The SFFaudio Podcast #228 – READALONG: Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon

September 2, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon

Olaf Stapledon illustration by Neil Austin

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #191 – READALONG: The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

December 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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).

ACE - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Damon Knight on The World Jones Made

ACE Double - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Sphere - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

PBS: WonderWorks: Ray Bradbury’s All Summer In A Day (1982)

June 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

All Summer In A Day by Ray Bradbury

From the PBS series WonderWorksAll Summer In A Day was first broadcast in 1982 – the uploader of the torrent version (available HERE) says: “I don’t think it’s ever been released on DVD.” I think he or she is right. This is a low budget adaptation and it’s pretty terrific.

On the planet Venus, it rains almost constantly. A classroom full of young children are excited to hear that the rain will stop today, for just one hour. But they are also resentful of a new classmate from Earth, who remembers what it’s like to see the sun.

[Thanks to Mike Konczewski for the summary]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #149 – TOPIC: METAPHOR in Science Fiction and Fantasy

February 27, 2012 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #149 – Jesse, Luke Burrage, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about METAPHOR in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Talked about on today’s show:
Science Fiction and Fantasy sort of undercut the scholastic meaning of metaphor, my friend Bill, metaphors come in two parts – the vehicle and the tenor, giants vs. ogres, denuding the metaphor, Aldebaran 6 has astonishingly beautiful humanoids, unknown vehicles deliver us, The Monsters by Robert Sheckley, The War Of The Worlds, a Tolkienesque task, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, Dark Universe by Ron Goulart, Plato’s cave, blindness, dead metaphors, the Burning Bush, Saul vs. Paul, a sound idea, Germanic grounds for divorce, Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein, 1984 by George Orwell, “the clock stuck thirteen”, constructing meaning, William Shakespeare, awful as in creating awe, Moses and Mount Sinai, “shining like the sun”, a sun god, Sampson, hairy like the sun, bald like the moon, Genesis, “you may look upon my hindparts”, Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, unconscious metaphors, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, wretch, catwomen from Venus, voluptuous sex objects, building up the vocabulary, Halting State by Charles Stross, Neuromancer‘s opening line, text adventure, Enoch lived 365 years (the sun god), The Tower Of Babel by Ted Chiang, comparing the constructed worlds of video games with the constructed worlds of Science Fiction, Battlefield 2, a meta-metaphor for understanding what Science Fiction does for understanding our world, hamartia needs range finding, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, “any fool can see”, a system of metaphors for the characters and the reader provides meta-uses, metaphor means “carry across”, Greek moving vans are called metaphore, the Morlocks are the workers, the Eloi are the owners, the Time Traveler is the manager, Get That Rat Off My Face by Luke Burrage, Science Fiction as thought experiment, Michael Crichton, deus ex machina, The War With The Newts by Karel Čapek, Finnegan’s Wake, experimental novels, Germinal by Émile Zola, Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, allusion vs. metaphor, Sampson vs. Goliath, Luke and Eric prime each other, is Science Fiction useful?, should SF be useful?, Science Fiction and Personal Philosophy (SFBRP #100), reading only the Bible, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, the hard lesson namely: “sometimes you’re just fucked”, Star Trek II, cannibalism, Eric objects, the physical world vs. unconditional love, NASA staff need to read The Cold Equations, Steve Jobs (and his reality distortion field), a world full of things other than minds, smart by accident, Apollo 13, give the astronauts poetry, the title itself crystallizes the meaning, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a parametric center, how do we maintain individuality in the face of fascism?, the vehicle/tenor heuristic, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Nick Carraway, the car is the parametric central of The Great Gatsby, martian vampires, Apollo 1 disaster, Velcro and oxygen, “a failure of imagination”, learning from the past, the metaphor falls and leaves behind a lesson about reality.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #112 – AUDIOBOOK: The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth

June 13, 2011 by · 4 Comments
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #112 – a complete and unabridged reading of The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth. It is wonderfully narrated for us by William Coon of Eloquent Voice.

The Marching Morons is a Science Fiction novella written by Cyril M. Kornbluth, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction’s April 1951 issue. It has been famously anthologized in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two (B).

The story is set hundreds of years in the future: the date is 7-B-936. Its protagonist is John Barlow, a man from the past put into suspended animation by a freak accident involving a dental drill and anesthesia. He is revived in a dystopic future where the dysgenic breeding of humans has, in combination with intelligent people not having many children, overwhelmingly populated the world with morons. An elite few non-idiots must work slavishly to keep the world productive. Barlow, who was a shrewd con man in his day, has a solution to sell to the elite.

In his introduction to The Best Of C.M. Kornbluth Frederik Pohl explains some of the inspiration to The Marching Morons. Apparently the work was written after Pohl suggested that Kornbluth write a follow-up story to The Little Black Bag (a classic Kornbluth short story). In contrast to the “little black bag” arriving in the past from the future, Kornbluth wanted to write about a man arriving in the future from the past. To explain sending a man to the future, Kornbluth borrowed from David Butler’s Just Imagine (1930) science fiction film in which a man is struck by lightning, trapped in suspended animation, and reanimated in the future.”

The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth - illustrated by Don Sibley

The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth - illustrated by Don Sibley

Posted by Jesse Willis

A conversation between Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley

November 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Archive.org has a wonderful 90 minute English language conversation between two famous German rocket scientists!

Check it out |MP3|

A historic conversation between German rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. Highlights include the development of the German rocket programs during WWII, and the space program in the 1950′s. Recorded June 9th and 23rd, 1959, in New York City and Redstone Arsenal, Huntstville, Alabama.

Indeed hearing Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley talk is very cool.

Ley and von Braun talk about:
old school days in Germany, Hermann Oberth‘s influential book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (“By Rocket Into Interplanetary Space“), Fritz Lang movie Woman In The Moon, rocketry and rockets from the V-2 to the Saturn rocket family, geosynchronous satellites, the Mercury project, space stations, weather satellites, the Van Allen radiation belt, the role of humans in space, sending men around the Moon, the logistics of photographing and visiting Venus and Mars, space probes, a “semi-philosophical question about Man’s rights in space”, theological objections (and blessings), the compatibility between religion and science, Blaise Pascal, extraterrestrial life, vegetation on Mars, smart aliens, Arthur C. Clarke’s first law.

As you can see it is very historic!

Wernher von Braun (left) and Willy Ley (right)

I won’t say much more about the fascinating Wernher von Braun as I recently posted a biographical radio dramatization about him. But I will point out that Willy Ley is pretty damn amazing. Ley was an avid reader of Science Fiction, contributed science articles to Astounding Stories and Galaxy Magazine and was a member of the Trap Door Spiders – there is a wonderful Wikipedia entry about him to explore HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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