Eye in the Sky
By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Dan John Miller
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / theology / altered reality / science fiction / particle accelerator / dystopia /
When a routine tour of a particle accelerator goes awry, Jack Hamilton and the rest of his tour group find themselves in a world ruled by Old Testament morality, where the smallest infraction can bring about a plague of locusts. Escape from that world is not the end, though, as they plunge into a Communist dystopia and a world where everything is an enemy. Philip K. Dick was aggressively individualistic, and no worldview is safe from his acerbic and hilarious takedowns. Eye in the Sky blends the thrills and the jokes to craft a startling morality lesson hidden inside a comedy.
Eye in the Sky is Philip K. Dick’s 5th published novel, and although his earlier work touched on many themes that would continue throughout his career, this book is one of the first to develop these themes in full. The focus is on a technological mishap that sends Jack Hamilton and 7 other individuals into what amounts to a shared consensual hallucination. The characters quickly find their mutual realities at odds with one another. During the first of these alternate worlds, Philip K. Dick has fun with another of his favorite topics – theology, and it is from this segment that the title Eye in the Sky originates.
Dick’s humor is also more present in this novel than in his previous works. Narrator Dan John Miller is very successful in capturing the sarcasm found in character Jack Hamilton’s dialogue. In addition to humor, horror elements can also be found during another segment late in the story involving a haunted house of sorts. With all of the mind-bending excitement throughout most of the book, the ending may seem anti-climactic; however, I felt the ending was consistent with the author’s own philosophy and would recommend Eye in the Sky as a great place to start for someone interested in the earlier work of Philip K. Dick.
Posted by Dan VK
Talked about on today’s show:
Xe is a family name, xenon, a rare poisonous gas, a noble gas, the Going Public project, poems, stories, D.H. Lawrence, Banned Books Weeks, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Peter Davies, Little Fictions, Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, first person narration, changing sides, Herland, The Pit And The Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, suspense, Paul Michael Garcia, 36 stories, 1 essay, Simon Vance, 1 speech, Dion Graham, Abraham Lincoln, blog hopping throughout the month of June, Downpour.com, verklempt, Xe Sands narrates literary fiction, general fiction, and romance, beefcake, a melodramatic emotional journey, Magnificence, The Vanishers, The Bostonians by Henry James, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, Three Days To Dead, Hexes and Hemlines, cozy mysteries, Washington, Juliet Blackwell, a familiar pig, literary fiction vs. general fiction, W.W. Norton, Anton Chekhov, Digital Divide: Writings for and Against Facebook, YouTube, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking by Mark Bauerlein, the culture of SoundCloud, bulletin board systems, here’s what happens when a spider lands on you when you’re recording a love theme, Xe Sands on Twitter is @xesands, coffee, how to start on Twitter, pre-reading, pronunciation, questions, post-apocalyptic Seattle, Tarnished And Torn, The Cursed (League of the Black Swan, #1) by Alyssa Day, Reachout And Read, Cassandra Campbell, Dick Hill, Mark Twain, Luke Daniels, Philip K. Dick, Kevin Hearne, Patrick Lawlor, The Lottery Ticket by Anton Chekov, next year?, LittleFiction.com, Amanda Leduc.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #213 – Scott, Jesse, and Tamahome talk about the Audible.com audiobook The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age by Stanisław Lem
Talked about on today’s show:
reality shows, Duck Dynasty, about words, puns, rhyming, nothing, negative, was Lem a robot?, modern or timeless?, H.G. Wells, full of great ideas, fables, fairy tales, The Brothers Grimm, royalty,
“Have it compose a poem- a poem about a haircut! But lofty, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter S!!” …
Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Some savage, spectacular suicide.”
shooting an arrow at a barn, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Robert Sheckley, robots, the Google Doodle tribute to Stanisław Lem, a metaphor for our reality, the Wikipedia entry on Fables, Aesop’s Fables, Eric S. Rabkin, Scott is interested in Lem, Karol Wojtyła (aka Pope John Paul II), Poland, a small interesting country, Memoirs Found In A Bathtub, Audible’s audiobook, why did Jenny “Lem” this Lem?, Fox is not necessarily always the same fox, distant past? distant future?, “mostly harmless” palefaces, Princess Crystal, everybody’s a robot, a suitable suitor,
“Your Highness, my name is Myamlak and I crave nought else but to couple with you
in a manner that is liquid, pulpy, doughy and spongy, in accordance with the customs of
my people. I purposely permitted myself to be captured by the pirate, and requested him
to sell me to this portly trader, as I knew the latter was headed for your kingdom. And I
am exceeding grateful to his laminated person for conveying me hither, for I am as full of
love for you as a swamp is full of scum.”
The princess was amazed, for truly, he spoke in paleface fashion, and she said:
“Tell me, you who call yourself Myamlak the paleface, what do your brothers do
during the day?”
“O Princess,” said Ferrix, “in the morning they wet themselves in clear water, pouring
it upon their limbs as well as into their interiors, for this affords them pleasure.
they walk to and fro in a fluid and undulating way, and they slush, and they
slurp, and when anything grieves them, they palpitate, and salty water streams from
their eyes, and when anything cheers them, they palpitate and hiccup, but their eyes
remain relatively dry. And we call the wet palpitating weeping, and the dry—laughter.”
“If it is as you say,” said the princess, “and you share your brothers’ enthusiasm for
water, I will have you thrown into my lake, that you may enjoy it to your fill, and also I
will have them weigh your legs with lead, to keep you from bobbing up …”
“Your Majesty,” replied Ferrix as the sage had taught him, “if you do this, I must
perish, for though there is water within us, it cannot be immediately outside us for longer
than a minute or two, otherwise we recite the words ‘blub, blub, blub,’ which signifies our
last farewell to life.”
“But tell me, Myamlak,” asked the princess, “how do you furnish yourself with the
energy to walk to and fro, to squish and to slurp, to shake and to sway?”
“Princess,” replied Ferrix, “there, where I dwell, are other palefaces besides the
hairless variety, palefaces that travel predominantly on all fours. These we perforate until
they expire, and we steam and bake their remains, and chop and slice, after which we
incorporate their corporeality into our own. We know three hundred and seventy-six
of murdering, twenty-eight thousand five hundred and ninety-seven
distinct methods of preparing the corpses, and the stuffing of those bodies into our bodies
(through an aperture, called the mouth) provides us with no end of enjoyment.
the art of the preparation of corpses is more esteemed among us than astronautics and is
termed gastronautics, or gastronomy—which, however, has nothing to do with
“Does this then mean that you play at being cemeteries, making of yourselves the
very coffins that hold your four-legged brethren?”
the poet robot,
Trurl adjusted, modulated, expostulated,
disconnected, ran checks, reconnected, reset, did everything he could think of, and the
machine presented him with a poem that made him thank heaven Klapaucius wasn’t
there to laugh—imagine, simulating the whole Universe
from scratch, not to mention
Civilization in every particular, and to end up with such dreadful doggerel! Trurl put in six
cliche filters, but they snapped like matches; he had to make them out of pure corundum
steel. This seemed to work, so he jacked the semanticity up all the way, plugged in an
alternating rhyme generator—which nearly ruined everything, since the machine
resolved to become a missionary among destitute tribes on far-flung planets. But at the
very last minute, just as he was ready to give up and take a hammer to it, Trurl was
struck by an inspiration; tossing out all the logic circuits, he replaced them with
self-regulating egocentripetal narcissistors. The machine simpered a little, whimpered a
little, laughed bitterly, complained of an awful pain on its third floor, said that in general it
was fed up, though, life was beautiful but men were such beasts and how sorry they’d all
be when it was dead and gone. Then it asked for pen and paper. Trurl sighed with relief,
switched it off and went to bed.
Men are such beasts but we’ll be sad when they’re gone, the paperbook, kudos to narrator Scott Aiello, satire of something, Mandrillion the Greatest, ruler of the Multitudians, the perfect advisor, fantasy with Science Fiction language, lawyer soup, Escape Pod, Peter Swirski, A Stanislaw Lem Reader, reviews, people who review Lem, Lem = genius, sitting in awe, “Imagine a mixture of Borges, Calvino, Saint-Exupéry, Pynchon, Douglas Adams, Samuel Beckett, L. Frank Baum, Dr. Seuss, Lewis Caroll, and perhaps a little Philip K. Dick. That’s what this is like, sort of.”, complete impatience with reading “another one of these or another one of those”, A Perfect Vacuum, a big show-off, the ideas per story quotient, Gene Wolfe, Jorge Luis Borges, meta, overwhelming wordplay, digressions aplenty, format and rules, classic Hard SF, the hyperdrive handwaviumed away, all of language is handwavium, Sodium stars with an N, we think when we’ve named something we’ve understood it, make sense out of nonsense, stardust into toilet seats:
Feeling dismay rather
than disappointment at this neglect, I immediately sat down and wrote The Scourge of
Reason, two volumes, in which I showed that each civilization may choose one of two
roads to travel, that is, either fret itself to death, or pet itself to death. And in the course
of doing one or the other, it eats its way into the Universe, turning cinders and flinders of
stars into toilet seats, pegs, gears, cigarette holders and pillowcases, and it does this
because, unable to fathom the Universe, it seeks to change that Fathomlessness into
Something Fathomable, and will not stop until the nebulae and planets have been
processed to cradles, chamber pots and bombs, all in the name of Sublime
Order, for only a Universe with pavement, plumbing, labels and catalogues is, in its sight, acceptable
and wholly respectable.
the are no rules in The Cyberiad, owookiee’s 1 star review of The Cyberiad, a Droopy cartoon as directed by Tex Avery, The Perfect Imitation adapted, saggy biologicals, Daniel Mróz’ illustrations, Tobias Buckell’s blog post about The Fate Of Today’s Book Bloggers, the way Luke Burrage reviews books, a constructed object vs. a piece of art, conversations between writers, how books should be talked about, the SFSignal new releases posts, zombie novels, you’re reading the books wrong, you should read by author, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Telling Lies For Fun And Profit, Philip K. Dick, George R.R. Martin, Fred Himebaugh (@Fredosphere), Twitter fight!, looking for reasons not to read books, Your Movie Sucks by Roger Ebert, if a book sucks you usually stop reading that author entirely, Neal Stephenson, positive that tell you nothing about why it’s good, wandering through the woods eating rocks and bark, moods, Star Wars fans, get meta, reviewing novels vs. short stories, in the context, negative reviews tell you a lot more about a book than positive reviews, this book has too much science, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, panspermia and ancient astronauts, the finite and the infinite, iTunes U, characters on Battlestar Galactica are always confronted the question “what is human?”, synthesis, the enemy is the ally, the enemy is indistinguishable from one’s self, a space fable, Caprica,
Sumerian Aramaic Sanskrit and Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, Firefly, a gift of kindness, Porco Rosso, Hayao Miyazaki, what is IT Tam?
Posted by Jesse Willis
By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Mel Foster
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / Humanity / Future / Artificial Intelligence
After the twentieth century’s devastating series of wars, the world’s governments banded together into one globe-spanning entity, committed to peace at all costs. Ensuring that peace is the Vulcan supercomputer, responsible for all major decisions. But some people don’t like being taken out of the equation. And others resent the idea that the Vulcan is taking the place of God. As the world grows ever closer to all-out war, one functionary frantically tries to prevent it. But the Vulcan computer has its own plans, plans that might not include humanity at all.
Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick was first published in 1960. The book’s origin however is an expansion of a novella that has been published previously and therefore places this story among some of the author’s very earliest science fiction works. The book’s central theme of what makes us human versus that of a machine is one that continued into many of Philip K. Dick’s later and more popular novels.
The plot revolves around that of a supercomputer named Vulcan 3 which acts as the world’s leader. Most of the characters (including the main protagonist William Barris,) are Directors of an organization called Unity which represent various regions of the world on behalf of Vulcan. Another more mysterious group that call themselves the Healers appear to be trying to thwart the will of Vulcan 3. Another key character, Father Fields, is from this counter-group.
Narration is handled by Audie award winner Mel Foster whose many other audiobook titles also include Philip K. Dick’s The Zap Gun. I enjoyed his performance of the material here and plan to give his take on The Zap Gun a listen also. I recommend Vulcan’s Hammer as I found interesting the development of a theme which continued into many of the author’s later novels.
The SFFaudio Podcast #211 – Beside Still Waters by Robert Sheckley, narrated by Julie Davis. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (9 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Julie Davis, and Rose Davis.
Talked about on today’s show:
Futurama, The Odyssey, Argos (Odysseus’ dog), a cup of sadness, depressing and beautiful, packed in sensitivity, The Status Civilization by Homer, Ray Bradbury, Amazing Stories, cold war worries, racism, Genesis, Psalms, Philip K. Dick, Eric S. Rabkin, there is no truth about what’s really happening in fiction, the final arbiter is the word, Martha, the 23rd psalm, Martha’s story, Julie’s patron saint, an expensive ointment, this slab of rock, “no girl he had ever known”, make a C.L.A.I.M., how many characters are in this story?, three?, Four?, robots, it was always night on Martha, everything is alive, Look! Language!, bedtime forever, Charles is Adam, a man created in the image of man, God isn’t interested in girls, the father he had never known, the “immaculate” shack, God is hard to find, the pallor of space, deprogramming the slave circuit, Willis the robot, the etymology of Charles (coming from Carl), the robot is a “free man”, …, “he restoreth my soul”, “I will fear no evil”, graveside usage, Robert Alter’s translation of Genesis, familiar yous, soul vs. spirit vs. breath vs. ghosts, God breathes, Gospel of John, Pentecost, neither water nor air, Martha’s tapped out, a Wall-E situation, was Charles sent by God?, was he an Angel?, once we start down the name path…, Mother Theresa, the guest/host relationship, God as the shepherd, in the shadow of death, flail and crook, rod and staff, Charles as Mark’s better self, Science Fiction, Martha as bitter, the “black tamed soil”, Martha as one, the Aramaic meaning, baby name websites, prefigurement, Exodus, graveyards, the purpose of slabs in graveyards, R.U.R. by Karel Čapek, Galactic Pot-Healer, Eldorado by Edgar Allan Poe, Don Quixote, “over the mountains of the moon”, it was not good for Man to be alone, bone of his bones, the end miracle, something from outside of the story, rusted servos, “Where’s my hankie?”
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny’s list of recent arrivals,
Into The Void: Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi by Tim Lebbon, Seak (Bryce L.) has reviewed Star Wars, Invincible (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) by Jack Campbell, Steve Gibson likes it, Swarm (Star Force Series #1) and Extinction (Star Force Series #2) by B.V. Larson, maybe Terpkristin will do it, Nosferatu (Area 51) by Bob Mayer (or Robert Doherty?), World War Z: The Complete Edition, An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks, more diverse narrators, SFF Audio review of original edition in 2007, “We Are The World”, Titanium Rain: Episode One by Josh Finney (graphic novel) and Kat Rocha (adaptation) – starring full cast (motion comic trailer), Fast Times at Fairmont High by Vernor Vinge, hey that’s where Rainbows End came from, |OUR READALONG OF RAINBOWS END|, Island 731 by Jeremy Robinson, Jeremy’s interview on Sfsignal, it’s like Michael Crichton, The Far Time Incident by Neve Masklakovic, Mary Kowal blogs about it, we think it’s first written in English, Finch (Ambergris #3) by Jeff Vandermeer, (I read a summary from Dan Schwent’s review on Goodreads), ambergris is a solid waxy substance from sperm whales, (this video is why I said ambergris came from a whale’s butt), Widow’s Web (Elemental Assassin #7) by Jennifer Estep, spider-woman, Through the Door (The Thin Veil #1) by Jodi McIsaac, “this one’s in the woods”, a Freakonomics podcast about names, The Exiled Blade (The Assassini #3) by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Da Vinci’s Demons gets the animals wrong, What’s a macaw?, Memories of Ice (Malazan Book of the Fallen #3) by Steven Erikson, it’s a big one at 44 hours, The God Patent by Ransom Stephens is science fiction programmers, Neal Stephenson gets more fiction with science like he asked for, A Maze Of Death, gelatinous cube-shaped beings, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, “get me a young Jack Nicholson”, Deus Irae (with Roger Zelazny), a play on “Dies Irae“, Dr. Futurity, Galactic Pot-Healer |OUR READALONG|, and Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick, giant aliens, outside sff, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan (narrator too), Pollan on Colbert, kimchi is Korean fermented vegetables, Safe Journey: Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls by Julia Cameron, books are Jesse’s drug, she-crab soup, male vs female crab, Jenny’s accent talent, Consequences (Stone Barrington #26!) by Stuart Woods, a male Jacqueline Suzanne, Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick is historical non-fiction, new Barry Malzberg audio, most known for Enemy Mine, hermaphrodite, Robert Aspirin, comic fantasies, The Drought (The Burning World) by J.G. Ballard, “what the hell?”, readalong?, Crash book and movie, Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell on Downpour, is YA usually first person?, Why We Read Fiction by Lisa Zunshine, Jenny has already read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, I’m waiting for Joe Hill’s Nos4a2, “do you know who I am??”
Posted by Tamahome