The SFFaudio Podcast #572 – READALONG: The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #572 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Trish E. Matson talk about The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Talked about on today’s show:
the photographer, serialized in Argosy All-Story Weekly, magazines merge, 1 novel in one month (instead of 4 months), the decline in magazines, comics once a month, a Marvel superheroes, larger story, republication in 1966, Tarzan and Barsoom books, Pennsylvania, he was delighted, not normal for ERB, detective stories, a crime genre, underworld elements, Booth Tarkington stories, The Little Rascals, he was superhot, The Magnificent Ambersons, non-genre, selling Marissa on The Girl From Hollywood, the women in this novel, an impolite epithet, he’s pretty spiffy, The Mucker, starts in Chicago, the South Pacific, New York, cannibal samurai, degenerate cannibals, technically still cannibal samurai, the border between the unreal and the real, set in real places, ERB used to work at Sears, the mail order catalogue, the Horatio Alger myth, disinherits himself, the myth of the American dream, Torrence is fundamentally moral, moving his way up, a criticism, hilarious, wonderful, hubris, shining the boots of some manager who will give him a job, god give me the confidence of a mediocre white man, its basically Yale, graduated last in his class, if you flip it on his end, Ulysses S. Grant, where did Burroughs graduate, a criticism of formal education, the tie back to The Mucker, class stratification, the elites and those living on the edge (criminals), the Lizard, the Jewish family that thinks he works for the FBI, a government agency, selling his clothing, the lizard has stolen them, what happened to his clothes?, burglarized the place, someone else, never resolved, very neat, two different timelines, over the course of a month, written in 10 days, a full on novel, James M. Cain novels, a five hour read, 1919, 1921, structure available to us, Jesse was still tricked, meeting the girl and the girlfriend over and over again, Burroughs tricked Jesse, expectation subverted, little Eva, Elizabeth Compton, James and Elizabeth, the hooker with a heart of gold, when the (Spanish) flu happens to Jimmy, being poisoned by the Bince, the cultural legacy of that, shit, “that’s actually a thing”, pretty sophisticated, expectations, a bad actor, more than you would expect it to be, social commentary, a straight adventure novel, Eva or Edith, he’s got class and you are not for him, I earn my money (unlike you), period details, the IWW, scientific management, the milk truck drivers go on strike, he was a good hosier salesman, he’s extraordinarily athletic, a good person, the most interesting character in the book, The Lizard is fun, too good, Fineheimers, a guy more responsible for pulp fiction in the 20th century, why wouldn’t there be a movie adaptation of this?, they go to the movies, Young Indiana Jones, a waiter at an Italian restaurant, Chicago is the center of the excitement, a pitch about Chicago, the best book Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago And The Great West by William Cronon, The Octopus, Range Romances, sending cows by train to Chicago, even Weird Tales was headquartered in Chicago, the center of the American labour movement, quintessentially American, Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Vacation, Second City (comedy), The Great Migration, Route 66, an ignored aspect, Bronzeville (Chicago), his kid was watching, how young our hero is, such a clean writer, fantastic imagination, no investigation into meaning, Jesse’s thesis, The SFFaudio Podcast, a non-genre book, non-genre is bad, explaining this book, an Edgar Rice Burroughs romance, he’s a dude, Netflix, Virgin River, handsome bar dude, how Burroughs does romance, a male romance, make himself worthy of a girl and his father, the theme underneath, how do we know who we wanna spend a lot of time with (have a kid with), the Hooker with a heart of gold, in hospital for venereal disease?, the daughter of the industrialist, a standup lady, her intended is not (and she doesn’t see it), and that’s a flaw, a relationship by default, an endless series of meet cutes, a Xmas romance movie, collapse Elizabeth and Harriet together, a female romance, making her way in the world today (Cheers), Mary Tyler Moore, Minneapolis, a new life in a new city, a choice of three dudes, a criminal, a rich socialite, and somebody else, slumming for the thrill, not for the Jazz, a unique place, all classes of society, “a social goulash”, excursions into the underworld, the happening place, a club, everything’s happening there, cover, a dude looking into a car, who are these people?, a slouch hat, a flapper, that’s actually The Lizard, like John Carter in fancy clothes, Frank Frazetta, Bince attempt to get Jimmy croaked, embezzlement, gambling criminals, how do you know you can trust a guy with your business (or your empire), if this was a medieval story, what capitalism is, allowing empires to be built up, Crusader Kings II, analogies to be made, what is this about?, why does it resonate with us?, he himself with inherit wealth, business connections, application to a management program, how did you choose this?, sorta standard stuff, not normally the way we think of it, turned into a kind of immigrant, all this time his son’s on trial for murder and almost dies of the flu, not the romantic couple you expect, only in retrospect, if it was a film, slightly out of focus, rack focus, filmic techniques, a skillful enough writer, a whole narrative voice, who’s telling this story?, the context of this boxing match, you gave up an opportunity to show a fight, he’s playing a game with us, the letter from his father, another kick in the pants, arrogant hubris, Martin Eden by Jack London, he wasn’t writing about himself enough?, Burroughs is a hit straight off, Under The Moons Of Mars, very impressed, fun, how do you know what a person’s character is?, when he goes in for job interviews, what experience do you have?, where did you get educated?, if you can program they don’t care that you got a computer science degree, an interview after the test, practical testing, being an employer and being an employee, someone who will help you with your business, he kinda was an efficiency expert, that safe-cracking stuff, it felt like flavour, plot relevant, all Jesse’s predictions didn’t happen, the accountants job, the number of coincidence that happen are unbelievable, the different between what it says on paper vs. your ancestry vs. your actions, lemme listen to your podcast, in a romantic relationship, a person you won’t hate for the rest of your life, blinded by chemicals in your bloodstream that make you insane, character is very hard to assess, Jimmy IS a standup guy, she’s not a good judge of character, the way she treats people, give my chauffeur your name, Harriet says please stick around, subtle details, what a better person Harriet is, a malaise, why people who read novels are more emotionally intelligent, trying to be telepathic is very dangerous to say, a review of the first episode of The Witcher: a luxurious and very long cut-scene, your own visceral reaction, very talented and a very subtle book for eternal questions, Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott, ultimately they’re good people, these are practical capitalism problems (feudalism problems), how pretty are they?, pretty people you don’t want to spend any time with, Michael J. Fox in The Secret Of My Success (1987), Bright Lights Big City (1988), editing old movies together, talking about efficiency, the milkman’s strike, intuition and skill, scientific management, the popular version, memorized stuff, breaking up work into distinct components is to dis-empower the knowledge of workers, the management’s brains are under the workman’s cap, the reason a factor works at all, Blue Monday (and Saints Monday), under the manager’s hat, what efficiency was about, disempower workers and unions, “let people go”, the word efficient, how to play chess, out of patent, horrible for the working class, Flowers For Algernon, the principal isn’t the smartest man in a school, he ends up happily ever after the manager of Sears?, a professional boxer, football, or baseball player?, his class, you wanna hang out with Wade Boggs or Yogi Berra?, this amateur aspect of the Olympics, there are no jockeys in the Olympics, its for the elites, its a pastime, other jobs during the off-season, spring training, an efficient job with this book, a very efficent podcast, two podcasts a week (and not wholly incompetent), PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hours (2000+ hours), when they do the PUBG movie…, squeezed into a smaller and smaller era, a survival game where everybody’s a predator, some dystopian TV show, the running Man plot, Battle Royale, popularity over time, trends that you’re out of touch with, nothing can kill League Of Legends, your own participation, here’s an idea whose time has come, Data Is Beautiful.

The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs - illustration by John Rush

The Efficiency Expert - illustration by Frank Frazetta

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #558 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Horror At Martin’s Beach by Sonia Greene and H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #558 – The Horror At Martin’s Beach by Sonia Greene and H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto (for Legamus.eu). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (18 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Marissa VU, Wayne June, and Terrence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
Sonia H. Greene, The Invisible Monster, Weird Tales, prenuptial contract, courtship, the sea is New York, drugged to New York, interesting, Lovecraft components, Lovecraft skeleton, originally titled, a much last apt title, you never find invisible things, Lovecraft’s commonplace book, [entry 51: Enchanted garden where moon casts shadow of object or ghost invisible to the human eye.], The Moon Bog, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, the Moon as a giant egg, “I have never heard an even approximately adequate explanation of the horror at Martin’s Beach.”, the baby, the mother, a single eye, another invisible something, my fancy conjured up still another eye, the eye is the Moon, everybody is assuming its the mom, where does it say it in the story, deep grief, Iron Shadows In The Moon, the father, how do they know its a baby, it had its baby teeth, the layering, small for a cosmic being, demi-cosmic, that new baby smell, not very scientific, the most amazing discrepancies, Captain Orne, if Eric [Rabkin] was here, it rained for forty nights, taxidermied, P.T. Barnum, a mermaid is a seal grafted on to a baby, DC horror comics from the 1970s, I want comics god-damn it, True Ghost Tales, Minnesota, bigfoot displayed in a van, a monkey suit with modifications, “The object was some fifty feet in length, of roughly cylindrical shape, and about ten feet in diameter. It was unmistakably a gilled fish in its major affiliations; but with certain curious modifications, such as rudimentary forelegs and six-toed feet in place of pectoral fins, which prompted the widest speculation.” selling hokum,

The naturalists had shown plainly that it radically differed from the similarly immense fish caught off the Florida coast; that, while it was obviously an inhabitant of almost incredible depths, perhaps thousands of feet, its brain and principal organs indicated a development startlingly vast, and out of all proportion to anything hitherto associated with the fish tribe.

John Lilly‘s communications with dolphins, sons of Poseidon, a species, cyclops kitten, a half-god, his out, his wife wrote that part, the depths of the oceans being unexplored they harbour life-forms that have one eye, bioluminescence, otherworldly, monster ideas from the depths of the sea, symmetry is for weaklings, scientific men are people who work for Orne, fakes, but not this time, revenge mom, The Beast (1996), William Petersen, Beast by Peter Benchley, no mothering instinct, projection by the readers and Sonia Greene, the evil men who stole the baby, Captain Orne as Ulysses, a mythological interpretation, the old one version of Poseidon, we’re bringing the female idea to it, a trope, throughout nature, bear cubs, the daddy bear gives no shits, dads don’t care, human vs. animal, dads do care, almost nothing happens, stylistic preparation, a real life event, a simple horror story, a cosmic dimension, a moralistic dimension, two different readings, Ridley Scott thought Deckard was a replicant, eternal revenge, a purpose so revolting to my brain, revenge isn’t revolting, collateral damage, all humanity was guilty, a species wide revenge, humans all look alike, my fifty foot baby, what humans do, all the wolves are killed for the crime of one wolf, a storm came twice, wrapping up his business, he’s ornery, “get revenge”, its planned all this out, set aside your propensity for disbelief, here she/he/it comes, make the presence known, grieving and scheming, you killed my baby and now you’re throwing shit at me?, an inordinate indication of intelligence, an article by Professor Alton about hypnotic powers not being confined to recognized humanity, there trickled upon my ears the faint and sinister echoes of a laugh, only humans and hyenas, they laugh at anything, a sad laugh, read it with skepticism, what is the horror?, is it the thing?, or was it that people were frozen?, electricity explains it, hacksaw to the hempen line, there is no hempen line, that’s their interpretation, a proposed theory, what if there was never a line to begin with, physically hooking on to people, less about the specific thing in the water, the way the Moon plays on the water, everybody is turned into frogs, the Moon was about a foot above the water, a coin at arms length, from what angle?, phenomenological vs. actual, what’s that over there?, the moon looks gigantic, its about the hypnotism theory, why the people fail to act, that’s the horror, a huge part of the horror, if we read it that way the invisible monster is us, retire to your room, the narrator’s perspective, death march, resigned to fate, so real and creepy, not calling for help, not struggling, looking back over their shoulders in fear, a perfect description of this universe,

And as I gazed out beyond the heads, my fancy conjured up still another eye; a single eye, equally alight, yet with a purpose so revolting to my brain that the vision soon passed. Held in the clutches of an unknown vise, the line of the damned dragged on; their silent screams and unuttered prayers known only to the demons of the black waves and the night-wind.

a cluster of religious stuff, the voice of heaven resounded with the blasphemies of hell, ventriloquism, a cyclopean din, her pallid beams, a whirlpool, the narrator laughing, that interpretation, the hyena is laughing because its sad, even creepier, gallows humour, forelegs, one big eye, a laugh?, angler-fish, glowing eyes, feet on the chest, what it’s all for?, sure you did, bub, they know about the fishy tribes, Martin’s Beach has hills with cabins, veranda, a vacation spot, the rich above, the poorer below, above and below,

It was in the twilight, when grey sea-birds hovered low near the shore and a rising moon began to make a glittering path across the waters. The scene is important to remember, for every impression counts. On the beach were several strollers and a few late bathers; stragglers from the distant cottage colony that rose modestly on a green hill to the north, or from the adjacent cliff-perched Inn whose imposing towers proclaimed its allegiance to wealth and grandeur.

the horror is is the coverup by the hotel, the same dynamic you see in Jaws, the corporate is the horror, Aha, I got the formula now!, community vs. the individual, what the fuck happened, everybody’s involved, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, Professor Anthony Douglas, numerous grunts, his ample middle, a nuclear scientist in Colorado, gold bars on the side of the road, this is the weirdest thing, he’s in his easy chair, an eye the size of the entire sky, any giant sky monsters over Colorado?, Fair Game on SickMyDuck.narod.ru:

Shapes. Two enormous shapes squatting down. Two incredibly huge figures bending over. One was drawing in the net. The other watched, holding something in its hand. A landscape. Dim forms too vast for Douglas to comprehend.

At last, a thought came. What a struggle.

It was worth it, thought the other creature.

Their thoughts roared through him. Powerful thoughts, from immense minds.

I was right. The biggest yet. What a catch!

Must weigh all of twenty-four ragets!

At last!

Suddenly Douglas’s composure left him. A chill of horror flashed through his mind. What were they talking about? What did they mean?

But then he was being dumped from the net. He was falling. Something was coming up at him. A flat, shiny surface. What was it?

Oddly, it looked almost like a frying pan.

it doesn’t make any sense as science fiction, what’s funny is the set-up, how he’s fat, this is the sea’s revenge for fishing, it isn’t specifically about this one animal, the sea doing what we do to it, look at the tuna cans, line and pole tuna, industrialized fishing, still another reading, the Moon in relation to its proximity to the water, the gravitational pull of the Moon, The Other Gods, a lot going on, its not as crappy as it looks, William Shakespeare, as flies to wanton boys as are we to the gods, the line is flypaper, why are they pulling, someone needed rescuing, insidious, human instinct in propensity to rubberneck, cheap houses near the sea, at least some of the people came from the rich area, Weird Talers: Essays On Robert E. Howard And Others by Bobby Derie, a blog post with a letter from Sonia Greene, he was never kissed by any woman, The Private Life Of H.P. Lovecraft, Carol Weld, happily ever after (sort of), its all right there in the setup, a little softer than Lovecraft’s usual, 15 adjectives about how horrible everything is, the rest doesn’t take that statement seriously, its lacking that indifference, there’s definitely some bellows, very humanish, the easy reading is that it’s a revenge tale, my Twitter friend Jason Thompson’s illustrations, a couple on the beach, the moon low in the sky next to the fish monster, there’s some sort of massive connection, a big round thing in the sky that YOU can see, it is an eye, paranoia, ‘And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you’, human history’s relationship without the Moon, telescope, when you look at the moon, you can see mountains, it is another place, another world, comforting and horrifying, how important the universe is as a reality, profits, dancing, cottages, cars, a speck in the sea of black infinity, its hard to understate, the cosmic layer, the moon as a character, the Moon is the mother, opening a path, a way, a lane, calling down to the depths, opening the people to an influence from another reality, the bridge of moonbeams in The White Ship, I am Basil Elton,

I am Basil Elton, keeper of the North Point light that my father and grandfather kept before me. Far from the shore stands the grey lighthouse, above sunken slimy rocks that are seen when the tide is low, but unseen when the tide is high. Past that beacon for a century have swept the majestic barques of the seven seas. In the days of my grandfather there were many; in the days of my father not so many; and now there are so few that I sometimes feel strangely alone, as though I were the last man on our planet. … Very brightly did the moon shine on the night I answered the call, and I walked out over the waters to the White Ship on a bridge of moonbeams. The man who had beckoned now spoke a welcome to me in a soft language I seemed to know well, and the hours were filled with soft songs of the oarsmen as we glided away into a mysterious South, golden with the glow of that full, mellow moon.

the opening, Sonia writing in the mom part, Lovecraft writing the Moon part, layers, cynical thing, clusters of adjectives, satanic and demonic, the more religious cosmology, regular folks, weird letters received, all recapitulated in the Peter Benchley, conferences, inspiring of, A Tropical Horror by William Hope Hodgson, architeuthis, giant squid, the title, self reference, your average bear does’t have a Lovecraftian world-view, the most amazing discrepancies, no common bond, differing reports, a widely witnessed phenomenon, a tremendous difference, everybody’s unreliable, what the hell did they see?, weirder stuff happens under the Moon, Slavoj Žižek, conceiving and Žižek, Lovecraft was the terrible thing, and vice versa, a problem of habituation, kinda sick, this is going to be better for you, Virginia, he could’ve moved with her, I got all my friends and my (podcasting club), the Kalem Club, unrecorded podcasts, an anthology of just Moon stories, power of the moon, the Moon doing a ton of heavy lifting, imagine that line goes all the way out to the Moon, we can get there its just incredibly hard, gravitons are definitely a real thing, it has phases, without the Moon, what would you even look at, its so important, it looms large (especially when near the horizon), we hide from it in our cities and our houses.

Jason Thompson's (MOCKMAN) illustration of The Horror At Martin's Beach by Sonia Greene and H.P. Lovecraft

Jason Thompson sketch for The Horror At Martin's Beach

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #194 – The Altar by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #194

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Altar by Robert Sheckley

The Altar was first published in Fantastic, July-August 1953.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #191 – The Meanest Man That Ever Lived by Bruno Lessing

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #191

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Meanest Man That Ever Lived by Bruno Lessing

The Meanest Man That Ever Lived was first published in Cosmopolitan, May 1908.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #514 – READALONG: Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #513 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg

Talked about on today’s show:
a serial in Galaxy July and September 1972, 41 years old, out of context, people getting grumpy, autobiographical?, writing himself into his book, unnerving, “problematic”, you wont like anything, very well written, censoring oneself, all internal thoughts, a thoughtful interesting book, an interior book, racial slurs, the fakest parts are the plot points, going around in elevators, how other people perceive him at parties, the Lumumba incident, getting beaten up, ghosting student essays, websites that advertise these services, students required to submit, text comparison, tuning the voice, Columbia University, a cat and mouse game, young and strong, failing powers, a real person, the most clumsy, detecting lies, becoming telepaths, getting vibes, a metaphor for (if not science fiction), curious, casual or romantic or natural experiments, the drug scene, trapped in our own heads, comparing actions with words, complaining about the essay, super-resentful, this is not going to work out well, he’s broke all the time, so dependent on his powers, how to deal with somebody, the whole Kitty storyline, Ted Chiang’s Understand, invisible to the superpower, a cheat or not a cheat, “defend”, a science fiction novel in which the narrator is uninterested in the rules behind it, the author hasn’t revealed the rules to the narrator, he’s AM and she’s FM, undistinguished in everything, she doesn’t put up a defense, paranoid, unlock her telepathic mind, a crepazoid being creepy, annoying, bringing your psychiatry on your wife, Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark, what makes that a fantasy book, a fascinating attraction, would she have read this?, an avid reader in the 1970s, one of Silverberg’s best, as a metaphor, superbpaper.com, need help with your assignment, “we can write any paper on any subject on any deadline”, $29 per page, testimonials, making people have skills, Jesse has a lot of homework to do, Jesse’s not doing this for money, Jesse has the telepathy within narrow range, I’m dignified, he’s barely in the economy, people thinking sentences in their head, “he thinks in French”, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, a shared document, Nixon shows up in a motorcade, if this book is a metaphor, trying to be telepathic with a later audience, Isaac Asimov, Lawrence Block, they communicate their ideas super-clearly, Greg Bear’s ideas, to him it makes sense, writing as telepathy, a writer’s inability to write, the autobiographical elements, things get thin until the 1980s, there’s life inside, the life may return, a massive output from the 1950s through the 1960s, the next novel is Lord Valentine’s Castle (eight year’s later), The Stochastic Man, Shadrach And The Furnace, The Book Of Skulls, like 50 stories in 1956, the same if not more, the magazine industry, Harlan Ellison, Donald Westlake, sleeze novels, writing pornography, that wonderful sequence, hopping from mind to mind, the bee, the girl, the farmer, the full fulmination of his power, why its a tragic story, wunderkind, a pathetic shlub, cheat his way through life, stockbroker, Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields, inside information, insider trading, Dr. Hitner, the radio drama adaptation, read comic books and enjoy myself, when he gets into a fight, telegraphed, a rag-doll to be tossed about, have sex with girls is his major ambition, Paul’s own life, why Jesse has to make such pains to distinguish himself, volatile, a lot of parallels here, supermen aren’t going to be what you think they are, in dialogue with Slan by A.E. van Vogt, “slans are schlubs”, every allusion and reference, poets, painters, playwrights, philosophers, scientists, replete with thinking about books, a very philosophical novel, Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, The Hampdenshire Wonder by J.D. Beresford, semi-autobiographical, Arthur C. Clarke, he lives in our universe, a little bit too recursive, the 2001 BBC radio drama adaptation, rather condensed, he works at a bookshop, translated into an adaptation, if people complain…, Harlan Ellison and Silverberg, how much filler material they could add, the Aeschylus essay, the Franz Kafka essay in full, The Castle and The Trial, padding, fun reading, recycle some material, so fun to do that, a sad and depressing book?, tonally depressing, comparing your own life to Selig’s, The Book Of Skulls, holding back information, a very good writer, a promise to the reader, when is he composing this narrative?, nicely constructed, a blank in his history, distancing himself from himself, cheating, things are a little tight this month, because he’s given something early on in his life, manipulating the moment, if you only have 40 minutes to tell the story, the car section of the bookstore, definitely gay, the musclemen section of the bookstore, a repressed homosexual, the dean, how far you’ve fallen, this guy’s pathetic, reading about rocketships and robots, that actually hits home, he’s doing bad work for money, prostitution, his nephew, meeting Kitty on the street, so many girlfriends, I didn’t get your number but you weren’t there anyway, many many other uncles, here’s a picture of a bomb blowing somebody up, Judith probably told him to say that, the necessity of the face and the smile is the new truth, he could see beneath that truth, they’re told to smile, seeing below the surface is a grim reality, self-motivated, if you can take that away, they’re delighted to meet you, “I feel your pain.”, disdain for politicians, a very nice character piece on why it might not be so great to be telepathic, almost like growing up and not being a liar, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, Robert A. Heinlein, “Selig’s Complaint”, Silverberg could exist without Heinlein, parallel tracks (not tracts), Judith Beheading Holofernes, parallels with Judith of the bible, a nice jewish girl’s name, Zelig (1983), first observed at a part by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the secret history of reality, Selig’s death would mean almost nothing, an incredibly underwhelming superpower, the new wave, Alfred Bester, diddly shit, the jive-speak voice, keeps failing, Jesse wrote a lot of reviews, if its just a book, if its just a book then the temptation is to shit on it, baggage of your own, the demand for reviews, writing is a superpower you can waste by using a metaphor too much, sick of the treadmill, SFSignal doesn’t blog anymore (except on Twitter), gone to be a farmer, a different and happier place, the books doesn’t stop, new or underappreciated, still a good book, slightly less stuck in its time, the black dialogue is slightly different now, a historical piece, the power of the book is still with it, having lived through things and done things, “had I read it way back when”, a book for middle aged science fiction readers, they’ll feel it, hey kids you’re going to love Dying Inside!, when you’re young you read books differently, the depth of Selig’s plight, outright sexism, a pathetic character, once you’re inside somebody’s head you pretty much have to forgive them for everything, the crisis crisis, Airplane! (1980), I speak jive, subtitles, the sentences make sense, Diff’rent Strokes, cultures with different languages and vocabularies, well worth it.

Dying Inside from Galaxy, July 1972

Dying Inside from Galaxy, September 1972

Caedmon Robert Silverberg's Dying Inside (1979)

Frank Kelly Freas illustration of Dying Inside

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #513 – READALONG: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #513 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Evan Lampe talk about Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown.

Talked about on today’s show:
1798, Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale, first novel, the first author who got paid for a living in the United States, a weird first big novel, a weird country, a founding document is a strange book, Bryan’s thesis, connectivity issues, Bryan’s dissertation, Edgar Huntly, the doppleganger as a motif, the romantic era, British poems, not allowed to include Americans, teaching, the gimmick is sleepwalking, murder, Indian war, Skywalk: The Man Unknown To Himself, talking to Americans, in and out of fashion or focus, prefering the manly nature stuff, freakishly bizarre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature, James Fennimore Cooper, The Last Of The Mohicans, American muscular exceptionalism, written for women, a female protagonist, a horror story, violence against women, murder, Natty Bumppo, waking up in a cave, like Rambo, violent novels, religious violence, nature, nature worship, nature is terrifying, incinerator by divine pyrotechnics, American Writers: 100 Pages At A Time, dense, super-high level vocab, distancing from the events, the whole back half, a very strange recommendation,

Of Mrs. Radcliffe’s countless imitators, the American novelist Charles Brockden Brown stands the closest in spirit and method. Like her, he injured his creations by natural explanations; but also like her, he had an uncanny atmospheric power which gives his horrors a frightful vitality as long as they remain unexplained. He differed from her in contemptuously discarding the external Gothic paraphernalia and properties and choosing modern American scenes for his mysteries; but this repudiation did not extend to the Gothic spirit and type of incident. Brown’s novels involve some memorably frightful scenes, and excel even Mrs. Radcliffe’s in describing the operations of the perturbed mind. Edgar Huntly starts with a sleep-walker digging a grave, but is later impaired by touches of Godwinian didacticism. Ormond involves a member of a sinister secret brotherhood. That and Arthur Mervyn both describe the plague of yellow fever, which the author had witnessed in Philadelphia and New York. But Brown’s most famous book is Wieland; or, The Transformation (1798), in which a Pennsylvania German, engulfed by a wave of religious fanaticism, hears voices and slays his wife and children as a sacrifice. His sister Clara, who tells the story, narrowly escapes. The scene, laid at the woodland estate of Mittingen on the Schuylkill’s remote reaches, is drawn with extreme vividness; and the terrors of Clara, beset by spectral tones, gathering fears, and the sound of strange footsteps in the lonely house, are all shaped with truly artistic force. In the end a lame ventriloquial explanation is offered, but the atmosphere is genuine while it lasts. Carwin, the malign ventriloquist, is a typical villain of the Manfred or Montoni type.

is the next book about x-ray specs, the Binding of Isaac, based on a true story in upstate New York, your local history, Washington Irving, Anthony Boucher’s They Bite, the cannibalism aspect, religious fanaticism, Carwin is a bit villainous, a thing going on with the maid, a genealogy of religious madness, an unreliable narrator, quite unhinged, a very Lovecraftian theme, inheriting the sins of the father, forbidden knowledge, ancient French protestants, this sounds like Lovecraft, half buried in dust and rubbish, his eyes were not confined, seek and you shall find, connection to madness, looking for her father’s old writings, Carwin in her closet, don’t read the book we’ll interpret it for you, teach the Indians how to be good Christians, his own personal religion, twice a day without fail, craziness and religion, really strange, early American history, the American Revolution, The Peopling Of British North America by Bernard Bailyn, America as a Marchland, a marquis, slavery, new religious movements, cults, no established church, a weak echo, Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, the Albigensians, not having a positive view of religion, religious frenzy: the end, a more traditional religious education, an unhinged freethinking frontier religion, the argument of religious authorities, Augustine, the best thing for humans is a good theocracy, Sunday School, mandatory belief, a Comics Code Authority Stamp, if you don’t like it I won’t write any more, William Godwin’s Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, anarchism, what’s the lesson here besides beware of ventriloquists, she isn’t as naive as she sometimes seems to be, a transformation from the brother into Carwin, a rustic friendly atmosphere, science and astronomy, traumatized by nightmares, a nightmare story, her savior is a rapist, I said I was going to rape you because it seemed best at the time, it feels so gothic, throw your voice to get out of dangerous situations, throw your voice to the garbage can behind your muggers, that’s bullshit, The Secret Of Ventriloquism by John Padgett, written for a Thomas Ligotti fansite, 1943, “Benders”, the Kansas serial killer benders, that father was insane, god was talking to him, so full of coincidence, Clara is not reliable, a sign of mental illness, the case that inspired Wieland, we could almost diagnose, showing up at a neighbor’s house naked, not just genetics but also disease, Guy de Maupassant, Who Knows?, The Horla, burn the house down, the brother is definitely insane, the father has been insane for a long time, voices attributed to a stranger with Spanish characteristics, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, charms for protection against vampires, a castle in an American forest, a temple, mysterious stranger, the father’s death and spontaneous combustion, a state of insensibility, his imperfect account, bearing a lamp, a blow from a heavy club, an imperfect tale, half the truth has been suppressed, how it ends, the divine ruler, the religious vs. the rational explanation, the boyfriend, the uncle, a professional, the voices, the original kills in New York, struck by lightning, both natural and supernatural, a sound up on the temple, a pistol discharged, a blazing light, a very striking image, a cloud impregnated with light, a burning bush, ball lightning, naked and scorched and bruised, clothes removed and reduced to ashes, never explained, so devout god visited him and he saw god’s sideboob, Poe is dealing with Radcliffe 50 years later, what’s going on up front, Mulder and Scully, crucial to the Gothic, Gothic explicae, The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, Scooby-Doo, the final chapter, making sense of real phenomenon, lets find out what it is, H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, the temptation of the Ring of Gyges story, a temptation to intervene, always rationalizing, past tense, for those people who want to know what happened to my family, this is her Stormy Daniels book, an essay in Vanity Fair three years later, no one would really write this that way, written for our benefit this way, putting it in the best light, I was paying her, what else is going on, the children, the maids, an upper class family, playing musics and discussing philosophy, suffering from syphilis, paranoia, hearing voices, a psychotic break, Lovecraft’s dad, a gang of men are raping my wife, went to the hospital, a hushing up, can this be rationalized without modern disease theory and modern psychology, In Cold Blood, so familiar, Gary Cole, Fatal Vision, a gang of hippies, Charles Manson, threat of the week, a narcissistic sociopath, Pleyel’s experience, “drifter”, he’s the Rasputin of this mess, lets have a secret meeting, no you idiot, don’t do it!, maybe I should, he’s hiding in your closet, let’s split up, a horror movie trope, drawn to the flame, the implications towards incest, transformed into a Spaniard, Carwin, this non-Spanish crypto-Spanish dude, some guy who doesn’t like me in Ireland, the British Gothic tradition, the Catholic South is very sexual, Othello, every Radcliffe novel, a ritual thing to do, a classic geographical imagination, part-time Spanish part-time English, Germans and Scotch-Irish and Jews, an inherited move, what Jeffrey MacDonald told the investigators, high heeled boots, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.”, the American Revolution angle, hostile to hierarchies and institutions, the corruption of old Europe, Saxony, Chapter 5, the good king, the Prussians, the horrors of war, which eventually happens, Thomas Paine, views on marriage, gender politics, the final scene, no general critique of institutions, a normal life, happiness in France, a Lord in Saxony, The Rats In The Walls, why they moved to the U.S., the Delapore family was murdered by one member and then praised by the neighborhood, the secret of the family was passed down, his family seat, the whole cycle of horror, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the Canadian who comes into take the Baskerville estate, returning to Europe where the sins were ingrained in the family name, start a religion afresh, principled and thoughtful, rigid thinking, too rational, what could have caused this?, a pair of aunts who married a pair of brothers, hints of incest, she’s expecting her brother there, “that’s weird, man”, emotion and passion vs. rationality, a movement driven in part by the Enlightenment, violent, slavery, siding with reason, mental illness, the scene of this contest, a duel, a malignant figure, I leave you to moralize on this tale, Robinson Crusoe goes hunting in Spain, a problem with pagination, a double-tongued deceiver, if only they had gone to church, you gotta think this problem through, a Kantian answer, an 18th century chestnut, the human brain is a pretty good machine until the passions wreck the place, frailty, Robespierre and the Goddess of Reason, The Dunwich Horror, Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, who is he talking to, these are your idols, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a horror book, you don’t wanna go that way, one take on America, American Culture 101, the spontaneous combustion, horror movie scenes, don’t do it!, don’t go down in the basement, hewing trees, where you keep the monsters (the basement), most of the horror takes place upstairs, closets, when did basements become popular?, cellar, I lurked through the day, a trap door, a storm cellar, so strange, so weird, so foundational, the opposite of James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Pierre by Herman Melville, all the heads we’re driving over, Melville’s gone nuts, overblown writing for 200 pages, frustration, speaking to something that everybody knew about then, why was Poe obsessing about premature burial?, fake news, preserved like the bones of a dinosaur, historical criticism, a Gothic dream of factionalism, the Civil War, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, disconnected from religion but surrounded by people who are connected, swimming with the church team, freezing rain, Quaker meetings, another set of friends, the Philosophical Society, equal in extent, very much of the enlightenment, a biloquist, all the voices were Mel Blanc, digging graves in your sleep, astral projection, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, the biggest hoaxer of them all, Channel Zero, creepy pasta, Candle Cove, the tooth monster, about grief, a mobile haunted house, almost perfect, uncanny, a rundown Rustbelt city, modern folklore, a local legend, ventriloquism, that’s so weird, sleepwalking, Rutger Hauer and very meaty, infecting my dreams.

Posted by Jesse Willis