The SFFaudio Podcast #451 – READALONG: Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K. Dick

December 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #451 – Jesse, Paul and Marissa talk about Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1985, 1957, a magnificent novel!, struggling through, Paul is not a fan, opinions about this book, Marissa really enjoyed it, problems, interesting, not a mainstream book, marriage and cheating, Jesse’s gutter definition of mainstream, it has them all beat, an existential novel, mainstreaminess, dread, creeping social order dread, where did it start to go wrong for Paul, why am I listening to this book, technical difficulties, the opening, the school, why am I listening to this?, mimetic fiction, I’m not interested in this, there’s no hook, their lives, the son, the poor victim, Roger recapitulates, his mother-in-law, the inevitability of the break-up of the marriage, his third time, failed relationships, spending time with these people, they’re awful awful, flip-flopped, disregarding the content of the novel…, badly composed Philip K. Dick novels, he’s really smooth, most beautiful in a few places, a way for Paul to get through this novel, Jesse’s last theory, the Mexicans are not really Mexicans (they’re Martians), what the heck are you talking about, Martian Time-Slip, his autistic son, he gives his son to the Martians, put on the lap of one of the hitchhikers, psychology, moving to Chicago with a load of stolen televisions, a secret science fiction novel, becoming a science fiction novel for a moment, at the point where it would spin fantastic… its averted, ruminating and undercutting, when Jesse reads and Isaac Asimov mystery, mind bendy, under Galactic Pot-Healer, no access to higher beings or aliens who live across the street, Lord Running Clam, well and truly lost, there’s no way out other than to move about, Puttering About vs. puttering around, what is this thing about, its not really about anything, when Virginia talks about her husband, she’s made this mistake, the mores of the 1950s, waiting for her husband to screw up, Roger is a prat, they’re all Philip K. Dick, Mrs. Alt, the teachers are all robots, The Simulacra, the math teacher, the horses, the character realization is amazing, all real people, the TV repairman, R. Childan from The Man In The High Castle, a fascinating book for anybody who wants to go deep on Philip K. Dick, you have to let it hypnotize you, bootstrapping opportunities, being in the right mood for things, if you classify this book differently, this is a crime novel scene, they commit adultery and that’s a crime, James M. Cain, adulterous relationships, the Greek fate track they get on, a car-wreck of murder and sex and love, if I was in this car…, tearing him down, he married into this, there’s no escape, a horror, a horrible human being, horrible people, being terrorized and terrified and having no escape, good writing, feeling something coming, a payoff, what all the school means, what (other than the fact that this actually happened) does this mean?, like he was experiencing this stuff, screw you all, feeling the tedium, attention to detail, open and closed to the experience, little kid psychology, sometimes adults have a greater wisdom and experience than the kid, an emotional sponge, to get that cheque, Mrs Alt is a change, the chickens and the eggs, that chicken scene is straight out of The Father Thing, old and mouldy and rotten down to the center of the earth, its turning science fiction its turning fantasy, its turning PKD!, his brother, a multiple reality thing, it wouldn’t take much to flip it into a science fiction story, Paul remembers he hated mimetic fiction, A New Apartment, I hate these people, Paul nearly failed reading in seventh grade (because of the books they gave him), A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, mis-classified, listening to my neighbours talking about their marriage, the periodness of it, a picture of the 1950s that is so complete, immersed into the 1950s, oh this is a real place, this is a real time, so many scenes, The Hanging Stranger, the basement, everything in his 1950s town is exactly the same except for the corpse hanging from a lamp post, lynching, transparency into a social reality, the racism, he didn’t mutter it quietly enough, teeth flying all over the street and he deserved it, seeing the consequence, it felt so real, so visceral, what happened?, explaining to his wife, refusing to go to the dentist like a little kid, new horrors to come, he’s constantly putting himself into these horrible situations, how great is the rage trip?, raging at the whole world, every middle class white guy’s fear, the emotional experiences, perfectly encapsulated, maybe this was written by a woman, Liz is a fantasy character, Upon The Dull Earth, digging the trench, all the other stories reflected, a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, a waking dream, in a very PKD sense, you can’t tell which universe you’re in, the photographs, so amazing, Time Out Of Joint, we don’t want to live in the world where PKD became a successful mainstream writer, decaying royalties, he is a success in this world, being recognized during his lifetime, worth digging out, he’s such a great idea man that his work will live on past his mere boring and terrible existence, mainstream writers that have wasted their lives, Martian Time-Slip can’t exist without this mundane book, squint a little bit, the PKD genre, the shoe-repair boy, none of them can hear me, our perceptions of reality, it felt like it was about to turn into a science fiction novel, almost a witch, a sorceress, Roger’s seeing something in her, children and schizophrenics, a secret brother living inside, an asshole father, an amazing horror story, Tony And The Beetles, what does this mean, Evan Lampe American Writers: One Hundred Pages At A Time podcast, kids, an empathetic sponge, where it turns into a science fiction novel for a moment, the stamp collection, dad did they use stamps in Roman times, I think I have one, that’s the end of that scene, where’d that come from and where did it go?, the denouement of so many Philip K. Dick novels, Ubik, that is the turn, how often Jesse talks to kids, its almost like they have schizophrenia, I think my feet are on fire, they sound insane, what if that’s true?, the fact that he thinks he has a Roman stamp is true in that moment, those little touches are what make this a great, great book, eliciting the sense of existential dread, I might read another mainstream Philip K. Dick, The Man Whose Teeth Were Exactly Alike, the premise is like nothing, horrible people, I love reading about these fuck-ups, asshole after asshole, Stephen King, Nelson De Mille, a Goodreads review by Hyzenthlay:

The worst part of having a favourite author who died before you started reading him is that eventually you will run out of new reading material. The best part of that favourite author being Philip K Dick is that he was prolific as fuck AND he has so many books that are only recently coming back into print and/or being published posthumously for the first time that even though I’ve been reading him for 20+ years, I still haven’t run out of new-to-me shit to read.

Puttering About in a Small Land is one of those mythical PKD volumes I searched used book stores and thrift shops for for years. It was first published in the mid-80s, following Dick’s death, then went out of print for almost three decades cos there was never much call for his literary fiction. It’s not sexy enough to be referred to in hushed reverential tones like a DADoES or mind-fucky enough to be a scholarly treatise on humanity and reality like the VALIS trilogy.

It’s a quiet book, dealing with adultery and retail. It’s undeniably an early Dick book, exploring what exactly it means to be human; to feel eternal, knowing all this pain is an illusion. The prose and style will be familiar to anyone who’s read more than a handful of his books or short stories, but it’s not one of his Big Damn Idea books.

I feel I’m not explaining myself very well.

If you’re a genre fan thinking to dabble in Dick, don’t start here. [Waves hand] This is not the book you’re looking for. You go read something else (if you don’t want to start with the usual suspects, I applaud you and would recommend The Penultimate Truth, Dr Bloodmoney or The Cosmic Puppets), cos you will likely find this book’s slightly plodding pace infuriating.

If you’re a litfic reader, looking to broaden your reading horizons, you *could* give this one a go. Maybe only if you’re already into mid-20th Century Americana, though. This might not be the best starting point. You’d be better served picking up Confessions of a Crap Artist or Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (which, yes, is genre fiction, but ONLY JUST).

Fellow Dickheads? Obviously you need to read this. After Milton Lumky (who knew typewriter sales would be so compelling?). You might hate it, but your need for completion will compel you.

TL;DR This book isn’t for you. Or you. Or you. But it might be for YOU.

stealth sex scenes, she’s consuming him, a spider crawls on her hip, a great review, Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, Mario Puzo’s Fools Die,

Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K.Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #443 – READALONG: Ubik by Philip K. Dick

October 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #432 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa VU, talk about Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1969, the third most popular PKD novel, not much new in here, a lot more costumes, very familiar things, a pretty good book, the top half of the bottom half, for Dick connoisseurs like us, a tonne of Philip K. Dick, the end of the most lucid stage, things are starting to slide, conapts, strange realities, mysterious forces, a relatively coherent whole (except for the last chapter), we’ve done 40 episodes on Philip K. Dick, thank you, a Ubik ad, one of the first Philip K. Dick books Marissa read, well put together, loving this crazy guy’s writing, a different appreciation, What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick, Virgil Finlay illustrations, this novel contains one page of that novelette, some crossover, names and concepts, no Joe Chip, amazing illustrations, a lot fewer angry wives, “wife”, become my wife, now you’re just a girl, that scene where some guy comes by with a girlfriend for the main character, Lord Runningclam, you’re depressed you need a girlfriend, G.G. Ashwood, on coffee and cigarettes and speed, a nice big fat commission, a sad sack Dick protagonist, Galactic Pot-Healer, so many connections, who is the Glimmung in this book?, strange messages on packages, notes, Ubik is the Glimmung, a thing or a tool?, a McGuffin, a random line, “I am”, God talking (from the Bible), one of those bathroom revelations, I am alive!, Chapter 17, “before the universe was, I am,” my name is never spoken, I am called Ubik, the little bon mots at the beginning over every chapter, “only as directed”, Christ Sally!, but now – wow!, the enterphone, my apartment’s a mess, a vague memory of going shopping the night before, the conapt’s super-maket, a green ration stamp, all drugs, expensive coffee, soporific, ubiquitous throughout the novel, in our higher moments, drug induced experiences of god, Ubik as an anti-psychedelic, legit, his novel is decaying, the world is regressing, Runciter, amphetamines, delusion and paranoia, Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick, ubik reifies reality, after the explosion on the moon who is alive and who is dead?, are they all in coldpac?, is the entire novel a false world?, the facile answer, the central attraction of the novel, managing the question, a screenplay, skillfully done, Solar Lottery, an anti-telepath, the twitching of the bottle, feeling the echoes, Eye In The Sky, Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie, a bomb, Impostor by Philip K. Dick, the bevatron novel (Eye In The Sky), Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, they’re all merging into one, Time Out Of Joint, recycling, somehow it still works, all the pieces fit together, good writing, comedy, horror, The Cookie Lady, a little boy named Bubber, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel without Gretel, a bundle of rags and a tumbleweed, the sick my duck website, Chapter 16, fades, “an evening wind rustled at him”, a real feeling, super-coffee, perked up, he let his unconscious take over early in the book, the Hour 25 interview, $0.06 for every novel sold, Ubik my dear sir, Gresham’s law, Ubik The Screenplay, 1985, a digital ebook, he’s kind of like us, reinterpreting his own work, visual metaphors, being told what you’re seeing, clothing description, playing up against the retro elements, 1939 -1933, dressing like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band members, captain’s hats, when Pat comes, she starts taking her clothes off right away, you don’t remember, hence this, her breasts wagging forward, take-off, electric yellow cummerbund, knee hugging hose, gauntlets, “Gosh Jill, I wish I knew what was wrong with me lately”, inertia inertial, tousled woolly hair, luminous gypsy, jangled taughtness, wagging a goatish beard, gold lame trousers, kelp green minty blouse, cowboy chaps, a weak nosed young man in a maxi-skirt, hippie-fashion, green and tumbled stones (for eyes), tumbled eyes, tumbling black hair, is it a mistake or something he’s coding into the book, eye-colour changes, tipped me, here’s what good is and here’s what bad is, genocide is a bad thing, increase the amount of suffering make more things that can suffer, getting eaten or crushed by a rock, it doesn’t end well for any piece of life, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker books, kinda makes sense, H.P. Lovecraft, The Turning Wheel, life is suffering, escaping from the cycle, life is the only thing in the universe that is anti-entropic, trying to fight entropy, God is the one who created life in the mythology, hence all the suffering, the demiurge, what half of PKD novels seem to be about, a booster-strap for life itself, the sub-worlds of Runciter, the final narrator, the Gnostic interpretation of Ubik, a coin with Joe Chip’s face on it, Inception is the movie adaptation of this, The Matrix, time is frozen, coldpac and moratorium, we’ve seen that in other Dick novels, racist, Dr. Futurity?, there sitting to close together in the freezer, The Crack In Space, escaping from entropy, the fundamental grounding, the Gaurdian article: it’s squishy, there’s no firm ground, life is very problematic, the horror of entropy, never a permanent solution, the DNA breaks down, fiction, especially novels can be preserved, the preservation of the text is like the preservation of DNA, finding the earliest publication, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Valley Of Unrest, as time goes by in the publication industry people fiddle with stuff, italics, a poem is a super concentrated story, each sentence is an image, Jesse do you like pizza?, who likes pizza is the question, the question of the correct text, a novel is a fixed thing, does the font effect it?, formatting, outside of our reality, a way of preserving history, in a meta-context, he’s holding some ubik in his hand and it starts regressing, the changing context showing there’s no escape from the dread horror of entropy, we don’t want it to change anymore, constructing it on the fly, coins at the beginning, her special psychic power is to change reality in the past, some politician coming on to TV to talk about What Happened, is that really what happened?, our default is to just believe what we hear, we believe our sense, we start with believing our senses, everything is deceiving including our memories, if everyone around us in believing it, if everyone is delusional, they have to hang together, their tomb world, another TOMB WORLD!, invoking the name: Palmer Eldritch, what is an S. Dole Melipone?, he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet, the entire last chapter:

Chapter 17
I am Ubik. Before the universe was, I am. I made the suns. I made the worlds. I created the lives and the places they inhabit; I move them here, I put them there. They go as I say, they do as I tell them. I am the word and my name is never spoken, the name which no one knows. I am called Ubik, but that is not my name. I am. I shall always be.

Glen Runciter could not find the moratorium owner.

“Are you sure you don’t know where he is?” Runciter asked Miss Beason, the moratorium owner’s secretary. “It’s essential that I talk to Ella again.”

“I’ll have her brought out,” Miss Beason said. “You may use office 4-B; please wait there, Mr. Runciter; I will have your wife for you in a very short time. Try to make yourself comfortable.”

Locating office 4-B, Runciter paced about restlessly. At last a moratorium attendant appeared, wheeling in Ella’s casket on a handtruck. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” the attendant said; he began at once to set up the electronic communing mechanism, humming happily as he worked.

In short order the task was completed. The attendant checked the circuit one last time, nodded in satisfaction, then started to leave the office.

“This is for you,” Runciter said, and handed him several fifty-cent pieces which he had scrounged from his various pockets. “I appreciate the rapidity with which you accomplished the job.”

“Thank you, Mr. Runciter,” the attendant said. He glanced at the coins, then frowned. “What kind of money is this?” he said.

Runciter took a good long look at the fifty-cent pieces. He saw at once what the attendant meant; very definitely, the coins were not as they should be. Whose profile is this? he asked himself. Who’s this on all three coins? Not the right person at all. And yet he’s familiar. I know him.

And then he recognized the profile. I wonder what this means, he asked himself. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Most things in life eventually can be explained. But – Joe Chip on a fifty-cent piece?

It was the first Joe Chip money he had ever seen.

He had an intuition, chillingly, that if he searched his pockets, and his billfold, he would find more.

This was just the beginning.

ravelling around Runciter, Jesse casts a spell: Counter-Clock World,

“I was dreaming,” Ella said. “I saw a smoky red light, a horrible light. And yet I kept moving toward it. I couldn’t stop.”

“Yeah,” Runciter said, nodding. “The Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, tells about that. You remember reading that; the doctors made you read it when you were-” He hesitated. “Dying,” he said then.

“The smoky red light is bad, isn’t it?” Ella said.

“Yeah, you want to avoid it.” He cleared his throat. “Listen, Ella, we’ve got problems. You feel up to hearing about it? I mean, I don’t want to overtax you or anything; just say if you’re too tired or if there’s something else you want to hear about or discuss.”

“It’s so weird. I think I’ve been dreaming all this time, since you last talked to me. Is it really two years? Do you know, Glen, what I think? I think that other people who are around me – we seem to be progressively growing together. A lot of my dreams aren’t about me at all. Sometimes I’m a man and sometimes a little boy; sometimes I’m an old fat woman with varicose veins… and I’m in places I’ve never seen, doing things that make no sense.”

“Well, like they say, you’re heading for a new womb to be born out of. And that smoky red light – that’s a bad womb; you don’t want to go that way. That’s a humiliating, low sort of womb. You’re probably anticipating your next life, or whatever it is.” He felt foolish, talking like this; normally he had no theological convictions. But the half-life experience was real and it had made theologians out of all of them. “Hey,” he said, changing the subject. “Let me tell you what’s happened, what made me come here and bother you. S. Dole Melipone has dropped out of sight.”

A moment of silence, and then Ella laughed. “Who or what is an S. Dole Melipone? There can’t be any such thing.” The laugh, the unique and familiar warmth of it, made his spine tremble; he remembered that about her, even after so many years. He had not heard Ella’s laugh in over a decade.

“Maybe you’ve forgotten,” he said.

Ella said, “I haven’t forgotten; I wouldn’t forget an S. Dole Melipone. Is it like a hobbit?”

consulting the dead in order to make corporate decisions, we just drop it, what’s he visiting her for, there’s no business in this book at all, the business of being alive, an excuse to go to Switzerland and see his dead wife, step-up your TV ads, you need to send off more manuscripts, Ella, it’s a cryogenics book, it’s all bullshit, it’s just a way of avoiding death, if you’re living in a half-life, fundamentally there’s a really weird long part of the interview that’s pretty interesting, how the Soviet Union that had scientists that wanted to talk to him, from the Soviet embassy, I played dumb, classic Dick, A Scanner Darkly, he’s both the drug deal and the drug cop, he’s informing on himself, worlds inside worlds, to connect it to our reality, we only have access to the constructs of reality, What It Is Like To Be A Bat?, swapping genders, Philip K. Dick creating these characters, if you have a fixed text you can escape from your shared reality, it isn’t as squishy as regular reality, its only you who change between readings (we hope), the anomalies are the clues, that wouldn’t negate the point, after the explosion when they’re all on the Pratfall II, Glen Runciter’s POV, his transparent plastic casket,

Removing the plastic disk from its place, its firm adhesion to his ear, Glen Runciter said into the microphone, “I’ll talk to you again later.” He now set down all the communications apparatus, rose stiffly from the chair and momentarily stood facing the misty, immobile, icebound shape of Joe Chip resting within its transparent plastic casket. Upright and silent, as it would be for the rest of eternity.

Sarapis, plastic rosebuds, “A man that vital. And vitalic.”, that’s a weird error, upright, her sagacity, a wisdom not based on knowledge and experience, maybe the whole thing is in Ella’s world, the cop with little blonde pig-tails and red shoes, she’s changing characters, maybe they all fit together, the Technovelgy website, artiforg = artificial organs (also artificial and forged) = a fake fake, automatic apartment maintenance, homeopapes are Twitter feeds, high gossip vs. low gossip, physiognomic template, a tranquilizing gum, amazing technobabble:

“What is Ubik?” Joe said, wanting her to stay.

“A spray can of Ubik,” the girl answered, “is a portable negative ionizer, with a self-contained, high-voltage, low-amp unit powered by a peak-gain helium battery of 25kv. The negative ions are given a counter-clockwise spin by a radically biased acceleration chamber, which creates a centripetal tendency to them so that they cohere rather than dissipate. A negative ion field diminishes the velocity of anti-protophasons normally present in the atmosphere; as soon as their velocity falls they cease to be anti-protophasons and, under the principle of parity, no longer can unite with protophasons radiated from persons frozen in cold-pac; that is, those in half-life. The end result is that the proportion of protophasons not canceled by anti-protophasons increases, which means – for a specific time, anyhow – an increment in the net put-forth field of protophasonic activity… which the affected half-lifer experiences as greater vitality plus a lowering of the experience of low cold-pac temperatures. So you can see why regressed forms of Ubik failed to-”

Joe said reflexively, “To say ‘negative ions’ is redundant. All ions are negative.”

complete bullshit, this is how people buy products, all that babble mixed with the Amazing promises, Deepak Chopra, self-criticizing, chapter 16:

Under a streetlight he held up the spray can of Ubik, read the printing on the label.
I THINK HER NAME IS MYRA LANEY, LOOK ON REVERSE SIDE OF CONTAINER FOR ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER.

“Thanks,” Joe said to the spray can. We are served by organic ghosts, he thought, who, speaking and writing, pass through this our new environment. Watching, wise, physical ghosts from the full-life world, elements of which have become for us invading but agreeable splinters of a substance that pulsates like a former heart. And of all of them, he thought, thanks to Glen Runciter. In particular. The writer of instructions, labels and notes. Valuable notes.

like the Glimmung, Jesus: Don’t worry guys I’m going away for a while buyt I’ll be back!, they are Jesus for each other, the Inception situation, there’s no top level, there’s only the outside of the book, the writer is dead (Dick) but he’s in half-life becasuue we can read his book, maybe we’re all dead, Ubik is real!, Jesse’s Satoshi Nakamura theory, why graphics cards are so expensive, video cards are reality simulators, BitCoin, he’s gone dark, Satoshi Nakamura is a benevolent AI trying to fix our world, economic theory, an indefeatable unstoppable way to subvert the power of the banks, like the Glimmung, it’s not all powerful, it’s just an AI, it’s a demiurge of some-kind, kind of what Neuromancer is, the end of True Names by Vernor Vinge, Neuromancer also has a half-life in the form of a hacker on a ROM-chip (Dixie Flatline), thanks for helping me pull this heist, turn me off, a completely different kind of writer dealing with the same kind of stuff, hack to hard, episode 136, while trying to crack an AI, the lesson for Runciter, does it even matter what the status, it’s the old trick, the best trick there is, he’s always pulling the same exact move and you see it coming, getting close to book length, the swerve, curling back on itself, peak Dick, most popular Philip K. Dick books in order of popularity, Martian Time-Slip, what you’ve read of him before, Evan Lampe’s American Writers: One Hundred Pages At A Time podcast, how Philip K. Dick is always thinking about the frontier, the horror world, The Father Thing, The Simulacra, The Pentultimate Truth, the big surprise Now Wait For Last Year, Valis, the titles all flow together, the alternate titles for Ubik: Death Of An Anti-Watcher a new spin on the last chapter?, who is dead?, One theory: everybody died except for Runciter, The Half Life Of An Anti-Watcher?, a story about a dead-guy: Runciter, Runciter is the main character, the pixie-like Pat, maybe she is Ella as an older woman, there’s no answer here, who is that Ubik girl, ultimately Marissa and Jesse are figments of Paul’s imagination, this is Philip K. Dick doing Philip K. Dick.

Blackstone Audio - Ubik by Philip K. Dick

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #086 – When Time Turned by Ethel Watts Mumford

September 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #086

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss When Time Turned by Ethel Watts Mumford.

When Time Turned was first published in The Black Cat, January 1901.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Review of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

August 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

RANDOM HOUSE AUDIO - Dark Matter by Blake CrouchDark Matter
By Blake Crouch; Read by Jon Lindstrom
10 Hours 8 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: July 26, 2016

“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

So, the only other experience I have with Blake Crouch is through the ridiculously insanely pulpy, Drakulas … written by three other authors. I can’t say I was able to tell who wrote what, so it really wasn’t a huge help. Other than that I had good feelings going in because Drakulas is amazing. Read it, do it.

Dark Matter is difficult to explain without spoilers, but let’s just say it involves … science. Wow, could this review get more boring than that. Okay, there’s got to be a minor amount of spoilers to get this review moving, so let’s say spoiler warning for the first quarter of the book.

Our protagonist, Jason Dessen, has the perfect life and, more importantly, the perfect family. Okay, his marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s a place he loves being in more than anything. In fact, it’s something he gave up a budding science career to pursue.

Like anyone, he always imagines what it would be like if he’d made different choices. The only difference is that he actually gets to see for himself.

While tightly plotted with one heck of a twist at the end (I thought), this book packs more of a punch in the psychological aspects. Considering the implications of the science (which I’m really trying not to spoil), the questions addressed by Dessen are what really got me. Thinking about what I would do in the same situation is what will keep this book in my brain for some time.

What would you do for your family? What lengths would you go to to be with them? To save them? To permit them to be happy? What if that choice makes you miserable?

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

Note on the narrator: Jon Lindstrom is one of those voices that really needs to fit the character if that makes any sense. I feel like there are some books that his voice wouldn’t work for. It worked for Jason Dessen. Craig Wasson (11/22/63 and many others) is one of those voices for me as well.

I received an audio copy from the publisher for review.

Posted by Bryce L.

The SFFaudio Podcast #429 – READALONG: In The Mountains Of Madness by W. Scott Poole

July 10, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #429 – Jesse, Marissa, Mr Jim Moon and Wayne June talk about the Tantor Media audiobook In the Mountains of Madness: The Life, Death, And Extraordinary Afterlife Of H. P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole.

Talked about on today’s show:
a biography (not the novel), who would make that mistake, W. Scott Poole, The Extraordinary Afterlife Of H.P. Lovecraft, the writing style, some reservations, a very interesting book, S.T. Joshi, Michel Houellebecq, current thoughts about Lovecraft, have we all fallen into a trap?, there must be something wrong with him, first biography, I Am Providence, primary materials, letters to the editors, here’s Lovecraft’s vision, man, Lovecraft’s childhood, why do we care so much, a forerunner, his mom and his wife, everybody hears about Lovecraft’s mom: he’s hideous looking, the L. Sprague DeCamp biography, a strange man with an ugly lantern jaw, Stephen King, progressive and interesting, an open minded woman, his politics, cautiously taking issue, Lovecraft’s racism, history, a crock of bull, dismissing the man of his time argument, science, eugenics, racial theory, phrenology, condemns overly harshly, divorcing the work from the creator of it, celebrating his creativity without celebrating his politics, what if Rembrandt was a wife-beater, a conservative, his grandfather, a pedestal, we all get our politics from our parents and our family, unusual and extreme, not a happy fact, commonplace views, The Birth Of A Nation, bringing Lovecraft away, strange and creative, humanizing, they weren’t terrible mad women, playful, reading Shakespeare, annoying the neighbours, psychoanalysis, they must be psychopaths, a wax cylinder, Lovecraft’s singing was like a fox terrier being strangled, cats and ice-cream, good evidence, an admirable person, an only parent, every kind of toy, chemistry sets and magazine subscriptions, school as torture and punishment, she sounds awesome, expand your mind in different ways, he’s filling in gaps with a lot of speculation, really interesting new evidence, non-standard childhood behavior, starting a detective agency after you’re playing dungeons and dragons style wargames, .22 pistol, tailing suspicious looking characters all over Providence, an absurdly early age, Sarah Susan Lovecraft, conclusions, this book is so 2016/2017 with suppositions, hard to argue with facts, beyond precioucious, Mr Jim Moon’s rubbish detective agency, toddlers with automatic weapons, gun control, football, every male was given a badge that ranked them beta or delta, fuck you society!, ugly vs. striking, William Hope Hodgson, going with it and going against it, amateur journalism and reading pulp magazines, why my sympathy resonates with Lovecraft in his stories, he’s interested in school, Teddy Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt, war was masculine, WWI was a mistake, pulled some strings, a strange sickly twilight individual, a walker and rambler vs. mad recluse, go for a walk and read books, social anxiety and mild depression, most of the people Jim knows, the subtitle, becoming H.P. Lovecraft, the stories themselves, August Derleth and Cthulhu plushies, Hypnos, Hypnos tattoos, very funny, a sarcastic take on the hipsters, THE answer, the secret history of why today is the way it is today, Gary Gygax comic book biography, Little Wars by H.G. Wells, war-gaming, the great grandfather of modern gaming, he’s not really a fantasist in most cases, Wells’ stamp, Doctor Who could not exist without The Time Machine, Lovecraft’s marriage to Sonia Greene, she bank rolled amateur journalism (their version of blogging or podcasting), The United Amateur, she comes off pretty well as a wife, he comes off pretty badly, a raconteur, carousing, a dynamic person, the teenage daughter, Lovecraft’s stepdaughter, some beautiful poetry, I’m after him, completely unemployable, he’s a rich man who has come down in the world, Lovecraft’s main attempt to make money was to revise other people’s writing, Marissa can make a living, Wayne can make a living, one ad in Weird Tales, rewriting, 100,000 letters, Ted Chiang, unwilling to compromise, manual labour, his job-seeking letter, 17th furniture was the peak of furniture design, no normal customer, mattresses mattresses mattresses, extraordinarily striking, he can’t grant his wife a divorce, his own worst enemy, he didn’t want a job, 14-18 hours a day, get yourself a Sonia, never ate in a restaurant, alone in their cave, not the normal thing, was H.P. Lovecraft a gay man?, his only woman kisser, time spent, some gay friends, his first love was books and writing, M.R. James, there might might be some very racy letters we’ll never see, asexuality, an old flame, we shouldn’t go there, he’s like most people, relationships are difficult, completely open-minded, he had the opportunity with R.H. Barlow, dwelling, everybody was in love with Lovecraft, it’s great to spend time with a brilliant mind, a 14 year old fan, Jesse’s students, interesting ideas, talking about art or sports, really normal, spending time with heroes, letters back and forth, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, kind of a leap, getting together in physical space, we think he’s fascinating, trying to explain the fascination, a name to conjure with, a funky coffee house, a bowler hat and a tattoo with Lovecraft’s face, why Lovecraft plays a huge role as a totemic symbol, buying books with his name on the side, sex toys, Savage Sword of Conan, the Lovecraft influenced stories of Robert E. Howard, how did Mr Jim Moon discover Lovecraft, The Hound, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre, Trail Of Cthulhu, the role playing game, hitting thew jackpot, battered old paperbacks, Wayne’s dad was an SF reader, a stationery store’s upstairs, a metaphor of some kind, half-way up the ladder, Cool Air, it gave me chills, becoming obsessed with Lovecraft, what was in the used bookstore, do you think his writing style sets you up for that?, one of those writers, a bigger thrill everytime, like Shakespeare, into the flow, richer and richer, At the Mountains Of Madness, a gift card for Chapters, filed in the biography section, Scott Danielson, damn it!, the audiobook is missing the back-matter, Necronomicon fake-lore, good essays about Lovecraft by Angela Carter and Colin Wilson, the Chaosium Necronomicon, related short stories, The Adder by Fred Chapel, corrupting neighbouring books, why “In” in the title, forgotten perfectly, Lovecraft’s dad: ‘the chamber maid has insulted me and strange men are raping my wife’, sanitarium, he was “noisy”, the treatment was enemas every second day, damaged genitals, Poole’s theory, syphilis, Guy de Maupassant, in the background of Lovecraft’s psychology, bringing the sexual horror to the surface, high on morphine, not a friendly way to go, talking insensibly, high on opioids, that’s fucked up, drugs, who knows?, lose yourself in some good comic books because life is fucking horrible, the core of Lovecraft’s philosophy, Lovecraft thought about suicide, so polite, he hasn’t learned enough about geology yet, not the coward’s way out, Howard’s suicide, a lot more depressive, powerful and beautiful, The Thing On The Roof, getting right into the action, the requisite ending, in touch with that horror, why worry about getting married when you’re worried about how mortal you are, a lot of sympathy, marriage instead of suicide, what’s missing, what was Lovecraft doing all those years when he wasn’t writing?, astronomy, running clubs, becoming something, the eighth biography?, there’s something going on, he’s pointed to a lot of things, some much at odds with the myth of Lovecraft, he’s maladjusted, he’s anti-social, seven weeks of blackberry picking, Winnie the Pooh, more to the man, off the hip astrology, the intentional fallacy, a secret autobiography, what makes a weird tale, a whole other side, chit chatting with friends, walks and get-togethers, a different picture emerges, did you come here to praise him or bury him, a hatchet job, sour grapes, de Camp, he finds other people’s writings, that’s not great, get a handle on a whole life, it feels like we get to know him, a person we can know, incredibly like having a friendship, where did this mythology come from?, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race by Thomas Ligotti, people don’t like them, you have to do that, death is waiting for each and every one of us, existence is horrible, taking a step-back from you, reputation and mythology, absolutely an athiest, a pessimist, an atheistic existentialist, they don’t like it, an academic, a course on Lovecraft, what was H.P. Lovecraft’s philosophy?, material, atheism, cosmicism, racism, Cthulhu plushie racist, a quick bit of googling, it’s everywhere, something you have to get passed, tentacles, I like coffee, Freudian symbolism, who have you been dating?, chimera, the irony is bigger, I Am Providence, now he’s dirt, the fortune he was heir to and then lost, made it’s money from whaling, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, compromise, working at a gas station, humiliating, his worldview, bemoaning the decline of the aristocracy, pledged allegiance to King George, an unrepentant Tory, The Rats In The Walls, why we’re so interested in the man, writing true, making hay out of trends, the flavour of the week, no skin of his nose, rejected, he could suffer any indignity, a beautiful tragedy, it could have been a lot worse, he was so generous, the lord dispensing wealth, he was giving out what he wished he had recieved, mentoring, Robert Bloch, a life-line in the amateur press, fan letter, highfalutin poetry, the marketing came after by his fans, my point for Wayne, I could make Wayne so much money, he needs a Patreon, Audio Realms is out of business, the complete H.P. Lovecraft one book a month, some sort of barrier, it’s like you can’t lower yourself to that, he’s just lazy, you’re still alive, you’re killing me, At The Mountains Of Madness is a big job, that book is an expedition, Poole makes an argument that Prometheus is a retelling of At The Mountains Of Madness, Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, a massive debt to Lovecraft, a link still unexplored, a thing podcast, thing it, them, they!, the mysterious pronouns in dark places.

In The Mountains Of MadnessTheExtraordinary Afterlife Of H.P. Lovecraft by W. Scott Poole

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #426 – READALONG: A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

June 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #426 -Jesse and Juliane Kunzendorf talk about A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Talked about on today’s show:
1960, is it true that Peter S. Beagle wrote A Fine And Private Place when he was 19?, Mary Shelley, Mr Rebek has been in the graveyard for 19 years, self-aware, unforeseen circumstances, November 2016, lightweight material, subtext, it’s not deep, on the nose, a bit long?, novel length for a novella idea, a raven here, a lady doing her shopping, a time capsule, 1960-ish, darn interesting, how New York was, a social study, science fiction and werewolves, a light touch fantasy, pretty effective, 272 pages, six to eight hours, narrated by Peter S. Beagle himself, a calm voice, a pleasant listen, more better work, a special and distinct voice, kind of amazing, it feels super-old, wise, philosophical about death and how to live, how do you get to this?, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, one of Jesse’s favourites, nobody cared, Jesse’s theory as to what is going on in The Raven and how it relates to this story, Andrew Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress, a metaphysical poem, start to kissing, rhyming with the comeuppance, but none do there embrace, reading poems aloud, forced rhymes,

Had we but world enough and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust;
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

sweet!, come on baby!, 1681, a tutor to a rich man’s daughter, post-mortem publication, The Twilight Zone, World Enough And Time, inspired, amorous birds of prey, iron gates of life, chaste love, Jonathan and Mrs. Clapper, finding another person to be with, all during WWII, an interesting backstory, reading books, washing his clothes in the bathroom sink at night, is it all in his head?, is he just a crazy homeless man?, fitting the facts, dirty and smelly, well groomed, disheveled, shaving, grooming, what are we to make of Mrs. Clapper falling in love with not the greatest catch ever?, her (dead) husband, tickles a sense of adventure, I’m not your husband, the rain-jacket, museum visitor than stay-at-home, the store scene, the Stillman family, when are you getting married?, she’s trapped in her role, her place in society, her apartment, the social environment of the 1960s, widowhood, when are you going to Florida?, other options, how she’s going to be buried, Mr. Rebek’s prison, an incomplete explanation, acting as a witch-doctor, love-potions, the scarred up boxer, making a love-potion, it’ll just make her receptive, when the love-potion works…, a weak character, he plays along, whiter teeth, his girlfriend died and he can’t get over her, he’s fleeing from the world and responsibility, in a time loop, frozen in time, just being, going on vacation is not a life, more of the same, his icy tomb, other stories like this, Beatrice in Dante’s Paradise, Orpheus and Eurydice, Odysseus, is Mr. Rebek going to move in with Mrs. Clapper?, living together, wearing her husband’s old clothes?, his room, they have to find a new apartment, from the Goodwill (but actually from her), she’s trying to replace her dead husband, marriage, domains, the boss, the nameless raven, Elijah, a squirrel with a wife, more raven, a couple of rules, how ghosts act and animals can talk, the ghosts, subversion, that’s what ravens do, the nightwatchman, alcohol, Spanish singing, sung as it should have been sung, another reflection of the raven, a psychopomp, Charon, the ferryman, Anubis, Pluto, deep in every religion, a man alive in the place of the dead, you’re a terrible guard, a passenger stuck on the barge to the underworld, not dead, not alive, seeing the dead, Mrs. Clapper can’t see the dead, an idea working below the surface, a lazy slow river journey, a slowboat to hades, Michael, I don’t want your nepenthe, Laura, more friends than anything else, a seagull lost in Iowa, seeing a bird, what is the metaphor there?, heavy with metaphors, things underlying, Juliane has time, listening to the sound of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, certain sad uncertain rustling, a story of madness, Jesse’s theory but first the poem itself, Beagle must have been familiar with The Raven, books: “many a quaint and curious volume”, not nameless, wrought as a homophone for rot, a ghost of flame, morrow and marrow, surcease of sorrow, ending sorrow by reading, distraction, “to still the beating of [his] heart,” December, at night, midnight, “once”, Charles Dickens, big on ghosts, Into That Darkness Peering a collection of Poe narrated by Wayne June, what is he dreaming about?, suicide, what’s behind suicide, teasing, the passive voice, Guy de Maupassant, premature burial, Japanese or Korean ghosts, a real creepy ghost story, back from the dead, “chamber” not house, a lattice, panes and shutters, curtains, a shade, purple as the royal colour, layers, why is his soul burning?, slight variations, eyelids as shutters, “perched upon a bust of Pallas”, Athena, why Pallas?, palace, there were two goddesses, Pallas was eaten by Athena, distance away from Athena, perched above wisdom, “though thy crest be shorn and shaven”, Sampson, you can’t shave a raven, you can pluck a raven, crest, no fur nor hair nor feather’s on it’s head, that’s a different bird, it’s a condor aka a buzzard aka a carrion eater aka a vulture, why vultures head’s are are shaven, mistaking the bird, his perception of it as a raven is odd, why doesn’t anybody comment on this?, Athena’s helmet has a Raven on it, when you make a drawing you have to choose, in a poem we can have it both ways, a comparison to a vulture, craven as lustful, vultures don’t look young, he’s having it both ways, a much scarier story, a fire theme, ungainly = ungraceful, a talking raven, nesting ravens, does the Raven always tell the truth?, “fiery eyes” burning, Gustave Doré, a ray of light, fire and light, censer, seraphim, nepenthe again, always subverting, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, desert land, balm in Gilead, skin soothing stuff, radiant, “still is sitting, still is sitting”, how can the shadow throw from the lamp stream over?, “my soul from out that shadow”, he burned his house down and he’s a ghost, the perfume of smoke, a room (not a house), Mr. Rebek’s house is a tomb, a man without a Lenore, eh, what are you going to do?, ravens in Greek mythology, Apollo, why all ravens are black today, creator god, the Ravens in the Tower of London, Mabel and Grip, trickster god, ravens stealing food, experiments with crow communication, sharing information, Jesse’s crow friend, zebras, lions making a plan, he cried like a baby, a reading raven, a gentle fantasy, the social structure, Michael and Laura, suicide or murder?, a prison of his own making, the prison of her own head, a golden cage, a satisfactory book, Mr. Rebek is 53, Mrs. Clapper is a little older (maybe), children are really absent, what’s real and what’s just in his head?, the nightwatchman is the sanest of all of them, so little evidence for insanity, very little below the surface, The Last Unicorn film adaptation, thematic connections, the death theme, The Innkeeper’s Song, five novels, We Never Talk About My Brother, funerals, death of child, hanging out in graveyards, pillars that didn’t support anything, the symbology of graveyards, a broken column indicates a life cut short, burial vs. cremation, a line between life and death, formalized words, affective, more philosophical, working as a mortician, Six Feet Under, a good book and pretty impressive, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (and the comic book adaptation), similarities, Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a boy raised by ghosts, Tarzan, raised by animals, Tantor the elephant, Nobody Owens aka Bod, subtle illustrations, the babysitter characters, reading with students, tweeting Neil Gaiman, a signed poster, monster characters, Coraline, Tim Burton, thanatophilic, a weird relationship with death, if you’re dead you’re just gone, exactly like before you were born, we’re all just living in our heads.

BALLANTINE - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
IDW - A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle

Posted by Jesse Willis

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