The SFFaudio Podcast #222 – READALONG: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

July 22, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #222 – Jesse, Jenny, Paul Weimer and Bryan Alexander discuss Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Talked about on today’s show:
The audiobook, Recorded Books, the appendix, The Lord Of The Rings, the feeling in your right hand, a dream-like book, Room 101, a disjointing of time, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Signet Classic, already a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League at 12, a 1971 sex drive, memory, Winston Smith’s obsession with the past, the three traitors, the Soviet Union as applied to Britain, show trials, it is so effective, The Running Man is a prole version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, “WHITMAN, PRICE, AND HADDAD!!! You remember them! There they are now, BASKING under the Maui sun.”, down the memory hole, the brutality of the movies and the applause of the audience, the crushing of weakness, the terrible children, the 1954 BBC TV version starring Peter Cushing, Winston’s own memories of his childhood, did Winston kill his sister, his bowels turn to water when he see a rat, the return of the mother, a bag of decay, the 1984 version of 1984, John Hurt looks like he was born to play Winston Smith, is it Science Fiction?, dystopia, does this feel like Science Fiction?, Social Science Fiction, If This Goes On… by Robert A. Heinlein, Animal Farm, Goldstein’s Book, the re-writing of history, collapsing the vocab, The Languages Of Pao by Jack Vance, Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, The Embedding by Ian Watson, Isaac Asimov’s review of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell imagines no new vices, WWIII, in regular SF we get used to a lack of motifs, the coral, the memories, the place with no darkness, everything is recycled in a dream and people merge, in dream logic 2+2 can equal 5, reduction of the world and the self, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, soma, The Hunger Games, Wool by Hugh Howey, cleaning day, grease, transformed language, a crudboard box, euphony, a greasy world, a comparison to We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, We The Living by Ayn Rand, Harcourt Brace, Politics And The English Language by George Orwell, V For Vendetta, Norsefire vs. IngSoc, a circuitous publishing history, crudpaper, prole dialect, part dialect, New Speak, military language, Generation Kill, military language is bureaucratic language, Dune by Frank Herbert, Battle Language, private language, Brazil, the thirteen’s hour, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, victory means shit, Airstrip One, speakwrite, Star Wars, careful worlding, a masterwork, a transformation and an inoculation, watch 1984 on your phone while the NSA watches you watch it, North Korea, “without getting to political”, 2600‘s editor is Emmanuel Goldstein, the traitor Snowden, that’s what this book is, it’s political, The Lives Of Others, hyper-competent, the bedroom scene, “We are the dead.”, how did the picture break off the wall, dream-logic, Jesse knows when he’s dreaming, if you dream a book you must generate the text, dreaming of books that don’t exist, a great sequel to Ringworld?, The Sandman, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”, O’Brien, Martin, the worst thing is you can’t control what you say when your sleeping, uncanny valley,

Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure IngSoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was
his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Polar Express, the book within the book, high end books, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, is London the capital of Oceania?, the value of the book, Stephen Fry’s character, a book that tells you only things you already knew, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, the possibilities of other books, supercharged moments in movies, Twelve Monkeys, Dark City, Book Of Dreams, utopias within dystopias, reading in comfort and safety, the golden place, Julia is a pornosec writer, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Processed Word by John Varley, Russian humor, is there really a war?, power is the power to change reality, Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, doublethinking it, the proles seem to be happier, feeling contempt, lottery tickets depress Jesse, “renting the dream”, the proles are obsessed by lotteries, who is the newspaper for?, the chocolate ration, Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History Of The Universe, how stable is Oceania?, guys and Guy, how stable is North Korea?, Christopher Hitchens, there’s no hope in 1984, the subversion mechanism has been subverted, changing human behavior, Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick, genocide, racial purity, are they bombing themselves?, where does Julia get all her treats?, utopia is a nice cup of coffee, The Principle Of Hope by Ernst Bloch, what’s missing from your life comrade?, is Julia playing a role?, she’s the catalyst for everything, misogyny vs. misanthropy, Nietzsche’s master morality slave morality, political excitement is transformed into sexual excitement, ‘I have a real body it occupies space (no you don’t you’re a fictional character)’, Julia’s punk aesthetic, I love you., she’s the dream girl, the romantic couple that brings down the bad order, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Pacific Rim, The Matrix, Equilibrium, Mephistopheles, Mustapha Mond, Jesse thought she was in on it, the prole lady out the window, nature, ragged leafless shrubs, nature has been killed, the Byzantine Empire, the Catholic Church, cult of personality vs. an idoru Big Brother, Eurythmics, we’re nostalgic for the Cold War, the now iconic ironic 1984 Apple commercial, dems repubs NSA, has Britain been secretly controlling the world using America?, George Bernard Shaw, society and politics, SF about the Vietnam War, petition for and against the war, Judith Merril, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, China.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of On the Make by John MacDonald

July 21, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

On the Make by John D. MacDonaldOn the Make
By John D. MacDonald; Performed by Robert Armin
Publisher: Gutter Books on Audible.com
Published: 31 May 2013
[UNABRIDGED]  – 5 hours, 18 minute

Themes: / hard-boiled / noir / crime / mystery /

Publisher summary:

Tal Howard, a disillusioned Korean War vet, breaks away from his old life, looking for answers and convinced he’s going to find them in the small town of Hillston. What’s in Hillston? Sixty grand in embezzled funds that Howard learned about from a dying friend in a POW camp. He just needs to find out where the money is hidden and contend with another former POW who has come looking for it, Earl Fitzmartin–a psychopath they were all terrified of in the camp. Howard soon learns that the secret to the money’s location lies in the dead man’s past, which must be discovered through the women he knew, such as the respectable Ruth Stamm and the sultry and dangerous Toni Rassele.

A reissue of John D. MacDonald’s 1955 standalone novel On The Make was among the first books to be released from independent publisher Gutter Books after evolving from a 7 issue run of the amazing Out of the Gutter short fiction journal which debuted in 2008. Gutter books released to date have included other classic crime reprints, new original crime novels from authors such as Joe McKinney, the anthology Atomic Noir edited by Duane Swierczynski with Lou Boxer, and even a reprint of Gold Medal’s 1950 UFO inquiry The Flying Saucers are Real by former Marine Corps naval aviator Donald Keyhoe. Now On The Make has launched as the first of what hopes to be many titles to be brought to the audiobook format by Gutter Books.

The reissue includes an introductory essay “The Two Sides of John D.” by Martin L. Kohler and a concluding essay by Gutter Book’s own Matthew Louis, both which I appreciate being included in the both the new print edition as well as the audiobook. I do have one slight issue with the introductory essay in that although On the Make was in fact the author’s intended title for the novel, the publishers went with a different title, one that in my opinion serves as a major plot spoiler consider a specific main character in the novel. Therefore my own recommendation would be to save both essays for enjoyment later after listening to the story first. That being said, my understanding is that the mention in the prologue was left intact so as not to mislead any readers who may have already be familiar with the book from the former title.

The hard-boiled 1st person narrative of On the Make is handled well by narrator Robert Armin, whose other audiobook credits include non-fiction, self-help, children’s, and crime titles as well as his own writing. The main character, Tal Howard, is a veteran of the Korean War brought to a small town seeking buried riches hinted to him from the last wishes of a fellow prisoner of war. Tal quickly finds many others snooping around and that other strangers have already outstayed their welcome in the town of Hillston. I’ve personally only read other standalone novels from the John D MacDonald bibliography and based on what I’ve read I feel this novel serves as a great introduction to this period. The essays give a good comparison and contrast from this era with his later and better known Travis McGee series of novels. Also of interest and mentioned in high regard is the science fiction works of the author which have included short stories and a handful of novels. I recalled enjoying On the Make first time around when I read the Gutter Books paperback, and enjoyed revisiting the story with the audiobook. I may have to check out some of the John D. MacDonald series or sci-fi novels.

Posted by Dan VK

In The Abyss by H.G. Wells

July 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

In The Abyss by H.G. Wells

A very good reading of one of H.G. Wells’ long neglected stories, In The Abyss, is now available from LibriVox. James Christopher narrates this pioneering tale of first contact with a submarine civilization and he does it with the skill that comes from more than five years of contributions to LibriVox!

Those who’ve read H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth will appreciate the Well’s description of what sounds like Deep Ones:

“Two large and protruding eyes projected from sockets in chameleon fashion, and it had a broad reptilian mouth with horny lips beneath its little nostrils. In the position of the ears were two huge gill-covers, and out of these floated a branching tree of coralline filaments, almost like the tree-like gills that very young rays and sharks possess. But the humanity of the face was not the most extraordinary thing about the creature. It was a biped; its almost globular body was poised on a tripod of two frog-like legs and a long, thick tail, and its fore limbs, which grotesquely caricatured the human hand, much as a frog’s do, carried a long shaft of bone, tipped with copper. The colour of the creature was variegated; its head, hands, and legs were purple; but its skin, which hung loosely upon it, even as clothes might do, was a phosphorescent grey.”

LibriVoxIn The Abyss
By H.G. Wells; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: July 3, 2013
“To this he was being towed, as a balloon might be towed by men out of the open country into a town. He approached it very slowly, and very slowly the dim irradiation was gathered together into more definite shapes.” First published in Pearson’s Magazine, August 1, 1896.

Here’s an illustrated |PDF| made from the printing in the Amazing Stories, September 1926. And here’s the |PDF| made from the illustrated first printing in Pearson’s Magazine, August 1896.

In The Abyss by H.G. Wells - illustration by Frank R. Paul

Here’s an illustration from an early French translation:
In The Abyss by H.G. Wells

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Empire State by Adam Christopher

July 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Empire State by Adam ChristopherEmpire State (Empire State #1)
By Adam Christopher; Performed by Phil Gigante
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours

Themes: / parallel universe / urban fantasy / superheroes / detectives / noir /

Publisher summary:

The empire state is another New York,. It’s a parallel-universe, Prohibition-era world of mooks and shamuses that is the twisted magic mirror to our bustling Big Apple. It’s a city where sinister characters lurk around every corner while the great superheroes who once kept the streets safe have fallen into deadly rivalries and feuds. Not that its colourful residents know anything about the real New York… until detective Rad Bradley makes a discovery that will change the lives of all its inhabitants. Playing on the classic Gotham conventions of the Batman comics and HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, debut author Adam Christopher has spun a smart and fast-paced superhero-noir adventure that will excite genre fans and general readers alike.

Empire State is a novel that sounds really great in concept but comes off a bit confusing in execution. This novel has it all – superheroes, detective noir, gangsters, prohibition, robots, alternate dimensions, you name it. If any or all of that sounds cool to you, this may be a book for you.

The story generally takes the form of a detective noir once you get into it except that the story’s perspective does not only stick with the detective all the time. As with detective noir stories, you don’t know who is on which side all the time and things are slowly revealed as the story unfolds. Unfortunately, the story became confusing as things developed and the loyalties and motivations of characters seemed constantly in flux. The characters didn’t have a whole lot of depth past being exactly what you’d expect from their role in the story (detective, gangster, old-timey adventurer, reporter, etc). Despite the confusion, I really liked the ideas and world that Christopher created in this novel. The world of the Empire State is a dark, foggy equivalent of New York that had me picturing scenes from Dick Tracy. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Christopher does in this world.

Phil Gigante did a great job narrating Empire State. Voices for different characters were distinct and gave a great vocal aspect to the nature of the character being done. That said, I don’t know if I would actually recommend this as an audio book. There were quite a few times I wanted to rewind a bit because I had no idea what just happened (I actually did rewind a few times which is rare for me). I think the ability to easily look back a page or two in a book would probably have helped with the confusion.

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

July 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Agent to the Stars by John ScalziAgent to the Stars
By John Scalzi; Performed by Wil Wheaton
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours

Themes: / sci-fi / aliens /

Publisher summary:

The spacefaring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: they’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone to help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

If taken in a vacuum, knowing this is a novel that Mr. Scalzi wrote to see if he could, it’s pretty good. Of course things aren’t in a vacuum, and given my enjoyment of his later works, this one just isn’t as good.  I liked most of the characters. The normal Scalzi snark is present, but not as funny as in his other works.

The premise itself is an amusing one. Thomas Stein is an up and coming young agent in Hollywood. He works for one of the top agency’s in L.A. His boss is probably one of the best known people in all of Hollywood. It is for that reasons that aliens contact him.

The very benign Yherajk have a problem. Despite being very peaceful, they look terrifying, and smell worse. They’ve been watching our movies and TV for years, and worry about how the human race will react. They decide they need an agent. Tom is chosen by his boss as someone who can spare the time to work the problem without being found out.

Of course things don’t go exactly as planned. Just as I was really enjoying the story, the book took a turn. It really changed the whole tone of the book for me. It went from being a light sci-fi story to something more serious, and characters I liked were pondering actions I didn’t like. Things righted themselves a bit, and the ending saved the story from going completely off the rails for me.  Overall, I’d say this is one that could safely be skipped by all the biggest Scalzi fans. It’s enjoyable enough, but nothing that special.

This is the third audiobook I’ve listened to read by Wil Wheaton think it might be his best of the three. He does a much better job with voice variation for the characters in the book. Voices aren’t his strong suit, especially female voices. I still enjoy him as a narrator however.

##rob

Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb

July 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb

Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

First published in The Cavalier, January 11, 1913, Fishhead (aka Blood-Brother Of The Swamp Cats) is something of an ancestor to H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

In a letter published the same year, a 22-year-old H.P. Lovecraft, wrote, regarding Irvin S. Cobb’s short story Fishhead:

“It is the belief of the writer that very few short stories of equal merit have been published anywhere during recent years.”

Later, when composing his long essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature, Lovecraft described Fishhead as:

“banefully effective in its portrayal of unnatural affinities between a hybrid idiot and the strange fish of an isolated lake, which at the last revenge their biped kinsman’s murder.”

I’m very impressed by it, and so, after gently twisting my friend John Feaster‘s arm, here is his 23 minute unabridged narration of Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb |MP3|.

You’re welcome.

And, here are two PDFs of it. First an easy reading version |PDF| and second an illustrated version from Famous Fantastic Mysteries |PDF|!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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