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.

Entropic State Report 6th February 2023

Dear friends,

Phil and I have embarked upon our winter retreat, on this occasion to the incredibly picturesque harbour town of Barmouth.

Yes, Barmouth. The scene of Guy N Smith’s terror double-bill of Night of the Crabs and its subsequent sidequel, Crabs Moon. Now I’m not saying we decided to commit a whole week of our annual leave allocations to visiting the site of a brace of 70s horror novels, but we may well have committed a whole week of our annual leave allocations to visiting the site of a brace of 70s horror novels.

It was a good choice though.

I’m not going to knock Smith’s literary credentials for a second, but he didn’t really sell Barmouth’s qualities. It’s a really beautiful bit of coast and the key landmarks do not disappoint, with Arthog Bridge being a particularly impressive piece of Victorian engineering. That was obviously wasted on that down-in-the-mouth train driver but not on us.

Amusingly, our digs are in Llanaber – the very site of Professor Cliff Davenport’s boarding house (and scene of his alarmingly immediate bond with Pat). We’re going all in for the authentic experience. Shell Beach awaits.

Amongst our holiday reading we have the final instalment in the Cliff Davenport triptych, CRABS ON THE RAMPAGE. Sadly it isn’t set in Barmouth, but, weirdly, it does feature some of our older holiday stomping grounds up in the highlands of Scotland that we are very familiar with.

Anyway, enough of my holiday snaps.

It’s suddenly February and 2023 is already feeling productive. We’re keeping up a decent pace with the show, I have two more in the can undergoing editing, and Phil and I will hopefully record our thoughts on The Phoenix in Obsidian AKA The Silver Warriors very soon. This month I’m scheduled to revisit the NEL story with Andrew Nette and Dave will be back to pick up the Hawkmoon saga with The Sword of the Dawn.

To add to that, if you missed it, I popped up on the Appendix N Book Club and that was a fine time all round.

In a addition to that, we passed a couple of Podbean milestones in January too…

…and I have to say Podbean, you could put a bit more effort in with your badges.

Still, it’s always good to note progress. Long may it continue. And thanks to all of you for supporting us and making it happen.

That’s all for now though, I have to go down Barmouth beach in search of crevices (I remain unconvinced).

So go steady out there and we’ll catch up again soon… On t’moonbeam roads.

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.

The Devils of D-Day 2: Manitou Boogalou

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)!

Entropic State Report 2nd January 2023 – Happy New Year


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.