Talked about on today’s show:
1993, a sequel to a 1974 novel, a long digression, Protector, where does Larry Niven end and Jerry Pournelle begin?, Larry Niven is the aliens, Jerry Pournelle was the humans and the military, what’s happening?, too many battles, a secret tramline, plot beats, The Mote In Gods Eye is more muscular, a second first contact, the empire is slipping, privileges vs. responsibilities, doing duty, they were shinier, WWII, the least interesting duty ever, graft, echo, the circular spiral of the Moties and the parallels with the human empire, the only difference between the Moties and the men is the differences, codicil to Horace Bury’s will, Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, too many space battles, a spacesuit full of watchmakers, kill them with fire, snow ghost, space Mormons, Reflex, A Spaceship For King David by Jerry Pournelle, the Langston field, read the Wikipedia entries before reading the books, a quasi-magic force-field, handwavium, wormhole subways gets stuff done, Babylon 5, He Fell Into A Dark Hole, kinda-sorta, feel and see the Niven Pournelle overlaps, the Janissaries novels, they’re gonna run out bullets soon, murderous centaurs, Inferno, Lucifer’s Hammer, it is interesting, a 70s disaster novel, Oath Of Fealty, Footfall, Legacy Of Herot, Fallen Angels, the Prometheus Award, anti-environmentalist, The Burning City, the Magic Goes Away universe, hit by the Niven and Pournelle hammer, Escape From Hell, sequels,
Jesse’s laws of sequels: The First Law: The second law is a sequel, and thus unneeded.
health problems, who named a planet Sauron?, too obvious, super-soldiers, military SF, war porn with laser guns, it doesn’t change the battlefield, first person shooter games, the whole point of technology is it changes things, dinosaurs, having done The Lord Of The Rings, a 2 cassette abridgement of The Gripping Hand, coffee, mispronunciations, pooping all over this book, Julie Davis, ruined the first book?, a visit to Mote Prime was missing, asteroid civilizations, the midshipman are a dead end, that’s cool!, birth control pills, the guy who invented a condom, Crazy Eddie, lifespan, tragic fatalism, bottled up, the explanation for super-conservative people, I got mine jack, it’s a fools errand…, all boondoggle, many such, 18 different levels of policing, the weed police (bylaw enforcement), just make a new agency after every crisis, anti-Greenpeace books, Cloak Of Anarchy, libertarianism is completely nuts, green crunchy granola, into that basket of deplorables, we don’t need roads, gold extraction as a proven technology, dude what are you doing?, greeners, let’s go the other way, nothing Ayn Rand ever wrote was wrong, Bury didn’t leave the bathtub, poor Kevin Renner, culinary adventure, he was the Errol Flynn of space, a girl in every port, breeding Blaines, motie rats, more Niven less Pournelle, the UK title: The Moat Around Murcheson’s Eye, mote vs. moat, more planets, helmsman full speed ahead, Sparta, the geology and topology, no map, good touches, unfair to Dr Pournelle, agricultural land reserve, mountains and islands and mountains, the Okanagan, reserving land for agricultural, the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Coruscant is just the city world (and complete bullshit), the Fleet Of Worlds has four farming planets, almost worth reading just for such touches, why I read Science Fiction, The Mote In God’s Eye was great, the Xindi from Star Trek: Enterprise, everything in TV and movies has to be simpler, the specificity of it, totally cool, you just abstain, progress since the 1970s, lying liars, abandon all orders, in comparison to Protector, it’s all about fate, there’s very little of free will in a motie, an inescapable cycle, going crazy eddy, less well expressed, where’s our stuffed space-marine in the museum?, publisher’s deadline?, they were hot shit in the 1980s, all space battles, families taking over the legacy of their parent’s writings, firmly make this commitment, one and done Dune, use The Gripping Hand of the Protector, focus on the family, free will, Ringworld and The Ringworld Engineers, the Puppeteers, what does this mean when we maximize it?, a second stage, vs., please do not write this book Paul, seeing the world from the master’s perspective, seeing inside their brain, the x-ray laser, the time machine element, the whole idea of crazy eddy is a great idea, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, amazing, or a crazy Bernie, fairy-duster, you must allow the bloat of the military continuously.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1968, science fiction by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner, abridged version, audiobook, repetition of theme, an introductory novel to Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, jam packed with action, one long day, the fake police station, a classic Dick move, how many androids are there in this book?, movies, androids, legitimate slavery, Luba, minority, androids v. slaves, reality of humans, psychological tests, visuals, dialogic science fiction, Wilder Penfield, The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton, mood organ, existential humor, satire, artificial, unbelievable world, endless competition, goat glands, Sydney’s Catalog, the BBC Radio 4 audio drama by Jonathan Holloway & Kerry Shale, parallel characters, undercut truth, an animal theme, religious allusions, Mercer, Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan), lurker, detective story, lack of world descriptions, less striking scenes in the movie, Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, tomb world, fraud corpses, Mercer v. Jesus, lack of introduction in the movie, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the maker, hope of freedom, androids as fiends, humans yet not humans, what is the definition of human?, the question, the title, empathy to androids, Deckard’s predictions, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, predestination, fake things, simulacra, electrically modified ecology, emotional drug, consumerism, The Days of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the vale of reality, the cuckoo clock in Blade Runner, layered symbols, visualizing future technologies, Kayla Williams, unobvious connections, paranoia, suspicion of government, The Exit Door Leads In by Philip K. Dick, unimportance of religious reality, environmental awareness, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, dehumanization in war, androids = inverted human, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, television, The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, podcasting, Metropolis (Fritz Lang), Max Headroom, “Five Minutes Into the Future”, The Red Room by H.P. Lovecraft, haunted media.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Pump Six and Other Stories
By Paolo Bacigalupi; Read by Jonathan Davis, James Chen, and Eileen Stevens
11 CDs – Approx. 13 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: December 1, 2010
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Biopunk / Politics / Society/ Environmentalism / Technology / Food / Death / Thailand / Asia /
The eleven* stories in Pump Six chart the evolution of Paolo Bacigalupi’s work, including the Hugo nominated “Yellow Card Man,” and the Sturgeon Award-winning story “The Calorie Man,” both set in the world of his novel The Windup Girl. This collection also demonstrates the power and reach of the science fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Bacigalupi’s work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.
Let me get the praise out of the way first: Paolo Bacigalupi is an imaginative genius with a message. At times the writing is brilliant. “The Fluted Girl” is excellent, well-written, surely a classic. Every idea in every story is worthy of exploration and consideration and the three narrators are just fine, thanks. His views of dystopia are clever warnings; his ideas endlessly fresh and characters sympathetic. Slow pace is forgivable in his stories, like home-cooked food, worth the wait. James Chen’s reading of the Chinese accents is a great addition to the appropriate stories.
But there are problems. I don’t like having a book of short stories that doesn’t list the names – I shouldn’t have to look on-line for names of the stories and the order in which they appear. I also feel strongly that there is a missing editor. Some of the stories feel as though they are not in final draft version. If I had the print version, my teacher’s red pen would have been in hand marking suggestions for edits. Some information seemed more than unnecessary to the stories (these are short stories after all). It is disappointing that such genius is allowed “out” without polish. Is it possible that the world he created in Pump Six, where literacy has all but disappeared, is actually at its beginning, or did Paolo do it on purpose to see if we are paying attention?
Should you listen to this audiobook? Yes. Brilliant, not perfect, but should definitely not be missed.
*Only ten stories included in the audiobook:
Pocketful Of Dharma • (1999) • novelette • read by James Chen
The Fluted Girl • (2003) • novelette • read by Eileen Stevens
The People Of Sand and Slag • (2004) • novelette • read by James Chen
The Pasho • (2004) • novelette • read by Jonathan Davis
The Calorie Man • [The Windup Universe] • (2005) • novelette • read by Jonathan Davis
The Tamarisk Hunter • (2006) • short story • read by Jonathan Davis
Pop Squad • (2006) • novelette • read by Jonathan Davis
Yellow Card Man • [The Windup Universe] • (2006) • novelette • read by James Chen
Softer • (2007) • short story • read by James Chen
Pump Six • (2008) • novelette • read by Jonathan Davis
Posted by Elaine Willis
Spartan Youth Radio (a Northern Ontario high school radio station) has an interview with Margaret Atwood. Reporter Madeline Lemire talked to Atwood during her book tour for The Year Of The Flood. In the interview Atwood talks about her novel, moon landing conspiracy theories, biotechnology, religion, environmentalism, coffee, twitter and “the future of novels.”
I always thought Margaret Atwood’s position on ‘not being a Science Fiction writer’ had some merit. She’s never been all that interested in science. After listening to Atwood explain her position on the moon landings being fake (she thinks that they were) I have to agree she’s definitely not all that interested in science. I shake my head at your smug oleaginousness Margaret Atwood. You are a history denier. The moon landings were not fake. We did them, they were done.
Here’s the interview |MP3|
Our review of The Year Of The Flood |READ OUR REVIEW|!
Here’s a video featuring a multi-performer “dramatic reading” from The Year Of The Flood:
Aren’t you glad Atwood doesn’t narrate her own audiobooks?
[via the Digital Copyright Canada blog]
Posted by Jesse Willis
The Year Of The Flood
By Margaret Atwood; Read by Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall
11 CDs – Approx. 14 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: September 22, 2009
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Disaster / Environmentalism / Environmental Disaster / Ecology / Planetary Ecology / Religion / Genetic Engineering / Sex / Activism / Genetics /
The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power. The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers . . .Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can’t stay locked away . . .By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year Of The Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.
Margaret Atwood’s book The Year Of The Flood spans several years, before, after and during the waterless flood which is a plague that affects only humans. There are three readers, Bernadette Dunne, Katie MacNichol and Mark Bramhall. Throughout the eleven discs (14 hours), I enjoyed listening to the women, and began to dread the onset of the male reader. He was certainly professional. Was it his character, Adam One, a religious cult leader of God’s Gardeners? Was it the inevitable sermon he would read in a church-appropriate voice? Or was it the hymns, written by Atwood and set to “original” music that would have me engaging in positive procrastination in order to avoid finishing this audiobook.
The loveliest parts of the book take place from the point of view of Ren, a child in God’s Garden. The religion is a logical outcome for a near future on Earth following environmental disasters not too difficult to imagine. Technologies we toy with today lead to some A Clockwork Orange style vocabulary. Words such as “garboil” (a kind of petroleum made from trash) lend a frighteningly vital immersion into this eco-nightmare. Other wonderful vocabulary delights come through the genetic alterations of food and creature such as soydines and bugs with little smiley faces engineered thereon so thoughts of squishing them would be repugnant. The Gardeners have a host of saints to celebrate, showing Atwood’s ability to relate some important environmentalists and peaceniks to her tale including Saint Rachel Carson, Saint David Suzuki and Saint Mahatma Gandhi.
The main female characters, Ren and Toby, both fully developed, are compelling. Throughout the story, one is interested in them as human beings, in their suffering, in their losses, in their desires. Despite the time shifts, the readers manage to keep the characters believable; one is lost in the story (as one should be!) until the final disc. Maybe Atwood can’t write optimistic endings. With all the violence, sadistic sex and death in the world of the Gardeners who are staunch vegetarians who don’t even kill the insects that invade their gardens; with spray guns, layabout body parts and a world of human-pig hybrids conducting funerals, the last disc felt wrong. Ren’s character becomes childish. Toby becomes a murderous cold-blooded killer and then suddenly has another personality shift. The only character to remain true is the one-dimensional ADAM ONE. I was strung along on the brilliant imagination, left flat on story line, and confused in the end by the characters I thought I liked.
Am I waiting for that third expected book in a TRILOGY featuring some of these characters? My interest in Atwood’s “exfernal” world is now lukewarm.
Posted by Elaine Willis
Ecotopia – An Audio Novel
By Ernest Callenbach, Read by Ernest Callenbach and Edwin Newman
2 cassettes – 3 hours [UNABRIDGED AUDIO ADAPTATION]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Date Published: April 1990 – Out of Print
Themes: Science Fiction / Utopias / Environmentalism / Ecology /
Dateline — the early 21st Century. The nation of Ecotopia — made up of what was once Washington, Oregon and Northern California — has been independent of the United States for 20 years. Now, for the first time since its secession, this mysterious society is allowing an outsider to enter its borders and report on its way of life.
William Weston is a journalist from the eastern United States, the first person to be granted permission to enter Ecotopia since its breakaway from the rest of the USA 20 years earlier. The news reports he transmits from Ecotopia describe the strange customs, practices and beliefs of the Ecotopians. Meanwhile, his personal journal doesn’t try to remain objective as he comes to terms with his personal response to this strange new society.
Ecotopia is less a novel than it is an extended essay on how we could live if we would just all become environmentalists. The basic premise is simply an environmentalist version of Sir Thomas More’s literary classic Utopia. While listening to the story I never once got lost in the tale. I was always aware that this was directly inspired by More’s famous work – heck, even the title jars the suspension of disbelief, its like naming the first moon colony “Moonbase Alpha” and then expecting us all to take it seriously. But Ecotopia isn’t exactly a modern retelling of More’s work. Unlike his utopia, Ecotopia is earnest, real earnest – and in a way only a true environmentalist or an evangelical vegetarian can be. But don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story and liked a lot of the ideas in it. But the story is a complete daydream, with no chance of it ever happening, at least any sort of revolutionary way as Callenbach has it. I shouldn’t overstate the flaws. Ecotopia was written in 1975, and here nearly three decades later a significant portion of the population has adopted at least some of the mindset set out in the novel.
I must tell you I’m no true-believing granola-cruncher myself, but I concede that much of the novel has great power and is persuasive. Ecotopians enjoy 20-hour work weeks, have a stake in the product of their labor and live in a society that has abolished patriarchy. The greatest criticism that I can have against the story is that it’s completely unrealistic – it ain’t gonna happen, not like he’s written it. Now normally this wouldn’t be an issue at all. Many fantasy novels are set in worlds which are absolutely physically impossible, but nobody says “elves don’t exist so I can’t accept the story”, but in this case I think the criticism is apt. Ecotopia isn’t fantasy fiction, it’s utopian fiction – and the charge of implausibility is much much stickier when it comes to utopian stories especially when they’re earnest. Dystopian tales on the other hand, like George Orwell’s 1984 need not be plausible. They are vaccinations against future problems. By taking our modern moral and technological problems to an extreme in utopian/dystopia stories like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day we are immersed in a complex vision of the problems and benefits such a society would have. Utopian dystopias demonstrate how good ideas can be ruined by unforeseen consequences and how taking some of the bad with the good might not be such a bad thing. But straight earnest utopian literature has to be laid out in such a way as to explain how we get there from here. Author Ernest Callenbach doesn’t do that. He doesn’t even wave his hands or use a throwaway excuse, and that shortcoming is a huge hurdle. All his characters are true believers, no one rails against the obvious implausibility of it all, so it is we, the listener who must. In Kim Stanley Robinson’s utopian novel Pacific Edge (1988), for example, a similar ecological balanced society is pondered, but it manages to explain how the self same human nature that we have in a consumer mad society like ours can also become an ecological utopia and it does it in a much more plausible and immersive fashion.
Callenbach himself narrates Ecotopia with help from Edwin Newman, they take turns reading the first person account of William Weston’s journey through Ecotopia and the dispatched news reports respectively. Both do very competent work presenting the story and have pleasant reading voices. The original cover art is attractive, the packaging adequate. Overall, this is a good package but not exceptional. Worth a listen but by no means a classic.