Forum Posts

ktvician
May 14, 2022
In Atoz
Your recent podcast on Dragons of Autumn Twilight reminded me of the many high fantasy novels my friends and I read in the in 1980's, when we were very into D&D. A similar set of titles that might be of interest are the Deryni series by Katherine Kurtz. It's got a bunch of stuff Glenn should love: a young prince forced to become king when his father is assassinated, court intrigue, knights, magic (which is really more like Deryni superpowers than D&D style magic, though there are sometimes location and ritual requirements), and a pre-Reformation Church, complete with a schism about whether magic or the Deryni themselves are inherently evil. Oh, and an external threat from a Moorish (?) kingdom! The first trilogy, The Chronicles of the Deryni, starts with Deryni Rising. There are something like 15 books but I just read the first trilogy.
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ktvician
May 08, 2022
In Atoz
I enjoyed this podcast while standing in JFK airport, waiting for my luggage. A bit of Gotham there, I suppose. I'm not a comic book reader much anymore, though I was in the late 70's to early 90's, but never a Batman reader. I read this collection from my library's e-book collection. It was certainly a fun investigation into Gotham's deep past that pre-dates Batman, and a reminder that none of us know a place as well as we think we do. Minor Spoiler Alert! One question: if Dick's in Arkham, disguised as Joker to get info, where's the real Joker?
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ktvician
May 03, 2022
In Gene Wolfe
I found this short New Yorker article about Wolfe from a few years ago. Might be of interest to some.
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ktvician
Apr 24, 2022
In Gene Wolfe
I've been trying something new. I read a lot of novels, so I have started fitting in a short story or two between them, mostly from this collection of Gene Wolfe stories. I learned a new word today, autochthon, courtesy of the story The Cat. It's in the New Sun setting, with references to Severian the Great as autarch. Autochthon means something like person from the Earth/soil, but in this context it means native or indigenous.
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ktvician
Feb 19, 2022
In Claytemple Fiction
“Some people say this old cemetery is haunted by evil spirits.” “Really? Evil spirits?” “You must have noticed. Some cross the road or walk by really fast.” “Some people are stupid.” “Couple of weeks ago, I heard a boy tell his friend his mum would be furious if she knew he was there. She won’t even drive past. She goes another street north.” “Unbelievable.” “She was a teen at a Halloween party here twenty years ago. All kinds of frightening stuff like strange lights and scary voices.” “I remember that. We got them good that night, didn’t we?” “Before I got here. I was still alive then.” Another short piece I wrote in response to a prompt I saw on Twitter.
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ktvician
Jan 13, 2022
In Atoz
I first read Starship Troopers in fifth grade from our classroom library, back in the late 70's. I liked it so many times that my teacher let me keep the copy, which I had for a long time (40-ish years), until it got water damaged in my shed. Pretty sure it was the edition (or at least cover art) shown here: https://www.tor.com/2016/09/06/a-genre-cornerstone-starship-troopers-by-robert-a-heinlein/ I love this book. It might be my favorite book - it's a contest with The Hobbit and The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. I've probably read it 15 times, including last year. As a kid, it was an action-packed military SF story; probably one of the first SF novels I ever read. As a young adult, I appreciated more of the world-building detail. Now, I see it as those things and as commentary on its times. Just recently, I finally realized that Juan Rico is Filipino, for example. Crusty white guy author in the 50's made his protagonist Filipino - baller move. As an engineer, I love the suits. It's obvious that Heinlein thought pretty hard about some aspects. He talks at some length about force-feedback systems to move the suit. It's the earliest example I've ever found of head-up displays (or even augmented reality), position/navigation, and red/blue force tracking. Heinlein invented all that stuff in 1957 or 58! We eventually put it in aircraft in the 70's and ground vehicles in the 90's. Pretty soon, we'll finally get it down to the infantry - almost 80 years after Heinlein came up with it. I actually don't mind the movie. I thought I'd hate it, but when I actually sat down to watch it, I thought it was OK.
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ktvician
Jan 09, 2022
In Claytemple Fiction
FWIW, I am on Twitter at @StinkenderKase and try to follow along with @horrorprompt. Over the last couple of weeks, I've patched together the below Gothic/Weird pastiche. I have no idea where this is going, since I've somehow roped in vampires, werewolves, mad scientists, and Lovecraftian artifacts. The wind made the difficult climb up the cliff torturous. But, he’d made it to the castle undetected. He opened the window and slid inside. The fire flared. “Admirable, but I would have been happy to let you in the door,” said the count. #horrorprompt 575 torturous “I, too, know what it means to be exiled,” he continued. “You hope that by destroying me, you will be welcome in your father’s home again. “There are times when I might afford you that opportunity. But not tonight. Sit, and hear my story…” #horrorprompt 576 exiled “Please, try the wine.” “I thought you didn’t drink… it.” “I must thank Mr. Stoker for that excellent line, should we ever meet. I enjoy the taste but it doesn’t fortify as it does you. I am a rare sort of carnivore, as you’ve heard…” #horrorprompt 577 carnivore “It’s too late for you to return to the village.” The count rose and pulled a bell rope. The adventurer looked past him to a jade statue on a shelf. “Ah, my idol. From my travels before I settled here centuries ago. A tale for tomorrow night.” #horrorprompt 578 idol The door opened after a brief lull. A large man-beast stood in the hall. “Do you have a room ready?” “Yes, Excellency.” “Please take our guest to it.” “Ursi can guide you to the village tomorrow. Or stay so we can continue our conversation.” #horrorprompt 579 lull He followed the bear-like servant down the hall and a flight of stairs. The wind that had chilled him through his heavy coat had quieted to a whisper, warning him not to stay. “Your room, sir. You should find everything you need inside.” #horrorprompt 580 whisper He entered and saw the large bed. It was so inviting. He was tired after the climb, the wine, and the warmth of the fire. He heard a latch click as the count’s servant closed the door. #horrorprompt 581 tired He sat on the bed, unsure what to do. His thoughts were murky from the late hour and wine. All his life he’d been warned the count was a monster. He’d even come to destroy him. But the man he’d met was interesting and charming. #horrorprompt 583 murky He untied his boots and laid back on the bed. He felt a strange darkness rise from underneath and wrap him as he fell asleep. In a dream, the full moon looked down, then transformed into the grinning jade idol. #horrorprompt 584 from beneath you He pulled the curtains. The windows had a crystalline sheen. He was washing up when Ursi entered. “The snow will make the road to the village difficult, sir.” “I accept the count’s offer to stay, then. At least until the snow clears.” #horrorprompt 585 crystalline He opened the curtains wider. Sunlight scattered through the frost-covered glass, illuminating the chamber in which he had slept the previous night. “Sir, a cold luncheon is prepared. Of course, the count will not be attending at this hour.” #horrorprompt 586 glass “Thank you. I’ll find my way.” “Very good. Left, then take the stairs down.” After dressing, he did as instructed. The walls and ceiling joined in three obtuse angles that couldn’t possibly fit. Disoriented, he stumbled on the stairs. #horrorprompt 587 obtuse “Ah, there you are.” “I… was going to lunch. Your man directed me.” “My castle has been built up over centuries. It’s a bit of a maze. You’ll get used to it.” “You told me to leave when the snow clears.” “If that’s what you want.” #horrorprompt 588 maze The window was open, but the cold was offset by the blazing fire. He was startled by several blood-curdling cries from outside. “My neighbors are making the most of the full moon tonight,” said the count. #horrorprompt 589 curdle After the howls faded, he looked for the jade statue on the shelf, but it was gone. He thought to ask about it, but decided patience was needed. “Sir, you have many obscure books. Might I have leave to read here while you rest tomorrow?” #horrorprompt 590 patience There was a clatter at the window. A bird? In a piping voice, it spoke to the count. “How remarkable! Your bird sounds human.” “Not a bird. It started as a homunculus, but it is now…unique. A gift from an alchemist of my acquaintance.” #horrorprompt 591 homonculus “Ursi, the furs, please.” The bear-man brought a fur coat and hat, and handed them to the guest. “My friend tells me the neighbors have had a success. Let us see.” Near the castle, they walked down a narrow chute and saw the blood-covered snow. #horrorprompt 592 Ursi had walked with them. His nose twitched with the scent of blood. He looked, watching for the creatures who had done this. The count’s face was blank in the spectral moonlight reflected from the snow. His eyes blazed with infernal heat. #horrorprompt 593 blank The torn flesh of a large stag laid on the snow. It was surrounded by paw prints as big as a man’s hand. “Unfortunate. A few more years of growth and that noble animal could have been taken by the Divja Jaga.” #horrorprompt 594 torn flesh The moon’s radiance faded as a cloud crossed over it. He saw glowing red and yellow lights deep in the trees. “You kill my animal but dare not approach me,” shouted the count. “You are not wolves, only hyenas.” #horrorprompt 596 radiance
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ktvician
Dec 26, 2021
In Elder Sign
I recently read The Saga of King Kull by Robert E Howard. It was a collection of 1 poem and 3 short stories, about 90 pages total (e-book pages, whatever that translates to on paper). Published in Warsaw, Poland, but in English. The poem is The King And The Oak and the three stories are The Shadow Kingdom, The Mirrors Of Tuzun Thune, and Kings Of The Night. The stories evolve from sword-and-sorcery to historical fiction/time travel. Howard uses names of fictional and real groups of people: Kull is an Atlantean who has taken the kingship of Valusia, but he meets Picts, Britons, Danes, and Romans. Howard uses some of the same tropes as Conan - temples of serpents, shapeshifters, Kull is a noble barbarian in a decadent older society, etc. I also saw some similarities to Moorcock's Eternal Champion. The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune had a little Jack Vance feel to it as well.
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ktvician
Dec 04, 2021
In Claytemple Fiction
Hey! I have a thousand-ish word flash fiction piece in this anthology, with an illustration by a real comic artist. It's just your usual blend of squabbling immortals, time travel, impossible physics, and dumb jokes. It's free to download, so please take a look. https://www.comicbookschool.com/8-page-challenge-2-introduction/
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ktvician
Nov 14, 2021
In Elder Sign
You mentioned steampunk in the discussion episode about Laird Barron's Blackwood's Baby (which I read in the LB collection The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All, by the way). A few years ago, I read a couple of books by George Mann that were something like "what if someone like Sherlock Holmes were an occult detective in an alternate timeline, and Watson was a woman who kicked a lot of asses?" The first book is The Affinity Bridge. They're good, not great. Similar timeframe, some Holmes & Watson, no steampunk: the Athena Club books by Theodora Goss. Starts with The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter. The Athena Club is made up of people like Beatrice Rappacini, Justine Frankenstein, Catherine Moreau, Mary Jekyll, and Diana Hyde. Basically, some of the women who got screwed over by their brilliant alchemist/scientist fathers and associates. Interesting storytelling style, where the characters sometimes break the "fourth wall" by having dialogue amongst themselves while Catherine is trying to write the story for publication (a la Watson writing up Holmes' adventures). I enjoyed these a lot.
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ktvician
Sep 08, 2021
In Claytemple Fiction
I originally wrote this for a Hundred Word Crime story contest. It didn't get selected and I have no idea where else to place a hundred word story. Nothing weird, creepy, or spooky, sorry. “It’s easy,” says Eddie, “the bank makes you wear a mask.” “Yeah. There’s an epidemic.” “Exactly. You walk in, hand over the note, and leave with the money. I’ll be in the car.” He slides a black pistol at me. “What is this for? It’s not even real.” “Shove it in your pants. Show the grip. Five dollars for a toy, four for paint. You know where to get a real gun for nine bucks?” That’s how I ended up face-down in a puddle with a busted squirt gun smashed into my guts. All I saw of Eddie was taillights.
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ktvician
Sep 08, 2021
In Elder Sign
Available from Project Gutenberg: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/14256/14256-h/14256-h.htm#III First, this seems like a lament for the loss of the pastoral and the arrival of modernity. I assume this was a common theme in the era when railroads and cities grew, and traffic and noise arrived everywhere. One can certainly imagine someone saying that a train whistle was loud enough to wake the dead. Second, I'm not sure how heretical the priest's view of the soul and body asleep is. It's one of those things: what does sleeping in a body for a few hundred or thousand years mean to an eternal soul, waiting for a call to eternal salvation? Third, at the end, the priest is dead and buried on the hill, along with all the residents of the old cemetery. But, is the countess alive? You debated this. It reads to me like she is, and that she and the count are back together: "For the Count and Countess of Croisac, who adore his memory, hastened to give him in death what he most had desired in the last of his life. And with them all things are well, for a man, too, may be born again, and without descending into the grave." The style is pleasant to read. I really liked a few metaphors: "And thereafter, twice a day, at dawn and at night, as the train tore a noisy tunnel in the quiet air...". ""Truly, we were punished enough before we descended to the peace of this narrow house."
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ktvician
Aug 01, 2021
In Elder Sign
From Project Gutenberg = Australia: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks06/0605651.txt Really enjoyed this story and the discussion with Glenn and Lars Henriks. I'll be looking for Lars' work as well. The discussion about extending or completing this story was great fun. Turning this into an occult detective story sounds like a great idea. Glenn should get on that immediately. Personally, I think this is an X-Files episode waiting to happen. I'm imagining Mulder finding a group of similar cases somewhere on the US East Coast - like Providence RI, to give us a little nod to HPL. He somehow ties that to the Ewers story and comes up with some crazy idea that Ewers was really writing the truth but had to publish it as fiction because no-one would believe him. Ewers being a Nazi sympathizer who was eventually kicked out could tie in with all the Operation Paperclip stuff from the early seasons. Maybe he was witnessing or participating in Nazi mind control experiments and tried to reveal them to the world with his fiction. Anyhow, Mulder ends up staying in the haunted room. He looks across the street and a woman who looks way too much like Scully is over there, miming the scene. Mulder flips out - fade to black, then he wakes up with Scully coming in to find him. Of course, nothing is resolved because it's X-Files.
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ktvician
Jul 31, 2021
In Elder Sign
Online versions: https://www.eapoe.org/works/tales/metzngna.htm https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2150/2150-h/2150-h.htm#chap4.4 Seems to me that the Berlitzferling eventually triumphs over the Metzengerstein at the end, despite what the prophecy states.
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ktvician
Jul 06, 2021
In Elder Sign
Found a copy here: http://www.eldritchdark.com/writings/short-stories/155/a-night-in-maln%C3%A9ant and someone reading it here: https://pietersender.wordpress.com/2020/04/01/readings-a-night-in-malneant/ [about 16 minutes[. The first thing I was reminded of when Glenn and Brandon were discussing the description of Malneant was the descriptions of the floating city in Moorcock's Elric stories. I think the river may be Lethe, the river of forgetfulness or oblivion. That's what the narrator is seeking in the first few paragraphs. It seems to me that this whole vignette is taking place in the narrator's head: everything not near him is shrouded in mist or shadow. He has no perception of it because it's not important to him. "And everything about me, the tall and misty houses, the dark, indefinite streets, the rare and wraith-like figures, became as if part of the obscure confusion and fear and bafflement of a nightmare." To move this from a vignette to a story (with plot and action), it could be turned into a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice. The narrator could spend the night trying to rescue Lady Mariel from the bier. He could think of it as a second chance to not be a terrible boyfriend. Also, you were asking about alternate media for this. I think the exploration game/dungeon crawl would be good, but I really want to rewrite the lyrics of One Night in Bangkok to make it A Night in Malneant. Malneant, funeral setting And the walker don't know, he's just forgetting The toll of the bells is always ringing Town with nothing but streets misleading [...] A night in Malneant and it's just oblivion The inns are full and the streets are dim You'll find a bier in every dark cathedral And if you're lucky, it's not Marial I can't forget her death was because of me
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ktvician
Jun 22, 2021
In Elder Sign
I'm pretty sure I read this a long time ago in a Hawthorne collection. It's available here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/512/512-h/512-h.htm as part of MOSSES FROM AN OLD MANSE AND OTHER STORIES. Beatrice Rappaccini also appears in Theodora Goss's The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter and the rest of her Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club series. I've only read the first of the series, which I thought was very good. The next one is on my massive reading list at my library, along with several dozen other books, which you guys keep adding to. There's also a Marvel villain, Monica Rappaccini, who is a biochemist who works for MODOK at AIM, generally going up against the Avengers. Don't know anything about her; just one of the links that came up when I started searching for the story. She isn't the Marvel version of Poison Ivy. All of her biochemical and other weapons are scientific gadgets, not inherent like Ivy's. Per Wikipedia, Monica attended the University of Padua, so that's an obvious call-back to Hawthorne. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monica_Rappaccini One could certainly imagine a modernized version of this story, where Dr. Rappaccini genetically engineers his daughter to have poisonous skin, saliva, and/or breath. The title from the podcast must have reminded me of something. Earlier today, (before I listened to the recap podcast), I was thinking about some sort of updated vampire story involving a cyberpunk modified assassin who kills her victims by biting them with her venom-injecting teeth or kissing them with her poisonous saliva, which is just straight-up Poison Ivy, now that I read it.
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ktvician
Jun 17, 2021
In Atoz
I'm so excited for this book discussion. I introduced myself to Ian Tregillis's work with this book with a random encounter in my library and it just amazed me. Tregillis is one of my favorite authors now. This series (The Milkweed Triptych) and the Alchemy Wars trilogy are just so good: inventive, detailed worlds with interesting characters and conflicts. After I finish At The Mountains Of Madness, I'm going to re-read Bitter Seeds and listen to the discussion. Busy weekend ahead.
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ktvician
May 28, 2021
In Claytemple Fiction
This one is right up everyone's alley. Let's get those occult detective stories in! Again, I just saw this on Twitter; don't know anything about these folks, though I trust the person who retweeted it not to be steering me too far wrong. YMMV. Ready to get your noire on? We will be open for occult detective stories 1-30 June, 2021. This is a themed session — detective style stories with strong speculative elements please.
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ktvician
May 18, 2021
In Claytemple Fiction
Maybe Glenn's too polite to mention it, but one of his stories, Goodbye To All That, is narrated as episode 299 of the Tales to Terrify podcast. It's a good story and well-presented. Recommend you check it out. I enjoyed it. It's an investigative story with some weird elements, but nothing obviously supernatural. Hopefully, there's more to the story somewhere.
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ktvician
May 15, 2021
In Atoz
I have not read a lot of Philip K. Dick. I've mostly been exposed to his work by movie adaptations like Total Recall, Minority Report, and Blade Runner. This novel fits in well with those, thematically. There are a lot of questions about whose reality is real. I did really enjoy this novel, which makes me want to look for more. I think one thing to remember is that even in the "real world", those subjective realities are real to the subject. Mr. Silvestri really sees the universe as geocentric - the sun and moon rise and fall. He could think about the Earth rotating, but that really isn't necessary for him to go about his days. [Honestly, how many of us think about it?] He can really imagine an angry God looking down and judging people and when bad things happen, he can assume it's because they've done something bad. Similarly, Reiss can live in her paranoia and every time something bad happens to her, it confirms someone's out to get her. It's being pushed into someone else's subjective reality that's confusing. Regarding Dr. Laws, I think he's a vital character. First, he's a physicist and his name is Laws. "Physical Laws" are how we describe the real world. He is also the key to Hamilton confronting his own subjective view of the real world. Second, A Black man named Laws reminds us that what we think of as law, the legal construct, is not equally applied. He's seen as lesser in Silvestri's very racist world. He is sort of politely ignored in Pritchett's - not because she's racist but because she finds conflict so unpleasant. He's caricatured as a thug with a knife in Reiss's subjective view, though that may have as much to do with his maleness as his Blackness. I think it was also very interesting how Silky (the waitress/maybe prostitute) was portrayed. She's not very important in Silvestri's world, but she is massively changed and then deleted in Pritchett's. Pritchett despises sexuality, and since that's central to Silky (and Jack Hamilton pushes the issue), she has to be removed. But, she comes back in the fourth vignette, where we first think it's Marsha Hamilton's view. She is presented almost as a threat with her excessive sexuality (larger breasts, etc.) but that also connects with McFyffe's vision of her as an object of lust. I think that was a really well-done choice by Dick, to be able to present Silky's sexuality as a threat to the married woman while concealing that it was a man's view of her all along.
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ktvician
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