Jul 2

The "Suggestions For Podcasts" thread


Some stories I would love to hear reviewed on The Elder Sign podcast: 1) Anything by T.E.D. Klein, whose output has been low but whose stories have been consistently excellent. Especially the meta-HPL novella "Black Man With a Horn" or the very frightening "Children of the Kingdom" or really, anything he has written, 2) Ambrose Bierce's "The Damned Thing". "Bitter Bierce" combined sardonic wit with what could almost be considered proto-splatterpunk in this story that is among his best. 3) Ray Bradbury, especially early in his career, wrote some really creepy stories - in addition to "The Veldt", "The Lake" or "The Small Assassin" or "The Skeleton", maybe. Or two of the creepier stories he wrote, in my opinion - "At Midnight in the Month of June" - a story about the serial killer that stalks unseen through the events in the collection "Dandelion Wine", whom we finally meet in this story that never appeared in that collection but who sits quietly in a room, bright-eyed and thinking, in this independent story that was included in the collection "The Toynbee Convector". Or "Heavy-Set", never collected in any of his collections but which I found in that surprisingly definitive anthology of the 1950s/1960s SoCal school of horror, "The Playboy Book of Horror and the Supernatural". 4) Fritz Leiber - Fritz was great at finding horror in big cities, especially his novel "Our Lady of Darkness" which uses the history of San Francisco admirably to create an antique occult science to threaten the hero, who was based not-so-thinly on Leiber himself; his short story "The Black Gondolier" does the same thing with 1960s Venice, California. Just some suggestions, I'm sure others have more. Loving the podcasts!

Mick, thanks for these suggestions (and sorry for the much-tardy response). I'm always happy to have a list like this. I'm especially eager to read some Klein, who I've heard of but (shamefully) have never read.

Jul 25

Nice idea for a thread!


Personally I'd like to see more coverage of female authors, although in my male ignorance I don't have any specific suggestions. I've dipped into these short story collections, though, which both seem like they'd be good places to start:






And if anyone has any suggestions for female authors of weird fiction I'd love to hear them!

Agreed! We've got Shirley Jackson and Caitlin R. Kiernan coming up, and I think we'll have some Edith Nesbit on a ballot before the end of the year.

Aug 29

Daphne Du Maurier's short stories "Don't Look Now" (adapted into a moody film by Nicholas Roeg in the 1970s) and "The Birds" (adapted by Hitchcock in the 1960s) would both be worthwhile.

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Caitlín R. Kiernan is still on my list of I-never-read-but-want-to-read authors; she is a transgender lesbian from Providence (so at least no standard male author) and often mentioned in discussions about weird tales. Anyone read something by her? As Wikipedia says it:


'In her blog she stated:

"I'm getting tired of telling people that I'm not a 'horror' writer. I'm getting tired of them not listening, or not believing. Most of them seem suspicious of my motives. I've never tried to fool anyone. I've said I don't write genre 'horror.' A million, billion times have I said that. It's not that there are not strong elements of horror present in a lot of my writing. It's that horror never predominates those works. You may as well call it psychological fiction or awe fiction. I don't think of horror as a genre. I think of it – to paraphrase Doug Winter – as an emotion, and no one emotion will ever characterize my fiction." Kiernan has also stated, regarding the role of plot in creative writing: "anyone can come up with the artifice/conceit of a 'good story.' Story bores me. Which is why critics complain it's the weakest aspect of my work. Because that's essentially purposeful. I have no real interest in plot. Atmosphere, mood, language, character, theme, etc., that's the stuff that fascinates me. Ulysses should have freed writers from plot."

In his review of her novel 2009 The Red Tree, H. P. Lovecraft scholar S. T. Joshi writes: "Kiernan already ranks with the most distinctive stylists in our field – Edgar Allan Poe, Lord Dunsany, Thomas Ligotti. With Ligotti's regrettable retreat into fictional silence, hers is now the voice of weird fiction." In their introduction to The Weird, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer write that Kiernan has "become perhaps the best weird writer of her generation." '

Jul 25

Sounds very interesting indeed (although I'm slightly wary of anyone who's that uninterested in plot)! I think she has been on one of the polls for future stories to be covered on the podcast actually, so maybe we'll get some discussion of a story of hers at some point.

I wish we'd had this when we recorded our discussion of "The Ammonite Violin," but even without her explicit statement we noticed.

When I listened to the Ammonite Violin, My first though was the song Dreadful Wind and the Rain. Nowhere near a perfect parallel, but even so. That song goes back a good bit. Wondering if there are roots they share. Beyond just murder ballad.

Yes, that's a great thought. I don't think we talked nearly enough about the music that supplies both the main action and the parenthetical title. We certainly should have spent some time on the idea of a "murder ballad" given that the music that appears in the story is not a ballad.

New Posts
  • Just finished reading this story of Poe, and I haven't gone through the podcast yet, but I really liked this detective story by Poe, the story starts weirdly enough where we are given kind of info dump by Poe, regarding people who are analysts and people who are genius. From my understanding what he wanted to say was people who read other people can be termed as genius, because analysts operate within a given set of rules, like chess players who follow a stringent set of rules to win. From this we are quickly introduced to our watsonesque narrator who meets an eccentric man in Paris, called as Dupin, and they quickly hit it off, as they share the same interests. But Dupin is not your normal person, who can see through people as if he watching someone through a window, and the way he arrives at conclusions seemed so much like Sherlock Holmes to me. Then we have mysterious murders happening in Rue Morgue, and police find themselves at wit's end finding exactly what can be motive for murders, also the witnesses can't seem to identify the second voice in the room which seems harsh, and unidentifiable. The way Dupin arrives at conclusion is fantastic, and reminds the methods Sherlock Holmes methods. I don't know who inspired whom but Dupin & Sherlock have lot of characteristics in common, they are interested only in solving the mystery, and finding out the truth, although Sherlock sometimes does show some humane characteristics. Also Dupin is clearly french while Sherlock also seems to have some French connection, but are interested in music, although Dupin seems to be more inclined towards theater and books.
  • What an odd story! As with a few before it, I didn't enjoy this one much when reading it, but the discussion in the episode really helped put a better perspective on it. In particular I really liked the framing of it as a plague story with the spectre of cholera hanging over everything (for some reason it hadn't occurred to me that the omen of death was an omen of them getting cholera), and the idea of it as a reaction to the science of the Enlightenment. Thanks also for making the weird political digression make sense! It completely boggled my mind what it had to do with anything else in the story. I'm still not completely convinced, but I guess it worked for Poe. Overall I thought this story had a lot of great set-up; the evocative description of the cholera epidemic and the tantalizing hints of the tomes in the library would make an excellent introduction to a different weird story. As it stands, though, the description of the beast and the revelation about it didn't do anything for me. Maybe that's a problem of perspective as a modern reader, which at least would fit with the theme of the story in a roundabout sort of way.
  • Great podcast. About the political situation in the 1840’s there was in 1848 an outbreak almost simultaneously of revolutionwry reform of governments all over the place. The old monarchies were changed to the forms that held until World War One. A history podcast I listen to covers this year in a whole series. It is called “Revolutions” it is done by Mike Duncan. Each series he covers a different revolution and in series 7 he covers 1848. It is about 20 some episodes each from 30 to 50 mins long about this year. I’m not this far in his podcast yet, I’m on series 5 currently, but each episode is extremely well made and informative while being entertaining. I’m sure Poe was current with the political tempest that was brewing at the time he wrote this story. It makes me even more interested to get to this series about the history.

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