Reading, Short And Deep #318
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
Fishhead was first published in The Cavalier, January 11, 1913.
The SFFaudio Podcast #449 – Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Oliver Wyman. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Oliver Wyman.
Talked about on today’s show:
100 years old, the beginning, because it is short, At The Mountains Of Madness, the narrator is insane, gone mad with fear, Pete Rawlik, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a great Crispin Glover impersonation, Christopher Walken, the great war was then at its very beginning, pre-Lusitania, the narrator is either British or Canadian or an American working on a British or Canadian ship, inspired by a dream, a Lovecraft-stand-in, internal evidence, a Mid-Atlantic accent, the element of the war, post-traumatic stress, adding ambiguity, illustrations, a LEGO version, on the first page, he’s outside of the boat, “the change happened while I slept”, the heaving vastness of unbroken blue, half-sucked, the surface of the ground matching the undulating black mire, Stranger Things, “the upside-down”, stranded at the bottom of the ocean, being sucked into black slime, how sexual the images are in this, everybody illustrates the creature climbing up the monolith, the one with the monster, an incredibly striking image, a framing story, weeks -> months -> years, three or four years of torture, he was “supercargo”, WWII, The Narrative Of Arthur Goron Pym Of Nantucket, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, two spaceships traveling in intergalactic space crashing into each other, designed to be suspect, “I think I went mad then”, an unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a reverse Atlantean myth, Lemuria, Mu, pre-human horrors, all of this is real, The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith, King Kong, a phantasmagoric eternity of delirium, like The Invisible Man, a coming apocalypse, the oars, a style of storytelling, The Red One by Jack London, the big red thing, it feels like a Lovecraft story, shooting giant butterflies or moths, the Atlas moth, a juju man, the heads, a breadfruit tree, loaded with heads, “the red one”, a giant red sphere, an alien spaceship, a super-powerful weird story, nothing is revealed, the most enigmatic story, ancient astronauts were not a thing until after The Red One, stories really, Erich von Daniken’s Chariots Of The Gods and Life After Life, huskies and dying in the snow, White Fang, Call Of The Wild, The Sea Wolf, Jack London’s science fiction, “hard-ass bastards vs. dilettante assholes”, To Build A Fire, a punch to the gut, feeling SFy, the coldness of space reaching down, being tipped away from the sun, hard SF, the guy needs a spacesuit, that feeling when Luke Skywalker gets stuffed into a tauntaun, looking at the world from an alien perspective, the wisdom of men does not extend to all things, Jack London totally an SF guy, The Iron Heel is mostly lectures, back to Lovecraft, the genre of apocalyptic dream fiction, highlights and stars and boxes, “I cannot think of the deep sea”, “water soaked granite”, clams in their clammy beds, sea-cucumber, eating invertebrates, a horseshoe crab, Oliver is not afraid of going in the water, on the dock, de-crabbing his crab trap, good at clamping, tearing the crab apart, pretty horrific, Paul went to the beach in New Zealand, the deep ones were not invading that day, the HPLHS’ Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, reading the ending in a subversive way, I dream of day, in their reeking talons, war exhausted mankind, universal pandemonium, just end this!, bring on the great old ones!, why is he freaked out?, what’s happening with our species right now, if Jesse is right, taking place in 1917, the horrors of trench warfare, end our inhumanity to each other, might as well have the apocalypse, Keith Roberts’ Pavane, Scott and Luke Burrage, fairies, changing history, researching history (instead of watching the news), some dude went crazy in Las Vegas, country music is not for everybody, this story fits in with that, the general tenor, I got to read more about what the unabomber was worried about, hid and read history and do a podcast,
When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death.
Lovecraft’s inspiration for writing these stories is dwarfing the horror of reality, somebody is putting a name on it, House Of Cards, I miss when politicians were evil (instead of corrupt and inept), we sympathize with their massive ability (and their massive ambition), a fantasy of competence, Ken Burns’ Vietnam, JFK, Obama, a written narrative, I hear a noise at the door, an immense slippery body, that same scene, jumping out the window, that turn, he’s one of them, a fear that he has within him, knowledge bubbling below the surface but which he can’t put name to, “it shall not find me”, “god, that hand”, “the window, the window!”, being digested slowly, the hand is the hand before him, creepy, totally within the text, pre-Shadow Over Innsmouth, subconsciously he’s thinking of all of this, when doing the modelling of that LEGO, seeing other people’s drawings, a sexuality that’s freaking him out, kissing is somebody putting their mouth on you, when people write about sex, detail by detail, beat by beat, drawing a veil over some of it, the carvings and the bas-reliefs on the monolith, a giant man-like creature fighting a whale, reading this as deep ones, each story is independent, are we supposed to…, what size is this monolith, what size is the creature that most people would call Dagon, dimensions, presumably, Polyphemus-like and cyclopean, definitely huge, it’s his, no man could life that, bronze age tombs, when it comes out of the water, it flung its gigantic scaly arms, a child clinging to its mother, certain measured sounds, is it “in heat”, a Freudian interpretation, “loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds.” “certain” is very specific and means nothing, a religious chanting, a sexual thing, I remembered little, “I believe I sang a great deal” and laughed oddly when I was unable to sing. I have indistinct recollections of a “I heard peals of thunder”, over reading, certain people (Ollie Wyman), something deep within us, we know it is powerful, its the questions that propel us forward, when he travels over the surface over the land, nowhere were there sea-fowl, a giant white phallus, walk through the mire, unknown to the modern world, decomposing forms of dinosaurs?, a vision of a present?, Doctor Who’s Silurians, this was all fever dream, the storm broke the fever (and the dream), unless you’re Captain Bligh…, in his dream, I want it to be that way, ancient chthonic creatures or all in his head, tending to the more fantastic, especially when the Moon is gibbous, transient surcease (the lost Lenore is always missing from the Lovecraft stories), written for information (or contemptuous amusement), a hideous vivid vision in reply, it manifests itself before him, Gustave Doré, Bulwer-Lytton, Piltdown Man, Paradise Lost, worries about the reception of his work, a real chip on his shoulder, contempt, self-loathing, self-doubt, nobody likes his poems (except for Jesse and Paul), the psychiatrist is “hopelessly conventional”, alienated, Lovecraft is an alien, Sonia Greene would feed him because he was so thin, had never been in an Italian restaurant (age 30), let’s go in for lunch, Lovecraft watches him eat, why open yourself up to criticism, you end up being a Crispin Glover, Willard, a pale gaunt slender man living in his parent’s garret, New York, Chicago, Sonia Greene was a big fan of amateur journalism (blogs and podcasts), earning the equivalent of $100,000 a year, echo-y with later stuff, The Tomb, “I dreamed that the whole hideous crawl”, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, the sky is also black, its not Carcosa yet, Marissa wants to go there, bring a gas-mask, bring a camera, a great virtual reality environment, almost nothing happens in terms of choices, the Lovecraft role-playing game, The Nightmare Lake, What The Moon Brings, a recurring dream, lotus-petals, sea-birds circling over something in the water, the brow of a giant statue, he goes mad, if he seas what is beneath the brow it will be the end, the hideous stench of the sea, swimming in black lakes, a little bit freaky, the water is much scarier, VR is the hot new thing, Blackstone Audio’s The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Jerome Bixby’s It’s A Good Life, Roger Zelazny, Bill Mumy, the Joe Dante adaptation, Dawn Of The New Everything: Encounters With Reality And Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier, VPL, Playstation VR, HTC Vive, eating virtual food, screen-time, selling the spiritual aspect, how good are computer games?, mixed reality (augmented reality), Steam’s VR environment, on a catwalk in the bowels of Bespin, unendurable vertigo, The Simpsons living room, Audioshield, it makes me feel I’m in a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic, the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Aces Of The Pacific, a rookie pilot in 1943, why Ollie is an actor, pulling the wool over my own eyes, getting into VR, go for an Occulus or a Vive, a VR Star Trek game, Fallout 4 (VR), Psychonauts, cooking an egg and washing dishes in VR, Vanishing Realms, real fight mechanics, its ready, 1991, huge and clunky, more than a bigger monitor, vector graphics?, Dactyl Nightmare, Dire Straits, Max Headroom, Elite Dangerous, Marissa wants to join the church of VR, skiing, under London Bridge, divining caches, friend MrKawfy on Steam and, the interactive entertainment editor of Creem magazine, that raunchy Doom theme, Serious Sam, chainsaw, was the Far Harbor expansion for Fallout 4 Lovecraftian?, the Pickman’s Model house, the Dunwich Borers, a serial killer, get their shit freaked, what are we doing in here?, the problem Bethesda games is the inventory management, a bane on your existence, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, listening to audiobooks while playing games.
Posted by Jesse Willis
First published in The Cavalier, January 11, 1913, Fishhead (aka Blood-Brother Of The Swamp Cats) is something of an ancestor to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
In a letter published the same year, a 22-year-old H.P. Lovecraft, wrote, regarding Irvin S. Cobb’s short story Fishhead:
“It is the belief of the writer that very few short stories of equal merit have been published anywhere during recent years.”
Later, when composing his long essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature, Lovecraft described Fishhead as:
“banefully effective in its portrayal of unnatural affinities between a hybrid idiot and the strange fish of an isolated lake, which at the last revenge their biped kinsman’s murder.”
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #214 – The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft; read by the fabulous Mike Bennett. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novella (3 hours 2 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Hoverson, and Mr. Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show:
My only holy book, Deities & Demigods, Deep Ones, Dagon, serving the will of Cthulhu, “they can only be killed by violent death”, why are they evil, seafood, miscegenation, the war on alcohol, they like to drink and wear jewelry, are there Deep Ones in Guantanamo Bay?, only crackers and soup, Innsmouth, Massachusetts, Captain Obed Marsh, persuaded to breed with a deep one, immortality, 19th century, “festering quietly”, “a nice family reunion”, why is The Shadow Over Innsmouth so cherished?, Call Of Cthulhu The Dark Places Of The Earth, a Skyrim mission, Dagon and Mother Hydra, Dagon, New England Tahitians, Walter Gilman in The Dreams In The Witch House, The Thing On The Doorstep, Doctor Who’s The Sea Devil is The Shadow Over Innsmouth with less schtupping, The Silurians, can’t go wrong with a good sea monster, The Creature From The Black Lagoon, Julie’s adaptation will have more sex!, Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, g-men, an Esoteric Order Of Dagon style-cult, a traumatic read, the end, the film of Dagon (set in Spain), Stuart Gordon, Castle Freak is one of the best dramatic Full Moon films, the Masters Of Horror adaptation of The Dreams In The Witch House, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society adaptation (Dark Adventure Radio Theatre), the framing story, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, who is our protagonist confessing to?, Double Indemnity, heredity and atavism, 1920s, 1930s, Zadok Allen, Julie’s adaptation of The Rats In The Walls, The Picture In The House, female characters in Lovecraft, Cool Air, Lovecraft cares about words, House Of The Dead, the San Juan Islands, the naming of islands, Lovecraft crafts with love, August Derleth!, “the full gibbous moon”?, racism, the “Gilman Inn” is a pun, The Whisperer In Darkness, he’s there for the architecture, “reluctant fascination”, that old uncle who smells weird, The Shuttered Room by August Derleth, the worst fanfic writer ever, posthumous collaboration, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, The Harbor-Master by Robert W. Chambers, an inbred wild-man, local rednecks, “a bit too close to the sea”, an economic depression, isn’t it a good deal?, arranged marriages, what’s with the Innsmouth Chamber Of Commerce?, in the Octopus’ garden, Brown Monkey, Dick Dynamo: The Fifth Dimensional Man, meta, 118 Migration, Afterlives (a Bangsian fantasy), the golden era of internet audio drama, a new idea, Hypnobobs, classics vs. moderns, old books have vocabulary, Jack London, MTV saturated audiences?, Goodreads reviews of Dracula, Fifty Shades Of Grey, atheist vicars?, the stress on the importance of reading may breed bad books, teachers pick books with big social value, Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, turning kids off literature, Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone, using Robinson Crusoe as a guide to life, police procedural, obstreperous, The Murders At The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe, the audiobook of The Moonstone.
Posted by Jesse Willis