dinosaurs?, a vision of a present?, Doctor Who’s Silurians, this was all fever dream, the storm broke the fever (and the dream), unless you’re Captain Bligh…, in his dream, I want it to be that way, ancient chthonic creatures or all in his head, tending to the more fantastic, especially when the Moon is gibbous, transient surcease (the lost Lenore is always missing from the Lovecraft stories), written for information (or contemptuous amusement), a hideous vivid vision in reply, it manifests itself before him, Gustave Doré, Bulwer-Lytton, Piltdown Man, Paradise Lost, worries about the reception of his work, a real chip on his shoulder, contempt, self-loathing, self-doubt, nobody likes his poems (except for Jesse and Paul), the psychiatrist is “hopelessly conventional”, alienated, Lovecraft is an alien, Sonia Greene would feed him because he was so thin, had never been in an Italian restaurant (age 30), let’s go in for lunch, Lovecraft watches him eat, why open yourself up to criticism, you end up being a Crispin Glover, Willard, a pale gaunt slender man living in his parent’s garret, New York, Chicago, Sonia Greene was a big fan of amateur journalism (blogs and podcasts), earning the equivalent of $100,000 a year, echo-y with later stuff, The Tomb, “I dreamed that the whole hideous crawl”, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, the sky is also black, its not Carcosa yet, Marissa wants to go there, bring a gas-mask, bring a camera, a great virtual reality environment, almost nothing happens in terms of choices, the Lovecraft role-playing game, The Nightmare Lake, What The Moon Brings, a recurring dream, lotus-petals, sea-birds circling over something in the water, the brow of a giant statue, he goes mad, if he seas what is beneath the brow it will be the end, the hideous stench of the sea, swimming in black lakes, a little bit freaky, the water is much scarier, VR is the hot new thing, Blackstone Audio’s The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Jerome Bixby’s It’s A Good Life, Roger Zelazny, Bill Mumy, the Joe Dante adaptation, Dawn Of The New Everything: Encounters With Reality And Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier, VPL, Playstation VR, HTC Vive, eating virtual food, screen-time, selling the spiritual aspect, how good are computer games?, mixed reality (augmented reality), Steam’s VR environment, on a catwalk in the bowels of Bespin, unendurable vertigo, The Simpsons living room, Audioshield, it makes me feel I’m in a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic, the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Aces Of The Pacific, a rookie pilot in 1943, why Ollie is an actor, pulling the wool over my own eyes, getting into VR, go for an Occulus or a Vive, a VR Star Trek game, Fallout 4 (VR), Psychonauts, cooking an egg and washing dishes in VR, Vanishing Realms, real fight mechanics, its ready, 1991, huge and clunky, more than a bigger monitor, vector graphics?, Dactyl Nightmare, Dire Straits, Max Headroom, Elite Dangerous, Marissa wants to join the church of VR, skiing, under London Bridge, divining caches, friend MrKawfy on Steam and, the interactive entertainment editor of Creem magazine, that raunchy Doom theme, Serious Sam, chainsaw, was the Far Harbor expansion for Fallout 4 Lovecraftian?, the Pickman’s Model house, the Dunwich Borers, a serial killer, get their shit freaked, what are we doing in here?, the problem Bethesda games is the inventory management, a bane on your existence, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, listening to audiobooks while playing games.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #445 – Jesse, Paul, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander talk about Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens
Talked about on today’s show:
1918, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, 1970, Friend Island, interview with a sea-woman, “peace ships”, women are grizzled teetotallers, The Elf-Trap, Carcassone, Kentucky, Carolina, so obscure, an artists colony, she’s kind of like a female Lovecraft, hidden beyond normal perceptions, Gertrude Mable Barrows Bennett, A. Merritt, pure raving pulp, impressive, giant narrative yank, Neal Stephenson, a little Tim Powers-y, lost civilization, H. Rider Haggard, come back to haunt him, the lost city, strangled to death by a python, Boots = Colin, character names, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, a Doctor Moreau in the suburbs, very melodramatic, a giant killer ape called “Genghis Khan”, a sub-sub genre of killer gorillas, the whole Aztec mythology, a sub-boss, a strangely international novel, the Irish nature of the heroes, Mexico present and past, a whole raft of gods, Egyptian and Japanese gods, undisciplined, scene by scene, two dudes wandering through the desert, The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, David Stifel, a created creature, a man without a soul, pirates, machine gunning scenes, mixing it up, completely spurious quote from H.P. Lovecraft, the elder gods called out, “wonderful and tragic allegory… amazing, thrilling”, The Curse Of Yig, strange monsters, mad science and ancient sorcereies, a bizarre fungal-oid process, The Shunned House, always bringing it back to the domestic, the female characters are at least as powerful as the male, a house attacked, a domestic dispute, the manifestation of Quetzalcoatl, the Goodreads summary:
Two adventurers discover a lost city in the Mexican jungle. One is taken over by an evil god while the other falls in love with a woman from Tlapallan. Back in the states, the possessed man begins to use magic to mutate civilians. The other walks away, but the pair must duel in the end.
dry and desiccated hills, romance, Julie Davis:
“This is a very enjoyable combination of lost world, Lovecraftian monsters, H.G. Wells, and (of course!) a romance. I especially liked the fact that the people who believe the supernatural reality the fastest are Irish. They are used to their Celtic gods and tales, natch!”
the Rabid Puppies, a light quick and very praising review, undisciplined, what does this mean?, it’s like Eden, there’s a snake, foreshadowing, not well planned out, because it was serialized…, how much did Stevens know, wading around in Aztec mythology, Deities & Demigods, Doctor Who: The Aztecs, sharing a cup of chocolate, the look on Hartnell’s face, Aliette de Bodard, the mindset of a priest of an Aztec god, Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, Q (1982), Amy H. Sturgis, cave-men days, the reversal of The Time Machine, The Daleks, a beautiful allegory, a bottle episode, Marco Polo, dropped into an alien culture, a description from Barbara of what the Aztec culture was like, Temple Of Evil, a garden for the retirees, retirement age of 52, a plurality of viewpoints, save them from Cortez, profoundly affected, Quetzalcoatl has 400 hit points and infinite movement, the Irish aspect, as readers of Lovecraft know…, immigration restriction, Irish heroes, extra big, extra strong, extra smart, the Irish cop, tough and sarcastic, Robert E. Howard, Dorothy Macardle’s The Uninvited, the Celtic connection to all things bogey, bugaboos, our “Nordic character”, you can’t shoot that, Sven Bjornsen and his wife Astrid, the Norse as the ideal, the Nazis, Lovecraft’s respect for the Scandinavians, the strange pacings, a kaleidoscope, the plot was getting away from her, the classic cliffhanger, Tlalpan, Cortez as the reincarnation of Quetzalcoatl, Montezuma’s failure to act, Cortez as a canny operator, Francisco Pizarro, the British and French and Portuguese in India, set between two small towns that don’t exist, Steven’s husband, the domestic spheres, household events, going through doorways, a lot of doorway stuff, liminal, wrong-footing, a civil war, the Cortez moment, almost a retelling, booted out, a sense of something else, this isn’t a triumphant colonial novel, The Man Who Would Be King, the white hounds, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the place of black and red, the skin colour of the household, the “greaser”, The Electric Executioner by Adolphe de Castro and H.P. Lovecraft (is TERRIBLE!), are the hounds the disease?, the Wild Hunt, elves, lost world, strange city, Jack Vance, the black stone of evil incarnate, Robert E. Howard-y vs. Edgar Rice Burroughs-y, adventure pulp, domestic supernatural, Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber, Chapter 6: The Black Eidolon, unevenly constructed paragraphs, kind of weird, always going back to the bungalow and the veranda, being a wife means being in a home, Philip K. Dick’s characters hang out in southern California, there’s something meta about everything she does, too diverse?, a boldy feminist piece, Fahrenheit 451 has gravitas because it’s dystopic, The Hitchhikker’s Guide’s To The Galaxy, Harry Harrison, John Scalzi, comedic science fiction novels, falling absolutely flat, playing with our expectations, closing towards the end, leaving Talapalan, back to domestic concerns, the power of Dracula, Undine, ancient Mexican deities and monsters, 1918, invasion, Cecil Rhodes, Rhodesia, Great Work Of Time by John Crowley, a steam-punk utopia, a gorgeous writer, a haunting writer, it turns on Rhodes, what’s up with Anne Of Green Gables?, parallels, Chapter 24, a reversal of the first scene, the kitchen sink, a weird balance between the Irish Celtic and the Aztec and the Mexican, Neil Gaiman-y, H.P. Lovecraft would have taken her to task over her structuring, disconcerting and unfamiliar, Doctor Reed’s compound, fungous creatures shaped by thoughts, albino marsh, a red flap, a gold chair, fortress of fear, one of the problems, Thor has a hammer, a twin, the complexity, the collapse of Aztec civilization, the Norns vs. the Fates, Cold War 2.0, Greek and Roman mythology, Latina and Greek, Pallas Athena, different periods, semi-appropriating, Theseus, different emphases, Greco-Roman culture, feudalism, The Marriage Of Cadmus And Harmony by Roberto Calasso, genre history, bursting with intelligence and ideas.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Conan Red Sonja
By Gail Simone, Jim Zub, Dan Panosian, Randy Green, Rick Ketcham, and Dave Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Published: July 2015
Conan Red Sonja is a hardcover collecting issues 1-4 of a limited series of floppies put out by Dark Horse Comics.
I was prompted to review this comic, a trade hardcover actually, after re-reading the review snippets on the back of the book. SciFiPulse, Kabooooom, Geeked Out Nation, and Doomrocket all praised Conan Red Sonja (I think I may have heard of one of these websites before).
And, after reading it myself, I’m thinking it might be time for another opinion on Conan Red Sonja.
I didn’t hate it. But I am very disappointed with it.
I think Conan Red Sonja would make an fine book for a preteen who has not read many comics, or maybe someone a little older who needs a bit of distraction while waiting at an airport, or any someone who needed to get an idea who and what Conan and Red Sonja were but didn’t really want to know any the specifics (for some reason). Conan Red Sonja would make a suitable book for one of these persons.
There are some things Conan Red Sonja has going for it. It isn’t completely disjointed, despite having large time jumps between issues. It contains some good artwork. Some good colouring. It is printed on great paper. It is bound very well.
I also think I like what writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub were aiming at. And to be fair they don’t completely miss the mark. This book has a some nice set pieces. Individual panels here and there can be quite pretty. The splash pages are well composed. The whole package is there. Unfortunately its just lacking in all the little polished details that would have made Conan Red Sonja something really good.
In essence what’s wrong with Conan Red Sonja is that it is just not smart enough.
Now I bet most people who haven’t read a lot of Conan comics wouldn’t expect you’d go to Conan or Red Sonja comics for smartness, but I do.
It used to be that Conan’s stories were based on short stories by Robert E. Howard (and a few other authors). That tended to smarten things up quite a bit. And Conan comics, unlike the superhero comics, had real deaths, people would die and – get this – not just come back a few issues down the road. That was smart too. Trust me, I know whereof I speak on this whole issue. I’ve been reading comics since the mid 1980s. I grew up collecting and reading Savage Sword, Conan The Barbarian, King Kull, Red Sonja and pretty much every other Robert E. Howard character they’d do a comic about. So I know Conan and Red Sonja pretty damn well – and it can be very smart stuff.
This comic isn’t very smart.
I’ll point to five very specific problems:
1. NO GUNS. Despite the drawing above, there are no cannons in the Hyborian age. Maybe this wasn’t actually in the script, maybe this is just a slip-up by an enthusiastic artist who, thinking “this is a pirate ship” and “pirate ships have cannons” drew some cannons. They don’t have cannons, not in the Hyborian Age.
2. INVERSE RACISM. The pirate ship on the right. Do you see what’s missing? You can’t make racism go away by avoiding situations that might look controversial. Bêlit’s crew is supposed to black, made up exclusively of “ebony-skinned warriors.” Bêlit’s crew, in Conan Red Sonja don’t look ebony to me. Yes, Howard was racist, but Bêlit isn’t racist. She is selfish. Wanton. Cruel. But not racist. Having Bêlit not have a black crew is a stupid way to avoid looking like being racist. It’s like having the Kents of Smallville be Chinese for the purposes of racial diversity, but keeping Clark Kent white – he’s a fucking alien! – So, suffice it to say, I don’t get the point of the change here – it just makes me think yeahhh, they’re afraid to deal with the fact that the creator of this character was racist, so lets pretend everyone is white in the Hyborian Age. Howard specifically sets up this image in Queen Of The Black Coast. Bêlit is an “ivory” skinned warrior woman leading a crew of “ebony” skinned pirates. Deal with it.
3. NO FUCKING WAY! No, Thoth Amon is not responsible for the poisoning of the Zarkheba River, nor, as we are probably supposed to infer, the subsequent death of Bêlit. Bêlit is responsible for her own death. Despite what writers Gail Simone and Jim Zub have Thoth Amon saying above, there’s no reason at all to have him say it – other than it is something for him to say.
First of all, Thoth Amon isn’t the be-all and end-all of evil in the Hyborian Age – he isn’t the evil behind every evil. He isn’t anything close to being the Professor Moriarty of Hyborian Age (and neither was Moriarty, actually). That’s just lazy, lazy writing.
Thoth Amon shows up in exactly one Robert E. Howard story, The Phoenix On The Sword, and the two characters never actually meet. Or as the Wikipedia page for Thoth Amon puts it “[Thoth Amon] is often used as Conan’s arch enemy in derivative works.” Well, here’s another derivative work to add to the list, Conan Red Sonja.
Moreover, Thoth Amon’s explanation for why he supposedly poisoned the Zarkheba River doesn’t hold water. There were no ruins of a coastal town at the mouth of the river! There was a ruined city upriver, that’s the setting for the climax of Queen Of The Black Coast, but that city was ancient, and had very different reasons for going bad. Again, shitty lazy writing.
Maybe there are excuses for this sort of thing, maybe the folks at Conan Properties International and Red Sonja, LLC, are so worried about protecting the characters they
invented claim to own that they are micromanaging the writing team – telling them what can and cannot be written. I don’t know.
4. ART. When not occasionally looking drugged, sometimes, just from panel to panel, Conan will look like a different dude. He will rapidly grow and then lose abdominal hair. Weird right? Too weird. I could buy a version of Conan with abdominal hair, or a version with chest hair, or a version with hair everywhere, or a Conan with a completely hairless torso (the traditional look). What I can’t buy is the growing and mowing I’m being asked to do between panels. Pick a fucking hair pattern.
5. LOGIC. While The overall plot McGuffin isn’t bad – I like the idea of a red seed (from space) – one that sprouts a red-thorned vine that infects and chokes all the life out of everything in a land – it’s not a new idea of course, its from H.G. Well’s The War Of The Worlds – I like it! Yet I don’t think this book uses it very well. For example, we’re told it kills absolutely everything it gets close to, and so when Conan, after getting infected somehow (the book doesn’t show us how) – after getting infected Conan has the red thorny vines growing out of the muscle on his left forearm. His cure for this infection is fire (which is cool) but when the red thorny vine grows back Conan just pulls it out by the root – and that cures it?!? WTF!? What about all the other people and animals and plants that were killed by this invasive red alien plant? You’re expecting me to accept that this burn it then pull it technique will work for Conan but didn’t work for anyone else?
And that again is the problem with Conan Red Sonja, this book doesn’t expect anything of me. It certainly doesn’t respect the rules and patterns of the Hyborian Age and so it can’t and doesn’t respect itself.
I’ve seen this happen with a lot with corporate controlled franchises. They turn a character with whom an author told stories into fan service machines – telling us more about the character and forgetting what made the original writing so compelling.
Don’t give us more backstory, don’t give us prequels, do something awesome.
Posted by Jesse Willis