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

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #183 – The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #183

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Cask Of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

The Cask Of Amontillado was first published in Godey’s Lady’s Book, November 1846.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #327 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #327 – The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (24 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse Willis, Seth Wilson, Jim Moon, and Juan Luis Pérez.

Talked about in this episode:
Title has a hyphen; published in Weird Tales in June 1926, but written for a St. Patrick’s Day event; most critics dismiss the story; most characters are nameless; no Cthulhu mythos; Greek ties to Lovecraft’s The Tree; H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast; thematic similarities to The Rats in the Walls and Hypnos; conflict between the bog goddess and her servants; frogs; moonbeams; Greek Pan pipes, not Celtic pipes; on the story’s un-Irishness; competing models of colonization; Protestant work ethic; Pied Piper of Hamelin; surviving narrator motif similar to Ishmael in Moby Dick; departure from the traditional Lovecraftian narrator; the poetry of Lovecraft’s prose, alliteration, etc.; Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror in Literature; spoiler in Weird Tales art; the joys of reading aloud; Lovecraft’s Dunsanian story The Festival; architecture; Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and the gothic symbolism of bogs, etc.; Lovecraft’s descriptionn of cities in The Mountains of Madness and landscapes in The Dunwich HorrorThe Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and similar impressionism in film; The Quest of Iranon; unreliable narrators à la Edgar Allan Poe, especially The Fall of the House of Usher; laughing; bog draining and the curse of the Tiddy Mun; the city of Bath and the intersection of Roman and Celtic cultures; John Buchan’s The Grove of Ashtaroth; this is actually a happy Lovecraft story!; Robin Hood and the defense of the land; humans destroy megafauna; Lovecraft’s The Hound; American horror trope of the Indian burial ground; the lack of Celtic mythology; will-o’-the-wisps; how does one drain a bog? Ask the Dutch; disappointment in scientific explanation for stories; the ruins and the Gothic tradition.

The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft

The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Providence, Issue 10, The Moon-Bog by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Raulo Cáceres

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

SFFaudio Review

Cover of Steelheart by Brandon SandersonSteelheart
By Brandon Sanderson; Read by Macleod Andrews
Audible Download – 12 Hours 14 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: 2013
Themes: / Dystopia / Apocalypse / Superheroes / Revenge

Brandon Sanderson, best-known for putting the finishing touches on Robert Jordan’s sprawling Wheel of Time series, has also crafted several fantasy epics of his own, including the Mistborn trilogy, Warbreaker, and the ambitious Stormlight Archive saga. Now, with Steelheart, he tries his hand at near-future dystopian fiction for young adults. Begin customary blurb. I don’t normally post the entire synopsis for a novel, but I feel this one encapsulates the themes and tone of the book rather neatly.

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson, comes the first book in a new, action-packed thrill ride of a series – Steelheart. Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed.

And he wants revenge.

How well does Sanderson make the transition from fantasy to science fiction? Unsurprisingly, spectacularly well. This is for several reasons. First, Sanderson is a professional writer par excellence. I may not like everything he writes, but I can’t deny that it’s all of the highest quality. Second, his elaborate, sometimes byzantine magic systems, with their complex rules, exceptions, and counter-exceptions, are more akin to science. To invert Arthur C. Clarke’s axiom, any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology. Likewise, Sanderson’s complex magic systems are distinguishable from the impressive technologies of Steelheart in name only. The novel’s villains, the superhuman Epics, would be at home in many of his worlds. Finally, Sanderson has experience writing for a younger audience, so he knows how to shape a story to the tastes of youth.

But don’t let the YA moniker fool you; Steelheart is a deeply emotional, nuanced, and grown-up book. Only its pared-down vocabulary, simple structure, and quick pacing belie its target audience. The stakes are high. I would compare the book’s overall feel to the last few Harry Potter books. Both feature a rag-tag group of misfits fighting against unimaginable power, impossible odds, and the darkest corners of human nature. Yes, the supervillainous Epics, like most supervillains, are a cipher for the worst human qualities: arroagance, anger, deception, and hate.Any young reader who thoughtfully finishes this book will be forced to confront very grown-up questions of right and wrong, friendship, loyalty, faith, and revenge. These themes might be more boldly drawn than they would be in a work for adults, but they’re not so boldly drawn as to stray into the dangerous realm of caricature or didactic.

I have only one minor but frequently recurring complaint about Steelheart. As a disciple of Robert Jordan, Sanderson likes to use elements from the world as curses and expletives. So, the characters are frequently heard to exclaim “Calamity!” after the red comet hovering in the sky. “Sparks!” is another oft-repeated expletive. In my view, Battlestar Galactica‘s “frak” is the only expletive to pull the effect off convincingly. In Sanderson’s works, as in Jordan’s, the device feels contrived, and jolts me right out of the narrative. The only thing that makes this offense remotely excusable is that the book is intended for the innocent eyes and ears of younger readers, but I still think Sanderson could have found a better way.

Macleod Andrews makes Steelheart a joy to listen to. He flows effortlessly from the youthful voice of protagonist David, to the gruff voice of the Prof, leader of the Reckoners, to the booming voice of Steelheart himself. Some audiobook connoisseurs might find his narration a tad melodramatic, but I can imagine younger readers reveling in Anderson’s adrenaline-fueled rendition of the action scenes. He also lends a light air of levity where it’s appropriate, counterbalancing the novel’s dark themes and bleak setting.

Steelheart is the first novel in a projected series, but Brandon Sanderson’s a busy guy with about a dozen anvil-sized irons in the fire at any given point in time. So I don’t know when a sequel will be forthcoming. While Steelheart neatly wraps up the main questions raised in the book’s early chapters, it still leaves plenty of room for exploration. What is Calamity? Was it really responsible for the rise of the Epics? What’s happening elsewhere in this wide, newly-devastated world. I can’t wait to find out.

Posted by Seth Wilson

Review of Carrie by Stephen King

SFFaudio Review

carrieCarrie
By Stephen King; Narrated by Sissy Spacek
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (now only available through Audible.com)
Publication Date: 24 August 2012
[Unabridged] – 7 hours; 20 minutes

Themes: / telekinesis / adolescent bullying / religious fervor / hog slaughter / revenge / horror /

Publisher summary:

An unpopular teenage girl, whose mother is a religious fanatic, is tormented and teased to the breaking point by her more popular schoolmates. She uses her hidden telekinetic powers to inflict a terrifying revenge.

I’ve wanted to read Carrie for a while now.  It’s one of those iconic works that you’re compelled to read, more out of a sense of obligation to the author’s craft than a product of individual literary desire.  I’m not one of those Stephen King aficionados that could play King Trivia and know every answer.  I’ve read some of his books, and most of those have been fantastic.  Some weren’t.  Truthfully, I’d love to sit down and just talk shop with King.  Just to be able to shoot the breeze about writing, the shape of a story, how to switch tense to make something pop, and a load of other stuff that most likely doesn’t blow the hair back for that many folks.

Stephen King has a knack for drawing a character that evokes empathy from the reader.  I can’t say I enjoyed the question and answer portions, the jagged breakaways from the main narrative flow, or the investigation that lies at the far end of this story.  But I love how King slows down a scene, making time stretch beyond normal, beyond the pocketful of seconds, far past the internal clockwork of mind can account for in a passing moment.  I also really appreciated some of King’s choice of language.  And I’m giving King bonus points for quoting Dylan lyrics, thanks Stevie!

I don’t believe it’s a secret that there’s blood in this story.  There’s also murder and violence.  What most surprised me was my reaction to the scene with the pigs.  I won’t go into detail here, but this scene evoked the most emotional reaction for me, and I found this interesting.  I had and felt compassion for Carrie, but the part with the pigs and potato chips stood out like broken glass under a bright moon.

Sissy Spacek as narrator does a solid job.  Her delivery is dependable, and she does not try to act the story.  She does not insert herself as a character in her reading.  I was able to hear a slight amount of audible feedback in this audio rendition, and am disappointed that the sound engineers didn’t clean the tracks up before distribution.  This audiobook is prefaced with a few words from Stephen King.  He gives a little background to how Carrie was saved from the dustbin, and how its publication came just in time.  I for one am a fan of Stephen King speaking about his history and life, and so I enjoyed this little introduction.  I find King’s voice pleasant and easy to listen to.

 Posted by Casey Hampton.

LibriVox: Shadows In The Moonlight by Robert E. Howard

SFFaudio Online Audio

Shadows In The Moonlight by Robert E. Howard

`Shadows

Though Robert E. Howard had originally titled this Conan adventure “Iron Shadows In The Moon” it was actually first published under the title Shadows In The Moonlight. Current publications, and adaptations, tend to favour Howard’s original title. But either way the novelette, featuring a shipload of pirates, a shapely maiden, and a giant ape, makes for some very good reading.

LibriVoxShadows In The Moonlight
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chenevert
4 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: April 17, 2013
First published in Weird Tales, April 1934.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7755

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustrated by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustrated by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Mark Schultz

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Mark Schultz

Iron Shadows In The Moon - illustration by Cary Nord

Posted by Jesse Willis