The Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth

April 20, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Little Black Bag is a highly regarded C.M. Kornbluth novelette. It was undeniably influential and popular. It won the 2001 Retro-Hugo Award for “Best Novelette” (of 1951), was voted the 13th best all-time short science fiction story (in a 1971 Analog Science Fact & Fiction poll), and was anthologized in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964. Philip K. Dick himself seems to have read it (he had a 1964 short story entitled The Little Black Box).

In his introduction to The Best of C.M. Kornbluth, Frederik Pohl, a friend and frequent collaborator of Kornbluth’s, states that The Marching Morons (see SFFaudio Podcast #112) is a direct sequel to The Little Black Bag. The titular bag is a time-traveled artifact from a future in which the majority of the population is genetically stupid and must be supported by a minority of geniuses who masquerade as assistants to the morons. Thus the bag of the title is filled with self-driven instruments enabling even a complete moron to act as a highly competent doctor.

Three television adaptations of The Little Black Bag have been made: Tales of Tomorrow (1952), Out Of The Unknown (1969), and Night Gallery (1970).

Myself, I think The Little Black Bag is both too well regarded and too popular. It’s popularity suggests that many readers think of themselves as one of the geniuses surrounded by morons. And its being regarded as highly as it is by those geniuses makes me think they are rather stupider than they think.

I invite you to come to your own conclusions.

Escape PodEscape Pod #429 Little Black Bag
by C.M. Kornbluth; Read by Mat Weller
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Escape Pod
Podcast: January 5, 2014
First published in Astounding, July 1950

Here’s a |PDF| made from it’s original publication.

|ETEXT|

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #250 – READALONG: Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith

February 3, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #250 – Jesse, Tamahome, J.J. Campanella, and Marissa van Uden discuss Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith.

Talked about on today’s show:
Cordwainer Smith’s first story, Fantasy Book, Frederik Pohl, roughness but with power, space is not for humans, A Game Of Rat And Dragon, a cool cat story, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, a bit romantic with a cat, cyborgs, habermans, cranching, Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith), was that a Mandarin fingernail?, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, a specialist in propaganda, the spacers union, On The Waterfront, merchant marine (but super respected), all scanners are habermans but not all habermans are scanners, pork chops have gone extinct, The Instrumentality Of Makind series is set between 2000-8000 A.D. (with Scanners Live In Vain at 6000 A.D.), a rocketry problem, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Call Me Joe, the first post-singularity story, what will it be like when I have Google installed in every part of my body, chest box and instruments, Steve Austin, there’s something symbolic going on, the TV Tropes entry is like a cynical version of the Wikipedia entry, Adam Stone, half-Chinese, somebody from the South, Nazis, anti-Semitic feeling, J.J. Pierce, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, can’t taste, can’t smell, can’t feel, can’t hear, practicing facial expressions, a U.N. of spacers, The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey, romantic not symbolic, Mr. Spaceship by Philip K. Dick, habermans vs. scanners, the dregs of society, no computers in the future, whatever the instrumentality is, Martel’s wife is very patient, honor, China, eunuchs, samurai means to server, ronin, a very Asian story, Game Of Thrones, respect not money, an alienness of outlook, love, duty, and humanity = I surrender, 20th century Asian history, reading Scanners Live In Vain as an editor, the opening and the ending, a cynical ending, a little injection of Philip K. Dick, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, the graphic novel version, Martel as Edward Snowden, the NSA as the scanners, Fight Club, Alfred Bester, what’s the “the up and out”?, they have Etch A Sketches, the unforgiven, the “great pain of space”, Think Blue, Count Two, sleeper ships, an organic computer, Philip K. Dick’s question was ‘how do I know what’s real?’, “the First Effect”, reading authors, “writing is telepathy” (Stephen King, On Writing), a weird heightened operatic style, a mythical style?, “here’s to the habermans up and out”, a schizoid class, text message style, you don’t want or need an electronic teapot, brown betty, a bot-net in the refrigerator, my tootbrush is communicating with me!, firefly toothbrushes, a useful trap, when the technology enters your body, ice-cream.

Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Midas Plague by Frederik Pohl

September 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

“the curse of want gives way to the curse of plenty”
-Frederik Pohl, in the anthology Nightmare Age

Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, as a part of “The Shape of Things to Come” season in 1991 (a series of plays looking at the future) The Midas Plague was adapted from the acclaimed novella by Frederik Pohl.

Now, thanks to the terrific service RadioArchive.cc you can experience this positively smirk inducing satire of a consumer society flipped on it’s head.

Here’s my description of the premise:

Morey Fry lives in a post-scarcity world where cheap production has made commodities, consumer goods, and food ubiquitous. The “poor” are forced to spend their lives in a constant state of frantic consumption, continually upgrading their devices, clothes, jewelry, and appliances. But “poor” Morey can only wear-out his shirts so fast, and taking double cream in his coffee is giving a sick feeling. Meanwhile a black market in counterfeit ration book stamps flourishes, yet Morey is an honest man. When poverty stricken Morey marries a “rich” girl from the right side of the tracks they move into his well appointed mansion. There, the efficient household staff of robot butlers, valets, maids, cooks, and footmen foist endless consumer goods upon them both at a furious rate, something that upsets Morey’s new “wealthy” spouse – after all she’s is accustomed to a certain luxurious lifestyle.

The Midas Plague, illustrated by Emsh - from Galaxy, April 1954

BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccThe Midas Plague
Adapted by Mark Power from the story by Frederik Pohl; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 (via TORRENT) – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: September 4, 1991

Directed by Alec Reid

Cast:
Morrey Fry – Michael Drew
Cheri Fry – Diane White
Howland – Alan Covenay
Judge Elon – Eric Allen
Grace Elon – Caroline Hunt
Semmelweiss – Nick Chivers
Newman – Nick Chivers
Fairless – Clarence Smith
Sam – Clarence Smith
Wally – Richard Pearce
Blaine – Richard Pearce
Tanaquil – Catherine Neal
Wainwright – Fraser Kerr
Henry, the Robot – Geoffrey Collins
Profirio – Geoffrey Collins

More illustrations from the publication in Galaxy, April 1954:
The Midas Plague, illustrated by Emsh - from Galaxy, April 1954
The Midas Plague, illustrated by Emsh - from Galaxy, April 1954

The Midas Plague can also be found in…
Ballantine Books - Nightmare Age edited by Frederik Pohl

and…
The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume II, B

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: A “Top 100 Sci-Fi Audiobooks” List

September 16, 2012 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Sci-Fi ListsLast year somebody* pointed out that a list of “The Top 100 Sci-Fi Books” (as organized by the Sci-Fi Lists website) was almost entirely available in audiobook form!

At the time of his or her compiling 95 of the 100 books were available as audiobooks.

Today, it appears, that list is approaching 99% complete!

I’ve read a good number of the books and audiobooks listed, and while some of them are indeed excellent, I’d have to argue that some are merely ok, and that others are utterly atrocious.

That said, I do think it is interesting that almost all of them are available as audiobooks!

Here’s the list as it stood last year, plus my added notations on the status of the missing five:

01- Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card – 1985
02- Dune – Frank Herbert – 1965
03- Foundation – Isaac Asimov – 1951
04- Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams – 1979
05- 1984 – George Orwell – 1949
06- Stranger In A Strange Land – Robert A Heinlein – 1961
07- Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury – 1954
08- 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C Clarke – 1968
09- Starship Troopers – Robert A Heinlein – 1959
10- I, Robot – Isaac Asimov – 1950
11- Neuromancer – William Gibson – 1984
12- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick – 1968
13- Ringworld – Larry Niven – 1970
14- Rendezvous With Rama – Arthur C. Clarke – 1973
15- Hyperion – Dan Simmons – 1989
16- Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – 1932
17- The Time Machine – H.G. Wells – 1895
18- Childhood’s End – Arthur C. Clarke – 1954
19- The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein – 1966
20- The War Of The Worlds – H.G. Wells – 1898
21- The Forever War – Joe Haldeman – 1974
22- The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury – 1950
23- Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut – 1969
24- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson – 1992
25- The Mote In God’s Eye – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1975
26- The Left Hand Of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1969
27- Speaker For The Dead – Orson Scott Card – 1986
28- Jurassic Park – Michael Crichton – 1990
29- The Man in the High Castle – Philip K. Dick – 1962
30- The Caves Of Steel – Isaac Asimov – 1954
31- The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester – 1956
32- Gateway – Frederik Pohl – 1977
33- Lord Of Light – Roger Zelazny – 1967
34- Solaris – Stanisław Lem – 1961
35- 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea – Jules Verne – 1870
36- A Wrinkle In Time – Madeleine L’Engle – 1962
37- Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut – 1963
38- Contact – Carl Sagan – 1985
39- The Andromeda Strain – Michael Crichton – 1969
40- The Gods Themselves – Isaac Asimov – 1972
41- A Fire Upon The Deep – Vernor Vinge – 1991
42- Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson – 1999
43- The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham – 1951
44- UBIK – Philip K. Dick – 1969
45- Time Enough For Love – Robert A. Heinlein – 1973
46- A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess – 1962
47- Red Mars – Kim Stanley Robinson – 1992
48- Flowers For Algernon – Daniel Keyes
49- A Canticle For Leibowitz – Walter M. Miller – 1959
50- The End of Eternity – Isaac Asimov – 1955
51- Battlefield Earth – L. Ron Hubbard – 1982
52- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley – 1818
53- Journey To The Center Of The Earth – Jules Verne – 1864
54- The Dispossessed – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1974
55- The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson – 1995
56- The Player Of Games – Iain M. Banks – 1988
57- The Reality Dysfunction – Peter F. Hamilton – 1996
58- Startide Rising – David Brin – 1983
59- The Sirens Of Titan – Kurt Vonnegut – 1959
60- Eon – Greg Bear – 1985
61- Ender’s Shadow – Orson Scott Card – 1999
62- To Your Scattered Bodies Go – Philip Jose Farmer – 1971
63- A Scanner Darkly – Philip K. Dick – 1977
64- Lucifer’s Hammer – Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle – 1977
65- The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – 1985
66- The City And The Stars – Arthur C Clark – 1956
67- The Stainless Steel Rat – Harry Harrison – 1961
68- The Demolished Man – Alfred Bester – 1953
69- The Shadow of the Torturer – Gene Wolfe – 1980
70- Sphere – Michael Crichton – 1987
71- The Door Into Summer – Robert .A Heinlein – 1957
72- The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch – Philip K. Dick – 1964
73- Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds – 2000
74- Citizen Of The Galaxy – Robert A. Heinlein – 1957
75- Doomsday Book – Connie Willis – 1992
76- Ilium – Dan Simmons – 2003
77- The Invisible Man – H.G. Wells – 1897
78- Have Space-Suit Will Travel – Robert A. Heinlein – 1958
79- The Puppet Masters – Robert A. Heinlein – 1951
80- Out Of The Silent Planet – C.S. Lewis – 1938
81- A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs – 1912
82- The Lathe of Heaven – Ursula K. Le Guin – 1971
83- Use Of Weapons – Iain M. Banks – 1990
84- The Chrysalids – John Wyndham – 1955
85- Way Station – Clifford Simak – 1963
86- Flatland – Edwin A. Abbott – 1884
87- Altered Carbon – Richard Morgan – 2002
88- Old Man’s War – John Scalzi – 2005
89- COMING SOON (October 15, 2012)Roadside Picnic – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – 1972
90- The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 2006
91- The Postman – David Brin – 1985
92- NEWLY AVAILABLEStand On Zanzibar – John Brunner – 1969
93- VALIS – Philip K. Dick – 1981
94- NEWLY AVAILABLE The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age – Stanisław Lem – 1974
95- NOT AVAILABLE AS AN AUDIOBOOK – Cities In Flight – James Blish – 1955
96- The Lost World – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – 1912
97- The Many-Colored Land – Julian May – 1981
98- Gray Lensman – E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith – 1940
99- The Uplift War – David Brin – 1987
100- NEWLY AVAILABLEThe Forge Of God – Greg Bear – 1987

In case you were wondering, the list was compiled using the following criteria:

“A statistical survey of sci-fi literary awards, noted critics and popular polls. To qualify a book has to be generally regarded as science fiction by credible sources and/or recognised as having historical significance to the development of the genre. For books that are part of a series (with some notable exceptions) only the first book in the series is listed.”

The “Next 100″, as listed over on Sci-Fi Lists, has a lot of excellent novels and collections in it too, check that out HERE.

[*Thanks to "neil1966hardy" from ThePirateBay]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #166 – TOPIC: SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World)

June 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #166 – Jesse, Luke Burrage, and Eric S. Rabkin discuss, at length, the SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World). Here’s the premise:

Science Fiction Forms: Short Story, Novella, Fix-Up, Novel, Trilogy, and World. Respectively, they might be exemplified thus: Short Story (“Mars Is Heaven!“), Novella (“Flowers for Algernon“), Fix-Up (The Martian Chronicles, which contains a revised version of “Mars Is Heaven!” or The Seedling Stars, Accelerando, and Beggars In Spain, all of which began as novellas), Novel (originals, like 1984, and derivatives like Flowers for Algernon or Varley’s novel Millennium coming from his short story “Air Raid“), Trilogy (original Foundation series), World (the ultimate Foundation world or Heinlein’s Future History [shared with others] or Banks’s Culture or LeGuin’s Hainish series [created just for the authors, but let's not forget about fan fiction]). What are the special challenges and rewards in reading and writing in these diverse forms? What special challenges or rewards attend on reusing material in another form? Is the formal plasticity of SF unique among literary genres?

Talked about on today’s show:
Eric’s suggestion, literature with a capital “L”, The Dead by James Joyce, The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Luke’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, the format, the themes, the variability of short story form, the feghoot, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Accelerando, Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, The Tower Of Babel, stripped away vs. embellished to the nth degree, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Understand by Ted Chiang, The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat, fantasy, the unexplicit story, valid reactions, the etymology of “text”, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, a persuasive existential journey, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, San Fransisco, short stories as objects of frivolity or training, the brilliance of an idea is not always enough, a novel can act as a community to an individual, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury vs. The Fireman by Ray Bradbury, is the novel inherently more participatory than a short story?, the failure of technology vs. the power of nature, The Masque Of The Red Death, teaching Science Fiction with short stories and novels, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame (Volume 1), the composite novel, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, A.E. van Vogt, the fix-up, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Lobsters by Charles Stross, the cat changes function, “an intellectual framework”, Robert A. Heinlein’s future history, the composite novel, Isaac Asimov, future history vs. psychohistory, Michael Moorcock, I, Robot, Robbie, the three laws, Stephen Byerly and Susan Calvin, unAsimovian assumptions, the full dose of SF, Reason, The Evitable Conflict, is Stephen Byerly a robot or a man?, the Mérode Altarpiece (a medieval iconographic trope), art history, Luke doesn’t think Asimov is that clever, R. Daneel Olivaw, the three laws are fairytale laws, positronic brains are positive, the three laws are for people (not just robots), The Bicentennial Man, Asimov’s powers, Asimov’s business acumen, Brandon Sanderson, shared worlds, gods, Mormonism, Daniel Clowes, The Death Ray, Elantris, “The Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durrell, reading The Martian Chronicles backwards, Luke’s fiction, Alastair Reynolds, Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street Irregulars, whodunit ain’t the attraction, The Adventure Of The Speckled Band, a matter of cutting, A Clockwork Orange, it’s better without the extra chapter, the commercial effect (or the effect of commercialism), popular literature, the flabby novel, Robert J. Sawyer, Hominids, Calculating God, William Shakespeare, The Royal Ontario Museum, horse evolution, God needs a starship!?, where to find a paleontologist, “a hundred pages of nothing happening”, a circular argument, writing to the story’s demands, Kevin J. Anderson, commercial constraints shouldn’t be points of pride, the thickness of books, The Lord Of The Rings, does more succinct = more better?, novellas are novels with threads missing?, The Hobbit, the ambition of the author, Luke is rejecting the basic premise, The Stand by Stephen King, is it a better story short or long?, changes and updates and additional material, don’t let Asimov near a typewriter unless you want something written, Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke, The City And The Stars, expanding everything, Monster Story, “it came to me in a dream”, Minding Tomorrow, Nightfall (the short story) vs. Nightfall (the novel), “it’s a lot like a perfectly nice novel that eventually becomes a masterpiece”, The Lion of Comarre, it’s not a commercial podcast, a civil rowdiness, Eric’s Coursera course: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, rechunking, forums, essays, 18,000 registered students, University of Michigan, only the competitors are qualified to judge the competitors, a history of the U.S. Civil War, Luke’s kitchen, grades, “there is no absolute abstract grade for anything”, Science Fiction and Politics (Courtney Brown), the governor of a steam engine, Luke confuses two professors, “yes, by golly, that was a very good thing of it’s kind”, The Odyssey by Homer, a foundational classic, The Bible, the Benjamin Franklin bible, there should be an SFBRP review of The Odyssey, Luke’s Matthew Mark Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Joseph Campbell, time for coffee!

The Mérode Altarpiece

Startling Stories, November 1948 - Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 11 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 12 and 13 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN

May 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN.

The story’s copyright was not properly renewed. This was not generally know prior because a copyright office renewal form |HERE| seemed to show that the story had been renewed.

The form shows Foster, You’re Dead as being published in the May 1955 issue of IF: Worlds Of Science Fiction. But an examination of the table of contents page from that issue shows that no such story was published in IF’s May 1955 issue. Observe for yourself:

If Worlds Of Science Fiction, May 1955 - table of contents

Instead, Foster, You’re Dead was originally published in Star Science Fiction Stories No. 3 an anthology of NEW SF that was published in 1955.

Star Science Fiction Stories No. 3

Here are the copyright page copyright page and table of contents from it:

Star Science Fiction Stories No. 3

To make the case even more clearly here is the editorial introduction, written by Frederik Pohl, explicitly detailing the fact that Foster, You’re Dead, and all the other stories in the anthology, had never before been published:

Star Science Fiction Stories No. 3 - editorial introduction by Frederik Pohl

Foster, You’re Dead by Philip K. Dick is PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Here is the |PDF|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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