Talked about on today’s show:
Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! = 1973 Soylent Green; Seth misattributes A. Lee Martinez’s The Automatic Detective to Harry Harrison; Harry Harrison doesn’t know anything about science, but he’s big on comedy; Robert Sheckley; the novel’s dark tone; J.G. Ballard’s Billenium also focuses on overpopulation; Seth has never seen Soylent Green; Charlton Heston is the science fiction Will Smith of the 1960s and 1970s; Soylent Green is more a sequel to Make Room! Make Room! than an adaptation; horrible people with money living in nice buildings; crapsack; China’s one-child policy; large families in the South; tilapia is the aquatic chicken, freshwater fish from the Nile; the movie has a greater emphasis on global warming; overpopulation as a trending topic in the late 1960s and early 1970s according to Internet Speculative Fiction Database; environmental issues, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, DDT; slightly alternate history in the novel involving Thailand’s invasion of China; refugees comparable to Vietnam boat people; very little science fiction in the novel; resource depletion as a theme in both book and movie; comparison to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach; comparisons to Logan’s Run, which features a “crapsaccharine” future; the bad guy is us; weed crackers; tilapia symbolic of the devolving food chain; modern China is the wild west of capitalism–you can get eggs without egg; wild fish populations like salmon, cod, and walleye dwindling in our own world; the wastefulness of shark fin soup; Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons; on crowded apartments; the positive impact of contraception and birth control; economic prosperity’s ameliorative effect on population growth; hunter-gatherer societies don’t have pharmacies; “abstinence goes against human nature”; RU486; is religion the bad guy in the novel; Peter, the novel’s religious fanatic; you don’t see old people in Hollywood movies anymore; the endless chase for youth; we now live in Logan’s Run; actors and athletes die at 30; Achille’s Choice by Larry Niven; sexism in Soylent Green, women are furniture; difference in tone between the novel and the movie; in the movie, corruption is systemic; on bribing officials in third-world countries; over interpretation; the book as-is isn’t fixable; secrets in movies like The Sixth Sense and Signs; “you can’t get kids to watch old things”; Charlton Heston has bad politics; 1976 Hugo Awards; the shipyards are a throwback to World War II, resemble floating Roman ruins, made of ferroconcrete; there’s not enough war in this novel; stabilizing influence of war in George Orwell’s 1984; Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge; worldwide water shortages; Paolo Bacigalupi’s forthcoming The Water Knife; Robert Bloch’s 1958 This Crowded Earth; Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke on the moon landing; youth culture doesn’t love intelligence; elderly U.S. presidents; Netflix’s Daredevil; Saul is the novel’s most likable character; Andy and Saul, don’t call it a bromance; the movie lacks the book’s humanity; the movie is the cynical Chinatown version of reality; Hollywood used to tackle real-life issues in movies, now all we get is The Day after Tomorrow and 2012; we like John Cusack; Airport 1975 with more Charlton Heston action; the tragedy is that most people don’t recognize parodies; the novel’s resonance with the current unrest in Baltimore; the book and the movie are both good medicine; embrace the silent green–or yellow!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Reading goals and the Reading Envy podcast, spy novels, The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton is a more serious version of James Bond, film version stars Michael Caine, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, SFFaudio Podcast #95 features a discussion with Eric Rabkin about SS-GB by Len Deighton, a Britain-centered, less crazy version of Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Scott on rereading Hyperion (but hasn’t read Fall of Hyperion), the Hyperion audiobook is highly recommended, Wool by Hugh Howey now a graphic novel, Jesse doesn’t like open questions that require him to read more, Kindle Worlds, Mobile Library by David Whitehouse, Bookworm villain from Batman, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister reminiscent of The Prestige, A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan, some synopses are better-written than others, Patricia Highsmith, The Brenda and Effie Mysteries: The Woman in a Black Beehive by Paul Magris especially for audio, The Last Passenger by Manel Loureiro, Aurora CV-01 by Ryk Brown looks to be the perfect Scott book, this podcast features a real phaser, Hellhole by Gina Damico (not to be confused with the Kevin J. Anderson book of the same name), never underestimate evil on a sugar high, Proxima by Stephen Baxter, on how discoveries in astronomy affect science fiction, Kate Wilhelm in Orbit by Kate Wilhelm is a collection of her short stories from ca. 1966-1980 in Orbit anthologies, Scott didn’t “get” Wilhelm’s short story The Planners, SuperEgo by Frank J. Fleming, I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Dexter in spaaaaaaace!, A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is part of the Retrieval Artists universe, first audiobook in the series produced by Scott, the series would make a good TV show, The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi narrated by Will Wheaton, Future Crime by Ben Bova, a collection of short stories, file sharing used to happen by mail, we demand the return of cassettes (not!), #GetOffMyLawn, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson is part of a triptych, an actual utopia, Orange County of the future, Jesse and Scott met Kim Stanley Robinson at WorldCon, no kaiju, Mort(e) by Robert Repine, Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer now available in one package via Audible, “there must be something wrong with it, it’s too popular!”, Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison a.k.a. the book that inspired Soylent Green, Jenny lives on lentils and soybeans, The Deep by Nick Cutter, The Abyss meets The Shining, discussion of The Abyss which is recommended sans the last five minutes, Freedom Club by Saul Garnell, Trigger Warning short story collection by Neil Gaiman, on authors doing test runs or tryout stories to develop an idea, the difference between plotters and pantsers, The Globe: The Science of Discworld II by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen is actually a novel, Jenny debunks the theory that all stories come from an origin, Endsinger by Jay Kristoff, Marked by Sarah Fine, Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series, these books may or may not be kinky–weird kinky, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, David Hasselhoff does the musical, Markheim, a short story by Stevenson.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Beginning it seems in the mid-1970s Dudley Knight, a U.C. Irvine professor of drama, voiced a series called The Graveyard Shift on KPFK, Los Angeles. The purpose was to tell stories of the macabre. His broadcasts aired weekly with shows of variable length (between half and hour and two and a half hours).
Here is a list of broadcast stories, with links to audio when available:
Jan. ??, 1974- The Room In The Tower by E.F. Benson (34 min.)
May. ??, 1977 – Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick (55 min.)
Jun. 08, 1977 – I See A Man Sitting On A Chair And The Chair Is Biting His Leg by Harlan Ellison and Robert Sheckley (57 min.)
Jun. 22, 1977 – It by Theodore Sturgeon (57 min.)
Jun. ??, 1977 – Count Magnus by M.R. James (35 min.)
Jul. 06, 1977 – Children Of The Corn by Stephen King (71 min.)
Aug. 03, 1977 – Compulsory Games by Robert Aickman (56 min.)
Aug. 17, 1977 – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (37 min.)
Aug. 31, 1977 – Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken (46 min.)
Sep. 21, 1977 – The Empty House by Algernon Blackwood (42 min.)
Oct. 19, 1977 – Armaja Das by Joe Haldeman (44 min.)
Nov. 08, 1977 – It Only Comes Out At Night by Dennis Etchison (33 min.)
Dec. 14, 1977 – Couching At The Door by D.K. Broster (59 min.)
Dec. ??, 1977 – The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges (35 min.)
Jan. 18, 1978 – Suspicion by Dorothy L. Sayers (38 min.)
Jan. ??, 1978 – I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (41 min.)
Feb. 01, 1978 – The Gentleman From America by Michael Arlen (48 min.)
Feb. 08, 1978 – Bulkhead by Theodore Sturgeon (75 min.)
Feb. 22, 1978 – Gonna Roll The Bones by Fritz Leiber (60 min.)
Mar. 22, 1978 – Sometimes They Come Back by Stephen King (58 min.)
Apr. 05, 1978 – Three Miles Up by Elizabeth Jane Howard (42 min.)
Apr. 19, 1978 – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Fredric Brown (49 min.)
Jun. 07, 1978 – The Ash Tree by M.R. James (36 min.)
Jul. 26, 1978 – The Squaw by Bram Stoker (35 min.)
Aug. 30, 1978 – Batard by Jack London (39 min.)
Sep. 06, 1978 – The Game Of Rat And Dragon by Cordwainer Smith (37 min.)
Oct. 17, 1978 – The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson (49 min.) |MP3|
Nov. 21, 1978 – The Other Celia by Theodore Sturgeon (48 min.)
Dec. 06, 1978 – Benlian by Oliver Onions (44 min.)
Jan. 03, 1979 – Before Eden by Arthur C. Clarke (32 min.)
Jan. 31, 1979 – The Haunters and the haunted by Edward Bulwer Lytton (106 min.)
Feb. 23, 1979 – Space Rats Of The CCC by Harry Harrison (37 min.)
Apr. 03, 1979 – Breakfast At Twilight by Philip K. Dick (41 min.)
Apr. 17, 1979 – Thurnley Abby by Perceval Landon (43 min.)
???. ??, ???? – The Whisperer In Darkness by H.P. Lovecraft
Posted by Jesse Willis
Deathworld 2: The Ethical Engineer
By Harry Harrison; Performed by Jim Roberts
Publisher: Brilliance Audio4 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / gambler / psionic abilities / planetary worlds / planetary colonists / slavery /
In the first Deathworld, wily interstellar gambler Jason dinAlt managed to survive on Pyrrus, a planet that seemed to be at war with its own people. He also stopped a deadly feud between two groups of those people. In the second volume of this trilogy, Jason finds that keeping the peace is even more difficult than ending the war. He is also becoming increasingly annoyed with the superior attitude of the natives, including his girlfriend, and this leads to his taking a very big chance. He allows himself to be arrested and taken away from the planet to show that he can take care of himself. He soon regrets that decision after crashing on a planet where the people are quite primitive and he is made a slave. Now he just wants to escape and get back to Pyrrus, but finds that it takes all his cunning and physical prowess just to stay alive. Harry Harrison gives us another fast-paced yet surprisingly thought-provoking story in Deathword 2: The Ethical Engineer.
Deathworld 2: The Ethical Engineer is the second in Harry Harrison’s Deathworld trilogy, which follows the interplanetary adventures of professional gambler Jason din’Alt. Although the plot picks up pretty soon after the first book left off, it doesn’t feel like a sequel as much as an interlude from the Pyrran saga. There is very little to link the two books other than the presence of the protagonist who is immediately taken off world away from the characters of the first book. However, the story itself is full of pulp fiction-y goodness and centers on a brand new, slightly less deadly world. A primitive world that seems to have regressed since it’s initial colonization, a majority of the people are slaves to brutal tribal chiefs who lead a never ending search for food in a barren wasteland. The more powerful chiefs, as uneducated and greedy as their people, each own one aspect of the technology that remains from more advanced times. But their refusal to work together has left the world with limited resources and a stagnated intelligence. A possible commentary on the dangers of rigid corporatism, the world structure explores a backward approach to invention that deconstructs advanced ideas into their most rudimentary parts, much to their detriment.
This sort of simplistic, one-dimensional thinking also plays into Jason’s new antagonist Mikah who is a member of some sort of universal police force that imposes a very strict moral code on everyone around them. He sees life in perfectly defined right and wrongs with no room for the moral relativism Jason is so fond of indulging in. Initially arresting Jason because of his gambling, he spends most of the book in mortal danger due to his refusal to bend his moral code and frequently hampers Jason’s attempts to rescue him for the same reason. His frustrating behavior quickly makes Mikah into one of the most annoying characters ever conceived and I spent most of the book wishing Jason would just leave him behind. In most respects, Mikah acts like a robot with no capacity to learn, change, develop, or understand anything not in his original programming, so that even though he is ideologically opposed to Jason, he’s not a very interesting adversary.
Jason, on the other hand, actually manages to both develop and regress in this book. In addition to a knowledge of gambling and weapons and his psionic powers (none of which he uses in this story), we find out he is rather conveniently a skilled mechanic and electrician. Unlike this last book, he actually has a good reason to be entangled in this plot since it was a consequence of his lifestyle choices but by ignoring his psionic powers which were so vastly important before, he was become a more generic character. This isn’t helped by the fact that exposure to the morally upright Mikah has no more effect of him than he does on Mikah. In the end, nothing has really changed except for the bloody wars he probably will have left behind him.
As far as the audio goes, it is the same wooden narrator as the first book and so not one I would recommend. But overall, it’s the kind of enjoyable light reading meant for a rainy afternoon and is short enough that it won’t take you much longer.
Posted by Rose D.
By Harry Harrison; Read by Jim Roberts
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
6 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Themes: / gambler / psionic abilities / planetary worlds / planetary colonists /
Professional gambler Jason dinAlt, who has ‘psionic’ abilities, is hired to win a great deal of money for a mysterious and very imposing stranger. When he ‘breaks the bank’ their expertly timed escape gets them off-world just in time. The gambler learns he has helped the dwellers of Pyrrus, otherwise known as ‘Deathworld’ – a planet that appears to be fighting and trying to destroy its inhabitants. Intrigued, he determines to see this world and learn its secrets. He discovers that there are colonists who live outside the embattled city who are not under constant and ever evolving attack from the planet. Jason’s efforts to help the city dwellers and re-unite the two planetary groups before they are all destroyed makes for a gripping listen.
Deathworld is one of Harry Harrison’s early books written in the finest tradition of the pulps with a forced romance and a flimsy excuse, but highly entertaining nevertheless. Jason dinAlt, the psionic gambler with a heart of gold, decides to go the the deadliest known planet in the universe due to a fit of malaise and stays there in spite of a rather tedious training period (made more enjoyable if you imagine Eye of the Tiger playing in the background). However, once he gets released into the general population, the mystery of Pyrrus picks up and it’s certainly a mystery I never suspected.
Pyrrus itself, presumably named after the war of attrition being fought there, is a dreadful world where even the plants can kill you, but the ingenuity of the planet’s lethalness and the two societies it has created are a nice backdrop to the adventure plot. Our exposure to the wildlife is more limited than I’d like with the focus being on the warfare instead. The relationship between the aptly named Junkmen and Grubbers is much more developed and is one of the most interesting elements of the story. Their mutual hostility reflects the tension between industrialism and agrarianism that is always prevalent in developing civilizations.
The characters themselves are mostly flat and underdeveloped, everyone according to their role and no more. Meta, Jason’s love interest, is especially annoying to me, though that may have been because of the complete lack of chemistry between her and Jason. She feels like a perfunctory character whose actions and reactions are dictated by the needs of the story rather than any sort of internal motivation. Jason, too, doesn’t have much a character arc (although I trust he isn’t as bored by the end as he was before Pyrrus). As a gambler he’s willing to put his life on the line for a hunch but his investment in the fate of the world is never fully explained beyond a general sense of goodwill. Still, what is character development in the face of carnivorous plants, poisonous animals, murderous bacteria, and the perpetual threat of volcanic eruptions? I’m not going to read a book called Deathworld for characters talking about their feelings.
Should you feel inclined to listen to this book, I don’t recommend this audiobook. The narrator, a Mr. Jim Roberts, was flat, boring and completely wrong for the tough characters and fast-paced action. It felt like I was being read to by a New York accountant, a well-meaning but unsuccessful uncle. The characters all sound the same and no attempt is made to put emotion into them. With a story like this, the right narration can really make or break it. I’d recommend either reading the book yourself or finding another version of the audiobook.
Posted by Rose D.
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Recent arrivals first, here’s Jenny’s list, Harry Harrison’s Deathworld, Speculative! Brilliance audiobooks (from public domain works), “he’s super clear”, author of Make Room! Make Room! (aka Soylent Green), Planet Of The Damned, “nice font”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Telling is in the Hanish Cycle, the out of print Harlan Ellison version of A Wizard of Earthsea, The Lathe Of Heaven and the PBS TV-movie with Bruce Davidson (trailer), Work Of The Devil by Katherine Amt Hanna, “the devil has no time for long novels”, Joe Hill’s Horns and In The Tall Grass (with Stephen King), Philip K. Dick’s Vulcan’s Hammer, similar to Colossus: The Forbin Project (film), “goes Skynet on your ass”, The Game-Players Of Titan has slug aliens, good names for bands, Time Out Of Joint, Tears In Rain by Rosa Montera is inspired by Blade Runner (it has a female Rutger Hauer), translated from Spanish, The Woodcutter by Kate Danley has fairy tale characters, Beowulf, Jeff Wheeler’s Legends Of Muirwood series released all at once, House Of Cards is a great British show, Dead Spots by Scarlett Bernard sounds like one of those Lifetime movies, The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke has a disturbing android romance, ewww!, Tam knows who Steven Erikson is (Forge Of Darkness), re-read of the Malazan series, we need urban fantasy and military SF people, Tenth Of December by George Saunders, prefers short stories, on Colbert, Vampires In The Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, her novel Swamplandia has been optioned by HBO, New releases start, Poe Must Die by Marc Olden, Ben Bova’s Farside comes out soon (hard SF), narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, Stefan’s Fantastic Imaginings, where’s James P. Hogan’s Inherit The Earth?, the movie Frequency didn’t star Kevin Bacon, the entire X Minus One radio drama run, short story audio collections having chapters and a table of contents, Star Wars audiobooks with enhanced sound, Bryce’s review of Star Wars: Scoundrels, more Star Trek novel audio books, more classic sf, Leigh Brackett, Jerry Pournelle, Harlan Ellison, Arthur C. Clarke, George R.R. Martin, “you’re welcome, Audible”, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination by John Joseph Adams, short fiction is back, Olaf Stapelton, like a science fiction The Silmarillion, SF Crossing The Gulf podcast will discuss Olaf Stapledon and others, Mary Doria Russell, where’s the audio version of Karen Lord’s The Best Of All Possible Worlds? (actually it came out the same day as the print version), Jenny loved it, what is the Candide connection Karen?, indie Scifi Arizona author Michael McCollum on Audible (Steve Gibson approved), the Audible Feb2013 Win-Win $4.95 sale, get the first in a series cheap, Sharon Shinn’s Archangel Samaria series, Image Comics’s first issue sale, The Red Panda audio drama becomes a comic (cover), John Scalzi’s The Human Division serial, wish science fiction authors in TV series, George R.R. Martin to develop more shows for HBO, football jerseys vs Star Trek uniforms.
Posted by Tamahome