The SFFaudio Podcast #415 – READALONG: Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

April 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #415 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa, and Jenny Colvin discuss Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler

Talked about on today’s show:
Asimov’s Science Fiction, Mid-December 1983, longer forms, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, the Patternist novels, the scene on the bus, Parable Of The Sower, Parable Of The Talents, Kindred, Sisters Of The Revolution, The Evening And The Morning And the Night, disease, bio Science Fiction, the virology labs, Xenogenesis trilogy, aliens, breeding humans, public transportation science fiction stories, Philip K. Dick, Los Angeles, The Commuter, Ray Bradbury, The Pedestrian, interacting with the public, The Chrysalids, The Day Of The Triffids, The Walking Dead, how this world got to be how it is, slowly interrogate, her central thesis: civilization = communication, how does the bus driver get paid?, what percentage of the population died?, a normal route, one guy is the bus system, how does Obsidian get paid?, paid in sex?, post-apocalypse reveling Jenny, the creepy smelly wordless cult leader, how many women could speak?, right handed men, feminism, creepy men creeping on women, play dumb and pack a gun, our zombies are different, unique special snowflake zombies, body language, was it the Soviets?, you think you’re better than me?, a perfect nightmare of Hell, the law of the jungle, Obsidian is mentally impaired, if there ever was going to be a TV adaptation they’d call it “The Silence”, au contraire, standing spear-carrier, a swapped languages Vietnam War movie [subsequent research turns up no evidence that this film exists], everyone else is an alien to everbody else in this world, romance as opposed to SF, not certain of her own impairment, memory, they just needed audiobooks, jibber-jabber speech sounds, it just meant nothing, dah dah dah, could you still speak?, when the deaf speak, if you can’t speak can you understand your own thoughts, strokes, aphasia, communication by singing, Oliver Sacks, the afterword, visiting her dying friend, popular science of the 1980s, a science fiction epidemic, being a lefty or a righty, the rage, so primal, primal instincts, you’re all hairless chimpanzees, pre-human, the one element of humanity is your name, book-cart or book-truck, books as fuel, cake or oven, a teacher and protector, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, it was language that turned her around, savouring the words, society in general, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Iron Heel not the Iron Fist, limited intellect and language, the Red Death, life before the plague, the breakdown of society, pandemics empowering the lower classes, a liberation from the burden of history, chauffeur, taking on a harem, reconstructing the low being brought up, The Walking Dead, scavenging silently, a Garden Of Eden, so messy, blow it up and start fresh, divine retribution, like the Tower of Babel, bulldoze 2017 and start again, the toddlers are immune, the story is unfinished and we have to finish it for ourselves, the Rosetta Stone, deciphering Linear B (the language of the Minoans), how important illustrations are, Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs, The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by , talking to other book people, Reading Envy isn’t Reading Rage, transcribing music without the western music notation system, what happens next?, the music analogy, a hopeful story, a hopeful ending, book people are focused on the reading, burned abandoned buildings, sex in public, highly depopulated, women seeking protectors, maybe he’d meet someone else, sadness, if this was a TV show, how would deaf people be affected?, isn’t sign-language simply another language, H.G. Wells’ The Kingdom Of The Blind, is the gesturing center the same as the speech center?, fMRI, Letters To [Octavia] Butler, Letters To Triptree, bias and prejudice, how can people think like this?, using words in ways they can’t be used, using words as gestures, Twitter as the aggressive gesture, big ideas in a short space, a conspiracy that’s happening (long names on Twitter), seeing metaphors everywhere.

Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #412 – READALONG: Rite Of Passage by Alexei Panshin

March 13, 2017 by · 1 Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #412 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, Maissa and Bryan Alexander discuss Rite Of Passage by Alexei Panshin

Talked about on today’s show:
1968, 1963, Paul’s suggestion, an antidote to Heinlein, an answer to Heinlein, Heinlein liberal?, Heinlein incestuous, Masqueworld books, clever and charming, anthropological SF, political SF, being good company, Doctor Who without the intelligence or capacity or Tardis, puckish satire, a pleasant smile of a book, Starship Troopers is to The Forever War as Tunnel In The Sky is to Rite Of Passage, Heinlein In Dimension, before the internet was a thing, a YA novel thirty years early, modern tech, attitudes, modern sexuality, Cory Panshin, a new wave SF piece, Ursula Le Guin, Russ, Frank Herbert, early Triptree, SF in the age of the sexual revolution, communal living, teen sex, squarely on the liberal side, Brave New World lite, history not SF, a girl instead of a guy, this is the spartan youth being trained to kill the helots, the genocide, the unexpected, “reprimanded”, Morlock, divided by caste, a eugenics officer, The Word For World Is Forest, a doomed society, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, like duh, Panshin’s response to Orphans Of The Sky aka Universe and Common Sense, a hollowed out starship, a generation ship, mutants, JoeJim, thoughtless religion, the ship society, don’t get too weird, the ancient Greeks, a trial or a test, boy-scouting trips, why isn’t the mom in here?, the men and women don’t live together, dormitories, the common room, the USA as Athens and the Soviet Union as Sparta, Athens is elsewhere, there’s no art, the mom is a sculptor, a kind of communist, how things work, technological know-how vs. physical means, all they need to do is have one defector with a thumb drive, one Edward Snowden, when is this book going to deal with that?, knowledge isn’t just a bunch of books, a set of skills, the expertise, George, blaming the colonist mud eaters, what do we think about the father, one of the two kings, earlier visits, kids are mean, unequal trade, how slowly the narrator learns, in the shadow of her father, always daddy, if Professor Eric S. Rabkin were here, internal exile, she has a romance with Peeta, the enforcer of rules, he freezing her, the tutor, we want them to be more opposite, the Romans, two consuls, rivals vs. enemies, moral discipline, Dune’s painbox, are you human?, winnowing your caste, time will tell, Havero – Have-arrow, Star Trek: The Next Generation, wearing pajamas, a useless therapist in the lounge, that’s what Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is for, turtle, ritual declarations of war, a war of one against the others, The Hunger Games, spacesuits were designed for war, the turtles and the tigers, stagnation, the last chapter, seeing it from the wrong perspective, bristling with nukes and planet killers, less Tunnel In The Sky than it is Universe, Forbidden Planet, a negative version of the utopia in Iain M. Banks’ Culture books, popular notes on Kindle, choosing to be smaller than you could be, a completely secular society, collective guilt, completely bullshit, Attila, it turns out Rod is black, not a racist thing, yes there is a time when we will destroy them completely but now they are useful to us, plowing ahead, an American thing, civil unrest, the War on Poverty, the 1960s, the Great Society program, “inner cities”, rural poverty, ships are like universities, cultured cities, riding roughshod over Appalachia, Deliverance, loving them their way, good bookstores and great libraries, the number of the universities, financial aid, an interesting echo, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, part 3, the dissident dude who treats her like a daughter, “he gave me lessons”, “my first stop was the library”, books inside of novels: The White Way, “it has beed an interesting 42 years”, why is it winning a Nebula, fine tough minded people, on the water world, my dad is eighty, The Chromium Fence by Philip K. Dick, factional pogroms, what’s the point of that?, a pseudo-father figure, wha happn?, this is why sequels happen, is there never going to be a revolution?, enslaving the local humanoids, slaving, the great sin: breeding, discipline and trials kill a lot of the population, genre and popular concerns, The Population Bomb, the Club of Rome, Make Room! Make Room!, log cabins and sheriff’s offices, Earth went to pot, our heroine, being a spear-carrier, reading a book from the perspective of a spear carriers, an Austin Powers spear-carrier scene, it’s fun to hold a gun, a token of hope, she’s not the revolutionary we want her to be, a more searing indictment, Bryan doesn’t like YA fiction, Harry Potter, Bryan as Hagrid, a transition book, anti-colonialism, the US role in Vietnam, uprisings against the French, the Chinese, Avatar, inequality as a means for control, the anti-colonialists fail, the structure, a playful light tone, the epilogue, waking up out of a bubble, oh we’re doing that?, that’s my society doing that sort of thing?, you’re dad was alive during WWII, your dad was in the hitler Youth, oh yeah, Jordan Peterson, a depressing failure, reforms of her tutor, Revolt In 2100, Have Space Suit, Will Travel,

Down To The World Of Men by Alexei Panshin

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #408 – READALONG: Friday by Robert A. Heinlein

February 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #408 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Maissa

Talked about on today’s show:
1982, the last readable Heinlein novel, head-shaking, one of the most awkward books, transgender stuff, a New York times article, I Will Fear No Evil, body swap, an old man in a young woman’s body, Predestination (2014), All You Zombies, sex-change and time travel, another example of a Heinlein character getting a sex-change, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, even the computer is gender fluid, Podkayne Of Mars, Heinlein is the man in Science Fiction who really believes in women, the spring of 1991, re-reading experience, characters who defy human emotion and reality, made of human DNA, the Pinocchio story, focusing on the overbuilding, not just sex but odd sex, anti-male homosexuality but he likes lesbianism, a whiff of – but no sex on screen, Red Thursday, there’s a rape at the beginning and she marries her rapist at the end, it needs an editor, losing track of plotting, he let me pee, he’s a nice rapist, it makes sense!, Stranger In A Strange Land, what do we do about it?, horrible Heinlein thoughts, a lot of “doxy” training, an enhanced person vs. an artificial person, increased sexuality bred into them?, Dr. Baldwin engineered her, Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein, supermen, Olympia, late Heinlein is giving up on what early Heinlein wrote, travel reading, line marriages and serial marriages, making families, Christchurch, Winnipeg, Heinlein went to a swingers party and said “let’s do this all the time”, seeing a person’s mind over time, a plotless meandering travelogue/memoir, so many coincidences, that just happened to happen?, from set-piece to set piece, Bellingham, the AP guy never comes back, Chekhov’s gun that turns out to be a red herring, it wasn’t serialized for Playboy but should have been, sex for sex-sake, he’s got the 1997 World Wide Web in this book, Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game did forums, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, Hathitrust, terminals vs. PCs, kittens, cats, how many breakfasts, hungry the whole time, that “triggered” me, Jesse explains this book, Canada, California, Las Vegas, New Zealand, Australia, credit cards, she takes his Diner’s Club card, clothing, Heinlein went on a cruise, transient ischemic attack (TIA), Grumbles From The Grave, lots of eating, good food, cruise ship food, movies, cruise-like, sitting at the captain’s table, Heinlein being respected, touring the United States, crazy governments, “long pig” = human pig, rich “slitch”, playing psychoanalyst, the Earth is doomed, Heinlein is obsessed with the frontier, Time Enough For Love, the frontier hypothesis, racism you wouldn’t notice, law and order in peaceful British Canada, the remainders of the US, the Bear Flag Republic of California, the Free State of Las Vegas, Vicksburg, the Chicago Imperium includes Minnesota, getting Paul’s revolution on, everybody is Amish now, driving draft horses, semi-ballistic skyport, the world’s best batteries: shipstones, Ayn Rand, a libertarian streak, the Galt’s Gulch approach to patents, an unresolved plot point, an internal revolt, they own everything, making an argument, an analogy for the oil industry, s-groups, freeing women up to work, Friday can run 30 km per hour, rolling around on the floor with kittens and babies, housewives, the lesbian couple-ship with Goldie, tension between roles of women, all those contradictions, why is Friday sterile, childless Heinleins, write what you want, Heinlein as a gold bug, making America great again by tearing down the wall between the USA and Mexico, pushing gold hard, politeness is society, no flame wars on Heinlein’s internet, paperbooks vs. ebooks, Google book scans, nobody knew about the internet, the pay internet, the pay web, SOPA and PIPA, a free and open internet, Friday‘s enthusiasm for the web was realistic, I can learn everything, you have no excuse today for not knowing everything, know what you don’t know and don’t talk about it, learning about the world by reading Heinlein novels, the word “knave”, The Queen of Hearts, claques, stylites, particularism, secessionist California, Texas, a balkanized USA, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, alternate dimensions, the Rapture,

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
All on a summer’s day;
The Knave of Hearts
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.
The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of Hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he’d steal no more.

its so easy not to appreciate all we have, I pity all the fools, The Number Of The Beast, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Gay Deceiver, there’s no way to fix this!, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, the thing he has about incest, Heinlein’s Future History, Philip K. Dick does the opposite, it all hangs together, someone is hanging himself in a closet, Heinlein’s periods, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, The Door Into Summer, Professor Eric S. Rabkin, walls dilate open, women: I kinda wanna be one, The Puppet Masters, a similar organization, a boss with a bunch of agents, the boss just dies, writing the novel with a pair of dice or the I Ching, weird coincidences, part of the story just falls away, the Dungeon Master, Friday as a pick-a-path book, on the whole we enjoyed it, the writing style, Hillary Huber was the narrator for Blackstone Audio version, a fun listen, I wouldn’t say that I liked it, fun in places, what is an artificial person, if you prick me do I not leak?, people born of three parents, a future person, GMO fruit vs. organic fruit, people have been fucking with fruit forever, Jesse expounds on apples, all apples for harvest are grafts, Maissa expounds on bananas, Paul expounds on corn, corn is in everything in the USA, you’re 80% corn, the enhanced talking dog, kobold miners, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, the main character is a robot, no biological creatures, the illegitimate worries that Friday has are programmed into the main character of Saturn’s Children, a romp novel with everybody dead, straight out of Heinlein’s subconscious, Reading, Short & Deep, Who Can Replace A Man? by Brian Aldiss, Ian Tregillis’ Alchemy War novels, Spartacus, Botany Bay, there is a destiny that shapes our lives, an allusion to Hamlet

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Friday by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #406 – READALONG: Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

January 30, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #406 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa talk about Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
if this book is anything to go by, personal drama, bottom quarter, pre-A Maze Of Death book, protagonist, world dictator, his woman for a girl, an Earth dictator, a real Trump, aliens, prohibition of alcohol, easy access to drugs, a throwback, the ending, Jesse really liked this book, a Philip K. Dick book, a tire re-groover, illegal and immoral, The Man In The High Castle, ersatz carving of reality, fun themes, so emotional, more emotionally interesting, for poignancy, so good at feeling things, such a loser, the age of consent in Canada, everything in this book actually happened, subtle, the wife and son are literary abandoned, the details of the world, the Philip K. Dick fans page, the what is reality is missing, quotidian, debating philosophy, the PKDS issue 19, Frolix 5 9, prolix, frolicking, The Three Body Problem, are you ready for the alien invasion yet?, people have awakened,

Outline for science fiction novel called: OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 5 8

Theme: Earth is invaded by aliens whom the great majority of people welcome.

Locus of action: Earth in 2190

Situation: Within the last century two new types of human beings have arisen as sport-mutations desired and preserved until by 2085 they fill the top levels of business organizations — and, in the planet-wide federal government, all persons who pass the Civil Service tests must be either a New Man or an Unusual.

The New Men possess magnified cerebral cortexes, the so-called Nodes of Rogers. Their I.Q. is twice that of a brilliant Old Man — as the unevolved are called. (Most people are Old Men, so this makes the New Men an elite — along with the Unusuals.)

The Unusuals are mutants who have freak abilities; i.e. all the familiar psionic gifts having to do with reading minds, knowing the future, moving objects at a distance, etc. They, too, can pass the Civil Service tests and obtain G ratings. And hence rule, along with the New Men.

Neither group likes the other very much. In particular, the New Men look down on the Unusuals as being merely odd.

The highest official on Earth is the Council Chairman of the Extraordinary Committee For Public Safety. He, too, must hold a Civil Service rating. This office, over the years, has passed back and forth between New Men and Unusuals. At this moment the council Chairman is an Unusual named Willis Gramm.

In addition one further group exists. An illegal organization by Old Men calling themselves — not Old Men — but Under Men. There is no way they can rule legally, but at least they can fight. But up to now they have done nothing but print tracts and hang up lurid posters in the dead of night.

Their paralysis is understandable; they are waiting for their hope, their saviour. Led by their pro tem spokesman, Eric Cordon, who is in prison, they are standing firm until the day that Thors Provoni returns from the distant star-system which he is visiting. “Provoni will come back with help,” the Under Men say, but, as they wait, the police (the PSS: Public Security Service) get them one by one; the police have successfully infiltrated the ranks of the Under Men and are destroying them from within.

Plot: The novel opens in on Bobby and his father Nick Appleton. Along the crowded sidewalk, at a snail’s pace, they are making — or trying to make — their way to the Federal Bureau of Personnel Standards; there, Bobby (who is twelve) will try to score highly enough on his first Civil Service test to give the Appleton family some hope for the future… since Nick himself has never been able to obtain even a G-one rating, the lowest there is.

coming to you soon Paul, Democrats and Republicans, untermenschen, slidewalk, this is a true story, autism, he’s obsessed with it, he literally has no skills, he’s a super-genius, a brilliant genius and completely unemployable, people look down on him, you write that dreck?, full of pathos, a knife to help me have confidence, we’re going to flunk him, a weird dystopia, a nationalist sounding speech, I showed him, I’m going to show everyone, so timely, “God is dead. They found His carcass in 2019, floating out in space near Alpha [Centauri]”, Towing Jehovah by James K. Morrow, that Philip K. Dick move, that doesn’t prove it was God, we don’t have his wallet, God at the end, a statuette of God, their prophets, this it was it means…, all the possible interpretations, my arm’s broken, shake your head and give him a hug, if someone else wrote this book, not as polished, that Dick sensibility, better than reading a non-Philip K. Dick book from 1970, the New Wave, big novels of the ’70s, the gears of Science Fiction, Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny, recommending this book, moments, a whole sequence, the turning point of the novel, Philip K. Dick has to go find a new drug dealer, passive vs. active, complimented by a sixteen year-old, boobs, taking her home to the wife and son, she’s an underman, the drug dealers in this book are selling The Communist Manifesto, carve ’em deeper, taking pride in the art of tire re-grooving, a radio, ghetto blasters, the Edward Snowden equivalent, deep down he likes his boss, super-anti-racist, we seen that figure before, share a beer with me, get a new wife, alcohol, Nick Podehl, Trump with psionics, A/B testing, social intelligence, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams, the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer, the squib (air car), the Morbid Chicken, the Gray Dinosaur, the Purple Sea-cow, is that what literally happened?, give it up dude, 50mph or 70 or 120, autopilot (self-driving car), no sentient machines, an automatic door, the appliances don’t talk in this world, tire retreads, the funny thing about this world, inverted, psychotic violence, the alcoholic version of Reefer Madness, drug taking, a scene in The Man Who Japed, kicking dirt, Hokkaido, 25 year old scotch, a beer, the effects last for so long, books are illegal, people abusing books, a drug scene with tracts, Jack Chick Chick Tracts, anarchists, you haven’t got addicted yet, you care about me as a person?, don’t you ever touch me without my permission, precious, amazing little bits, men just want to take little helpless animals and girls in, lost cats and kittens and girls, she sees you as a money making machine, don’t wreck my machine by drinking, a core of truth, if you depend on someone for your income…, 1960s women, a policewoman with her gender taking away, uniforms, Dick: ‘you can barely see her boobs’, ‘her personality’s changed too!’, Psychology of Clothes, my Jesse uniform, why are you dressed like that?, Richard Dawkins’ socks, unmatched socks, a tyranny of socks, shoes have chirality but socks don’t, under the thumb of big sock, the psychology of appearance, unshaven and unclean, a space alien, have a bath (hints the space alien), Jonah inside the whale, another space saviour, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, laser energy, a Christian allegory, The Day The Earth Stood Still, a man who isn’t a man and his robot Gort, underrated?, expectation, no one talks about it, not terrible, the neat little nod to The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, the premise, malignant vs. friendly aliens, make the new men froclick in the play room, having to live in camps, camps vs. camps, Ild (the eyeless) is the Mike Pence of this world, the “great ear” is the NSA, listening to everybody’s thoughts, “we can put people into camps. relocation camps”, we’re going to use these things for good, prepping for the new dystopia, the fake news radio and television in this book, well known for his crimes against the people, Cordon, commutation, execution, Chelsea Manning’s last minute clemency, Julian Assange stuck in that embassy, 2019, how timely this book is, totally surprising, motives for joining political parties, personal motives, the 1%, fated to be a tire regroover, no social movement, the “new math”, symbolic logic, the elaborate theory is completely wrong, string theory, it’s all coming together, just a little more investment/research money, scammers, that’s what exams are, I can write an exam that only I can pass, way back in history, Diff’rent Strokes, test what you want them to test, IQ tests have gone out of fashion, Philip K. Dick is super smart, a deep thinker, thinking the wrong way, a divergent thinker, Jesse’s job, provincial exams, which of these is more correct, the question was badly formed, double think, Marissa’s editing work, how to interpret, editing is about what figuring out what a reader is taking from a scene, writing narrative non-fiction, do more dialogue, we’re inside the character’s mind, no work for the reader to do makes it long and boring, very subtle, what makes a person think a book is good, a high art for author an editor, pg 165, “that melted his heart”, the Dionysian face, a poem by Yeats, an alliforget sweater, I should just spray myself with paint, was he before Bob Dylan, set 200 years in the future, a Nobel Prize laureate, poetry started with Dylan and has declined since, chamber music, he rolled himself on to her, I’m not a woman, what?!, wow!, it’s statutory rape he told her presently, the end of the world has come, PiSSers, their occifers not officers, to ossify is to turn to bone, the black shirts, keeping the undermen down, witness it he echoed, Central Park, those lines are from his life, he withdrew from her, look Nick, you keep having sex with me and I’ll let you read that poem, you’re hurting me, they’ve been having sex!, surprising sex scenes you didn’t know were sex scenes in Philip K. Dick books, Provoni came from up there, I’m so glad I’m not an American right now, lobotomized, The Cosmic Surgeon From A Distant Star (an alternative title),

I must be gone: there is a grave
Where daffodil and lily wave,
And I would please the hapless faun,
Buried under the sleepy ground,
With mirthful songs before the dawn.
His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
Walking ghostly in the dew,
Pierced by my glad singing through,

The Happy Shepherd by William Butler Yeats, very very Greek, Chronos, a gay poem, fawns are male, her grave, the second to last scene, a world with a black sun, asking his autistic son for a drawing, what does this mean?, he’s a prophet, the black shirts, baffling stories, The Crystal Crypt by Philip K. Dick, SS (Schutzstaffel), three saboteurs, the Chelsea Manning sort of character, political prisoners, like an airplane, a snowglobe, a terrible science fiction story, a reducing ray, Dick cannot get the idea of the SS out of his mind, a powerful image, newsreels, chapter 24, a hydrogen truck, he can’t feel his body, is that the light of a police officer shining in my eyes?, he sees her brain, brutal, surprising, sudden, he gives he cop a fake name and then starts running, let me take you to the hospital, you’re not going to arrest me?, the evil behind the throne, a pathetic scene, being kindly treated by a bunch of SS-guys, a brilliant monster that can’t be monstrous anymore, Philip K. Dick is so willing to have his mind changed about things, it’s amazing!, little arcs, I don’t know anybody else who is like that, the car chase, polished writing, a mad driver, drawing from his life, a little longer, only 189 pages, expanded, an Ace paperback, back to the pulp roots, Jesse really liked this book, not a bad Science Fiction story, recommended to Dick fans, unspool his mind, paint your flying car purple, teenagers hanging out, users, abusers, losers, young people looking up to him, why he is that way to this girl, why she is admirable to him, if Philip K. Dick were alive now…, during his lifetime, wow this guy is awesome, most people in his lifetime, in reading all his novels, give one of those great Philip K. Dicky responses, hidden genius, what he gets out of that relationship, that lack of confidence, if you’re married to a famous person, everybody needs a little bit of reassurance now and then, Don Wollheim, oh yeah sure!, appreciated for what he’s doing, and here’s some money, you can see it in his writing, rolling the eyes is the end, you’re amazing!, he needed that, wanting to spend time with him,

Great news. Although I am a little late, I have finished the novel, OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 8, which, as you will recall, I am under contract for (sometime last month it was due). All I need do now is simply type up the final draft; there will be no further revision, that having already been done.

The novel runs longer than my others. They all came out at about 215 typescript pages; this comes out to 268, which I would estimate as between 70,000 and 80,000 words. I hope that the length is satisfactory to you; i.e. the contract called for 70,000, rather than the usual 60,000, so I assumed you wanted a longer novel; hence this length, which was most carefully planned on my part; it didn’t just happen that way.

Not since EYE IN THE SKY have I so much enjoyed working on a novel. Usually I get up at noon; while writing this I got up at seven a.m. and tottered my way to the typewriter, my mind filled with dialog. There is nothing about reality-versus-illusion in it, no hallucinations, etc. I did depart from the latter part of the outline, but the book remains as the outline described it; I think it is fair to say that it is true to the outline.

Please write me and let me know if the length is okay. But I really don’t want to trim it; I would appreciate it very, very much if you let me leave it at its present length. Okay?

and then:

I have been stewing and fretting about completing the final copy of OUR FRIENDS. First, when I began typing the final version, I discovered that I had to change some of the material. Then I came down with Hong Kong flu, with complications. And as the coup de grace, my Olympia typewriter broke down and had to go to the shop for repairs {…} typing 80,000 words on this damn {loaner} thing is next to impossible (it’s a 1941 Royal). I have to have my own machine, and when I get it back I’ll resume the typing of the final draft (which I had gotten well into before the troubles began). I am very sorry and I know the novel is overdue, but the revisions have been made {…}

the only novel he completed in 1969, June 1970, personal troubles, its all in the book, a very long memoir, memoir by way of Science Fiction, no-one writes book like this, taking elements, the crazy cars, the crazy boss, a good book.

Ace Books - Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Jesse

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #398 – READALONG: Ringworld by Larry Niven

December 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastHotspur Publishing - Eat Fish And Die by S. Ron MarsThe SFFaudio Podcast #398 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Ringworld by Larry Niven

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Hotspur Publishing’s Eat Fish And Die (book 3: Hook, Blind and Stinker narrated by Eric Pollins), a satiric military SF audiobook series.

Talked about on today’s show:
1970, many people have a problem with this book, issues, classic big dumb object, the book hasn’t changed, oh bad, with live in very sensitive times, political correctness, totally unacceptable jokes, ‘Teela was one of the few women crying doesn’t make ugly’, “so I don’t rape Nessus”, joking and laughing, regaining confidence, is Teela a damsel in distress?, a hole in the Ringworld, luck, she isn’t saved by a man, a trope subverted, Candide, blind faith, rising up, worldbuilding, jaded spacer, quasi-murderous kzin, cowardly Nessus, N-Space, an author plot device, not so cool, Prill, Ascension, Jesse begins apologizing for Larry Niven’s, breaking Paul’s bubble with a fan favourite: Firefly, a lot of sex, defined as a concubine, 40 people on the ship, overly sensitizes, picks at people’s mind, every woman has a tasp within her if she knows how to use it, where are the vampires and ghouls, The Ringworld Engineers, he’s a wirehead, drugs, retesting, a stimulating environment, puppeteer is puppeteer, where’s the outrage over the puppeteer immorality, looking at the book the wrong way, if that’s your takeaway from that scene, let it go, non-sentience and the non-sentient females, Louis Wu’s freezer family, sentient is an interesting world, Philosophical zombies, Westworld!, Ex Machina, man creator creating a woman for sex, addressing a real thing, hard facts that people don’t like to think or talk about, differences between the genders, not being shy, gender switch Louis and Teela’s genders, non-reproductive sex, the intersection between reproduction and sex and gender, a biological fact, why do we go to the puppeteer world, motivated by breeding licenses, he has a beautiful woman’s voice(s), horror acts, I’m going to murder you, when you live in a society that has solved all the gender problems…, as a plot device, the whole book is “spoiled” on the cover and the back, it’s very interesting and let’s explore, in order to have a reason there have to be a series of coincidences, a treatise on fate and destiny, exploring through the story, she just needs to meet a man?, do you have any free will, the puppet strings of fate, the god gambit, she’s going to be alive for 20,000 years, Teela becomes a “protector”, retconing, Protector by Larry Niven, a 1 to 1 scale map of the Earth, Mars, after the Halo generation, trouble picturing it, a true fact, bigger than our imagination, the orbit of the Earth around the sun, did the Lying Bastard make the Fist Of God, the comet defense system, the shadow square wires, Earth has natural mechanisms for keeping itself in balance, there’s no maintenance crew for the Ringworld, laser taboo, Ringworld is so inconceivably big and the whole is not very big in comparison, plug the hole, the center cannot hold, things fall apart, entropy, the sunflower problem, ecology, the ring foundation material being exposed, no real geological activity, preventing the seas from being silted, all the systems that are needed to be maintained, good job Earth!, the Aral Sea, the Earth society, the homogenization of the world, Beirut looks like Budapest, Munich resembles Cairo, transfer booths and stepping discs vs. Skype, a global culture, people in other countries can be in the same room, the lucky ones, every number in South America, Louis is a big mix, Larry Niven is hilarious, Louis Wu and his Motley Crew, French and Chinese, a chrome yellow mandarin, so racist?, just a fashion, Teela was blue, globalism happens, google translate, the Larry Niven’s flashcrowd stories, not the Organlegger stories, not Known Space, flash zombie mobs, revolutions, 2000+ veterans heading to Standing Rock, North Dakota, not through the mainstream media, a slow motion flash mob, thinking about technology the way Larry Niven does, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, how are fly-cycles powered?, concepts or technologies from Ringworld, Neutron Star, Beowulf Shaeffer, my greatest hits of technology ideas, the Ansible (an anagram for Lesbian), Orson Scott Card, General Products Hull, anti-matter, Slaver stasis field, World Of Ptavvs, selecting for luck, a stupid (smart) idea, we don’t have a complete picture of reality, they’re using a different theory, manipulating probabilities, the Scarlet Witch and Gambit, there is no actual book from god, running a crazy (interesting) experiment with an infinite amount of puppeteers, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, sex solving all problems, Babylon 5, bonobo references, sexing your ways out of problems, obsessed by sex, anyone alive has someone in their family interested in sex, a science fan, something to think about, when did Isaac Asimov become interested in sex?, a good thing, the problems with it are so negligible, the fans of Ringworld are insanely interested in it, browbeaten into writing the sequels, a natural school learned from, booster-spice is straight out of Dune, ragweed, the Chaosium Ringworld RPG, Teela brown is well educated, bundled in with the luck, does having experience pain help with empathy?, the Ringworld foundation material, the way Douglas Adams explains how big space is doesn’t give you the same sense, this thing is really, really big, a barbarian swordsperson on a quest, he’s Don Quixote and she’s Sancho Panza, super-funny, “he stopped having sex with me when he found out about you”, almost every culture has done that in most of human history, a collapsed civilization, he knows magic, people barter with people, he’s honourable, stupid honour, she’d be ruining him, keep him the noble idiot that he is, wandering the Ringworld forever, that’s why there is a game about this world, Stellaris, the puppeteer world, leaf-eaters for lunch, “my love”, sexism is based on the distinguishment between male and female, races aren’t real, genders are real, French-ness, epicanthic folds, the end of racism, we all speak Interworld, there goes Firefly again, Joss Whedon, this is why you should pillory Niven: Wu travels the wrong direction for his birthday, “endlessly teased”, the Earth spinning the wrong direction, Niven has tapped into something amazing with Ringworld, a TV adaptation, how to depict the Ringworld on screen, mostly conversations about technical problems and possible solutions, that’s so interesting, the cloud over the city, it looks like a cloud?, that variable sword, Jesse does the voices, Louis the mediator, a xenophile, cool!, real racism, that’s racist!, Speaker’s viewpoint, Nessus’s character is brilliant, [“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.”], Meskalanites as Yankee traders, the same story (in structure), what antlers are for, they’re cowards (cautious), they always attacked before they were ready, masterful foreign policy, sock-puppets, it’s both, the Outsiders, slave and food out of everybody, 350 pages, The Wizard Of Oz plot, Maissa’s theory: Teela is Dorothy, the Puppeteer is the Cowardly Lion, Sunflowers instead of Poppies, Louis is Dorothy, Teela as the Tin-Man, Prill as the Wizard, a road trip, it kind of looks like The Wizard Of Oz, Speaker as Tony the Tiger, anachronisms, when you make a kizinti laugh that’s going to be your last joke, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Starfleet Battles, drone warfare, an Enterprise made out of General Products hulls, a BDO, a BDO capper, invented and solved in one book, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, Jesse engineer’s a dyson’s sphere without artificial gravity (using Ringworld tech), The Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees, low-tech characters lack a scientific education, Rammer is not known space story, a horrible dystopia, the corpsicles, sticking it to the man, A World Out Of Time, always weird sexual things, totally forgivable, setting Samuel DeLany aside, biological differences in the genders create biological imperatives, women seem to like to take care of babies that come out of their bodies, why do you think that is?, snakes don’t take care of their babies, a biological reason, snakelets take care of themselves, men seem to find women scarce and women seem to find men plentiful, these are facts, that’s what people do, recreation and reproduction, birth control technology has fundamentally changed human relations, walking around in bags, repressed technology, Jesse is going to get into trouble, protecting the make libido, horror stories, a culture of repression, from a biological stance, Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, changelings, Rapunzel, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, this totally a sex story, women always know who their children are and men don’t, the motivation behind horrible, men spread genetic material without cost but for women it is highly costly, the cuckoo, feeding baby birds is physically high cost, divorce in the age of social safety net, charged words, in defense of poor Larry Niven, sexist, colouring the re-reading, trapped in the police jail, flying the Improbable, put a ring around it, a fundamental disregard for women, a lessering of women, little low affect Hal Clements, he’s a man, books written by women, good books, an exercise in making characters, being unable to fully model, a callousness, plot movers to opposed to people, Prill is at a disadvantage, if you’ve been worshiped for a long time, non-violation of the Prime Directive, violated many times, Speaker as a male god, it doesn’t count on Ringworld, very worldist!, vampires and hominids, the lack of diversity, human speciation on the Ringworld in The Ringworld Engineers, bribed with Boston lettuce, less diamond so chaff, mining metaphors, one-and-done-it.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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