Today, I recorded a story from Weird Tales, first published in 1936.
I loved it. It’s supernatural in a way that reminded me of Hyperion, with just enough science fiction elements to ground it in some kid of a reality.
It’s longer than what I usually record, coming in at about 75 minutes, but I hope you’ll find the time to listen to it. It’s a really neat story.
And while I have your attention, can we just look at this from a different perspective that I can’t define? Like, let’s pull back a little bit on the timeline, and take a longer view than we normally would right now.
This story was written by a woman, in 1936. CL Moore is one of the first women to be published as a science fiction and fantasy writer. I can’t even imagine what a challenge it was to get her work, which is brilliant, past the editors in those days. I know she used initials and wrote under male pseudonyms, and while I hate that she had to do that, I’m so grateful that she did.
That this work exists at all is a wonderful testament to her talent and the editors who refused to be as sexist as the world generally was then (and still is, in modern ways, today).
I’m sure, in her incredible, gifted, magnificent imagination, she never even considered for a second that, almost 100 years into her future, someone whose parents weren’t yet born would take her work, bring it to life in a unique way, and then distribute that new work to anyone who wants it, in the world, without even getting out of my desk chair.
What amazing thing is sitting just over our horizon? What amazing thing is waiting for our grandchildren that we can’t even imagine right now? Why aren’t we doing more to protect our planet and each other, so our grandchildren don’t have to live in some apocalyptic nightmare?
The world is so dark right now. Fascism is on the rise all over the world, and has been taking root in America for some time. People are getting sick and dying for no good reason, while selfish people refuse to make sacrifices to prevent those deaths from happening. People are scared and struggling, and selfish, venal men refuse to lift a finger to help them, because offering that help now, when our lives and homes and careers are at risk, would prove that it really is possible in America to support our population in a way that is similar to the social democracies across Europe.
It’s such a terrible time, and I need to remember to keep looking for the helpers, or I’ll despair so much I may never come back from it.
So one way to maintain perspective, a different perspective, is to look at this recording and recognize what its existence says about the human spirit, what we’ve gotten through in the past as a collective and as individuals, and that there is hope for our future. Maybe there is someone whose parents aren’t yet born who will take my interpretation of CL Moore’s Tree of Life and do something with it 100 years from now.
It is unlikely that my work will outlive me, or even endure as long as I manage to stay alive. It would take something truly remarkable for this thing I recorded today to find a new life in 2120, but the possibility is so enticing, so inspiring, so much like the ideas that powered the fantastic, weird fiction I love so much from the 20th Century, I’m going to go ahead and allow it.
16 thoughts on “Radio Free Burrito Presents: The Tree of Life by CL Moore”
Saved for tomorrow, so I’m sure to not fall asleep. Your voice is that kind of comfort no matter the subject. Thank you.
The only online thing from today that will still be here in 2120 will be YT videos. Including the ones that are a single frame and an audio track. If posterity is to have a ghost of a chance, also release it on YT.
Then again, I said the same thing about Compuserve, GeoCities and AOL. And Usenet. At least I got one right.
Oh wow, was that ever a well-written story! Her use of language was masterful! Very good choice of a story, Wil. I don’t know that I ever would have read this story, if not for you reading it out to us. I wish I was one tenth as good a writer as she was. Thanks once more for pushing back the world for a bit, while I got lost in your reading.
Yay! CL Moore rocks, thanks Wil!
You know what’s so funny? Today I was starting dinner prep (one of those things that takes forever to cook from a recipe I found online ) and baking a chocolate cake for dessert at the same time, while I could hear my husband in the other room talking in a video meeting for work. I had to stop and tell my son that I could see him watching videos online while he was supposed to be watching today’s virtual lesson, posted by his teacher, because I need him to upload his homework before dinner. All of a sudden I realize that, holy fuck, this pandemic has turned me into one of those 1960s housewives of the future. It’s a weird, weird feeling.
So, thanks for the story and the post! Happy 420!
See this is what I have been trying to emphasize with you. You championing CL Moore is you being your best. Sharing history of restrictive patriarchy of women and highlighting CL Moore’s gift! This is what you do best! This is what makes me support what you are doing! That you are very protective of the Divine Feminine. You are the epitome of the Sacred Storyteller Archetype. I wrote a Tumblr https://it-is-war-wil-wheaton.tumblr.com/post/615970246770180096/radio-free-burrito-presents-the-tree-of-life-by
I haven’t gotten through the whole thing yet because of the length and I rarely have a block of time that long where I can listen to anything uninterrupted. But I did start it and it’s interesting so far. I like how you shared a little about the author and her challenges as a female writer. Maybe you have covered this question before and I missed it, but how do you pick the stories you record?
I’ve been looking at the recent releases to Project Gutenberg, and choosing based on what happens to be there at the time. It seems like as good a plan as any, to sort of randomly find things to narrate.
This particular one, though, was deliberate, as I explained in the intro.
Thank you for the explanation! I am very much visual so sometimes I miss information in audiobooks if I don’t have a transcript to read alongside it. I appreciate the time you take to record these stories. I love to read aloud to my kids and can appreciate the focus it takes to read with an expressive voice while not stumbling over words. Then again, your past acting experience has probably helped. Hopefully because you are doing this by your own choice it is as enjoyable and enriching to you as it is to others who hear it.
Nice work. In a similar vein, this reply is a shameless plug for “Monster She Wrote”, one of the library books I was reading when the plague hit. There’s also a podcast. I’m receiving no cash for doing this. Enjoy! https://www.tor.com/2019/10/04/book-reviews-in-monster-she-wrote-by-lisa-kroger-and-melanie-r-anderson/
That was great! It is remarkable that you can do this so well at a first reading. Her reference to William Blake was interesting, as was her seeming love for the word “queer” as an adjective. Thank you!
I know I honestly thinking it is a million times better knowing everything is recorded live without edit from cat meows to that ghost in the corner of your room who keeps whispering in the background. “Find her.” Over and over again.
Usually I see a “play in browser” option, but I didn’t get that this time, and the link to Soundcloud also refused to work for me. Bumming,. But I will definitely read the story myself at some point, if I can’t listen to you, because of your glowing review. 🙂
Thanks for this. I look forward to listening. All those great women who wrote SF in the 40s, 50s, 60s, Leigh Brackett, Kate Wilhelm, CL Moore, so much appreciation to them. And to you for highlighting Moore’s work. Hoping you find some relief from the bad news. I think that for every venal person, there are ten working to uplift. I hope we can turn our attention to them.
Just wanted to point out that you don’t have to go all the way to Europe to find a social democracy that’s working – look up, up north. Canada. Want some daily inspiration and reassurance? Watch PM Trudeau’s daily message. He doesn’t lie and bully or use “sarcasm” and jokes. He is putting real money in real people’s pockets ($2000 per month for 4 months). He’s helping students (money in lieu of no summer jobs, help with tuition (more GRANTS), moritorium on tuition loan paybacks). He’s helping small businesses (75% relief on rents!).
AND I can’t wait to listen to this!
Just finished listening to this wonderful story, and read the accompanying blog post. Well said, Wil!
Comments are closed.