The Fortress of the Pearl Part Three

Loz returns to Derry & Toms to brave the final gate (and the depredations of the beer slate) as we conclude our re-read of Michael Moorcock’s 1989 Elric novel The Fortress of the Pearl.

Expect revisionism (both textual and personal), rose-tinted reflections on the dole, a beer challenge best described as cyclopean and some RPG-focused grumbling as we complete our re-evaluation of a novel we haven’t read in over 30 years and fail to pronounce simple English words.


Entropic State Report 21st April 2023

It’s been a couple of weeks since our The Final Programme Phase IV – The Last Days of Man on Earth episode went live and I’m STILL thinking about casting for an alternate sphere movie version. Only this morning another revelation hit my twitter feed c/o legend Robin Askwith, a still from Horror Hospital with his co-star Vanessa Shaw. I saw it and my instant reaction was – CATHERINE AND FRANK!

They would make a dream casting accompaniment to Mick and Anita as Jerry and Miss Brunner too…

There is a legend out there that suggests Mick Jagger turned down the role of Jerry but it may be apocryphal. If it’s true though I can understand why as he’d already hit (at least tangentially) similar territory in the incredible Nic Roeg film, Performance – something we referred to in the show. I’ve been thinking about Performance ever since and I suspect it’s something we’ll need to talk about in Derry & Toms at some point down the line.

But back to Robin Askwith for a moment. Whilst primarily known for his roles in British telly and a variety of low-budget films in the 70s, particularly saucy comedies, he got his screen start in the Lindsay Anderson film …If which was itself the introduction of the Mick Travis character that Malcolm MacDowell would continue to portray in O Lucky Man! and (along with Askwith returning to his own role) Britannia Hospital.

For that reason, Askwith is part of the extremely credible raft of character actors that occupy my mind palace whenever I’m daydreaming about the odder, counter-cultural, subversive and/or transgressive British cultural artefacts. 

I also love his pictures of Windsor Davies.

A sitcom legend, Windsor was an actor I adored as a kid largely because he looked a hell of a lot like Pops. He could do a serious turn too and would have made a pretty great Colonel Pyat and, in a several-degrees-of-separation kind of situation, he appeared on screen at least once with the screen version of Professor Hira himself, Hugh Griffith.

I’ll be spending far too much time thinking about all of this for a good while yet.

In other news, I’m currently editing our third and final foray into the pages of The Fortress of the Pearl and that will be along in the coming days. Next in the queue and in the can for editing, we’ll have The Queen of the Swords Book One which features the return of Simon Perrins to the hot seat and the first proper arrival of a certain Companion to Champions (in his non-dream guise at least).

I had intended to get FOTP3 out this week, but STIMBOTCLASSIC finally, after two prior cancellations, got down to the hospital for his heart surgery and it all went off without a hitch so we’ve been a bit distracted here at D&Ts but now we can relax a bit, indulge in some celebratory libations and get back on track.

In other sad news, our very own real-life roof garden, Bradford’s Rooftop Cafe sees its last day of trading tomorrow before permanent closure. It’s been a regular haunt for us for over five years so we’ll be down there giving them a boozy send-off.

For now though, I have to do some actual work (boooooo) so take care pards and we’ll see you out there soon…

On t’moonbeam roads.

The Final Programme Phase IV – The Last Days of Man on Earth

We’re back in Derry and Toms in the company of Joe Banks to take a look at Robert Fuest’s 1973 film take on Moorcock’s The Final Programme (AKA The Last Days of Man on Earth).

As is traditional we roam around, but mostly we evaluate The Final Programme as both an adaptation and as a work that stands (or falls) on its own merits, and Joe has a startling take on that ending that I’d never considered. And we talk about some other stuff. 


Entropic State Report 3rd April 2023

The year is rampaging by at a startling pace, it’s April already (despite the frost in Bradford this morning) and our itinerary remains well-packed for the coming weeks. This week I’ll be applying the final edits to our next exploration – The Final Programme movie by Robert Fuest with returning guest Joe Banks – and that will be out in time for the Easter weekend. Since picking up the Blu Ray I’ve watched it a couple of times and I’m convinced that Jenny Runacre is one of the greatest things to ever come out of British cinema. Her Miss Brunner is the high point of the film (more on that in the episode) and I went on to watch Jubilee for the first time in thirty years and she’s just bloody marvellous in that too.

Elsewhere, some of our compadres have been pretty busy.

N Λ Ṇ D has a track featured on the massive Vangelis tribute album released by Castles in Space. It’s Track 4 on Music is Vast: A Tribute to the Music and Legacy of Vangelis. All profits from the album go to Trussell Trust to support their campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.

Our friend Rob AKA Menion’s podcast returned after a six-month hiatus this week. Rob shared his thoughts on RuneQuest and a few other bits and bobs and it’s good to hear he’s back in the saddle. Check out the latest instalment of Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi.

Graham’s sea shanty collective Duck Pond Sailors has released Urban Navigators, a split album of studio and live recordings comprising a mixture of original compositions and some classics.

Meanwhile, Simon Perrins, artist and occasional BitR co-host  is already five episodes deep into his new podcast Can I Pod With Madness, a podcast that meticulously reviews a copy of Kerrang! or Metal Hammer, from the golden age of ROCK, 1987-1989. This podcast speaks to me on a deep level. I had just about all of those magazine issues throughout that period (although I did fall away from Kerrang! around the time they featured T’Pau on the cover) and it covers my last couple of years in senior/high school when I was a proper greb (ie mulleted metalhead) so it’s truly resonant and very funny. I’ll be picking Simon’s brains on this podcast when he drops by D&Ts in the next couple of weeks. Get on board.

In terms of our own itinerary, as well as Simon, Loz will be back in a couple of weeks to tie up The Fortress of the Pearl, Dave will be dropping by to conclude The Sword of the Dawn, Andy Darby will be joining me as we head down into some classic 60s MM scifi with The Winds of Limbo, Miles and I will travel to counter-Earth and see what the fuck is going on with GOR, I’m STILL negotiating a journey to Amber with Tash, and there’ll be another RPG-centric episode too. I’m just shaping that up but part of the deal may include an online BitR playtest of Black Hack Second Edition and/or Mournblade. We’ll see.

And some other stuff is brewing too.

Including a potential One-Shit Book.

I have to give thanks to Dave for juggling diaries to accommodate some developments over at STIMBOT Towers where STIMBOT CLASSIC (AKA Dad) is due to be opened up so his heart can be tinkered with. The wonderful NHS is undergoing a few trials and tribulations at the moment but I’m sure they’ll find the heart, or at least the valves, of a long-dead god to arrest the entropy and give him a bit of a boost. He’s generally battle-ready anyway and is a tough, leathery old geezer – he just needs that boost and he’ll be back on with the business of smoking Clakars in his shed.

We conducted a small mail-out this weekend past thanks to some patron demon pledges landing in the demon-bound in-tray of sorting and we’ll have more to send as we’ve identified a few more duplicates from the shelves so more on that soon. It’s also occurred to me that there are folks that have been contributing for a good while now who may not be at the Patron Demon level, but have nevertheless invested a great deal in this podcast over the past three and a half years so as of now, folks that pledge at Chaos Engineer, Jugadero or without tier will, once a threshold is crossed, receive print/chapbook copies of the Journal of GAC. I’ll be dropping a line to folks in that position today to get your mailing details.

As a final fun-fact, our episode on The War of the Worlds broke all of our records for first week downloads and, as per the last report, MORE adaptations continue to emerge into our eyelines – this time a UK film – War of the Worlds: The Attack looks to be updating it to be contemporary (including the ‘kids on bikes’ trope) but otherwise the filmmakers claim to have remained faithful to the Wells novel. It’s evidently a low-budget affair but that’s never a deal-breaker for me. As well as scifi and fantasy novels my brain was fed a steady diet of straight-to-video trashy goodness in the 80s and 90s so I’ll always give something like this a break if it shows some love for the source.

That’s about it for this report but don’t forget that BITR Breakfast in the Ruins Radio is there to help you negotiate the grey fees, either via Radio Garden or the webplayer (that includes the recent playlist).