The SFFaudio Podcast #470 – READALONG: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #470 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Talked about on today’s show:
1950, novel/collection, The Moon Moth, a story suite, self-contained, a great book of language, the excellent prismatic spray, travertine, lapis lazuli, Hollywood, a black dragonfly, I hate the world and everything in it, Dungeons & Dragons, the Demon Princes novels, the Planet Of Adventure novels, a second order of facts, the richness of the language, the amoral characters, would you have dinner with any of these characters?, role-playing, the final descent, weird and wondrous, defined by this book, future echoes, The Matrix is a dying earth story, accessing certain special moves, fighting machines, the magic system, a 9th level spell, Bigby’s Grasping Hand, Tenser’s floating disc, the same recipe, magic missile, jamming in five spells (instead of four), so fun, a little bit of FOMO, re-memorizing spells, making magic controllable, it’s OP (overpowered), super hero movies, Heroes, origins stories, Mazarian, the Excellent Prismatic Spray, the Omnipotent Sphere, unceasing, a list of the spells, tomes, there’s no actual incantation, spell words and tongue twisters, Latin spell names, a great idea, how Harry Potter’s spells work, the orcs are coming, colour and action, Paul plays mages a lot, a callow youth, being indoctrinated into Dungeons & Dragons, being like Jesus means no stabbing, just swinging my arm, twisted logic, Gandalf has a big long sword, to balance out the classes, to balance, niche protection, cramming for your spell exams, Paul’s showing his geekiness, Dragon Magazine, you could swing that stupid sword around, why you gonna carry that giant sword?, a profound effect upon hundreds of thousands of people’s lives for decades and decades, pretty amazing, pure luck, strange creatures, demons, this is just like home, the plot lines do not closely follow, there’s no taverns, a conman thief, go find this museum, not standard D&D quests, Liane gets what he deserves, Chun the Unavoidable, torturing an innocent couple, so fun to read, such a prat, when Bryan bowed out, an in-joke within the campaign, the perversity of the Dungeon Master, suggested stats, other planes of existence, appearing from behind a tapestry, The Princess Bride, a passion for eyes, the dragonfly riders, a vial of oil, shrinking Paul, don’t trust anything, a Vancian point of view, judging the worst beauty contest of all time, Poul Anderson, the deep blue sky of Earth, a pocket dimension, T’sain, is he trying to make a girl?, vats, T’sais, Turjan, Pandelume, The Handmaid’s Tale, making women in bottles, alchemy, homunculi, chemical products, we’re nearly there with lab grown meats, everything is ugly is ugly even beautiful things are uglier, she finds the world a bitter place, dire malevolence, use of language, eructate, a poem about burps, a burping tree, women server me some wine and make the eighteen motions of allurement, interesting as a concept, the opposite of innocence, everyone is corrupt, there’s only loss, what re they going to do, living inside their tanks and know that’s where they’re at now, the middle of the Dying Earth ideas, Darkness by Lord Byron, E.R. Eddison,

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was black.

pretty gruesome, the year without a summer, Mary Shelley, Krakatoa, a dream and not a dream, it’s just everyday, this is not a young earth, not a new idea, Shakespeare’s fairies and Tolkien’s Middle Earth, from the fairy or elven point of view, a growing tide of darkness and ignorance, our deepest oldest fear, the end times, the end days, this is how we live now, the twilight days, the environmental stories in the news, we’re kind of fucking this up, “I just use as much plastic as possible”, an uplifting book, so dark but funny and uplifting, running the Museum of Man, that’s not how people actually are, the ideas of a book, these are the waves coming in, the beach, not the normal Jesse book, a very Clark Ashton Smith prose poem style, Zothique, a conduit, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, even the robots are tired, Mr Jim Moon, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, 17th century language, pseudo-biblical language, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess Of Mars, something distinctly moving, the unromantic and unpoetic among readers, an insanely strange book, H.G. Wells, The Cave Of Time, resurrected at the end of time, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, a lot of celebrities, Richard Burton, everybody who ever was, Mark Twain, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Hermann Göring, TV adaptations of the Riverworld series, at the end of history, so sad, still striving, The Book Of The New Sun, The Book Of The Long Sun, Gene Wolfe, he’s an apprentice torture but his true passion is rape, ornate strange language, brilliant, interesting, frustrating, and wonderful, a massive undertaking, the book of gold, Paul’s book of gold: The Amber Chronicles, The Hobbit, this is amazing!, the one book that made Marissa get super-excited about reading: Cujo by Stephen King, it’s almost never laser guns, I’ve done questionable things, Rutger Hauer, creators, but also great things, Blade Runner is a dying earth story, infectious imagery, neo-noir, film dystopia, there are no heroes (really), everything is falling apart, the creatures are no longer biological, Blade Runner: 2049, a down and depressing future dystopia, what we think of doing well now, the Marvel movies, short term thinking, how well the money’s doing, long lived lives, John W. Campbell’s Night, hard Science Fiction, Michael Moorcock, the Hawkmoon books, C.J. Cherryh, George R.R. Martin, The City At The End Of Time by Greg Bear, an amazingly powerful book, The House On The Borderland, an interesting sub-genre, the language of cant, I babble in an unknown tongue, even the prophets are corrupt and fake.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #462 – READALONG: Sandkings by George R.R. Martin

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #462 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Scott talk about Sandkings by George R.R. Martin

Talked about on today’s show:
1979, out of the ether, one of Scott’s favourite stories, excellent short fiction, what does that say about Scott?, it hits you differently, playing out, horror and science fiction, the 1995 The Outer Limits adaptation, Beauty And The Beast, tuf voyaging series, the thousands worlds, Jack Vance-y, the magic shop trope, Wo and Shade, The Reel Stuff, short stories and novelettes turned into movies and TV shows, trading one shope for another, military, Melinda Snodgrass, a very different beast, a family of Bridges, who Shade is, Wo vs. woe, Salem’s Lot, Gremlins (1984), piranhas, goldfish, Simon Kress, Martian soil, a story of obsession vs. comeuppance, one of the best endings, it breathed, the others, orange children, all of them had his face, hitting the horror note, this isn’t the Frankenstein story, let there be light, playing god, being worshiped, when can I turn on the hologram, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, a cruel god, neoterics, patents, a “business man”, rakes in money, exotic pets, the poor shambler, leaving his pets, his “friends”, gambling, cruelty, Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask Of Amontillado and The Masque Of The Red Death, George R.R. Martin grew up poor, New Jersey, every G.I. Joe that’s ever been made, how can people live in such luxury, “spoiling” children, JUSTICE, a horror, where’s Wo?, “We got another one.”, an open thread, good advice, no malice, Wo is very polite, the Wo family, some Maw, Baldur, the reflection of the workers (the mobiles), you can live in harmony with these creatures, all on the surface, Jesse’s mind goes crazy, totally science fiction without much science, horror in a science fictional setting, a horror story set on a Vancian planet, it won all the awards, Nightflyers, the weakest?, The Way Of Cross And Dragon, The Ice Dragon, Harlan Ellison, Grail, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, everywhere, Nancy Kress?, The Shambler From The Stars by Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, the clarity, “he wasn’t interested in that”, “Insects.”, hmmmm, eating up GRRM’s text, A Song For Lya, Robin Of Sherwood, space punk, goth punk?, dark humour, always hard to swallow, easily digestible pieces, Poe-like, the comic book adaptation, faithful, DC Comics Science Fiction Graphic Novel 7, 1987, Wo is female, incredibly faithful, emptying the refrigerator and the freezer, calling his friends, Fitcher’s Bird, Bluebeard, dilettantes, collective punishment, working on the level of a folk tale, the macabre, staring into the abyss and liking what you see, are they just animals?, psionics, seeing his soul, Populous, For I Am A Jealous People! by Lester Del Rey, Sim City, Civilization, victory conditions, the goal of the game, perversity in Jesse’s (and everybody’s) nature, a delight in smashing your own sandcastles, we resonate with it, wanting to see destruction, a house of cards, The Conqueror Worm, the sound of the cosmos, “invisible wo”, the mimes are humans, the children have his face, by a crowd that seize it not, in human gore imbued, almost a science fiction story, there’s no one answer, Hellboy, BPRD, a relatively shallow story, the experience is the experience of it, the Dreamsongs Volumes I, II, and III audiobooks, the name of the monster, maw gives pap, the Pit of Sarlacc, back to his doom, not an easy trick to pull off, super affective, the sword stabbing scene, then to a restaurant, contamination, bribery, a personal disaster, flee the planet, a sprawling manor house, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, an indictment of the pet ownership process, don’t leave your baby in the car (or your German Shepherd), Lloyd Bridges handing a boy a puppy, how badly aged the show is, I saw him in the window and couldn’t resist, Cowboy, a lovely father-son dynamic, where does he go wrong exactly?, where does Frankenstein go wrong?, to stop death, rampage, a lack of love and care and attention, the carrion hawk, what happened to the original cowboy?, very iconic, dealing with something real, horror stories only work when they’re dealing with something real, we’re operating on that level, mimesis, a genuine feeling, yes! of course!,

Sandkings by George R.R. Martin illustrated by Ernst Fuchs from Omni, August 1979

Sandkings by George R.R. Martin

Science Fiction Graphic Novel, SF7 - George R.R. Martin's SANDKINGS

Science Fiction Graphic Novel, SF7 - George R.R. Martin's SANDKINGS

Science Fiction Graphic Novel, SF7 - George R.R. Martin's SANDKINGS

George R.R. Martin's SANDKINGS

SANDKINGS by George R.R. Martin

The Outer Limits - Sandkings

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #455 – READALONG: The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #455 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

Talked about on today’s game:
1961, dude!, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, the Seeing Ear Theatre adaptation, a setting and a culture and an experience, not very science fictiony, no weird transhumanism, deep interesting cultures and settings, more in the fantasy, a science fiction setting but it feels like fantasy, anthropological science fiction, Rite Of Passage by Alexi Panshin, Dune by Frank Herbert, goblins, the fantasy element of the masks, are you bold enough to wear a sea-dragon conquerer mask?, the adaptation follows the plot fairly faithfully, other POVs, a little more linearly, the ambassador’s folly, a masterful adaptation, like nothing we’ve ever seen before, it feels relaxing, gorgeous description, the plot is very stressful, how does this work?, the Larry Niven of economics and culture, high praise, Haxo Angmark, a Vance specialty (names), stealing his “money belt”, Cory Doctorow’s wuffie, so fascinating, I want to walk these streets, my father is a magistrate, a very libertarian society, Texas, L. Neil Smith, no expansionism, the night men, like a role-playing game, cannibalize whatever’s on the shore, indigenous people, captured by the night men!, social status, far weirder than any kind of Marxian communism, when he’s embarrassed about the fish with a face in the water, he’s acculturating to the culture, “religious convictions”, sticky and annoying like a thistle, the philology of our language and hacked it, Edwer Thissle, David D. Levine’s Tk’Tk’Tk’, what Jesse senses what walking the streets of Japan would be like, a dystopia, no government, it all comes down to violence, a very humble mask, how Saudi society works, a married couple would never show their faces to each other, a mock mask?, the afterword, clothes and nudity, the slaves are for having sex with, Jesse has questions, “I’ve been working on it for seventeen years”, a public ledger (like blockchain), a robot, electronic devices, an electric instrument, practically speaking, a bat-belt full of tiny musical instruments?, ornate and complex, the aliens are humans right?, orcs?, a weird human culture, the four outsiders, essentially humans (with pale faces), the consular representative, an anthropologist, Thomas Piketty, how do you have trade with these folks?, a trade port, fun to imagine, maybe you have people who hold value (for trade), expatriates, I will return you to the islands if you don’t obey me, food is incredibly plentiful, kind of like Venice, imaging Venice the whole time, the Dunsanian stories by H.P. Lovecraft, or Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, the fantastic orient?, what Korea would be like from an Italian point of view, some happy fools have opened up a bookstore, people don’t want books, nail salon, skin salon, hair salon, tooth whitening, did you see a man come in here and did he take something?, why Steen was mad at somebody, he’s not acting like a Canadian, everyone in the states is so rude, so apologetic, if you don’t acknowledge how terrible you’ve been, an immoral slouch, Iranians have a way of talking around a subject (and will become annoyed when Jesse doesn’t understand), what would it have taken?, a kind of meritocracy, how reputation works in the States, infamous, Chelsea Manning, going from being a reviled traitor to having cachet, a celebrity in need of a couch, their visit to me makes me higher in the society, I gave Al Pacino a place to sleep for the night because his car broke down, how selfies work, some percentage of people want their picture taken with celebrities, our strakh in our culture is attention, Instagram people without their Instagram filters, Sirene is 1000 years in our future, free stuff, stereotypes about New Zealanders, people love Kiwis, an alien as a woman (than as a foreigner), cultural baggage, James Clavell’s Shōgun miniseries adaptation, feudal Japan, swaggering samurais, you’re disgusting and hairy, easing us into it, learning Japanese, the cultural barrier, Jesse’s strahk level plummets, the murder mystery aspect, brilliant!, the weak part, subtle or detailed, an excel sheet, a locked planet or locked houseboat mystery, Robert van Gulik, the whole murder mystery detective genre, you participate in the solving of the mystery, almost there, Judge Dee, like Sherlock Holmes but set in Ming China, a rich and decadent society, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, there is a structural class system, you guys are building one, number one in plutocrats!, Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, their highest hope, falling from class position, how one gets raised out of the strakh level you’re born in to, how people change classes, sociology and anthropology, the business department, Jesse is insulting someone, everybody can be a manager, this story raises so many questions about our own societies, it is not a mirror to us, StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith, obsessed with the baroque, in the way that Tolkien is obsessed, the ornate social structures, The Potters Of Frisk, Planet Of Adventure, a tapestry of different cultures, unlock the puzzle of the culture, powned!, one delicious five volume package, what are Vance’s literary roots, science fiction friends, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, diverse life experience, California, sui generis, the Demon Princes novels, phone booth, his roots are not in the Clarkeian-Sturgeonian tradition, The Dying Earth, one book leads to another book, Paul got lucky, getting the urge, the BBC In Our Time on Moby Dick, the whiteness of the whale, the pasteboard masks, Philip K. Dick, Halloween, thing are quite different, we wear a mask that blinds us to the world, we wear a mask that blinds us to us, Herman Melville, hijab, it plays to the base, what would it be like to be in a world, this is a very weird world, what form of popular entertainment is being satirized, opera, music, scary talented, an operatic world, musical accompaniment, 24/7 opera, the first audio drama Marissa enjoyed, in the audiobook, an animal!, Marissa got into it, Bryan is nodding, a metaphor for getting used to a new society, a metaphor for learning a foreign language, that sense of fear, a classic mystery novel, almost a western, John D. MacDonald, plotting was the hard thing, gathering the tools up to bluff your way through, what is the author thinking, what are they trying to do, isn’t wonderful to think about beautiful dead women, I think the mystery is the plot, what would it be like where nobody has any identity except what they say is their identity, nicely shoehorned, wow! look at this world, its the one with the masks, Marissa used to be so shy, if you’re in anyway alien or introverted this is playing with the fear of that, fear of bureaucracy, at the mercy of the killer, a judo flip, Vance always has a sardonic sense of humour, The Dying Earth, civilizations rising and falling, magic, Chun the unavoidable, one of the greatest villains, a sub-genre, Hothouse by Brian Aldiss, Clark Ashton Smith, Last Castle, The Dragon Masters, I want more, so much is in it and it has a plot too?, more Vance on the schedule, the orbits that writers move in, the focus on language, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, transformed language, Isaac Asimov, a total twin of science fiction, we do this job, we engage in the reality, fantasy as escape, working it out, this is the anthropology section of the lirbary, the soft sciences, Larry Niven did too much of it, there’s nothing more to say at the moment, if its not bio – what else you got?, genetics and epigenetics, philosophical science fiction, Mack Reynolds, a post-scarcity society, a great problem to have, nobody is starving to death, cheap food, a rich society, wearing the right suit, look at Bill Maher in his french cuffs, its a $5,000 suit, they look like clowns out of their context, the hair and makeup departments, that’s what all the slaves are doing on Sirene, hair and nails, tuning the instruments,

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #445 – READALONG: Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

Virgil Finlay illustration of Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

PAPERBACK LIBRARY - Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

Virgil Finlay illustration of The Citadel Of Fear by Francis Stevens

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #073 – A Practical Man’s Guide by Jack Vance

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #073

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss A Practical Man’s Guide by Jack Vance

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

A Practical Man’s Guide was first published in Space Science Fiction, August 1957.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #393 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #393 – Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft, read by the great Wayne June. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (5 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Jim Moon)

Talked about on today’s show:
the pronunciation, Athenae, not from Weird Tales, a prose poem vs. a story, flash fiction, it does everything, the big elephant, it avoids all the things people decry Lovecraft for, the pure experience, pure Dreamlands Lovecraft, living in the outrage culture, it is much better to be dead than it is to be alive, drug use, reflections, new colours, From Beyond, The Colour Out Of Space, beyond the colours we know, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a little dreamquest, no cat, Zakarion, King Kuranes, Basil Elton, The White Ship, big themes, tentacled monsters, sanity-blasting, nihilism, transcendence and revelation, wonder and awe, a compression, a packet of seeds, The Gardens Of Yin and The Window, gateways and passages, a distillation,

Some of the dream-sages wrote gorgeously of the wonders beyond the irrepassable gate, but others told of horror and disappointment. I knew not which to believe, yet longed more and more to cross forever into the unknown land; for doubt and secrecy are the lure of lures, and no new horror can be more terrible than the daily torture of the commonplace. So when I learned of the drug which would unlock the gate and drive me through, I resolved to take it when next I awaked.

opiate, poppy seed cookies, Wayne June, The Crawling Chaos, the decay and pain of disease, seeking non-existence in unconsciousness, Hypnos, breaking through the barrier, horrible and wonderful, duality of perception,

But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled—but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.

I’m out of here!, The Shadows Over Innsmouth, this is AMAZING!, the horrible as transcendent, not-quite apotheosis, transfiguration, a counter-point to the insignificance of humanity, stepping beyond, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, the wild world of his dreams,

A Memory
There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.

Minnesota, the Sawtooth Mountains,

I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.

giving Death a high-five, The Gardens of Yin

Beyond that wall, whose ancient masonry
Reached almost to the sky in moss-thick towers,
There would be terraced gardens, rich with flowers,
And flutter of bird and butterfly and bee.
There would be walks, and bridges arching over
Warm lotos-pools reflecting temple eaves,
And cherry-trees with delicate boughs and leaves
Against a pink sky where the herons hover.

the gorgeous garden,

All would be there, for had not old dreams flung
Open the gate to that stone-lanterned maze
Where drowsy streams spin out their winding ways,
Trailed by green vines from bending branches hung?
I hurried—but when the wall rose, grim and great,
I found there was no longer any gate.

a retelling of earlier voyages, Jack Vance, Planet Of Adventure, The Dying Earth, strange vistas, lush imagery, opening up perceptions, the grey sameness of ordinary existence, consuming all the senses, rich or decadent description, baroque, gorgeously saturated prose, The Moon Moth, a maginfied orientalist, operatic, fantasies of exotic lands, arabesques, sarabandes and curlicues of hashish smoke, Clark Ashton Smith, William Morris, Tolkienized, pipeweed and beer, that connection to Dunsany, Idle Days On The Yann,

When the last days were upon me, and the ugly trifles of existence began to drive me to madness like the small drops of water that torturers let fall ceaselessly upon one spot of their victim’s body, I loved the irradiate refuge of sleep. In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life, and wandered through old gardens and enchanted woods.
Once when the wind was soft and scented I heard the south calling, and sailed endlessly and languorously under strange stars.
Once when the gentle rain fell I glided in a barge down a sunless stream under the earth till I reached another world of purple twilight, iridescent arbours, and undying roses.
And once I walked through a golden valley that led to shadowy groves and ruins, and ended in a mighty wall green with antique vines, and pierced by a little gate of bronze.

temples, not sunken temples, what happened to the temples?, almost Robert E. Howardy, The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges, Lovecraft was reading a lot of Schopenhauer,

I knew that all sights and glories were at an end; for in that new realm was neither land nor sea, but only the white void of unpeopled and illimitable space. And happier than I had ever dared hoped to be, I dissolved again into that native infinity of crystal oblivion from which the daemon Life had called me for one brief and desolate hour.

very Platonic, called forth by Life, Socrates, ahh, yes I remember fire, the trauma of childbirth wipes your memory, opium, mind blown, ever to wise to ever have been born in the waking world, Waking Life, Philip K. Dick, now I remember, native infinity, everything goes back to that Platonic realm, The Dreamquest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, if you’re born in the dream world…, Jesse gets to the dreamland by a route obscure and lonely, the Zoog wood touches the waking world, Paul’s role playing game, Dante and stories of the underworld, a one way passage, the official entrance, passing bodily into the underworld, a gem of a story, poppy seeds that flourish and grow, to round table it, is the end positive or negative?, the closing of a circle, eastern philosophy, definitely positive, he just overdosed on a drug in real life, in your dissolved state, this is not Heaven (Garden of Yinn style), looking at it from the outside, staying in bed too long, symptoms of depression, the reason for his voyage, the ugly trifles of existence,

Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jasper
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse
Ex Oblivione by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jason Ekhart

Posted by Jesse Willis