This well regarded, and much anthologized, Science Fiction short story didn’t seem to have any point to it. I didn’t much like it, not until the very end, when I realized suddenly where it was going to go. It went there. I like it.
Mindwebs – Adam And No Eve
By Alfred Bester; Read by Michael Hanson and an unnamed female narrator
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [ABRIDGED with a musical bed]
Broadcaster: WHA Radio (Madison, WI)
Broadcast: November 24, 1978
The last man on Earth is dying. His only companion, man’s best friend, hates him. First published in Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1941.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Last year somebody* pointed out that a list of “The Top 100 Sci-Fi Books” (as organized by the Sci-Fi Lists website) was almost entirely available in audiobook form!
At the time of his or her compiling 95 of the 100 books were available as audiobooks.
Today, it appears, that list is approaching 99% complete!
I’ve read a good number of the books and audiobooks listed, and while some of them are indeed excellent, I’d have to argue that some are merely ok, and that others are utterly atrocious.
That said, I do think it is interesting that almost all of them are available as audiobooks!
Here’s the list as it stood last year, plus my added notations on the status of the missing five:
01- Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – 1985
02- Dune – Frank Herbert – 1965
03- Foundation – Isaac Asimov – 1951
04- Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams – 1979
05- 1984 – George Orwell – 1949
06- Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert A Heinlein – 1961
07- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury – 1954
08- 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C Clarke – 1968
09- Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein – 1959
10- I, Robot – Isaac Asimov – 1950
11- Neuromancer – William Gibson – 1984
12- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick – 1968
13- Ringworld – Larry Niven – 1970
14- Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke – 1973
15- Hyperion – Dan Simmons – 1989
16- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – 1932
17- The Time Machine – H.G. Wells – 1895
18- Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke – 1954
19- The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein – 1966
20- The War Of The Worlds – H.G. Wells – 1898
21- The Forever War – Joe Haldeman – 1974
22- The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury – 1950
23- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut – 1969
24- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson – 1992
25- The Mote In God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1975
26- The Left Hand Of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1969
27- Speaker For The Dead – Orson Scott Card – 1986
28- Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton – 1990
29- The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick – 1962
30- The Caves Of Steel – Isaac Asimov – 1954
31- The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester – 1956
32- Gateway – Frederik Pohl – 1977
33- Lord Of Light – Roger Zelazny – 1967
34- Solaris – Stanisław Lem – 1961
35- 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – Jules Verne – 1870
36- A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle – 1962
37- Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut – 1963
38- Contact – Carl Sagan – 1985
39- The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton – 1969
40- The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov – 1972
41- A Fire Upon The Deep – Vernor Vinge – 1991
42- Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson – 1999
43- The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham – 1951
44- UBIK – Philip K. Dick – 1969
45- Time Enough For Love – Robert A. Heinlein – 1973
46- A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess – 1962
47- Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson – 1992
48- Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
49- A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller – 1959
50- The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov – 1955
51- Battlefield Earth – L. Ron Hubbard – 1982
52- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley – 1818
53- Journey To The Center Of The Earth – Jules Verne – 1864
54- The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1974
55- The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson – 1995
56- The Player Of Games – Iain M. Banks – 1988
57- The Reality Dysfunction – Peter F. Hamilton – 1996
58- Startide Rising – David Brin – 1983
59- The Sirens Of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut – 1959
60- Eon – Greg Bear – 1985
61- Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card – 1999
62- To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer – 1971
63- A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick – 1977
64- Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1977
65- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – 1985
66- The City And The Stars – Arthur C Clark – 1956
67- The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison – 1961
68- The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester – 1953
69- The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe – 1980
70- Sphere – Michael Crichton – 1987
71- The Door Into Summer – Robert .A Heinlein – 1957
72- The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick – 1964
73- Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds – 2000
74- Citizen Of The Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 1957
75- Doomsday Book – Connie Willis – 1992
76- Ilium – Dan Simmons – 2003
77- The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells – 1897
78- Have Space-Suit Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein – 1958
79- The Puppet Masters – Robert A. Heinlein – 1951
80- Out Of The Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis – 1938
81- A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs – 1912
82- The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1971
83- Use Of Weapons – Iain M. Banks – 1990
84- The Chrysalids – John Wyndham – 1955
85- Way Station – Clifford Simak – 1963
86- Flatland – Edwin A. Abbott – 1884
87- Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan – 2002
88- Old Man’s War – John Scalzi – 2005
89- COMING SOON (October 15, 2012) – Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – 1972
90- The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 2006
91- The Postman – David Brin – 1985
92- NEWLY AVAILABLE – Stand On Zanzibar – John Brunner – 1969
93- VALIS – Philip K. Dick – 1981
94- NEWLY AVAILABLE The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age – Stanisław Lem – 1974
95- NOT AVAILABLE AS AN AUDIOBOOK – Cities In Flight – James Blish – 1955
96- The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 1912
97- The Many-Colored Land – Julian May – 1981
98- Gray Lensman – E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith – 1940
99- The Uplift War – David Brin – 1987
100- NEWLY AVAILABLE – The Forge Of God – Greg Bear – 1987
In case you were wondering, the list was compiled using the following criteria:
“A statistical survey of sci-fi literary awards, noted critics and popular polls. To qualify a book has to be generally regarded as science fiction by credible sources and/or recognised as having historical significance to the development of the genre. For books that are part of a series (with some notable exceptions) only the first book in the series is listed.”
The “Next 100″, as listed over on Sci-Fi Lists, has a lot of excellent novels and collections in it too, check that out HERE.
[*Thanks to "neil1966hardy" from ThePirateBay]
Posted by Jesse Willis
There’s a fascinating article by Kurt Kuersteiner HERE titled “OTR: The Evil Influence Behind EC.” In it Kuersteiner maps some of the many stories swiped from radio drama series and turned into EC Comics.
It came to me at the perfect time too. I’ve just been getting into EC comics over the last few months. Having grown up under the censorship of the Comics Code Authority I didn’t really know what I was missing. Now though, reading these pre-code comics, I can now see that my intellectual growth had been greatly stunted.
I’d have been a far smarter person if I’d been able to buy and read comics like these as a kid.
My favourite such tale so far was published in the July/August 1953 issue of Weird Fantasy (issue number 20). It’s called The Automaton. At first it seemed to me like a mashup of a Philip K. Dick’s The Electric Ant, Alfred Bester’s Fondly Fahrenheit and George Orwell’s 1984. But looking at the chronology that can’t be what it is. First off Philip K. Dick was just getting started around then. And while he was a comics reader The Electric Ant wasn’t published until 1969.
And while by 1953 Bester had already been working in comics – he hadn’t yet written Fondly Fahrenheit. So the story is definitely Orwellian and very cool, and certainly like a couple of Dick and Bester tales that were yet to be written. But then again, maybe it was inspired by a radio drama that I’ve not heard yet. Anybody know of one like this?
As it stands The Automaton is set in the futuristic dystopian world of Los Angeles in 2009. Our protagonist is XT-751, a man recounting his story of being sent to a northern labour camp after a suicide attempt. Suicide is illegal in this world because the state owns every person from the cradle to the grave.
I actually have been thinking about The Automaton for months now. And after reading Kuersteiner’s article it somehow gelled into a post. It’s just been something I could’t quite shake. The story is not only extremely thought provoking, and still timely, but also extremely frightening. And maybe a lot of the rest of it is that it is about as far away from superhero comics as you can possibly get. Best of all it’s told in just seven pages – that’s a highly distilled story.
The only credit for The Automaton is for the artist, Joe Orlando, but maybe he wrote it too?
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
What was really going on in 1984, the introduction to the audiobook, 3 MB of RAM, Commodore 64, Apple IIe, TI-99/4A, the 10 Year Anniversary Edition of Neuromancer, video arcade vs. arcade, Tank War Europa, Spy Hunter, Sinistar, BBC audio drama adaptation of Neuromancer, cyberpunk, Jenny couldn’t connect with Case the first time, Alfred Bester, the revolutionary effect of Neuromancer, “a very special book”, Mexico City, “an important novel”, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, The New Yorker’s parody of Neuromancer, the New Wave, “one great new idea per book”, Samuel “Chip” Delany, The Einstein Intersection, The Lovesong Of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, “The sky above the port…”, Blade Runner, “time to murder and create”, Hesiod, “And he never saw Molly again.”, an untethered morality, the Rastafarian religion, WWI, virtual worlds, Second Life, Gibson’s intentions, Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, conspiracy, The Crying Of Lot 49, William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch, “the silent frequency of junk”, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, Dorothy’s shoes, L. Frank Baum, “the face of evil is the face of total need”, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe, “slouching through the streets of Paris”, Case is a “man of decided inaction”, God was Adam’s employer, Dixie Flatline wants to die, Free Will, Eric felt for Case, 1980s, Watergate, a totemic fascination with color and material, branding, Pattern Recognition, the Sanyo spacesuit, Hosaka is a computer?, a dead channel would be blue (today), Ian Fleming, James Bond, Walther PPK, “elegance and cosmopolitanism”, John Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar, Escape From New York, Johnny Mnemonic, the fear of what technology is going to bring, Case’s youth, detritus vs. kipple, Philip K. Dick, Martian Time-Slip, Galactic Pot-Healer, “you can’t prove that the United States exists” in Neuromancer, Case was a street-kid, Gibson has built something that has mythic power, the lame Braun robot, Molly -> Mother -> Mary, SSN vs. SIN, a Case study (pun), he has been assigned a SIN, Oedipus, they function as if they were physical, Case: “You know you repeat yourself man.” Dixie: “Yeah, it’s my nature.”, the Sprawl trilogy and “when it changed”, when is Neuromancer set?, “a rich kid’s hideout”, real kipple vs. fake kipple, “built by carpenters to look rustic”, 18th century fake ruins, Versailles (and the Hameau de la reine), the Tessier-Ashpool are fucked up, Mona Lisa Overdrive, cloning, Count Zero, “they dumped themselves into this matrix”, communication technologies begin with porn, A Chorus Line, SimStim gets short shrift in Neuromancer, Strange Days, Molly’s meat-puppet memories, 1-900 numbers, the lotus eaters, Circe, the Sirens song, The Lion of Comarre by Arthur C. Clarke, the heisters are motivated or moved by their A.I. puppet-master, Case’s motivation, Molly’s motivation, Corto/Armitage’s motivation, like Rabbit in Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End, these characters want to believe in their own free will, Neuromancer‘s motivation, “who’s the bad guy in this book?”, “who isn’t?”, the shuriken is the only moral totem in the book, dystopia vs. dystopic, “the wavelength of amphetamine”, spit instead of cry, Jenny is kind of cheating (because she’s read the sequels), is Molly wrong for Case?, Eric questions the new pancreas, it’s Noir (because everyone smokes), Jo Walton’s review of Neuromancer (see the top and comment 59.), Jesse appreciates the world (and the great motivation of the plot), Eric likes Case (in part) because he’s the only one who doesn’t want to physically hurt anyone else, O’Neil colony, the fake French youths, Case is not Neo, The Matrix is a fairy tale with a prophecy whereas Neuromancer is Science Fiction, the Sprawl Trilogy vs. The Matrix Trilogy, Star Wars, “stuck in bullet time”, V: For Vendetta is a fantastic movie, Jenny thinks we should listen to the soundtrack to The Matrix, “the machine and the moment”, Tama thought the second half of Neuromancer dragged, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is also Necromancer‘s antecedent ,”what do we owe to what we create?”
Posted by Jesse Willis
Five Free Favourites #14: Jesse’s Five Favourte SFFaudio Podcast READALONGS (of the first 100 shows)
It probably sounds arrogant to talk about SFFaudio’s own podcast being my favourite podcast. It may sound that way, but it also happens to be what I really think. Not only is recording the podcast the highlight of my week, it’s also my favourite podcast to listen to when it comes out on Mondays. In our first 100 SFFaudio Podcast episodes there dozens and dozens of episodes that I can recall in great depth, episodes where I learned something interesting and had a whole lot of fun while doing so. We talked to some truly amazing people and talked about great ideas in SFF. SFFaudio Podcast episodes come in several flavours, but amongst them I think my favourite kind of show is our READALONGS. READALONGS are essentially our book club show, where we pick an audiobook (or paperbook), and discuss it in great detail. There have been more than thirty READALONGS so far and I’m convinced it would be hard to find a single dud amongst them. Here are five of my favourite readalongs from our first 100 episodes.
1. The SFFaudio Podcast #050 – |MP3|-|POST| – READALONG: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James
This list isn’t in order of preference, but rather of chronology. That said, if I had a gun to my head I might pick this episode as my personal favourite. This is a book that just had two participants, Scott and me. When I think of our friendship over the last decade I think of this episode. Scott says that this is the episode where the show “shifted gears” and I think he’s right. The show starts with a clip from Eric S. Rabkin’s lecture entitled Masterpieces Of The Imaginative Mind .
2. The SFFaudio Podcast #056 – |MP3|-|POST| – READALONG: The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley
The episode with the most participants, there are six: Scott, myself, Rick Jackson, Gregg Margarite, Jerry Stearns and Julie Davis. Normally we try to avoid having that many people in one show, but for this episode I think it mostly worked. Also, the book was fantastic. I’m a huge fan of Robert Sheckley. If you end up liking this episode check out #076 in which we discuss Sheckley’s Mindswap.
3. The SFFaudio Podcast #064 – |MP3|-|POST| – READALONG: The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Now this episode is cool for a number of reasons. One is that it’s an episode with both Julie Davis and Luke Burrage in the same episode (something that’s happened only twice). Alfred Bester is one of my favourite writers and this novel is one of the best Science Fiction books I’ve ever read. We all brought something to the table for this episode and we all walked away richer for it.
4. The SFFaudio Podcast #073 – |MP3|-|POST| – READALONG: Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
This episode has both Luke Burrage and Gregg Margarite. We discussed one of the best novels I’d never read before. This is also one of the longest episodes, coming in just shy of two hours. I came away from this book and this wonderful conversation both a smarter person and a wiser man.
5. The SFFaudio Podcast #082 – |MP3|-|POST| – READALONG: Memory by Donald E. Westlake
This episode saw the first appearance of Trent Reynolds, from The Violent World Of Parker. The novel, by one of my favourite authors, was wonderfully noir and we discussed its every turn and twist with a kindly eye. With Trent’s help (and that of Gregg Margarite’s) I walked away from this episode knowing we’d done a very good job. I was happily depressed for the following week.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Fondly Fahrenheit is Alfred Bester’s superlative achievement in short Science Fiction. Apparently the story was based an account of an U.S. Antebellum Era slave owner who refused to surrender his murderous chattel because the man was just too valuable. In Fondly Fahrenheit Bester makes brilliant use of the psychological concept of transference, literally smacks you in the forehead with an allusion to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and employs POV shifts that effortlessly blow your consciousness right out of your mind (and into someone else’s)!
The story was adapted as a telepay in 1959 under the title Murder And The Android, an episode of NBC’s Sunday Showcase. But the version I want to tell you about is one that I hadn’t realized existed, until just a few days ago! Bester had again adapted his story, and again changed it’s name! Here is Alfred Bester’s own radio drama adaptation of Fondly Fahrenheit, from 1976 He called it The Walking Dead!
CBS Radio Mystery Theater #0484 – The Walking Dead
Adapted by Alfred Bester; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcast: May 20, 1976
Check out the art I cobbled together for it, thanks in part to Brain Plucker’s new “Lost Art” feature (Virgil Finlay!):
Posted by Jesse Willis