The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)
Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself
At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.
beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,
Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.
a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,
Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.
It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.
That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.
poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,
And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.
the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,
“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”
-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1982, the last readable Heinlein novel, head-shaking, one of the most awkward books, transgender stuff, a New York times article, I Will Fear No Evil, body swap, an old man in a young woman’s body, Predestination (2014), All You Zombies, sex-change and time travel, another example of a Heinlein character getting a sex-change, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, even the computer is gender fluid, Podkayne Of Mars, Heinlein is the man in Science Fiction who really believes in women, the spring of 1991, re-reading experience, characters who defy human emotion and reality, made of human DNA, the Pinocchio story, focusing on the overbuilding, not just sex but odd sex, anti-male homosexuality but he likes lesbianism, a whiff of – but no sex on screen, Red Thursday, there’s a rape at the beginning and she marries her rapist at the end, it needs an editor, losing track of plotting, he let me pee, he’s a nice rapist, it makes sense!, Stranger In A Strange Land, what do we do about it?, horrible Heinlein thoughts, a lot of “doxy” training, an enhanced person vs. an artificial person, increased sexuality bred into them?, Dr. Baldwin engineered her, Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein, supermen, Olympia, late Heinlein is giving up on what early Heinlein wrote, travel reading, line marriages and serial marriages, making families, Christchurch, Winnipeg, Heinlein went to a swingers party and said “let’s do this all the time”, seeing a person’s mind over time, a plotless meandering travelogue/memoir, so many coincidences, that just happened to happen?, from set-piece to set piece, Bellingham, the AP guy never comes back, Chekhov’s gun that turns out to be a red herring, it wasn’t serialized for Playboy but should have been, sex for sex-sake, he’s got the 1997 World Wide Web in this book, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game did forums, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, Hathitrust, terminals vs. PCs, kittens, cats, how many breakfasts, hungry the whole time, that “triggered” me, Jesse explains this book, Canada, California, Las Vegas, New Zealand, Australia, credit cards, she takes his Diner’s Club card, clothing, Heinlein went on a cruise, transient ischemic attack (TIA), Grumbles From The Grave, lots of eating, good food, cruise ship food, movies, cruise-like, sitting at the captain’s table, Heinlein being respected, touring the United States, crazy governments, “long pig” = human pig, rich “slitch”, playing psychoanalyst, the Earth is doomed, Heinlein is obsessed with the frontier, Time Enough For Love, the frontier hypothesis, racism you wouldn’t notice, law and order in peaceful British Canada, the remainders of the US, the Bear Flag Republic of California, the Free State of Las Vegas, Vicksburg, the Chicago Imperium includes Minnesota, getting Paul’s revolution on, everybody is Amish now, driving draft horses, semi-ballistic skyport, the world’s best batteries: shipstones, Ayn Rand, a libertarian streak, the Galt’s Gulch approach to patents, an unresolved plot point, an internal revolt, they own everything, making an argument, an analogy for the oil industry, s-groups, freeing women up to work, Friday can run 30 km per hour, rolling around on the floor with kittens and babies, housewives, the lesbian couple-ship with Goldie, tension between roles of women, all those contradictions, why is Friday sterile, childless Heinleins, write what you want, Heinlein as a gold bug, making America great again by tearing down the wall between the USA and Mexico, pushing gold hard, politeness is society, no flame wars on Heinlein’s internet, paperbooks vs. ebooks, Google book scans, nobody knew about the internet, the pay internet, the pay web, SOPA and PIPA, a free and open internet, Friday‘s enthusiasm for the web was realistic, I can learn everything, you have no excuse today for not knowing everything, know what you don’t know and don’t talk about it, learning about the world by reading Heinlein novels, the word “knave”, The Queen of Hearts, claques, stylites, particularism, secessionist California, Texas, a balkanized USA, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, alternate dimensions, the Rapture,
The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.
its so easy not to appreciate all we have, I pity all the fools, The Number Of The Beast, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gay Deceiver, there’s no way to fix this!, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, the thing he has about incest, Heinlein’s Future History, Philip K. Dick does the opposite, it all hangs together, someone is hanging himself in a closet, Heinlein’s periods, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Door Into Summer, Professor Eric S. Rabkin, walls dilate open, women: I kinda wanna be one, The Puppet Masters, a similar organization, a boss with a bunch of agents, the boss just dies, writing the novel with a pair of dice or the I Ching, weird coincidences, part of the story just falls away, the Dungeon Master, Friday as a pick-a-path book, on the whole we enjoyed it, the writing style, Hillary Huber was the narrator for Blackstone Audio version, a fun listen, I wouldn’t say that I liked it, fun in places, what is an artificial person, if you prick me do I not leak?, people born of three parents, a future person, GMO fruit vs. organic fruit, people have been fucking with fruit forever, Jesse expounds on apples, all apples for harvest are grafts, Maissa expounds on bananas, Paul expounds on corn, corn is in everything in the USA, you’re 80% corn, the enhanced talking dog, kobold miners, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, the main character is a robot, no biological creatures, the illegitimate worries that Friday has are programmed into the main character of Saturn’s Children, a romp novel with everybody dead, straight out of Heinlein’s subconscious, Reading, Short & Deep, Who Can Replace A Man? by Brian Aldiss, Ian Tregillis’ Alchemy War novels, Spartacus, Botany Bay, there is a destiny that shapes our lives, an allusion to Hamlet
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
a terrible funny book, contemporary American politics, Jim Briskin, a bunch of stoners going out to dinner, political sophisticates, the ending, PKD is sick of his own story, precedents, Cantata 140, Johann Sebastian Bach’s When Sleepers Awake, H.G. Wells, seeing it from the wrong end, time travel, putting people into suspended animation, poor political intrigue, House Of Cards, what America is really about, racism and class, the cols and the jerries and the bib, why are they called bibs?, most bibs are cols, cols = coloureds (non-whites), jerries = geriatrics, Robert A. Heinlein, other themes, Dr. Futurity, two books smooshed together, that was a funny two books, other books on this theme, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, you can own an entire empty Earth, aliens come to visit, the sleepers, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, a sense of deep time, the beginning of this book, so racist, not as racist as it sounds, Herb Lackmore, get an abortion, a “wheel” is a car, more of a U.S. thing, the United States stands in for the entire Earth, an economics issue, other countries have had this problem in the past, England (the enclosures), they sent them to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, we don’t have that frontier, Dick nailed the economic problems of the early 21st century, a clunky 1960s novel, fun-house mirror prescience, seeing through a Scanner Darkly, white vs. black election, Trump supporters, C.L.E.A.N., the Tea Party, the KKK, super racist organization, interesting payoffs, the pekes (Peking man), sloping foreheads, racism vs. speciesism, and the moral of this story is…, Bill Smith walks into the room, even more hilarious, this whole incident will fade out of reality, whatever political scandal is happening this week…, nothing comes of it, how you gonna terraform Uranus?, a gigantic problem, what happens?, frustrating, but we love it, that mutant peke, even the space brothel comes back online, everybody hit the reset button, like a Star Trek episode, the Prominent Author by Philip K. Dick is entirely explained within The Crack In Space, a jiffy scuttler, Terran Development, Mary (again), “I’m thinking of writing a sequel”, a very funny joke, God is the most prominent author, an almost Jim Briskin, he was a “newsclown”, Stand-by, What Will We Do With Ragland Park?, interesting SFF audios, precognitive songs, weird, The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, a flaming red wig, the Philip K. Dick fan page notes, Ace Books changed the title, the title is a double-entrendre, “The Golden Door”, very American, they hate sex and they love it, where’s our flying taxi to take us to our brothel in space, a giant boob in space, bootleg organs, nothing came of that, Doctor Who, Revelation of the Daleks, consumer resistance, are you sure want to do this?, Vanilla Sky, Abres Los Ojos, the two political parties, the Liberal Republicans and the Conservative Socialists, possibly the worst book by Dick, not the book to start with, full of lots of ideas and humour, George Walt (the wind god), he’s a libertarian, see what you get, one long rambling set-up, you can’t live in this novel, Dr. Futurity, a valuable and valueless skill, bonkers, more repairmen, fewer presidents, The Simulacra, they’re all blending together, The Man Who Japed, Vulcan’s Hammer, The Cosmic Puppets, Solar Lottery, Eye In The Sky, these are the golden books, somehow they all got published, Now Wait For Last Year, a floppy fruit salad, he was attempting a trick, it didn’t work, wub fur pajamas, advertising on the doors, like Minority Report‘s ads (the movie), Mr American Buisness, my “golden door”, the Statue of Liberty’s poem:
The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
that’s why, the abortion therapist wife, we’re supposed to empathize with the cols, if he had had another pass at this…, flying to the coast of the new world, a new Normandy invasion, how many D-Days, Neanderthal strivings are modest, The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett (a sequel of sorts), Stephen Baxter doesn’t write comedy, if this is his worst it does not turn us off at all, clunky and malformed like the brow ridges on a peking man, a slight vacation from our own broken crazy world, the audiobook, the narrator made one character sound like Ronald Regan, Eric Dawe, a few jiggling boobs, almost no women, this novel doesn’t pass any tests.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #313 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa continue their journey through The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien with a discussion of Book II “The Ring Goes South” (aka the second half of The Fellowship Of The Ring).
Talked about on today’s show:
Many meetings; Elrond’s powerpoint at the council; Bilbo’s demands for lunch (after missing his first and second breakfasts); the science fiction info dump; Council of Elrond’s unfeasibility in today’s publishing world; council is a series of chained short stories; a whole bunch of new characters; the rhythm and pacing of Tolkien’s storytelling; the protracted timespan of the novel; crotchety Bilbo; Caradhras and the “jaw-cracker” Dwarven tongue; Sam as the mediating character; Bill the Pony; dreams and The Wizard of Oz; the inevitability of Frodo’s quest; the dreams of Boromir and Faramir; Boromir has something to prove; Boromir’s complex relationship with Aragorn; the one walkers set against the nine riders; Boromir is Gondor-centric and doesn’t see the big picture; nuclear weapons as a modern analogy for the ring, Mordor = Nazi Germany, Gondor = Russia, Canada = The Shire; Canada’s refusal of nuclear power; the importance of choices in the story; Saruman of Many Colors; “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom”; subverting readers’ expectations; “I will take the ring, though I do not know the way”; the ring and addiction; Galadriel’s long battle with temptation; Caradhras again, the anthropomorphic mountain; The Mirror of Galadriel and the choice to look; Teleport = teleportation + pornography; Tolkien’s letters, and Galadriel is not the Virgin Mary; Galadriel’s soul gaze–Boromir’s response: “this is bullshit!”; Frodo’s relationship with Galadriel as fellow ring bearers; more dubious analogies: Gandalf (or Isildur) as Eisenhower; the raw deal the Stewards get in Minas Tirith; Sam’s always excluded from the meetings; Rivendell and Lothlórien’s competing bed and breakfasts; Galadriel’s gifts; The Lord of the Rings as modernized Viking sagas; Babylon 5 is Lord of the Rings in spaaaaaaaaaaaaaace!; Jesse has seen everything; the Moria dungeon crawl; the Lovecraftian tentacle monster; how did Gollum enter Moria; Dungeons and Dragons vs. the Tolkien estate; wolves; the reappearance of “chance”; Frodo’s perilous sturgeon Amon Hen; repeated references to star- and moonlight; the strange nature of Elf magic; a digression about bears, bees, honey, and wolves; the Elven cloaks vs. Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak; the nature of the other rings; race conflicts in Middle Earth and the fairness of blindfolds; the film’s vulgarization of dwarves; the poetry of Middle Earth; the complexities of a multilingual world; “nom de traveling”; black swans on the Great River; Jesse is a “philosophically-trained Elvish dude”; white swans and symbolic logic; not many big predators in Middle Earth; Romantic ideas of nature; vegetarians and vegans in Middle Earth; the slippery slope of vegetarian logic; orcs in Lord of the Rings vs. goblins in The Hobbit; George MacDonald’s Goblin Princess; the etiology of the orcs; Sauron’s exploits in Númenor (read: Atlantis or Ultima Thule) before the ring; Robert E. Howard’s Conan is an Atlantean; multiple readings; what are the rest of the dwarves up to?; bosses and minibuses in Moria; Legolas, Gimli, and intercultural stress in Middle Earth; looking forward to The Two Towers; Maissa is still on board as a first-time reader.
Posted by Seth
The SFFaudio Podcast #266 – Jesse, Luke, and Juliane Kunzendorf discuss When The Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells
Talked about on today’s show:
Julianne’s first SFFaudio Podcast, what do we call them?, readers and talkers, 1899/1910/1923, When The Sleeper Wakes, The Sleeper Wakes, The Sleeper Awakes, Blackstone Audio’s audiobook version, the serialization in The Graphic magazine, the 1910 preface, “an editorial elder brother”, going to the original sources, a forecast of technology, technological changes between the revisions, aeroplanes and aeropiles, the introduction to the 1923 edition, “fantasias of possibility”, “suppose these forces go on novel”, H.G. Wells thought the rich were evil geniuses (prior to meeting them), “rather foolish plungers”, “vulgar rather than wicked”, Ostrog, “a nightmare of capitalism triumphant”, capitalist/socialism (kind of like Japan), The Unincorporated Man is pretty much the same story, yay Marxism!?, when Graham wakes up, Chapter 7, there only audiobooks in the future, The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling, The Madonna Of The Future by Henry James, Heart Of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, phonetic spelling, an H.G. Wells way of writing, is it the nature of a serial, the reader transplanted into the year 2100, The War Of The Worlds, suicide, Isbister, Warming, Ostrog, Lincoln, “body fag is no cure for brain fag”, “while he was breaking his fast”, the language, lying in a crystal box, a passive character, establishing the genre, space elevators, Buck Rogers has the same premise, Idiocracy, Eine Billion Dollar by Andreas Eschbach, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, the importance of money, the gilded age, wealth disparity, the labour company, a dystopia along the lines of Brave New World, the Martian invasion, The Time Machine, is this the start of the Morlocks and the Eloi?, 1984 by George Orwell, the proles, the pleasure cities, distractions, the value of work beyond being paid, a class trap, what is Wells saying?, Wells’ ambivalence towards the proles, there are no more school examinations, is this a meritocracy?, technological dystopias (like 1984), social dystopias, Brave New World is a medical dystopia, genetic dystopias, knowing you live in a dystopia, North Korea, knowledge of other societies, the time before Big Brother, Julia, the Anti-Sex League, genetically dumbified, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, religious dystopia, advertizing Christianity, prosperity gospels, church revivals, advertising, the babel machines, movies and television, what will this culture do to the culture?, “people don’t read”, airplanes, heavier-than-air aircraft, smashing airplanes into other airplanes, aerial ramming, flying machine vs. aeroplane vs. airplane vs. aeropile, My First Aeorplane by H.G. Wells, rocketships, the pilot’s union, the look of the airplane, the clothing, Victorian age dresses, the church, hanging in the air, the Thames has run dry, megalopolis, the building material, the Eiffel Tower, steel, concrete, plastic, glass, carbon fiber, biotech, Pandora’s Star, a coral house, 3D printing, Ikea Hacks, print on demand houses, economics, factories and automation, The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, slide-walk, edamite, Ostrog, Ostrogoths, Lincoln, foment a revolution, race and racism, Senagalese, ostrog as “fortress”, a Serbian Orthodox Church, Ostrog will boss the show, “in bounds”, are these are revolutionary names?, Che Guevara, Abraham Lincoln’s freeing the slaves, thug force, Berlin, June 17th, 1953, the Berlin Wall, outside forces, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Gurkhas, “see we’re all friends”, smiling bright shiny teeth, “they are fine loyal brutes”, racism is in there but it is not the point of the book, The War Of The Worlds, a little hypocritical, we can’t see the issue, massive economic suppression, calculating boys, hypnotism, economic slavery, the wealth gap, the White Council, the blaring speakers, the media firehouse, talk radio, people wearing their headphones everywhere, podcasts, each one of those streams are newspapers, a newspaper for everybody, broadsheets vs. tabolids, your newspaper tells your class, daily free newspapers, Jack The Ripper, Melville Macnaghten, Michael Ostrog (thief and con-man), the symbolism of the aircraft, the three books, Helen is the Madonna of the future, it’s a joke, the novel’s end, ‘my Graham dies without certainty of victory or defeat’, ambiguous airplanes, “literally that’s his dream”, flying dreams, cliffs and high places, Isbister and Warming -> Lincoln and Ostrog, “its fun”, “in such a fall as this countless dreams have ended”, dream falling, the different endings, the future of that future, Olaf Stapledon’s The Last And First Men, many futures, Olaf Stapledon takes what Wells does a little farther, Graham as a Christ figure, risen from the dead… etc., in Graphic detail, full colour holographic Jesus, the empty tomb moment, allusions to other literature in the Bible, Arthur C. Clarke, the Son of Man, A Story Of The Days To Come, the emptying of the countryside, the enclosures, Scotland, Canada, Glasgow, Berlin, well more than 50% of the world’s population lives in cities now, Among Others by Jo Walton, Wales, the merits of country living, the economic theory behind everything, access to internet, staring at the internet, services, live entertainment, “my choice of Christian girls was three girls”, poor Luke.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Maissa Bessada’s The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is very hard to tell you about. It’d be easy to say the show is just bonkers, but that’d give you the idea that it doesn’t work on a certain level that it really does. The plot is nonsensical, in the way that some of Philip K. Dick’s are. But If I said it was like a Philip K. Dick plot that’d give you absolutely the wrong idea. The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is far more like the Goon Show than PKD.
The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is naive, sharp, amateurish, polished, bizarre, insightful, childish, wise, ridiculous, and hilarious. I’ve been listening to the six half hour episodes over and over for the last three weeks and I still honestly don’t know exactly what to make of it or how even to really describe it – other than to say I like it a whole lot and I want Maissa Bessada to be my friend.
We may have to look at The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi as a kind of work of genius, something to marvel at, something to experience. There’s a kind of damn the torpedoes specificity to the details of this show that make it an impossible project to imagine got made. And yet here it is, like a very weird dream come alive, The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi seems to have come from an alternative universe.
But I don’t want to scare you off, it a weird experimental audio drama, in fact it’s pretty conventional, and first and foremost it’s a comedy. So let me invite you in.
Think of the great comedic audio dramas: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Scarifyers, Steve, The First or Dick Dynamo: The Fifth Dimensional Man.
You’d say yeah, it’s a comedy like those. But then I’d say to you that, unlike Hitchhiker’s, this one’s really zany! Zany on multiple levels. And that, unlike Scarifyers, this one’s a Science Fiction comedy, that it’s really not very much interested in how things are, as much as how they could be! There’s no periodicity to it. And that, unlike Steve, this one, though totally and utterly Canadian, is full of international flavouring! And unlike Dynamo, the titular character is the straight-man to the off-the-rails flowing crazy funny world.
The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is crazier than a patchwork quilt of all of those shows gliding through puffs of time and space.
And although they are really completely and wholly different in every possible way The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi reminded me most of was The Adventures of Sexton Blake. It’s not the word play, nor the lunatic pacing, it’s more the characters. And yet, the comparison still falls completely apart.
Indeed, the ears you need to appreciate The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi require you to throw out your basic assumptions. They require a paradigmatic shift within you, an unencumbered embrace of the unfamiliar and hilarious, a removal of expectations, an open mind.
The Destiny Of Special Agent Ace Galaksi is an audio drama that cares most about the weird story that it is weirdly telling. It’s really, really fun.
Here’s the official premise:
After a comet of unknown origin crashes through one of God’s recycling piles, a new planet, Traa Laa Laa, forms in the aftermath. Created from a little bit of this and a little bit of that, the beings on that planet have the ability to change shape. It is CSIS special agent Ace Galaksi’s destiny to discover that those shape-changing extraterrestrials have been visiting Earth since time immemorial – and that some of those visitors left artifacts behind. One of those artifacts is as small as a seventy million year old tennis ball, another as big as the great pyramid of Giza. Certain peculiarities about the artifacts lead Ace to some startling discoveries about the very nature of existence. Unfortunately Ace Galaksi’s destiny is unclear as to whether or not he’ll be able to stay ahead of world government plots to ensure he keeps his findings to himself – permanently.
Sez scripter Maissa Bessada:
“After completing the novel version of Ace Galaksi, I realized the work had great potential as an audio play. I re-wrote it as a series of scripts, hired several talented, highly versatile actors and a Juno award winning, retired CBC producer. The show was complete. Fantastic! For about a split – or as those of us with a sci-fi bent would have it – nano-second. Then I realized that having an entertaining, thought-provoking show online wasn’t the end of my work, it was only the beginning. The next challenge was finding an audience for it.
A few weeks ago I was introduced to your podcast. In one episode Scott said in passing, ‘The best audio drama is better than a movie.’ I stopped in my tracks. (I was listening while walking the dog) and told the dog and whatever squirrels and trees that would pay attention, ‘The best audio drama is better than a movie – I couldn’t agree more!’
I’d love for you guys to listen to my show. People that choose to enjoy sci-fi in an audio format – I feel like a stranger in a strange land who has finally found home.”
Leave a comment, tell me what you think of this show.
Posted by Jesse Willis