Reading, Short And Deep #337
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Awakening by Willis Conover
Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.
Awakening was first published in Weird Tales, May 1940.
The SFFaudio Podcast #586 – The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 10 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons and Trish E. Matson
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, October 1936, what a good issue this is, how many podcasts based on stories in this issue?, Lloyd Arthur Ashback, The Lost Temple Of Xantoos by Howell Calhoun, Robert Block, Witch-Burning, The Lost Door by Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Earle Pierce Jr., Red Nails by Robert E. Howard, the final Conan story while he’s alive, R.E.H. by Robert H. Barlow, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, Arthur Conan Doyle, a lot for your money, The Shadow, Motor Stories, True Detective, Northwest Smith stories, worldbuilding, Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven, corrupt the planet, elves, diminished, our swashbuckling hero, connections, Philip Jose Farmer’s authorized Tarzan novel: The Dark Heart Of Time, a crystal tree, a civilization built around it, trees, a pocket universe ruled by a being that created the universe, ultimately easy to deal with, Jirel Of Joiry, Shambleau, succumbing to the wiles of a woman (who is not a woman), an anti-climactic ending, as an introduction, it has the virtue of being public domain, LibriVox, what she does with the language, not very much happens, mostly description, very Robert E. Howard like, the colour and the emotion, what actually happens, crashed, he’s basically Han Solo, a Mandalorian episode, no Chewie here, more pathetic than Chewie, a million year old ruined city, the Patrol, the well, a fake crying lady, reaching back into his brain vocab book, a missing bit, sacrificing a few of the forest people, through a monumental effort of will, he shoots it in the trunk/roots, very metaphorical, a dream sequence, the mushroom expression of the thing that is Thag, give him a sword, half of Conan stories, fights a god, a girl to be saved and a girl that’s evil (and jealous of Conan’s gf), Jesse’s least favourite part of Game Of Thrones, a really long story for the amount of activity that happens, a laser beam battle, a tribal war, it feels very long, the repetition, the same strange word again, incongruity, incredulous, making it more ornate and then colouring in, how it feels rather than what you see, a queer sort of music, intolerable beauty, that piercing strength, purple prose, its all about the dwelling in that feeling, the description of bodies, moonstone eyes, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Tyger by William Blake, my dead friend Gregg Margarite, “went lurking” a verb now used,
“went lurking” is a verb now used by people who only know each other via newsgroups – can mean, stopped responding to email or threads, also usable to describe people have have possibly died – so that’s how I will now describe my friends who I know have died
-they “went lurking”
Where do they lurk? Under what circumstances do they stop lurking? This sounds like a story waiting to be written.”[email protected]
Now they ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-winds, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile, at least… for now.
referencing The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft whenever possible, The Number Of The Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, it’s a (Philip Jose) Farmer book, its not a great book, “I’m going to do nostalgia”, 666 dimensions, WOW, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, 1979/80, revisiting some feelings, self-indulgent and incestuous, Lazarus Long, Mike the computer, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Glory Road, tour de Heinlein, enjoyed reading it, living my life and reading this book, it shouldn’t exist, the Exegesis of Robert A. Heinlein, science fictional concepts, watch out for femme fatales, “I’ll try”, a character development, a bottle episode, a standalone, the way Red Nails ends, Queen Of The Black Coast, go have one of his gigantic melancholies, “harry the coast of Kush”, a sense of optimism, this is not really science fiction, more like Star Wars, sword and planet, science fantasy, a romance, more weird, a setting beyond the Earth, its totally weird, there’s this god and this wizard, Conan, The Lost Valley of Iskander by Robert E. Howard, broody and thinky, Windwagon Smith, Philip Jose Farmer’s Windwagon Smith, Frank Leslie Illustrated, The Steam Man Of The Prairies, Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout, Around The World In 80 Days, Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987), an Ice Sledge, Dragonlance DL6: Dragons Of Ice, could this really work?, Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Windwagon Smith And The Martians, a mashup, Northwest Smith and Windwagon Smith, Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, pirates and voodoo, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Lord Dunsany’s A Story Of Land And Sea, Thomas Windwagon Smith, 1854 newspaper accounts, the prevailing winds blow in the wrong direction, a legal document with silver ink on blue paper, adapted into a comic (Eclipse’s Orbit), recorded into an audiobook, reasons to contact Ray Bradbury, Twelve Kings In Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Paul Bunyan, American myths, where’s Philip Jose Farmer when we need him?, American Mythos, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Smith is that name, Joe Anybody, C.L. Moore’s afterword for Shambleau And Other Stories, a red figure running, N.W. Smith, a third character was needed, Yarol is an anagram for the typewriter, North-West recurs, North West Territory, North-West Passage, the Northwest Rebellion, Northwest Of Space, do you remember when I was a kid?, Grizzly Adams, recreating the Garden of Eden with a bear,
Temples of Xantoos
By HOWELL CALHOUN
Celestial fantasies of deathless night, Enraptured colonnades adorned with pearls, Resplendent guardians of crimson light, Expanse of darkness silently unfurls Among colossal ruins on this shore, That once was purled by Xantoos’ rolling seas; Nothing remains upon this barren core Of Mars, but your palatial memories.
Your altars and magnificent black gods Still flash beneath the sapphire torches’ flames, The fragrant ring of sacred flowers nods Beneath the monstrous idols’ gilded frames. Your jeweled gates swing open on their bands Of gold; within, a lurid shadow stands.
John Carter, Northwest Smith, this Sea that once was (now dry), abandoned city, vocabulary practice, retelling without having read, mixing and remixing, when you put Burroughs out into the world…, more sharp, more poisonous, it sticks with you, Blake inspired, the syntax, part of the fun, reading deeply, what haunts authors, the sea is an image in Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, C.L. Moore is more commercially minded, Robert E. Howard was willing to write for anybody, Henry Kuttner, he’s kinda like Robert E. Howard, first fanmail, ‘she’s hiding her identity behind her initials’, a more common thing to do, a trend that happened, the sexism was not real in Weird Tales, some womens names were hidden by initials, the readership was almost equally female, boys and girls and women and men of all ages, more female poets, 30% female story authors, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Seabury Quinn, Lovecraft’s semi-beef with Farnsworth Wright, No Woman Born by C.L. Moore, gynoid body please, rings of metal, conveying the woman that she used to be, Science Fiction 101 aka Worlds Of Wonder edited by Robert Silverberg, Fondly Fahrenheit, Day Million, No Woman Born, The Monsters, Jack Vance, no time to read for anything except for the podcast, the difference between podcasts and reviews, the firehose is the fifty firehoses, I would love to help, 17th century novels and poetry nobody reads, a lot of dross, gender stereotyping, kind of a doofus as opposed fascist, compilation of trailers, Siren, Odysseus and the Sirens story, a classical trap,
a fundamental misunderstanding people have been having since the mid-19th century, what evolution, a show about mermaids set in 2020, I despair for our species, that’s why we have problems, FreeForm, filmed 10 feet from my mom’s house, Apple TV+ a fourth grade student investigating a murder as an accredited journalist, its not aimed at humans, its like a kitten detective, a serious show, Encyclopedia Brown, Love Is Blind, marriage, they’re all fake, artificial drama, the consequences, why did you bring this white guy home, a TV whore, an intellectually morally bankrupt decision, abuse, Will to to blame, subordinating themselves for infamy, The Running Man by Stephen King, The Prize Of Peril by Robert Sheckley, Das Millionenspiel, traumatized by the indignities, doing your spirit wrong Will, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, facial tattoos, scarification, SoundCloud rapper is a culture, earlobe stretching, lip stretching, group identity by shared pain, everything’s crazy in the shade of The Tree Of Life, were in the Thag bubble, their story is a lot richer, snuggled up or running screaming, the lie of this story, he never really got out that’s why this is the last story, he’s a white man, he’s fine, a semi-desperate criminal, why people fundamentally reject the death of Han Solo, when Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes, remember Spock?, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, give Mirror Universe Spock a shave, killing Kirk, a generational changing of the guard, gone down with the Enterprise, a twitter argument,
@SFFaudio Feb 8 
time to face the truth:
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) looks better and better and better as the years go by
at some point it will be better than VOYAGE HOME (1986) and yes, inevitably, even WRATH OF KHAN (1982)
Star Trek 1 is an art film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969), how you know you’re in a Russian art film, a big idea, everybody agrees, VGER, Milton and Moby Dick and Shakespeare, themes, everything, meanwhile in the darkness Star Trek I is getting better and better, gaining more gravity with time, why they changed the uniforms, its Frankenstein, try the computer down, we can be friends, The Changeling, Voyage Home is so much fun, some lady who’s a cat, Assignment: Earth, “exact change”, too much LDS, while ST1 is a better film, Star Trek IV is more fun, retcon things, Jesse’s ratings of the Superman movies.
Come one, come all! The Carniepunk Midway promises you every thrill and chill a traveling carnival can provide. But fear not! Urban fantasy’s biggest stars are here to guide you through this strange and dangerous world. . . .
RACHEL CAINE’s vampires aren’t child’s play, as a naïve teen discovers when her heart leads her far, far astray in “The Cold Girl.” With “Parlor Tricks,” JENNIFER ESTEP pits Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin, against the Wheel of Death and some dangerously creepy clowns. SEANAN McGUIRE narrates a poignant, ethereal tale of a mysterious carnival that returns to a dangerous town after twenty years in “Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea.” KEVIN HEARNE’s Iron Druid and his wisecracking Irish wolfhound discover in “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” that the impossibly wholesome sounding Kansas Wheat Festival is actually not a healthy place to hang out. With an eerie, unpredictable twist, ROB THURMAN reveals the fate of a psychopath stalking two young carnies in “Painted Love.”
This was a short story collection with urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and carnival themes. On the whole, the book was fairly average. There were some fantastic stories and there were some terrible stories. I’ve reviewed each story individually, below. The narration was mostly done by Candace Thaxton, though Kirby Heyborne narrated a few including “Painted Love” and “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street.” All in all, I found Thaxton’s narration preferable to Heyborne’s, but that might have been because I liked more of the stories she narrated than Heyborne. Heyborne’s narration bordered on creepy, and while it fit the genre/story, it also made me kind of uncomfortable. In honesty, I’m not sure I can recommend this book unless someone is looking for a specific short story from one of the authors. There were a few stories that I read that I’m now interested in the world, but most were either very average or downright terrible. This is also not a book for younger readers–some of the stories are quite graphic, mostly sexually. So if you want the book, be warned that it’s probably not “good family listening.”
“Painted Love” by Rob Thurman. A creepy tale of a carnival manager and his killer tendencies, seen through the eyes of a demon that escaped from Hell. The demon, called “Doodle,” wants to see the world and so latches onto people as he makes his way around, seeing people of all types. Unexpectedly, Doodle finds that he’s awed by the strength of the psychic at the carnival–and steps in when Bart, the manager, tries to kill her and rape her sister. It was an interesting idea, made all the more creepy by the narrator’s voice. Unfortunately, most of the story was character development of the members of the carnival; the actual meat of the story felt like it was fairly rushed.
“The Three Lives of Lydia” by Delilah S. Dawson. I believe this was said to be a story of “Blud,” though I haven’t read any of Dawson’s work to have familiarity with the story or the characters. This was a sad story of a girl who woke up on the outskirts of a carnival in a different world, a world called “Sang.” The girl, Lydia, is a “stranger” in the world, a transient. She falls in (and in love?) with a vampire, and takes a job at the carnival. Unfortunately, she’s also stalked by some of the less-nice members of the carnival, and skates the line between her waking life and the life in her “dream.” While this was a sad story and somewhat predictable, I actually kind of liked it. I think I might want to read more in this world, if it’s more of the carnival “dream” world.
“The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” by Kevin Hearne. A story from the world of The Iron Druid Chronicles, therefore starring the Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, his Irish wolfound, and his student Granwael (spelled wrong I’m sure). This is supposed to take place a few years after the events in Tricked, which I haven’t read yet (I’ve only read the first book in the series, Hounded). This time, Atticus and Granwael decide to go into a “freak show” in a carnival and find something much more sinister than a typical carnival freak show. It results in a battle with some ghouls, as might be expected. Just like Hounded, this story is pretty light but entertaining enough with a good bit of action, if slightly formulaic.
“The Sweeter the Juice” by Mark Henry. A terrible and disgusting story about a transvestite looking for a new street drug to help pay off her debt at a sex change clinic. This story had a lot of unnecessary detail. It was also needlessly disgusting. I regretted eating while listening. If I could give negative stars, this story would get them.
“The Werewife” by Jaye Wells. Be careful what you wish for, even if it’s only in the darkest recesses of your mind. That goes double when you’re at a carnival with a freak show run by someone who can read minds. A story, as you might guess from the title, about a man and his werewolf-wife. The ending in this was almost “happy” and the story didn’t go where I thought it would. It was a welcome relief after the last story.
“The Cold Girl” by Rachel Caine. A short story in the vein of Twilight, down to the emo teenager “in love.” This particular emo teenager’s boyfriend turns out to be a murderer and she looks to be his next victim. She’s warned by a psychic at the carnival, but is also told that there is nothing she can do, and that she will meet The Cold Girl soon. This was utter rubbish. I suppose that if you liked the Twilight series, you might like this, but the truth is, the Twilight series did terrible things for a wonderful genre, the least of which was inflicting further crap like this on unsuspecting readers.
“A Duet with Darkness” by Allison Pang. This story is listed by Goodreads as “book 0.5” in the Abby Sinclair series. I’ve never read the series, but I do like the idea of music and synaesthesia as a tie to the magical world. In this story, Melanie is a violinist tied to a fallen angel, Numo (the description of whom reminds me of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII a bit). She is insanely talented and her pride gets the best of her while at a gig she “duels” (plays violin with/against) someone who is better than her. Her opponent turns out to be the Devil’s violinist. This story was a bit heavy on introduction of characters that didn’t seem to matter much for this story (but probably makes sense for the larger world context). I may have to give this series a go.
“Recession of the Divine” by Hillary Jacques. Can you imprison a goddess? What happens if you try? This story attempts to answer that as Mnemosyne (Goddess of Memory, a Titan) has renounced her Olympian ways and (in this century) is a loss specialist for an insurance company. She ends up at a carnival which has had a string of accidents. She finds that there is much more than meets the eye as one of the carnival members is using other divine techniques to have his way about things–including wooing/luring customers. Realizing what Olivia (Mnemosyne) is, he tries to use her abilities as a part of the show…and that may just be his undoing.
“Parlor tricks” by Jennifer Estep. This is an Elemental Assassin short story, another series I haven’t read but might look into based on this short story. This time, a girl goes missing while at a carnival and “The Spider” and her sister (a police detective) go there to search for her. What they uncover is a fairly typical trope in fantasy, but that doesn’t stop this story from being pretty good. One other thing that I really liked that not many of the stories in this collection have done well is that it only gave us detail we needed. Too many of the other stories in this collection have a lot of detail that is irrelevant to the story. The detail would be needed for a full-length novel or maybe even a novella…but not for the short story. So, in addition to enjoying this story, I have to give Estep credit for the focus in the story.
“Freak House” by Kelly Meding. Another concise story, and another one I was surprised to enjoy. This time, it’s a story of a daughter trying to find her kidnapped father. The twist? Well…how does one exactly kidnap a djinn to start with, and how does one rescue the djinn from whoever was powerful enough to kidnap him in the first place? Shiloh, half-djinn, teams up with a werewolf and a human to do just that…the narration said this was a “Strays” short story, but I can’t find any reference to that series on GR or on Meding’s website. Either way, it was another story, just enough detail without going overboard.
“The Inside Man” by Nicole Peeler. After a few strong stories, I guess I can’t complain too much when this one was not nearly as strong–or as interesting. The concept was interesting: a soul-stealer and those trying to fight against him, to reclaim the souls. The execution, though, was boring. I routinely found myself getting distracted during this story in the Jane True universe.
“A Chance in Hell” by Jackie Kessler. A story that starts and ends with gratuitous sex scenes, this one was also pretty boring. Jezebel used to be a succubus, but she has escaped hell and is living “topside” as a human, getting trained in the ways of being human by her roommates. One of her roommates, Cecilia, wants to go to a carnival, to show her a new view of humanity. What Cecilia doesn’t know, can’t know, is that this carnival is run by a powerful demon. A story in the Hell on Earth series, it was another that was predictably un-entertaining.
“Hell’s Menagerie” by Kelly Gay. At its crux, a story about a girl and her dog with some coming of age thrown in for good measure. This story is from the Charlie Madigan world, though from reading the description of the books in that series, I think it’s just set in the same world, not necessarily with the same character. In this story, Emma travels with her hellhound, Brim, to Charbydon to rescue Brim’s puppies and their mother. They track them to a menagerie and are forced to make the decision to trade Brim for the pups. Now on a mission to rescue Brim, Emma realizes she has some special powers, powers that extend above and beyond her connection with Brim. This story was cute, if predictable. Really, how can anybody not like a story with hellhounds?
“Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea” by Seanan McGuire. I don’t really know what to make of this story. It wasn’t bad…but I’m not sure I “got” it. There didn’t seem to be much real story…it was about a young woman who was part (or entirely) mermaid, visiting with a traveling carnival the city where her mother (also mermaid) was found (and subsequently joined the traveling carnival). There is a lot of discussion of a “possible” problem but the actual action was only in the last 10 minutes or so of the 45-minute story…and even then, it was pretty mundane. I haven’t read any of Seanan McGuire’s (or her alter ego, Mira Grant) works, and I’m not sure that this enticed me to do so. I wonder how similar this story is to others she’s written.
Posted by terpkristin.