Talked about on today’s show: Dark Forces, 1980, Skeleton Crew, 1984 audio drama, Meatball Fulton, the 2007 movie adaptation, the terrible TV adaptation, a German audio drama?, who doesn’t like Stephen King?, America’s greatest popular novelist, people don’t like Stephen King’s endings, his narration tool, awesome endings, eucatastrophe, everything published until he turned 14, same, similar, Insomnia, changing style, the best time to read Stephen King is when it’s too young to be appropriate, Marissa’s eyes were opened, the scales were lifted from your eyes, mimetic fiction, a bridge novelist, a weird continuity, Mr Jim Moon’s bookshelves, the book cover of Carrie, New English Library, what the hell is the shining?, the psychic power, Salem’s Lot, Christmas and birthdays, a binge, a glut, a fear of big books, reading on Kindle, Terry Pratchett, highlighting observations, a heat map, your Dean Koontzs and James Herberts, very well put, tied up in audio, superior audiobooks, the most popular adaptation among fans, The Stand, Frank Muller, the different seasons, The Dark Tower, the Frank Muller narrated version of The Mist, the artist is mentioned, Hieronymus Bosch, Paul’s Stephen King’s experience, Firestarter in Omni Magazine, the Stephen King lake (there’s always something in that lake), Jesse is averse to popular, Cujo, The Running Man, Jesse is worried that his thesis is right, wise or wry observations of human behavior, King is telling us, a Hitchcock ending, a found document, The House On The Borderlands, the framing device, Lovecraft gets a shout-out, meta-mentioned, aliens, why Stranger Things was so popular, all those things that people are highlighting in Stephen King books, instinctually, amp up the drama, three sips of his beer, drinking beer all the whole day, out of alcoholism, cheating on his wife, he shoots his whole family, its transferred, making the main character less of an asshole, its okay that he cheats on his wife, hardscrabble, movie posters, The Dark Tower and The Thing, a more appealing protagonist, the sexual politics of this, moralistic about monogamy, the centerpiece of the drama, in his thoughts a little bit, the mom is missed more than the wife, replacement moms, replacement wife, the four bullets, we’re left to decide, seeing the book in relief, Darabont’s a hack, The Green Mile, Weird Tales, 1937, an error in the film, so faithful to the book in dialogue, the extra soldier, the neighbour is black, The Shawshank Redemption, a definitive ending, a noir ending makes it all the better, concretely solid as a story, A Quiet Place, the hear you instead of sniffing you, all these zombie stories, at least three actors from The Walking Dead, a distillation of so much, The Mist is a ground level version of The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold, the most popular story in Weird Tales ever, an internal monologue, reporting what it’s like to die, the foibles of all the people in the grocery store, “Food House”, a very choice decision, this is all happening out there, the emotional drama, why Stephen King translates so well to film, a skull-face, it amps up your eeuughs, the people dont trust each other, Mrs. Carmady, we see ourselves in her, a difference between the text and the movie, Christianity and folk stuff, psychic, frustrating, crazy fundamentalism, insidious in the book, recent events, people are that stupid here and now, unacknowledged psychics, The Dead Zone, nobodies who rise to political power, Under The Dome, fear of political zealots and cults, a great Covid story, we’re leaving, King read this stuff, *I AM INSPIRED BY THIS*, H.P. Lovecraft and Sonia Greene’s The Horror At Martin’s Beach, what’s identical is us viewing, it’s not about upper class and lower class, out-of-towners vs. locals, the boundary dispute starts off the story, what’s so cool, his psychology is all over the page, Philip K. Dick, very instinctually, my magic spell words, I drink too much, one for the road, drink more beer, some people know they have drinking problems, at the end of Skeleton Crew there’s a note on how it was written, taking this event from your own life, a very methodical way, great details, observant touches, the class tensions, John Updike, built on this interesting fusion, he isn’t an occult researcher, he’s just a dude, a painter, he paints his picture for us, wherever their faithful, the name of the car is the same kind of car, International Harvester Scout vs. Toyota Landcruiser, a very specific region and mental state, a pseudo-explanation for why all this stuff is happening, the secret military base, we need this scenario, lined up for toilet paper, who’s not wearing a mask, follow the rules, how all of this works, what was the right thing for me to do, going to the drugstore, what was the best thing anyone could have done in this scenario, drink beer, play pinochle, a metaphor for the Vietnam War, these experiences, the atmosphere of 1980s, ultimately they’re fighting the Soviets, he’s actually speaking to a particular set of events for people who are not responsible directly, a nostalgia hit, there’s much more to it than the politics, he writes about where he knows, a temperature map, bad political takes on twitter, he’s a boomer, the Vietnam War and John F. Kennedy, 11-22-63, they’ve held up so well, Danse Macabre, the Patty Hearst case, a global pandemic, a very specific moment, 1990, a late 70s story, he didn’t revise it enough, the Symbionese Liberation Army, copy and replace, written right after The Stand, Bird Box, an invasion from outside, usually after the events, the explanation for why the monsters are the way they are, Project Arrowhead, overheard at the library, what you hear is going on, no one is responsible, we’re all responsible, “nobody knew”, “no one could have foreseen this”, why the TV show is terrible, scattering the people, the monsters in the mist, an alternative ecosystem in which we are made irrelevant, The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, a cool idea, are the evils in the grocery store are manifested by the monsters in the mist (in the TV show adaptation), King has them completely separated, they’re not here to eat us, that’s how they are, Mrs. Carmody isn’t right, cosmic indifference causes beer drinking, its all for nothing, why King is better at this, he understands this on the cellular level, a reflection on his own psychological experience with it, the family dog didn’t want to be that way, down the same path, Dark Tower 6 or 7, move between these worlds, a retcon, a mistake, Dark Tower 3, these institutions, North Central Positronics, how institutions appear in King’s early fiction, the storm is what caused it, The Men Who Stare At Goats, if you look at their CV, [Prof. Courtney Brown] working on remote viewing, failing upward, now I teach kids, The Window by H.P. Lovecraft, in Fungi From Yuggoth,
The house was old, with tangled wings outthrown,
Of which no one could ever half keep track,
And in a small room somewhat near the back
Was an odd window sealed with ancient stone.
There, in a dream-plagued childhood, quite alone
I used to go, where night reigned vague and black;
Parting the cobwebs with a curious lack
Of fear, and with a wonder each time grown.
One later day I brought the masons there
To find what view my dim forbears had shunned,
But as they pierced the stone, a rush of air
Burst from the alien voids that yawned beyond.
They fled – but I peered through and found unrolled
All the wild worlds of which my dreams had told.
that piercing, this curious monkey thing, roll our tanks into Moscow behind their lines, if he could have waited a few minutes he this whole story made no sense, his school shooting book [Rage by Stephen King], he’s thinking about killing his family, the army comes in and fixes things, undermining the cynicism, that he didn’t kill himself, he shot his son after abandoning his wife, he went there, that Chinatown (1974) ending, compare this to The Shawshank Redemption‘s ending, the mist just goes away, I think those tentacles came out of that beer can, the trucks, the woman who left right away, locals who had made better decisions, the politics of it are quite interesting, the military guys are wearing masks, its a gas causing hallucinations, an extra, faceless government guys, the Iraq quagmire, the surge will work, the military was cleaning up, burning cocoons off the trees, they’re saving the people, pretty powerful, Scott was not pleased by the ending in the theater, “we went straight to the bookstore from the theatre”, Stephen King’s hopeful ending, something drastic, the psychic part, a dire situation, it might not be real, he thought he heard the word “Hartford”, there’s no narrator in the audio drama, we’re just being show the sound, like a microphone in the pocket of one of the characters, eliminating his own hope, saving them from the horror, pro-hope, I would rather sit here for a minute, I guess we gotta do it, they were safe for a minute, the whole point of this exercise is doomed, not consistent with King’s character as a writer, Pet Semetary, evil is defeated provisionally, they’re so faithful up to the tone of the book up to that point, the ending of Salem’s Lot is the beginning, he doesn’t want to go to that very bleak ending, collecting graffiti from the bathroom stalls of truck-stops, the maid will find it, his notebook saves this guy’s life, an optimistic happy ending, a real phenomenon, all these gun deaths, assault style rifles, avoid breaking down the gun deaths, most US gun deaths are suicides, if you have drugs in your house, we have these states where we change, things will look better in the morning, son, “I was as honest as I could be”, not wiser (they just have more experience), here have a hug, a confection, Castle Rock, exploiting or adapting, wasn’t that part cool, it has the shining music, a kid like in Stand By Me, E.T., straight from his unconscious, he’s not constructing it using a plot generator, a car really obsessed, a superhuman level of attention to detail, a kid crying in the sandlot, the boathouse, wonderfully modeled, a Parliament cigarette, Pepsi, Purina, what it was like to be a middle class American in 1980s, this is not how the world is now, Castle Rock does a better job of getting King (like Darabont does), characters, memorable characters, It, the most accurate depiction of 12 year olds, still accurate at 38, people do that and there isn’t always consequences, every transgression is punished, punished for an act of mercy, Mrs. Carmody would have been right, movies for adults, The Big Chill, suburban adultery, closely observed modernist fiction, lets go on vacation, these dark thoughts on the road, the best depictions of being a writer, why you need that axe, if I can just change stuff up I can finish the book, I’m outlining a new writing project and four months of peace and quiet are what I need, from the very first scene, this Jack Torrence is absolutely crazy, vs. a descent into madness, moral corruption, Kubrick’s film is great, ghosts are allowed to be in novels, the New York Times review of Dark Forces, cinematic writing, is there a story he’s produced that hasn’t been adapted at least once, Revival is going to be adapted, is it because his writing is so cinematic?, the King name, pacing and people, so much happens in the last hour, the audio drama skips the first two chapters, the 1984 text adventure computer game, missing the foundation, an excellent artifact, many many audio dramas available, the 1980s was dry as hell, Fred Greenhalgh and Radio Drama Revival, so innovative, don’t short shrift the audio drama, that 3-D effect, this is really scary, you’re in that grocery store with those people, ‘there’s something in the mist and it looks like this’, Maissa Bessada, its definitely scary, in a film, all those eggs inside that guy, some great effects, a little bit of Aliens (1986) in there, the spiders are on our side, an alien ecology, what is their vegetation, the vegetation doesn’t spill in, The War Of The Worlds, triffids, he’s about the psychology, psychic plants, From A Buick 8, the architecture of the car is all wrong, Thomas Jane, one of the monsters is a D&D one, if Stephen King had been born Stephina King, that’s a guy thing, facts about the cars, being that he’s a dude, old cars from the 50s, an AMC AMX, it looks so cool, it would be different if he was a woman, if he had a female brain, what would those obsessions be, obsession with duck breeds, “what’s with the doilies, ladies?”, video games have really changed people’s brains, game clothes, their obsessions are going to be different, he tends to be very contemporary, Cell, a cellphone used as a flashlight, now nobody has flashlights, the mist knocked out the signal, the radio, “the internet’s out, what can we do!?”, Jesse’s favourite scene, I’m going to get you a Spider-Man, a Spider-Man and an Incredible Hulk too!, sitting on the dock for a few hour with a comic book, totally absorbed, something for the dentist to work on later.
The SFFaudio Podcast #396 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Wayne June talk about The Thing On The Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, January 1937, the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre adaptation, the movie, all thingy, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, racism, the sexism isn’t sexism, I’m not fully human, I need a man’s brain, partially intentional?, a mishmash of transmigrations, the opinion of Ephraim as expressed through Asenath, congress with certain supernatural horrors (Deep Ones), hybrid, what Edward hears, Man can be capitalized, at what point in the story does Asenath speak for herself?, man vs. woman, poison, the prequel, when she leaves Innsmouth?, trapped in the corpse of her own father, amazing resonances, 0% sexist, sympathy, being locked up in the Crowninshield House, down the 6,000 steps, in a Darkest Dungeon in Maine, mindblasted by shoggoths, on and on and on,
It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to shew by this statement that I am not his murderer.
a horrible “survival”, gills and spawning, Ephraim is desperate for immortality because he’s fully human, aging while your descendants get to live forever, not the immortal we’re looking for, this technology, burn the Necronomicon, gender swapping, finding a body on craigslist, social networking and social media, Bodybook, Strange Aeons: The Thing On The Doorstep (2005), the Providence adaptation, honeymoon in Innsmouth, especially creepy, a rival to her father, he’s having sex with the father-in-law, a thought you never want to have, a character focused story, reacting badly, body-hopping through time, a story of Daniel’s insanity, the framing story, Julie Hoverson’s adaptation, Dan is so far from the events, below the surface, other filmed adaptations, with budget vision and understanding, Guillermo del Toro, the 3 and 2 knock, glub glub glub bubble bubble, the scariest use of glub glub ever, Daniel is a skeptic, a recurring motif: “tirelessly mediocre”, he doesn’t have hypnotic ability (susceptibility), Ephraim needs a weak willed person with a lot of brains, get a taxi, strong willed, he’s gone through some shit, the survival continues, rationalizing the magic, it’s all math, Charlie Stross’ Laundry books, A Colder War, Shoggoths In Bloom by Elizabeth Bear, Dreams In The Witch House, science of magic, quantum stuff, Lovecraft at bottom is a Science Fiction writer, candlestick, the Rider-Waite tarot deck, a cult leader in New York, The Order Of The Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, the infinity symbol above “the Magician” and “Strength”, the cups the swords the wands and the pentacles, the esoteric order in reality, The Dunwich Horror, Robert M. Price, an ouroboros belt, biblical names, Ephraim and Asenath, a circle, is this an earlier survival (from a biblical era?), The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick has his themes, reality replaced with post-it notes, parallels in Lovecraft, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, in a dream Jervas Dudley finds the key, just so natural, beginning and ending in a sanitarium, the great race of Yith, born in the wrong time, a 17th century gentleman, what’s wrong with sleeping in a graveyard, Lego model of THE TOMB, an affinity for the tomb, now is the time we discuss the Providence adaption, a 12 issue series, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Avatar Press, racism, sexism, and hidden sexuality, physically turning the pages is traumatic, reading that third paragraph, incredibly difficult to read, the subtext becomes text (and graphic), the more you think about it the more horrifying it gets, Edwards’ weird experiences, that lost time, Robert Black, the final panel, she’s standing on the doorstep, the rape scene, he sees himself entering town, another callback, the call from woodland Maine, the local Marshall, a pivotal scene, communing with the shoggoths, wordlessly insisting he’s going to drive the rest of the way, power over the weather, uncanny predictions, Lovecraft the wannabe architect, another kind of horror, the hidden, the crushed in skull of Asenath is the beginning of the story, out of all of the horrible teenage experiences waking up in a decomposed body is a cool idea, there’s a lot more too it than that, the seeds are all there, it is deep, An Exchange Of Souls by Barry Pain, H.B. Drake’s The Remedy, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, great minds think alike, a devotee of subterranean magic, a hypnotist with the power to transfer her consciousness, out of body experience, Trinidad, a psychic vampire story, bank robbery, a phial of acid, the Asenath analogue, without the final transference, a popular trope at that time, spritualism and seances, mesmerism, animal magnetism, The Facts In The Case of M. Valdemar by Edgar Allan Poe, he totally glub glubbed, Cool Air, ammonia baths, staying alive for love, he’s been dead for years, if you read a lot of Lovecraft you’ll love Providence, she’s raping her own body with the body of a gay man, so inverted through a mirror, the father is a monster, a lot of trans people would be really happy with Ephraim’s tech, suffering, “monsters in human form”, one of the monsters: lich, an evil wizard that uses magic to keep alive, classic high level undead D&D monsters, ancient Scottish for corpse, soul magic, Gary Gygax, Clark Ashton Smith, a phylactery, Edward says to Dan, an object brought back from the underground Maine shoggoth pit, John Dee, the magical objects, opening gateways with quantum physics, this story has it all, a keystone has it all, fetishes?, if this was a bayou story, we dig it, would a great high budget version, Lovecraft is word magic, the definitive adaptation, amazing to hear the voice invoke pages from the Necronomicon, a minimalist palate, brings the images to life, that’s why Lovecraft doesn’t work as well on film, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Thing (1982), Lovecraft thought of himself as a failure because he thought he couldn’t live up to the dreams his stories describe, Lovecraft never wavered from the idea that the only thing interesting is interesting things, who cares about that Henry James sitting room drama when you can pick up a gun and shoot your freind in the head six-times through, it cannot be described, alien sounding vocabulary, don’t think of elephants, so genius, the name of the house that Asenath house, the Derby mansion, a real family in a fake town, she bought the crownishield to shield her crown, on the way back from Maine, they switch,
I do not recall just what my own part of the conversation was, for the baffling alienage of my seatmate filled all my consciousness.
an emotional response,
There was talk of an investigation, but this was dispelled one day when Asenath appeared in the streets and chatted in a sprightly way with a large number of acquaintances
dusting a turning the furnace on once a week, he will need a place to go, on those days, this guy is genius, what makes the spell so great, that’s insane, polished, so many meanings, it’s like he’s occupied by a 17th century genius.
The SFFaudio Podcast #088 – Scott and Jesse talk about audiobooks, the recent arrivals and the new releases.
Talked about on today’s show:
Why was Scott gone?, Scott fought off a zombie apocalypse, an angry letter to Santa, Last Call by Tim Powers, Subterranean Press, On Stranger Tides, Bronson Pinchot, “gritty magic realism”, Scott likes lists, top 10 best horror novels, Ghost Story, The Stand, divinationary tarot cards, The Fisher King, “blended weirdness”, StarStruck, The Audio Comics Company, Starstruck’s Wikipedia entry, William Dufris, Simon Vance, Portland (Maine), Simon Vance’s YouTube, Infinivox, Starship Vectors, Stephen Baxter, Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette, Charles Coleman Findlay, Gwenyth Jones, Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, “spacey Science Fiction is very refreshing”, BoingBoing’s “The Beginning Of The End Of A Trend” post – is the death of Paranormal Romance approaching?, Brilliance Audio, The God Engines by John Scalzi, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy podcast, The Android’s Dream (as read by Wil Wheaton), Audible.com, Debt Of Bones by Terry Goodkind, the Legends anthology, Frank Muller, The Hedge Knight by George R.R. Martin, The Hedge Knight II, Legends II, Dreamsongs, Pump Six And Other Stories by Paulo Bacigalupi, The Fluted Girl, biopunk, Lord Of The Changing Winds: The Griffin Mage Book One by Rachel Neumeier, epic fantasy, Griffins, hard-boiled YA?, noir YA?, The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You by Harry Harrison, Gregg Margarite, the Stainless Steel rat is wry and slick and rascally, well written candy, West Of Eden, prehistorical Science Fiction, alternate history, Catalyst by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, barking cats?, Scott is a cat person, Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer, “Mood-altering cat parasites make women friendly and men into jerks”, fantasy, The Runelords: Book Four: The Lair Of Bones by David Farland, Shadowheart by Tad Williams, Dick Hill, The Habitation Of The Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente, Prester John, immortality, She: Who Must Be Obeyed by H. Rider Haggard, “the literal tree of knowledge”, A Dirge For Prester John, Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, “the fate of the world is always hanging in the balance” ,The Walking Dead TV vs. The Walking Dead comic, “a zombie movie that never ends”, Robert Kirkman‘s plan, reading contest, Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, upcoming readalongs: Gulliver’s Travels and Oath Of Fealty, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, Wil Patton, Neon Rain by James Lee Burke, Heart Of Darkness, Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack The Ripper, Time For The Stars, Will Patton, Richard Matheson, Somewhere In Time, Ross Macdonald, The New Adventures Of Mike Hammer, Stacey Keach, Max Allan Collins, SS-GB by Len Deighton, Fatherland, Eric S. Rabkin, “I don’t want to say I like Nazis”.
The Long Walk
By Stephen King; Read by Kirby Heyborne
9 CDs – Approx. 11 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Themes: / Horror / Walking / Alternate History / Maine /
Every year, on the first day of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as the “Long Walk.” Among this year’s chosen crop is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty. He knows the rules: Warning are issued if you fall under speed, stumble, sit down. After three warnings, you get your ticket. And what happens then serves as a chilling reminder that there can be only one winner in the Walk: the one who survives.
One of the things that generally makes me not connect with fiction is what’s missing. That is to say, if the story isn’t talking about some idea (the human condition, society, or how the world works) I probably won’t connect with it. I therefore always assume that a novel has some message. A lesson it is trying to impart to me. Perhaps this is a mistake as The Long Walk, by Stephen King, lives on the surface of what it is. It’s 100 boys walking across the United States in a kind of slow motion deathrace. Unlike the the traditional death march, these walkers are all volunteers, and are supplied with food and water. “That’s the premise.” I told myself. But what message had King planted underneath it? What idea was he trying to convey in novel form?
At first I was wondering if King was addressing the Vietnam War. But that didn’t pan out, not exactly. The way the book is structured, the premise is never flatly stated, we only learn how the boys ended up where they are (walking across Maine) when they discuss it amongst themselves. So, we’re learning the premise as we go. I figured that if there was a message in The Long Walk it needed to be decoded. My first suspect for the key to the message was the soldiers who passively enforce the Long Walk’s rules. Their faces were strangely blank, providing no bounce or reaction to their work or the insults the walkers hurl at them. I thought their blankness might be a hint, a symbol, or something. But if so, it didn’t work out for me. In fact, by the end, never having learned the names of any of the nearly faceless soldiers, it was quite the opposite. The only idea I could come up with to explain this was that they were designed to represent the unfeeling laws of nature. Kind of an embodiment physics, unfeeling and inalterable. That got me thinking that perhaps the whole of the The Long Walk was kind of a metaphor for mortality – you know, the idea that no matter your station, no matter your talent, none of us can escape our coming demise. But, the more I read, the less that seemed likely. In fact, no matter which intellectual straw I grasped at I kept coming away with a figurative handful of nothing.
Another angle of attack I took was to look at the world. What kind of a world would allow this horror race? What was the meaning of “the prize” for the winner? The world, what little we get to hear of it, was pretty interesting. We learn that there are 51 states in the Union, that before then end WWII some kind of air raid from Nazi Germany hit the American East Coast, and that the government may be entirely in the hands of a military dictatorship. Nice! These and other small details slip out in the many varied conversations between the boys in the Walk, amongst trash talk, sex talk and the discussion of literature. With nothing much left to go on I tried to think about the literary references, tried to see if there was some key there, to unlocking the meaning of this novel. At one point one of the walkers says that ‘the Walk is like living in a Shirley Jackson story.’ He was right! And later on, when ruminating on the effect of being watched by the public, another of the boys says he’s ‘reminded of a Ray Bradbury story.’ And he was right! In fact, there are maybe a half dozen literary references alluded to in this novel. But none of them, not any one of them, was the key to decoding the meaning for me. So, in the end, I didn’t come away with was any sense of what this novel was about, other than what it would be like to be force marched across the United States.
Apparently The Long Walk was originally written in 1966 and 1967 while King was in his first two semesters of university. I’m assuming it was somewhat updated or re-written before it’s 1979 debut in paperback under King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym. I first heard Kirby Heyborne’s narrative abilities with Little Brother |READ OUR REVIEW|. That novel was told in the first person, and Heyborne’s youthful voice was up for the job there. Here, voicing more than a dozen young men and boys, all in the third person, he renders an acceptable, if not stellar, performance. He adds the occasional regional American accent to each kid and it always sounds appropriate for what we know about his background. Also of note: There is an interesting introductory essay on Disc 1 entitled The Importance Of Being Bachman. It does not, however, provide any particular details about The Long Walk.