The SFFaudio Podcast #513 – READALONG: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #513 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Evan Lampe talk about Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown.

Talked about on today’s show:
1798, Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale, first novel, the first author who got paid for a living in the United States, a weird first big novel, a weird country, a founding document is a strange book, Bryan’s thesis, connectivity issues, Bryan’s dissertation, Edgar Huntly, the doppleganger as a motif, the romantic era, British poems, not allowed to include Americans, teaching, the gimmick is sleepwalking, murder, Indian war, Skywalk: The Man Unknown To Himself, talking to Americans, in and out of fashion or focus, prefering the manly nature stuff, freakishly bizarre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature, James Fennimore Cooper, The Last Of The Mohicans, American muscular exceptionalism, written for women, a female protagonist, a horror story, violence against women, murder, Natty Bumppo, waking up in a cave, like Rambo, violent novels, religious violence, nature, nature worship, nature is terrifying, incinerator by divine pyrotechnics, American Writers: 100 Pages At A Time, dense, super-high level vocab, distancing from the events, the whole back half, a very strange recommendation,

Of Mrs. Radcliffe’s countless imitators, the American novelist Charles Brockden Brown stands the closest in spirit and method. Like her, he injured his creations by natural explanations; but also like her, he had an uncanny atmospheric power which gives his horrors a frightful vitality as long as they remain unexplained. He differed from her in contemptuously discarding the external Gothic paraphernalia and properties and choosing modern American scenes for his mysteries; but this repudiation did not extend to the Gothic spirit and type of incident. Brown’s novels involve some memorably frightful scenes, and excel even Mrs. Radcliffe’s in describing the operations of the perturbed mind. Edgar Huntly starts with a sleep-walker digging a grave, but is later impaired by touches of Godwinian didacticism. Ormond involves a member of a sinister secret brotherhood. That and Arthur Mervyn both describe the plague of yellow fever, which the author had witnessed in Philadelphia and New York. But Brown’s most famous book is Wieland; or, The Transformation (1798), in which a Pennsylvania German, engulfed by a wave of religious fanaticism, hears voices and slays his wife and children as a sacrifice. His sister Clara, who tells the story, narrowly escapes. The scene, laid at the woodland estate of Mittingen on the Schuylkill’s remote reaches, is drawn with extreme vividness; and the terrors of Clara, beset by spectral tones, gathering fears, and the sound of strange footsteps in the lonely house, are all shaped with truly artistic force. In the end a lame ventriloquial explanation is offered, but the atmosphere is genuine while it lasts. Carwin, the malign ventriloquist, is a typical villain of the Manfred or Montoni type.

is the next book about x-ray specs, the Binding of Isaac, based on a true story in upstate New York, your local history, Washington Irving, Anthony Boucher’s They Bite, the cannibalism aspect, religious fanaticism, Carwin is a bit villainous, a thing going on with the maid, a genealogy of religious madness, an unreliable narrator, quite unhinged, a very Lovecraftian theme, inheriting the sins of the father, forbidden knowledge, ancient French protestants, this sounds like Lovecraft, half buried in dust and rubbish, his eyes were not confined, seek and you shall find, connection to madness, looking for her father’s old writings, Carwin in her closet, don’t read the book we’ll interpret it for you, teach the Indians how to be good Christians, his own personal religion, twice a day without fail, craziness and religion, really strange, early American history, the American Revolution, The Peopling Of British North America by Bernard Bailyn, America as a Marchland, a marquis, slavery, new religious movements, cults, no established church, a weak echo, Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, the Albigensians, not having a positive view of religion, religious frenzy: the end, a more traditional religious education, an unhinged freethinking frontier religion, the argument of religious authorities, Augustine, the best thing for humans is a good theocracy, Sunday School, mandatory belief, a Comics Code Authority Stamp, if you don’t like it I won’t write any more, William Godwin’s Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, anarchism, what’s the lesson here besides beware of ventriloquists, she isn’t as naive as she sometimes seems to be, a transformation from the brother into Carwin, a rustic friendly atmosphere, science and astronomy, traumatized by nightmares, a nightmare story, her savior is a rapist, I said I was going to rape you because it seemed best at the time, it feels so gothic, throw your voice to get out of dangerous situations, throw your voice to the garbage can behind your muggers, that’s bullshit, The Secret Of Ventriloquism by John Padgett, written for a Thomas Ligotti fansite, 1943, “Benders”, the Kansas serial killer benders, that father was insane, god was talking to him, so full of coincidence, Clara is not reliable, a sign of mental illness, the case that inspired Wieland, we could almost diagnose, showing up at a neighbor’s house naked, not just genetics but also disease, Guy de Maupassant, Who Knows?, The Horla, burn the house down, the brother is definitely insane, the father has been insane for a long time, voices attributed to a stranger with Spanish characteristics, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, charms for protection against vampires, a castle in an American forest, a temple, mysterious stranger, the father’s death and spontaneous combustion, a state of insensibility, his imperfect account, bearing a lamp, a blow from a heavy club, an imperfect tale, half the truth has been suppressed, how it ends, the divine ruler, the religious vs. the rational explanation, the boyfriend, the uncle, a professional, the voices, the original kills in New York, struck by lightning, both natural and supernatural, a sound up on the temple, a pistol discharged, a blazing light, a very striking image, a cloud impregnated with light, a burning bush, ball lightning, naked and scorched and bruised, clothes removed and reduced to ashes, never explained, so devout god visited him and he saw god’s sideboob, Poe is dealing with Radcliffe 50 years later, what’s going on up front, Mulder and Scully, crucial to the Gothic, Gothic explicae, The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, Scooby-Doo, the final chapter, making sense of real phenomenon, lets find out what it is, H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, the temptation of the Ring of Gyges story, a temptation to intervene, always rationalizing, past tense, for those people who want to know what happened to my family, this is her Stormy Daniels book, an essay in Vanity Fair three years later, no one would really write this that way, written for our benefit this way, putting it in the best light, I was paying her, what else is going on, the children, the maids, an upper class family, playing musics and discussing philosophy, suffering from syphilis, paranoia, hearing voices, a psychotic break, Lovecraft’s dad, a gang of men are raping my wife, went to the hospital, a hushing up, can this be rationalized without modern disease theory and modern psychology, In Cold Blood, so familiar, Gary Cole, Fatal Vision, a gang of hippies, Charles Manson, threat of the week, a narcissistic sociopath, Pleyel’s experience, “drifter”, he’s the Rasputin of this mess, lets have a secret meeting, no you idiot, don’t do it!, maybe I should, he’s hiding in your closet, let’s split up, a horror movie trope, drawn to the flame, the implications towards incest, transformed into a Spaniard, Carwin, this non-Spanish crypto-Spanish dude, some guy who doesn’t like me in Ireland, the British Gothic tradition, the Catholic South is very sexual, Othello, every Radcliffe novel, a ritual thing to do, a classic geographical imagination, part-time Spanish part-time English, Germans and Scotch-Irish and Jews, an inherited move, what Jeffrey MacDonald told the investigators, high heeled boots, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.”, the American Revolution angle, hostile to hierarchies and institutions, the corruption of old Europe, Saxony, Chapter 5, the good king, the Prussians, the horrors of war, which eventually happens, Thomas Paine, views on marriage, gender politics, the final scene, no general critique of institutions, a normal life, happiness in France, a Lord in Saxony, The Rats In The Walls, why they moved to the U.S., the Delapore family was murdered by one member and then praised by the neighborhood, the secret of the family was passed down, his family seat, the whole cycle of horror, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the Canadian who comes into take the Baskerville estate, returning to Europe where the sins were ingrained in the family name, start a religion afresh, principled and thoughtful, rigid thinking, too rational, what could have caused this?, a pair of aunts who married a pair of brothers, hints of incest, she’s expecting her brother there, “that’s weird, man”, emotion and passion vs. rationality, a movement driven in part by the Enlightenment, violent, slavery, siding with reason, mental illness, the scene of this contest, a duel, a malignant figure, I leave you to moralize on this tale, Robinson Crusoe goes hunting in Spain, a problem with pagination, a double-tongued deceiver, if only they had gone to church, you gotta think this problem through, a Kantian answer, an 18th century chestnut, the human brain is a pretty good machine until the passions wreck the place, frailty, Robespierre and the Goddess of Reason, The Dunwich Horror, Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, who is he talking to, these are your idols, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a horror book, you don’t wanna go that way, one take on America, American Culture 101, the spontaneous combustion, horror movie scenes, don’t do it!, don’t go down in the basement, hewing trees, where you keep the monsters (the basement), most of the horror takes place upstairs, closets, when did basements become popular?, cellar, I lurked through the day, a trap door, a storm cellar, so strange, so weird, so foundational, the opposite of James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Pierre by Herman Melville, all the heads we’re driving over, Melville’s gone nuts, overblown writing for 200 pages, frustration, speaking to something that everybody knew about then, why was Poe obsessing about premature burial?, fake news, preserved like the bones of a dinosaur, historical criticism, a Gothic dream of factionalism, the Civil War, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, disconnected from religion but surrounded by people who are connected, swimming with the church team, freezing rain, Quaker meetings, another set of friends, the Philosophical Society, equal in extent, very much of the enlightenment, a biloquist, all the voices were Mel Blanc, digging graves in your sleep, astral projection, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, the biggest hoaxer of them all, Channel Zero, creepy pasta, Candle Cove, the tooth monster, about grief, a mobile haunted house, almost perfect, uncanny, a rundown Rustbelt city, modern folklore, a local legend, ventriloquism, that’s so weird, sleepwalking, Rutger Hauer and very meaty, infecting my dreams.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #448 – READALONG: The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #448 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Talked about on today’s show:
1954, a reconstruction of a Norse Saga with Dungeons & Dragons elements, Scott loved it, Jesse found it terrible, and Paul has read it thrice, what would have happened…, Eric Bright Eyes by H. Rider Haggard, idiots and assholes and magic, low magic, striving toward wisdom, the nuclear weapons of magic, Odin, sacrificial Paul, the rules, in the realm of mythology, Beowulf, The Lord Of The Rings, Michael Moorcock’s Elric Of Melnibone, archetypes and gods, greater and deeper, mythic vs. inspired by myth, the language was amazing, Jesse’s not saying much, directly inspired by Beowulf, The Völsunga Saga, an insight into 1000 year old society, The Odyssey, the characters tended to not be very wise, semi-historical, Ragnar Lodbrook, simile nice, toning down the massive metaphors, more about power than it is about ideas, the whole magic sword thing, magic items, H.P. Lovecraft, huge and menacing and powerful and on the edge of our ability to perceive, Skafloc, drawing runes, there’s a demon in here, cursed staves, Dreams In The Witch House, his counterpart (his changeling), screwed at birth, cursed in a Greek or Norse way, more action, not an idea book, all about the ideas, The Forever War, the ideas are not front in center, you can’t touch iron, that’s the rule!, The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven, werewolves, becoming an outlaw, becoming savage, why is he a werewolf, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, not unlike the world was viewed, the revised edition, Bronson Pinchot’s narration, the 1971 revision (made it worse), Gollanz’s reversion, ‘I welded the Broken Sword back together’, a ‘Book For The Blind’ narration, luke warm, The High Crusade, Three Hearts And Three Lions, a WWII officer dropped into the land of fairy, the plot of the Wonder Woman movie, for copyright reasons?, fiddling, the language in this book, poetry, evocative descriptions, half converted Christians, a ghost tells them, that’s the rules, her brother her lover, that’s the tragedy, echoes, the ending was rushed, Valgard, killed by the device, E.F. Bleiler, noir, doomed from the beginning, the characters doom themselves vs. their doomed because of their destiny, why is this happening?, he calls to the raven, hey there’s a battle down the road, dude!? why did you do that?, James M. Cain, for no good reason, stirring the same area of Scott’s brain, pale recreation of Tolkien, thinking about the meta-aspect, that GRAVITAS, WWII, truth, the eternal verities, the truth of story, poetic truth, philosophers, a truth and a resonance, Dunkirk, its hard to criticize anything that is tongue-in-cheek, the bad geography of Middle Earth (Tor.com), philology, Frank Herbert, geology and ecology, monsters doing monstrous things to each other, what makes them powerful, Marissa, imagine you’re copy-editing someone’s work, fixing a falsity, the Goodreads reviews, the reviews of Beowulf, what’s the Bible’s Goodreads reviews, Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg, the epic vs. the novel, ringing false, is this a high fantasy book?, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, science vs. magic, lets shoot the fireballs at each other, Robert E. Howard, the magic sword mentality, Excalibur and King Arthur, his human thews (though very jaguar-like), the strength of 10-hill giants, a really problematic definition, epic vs. sword and sorcery, about scale and stakes, who is casting the fireballs, “an Atlantean Sword”, the magic is in his manliness, about willpower, born to be screwed, the characters don’t seem to know themselves, they are almost pre-conscious, The Odyssey, I’ve made mistakes – I’m going to make more – and here I go, sticking with the tradition he is writing in, that northern tradition, the Neil Gaiman movie script adaptation of Beowulf, The Saga of Eric Brighteyes, set in Iceland, Henry Treece’s Viking Trilogy, on the PDF Page, Viking Dawn, The Road To Miklagard, Viking Sunset, Beothuk, throw down some quotes, a sequel hook, Ragnarok, the unfinished comic book adaptation from the 1960s, good stuff, a book full of sadness, “whence came you hither, fawn?”, the sacred grove, the dryad screams, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, arbitrary rules, the White Christ, real gods vs. fake gods, who and how much power a particular name has, see American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Elf-Trap by Francis Stevens, Carcassonne, Kentucky, why are some characters not allowed to touch iron?, that’s the rules, the afterword, a science fiction-y take, when he isn’t being playful, Three Hearts And Three Lions, marrying science fiction with fantasy, how they can intertwine and make sense of each other, when the Devil shows up, Dante (Alighieri), “the White Christ, time and love”, I knew him of old in my incarnation of Loki, things as other things, fairies from China and India, a very old idea, that’s some deep stuff right there, elf girlfriends vs. human girlfriends, mocking eyes, “oh, you’re one of thooose guys”, “like calls to like”, cold mystery, adopted by elves, mythic, Dragon Magazine, some of the cartoons, straight out of Elric (and this), intelligent swords, willful swords, when you’re sword has a higher intelligence that you do, a tragedy, where’s my place in this world, where’s my place in a Norse saga?, sword dances, a novel for Dungeons & Dragons players, “Brutal, romantic and tragic. no cute hobbits.”

Ballantine Books - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson (1961) fanzine illustration

comic book adaptation of The Broken Sword

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson - Italian

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Boris Vallejo illustration of The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #293 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Podcast

J. Sheridan Le Fanu's CARMILLA
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #293 – Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; read by Elizabeth Klett (for LibriVox). This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (3 hours 7 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Elizabeth Klett.

Talked about on today’s show:
1871, 1872, Elizabeth’s first solo for LibriVox, a per-adolescent kid, Dracula, a novella and not a novel, Dracula is obsessed with its own structure, dictaphone, the manner of the telling, The Dark Blue magazine, the framing device, the Dr. Martin Hesselius framing device, wee have the papers to prove it, not with that ending, so chilling, eight years after the major events, three hundred, Duke Charles, CBS Radio Mystery Theater adaptation, the setting, the nearest inhabited village is twenty leagues away, the ruins of Karnstein, white lilies, swans, perch, in the moat, the story within the story, Spielsdorf’s letter, Millarca and her “mother”, fete, a masked ball, a vampire scam, a glamour on the father, pulling Laura’s father aside, is she glamouring him?, so lonely, giving in to her whim, why don’t the vampires not immediately suck some folk dry?, preying on the village girls, Varney The Vampire, the name as an anagram, the blue mark, the lonely vampire, “you’re going to die into me”, “I live into your warm life and you’ll die sweetly into mine”, Laura has been stalked since she was six, enchanted by the pretty lady, needles, “just a blue spot”, the father and the doctor are shielding Laura, shielding Mina from the truth ends up hurting her, the female characters in both stories are more capable than the male characters give them credit for, religion, the crucifix doesn’t figure into Carmilla, the complicated layering of imagery, Carmilla’s escape from the castle, enclosure, Carmilla can transcend enclosures, transcendent confinement, an extra-transmissive female, the Mountebank peddlar, the little dog, amulets for protection against the oumpire, a very sharp tooth like a fish, a transaction through a window, a liminal space, invading the domestic space, well educated in trickery and juggling, the mountebank half-recognizes Carmillas as a vampire, a clever recipe, Harker’s shaving mirror, Markheim by Robert Louis Stevenson, Carmilla thinks of herself as a product of nature, “all things proceed from nature”, girls as caterpillars while they live in the world, relying on God to take care of us is naive, a post Darwinian perspective, Dracula’s Guest by Bram Stoker, Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss, Nosferatu was nearly destroyed by copyright claims, the invasion of the home, Eric Rabkin, vampires are for aristocrats whereas werewolves are for peasants, The Odyssey as a series of stories about the host-guest relationship, Carmilla’s only virtue is that she’s pretty, Bertha, the striking image of Carmilla crawling onto Bertha’s bed, a phallic sword, there’s no hiding the fact that this is all sex sex sex, The Vampire Lovers, Hammer Horror with nudity, the British Board of Film Censors, “this is literature”, The Killing Of Sister George, Richard LeStrange from Cork, adaptations of Carmilla, the servants, a quick snack on the peasants, bathing in seven inches of blood, Elizabeth Bartolde, floating of coffins in blood, entirely shielded from ghost stories and fairy tales, languorous and dream-like, languorous and languid, a code word for sensual, sated, façade, interest in beauty, metamorphosis, your chrysalis is your coffin, how vampires leave their graves, revenants, Karnstein = fleshstone, out of folklore and into proto-science fiction, turning Laura into a vampire, one of the great questions in Carmilla – who is her mother? who is the man in black, the cuckoo nest scenario, who are these people?, the “broken” carriage charade, the cuckoo in the nest, pushing the other chicks out of the nest, a wonderful horrible story, Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, a lot of Laura victims, lesbianism and incest, corruption beneath the veil of respectability, why the mother is missing, the doom to come, Morella by Edgar Allan Poe, Ligeia, Berenice, all up in the creepy, all possessing consumption, waiting for the fruit to be ripe, Blood And Roses, the petals of the rose, is it like a venereal disease?, M.R. James, the lens of distance,

“Magia Posthuma,” “Phlegon de Mirabilibus,” “Augustinus de cura pro Mortuis,” “Philosophicae et Christianae Cogitationes de Vampiris,” by John Christofer Herenberg; and a thousand others

the rules for vampires, Count Alucard, the writing itself, vic-fic, the clarity and economy of Le Fanu’s prose, clear but evocative, he doesn’t over-egg the pudding.

Aricel Comics - Carmilla, issue 1

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

Carmilla adaptation from Creepy Magazine 19

Carmilla - illustration by Lisa K. Weber

Posted by Jesse Willis