The SFFaudio Podcast #264 – READALONG: The Martian by Andy Weir

May 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #264 – Jesse, Jenny, Tam, Julie, Bryan, and Mike discuss The Martian by Andy Weir.

Talked about in this episode:
Dust on Mars is too thin to allow for sandstorms; terpkristin says NASA would never build a faulty antenna; and we finally introduce the book; is The Martian science fiction?; the one-way Mars mission Mars One; reminiscent of Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky; Mike tracks Watney’s journey through Google Mars; why NASA picks boring locations to land their first missions; Andy Weir on Science Friday; the most far-fetched element of the book is its lack of budgetary concerns; Bradley Cooper in the film adaptation?; The Martian and Gravity have depressing implications; the novel’s (Heinleinian?) lack of character development; Mark Watney is in “full on Macgeyver mode”; most pilots are boring; many LOLs in the book; Andy Weir’s webcomic Casey and Andy; strong language in the novel; stoichiometry; feasibility of plot points; engineer-as-hero motif pitted against bureaucracy; Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum; Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe; Robinson Crusoe on Mars starring Adam West; The Makeshift Rocket by Poul Anderson, a spaceship powered by beer; From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and First Man on the Moon by H.G. Wells; Robinsoniad; Thunder and Lightning series by John Varley; Rocket Ship Galileo by Heinlein, featuring Nazis on the Moon!; the United States falling behind in the Space Race; Stephen Hawking on the dangers of artificial intelligence; Mars Attacks!; the novel’s lack of Earth focus makes it literally escapist; Heinlein’s prophetic Destination Moon; send more potatoes to space; pop culture references; “I’m a space pirate.”; The Case for Mars by Bob Zubrin, a non-fiction proposal for reaching the Red Planet; Red Mars and other Kim Stanley Robinson novels; Marooned starring Gregory Peck; GravityApollo 18, a found-footage horror film; Falling Skies; Bruce Campbell and Martin Koenig in MoontrapPrincess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs; A Walk in the Sun by Geoffrey Landis; Transit of Earth by Arthur C. Clarke bears a strong resemblance to The Martian; new party game: “You an astronaut on Mars. What’s the last music you listen to before you die?”; We Who Are About To by Joanna Russ; hope in fantasy and science fiction; Jesse hopes they don’t make a sequel; locked-room scenarios; Portal; would Earth really expend so many resources to save a single human being?; Ascent by Jed Mercurio; T-Minus: The Race to the MoonLimit by Frank Schätzing; PlanetesThe Souther Reach by Jeff VanderMeer for more botanist action; The Apollo Quartet by Ian Sales; Voyage by Stephen Baxter, dramatized by BBC Radio.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir (Mars Itinerary)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #226 – READALONG: The Iron Heel by Jack London

August 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #226 – Jesse, Jenny, and Bryan Alexander discuss The Iron Heel by Jack London.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny is not an economist, a Heinlein vibe, God Emperor Of Dune, The first half of this book is talk, a terrible novel but an interesting book, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, the distancing narrators, 700 years into the future, the audience is for seven hundred years in the future (or is that six hundred), prizefighting, grub = food, the purpose of the footnotes, The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells, Avis Everhard, alternate history, Michael Bishop, an underground book, an underground society, that Buck Rogers stuff, Armageddon—2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan, exchanging socialism for the Yellow Peril, Asgard, Seoul, set in the year 419 B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Men), A Thousand Deaths by Jack London, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, predictions, war with Germany, a surprise attack on December 4th, William Randolph Hearst, war economy as a solution to national surplus, Trotsky’s letter to Jack London, London had good reason to be a socialist, work conditions and natural disasters, a chaotic time, Jackson’s arm, race vs. class, Jack London’s racism, The Heathen by Jack London, the dog stories, class consciousness, grinding out the middle class between the 1% and the people of the abyss, The Shadow And The Flash by Jack London, manly overachievers, oligarchy doesn’t use race to divide people, do you want you fruit to be picked or not?, Japanese segregation in California classrooms, Canadian politics, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’, the quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “the military-industrial complex”, Eugene Debs, why was The Iron Heel not more popular?, The Black Hundreds, Das Kapital, Marxian fan-fiction, ‘social evolution is exasperatingly slow’, sooo sad, Marx’s essay on Napoleon III, a Darwinian model, do we live under an oligarchy?, government regulation (anti-trust and child labour laws), why socialism didn’t take hold in the early 20th century USA, Larry Summers, the Chilean cover of The Iron Heel, Salvador Allende, a novel read by revolutionaries, Science Fiction within the novel, the aesthetic end, the role of religion, the God of the Oligarchs, mostly air with a little bit of vertebra, Chicago, religious revivals and the apocalypse, Azusa Street Revival, the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake, William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst, John Waters, Cecil B. Demented, personal charisma and bulletproof arguments, Everhard is a porn star name, Benjamin Franklin, London’s didactic reading, Marx’s surplus theory of value, economy is not a science, power wins, the French Revolution, the Commonwealth of England, George Orwell’s review of The Iron Heel, 1984 is in The Iron Heel, coincidental dates, London’s insight into fascism, too much love from the strong and not enough love for the weak, Eric S. Rabkin, unmanning, ‘designed to be crucified’, father figures are destroyed, the chapter titles, The Call Of The Wild, a powerful beast is unmanned, builds up and builds through interaction with others, a sated king, a dominant primordial beast, The Sea Wolf, reading London is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart, surplus value, colonialism, the machine breakers, the trusts did not advertize, consumerism, Paul Krugman, petty bourgeoisie, the genocide of Chicago, the Paris Commune, gothic wooing, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy, the education of the oligarchy,

“They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the great beast would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without them, anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged.”

excusing colonialism, the white man’s burden, ignoring the starving masses, the Roman Empire, steampunk, Lloyd Blankfein “doing God’s work”, Margin Call, oppositional films, “The Social Network deeply hates Zuckerberg and the online world”, Nine Inch Nails, Michael Douglas, Wall Street, the cleaning lady, why isn’t The Iron Heel more generally appealing to SF readers?, British Space Opera vs. American Space Opera, Commune 2000 A.D. by Mack Reynolds, a broken utopia, job cash vs. job love, the social end of SF, the storytelling technique doesn’t attract, the unsuccessful revolution, Winston Smith’s diary, looking back when writing doesn’t have the same power, the Goldstein Book, brainwashing, the bomb in congress, spy and counterspy, Starship Troopers is a series of lectures punctuated by gunfire, Frank Herbert, “a raving genius”, doing Dune (and Dune Messiah), Chilton Books, the boot crushing the human face forever, the leaky suspense, a Norton critical edition, how to record The Iron Heel, the footnotes are problematic, a crazy wild marvelous book, WWI, WWII, Metropolis, armoured cars or tanks, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, a terrifying future found in a cave written on leaves, A Journal Of The Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Idiocracy, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, on Lenin’s deathbed he was read Jack London, The Cold Equations, To Build A Fire, The Empire Strikes Back,

“The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow.”

cosmic and Lovecraftian, as snug as a Jedi in a hot tauntaun, Robert Sheckley, Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

The Iron Heel by Jack London (Viva Allende)

The Iron Heel by Jack London - Capital V. Labour

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Sailing Alone Around The World by Joshua Slocum

June 10, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Sailing Alone Around The World by Joshua SlocumSailing Alone Around The World
By Joshua Slocum; Read by Alan Chant
1 |M4B|, 22 Zipped MP3 Files, or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 9, 2007
|ETEXT|
Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world alone in a small boat. He personally rebuilt an 11.2 metre sloop-rigged fishing boat that he named the Spray. On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston, Massachusetts. More than three years later, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898 having circumnavigated the world, a distance of 46,000 miles (74,000 km). In 1899 he described the voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World now considered a classic of travel literature. It is a wonderful adventure story from the Age of Sail and a book of which Arthur Ransome declared, “boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once.”

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/sailing-alone-around-the-world-by-joshua-slocum.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

I was listening to an episode of the CBC Radio One Ideas podcast, entitled Sailing Alone Around The World |MP3|, and was struck by the story of the first man to do that very thing. The program uses excerpts from Slocum’s book of the same name, and interviews those modern solitary sailors who’ve followed in Slocum’s wake. The fact that, in some sections of the sea, the next nearest human being to a lone sailor might be someone on the International Space Station, was an astounding revelation to me. The fact that there have been fewer solitary circumnavigators than there have been people in space, also astounding. So, not even half-way through the show I set my sights on LibriVox, where I searched for, found, and downloaded an M4B of the audiobook.

Slocum was an Canadian by birth and a naturalized American. In the late 19th century, upon finding himself out of work (the age of coal powered ships had begun in earnest), Slocum found there was no more call for a tall ship captain. One day Slocum finds himself having been gifted with an aged sloop. And so he sets about refitting it, hires himself out to himself plans to write a book (serialized in the Century magazine), loads up his cabin with food, supplies and lots of books, and sets sail on a solitary circumnavigation of the planet earth.

What he finds in the adventure is, simply put, real adventure! Slocum is alone for the entire trip except for The Spray itself, Slocum’s sloop, which is full of emotions (it feels happy when the sailing is good, and becomes anxious when in port too long). Similarwise he has a few passengers, there’s a hungry goat, a sneaky bilge rat, and a long suffering spider (it meets another just like it half a planet away from where it was born).

In his more than three years at sea Slocum meets with ship thieves, admirals, colonial governors, the widow (and adopted son) of Robert Louis Stevenson, friendly natives, hostile natives, officious bureaucrats, friendly bureaucrats, storms, reefs, sickness, and even a ghost!

Along the way he salute’s the sea god Neptune, ports at many memorable anchorages, including the island of the real life inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk), and becomes an international celebrity.

Slocum’s narrative is helped by his enjoyable sense of humor and hindered by his prejudices. And while the various characters that he meets in the book may sometimes benefit from Slocum’s breezy writing style I got no real sense of the other side of the story. Incidents with thieves, one man steals his pistol, and one South American boy tries to steal his ship, come across as far less frightening than they might really have been. Indeed, there’s something of a deliberate storyteller to this travel narrative, something which reminds me of Sławomir Rawicz’s extraordinary adventure memoir The Long Walk (it may have been entirely made up). That said, the documentation seems far more present, and the journey here does seem to have actually occurred.

Narrator Alan Chant has an English accent and a relaxed reading style. There’s a bit of background noise in the recording, but the audio is very serviceable. Each chapter begins and ends with a bit of seabird song. Recommended.

A Brush With Fuegians

The Voyage Of The Spray

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #201 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

February 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #201 – The Inn (aka Ulrich The Guide) by Guy de Maupassant, read by Mirko Stauch. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mirko.

Talked about on today’s show:
Where and why, more and more Maupassant, is there a definitive list of Guy de Maupassant SFF stories?, German translations, the BBC audio drama adaptation of The Inn, RadioArchive.cc, a ghost story, the twist in the end or the twist middle, great writing, an ambiguous ghost story, a psychological happening, the dog’s reaction, revenant, “it becomes the monster”, Louise Hauser, is Ulrich dead?, Gaspard, The Others, Maupassant tricks us, “they bury themselves”, Ulrich is punished for no reason, the voice, white noise, Ulrich’s religious beliefs, Cologne on a cold night, the ravens!, the audio drama improves on the short story!, a filling metaphor, “the immense ocean of pale mountain summits”, mainstream, the vertical issue, Wolfgang von Goethe, “only a very stable character”, a proto-cosmic horror, The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft, a Christmas story, describing nature, the second meaning, “arose from the snow itself”, “he’s alone on the Moon”, being alone, cabin fever, we are alone in the cosmos, community allows us to hide from the harsh truth, gambling, “I would have brought a bunch of books”, “illiterate mountain peasants”, a lonely island, did Gaspard fall into a crevasse?, nature is the monster, the unknown is more terrifying, the terror of the soul, undeserved guilt, “eighteen degrees of frost”, “he was of a sleepy nature”, 1886, Guy de Maupassant visited the Alps, riddled with disease, the Inn at Schwarenbach, The Shining by Stephen King, an internal flaw, “he could speak no human words”, Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, Perry Rhodan, Silent Running, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the dog as a symbol, the dog as a companion, the importance of routine for the lonely, the demon of loneliness, “all is busy work before the grave”, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Castaway, The Piece Of String (aka The Piece Of Yarn), “eating a sandwich that you find on the sidewalk”, he dies alone and unloved, “two feets”, every Norman is trapped in disbelief, it could have happened to us!, his hair turned white, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the unseen”, “the outer blackness”, able to appreciate the immensity of reality, Honey Boo Boo, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Call Of Cthulhu, “when I think of H.P. Lovecraft I don’t think of immense tentacles.”

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

Ulrich The Guide by Guy de Maupassant

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 4: In Our Time: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

December 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time with Melvyn BraggThe latest BBC Radio 4 In Our Time podcast, dated December 22, 2011, is a discussion of Daniel Defoe‘s Robinson Crusoe. Did you know that the novel was originally published pseudonymously? Or that Defoe wasn’t actually born with the name Defoe, but rather “Foe”? (he added the “De”). As usual In Our Time‘s podcast is a quick solid introduction to a fascinating topic. Here’s the official description:

“Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe. Published in 1719, it was an immediate success and is considered the classic adventure story – the sailor stranded on a desert island who learns to tame the environment and the native population. Robinson Crusoe has been interpreted in myriad ways, from colonial fable to religious instruction manual to capitalist tract, yet it is perhaps best known today as a children’s story. Melvyn Bragg is joined by Karen O’Brien, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education at the University of Birmingham; Judith Hawley, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London and Bob Owens, Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the Open University.”

|MP3|

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iot/rss.xml

Thank you very much British taxpayers!

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio Challenge #6

November 11, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

The SFFaudio Challenge Number SixTHE CHALLENGE:
This is our 6th Annual SFFaudio Challenge. Every November 11th, for the last six years, we’ve offered the following challenge to SFFaudio readers:

“We’ll give you an audiobook if you make one for everyone else.”

That deal still holds. We’ll get you an audiobook if you make make an audiobook out of one of the public domain etexts we suggest. All you’ll need to do is claim a title (by email), record the audiobook, using your own human voice (sorry no robots), and follow the rules (see the first comment of this post for the rules). Some titles will not be public domain in all countries, but this is a global challenge. We’ve also added, for the very first time, a French language title!

Still feeling a little unclear on how it all works? Then have a look at our past SFFaudio CHALLENGES:

|OUR FIRST CHALLENGE|
|OUR SECOND CHALLENGE|
|OUR THIRD CHALLENGE|
|OUR FOURTH CHALLENGE|
|OUR FIFTH CHALLENGE|

PRIZES:
Tantor MediaThis year we’re doing something a bit different with prizes, something better. Instead of offering those unwieldy physical copies we’ve got DRM-FREE MP3 downloads for you! This not only saves us on postage it also allows for a much greater selection of audiobooks! For each audiobook you complete, you can choose one of more than 1,300 titles available! All prizes this year come courtesy of Tantor Media.

CHALLENGE TITLES:
The Friendly Demon (aka The Devil Frolics With A Butler) by Daniel Defoe |HORRORMASTERS|PDF| (short story)

Seventh Victim by Robert Sheckley |PDF| (short story)*

CLAIMED BY CAINE DORR NOVEMBER 12, 2011

Untouched By Human Hands (aka One Man’s Poison) by Robert Sheckley |PDF| (short story)*

Writing Class by Robert Sheckley |RTF| (short story)*

CLAIMED AND COMPLETED BY WILLIAM COON (of Elquoent Voice) ON NOVEMBER 13, 2011

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel |GUTENBERG| (novel)

City At World’s End by Edmond Hamilton |ARCHIVE.ORG| (novel)

The Common Man by Mack Reynolds |GUTENBERG| (short story)

The Ship Of Ishtar by A. Merritt |GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA| (novel)

Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft |WIKISOURCE|GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA| (essay)

Almuric by Robert E. Howard |WIKILIVRES|GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA| (novel)

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell |GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA| (novel)

Animal Farm by George Orwell |GUTENBERG AUSTRALIA| (novel)

Empire by Clifford D. Simak |GUTENBERG| (novel)**

CLAIMED BY BILL KIRBY ON JANUARY 3, 2012

The Great Potlatch Riots by Allen Kim Lang |GUTENEBERG| (short story)

The Dominion In 1983 by Ralph Centennius |GUTENBERG| (30 pages)

Ten From Infinity by Paul W. Fairman |GUTENBERG| (novel)

CLAIMED BY KAREN SAVAGE ON NOVEMBER 11, 2011

No Great Magic by Fritz Leiber |GUTENBERG| (short story)

CLAIMED BY DANIEL GURZYNSKI ON NOVEMBER 21, 2011

The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth |RTF| (novel)*

CLAIMED BY MARK NELSON ON NOVEMBER 13, 2011

Our first French audiobook:

La Vie Électrique by Albert Robida |GUTENBERG| (novel)

So, who wants to sign up?

[*With special thanks to Rick Jackson of Wonder Publishing for selection advice **This etext was part of SFFaudio Challenge #2, but wasn't completed]

Posted by Jesse Willis