The SFFaudio Podcast #097 – READALONG: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick

February 28, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #097 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage about about two short stories: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges |ETEXT| and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick |ETEXT|. The audiobook edition of The Garden Of Forking Paths can be found in the Penguin Audio audiobook Jorge Luis Borges: Collected Fictions.

Talked about on today’s show:
The virtues of short stories, metafiction, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, If magazine, Anthony Boucher, The Garden Of Forking Paths, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, espionage, fantasy, alternate history, WWI, “start the scene as close to the action as possible”, labyrinth, recursion, the Wikipedia entry on The Garden Of Forking Paths, choose your own adventure, parallel worlds, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the Necronomicon, H.P. Lovecraft, “The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pên conceived it.”, why doesn’t Luke review short stories on SFBRP?, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang, Gene Wolfe, The Book Of The New Sun, Labyrinths: Selected Stories And Other Writings by Jorge Louis Borges, A Solar Labyrinth by Gene Wolfe, “dense as in wonderfully deep”, Penguin Audio, Collected Fictions by Jorge Louis Borges, how are Fair Game and The Garden Of Forking Paths connected?, “how you read a story matters to your understanding of a story”, Professor Anthony Douglas, “An immense eye gazed into the room, studying him.”, The Twilight Zone, “The damn thing was looking at me. It was me it was studying.” Douglas’s voice rose hysterically. “How do you think I feel — scrutinized by an eye as big as a piano! My God, if I weren’t so well integrated, I’d be out of my mind!”, Colorado, “we are the face in the sky staring down at this paper”, physics, the observer effect, the wave function collapses, Schrödinger’s cat,

“What is Doug? About the best nuclear physicist in the world. Working on top-secret projects in nuclear fission. Advanced research. The Government is underwriting everything Bryant College is doing because Douglas is here.”

“So?”

“They want him because of his ability. Because he knows things. Because of their size-relationship to this universe, they can subject our lives to as careful a scrutiny as we maintain in the biology labs of — well, of a culture of Sarcina Pulmonum. But that doesn’t mean they’re culturally advanced over us.”

“Of course!” Pete Berg exclaimed. “They want Doug for his knowledge. They want to pirate him off and make use of his mind for their own cultures.”

“Parasites!” Jean gasped. “They must have always depended on us. Don’t you see? Men in the past who have disappeared, spirited off by these creatures.” She shivered. “They probably regard us as some sort of testing ground, where techniques and knowledge are painfully developed — for their benefit.”

big brother, 1984, “money and sex and food”, To Serve Man by Damon Knight, Fredric Brown, Space by James A. Michener, Apollo 18, payoff first – ironic twist next, Dick vs. Borges, is Dick cynical?, mountains and religion, the atmosphere is an ocean of air around the Earth, “Colorado is the shallows in the Earth.”, what does ample mean?, science fiction, “Ts’ui Pên was a brilliant novelist, but he was also a man of letters who doubtless did not consider himself a mere novelist.”, is Dick taking the piss?, high-minded Science Fiction, what is the significance of the title Fair Game?, this is not a podcast for people aren’t going to read the books, “I think Philip K. Dick bases all of his stories on his own life.”, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick, Luke’s novels, is Luke as clever as PKD and Borges?

Dick:

Borges:

Burrage:

Posted by Jesse Willis

TVO: Prisoners Of Gravity: Time Travel (1989)

February 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Online AudioTV Ontario, which is now rivaling CBC for my highest affections, has placed episodes from their wonderful 1990s series Prisoners Of Gravity online. Prisoners Of Gravity was one of the inspirations for SFFaudio. If you like SFFaudio, you’ll love Prisoners Of Gravity. 25 out of 139 episodes are available (so far). Here’s an episode on Time Travel:

In this study of time travel, Commander Rick looks at science fiction books, comics, and movies that explore this popular theme. Guests include authors Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, film director Michael Anderson, and writer P. Larry Hancock; and clips from “Young Einstein,” “Millennium,” “Rude Awakening,” and the television series “Quantum Leap” are featured.

[via Jesse Willis

19 Nocturne Boulevard: An adaptation of Robert Sheckley’s The Leech

February 25, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

19 Nocturne BoulevardJulie Hoverson’s long running and prolific anthology podcast, 19 Nocturne Boulevard, features original and adapted “strange stories.” Since it began back in 2009 I’ve pretty much ignored it completely. This is pretty odd considering that Hoverson’s output rivals that of the mighty Bill Hollweg and that she’s been doing something I’m always boosting (adapting public domain Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror). To be fair though, I had heard a couple of shows, most recently Snafu, but every time I’d listened to a 19 Nocturne show I’d come away with nothing to say. It took a recent email from Hoverson to get me to write something. Hoverson pointed out her new adaptation of Phillips Barbee’s The Leech. That title stirred a vague memory, then piqued my interest greatly, as I recalled that Phillips Barbee was actually the great Robert Sheckley!

When it was first published, in the December 1952 issue of Galaxy magazine, The Leech was credited to “Phillips Barbee” – a one-off pseudonym, presumably it was only used at all because there were two Sheckley stories running in that issue. All subsequent publications have credited The Leech to Sheckley alone.

As one of the first ever Sheckley stories to be published, The Leech is interesting in itself. But as a kind of precursor to The Blob – which itself has an ancestor of sorts in H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space (which Hoverson has also read) it is even more interesting. The trope of a knowledgeable professor character investigating a dangerous object from space would be picked up for the 1953 BBC serial The Quatermass Experiment. In structure, however, The Leech more closely resembles the 1959 Manly Wade Wellman novel Giants From Eternity (look for a review of that soon). And it also bears some small resemblance to John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes there? (and thus the movies The Thing and The Thing From Another World). Even Dean Koontz’s Phantoms |READ OUR REVIEW| has some sort of ancestry or parallel in The Leech. In short this is a kind of a subgenre’s subgenre that I don’t know the name of.

As for Hoverson’s adaptation of The Leech, it’s pretty darned slick, with good acting and sound effects. There’s even a theremin! It’s also fairly faithful to Sheckley’s story going with the humor, using much of the dialogue, the setting and the period. But, as with most audio drama, Hoverson’s script completely disposes with the third person omniscient narration, opting instead for to give the alien a voice – or voices in this case (the Leech seems to be performed as a kind of hive mind). This choice leaves the ending more open to interpretation than does the original text. The Leech is one of the best amateur audio drama adaptations of a public domain story yet! Highly recommended.

19 Nocturne Boulevard - The Leech19 Nocturne Boulevard – The Leech
Adapted by Julie Hoverson; From the story by Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 40 Minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: 19 Nocturne Boulevard
Podcast: February 23, 2011
Classic era science fiction about a very odd visitor from outer space. The Leech was first published in the December 1952 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

Cast:
Professor Michaels … Grant Baciocco
Frank Connors … Bryan Hendrickson
Mrs. Jones … Kimberly Poole
Sheriff Flynn … Glen Hallstrom
General O’Donnell … Chuck Burke
Allenson, scientist … Cary Ayers
Moriarty, physicist … Eleiece Krawiec
Brigadier-General … H. Keith Lyons
Driver … Cary Ayers
Soldier1 … John Carroll
Soldier2 … Lothar Tuppan
Pilot … Mark Olson
The Leech … Suzanne Dunn, Will Watt, James Sedgwick, Julie Hoverson

Music by misterscott99
Editing and Sound: Julie Hoverson
Cover Design: Brett Coulstock

Podcast feed: http://nineteennocturne.libsyn.com/rss

And since we’re talking The Leech, I should also point out there is a new reading, found in the recently completed LibriVox Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 042 collection…

LibriVox - The Leech by Robert SheckleyThe Leech
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 28, 2010
Etext: Gutenberg.org
A visitor should be fed, but this one could eat you out of house and home … literally! From Galaxy Science Fiction December 1952.

Posted by Jesse Willis

X-Minus One: Isaac Asimov’s The C-Chute

February 23, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The C-Chute is one of the few Isaac Asimov stories that features aliens. Set during an interstellar war, it tells the story of a group of humans that are captured and imprisoned by an alien species. Most of the action of the tale comes in the playing out the group’s psychology. They all have differing backgrounds, experiences and motivations. – It kind of sounds like Cube right? – The story was originally submitted under the title “Greater Love.” But, as it was altered to The C-Chute as a part of several modifcations demanded by Galaxy Magazine editor, H.L. Gold. Asimov, who didn’t like the changes, was inspired to write another short story (The Monkey’s Finger) in which a fantasy writer, and his editor, get into a similar dispute.

Here’s the Galaxy magazine teaser for The C-Chute:

“Captured by an unthinkably alien race, the terrestrial spachsip formed a desperate human microcosm. Somebody had to be a hero … but who was it to be … and why?”

X-Minus OneX-Minus One – The C-Chute
Based on the short story by Isaac Asimov; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 29 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC
Broadcast: February 8, 1956
Provider: Archive.org
During Earth’s first interstellar war, a civilian transport traveling to Earth is captured by a spaceship piloted by the Kloros, a chlorine-breathing race of intelligent beings. They place two of their own on board the humans’ spaceship. With the human passengers sequestered as prisoners of war, the Kloros head to an unknown destination. The human passengers fall into argument and dispute, some coming to blows, with contradicting feelings on what should be done. Opinions range from a violent counteroffensive to a passive acceptance of their situation. Only Mullen, a shy, mild-mannered, short bookkeeper, is willing to make an attempt to take back control of the ship, which he does by exiting via the C-Chute which is normally used for launching corpses for burial in space.Based on the story by Isaac Asimov, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1951

Here’s the art from the original Galaxy Magazine publication in the October 1951 issue:

The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - Cover from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine
The C-Chute by Isaac Asimov - from the October 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine

[via Beware ,There’s A Crosseyed Cyclops In My Basement!!! and the Thrilling Wonder Stories blogs]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #096

February 21, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #096 – Scott and Jesse talk about recently arrived audiobooks as well as Y: The Last Man, James Tiptree Jr., Isaac Asimov, what author estates want and more!

Talked about on today’s show:
Kage Baker, Subterranean Press, Blackstone Audio, In The Garden Of Iden by Kage Baker, Captive Market by Philip K. Dick, Janan Raouf, Time For The Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, Barret Whitener, telepathy, Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Malcolm Hillgartner, Heinlein’s first and last novel, Spider Robinson, Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Macmillan Audio, Death Cloud: Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins by Andrew Lane, Dan Wyman, “endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate” = who cares, Poul Anderson on Sherlock Holmes, Laird of Muck, disabled protagonists, The Lighthouse Land by Adrian McKinty, The Lighthouse War, MG (middle grade) vs. YA, Gerard Doyle, Christopher Paolini, The Gods Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Dufris, viscous plant men, does Deja Thoris lay eggs?, Dynamite Entertainment‘s Warlord Of Mars, Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg, Majipoor Chronicles, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Stonefather by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Emily Janice Card, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Lost Gate, The Last Airbender, R.L. Stine, Timescape by, Darkside by Tom Becker |READ OUR REVIEW|, Bolinda Audio, London, Neil Gaiman-esque, The Graveyard Book, Venus by Ben Bova |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fantastic Audio, Jupiter, Nova Science Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Europa, Ganymede, A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, Brilliance Audio, The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, dragons, elves, Odalisque by Neal Stephenson, Alan Moore loves allusions, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Honor Harrington, Honor Among Enemies by David Weber, manticore, pirates!, what’s up with all the mix-and-match creatures in the Middle East?, On Blazing Wings by L. Ron Hubbard, mercenaries, SFsite.com often reviews the L. Ron Hubbard Stories From The Golden Age, the paperbooks problem, The Unremembered by Peter Orullian, Anne Perry, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, 8th century, Baghdad, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, the Fantasy Book Critic blog review, unpronounceable character names, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick was inspired by the Odyssey, Beyond Lies The Wub, Strange Eden, Scott didn’t like Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, Gulliver’s Travels, the problem of transitory pop-culture references, The Tyrrany Of Talented Readers, Scalped, Bertrand Russell, Pride Of Baghdad, anthropomorphic fiction, James Tiptree Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Masters Of Horror: The Screwfly Solution, Dove Audio, Isaac Asimov, author estates, Escape Pod #100, Nightfall, Tantor Media, Robots Of Dawn, Audible.com has plenty of Arthur C. Clarke, Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steve Barnes, mystery, Science Fiction, On Stranger Tides, Brain Wave, PaperbackSwap, Del Rey art in the ’70s and ’80s was awesome, Scott’s Picasa gallery of book covers, Tom Weiner, Jesse has a terrible memory, our Oath Of Fealty readalong, the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: Fredric Brown’s Eternal Arena

February 20, 2011 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

For nearly a year I’ve been studying the extensive influence of Fredric Brown’s 1944 short story, Arena. It took a recent article, on roughly the same topic, over on the excellent bare•bones e-zine blog, to prompt me to actually finish writing up this post – which is essentially a collection of inspired by and/or similar stories. That other post, by Jack Seabrook, mostly covers the Outer Limits‘ response to Arena – which is something that I’ve only briefly mentioned. Seabrook’s article and the thoughtful comments it’s spawned are well worth looking at |HERE|. One of the comments there also points out the connection to Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game (but that’s another post altogether). My post on Arena begins here:

Arena (noun) – [Latin harēna, arēna, sand, a sand-strewn place of combat in an amphitheater, perhaps of Etruscan origin.] -1. An enclosed area, often outdoor, for the presentation of spectacular events -2. The part of a Roman amphitheater that was covered with sand to absorb the blood spilled by the combatants.

The SFFaudio Podcast #051 had a brief primer, by Professor Eric S. Rabkin, on Fredric Brown‘s spectacular short story Arena. Rabkin pointed out the curious description of the alien, and the year in which the story was first published (1944). The story being a fascinating metaphor for the Pacific War. The description of the alien, a “red sphere with several dozen fully retractable thin tentacles” is nicely comparable it with the Imperial Japanese battle ensign…

War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army:

War flag of the Imperial Japanese Army

Now if we keep looking for symbols, we can certainly find them. Take the blue sand of the arena itself. If Carson represents the USA, and the alien represents Japan, would the pervasive blue sand not therefore be representative of the Pacific Ocean? Of course it would!

Next, check out the original story, available in an unabridged audiobook version created by Rick Jackson (aka The Time Traveler) for The Time Traveler Show podcast…

The Time Traveler - Arena by Fredric BrownArena
By Fredric Brown; Read by William Spurling
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: The Time Traveler Show
Podcast: July 23rd, 2006
The mysterious Outsiders have skirmished with Earth’s space colonies and starships. Their vessels are found to be faster and more maneuverable, but less well armed. Survivors of these encounters are able to provide little other information about the enemy. Fearing the worst, Earth builds a war fleet. Sure enough, scouts report a large armada approaching the solar system. Earth’s defenders go to meet them. All indications are that the two fleets are evenly matched. First published in the June 1944 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine.

Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams
Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams
Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams
Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams
Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams
Fredric Brown's Arena - illustrated by Williams

In the comics department, there was a 1976 Marvel Comics magazine adaptation in Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction. Of it, Pete Doree (Of The Bronze Age Of Blogs) sez:

Arena is one of my all-time favourite one-off comic stories, from Roy Thomas’ short-lived Worlds Unknown. Rascally Roy obviously liked it as much as me, as he reprinted it in the last issue of his b/w follow up Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction. What I like about it is that it’s storytelling pared right down to the bone: One man. One monster. Winner takes all. It’s that simple, and that elegant. The set up is so primal that you’re practically dealing in archetypes. Plus you get the amazing pairing of John Buscema & Dick Giordano on art. It was adapted from a story by Frederic Brown, a great old school sci-fi writer.”

Marvel Comics - Worlds Unknown - Issue 4 - Arena by Fredric Brown

And, check out this editorial from Marvel Comics issue 4 of Unknown Worlds:

Worlds Unknown (#4) Editorial - Science Fiction And Me by Gerry Conway

Keeping with the art theme, there’s Boris Vallejo’s depiction from the March 1977 Starlog Magazine printing of Arena (more on that |HERE|):

Starlog Magazine - March 1977- Arena - Illustration by Boris Vallejo

TV, movies and other SF authors also seem to have taken inspiration or paralleled Fredric Brown’s Arena too:

Star Trek: Arena:

Outer Limits: Fun And Games:

The one man against one man theme, as developed in Arena, departed the SF genre entirely with the 1968 film Hell In The Pacific. The movie stars Lee Marvin and Tishiro Mifune as shot down American and Japanese fighter pilots who make WWII more personal.

The meme sunk to its lowest low with the frighteningly awful (and least faithful) variation in “The Rules Of Luton” episode of Space 1999.

Space: 1999 - The Rules Of Luton

The meme transmogrified back into a man vs. alien confrontation for Barry B. Longyear’s 1979 novella Enemy Mine. Willis Davidge, a human fighter pilot, is stranded along with Jeriba Shigan, a Drac, on a hostile alien planet foreign to them both.

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine - September 1979

TOR DOUBLE #6 - Enemy Mine by Barry B. Longyear

The movie version of Enemy Mine, 1985, magnified the allegory with a theme of racial brotherhood.

In 1989, Star Trek: The Next Generation first adopted the idea for an episode entitled “The Enemy“.

Another variation, in 1991, in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called “Darmok” nearly eliminates the physical conflict, replacing it with an intellectual puzzle on the difficulties of communication.

Star Trek: Enterprise, in an attempt to recycle every previous Star Trek series plot, did their own take with the 2003 episode entitled Dawn:

Update:

David Schleinkofer illustrated the Reader’s Digest Edition of Arena in the early 1980s:

Arena as illustrated by David Schleinkofer for Reader's Digest

Posted by Jesse Willis

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