Stepan Chapman

Stepan Chapman died. I knew him only briefly and not very well. His novel, The Troika, was an amazing piece of wacky and thoughtful weirdness. I hadn’t seen him in several years. He had a starring role in the The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, a book put together by Jeff VanderMeer & Mark Roberts. Writers were asked to create a story built around a fake disease. I wrote a letter (as Dr. Wexler) to the fictional Dr. Lambshead begging him not to publish the Pocket Guide. Stepan incorporated my letter into the history of the Pocket Guide, treating Dr. Wexler as the villain, always stealing Dr. Lambshead’s research, etc. We did some readings together (I couldn’t see him, but was told that when I read my Dr. Wexler letter, he would make silly faces to the audience to mock me).

I’m at work, listening to “Sensorium” an episode from Flotsam Beach, a series of podcasts that Stepan did. I’ve only just discovered them. In which he reads from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, interwoven with a variety of sounds.

“In this sequel to Leeuwenhoek’s Lenses, Stepan reads more pages from Guy Murchie’s The Seven Mysteries of Life, in order to explore the sensory apparatus of the animal world.

Background choir of aquatic insect larvae provided by David Dunn. Zoological interlude music provided by Marc Hollander of France, Lars Hollmer of Sweden, Kimpereli of Switzerland, and Fred Frith of Britain.

Protoplasm. Did we discover it? Or did it discover us?

After a year of imaginary broadcasting, Flotsam Beach is still asking The Big Questions.”

The combination of his reading style and material, plus background music works to make listening to the program oddly stimulating and soothing. Plus, it’s nice to hear his voice.

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