Talked about on today’s show:
1951, the really annoying way Heinlein does things, Paul’s main Heinlein phase (in the late 1980s), when Paul was ten, Time Enough For Love, Expanded Universe, the basic parts of a Heinlein novel (in terms of characters), the Heinleinian triad, the young talented protagonist, the older wise crotchety man, and the red headed woman character, who The Man In The High Castle was, when Dick writes a novel…, when Heinlein writes a novel…, methamphetamine is 100% non-habit forming (?!), Jesse is uncomfortable with surety, Heinlein exudes surety from every pore of his body, orbital mechanics, what women want, Bruce Jenner’s gender switch, Heinlein’s politics, black people, women should be raised up in society, homophobia, Mary’s super-power is gaydar, homosexuality, asexuality, marriage, men and women are identical, “of course husband”, the alien is the husband, the structure, the final chapter, in case the mission to Titan fails, message in a bottle storytelling, first person perspective, surety undercuts it, has Dick ever written in first person?, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Hanging Stranger, identical paranoia, how much he hates the Soviets, Heinlein was rabidly anti-communist, in the commissar’s office, WorldCon, God help us all, he was right but…, imagine if this novel is a metaphor for communism, the Second Red Scare, Soviet and Chinese communism, WWWII, Manhattan crater and Washington crater, projecting brawn, getting tanks to North America, the evil of the puppet master aliens, orgies on TV is bad, also gladiatorial combat, they kill cats!, no effect on Soviet Russia, hygiene, scabies and lice, parasitism, cranked up to 13, Saddam Hussein, U.S. politics, if it were re-written today…, core fears, 24 was that, looking at the structure, avenging the cats and dogs, a master of the craft, Luke Burrage, that is good writing, so different from Philip K. Dick’s books, a straight line vs. how did I get here, all the sins that Time Enough For Love, naked people standing around in cushioned apartments talking about legal matters regarding the decanting of babies while a cat walks into the room, get passed the cat, Pirate the cat, casual nudity, Eric S. Rabkin, making it absolutely necessary that the society go nudist (and never go back), Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp, combs, even in Heinlein’s kids books, in their dome homes the heat is cranked up, was Heinlein a nudist?, Hollywood, downhill after The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I Will Fear No Evil, an old white guy living in the body of a young black woman, the US Navy, hate and love for the military, this weird guy from Missouri writes his consciousness into his books, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Friday, rape, when Heinlein talks about rape…, an artificial person, an inferiority complex, a fascinating society, the movie of The Puppet Masters, the fun stuff, the cat, the alien was kissing, being devoured by a woman, Eric Thal opens his mouth whenever possible, Sam, Mary, why does everyone hate this movie so much, Donald Sutherland, Keith David is always fun, unlike every X-Files this was competent, yeah look it’s a fake, the slugs are really smart, were they smart?, the sequence where Sam first gets a slug on his back is one of the best bits of Science Fiction, its almost as if he doesn’t know, more insidious and more scary, tying it all together, helicopter vs. skycar, Heinlein loves incest, they do juice you up, the addiction metaphor, had Dick developed it…, an Olympic athlete, what’s undercooked, who is in charge of their own minds, choices under some conditions but not under others, if we all had slugs on our backs…, getting married to Mary, love of a good woman ends addiction, black and white, Joe Cinidella is actually Italian until he becomes a Nazi, a flipped switch, turning on the waterworks, operating as a slug, Glory Road, set in fairlyand, Nebraska, all about the contract, an ambivalent relationship with marriage and law, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, alpha husbands and beta wives, primae noctis, you get into their psychology, really weird people, WWII and methamphetamines, go pills, tempus fugit, chasing the cat, is Heinlein challenging us?, Star Trek: Operation: Annihilate (aka Planet of the Pancakes), Maissa Bessada, resetting the show at the end of the episode, another point of Vulcan physiology, Kirk’s brother is named “Sam”, Mary is the vessel for world piece, Heinlein sued the makers of The Brain Eaters, Star Trek: The Next Generation, there’s no money until the Ferengi show up, Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy of the post scarcity economy, maybe women did act that way in the 1950s, a sequel in which Mary is saved from her marriage, 1980s tropes, sex scenes, Mission Impossible movies, developing out of taboos, the PG-13 effect, “they’re boffing, ok”, Alien, giant penis monster, Aliens, James Cameron’s problems with Harlan Ellison and The Terminator, The Outer Limits, The Brain Eaters, lifting things out of literary SF, Avatar is very good lifting, redoes the the first movie and the first, Luc Besson, The Professional, adding a baby doesn’t make things better, Ellen Ripley, the corporate military mission, Newt (from Aliens) is Mary (from The Puppet Masters), garbage bunk vs. good orbital mechanics, feral child, the structure is the same, spacesuit -> fighting suit, ejecting from the ship -> ejecting from the planet, a powerful story, Alien 3, Paul fulminates, the nine day fever (Venusian Jungle Fever), encephalitis, The Puppet Masters is a retelling of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, here’s how I would do it, H.G. Wells was a cynical asshole, monstrous, liars, jerks, and racists, our CIA operatives know what they’re doing, the NSA, “you just killed a guy for no reason”, it isn’t uncaring wisdom that save humanity it’s man’s ingenuity, root em out and kill em all, it’s the end of Starship Troopers, the Elves of Titan, Independence Day aliens, Welcome to Earth scene, Have Space Suit, Will Travel, Willy Wonka-style, a space alien cop (the Mother Thing), “who lives like that?”, if Heinlein had had a kid, the serial was slightly rewritten by Horace Gold, the unexpurgated version, 1980s movie style, a hook-up with an anonymous blonde from a bar, the trope for James Bond, Virginia Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, it is not better, weird names, Biblical names, Mary’s real name, Sam’s real name is Elihu, in the Book of Job, Elihu’s big speech
Elihu states that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity.
putting us on the right path, x is so bad that we have to put all our trust in…., our precious bodily fluids, if Heinlein were alive today…, Ray Bradbury, the NSA, anarchism, Mary’s backstory, the Whitmanites, an explicit mention of the Doukhobors, Heinlein just likes nudity, Heinlein likes his women to older or a lot younger, physically young but actually older, a young secretary with an old man’s brain, The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, lots of surgeries or whatever, shrugging it off, a different experience than back in the day, you must read ancient authors, for another podcast, you don’t know SFF if you don’t read…, shame at not reading The War Of The Worlds, can you find Heinlein books at new bookstores?, Alfred Bester is great but he wrote two books, genre defining or pioneering, well-written idea SF, almost no science, a bit of politics, marriage, you don’t know SFF if you havent read a Heinlein novel, a long discussion for another time.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Ace Books F-251, December 12th, 1963, The Man In The High Castle, nominations, a worthy follow-up?, a high bar, somehow I ended up in a taxi with no memory of how I got there, whaaah?, bluff (the game), the landed class of a depopulated earth, Monopoly, Candlyland, Liar’s Dice, the game of Life, dice, cards, spins, their powers of imagination, just so ridiculous, Marissa really liked it, a short story by Dick, Jupiter, test the game on the kids, there’s something to this, the way we conceive of how Philip K. Dick wrote his novels, we know almost everything about H.P. Lovecraft, but Dick was a talker not a letter writer, one aspect of Dick’s life, the game aspect, sitting around playing Monopoly is an obsessive horrible experience, egomania, weirdly emphatic, very philosophical, if Monopoly was a real thing… (and it kind of is), it has very little to do with skill, lots of luck, Peter Garden had a rough night and got into an argument with his car, the car scenes, the cars are some of the most realized characters in the book, the elevator spills its guts, simulated personalities, doors and elevators and cars, the Rushmore effect, a kettle that reports on you, how the rushmore circuit got installed in everything, the Talky Toaster episode of Red Dwarf, AI circuits, Mork & Mindy, Pocatello, Idaho, Berkley, California, New Mexico, the plot, Earth has been subjugated by the Vugs, nuclear war, immortality, bindmen, the Titanians, that’s not the plot, the Earth-Titan War, sterilizing most of the earth, factions of Vugs, are the Vugs trying to live on Earth, living like humans, a lot of telepaths, The Pirates Of Penzance, Mr. Tagomi’s lin: “Things are seldom what they seem, Skim milk masquerades as cream”, the key for Dick to doing that cool thing, Pete Garden’s visit to Titan, they change the reality of what’s on Pete’s card, Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, Joe Schilling, that little hint, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, a really cool cipher, please tell me if I’m human or not, psionics, telepathy, had Dick taken it even farther, Dick and his characters are on speed in this book, checklist of Dick themes, homeopapes, boobs, marital infidelity, the men are the major players, are they trading property and women?, the reason I have to get divorced…, having a baby is national news, somebody in Ontario had a baby, why is their syndicate called “pretty blue fox?”, NATO-style call codes, ham radio enthusiasts, PBF, two or three books back, robot brains on little carts (the Lazy Dogs), childish, Now Wait For Last Year, Dick is teaching his kids, children’s culture that we forget when we are adults, if I was to pop out a baby next year, distraction techniques, maybe as a social dating thing, another glimpse into Dick’s life, a playful book, character names, a couple named Angst, a guy named Calomine, Lucky Luckman, Mr. Gains, a cop named Hawthorne, sin (Nathaniel Hawthorne), the Vugs had initials, E.B. Black, E.G., a clue for us, a moderate vug, a very soft occupation, interpolation of the vugs into Earth’s society, the U.S. occupation of Japan after WWII, okay, I guess we’re playing the game, a way to encourage humans to keep breeding, the depopulated earth, that record store in New Mexico, a village sort of feel to the novel, in other novels, his core set (of characters), a haunted landscape, Peter Garden, Pete as a symbol for infidelity, importing a wife in for him, she bites the rabbit paper, a little more kosher, Garden, a story, a very short story by Dick called Out In The Garden, a wife and her duck, a duck in a suitcase, grocery shopping and getting her hair done, Sir Francis the drake, a poem by Yates, Leda And The Swan, Zeus turns into a swan and rapes a woman, a poem about sexual assault, Helen of Troy, a fantasy story about a woman who has had a relationship with her duck, a guy is cuckolded by a duck, Dick is always worried about his wife cheating on him, Sylvia, name puns, not even probable, Freya, the goddess of fertility, Carol, Pat McLean, an eight year old sought after by a 200 year old man, that crazy big bender, gotta go take all the drugs (like it is his job), the ending fake out with the drugs, getting precog abilities when taking meth, double blind (or double bluff?), a cold war metaphor, like poker with even more random elements, Solar Lottery, pairing books, different cultured futures, what is destiny and fate?, a completely legitimate way to go, instead of a meritocracy or a democracy, let’s just magnify this out a bit, well, that marriage didn’t work out, Eye In The Sky, a group in the same way, Inception, whose dream is it this time?, a clique of people you spend time with, it’s about Dick’s personal life, social dynamics, intruding on things, the outsider vs. the insider, Dick divorces his wife Sally but that’s okay because John likes her and…, Sally brings his new boyfriend in from the east coast, success, the pseudopodia robot cleaner, riper and ready for potential citizens, the non-bindmen, how did that happen?, now you can have all the property in California, the Jack Gaughan cover, what’s going on?, a stack of deeds, there’s not enough detail to reconstruct this game in reality, Jesse says “undercooked” a lot, the human squares, rolling is spinning (maybe), I hate Monoply (but I really do hate it), it fascinates us, a brilliant horrible strategy, controlling the housing supply, brilliant and evil, everything to do with Monopoly is horrible, the origin story of Monopoly (the Landlords Game), showing the evils of capitalism, trusts roll-in, he stole the game, her idea is thrown out and the rules she lays out in Monopoly actually occur, the ironies of Life, a horrible game, it happens within the family, you can see it coming, it’s crushing, what are the vugs playing for?, playing for a life on Earth, what Luckman’s doing, the vugs got so entranced with the game they created that they are subsumed by it, crass to gain power (instead of playing it for a lark), he’s trying to crush the kids, I don’t wanna play that game, Jesse’s housing costs are because of how others are playing the game of life, they’re playing the game wrong, live read books then later die (there’s no winning), a way to spend a rainy afternoon with your kids, the psionic talents, telekinesis, telepathy, precognition, Pat gets a bit of the precog’s point of view, the precogs could be wrong, finally methamphetamine does a good thing, all the layers of deception, it was kind of exciting and leavened with dollops of humour, Max the passive-aggressive car, driving Joe down the bumpy street, so many good scenes, a little bit of Ubik, it’s in our future, a lot of technology talking to characters, coming up soon, AG-Chemi from The Simulacra, like a parallel world, if you take the rules of any one Dick novel…, using JJ-180, I love Philip K. Dick’s mind, The Cosmic Puppets, Peter and Mary, he re-uses names, one could very easily, a Philip K. Dictionary, the checklist, he’s such a fnool, The War With The Fnools, the wonderful thing about a book like this, unofficial Harry Potter encyclopedias and concordances, unlike Lovecraft, S.T. Joshi, Robert M. Price, the Journal Of Philip K. Dick studies, how many of the stories use the name Pete or Peter, homeopapes and autofacs, the rabbit paper, there’s a story called Autofac, we’d buy the heck out of that book, do it as a blog put it together as a book.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
Or How We Got Along After The Bomb, a Nebula Award Nominee?, why this novel?, Now Wait For Last Year, The Man In The High Castle, the ideas are awesome, confusingly written, before the bomb, the earlier atomic blast, jumping back and forth without warning, a subtle change, quasi-flashbacks, a straightforward timeline, jumping between the characters, head hopping, Hoppy Harrington, the Dick themes, Bill’s ability, getting confused, body-switching, consciousness projection, who is Bill?, the parasitic twin brother, Beyond Lies The Wub, the captain is gone, a theme in this story (other than with Bill), telekinetic ability, taking Walt Dangerfield’s place, a weird comedy bit, impressions, is anybody in that satellite at all?, it sounds like him, is Hoppy dead?, he went to Heaven (the satellite), the audiobook narrator’s (Tom Weiner’s) interpretation, bad writing?, dear god!, psychoanalysis, creepy, a mad god resentful of his treatment, the killing of Bluthgeld, something very cool going on, the reason we read Philip K. Dick novels, the Philip K. Dick radio (and other audio interviews), Dick was easily manipulated, you’re an alcoholic, getting into jewelry, a super-impressionable guy, a Zelig, a very human thing (multiplied), Jesse has reviewed himself out, Jesse’s review of Dr. Bloodmoney: a radio repairman with no limbs…, a big fish in a small pond, what Dick knows, an avid mushroom picker, interacting with themselves, a talking sheepdog, Stuart McConchie’s horse, cheating wives, the dog, the rat that plays a nose-flute, he stole the story … but it became part of him (and thus his story), he is a part of her, he is literally inside of her, when someone tells you a story…, classic Dick touches, Cheyenne, a pastoral existence, like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge, they’re crunching their granola, playing video games while listening to audiobooks, Fallout 3, full of mutants, a bit of racism, the second novel with a phocomelus protagonist, Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, supernatural powers, some life crisis, lifts from stories, The Great C, Of Withered Apples, “In Earth’s Diurnal Course”, a title for marketing, Dr. Strangelove, Bluthgeld as Henry Kissinger, Operation Paperclip, Robert McNamara, bone viruses, gooks, the half-baked, Marissa’s Fallout game, post-nuclear war, E-Day (Emergency Day), starts and ends on a morning, one of PKD’s tricks, Vulcan’s Hammer, Now Wait For Last Year, re-resonance, mutants going about their business, thing about the freaks, being that had been fused together, kind of beautiful, the rat pulling a little cart, one of the rat traps is also scurrying, the pizza rat meme, food and other essentials, radiation tablets, the mutants will be fine, the cats, cats start planning and scheming, Paul’s pic of the Roman cat, Mike Cole, ancient history, dancing pigeons, it sang for it’s supper, ruins inhabited by cats, Villa Appia, a rabbit, rabbits in the ruins, Hoppy’s plan, Looper, telekinetic powers, Hoppy is kind of like the Rainmaker, he heals a watch-spring, Galactic Pot-Healer, a technopath, recycling ideas, School For Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough, Brian K. Vaughn’s Ex Machina, the power to command mechanical objections, superhero comics, consistency, Mr. Pistorius (gets murdered), Bluthgeld is insane right?, does he have abilities?, if there is a viewpoint character… Mary Sueing?, Dick is Bluthgeld, we get deep inside his mind, the switch between dialogue and inner monologue, responsibility, his mistaken calculation, you can take it ambiguously, a catalyst for changing the world, his name, Dick likes German names, Mister Jack Tree, Mister Tree, jackfruit, the story of Odin (hung on a tree for nine days), myster tree?, there’s something central about him, undercooked, Hoppy’s desires and plans drive the plot, goals and ambitions, did Hoppy cause the war?, why am I eating this rat?, money is useless, a hoarder, cigarettes, coffee, Philip K. Dick predicted video games, the bottlecaps (are money), a haorder style game, Stuart McConchie is a modern game player, crafting, the boss, a real life boss, very autobiographical, did Dick know an armless and legless person?, Dick’s obsession with his dead twin sister, the whole “I can see into the land of the dead” thing, monstrous children, rock paper scissors, an angry little child, a snail, real senses, the owl, into Hoppy, where did Hoppy go?, into Dangerfield, Dangerfield had something growing inside him, California, so sad, his wife’s still up there with him, another drug overdose, marriage, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, The Little Movement by Philip K. Dick, Toy Story, Jesse explains the plot of The Little Movement, kinda freaky, an alien invasion fleet, the other toys, the kid is freaked out, everything is going wrong, a very dark Toy Story, by breaking the fourth wall he’s broken a rule, “that’s this book, kinda”, …because I like Germans, so many cool ideas, confusing, so many people, the central axis of what’s happening, Bonnie’s sleeping around, typical PKD wife stuff, petty office politics after the end of the world, post-apocalyptic travel is hard, Russians and Japanese on Catalina, on the other hand…, it’s not all bad, he’s going to automate his cigarette stuffing, hippies hanging out and doing hippy stuff, more about the alcohol, this podcast is petering out, sorry Mr. PKD, it’s not a great book, not the greatest bull-session ever, that sheep dog with no money, catch the stick, good comedy, kind of tragic, he is a monster (but you feel for him), a really good set-up, he got mistreated, surviving and not becoming bitter about it, Dangerfield isn’t bitter, what do they do in Russia, maybe there’s a bunch of other satellites up there, why did this get a Nebula nomination?, we are happy to have read it, whatever’s next on out list…
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1937, Jesse has a radical thesis, is this book a true story?, I’m not really happy I just think that I am, Alice In Acidland, drugs, what do we mean by true?, arachnoids and ikthyoids, a summary of Last And First Men, the unnamed narrator, astral projection, the contents of this book, not history but a personal experience (of imagination), standing on a hill, an interesting fantasia, considering the size of the universe, Star Trek with Nazi costumes is possible and perhaps even inevitable, The Truman Show, the nature of infinity, an Italian who would be perfectly happy to use the word true about this book, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.”, bitterness, Dante Alighieri, a lyric poem, Olaf Stapledon was a philosopher, a blazing panoply, an image of the rose, OS, “One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.”, an abiding faith, the original meaning of comedy, comedies end in marriage, sitcoms, both narrators acknowledge their psychological state, an exponential rhythm, overhead obscurities in flight, a Doppler shift, the other Earth, Bvalltu, a composite character, planets – > solar systems -> galaxies, a fractal experience, an encompassing wisdom, marriage as a small atom of community, spirit inhabited rock, a World War I novel, 1986, Eric taught Star Maker to Bryan, memories imbricated upon each other, the preface, Stapledon was an ambulance driver in WWI, looming WWII, militarism, seeing the sunny side of a ruined planet, Merseyside, too smashed up to really be alive, a 1930s novel, fascism vs. communism, how to organize the self and society, a secular myth, a shock to civilization, the cycle of mechanization, terrible mutations, the onset of the tank, a sense of horror, WWI and WWII as two different episodes, the Spanish Civil War, shaking off colonialism, materialistic industrialization, the only wait out is an act of faith, how can we not think of the Star Maker as a monster, “struck dumb with shame”, limitations of the audio medium, Bryan’s keyboard, C.S. Lewis, why C.S. Lewis didn’t like Star Maker, a Lewis-nemesis, crusades, the Great War on Terror (2 decades old), mindless religious violence, anticipations of subsequent Science Fiction, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, two 20th century philosophies, Freud and Marx, neurosis and sublimation, genitals with sense organs, radio pornography, the feelies from Brave New World, crisis of labour, ideologies as philosophical artifacts, not Dave Singer, separated by space and time, supplementary parentheses, adduction of Christianity, three linked universes, playing for the souls of the creatures, a timeless heaven and a timeless hell, Earth, Mars, and Venus in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, suffering for the redemption of the Earth, explicitly not a Christian view, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as a response to a paragraph in Star Maker, all the Christs of all the worlds, “a basket of Christs”, this is Arthur C. Clarke, a tour of Science Fiction in the future, this is The Mote In God’s Eye, The High Crusade, the novel itself is a universe, cosmos vs. universe, Jesse’s theory about the Game Of Thrones universe in the TV show, what Clarke does this in slight watercolours Stapledon paints in bold oils on a massive canvas, Arthur C. Clarke’s life changing moment, copying out the scales of magnitude, Bryan’s son, encapsulating, it is Stapledon, Dante is Dante in The Divine Comedy, The Divine Comedy as political revenge, Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, Stapledon is not a punishment guy, when Lovecraft looks out of the universe…, when Stapledon looks at the same vista he’s not as melancholy about it, The Cats Of Ulthar, contemporaries, philosophical horror, long distance psychology, like Poe, fairy tales, handling fears, we get to feel, this is an education effort, quite special, a genre issue, the roller-coaster moment, looking at the vocabulary, eldritch and ichor, lucidity, feeling, the etymology of the word “vermin”,
I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and
living gem revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though
invisible, were some of the most congested centers of human population.
There below me lay huge industrial regions, blackening the air with
smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly momentous enterprise had
made no mark whatever on the features of the planet. From this high
look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before the dawn of
man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could have
guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering,
self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.
the stellar wars, too lucid for more tribal patterns, sympsychic partnership, angelic vermin, more real than all the stars, like two close trees grown together, difference can be strength, the Orson Welles radio version of The War Of The Worlds, versus the Martians our differences don’t make a hill’s worth of difference, The Lord Of The Rings, looking for the Ents and the Entwives, there are Ents in Star Maker, the holy sex transmission that never got off, the ships worlds,
It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to
see the foam circling under one’s own nose as the vessel plunged through
the waves, to taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past
one’s flanks, to feel the pressure of air on the sails as one beat up
against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line the rush and murmur
of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom’s configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the
under-water ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a
hurricane, to feel the masts straining and the sails threatening to
split, while the hull was battered by the small but furious waves of
that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great living
ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their
yellow or russet sails to the wind’s variations; and very strange it was
to realize that these were not man-made objects but themselves conscious
Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one
another’s sails with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another’s
soft “decks” with metal knives, or at a distance firing at one another
with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it was to feel in the presence
of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to carry out with
her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed
the love-play of this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled,
grapple her to one’s flank, and board her with sexual invasion. It was
charming, too, to see a mother ship attended by her children. I should
mention, by the way, that at birth the young were launched from the
mother’s decks like little boats, one from the port side, one from the
starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough
weather and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our
visit natural sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and
propeller which were fixed to the stern.
nothing like this in Science Fiction, Lloyd Abbey’s The Last Whales, an elegiac book, another sub-genre of Kindle based pornography, much of William Wordsworth’s poetry is admired too simply, Eric reads Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, the houses with windows like sleeping eyes, watching the lives of dreams, the houses are sleeping not the people within them, the smokeless air, lying still, what makes the beauty, The World Is Too Much With Us, a cry for God, Fungi From Yuggoth (IX): The Courtyard by H.P. Lovecraft:
It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.
The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!
deemed unfit, body horror, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, ever more capacious mentalities, being taught by groups, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Inner Light, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant as a horrible version of this, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, Boneland by Jeffrey Thomas, from a microscopic perspective, these things pass, bodyless timelords, a swarm of locusts, eugenics, Chapter 9, cultural and eugenical means, The King In Yellow (The Repairer Of Reputations) by Robert W. Chambers, the lethal chamber, Futurama, Providence, Alan Moore, criticism of Moore, turning everything Lovecraft hates into love, Last And First Men was a bestseller in 1930, the fifth generation, the Martian hive-mind, what is the moral ideal that Stapledon hopes that we move toward?, individuality in community, a literary allusion, a race on Venus, from epoch to epoch, that scaling thing again, the problem with fascism, fasces, is this a Darwinian book?, parasitism, symbiosis, evolution, Marx dedicated Capital to Darwin, getting rid of Harper, mutual aid, The World, the Flesh & the Devil by J.D. Bernal, astronomy, Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution), mutual slaughter, profit in fraternization with the enemy, like Rod Serling The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, gentleness as a religion, the entangled bank (in Origin Of Species), functional stability arising out of local possibilities of violence, virtue in the creator is not the same of virtue in the creature, a third position, the sense experience of a star, in the center of this paragraph, free will and determinism are compatible, always bigger, a selfless star, the normal voluntary motor activity of a star, if you empty your ego and just feel others, perfect selflessness allows entrance into perfect community, getting your karma clean, dark matter, the science is pretty damn good, the key word is “lucid”, the vast emptiness enables the insight into the stars, rubies lay behind me, the sky’s familiar diamonds, all possible light, watch Steven Universe, ageless like Star Maker, the tag cloud, world and worlds, Oswald Spengler, growth -> change -> decay, the myth at the end, the course of empire paintings, The Decline Of The West, Arnold J. Toynbee, future histories, we could see if we were lucid, a great Götterdämmerung moment, the Russian civil war, The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, subsequent Science Fiction, for those who haven’t yet read the book…, the most disliked and most liked book, what kind of a novel is this?, an epic poem crossed with a lyric poem, erroneous expectations, feel better about your fishwife and your step children, back to Lovecraft, a writer of ideas, Odd John and Sirius are more like regular novels, Jack London’s Star Rover, more swords fewer wives, Frank Herbert, God Emperor Of Dune, when you frame it that way…, Accelerando by Charles Stross, full time IT professionals writing SF, Ted Chiang and Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang can do anything, lapidary, Jorges Luis Borges wrote an introduction for Star Marker, A Story Between Jest and Earnest, Love and Discord.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1966, in the high end, if you want to know what Philip K. Dick writes, it has everything, interplanetary, pretty-earthbound, marriage issues, resonances with other novels, Eric Sweetscent, a nice Dick protagonist, touchy relationship stuff, “misogynist”, he loves women too much, his “headbasher”, The Search For Philip K. Dick, when he was ending their relationship, impotence, psychoology, a husband-father formula, a teenage alternate girlfriend, Eric is so sweet and so sympathetic, an evil bitch destroying the relationship, sympathetic and pathetic, addiction, JJ-180, drugs, time travel, the robot goes with her, robants, the secret service agents, the bill collector robant, the cab robant, “Sir, we’re not allowed to get married”, the robant that wants a bribe, Total Recall, the secretary with the fingernails that change colour, nude breasts with dye and sparkles, a decorative secretary, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, Blade Runner, wheels, a confusing start, using amoebas to make stuff?, Wash30 = Washington 1930, the Philip K. Dick Fans site, none of this stuff is possible, the print amoeba, really cool writing, “in bed alone”, potent spirits of the past, a graveyard, describing space, is Cheyenne underground?, writing Wyoming again, NORAD?, dialogue vs. description, a nice state capital, “he was enjoying the sight of her dressing”, Lillistar’s secret police, creepy, the Reegs, Gino Molanri, a single medal on his uniform, that’s Hitler!, Gino Molinari is Mussolini, the Earth is Italy and the Star Men are the Nazis, Mussolini is not Hitler, the first fascist dictator, Rimmer from Red Dwarf, not racism but power and glory, when the Americans and the Canadians and the British invade Italy, the soft underbelly of Europe, why Molinari is getting sick, Mussolini’s alpine prison, Otto Skorzeny, rescue/liberate, “Hey, Hitler!”, Molonari is a smart Mussolini, the Reegs are nice, we look like the star-men but we have more in common with the reegs, Tony And The Beetles, telepathic females, one of the weirdest Philip K. Dick stories, a weird ending, the racist father, a frightening story, The Father-Thing, Hansel and Gretel without Gretel: The Cookie Lady, a really creepy story, a quasi sequel or a dry run for Now Wait For Last Year, the same themes, grapefruit sized baseball heavy plastic brains, the lazy brown dogs, the Martian print amoeba, from another Dick story, Colony and Beyond Lies The Wub, attacks by microscopes and towels, “I trusted the rug completely.”, camouflage aliens, when Cathy has her first trip, the history of their tech, matching furs, Virgil, he destroyed the fur industry, killing amoebas is ok?, the fur bearing animals are saved, “furs, that’s the best thing you can think of to do?”, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, monad lazy brown dogs, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, are they dog brains?, fur is not alive in the first place, brains are plastic, both meanings, non-living brains, half a cent, so sweet, super sweet, their attacking each other, animal nature, they are as much alive as we are, their god is black, Himmel = heaven, the martian bat guano business, Molan-air-e, Wash-35, collecting stuff, authentic artifacts, The Thirteenth Floor, and Eye In The Sky, Time Out Of Joint, artificial towns, recreated towns, recapturing youth, a rich person’s game, Pitts39, the robant was lying… wasn’t it?, who is the liar?, strange and weird, a similar character in Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, a flawed god, his unsightly body, shambling, a pathetic figure, it does something to the whole book, first the book takes the shape and then at the end it is fixed, there’s a little animal at the end of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, all this ersatz, Jonas, as dead as a robant, suicide, Tijuana, the absurdity of their jobs, seeing to it that factory-rejects got their place in the sun, “I love this stuff”, strong resonances, Wash35 is a 135 year old man recreating a frozen moment in time, time is NOT frozen, Dick has it every which way, “do you object to a stereotape…”, the orchestra isn’t there, all you possess is 1,200 feet of iron-oxide tape, we live with illusion daily, The Iliad is as much a fake as the robant children trading stamps, old-age making its dread appearance, “have an affair with me doctor”, The Cosmic Puppets, set in Virginia, Dick recreating his childhood, remembering the details, alternate presents, a cloud of possibilities, Tijuana Fur and Dye, “Mrs. Sweetscent, sweetheart”, when Cathy destroys the comedian recordings, Dick’s got some awesome recording…, by the way about that American Weekly with that article on the Sargasso Sea…, the Hearst newspapers, an empty cigarette package, antiques are the mcguffin for The Man In The High Castle, he’s right! we don’t live in the present, tweeting dreams, the internet is more reliable than the sun, it’s always on, the internet never goes off, we are living in a weird illusionary reality, when Cathy gets Korsakoff’s syndrome, all these elements that almost completely come together, the gel doesn’t completely set, there’s so much love for Cathy, the robot says he’s a good man, getting into the female character’s mind, he’s a boob man, so much empathy for people, hate and spite, she’s so mad, a movie star named Marm, the microwave dings, my purpose is to make your life a living hell, “good luck with that”, totally re-readable, I would love it again, we had no idea, what is with Molinari getting diseases from his staff?, his zipper was open, he kills people, we don’t know what’s true about him, he’s using his diseases, pulling a sick-day to avoid meetings, a plot device, sympathy pains, hypochondria, empathizing, the uber-empathizer, Bill Clinton felt your pain, literally, JJ-180 is the main character of this book, playing rope-a-dope with the Star-men, brain-freeze, Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen, Starman (1984), Return To Lilliput, every toddler’s dream, the war like Lilliputians, little Napoleons, we’re getting pushed around by little tiny people, taking slave labour from Earth, so we can win this war, whether the illnesses are real or not they are a great strategy, you can’t have Italy fighting on your side unless you’ve got Mussolini, Molinari is finding the middle ground, admirable, thinking the way Nixon is thinking in the Vietnam War, as we re-experienced with Iraq and Afghanistan, slow or fast peeling a band-aid, a self inflicted wound, an exploratory examination, “Molinari you are awesome”, Molinari is the hero, he saves Eric Sweetscent, so many good resonances, thinking while listening, why this isn’t the best ever Philip K. Dick novel ever.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Puttering About in a Strange Land
By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Luke Daniels, Kate Rudd, Amy McFadden
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours
Themes: / marriage / boarding school / literary / infidelity /
When Roger and Virginia Lindhal enroll their son Gregg in Mrs. Alt’s Los Padres Valley School in the mountains of Southern California, their marriage is already in deep trouble. Then the Lindhals meet Chic and Liz Bonner, whose two sons also board at Mrs. Alt’s school. The meeting is a catalyst for a complicated series of emotions and traumas, set against the backdrop of suburban Los Angeles in the early fifties. The buildup of emotional intensity and the finely observed characterizations are hallmarks of Philip K. Dick’s work.This is a realistic novel filled with details of everyday life and skillfully told from three points of view. It is powerful, eloquent, and gripping.
Puttering About in a Small Land (written 1957 but first published in 1985) feels very different from Philip K Dick’s usual stuff. It’s a dark and funny slow-burn set in 1950s Southern California, but there are no simulacra, no time slips, and no telepaths, and the only artificial reality is the one built out of society’s expectations of suburban married life.
It also seems unusually sensitive for PKD – not in a corny or sentimental way but just finely tuned into human relationships. He captures the subtle and imperfect communications of a dysfunctional marriage where two people are pretending to work together but are really pushing and pulling below the surface, wanting different things and resenting each other for it.
“I’ll be back pretty soon,” he said. From his eyes shone the leisurely, confident look; it was the sly quality that always annoyed her.
“I thought maybe we could talk,” she said.
He stood at the door, his hands in his pockets, his head tilted on one side. And he waited, showing his endurance, not arguing with her, simply standing. Like an animal, she thought. An inert, unspeaking, determined thing, remembering that it can get what it wants if it just waits.
“I’ll see you,” he said, opening the door to the hall.
“All right,” she said.
The story is told in three alternating points of view: Roger, his wife Virginia, and the “other woman” Liz. All three are trapped, one way or another, in self-made realities they don’t enjoy.
Some readers complain that PKD writes unflattering female characters, and as usual these ones aren’t much to admire: Virginia is gossipy and judgmental, her mother is a controlling nag (who often corners Roger and has some of the funniest scenes in the book), and Liz Bonner is so naïve and childlike she verges on the idiotic.
“She’s sort of a—” Mrs Alt searched for the word. “I don’t want to say lunatic. That isn’t it. She’s sort of an idiot with a touch of mysticism.”
But even so, Virginia has her strengths, and Liz Bonner is lovely in a quirky way. Her flaws and naïve unpredictability are exactly what free her from society’s expectations, and are what attract Roger. Despite the deceit and infidelity, their love story is somehow still beautiful.
And to be fair, PKD also writes pretty unflattering men. For example, Roger not only cheats on his wife, he also abandoned his previous wife and daughter and seems to be a compulsive liar. He’s a bristly, bad-tempered, and indifferent to his wife’s gestures of love and compromise. All he really cares about his TV retail-and-repair business, which is where the book title comes from: he’s a little king “puttering about in a small land.”
The waning of a marriage and infidelity appear in a lot of PKD’s stories, but in this one they really drive this plot. Normally I wouldn’t try to detect an author’s own life in his fiction, but since PKD has openly admitted he weaves autobiographical details into all his stories, it seems safe to see something of him in Roger.
His essay “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” might give some more clues to his approach to fiction set in the real world. Just because the characters’ universe is based in reality doesn’t mean PKD won’t try to disintegrate it.
“I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe—and I am dead serious when I say this—do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. … Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live.”
I listened to Puttering About in a Small Land on audio and read the print version too. The audiobook was read by Amy McFadden, Kate Rudd, and Luke Daniels, one for each of the main characters. All three were great, although using three narrators didn’t work so well for me since the story is in third-person. Hearing the same characters read three slightly different ways gave the audiobook a patchwork feel and was a bit jarring and distracting sometimes.
I’d recommend Puttering About in a Small Land for PKD fans but not so much as an entry to his works. For anyone who knows his style, it’s very cool to see a more subtle side of him and to see how beautifully he can write about human relationships in the artificial universe we call reality. Definitely worth the read.
Posted by Marissa van Uden