The SFFaudio Podcast #190 – READALONG: Beowulf

December 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #190 – Scott and Jesse talk about the epic poem, Beowulf (and the Tantor Media audiobook edition read by Rosalyn Landor).

Talked about on today’s show:
The Odyssey, mead, Recorded Books Modern Scholar series, Michael D.C. Drout, Norsemen in the Mediterranean, “embarrassingly subservient to their women”, Miklagard, Russia and the Rus, Vikings -> Normans -> Britons -> Crusaders, the fall of Rome, Beowulf: A Dual Language Edition by Howell D. Chickering, Jr., the king of the blanekty blanks, Seamus Heaney translation, popularity of Beowulf, the Icelandic Sagas, Greeks vs. Romans vs. Scandians, more mead halls, fewer philosophical schools, guardsman vs. tutors, action vs. xenia, thanes just wanta band up, “they’re Klingons”, The 13th Warrior, Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Crichton, biker gangs, Hrothgar, Scyld Scefing, Unferth (un + frith = “mar peace”), Herot, the challenging retainer who gives the hero a sword, the swimming contest, Beowulf (the 2007 Roger Avary/Neil Gaiman adaptation), the visual composition, Babylon 5, Wiglaf, “badasses must compete”, Eric S. Rabkin, nine hours underwater, Grendel -> Grendel’s Mom -> The Dragon, the hoards, “a story to tell while you’re drinking mead”, “story is at the primacy”, “she’s got tentacles!”, the spawn of Cain, “Cain’s clan”, Beowulf is a poem about pagans by a Christian, the historicity of Beowulf (literally “bee” + “wolf” = “bear”), The Iliad, The Odyssey, historical King Arthur, J.R.R. Tolkien, what kind of poetry is it? It’s EPIC!, Tantor Media’s version of Beowulf (translated by Francis B. Gummere), the LibriVox version of Beowulf, Brian Murphy, “whale road” vs. “whale path”, Kevin Crossley-Holland, “foundling” vs. “waif”, Caesar -> Kaiser and Czar, The Hobbit is like Beowulf told to children, rapine warriors vs. cute dwarves, The Lord Of The Rings, golden rings and magic swords, breaker of swords, visual parallels Grendel’s arm + socket -> Beowulf’s arm + socket, “movies excel at visual metaphors”, “the thirteen dwarfs is not a good idea”, heavy going, watch the movie first then read the poem, Beowulf’s death, “often when one man follows his own will many are hurt”, “his high destiny”, a Talmud for Beowulf, having it every way, arguing the Bible, the etymology of “Homer”, we’re fans, Brendan Gleeson, Wiglaf’s choice, why Grendel’s got a grudge, monsters as externalizations of horror within, Viking men and their bastard sons, kings need heirs, the sins of the father (and Original Sin), the family of Cain, why did Cain kill Abel, capturing the reasons hidden within the story, Robert Zemeckis, adaptations of Beowulf, why put Beowulf in the future, the Christopher Lambert Beowulf, The Monarch Of The Glen by Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things, Grendel by John Gardner, Eaters Of The Dead |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Herot Series by Larry Niven, Steve Barnes, and Jerry Pournelle, Sons Of Anarchy, Hamlet, overturning the mead benches, named swords, Hrunting

Beowulf

Beowulf - SWORD, SHIELD, SHIP

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #182 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Books XXI to XXIV)

October 15, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #182 – Scott and Jesse talk, in the sixth of a six part series, about the books XXI, XXII, XXIII and XXIV of The Odyssey by Homer.

Talked about on today’s show:
The E.V. Rieu translation and the , The Great Bow, Odysseus Strings His Bow, The Battle In The Hall, Slaughter In The Hall, Odysseus And Penelope, The Great Rooted Bed, The Feud Is Ended, Peace, flexing that bow, canny suitors, does Penelope know what’s going on?, the Wikipedia entry for The Odyssey (and the Slaying Of The Suitors):

The next day, at Athena’s prompting, Penelope maneuvers the Suitors into competing for her hand with an archery competition using Odysseus’ bow. The man who can string the bow and shoot it through a dozen axe heads would win. Odysseus takes part in the competition himself: he alone is strong enough to string the bow and shoot it through the dozen axe heads, making him the winner. He then turns his arrows on the Suitors and with the help of Athena, Telemachus, Eumaeus and Philoteus the cowherd, he kills all the Suitors. Odysseus and Telemachus hang twelve of their household maids, who had betrayed Penelope or had sex with the Suitors, or both; they mutilate and kill the goatherd Melanthius, who had mocked and abused Odysseus. Now at last, Odysseus identifies himself to Penelope. She is hesitant, but accepts him when he mentions that their bed was made from an olive tree still rooted to the ground. Many modern and ancient scholars take this to be the original ending of the Odyssey, and the rest to be an interpolation.

The next day he and Telemachus visit the country farm of his old father Laertes, who likewise accepts his identity only when Odysseus correctly describes the orchard that Laertes had previously given him.

The citizens of Ithaca have followed Odysseus on the road, planning to avenge the killing of the Suitors, their sons. Their leader points out that Odysseus has now caused the deaths of two generations of the men of Ithaca: his sailors, not one of whom survived; and the Suitors, whom he has now executed. The goddess Athena intervenes and persuades both sides to give up the vendetta, a deus ex machina. After this, Ithaca is at peace once more, concluding the Odyssey.

Melanthius prompts his own mutilation, a mutilating evil dude, “horror swept through the suitors”, on the question of the axe heads, the “battle master”, “cased in bronze”, a “turbid jet” of blood, how awesome would it be to see a bardic performance of The Odyssey?, Sir Ian McKellen, the compliant bard, the ancient Greek holy books, the host-guest relationship, the morality of killing your house-guests, why should you read The Odyssey? Because it doesn’t present a world classifiable into good and evil, the inviolability, Iranian hospitality, how Iranians talk (a circuitous path to making a point), why can’t Odysseus even trust his dad?, the primacy of patriarch, the killing of the twelve maidens, what is the moral message?, an unjustified liar, Agamemnon ghost, “that Penelope’s pretty great”, “talk about odd behavior”, the immovable (marriage) bed, an olive tree, “the gods have made you daft”, The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, Odysseus in Antarctica?, Odysseus runs his life crazily, Odysseus’ name means “trouble”, impiety to Polyphemus, the Trojan War was Odysseus’s fault, a kind of comedy like Voltaire’s Candide, a satire of The Odysseus, True History by Lucian of Samosata, “the natural ending”?, Athena’s solution, the end of The Stand by Stephen King, is the deus ex machina ending satisfying?, Poseidon’s rage, the Norweigan version of The Odyssey (Beowulf), the Beowulf movie, Beowulf is tough braggart but is not wise, melancholy gods, the hero is the villain, the merciless Odysseus, the unquestionable Odysseus.

Thirteen Axe Heads?

The Odyssey - Marvel Classics art by Jeff Jodloman

The bard at work from Classics Illustrated

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #172 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Books XVII – XX)

August 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #172 – Scott and Jesse talk, in the fifth of a six part series, about the books XVII, XVIII, XIX and XX of The Odyssey.

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott is struck, building tension, the nurse, “to be wroth against”, Eumaeus, names are handy, Hiro Protagonist, Neal Stephenson, parody, William Gibson, Eurycleia, Odysseus rolls a saving throw against a stool, first bum fight in literature, twinning, Odysseus is Athena’s avatar on Earth, The Iliad vs. The Odyssey, being of two minds, gods as metaphors, externalization, a primitive version of Matthew 25:40, “my good for nothing belly”, appetites, metastory, the tip jar is open, Turkic and Gaelic bards, Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag, “reached for the good things close at hand”, “Odysseus Goes To Town”, Eric Shanower, Argos (the hound), “the black hand of Death”, it’s not an anti-slavery polemic, the washing of the feet, the stringing of the bow, Julian Jaynes’s idea about The Iliad and The Odyssey and consciousness, Penelope is just as smart as Odysseus, the prelude to the crisis, the walls turn red, Yuri Rasovsky’s The Odyssey, Blackstone Audio.

Odysseus and Euryclea by Christian Gottlob Heyne

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #166 – TOPIC: SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World)

June 25, 2012 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #166 – Jesse, Luke Burrage, and Eric S. Rabkin discuss, at length, the SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World). Here’s the premise:

Science Fiction Forms: Short Story, Novella, Fix-Up, Novel, Trilogy, and World. Respectively, they might be exemplified thus: Short Story (“Mars Is Heaven!“), Novella (“Flowers for Algernon“), Fix-Up (The Martian Chronicles, which contains a revised version of “Mars Is Heaven!” or The Seedling Stars, Accelerando, and Beggars In Spain, all of which began as novellas), Novel (originals, like 1984, and derivatives like Flowers for Algernon or Varley’s novel Millennium coming from his short story “Air Raid“), Trilogy (original Foundation series), World (the ultimate Foundation world or Heinlein’s Future History [shared with others] or Banks’s Culture or LeGuin’s Hainish series [created just for the authors, but let’s not forget about fan fiction]). What are the special challenges and rewards in reading and writing in these diverse forms? What special challenges or rewards attend on reusing material in another form? Is the formal plasticity of SF unique among literary genres?

Talked about on today’s show:
Eric’s suggestion, literature with a capital “L”, The Dead by James Joyce, The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Luke’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, the format, the themes, the variability of short story form, the feghoot, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Accelerando, Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, The Tower Of Babel, stripped away vs. embellished to the nth degree, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Understand by Ted Chiang, The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat, fantasy, the unexplicit story, valid reactions, the etymology of “text”, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, a persuasive existential journey, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, San Fransisco, short stories as objects of frivolity or training, the brilliance of an idea is not always enough, a novel can act as a community to an individual, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury vs. The Fireman by Ray Bradbury, is the novel inherently more participatory than a short story?, the failure of technology vs. the power of nature, The Masque Of The Red Death, teaching Science Fiction with short stories and novels, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame (Volume 1), the composite novel, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, A.E. van Vogt, the fix-up, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Lobsters by Charles Stross, the cat changes function, “an intellectual framework”, Robert A. Heinlein’s future history, the composite novel, Isaac Asimov, future history vs. psychohistory, Michael Moorcock, I, Robot, Robbie, the three laws, Stephen Byerly and Susan Calvin, unAsimovian assumptions, the full dose of SF, Reason, The Evitable Conflict, is Stephen Byerly a robot or a man?, the Mérode Altarpiece (a medieval iconographic trope), art history, Luke doesn’t think Asimov is that clever, R. Daneel Olivaw, the three laws are fairytale laws, positronic brains are positive, the three laws are for people (not just robots), The Bicentennial Man, Asimov’s powers, Asimov’s business acumen, Brandon Sanderson, shared worlds, gods, Mormonism, Daniel Clowes, The Death Ray, Elantris, “The Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durrell, reading The Martian Chronicles backwards, Luke’s fiction, Alastair Reynolds, Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street Irregulars, whodunit ain’t the attraction, The Adventure Of The Speckled Band, a matter of cutting, A Clockwork Orange, it’s better without the extra chapter, the commercial effect (or the effect of commercialism), popular literature, the flabby novel, Robert J. Sawyer, Hominids, Calculating God, William Shakespeare, The Royal Ontario Museum, horse evolution, God needs a starship!?, where to find a paleontologist, “a hundred pages of nothing happening”, a circular argument, writing to the story’s demands, Kevin J. Anderson, commercial constraints shouldn’t be points of pride, the thickness of books, The Lord Of The Rings, does more succinct = more better?, novellas are novels with threads missing?, The Hobbit, the ambition of the author, Luke is rejecting the basic premise, The Stand by Stephen King, is it a better story short or long?, changes and updates and additional material, don’t let Asimov near a typewriter unless you want something written, Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke, The City And The Stars, expanding everything, Monster Story, “it came to me in a dream”, Minding Tomorrow, Nightfall (the short story) vs. Nightfall (the novel), “it’s a lot like a perfectly nice novel that eventually becomes a masterpiece”, The Lion of Comarre, it’s not a commercial podcast, a civil rowdiness, Eric’s Coursera course: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, rechunking, forums, essays, 18,000 registered students, University of Michigan, only the competitors are qualified to judge the competitors, a history of the U.S. Civil War, Luke’s kitchen, grades, “there is no absolute abstract grade for anything”, Science Fiction and Politics (Courtney Brown), the governor of a steam engine, Luke confuses two professors, “yes, by golly, that was a very good thing of it’s kind”, The Odyssey by Homer, a foundational classic, The Bible, the Benjamin Franklin bible, there should be an SFBRP review of The Odyssey, Luke’s Matthew Mark Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Joseph Campbell, time for coffee!

The Mérode Altarpiece

Startling Stories, November 1948 - Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 11 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 12 and 13 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #165 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Book XIII – XVI)

June 18, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #165 – Scott and Jesse talk, in the fourth of a six part series, about the books XIII, XIV, XV and XVI of The Odyssey.

Talked about on today’s show:
roman numerals, Ian McKellen’s narration, Genghis Khan And The Making Of The Modern World by Jack Weatherford, the host/guest relationship, Phaeacians vs. Phoenicians, Ithaca, the start is near the end, the loyal swineherd, sleeping Odysseus, Poseidon: “I’d like to avenge myself at once” (on the people of Scheria), a ship shaped rock, the generous Phaeacians tax the people to pay for their extravagant gifts, one 1%er helping another 1%er, why is Athena always in disguise?, lies and deception are Odysseus’ nature, a disguise for Odysseus, the cruel abuse of men, Eumaeus the loyal swineherd, the richness of Odysseus’s estate, the trickiest bastard who ever lived is also the richest bastard who ever lived, “In Eumaeus’ Hut”, Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, the cruelty to the pig, Athena’s plans and plots, Odysseus queries his son, the prince of Pylos, the wandering dude, Telemachus is the dutiful and well mannered, the lies parallel a truth, the parallels between the wooing of Helen and the problem of Penelope’s suitors, Odysseus will use a different method to solve this dilemma, “feats of strength”, you sometimes just have to kill a whole bunch of dudes, the stringing of the bow, extended metaphors, “Odysseus Goes To Town”, the genealogy of royal houses, the Robert Fagles translation.

Odysseus Lands In Ithaca

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #156 – READALONG: The Odyssey by Homer (Books IX – XII)

April 16, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #156 – Scott and Jesse talk, in the third of a six part series, about the books IX, X, XI, and XII of The Odyssey.

Talked about on today’s show:
What’s the plural of cyclops?, cyclopskin?, cyclopean, Charybdis and Scylla, from this book many books have come, Philip K. Dick’s early fantasies are peppered with Odysseian goodness, Upon The Dull Earth, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Odysseus is a smart liar, “my fame has reached the skies”, Telemachus runs the first four books, Odysseus in third person runs in the second four books, Odysseus in the first person runs the third four books, Calypso vs. Circe, “deep in her arching caverns”, the land of the lotus eaters, lotus addiction, Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick, “I’m a plant, doctor”, the 1968 Italian miniseries adaptation of The Odyssey (L’Odissea), why does Odysseus listen to the Sirens?, Circe’s wand, Hermes’ wand, the origin of wizards and sorceresses, Polyphemus, cheeses!, Beowulf, Grendel’s attack in the hall, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a bachelor’s home vs. a maiden’s home, the cyclops island is a libertarian utopia!, Zeus vs. Poseidon, twenty-power wine!, manifest destiny, the guest gift, “I’ll eat nobody”, “I have a cunning plan my lord”, Odysseus is always messing with the gods, “you shameless cannibal”, the prophecy that Odysseus would blind Polyphemus, raider of cities, swag, Odysseus is not a righting-wrongs kind of hero, Polyphemus’ prayer to his father, Poseidon doesn’t make an on-screen appearance in The Odyssey, what is Aquaman’s hair colour?, Circe (the bewitching queen), Ian McKellan‘s narration of the audiobook, “and so he mounted her bed”, “breeding” great trust, tame lions and wolves, Eurylochus goes on the “away mission”, Eurylochus was “unmanned”, Hermes and the moly, the Wikipedia entry for moly, potions and poison, “The Book Of The Dead”, Cimmeria, Robert E. Howard, “the original Fantasy”, Odysseus becomes the bard, “one death is enough for both men, but you shall now have two”, Hercules, Achilles, Agamemnon is bitter about Clytemnestra murdering him, Charybdis and Scylla is like an old fashioned version of The Cold Equations, O’ Brother Where Art Thou, Dante’s Inferno, Paradise Lost, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, The Aeneid, Strange Eden by Philip K. Dick, Star Trek (Who Mourns for Adonais?), Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, “oh boy”, Hyperion, Odysseus never takes the blame for anything, immortal zombie cows, how does Odysseus end up in that tree?, Ithaca at last!

N.C. Wyeth - Circe

Odysseus Performing The Nekyia

Posted by Jesse Willis

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