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

The SFFaudio Podcast #442 – READALONG: The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

October 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #442 – Jesse, Scott, Maissa Bessada, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Talked about on today’s show:
1997, digitizing audiobooks, a historical piece, starts in the Spring and ends in the Fall, taking the gun out into the woods, murder, Ronald Reagan, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization), a chain of events, top cover, cutting the fat, Washington, DC, what you call National Airport (Ronald Reagan airport), of all things to name after Reagan, the turning point was when Carter lost the election, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater ads, what America was like in the late 1970s, a ‘we’re in this together’, so weird, refreshing, poor Bryan and Scott, a Go Fund Me for my dying brother or an author you might have read a story by, a different history, Scott’s family, realizing a lot of things, learning a lot of stuff, so many visions of what the future can be (from Science Fiction), the conservative is not how we get there, not even a scientist, Scott is very much in flux, staring open mouthed, When Worlds Collide, boiling under the ideas, who is in this?, who can we dispose of?, a man alone, he can’t depend on anyone, talking it over with his victims, a huge break between 1978 and 1982, income inequality, the Downton Abbey curve, you’re the help, one of the first literary works about neo-liberalism, professionalization, the government is hostile to you, homo economicus, Robinson Crusoe, the Decmocratic party’s turn to the right (in 1982), Regan -> Bush -> Clinton -> Bush II -> Obama, the Big Bang, the arguments that Burke makes, killing the shareholders and the CEOs wouldn’t work, will he get away with it?, should he get away with it?, automated manufacturing, meeting people like this guy, the air condition repair school, Scott’s the re-trainer, factories moving to Mexico, straight out of Scott’s life, how Westlake put this book together, a five page chapter on justification, killing people who don’t deserve it, the last lines, the cops wish him luck, he left it open, “I’m still going to get it.”, how cool Westlake is at making characters, backstories of their own, everyone in a Westlake novel has their own novel going, a house full of guns, the suit salesman, they all have middle names, some sort of sympathy, they have their own existence outside of that of the main character, a cousin or a brother out of work, looking for a job, the whole society is suffering, I didn’t know (at the time) Bill Clinton was a bad operator, Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, an issue at the time, Clinton’s undoing of Glass-Steagall banking regulations, NAFTA, who is to blame, being triggered, The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck, it’s not my fault, a two page POLI-SCI exercise, one of the most radical books in American literature, the French movie adaptation, does the end justify the means, that’s what it comes down to, they say that in wartime, this is a war book, the Vietnam War, this war is personal, resumes, everyone has been in the military, Burke Devore, Burke the smotherer, Devore = the eater, the consumer, Arcadia = utopia, Sleepy Hollow, bucolic or suburban, Westlake lived in upstate New York, prime rustbelt area, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, change is inevitable, elevator operators, the greed of the corporation, there is never enough, we can make more money, cultures, when you’re in the American bubble, the entire newsmedia can ignore vast swaths of reality, South Korea is super-duper-capitalistic, how powerful a tiny little peninsula can throw out companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, an implicit deal, the society doesn’t throw people away, trashing productive people in productive companies, whether he’s right or not the sentiment is right on, everyone is in the same boat, he’s the only one who has taken this technique to heart, the movie version’s ending, could a woman do your job, the same scary path, how effective it is, pulling a Westlake, Wanda Holloway (killing a cheerleader’s mother), the decline in violent crime, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Pinker, Freakonomics, leaded gas, impulse control, the lead theory, it doesn’t fit into any politics, crime translated into politics, economic and political crime on the upswing, the protected classes, ultimately you can’t defy the system, tiny house blog’s podcast, yes, that’s me, “remove yourself from the economy’s well being”, look at Wall Street’s numbers!, an insanely crazier economy, the “gig economy”, the cops are fine, it’s a growing industry, the nurse who was attacked in Utah by a cop, the cop had a second job, he was fired from his second job, now the police are eating themselves, police men and nurses were on a team, now their fighting each other, when you’re a kid and you’re young, cops job is to arrest people, people abuse their power, the cops aren’t really you’re friend, the BCCLA, Kim Campbell, cosmic level security clearance, if its an honest mistake…, Burke Devore gets a fair shake from the cops, since 1997 even the cops aren’t safe, in Australia they call the gig economy the American Economy, how we’re going to break the taxi industry, Uber, driverless cars, the only thing keeping violence, everything is more expensive today except for food, at least we’re not starving, bread an circuses, boomers and millennials, nno matter how many university degrees you have, a rich professor, who has been more tricked and put upon than the PhD candidate price markup has gone from 15% to 70%, mysteries vs. crime thrillers, genre moves, this is Scott’s fifth Westlake novel, incredibly clear and so smooth, profound, ‘I can only guess at any of these things and see what I do in response’, some books are designed to be chewed up and enjoyed, as a period piece, a bit weird that Westlake was so perceptive at such an elderly age, Donald E. Westlake has a cameo at the 22 minute mark in the French film adaptation, he sits in the garage and tries to think through the problems that he’s having, he’s the guy who fills the paper, a nod and a wink, a writer going through, so orderly and so ABCD, first person always becoming present tense, he’s always becoming, that first moment, “oh, my god he did it!”, every-time, thunk thunk, the tape, “my hand was on my mouth”, Westlake wrote an article about why he left Science Fiction (in Xero), Anarchaos by Curt Clark aka Donald E. Westlake, one of things that Westlake complains about is not getting paid, they promise to pay me and then they don’t, when I sell a book they pay me, you can’t make a living at Science Fiction, maybe 10% of people make a living, James Patrick Kelly doesn’t make his living writing Science Fiction, Gene Wolfe never made a living, crappy rural internet, Ted Chiang, Timothy Zahn made more on his first star wars book than all of his novels and stories combined, K.W. Jeter, kinda meta, The Hook by Donald E. Westlake, Amazon.com, basically, the publishing industry, writer’s block, Judson Jack Carmichael, always experimenting, Samuel Holt, Magnum, P.I., Westlake is super-addictive, he doesn’t really write mysteries, Westlake’s subject was the economy in the late 20th century, Macbeth, if I kill Duncan I will be King, if I turn back, I can’t stop at this point, alas alas, Vermont internet = swear words, going back to the cops again, the wife is so awesome after dealing with the cops, he lets that pass, Philosophy Of Law class, what are your responsibilities, I should co-operate with the police, I should confess, their job is to get convictions, being disabused of this, he should have been pirating instead of stealing CD-ROMs or floppy disks, The Young Turks, working in the best interest in the victim, the whole purpose, covering asses, that blue shield, the privatization of prisons, widgets per hour, arrests, tickets, target the people who can’t fight back, racism is a tool used to divide and conquer, you pit them against each other, it sounds familiar, a tool to be used against your seizing their power, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, a whole host of terrible behaviors, there could have been a great disaster, open season on cuts, Train To Busan (2016), I’m a boss, we’re all in this together, a war of all against all, The Apprentice mode of government, what makes him a leader is that he fires people, Scott has no place, put out on his iceberg, I felt worried while reading this book, I felt paranoid, you’re fifty years old and you have a very particular skill, a La-Z-Boy factory that moved to Mexico, I’ve been putting chairs together for 20 years – now what, the double jobs, teachers have two jobs, Scott Walker wanted to make the teacher’s union illegal, making decisions not in the student’s best interest, a department head, why someone would take a pay-cut to become a teacher, it’s so upside down, teaching students in British Columbia, smaller class sizes, assistance in the classroom, curricula, PATCO’s goals: a maximum of a 32 hour work week and maximum of 8 hour shifts, Labour Day, life under Bill Clinton, Pushing Tin (1999), Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusak, pee breaks, fire doors not locked, NAFTA is not a good thing if it only helps companies screw over workers, re-negotiating NAFTA, an advantage for companies moving to Canada, globalization, fewer barriers make things move better, fear, BREXIT, seeing declines in a standard of living, Walmart is fucking things up up here too, their economic model is to exploit the food stamp subsidy for their own benefit, she’s become kind of bitter, arguing about having a day off, that line from Charles Dickens,

‘Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.’

cutting to the bone for so long you have no bones left, GDP percentage of debt, offering security at rates in order to manipulate the market, Canada’s net public debt 98.8 as a percentage of GPD, USA’s net public debt 77%, taxing wealth instead of income, getting away from the book, Jesse’s solution, taxing capital gains, a tiny percentage of the population has gotten most of the productivity gains of labour for the last 25+ years, everything is expensive except for food, mass starvation seems to be the key to revolution, Trump puts an ugly face on an ugly problem, shaking things up, Mark Zuckerberg as president?, The Rock would make a better president!, he’s a high speed Train To Busan.

BOOKS ON TAPE - The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #087 – Seven-Day Terror by R.A. Lafferty

October 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #087

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Seven-Day Terror by R.A. Lafferty

Seven Day Terror was first published in If, March 1962.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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

September 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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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

Reading, Short And Deep #085 – The Lifeboat Mutiny by Robert Sheckley

September 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #085

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss an episode of X Minus One that adapts Robert Sheckeley’s short story, The Lifeboat Mutiny.

The Lifeboat Mutiny was first broadcast on September 11, 1956.

Here’s a link to an MP3 of the episode.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #439 – READALONG: The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

September 18, 2017 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #439 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer discuss the novella entitled The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Talked about on today’s show:
Serberous?, the novella (not the whole book), maybe an accident maybe on purpose, very-Wolfeian, Orbit 10 edited by Damon Knight, fixup vs. novel?, V.R.T., to fully understand…, you need them all together, error or on purpose, many moons ago, novella is the perfect length for any Science Fiction work, read in publication order, old home week, Ender’s Shadow, Ender’s Game, cheating, the Alzabo Soup podcast, The Book Of The New Sun, condensed and distilled, Jorge Luis Borges <- I like what that guy's doing, I'm going to do me some of that -> George R.R. Martin, reader doing the heavy lifting, A Song Of Ice And Fire, almost a fantasy novel, a cloning story, Jack Vance, far future where science has become magic, the Dying Earth subgenre, no magic going on?, the sentences are full of magic, what does the title mean, is the reader the fifth head?, The Black Gate blog post, this story is a combination lock that allows many different combinations, info-dumping, somebody is a clone or a mirror or a part of his imagination, an unreliable narrator, a really good sign, this is Gene Wolfe’s thing, perfect memory, no memory, a consistent memory, how accurate are the details?, how many characters are there?, number five, is one of the characters is “Gene Wolfe”?, the father, the brother (David), the aunt, the lady in pink, the other clone in the warehouse, the four-armed dude is a character, the robot (Mr Millions), Marsh, the anthropologist, the brothel, how its revealed, he has been in prison, the only complete arc, we must infer the rest of them, the death of the father, Christopher Nolan should direct it, it is a complete work or it will be, clones of the same person, hinkey, hokey, or odd, all the books in the private library were written by his father, going to the Ws, very meta, are you a Nigerian prince? Jesse will believe you (for a minute), he is really old, which body did all the typing and research, daily dissertations, studying particular subjects (to be filled in in the labyrinth), The Library Of Babel, the only thing we know about readers is that they like books, writers are readers too, the ultimate fantasy is the place where all the stories are found, cloning to write, cloning to read, what’s up with the late night interrogations, is he psychoanalyzing?, or studying?, voight-kampff tests, what makes something or someone real?, Infinivox, Robert Reed’s Guest Of Honor, there was no quintessential cloning novel, why she is guest of honour, everybody is immortal, he could be downloading, being able to read three books at the same time, David isn’t one of the clones is he?, he escapes, theory and conjecture, nothing more than personality test?, gaining insight into himself, he’s clearly cloned a lot, “failures”, a slave who looks like him, four arms vs. five heads, societal cloning, impressions, “questionable things”, a brothel, a Frankenstian lab, The Island Of Dr Moreau, Littlefinger and Varos from Game Of Thrones, all sorts of play, what the kid’s doing with the frogs, experimenting with all the different ways of living and making life, mirrors and labyrinths, why he lives in a brothel, financial motivations, slave dealing, endless cycle, the Greek Tragedy elements, unfortunately that’s how the prophecy goes, genes are destiny, escaping the trap and escaping the cycle, A Song Of Ice And Fire, castrated folks, incest, pretty interesting, Nightflyers, Sandkings, that hardness, slavery and murder, colonization, genocide, colonialism, what information can we glean, the plastic replicas of the aboriginal stone tools, pre-stone tool culture, is Veill’s hypothesis correct?, does it matter?, good questions, John Marsh or a version of John Marsh, sending messages in the prison…to who?, the third novella, only identified as numbers, more to unlock, 666 to jump up on the stage, Hell, Hell is a stage, the theatre, the woman guard, what are the different theories on the title?, Maitre, the five clones, the maidenhead (virginity), bars and locked doors, suddenly he’s a mad scientist, the slave market visits, the great grandfather, a ROM?, reliability of information, why who is an abbo is important, robot protector, robot tutor, seemingly no emotions, very Christopher Nolan, if Gene Wolfe is the name of 5, one is a mirror of the other, one is a mirror of Earth and one is a mirror of Hell, one way of writing a story summary, what is the metaphor of the stage?, why is the stage stuff in there?, there’s stuff they want you to see, there’s a bunch going on back stage, a facade, the name of the house, The House Of The Dog, base and primal, a sexual position, what the significance of the stone tools (that are actually plastic), John V. Marsh, the significance is overblown because it is the only thing leftover, the kid then confabulates the culture, is David smarter or wiser?, when our father interviews you what does he call you?, escaping the traps, reading Odysseus, the cyclops, don’t give your name, the intertextual references, H.P. Lovecraft, Vernor Vinge, feeling like fantasy, part of the play, nurture vs. nature, it’s all fate, doomed, a metal prison, we seek self knowledge, why we seek, the little ape, we wish to discover why we fail, another reflection, the mirror world you can’t go to, to step through the looking glass, a myth or a fairy tale, trying to connect with the world of myth and legend, quest, maitre means head, like a head of a hotel, so cool, the theories of what is going to happen in Game Of Thrones, Martin’s plans, “interesting”, what bones were put into the soup, how the meal is going to digest, a very complex set of flavours, the anise, the bacon, mixed beans, a very hearty hearty meal, How To Read Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them.Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

the dogs always stand in, how the red woman and her prophecies play out, king’s blood, a victim of her own witchery, a deep analysis of the opening credits of the Game Of Thrones TV series, it’s not really a map, it’s an inverse orrery, mechanistic movement, behind the scenes, a Dyson’s sphere, when Winterfell falls, a nice metaphor for the creation of a secondary world, Lord Dunsany’s The Wonderful Window, Golden Dragon City, ways of reading, different methods and techniques with which to approach, an interview with Gene Wolfe, the Korean War, once you think you’re smart that’s when they get you, getting killed shows that you’re not smart, I’m a much more literary man, it’s about the love of writing, how ethereal or gossamer Borges stuff is, how it connects to us, it can live without us reading, a story being spun, its the yarn itself, it needs us more than Borges’ stuff does, what would make a failed Gene Story would look like, that’s his brand, Stanisław Lem’s One Human Minute, a cute thought, a professor of 1920s and 1830, a more broad education, the Wikipedia entry for 1908, when you read the Wikipedia entry for 2017 in 100 years…, Durham Stevens, super-deep, The Island Of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories, he knew exactly what he was doing, a confluence of events, a critical hit, stumbled upon, its not an accident, Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury, Proust, questions of identity, Sandman, he has always been a really good guy to following the reading of, Douglas Adams, look at this, his essays about Edgar Allan Poe, an even better non-fiction writer than a fiction writer, a book of essays, a mini essay about cities in SimCity 2000, a little Easter Egg, “ruminate”, A View From The Cheap Seats, Philip Reeve, The Hungry Cities Chronicles, The Wind From A Burning Woman (collection) by Greg Bear, this is Lankhmar, Dungeons & Dragons, a city adventure, behind every door is another potential story, a tiny little slice, fully expanded, Fritz Leiber’s not as good as I want him to be, next level stuff, Gene Wolfe never won a Hugo, there’s no justice, you know nothing, Nebulas, who is our best writer?, no official audiobook version, Audible.com, the best of Gene Wolfe on audio is a good idea, a hard no, off the Wolfe subject.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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