Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #097

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Stroke Of The Sun by Arthur C. Clarke

The Stroke Of The Sun was first published in the Galaxy, September 1958.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #451 – Jesse, Paul and Marissa talk about Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1985, 1957, a magnificent novel!, struggling through, Paul is not a fan, opinions about this book, Marissa really enjoyed it, problems, interesting, not a mainstream book, marriage and cheating, Jesse’s gutter definition of mainstream, it has them all beat, an existential novel, mainstreaminess, dread, creeping social order dread, where did it start to go wrong for Paul, why am I listening to this book, technical difficulties, the opening, the school, why am I listening to this?, mimetic fiction, I’m not interested in this, there’s no hook, their lives, the son, the poor victim, Roger recapitulates, his mother-in-law, the inevitability of the break-up of the marriage, his third time, failed relationships, spending time with these people, they’re awful awful, flip-flopped, disregarding the content of the novel…, badly composed Philip K. Dick novels, he’s really smooth, most beautiful in a few places, a way for Paul to get through this novel, Jesse’s last theory, the Mexicans are not really Mexicans (they’re Martians), what the heck are you talking about, Martian Time-Slip, his autistic son, he gives his son to the Martians, put on the lap of one of the hitchhikers, psychology, moving to Chicago with a load of stolen televisions, a secret science fiction novel, becoming a science fiction novel for a moment, at the point where it would spin fantastic… its averted, ruminating and undercutting, when Jesse reads and Isaac Asimov mystery, mind bendy, under Galactic Pot-Healer, no access to higher beings or aliens who live across the street, Lord Running Clam, well and truly lost, there’s no way out other than to move about, Puttering About vs. puttering around, what is this thing about, its not really about anything, when Virginia talks about her husband, she’s made this mistake, the mores of the 1950s, waiting for her husband to screw up, Roger is a prat, they’re all Philip K. Dick, Mrs. Alt, the teachers are all robots, The Simulacra, the math teacher, the horses, the character realization is amazing, all real people, the TV repairman, R. Childan from The Man In The High Castle, a fascinating book for anybody who wants to go deep on Philip K. Dick, you have to let it hypnotize you, bootstrapping opportunities, being in the right mood for things, if you classify this book differently, this is a crime novel scene, they commit adultery and that’s a crime, James M. Cain, adulterous relationships, the Greek fate track they get on, a car-wreck of murder and sex and love, if I was in this car…, tearing him down, he married into this, there’s no escape, a horror, a horrible human being, horrible people, being terrorized and terrified and having no escape, good writing, feeling something coming, a payoff, what all the school means, what (other than the fact that this actually happened) does this mean?, like he was experiencing this stuff, screw you all, feeling the tedium, attention to detail, open and closed to the experience, little kid psychology, sometimes adults have a greater wisdom and experience than the kid, an emotional sponge, to get that cheque, Mrs Alt is a change, the chickens and the eggs, that chicken scene is straight out of The Father Thing, old and mouldy and rotten down to the center of the earth, its turning science fiction its turning fantasy, its turning PKD!, his brother, a multiple reality thing, it wouldn’t take much to flip it into a science fiction story, Paul remembers he hated mimetic fiction, A New Apartment, I hate these people, Paul nearly failed reading in seventh grade (because of the books they gave him), A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, mis-classified, listening to my neighbours talking about their marriage, the periodness of it, a picture of the 1950s that is so complete, immersed into the 1950s, oh this is a real place, this is a real time, so many scenes, The Hanging Stranger, the basement, everything in his 1950s town is exactly the same except for the corpse hanging from a lamp post, lynching, transparency into a social reality, the racism, he didn’t mutter it quietly enough, teeth flying all over the street and he deserved it, seeing the consequence, it felt so real, so visceral, what happened?, explaining to his wife, refusing to go to the dentist like a little kid, new horrors to come, he’s constantly putting himself into these horrible situations, how great is the rage trip?, raging at the whole world, every middle class white guy’s fear, the emotional experiences, perfectly encapsulated, maybe this was written by a woman, Liz is a fantasy character, Upon The Dull Earth, digging the trench, all the other stories reflected, a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, a waking dream, in a very PKD sense, you can’t tell which universe you’re in, the photographs, so amazing, Time Out Of Joint, we don’t want to live in the world where PKD became a successful mainstream writer, decaying royalties, he is a success in this world, being recognized during his lifetime, worth digging out, he’s such a great idea man that his work will live on past his mere boring and terrible existence, mainstream writers that have wasted their lives, Martian Time-Slip can’t exist without this mundane book, squint a little bit, the PKD genre, the shoe-repair boy, none of them can hear me, our perceptions of reality, it felt like it was about to turn into a science fiction novel, almost a witch, a sorceress, Roger’s seeing something in her, children and schizophrenics, a secret brother living inside, an asshole father, an amazing horror story, Tony And The Beetles, what does this mean, Evan Lampe American Writers: One Hundred Pages At A Time podcast, kids, an empathetic sponge, where it turns into a science fiction novel for a moment, the stamp collection, dad did they use stamps in Roman times, I think I have one, that’s the end of that scene, where’d that come from and where did it go?, the denouement of so many Philip K. Dick novels, Ubik, that is the turn, how often Jesse talks to kids, its almost like they have schizophrenia, I think my feet are on fire, they sound insane, what if that’s true?, the fact that he thinks he has a Roman stamp is true in that moment, those little touches are what make this a great, great book, eliciting the sense of existential dread, I might read another mainstream Philip K. Dick, The Man Whose Teeth Were Exactly Alike, the premise is like nothing, horrible people, I love reading about these fuck-ups, asshole after asshole, Stephen King, Nelson De Mille, a Goodreads review by Hyzenthlay:

The worst part of having a favourite author who died before you started reading him is that eventually you will run out of new reading material. The best part of that favourite author being Philip K Dick is that he was prolific as fuck AND he has so many books that are only recently coming back into print and/or being published posthumously for the first time that even though I’ve been reading him for 20+ years, I still haven’t run out of new-to-me shit to read.

Puttering About in a Small Land is one of those mythical PKD volumes I searched used book stores and thrift shops for for years. It was first published in the mid-80s, following Dick’s death, then went out of print for almost three decades cos there was never much call for his literary fiction. It’s not sexy enough to be referred to in hushed reverential tones like a DADoES or mind-fucky enough to be a scholarly treatise on humanity and reality like the VALIS trilogy.

It’s a quiet book, dealing with adultery and retail. It’s undeniably an early Dick book, exploring what exactly it means to be human; to feel eternal, knowing all this pain is an illusion. The prose and style will be familiar to anyone who’s read more than a handful of his books or short stories, but it’s not one of his Big Damn Idea books.

I feel I’m not explaining myself very well.

If you’re a genre fan thinking to dabble in Dick, don’t start here. [Waves hand] This is not the book you’re looking for. You go read something else (if you don’t want to start with the usual suspects, I applaud you and would recommend The Penultimate Truth, Dr Bloodmoney or The Cosmic Puppets), cos you will likely find this book’s slightly plodding pace infuriating.

If you’re a litfic reader, looking to broaden your reading horizons, you *could* give this one a go. Maybe only if you’re already into mid-20th Century Americana, though. This might not be the best starting point. You’d be better served picking up Confessions of a Crap Artist or Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (which, yes, is genre fiction, but ONLY JUST).

Fellow Dickheads? Obviously you need to read this. After Milton Lumky (who knew typewriter sales would be so compelling?). You might hate it, but your need for completion will compel you.

TL;DR This book isn’t for you. Or you. Or you. But it might be for YOU.

stealth sex scenes, she’s consuming him, a spider crawls on her hip, a great review, Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, Mario Puzo’s Fools Die,

Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K.Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #096

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Moxon’s Master by Ambrose Bierce

Moxon’s Master was first published in the San Francisco Examiner, April 16, 1899.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

SFFaudio Online Audio

First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1953, Theodore Sturgeon’s novelette, Mr. Costello, Hero, was subsequently collected into a handful of SF anthologies and many Sturgeon collections. But none of these reprinted the original Ed Emshwiller art (see below).

More importantly, for purposes of this post at least, it was adapted as the July 30, 1956 episode of X-Minus One which is available as an |MP3| or in this new YouTube video:

Mr Costello, Hero illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

MrCostelloHero70

MrCostelloHero081

Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #450 – Jesse, Scott, Paul Weimer, and Fred Himebaugh, talk about Declare by Tim Powers

Talked about in today’s show:
Learned Hand’s Brow, Fredösphere, 2001, a supernatural spy novel, historical, a secret history of the Cold War, the author’s note from the end, Kim Philby, The Fourth Man, a paranoid squint view of history, “real truth”, On Stranger Tides, more piratical, this way of writing, a sequel?, Last Call, Expiration Day, Earthquake Weather, The Stress Of Her Regard, The Anubis Gates, supernatural adventure stories, very loooong, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, a novelette length epilogue, the last 15%, Scott’s favourite part, alone in a Memphis hotel room, the spy stuff, the final Ararat trip, Paul needs to go up a mountain, the two halves of the same souls, bouncing around the timeline, re-activation, up to confront God, how it was written, the blender artistic method, composition, writing a novel, should be between, where is that number written?, anything over 100,000 words would feel long (except in Fantasy), an 80 page James M. Cain novel, not novel material, what Jesse does for fun, filling in the pieces with supernatural theory, a different bent than Philip K. Dick, Valis, quoting C.S. Lewis, accidentally told the truth, the kind of conversations that they had are exactly where the material this book comes from, A Maze Of Death by Philip K. Dick, Gnostic theories about what’s really behind the veil, really behind the motivations, Philip K. Dick can’t even get through a book without undermining his own theory (unlike Powers), some evil power has blinded us to the truth, a conspiracy against us, escape into the truth Bishop Berkeley, a Gnostic leaner, Fred is reserving the right, dinosaur bones are a distraction, Gnostic vs. ignorant, theme parks for that, Gnostic theme parks, Paul is resolutely materialist, this mundane world, role playing games, this is a fake world, Roger Zelazny’s Amber series, driving to the Courts of Chaos, fantasy literature, spooky stuff, when you pick this flower the princess in the kingdom next door will die, activated, being hungry doesn’t mean we have bread, the bread in the book, miming eating bread that tastes like dust (the Barmecide Feast scene), the meat, an alternate way to god, almost an totalitarian world, how we feel about Kim Philby, how can anybody escape from the reality behind this world?, he’s not killing God he’s confronting an angel, striking against the higher powers, what the Russians are doing, the atheists in the story believe that the fallen angels of Ararat are the sources of all our Biblical theology, interpreting the agenda of Hale’s handlers, by destroying these powers, overthrowing the whole monotheistic paradigm, Andrew Hale, two layers, countries and people, to escape the judgement of God, very Lovecraftian, alien in mindset and morality, Philip K. Dick’s Upon The Dull Earth, profoundly interesting, bloodthirsty angels, Oregon, it ends in a horror, The Odyssey, lambs blood, On Stranger Tides, what the mystery was, the wireless telegraphy, the circles, that’s interesting!, the djinn and how they operate, they pick up what’s around them and use that, very cool, using a crowd, Abdul Alhazred, a Gnostic version of reality, a secret history, visibly torn apart by an invisible force, a subverted reading…, the crowd tears him apart, reading in-, the same feeling, random doubling?, beyond the double agents, Philby’s secret ability to double himself (bodily), the ark and the dark ark, Galactic Pot-Healer, the Glimmung and the Dark (or Black) Glimmung, Joe Fernwright, an evil cathedral, Joe Fernwright’s skeletal double, why this book is long, this is the novel you must read first, a subverted idea, I’m not going to think about this, Jesse thought that maybe one of the Hales we’re seeing is a different one, when he sees himself beaten up by the police, so subtle?, a bridge too far, taking the twinning thing a step beyond, an unreadable mess, a TV adaptation, could you do a TV series adaptation that wasn’t 400 episodes long, a Netflix series, The Sandbaggers, would anyone watch it?, the Publishers Weekly review, should you stock your shelves with this book?, genre bender, the audience for this is science fiction people, what it really is, Guillermo del Toro, Hellboy, The Devil’s Dictum by Fred Himebaugh, an audiboook?, a Fred podcast?, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis, those English thinkers, really good writing, how much Powers knows about stuff, oh good!, it almost hurts the novel, he isn’t killing his darlings quite enough, how the Bedouins sit on the camel’s saddle, its okay to have one character who has read really widely (but when you have three or four people), when Jesse found out about Otto Skorzeny, I will not violate any known historical fact, the NSA, Davinci’s Demons had new world parrots in Italian streets prior to Columbus, why this book holds up as well as it does, a two-edged sword, historically consistent, infodumps, taken to see Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, in the hands of any other author, utterly brilliant, an insight into Theodora’s character, he’s ‘deep state’, silently assuming, a tension-filled (and hilarious) scene, not many authors who are thinking that hard, worth the cost of admission, going through a writing workshop, Fred bows before the greatness of Tim Powers, when writers do the critiquing, he took something that should have been crap and turned it into something, a bit too neat, we get THE goods on what’s going on, not enough room for Jesse(‘s theorizing), the suspicions have to fit the facts, conspiracy thinking but with constant undermining, I don’t know where we stand, room for mystery, God doesn’t actually show up, Hale as a rebirth of Jesus, Stillman head of Christ, blue eyes, his mysterious father, someone compares Hale to T.E. Lawrence, a ghost, ambiguity, making the Soviets seem competent, what are these purges about, wrapping up all the threads, what was going on in Las Vegas in the 1950s, Tim Powers doing Tim Powers, card games, playing for immortality, when Powers does real life research has to pay-off in a book, as for my own books, last time we did an interview, an apparent inconsistency, Earthquake Weather, under in a tarp in the back yard, Three Days To Never, Hide Me Among The Graves, Dave Robeson, The Projecting Project Pulp Podcast (episode 14), not merely a drug-addled mystic, insight into PKD’s personality, the MP3s are all available, San Fransisco, how he phrases things, John Le Carré, it’ll be fun writing set in the 1960s, Philby’s father, appeared to have a private army, I thought “that’s fun”, 1,001 Nights, wouldn’t that be cool, a very self-conscious writer, the plan forms itself out of the materials he discovers, forcing it together doesn’t work, the pages push away from themselves, I have 14 hours left!, 22 hours, the 1940s setting, the meat and potatoes of the book, three books in one, “Ok, Mr Tim Powers…”, dudes!, Ararat loomed over the whole novel, double a normal genre novel, occult writers, friction and stickiness at the same time, magic?, it had to be this long (except for bits), so perfectly marbled, no other author Fred admires more, Roman Catholic, studiously avoid inserting, a fascinating statement, two skeptics, assumed by the novel, distinguished from the rest of society, a lot of the answers, an Egyptian ankh, experience redemption a specifically Catholic way, heretic heathen people, dogma, wiggle room, Raymond Chandler, why everyone is drinking all the time, he experience the Catholic church, you can feel it, if you read it carefully, just fallen angels, you can interpret this the way you want, maybe Fred knows too much about Tim Powers, which side he’s on, to a Catholic audience, not preachy, Satan passes through a pizza parlour on the way to Hell, The Way Down The Hill, not be judged, hoping for a big Elena section, an honest broker, the Spanish Civil War, being in Paris, being a spy, walking down the street, what does this mean, the borderlands of the supernatural, the scenes in Paris are the most enjoyable part of the book, 1941, they didn’t have a snow that year, the weather is influencing the, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, working backwards, a brilliant sense better than so much more than the usual, Jesse likes the a 21st century novel?, he enjoys it too much, a Tim Powers move, a signature move, in syncopation, a magical trick, I wouldn’t wear this belt, the bare feet radiating heat, they stole the ideas from that book, Pirates Of The Caribbean, it would make a really good audio drama, a conspiratorial narrator, flying over the pyramids, a pyramid of sandbags, we don’t doubt it, the Soviet airplane, we’re spending it on other things comrade, so much time researching, when does he sleep?

Declare by Tim Powers

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here is Jayem Wilcox’s illustration for C.L. Moore’s Shambleau as it appeared in Weird Tales, November 1933, its first publication:

Shambleau by C.L. Moore - illustration by Jayem Wilcox from Weird Tales, November 1933

Her first professional sale, selling for $100, it is also her most famous story.

The LibriVox version, read by Roberta J, runs just under 78 minutes |MP3|.

C.L. Moore recorded her own reading of Shambleau, available below in two parts, for a Caedmon record (TC 1667) published in 1980:

Frank Kelly Freas’ did the cover art for the Caedmon recording:

CAEDMON Shambleau by C.L. Moore - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

And on the back of the LP was an abridged “Footnote To Shambleau” taken from a 1975 essay of the same name:

Footnote To Shambleau by C.L. Moore (abridged)

Posted by Jesse Willis

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