The SFFaudio Podcast #648 – The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs; read by Delmar H. Dolbier. This is an unabridged reading of the novel (9 hours 16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Maissa Bessada, and Alex.
Talked about on today’s show:
a serial in All-Story, 1914 and 1915, reasons for confusion, the first half of this book is The Mad King, the second half is Barney Of Beatrice, follow ups, The Eternal Lover, some Tarzan action, Barney’s sister, the reincarnation of a cave man, who is this person, a spark, literary universe, paired the spares, paired with an unfrozen caveman, least favourite ERB, comparisons to The Prisoner Of Zenda, A Princess Of Mars, The Mucker, Robert E. Howard’s The Black Stone, H.P. Lovecraft, a stupid bet, honor, Barney has principles, Paul!, a no shaving contest, a true hero, never compromise, keeping in bearded and mustached, part of the genre, it tells you everything about Burroughs and Barney Custer, by reputation, The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain, whoa its Tarzan, before him stretched, the adjoining roof, clambering to the heights, he’s just swinging, Barney Custer invented parkour, the way the doubling was handled, the dependence on random chance, easily fixed with five minutes of work, his father was a soldier of fortune, a little background, car crashes, his car lands on the king, a eugenicist, princess genes, Colonel Custer, Custer was loser, fought against unbeatable odds, the rep he had, character flaws built right in, Barney is more prudent, The Efficiency Expert, the Austrian firing squad, the Serbian resistance, random luck, language, the shopkeeper spoke really good German, a German state, why this book isn’t as great as it should be, Rupert Of Hentzau, a guy going to an Eastern European country from England, a Germanic state, past Austria, he goes home, every year after, a rose kissed by his princess girlfriend, the best bad guy from the first book, a rogue, he’ll happily betray you and laugh about it, the first half of this book is the complete novel of Anthony Hope’s ZENDA and the second half maps to the second book RUPERT OF HENTZAU, the honorable thing to do, a scandal, one of his ancestors stole away a princess, cousins of the princess, the flaw in the first book is the sequel, going back and fixing the kingdom again, he leaves Lutha, that’s why this book is not as good as it should be, pathetic corrupt Europeans going to war, vs. the Americans know what to do, handwaved in the first, this king is bad from the start, a weak coward, a two-hander, the timing, March 21, 1914, serialized over three issues in 1915, WWI, Serbia, an analogy for World War I, the Black Hand, retconned, the location of Lutha comes in the second half of this book, 1-12 and 1-13, sneaks into a war torn country, the first half is set in at least 1913 the second half is set in August 1914, Anthony Hope’s novel is a fantasy, a portal fantasy, the Emperor of Austria/Hungary, not fully unified, two books in one book, from a fantasy into a John Buchan story (like The Thirty Nine Steps), the meld is ok, The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, Genovia, the novel is dated after a couple of years, Bulgaria, right at the heart of WWI, Casablanca (1942), Lichtenstein, Andorra, European principalities, the White Raja Of Sarawak, Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel, adopting foreigners as their kings, pistols, horses, and an automobile and an airplane, and artillery, does Zenda have two F-16s? does Lutha have Migs?, “He Conquered A Dyak Army And Turned All Borneo Into His Private Kingdom”, Pacific castaways, little kings, Omoo by Herman Melville, Typee, The Man Who Would Be King, trophy dwarves and trophy whites, Amazing!, a second son of a British lord, family bastards, kinda legit, so many layers of mirrors, falling asleep in a field, at the very core, its a guy who comes from the peerage vs. son of a farmer, a princesses husband, everybody is on the same level (theoretically), how beautiful the women were, his car and his guns, a princess equivalent of his mom, he reverses the story, he’s ruling as Barney, a legit claim, ultimately he’s a king, blood, right, [marriage], decorum, deed, spanking the Austrian army, we know, his princess is his legitimation, fun and interesting, a funny situation, an American repudiating a system of equality, the King’s Word Is Law, pretty horrible, Burroughs isn’t focused on that, American virtues, pluck and attitude, the fantasy coming an reasserting, always acting honorably, avoids lying, the king wills this, the blood of the royals runs through my veins, the way Burroughs wrote this, I’m not sure which guy is doing what, Barney being merciful (by not killing him) is actually cowardice, the play of which guy are we actually looking at, they look identical but the King is a little pudgier, they look identical in the second book, they look similar in the first book, except when he smile sneers, Dave (1993), the princess is Sigourney Weaver, he runs an employment agency, Jesse’s not an American, American gyms, Americans practiced circumcision, are Evan and Alex and Paul circumcised?, William Kellogg, less common, lets talk about your penis some more, a Germanic king of eastern Europe, The Return Of Martin Guerre, my foreskin got shot off, mapping moles on the kings back, Natalie Zemon Davis, Human Is by Philip K. Dick, also a Deep Space Nine episode (the Pah-wraiths), Keiko comes back bad, we need the bad angels, a person looking exactly like another person, first cousins, little bit legit, the book can still work as a whole novel, the weld is not perfect, why the book isn’t as good as it should be, Robin Hood in the mountains, instantly bandits, war leader, sneaking into the country, belt full of guns, for reasons, so many sneaking ins, the spy that looks like the girl’s boyfriend, Stephan, a double, she sold him out, he’s cuddling her, frees the prisoners, randomly survived being shot, the Serbian spy, a ragtag militia, the writers’ room on this one was out to lunch, I’m just going to die, funny comedy, they’re gaslighting each other but they don’t want to be, you’re mad, our hero Barney, stealing a car, scenes that don’t go anywhere, the first half is one issue, the second half is three issues (so all cliffhangers), the coincidences are artificial, iron things out, funny and cute vs. Lord Of The Rings, chess pieces moving around, from Sword And Sorcery to High Epic Fantasy, two teams, the evil team, a Mexican standoff, the six vs. the ten, the princess shuttling between them, inkeepers and inkeepers daughters, a cozy Doctor Who episode, Star Trek, expands out, sentence by sentence writer, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, more American exceptionalism, the boss vs. the king, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, a failure, falling asleep vs. being hit on the head, falls asleep surrounded by corpses, a satire or a parody, earnest and honorable, participates in whatever’s going on, what makes him awesome, able to ride a horse, good with a sword, bringing democracy to Lutha, bringing democracy to Barsoom, The Pursuit Of The Pankera by Robert A. Heinlein, tourism, exploitation, a very strange sequence in a very strange book, Blackadder Series 3, Rowan Atkinson, American TV Shows One Episode Of A Time is Evan’s other podcast, George III, WWI, descending in status, a descent, Duel And Duality, who gets to be king, ridiculous, upheaval and murder, Alexander the Great’s generals, second sons of farmers, every tenth child goes off to the church, Crusader Kings, crusader monks, clerical work, clerk and clark, the plotting of the book, does the first half work on its own, tracks the guy half-way around the world, randomly, a small continent.
Talked about on today’s show:
1922, mean and bad people who all look very pretty, act so sweet, physically beautiful, even the ugly people are distinctive, surprised, Julie has read it three or four times, Terence read it in two sittings, the LibriVox was too slow, he wrote a tonne of books, super-popular, very exciting, you read it as fast as he wrote it, he dictated his writings, he roared through them, Kevin J. Anderson does the same thing, very extensive Wikipedia biography, aha!, he used every part of the buffalo, stuff that happens in his life, he’s the bad guys, they all go to the South of France, he wrote King Kong, the best way to approach him, using themselves, churning out a great adventure, more complete, the angel and the other woman, you can’t like her but you can admire her, she’s so complete, Lydia liked her, Maissa enjoyed it like candy, the author loved her (the angel), so nefarious, Jack O’ Judgement, Batman/Joker character, what genre is this?, suspense, is she going to get away with it?, will she do it, it wasn’t suspenseful, armchair interesting, interesting jumping, that style of writing/thinking, working the plot out on the fly, putting out a novel in three days (with no editing), he’s got magic, breaking it down, funny lines, Terence’s neighborhood, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice, San Remo, the true reason they go down there, he has to get rid of his money as quickly as possible, you can’t drink and drug that much, the best way to get rid of money, very exotic, a few sound problems at the beginning of the audiobook, we open with the conclusion of a murder case, how can we get our client off even though he’s been convicted, the lawyers flout the law, family loyalty, they knew she was guilty, she’s his white whale, will you please just take these steps?, falling under the sway of a charismatic personality, unrelenting naivete, Edgar Wallace is the main character, he was working for a newspaper, how many times he got married, there was dictation, To Catch A Thief (1955), a very strange taffy-pull, a reverse Les Misérables, off to North Africa, Edgar Wallace plot wheel, what kind of Edgar Wallace plot you’re in, wheel of blind trails by which the hero is mislead or confused, planted clues, false confession, document forged, go around the room, having those prompts, watching Jean have to improvise, somebody is going to get Lydia, double plans, “oh great, the chauffeur’s in love with me”, when Lydia’s being shot at on the raft, there’s something funny about it, things become more and more far-fetched, A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Jesse’s mom read him a book for Christmas (A Peculiar Curiosity by Melanie Cossey), the reason that book exists as it does, trying to make everything right, he’s much more like Elmore Leonard, I don’t know anything about diving, go find out about that stuff for me, dialogue driven crime sort of stuff, that external research, Civil War reenactors, “farbs” they’re in it for the weekend, it’s just what we do, Alexander Dumas, set in London, John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, less he-man, Wallace was in love with his villain, this malignant disease, forgotten to say her prayers, a broken moral compass, damn!, it’s natural to her, I fear life without money, the cold mutton of yesterday, the people reading these books, she’s a sociopath, deep into his biography, when he joined the army, Edgar Wallace is named after Lew Wallace author of Ben Hur, religious as an undercurrent, the premise is uniquely interesting, her debts are because she’s so moral, some rando stranger somewhere on the internet dies, we’ll marry him off, that hook is so important, ooh hey!, this wide eyed innocent but quite competent lady, can she compromise her moral values and the plot is rolling along, did Jesse doctor the audiobook’s speed?, some sort of weird forced marriage?, by any means necessary, genre expectations, Brewster’s Millions (1985), a false tension, George Barr McCutcheon’s novel Brewster’s Millions, new clothes, new place, she IS a fashion plate,
The novel revolves around Montgomery Brewster, a young man who inherits 1 million dollars from his rich grandfather. Shortly after, a rich uncle who hated Brewster’s grandfather (a long-held grudge stemming from the grandfather’s disapproval of the marriage of Brewster’s parents) also dies. The uncle will leave Brewster 7 million dollars, but only under the condition that he keeps none of the grandfather’s money. Brewster is required to spend every penny of his grandfather’s million within one year, resulting in no assets or property held from the wealth at the end of that time. If Brewster meets these terms, he will gain the full 7 million; if he fails, he remains penniless.
Edgar Wallace’s dream, the house always wins, whatchu gonna do with that money?, the kind of plot premise that starts off this money, she marries a murderer, he’s suicided, she’s an heiress loose on the goose, study with the Italian masters, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), our anti-hero is a “femme fatale”, she cuts the guy’s hand, your handkerchief please, she’s a monster, a very attractive monster, brought to justice?, she hoodwinks one more guy, it’s for the wildlife, you don’t want to hurt a dolphin, she’s met her match, Jesse got the sense the cycle was going to repeat, she meant it, he’s an interesting man, the last line, five million francs, money did not interest her, a sphere of might and power, an intellectual is somebody who has discovered something more interesting than sex, he was likeable, he loves her anyway, simpering, saving Lydia, love was more important, chose something good at the end, fooled by Mr Jags, the train station, he’s gonna follow her, because I have a criminal mind, a wholesome respect for the law, Jack Glover = Jag, who was the angel of terror?, at no moment does she inspire terror, Jag is the Hyde aspect of Jack Glover, the two angels, she conducts terror, she feels terror, Jean might corrupt Lydia, a first class criminal, born 600 years to late, Lucrezia Borgia, Dexter, a do good framework, did Edgar Wallace know Jags was gonna be Jack, the character shift is pretty massive, a very good fellow (illiterate and speaks amazing French), I wouldn’t mind a pipe, a disguise, Julie agrees with Terence, too much weight on the dictation?, a flow of consciousness, increasingly outlandish, he knew and he didn’t know, fiction writing, seeing connections, plots in opposition, a twist that inverts, deliberate, trying to hide identity, Carmilla, Mircalla, an acronym of your own name, a tribute to Edgar Wallace, its hard to tell, this is a job for Superman!, from a writer’s perspective, he was there the whole time, one alternate title: The Destroying Angel, a quote from Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke, maybe both are the angel of terror, disguised, her beauty is her disguise, lookism, I’ll get you my pretties!, the opening of Chapter 2, the writing is “choice”, mmmm yes,
Lydia Beale gathered up the scraps of paper that littered her table, rolled them into a ball and tossed them into the fire.
There was a knock at the door, and she half turned in her chair to meet with a smile her stout landlady who came in carrying a tray on which stood a large cup of tea and two thick and wholesome slices of bread and jam.
“Finished, Miss Beale?” asked the landlady anxiously.
“For the day, yes,” said the girl with a nod, and stood up stretching herself stiffly.
She was slender, a head taller than the dumpy Mrs. Morgan. The dark violet eyes and the delicate spiritual face she owed to her Celtic ancestors, the grace of her movements, no less than the perfect hands that rested on the drawing board, spoke eloquently of breed.
“I’d like to see it, miss, if I may,” said Mrs. Morgan, wiping her hands on her apron in anticipation.
Lydia pulled open a drawer of the table and took out a large sheet of Windsor board. She had completed her pencil sketch and Mrs. Morgan gasped appreciatively. It was a picture of a masked man holding a villainous crowd at bay at the point of a pistol.
“That’s wonderful, miss,” she said in awe. “I suppose those sort of things happen too?”
The girl laughed as she put the drawing away.
“They happen in stories which I illustrate, Mrs. Morgan,” she said dryly. “The real brigands of life come in the shape of lawyers’ clerks with writs and summonses. It’s a relief from those mad fashion plates I draw, anyway. Do you know, Mrs. Morgan, that the sight of a dressmaker’s shop window makes me positively ill!”
at the end of this chapter is a review of this book, Philip K. Dick, the promise of the book:
“Since when has the Daily Megaphone been published in the ghastly suburbs?” asked the other politely.
He saw the girl, and raised his hat.
“Come along, Miss Beale,” he said. “I promise you a more comfortable ride—even if I cannot guarantee that the end will be less startling.”
a nice turn of phrase, Mrs Cole Mortimer was a chirpy pale little woman of forty-something, descriptions of the south of France, my soul has been in a hundred collisions, she had no sense of metaphor, page 52, waiting for the detective to arrive, picturesque dressing gown and no-less picturesque pajamas, to impress, the staging and artifice, hoodwinked all the way through, the ability to surprise while we’re in the know, cotton candy, it’s very old, on LibriVox, Lee Elliott was a good narrator, getting professional about our amateurism, Terence is sounding good, our show, Terence’s sound is terrible, content is king, sometimes narrators have really good taste, Phil Chenevert does tonnes of science fiction, narrating a novel is a huge commitment, “yup I’m doing another one for money, Jesse”, the narrator of Weiland (Karen Joan Kohoutek), Greener Than You Think by Ward Moore, almost like reading a super-old style comic book, this mysterious cloaked and masked character, no one knows who he is, Moon Knight, a minor Marvel character, The Joker, The Riddler, youre almost on the evil guy’s, The Shadow, Orson Welles, a giant prosthetic nose, Wallace didn’t live that long, proto-superhero magazines, the foreshadowing of that, The Spider, Doc Savage (the guy with the big shiny muscles), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Buckaroo Banzai, failed MCUs (Marvel Cinematic Universes), an aspect like the Watchmen, Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, the evolution, James Bond, superhero-like stories, going in blind, understanding the phenomenon, we couldn’t quit reading, on his writing process, Brian Aldiss, you begin with a striking image, a crazy robot on the moon firing into the void, he probably began with the beautiful evil woman, there is a huge unity to the story, imagistic unity, Jack and Jean’s story, there’s this 1971 movie, nope it’s not that, conventions stuck in the period in which it is set, House, M.D. works much better, differential diagnostics, he’s a consulting doctor, what Arthur Conan Doyle really did, very Agatha Christie territory, to see the actors chewing up the scenery, set it after WWII, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, get some colour, Jean would laugh at Dexter, you’re wasting your talents!, as any flapper would pick up any nut, proto-feminism, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Scarlett Johansson as Jean,
Talked about on today’s show:
1920, serialized with wonderful illustrations, WWI, volunteer hospital dispensary, Cynthia, Dashiell Hammett, Dick worked in a repair shop, H.P. Lovecraft never left his house, the best selling novelist of all time, Shakespeare, pretty impressive, go back to the start, so polished, Sherlock Holmes, her first dog was named George Washington, Agatha Christie: surfer, her house was named Styles, her husband had an affair, she mysteriously disappeared, Curtain, the template for her later books, a court case, gathering everyone together in the library, Captain Hastings, his brother she kept in a basket, Oscar Wilde, interactive, written on a wager, the ideal detective story, what really made her reputation, what she’s created here is something people really liked, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, an intellectual game you play with yourself, Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, the novelized form of a game that can only be played between a reader and an author, a sudoku puzzle, “cosy” murders, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Choose Your Own Adventure books, props, the map of the house, the fragment of the will, play along at home, tremendously cool, an ahead of its time idea, Dell mapbacks, Avon mapback, a very American cover, Marilyn Monroe, the layout of styles, who’s lying, American hardboiled, so detached, emigres, the corrupt police department, everyone’s dirty, Raymond Chandler, a body, a motive, more escapist than fantasy literature, who killed this nice lady, who started this goddamned war that’s killing everybody, Bryan Alexander, it can’t but help talk about WWI, pro-war rallies, patriotic Belgian refugees, the rape of Belgium, an offer to write propaganda, unemployed uppercrust guys, Inspector Japp is not the right class, I much prefer the Belgies, aint your ordinary run of foreigners, noir books, James M. Cain, the murderers are the main characters, suspense, game-playing fantasy, if you could do anything after the war, I’d like to be a detective (like Sherlock Holmes), Jesse ruins the show, 15 Agatha Christies, read like popcorn, so relaxing, so untaxing, turn on my brain more, Chandler, the breakdowns of people’s lives and marriages, Hastings is sort of a flake, offers to marry the first lady who starts crying in front of him, an odd scene, someone might take you up on it, failed romance, the promise that made Agatha Christie very wealthy, there could be more of these adventures, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Miss Marple, problems from success, an outsider’s view of something very inside, Murder In Mesopotamia, Murder On The Orient Express, this is where Agatha Christie wrote, basing it on her own experience, losing money, murder for revenge, murder for love, murder for money, mostly money, Evelyn Howard, playing housemaid, a con-artist, American hardboiled evil characters, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the estate is a diner in California, the Howard and Inglethorp relationship, the intricacy of the plotting, double jeopardy, civics class, this cleverness, like a puzzle, The Simple Art Of Murder by Raymond Chandler, the authentic flavour of life, begging the question, a really long game, deeply embedded, impressively patient, on vacation in Dartmoor, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the isolated house, a convoluted plot to disinherit somebody, red herrings, almost efficient, legitimated, the spy, the escaped lunatic, thrown off the scent, not the way murders actually take place, the Khashoggi assassination, reading too many Agatha Christies, lured into an embassy, a hit team, a lot more grubby, Jesse wrecks the podcast again, real life murders, John Haigh, the next rung on the ladder, when bodies are dissolving, poison is her trademark, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, the American response to Christie and Holmes, “I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you all here”, the real murderer is revealed, the consulting detective, kinda strange, kinda weird, no matter where he goes people die, Miss Marple, Angela Lansbury’s Murder She Wrote, the most prolific serial killer, the title, all the mysterious affairs, Dorcas, Jonathan Fast, a strange SFy name, don’t write notes to your gf, they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for Poirot, an antecedent in Sherlock Holmes, leaning on an intellectual heavyweight, Hastings has his heart too much on his face, a vague suspicion of everything, the game is under foot, how self-aware this is, I’m a kind of literary detective, Tommy and Tuppence, this is a thing in this world, her second husband was an archaeologist, ahead of her time on the meta-stuff, more than 60 novels, Philip K. Dick had 40 novels, this drive to write, Stephen King’s legacy, Mr Jim Moon’s Stephen King shelves, back to King, The Running Man, The Long Walk, a straight-up metaphor for life, from the alien perspective, newsreel footage from the 1930s, wearing a hat, Our Dumb Century, “Man Ventures Outside Hatless”, sunglasses replaced hats, the fossil of a whole fleshed out society that existed, John Buchan, the politics, Belgian refugees, the Poirot TV show, a French detective, a detective has to have a quirk, McCloud, Cannon, Ironsides, quirks, a cup of hot chocolate to get the little grey cells working, an outsider who brings insight into the cases, tapping into the same thing Jane Austen does, closely observing society, classes, a close up focus, shared DNA, upper classes, seeing the dirty laundry, quaint and cozy, later books, the interwar years, a very static world, the way class works in England, hardboiled novels, a more liquid environment, you get to ignore class conflict and unions, inheritance, always on vacation, the investigation is into people’s character, whether Mr Darcy is a jerk, whether this man is suitable for marriage, an orphan who gets adopted, seven Belgians, the audio drama, her patriotic poem, go fight in the war and get killed, the Napoleonic wars, detachment makes them popular, an escape, her perspective, poisoning thousands (with her words), toured the world, staying at the Ritz, Jack London, send me to the worst part of town, The People Of The Abyss, those who don’t live off of the investments of their grandfather, the best selling novelist of all time is a woman, she’s the J.R.R. Tolkien of the mystery, Alfred Hitchcock, The Feminization Of American Culture by Ann Douglas, Mary Wollstonecraft, women should marry their friends, poetry is peacock feathers, “dude this will get you chicks”, a valuable skill, not our world, the amazing thing about humans is we’re not as visual as we think we are, we live in the world of words, Lovecraft’s spells, false realities, oral cultures, languages and literary traditions, a bookshelf is case of spellbooks, a certain kind of magic, the primary medium, music, idea based SF vs. cozy based mystery solving, politicize Dick’s works, the worst sin she commits, pure escapism, detached relationships, there’s a wall all the way through it, a big circle, skating along the perimeter, look for the things that aren’t there, children, all adult children, Hallowe’en Party, Mr Jim Moon’s Halloween researches, a wonderful childhood, the money went away, WWI pilot, a little too attractive, he’s too pretty, that famous disappearance, the darkest incident in a person’s life, public crisis, so guarded in her interview, the worst incident in Philip K. Dick’s life, the lowest point of people’s lives, a very very very famous writer, a fulfilling life, a life well led, the adaptations, Japanese mysteries, the audio drama vs. the TV adaptation, really well put together, seeing the mustache, whole mediums come in, Maissa’s audio drama video, a poolside infodump, Big Finish, the modern novel is showing some signs of wear, new technologies, a VR story industry, streamer media, Twitch, what the kids are doing, kind of like podcasting in realtime, celebrities, content creators, Deadmau5, Dr DisRespect, performing and talking, whatever medium in 50 or 60 years they’ll be doing documentaries about these people, not only for children, livestreaming, drawing, a new medium, magazines, what we imagined 2019 would be like, it was not this, the war is barely there in the book, adaptions play up the war, she plays down the war, The Mousetrap is excellent, a great sense of humour, everybody did it.
The SFFaudio Podcast #511 – The Canal by Everil Worrell; read by Wayne June. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (53 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, December 1927, a vampire story, H.P. Lovecraft, an alternative version of the story’s ending, dynamite vs. a wooden sword, Wikisource, The James Dickey, white caps on the canal, low key, that bitch is getting it, where’s the dynamite?, no secret cavern only opened by a , have I got dementia?, the April 1935 reprint, the Night Gallery half hour TV adaptation, fix Skype, Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, shooting day for night, very dream like, 1960s westerns, as bright as daylight, Lesley Ann Warren smokin’ hot, so sexually provocative, her middle name is cleavage, drunk this other dude, red bedspread, evoking the attraction, essentially a skeleton, a heart shaped face, she’s bony, a very well written student, the amount of poetic techniques she uses, super-high level, I didn’t intend that to be poetry, writing a very long suicide note, all these ppp sounds, repetition, the last ravings of a madman, the thing I shall have done, where did the changes come from?, her father has a giant stake, stab me with your giant wooden stake, that’s a lot of symbolism there, do we think that Everil Worrel made those changes?, the whole heroic aspect, in one fell swoop, drama, toned down, beef up the ending?, paid by the word, a Hollwood Blockbuster ending, the camp invasion, bitten by rats, he’s killing everybody, do all the people in the camp die?, infected, he’s a little hard to follow, everybody’s going to die, whoever did this was a monster, a cargo of death, when she first became the thing she is, expiation, redemption, atonement, a very Catholic Christian religious word, it isn’t so much about the girl, the narrator is very Lovecraftian, he loves to be alone, not afraid to being hanging out alone in the dark, meditating in graveyards, night walks, driving out to the countryside, in Paris?, along its left bank?, every canal has a left bank (and a right bank too), fallen into disuse, the River Walk in San Antonio, “Morton”, Hyacinth is slightly better than Lily, she’s telepathic, his name is “Ron”, fishmongers, easier to fit into a half hour, some of the leaps, the 1927 illustration by Hugh Rankin, grease-pencil, a flapper haircut, a dance move, giant bats, “Loathsome shapes flapped through the night along the way that led to the pleasure camps.”, a roadster, a motorboat, early fall?, he’s already got a whole lifestyle going, that smell, what’s going on with the dilapidated buildings, these aren’t gypsies exactly, a recreational thing?, a portable brothel?, pleasure is a weird word, “She’s a vampire. A vampire!, VAMPIRES!”, the storm had a rock hit him in the head, feasting, the more minimal ending, we have to infer how she got there, she commands him to carry her, my father is deaf and he sleeps soundly, metaphors, he sleeps by night, not lying, you sleep soundly, a pique in my voice, always at different times, on guard, she ate a child, the father has to kill her, the father’s story, maybe the father died after?, imagining the backstory, lonely places, she’s an attraction he’d never felt before, a mossy gravestone, did the father invent all that?, global pandemic, I’ve read Dracula, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, making explicit, one of the few vampire stories in which the narrator is familiar with vampire fiction, running water, the rules, meta-context, genre saavy, two different subgengres, a Robert E. Howard ending, the shorter version is rather Edgar Allan Poe like, which did Lovecraft read, a strong echo of Hypnos and The Hound, one is enthralled to another, ending in the night side of the city, where the nice people don’t go, so many echoes, a city at night, Fungi From Yuggoth was written in December 1929 to early 1930, The Call Of Cthulhu, maybe August Derleth “improved” it, The Grove of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, Dagon, the plunger, the plunger!, not better, more poignant, pointy sword, why is he carrying around a wooden sword?, the wooden sword, decapitated with a Bowie knife, a fudge between the two, The Canal by H.P. Lovecraft, January 1938, Somewhere in dream there is an evil place
Where tall, deserted buildings crowd along
A deep, black, narrow channel, reeking strong
Of frightful things whence oily currents race.
Lanes with old walls half meeting overhead
Wind off to streets one may or may not know,
And feeble moonlight sheds a spectral glow
Over long rows of windows, dark and dead.
There are no footfalls, and the one soft sound
Is of the oily water as it glides
Under stone bridges, and along the sides
Of its deep flume, to some vague ocean bound.
None lives to tell when that stream washed away
Its dream-lost region from the world of clay.
oil, inspired by Worrell, there’s no vampire lady, more architecture based than lady based, less Poey than Frank Lloyd Wrighty, no trace of oil, an image you would think of, like scum, mental oil, Richard Corben’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Canal, a mystery city, The Music Of Eric Zann, these mystery cities, a great name for a guy who loves death, poems with this imagery, a river, a canal, or a stream, What The Moon Brings, I hate the moon, The Nightmare Lake, the corpse of a god, a tarn, so brutal, the slime beneath the unmoving waters of the canal, a slimy muddy expanse, The Crawling Chaos, his horror nightmares, The Night Ocean by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft, to rest a weary mind, the same psychology, The Lake, the most wondrous delight, which version, from Tamarlane And Other Poems,
In youth’s spring, it was my lot
To haunt of the wide earth a spot
The which I could not love the less;
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound.
And the tall pines that tower’d around.
But when the night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot — as upon all,
And the wind would pass me by
In its stilly melody,
My infant spirit would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.
Yet that terror was not fright —
But a tremulous delight,
And a feeling undefin’d,
Springing from a darken’d mind.
Death was in that poison’d wave
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his dark imagining;
Whose wild’ring thought could even make
An Eden of that dim lake.
almost not dark enough to be Poe until the last quarter, a children’s book of Poe’s poems for children, Annabelle Lee, The Loved Dead, a ghostly couple hovering over that lake, two ghosts rather than one, place and fate, I could care less, which vs. witch, under a spell, wild bewildering, bound, Archibald Lampman, multi-valence, bound = tied up = springing = the boundary, this is a suicide note, his youngest young, solace homophone with soul-less, a very Poe poem, the horror of existence, the tremulous delight, that’s night fright or cold, that’s excitement, an amazing suicide note to give to kids to read, all the virtues of suicide, parent teacher meetings, no suicides yet, keeping things in the open, sometimes people go nuts, you need to talk to a doctor, the May 1953 issue of Weird Tales has a letter from Everil Worrell saying how much she enjoyed Lovecraft’s writing, The Supreme Witch, Slime is terrific, cosmic and spatial about the dark ocean, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, The Raft, The Egyptian, The Dream Merchant, agree with Lovecraft’s detractors, Lovecraft vocabulary, “foul mephitic vapours”, horrific ululations, it wasn’t so much Lovecraft did but how he did it, a really good mom, you can be a horrible monster loving graveyard sniffing weirdo and also be a good mom, it gives Wayne hope, you’re going to love The Loved Dead, such a delight to read, so extreme, its not going to show you, on the corpse board, and he’s a serial killer too, Kissed (1996), We So Seldom Look On Love, a tasteful necrophiliac film, actors to play the corpses, a letter story from a 13 year old girl, in love with the corpses, freaky deaky, everybody needs some body to love, the puns about necrophilia.
The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 36 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
aunt?, ownt?, The London Mercury, April 1922, H.P. Lovecraft, pretty damn interesting, is it a ghost story?, Robert Aickman, Fontana Book Of Ghost Stories (Volume 1), M.R. James,, E.F. Benson, Thomas Liggoti, is it a vampire story?, a very successful ghost story, is it a witchcraft story?, necromancy, psychic vampirism, all about mood and sustaining a mood, atmospheric, very, creepiness sneaks in, chills up and down the spine,
“Deserving of distinguished notice as a forceful craftsman to whom an unseen mystic world is ever a close and vital reality is the poet Walter de la Mare, whose haunting verse and exquisite prose alike bear consistent traces of a strange vision reaching deeply into veiled spheres of beauty and terrible and forbidden dimensions of being.”
in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, rumors about an ancient castle under which is a conclave of demons, not truckle with psychological fudging, real life stories, never tipped over the abyss, a feeling of being haunted, the weight of disbelief, monster,
“Of the shorter tales, of which several volumes exist, many are unforgettable for their command of fear’s and sorcery’s darkest ramifications; notably Seaton’s Aunt, in which there lowers a noxious background of malignant vampirism”
Shades Of Darkness adaptation, 9/10ths close to the book, a big switcheroo, switching the roles, dialogue from the story, adaptations are people interpreting, interpretive decisions, the girl Alice, more life to her at the beginning, the casting, what a role, a role of a lifetime, no eating, a mountain of a woman vs. doll-like, that thin and hungry look, her hair, a wig, dark hair, all this history, how intense people are, things going on, the number of parallel things that are happening, the first meeting the second meeting, the school, the strand, creepier, it feels like an actual memoir, weary of for no good reason, Withers, why is he telling this story, a chapter in a memoir, not very good person, Seaton’s not perfect, maybe this aunt is very moral, she does pretty much everything wrong, a huge colossal biotch, from a shit’s point of view, “a creature”, why does she act that way, she’s a prick or in league with the devil, she is a monster (in a any sense of the word), a horrible person, spite, little mind games, this is not Seaton’s story, may ownt, an extraordinary figure, a non-supernatural story, what made a person like this?, maybe she just way to much Lovecraft when she was young, we English, pongo, ape, monkey, bribed every time, some jam, lunch, expensive wine, the everyman, self-involved, does she kill him?, the roles were switched, bells and sparks, that chess scene,
Seaton’s aunt was wearing an extraordinary kind of lace jacket when we sidled sheepishly into the drawing-room together. She greeted me with a heavy and protracted smile, and bade me bring a chair close to the little table.
“I hope Arthur has made you feel at home,” she said, as she handed me my cup in her crooked hand. “He don’t talk much to me; but then I’m an old woman. You must come again, Wither, and draw him out of his shell. You old snail!” She wagged her head at Seaton, who sat munching cake and watching her intently.
his room is full of cages, down at the pond, a dysfunctional family,
“And we must correspond, perhaps.” She nearly shut her eyes at me. “You must write and tell me everything behind the creature’s back.” I confess I found her rather disquieting company. The evening drew on. Lamps were brought in by a man with a nondescript face and very quiet footsteps. Seaton was told to bring out the chess-men. And we played a game, she and I, with her big chin thrust over the board at every move as she gloated over the pieces and occasionally croaked “Check!”—after which she would sit back inscrutably staring at me. But the game was never finished. She simply hemmed me defencelessly in with a cloud of men that held me impotent, and yet one and all refused to administer to my poor flustered old king a merciful coup de grâce.
teaching chess, the aunt and Withers are parallel, Arthur chose him, something of his aunt there, toying and sparing,
“There,” she said as the clock struck ten—”a drawn game, Withers. We are very evenly matched. A very creditable defence, Withers. You know your room. There’s supper on a tray in the dining-room. Don’t let the creature over-eat himself. The gong will sound three-quarters of an hour before a punctual breakfast.” She held out her cheek to Seaton, and he kissed it with obvious perfunctoriness. With me she shook hands.
“An excellent game,” she said cordially, “but my memory is poor, and”—she swept the pieces helterskelter into the box—”the result will never be known.” She raised her great head far back. “Eh?”
It was a kind of challenge, and I could only murmur: “Oh, I was absolutely in a hole, you know!” when she burst out laughing and waved us both out of the room.
immoral behavior, a cloud of men, how she treats her nephew, Withers or Johnson or Wither or Smithers, another dig, tapping into something very British, mirrored, a dishonest narrator, passing judgement on all and sundry, a hideous old beast, she’s not such a bad old stick, a dull stolid chap, what’s expected, a public school attitude, everyone’s a jolly good sort, a mask for bad behavior, a cavalier with the truth, very calculated, foibles of behavior, you are nothing to me, it’s a test, dare you correct an old lady, is she’s too self aware?, if this were a true memoir, they sneak into her room and hide in her closet, too intellectual for her own good, why she’s a miss, about half way through the book,
We turned and walked slowly towards the house, across whose windows I confess my own eyes, too, went restlessly wandering in search of its rather disconcerting inmate. There was a pathetic look of draggledness, of want of means and care, rust and overgrowth and faded paint. Seaton’s aunt, a little to my relief, did not share our meal. Seaton carved the cold meat, and dispatched a heaped-up plate by an elderly servant for his aunt’s private consumption. We talked little and in half-suppressed tones, and sipped a bottle of Madeira which Seaton had rather heedfully fetched out of the great mahogany sideboard.
I played him a dull and effortless game of chess, yawning between the moves he himself made almost at haphazard, and with attention elsewhere engaged. About five o’clock came the sound of a distant ring, and Seaton jumped up, overturning the board, and so ending a game that else might have fatuously continued to this day.
no malice, interpretation, he’s turning into her, becoming more sympathetic to her, my aunt, we lost all our money, fairly obvious, the aunt has spent the inheritance, stopping at the chemists to get rat poison, WHY?, is Seaton trying to kill his aunt?, a half-term holiday, for his own use, another parallel, what’s with the bangle?, only when pirating, a craze for wearing a ring, a craze for wearing bangles, wearing a rubber band as a bangle, a little affectation, a bit of jewelry, more adult, a bit glamorous, to be interesting and opulent, bullying, perfectly horrid, a touch of the tar brush, not white enough, a bit debonair, a bit gypsy,
I can scarcely describe with what curious ruminations I led the way into the faded, heavy-aired dining-room, with this indefinable old creature leaning weightily on my arm—the large flat bracelet on the yellow-laced wrist.
they are isolated, a maiden aunt, a malevolent creature, sometimes people are weird, weird household cultures, lobster mayonnaise, game sausages, the salad is the monster, a gargantuan appetite, you can’t scare me with your ghost stories, I’ll take it, she’s sure to be quite decent to you, code for child sexual abuse, she’s just a woman, does she lie ever?, the eye in the room, is this an Innsmouth story?, a lot of fishy eyes in this story, Irving S. Cobb’s Fishhead, frog boy?, did he go to the pond, or the sea?, her younger brother, she might be being misread, people turning into dust, Seaton is turning into his aunt, something you like to eat, so interesting,
We walked up the village street, past the little dingy apothecary’s and the empty forge, and, as on my first visit, skirted the house together, and, instead of entering by the front door, made our way down the green path into the garden at the back. A pale haze of cloud muffled the sun; the garden lay in a grey shimmer—its old trees, its snap-dragoned faintly glittering walls. But now there was an air of slovenliness where before all had been neat and methodical. In a patch of shallowly-dug soil stood a worn-down spade leaning against a tree. There was an old broken wheelbarrow. The roses had run to leaf and briar; the fruit-trees were unpruned. The goddess of neglect brooded in secret.
the Goddess of neglect, what the hell does that mean?, the whole opposite view of this whole thing, he’s dying, is he digging his own grave?, his way to try to get away, a keen naturalist, he’s making the best of a bad situation, I like wildness, forklift trucks to do her goddamned hair, the keys to his trust fund, salving a scrap of conscience, a bit of a tightfist, the money is running out, nuts and fruit, he doesn’t want to get too fat, tadpoles, between becoming what he’s going to be, the aunt croaks, he will never,
on one memorable occasion went to the length of bestowing on me a whole pot of some outlandish mulberry-coloured jelly that had been duplicated in his term’s supplies. In the exuberance of my gratitude I promised to spend the next half-term holiday with him at his aunt’s house.
expensive madeira, she sounds like a Lovecraft,
She confided in us her views on a theme vaguely occupying at the moment, I suppose, all our minds. “We have barbarous institutions, and so must put up, I suppose, with a never-ending procession of fools—of fools ad infinitum. Marriage, Mr. Withers, was instituted in the privacy of a garden; sub Rosa, as it were. Civilization flaunts it in the glare of day. The dull marry the poor; the rich the effete; and so our New Jerusalem is peopled with naturals, plain and coloured, at either end. I detest folly; I detest still more (if I must be frank, dear Arthur), mere cleverness. Mankind has simply become a tailless host of indistinctive animals. We should never have taken to Evolution, Mr. Withers. ‘Natural Selection!’—little gods and fishes!—the deaf for the dumb. We should have used our brains—intellectual pride, the ecclesiastics call it. And by brains I mean—what do I mean, Alice?—I mean, my dear child”—and she laid two gross fingers on Alice’s narrow sleeve—”I mean courage. Consider it, Arthur. I read that the scientific world is once more beginning to be afraid of spiritual agencies. Spiritual agencies that tap, and actually float, bless their hearts! I think just one more of those mulberries—thank you.
sounding like Thomas Ligotti, everything sucks, the trap of pessimism, a certain truth to it, justification for all manner of barbarity and horror, survival of the fittest, neoliberal morality, atmosphere building, the deaf for the dumb, intellectual pride, what do I mean Alice?, I mean courage, spiritual agencies, an attack on spiritualism, worst wedding toast ever, worst host ever, my child brother died in it, sleep well, how big a deal, another theory, one more of those mulberries, bastard squirrels, almost all vegetation, pop goes the weasel, Babylonian mythology, silkworms, death and rebirth, they spin their own shroud, Seaton should run away, the horse, she never will or she never would, she knows everything we’re doing, is she telepathic?, does she know the boy is buying rat poison?, cages and boxes, a box with a worm in it, role reversal, a switch, something strange happens near the end, off to tea, she calls him Arthur, is that you Arthur?, the ghost of Arthur?, get out, she doesn’t know, she killed him but she doesn’t even know, a voracious appetite, getting psychically fatter, she’s lost her source of food, she’s dying, conversing with the dead, still floating around the house, nothing to feed off anymore, not wholly embodied, that all seeing eye, seeing into other people’s minds, is he first in his class?, maybe if you apply the rules of science it’s almost like she’s in a superposition, the pile of clothes on the floor, the shoes two meters apart pointing at each other, a bundle of clothes, she’s in her room and she’s not in her room, Schrödinger’s Aunt, she’s just a human being, this story does both, a horror story, she’s a vampiric-witch who can talk to ghosts, The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish gold, easy pickings, bottled souls, old shipmates, three new bottles, his yard, moss covered totemic gods from the South Seas, Smithers Withers Johnson, not wholly of this dimension, why she’s so weird, an alien trapped on Earth, she knows she’s a shit, he does the exact same stuff as she does, not of this earth, a tragedy, the whole takeaway, feeling a little guilt, a life tragedy, nothing but a trap, you’re either a feeder or you’re the food, not an Oscar Wilde, outside of society, so masterfully put together, another way of going, she’s mean because she gives him the small room, who made the room full of cages and boxes, playing goth music all night, all about interpretation, a reflection of me (being in a cage), interesting parallels, a black widow spider, Wayne doesn’t buy that she’s innocent, in league with the devil, what happened to her brother?, a theory for Mr Jim Moon, The Terror Of The Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mother of pearl, a monster in the mine, a letter Seaton, Samuel Seaton, the painting on the wall, the one with the eye is S. Seaton, retelling it as a modern story, he has a VIC 20!, security cameras in every room, we have the same kinds of issues and problems today, most manifest in her awareness of what she’s doing, self-conscious, Alice is almost consciousless, did she move away?, who did she escape?, a weird race of two, the deep one crown in a chest of jewlery, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, trying to find a place to put my sympathy, they’re screwed individually and in combination, All Hallows by Walter de la Mare, a sour church, Blackwood and Machenesque, a BBC Radio abridgement, the story becomes insane without pauses,
you know your space, a powerfully interesting way of writing, layering in themes that are almost ineffable, just words, so much is the way its told, a liberated thoughtful lady, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, occult skill, charged with mockery and bitterness, ruined, processing through a filter of hate, began to play the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. The piano was old and woolly. She played without music. The lamplight was rather dim. The moonbeams from the window lay across the keys. Her head was in shadow. And whether it was simply due to her personality or to some really occult skill in her playing I cannot say: I only know that she gravely and deliberately set herself to satirize the beautiful music. It brooded on the air, disillusioned, charged with mockery and bitterness. I stood at the window; far down the path I could see the white figure glimmering in that pool of colourless light. A few faint stars shone, and still that amazing woman behind me dragged out of the unwilling keys her wonderful grotesquerie of youth, and love, and beauty. It came to an end. I knew the player was watching me. “Please, please, go on!” I murmured, without turning. “Please go on playing, Miss Seaton.”
No answer was returned to my rather fluttering sarcasm, but I knew in some indefinite way that I was being acutely scrutinized, when suddenly there followed a procession of quiet, plaintive chords which broke at last softly into the hymn, A Few More Years Shall Roll.
what significance did the hymn have for her?
I confess it held me spellbound. There is a wistful, strained, plangent pathos in the tune; but beneath those masterly old hands it cried softly and bitterly the solitude and desperate estrangement of the world. Arthur and his lady-love vanished from my thoughts. No one could put into a rather hackneyed old hymn-tune such an appeal who had never known the meaning of the words. Their meaning, anyhow, isn’t commonplace.
I turned very cautiously and glanced at the musician. She was leaning forward a little over the keys, so that at the approach of my cautious glance she had but to turn her face into the thin flood of moonlight for every feature to become distinctly visible. And so, with the tune abruptly terminated, we steadfastly regarded one another, and she broke into a chuckle of laughter.
engaging with him like an adult, the clothes of a man, his coat is too big for him, so grateful for the invitation, I really appreciate it because I’m dying, the paranoid literal ghost haunted victim of an in-league-with-the-devil-aunt, nothing more than a coffin, my brother William died, there’s hundreds of eyes like that in the house, I shan’t stand it much longer, did Seaton commit suicide?, all my plans are falling into place, the old mulberry jelly trick, we are told he has lavish pocket money, that would be in character, so lonely, the bangle as an amulet against her, Alice Outram, some good stuff, a now lost medieval village in Derbyshire, early 1900s travel, piggy back rides and hiding in closets, candles, a fascinating story, Seaton is definitely a liar, you were supposed to best man, more on the ball, creeped by the aunt, you hypocrite, a mismatch between emotions and what people say, being clever and arch, snarky, is it about control or just being playful, so much free-rangeness, allowed bullying to flourish, snapchat bullying, the mistakes of perception that you have in childhood, a confession story, somewhere in there Withers is having an argument with Seaton, some guilt, mistreating the old bird, what she says, calculated cruelty, emotionally abusive, emotionally neglectful, no sexual or physical abuse, she never lies to him, she never gaslights him, that never happened, you’re wrong, she demeans him, she knows everything that I think and what I do, he’s a squashed human, squashed at school, victimness, uninterested in his emotional being, baby monkeys, the monkey Withers, a monkey in with a tadpole, very subversive, what is the question, what is this story?, not fantasy, not science fiction, definitely weird fiction, vampire is stronger than ghosts (in here), prehistoricism, eternal evil, Silurians (Doctor Who reference), Doggerland, it feels so Lovecrafty because of all the fish, he is doomed, The Rats In The Walls, The Moon Bog, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan,
And again I paused irresolutely a few paces further on. It was not fancy, merely a foolish apprehension of what the raw-boned butcher might “think” that prevented my going back to see if I could find Seaton’s grave in the benighted churchyard. There was precious little use in pottering about in the muddy dark, merely to discover where he was buried. And yet I felt a little uneasy. My rather horrible thought was that, so far as I was concerned—one of his extremely few friends—he had never been much better than “buried” in my mind.
dark!, a dark philosophy,
I was not a man of the world, nor was I much flattered in my stiff and dullish way of looking at things by being called one; and I could answer her without the least hesitation.
“I don’t think, Miss Seaton, I’m much of a judge of character. She’s very charming.”
“I think I prefer dark women.”
“And why? Consider, Mr. Withers; dark hair, dark eyes, dark cloud, dark night, dark vision, dark death, dark grave, dark!”
she’s goth, yo,
Perhaps the climax would have rather thrilled Seaton, but I was too thick-skinned. “I don’t know much about all that,” I answered rather pompously. “Broad daylight’s difficult enough for most of us.”