The SFFaudio Podcast #701 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #701 – The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen; read by Mark Nelson

This unabridged reading of the story (7 hours 3 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Connor Kaye.

Talked about on today’s show:
1907, semi-autobiographical novel, he kills himself at the end, the Lord Dunsany introduction from 1954, narrating audiobooks, a writer of note himself, surprisingly lucky in a way that Machen was not (not just being born a lord), Machen made his money as a journalist, editor, a job here and there, inheriting money from relatives, that allowed him to write, how else do you get the time to write, Lovecraft’s struggles, walking, The Silver Key, ancient Greeks and Romans, The Watcher By The Threshold, the veil, the secret world behind the veil, the colour of that world (is red), the furnace and the fire, light and colour and emotion, a very odd book, this book is a real trip, maybe Machen’s masterpiece, bigger in scope but also very intimate, take out all the parts about the struggle of writing, if condensed down, what makes it into a novel, bounced off this book, what is going on in this book, no clear plot at the start, not having anybody support that, Mark Nelson: fantastic, Mark Nelson has good taste and picks good stuff to narrate, Machen is a tough writer, he’s dense, floating on a river and sensations happen, Mrs. Gibbon and Annie were more important than we thought, the faun on the hill, by the end you understand, the first reading through, the focus is strange, Ambrose Bierce is perverse, Mark Twain, the least understandable way is the best way, this book has its own reading list, Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe, this is my guy, Poe and me are best buds, making gold out of letters on pages, even Lovecraft is easier, Lovecraft doesn’t throw us red herrings, a series of red herrings (the troubles of life), significant as a life trauma (not a plot point), incidents from Lucians life, The Cosy Room, a lot of rooms, he really knows place, exhausting your body walking and coming to a space, he can’t look at certain things in the room, the level distance from the harsh realities, I’m an alien, I’m much higher above looking down, a nice coping mechanism, boys torturing insects, they don’t feel pain anyways, the puppy torture scene, kids are like that, Out Of The Earth, bloodlust of children causing WWI, strange connections, put on the button that says “current thing”, Russians are evil now, very interesting but very difficult, get your trigger warning out, how disassociated Lucian is, I wanted to shake him, he didn’t do anything, talking about it, he has to be aloof from these things, so disconnected from what was happening around him, considering the rest of this story, he is the puppy, he feels, he is a victim, the owner of the puppy, she is the one who comforts him, the girl that becomes his religion, the puppy scene is incredible,

The leader saw the moment for his master-stroke. He slowly drew a piece of rope from his pocket.

“What do you say to that, mun? Now, Thomas Trevor! We’ll hang him over that there bough. Will that suit you, Bobby Williams?”

There was a great shriek of approval and delight. All was again bustle and animation. “I’ll tie it round his neck?” “Get out, mun, you don’t know how it be done.” “Is, I do, Charley.” “Now, let me, gwaes, now do let me.” “You be sure he won’t bite?” “He bain’t mad, be he?” “Suppose we were to tie up his mouth first?”

The puppy still fawned and curried favor, and wagged that sorry tail, and lay down crouching on one side on the ground, sad and sorry in his heart, but still with a little gleam of hope; for now and again he tried to play, and put up his face, praying with those fond, friendly eyes. And then at last his gambols and poor efforts for mercy ceased, and he lifted up his wretched voice in one long dismal whine of despair. But he licked the hand of the boy that tied the noose.

the core problem for all of us, we are the ones who inflict pain, monsters and boys, trying to be kind to everyone, in the city, that quality of generosity, the most beautiful, Annie, a servant girl, Master Lucian, when he meets her in the lane, reverse double leg cling, she caresses his head, the published book with stuff stolen from his book, once something is published, no one wants any of that, something we both do and something that we do to others, it’s amazing, here read my book, they cant see the garbage that they’ve written, they can only see , why would I bother that something isn’t published?, the worst baseball player ever, keep going johnny you can do it!, the cultural movement, late 90s, the rise of self-help, you can do anything, every person can be the best at something they are capable of being, liking to run, long legs and pain inside that can only be healed by having a gold medal around your neck, a horrible reality of the world, a coming of age story, realization of your own limitations is coming of age, a painful aspect, the pain of sexuality, the horniest boy ever, his fellow kids, him alone spinning up his own theories, lusting after almost ethereal objects, highly romantic sense of the world, working class people who don’t give a shit, let’s get trashed, the 12 year old and the 15 year old, going for long walks, idealizing women, under the surface, we don’t know him that well except where his actions bubble up against reality, there is feeling there, when he tries to share his book with people, do pretty flowers, some people are trying to help him, unwillingness to deviate, he’s gifted, he knows he’s gifted, a lot of alchemy symbolism, words are magical, the ability to provoke and control emotions, making people more subject to what they are, mostly used for evil, when he first sees that book with his stuff published in it, validated, apathetic, he’s proud of it, making it all about money, he needed the validation, a stage that a lot of authors get stuck in, the ideas are going to be stolen, Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1998), you gotta sue, a Guy De Maupassant story was totally ripped-off, sold to weird tales, The Tortoise Shell Comb, An Apparition, a cavalry officer, comb my hair for me, if you were Guy De Maupassant, Banksy?, give your mom a book you wrote, a dishonesty of the known relationship, do the esoteric stuff not the commercial stuff, the anti-Edgar Rice Burroughs, kind of suceeds, it’s a victory?, a lot of Lovecraft in this character, the young writer, the particular personality type, unbending, committing to a vision, not compromising, he got that book, a funny line they always say about Lovecraft, so many beans, accentuates the victory, we can’t even read the fucking thing, and yet it’s a victory, who is it a victory for?, a victory for Lucian, overdosing on morphine, Confessions Of An English Opium-Eater, ladies of sorrow, horror movies, Suspiria (1977), a bestseller, How I Smoked Crack And Lived To Tell About It, that French guy who loved Poe, Les Fleurs Du Mal, Suspiria De Profundis, Charles Baudelaire, insight into his mind, an unreliable narrator?, he’s hiding something from us, he has the shakes, smoking a ton of tobacco, overdosed, an addict, emotionless, he probably doesn’t want to masturbate, doesn’t have the materials, burying thoughts in physical weariness, piercing his own body with burrs, a recognized mental illness symptom, cutting, hare shirts, impure thoughts, the fetish, unhealthy, complex organisms in a complex society, get a real job, follow my advice, very real, who’s to say they’re not right?, the middle road, Lucian chose complete dedication art, bending like a reed in the wind, no goals, getting you killed, going along with the current, part of the problem for individuals, living in a society with mass hysteria, why do we have to have that war on another continent, an alliance treaty with France and Russia, white chicken feathers, the current thing, almost a statement, Trevor Towers, Celephais?, sleepwalks off a cliff, a triumph but only from his point of view, capitalism’s threat: knuckle under or become homeless, peruse artistic endeavors, Machen survived where Lucian didn’t, another way he could have gone, this is what could have happened to me, idealistic, circumstances were slightly different, early 2000, Richard K. Morgan, conflict investment, Market Forces, caught up in Netflix deals, ultimately the opposite of the Stephen King/Lovecraft route, success can be something that can hurt you as well, The Bowmen, jotted off in five minutes, the Ghost of Kyiv, the Angel Of The Mons, attestations, Bryan Alexander, Colonel Tomb laughs at this from his grave, just has to be true stories, Vietnamese fighter pilot, Colonel Toon, WWII, Panfilov’s 28 Men (2016), War Thunder, how dare you say that, it’s important!, bullshit made of wholecloth, the rolling thunder of this truth being needed, if Machen had any kind of cultural impact, debunking it, it’s true that it would be good for morale, Rape Of Belgium, these brave Belgian boys, we need them to be hard done by, raped by the pre-Nazis, ginning up anger, encouraging recruitment, a fundamental lie at base, there’s a veil between reality and how we see reality, the veil is real, willful blinders, the noble lie, telling truths, from genuine situations, confabulating slightly, Philip K. Dick’s characters are autobiographical, Horselover Fat, A Scanner Darkly, putting himself on the list, sometimes we slip through, a very odd book, John Steinbeck, East Of Eden, magnum opus, frustrating and meandering, not page turners, ethereal feeling, the veil between reality, The White People, The Great God Pan, monologue about what is reality, investing the time and energy, it feels pretty long, Charles Dickens is very engaging, floating down a river, Machen loves his descriptions of nature, at the fort on the hill, descriptions of the trees and nature, crafted, did this actually happen to Machen as a boy?, ecstatic experience, on drugs, what makes you go back there, how small you are, connection, he tried it with a novel, alcohol, the invention of gin, counter-reaction, massive social impacts, China’s reaction to computer games, a three hour limit, internet games, solo game disconnected from the internet, single player games now require an internet connection, Civilization 2, Roblox, Minecraft, set in its period (late 19th century), love of literature and great texts, 18th century authors knew what was going on, Kublai Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats, knight vs. wight, Tolkien leftovers, because it’s archaic, a horny young man and an idealized woman, a femme fatale story, it destroys him, dissociates, his ideal woman, Annie as a person, as a part of his imagination, the Roman fort, being a Roman senator, the Roman temples of D.C., we are just as great (corrupt) as they were, a false reality, I’m wearing a business suit, folk horror, how women are depicted in folk horror, pagan motifs, witchcraft, blindsided, when Miss Gibbons died, a very fairy tale scene, he’s the wolf, Annie was a witch, unholy wedding, explicitly magical aspects, seduction, the magic is in the men, brain chemicals, the shapely waist, her skin, the Platonic ideal, in the air in the period, Mr. Skelmersdale In Fairyland by H.G. Wells, I’m ruined now, transformed him, it isn’t played for laughs, The New Accelerator, The Invisible Man, comic possibilities everywhere, bittersweet, a triumph as a tragedy, a silk purse of a sow’s ear, lemonade from lemons, the slippery idea of the ideal world or woman, when we read Lovecraft that’s the absent part, Edgar Allan Poe, the ideal woman is the dead woman, she can never be limited by reality (growing old, not being smart enough, fighting), the Baudelaire way, beautiful cruelty, life is cruel, damaged people managing their trauma (in ways other than alcohol), a moment later, joy and happiness, drunk on love, bronze hair, come for a walk with me, a statue, very Greek, his visions, there was death in the woman’s face, she had indeed, the brink of utter desolation, a sex scene too, the carpet matches the drapes, a very sexual novel for a guy who’s so chaste, he falls asleep on the hill, none of them are real and all of them are, is this kid mentally ill?, the end of Dagon, he’s seeing the thing he’s fearful of in himself and not recognizing it, a troubled kid, maybe it’s like he has down syndrome or he’s autistic, kindness, the world is retarded and not him, he’s so extreme in his uncompromisingness, expressed as greatness, isolation, pushes him to the brink, again he was astray in the mist, splendid as Rome, terrible as Babylon, the place of eternal gloom, ring within ring, circle within circle, high writing, the sanctuary of the infernal right, wresting, muscles that could throw down mountains, a flaring street, naphtha fires, pure poetry, dusky figures, a noise like a chant of the lost, orgy, bronze hair, a gulf of darkness, all symbolism, precious robes, the room!, a vapour of the grave, horrible caresses, the matted thicket, the desire rose up like a black smoke, amazing, she lures him, he forces himself upon her, she turns into a very bad trip, exaltation to pain and torture, the elm tree was riven, Lucian is a good name, the tumult and the shock came as a sudden murmur, he overdosed, is he chasing the dragon?, are all of these dreams on the hill?, his dependence on tobacco, a symbol for a later addiction, walking to get rid of his energy, thick black tobacco to cloud his mind, he chases her across a landscape that is not a city, a difficult triumph, no one else is wealthier for it, a vast silence overwhelmed him, Ex Oblivione, dissolving into the Realm of the Forms, a temporary escape from reincarnation, The Novel Of The White Powder, going to seed or dissolution, a continuous issue, Lovecraft was a teetotaler, the other way you can go, morphine?, The Green Meadow, ecstatic states, walking to exhaustion, a difficult topic, there’s truth everywhere in it, sloppy racism, the primitives being in touch with sensations and sense, barbarian hating civilization, Robert E. Howard, nine times, barbarians, pleasantly, prigs perfected, joyous manly young fellows, raped?, devious backstreets, the respectable inhabitants are barbarians, The Lost Club, a Weird Tales reprint, The Lost Room by Fitz James O’Brien, places that go missing, The Music Of Erich Zann, The Lost Street [by ], a strange experience, experiencing weirdness, N, a more definite divide between fantasy and reality, a magical world intruding upon London, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany, does he go through it?, Golden Dragon City, Game Of Thrones, the only guy with HBO in 1902, Dunsany had it much easier, a crazy man confronts Dunsany in a restaurant, I just make them up you see, the story that is described is one Dunsany wrote, as extreme as Dunsany gets, not quite on the level of Guy de Maupassant, rigid principles, flowery words and a suit, a lifestyle that could so endanger them, is N unfinished?, a warning story, prurient interest in seeing how far one can descend, reality TV shows, I’m not that depraved, morbid curiosity, not edifying curiosity, The Cosy Room And Others, Hippocampus Press, The Ancient Track: The Complete Poetical Works of H. P. Lovecraft, nothing of Lovecraft is copyrighted, you don’t know how many letters he wrote where he put a poem in for a newborn baby’s birthday, so nested and so rich with vocabulary, a werewolf story, Psychopompos, exhausting a sonnet, more time invested in reading Clark Ashton Smith is a good thing, if this is Machen’s worst I want to read more, difficult, The Shining Pyramid, tiny details that fly by, The Unknown World, May 15 – June 15, 1895, Robert E. Howard wrote way more than H.P. Lovecraft did, the vastness of his other work, popular for his supernatural stories, Robert W. Chambers flips a switch, the opposite of what Lucian does, The Secret Glory, The Three Impostors, a fix-up, chasin a dragon out of the window, spent it all on insane asylums, The Horla, Maupassant rented a hot air balloon to promote a book, before airplanes, The Troop by Nick Cutter, trained up and fought a poet to promote his book, Uwe Boll, Ed Wood, completely talentless, maybe he just got past it, self-awareness is a stumbling block, Ed Wood (1994), found family, he has an eye and no talent, as innocent as a war veteran could be, a go getter, $5, Golan Globus Theatre podcast, the Tijuana Bible, historical records we need to have preserved, what Julian needed (was printed pornography), Conquering Goddess, it needs to be fully illustrated, BDSM, Robert E. Howard, nudy pulps before Playboy, the first Playboy with Marilyn Monroe, weird repression, Penthouse, happening but hidden away, human nature never changes, more evidence that this is how we have always been, embarrassing, left out in the woods, pre-WWII, this is somebody’s great grandma, challenged one of his critics to a boxing match, if he won the boxing match, you won the fight therefore, dueling, humour was our way of escaping bullies, laughter is disarming, intellectual overpowering, more than halfway through (life), a very thinly veiled autobiography, drawing on his own experience, a lot of philosophy, writerly philosophy, more about writing than it is about mysticism, why Maupassant wrote weird fiction, Maupassant’s career, A Piece Of String, A Ball Of Fat, a Star Trek episode [The Galileo Seven], hypocrisy, my servants are stealing from me, I am my servant, these terrible experiences he must relate, very healthily not on Twitter, No Man’s Land by John Buchan, Esteban Maroto, Australian youtube audiobook narrator, Steve Parker audiobooks, simple guy: likes audiobooks, iPads, Randall’s Round, you should always record, The Wind In The Portico, The Temple Of Death by A.C. Benson, 23 temples, spread out the Buchan, doing the same authors but not back to back, The Horror Horn by E.F. Benson, a yeti story in Switzerland, The Inn by Guy De Maupassant, the horror of being alone, afraid of a lot of stuff, The Terror, Who Knows?, the little shop dwarf, his homunculus, “oh monsieur, all your furniture is gone”, this is alarming, the furniture is the faculties of his mind, all metaphorical, symbolist, a good discussion of a complex book.

The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen

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Reading, Short And Deep #339 – I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #339

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud was first published in [William Wordsworth’s] Poems, Volume 2, 1807.

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

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The SFFaudio Podcast #606 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #606 – Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens; read by Mary Jo Escano.

This unabridged reading of the story (29 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Famous Fantastic Mysteries, All-Story Weekly, the original, Mary Jo Escano, Connor Kaye, an inversion of The Cask Of Amontillado, unhinged, paranoid, the slight, Reading, Short And Deep, The Purloined Letter, hiding something in plain sight, C. Auguste Dupin, Voltaire’s Zadig, the origin of Sherlock Holmes, a couple of lines in Latin, a story from ancient Greece, like most people, the content of the letter, blackmail, Poe is so twisted, feed the child to the parent, revenge, the general outline Fortunato is unlikely, don’t tread on me, a foot stamping on a snake, coded, carnival day, the way the story is framed, you who know me so well, a return to the frame, fifty years, confess to a murder crime, confessing to his confessor, a little twist, an unrepentant evil fuck, bad deal, Poe is very revengy, Francis Stevens, Terrence E. Hanley’s blog, the math, the golden age for SF is 12, a new edition of Poe came out when Francis Stevens was 12, H.G. Wells, a number of Poe stories, read and listened, a whole other story, every single line, incredibly interesting how much work each little thing does, densely short, idea matrix, dream, didn’t feel cheated, Castalia House, more Lovecrafty, Schrodinger’s Beatrice, a back frame, The Turn Of The Screw, the dream thank god was a lie, what was the dream, both, this avenging poison, really questioning, this is an actual dream Francis Stevens had, Lovecraft’s letters, Jesse’s dreams, this thesis, dreams and creative writing are basically the same thing, multiple passes, the power of dreams, if that’s not the case, that’s how the narrator tells the story, dreams are very slippery things, worried that something in the dream is reality, what you feared, neglecting pets [sooo neglecty], undo, what is actually real, everyone they say has a streak of incipient madness, the potentiality, Beatrice wants a divorce, Santallos, she was going for italiante, Spanish background, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, a mummy in his house, read stories then write based on prominent, at 3am on your birthday, a very long dream

Dreamt I traveled to a small island nation, a tourist destination, &took the usual tourist trap tour with a semi-stranger. He’d lured me there like Harley Warren, with hints& half-promises about some semi-history some semi-mythology of that island nation. A Twitter acquaintance, I was his Randolph Carter, his audience and student. We toured the caves with the others, but at a certain passage broke with the group and wound down tunnels of the known path. There he pointed out subtle signs no local guide would mention or noticed. A glyph here, a scratch there. And eventually he showed me the wall which concealed that culminating theory, or so he said. I feared my Carter might be his Fortunato and said so. But his knowing laugh reassured and also frightened me. He asked my help in rolling the wall, a large round rock, aside and I did, and with my small extra strength added to his the wall moved. We pass into the passage beyond and found evidence that the island’s rumors about a great power once visiting but somehow sparing them the devastation of similar remote island nations to be literally true. For beyond that wall we found a small group of skeletons seated round in a ring. Each a cup in their bony hands. Each cup contained a reddish residue and as I [p]awed and sniffed at the bottle between them my semi-acquaintance explained the scene to me. They’d crashed their ship upon the island’s rocky shores, he said, after being wrecked upon them by a swirling tempest. But surviving and being provisioned, their leader, a ship’s surgeon told the poxxy crew they could expect a rescue and relief. But this had been a ruse for the surgeon somehow knew that his European crew carried a disease too deadly to be treated on the isolated natives of this island nation and so instead he’d planned a party where in truth he’d drugged their wine, and collapsed the cave wall behind which lay this sordid scene.

I sat there stunned.

How could this Twitter acquaintance know all this about this hidden history, this suicidal plan, this involuntary pact, this truly tainted tontine in which all its members had only learned their fate at the hands of their deceaser doctor who himself imbibed the tainted wine?

Again

my Twitter acquaintance, nigh a friend, laughed and explained his morbid methodology.

And as I heard his terrible words, and sniffed again at that reddish residue I realized that the island’s isolated events and the ships surgeon from long ago were less a quaint [story] than a repeating pattern and as this realization dawned upon me and he laughed the final words I heard that round rock roll back into place as I awoke to write these words.”

no joke, experience the horror, deliberative cruelty, a wind so strong, a bunch of images, quite interesting, now I’ve gone too far, that happens in this story, really cool, Poe-esque, less something to be proud of than to be interested in, How Jesse Dreams podcast, 6 weird words,

HIS GREAT GRANDSIRE’S WILL by Jesse
Upon the death of his despised great grandfather, the portly boy was surprised to learn he had been bestowed his mouldering ancestral estate, consisting of a remote mountain fortress, a deep black lake, and crumbling thatch-roofed stables.
Yet when he first visited that stone citadel, that deep still tarn, and those rotting horse stalls, the ample boy was not particularly impressed with his great grandsire’s wizardry.
But the more he investigated that ancient demesne the more the big boy came to appreciate his great grandfather’s antiquarian peculiarities.
So it was particularly poignant when one November evening the rotund boy was plumbing the depths of the manor’s many cellars when, after sliding aside a purple velour curtain, he discovered the shriveled and still swinging corpse of his great grandfather in a magnificent rocking chair.
Shocked, but no longer surprised, the seemingly faithless boy instantly kicked his old ancestor’s body out of the chair, draped that sumptuous violet hanging about his still plush shoulders, seated himself, laughed and began to rock.
When in the spring sunshine they eventually found him in that basement of that shining citadel, the boy’s body was dry and desiccated, the stables had been rebuilt, the lake was lush with lively loons, and a freshly empty casket lay resplendent in an upper turret.
THE END

Jesse writes better in his dreams, the original Virgil Finlay illustration, having Poe on your mind, a Poe-ish story, in your reading gets inside of you, how this story was constructed, a cliche, and it was all a dream, genuinely what it is, it feels like it was written by a woman, the way he talks about the other male, the female gaze, he sat in the woman’s chair, he wishes he could see himself, his litheness of his body, its almost like a gay thing, sometimes Jesse’s not in his own dreams, third person dreams, an expy, Maissa doesn’t know whose in her dreams, interfering with access, designed to be forgettable, kettle on the stove, dream memory would harm reality if it persisted, looking for the cat you’ve never owned, maladaptive, I must be enjoying it while its happening, try to hold on to dreams, free association, a deliberately difficult order, the arbitrariness of dreams, how could this work?, writing your way out of it, plotters vs. pantsers, writing by the seats of your pants, the unpublished first novel of Clark Ashton Smith (The Black Diamonds), a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, an old castle, rotting tapestry, another dinner, there’s wrestling, a mysterious letter delivered by a bird, you are now my enemy, forsworn, no explanation, this wonderful imagination, he’s got the right attitude, the font is too small, why it is a dream story, she read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and she had this dream, her own personal psychology, Poe’s life, his parents, his adoptive family, super-randy, romanced everybody around, you better straighten up, defiant, West Point, excelled and kicked out, a trouble maker, Tomahawk Poe, how mean he was, Baltimore Gazette, trouble holding a job, alcoholic, Poe’s executor was his enemy, Poe was not a normal person, Francis Stevens was a normal person (extraordinarily gifted), not a Harlan Ellison type, Poe would be very tiring, we have to work with this guy, he’s the son of the boss, the narrator is upset by the actions he thought he took, he didn’t kill Beatrice, but he thought about it, jealousy, putative lover, yay my marriage failed, easy come easy go (but its not that easy), the timing of this story, 1918 vs. 1922, King Tut’s tomb, waves of Egyptmania, a little premature, The Mummy, 1940, its very short, subtle, authentic, she was 34 when this story came out, the bulk of her stories appear The Curious Experience Of Thomas Dunbar, the superhero Sampson, the very first superhero story, super-science, comic-booky, unrelated experiments, all of the metal, vibranium or adamantium, like Captain America, tremendous strength, the mythological character, written when she was a teenager, she’s got something, a real dynamism, it feels clunky at the beginning, it’s a short story, to be sure of my visitor, this is all planned, our friend, our Beatrice, it throws you off, a blast of sharp November air, each purple curtain, from Poe, ah distinctly I remember, wrought its ghost upon the floor, burn, I had to throw my weight upon the door, the storm without (he thinks), you’re very cautions, a password, this house stands somewhat alone, thieves everywhere, full of import, a feat of considerable muscles, sarcophagus, yes, the woman it contains, don’t you agree?, counterfeited a shudder, mummy horror, selling everything, tear jars and tombstones, a meme, drinking a cup full of “liberal tears”, making light, that relationship, neglecting his wife, another Poe story, The Oval Portrait, her name is not insignificant, trying to escape a bad relationship, she just wants to have it quits, the kind of chair that women love but most men loathe, like a cat, occasional blundering candor, the litheness of his body, why does he want to be understood?, with a single exception, the entire lot is going to the dealers, the costume of the mummy, he’s transferred his affection, very weird, where is Beatrice, a sea-cruise, another Poe story, The Oblong Box, its a coffin, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the coffin as a flotation device, she’s in her boudoir?, we don’t know, what’s behind the curtain?, what is the curtain?, the dream?, the space between life and death?, the rosy velour curtain, constantly billowing, a rose coloured sail, must be a door behind there, huh?, my voice checked him, are you quite strong enough to close that door, chin on shoulder, his face seemed scarcely familiar?, what door is it?, his eyes fled mine, the invading winds, Annabelle Lee, you feel like you’re with them, heft to the things, the foot of the gilded case, gilded cage, a prisoner of his own thoughts and his own fear and his own making, he can’t escape them, a repulsive fantasy, yes?, you are too lovely Beatrice, you shall have your freedom, the father’s friend sent the wine, a very female story, kill with poison, enemy and himself, a murder suicide, none of us are going to survive that night, The Sleeper, a story not just a description, by the tomb by the sea by his Annabelle Lee, big frost ship poem, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, you’re walking down the highway, who are you?, its a story of necrophilia, a dude like Romeo outside of a house, she’s either dead or asleep, The Sleeper, curtains, superhard to understand, a nice tomb (she deserves it), to hear the echo (that’s a ghost), the horror of your loved one being dead, your in-laws, if Beatrice is to die, she should be given the most grand tomb imaginable, the mummy’s tomb, be with her (kinda), definitely thinking about it, the underdog stand, one more try, my father’s jealous blood, the mummy or his wife?, he was paying more attention, let her mate with who she would, my brown perfect princess of the Nile, as I had seen it in my vision, did he do that?, he was prepping, prepping for the murder, so good, page 41, erect in the doorway, more beautiful, bound across her bosom, amulets, the amulet of purity of the heart, Dante Alighieri, lost in the dusk of her hair, the flesh of any of us three, what he says about her hair, pallor, an interesting growth, the billowing of the titular curtain, the same totem, the catacombs, a distraction to Fortunato, the niter, it grows, an indication of growth in death, bird poo, an alchemical idea, crystalline growth, do you notice the curtain it blows?, half the estate, even to the sarcophagus itself, the unclosed frozen eyes, a motif used again again, Dream-Land, there the king hath forbid the uplifting of the fringed lid, the courtesy due a guest, a gauge, a measure of his suffering, drive home the jest, you’re joking with me, dressed in motley, a jester, Beatrice had seen, Romeo And Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, any use, the melting pot of dissolution, almost Lovecraftian, you asked what door, there are doors and doors dear, charming friend, close it now in my face, wither you have, the heavy heavy door of the Osiris, very cool story, so many layers, more notes from Connor, pretty much a reasonable person, to consummate their affair, juicy horror elements, without plot being committed, a reasonable person, your writing sucks, dude, a magician’s act, the whole dream is a magic trick, the stage assistant has not been sawn in half, a comparison between Beatrice and the dead princess, changed vs. unchanging, the dead princess, he can project all his stuff onto her, no, no I hate those, watching movies with his mummy bride, their all independently wealthy, take your stuff home to work with you, one story in Weird Tales, Sunfire, running out of Francis Stevens to read, alas!, three stories to go, The Thrill Book, Impulse, set in the Society Islands Of The South Pacific, how much we will enjoy this story, completely gone, Friend Island, make sure you keep a copy, and that’s that, evocative, stuff to say, Unseen—Unfeared, Google Books, one photo of Francis Stevens (unattributed), why she stopped, some falling out with her kid, alternative dates for her birth and death, changed her name again?, R.M. Burrows, with women its hard, Lovecraft’s name is unusual, we don’t quite have the technology yet, new stuff gets scanned, 1948 newspaper Washington, D.C., Book Club called The Outsiders, first order of business, write a stern letter to the government, Weird Tales was banned in Washington, D.C., “different stories”, like a television channel, “The Unique Magazine”, those misfits, the weird stories, this isn’t a science fiction story, its not even a fantasy story, a horror story, a Poe story, not following a particular set of tropes, why I like Francis Stevens.

Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens - Illustration by Virgil Finlay

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Reading, Short And Deep #229 – Shadows by Clark Ashton Smith

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #229

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Shadows by Clark Ashton Smith

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Arctic Justice was first published in Weird Tales, February 1930.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #486 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The City Of The End Of Things by Archibald Lampman

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #486 –The City Of The End Of Things by Archibald Lampman; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the poem (5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Prof. Eric S. Rabkin.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jesse goes crazy, this guy’s amazing!, unheard of, earlier and later weird poetry, Ezra Pound and T.S. Elliot, the poems of Clark Ashton Smith, child prodigy out of California writes amazing poetry!, Hamilton, poetry without music isn’t mainstream anymore, rhyme and verbal invention, evolutionarily pro-adaptive, mate-getting and gene replication, fashion, Dr. Bowdler’s Legacy, Sir Walter Scott, immoral novels, flat-chested sexy women, enormously mammary sexy women, almost perfect rhyme and rhythm, doggerel, Alexander Pope, the Canadian Keats, romantic poetry, William Wordsworth, Archibald Lampman on twitter: @alampman, H.P. Lovecraft, almost Lovecraftian, cosmicism, a dream poem, A Thunderstorm, multi-valent meaning, depths, circles, 1894, multiple ways to understand,

BESIDE the pounding cataracts
Of midnight streams unknown to us,
’T is builded in the dismal tracts
And valleys huge of Tartarus.
Lurid and lofty and vast it seems;
It hath no rounded name that rings,
But I have heard it called in dreams
The City of the End of Things.

Its roofs and iron towers have grown
None knoweth how high within the night,
But in its murky streets far down
A flaming terrible and bright
Shakes all the stalking shadows there,
Across the walls, across the floors,
And shifts upon the upper air
From out a thousand furnace doors;
And all the while an awful sound
Keeps roaring on continually,
And crashes in the ceaseless round
Of a gigantic harmony.
Through its grim depths reëchoing,
And all its weary height of walls,
With measured roar and iron ring,
The inhuman music lifts and falls.
Where no thing rests and no man is,
And only fire and night hold sway,
The beat, the thunder, and the hiss
Cease not, and change not, night nor day.

lurid night, end of days, a Dying Earth story, an automated factory, a city at the end of time, post humanity, the end of things we have made, at the end of the concept of things (manufacture and industry), bursting with different ways of looking, a Canadian Shelley, “hail to thee blithe spirit”, Ozymandias, the works of man, creation, what does the first “of” mean, the telos of things, removing humanity, leafless vs. dismal, sonorous description, murky, flaming, what does this presage?, “wandering lonely as a cloud”, the creations of man persisting, leafless tracts, lands with no leaves, books without pages, making decisions, this is a fantasy or this is a science fiction, dreams as vision, genre distinctions, Edgar Allan Poe, Dreamland, “bottomless vales”, pastoral Gothic bound in human emotion, looking forward, shadows echoes, rings and rounded, the end of a cycle, a nadir, the end of a phase, the poem is the city, the poem becomes the city, “unknown to us”, fore and aft in time, adjective vs. adverb, multiple meanings, once we “see”, a derivative meaning of cataracts, waterfall, extraordinary! extraordinary!, referring to himself, putting in vs. allowing in, this city has no name, it hath no rounded name, “Megacity 422”, a sense of gears turning, verticality and depth, this could be a clock (except for all the fire), foundry factory, uninhabitable, seeing this as astronomy, the music of the spheres, an awful sound (full of awe for us), what is a rounded name? Bubbles, Radar, the fixed stars, wandering planets, the Earth, a sublunary place, in addition, none know it now, set in Hell, Tartarus, the “Titan Woods” in Dreamland, a place and a being, Chaos and Gaia, Hesiod, an area in Hades, defeated titans, imprisoned cyclopes, the Gold, Silver, Brass, and Iron ages, the heat death of the universe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, an absent sun, the end of the industrial world, philosophical depths, how is a height weary?, The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, Kubla Khan; or, A Vision in a Dream: A Fragment, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, the hell of the mechanized underworld, and the garden above (until the night comes),

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

sunlights and blossoms, a dream interrupted, a river ringing the city of the end of things is Omega,

And moving at unheard commands,
The abysses and vast fires between,
Flit figures that, with clanking hands,
Obey a hideous routine.
They are not flesh, they are not bone,
They see not with the human eye,
And from their iron lips is blown
A dreadful and monotonous cry.
And whoso of our mortal race
Should find that city unaware,
Lean Death would smite him face to face,
And blanch him with its venomed air;
Or, caught by the terrific spell,
Each thread of memory snapped and cut,
His soul would shrivel, and its shell
Go rattling like an empty nut.

It was not always so, but once,
In days that no man thinks upon,
Fair voices echoed from its stones,
The light above it leaped and shone.
Once there were multitudes of men
That built that city in their pride,
Until its might was made, and then
They withered, age by age, and died;
And now of that prodigious race
Three only in an iron tower,
Set like carved idols face to face,
Remain the masters of its power;
And at the city gate a fourth,
Gigantic and with dreadful eyes,
Sits looking toward the lightless north,
Beyond the reach of memories:
Fast-rooted to the lurid floor,
A bulk that never moves a jot,
In his pale body dwells no more
Or mind or soul,—an idiot!

ITS ROBOTS!, Hephaestus, automaton owls, iron lips, warehouses, dump truck, the garbage truck, automated sounds, metaphorizing the pieces of the machine, exquisite control of language, imabic tetrameter, that empty nut, a prelapsarian time, the mechanized is ultimately the problem, mysterious, people built this city, now they’re dead except for three, Jesse’s illustration, a nightmare vision, the controllers of the city?, a fourth, Dreams Of Yith by Duane W. Rimel and H.P. Lovecraft, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, the huge sentinel, an insane person (a nut case), vapid empty mindlessness, trapped in the iron tower, prisoners, The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul, the citizen who does not participate, the three and the one, we’ve done this to ourselves, human perfection as an oxymoron, mortal races, who did the setting?, an exclusion, the idiot remains,

But some time in the end those three
Shall perish and their hands be still,
And with the masters’ touch shall flee
Their incommunicable skill.
A stillness, absolute as death,
Along the slacking wheels shall lie,
And, flagging at a single breath,
The fires shall smoulder out and die.
The roar shall vanish at its height,
And over that tremendous town
The silence of eternal night
Shall gather close and settle down.
All its grim grandeur, tower and hall,
Shall be abandoned utterly,
And into rust and dust shall fall
From century to century.
Nor ever living thing shall grow,
Or trunk of tree or blade of grass;
No drop shall fall, no wind shall blow,
Nor sound of any foot shall pass.
Alone of its accurséd state
One thing the hand of Time shall spare,
For the grim Idiot at the gate
Is deathless and eternal there!

who is this grim idiot?, idiom, Time, Lean Death, playing VR games, are they the masters?, master’s, Voices Of Earth, the mechanism underneath everything, the physics underneath reality, if this is all metaphor…, emojis that look like you, emoticons, technology, part of the reason to have poetry: to communicate the incommunicable, “grim”, a haunting spirit, “the graveyard grims” giant spectral hounds that guarded cemeteries, the wheel, the Hell turns off, a science fiction poem, The Valley Of Unrest by Edgar Allan Poe,

Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless —
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye —
Over three lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave: — from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.
They weep: — from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.

Reading, Short And Deep, But who Can Replace A Man? by Brian Aldiss, a missing piece of the puzzle from the dialogue of science fiction and fantasy, City Of The Titans, City At The Edge Of Forever by Harlan Ellison, an anthology of Victorian verse, The Atlantic Monthly, March 1894, the praise of Lampman as a nature poet, The City by Ray Bradbury, inimical to man, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, Sara Teasdale’s There Will Come Soft Rains, WWI,

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

we are very dangerous for ourselves, a poet who should not be forgotten, the scholarship, so many layers, its marvelous, repeating words strategically, the theme being revealed, such a deep feeling for what it is that he’s about.

The City OF The End Of Things

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #401 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Celephaïs by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #401 – Celephaïs by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Gordon Gould. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June.)

Talked about on today’s show:
The Rainbow, May 1922, Marvel Tales, 1934, Weird Tales, Jun-July 1939, “A Posthumous Weird Fantasy”, a story about H.P. Lovecraft’s life,

Kuranes was not modern, and did not think like others who wrote. Whilst they strove to strip from life its embroidered robes of myth and to show in naked ugliness the foul thing that is reality, Kuranes sought for beauty alone. When truth and experience failed to reveal it, he sought it in fancy and illusion, and found it on his very doorstep, amid the nebulous memories of childhood tales and dreams.

so Lovecraft, reality ain’t pretty, always in fantasy, consciousness and objective reality, Jason Thompson comic book adaption, detail and attention, London, Yeasto and Beefo, Thomas Shap, gleefuly smashing a cat, opiates, a hashish man, the anonymity of Kuranes’ dream visage (in Jason Thompson’s rendering), Understanding Comics, wearied and wizened, a board game, an amazing adaptation, the page 8 sequence, the valley of Ooth Nargai, where form does not exist, a violet coloured gas, compass and protractor, manga style, hot air balloons, toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky, the domes are the same shape as the balloons, The Thing On The Doorstep, a script of imagery, going deep into the story, spending weeks in just 19 minutes, Fungi From Yuggoth, Dreamland-like,

XVII. A Memory

There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.

I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.

The Gardens of Yinand from Celephais:

One night he went flying over dark mountains where there were faint, lone campfires at great distances apart, and strange, shaggy herds with tinkling bells on the leaders; and in the wildest part of this hilly country, so remote that few men could ever have seen it, he found a hideously ancient wall or causeway of stone zigzagging along the ridges and valleys; too gigantic ever to have risen by human hands, and of such a length that neither end of it could be seen. Beyond that wall…

it’s a dream but it is also real, Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a teetotaler, far more fascinating is the man himself, at points in his life, his dreams live on, eighty years later, immortality, he’s alive for a lot more people than he was when he was alive, horrifying vs. a slow sad tragedy, reflecting H.P. Lovecraft’s life, uncompromising, attitudes towards money, lies and untruths, up-selling, The Diary Of Alonzo Typer, William Lumley, a Thomas Shap character himself, the pathetic people who tell lies about their own life experience in order to make life more tolerable, the last paragraph, played mockingly, Trevor Towers, the purchased atmosphere of extinct nobility, offensive brewers, The Great Gatsby, that resentment, so tragic, so awesome, the two images of Trevor Towers, thinness of reality, and the neighbouring regions of dream, his eye, the naked ugly reality, he’s killed himself, you’re out king!, The Coronation Of Mr. Thomas Shap by Lord Dunsany, tongue in cheek, ironic, to persuade customers, a more compromised Lovecraft, a dignity of nobility, your everyday fella, particularity imaginative, a fable, don’t let it effect your work, living on the skeleton of his ancestry (or he’s a writer), tweeting dreams, the writer’s life,

XXVIII. Expectancy

I cannot tell why some things hold for me
A sense of unplumbed marvels to befall,
Or of a rift in the horizon’s wall
Opening to worlds where only gods can be.
There is a breathless, vague expectancy,
As of vast ancient pomps I half recall,
Or wild adventures, uncorporeal,
Ecstasy-fraught, and as a day-dream free.

It is in sunsets and strange city spires,
Old villages and woods and misty downs,
South winds, the sea, low hills, and lighted towns,
Old gardens, half-heard songs, and the moon’s fires.
But though its lure alone makes life worth living,
None gains or guesses what it hints at giving.

there’s that wall again, the wall as representative of the line between life and death, Ex Oblivione, they’re all dream-quests, “rift”, how the words associate with one another, all the abysses that Lovecraft talks about, The Strange High House In The Mist, a god having lunch, being thrown off the Earth, and yet…, a gate, a void, astral projection, the only way to the dream world (and space), super resonant, that’s great!, the wall over which the imagining and expectancy of what could be, that alone makes life worth living, embracing the fact you’re going to be extinct, that depth is unplumbed, a “problematic depth”, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, wanting to be an astronomer, going on night walks, it’s isolating, he’s walking alone here, the “rift”,

Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down; past dark, shapeless, undreamed dreams, faintly glowing spheres that may have been partly dreamed dreams, and laughing winged things that seemed to mock the dreamers of all the worlds. Then a rift seemed to open in the darkness before him, and he saw the city of the valley, glistening radiantly far, far below, with a background of sea and sky, and a snow-capped mountain near the shore.

skip down

But three nights afterward Kuranes came again to Celephaïs. As before, he dreamed first of the village that was asleep or dead, and of the abyss down which one must float silently; then the rift appeared again, and he beheld the glittering minarets of the city, and saw the graceful galleys riding at anchor in the blue harbour, and watched the gingko trees of Mount Aran swaying in the sea-breeze.

and

XXIX. Nostalgia

Once every year, in autumn’s wistful glow,
The birds fly out over an ocean waste,
Calling and chattering in a joyous haste
To reach some land their inner memories know.
Great terraced gardens where bright blossoms blow,
And lines of mangoes luscious to the taste,
And temple-groves with branches interlaced
Over cool paths—all these their vague dreams shew.

They search the sea for marks of their old shore—
For the tall city, white and turreted—
But only empty waters stretch ahead,
So that at last they turn away once more.
Yet sunken deep where alien polyps throng,
The old towers miss their lost, remembered song.

a sunken city, the city waits for them too, I don’t like it when people give me presents, faking it, for a minute or two, in that moment, Wayne always appreciates more cash, The City In The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe, Lo! Death has reared himself a throne, J.R.R. Tolkien, no Usher-ness, Little Princess Mee, Shap = Shaper (dream) or shop, profound, where the sea meets the sky, “Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down”, and “Endlessly down the horsemen floated, their chargers pawing the aether as if galloping over golden sands; and then the luminous vapours spread apart to reveal a greater brightness, the brightness of the city Celephaïs, and the sea-coast beyond, and the snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky.”, a dream written down, keep reading the same story over and over again, Paul’s map (or depiction) of Celephais, Campaign Cartographer, inspired to art, the abandoned village is Innsmouth, a river running through it, a completely inverted vision, ancient atavism vs. beauty and a new golden age, steering into The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Carter once knew Kuranes in waking life, Carter knows me, the more muscular adventurer, all around the Dreamlands, the infection of dream travel, Kuranes’ last name is Trevor, a hit of this hookah, back to reality, back to childhood, The Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, exiled to reality, better off in the real world, the reverse, Wayne June’s audiobooks for Thomas Shap and Celephaïs, a dream fiction collection, have them all together, at your terrible job, retire to the sea-coast and go for a sleep walk, read it on your own.

Celephais - illustration from Marvel Tales, May 1934

Celephais illustrated by Alva Rogers from The Acolyte, Issue 10, Spring 1945

Celephais adapted by Jason Thompson

Celephais by H.P. Lovecraft - illustration by Jesse

Celephais map by Paul Weimer

Celephais by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Celephais - illustration by Jason "Mockman" Thompson

Posted by Jesse Willis