Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding April-July 1953, 1954, interviews, an expected book, the flyers, up the slope, how Larry Niven borrowed some of this, Meskalanite co-travelers, nothing this heavy, a hard book to read?, stopping to do math, that’s the game, “the game”, an intellectual exercise, the essay: Whilygig World, starting with the world, we’re in a much more character driven era of Science Fiction, a story will emerge, hard SF is out of fashion, Analog is the torchbearer for hard SF, the field has shifted, the post-Campbell era, Prisoners Of Gravity, a dying Frankenstein, an interview with Hal Clement, Benford and such, a TVO thing, Teddog, somewhere in Toronto, thanks Prisoners Of Gravity, much more like a YouTube show than anything on television at that time, a pretty clever trick, Commander Rick, Rick Green, Enrico Gruen, pirate broadcasts, why aliens are in humanoid form, Daniel Richler, the opposite and appropriate angle, a zany talking head show, trying to change the world through Science Fiction, that’s Kim Stanley Robinson, hey that’s Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison, Isaac Asimov, Garth Ennis, Neil Gaiman, escaping the mundane reality of this show, Rick is the humans looking down on the Earth, the people who don’t understand the shape of their world properly, an elongated sphere, the conquistadors landing on the shore, first contact stories, juiced up in Astounding, what about the “prime directive”?, a 2000-year crash course in science, a pirate!, just to get to this probe, uplift, L. Sprague de Camp’s stories set on Krishna, how to overcome problems, pirates of the galaxy!, our worlds are too hot for them, this is the kind of book you’re reading, a creative commons license before there was such a thing, methane seas, Titan’s methane seas, Saturn, TV Tropes, the first novel set on a world outside the solar system that actually is a planet, exoplanets, first exoplanet discovered during WWII, an exercise in answering that question, rafts instead of one big keel, “worldbuilding”, a great novel with a crappy story, basic, heavy handed, damn man, hat’s off, afraid of things above your head, biology, why intelligence would develop, a minimal ecosystem, physics vignettes, so much against what people are reading science fiction for now, The Fifth Season, wouldn’t it be cool if, forcing it in the other way, showing all the implications, the rules, as early as possible, “I always feel cheated when…”, we get a false picture of Science Fiction because of Astounding, the conventions, the premiere magazing, Horace Gold’s Galaxy, the gold standard, game fiction, Sherlock Holmes fiction, you’re a bad writer if you cheat the reader, almost nobody plays this game, so sexist and racist, even when he does a fantasy novel it’s hard, The Fifth Season, a cost to using a magic system, I’m starting with this crazy premise, Barlenon vs. Dondragmir, not one girl in the book!, what about your sex lives?, a million sailors frozen at the bottom of the sea, at an extreme of hard SF, the window of science fiction, shifted in other ways, a New England Yankee trader, building trade routes, a relatable mindset, Lackland, amazingly human, Star Trek aliens, he made them Hal Clements, looking at the Larry Niven and Hal Clement affect, emotionally oblate, the outer edges, the peak of characterization: “I couldn’t quite nip it.”, quick-witted students, Cortez, the natives should have a lot of their own shit going on, wrapped up in their own problems, a smooth and peaceful first contact, in real life when first contact happens bad things usually happen, it depends on who is coming, the gravity of this mission, the cost, in Chapter 19, the character names, in the pre-negotiations, Tolkien does the same thing (but with language), a richer tapestry, that’s not what this is for, the sequel: Starlight, all the little touches, the Bree is steering itself, how glaciers work, lubrication, steering glaciers, friction, when friction is an important part of a book, Douglas Adams’ game vs. the rules of chess, a good analogy, PhDs, genius, fostering reading activity, comicon, the importance of having ideas at the forefront, racism, intelligence, first contact, Asimov, sitting around talking about his story with Isaac Asimov, “Pancake In The Sky” and “Gravy Planet”, a pleasant evening spent talking materials science, an acquired taste, the great game, prime directives, not all historical first contacts, first contact between the Americans and the Japanese (1792), angry sticks, pre-admiral Perry, genocide in Central and South America, overturning governments, a more modest foreign policy, the history of British Columbia, super-peaceful, residential schools, land theft, first contact need not be terrible, the rock rollers, the spear throwers, never pay tolls again, a benevolent scientific dictator, Star Trek as a medicine for American imperialism, sharing knowledge, Jerry Pournelle’s Empire Of Man series, a daisy chain of influence, Needle, a peaceful alien lifeform that can live inside a human body, Jinx (Larry Niven), World Of Pattavs, Neutron Star, a game of gravity, General Products Hull #1, Beowulf Shaeffer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, spagettification, Inconstant Moon, a love story about the moon, the reflected light of a nova (or a massive solar flare), it’s only the apocalypse, I’ll lasso the moon for you, an Adam and Eve sort of thing, What Can You Say About Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?, Man Of Steel, Woman Of Kleenex, Kryptonian refugees, Superdog
Posted by Jesse Willis
By John Sandford and Ctein; Narrated by Eric Conger
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 6 October 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours, 35 minutes
Themes: / spaceship / aliens / first contact / thriller /
For fans of The Martian, an extraordinary new thriller of the future from number-one New York Times best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Sandford and internationally known photo-artist and science fiction aficionado Ctein.
Over the course of 37 books, John Sandford has proven time and again his unmatchable talents for electrifying plots, rich characters, sly wit, and razor-sharp dialogue. Now, in collaboration with Ctein, he proves it all once more in a stunning new thriller, a story as audacious as it is deeply satisfying.
The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope – something is approaching Saturn and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate. Spaceships do.
A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: Whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out.
The race is on, and a remarkable adventure begins – an epic tale of courage, treachery, resourcefulness, secrets, surprises, and astonishing human and technological discovery, as the members of a hastily thrown-together crew find their strength and wits tested against adversaries both of this Earth and beyond. What happens is nothing like you expect – and everything you could want from one of the world’s greatest masters of suspense.
You will want to love this book. And it’s easy to understand why. There’s a space race to Saturn, the promise of cool alien tech, and a whole mess of us versus them as China and America reach for the stars (sorry, but the pun had to be). The writing and story are solid. They don’t break new ground, but the read is fun, and if you experience disappointment, it’ll be due to what isn’t here rather than what is here. This is to say, you will look up after reading/listening and want more as opposed to wanting less. You will, in the end, like this book.
I wanted more character development. This could have occurred in a longer story, but as it is, the narrative feels too hurried. Yes, pacing in thrillers is essential, but this story would have benefited with more attention to character and less use of political stereotypes.
If you’re in the market for a fun and fast-paced space thriller that teases you with alien technology, I’m pretty confident you’ll enjoy what Saturn Run offers. In the author’s note, it calls attention to the desire to stay as near to science as possible while projecting technology into the year 2066. And so for those of you who enjoy hard science with respect to velocity and gravity, I think you might appreciate the science presented. I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know if the technical specs discussed for one of the spaceship’s engines are accurate, but they are intriguing.
Eric Conger narrates the audiobook. Conger does a fantastic job at reading and staying out of story’s way. I highly recommend the audiobook.
The first half of this book promises more than the second half delivers. And since the fun factor is slightly more than the disappointment factor, I leave feeling mildly amused and entertained.
Posted by Casey Hampton.
A very good reading of one of H.G. Wells’ long neglected stories, In The Abyss, is now available from LibriVox. James Christopher narrates this pioneering tale of first contact with a submarine civilization and he does it with the skill that comes from more than five years of contributions to LibriVox!
Those who’ve read H.P. Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth will appreciate the Well’s description of what sounds like Deep Ones:
“Two large and protruding eyes projected from sockets in chameleon fashion, and it had a broad reptilian mouth with horny lips beneath its little nostrils. In the position of the ears were two huge gill-covers, and out of these floated a branching tree of coralline filaments, almost like the tree-like gills that very young rays and sharks possess. But the humanity of the face was not the most extraordinary thing about the creature. It was a biped; its almost globular body was poised on a tripod of two frog-like legs and a long, thick tail, and its fore limbs, which grotesquely caricatured the human hand, much as a frog’s do, carried a long shaft of bone, tipped with copper. The colour of the creature was variegated; its head, hands, and legs were purple; but its skin, which hung loosely upon it, even as clothes might do, was a phosphorescent grey.”
In The Abyss
By H.G. Wells; Read by James Christopher
1 |MP3| – Approx. 36 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 3, 2013
“To this he was being towed, as a balloon might be towed by men out of the open country into a town. He approached it very slowly, and very slowly the dim irradiation was gathered together into more definite shapes.” First published in Pearson’s Magazine, August 1, 1896.
Here’s an illustration from an early French translation:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Here’s part of Phil Chenevert’s introduction to his latest LibriVox narration, a novelette by H.Beam Piper called Naudsonce:
The joint Space Navy-Colonial Office expedition was looking for new planets suitable for colonization; they had been out, now, for four years, which was close to maximum for an exploring expedition. They had entered eleven systems, and made landings on eight planets. Three had been reasonably close to Terra-type but were all disqualified by terrible animals or warlike inhabitants. Now, finally here was an ideal world; their last chance before returning in disgrace. Now the only thing was to get an agreement from the local king or whatever to the colonization. Easy, right? Well first, you’ve got to talk to them …… and there the trouble starts.
By H. Beam Piper; Read by Phil Chenevert
5 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 56 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: November 18, 2012
First published in Analog, January 1962.
Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7235
iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|
Illustrations by Leo Morey:
[Thanks also to DaveC]
Posted by Jesse Willis
A first contact story and a mystery story! When a massive alien, the size of a city, enters Earth’s atmosphere fighter jets are scrambled to meet it. The alien seems to be in search of something – but what it is won’t turn out to be what we expect. Here’s part of the description of the alien:
She had a head, drawn back most of the time into the bloated mass of the body but thrusting forward now and then on a short neck not more than three hundred feet in length. When she did that the blunt turtle-like head could be observed, the gaping, toothless, suffering mouth from which the thunder came, and the soft-shining purple eyes that searched the ground but found nothing answering her need. The skin-color was mud-brown with some dull iridescence and many peculiar marks resembling weals or blisters. Along the belly some observers saw half a mile of paired protuberances that looked like teats.
The Good Neighbors
By Edgar Pangborn; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: February 21, 2009
You can’t blame an alien for a little inconvenience—as long as he makes up for it! First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1960.
And here is a |PDF| made from the original publication in Galaxy.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Aliens, first contact, alien aliens, Theodore Sturgeon, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, evil genius inventor, a society in a bottle, how do we figure out which information is true, L.J. Ganser, “Fyunch(click)”, space empire, the Horse-Head Nebula, the depth of the alien alienness, who has free will in The Mote In God’s Eye?, “there was little of free will in an engineer”, “humans have free will – we know that”, Ron Paul has gone Crazy Eddie, Outies, The Gripping Hand, Renner is an independent minded contrarian, the CoDominium Series, “an American eagle holding the hammer and sickle”, MacArthur and Lenin, brownies, espionage, Sally never questioned her Fyunch(click), the characters are peripheral to the novel’s power, Niven and Pournelle arguing with each other, perfunctory romance, The Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, Treehouse of Horror VII, god games, Populous, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Master Of Orion, Science Fiction is not really about the future it’s about the present (except for Niven/Pournelle books), Protector by Larry Niven (in which humans are infantilized aliens), “only bad girls take birth control”, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Mote In God’s Eye is a yellow peril story!, Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle, gunboat diplomacy, “China has fake Apple stores”, the exotic East, “I asked myself … would that be so bad?”, “they’re not evil, they’re just our enemies”, Declare by Tim Powers, Soviet goals, “every place should be communist”, Russia vs. The USA, an unsustainable quarantine, this book is really about “the pill”, overpopulation, Malthus, Moties are people too (at least most of them are), a non-ideological clash of species, what “sentient” means, Eric S. Rabkin, do they have souls?, is it “scientifically proven” that an untrained kitten can never hunt?, “I don’t eat monkeys”, “nuclear war is the continuation of evolution by other means”, the long pig, is there an unused Chekov’s Gun in this book?, ozone smells good, imitations and perma-smiles, anti-yellow peril blinders, John W. Campbell, “give me an alien that thinks as well as a man but not like a man”, “if only the humans wee more human.”
Posted by Jesse Willis