Reading, Short And Deep #011
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Roller Coaster by Alfred Bester.
The Roller Coaster was first published in Fantastic, May-June 1953.
Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
The SFFaudio Podcast #357 – READALONG: Captain James Hook And The Curse Of Peter Pan by Jeremiah Kleckner and Jeremy Marshall
The SFFaudio Podcast #357 – Jesse and David Stifel talk about Captain James Hook And The Curse Of Peter Pan by Jeremiah Kleckner and Jeremy Marshall.
Talked about on today’s show:
that Burroughs guy (or Captain Hook), Jeremy Marshall, Jeremiah Kleckner, a modern book?, a little under six hours, a take off on a well known property, not a kid’s book, the Peter Pan play, the starting point for this book, childish irresponsibility, a Twilight Zone episode, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, written for adults, vocabularies, they got a dog, in-jokes, Alice In Wonderland, he workshopped it, Hook wasn’t in the play originally, kids love pirates, this kid kidnaps other kids, a sequel, the timeline, Harry Potter of a hundred years ago, Hook, Pan, the Disney film, the black and white Broadway broadcast, kinescope, what a great role, the prototypical adult, the Etonian accent, Cyril Ritchard’s voice, The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, the writing is so good, subtly twisted scenes, why it is short, Jeremiah Kleckner is an English teacher, how to enjoy reading, pre-production, the competition, an ACX book, Jeremiah Kleckner’s blog, auditions, the new publishing model, the cover art, Jesse is very cynical, so is David, self-published, word-wooze, wound and wooze, guberreality?, Chinese food, David Baldacci, what writing is about, a lot of gushing, an alternate take, a prequel to Peter Pan, fairies, a crocodile, Neverland, the Lost Boys, a jigsaw puzzle, who is Captain Hook?, Hook is right, Peter Pan is a self-indulgent little brat, flying, too bad!, Peter Pan treats the Lost Boys like toys, set on a course for evil, with Billy Mumy, It’s a Good Life, “happy fun”, the alliterative punctuation, the god Pan, the god of lonely shepherd boys and the god of panic, panopticon, pan was able to multiply himself infinitely, not the horny goat god, the god of wildness, children and childhood became a thing, children’s literature, child focused culture, child labour, Barrie was the peak of child culture, anti-science, “who believes in fairies?”, why we need Mr Jim Moon, the push pull of science, science killing all the fantasy of being a child, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, he just wants to believe, The Best Of Sick Jokes,
Willie, with a thirst for gore,
Nailed his sister to the door.
Mother said, with humor quaint,
“Willie, dear, don’t scratch the paint.”
the symbol of how good the writing is, James Hoodkins, breaking the bottle, the night before his thirteenth birthday, “have fun forever”, a lucky escape, Michael Darling, the Darling family, a failed adult, a funding problem, Smee, Captain Hook’s boatswain (bo’sun), an interesting backstory for Smee, “it’s me”, Blackbeard, Long John Silver, Treasure Island, Black Sails mixes historical and fictional pirates, Robert Louis Stevenson, the second reality, Jesse Labette, Smee by A.M. Burrage, clean fun, hide-and-seek, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, sardine, a retelling, why does Hoodkins have a sidekick in William, responsibility, double-sided reality, watch out for William, a first step towards manhood, be his mommy, what if…, a stunning achievement, “I’m taking them to heaven.”, a child’s heaven, death, never land, just step out the window, jumping off the roof, almost a real place, The Etymologicon: A Circular Stroll Through The Hidden Connections Of The English Language by Mark Forsyth, the impact of Peter Pan, Wendy, Jonathan Swift, Vanessa, Hermione, a romp, a great performance in a meaty role, natives will tell, by today’s standards, losing regionalisms, mid-Atlantic accent, the Edgar Rice Burroughs audiobooks, a swashbuckling adventure, a completely flawless performance, a sleeper that deserves to be heard, a really fine audiobook that deserves more exposure, the Amazon.com reviews are excellent, “masterful narration”, little Billy at 5, an undersold masterpiece, with the marketing budget…, David’s tastes, science fiction as a modernization of fantasy, thinking critically about a classic, Hook was right!, Hook’s the hero!, it’s not just what you know about Peter Pan, a lot of pirate research, more real than The Pirates Of The Caribbean, not an arrrgh until the appearance of Long John Silver
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1952, 1953, 1951, the serialization, a futuristic old book, purple and green with the big eye, The Stars My Destination, weird corporations, quasi-computer intelligences, Marissa didn’t love it, dated elements, 1950s women, really funny, the deleted prologue (is very confusing), damn amazing, so much in so many pages, it doesn’t baby you, many ideas per page, keeping track, not great as an audiobook, page play that can’t be seen in the audiobook, the narration is great, playful with typography, SMS style talk, the Amazon reviews, @ symbols in the ebook, Jerry Chuch, he’s an Esper
2, a textual clue to his nature, (lap)², the audiobook store, an illiterate society, paperbooks are extinct, a post-literate society, when you start listening to audiobooks…, shame for not reading textual books, reading aloud as entertainment, future societies, better as a paperbook on your first read, font size changes, the reader does a lot of the work, an amazing narration, dissension has begun, image of a laughing horse, more than one text version, the original serialization in Galaxy, the finished draft is the paperbook, changes between the text, Monarch vs. Sacrament, “enhanced books”, the esper world, the best adaptation of of The Demolished Man is Babylon 5, terrible and yet essential, the Alfred Bester episodes of Babylon 5, The Lord Of The Rings in space, it’s Dune, the Psi-Corp, “demolition”, the character of Alfred Bester, a dark Powell, deliciously played by Walter Koenig, evil, powerful, charismatic, on Spaceland, The Hunger Games, an unreal world, Sinclair, rogue telepaths, what does it mean if psi-powers were real, the breeding program, marriage, mundanes and telepaths, the coming war, his girlfriend is in the freezer, D’Courtney was a latent telepath, Ben Reich’s half sister, throat cancer, a psychic-scream, Powell and Reich (also in The Stars My Destination), Ben Reich = good money, Powell = power, Dishonest Abe (Lincoln Powell), Jerry Church (corrupted by the money), when telepaths make love, soooo Freudian, New York, sooo dated, demolishing the daughter, a sexy-father figure (super creepy), room for progression, who is Ben Reich’s heir?, who is D’courtney’s heir?, Powell now has all the power and all the money, he’s the bad guy (if you squint), the reconstruction happens in Star Trek episode (to Uhura), Nomad, we misread the code too, an inverted detective story, how-done-it, how-to-catch-’em, a locked room mystery, adapting it to TV, a Philip K. Dick-style mindfuck, a hugh solipsist section, artificial personalities, false memories, no stars in the sky, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Remember Me, going back to the womb, back to the beginning, explosion, concussion, the man with no face, suddenly blood is on him, very Lady Macbeth, a premonition of his future, he’s afraid of himself, The Prisoner‘s final episode, panettone, just 175 pages, the Hugo award, creepy stuff, the gilded corpse, ReDemolished, an essay by Bester on how novels are written, the book is dedicated to H.L. Gold (editor of Galaxy magazine), Astounding, Amazing, John W. Campbell, Jr., Scientology, ESP stuff, DARPA, remote viewing, one of Jesse’s profs, premonitions, Slan by A.E. van Vogt, power fantasy, “fans are slans”, the Minority Report thingy, no sense of the poor, in the Babylon 5 universe…, resentment of PSI, super-powerful, Babylon 5 is pretty amazing, The Best Of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Julian May, tension, a caste system, psionic aliens, class struggles, Chooka Frood (the corrupt brothel-keeper), a role playing game character, ceramicly beautiful, a dream, a blind albino who plays gimpsters, “accident”, Duffy Wyg&,
Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tenser, said the Tensor.
And dissension have begun.
Doctor Who, The Master, Jo’s rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb…, jingles, Bester wrote radio dramas, strange observations, everybody is in the business, if you are at a psychic party…, a throwaway line about the old deaf mutes…, blackmail, no man is an island, “make your enemies on purpose”, he’s an awful man, William Edgars from Babylon 5, Donald Trump, how he earned his money, that embrace, their hugging, we are not ignorant but we aren’t fully party to Ben’s plans, eating candy, there was no bullet, an apache duster, the cover of Galaxy, “humans are weird”, compact death, if we are paying very close attention we should be noticing all the details that aren’t there, the missing bullet hole, the closer you read it the better it pays you, a million more themes, we go to Venus we go to Mars, written today it would be a 600 page doorstop that wouldn’t do half the stuff, “I liked dishonest Abe”, “absolutely scary”, “let’s foreground that”, “I might marry you I’m not really sure about that”, “punch me around”, Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber, a parody of Mickey Spillane, The Man Who Japed, “he shot her in the groin”, there whole world is completely strange, New York, the future computer, typewriter hands and punch cards, glimpses into…, rushing towards demolition, Old Man Mose, “kittenish”, they’ve turned over parts of their society to…, horrible but compelling, damaged or mean or weird, the game of Sardine, Smee by A.M. Burrage, party games, who ends up alone?, everyone is together and naked, a bunch of adults playing naked hide-and-seek, parallels to the fake solipsistic world, “here’s how I did it”, the delusionary world, he finally had to face the man with no face, I couldn’t tell him the truth…, we were buying it the whole time!, skepticism, admissible evidence and objective proof, Powell looking at Ben, the mysterious parcel, it’s a present for you Ben, clumsy hands, we’re all of just nursemaids in this crazy world, Powell friend, “listen normals”, we see the truth that you cannot see, mind to mind and heart to heart, Powell was the villain the whole time, William Edgars virus, “solve the telepath problem once and for all”, something that Reich never does, a moment of self-awareness, he’s a monster but at least he feels bad about it, Garibaldi’s manipulation, revealing all on the train, Harlan Ellison, Powell is secretly evil, we’re distracted by Reich, Inception (2010), the horror lies, tragic despair, D’Courtney’s secret wish (he wanted to die), his son gave him what he wanted, on some level Ben Reich is a telepath, everything Powell says is a lie, the more you read it the better it is going to get, you need to go into analysis, unspool it, re-reading, one of the best audiobooks, Joe Dunlop, Isis Audiobooks, from 1989, still for sale as tapes, it totally worked with the story, a good sign of a good narration.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #324 – This Crowded Earth by Robert Bloch; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the novel (3 hours 30 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and John Feaster.
Talked about on today’s show:
the only public domain novel by Robert Bloch, a member of the Lovecraft circle, fans of Lovecraft vs. the public at large, The Shambler From The Stars, a sense of humour, Leffingwell = livingwell, a Nazi-esque character, Paul F. Thompkins, 1958, Make Room, Make Room, 1968, overpopulation, The Population Bomb, the baby boom, the Asiatics, a terrible book, a monster of a book, the yardsticks aren’t a metaphor for racism, “midgets”, The Lonely Crowd, the women in this story…, housewives and pretend nurses, not a pure SF novel, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, a sociological novel, Jesse isn’t a fan of Psycho, Yours Truly Jack The Ripper, mainstream hack solutions, Bloch is a fan of science fiction, he’s talking about Clifford [D.] Simak here, the solution to overpopulation is to make everybody smaller, you have to lean into that, a weird pacing, Game Of Thrones, an underground secret society, the meta stuff is pretty good, the opening chapter, 70s era Jack [L.] Chalker, caesarian section is the solution?!, an entertaining story, why the heck is little Harry Collins named Harry Collins?, “you’ve dropped your premise”, western wildernesses, why is the President of The United States so excited about 20 pounds of hamburger, really undercooked (hamburger), the 7 hour workday, the 5 hour workday, the 4 hour workday, a 15mph commute, population efficiency, just fix the trains in this world, Soylent Green, not enough room (physical space), telecommuting, personal transport laws, a mash-up of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Project Mayhem portion of Fight Club and The Wizard Of Oz, Collins is constantly searching for the wizard, mistaking Beatniks for a religious order, a high-Daddio, The Planet Of The Apes premise, a dog and cat disease, accepting the premise, playing with science fiction tropes, an impressionistic idea of the world and the path it is on, the naturals or naturalists, its almost hippies, a generational metaphor, drug use, everybody takes yellow jackets, barbiturate, mixing with alcohol, a one child policy is IMPOSSIBLE?, emigration is IMPOSSIBLE, faster maturity faster death, living on Mars would make you barrel chested, island isolated animals change their size (Island gigantism or Insular dwarfism), pilots need to be short, small people and women endure g-forces better, little people on generation starships, food consumption, he follows through with his own joke, a buffet of ridiculous premises, a strange buffet, an entertaining buffet, politics and the super-rich go hand-in-hand, “the little plan”, “small government”, “it’s a small world after all”, Little John, silly, packed with a lot of weirdness, like a season of Star Trek, written over a weekend?, such a little apartment, “he’s living in a closet”, this would have to be a cartoon if it were a film, the world is a Flintstones background, if there had only been a female character who…, Stephen King loves westerns but can’t write them, lean into it, so why is this world not our problem?, LosSisco, William Gibson’s the Sprawl, Chicago and Milwaukee, well crafted characters (for talking heads), Pol Pot, no actual shitbags, the story of a 15 year old, sociologically and emotionally, the Goodreads reviews, Isaac Asimov’s the Hari Seldon plan, Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, breeding a crazy man, West End Games, Paranoia, the crappy text adventure games (that were fun to play), walking off to the unmapped areas, what about this bugbear?, in a future where cows are caviar, “bring your wife, we’ll have a party”, I’ll bang off something for Planet Stories, Psycho, 1959 and 1960, John defends Psycho, Bloch’s Star Trek script “Wolf In The Fold“, Bloch’s obsession with Jack The Ripper, Richard Matheson’s Night Gallery episode, Time After Time, a future thrill kill story [sounds somewhat like The Roller Coaster by Alfred Bester], before The Silence Of The Lambs, Hannibal, charismatic serial killers is a trope now, Ed Gein, H.H. Holmes (not H.H. Munro), the Chicago murder castle, a writer re-writing and thinking about an idea over and over again, serial writers must do it again, to “recreate it”, seeing a writer writing outside of his main genre, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, it’s a little 15-year old, simply written to pay a bill, finally Scotty gets his own episode, I canna remember, Star Trek with a serial killer is weird, That Hellbound Train, The Gold Key The Twilight Zone comics, an EC Comics knockoff, I’m being published for crappy reasons, nobody’s going to read this in two weeks so read it now, this story is a bird-house made by a talented mechanic, a giant truck that is the internet, 60s and 70s era Robert Bloch are sealed up outside of the trunk that is the internet, accept it within its boundaries, a character from the 1950s in a crazy 1950s future, how does the story affect you?, a Rorschach test, it doesn’t care about you, this story is a friend of yours off in the corner playing with LEGOs and the only thing you can do is criticize what he’s building.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Philip K. Dick’s first published novel, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, the Psi-Corps, a solar empire, getting away with murder, raw power, a telpath’s guild is a logical consequence, a 1950s idea, Dune, the John Preston sub-plot, Prester John is middle age superhero fan fiction, Marco Polo, Robert Silverberg, “the cynicism of later Dick”, the quizmaster bodyguard plan, Dickian action sequences, the conclusion on Mars, Batavia, that’s the cover too, androids on the Moon, Ace Books, how do you explain the guy not in the space suit, the protagonist, Doctor Who, the culture, androids, surprisingly little info-dumping, minimax (game theory), there’s so much going on, loyalty oaths, corporate feudalism, cheap Chinese goods, fealty to corporations, Total Recall, Johnny Cab!, distinguishing between male and female, imagine how difficult it will be for robots to determine gender, an elegant solution, the world is amazing, The Golden Man, nuclear war, post nuclear war, Indonesia, Batavia, no mention of the USA at all, such an ambitious book, it gets better in the re-reads, everyone’s obsessed with good luck charms, a metaphor for the whole society, stifling progress, very The Man In The High Castle, The Price Is Right, sell more goods, increasing demand for supply, pacifying the population, what does the quizmaster actually do?, lingering through the subways, algae growing on the bathroom pipes, a literal channel, a metaphorical channel, Channel M, Ted Bentley, his favourite bedgirl agency, the McDonalds of prostitution, virgin’s milk and boiled owl spit, all of his psychological problems were solved for the day, bare breasted, quivering breasts, his interests coming to the fore, cheating may or may not be legal, cynicism, the public service, bio-chemical engineering, secretaries, a minimum quality of life for everyone, defeating corruption by subverting competition, power cards, p-cards, figuring out how the lottery actually works, The Library Of Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges, the lottery starts as something for the lower classes, an interplanetary society, it just so happens that this story is in the the public domain, the 1962 English publication of The Library Of Babylon, great minds think…, I’m not playing this game, defeating corruption, avoiding cynicism, a total inversion of meritocracy, how the assassin as an anti-corruption measure, corrupting the anti-corruption measure, crackpots in power, the cynicism of Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, fatalism, am six year old wife, France, the premise of Glory Road, a sense of futility, SFF writers for and against the Vietnam War, International Science Fiction Magazine, a response to America 1950s, getting out of the system somehow, when do you not obey the law, so not full of philosophy, courtroom drama, Marissa needs to expand this book, “cluttered”, Dick’s later works are meditations, René Descartes, what the hell is the Flame Disc?, John Prester wrote four books, Prester is dead on Earth, Prester is dead in a bottle, what does 2 plus 2 equal?!, a buoy, Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow, unanticipatable, keep cooking that idea, looking for the 10th planet, bedgirls working in the mines on Mars, work-camps, random punishments, very Borgesian, neo-colonialism, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, Avatar, Desertion by Clifford D. Simak, just like in Avatar, him and his dog, escaping reality, A Princess OF Mars and Glory Road, let’s go live in this book, The Peripheral by William Gibson, time travel, computer simulations of historical characters, Socrates is a troll, Socrates trolls Francisco Pizarro, Keith Pellig has the bomb, another android with a bomb, Imposter by Philip K. Dick, Impostor, Astounding Science Fiction, it’s not terrible at all.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Henry Slesar was one of the most prolific scripters for the late-1970s early-1980s CBS Radio Mystery Theater. But before his career in radio drama Slesar was an author of Science Fiction. Like Alfred Bester, who also wrote for CBSRMT, Slesar was in the habit of recycling his earlier stories for the hour long anthology series (even though the show calimed to have such episodes written “especially for the Mystery Theater”). One such episode is A God Named Smith. It was first published in Amazing Stories, July 1957. And precisely 20 years later it was an episode of one of the last old time radio dramas.
CBSRMT #0658 – A God Named Smith
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcast: June 2, 1977
A young child prodigy creates an entire planet of his own, intending it to be a better world than earth. He finds volunteers to populate it, and establishes himself as a god.
And here’s a |PDF| of the original story.
Posted by Jesse Willis