The SFFaudio Podcast #281 – READALONG: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

September 8, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #281 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Bryan Alexander discuss Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1968, science fiction by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner, abridged version, audiobook, repetition of theme, an introductory novel to Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, jam packed with action, one long day, the fake police station, a classic Dick move, how many androids are there in this book?, movies, androids, legitimate slavery, Luba, minority, androids v. slaves, reality of humans, psychological tests, visuals, dialogic science fiction, Wilder Penfield, The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton, mood organ, existential humor, satire, artificial, unbelievable world, endless competition, goat glands, Sydney’s Catalog, the BBC Radio 4 audio drama by Jonathan Holloway & Kerry Shale, parallel characters, undercut truth, an animal theme, religious allusions, Mercer, Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan), lurker, detective story, lack of world descriptions, less striking scenes in the movie, Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, tomb world, fraud corpses, Mercer v. Jesus, lack of introduction in the movie, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the maker, hope of freedom, androids as fiends, humans yet not humans, what is the definition of human?, the question, the title, empathy to androids, Deckard’s predictions, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, predestination, fake things, simulacra, electrically modified ecology, emotional drug, consumerism, The Days of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the vale of reality, the cuckoo clock in Blade Runner, layered symbols, visualizing future technologies, Kayla Williams, unobvious connections, paranoia, suspicion of government, The Exit Door Leads In by Philip K. Dick, unimportance of religious reality, environmental awareness, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, dehumanization in war, androids = inverted human, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, television, The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, podcasting, Metropolis (Fritz Lang), Max Headroom, “Five Minutes Into the Future”, The Red Room by H.P. Lovecraft, haunted media.

Marvel Comics Blade Runner

Blade Runner Haffmans Entertainer

Blade Runner Illustrated by Syd Mead

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? WORD CLOUD

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of We Can Build You by Philip K. Dick

February 3, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

We Can Build You by Philip K. DickWe Can Build You
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Dan John Miller
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1461-9
Published: August 14, 2012
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 discs; 8 hours

Themes: / androids / healthcare / future / bureaucracy /

Publisher summary:

In this lyrical and moving novel, Philip K. Dick intertwines the story of a toxic love affair with one about sentient robots, and unflinchingly views it all through the prism of mental illness — which spares neither human nor robot. The end result is one of Dick’s most quietly powerful works.

When Louis Rosen’s electronic-organ company builds a pitch-perfect robotic replica of Abraham Lincoln, the firm is pulled into the orbit of a shady businessman, who is looking to use Lincoln for his own profit. Meanwhile, Rosen seeks Lincoln’s advice as he woos a woman incapable of understanding human emotions — someone who may be even more robotic than Lincoln’s replica.

Published in 1972, Dick uses the premise of a “future” (the book takes place in Dick’s imagined 1982) where programming is advanced enough to allow programming the appearance of sentience into androids to provide a treatise on mental health and mental healthcare.

In short, Louie Rosen and his partner Maury run a business making and selling electronic organs. One day, however, Maury decides to make an android of Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War. When he reveals it to Louie, he also reveals that his schizophrenic daughter, Priss, played a large role in developing the personality for it. The Stanton simulacrum is quite successful, and they make another, this time of Abraham Lincoln. They get the idea to pitch it to an investor, Barrows, to capitulate on Americans’ love for the Civil War (which at the time it was written, was nearing its centennial). Unfortunately, as Barrows and the crew spend more time with the Lincoln, they find that it is moody and seems manic. While this may be historically accurate, it could also be a projection of Priss’s beliefs about Lincoln into the programming. Where the Stanton android is personable, logical, and “normal,” the Lincoln is anything but. Eventually, Barrows decides to pass on the investment and instead make his own (which he will use as first settlers for a moon colony–an idea I would have preferred to read about). Priss ends up infatuated with Barrows and follows him back to Seattle. Louie, while talking to the Lincoln, seems to have also developed mental instability and runs to Seattle to bring Priss back. She shoots him down and he ends up committed. The story ends when Louie “gets over” his issues and is discharged to go about his normal life.

This was a book about ideas. Dick obviously had feelings about the state (and stigma) of mental health issues in the 60’s, both with regards to diagnosis and treatment. He almost seems to imply that we’re all mentally unstable/have our moments of instability…but he takes it to another level as to suggest that the state-run facilities do nothing to help people. Rather, the state-run facilities can actually make people worse.

In the end, this was a book of a lot of thoughts, not a lot of actions. There was a lot more dialogue an “thinking” than there was stuff actually happening; it was quite cerebral. This isn’t the kind of book I’m normally into…and in fact, as the book wore on, I found it hard to want to listen and hard to keep focused. I liked the idea of sentient androids, of “souls” built from research into real people…but it’s not for me. And probably not for everybody. But if you like “ideas” books, then it may be for you.

The narration itself was…interesting. Miller’s voice is somewhat flat, which can be good in an audiobook like this; he certainly didn’t try to project too much character into most of the voices. However, he did use different tones for female voices as compared to male voices. In that respect, it was somewhat grating; his female voice was almost pandering and was somewhat creepy. It made some “sexual” scenes between Priss and Louie extra-creepy. That said, it also helped to make me really believe that Priss was mentally ill…

It’s hard to believe, but this is the first PKD I’ve ever read. I’ve also never watched Bladerunner in its entirety. I don’t know if the rest of his stories are like this, so cerebral. If they are, I may skip them. I was lured in by the robots…and kind of turned off by everything else.

Review by terpkristin.

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 7

July 1, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

If you haven’t already started listening to The Red Panda Adventures you’re doing yourself a grave disservice. Go back to the beginning and start with Season 1 (that’s HERE).

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season SevenThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 7
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: August 2011 – July 2012
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Nazis / War / WWII / Adventure / Toronto / Androids / Espionage / Zombies / Magic / Aliens / Poetry / Astral Projection / Hypnosis / France / Germany / Berlin / Dinosaurs / Identity / Forgery / Romance /

The Red Panda Adventures is a comic book superhero series with a world, now in it’s seventh season, that is only comparable in scale to the entire Marvel or DC universes. But unlike either DC and Marvel, the Red Panda universe has all been written by one man, Greg Taylor. Because of that it has a consistency like the best seasons of Babylon 5.

The first episode of Season 7 follows right on the heels of last season’s final episode. In the season opener, From the Ashes, Kit Baxter gets a visit from the highest power in the land. And what with the Red Panda being presumed dead there’s only one thing to do – find a replacement for Canada’s greatest superhero. The government suggests that an unkillable machine, bent on vengeance, become the new Red Panda. And Kit, is fairly forced to accept the government’s choice. Now I won’t summarize any more of the plot. But, I will say this – Season 7 is a very different season than the previous six seasons.

What isn’t different is Taylor’s scripting. It’s still great, in fact its almost unbelievably great. Taylor has one of those highly distinctive writing styles, one that’s instantly recognizable – he’s like an Aaron Sorkin, a David Mamet, or an Ian Mackintosh. And with Taylor’s style comes a whole lot of substance too. He does incredible things with each half-hour script. Each standalone tale features a carefully measured combination of snappy repartee, genuine mystery, thrilling suspense, and clever action. And he does it all within a expanded universe so consistent so as to have become a kind of complete alternate history. His seven year series, and running, has created an image so vivid as to be completely realized. Taylor’s 1930s-1940s Toronto is far realer to me than any Gotham or Metropolis offered up in comics or movies. In fact to find anything comparable you’d have to go to the Springfield of The Simpsons!

Indeed, for the last seven years I’ve followed The Red Panda Adventures rather avidly and with each season I’ve become more engrossed in the show. The release of a new episode has become so inextricably linked to my listening habits so as to become like a good a visit from an old friend. It’s truly wonderful.

In my re-listening to the first eleven episodes of this Season 7 I picked up dozens and dozens of minor details in dialogue and plot that I’d missed the first time around. Take one point, early in the season, as an example – a character quotes the tagline of the CBS Radio series Suspense as a part of her dialogue.

How wonderful to find that!

And of course there are all the usual line echoes that we know from all past seasons (if you’re curious there’s a whole thread of Taylorisms over on AudioDramaTalk).

As for Season 7 as a whole, it has a sense of deep loss, very much in keeping with the times in which the story is set and the fallout from Season 6. Earlier I mentioned that Season 7 was unlike previous seasons, that’s because it features two overarching, and eventually intersecting, plots. The first, set in Toronto, deals with Kit Baxter, her new sidekick, her new job as associate editor of the Chronicle, and her developing pregnancy. The other plotline, set in Europe introduces us to a new character, a Lieutenant Flynn, a man in a deep denial, and his attempts to fight the Nazis behind their lines. It’s a radical change, and unforeseen change of pace, but not an unpleasant one.

The smaller scale stories from this season, like The Milk Run, work terrifically well too. As even the characters themselves will admit a plot about the forgery of rationing books doesn’t sound very dramatic next to the events unfolding in war torn France. But it’s a job that has to be done, and should be done, and done well it is. And that’s because the relatively harmless domestic crime of forgery is an important part of the story of WWII Toronto. The The Milk Run script tackles it in a way that makes it seem as if such a story could not not be told. In fact, this whole home-front end of the season’s story holds up very well next to the very dramatic later episodes.

One other such, The Case Of The Missing Muse, works very similairly. It’s a story in which we meet a super-villain, with a super-vocabulary, in a mystery that could have been set in any of the previous episodes. But what with the war time setting it of Season 7, and a new Red Panda running the show, it has a resolution that has its own unique wartime fit.

That replacement Red Panda, who in fact is a character from a previous season is still voiced by the wonderful Christopher Mott. The new Panda has a very different personality and temperament than our good friend August Fenwick. His goals as Red Panda are different, his methods are different, and it’s basically everything you like about when a hero regular superhero, from the comics gets, a replacement. It’s a new origins story – a fresh start – with all the promise that brings.

Some have argued that The Red Panda Adventures is really Kit Baxter’s story – and that certainly could be argued especially within the first arc of Season 7. Indeed, Kit Baxter, aka Flying Squirrel, does not get short shrift there. Besides her regular superhero duties, Kit’s also required to train the new Panda, fill in for the shattered Home Team (from last season) and somehow deal with the fact that her butler now knows she’s the Flying Squirrel! But that’s not all over at The Chronicle, the fictional Toronto newspaper that Kit works for, she, and we, get to visit with one of the best editor voices I’ve ever heard. Editor Pearly is your typical fatherly J. Jonah Jameson type caricature of an editor, but with a voice so crazily stressed out, a voice with lines so quickly delivered, you’ll barely understand a word he’s saying. It’s both fun and funny.

Then, just short of the midway point, a kind of focal transition takes place in between episodes 78 and 79, The Darkness Beyond and Flying Blind. The second arc begins slowly but soon ramps up. The aforementioned “Lieutenant Flynn”, and a team of commandos lead by one Captain Parker must escape from a Nazi stalag prison. Once achieved they spend much of the rest of the season either on the run or doing Special Operations Executive style missions in Nazi occupied France or in Berlin itself! And long time fans of the series will recognize the return of a certain Australian accented commando in one episode.

This new military aspect of the show is actually rather remarkable, being like a kind of Canadian version of WWII Captain America. It features a large male cast, allied soldiers, that act like something like a hybrid of the comics like Sgt. Rock, Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos, and The Unknown Soldier. Indeed, in the final episode of Season 7, The Black Heart, the show even gives a nice tip of the hat towards the later Nick Fury (the one who’s an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D.). That final season episode, incidentally, is set to be podcast later this month and features several other reveals, and dare I say reunions, which fans will be sure to love – I know I sure did. Suffice it to say, the Season 7 season-ender is definitely not a cliffhanger.

Here’s the podcast feed:

http://decoderring.libsyn.com/rss

Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Influence of RADIO DRAMA on comics and vice versa

February 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, News 

SFFaudio News

EC ComicsThere’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?

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 1

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 2

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 3

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 4

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 5

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 6

From EC Comics - Weird Fantasy #020 - The Automaton Page 7

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Six NEW Philip K. Dick Audiobooks

October 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases 

New Releases

Brilliance Audio has released five new Philip K. Dick audiobooks, none ever audiobooked before, all novels, all available now!

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Divine Invasion by Philip K. DickThe Divine Invasion
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Dick Hill
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814497
God is not dead: he has merely been exiled to an extraterrestrial planet. And it is on this planet that God meets Herb Asher and persuades him to help retake Earth from the demonic Belial. Featuring virtual reality, parallel worlds, and interstellar travel, The Divine Invasion blends philosophy and adventure in a way few authors can achieve. As the middle novel of Dick’s VALIS trilogy, The Divine Invasion plays a pivotal role in answering the questions raised by the first novel, expanding that world while exploring just how much anyone can really know — even God himself.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Lies, Inc. by Philip K. DickLies, Inc.
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Luke Daniels
6 CDs – Approx. 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814381
When catastrophic overpopulation threatens Earth, one company offers to teleport citizens to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious émigrés. But there is one problem: the teleportation machine works in only one direction. When Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that some of the footage of happy settlers may have been faked, he sets out on an eighteen-year journey to see if anyone wants to come back. Lies, Inc. is one of Philip K. Dick’s final novels, which he expanded from his novella The Unteleported Man shortly before his death. In its examination of totalitarianism, reality, and hallucination, it encompasses everything that Dick’s fans love about his oeuvre.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K. DickNow Wait For Last Year
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Luke Daniels
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814428
Earth is trapped in the crossfire of an unwinnable war between two alien civilizations. Its leader is perpetually on the verge of death. And on top of that, a new drug has just entered circulation — a drug that haphazardly sends its users traveling through time. In an attempt to escape his doomed marriage, Dr. Eric Sweetscent becomes caught up in all of it. But he has questions: Is Earth on the right side of the war? Is he supposed to heal Earth’s leader or keep him sick? And can he change the harrowing future that the drug has shown him?

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Simulacra by Philip K. DickThe Simulacra
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Dick Hill
7 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814541
On a ravaged Earth, fate and circumstances bring together a disparate group of characters, including a fascist with dreams of a coup, a composer who plays his instrument with his mind, a First Lady who calls all the shots, and the world’s last practicing therapist. And they all must contend with an underclass that is beginning to ask a few too many questions, aided by a man called Loony Luke and his very persuasive pet alien. In classic Philip K. Dick fashion, The Simulacra combines time travel, psychotherapy, telekinesis, androids, and Neanderthal-like mutants to create a rousing, mind-bending story where there are conspiracies within conspiracies and nothing is ever what it seems.

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer by Philip K. DickThe Transmigration of Timothy Archer
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Joyce Bean
7 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: October 18, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814558
The final book in Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer brings the author’s search for the identity and nature of God to a close. The novel follows Bishop Timothy Archer as he travels to Israel, ostensibly to examine ancient scrolls bearing the words of Christ. But more importantly, this leads him to examine the decisions he made during his life and how they may have contributed to the suicides of his mistress and son. This introspective book is one of Dick’s most philosophical and literary, delving into the mysteries of religion and of faith itself. As one of Dick’s final works, it also provides unique insight into the mind of a genius, whose work was still in the process of maturing at the time of his death.

Each of the above is currently available through Audible.com too.They’ve also got Dick’s non-fiction/memoir that’s been called “The Exegesis.” This comes as a kind of a surprise, even though we knew the paperbook was coming, this thing is massive, even edited, and may make for some very strange road trips. Here it is:

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - The Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan LethemThe Exegesis Of Philip K. Dick
Edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem; Read by Fred Stella
36 CDs – 44 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: November 7, 2011
ISBN: 9781455814626
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this is the definitive presentation of Dick’s brilliant, and epic, work. In the Exegesis, Dick documents his eight-year attempt to fathom what he called “2-3-74,” a postmodern visionary experience of the entire universe “transformed into information.” In entries that sometimes ran to hundreds of pages, in a freewheeling voice that ranges through personal confession, esoteric scholarship, dream accounts, and fictional fugues, Dick tried to write his way into the heart of a cosmic mystery that tested his powers of imagination and invention to the limit. This volume, the culmination of many years of transcription and archival research, has been annotated by the editors and by a unique group of writers and scholars chosen to offer a range of views into one of the most improbable and mind-altering manuscripts ever brought to light.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #130 – READALONG: Human Man’s Burden by Robert Sheckley

October 17, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #130 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Jenny discuss Human Man’s Burden by Robert Sheckley.

Talked about on today’s show:
uppity damn robots, hilarious characterization, soulless robots, Galaxy Magazine September 1956, Star Trek, Harry Mudd, Sears Roebuck catalogues, freeze dried vs. flash frozen, Kiln People by David Brin, The Twilight Zone episode “The Lonely“, robot wives, manufactured fingernails, center of gravity, “could she have been a robot?”, Gunga Sam the foreman robot, duenna is Portuguese for chaperone, Gunga Din, the Writing Excuses podcast with Lou Anders, HuffDuffer, John Scalzi, Casablanca, The Dark Knight, Edward Flaswell, “Sure pal. Sure.”, Frontier Bride, mail order bride, freeze dried preacher, programmed by “a human supremacist of the most rabid sort”, was Flaswell talked into feeling bad, what is the Human Man’s Burden?, is it all a marketing ploy?, The Mote In God’s Eye, the Gold Rush, why is the combustion god?, “Him strong him good, believe me brothers, it is even as I say.”, Rudyard Kipling poem’s The White Man’s Burden, the justification for empire, satire, the page 99 illustration, labeling people, ultra deluxe model bride, “oil glistened on their honest faces”, Tama can prove the robots are having sex, “in their carefree robot fashion”, a series of robots on the moon ordering from Sears Roebuck catalogues (15 F&SF covers by Mel Hunter), Charles van Doren, face-parts, “the robot frontier”, Asteroids in fiction (Wikipedia entry), TZ ep.: “Two“, Dumb Martian by John Wyndham, TZ ep.: “The Lateness Of The Hour“, android vs. gynoid, Firefly, Gunga Sam knows best, Sheila was down-selling herself, this is a feminist story?, Human Man’s Burden could be a cartoon, Kindles/Xboxes/Wiis/PS3s are sold as cheaply as possible because of the profit being in the media they play, iTouch vs. iPhone, free robots in our homes selling moon makers and solidovisions, nesting dolls, Human Man’s Burden probably isn’t public domain, Psycho by Robert Bloch, The Status Civilization, Seventh Victim, Mindswap, Warrior Race, The Space Merchants, Blackstone Audio, Charles Stross, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.

ISFDB publication history for Human Man’s Burden HERE.

Human Man's Burden by Robert Sheckley - Page 95 - Galaxy Science Fiction magazine, September 1956

Human Man's Burden by Robert Sheckley - ilustration by Weiss

Sears Roebuck Ordering Robot - Art by Mel Hunter

Posted by Jesse Willis

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