The SFFaudio Podcast #725 – The Isle of Pirate’s Doom by Robert E. Howard – read by Connor Kaye. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novella (1 hour 24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Connor Kaye, Alex, and Cora Buhlert.
Talked about on today’s show:
1975?, this story did not sell, 50 years after death, 2025, who has the copyright?, nobody the fuck knows, how can you claim to have copyright if you are not the artist, the author, I have copyright over something someone else wrote, Fred Malmberg would happily take your money, you would be surprised, unauthorized games, Queen Of The Black Coast audio drama, Red Nail, they changed their mind, this is the grift of the copyright system that we have, some corporation is sitting on the rights to insulin, all out of patent, a fairly little known story, willing to take the heat, Sailor Steve Costigan, Mark Finn, because it was rejected, the U.S. system is weird, when did Ambrose Bierce die?, stories that exist, Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, B. Traven, half the stuff of Midwood, she shared a name, a werewolf story, reminiscent in plot, recycles plot, The Fire of Asshurbanipal, 1927/8, Patrice Louinet, get into some new markets, Blue Book, Adventure, Argosy, in terms of its content, an adventure story, romance angle, it’s simple, reading it in context with the Valeria adaptation (in Savage Sword Of Conan), he didn’t put a bunch of research into it, a fight scene, the background lovecraftian horror temple is pre-Mayan/pre-Aztec, Mogar, Gower, not finished for sale?, Almuric, size wise, but more polished in some places, there’s something weird about how simple the temple scene is, trap-laden temples, the lesser Conan stories, Shadows In The Moonlight, Queen Of The Black Coast, with the gender flip, the POV character is following the badass around, a formidable female character, Novalyne Price Ellis, Dark Agnes, C.L. Moore was selling that sort of thing, she’s masked here, she’s a fop, pulls the motorcycle helmet off, the curls!, drama, very modern, adversarial, win each other’s respect, emerging as a trope in stories, a competent woman in a field that men are dominant in, something we can largely attribute to Robert E. Howard, Anne Bonny and Mary Read, not proud of their virtue, Valeria is not Valeria from Red Nails, Valeria would not cry, not about that, I have lived a man’s life, Black Amazon Of Mars by Leigh Brackett, Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, question my virtue, a very narrow thing, not having sex with all the men on the ship, Conan adjacent, beautifully illustrated by John Buscema, surprisingly close, rocks and knives with flintlocks, making valeria cry, I have no birth control, Conan, why her virtue matters, how immature Howard was, Mettalus, Island Of Pirate’s Doom, a “merchant” sailor, an owner of the ship, a mate, Robinson Cruseo, contempt for pirates vs. fear of pirates, a little naive here, the story we’re getting from Connor, guy in a tavern tells a story, two and a half days, careful not to sleep in the same place, gotta keep her virtue, write to market, not a spicy, Spicy Adventure Tales, how Belit is marketed, nude, a hat, a big coat, breeks, the sun be strong, the rapier she’s got, not doing that research on the temple, pirates don’t bury treasure on islands, pirates take their treasure and spend it, Blackbeard’s Ghost, Elsa Lancaster, bail out these old ladies, we spent every bit of that in one week in Jamaica, Klaus Störtebeker donated money for salted herrings, Robin Hood, a lot of heads, a great story, every north German kid thinks he’s really really awesome, Indian tribes did hide treasure, the temple here is awesome, more backstory, Fire Of Ashurbanipal, the rumors, the legends, cool backstory, a mechanism, metal, Iron Shadows In The Moon aka Shadows In The Moonlight, in the Vilayet, iron gods, the pre-carib elder race, waiting for the Lovecraftian, polished up that idea, why is there revenge working out that way, the blood, cracked through the altar stained with blood, the gem, when the blood comes down and gushes out of them, one last blood sacrifice, not enough setup, walking up to the gallows, Queen Of The Black Coast, booby-trapped altar, two endings, the weird version and the desert adventure version, snake bite vs. actual demon, a Weird Tales version, pump up the Cthulhu element, the vengeance, the anger, the hatred, they through their gems into the sea, they’re shiny, pirates want them, you’re a lich, that’s your reliquary, feather from an alien space god, Yag Kosha [Tower Of The Elephant], the work being done, a different kind of story at the end, pretend to be my sister, I need more adventures, she’s 20 years old, old enough for marriage, he’s not doing enough work to explain this island, the writing is solid, the motivation, why didn’t you make it an Aztec temple?, a new market, hot markets, long established, Spicy Stories, Fight Stories, Action Stories, he leaves himself open for more stories, the Helen Tavrel series, Steve Harmer, some other character, trained as a doctor, wounds being treated, written over a couple of days at most, the name “Steve” main character names, eight individual Steves, two Steve Costigans, Post Oaks & Sand Roughs, the most explicit example, when you see Steve he’s putting himself into that character, re-written and patched up into a much better story, a few off things in the ending, The Gods Of Bal-Sagoth, poetic irony, crushed by a statue of a god, setup and paid off, he played with it, it has to be a more important, the setup has to be better, to better effect, the payoff, Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981), uncovering the Ark of the Covenant, close your eyes, don’t look, we watch, should I close my eyes?, Nazis killed in various ways, one burns up, the reveal that there’s this jewel, the two heroes look away, their bonds are mysteriously cut (by God?), God was really nice, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984), Metallus/Steve, a much better payoff, a legend about a curse, Steve Harmer has been on this island a few days, a Robinson Crusoe setup, a nice ship, easy coincidences, a meet-cute, skating on his good writing skills, what would have made it something special, conked on the head a couple of times, disabled in one arm, a way of doing things, kicking ass, those Conan stories, the dynamic of Red Nails, a little back and forth, a mass murdering pirate, sleeping with the whole crew, feels kind of juvenile, he would have been 22, sexual experiences, a story problem, a good story, when people poop on Vale Of Lost Women, it cooks as a story, the implied raping, horrible slavery, an outline of an ending, gross racism, super-strong images, very very visceral, I’m not going to force women into sex, Conan doesn’t rape women, what he put into it, if we think of this as the research, this is the necessary work, The Pool Of The Black One, giants, a green pool, a stream of death, a strange Conan story, on the island of weirdness, “Conan, I was swimming”, the adaptation, a big ream of paper, they don’t have the firearms, they’re not from Spain, Zamora, Argos, where she’s Valeria and she’s talking about Conan, her adopted father, a sexual jealousy, who is this Metallus guy, Roy Thomas fucked up, if you put Conan in that role…, makes Valeria make no sense, you can’t change the relationship and not have it no difference, pre-Red Nails, it’s post Red Nail, it should have been Valeria backstory, the Red Brotherhood, Valeria likes adventuring too much, talk to my pirate dad, making Metallus a merchant, Roy Thomas misunderstanding, what makes Roy Thomas a good writer is he’s a copier (and we like that about him), bad decisions, he’s not a Robert E. Howard clone, from a mate to an owner of a ship, one is a hired worker and the other is a guy and a try to make business, why he got beheaded, Hamburg and Bremen, a hired hand, join the pirates, he should become a pirate, Valeria should have contempt for merchants, not enough research on pirates yet, he likes it, Belit’s a pirate, you have to learn about pirates, how Howard loves pirates, an essay about pirates, a biography of Howard, what happened to pirates when they were caught, a photo, a great spike driven through his head, this gruesome picture, sailing under the skull and crossbones, tried to runaway to sea, Robert E. Howard was an only child, he had a duty, everything is explained, Howard didn’t really like authority, gone Steve Costigan, he likes the romance and the adventure, the reality is something he doesn’t like, a good romance, the research for other stories, its better than this, there’s a girl, kidnapped by these pirates, the weirdest of the Conan stories, what’s the deal with this island, stuff happens, pirate Conan stories, The Black Stranger, L. Sprague De Camp, The Treasure Of Trancios, bizarre Conan, Black Vulmea’s Vengeance, a strange Conan story, discussing the character, the main quote, gigantic mirth and gigantic melancholics, his personality is weird, almost sadistic fun, very intelligent, Conan The Socialist, he’s very very intelligent, he’s a schemer in this one, Nudist Camp by Orrie Hitt, the climax, temple collapses, taken up to 11, Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the treasure is the sword of St. Michael, this huge underground cave dome, that’s the end of the book, they get one coin, Oak Island, so crazy, its all based on the premise that pirates bury their treasure, zoom out a little bit, no x marks the spot ever, Captain Kidd, innumerable theories, where it could have come from, Vikings!, viking theories, they’re gardening, there’s something down there, 16 seasons into a reality TV show, you can’t admit there’s nothing there, why do you go to the moon?, do you want to make that your particular purpose, could you find something else to do, digging at oak island, that work, that obsession, proof you don’t need any payoffs, here’s a hairpin!, a literally sunk costs fallacy, bankrupted dozens, pretty good, a very Alex movie, Uncharted (2022), checks a lot of checkboxes, rootkits on movie CDs, action adventurey around the worldy Indiana Jonesy, Swordfish, a helicopter with a bus, they do that with Magellan’s ships, Magellan personally circumnavigated, still intact somehow, boarding actions, all special effects, passable entertainment, the kid who plays Spider-man, game lore, the guy on the beach is the voice of the main character, cargo nets and cargo boxes, run over in the sky, well put together?, Nicholas Cage has to find the constitution, a little lighter than National Treasure (2004), a 500 year old ship in the tropics, worth watching, just pirate it, Alex has read every Dirk Pitt novel before Clive Cussler died, goofy, Winston Churchill sold Canada to the United States, definitely not James Bond, amazingly goofy, lend-lease realism, Sahara (2005), evil billionaire, underwater archaeologist, vintage cars, 1929 Dusenberg, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books, a TV show, a private detective sort of setup, people love the series, a colour in the title of each one, The Girl In The Plain Brown Wrapper, Lawrence Block was a fan, people obsessed with the writings of John D. MacDonald, technothrillers, Tom Clancy, Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz, Abe Lincoln was kidnapped, the murder at the theatre was a coverup, ship full of gold, The Da Vinci Code but fun, clones Nazis in Antarctica, streak of ridiculousness, Ghenghis Khan’s tomb, a lost Viking colony, a lost Hawaiian island, weird cult living underwater, Pacific Vortex, The Mediterranean Caper, written with his son, born in 1931, Night Probe, a secret base on the Moon, the Nazi base in Antarctica, Sam Tripoli, Newschwabenland, Klaus Schwab, making everybody eat bugs, a grain of truth, Admiral Perry, did they find a Nazi base there?, no matter what it is, serpent men, George Bush’s back, no matter what it is, its always been written about in fictional literature, The Shadow Kingdom, why George Bush and his friends are all lizard men, its so true, its a metaphor, what resonates with people as being truthful, it resonates because it is true, passed along as a fact about the world, the description of aliens, glowing beings, the greys, H.G. Wells, a little piece, drawings of what man will look like, absorb our nutrients in a bath, he’s making fun of it, the newspaper makes fun of his making fun, 20 years go by, here’s my theory on aliens, The Red One by Jack London, an ancient alien spaceship in the South Pacific, how did that mega-structure get built, space helmets, focused on heads, shrinking heads, a giant ball impacted on this South Pacific island, a literary antecedent that comes out as a conspiracy theory, when we hear something we like we pass it on, watching Stark Trek, a retelling of Plato’s Cave, a retelling of The Tempest, steal from the best!, make some real cash, Connor has the adjectives for us, we find a lost Conan story written by Robert E. Howard, a retelling of Red Harvest, A Fistful Of Dollars and The Maltese Falcon Conan, Conan The Rogue by John Maddox Roberts, steal from the best, classic noir with Conan in the middle, a remake of Yojimbo, a redoing of Red Harvest, the Bruce Willis one Last Man Standing, prohibition era, the only thing that’s missing is the girl, brass bra no less, the new S.M. Stirling Conan cover, The Peshawar Lancers, the British Raj in India in the year 2000, a Russian cannibal cult you say?, cannibal culting is the way to go, not a series!, a standalone!, the audiobook exists, 17 hours, is it 17 hours good?, Space Cadet, Ministry Of Disturbance, Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, Easy Go by Michael Crichton, Drug Of Choice, almost a Philip K. Dick novel, a Hard Case Crime reprint, patients in comas with blue pee, Hollywood Scientology cult, soma, sex island you say?, Jeffrey Epstein island, it’s all in your fuckin head!, super suggestible, do you have tennis, sandpaper your elbow, shitty food you think is delicious, Klaus Schwab: you will own nothing and you will like it, down for At The Mountains Of Madness and The Mysterious Island, a quite long fairy tale, dedicated to the Rani of Sarawak, the super gay guy: Oscar Wilde, Black Priestess Of Varda by Erik Fennel, you’re going to love Nudist Camp by Orrie Hitt, a seething novel, to worship nature, sunbathe unclad, strange sect, voluptous Ada Holden, began to love nature a little to passionately, she-devil, her own glorious body, this is a smut book, Brother And Sister by Donald E. Westlake, Almuric is out tonight!, the second Cora show, time flies, see you on twitter.