Reading, Short And Deep #408
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Little Movement by Philip K. Dick
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Little Movement was first published in Fantasy And Science Fiction, November 1952.
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
Talked about on today’s show:
Straight waistcoats, the audiobook, the Leslie S. Klinger annotated Dracula, Dracula (1931), Bela Lugosi, The Horror Of Dracula (1958), the 1977 BBC miniseries Count Dracula, the Richard Matheson’s scripted Dracula (1973), Jack Palance and one armed push ups, the 1979 Frank Langella Dracula, the Bram’s Stoker’s Dracula (1992), “whoa Dracula, cool castle!”, Dracula: Dead And Loving It (1995), Love At First Bite (1979), George Hamilton, faithfulness, the Big Finish 4 hour audio drama of Dracula, Mark Gattis, Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula comic, how big a deal Dracula is, Frankenstein, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the Twilight series, Lifeforce, the Mercury Theater – Orson Welles version, Zoltan: The Hound Of Dracula (1978), Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett, a modern vampire family, religion and symbols, don’t judge Paul, reincarnation romance, Mina is the reincarnation of Dracula’s wife, why do we need this reincarnation, The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross, an alien elven princess, an alien parasite, blood, fantasy science, Queen Of The Damned, Anne Rice, dominating vampires, collapsing or eliminating characters, illuminating and confusing, most interesting characters, Dracula’s dairy, The Dracula Tapes by Fred Saberhagen, Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, Renfield, Eric S. Rabkin, Harker as a mirror to Renfield, locked in a castle, eat this bird, hours of talking (no partaking), write letters, I’ve read all your letters, observing eating, Doctor Seward, gas-lighting, why is Renfield the way he is?, Dracula’s Guest, what contacts did Renfield have with Dracula?, the insane asylum, explaining to us what’s really going on, a Socratic question, why is Dracula interested in going to England in the 1890s?, Empire?, evolution, Van Helsing’s speeches, he’s a child, Kenneth Hite, MI5, the unredacted Dracula files, in the role playing setting, Dracula fought the Turks, Dracula was invited to England, The Great Game, the Hypnogoria podcast, wordless Dracula, once you go vampire you’re a feral beast, London, Corey Olsen’s Dracula at Mythgard Academy, Lucy is more sensitive, Renfield was open to the Count, other methods, “the blood is the life”, the Scooby gang, Renfield fighting Dracula, Mina, adaptors don’t know what to do with Renfield, Renfield never gets deleted, Renfield’s role, I wonder why they put that in there?, Renfield as a policeman in Whitechapel?, a little weirder, Renfield as transgender, Dracula likes sucking on women, breaking Renfield (instead of sucking his blood), if it isn’t just all about sex, more vitality, another reading, books about Dracula, Renfield as a John the Baptist character (a Harker or a herald), moving up the food chain, the Hammer movies, Dracula as a satanic figure, a most ancient vampire, the secret origin of Dracula in Chapter 18, many dealings with the evil one, an evil Hogwarts, the 10th student of the Devil, deconsecrating, Kim Newman, invasion literature, what if the Germans won WWI or WWII?, The Battle Of Dorking, a more subtle invasion, Lucy as Helen of Troy, multiple suitors who represent different classes and kinds of Englishness, Van Helsing as a kind of suitor, Carfax Abbey as Troy, everybody who meets her loves her, Lucy Westernra, light of the west?, the stealing and breaking of a marriage, West vs. Wast, good vs. evil, you can’t avoid the religion, Dracula as an inversion of Jesus Christ, selfishness vs. unselfishness, a sanguine temperament, banding together, resonating with humanity, the Lyceum theatre, a Greek temple, the guest host relationship, enter of your own free will, invitations, Dracula locks you in, Polyphemus, almost a French farce, obsessing over housebreaking, covering their asses in London, breaking the hinges off the door, why the gypsies are the bad guys, The Curse Of Strahd (Ravenloft), Romania, Transylvania, the Borga Pass, the two fingered salute, the evil eye, the heavy metal devil sign, extra garlic, Mina’s dairy, very superstitious = wisdom, recipes, comparing Dracula to Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, long council sessions, here’s what we know, coming out in the daylight, True Blood, burying those who will become vampires, Dracula has a dream, I never drink … wine, “it’s good!”, walking in daylight, why does Dracula go to the zoo?, the zookeeper and Dracula conversation, a symbolic element, the old sailor in the seaside cemetery, so much going on, extending life, immorality in the body vs. the soul, the tombstones, the lies, dragging the tombstones to Saint Peter, The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, he’s everybody, why is Dracula’s house empty?, the wiggling bag (with baby in), the lights on Walpurgisnacht, Halloween, the will-o’-the-wisp, the flickering corpse lights, gathering up local caches of gold, served by cows, chickens, and pigs, gothy junkies, he doesn’t have to dine on everybody he meets, tools, more discriminating about what you eat, the shaving glass, nobody wants to eat Renfield, what H.P. Lovecraft took from Dracula, The Call Of Cthulhu, if I was Dracula, 50 boxes, holy earth vs. unholy earth, a perversion, the question of Dracula cooking, looking at a beautiful girl, the Bloofer Lady, Jesse’s theory as to the meaning of “bloofer”, nobody has jobs, presuming beautiful as the meaning vs. having blue fur, bat and gas, a wolf and a werewolf, blue fur lady, the kids are very free-range, cockney urchin speak, Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, one really interesting thing, Dracula’s Brides (or Wives), breaking the rules, the novel is about marriage, Lucy talks about her suitors, I wish I could have more than one husband, psychology, the sexuality of Dracula, Lucy’s bedroom visitors are her suitors, she loves them all, Harker’s photo of Mina or Lucy and Mina, why Dracula focuses on them, a weird relationship between the four suitors, Quincey Morris, Pampas, vampire bats, vaquero, world adventurer, Doctor Seward, Lord Holmwood, Abraham Van Helsing, intravenous bodily fluids, candle spills sperm,
Van Helsing went about his work systematically. Holding his candle so
that he could read the coffin plates, and so holding it that the sperm
dropped in white patches which congealed as they touched the metal, he
made assurance of Lucy’s coffin. Another search in his bag, and he took
out a turnscrew.
non-sexual connotation, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, sounding like Eric S. Rabkin, seeing sex in everything, it’s weird, Mina’s child gets the name of all the men, their all the father of that baby, everybody knows that Dracula is all about the sexiness, all of the repression, literally stated in the diaries, this is the way I can get everybody, the perversion of the feeding, reading backward, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, how things become popular, how repressed the Victorians weren’t, a golden age of brothels and hookers, crimes against children, Stoker’s breaking a prime taboo in fiction, killing children, a comics adaptation, sexually charged scenes, Jesse completely disagrees, a technological novelty, a hysterical fit, we’re all married to her, an aura, investing it with something backwards, Paul watches the ping pong match, with modern eyes and sensibility, could they have used electric lanterns, even if it wasn’t intended, what does our Dr. Van Helsing say?, the coffin as another bed, a deliberate mirror of earlier scenes, stakes as totemic items, destroying the body so it ain’t gonna get up again, ultraviolence, garlic as an anti-septic, the staking of Lucy, a dark mirror, very nicely negotiated, reading differently, killing Lucy to save her soul, how good Mina is, the look of peace on Dracula’s face, he was a great, good, and wise man, restoring Dracula, giving the novel a closure, a sequel by Stoker’s great grand kid, our adventurers, how do we resurrect Dracula?, all the symetry that we like, the three brides and the three suitors, so meta, epistolary elements, a found footage book, Fangland by John Marks, how great this typewriter is, The Hawkins Papers, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society props, the writing, transcribing the wax cylinder, S. by Doug Dorst (J.J. Abrams), watching Dracula at the gym, it has legs, like The Lord Of The Rings, when you think vampire you think Dracula, what if Dracula doesn’t exist, a lot of insanity, a conniption, disease, marriage, insanity, a mundane book without Dracula, hysteria, secrets, Seward and Dracula and Harker, she has the brain of a man, Jim is brooding, invisibility, Nosferatu, shadow, mirrors, we don’t have reflections because we don’t have souls, vampires leaving the grave, a fat beached leech, more Dead And Loving It, ruder shadow, Van Helsing (2004), movie direction-style descriptions, a surprisingly modern novel, set slightly in the future, a Science Fiction novel?, audio notes, new theories, Kate Reed, the Dracula tv series, the Victorians (a mass of contradictions), Inventing The Victorians by Matthew Sweet.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1915, Blackwood’s Magazine, a propaganda novel, the propaganda ministry, pro-empire, Buchan’s later job, Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, the Orson Welles adaptation, Mercury Theater, Welles’ propaganda pieces, Nazis invading Canada (Nazi Eyes On Canada), ultima thule, if Operation Sea Lion had worked…, Nazis in Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, Isle de Crozet, the coolest island ever, Jules Verne, why does our hero go to Scotland?, veldcraft, Greenmantle, Richard Hannay, the comic, Brian thought it was a riot, a brisk read, elegant prose, the BBC Radio documentary on John Buchan, judging everything, “subjective”, coincidences, sooo convienient, the human civilization, The Riddle Of The Sands by Erskine Childers, another sneaky German plot, the Patrick O’Brian books, the invasion novel genre, mining British harbours, u-boats, a shocking incident, Scapa Flow, Winston Churchill, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household is the WWII version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Constantine Karolides, war was inevitable, popular in the trenches?, Hannay eats well on the run, cliffhangers, Adrian Praetzelis, a semi-bald archaeologist, Jesse’s dream theory, tired of London …. not enough exercise … lo and behold a murder plot… sleep and dream and wake, a Freudian sense of everything being really nearby, the climax became surreal, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, how to deal with those in between, The Prisoner Of Zenda, “honestly this is impossible”, boys own adventure, James Bond, Dracula, how do these things work in detail, I’m pretty good with disguise, a sign of good writing, villain to do lists, don’t lock the hero in a room filled with explosives, act like you belong there, the roadman scenes, the milkman was a precedent, disguise as psychology, ridiculous of imposture, the speaker at the liberal candidates meetings scene, Australia or free-trade, Asquith, Liberals, free-trade within the empire, as satisfying as a mortician, the eloquence of an emigration agent, a ripping speech Twizden, Hammond, something that always changes is the meaning of the title, the Black Stone (Schwartz Stein), when you’re Lord Tweedsmuir…, Jonathan Harker, ordinance survey maps, the corridors of power, having the power of the British Empire at your back, the reward, doubt about British command, yesterday 100 years ago, the Gallipoli campaign, unilateral disarmament, the secret pact, the French are hyper-competent, playing along, just go over the top, your reward is to go to the Western Front, Greenmantle is the direct sequel, the supremely confident at veldcraft, the Germans had found a Muslim prophet, Islam as a powder-keg, the Mesopotamian campaign, a very personal battle while armies clash, a secret history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Duelists by Joseph Conrad, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, The Red Panda Adventures by Gregg Taylor, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Captain Canuck, Declare by Tim Powers, Kim Philby, Brian’s WWI kick, the Eastern front (Turkey vs. Russia), Duel For Kilimanjaro: Africa 1914-1918, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the opening antisemitism (an international banking conspiracy) is just a smokescreen, crazy conspiracy theories, you only believe the unbelievable tale, a wink to the audience, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The United States Of Paranoia by Jesse Walker, the “stab in the back theory”, conspiracies, the Black Hand, seeing the novel in its context, period magazines, stepping into a time machine, having perspective, don’t have secret treaties with France, a landward in Asia, The DaVinci Code, The Grove of Ashtaroth, the Canaanite goddess, Rhodesia, clearing of the land, a weird fiction version of colonialism, Buchan wrote 101 books, Witch Wood (BBC Radio drama), big in to Buchan, Huntingtower, Mr Standfast, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot, Lovecraft’s parody “Wastepaper”, a pre-modern guy, unthinking ideas, a moral victory over the enemy, panache or élan, Memory Hold-the-Door by John Buchan, Canada’s current Governor General (David Johnston), Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, “chloroform in print”, Mark Twain, Fred’s novel is in beta (The Devil’s Dictum), wait fifty years and read the Wikipedia entry, our assessment of things, Shakespeare was too sad or too gory, why teach Julius Caesar? because it has no sex, the Hugos blew up, Ancillary Justice, changing the markets, Bowdlerizing the past, The Tempest, classic science fiction info dump, Miranda is falling asleep, Mr Jim Moon’s take on The Thirty-Nine Steps, the mystery run-around, the Jason Bourne films, stalking on-the-run travelogue format, Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, a British form of pulp, adaptations, North By Northwest, the 2008 TV adaptation the u-boat in a loch, Alfred Hitchock, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Ring, the lack of women, adding women, shoveling women into adaptations, it’s all for Fred’s mom, there’s a gun in the pram, Hannay has an afro in the 1978 adaptation, the ministry of espionage, Mr Memory, the comics adaptation, a bridge to far, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, with access to itching powder…, expansive imagination, in the Twilight books the heroine is a complete cipher, WWI books, WWII books, Armed Forces Editions, the post war interest in H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance in the South Pacific.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Conquest is the next chapter in the great interstellar war between all living creatures and the machines. Star Force must stop the machine invaders once again – but how? In the fourth book of the Star Force series, Kyle Riggs has freed Earth from the chains of the Macros – but at what cost? The Macros no longer trust him. He is a mad dog that must be put down – and all Star Force must be stamped out with him. The war expands in this story, and mankind is once again faced with annihilation.
Conquest is the fourth book in the Star Force series by B. V. Larson and, while it continues the well-established tradition of this series for thrilling military action, it also brings several of the flaws of the series into sharp focus.
Over the course of the previous three novels in the Star Force series, Kyle Riggs has made some bad calls. He has sworn Earth to provide troops for a dangerous enemy, ordered thousands of his troops to their deaths, and cast aside strategic alliances with little thought to the long-term consequences of his actions. Throughout it all, I continued to root for Riggs and the rest of his band, even as I questioned his actions. Now, though, I can’t help but wonder if Star Force is the right team for the job.
Of course, they never were supposed to be the first best choice. Riggs and Crow, the co-leaders of Star Force, were plucked from their homes by brutal machines and only came to command the most technologically advanced army in human history because they managed to survive a brutal series of tests, so it should come as little surprise that these two often resort to brute force to solve their problems. Still, I couldn’t help feeling that these two men were woefully unfit for command when the first few chapters of this book consisted of little more than a super-powered grudge match between them. Riggs, as the narrator and protagonist, does his best to justify his actions to the reader, but many of his arguments can be boiled down to, “I did my best, but I’m not really a soldier.” Meanwhile, Crow is written as a chameleon who repeatedly vacillates between careless pirate and brilliant strategist, with little to no transition between.
One might expect that the return of the giant Macro robots would bring some unity to Star Force, or at least some sound strategic planning, but it doesn’t. Instead, Crow runs away (as usual) and Riggs comes up with some brilliant modifications to the Star Force battle equipment, then fails to use them to their potential (as usual). The one piece of brilliant strategizing that Riggs does manage to pull off, which results in the Macros focusing their attacks on Star Force’s home base rather than assaulting the entire planet, backfires spectacularly when he forgets the lessons learned in his previous fights against both the Macros and the Helios Worms. Riggs knows the Macros are underground, but makes no plans to defend against an attack from below. He gives his troops the ability to fly, but rarely uses that to his strategic advantage. Mistake compounds mistake until only nuclear weapons and convenient force-field failures can save Earth.
Apparently I am not the only one dissatisfied with the leadership of Kyle Riggs, as the author included a subplot of ongoing assassination attempts in Conquest. Obviously, I won’t say who or what was behind the attempts, but I like to imagine that there was some level of symbolism to B. V. Larson’s decision to introduce this plot element. I have to wonder if maybe there is some chance that, by the time he reached this book, Larson had realized that Riggs needs to develop further as a leader and a character.
Mark Boyett does an admirable job narrating this series, navigating the wide range of accents with ease. I did think, as I listened, that I caught a few errors, but I am more inclined to believe that these were missed during the editing of the book, rather than introduced in the recording of the audio. At a running time of just over eleven hours, spanning ten CDs, the book is just long enough to tell the story of the second invasion of Earth without overstaying its welcome. I plan to continue reading this series, but I truly hope to see some growth in strategic thinking from Riggs, or I could see myself beginning to feel sympathetic towards Conquest’s failed assassins.
Posted by Andrew Linke