The SFFaudio Podcast #565 – READALONG: Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Talked about on today’s show:
and today we’re reading…, John Bloodstone, an old science fiction novel, why wouldn’t I read this book?, public domain, never heard of this guy, Science Stories, February 1954, house names or pseudonyms, tiers of science fiction magazines, armchair fiction, digging into the issue, the cover has nothing to do with the contents of the story, a brilliant 45,000 word novel, a singular spaceship, J. Allen St. John, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, Warlord Of Mars, The Moon Maid, a Burroughsian planetary romance, splash page, the creature, his former lover, a precursor, L. Sprague de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias, against the rules, find each other attractive, tentacles out of eyebrows, an ancient spaceship, the subjugated people have invented gunpowder, backgrounded to Garthanas’ story, what Paul would be thinking about Jesse would be thinking about the worldbuilding, how little this book has been published, it does was it says on the tin, a man off his world (or not our world), the ending, a solar system with two and a half inhabitable planets, Thronas is the fifth world, Carson of Venus, Hamardeen, the math and the names, a panspermia story, dinosaur time, Dalathasheen, Haven, Adamas, a tropical haven, a vast natural garden which they named…, Atlantis,

Their dreams of old we, too, have known,
But we are flesh and they are
stone,
And Yesterday is dust…

just some rando, a weird way to start a story, Tolkien, narrator Tim Harper, preeeety good job, so good, very specific vocab, names of days, all of the logic, names of ranks, layer up this world, as logical and rational as possible, lovely detail, the amphitheater, very vivid, very colourful, a real sense of embodiment, the interests of the author, elf names, etymological construction to the names of things, the measuring system, worldbuilding and making a whole universe (or solar system) for a FIVE HOUR BOOK, and to make the story work as well, the same trick over and over: a secret identity, he’s teaching us, you like Twelfth Night, you like Shakespeare, he’s turning evil, what if I’ve been rooting for a monster this whole time, that’s good writing, the AI of the ship, the metal god, a very early AI, from such an oblique angle, The Great C by Philip K. Dick, he Kirks the computer, I love that idea, the computer doesn’t say, if Kirking is a verb, apparently Gene Roddenberry was a fan, “I’d stand in a line in the rain for one of Stu Byrne’s stories”, back when Paul was young and strong, Thundarr The Barbarian Garth Ennis, one of the many many rip-off’s if Conan, make the show to sell the toys, unpublished Tarzan novel, fan fiction, the Pellucidars, the Barsoom books, male romancesque, lost to time, when the book is THIS interesting, the archaeology of this sort of thing, born in 1911, Jam Packed with Burroughs, more of the same, He-Man, She-Ra, Red Sonja (from the comics), filed-off serial numbers, friendship works differently in Burroughs-world, honor-based friendship, more sex and drinking, more carousing, no animal friend, no Woola, The Green Odyssey, a loving-parody-comedy vs. straight-up, Michael Moorcock, Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, hard to escape the orbit of Burroughs, S.M. Stirling, Tantor Media, The Sky People, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings, he goes wide, characterizing the responses to Burroughs, dinosaurs on Mars, Leigh Brackett, aliens, A World Of Difference by Harry Turtledove, a collapsed empire, the golden ship is a great piece, with that ending he’s cutting off all the sequels, what it turns this book into is a science fiction book of the mainstream type, acceleration, artificial gravity, a force of nature like the tides, the worship of many many gods, how much work he put into this, not a work of slapdashery, Goodreads reviews, the used bookstores podcast, Goodreads is owned by Amazon, many moral hazards in the universe, AbeBooks is owned by Amazon, Byrne is from St. Paul,

It has all the hallmarks of a hastily-written product plus one whose creator has a very specific beginning and endpoint in mind and is working to bridge the two. Byrne occasionally has to paste in the gaps with backstory or offstage events–clearly he was not going to go back and revise–and this leaves the impression that more interesting things are happening to more interesting people while Garthanas is standing around waiting or being talked to.

The story is also strangely unspecific about the context. It’s implied that the oppressed Harmarians are some kind of ethnic minority who are slowly being deported to planet Hamardeen (Mars) because the Thronasians would prefer to be served by the unpredictable and violent nonhuman polar inhabitants, but nobody says this and it is not explained clearly. The half-explanations conspire to baffle and not tantalize with unseen depths.

“Space barbarians” is arrived at uniquely, with a robotic Golden Ship left behind by an earlier civilization. It is a tragedy that this is the only remnant of super-science and one wonders what more Byrne could have added to liven up this story.

The final moments, as it starts to wrap up, do achieve power. Byrne finally has a specific vision with a specific end goal and Garanthas is in place to witness it all and to act appropriately. But the overall impression is less “tale of multigenerational tragedy” than “muddled mess”.

hanging out with a Roman slave who knows how the Roman Empire works, a case of reviewism, a disease that effects many reviewers, space barbarians, a trope, maybe it needed more pondering, a lot of battle scenes, before we talk about the art, action packed, almost the script for Buck Rogers, so many court scenes, sneaking around inside of a space ship, a Star Wars (1977) level of action, kissing, intrigue, how you are when you come to something, a serious problem when they do reviews a lot, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, he’s writing to his own conclusion, award winning is a bad word in Jesse’s mind, The Aquiliad: Aquila In The New World by S.P. Somtow, you need to know what the author is doing, answers to What If, the artist knew truth, the only person better at sculpting than me is my master, a very small pair of worlds, another connection to Star Wars, hello Jupiter, reading into it, he wanted to have philosophy in it without getting into it, a thinker king like King Kull, appreciating the art, about that meditation, a John Carter who is appreciating the martian sculptures, normally that’s us when reading the books, the statue at the end, it’s in that opening song, a future echo, an echo of the past, Battlestar Galactica, page 13, we are flesh and they are stone, playing with, the word “Truth”, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley, Ozymandias by Horace Smith, On A Stupendous Leg Of Granite…, hubris is a great problem, uh huh and yup and we’re going to be the same way, more political, Lovecraftian vs. science fictional, that projection, Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia, the journals and a report about what’s going on in North America, Planet Of The Apes, fast paced, Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road, so many great books that are just hidden away, ratings are a part of the problem of reviewism, star ratings, clouding judgement, it straight jackets you, the pain management chart, hangnail 1, gaping flesh wound from sword stab 8, a standard of one person, the way Luke Burrage justifies his rating system, this is not a classic like a The House On The Borderland, The Time Machine, more worldbuilding than The Green odyssey, Tolkien vs. Narnia, portal fantasy vs. secondary world, six hours well spent, thank you to Tim Harper,

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

The SFFaudio Podcast #498 – READALONG: The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #498 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, Paul Weimer, and Marissa VU talk about The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
novella sorta, Odyssey, thinking back, telling about the books, the interesting things in the books, hard Fantasy, mana, the problems of depletion, the wheel spell, a skull, so fun, the whole spoiler phenomenon, spoiler people get uptight as they age, kids are little scientists, tell me more, they walk on clouds, unicorns were a thing, the explanation, in different cultures, is spoiler sensitivity cultural, the joy of getting there, Snotgirl, Jesse’s worst sin this year, treasuring the experience of discovery, extra jalapenos, “surprise me!”, in the early days of Paul’s life, Not Long Before The End, What Good Is A Glass Dagger?, The Wishing Game, The Burning City, The Burning Tower, same universe, ancient Los Angeles, the political messaging gets really ham-handed, the IRS is bad, later books are co-authored, the ideas vs. the execution, Scott’s view, so smart, preppin’ for a podcast, the magazine version, the art is so good, it felt like trying to extened a really good story premise, the similarities to Ringworld, a big dumb object in the sky (the Moon), we’re going to need a god, before they get to the god, the denouement, poor Wavyhill, immortality, screaming for thirty years, Protector, how idea heavy his stuff is, the little consequences, a cultural legacy, some people still believe in magic, he’s retconned our magic-free universe with a universe full of magic, he sees like other people do, true for all humanity, kinda sexist, the Moon is magic, when we achieve that as a species, worldsnake, amoeba used to be huge monsters, the Grey Ooze, the gelatinous cube, where Gary Gygax got the idea, the goo, vacuoles, translucent, holding the goo, one of the first words we all say as babies, a giant tardigrade, The First Fossil Hunters by Adrienne Mayor, a protoceratops fossil, gryphons, why we dig them up today, page 46, the size of houses, there that’s what I’m talking about, the children of the first god, the Crawling Chaos, fire vs. magic, so much work, good additions, fire is technology, elves are all gone because they are powered by magic and fire, Avengers: Infinity War, mixing in Doctor Strange, created at the point of creation of the universe, The Key To Time, a purpose, characters with different skills, the fire and the magic, a god in the form of Thor, different skill sets, a real issue, a dying earth story, we live in the dead Earth, the setup and the premises, Warlock vs. Wavyhill, a wolfwere, please tell me more, a wolf that’s really a man, magic dead zones, a snail dragon, some hidden stuff, Neuromancer, a ROM, Dixie Flatline, a book about hackers, hackers can do magic, cyberpunk role-playing game scene, the Magic: The Gathering cards, Larry Niven backwards, a Niven disc, the NetRunner collectible card game, very clever, he’s systematized magic where everything is possible, using limited resources, peak oil problem, what a big idea, The Magic May Return, Fred Saberhagen, Poul Anderson, Mildred Downey Broxon, Roger Zelazny, meteor bombardment, this is cute, emphasize the right words, page 8, chapter 2, an Asian infestation of vampires, “gone mythical”, the crater is old, Fistfall, at this point in the book, a mountain, a village, the moon, it’s not two wizards, we’ve got three…, the Three Magi!, what he was going for, that kind of retelling, happening in the background, the kind of book that will reward careful reading, I need to see a wizard, the opening with the raft and the collapse of Atlantis, why Atlantis sunk, I can solve that, tectonically unstable, the payoff, the centaur can’t survive without the magic, the image, climate change, images in the news, too real, Trail Of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, a post apocalyptic landscape where the magic has returned, the sixth world, Lucifer’s Hammer, Fist Of God, Inferno, Dante’s Inferno, the structure, he’s old, Planet Stories, The Dancers by Margaret St. Clair, Blue Hours Suspense audio drama series adaptation, waiting for the dawn, a new Eden, the premise, the belief of the dancers, the last uncontacted tribe was shown the error of their ways, who knows what hold the Moon up?, philosophy of science, uniformity, six weekends on the Moon, explanations for why our explanations don’t work, I’ve solved everything in hard Science Fiction, but you haven’t solved unicorns, Svetz, time travel stories, Moby-Dick, running into fantasy, into a fantastical past, a collection of short stories, Rainbow Mars, a seed from Yggdrasil, A Wolf In My Time Machine, manna in fantasy, manna’s from heaven, Maori culture, as a unit of magic, magic as sustenance, a shout out to Australia and New Zealand, emigrate to Australia, super-yummy, “try the moa, it’s great!”, the aborigines, the Dreamtime, this fits in with my explanation, Master Of The Maze by Avram Davidson, been not from, Maori cultural practices, reciprocal obligations, Jesse explains the potlatch, depleting your production, you have power, an economic cultural mixer, what commerce can do, nobody would be productive if they didn’t have money, the communication of debt, honor, they owe you and you own them, Washington State, banned, spiritual power, gods and spirits, the UBC Museum of Anthropology, that is magical in a certain sense, motivating without money, economics as debt not as currency, a theme in a lot of Niven’s work, solving ideas, 13,000 B.C., geography, Doggerland is still above the waves, exploring the changes, the unstated name is Robert E. Howard, his Hyborian age, Acheron, King Kull was an Atlantean, a philosopher king in a magic heavy universe, Kull The Conqueror (1997) movie is fairly faithful, Kevin Sorbo, The Good Place, funny dialogue, a good sense of humour, the relationship he has with women, typical, the right Niven characters together, Louis, Speaker, and Nessus, damn hard SF, character low, having motivation, the baddie, the worlds first necromancer, is Wayvhill the badguy?, a heist that goes wrong, very Joseph Campbell-y, dealing with the epic, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock, Orolandes said, the skulls, “I wish…”, what was Clubfoot wishing for?, the last great sorcerer, a diminishment and a sadness, wishes don’t come true anymore, now I’m sad, thanks Paul, Antarctica, you wish upon a star, he’s not spelling it all out but he’s pointing to it, that’s the joy, Merlin, he ages backwards, they have these spells, Mirandees hair colour, from black to white, the vampire spell, good stuff, a very nice exercise, throwing Larry Niven into Hell, totally worthwhile, the original short was withdrawn for consideration for a Hugo, fantastic, Marissa is going mythical.

Odyssey, Summer 1976

Boris Vallejo cover for The Magic Goes Away

Skull Of Wavyhill

The Magic Goes Away - Chapter 8

Nevinyrral's Disk from Magic: The Gathering

NetRunner card NevinYrral

DC Comics - Larry Niven - The Magic Goes Away

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #465 – READALONG: Dune (Book I of III) by Frank Herbert

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #465 – Jesse, Paul, Scott, Marissa, Matthew Sanborn Smith, Will, and Bryan talk about Dune: Book I “Dune” by Frank Herbert aka the first third of Dune.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965, serialized in Analog 1963, 1964, 15 years old, start the training early, mentat training, Bene Gesserit training, a trope, the crowning trope of a certain kind of science fiction, we are the universal super-being, fans are slans, it turns you into an asshole, peak podcast, a lot of drugs, the truthsayer drug, #thedrugsofdune, a drug book influenced by a drugee, rachag, coffee, the cranberry coloured stain of the sapho juice, mentats is a drug in the Fallout games, Nefud squatted, semuta, trance drugs, call on Doctor Yeuh, a wakeshot, sleeping drugs, ups and downs, poisons, the gom jabbar, inspiration, mushroom collecting, some science, Joe Rogan’s mushroom guy, psilocybin, pretty obvious, mushroomy, ecological science fiction, the creatures, part plant and part animal, the spice is worm poop, the network of how everything is interconnected, why it is so different from every other book, Philip K. Dick, A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, a technology of the self, a drug of choice, meditation practices, how embodied the training Paul is doing, a very Joe Rogan book, body training, he is Joe Rogan, consciousness expansion, a prophecy laid down for him, a nice book about a mother and son going on a camping trip in the desert, wherever Paul goes, trite and facile, when Paul was 14/15, he has the same name as me, a mentat duke, save it for the next podcast, the first book of the first book of Dune, and baby sister in the womb, up to the point where Paul is crying for his daddy, high on spice beer, Florida, reading while travelling intensifies the reading experience, Tuscon, Idaho, the belly of a sandworm, walking around L.A., wasting water, get the squeezings, water discipline, what makes Dune so amazing, ecological novel, A Game Of Thrones before A Game Of Thrones, read it, read it, read it, an electro-static charged novel, pushing fifty, Dune Messiah, sparse, elegant, The Dune Encyclopedia, thoughtful and oblique, think harder and reflect, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, Arthur C. Clarke, a deep book, preparing for six years, sand dune migration in Oregon, comparative religion, psychology, twenty years, his genetic unconsciousness, a lot of poetry, Gurney Halleck, Dune World, try a Caladanian daughter, dense layer of referential, a second order approximation, a reaction to WWII and WWI, in different directions, Muslim history, resource politics, the ecological movement, decolonization politics, Orientalism by Edward W. Said, Napoleon, Lawrence Of Arabia turned on its head, exploiting the exotic, Misionaria Protectiva, a naked power grab, pretty subtle, intertwining change and stagnation, stress and response, the prison planet, galactic messiah, Arnold J. Toynbee, Chinese Gordon, Karthoum, the Mahdi, distributing information, a small film book of a small sandworm, a propaganda system, three great tutors for his sun, his mom is his yoga instructor, Thufir for math, Gurney for fighting, less internet than it should be, educating Paul, the Anderson/Herbert prequels, mentats are their YouTube, the Harkonen veil, basic facts, the Imperial Ecologist and Planetologist, the spacing guild, an information bottleneck, weather satellites, this information thing, the effect of a messiah on a society, the structure around a messianic leader, reflecting on the casualties of Paul’s jihad, unbelievers all, information transfer, Bene Gesserit fake news, accusing Russia, propaganda, this is a good duke, stories transfer (not YouTube videos), no rocketry, background ecology, door seals, meditation and the Arrakis version of chakras, a sense of pedagogy, a re-imagination of space-opera, Paul and Feyd are both students, formal and informal teachers, are you catching this?, loving relationship, one is the twisted and one is the pure, the policy and the curriculum, training up an aristocracy, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, the medieval space opera, Star Wars, why it works for bad reasons, monoplocies, CHOAM, autocracies, a dream of Jesuits, House Corrino, the terrible crime of stagnation, cybernetics, the great mind, Game Of Thrones type tactics, a thoughtful parody, a retro universe, an intervention in the history of Science Fiction, your magna carta, family atomics, kanly, reading this novel after 1990, reading it in the 1980s, an appendix show?, the banquet scene, such a faithful adaptation of a novel, Dr Yueh’s droopy mustache, it’s not about what you film, the emotional undercurrent above the table, players roles, chess pieces, a microscopic view of the macroscopic greatness of this book, Ted Chiang’s Understand, picking up all these things, Paul gets an insult, Liet Kynes’ ally, this is why Jesse doesn’t like going to dinner parties, the most important scene in the book?, what a lot of novels are afraid to do, head-hopping, what they’re thinking, how they’re plotting, the power of Herbert, an unpaid-off plot thread, the stillsuit’s manufacturer’s daughter, who put her into play?, in light of later events…, George Guidall’s is the best audiobook version, how proof against modern times, “roles for women” and “mansplaining”, strictly defined, maybe we’re being double out-thought, from the eyes of other characters, false information, when Yueh gives himself away, the distraction we see in him, unreliable head-hopper, the narrator makes us like Paul, the epigraphs, you have a traitor amongst you, we know pretty much everything, the tension comes from elsewhere, who the father of Jessica was, the only surprise, so awesome, spoilers are not the important thing, who the hidden murderer is doesn’t matter, not Yueh, inconceivable to break imperial conditioning, B.F. Skinner’s behaviorism, a towering achievement of world-building, a classic suspense story, Ken Schneyer, Princess Irulan is a propagandist, the opening, inside the propaganda machine, Hart To Hart, predestination as storytelling technique, Agamemnon by Aeschylus, two great houses, a knowing walk into doom, a reversal of the hero’s journey, a romance, the seeds of tragedy are being sown, remixes of contemporary and historical events, Gom Jabbar as a pun on Kareem Abdul Jabbar? [or is the jabbar derived directly from the Arabic for coercion or force?], the “Lansdraad”, the Hanseatic League, whipping all these things together, Tolkien, very Shakespearean, the soliloquy, Piter De Vries, watching Dune under the effect of edibles, watch the David Lynch movies first!, Starlog, a fascinating movie and book, The Twilight Zone Magazine, the reader creates the world for themselves, how an ornithopter works, Jodorowsky’s Dune, sparking off your imagination, Eric S. Rabkin’s “transformed language”, dragons, worm = wyrm, the epithets, silky and effeminate, the Harkonnen sexuality vs. the Atredies’ kanly manliness, the Baron’s an awesome villain, appetites, plans within plans, surrounded by weak terrible characters, don’t waste this sexy lady, whoever seduced the Baron in his youth, the greatest villains, Night At The Museum, to enhance the horror of the Harkonens, a love of a certain kind of efficiency and morality, trying to get revenge, the unexpected, “Russian hacking”, the internet research agency, it’s a bot, billionaires know each other, foolish and stupid thinking, seeing the inner workings of people’s minds, subtle body cues and motivational signals, we are trained by Herbert, the “my dead wife excuse”, when did Yueh flip, for murder?, securing his seed for another bloodline?, a text for analyzing reality, James Risen‘s debate with Glenn Greenwald, we’re becoming the Kwisatz Haderach while we’re reading it, priming for skepticism, the weirding way, Bene Gesserit kung fu, the voice is real, “the teacher voice”, the “parent voice”, The Wire, Stilgar spits on the table, the book is sneaky and devilish, a science of pain, living your life in a pain amplifier, similar to LSD and hallucinogens, layers going on underneath, collective unconscious, everything is interconnected, Jungian racial memory, the Reverend Gaius Helen Mohiam, Siân Phillips, you treat her as a common serving wench?, sequel and prequel books, Hellhole by Kevin J. Anderson, Seleucus Secundus, Sardukar, mining ideas, marrying soft and hard science fiction, Dune as a fat fantasy novel, noble houses, sword fights, magical powers, a fantasy book with science fiction discipline, science fiction tools, anthropology, Black Panther, a scientific ecology, no sense of the fantastic, The Stars My Destination, cold eyed realpolitik, political science, Michael Moorcock’s Starship Stormtroopers, what makes Mordor evil, when Gurney becomes to old, a moral difference, the evil is real, wanting to have the scenes, the road goes ever on, but what are the healing properties of that tree?, a walking tour of England, the greatest connection to fantasy is with how the Kwisatz Haderach works, a cool insane idea, the Mass Effect games, space magic, “everything’s connected man, I can travel to the stars!”, “I can read your mind, man!”, when Paul has a dream of Chani, the waking dream, Muad’dib, drunken Duncan Idaho, Altered Carbon, brain chemistry, advanced mental training to appreciate your dreams, lucid dreaming, pure fantasy, working against the Missionaria Protectiva, never mind about Elijah!, actual nuns took Scott away, the zeitgeist of science fiction in the 1960s, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven’s indestructible hulls, Philip K. Dick, Athena visiting Telemachus, the metaphor for a bowstring being drawn and released, the Butlerian Jihad, human machines and our magic and engineering, focused consciousness, the animal and the human, love and duty, fantasy strips away choice, Frodo, a fantasy of international relations, Tolkien wants to leave the world, those orcs, ultimately killable, tools for dealing with the world, take walks and smoke pipes, a training manual, it’s all coming together, points of realization, “wow, my mind blown!”, the morality and humanity of your parents, Dune World (the Analog serialization), the heroes are wiped out, the trap is sprung, when Gandalf is killed, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, great relief, traipsing through Farmer Maggot’s mushroom fields.

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

Dune World - illustration by John Schoenherr

CAEDMON - Dune Banquet Scene - art by Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #448 – READALONG: The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.”

Ballantine Books - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson (1961) fanzine illustration

comic book adaptation of The Broken Sword

The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson - Italian

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Boris Vallejo illustration of The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Poul Anderson letter to Eldritch Dream Quest (fanzine)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)

Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself

At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.

a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,

Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.

It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.

That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.

poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,

“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #399 – READALONG: The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #399 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

Talked about on today’s show:
1968, Maissa loved it, primed to like it, pastoral themes, little conflict, conversations, lightness, philosophy, Wisconsin, aliens, previous universes, pastoral gonzo, in the hands of another writer, a slow amble chase scene, lots of beer, more steaks for the sabertooth, Jesse’s problem with this book, heavy themes, there’s no buried subtext, a mystery, the book’s over?, this isn’t a novel, geared for subtext, so fluffy, more substantive than candy, swimming through clouds, what is the matter with all of you, sit back and play for a little while, there’s nothing to connect, Waystation has no conflict, the wheelers, the magazine illustrations, comedy figures, the Lovecraftian monsters, R.A. Lafferty, John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, making a challenge, like The Demolished Man, text as a form, spinning my wheels, more is going on in this backstory, time travel, this is like a short Connie Willis novel, a relaxed pace, pub, trolls under the bridge, Clarke’s third law, full of magic, and dragons!, a very heavy word, it’s a metaphor (but it’s not), growing up, no evidence of the dinosaurs, a missing sequel, a big university project, Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, no evidence of Jesus, Diogenes (that guy with the lamp), where the hell is Jesus?, lighter than Robert Sheckley, lighter than Douglas Adams, Ray Bradbury, we’re mid-westerners, the artifact, the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Sentinel by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, a picture of the 2001 monolith from 1952, the Crystal World, are you sure?, the knowledge is lost, suck it up earthling!, going into Tolkien, a couple of banshees, very Simak, the fall of Man and the rise of Dogs, bittersweet, you’ll love it, go down to the river and have a lick, what’s up with Shakespeare?, comedy relief, the neanderthal, nice little paralleled, Alley Oop, wrong headed, just read the stories and watch the plays, a guy exercising his vital powers in a life affording them scope, read the Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s ghost, really?, isn’t that interesting, something completely obvious at the time (now nearly forgotten), L. Sprague de Camp, Poul Anderson, The Ugly Little Boy by Isaac Asimov, Riverworld, that Brendan Fraser movie, unfrozen cave man lawyer, Futurama‘s space chicken, distilling the facts, that’s not what’s going on here, the way that people love this book, unashamedly enjoying it, Maissa’s dog is in The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi, goon show style, bizaaro humour, Sylvester, he just wanted your gold, the opposite of the feeling you get when watching Game Of Thrones, it’s just their pet, arguing with the trolls, the ale, a big bucket of bugs, a beer snob, just the right amount of neglect, we’re gonna analyze the crap out of this thing, beautiful scenes, sad, only two left, when its ridiculous I understand it, the novel that got Kim Stanley Robinson into science fiction, it’s going to be City, the Wisconsin countryside in the fall, a talented writer, a whole genre of pastoral Science Fiction (and only one writer who wrote it), really rural Science Fiction, Los Angeles ruralized, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, southern California, Garrison Keillor, Bradbury is about the suburbs, he’s not about the farms, The Wizard Of Oz is closer to Simak than anything else American, Lovecraft, going full fantasy, we’re forgetting Tolkien, it doesn’t exist, Zenna Henderson, Escape To Witch Mountain, Henderson taught at a Japanese internment camp during WWII, space opera, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Doctor Who, technobabble, SCIENCE!, engineering, Smith is the engineering department on Star Trek, Scotty on steroids, it’s nigh impossible!, William Riker’s transporter accident, the two Kirks, the thoughtful Riker and the asshole Riker, misunderstood, funny fake twitter accounts, Riker Googling, the trolls, a bridge to the other world, bits of symbolism here and there, the wrong kind of tires for the wrong kind of track, so much does and doesn’t happen at the same time, nobody is upset, enjoy the fall colours.

GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
GALAXY, April and June 1968
Frank Kelly Freas illustration of The Goblin Reservation

Posted by Jesse Willis