The SFFaudio Podcast #471 – Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (21 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show:
the proper pronunciation of Machen, Arthur Llewellyn Jones, Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman, apprentice journalist, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, The Lost Club, Reading, Short And Deep, identicals, a Hellfire Club, a big scary black book, never heard from again, a very weird story, truly as the first weird fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, cosmicism, Mr Weird, H.P. Lovecraft, “it is this”, M.R. James, bedrock authors, Machen lived this stuff, a real-life magical society, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, W.B. Yates, a genuine mystic, landscape, in the modern world people see things on the surface and don’t apprehend the meaning, meta narrative, the interior story, so deeply framed, so nested, the hoopla surrounding The Bowmen, it’s not the story, the story is not the story, the story is the effect of the story, embarrassed by the story, a disappointment, surprisingly funny, a bit of whimsy, the early weeks of WWI, a ray of hope, taken as a genuine report from the front line, the Angel of the Mons, fighting the tide, how rumours take hold without any evidence, “snow on your boots”, reading it a straight up, a weird meta-fiction, pre-Borges, this sounds familiar, so popular, side projects, tales, stories, a meme, fascinating, how many Machens?, not a good story, T.P.’s Weekly, November 22nd, 1915, the retreat from Mons (August 1914), September 1914, six months later, weird podcasts, Tin Foil Hat Podcast, part of being an adult is being interested in the truth, conspiracy, half of capitalism, Clinton and Pizzagate, really fucked up things going on in government, punishment for plebs, a Clinton, New York child sex scandal, in the memory, it couldn’t be killed, all the letters Machen got, death threats, bottom up stories and top down stories, Russia! Russia! Russia!, collaborating or colluding, a conspiracy theorist, the person who testified who can’t be found, the Russian rumor, reports of Russian troops seen in Britain, a plague of spies, Cossacks at train stations heading south, a huge flap, a third myth, the Rape of Belgium, a rumour among German troops, resisting the invasion, buckets full of eyes, necklaces of German soldiers’ eyeballs, breasts cut off, every conceivable atrocity, a British censor on war time reports, the liars did very well, James Hayward’s Myths And Legends Of The First World War, German corpse factories, “the vile Hun”, fake news, the horrible little children, the Edwardian equivalent of the internet, into the papers in a round about fashion, how the nature of rumor and myth begins, transmitted in times of uncertainty and trouble, official news sources, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, they’re all correct, CIA infiltration of news agency [and MI5 screening of BBC], a lack of news, filling the gap with whatever they can find, the whole Russia story, 13 Russian trolls, Facebook ads, “the big gotcha moment”, the Internet Research Agency, in the business of trolling (for money), fake accounts, we have these rubes, for commercial purposes, Trump somehow helped the Russians hack the DNC servers?, borders mean nothing to the ultra-rich, puppets, Bernie-bro,
“army recruiters reported problems in explaining the origins of [WWI] in legalistic terms” hence an evolution in tactics, or different tactics for different classes, or the intellectual vs. the visceral
posters from 1914 and 1918
Seventy years ago your great-grandfathers and their great-grandfathers signed a document that made certain guarantees about Belgium’s neutrality.
Remember when the Germans raped their way through Belgium
this was Pearl Harbor!, why this story is so relevant, the thing that is the story, a powerful point about war, Morgan the childlike man, Castle Coch, the Red Keep, read about Belgium, and think they could haven been more than five or six years old, they were to ear what slime is to the touch, blasphemies struck like blows, a swarm of noise-some creatures, children with old men’s faces, one paragraph, Morgan to dream of Avalon, to purge himself of the fuming corruption of the streets, is this a true story?, places that are deprived and poor, the underwolves, super-predators, the Central Park five, seven fold increase in prison population, harvesting slaves, whatever new drug it is, top down or bottom up, moral panics, juvenile delinquents, hoodies, chavs, thuggish people, picked up by politicians, class war, welfare is for crack and knives, mainstream news, rock and roll, Beatles records, video nasties, horror comics, Dungeons & Dragons, video game violence, Trayvon Martin, manipulate the facts, the funny children, is Machen starting another story?, this is how I make this stuff up, the myth of the JD (juvenile delinquent), teddy boys, rockers, mods, a Bank Holiday British tradition, Quadrophenia, arguments about-for-and-against education, bad seeds, evil children, The Midwich Cuckoos, teenage hoodlums, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, free rides, sticking it to the man, sense of power, community centers, midnight basketball, psychology, the irresistible impulse to knock over a house of cards, the impulse for destruction, they just came in from Siberia, a train ride from Scotland, the British, Americans, and Canadians invade Siberia to try to reverse the Russian Revolution, The Sandbaggers, the rumour becomes the reality, wanting to believe the legend, not caring about evidence, fossilized in this story, what Robert E. Howard calls the little people, elves and trolls and gremlins, from fantasy to fake news, fake fairies, a strange new power, The Novel Of The Black Seal, The Novel Of The White Powder, Panther paperback, terrible cruel dwarf elves, the horror of war, he took a long time to get there, what’s this mention of Belgium, the worst swearword known in the galaxy, a weird momentum, the story has to keep replicating, the introduction to The Bowmen And Other Stories, the answer of course is in the question, struggles in truth in news, false, the seedbed for new conspiracy theories, official unknown sources, trying to fill dead air, Mr Jim Moon’s Folklore On Friday articles, Krampus, absolute bullshit, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Halloween, the received wisdom is always wrong, a new dark age, perceiving reality, where this story is set, who’s saying it, there are so many narrators, real places, Glastonbury Tor, Morgan le Fay, the myth of Avalon seems to be a bottom up story, Geoffrey Of Monmouth, Mallory, John Boorman’s Excalibur, a gel filter, the land of the fairy, Morgan le Fay is she has sex with her half brother, Mordred is killed by Arthur, Arthur is wounded and goes to the island of Avalon where he is healed by his sister and the mother of his child, how you get out of the horror of the Belgian horror, internecine war, the Kaiser and the Czar hugging each other.
The SFFaudio Podcast #266 – Jesse, Luke, and Juliane Kunzendorf discuss When The Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells
Talked about on today’s show:
Julianne’s first SFFaudio Podcast, what do we call them?, readers and talkers, 1899/1910/1923, When The Sleeper Wakes, The Sleeper Wakes, The Sleeper Awakes, Blackstone Audio’s audiobook version, the serialization in The Graphic magazine, the 1910 preface, “an editorial elder brother”, going to the original sources, a forecast of technology, technological changes between the revisions, aeroplanes and aeropiles, the introduction to the 1923 edition, “fantasias of possibility”, “suppose these forces go on novel”, H.G. Wells thought the rich were evil geniuses (prior to meeting them), “rather foolish plungers”, “vulgar rather than wicked”, Ostrog, “a nightmare of capitalism triumphant”, capitalist/socialism (kind of like Japan), The Unincorporated Man is pretty much the same story, yay Marxism!?, when Graham wakes up, Chapter 7, there only audiobooks in the future, The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling, The Madonna Of The Future by Henry James, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, phonetic spelling, an H.G. Wells way of writing, is it the nature of a serial, the reader transplanted into the year 2100, The War Of The Worlds, suicide, Isbister, Warming, Ostrog, Lincoln, “body fag is no cure for brain fag”, “while he was breaking his fast”, the language, lying in a crystal box, a passive character, establishing the genre, space elevators, Buck Rogers has the same premise, Idiocracy, Eine Billion Dollar by Andreas Eschbach, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, the importance of money, the gilded age, wealth disparity, the labour company, a dystopia along the lines of Brave New World, the Martian invasion, The Time Machine, is this the start of the Morlocks and the Eloi?, 1984 by George Orwell, the proles, the pleasure cities, distractions, the value of work beyond being paid, a class trap, what is Wells saying?, Wells’ ambivalence towards the proles, there are no more school examinations, is this a meritocracy?, technological dystopias (like 1984), social dystopias, Brave New World is a medical dystopia, genetic dystopias, knowing you live in a dystopia, North Korea, knowledge of other societies, the time before Big Brother, Julia, the Anti-Sex League, genetically dumbified, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, religious dystopia, advertizing Christianity, prosperity gospels, church revivals, advertising, the babel machines, movies and television, what will this culture do to the culture?, “people don’t read”, airplanes, heavier-than-air aircraft, smashing airplanes into other airplanes, aerial ramming, flying machine vs. aeroplane vs. airplane vs. aeropile, My First Aeorplane by H.G. Wells, rocketships, the pilot’s union, the look of the airplane, the clothing, Victorian age dresses, the church, hanging in the air, the Thames has run dry, megalopolis, the building material, the Eiffel Tower, steel, concrete, plastic, glass, carbon fiber, biotech, Pandora’s Star, a coral house, 3D printing, Ikea Hacks, print on demand houses, economics, factories and automation, The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, slide-walk, edamite, Ostrog, Ostrogoths, Lincoln, foment a revolution, race and racism, Senagalese, ostrog as “fortress”, a Serbian Orthodox Church, Ostrog will boss the show, “in bounds”, are these are revolutionary names?, Che Guevara, Abraham Lincoln’s freeing the slaves, thug force, Berlin, June 17th, 1953, the Berlin Wall, outside forces, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Gurkhas, “see we’re all friends”, smiling bright shiny teeth, “they are fine loyal brutes”, racism is in there but it is not the point of the book, The War Of The Worlds, a little hypocritical, we can’t see the issue, massive economic suppression, calculating boys, hypnotism, economic slavery, the wealth gap, the White Council, the blaring speakers, the media firehouse, talk radio, people wearing their headphones everywhere, podcasts, each one of those streams are newspapers, a newspaper for everybody, broadsheets vs. tabolids, your newspaper tells your class, daily free newspapers, Jack The Ripper, Melville Macnaghten, Michael Ostrog (thief and con-man), the symbolism of the aircraft, the three books, Helen is the Madonna of the future, it’s a joke, the novel’s end, ‘my Graham dies without certainty of victory or defeat’, ambiguous airplanes, “literally that’s his dream”, flying dreams, cliffs and high places, Isbister and Warming -> Lincoln and Ostrog, “its fun”, “in such a fall as this countless dreams have ended”, dream falling, the different endings, the future of that future, Olaf Stapledon’s The Last And First Men, many futures, Olaf Stapledon takes what Wells does a little farther, Graham as a Christ figure, risen from the dead… etc., in Graphic detail, full colour holographic Jesus, the empty tomb moment, allusions to other literature in the Bible, Arthur C. Clarke, the Son of Man, A Story Of The Days To Come, the emptying of the countryside, the enclosures, Scotland, Canada, Glasgow, Berlin, well more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities now, Among Others by Jo Walton, Wales, the merits of country living, the economic theory behind everything, access to internet, staring at the internet, services, live entertainment, “my choice of Christian girls was three girls”, poor Luke.
By Alex Bledsoe; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
7 CDs – Approx. 8.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Vampires / Revenge / Love / 1970s / 1910s / Memphis / Wales /
When centuries-old vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginski was staked in Wales in 1915, the last thing he expected was to reawaken in Memphis, Tennessee, sixty years later. Reborn into a new world of simmering racial tensions, he must adapt quickly if he is to survive. Hoping to learn how his kind copes with this bizarre new era, Zginski tracks down a nest of teenage vampires, who have little knowledge of their true nature, having learned most of what they know from movies like Blacula. Forming an uneasy alliance with the young vampires, Zginski begins to teach them the truth about their powers. They must learn quickly for there’s a new drug on the street created to specifically target and destroy vampires. As Zginski and his allies track the drug to its source, they may unwittingly be stepping into a trap that can destroy them all.
The vampire is the Mr. Potato Head of Fantasy fiction. It’s an old and worn out monster, fully mythologized with more than 100 interchangeable preternatural powers and weaknesses from which to assemble a fully customized vampire. For what might be a complete list of them check out the terrific website TVTropes.org. It cites a wonderfully cynical list of vampire tropes under the title: “Our Vampires Are Different.” So then the question is: If there is nothing really new under the sunless skies of vampire fiction why do we pick up them up? It’s a good question and one worth pondering. I picked up Blood Groove in large part because of the title. I liked the pun, figuring it referred to a blood groove (or fuller) on a sword and/or the idea of groovy 1970s vampires and/or the dado in a forensic pathologist’s slab. And before I picked up Blood Groove I noticed other Bledsoe books (probably a pun to be made there too) had cute titles like: The Sword-Edged Blonde and Burn Me Deadly.
Alex Bledsoe doesn’t give any new power to the vampire that he hasn’t had before, but he does add a new figurative kryptonite (like sunlight and garlic and crosses) to the mix. In fact, it’s creation and dissemination is central to the plot of Blood Groove. Along the way we also get an historical setting (1975), a virtual tour of parts of Memphis, Tennessee, some trivia about Elvis Presley and a relatively unpredictable story.
One of the elements that surprised me was not knowing who the protagonist of Blood Groove was. The vampires seemed the focus, and yet there was almost nothing that could make them sympathetic in a heroic or anti-heroic way. We’d meet one, he’d be killed, and then I thought “Okay…and?” but the story wouldn’t explain – which was a nice move actually. So for a good chunk of the novel the characters, all well fleshed out, appeared in scenes, died or were killed, only to be replaced by new characters with new agendas and new back-stories. The period shifted too. First we are in 1975 Memphis, then 1915 Wales. Eventually it settles down and we’re given fresh references, almost devotionals actually, to two early 1970s movies Blacula and Vanishing Point. As with many an urban fantasy novel these days there’s a mixing up of sex and love. Blood Groove doesn’t feel particularly paranormal romancy – but it’s probably not too far from the edges of curve.
Narrator Stefan Rudnicki gives voice to about a dozen characters of mixed gender, ethnicity and accent. Most obviously the East European vampire Baron Rudolfo Zginski has a suitably Bela Lugosi type accent. As with every Rudnicki read audiobook I’ve heard his rich voiced narration in Blood Groove is always in service to the text. One reviewer on Amazon.com put it well: “[Reading Blood Groove] was like eating a brownie with nuts when you don’t like the nuts.”