The SFFaudio Podcast #228 – Jesse and Jenny talk about the Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon.
Talked about on today’s show:
the near and far future, not a novel, an imagined planetary history, the scope, Penguin Books, philosophy, the introduction, The Iron Heel by Jack London, a future history, human civilizations, two thousand million years (two billion years), universes => galaxy, man is a small part of the universe, Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon, Doctor Who, 2001: A Space Odyssey, what the plot would look like if there was one, the eighteen periods of man, evolution and construction, it’s set in 1930, is there ever an end to humanity?, Last Men In London by Olaf Stapledon, Last And First Men was popular in its day, Stapledon served in the ambulance service in WWI, plotlessness, period themes, the flying theme, the depletion of fossil fuels, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Venus, Mars, Neptune, the Martians, the Venusians, the genocide on Venus, Luke Burrage (the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast), racism, a Science Fiction mythology, the poetic musical ending, deep time, to the end of the Earth and beyond, Stapledon as an historian, civilizations always fall, there’s no one thing that ends civilizations, humanity as a symphony, the returns to savagery, establishing the pattern, Arthur C. Clarke, The House On The Borderlands by William Hope Hodgson, The Night Lands, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, H.P. Lovecraft and cosmicism, the Wikipedia entry for Last And First Men, Fritz Leiber, Forrest Ackerman, scientificion, matchless poignancy, S. Fowler Wright, Lovecraft’s love of the stars (astronomy), one of the species of man is a monkey, another a rabbit, no jokes but perhaps humour, a cosmic joke, monkeys have made human their slaves, Planet Of The Apes, an ability to hear at the subatomic level, intelligence, a fourteen foot brain supported by ferroconcrete, obsession with gold, obsession with diamonds, pulping people, it’s written like a history textbook or essays, the Patagonia explosion, the upstart volcanoes, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, chiseling knowledge into granite, Olaf loved coming up with different sexual relationships, the 20 year pregnancy, suicide, euthanasia, an unparalleled imagination, groupthink, telepathy, oversimplification, we must press on, the baboon-like submen, the seal-like Submen, the divergence of man into other ecological niches, the number of ants in New York, ecosystems, nuclear weapons, robots are missing, where is the robot man?, the over-emphasis on fossil fuels as the only source of energy, if you could see us now, post-humans, ultimately a love letter to humanity, not aww but awwww!, Starmaker as a masterpiece, Sirius, uplifting a dog, a fantasy of love and discord, dog existentialism, who am I and where is my bone?, Olaf Stapledon in the PUBLIC DOMAIN, influential vs. famous, a very different read.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #221 – Jesse and Jenny talk about audiobook NEW RELEASES and RECENT ARRIVALS.
Talked about on today’s podcast:
“Spaaaaaaaaace and Military Sci-Fi and Aliens”, Humans by Matt Haig, Mark Meadows, Simon & Schuster Audio, Publisher’s Weekly, Jenny is a librarian, Douglas Adams, The Radleys, Boo Radley’s family?, The Simpsons Futurama Crossover Crisis, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Red Dwarf, Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird, a whole pile of stereotypes, Space Magic by David D. Levine, Tk’tk’tk, Escape Pod, aliens, Ancient China, Rewind, The Tale Of The Golden Eagle, are author collections more rare these days?, Charley The Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely, Twitter authority, Jenny’s stereotypical powers, “Classic/Epic/Traditional Fantasy (swords! magic! etc!)”, unclothed unicorns, A Discourse In Steel by Paul S. Kemp, Nick Podehl, Angry Robot, Brilliance Audio, Bryce L., Jenny’s fault!, Elisha Barber by E.C. Ambrose, James Clamp, terpkristin, historical epic fantasy, a biblical name, the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons = Doctor -> to Mr., Ms., or Mrs., The Coming Of The Ice by G. Peyton Wertenbaker, urban fantasy, Cast In Shadow by Michelle Sagara, Khristine Hvam, “something is stirring again”, “vaunted”, Gameboard Of The Gods by Richelle Mead, Emily Shaffer, Penguin Audio, Dawn V., Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, ONAN, The United States of North America, H20 (TV miniseries), a crime novel set in the future, steampunk, Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston, Jr., Luke Daniels, Springheeld Jack, fun names, do we have aliens in steampunk?, high-octane steampunk?, Rose Davis, cyberpunk, post-humans, robots, iD (Machine Dynasty #2) by Madeline Ashby, Luke Daniels, self-replicating human robots must have rights too!, The Year’s Top Ten Tales of Science Fiction 5 edited by Allan Kaster, Tom Dheere, Nancy Linari, Dara Rosenberg, Infinivox, Invisible Men by Christopher Barzak, Close Encounters by Andy Duncan, Bricks, Sticks, Straw by Gwyneth Jones, Arbeitskraft by Nick Mamatas, The Man by Paul McAuley, Nahiku West by Linda Nagata, Tyche And The Ants by Hannu Rajaniemi, Katabasis by Robert Reed, The Contrary Gardener by Christopher Rowe, Scout by Bud Sparhawk, katabasis as a trip to the underworld, Carniepunk by Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, Allison Pang, Kelly Gay, Delilah S. Dawson, Kelly Meding, Candace Thaxton, Kirby Heyborne, Simon & Schuster, Sweeney Todd, carnival themed, Joyland by Stephen King, Like Water For Elephants, The Night Circus, The Boys In The Boat: Nine Americans And Their Epic Quest For Gold At The 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown, Edward Herrman (the grandpa on Gilmore Girls), At The Mountains Of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft, Charlie Chan At The Olympics, Mary Lou Retton, Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Wayne June, Algernon Blackwood, William Hope Hodgson, Jesse thinks Wayne June is awesome, not scary but chilling, Neonomicon by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, Jenny hates censorship!, a horrifying book, Mike Bennett’s narration of The Shadow Over Innsmouth, this horrible wonderful book, necessary but not shown, From Hell, Johnny Depp, Jack The Ripper, Watchmen, what would that do to our world?, The Fall (TV miniseries), Gillian Anderson, Dexter, Breaking the Fourth Panel: Neonomicon and the Comic Book Frame, don’t look under the bed, angry reviews, Alan Moore is working on a new comic book series set in Providence and with H.P. Lovecraft as the main character, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft (edited by S.T. Joshi), A Good Story Is Hard To Find, The Dunwich Horror, ragged end paper?, Classic Tales Of Vampires And Shapeshifters, Mileskelly.net, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, Ghosted, Image Comics, WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer, Luke Burrage’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, inaudible audioboks from Audible!, podcasts have had this problem, the cost of not proof listening an audiobook or podcast is multiplied by its number of listeners, how many new audiobooks have been published through Audible Frontiers, unnecessary info-dumping, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman, self-identity, Among Others by Jo Walton, statue wedding, performing as a living statue, Viking Boy, Mike Vendetti, new short audiobooks, Science Fiction: A Very Short Introduction by David Seed, Brian Holsopple, “Lit Crit Punk”, how we got Rabkin, The Great Courses are now on Audible.com, TheGreatCourses.com, the popularity of MOOCs, Eric loves fairy tales, no homework!, Heartburn by Nora Ephron, Meryl Streep, thanks Eric!
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
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:
the premise, a Lovecraftian monster, malign desires upon the Earth, The Call Of The Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick, dead and not dead, city vs. cathedral, what if Cthulhu was a nice god?, Robert Sheckley, Voltairian style of comedic adventure, even the ending is a joke, super-depressing dystopian earths, “a machine-like” state of being, everyone in the book is suicidally depressed, the Glimmung, everyone is afraid of failure, I want you to map all the themes and the rising action, an existential book, the value and importance of work, the best pot-healer on Earth, failed marriage, “the game is so depressing”, clever but not uplifting, this is about our society (Twitter and podcasts), totally relevant for the internet age, Molly Yoyez, Richard Matheson’s repeated theme of the disconnection between people, “he you should listen to my podcast”, at least you can laugh, the last line of the book, the best of them, instead of just fixing or healing what is broken he is becoming a creator, “the pot was awful”, Philip K. Dick’s personal relationship with religion, history, church history, Roman history, wordplay, the meaning of “Mare Nostrum”, medicine of secret composition a placebo or patent medicine, to give them hope, agape, keritas, Happy Catholic, a body of Christ analogy, the power of Jesus, Christ stands empty handed, pointless existence, existential ennui or a disaffection with a lack of meaning in the universe (going back to Lovecraft), a symbolic version of deep time, a Jungian interpretation, the collective unconscious, is Joe Fernwright trying to find his soul?, his dead self, come to terms with death, “it’s your corpse”, “I have a box I’ve made”, it’s a coffin, distraction, the book title game, there are more allusions per square inch than other novels, Faust, albatrosses, “what Christ really was”, Willis the robot, unlimited power and unlimited knowledge, why does this cathedral need to be raised?, you love things that are stronger than you, forbidden love, “he felt apathy and there was nothing to be apathetic about”, incest, Amalita and Borel, God the creator, what is a cathedral essentially?, it is a church or THE Church, the bivalve character, the Book of the Calends, people being saved through work, “the robots are more alive (and human) than the people”, “the whole thing about robots”, ignoring your programming, Costco robots, “you can’t take pictures in here”, she could disregard the policy but she chooses not to, buckle your seat-belt, “whether you have a fate or not”, Willis doesn’t just do this roboting thing (he has aspirations to be a writer), thinking of other people not as people, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, LEGOing, WiFi vs. wireless, “be a human being for a minute”, programmed dreams, is the book prescient?, colostomy bag installation, it is inhumane not to be full of agape and keritas and worry for other people, the scene at the spaceport, THX-1138, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, “I gaze across the silence of the marshes”, the padre booth scene, Zen, “you have worked and not worked”, Puritan Ethic, Roman Catholic, Allah, Judaism, “a bowl of Martian fat-worm soup”, the dystopia of regulation and efficiency, friending and unfriending, if this is a book about religion…, pots are what he loves, why didn’t Joe break pots?, the spider in the cup, the little fisherman of the night, “the great fisherman of the night”, this is a book about doing not having done, aspiring and aspiration, busy work and the game, Snake by D.H. Lawrence, But even so, “from out the dark door of the secret earth”, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the bottle in the toilet tank, was there a giant snake down there?, the bones of a Black Glimmung, the bones looked like the bones of an Ark, come and be saved (a new Testament ark), beings in distress, the Glimmung is forcing their hands, “he loved us because we were alive”, Amalita means hard work, Calends -> Calendar, taxes, the ides of March, the allusions to Faust, Faustian-man striving upwards never satisfied, overcoming our bad-selves, reconcile yourself to death, overcome a fear of failure, the pot at the end of the world, “why didn’t you try something”, God in Genesis was very Faustian, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, co-creators with God, the swamp is the flooding of the perfect and the beautiful, Midnight In The Sunken Cathedral by Harlan Ellison, the fog-things of antiquity, infirm and senile, you can get a lot done on the telephone, Mr. Job and Mr. Lawyer, the robots are just as inhumane as the humans, the interplan corn and wheat bank, communism as absorbed into capitalism, crumbles as a unit of currency, Ploghman’s Planet, manifesting, the hovercraft, hello to you too, reading into it more, Julie wants to force Scott to read this book, poetry, Jesse reads The Raft Builders by Lord Dunsany, “hastily making rafts”, The Epic Of Gilgamesh, Robert Silverberg, other Philip K. Dick books, Philip K. Dick’s common book (The Exegesis), Galactic Pot-Healer is a piece of art, it was crafted, weaved, A Scanner Darkly, plots vs. ideas, having once thought to kill a senator, suicide, suicide by cop, upon re-reading, the use and abuse of drugs, ‘archaeologists will find him and know he was a misunderstood superman because he was holding a copy of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead‘, nihilism, Kurt Vonnegut, Harrison Bergeron, 2081, whack-job libertarian idea, the problem isn’t “the nanny state”, the inexplicably of Kurt Vonnegut’s popularity, the hopelessness of his books, triteness, Philip K. Dick’s deeper themes, Philip K. Dick’s simple short stories, “what is it that you find that’s better?”, the people are the pot = mind blown!, the cover art of Galactic Pot-Healer, how Glimmung manifests himself in the world is how Jesse imagines Julie, and Scott and Rose see God in the world, Glimmung has no concern for self-dignity, “Don’t lose faith. -G.”, this book is about depression, being out of work, suicide, “I have my own black dog I need to fight”, “I love this book”, “It is a great book.”
Posted by Jesse Willis
Recorded for an upcoming podcast discussion, here is Julie Davis‘ 9 minute reading of Beside Still Waters by Robert Sheckley.
When people talk about getting away from it all, they are usually thinking about our great open spaces out west. But to science fiction writers, that would be practically in the heart of Times Square. When a man of the future wants solitude he picks a slab of rock floating in space four light years east of Andromeda. Here is a gentle little story about a man who sought the solitude of such a location. And who did he take along for company? None other than Charles the Robot.
First published in Amazing Stories Oct.-Nov. 1953.
And here’s the |PDF| made from that original magazine publication.
Posted by Jesse Willis