The SFFaudio Podcast #383 – READALONG: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

August 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

The dedication for The Andromeda Strain

title page for The Andromeda Strain

Algis Budrys review of The Andromeda Strain

Life Magazine review of The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain - illustration by Dusty Abell

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - Random House Audio read by Chris Noth

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #301 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

January 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #301 – Jesse, Scott, Jenny, and Tamahome talk new releases and 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 PrestigeA 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 PlannersSuperEgo 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

The SFFaudio Podcast #095

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #095 – Jesse talks with Professor Eric S. Rabkin about an alternate history novel: SS-GB by Len Deighton.

Talked about on today’s show:
alternate history, Luke Burrage, “if it leaves a lasting impression that says something about its artistic character”, why write alternate history, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, historical fiction, 1941 vs. 1978, what is the relationship between Science Fiction and detective fiction, tales of ratiocination, Fatherland by Robert Harris, the Fatherland TV movie, BBC audio drama, Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle, what would it be like under Nazi rule?, utopia vs. dystopia, fantasy, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Karl Marx, “alternate history does what Science Fiction does without pretending to set it in a logical future – it sets it in a logical past”, racism, bureaucracy in 1978 London, Michael Caine, Operation Sea Lion, why did Len Deighton set SS-GB in 1941?, The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, are historical forces inevitable?, fate and destiny in alternate history, the great man vs. social forces, Adolph Hitler, Alexander The Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, the individual vs. the community, Douglas Archer, if there was a just war it was WWII, the Holocaust, collecting militaria, Spain’s fascist dictatorship, the tale of the great detective, Sherlock Holmes, John le Carré, Agatha Christie, complicated vs. simple (le Carré vs. Christie), fathers and sons, historical fiction, The Battle Of Britain, Inside The Third Reich by Albert Speer, Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, when you’re helping the bad guys aren’t you one of them?, King George VI is a MacGuffin, The King’s Speech, Mackenzie King, police are the most cynical people in the world, the role of ambiguity in fiction, Channel Islands, every fiction is alternate history, is history a collection of things that happened or is it forces and rules?, The Sun Also Rise by Ernest Hemingway, The War Of The Worlds by H.G. Wells, Startide Rising by David Brin |READ OUR REVIEW|, uplift, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, disarming puns, Arma virumque cano, “I can’t imagine anyone smarter than me”, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Remains Of The Day, Pavane by Keith Roberts, Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, Inglourious Basterds vs. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Most Powerful Idea In The World by William Rosen, steam engines (and atmospheric engines).

Posted by Jesse Willis

An upcoming readalong: Len Deighton’s SS-GB

January 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

In SFFaudio Podcast #051 we talked to Professor Eric S. Rabkin. In that show he mentioned a novel which will be the subject of an upcoming SFFaudio Podcast readalong (scheduled to be recorded in mid-February). That 1978 novel is this book:

SS-GB by Len Deighton

SS-GB depicts a Britian under Nazi occupation. It sounds rather similar to two other novels, Robert Harris’ Fatherland and Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle. More specifically, it is set in alternate history world in which Unternehmen Seelöwe (Operation Sea Lion) was a complete success. The novel begins in November 1941, nine months after a German invasion led to the British surrender. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer, a British homicide detective assigned to Scotland Yard, is called in to investigate a murder.

Cool huh? I’m afraid that the audiobook is currently out of print – bringing it new attention may rectify that – but, the paperbook is readily available at paperbook stores.

Here is the printed matter preceding Chapter 1 of SS-GB:
Surrender Of Britain To Germany - February 1941

Posted by Jesse Willis

9 interesting paperbooks (should they be audiobooks?)

December 26, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

There are a ton of cool looking paperbooks in the bookstores these days. Here are 9 paperbooks, that I spotted at Chapters. None of these are available as audiobooks – at least not yet. Should they be? Here’s my take.

#1 – SS-GB by Len Deighton. This was an audiobook, long ago, but it is currently out of print in audio. I have high hopes it will be re-audiobooked sometime in 2011. And I’ll do my darnedest to make it happen.

SS-GB by Len Deighton

#2 – I’m always in favour of audiobooking a paperbook containing both a Donald E. Westlake and a Lawrence Block story. This one would probably have to wait until next November to be a viable audiobook.

Christmas At The Mysterious Bookshop edited by Otto Penzler

#3 – Best American Noir Century, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler. What a crazy title! Though I should point out that in the fine print it reads “The Best American Noir of the Century” – This sounds like it would be a very good listen! With stories by Jim Thompson, James M. Cain and more than a dozen others it ought to have a good dispersionary impact. Reading a best of anthology can also give a quick taste of many authors – which leads to a lot more listening. Sadly, most of the stories actually in it are from the end of the 20th century and some of the one’s I recognize aren’t very noir.* – SEE THE COMMENTS

Best American Noir Century edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler

#4 – He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson – Assuming that such a collection is a good idea to begin with (we have a similar one for Jack Vance) – this is a natural to turn audiobook – it does everything that a regular themed anthology does, but it does it with a guy instead of an idea. Opinions?

He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson

#5 – The Sherlockian by Graham Moore – minimalist cover art rarely works for me. This one totally does. Skimming the back of the book, it sounded rather awesome too!

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore

#6 – Subtitled “A Medieval Noir” this novel, Jeri Westerson’s Veil Of Lies, might be a more dank and dangerous answer to the cozy Brother Cadfael books. Plus I dig the dude with the dagger.

Veil Of Lies: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

#7 – And if the first book in the series is audiobook-worthy, why not the second too? Maybe we ought to see how the first goes?

Serpent In The Thorns: A Medieval Noir by Jeri Westerson

#8 – Doing the public domain shuffle this book plucks several of my interests! What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale Of Henry James And Jack The Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen – And check out that gorgeous cover!

What Alice Knew - A Most Curious Tale Of Henry James And Jack The Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen

#9 – Now this one takes the PD mash-up meme just one step too far for me. Adding zombies to The War Of The Worlds? Really? Martians and zombies? The only reason H.G. Wells isn’t turning over in his grave is because he wouldn’t go zombie – ever! I do like the idea of more guts and blood though.

The War Of The Worlds Plus Blood Guts And Zombies by Eric S. Brown

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #051 – TOPIC: THE YELLOW PERIL

March 22, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #051 – Jesse and Scott are joined by Luke Burrage and Professor Eric S. Rabkin to discuss THE YELLOW PERIL.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer (aka The Mysterious Dr. Fu-Manchu) – available via Tantor Media, fix-up novel, hypnosis, Sherlock Holmes, the yellow peril incarnate, the yellow peril as the hordes of asia, the Chinese Exclusion Act (USA), Chinese Immigration Act, 1923 (Canada), Tamerlane (the scourge of god), The Yellow Peril by M.P. Shiel, The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel, racism, WWI, colonialism, Burma, Thuggees, Boxer Rebellion, genius, The Talons Of Weng Chiang, if you read it as Fu-Manchu being the hero you may like the story more, mad scientist, Faust, Paradise Lost by John Milton, Robur-Le-Conquérant by Jules Verne (aka Robur-The-Conqueror aka The Clipper of the Clouds), The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, The White Man’s Burden by Rudyard Kipling, colonialism, The Invisible Man, the other colored other, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman by Alan Moore, Hawley Griffin (The Invisible Man), Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde, Mina Murray (from Dracula by Bram Stoker), English 418/549: GRAPHIC NARRATIVE (Winter 2010), The Invisible Man shows I and II, If I Ran The Zoo by Dr. Seuss, Jonah And The Whale, Suess’ anti-Japanese propaganda during WWII, Japanese internment during WWII in USA and Canada, Aryan, India, Nazi Germany, The Thule Society, Sri Lanka, racial stereotypes, Marco Polo, Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, gender and skin color, blondness, Karamaneh (the love interest in The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu), femme fatale, Black Widow (1987), miscegenation, the Chinese hordes vs. the insidious Japanese, War With The Newts by Karel Čapek, Japan, LibriVox.org, Sixth Column by Robert A. Heinlein, beauty as goodness (in fairy tales), King Kong, Last And First Men by Olaf Stapledon, Star Maker, The Iliad by Homer, The Old Testament, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame edited by Robert Silverberg, Arena by Fredric Brown, Plato, the red scare, Jack London, The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, Arslan by M.J. Engh, Chung Kuo by David Windgrove, selective memory, polarized memory, Middlemarch by George Eliot, Encounter With Tiber by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes, China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh, Superfusion: How China and America Became One Economy and Why the World’s Prosperity Depends on It by Zachary Karabell, Firefly, Limehouse, London, Detroit, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick |READ OUR REVIEW|, alternate history, SS-GB by Len Deighton, Fatherland by Robert Harris, Gorky Park, North Korea, the North Korea embassy in East Berlin.

The Yellow Peril

The Fiendish Plot Of Fu-Manchu (Thanks Gregg!):

Posted by Jesse Willis