Talked about on today’s show:
the novel, the movie, Black Destroyer by A.E. van Vogt, Planet Of The Vampires, It: The Terror From Beyond Space, A.E. van Vogt’s Voyage Of the Space Beagle, a remake?, not the same story, a ripoff, Aliens (1986), a scene by scene recreation, every scene in Alien is also in Aliens, a climbing-in, a precious living thing, the countdown, “you now have four minutes”, written the same way, the same language, a betrayal, its not the robot, the company betrays them again (the same motivation), Dallas egg banks, the cocoon scene, there’s nothing in Aliens that isn’t in Alien, Prometheus (2012) rips off alien six ways to Sunday, Ridley Scott only has one story, exploding ships, a betrayal by the android, Easter Sunday, an Easter Egg hunt, we can’t escape the story, the reason it all works, the movie is astounding, Captain Marvel (2019), delete from human consciousness, the essential gothic character, William Gibson’s script for Alien 3, Audible’s audio drama of Alien 3, the comic script, the Wolverine podcast, David Fincher, some ideas, all the Christ imagery, a point it can’t support, a great egg hunt, the Gothic roots, a haunted house, the practical escape, all the horrible things that are happening are all true, a haunted ship, Ash is Mother’s loyal servant, Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, Sulaco, the tip-off, money, haunted house logic, low up the haunted house (in American gothic), family secrets and deviant sexuality, juicy Freudian goodness, white fluid, various forms of rape, Parker’s nest, pornography on the walls, pornography magazine, paralleled by what happened earlier in the film, and what happens next, how well thought through everything is, differences, that liquid spurting, a robot, a political flavour, the last great 1970s sci-fi movie, a labour movie, compensation, Karel Čapek, a seamen’s story, space truckers, truckers vs. seamen, merchant marine, a share system, getting that ship to shore, delivering oil, a banality to their presence in space, they’re not explorers, they’re not scientists, they’re workers, they’re not colonists, even more explicit, Dan O’Bannon’s script, the destruction sequence, tweeting out lines and screenshots, singing a little song, lucky star, the HORROR of the breathing, the HORROR of the body, contrasted with Star Wars and Star Trek, a working class and dirty future, the grunts, the Company, they’re murderers, they’re scum!, part of the power of the film, more an more unequal, more and more plutocratic, how many years passed, still trying to make a super-weapon, the textural feel of it, the computer interactions, shoulder patches, badges, coffee cups, beer cans, little details, that world-building, Aliens was filmed in the UK, Weyland-Yutani, British-Japanese, we’re living in that trans-national corporation future, registered out of the Solomon Islands, Antarctica, none of it comes as a surprise, they presumably know, surprises in a legitimate way, that breathing, the last 20 minutes, breathing and running and sweating, you become her, there’s no datadump or infodump, ratcheting up the tensions, characters, setting, meeting their demise, a shriek and its gone, Lambert, harsh and different, one key theme is body-horror, squirm-inducing, Roger Corman, Inseminoid (1981), H.R. Giger, how horrible the aliens can be, a worm under human skin, embracing what you fear, cuddle with it, Stephen King writes so much horror because he’s so afraid, Danse Macabre, Foster didn’t have access to the film, THE THING looked like the hand of a skeleton, The Thing, very Campbellian, lifting from Lovecraft, In The Walls Of Eryx, a horror guy, a science fiction guy, a weird fiction guy, disrespect of man as a being, the original script, religious icons in the derelict, tentacles, the same plot as Alien, Mars, very similar, the ship acts more like a submarine, being confined to the ship, it looks very high budget, they use the bridge twice, they use the mess hall twice, they’re getting their value for money, a Heinleinian-style rocketship, every surplus WWII weapon, a bazooka, pineapple grenades, a crewful of men and two women, these women scientists are serving lunch, they have some sort of a relationship, what happens in Alien, as it appears in the film, women have become equal, all of the characters are very similar, riggghht, we didnt think they were going to change the lead, kickass women leads, a whole new industry of slasher movies, we don’t know Ellen Ripley is the lead character until they’res no one else left, Sleepaway Camp (1983), final girl, the plot of Alien had already happened at the beginning of the movie, 10 Little Indians style, connecting back, they mimic us, her name is Ripley… believe it or not, the gendering of this, a mini Bechdel test, reducing genders, we get those anyway, when Lambert is attacked, overtly sexual, overtly biological, even worse, the scariness, pregnancy makes Kane very hungry, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, Planet Of The Vampires (1965), Mario Bava, Black Sunday (1960), space madness, awful and brilliant, the navigator scene, the costumes, the colour is so lurid, fantastic!, the gender play, a scene missing from the book, the space-jockey, in and out, the book’s ending, it sits in your mind, this is and is not explained, it seems to be growing out of the chair, the bio-mechanical idea, blending into the machinery, Aliens Vs. Predator, the life-cycle of the alien, Farscape, Babylon 5, the vorlons, truly alien, its not THE alien, is it a noun or an adjective, it doesn’t tell you what is going on, Alien 2 (1980), The Thing (2011) the prequel, this circularity, the actress is trying to escape this endless cycle, Caligula, Sisyphean, the same horror, saving (Davy) Jones, killing the cat, a whole thing with screenwriters, cats are predators, ship’s cat, killing all the mice, its just what they do, the cat and the alien looking at each other, humans not at the top of the food-chain, the cat is a stand-in for us, what are they doing there?, for the pure science, all about the science, Ian Holm, Bilbo is the badguy, Big Night (1996), he would have made the best dreamer, hinted at or explicit, petroleum engineer, one more Gothic theme, death and decay, a celebration of entropy, less energy in the system, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, all that wealth, any vampire story, 7 canisters of cn-20, Hudson is Parker, nuke the entire site from orbit, Burke, a substantial dollar value attached to it, the true enemy, a goddamned percentage, Burke, Ash, Easter, the true enemy is not the alien, a manager, a desolate planet, Tumbbad (2018), a period horror film, the terror of money, back to Conrad, The Secret Sharer, the literary roots are substantial, Dan O’Bannon, Dark Star, hard science fiction, the landing sequence, Aliens as an action film (Rossatron), cornbread, a last supper, the food’s not that bad, genuine shock, scream queen, Veronica Cartwright, frozen, the horror, not a fault, seeing it in the theaters, ushers were fainting, leaving the theater to vomit, Bryan saw it the opening weekend, May 1979, running from the theater, a simpler time, visually shocking, its a chicken egg, the posters are lame, hiding everything, the music, what is this?, Blade Runner (1982), Vintage Season by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, Blue Thunder (1983), helicopter genre, a show built around a car, Magnum, P.I., subversive, about surveillance, innovative and interesting, Roy Scheider, Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce (1985), Return Of The Living Dead (1985), Total Recall (1990), Screamers (1995), Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Bleeders (1997), The Lurking Fear by H.P. Lovecraft, Heavy Metal (1981), the professional reviewers didn’t like it, the current aesthetic, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, a problem for a lot of reviewers, perfect for a young person, look at me aren’t I horrific, the wonders that some things present irrespective to what you bring to judging them, such an amazing experience, following politics for a living makes you wrong about everything, feeling the temperature of reality, foolish professionalism invades everything, invading academia, what they want, a model in your mind of what needs to be there, being open to things, corporatism, the faceless (inhuman) faces of the company, it can’t care it can’t love it’s perfect like the monster, “Jesse, you admire it, don’t you?” “He admires its purity.”, a cat named Ash, the fluffiest nicest cat, blending horror and science fiction, rip-offs, Event Horizon (1997), lost footage in Romania, Dead Space, Halo, Mass Effect, Leviathan (DLC for Mass Effect 3), Alien: Isolation, DLC Crew Expendable, recreating the whole set for the game, so terrifying, VR on PlayStation 4, Doom: Alien TC, shareware, The Expanse, The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, eject myself, exhausting, a workout, the opening, doing novelizations, the start, written in three weeks, “You must understand”, dreaming professionally, most organized of all artists, he’s talking about writing novelizations, Splinter In The Mind’s Eye, how you end up reading novelizations, you’re rejected because you’re too young, the W.H. Smith’s, reading novelizations out of spite, denied, the power of books, books are less censorable, why Jesse loves ThePirateBay.org so much, spending so much time in second hand bookstores, serial killer books, a way to avoid censorship of parents and society, society, not even the government, a ratings board, cartel, how the Comics Code Authority worked too, the way the internet’s going, certain things are unacceptable, we get crushed like the crew, an escape, thoughts beyond Alien, so fun, thank you!
The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 36 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
aunt?, ownt?, The London Mercury, April 1922, H.P. Lovecraft, pretty damn interesting, is it a ghost story?, Robert Aickman, Fontana Book Of Ghost Stories (Volume 1), M.R. James,, E.F. Benson, Thomas Liggoti, is it a vampire story?, a very successful ghost story, is it a witchcraft story?, necromancy, psychic vampirism, all about mood and sustaining a mood, atmospheric, very, creepiness sneaks in, chills up and down the spine,
“Deserving of distinguished notice as a forceful craftsman to whom an unseen mystic world is ever a close and vital reality is the poet Walter de la Mare, whose haunting verse and exquisite prose alike bear consistent traces of a strange vision reaching deeply into veiled spheres of beauty and terrible and forbidden dimensions of being.”
in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, rumors about an ancient castle under which is a conclave of demons, not truckle with psychological fudging, real life stories, never tipped over the abyss, a feeling of being haunted, the weight of disbelief, monster,
“Of the shorter tales, of which several volumes exist, many are unforgettable for their command of fear’s and sorcery’s darkest ramifications; notably Seaton’s Aunt, in which there lowers a noxious background of malignant vampirism”
Shades Of Darkness adaptation, 9/10ths close to the book, a big switcheroo, switching the roles, dialogue from the story, adaptations are people interpreting, interpretive decisions, the girl Alice, more life to her at the beginning, the casting, what a role, a role of a lifetime, no eating, a mountain of a woman vs. doll-like, that thin and hungry look, her hair, a wig, dark hair, all this history, how intense people are, things going on, the number of parallel things that are happening, the first meeting the second meeting, the school, the strand, creepier, it feels like an actual memoir, weary of for no good reason, Withers, why is he telling this story, a chapter in a memoir, not very good person, Seaton’s not perfect, maybe this aunt is very moral, she does pretty much everything wrong, a huge colossal biotch, from a shit’s point of view, “a creature”, why does she act that way, she’s a prick or in league with the devil, she is a monster (in a any sense of the word), a horrible person, spite, little mind games, this is not Seaton’s story, may ownt, an extraordinary figure, a non-supernatural story, what made a person like this?, maybe she just way to much Lovecraft when she was young, we English, pongo, ape, monkey, bribed every time, some jam, lunch, expensive wine, the everyman, self-involved, does she kill him?, the roles were switched, bells and sparks, that chess scene,
Seaton’s aunt was wearing an extraordinary kind of lace jacket when we sidled sheepishly into the drawing-room together. She greeted me with a heavy and protracted smile, and bade me bring a chair close to the little table.
“I hope Arthur has made you feel at home,” she said, as she handed me my cup in her crooked hand. “He don’t talk much to me; but then I’m an old woman. You must come again, Wither, and draw him out of his shell. You old snail!” She wagged her head at Seaton, who sat munching cake and watching her intently.
his room is full of cages, down at the pond, a dysfunctional family,
“And we must correspond, perhaps.” She nearly shut her eyes at me. “You must write and tell me everything behind the creature’s back.” I confess I found her rather disquieting company. The evening drew on. Lamps were brought in by a man with a nondescript face and very quiet footsteps. Seaton was told to bring out the chess-men. And we played a game, she and I, with her big chin thrust over the board at every move as she gloated over the pieces and occasionally croaked “Check!”—after which she would sit back inscrutably staring at me. But the game was never finished. She simply hemmed me defencelessly in with a cloud of men that held me impotent, and yet one and all refused to administer to my poor flustered old king a merciful coup de grâce.
teaching chess, the aunt and Withers are parallel, Arthur chose him, something of his aunt there, toying and sparing,
“There,” she said as the clock struck ten—”a drawn game, Withers. We are very evenly matched. A very creditable defence, Withers. You know your room. There’s supper on a tray in the dining-room. Don’t let the creature over-eat himself. The gong will sound three-quarters of an hour before a punctual breakfast.” She held out her cheek to Seaton, and he kissed it with obvious perfunctoriness. With me she shook hands.
“An excellent game,” she said cordially, “but my memory is poor, and”—she swept the pieces helterskelter into the box—”the result will never be known.” She raised her great head far back. “Eh?”
It was a kind of challenge, and I could only murmur: “Oh, I was absolutely in a hole, you know!” when she burst out laughing and waved us both out of the room.
immoral behavior, a cloud of men, how she treats her nephew, Withers or Johnson or Wither or Smithers, another dig, tapping into something very British, mirrored, a dishonest narrator, passing judgement on all and sundry, a hideous old beast, she’s not such a bad old stick, a dull stolid chap, what’s expected, a public school attitude, everyone’s a jolly good sort, a mask for bad behavior, a cavalier with the truth, very calculated, foibles of behavior, you are nothing to me, it’s a test, dare you correct an old lady, is she’s too self aware?, if this were a true memoir, they sneak into her room and hide in her closet, too intellectual for her own good, why she’s a miss, about half way through the book,
We turned and walked slowly towards the house, across whose windows I confess my own eyes, too, went restlessly wandering in search of its rather disconcerting inmate. There was a pathetic look of draggledness, of want of means and care, rust and overgrowth and faded paint. Seaton’s aunt, a little to my relief, did not share our meal. Seaton carved the cold meat, and dispatched a heaped-up plate by an elderly servant for his aunt’s private consumption. We talked little and in half-suppressed tones, and sipped a bottle of Madeira which Seaton had rather heedfully fetched out of the great mahogany sideboard.
I played him a dull and effortless game of chess, yawning between the moves he himself made almost at haphazard, and with attention elsewhere engaged. About five o’clock came the sound of a distant ring, and Seaton jumped up, overturning the board, and so ending a game that else might have fatuously continued to this day.
no malice, interpretation, he’s turning into her, becoming more sympathetic to her, my aunt, we lost all our money, fairly obvious, the aunt has spent the inheritance, stopping at the chemists to get rat poison, WHY?, is Seaton trying to kill his aunt?, a half-term holiday, for his own use, another parallel, what’s with the bangle?, only when pirating, a craze for wearing a ring, a craze for wearing bangles, wearing a rubber band as a bangle, a little affectation, a bit of jewelry, more adult, a bit glamorous, to be interesting and opulent, bullying, perfectly horrid, a touch of the tar brush, not white enough, a bit debonair, a bit gypsy,
I can scarcely describe with what curious ruminations I led the way into the faded, heavy-aired dining-room, with this indefinable old creature leaning weightily on my arm—the large flat bracelet on the yellow-laced wrist.
they are isolated, a maiden aunt, a malevolent creature, sometimes people are weird, weird household cultures, lobster mayonnaise, game sausages, the salad is the monster, a gargantuan appetite, you can’t scare me with your ghost stories, I’ll take it, she’s sure to be quite decent to you, code for child sexual abuse, she’s just a woman, does she lie ever?, the eye in the room, is this an Innsmouth story?, a lot of fishy eyes in this story, Irving S. Cobb’s Fishhead, frog boy?, did he go to the pond, or the sea?, her younger brother, she might be being misread, people turning into dust, Seaton is turning into his aunt, something you like to eat, so interesting,
We walked up the village street, past the little dingy apothecary’s and the empty forge, and, as on my first visit, skirted the house together, and, instead of entering by the front door, made our way down the green path into the garden at the back. A pale haze of cloud muffled the sun; the garden lay in a grey shimmer—its old trees, its snap-dragoned faintly glittering walls. But now there was an air of slovenliness where before all had been neat and methodical. In a patch of shallowly-dug soil stood a worn-down spade leaning against a tree. There was an old broken wheelbarrow. The roses had run to leaf and briar; the fruit-trees were unpruned. The goddess of neglect brooded in secret.
the Goddess of neglect, what the hell does that mean?, the whole opposite view of this whole thing, he’s dying, is he digging his own grave?, his way to try to get away, a keen naturalist, he’s making the best of a bad situation, I like wildness, forklift trucks to do her goddamned hair, the keys to his trust fund, salving a scrap of conscience, a bit of a tightfist, the money is running out, nuts and fruit, he doesn’t want to get too fat, tadpoles, between becoming what he’s going to be, the aunt croaks, he will never,
on one memorable occasion went to the length of bestowing on me a whole pot of some outlandish mulberry-coloured jelly that had been duplicated in his term’s supplies. In the exuberance of my gratitude I promised to spend the next half-term holiday with him at his aunt’s house.
expensive madeira, she sounds like a Lovecraft,
She confided in us her views on a theme vaguely occupying at the moment, I suppose, all our minds. “We have barbarous institutions, and so must put up, I suppose, with a never-ending procession of fools—of fools ad infinitum. Marriage, Mr. Withers, was instituted in the privacy of a garden; sub Rosa, as it were. Civilization flaunts it in the glare of day. The dull marry the poor; the rich the effete; and so our New Jerusalem is peopled with naturals, plain and coloured, at either end. I detest folly; I detest still more (if I must be frank, dear Arthur), mere cleverness. Mankind has simply become a tailless host of indistinctive animals. We should never have taken to Evolution, Mr. Withers. ‘Natural Selection!’—little gods and fishes!—the deaf for the dumb. We should have used our brains—intellectual pride, the ecclesiastics call it. And by brains I mean—what do I mean, Alice?—I mean, my dear child”—and she laid two gross fingers on Alice’s narrow sleeve—”I mean courage. Consider it, Arthur. I read that the scientific world is once more beginning to be afraid of spiritual agencies. Spiritual agencies that tap, and actually float, bless their hearts! I think just one more of those mulberries—thank you.
sounding like Thomas Ligotti, everything sucks, the trap of pessimism, a certain truth to it, justification for all manner of barbarity and horror, survival of the fittest, neoliberal morality, atmosphere building, the deaf for the dumb, intellectual pride, what do I mean Alice?, I mean courage, spiritual agencies, an attack on spiritualism, worst wedding toast ever, worst host ever, my child brother died in it, sleep well, how big a deal, another theory, one more of those mulberries, bastard squirrels, almost all vegetation, pop goes the weasel, Babylonian mythology, silkworms, death and rebirth, they spin their own shroud, Seaton should run away, the horse, she never will or she never would, she knows everything we’re doing, is she telepathic?, does she know the boy is buying rat poison?, cages and boxes, a box with a worm in it, role reversal, a switch, something strange happens near the end, off to tea, she calls him Arthur, is that you Arthur?, the ghost of Arthur?, get out, she doesn’t know, she killed him but she doesn’t even know, a voracious appetite, getting psychically fatter, she’s lost her source of food, she’s dying, conversing with the dead, still floating around the house, nothing to feed off anymore, not wholly embodied, that all seeing eye, seeing into other people’s minds, is he first in his class?, maybe if you apply the rules of science it’s almost like she’s in a superposition, the pile of clothes on the floor, the shoes two meters apart pointing at each other, a bundle of clothes, she’s in her room and she’s not in her room, Schrödinger’s Aunt, she’s just a human being, this story does both, a horror story, she’s a vampiric-witch who can talk to ghosts, The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish gold, easy pickings, bottled souls, old shipmates, three new bottles, his yard, moss covered totemic gods from the South Seas, Smithers Withers Johnson, not wholly of this dimension, why she’s so weird, an alien trapped on Earth, she knows she’s a shit, he does the exact same stuff as she does, not of this earth, a tragedy, the whole takeaway, feeling a little guilt, a life tragedy, nothing but a trap, you’re either a feeder or you’re the food, not an Oscar Wilde, outside of society, so masterfully put together, another way of going, she’s mean because she gives him the small room, who made the room full of cages and boxes, playing goth music all night, all about interpretation, a reflection of me (being in a cage), interesting parallels, a black widow spider, Wayne doesn’t buy that she’s innocent, in league with the devil, what happened to her brother?, a theory for Mr Jim Moon, The Terror Of The Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mother of pearl, a monster in the mine, a letter Seaton, Samuel Seaton, the painting on the wall, the one with the eye is S. Seaton, retelling it as a modern story, he has a VIC 20!, security cameras in every room, we have the same kinds of issues and problems today, most manifest in her awareness of what she’s doing, self-conscious, Alice is almost consciousless, did she move away?, who did she escape?, a weird race of two, the deep one crown in a chest of jewlery, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, trying to find a place to put my sympathy, they’re screwed individually and in combination, All Hallows by Walter de la Mare, a sour church, Blackwood and Machenesque, a BBC Radio abridgement, the story becomes insane without pauses,
you know your space, a powerfully interesting way of writing, layering in themes that are almost ineffable, just words, so much is the way its told, a liberated thoughtful lady, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, occult skill, charged with mockery and bitterness, ruined, processing through a filter of hate, began to play the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. The piano was old and woolly. She played without music. The lamplight was rather dim. The moonbeams from the window lay across the keys. Her head was in shadow. And whether it was simply due to her personality or to some really occult skill in her playing I cannot say: I only know that she gravely and deliberately set herself to satirize the beautiful music. It brooded on the air, disillusioned, charged with mockery and bitterness. I stood at the window; far down the path I could see the white figure glimmering in that pool of colourless light. A few faint stars shone, and still that amazing woman behind me dragged out of the unwilling keys her wonderful grotesquerie of youth, and love, and beauty. It came to an end. I knew the player was watching me. “Please, please, go on!” I murmured, without turning. “Please go on playing, Miss Seaton.”
No answer was returned to my rather fluttering sarcasm, but I knew in some indefinite way that I was being acutely scrutinized, when suddenly there followed a procession of quiet, plaintive chords which broke at last softly into the hymn, A Few More Years Shall Roll.
what significance did the hymn have for her?
I confess it held me spellbound. There is a wistful, strained, plangent pathos in the tune; but beneath those masterly old hands it cried softly and bitterly the solitude and desperate estrangement of the world. Arthur and his lady-love vanished from my thoughts. No one could put into a rather hackneyed old hymn-tune such an appeal who had never known the meaning of the words. Their meaning, anyhow, isn’t commonplace.
I turned very cautiously and glanced at the musician. She was leaning forward a little over the keys, so that at the approach of my cautious glance she had but to turn her face into the thin flood of moonlight for every feature to become distinctly visible. And so, with the tune abruptly terminated, we steadfastly regarded one another, and she broke into a chuckle of laughter.
engaging with him like an adult, the clothes of a man, his coat is too big for him, so grateful for the invitation, I really appreciate it because I’m dying, the paranoid literal ghost haunted victim of an in-league-with-the-devil-aunt, nothing more than a coffin, my brother William died, there’s hundreds of eyes like that in the house, I shan’t stand it much longer, did Seaton commit suicide?, all my plans are falling into place, the old mulberry jelly trick, we are told he has lavish pocket money, that would be in character, so lonely, the bangle as an amulet against her, Alice Outram, some good stuff, a now lost medieval village in Derbyshire, early 1900s travel, piggy back rides and hiding in closets, candles, a fascinating story, Seaton is definitely a liar, you were supposed to best man, more on the ball, creeped by the aunt, you hypocrite, a mismatch between emotions and what people say, being clever and arch, snarky, is it about control or just being playful, so much free-rangeness, allowed bullying to flourish, snapchat bullying, the mistakes of perception that you have in childhood, a confession story, somewhere in there Withers is having an argument with Seaton, some guilt, mistreating the old bird, what she says, calculated cruelty, emotionally abusive, emotionally neglectful, no sexual or physical abuse, she never lies to him, she never gaslights him, that never happened, you’re wrong, she demeans him, she knows everything that I think and what I do, he’s a squashed human, squashed at school, victimness, uninterested in his emotional being, baby monkeys, the monkey Withers, a monkey in with a tadpole, very subversive, what is the question, what is this story?, not fantasy, not science fiction, definitely weird fiction, vampire is stronger than ghosts (in here), prehistoricism, eternal evil, Silurians (Doctor Who reference), Doggerland, it feels so Lovecrafty because of all the fish, he is doomed, The Rats In The Walls, The Moon Bog, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan,
And again I paused irresolutely a few paces further on. It was not fancy, merely a foolish apprehension of what the raw-boned butcher might “think” that prevented my going back to see if I could find Seaton’s grave in the benighted churchyard. There was precious little use in pottering about in the muddy dark, merely to discover where he was buried. And yet I felt a little uneasy. My rather horrible thought was that, so far as I was concerned—one of his extremely few friends—he had never been much better than “buried” in my mind.
dark!, a dark philosophy,
I was not a man of the world, nor was I much flattered in my stiff and dullish way of looking at things by being called one; and I could answer her without the least hesitation.
“I don’t think, Miss Seaton, I’m much of a judge of character. She’s very charming.”
“I think I prefer dark women.”
“And why? Consider, Mr. Withers; dark hair, dark eyes, dark cloud, dark night, dark vision, dark death, dark grave, dark!”
she’s goth, yo,
Perhaps the climax would have rather thrilled Seaton, but I was too thick-skinned. “I don’t know much about all that,” I answered rather pompously. “Broad daylight’s difficult enough for most of us.”
The House, by H.P. Lovecraft, is a short poem first published in The Philosopher 1, No. 1, December 1920. The illustrated version, below, came from Weird Tales, March 1948. The artist was Boris Dolgov. Based on the at you’d think it was a Halloween poem. But the poem is explicitly set in June.
The House by H. P. Lovecraft
’Tis a grove-circled dwelling
Set close to a hill,
Where the branches are telling
Strange legends of ill;
Over timbers so old
That they breathe of the dead,
Crawl the vines, green and cold,
By strange nourishment fed;
And no man knows the juices they suck from the depths of their dank slimy bed.
In the gardens are growing
Tall blossoms and fair,
Each pallid bloom throwing
Perfume on the air;
But the afternoon sun
With its shining red rays
Makes the picture loom dun
On the curious gaze,
And above the sween scent of the the blossoms rise odours of numberless days.
The rank grasses are waving
On terrace and lawn,
Dim memories sav’ring
Of things that have gone;
The stones of the walks
Are encrusted and wet,
And a strange spirit stalks
When the red sun has set,
And the soul of the watcher is fill’d with faint pictures he fain would forget.
It was in the hot Junetime
I stood by that scene,
When the gold rays of noontime
Beat bright on the green.
But I shiver’d with cold,
Groping feebly for light,
As a picture unroll’d—
And my age-spanning sight
Saw the time I had been there before flash like fulgury out of the night.
I’ve edited together, cleaned up, and Levelated the 2009 solo LibriVox narration of Henry James’ 1908 novelette The Jolly Corner.
The Jolly Corner is a ghost story, said to be rivaled only by The Turn Of The Screw. Here is narrator Nicholas Clifford’s own description:
James’s protagonist, Spencer Brydon, is an American of 56, returned to New York after 33 years in Europe, where he has apparently accomplished little while living off his New York rentals. His friendship with Alice Staverton, and his engagement in the development of a property awaken him to the possibilities that might have been his, had he chosen a different course of life. The “ghost,” if that’s what it is, is that other self that might have been, and his confrontation with that self and its possibilities leads to a deeply unsettling, yet ambiguous, conclusion.
Having been downloaded more than 7,000 times there’s still only one review on Archive.org page – but it is a very positive review, writes Kydiana:
This is an intriguing and thought-provoking tale. On the surface a ghost story, it is really a story about the ghosts which haunt our own interiors. It poses deep existential questions–Who are we, really? Would we even recognize ourselves in a life in which in which we had made different choices? What does it mean to love someone regardless of how that person develops over the course of a lifetime? Well-read. Highly recommended.
Bryan Baugh‘s illustration of The Dreams In The Witch House is fabulous.
It captures everything I love about this novelette. In a stating his inspiration for the illustration Baugh explains his own experiences, of not being able to appreciate The Dreams In The Witch House, until he had matured. But he also goes on to call it “[an] insane little epic” one “which offers a mind boggling blend of old fashioned haunted-house horror with sci-fi quantum physics and alternate dimensions.
In The Nyarlathotep Cycle, a collection of related stories by various authors, editor R.M. Price wrote this for the introduction to The Dreams In The Witch House:
“Fritz Leiber was right: Lovecraft effected a Copernican revolution in horror by using the fearsome implications of modern science as the subtext for Gothic horror.”
Julie Hoverson, a Seattleite polymath and sometime guest on the SFFaudio Podcast, narrates it for us. A Lovecraft expert herself, Julie has adapted several of his short stories as audio dramas for her 19 Nocturne Boulevard series.
And me? I’m just glad that the twisting non-Euclidean angles of the actual real life witch house, as seen in the Masters Of Horror adaptation of this story, allow me to live within driving distance of Caprica City (where I attended university), the Tomb of Athena (where I went hiking), and Kobol (where I go dog walking).
The Dreams In The Witch House
By H.P. Lovecraft; Read by Julie Hoverson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Provider: Julie Hoverson
Provided: April 2013 Walter Gilman, a student of mathematics and folklore at Miskatonic University, rents a local rooming house. First published in the July 1933 issue of Weird Tales.