Talked about on today’s show:
Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! = 1973 Soylent Green; Seth misattributes A. Lee Martinez’s The Automatic Detective to Harry Harrison; Harry Harrison doesn’t know anything about science, but he’s big on comedy; Robert Sheckley; the novel’s dark tone; J.G. Ballard’s Billenium also focuses on overpopulation; Seth has never seen Soylent Green; Charlton Heston is the science fiction Will Smith of the 1960s and 1970s; Soylent Green is more a sequel to Make Room! Make Room! than an adaptation; horrible people with money living in nice buildings; crapsack; China’s one-child policy; large families in the South; tilapia is the aquatic chicken, freshwater fish from the Nile; the movie has a greater emphasis on global warming; overpopulation as a trending topic in the late 1960s and early 1970s according to Internet Speculative Fiction Database; environmental issues, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, DDT; slightly alternate history in the novel involving Thailand’s invasion of China; refugees comparable to Vietnam boat people; very little science fiction in the novel; resource depletion as a theme in both book and movie; comparison to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach; comparisons to Logan’s Run, which features a “crapsaccharine” future; the bad guy is us; weed crackers; tilapia symbolic of the devolving food chain; modern China is the wild west of capitalism–you can get eggs without egg; wild fish populations like salmon, cod, and walleye dwindling in our own world; the wastefulness of shark fin soup; Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons; on crowded apartments; the positive impact of contraception and birth control; economic prosperity’s ameliorative effect on population growth; hunter-gatherer societies don’t have pharmacies; “abstinence goes against human nature”; RU486; is religion the bad guy in the novel; Peter, the novel’s religious fanatic; you don’t see old people in Hollywood movies anymore; the endless chase for youth; we now live in Logan’s Run; actors and athletes die at 30; Achille’s Choice by Larry Niven; sexism in Soylent Green, women are furniture; difference in tone between the novel and the movie; in the movie, corruption is systemic; on bribing officials in third-world countries; over interpretation; the book as-is isn’t fixable; secrets in movies like The Sixth Sense and Signs; “you can’t get kids to watch old things”; Charlton Heston has bad politics; 1976 Hugo Awards; the shipyards are a throwback to World War II, resemble floating Roman ruins, made of ferroconcrete; there’s not enough war in this novel; stabilizing influence of war in George Orwell’s 1984; Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge; worldwide water shortages; Paolo Bacigalupi’s forthcoming The Water Knife; Robert Bloch’s 1958 This Crowded Earth; Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke on the moon landing; youth culture doesn’t love intelligence; elderly U.S. presidents; Netflix’s Daredevil; Saul is the novel’s most likable character; Andy and Saul, don’t call it a bromance; the movie lacks the book’s humanity; the movie is the cynical Chinatown version of reality; Hollywood used to tackle real-life issues in movies, now all we get is The Day after Tomorrow and 2012; we like John Cusack; Airport 1975 with more Charlton Heston action; the tragedy is that most people don’t recognize parodies; the novel’s resonance with the current unrest in Baltimore; the book and the movie are both good medicine; embrace the silent green–or yellow!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era
1 hour 25 minutes – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / artificial intelligence / biological life / augmented humans / artificial life / rogue planets /
I admire the Brad Lansky series for a couple of reasons. First and most obvious is the sound. This production is a rich soundscape that invites a listener to settle in, eyes closed. Again, J.D. Venne (writer) and Dieter Zimmermann (producer) inspire the listener’s imagination by using aural cues instead of description to provide the setting for the story.
Second, the Brad Lansky stories are genuine hard science fiction. Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era opens with a speech given by Dr. Brinn Diaz, an augmented human. She discusses artificial life (a-life) and biological life (b-life). “B-life has been losing the race since the singularity a millennium ago,” she says. She is both “project and project architect”, having changed her body in various ways, including raising the number of brains on board to three.
Brad Lansky and Dr. Diaz play an important role in an encounter with an invisible world that hurtles toward Earth, threatening to eliminate b-life for good.
I highly recommend this episode and the whole series. It’s great fun and wonderfully rich unique audio.
Enjoy a sample: Brad Lansky and the Rogue Era Trailer
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
Talked about on today’s show:
1990, what was it about this book…, nothing much happens, utopia, utopian novels generally don’t exist, Brave New World, conflict, the only death in the book, if it was a literary novel, Ramona’s thighs, almost a perfect novel, “constructed”, softball, batting a thousand, light symbolism, Tom in Switzerland, so much to think about during the lazy days, a magical transformation, fascinatingly insightful, what human beings are trying to do all the time, “that’s the novel I wanted to read”, a tryptic, The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, three Californias growing out of the 1980s, cyberpunk, Orange County, TSA, the water situation, Chinatown, machinations, evil corporations, KSR is a really smart guy, a genuine world, comparing to Heinlein’s bad guys, conflict (or lack thereof), why theater is fun, wrestling!, softball, his Mars books, baseball as a metaphor, small ball, a small ball utopia, the October of his own utopia, what are utopia, an almost meta-SF novel, Utopia by Sir Thomas More, “must redefine utopia … the process of making a better world … struggle forever”, 2065, a bigger theater, fewer baseball diamonds, starting from scratch won’t work, there’s a lot of work to be done, an underpopulated world, how we got there, emigration to Space, the understated Mars landing, the drought in California, climate change (global warming), Antarctica, Worldcon 2006, Anaheim, Luke Burrage’s review of The Gold Coast, he’s sophisticated, Shaman, the four shamanic elements: air/earth/fire/water, sooo well constructed, the mask party, great magic bullshit, not The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Prisoners Of Gravity, Harlan Ellison and Neil Gaiman, tackling a really substantial subject, an almost bullet-proof approach, the economy doesn’t work and the geology doesn’t work (in The Lord Of The Rings), the housing situation, Viking style or Haida style, its all fashion, the defining look of how any utopia can work, the economic model, socialism, Stephen Harper, [Kim Stanley Robinson] has thought of everything, the black banks, some sort of federal system?, the New Oregon Trail?, a local government utopia, it’s a certain kind of communism, Alfredo, labour taxation, another junction box, there’s still money but nobody is talking about it, the scene at the fire, the community is the fire department, no police, what do you do with criminals?, exile, Amish communities exist at the sufferance of the surrounding state, they’ve got Skype/Facetime, we have to not hate our brothers around the world, sister cities, delegations, Paul takes exception, Minneapolis, magnifying certain aspects (and shrinking others), the Greens have had there day, what’s going to happen, where’s the public library?, an ebb and flow, drag racing, Oscar’s interests, neighbors invading is the only possible hole, an ecological society, an ecology of local systems, by not competing in the way that some can compete you’re going to get crushed, if the utopia is unstable…, Kevin as the catalyst, small solutions, a feel good message, the Athenian polis approach to community, who started that fire?, the evil mustachio thing, if we asked KSR, he’s earned that, A Short Sharp Shock, the kerosene … who did it?, a happy death, let’s spend some time here, When Tam asked: “Does it get less boring?”, going back to work, how to deal with reality, moderation in all things including moderation, smoking, Kim Stanley Robinson is incredibly wise, a very wise book, relationship stigmas have been done away with, casual but not disposable, no ideology, take out the thing that you like, whatever system they seem to have…, the inevitable swinging of a pendulum, Arthur C. Clarke’s The City And The Stars (aka Against The Fall Of Night), frozen in time with a focus on art, Nineteen-Eighty Four and Brave New World are forever dystopias, “interpenetration”, a metal ceramic material, Oscar’s hike, going for walks, reality entering a body, we are a part of our environment, a religious moment, the mask party, as a motif word, every part of the community interacts, they live inside each others’ homes, a great scene of Alfredo and Kevin working shoulder to shoulder, Rattlesnake Hill is a symbol for Kevin, that’s no human nature, Jenny’s visits to former utopian society, the Shaker village in Kentucky, New Harmony, Indiana, we’re living in a utopia, how many times have you guys run for city council, campaigning is not fun, trying to convince people door to door is a horrible job, maybe its time, it IS what he’s saying, a bitter pill, KSR’s bio, Jesse’s mom, tons of meetings, we tried to go to a movie theater, the inertia of a city council is less, “turning the ship”, Jenny’s really good example, Greencastle, Indiana, no discrimination if you do business with the city, Our Angry Earth by Frederik Pohl and Isaac Asimov, get organized, maybe that sense of mobility is the problem, love the place you’re at, utopia is not a destination it’s an activity, The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond, staying where you were born, it goes both ways, Ted Cruz, subversive groups, Anonymous, different strategies, Last Week Tonight, Jon Oliver’s interview with Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, dick pics, high-minded people are all sold, does this program have your dick pick?, you need a comedian, LIBERTY!, go with the dick pic.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1957, more Dick than non-Dick, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, Valis, Dick off the rails, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, a Bevatron is a thing, if you die in an unreal world does it have gravitas?, the gravitas comes with escape, puzzle solving vs. mortal peril, simulated lives, anime, Ergo Proxy, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Inner Light“, the days of episodic TV, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, eight worlds?, religious, Victorian world, horror world, communist world, mental beliefs, Mysterium by Robert Charles Wilson, gnostic Christianity, Bábism, Bahá’í religion, Harry Turtledove, Yazidis, the connection to languages, Hamilton’s religiosity, Ohm’s Law, a car manual as a prayer book, the whole place gets damned, angels, a cartoon of the Victorians, a horse wearing trousers, a cow did something very natural, abolishing, censorship world, the narrator, deleting things from the universe, metals!, they’ll kill the universe, the Star Trek: The Next Generation “Remember Me“, Delirious (1991), a house that eats people, the carpet licked them back, a consensual hallucination, role-playing game style, Chapter 14, the walls sweated saliva, The Twilight Zone: The Movie, It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby, banished to cartoon world, excrete some buttons on the back porch, a man-hater, middle-aged man dandruff, seeing miracles everywhere, seeing everyone as a predator, the cat!, Ninny Numbcat, a kind of peristaltic wave, “praying that it could be killed”, the most horrific thing ever, the Damon Knight story Four In One, gestalt, projecting on to the world, poor people, very odd, the Freudian psychology of it, a perverse pleasure, one of Dick’s themes, sexless creatures, playing records as a euphemism, wives are pretty rare, Dick’s perfect woman, being a communist, so McCarthyistic, the Red Scare, the super-patriots are the most easily manipulated, Total Recall, an errant earwig, oh heavens!, just a co-incidence, are they still trapped in the Bevatron?, how they make anime show titles, random, why do they keep looking at their food?, confusing and mysterious, René Descartes, cogito ergo sum, ergo = therefore, Django Wexler, boring and illogical, stilted conventions?, visual grammar, Yes Minister, the economy in The Fellowship Of The Ring, no anime Jesse has seen has an economy, gold pressed latinum, making the viewer at ease with thigh length boots, trapped in a universe that makes no sense, Skiffy and Fanty, Ghost In The Shell, Akira, Akira Kurosawa, Summer Wars, The Wings of Honnêamise, a weird logic, the Electronics Development Agency, phone lines to God, the visit to God, a Fall, the mundanity of Earth, the Book of Acts, inflating and deflating worlds, The Father-Thing, Invaders From Mars, The Hanging Stranger, feeling sexy, enjoying the prudish world, storks!, Santa Claus style lies, sublimating the urge for sex, the bowerbird, animal art, Shakespearean sonnets are about seduction, a playful book, a day off of work to take a cat to the pet show, a spinning-up of a world, rejecting the premises, Stranger Than Fiction (2006), Emma Thompson.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Martian Chronicles
By Ray Bradury; Performed by Mark Boyett
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours
Themes: / Mars / science fiction / short stories /
Ray Bradbury is a storyteller without peer, a poet of the possible, and, indisputably, one of America’s most beloved authors. In a much-celebrated literary career that has spanned seven decades, he has produced an astonishing body of work: unforgettable novels, essays, theatrical works, screenplays and teleplays, and numerous superb short-story collections, including The Martian Chronicles: masterfully rendered stories of Earth’s settlement of the fourth world from the sun. Bradbury’s Mars is a place of hope, dreams, and metaphor—of crystal pillars and fossil seas—where a fine dust settles on the great empty cities of a silently destroyed civilization. It is here the invaders have come to despoil and commercialize, to grow and to learn—first a trickle, then a torrent rushing from a world with no future toward a promise of tomorrow. The Earthman conquers Mars…and then is conquered by it, lulled by dangerous lies of comfort and familiarity, and enchanted by the lingering glamour of an ancient, mysterious native race.Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is a classic work of twentieth-century literature whose extraordinary power and imagination remain undimmed by time’s passage. In connected, chronological stories, the grandmaster of science fiction enthralls, challenges, and delights us, exposing in stark and stunning spacelight our strengths, our weaknesses, our follies, and our poignant humanity, on a strange and breathtaking world where humanity does not belong.
I’ve never read anything by Mr. Bradbury before. I’m not really well read in the “classics”. There is too much modern stuff I want to read, and in general I prefer fantasy to Sci-Fi. But when Brilliance Audio was releasing some of his better known works on Audio CD (although the production itself was done by Audible) last year, I jumped at the chance to finally give him a try.
I’ve been in a bit of a reading funk this year, and was trying to figure out what to read AFTER this book to get me out of it. Since it was short, I wanted to listen to it sooner rather than later, write up my review then move onto something else.
Apparently I just needed to listen to this. Apart from one story (Way in the Middle of the Air) which made me really uncomfortable and showed it’s age. It appears to have been eliminated from several of the more recent editions of this book, and I wish I had skipped it as it really adds very little to this collection.
Everything else was enjoyable. A bit depressing, but enjoyable. Mr. Bradbury paints a bleak picture of a future that thankfully never came. This isn’t hard sci-fi by any means, but more like dystopian space opera.
I would have never thought something bleak would lighten my mood, but the stories were that good, and the prose are excellent. They reminded me a lot of the Twilight Zone, although I know these stories predate that show. I think The Silent Towns could easily have been an episode of the show, as could several others.
I think my favorite of the collection is Usher II. I can’t pretend to get all the references apart from Poe and Lovecraft, but his tale of revenge for censorship is quite good. I’ll have to check out the Poe story The Fall of the House of Usher that seems to have influenced it.
Mark Boyett’s voice reminds me a bit of Rod Serling, which as I get into a bit below seemed a perfect fit. I know there are multiple versions of the audiobook. I’m not sure how easy they are to get a hold of, but this one seems like a good option.
Overall this is an excellent collection of stories, and if like me you haven’t read it/anything by Mr. Bradbury, this seems like as good a place as any to start.
Review by Rob Zak.
By Steven Erikson; Read by MacLeod Andrews
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 hours
Themes: / science fiction / space / spoof / homage /
These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the.…And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through ‘the infinite vastness of interstellar space.’The New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.
Willful Child by Steven Erikson tells the rambling adventures of Captain Hadrian Sawback and his crew after his appointment to the A.S.F. Willful Child. It’s a broad comedy Star Trek spoof that feels as episodic as the TV show with no bigger story arc to tie everything together. What begins as an often interrupted quest to bring an AI to her home system (a quest that turns out to be pointless as the AI neither learns nothing of her origins nor cares) becomes a haphazard rescue mission requested by the seemingly unrelated, quickly forgotten characters from the prologue. But in a book like this, the plot is obviously a vehicle for the antics of our heroic captain.
Hadrian Sawback, the recently assigned starship captain, is much like if Captain Kirk was played by Stan Smith from American Dad. While possessing all of lewdness of Captain Brannigan, he lacks his naivety and instead acts with reckless abandon and no thought as to the consequences of his actions. His crew, chosen from head shots, is either incompetent or disapproving. Like most of the secondary characters, they are underdeveloped and reactionary. One of the exceptions is the rather disgusting, mucus-y aliens who are the main villains of the story. While their body fluid-based comedy is not to my taste, they do have their own goals and help provide a sense of continuity. However, they do not provide much of a challenge to Sawback, who, to be fair, experiences little difficulty with anything.
The whole story relies heavily on science fiction tropes and gets more and more slapstick as it goes. Erikson is a good writer but your enjoyment of the book will be dependent on your sense of humor. If you enjoy excessive alien mating, awkward cross-dressing and frequent Star Trek parodies, this you’ll love this book. MacLeod Andrews does a wonderful job with the narration and manages to bring life to even the most minor characters. It’s a perfect light summer read.
Posted by Rose D.