The SFFaudio Podcast #383 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Steen Hansen talk about The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.
Talked about on today’s show:
1969, before the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, contemporary critics, SF critics vs. mainstream critics, the defense of the ghetto against interlopers, Ray Bradbury, Doris Lessing, a deep feeling, spoiling the book, showing what was wrong with it, getting the facts wrong, interpretation, Luke Burrage reviewing, Robert J. Sawyer, bad writing, had they done nothing … nothing would have happened, the mutation, the Wildfire facility, Star Trek, scientists out for the good of humanity, self-destruct sequences, MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction, every nuclear sub movie, film-like, The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, airport fiction tropes, hyper competent high level government high tech mcguffins, brain-washing, novel -> film, written for film?, ER, picky fiddly science and bureaucratic operation, killed or useless, trusted scientists to save the world, ruthlessly hard science, Hollywood couldn’t make this movie now, restrained, chilly, the gender swap, Robert Wise, Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House, Alfred Bester, a document dump, classified material, overloading the reader with verisimilitude, Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Crichton, The Thirteenth Warrior, Vikings, Russians and Byzantium, completely bullshit, Mr. Bullshit, regular SF vs. techno-thriller, a yummy INFODUMP, nobody had a definition for life, black cloth, a watch, a piece of granite, pure Science Fiction, Bryan’s mind destroyed at age 8, binary numbers, lasers vs. darts, Larry Niven, 24, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Steen welcomes our robot overlord, high-scale AI, Iain M. Banks, humans as pets, humans as cogs, I Have No Mouth And I must Scream, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, Dante Alighieri, lost race, the descent into Hell, from red to blue, the harrowing of Hell, a cold war story where the Russians aren’t the bad guys, The Bedford Incident, James Follett’s The Light Of A Thousand Suns, set in the recent past, the shotgun approach, Margaret Atwood, picking and choosing at the buffet table, dedicated to A.C.D., M.D. -> Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle -> Dr. Michael Crichton, “not a new story”, the glowing review in Life magazine, a retelling of The Blob, the Technovelgy, auto-doc, the suppressed cancer drug, Jensen Pharmaceuticals, gut flora, nudity and ass-grabbing, rectal suppository, astro-Tang, coffee, all that cleaning, they’re too holy, the five levels is a gimmick, the leveling, it’s bullshit!, we all know we have to wash our hands, the Wikipedia entry for the Airport Genre
Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre that is not so much defined by its plot or cast of stock characters, as much as it is by the social function it serves. An airport novel is typically a fairly long but fast-paced novel of intrigue or adventure that is stereotypically found in the reading fare offered by airport newsstands for travelers to read in the rounds of sitting and waiting that constitute air travel.
Rudyard Kipling’s fiction was published as a railway magazine, the origin of pulp fiction, The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, the opening to The Strain, having the reins of political power at your fingertips, in the 2008 miniseries remake, back stories/love stories, a muddy anti-science mess, pre-Apollo -> Watergate -> conspiracy theories, the technical glitch (paper between the bell and the striker), germ warfare?!, the remake of The Manchurian Cantidate, the films and adaptations reflect the times, the 2008 version is super-militarized, X-18, F-4 phantoms, Dracula, the long gothic tradition of found documents, Plan 9 From Outer Space, a cold war document, The Parallax View, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Crichton like Spielberg loves power, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, medical people as superheroes, uber-expert scientists, power fantasy fiction, scepticism of power, image Michael Crichton at a Science Fiction convention, the immune reaction, You are not of the body!, techno-thrillers, why Ian Fleming’s James Bond books became so popular, JFK, Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Tom Clancy, The Hunt For Red October, Reagan based foreign policy of Red Storm Rising, Jack Ryan was a wonk Navy -> CIA agent -> CIA Director -> President, Firefox, political fiction written for a jet-set audience, conservative Heinleinian, Andromeda Strain cosplay?, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, SF writers save the world from alien invasion, science matters vs. science fiction, the first biology crisis, outflanking the ghetto, the 2006 Worldcon, Greg Benford, Greg Bear, David Brin, thinking up scenarios, if I was a terrorist how would I destroy the the United States, Wildfire, Cold War contingency planning, the Rand Corporation, the odd-man out element, his name was Hall but should have been Corridor, does this make sense?, the odd man is gay?, The Odd Couple, gay coding?, gay men are most likely to turn off nukes?, The Great Train Robbery, timing pacing planning tricking, that roller-coaster spark, opening observation, we are always observing, fun fiction for Henry Kissinger and the jet set, bureaucrats of a class, this function material is reflective, Science Fiction writers are poor, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, a biology book, Paul Di Filippo, bio-punk, Ribo-funk, The Bay (2012), The Hot Zone, the wet science, cloning, the neglected science, Coma, Protector by Larry Niven, how electron-microscopes work, crystallography, “it mutated”?!?!?, that was odd, it’s communicating with itself, block-chain virus, deep hurting, The Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, medicine without silicon, the Patriarchy, The Highest Frontier, Blood Music by Greg Bear, a Halo novel, The Wind From A Burning Woman, a “wild” writing style, bio is hard to do, Pontypool, prions, the worst part of The Walking Dead, we’re all infected, a symbol for regular death, Titan by John Varley, a 100ft tall Marilyn Monroe monster, The Satan Bug by Alistair Maclean (1962), where does the techno-thriller begin, a precursor to techno-thriller, The Stolen Bacillus by H.G. Wells, a really obvious anarchist, Wells defused the whole genre for sixty years, The Food Of The Gods, a convincing linguistic maneuver, fawning of technology bureaucracy power and the function of government, a stack of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Sputnik shock, British invasion novels, Tom Clancy as a zombie brand, special helicopter trip, massive government expenditure for the competent man, an empty jetliner, vicarious thrill, power fantasy, “he’s the most important person right now”, this is our bailiwick!, nice and short, Dean Koontz, Phantoms, A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Ghost Fleet by August Cole and P.W. Singer, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child books, no CRISPR, China is no Soviet Union, futurism, education moves so slowly, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an X-Box with Paranoid Linux, Reamde by Neal Stephenson, a Kurt Vonnegut vibe, a Welsh Muslim terrorist, like pornography you know a techno-thriller when you see it.
Posted by Jesse Willis
By Michael Crichton; Read by Scott Brick
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 13 hours
Themes: / aliens / ocean / thriller /
The gripping story of a group of American scientists sent to the ocean floor to investigate an alien ship, only to confront a terrifying discovery that defies imagination.
Executive Summary: A strong start and a pretty strong finish, but I found a lot of the last quarter or so on the slow side. This is a pretty solid 3.5 stars that could be rounded up or down depending on my mood at the time.
Audiobook: This book had been released in audio before, but for some reason Brilliance Audio seems to be (re)releasing a bunch of his books recently. Scott Brick does his usual quality job. Whenever you see Mr. Brick’s name on an audiobook, you know you’re going to get a good reading.
I came into this book thinking it was a reread. I did a handful of books by Mr. Crichton when I was in high school, and I thought this was among them. As I got further into the book, I became convinced otherwise.
I found the beginning very interesting. A psychologist is brought in to help with a crash that turns out to be a spaceship on the bottom of the ocean. I liked the mystery and investigation aspect of the story, more than the viewpoint of the main character itself though.
As the plot develops and we learn more about not only the ship, but the sphere it contains, I found my mind starting to wander. I didn’t get attached to any of the characters. I found myself annoyed by most of the scientists. Several of them seemed to be more concerned about being published and/or their place in history than the actual investigation itself. I’ve always been more of an engineer than a scientist, but I don’t know why anyone would want to deal with that.
As with the other Michael Crichton books I’ve read, this one takes science and posits some plausible seeming possibilities. He always seemed to have a knack for the techno-thriller in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy and over the top.
I’m not sure if I was disappointed with the truth of the Sphere, or if my detachment from the characters just got to me, but by about the 50% mark, I found my mind starting to wander a bit. The ending was pretty strong though, and probably saved it from me rounding down to a three.
I’ve been wanting to take a break from SFF this year, and while this is definitely still in the Sci-Fi wheelhouse, it’s more of a thriller with a sci-fi premise than a pure science fiction book. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as Timeline or Jurassic Park, but I’m glad I finally read it.
Review by Rob Zak.
By Michael Crichton; read by Scott Brick
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] 12 CD’s; 15 hrs. 9 min
Themes: / dinosaurs / adventure / cloning / DNA /
An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price.Until something goes wrong.…
I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this book. I guess I’ve always had my reservations because of what an impact the movie had on me as a kid. I was about 9 or 10 when the movie first came out and it blew my mind. As the book likes to point out, boys love dinosaurs and that was true.
As a side note, I’m loving how much my son (5 y.o.) loves dinosaurs. He knows so much more about them than I do, in fact his favorite is the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur I learned existed from him.
(the hipster’s T-Rex)
Now, I’ll be the first to admit my memory of of the movie is a tad hazy, but from what I do remember, the movie actually follows the book quite a bit, at least up until about 2/3 of the book where either my memory is bad or the books is completely different (oh and Grant loves kids in the book, which is … opposite). More than I would have guessed, which was not a lot.
There’s a little more detail to the initial attacks we see in the movie and it’s not quite as gruesome in parts (and much more gruesome in others). The girl gets attacked by the Compsognathus (little green dinos), or **”compys” as they’re known. **excuse my spelling, I listened to the audio and like Fox news, I don’t feel the need to fact check.
The park is just about ready to open and it’s time to get all the consultants together to make sure it’s on the right track. Thus, Grant and Sattler, Ian Malcolm, the attorney Jennaro, and a couple others are flown in.
Of course, nefarious doings are going on and a competitor wants in on the dinosaur action. In comes Dennis Nedry, who is pretty much spot on copied in the movie. Excellent job Wayne Knight. He’s pretty much built the entire IT system for the park and thus has quite a bit of control over pretty much everything. I don’t remember his involvement in the park being this extensive, but then again, I was 9. There’s a frikkin’ T-REX!!!
As we all know, everything goes to pot and we all know what goes from here. Even though the movie diverges from the book, we all know what goes on from here.
And it’s awesome. I had a blast listening to this book and Scott Brick is such a talented narrator, you don’t even notice him reading. It’s just pure story.
A couple *important* things I wanted to point out… some spoilers for the book:
1. The lawyer, Jennaro, is not as spineless as in the movie, does not get eaten while he’s sitting on the toilet by a T-Rex (okay, that was an awesome addition), and even saves the day at one point by pointing out law that doesn’t exist. (No, this sudden support for the lawyer has nothing to do with the fact that I have an Esq. on the end of my name … perish the thought)
2. Was Lex Murphy that annoying in the movie? I really don’t remember that. She’s super duper annoying in the book.
3. Ian Malcolm’s Chaos Theory should have been cut down like in the movie. There are a number of times he’s going off about it and you’re literally thinking, aren’t there dinosaurs around the corner about to eat them? Does anyone care about any theory at this time besides the theory of escaping dinosaurs? Still a great character, just weird timing of his rants about corporations and such, which I’m not disagreeing with.
(literally the only image you’re allowed to use when referring to Ian Malcolm)
4. So this book was published in 1990 and this book had maybe a total of 15 to 20 people at risk, not counting the rest of the world that could potentially be at risk by dinosaurs escaping. We’re talking people you’re honestly worried about dying or not throughout the book.
Jump to 2015, Jurassic World, and we’ve got an entire park open with thousands and thousands of people at risk. Does that say something about how our society’s penchant for destruction?
5. But seriously, back to Malcolm, Chaos Theory essentially comes down to – because dinosaurs are an unknown, and much like the weather – unpredictable – you’re all screwed and nothing will work right. And then Malcolm gloats. Even while dinosaurs are stalking him.
Now, the opposing argument in the book is that zoos exist so why can’t dinosaurs be kept in a zoo? My problem is that if everyone gave up because there was an unknown then we’d have just about nothing. People go forward with the unknown all the time. Many fail, but that’s how great success comes as well. I guess I’m saying I needed more to this theory and preferably when I can think about the theory and not when DINOSAURS ARE LITERALLY AROUND THE CORNER TRYING TO EAT YOU.
6. Jurassic Park gets lots of crap for providing false ideas as to what dinosaurs actually looked like (see raptors). While it’s true, if you ignore the story, it is explained. You know that whole science part toward the beginning, well they talk about only finding partial DNA and having to graft in DNA from other animals (which actually becomes a huge problem). This would lend toward dinosaurs that don’t actually look like they’re supposed to and I’m fine with that explanation.
I have to say, after 25 years, Jurassic Park really held up well. Lots of the communication issues would be the same problem nowadays because of the fact that they’re on a remote island that cell phones would be problematic on anyway. It helps that a book doesn’t have to actually reproduce computer screens so you can picture those as high tech as you want as long as you ignore the amounts of memory they mention. At least they’re in the gigabytes still.
And most of this I just point out because of how into the book I was. I really had a blast listening to Jurassic Park and I can highly recommend a reading of this classic. One of the few book/movie combinations where I can honestly say I loved both for their own reasons. Now, I need to go track down a copy of that movie. If only there were some online subscription service like Oyster for movies.
4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
Posted by Bryce L.
Filed under: Audio Drama, New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
many sins, paperbooks, The Architect Of Aeons by John C. Wright, Tor Books, The Voyage Of The Basilisk by Marie Brennan, beautiful illustrations and blue text, cover art, a bias against bad art, the way kids talk about book covers, fonts and graphic design, stock photos, don’t mix serif’d fonts, use classic art in the public domain, don’t muddy it up, Graysun Press Class M Exile by Raven Oak, Star Trek, Self Made Hero, I.N.J. Culbard, The Shadow Out Of Time, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, the difficulty of promotion for small press publishers, Horror!, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker, John Lee, Macmillan Audio, Pinhead, Hellraiser, random bloody body horror, The Midnight Meat Train, Bradley Cooper, the way Clive Barker’s stuff works, Audio Realms, Limbus, Inc. Book 2, a shared world anthology by Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe McKinney, Harry Shannon edited by Brett J. Talley, space for creativity, David Stifel’s narration of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Island Of Doctor Moreau meets Frankenstein done Burroughs style, The Man Without A Soul, David Stifel knows everything about Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, read by Scott Brick, Mad Max: Fury Road, 3D is a gimmick, Vampire Horror! by M.R. James, John Polidori, F. Marion Crawford, Anthony Head, M.R. James is the country churchyard ghost story guy, John Polidori was Byron’s Doctor, Mary Shelley won the contest, The Vampyre by John Polidori, Lord Ruthven is kind of based on Lord Byron, an autobiographical fantasy horror, music!, all the good D words, Survivors by Terry Nation, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, who wrote House, M.D.?, writing credit in the UK, a familiar premise, the original TV series and the remake, The Walking Dead, all the fun stuff we like about post-apocalyptic storytelling, simultaneous existence, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, our dependence on grasses, The Road, canned food isn’t a long term plan, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, deer in the woods, the high price put on poaching, the other solution is cannibalism (also not very sustainable), The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, cutting water, this is already how things are, the atomic bomb scenarios are played out, the water problem, the new dust bowl, North Carolina and South Carolina, Seattle and Vancouver, Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, read by Phil Gigante, a comic version of Doctor Strangelove, Marissa Vu, Paul Weimer, The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, Luke Burrage’s reviews of the Orange County books, Find Me by Laura van den Berg, silver blisters?, Guy de Maupassant style, The End Has Come edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams, Carrie Vaughn, Megan Arkenberg, Will McIntosh, Scott Sigler, Sarah Langan, Chris Avellone, Seanan McGuire, Leife Shallcross, Ben H. Winters, David Wellington, Annie Bellet, Tananarive Due, Robin Wasserman, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth Bear, Jonathan Maberry, Charlie Jane Anders, Jake Kerr, Ken Liu, Mira Grant, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Margaret Atwood’s serial, Science Fiction in Space and the Desert, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, read by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron, very sciencey, too many Jesses, Rob’s commute, Nova by Margaret Fortune, read by Jorjeana Marie, a human bomb, Imposter by Philip K. Dick, The Fold by Peter Clines, read by Ray Porter, another Philip K. Dick story called Prominent Author, a joke story, 14 by Peter Clines, Expanded Universe, Vol. 1 by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Bronson Pinchot, Blackstone Audio, Robert A. Heinlein is a weird idea man, Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Hachette Audio, Sword & Laser, The Darkling Child (The Defenders of Shannara) by Terry Brooks, read by Simon Vance, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, larger than life voices, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, the accents, BBC audio dramas of James Bond books, the David Niven Casino Royale, The Brenda & Effie Mysteries: Brenda Has Risen From the Grave! (4), Bafflegab, Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III: A Novel by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, read by Michael Fenton Stevens and Stephen Briggs, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, read by Julia Emelin, The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, read by Davina Porter, Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor, coming of age in a fantasy world, librarians recommend!
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1987, Amazon and Goodreads reviews, what the fuck’s going on, super-clear = refreshing, mainstream, science fiction elements, a mainstream thriller with sufficently science fiction trappings, the bad guy, action and science fiction, supermarket fiction, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, flirting with the fantastic, Koontz could go deep if he wanted to, excitement and involvement, an intelligent dog, a human serial killer and the good guy is always super good, a lonely lady who needs fixing, no need for a job, Garrison, the vet, money ex machina, wish fulfillment, sniffing the books, writing instinctual, “I like books”, readers are readers, is Koontz wealth (?) an accident, the same book over and over again with different sentences, dogs, odd without a dog, back to dogs, the fictional golden retriever, service dogs, Trixie Koontz, dog POV, Travis and Nora, if I could only communicate…, five stars with more than 1,000 reviews, cat lovers, sappy wish fulfillment, clunky dialogue, Seth’s retired guide dog, emotional scenes, Einstein, emotional beats hitting home, the Outsider, slow pitch Science Fiction, the NSA, research as depth of feeling, why the eyes, the Mickey Mouse telephone, a direct philosophical descendant of Frankenstein, we must treat our creations with justice and mercy, the disfigured (?) monster, extreme violence is a turn-off, dogs as wild animals that we tamed, a glacial Frankensteinian process, dogs as infantilized wolves, a dog’s nature is to be cowardly, breeding for violence (?), no savagery gene, baboons, bonobos, the creepy cable-guy stalker, delusions of immortality (?), money, surreality, The Call Of The Wild reference, survivalists, true love with a threat, preppers, Home Alone, what do Europeans think of gun culture?, fully automatic uzi kits, the baking of the cookies, the Dean Koontz genre, Phantoms, the town of Snowfield is deserted, a sink-full of jewels, creepy with wish fulfillment, and fun, multiple bad guys (monster and otherwise), The Mysteries Of Udolpho, let’s look at the parallel structure…, snake killing, some (more) cookies, pity, the underlying strength of the book, did the Outsider think that it killed Einstein?, Dean Koontz likes: cookies, mercy, and guns, Koontz’s hair transplant, political things, the soliloquy on technology, computer hacking (prior to the web), a preoccupation with Central/South America, Lebanon, Delta Force, quasi-domestic operations, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, the crappy 1988 movie of Watchers, the horror/1980s-gore aspect, Koontz and King adaptations, completely forgettable single word titles, Koontz’ preferred title would have been “Guardian”, Philip K. Dick’s first story Roog, offering urn, the education of Einstein (paralleling the education of Frankenstein’s monster), Agatha Christie, it makes you happy, 2 Jesses, “a book you will never forget!”, a candy book, The Giver, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, taking experiences from their own life, Ray Bradbury never had an experience that he didn’t turn into a fix-up novel, turn your brain off, smooth flowing fun, the complainers, the style of dialogue, a straw man of the dialogue, why is the Outsider after Einstein?, a “thing that should not be”, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, page turning machines, stewing in resentment, the Outsider has no bride and hasn’t read Paradise Lost, a shared love of Mickey Mouse, the yin and yang of humanity, the NSA agent’s role is like that of Detective Fix in Around The World In Eighty Days, the level of characterization, Dean Koontz is by himself on his own little island.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Talked about on today’s show:
1968, science fiction by Philip K. Dick, Blade Runner, abridged version, audiobook, repetition of theme, an introductory novel to Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, jam packed with action, one long day, the fake police station, a classic Dick move, how many androids are there in this book?, movies, androids, legitimate slavery, Luba, minority, androids v. slaves, reality of humans, psychological tests, visuals, dialogic science fiction, Wilder Penfield, The Terminal Man by Michael Crichton, mood organ, existential humor, satire, artificial, unbelievable world, endless competition, goat glands, Sydney’s Catalog, the BBC Radio 4 audio drama by Jonathan Holloway & Kerry Shale, parallel characters, undercut truth, an animal theme, religious allusions, Mercer, Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan), lurker, detective story, lack of world descriptions, less striking scenes in the movie, Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick, tomb world, fraud corpses, Mercer v. Jesus, lack of introduction in the movie, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the maker, hope of freedom, androids as fiends, humans yet not humans, what is the definition of human?, the question, the title, empathy to androids, Deckard’s predictions, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, predestination, fake things, simulacra, electrically modified ecology, emotional drug, consumerism, The Days of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the vale of reality, the cuckoo clock in Blade Runner, layered symbols, visualizing future technologies, Kayla Williams, unobvious connections, paranoia, suspicion of government, The Exit Door Leads In by Philip K. Dick, unimportance of religious reality, environmental awareness, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, dehumanization in war, androids = inverted human, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, television, The Veldt by Ray Bradbury, 1984 by George Orwell, podcasting, Metropolis (Fritz Lang), Max Headroom, “Five Minutes Into the Future”, The Red Room by H.P. Lovecraft, haunted media.
Posted by Jesse Willis