The SFFaudio Podcast #674 – The Cats Of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft – read by Steve Mann. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (8 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Trish E. Matson, and Jason Thompson
Talked about on today’s show:
The Tryout, November 1920, Weird Tales, Fantastic Novels, Hannes Bok, a girl or a young woman, cats looking very satisfied with themselves, 3 pages or 8 minutes, 88 shows mentioning The Cats Of Ulthar, most of them are not in English, the best introduction to Lovecraft, a lot of little things that work as an introduction, witches, wandering weirdos, foreigners, geographies, are the couple witches?, they’re witch-ish, ogres, frightening, can this be read subversively, sorry Trish, why is this such a popular story, the narrator is present, a murder mystery, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, popular to least popular, At The Mountains Of Madness, this fictional list, Old Bugs, The Wicked Clergy Man, a scultping contest, this story sucks, the sound of the bees, the beekeeper tells the narrator, who tells the story, we know, what do you remember?, the reason people don’t like that story is they don’t get it, telegraphed from the beginning, the wrath of Bast, super-simple, people love cats, has cats in the title, not that much racism in it, the mysterious dark foreigners are the good guys sort of, catskins nailed all over the wall, eating them?, a meanspirited old couple, what people in the town are saying, hiding the truth, we gotta burn these manuscripts, a push pull, the beetles, scarabs, Dreamlands, what of their spirits?, did the cats steal their souls?, sucking the baby’s breath, activating the cats, the circularity, who is the narrator?, purring before the fire, the last image of the story (in Jason’s adaptation), sexily vs. hungrily, the dog lies patiently until it starves to death, the cat will eat you, a village full of cats ate a couple, the heroes are the cats, the moral simplicity of an EC comic, questioning the validity of the human eating cats, all he did was jaywalk, The Terrible Old Man, home invade a pirate from 3 centuries ago, gypsies vs. travelers, the Roma people of Europe, India and Alexander the great, the India connection, where the word Egypt comes from Menes, pre-Egyptian, another possible source, the dark wanderers in Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, turban wearing, such frightened and passive people, live in a hovel, they’re treated like witches, The Witch-Cult In Western Europe by Margaret Murray, Christians who believe in , a fairy tale, Diodorus Siculus heard it from some crocodile god priests, all the things that are being described, not only Bast, their quiet mien, the referent is missing, the mother of all these cats?, before and beyond human Earth history, definitely (kind of) in the Dreamlands, Polaris on its own, Meroe, Nubia, a lost port mentioned in the Bible, the connections come later, ex post facto in the Dreamlands, resurrect them?, every cat was back, dead or busy feasting, telling fortunes, investigate the cotter’s cottage, still extant cats, cats on a mission, dream like, dream logic, reason to be skeptical, the villagers are always getting it wrong, sacrificed, coyotes are a serious issue, real life experience, gossip, baseless, the villagers sicced this little boy and his magic on that couple and got even though they are innocent, gullible gods, tricking the gods, they show up in the sky, Scooby Doo, no Nancy Drew activities, the follow up to the Cats Of Ulthar, the gods fucked up, the fallibility of the divine, the Greek gods every day of the week, I want vengeance, a devotee, his parents are already dead, almost like a storm, the gods are obedient to those who are believe in them, vernacular tradition, non-institutionalized beliefs, passed on by spoken words, the common people know about it, the Esoteric Order Of Dagon has some metal plates they pass around, folktales before they get written down, the opening sentence, Skai, the Yann river, no man may kill a cat, the species is male?, who are we?, retconned around Kadath time, the past vs. a dream, if only the dream had been set not in ancient Greece, the fairytalishness, the realm of myth, long ago and far away as many fairy tales say, who the narrator is usually matters, the wagon leaving the town, a tour of Innsmouth, the burgers, why are you telling me all their names, look at the list of characters who show up, sustaining a mood, he’s trying to tell us about the purpose of this law is, why?, the burgers pass a law, it becomes a folk belief, mouths to feed, bag in the river, the story of Moses, this Egyptian quality, Egypt is the breadbasket for Rome, food is wealth, the mousers vs. the pets, eatin the rodents that will eat your grain, myth vs. propaganda, what a stan is, Lovecraft is a cat stan, not the dogs of Ulthar, what do dogs do, dogs bark, bears three days a week, there to protect to the property, hungry bears, many many odes to cats, cat love, propaganda for cats, a wish fulfillment story, that tiny black kitten, cat lives are worth more than human lives to Lovecraft, the roving folk, Egyptians in all but name, their magic, their magic show, Evan’s story about losing his cat, knowing how devious Lovecraft can be, The Rats In The Walls has a cat, Delapore eats another man, still defending them, a swarm of rats, the cat is the hero, you’re crazy man, “I, as a cat, will not support this cannibalism”, Jesse derailing, The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, your house burned down because of a cat, The Raven, working on a psychological level, why does it take so long to get to the point, so obviously put together that way, an untrustworthy story, Evan is neutral, the townspeople are dumb, no police arresting people for killing cats, what scarabs were, we don’t know what scarabs are, amulets placed in the wrappings, tradable items, we don’t know why they’re there, Egyptology, Egytpomania, another Egypt-ism, eating of the dead, a cleansing of the evil of what they did, the cleansing mechanism, not a memorable story,
On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the time-stained blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an old bee-keeper who lives in the neighboring cottage told me a different story.
a shared studio, the townspeople report, such good friends, the story of the fall,
However, the Syracusans obtained after a while a very splendid statue in Athens, and the Tegeans consoled themselves by erecting in the agora a marble temple commemorating the gifts, virtues, and brotherly piety of Musides.
city vs. country, one is better than the other,
But the olive grove still stands, as does the tree growing out of the tomb of Kalos, and the old bee-keeper told me that sometimes the boughs whisper to one another in the night wind, saying over and over again. “Oida! Oida!—I know! I know!”
hiding the truth The White Ape The Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family, to hide the truth, his grandma was a monkey, there’s sometimes a key, sometimes they are straightforward?, half more again as complex as this one?, The Street, The Statement Of Randolph Carter, The Whisperer In Darkness, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Lurking Fear, pay attention, beefy guys, he needs a lot of meat, The Strange High House In The Mist, a lot of weird stuff happens, not straightforward but simple, this outside frame, we’re not supposed to trust, picky about his own work, Philip K. Dick, a personal favourite, S.T. Joshi, walks in the forest, letters about cats, the College Street address, a gang of feral cats living on his roof, if Lord Dunsany the dog guy meets the cat guy, Dean Spanley, a great sense of humour, The Book of Wonder, a randy centaur, Bride Of The Man-Horse, its the getting there that’s fun part, how men should court women, how centaurs get their brides, a Dunsany imitation in terms of style, 7-10 minutes to read, ebullient detail, once per week, The Idler, filling pages for the idle rich, not the ideal Weird Tales story, a Clark Ashton Smith adaptation, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, a retconned cosmology, The White Ship and Celephais, a cats themed comic anthology, a comic twist at the end, these smiling cats, ambiguous intent, lest they kill us, who is this law for?, how the Ultharians feel about it, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, the most dreamlandsy one, chronologically, its before people, almost like he’s talking to Robert E. Howard in that one, the psychology is implicit, sometimes a story is just a story, readers in the 1920s, that level of morbidity is day to day for us, extra gross for 1920s readers?, Ambrose Bierce and Edgar Allan Poe, too gross, Wastelands by W. Scott Poole, horror has its birth after WWI, the symbolists, The Troop by Nick Cutter, PG-13, this is not supposed to be a horror story, folktales and household tales, more than humans, add more magic to the story, drag out linger, so much detail, Sergio Aragonés, some guy with nemes on, a German beer stein, there’s beer, what they’re making with those crops, a pseudo Germanic look for Ulthar, the curls of an Egyptian, ankh everywhere, two gods, Ibis, the staff is an open mouth with teeth, Lovecraft foreshadows with a magic spell, repetition a symmetrical thing, all the animals are playing cutesy roles, a wellness check, a kind of horror, a mode, terrible youth trauma, return to the Dreamlands role playing game, their giant noses and their blank eyes and their implements, for the people are simple, four cats suckling, a sphinx, all ayres book of dallaire book of Greek and Norse myths, Echidna the mother of monsters, weird slug woman, the baby hydra and the baby sphinx, exiled to a cave, Cerberus is a they, tentacles, gimme milk gimme milk, added blood, you have to love them anyways, licking their genitals, motherhood is difficult for humans!, firm but gentle, the cats of Saturn, a gamification thing, Jason’s drawing game, Mangacon Cartooner, like Pictionary but producing comics, get the most fame points possible, you have to sell out to whatever trend, so meta, Evan made a huge mistake, fan service, obsession cards, giant sword, three point landing, gamifying his own letters, worldbuilding, the Lovecraft industry is a huge industry, uncountable unnameable, you play dreamers, drawn from Dunsany, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, the sanity mechanism, go mad or die, memory resources, spend memories, performing marvels, Randolph Carter lost his memories of Providence, creating monsters out of the air, dream logic, Carter remembers he can speak nightgaunt, he always spoke nightgaunt, coincidental magic, conjuring cats, what’s the core activity?, go on dream quests, fairy tale style quests, breaking the pillars of Dreamland, as a responsible dreamer, a plague of fairies, word currency, 300 word cards, make little speeches, blasphemous, wonder, and road, an excuse to be eloquent, the Jack Vance role playing game, The Dying Earth, interesting and fun, dialogue with each other, why don’t you try to make friends with these ghouls?, Horror On The Hill, charisma rolls, neanderthals on the team, DREAMRPG.com, look at this art, its stunning!, that lady with a mask, the watchseller selling digital clocks!, The Call Of Cthulhu: Dreamlands, modern tech doesn’t work, its infinite, continually expanding, the distance between spaces grows greater and greater, like the distances between the stars, low tech vs. modern tech, in Jason’s headcanon…, stuck in the Dark Ages, an existential ramble, a zoog hiding in curtain by the hookah, some lich guy hanging out, the attention to tiny details, “yeah, she’s a medusa what of it?”, where I go to get my equipment for my dreamquest, this is awesome awesome dreamstuff, semi-announced, an Edgar Allan Poe module, an Oz module, Dreamland, Ulalume, a list of dreamers and stats for them, outside of time, they’re dreamselves, established in Celephais, a message in a bottle from two centuries later, Fungi From Yuggoth: Continuity, dream psychiatrist stories, Dreamscape, Inception, trying to tap into deep time (eternity), the Jungian dreamlands, Lovecraft’s conception of the cosmos as an eternal machine, mechanistic, grinding towards the heat death, paradoxes, all night and all day, Jamieson by Margaret St. Clair, just happy to be there, a kind of a Jorkens style story, through the hole in the wall, tiny little grape press, forever cursed to walk the earth, basuto wood and moon grapes for the moonwine, straight out of dreamquest, Dunsany style, epic mythological vs. Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman goofy, Paul’s play by email diceless RPG: Strange Bedfellows, set in the world of Roger Zelazny, expanding into a dreamspace, stealing shamelessly, contact the dreamer, Kij Johnson’s Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe, a complete stylistic pastiche, The Riverbank by Kij Johnson (a stylistic doppleganger of The Wind In The Willows), when those letters come out, his family is very rich, what dirt he has, is there anybody that’s better documented than Lovecraft?, thank you, kid oriented D&D stuff.