BBC Radio 4: Dangerous Visions

June 14, 2013 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4Dangerous Visions “A season of dramas that explore contemporary takes on future dystopias” is the title for new BBC Radio 4 programming that airs from Saturday June 15 to Friday June 21, 2013.

Here’s the official description:

Alternative worlds dominate radio drama this week. To complement productions of The Drowned World and Concrete Island (next week) by the master of the near future J.G. Ballard, writers imagine their own dystopias in our season Dangerous Visions. As well as the maternal death syndrome threatening the survival of the human race in The Testament Of Jessie Lamb, dramatised from her own novel by Jane Rogers, the original plays ask what happens if sleep is outlawed? If cloning becomes a matter of course, and your loved ones are indistinguishable from their cloned replicants? If North London declares UDI against the wasteland of South London? If human sacrifice becomes an accepted necessity? If one man becomes immortal? Along with other related programmes on Radio 4, 4 Extra completes the season with a chilling new four-part serialisation of William Golding’s classic fable, Lord of the Flies, exploring the very essence of good and evil.

Here are the programs, and related goodness:

Saturday 15th June:

Dangerous Visions: The Sleeper
Radio 4, 1430: A fable for our times. In The Sleeper by Michael Symmons Roberts we see our own society as it is today but with one familiar element removed. This is a Britain in which, decades ago, human beings gradually lost the gift of sleep. With Maxine Peake and Jason Done.

Archive on 4: Very British Dystopias
Radio 4, 2000: Beneath the calm surface of British politics, lurking in the imaginations of some of our leading writers, terrible things have happened. Professor Steven Fielding examines these dystopian visions which have gripped creative and public imaginations.

Lord of the Flies: Fire on the Mountain (part 1 of 4)
Radio 4 Extra, 2300: William Golding’s classic story about a group of boys plane-wrecked on a deserted island. New dramatisation by Judith Adams, with Ruth Wilson narrating.

Sunday 16th June:

Dangerous Visionaries
Radio 4, 1445: As Radio 4 begins its new season of Dystopic Dramas, Dangerous Visions, the playwright and poet Michael Symmons Roberts wonders how close the gap between imagining and living in dystopia actually is.

Dangerous Visions: The Drowned World
Radio 4, 1500: JG Ballard’s story of a scientific mission surveying drowned cities. This is a future where the earth’s atmosphere, and human consciousness, has eroded. Adapted by Graham White.

Dangerous Visions: Face to Face with JG Ballard
Radio 4 Extra, 1800: The late author of Empire of the Sun and many works of speculative fiction reveals his perspective on the world and the media.

Monday 17th June:

Dangerous Visions: The Testament Of Jessie Lamb
Radio 4, 1045/1945, Monday to Friday: Jane Rogers dramatises her award winning dystopian novel about a teenage girl who decides to save humanity. Starring Holliday Grainger as Jessie Lamb.

Dangerous Visions: Billions
Radio 4, 1415: Blake Ritson and Raquel Cassidy star in Ed Harris’s wicked tale of love and deception, in which Mark comes home to find a replacement wife provided by her insurance company.

Tuesday 18th June:

Dangerous Visions: Invasion
Radio 4, 1415: On his return from Mars, Astronaut Kadian Giametti wakes up in quarantine. Slowly he discovers that the world outside his cell has changed beyond recognition.

Wednesday 19th June:

Dangerous Visions: London Bridge
Radio 4, 1415: In Nick Perry’s dark vision of the future, the River Thames has become a border separating the crime-free police state of North London from the lawless slumland of the South.

Thursday 20th June:

Dangerous Visions: Death Duty
Radio 4, 1415: In Michael Butt’s dark vision of the future, a city-state plagued by drought has instituted a system of sacrifice in a desperate measure to bring about rain. With Nicholas Jones.

[Thanks to David and Roy!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #186 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Lady, Or The Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton

November 12, 2012 by · 9 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #186 – An unabridged reading of The Lady, Or The Tiger? by Frank R. Stockton (17 minutes), read by David Federman – followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Julie Hoverson (of 19 Nocturne Boulevard).

Talked about on today’s show:
Monty Hall, Let’s Make A Deal, a can of sardines, a donkey and a block of hay, the Dungeons & Dragons meaning of “Monty Hall”, use in schools, weighting the scales, what is the character of women?, equally loving and equally jealous, love vs. jealousy, how barbaric are women?, where are the female criminals, a fully barbaric king, trial by ordeal, a box with a viper, a box with a knife, the swift choice, a curious justice system, jaywalking into the people’s court, like father like daughter, women were so emotional, unmodernizable sexism, guilt, there are tigers behind both doors, The Price Is Right, imaginary morality in an imaginary land, fairness conflated with arbitrariness, “when he and himself agreed upon anything”, Julie’s problem with philosophy, game theory, a thought experiment, Ray Bradbury style stories convey Bradburian feelings vs. Rorschachian style stories which elicit only the reader’s feelings, The Discourager Of Hesitancy (a sequel to The Lady, Or The Tiger?), smile vs. frown, Batman, Two-Face’s decisions are not actually coin tosses, The Man in The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I Ching, “the tiger does not eat the straw because the duck has flown away”, phone psychics should agree with their customers, “the cards are telling me…”, psychics as impartial observers, a Ponzi scheme, selection bias, is it a double bluff?, does the father know that the daughter knows?, what is the punishment for adultery?, obsolete pop-culture, zoot suit riots (not just a joke, seriously), “six of one, half a dozen of the other”, “as snug as a bug in a rug”, we have to invent rug technology, nitpicking, Bugs Bunny dialogue, Max Headroom (is still ahead of it’s time), “blipvert”, They Live, shantytowns in the Regan era, Shock Treatment, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #141 – READALONG: The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells

January 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #141 – Last week’s podcast was an unabridged reading of The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells. This week Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Professor Eric S. Rabkin form an ad hoc community discuss it!

Talked about on today’s show:
Are we men or animals?, Charles Laughton, The Island Of Lost Souls, Burt Lancaster, Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, let the movie atrophy and evaporate, changing the name Prendick to Prentice to Parker, Margaret Atwood, Moor, death, water, Moreau, Gustav Moreau, etchings of Dante’s Inferno, ebony, anthracite, Moreau is a funeral shroud, prig + dick (thick), prender, Prendick appropriates Moreau’s island, the manuscript, Prendick is a user, “a false church”, Edward (the happy guardian), Charles (the common man), “a private gentleman”, the single biggest theme in the book (modern European culture deforms the natural state of things), beastilizing humans or humanizing beasts, the white man’s burden (and his name is black), pro-science vs. anti-progress, Darwin brings the questioning of the moral narrative of humans, Montgomery and Moreau lack moral direction, Prendick too is directionless (all at sea), vivisection, “life is the house of pain”, Wells (and Mary Shelley) are deeply concerned with the relationship of scientists with the larger community, Eric thinks science unaware of moral obligation is the target, Prendick is a disingenuous narrator, Moreau is a colonial overload, “The Lady Vain”, Lady Day (Billie Holiday) vs. Lady Day (the Catholicism meaning), “Lady Day” is an ironic reversal of “Saint Mary”, Ipecacuanha = ipecac, Gulliver’s Travels, what are the chances of a collision with a derelict ship in the middle of Pacific?, M’Ling, mankind’s way of finding destruction, “ship of fools”, the ships are microcosms, a foreshadowing of destruction (of an unsustainable ), “Wells is just so God-damned smart”, Addaneye Island vs. Adonai (God), M’Ling is Manling, is M’ling a dog or an ape?, Thomas HobbesLeviathan, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”, “the great chain of being”, “In the afternoon, Moreau, Montgomery, myself, and M’ling went across the island to the huts in the ravine.” Montgomery = defender of the mountain, Prendick’s narration belies the events of the story, poetic justice, “he attacks Helmar with his hands”, men don’t sink like stones, cannibalism, “when every animal is a person then you better have a law against cannibalism”,

A sudden convulsion of rage shook me. I was almost moved to batter his foolish head in, as he lay there helpless at my feet. Then suddenly his hand moved, so feebly, so pitifully, that my wrath vanished. He groaned, and opened his eyes for a minute. I knelt down beside him and raised his head. He opened his eyes again, staring silently at the dawn, and then they met mine. The lids fell.

“Sorry,” he said presently, with an effort. He seemed trying to think. “The last,” he murmured, “the last of this silly universe. What a mess — ”

I listened. His head fell helplessly to one side. I thought some drink might revive him; but there was neither drink nor vessel in which to bring drink at hand. He seemed suddenly heavier. My heart went cold. I bent down to his face, put my hand through the rent in his blouse. He was dead…

Eric thinks Prendick is trying to exonerates himself, abolutionism a theme of abstinence and alcohol, “you’re Mr. Shut Up”, Lem Johnson, Governor George Gawler‘s 1838 speech to the local Aborigines in the Adelaide area:

“Black men – We wish to make you happy. But you cannot be happy unless you imitate good white men. Build huts, wear clothes, work and be useful. Above all things you cannot be happy unless you love GOD who made heaven and earth and men and all things. Love white men. Love other tribes of black men. Do not quarrel together. Tell other tribes to love white men, and to build good huts and wear clothes. Learn to speak English. If any man injure you tell the protector and he will do you justice.”

language as an instrument of repression, “this is an impossible story”, vivisection cannot create men, “this is a fable”, Thomas Henry Huxley, Wells was an apprentice to Huxley, natural selection and animal nature, if you can evolve can you devolve?, Montgomery is Moreau’s vicar (or Pope), an experiment with a snake, the Garden of Eden, Prendick is a liar, there is no great chain of being, Brits don’t have the right to change Indians, neither the force of arms, nor the claim of church, nor the claim of law can justifiably impose on one’s fellow man, The Time Machine, cannibalism is a transformation of murder, The Island Of Doctor Moreau as a fable, Sigmund Freud’s essay on “the uncanny” (make the metaphorical literal), The Eyes Have It by Philip K. Dick, it looks like a beast fable, “animal swiftness”, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, rabbits and Easter and eggs, Prendick destroys the symbol of christian resurrection, “a boat of community”, The War Of The Worlds as a kind of coda to The Island Of Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein, human beings are social animals, Boer Wars, South Africa, The Invisible Man, The Kingdom Of The Blind by H.G. Wells, one man is no match to a community, all of Wells’ protagonists seem to be horrible human beings, “a private gentleman”, if you have means you have an obligation to participate in the world, the doubting Thomas Marvel, the ocelot man, the pig men, the monkey man, “he’s a five man”, “big thinks” vs. “little thinks”, “it takes a real man to tell a lie”, sex and marriage and community in Frankenstein, Doctor Moreau Explains, man-making vs. woman-making, the puma-woman, Brian Aldiss, The Other Island Of Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein Unbound, “when suffering finds a voice”, vivisection, social class, PETA, the British Museum, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, The Invention Of Morrel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, Jorge Luis Borges, “an atrocious miracle”, “youthful blasphemy”, are there any contemporary reviews for The Island Of Doctor Moreau?, Henry James vs. H.G. Wells, little picture vs. big picture, psychology vs. sociology, characters vs. ideas, our Rainbow’s End discussion, Wells is undervalued because he is so easy to read, the consumption of food and drink, Wells learned it all, The Outline Of History by H.G. Wells, Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, ramify, The Lord Of The Flies by William Golding, The Inheritors is an elegiac recognition of the importance of community, neanderthals.

The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells - Illustration by Frank R. Paul for Amazing Stories

The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells - Illustration by Frank R. Paul for Amazing Stories

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

Famous Fantastic Mysteries - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU

The Island Of Dr. Moreau - Cover illustration by Paul Lehr

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Middle Woman by Orson Scott Card

March 1, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show Audio Bonus - Middle WomanMiddle Woman
By Orson Scott Card; Read by Mary Robinette Kowal
1 MP3 File – 9 Minutes 57 Seconds [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show
Published: March 2006
Themes: / Fantasy / Fable / Dragons / 3 Wishes /Immortality /

This is the second “Audio Bonus” from Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show online magazine, the plan appears to be to offer one bonus MP3 story per issue. Cool!

Orson Scott Card’s short fiction is connected to people in ways that other speculative fiction often isn’t. Realistic character psychology always takes the lead over scenarios, but his scenarios always test his characters’ psychologies – it makes for a special completeness rarely found in Speculative Fiction. Combine this with a refinement of prose, where every word is perfectly placed, and you get a little piece of magic in every OSC story. In this case, “Middle Woman” is a fable style fiction, another variation of that old saw “the three wishes”. Originally published under OSC’s pseudonym “Byron Walley”, it takes the idea of moderation, something almost always absent from fables, and runs with it. It reminded me of a kinder, gentler version of Robert Bloch’s classic That Hellbound Train. Interestingly, it also offers a more restive solution to W.W. Jacobs’ The Monkey’s Paw. The setting is Eastern, and given the “middle” of the title I suspect it is working in the ‘middle kingdom’ style of storytelling. Whether I’m right about that or not you’ll have to check it out yourself to decide.

Quite short, only 9 minutes, this is ably read by Mary Robinette Kowal who manipulates her voice in all the right ways to lend classic fairy tale reading to this modern fable. In addition to being a terrific narrator, Kowal is a professional puppeteer who also moonlights as speculative fiction author. “Middle Woman” is the Audio Bonus found in Issue Two of the online magazine Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

DISCLAIMER: Mary Robinette Kowal, when not reading stories aloud is an SFFaudio reviewer.

Posted by Jesse Willis