The SFFaudio Podcast #198 – Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin discuss The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.
Talked about on today’s show:
Rock Hudson, The Martian Chronicles (TV adaption), Eric’s Coursera course (Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World), The Million Year Picnic, I, Mars, The Moon Be Still As Bright, Usher II, the hot dog stand on Mars, fix-up, The Long Years (a robot family), Night Call Collect, There Will Come Soft Rains, a book of poems, novels of recurring characters, “composite novels”, “the culminating image of the whole book”, Cortez burning his ships, “were definitely going to need the daughters” (if the daughters are willing), Joanna Russ, Picnic On Paradise, The Million Year Picnic, “tamed nature”, the publisher’s motivation, Walter Bradbury, the market change (with Ballantine Books), “Mammon rules again”, the table of contents, Way In The Middle Of The Air, a more Edenic ending, 1984, North Korea, Earth Abides, the Golden Gate Bridge, getting a sense of the author, H.P. Lovecraft, colour, repetition, word choice, Spender, The Moon Be Still As Bright, Captain Wilder, the instinct to be cruel, the instinct to minimize the horror, the instinct to shoot the tomb robbers, feeling the emotion he’s trying to give us, the physics, nostalgic, seeing it from all sides, Farewell Summer, Bradbury’s gut reactions, The Martian Chronicles as a fairy tale, Isaac Asimov’s reaction, Fantasies set in space, Usher II and censorship, “the Poe machines”, the colour of Mars’ sky (blue and pink), the Martian canals, The Green Morning, Johnny Appleseed, the epigraph, “…space travel has again made children of us all.”, Christopher Columbus, the Chicken Pox plague, Another America, telepathy, the noble savage, a symbolic America, The Pedestrian, Bradbury was a strange guy, Fahrenheit 451, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Martian high culture, the second expedition, “look up in space, we could go to the Moon!”, dinosaurs!, Mars Is Heaven, Science Fiction is supposed to have knowledge in it, imagery (sight, light, and fire), the brass band, Columbia, The Gem Of The Ocean, music, Humans are technological, Martians are emotional, the window, Beautiful Ohio, music dominates (not intellectual knowledge), Genevieve Sweet Genevieve, “fully lyrical”, the fire lay in the bed and stood in the window, the dog symbolizes the entire loss of the human race, the long monologues, getting it without filtering it, The Musicians, Rocket Summer, “it made climates”, the silences, the music as a symbol for American culture, the killing spree, The Off Season parallels with the second expedition, an inversion, Bradbury has it every way, Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, Sam Parkhill, an epitome of perverted American ideals, Bradbury loves hot dogs, Dark Carnival, Something Wicked This Way Comes, mournful Mars, America by Ray Bradbury, the Wikipedia entry for The Martian Chronicles, The Taxpayer, the urge to improve, alas, the silhouettes on the house, Chernobyl vs Hiroshima, a grim meme, what gives this book it’s staying power?, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, L’Anse aux Meadows and Roanoke, maybe it’s circular, “we’re the Martians now and we will be again”, Night Meeting, Stephen Hoye narrated Blackstone Audio, Bradbury’s reading, Bradbury’s first flight, Harlan Ellison, wasting time on the internet, Ylla, The Ray Bradbury Theater, Mardi by Herman Melville, making this book cohere, what part doesn’t fit?, reading it as short stories, “it’s an American book”, robots, decommissioning is murder, Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick had a shared contempt for litterers, crassness, The Electric Ant, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, I Sing The Body Electric, Walt Whitman, “it’s the music!”, there’s no switch, gingerbread and tea, Helen O’Loy by Lester Del Rey, are there stories not included in The Martian Chronicles that should have been?, Way In The Middle Of The Air, The Other Foot, different editions of The Martian Chronicles, The Illustrated Man, The Fire Balloons, Stranger In A Strange Land, Grouch Marx (Lydia the Tattooed Lady), The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka, The Veldt, The City, Rod Steiger, Dandelion Wine, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
the Burroughs Guy podcast, Pellucidar, A Princess Of Mars, Burroughs was a dynamic writer, 1913, Barsoom series, the Tarzan series, the Pellucidar or Inner World series, The Land That Time Forgot, Tarzan is next, Tarzan goes to Pellucidar (Tarzan At The Earth’s Core), airships, Jules Verne, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Blackstone Audio, the hollow earth, lizard people, dry humour, Dian the beautiful and her brother Dekor, Abner Perry, Robert A. Heinlein, Jubal Harshaw, the well thought through world, the iron mole, an inverted world, Burroughs well lampshades the improbabilities he presents, the moon in the center of the earth (the pendant world), how does the time work in Pellucidar, the relativity of time, the naming of characters and places in Burrough’s worlds, Thoria vs. Thuria, must get loincloths, the 1976 movie version of At The Earth’s Core, princesses, romance, pet hyenadons, saggoths to shoggoth, H.P. Lovecraft, telepathy, the Mahars’ secret, Ja the king, like Robin Hood and Friar Tuck, near instant language learning, Doug McLure, Peter Cushing, a Connecticut Yankee, the pious Perry, Perry’s theory of time, colonialism, the white man’s burden, noble savage, Kull of Atlantis and Brule The Spear Slayer (the Pict), Beyond The Black River, Hooja the Sly One (an ignoble savage), the size of Pellucidar, Ringworld by Larry Niven, the Sahara, manifest density, telegaph line through to the center of the earth, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, “my prehistoric bride”, stone age tech, dinosaurs, giant fire breathing frogs, the various animals of Pellucidar, Hell is Earth, the raw food diet, a dainty cave wife, the illustrated At The Earth’s Core, ERBZine website, the vivisection/lockpicking scene, John Carter, Prince Of Persia, Peter Jackson, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, David Stifel’s filmography, Sleeper Cell, Minority Report, Gods And Generals, Jeffrey Shaara, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Gettysburg, Heaven’s Gate, G Vs. E, Six Feet Under, selling Tom Cruise drugs, David’s IMDB page, Sam Peckinpah, The Wild Bunch, Tarzan Of The Apes is next, racism, that David Stifel guy, The Land That Time Forgot, David is in George Bernard Shaw’s Heartbreak House at Theatricum Botanicum in Los Angeles!
Posted by Jesse Willis
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).
The 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:
Happy Canada Day everybody, go celebrate with some RED PANDA!
Posted by Jesse Willis
CBC’s Day 6 blog has a lengthy, November 1985, interview Ray Bradbury (conducted by Vicky Gabereau for her self titled Gabereau show). This is a terrific long-form and ramblingly awesome interview – as Bradbury himself puts it, it’s a “discussion about ideas.”
In it Bradbury talks about:
Moving out to California as a kid, how he gets around Los Angeles, his appearance on Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life, movies, directing vs. writing, Fahrenheit 451, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald, James M. Cain, Norman Mailer, a discussion about ideas, bad male drivers, Blackstone the magician, Paris, France, the American Revolutionary War, architecture, Federico Fellini, Amarcord (1973), horror movies, The Fog Horn, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Godzilla, dinosaurs, Moby Dick, William Shakespeare, John Houston, The Carrot People, The Horror Of Dracula, Christopher Lee, The Omen, Diabolique, Jean Harlow, Burns and Allen, The Trojans and sporadically his then current novel Death Is A Lonely Business.
And here’s that appearance on You Bet Your Life (featuring Ray Bradbury in a crew cut):
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #160 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Brian Murphy (of The Silver Key and Black Gate) talk about Red Nails by Robert E. Howard (read by Gregg Margarite for LibriVox). The audiobook runs 3 Hours 21 minutes and the discussion begins after that.
Talked about on today’s show:
Comics, the comic adaptation of Red Nails, Conan Saga, Savage Tales, Barry Windsor-Smith, John Buscema, Storyteller, Wolverine, the REH Comics Yahoo! Group, Beyond The Black River, Tower Of The Elephant, Karl Edward Wagner, Queen Of The Black Coast, grimness, pirates, torture, lesbianism, happy endings, “so much for that decades old gang war”, it’s Red Nails is like a Tom Baker Doctor Who serial, haunted city, a feud culture, Tolkemec’s laser, “if it bleeds we can kill it”, Conan the chauvinist, Valeria kicks ass, is the story told from Valeria’s POV?, it begins like a mystery, the “dragon” is a dinosaur (sort of), Techotl, writer shorthand, Star Trek (Let That Be Your Last Battlefield), Techotl is Gollum-like, Red Nails as a gang war, why didn’t they all get rickets and starve, Howard was the original locavore, a roofed city vs. a domed city, Hatfields vs. McCoys, the black pillar of vengeance, ConanRedNails.com, HBO can do no wrong, copyright vs. trademark, Dark Horse’s Chronicles Of Conan #4, colour and colouring, Howard as a stylist, Book X of The Odyssey, The Land of the Lotus Eaters, The Dark Man: The Journal Of Robert E. Howard Studies, using digital copies to research (control-f), Aztec, Toltecs, cannibalism, Jack London, Harold Lamb, William Morris, J.R.R. Tolkien, H.P. Lovecraft, sword and sorcery, horror, The Black Stone, Worms Of The Earth by Robert E. Howard, Tantor Media’s tantalizing collection Bran Mak Morn: The Last King, condemn Howard’s racism praise his writing, Orson Scott Card, Al Harron of The Blog That Time Forgot, Apparition In The Prize Ring by Robert E. Howard, Ace Jessel, Solomon Kane, what will we do after?, just an average weekend with laser beams, the gonzo ending of Red Nails, BrokenSea’s The Queen Of The Black Coast audio drama, Bill Hollweg, legal trouble, Sherlock Holmes, Disney’s John Carter vs. Dynamite Entertainment‘s Warlord Of Mars.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Willliam Boyd explains his love of J.G. Ballard’s short story My Dream Of Flying To Wake Island:
In the short history of the short story – not much longer than 150 years – very few writers have completely redefined the form. Chekhov, pre-eminently, but also Hemingway and Borges. JG Ballard has to be added to this exclusive list, in my opinion. Ballard’s models for his haunting stories are closer to art and music, it seems to me, than to literature. These are fictions inspired by the paintings of De Chirico and Max Ernst, which summon up the mesmerising ostinatos of Philip Glass and Steve Reich. Character and narrative are secondary – image and symbol dominate with a surreal and hypnotic intensity, and the language reflects this. Ballardian tropes – empty swimming pools, abandoned resorts, psychotic astronauts, damaged doctors, the alluring nihilism of consumer society and so forth – are unmistakably and uniquely his. “My Dream of Flying to Wake Island” is a true Ballardian classic.
This is a story you can listen to again and again.
My Dream Of Flying To Wake Island
By J.G. Ballard; Read by William Boyd
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Guardian Short Stories Podcast
Podcast: December 11, 2010
First published in Ambit #60 (Autumn, 1974).
Posted by Jesse Willis