Review of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

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

SFFaudio Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

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

I received an audio copy from the publisher for review.

Posted by Bryce L.

The SFFaudio Podcast #433 – TOPIC: ISAAC ASIMOV’S SUPER QUIZ

August 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

Isaac Asimov's: History Science, Geography, Words, SUPER QUIZ
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #433 – Luke Burrage, Maissa, Julianne, and Jesse play Isaac Asimov’s SUPER QUIZ – because the game is 35 years old we used just four categorizes: “Geography”, “History”, “Science”, and “Words” (we left out “Movies” and “Sports”).

This is boardless tabletop game was invented by Ken Fisher in 1982, and was followed by two sequels (Isaac Asimov’s SUPER QUIZ II and Isaac Asimov’s SUPER QUIZ III), it still sees regular publication as a featured column in a United States based newspaper chain.

A Message From Isaac Asimov's: Any Number Can Play New York, November 1983

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #430 – READALONG: The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

July 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastDr. Dimension Master Of Spacetime Raising Mullah by S. Ron MarsThe SFFaudio Podcast #422 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, and Paul Weimer talk about The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Hotspur Publishing’s Dr. Dimension Master Of Spacetime Raising Mullah. Written by S. Ron Mars and narrated by Fred Wolinsky, this is a comedic Science Fiction audiobook available now on Audible.com

Talked about on today’s show:
A Canticle For Leibowitz, the framing, a thousand years later, the manuscript, make a universe as a playground to play in, feudal Englishman running rampant in interstellar space, appreciations, Eric Flint, David Drake, Greg Bear, rollicking, Astrid Anderson Bear, a rollicking romp of medieval mayhem, fun Catholicism, A Case Of Conscience where the conscience is a little lose, the horrible movie adaptation The High Crusade (1994), it could make a good movie, Monty Python And The Holy Grail, George Pal, no budget, no script, no director, John Rhys Davies, the trailer, a really good trailer, blue skin, Quest by Poul Anderson, this seems to be the Holy Grail, here’s a story where they tried, a little too sloppy, a gaming system, Ares, Poul Anderson wrote a ton of great stuff, paperback reprints, an upbeat ending, grim or ambiguous, a different tone, The Broken Sword, Three Hearts And Three Lions, Philip K. Dick’s Waterspider has Poul Anderson as a character, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, Avatar with fewer explosions, following in a line with Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, our knowledge, awesome mistakes, no defenses, lucky Scott, fun, super-entertaining, history, a healthy respect for factual history, not technically a lie, Babel, an undercurrent of humour from charging knights to launching nukes with trebuchets, historicity, the fall of Rome, barbarians, the Roman Empire, the creation of the dark ages, their own past and their own future, fiefdoms, the church, practicality, stiff armour costumes, almost a complete retelling of what’s going on in Europe, a local chieftain, keep the system going, pastiche, we have to buy so much, rusty axes, pretty hard to buy, a light touch, undeniably well working, L. Sprague de Camp’s Krishna novels and stories, looking for princesses, green skin aliens, an Easter egg, all their conquests, the crusades, the Wersgorix, defeat the horde of Englishmen, Saracens, ripe for a fall, what made Alexander The Great so great, technical definition: a shitshow, sacking Constantinople, attacking the wrong people, loose collectives, a charitable term, mercenary motivations, the sack of Alexandria, they too the wrong turn, the Northern Crusades, the French Crusades, Baltic pagans, holy wars, Christian jihads, radical extremism combined with mercenary avarice, he must speak Latin because he’s a demon, sharp knives and tortures and laughing, it’s all fake, not being horrified, the entire town from Lincolnshire goes to liberate the Holy Land, an enjoyable romp, edible, digestible, enjoyable, nicely, lightly, briefly, reconstructing scenes, reliability, circumstances, third hand, it’s wonderful to be an Englishman, his declensions are atrocious and what he does to irregular verbs can not be mentioned in gentle company, Patricia Kennealy-Morrison, Celts in the stars, Catherine Asaro, Mayans in space, Star Trek, space Romans and space Nazis, the Traveler RPG, Traveler 3000, seeding wolves and humans, plenty of little planets, plucky humans, star empires, elves, wolves in space, building empires, dying in character creation, The High Crusade tactical board game, chits, Avalon Hill, flaws and strengths, tactics, dry ’80s-style war games, actual battles, great cover art, the idea of primitive technology defeating higher technology, Ewoks vs. the Imperial Storm Troopers, Return Of The Jedi, buckskins (Ewok skins), a comic light touch, different kinds of swords, gladius -> longsword -> rapier -> no swords, the heraldry, to learn how to run a spaceship, you don’t even know how to read to learn, ignorance, history, they’re not knowledgeable enough to think they can’t win, hand-to-hand, contrast, thrall army, fort destruction, ionic storm, heresy, playing the heresy card, history, religion, science, space battles, awesome, scenes and jokes, the workings of the physical universe, an inversion, knights with holstered ray guns, laser guns, the English learn quickly, never give up the horses, poor Ansby was left almost deserted, the loading of the ship, a Noah’s Ark story, a good idea, a lot to swallow, so much sugar, worldly goods, what happened to this village?, everybody’s gone, all the cupboards are bare, there’s a story there, “almost deserted”, I’m not getting on this thing!, other races, clever but nuts, the opening framing, a document vs. a novel, The Green Meadow by H.P. Lovecraft and Winifred Virginia Jackson, the most preposterous story ever, alien summer night, socio-technician, modern languages, creatures, thunder and blow-up, hard to believe, no rest for the wicked, impressively ancient, uncials on vellum, a prosaic typescript, home was a long way off, a mystery, pretty cute, they did well, still there, an English Empire stretching down the spiral arm, 2300 A.D., has the Holy Land yet been liberated?, a funny funny book, this book can’t really age, the alien technology of the ship feels very 1950s, their navigator is called an “astrologer”, The Enduring Chill by Flannery O’Connor, Stephen Colbert, a comedian should narrated this novel, John Cleese, the Book For The Blind, massive archives, there has never been a commercial audiobook release of The High Crusade, The Broken Sword, collections, Brain Wave, Tau Zero, Three Hearts And Three Lions, dealing with elves and trolls, Icelandic and Scandinavian myths, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp, The Man Who Came Early, dark ages Iceland, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn, split time-lines, everything’s short, 180 pages, a big impressive story inside a few number of pages, packing a bigger punch, Harvest Of Stars, these science fiction writers in the 1960s and 1970s were doing idea exploration, The Broken Sword is a classic, Paul will wind up crying again, catharsis, faking us out, “these creatures”, the Owain treachery, the same thing in Quest, double jointed knees, more faithful than everybody else, a planet named Lancaster, there was hardly a peasant who hadn’t been knighted, Alexander’s generals, regional governors founding dynasties, hay stuck in his hair, very strange very funny, the promise of all series novels always offer, all the adventures happen between the page turns, Sir Roger’s cunning, the Wersgorix had no special affection for their birthplace, King John (and the Magna Carta), the rule of law vs. the rule of the word, “don’t you wish you had a plan?”, siege-craft, “when I had been picked up and dusted off”, no simpletons, to reap so rich a harvest, winning with cunning, courage and brute strength, a little pope, the younger people are not careful, Parvus means “little”, my nickname when I was a kid, a good catch, can we trust this document?, of course we have to trust it 100% because it’s cuter that way, why would it lose to anything?, another religious novel, a different kind of humour completely, a very dry humour, what else was nominated?, Rogue Moon by Algis Burdrys, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon, The Longest Voyage, the Tor Double, To Marry Medusa, Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer, mini-tyrannosaurs rex, Galileo, a telescope, his “planet”, Poul Anderson’s inspiration, making marvelous wonders, a great story to build on.

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - illustration by H. R. Van Dongen

The High Crusade - illustration by Larry Elmore

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

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

Podcast

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

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #405 – READALONG: The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

January 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #405 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
Speaker to Canadians, off the rails, doing a sequel, 1980 follow up to the 1970 novel, was this a good idea?, seeing the Ringworld one more time, fun, Larry Niven was having a lot of fun with it, retcon (retroactive continuity), Teela’s luck, maybe Paul is completely wrong, bad bad Teela Brown, her boytoy, because reasons, becoming a protector, where the luck problem comes in, the fight between Teela, Chmee and Wu is fabulous, luck is directing all these people, re-re-reinterpretation, happily ever after and sequels don’t play nice, luck as a genetically programmable trait is complete bullshit, that’s what’s going to happen, if you’re going to do a sequel…, waiting for Teela to show up, The Ringworld Throne, Louis becomes a protector, take each book on its own, she’s protecting all of the lucky people who are coming after her, cooler in a couple of ways, why Louis had needed to be a droud addict (a wire-head), he was bored in the first book, he’s an addict in the second, a little flashback to the visit of the gardens of the patriarch, “call me Chmee”, the Kzin patriarch’s version of the Smithsonian, happy all the time and hating his life, he can’t have cheese anymore, no more skinjobs or sleeping plates, caught up by the A.R.M., when Louis quits the droud, the only thing that saves him, a brilliant plotter, making choices, having free will (or not), Teela has to double-think her way, he’s the center of his own Ringworld (as an addict) then it flips, the addiction withdrawal was too easy, gorging on tree-of-life, that’s why sequels are a problem, really good writers use up their characters, that’s what makes The Postman Always Rings Twice so great, there aren’t endless sequels to great books, by the end of Moby Dick only one character is still alive, this whole book is retconning, here’s what’s wrong with the Ringworld!, that’s the game in Hard SF, the game he was playing was too big for him (Larry Niven), incorporating criticism, we were wrong about this…, this is a science heavy book, Prill was a liar, the spill mountains, the unclimbable rim mountains became volcanoes (kind of), how terrible this world is, the scrith covered place, we are very lucky to be on an actively-geological plant, we’re lucky to have metal, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, an asteroid crash that Mark Twain finds, it’s harder to boil things without metal, a ceramics and alcohol based high-technology, fiddling with the facts of the first book, Paul is more annoyed about the Teela brown transformation, Teela becomes both the hero and the villain kind of, maybe we should have read Protector first, the Pak and the Pak protectors, big science, World Of The Ptavvs, a recap of the premise of Protector, two main characters, unwanted and unexpected uplift, are there any women in there?, Protectors are sexless, talking about the sex in The Ringworld Engineers, rishathra, the Babylon 5 episode with rishathra, the two librarian Wendy and Peter, tell me about the mating practices, we make records (anthropological pornography), Jesse defends Larry Niven again, Wu the silent sexual ambassador, if Louis Wu was a female character…, where’s the same sex rishathra?, an obvious method of birth control, too much of that again, projecting what heterosexual males, I gotta get me a harem, mating uncontrollably, venereal disease is a real problem in our world, no mosquitoes, no venereal disease, the logic behind the sexual practices, the grass eaters, the cow and bull people, how cattle work, the sexual practices of wolves, the going on vacation thing, the terms the field scientists used: sneaky fuckers, another double-think, the lone guy in SF willing to do stuff with this, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, a real reproductive phenomenon, male pregnancy, sympathizing with everyone, males are easily replaced, they way we love our pets, the way he says females should be docile, the third sex of puppeteer, the way females are regarded, he’s a dude from the 1970s whose not trying to be sensitive, some books are male or female, more appealing to males, Niven is so good at thinking, the Wheels Within Wheels chapter, I’m saving this world, when Louis cuts up the hyperdrive, “Come, let us reason together” where is that line from?, the book of Isaiah, God talking to man, playing the god gambit, he turns the tables on the Hindmost, aye aye captain, the Bandersnatchi of Jinx is from Jabberwocky by Louis Carol, Wunderland, the Alice In Wonderland theme from Ringworld, the Peter Pan theme, Louis Wu is Peter Pan (the boy who will never grow up), following Louis out the window into Neverland (of the ship), The Man-Kzin Wars books, why is Speaker’s name Chmee, Smee, tag in the dark, Smee is the bosun to Captain Hook, that’s really clever, turning lead to fuel, the alchemy of the planet, a wild goose chase, the 5% 95% trick, it’s legit!, a strong sense of pathos, every character we’ve met on the Ringworld will die, would you kill everyone you’ve ever met to save 95% of the population?, empathizing with the sunflowers, is life for a year for everyone better?, it could be triple-think, talking about motivation, why do anything, what’s the point of anything, caring for the breeders, protecting her own vs. others, very interesting stuff, Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto, helicopter parenting, you can’t tell me my son’s grades are low, teacher motivation, knuckling under, lowering standards and grade inflation, the Business and Computer Science departments, everyone gets As, only Philosophy was holding out (when Jesse was at university), the mother protecting the young, the bear mother attacks threats to the cub, Free Range Kids, the perception of the threat level is higher, the craziness that happens when the mothering instinct is in charge, imagine Grandma with the powers of Rambo, why Teela is such a fearsome adversary (even when she’s playing to lose), the closest in any other science fiction is in the Banquet Scene in Dune, super-geniuses plotting how to murder each other, literally a role playing game style adventure, totally an RPG player move, where The Ringworld Role Playing Game came from, an nobody noticed he was talking into his hand, layers of fun, two poems,

I. The Book

The place was dark and dusty and half-lost
In tangles of old alleys near the quays,
Reeking of strange things brought in from the seas,
And with queer curls of fog that west winds tossed.
Small lozenge panes, obscured by smoke and frost,
Just shewed the books, in piles like twisted trees,
Rotting from floor to roof—congeries
Of crumbling elder lore at little cost.

I entered, charmed, and from a cobwebbed heap
Took up the nearest tome and thumbed it through,
Trembling at curious words that seemed to keep
Some secret, monstrous if one only knew.
Then, looking for some seller old in craft,
I could find nothing but a voice that laughed.

II. Pursuit

I held the book beneath my coat, at pains
To hide the thing from sight in such a place;
Hurrying through the ancient harbor lanes
With often-turning head and nervous pace.
Dull, furtive windows in old tottering brick
Peered at me oddly as I hastened by,
And thinking what they sheltered, I grew sick
For a redeeming glimpse of clean blue sky.

No one had seen me take the thing—but still
A blank laugh echoed in my whirling head,
And I could guess what nighted worlds of ill
Lurked in that volume I had coveted.
The way grew strange—the walls alike and madding—
And far behind me, unseen feet were padding.

the first two sonnets from the Fungi From Yuggoth sonnet cycle, some books of elder lore, the audiobook irony, the problems of not having an audiobook version, the connection between finding the old books that reveal the truth about the world (only the machine people know the secret), the cult of knowledge, the paperback cover of Protector, surrounded by ancient tomes, great books make you super-smart, hitting that hard, page 128,

Something leaped from the crest of the next hill over. Green light speared it in midair, and held while the thing flamed and died. So much for Chmeee’s spacesuit. But a flight of hand-sized missiles flew toward the base of the green laser beam. Half a dozen white flashes from behind the rise, and the snap! of lightning striking close, showed that Chmeee had succeeded in turning puppeteer-made batteries into bombs.
Teela was close, and she was using a laser. And if she was circling the pond, just beyond the crest… Louis adjusted his position.
Chmeee’s burnt suit had fallen too slowly. A protector would know it was empty. Cthulhu and Allah! How could anyone fight a lucky protector?

calling on one fictional god and one semi-fictional god, calling on other gods, this is Niven playing a game with us, I like this game, gender does really change peoples minds, seeds and fields to plant, that has consequences in thinking, what do men want?, if you look at history, Genghis had a huge harem, the practice of polygamy, viking practices, is it patriarchy, he’s working it out in this Ringworld scenario, providing grandmotherly wisdom and veteran warriors, a generic love, another plot going on, the Earth is great and Ringworld sucks, Ringworld is a Garden of Eden, all the predators are on one island too far away from the rest of the ringworld, this is the story of the Fall, what is the thing that turns you into a Protector and something hard, the tree-of life root, who do we need right now, climate change, we’re so busy pulling the world apart Bussard ramscoops, Ringworld Engineers as an analogy for Earth, we need some smart bad-ass, monstrous, Justin Trudeau’s not going to solve it and neither will Trump, somebody around here needs to eat some Tree-Of Life Root, there were two trees in Eden, the tree of immortality, longevity vs. fertility, banishment, the fall of the cities, the Puppeteers with their snaky heads did this, they have beautiful voices too, a retcon Paul could accept, interpolating,

The smell of tree-of-life was in Louis’s nose and in his brain. It was not like the wire. Current was sufficient unto itself an experience that demanded nothing further to make it perfect. The smell of tree-of-life was ecstasy, but it sparked a raging hunger. Louis knew what tree-of-life was now. It had glossy dark-green leaves and roots like a sweet potato, and it was all around him, and the taste — something in his brain remembered the taste of Paradise.

panspermia is bullshit, Chariots Of The Gods?, the plot of Battlestar Galactica, thallium oxide, the Bible is a true story … we’ve forgotten, damn that’s good!, still doing good work, adding another ring, who were the first people, the two librarians, they get on an Ark, was Teela one of Louis’ descendants? (dating the great great granddaughter), not Heinlein level incest, if you think incest in Science Fiction that’s Heinlein, male SF writers, set pieces, I love the vampires, undercutting Prill’s one skill, vampire perfume, everything on the map of Mars, they have a gas laser, the taboo against lasers went away, I love the ghouls, keeping it in the family, the ghouls are the secret rulers of the Ringworld, non-sentient male and female, free-will vs. choice, he’s sexy, pheromones for humans, animal free will vs. animal free will, insects that get killed in mating, we were all in that state at some point, all the ideas Niven is playing with, all those ridiculous RPG-like events (the sunflowers and the water condensers), looking for ways to create meaning, a really smart book (and also a trashy sequel), stealing stuff for RPGs, dreaming about protectors, one of Niven’s big ideas, where did all the protectors go?, a question for The Ringworld Throne, making a whole bunch of people soft, nature finds a way, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the hanging people are kind of like the moties, the audiobook narrator didn’t do the Puppeteer contralto, we miss Nessus, the Hindmost is a dick, the tree-of-life virus, where did they go?, Niven didn’t know (in this book), another kind of addiction, their booster spice or their current addiction, a symbiotic virus, who is running the show?, more than Human (or Pak), powerful ideas and powerful characters powerfully motivated, not a wholehearted endorsement.

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

1979 -1980 serialization of THE RINGWORLD ENGINEERS by Larry Niven in Galileo

The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven illustrated by Jesse

Ringworld Engineers (Map)

Teela Brown, Louis Wu, Nessus, and Speaker To Animals

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #388 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft

September 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast
H.P. Lovecraft's From Beyond
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #388 – From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Martin Reyto courtesy of Legamus. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (19 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
Fantasy Fan, this story has to be visualized, the 1986 movie, the baroque language does not work on film, comedy gore and sex instead of adjectives, scary looking, a golden age of practical special effects, fantastic horror is the pinnacle of going nuts, Stuart Gordon, the servants all left three days ago, piles of clothes, The Hounds Of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long, Trail Of Cthulhu, the Hypnogoria podcast, Netflix’s Stranger Things, Ubbo-Sathla by Clark Ashton Smith, dilettante occultist, perceiving space time as a dimension, seeing beyond the veil, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, more cosmic than a Narnian wardrobe, levels of reality co-terminus with out own, cyclopean temples, The Horror From The Heights by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a huge beaked terror, hooked onto, Robert Hooke (rival of Newton), Micrographia, 1665, all the living things all over your body and that permeate reality but were previously unseen, Antonie Leeuwenhoek grinding your own lenses, creatures from beyond, there’s nothing that doesn’t have living creatures all over it, the stage of childhood, no amount of cleaning will ever let you escape these creatures, gut flora, scrubbing clean the world, a nightmare, Tillinghast’s monologues, look through this telescope look through this microscope,

Foremost among the living objects were inky, jellyfish monstrosities which flabbily quivered in harmony with the vibrations from the machine. They were present in loathsome profusion, and I saw to my horror that they overlapped; that they were semi-fluid and capable of passing through one another and through what we know as solids. these things were never still, but seemed ever floating about with some malignant purpose. Sometimes they appeared to devour one another, the attacker launching itself at its victim and instantly obliterating the latter from sight. Shudderingly I felt that I knew what had obliterated the unfortunate servants, and could not exclude the things from my mind as I strove to observe other properties of the newly visible world that lies unseen around us.

not only can we see these things they can see us, ignorance as protection, The Silence (Doctor Who), the size of the Earth in relation to the size of the universe, washing the dishes, incommensurate, Tillinghast a mad scientist,

We see things only as we are constructed to see them, and can gain no idea of their absolute nature. With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos, yet other beings with a wider, stronger, or different range of senses might not only see very differently the things we see, but might see and study whole worlds of matter, energy, and life which lie close at hand yet can never be detected with the sense we have. I have always believed that such strange, inaccessible worlds exist at our very elbows, and now I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers….I believe I have found a way to break down the barriers. I am not joking. Within twenty-four hours that machine near the table will generate waves acting on unrecognized sense-organs that exist in us as atrophied or rudimentary vestiges. Those waves will open up to us many vistas unknown to man, and several unknown to anything we consider organic life. We shall see that at which dogs howl in the dark, and that at which cats prick up their ears after midnight. We shall see these things, and other things which no breathing creature has yet seen. We shall overleap time, space, and dimensions, and without bodily motion peer to the bottom of creation.”

peering to the “bottom of creation” unicellular life, deep into space and back into time, an analogy for the product of science, despair, a 17th century gentleman, an anglophile, From Beyond or The Hound Of Tindalos have jobs, this story is talking about something real, Banshee Chapter, down the rabbit hole, drugs created by the CIA, that’s a real fucked up story, Lovecraftian and Dickian, an acid trip, effecting dreams, “a bronze gate”, a drug instead of a machine, equally an adaptation of The Hounds Of Tindalos, attuned, pineal gland as a radio transmitter, the “numbers stations” radio queue, one of the strangest true things in our world today, a TV repair shop, the NSA, the electrical circuit brought her dissolution, two guys sitting in a room talking about philosophy, The Render Of Veils by Ramsey Campbell, Daolath, shifting planes and shapes, They Live and Eight O’Clock In The Morning, Tillinghast glasses, the political version of From Beyond, having the veil lifted (fantasy), using glasses or a telescope or a microscope or a drug (science fiction), the fantasy version, patient 11, clairvoyance, The Mist by Stephen King, once unleashed, Tillinghast thinks he is the master of the universe he has created, Hypnos by H.P. Lovecraft, fleeting a demon from the demon star (Algol), the distorted face of Tillinghast in the glowing constellation of our galaxy, passing beyond, being consumed, a very rich little short story, shooting the machine, destroying the window, death by apoplexy, apoplexy is for men, hysteria is for women, neglecting the body, met pets are not pretty, aesthetic standards are very different, disintegration, “trembling, eh?”, “they are coming, curse you look, it’s just over your left shoulder!”, is Tillinghast dead?, was it a hallucination?, what happened to the murdered servant’s bodies?, reader beware, we’re not safe, Banshee Chapter is an even more faithful adaptation than From Beyond (1986), their own predatory ecosystem, master or victim?, existential horror, the great world outside is dark and horrible, insanity shattering, sleep well at night.

From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse

From Beyond

Barbara Crampton and the Tillinghast Resonator from Playboy, December 1986

Posted by Jesse Willis

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