The SFFaudio Podcast #286 – The Red One by Jack London; read by Oliver Wyman. This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour 3 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Oliver Wyman.
Talked about on today’s show:
Bryan and Ollie, 1918, WWI, Jack London in Hawaii, a super science fiction story, H.G. Wells, existential concerns, the misogyny and racism, “unbeautiful”, London was racist and anti-racist, Lovecraft, cosmic science fiction, a beautiful sad ending, a transcendent ending, the motifs (motives), head and finger injuries, head blown off, his guide loses his head, the final head chopping, the devil devil house, twisting in the smoke, breadfruit, banyan, God’s Grace by Bernard Malamud, the Solomon Islands, Guadalcanal, the mosquitoes, headhunting, blackbirding is essentially slavery, giant butterflies, the Atlas Moth, it’s not an alien spaceship is it?, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Philip K. Dick, unresolved endings, a potential stage production of Flow My Tears The Policeman Said, a giant alien head, the striker has helmeted figures, ancient astronauts is the next year, 1919, Charles Fort, Erich von Däniken, Jack London’s 10 Sex Tips, Cosmopolitan -> cosmos -> cosmetology, Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke, The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke, a tripwire, a Lovecraftian sense of the universe, explorer narratives, Mungo Park, Bassett,
“And beneath that roof was an aerial ooze of vegetation, a monstrous, parasitic dripping of decadent life- forms that rooted in death and lived on death.”
Robert E. Howard, Solomon Kane, Mexico, London stole from others and his own life, journal writing, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, “the abrupt liberation of sound”, the walls of Jericho…, two score feet in length, an alien ark, the libraries of supermen from other stars?, the Jungian analysis, a giant egg with Bassett as a sperm, Earle Labor, the ending resonates, the red one as a mandala, from a distance it appears lacquered, fever dreams, childhood hallucinations and visions, what’s the logic behind head-hunting, mortification, the other white man’s head, helmeted figures sitting inside the mouths of crocodiles, a labour of thousands of years, the twelve tribes, breadfruit is called “nimbalo” in the Solomon Islands -> “nimbus”, ringmanu -> Manu -> the progenitor of all humanity, the twelve apostles, the red one is a voice, twelve deaf apostles, gospel = good news, cure it well, immortality, London was a super-atheist, Lovecraft was an atheist, the harsh horrifying reality of death, “the serene face of the Medusa. Truth.”, Lovecraft’s poems, Alethia Phrikodes, “Omnia risus et omnia pulvis et omnia nihil”, Thomas Ligotti, True Detective, “I think human consciousness, is a tragic misstep in evolution. … species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction”, Edgar Allan Poe, Songs Of A Dead Dreamer, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, Pseudopod The Bungalow House, being a narrator doesn’t give you time to read, comics maybe, The Manhattan Projects, dealing with the problem of physical, Rainbow’s End, Geoffrey Household, Limbo by Bernard Wolfe, not enough physical volume in the universe, books with maps, books with art, Eadweard Muybridge, Jeff Bezos, ebooks are notorious for not having good art in them, the art of Alex Ross as a PDF, London as a tangible writer, “a mighty cry of some titan of the elder world”, Olaf Stapledon, Starmaker, the separation of the soul and the body, you are your head, the martians in The War Of The Worlds, who is telling this story?, feelings and questions, The Call Of The Wild, he’s a basset hound chasing after a big red ball, London was a dog man, the two dog books, The Sea Wolf is an intense book, To Build Fire, “the cold of space”, a hypnagogic state, the physical and the philosophical, The Iron Heel, so many writers never leave the room where they write the book, the premise for The Red One was suggested by George Sterling, A Wine Of Wizardry, what if aliens sent a message to the earth and it was not understood, if it had been shot, the gun that doesn’t go off, King Kong and Skull Island, a cynical take on religion, the Cosmopolitan illustrations, definitely an artifice, the core of a star that fell to Earth, aliens came out and they killed them, ships or jet fighters, organic ships, the spore of the organic ships, Prometheus, worth looking at and listening to, the most expensive work of fan fiction ever made, the autodoc scene, this is the thing that didn’t need to be made, Alien, Ron Cobb and Geiger, 1966, the year of Star Trek and Batman, Alan Dean Foster, Alien: The Illustrated Story by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, recent alien invasion fiction, Footfall, Protector by Larry Niven, infantilized aliens, the fruit of the tree of life, Forge Of God by Greg Bear, “I have bad news”, Orson Scott Card, reared by robots, astrogation, Anvil Of Stars by Greg Bear, Sundiver by David Brin, Forbidden Planet, Glen Cook‘s Starfisher series, Captain Harlock, Anathem by Neal Stephenson, William Dufris, the glossary, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, mushrooms, characters in therapy, one of the greatest works of Science Fiction period, the serialization of Gateway in Galaxy, Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, 1920, The Temple, black muck, they’ve got cults going.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Themes: / fantasy / magic / hallucinations / special powers / novella /
Brandon Sanderson is one of the most significant fantasists to enter the field in a good many years. His ambitious, multi-volume epics (Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive) and his stellar continuation of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series have earned both critical acclaim and a substantial popular following. In Legion, a distinctly contemporary novella filled with suspense, humor, and an endless flow of invention, Sanderson reveals a startling new facet of his singular narrative talent. Stephen Leeds, AKA “Legion,” is a man whose unique mental condition allows him to generate a multitude of personae: hallucinatory entities with a wide variety of personal characteristics and a vast array of highly specialized skills. As the story begins, Leeds and his “aspects” are drawn into the search for the missing Balubal Razon, inventor of a camera whose astonishing properties could alter our understanding of human history and change the very structure of society. The action ranges from the familiar environs of America to the ancient, divided city of Jerusalem. Along the way, Sanderson touches on a formidable assortment of complex questions: the nature of time, the mysteries of the human mind, the potential uses of technology, and the volatile connection between politics and faith. Resonant, intelligent, and thoroughly absorbing, Legion is a provocative entertainment from a writer of great originality and seemingly limitless gifts.
Legion is a short, interesting, 2-disc novella by Brandon Sanderson about a man with a unique mental disorder that allows him to do extraordinary things. Sanderson develops some fun characters, interesting abilities (of course this is typical for him), and drops them in a mysterious adventure. My only real complaint about this novella is that I wish there was more.
Those familiar with Sanderson’s style know to expect a unique magic/ability system that leads to an interesting plot. In this case, Stephen Leeds has many hallucinations that all serve as experts in some way that is useful to him such as weapons, knowledge, psychology, etc. People come to Stephen with problems and he can serve as a team of experts to solve whatever case/mystery needed. The trick is that only he can see these hallucinations (think A Beautiful Mind) which can lead to some interesting conversations.
Oliver Wyman does a great job narrating this novella. He did a great job with all the voices and accents from the novella. He does a great vocal equivalent of a skeptical look when characters are dealing with someone talking to hallucinations. I would listen to books narrated by Oliver Wyman again.
Posted by Tom Schreck
Themes: / exotic island / humor / commercial jet / cannibal / cargo cult /
Take a wonderfully crazed excursion into the demented heart of a tropical paradise – a world of cargo cults, cannibals, mad scientists, ninjas, and talking fruit bats. Our bumbling hero is Tucker Case, a hopeless geek trapped in a cool guy’s body, who makes a living as a pilot for the Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation. But when he demolishes his boss’s pink plane during a drunken airborne liaison, Tuck must run for his life from Mary Jean’s goons. Now there’s only one employment opportunity left for him: piloting shady secret missions for an unscrupulous medical missionary and a sexy blond high priestess on the remotest of Micronesian hells. Here is a brazen, ingenious, irreverent, and wickedly funny novel from a modern master of the outrageous.
Christopher Moore is a popular writer and satirist in the vein of Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut with titles like Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal; You Suck: A Love Story; and many Moore (how could I resist?).
Island of the Sequined Love Nun was actually my first foray into his work, but what got me more than anything else, even more than Moore’s popularity and humor, was the title itself. It says it all. And after having read it, it’s an extremely fitting title.
Tucker Case skates by in life, nearly everything has been handed to him, not the least of which is his job flying a pink jet for the Mary Jean Cosmetics Corporation, which he almost immediately crashes…while drunkenly fooling around with a girl he “didn’t know was a prostitute.”
With an intro like that, how can you resist?
Tucker is essentially imprisoned as Mary Jean attempts to salvage the situation for her company. Having lost his license to fly, his options are limited and thus begins the meat of our story as Tuck is contacted by a less-than-reputable employer claiming to be doing “missionary service.”
One of the first things I noticed was that Moore is not afraid to be outrageous and he does so often. There are jokes about cannibals, religions, transsexuals, you name it. He pushes the boundaries and even does so a bit too far for this self-admitted prude. Then again, I didn’t not laugh either.
Tucker Case comedically bumbles around the place, just accepting life as it’s handed to him, but the problem is you either love him or hate him, and I found myself leaning toward the latter. He bugged me from the start and he does eventually develop redeeming qualities, but it was almost too late for me. That’s why I couldn’t say I absolutely loved this book, it was just decent.
A big part of how I measure how much I am liking an audiobook is how much I look forward to my morning drive or how much I skive off, to use a British term, whatever I’m doing to listen and while it wasn’t painful, it also wasn’t my favorite.
In the end, Island of the Sequined Love Nun was a good introduction to Christopher Moore. While I didn’t absolutely love it, I will definitely come back for more (I held back!). I’m looking forward to reading some of his more popular works in the near future.
3 out of 5 Stars (Recommended with Reservations)
Review by Bryce L.