The SFFaudio Podcast #369 – Jesse and Juliane Kunzendorf discuss The First Men In The Moon by H.G. Wells.
Talked about on today’s show:
1900, 1901, dystopia, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, The Sleeper Awakes, “on the moon” vs. “in the moon”, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the 1964 movie, the framing story, a multinational crew, technical issues, the 2010 adaptation, putting a frame around the story, a Moon Landing fair, a grumpy old man, a kinematoscope, the “real” first Moon landing, Bedford, differences, no plants on the Moon, drugged up, introducing a woman, men acting stupid, a comedy, how Bedford and Cavor meet, passive aggressive, the three workman, almost comedic, a sinister undertone, The War Of The Worlds in reverse, a disappointing ending for the movie, a really strong ending for the book, to make it a family movie, light and amusing vs sinister and serious, coming from Elizabeth Moon’s Trading In Danger, Wells’ language, The Invisible Man, explaining some scientific principle, analogies, maybe there is something like cavorite, the detection of gravitational waves, glass, bromine solution, transparent to gravity, a dodecahedron, a glass sphere, louvered blinds of cavorite, at the bottom of an ocean of air, shooting all of the Earth’s atmosphere into space, genius, genius!, flying to the Moon, the spaceship as an eye, driving school, always look where you want to go, how eyes work, why the movies have been forgotten, the last transmission, the 2010 movie ending, symmetry, what Wells is saying with this book, the last word, ambiguity, the loneliness of humanity, lost, he’s not his identity, what Cavor is doing in those transmissions, utopia/dystopia, wrestling with our purpose as human beings on the surface of the Earth, one definition of work: activity on or near the Earth’s surface, astronauts and miners, the great mind, hive mind, so much Science Fiction afterwards, how life works, ants, on the topic of war, Bedford is the classical monster character, The Country Of The Blind, crystallized in the 1964 movie, hiding from his debts, Blake, once you start suspecting this guy, some of that story is true, putting a good spin on it, subtlety, gold chains, the Selenite’s head broke just like an eggshell, turning the moon into another colony, the whole history of humanity, fighting over useless things, a mirror in front of humanity, the Native Americans, scientific naivety, are we gonna reform our ways?, WWI, giving ultimatums, honor, respect to warriors, (in vino veritas), the surplus population, later SF, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the latter half of this book, the brain, the dictionary, the one who likes to draw, one who is really good at metaphor, off in lala land thinking lala thoughts, the communication specialist, the one who knows all the stuff, the illustrations, the alphas the betas the gammas the deltas, the three worker specialists, the joiner, the earth worker, the metal worker, the name Cavor – caver?, it sounds good, caver vs. cavor, the Lord Bedford, claiming the Moon for the Queen, the BBC audio drama, a very serious book, the Mooncalves, the word “mooncalf”, “abortive fetus of a cow or other farm animal”, all sorts of resonances, a scene that makes vegetarians, the reading material that Bedord brings: TidBits (magazine), selling fishknives, Cavor brings the complete works of William Shakespeare, another connection to Brave New World, The Tempest, a story of colonialism, the only native occupant is Caliban, he’s funny and wise in his untutored way, one of the insults that Prospero throws at , the title of Brave New World, an ironic usage, the one slip-up that Wells mad that Huxley picks-up, Bedford’s play, it would work as a play, act 1, act 2, act 3, the flight as an interlude, trying to find the sphere again, two hours left to go?, another interlude in space, an epilogue, how you would stage it, the gold that he brings back from the Moon, living in Italy, published in The Strand, very meta, you can really see the staging, Cosmopolitan, November 1900 first then The Strand, December 1900, serialized as he wrote it, the end of the Cosmopolitan serialization, an elaborate suicide, a dream, Moon gold, a most extraordinary communication, alive in the Moon, is he hoaxing me here?, The War Of The World radio drama, how the spaceship disappears, the boy who disappears into space, Bedford In Infinite Space, at least 10 days, something weird about time, Einsteinian relativity, time works differently when you travel, criticism of this book, C.S. Lewis’ objections, one world government, new world order, a fascistic totalitarian society, lets look at this, other writers do their own version, a sign of a good book, taking the essence, other interpretations, audio drama as a soporific, two dreams, dreaming the ending of The First Men In The Moon, that’s exactly what happened!, my unconscious or semi-consciousness heard it, such a great ending, left for dead, did Bedford feel guilty for leaving Cavor on the Moon?, not the kind of person to have self-doubts, not very charitable, how it actually went, the best possible spin, this is just the way he is as a human, humans are terrible, his nature, Jesse’s secret, The War Of The Worlds, one of Juliane’s first SF books, the illustrations, reading it with the old serialized magazines, chapter endings, what a great end, did Wells have an influence on the illustrations, how adaptations will always take away the plants on the Moon, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, seeing dinosaurs with skin, a resultant mistake, dinosaurs in popular culture arent shown with feathers, Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, a false picture of the reality, we’ll never be able to get passed this point, daylight savings time, were stuck unable to shift out of a system that doesn’t work, we’re stuck, were stuck with war, when Bedford is completely alone he loses his particular niche, if you zoom out, we’re nothing, what are we that we have to fight each other, we’re all stuck here with gravity, why those interludes are so important to the book.
Posted by Jesse Willis
This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (7 hours 50 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The First Men In The Moon was first serialized in Cosmopolitan, November 1900 to April 1901.
The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
When did Luke record The Man Who Japed?, a spate of Dicks, a good six months, generic knowledge, Dick’s writing is like Jack Kerouac’s, Now Wait For Last Year, Dick’s favorite The Man Who Japed, not Marissa’s favorite The Man Who Japed, post nuclear war, censorship and morality, the three-way war before Earth the Starmen and the Reegs, JJ-180, swimming through time, Eric Sweetscent, Alan Purcell, minor-Dick, it’s a big jape, the novels blend together, classic Dick, Allen’s ambivalence, it feels long for a short book, the corporate stuff, Dick’s women are never “flat” they are either “dumpy or perky”, girls and gals, full present or drugged up there’s always a wife, they love each other, loyal and sweet, home development, something pedantic and yet timely, something you’ve never seen, what’s happening in China at the time, living in a condo…, when I first moved into my conapt, a note under the door, “you have ruined my marriage”, using new found powers to search for nude women, you teach a man how to fish he has sex with that fish, council meetings, gossip, condominium apartments, how do people live together, overpopulation world, his bedroom turns into a kitchen, she’s putting her clothes in the oven, Billenium by J.G. Ballard, Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison, Hokkaido is a radioactive wasteland, Newer York vs. New New York, drugs, how Dick writes the book, undercooked, free will, “it just happened”, a former NHL enforcer, the psychiatrist, memory, A Scanner Darkly, his propaganda job, the juveniles (the robots), “inDickitave”, a society running on fumes, extra-Solar colonies, you don’t want to stand all the way do you?, the big jape, how Dick’s vocab works, the title if it was written today “The Man Who Punked”, the alternate reality, Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime, the consequences here, the ending, the faces of the teenagers, as a narrator, what is Allen seeing in the faces of those teenagers?, Allen was always trying to protect people, immigration to Canada in 1988, how harsh the immigration officials were, skimming off the cream, oh you’re an audiobook narrator… ok, a couple Brit narrators are up in the seed vault in Svalbard, The Prisoner episode “A Change Of Mind”, unmutual, conforming drugs, writhing, adultery can get you kicked out of your lease, Mao as Major Streiter, The Three Body Problem, The Red Violin, juveniles -> Juvenal (the Roman satirist), teenagers as opposed to juveniles, the Cultural Revolution was pushed by kids, everything pulling toward the center, The Americans, the world “soviet” means committee, the cohorts (are kids), how Nazi Germany worked, Nazi youth in The Netherlands, kids acting like little-SS, witch hunts, more American than Dick admits, V, a very soft version, no-death camps, slave labour, nobody watches TV in the colony worlds, the spire and the statue of Major Streiter, Colonel Gaddafi character, General Washington and the Washington Monument, can you imagine state TV making fun of Ronald Regan, humour vs. the dictatorship, every authoritarian government, Mr. Whales is rewarded with another apartment, oomphalos, the center, the more morec you are, anti-morec, in anticipation of the big jape…, Dick japes the reader, active assimilation, the cultural revolution, like evil-BBC, the poll, this is the emperor’s new clothes, Jonathan Swift, it’s something Ronald Regan would do!, if it was good enough for the founding fathers…, if John Adams and the founding fathers were all cannibals, it was a different time, he was really good to his slaves (food), turning it into a joke, society is obsessed with propriety, is this the start of the fall of this society, dystopia, optimistic ending, when the cohorts arrived their reaction was to laugh, “Repent Harlequin!” Said The Tick-Tock Man by Harlan Ellison, like Metropolis, infected with laughter, this happens all the time in SF, science fiction like satire, Dick was going on and on about not being a Marxist, timelessness, a crapsack world, a tiller, The Space Merchants, that’s Madison Avenue taking over society, food isn’t really food anymore, the food is always in quotation marks, simulated “baked Alaskan”, we have all the things he was writing about, an artificial meat, tofu has long been with us, simulant meat, Secret Army, ‘Allo ‘Allo!, this isn’t real coffee, WWII is the really big start of all artificial foods, chicory coffee, after WWII Korea and Japan get Spam, Spam restaurants, Minnesota is the home of Spam, it reminds you of your youth, coming to love the crappy stuff that you have, we come to love the crappy worlds Dick creates, the radioactive island, Hokkaido is full of ideas, where’s the government?, society is just kind of null, not total totalitarianism (bottom up), there isn’t a death in the book, a surprisingly soft dystopia, busy-bodied woman, anything over 20mph is terrifying, milquetoast, The Coming Of The Quantum Cats by Frederik Pohl, a pro-Muslim Christian American theocracy, a prim 38mph, the Harvard Law review (on the Black Market), I The Jury by Mickey Spillane, “I Shot Her In The Uterus”, The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson, Guy de Maupassant, “breasts like two cones of white marble”, James Joyce, $10,000 for Ulysses, the sickness, The Grifters, Donald Westlake, how to advance your career in business by killing people, the mental health planet, an alternate world that’s not real, “but I only have $50!”, the missing 15,000 words, getting stuck in debt is a kind of dystopia, Mavis, taking care of cows, clean activities, soul sucking grinding horrible, the interrogation that happens there…, full of resentment, anonymous accusers, an open marriage, a c-class Dick novel, needs a little more spiced, not fully poached,
It is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant
of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself…
Pathic men that pretend to be moral exemplars are much worse than those who are open about their proclivities.
he’s talking about Republicans, the “wide stance”, puritanism, strider -> Streiter, making choices, that’s what this book is about, just wing it, self-assured hubris, “he’s an idea, not a man”.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny Beta+, Paul (caste unknown), f-minus, double plus, A-, Beta-, 1932, double plus good, a different dystopia, Orwell read Brave New World, the Aldous Huxley radio drama (CBS Radio Workshop), negative utopia, Nineteen-Eighty Four is hella-dystopia, Paul has read Brave New World five times, drugs and sex and happiness, conditioning, programming, society engineered, identifying with Bernard, Helmholtz, the Falkland Islands, Huxley’s introduction to the CBS Radio Dramatization, 200 years (not 600) in the future, why so obsessed with Henry Ford?, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, Christ, Marx, Wood, and Wei, Henry Ford as a political and intellectual force, efficiency, modernization, consumerism, pricing the model-t, absenteeism equals losses, Brave New World‘s society is about production efficiency, the 1998 TV movie, what society really is, no Helmholtz, Henry Foster, Lenina, Peter Gallagher, the 1980 TV movie, 1990s hipsters, the reservation, white trash zone, the outlands of Zardoz with mini-vans, The Children Of Men, Los Angeles, very few deviations in the 1980 TV movie, pushing the Shakespeare connection, whatever happened to Lenina?, a definite weakness, Mustapha Mond gave John Savage the conflict he really wanted, I want to be unhappy, the ultimate political act, the suicide solution, the little boy with the cotton balls in his ears, the hope for reform, the stability of the society, an interesting change, how unstable is the social structure, more soma, more conditioning, A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven, hydrolic empires, John as a catalyst, society returns to normalcy, soma rations forever, freethinkers are sent to outlying islands, an Omni magazine story about dissident clones being killed again and again, Edge Of Tomorrow (2014), cloning novels, this is the cloning novel, “it’s clones all the way down”, the caste-system tells us this is a dystopia, seeing the world from the alpha point of view, betas vs. alphas, are betas autistic?, the 1998 adaptation, intelligent, high-producing, and efficient, mentored and disciples, sex-slaves and baby-makers, good tech, the Malthusian belt, helicopters, WWII, a proto-flying car, their Model-T, the sign of the T, “switching on the synthetic music”, the visual medium, the character names, Bernard Marx probably isn’t named after Groucho Marx, Bernard is pathetic by the end, George Bernard Shaw, Lenin -> Lenina, Darwin Bonaparte, Mustafa Mond <- Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, so much Shakespeare, the audiobook is a weird experience, an infantilized world, I drink to the greater being, the plot, the scent organ, the feelies, the perfume tap fauceting cologne all day, drinking fountains full of Shasta, a constantly refilled mini-bar, the economy in Brave New World, overturning the soma tables, want what you can have, deltas, epsilons, the purple eyes, Amazon Prime for soma tablets, drone delivery, Lenina’s obsession, chastity means neurasthenia, plenty of pleasant vices, “engaging”, oiling the machine, a male fantasy utopia, women never say no, “promiscuity is a citizen’s duty”, no females above beta (in the book), yellow from lupus, social hierarchy, male dominance, John the Savage is sexist too, a product of Huxley’s time, a flash of semi-nudity, why the book gets banned -> children engaging in erotic play, the downfall of TV movie versions, how the world is, books old ideas and marriage are pornographic, “motherfather!”, “fight!”, “hate!”, everyone comes from a bottle, mother as a dirty word, outed as a father, a shameful thing, Miguel Ferrer was re-engineered as a delta, a Machiavellian character turned into a smiling idiot, Linda’s story, the reaction to her appearance, the Death Center, ice-cream when someone dies, such strong pathos, death brings us phosphorus, the 1998 Linda, Tommykins, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, the first test-tube baby, birth control, freemartins, a sterilization bonus, Brave New World Revisited (is non-fiction), Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, an expanding horrible utopia, growing up in the soviet union what would we think of Brave New World?, power and control, I love Big Brother, rewind ten years, people are drugging themselves up with drugs TV and the internet, a spy-biography, why don’t they care more about the outlying society, communism, when everyone shares the vision, a step to becoming Mustapha Mond, 1984-ish, assimilation has a cost, the island of all alphas, engineered to be in that place, the temptation of the reader is subversive, are we doing this stuff?, I wanna be more like Helmholtz, Marx gets co-opted by Mond, the shit-disturbers become the leaders in This Perfect Day, you have to see it to believe it, look we’re in the future!, a sick enjoyment, no sense that this world can be destroyed, the benefit of social instability, why Shakespeare is still relevant, we have the analogues for kings and merchant princes, the feelies, a cross-between pornography and reality television, Idiocracy (2006), Three Weeks In A Helicopter, farts, one human need, surrogate pregnancy, violent passion surrogate, The Prisoner‘s secret club within a club, more surreal than it is about something, spies be weird, suddenly in dreamland with giant breasts chasing you down the beach, the world is still for men, we’ve done We and Nineteen Eighty Four…
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1970, swearing, watch your “fighting language”, think about things before treatments, like Brave New World‘s soma, the incurables vs. the savages, a stratified society vs. a flattened society, sex once a week, Marxmas and Christmas, the computer shapes little boy Li, the computer trains the society, controlling by giving a semblance of control, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, no friction, top-speed, Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, Bob Wood, Li Wei, Vulcan philosophers, a cross and a sickle instead of a hammer and a sickle, not exactly a Communist utopia/dystopia, a communist takeover of the entire planet, movies and TV shows about Marx every year, no spirituality, Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, did the good guy win in the end?, the rape scene, Rosemary’s baby-daddy is Satan, what will happen after Chip blows everything up?, when Wei is eating, the focus on the food, the high programmers, the turn/plot twist, the gold toilet fixtures, silk clothing, fuck is a nice word, you’re not free, free of aggression, how will they feed everyone, the YouTube video, The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth, the Prometheus Award, books that examine the meaning of freedom, Ayn Rand, four ideologies combined, what they took from Christ, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, Wei addressing the chemotherapists, who is Wood?
Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei,
Led us to this perfect day.
Marx, Wood, Wei and Christ,
All but Wei were sacrificed.
Wood, Wei, Christ and Marx,
Gave us lovely schools and parks.
Wei, Christ, Marx and Wood,
Made us humble, made us good.
body part swapping, improvements in the society, the last injection you get is fatal, you become a net loss to society after a certain point, baby boomers getting older, the diseases of aging, the totalcakes and cokes for lunch, Jenny is baking total cakes for Marxmas!, Li’s spilling a coke on a leaf, eureka!, how he got the idea to avoid treatment, there is no Pepsi, there’s no Dr Pepper, the symbol of a leaf in the shape of a man, Jenny always ignores metaphors, was the grandfather in a secret society?, you don’t forget, ecstasy , athletes and drugs, the influence machine, television as a drug, revisionist history, there’s no NEWS, it’s very North Korea, how did you claim the ticket?, a book about mental illness, replace sickness with sin and the entire novel is about religion, self-reporting, “No, thank uni.”, “they’re all snitches”, the f-word is fight, “everybody loves fucking”, hate is a bad word, objectivism is exactly selfish, selfishness and fear, it’s their Galt’s Gulch, the whole smoking thing, the perks of the programmer class, the fantasy of libertarianism, “you the unrecognized superman”, a dystopia, we’ve got our magic super-power stuff, Atlas Shrugged, reardon metal, people are aliens, men trying to control women bodies, two ambiguously dystopic societies, a powerful book with a lot to think about, more Animal Farm than Nineteen Eighty-Four, We, Brave New World has a boring, stupid and depressing plot (so let’s do a podcast on it!), a neglected novel, Planet Of The Apes, Logan’s Run, Paranoia (the Role Playing Game), THX-1138, The Call Of Cthulhu RPG, the new Paranoia Kickstarter, the book for the blind audiobook, rape in quotation marks, The Matrix, Soylent Green, Gattaca, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Equilibrium, “live in that horrible world”, the women’s names: Anna, Mary, Peace and Yin, if you were living in this world which society would you want to live in or would you overthrow it?, keep getting mad, keep being proactive, aren’t we done talking about it yet?, King’s suicide, your old gray head, the secret sleeper spies, a mental asylum run by the patients, Cuban refugees fleeing Castro, this book is about our world, any ideology you have ought to be thrown to the dirt, the schizophrenia TV focus, Facebook becomes our island, dumping buckets of ice, Ferguson, New York, this book feels alien, the goal of communism, wouldn’t it be interesting if we all were actually equal, father knows best, blowing up airports seems crazy, a hard one, people only want you to think for yourself when it doesn’t effect them, Pierre Boulle.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Themes: / dystopia / unrest / cognitive theory / virtual reality / revolution /
Unemployment has ravaged the U.S. economy. Foreclosures are rampant. People struggle everywhere, exhausted by the collapse that destroyed their lives . . .
Benjamin Cade is an expert in cognition and abstract literature, and before the flatlined economy caught up to him, he earned his living as a university instructor. Now, without income, he joins the millions defaulting on their loans—in his case, the money he borrowed to finance his degrees. But there are consequences.
Using advances in cognitive science and chemical therapy, Ben’s debtors can reclaim their property—his education. The government calls the process “Repossession Therapy,” and it is administered by the Homeland Renewal Project, the desperate program designed to salvage what remains of the ravaged U.S. economy. The data Ben’s repossession will yield is invaluable to those improving the “indexing” technology—a remarkable medical advance that has enabled the effective cure of all mental disorders. By disassembling his mind, doctors will gain the expertise to assist untold millions.
But Ben has no intention of losing his mind without a fight, so he begins teaching in the central park, distributing his knowledge before it’s gone in a race against ignorance. And somewhere in Ben’s confusing takedown, Chimpanzee arrives. Its iconography appears spray-painted and wheat-pasted around town. Young people in rubber chimpanzee masks start massive protests. A new use of the indexing technology shows up in bars across the country. It’s called “chimping” . . . named after the mysterious protest movement, and it uses goggles and electrodes to reverse the curative indexing process, temporarily (recreationally) offering those inclined a mental illness of their own choosing.
As Ben slowly loses himself, the Chimpanzee movement seems to grow. And all fingers point to Ben . . . or maybe the voice that speaks to him every time he uses the chimping rig. As civil unrest grows, and Homeland Security takes an interest, Ben finds himself at the center of a storm that may not even be real. What is Chimpanzee? Who created it? What does it want?
And is there even enough of Ben left to find out?
What I prefer in my dystopia is realism and possibility, that it could happen here, in my lifetime. I read dystopia for the horror, for the thrill. That is the brilliance Darin Bradley brings to his novels, both in Noise and in Chimpanzee. It helps that Chimpanzee takes place in a town an hour from where I live, a place I visit often, particularly the arts district, where quite a bit of the action takes place. The events are very vivid to me, described in that place. They will be vivid to others for different reasons, but basically anyone watching the news in the last few years will feel they know the world of this novel.
The premise of Chimpanzee (see description above) may be even more chilling to those of us working in academia, who have seen the impact of the various economic downturns on expensive liberal arts educations. Now that there are no job guarantees, and no guarantee on the investment made (often by the students through hefty loans), people are starting to question the benefit of the system we have maintained for so long. I hate this conversation, because I work at one of those schools, and depend on it for my livelihood. So did the author, for a while. And that’s where reality and the terror of this possible future start to blur within the novel.
There is a lot in this novel that might feel over the reader’s head. I would encourage people who don’t understand every word from the rhetoric of cognitive theory to press on – treat it like a classic science fiction info dump. Let it wash over you, grasp what you can. You will be in the same place as the students in the story, who also are put into a position of creating their own meaning, applied to their real situations.
There is a concept of virtual reality in this novel that I liked, called chimping, something you can do at a bar with your friends. It becomes an important part of the story in ways I will not give away here.
The audiobook has a story to its making. In the insert, it talks about the initial difficulty Resurrection House had in distributing the audio version. It includes a warning:
“Because some books aren’t meant for sedans on highways. They may have too many voices, or they may have jagged corners that snag plots, or they may have things with no business being in stories… like symbols or formulae or languages we don’t understand. You can listen to them, if you’re ready to pay attention.”
I did not heed the warning and listened to some of this audio production while driving around. The first time I encountered a repossessed memory, the sound used to represent the hole, the deletion, it almost sent me off the road. When I played it at home, my husband jumped out of his skin. It would be remiss not to warn you.
Otherwise, the audio moves back and forth between a radio-play style performance from multiple readers with sound effects and music, and the author’s own narration. I liked the music choices and the sound effects were generally effective. Having sound effects in some parts magnifies the silence of the others. Benjamin Cade spends a lot of time inside his head, and losing what is in his head, so I think that silence is well warranted. It takes some getting used to, but I ended up appreciating it. The author also does a good job delivering his narration in a noirish tone, where short sentences shine.
Posted by Jenny Colvin