Videotaped at the 1992 WorldCon Science Fiction Convention in Orlando, Florida, this 72 minute video is a who’s who of the friends and colleagues of Isaac Asimov. Most of the stories are humorous.
Among the speakers are Arthur C. Clarke (by tape), Harlan Ellison (by phone), Robert Silverberg, Ben Bova, Frederik Pohl, Sheila Williams, Julius Schwartz, Hal Clement, Kelly Freas, Janet Asimov, David A. Kyle, and Al Capp.
Posted by Jesse Willis
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
talked about on today’s show:
1965, 1966, Worlds Of Tomorrow, Project Plowshare, 1967, the original outline, greedy copyright reasons, Pyramid Books, an awful name, expecting less, anger, making fun of itself, if you don’t have a love in your heart for Science Fiction…, the subtitle:
“Being that Most Excellent Account of Travails and Contayning Many Pretie Hystories By Him Set Foorth in Comely Colours and Most Delightfully Discoursed Upon as Beautified and Well Furnished Divers Good and Commendable in the Gesiht of Men of That Most Lamentable Wepens Fasoun Designer Lars Powderdry and What Nearly Became of Him Due to Certain Most Dreadful Forces.”
Jack Vance, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, a pretty good satire, the Cold War, time travel, slaver aliens from Sirius, more than one naked boob is illegal, the most analog for Dick is the cartoonist, a pretty terrible plot, the book is a “turkey”, making the novel work somehow, the book Dick would want to survive WWIII, a very Dickian perspective, an apology as to why scholars should ignore certain Dick comments, self-parody, confabulation, a drug trance half-dream state, Dick is an emotional sponge, emotionally engaging, disintegration of the mind, a person becomes so involved in an artificial world they get sucked into it, Don Packard, fake weapons, would-be fascist, Surly, F for fungus, very Swiftian, 18th and 19th century roman à cleff, Dick isn’t at his best when Dick is talking about people with real power, presidents and councils vs. drinking coffee at home and sitting on park benches, the Park Bench action aspect of Philip K. Dick novels, a book about politics, the subtitle helps the reader, the cogs and the pursaps (the cognoscenti and the “pure saps”), Dick’s take on George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four, collaboration with the enemy, a three-sided conflict, the inner party, the outer part, self-delusion, more traditional Dickian themes, a lot of acronyms, how to look at it, Was Philip K. Dick A Bad Writer? article
Febbs was that unhampered, unbureaucratically restricted, elected leader. Of their clandestine political revolutionary-type organization which (after long debate) had titled itself, menacingly, the BOCFDUTCRBASEBFIN, The Benefactors of Constitutional Freedoms Denied Under the Contemporary Rule By a Small Elite By Force If Necessary. Cell One.
the acronym explosion after WWII, BATF, NATO, MAD, you’re a cog if you know all of these acronyms, the reins of power, being man-in-the-mazed (verb), Lars Powderdry, Victor Klug, mind disintegration, a lot of etymology in this book
“Do you know what the English word ‘to care’ comes from?” he said, as he poured her coffee for her from the obedient gadget wired to the stove.
“No.” She seated herself at the table, looked gravely at the ashtray with its moribund remains of yesterday’s discarded cigars and winced.
“The Latin word caritas. Which means love or esteem.” ‘
“St. Jerome,” he said, “used it as a translation of the Greek world agape which means even more.”
Lilo drank her coffee, silently.
was Marissa aware of herself as a being in the 1980s?, when Gorbachev had meeting with Reagan…, the Evil Empire, Tear Down This Wall, they were get along pretty well on TV, they like coffee and golfing too, relations with Putin (except for Trump), that’s a strongman, Hitler admiring Mussolini, the Russian weapons haven’t been plowshared, childrens toys, advice givings owls, brazen heads, weapons were fashion in the 1960s, celebrating new developments in weapons technology, the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark’s dad, Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man is a weapon to powerful to give to the military, War-Machine is tony stark with camouflage-on, the suit and I are one, where comics tie-into it, comics at the forefront, for every super-powered hero you create you need a super-powered villain, after the KKK who is left?, SPECTRE and SMERSH, the North Koreans, Julian Assange, without a villain it wont work, the Sirians, no screen time from the aliens from Sirius, one trick Dick missed, the old what-we-need-to-unite-the-world-is-an-alien-invasion ploy, Cuba!, the Iranians!, ISIS!, Russia is less of a worry (seemingly), NATO expansion, Ukraine, don’t forget to nuke Marissa in Los Angeles, gone are the friendly meetings and handshakes, when Snowden first appeared on the news, when Glenn Greenwald went on TV, the machine of outrage in Washington (D.C.), that’s not really what’s going on behind the scenes, the Surly F. Febbs, we need to get into these councils to join the ranks of those in the know, more tanks, more tank funding, Desert Storm, T-90s aren’t rolling up, the Battle of Kursk, the war economy turned into fashion, if you squint in the right way, the Hummer was plowshared, the real Hummer vs. the second generation, the H2 and the H3, or do all the other cars look like the, a giant owls that tells you about your life and holds your cigarettes, a bit of Penultimate Truth, Three Stigmata, inside-out, we have to create M.A.D., if you treat Russia disdainfully…, fake reality, put the population in danger, everything is good and light and nothing can hurt you, a real sense of reality, being less consumer oriented, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, turning people into rugs, the de-evolution gun, that’s another book, Colony by Philip K. Dick, humans from Earth, we’re going to ruin this place, beer cans and cigarette butts, shape-shifters, “I trusted the rug completely” by Robert Silverberg, I trust my bed not to strangle me, your boss’ phone is out to get you, The Twilight Zone (1985), stories can’t happen any more, Richard Matheson, so many Twilight Zones, the last chapter, am I going to kill myself?, Paul didn’t like chapter 32, conversations Philip K. Dick has with his wife, Iceland, his main girl was kind of awesome, super-smart and loving, falling in love with this teenager, the suicide ideation and discussion, you know there are advantages…, PKD books are almost all dialogue, talking about Bach, how would you rank The Zap Gun?, pretty high?, one of Marissa’s favourites, in the top half for Paul too, pot-boilers, The Man Who Japed, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, don’t you denigrate Martian Time-Slip!, big ones coming, Deus Irae is a muddled-mess (with redeeming features), more coherent, the narrator, don’t blame the narrator, this book doesn’t translate into audio that well, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, hitting x2, Dick doesn’t put in filler (generally), digression and set-up, beautiful and funny, reading-along, sooo funny, sticking with choices, con-comedy, keeping your powder-dry, be reasonable, have your weapons ready, “If you want peace, prepare for war”, slow paper reading for this one, not having the subtitle is mistake, lazy-ass fucks, what the hell are they thinking?, so stupid, it’s in there for a reason, nobody else wrote that for him, rent-seeking lazy ass fucks, the PKD estate just got offended, obfuscating what the book is doing, a cover that looks like nothing, the whole premise of this book, the lurid ACE Books, even more lurid, purple and yellow, super lurid, a dude pointing the zap gun at the next book over on the shelf, my people want to read a book like this, dis-owning every idea Dick had by deleting the meaning for the art, we hit the Jesse button, obfuscating the artists intent leads to consumer unhappiness, wub-fur, wub-like, wubs are from Venus, wubs are hiding in every PKD universe (even when they’re not in the text), getting sucked into the experience, how Philip K. Dick gets obsessed with games, The Game Players Of Titan, dinner’s ready!, the little man never able to escape, trying to be a big success, still running around that maze, a metaphor for Dick’s own career, his whole job is to make you empathize, trying to trap your mind, Dick is disintegrating our minds with his inconsistencies
Packard wound up: “S. G. Febbs fell victim to the Empathic-Telepathic whatever-it’s-called Maze and shortly succumbed-in fact in record time, beating the smallest period established by voluntary prisoners from the Wes-bloc federal pen on Callisto.
“S. G. Febbs,” he declared into the mike in conclusion, “is now at Wallingford Clinic, where he will remain indefinitely.”
after Dick committed his wife, who is Surly G. Febs based on?, why you need a key, Tuckerising, there are these books: Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, de-Tuikerized, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, that’s Heinlein that’s Le Guin, what you lose over time with an old book, seeing the Trump-analog, before or after JFK or RFK, acreeted material, Murder At the ABA by Isaac Asimov, Darius Dust = dry as dust = Isaac Asimov, the analog for Harlan Ellison, really old paperbooks, notes by previous owners, a lot of readers seem to be insane, easy to do with a Dick novel, making those connections is hard, The Search For Philip K. Dick by Anne R. Dick.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #383 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Steen Hansen talk about The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.
Talked about on today’s show:
1969, before the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, contemporary critics, SF critics vs. mainstream critics, the defense of the ghetto against interlopers, Ray Bradbury, Doris Lessing, a deep feeling, spoiling the book, showing what was wrong with it, getting the facts wrong, interpretation, Luke Burrage reviewing, Robert J. Sawyer, bad writing, had they done nothing … nothing would have happened, the mutation, the Wildfire facility, Star Trek, scientists out for the good of humanity, self-destruct sequences, MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction, every nuclear sub movie, film-like, The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, airport fiction tropes, hyper competent high level government high tech mcguffins, brain-washing, novel -> film, written for film?, ER, picky fiddly science and bureaucratic operation, killed or useless, trusted scientists to save the world, ruthlessly hard science, Hollywood couldn’t make this movie now, restrained, chilly, the gender swap, Robert Wise, Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House, Alfred Bester, a document dump, classified material, overloading the reader with verisimilitude, Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Crichton, The Thirteenth Warrior, Vikings, Russians and Byzantium, completely bullshit, Mr. Bullshit, regular SF vs. techno-thriller, a yummy INFODUMP, nobody had a definition for life, black cloth, a watch, a piece of granite, pure Science Fiction, Bryan’s mind destroyed at age 8, binary numbers, lasers vs. darts, Larry Niven, 24, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Steen welcomes our robot overlord, high-scale AI, Iain M. Banks, humans as pets, humans as cogs, I Have No Mouth And I must Scream, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, Dante Alighieri, lost race, the descent into Hell, from red to blue, the harrowing of Hell, a cold war story where the Russians aren’t the bad guys, The Bedford Incident, James Follett’s The Light Of A Thousand Suns, set in the recent past, the shotgun approach, Margaret Atwood, picking and choosing at the buffet table, dedicated to A.C.D., M.D. -> Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle -> Dr. Michael Crichton, “not a new story”, the glowing review in Life magazine, a retelling of The Blob, the Technovelgy, auto-doc, the suppressed cancer drug, Jensen Pharmaceuticals, gut flora, nudity and ass-grabbing, rectal suppository, astro-Tang, coffee, all that cleaning, they’re too holy, the five levels is a gimmick, the leveling, it’s bullshit!, we all know we have to wash our hands, the Wikipedia entry for the Airport Genre
Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre that is not so much defined by its plot or cast of stock characters, as much as it is by the social function it serves. An airport novel is typically a fairly long but fast-paced novel of intrigue or adventure that is stereotypically found in the reading fare offered by airport newsstands for travelers to read in the rounds of sitting and waiting that constitute air travel.
Rudyard Kipling’s fiction was published as a railway magazine, the origin of pulp fiction, The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, the opening to The Strain, having the reins of political power at your fingertips, in the 2008 miniseries remake, back stories/love stories, a muddy anti-science mess, pre-Apollo -> Watergate -> conspiracy theories, the technical glitch (paper between the bell and the striker), germ warfare?!, the remake of The Manchurian Cantidate, the films and adaptations reflect the times, the 2008 version is super-militarized, X-18, F-4 phantoms, Dracula, the long gothic tradition of found documents, Plan 9 From Outer Space, a cold war document, The Parallax View, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Crichton like Spielberg loves power, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, medical people as superheroes, uber-expert scientists, power fantasy fiction, scepticism of power, image Michael Crichton at a Science Fiction convention, the immune reaction, You are not of the body!, techno-thrillers, why Ian Fleming’s James Bond books became so popular, JFK, Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Tom Clancy, The Hunt For Red October, Reagan based foreign policy of Red Storm Rising, Jack Ryan was a wonk Navy -> CIA agent -> CIA Director -> President, Firefox, political fiction written for a jet-set audience, conservative Heinleinian, Andromeda Strain cosplay?, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, SF writers save the world from alien invasion, science matters vs. science fiction, the first biology crisis, outflanking the ghetto, the 2006 Worldcon, Greg Benford, Greg Bear, David Brin, thinking up scenarios, if I was a terrorist how would I destroy the the United States, Wildfire, Cold War contingency planning, the Rand Corporation, the odd-man out element, his name was Hall but should have been Corridor, does this make sense?, the odd man is gay?, The Odd Couple, gay coding?, gay men are most likely to turn off nukes?, The Great Train Robbery, timing pacing planning tricking, that roller-coaster spark, opening observation, we are always observing, fun fiction for Henry Kissinger and the jet set, bureaucrats of a class, this function material is reflective, Science Fiction writers are poor, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, a biology book, Paul Di Filippo, bio-punk, Ribo-funk, The Bay (2012), The Hot Zone, the wet science, cloning, the neglected science, Coma, Protector by Larry Niven, how electron-microscopes work, crystallography, “it mutated”?!?!?, that was odd, it’s communicating with itself, block-chain virus, deep hurting, The Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, medicine without silicon, the Patriarchy, The Highest Frontier, Blood Music by Greg Bear, a Halo novel, The Wind From A Burning Woman, a “wild” writing style, bio is hard to do, Pontypool, prions, the worst part of The Walking Dead, we’re all infected, a symbol for regular death, Titan by John Varley, a 100ft tall Marilyn Monroe monster, The Satan Bug by Alistair Maclean (1962), where does the techno-thriller begin, a precursor to techno-thriller, The Stolen Bacillus by H.G. Wells, a really obvious anarchist, Wells defused the whole genre for sixty years, The Food Of The Gods, a convincing linguistic maneuver, fawning of technology bureaucracy power and the function of government, a stack of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Sputnik shock, British invasion novels, Tom Clancy as a zombie brand, special helicopter trip, massive government expenditure for the competent man, an empty jetliner, vicarious thrill, power fantasy, “he’s the most important person right now”, this is our bailiwick!, nice and short, Dean Koontz, Phantoms, A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Ghost Fleet by August Cole and P.W. Singer, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child books, no CRISPR, China is no Soviet Union, futurism, education moves so slowly, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an X-Box with Paranoid Linux, Reamde by Neal Stephenson, a Kurt Vonnegut vibe, a Welsh Muslim terrorist, like pornography you know a techno-thriller when you see it.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Reading, Short And Deep #024
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Living Space by Isaac Asimov
Living Space was first published in The Original Science Fiction Stories, May 1956.
Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.
Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
Talked about on today’s show:
1964, not exactly a fix-up, this novel’s DNA, The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, the next draft, the main character’s problem was Dick’s problem, an idea, another Yance-woman, a sausage fest, did you’re arm fall off again?, “the well-informed dead rat romped under the tongue-tied pink log”, a new ACE or Ballantine book, more cohesive and clearer, all ideas are undercooked, the Wikipedia summary, The Defenders feels like junk, but translated to the novel… a sequel to The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy is excellent, reading The Mold Of Yancy helps you understand The Penultimate Truth, conapts with wall to wall wub-fur carpeting, artiforgs (artificial organs), Yancy in the novel vs. the short story, a syndicate, a quasi-corporatist government short, the Kardashians and Gwyneth Paltrow, set on Callisto, a totalitarian government, letting in spies, his spidey-sense, he’s like Ronald Regan, a fireside chat, Dick’s analysis of our North American society is dead on, war is bad but just wars have to be fought, cats are definitely better than dogs, political correctness, media pushing (or pulling) society in different directions, a perfect fit, a nice welding, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, worried about the overseer, strap on your vault suit, he’s a companion, a NPC, leadies are Mister Handies, the robot companions, Hugh Howey’s whole career, the same premise and ideas as Wool, ant tanks, vaults (and silos), WWIII, The Game-Players Of Titan, neo-fuedalism, squabbling fiefdoms, the MegaVac computer echoes Vulcan II or III, Isaac Asimov’s MultiVac, the plot with Brose and Lantano, re-purposing people across stories, the leadies are slaves, a good Goodreads review, the 1% and the 99%, labouring under delusion, a damn fine analysis, the scandal of the day, obedience, Paul is a history fan, a Roman society, Sulla and Pompey, the triumvirates, private armies, the land grant system is very Roman, proto-feudal (or manorial), Cheyenne is nuked again, Estes Park, Colorado, Philip K. Dick has to throw everything into the crockpot, Pretty Blue Fox, Lincoln Apartments, the Tom Mix tank, 290 movies, Tom Mix had five wives, Philip K. Dick dressed like a movie cowboy, clear evidence you’re living in a Philip K. Dick world, ask me about Plato, The Defenders and The Penultimate Truth are modeled after Plato’s the Myth of the Cave, gin and tonic vs. beer, Dog Stories Monthly vs. the Journal Of Psychological Review, a gestalt, the art of Hieronymus Bosch, everything should be about challenging and questioning, Critical Thinking should be the only class in high-school, nothing can be challenged, no critical thinking, all Yancy’s beliefs are insipid, as close as possible to no beliefs, apolitical (without a viewpoint), William Tenn, Null-P, Dick was really influenced by A.E. van Vogt, “wow, my god!”, a preference for Kriegsspiel, a cosmic wrestling match, The Cosmic Puppets, a nice six hour game of Kriegsspiel, Bach’s art of the fugue, subdued by the plot, troweling it down a bit, The Unreconstructed M stuff, fun to read, a time traveling Cherokee warrior who walked in from another Dick story, Time Pawn, Dr. Futurity, fake artifacts of a fake alien invasion, it gells as a novel, a really good speech about a squirrel, an actual living squirrel, there’s no little scurrying creature at the end, a questionable bow,
However, Adams figures out Lantano was behind the deaths as part of his plot to bring down Brose. In desperation and fear, he joins up with St. James, who discovered a cache of artificial organs, and flees into the Tom Mix tank with him. They discover that Lantano was ultimately successful but contemplate that the biggest lie is yet to come.
that’s the ending and discovery of The Defenders, meeting the quota, they don’t let you out when you don’t meet the quota, there’s no reward and punishment, appreciating The Defenders, in Plato’s The Republic, PKD knows all about Plato (and The Odyssey), the Allegory Of the Cave,
Plato begins by asking Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do (“just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets”. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the shadowed wall, and the prisoners falsely believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave
fake destruction of San Fransisco, false reconstructions, Stalin with Roosevelt speaking Russian at the White House, 1984 by George Orwell,
Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed, being forced to turn and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it hard for him to see the objects that are casting the shadows. If he is told that what he saw before was not real but instead that the objects he is now struggling to see are, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the shadows of the carried objects. He writes “…it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.”
writing lies and having your son believe the lies, Hollywood,
Plato continues: “suppose…that someone should drag him…by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun.” The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him. The sunlight is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the freed prisoner is experiencing. Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself. Only after he can look straight at the sun “is he able to reason about it” and what it is.
a sign of madness,
Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.
other levels, the fake journal entries, the time scoop, in the geological strata, a critical thinking story, what makes us believe the Earth is as old as it is is evidence, pointing in the direction of a Truth, a little bit paranoid, Philip K. Dick has a whole story about it, an evidence laying assassin robot, questioning the science, then you have a Philip K. Dick story, Vulcan’s Hammer, a real theme he’s struggling with, don’t get into conversations with strangers, you’re a human being … I guess, it’s great to be in a country where you don’t understand the language, an afterword by Thomas Disch, a downhill racer of a writer,
If Dick had stopped to think (but that’s something a downhill racer can’t do), he might have realized that there was an essential dramatic disparity between the two stories he was trying to weld together. The Yancy part of the plot generated a story about dirty tricks in high places, a genre for which Dick possesses little flair (compare le Carré and his better imitators), while that element of the story that all readers remember, after the lapse of however many years, is the notion of the human race imprisoned in underground factories because they’ve been tricked into believing that a nuclear war has destroyed the world. It’s an extraordinarily resonant idea. One thinks of the dwellers in Plato’s cave who know nothing of the reality but the shadows cast on the wall; of the similar destiny of Wells’s Morlocks; of the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio; and of ourselves, living in the shadows of a nuclear threat that is only bearable by pretending that it does not exist. To have recognized that our situation is a kind of madness (“What, me worry?” sang the Titanic’s passengers) has not helped us toward a solution, for our situation with respect to the bomb is not much different in 1983 than it was in 1964. And for that reason The Penultimate Truth, for all its flaws, remains a book that can speak to the terror that is the bedrock of our social order.
plotting the distance away from a nuclear target in order to survive, a nuclear wasteland in every movie, an insipid Kardashianism seems to have taken over, we seem to have gotten worse, the fading away of the nuclear threat, the 99% accepting the 1%, breaking free from the cave seems impossible, the internet is our Yancy, like the same things on Facebook, we all have the same opinions, political correctness is like fascism except you can’t use that word, John Wayne day backlash (because he was apparently super-racist), Donald Trump is a power word, he’s willing to say whatever he wants to say, you have to come to that, arguing with the racism, Hieronymus Bosch are loveley, the Kriegsspiel argument, everyone should struggle with this, a dictate from on high or social mimesis, walking by the lottery counter, there’s no way to fix that, think about it, don’t just think the right thing because its the right thing, the re-writing rooms, the proles kind of ignore the prole-feed, the tankies who don’t know, the meek inheriting the Earth, maybe we aren’t meek enough, sprawling demesnes, the human condition, a good book, pulling the veil or reality aside, back to the shadows, from The Republic, the leadies are the leaden weights, the armies of the 1%, how much do you need to be educated, is it for gold or for lead?, Mr. Dick you did something with it, a downhill skier of a writer, add The Mold Of Yancy, he’s such a great idea man, he really engages with the situation, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Defenders is improved upon reflection,
The wonder is how often Dick was able to produce work of real interest and wit in these marathons of typewriting. For readers who read at a pace proportioned to his speed of writing (as most sf fans learn to do, or else cease being fans), the dull patches disappear into a haze of white powder as they careen down the slopes of the narrative. It is the ideas they are after, and Dick always provides more than a sufficiency of these.
Disch knew what Dick was all about, the longer novelettes, he has to pay the bills, too much plot, not enough story, welding together three stories, what was your process, MAN!?, Marissa attended a conference with a bunch of Dick wives and lovers, how much is reflected in what Marissa heard?, how much he loved everyone, feeling betrayed and angry, how funny he is, playing tricks on people, I love that Dick is seemingly incapable of being self-concious about what he loves, Roog, can you pick a subject that is less cosmic in scope, passionate about weird little things, watching a pilot for a new Science Fiction show, Colony (TV show), domesticity, “yeah, I’m out”, sympathy for the characters, overlaying crappily manipulative music, engaging with them in a real way, that dog was a real dog named Snooper, Jonathan Lethem, so good at self-examination, he’s the anti-facsist, he’s wise as well as crazy, he’s blind but he’s glimpsed greater truths, gnosticism, his fallout stories, we will miss them, you should be reading these PKD books, our listeners aren’t watching the Kardashians, are they?
Posted by Jesse Willis