The SFFaudio Podcast #578 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons, and Trish E. Matson talk about She by H. Rider Haggard
Talked about on today’s show:
how hard it is to listen to podcasts, 12 hours, jam packed with ideas, all the movies, both audio dramas, comic books, a cartoon adaptation, sloshing together, starting with the ending, Job not Job, Job died, the everydayman, he has a very specific descendant: Sam Gamgee, less pleasant language, racist assumptions, she’s evil, they don’t see it, get the elephants out of the room, not a racist book at all, four movies, the 1925, the 1935, the 1965, the 2001, the 1909, the 1984, the Flash Gordon episode, great perfect film, Will is a troll, laying out Jesse’s case, none of the adaptations are faithful, the 2006 audio drama, Tim Mcenery (from Blackadder), a very wise person wrote it, compressing 12 hours down into 2, they don’t usually set it in Africa, Samarkand, filmed in Bulgaria, set in the Arctic, what were they thinking?, silent, Bulgarian extras, Ultima Thule, themes, shells of locations, the UK, the backstory, out of Africa and Greece and Egypt, this visit to Zanzibar, the land of Kor, Egyptian Arabic Black, even more fictional, Natal, South Africa, they’re basically Tharks, Ayesha is Princess of Helium, the prototype to Galadriel, she’s Circe, an immortal wizard, the 2006 audio drama, Mohamed was killed off, the brown man in the hot pot, they fear for their own lives, cannibals, they attempt to come to Job and Holly and Leo come to his rescue, defending their own from being anthropophaged, revenge, resentful of the orders of She, not allowed to eat the whites, killing people in anticipation of being cooked, a cartoon, two explorers in pith helmets in a cauldron, its more complex than that, its not focused on race, what what?, delightful and not racist, the fictional people who live around Kor, the descendants who intermingled and degenerated, racial degeneration, the inversion of British customs, eminently civilized, one of the savage tropes, you’re reading that in, every couple of hundred years we slaughter them, this is a book about gender and gender relations not about race, not especially racist, snow white, she has ivory breasts, the whiter you are the more beautiful you are, that’s gender not race, she’s an evil white goddess, white savior syndrome, colonialist themes, he’s pretty conscious of a lot of things, a vehicle for the tropes, this myth of Africa, the inversion of our customs, an inversion of our hospitality, The Africa That Never Was by Dorthy Hammond and Alta Jablow, a justification for colonialism, literary sensationalism, titillating enough, a literary theme, fairy tales and nursery rhymes, a vivid new variation, the negation of European values, semi-matriarchal culture, the two who are noble savages, one of the best characters in the novel, my baboon, falsify it, cannibalism as mythological, ritualistic cannibalism of loved ones, headhunting, all over the world, its wonderful to eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood, a sexy subject, Melville’s most famous book (in his lifetime), when that book blew up, amazing story, everyone else is doing the cannibalism, he didn’t have anything good to say about Irishmen and Greeks, unpleasant passages, thieves and sneaks, our insular prejudices are most of them based on common sense, these black gentry, fit for muck, thinking during the book, so beautiful, a compliment, he looks English, droopy or something?, race science and social darwinism, his weak genes give out, stronger genes, a perfect time, yucky racism instances, totally obsessed with this trio, a board game, Horace “Baboon” Holly, Leo is a lion, Job is a pig, going back to Circe, SHE is a snake, undulating, both become obsessed with her, a terrible beauty, massive one page notes, IMMORTALITY, how it got into H. Rider Haggard’s hands (as the editor), THE FLAME, MUMMIFICATION, a bonfire, mummies for firewood, the mummy craze, mummydust as medicine, when we do it its cool, driving Job to the hotpot, when Odysseus lands, pigs at the dinner table, never explained in the story are the wolves and lions, enslaved to Circe, tame, women being dominant, different kinds of cultures, Philip K. Dick’s Strange Eden, tamed by the witch, the first WAND as a magical instrument, there’s no monkey or ape on Circe’s island, Horace studies ancient languages, a keen mind and a freaky body that’s reminding everyone of Darwin, let’s go look at each other in the mirror, so interesting, Ayesha does the same thing to Holly, look at you and look at me, your quasi-son, never explicitly explained, why does she die, yo?, providence, has she done it before?, she hasn’t been back there, dancing in the flames, the flames vs. the gauze, she’s wrapped like a mummy, literally wrapped, veiled in every respect, she’s TOO pretty, TOO beautiful, makes men stupid and men evil, she has Darth Vader powers, she’s an evil Jedi, she can kill people with a look, why does Leo go on this trip?, his name means avenger, he doesn’t act like he’s out for revenge, the mystery, all the women love him already, fawning women, terrible for him, a rebellion against his adoptive father, Horace gets excited about all the good shooting down there, youth being inquisitive, he ends up fulfilling his atavistic destiny, she’s getting him back, showing that vision, Christopher Lee, he’s been wizarded, Peter Cushing doesn’t look like a baboon (he looks like a greyhound), Ayesha shows up in three other books, Ayesha: Return Of She, Tibet, Lost Horizon, She And Allan, contrived reason to visit Kor, uppity Zulu woman, an H. Rider Haggard trope, a desire to love native women, unnatural and doomed, they’re all wearing the ring of power, they’re all turning into Saruman, the Haggard/Tolkien connection, C.S. Lewis, the White Witch is based on She, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, similar in the face, the year this story is set, martini rifle, Zulu (1964), the book ends 22 years after the events started, there and back again (two years), the play in the caves, the whole lost civilization thing, Edgar Allan Poe’s Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym, Conan, Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, something even older, Plato and Atlantis, Philip Jose Farmer, when the Sahara was green, there were dinosaurs there, H. Beam Piper’s Omnilingual, the pots and heads, and the pot sherd, Plato’s the Myth Of The Cave, group-think, religion, the 17th of March 2029, the scarab, the ancient connection, Kor as Pompeii, one note on lost race – lost colony, ancient active civilizations, Mormonism, Andrew Jackson on the Indian mounds, the great Zimbabwe, it has to be an ancient race of white people, race sciences, an ancient white source, Hadon Of Ancient Opar, Time’s Last Gift, the green Sahara, a deity in that pantheon, a rumour of Her in Tibet, in the framing, they’re planning to go off to the East, James Hilton’s Shangri-La (Lost Horizon), Iron Fist, influential on Henry Miller, J.R.R. Tolkien, Margaret Atwood, H.P. Lovecraft,
The romantic, semi-Gothic, quasi-moral tradition here represented was carried far down the nineteenth century by such authors as Joseph Sheridan LeFanu, Thomas Preskett Prest with his famous Varney, the Vampyre (1847), Wilkie Collins, the late Sir H. Rider Haggard (whose She is really remarkably good),
Lovecraft favourites, holy shit! that’s a Lovecraft line, Algernon Blackwood, a survival of a hugely remote period, and called them gods, She is a Goddess, She talks a lot about death and change, Shadow Out of…, Facts Concerning The Late Arthur Jermyn And His Family, and Arthur Jermyn soaked himself in oil, his peculiar personal appearance, peculiar features, learning was in his blood, the Congo region, supposed antiquities, Observations On Several Parts Of Africa, when in his cups, under a Congo moon, abysmal treasure vaults, even a Pliny, weird cravings (carvings), his grandmother in her box, the Horace Holly story, he looks like a monkey, this horrible truth revealed to us via Darwin, Ayesha is lily white flames and gauze, this tension between atavism (reversal to type), get your breeding right, the super-concerns of 19th century people, racism as a reaction…, lichy ancestors, Innsmouth, race-mixing, interbreeding with fishmen is a problem, mind-transference, Cushing and Lee and Ursula undress, after WWI why?, Roxanne, The Man Who Would Be King, the Mountains Of The Moon in Uzbekistan?, blowing minds, as if nothing has ever happened, North By Northwest (1959), Paul’s case, blonding her up, reasons for being blonde, our racialization of Arabs, the money shot, her raven hair over her white porcelain body, the whole hair thing, Galadriel and Gimli, Tolkien’s version of immortality, let’s just go off to the West, Primeval Thule, drug addict elves, high on lembas, black milk, types of immortality in She, reincarnation, a Greek who’d falling in love with an Egyptian, Ayesha as Cleopatra, would Haggard have cared or known?, that Egyptian asp, a callback vs. a throwback, the death glance, though at times they sleep and are forgotten, how enchanting some of the language is, poetic level language, written in six weeks, the original serialization in The Graphic, The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle, Victorian photoshop, fake documentation, verisimilitude, a true document!, when She actually shows up, dreams and visions, the lessons of Jurassic Park and Jaws, everybody speaks English, the 2006 audio drama, the translation, a ton of poetic repetition, all these conversations are happening in ancient Arabic, Holly is the main character, she leaned back on the couch, oh man, things upon the earth though knowest not, Jews, there be a thing called Change, three times 2,000 years have passed, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, the body moves, She’s force powering him back to life, what does this all mean?, she burns up the corpses and steps into the flame, stranger is my name, here I tarry, why dost though believe, the beauty of Helen, wisdom of Solomon, that ye cal death, barbarians lower than beasts, in the original book, you can’t look at god, Moses is permitted to see his hind parts, a Lovecraft swoon, beautiful and terrible, all about Jesus, her historical connection, Horace talking, she’s a wizard, she’s a lich, Wisdom’s Daughter, she’s travelling around like a wizard, gone for a whole generation, force glance, laser eyes, why the book is so fun, She’s that living connection, The Boat Of A Million Years, Jesse is sorry he has to read so much, they’re rivals for her affection, all about chosen family, you’ve been kidnapped, long strong arms, a martini rifle and a revolver, he’s got a good heart, a good word for Job, the mark of civilization is not knowledge but compassion, it’s fine she killed my wife, this section is insane, the terror of the leaping flame, the wise sadness of the tombs, all metaphor, the white shroud she wore, lovely tempting womanhood, she’s a virgin, so my Holly, the lagnuage is biblical, Allan Quatermain and Solomon Kane, I’m inclined to flattery, now my waist, this golden snake that is to large, she doesn’t like her clothes, that lady has a wasp waist, huge baboon hands, he has to squeeze her a bit, oh Holly, I am but a man!, Heaven knows what she was, I worshiped her as never woman was worshiped, what about gay men?, so horribly wonderfully, She is so fuckin evil, She cast a spell on him, the sight is sweet, the dear pleasure that is our sex’s only right, a buttoned down Cambridge don, century days, she’s lonely, she doesn’t have any books, spend all your days getting paler and paler talking to corpses, she has her TV, it is no life, She says She’s in Hell, a good thing for everybody, I’m going to England and replace Queen Victoria, it’s Dracula, Anno: Dracula, this book is really influential, the only thing comparable, an adventure of history, Jules Verne’s extraordinary voyages, Roman guards, the 2nd Brenda Fraser Mummy movie, riffing off of She, Mountains Of The Moon (1990), Burton and Speake, Stargate: SG-1, why its important to have diversity in its command structure, Space Vampires aka Lifeforce (1985), female seductresses, women’s rights, the Victoria stuff, you can betray your queen, what the hell are we accepting them for, foisting kids and relatives, The Rock, its really important: this is about class, Sam Gamgee is a servant, this race thing is used to divide us, when She says want me to kill her now, should I kill him now?, Kylo Ren and evil vs. good, how formative, an early adventure quasi-fantasy, its all science, rules for what you can see in the glass, she’s elf so she has magic, now I know how this works, what are they gonna do for twelve hours, Maissa had no idea what was coming, wow!, so lyrical, metaphysical, all the Lost World books are here, finding a fount, needed wanted more of it, his first big hit, She is what he would be remembered for, Indiana Jones did that, Rumpole Of The Bailey, the comic, Horace isn’t baboon enough, I wreath a corona around his head, what makes this book so good, Horace Holly’s a great character to see it through, why didn’t you choose Horace?, She does choose him in a way, why She chose Leo, its all about the physical beauty, her whole basis for him, he was pretty, I poured all my love into her, more importantly you’re ugly, which of them is actually ugly, Ayesha is the most monstrous hollowed out garbage person, a whole level of how do you judge a person, this person looks like they’ve had too many sandwiches, you might want to marry a supermodel, hockey shoes, beauty vs. personality and principles, abandoning principles, Horace sees his adopted son as a rival, he fantasizes about polyamory, she’s saving herself for the guy she murdered 6,000 years ago, hidden herself in a tomb, a pyramid, a story of horror, at the end of the 1919 hardcover:
To H. R. H.
Not in the waste beyond the swamps and sand,
The fever-haunted forest and lagoon,
Mysterious Kor thy walls forsaken stand,
Thy lonely towers beneath the lonely moon,
Not there doth Ayesha linger, rune by rune
Spelling strange scriptures of a people banned.
The world is disenchanted; over soon
Shall Europe send her spies through all the land.
Nay, not in Kor, but in whatever spot,
In town or field, or by the insatiate sea,
Men brood on buried loves, and unforgot,
Or break themselves on some divine decree,
Or would o’erleap the limits of their lot,
There, in the tombs and deathless, dwelleth SHE!
a life after its life, its an immortal book!, the Citadel of Truth, the Goddess of Truth, the dead orb above and the dead city below, long departed glory, their all mummified, they worshiped Truth to much, styling herself as the goddess of Truth, She dies after getting what She wants, the 1935 ending, immortality’s all great and that, the hope we might be reunited again, traditional Christian belief, pushing it away, forever in Heaven, the inverse of Heaven, if She keeps coming back, every sequel, a metaphysical aspect, a theosophical aspect, vehicles for philosophizing about man’s place in the universe, a sock puppet for H.R.H.’s theosophical ideas, what is the novel actually doing?, maybe a stand-in for H.R.H., so surprising, what’s the meta-text?, the Victorians and the things they didn’t want to face, compartmentalizing, he is his life, a very English thing, let’s go see this movie (because I need spend time with a human), my only friend, dying wish, you’re not fit for society so you may as well raise my son, almost homoerotic, appreciating a male form without being totally gay, basically bribes him, a bizarre opening, Christoph Waltz, I’ve been watching you for two years, why you don’t get married right away, gauzey goggles, a vision, gametes gotta gamete (meet), that outer society, women choosing the men, social security, a social safety net, a nanny state, goats, a communitarian society, why we need to expand the public domain, the writer gets paid, Andrew Yang ‘1K, bro’, Playstation 5, there are alternate ways, how writers gotta be paid, living authors should be paid royalties for your works (unless you’re in a country that cant access them for legal reasons), going away from a money based society, the average Canadian writer gets paid $7k per year, free healthcare, how the postal workers in Yugoslavia had their own vacation spot, why not do that?, postal workers aren’t going away anytime soon, alternative forms, the artificial scarcity system, you clearly haven’t listened to my piracy, join my pirate team!, let’s do these shares out equally, with the internet now, the amounts of research we are able to do for this book are insane, spend more time not doing horrible things for cash, bodies rented out for paying the rent, alternate, mercy killing, maybe rose twitter knows what its doing.
Posted by Jesse Willis
5 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #578 – READALONG: She by H. Rider Haggard”
Late to the party, but I just finished the episode and really enjoyed the discussion. SHE has been one of my favorite books since I first read it in high school.
My dream casting would probably be Flash Gordon-era Sam Jones (the ur-himbo) as Leo and a classier British Dan Hedaya as Holly.
I think Haggard did more or less invent the lost race/lost civilization story essentially across three early novels: First, King Solomon’s Mines, where they found ruins, but they were associated with a known historical empire (King Solomon’s Israel); then SHE, where they found ruins of a previously-unknown civilization (Kor) and finally in Allan Quatermain, where they found a previously-unknown civilization that had been cut off from contact with the outside world, but which was still inhabited by the descendants of its original founders and which still maintained its original culture & language. (Then others — Burroughs & Merritt in particular — took the idea and ran with it; and I still think that the original Stargate movie is a better Haggard film than any of the ones that were actually adaptations of his work.)
That last assertion, is pretty damn insightful! and welcome to the party, it is ongoing :D
Thank you! Happy to be here!
Also, forgot to mention this the first time around, but in that 1919 poem, I wonder if H.R.H. didn’t stand for Henry Rider Haggard, but meant it was dedicated to His Royal Highness (George V, I think, assuming the poem did date to 1919).
Interesting. Again, I assumed that it stood for Haggard. We have more lost civilization shows upcoming, BTW. :D
That makes me very happy!