“Spoilers” spoil my life

August 15, 2015 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Spoilers…. this post will point out how fucking stupid spoilers are.

See that yellow line at the end? That’s the spoilers I’m talking about. That’s the one I don’t give a shit about – and that’s the one that seems to have infected the minds of practically every conversation about books in the last 10 years. It’s pretty fucking sad to me that the only place one can really go to find out anything about a book is Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the one place that has a rule about not allowing argument about a book, the only place I can seemingly go to find out whether I’ll want to read a book.

Spoilers

So this is a pretty hard topic to research. Those colours, on the “use over time” above, are mine. I’m guessing with them, going with my sense of the predominate usage of “spoiler” – I think I once read that Spider Robinson coined the modern genre usage back in the late 1970s, in a column or something. Roger Ebert seems to be attributed it for movies. But what I’m certainly not talking about third party political candidate phenomenon (the idea is that they ruin elections), nor am I talking about the wings mounted on the backs of sports cars (which reduce aerodynamic lift) – I’m talking about the “spoilers” that dominate and limit book talk today – the ‘who dies at the end’ of a movie or TV show kind of “spoiler!” [said with glee], the ‘who’s whose secret sister to whom’ – or some such inane detail that someone thinks is crucial to appreciate something.

That person, actually, its you – its you – you are the person who uses the term “spoilers” – you’re well, you’re just really really wrong.

I understand, these trendy terms and turns-of-phrase are inevitable, unstoppable. One may as well fight against the tide as fight against them.

If you look to the past, as I am always doing, you will see how oblivious to the stupidity people are – check out this list of ridiculous 1980s phrases and euphemisms and you’ll see just how stupid people were in the 1980s were.

I know it is pointless to fight but I’m going to anyway, I’ve staked my claim on the beach, anchored myself to the bedrock beneath the shifting sand, and I’m beating against the endless wash of “spoilers” as hard as I can – my lone and lonely voice against “spoilers” is a valiant fight, and it is a fight I’ve long been losing – but that’s the point I’m trying to make – we all lose, whenever a conversation about any book somebody is discussing is truncated because they think some fact could “spoil” a book.

Even the word is stupid. “Spoilers” even if they have an effect won’t utterly ruin anything that is truly good” – but I understand, hyperbole is effective, the words “enjoyment lessener” or “surprise reducer” and thus would be unsurprisingly less enjoyable to use.

I really think it all just boils down to one point. I know it is doomed to failure, but I just have to say it – if you could just grasp it – if you could only grok it, deep down in your bones, in your genes – you’d stop having that word come out of your mouth when it comes to books.

I can almost understand it when it comes to a very narrow subset of movies, like The Crying Game, or Chinatown, or The Sixth Sense (the only thing The Sixth Sense has is the twist/surprise/point of the whole 1 hour and 47 minute exercise).

But books aren’t like that. And honestly, if you think about it, TV shows aren’t either.

Spartacus dies, I knew that going in, the fact enhanced my pleasure.

Whether Walter White gets away with his crimes or not isn’t the point of me watching Breaking Bad. I enjoyed the journey (except for that one episode where nothing happens).

In terms of TV shows it all comes down to this, do the people who make the show know where they‘re going? Do they know how it ends? If they do, great. If not, you’re fucking LOST.

Now books are a completely different deal, and here’s why. Books are long, and they are many. Being long and being many means we can’t read all of them, not even all the ones we want. And ultimately I think this explains why the term “spoiler” crops up in practically every conversation about book these days. If you don’t understand this one point, a small matter you think you know (but don’t really accept) if you just could accept this concept, really take it on board, namely that we are all going to fucking die, your saying “spoilers!” would rapidly diminish.

You who say “spoilers” act as if we had an infinite amount of time to read all the books.

This is stupid.

There are now more books published every year than we could read in all our lifetimes. So if you tell me that some point or other “spoils” a book then what you’re essentially saying is that you think I’d be less inclined to read the book if I knew some fact about the book. But this misses the point, I’M NOT GOING TO READ THAT FUCKING BOOK.

So, to sum up, please stop the self-censoring. I’m not going to read that book you don’t want to spoil for me, not unless you tell me something about it, something interesting.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Update: here’s a Google N-gram for the phrase “spoiler alert”

The SFFaudio Podcast #152 – READALONG: The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

March 19, 2012 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Aural Noir, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #152 – Jesse talks with Trent Reynolds and Paul Westlake about the AudioGo and Hard Case Crime novel The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake.

Talked about on today’s show:
Is The Comedy Is Finished going to be the last Donald E. Westlake novel to be published?, Memory (and our discussion of it), Charles Ardai, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, getting paid is a priority for professional writers, the 1970s, Honeydew, USO tours, Bob Hope, the audiobook experience, Peter Berkrot’s narration of the audiobook of The Comedy Is Finished, Koo Davis, Bob Hope as Red Skelton vs. Bob Hope as Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ricky Gervais, Koo Davis narrates his own POV in the present everyday tense sense, “Westlake is the master of sentence by sentence writing”, “in the moment”, “the god-damned Vietnam thing”, “the real Americans”, the redemption, healing vs. moving on, Ronald Reagan, “new normal”, “the Carter malaise” and “festering wounds”, Larry, Peter, Mark has daddy issues, Joyce, the Dortmunder gang if they were all psychotic, “doing a Westlake”, why do Koo’s boys not look like him?, the role of a father, the mirror scene, “genetics don’t matter in fiction”, fatherhood as a choice, leave the messages to Western Union, character arcs, Lindsey, A Sound Of Distant Drums, radio drama, “there are round characters and there are flat characters”, “oh this is a Westlake”, “Charo has become a bitter old woman”, “a romantic writer”, succinct description, taking plots from real life, The Score, “he can heist anything”, The Mourner, The Stepfather, “that’s pretty much how these work”, three Dortmunder ideas, Kahawa should be an audiobook, California, Burbank, Santa Barbara, Elizabeth Taylor’s biography, Under An English Heaven should be an audiobook too, Anguilla, an option has been taken out on Kahawa, the new Parker movie, Stephen King’s filmography vs. Donald Westlake’s filmography, The Hot Rock, Cops And Robbers (1973), The Split (based on The Seventh), Payback, Les Alexander, The Outfit, City Of Industry, The Sour Lemon Score, Made In U.S.A., the Criterion Collection, it’s Clint Eastwood with internal monologue, a Dortmunder TV series, The Limey, Terence Stamp, Idi Amin, Uganda, “the coffee train”, Enough, Ordo, A Slight Case Of Murder, A Travesty, it’s very hard to be a Westlake expert, the sound a girl makes when you’re kissing her, “it’s just a weird name”, Bob Hope was a knight!, Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, Westlake’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, Westlake’s renunciation of SF, Anarchaos by Curt Clark, “Rolf Malone is a precursor to Parker”, Theodore Bikel (the fiddler in The Fiddler On The Roof), The Risk Profession, Nackles (is great for kids!), The Twilight Zone, Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Nackles, the Starship Hopeful series (available on DonaldWestlake.com), Lawrence Block’s fantasy story, SF is very allegorical (and that’s not Westlake), Humans, Westlake’s Smoke vs. Wells’ The Invisible Man, “and everybody’s an asshole”, “everybody one way or another is a jerkoff”, “Joyce goes crazy in the most wonderful way”, a survivor of Chernobyl, “is God really an asshole?”, “angels are assholes”, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Sacred Monster, Get Real, ridicule in print, Money For Nothing, Westlake never lectured, interior thoughts that are so revealing about the shallowness of a character’s nature, Washington, D.C., “moving up the ladder”, “what does Ginger want?”, “it’s fun to play with fire”, “I’ve got to have something”, did Don hate rock and roll?, he liked classical and atonal jazz, “damn hippie”, 99% of politics is pointless, talking to death, Jimmy The Kid (a Parker novel inside of a Dortmunder novel), kidnapping, Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, Patty Hearst, Gangway, Brian Garfield, Spider Robinson’s Dortmunder homage, Lawrence Block, The Sour Lemon Score, Dashiell Hammett, Piers Anthony, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, shiny spaceships, don’t read by genre, read by author, the genre label, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Trent’s beef with Angelica Huston, a period piece, Paul had a problem with John Cusack, J.T. Walsh, Pat Hingle, Annette Bening, “I’ll never look at a bag of oranges the same way”, Donald Westlake: NYC Personified, The Violent World Of Parker website, Nick Jones, Westlake’s bibliography at DonaldWestlake.com.

AudioGo - The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #104

April 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #104 – Scott, Jesse, and Gregg Margarite talk about two Robert Sheckley short stories, Untouched By Human Hands (aka One Man’s Poison) and Seventh Victim.

Talked about on today’s show:
extravaganza vs. jamboree vs. hootenanny, the absent article, The Tenth Victim, Is That What People Do? The Selected Stories Of Robert Sheckley, “one man’s poison is another man’s meat”, writing with your mind, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Gregg has been on many bloody campaigns with his typewriter, Scott loves the pen and notebook, Jesse uses a camera, whiteboard technologies, our podcast about FOOD, Douglas Adams, “Sheckley is not as vaudevillian as Adams”, Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, The Pirate Planet, a building shaped like a doughnut, “food-worthy”, c-rations vs. sea rations, “fill all your stomachs and fill them right”, Hellman and Casker, how do you determine food from non-food, chemists have horribly burnt tongues, Geology exams require the use of tongues, giggling food, drinking vs. being drunk, short stories should throw off sparks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Untouched By Human Hands was sixty years ahead of its time, Laurel And Hardy vs. Gilligan’s Island, the SyFy channel is sixty years behind the times, Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Robert A. Heinlein, copyright, Mickey Mouse vs. Mighty Mouse, keeping murder alive, Sheckley’s late career, Stanton Frelaine = Stand In the Free Lane?, The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Lifeboat Mutiny by Robert Sheckley, The Leech, Warrior Race, Watchbird, La Decima Vittima, Marcello Mastroianni, New York, World War IV, World War VI, feminism, Mindswap, the economy in Seventh Victim, wordlbuilding in a short story, Spotters, Morger, the Tens Club, a game where people kill people, “there is no such thing as human rights”, are these rights not self-evident?, thou shalt not kill/murder, “the age of the half-believer”, Catholicism vs. protestantism, cherry-picking the beliefs from the old and new testament, the three legs of the scientific method (rational, empirical, scholastic), fads, should we require a degree in science to wear a lab-coat?, cargo cults, philosophy, the Emotional Catharsis Bureau, “damn women”, “gladiatorial events complete with blood and thunder”, does a desire to murder start wars?, Gregg thinks we are vehicles for genes, Professor Eric. S. Rabkin, Genesis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is aggressiveness (or competition) a requirement to move on, the Space Race, the architects of tech during WWII, Michael Faraday isn’t getting any royalties, copyright vs. copyfight, seek technology got a patent!, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, guaranteed minimum income, William Shakespeare, West Side Story, “there are only seven stories [basic plots]”, “we stray”, Frelaine’s reaction to the suicidal Victim, the purpose of catharsis, the deep unsatisfaction of an unfinished play, an unrequited kill, how many [TV] series are canceled before their plots unfold? (too many), Dexter vs. Babylon 5 vs. Lost, Game Of Thrones, Drive, The Wire is deeply unsatisfying every episode, ambivalent storytelling, “you can’t fix this neighborhood, move.”, The Corner, Firefly and Serenity, “he had a plan”, how to watch Babylon 5, what is the message of Seventh Victim, X-Minus One, Battlefield 2, do violent video games (and computer games) reduce violence?, Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, Killer: The Game Of Assassination, Gregg wants it with collateral damage.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #096

February 21, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #096 – Scott and Jesse talk about recently arrived audiobooks as well as Y: The Last Man, James Tiptree Jr., Isaac Asimov, what author estates want and more!

Talked about on today’s show:
Kage Baker, Subterranean Press, Blackstone Audio, In The Garden Of Iden by Kage Baker, Captive Market by Philip K. Dick, Janan Raouf, Time For The Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, Barret Whitener, telepathy, Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Malcolm Hillgartner, Heinlein’s first and last novel, Spider Robinson, Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Macmillan Audio, Death Cloud: Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins by Andrew Lane, Dan Wyman, “endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate” = who cares, Poul Anderson on Sherlock Holmes, Laird of Muck, disabled protagonists, The Lighthouse Land by Adrian McKinty, The Lighthouse War, MG (middle grade) vs. YA, Gerard Doyle, Christopher Paolini, The Gods Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Dufris, viscous plant men, does Deja Thoris lay eggs?, Dynamite Entertainment‘s Warlord Of Mars, Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg, Majipoor Chronicles, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Stonefather by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Emily Janice Card, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Lost Gate, The Last Airbender, R.L. Stine, Timescape by, Darkside by Tom Becker |READ OUR REVIEW|, Bolinda Audio, London, Neil Gaiman-esque, The Graveyard Book, Venus by Ben Bova |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fantastic Audio, Jupiter, Nova Science Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Europa, Ganymede, A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, Brilliance Audio, The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, dragons, elves, Odalisque by Neal Stephenson, Alan Moore loves allusions, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Honor Harrington, Honor Among Enemies by David Weber, manticore, pirates!, what’s up with all the mix-and-match creatures in the Middle East?, On Blazing Wings by L. Ron Hubbard, mercenaries, SFsite.com often reviews the L. Ron Hubbard Stories From The Golden Age, the paperbooks problem, The Unremembered by Peter Orullian, Anne Perry, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, 8th century, Baghdad, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, the Fantasy Book Critic blog review, unpronounceable character names, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick was inspired by the Odyssey, Beyond Lies The Wub, Strange Eden, Scott didn’t like Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, Gulliver’s Travels, the problem of transitory pop-culture references, The Tyrrany Of Talented Readers, Scalped, Bertrand Russell, Pride Of Baghdad, anthropomorphic fiction, James Tiptree Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Masters Of Horror: The Screwfly Solution, Dove Audio, Isaac Asimov, author estates, Escape Pod #100, Nightfall, Tantor Media, Robots Of Dawn, Audible.com has plenty of Arthur C. Clarke, Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steve Barnes, mystery, Science Fiction, On Stranger Tides, Brain Wave, PaperbackSwap, Del Rey art in the ’70s and ’80s was awesome, Scott’s Picasa gallery of book covers, Tom Weiner, Jesse has a terrible memory, our Oath Of Fealty readalong, the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.

Posted by Jesse Willis

With A Little Help by Cory Doctorow (and his friends)

December 8, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Check out the impressive list of narrators reading the stories in this new FREE short story collection from Cory Doctorow. The Neil Gaiman read story, The Right Book, takes on the future of books, ebooks and publishing. The Wil Wheaton read story, Scroogled, imagines a future (or perhaps present) in which your Google searches shall be held against you in the airport security screening, free wi-fi and webcams everywhere means you’ve constantly surveilled and Cardinal Richelieu get’s his revenge. This is a very cool project.

I’ve added a HuffDuffer podcast feed for the the entire collection or pick and choose individual stories.

With A Little Help by Cory DoctorowWith A Little Help
By Cory Doctorow; Read by various
14 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 10 Hours 25 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Craphound.com
Published: December 7, 2010
With A Little Help is my first serious experiment in self-publishing. I’ve published many novels, short story collections, books of essays and so on with publishers, and it’s all been very good and satisfying and educational and so on, but it seems like it’s time to try something new. With A Little Help consists of 12 stories, all reprints except for “Epoch” (commissioned by Mark Shuttleworth) This book is also available as a limited edition hardcover, a free ebook (in several formats) and an audiobook. It is licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. Download the book, buy the limited edition hardcover and audiobooks at craphound.com/walh. This cover by Rick Lieder. Three other covers available.

Podcast feed: http://huffduffer.com/tags/with_a_little_help/rss

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

1. Introduction
By Jonathan Coulton; Read by Jonathan Coulton
1 |MP3| – Approx. 6 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

2. The Things That Make Me Weak and Strange Get Engineered Away
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Hugh A.D. Spencer
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 22 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

3. The Right Book
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Neil Gaiman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 17 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

4. Other Peoples’ Money
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Mur Lafferty
1 |MP3| – Approx. 15 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

5. Scroogled
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Wil Wheaton
1 |MP3| – Approx. 40 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

6. Human Readable
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Spider Robinson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

7. Liberation Spectrum
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Leo Laporte
1 |MP3| – Approx. 55 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

8. Power Punctuation!
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Patrick Nielsen Hayden
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

9. Visit The Sins
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Roy Trumbull
1 |MP3| – Approx. 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

10. Constitutional Crisis
By Cory Doctorow; Read by J.C. Hutchins
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

11. Pester Power
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Mary Robinette Kowal
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

12. Chicken Little
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Emily Hurson
1 |MP3| – Approx. 2 Hours 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

13. Epoch
By Cory Doctorow; Read by Jesse Brown
1 |MP3| – Approx. 1 Hour 24 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

14. Afterword: I’m Only In It For The Money
By Russell Galen; Read by Russell Galen
1 |MP3| – Approx. 9 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]

[Thanks tamahome02000‎!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Spider On The Web: Satan’s Children by Spider Robinson

April 2, 2010 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Spider On The Web - Spider Robinson’s podcastSpider Robinson has recorded his 1979 novella, Satan’s Children, for release in two parts on his podcast. He describes it as being “about a holy lunatic’s dream of actually making a better world, through chemistry.” Episodes 79 and 80 feature the complete reading.

Myself, I don’t like music, something included in almost every Robinson podcast, so I’ve used Audacity to strip out and combine both halves of the fiction in each episode. Combined together the novella runs nearly 78 minutes. But even if you are weird like me there are still a few other bits and bobs in there you may be interested in hearing – including some news on Jeanne Robinson‘s health and a rare blog entry from Harlan Ellison (as read by Spider).

New Voices II, ed. George R. R. Martin, Jove 1979Satan’s Children
By Spider Robinson; Read by Spider Robinson
2 MP3 Files – Approx. 1 Hour 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Spider On The Web
Podcast: March 2010
First published in the anthology New Voices II (The Campbell Award Nominees) edited by George R.R. Martin, Jove 1979.

Part 1 |MP3| Part 2 |MP3|

Podcast feed:

http://www.spiderrobinson.com/iTunes_feed.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Donations for Jeanne Robinson can be done through THIS site.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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