The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.”

“A brunette?”

“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.”

Seaton's Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #485 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Undying Thing by Barry Pain

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #485 –The Undying Thing by Barry Pain; read by Dan Grozinski (dg73). This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (59 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
is Paul kinda glum?, staying up to late with a flask of whiskey and a revolver in his pocket worrying about the sins of his ancestors, so appropriate, WEREWOLVES!, being an evil genius, a method to Jesse’s madness, fortuitous, drifting off, how Barry Pain writes, an AMAZING story, he more Maissa listens to it the more questions she has, the monster never shows up on screen, checking the audio against the text, cut-off?, this story provokes questions, so many hints, so rich, nothing to say on Sunday, sleepless nights, unpacking it, the rhythm and the structure, implied, asked but not answered, more nuanced, elliptical digressions, diagraming this story, this would make an amazing movie!, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, filmed in black and white with sepia flashbacks, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes, which is the more famous story, they came out exactly the same month!, the way the stories unfold, one has no detective, on has Mr Marsh, points in contact, barnoets get the title “sir”, ancestral baddie, murders happening in the community, the friend that comes to the house, a wolf or a hound that haunts the family, the tavern rumor mongers, astounding!, Pain’s not copying Doyle and Doyle’s not copying Pain, seeds of evil, spoiling this 1901 story, a trained creature, an heir to the estate, an evil dalliance, a bastard son, enacting the plot of The Undying Thing, avatar, very Lovecraftian, Lovecraft liked this story, Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001), the first Sir Edric Vanderquests’ evil plan, Supernatural Horror In Literature,

“Ugh! I really half-believe I ought to mention this in my article.”

reading a little a bit for the readers, hands of white fire, burglar?, why does he think it has come for him?, our companion buddy reads the confession and then burns it but he doesn’t tell his Sir Edric, electric lighting, why does he think that?, go back to your room, the night he spent by himself, there’s somebody in the dining room, what is it?, its there!, go BACK!, who are you…what are you?, he’s talking to IT, you wouldn’t say “who are you?” to a dog, we don’t actually see the baby, trying to find anybodys criticism, Sir Edric wanted another boy, is it a boy?, was it a boy?, how to get rid of the baby, covering the mouth, and nose, no snout, somewhat human-shaped, BANG!, perfectly empty, he went through the window, he knew that Sir Edric would be found there, how did he know that, the final paragraph, a great flash of lightning, the plantation had collapsed, this time he had fainted away, what’s going on?, Jesse has a theory, sentence by sentence, very very Gothic, really good use of weather, the whole of the trees fling their heads upwards, the collapse of the tunnel system, heads vs. crowns, so we can see it, the leaves staying still with the ground subsiding, an amazing piece of writing, a deafening crash, listening to it as an audiobook, being specially attuned (like Wayne June) and timing every word, The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, a metaphor or symbol for the family itself, collapsing into a tarn, the penultimate sentence, earlier collapses, this time he had fainted away, did he die?, he died with a petrified look on his face, the viewpoint character is gone, The Dead Smile by F. Marion Crawford, a family curse, corpses moved around the tomb, a giant smiling skull, a smile only they can pull off, the Willis family “ookel face”, a really unusual look, a family curse, that smile is going to come again, a hideous grin of terror, an alternate reading of the ending, he says its there, why did he call his friend?, hands of white fire, a tap at his door, he had dressed, a curious subdued voice, how did the Undying Thing get in?, is it a ghost?, it had a body, its not a question, why does sir edric think that?, Sir Edric is the Undying Thing, he is the inheritor of the curse, he doesn’t know that he is, he’s about to transform, what happened to the first woman?, she saw the previous incarnation, it’s dead and not dead, keeping this THING alive, Maissa’s theory, pledging to God, be thou with eve, he’s bargaining with God on Eve’s behalf, he goes back on his word, some sort of spirit, purgatory, Morella, well read in the German philosophers, kind of like a mom, she’s basically a witch or something, like Alia in Frank Herbert’s Dune, the family tomb, she’s my daughter and my husband, such an open story, page 135, on the following morning, weregild!, roaming the countryside at night, why were they not welcomed, they found her corpse, what is she doing there at night?, her body was found there at noon the following day, if there’s a werewolf there should be someone torn apart, she died in a “fit”, Maissa’s right, trying to prove something?, “he goes out with a rug, a flask of whiskey and a revolver”, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, definitely not a cow, a stray cow, no cow, too much for a cow, too whimsical, I was awakened by a cry, swishing through the bracken, half-awake, he persuaded himself to go to sleep again, a subterranean spring, some slight subsidence, legend says, Hal’s planting, why he thinks its the Undying Thing, only haunts the planting, a charge of dynamite, criticizing the story, running on familiar tracks, a well beaten path, feeling the resonances, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, the tragedy of that small goddess, the curse of the land, to dynamite the tower and the trees, kill the sacred birds, “colonial fiction”, set in England?, thinking along the same thoughts, a genetic understanding of a family curse, because he was a Jew, does he believe the legend?, he knows its real underneath, he’s cursed, the opposite of The Hound Of The Baskerville, the end of the (family) line, blowing up Hal’s Planting brings the end, look through these papers for me, a doctor who doesn’t practice, interested in science and out of the way science, Guerdon, Geurdon and Bird, positive inheritances, Ray, “season”, in season, mating time, introduced to society, it was assumed, is he trying to save him, her “mourning” room, she’s a ray of sunshine, built with such ingrained malice and vexatious, he is the heir to the curse, both dead and alive, are they all Edrics?, the wolf attack, but then in rereading…, I can’t say why, a group of wolves, one of these wolves must have escaped, question mark end of chapter, more of Maissa’s theory, Jesse’s theory, intending wolves to serve as (hunting) dogs, he chased down a woman with his dogs, destroy these beasts, he loved his second wife even more than he hated his first, she was not bitten, why did they frighten her so, indicative lines, when it was too late, was it nine months afterwards?, she died in childbirth, that old woman is the nurse, attacked by the wolves as in raped by the wolves, werewolf-baby, I have superpowers because my mother was spooked by a goose while she was pregnant with me, some thing, this is such a good story, why is it called undying not undead, reading Plato on the immortality of the soul, snow at the approach of heat, a philosophical argument for the existence of life after death, killed and not killed, raised and not raised in the caves, eternal in the curse of the family, is the THING dead?, the obstetrician, the appendage to the letter, the devil’s wolves seem to hunt me in my sleep nightly, the ghost of the wolves, darker ink, initials R.D., it is not dead, I do not think it will ever die, the curse is real, in light of The Wolf Leader, light and fluffy vs. dreaded and cursed, a deal with the devil, Jesse is worried about podcast listeners not being as impressed as they should be, it would make a fabulous movie or a wonderful comic book, everybody should read this story if they’re at all interest in wolf tails (or wolf tales), Mansteath (man’s death), sounds British, even English, the Midlands?, Hal’s planting (Hell’s planting?), the orchard, Jesse’s Roof Bear drawings, Cellar Feller, That Only A Mother by Judith Merrill, Born Of Man Of Woman by Richard Matheson, the powerful revelation, looking monstrous, in Roof Bear world everybody’s sort of friendly, in the real world, an orchard outside of the hill, Pan lives in the orchard, exploring your unconscious or your genetic memory, it’s always night in Roof Bear world, a kind of truth no science can tell you, science is wonderful, this is art, it could come back and haunt you, the power in this story, a kind of truth that is completely fictional, the latest incarnation of Edric, walking sunshine, in his final hours he’s trying to save his friend, what are you who are you?, is he looking in a mirror, what’s it eating, we need Mr Jim Moon and Marissa’s thoughts, getting attacked by coyotes, and Paul by blackflies, Mr Jim Moon getting in a punch up with a kangaroo,

Stories In The Dark by Barry Pain

The Undying Thing And Others by Barry Pain

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #466 – READALONG: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #466 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa, talk about Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

Talked about on today’s show:
clones, doppelgangers, eidolons, 2014, the 2018 movie, gifting the book, Finch, City Of Saints And Madmen, new weirdness, The New Weird, The Weird, appreciating the book, appreciating the movie, understanding why people talk about the book and the movie the way they do, justifying their ratings, framing it wrong, the Wikipedia entry, The New Yorker, Area X as a hyperobject, Paul would know, big dumb object, Ringworld, Rama, going into it and experiencing it, the original and the interpretation, what?!!?, better experienced as audiobook, the cool thing about the audio version (it is ephemeral), you can’t skip or skim sex scenes, a dream like quality to the words, pronunciation, how things read on the page, The Man Who Japed, juveniles = Juvenal(s), fucking with the reader by changing the text in a kind of fungal growth, experimental, fairly successful, not easily digestible, the book is a manifestation of Area X itself, screwing with the readers’ heads, Alex Garland, seeing the movie first and then reading the book, Blade Runner: 2049, the theater experience, the painful trauma of childbirth, Sunshine, a science fiction movie that doesn’t care about science at all, Ex Machina, nuking the sun back into starting?, the metaphor for Sunshine, not a good idea for a movie, Solar Crisis (1990), Hard Sun, doing good things with bad ideas, not a perfect movie, interpretation, we can’t do that, narrator, from an internal point of view, a kind of version, inspired by, the book is all about words, no big piles of documents to read, The Man In the High Castle show, pointing to something without saying what it is, an art film for a mainstream audience, Andrei Tarkovsky, expectations, characters with names, outside of Area X, setting expectations, imagine its a different expedition, the tower the tunnel, Steen, what do you remember about it?, it’s “this kind of book”, no proper nouns in the whole book, signposts on your journey, taking down all the signposts, a sign there’s no signposts, an initial “S”, Ghostbird, Area 51, a word you use in place of a word, Operation Overlord, H-Hour, D-Day, designed to prevent you from knowing, in the mode, shift gears, losing your spot, so dreamlike, hypnotic, hypnosis, as a trope, hypnosis was huge in Science Fiction for decades, not a Science Fiction book, who likes this book, literary fiction, very lit-fic, horror elements, weird fiction, a reworking of The Willows, inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Supernatural Horror In Literature, something more than secret murder and bloody bones, a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer unknown forces, the assaults of chaos and the demons of unplumbed space, an attack on the fixed laws of nature, a wrinkle in reality, what’s it like to experience that, if you squint a little bit, a metaphor for the scientific process, scientists, AR-15 or M-16s, a nod back to the book, everybody has one, the same uniform, a military expedition but twisted in a certain sense, the second and third books, cancer as a motivation, the disintegrating marriage, having an affair, pathetic and sad, set a little bit into the future, any evidence that it is set into the future, everything in the book is completely without specificity, he went through it with a comb and took away information, the word Lovecraft loves to use “certain”, a great adjective, the pig creature is a bear in the movie, Vietnam War upside down and inside out, the biologist is in love with the swimming pool, the characters in the film are cannon fodder, the conversation in the boat, taking away the centrality of character, a framing story, Benedict Wong, the tie-up scene, her fingerprints are moving, a lift from The Thing (1982), paranoia and suspicion, really bullshit, they’re all on Xanax, passion about biology and ecosystems, we only see the Xanaxed version on the characters in the film, we don’t see what the love, sympathy isn’t enough, evoking place, the black pine forest, a derelict lighthouse, untroubled landscape, Florida or the Georgia coast, filmed in England, cool ideas, Southern Reach, SR, an institution, two things that don’t tell you what they are, the same time zone, a lack of specificity,

“After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marshes.”

the crawler, the thing without the name, the Swede, the narrator’s name, as if he is in the room, utterly transformed, just that, I am not returning home,

“See,” he said quietly, “the victim that made our escape possible!”

And when I peered across his shoulder I saw that his stick rested on the body of a man. He turned it over. It was the corpse of a peasant, and the face was hidden in the sand. Clearly the man had been drowned, but a few hours before, and his body must have been swept down upon our island somewhere about the hour of the dawn—at the very time the fit had passed.

“We must give it a decent burial, you know.”

“I suppose so,” I replied. I shuddered a little in spite of myself, for there was something about the appearance of that poor drowned man that turned me cold.

The Swede glanced up sharply at me, an undecipherable expression on his face, and began clambering down the bank. I followed him more leisurely. The current, I noticed, had torn away much of the clothing from the body, so that the neck and part of the chest lay bare.

Halfway down the bank my companion suddenly stopped and held up his hand in warning; but either my foot slipped, or I had gained too much momentum to bring myself quickly to a halt, for I bumped into him and sent him forward with a sort of leap to save himself. We tumbled together on to the hard sand so that our feet splashed into the water. And, before anything could be done, we had collided a little heavily against the corpse.

The Swede uttered a sharp cry. And I sprang back as if I had been shot.

At the moment we touched the body there rose from its surface the loud sound of humming—the sound of several hummings—which passed with a vast commotion as of winged things in the air about us and disappeared upwards into the sky, growing fainter and fainter till they finally ceased in the distance. It was exactly as though we had disturbed some living yet invisible creatures at work.

My companion clutched me, and I think I clutched him, but before either of us had time properly to recover from the unexpected shock, we saw that a movement of the current was turning the corpse round so that it became released from the grip of the willow roots. A moment later it had turned completely over, the dead face uppermost, staring at the sky. It lay on the edge of the main stream. In another moment it would be swept away.

The Swede started to save it, shouting again something I did not catch about a “proper burial”—and then abruptly dropped upon his knees on the sand and covered his eyes with his hands. I was beside him in an instant.

I saw what he had seen.

For just as the body swung round to the current the face and the exposed chest turned full towards us, and showed plainly how the skin and flesh were indented with small hollows, beautifully formed, and exactly similar in shape and kind to the sand-funnels that we had found all over the island.

“Their mark!” I heard my companion mutter under his breath. “Their awful mark!”

And when I turned my eyes again from his ghastly face to the river, the current had done its work, and the body had been swept away into mid-stream and was already beyond our reach and almost out of sight, turning over and over on the waves like an otter.

all the evidence is gone, the explanation in the movie is as much The Colour Out Of Space as it is the novel Annihilation, 12 expeditions, the shimmer is gone, possibilities, the asteroid, something extraterrestrial struck the lighthouse, the “S” word, he’s not her husband, he’s the duplicate, the shimmer in the eyes, more subtle, the thing he’s doing, a comet, meteorite, dwarf planets and planets, Ceres, a meteorite vs. comet, the object is white, aiming at something, the earth is a giant egg and the comet is a sperm, a tunnel and tower, slipping into Eric Rabkin mode, designed to be seen in the unconsciousness (if not the consciousnesses), a tunnel and a tower, becoming a being, fungus all over the walls is white, cell division, an egg developing into a person, cancer, ovarian cancer, the all women cast!, what is it like to have a being growing inside of you that is a mutation of you, the childless relationship, off to fight in Pakistan again, reunited, the happy ending is a new beginning, isn’t pregnancy scary, the real immortality cells can have, cancer vs. a baby, kinds of immortality, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the film works at what it’s doing, the movie is a prism for the book, a very filmic version of the book, it couldn’t be an audio drama, very very very metaphorical, a comic book version, in the backgrounds, Alex Garland’s story, the words scrawled in the tower/tunnel,

“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dimlit halls of other places forms that never were and never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who never saw what could have been. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit—and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive. And there shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy from which shall blossom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passing of an age. That which dies shall still know life in death for all that decays is not forgotten and reanimated it shall walk the world in the bliss of not-knowing. And then there shall be a fire that knows the naming of you, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you that remains.”

dreamlike biblical word salad, going to that church, its just weird, negative reviews of the book, you’re never going to get an explanation, very meta, the narration is unreliable, or the universe is unreliable, she’s in a coma, none of this is happening, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Providence, seeing sexuality in everything, Rapunzel is only a sex story, hair growth like plant growth, a retelling of the Garden of Eden, underneath a lot of stuff is sex, about the cosmic, makes Jesse sad, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, a big stream of white cats up to the Moon, a sex dream, once you start looking, what it makes us different from rocks, the formation of rocks, we can’t compare ourselves to electrons, not mammal sex, why that weird world salad sentence, a tunnel, spiraling, a helix, just words, words are magic in the same way that genes are magic, let’s write some words, what does it mean?, certain coding, creating and casting a spell, speech-writing, amino acids into creatures who build and use firetrucks, this is literally Marissa’s job, where the spell is breaking, a piece of tape, seeing the book as a text in reference to texts and weird fiction, the word “thing”, that’s why the word shows up in so many weird fiction stories, uncanny horror, between fantasy and science fiction, body horror, Re-Animator, coming back to life as parts, seeing those fruiting bodies on the dead corpses, let’s take some samples, guts fall out, the more Marissa learns about biology the more grossed out she gets, designed to, very very movie, intestines, fear, scary gross out scene, Aliens (1986), the perfect film movie for what it is, taking certain aspects of Alien and amps them up, Terminator 2 is a remake of Terminator, Hudson becomes the hero, switching over to science mode, horror mode, you’re allowed to switch around as much as you want, why so many love it and hate it, contamination story, pregnancy story, creeping dread, taking all that potential out, taking it as it is, watch the movies first, preferring the text, reading the subtitles, as a film the characters are Xanaxed humans, placing themselves in our reality, are you polishing your Pashtun?, grounding, the Southern Reach is a metaphor for the continual war on terror?, 17 years in, he should have made it a real art film, unrelatable, are we all 12 years old?, being talked down to, people on CNN, everything that isn’t set in the shimmer hurts the film, the environmental disaster, a military screw up, Stephen King (The Mist), angry at the movie, a slow creeping dread, so disappointing, the plants that look like people, the twinned dears with flower antlers, very excellent language, the hints about the journals, this is all in a journal, that’s the moment they knew the most, are they losing information, we start with more information, if you re-edited the film, we all lost time, this is the afterlife, this is dream state, if I was religious I would read everything that way, the pool, the pond, tower tunnel, how her husband was traumatized by something in childhood and it was a film, the shownotes for the Altered Carbon show, how memory works, how important childhood memory is for laying your personality down, what memories are even real, that was a different person, the crisis actor thing, misremembered, .005% error margin, interrupting an attempted murder, strangling and cover in blood, missing limbs, the screaming thing in the bushes, self-reinforcing, the spiral of words, in 10 or 20 years, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, an agency in dysfunction, Kafkaesque, so mundane, The Castle, in second person, sudden jarring cries, dripping out, the, the movie poster’s tagline “fear what’s inside”, psychological head-space fear, flowers sprouting from her arms, the better parts of the film, filmic explanation, the anthropologist in the tunnel/tower, the psychologist, did she lie?, that’s a story, the story doesn’t make sense as a straight up story, hypnosis as used in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, very science fictional, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, [Jesse has already done a show on it], a decent movie and an even more interesting book, Marissa wants Jesse to read the sequels, a marketing gimmick, readings for podcasts, revisiting as a concept, three big pieces of a puzzle, what’s wrong with the word “spoiler” is the word has the opposite meaning (for Jesse), knowing more makes Jesse more interested, the lady goes off in a boat (maybe), and leave her journal behind (maybe), it would be much better as a found footage movie shot on videotape, shaky-cam, The Ritual (2017), four guys go out for a hike in the woods, a psychological haunting that happens, not being able to act, the psychology works amazingly better, Norse mythology, a hike movie (!) Marissa’s in!, Swedish mountains, we’ve been completely destroyed, why is called Annihilation?, special pleading, “nihil” means nothing and “a” means not – annihilation is a nothing of a nothing, titles are important, the trigger word, The Slithering Shadow by Robert A. Howard, something to talk about over beers, having something to do is really important in a world with no meaning, Jesse has nothing in common with his students, the only thing we really share is the text, before and after class, having that ritual of three interesting things, Matchstick Men, there’s no heaven, try to get through it until the cancer comes, less Xanax more coffee, The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson, a becalment, do you have any food, a ship covered in fungus, an island covered in fungus, eating the fungus, becoming the fungus, the pool body,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #464 – READALONG: The Commuter by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #464 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Evan Lampe talk about The Commuter by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Amazing Stories, August-September 1953, the original magazine art, getting the TV adaptation out of the way, remotely redeeming?, intellect, a split, skipping scenes, a chore, enthusiasm, what is there to like about the TV adaptation, emotionally affecting, painful, paranoid schizophrenia, changes, empathy, heartbreaking, watching the TV show first, emotional power, the ending, on the nose, confused, an emotional poignant story, wish come true, saccharine, fake world, getting back to the real world, fraught, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, suicides?, the lady commuter’s creation?, fairy godmother, a place to not deal with your life, fantasy, the script makes no sense, a psychotic incident, the pedophile, why is he commuting?, is he dead, being redeemed, or punished?, to avoid pain, foreshadowing of showing him later, its addictive, it’s like a drug, like taking a sugar substitute, walled off from the real reality, they never had a child, what’s not explained, would his son reappear?, did he change reality?, is he flitting between two realities?, in order to keep the new reality going…, the border between reality and unreality, such a happy trip, friendly and helping, suddenly happier, they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, maybe they wanted to adapt Now Wait For Last Year, New York ’36, those themes, The Cookie Lady, walking back to the house, broken-down van, a mugger, the park bench scene, Adjustment Bureau and Adjustment Team, a friend with a car, commuting into the city on time, Matt Damon, explaining the plot, word salad, in the context of the story, the titular commuter is confused in the story, she’s faking at the beginning of the TV show, she’s luring him into the town, is she trying to help people, angelic vs. demonic, the girl in the cafe, she’s very good with pain, unwittingly, sucks the life out of him, Macon Heights, a wound on his face, is she a vampire?, the substructure, the Borgesian element, the extra story, a ticket clerk grandfather, projecting his own issues, The Cosmic Puppets, a broken marriage for no reason, he writes his reality, so fun, Puttering About In A Small Land, why none of these are working, The Twilight Zone, a new version of Black Mirror, cynical, technology, opening and closing narration, “emotional punch”, what’s really interesting about this story, they’re not easily classifiable, Roog, Beyond The Door, Of Withered Apples, fairy tales, some sort of fantasy, no technology, village council is a kind of technology?, looking it as a fantasy story, structurally it fits speculative fiction, epistemological fiction, a writing exercise, a writing prompt: you walk into your house and it is completely different, the two apartment scenes, Paine, what she’s going to be doing tomorrow morning, as you do, he rushes home, how much of an asshole Paine is, gender assumptions, Marissa went to another reality for a moment, with a female lead, how passive the girlfriend is in the story, maybe I ought to get myself another fella, are you serious right now?, that doesn’t matter, a dystopia for the lady, she’s in hell now, being funny, he named him Paine after all, how deep did he go?, and now he’s got a wife and the baby and they don’t matter, the baby glared up at him, who the fuck are you guys?, Jimmy glared up, it must have been the Sun, poking the baby, a great sense of humour, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges, cosmic horror, a weird fiction story, the branches of a chain of business, an insurance company, prediction, real estate, Krispy Kreme, south of the Fraser (river), it becomes real, why does Paine care at all?, he wants something, he wants to escape, unhappy at work, middle management, disappearing, Paine is much more interested in his stuff and the story in Macon Heights, intellectually curious, there’s something wrong in Basingstoke, fuck Basingstoke, which used teabag in which mug, he’s kind of a shit, ‘I’m more afraid of your fake smile than my (psychotic) son’, three kids by three different mothers, a radical change, am I ill?, the tea and the coffee and the cake is good, his familiar blue couch, cigarette burns on its arms, his desk, his fishing rods, he had purchased, the whole story is materialistic, its about the city and the relationship with the suburbs, ecological narrative, the politics were inverted, the stories are quite grounded, meaningful, it’s 100% about gentrification, he’s become a part of it, the suburbs that almost existed exist now, Macon Heights couldn’t exist without warping the city, how the suburbs transform the city, the story needs to be set in the USA, Levittown, the rise of conservative politics, Robert Moses, New York City, The Power Broker, the racist aspect of the Levittown suburbs, Martians Come In Clouds, Newspapers.com, Philip K. Dick and his wife were going to city councils, it only lost by one vote, when your character roles a 1 on the D20, trying to ground it in some sort of probabilistic reality, there’s no explanation, in a puff of logic, seeing the mechanisms going on behind it, a government that runs reality, men in blue suits are painting the next moment, a probabilistic cloud (of realities), an onion and potato field, the arbitrary nature of it all, walking in the air, the heights are something done by the developers, where they jump of the train, the story went off the rails, we always stop here, how are they going to get back on the train, ridiculous, For A Foggy Night by Larry Niven, parallel worlds, infecting our world, larger and larger ripples, reality intrusion, rewritten and unrecognizable, he’s always been there, Zoroastrian deities transform a town, certain powers, bad at remembering, living through it, panic attack, my wife is changing on me!, my carpet’s not going to be the same!, this is my life now?, Once In A Lifetime (the Talking Heads), Nicolas Cage, Family Man (2000), Poundbury, designed to embody radical social planning innovations, an ideal town, what is that couple who’ve just been married doing there?, randomly hugged by a stranger, when we’re playing Sim City, god mode, a bunch of negotiations and forces, what was strange about Macon Heights was that it was just another suburb, little Bob Critchet, their branch expansion, the infection of this reality has spread, some trend or force in the universe comes into your awareness, some horrible incident in Florida (as usual), bubbling up to the surface, a gradual realization, seeping into reality, Upon The Dull Earth, its spreading, Time Out Of Joint, a little bit off, percolating into the surrounding structure, almost like the subconscious, knowing something you didn’t know, there is a country in Central America…, popping up out of the subconscious (out of the reality), Kelowna or Nanaimo, there’s another world out there, Panama, a made up name Pan and Am(ericas)!, so duh!, sudden sharp horrors, the beach eroded or reshaped, dealing with the subconscious, outside of your awareness, in L.A., mysterious, your brain is doing all these mysterious things, why it’s not science fiction or fantasy, the epistemological and the psychological, a cool idea, pulling different threads out of it, why do they keep the names the same (or change them), Jacobsen, like he’s a detective on an epistemological investigation, Jesse loves the story, do you literally understand what is going on?, is she Prince Charles?, Ed’s story, its not addressed, are they in Hell?, not dealing with trauma, now Jesse has a handle, he the quality continues to evolve (or not).

The Commuter by Philip K. Dick from Amazing Stories, August-September 1953

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #099 – The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #099

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Damned Thing by Ambrose Bierce

The Damned Thing was first published in Tales From New York Town Topics, December 7, 1893.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #040 – The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #040

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Night Wire by H.F. Arnold

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Night Wire was first published in Weird Tales, September 1926.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson