The SFFaudio Podcast #122 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick

August 22, 2011 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #122 – a complete and unabridged reading of Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, followed by a discussion of it with Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Gregg Margarite (who narrated the story).

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond The Door is a story about a very angry bird, is it a puff-piece or a potboiler?, Rod Serling, Twilight Zone, “My name is Talky Tina and I’m going to kill you.”, Living Doll, Telly Savalas, Clown Without Pity (from Treehouse of Horror III), Night Gallery, Chucky, were clowns always scary?, automaton, fantasy, is it a haunted cuckoo clock?, what does that mean?, why is that in there?, who is Pete?, Pete has to be her dead brother, did Pete die in the same way?, the Black Forest, what’s wrong with this woman?, “it was written in the fifties!”, she’s happy and she’s sad, Umberto Eco and the role of the reader, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Eric S. Rabkin, Warehouse 13, is the first line a moral lesson (or merely a magazine call out)?, Project Gutenberg’s etext edition of Beyond The Door, Fantastic Universe Science Fiction, this story is not about a cuckoo clock, it’s about the cuckoo bird and the cuckoo egg, and the egg’s name is Pete, Perky Pat, Gregg has read Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis, James Joyce, what am I thinking?, what am I feeling?, “keep thinking about that”, “it’s wholesale baby”, this is sex, Bob is her lover (in the 1950s sense), anthropomorphizing cuckoo clock’s bird is not that uncommon, “you’ll love it Bobby”, this is a really strange clock, it would keep you up all night, the cuckoo clock fad (they were ubiquitous), “like a new member of the family”, what is the symbol of?, the cuckoo is a brood parasite, the characteristics of cuckoo eggs and chicks, “some important special accounts” sounds like a story, “how nice you look today”, “Mrs. Peters across the street you know…”, “oh oh oh”, Pete was only her half brother, “it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you need 5,000 words by ten a.m.”, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, Dick’s many marriages, Tessa Dick, structuralism vs. post structuralism, writer’s intent vs. the text standing alone, does the author’s intent matter?, a bastard child, “she’s seen this thing in action before”, the great depression -> WWII -> many impulsive marriages, Bob isn’t gay, “no guy is interested in buttons!”, “does he realize he is next in line?”, “monogamy is designed to makes sure the male gets a genetic heir”, the cuckoo is her champion, “I like a good deal”, “he’s rude, he doesn’t deserve to die”, there’s no magic, no science fiction, folklore, mythology, proto-story, Scott read Beyond The Door aloud to his daughter, James Thurber’s The Princess And The Tin Box, Anthony Boucher, three or four princes, reverse-dowry, “red charger” vs. plow horse, mica and hornblende, she’s not an idiot, anyone who thought she was going to…, this is an overturning of that, it’s a fractured fairy tale, a noir fairy tale, Frank R. Stockton, The Griffin and the Minor Canon, Snow White as a horror story, Rocky And Bullwinkle, June Foray, William Conrad, Jake And The Fatman, “finish before it burns”, the Marx Bros., the self-deprecating stuff we like today, Forever Peace, we got it sorted, anecdotal proof.

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBS Radio Workshop: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World

April 12, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

CBS Radio WorkshopThe CBS Radio Workshop was an experimental dramatic radio anthology series that aired on CBS radio from January 1956, until September 1957. Subtitled “radio’s distinguished series to man’s imagination,” it was a revival of the earlier Columbia Workshop, broadcast by CBS from 1936 to 1943, and it used some of the same writers and directors employed on the earlier series. Its first two episodes were a two-part adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian stunner Brave New World. It has some strong claims to being the definite adaptation as it is both introduced and narrated by Aldous Huxley himself. Here’s how Time magazine’s February 6, 1956 issue described it in their review:

“It took three radio sound men, a control-room engineer and five hours of hard work to create the sound that was heard for less than 30 seconds on the air. The sound consisted of a ticking metronome, tom-tom beats, bubbling water, air hose, cow moo, boing! (two types), oscillator, dripping water (two types) and three kinds of wine glasses clicking against each other. Judiciously blended and recorded on tape, the effect was still not quite right. Then the tape was played backward with a little echo added. That did it. The sound depicted the manufacturing of babies in the radio version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.”

Music for the series was composed by Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Amerigo Moreno, Ray Noble and Leith Stevens. Other writers adapted to the series included Robert A. Heinlein, Sinclair Lewis, H.L. Mencken, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederik Pohl, James Thurber, Mark Twain and Thomas Wolfe. According to Bill Hollweg the two MP3 files have been “cleaned and the volume normalized” – and they do sound great!

PELICAN - Brave New World - based on the novel by Aldous HuxleyBrave New World
Based on the novel by Aldous Huxley; Performed by a full cast
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: January 27 and February 3, 1956
Source: Archive.org

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Most interesting to me, however, is some of the commentary about this adaptation. On the back of the Pelican Records LP (LP-2013) edition there is critical essay on Huxley, Brave New World and this adaptation, by none other than Ray Bradbury! It is truly wonderful and I have reproduced it below:

There is science fiction and science fiction. There is science fiction still looked down upon by many intellectuals in our society, because it is written by the wrong people. And there is science fiction minus the label, written over in the main stream by acceptable A-1 main-line writers which is OK. And at the head of the list for some 40 years or more you would have to put Aldous Huxley and Brave New World. Whenever lists are drawn up for schools containing the acceptable authors who dare to be imaginative, it is Huxley and Orwell, ten to one.

Forget about Asimov, Clarke, Sturgeon, Heinlein, get lost.

There are a number of reasons beyond snobbishness of course. Huxley was in mid-career when he veered over into Future Country. Behind him lay half a dozen novels, most of which had good or fine reviews, and most of which are still selling moderately well and being read today. But mention Huxley and most people will name the one they know him by, Brave New World.

At the time it was published, much of the novel was fresh and innovative, properly cynical about human behavior and, at times, verging on territory laid out by Evelyn Waugh. Later on, Huxley and Waugh would indeed meet in the middle of the same cemetery. Huxley to dig graves and plant Hollywood types with his After Many A Summer Dies The Swan and Waugh with his The Loved One another shake of similar bones.

Since its publication, Brave New World has been skinned and boned and borrowed from by dozens of less competent writers who saw the serious fun Huxley had with his story and couldn’t resist imitating it.

As a satire today, reread when some of the things it talked about have moved straight on into our lives, the novel suffers as indeed it did back in 1932, from being a half-job. All the good stuff is up front in the book. Toward the end the fun and the imagination of Huxley diminish. Having the Indian hang himself seemed to me, even when I was younger, a bad solution to a good novel. Even Huxley, in 1952 when I first met him, expressed some doubt about his original ending.

But on his way to the finale, let’s face it, Huxley was the only referee we had for our impeding technological game. With foresight and precision he saw the Pill coming and ducked. He circled round cloning long before it became a tv Tale show mini-debate by mini-minds pretending to offer, as a result to most of us, mini-news. The drug culture of today noon occupied Huxley’s mind at breakfast 45 years back, long before he sprinkled mescaline on his Wheaties. While he was at it, old Aldous invented and reinvented the machined pornographies that have infiltrated our cinemas to slumber us better than Nembutal and bore us more than family picnics, well beyond 1984. And if we have not as yet birthed his ‘feelies’ into our world, we are on the thin dumb rim of doing so.

If there is a zero for failure to imagine at the center of the novel, and this radio play, it is the inability of Huxley (and Orwell, too later on) to in any way recognize or prophesy Space Travel. This may well be because of the time we lived in, then, when the Space Age seemed so remote, so impossible, that it could not be entered on any imaginary ledger to tip the scales toward an equally improbable better if not happy ending.

This was revealed in a lecture which I shared with Huxley onstage at UCLA some time in the early Sixties. Speaking first, he wondered again and again, what the next great development in literature might be.

I was stunned. In sat in my chair hardly daring to rise and deliver my speech, for suddenly my evening had changed. I had intended to make a few remarks about why I wrote what I wrote, but suddenly here was Huxley asking and not answering what was, to me, anyway, an obvious question with an obvious answer. What would the next great literature be?

Science Fiction! I wanted to shout. Good Grief and Jumping Jehoshaphat! Science Fiction!

Since every problem you can name in our time has to do with science and technology (name one that doesn’t) what else us there to write about except Pills, technological drugs, automobiles, smog, nuclear power, solar energy, space travel, tv, radio, transistors, free-ways, all, all of them scientific extensions of scientific dreams.

I rose and did not shout it. But I rose and said it, quietly, out of deference to my author hero.

Huxley shook my hand after the lecture and smiled at me with that dry quiet smile of his, and we spoke of Space Travel and how it might have changed Brave New World if he had thought to consider it in the full.

I still wish today that I might take his ghost to Cape Canaveral and whisk him to the top of the Vehicle Assembly Building where I have gone to stare down, with a wildly beating heart at the topmost part of the Apollo rockets lying ready below to give us alternative futures. We are not doomed to stay on Earth and share Huxley’s Indian suicide or Orwell’s Big Brother. When the time is ripe, we will just up and ‘go’.

All this said, when we return to the radio show, here captured to remind us once more that CBS, of all the radio networks, was the most open, the most adventurous, the most creative. Considering the year it was broadcast, 1956, long before Playboy made its real impact on our country, it is a fascinating work, of much imagination and good taste.

Let me step aside now, I have shouted my quiet shout. The next voice you’ll hear, a lovely gentleman’s voice, is that of Aldous Huxley. Would that he were alive today, for anther teatime chat and another long look into a sometimes dubious, sometimes exhilarating Future.

Ray Bradbury
Los Angeles
May 16, 1979

[Many thanks to Bill Hollweg and Rick]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Anthony Boucher’s All Stars: 52 best SF books (+6 More) and 12 Fantasy books

April 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction - October1958

The “All Star Anniversary Issue” of Fantasy And Science Fiction Magazine (for October 1958) featured famed editor Anthony Boucher’s regular “Recommending Reading” column – but with a twist. In celebration of the magazine’s 9th anniversary Boucher challenged himself to create a list of “Fifty Review Copies I Would Not Part With.” He failed in this herculean task – he just couldn’t pair down the list to fifty (even by restricting what would qualify in a number of ways). Instead, he ended up listing 52 Science Fiction novels or collections that he had no hand in publishing, another six that he did, and twelve Fantasy titles that were absolute must keepers as well. Of them Boucher wrote:

“These are novels and collections which have, from 1949 through 1957, given intense pleasure to a man professionally, obligated to read every s.f. book published in America; and I venture the guess that any reader, novice or habitué of our field, will find stimulation and delight in a high number of these titles.”

That’s good enough for me! I have reproduced as Boucher listed them (in alphabetical order by author). But I’ve added links to extant audiobook editions:

Boucher’s 52 best SF books:
Brain Wave by Poul Anderson |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov [COLLECTION] |READ OUR REVIEW|
The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov |READ OUR REVIEW|
The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov |READ OUR REVIEW|
Earth Is Room Enough by Isaac Asimov [COLLECTION]

The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester

The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury [COLLECTION] |READ OUR REVIEW|

What Mad Universe by Fredric Brown
The Lights In The Sky Are Stars by Fredric Brown
Angels And Spaceships by Fredric Brown [COLLECTION]

Cloak Of Aesir by John W. Campbell [COLLECTION]

No Blade Of Grass / The Death Of Grass by John Christopher |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|

Prelude To Space by Arthur C. Clarke
Expedition To Earth by Arthur C. Clarke [COLLECTION]
Against The Fall Of Night (and The City And The Stars) by Arthur C. Clarke

Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement

The Wheels Of If by L. Sprague de Camp [COLLECTION]
Rogue Queen by L. Sprague de Camp

Nerves by Lester Del Rey

Eye In The Sky by Philip K. Dick |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

The Third Level by Jack Finney [COLLECTION]

The Man Who Sold The Moon by Robert A. Heinlein [COLLECTION]
The Green Hills Of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein [COLLECTION] |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|BOOKS ON TAPE|CAEDMON|

Bullard Of The Space Patrol by Malcolm Jameson

Takeoff by C.M. Kornbluth
The Explorers by C.M. Kornbluth [COLLECTION]
Not This August by C.M. Kornbluth

Gather, Darkness by Fritz Leiber
The Green Millennium by Fritz Leiber |WONDER AUDIO|

The Big Ball Of Wax by Shepherd Mead

Shadow On The Hearth by Judith Merrril

Shadows In The Sun by Chad Oliver
Another Kind by Chad Oliver [COLLECTION]

A Mirror For Observers by Edgar Pangborn

The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth

The Other Place by J.B. Priestly [COLLECTION]

Deep Space by Eric Frank Russell [COLLECTION]

Untouched by Human Hands by Robert Sheckley [COLLECTION]

City by Clifford D. Simak [COLLECTION] |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|
Strangers In The Universe by Clifford D. Simak

Without Sorcery by Theodore Sturgeon [COLLECTION]
The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|
More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Slan by A.E. van Vogt |BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA|
The Weapon Shops and The Weapon Makers by A.E. van Vogt

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. |AUDIBLE MODERN VANGUARD|

A Martian Odyssey by Stanley Weinbaum [COLLECTION] |LIBRIVOX|

The Throne Of Saturn by S. Fowler Wright

The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|
Re-Birth/The Chrysalids by John Wyndham |AUDIBLE FRONTIERS|

Excellent titles that had origins on the pages of Fantasy And Science Fiction:

Bring The Jubilee by Ward Moore

Tales From Gavagan’s Bar by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp [COLLECTION]

The Sinister Researches Of C.P. Ransom by H. Nearing Jr. [COLLECTION]

One In Three Hundred by J.T. McIntosh

The Star Beast by Robert A. Heinlein |FULL CAST AUDIO|
The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Boucher’s best dozen Fantasy books:

The Devil In Velvet by John Dickson Carr

Fancies And Goodnights by John Collier [COLLECTION]

The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison |MARIA LECTRIX|

The Circus Of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney

The Private Memoirs And Confessions Of A Justified Sinner by James Hogg

Fear by L. Ron Hubbard |GALAXY PRESS|

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson [COLLECTION] |BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA|

The Ghostly Tales by Henry James [COLLECTION]

Pogo by Walt Kelly

Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis |BLACKSTONE AUDIO|

Further Fables For Our Times by James Thurber [COLLECTION]

The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien |RECORDED BOOKS|

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Princess And The Tin Box by James Thurber

May 26, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

First published in The New Yorker‘s September 29, 1945 issue, The Princess And The Tin Box is a short story by James Thurber that popped up onto my radar screen today. The screen read “fairy tale.” But, the more I think about it, the more I think The Princess And The Tin Box is actually more fable than straight-up fairy tale. Still, fairy tales and fables do go hand-in-hand, skipping through the minefield of morality (that’s just over the knolls of neurosis and just through the copse of everlasting obscuration). Either way both types of stories play upon our expectations. That’s the thing, in a realm where anything can happen, you’re supposed to be a wise reader if you’ll pause, every so often, and drop a metaphorically indigestible breadcrumb, making especially sure to take note of precisely where you placed it.

Posted by Jesse Willis