It’s been creeping ever closer, but finally release day is here. N Λ Ṇ D‘s second epic suite Journal Vol. II establishes a sonic route to that corner of the Million Spheres where our hapless traveller of the moonbeam roads encounters shades and nightmares, but also hope. So zip up your Gohil’s, spark up a Capstan and enjoy the ride into the musical brain of N Λ Ṇ D
Loz returns to Derry & Toms to pick up our coverage of The Fortress of the Pearl, muse on Elric’s ‘nice guy’ characterisation, grumble at Jack Three-Beaks, coo over weird sky descriptions and suffer the depredations of the returning D6 wandering beer table.
Also, check out the exquisite black metal dungeon synth of Fortress of the Pearl on Bandcamp.
That beer table, for those interested…
It’s a steely cold and foggy day up in the hills of Bradford, which I’m fine with. It beats cold, wet and muddy and I do find the crispness and crunchiness underfoot weirdly energising. I’ll just listen out for the creak of massive wheels and remain vigilant regarding strange, distorted shapes in the fog and we should be fine.
I had a lovely delivery from Christos AKA Fortress of the Pearl – psychedelic black metal dungeon synth from Greece – timely as I’m in the middle of editing the second part of our deep dive into Moorcock’s The Fortress of the Pearl! Loz and I indulged in some appropriately funky beers along the way, but two ended up being a stretch too far for the evening. Well, technically only one for me but Loz rolled snake eyes on the resistance table so his final brace are going out to a lucky patron – Paul Hillary, they’ll be winging their way to you shortly. Exactly how lucky you are will be for you to judge.
A couple of nights ago I hopped on a call with our friend and collaborator N Λ Ṇ D to talk about a variety of things, not least of which was the second album based upon volume II of the adventures of Gerard Arthur Connelly, my old roleplaying alter-ego from the olden days. As with his first, this is an album suffused with the smells and colours of our own meandering Moonbeam dreams. We’ve nailed down the running order and album art and that should see the light of day very soon. As ever, N Λ Ṇ D’s compositions are inspiring to me and have already provided high-calorie fodder for my imagination as I continue drafting and fleshing out volume III.
The latest edition of Jim Kirkland’s newsletter Pursuit of the Pale Prince is in inboxes right about now. This issue has news about a pending blu ray release of The Final Programme, a Silver Warriors skate deck c/o Frazetta Girls, the latest Centipede Press release and more. Get on that subscription list.
In a week or so the Appendix N Podcast will release their 133rd episode featuring an all new guest. Me! It’s very exciting to be asked to drop in to other talking shops and this was the third time, having previously appeared on Rob Aka Menion’s Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi and Ralph Lovegrove’s Fictoplasm. I had a great time despite being far too ignorant of the intricacies of D&D. I’ll boost that when it drops.
Tash has settled in to her new country pile in Gloucestershire. She messaged me last night to suggest a date for our next, long past due appointment at Derry & Toms when we will finally take a look at Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber. More on that soon.
Take care friends, the Moonbeam Roads are slippery right now, and see you again soon.
My dear Travellers,
January is rampaging past me as the skies remain stubbornly grey. How joyful it feels then, and how fortunate I am, to spend a couple of hours over recent days engaging in repeat listens of the completed masters of N Λ Ṇ D‘s second album inspired by the Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly. Two tracks are already available via Bandcamp (see above and here) and Vol I is of course on there too.
It’s incredibly inspiring to get feedback in this form and being able to collaborate with N Λ Ṇ D on the audio versions of the Journal has been one of the high points of this whole experience. Very soon I’ll be able to share refreshed and remastered versions of the Volume I chapters thanks to a campaign of improvements on my part, bringing the audio quality of the vocals in line with more recent chapters, and revised and updated N Λ Ṇ D scores. The final result will be two ‘audiobook’ volumes and two companion albums. Once complete they’ll go on Bandcamp and patrons will receive download codes. The versions previously uploaded as patron extras can therefore be considered as ‘works in progress’ and will be replaced.
In podcasting news, we have another episode in the can thanks to Graham and Miles where we take a tentative peek into the Uncosy Catastrophes of UK authors that span out of James Herbert’s success with The Rats and The Fog. On this occasion we cast our eyes over Herbert’s The Dark. We’ll be following this up with some more musings on TV and films, with an additional focus on Moorcock’s own apocalyptic fables (which we’ve already touched upon with My Experiences in the Third World War).
In three short days Loz will be visiting Derry & Toms to pick up Part Two of our dream quest with The Fortress of the Pearl and I have some sufficiently nightmarish stouts and porters ready to go.
Over on twatter, Iestyn pointed to a Spotify playlist that gathers some choice Moorcock-inspired cuts that includes several I was unaware of. The Navigator did point out though for some arcane reason it doesn’t include Black Blade *shrug emoji*. The cheese level is variable but there are some real standouts in there beyond the better known numbers (eg BÖC, Hawkwind, Diamond Head etc), my personal favourite being the absolute banger that is Ilian of Garathorm by Smoulder. And, as we know, Spotify is evil so, if you have the readies, you can support independent artists like Smoulder on Bandcamp. Their album Times of Obscene Evil and Wild Daring has a glorious Michael Whelan cover too so I picked the vinyl version up (whilst digging my nails into my palms at the shipping costs).
I do take issue with Deep Purple’s Stormbringer being on the playlist though. I know it’s regularly quoted as being Moorcock-inspired but I’m not buying it. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the song and the Coverdale/ Hughes era of DP is my favourite, but at the very most Coverdale saw the name on a paperback and just liked the word or he read it but couldn’t be arsed to write lyrics related to it.
M’lud, I point to the following evidence:
On a stallion twister
On the eye of the sky
Stormbringer coming down
Meaning to stay
Thunder and lightning
Heading your way”
Great 70s rock lyrics incredibly delivered by a soaring Coverdale at the height of his powers, but fuck all to do with MM.
Anyway, ride the rainbow and crack the sky my friends, and I’ll see you out there… on the moonbeam roads.
After falling foul of birthday libations first time around, we’re back to finish our exploration of Graham Masterton’s The Devils of D-Day.
The Seven Tests return, Dan McCook still isn’t owning his fundamental rookie error, the Official Secrets Act counts for sweet FA and it turns out Eloise is the MVP of this whole story.
We also watch a movie! Surely there has to be a better Graham Masterton protagonist out there right? Turns out there are two (and a very unfortunate doctor)!
How is it 2023?
The year of…? Um. At this point I wanted to list some science fiction film or book from my youth set in an (at the time) impossibly far off future. I came up blank. I had seen a tweet last week that suggested Zardoz was set in 2023 but it was bollocks. I even did a wiki search but it came up with little of interest.
I did find a crappy clickbait article though (from whence I nicked the above image) that reckons deceased Bulgarian mystic Baba Vanga predicted devastating solar storms and massive bioweapons disasters for this year so I dunno. I suppose I’d best keep a week ahead in supplies of dodgy porters in case of catastrophic supply chain failures. I might also watch the director’s cut of The Divide this afternoon for survival tips.
Last year flew by and that old adage that time passes more quickly as you age seems to be fully checking out.
The festive period here at Derry & Toms was quiet and drama free, a little boring frankly, but that’s all done and dusted. I will share a few bits and bobs we picked up along the way though.
First, I stopped by Les Edwards’s webstore and picked up a glorious limited signed print of his cover for The Devils of D-Day:
And he threw in a Conan freebie too:
Thanks to Phil for the assists there! Les’s website is a fantastic. I think I must have spent a couple of hours poring over his work. Check it out. As is my wont, I’ve now become a bit obsessed with his imagery and have partially disappeared down another rabbit hole.
Next, I picked up the special printing of The Citadel of Forgotten Myths from the fine folk over at The Broken Binding:
You can still grab a copy via their web store and it has reduced in price a bit in their January sale so go and have a look (I just grabbed a copy of their edition of Alan Moore’s Illuminations for a tenner). Top marks for them on their wrapping skills too.
In other news, on a particularly boring morning here at D&Ts I created a spreadsheet to track the podcast’s output and, with my extremely limited Excel skillz, I created a table to show progress to date in terms of what we’ve covered so far at our half-century.
Stuff to note:
- For Moorcock characters Elric leads in terms of episodes worth of coverage, with Hawkmoon one step behind. If we consider just how much Elric material is out there that seems fine for now, but because the sheer weight of MM’s content in that department is comparatively vast we should probably up the rate of output in that corner of the multiverse
- I need to get back to Corum again – we’ve covered half of The History of the Runestaff already, but we’re only one instalment in with the Prince in the Scarlet Robe
- I REALLY need to pull my finger out and get to Warlord of the Air and Warhound and the World’s Pain
- There is a nice spread of other stuff going on with ventures into Moorcock-related discussions around music, comics and RPGs
- Approximately 20% of our output to date covers other authors entirely thanks to Halloween and Birthday Specials as well as other examinations (hashtag FUCKINGDANNUS).
Another area we are yet to explore in any detail, but touched upon in our conversation with Andrew Nette in our Dangerous Visions and New Worlds episode, is the contents of New Worlds anthologies and books championed by Moorcock in his editing days. In terms of the latter I’m definitely thinking of Norman Spinrad’s Bug Jack Barron but there are many others.
We also still owe a couple of you Nine Princes in Amber. Natasha bought a copy in preparation. She’s moved down south damn her eyes, but we are determined to get a virtual date in ASAP.
On the more immediate itinerary though, we have:
- A follow-up to our Halloween episode on The Fog looking at the progression of James Herbert (via the lens of The Dark) in concert with other musings on the ‘Uncosy Catastrophes’ of Herbert and other British authors of the time
- Fortress of the Pearl Book Two with Loz
- A first look at the history of legendary publishers of genre fiction New English Library, starting with some gritty bikersploitation, with Andrew Nette
- The War of the Worlds with Allister Thompson
- The Sword of the Dawn Book One with Dave (AKA SÖNUS)
- The Final Programme Phase Four (The Last Days of Man on Earth) with Hussein
So that would appear to be enough to be going on with. There may also be a Part VI to the RPG musings at some point in the first half of the year but more on that later.
I’ll also be beavering away on vol III of the Journal with the intention of getting that out in the Spring.
But for now, take it easy pards! Ease yourself into this new year and I’ll see you out there… on the moonbeam roads.