The SFFaudio Podcast #411 – READALONG: The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick

March 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #411 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, Maissa and Bryan Alexander discuss The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Imagination, Stories Of Science Fiction and Fantasy, July 1955, his most obscure story, a great random story, everything he touches is chromium, the robot, metallic, on the fence, the commute disk, the invisible safety rail, flying carpets, reading the newspaper, he completed the load, beautiful writing,

EARTH TILTED toward six o’clock, the work-day almost over. Commute discs rose in dense swarms and billowed away from the industrial zone toward the surrounding residential rings. Like nocturnal moths, the thick clouds of discs darkened the evening sky. Silent, weightless, they whisked their passengers toward home and waiting families, hot meals and bed.

the ground, Detroit, ashes and cinders, this is the bus guys, Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler, a post apocalyptic story, Butler like Dick had to take the bus a lot, I like philosophy and music, he’s invented the strip mall, the counselor (charlie), do all the other stores have robots in them too?, weird touches, a boy and a girl making love, from the 1950s, he’s a sexual man, on point for everything happening right now, basically conapts, beauty of clunkiness,

Through the thin walls of the bright little dining room came the echoing clink of other families eating, other conversations in progress. The tinny blare of tv sets. The purr of stoves and freezers and air conditioners and wall-heaters.

you can really feel the world, the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer, the disgusting beauty of bodies, the bullshit idea, the brother in law,

Across from Walsh his brother-in-law Carl was gulping down a second plateful of steaming food.

and then:

It was true. Walsh gazed unhappily past his son, into the days that lay ahead. He saw himself involved in endless wretched situations like the one today; sometimes it would be Naturalists who attacked him, and other times (like last week) it would be enraged Purists.

being contrary, arguing both sides, the Horney amendment and the Butte petition, having your sweat glands removied, teeth whitened, no balding for you sir, we’re going underground, smaller portions, relating to this story after living in Hollywood, two kinds of people, half want to be dirty and bald and fat, oh no!, the B-Ark from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, something of Socrates dying here, tearing up the get out of jail free card, cold beams, frozen and then reduced to basic mineral elements, thisis the kind of act they freeze you for, millions of cryo-units,

the analyst sat back and gave a low, soundless whistle. “That’s a felony, Don. They’ll freeze you for that; it’s a provision of the new Amendment.”

the robot psychologist, a suitcase called Dr. Smile, A. Lincoln, Simulacrum, horrible and awesome,

“Don,” it called heartily. “Come on in and sit down.”

He entered and wearily seated himself. “I thought maybe I could talk to you, Charley,” he said.

“Sure, Don.” The robot leaned forward to see the clock on its wide mahogany desk. “But, isn’t it dinner time?”

“Yes,” Walsh admitted. “I’m not hungry. Charley, you know what we were talking about last time… you remember what I was saying. You remember what’s been bothering me.”

“Sure, Don.” The robot settled back in its swivel chair, rested its almost-convincing elbows on the desk, and regarded its patient kindly. “How’s it been going, the last couple of days?”

“Not so good. Charley, I’ve go to do something. You can help me; you’re not biased.” He appealed to the quasi-human face of metal and plastic. “You can see this undistorted, Charley. How can I join one of the parties? All their slogans and propaganda, it seems so damn — silly. How the hell can I get excited about clean teeth and underarm odor? People kill each other over these trifles… it doesn’t make sense. There’s going to be suicidal civil war, if that Amendment passes, and I’m supposed to join one side or the other.”

Charley nodded. “I have the picture, Don.”

“Am I supposed to go out and knock some fellow over the head because he does or doesn’t smell? Some man I never saw before? I won’t do it. I refuse. Why can’t they let me alone? Why can’t I have my own opinions? Why do I have to get in on this — insanity?”

The analyst smiled tolerantly. “That’s a little harsh, Don. You’re out of phase with your society, you know. So the cultural climate and mores seem a trifle unconvincing to you. But this is your society; you have to live in it. You can’t withdraw.”

Walsh forced his hands to relax. “Here’s what I think. Any man who wants to smell should be allowed to smell. Any man who doesn’t want to smell should go and get his glands removed. What’s the matter with that?”

“Don, you’re avoiding the issue.” The robot’s voice was calm, dispassionate. “What you’re saying is that neither side is right. And that’s foolish, isn’t it? One side must be right.”

did we not hear this in 2016?, it was the news channels, Hey Don!, an intellectual virgin,

“I have a right to hold my own ideas.”

“No, Don,” the robot answered gently. “They’re not your ideas; you didn’t create them. You can’t turn them on and off when you feel like it. They operate through you… they’re conditionings deposited by your environment. What you believe is a reflection of certain social forces and pressures. In your case the two mutually-exclusive social trends have produced a sort of stalemate. You’re at war with yourself… you can’t decide which side to join because elements of both exist in you.” The robot nodded wisely. “But you’ve got to make a decision. You’ve got to resolve this conflict and act. You can’t remain a spectator… you’ve got to be a participant. Nobody can be a spectator to life… and this is life.”

at his own advice, this is life,

“You mean there’s no other world but this business about sweat and teeth and hair?”

the third option, prescient of his own fiction, that channel didn’t make any sense, wait a second she’s getting paid to say that!, the robot’s umblical, he controlling institutions of society (Fox News and MSNBC), so creepy, a freaky world, on the nose, about any two parties or topics, the life extension program, Chew-Z vs. Can-D, a reaction against consumerism,

“I wish they’d get it over with, once and for all,” Betty complained. “Was it always this way? I don’t remember always hearing about politics when I was a child.”

men uncomfortable in their bodies, the beautiful androids of Marissa’s neighborhood, an alien philosopher pig (Beyond Lies The Wub), flabby, a tuft of the rough hair, a tear rolled down the wub’s cheek and splashed on the floor, you’re fat!,

“They didn’t call it politics, back in those days. The industrialists hammered away at the people to buy and consume. It centered around this hair-sweat-teeth purity; the city people got it and developed an ideology around it.”

Betty set the table and brought in the dishes of food. “You mean the Purist political movement was deliberately started?”

“They didn’t realize what a hold it was getting on them. They didn’t know their children were growing up to take such things as underarm perspiration and white teeth and nice-looking hair as the most important things in the world. Things worth fighting and dying for. Things important enough to kill those who didn’t agree.”

“The Naturalists were country people?”

“People who lived outside the cities and weren’t conditioned by the stimuli.” Walsh shook his head irritably. “Incredible, that one man will kill another over trivialities. All through history men murdering each other over verbal nonsense, meaningless slogans instilled in them by somebody else — who sits back and benefits.”

big-endians and the little-endians, Babylon 5‘s Drazi, Green. Purple!, we all have this, eyebrow threading, every unit, a nail salon, a dental salon, a hair salon, the alcohol store, no bookstores, the dog’s cant smell bad either, waste excretion tubes, still suits Dune by Frank Herbert, Counter-Clock World, hairless future humans, transcending the body, hatred of the body, consciousness uploading, The Quiet American by Graham Greene, eating vitamin paste, so ridiculous, trying to sell this story, this is not a New Yorker story, a satire, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift,

The police spread efficiently into the room. Standing around the immobile Carl, they examined him briefly, then moved away. “No body odor,” the police sergeant disagreed. “No halitosis. Hair thick and well-groomed.” He signalled, and Carl obediently opened his mouth. “Teeth white, totally brushed. Nothing non-acceptable. No, this man is all right.”

WWII, torchlight rallies, 1984, the Anti-Sex League, I’m proud of my smell, untenable, re-education, dying for the right to not care, bound up with belief, “red hair and beer-swollen features”, a plutonium ring, depleted uranium, a sissy kissing purist (turning us all into women), putting on make-up, why? why are we doing this to ourselves, Axe Body Spray, high-heels were invented for men in the 18th century French courts, you’re lucky we’re on the internet, on behalf of society, Code Red, billowing scent clouds, bread and coffee, a fun story to teach to kids, what is the illustration supposed to mean?, is it supposed to be symbolic?, two giant arms, nothing that happens in the story, low stakes, of our reality, mimics so much of what you’re seeing in the media, you lib-tard, you cuck, you’re thallamicly oriented, the animals vs. the lilies, that’s the rhetoric, you call this a peaceful protest, windows smashed, great damage done, Can a robot think for a man?, rejecting the robots advice, not caring, playing within the rules of the society, what people don’t like about Trump, you can’t say it that way, his political incorrectness is what people find offensive, in this story, in our reality, on the purist side, the sound of people chewing, don’t chew in her presence, last thoughts?, Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, snarky vs. full horror, Vonnegut starts with horror and then goes tricky, a double take, such a funny story, how easy it is to completely brainwash people,

Walsh waved gratefully. “Thanks,” he called up. “I appreciate that.”

“Not at all,” the gray-haired man answered, cheerfully examining a broken tooth. His voice dwindled, as the disc gained altitude. “Always glad to help out a fellow…” The final words came drifting to Walsh’s ears. “… A fellow Purist.”

“I’m not!” Walsh shouted futilely. “I’m not a Purist and I’m not a Naturalist! You hear me?”

a total Dick move, Beyond The Door, do you think it was suicide?, I didn’t mean that…, but nobody heard him,

“I’m not,” Walsh repeated monotonously, as he sat at the dinner table spooning up creamed corn, potatoes, and rib steak.

Philip K. Dick food, what side is the mother on?, you can’t vote, a card carrying boot-stamping member, the left handed party and the right handed party, star-bellied Sneetches, Star Trek, endlessly fighting for all eternity.

The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick - pg. 86

The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick - illustration

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #410 – READALONG: Protector by Larry Niven

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

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #410 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Protector by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
1973, Galaxy, June 1967, The Adults by Larry Niven, Phssthpok, the name of the ship, the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Human, and Eagle, baby angels, beaked, going deeper, the seraphim, Cherubism

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

the end

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

how the aliens are described, aliens, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, previous encounters with Larry Niven, channeling all sorts of things, what did Maissa think?, a softer spot for Larry Niven, not sexist at all, Larry Niven’s best book, an abrupt ending, incomplete pieces, more Kobold, the artificial planetoid, Eden II, the first paperback release of Protector, a donut shaped planet with a tibit (Tim Horton’s), the belly button of the donut, donut holes, a monster or a fairy, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, by all the Lords of Kobol, clicks, Battlestar Galactica, going Old Testament, going Mormon, a masterful novel, The Ringworld Engineers as a reprise of Protector, Ringworld as the light fun novel, the ending is so good, the horror, genocide, fighting for humanity, Roy Truesdale, tricking the nurses, fake cities, WWII, inflatable tanks, a page break, it seems only reasonable to novelize this report, that was fun, check the duplicate Stonehenge, the final three paragraphs, just behind this laser pulse, “I love you”, the novel is wrong, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, Betrayer Of Worlds, Protector has enough space battle to kill actual space battle novel (barring crappy space opera space battles), space seeds, biological bullshit, a highly motivated character, deeply reasoned, a quasi relative, the opposite of X-Wings and Tie fighters banking in outer space, we love it anyway, exactly the opposite, cool vs. functional, steel jacketed, magnetic field, the thinking behind the space battles wipes out everyone (writer’s) abilities to write any more, a galactic chess game vs. high-stakes poker, sub-light relativistic space battles, positional effects, Rules Of Engagement (or maybe Master of Orion ?, C.S. Forester, broadsides in space, a Frederick Pohl editorial from 1963, Spacewar! (literally mentioned in this book), Asteroids, a right turn in space, that’s why Larry Niven’s the best, playing with the laws of physics and he doesn’t cheat, the Hal Clement essay, honest poker, the panspermia aspect, World Of Ptavvs, the slavers, Homo habilis from the stars, dna based, the Slavers did it, the Sea Statue, a dissertation of free will, two divergent visions of Creation, when god stays or leaves, no progress, still animals, the image of the Eye and the Garden of Eden, the Eye In The Sky, I can see you – I can see through bushes, no art, Brennan can see, a sense of whimsy, a fun character, was Brennan a fake?, Truesdale’s protector, motivation, take me to you leader, so playful, he is their leader, amazing, paying fees, Oldavai, Crete, still in the breeding stage, a good book, bunches of questions and points, building the Ringworld, a different library, an expedition to Earth, an expedition to star X, their achilles’ heel, Ringworld Engineers is all echoes, we needed this book, Alice as in Alice In Wonderland, she left pregnant, play in the fields, but do not touch…, tell her about the Bluebeard myth (aka The Castle Of Murder), an egg, a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg, you do not want to open that door, you do not want to eat of those Trees, the solution to the mystery of the novel, everyone has been kidnapped is a descendant of Brennan, farming and cultivating descendants, Brennan monster is playful in his play, Vandervecken, making a myth he can enjoy, consciousness before being changed, the vampires get consciousness in Ringworld Engineers, does it help you to have whimsy, the jury is out, a message of despair, the Pak is coming, the Kzinti, The Mote In God’s Eye, hard lessons, genocide, moties, motivation by need, Brennan painting his spacesuit, biding his time, a medieval castle, progeny, deep down the point is art is good, if you’re smart enough there is very little free choice, Teela Brown’s luck, the same subject, the root is perpetuated by a virus, colonizing the pak, what is smartness except efficiency, crossing a continent, struggling with money, why do people want it, what is money anyway?, money is food, keeping your food safe with food, why does Trump need more money, operating as a logical creature it is to make his progeny better off, it worked for Genghis, inheritance, straight out the genes, what motivates people, biological determinism, everyone needs motivation, stop eating, grasping after fake visions of punishment (or reward), a “death wish”, like Phssthpok I’ve made all human children my beneficiaries, the Public Domain PDF Page, a hip street, channeling Frank Sinatra, taking photographs, not sanguine, Larry Niven’s own financial circumstances, writing SF for a long period of time, Greg Bear, Halo novels, Blood Music don’t put money on the table, Niven’s work is playful, the reason for Niven’s renown, making the piece the best piece it can be, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, collaborations, there are no spoilers,

Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…
-Dirk Grobbelaar

Among Others by Jo Walton, all his human characters blur together, Walton has a point, psychoanalyzing, SF isn’t a costume drama, John W. Campbell’s challenge: write me an alien that thinks as well as a man but unlike a man, Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves, Arrival, the story and the movie, Understand by Ted Chiang, Limitless (2011), and the rightly cancelled Limitless TV series, like the Minority Report TV show, from the sub-conscious to uplift and unconscious and conscious, Flowers For Algernon, flourishing and protected, seeing the manipulation happening, Sherlock Holmes, seeing the pattern no one else can see, intelligence, politics and the failures of politics, intelligence vs. manipulation, a smart person doesn’t gamble unless they know it isn’t a gamble, a war longer than the quagmire of the Vietnam War, all of that struggle, that’s the opposite of intelligence, Niven is right about intelligence and options, Brennan is not as bound, the golf course, did Brennan ever play the golf course that he built?, this would be good, having thought those through, how we see Brenna when he interacts with his Adam and Eve, he runs, the next thing that needs to be done, the efficiency we gain as adults, pretending to play dolls, the exigencies of adulthood, being a smart adult, I put away childish things, playing with LEGO, an angle to attack, LEGO as a awards, appreciating the enjoyment of play, having consciousness of his childhood, creations for a purpose, sharing vs. hoarding, pondering deep things, the mother vs. the father, Brennan’s modified suit with the Mother and Child, a savior figure, he’s the Madonna, their garden, playthings for the children, the Sol system is Brennan’s garden, have you noticed you haven’t had war?, exterminating the Martians, The Organleggers, capital crimes, China, the horror of rationality, organ transplantation, the RNA sequence, wiping your whole mind, the premise of Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck, Rammer by Larry Niven, A World Out Of Time, greater than human intelligence, we were manipulated into it, The Draco Tavern, playful comedic pieces, here’s a problem of science and here’s my solution, jokes, a whole subgenre of bar stories, The Callahan books by Spider Robinson, Lord Dunsany’s The Jorkens Stories, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, chirality, thalidomide, an iceberg, Known Space, just one of Niven’s playgrounds, Hard Fantasy, The Magic Goes Away, as you use magic you deplete a natural resource, magic carpet, a dead spot, and back in these days amoeba were the size of whales, that’s how little magic is left, a Niven disc, a sense of sadness, set in the time of Atlantis, The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak, Niven as an efficient writer, jarring transitions, needing an editor, better than Clement, sex, a vitality, the weather is a little to clement in Clement’s world, Harry Stubbs, revisiting Protector, given Tree Of Life now Paul would… stop eating? wiping out half of humanity for reasons known only to him… in the New World Order, remaining human, being a mom, maternal feelings, a screaming red thing that came out of your body, are Protectors more like moms than dads?, genderless, oh sweetie, killing off all the creatures that threaten her children, warlike, a mother wouldn’t do that, is Niven right?, if you’re smart enough are their fewer and fewer courses of action?, the Teela monster, pretty sure Niven was never a mom, fierce viking grandparents, no free will, different motivation and different results, why does Brennan wait to convert Truesdale, poor Brennan, too much talking baby-talk, gender as an honorific, Protector Mom (please don’t write this as a sequel), something really original, a creation so original it is like a dragon or an elf, seeing the cat vs. monkey you’ve always wanted, the super-strong hominid vs. the intelligent tiger, Speaker vs. Teela, as Douglas Adams put it “Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.”, we got our own stuff going, the Traveller universe, most excellent.

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Ballantine Books (1973) Protector by Larry Niven

Protector by Larry Niven - illustration by H.R. Von Dongen

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #400 – READALONG: The Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick

December 19, 2016 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #400 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Wayne June talk about The Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison, early crystallized, fantasy, science fiction, a great story, which perspective, Roll Them Bones by Fritz Leiber, a weird gnostic sort of thing, religious and gnostic themes, a scary herald, comforting, the one last comfort, first impressions, kind of amazing, so Philip K. Dick, almost Lovecraftian cosmic horror, politics, some of the best parts of his novels, Mr Lovecraft himself, amazing things to say, 1968, under LSD, written on LSD?, the Philip K. Dick fans website, Latin and Aramaic, a grain of salt and a tab of acid, what a good writer PKD is, the cigar keeps going out, how shocking, this is a retelling of 1984, 1984 meets the Doors Of Perception, Big Brother is God, the dystopia he’s living in, watching TV as a part of the job, reverse cultural imperialism, the ancient art of American steer roping, Julia (from 1984), Tanya, secret societies, being roped into a conspiracy against the part, agitprop, a great cynicism, astoundingly interesting, LSD in the water, anti-psychotic snuff, seeing behind the illusion, one of twelve possible realities, 1984 is not our world, modern politics, customized ads and emails, propaganda, you don’t taste it anymore, the desert of the real, stolen from The Matrix, a terrifying reality, have sex and drugs until you die (the moral of the story), there are things worse than I, what could be worse, very Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, topless and bottomless, glowing boobs, a mutant, low on affect, as horrific as anything in H.P. Lovecraft, powerful imagery, a genius all over the map, neo-Platonism, I am everything, I created the party, I created the anti-party, relativism, no objective reality,

It was terrible; it blasted him with its awareness. As it moved it drained the life from each person in turn; it ate the people who had assembled, passed on, ate again, ate more with an endless appetite. It hated; he felt its hate. It loathed; he felt its loathing for everyone present — in fact he shared its loathing. All at once he and everyone else in the big villa were each a twisted slug, and over the fallen slug carcasses the creature savored, lingered, but all the time coming directly toward him — or was that an illusion? If this is a hallucination, Chien thought, it is the worst I have ever had; if it is not, then it is evil reality; it’s an evil thing that kills and injures. He saw the trail of stepped-on, mashed men and women remnants behind it; he saw them trying to reassemble, to operate their crippled bodies; he heard them attempting speech.

what would be seeing?, it’s metaphor, a return to chaos, like meeting a celebrity and falling under their sway, interesting political, reading Hillary [Clinton] emails, seeing behind the curtain, plans and strategies, when on the drug of reality (instead of the public face of it), seeing everything for what it is, Netflix, London Has Fallen, Channel Zero, ruined for generic Hollywood movies, giving speeches while smashing an enemy in the face, since Independence Day, people watching the movie with us, the proxy for the audience, “we authorized it through the G8”, writing is solving problems, the whole of the movie depends on a tiny little linchpin, it’s all about economics, cartoonish, ISIS and the Saudis and the Clintons, destabilize your enemies and reinforce your allies, some people think that Hillary is the more sane response, behind closed doors speech, a public face and a private face, very pragmatic, she dissembles, since the days of the Roman senate, the veils are lifted, fear has infected them, he has revealed the fakeness all around them, he’s so fake he’s genuine, the clanker, the gulper, the climbing tube, the bird, politics and truth-telling, Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, diving into the greatest depression of your existence, consciousness is an accident of evolution, the atheist existential point, in order to survive emotionally, I want to it to go back the way it was, a gelatinous thing with a million eyes,

And then it ceased talking to him; it disjoined itself. But he still saw it; he felt its manifold presence. It was a globe which hung in the room, with fifty thousand eyes, a million eyes — billions: an eye for each living thing as it waited for each thing to fall, and then stepped on the living thing as it lay in a broken state. Because of this it had created the things, and he knew; he understood. What had seemed in the Arabic poem to be death was not death but God; or rather God was death, it was one force, one hunter, one cannibal thing, and it missed again and again but, having all eternity, it could afford to miss. Both poems, he realized; the Dryden one too. The crumbling; that is our world and you are doing it. Warping it to come out that way; bending us.

the window!, THE WINDOW!, don’t fall on my account,

“Don’t fall on my account,” it said. He could not see it because it had moved behind him. But the piece of it on his shoulder — it had begun to look like a human hand. And then it laughed.

“What’s funny?” he demanded, as he teetered on the railing, held back by its pseudo-hand.

“You’re doing my task for me,” it said. “You aren’t waiting; don’t have time to wait? I’ll select you out from among the others; you don’t need to speed the process up.”

shaking hands with Hillary Clinton, politics can distract us from reality, politics as a filter, seeing the world through a different filter, relativism, that’s why Aldous Huxley and Timothy Leary tried to redefine what the drug was doing to you, psychedelic, philosophy, natural experiments, giving a blind person sight and having them recognize what they’d previously recognized with their hands, our minds don’t just take in and process information, drugs break the filters of projection, when you see someone smiling and giving you a message on TV, Barack Obama is a master of this, the TPP, the Dakota Access Pipeline, Bill Maher, The Jimmy Dore Show, The Young Turks, RomneyCare is ObamaCare, the Democrats stole the money and positions from the Republicans, Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, Hillary workers on TV, exploitation plan, George Carlin and the big club, he’s a socialist of course he’s naive, he met a wood-chipper, who will be to blame?, who will be responsible?, arguing about nothing related to any of the issues that anyone cares about, the absolute benefactor, a Caucasian from New Zealand, it’s icky and you don’t want to deal with it,

“Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unselfconscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.”

the argument goes: lalalalalalal, block it out, we’re not just meat-sacks, Doctor Strange, the terror of the multiverse, atheist = asshole, shining a light on an uncomfortable truth, but we’re happy, I could have steak again, chemtrails are something to worry about, the Kardashians, reality and ignoring things, The Congress (2013), an animated reality, they want the delusion, there are multiple deserts, retreat to the Cambrian, getting mopped up with a towel,

That evening in his small but well-appointed condominium apartment he read over the other of the two examination papers, this one by a Marion Culper, and discovered that it, too, dealt with poetry. Obviously this was speciously a poetry class, and he felt ill. It had always run against his grain, the use of poetry — of any art — for social purposes. Anyhow, comfortable in his special spine-straightening, simulated-leather easy chair, he lit a Cuesta Rey Number One English Market immense corona cigar and began to read.

The writer of the paper, Miss Culper, had selected as her text a portion of a poem of John Dryden, the seventeenth-century English poet, final lines from the well-known “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day.”

. . . So when the last and dreadful hour
rumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky.

Well, that’s a hell of a thing, Chien thought to himself bitingly. Dryden, we’re supposed to believe, anticipated the fall of capitalism? That’s what he meant by the “crumbling pageant”? Christ. He leaned over to take hold of his cigar and found that it had gone out. Groping in his pockets for his Japanese-made lighter, he half rose to his feet.

then a page break,

At a quarter to three in the morning, as he sat sleepless in the living room of his conapt, smoking one Cuesta Rey Astoria after another, a knock sounded at the door.

When he opened it he found himself facing Tanya Lee in her trenchcoat, her face pinched with cold. Her eyes blazed, questioningly.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he said roughly. His cigar had gone out; he relit it. “I’ve been looked at enough,” he said.

“You saw it,” she said.

He nodded.

She seated herself on the arm of the couch and after a time she said, “Want to tell me about it?”

“Go as far from here as possible,” he said. “Go a long way.” And then he remembered: no way was long enough. He remembered reading that too.

the attempts at distraction failing, the title, the legless war veteran, a full novel’s worth of ideas bubbling,

“We can’t win,” he said. “You can’t win; I don’t mean me. I’m not in this; I just wanted to do my job at the Ministry and forget it. Forget the whole damned thing.”

“Is it non-terrestrial?”

“Yes.” He nodded.

“Is it hostile to us?”

“Yes,” he said. “No. Both. Mostly hostile.”

when he’s on the ledge, his shoulder has begun to bleed, a stigmata, the anti-god that rules the universe, Prince Of Darkness, the god of The Sims player, we’re evil, Ray Nelson’s Eight O’Clock In The Morning, Philip K. Dick gave the manuscript copy of this story to Ray Nelson, Rowdy Roddy Piper, one of the greatest movies ever filmed, They Live! now has added relevance, is it hostile to us?, it’s not one thing, Nietzsche: “God is dead”, Philip K. Dick: “no, They live.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #389 – READALONG: The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick

October 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #389 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick.

talked about on today’s show:
1965, 1966, Worlds Of Tomorrow, Project Plowshare, 1967, the original outline, greedy copyright reasons, Pyramid Books, an awful name, expecting less, anger, making fun of itself, if you don’t have a love in your heart for Science Fiction…, the subtitle:

“Being that Most Excellent Account of Travails and Contayning Many Pretie Hystories By Him Set Foorth in Comely Colours and Most Delightfully Discoursed Upon as Beautified and Well Furnished Divers Good and Commendable in the Gesiht of Men of That Most Lamentable Wepens Fasoun Designer Lars Powderdry and What Nearly Became of Him Due to Certain Most Dreadful Forces.”

Jack Vance, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative Of A. Gordon Pym Of Nantucket, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, a pretty good satire, the Cold War, time travel, slaver aliens from Sirius, more than one naked boob is illegal, the most analog for Dick is the cartoonist, a pretty terrible plot, the book is a “turkey”, making the novel work somehow, the book Dick would want to survive WWIII, a very Dickian perspective, an apology as to why scholars should ignore certain Dick comments, self-parody, confabulation, a drug trance half-dream state, Dick is an emotional sponge, emotionally engaging, disintegration of the mind, a person becomes so involved in an artificial world they get sucked into it, Don Packard, fake weapons, would-be fascist, Surly, F for fungus, very Swiftian, 18th and 19th century roman à cleff, Dick isn’t at his best when Dick is talking about people with real power, presidents and councils vs. drinking coffee at home and sitting on park benches, the Park Bench action aspect of Philip K. Dick novels, a book about politics, the subtitle helps the reader, the cogs and the pursaps (the cognoscenti and the “pure saps”), Dick’s take on George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty Four, collaboration with the enemy, a three-sided conflict, the inner party, the outer part, self-delusion, more traditional Dickian themes, a lot of acronyms, how to look at it, Was Philip K. Dick A Bad Writer? article

Febbs was that unhampered, unbureaucratically restricted, elected leader. Of their clandestine political revolutionary-type organization which (after long debate) had titled itself, menacingly, the BOCFDUTCRBASEBFIN, The Benefactors of Constitutional Freedoms Denied Under the Contemporary Rule By a Small Elite By Force If Necessary. Cell One.

the acronym explosion after WWII, BATF, NATO, MAD, you’re a cog if you know all of these acronyms, the reins of power, being man-in-the-mazed (verb), Lars Powderdry, Victor Klug, mind disintegration, a lot of etymology in this book

“Do you know what the English word ‘to care’ comes from?” he said, as he poured her coffee for her from the obedient gadget wired to the stove.

“No.” She seated herself at the table, looked gravely at the ashtray with its moribund remains of yesterday’s discarded cigars and winced.

“The Latin word caritas. Which means love or esteem.” ‘

“Well.”

“St. Jerome,” he said, “used it as a translation of the Greek world agape which means even more.”

Lilo drank her coffee, silently.

was Marissa aware of herself as a being in the 1980s?, when Gorbachev had meeting with Reagan…, the Evil Empire, Tear Down This Wall, they were get along pretty well on TV, they like coffee and golfing too, relations with Putin (except for Trump), that’s a strongman, Hitler admiring Mussolini, the Russian weapons haven’t been plowshared, childrens toys, advice givings owls, brazen heads, weapons were fashion in the 1960s, celebrating new developments in weapons technology, the first Iron Man movie, Tony Stark’s dad, Captain America: Civil War, Iron Man is a weapon to powerful to give to the military, War-Machine is tony stark with camouflage-on, the suit and I are one, where comics tie-into it, comics at the forefront, for every super-powered hero you create you need a super-powered villain, after the KKK who is left?, SPECTRE and SMERSH, the North Koreans, Julian Assange, without a villain it wont work, the Sirians, no screen time from the aliens from Sirius, one trick Dick missed, the old what-we-need-to-unite-the-world-is-an-alien-invasion ploy, Cuba!, the Iranians!, ISIS!, Russia is less of a worry (seemingly), NATO expansion, Ukraine, don’t forget to nuke Marissa in Los Angeles, gone are the friendly meetings and handshakes, when Snowden first appeared on the news, when Glenn Greenwald went on TV, the machine of outrage in Washington (D.C.), that’s not really what’s going on behind the scenes, the Surly F. Febbs, we need to get into these councils to join the ranks of those in the know, more tanks, more tank funding, Desert Storm, T-90s aren’t rolling up, the Battle of Kursk, the war economy turned into fashion, if you squint in the right way, the Hummer was plowshared, the real Hummer vs. the second generation, the H2 and the H3, or do all the other cars look like the, a giant owls that tells you about your life and holds your cigarettes, a bit of Penultimate Truth, Three Stigmata, inside-out, we have to create M.A.D., if you treat Russia disdainfully…, fake reality, put the population in danger, everything is good and light and nothing can hurt you, a real sense of reality, being less consumer oriented, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, turning people into rugs, the de-evolution gun, that’s another book, Colony by Philip K. Dick, humans from Earth, we’re going to ruin this place, beer cans and cigarette butts, shape-shifters, “I trusted the rug completely” by Robert Silverberg, I trust my bed not to strangle me, your boss’ phone is out to get you, The Twilight Zone (1985), stories can’t happen any more, Richard Matheson, so many Twilight Zones, the last chapter, am I going to kill myself?, Paul didn’t like chapter 32, conversations Philip K. Dick has with his wife, Iceland, his main girl was kind of awesome, super-smart and loving, falling in love with this teenager, the suicide ideation and discussion, you know there are advantages…, PKD books are almost all dialogue, talking about Bach, how would you rank The Zap Gun?, pretty high?, one of Marissa’s favourites, in the top half for Paul too, pot-boilers, The Man Who Japed, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, don’t you denigrate Martian Time-Slip!, big ones coming, Deus Irae is a muddled-mess (with redeeming features), more coherent, the narrator, don’t blame the narrator, this book doesn’t translate into audio that well, The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, hitting x2, Dick doesn’t put in filler (generally), digression and set-up, beautiful and funny, reading-along, sooo funny, sticking with choices, con-comedy, keeping your powder-dry, be reasonable, have your weapons ready, “If you want peace, prepare for war”, slow paper reading for this one, not having the subtitle is mistake, lazy-ass fucks, what the hell are they thinking?, so stupid, it’s in there for a reason, nobody else wrote that for him, rent-seeking lazy ass fucks, the PKD estate just got offended, obfuscating what the book is doing, a cover that looks like nothing, the whole premise of this book, the lurid ACE Books, even more lurid, purple and yellow, super lurid, a dude pointing the zap gun at the next book over on the shelf, my people want to read a book like this, dis-owning every idea Dick had by deleting the meaning for the art, we hit the Jesse button, obfuscating the artists intent leads to consumer unhappiness, wub-fur, wub-like, wubs are from Venus, wubs are hiding in every PKD universe (even when they’re not in the text), getting sucked into the experience, how Philip K. Dick gets obsessed with games, The Game Players Of Titan, dinner’s ready!, the little man never able to escape, trying to be a big success, still running around that maze, a metaphor for Dick’s own career, his whole job is to make you empathize, trying to trap your mind, Dick is disintegrating our minds with his inconsistencies

Packard wound up: “S. G. Febbs fell victim to the Empathic-Telepathic whatever-it’s-called Maze and shortly succumbed-in fact in record time, beating the smallest period established by voluntary prisoners from the Wes-bloc federal pen on Callisto.

“S. G. Febbs,” he declared into the mike in conclusion, “is now at Wallingford Clinic, where he will remain indefinitely.”

after Dick committed his wife, who is Surly G. Febs based on?, why you need a key, Tuckerising, there are these books: Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, de-Tuikerized, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, that’s Heinlein that’s Le Guin, what you lose over time with an old book, seeing the Trump-analog, before or after JFK or RFK, acreeted material, Murder At the ABA by Isaac Asimov, Darius Dust = dry as dust = Isaac Asimov, the analog for Harlan Ellison, really old paperbooks, notes by previous owners, a lot of readers seem to be insane, easy to do with a Dick novel, making those connections is hard, The Search For Philip K. Dick by Anne R. Dick.

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Project Plowshare by Philip K. Dick

Pyramid Books - The Zap Gun by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #387 – READALONG: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

September 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #387 – Jesse, Paul, and Julie Davis talk about Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein.

Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding Science Fiction, February, March, April 1956, Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, making connections, good job, 100% first person, mistaken shallow perception -> deeper understanding, The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain, The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope, the LibriVox audiobook levelated and made beautiful, humour, light, twitter conversation “bland” vs. “light”, bubbles along, swashbuckler, Heinlein is that you?, this is a book about politics, here are all the political systems, making fun of Heinlein is very easy, bullheaded, popular quotes, one character sitting in a room and another character walks in and says “no”, refusing, listen to me young man I am the old man and I know best, Heinlein’s negotiation tactic is brinkmanship, it’s not your turn, more about politics and racism and perception (than SF), I think my father would be proud that my life is a work of art, from Lorenzo Smythe’s POV, a failed actor, not a loser, penniless, working as a stripper, the illustrations from the serialization, this is not in the book, non-info-dump info-dumps, Coriolis vs. Coriolanus, narrator Lloyd James, in the voice of Bonforte, a better person or politician than Bonforte, remember Bill, a bunch of people talking on a spaceship, not a juvenile, Hitler, Satan, assuming the attributes of divinity, a politically astute novel, Heinlein’s earlier jobs, owning a silver mine, running for political office, being in the room, libertarian, California state assembly 1948, no prizes for second place in politics, an British parliamentary system, William King Of The Dutch and Emperor of The Earth, Queen Elizabeth II (former Empress), head of state vs. head of government, when you go to visit Lincoln, Lincoln is a God in the temple, larger than life, a Greek temple, The Simpsons, political corruption, the Jefferson memorial, you went to Lincoln first!, understanding why the book is resonant, the emperor of Known Space likes playing with trains, meeting the Queen, no statue for John Major, 100 units in pocket, politics as a team sport vs. saviors, taking care of the day-to-day crap, Primary Colors (1998), John Hightower, I take that on so you can get something done, taking on the mantle of the President, there’s no special charm to Prime Ministers (usually), confidence votes, the show must go on, “always take sides”, the “poltroons”, a second look, the title, human = martian, equality for all, doubling, Lorenzo Smythe = Lawrence Smith, an instinctual hate of the aliens, squiggly arms, hating aliens is racism, the aliens are just Texans, the life wand, induction into the Martian clan, introduction at William’s court, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin’s lecture on Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, the TV Tropes entry on Double Star, orange morality and blue morality, wise man and straw man, showing up late, a cycle humans keep falling into, a 1970 Double Star cover, a modern art prize (2000 Turner Prize) controversy, Stuckists and Sad Puppies, scale matters (?), Marcel Duchamp, “artist”, Fountain, ponies?, movements for and against, Paul’s biased POV, taking umbrage, Rabid Puppies, SF is overrun with leftists (?), “no award”, like every awards thing, TOR Books, inclusionary authors, Larry Correia’s books, U.S. elections, trying to destroy the system, SJW = social justice warrior, what’s fundamentally interesting about Double Star is that we’re in on a massive fraud to subvert democracy, Humans First, for Jefferson’s sake, takes the facts the same story from the other side: a response book, I don’t want people walking around with open carry for their “life wands”, no guns allowed signs in Texas churches, The Good Wife, the Hillary Clinton – Bill Clinton story, telling lies in public, seeing politics from up close and personal, The West Wing, Dave (1993), a little humour there, “sick”, the wife, a little bit inverted, interesting parallels, taking the role and making it better, he’s better at Bonforte than Bonforte was, to be an actor you have to be every man, I’d like Jack the Ripper, an unreliable narrator, the theatrical way he describes himself, he thinks it’s all true, hyperbolized in some ways, acting with a burst appendix, biology can be conquered by will, ripping off the novel/plot, Moon Over Parador (1988), The Magnificent Fraud (1939), we are rooting for the hero, who is ripping off who?, it depends on what you do with it, To Be Or Not To Be (1942), To Be Or Not To Be (1983), the new Ben Hur, going by Hugos or awards or contests, Connie Willis, the Oscars, Guardians Of The Galaxy, two CG characters and it doesn’t suck?, being burned by award winners, Theeb, a disillusioning moment, boycotting and protesting, N. K. Jemisin, a Heinlein letter, race relations, the lucky ones were the ones that were enslaved, the inciting incident, Heinlein was the most liberal of SF writers, more left than Wells, a Missouri dude who was always into pushing fellow humans, “huh, he’s Filipino”, “he’s not even American!”, Heinlein’s always pushing talking heads that turn out to be diverse, Farnham’s Freehold, time travel, Blacks have taken over the world, castrating the son, cannibals, a less PC version of Planet Of The Apes, the Pierre Boulle book is a comedy (satire), Pierre Boulle, the ending of the Planet Of The Apes is a comedy, sexism, Charlton Heston in the Civil Rights movement, for both martians and men, making peace amongst all, here’s my problem, get in the system, The Fifth Season, where’s the idea?, where’s the idea?, Cory Doctorow does Heinlein in Little Brother, paint by numbers, Robert J. Sawyer, that shows the diversity you find in Toronto, the magic system is based on the manipulation of earth (geological) forces, it’s anti-racist, it’s important to be seeing doing it, more Bonforte than Bonforte, more Heinlein than Heinlein, the one female character, Heinlein doesn’t understand women, criticizing Dickens, he’s terrible at writing other humans, his villains are stick-figures, the old man, the young looking older woman, and the young narrator who has to be taught, transcending limitations, he’s bad at women who aren’t from the 1940s, violence towards women was an everyday thing, assault with violence, not that I laid a finger on her, proper and sensible hitting, the way people talked back then, from the wife-beating 1950s, acting like this guy, no no no no no, totally unrealistic, a six hour book, SFFworld.com, Double Star was written in three weeks, creep in.

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #378 – READALONG: The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick

July 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #378 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, not exactly a fix-up, this novel’s DNA, The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, the next draft, the main character’s problem was Dick’s problem, an idea, another Yance-woman, a sausage fest, did you’re arm fall off again?, “the well-informed dead rat romped under the tongue-tied pink log”, a new ACE or Ballantine book, more cohesive and clearer, all ideas are undercooked, the Wikipedia summary, The Defenders feels like junk, but translated to the novel… a sequel to The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy is excellent, reading The Mold Of Yancy helps you understand The Penultimate Truth, conapts with wall to wall wub-fur carpeting, artiforgs (artificial organs), Yancy in the novel vs. the short story, a syndicate, a quasi-corporatist government short, the Kardashians and Gwyneth Paltrow, set on Callisto, a totalitarian government, letting in spies, his spidey-sense, he’s like Ronald Regan, a fireside chat, Dick’s analysis of our North American society is dead on, war is bad but just wars have to be fought, cats are definitely better than dogs, political correctness, media pushing (or pulling) society in different directions, a perfect fit, a nice welding, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, worried about the overseer, strap on your vault suit, he’s a companion, a NPC, leadies are Mister Handies, the robot companions, Hugh Howey’s whole career, the same premise and ideas as Wool, ant tanks, vaults (and silos), WWIII, The Game-Players Of Titan, neo-fuedalism, squabbling fiefdoms, the MegaVac computer echoes Vulcan II or III, Isaac Asimov’s MultiVac, the plot with Brose and Lantano, re-purposing people across stories, the leadies are slaves, a good Goodreads review, the 1% and the 99%, labouring under delusion, a damn fine analysis, the scandal of the day, obedience, Paul is a history fan, a Roman society, Sulla and Pompey, the triumvirates, private armies, the land grant system is very Roman, proto-feudal (or manorial), Cheyenne is nuked again, Estes Park, Colorado, Philip K. Dick has to throw everything into the crockpot, Pretty Blue Fox, Lincoln Apartments, the Tom Mix tank, 290 movies, Tom Mix had five wives, Philip K. Dick dressed like a movie cowboy, clear evidence you’re living in a Philip K. Dick world, ask me about Plato, The Defenders and The Penultimate Truth are modeled after Plato’s the Myth of the Cave, gin and tonic vs. beer, Dog Stories Monthly vs. the Journal Of Psychological Review, a gestalt, the art of Hieronymus Bosch, everything should be about challenging and questioning, Critical Thinking should be the only class in high-school, nothing can be challenged, no critical thinking, all Yancy’s beliefs are insipid, as close as possible to no beliefs, apolitical (without a viewpoint), William Tenn, Null-P, Dick was really influenced by A.E. van Vogt, “wow, my god!”, a preference for Kriegsspiel, a cosmic wrestling match, The Cosmic Puppets, a nice six hour game of Kriegsspiel, Bach’s art of the fugue, subdued by the plot, troweling it down a bit, The Unreconstructed M stuff, fun to read, a time traveling Cherokee warrior who walked in from another Dick story, Time Pawn, Dr. Futurity, fake artifacts of a fake alien invasion, it gells as a novel, a really good speech about a squirrel, an actual living squirrel, there’s no little scurrying creature at the end, a questionable bow,

However, Adams figures out Lantano was behind the deaths as part of his plot to bring down Brose. In desperation and fear, he joins up with St. James, who discovered a cache of artificial organs, and flees into the Tom Mix tank with him. They discover that Lantano was ultimately successful but contemplate that the biggest lie is yet to come.

that’s the ending and discovery of The Defenders, meeting the quota, they don’t let you out when you don’t meet the quota, there’s no reward and punishment, appreciating The Defenders, in Plato’s The Republic, PKD knows all about Plato (and The Odyssey), the Allegory Of the Cave,

Plato begins by asking Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do (“just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets”. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the shadowed wall, and the prisoners falsely believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave

fake destruction of San Fransisco, false reconstructions, Stalin with Roosevelt speaking Russian at the White House, 1984 by George Orwell,

Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed, being forced to turn and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it hard for him to see the objects that are casting the shadows. If he is told that what he saw before was not real but instead that the objects he is now struggling to see are, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the shadows of the carried objects. He writes “…it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.”

writing lies and having your son believe the lies, Hollywood,

Plato continues: “suppose…that someone should drag him…by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun.” The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him. The sunlight is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the freed prisoner is experiencing. Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself. Only after he can look straight at the sun “is he able to reason about it” and what it is.

a sign of madness,

Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.

other levels, the fake journal entries, the time scoop, in the geological strata, a critical thinking story, what makes us believe the Earth is as old as it is is evidence, pointing in the direction of a Truth, a little bit paranoid, Philip K. Dick has a whole story about it, an evidence laying assassin robot, questioning the science, then you have a Philip K. Dick story, Vulcan’s Hammer, a real theme he’s struggling with, don’t get into conversations with strangers, you’re a human being … I guess, it’s great to be in a country where you don’t understand the language, an afterword by Thomas Disch, a downhill racer of a writer,

If Dick had stopped to think (but that’s something a downhill racer can’t do), he might have realized that there was an essential dramatic disparity between the two stories he was trying to weld together. The Yancy part of the plot generated a story about dirty tricks in high places, a genre for which Dick possesses little flair (compare le Carré and his better imitators), while that element of the story that all readers remember, after the lapse of however many years, is the notion of the human race imprisoned in underground factories because they’ve been tricked into believing that a nuclear war has destroyed the world. It’s an extraordinarily resonant idea. One thinks of the dwellers in Plato’s cave who know nothing of the reality but the shadows cast on the wall; of the similar destiny of Wells’s Morlocks; of the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio; and of ourselves, living in the shadows of a nuclear threat that is only bearable by pretending that it does not exist. To have recognized that our situation is a kind of madness (“What, me worry?” sang the Titanic’s passengers) has not helped us toward a solution, for our situation with respect to the bomb is not much different in 1983 than it was in 1964. And for that reason The Penultimate Truth, for all its flaws, remains a book that can speak to the terror that is the bedrock of our social order.

plotting the distance away from a nuclear target in order to survive, a nuclear wasteland in every movie, an insipid Kardashianism seems to have taken over, we seem to have gotten worse, the fading away of the nuclear threat, the 99% accepting the 1%, breaking free from the cave seems impossible, the internet is our Yancy, like the same things on Facebook, we all have the same opinions, political correctness is like fascism except you can’t use that word, John Wayne day backlash (because he was apparently super-racist), Donald Trump is a power word, he’s willing to say whatever he wants to say, you have to come to that, arguing with the racism, Hieronymus Bosch are loveley, the Kriegsspiel argument, everyone should struggle with this, a dictate from on high or social mimesis, walking by the lottery counter, there’s no way to fix that, think about it, don’t just think the right thing because its the right thing, the re-writing rooms, the proles kind of ignore the prole-feed, the tankies who don’t know, the meek inheriting the Earth, maybe we aren’t meek enough, sprawling demesnes, the human condition, a good book, pulling the veil or reality aside, back to the shadows, from The Republic, the leadies are the leaden weights, the armies of the 1%, how much do you need to be educated, is it for gold or for lead?, Mr. Dick you did something with it, a downhill skier of a writer, add The Mold Of Yancy, he’s such a great idea man, he really engages with the situation, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Defenders is improved upon reflection,

The wonder is how often Dick was able to produce work of real interest and wit in these marathons of typewriting. For readers who read at a pace proportioned to his speed of writing (as most sf fans learn to do, or else cease being fans), the dull patches disappear into a haze of white powder as they careen down the slopes of the narrative. It is the ideas they are after, and Dick always provides more than a sufficiency of these.

Disch knew what Dick was all about, the longer novelettes, he has to pay the bills, too much plot, not enough story, welding together three stories, what was your process, MAN!?, Marissa attended a conference with a bunch of Dick wives and lovers, how much is reflected in what Marissa heard?, how much he loved everyone, feeling betrayed and angry, how funny he is, playing tricks on people, I love that Dick is seemingly incapable of being self-concious about what he loves, Roog, can you pick a subject that is less cosmic in scope, passionate about weird little things, watching a pilot for a new Science Fiction show, Colony (TV show), domesticity, “yeah, I’m out”, sympathy for the characters, overlaying crappily manipulative music, engaging with them in a real way, that dog was a real dog named Snooper, Jonathan Lethem, so good at self-examination, he’s the anti-facsist, he’s wise as well as crazy, he’s blind but he’s glimpsed greater truths, gnosticism, his fallout stories, we will miss them, you should be reading these PKD books, our listeners aren’t watching the Kardashians, are they?

The Defenders by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953

The Mold Of Yancy by Philip K. Dick - IF: Worlds Of Science Fiction, August 1955

The Unreconstructed M by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

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