SFFaudio Review

The Year's Top Short SF Novels 6The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6
Edited by Allan Kaster; Narrated by Tom Dheere and Nancy Linari
16 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Infinivox
Publication Date: December 2016
Themes: / Science Fiction / Novellas / The Moon / Time / Clones / Starships /

The Year’s Top Short SF Novels 6, edited by Allan Kaster, is an audio anthology containing five science fiction novellas from 2015. It’s a diverse, entertaining, and thought-provoking collection, and very well narrated!

Inhuman Garbage by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve enjoyed Rusch’s Disappeared series since the first novella was published (The Retrieval Artist, 2000). I haven’t the time to keep up with all the novels Rusch has written in the series since but every one I have read has been excellent, including this short one. In a warehouse in a city on the Moon in Rusch’s robust future world, a body has been discovered in a recycling crate. Detective Noelle DeRicci is called in on the case. The story is a perfect blend of SF and mystery fiction.

What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear by Bao Shu (translated by Ken Liu)
This was an interesting thought experiment. We humans live our lives in a linear fashion, cause preceding effect after effect after effect. The story attempts to portray people living linearly, but in reverse. We see history passing backwards as characters live their lives. Interesting.

The New Mother by Eugene Fischer
Imagine a disease with an effect that allows women to reproduce without men. Offspring are clones, since the genetic material has only one source. Men are no longer part of the process. The idea of men becoming extinct brings past stories to mind, like James Tiptree Jr’s “The Screwfly Solution”. The New Mother is a story that leaves the listener with a lot to think about.

Gypsy by Carter Scholz
I was fascinated by this story about a group of people that decide to take it upon themselves to build a ship, get aboard, and launch to Alpha Centauri. The story is told by various characters who wake up from their long sleeps to do various tasks. How did such a group pull this off? And how far can the group get? Well-written, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard
There is a lot going on in this novella, the longest in the collection. A rich and interesting culture. Mindships, where minds are installed in and control ships. Uploaded minds of previous emperors that serve as advisors to the current emperor. Terrific. Just a beautiful story.

This anthology is also available as an ebook.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #047

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss But Who Can Replace A Man by Brian Aldiss

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

But Who Can Replace A Man was first published in Infinity Science Fiction, June 1958.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #401 – Celephaïs by H.P. Lovecraft, read by Gordon Gould. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June.)

Talked about on today’s show:
The Rainbow, May 1922, Marvel Tales, 1934, Weird Tales, Jun-July 1939, “A Posthumous Weird Fantasy”, a story about H.P. Lovecraft’s life,

Kuranes was not modern, and did not think like others who wrote. Whilst they strove to strip from life its embroidered robes of myth and to show in naked ugliness the foul thing that is reality, Kuranes sought for beauty alone. When truth and experience failed to reveal it, he sought it in fancy and illusion, and found it on his very doorstep, amid the nebulous memories of childhood tales and dreams.

so Lovecraft, reality ain’t pretty, always in fantasy, consciousness and objective reality, Jason Thompson comic book adaption, detail and attention, London, Yeasto and Beefo, Thomas Shap, gleefuly smashing a cat, opiates, a hashish man, the anonymity of Kuranes’ dream visage (in Jason Thompson’s rendering), Understanding Comics, wearied and wizened, a board game, an amazing adaptation, the page 8 sequence, the valley of Ooth Nargai, where form does not exist, a violet coloured gas, compass and protractor, manga style, hot air balloons, toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky, the domes are the same shape as the balloons, The Thing On The Doorstep, a script of imagery, going deep into the story, spending weeks in just 19 minutes, Fungi From Yuggoth, Dreamland-like,

XVII. A Memory

There were great steppes, and rocky table-lands
Stretching half-limitless in starlit night,
With alien campfires shedding feeble light
On beasts with tinkling bells, in shaggy bands.
Far to the south the plain sloped low and wide
To a dark zigzag line of wall that lay
Like a huge python of some primal day
Which endless time had chilled and petrified.

I shivered oddly in the cold, thin air,
And wondered where I was and how I came,
When a cloaked form against a campfire’s glare
Rose and approached, and called me by my name.
Staring at that dead face beneath the hood,
I ceased to hope—because I understood.

The Gardens of Yinand from Celephais:

One night he went flying over dark mountains where there were faint, lone campfires at great distances apart, and strange, shaggy herds with tinkling bells on the leaders; and in the wildest part of this hilly country, so remote that few men could ever have seen it, he found a hideously ancient wall or causeway of stone zigzagging along the ridges and valleys; too gigantic ever to have risen by human hands, and of such a length that neither end of it could be seen. Beyond that wall…

it’s a dream but it is also real, Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a teetotaler, far more fascinating is the man himself, at points in his life, his dreams live on, eighty years later, immortality, he’s alive for a lot more people than he was when he was alive, horrifying vs. a slow sad tragedy, reflecting H.P. Lovecraft’s life, uncompromising, attitudes towards money, lies and untruths, up-selling, The Diary Of Alonzo Typer, William Lumley, a Thomas Shap character himself, the pathetic people who tell lies about their own life experience in order to make life more tolerable, the last paragraph, played mockingly, Trevor Towers, the purchased atmosphere of extinct nobility, offensive brewers, The Great Gatsby, that resentment, so tragic, so awesome, the two images of Trevor Towers, thinness of reality, and the neighbouring regions of dream, his eye, the naked ugly reality, he’s killed himself, you’re out king!, The Coronation Of Mr. Thomas Shap by Lord Dunsany, tongue in cheek, ironic, to persuade customers, a more compromised Lovecraft, a dignity of nobility, your everyday fella, particularity imaginative, a fable, don’t let it effect your work, living on the skeleton of his ancestry (or he’s a writer), tweeting dreams, the writer’s life,

XXVIII. Expectancy

I cannot tell why some things hold for me
A sense of unplumbed marvels to befall,
Or of a rift in the horizon’s wall
Opening to worlds where only gods can be.
There is a breathless, vague expectancy,
As of vast ancient pomps I half recall,
Or wild adventures, uncorporeal,
Ecstasy-fraught, and as a day-dream free.

It is in sunsets and strange city spires,
Old villages and woods and misty downs,
South winds, the sea, low hills, and lighted towns,
Old gardens, half-heard songs, and the moon’s fires.
But though its lure alone makes life worth living,
None gains or guesses what it hints at giving.

there’s that wall again, the wall as representative of the line between life and death, Ex Oblivione, they’re all dream-quests, “rift”, how the words associate with one another, all the abysses that Lovecraft talks about, The Strange High House In The Mist, a god having lunch, being thrown off the Earth, and yet…, a gate, a void, astral projection, the only way to the dream world (and space), super resonant, that’s great!, the wall over which the imagining and expectancy of what could be, that alone makes life worth living, embracing the fact you’re going to be extinct, that depth is unplumbed, a “problematic depth”, A Voyage To Arcturus by David Lindsay, wanting to be an astronomer, going on night walks, it’s isolating, he’s walking alone here, the “rift”,

Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down; past dark, shapeless, undreamed dreams, faintly glowing spheres that may have been partly dreamed dreams, and laughing winged things that seemed to mock the dreamers of all the worlds. Then a rift seemed to open in the darkness before him, and he saw the city of the valley, glistening radiantly far, far below, with a background of sea and sky, and a snow-capped mountain near the shore.

skip down

But three nights afterward Kuranes came again to Celephaïs. As before, he dreamed first of the village that was asleep or dead, and of the abyss down which one must float silently; then the rift appeared again, and he beheld the glittering minarets of the city, and saw the graceful galleys riding at anchor in the blue harbour, and watched the gingko trees of Mount Aran swaying in the sea-breeze.

and

XXIX. Nostalgia

Once every year, in autumn’s wistful glow,
The birds fly out over an ocean waste,
Calling and chattering in a joyous haste
To reach some land their inner memories know.
Great terraced gardens where bright blossoms blow,
And lines of mangoes luscious to the taste,
And temple-groves with branches interlaced
Over cool paths—all these their vague dreams shew.

They search the sea for marks of their old shore—
For the tall city, white and turreted—
But only empty waters stretch ahead,
So that at last they turn away once more.
Yet sunken deep where alien polyps throng,
The old towers miss their lost, remembered song.

a sunken city, the city waits for them too, I don’t like it when people give me presents, faking it, for a minute or two, in that moment, Wayne always appreciates more cash, The City In The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe, Lo! Death has reared himself a throne, J.R.R. Tolkien, no Usher-ness, Little Princess Mee, Shap = Shaper (dream) or shop, profound, where the sea meets the sky, “Faith had urged him on, over the precipice and into the gulf, where he had floated down, down, down”, and “Endlessly down the horsemen floated, their chargers pawing the aether as if galloping over golden sands; and then the luminous vapours spread apart to reveal a greater brightness, the brightness of the city Celephaïs, and the sea-coast beyond, and the snowy peak overlooking the sea, and the gaily painted galleys that sail out of the harbour toward distant regions where the sea meets the sky.”, a dream written down, keep reading the same story over and over again, Paul’s map (or depiction) of Celephais, Campaign Cartographer, inspired to art, the abandoned village is Innsmouth, a river running through it, a completely inverted vision, ancient atavism vs. beauty and a new golden age, steering into The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Carter once knew Kuranes in waking life, Carter knows me, the more muscular adventurer, all around the Dreamlands, the infection of dream travel, Kuranes’ last name is Trevor, a hit of this hookah, back to reality, back to childhood, The Dream-Quest Of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, exiled to reality, better off in the real world, the reverse, Wayne June’s audiobooks for Thomas Shap and Celephaïs, a dream fiction collection, have them all together, at your terrible job, retire to the sea-coast and go for a sleep walk, read it on your own.

Celephais - illustration from Marvel Tales, May 1934

Celephais illustrated by Alva Rogers from The Acolyte, Issue 10, Spring 1945

Celephais adapted by Jason Thompson

Celephais by H.P. Lovecraft - illustration by Jesse

Celephais map by Paul Weimer

Celephais by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFFaudio News

Here is Jonathan Lethem and Kim Stanley Robinson in a brief conversation about Philip K. Dick.

In the all to short video they both recommend Now Wait For Last Year – Lethem points to eXistenZ as the great Philip K. Dick film that isn’t based on a Philip K. Dick story.

Also mentioned: The Divine Invasion and Galactic Pot-Healer.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #046

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Voices by Edward Wellen

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Voices was first published Universe Science Fiction, March 1954

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #400 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Wayne June talk about The Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison, early crystallized, fantasy, science fiction, a great story, which perspective, Roll Them Bones by Fritz Leiber, a weird gnostic sort of thing, religious and gnostic themes, a scary herald, comforting, the one last comfort, first impressions, kind of amazing, so Philip K. Dick, almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror, politics, some of the best parts of his novels, Mr Lovecraft himself, amazing things to say, 1968, under LSD, written on LSD?, the Philip K. Dick fans website, Latin and Aramaic, a grain of salt and a tab of acid, what a good writer PKD is, the cigar keeps going out, how shocking, this is a retelling of 1984, 1984 meets the Doors Of Perception, Big Brother is God, the dystopia he’s living in, watching TV as a part of the job, reverse cultural imperialism, the ancient art of American steer roping, Julia (from 1984), Tanya, secret societies, being roped into a conspiracy against the part, agitprop, a great cynicism, astoundingly interesting, LSD in the water, anti-psychotic snuff, seeing behind the illusion, one of twelve possible realities, 1984 is not our world, modern politics, customized ads and emails, propaganda, you don’t taste it anymore, the desert of the real, stolen from The Matrix, a terrifying reality, have sex and drugs until you die (the moral of the story), there are things worse than I, what could be worse, very Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, topless and bottomless, glowing boobs, a mutant, low on affect, as horrific as anything in H.P. Lovecraft, powerful imagery, a genius all over the map, neo-Platonism, I am everything, I created the party, I created the anti-party, relativism, no objective reality,

It was terrible; it blasted him with its awareness. As it moved it drained the life from each person in turn; it ate the people who had assembled, passed on, ate again, ate more with an endless appetite. It hated; he felt its hate. It loathed; he felt its loathing for everyone present — in fact he shared its loathing. All at once he and everyone else in the big villa were each a twisted slug, and over the fallen slug carcasses the creature savored, lingered, but all the time coming directly toward him — or was that an illusion? If this is a hallucination, Chien thought, it is the worst I have ever had; if it is not, then it is evil reality; it’s an evil thing that kills and injures. He saw the trail of stepped-on, mashed men and women remnants behind it; he saw them trying to reassemble, to operate their crippled bodies; he heard them attempting speech.

what would be seeing?, it’s metaphor, a return to chaos, like meeting a celebrity and falling under their sway, interesting political, reading Hillary [Clinton] emails, seeing behind the curtain, plans and strategies, when on the drug of reality (instead of the public face of it), seeing everything for what it is, Netflix, London Has Fallen, Channel Zero, ruined for generic Hollywood movies, giving speeches while smashing an enemy in the face, since Independence Day, people watching the movie with us, the proxy for the audience, “we authorized it through the G8”, writing is solving problems, the whole of the movie depends on a tiny little linchpin, it’s all about economics, cartoonish, ISIS and the Saudis and the Clintons, destabilize your enemies and reinforce your allies, some people think that Hillary is the more sane response, behind closed doors speech, a public face and a private face, very pragmatic, she dissembles, since the days of the Roman senate, the veils are lifted, fear has infected them, he has revealed the fakeness all around them, he’s so fake he’s genuine, the clanker, the gulper, the climbing tube, the bird, politics and truth-telling, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, diving into the greatest depression of your existence, consciousness is an accident of evolution, the atheist existential point, in order to survive emotionally, I want to it to go back the way it was, a gelatinous thing with a million eyes,

And then it ceased talking to him; it disjoined itself. But he still saw it; he felt its manifold presence. It was a globe which hung in the room, with fifty thousand eyes, a million eyes — billions: an eye for each living thing as it waited for each thing to fall, and then stepped on the living thing as it lay in a broken state. Because of this it had created the things, and he knew; he understood. What had seemed in the Arabic poem to be death was not death but God; or rather God was death, it was one force, one hunter, one cannibal thing, and it missed again and again but, having all eternity, it could afford to miss. Both poems, he realized; the Dryden one too. The crumbling; that is our world and you are doing it. Warping it to come out that way; bending us.

the window!, THE WINDOW!, don’t fall on my account,

“Don’t fall on my account,” it said. He could not see it because it had moved behind him. But the piece of it on his shoulder — it had begun to look like a human hand. And then it laughed.

“What’s funny?” he demanded, as he teetered on the railing, held back by its pseudo-hand.

“You’re doing my task for me,” it said. “You aren’t waiting; don’t have time to wait? I’ll select you out from among the others; you don’t need to speed the process up.”

shaking hands with Hillary Clinton, politics can distract us from reality, politics as a filter, seeing the world through a different filter, relativism, that’s why Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary tried to redefine what the drug was doing to you, psychedelic, philosophy, natural experiments, giving a blind person sight and having them recognize what they’d previously recognized with their hands, our minds don’t just take in and process information, drugs break the filters of projection, when you see someone smiling and giving you a message on TV, Barack Obama is a master of this, the TPP, the Dakota Access Pipeline, Bill Maher, The Jimmy Dore Show, The Young Turks, RomneyCare is ObamaCare, the Democrats stole the money and positions from the Republicans, Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, Hillary workers on TV, exploitation plan, George Carlin and the big club, he’s a socialist of course he’s naive, he met a wood-chipper, who will be to blame?, who will be responsible?, arguing about nothing related to any of the issues that anyone cares about, the absolute benefactor, a Caucasian from New Zealand, it’s icky and you don’t want to deal with it,

“Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unselfconscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.”

the argument goes: lalalalalalal, block it out, we’re not just meat-sacks, Doctor Strange, the terror of the multiverse, atheist = asshole, shining a light on an uncomfortable truth, but we’re happy, I could have steak again, chemtrails are something to worry about, the Kardashians, reality and ignoring things, The Congress (2013), an animated reality, they want the delusion, there are multiple deserts, retreat to the Cambrian, getting mopped up with a towel,

That evening in his small but well-appointed condominium apartment he read over the other of the two examination papers, this one by a Marion Culper, and discovered that it, too, dealt with poetry. Obviously this was speciously a poetry class, and he felt ill. It had always run against his grain, the use of poetry — of any art — for social purposes. Anyhow, comfortable in his special spine-straightening, simulated-leather easy chair, he lit a Cuesta Rey Number One English Market immense corona cigar and began to read.

The writer of the paper, Miss Culper, had selected as her text a portion of a poem of John Dryden, the seventeenth-century English poet, final lines from the well-known “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day.”

. . . So when the last and dreadful hour
rumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.

Well, that’s a hell of a thing, Chien thought to himself bitingly. Dryden, we’re supposed to believe, anticipated the fall of capitalism? That’s what he meant by the “crumbling pageant”? Christ. He leaned over to take hold of his cigar and found that it had gone out. Groping in his pockets for his Japanese-made lighter, he half rose to his feet.

then a page break,

At a quarter to three in the morning, as he sat sleepless in the living room of his conapt, smoking one Cuesta Rey Astoria after another, a knock sounded at the door.

When he opened it he found himself facing Tanya Lee in her trenchcoat, her face pinched with cold. Her eyes blazed, questioningly.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said roughly. His cigar had gone out; he relit it. “I’ve been looked at enough,” he said.

“You saw it,” she said.

He nodded.

She seated herself on the arm of the couch and after a time she said, “Want to tell me about it?”

“Go as far from here as possible,” he said. “Go a long way.” And then he remembered: no way was long enough. He remembered reading that too.

the attempts at distraction failing, the title, the legless war veteran, a full novel’s worth of ideas bubbling,

“We can’t win,” he said. “You can’t win; I don’t mean me. I’m not in this; I just wanted to do my job at the Ministry and forget it. Forget the whole damned thing.”

“Is it non-terrestrial?”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“Is it hostile to us?”

“Yes,” he said. “No. Both. Mostly hostile.”

when he’s on the ledge, his shoulder has begun to bleed, a stigmata, the anti-god that rules the universe, Prince Of Darkness, the god of The Sims player, we’re evil, Ray Nelson’s Eight O’Clock In The Morning, Philip K. Dick gave the manuscript copy of this story to Ray Nelson, Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of the greatest movies ever filmed, They Live! now has added relevance, is it hostile to us?, it’s not one thing, Nietzsche: “God is dead”, Philip K. Dick: “no, They live.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

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