Jim Jim's Comments (member since Aug 08, 2009)

Jim's comments from the Roger Zelazny group.

(showing 101-120 of 951)

22645 Tonight is the big night! It is a dark & stormy night here. Perfect, except for the dark of the moon.
22645 30Oct:

We get a good description of what the game will be like tomorrow night. We find out that Jill has the Opening Wand to oppose Jack’s Closing Wand. Otherwise all is quiet - including Larry. Too quiet as he meditates. Snuff can't get his attention to tell him the truth about Mrs. Enderby/The Great Detective.
22645 It's interesting how the information flow has changed as we get closer to the night.
22645 29Oct:

Snuff, Jack & Bubo had lunch with Jill & Graymaulk. All cards on the table, but Jill is sticking with the Openers.

Elegiac - Of, relating to, or involving elegy or mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past.

Saddened, Snuff walked over the Good Doctor's & found Needle in the barn. Needle says he's still in the Game, but he was the Count's companion & the Count is supposed to be dead. And the Gipsies are still around. Curious.

The Vicar caught Snuff off guard, but the Great Detective, in his guise of Mrs. Enderby, came to the rescue & then had a serious talk with Snuff, who wound up showing him where the Game would take place. The Great Detective is apparently another friend to the Closers & will help Larry out in the rescue of the Vicar's daughter.
22645 28Oct:

A most interesting night! Bubo explains the Game! So the Closers have always won & the Openers get magical backlash that often destroys them. Jack & Jill are very friendly & Snuff hopes this time won't be like Dijon - a reference to 7Oct when they made a reference to Jack being distracted by a woman. That time was 'hard to forget' in Jack's words.

Jack & Snuff are almost myths in the Game. Jack is thought to possibly be Cain from the Christian mythos.

Snuff figures the place &, as expected, it is Dog's Nest. It only calculates out that way if Larry is not truly a player, just a 'friend of the court' & the Good Doctor is subtracted. One time the proper place wasn't found & so the Game never got played out.

The Great Detective, in his guise as Mrs. Enderby, is spying on the Vicar & calls to Snuff, who ignores him. The way he called was not as one would to a dog, but to another person.

Snuff found signs of the Experiment Man walking about Dog's Nest.
Welcome! (91 new)
Oct 28, 2013 03:53PM

22645 Welcome, Helen. It's been nice to have someone commenting on the thread!
22645 Coincidence or confluence? Aren't the Doctor's experiments similar to what they're fighting about?
22645 27Oct:
Snuff realizes that he can't tell when Graymaulk smiles, either.

The Good Doctor's place burned down & the 'Experiment Man' ran off. The GD's fate is unknown, as it that of his assistant. It turns out that Bubo was just an extraordinarily astute pack rat & not a familiar. The GD was not part of the game, so all the calculations have changed.
22645 26Oct:

Not much happens today except we get a run down on the players. Snuff meets a wolf in the woods that addresses him by name, but isn’t Larry. I wonder who it could be? The wolf didn’t seem smart or tough enough to be Growler or some other supernatural being.
22645 Sounds like fun, Chris.
22645 It is weird rooting for Jack, isn't it? Amazing how much the perspective of a tale can change my sympathies.
22645 25Oct:

Gray tries to kill Tekela, but misses. Owen was killed & his sickle is missing. Snuff says the Sickle is a thing of power, but not really a Game tool. In order to find out that it was missing, Graymaulk & Snuff agree to get Cheeter his shadow back. Owen detached it from him using the sickle & nailed it into a design in the basement with 7 silver nails. This gave Cheeter his intelligence, but removed his instincts. Now that Owen is dead, he wants out of the Game. He doesn’t want to go to Morris & MacCab, even though they’re also Openers. Their persuasion seems to be common knowledge now. Did we read this earlier? I don’t recall having done so.

Rastov was apparently in talks with Owen & there was a possibility that he was changing sides to become an Opener. So is someone killing Openers or just Players? We also find out that no one knows what persuasion the Good Doctor is – the divinations go awry. Snuff thinks there is a secret player.
22645 24Oct:

A large wolfish creature, not Larry according to him, stopped by Jack & Snuff's house while they were out along with Nightwind & Cheeter.

Snuff can only speak to Jack from midnight to 1am & we learn a lot more about Jack's powers. The knife is not part of the Game, but an embodiment of Jack's curse. Instead, he wields the Closing Wand, but has another, more utilitarian one for everyday magic, such as transferring the things that slither into a bottle of Port.

Snuff spoke of two wands to Gray & now we know he lied about not knowing where one of them was. I’d guess the other is the Opening Wand. I wonder who has that? Does having the wand make Jack the leader of the Closers?

The Thing in the Steamer Trunk also burst loose & Snuff ripped it's throat out. In its dying throes, it fought with the Thing in the Attic. It slowed it down, as did Snuff, but Jack finished it off & then took out the Thing in the Basement by himself.

During the fight, copies of "The Strand" magazine fluttered to the floor. It was an English monthly fiction magazine started in 1891 & ran Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes' stories. Pictures fell to the floor & while I recognized Dickens, I didn't know Surtees. I looked him up & I think this is who is referred to:

A book by Martin Farquhar Tupper fell on top of Browning's. Here's a link to his Wikipedia entry.

We find out what the Things were for – just in case all goes to Hell, they were to cover Jack & Snuff’s retreat. Very frustrating to put up with them for all that time only to lose them like that.

The lightening that woke Snuff & seemed to have helped all the things escape was an attack probably by the Vicar. Jack uses his knife to banish the attack & a bottle of Port to contain the spirits (slitherers). Jack says he hasn’t seen this sort of spell since Alexandria – I assume that means the Library’s destruction 1500 years or more before?

Jill & Graymaulk show up immediately after & Jack refers to the things as 'ogres'. Snuff comes up with the idea of putting them in Owen's baskets, hauling them up into his oak tree & lighting them on fire. He says they gave a lovely light. Great Halloween gag.
22645 23Oct:

Snuff finds a black feather near the front door & takes care of it in true doggy fashion - if you can’t eat or play with it, piss on it. He & Larry check out Snuff's calculations, but can't come up with the correct place. There are definitely missing pieces or the ones they have are put together incorrectly. Snuff makes it quite clear that he should be able to calculate the place by now. They have an interesting conversation discussing the nuances between divination, anticipation, & calculation. Also, we find out more about how the Game works.

Snuff still isn’t telling Larry about the Great Detective. His feelings toward Larry are an interesting, if complicated mix. Dog to dog, he defers to Larry’s power, but in the Game, he feels that Larry is just a pup. His compassion for Larry is strange in some ways, given the nature of the Game, but Snuff continually proves that he has a lot of it, especially today.

Larry has a feeling a player is dead &, sure enough, Rastov looks to have hanged himself, but his icon is missing, which points to murder, rather than suicide. I find it interesting that Quicklime is so active this late in the year with the cold. Snuff even invites him to winter over with him & Jack – not the actions of a normal snake. It’s also interesting that Larry can’t talk to Quicklime, but Snuff translates between the two.

The Vicar, confirmed as an Opener, is the prime suspect in Rastov’s death, being the most militant player. Gray is quite concerned about his gathering so many objects of power, but Snuff still doesn’t seem terribly worried. His comment that he’d seen some of the objects many times is interesting. Again, I wonder how many times he has played the Game.

Graymalk & Snuff check out Lynette, but almost get caught by the Vicar who gets a good whack in on Graymalk. Snuff savages his ear, although he was originally going for his throat, & they escape. His feelings toward Gray are quite strong & seem to be returned. This is strange not only because we’ve had hints that Jill & Gray might be Openers & they’re cat & dog, but also because the Game seems so cutthroat in nature. Gray makes a comment about the Vicar wanting to be the only one standing that seems to bode badly for the other Openers.

Jack & Jill take a trip to town. Snuff gets captured by the Vicar & given to a vivisectionist who plans to make some candles out of him for the Vicar. Just before the operation is to begin, Jack & Graymalk burst in. Snuff knows they are coming by the ringing of the curses.

The 3 vivisectionists make the mistake of taking on Jack with blades & his power takes him over. Captured starlight stalks along the blade. Snuff remarks that the HPO was right about seas of blood & messes. There is a certain justice to Jack's actions. I was certainly rooting for him & found the understated way that Zelazny describes the whole scene absolutely chilling.

By Chris Kovacs:
1) As someone suggested earlier, the description of the three vivisectionists does evoke the Three Stooges, except that these three characters are speaking in low-class British accents whereas the Three Stooges were American. Didn't one of the stooges have an exaggerated facial tic, as one of the vivisectionists does? Or am I thinking of something else? The description includes a thin blond man, a large beefy man with very blue eyes, and a short man with wide shoulders, large hands, and a tic at the corner of his mouth. I'm not certain that Zelazny meant the three stooges; I wouldn't be surprised if there's some old horror movie that had three characters fitting this description.

((I was also reminded of the three vivisectionists from Rawlinson End by Vivian Stanshall, a 1970s radio play. It's not an exact fit because the three are children, including one girl and two boys, one of whom is "a loathesome teenager with a squint and acne. He hates everybody. He likes to deface gnomes." But they do have an appropriate song which is accompanied by "arms linked and to the rhythm of knives, something about poodles and chopping.":

We are three vivisectionists
We go out at night
With big brown sacks
Commandeering little cats
They sometimes bite
They sometimes scratch
But in the end
They meet their match
With a
A poodle of little
Or no consequence
Secreted at night
As he peed up a door
The poor little
He was somebody pet
But with scalpals and needles
No more
We’re convivial vivisectionists
We take out animals brains
We prise them out of deep inside
We put them back again))

2) During the attack in Jack's house, books fall off the shelves, and Zelazny specifies that "Martin Farquhar Tupper lay atop Elizabeth Barrett Browning, their covers torn." Both were Victorian era poets which is quite in keeping with the setting of this novel (Barrett Browning famously wrote "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...".) But both were also anti-vivisectionists; there was a campaign against vivisection during that era. Tupper wrote four anti-vivisection sonnets, Browning was an animal supporter who wrote a couple of influential poems about her dog Flush (which inspired Virginia Woolf to write her fictional book Flush: A Biography), and Barrett Browning's husband, poet Robert Browning, wrote two anti-vivisection poems. Given that reference to Tupper and Browning happens right after the chapter with the vivisectionists, I think it's a deliberate but subtle Zelazny reference.

But there's something more.

The mention of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog Flush brought to mind that Snuff may be named after it (snuff and flush are two short verbs). More importantly, in Virginia Woolf's book, Flush: A Biography, the story is told through the eyes of the dog. So I'm certain now that Snuff narrating Lonesome October bears inspiration from Flush narrating Woolf's book.

And so in typical Zelazny fashion it's a subtle passing remark which is key: mention of a book falling off a shelf gives acknowledgment to one of the inspirations for Snuff.

22645 Hah! Well, that sounds painful. Not a bone Snuff would want to fetch nor would any want it fetched...
22645 22Oct:

Jack & Snuff's various demons are getting stronger. The Great Detective is visiting Larry again & this worries Snuff.

Cheeter thinks Snuff & Graymalk make an odd couple, not because they're dog & cat, but because they're Closer & Opener, respectively. Snuff mentions that Cheeter & Owen are divinators & ‘let them have their day' as if they have an advantage now, but won’t soon. Divinators know something of the future & Snuff doesn’t notice any difference in the number of baskets from the 10th ( 8 large & 7 small), which never added up correctly for the players he knew back on the 15th.
Jack & Snuff
Jill & Graymalk
Owen & Cheeter
The Vicar & Tekela
Morris, MacCab, & Nightwind
Rastov & Quicklime
The Good Doctor & Bubo
That’s 7 large & 6 small, which means we need another pair.
Larry Talbot & his alter ego
The Great Detective & Watson
The Count & Needle
are all iffy, though. Are they Players? Would The Count & Needle still count since they were established before the Death of the Moon? Their places count for Snuff’s calculations, but those aren’t working out correctly. Something isn’t adding up. There is also the Good Doctor’s creation & his assistant to think about.

It seems that Jack has been chatting up Jill in an effort to change her affiliation. In their conversation, it becomes clear that Snuff has played the Game many times, while this is the first for Graymalk.

The Count's ring wasn't on his body. (What ring?) They discuss how the artifacts give the Players power, but Snuff doesn’t seem to think this is as important as Graymalk due to the confusion & way events sweep them up to the final moment. ‘It gets weird, but pretty much cancels out.’ The weird part seems especially true of the Good Doctor’s pet storm which spreads.

Snuff & Graymalk go to Dog's Nest so Snuff can calculate the place. His calculations show it some distance off, but Graymalk bad mouths the Elder Gods & they vent their wrath, there at Dog's Nest – or so they think. Snuff & Graymalk get sucked into a dream world, based on H. P. Lovecraft's novella "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath". They fly over the land where Snuff dreams & get's lessons from his spirit guide, Growler, an old wolf, but Graymalk seems to know the world best & steers their course.

They get to meet Graymalk's spirit guide, who she greets as the High Purring One (HPO), & he admits to calling them there. This god likes Snuff & grants him a favor by telling him what tomorrow holds – lots of blood & he will lose a friend - & then tells him to go fetch a stick in Latin.
Carpe baculum means seize staff, literally.
Et cum spiritu tuo: and also with you.
Benedicte: blessed
It doesn’t make much sense literally. Could it be the god is telling Snuff to be himself, a dog? Then Snuff is agreeing & then the god is letting him know again, that Snuff is in his good graces?

Celephais: a fictional city created by H.P. Lovecraft in a short story of the same name.
Snuff’s dream world is a lot less complicated, but he plans to visit Growler to prepare for tomorrow, based on what the HPO said.

Snuff’s thought that, “…unless it were simply another instance of that famous inscrutability which I sometimes think is to be better understood as childishness.” reminds of Heinlein’s saying that ‘Most gods have the manners & morals of a spoiled child.’ A read of the Old Testament certainly seems to prove that out.

Once yesterday & twice today, Snuff has told us that no one can tell when he is smiling. It must be important, although I can’t imagine why or how…
22645 ckovacs wrote: "I'd mentioned in my essay (http://lovecraftzine.com/issues/2012-...) ..."

Chris, I made note of that in my notes for next time. I don't have a copy of your essay from the NY Review of SF. What was your other thought on Tekela's name?

I'm still leaning toward saint, but it's quite possible that the sound & the saint came together for Zelazny.
22645 21Oct:

As the moon waxes, so does the action. Snuff considers Larry an ally, but still doesn't tell him about the Great Detective's new role. He does this out of compassion for Larry. He also doesn't think the GD is a player, but likens him to a force of the Game. Snuff's description of the GD at the end with the Gipsies is excellent. I think Zelazny managed to sum up Doyle’s creation beautifully.

We learn a lot more about the mechanics of the final ritual. The losers likely die, but Snuff says it isn't so cut & dried. He sounds quite experienced. Is he the only one who has done this before, besides Jack? We also finally find out what an Opener is when Snuff thinks, “thought about the Elder Gods and wondered at how they might change things if the way were opened for their return.” So a Closer would be one who stops them.

Snuff & Quicklime team up & discover they're both Closers. Quicklime managed to get Needle drunk & he spilled the locations for the Count. (I loved the description of him that Graymalk gives.) The Count, who Snuff believes would have been an Opener, seems to have been staked & is out of the Game, but not after messing up all of Snuff's calculations by having several places established before the death of the moon.

Rastov has the Alhazred Icon, a 3”x9” board with a strange painting on it. Abdul Alhazred was the Lovecraft character, an Arabian necromancer, who first opened the gate to our world for the 'Great Old Ones' or 'Elder Gods'. He wrote the 'Necronomicon' aka 'The Book of Dead Names', generally called 'The Book of the Dead'.

An interesting quote, "go to the shores of Hali & consider the enactments of ruin" by Rastov. It is from Ambrose Bierce's story, "A Man From Carcosa", a destroyed city which was situated on those shores.

Memento mori: "Remember your mortality" in Latin. Interesting that Snuff says it when told by Graymalk about the skull the Vicar keeps on his desk in The Bowl or Pentacle Bowl (Does anyone know more about this?) that Snuff thought the Good Doctor would have. He’s still looking for two wands, though.

Graymalk says everyone thinks of the old manse as the center. "The vicar told her [Tekela] that it had served a much larger church, south of here, in the old days — one that the last Henry had ruined, as an example to the others that he meant business." (Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic church.) This irritates Snuff because it was so perfect for the center, but he seems sure it isn’t. He thinks he’ll know the new position tomorrow, though.
22645 Helen wrote: "I haven't read anything else by Zelazny, is there always do much hidden in the text?"

It depends on the work. 'Lonesome October' probably has one of the biggest disparities. The story line seems extremely simple, but with more hidden than in most. Some of his short stories can just smack you in the face with their point, while other novels (Lord of Light) just scream that there are subtle clues throughout & there are.

Generally, I'd say he has a lot more subtext hidden than most. It's the poet in him.
22645 20Oct:

Crazy Jill is younger than Snuff thought. Graymalk says, "If the way is opened, things should change." A clue to what an Opener is & her persuasion? She & Snuff discuss, but come to no conclusions, although we do learn Jill & Gray had a rough life before they teamed up & don’t like the status quo. They all seem too chummy to be on opposite sides, though.

Later, Snuff lets Gray know that this isn't his first time in the game & seems to think that information is important. The full moon on Halloween only happens a few times each century & the Players don’t always gather together for the Game. It’s interesting the way he puts it:
“...assemble to try for an opening or hold for a closing.”

Together with the rest of their conversation, it adds up to Closers keeping the status quo, while Openers want to change the world by opening a way for something that will cause change, but we don’t know what.

Snuff’s conversation with Nightwind was entertaining, enlightening, & interesting. Bats are a bit salty? Nightwind & Quicklime have made up, but don’t think the Great Detective is a player or even know who he is. Snuff has a vision & realizes how the Inspector died, a ceremonial killing by the Vicar, who is definitely a player & has a female albino crow named Tekela.

Steven Brust, a friend of Zelazny’s, has Teklas, a timid peasant type that make up 90% of the Empire's population in his Vlad Taltos series. I wonder if this is a play on that or something else? Tekela is a group of African languages within the Bantu family. While Tekla is an alternative spelling of Thecla, an early Christian saint.
Given that the raven is female & the familiar of the Vicar, I think the last makes the most sense, although I had to stretch for it.

While pretending to trade fairly with Nightwind, Snuff lies about Larry. Nightwind is quite upset that Bubo isn't sharing information & he gives Snuff tips on eating rats while telling him about the Good Doctor's man, who is walking about in the evenings. Very large, strong & simple.

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