Simon returns to D&Ts to look at the first part of the second volume of the adventures of Corum, Prince in the Scarlet Robe and tell us all about his new(ish) podcast Can I Pod With Madness (available wherever you consume your pods).
Beer mistakes and dodgy audio can’t dampen our enthusiasm for some fantastic world-building and the first true appearance of everyone’s (well ours anyway) favourite companion/hat/cat combination.
It’s been a wild week here at Derry & Toms but we’ve managed to get away and take our repose at our spiritual home… Morecambe.
The Old Pier Book Shop yielded some modest treasures this time around, largely because I limited myself to a ten minute scan of the heaving shelves and piles, but I did pick up a nice brace of Brunners and a lively old Masterton edition of the further misadventures of the Manitou and his nemesis Harry Erskine. I have three of those editions now. Love those covers. Very striking. And now I’ve picked up a couple more John Brunners I really am running out of excuses to cover one.
One of our distinct pleasures when we visit Morecambe is a catch up with Ian aka @biomassart and his partner Angie, so true to form we had a couple of liveners in The Bath (a glorious old school rock pub – Dave, if you ever get to the UK we should make this hostelry a pilgrimage destination). Interestingly, Ian has a podcast idea marinating in his noggin that’s very much related to his great passions, in which he and I have something of an overlap (beyond the natural stuff like Moorcock, RPGs, scifi, beer and all the other geekery). Specially the PC strategy game Homeworld, one of the most visually distinct, absorbing and mellow of distractions I’ve ever engaged with over the past couple for decades. So… No pressure Ian but I’d LOVE to join you for that.
In BITR Podcast news, thanks for all the positive feedback on FotP:3 – as I have some time off pending I’ll probably edit and release the two I have in the can over the next week or so. So expect to hear Simon Perrins join me to muse over The Queen of the Swords Book One, and then part 6 of our periodical series of RPG-centric ponderings in the company of artist Goran Gligovic and a couple of friends of the show (and experienced Stormbringer GM’s) Dave and Steve.
To keep up the pace Miles returns to D&Ts next week to decide whether Tarnsman of Gor is a step up or down from Dannus (#FUCKINGDANNUS) and see what Darlingtonian butchers find so fascinating and arousing about Gorean culture.
Over the rest of May we’ll also be welcoming Andy Darby back to the rooftop to tackle The Winds of Limbo and Dave will be looking at book two of The Sword of the Dawn. And there’s plenty more in the pipeline too. You never know, Phil might actually finish her long-gestating homework and Tash might make herself available for Nine Princes in Amber…
In the meantime though, we love having these conversations and remain delighted that you enjoy listening.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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).
Andrew Nette returns to Derry & Toms to look at the legendary UK publisher of horror, science fiction and alarmingly violent but sociologically savvy pulps -New English Library. NEL looms large on my shelves but I’ve never delved into their bikersploitation output… UNTIL NOW!
Rum content ahead as we talk about the publisher, the key players behind some of their more exploitative output, and two similar yet very different biker novels from the early 70s:
Despite an incidence of the plague here at BitR Central, we continue to have a busy year and arguably our most productive period since this podcast kicked off back in late 2019. Our episode talking The War of the Worlds is flying out of the door like hot cakes and, since that went live, we’ve had lots of pointers to other adaptations that I missed, the best example of which is the BBC Radio adaptation from the 60s (thanks Miles). It does update the story to be contemporaneous with the broadcast, but is otherwise pretty faithful throughout, with a standout performance from Peter (Last of the Summer Wine/Wallace and Gromit) Sallis as a truly vile curate.
On the show, Allister filled me in on the two C Thomas Howell Asylum films (they smell like ass), but I subsequently discovered another effort from that quarter from only the last couple of years. It similarly smells like ass, only in HD, and features one of Tom Sizemore’s final, and rather sad, appearances. I paid for it on Prime out of curiosity, but it appears that if you’re in the US you can watch it on YT. It also goes by the alternative name Alien Attack. Only for completists.
YT is a pretty good source for all things WOTW. As well as being able to view War of the Worlds Goliath there in its entirety, I also managed to dredge my memory and track down a full-cast audio adaptation there that I came across in the early 80s in newsagents in Hull. The AudiSee series of children’s picture books, complete with attached cassettes, only lasted six instalments, but I have strong memories of the War of the Worlds and Time machine issues and they’re still pretty impressive today.
In other news, after some hosting issues, BITR Radio is back up and running on Radio Garden. Also, because wordpress is a bit rubbish and I can’t embed simple HTML on this website without paying for a business account, I’ve set up a simple blogspot page that does allow HTML for free, so you can access the web player complete with playlist here. I’m still playing around with the new auto-DJ interface, so it’s just a big random playlist for now.
On the podcast front we have two in the can undergoing editing and plenty more on the schedule for the next couple of months so stay tuned and watch this space.
As it happens, the reason the plague arrived in BitR towers was me bringing it back from… The Moorcock Weekender.
By way of explanation, last year Dirk the Dice, host of The Grognard Files, invited me to join a weekend of nerdery and Moorcock themed gamery, This then ended up merging with The One Ring Road Trip, a long-standing Tolkien-themed gaming weekend. So, 13 or 14 middle-aged beardoes descended upon a very pleasant and massive old country house to eat, drink and game for a couple of days.
Night one: Elric – Battle at the End of Time (Chasoium edition) – This is something I’d never played (I have the older Avalon Hill edition simply called Elric) but it was entertaining if a little complex. It was also entertainingly swingy thanks and the ultimate conclusion was driven by Theleb K’aarna switching sides and leaving Pan Tang in the lurch late game. Good fun.
Game One: Agon (Moorcock Hack) delivered by Dirk – a more modern, collaborative narrative system that encouraged a lot of improvisation and a jointly created villain for which all the players provided details. I was extremely lazy and created my character as a very thinly-veiled GAC avatar – Jarko Neely (The Crane). Agon’s mechanics are designed to model epic-level play with demi-gods and Greek-type mythology and it worked pretty well on that level.
Game Two: Dungeon Crawl Classics overseen by Dirk’s co-host Blythy. Lots of fun manoeuvring and interplay shenanigans here. My hook-handed Nadsokorian beggar almost came up trumps after substituting the plot MacGuffin with a fake (made from a dinosaur egg and rhinestones from Elvis’s jumpsuit) and covering the King with a dead lizardman’s energy weapon as he made an end run with the fake magic chaos egg to deliver it to Arioch and co.
You had to be there.
Game Three: A switch of pace as we had a session of The One Ring c/o Orlanth Rex and visited Middle Earth. We went to an inn, hung out with nervous hobbits and killed a load of orcs. Very flavourful.
On Sunday morning was Dirk’s monthly book club where they discussed Stormbringer, but I turfed out as it was a long drive home and we will get to Stormbringer in our own time here on BITR.
All in all a very satisfying weekend. Not the type of thing I’d normally sign up to, particularly after it blew up to be a Moorcock AND Tolkien weekend with more than a dozen people I’d never met, but I did enjoy it. I came back with Dirk’s Groglurg though, so we’ve agreed a satisfying payback for later in the year and he will be coming back to D&Ts to have a few liveners and talk about something suitable.
Should it happen again in 2024 I made my pitch that it should be a Dannus/Gor Weekender. Not sure that will fly though.
We look at our entry points into WOTW fandom, the original 1897 classic by HG Wells, a number of adaptations and spin-offs, and the one adaptation that looms large over all the others (the Jeff Wayne album, obviously).
Dave AKA SÖNUS returns to Derry & Toms and we pick up the exploits of Dorian Hawkmoon and his amusing companion Huillam D’Averc in The Sword of the Dawn, third volume of Moorcock’s epic The History of the Runestaff.
Meliadus gets miffed, Hawkmoon’s stoicism is tested, D’Averc gets naked and Count Brass is bored shitless.