The SFFaudio Podcast #367 – READALONG: The Prince And the Pauper by Mark Twain

May 2, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #367 – Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa talk about The Prince And the Pauper by Mark Twain.

Talked about on today’s show:
1881, 1882, Julie’s Mark Twain obsession, realistic fiction, children’s literature, reading with teenagers, old books teach you their vocabulary, quasi-historical fiction, Tom Sawyer, something classier, Sir Walter Scott, like Dickens-lite, sooo Dickens!, Huckleberry Finn, young people of all ages, anything public domain was marketed for children, appealing to children, sympathetic characters, lacking wry cynicism, less biting, he’s an anglophile, making points, how do we treat people, trading places, The Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nickleby, Bleak House, the progress of an author, everybody knows the story, enters the popular culture like a fable, a meta-issue, where’s the science fiction and the fantasy?, Jesse’s thinking, The Prisoner Of Zenda, Ruritania, inspired by, precursors, an immediate classic, that Ringo (1974) movie, Carrie Fisher, that Monty Python thing, so much fun, and his talentless half brother, Vincent Price, John Ritter, chock-full of fun, The Man In The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas, Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, this phenomenon, replacing the king, Citizen Of The Galaxy, the influence of Twain is in SF, Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, the Wishbone adaptation, way down into the culture, Dave (with Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver), Moon Over Parador with Richard Dreyfuss, in that continuum, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, research and divergence, footnotes, Edward, Lady Jane Gray, Star Trek: Mirror, Mirror, parrallel worlds, Freaky Friday, so many avenues, Big with Tom Hanks, swapped identity, genre defining, what it says on the tin, parody versions, The Monkees, 25 minutes of ridiculous, The Monkees a fake version of The Beatles, Twain’s Joan Of Arc book, incredibly well plotted, dreaming the life of a king, Tom is the king of Offal Court, crazy, King of the Gamecocks and King Foofoo, Miles Hendon’s story is parallel to Prince Edward’s plot, it goes really deep, Tom’s two sisters, Nan and Bess, Mary and Elizabeth, everybody gets to be king or queen for a day, queen for nine days, Mary’s short reign, Elizabeth’s long reign, a lot of pain and torture and unjust punishment and superstition, the psychological irony, every king should live by the laws of his subjects, the Blue Laws, pardonings, wise judgement, chapter 22/23, not a joke book, situational humour, doing the Robin Hood thing, the Ruffler, a beggar who refuses to beg, threatening the tinker with a soldering iron, a thief who won’t steal, putting a clime on him, a cant term for an ulcer, a slatternly woman and a diseased baby on the side of the road, an here’s the recipe, the mother daughter witches, witchcraft, the wisdom of Solomon from the mouths of babes, foolishly wise, native common sense, hath it always this dread effect?, a parallel scene, when Edward is in gaol as Tom, the crime of being Baptists, who burned?, burned at the stake, Tom had watched a procession, crisp flesh, some gruesome stuff, not a satire, straightforward historical (romanticized), Errol Flynn as Miles Hendon in the 1937 movie, the Oliver Reed movie adaptation (1977), tainted by Ringo, too heavy, Ernest Borgnine, Rachel Welch, interchangeable beauty, you monster!, he’s Errol Flynn-ing it all over the place, a heavy focus on the Miles story, Charlton Heston as Henry VIII, he was every historical male figure, all the time travelers form the 1970s movies, Miles’ brother is sent to the American colonies and becomes a politician, making it more satirical, the 1977 adaptation is very faithful to the novel, comedy, Edith, the children’s hospital, when Twain visited Europe he bought a lot of books, after his ordeal, teachings out of books, The Merchant Of Venice, reading the classics, I’ll make a classic tale, as if it has been with us forever, absolutely historical fiction and yet…, a Disney version, a timeless story, remember the humanity of the people around us, applying your humanity, anchor in reality, the kids, forgoing the crazy laws, I’m going to honor children always, meta-stuff, a short reign, the romantic relationship, she spurns Tom and marries a rich old Earl, Romeo And Juliet, twin brother from another mother, Ivanhoe, close enough, about as far away from SFF as Jesse will go, Moby Dick, Wrath Of Khan, William Shatner is the white whale, Patrick Stewart, the whipping boy, “to cheapen miracles by wasteful repetition”, he’s going places, what do you do with your time?, the Prince’s eyes flashed, speak on, we wade and swim in the canals, reality was so dreary, be careful what you wish for, the grass is always greener, delicious irony, adults child relationships, Mark Twain’s relationship with Dorothy Quick, on a trans-Atlantic crossing, a Disney movie about their relationship, Dorothy Quick was a Weird Tales poet, a New York Times obituary for March 16th, 1962:

DOROTHY QUICK, POET AND AUTHOR
Mystery Writer Dies – Was Friend of Mark Twain

Mrs. Dorothy Quick Mayer of 880 Park Avenue and East Hampton, L.I., a writer who treasured a childhood friendship with Mark Twain, died yesterday at her home here after a long illness.

Miss Quick was a girl of 11 in 1907 when she met the famous author on an Atlantic crossing. She was returning to Plainfield, N.J., from Europe with her parents, the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Quick.

Recognizing Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) by his wavy hair and white suit, she walked around and around the deck, passing very slowly by his chair each time, until he finally came over and introduced himself.

“It was the beginning of a friendship that was to last until the very day of his death,” [1910] she recalled in 1954.

After the voyage she received a telegram from Twain asking whether she would prefer as a birthday present “one elephant or 10,000 monkeys.” She replied that she would prefer his books – which he sent her, along with a tiny white elephant.

Her memories of Mark Twain were published last year by the University of Oklahoma Press under the title “Enchantment.”

Miss Quick was married in 1925 to John Adams Mayer, who died in 1940. She continued to write under her maiden name. Her collected poems were published by the University Press, Washington. She also wrote mystery stories and contributed a weekly column for many years to newspapers in East Hampton and Riverhead, L.I.

Since 1960 Miss Quick had been honorary president of the Mark Twain Association of New York. Her other literary memberships included the P.E.N. Club, Pen and Brush, the National League of American Penwomen, the Brooklyn Poetry Circle, Women Poets of New York, and the Society of Composers, Artists and Authors.

over-sexualizing everything, Jack London and H.G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens, a persuasive fan letter, Poe and Dickens had a private lunch, my pet raven, the end of Barnaby Rudge, a can of leaded paint, Poe had been struggling with a particular poem: The Raven, Dickens is the epitome of success, his reviews, there’s a reason why, put that in, worth a reread!

Mark Twain and Dorothy Quick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #363 – READALONG: The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein

April 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #363 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein.

Talked about on today’s show:
1951, the really annoying way Heinlein does things, Paul’s main Heinlein phase (in the late 1980s), when Paul was ten, Time Enough For Love, Expanded Universe, the basic parts of a Heinlein novel (in terms of characters), the Heinleinian triad, the young talented protagonist, the older wise crotchety man, and the red headed woman character, who The Man In The High Castle was, when Dick writes a novel…, when Heinlein writes a novel…, methamphetamine is 100% non-habit forming (?!), Jesse is uncomfortable with surety, Heinlein exudes surety from every pore of his body, orbital mechanics, what women want, Bruce Jenner’s gender switch, Heinlein’s politics, black people, women should be raised up in society, homophobia, Mary’s super-power is gaydar, homosexuality, asexuality, marriage, men and women are identical, “of course husband”, the alien is the husband, the structure, the final chapter, in case the mission to Titan fails, message in a bottle storytelling, first person perspective, surety undercuts it, has Dick ever written in first person?, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Hanging Stranger, identical paranoia, how much he hates the Soviets, Heinlein was rabidly anti-communist, in the commissar’s office, WorldCon, God help us all, he was right but…, imagine if this novel is a metaphor for communism, the Second Red Scare, Soviet and Chinese communism, WWWII, Manhattan crater and Washington crater, projecting brawn, getting tanks to North America, the evil of the puppet master aliens, orgies on TV is bad, also gladiatorial combat, they kill cats!, no effect on Soviet Russia, hygiene, scabies and lice, parasitism, cranked up to 13, Saddam Hussein, U.S. politics, if it were re-written today…, core fears, 24 was that, looking at the structure, avenging the cats and dogs, a master of the craft, Luke Burrage, that is good writing, so different from Philip K. Dick’s books, a straight line vs. how did I get here, all the sins that Time Enough For Love, naked people standing around in cushioned apartments talking about legal matters regarding the decanting of babies while a cat walks into the room, get passed the cat, Pirate the cat, casual nudity, Eric S. Rabkin, making it absolutely necessary that the society go nudist (and never go back), Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp, combs, even in Heinlein’s kids books, in their dome homes the heat is cranked up, was Heinlein a nudist?, Hollywood, downhill after The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I Will Fear No Evil, an old white guy living in the body of a young black woman, the US Navy, hate and love for the military, this weird guy from Missouri writes his consciousness into his books, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Friday, rape, when Heinlein talks about rape…, an artificial person, an inferiority complex, a fascinating society, the movie of The Puppet Masters, the fun stuff, the cat, the alien was kissing, being devoured by a woman, Eric Thal opens his mouth whenever possible, Sam, Mary, why does everyone hate this movie so much, Donald Sutherland, Keith David is always fun, unlike every X-Files this was competent, yeah look it’s a fake, the slugs are really smart, were they smart?, the sequence where Sam first gets a slug on his back is one of the best bits of Science Fiction, its almost as if he doesn’t know, more insidious and more scary, tying it all together, helicopter vs. skycar, Heinlein loves incest, they do juice you up, the addiction metaphor, had Dick developed it…, an Olympic athlete, what’s undercooked, who is in charge of their own minds, choices under some conditions but not under others, if we all had slugs on our backs…, getting married to Mary, love of a good woman ends addiction, black and white, Joe Cinidella is actually Italian until he becomes a Nazi, a flipped switch, turning on the waterworks, operating as a slug, Glory Road, set in fairlyand, Nebraska, all about the contract, an ambivalent relationship with marriage and law, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, alpha husbands and beta wives, primae noctis, you get into their psychology, really weird people, WWII and methamphetamines, go pills, tempus fugit, chasing the cat, is Heinlein challenging us?, Star Trek: Operation: Annihilate (aka Planet of the Pancakes), Maissa Bessada, resetting the show at the end of the episode, another point of Vulcan physiology, Kirk’s brother is named “Sam”, Mary is the vessel for world piece, Heinlein sued the makers of The Brain Eaters, Star Trek: The Next Generation, there’s no money until the Ferengi show up, Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy of the post scarcity economy, maybe women did act that way in the 1950s, a sequel in which Mary is saved from her marriage, 1980s tropes, sex scenes, Mission Impossible movies, developing out of taboos, the PG-13 effect, “they’re boffing, ok”, Alien, giant penis monster, Aliens, James Cameron’s problems with Harlan Ellison and The Terminator, The Outer Limits, The Brain Eaters, lifting things out of literary SF, Avatar is very good lifting, redoes the the first movie and the first, Luc Besson, The Professional, adding a baby doesn’t make things better, Ellen Ripley, the corporate military mission, Newt (from Aliens) is Mary (from The Puppet Masters), garbage bunk vs. good orbital mechanics, feral child, the structure is the same, spacesuit -> fighting suit, ejecting from the ship -> ejecting from the planet, a powerful story, Alien 3, Paul fulminates, the nine day fever (Venusian Jungle Fever), encephalitis, The Puppet Masters is a retelling of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, here’s how I would do it, H.G. Wells was a cynical asshole, monstrous, liars, jerks, and racists, our CIA operatives know what they’re doing, the NSA, “you just killed a guy for no reason”, it isn’t uncaring wisdom that save humanity it’s man’s ingenuity, root em out and kill em all, it’s the end of Starship Troopers, the Elves of Titan, Independence Day aliens, Welcome to Earth scene, Have Space Suit, Will Travel, Willy Wonka-style, a space alien cop (the Mother Thing), “who lives like that?”, if Heinlein had had a kid, the serial was slightly rewritten by Horace Gold, the unexpurgated version, 1980s movie style, a hook-up with an anonymous blonde from a bar, the trope for James Bond, Virginia Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, it is not better, weird names, Biblical names, Mary’s real name, Sam’s real name is Elihu, in the Book of Job, Elihu’s big speech

Elihu states that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity.

putting us on the right path, x is so bad that we have to put all our trust in…., our precious bodily fluids, if Heinlein were alive today…, Ray Bradbury, the NSA, anarchism, Mary’s backstory, the Whitmanites, an explicit mention of the Doukhobors, Heinlein just likes nudity, Heinlein likes his women to older or a lot younger, physically young but actually older, a young secretary with an old man’s brain, The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, lots of surgeries or whatever, shrugging it off, a different experience than back in the day, you must read ancient authors, for another podcast, you don’t know SFF if you don’t read…, shame at not reading The War Of The Worlds, can you find Heinlein books at new bookstores?, Alfred Bester is great but he wrote two books, genre defining or pioneering, well-written idea SF, almost no science, a bit of politics, marriage, you don’t know SFF if you havent read a Heinlein novel, a long discussion for another time.

The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
PAN Science Fiction - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #360 – READALONG: The Sign Of The Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

March 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #360 – Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa talk about The Sign Of The Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Talked about on today’s show:
1890, Oscar Wilde, Lipincott’s Magazine, a meeting at the Langham hotel August 30, 1889, The Picture Of Dorian Gray, a golden evening, years vs. six weeks, Doyle’s massive output, Wilde’s one novel, a whole new story, a Sherlock Holmes melting pot, Jeremy Brett adaptation, Mystery!, Masterpiece Theater, the 1983 cartoon, great visuals, the Sherlockiana, cocaine begins and ends the book, A Study In Scarlet, Watson is done already, black armbands, “an old adventure”, so Aspergery, Psychology Today, a patriotic obligation, the Andaman Islander, wrapped into a romance, 120 different kinds of tobacco ash?, worrying about details, movable wounds, misshapen heads, the Andaman Islands, they may not even have fire (technology), that’s still a thing, stone age, low on metal, Conan Doyle’s omnivorous interests, Joseph Bell, Jonathan Small has big willpower, a supervillain with a conscience, a sympathetic villain, blacks vs. whites, if Seth were here, we four should enter into a tontine, a recipe for murder, a group investment scheme, the strand with the romance, holding hands, Mary’s disdain for money makes her more attractive to Watson, the Agra treasure, the golden barrier, very chemical, significant looks, love is an emotional thing opposed to true cold reason, A Scandal In Bohemia, The Valley Of Fear, Sherlock Holmes vs. the Ku Klux Klan, the Mormon community, The Five Orange Pips, Philip K. Dick was reading histories of WWII, Doyle was reading the newspaper, a mystery romance, he’s overthinking it, go out and get Toby, the Baker St. irregulars, he does a chemical analysis, Sherlock Holmes tropes, deerstalkers, like wearing a hunting jacket in NYC, warm tweeds, Watson calls Holmes an “automaton”, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserkers, Cylons, the Borg, he forgets to kill all humans, Wings Out Of Shadow, the Red Baron, a deducing machine, allowing for expansion, the little nuggets allow participation in the experience, Agatha Christie, waiting for plot development to happen, two knights errant, Mr. Spock, Edgar Allan Poe’s C. August Dupin, consulting detectives, tales of ratiocination, The Purloined Letter, a government official who has lost a document, solves, Zadig by Voltaire, full blown Science Fiction, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Phileas Fogg is clock-like, he loves the fog, there is no hot-air balloon in Around The World In Eighty Days, The Seven-Percent Solution, a chase on the river Thames, Robert Downey, Jr., disabling spleens, hidden talents, an improvisational violinist, I am an excellent housekeeper, Professor Challenger, Otto Penzler, Neil Gaiman, The Big Book Of Sherlock Holmes, someone with vast interests, The White Company, off to look at The Lost World, dinosaurs, fairies, spiritualism, false-imprisonment, warships of the future, spaceships?, the conversations between Oscar Wilde and Conan Doyle, you seem great – come and talk to us, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: The Undiscovered County, one of Spock’s ancestors, Spock as a descendant of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The original Wrath Of Khan, Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities, Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, Genesis, the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, the war in India, horse, foot and gunners, blowing our own bugles, we’re still that stupid, the 1857 Sepoy rebellion, tallow and lard greased cartridges, the ultimate topper, repeating the cycle, the American Revolution, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin radicalized Thomas Paine, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, you have to reject monarchy, a petition to King George, Paine was right, BBC Radio 4: In Our Time, like a ministerial briefing, nobody looks at history, Doyle is dropping little comments in there, he’s super-anti-racist, rotten families, looking at it a little more cynically, taking-off the romantic blinders, super-human strength, murder, don’t call the police, corruption, ultimately underneath all of it is corruption all the way up and down, human nature, otherwise you have no story, notice Sherlock Holmes never gets paid?, he lays out money, this is why he needs a roommate, class, child labour laws, latch key kids, free-ranging kids, homeless kids, Seth we miss you, Maissa’s son, is Martin Freeman Hollywood’s choice to represent the British everyman?, homo-eroticism, Sherlock‘s entire focus is on the will-they or won’t-they?, Mary in Sherlock, derivative fiction, it is not an adaptation, Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings, stuffed up a chimney, Without A Clue, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine, John Watson: The Crime Doctor, The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes, Billy Wilder, homosexuality, a twinkle, Maissa’s local video store is still open!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #356 – READALONG: The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

February 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #356 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Demolished by Alfred Bester.

Talked about on today’s show:
1952, 1953, 1951, the serialization, a futuristic old book, purple and green with the big eye, The Stars My Destination, weird corporations, quasi-computer intelligences, Marissa didn’t love it, dated elements, 1950s women, really funny, the deleted prologue (is very confusing), damn amazing, so much in so many pages, it doesn’t baby you, many ideas per page, keeping track, not great as an audiobook, page play that can’t be seen in the audiobook, the narration is great, playful with typography, SMS style talk, the Amazon reviews, @ symbols in the ebook, Jerry Chuch, he’s an Esper 2, a textual clue to his nature, (lap)², the audiobook store, an illiterate society, paperbooks are extinct, a post-literate society, when you start listening to audiobooks…, shame for not reading textual books, reading aloud as entertainment, future societies, better as a paperbook on your first read, font size changes, the reader does a lot of the work, an amazing narration, dissension has begun, image of a laughing horse, more than one text version, the original serialization in Galaxy, the finished draft is the paperbook, changes between the text, Monarch vs. Sacrament, “enhanced books”, the esper world, the best adaptation of of The Demolished Man is Babylon 5, terrible and yet essential, the Alfred Bester episodes of Babylon 5, The Lord Of The Rings in space, it’s Dune, the Psi-Corp, “demolition”, the character of Alfred Bester, a dark Powell, deliciously played by Walter Koenig, evil, powerful, charismatic, on Spaceland, The Hunger Games, an unreal world, Sinclair, rogue telepaths, what does it mean if psi-powers were real, the breeding program, marriage, mundanes and telepaths, the coming war, his girlfriend is in the freezer, D’Courtney was a latent telepath, Ben Reich’s half sister, throat cancer, a psychic-scream, Powell and Reich (also in The Stars My Destination), Ben Reich = good money, Powell = power, Dishonest Abe (Lincoln Powell), Jerry Church (corrupted by the money), when telepaths make love, soooo Freudian, New York, sooo dated, demolishing the daughter, a sexy-father figure (super creepy), room for progression, who is Ben Reich’s heir?, who is D’courtney’s heir?, Powell now has all the power and all the money, he’s the bad guy (if you squint), the reconstruction happens in Star Trek episode (to Uhura), Nomad, we misread the code too, an inverted detective story, how-done-it, how-to-catch-’em, a locked room mystery, adapting it to TV, a Philip K. Dick-style mindfuck, a hugh solipsist section, artificial personalities, false memories, no stars in the sky, Star Trek: The Next Generation: Remember Me, going back to the womb, back to the beginning, explosion, concussion, the man with no face, suddenly blood is on him, very Lady Macbeth, a premonition of his future, he’s afraid of himself, The Prisoner‘s final episode, panettone, just 175 pages, the Hugo award, creepy stuff, the gilded corpse, ReDemolished, an essay by Bester on how novels are written, the book is dedicated to H.L. Gold (editor of Galaxy magazine), Astounding, Amazing, John W. Campbell, Jr., Scientology, ESP stuff, DARPA, remote viewing, one of Jesse’s profs, premonitions, Slan by A.E. van Vogt, power fantasy, “fans are slans”, the Minority Report thingy, no sense of the poor, in the Babylon 5 universe…, resentment of PSI, super-powerful, Babylon 5 is pretty amazing, The Best Of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, Julian May, tension, a caste system, psionic aliens, class struggles, Chooka Frood (the corrupt brothel-keeper), a role playing game character, ceramicly beautiful, a dream, a blind albino who plays gimpsters, “accident”, Duffy Wyg&,

Eight, sir; seven, sir;
Six, sir; five, sir;
Four, sir; three, sir;
Two, sir; one!
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tenser, said the Tensor.
Tension, apprehension,
And dissension have begun.

Doctor Who, The Master, Jo’s rhyme, Mary Had A Little Lamb…, jingles, Bester wrote radio dramas, strange observations, everybody is in the business, if you are at a psychic party…, a throwaway line about the old deaf mutes…, blackmail, no man is an island, “make your enemies on purpose”, he’s an awful man, William Edgars from Babylon 5, Donald Trump, how he earned his money, that embrace, their hugging, we are not ignorant but we aren’t fully party to Ben’s plans, eating candy, there was no bullet, an apache duster, the cover of Galaxy, “humans are weird”, compact death, if we are paying very close attention we should be noticing all the details that aren’t there, the missing bullet hole, the closer you read it the better it pays you, a million more themes, we go to Venus we go to Mars, written today it would be a 600 page doorstop that wouldn’t do half the stuff, “I liked dishonest Abe”, “absolutely scary”, “let’s foreground that”, “I might marry you I’m not really sure about that”, “punch me around”, Coming Attraction by Fritz Leiber, a parody of Mickey Spillane, The Man Who Japed, “he shot her in the groin”, there whole world is completely strange, New York, the future computer, typewriter hands and punch cards, glimpses into…, rushing towards demolition, Old Man Mose, “kittenish”, they’ve turned over parts of their society to…, horrible but compelling, damaged or mean or weird, the game of Sardine, Smee by A.M. Burrage, party games, who ends up alone?, everyone is together and naked, a bunch of adults playing naked hide-and-seek, parallels to the fake solipsistic world, “here’s how I did it”, the delusionary world, he finally had to face the man with no face, I couldn’t tell him the truth…, we were buying it the whole time!, skepticism, admissible evidence and objective proof, Powell looking at Ben, the mysterious parcel, it’s a present for you Ben, clumsy hands, we’re all of just nursemaids in this crazy world, Powell friend, “listen normals”, we see the truth that you cannot see, mind to mind and heart to heart, Powell was the villain the whole time, William Edgars virus, “solve the telepath problem once and for all”, something that Reich never does, a moment of self-awareness, he’s a monster but at least he feels bad about it, Garibaldi’s manipulation, revealing all on the train, Harlan Ellison, Powell is secretly evil, we’re distracted by Reich, Inception (2010), the horror lies, tragic despair, D’Courtney’s secret wish (he wanted to die), his son gave him what he wanted, on some level Ben Reich is a telepath, everything Powell says is a lie, the more you read it the better it is going to get, you need to go into analysis, unspool it, re-reading, one of the best audiobooks, Joe Dunlop, Isis Audiobooks, from 1989, still for sale as tapes, it totally worked with the story, a good sign of a good narration.

Signet Books - The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #345 – READALONG: Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

November 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #345 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Professor Eric S. Rabkin talk about the Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon.

Talked about on today’s show:
1937, Jesse has a radical thesis, is this book a true story?, I’m not really happy I just think that I am, Alice In Acidland, drugs, what do we mean by true?, arachnoids and ikthyoids, a summary of Last And First Men, the unnamed narrator, astral projection, the contents of this book, not history but a personal experience (of imagination), standing on a hill, an interesting fantasia, considering the size of the universe, Star Trek with Nazi costumes is possible and perhaps even inevitable, The Truman Show, the nature of infinity, an Italian who would be perfectly happy to use the word true about this book, “Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark.”, bitterness, Dante Alighieri, a lyric poem, Olaf Stapledon was a philosopher, a blazing panoply, an image of the rose, OS, “One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill.”, an abiding faith, the original meaning of comedy, comedies end in marriage, sitcoms, both narrators acknowledge their psychological state, an exponential rhythm, overhead obscurities in flight, a Doppler shift, the other Earth, Bvalltu, a composite character, planets – > solar systems -> galaxies, a fractal experience, an encompassing wisdom, marriage as a small atom of community, spirit inhabited rock, a World War I novel, 1986, Eric taught Star Maker to Bryan, memories imbricated upon each other, the preface, Stapledon was an ambulance driver in WWI, looming WWII, militarism, seeing the sunny side of a ruined planet, Merseyside, too smashed up to really be alive, a 1930s novel, fascism vs. communism, how to organize the self and society, a secular myth, a shock to civilization, the cycle of mechanization, terrible mutations, the onset of the tank, a sense of horror, WWI and WWII as two different episodes, the Spanish Civil War, shaking off colonialism, materialistic industrialization, the only wait out is an act of faith, how can we not think of the Star Maker as a monster, “struck dumb with shame”, limitations of the audio medium, Bryan’s keyboard, C.S. Lewis, why C.S. Lewis didn’t like Star Maker, a Lewis-nemesis, crusades, the Great War on Terror (2 decades old), mindless religious violence, anticipations of subsequent Science Fiction, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, two 20th century philosophies, Freud and Marx, neurosis and sublimation, genitals with sense organs, radio pornography, the feelies from Brave New World, crisis of labour, ideologies as philosophical artifacts, not Dave Singer, separated by space and time, supplementary parentheses, adduction of Christianity, three linked universes, playing for the souls of the creatures, a timeless heaven and a timeless hell, Earth, Mars, and Venus in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy, suffering for the redemption of the Earth, explicitly not a Christian view, C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy as a response to a paragraph in Star Maker, all the Christs of all the worlds, “a basket of Christs”, this is Arthur C. Clarke, a tour of Science Fiction in the future, this is The Mote In God’s Eye, The High Crusade, the novel itself is a universe, cosmos vs. universe, Jesse’s theory about the Game Of Thrones universe in the TV show, what Clarke does this in slight watercolours Stapledon paints in bold oils on a massive canvas, Arthur C. Clarke’s life changing moment, copying out the scales of magnitude, Bryan’s son, encapsulating, it is Stapledon, Dante is Dante in The Divine Comedy, The Divine Comedy as political revenge, Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, Stapledon is not a punishment guy, when Lovecraft looks out of the universe…, when Stapledon looks at the same vista he’s not as melancholy about it, The Cats Of Ulthar, contemporaries, philosophical horror, long distance psychology, like Poe, fairy tales, handling fears, we get to feel, this is an education effort, quite special, a genre issue, the roller-coaster moment, looking at the vocabulary, eldritch and ichor, lucidity, feeling, the etymology of the word “vermin”,

I reflected that not one of the visible features of this celestial and
living gem revealed the presence of man. Displayed before me, though
invisible, were some of the most congested centers of human population.
There below me lay huge industrial regions, blackening the air with
smoke. Yet all this thronging life and humanly momentous enterprise had
made no mark whatever on the features of the planet. From this high
look-out the Earth would have appeared no different before the dawn of
man. No visiting angel, or explorer from another planet, could have
guessed that this bland orb teemed with vermin, with world-mastering,
self-torturing, incipiently angelic beasts.

the stellar wars, too lucid for more tribal patterns, sympsychic partnership, angelic vermin, more real than all the stars, like two close trees grown together, difference can be strength, the Orson Welles radio version of The War Of The Worlds, versus the Martians our differences don’t make a hill’s worth of difference, The Lord Of The Rings, looking for the Ents and the Entwives, there are Ents in Star Maker, the holy sex transmission that never got off, the ships worlds,

It was a strange experience to enter the mind of an intelligent ship to
see the foam circling under one’s own nose as the vessel plunged through
the waves, to taste the bitter or delicious currents streaming past
one’s flanks, to feel the pressure of air on the sails as one beat up
against the breeze, to hear beneath the water-line the rush and murmur
of distant shoals of fishes, and indeed actually to hear the
sea-bottom’s configuration by means of the echoes that it cast up to the
under-water ears. It was strange and terrifying to be caught in a
hurricane, to feel the masts straining and the sails threatening to
split, while the hull was battered by the small but furious waves of
that massive planet. It was strange, too, to watch other great living
ships, as they plowed their way, heeled over, adjusted the set of their
yellow or russet sails to the wind’s variations; and very strange it was
to realize that these were not man-made objects but themselves conscious
and purposeful.

Sometimes we saw two of the living ships fighting, tearing at one
another’s sails with snake-like tentacles, stabbing at one another’s
soft “decks” with metal knives, or at a distance firing at one another
with cannon. Bewildering and delightful it was to feel in the presence
of a slim female clipper the longing for contact, and to carry out with
her on the high seas the tacking and yawing, the piratical pursuit and
overhauling, the delicate, fleeting caress of tentacles, which formed
the love-play of this race. Strange, to come up alongside, close-hauled,
grapple her to one’s flank, and board her with sexual invasion. It was
charming, too, to see a mother ship attended by her children. I should
mention, by the way, that at birth the young were launched from the
mother’s decks like little boats, one from the port side, one from the
starboard. Thenceforth they were suckled at her flanks. In play they
swam about her like ducklings, or spread their immature sails. In rough
weather and for long voyaging they were taken aboard. At the time of our
visit natural sails were beginning to be aided by a power unit and
propeller which were fixed to the stern.

nothing like this in Science Fiction, Lloyd Abbey’s The Last Whales, an elegiac book, another sub-genre of Kindle based pornography, much of William Wordsworth’s poetry is admired too simply, Eric reads Lines Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, the houses with windows like sleeping eyes, watching the lives of dreams, the houses are sleeping not the people within them, the smokeless air, lying still, what makes the beauty, The World Is Too Much With Us, a cry for God, Fungi From Yuggoth (IX): The Courtyard by H.P. Lovecraft:

It was the city I had known before;
The ancient, leprous town where mongrel throngs
Chant to strange gods, and beat unhallowed gongs
In crypts beneath foul alleys near the shore.
The rotting, fish-eyed houses leered at me
From where they leaned, drunk and half-animate,
As edging through the filth I passed the gate
To the black courtyard where the man would be.

The dark walls closed me in, and loud I cursed
That ever I had come to such a den,
When suddenly a score of windows burst
Into wild light, and swarmed with dancing men:
Mad, soundless revels of the dragging dead—
And not a corpse had either hands or head!

deemed unfit, body horror, Robert E. Howard, M.R. James, ever more capacious mentalities, being taught by groups, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Inner Light, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant as a horrible version of this, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, Boneland by Jeffrey Thomas, from a microscopic perspective, these things pass, bodyless timelords, a swarm of locusts, eugenics, Chapter 9, cultural and eugenical means, The King In Yellow (The Repairer Of Reputations) by Robert W. Chambers, the lethal chamber, Futurama, Providence, Alan Moore, criticism of Moore, turning everything Lovecraft hates into love, Last And First Men was a bestseller in 1930, the fifth generation, the Martian hive-mind, what is the moral ideal that Stapledon hopes that we move toward?, individuality in community, a literary allusion, a race on Venus, from epoch to epoch, that scaling thing again, the problem with fascism, fasces, is this a Darwinian book?, parasitism, symbiosis, evolution, Marx dedicated Capital to Darwin, getting rid of Harper, mutual aid, The World, the Flesh & the Devil by J.D. Bernal, astronomy, Peter Kropotkin (Mutual Aid: A Factor Of Evolution), mutual slaughter, profit in fraternization with the enemy, like Rod Serling The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, gentleness as a religion, the entangled bank (in Origin Of Species), functional stability arising out of local possibilities of violence, virtue in the creator is not the same of virtue in the creature, a third position, the sense experience of a star, in the center of this paragraph, free will and determinism are compatible, always bigger, a selfless star, the normal voluntary motor activity of a star, if you empty your ego and just feel others, perfect selflessness allows entrance into perfect community, getting your karma clean, dark matter, the science is pretty damn good, the key word is “lucid”, the vast emptiness enables the insight into the stars, rubies lay behind me, the sky’s familiar diamonds, all possible light, watch Steven Universe, ageless like Star Maker, the tag cloud, world and worlds, Oswald Spengler, growth -> change -> decay, the myth at the end, the course of empire paintings, The Decline Of The West, Arnold J. Toynbee, future histories, we could see if we were lucid, a great Götterdämmerung moment, the Russian civil war, The White Goddess, The Golden Bough, subsequent Science Fiction, for those who haven’t yet read the book…, the most disliked and most liked book, what kind of a novel is this?, an epic poem crossed with a lyric poem, erroneous expectations, feel better about your fishwife and your step children, back to Lovecraft, a writer of ideas, Odd John and Sirius are more like regular novels, Jack London’s Star Rover, more swords fewer wives, Frank Herbert, God Emperor Of Dune, when you frame it that way…, Accelerando by Charles Stross, full time IT professionals writing SF, Ted Chiang and Cory Doctorow, Ted Chiang can do anything, lapidary, Jorges Luis Borges wrote an introduction for Star Marker, A Story Between Jest and Earnest, Love and Discord.

Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #339 – READALONG: Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

October 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #339 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1960 novel, 1956 novella, the Goddreads reviews, Reddit, re-listening, very visual, John Mcclane at the end of Die Hard, conference room scenes, vague characters, awesome ideas, three Philip K. Dick stories that could have inspired The Terminator movies, no time travel, Doctor Futurity, Skynet, the drones (the hammers), UAV style drones vs. terminators, drone technology, there were drones in WWII, remote controlled bombers [ex. Operation Aphrodite], almost nothing “invented in SF” was actually invented in SF, infiltrators, Jesse has become a Terminator geek, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Screamers (adapted from Second Variety by Philip K. Dick), two battling computers, humans as pawns, both computers are in the same building!, proxies, the Internet is missing, Vulcan 3 is building the Internet, Skynet’s drones, Skynet doesn’t have central control, when Vulcan 3 is controlled, Vulcan 3 as a baby, creepy, at the periphery of the plot, the education sub-theme, a little red headed girl, being raised by a terminator, such a fanny show, the movies are recycling scene and catchphrases, at the school, a non-conformist school, Philip K. Dick’s kid is in school, regular school crushes creativity, meritocracy, nepotism, an unfinished thought, cronyism, technocratic government, getting through by hard work, was he an A.I. controlled by Vulcan 3, “hey the system works!”, sociological ideas, how un-Dickian this novel is, a relatively straightforward mystery, no weird obsessions (like with infidelity), the obligatory black haired girl, the president of the world comes into the world takes a little girl out of school and takes her home?, WTF?, the teacher’s okay with this?, the classroom, the concentration camp in Atlanta is a psychology camp, the conformist world in A Wrinkle In Time, Marissa learns Science Fiction, a planet of complete conformism, “you let them play an unstructured game?”, stifling of independent thought and creativity, why was the teacher killed?, reading Lolita, secretly reading forbidden books, is Philip K. Dick improving the books when he re-writes them (consensus is NO), two cults, a cult of reason and rationality, why is that rebellion group called the “Healers”, like alternative medicine, the worship of the computer, Greys, blue collars against the white collars, “we shouldn’t undervalue people just because their skills are in their hands and in their fingers”, vaxxers vs. the anti-vaxxers, back to Dr. Futurity, Vulcan 2 in the novella, piecing Vulcan 2 back together like a damaged hard-drive, the data is recovered aurally, listening to the broken thoughts of Vulcan 2, not just white noise in between the broken sentences, a groaning of ghosts, psychology, weird and interesting, absolutely NOT what anyone else does in Science Fiction, the Butlerian Jihad, because… Skynet, nobody says actually technology is really quite useful, 43% of the Earth’s resources?, the paragraph, maintaining the computer, the “lesser order of human needs”, some sort of metaphor 43 percent of calories go to the brain?, a biological parallel, making the decisions, making the policy, a subtle allusion to Plato, the greys the technician class are “guardians”, denying a brain data (big mistake), The Just City by Jo Walton, Athena sets up Plato’s Republic, automatons for physical labour, seeing the connections, The Republic, Socrates, like the old Atlanteans, the Gold the Silver and the Bronze (ditch diggers and truck drivers), the Silver (the police, functionaries, tax-collectors), the Gold (the enlightened, the philosophers), Vulcan 3 is the Gold, the T-class (experts and specialists), these books are all being suppressed (due to copyright), a pretty good title, Hammer shaped robots?, Vulcan (aka Hephaestus), the ancient Greeks and Romans, Hephaestus built a robot for Athena, the Greeks were really into automata, metal beings, the Talos of Crete, Vulcan as the wizard of metal, a Philip K. Dick conference lecture, when the Greeks thought of gods they thought of A.I. (sort of), these atoms over here have desires, intelligence in non-living things, a little bit under cooked, what about Vulcan 1?, or does it?, maybe Vulcan 1 is hiding, in a degenerate state, Deus Irae and The Last C., tactical nukes, a lot of weakness but it makes up for it, a bit of paranoia, that’s usually what causes the problem, self-preservation, when Saddam Hussein is threatened, the emotional computer, pleading only as a human could do, “We can come to an arrangement!”, shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a microcosmic version of Vulcan’s Hammer, several Star Trek episodes, The Ultimate Computer, Star Trek as a metaphor for American foreign policy, The Apple, they kill the computer that regulates their society, they killed the snake but…, vegetarians are now hunting, put some controls on this, as a metaphor for society, a rebellion against pain in the body, the mind as the government, living in a post-WWIII world, WarGames, the Russians had a battle computer called “The Dead Hand“, a dead-man’s trigger, WWIII was looming in 1956 and 1960, so good even though its not that good, Dick loves blue collar workers, Father Fields, making something out of the air-conditioner, a dropped thread, a completely weird metaphor, The Borderlands series, Scooter, a technopath, The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, “he fixed things”, a great tagline, “I don’t got Philip K. Dick for action”, living in a disposable society, everything is disposable, is there a TV-repair shop left in North America?, modern cars, only 5.5 hours, zoning out, cool predictions, the paranoid artificial intelligence, Sam Harris and Joe Rogan, caging an A.I., setting up honey-traps, Jesse thinks that’s not going to be the issue, Neuromancer all A.I.’s have digital shotguns strapped to their heads, “the smartest man in the world”, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, worries, better as a metaphor than as a prediction, we shouldn’t be unconcerned, Colossus: The Forbin Project, it isn’t 1s and 0s on a screen, seeing inside a burned diary, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, Mike the computer (aka Mycroft Homles), what’s missing from Vulcan’s 3‘s life is a friend, kids want to know, I think you guys are liars if…, kids are going to get into everything and that’s not a bad thing, more information is better, Vulcan 2’s decision, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, you are totally welcome to prosper if you are willing and able to play a certain kind of game, the push-back is caused by the masses rejecting stability, the adventurer class, “more concerned with gain than with stability”, the phrases: “life is cheap”, big gambles, the Netflix series Narcos, communist guerrillas living in the jungle, if you are living in a corrupt society you get a lot of gamblers, the striking opening scene, “can’t you get a better picture?”, they all wear the uniform of their class, another theme, destroying stability, going back to entropy, it is kind of Philip K. Dickian after-all, undercooked or maybe overcooked, the same with Time Pawn, this is my worst book, Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel of Demon Seed has a rapey robot computer, with the rewrite of Demon Seed Koontz has mellowed out, writing for the market, even after his death, Puttering About In A Small World by Philip K. Dick, everything’s always better with a robot wife.

Future Science Fiction No. 29 (1956). Cover Art by Frank Kelly Freas
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art

Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick - FRENCH

ACE - Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick

Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick - German

Posted by Jesse Willis

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