Entropic State Report 14th March 2023


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.

The Sword of the Dawn – Book One

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.

Join us as we discuss this and much more!

Entropic State Report 23rd February 2023

It’s 23.02.23.

The year is already tumbling by and, compared to last year, here at D&Ts we’re keeping up a good pace. Having chats with all of our compadres on a variety of topics MM, MM-adjacent and things that are just plain old ‘of interest’ is its own reward but I’ve come to find that the time I spend putting episodes together in the editing suite is a pretty mellow experience and quite therapeutic.

In terms of knowledge and capability, this has been a journey. I still make blobs from time to time, and Zoom is far from an ideal solution to online recording with co-hosts on the far side of the world, but overall I think the quality of the audio has shown a steady improvement. With your support and encouragement I’ve improved my gear, got more practice, identified some routines that help and… perhaps most importantly for my process, I’ve discovered plug-ins. What used to take me hours of bumbling around in the settings on Adobe Audition, I can now accomplish incredibly quickly by applying some simple settings, pressing ‘apply’ and hopping off to make a cuppa.

Having thought back to one of the (in my mind) most notoriously difficult-to-edit shows in our 55-episode run, I decided to see if one of those plug-ins could, at the turn of a dial, significantly improve the audio. So I loaded up The Jewel in the Skull Part Two, activated the plug-in, turned the dial and pressed apply. One cuppa later, it’s transformed into something infinitely easier on the ears.

But… I have a dilemma.

I loved recording those early episodes in Tash’s kitchen and I do wonder if going back and ‘correcting’ them subtracts something. In terms of figuring out how to do it, we were making it up as we went along and getting rat-arsed along the way. And I’m not sure I want to lose that.

Yes, new listeners that land upon that episode that expect a degree of professionalism in their podcasts may be turned off by it. But I’m not sure they’d be any less turned off by our drunken repartee.

I also fear that if I do one I’ll just end up obsessing over revisions to earlier episodes instead of concentrating on new ones.

I’ll continue to mull it over.

Meanwhile, I have two full shows in the can for editing and I’m recording two more in the coming 7 days so I need to pull my finger out and get editing NEW stuff, let alone drunken ramblings from three years ago.

Coming in the next few weeks we have musings on The War of the Worlds with Allister Thompson, New English Library Bikerspolitation with Andrew Nette, The Sword of the Dawn with Dave and a chat about Moorcock, Black Swords and Hacks with Goran Gligović. Also, Phil might finally finish her Phoenix in the Sword homework but having blown her knee out and found she potentially needs a knee replacement she has other things on her plate right now.

Anyway, if you have any thoughts on revisionism (it is very MM after all) let me know.

The Dark – The Nature of the Uncosy Catastrophe Part One

Graham and Miles join me in Derry & Toms to delve into more James Herbert disaster action and muse over the glut of uncosy catastrophes coming out of the 70s paperback boom to answer Aldiss’s dismissal of the British sci-fi apocalypse novels of the 60s.

We talk about The Dark and touch upon some other examples we’ve been picking up.

As trailed in the show you can find The Casual Trek Podcast on all good podcatchers and you can still find the episode of the Closer to Midnight Podcast covering John Christopher’s The Death of Grass and the Cornel Wilde film adaptation No Blade of Grass on DeathofGrass.com 

Check out Graham’s music on his bandcamp pages for Decadnids, Decanids vs NΛND (The Black Corridor) and The Duck Pond Sailors.

New Edge Sword & Sorcery Magazine

Oliver Brackenbury drops by Derry & Toms to give us the low down on New Edge Sword & Sorcery, his new anthology magazine heading to Kickstarter around about the time this show goes out.

We talk about the magazine as well as numerous things including the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation & Fantasy at Toronto Public Library, Oliver’s related podcast Unknown Worlds of the Merril Collection, his path to writing and editing and his main podcast So I’m Writing a Novel.

You can find more info about Oliver and all of his projects and activities at https://www.oliverbrackenbury.com

This show is played out with Demesne of the Rocks, the opening track from the new N Λ Ṇ D release Journal Vol II

Entropic State Special Report – 30th January 2023 – Journal Vol. II by N Λ Ṇ D

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

The Fortress of the Pearl – Part Two

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.

In other news I was delighted to be a guest of Jeff and Hoi on the Appendix N Book Club. Be sure to check out their interview with Mr Moorcock himself too.

Also, check out the exquisite black metal dungeon synth of Fortress of the Pearl on Bandcamp.

That beer table, for those interested…

Entropic State Report 20th January 2023

Dear pards,

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.

And finally…

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.

Entropic State Report 12th January 2023

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:

“Rainbow shaker
On a stallion twister
Bareback rider
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.