Ted AKA @tedankhamen joins me in Derry and Toms for the second leaf of our Summer diptych musing on Moorcock, gaming and whatever else enters our eyeline.
Some choice cuts in here including miniature bashing, Tolkien (again), a shock Strongbow appreciation story, chaosium-isms… but mostly some good, chewy thinking on modelling Moorcockian worlds and cosmology. I also bang my BoL drum again.
You can check out the Tentacled Whisperer of Secrets Discord by making an offering to… THE TENTACLED WHISPERER… or just check out his profile. He’s pretty lax on gatekeeping for an ancient deity of unspeakable power.
Well, that’s summer just about over. A record-breaking heatwave, some muggy, humid weeks and now into September – rain. And more rain. Feels much more traditional now.
Accompanying the change, a good dose of lurgy has landed in this house and every couple of hours I’ve been alternating between teeth-chatteringly cold and slowly cooking in my own seepage. Not covid though so the D-Squads haven’t got to me yet. Hussein suggested that I must be possessed and there’s a battle going on between good and evil jinn for control of my weak human flesh.
I just wish one of them would hurry up and win or at least come to some form of compromise, the shirty fuckers.
Anyway, I used these past few days to do a lot of reading. Most of it bad. I was curious about the novelisation of Alien Isolation (although a video game, it is for my money the best tie-in/spin-off from the Alien franchise). As I’m a mug for a bargain I picked it up in a pack of 7 Alien tie-in novels and, long story short, they’re mostly incredibly mediocre. The exception is Alien: Cold Forge by Alex White, largely by dint of the fact that the central conceit is – what if a financial auditor visits a remote research station to cut costs and streamline operations. On top of that, what if the auditor is essentially Patrick Bateman in space.
It just so happens that, as I was ploughing my way through them, Ted AKA @tedankhamen sent me a link to his blog sharing his thoughts re gaming within established IPs (in this case Star Wars). His take really resonated, particularly given our previous shows on gaming, but I think those points apply across all expanded fiction based upon established IPs. Those Alien tie-in novels are a great example and they reinforce the beliefs Clarky, Dave and I expounded in the last show – make new shit. Take the themes and tropes and flavour, but freshen it up. Those Alien novels all revolve around the same tired, rote elements. Weyland-Yutani… colonial marines… ‘bug hunts’…
MAKE NEW SHIT!
I am of course guilty of this myself. The first section of The Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly is set in Tragic Millennium Europe. In my own defence though, that was a write-up of a couple of Hawkmoon RPG gaming sessions so it is faithful to that at least. But I’ve tried beyond that point to diverge a bit. Wait… am I comparing my nonsense to licensed, published fiction? No. I’m just trying to not be hypocritical I suppose. And I’m not a writer. I’m a hobbyist. So I’m giving myself a pass.
That said, I entirely understand that being commissioned to operate within a juggernaut IP means that one must tick boxes. I do wonder if that’s why the Alien Isolation novelisation, based upon a game that does a nice job of expanding some universe details and features no mention whatsoever of colonial marines or any trappings thereof, introduces colonial marines elements by the fourth chapter.
All of this also leads me to a long sigh of sadness and some regret.
Ridley Scott’s Alien deservedly led to an initially modest but eventually pretty enormous expansion of the canon and a multi-billion dollar IP. Sequels, comics, video games, novels, cross-overs (Judge Dredd vs Aliens!) and an upcoming TV show.
Meanwhile, Britain’s (the world’s?) greatest living fantasist can’t catch a break in any medium outside of comics and tabletop games, and in the case of the latter only currently in France. The Runestaff TV show is apparently still in development but the Elric project appears to be dead in the water. Unsurprising given that The Witcher and GOT/House of the Dragon have effectively taken screen ownership of so many of Moorcock’s trappings (sadly, whilst entirely jettisoning the themes). If a Warhammer 40,000 show or movie ever emerges then the gig is truly up.
That’s something to explore on a future show for sure.
Anyway, I’ve obviously had too much time on my hands (and brain).
Fucking germs. As a result I had to postpone a couple of visits to Derry and Toms this past week, so apologies to Derek and Steve. We can hook up in the future ASAP.
On a positive note, two shows are already in the can. The first is the second part of our summer gaming diptych, recorded with the aforementioned Ted, where we look at his extensive take on Moorcockian gaming. That will be out in the next day or two.
The second is Book Two of The Mad God’s Amulet with Dave. That will follow in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, our patron poll for the looming Halloween episode has been live for a couple of weeks and James Herbert’s The Fog maintains its healthy lead. Still plenty of time for patrons to vote though and Shaun Hutson’s Slugs finally got a couple of sympathy votes.
The world is on fire. When thermometers in Bradford, up in the hills of West Yorkshire, hit 37 degrees celsius something is definitely way off with the world.
The UK is in the midst of democracy spasms as around 150,000 mostly oldsters choose their favoured mannequin to take over the reigns of government. One an evil billionaire that wants ‘basket case cities’ like Hull, Liverpool and Newcastle to become Charter Cities (think Delta City with less attractive police officers). The other a ruthless void of empathy that seeks only to appeal to the right wing nutjobs in her party. Both will continue to eagerly blow their corporate sponsors, billionaires that want not just a continuation of the status quo, but an acceleration of the wholesale asset stripping of the country.
For most of us it’s like the choice between shit with nuts in or shit with sweetcorn in.
Truly it is the right time for a saviour.
Unfortunately we appear to be short on 12 foot tall golden hermaphrodites at the moment so we’ll just have to suck it up. And when the time comes, vote well. And avoid Russian smoked porters.
In other news, since our Winds of Gath episode (yes, it was about three years too long… don’t @ me) I’ve dived deep down that Dumarest rabbit hole and have ended up with about 17 volumes. I also discovered the joys of Mr Tubb’s Space 1999 novelisations. Excited I was when I realised he’d penned two original novels based on the adventures of the Moonbase Alpha crew. One, Alien Seed, is pictured above. The other, Earth Fall, actually concludes their saga. Unfortunately it’s a bit steep on the price front and I need to hoard my wing-wangs for fuel bills and pickled eggs, so that’s one only to covet for the time being. Irritatingly, friend of the show Miles picked up one of those S1999 novelisations and his cover is way better than mine.
Damn you Miles.
Speaking of Miles, he and his buddy Charlie X have just launched their new show, the Casual Trek Podcast. As a casual Trek fan myself (very casual – I’m TOS to the core with a bit of DS9 and TNG love to spare – all other Trek takes up no space in my brain) I’m looking forward to diving in. Follow Casual Trek on twitter.
On our own episode schedule, we have:
more musings on RPGs are in the can and awaiting editing and there’ll be an addendum to that that is yet to be recorded
Dave is ahead of me on his homework for The Mad God’s Amulet Book Two
Derek AKA Imrryr is up for talking The Black Corridor
Andy Darby will be coming on to talk Moorcock and his novel Me and the Monkey
The Fortress of the Pearl Part Two will happen when Loz and I can actually get co-ordinated
Tash has finally rocked up and demanded steak and to talk about Nine Princes in Amber
and a couple of other irons are warming
Of course we have also had the poll for our 2022 Halloween episode live for a week or so. The Fog is miles ahead. Still plenty of time to vote though.
That’s all for this report.
Take care… stay safe… something something moonbeam roads.
After 40 years of obsessing over the Mayflower covers of Bob Haberfield, Dave and I get to wig out and talk to Ben Haberfield about his Dad’s life, art and the gestating project to celebrate the breadth of his work in the form of two art books.
We’ve returned from a wonderful sojourn to one of our Zen places… Morecambe. Morecambe has that perfect blend of urban decay, old Victorian seaside glamour and a perfect bay. Not to mention great boozers, cake and The Old Pier Bookshop.
As usual we picked up far too many books, not only from The Old Pier but also via trips to Lancaster and Grange-Over-Sands. Even better we hooked up again with Ian AKA @biomassart and his lovely partner Angie for libations, although no pickled eggs on this occasion sadly.
Probably the most significant pick-ups were from Morecambe. Phil and I decided that we should do an Old Pier Special, the subject of which would be whatever pulp scifi or fantasy we could find two copies of (one for each of us). We ended up with E.C. Tubb’s The Winds of Gath, the first in a 35-odd series of short scifi adventures focusing on the travels and travails of Earl Dumarest of Terra. We got our reading done so will be recording that soon. As it happens, I had about twenty of those books back in the day c/o Pops but I never read any of them and, when I moved over to Bradford, they went to charity shops in the great cull. After reading the first instalment though, I may be headed down the rabbit-hole as, a few shops later and after a bit of internet shopping, I’ve amassed a dozen of them again. Place face-palm gif here.
Over at Grange-Over-Sands, in the fabulous Daisyroots Books, I found a couple of nice and tidy 70s Scifi Book Club editions of John Brunner books. I’ve picked up many Brunners over the years and still have the copy of Stand on Zanzibar that I got from Pops. Therefore it is time methinks to put John on our schedule. One for later in the year perhaps. Or 2033. Who knows.
In other news, listeners will be aware that the last six chapters of the audio version of the Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly have been marvellously and atmospherically scored by N Λ N D. We’ve also previously discussed the standalone album project that spun out from volume one. That album is now available on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music and soon to be on Amazon Music too. Even better, Vol. 2 is just around the corner and will follow later in the summer. An early release from that second album, Gallery of the Lost, is available now.
Staying with Moorcockian Music, Imrryr remains as busy as ever and this month released his opus interpretation of The Black Corridor. At current count Imrryr has an incredible 29 releases on his bandcamp page and you can bag them all for an incredibly decent price. They include a range of bleak, experimental electronica inspired by not only Moorcock, but Alastair Reynolds, Frank Herbert, Phillip K Dick and others.
In podcasts, a few days ago I hooked up with Rob AKA Menion to talk Moorcock and genre fiction for his podcast, Confessions of a Wee Tim’rous Bushi. We had a tipple and chewed the fat about all sorts of digressions. We almost got onto gaming but not quite. Maybe next time. That will be out soon and thanks Rob for having me. It was great fun.
Finally, massive thanks to Dave AKA SÖNUS for stepping into the breach and talking about The Mad God’s Amulet Book One last time around. And additional thanks Dave for the official Usurper of the Universe cassette tape-a-ma-tron! These are still available direct or via Forbidden Place Records.
That’s all for this update other than to say TFP Phase Four (The Last Days of Man on Earth) remains delayed until H and I can hook up again following the last postponement.
Dave AKA SÖNUS returns to Derry and Toms to dive into the fast-paced and very metal, yet weirdly just OK-ish first part of The Mad God’s Amulet, second in the Hawkmoon sequence The History of the Runestaff.
As always, digressions await the unwary traveller as well as ostentatious coughing and just excellent pants.
It’s been a joyous few weeks since I sent out the Patron Demon and contributor copies of Vol II of the Journal and I’ve heard back from most folks that they arrived safe and sound across the globe. So, despite frequent reports to the contrary, Brexit has not quite fucked up our postal system.
Sunlit Uplands and all that.
Since bunging FotP Part One out in May we continue to get some nice feedback from various angles around the social media landscape. It’s very satisfying. We’ll be hitting you up with part two very soon but, in the meantime, Hussein is coming back to Derry & Toms to pick up our last bits of chat around The Final programme. Back when we did Phase Three we didn’t spoil the climax, which is quite unlike us as we generally spoil everything. However, part of the reason for our return to JC is my successful effort to convince H to dive into the film adaptation and having done that there are things to talk about. If you’ve seen the film you’ll be fully aware that one can’t really talk about it WITHOUT looking at the different approaches to that climax. So that’s coming up very soon and I would dearly love to coerce him into watching a few other films that, in my opinion, align with The Final Programme rather nicely (Jubilee, The Bed Sitting Room, Performance, any of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy but probably Britannia Hospital in particular… there are many others). As it took me months to get him to do this though, that may be a long shot.
Meanwhile, in music news, I came across experimental, electronic music duo Network 23 and their epic release Elric of Melniboné. I dropped them a line via Bandcamp and they groovily allowed me to give them some airplay (netplay?) on BITR Radio too. Very cool. The album is excellent, driving electronica with some rock overtones and also has a really nice cover c/o Isra Llona. Their discography is extensive and there’s plenty to go at including some atmospheric Lovecraft-inspired ambient pieces if that’s your bag. Check their gear out and give them some support if you can.
I have something of a mixed relationship with HPL. Oddly, I never got any of his stuff from Pops and only became aware of him due to the one-liner from him on the cover of the Sphere edition of The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, describing it as “a classic of the first water”. Later, I came across the Call of Cthulhu RPG in an early issue of White Dwarf and decided to give him a look. I picked up the Grafton editions with the excellent but entirely misleading Tim White covers. I was a bit underwhelmed by most of it but did come to appreciate bits and pieces in later years, although it’s a good twenty or more since I gave them any real attention. As HPL is much maligned (including by MM himself as briefly touched upon in the Wizardry and Wild Romance episode) and more recently has received much criticism for his politics and attitudes to race, I have been thinking about dusting off his Dreamlands cycle for another look. Not to pull him apart for any of the aforementioned reasons particularly, but rather because I do remember enjoying them more than his ‘Mythos’ heavy tales. Also, I was listening to The Silver Key again by Ah Pook the Destroyer on a long drive recently, an excellent album. Don’t be put off by the odd name. They recently followed that up (after a ten year hiatus) with The King in Yellow, also well worth a listen. They are quite theatrical but thoughtful, layered and proggy as fuck.
Anyway, should anyone be interested in listening to us waffle on about Randolph Carter, the Plains of Unknown Kadath, Thog, Ghouls and the Cats of Ulthar, give us a shout.
That’s all for this update, TFP Phase Four (The Last Days of Man on Earth) coming in the next week or so.