Talked about on today’s show:
1970,, many people have a problem with this book, issues, classic big dumb object, the book hasn’t changed, oh bad, with live in very sensitive times, political correctness, totally unacceptable jokes, ‘Teela was one of the few women crying doesn’t make ugly’, “so I don’t rape Nessus”, joking and laughing, regaining confidence, is Teela a damsel in distress?, a hole in the Ringworld, luck, she isn’t saved by a man, a trope subverted, Candide, blind faith, rising up, worldbuilding, jaded spacer, quasi-murderous kzin, cowardly Nessus, N-Space, an author plot device, not so cool, Prill, Ascension, Jesse begins apologizing for Larry Niven’s, breaking Paul’s bubble with a fan favourite: Firefly, a lot of sex, defined as a concubine, 40 people on the ship, overly sensitizes, picks at people’s mind, every woman has a tasp within her if she knows how to use it, where are the vampires and ghouls, The Ringworld Engineers, he’s a wirehead, drugs, retesting, a stimulating environment, puppeteer is puppeteer, where’s the outrage over the puppeteer immorality, looking at the book the wrong way, if that’s your takeaway from that scene, let it go, non-sentience and the non-sentient females, Louis Wu’s freezer family, sentient is an interesting world, Philosophical zombies, Westworld!, Ex Machina, man creator creating a woman for sex, addressing a real thing, hard facts that people don’t like to think or talk about, differences between the genders, not being shy, gender switch Louis and Teela’s genders, non-reproductive sex, the intersection between reproduction and sex and gender, a biological fact, why do we go to the puppeteer world, motivated by breeding licenses, he has a beautiful woman’s voice(s), horror acts, I’m going to murder you, when you live in a society that has solved all the gender problems…, as a plot device, the whole book is “spoiled” on the cover and the back, it’s very interesting and let’s explore, in order to have a reason there have to be a series of coincidences, a treatise on fate and destiny, exploring through the story, she just needs to meet a man?, do you have any free will, the puppet strings of fate, the god gambit, she’s going to be alive for 20,000 years, Teela becomes a “protector”, retconing, Protector by Larry Niven, a 1 to 1 scale map of the Earth, Mars, after the Halo generation, trouble picturing it, a true fact, bigger than our imagination, the orbit of the Earth around the sun, did the Lying Bastard make the Fist Of God, the comet defense system, the shadow square wires, Earth has natural mechanisms for keeping itself in balance, there’s no maintenance crew for the Ringworld, laser taboo, Ringworld is so inconceivably big and the whole is not very big in comparison, plug the hole, the center cannot hold, things fall apart, entropy, the sunflower problem, ecology, the ring foundation material being exposed, no real geological activity, preventing the seas from being silted, all the systems that are needed to be maintained, good job Earth!, the Aral Sea, the Earth society, the homogenization of the world, Beirut looks like Budapest, Munich resembles Cairo, transfer booths and stepping discs vs. Skype, a global culture, people in other countries can be in the same room, the lucky ones, every number in South America, Louis is a big mix, Larry Niven is hilarious, Louis Wu and his Motley Crew, French and Chinese, a chrome yellow mandarin, so racist?, just a fashion, Teela was blue, globalism happens, google translate, the Larry Niven’s flashcrowd stories, not the Organlegger stories, not Known Space, flash zombie mobs, revolutions, 2000+ veterans heading to Standing Rock, North Dakota, not through the mainstream media, a slow motion flash mob, thinking about technology the way Larry Niven does, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, how are fly-cycles powered?, concepts or technologies from Ringworld, Neutron Star, Beowulf Shaeffer, my greatest hits of technology ideas, the Ansible (an anagram for Lesbian), Orson Scott Card, General Products Hull, anti-matter, Slaver stasis field, World Of Ptavvs, selecting for luck, a stupid (smart) idea, we don’t have a complete picture of reality, they’re using a different theory, manipulating probabilities, the Scarlet Witch and Gambit, there is no actual book from god, running a crazy (interesting) experiment with an infinite amount of puppeteers, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, sex solving all problems, Babylon 5, bonobo references, sexing your ways out of problems, obsessed by sex, anyone alive has someone in their family interested in sex, a science fan, something to think about, when did Isaac Asimov become interested in sex?, a good thing, the problems with it are so negligible, the fans of Ringworld are insanely interested in it, browbeaten into writing the sequels, a natural school learned from, booster-spice is straight out of Dune, ragweed, the Chaosium Ringworld RPG, Teela brown is well educated, bundled in with the luck, does having experience pain help with empathy?, the Ringworld foundation material, the way Douglas Adams explains how big space is doesn’t give you the same sense, this thing is really, really big, a barbarian swordsperson on a quest, he’s Don Quixote and she’s Sancho Panza, super-funny, “he stopped having sex with me when he found out about you”, almost every culture has done that in most of human history, a collapsed civilization, he knows magic, people barter with people, he’s honourable, stupid honour, she’d be ruining him, keep him the noble idiot that he is, wandering the Ringworld forever, that’s why there is a game about this world, Stellaris, the puppeteer world, leaf-eaters for lunch, “my love”, sexism is based on the distinguishment between male and female, races aren’t real, genders are real, French-ness, epicanthic folds, the end of racism, we all speak Interworld, there goes Firefly again, Joss Whedon, this is why you should pillory Niven: Wu travels the wrong direction for his birthday, “endlessly teased”, the Earth spinning the wrong direction, Niven has tapped into something amazing with Ringworld, a TV adaptation, how to depict the Ringworld on screen, mostly conversations about technical problems and possible solutions, that’s so interesting, the cloud over the city, it looks like a cloud?, that variable sword, Jesse does the voices, Louis the mediator, a xenophile, cool!, real racism, that’s racist!, Speaker’s viewpoint, Nessus’s character is brilliant, [“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.”], Meskalanites as Yankee traders, the same story (in structure), what antlers are for, they’re cowards (cautious), they always attacked before they were ready, masterful foreign policy, sock-puppets, it’s both, the Outsiders, slave and food out of everybody, 350 pages, The Wizard Of Oz plot, Maissa’s theory: Teela is Dorothy, the Puppeteer is the Cowardly Lion, Sunflowers instead of Poppies, Louis is Dorothy, Teela as the Tin-Man, Prill as the Wizard, a road trip, it kind of looks like The Wizard Of Oz, Speaker as Tony the Tiger, anachronisms, when you make a kizinti laugh that’s going to be your last joke, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Starfleet Battles, drone warfare, an Enterprise made out of General Products hulls, a BDO, a BDO capper, invented and solved in one book, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, Jesse engineer’s a dyson’s sphere without artificial gravity (using Ringworld tech), The Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees, low-tech characters lack a scientific education, Rammer is not known space story, a horrible dystopia, the corpsicles, sticking it to the man, A World Out Of Time, always weird sexual things, totally forgivable, setting Samuel DeLany aside, biological differences in the genders create biological imperatives, women seem to like to take care of babies that come out of their bodies, why do you think that is?, snakes don’t take care of their babies, a biological reason, snakelets take care of themselves, men seem to find women scarce and women seem to find men plentiful, these are facts, that’s what people do, recreation and reproduction, birth control technology has fundamentally changed human relations, walking around in bags, repressed technology, Jesse is going to get into trouble, protecting the make libido, horror stories, a culture of repression, from a biological stance, Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, changelings, Rapunzel, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, this totally a sex story, women always know who their children are and men don’t, the motivation behind horrible, men spread genetic material without cost but for women it is highly costly, the cuckoo, feeding baby birds is physically high cost, divorce in the age of social safety net, charged words, in defense of poor Larry Niven, sexist, colouring the re-reading, trapped in the police jail, flying the Improbable, put a ring around it, a fundamental disregard for women, a lessering of women, little low affect Hal Clements, he’s a man, books written by women, good books, an exercise in making characters, being unable to fully model, a callousness, plot movers to opposed to people, Prill is at a disadvantage, if you’ve been worshiped for a long time, non-violation of the Prime Directive, violated many times, Speaker as a male god, it doesn’t count on Ringworld, very worldist!, vampires and hominids, the lack of diversity, human speciation on the Ringworld in The Ringworld Engineers, bribed with Boston lettuce, less diamond so chaff, mining metaphors, one-and-done-it.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Dragonbone Chair (Memory, Sorrow, & Thorn #1)
By Tad Williams; Narrated by Andrew Wincott
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 33 hours, 19 minutes
Themes: / fantasy / sorcery /
A war fueled by the dark powers of sorcery is about to engulf the peaceful land of Osten Ard – for Prester John, the High King, slayer of the dread dragon Shurakai, lies dying. And with his death, an ancient evil will at last be unleashed, as the Storm King, undead ruler of the elvishlike Siti, seeks to regain his lost realm through a pact with one of human royal blood. Then, driven by spell-inspired jealousy and hate, prince will fight prince, while around them the very land begins to die.
Only a small scattered group, the League of the Scroll, recognizes the true danger awaiting Osten Ard. And to Simon – a castle scullion unknowingly apprenticed to a member of this League – will go the task of spearheading the quest for the solution to a riddle of long-lost swords of power…and a quest that will see him fleeing and facing enemies straight out of a legend maker’s worst nightmares!
This is the first book in a trilogy from Tad Williams. The story was originally published in the late 1980’s, and it’s good to finally have it available in audio. The audio is likely coming in advance of a new trilogy from Williams, a sequel to the Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy that this book is the first in.
The book is set in Williams’ world of Osten Ard, and from what I can tell (based on the names and words used in the book), Osten Ard is a Nordic country/world. This first book, The Dragonbone Chair, is a sort of coming of age tale for main character Simon, as he struggles to survive in a world that’s rapidly changing.
The main story arc is familiar to those who read a lot of fantasy, or those familiar with Joseph Campbell’s writings on mythology. In the first part of the book, the reader (listener, in my case) is introduced to the world of Osten Ard, specifically Hayholt Castle, where Simon is born and raised. His father is mysterious and his mother died in childbirth, Simon works as part of the serving staff in the castle under King John Presbyter. As a teenager, Simon begins to take instruction from the wizard Morganes, and through this lens the reader learns a lot of the history of the world.
When the king dies, though, and his eldest son Elias takes over ruling the land, the world seems to turn. There is a drought and plague, and the roads no longer seem safe. Some blame this on Elias’ advisor, the red priest Pyrates. Elias’ brother, Josua, is one of those, and escapes the Hayholt to head north to gather troops to take on Josua. Morganes and Simon help Josua escape, and Morganes dies in punishment from Elias, allowing Simon to escape into the world to try to join Josua. Thus begins Simon’s adventure and growth into a man as he struggles to survive in a very difficult time in the world of Osten Ard.
On his travels, he meets a troll, Binabik, and accidentally saves a “Sithi,” one of the old race from the north of Osten Ard. Binabik becomes his traveling companion and they make their way to Josua. When they arrive, an old priest reveals that the terrors being wrought upon the world are the work of the spirt of Ineleuki, a terrible magician from 500 years prior. The northerners fear that the end of the world is near if they cannot stop this black magic. Here, the reader learns about three swords that, united, may be able to turn the tide. One sword, Sorrow, is in Elias’ posession. Another, Minneyar (Memory?), is lost, and the third, Thorn, is believed to be even farther north in the land of what remains of the Sithi and the trolls (two different races). Simon begins a second quest, along with Binabik and some men from Josua’s court, to find this third sword, while evil remains in the world and Elias mounts an attack on Josua.
The story, while familiar, is engrossing. Having read some of Williams’ other works, I’ve found that there are times that they can feel a little plodding, a little drawn out. The Dragonbone Chair never felt this way. Scenes move swiftly and there is always action. Fighting scenes kept me on the edge of my seat and nervous for what would happen next. I also enjoyed looking for parallels in this work to others, such as the tales of King Arthur, as well as trying to piece together what would be next in store for the heroes, just as they were piecing it together.
Unfortunately, the combination of the narrator’s accent and the “odd” names/places in the book made it difficult to understand at times, while listening. Sometimes, too, the narrator at times overdid the accent and/or spoke quietly (because the character was speaking quietly). I was glad that I had the physical book (a copy I’d picked up a few years ago in a book exchange) to refer to and keep track of what was being said. I think that when I listen to the next book in the series, I’ll purchase the ebook to follow along, as needed. I think Wincott did a great job with the narration, even if it was difficult to understand at times. His voice reminds me of some of the British narrators who sound a little bit like someone’s grandfather, reading a story aloud.
Despite the difficult place and character names, and even if some of the fantasy arc was “typical,” I really enjoyed this story, this introduction to the weird world of Osten Ard. I can’t wait for the next book to be released in audio.
Posted by terpkristin.kristin
Reading, Short And Deep #043
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Tree was first published in The Tryout, October 1921.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
By Stephen King; Narrated by Stephen King, Matthew Broderick, Michael C. Hall, Paul Giamatti, Will Patton, Norbert Leo Butz, Lois Smith, Dylan Baker
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: 5 July 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 22 hours, 37 minutes
Themes: / short stories / horror /
The master at his scarifying best! From heart-pounding terror to the eeriest of whimsy – tales from the outer limits of one of the greatest imaginations of our time!
In “The Mist”, a supermarket becomes the last bastion of humanity as a peril beyond dimension invades the earth.
Touch “The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands”, and say your prayers.
There are some things in attics that are better left alone – things like “The Monkey”.
The most sublime woman driver on earth offers a man “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut” to paradise.
A boy’s sanity is pushed to the edge when he’s left alone with the odious corpse of “Gramma”.
If you were stunned by Gremlins, the Fornits of “The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet” will knock your socks off.
Trucks that punish and beautiful teen demons who seduce a young man to massacre; curses whose malevolence grows through the years; obscene presences and angels of grace – here, indeed, is a night-blooming bouquet of chills and thrills.
I’m not generally a fan of short stories, but I am a big fan of Stephen King. I’ve read two collections by him prior to this one: Hearts in Atlantis and Different Seasons. I thought both of them were stronger collections. The main difference is those contain fewer, but longer stories I think.
This one has been on my radar for a long time, in particular because of The Mist, which is the first (and longest) story. It’s actually a Novella, where the rest are short stories. It’s supposed to have “major” ties to his Dark Tower series, and one of the few in that category I haven’t read already. Personally I found it being a “major” connection to be a stretch, especially compared with most of the others. So if like me, you’re wanting to read all the associated works, I personally think you can skip this one without much issue.
There are 3 stories worth calling out for this collection of 22 (although calling 2 of them stories is overly generous). The best story was probably Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut. I thought it was fantastic. I also really enjoyed The Monkey and Gramma.
Paranoid: A Chant and For Owen round out the bottom. I guess if you have little fragments of writing you think are interesting, sticking them in such a large collection is the best way to publish them, but I think the collection would have been stronger without them personally.
As to the rest you can consult my list of ratings below.
This book has 13 unique narrators, some of them reading several stories. Will Patton, Frances Sternhagen, Paul Giamatti, and Norbert Leo Butz were the best narrators of the group. None of the narrators were bad, but most of them were unmemorable. You can see my full ratings below for each performance.
Story – Story Rating – Narrator – Narrator Rating
The Mist – 3 – Will Patton- 4.5
Here There Be Tygers – 2.5 – Kyle Beltran – 3
The Monkey – 4.5 – Matthew Broderick – 3
Cain Rose Up – 1.5 – Kyle Beltran – 3
Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut – 4.5 – Dana Ivey – 3.5
The Jaunt – 3 – Robert Petkoff – 3
The Wedding Gig – 2.5 – Paul Giamatti – 4
Paranoid: A Chant – 1 – Will Patton – 3
The Raft – 3 – Stephen King – 3
Word Processor of the Gods – 3.5 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
The Man Who Would Not Shake Hands – 2 – Paul Giamatti – 4
Beachworld – 2.5 – Michael C. Hall – 3
The Reaper’s Image – 2 – David Morse – 3
Nona – 3 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
For Owen – 1.5 – David Morse – 3
Survivor Type – 2.5 – Norbert Leo Butz – 3.5
Uncle Otto’s Truck – 3 – David Morse – 3
Morning Deliveries (Milkman #1) – 3 – Dylan Baker – 3
Big Wheels: A Tale of The Laundry Game (Milkman #2) – 3 – Dylan Baker – 3
Gramma – 4 – Frances Sternhagen – 4.5
The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet – 3.5 – Michael C. Hall – 3
The Reach – 2.5 – Lois Smith – 3
Review by Rob Zak.
Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding April-July 1953, 1954, interviews, an expected book, the flyers, up the slope, how Larry Niven borrowed some of this, Meskalanite co-travelers, nothing this heavy, a hard book to read?, stopping to do math, that’s the game, “the game”, an intellectual exercise, the essay: Whilygig World, starting with the world, we’re in a much more character driven era of Science Fiction, a story will emerge, hard SF is out of fashion, Analog is the torchbearer for hard SF, the field has shifted, the post-Campbell era, Prisoners Of Gravity, a dying Frankenstein, an interview with Hal Clement, Benford and such, a TVO thing, Teddog, somewhere in Toronto, thanks Prisoners Of Gravity, much more like a YouTube show than anything on television at that time, a pretty clever trick, Commander Rick, Rick Green, Enrico Gruen, pirate broadcasts, why aliens are in humanoid form, Daniel Richler, the opposite and appropriate angle, a zany talking head show, trying to change the world through Science Fiction, that’s Kim Stanley Robinson, hey that’s Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, escaping the mundane reality of this show, Rick is the humans looking down on the Earth, the people who don’t understand the shape of their world properly, an elongated sphere, the conquistadors landing on the shore, first contact stories, juiced up in Astounding, what about the “prime directive”?, a 2000-year crash course in science, a pirate!, just to get to this probe, uplift, L. Sprague de Camp’s stories set on Krishna, how to overcome problems, pirates of the galaxy!, our worlds are too hot for them, this is the kind of book you’re reading, a creative commons license before there was such a thing, methane seas, Titan’s methane seas, Saturn, TV Tropes, the first novel set on a world outside the solar system that actually is a planet, exoplanets, first exoplanet discovered during WWII, an exercise in answering that question, rafts instead of one big keel, “worldbuilding”, a great novel with a crappy story, basic, heavy handed, damn man, hat’s off, afraid of things above your head, biology, why intelligence would develop, a minimal ecosystem, physics vignettes, so much against what people are reading science fiction for now, The Fifth Season, wouldn’t it be cool if, forcing it in the other way, showing all the implications, the rules, as early as possible, “I always feel cheated when…”, we get a false picture of Science Fiction because of Astounding, the conventions, the premiere magazing, Horace Gold’s Galaxy, the gold standard, game fiction, Sherlock Holmes fiction, you’re a bad writer if you cheat the reader, almost nobody plays this game, so sexist and racist, even when he does a fantasy novel it’s hard, The Fifth Season, a cost to using a magic system, I’m starting with this crazy premise, Barlenon vs. Dondragmir, not one girl in the book!, what about your sex lives?, a million sailors frozen at the bottom of the sea, at an extreme of hard SF, the window of science fiction, shifted in other ways, a New England Yankee trader, building trade routes, a relatable mindset, Lackland, amazingly human, Star Trek aliens, he made them Hal Clements, looking at the Larry Niven and Hal Clement affect, emotionally oblate, the outer edges, the peak of characterization: “I couldn’t quite nip it.”, quick-witted students, Cortez, the natives should have a lot of their own shit going on, wrapped up in their own problems, a smooth and peaceful first contact, in real life when first contact happens bad things usually happen, it depends on who is coming, the gravity of this mission, the cost, in Chapter 19, the character names, in the pre-negotiations, Tolkien does the same thing (but with language), a richer tapestry, that’s not what this is for, the sequel: Starlight, all the little touches, the Bree is steering itself, how glaciers work, lubrication, steering glaciers, friction, when friction is an important part of a book, Douglas Adams’ game vs. the rules of chess, a good analogy, PhDs, genius, fostering reading activity, comicon, the importance of having ideas at the forefront, racism, intelligence, first contact, Asimov, sitting around talking about his story with Isaac Asimov, “Pancake In The Sky” and “Gravy Planet”, a pleasant evening spent talking materials science, an acquired taste, the great game, prime directives, not all historical first contacts, first contact between the Americans and the Japanese (1792), angry sticks, pre-admiral Perry, genocide in Central and South America, overturning governments, a more modest foreign policy, the history of British Columbia, super-peaceful, residential schools, land theft, first contact need not be terrible, the rock rollers, the spear throwers, never pay tolls again, a benevolent scientific dictator, Star Trek as a medicine for American imperialism, sharing knowledge, Jerry Pournelle’s Empire Of Man series, a daisy chain of influence, Needle, a peaceful alien lifeform that can live inside a human body, Jinx (Larry Niven), World Of Pattavs, Neutron Star, a game of gravity, General Products Hull #1, Beowulf Shaeffer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, spagettification, Inconstant Moon, a love story about the moon, the reflected light of a nova (or a massive solar flare), it’s only the apocalypse, I’ll lasso the moon for you, an Adam and Eve sort of thing, What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?, Man Of Steel, Woman Of Kleenex, Kryptonian refugees, Superdog
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #042
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
The Oval Portrait was first published as Life In Death in Graham’s Magazine, April 1842.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson