The SFFaudio Podcast #306 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe

March 2, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall Of The House Of Usher
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #306 – The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe; read by Mike Vendetti. This is an unabridged reading of the story (49 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, Bryan Alexander, and Mike Vendetti

Talked about on today’s show:
LibriVox.org, Audible.com, a Reader’s Digest version, a ponderous vocabulary, prolixity, Poe the hoaxer, the part of him that invented the mystery short story, a corpse flower, this is what Lovecraft does, “he’s done his research!”, words made by mad men, mapping the elephant’s outline, the movies, the comics, the Wikipedia entry, The Haunted Palace by H.P. Lovecraft, the Roger Corman movie, the poem is the outline for the story, the history of the house of usher, dead trees with white trunks, New Jersey, the lutes well tuned law, porphyrogene – “born to the purple”, synecdoche, a photo negative, upside down and inverted, golden banners, the fungi, The Tell Tale Heart, The Bells, a republic society in love with aristocracy and royalty, The Masque Of The Red Death is a dystopia, Hop Frog, “its beautiful … but horrible things happen”, John Buchan, broken off pieces of themselves, Thomas A. Shippey, the Vatican astronomer, no titles allowed anymore, Queen Elizabeth II, Br. Guy Consolmagno, absentee royalty, a super-mix, “evil things in robes of sorrow”, entombed, equating architecture and person, you can’t separate Roderick from his sister, “I heard it man”, why did he dare not speak?, buried alive, twins and twinning, the 1989 adaptation of The Fall Of The House Of Usher, why they can’t just tell the story in adaptations, this is hospice care, was Roderick tormented by his twin sister?, I see a skull, the house is a skull, the trees are ribs or arm bones, a ghost, dying of old age, reason, rationality, Guy de Maupassant’s Who Knows, the furniture represents the faculties, the end of The Life Of Pi, the miasma, an unhealthy atmosphere, in awe of Poe, Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O’Connor, the Usher stump, the stump of the tree of Jesse, a tottering mind, everything’s lined with copper, a Frankenstein motif, a long family line of incest, “it had put forth no enduring branch”, “so lain”, viewing it as a story about incest, set in the location of Hammer Horror, Middle Lovecraft, seeing Lovecraft through Poe, a cyclopean vocabulary, H.P. Lovecraft’s Favorite Weird Tales edited by Douglas A. Anderson, crazy complicated sentences, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, CraftLit, the prologue to The Scarlet Letter, reading Poe aloud, Supernatural Horror In Literature, oral cadence, the very summits of artistry, fictional miniaturists, Ligeia, another dead woman story, so Lovecraft, he loves his architecture, “sharing a single soul”, the crack, “the eye of a scrutinizing observer”, laughing out loud, the unnamed narrator is of the same class as Roderick, context for the story, science stories, buried alive stories, The Pit And The Pendulum, sense experience, again New Jersey, Italy, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, weird fiction out to wazoo, why do they do that?, demented messed up stories, Young Goodman Brown, Rappaccini’s Daughter, supernatural elements, sense experience, an utter depression of soul, the after dream of the reveler upon opium, the dropping of the veil, the veil of dreams, the after-dream is after the dream?, the veil is beautiful, a shout-out to Thomas de Quincey, crawling fungi, red-litten windows, “laugh but smile no more”, coffin worms, creeping into the crypt to often, The Conqueror Worm, a foreshadowing, reasons for laughter vs. reasons for smiling, the hideous throng, Usher II by Ray Bradbury, premature burial, Buried (2010), The Death of Olivier Bécaille by Emile Zola, Weird Tales, Poe is a hilarious writer, punning and japing, Mad Trist by Sir Launcelot Canning, Dead Families 101, How To Repair Your Doomed House, The Man Who Collected Poe by Robert Bloch, wacky moments, The Cask Of Amontillado, deGrave wine, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, Jervas Dudley as one of the Usher descendants, a lot more Poey, there are not a lot of sisters in Lovecraft, The Moon Pool by A. Merritt, The Moon Bog by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Rice Burroughs, comparing Poe to Lovecraft, The Narrative Of Arthur Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, The Dreams In The Witch House, the novella (short story) vs. the novel, it starts off as a horror tale, What The Moon Brings, Ireland, a little bit ushery,

The Fall Of The House Of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe
The Fall Of The House Of Usher - illustration by Russell Hoban (1963)
Pocket Classics - The Fall Of The House Of Usher
House Of Usher (1960)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #304 – READALONG: Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick

February 16, 2015 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #304 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1959, New worlds, the Wikipedia entry, the New Worlds triptych, facial tattoos, A Clockwork Orange, Back To The Future II, body modification, terrible lifestyle choices, patois, Ragle Gumm, drugs, themes, the most 1950s story ever, Marilyn Monroe, fear of nuclear war, why keep evolving the culture?, no radio, Lawrence Olivier, The Prince And The Showgirl (1957), The SF Masterworks cover, Life magazine, The Truman Show (1998), pens, Mrs. Kittlebine is a Lunar spy, the model, the planted magazines, who was Ragle’s minder, The Prisoner, Mr. Black’s real wife, Philip K. Dick was extremely interested in cheating wives, marital infidelity, the breakdown of the nuclear family, being a writer, “your channeling yourself here Phil”, living in a false reality, mental illness, The Thirteenth Floor (1999), a horror trope, The Matrix (1999), Craig Bierko is a leading man from an alternate universe, “everything is a little off”, the colour palettes are off, very 1999ish, the future (2024) is the present, a much more coherent Matrix, it came from an alternate world, a little too much dancing, eXistenZ (1999), The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod, The Tunnel Under The World by Frederik Pohl (from 1955), running advertizing experiments, what is the purpose of simulated worlds?, rough day at work? … go out and be a serial killer (in a simulated world), they’re working from home (like Ragle Gumm), The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, Pohl worked on Madison Ave., robots, was the world physically real?, the slips of paper, the bus isn’t quite really there, the bus station, the solider, endless problems, progress is never made, one step forward three steps back, the diner, the malt, is he on a treadmill with hypnosis?, are they in drawers?, it’s in Wyoming, Kemmerer, Wyoming, technically insane, more insane?, Brazil (1985), Sucker Punch (2011), which reality is real?, any clues?, there’s no satisfaction, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, stacked problems, the guy learning to be a patrolman, the bus driver who doesn’t know how to drive a bus, they’re actors, brainwashing, falling through the cracks, mirrored scenes, ‘it borrows unapologetically’, thinking hard, we’re all happy at the end of The Truman Show, the outside world, our future is in the stars, Time Out Of Joint could never be a Hollywood movie, imagine The Truman Show minus the love interest, conservative endings, science class in a fake high school, there’s no existential crisis, Truman’s soul, he wanted to be an explorer, shilling the products, product placement, his happy ending is to escape the simulation, the rich father-in-law, 0% crime, how would they know?, turtles all the way up?, the granddaddy of all these stories, Hamlet, William Shakespeare was the original meta-man, to catch the conscience of the King, The Taming Of The Shrew‘s induction, Christopher Sly, it’s Trading Places (1983), a very weird framing device, plays within plays, Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, a really good conversation, Dick’s worst books, Dick’s early books, Dr. Futurity, Eye In The Sky, carbon tetrachloride, coffee, the lasagna, existential crises, after his safe was blown up, an invitation from V-Con, X-Kalay, pretending to be a heroin addict, amphetamines, a mind like a Ferrari, Dick’s unsold mainstream novels, suburban 1950s reality falling apart, Ragle Gumm’s name, a character named Phil, half a prison of his own making, choosing to return to reality, the power station, The Kettlemen’s, surreal and weird, based on a real incident, monitoring devices, a mad person ranting, are they faking?, how brainwashed can they be?, borderlands, defense in depth, “this is Ragle Gumm”, the whole business with the light-cord, “I have to get back to my base,” he said. “Phil and I have to be in by eight o’clock or we’re AWOL.”, “Is that you Wade?”, author insert, post-it notes, 3M, “soft drink stand”, “SOFT-DRINK STAND, DOOR, FACTORY BUILDING, HIGHWAY, DRINKING FOUNTAIN, BOWL OF FLOWERS”, virtual reality, so intuitive, pattern recognition skills, nonsense, white noise, paranoid psychosis, another Jim Carrey movie, The Number 23 (2007), creepy and weird, on the list, Virginia Madsen, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004), Adjustment Bureau vs. Adjustment Team, a dog falls asleep, a talking dog, the least good, Imposter (2001), the short film, the original story, a robot that thinks its a scientist, why him?, Total Recall, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, implanted memories, don’t watch the remake, machinations, a secret agent, false endings, which story is the real one?, sitting on a park bench, why is this whole world being built up?, consider the scene…, the fake pressure, even if…, back to Shakespeare, the whim of a Lord, an essential skill, for advertizing, Rene Descartes, cogito ergo sum, imagine an evil demon, post-religious people, we don’t require a purpose, our purpose is to read Philip K. Dick books and drink coffee and watch old movies, a poetic polish by J. Michael Straczynski, Bishop Berkeley, its not a toaster its a post it with the word “toaster” on it, a rock on the dark side of the Moon’s existence isn’t contingent on our perception of it, God perceives everything, the elevator scene, their building up the world as it goes, Dick’s thinking hard and we’re thinking with him, the object or the word, Friedrich Nietzsche, Tibor McMasters from Deus Irae, “this book [Time Out Of Joint] doesn’t end it disintegrates” -Frederik Pohl, missing words, narrator Jeff Cummings, this book requires more study or less, 110.5 slips of paper, the Truman Show delusion, why they’re Tweeting so much, Skype is completely transparent to the NSA (computers), The Thirteenth Floor is beautiful to look at, what our reality is like, computer games, not knowing the difference, does the world (the GAME SERVER) exist when you’re not playing it?, what if it’s robots (AIs) running around in there?, Minecraft, when they built an 8-bit computer inside Minecraft, a giant physical object in a simulated world, there will be a computer program inside the Minecraft computer that can run Minecraft, what’s wrong with The Thirteen Floor, the time is wrong, a simulated world within a simulated world would take more time every time they go up a level, assuming the laws of physics, Inception does that, an infinity of time as a moment, all Science Fiction can be tied together by this novel, is it a Masterwork, it itself is not luminous but it is a conductor of light, it feels very inspired by, a good book for people who’d never read Science Fiction, a peek behind the curtain of reality.

BELMONT Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick
Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Brian Lewis
Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick, 1959
Zeit Aus En Fugen (Time Out Of Joint) GERMAN
Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick (FRENCH)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #300 – READALONG: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

January 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #300 – Jesse, Jenny, and Paul talk about Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny Beta+, Paul (caste unknown), f-minus, double plus, A-, Beta-, 1932, double plus good, a different dystopia, Orwell read Brave New World, the Aldous Huxley radio drama (CBS Radio Workshop), negative utopia, Nineteen-Eighty Four is hella-dystopia, Paul has read Brave New World five times, drugs and sex and happiness, conditioning, programming, society engineered, identifying with Bernard, Helmholtz, the Falkland Islands, Huxley’s introduction to the CBS Radio Dramatization, 200 years (not 600) in the future, why so obsessed with Henry Ford?, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, Christ, Marx, Wood, and Wei, Henry Ford as a political and intellectual force, efficiency, modernization, consumerism, pricing the model-t, absenteeism equals losses, Brave New World‘s society is about production efficiency, the 1998 TV movie, what society really is, no Helmholtz, Henry Foster, Lenina, Peter Gallagher, the 1980 TV movie, 1990s hipsters, the reservation, white trash zone, the outlands of Zardoz with mini-vans, The Children Of Men, Los Angeles, very few deviations in the 1980 TV movie, pushing the Shakespeare connection, whatever happened to Lenina?, a definite weakness, Mustapha Mond gave John Savage the conflict he really wanted, I want to be unhappy, the ultimate political act, the suicide solution, the little boy with the cotton balls in his ears, the hope for reform, the stability of the society, an interesting change, how unstable is the social structure, more soma, more conditioning, A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven, hydrolic empires, John as a catalyst, society returns to normalcy, soma rations forever, freethinkers are sent to outlying islands, an Omni magazine story about dissident clones being killed again and again, Edge Of Tomorrow (2014), cloning novels, this is the cloning novel, “it’s clones all the way down”, the caste-system tells us this is a dystopia, seeing the world from the alpha point of view, betas vs. alphas, are betas autistic?, the 1998 adaptation, intelligent, high-producing, and efficient, mentored and disciples, sex-slaves and baby-makers, good tech, the Malthusian belt, helicopters, WWII, a proto-flying car, their Model-T, the sign of the T, “switching on the synthetic music”, the visual medium, the character names, Bernard Marx probably isn’t named after Groucho Marx, Bernard is pathetic by the end, George Bernard Shaw, Lenin -> Lenina, Darwin Bonaparte, Mustafa Mond <- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, so much Shakespeare, the audiobook is a weird experience, an infantilized world, I drink to the greater being, the plot, the scent organ, the feelies, the perfume tap fauceting cologne all day, drinking fountains full of Shasta, a constantly refilled mini-bar, the economy in Brave New World, overturning the soma tables, want what you can have, deltas, epsilons, the purple eyes, Amazon Prime for soma tablets, drone delivery, Lenina’s obsession, chastity means neurasthenia, plenty of pleasant vices, “engaging”, oiling the machine, a male fantasy utopia, women never say no, “promiscuity is a citizen’s duty”, no females above beta (in the book), yellow from lupus, social hierarchy, male dominance, John the Savage is sexist too, a product of Huxley’s time, a flash of semi-nudity, why the book gets banned -> children engaging in erotic play, the downfall of TV movie versions, how the world is, books old ideas and marriage are pornographic, “motherfather!”, “fight!”, “hate!”, everyone comes from a bottle, mother as a dirty word, outed as a father, a shameful thing, Miguel Ferrer was re-engineered as a delta, a Machiavellian character turned into a smiling idiot, Linda’s story, the reaction to her appearance, the Death Center, ice-cream when someone dies, such strong pathos, death brings us phosphorus, the 1998 Linda, Tommykins, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, the first test-tube baby, birth control, freemartins, a sterilization bonus, Brave New World Revisited (is non-fiction), Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, an expanding horrible utopia, growing up in the soviet union what would we think of Brave New World?, power and control, I love Big Brother, rewind ten years, people are drugging themselves up with drugs TV and the internet, a spy-biography, why don’t they care more about the outlying society, communism, when everyone shares the vision, a step to becoming Mustapha Mond, 1984-ish, assimilation has a cost, the island of all alphas, engineered to be in that place, the temptation of the reader is subversive, are we doing this stuff?, I wanna be more like Helmholtz, Marx gets co-opted by Mond, the shit-disturbers become the leaders in This Perfect Day, you have to see it to believe it, look we’re in the future!, a sick enjoyment, no sense that this world can be destroyed, the benefit of social instability, why Shakespeare is still relevant, we have the analogues for kings and merchant princes, the feelies, a cross-between pornography and reality television, Idiocracy (2006), Three Weeks In A Helicopter, farts, one human need, surrogate pregnancy, violent passion surrogate, The Prisoner‘s secret club within a club, more surreal than it is about something, spies be weird, suddenly in dreamland with giant breasts chasing you down the beach, the world is still for men, we’ve done We and Nineteen Eighty Four

Brave New World (1980)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #294 – READALONG: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

December 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #294 – Jesse, Jenny Colvin, and Tamahome talk about This Perfect Day by Ira Levin.

Talked about on today’s show:
1970, swearing, watch your “fighting language”, think about things before treatments, like Brave New World‘s soma, the incurables vs. the savages, a stratified society vs. a flattened society, sex once a week, Marxmas and Christmas, the computer shapes little boy Li, the computer trains the society, controlling by giving a semblance of control, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, no friction, top-speed, Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, Bob Wood, Li Wei, Vulcan philosophers, a cross and a sickle instead of a hammer and a sickle, not exactly a Communist utopia/dystopia, a communist takeover of the entire planet, movies and TV shows about Marx every year, no spirituality, Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, did the good guy win in the end?, the rape scene, Rosemary’s baby-daddy is Satan, what will happen after Chip blows everything up?, when Wei is eating, the focus on the food, the high programmers, the turn/plot twist, the gold toilet fixtures, silk clothing, fuck is a nice word, you’re not free, free of aggression, how will they feed everyone, the YouTube video, The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth, the Prometheus Award, books that examine the meaning of freedom, Ayn Rand, four ideologies combined, what they took from Christ, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, Wei addressing the chemotherapists, who is Wood?

Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei,
Led us to this perfect day.
Marx, Wood, Wei and Christ,
All but Wei were sacrificed.
Wood, Wei, Christ and Marx,
Gave us lovely schools and parks.
Wei, Christ, Marx and Wood,
Made us humble, made us good.

body part swapping, improvements in the society, the last injection you get is fatal, you become a net loss to society after a certain point, baby boomers getting older, the diseases of aging, the totalcakes and cokes for lunch, Jenny is baking total cakes for Marxmas!, Li’s spilling a coke on a leaf, eureka!, how he got the idea to avoid treatment, there is no Pepsi, there’s no Dr Pepper, the symbol of a leaf in the shape of a man, Jenny always ignores metaphors, was the grandfather in a secret society?, you don’t forget, ecstasy , athletes and drugs, the influence machine, television as a drug, revisionist history, there’s no NEWS, it’s very North Korea, how did you claim the ticket?, a book about mental illness, replace sickness with sin and the entire novel is about religion, self-reporting, “No, thank uni.”, “they’re all snitches”, the f-word is fight, “everybody loves fucking”, hate is a bad word, objectivism is exactly selfish, selfishness and fear, it’s their Galt’s Gulch, the whole smoking thing, the perks of the programmer class, the fantasy of libertarianism, “you the unrecognized superman”, a dystopia, we’ve got our magic super-power stuff, Atlas Shrugged, reardon metal, people are aliens, men trying to control women bodies, two ambiguously dystopic societies, a powerful book with a lot to think about, more Animal Farm than Nineteen Eighty-Four, We, Brave New World has a boring, stupid and depressing plot (so let’s do a podcast on it!), a neglected novel, Planet Of The Apes, Logan’s Run, Paranoia (the Role Playing Game), THX-1138, The Call Of Cthulhu RPG, the new Paranoia Kickstarter, the book for the blind audiobook, rape in quotation marks, The Matrix, Soylent Green, Gattaca, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Equilibrium, “live in that horrible world”, the women’s names: Anna, Mary, Peace and Yin, if you were living in this world which society would you want to live in or would you overthrow it?, keep getting mad, keep being proactive, aren’t we done talking about it yet?, King’s suicide, your old gray head, the secret sleeper spies, a mental asylum run by the patients, Cuban refugees fleeing Castro, this book is about our world, any ideology you have ought to be thrown to the dirt, the schizophrenia TV focus, Facebook becomes our island, dumping buckets of ice, Ferguson, New York, this book feels alien, the goal of communism, wouldn’t it be interesting if we all were actually equal, father knows best, blowing up airports seems crazy, a hard one, people only want you to think for yourself when it doesn’t effect them, Pierre Boulle.

Fawcett - This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Peripheral by William Gibson

December 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The Peripheral by William Gibson audiobook coverThe Peripheral
By William Gibson; Narrated by Lorelei King
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 28 October 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 14 hours, 5 minutes

Themes: / future / time travel / drugs / veterans / crime /

Publisher summary:

Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veteran’s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC’s elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but there’s a job he’s supposed to do – a job Flynne didn’t know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. He’s supposed to get in their way, edge them back. That’s all there is to it. He’s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isn’t what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.

Reading a new William Gibson novel is both delightful and exciting. He delights with the cool, sardonic yet imaginative visions of the present and future. He excites with his uncanny glimpses of the future, grounded in canny selections from our time.

The Peripheral offers another pleasure, that of Gibson trying something new. His recent brace of novels looked at the very near future, each following a normal linear path. His classic cyberpunk or Sprawl trilogy envisioned a medium-term future, also tending to thriller linearity.

But in The Peripheral we see a very different conceit and narrative structure. This novel relies on two timelines, one in the near-to-medium term future, and one almost a century away. At first we follow these in parallel, trying to infer connections. Then we learn that the further-along future has discovered a form of time travel – well, information exchange with the past, to be precise. The far-future signals the closer-to-us future, and has a proposition. Or two. Then more, which aren’t propositions but assassinations.

This dual-track time-travel-ish idea owes much to Gregory Benford’s 1980 novel Timescape. Other parallels appear; see spoiler section at the bottom of this post.

The future-near-to-us characters are also the more sympathetic. They focus on a young, poor Southern woman, Flynn Fisher, and her family. They live in a postwar backwater, where the economy barely exists apart from illegal drug manufacture. Flynn helps her vet brother, Burton, with an online job and witnesses what seems to be a strange murder. In the future-farther-away we see a PR flack, Wilf Netherton, working with a Russian crime family and their staff. Wilf has made an unspecified bad move, and is trying to improve his situation.

The plot ratchets up slowly and steadily to climax in a party, where multiple schemes intersect. Some, not all, is revealed, and the Fishers end up alive, very rich, and with a powerful edge on their present. Wilf somehow survives, and ends up in a relationship. This is too brisk and cursory a summary, but will do for now.

One of the pleasures of reading William Gibson is tracking his experimental words and phrases. These are concentrated projections of a possible future. Let me list some that caught my eye: klepts, artisanal AIs, battle-ready solicitors, court-certified recall, the viz, hate Kegels, autonomic bleedover, continua enthusiasts, drop bears, period trains, neo-primitivist curators, quasi-biological megavolume carbon collectors, heritage diseases, directed swarm weapons, a synthetic bullshit implant, surprise funeral, mofo-ettes, and a neurologer’s shop. One near-future treat is the “freshly printed salty caramel cronut”.

Some of today’s words mutate in these two futures. For example, poor folks don’t cook, but build drugs with some form of 3d printers. “Homes” refers not to homies or residences, but to Homeland Security. A very bad crisis happened between now and 2025 or so. People afterwards refer to it as the Jackpot.

Some of the language is simply cute. One character has her name changed slightly, and refers to it as “amputating the last letter of her name.” Another speaks of “cleaning up the afterbirth of Christmas ornaments”. The Fisher family shops at a Hefty Mart.

In a sense The Peripheral is Gibson’s gloomiest novel. Like the recent film Interstellar (my notes), this story begins in a bad situation, then gets worse. The Fishers are poor and ill (the brother has seizures, the mother seriously ailing) in a society that clearly doesn’t care for them at all. Their story reads like something from a late 19th-century Southern backwater, or like today’s worst countryside. Characters have little help for the future. What we learn about the Jackpot not only makes things horrible, but sets up a future that’s inhumane. Across all of these times looms the specter of vast economic inequality, of a society caring only for the <1%.

There is a powerful sense that the far-future is a kind of 1% taken to an extreme: a lonely elite, casually breaking off temporal worlds as a hobby, easily committing murders. Our lack of information about the world around London’s far-future elite disturbs me, the more I think of it. Conversely, the far-future world is situated in such total surveillance that they see our/Flynn’s sense of surveillance as charmingly antique.

Overall, The Peripheral offers solid future thought in an engaging narrative. Recommended.

I didn’t read this one, but listened to it on audiobook. Lorelei King was the reader and did a fine job, with the whole file running a touch over 14 hours. King does different nationalities well, which matters in the kind of multinational world Gibson loves. She reads with the right level of cool, too – not a thriller’s burning pace, but with a kind of observation acuity that I always associate with Gibson.

SPOILER SECTION

Here I reveal mysteries of the novel.  Do not read any farther if you wish your brain to remain unsullied.

Ready?

Here they come:

First, more on the plot: one agency in the far-off future is manipulating the past for its own reasons, and hires the Fishers as proxies. Another far-off-future group hires others to kill the Fisher family. Ainsley Lowbeer, a London cop, or something like that, appears in the far-future, with unusual connections to the Fishers’ time. Flynn and Burton are able to interact with their far-future employers via telepresence robots, the titular peripherals. Wilf explains the Jackpot to Flynn, describing a series of interconnected, overlapping crises that killed the majority of humans:

droughts, water shortages, crop failures, honeybees gone like they almost were now, collapse of other keystone species, every last alpha predator gone, antibiotics doing even less than they already did, diseases that were never quite the one big pandemic but just big enough to be historic events in themselves…

Flynn also learns that by intervening in her time, the far-future team has effectively broken off her world from the stream of time, creating a “stub” which can’t affect their future, and avoiding neatly some classic time travel problems.

Second, how does this gloomy novel end, then? Ah, it’s a happy ending, pretty much, although we don’t learn enough about what happens in the future. We – well, the Fisher stub – get to avoid the Jackpot. Whew!

But Gibson doesn’t want us to relax. Note his comments in a Tor interview:

there may be readers who get to the end and they go, “oh, well, that’s okay, everything worked out for them!”
… But these guys had an immensely powerful—if possibly dangerously crazy—fairy godmother who altered their continuum, who has for some reason decided that she’s going to rake all of their chestnuts out of the fire, so that the world can’t go the horrible it way it went in hers. And whatever else is going to happen, that’s not going to happen for us, you know? We’re going to have to find another way. We’re not going to luck into Lowbeer.

Worse, the Fishers seem like good folks. But what will keep them (or their inheritors) from becoming klepts, with their vast power and advantages?

So this book ends up as a cautionary tale, a huge warning, and a goad to get us hauling ourselves away from the Jackpot.

Third, I mentioned earlier that The Peripheral has links to Benford’s Timescape.  Benford’s future world is facing an existential crisis, due to events occurring in the past, so they reach out to communicate with the past to get them to change their ways. Gibson’s far-future has already experienced the Jackpot, but some of the survivors want to change the past to mitigate the experience. I dimly recall Benford’s future coming to an end, somehow, and the past branching off into a new, better world. This recalls Flynn’s world cutting its way into a different, hopefully non-Jackpotted world.

Posted by Bryan A.

The SFFaudio Podcast #291 – READALONG: Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

November 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #291 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa van Uden talk about Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, first serialized as All We Marsmen, a pair of boxing insects, threads that lead nowhere, “a wonderful train-wreck of a novel”, the two audiobook versions, repeating scenes are disconcerting in the audiobook, repeating moments, at Arnie’s apartment, is this a byproduct of the writing process?, problems with marriage and plumbers, The Search For Philip K. Dick by Anne R. Dick, “Goodmember Arnie Kott Of Mars”, Chinatown, The Two Jakes, developers, Heliogabalus, time travel, the broken Friendly Dad robot, the school is monitoring, when you’re reading your Kindle Amazon is watching you, school is to make you conservative, preserving Earth culture, the time gate anthology, Robert Silverberg, autonomous robots, door to door salesmen, teaching machines, the different robot teachers, Immanuel Kant robot, with certainty he pointed down the hall, a western bias (the interests of Philip K. Dick), Aristotle, Abraham Lincoln, Julius, Winston Churchill, Tiberius, Thomas Edison, warfare, history, a million neat ideas, Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great, schizophrenia and autism, experiencing time at a different rate, derangement in a sense of time, A.D.D. and A.D.H.D., Camp BG, setting your watch by the stars and by the seasons, schizophrenia as a tendency but not a disability, daylight savings time, recipe for going to jail: act as if daylight savings isn’t real, its what the novel is about, the Soviets, an American Mars, a Bradburyian Mars, Martians as elves, the Bleekmen, water witch, hunter/gatherers nomadic culture, the “tame” Bleekman, the dream-quest is payback, a “pilg” (pilgrimage), Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, the trek through the desert, Tibor, Psychology Today, “oh, boy!”, thiotimoline, reconciling realities, “gubble gubble”, sharped tongued secretary, bicycles in outer space, she’s the predator, he’s the predator, Arnie and Manfred, sniffing around Doreen, they’re from the “TOMB WORLD”, Silvia is the most common female character name PKD uses, an analogy (or metaphor) for marriage, uppers and downers, drugs and coffee, back to the keyboard, Dr. Glaub is desperate to make some money, Dick’s own financial concerns, Anne, webbed fingers, inside the minds of horrible people, the dialogue driven sex scene is kinda creepy, why is she with this guy?, access to all the booze, why does Jack go back to his wife?, the perfunctory affairs are unbelievable, unredeemable, somehow it seems to all work, the Swiss rocket, Bleekmen are homo-sapiens, the S.M. Stirling Lords Of Creation novels, Mars as California, Australian aborigines, “dreamlines dreamsongs and dreamtime“, Ludwig Binswanger, psychiatry, psychology, Ellen had split her life, the “tomb world”,” degenerate and degenerating”, being trapped in your own body, “a narrowing a contracting”, gubble as a marker, Being John Malkovich, “Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich!”, our bodies with their low needs distract them from our purposes (if we have any), oblivious to suffering, depression, it’s all brain chemistry, anorexia, obsession with death, Mafred’s “sick” drawing, Amweb as the “tomb world”, the Manfred illustration, the nightmare woman, “her tongue wants to cut”, seeing into the future is seeing death, awesome imagery, a recurring image, The Minority Report, armless and legless (limbless characters), the movie adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, dialogue driven storytelling, what are they reacting to?, mental processes, “it was there to be found”, Virgil Finlay, reading it harder, a post apocalyptic zombie novel, building up a picture, open to being expanded, PKD is concise, most books aren’t dialogue driven, creative writing classes, showing off descriptive skills, novels vs. poetry, is J.R.R. Tolkien responsible for this?, a reverence for the landscape, what color is the dust?, visuals are everything has colonized Science Fiction and Fantasy in the last 30 years, eating meals and walking the landscape, this book isn’t a distraction from life, a meta-description of life, what makes this a SF story?, “the chamber”, the technology is your mind and your brain, even Mars isn’t very different, mars rats, what do the bleekmen hunt?, water witches!, does the water witch protect Jack?, the pistol, the real SF idea behind this is PKD is trying top figure out what déjà vu is, the “I know what is going to happen next” feeling, we are very poor at capitalizing on our future knowledge, the slipped gear, “Oh, little Jackie.”, Philip K. Dick’s science fiction is Psychology Today, an ansible, this problem in science and the social situation between these characters, lying in bed in a hypnagogic state, doing dream style processing of mental white noise in a semi-conscious state, “all different all equally true”, different angles, the broken mosaic, the fact that these books are dated doesn’t age the books, the Brilliance Audio audiobook narrated by Jeff Cummings, Grover Gardner (Tom Parker) narration of Martian Time-Slip, the bicycles floating into space, a horrible human being (he wastes water), Heliogabalus -> Helio (sun -> son) will Gabalus (gubble) less, Elagabalus, the religion of the Roman Empire, a scene, W.A. Mozart, “I love Mozart!”, Bruno Walter conducting, that hideous racket, encoding messages, Manfred Steiner, is this the sign?, they emerged from her pores, whoever’s perspective we see the scene from they all enter the “tomb world”, “teeming with gubbish”, “he wanted to bite her lip”, the pivot point, screeches, the screech of the bus, music, what do dogs think of music?, what do autistic people think of music?, trance music, a Dickian idea, music and sound, the bus brakes screech, “fire!”, bears at the zoo cavorting for peanuts, the suicide, “more evidence that Arnie is a horrible human being”, we just need a little bit of hope, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Galactic Pot-Healer, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, The World Jones Made, there are 36 public domain Philip K. Dick stories, Time Out Of Joint (is Paul’s favourite Dick novel), a constructed town,

Martian Time-Slip WORD CLOUD

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

All We Marsmen illustrated by Virgil Finlay

Blackstone Audio - Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

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