The SFFaudio Podcast #629 – Rastignac The Devil by Philip José Farmer – read by Gregg Margarite for LibriVox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 Hour 58 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Will Emmons, and Trish E. Matson.
Talked about on today’s show:
Fantastic Universe, May 1954, no illustrations, a French publication, big long mustache, lion statue, a spirit coming out of the lion, all metaphorical, or a particular satire, an elaborate joke, would make a great cartoon, Fords and Renaults with feet, my Renaut is tired, interesting and imaginative, only for students of the genre, not a good entry point, unlikeable characters, exploring ideas in a jokey way, a satire of a certain thing, a little piece of history, 19th century French adventure literature, The Three Musketeers, making fun of or having fun with, the playful joking, more exploration, particular institutions, Jesse is not an expert on the French Revolution, pre-revolutionary France, the three institutions, political points, non-political points, the last three paragraphs, bad news for Trish and Will, Skin, a substitute for a conscience, Candide by Voltaire, the old evil of alcohol, they plunged into the whirlpool, the discussion philosophical, front loading the infodump, this is a novel but I can’t sell it as a novel, Christopher Paul Carey, this is in the public domain, not happy with it, enough material, more material than The Green Odyssey, a stock for a soup, The Lovers, 1952, the parent of the bug-woman, New Gaul, the Beautiful Land, why there’s so much material here, the Israeli Confederation, what makes the story work, her stuff is in Hebrew, true history that was corrupted devolved knowledge, just another interesting , The Lovers (the 58 page), A Woman A Day, Moth And Rust, World Of Tiers, Barsoom on one level, ancient Greece, Doc Savage, Tarzan, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, always exploring some sort of cool idea, how to knit it together, an interesting book, not fully grasped, The Three Musketeers, he says what he means, the skins were our consciences, the French Revolution is happening at the end of this story, I’ve got quite a gloss on that, specifically a Science Fiction story, changelings, a lot of metaphor happening, fairy tale, eating meat turns you violent, unshakeable belief, the openings, after the editorial introduction, Rastignac had no Skin., reading aloud in your inner mind, having no skin and being happy, deep underground, very very very playful, why are you telling us all this, pulling the rug out from under you every sentence, wordplay, see what the consequences of that are, the King’s Muckateers, three prison escapes is illegal, a chronic stiff neck, his philosophy of violence, an attack on the church, an embrace of the church, what happened to the Church of England, gay priests, atheist priests, we’re all on the same team, Anglican equivalents in Canada, when will the NDP be neo-liberally corrupt, just give it time, everything becomes corrupt and then there’s a revolution, the blood drinking, a metaphor, eternal life through drinking blood, Catholics, not eating meat is common in religions, not made explicit enough, Jesse doubts he’s not smart enough, watching Spaceballs and never having seen Star Wars, Blazing Saddles vs. Men In Tights, Jesse feels like Worf in Sherwood Forest, I am not a merry man, a canon of these kinds of stories, not good at limiting himself to one thing, The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg, just read it as an amusing little jaunt, planetary romance, generations later, different planet, the downed spaceman, a promise unfulfilled, with the six ships in the sky orbiting, why six?, that number is to refer to something, what’s happening in France today, why their culture is so heavily effected, how long a legacy, wash over, a dutch standup, something wrong with the text, ebook editions, Despoilers Of The Golden Empire by Randall Garrett, a spaceborn retelling of the conquest of Mexico, Star Trek, they’re obviously inferior, thus died Francisco Pizarro, there’s no such thing as spoiling it, Frank Kelly Freas, they didn’t believe in spoilers back then, we cant even tell them apart, it writes itself, a good science fiction metaphor gets behind your defenses in a way direct assaults can’t, that’s a metaphor, what is the philosophy of violence, lenient government that allows underground cells, literally laissez-faire, what’s true, free speech vs. actually killing people vs. overthrowing institutions, fish not meat, his buddy, Ssassaror, the changeling thing, residential schools, there’s no exchange, a kind of critique of religion, a Voltaire like character, revialed, exiled and revered, something very basic, daring to be a revolutionary, a free speech system, rejecting the church, rejecting the skin, its a vampire, acting like a parent, a superego, alcohol, in vino veritas, he’s got a skinful, glimpses of light, pre-revolutionary France, powerful church, distant king, nobody’s the good guy, Jesse doesn’t get it, Lusine, husband trying to abandon his native wife, he’s attracted to her because he’s repulsed by her, irredeemable, a conversation that absolved her of her sins, supporting her father, Rastignac’s approval, she’s deranged throughout the entire story, Jesse doesn’t even get the title, cognac, we don’t feel alcoholism, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, perfectly, special attention, its actually a satire of temperance, the long legacy of temperance, teetotaling, much better understood, on the head of a keg of alcohol, not an accident, best understood through the light of his excuse, he blames it all on alcohol, a real phenomenon, who’s responsible?, AA, the higher power is attached to your body, created by the government and tended by scientists, is alcohol the devil, Balzac uses Rastignac in a number of stories, a letter that’s me talking about…, perfectly enjoyable on its own, the car chase, infodump vs. action, the jump button, an elite car, Renault because its funny, he’s just playin, people who are in cultures, eternal things, everything is cultural, mutable, a linguistic expert…,
Everybody knew the Church had been outlawed a long time ago because it opposed the use of the Skins and certain other practices that went along with it. So, no sooner had that been done than the Ssassarors, anxious to establish their check-and-balance system, had made arrangements through the Minister of Ill-Will to give the Church unofficial legal recognizance.
who are they, do they have to be anyone?, the Minister of Ill-Will, accuracy in naming?, the containment strategy, if you want to go to Oxford you have to become an Anglican, dilutes the meaning, religious whackjobiness, a more honest system, the government persecutor, Ministry of War, in our self-deluded society, the Ministry of Defense, the War Department, truth in the naming, we won’t launch any aggressive wars, unk-unks, Secretary of Defense, sec-def, just going to the meeting is the corruption, we end up where we are, a news report about all the wars, it just doesn’t happen anymore, isn’t that interesting, an interesting point he’s making, Jesse feels it but doesn’t fully grok it, Jesse wishes there was a podcast that could totally explain it, Will is still trying to grok it, LibriVox, Heel, it needs to be brought to the surface, Easter eggs, a narrative you can enjoy, a bit of fun, this should be longer vs. this should be shorter, almost none of it goes deeper, an amazing dystopian device, biology, an amazing novel, a trilogy or a series, wrong skin, half skin, linked to all the other skins, its brilliant, its your culture, how that even happened, getting that idea into the SF arena, you have to wear this parasite, that he never calls it out like a parasite, interesting effects, biological adjustment, Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, “Rastignac was sure… something”, it is definitely something, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, amazing scenes, building up a world, he doesn’t have a good explanation, he’s a seat of his pants guy, a core reveal, a Philip K. Dick short story, an amazing thing (and then there’s nothing), everybody dies and wakes up in Riverworld, a metaphor for being born on Earth, Hermann Goering, Mark Twain, this caveman dude, Richard Burton, no satisfactory reveal, genes wanna make more genes is not narratively interesting (it is narratively sad), free floating as true (even though it was false), how many Riverworld books, offered him too much money so he wrote book 5, what the point, ethical aliens, reach enlightenment and join this oversoul, hints, The Dark Design, a pointless war, a point about war, the blimp woman, the only queer character in any Philip Jose Farmer story, has dated Jack London before, secret truth, this book has no point, the ending of Rastignac is really good, so condensed, it needed to be way longer, curlicues and ornate spins, interesting vs. amazing, what people say about The Lovers, everyone looks like a sphinx and is a hermaphrodite, 1950s, 1960s, Joe Lansdale, Farmer’s electric brain, had Farmer submitted a script to Star Trek, a fanzine article, every week you got to a new planet (unless there’s a space anomaly), the planet of the counting coup black people, the plains Indians and the Moors, how do you deal with a culture that’s different, the presenting of a weird culture, because of his electric brain, the angst driving Farmer’s writing, he’s wearing the skin, I’ve been a god this whole time, The Rebels Unthawed, The Shadow Of Space, if you go really fast you gain mass, bigger than the universe, Sketches Among The Ruins Of My Mind, Farmerphile, issue 9, gems within,
Rastignac became brisk. He said, “We go to your castle, Giant. We use your smithy to put sharp points on our swords, points to slide through a man’s body from front to back. Don’t pale! That is what we must do. And then we pick up your goose that lays the golden eggs, for we must have money if we are to act efficiently. After that, we buy—or steal—a boat and we go to wherever the Earthman is held captive. And we rescue him. “And then?” said Lusine, her eyes shining with emotion.
“What you do then will be up to you. But I am going to leave this planet and voyage with the Earthman to other worlds.”
Silence. Then Mapfarity said, “Why leave here?”
“Because there is no hope for this land. Nobody will give up his Skin. Le Beau Pays is doomed to a lotus-life. And that is not for me.”
Archambaud jerked a thumb at the Amphib girl. “What about her people?”
“They may win, the water-people. What’s the difference? It will be just the exchange of one Skin for another. Before I heard of the landing of the Earthman I was going to fight no matter what the cost to me or inevitable defeat. But not now.”
Mapfarity’s rumble was angry. “Ah, Jean-Jacques, this is not my comrade talking. Are you sure you haven’t swallowed your Skin? You talk as if you were inside-out. What is the matter with your brain? Can’t you see that it will indeed make a difference if the Amphibs get the upper hand? Can’t you see who is making the Amphibs behave the way they have been?”
Rastignac urged the Renault towards the rose-colored lacy castle high upon a hill. The vehicle trotted tiredly along the rough and narrow forest path.
Philip K. Dick fun stuff, this is a scene from something that’s been re-imagined, this is an adventure story, a noisy car, dense and foggy, a very peaceful planet, stealing of babies is fine, because they don’t have alcohol?, a whole lot of levels, wanna mess up your life go to the bar and get in a barfight, liberté, égalité, fraternité, why is the Earth woman in this story?, a common plot element, it doesn’t need to be here, it doesn’t add anything to the story, that leads to a way off, spark a revolution, a chinwag about stuff, he started a riot, a promise of more alcohol?, where’s the evidence for that?, that would just be amazing, how to accept the skins, a classic of science fiction (in terms of ideas), adopt our ways, a YA Farmer book, super-rich and yet not satisfactory, a psychedelic art comic or cartoon art style, re-imagine it, very visual, without any piece of art to guide us, a LEGO line, very appealing to children of all ages, epees, rapiers, a coach Renault with a working jump button, a rosy coloured lacy castle, the underground cell set, the greatest LEGO movie ever, LEGO New Gaul, with so many good ideas, alas, but still, Trish would like to recommend a complete inversion of this story, Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin, becoming uninhabitable, centuries later…, live cooperatively and save the planet, these people are crazy they’re bad they’re obviously inferior and you need to leave”, on Audible, standalone, generally a recommendation, people are paying attention to this story, The Blasphemers, Phil is really neurotic about religion, semi-autobiographical reflections about things, have the children going to church, Phil’s lifelong battle with predestination and Hell (being traumatizing), trying to find a way to relate, Farmer almost became a Scientologist, you have to leave your wife, Sufi stuff, an extended metaphor for some aspect of Sufism, semi-podcasting life, be interesting, be interested, he’s writing stuff for sale but that’s only half of the reason he’s writing it, he was always working on something, working on your philosophical ideas, ambivalent about religion, fascinated and always searching, uniquely American, specifically intensified in American life, religious freedom, fractalization of churches, some weird religion is starting up, Falun Gong, New York, propaganda newspaper, the counter arm of the anti-Chinese government.
Talked about on today’s show:
the novel, the movie, Black Destroyer by A.E. van Vogt, Planet Of The Vampires, It: The Terror From Beyond Space, A.E. van Vogt’s Voyage Of the Space Beagle, a remake?, not the same story, a ripoff, Aliens (1986), a scene by scene recreation, every scene in Alien is also in Aliens, a climbing-in, a precious living thing, the countdown, “you now have four minutes”, written the same way, the same language, a betrayal, its not the robot, the company betrays them again (the same motivation), Dallas egg banks, the cocoon scene, there’s nothing in Aliens that isn’t in Alien, Prometheus (2012) rips off alien six ways to Sunday, Ridley Scott only has one story, exploding ships, a betrayal by the android, Easter Sunday, an Easter Egg hunt, we can’t escape the story, the reason it all works, the movie is astounding, Captain Marvel (2019), delete from human consciousness, the essential gothic character, William Gibson’s script for Alien 3, Audible’s audio drama of Alien 3, the comic script, the Wolverine podcast, David Fincher, some ideas, all the Christ imagery, a point it can’t support, a great egg hunt, the Gothic roots, a haunted house, the practical escape, all the horrible things that are happening are all true, a haunted ship, Ash is Mother’s loyal servant, Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, Sulaco, the tip-off, money, haunted house logic, low up the haunted house (in American gothic), family secrets and deviant sexuality, juicy Freudian goodness, white fluid, various forms of rape, Parker’s nest, pornography on the walls, pornography magazine, paralleled by what happened earlier in the film, and what happens next, how well thought through everything is, differences, that liquid spurting, a robot, a political flavour, the last great 1970s sci-fi movie, a labour movie, compensation, Karel Čapek, a seamen’s story, space truckers, truckers vs. seamen, merchant marine, a share system, getting that ship to shore, delivering oil, a banality to their presence in space, they’re not explorers, they’re not scientists, they’re workers, they’re not colonists, even more explicit, Dan O’Bannon’s script, the destruction sequence, tweeting out lines and screenshots, singing a little song, lucky star, the HORROR of the breathing, the HORROR of the body, contrasted with Star Wars and Star Trek, a working class and dirty future, the grunts, the Company, they’re murderers, they’re scum!, part of the power of the film, more an more unequal, more and more plutocratic, how many years passed, still trying to make a super-weapon, the textural feel of it, the computer interactions, shoulder patches, badges, coffee cups, beer cans, little details, that world-building, Aliens was filmed in the UK, Weyland-Yutani, British-Japanese, we’re living in that trans-national corporation future, registered out of the Solomon Islands, Antarctica, none of it comes as a surprise, they presumably know, surprises in a legitimate way, that breathing, the last 20 minutes, breathing and running and sweating, you become her, there’s no datadump or infodump, ratcheting up the tensions, characters, setting, meeting their demise, a shriek and its gone, Lambert, harsh and different, one key theme is body-horror, squirm-inducing, Roger Corman, Inseminoid (1981), H.R. Giger, how horrible the aliens can be, a worm under human skin, embracing what you fear, cuddle with it, Stephen King writes so much horror because he’s so afraid, Danse Macabre, Foster didn’t have access to the film, THE THING looked like the hand of a skeleton, The Thing, very Campbellian, lifting from Lovecraft, In The Walls Of Eryx, a horror guy, a science fiction guy, a weird fiction guy, disrespect of man as a being, the original script, religious icons in the derelict, tentacles, the same plot as Alien, Mars, very similar, the ship acts more like a submarine, being confined to the ship, it looks very high budget, they use the bridge twice, they use the mess hall twice, they’re getting their value for money, a Heinleinian-style rocketship, every surplus WWII weapon, a bazooka, pineapple grenades, a crewful of men and two women, these women scientists are serving lunch, they have some sort of a relationship, what happens in Alien, as it appears in the film, women have become equal, all of the characters are very similar, riggghht, we didnt think they were going to change the lead, kickass women leads, a whole new industry of slasher movies, we don’t know Ellen Ripley is the lead character until they’res no one else left, Sleepaway Camp (1983), final girl, the plot of Alien had already happened at the beginning of the movie, 10 Little Indians style, connecting back, they mimic us, her name is Ripley… believe it or not, the gendering of this, a mini Bechdel test, reducing genders, we get those anyway, when Lambert is attacked, overtly sexual, overtly biological, even worse, the scariness, pregnancy makes Kane very hungry, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, Planet Of The Vampires (1965), Mario Bava, Black Sunday (1960), space madness, awful and brilliant, the navigator scene, the costumes, the colour is so lurid, fantastic!, the gender play, a scene missing from the book, the space-jockey, in and out, the book’s ending, it sits in your mind, this is and is not explained, it seems to be growing out of the chair, the bio-mechanical idea, blending into the machinery, Aliens Vs. Predator, the life-cycle of the alien, Farscape, Babylon 5, the vorlons, truly alien, its not THE alien, is it a noun or an adjective, it doesn’t tell you what is going on, Alien 2 (1980), The Thing (2011) the prequel, this circularity, the actress is trying to escape this endless cycle, Caligula, Sisyphean, the same horror, saving (Davy) Jones, killing the cat, a whole thing with screenwriters, cats are predators, ship’s cat, killing all the mice, its just what they do, the cat and the alien looking at each other, humans not at the top of the food-chain, the cat is a stand-in for us, what are they doing there?, for the pure science, all about the science, Ian Holm, Bilbo is the badguy, Big Night (1996), he would have made the best dreamer, hinted at or explicit, petroleum engineer, one more Gothic theme, death and decay, a celebration of entropy, less energy in the system, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, all that wealth, any vampire story, 7 canisters of cn-20, Hudson is Parker, nuke the entire site from orbit, Burke, a substantial dollar value attached to it, the true enemy, a goddamned percentage, Burke, Ash, Easter, the true enemy is not the alien, a manager, a desolate planet, Tumbbad (2018), a period horror film, the terror of money, back to Conrad, The Secret Sharer, the literary roots are substantial, Dan O’Bannon, Dark Star, hard science fiction, the landing sequence, Aliens as an action film (Rossatron), cornbread, a last supper, the food’s not that bad, genuine shock, scream queen, Veronica Cartwright, frozen, the horror, not a fault, seeing it in the theaters, ushers were fainting, leaving the theater to vomit, Bryan saw it the opening weekend, May 1979, running from the theater, a simpler time, visually shocking, its a chicken egg, the posters are lame, hiding everything, the music, what is this?, Blade Runner (1982), Vintage Season by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner, Blue Thunder (1983), helicopter genre, a show built around a car, Magnum, P.I., subversive, about surveillance, innovative and interesting, Roy Scheider, Space Vampires by Colin Wilson, Lifeforce (1985), Return Of The Living Dead (1985), Total Recall (1990), Screamers (1995), Second Variety by Philip K. Dick, Bleeders (1997), The Lurking Fear by H.P. Lovecraft, Heavy Metal (1981), the professional reviewers didn’t like it, the current aesthetic, Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, a problem for a lot of reviewers, perfect for a young person, look at me aren’t I horrific, the wonders that some things present irrespective to what you bring to judging them, such an amazing experience, following politics for a living makes you wrong about everything, feeling the temperature of reality, foolish professionalism invades everything, invading academia, what they want, a model in your mind of what needs to be there, being open to things, corporatism, the faceless (inhuman) faces of the company, it can’t care it can’t love it’s perfect like the monster, “Jesse, you admire it, don’t you?” “He admires its purity.”, a cat named Ash, the fluffiest nicest cat, blending horror and science fiction, rip-offs, Event Horizon (1997), lost footage in Romania, Dead Space, Halo, Mass Effect, Leviathan (DLC for Mass Effect 3), Alien: Isolation, DLC Crew Expendable, recreating the whole set for the game, so terrifying, VR on PlayStation 4, Doom: Alien TC, shareware, The Expanse, The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling, eject myself, exhausting, a workout, the opening, doing novelizations, the start, written in three weeks, “You must understand”, dreaming professionally, most organized of all artists, he’s talking about writing novelizations, Splinter In The Mind’s Eye, how you end up reading novelizations, you’re rejected because you’re too young, the W.H. Smith’s, reading novelizations out of spite, denied, the power of books, books are less censorable, why Jesse loves ThePirateBay.org so much, spending so much time in second hand bookstores, serial killer books, a way to avoid censorship of parents and society, society, not even the government, a ratings board, cartel, how the Comics Code Authority worked too, the way the internet’s going, certain things are unacceptable, we get crushed like the crew, an escape, thoughts beyond Alien, so fun, thank you!
Talked about on today’s show:
2008, a children’s book, hardcover, a book for kids, better than most adult books, Neverwhere, Coraline, who hates Neil Gaiman?, Sandman, pictures slow it down, he didn’t feel competent, a genuine classic, character and sentences, crafting language, the wisdom of his prose, insights into basic human beings, you know its true, his evil characters, thinking about The Jungle Book, he started with chapter 4, MouseCircus.com,
“We were young, and very poor. The rooms I was renting above a shop were in a building tall and spindly and old. The kitchen and lounge were on one floor, a bedroom and my office and a bathroom on the next, and, at the top of the house, there was a big attic bedroom, and a low, long room in which an adult could barely stand up straight and in which there was a crib and a playpen. My son, Michael, who was two years old, loved his tricycle more than anything, but there was nowhere to ride it in the house, not without him tumbling down the stairs, so I would carry him and his tricycle across the narrow lane to the grounds of the local church, and he would pedal around to his heart’s content, and I would sit and read a book in the sunshine, and watch him, and look at the grey gravestones, names half-erased by time, and marvel at how comfortable a child looks in a graveyard. That was where it started. I’ll call it The Graveyard Book, I thought. Like Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.”
listening to it, ghoulheim, there it is!, the monkey scene with Mowgli, Silas is Bagheera and Ms. Lupescu is Baloo, the tribute to Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, the rubberfaced night gaunts, something Lovecraft dreamt as child, they became his friends, they tickle you, creepy and wonderful, chew off any meat left on the bones, tip-up the lead-lined coffin and all the juices, when the angles were wrong, a city built to be abandoned, just as odd, to find the equivalent, King Louis, the Emperor Of China, the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman is a ghoul, the full cast version, recorded in a Minnesota radio station, so fantastic a narrator, no better author narrator, Gaiman’s reading of Coraline, Scott Danielson, a boy story and a girl story, The New Mother by Lucy Clifford, Heather Ordover, the CraftLit podcast, very insightful, The Count Of Monte Cristo, a man and woman in a box, glass eyes and a wooden tail, the cycle repeats three times, never naughty enough, live on berries, worse than the Other Mother, children in Hell, where Coraline came from, no redemption, no mercy, fairy-tale-like, very Neverwhere-ish, has he ever written a book that isn’t about gods, regular Neil Gaiman stuff, the Endless, is there a god in this book?, who is the grey lady on the grey mare?, she’s Death, the sickle and the hood, The Old Gray Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, the Hounds of God, Romanian soup, boiled cabbage is kinda a good, eating Twinkies, Mr Lupescu by Anthony Boucher, Mr Jim Moon’s Hypnogoria (Hypnobobs) podcast, Neil Gaiman’s breadth of reading, Mr Jesse, macabre (macabray), imaginary friends, Thus I Refute Beelzy by John Collier, Scarlet has an imaginary friend, Scarlet’s story is a mini-version of this story, a kid romance, the angry teenager, play houses, meany, totally girl, so cute, very brave, going into the dark, five years old, before Julie was 3, barely remember yesterday, summer used to last several years, the perception of time, how you could get bored really easily, the world is so boring, tapped into the youth, the Sandman series, the conference of the Jacks, serial killer convention, where is Silas going?, he’s like Gandalf, standard mean horrible character, time-traveling hit-men, Connie Willis, the characters that work, there’s the deepness, Jack Frost is Shere Khan, fresh, very fresh, quite refreshing, the comic book adaptation, some of the art in here, Jill Thompson, P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, the scale is bigger, the horizon is bigger, the ghouls, comic gross humans, monkey creepy horrible awful, the sleer, Gaiman gives you the outline and then you fill it in, the Indigo Man, the broach, the graveyard, the antique shop, super complementary, look how Silas dominates the room, there’s never a haircut scene, so intriguing, why does he hang out in this graveyard, knowledge of the prophecy?, the whole plot is way less important, why is the Danse Macabre in this?, Death is so beautiful, living forever, the living with the dead, each to each, names aren’t really important, find his name, one day everybody does, how come death’s so cool?, really smart, what’s true and what do we need to remember, the dead should have charity, Elizabeth Hempstock, Toomai of the Elephants, referential, winter flowers, we’ve crossed worlds, within generations enough, the other book that was homework, A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle, Beagle’s narration, ended up perfect, brought to life, ride that raven, they are both stories about a human living in a graveyard and they are fantasies, very gentle and slow, it could have been a little bit shorter, he made his case for all the relationships, overcoming fears, only 19 when he wrote it, mature, living a fantasy world life, a raven, taking some inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Ezekiel in the desert, a loose connection, the raven is what kept him there, psychopomp, a real personality, a ride in a back of a truck with a squirrel, set somewhere in England, so rich, find some weird house, adventures in her back yard, fully realized, how stiking is it that 10 year old kids and adults can enjoy it and not be lost, Coraline is not as amazing as this book, aimed at the children’s market, 188 pages for $10 US, images conjured by the book, no description of the lines on his face, the relationship has to Bod (she’s not going to eat him), it takes a (graveyard) village, out of time, his parents are almost the least interesting characters in the book, the poet who punished all his enemies by refusing to write his poems for the public, from my cold dead hand, kinda like Scrooge, some Lord Of The Rings stuff, the broach the knife and the cup, the Sleer is awesome, Elidor by Alan Garner, a family of jerks, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, a sword, a spear, a bowl, and an anvil, escaping into a fantasy world while you’re a kid, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, weaving in true history, he liked the roads, Celtic mythology, the ring connection, the barrow wights from The Fellowship Of The Ring, Jesse’s Roof Bear calendar, there has to be rules behind stuff to make it interesting, Roof Bear can’t leave the roof, Ghost Horse is waiting for his master to return, lifting from the Sleer?, children’s adventures, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, fun stuff for kids (and for Jesse), remembering the sort of fun you had as a kid, we don’t get to play house anymore, the pretend has a lot of value, mud pies, hanging out in childhood, beautiful, children and grandchildren, so Christmas becomes magic again, that acknowledgement, Bod’s getting too old, talking to Mother Slaughter, you’re always you and that don’t change, truth, I’m still me, that double memory, one of those profound things, LEGO robotics on Apple II computers (LEGO Logo), you really do loose something, its impossible, something you loose and yet retain the memory of it, Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, the head key, take out memories, the gender key, you forget, exploring a big old house, a menace, it works in the same way, brilliant and well worth reading, The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, 1984 by George Orwell, “Christ, Marx, Wood, and Wei”, very 1984, The Giver by Lois Lowry, a remake, the witch chapter, time in libraries, what forms your imagination, what tempts Bod is an apple, wish I’d left…, the groundskeeper’s pile of grass, she’s just a girl (who was murdered), “then I did my death curse”, when Bod falls out of his crib, a pile of plush toys, a nice doubling, do this kind thing, sends him out into danger, all the influences, nothing is forced, the mechanisms of writing, a six sentence story, all unconscious, it feels very natural, I want the magic, it takes him years and years, Tolkien: there were all these Catholic things in there, a good book, a good movie, what Neil Gaiman can do, just crafting your work, a lot of it is unconscious, an apple orchard, seeing things evolving, re-reading is not Jesse’s thing, when you run out you have to go back, re-watching, all these little things, Julie’s project, have they earned my shelf space?, deep in our cultural unconscious, 43 Bollywood movies last year, legal/police/moral situations, western culture branched-off, vengeance is looked at very differently, cultural thinking, shocked and taken-aback, northern Europe is full of apple trees, a ghost outside, Good book, what’s Ace barking at?, thought-yells, a Man Jack in the yard, a fun read.
The SFFaudio Podcast #511 – The Canal by Everil Worrell; read by Wayne June. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (53 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, December 1927, a vampire story, H.P. Lovecraft, an alternative version of the story’s ending, dynamite vs. a wooden sword, Wikisource, The James Dickey, white caps on the canal, low key, that bitch is getting it, where’s the dynamite?, no secret cavern only opened by a , have I got dementia?, the April 1935 reprint, the Night Gallery half hour TV adaptation, fix Skype, Leonard Nimoy’s directorial debut, shooting day for night, very dream like, 1960s westerns, as bright as daylight, Lesley Ann Warren smokin’ hot, so sexually provocative, her middle name is cleavage, drunk this other dude, red bedspread, evoking the attraction, essentially a skeleton, a heart shaped face, she’s bony, a very well written student, the amount of poetic techniques she uses, super-high level, I didn’t intend that to be poetry, writing a very long suicide note, all these ppp sounds, repetition, the last ravings of a madman, the thing I shall have done, where did the changes come from?, her father has a giant stake, stab me with your giant wooden stake, that’s a lot of symbolism there, do we think that Everil Worrel made those changes?, the whole heroic aspect, in one fell swoop, drama, toned down, beef up the ending?, paid by the word, a Hollwood Blockbuster ending, the camp invasion, bitten by rats, he’s killing everybody, do all the people in the camp die?, infected, he’s a little hard to follow, everybody’s going to die, whoever did this was a monster, a cargo of death, when she first became the thing she is, expiation, redemption, atonement, a very Catholic Christian religious word, it isn’t so much about the girl, the narrator is very Lovecraftian, he loves to be alone, not afraid to being hanging out alone in the dark, meditating in graveyards, night walks, driving out to the countryside, in Paris?, along its left bank?, every canal has a left bank (and a right bank too), fallen into disuse, the River Walk in San Antonio, “Morton”, Hyacinth is slightly better than Lily, she’s telepathic, his name is “Ron”, fishmongers, easier to fit into a half hour, some of the leaps, the 1927 illustration by Hugh Rankin, grease-pencil, a flapper haircut, a dance move, giant bats, “Loathsome shapes flapped through the night along the way that led to the pleasure camps.”, a roadster, a motorboat, early fall?, he’s already got a whole lifestyle going, that smell, what’s going on with the dilapidated buildings, these aren’t gypsies exactly, a recreational thing?, a portable brothel?, pleasure is a weird word, “She’s a vampire. A vampire!, VAMPIRES!”, the storm had a rock hit him in the head, feasting, the more minimal ending, we have to infer how she got there, she commands him to carry her, my father is deaf and he sleeps soundly, metaphors, he sleeps by night, not lying, you sleep soundly, a pique in my voice, always at different times, on guard, she ate a child, the father has to kill her, the father’s story, maybe the father died after?, imagining the backstory, lonely places, she’s an attraction he’d never felt before, a mossy gravestone, did the father invent all that?, global pandemic, I’ve read Dracula, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, making explicit, one of the few vampire stories in which the narrator is familiar with vampire fiction, running water, the rules, meta-context, genre saavy, two different subgengres, a Robert E. Howard ending, the shorter version is rather Edgar Allan Poe like, which did Lovecraft read, a strong echo of Hypnos and The Hound, one is enthralled to another, ending in the night side of the city, where the nice people don’t go, so many echoes, a city at night, Fungi From Yuggoth was written in December 1929 to early 1930, The Call Of Cthulhu, maybe August Derleth “improved” it, The Grove of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, Dagon, the plunger, the plunger!, not better, more poignant, pointy sword, why is he carrying around a wooden sword?, the wooden sword, decapitated with a Bowie knife, a fudge between the two, The Canal by H.P. Lovecraft, January 1938, Somewhere in dream there is an evil place
Where tall, deserted buildings crowd along
A deep, black, narrow channel, reeking strong
Of frightful things whence oily currents race.
Lanes with old walls half meeting overhead
Wind off to streets one may or may not know,
And feeble moonlight sheds a spectral glow
Over long rows of windows, dark and dead.
There are no footfalls, and the one soft sound
Is of the oily water as it glides
Under stone bridges, and along the sides
Of its deep flume, to some vague ocean bound.
None lives to tell when that stream washed away
Its dream-lost region from the world of clay.
oil, inspired by Worrell, there’s no vampire lady, more architecture based than lady based, less Poey than Frank Lloyd Wrighty, no trace of oil, an image you would think of, like scum, mental oil, Richard Corben’s adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Canal, a mystery city, The Music Of Eric Zann, these mystery cities, a great name for a guy who loves death, poems with this imagery, a river, a canal, or a stream, What The Moon Brings, I hate the moon, The Nightmare Lake, the corpse of a god, a tarn, so brutal, the slime beneath the unmoving waters of the canal, a slimy muddy expanse, The Crawling Chaos, his horror nightmares, The Night Ocean by R.H. Barlow and H.P. Lovecraft, to rest a weary mind, the same psychology, The Lake, the most wondrous delight, which version, from Tamarlane And Other Poems,
In youth’s spring, it was my lot
To haunt of the wide earth a spot
The which I could not love the less;
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound.
And the tall pines that tower’d around.
But when the night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot — as upon all,
And the wind would pass me by
In its stilly melody,
My infant spirit would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.
Yet that terror was not fright —
But a tremulous delight,
And a feeling undefin’d,
Springing from a darken’d mind.
Death was in that poison’d wave
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his dark imagining;
Whose wild’ring thought could even make
An Eden of that dim lake.
almost not dark enough to be Poe until the last quarter, a children’s book of Poe’s poems for children, Annabelle Lee, The Loved Dead, a ghostly couple hovering over that lake, two ghosts rather than one, place and fate, I could care less, which vs. witch, under a spell, wild bewildering, bound, Archibald Lampman, multi-valence, bound = tied up = springing = the boundary, this is a suicide note, his youngest young, solace homophone with soul-less, a very Poe poem, the horror of existence, the tremulous delight, that’s night fright or cold, that’s excitement, an amazing suicide note to give to kids to read, all the virtues of suicide, parent teacher meetings, no suicides yet, keeping things in the open, sometimes people go nuts, you need to talk to a doctor, the May 1953 issue of Weird Tales has a letter from Everil Worrell saying how much she enjoyed Lovecraft’s writing, The Supreme Witch, Slime is terrific, cosmic and spatial about the dark ocean, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, The Raft, The Egyptian, The Dream Merchant, agree with Lovecraft’s detractors, Lovecraft vocabulary, “foul mephitic vapours”, horrific ululations, it wasn’t so much Lovecraft did but how he did it, a really good mom, you can be a horrible monster loving graveyard sniffing weirdo and also be a good mom, it gives Wayne hope, you’re going to love The Loved Dead, such a delight to read, so extreme, its not going to show you, on the corpse board, and he’s a serial killer too, Kissed (1996), We So Seldom Look On Love, a tasteful necrophiliac film, actors to play the corpses, a letter story from a 13 year old girl, in love with the corpses, freaky deaky, everybody needs some body to love, the puns about necrophilia.
The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 36 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Wayne June
Talked about on today’s show:
aunt?, ownt?, The London Mercury, April 1922, H.P. Lovecraft, pretty damn interesting, is it a ghost story?, Robert Aickman, Fontana Book Of Ghost Stories (Volume 1), M.R. James,, E.F. Benson, Thomas Liggoti, is it a vampire story?, a very successful ghost story, is it a witchcraft story?, necromancy, psychic vampirism, all about mood and sustaining a mood, atmospheric, very, creepiness sneaks in, chills up and down the spine,
“Deserving of distinguished notice as a forceful craftsman to whom an unseen mystic world is ever a close and vital reality is the poet Walter de la Mare, whose haunting verse and exquisite prose alike bear consistent traces of a strange vision reaching deeply into veiled spheres of beauty and terrible and forbidden dimensions of being.”
in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, rumors about an ancient castle under which is a conclave of demons, not truckle with psychological fudging, real life stories, never tipped over the abyss, a feeling of being haunted, the weight of disbelief, monster,
“Of the shorter tales, of which several volumes exist, many are unforgettable for their command of fear’s and sorcery’s darkest ramifications; notably Seaton’s Aunt, in which there lowers a noxious background of malignant vampirism”
Shades Of Darkness adaptation, 9/10ths close to the book, a big switcheroo, switching the roles, dialogue from the story, adaptations are people interpreting, interpretive decisions, the girl Alice, more life to her at the beginning, the casting, what a role, a role of a lifetime, no eating, a mountain of a woman vs. doll-like, that thin and hungry look, her hair, a wig, dark hair, all this history, how intense people are, things going on, the number of parallel things that are happening, the first meeting the second meeting, the school, the strand, creepier, it feels like an actual memoir, weary of for no good reason, Withers, why is he telling this story, a chapter in a memoir, not very good person, Seaton’s not perfect, maybe this aunt is very moral, she does pretty much everything wrong, a huge colossal biotch, from a shit’s point of view, “a creature”, why does she act that way, she’s a prick or in league with the devil, she is a monster (in a any sense of the word), a horrible person, spite, little mind games, this is not Seaton’s story, may ownt, an extraordinary figure, a non-supernatural story, what made a person like this?, maybe she just way to much Lovecraft when she was young, we English, pongo, ape, monkey, bribed every time, some jam, lunch, expensive wine, the everyman, self-involved, does she kill him?, the roles were switched, bells and sparks, that chess scene,
Seaton’s aunt was wearing an extraordinary kind of lace jacket when we sidled sheepishly into the drawing-room together. She greeted me with a heavy and protracted smile, and bade me bring a chair close to the little table.
“I hope Arthur has made you feel at home,” she said, as she handed me my cup in her crooked hand. “He don’t talk much to me; but then I’m an old woman. You must come again, Wither, and draw him out of his shell. You old snail!” She wagged her head at Seaton, who sat munching cake and watching her intently.
his room is full of cages, down at the pond, a dysfunctional family,
“And we must correspond, perhaps.” She nearly shut her eyes at me. “You must write and tell me everything behind the creature’s back.” I confess I found her rather disquieting company. The evening drew on. Lamps were brought in by a man with a nondescript face and very quiet footsteps. Seaton was told to bring out the chess-men. And we played a game, she and I, with her big chin thrust over the board at every move as she gloated over the pieces and occasionally croaked “Check!”—after which she would sit back inscrutably staring at me. But the game was never finished. She simply hemmed me defencelessly in with a cloud of men that held me impotent, and yet one and all refused to administer to my poor flustered old king a merciful coup de grâce.
teaching chess, the aunt and Withers are parallel, Arthur chose him, something of his aunt there, toying and sparing,
“There,” she said as the clock struck ten—”a drawn game, Withers. We are very evenly matched. A very creditable defence, Withers. You know your room. There’s supper on a tray in the dining-room. Don’t let the creature over-eat himself. The gong will sound three-quarters of an hour before a punctual breakfast.” She held out her cheek to Seaton, and he kissed it with obvious perfunctoriness. With me she shook hands.
“An excellent game,” she said cordially, “but my memory is poor, and”—she swept the pieces helterskelter into the box—”the result will never be known.” She raised her great head far back. “Eh?”
It was a kind of challenge, and I could only murmur: “Oh, I was absolutely in a hole, you know!” when she burst out laughing and waved us both out of the room.
immoral behavior, a cloud of men, how she treats her nephew, Withers or Johnson or Wither or Smithers, another dig, tapping into something very British, mirrored, a dishonest narrator, passing judgement on all and sundry, a hideous old beast, she’s not such a bad old stick, a dull stolid chap, what’s expected, a public school attitude, everyone’s a jolly good sort, a mask for bad behavior, a cavalier with the truth, very calculated, foibles of behavior, you are nothing to me, it’s a test, dare you correct an old lady, is she’s too self aware?, if this were a true memoir, they sneak into her room and hide in her closet, too intellectual for her own good, why she’s a miss, about half way through the book,
We turned and walked slowly towards the house, across whose windows I confess my own eyes, too, went restlessly wandering in search of its rather disconcerting inmate. There was a pathetic look of draggledness, of want of means and care, rust and overgrowth and faded paint. Seaton’s aunt, a little to my relief, did not share our meal. Seaton carved the cold meat, and dispatched a heaped-up plate by an elderly servant for his aunt’s private consumption. We talked little and in half-suppressed tones, and sipped a bottle of Madeira which Seaton had rather heedfully fetched out of the great mahogany sideboard.
I played him a dull and effortless game of chess, yawning between the moves he himself made almost at haphazard, and with attention elsewhere engaged. About five o’clock came the sound of a distant ring, and Seaton jumped up, overturning the board, and so ending a game that else might have fatuously continued to this day.
no malice, interpretation, he’s turning into her, becoming more sympathetic to her, my aunt, we lost all our money, fairly obvious, the aunt has spent the inheritance, stopping at the chemists to get rat poison, WHY?, is Seaton trying to kill his aunt?, a half-term holiday, for his own use, another parallel, what’s with the bangle?, only when pirating, a craze for wearing a ring, a craze for wearing bangles, wearing a rubber band as a bangle, a little affectation, a bit of jewelry, more adult, a bit glamorous, to be interesting and opulent, bullying, perfectly horrid, a touch of the tar brush, not white enough, a bit debonair, a bit gypsy,
I can scarcely describe with what curious ruminations I led the way into the faded, heavy-aired dining-room, with this indefinable old creature leaning weightily on my arm—the large flat bracelet on the yellow-laced wrist.
they are isolated, a maiden aunt, a malevolent creature, sometimes people are weird, weird household cultures, lobster mayonnaise, game sausages, the salad is the monster, a gargantuan appetite, you can’t scare me with your ghost stories, I’ll take it, she’s sure to be quite decent to you, code for child sexual abuse, she’s just a woman, does she lie ever?, the eye in the room, is this an Innsmouth story?, a lot of fishy eyes in this story, Irving S. Cobb’s Fishhead, frog boy?, did he go to the pond, or the sea?, her younger brother, she might be being misread, people turning into dust, Seaton is turning into his aunt, something you like to eat, so interesting,
We walked up the village street, past the little dingy apothecary’s and the empty forge, and, as on my first visit, skirted the house together, and, instead of entering by the front door, made our way down the green path into the garden at the back. A pale haze of cloud muffled the sun; the garden lay in a grey shimmer—its old trees, its snap-dragoned faintly glittering walls. But now there was an air of slovenliness where before all had been neat and methodical. In a patch of shallowly-dug soil stood a worn-down spade leaning against a tree. There was an old broken wheelbarrow. The roses had run to leaf and briar; the fruit-trees were unpruned. The goddess of neglect brooded in secret.
the Goddess of neglect, what the hell does that mean?, the whole opposite view of this whole thing, he’s dying, is he digging his own grave?, his way to try to get away, a keen naturalist, he’s making the best of a bad situation, I like wildness, forklift trucks to do her goddamned hair, the keys to his trust fund, salving a scrap of conscience, a bit of a tightfist, the money is running out, nuts and fruit, he doesn’t want to get too fat, tadpoles, between becoming what he’s going to be, the aunt croaks, he will never,
on one memorable occasion went to the length of bestowing on me a whole pot of some outlandish mulberry-coloured jelly that had been duplicated in his term’s supplies. In the exuberance of my gratitude I promised to spend the next half-term holiday with him at his aunt’s house.
expensive madeira, she sounds like a Lovecraft,
She confided in us her views on a theme vaguely occupying at the moment, I suppose, all our minds. “We have barbarous institutions, and so must put up, I suppose, with a never-ending procession of fools—of fools ad infinitum. Marriage, Mr. Withers, was instituted in the privacy of a garden; sub Rosa, as it were. Civilization flaunts it in the glare of day. The dull marry the poor; the rich the effete; and so our New Jerusalem is peopled with naturals, plain and coloured, at either end. I detest folly; I detest still more (if I must be frank, dear Arthur), mere cleverness. Mankind has simply become a tailless host of indistinctive animals. We should never have taken to Evolution, Mr. Withers. ‘Natural Selection!’—little gods and fishes!—the deaf for the dumb. We should have used our brains—intellectual pride, the ecclesiastics call it. And by brains I mean—what do I mean, Alice?—I mean, my dear child”—and she laid two gross fingers on Alice’s narrow sleeve—”I mean courage. Consider it, Arthur. I read that the scientific world is once more beginning to be afraid of spiritual agencies. Spiritual agencies that tap, and actually float, bless their hearts! I think just one more of those mulberries—thank you.
sounding like Thomas Ligotti, everything sucks, the trap of pessimism, a certain truth to it, justification for all manner of barbarity and horror, survival of the fittest, neoliberal morality, atmosphere building, the deaf for the dumb, intellectual pride, what do I mean Alice?, I mean courage, spiritual agencies, an attack on spiritualism, worst wedding toast ever, worst host ever, my child brother died in it, sleep well, how big a deal, another theory, one more of those mulberries, bastard squirrels, almost all vegetation, pop goes the weasel, Babylonian mythology, silkworms, death and rebirth, they spin their own shroud, Seaton should run away, the horse, she never will or she never would, she knows everything we’re doing, is she telepathic?, does she know the boy is buying rat poison?, cages and boxes, a box with a worm in it, role reversal, a switch, something strange happens near the end, off to tea, she calls him Arthur, is that you Arthur?, the ghost of Arthur?, get out, she doesn’t know, she killed him but she doesn’t even know, a voracious appetite, getting psychically fatter, she’s lost her source of food, she’s dying, conversing with the dead, still floating around the house, nothing to feed off anymore, not wholly embodied, that all seeing eye, seeing into other people’s minds, is he first in his class?, maybe if you apply the rules of science it’s almost like she’s in a superposition, the pile of clothes on the floor, the shoes two meters apart pointing at each other, a bundle of clothes, she’s in her room and she’s not in her room, Schrödinger’s Aunt, she’s just a human being, this story does both, a horror story, she’s a vampiric-witch who can talk to ghosts, The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish gold, easy pickings, bottled souls, old shipmates, three new bottles, his yard, moss covered totemic gods from the South Seas, Smithers Withers Johnson, not wholly of this dimension, why she’s so weird, an alien trapped on Earth, she knows she’s a shit, he does the exact same stuff as she does, not of this earth, a tragedy, the whole takeaway, feeling a little guilt, a life tragedy, nothing but a trap, you’re either a feeder or you’re the food, not an Oscar Wilde, outside of society, so masterfully put together, another way of going, she’s mean because she gives him the small room, who made the room full of cages and boxes, playing goth music all night, all about interpretation, a reflection of me (being in a cage), interesting parallels, a black widow spider, Wayne doesn’t buy that she’s innocent, in league with the devil, what happened to her brother?, a theory for Mr Jim Moon, The Terror Of The Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mother of pearl, a monster in the mine, a letter Seaton, Samuel Seaton, the painting on the wall, the one with the eye is S. Seaton, retelling it as a modern story, he has a VIC 20!, security cameras in every room, we have the same kinds of issues and problems today, most manifest in her awareness of what she’s doing, self-conscious, Alice is almost consciousless, did she move away?, who did she escape?, a weird race of two, the deep one crown in a chest of jewlery, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, trying to find a place to put my sympathy, they’re screwed individually and in combination, All Hallows by Walter de la Mare, a sour church, Blackwood and Machenesque, a BBC Radio abridgement, the story becomes insane without pauses,
you know your space, a powerfully interesting way of writing, layering in themes that are almost ineffable, just words, so much is the way its told, a liberated thoughtful lady, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, occult skill, charged with mockery and bitterness, ruined, processing through a filter of hate, began to play the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. The piano was old and woolly. She played without music. The lamplight was rather dim. The moonbeams from the window lay across the keys. Her head was in shadow. And whether it was simply due to her personality or to some really occult skill in her playing I cannot say: I only know that she gravely and deliberately set herself to satirize the beautiful music. It brooded on the air, disillusioned, charged with mockery and bitterness. I stood at the window; far down the path I could see the white figure glimmering in that pool of colourless light. A few faint stars shone, and still that amazing woman behind me dragged out of the unwilling keys her wonderful grotesquerie of youth, and love, and beauty. It came to an end. I knew the player was watching me. “Please, please, go on!” I murmured, without turning. “Please go on playing, Miss Seaton.”
No answer was returned to my rather fluttering sarcasm, but I knew in some indefinite way that I was being acutely scrutinized, when suddenly there followed a procession of quiet, plaintive chords which broke at last softly into the hymn, A Few More Years Shall Roll.
what significance did the hymn have for her?
I confess it held me spellbound. There is a wistful, strained, plangent pathos in the tune; but beneath those masterly old hands it cried softly and bitterly the solitude and desperate estrangement of the world. Arthur and his lady-love vanished from my thoughts. No one could put into a rather hackneyed old hymn-tune such an appeal who had never known the meaning of the words. Their meaning, anyhow, isn’t commonplace.
I turned very cautiously and glanced at the musician. She was leaning forward a little over the keys, so that at the approach of my cautious glance she had but to turn her face into the thin flood of moonlight for every feature to become distinctly visible. And so, with the tune abruptly terminated, we steadfastly regarded one another, and she broke into a chuckle of laughter.
engaging with him like an adult, the clothes of a man, his coat is too big for him, so grateful for the invitation, I really appreciate it because I’m dying, the paranoid literal ghost haunted victim of an in-league-with-the-devil-aunt, nothing more than a coffin, my brother William died, there’s hundreds of eyes like that in the house, I shan’t stand it much longer, did Seaton commit suicide?, all my plans are falling into place, the old mulberry jelly trick, we are told he has lavish pocket money, that would be in character, so lonely, the bangle as an amulet against her, Alice Outram, some good stuff, a now lost medieval village in Derbyshire, early 1900s travel, piggy back rides and hiding in closets, candles, a fascinating story, Seaton is definitely a liar, you were supposed to best man, more on the ball, creeped by the aunt, you hypocrite, a mismatch between emotions and what people say, being clever and arch, snarky, is it about control or just being playful, so much free-rangeness, allowed bullying to flourish, snapchat bullying, the mistakes of perception that you have in childhood, a confession story, somewhere in there Withers is having an argument with Seaton, some guilt, mistreating the old bird, what she says, calculated cruelty, emotionally abusive, emotionally neglectful, no sexual or physical abuse, she never lies to him, she never gaslights him, that never happened, you’re wrong, she demeans him, she knows everything that I think and what I do, he’s a squashed human, squashed at school, victimness, uninterested in his emotional being, baby monkeys, the monkey Withers, a monkey in with a tadpole, very subversive, what is the question, what is this story?, not fantasy, not science fiction, definitely weird fiction, vampire is stronger than ghosts (in here), prehistoricism, eternal evil, Silurians (Doctor Who reference), Doggerland, it feels so Lovecrafty because of all the fish, he is doomed, The Rats In The Walls, The Moon Bog, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan,
And again I paused irresolutely a few paces further on. It was not fancy, merely a foolish apprehension of what the raw-boned butcher might “think” that prevented my going back to see if I could find Seaton’s grave in the benighted churchyard. There was precious little use in pottering about in the muddy dark, merely to discover where he was buried. And yet I felt a little uneasy. My rather horrible thought was that, so far as I was concerned—one of his extremely few friends—he had never been much better than “buried” in my mind.
dark!, a dark philosophy,
I was not a man of the world, nor was I much flattered in my stiff and dullish way of looking at things by being called one; and I could answer her without the least hesitation.
“I don’t think, Miss Seaton, I’m much of a judge of character. She’s very charming.”
“I think I prefer dark women.”
“And why? Consider, Mr. Withers; dark hair, dark eyes, dark cloud, dark night, dark vision, dark death, dark grave, dark!”
she’s goth, yo,
Perhaps the climax would have rather thrilled Seaton, but I was too thick-skinned. “I don’t know much about all that,” I answered rather pompously. “Broad daylight’s difficult enough for most of us.”