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.”
The SFFaudio Podcast #485 –The Undying Thing by Barry Pain; read by Dan Grozinski (dg73). This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (59 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada
Talked about on today’s show:
is Paul kinda glum?, staying up to late with a flask of whiskey and a revolver in his pocket worrying about the sins of his ancestors, so appropriate, WEREWOLVES!, being an evil genius, a method to Jesse’s madness, fortuitous, drifting off, how Barry Pain writes, an AMAZING story, he more Maissa listens to it the more questions she has, the monster never shows up on screen, checking the audio against the text, cut-off?, this story provokes questions, so many hints, so rich, nothing to say on Sunday, sleepless nights, unpacking it, the rhythm and the structure, implied, asked but not answered, more nuanced, elliptical digressions, diagraming this story, this would make an amazing movie!, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, filmed in black and white with sepia flashbacks, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes, which is the more famous story, they came out exactly the same month!, the way the stories unfold, one has no detective, on has Mr Marsh, points in contact, barnoets get the title “sir”, ancestral baddie, murders happening in the community, the friend that comes to the house, a wolf or a hound that haunts the family, the tavern rumor mongers, astounding!, Pain’s not copying Doyle and Doyle’s not copying Pain, seeds of evil, spoiling this 1901 story, a trained creature, an heir to the estate, an evil dalliance, a bastard son, enacting the plot of The Undying Thing, avatar, very Lovecraftian, Lovecraft liked this story, Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001), the first Sir Edric Vanderquests’ evil plan, Supernatural Horror In Literature,
“Ugh! I really half-believe I ought to mention this in my article.”
reading a little a bit for the readers, hands of white fire, burglar?, why does he think it has come for him?, our companion buddy reads the confession and then burns it but he doesn’t tell his Sir Edric, electric lighting, why does he think that?, go back to your room, the night he spent by himself, there’s somebody in the dining room, what is it?, its there!, go BACK!, who are you…what are you?, he’s talking to IT, you wouldn’t say “who are you?” to a dog, we don’t actually see the baby, trying to find anybodys criticism, Sir Edric wanted another boy, is it a boy?, was it a boy?, how to get rid of the baby, covering the mouth, and nose, no snout, somewhat human-shaped, BANG!, perfectly empty, he went through the window, he knew that Sir Edric would be found there, how did he know that, the final paragraph, a great flash of lightning, the plantation had collapsed, this time he had fainted away, what’s going on?, Jesse has a theory, sentence by sentence, very very Gothic, really good use of weather, the whole of the trees fling their heads upwards, the collapse of the tunnel system, heads vs. crowns, so we can see it, the leaves staying still with the ground subsiding, an amazing piece of writing, a deafening crash, listening to it as an audiobook, being specially attuned (like Wayne June) and timing every word, The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, a metaphor or symbol for the family itself, collapsing into a tarn, the penultimate sentence, earlier collapses, this time he had fainted away, did he die?, he died with a petrified look on his face, the viewpoint character is gone, The Dead Smile by F. Marion Crawford, a family curse, corpses moved around the tomb, a giant smiling skull, a smile only they can pull off, the Willis family “ookel face”, a really unusual look, a family curse, that smile is going to come again, a hideous grin of terror, an alternate reading of the ending, he says its there, why did he call his friend?, hands of white fire, a tap at his door, he had dressed, a curious subdued voice, how did the Undying Thing get in?, is it a ghost?, it had a body, its not a question, why does sir edric think that?, Sir Edric is the Undying Thing, he is the inheritor of the curse, he doesn’t know that he is, he’s about to transform, what happened to the first woman?, she saw the previous incarnation, it’s dead and not dead, keeping this THING alive, Maissa’s theory, pledging to God, be thou with eve, he’s bargaining with God on Eve’s behalf, he goes back on his word, some sort of spirit, purgatory, Morella, well read in the German philosophers, kind of like a mom, she’s basically a witch or something, like Alia in Frank Herbert’s Dune, the family tomb, she’s my daughter and my husband, such an open story, page 135, on the following morning, weregild!, roaming the countryside at night, why were they not welcomed, they found her corpse, what is she doing there at night?, her body was found there at noon the following day, if there’s a werewolf there should be someone torn apart, she died in a “fit”, Maissa’s right, trying to prove something?, “he goes out with a rug, a flask of whiskey and a revolver”, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, definitely not a cow, a stray cow, no cow, too much for a cow, too whimsical, I was awakened by a cry, swishing through the bracken, half-awake, he persuaded himself to go to sleep again, a subterranean spring, some slight subsidence, legend says, Hal’s planting, why he thinks its the Undying Thing, only haunts the planting, a charge of dynamite, criticizing the story, running on familiar tracks, a well beaten path, feeling the resonances, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, the tragedy of that small goddess, the curse of the land, to dynamite the tower and the trees, kill the sacred birds, “colonial fiction”, set in England?, thinking along the same thoughts, a genetic understanding of a family curse, because he was a Jew, does he believe the legend?, he knows its real underneath, he’s cursed, the opposite of The Hound Of The Baskerville, the end of the (family) line, blowing up Hal’s Planting brings the end, look through these papers for me, a doctor who doesn’t practice, interested in science and out of the way science, Guerdon, Geurdon and Bird, positive inheritances, Ray, “season”, in season, mating time, introduced to society, it was assumed, is he trying to save him, her “mourning” room, she’s a ray of sunshine, built with such ingrained malice and vexatious, he is the heir to the curse, both dead and alive, are they all Edrics?, the wolf attack, but then in rereading…, I can’t say why, a group of wolves, one of these wolves must have escaped, question mark end of chapter, more of Maissa’s theory, Jesse’s theory, intending wolves to serve as (hunting) dogs, he chased down a woman with his dogs, destroy these beasts, he loved his second wife even more than he hated his first, she was not bitten, why did they frighten her so, indicative lines, when it was too late, was it nine months afterwards?, she died in childbirth, that old woman is the nurse, attacked by the wolves as in raped by the wolves, werewolf-baby, I have superpowers because my mother was spooked by a goose while she was pregnant with me, some thing, this is such a good story, why is it called undying not undead, reading Plato on the immortality of the soul, snow at the approach of heat, a philosophical argument for the existence of life after death, killed and not killed, raised and not raised in the caves, eternal in the curse of the family, is the THING dead?, the obstetrician, the appendage to the letter, the devil’s wolves seem to hunt me in my sleep nightly, the ghost of the wolves, darker ink, initials R.D., it is not dead, I do not think it will ever die, the curse is real, in light of The Wolf Leader, light and fluffy vs. dreaded and cursed, a deal with the devil, Jesse is worried about podcast listeners not being as impressed as they should be, it would make a fabulous movie or a wonderful comic book, everybody should read this story if they’re at all interest in wolf tails (or wolf tales), Mansteath (man’s death), sounds British, even English, the Midlands?, Hal’s planting (Hell’s planting?), the orchard, Jesse’s Roof Bear drawings, Cellar Feller, That Only A Mother by Judith Merrill, Born Of Man Of Woman by Richard Matheson, the powerful revelation, looking monstrous, in Roof Bear world everybody’s sort of friendly, in the real world, an orchard outside of the hill, Pan lives in the orchard, exploring your unconscious or your genetic memory, it’s always night in Roof Bear world, a kind of truth no science can tell you, science is wonderful, this is art, it could come back and haunt you, the power in this story, a kind of truth that is completely fictional, the latest incarnation of Edric, walking sunshine, in his final hours he’s trying to save his friend, what are you who are you?, is he looking in a mirror, what’s it eating, we need Mr Jim Moon and Marissa’s thoughts, getting attacked by coyotes, and Paul by blackflies, Mr Jim Moon getting in a punch up with a kangaroo,
The SFFaudio Podcast #459 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Julie Davis talk about The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
Talked about on today’s show:
1908, subverting expectations, thriller philosophical novel adventure fantasy, a book about anarchists (not really), hot topic, pre-WWI, bring down the system, everybody is a dynamiter, Michael Collins, if you don’t seem to be hiding nobody hunted you out, anarchy against anarchy, the Orson Welles adaption, easier to understand, one female character in the book and she shows up on the last page, Mercury Theater, Welles as Sunday, evil or good?, wine commercials, this old fat guy talking about wine, large people refracted through later media, Gilbert in The Sandman is G.K. Chesterton, confession, Famous Fantastic Mysteries, because it has detectives in it?, sudden reveals, that person is not an anarchist either, the same trick over and over, the Professor, the Marquis, the Father Brown mysteries, Miss Marpole, Reading Short and Deep, The Angry Street: A Bad Dream by G.K. Chesterton, like Scrooge, a very interesting guy, a very rare bird, a conservative intellectual, explaining a lot of what’s going on, The Tremendous Adventures Of Major Brown, The Game (1997), sympathetic to anarchism, the ISIS of its day, submitting to ISIS, its not a critique of anarchism at all, a caricature of anarchists as terrorists, non-violent anarchism, a classic problem, non-terroristic anarchism, fantastic turns of phrase, lampshaded, lighting a lamp against the darkness, a fun romp, the reality of police going after subversive groups, it’s about God, and your relationship to Him and yourself on Earth, Chesterton’s fence, an axiom, a principle, completely reasonable, why conservationism should be the default, he’s so persuasive and witty, these are the kinds of conservatives Jesse is afraid of, the Catholic in Julie, the wisdom of the ages, a noble ideal, Terry Pratchett, Mark Twain, Neil Gaiman, “a man who really knew what was going on”, he dresses kind of goth-y, carrying a sword-cane, the people he admired carried sword-canes, Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, a dog named Bounce, Dante’s Inferno, a great age of satire, turning things upside down, laughing, I love lists, a poet who loves lists, arch-humour, that young man, wild white hat, a cause of philosophy in others, a preview of the ending, Scott couldn’t stand this book, Julie was enchanted by it, its unfixed, there’s no grounding, the duel scene, removing parts of his body, he’s a robot, he’s disassembling himself, a little too far?, Scott is a writer, writers reviewing fiction books, how it was constructed, the subtitle: “A Nightmare”, this is a fantasy, this is a fantastic village, this isn’t real, Dante’s Paradisio, this is just allegorical, that’s hilarious, Scott was raised Catholic, Julie (like Chesterton) was a convert, going all the way, a different kind of reader, the cosmos had turned upside down, looking at everything from the back, where the book’s theme is made manifest, this is what I mean, The Everlasting Man, H.G. Wells, proof, a little dig on evolution, shaking the reader, you have no firm fixed ground, wherever you land you’ll find God, “They said my very walk was respectable, and that seen from behind I looked like the British Constitution”, ridiculous, the conservative view, not a poet who is a poet, the common working man, no peasant wants anarchy, every millionaire is at heart an anarchist, plutocrats as anarchists, WTO protests, agent provocateurs, during the Black Panther era, policeman in disguise: let’s blow stuff up, energetic FBI contributions, kind of Philip K. Dickian, a completely different reveal, A Scanner Darkly, Bob Arctor, Robert Downey, Jr., did Philip K. Dick read this book?, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, is Sunday Jesus Christ?, Sunday is God, dressed in the disguise that reveal them as who they really are, pantheists, when men wake up, beautiful nature, a garden, the unmasking, the garden may be Gethsemane, 33 pieces of paper of no value, the question of betrayal, of all days of the week, Rosamund, at the end of time, Heaven is somewhere in Normandy, the marchers, what’s going on?, they all admit they have one hope, the man in the Black Chamber, such a conservative fantasy, secret policeman, the trailer for the 2016 movie adaptation, Nazis and fascists, how could you do a straight up adaptation of this?, Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula: 1895: Seven Days In Mayhem, Dracula marries Queen Victoria, anarchists against Dracula and the vampire elite, a concentration camp holding Sherlock Holmes, Gilbert and Sullivan, a weird detective story about soap operas, the way Sunday is depicted, some of the ways that Sunday is described, he swooned, Sunday is both the Devil and God, looking at him from his hind-parts, kinda weird, the pure good thing, many out loud laughs, “He came of a family of cranks, in which all the oldest people had all the newest notions. One of his uncles always walked about without a hat, and another had made an unsuccessful attempt to walk about with a hat and nothing else.”, his turns of phrase, why Chesterton is loved by Gaiman and Pratchett, the same kind of wry comedians, easy to get along with, shall we go out and have dinner together now?, isolation, twice two is 2,000 times one, George Bernard Shaw, ‘too see you’d think Britian was in a famine – to see you you’d think we’d know why’, fun and dangerous, WWI, a white feather, The Four Feathers, wearing their white feathers proudly, making another joke about being fat, “anarchists!”, what does that have to do with… Bryan?, Gavrilo Princip was not an anarchists (he was a Nationalist) but he was called one, anticipation of WWI, a glimpse of the desire for violence, Teddy Roosevelt, the older detective, detecting pessimists, discovering a crime in a book of sonnets, really funny, Charles Stross’ laundry series, surveillance and data analysis for pre-crime, chilling, why he’s a dangerous guy, defending the indefensible, he spells it out so clearly, do we all know what’s going on here, the book starts with a poem, looking at it in sentences,
“A cloud was on the mind of men
And wailing went the weather,
Yea, a sick cloud upon the soul
When we were boys together.
Science announced nonentity
And art admired decay;
The world was old and ended:
But you and I were gay;
he’s conflating nihilism and decadence and decay with anarchism, The Decline Of The West, The War Of The Worlds, a grim vitality, “what do you want? martyrs!”, written as a cure for melancholy, An Anatomy Of Melancholy, reading melancholic writers, lassitude, making you thoughtful, flashy, so light in its stated topic, if this was written today…, Britain’s who travel to the Middle East to join ISIS, a pacifist book, pro-life, imagining the bomb going off, the value of each human life, Isaac Asimov, violence as the last refuge of the incompetent, chances, who is the man in the black room?, he’s the Alpha and the Omega, in Syria the war is winding down, a 90% decrease in violence, why did the Vietnam War happen, big agents doing things, why does this anarchist council exist?, I can’t believe that any common man would support, a certain class of people thought it would be honourable or profitable, a different subject for the book, a secret agent style version of this book, Moriarty, Fu Manchu, the daughter of the Dragon, a boogeyman, Fu Manchu is trying to overthrow the British occupation of China, a sympathy argument for Fu Manchu, Pan-Asia, Genghis Khan, turnabout is fairplay, pot kettle black, Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Captain Nemo, his mother was a hardcore Stalinist, she was convinced Stalin the great hero of the 20th century, Dorothy Day, attacking organized religion, Marx, neither god nor master, a coherent argument to make, James Dean or Marlon Brando, Kryten in Red Dwarf, mere willingness is the final test, a lengthy lecture on the history of anarchism, Mary Woolstencraft’s husband, Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, Parents And Children aka Fathers And Sons, what’s more useful a painting or a pair of shoes, a near contemporary, an active Russian thing, Dan Schwent, really different, almost not a novel, it is a dream, nightmare, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, that moment, that vertiginous moment, deciding to go another way, setting up these moments, as participators or adaptors, a bunch of people who are wrong about everything, a council, there’s no predominant day of the week, I have to do a podcast on Sunday, it needs to be scheduled, the Club Of Queer Trades stories, how does the schedule happen?, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was inspired by G.K. Chesterton’s The Napoleon Of Notting Hill,
“a novel written by G. K. Chesterton in 1904, set in a nearly unchanged London in 1984.
Although the novel is set in the future, it is, in effect, set in an alternative reality of Chesterton’s own period, with no advances in technology or changes in the class system or attitudes. It postulates an impersonal government, not described in any detail, but apparently content to operate through a figurehead king, randomly chosen.”
not really science fiction, radical!, not a fan of revolutions, loving Americans, one conservative to think about, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, The American Revolution, Queen Elizabeth II is on my money, Tories fled to Canada, Oliver Wiswell by Kenneth Roberts, the Tories (political party), Canada’s history as a defense against American radicalism, a distorted perspective, Jesse ruined it, not the first nor the last time, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, prime ministers are not that important, the Premier of British Columbia is John Horgan.
The SFFaudio Podcast #448 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson
Talked about on today’s show:
1954, a reconstruction of a Norse Saga with Dungeons & Dragons elements, Scott loved it, Jesse found it terrible, and Paul has read it thrice, what would have happened…, Eric Bright Eyes by H. Rider Haggard, idiots and assholes and magic, low magic, striving toward wisdom, the nuclear weapons of magic, Odin, sacrificial Paul, the rules, in the realm of mythology, Beowulf, The Lord Of The Rings, Michael Moorcock’s Elric Of Melnibone, archetypes and gods, greater and deeper, mythic vs. inspired by myth, the language was amazing, Jesse’s not saying much, directly inspired by Beowulf, The Völsunga Saga, an insight into 1000 year old society, The Odyssey, the characters tended to not be very wise, semi-historical, Ragnar Lodbrook, simile nice, toning down the massive metaphors, more about power than it is about ideas, the whole magic sword thing, magic items, H.P. Lovecraft, huge and menacing and powerful and on the edge of our ability to perceive, Skafloc, drawing runes, there’s a demon in here, cursed staves, Dreams In The Witch House, his counterpart (his changeling), screwed at birth, cursed in a Greek or Norse way, more action, not an idea book, all about the ideas, The Forever War, the ideas are not front in center, you can’t touch iron, that’s the rule!, The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven, werewolves, becoming an outlaw, becoming savage, why is he a werewolf, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, not unlike the world was viewed, the revised edition, Bronson Pinchot’s narration, the 1971 revision (made it worse), Gollanz’s reversion, ‘I welded the Broken Sword back together’, a ‘Book For The Blind’ narration, luke warm, The High Crusade, Three Hearts And Three Lions, a WWII officer dropped into the land of fairy, the plot of the Wonder Woman movie, for copyright reasons?, fiddling, the language in this book, poetry, evocative descriptions, half converted Christians, a ghost tells them, that’s the rules, her brother her lover, that’s the tragedy, echoes, the ending was rushed, Valgard, killed by the device, E.F. Bleiler, noir, doomed from the beginning, the characters doom themselves vs. their doomed because of their destiny, why is this happening?, he calls to the raven, hey there’s a battle down the road, dude!? why did you do that?, James M. Cain, for no good reason, stirring the same area of Scott’s brain, pale recreation of Tolkien, thinking about the meta-aspect, that GRAVITAS, WWII, truth, the eternal verities, the truth of story, poetic truth, philosophers, a truth and a resonance, Dunkirk, its hard to criticize anything that is tongue-in-cheek, the bad geography of Middle Earth (Tor.com), philology, Frank Herbert, geology and ecology, monsters doing monstrous things to each other, what makes them powerful, Marissa, imagine you’re copy-editing someone’s work, fixing a falsity, the Goodreads reviews, the reviews of Beowulf, what’s the Bible’s Goodreads reviews, Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg, the epic vs. the novel, ringing false, is this a high fantasy book?, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, science vs. magic, lets shoot the fireballs at each other, Robert E. Howard, the magic sword mentality, Excalibur and King Arthur, his human thews (though very jaguar-like), the strength of 10-hill giants, a really problematic definition, epic vs. sword and sorcery, about scale and stakes, who is casting the fireballs, “an Atlantean Sword”, the magic is in his manliness, about willpower, born to be screwed, the characters don’t seem to know themselves, they are almost pre-conscious, The Odyssey, I’ve made mistakes – I’m going to make more – and here I go, sticking with the tradition he is writing in, that northern tradition, the Neil Gaiman movie script adaptation of Beowulf, The Saga of Eric Brighteyes, set in Iceland, Henry Treece’s Viking Trilogy, on the PDF Page, Viking Dawn, The Road To Miklagard, Viking Sunset, Beothuk, throw down some quotes, a sequel hook, Ragnarok, the unfinished comic book adaptation from the 1960s, good stuff, a book full of sadness, “whence came you hither, fawn?”, the sacred grove, the dryad screams, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, arbitrary rules, the White Christ, real gods vs. fake gods, who and how much power a particular name has, see American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Elf-Trap by Francis Stevens, Carcassonne, Kentucky, why are some characters not allowed to touch iron?, that’s the rules, the afterword, a science fiction-y take, when he isn’t being playful, Three Hearts And Three Lions, marrying science fiction with fantasy, how they can intertwine and make sense of each other, when the Devil shows up, Dante (Alighieri), “the White Christ, time and love”, I knew him of old in my incarnation of Loki, things as other things, fairies from China and India, a very old idea, that’s some deep stuff right there, elf girlfriends vs. human girlfriends, mocking eyes, “oh, you’re one of thooose guys”, “like calls to like”, cold mystery, adopted by elves, mythic, Dragon Magazine, some of the cartoons, straight out of Elric (and this), intelligent swords, willful swords, when you’re sword has a higher intelligence that you do, a tragedy, where’s my place in this world, where’s my place in a Norse saga?, sword dances, a novel for Dungeons & Dragons players, “Brutal, romantic and tragic. no cute hobbits.”