Talked about on today’s show:
cobber, guv’nor, tinhorn, ex-firster, a contemptible person, the Australian etymology, comrade, a revolution book, profound and deep and amazing, not the greatest science fiction novel ever written, no illusions, leg-clining, leg cling is the best part, ridiculous, weirdness, Helen O’Loy, Nerves, shaping the paperback industry, in the mood for something like, dig deep to keep going, 1.2x speed, police yourself, eastern USA accent?, perfectly adapted to the novel, implacable, a bulldozer through the plot, a fast read, a sweet-spot for science fiction novels, the period, what he’s doing, where this book fits in science fiction, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress but on Mars with more Mickey Spillane, more like tar than noir, Julie likes Maissa’s spirit, the same scenario over and over, Groundhog Day, shaking people down and breaking heads, a 15 page short story, Philip St. John was editor of several magazines, praising his own novel in the editorial, defending the novel against critics, fired from Future Publications, juggling everything, editorials, writing short stories and essays for four magazines, writing the novel while publishing it, a three part serial turns into four, people hate the serial, some people love them, he doesn’t really know where its going to end, this is gonna be okay (and then it fell apart), noirish style, the same trick over and over again, cop tinhorn fighter, Mercury mines, a punched mealticket, what the repetition does, not a fan of security, maybe…, Honest Izzy, didn’t pay-off, why did I get dragged through all this?, why you should be excited to buy this magazine, Van Lihn, a convincing picture of a planet, we were enjoying it, super-sloppy, not detail oriented?, its all getting done badly, apologizing, the height of the massive growth of science fiction magazines, as a product of that period, Dickens did that, he knew his prolific output, Elizabeth Gaskell, the motivation of Shelia, putting a gang together, why she attacked Gordon and was crying, in debt, sold as a slave, this is for what you did to Hilda, as a defense mechanism he hid all his soft feelings behind a tough mechanical exterior, a machine devoid of feeling, too much?, the fix-up, taking stuff in and take stuff out, chapter titles, chapter two is missing, police your prose, “Girl Gangs Of Marsport”, John W. Campbell, appreciating Campbell, the Del Rey books, his fourth wife, he’s a fucking liar, Erik Van Lihn, his Wikipedia entry, a professional liar, the closing editorial, “but it could happen”, happy to see it’s end, a darn fine yarn, doesn’t anyone like it, terrible as a whole, fun bits, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it should have been about Mother Corey, pulpy, the agent of change is a ex-boxer ex-gambler ex-cop ex-whistleblower, a yellow journal, benign agency, a traitor, if you squint a bit or your sick its not that bad, Durance, prison planet, done RIGHT, Australia as prison colony experience, a gloss of paint rather than thinking about ideas, Jerry Pournelle’s Co-Dominion, Sparta (prison planet), he could have done a lot more with this, less than the sum of its parts, what this podcast might be doing, what science fiction is, exploring the things Jesse’s interested in, the South Pacific in the 1830s (without spaceships), set on Mars with rockets and domes and superchargers, not science fiction, an editorial in Science Fiction Quarterly, February 1957, Robert W. Lowndes, P. Schuyler Miller, “The Reference Library”, good heavens!, Bridey Murphy, a suspense story, that’s a crime busting tale, where is the science fiction, it didn’t need to be set on Mars, gangs of New York, westerns, a lawless wild west story, almost no concrete ideas that are particularly speculative, something that Eric (Rabkin) taught Jesse, transformed language, The Teaching Company, an impression of the world in which you’re living, Cuddles, he sands the dishes for her, pioneer stories, designed to give you an impression of a whole world in the background you don’t see in the text, what makes it really science fiction is that it has ideas, so scattershot, he doesn’t follow through, Olaf Stapledon, no characters, idea after idea after idea, what science fiction might be, science is ways of knowing, he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he starts, a Philip K. Dick trick: he makes it symmetrical, the plot and the beatings and the dome punching, goddamned communists!, how do revolutions happen?, interesting as an artifact, imperialism, why certain things look like, a Big Big World, continents and countries and resources, why are people doing X, Y, or Z?, geography and resources, WWII, why are things happening this way, that’s where the oilfields are, like the game Settlers Of Catan, life outside of Marsport, Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold, which is it?, changing from paragraph to paragraph, he’s going to derail an already overly long book, heartland hinterland, the Canadian experience, the resources for the USA, branchplantism, car factories in Ontario, Canada as a the hinterland for the United States’ heartland, the outsiders and the insiders, there’s a dystopia on Earth that we don’t get to see, a corrupt journalist who did a little too much actual journalism, something about his personality, he’s not an upright guy looking for the truth, corrupt but not completely corrupt, the heroes are the agency, East Germany, everyone has a secret badge, we’re gonna eat strawberries and cream, White Tiger (2012), this Jesus figure, t-34s, praying to the god of tanks, a very strange Russian movie, Duel (1971) TV movie, The Haunted Tank, why?, Ok?, The Killer Angels, two strange scenes at the end, a long scene with Hitler, the unconscious desire of Europe, is that the European psyche?, the audience?, equally baffling, unconditional surrender, talking about the food, the Russians bring in desert, what is this?, strawberries and cream, come the revolution we’ll all eat strawberries and scream, the revolution has come, when the revolution comes, a downtrodden people, what the rich people always have, playing all these ideas out, why it is a weak science fiction novel, you’re like Judas, they stuck in his throat, the methods used betray the ideals, that’s what we like about Gordon: he uses all the wrong means, the thirty pieces, none of it makes any sense, he’s busy in the kitchen and some things are burning, James Blish’s review: it’s naturalism but not realism, unpleasant matter, a normal sexual relationships, a bundling scene, they kiss, a normal reaction, goes nowhere, the naughty parts for a 1953 science fiction audience: salacious, Samuel Beckett, trance writing, humourless, the voting chapter, vote early and often, Alfred Bester could hold it together, the difference between a great writer and a medium writer, I’m expecting people to pick up…, roiling around, tossed salad and scrambled eggs isn’t revolutionary, Les Misérables, about redemption?, building something together, a change of mind, it’s horribly written, women’s psychology in the fifties, lock this room for a week, how little depth it has, you seem alright in a way, your boots, arranged marriage, if a lady tries to stab you or breaks a bottle over your head she likes you, a book club, five hours like eons, Jesse made Wayne June read the 60 hour Jerusalem by Alan Moore, and Evan has already finished it, baseline science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, picking vs. talent, don’t even try to defend it, shotgun, the setup and the dome and the boots, and we’re all spy, what about the drugs?, street drugs, they’re all starving to death, social control, undercooked, ideas he doesn’t do anything with, we should read Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, why books used to have chapter names, editing out the “this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain”, editing, so amazing, first published in 1980, Julie’s mom loves Alfred Bester, on Earth and so good, a nebula nominee, doable, electric bliss, Jesse has pirate powers, spoiled it!, plus five stars, The Rosie Project, The Man Who Fell To Earth, a book about chess, Squares Of The City by John Brunner, Jesse is the best ever.
Talked about on today’s show:
a peep at Polynesian life, 1846, in which the protagonist is eaten, the island itself is non-fiction, Paul’s theory, Melville wanted to talk about the non-fictional aspects, how horrible western society was treating the islanders, this is not right, his most popular book (in Melville’s life), drawn from life, no one liked his imaginative stuff, the introduction, it proved to be popular on board ship, doth he protest too much?, the appendix, what the French are doing, what’s going to happen?, Evan’s first three podcasts episodes, his time amongst the cannibals, improved style (not improved microphone), writing scripts, 200 episodes, starting with the Lovecraftian element, the South Seas as a place where the Deep Ones made a deal, Dagon, biographies of Melville, lifestyle, wealthy families in decline, Edgar Allan Poe, a genetic East Coast elite white guys, a history of whaling, a literary genetic connection, Chapter 21, one day in returning…, Stonehenge, the druids, peculiar construction, so profound is the shade, he doesn’t believe the natives built these constructions, divine origins, an extinct and forgotten race, musing at the pyramid of Cheops, built upon massive stone foundations, the burying grounds, the race has deteriorated, habitual indolence, incontestable marks of great age, under the direction of Monu, dedicated to the immortal wooden idols, are there stone foundations all over the Marquesas?, this is a book about labour, Pierre and Confidence Man, Herman Melville Wants You To Quit Your Job, Bartleby, The Scrivener, one of the last places colonized by humans, a metaphor?, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, the white Sphinx is a symbol for us, it baffles us, deep time, a post scarcity society, Hawaii, ravaged by colonialism, breadfruit, the mom, no resentment, profiting from previous generations, universal basic income, young people like tattoos!, colonial gaze, work is going on, not the work we’re used to, alien, salmon runs in the Pacific North West of North America, how much of this story is true?, only there for four weeks vs. four months, why do they want to keep Tomo?, endo vs. exo eating, cannibalism is real, the parallels between the beginning and the middle, Melville is so funny, a delight to read, the lack of food on the ship, poor Pedro the one rooster who ends up in a coffin under the Captain’s vest, all the French ships, taboo, Tomo and Toby, fleeing servitude, fleeing their tribe, deserters, why don’t they want them to flee?, no lack of food, pig and breadfruit and coconut, a long history of indigenous history taking in runaway slaves, John Jewitt, Maquinna, Nootka Sound, the Mourning Wars, Iroquois, you are now uncle Joe (who died), the same phenomenon, all the attention he gets, seen in relief, character list, bathe his body, a local celebrity, in a post scarcity environment, novelty and celebrity, social capital, I know Wayne June!, flee my tribe, all his fears of being cooked, Moby-Dick, Queequeg, selling his heads, essentially married, a delight, Fayaway, tattoos, do your face, in the tribe, becoming one of them, he can never go back, hilarious, a blank canvas, they’re not going to eat him, pantomime, the valley of the Hapars, they’ll eat you, they can’t be trusted, maybe that was Toby, an equivalent of Toby, endocannibals, preserving the spirit and the flesh, the cracker and the wine, she Jesse fear Paul, transubstantiation, concretized, perpetuated dogma, an innate sense of the value of humans, preserving your relationship to your loved ones, a beautiful thing, had the captain kept on his journey, the raft of the Medusa, what happened to the other guys?, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, the narrator ate one of the survivors of the shipwreck, cannibal sailors, Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, a sacrament, Mike broth, journeys in the Pacific, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Chapter 26, the descriptive chapter titles, the marriage system on Nuku Hiva, popping the question, tedious courtships are unknown, a very tender age, a frolic of the affections, of graver years, as harmonious as so many turtles, supplementary husbands, no wife has less than two husbands, the matrimonial yoke, Marissa VU, 1970s, the roots of Science Fiction, a Silverberg story, a month-wife, what gender relations will be like when you get down the road from birth control, if you don’t like your husband…, a house-raising, this Garden of Eden, a fucking warship, thinking long and hard, as soon as the missionaries come, prostitution, a metaphor for transition, corrupted and twisted, the missionary gaze, the material reality of colonialism, the mosquitoes, flies, not utter heaven, it probably gets hot, a foil for European sexuality, Denis Diderot’s The Supplement For The Voyage Of Bougainville, French and Tahitan societies, women are not considered property, 1780s, those Enlightenment people, Coming of Age in Samoa by Margaret Mead, no property transfer, the slaving system, exogamy, no formal manumission, fix the guns, make the pop-guns, a novelty, an exciting item, the humans have great value in themselves, what’s really going on there, roving feet, greener grasses everywhere, Omoo, his name is Typee, taken to the court of a Polynesian princess, I’ll just be your dude, white people hanging out, behold the glorious result, Christian worship, Honolulu, draught horses, evangelizing beasts of burden, your money, you in your salons, Christianize the Pacific, not doing any good, you’re doing wrong here, the devestation of the pacific, what’s about to happen, six French warships, claim it for the Republic, Liberty, enslave and make an empire, middle 1840s, Empire’s on the books now, The White Pacific: U.S. Imperialism and Black Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War Paperback by Gerald Horne, the sea-otter fur trade, claims to have eaten Captain Cook’s big toe, white people parties, the flavour of Captain Cook’s toe, the full barrel, a great adventurer, what a shame, fantasize about writing, Magellan killed by the Filipinos and Cook killed by the Hawaiians, Captain George Vancouver, a feat of imposture, medieval relics, the effect of this book, the heads, The Red One by Jack London, the ancient astronauts idea, New Guinea, oral cultures, flexible stories, losing the knowledge of what was known, but gaining value, Bros. Grimm, ossified or concretized, creepy pastas, taking away the sharp edges, Tangled 2, Frozen 2, Moana (2016), for kids, if you’re interested in the frontier, how do the women get anywhere, an arbitrary tabu, [Jesse was thinking of a story entitled The Victim from Space by Robert Sheckley] Robert Silverberg’s Worlds of Wonder, Science Fiction 101, the narrator’s from Earth, giant paws, second pulse of migration, The Monsters by Robert Sheckley, Don’t Forget To Kill Your Wife by Robert Silverberg, a satire of conventions, Colony by Philip K. Dick, I Trusted The Rug Completely by Robert Silverberg, the Pacific is the vastness of space, an alien culture, as alien as anything we’ve ever seen (that’s sentient), first contact, Beyond Lies The Wub, Martian go-birds, the consequences of eating wub, rocket ships and technology, the ideas that are being explored, The Bones Of Time by Kathleen Ann Goonan, the vastness of time and space, King Kamehameha, this nice tourist place, The Brady Bunch goes to Hawaii, a cursed idol, Uncle Tom’s Planet, one thing we know about science fiction writers (they were readers at one time), James P. Crow by Philip K. Dick, dealing with the past in their own stories, as close to Philip K. Dick as you can find, a pretty weird guy, how many stages the rocket has, just a guy who likes writing and likes ideas, not as obsessed with boobs, the sociology of what’s going on in a culture, Bring Me The Head Of Prince Charming, Roger Zelazny, Human Man’s Burden, The Native Problem, distant seas of talking, one of Evan’s favourite passages, climate change, China, Taiwan, not having a job is a humiliating state, make peace with consumption, a lot of moralism, anxiety about consumption, have fewer people, abolish the suburbs, Chapter 31, the girls again, dressing their fair and abundant locks, bathing five times a day, coconut oil, hair gel, the wages of living in this kind of world, not even a podcast even, or writing a book, or writing music, what will we do when we don’t have work?, the Puritan work-ethic, the Green New Deal, people need a job, people need meaningful work, a lot of nail salons, pet stores, pet waxing, no bookstores, a little puppy time, what kids want to do, some girls just don’t go outside, a local dude who wanted to look really fair, Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1957, restless blue-grey seas, a secret desire to be dead, a woman who loves truly and well, I’m through wasting my time, the sin against her father, the most precious thing a woman can give a man (a painful death), the ethos you’ve stepped into, long-pig (human meat), a Warner Bros. cartoon, the volcano god, Strange Eden by Philip K. Dick, Circe, transforming men into animals, why pigs?, the point of that story, other animals mentioned, lions, big cats, wolves, Brent is served meat and bread, is Circe turning men into pigs so she could eat them?, tastes like pork, Silverlock by John Myers Myers, what would have happened to Odysseus?, a fox, trickster, working out his own ideas, such a weird story, a fantasy with a science fiction setting, Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick, it could never work as an Electric Dreams episode, Evan is obsessed with work, maybe its a very Melville story, indigenous person, something very appealing about this, that colonial gaze, academic-y terms, Orientalism by Edward W. Said, witches, forming covens, In Thessaly by Clark Ashton Smith, The Golden Ass, transformation into animals, from the 2nd Century, inset tales, Scheherazade, Chaucer, story with the story, Borges, we’re lucky to live in such times, Evan needs to escape work, guaranteed basic income, too hung up on work, rich people bore Evan, Evan’s students resist it, sailor in a land full of Typees, in Marseilles the men are just sitting around drinking coffee all day, the labour movement, 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what we will, working three jobs, she’s not bragging, the fundamental disconnect, industry, economy, hard work, saving, the more moral meaning, these have to be abolished, a cultural revolution, back in China, picking on the Buddhist monks, post scarcity communism, the clock and the time discipline, knights fighting snails, The Myth of the Machine by Lewis Mumford.
The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)
Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself
At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.
beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,
Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.
a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,
Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.
It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.
That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.
poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,
And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.
the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,
“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”
-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)