The SFFaudio Podcast #248 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Goliah by Jack London

January 20, 2014 by · 2 Comments
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #248 – Goliah by Jack London; read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (57 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Bryan Alexander, Seth, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Colossus: The Forbin Project; title’s reference to biblical Goliath; story’s title a reference to the famous Pacific steam ship; colonial capitalism; the story’s Gilded Age context; child labor; Eugene Debs and American socialism; Karl Marx; Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan; the story’s fictional energon evocative of Transformers energon; Nikola Tesla; Goliah has a palantir; Goliah as Santa Claus; the story’s invented island Palgrave in the South Sea; parallels to London’s other speculative fiction including The Iron Heel; the story’s unreliable narrator; Asgard; origin stories and foundation myths; nineteenth-century racism rears its ugly head again; Übermenschen; contempt for military and militarism; The Unparalleled Invasion; Seth works too hard; the theoretical increase of productivity through automation; 1984Twilight casting a sparkly shadow over modern culture; Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward as a possible influence; Karl Marx’s German Ideology; the importance of laughter; Herland; the story as a response to nihilism; similarities between Guy de Maupassant and Friedrich Nietzsche; The Scarlet PlagueCanticle for Leibowitz; the medieval investiture controversy; animal metaphors in Goliah; accurate predictions of World War I; structural similarity to the Book of Job; “you don’t get a lot of laughter in the Old Testament”; Arslan by M.J. Engh; The Bookman literary magazine; It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby; steampunk by tag cloud; we make a dismal attempt at discussing the Stock Market; the dark underbelly of Goliah’s utopia; the unrealistic perpetuation of a utopia; Autofac and Pay for the Printer by Philip K. Dick; With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Lenin’s dying wish; Jules Verne; Goliah relinquishing power; Hot Fuzz; more on the palantir and the NSA; “grumblers grumble”; attitudes toward the criminally insane; “Goliah has spoken”; nukes not MOOCs; Cuban Missile Crisis; Douglas MacArthur biography American Caesar by William Manchester; Doctor Who episode “The Happiness Patrol”; Japanese Manga Death Note; the “bread and roses” U.S. labor strike contemporary with Jack London; the Pax Romana; The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker, a discourse on lethal violence; the Franco-Prussian War; Earle Labor’s Jack London: An American Life available in audio.

Colossus The Forbin Project

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #243 – READALONG: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

December 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #243 – Jesse, Jenny, Bryan Alexander, Terpkristin, and Maissa Bessada discuss the 1915 novel Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Talked about on today’s show: [Note: references to the novel are in bold, while references to the eponymous country are not.] “Lost utopian novel”; first appeared in book form in 1979 as part of an effort to rediscover works by female authors; was it suppressed by patriarchy?; the novel launches with action; features Heinlein-esque; the story feels very alien despite transpiring on Earth, takes place in an unnamed jungle region presumed to be either South America or Africa; Herland grouped as part of a trilogy along with an unrelated novel Moving the Mountain and the direct sequel With Her in Ourland; the book originally appeared in serialized form in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s own magazine; grounded in “utopian” and “lost race” tradition of the period which pick apart aspects of society; Heinlein’s and Gilman’s sexism compared and contrasted; “virgin impregnation” compared with conception of Christ; foundation of Herland as a Roman-style slave revolt; “what a world of slaves it was” Goslings quote echoed in Herland; utopian ecology (plants, animals); Jesse calls it “Mother Knows Best totalitarianism”; “intentional Darwinism”; eugenics foreshadowing World War II; Bryan brings up The King in Yellow again; protagonists give threefold approach to women; punishment in Herland more akin to child-rearing foregoing execution; Leviticus does advocate execution; both the male protagonists and the Herland women are archetypical; The Yellow Wallpaper; utopia or dystopia; unreliable narrator and narrative; Jesse argues that there’s “no drama in a perfect society” and the book has a terrible plot; eighteenth-century feminist utopia Millennium Hall; Jenny says the sequel’s plot is even worse; immortality and living in Heaven; no dogs in Herland, only cats; subservience of aesthetics to productivity; “their country was as neat as a Dutch kitchen”; childhood Jesse conflated cats and dogs; cats and dogs emblematic of gender relations in Herland; Herland is a baby-proof world; more about narrator bias in the novel; Gilman projecting her own views on mental disorder into the book; 1984 parallels; The Mysterious Doctor Fu Manchu; comparison to Goslings; why does Herland want to integrate men?; sexual dynamics in marriage; Castle Waiting by Linda Medley, a medieval utopia about bearded women; Y: The Last Man series by Brian K. Vaughan; female politicians behaving like men e.g. Margaret Thatcher; Barbara W. Tuchman and the “fallen tower” of World War I era society; utopian societies lack practical advice for the here-and-now; Origin of Species debated as source of eugenics; education in Finland; education as driving force in Herland; “only our best become teachers”; Montesori; No Child Left Behind; the perils of individualism in a utopia; “fashion and women go together” says Jesse; Jenny shares insights on potential contributions from women in the sequel; a debate on why Herland never took off; patriotism and its linguistic roots; more on the novel’s World War I context; Willa Cather’s WWI novel One of Ours; “trilogy” of novels packaged as e-book.

The ForeRunner by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #242 – AUDIOBOOK: Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

December 9, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #242 – Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, read by William Dufris.

First published serially from January to December 1915 in The ForeRunner, this UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (7 Hours 2 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of Tantor Media and their collection of “Unabridged Classics”.

Thanks Tantor!

Three American young men discover a country inhabited solely by women.

Come back for our next episode (SFFaudio Podcast #243) to hear our discussion of Herland.

TANTOR MEDIA - Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #236 – AUDIOBOOK READALONG: The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard

October 28, 2013 by · 2 Comments
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #236 – The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard, read by Paul Boehmer (courtesy of Tantor Media’s The Savage Tales Of Solomon Kane). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (60 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Matthew Sanborn Smith, and Bryan Alexander

Talked about on today’s show:
Second-to-last Solomon Kane story chronologically, “Red Shadows” and “Wings of the Night” close contenders for Solomon Kane stories, the latter featuring harpies from Jason and the Argonauts, history of Solomon’s staff explained in other stories, fetishes (not THAT kind!), joojoo stick, magical weapons, Wandering Star edition illustrated by Gary Gianni, comic book adaptations, vampire-slaying, story uncharacteristically well-plotted including foreshadowing, “plains and hills full of lions” oh my!, lion sleeping habits, “Africa is full of never-explained mysteries” excuses plot holes, prefigures Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, Kate Beckinsale’s Underworld movies, one of few stories to depict ‘nation of vampires’, Kiss of the Vampire (film), Transylvania, homeopathic symbolism, sex sells, ‘Howardian damsel in distress’, voodoo, feminization of the jungle, homoerotic undertones, Howard biography Blood and Thunder by Mark Finn, post-Colonial critique, vampires in fiction oscillate between sexualized and homicidal, Stephen King slams Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight vampires, Nosferatu (relatively unknown at the time of this story’s writing) introduced the idea that sunlight kills vampires, the Devil as source of Kane’s lustful urges, “Howard doesn’t do metaphors very well”, vampire-zombie continuum, Howard as great visual writer, animal characteristics ascribed to Kull and Conan but not Kane, snake imagery (related to serpent in Garden of Eden?), Slave Coast, vultures, nature of the soul, “Rogues in the House” (written in one sitting while Howard had a headache), the dangers of over-interpreting Howard, Howard’s subconscious, early 20th-century magazines preoccupied with race, Cosmpolitan (it was once a literary magazine), race hierarchy, Solomon Kane less racist than Howard himself, racial hierarchy, Berbers, Solomon Kane’s conflicted personality, the New Model Army, Howard’s characters are solitary, Puritans, Kane has a death wish, Kane’s celibacy, significance of Solomon Kane’s name, Ben Jonson satirizes Puritan names (in Bartholomew Fayre), so does Terry Pratchett (in Lords and Ladies, Mormonism, concept of congregation of all believers, English Civil War and its sects, Grendel in Beowulf as descendant of Cain, Sandman comics, Kane is “always on the road”, Matthew Hopkins witchfinder general, wood imagery, we learn what a palaver is, The Dark Tower series, temptation, inquisition, H. P. Lovecraft, cohesion of Howard’s works, history of the English language, George Harrison’s coyright infringement, parallel evolution in fiction, Clark Ashton Smith, Charles Baudelaire, genocide, the importance of a shared reader-author premise, shared cultural values, Hitler, The King in Yellow, Woodrow Wilson was a racist, zombies vs. animals.

The Hills Of The Dead - Illustration by Greg Staples

The Hills Of The Dead by Robert E. Howard

The Hills Of The Dead

Solomon Kane's Fetish Staff

Solomon Kane in Africa

Posted by Seth Wilson

The SFFaudio Podcast #231

September 23, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #231 – Jesse and Luke Burrage (from the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast) talk to audiobook narrator Simon Vance.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jonathan Davis, Pat Fraley, Scott Brick is the Brad Pitt of audiobooks and Simon Vance is the George Clooney of audiobooks, how Simon Vance got started, reel to reel tape recorder, Winnie The Pooh, BBC Radio 4, 1980s, Brighton, RNIB, Grover Gardner, George Guidall, The Book At Bedtime, Margaret Thatcher, California, San Francisco, Christian and devotional audiobooks, “we sound more intelligent (but we’re not)”, Stieg Larsson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Audiofile Magazine, Earphone Awards, England, Sweden, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the apprenticeship, Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan, a classic dystopia, Thirteen (aka Black Man), The Steel Remains, The Cold Commands, artfulness and in-artfulness of narration, Doctor Who, overwhelming music -> overwhelming emotion, The Lord Of The Rings, the good narrators do the unexpected, “boo”, Dune by Frank Herbert (the full-cast audiobook), Goodreads.com, Simon Prebble, V For Vendetta by Steve Moore, the comic + the movie + Simon Vance = great audiboook, Natalie Portman was awesome, Stephen Rea, most novelizations are terrible, Hugo Weaving, James Bond, Ian Fleming, AudioGo, Blackstone Audio, the Green Knowe books, Listen And Live, Kate Fleming, The Prestige by Christopher Priest, a complicated book, a second chance, The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast review of The Prestige (episode #177), the movie of The Prestige, a final trick, one of the best Science Fiction movies of the last ten years, a thinking man’s book (and movie), The Illusionist, stage magic vs. CGI magic, The Magic Circle, Left for Dead: The Untold Story Of The Tragic 1979 Fastnet Race by Nick Ward and Sinead O’Brien, survival, Antarctica, fiction vs. non-fiction, a cabinet of heads, WWII, the Patrick O’Brian books (the Aubrey–Maturin series), Master And Commander, the incomplete book 21, Robert Hardy and Tim Piggot-Smith, what SFF Simon Vance book should we check out?, The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough, The Exodus Towers, The Plague Forge, zombie apocalypse, aliens, “good honest adventure”, Pan Books Of Horror, c, Rama, Rama II, The Man In The High Castle, Philip K. Dick, Mark Twain, Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, a PDF listing Simon Vance’s audiobooks, out of print audiobooks, Audible.com, Christopher Priest’s other audiobooks are done by other audiobook narrators, Peter Ganim, Robert J. Sawyer, The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks, rights issues, keep your audiobooks.

V For Vendetta read by Simon Vance

Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan - read by Simon Vance

Market Forces by Richard K. Morgan - read by Simon Vance

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: Downpour.com – an audiobook delivery system that just works

March 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Downpour.comDownpour.com, Blackstone Audio’s online audiobook store, is a genuine competitor to Audible.com.

It offers audiobook downloads of titles, from Blackstone Audio’s extensive catalogue, and also those from many other audiobook publishers like Recorded Books, Harper Audio, Penguin Audio, Hachette Audio, and AudioGo.

Their subscription service is almost identically priced to Audible’s, each offers one credit per month for about $15. And, like an Audible credit Audible.com, a Downpour credit almost always gets you one audiobook.

I signed up for Downpour when they started late last Summer. And so far, I really, really like it.

I’ve had an account with Audible.com since 2001. But Audbile.com has always caused one giant problem for me: DRM.

DRM is actually designed to prevent you sharing your audiobook with your friends and family.

But worse, it can also make it difficult for you, the owner of the audiobook that you bought, to actually listen to what you have paid for.

Over the years I’ve spent countless hours trying to make an audiobook, that I bought, play on my audiobook players.

Every single time I’ve bought a new computer, iPod, iPad, or iPhone I’ve spent time authorizing and deauthorizing my devices. Sometimes it just takes a couple of minutes, sometimes hours.

Audible’s DRM makes you have to authorize your iTunes account, and your computer, and your iPhone, and your iPad, and your iPod. And you have to deauthorize your old devices to make the new devices work. You can’t have all of your devices authorized if you have more than three.

I just want my audiobooks to work like regular books, I want them to open up and give me their ideas. DRM cripples your ability to do that.

Downpour.com has no DRM at all. It just works.

In fact it works absolutely perfectly.

You make a purchase, it shows up in your online library, and then it downloads and delivers itself to your devices.

It is smoother than any audiobook service I’ve ever seen. It’s even smoother than Tantor Media’s excellent DRM-FREE download service.

If you use an iOS device for an audiobook, like I do, I’m betting Downpour.com is will work for you.

If you use a different audiobook player Downpour offers MP3s, which work with every audio player.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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