The SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute; read by Simon Prebble. Jesse fends off illness to lead us in an intriguing discussion about Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel. This podcast features Jesse, Jenny, Seth, and Paul.
Talked about on today’s show:
Reversed seasons in Southern Hemisphere; novel originally serialized in London weekly periodical The Sunday Graphic; “on the beach” as naval phrase meaning “retired from service”; the novel almost universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike; what is the ideal time frame for an end-of-the-world scenario?; On The Beach as bleak existential novel; the author’s avoidance of political or religious polemic; 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins; Australia as a secular nation; Earth Abides by George R. Stewart; Endgame by Samuel Becket; the novel as a metaphor for terminal cancer patients; The Star by Arthur C. Clarke; abstract sterile end-of-world mechanics, a “cosy catastrophe“; 2008 BBC radio adaptation; 2000 TV movie starring Bryan Brown, modernized and featuring a much more optimistic tone; Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick 2012; could the novel’s characters done more to ensure the continued survival of humanity?; fallout shelters, “duck and cover!”; Chernobyl; rampant alcoholism; euthanasia; attitudes toward media–were newspapers responsible for the war?; regression of technology in the novel; The Waveries by Fredric Brown; we wish the Cosy Catastrophe genre would supplant Paranormal Romance; reflection of a pre-WWI era arms race; 1959 movie version tackles Cold War paranoia; U.S. government’s criticism of the novel; Five Years by David Bowie; faced with the end of the world, our panel would evidently read Marcel Proust; needless revisions in film adaptations; much action takes place “off the page” in the novel; lookism; The Scarlet Plague by Jack London; Simon Prebble’s excellent audio narration; George Orwell’s 1984; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and logotherapy; Jay Lake and his bout with cancer; Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and how we’re haunted by the people who are no longer with us; the novel’s three-dimensional characters; Nevil Shute employs typical British understatement; Lord of the Rings‘s Denethor and the idea of hopelessness; Egyptian tomb goods and attitudes towards death; Jesse plans his funeral rites.
Posted by Seth Wilson
Harper Audio was founded in 1952 under the name “Caedmon.” Harper Audio still occasionally publishes under its Caedmon label but its real heyday was in the late 1970s. Uniquely, the back of each album featured unique liner notes typically written specifically for the LP. Witness this vintage magazine ad (from Unearth, Spring 1978):
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #228 – Jesse and Jenny talk about the Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon.
Talked about on today’s show:
the near and far future, not a novel, an imagined planetary history, the scope, Penguin Books, philosophy, the introduction, The Iron Heel by Jack London, a future history, human civilizations, two thousand million years (two billion years), universes => galaxy, man is a small part of the universe, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, Doctor Who, 2001: A Space Odyssey, what the plot would look like if there was one, the eighteen periods of man, evolution and construction, it’s set in 1930, is there ever an end to humanity?, Last Men In London by Olaf Stapledon, Last And First Men was popular in its day, Stapledon served in the ambulance service in WWI, plotlessness, period themes, the flying theme, the depletion of fossil fuels, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Venus, Mars, Neptune, the Martians, the Venusians, the genocide on Venus, Luke Burrage (the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast), racism, a Science Fiction mythology, the poetic musical ending, deep time, to the end of the Earth and beyond, Stapledon as an historian, civilizations always fall, there’s no one thing that ends civilizations, humanity as a symphony, the returns to savagery, establishing the pattern, Arthur C. Clarke, The House On The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson, The Night Lands, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft and cosmicism, the Wikipedia entry for Last And First Men, Fritz Leiber, Forrest Ackerman, scientificion, matchless poignancy, S. Fowler Wright, Lovecraft’s love of the stars (astronomy), one of the species of man is a monkey, another a rabbit, no jokes but perhaps humour, a cosmic joke, monkeys have made human their slaves, Planet Of The Apes, an ability to hear at the subatomic level, intelligence, a fourteen foot brain supported by ferroconcrete, obsession with gold, obsession with diamonds, pulping people, it’s written like a history textbook or essays, the Patagonia explosion, the upstart volcanoes, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, chiseling knowledge into granite, Olaf loved coming up with different sexual relationships, the 20 year pregnancy, suicide, euthanasia, an unparalleled imagination, groupthink, telepathy, oversimplification, we must press on, the baboon-like submen, the seal-like Submen, the divergence of man into other ecological niches, the number of ants in New York, ecosystems, nuclear weapons, robots are missing, where is the robot man?, the over-emphasis on fossil fuels as the only source of energy, if you could see us now, post-humans, ultimately a love letter to humanity, not aww but awwww!, Starmaker as a masterpiece, Sirius, uplifting a dog, a fantasy of love and discord, dog existentialism, who am I and where is my bone?, Olaf Stapledon in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, influential vs. famous, a very different read.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Beginning it seems in the mid-1970s Dudley Knight, a U.C. Irvine professor of drama, voiced a series called The Graveyard Shift on KPFK, Los Angeles. The purpose was to tell stories of the macabre. His broadcasts aired weekly with shows of variable length (between half and hour and two and a half hours).
Here is a list of broadcast stories, with links to audio when available:
Jan. ??, 1974- The Room In The Tower by E.F. Benson (34 min.)
May. ??, 1977 – Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick (55 min.)
Jun. 08, 1977 – I See A Man Sitting On A Chair And The Chair Is Biting His Leg by Harlan Ellison and Robert Sheckley (57 min.)
Jun. 22, 1977 – It by Theodore Sturgeon (57 min.)
Jun. ??, 1977 – Count Magnus by M.R. James (35 min.)
Jul. 06, 1977 – Children Of The Corn by Stephen King (71 min.)
Aug. 03, 1977 – Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman (56 min.)
Aug. 17, 1977 – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (37 min.)
Aug. 31, 1977 – Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken (46 min.)
Sep. 21, 1977 – The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood (42 min.)
Oct. 19, 1977 – Armaja Das by Joe Haldeman (44 min.)
Nov. 08, 1977 – It Only Comes Out At Night by Dennis Etchison (33 min.)
Dec. 14, 1977 – Couching At The Door by D.K. Broster (59 min.)
Dec. ??, 1977 – The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges (35 min.)
Jan. 18, 1978 – Suspicion by Dorothy L. Sayers (38 min.)
Jan. ??, 1978 – I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (41 min.)
Feb. 01, 1978 – The Gentleman From America by Michael Arlen (48 min.)
Feb. 08, 1978 – Bulkhead by Theodore Sturgeon (75 min.)
Feb. 22, 1978 – Gonna Roll The Bones by Fritz Leiber (60 min.)
Mar. 22, 1978 – Sometimes They Come Back by Stephen King (58 min.)
Apr. 05, 1978 – Three Miles Up by Elizabeth Jane Howard (42 min.)
Apr. 19, 1978 – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Fredric Brown (49 min.)
Jun. 07, 1978 – The Ash Tree by M.R. James (36 min.)
Jul. 26, 1978 – The Squaw by Bram Stoker (35 min.)
Aug. 30, 1978 – Batard by Jack London (39 min.)
Sep. 06, 1978 – The Game Of Rat And Dragon by Cordwainer Smith (37 min.)
Oct. 17, 1978 – The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson (49 min.) |MP3|
Nov. 21, 1978 – The Other Celia by Theodore Sturgeon (48 min.)
Dec. 06, 1978 – Benlian by Oliver Onions (44 min.)
Jan. 03, 1979 – Before Eden by Arthur C. Clarke (32 min.)
Jan. 31, 1979 – The Haunters and the haunted by Edward Bulwer Lytton (106 min.)
Feb. 23, 1979 – Space Rats Of The CCC by Harry Harrison (37 min.)
Apr. 03, 1979 – Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick (41 min.)
Apr. 17, 1979 – Thurnley Abby by Perceval Landon (43 min.)
???. ??, ???? – The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #220 – The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster; read by Elizabeth Klett (for LibriVox). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 13 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Professor Eric S. Rabkin, and Mr. Jim Moon.
Talked about on today’s show:
Novelette or novella, novellini?, E.M Forster wrote some Science Fiction?, genre boundaries, H.G. Wells, adventure, horror, The Time Machine, a critique of English society, dystopias, diegesis, a didactic approach, The War Of The Worlds, a bogus bifurcation of the body and the spirit (or the mind), ambiguous possibility, the “Machine” of the titles, Morlocks and Eloi, a reversal, a complement, prophetic vs. appropriate, looking through my blue plate, this book is the biggest existential critique of my lifestyle, it was lovely to meet Jim and Eric, a caricature and a critique, blackberry season, a swaddled lump of flesh, a curiously intrusive narrative technique, a fable, author backchat, in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, J.R.R. Tolkien, lampshading, breaking the fourth wall, an aural phenomena, a fable, a parable, philosophical scenarios, Plato’s Myth Of The Cave, The Republic, Socrates, ontological imaginary equivalents, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, the narrator isn’t exactly human, “back chat”, man is not necessarily the measure of all things, empiricism vs. rationalism, the unanswerable questions of the stars, everyone is a lecturer in the future, “second hand ideas”, the French Revolution not as it was but as it might be in our society, Alexander The Great’s monstrous rampage through Asia, “the juice of the individual human experience”, we have many books, books as experience generators, Ion, J.R.R. Tolkien, “there is a muse”, the rhetor, aiming out of the subterranean, why are we obsessed with essays?, SAT style essays, a quasi-Aristotelian view of happiness, what does a happy horse look like?, fleet fleets make happy shipwrights, happiness verb, man is not an animal like the others, the body doesn’t matter, man is a mind, big fat babies, the wealthy vs. the working, the bloom of Victorian society (men in sheds), a satire of academia, the Logical Positivists, natural deductive logic, Mr. Jim Moon does a lot of research, rehashing, Terry Jones, Christopher Columbus, Nathaniel Hawthorne, an unexpected continent, the North-West Passage, telling powerful and relevant, the use of the word “idea”, “forms”, Rene Descartes, interpenetration, Orion, the hunter giant,” when you give a bad podcast do you ask for euthanasia afterwards?”, you’re not there for the characters, a very erudite story, Vashti (from the Book of Esther), Purim, the worst possible kind of mother, “the book”, unmechanical, religion, what is the machine exactly?, is the machine Capitalism? Google? Wikipedia? The Internet? Communism?, the beds only come in one size, the six sided cell, a hive society, command societies, totalitarianism, “machines are in the saddle and ride mankind”, the trains make us run on time, a network of machines is the Machine, a perfected machine disallows individuality, “In the dawn of the world our weakly must be exposed on Mount Taygetus”, the worship of Helios, Ancient Greece, the homeless don’t die, despite being set in the future this is a danger in human existence, a perfect social system (utopia), an inversion of the ancient Spartan technique, not to go against the Greek, an inversion of the Garden of Eden story, in real life, a very disturbing story, a hopeful ending, a white snout, sexual competition as in Dracula, have we learned our lesson?, a passion for connection, Wall-E, infantilized adults, vomitorium, Logan’s Run, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, an anti-romantic Eden, “they give me no ideas”, “metal blind”, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, E.M. Forster invented Skype?, pneumatic tube, Paris, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the business of Science Fiction isn’t technological prediction, a totalizing synergy, the blue slates, an Edwardian future, the machine religion, humans enslaved by their own social attitude, Cory Doctorow, the mending committee doesn’t know how to fix anything, personifying and deifying the machine, Voltaire’s “The better is the enemy of the good.”, Protagoras, the Sophists, a sophist editorial cartoon, give me money and pay attention to me, an incredibly weak story with spectacularly fruitful ideas, what does it mean to say “I read something and liked it?”, The City And The Stars by Sir Arthur C. Clarke, its left to us to ponder some very deep questions, we’re not at The City And The Stars tech yet, the 1970s and the 1990s was the time for Brave New World, complementary drugs, the work and the context we read them in, recycling of knowledge and group consensus, exciting and relevant for our time, where and when we are when we first read something is important, Against The Fall Of Night, The Catcher In The Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Have Space-Suit, Will Travel, Little Brother, the civilized society and the outer savage, Dr. Eric & Mr. Moon.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Rescue Party, seems to have fans, though to my ears it seems rather like Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s worst story. Clarke is at his most unpolished in this novelette, his first sold story. It has, of course, good ideas, as we came to expect of Clarke, but is none of that deft writing. Perhaps most interestingly it is actually an inversion of the plot of one of Clarke’s best written stories, The Star and thus we could say that Rescue Party has at least a kind of a curiosity value. But that’s may be putting it too harshly, the story is pretty good despite it’s bad and lengthy writing.
That there is a full cast reading of Rescue Party seems overkill. Norm Sherman, who also does the audio production for his other podcast, the Drabblecast, has the main narration duty – perhaps you won’t notice, but I found myself hypnotized by the aspiration preceding Sherman’s every sentence – the characters are voiced by various Escape Pod alumni. And some of them seem to have added vocal distortion – I guess to make them more alieny. There are also sound effects.
By Sir Arthur C. Clarke; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Escape Pod
Podcast: June 18, 2013
“The mission was to rescue a fraction of a population – because the Galactic Union hadn’t known that Earth’s Sun had inhabited planets until too late. But they did know it was going Nova!” First published in Astounding, May 1946.
Posted by Jesse Willis