The SFFaudio Podcast #697 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Almuric by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #697 – Almuric by Robert E. Howard; read by Connor Kaye

This unabridged reading of the story (5 hours 28 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, Trish E. Matson, Connor Kaye, and Cora Buhlert

Talked about on today’s show:
probably not by H.P. Lovecraft, by Robert E. Howard and possibly others, poo-pooing, some serious ending issues, the real probic question, sort of made up, Golden Fleece, 1939, Oriental Stories/Magic Carpet, less magic, a historical fiction magazine, Gates Of Empire by Robert E. Howard, 1975, another story set in the Saladin Egyptian Caliphate eras, a crusader King, really enthusiastic, Almaric, a historical figure, characters of similar names, two different Almarics or Almurics, he liked the name, Thok/Thak/Grak, the best Robert E. Howard pastiche ever or he’s making fun of him, muscular scenes, more Howardian, Howard does Howard really well, how much was Howard responsible, the letters, too on point, except the ending, dissertation on howard’s thought presented as a story, these themes, tell a lot more, it tells the thesis pretty exclusively, the issue, a sketch that someone else put together, a first draft?, Patrice Louinet, the manuscript is lost, 1934, Drums of Tombalku, Hour Of The Dragon, Otis Adelbert Kline, suspect infodumps, Daniel Look, Howard Days, stylometry, wordcounter.net, using math, Conan pastiches, specific words, scarlet or citadel, the and of or from and to, classifies Fritz Leiber stories as Fritz Leiber stories, a sword and Planet Guy, Francis Hard, Farnsworth Wright, not wholly complete, multiple drafts, the April 1939 issue of Weird Tales, the ending was taken from the inference about the beginning, the way the story ends is not compatible with the way the story starts, relating the story we are about to receive, The Lighthouse (2019), an unfinished short story by Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Bloch, a whole novel inspired by the short story, too horrible to relate, if you look deep into what they’ve written, why did they write that, brushing their teeth and looking in the mirror, everything is there for a purpose, the finishers of Almuric, looking deep into the story, anathema to a Howard ending, bring civilization to these barbarians, parts of this are definitely suspect and the ending is wholly suspect, seeking to join the society, artificial, not Howardian, the goorahs, Acher, Koth, Cimmeria is from The Odyssey, Afghulis in Afghulistan, Stygia, certain passages, Robert E. Howard had a hand in this, The Garden Of Fear, a tower, winged people, something about elephants, Solomon Kane story Wings In The Night, The Moon Of Skulls, a vampire queen wants to have sex with Solomon Kane, sacrificed at the full moon, Garden Of Evil by Margaret St. Clair, Vale Of Lost Women, a winged guy and a bunch of flower ladies, images that haunt him, so much more like Edgar Rice Burroughs than anything else by Robert E. Howard, The Gods Of Mars, Warlord Of Mars, a self-destruct mechanism, a nuke, a 1939 nuke, elder god type monster, Otis notes, literary manager, ripoffs of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Buccaneers Of Venus, Kline got the cover, Almuric didn’t get the cover, Everill Worrell, A Witch Shall Be Born, The Slithering Shadow, the fingerprints of A Princess Of Mars, the mechanism to get to mars is minimized, how Esau Cairn gets to Almuric is never explained, cliffhangery, every time he gets knocked on the head, two sequences being carried aloft, he even comments on this, my third time in captivity, very very very Howardian, the opening is pretty strong, on the run from corrupt civilization, corruption and civilization are the same thing for Robert E. Howard, Connor’s credulity, that doesn’t seem like something Robert E. Howard would write, a first draft, the repetition of verbs, I caught up a shield, I rushed to finish this story, Howard was not a find and replace guy, scarlet, showing not telling, the writing style, I have only a dim memory, several things happened at once, we gotta find a way to fix this, fist fighting, mundane terrestrial stories, it could have been written by anybody, Steve Costigan it’s not, those infodumps, notes, essays, The Hyborian Essay, that’s his research, Howard doesn’t do infodumps, research notes, now I shall give you a lengthy infodump, the thematic infodumps, this is why civilization os not the proper place for human beings, mastery of the human form and human strength, doing Burroughs, put Otis to work, Farnsworth Wright, good editor bad writer, Paul Ernst, Seabury Quinn, commenting on the stories, this Francis Hard (Farnsworth Wright) guy is terrible, nobody copyright renewed this story, authors tend to make a claim, Wright and Kline both died young, as much or more of Robert E. Howard has come out since his death as during his life, decade after decade, the first major thing after his death, not in the Del Rey editions?, Bobby Derie, Howard Andrew Jones, James Allison stories, Phoenix On The Sword, he’s always dying, an outer narrator, some adventures in a faraway place or a far distant time, dispensing with the idea, in Earth history, Kull is Atlantean, pre-cataclysmic civilization, how to get into it, this is a fantasy book, terms to explain it to ourselves, secondary world, Tolkien, The Hobbit, most attributed to Burroughs, gods and names are pretty much the same, the river Yag, the land of Yog, didn’t finish mapping it all, a lot of Howard’s setup, how did you enjoy it as a book? vs. how it was constructed?, a bit over a hundred pages, the scale, assaulting the city, Robinson Crusoe feel to it, battling with baboons in the wilderness, how much we enjoy it related to how much Howard was in it, Pirates Of Venus, an editorial for Weird Tales, a mission statement for Weird Tales, fantasy, science fiction, and horror, The Weird Tales Story edited by Robert Weinberg, The Dark Man Journal, ape men, sexual dimophism, bub, Howard loved apes!, no ape-women, pulp science fiction, suspect, all of the Conan comics, a way to make you turn pages, you can’t kill the guy, sheer force of numbers, The Scarlet Citadel, Hour Of The Dragon, detective fiction, gassed, hit on the head, most of that’s bad, it makes it suspect, the Howardian content is so high, the pastiche worker, pretty good, The Garden Of Fear is a really good story, a fanzine, recycle scenes, not unwilling to recycle, Almuric Role Playing Game setting, kickstarted style art, races of Almurica, Dogheads, Akki, it’s gotta be, jaegers, hunters, Germans in Texas, a Lebanese shopkeeper in Cross-Plains, pre-chat, how surprised would you be if in 1961 he converts to Islam?, slave-trading is evil, muslim sidekicks, El Borak, he loves swearing by gods, and there’s no god greater than Allah, if only for the aesthetics, Muhammad Ali, some kind of Islamic rally, individualism, protestant, too community based, Allah knows, this big guy in the sky, He exists, swearing to various gods, why Solomon Kane is so attractive, his belief makes him attractive, challenged all the time, my sacred staff, an evil voodoo thing, it’s beyond me, the god of my people, the religious fanatic, the nicest puritan you’ll ever meet, he likes animals, he thinks you’re an evil demon, the Gent From Bear Creek stuff, semi-embedded in a community, out from society, why the novel was abandoned, ends with peace and harmony and a new golden age?, there’s no permanence in dog-brotherhood, ape-brothers, the relationship with the women, Kull has Brule, standing next to Conan is not good, women can survive but we never see them again, a reset button, a comic book sequel Almuric, the Iron Hand Of Almuric, what’s left to say, the golden skinned ladies, copper skin, see the sexual dimorphism there, particular word choices, name choices, Altha, Alpha, a slave girl, Theta, a #LegCling, pulsing, thews, I could feel her heart, her quick pants of fright, what Howard would do, an interesting dynamic, the crudity of the men in her culture, a bit weird, he crushed her to his body, his writing of women improves, his Mexican prostitute sex, she wants to die rather to live out of place in her world, born ahead of her time vs. his being born in the past, a woman with agency, she knows what she doesn’t want, has to get rescued all the time, transitional Howard, Valeria from Red Nails vs. Belit, topless, died of sunburn, some nudity in this book, the Jirel Of Joiry stories, his Dark Agnes stories, Red Sonja, Zenobia, bears comparison, Cairn, The Cairn On The Headland, how dumb are you?, I’m looking for you, that lack of agency, out of character, Howard in a certain sense, Cairn has Howard’s fists but his brains are inadequate to the task, played for comedy, Steve Costigan, very fluffy, what Evan suspects, you’re both a liar and a coward, as all men know, knotty fist, a dozen feet away, moderate corporal correction, it wasn’t the punching, that is NOT Howard, he would never say that, Conan wont defend himself, L. Sprague De Camp had Conan spank his kid, the evil queen is going to spank her maid, women attack other women, Lesbia, Howard had no idea how lesbians worked, was Margaret Brundage bisexual?, not much attention given to men, less than half written by Howard?, the H.P. Lovecraft revisions, stylometry, editorial notes, a copyedit job, what other scholars said, too direct, someone wanted to present Howard’s thesis, too much telling not enough showing, way down on the list of Howard you should spend any time on, a Howard completionist, a pallid substitute, this is not crackin, not actively annoying, inoffensive, a little offensive, the character is endorsing it, beyond the pale, a twitter argument with a shitlib or someone here, Conan being a socialist or a communist, Conan The Socialist by Cora Buhlert, primitive societies, primitive communism, no thing is owned by one person, no one here is allowed to starve, you can’t own stuff in those types of cultures, hunter gatherer, counting coup, a social game that has rules, reputation, The Black Stranger, The Treasure Of Tranicos, famines, storehouses full of grain, I used my sword and my fists, he gives away his prize, the end of every Conan story, losing all the money at the end, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, botom up heroes, even Kull is a usurper, from the working class, a queen who has lived for 600 years, a lady who’s up, bottom up rather than top down, she’s a slaver, certain phrases and scenes, the structure is way less so, more of the framing device, the political boss, it wasn’t relevant, it was though, more like a Jack London story, urban fantasy, samurai cannibal book, The Mucker, The Monster Men, The Efficiency Expert, The Garden Of Fear feels way more substantial, the flowers are symbolic, where’s the symbolism in here?, some furry guys, red peoples and white apes, pure escapism, Howard has an agenda, and axe to grind, he’s passionate about it, I’m going to demonstrate my beliefs to you through story, Hour Of The Dragon is brimming with anger, a metaphor for the rise of fascism in Europe, Benito Mussolini, I will make you hurt, this one is fun, it doesn’t have anything deeper to say, do better, Connor, top tier Howard, Galactic Journey, lost along away, sword and planet, Will has read a lot worse than this, this isn’t dreck, statements of philosophy, the space babe, they create the new society, a planetary romance ending, the violence was a little over the top, a score of wounds, so parodied, Wolverine, recuperative powers, super-tough, “my immense recuperative powers”, crucified, he sleeps it off, he puts his leg in the water to stop the bleeding, a fun story, way better material, the density level, word choices, Howard writes like a poet, Spear And Fang aint beautiful, in his mid-twenties and approaching his 30, a natural writer in his prime wrote some notes, The Wicked Clergyman by H.P. Lovecraft, the worst Lovecraft story there is that he wrote, the comic book adaptations, Epic Illustrated 2-5 issues, Dark Horse sequel, Roy Thomas and Mark Winchell, wont somebody stop Roy Thomas, Ironhand Of Almuric, Gardner F. Fox style, dense prose, Tim Conrad, too much prose, mostly retired, of all the Conan co-authors, those big text boxes, he doesn’t fuck around with the prose, adapted to a Conan story, Arabian adventures, an effect of Conan fever, 1961, Ace, a Frazetta cover, Jack Gaughan, tonnes of very small slim paperbacks from the 1970s, looking in second hand bookstores, pretty obscure for a famous book (of Howard’s), how impactful the stories were, riding the name, why the role playing game exists, fuckin cool, Strange Detective, where he’s getting published, Adventure, volume, Fight Magazine, Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazines, Sam Walser is Robert E. Howard, Spicy magazines, reading the Spicy magazines, embarrassing, hit after hit after hit author, who wouldn’t want this issue?, great reprints, great Virgil Finlay art, Spicy Adventure, Francis X. Gordon, not everything came out in the 70s, El Borak stories, the James Allison stories, The Howard Foundation, no print editions?, save it for the Garden Of Fear, the intro with the dying protagonist, H.P. Lovecraft and Virginia Jackson’s The Crawling Chaos, The Star Rover by Jack London, Howard bookshelf, erotica, working with an existing trope, how we get to the world, modern sword and planet stories?, using a rocketship to get there, astral projection had made irrelevant by V-2s, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater by Thomas De Quincy, unheard of roads, overdose, our outer narrator, let me tell you of the secret of the world, the “Great Secret”, observatory!, telescopist!, no better alternative, telescopy hut, a flight through space, The Crystal Egg by H.G. Wells, the same martians, the inference, how we get from there to here, shot through the telescope, a teleporter, Professor Hildebrand, how he gets the story, what we’re reading, teleportation across time?, driven out of Europe into Africa, the last of the monkey-apes, people with wings, Conan The Barbarian, #9, winged ears, The Tower Of The Elephant, a dumbo captured by a wizard, another yag-yog, a giant spider, missing the giant snake, obsessed with evolution, she read Darwin, the bat-people, cutting off their wings, controlling rivals?, female Kizinti are dumb and pregnant, a podunk town, eugenics was a hot topic, the Howard-Lovecraft letters, decades of eugenics programs, sterilization, Esau Cairn is not a thinker, a naked savage, on the ladder of evolution, parody of Robert E. Howard, silks and steel and stone towers, tell not show, it had his name on it, playing it fast and loose, stuck it together, SCOOP!, Clifford Ball, a would be Conan, The Thief Of Forthe, what you expected Conan to look like, no substitute, this Clifford Ball guy, Henry Kuttner, attitude, Robert E. Howard has a big chip on his shoulder, Kuttner had a different chip on a different shoulder, Z.B. Bishop writes as good as Lovecraft!, disposable popcorn, it has the signs but lacks the heft, AI audiobooks, Seabury Quinn audiobooks, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Agatha Christie with supernatural elements, Murder On The Links, a ripoff of Jewel Of Seven Stars, the alpha and the notetaker, August Derleth, Jules De Grandin and Doctor Trowbridge, occult detectives, the John Thunstone stories, the Netflix section for reality TV, people who liked science fiction, good at marketing, Clark Ashton Smith had no hand in fixing this story, The Maze Of Maâl Dweb, The Flower-Women, C.L. Moore would have been better, the Charlton Comics adaptation, all rip-offs of Tarzan, after the puLps died comics took over, Sheena, Ka-Zar, too much, Conan goes to the Center of the Earth, Tarzan on the Moon, Bran Mak Morn and Kull, Kings Of The Night, Worms Of The Earth, Conan or THE Conan, a guy goes into a cave, Conan was his ancestor, Leigh Brackett, criminal on Venus, Lorelei Of The Red Mists, Ray Bradbury, homage, how much we got out of this, meta-talk, some sort of emotional attitude towards reality, it sparks, sometimes stories are abandoned for a reason, fascinating fragments, how hilarious it would be reading Ray Bradbury doing planetary romance, he does weird things she wouldn’t do, killed in WWII, where the Bradbury begins and the Brackett stops, nostalgic, The Small Assassin, a guy’s afraid of the wind, phonecalls make a guy’s life a living hell, dead undersea soldiers, two episodes in the can, quite a buffer, The Planet Stories Podcast, Connor needs a podcast, The Wind In The Portico by John Buchan, No-Man’s Land by John Buchan, hence listening to David Brin, almost like a podcast on YouTube [CONNOR’S YOUTUBE VIDEO ESSAY PODCAST FEED IS: HERE], keeping to a specific theme, old school podcasts, Mr Jim Moon is doing witches this year, a lot of not Science Fiction, the Horrorbabble guys, Evan’s podcast uses podbean, Evan has 787 podcast episodes out, the American Civil War, 4 continents represented, a Taikonaut, Starlink satellites, clutter up the sky, beloved by cats, mutant cats for our future, psychic cats know when we’re feeling vulnerable, The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, novel after novel, until Jesse dies or Eric dies, to do two podcasts a week, when I’m feeling weak, hoping that something is going to be good, a six month backlog, take a vacation from recording, don’t silence, don’t de-platform, i’m not Whoopi!, Cora was on the Dickheads podcast talking into The Big Jump by Leigh Brackett, the Appendix N Book Club podcast.

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES - illustration by Virgil Finlay

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Almuric by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Why Weird Tales? by Otis Adelbert Kline - from WEIRD TALES, May June July 1924

Almuric - illustration by Ken Kelly

Almuric - illustration by Gaughan

Epic Illustrated - ALMURIC

DARK HORSE - Almuric - Tim Conrad

ACE F-305 - ALMURIC by Robert E. Howard

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The SFFaudio Podcast #611 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Jewels of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #611 – Jewels of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard; read by Phil Chenevert

This unabridged reading of the story (2 hours 5 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons, Trish E. Matson, and Alex.

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, March 1935, The Servants Of Bit Yakin, The Teeth Of Gwahlur, Farnsworth Wright, the giveaway ending, Conan actually says that, a monster vs. some jewels, an awesome story, a really cool political intrigue story, realpolitik, what country wants to invade what country for what resources, Russia to invade Afghanistan, Americans invade, they want the minerals, a police that believes in the bullshit, we’re going in as liberators!, Conan’s attitude, inhuman ape-ghouls, what an idiot, not a lot of swordfights, any actual magic?, the preserved body, a lich, the ghoul men, C.H.U.D.S, Lovecraftian ghouls, very preserved lives, what did Bit-Yakin even wanna do in there?, food delivery, a shitty life, implied backstory, broad strokes, that scroll, undercuts the interpretation of the vast public, he knows his shit, Conan’s grasp of languages, Bit-Yakin is self-obsessed, the only mummy on the entire granite curtain, the geology of it, Star Hunter by Andre Norton, comic book adaptations, climbing the cliff, a little nichey cave, slightly less sheer, a secret entrance, he’s a hill climber, he just happened to find the only mummy on this 20 km, Jesse’s Monkey’s Paw theory, W.W. Jacobs, a free meal, an elaborate show, mangled in a factory accident, a great con from idea, a whole sea-chest full of monkey’s paws, a reality based story, black magic is real, the way you focus the story tells you what the reality is, the Stygian dude, Thutmekri, there’s mummies at the top of every part of the palisade, this is a con-game story, at the end, Muriella, the Punts they have a thing for an ivory goddess too, Conan needs to be given a house full of gold, the Conquistadors, H. Rider Haggard’s She, a con on us as well, they’re all playing the same game, next village over, the Seven Cities Of Gold, what Robert E. Howard has done here, the icky international, a grifter whose name is Conan, the richest man on the planet or hang out with a sexy girl for a while, I can make use of you, that’s all its for, its the getting not the having for Conan, 40 pairs of red silk breeks, the P. Craig Russell, the fur diaper, iconic, you know who you’re looking at, no heirloomed possessions, just Conan and his black mane and his pantherish thews, his sandeled feet, we get it he’s a panther, tigers, big cats, Kull’s the one with the scar on his eye, Solomon Kane has a hat, Will’s first Conan story, how truly bleak a person Conan is, addicted to risk-taking, the only way he could feel, everything in it, westerns, bleak man comes to town stories, fascinated with the hand of H. Rider Haggard in this story, Ayesha done realistic (its a scam), the ending, the exact same scam in the next country over, pre-ice age Hyborian Africa, racial mythology, Zimbabwe, Shemitish archers, they’re just trying to figure things out (they’re completely wrong), John Buchan’s The Grove Of Ashtaroth, beehive huts, the Cromcast, a white kingdom inside of an African nation, a whole cool thesis, trying to prove to H.P. Lovecraft, its always collapse, civilization is a passing fad, collapse is the real thing, always arguing with Lovecraft, The Shadow Out Of Time, At The Mountains Of Madness, ancient civilizations on Earth, the leftovers, the pyramids, Nubia, pyramidal leftovers, their culture wasn’t a culture of pyramids that’s the only thing left, a long time ago they were really into skulls, a guy who knew how to weave things, collapsed civilizations everywhere, at the bottom of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean, the mounds of Moundsville, the Mound Builders, Howard’s not wrong (really), Howard’s obsessed by it, layer upon layer, this great Dungeons & Dragons style module, a great scenario to run characters through, a great VR, a great computer game, The Pygmalion’s Spectacles scenario you’d like to do, scaling forbidding crags, if things had worked out slightly differently…, still a threat, issue 25 of Savage Sword 1977, Conan Saga reprint, a very solid adaptation, expressive faces, camera angles, Conan’s sort of the least interesting figure in it, that splash page showing the wall and the temple, the terrific use of the actual Howard prose, colour to a black and white image, the 2006 P. Craig Russell adaptation, the caldera of a volcano, continent sized caldera, Devil’s Tower, a volcanic plug, could something like this exist?, he made it so awesome, the palace of the king, now its all jungle everywhere, green sward, pleasure pavilions, Zhargeba, take some of the teeth, Dagon and Derketta, Palishtim, layers and layers of strata, servants never even given a name, bound magically perhaps against their will, literally happens in this story, #LegCling, that’s the real thing, her costume is magical, Yaleah, you’re a liar, all the oracles are liars, the same costume, a room of sacred vestments, she’s fine, her clothes rot away, her jeweled breastplate, her silk short skirt, run to the closet, doing some work, an instinct, robots left to run a bit too long, what the priests are doing, an ancient system, reliable information from the oracle, what’s the modern version of that?, should we invade Iraq?, what’s the Oracle think?, only the wooden walls will hold?, a great kingdom will fall, Themistocles, the Persians are coming, we’re know for our ships, yo, some horrible political decision, let’s have a task force, white paper, push it off of the schedule, half measure or wholesale, a delaying tactic, hold a referendum, quit the British Empire, some special day for it, Upper and Lower Canada rebellions, Lord Durham’s report, holy shit you guys are totally corrupt, actual autonomy, democracy, everybody in the family of the governor gets to run things, Conan and Howard are mostly right, an actual politician who believes in the system, what gets you killed, by believing in these gods you’re gonna get scammed, have your mineral resources stolen from you, organized religion, Cimmeria, Crom never shows his face, Crom never answers prayers, its hard to remember, in a rural community there’s a ton of pressure to think about god, its not just me, Queen Of The Black Coast, Belit’s will, a cool takeaway, Howard is intellectually a heavyweight, how little attention the player character pays to the world building, I have all this backstory, he’s a hack and slash character, The Slithering Shadow, Conan’s not a fan of the railroad, return to the backstory, the ape fantasies here, ape people, half-men, Mangani, super-gorillas all over the place, Atlanteans of Opar, an ape-man aspect, Conan doesn’t care about ape-men, sorta apey, The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a Frankenstein-style doctor’s creations, a comic book adaptation, A Man Without A Soul, The Island Of Dr Moreau, pirates, the turn, dude, nobody has a soul, the prose, the opening paragraphs, a much better writer than Burroughs, away and away, the ocean of fronds and leaves, its full of that, Clark Ashton Smith, the color of Conan’s pants, different beats, plenty, that broad lofty hall, a fortune in itself, a series of tweets, every sentence is gorgeous, the part Lovecraft would have loved, the twin arches over the subterranean river, its an Indiana Jones story, the Sankara Stones, The Temple Of Doom, the difference between Indiana Jones and Conan, Conan is Belloc but more competent, she was a Nazi, greed doomed her, a pretty good movie, a steep cliff, a hard climb to save it, there’s a sequel to this, L. Sprague de Camp, The Ivory Goddess, Savage Sword would fill in the gaps, mining little bits, Roy Thomas, much of his career is riding on the coat tails Howard laid down, a Howard Lin Carter joint, the general public, the old used bookstore that doesn’t exist on its own, the dipshit (Fritz Leiber), repetitious and childish a self-vitiating brew of pseudoscience stage illusions, Francis X. Grodon, playing the Great Game better than them, The Hawk Of The Hills, living in a small town, that letter to Farnsworth Wright, burdened down with a bad healthcare system, an only child, his favourite stories were the historical ones, Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser, some random boxing story is good, the Conan that’s presented here, a thoughtful dude, rough and tumble, the fantastic he wrote about is very grounded, The Efficiency Expert by Edgar Rice Burroughs, two guys punched each other a lot, Fantastic, May 1968, Will’s assessment: about as good as what Fritz Leiber would writer but better than something C.L. Moore would write, ranking the Conan stories, the middle, the backstory, The Vale Of Lost Women, parked his horse, this story is in real-time almost, if the lions havent eaten him, what are you crying about now, slim shoulders, a Corinthian accent, a valley girl accent, I immediately regret that decision, a lot of philosophy in Conan, Diogenes, Alexander the Great comes to town, get out of my light, I was just enjoying my mug, 2020 is wrecked, if you have a favourite cup, cynicism, skepticism, if you have a favorite and its broken now its sad, I had a cup and then I saw a boy drinking cupping, a tiny house down by a river, a flatline life, John Waterhouse painting, he’s got his scroll, a pile of onions for lunch, collecting to many motorcycles, a parallax on your own life, light enough to see, the worst Conan stories, Red Nails, a furious effort, exotic maniacs and hop-heads, opium dens, snaking through endless corridors, butcher shop carnage and the like, I don’t like Conan stories, The People Of The Black Circles, “All the obscenity and salacious infamy spawned in the muck of the abysmal pits of Life seemed to drown her in seas of cosmic filth.”, all good things, there’s a great scene, tearing a dude like he’s a chicken, cannibalism, Howard slaughtered a chicken, 1 Shadows, 2 Gwahlur, 3 Vale, a solid story, Beyond The Black River, Tower Of The Elephant, what he does there kinda fails, too much magic, a reskin, suiting it to his magazine, bonus for the cover, LibriVox, The Crushing Hands Of Death, Tiger Cat by David H. Keller, apparently people want whipping, whipping scenes, Frank Frazetta’s surefire way of getting on the cover, a documentary about Frank Frazetta, Painting With Fire, Frazetta paints himself (and his wife), Virgil Finlay and Margaret Brundage, the Dark Horse adaptation, he looked young, some of the architecture is good, the jungle valley, @FrazettaGirls, the series sold 10 million copies, the tan looking priests, shying away from the race angle, in 1977 they were aware of different races, Ayesha’s supposed to be an Arab, she should have black hair, a blonde in the movies, a thing in Hollywood, dark foamy hair, proto-greeks, how you describe a Venus, born of the foam of Zeus’ sex with the sea, Chronos, his step-dad, flashbacks, the court intrigue, more faithful to the flow of the story, the way it starts, Howard is a much better plotter than most people, why he didn’t put these scenes them in the story, that narrative technique, a mystery he wants us to be distracted from, a very good mystery writer technique, you can see it in retrospect, incredibly valuable techniques, Lovecraft read a tonne, Howard’s instinct, Spear And Fang, Argosy and Adventure, Harold Lamb, any LibriVox of Harold Lamb?, ask the experts, what kind of swords did they use in 6th century Uzbekistan?, inter-library loans, Howard Andrew Jones, the PDF Page, The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Virgil Finlay, The Black Diamonds by Clark Ashton Smith, Arabian Knights set in 1650 Baghdad, a boy’s adventure, literal Dungeons & Dragons style playthrough, an abandoned castle, Zoroastrian?, the Temple of the Fire Worshippers, hitting the Haggard hard, a stern lecture about what he’s going to tell him later, pretending to be black, Scheherazade, are they diamonds?, the briefcase with the glowing object in Pulp Fiction, Orientalism, Shanghai and Afghanistan, Mountain Man by Robert E. Howard.

Jewels Of Gwahlur by Robert E. Howard - WEIRD TALES

Savage Sword Of Conan, number 25

Jewels Of Gwahlur - illustration by P. Craig Russell

Two Dominoes - Jewels Of Gwahlur

illustration by Sanjulian (Manuel Perez Clemente) Jewels Of Gwahlur

Oliver Cuthbertson - Map Of Hyboria for JEWELS OF GHWALUR

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The SFFaudio Podcast #584 – JASON THOMPSON

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #584 – Jesse talks with the great Jason Thompson, he of mockman.com

Talked about on today’s show:
you and me and how things go, Joe Rogan, based on guests, Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, Alex Jones, what is up with this guy?, everybody’s got there issues, interviews suck, hard hitting, Jesse’s not here to take Jason down, an excuse to make friends with people on the internet, too prolific a tweeter, wonderful and strange things, man eating plant images, such an old trope, avoid crusty tropes, a story set in Cuba, what keeps Jesse going, what inspires Jesse, what drives Jesse, such a good media, covering all the senses, late to the party for The King Of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, the Dunsany biography by Mark Amory, huge gaps, doesn’t care about Dunsany’s dream stories, family anecdotes, NecronomiCon, a biographer who liked fiction, Pathways To Elfland, together they make one good book, a great cover, Frank Kelly Freas, Tim Kirk, I don’t like your stuff, Jesse didn’t grow up with manga, Jesse’s niece, first of all its backwards, anime, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise, Lovecraft being a racist, anything that exists and is really ongoing, Hong Kong action movies, Akira Kourasawa movies, Gou Tanabe’s Lovecraft, publishers, save money by redrawing the Japanese sound effects, Shonen Jump, this cool thing, cool hipster (save money), seeing your work mirror imaged, seeing the flaws, your face from an unexpected angle, we’re here for digression, a cultural shift within a tiny subculture, The Silver Key by H.P. Lovecraft, the moral, strikingly different people, the title and the library and the castle, a different personality, Celephaïs and The Coronation Of Mr. Thomas Shap, Neil Gaiman’s Lord Shaper, the word crap and crappy, the husk, the shell, gone into the dreamrealm, the cliffs at Trevor Towers, Dunsany did have more than the shallow entertainment value he was successful at, the preface is to help ease people into it, a normal English village just a few miles from the border with Elfland, 1911 issues of The Sketch, facing illustrations, the halfpenny papers, one of the cool dynamics, escape into dreamworld, wealthy people problems, ennui, meaninglessness, so good with names, all the names, so good, name arcs, goofy names, a little bit of a mythos, semi-serious, Episode 12: Miss Cubbidge And The Dragon Of Romance, How Nuth Would Have Practiced His Art Upon The Knolls, Tommy Tonker, the whole gnolls thing, gnomes + trolls, The Man Who Sold Rope To The Gnoles by Margaret St. Clair (Idris Seabright), a Jerusalem artichoke made out of Indian rubber, California, the 2nd half of the 20th century, Philip K. Dick, Clark Ashton Smith, Clark Ashton Smith: The Emperor Of Dreams, Lovecraft: Fear Of The Unknown, working to be edified, arts/literature/education, lifelong learning, be reading all the time, what was going on, Arkham House, Ballantine paperbacks, historical non-fiction, read the shortest stories, stick-figure astronauts, pushing the PDF Page, read it from the original source, we read the stories as they appeared, all of the bonus things, editorial introductions, illustrations, old things are cool, J.R.R. Tolkien -> Conan comics -> Robert E. Howard -> H.P. Lovecraft -> Clark Ashton Smith, Fungi From Yuggoth, gone beyond, 1 year old baby, prose poems, prose pastels, The Nightmare Lake, the most complex rhymes scheme, difficult to understand, a series of images, you’re seeing his dreams, as dense as anything you’ve read in prose, the HPLHS’ Lovecraft’ commonplace book, Jesse’s big into dreams, understanding your own psychology, lucid dreaming, fairy tale dream sense, a faraway magical land, bits and pieces of everyday life, dream reading/watching/RPGing, the best way to determine if you’re in a dream, such a prodigious dreams, my dreams exceed ALL other dreams, there’s books in your dreams, blurry, a foreign language, the first sentence, so obvious, generating that amount of detail and perceiving it, your GPU, fog in an old 3D game [isometric], how to record dreams, patterns, Tetris dreams, picture plants with white grubs on them, get the grubs off, The King In Yellow, Edgar Allan Poe, a trans-woman, Dreamland-like dreams, the name of two streets or the name of the town, Jesse waited five years to talk to Jason, Francis Stevens’ The Citadel Of Fear, The Curious Experience Of Thomas Dunbar, super-science, giant laser guns from the Moon, a Japanese-American scientist, a style and a genre, the very first super-hero story, an irreplicable experience, that mad-scientist, you should be called “Sampson”, 30 years before Batman, Argosy, 1904, Robin Hood, Zorro, Thor, the actual generation of a Daredevil style meta-human, the origin issue, The Elf-Trap, Friend Island, a visionary, correspondence with other writers, somebody appreciates what I’m doing, there’s good things here, female SF authors are not as common, arguing with people on twitter, depending on the genre, the Love pulps are all women, Frank Belknap Long, gothic romance, female authors in Weird Tales, C.L. Moore, A.C. Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, initials are not necessarily hiding gender, Leigh Brackett, Ursula K. Le Guin, more than 50% women writers in SFF, Jeff Vandermeer, Ted Chiang, medieval travel narratives, Sartor Resartus by Thomas Carlyle, a fake book review as a novel, Don Quixote, Dreamquest, Roy Thomas, it eventually becomes wordless, the narrator was too startled to speak, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, the language is the barrier, the spanking scene, Charles Baudelaire, he has sex with a shark, Marquis de Sade style sexuality, how do I deal with the rape scene?, Azathoth as vision of god, Jason is not independently wealthy, Hodgson doesn’t have the name, Les Chants De Maldoror by Comte de Lautréamont, Kickstarter, Lovecraft adjacent, a children’s book comic, YA comics, comics about mid-1800 super-villains, expectations, a bland porridge, reined in, cool stuff that makes kids interested, drawing in the margins, WWII, the best way to educate soldiers, the most economic and best way to teach soldiers to clean their rifles was to draw comics, carefully draw the bold back, why comics are so beloved by children, comics teach words through context, reading manga, what are they saying?, the sound of a scream, favourite writers, what are you not tweeting about, D&D module maps, torture chambers, a 20 year commitment, for those who are listening, ancient travel narratives, Marco Polo, Journey To The West, maps are kind of comic-like, a spatial narrative, there’s a lot you can leave out, the Dreamlands Map, revisions, the geography is not defined, all the capitalized words, Dunsanian easter eggs on the edges, Chaosium, The Field Guide To The Dreamlands, Sidney Sime’s map of Dunsany’s Dreamlands, its set in England (sort of), actual geography, expectations, changed placenames, snatch away the fruit of the fruits of others labour, copying is what we should all be doing, how it got made, no longer the product of a god, the product of a flawed god called Man, you develop your own or stop doing it, Gary Myers’ Dreamlands stories, The House Of The Wyrm, a YA novel, Kij Johnson’s The Dreamquest Of Vellitt Boe, a story of description and travel, the spirit of the story, for time to winnow away that which is unimportant, lots is interesting after 1900s, focusing on the public domain, making a short film out of this story, Henry Treece, The Green Man, a children’s adventure, a prehistorical romance, cave kids, The Viking Trilogy, Viking Dawn, The Road To Miklagaard, Viking Sunset, Asterix, Getafix, how did this translate, Tintin, Lucky Luke, Captain Haddock is an alcoholic, the movie adaptation, true to the original works, Tales Of The Gold Monkey, every 1930s serial trope, Magnum, P.I., a hot aircraft, three jam-packed stories, Canadian public domain, why aren’t people doing more, Vouldir, Sidney Sime museum, Virgil Finlay, scratchboard, why the lines look the way they do, using the same models, why I can’t draw hands, going to art school would probably have helped, practice, practice, practice, the smell of Used Bookstores.

Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborea by Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson's Map Of The Dreamlands

The Dream-Quest Of Unknown Kadath And Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Jason Thompson

Mockman's map of Tomb Of Horrors

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #395 – READALONG: The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #395 – Jesse and Wayne June talk about The Slithering Shadow (aka Xuthal Of The Dusk) by Robert E. Howard

Talked about on today’s show:
Wayne’s first exposure to Robert E. Howard, “repetitious and childish, a self-vitiating brew of pseudo-science”, stage illusions and , repetition, “Oh, Conan!, Robert would have wanted it that way, REH is having some fun with a genre he normally doesn’t play in, Red Nails, Conan is dismissive of the city’s population, degeneration, drug addled drug attics in dopey hazes, lasers, radium light bulbs, manufacturing food from the primal elements, Valeria vs harem slave Natala, devious, controlling, self-interested, a lot of depth behind the shallowness in this story, Conan is really grumpy from page one, gigantic mirth: she’s only human, curmudgeon Conan, poisoning the well, don’t grab my sword arm, slap on the ass, a grumpy sexist, Howard’s doing something really really funny, The Slithering Shadow is a gothic horror, silliness, women written like cartoon characters, not reminding you of your mortality, not about the uselessness of existence, clunky elements, a haunted castle, kicking and screaming, bad casting, trap doors, up to the hilt, sitting on another divan, sooo gothic horror novel, hidden passageways, trapdoors, convoluted coincidence, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Oval Portrait, very recently and hurriedly abandoned, still food on the table, candles that have just been blown out, one spot of blood, The Monk, a giant helmet, a giant dome at the center of the city, one giant palace, all the trappings of a haunted mansion, switching gears, describing Thog, jumping right into H.P. Lovecraft, men of action, biting the Lovecraftian horror, what Cimmerians are like, passive aggressive Conan, in all of Howards writings about Conan, a blood feud, a lack of reproduction, an H.G. Wells trick, why the drug element is so heavy, the golden wine (a healing potion), Howard’s doctor father was very familiar with heroin addiction, Fort McMurray, “morons”, barbarians vs. the civilized, Thalis’ experience, the Fred Van Lente adaptation for Dark Horse Comics, initiated into the cult of Derketa, not my first rodeo, a gang-bang, better to kill Natala, Thalis’ life story is a horror show hidden behind a few words, that’s the cover of Weird Tales, who is this story intended for?, racy, sex, before Natala knifed Thalis, I don’t like getting stabbed, taught to be hard and cruel, Thalis’ chance at revenge, a Stygian Queen, growing up with doped out morons, a gruesome comeuppance, Thog doesn’t just eat you he rapes you first, digested for a thousand years, tentacles, the face of Thog, a non-euclidean face, a 40 year Texas feud, Thog at the center bottom of the city, a big black amorphous mass, Thog is the mad lady in the attic, a stoic attitude towards destiny and fate, from the likes of Thog, Thog is the oil, the cause for the addiction and for the city, unseen until it gushes all over you, fundamentally Howard is not completely wrong about civilization, trigger warnings and sexism, the limitations on what a woman can be in Xuthal (get a real man), moral judgements, his own code of ethics, stealing a slave, Natala’s safety is bound up with his morality, a kind of a rescue, the rebel Prince Almuric, a great river flowing into the desert, dead with forty arrows, canteen full of water, a rich and decadent place, black lotus, cursed, the desert will be kinder, a rebel prince of Stygia, Thalis was like a Natala, she’s the heavy (other than Thog), whip up some anger, Thalis is a Natala without a Conan, this “civilized” society, one of the worst Conan stories by one of the best writers of pulp fiction is still a pretty good story, super-hero-ish, Howard was smart at marketing, Margaret Brundage, lesbian scenes on the cover, gratuitous nudity, temptation, Queen Of The Black Coast, Belit, a pirate queen, first mate (literally), Belit runs that story, a noir awesome ending, the coincidence, “I guess I could do a gothic – Conan won’t like this”, having fun with it, all those tropes, the comics adaptations, done in Stygian, when Conan talks in word balloons, a rough-hewn word balloon (a Cimmerian accent?), you don’t want to do Arnold, a pulpy breezy, showing the Xuthalians hooked up to IVs, smoking your black lotus, the den of an opium smoker, chasing the dragon, enough backstory to make it interesting, an opium inundated culture, yellow skinned, China in decline, the Hermit Kingdom, decadence collapsing, a yellow peril story, San Fransisco, Chinatown, Lovecraftian elements, The Hour Of The Dragon, start with a random story, outliers, Beyond The Black River, Queen Of The Black Coast, an epicness, forty issues of awesome adventure, the tie between pulp adventure and comics, comics are the legacy of the pulps, The Shadow, Doc Savage is a pulp superhero with a super-team, in the 1970s, Conan The Barbarian, the Roy Thomas adaptation from Savage Sword of Conan #20, 1977, essentially nudity, heads being lopped off, no blood and no death, Curtis Publications, kick-ass stories, amazing pulp adventure, a 60 page comic adaptation, “freely adapting”, Conan finds a lost valley – Iskander’s kingdom, crocodile men and bird men, walking zombies, all sorts of things need to have their heads lopped off, Marvel was the dark side vs. DC, sel-doubt and existential anxierty of the heros, John Buscema, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, the amazing Filipino artists drawing busty ladies and big armed barbarians, Warren Comics, Heavy Metal, Richard Corben, so much richness in the non-superhero comics, Pepe Moreno, Rebel (1984), Mad Max meets Escape From New York with Nazis, a hot rod gang with a heart of gold, victory by blowing up the World Trade Center, power in visualizing, the “steely thews” of Conan, eldritch vs. thews, cat-like, jaguar, pantherish, the battle scenes really flowed, Howard highly influenced by Lovecraft, The Black Stone, an elegance of colour, colour in every particle of sand, the opposite of Lovecraft, with Lovecraft the horrible thing makes its appearance and you faint, Howard wades in on it, Lovecraft would never do that, one can’t battle gods and get away with a whole skin, psychic damage vs. physical damage, Howard is a complement to Lovecraft, physicality, fighting against the inevitability, there’s life there, bleak and grey vs. blood flying everywhere, Robert E. Howard was a lot lustier, “a superfluity of naughtiness”, tongue in cheek, “spicy”, Railroad Man’s Magazine, Air Stories, Zeppelin Stories, True Detective, Spicy Detective, Spicy Mystery, Spicy Adventure, Twilight is nothing new, sexist so sexist, racist so racist, women readers asking for more nudity and spicy, reading it with one hand, women liked and wrote for Weird Tales, Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Maude Ludington Cain, yeah it’s sexist, keep behind me girl, “Why is he calling her a girl?”, “Oh, he’s sexist.”, visualizing what is said, what if someone saw us?, there’s blood on the stones, Conan at his stupidest, a crimson mist descended over his eyes, don’t let the blind bull-headed grumpiness be a guide for what he’s like, there’s a great character there.

Weird Tales - The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

Weird Tales - The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

The Savage Sword Of Conan issue 20 - THE SLITHERING SHADOW

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The Slithering Shadow illustrated by Benito Gallego

The Slithering Shadow by Robert E. Howard

The Slithering Shadow illustration by Steven Fabian

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Travels Of Conan And Belit – AN ANNOTATED CHART OF THE BLACK COAST

SFFaudio News

I’m still of the opinion, many many years after first reading it, that The Queen Of The Black Coast is Robert E. Howard’s very best story. It’s an epic fantasy romance adventure tragedy.

I love it. How can you not love a passage like this:

Belit shuddered. “Life, bad as it is, is better than such a destiny.
What do you believe, Conan?”

He shrugged his shoulders. “I have known many gods. He who denies them
is as blind as he who trusts them too deeply. I seek not beyond death.
It may be the blackness averred by the Nemedian skeptics, or Crom’s
realm of ice and cloud, or the snowy plains and vaulted halls of the
Nordheimer’s Valhalla. I know not, nor do I care. Let me live deep
while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging
wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation
of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content.
Let teachers and priests and philosophers brood over questions of
reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no
less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live,
I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”

We’ve done two podcasts of it:

One was the audiobook, HERE. And one the other was the audio drama, HERE.

But the story, as I first encountered it, was a different adaptation, a serialized and expanded comics version published from the mid to late 1970s. Indeed, Marvel Comics’ Roy Thomas thought there must have been good material in there as he played out that story, expanding upon this paragraph:

The Tigress ranged the sea, and the black villages shuddered. Tomtoms
beat in the night, with a tale that the she-devil of the sea had found
a mate, an iron man whose wrath was as that of a wounded lion. And
survivors of butchered Stygian ships named Belit with curses, and a
white warrior with fierce blue eyes; so the Stygian princes remembered
this man long and long, and their memory was a bitter tree which bore
crimson fruit in the years to come.

And it ran for three years and 40 issues – from issue #58 (January, 1976) to issue #100 (July, 1979) and in those years Belit and Conan adventured.*

I spent much of the 1980s finding, collecting, and reading those back issues. After years I had a complete run of the comic. But only this week, approximately 30 years later, did I find this, an oversized two-page map chronicling the travels of Conan and Belit in those comics!

Behold, and click through to see the 1979 map published only in the Marvel Treasury Edition #23 (words by Roy Thomas, cartography by Mark Rogan):

The Travels Of Conan And Belit

[*still available in Volumes 8 – 12 of Dark Horse’s The Chronicles of Conan]

Posted by Jesse Willis