The SFFaudio Podcast #439 – READALONG: The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

September 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #439 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer discuss the novella entitled The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Talked about on today’s show:
Serberous?, the novella (not the whole book), maybe an accident maybe on purpose, very-Wolfeian, Orbit 10 edited by Damon Knight, fixup vs. novel?, V.R.T., to fully understand…, you need them all together, error or on purpose, many moons ago, novella is the perfect length for any Science Fiction work, read in publication order, old home week, Ender’s Shadow, Ender’s Game, cheating, the Alzabo Soup podcast, The Book Of The New Sun, condensed and distilled, Jorge Luis Borges <- I like what that guy's doing, I'm going to do me some of that -> George R.R. Martin, reader doing the heavy lifting, A Song Of Ice And Fire, almost a fantasy novel, a cloning story, Jack Vance, far future where science has become magic, the Dying Earth subgenre, no magic going on?, the sentences are full of magic, what does the title mean, is the reader the fifth head?, The Black Gate blog post, this story is a combination lock that allows many different combinations, info-dumping, somebody is a clone or a mirror or a part of his imagination, an unreliable narrator, a really good sign, this is Gene Wolfe’s thing, perfect memory, no memory, a consistent memory, how accurate are the details?, how many characters are there?, number five, is one of the characters is “Gene Wolfe”?, the father, the brother (David), the aunt, the lady in pink, the other clone in the warehouse, the four-armed dude is a character, the robot (Mr Millions), Marsh, the anthropologist, the brothel, how its revealed, he has been in prison, the only complete arc, we must infer the rest of them, the death of the father, Christopher Nolan should direct it, it is a complete work or it will be, clones of the same person, hinkey, hokey, or odd, all the books in the private library were written by his father, going to the Ws, very meta, are you a Nigerian prince? Jesse will believe you (for a minute), he is really old, which body did all the typing and research, daily dissertations, studying particular subjects (to be filled in in the labyrinth), The Library Of Babel, the only thing we know about readers is that they like books, writers are readers too, the ultimate fantasy is the place where all the stories are found, cloning to write, cloning to read, what’s up with the late night interrogations, is he psychoanalyzing?, or studying?, voight-kampff tests, what makes something or someone real?, Infinivox, Robert Reed’s Guest Of Honor, there was no quintessential cloning novel, why she is guest of honour, everybody is immortal, he could be downloading, being able to read three books at the same time, David isn’t one of the clones is he?, he escapes, theory and conjecture, nothing more than personality test?, gaining insight into himself, he’s clearly cloned a lot, “failures”, a slave who looks like him, four arms vs. five heads, societal cloning, impressions, “questionable things”, a brothel, a Frankenstian lab, The Island Of Dr Moreau, Littlefinger and Varos from Game Of Thrones, all sorts of play, what the kid’s doing with the frogs, experimenting with all the different ways of living and making life, mirrors and labyrinths, why he lives in a brothel, financial motivations, slave dealing, endless cycle, the Greek Tragedy elements, unfortunately that’s how the prophecy goes, genes are destiny, escaping the trap and escaping the cycle, A Song Of Ice And Fire, castrated folks, incest, pretty interesting, Nightflyers, Sandkings, that hardness, slavery and murder, colonization, genocide, colonialism, what information can we glean, the plastic replicas of the aboriginal stone tools, pre-stone tool culture, is Veill’s hypothesis correct?, does it matter?, good questions, John Marsh or a version of John Marsh, sending messages in the prison…to who?, the third novella, only identified as numbers, more to unlock, 666 to jump up on the stage, Hell, Hell is a stage, the theatre, the woman guard, what are the different theories on the title?, Maitre, the five clones, the maidenhead (virginity), bars and locked doors, suddenly he’s a mad scientist, the slave market visits, the great grandfather, a ROM?, reliability of information, why who is an abbo is important, robot protector, robot tutor, seemingly no emotions, very Christopher Nolan, if Gene Wolfe is the name of 5, one is a mirror of the other, one is a mirror of Earth and one is a mirror of Hell, one way of writing a story summary, what is the metaphor of the stage?, why is the stage stuff in there?, there’s stuff they want you to see, there’s a bunch going on back stage, a facade, the name of the house, The House Of The Dog, base and primal, a sexual position, what the significance of the stone tools (that are actually plastic), John V. Marsh, the significance is overblown because it is the only thing leftover, the kid then confabulates the culture, is David smarter or wiser?, when our father interviews you what does he call you?, escaping the traps, reading Odysseus, the cyclops, don’t give your name, the intertextual references, H.P. Lovecraft, Vernor Vinge, feeling like fantasy, part of the play, nurture vs. nature, it’s all fate, doomed, a metal prison, we seek self knowledge, why we seek, the little ape, we wish to discover why we fail, another reflection, the mirror world you can’t go to, to step through the looking glass, a myth or a fairy tale, trying to connect with the world of myth and legend, quest, maitre means head, like a head of a hotel, so cool, the theories of what is going to happen in Game Of Thrones, Martin’s plans, “interesting”, what bones were put into the soup, how the meal is going to digest, a very complex set of flavours, the anise, the bacon, mixed beans, a very hearty hearty meal, How To Read Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them.Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

the dogs always stand in, how the red woman and her prophecies play out, king’s blood, a victim of her own witchery, a deep analysis of the opening credits of the Game Of Thrones TV series, it’s not really a map, it’s an inverse orrery, mechanistic movement, behind the scenes, a Dyson’s sphere, when Winterfell falls, a nice metaphor for the creation of a secondary world, Lord Dunsany’s The Wonderful Window, Golden Dragon City, ways of reading, different methods and techniques with which to approach, an interview with Gene Wolfe, the Korean War, once you think you’re smart that’s when they get you, getting killed shows that you’re not smart, I’m a much more literary man, it’s about the love of writing, how ethereal or gossamer Borges stuff is, how it connects to us, it can live without us reading, a story being spun, its the yarn itself, it needs us more than Borges’ stuff does, what would make a failed Gene Story would look like, that’s his brand, Stanisław Lem’s One Human Minute, a cute thought, a professor of 1920s and 1830, a more broad education, the Wikipedia entry for 1908, when you read the Wikipedia entry for 2017 in 100 years…, Durham Stevens, super-deep, The Island Of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories, he knew exactly what he was doing, a confluence of events, a critical hit, stumbled upon, its not an accident, Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury, Proust, questions of identity, Sandman, he has always been a really good guy to following the reading of, Douglas Adams, look at this, his essays about Edgar Allan Poe, an even better non-fiction writer than a fiction writer, a book of essays, a mini essay about cities in SimCity 2000, a little Easter Egg, “ruminate”, A View From The Cheap Seats, Philip Reeve, The Hungry Cities Chronicles, The Wind From A Burning Woman (collection) by Greg Bear, this is Lankhmar, Dungeons & Dragons, a city adventure, behind every door is another potential story, a tiny little slice, fully expanded, Fritz Leiber’s not as good as I want him to be, next level stuff, Gene Wolfe never won a Hugo, there’s no justice, you know nothing, Nebulas, who is our best writer?, no official audiobook version, Audible.com, the best of Gene Wolfe on audio is a good idea, a hard no, off the Wolfe subject.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #412 – READALONG: Rite Of Passage by Alexei Panshin

March 13, 2017 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #412 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, Maissa and Bryan Alexander discuss Rite Of Passage by Alexei Panshin

Talked about on today’s show:
1968, 1963, Paul’s suggestion, an antidote to Heinlein, an answer to Heinlein, Heinlein liberal?, Heinlein incestuous, Masqueworld books, clever and charming, anthropological SF, political SF, being good company, Doctor Who without the intelligence or capacity or Tardis, puckish satire, a pleasant smile of a book, Starship Troopers is to The Forever War as Tunnel In The Sky is to Rite Of Passage, Heinlein In Dimension, before the internet was a thing, a YA novel thirty years early, modern tech, attitudes, modern sexuality, Cory Panshin, a new wave SF piece, Ursula Le Guin, Russ, Frank Herbert, early Triptree, SF in the age of the sexual revolution, communal living, teen sex, squarely on the liberal side, Brave New World lite, history not SF, a girl instead of a guy, this is the spartan youth being trained to kill the helots, the genocide, the unexpected, “reprimanded”, Morlock, divided by caste, a eugenics officer, The Word For World Is Forest, a doomed society, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, like duh, Panshin’s response to Orphans Of The Sky aka Universe and Common Sense, a hollowed out starship, a generation ship, mutants, JoeJim, thoughtless religion, the ship society, don’t get too weird, the ancient Greeks, a trial or a test, boy-scouting trips, why isn’t the mom in here?, the men and women don’t live together, dormitories, the common room, the USA as Athens and the Soviet Union as Sparta, Athens is elsewhere, there’s no art, the mom is a sculptor, a kind of communist, how things work, technological know-how vs. physical means, all they need to do is have one defector with a thumb drive, one Edward Snowden, when is this book going to deal with that?, knowledge isn’t just a bunch of books, a set of skills, the expertise, George, blaming the colonist mud eaters, what do we think about the father, one of the two kings, earlier visits, kids are mean, unequal trade, how slowly the narrator learns, in the shadow of her father, always daddy, if Professor Eric S. Rabkin were here, internal exile, she has a romance with Peeta, the enforcer of rules, he freezing her, the tutor, we want them to be more opposite, the Romans, two consuls, rivals vs. enemies, moral discipline, Dune’s painbox, are you human?, winnowing your caste, time will tell, Havero – Have-arrow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, wearing pajamas, a useless therapist in the lounge, that’s what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is for, turtle, ritual declarations of war, a war of one against the others, The Hunger Games, spacesuits were designed for war, the turtles and the tigers, stagnation, the last chapter, seeing it from the wrong perspective, bristling with nukes and planet killers, less Tunnel In The Sky than it is Universe, Forbidden Planet, a negative version of the utopia in Iain M. Banks’ Culture books, popular notes on Kindle, choosing to be smaller than you could be, a completely secular society, collective guilt, completely bullshit, Attila, it turns out Rod is black, not a racist thing, yes there is a time when we will destroy them completely but now they are useful to us, plowing ahead, an American thing, civil unrest, the War on Poverty, the 1960s, the Great Society program, “inner cities”, rural poverty, ships are like universities, cultured cities, riding roughshod over Appalachia, Deliverance, loving them their way, good bookstores and great libraries, the number of the universities, financial aid, an interesting echo, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, part 3, the dissident dude who treats her like a daughter, “he gave me lessons”, “my first stop was the library”, books inside of novels: The White Way, “it has beed an interesting 42 years”, why is it winning a Nebula, fine tough minded people, on the water world, my dad is eighty, The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick, factional pogroms, what’s the point of that?, a pseudo-father figure, wha happn?, this is why sequels happen, is there never going to be a revolution?, enslaving the local humanoids, slaving, the great sin: breeding, discipline and trials kill a lot of the population, genre and popular concerns, The Population Bomb, the Club of Rome, Make Room! Make Room!, log cabins and sheriff’s offices, Earth went to pot, our heroine, being a spear-carrier, reading a book from the perspective of a spear carriers, an Austin Powers spear-carrier scene, it’s fun to hold a gun, a token of hope, she’s not the revolutionary we want her to be, a more searing indictment, Bryan doesn’t like YA fiction, Harry Potter, Bryan as Hagrid, a transition book, anti-colonialism, the US role in Vietnam, uprisings against the French, the Chinese, Avatar, inequality as a means for control, the anti-colonialists fail, the structure, a playful light tone, the epilogue, waking up out of a bubble, oh we’re doing that?, that’s my society doing that sort of thing?, you’re dad was alive during WWII, your dad was in the hitler Youth, oh yeah, Jordan Peterson, a depressing failure, reforms of her tutor, Revolt In 2100, Have Space Suit, Will Travel,

Down To The World Of Men by Alexei Panshin

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #345 – READALONG: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

November 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #345 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about the Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.

Talked about on today’s show:
1937, Jesse has a radical thesis, is this book a true story?, I’m not really happy I just think that I am, Alice In Acidland, drugs, what do we mean by true?, arachnoids and ikthyoids, a summary of Last And First Men, the unnamed narrator, astral projection, the contents of this book, not history but a personal experience (of imagination), standing on a hill, an interesting fantasia, considering the size of the universe, Star Trek with Nazi costumes is possible and perhaps even inevitable, The Truman Show, the nature of infinity, an Italian who would be perfectly happy to use the word true about this book, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.”, bitterness, Dante Alighieri, a lyric poem, Olaf Stapledon was a philosopher, a blazing panoply, an image of the rose, OS, “One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.”, an abiding faith, the original meaning of comedy, comedies end in marriage, sitcoms, both narrators acknowledge their psychological state, an exponential rhythm, overhead obscurities in flight, a Doppler shift, the other Earth, Bvalltu, a composite character, planets – > solar systems -> galaxies, a fractal experience, an encompassing wisdom, marriage as a small atom of community, spirit inhabited rock, a World War I novel, 1986, Eric taught Star Maker to Bryan, memories imbricated upon each other, the preface, Stapledon was an ambulance driver in WWI, looming WWII, militarism, seeing the sunny side of a ruined planet, Merseyside, too smashed up to really be alive, a 1930s novel, fascism vs. communism, how to organize the self and society, a secular myth, a shock to civilization, the cycle of mechanization, terrible mutations, the onset of the tank, a sense of horror, WWI and WWII as two different episodes, the Spanish Civil War, shaking off colonialism, materialistic industrialization, the only wait out is an act of faith, how can we not think of the Star Maker as a monster, “struck dumb with shame”, limitations of the audio medium, Bryan’s keyboard, C.S. Lewis, why C.S. Lewis didn’t like Star Maker, a Lewis-nemesis, crusades, the Great War on Terror (2 decades old), mindless religious violence, anticipations of subsequent Science Fiction, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, two 20th century philosophies, Freud and Marx, neurosis and sublimation, genitals with sense organs, radio pornography, the feelies from Brave New World, crisis of labour, ideologies as philosophical artifacts, not Dave Singer, separated by space and time, supplementary parentheses, adduction of Christianity, three linked universes, playing for the souls of the creatures, a timeless heaven and a timeless hell, Earth, Mars, and Venus in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, suffering for the redemption of the Earth, explicitly not a Christian view, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as a response to a paragraph in Star Maker, all the Christs of all the worlds, “a basket of Christs”, this is Arthur C. Clarke, a tour of Science Fiction in the future, this is The Mote In God’s Eye, The High Crusade, the novel itself is a universe, cosmos vs. universe, Jesse’s theory about the Game Of Thrones universe in the TV show, what Clarke does this in slight watercolours Stapledon paints in bold oils on a massive canvas, Arthur C. Clarke’s life changing moment, copying out the scales of magnitude, Bryan’s son, encapsulating, it is Stapledon, Dante is Dante in The Divine Comedy, The Divine Comedy as political revenge, Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, Stapledon is not a punishment guy, when Lovecraft looks out of the universe…, when Stapledon looks at the same vista he’s not as melancholy about it, The Cats Of Ulthar, contemporaries, philosophical horror, long distance psychology, like Poe, fairy tales, handling fears, we get to feel, this is an education effort, quite special, a genre issue, the roller-coaster moment, looking at the vocabulary, eldritch and ichor, lucidity, feeling, the etymology of the word “vermin”,

I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and
living gem revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though
invisible, were some of the most congested centers of human population.
There below me lay huge industrial regions, blackening the air with
smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly momentous enterprise had
made no mark whatever on the features of the planet. From this high
look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before the dawn of
man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could have
guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering,
self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.

the stellar wars, too lucid for more tribal patterns, sympsychic partnership, angelic vermin, more real than all the stars, like two close trees grown together, difference can be strength, the Orson Welles radio version of The War Of The Worlds, versus the Martians our differences don’t make a hill’s worth of difference, The Lord Of The Rings, looking for the Ents and the Entwives, there are Ents in Star Maker, the holy sex transmission that never got off, the ships worlds,

It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to
see the foam circling under one’s own nose as the vessel plunged through
the waves, to taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past
one’s flanks, to feel the pressure of air on the sails as one beat up
against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line the rush and murmur
of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom’s configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the
under-water ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a
hurricane, to feel the masts straining and the sails threatening to
split, while the hull was battered by the small but furious waves of
that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great living
ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their
yellow or russet sails to the wind’s variations; and very strange it was
to realize that these were not man-made objects but themselves conscious
and purposeful.

Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one
another’s sails with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another’s
soft “decks” with metal knives, or at a distance firing at one another
with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it was to feel in the presence
of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to carry out with
her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed
the love-play of this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled,
grapple her to one’s flank, and board her with sexual invasion. It was
charming, too, to see a mother ship attended by her children. I should
mention, by the way, that at birth the young were launched from the
mother’s decks like little boats, one from the port side, one from the
starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough
weather and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our
visit natural sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and
propeller which were fixed to the stern.

nothing like this in Science Fiction, Lloyd Abbey’s The Last Whales, an elegiac book, another sub-genre of Kindle based pornography, much of William Wordsworth’s poetry is admired too simply, Eric reads Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, the houses with windows like sleeping eyes, watching the lives of dreams, the houses are sleeping not the people within them, the smokeless air, lying still, what makes the beauty, The World Is Too Much With Us, a cry for God, Fungi From Yuggoth (IX): The Courtyard by H.P. Lovecraft:

It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!

deemed unfit, body horror, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, ever more capacious mentalities, being taught by groups, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Inner Light, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant as a horrible version of this, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, Boneland by Jeffrey Thomas, from a microscopic perspective, these things pass, bodyless timelords, a swarm of locusts, eugenics, Chapter 9, cultural and eugenical means, The King In Yellow (The Repairer Of Reputations) by Robert W. Chambers, the lethal chamber, Futurama, Providence, Alan Moore, criticism of Moore, turning everything Lovecraft hates into love, Last And First Men was a bestseller in 1930, the fifth generation, the Martian hive-mind, what is the moral ideal that Stapledon hopes that we move toward?, individuality in community, a literary allusion, a race on Venus, from epoch to epoch, that scaling thing again, the problem with fascism, fasces, is this a Darwinian book?, parasitism, symbiosis, evolution, Marx dedicated Capital to Darwin, getting rid of Harper, mutual aid, The World, the Flesh & the Devil by J.D. Bernal, astronomy, Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution), mutual slaughter, profit in fraternization with the enemy, like Rod Serling The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, gentleness as a religion, the entangled bank (in Origin Of Species), functional stability arising out of local possibilities of violence, virtue in the creator is not the same of virtue in the creature, a third position, the sense experience of a star, in the center of this paragraph, free will and determinism are compatible, always bigger, a selfless star, the normal voluntary motor activity of a star, if you empty your ego and just feel others, perfect selflessness allows entrance into perfect community, getting your karma clean, dark matter, the science is pretty damn good, the key word is “lucid”, the vast emptiness enables the insight into the stars, rubies lay behind me, the sky’s familiar diamonds, all possible light, watch Steven Universe, ageless like Star Maker, the tag cloud, world and worlds, Oswald Spengler, growth -> change -> decay, the myth at the end, the course of empire paintings, The Decline Of The West, Arnold J. Toynbee, future histories, we could see if we were lucid, a great Götterdämmerung moment, the Russian civil war, The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, subsequent Science Fiction, for those who haven’t yet read the book…, the most disliked and most liked book, what kind of a novel is this?, an epic poem crossed with a lyric poem, erroneous expectations, feel better about your fishwife and your step children, back to Lovecraft, a writer of ideas, Odd John and Sirius are more like regular novels, Jack London’s Star Rover, more swords fewer wives, Frank Herbert, God Emperor Of Dune, when you frame it that way…, Accelerando by Charles Stross, full time IT professionals writing SF, Ted Chiang and Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang can do anything, lapidary, Jorges Luis Borges wrote an introduction for Star Marker, A Story Between Jest and Earnest, Love and Discord.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #318 – READALONG: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

May 25, 2015 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #318 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Bryan Alexander, and Fred Himebaugh talk about The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Talked about on today’s show:
1915, Blackwood’s Magazine, a propaganda novel, the propaganda ministry, pro-empire, Buchan’s later job, Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, the Orson Welles adaptation, Mercury Theater, Welles’ propaganda pieces, Nazis invading Canada (Nazi Eyes On Canada), ultima thule, if Operation Sea Lion had worked…, Nazis in Antarctica, Kerguelen Islands, Isle de Crozet, the coolest island ever, Jules Verne, why does our hero go to Scotland?, veldcraft, Greenmantle, Richard Hannay, the comic, Brian thought it was a riot, a brisk read, elegant prose, the BBC Radio documentary on John Buchan, judging everything, “subjective”, coincidences, sooo convienient, the human civilization, The Riddle Of The Sands by Erskine Childers, another sneaky German plot, the Patrick O’Brian books, the invasion novel genre, mining British harbours, u-boats, a shocking incident, Scapa Flow, Winston Churchill, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household is the WWII version of The Thirty-Nine Steps, Constantine Karolides, war was inevitable, popular in the trenches?, Hannay eats well on the run, cliffhangers, Adrian Praetzelis, a semi-bald archaeologist, Jesse’s dream theory, tired of London …. not enough exercise … lo and behold a murder plot… sleep and dream and wake, a Freudian sense of everything being really nearby, the climax became surreal, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?‘s fake police station, how to deal with those in between, The Prisoner Of Zenda, “honestly this is impossible”, boys own adventure, James Bond, Dracula, how do these things work in detail, I’m pretty good with disguise, a sign of good writing, villain to do lists, don’t lock the hero in a room filled with explosives, act like you belong there, the roadman scenes, the milkman was a precedent, disguise as psychology, ridiculous of imposture, the speaker at the liberal candidates meetings scene, Australia or free-trade, Asquith, Liberals, free-trade within the empire, as satisfying as a mortician, the eloquence of an emigration agent, a ripping speech Twizden, Hammond, something that always changes is the meaning of the title, the Black Stone (Schwartz Stein), when you’re Lord Tweedsmuir…, Jonathan Harker, ordinance survey maps, the corridors of power, having the power of the British Empire at your back, the reward, doubt about British command, yesterday 100 years ago, the Gallipoli campaign, unilateral disarmament, the secret pact, the French are hyper-competent, playing along, just go over the top, your reward is to go to the Western Front, Greenmantle is the direct sequel, the supremely confident at veldcraft, the Germans had found a Muslim prophet, Islam as a powder-keg, the Mesopotamian campaign, a very personal battle while armies clash, a secret history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Duelists by Joseph Conrad, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, The Red Panda Adventures by Gregg Taylor, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Captain Canuck, Declare by Tim Powers, Kim Philby, Brian’s WWI kick, the Eastern front (Turkey vs. Russia), Duel For Kilimanjaro: Africa 1914-1918, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the opening antisemitism (an international banking conspiracy) is just a smokescreen, crazy conspiracy theories, you only believe the unbelievable tale, a wink to the audience, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The United States Of Paranoia by Jesse Walker, the “stab in the back theory”, conspiracies, the Black Hand, seeing the novel in its context, period magazines, stepping into a time machine, having perspective, don’t have secret treaties with France, a landward in Asia, The DaVinci Code, The Grove of Ashtaroth, the Canaanite goddess, Rhodesia, clearing of the land, a weird fiction version of colonialism, Buchan wrote 101 books, Witch Wood (BBC Radio drama), big in to Buchan, Huntingtower, Mr Standfast, The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot, Lovecraft’s parody “Wastepaper”, a pre-modern guy, unthinking ideas, a moral victory over the enemy, panache or élan, Memory Hold-the-Door by John Buchan, Canada’s current Governor General (David Johnston), Hillary Clinton’s autobiography, “chloroform in print”, Mark Twain, Fred’s novel is in beta (The Devil’s Dictum), wait fifty years and read the Wikipedia entry, our assessment of things, Shakespeare was too sad or too gory, why teach Julius Caesar? because it has no sex, the Hugos blew up, Ancillary Justice, changing the markets, Bowdlerizing the past, The Tempest, classic science fiction info dump, Miranda is falling asleep, Mr Jim Moon’s take on The Thirty-Nine Steps, the mystery run-around, the Jason Bourne films, stalking on-the-run travelogue format, Ian Fleming, Dennis Wheatley, a British form of pulp, adaptations, North By Northwest, the 2008 TV adaptation the u-boat in a loch, Alfred Hitchock, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Ring, the lack of women, adding women, shoveling women into adaptations, it’s all for Fred’s mom, there’s a gun in the pram, Hannay has an afro in the 1978 adaptation, the ministry of espionage, Mr Memory, the comics adaptation, a bridge to far, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, with access to itching powder…, expansive imagination, in the Twilight books the heroine is a complete cipher, WWI books, WWII books, Armed Forces Editions, the post war interest in H.P. Lovecraft, Jack Vance in the South Pacific.

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan - First Edition
John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Going Solo by Roald Dahl

January 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Going SoloGoing Solo
By Roald Dahl; Narrated by Dan Stevens
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 26 September 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours, 38 minutes

Themes: / memoir / World War II / RAF / colonialism / growing up / snakes /

Publisher summary:

Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl’s exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures. Told with the same irresistible appeal that has made Roald Dahl one of the world’s best-loved writers, Going Solo brings you directly into the action and into the mind of this fascinating man.

Going Solo is the gripping autobiographical follow-up to Roald Dahl’s Boy. Whereas Boy tells the story of Dahl’s childhood, this speaks of his time in Africa before the war began, and relays his participation in the RAF. Whereas Boy was an odd concoction of heartwarming sadness that kept me smiling throughout its duration, Going Solo is less amusing and more riveting as we, through Dahl’s eyes, witnessed death.

Dahl doesn’t squander his words. He draws vivid images with powerful verbs and bright adjectives. His sparing prose paints these vignettes so true that we squint for the dust, smell the oily flames, and feel the wind pressing us back.

Dan Stevens narrates this wonderful production from Penguin Audio. Stevens, as he did in Boy, becomes the voice of Roald Dahl. Both this production and the reading of Dan Stevens are beyond improvement. Thank you Penguin Audio, and thank you Dan Stevens.

I’m left feeling a profound sense of wonder. I was constantly forced to remind myself “this is true,” “this is not fiction.” We really do see an African lion carry off the cook’s wife. We really do see the illogical and stubborn face of war. I could go on and on. I could try to tell you how much this book deserves your attention. I could try and relate all the wondrous encounters with snakes or Dahl’s solitary conversation with giraffes. But at this point, you have a good sense as to whether you will or won’t read this. I hope you do. I hope you start with Boy and continue with Going Solo.

This may not be as incredible as Boy, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be. Our childhood is a time separated from adulthood, and should retain a special magic free of weighty responsibility. Oh! And you don’t need me to point out the obvious metaphor in “Going Solo” as it pertains to both flight and life, right? Good, I knew you caught that.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Next Page »