The SFFaudio Podcast #523 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #523 – The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft; read by D.E. Wittkower. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (32 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Evan Lampe.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Vagrant, March 1922, June 1917, Weird Tales, 1926, his first adult story, so polished, Jesse’s favourite Lovecraft story, personality, Jervas Hyde or Jervas Dudley, how you interpret the events of the story, I want to be somewhere else, Polaris, WWI, a civil war among the Teutonic races, complex loyalties, bacchanalians, beautiful not horrific, Gaudeamus, lyrics for an Ale Storm, out of character, out of place, the one flaw in the story, that’s the point, possessed, genetic connection, lucky for me, dreamed all day, are the events all real, humouring him?, a palliative?, Hiram should be black in the film adaptation, an aged and simple minded servitor, who like me loves the churchyard, he insults everybody, an archetype, the male nanny, the absent nanny in The Outsider, everybody is kindly, a kindly espionage, insane boy, insanely lonely boy, the opening, three sentences, this refuge for the demented, a comedy piece, a disclaimer, even funnier, I’m smarter than all of you, a psychologically sensitive few, Supernatural Horror In Literature, he’s right, the premise of The Call Of Cthulhu, this is just truth, there is no sharp distinction between the real and the unreal, flashes of supersight, more bragging, a truth that most people never think about, epistemology, a construction, not looking vs. not seeing, maybe my blue is your red, the wine dark sea, orange, an article about blue, rare in nature, the history of race, Asians as the yellow race, a hoax, George Psalmanazar, Formosa, Taiwan, Grey Owl, he’s a fraud, putting on an artificial personality, what resonates, something very real, childhood, everybody gets one, we’re always looking back, that whole experience, a very autobiographical story, “Jesse Willis: Dreamer and Visionary”, literally true, born into a wealthy family, ancient and little know books, 1711, Boston gentry, a coach-ride away, somewhere in Lovecraft country, his connection to Poe, a reincarnation of Poe, how can this be?, visited Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, the inventor of monomania, The Black Cat

FOR the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.

an open temperament vs. insane psychopath, “pen”, neither expect nor solicit empathy, a penknife, walking on eggshells for this poor broken boy, such a sympathetic character, The Green Dragon Inn, the Hobbits are interested in Earthly pleasures, a sex party across the Brandywine, making so many Tooks, fear of thunderstorms, an interesting detail, an overlay, this is the goth kid, imposing too much of the libertine upon Lovecraft, the horror is losing control, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, The Shadow Out Of Time, a story about adolescence, he can’t admit that, Lovecraft is horrified, a straight up bacchanalia, gay blasphemy tore from my lips, Castro’s confession in The Call Of Cthulhu

Suddenly a peal of thunder, resonant even above the din of the swinish revelry, clave the very roof and laid a hush of fear upon the boisterous company.

if that’s the case…, playful, restrained, echoed early on

I do not think that what I read in these books or saw in these fields and groves was exactly what other boys read and saw there; but of this I must say little, since detailed speech would but confirm those cruel slanders upon my intellect which I sometimes overhear from the whispers of the stealthy attendants around me. It is sufficient for me to relate events without analyzing causes.

other stuff going on in the hollow

I have said that I dwelt apart from the visible world, but I have not said that I dwelt alone. This no human creature may do; for lacking the fellowship of the living, he inevitably draws upon the companionship of things that are not, or are no longer, living.

the trees, the rocks, and the graves, a walk with one of his aunts, a man out of time (born two centuries too late)

Close by my home there lies a singular wooded hollow, in whose twilight deeps I spent most of my time; reading, thinking, and dreaming. Down its moss-covered slopes my first steps of infancy were taken, and around its grotesquely gnarled oak trees my first fancies of boyhood were woven. Well did I come to know the presiding dryads of those trees, and often have I watched their wild dances in the struggling beams of a waning moon—but of these things I must not now speak.

as a toddler, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, dryads and nymphs, fancies, he makes of them friends, another way to tell this story, from the Private Eye’s POV, is the P.I. lying?, What?!, he doesn’t actually ever go in there, the key is a dream key, a Dreamlands story, he never actually goes into that tomb, astral projection, he’s a dreamer, in the woods and the books, a bolt of lightning, by what miracle?, what colour is this dress?, a supernatural agency, a malevolent force

“Sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.”
—Virgil.

from The Aeneid, “give a dead man a place to rest in”, unquiet dead, he’s a ghost, very sensitive, he’s going to get what he wants in the end, kind of beautiful, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, the Halloweening season, suspicion of festivals and gathering, Halloween is the return of the spirits, placate the spirits, basket of emptiness, when we read Roman history, ancient roman documents, Cicero is just a dude, Marcus Aurelius, Hiram was a buddy of Solomon, a Tomb of Hiram, the Comb or Tomb of Hiram, extreme antiquity, Lovecraft’s awareness, little call-outs, the only book that gets mentioned, textual references, the Arkham Insiders podcast (the German version of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast), Plutarch’s Lives, Frankenstein, a worm eaten translation, a true story, the life of Theseus, tokens of destiny, the time was not yet ripe, the will of fate, he does learn to do this, unlocking things with his dreams, a box in the attic that contains the key, entirely plausible, predicted, he’s 11 years old, so well put together, so much detail, a dozen times, Parallel Lives of the Noble Greek and Romans, aspects, Romulus, listening through a hole, spied upon, the blank slate, ivory tower, a mix, a monster and a well-spoken gentleman, the effect, a self-harm story, wearing the black beret and black nail polish, creepy and good, a great story, latch onto the festivities, understanding Lovecraft’s view of history of the Atlantic and civilization and race, the Georgian playfulness, very very bad,

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

freedom and degeneration and evil, dive into Lovecraft’s letters, quite an adventure, barbarism and the frontiers, long rants, freedom is going to bring us all down, letters to Robert E. Howard, civilization vs. barbarism, talking past each other, the Alexandrian chaos, hybridity, interracial marriage, witches, Maroon communities, pirates, zootsuiters, celebrating freedom, building a wall, 122 of the Weird Tales version, charnel conviviality, I must not describe, the THING happened, you absolutely must read The Loved Dead by H.P. Lovecraft and C.M. Eddy Jr., that’s his bent, the greatest sense of humour,

For a week I tasted to the full the joys of that charnel conviviality which I must not describe, when the thing happened, and I was borne away to this accursed abode of sorrow and monotony.
I should not have ventured out that night; for the taint of thunder was in the clouds, and a hellish phosphorescence rose from the rank swamp at the bottom of the hollow. The call of the dead, too, was different. Instead of the hillside tomb, it was the charred cellar on the crest of the slope whose presiding daemon beckoned to me with unseen fingers. As I emerged from an intervening grove upon the plain before the ruin, I beheld in the misty moonlight a thing I had always vaguely expected. The mansion, gone for a century, once more reared its stately height to the raptured vision; every window ablaze with the splendour of many candles. Up the long drive rolled the coaches of the Boston gentry, whilst on foot came a numerous assemblage of powdered exquisites from the neighbouring mansions.

presiding x2, powder (and ash), faces and wigs, “throng”,

With this throng I mingled, though I knew I belonged with the hosts rather than with the guests. Inside the hall were music, laughter, and wine on every hand. Several faces I recognised; though I should have known them better had they been shrivelled or eaten away by death and decomposition. Amidst a wild and reckless throng I was the wildest and most abandoned. Gay blasphemy poured in torrents from my lips, and in my shocking sallies I heeded no law of God, Man, or Nature.

out of control, the lighting bolt in Frankenstein, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret Murray, druids, cthonic religions, Cultures Of Darkness: Night Travels In The Histories Of Transgression by Bryan D. Palmer, carnival, masquerades, secret societies, cultural night, anti-capitalist, resistance comes out at night, on the side of the state, Livy’s account of the bacchanalians, Augustus’ moral reforms, men have to get married, promiscuous character, more uncleanliness, small government, morally transgressive, some YouTube idiot, it’s always moral decline, not great at economics or politics, sensitive to night, astronomy and night walks, not directly inspired by a dream, dreams are central, ultimately connected, super-creative and imagination connected, full of fancies, is there a victory here? or is it a tragedy?, that barred room, not a triumph, We Can Build You by Philip K. Dick, delusion, connection with his ancestors, some philosophy line: being-toward-death, thantophilic

It is midnight. Before dawn they will find me and take me to a black cell where I shall languish interminably, while
insatiable desires gnaw at my vitals and wither up my heart, till at last I become one with the dead that I love.
My seat is the foetid hollow of an aged grave; my desk is the back of a fallen tombstone worn smooth by devastating
centuries; my only light is that of the stars and a thin-edged moon, yet I can see as clearly as though it were mid-day. Around
me on every side, sepulchral sentinels guarding unkempt graves, the tilting, decrepit headstones lie half hidden in masses of
nauseous, rotting vegetation. Above the rest, silhouetted against the livid sky, an august monument lifts its austere, tapering
spire like the spectral chieftain of a lemurian horde. The air is heavy with the noxious odors of fungi and the scent of damp,
mouldy earth, but to me it is the aroma of Elysium. It is still–terrifyingly still–with a silence whose very profundity bespeaks
the solemn and the hideous. Could I choose my habitation it would be in the heart of some such city of putrefying flesh and
crumbling bones; for their nearness sends ecstatic thrills through my soul, causing the stagnant blood to race through my
veins and my torpid heart to pound with delirious joy–for the presence of death is life to me!

incredibly connected to this story, Ashes, very delectable, not a cannibal story, utterly delightful.

Adventure Comics - H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB, Issue 3

Ballantine Books - H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB And Other Tales

H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB legoized by Jesse Willis

H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB (II) legoized by Jesse Willis

H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB adapted for Strange Aeons, issue 2

H.P. Lovecraft's THE TOMB illustration by Mcrassusart

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #473 – READALONG: The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #473 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, Marissa Vu, Bryan Alexander, and Julie Hoverson discuss The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft

Talked about on today’s show:
19 Nocturne dot net or dot org, time-traveling, novella, Astounding Stories, June 1936, stricken strucken, the centerpoint for everything that H.P. Lovecraft writes, cats and poetry, cannibalism?, “The Dreamquest Of Unknown Political Economy”, Trantorians, Isaac Asimov, Olaf Stapledon, immense breadth of time, Doctor Who, Albert Finney?, Jack Finney, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Altered Carbon, the Uber economy, the HPLHS adaptation, economist, psychologist, the Foundation series, Jevons, connecting economic cycles with sunspots, cosmic horrors, the Jevons paradox, a dark insight into human nature, Malthus, eugenics, fascistic socialism, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, traumatized by the wrong things, a utopia story, intellectual pursuits, laying some seeds, we wouldn’t notice anyway, 100% nerds, they’re librarians, puritans, an infinite library, Borgesian in its vastness, the spider people, the beetle people, they left their library behind?, Fahrenheit 451, cloud computing, playing around with time, curiously tenacious cellulose fabric, the things under the trap doors, Mencken’s definition of puritanism, World Of Greyhawk, adamantium stone, the Drow, stemming the tide, held at bay, very allegorical, putting down of the dark desires, strange other stories, The Outsider, seeing his form, the horror of seeing your own body, horror, science fiction, evil?, animals, Dreams Of Yith by Duane W. Rimel and H.P. Lovecraft, the rugose cone minds occupy the previous bodies, entitlement, no malice, where the horror is, a horror that nobody can even imagine, talking teapots and singing cats, from a pre-cartoon era, The White People by Arthur Machen, evil is not wickedness, talking rosebushes, airships and submarines, privileges, intellectual adventures, inward bound, what Nathan Peasley’s doing in the age when ferns ruled the earth, meeting with secret cults, generous freaks, how we would treat animals, curiosity rules, putting our minds in a wolfpack, living like a wolf, committing suicide, exercising your rugose body, Red Dwarf’s Mindswap, an exemplary species or individual?, Beyond The Wall Of Sleep, Julie’s narration, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, juvenile delinquents, Yithian kids, we’re abused herd animals, The Roller-coaster by Alfred Bester, a Westworld-like kill-torture-sex device, dreams and books and architecture, much nicer, being possessed by a library, do they wipe the minds to protect themselves or to stop messing with the timelines?, WWI, a very different sequel, Gothic tale, haunted house, a haunted basement, where you suppress that what you fear and dread, Earth’s entire history is a Gothic story, The Thing On The Doorstep, consciousness transference, The Tomb, The Nameless City, crawling through tunnels, The Beast In The Cave, At The Mountains Of Madness, resonating with the shoggoths, two levels, more exploration, Professor Dyer, when the Doctor goes to Gallifrey, Gallifreyans are Yithians, meddling, Seeds Of Doom, Genesis Of The Daleks, their Mormon mission, a rite of passage, a fascistic library, we don’t know enough about the slug people, Hammers On Bone by Cassandra Khaw, A Song For Quiet, Weird Detective, investigating a crime, Peasley’s rider went looking for cosmic horror info, access, amnesia, the undercooked conspiracy, the long fingered foreigners, special knowledge, Nyarlathotep, the MiGo, the Cult of Hastur, the Cult of The Yellow Sign, The Repairer Of Reputations, suicide booths, family plots, a hint of a story, family drama buried deep, what must have happened, this is fascinating, my dad has become this alien sociopath, the wife’s story, the son’s story, all Lovecraft so deeply, he was ugly, visage, he’s got a wife, a surrogate child, obsessed with libraries, how the avatar of Peasley’s occupier, A Year Off, the restriction of funds, Quebec or Florida, Antarctica, New York, the love of the home and the desire to explore, how important dream is, what his dreams mean, what Lovecraft’s stuff is all about, obsessed with his dreams, Donald Trump’s twitter account,

From the moment of my strange waking my wife had regarded me with extreme horror and loathing, vowing that I was some utter alien usurping the body of her husband. In 1910 she obtained a legal divorce, nor would she ever consent to see me even after my return to normality in 1913. These feelings were shared by my elder son and my small daughter, neither of whom I have ever seen since.

Only my second son, Wingate, seemed able to conquer the terror and repulsion which my change aroused. He indeed felt that I was a stranger, but though only eight years old held fast to a faith that my proper self would return. When it did return he sought me out, and the courts gave me his custody.

the kid sought him out, there’s a whole novel in there, we have to race past it, Wingate is essentially Lovecraft, Lovecraft’s dad, the mother’s maiden name, we get rid of the women, they don’t understand us, or they understand to much, women are scary, I.N.J. Culbard’s comics adaptation, what that face looks like, drool, I had the most strange expression, a striking face, traumatizing, high on morphine, what the fuck’s going on, if you’re the wife…, the HPLHS adaptation, Al-ice, vestments, pretty amazing, the ending, almost comical, the polypous invisible horror race, an extended descent into the cellar, twist ending, a thousand Twilight Zone imitators, the weakest part of the story, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, an Inception level twist, we already knew that,

No eye had seen, no hand had touched that book since the advent of man to this planet. And yet, when I flashed my torch upon it in that frightful abyss, I saw that the queerly pigmented letters on the brittle, aeon-browned cellulose pages were not indeed any nameless hieroglyphs of earth’s youth. They were, instead, the letters of our familiar alphabet, spelling out the words of the English language in my own handwriting.

tentacle-writing, a massive letter to his son, a long boat trip, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, abandoning his son, is he going to kill himself?, just fleeing?, everything he imagined actually did happen, the heart of this story, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, reproduction without women, back to the text, self mutilation, giving up everything you’ve been looking for, bad idea, Australia, the biggest spider, am I mistaken in thinking the star headed vegetable carnivores of Antarctica are pretty nice folks?, people is people, racism, discrepancies, how many gay friends, he hates foreigners, anybody he hasn’t met, fear, fear of the unknown, raised so isolated, he is literally The Outsider, a night walk, to clear his mind, seeing people inside having a gay party in a familiar building, he is the horror, a professor of economy who becomes a professor of psychology, a sign of bad character, Darkest Of The Hillside ThicketsThe Shadow Out Of Tim, a marine biologist, made vs. suggested, no Sotho, Nug-soth, we’re going to get magicians back, filed under revisions, a pocket-sized version of Fungi From Yuggoth, high weird, panoramic and picaresque, Ramsey Campbell’s early mythos stories, visions, Campbellian weirdness, surrealism, a giant rolling head, a progression of imagery, the lidded bulbs close heavily once more, somebody’s guarding, the third stanza, a stream of putrefaction, hovering mist, those dead gates, the silver gates of Yith, is Yith the city or the planet, the machines, the secret that would bring the dwellers back, a mirror of what we’re seeing on Earth, another planet, the glowing dome, Lovecraftian key, The Book, at last the key is mine, unseal the lid, they have to do this repression, what does human mean?, eyeless huge and bloated head, striking imagery, Soth = Smith, caged by the great race, whistling horrors, the 9th stanza, carrion eaters, high in the even sky, the beings of Yith, waiting to be eaten, bat winged beings, snouted winged folk, who is doing the dreaming?, is it Peasley?, distilling the lovely imagery of delving, 150 million years ago, the blocky ruins of Interstate State Park, very Yithian, all the gardens, tables and pens and standing desks, their technology, weird mechanical contraption, convex mirrors, the keyboard hasn’t been invented, a clicking conversation, a horror, David Lindsay’s A Voyage To Arcturus, the sense, they possessed many senses, they can’t smell, of the body, more primal, smell seeds and swamps, taste is too close, not intellectual enough, hey all look like they’re wearing dresses, low and body-like, pleasure senses, chocolate, honey makes babies happy, a utopia dystopia based on reading and writing, being able to taste things, mashed potatoes, a secret favourite, he wanted to try everything, no wonder his wife left him, the ideal consumer for British food, a strange story, almost plotless, Neal Stephenson, a mystery at a distance, Jesse was struck, how he found out all his information, he reconstructs the journeys, he goes to all the places, visiting all the libraries, reliving his life, Sweden, he’s done things, two fans, more Lovecraft coming, The Dreams In The Witch-house, Inssmouth, Dunwich, the differnt adaptations, the 1972 Skull Comics adaptation, cute Yithians, the ship’s doctor, action, different ways to do things, Julie’s going to mess people up, told from the women’s point of view, Red Hook, The Music Of Erich Zann, racism, six pages and an eternity, a lot of streetwalking, one of the two Yithian senses.

Graphic Classics - Volume 4 - H.P.Lovecraft: The Shadow Out Of Time adapted by Matt Howarth

The Shadow Out Of Time - adapted by I.N.J. Culbard

HPLHS - Arkham Advertiser, May 16 1908

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

The Shadow From The Abyss by Larry Todd

HPLHS - The Shadow Out Of Time

Представник Великої Раси

COC - Yithian

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #385 – READALONG: The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #385 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Maissa Bessada talk about The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Talked about on today’s show:
1894, 1895, 1970, in the shadow of Holmes, lurking like a post hypnotic suggestion, first reactions, unfolds like a novel but with a short story ending, it’s over?, the thinking of the time, animal magnetism, mesmerism, the society for psychical research, hypnotic sleep for minor surgery, hypnosis in lieu of pharmacological anesthetic, dental hypnosis, yo best believe it will work if you have not other options, The Power Of Dreams by Brian Inglis, maybe we missed a trick, helping people get inside their own heads, reading closely, it made sense, an interesting idea about the ending, Miss Penclosa died at half-past three, a bottle of vitriol, a lucky escape for the girlfriend (Agatha), the parasitism, a vampire story, a psychic vampire story, the “will”, consciousness transference, what was Miss Penclosa’s evil plan?, romantic possession vs. actual possession, the cost of sorcery, had the story continued…, where do you go?, astral projection, that half-hour killed her, the broken journal entry, the crutch, from Trinidad, she’s a witch (past 40), she’s old, a young and vigorous 34, a “hag” and “hag-ridden”, pseudo-scientific power, Wilson, alienism, psychology with a spiritual bent, set in London, Charles Sadler, the punch up, the skeptic, off-page action, breaking into a bank, sitting rooms, a 1950 TV adaptation, a 2015 short film, 1980sor90s feature film, two thumbs down, modern adaptations, not sexist, but rooted in the society of the day it was set, psychology is not a proper science, he turns every firefly into a star, early Doyle, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, super-science fiction, super-horror, a different approach, the story formats, March 24th, a florid start, “everywhere the work of reproduction going forward”, very sex, if Eric S. Rabkin were here…, “stiff with sap”, May 8th, the striking hypnosis scene in The Horla, July 16th, Dr. Parent, English scientists, another skeptic, close to a mystery, physiology vs. psychology, the Work-Man Creator, a presentiment of something new, as if to fascinate – to interest but also to fix to attach, a visiting card, he is twisting his mustache, “that is quite enough”, 5,000 francs, Agatha’s breaking off of the engagement, crazy interesting, similar opening, a lot of shared DNA, more adventure and crime/mystery, a two-fisted man-of-action, May 5th and May 8th, from London to Normandy, going to see such demonstrations, an issue of the age, the history of hypnotism, hypnotized into crime, hypnosis against the will, now that’s a great idea for a story, post-hypnotic suggestion, “regular hypnosis”, lose weight, stop smoking, hypnotic susceptibility vs. hypnotic ability, understanding what hypnosis is, reading a really good story and buying it, this is preposterous!, the willing suspension of disbelief, “dude, we’re appreciating the story”, that word: will, one kind of will that is so powerful, even the state is forced to submit to a certain kind of will, their “will” does not exist beyond their grave, under the right circumstances…, professional wrestling, non-concomitant injuries, the act of reading as an act of self-hypnosis, a skillful author can put voices and images in your head, seeing the book play out in your mind, people with an imagination are better hypnotic subjects, the skill of the hypnotist, Steve Jobs and Jesse’s mom: the reality distortion field, a great book can become a part of you and you can act upon it, Hitler’s speeches, Trump’s hypnotic ability, self-exclusion, the mob-mentality, work-training talks, what planet is he from?, usually there are no pictures in Maissa’s head, a sudden image, “did you see me?”, he projected himself into Maissa’s mind, convincing someone to adopt a vision, religion: “there’s this book!”, L. Ron Hubbard, adopting Sam Gamgee, confabulation, a dream, why are your boots dirty?, making something you’ve read a memory, thinking about what a will is, stage hypnosis, clucking like chickens and barking like dogs, a Las Vegas hypnotist, going along with it, there’s something going on, thinning the line, thoughts become more permeable, a verification, there’s something really deep there, the two theories of what hypnosis is: participating actors (psychological) and the trance (physiological), the thesis: you can’t do anything against your moral nature, robbing banks, splashing acid, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst, Stockholm syndrome, the winnowing process needs to happen, a glass of water, it’s all right – we’re not evil mind-control wizards, given permission to be extroverted…, perception of circumstances, littering, broken windows, a shopkeeper robbed by a hypnotist, an instant trigger, a skill you learn, Jim Moon struggles with chopsticks, Stephen King: talent is a knife, The Manchurian Candidate, the Jason Bourne series, Call Of Duty: Black Ops, “programmed”, The Men Who Stare At Goats, post-hypnotic suggestion as programming, MKUltra, Lee Harvey Oswald, “I’m a patsy”, the motivation all leads back to him, not completely bunk!, The Thing On The Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft, a sub-genre of evil mesmerists, foreign mystics, a racist element?, Miss Penclosa is not of voodoo descent, the Horla comes from Brazil, interesting!

Howard Pyle illustration of The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Howard Pyle illustration of The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Howard Pyle illustration of The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Howard Pyle illustration of The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Horror Audiobook - Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism by Mike Mignola and Christopher GoldenFather Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism
By Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden; Read by Nick Podehl
4 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 2012
Themes: / Horror / Puppets / Possession /

When this audio novella came in for review, it took a few days to make the connection: Mike Mignola is the creator of Hellboy! I’m a fan of the Hellboy movies (directed by Guillermo del Toro), but haven’t picked up any of the comics. If anyone has a recommendation for a particular volume I’d like to give it a go.

Mignola and Christopher Golden, the writing team that produced some Hellboy novels, wrote this. The Amazon description calls it “an illustrated novella”. I haven’t spotted a copy of this at a bookstore, but I’d like to so I can see the art. Mignola, in an interview with Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy gives Christopher Golden full credit for the writing, so I suspect that this audiobook contains little of Mignola’s input.

The story did have a Hellboy (or even a Pan’s Labyrinth) feel to it. Dark, a bit sad, with something spiritually sinister about. It’s about an Italian orphanage in World War II, shortly after the Allies’ victory. Father Gaetano, recently assigned there, and a group of nuns struggle to connect with the grieving children. One of the kids finds puppets and a puppet stage in the basement, and Fr. Gaetano decides to put it to use. The kids become more interested as he, with their help, paints the puppets as Old Testament characters, then performs stories with them.

And then, the problem – the puppets come to life at night, and they take on the persona of the Bible characters they have been decorated to portray. Not knowing this, Father Gaetano plods along with his plans, and he wants to tell the story of Lucifer’s fall.

This wasn’t a bad novella, but it wasn’t stellar either. An interesting idea, and there are some great scenes, but even at novella length it feels a bit padded out. Still, it’s worth a listen, in my opinion. Or a look if you can find the hardcopy. Nick Podehl is a terrific narrator.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Desperation by Stephen King

SFFaudio Review

Desperation by Stephen KingDesperation
By Stephen King; Read by Kathy Bates
8 CDs – 9 hours – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1996)
ISBN: 9780143143895
Themes: / Horror / Possession / Small town / Spirits / God / Writers /

I had high hopes for Stephen King’s Desperation (small band of people held captive in a demon-haunted mining town, breaking loose to battle possessed corpses, scorpions, and wolves—what’s not to like?), but alas, it failed to deliver on its intriguing premise. I’d give it an above average 3 ½ out of 5 stars. It contains some interesting ideas and is worth a read, but is not in the class of King’s best works.

Desperation contains some effective action sequences and the usual dollop of King-ian gross-out horror scenes, though there’s little actual frightening stuff in here. The book walks a hazy middle ground between a straight-up horror story and an examination of the nature of faith and the personage of God, and at least (for me) never really succeeds with either objective.

The basic problem I had with Desperation is that it contains no memorable or even particularly likeable personalities. The closest we get to a main character is John Edward Marinville, a pretty obvious stand-in for King himself (Johnny is a graying popular writer and member of the Baby Boomer generation whose career is starting to flag, and embarks on a cross-country motorcycle trip to attempt to find inspiration for his next novel. Which is apparently identical to how King arrived at the idea for Desperation). But after his introduction Johnny gets placed on the back burner as King juggles a bunch of other introductions, and we don’t learn what makes him tick until the book is nearly through.

I will give King some benefit of the doubt as the Penguin audio book I listened to for this review was abridged, and King’s original text is cruelly slashed. It’s apparent that some character development was left on the Penguin cutting room floor. The audio version is (somewhat) saved by narrator Kathy Bates of Misery fame, who does a fine job as the reader.

The rest of the characters are your standard cast of interchangables, save for David Carver, an 11-year-old boy who is able to communicate directly with God. King was certainly ambitious with Desperation: Like he did with The Stand, King inserts God directly into this book. He also spends some time exploring the nature of God through David’s struggle to reconcile a being that is supposedly all-knowing and all good, but is also cruel and demands borderline unbearable sacrifices of his worshipers here on earth. In the cruelest act of all, King writes, sometimes God lets His broken and suffering people live.

Opposing our band of heroes is the demon Tak, an evil spirit penned up in a 19th century mine—the China Pit—located on the outskirts of the small, secluded town of Desperation, Nevada. Tak is freed when a modern-day mining company accidentally unearths the ancient shaft. There’s an old legend in Desperation that a group of Chinese miners were buried alive in the mine after the shaft caved in, and the white miners outside sealed them in, alive, after deciding a rescue was too risky. In another weakness of the book, it’s not apparent whether the Chinese had stumbled onto Tak, or whether he was summoned by the curses of the dying, vengeful workers trapped inside.

Tak has the ability to inhabit the bodies of his victims, and he uses his hosts to embark on a murderous rampage that wipes out nearly the entire population of Desperation. Last of all Tak takes possession of Collie Entragian, the hulking town sheriff, and using his body and his cruiser rides up and down Highway 50 snaring unwitting hostages one by one.

Entragian/Tak locks his hostages in the Desperation town jail for use as human hosts (demon-possessed bodies wear out rather quickly and gruesomely, we learn). But spurred on by a vision from God, David manages to squirm through the bars of his cell and free the group. The rest of the book follows David as he accepts God’s command to defeat Tak. But first he has to overcome the group’s skepticism of God and his own shaken faith, which is cruelly tested again and again.

The middle of the book is a rather uninspired, drawn-out sequence of the group holed up in Desperation’s movie theatre. The book ends in a final showdown at the China Pit as the survivors attempt to seal the shaft. I wanted to see more of the inside of the mine, which seemed to have lots of potential as a set-piece, but the book ends rather abruptly.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a scene in which Johnny/King shouts out, “God forgive me, I hate critics!” before detonating a cache of explosives. I have to believe that King wrote the scene with a big grin on his face, and I certainly got a laugh out of it, even though I’m likely among the critics for which King has little use.

Posted by Brian Murphy

Review of Toy Trouble by Engle and Barnes

SFFaudio Review

TITLEToy Trouble
By Engle & Barnes; Performed by a full cast
2 CDs – ~2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: 1996
ISBN: 1423308387
Themes: / Horror / Fantasy / Possession / Toys / Young Adult

Some stories inspire great things. This story, being the second “Strange Matter” release I have listened to, has inspired me to write a computer program to generate any future reviews of the series. The reviewer just plugs in the story title, the main character, and the horror de jeur, and voila, out pops a review that starts like this: “Karen Sanders is a likeable little protagonist as the story opens. But even the first scene, in which she ‘loses’ one of her new toys in a tragic head-swapping surgery gone wrong, drags on past enjoyment…” and ends like this: “And so we come to a fiery, bloody conclusion that has left all sense and interesting character development so far behind, we can hardly remember what such noble pursuits feel like…” In between lie paragraphs of brilliant prose riddled with verbal howitzer shells like “pejorative” and “bamboozlement” to make you forget you’re reading something a computer typed.

It’s not that Toy Trouble is any worse than Plant People, it’s that the two are bad in the same ways. The general flow of action, the characters, and the gradual deterioration of the promising story into silly drivel are so frighteningly similar that the pair seem generated from the same generic outline.

I will say that the cast and audio effects people make a valiant attempt to bring Toy Trouble to life, but, like Karen Sanders’ doll, this story never had a chance. After the initial attempt to make our diminutive heroine seem something like an actual girl, the authors are happy to simply toss her around, smacking her against an evil spirit (a ghast, if you care) that possesses toys, her weirdo brother and her woefully underdeveloped friends in a series of increasingly improbable and illogical perils. No amount of voice acting or Foley wizardry can vivify that.

So save your time and money for something worthier of your attention. Like, say, a nice, short Computer-Generated Review®.

Posted by Kurt Dietz