The SFFaudio Podcast #234 – Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant; read by Mark Turetsky. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (39 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mark Turetsky, and Professor Chris Coski of Ohio University.
Talked about on today’s show:
One of the last Guy de Maupassant stories, fantasy podcasts, what genre is this story?, the mysterious, the macabre, the morbid, do we buy the narrator’s story?, Am I Insane? by Guy de Maupassant, the events that happen are insane, a horror story?, a satire of Gothic horror, it is a ridiculous premise, a mental institution, is he lying?, is he deluded?, the servants, very thorough thieves, the title, Maupassant is intentionally ambiguous, there’s always a grain of the opposite, a syphilitic brain crafts a masterful short story, is it a true-ish story?, Maupassant was kind of a loner, boating among other things, Maupassant liked his solitude, touring all the European cities, THE SIGN OF DEATH PRECEDES STRANGE EVENTS, “several hours”, if the furniture is taking the place of other people…, affection for objects, The Golden Braid (aka The Tress Of Hair), falling in love with an object, the writing desk and its contents, where did the writing desk go?, his letters his papers, his personal history is now gone, deracinate , visiting new places, the history of his heart, the photographs, his emotional life, the furniture is the mental faculties, the house is him,
“Then I suddenly discerned, on the threshold of my door, an armchair, my large reading easy-chair, which set off waddling [LIKE A DUCK]. It went away through my garden. Others followed it, those of my drawing-room, then my sofas, dragging themselves along like [CROCODILES] on their short paws; then all my chairs, bounding like [GOATS], and the little foot-stools, hopping like [RABBITS].”
his desk is like a wife who’s trying to run away, the repeated refrains, “imagine my feelings”, you stop being the reader and become a participant, the revolver, marauders, the doors are alive too, Rouen, his arms were there, gun nuts, the presentiments, the river Robec, the black nauseous waters, the second hotel scene mirrors the first, is the hotel an asylum, you found your mental faculties, he checks himself in (to the hotel and the asylum), are you a private gentleman?, is the asylum is a prison?, the fat bald little yellow bearded man from Rouen with a head like a moon, grammatically it doesn’t make sense, ambiguity, THE MOON, the witch’s sabbath crescent, the play “beautiful music and fairy life drama”, he’s had a spell cast on him, “a serious accident would certainly take place”, a paralytic stroke, the sound from outside his body, a humming, trains passing, clocks, marching multitudes, “the big one”, the crescendo, “Signad” in Swedish means “designed”, Sigurd, the ring cycle, dwarves, fantasy and reality mixing, were the cops playing along?, “this house communicates with it’s neighbors”, very weird, Jesse’s tweeted dream explanation: “Dreamt an explanation for WHO KNOWS? By Guy de Maupassant – the furniture was deleted, & their dissolution was confabulated.”, not a psychological interpretation, an ontological interpretation, accidentally deleting something, SimCity, ctrl-z, not a useful miracle, an incompetent higher power, “My god, my god”, “Merciful heaven”, no grudge against, Who knows?, God knows!, a murderous schoolteacher, Revenge by Guy de Maupassant, a higher power that deletes, the short story is the only form that can be perfect, there’s something perfect, any lacuna, “a missing section of text”, the oxymoron, rude gentleness, an unbalanced situation, the insane sanity or the sane insanity, the widow Bidoin,
“He ordinarily passes his evenings at the house of a female neighbor, who is also a furniture broker, a queer sort of sorceress, the widow Bidoin”
is she married to the bald man, that Disney movie, maybe it isn’t a perfect short story, etymological searches, the tour of Africa, Sicily, Normandy, “where there hover no vague hauntings”, the missing night, a different sort of desert, Fear by Guy de Maupassant, “I had a presentiment in Africa”, “the sun dissipates it like a fog”, fear vs. panic, the spiritual gnawing of northern cultures, The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, H.P. Lovecraft, “God is dead but he never really was alive. The universe is real but we’re alone in it. Looking up at the starry night we are pointless, alone, with nothingness behind us, nothingness ahead of us, and its horrible.” he goes crazy because he’s alone, in the tumult of the crowd (with it’s light pollution), “there’s a shop for that down the street”, very very very small and unimportant, Lovecraft made it a monster, Eric S. Rabkin, light as the symbol for knowledge, inside the interesting chest cavity, a cosmic vastness and emptiness in which we are lost, solitude, Rouen, Rotomagus (round market or round plain) – but the word magus, J.R.R. Tolkien’s dwarves, great craftsmen, is the man from Roen really God?, yesterday I was in a private asylum, three months, a descent into madness, is there no lacuna in the inflexible sequence of his observations, a lacuna in which the end took place.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #201 – The Inn by Guy de Maupassant, read by Mirko Stauch. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mirko.
Talked about on today’s show:
Where and why, more and more Maupassant, is there a definitive list of Guy de Maupassant SFF stories?, German translations, the BBC audio drama adaptation of The Inn, RadioArchive.cc, a ghost story, the twist in the end or the twist middle, great writing, an ambiguous ghost story, a psychological happening, the dog’s reaction, revenant, “it becomes the monster”, Louise Hauser, is Ulrich dead?, Gaspard, The Others, Maupassant tricks us, “they bury themselves”, Ulrich is punished for no reason, the voice, white noise, Ulrich’s religious beliefs, Cologne on a cold night, the ravens!, the audio drama improves on the short story!, a filling metaphor, “the immense ocean of pale mountain summits”, mainstream, the vertical issue, Wolfgang von Goethe, “only a very stable character”, a proto-cosmic horror, The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft, a Christmas story, describing nature, the second meaning, “arose from the snow itself”, “he’s alone on the Moon”, being alone, cabin fever, we are alone in the cosmos, community allows us to hide from the harsh truth, gambling, “I would have brought a bunch of books”, “illiterate mountain peasants”, a lonely island, did Gaspard fall into a crevasse?, nature is the monster, the unknown is more terrifying, the terror of the soul, undeserved guilt, “eighteen degrees of frost”, “he was of a sleepy nature”, 1886, Guy de Maupassant visited the Alps, riddled with disease, the Inn at Schwarenbach, The Shining by Stephen King, an internal flaw, “he could speak no human words”, Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, Perry Rhodan, Silent Running, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the dog as a symbol, the dog as a companion, the importance of routine for the lonely, the demon of loneliness, “all is busy work before the grave”, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Castaway, The Piece Of String (aka The Piece Of Yarn), “eating a sandwich that you find on the sidewalk”, he dies alone and unloved, “two feets”, every Norman is trapped in disbelief, it could have happened to us!, his hair turned white, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the unseen”, “the outer blackness”, able to appreciate the immensity of reality, Honey Boo Boo, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Call Of Cthulhu, “when I think of H.P. Lovecraft I don’t think of immense tentacles.”
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #191 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about the Brilliance Audio audiobook, The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick.
Talked about on today’s podcast:
Racy?, 1950s, hermaphrodites, relativism is mandated by the government, reverse Nazism, the Wikipedia entry for relativism, relativism as a tool against disbelief, L. Ron Hubbard, The Way To Happiness, communism, “good explorations”, Doug Cussick, political correctness, the opposite of communism?, China, Chinese communism, WWII, “Hitler was a precog”, escape your fate by embracing your fate, seeing into the future after your death, the devolution of a mind in a dead brain, a molluscular and mineral afterlife, grab bag of ideas, giant alien jellyfish, Brilliance Audio, pollen?, spores?, polyps?, planula!, Floyd Jones (is he the hero?), the Venus babies, the people in the Womb, seven mutants in a warehouse in San Fransisco, artificial animals, Venusian wallpaper?, hot and moist, The Truman Show, people have to get off of Earth, the Moon as the 51st state, King Newt running the Moon, pantropy, tropism, genetic modification, Nexus by Ramez Naam, More Than Human by Ramez Naam, Kim Stanley Robinson, More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon, the ending, Jones as the new Jesus, contempt for the audience, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, kids getting off on power, suicide, Hitler’s death, “how could a precog be wrong?”, future knowledge of your own knowledge, its very confusing, is Cussick the main character?, rebellion by shoplifting, sexism, WWIII, “asparagus sucks!”, women as litmus paper, she always held the majority opinion, visiting a racist elderly relative, “No grandma! That’s wrong!”, irony, the nameless character has a fascinating story, why don’t we get a sense of the masses, paralleling the rise of Hitler, lebensraum, interesting scenes interspersed with less interesting scenes, domestic scenes vs. organizational scenes, Tyler’s story, the Venus children, paranoia, Shell Game by Philip K. Dick, redundant exists, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, Counter Clock World, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, The Zap Gun, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner, Robert Downey Jr., A Scanner Darkly, The Man In The High Castle, alternate history, most people who live in SF universes don’t read SF, a BBC adaptation of The Man In The High Castle, an epic story about a guy who makes jewelry, Terry Gilliam, Anthony Boucher, “a hasty and disappointing effort”, perk up vs. zone out, civil war or aliens?, a golden land of opportunity and adventure (and slime).
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Sky At Night is a monthly documentary television programme on astronomy produced by the BBC. The show has had the same presenter, Sir Patrick Moore, from its first airing on 24 April 1957. This is the longest-running programme, with the same host, in television history. I discovered it only recently, via torrent, and have become utterly smitten with its sciencey goodness. Here’s the latest broadcast, actually a repeat from 1963 with Arthur C. Clarke!
Here’s the official description:
Many of the early Sky at Night programmes were destroyed or lost from the BBC library. Recently this early and very rare programme from 1963 with Arthur C Clarke, was discovered in an African TV station. Patrick and Arthur were both members of the British Interplanetary Society and here they discuss bases on the Moon and Mars. Arthur C Clarke made very few interviews, so this really is a broadcasting gem- once lost, but now found.
The programme is also available via |TORRENT|.
[Thanks African TV station!]
Posted by Jesse Willis
Every once in a while I have an surreal conversation. The conversation usually begins when a person says something I misunderstand. They claim something and then proceed to tell me about it. I assume that the person in question’s claim is a claim about the universe (I assume that because that’s the place I’m trying to understand). When the surreality begins is when it turns out that they are actually talking about is a part of the world – I guess that’s their perception of it.
The other day I had one when a friend of mine suggested I read a book called Fringe-ology. He described it as “a good book.”
Was he right? Is Fringe-ology a good book? The title sounded frighteningly unfruitful to me.
The question I then asked myself was: “Must I read it to form my own judgement?”
It was highly rated on Amazon.com (five stars and twenty five reviews). Did that fact make it “a good book?”
The book’s subtitle, How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn’t, didn’t make me want to read it either. Science, as I understand it, isn’t about “explaining away” anything (unless you are speaking metaphorically, which the practice of science certainly doesn’t embrace). And the “unexplainable” is a term that shows some seriously misguided thinking about reality (based on my reading of science history). Perhaps that was just marketing though.
Upon closer examination there is something else that makes me question Fringe-ology being a “good book” – there is a bent spoon on the book’s cover.
That is not a good sign.
To try to convince me to read Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn’t my friend said this:
“[the author Steven Volk is a] Hard-nosed news reporter who looks honestly at this stuff. And find he can’t disprove much of it.”
I suggested that no matter how hard one’s proboscis, the act of setting out to disprove something wasn’t science.
My friend then went on to talk about the reams of sworn eyewitness testimony to the existence of UFOs. And that they would be admissible as evidence in a court of law.
I then suggested that “reality is not determined by a judicial process.”
It was at about this point that I twigged to some sort of incommensurability in our communications. I was talking about the world, as discovered by the practice of science, and my friend was talking about some other way of seeing the world (that I think is demonstrably false – but perhaps enjoyable or something).
In the end I may have to accept my friend’s judgement about my character. He said I was a “closed” person. He may be right. I will not read horoscopes, I will not accept sworn eyewitness testimony for paranormal claims, and I don’t expect to be reading Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable-And Couldn’t any time soon – at least not without some more compelling reasons than I’ve been given.
There’s another way to put all of the above.
My friend was talking about institutional facts and I was talking about brute facts. He thinks the inexplicable exists, whereas I suggest that a book about the inexplicable is going to be zero pages long.
Which brings me to this extraordinarily boring (but presumably useful to my friend) story from Scientific American’s 60-Second Science podcast: “Moon Not Made of Cheese” – which takes a very pragmatic approach to debunking shitty ideas.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Hey! Got a couple a weeks to kill this Summer? Narrator Roy Dotrice returns to the series that nobody can stop waiting for…
A Dance With Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five)
By George R.R. Martin; Read by Roy Dotrice
38 CDs – Approx. 49 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: July 12, 2011
In the aftermath of a colossal battle, the future of the Seven Kingdoms hangs in the balance—beset by newly emerging threats from every direction. In the east, Daenerys Targaryen, the last scion of House Targaryen, rules with her three dragons as queen of a city built on dust and death. But Daenerys has thousands of enemies, and many have set out to find her. As they gather, one young man embarks upon his own quest for the queen, with an entirely different goal in mind. Fleeing from Westeros with a price on his head, Tyrion Lannister, too, is making his way to Daenerys. But his newest allies in this quest are not the rag-tag band they seem, and at their heart lies one who could undo Daenerys’s claim to Westeros forever. Meanwhile, to the north lies the mammoth Wall of ice and stone—a structure only as strong as those guarding it. There, Jon Snow, 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, will face his greatest challenge. For he has powerful foes not only within the Watch but also beyond, in the land of the creatures of ice. From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all.
And in the new releases in non-fiction department comes a story that that sounds like fiction…
Sex On The Moon
By Ben Mezrich; Read by Casey Affleck
7 CDs – Approx. 8 Hours 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: July 2011
Thad Roberts, a fellow in NASA’s prestigious Neutral Bouyancy Laboratory, had an idea. A romantic, albeit crazy, idea. He wanted to give his girlfriend the moon. Literally. Somehow he convinced his girlfriend, also a NASA fellow, and another female accomplice, to break into an impregnable laboratory at NASA’s headquarters and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks. To get to the lunar vault, Thad and his accomplices would have to go through the high-security entrance of Building 31, the most protected structure at the Johnson Space Center, wind their way past a half dozen additional checkpoints until they came to an electronically-locked steel door with cipher security codes, monitored by a camera-lined hallway. And then there was the safe where the moon rocks were stored. Labeled “Trash,” this vault was something out of a Swiss Bank, three-feet-thick, made out of steel, and with an enormous combination wheel that took at least two people to turn. Against all odds, the team made a clean get-away (at 5 mph no less, the compound’s inflexible speed limit). But what does one do with an item so valuable that it’s illegal even to own. And was Thad Roberts — undeniably gifted, picked for one of the most competitive scientific posts imaginable, a potential astronaut — really what he seemed. From the author of the New York Times bestselling Accidental Billionaires comes this strange but true story of genius, love, and duplicity, centered around an Ocean’s Eleven style heist that reads like a Hollywood thrill-ride.
Never before available as an audiobook? How, exactly, did we miss this?
Radio Free Albemuth
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Tom Weiner
6 CDs – Approx. 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: November 2009
Philip K. Dick’s impassioned final novel is a wild and visionary alternate history of the United States. It is 1969, and a paranoid president has convulsed America in a vicious war against imaginary internal enemies. As the country slides into fascism, a struggling science fiction writer named Philip K. Dick is trying to keep from becoming one of that war’s casualties. Meanwhile, Dick’s best friend, a record executive named Nicholas Brady, is receiving transmissions from a God-like extraterrestrial intelligence, which he dubs Valis, who apparently wants him to overthrow the president. Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, Radio Free Albemuth is proof of Dick’s stature as our century’s greatest science-fiction writer.
Cory Doctorow had good things to say about this new collection of Edgar Allan Poe tales.
Poe’s Detective: The Dupin Stories
By Edgar Allan Poe; Read by Bronson Pinchot
4 CDs – Approx. [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Go / BBC Audiobooks America
Published: March 15, 2011
Edgar Allan Poe is the undisputed originator of the Detective story. His brilliant, imaginative sleuth C. Auguste Dupin set the stage for eccentric, logic wielding investigators like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. This audio collection of Poe’s three Dupin stories also includes one non-Dupin detective tale, Thou Art the Man. It features celebrity narrator Bronson Pinchot. The story titles are: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue“; “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt“; “The Purloined Letter“; and “Thou Art the Man.”
The first of a batch of new Richard Stark audiobook releases…
The Hunter (Book 1 in the Parker series)
By Richard Stark; Read by John Chancer
5 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours 1 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Go / BBC Audiobooks America
Published: January 18, 2011
You probably haven’t noticed them. But they’ve noticed you. They notice everything. That’s their job. Sitting quietly in a nondescript car outside a bank making note of the tellers’ work habits. Lagging a few car lengths behind the Brinks truck on its daily rounds. Surreptitiously jiggling the handle of an unmarked service door at the racetrack. They’re heisters. They’re pros, and Parker is far and away the best of them. In The Hunter, the first volume in the series, Parker roars into New York City, seeking revenge on the woman who betrayed him and on the man who took his money, stealing and scamming his way to redemption.
Long out of print in audio, back in print in time for the latest novel, and totally missing from the publisher’s website…
The Sins Of The Fathers (Book 1 in the Matthew Scudder series)
By Lawrence Block; Read by Alan Sklar
4 CDs – Approx. 5 Hours 2 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Go
Published: March 8, 2011
The pretty young prostitute is dead. Her alleged murderer–a minister’s son–hanged himself in his jail cell. The case is closed. But the dead girl’s father has come to Matthew Scudder for answers, sending the unlicensed private investigator in search of terrible truths about a life that was lived and lost in a sordid world of perversion and pleasures.The hooker was young, pretty…and dead, butchered in a Greenwich Village apartment. The prime suspect, a minister’s son, was also dead, the victim of a jailhouse suicide. The case is closed, as far as the NYPD is concerned. Now the murdered prostitute’s father wants it opened again–that’s where Matthew Scudder comes in. But this assignment carries the unmistakable stench of sleaze and perversion, luring Scudder into a sordid world of phony religion and murderous lust where children must die for their parents’ most unspeakable sins.
And finally, Ben Aaronovitch has noted that audiobook version of Moon Over London, the follow up to Rivers Of London, “will be available for download from the 21st of July.” It’ll be up on Audible with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith reprising the narrating duties. Though I should note that the first book is not available, bizarrely, in all regions.
Posted by Jesse Willis