Podcast Episode 52: Hard Boiled Speculative Fiction

C.J. HendersonThis week I chat with C.J. Henderson, creator of the Piers Knight supernatural investigator series and the Teddy London occult detective series. Our discussion touches on the nature of term “hard boiled,” how Baby’s First Mythos, the book he did with his daughter, was created, the bestiary he’s working on with his daughter, his upcoming fantasy magazine, the resistance to publishing the first of his Teddy London series of paranormal detective novels, his book Steam Powered Love, and more hard boiled zaniness.

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“If you want to do anything creative, do what you want to do. Am I guaranteeing you that just like me you’ll get your biggest success? No. But what I am guaranteeing you is, if you don’t sit down and do it, nothing will ever happen. Your best chance is to follow what you do best. What you love. Your passion. Even if nobody wants it, nobody things its gonna work, your time will come.”
– C.J. Henderson

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Mentioned in this Episode:

Outland Outland
This 1981 science fiction thriller starring Sean Connery is set on an outpost on Jupiter’s moon Io. Because of its thematic resemblance to the 1952 western High Noon, it is often considered a space Western. After Federal Marshal William O’Niel (Connery) is assigned to a tour of duty in a titanium ore mining outpost, he finds himself investigating deaths that are soon linked to illegal drugs. After capturing one of the dealers and destroying the latest shipment of the drugs, he discovers that assassins have been sent to stop him. Tense, life-threatening adventures ensue, after a gritty battle, O’Niel survives to return to Earth and his wife and son.



The Matrix The Matrix
This 1999 science fiction action film starring Keanu Reeves is set in a far future where humanity is imprisoned in a virtual world so real they don’t know they are imprisoned. Computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson (Reeves), secretly known as the hacker Neo, discovers that what he thought was reality is really a simulated world created by artificial intelligences. This forces him from his “normal” life into a life filled with action, adventure and danger, where he is looked to as something of a messiah, even though he has his doubts.



Les Misérables Les Misérables
Although he doesn’t mention it by name, C.J. makes a reference to Victor Hugo’s acclaimed novel Les Misérables or The Miserable Ones. Published in 1862, Les Misérables tells the story of Jean Valjean, an ex-confict who was imprisoned for stealing bread to feed his starving family, and his quest for redemption. The novel has been adapted for both stage and screen, in both dramatic and musical forms.
Baby's First Mythos Baby’s First Mythos
This alphabet book, written by C.J. with illustrations by his daughter, Erica Henderson, is based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu mythos. In the podcast, C.J. mentions the following:

  • Cthulhu – cosmic entity who first made an appearance in “The Call of Cthulhu” published in 1928 in Weird Tales
  • Dagon – an ancient Philistine mer-God used as inspiration by Lovecraft
  • Innsmouth – the fictional town used by Lovecraft as a setting for his Cthulhu stories
Underdog Underdog (2007)
This live-action film adaptation of the animated television series from the 1960s starred Jason Lee as the voice of Underdog, a dog that gains super powers after a lab accident. This film also starred Peter Dinklage (Threshold), James Belushi (Gargoyles, Pinky and the Brain) and Patrick Warburton (Space Chimps, The Tick).
The Church of One Tree, Santa Rosa, Calif. The Church of One Tree, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Earlier this year, after 13 years of vacancy, the Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa reopened its doors as a venue for weddings and special events. When I was younger, it was home to a Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. The museum was opened in the 1950s and closed its doors in 1998. Ripley, believe it or not, was a Santa Rosa native and featured the church in is Believe It or Not cartoons in the 1920s. The museum housed, among other oddities, a two-headed calf with six legs, a fish with fur and a Jackalope. You can read more about this building in this Press Democrat story.
A jackalope is a mythical North American animal that looks like a jackrabbit with antelope horns or deer antlers on its head. Some believe the tale of the jackalope might have been inspired by sightings of rabbits infected with Shope papillova virus, which causes horn-like tumors to grow on the rabbits head and body. You can see an image of a rabbit so infected here.
Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak
Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchack
Kolchak: The Night Stalker
In 1972, Darren McGavin starred in a television movie called The Night Stalker, in which he played an investigative reporter who suspects that a serial killer in Las Vegas is a vampire. This movie was followed in 1973 with a sequel called The Night Strangler. This time Carl Kolchak (McGavin) is up against a serial killer who creates an elixir of life from his victims’ blood that keeps him alive 21 years at a time. The success of these two TV movies lead to the TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, that ran for one season, 1974-1975.
All this was inspired by an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice. Once the two movies had aired, the novel was finally published in mass paperback under the title The Night Stalker by Pocket Books. Rice also wrote the novelization of the second film, based on Richard Matheson’s original script. In 2007, Moonstone published an omnibus edition of the two novels under the name The Kolchak Papers. Moonstone also published continued stories in comic book format.
In 2005, the TV series was re-booted. This time Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) played Kolchak. This time, the series was canceled before the first season was complete.
Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper and The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon Cooper is a character on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Cooper, portrayed by Jim Parsons, is a Caltech theoretical physicist who shares an apartment with his colleague and best friend, Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Cooper’s personality is over intellectual. He adheres to a strict routine, he finds irony, sarcasm and humor difficult to understand, he admires his own intellectual prowess, and he doesn’t have much humility or empathy.
Chocolate and Brain Chemistry
Chocolate contains numerous chemicals that can have an effect on the human nervous system. Some of the effects caused by chocolate are due to their effect on neurotransmitters, chemicals that help regulate brain function. This is why chocolate can affect mood and make a person feel happy. If you would like to learn more about the effects that chocolate can have on the brain, check out these links:


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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.