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

October 9, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

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

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

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

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

BOOKS ON TAPE - The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

July 10, 2017 by · 2 Comments
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Podcast

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

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #425 – READALONG: Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

June 12, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
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The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #425 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa, and Maissa talk about Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
1998, Arrival (2016), Ted Chiang has lost it!, you’ve pulled it off again, the vast sweep of history, the space of my life, Jesse doesn’t hold with modern writers (very much), savouring his stories, a technical writer, smart, wise, and young!, let’s sell out write away, he’s all ages at once, wisdom, his themes, Stories Of Your Life by Ted Chiang (the collection), too much chocolate, Tower Of Babylon, Liking What You See: A Documentary, style and tone, it’s right there in every sentence, when I talk about this on the podcast…, falling into place, in giant swaths, blocks, blocks of ash backwards and forwards, how memory works, changing memories by looking at them, heptapods, could they have done the movie any better?, a thoughtful science fiction story, more graspable, the rogue Chinese general, weirdly flowing hair, they’re doing it!, “oh gawd, Hollywood, what are you doing?”, which order is better?, movie first?, the future not the past, the clay figure, a breakdown, pieces building up, flashbacks, the house was so empty, past and future tense at the same time, movies do that all the time, less literary and more show, the movie-ish elements are not in the story, scale and stakes, Understand is a power, Flowers For Algernon, a meta-human super-mind, Hell Is The Absence Of God, a hilarious ending, too much dark chocolate is overwhelming, Seventy-Two Letters, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, The Life-Cycle Of Software Objects, he’s too wise, stories like bonsai trees, her first dream about her daughter’s death, where he puts everything, just the right spot, very Hollywood, so much more tragic, more mysterious, the writers sitting around…, the lady has to be younger because…, we’re going to give a 45 woman a movie?, how would they film that?, and how’s she gonna die?, incurable disease, nothing the mom could say or do could save the daughter, thinking about what the audience is thinking, outrage!, she seems to have more choice in the movie, an action sequence, she saves the world, the floating hair sequence, it doesn’t work as a memory, timey-wimey, a propagating wave of memory, it doesn’t work within the logic of the book, in trying to make it easy to the audience they’ve broken the logic of the story…, too dumb to understand, more rewarding and more hollow, is this a Science Fiction classic?, not at all, total brilliance, the whole movie in that sentence, my favourite second, our bar for science fiction movies is quite low, it’s legitimately science fiction, playing it up, fiddled with the aliens, a visual treat, a blockbuster, against the grain of the short story, the kangaroo, everything in my life points toward the fiction we’re going to discuss, Cognitive scientist explains why perceiving a false reality is beneficial, the duck that’s also a rabbit, the duck-rabbit’s direction, a complex reality we don’t need to know, whatever reality might be, the tiger would eat you, why do people have babies, “wanna make a baby?!, my kid’s gonna die, absolutely!”, all babies die, fearful of death, always looking at that end point, thinking about death is comforting, everybody does know the future, Robert J. Sawyer, any time now!, death is absolutely inevitable, outliving your friends and family, fragile and tiny, why daddy looks at me strangely now, Jean Paul Sartre, everybody lives forever, your forever has happened, that was your forever, giving it the forever life, the death of a child vs. the death of a 99 year old person, her “accident”, why the name change from Flapper and Raspberry to Abbot and Costello, the audience wouldn’t buy it, it’s very movie, Sam and Diane, definitely its, a thematic pair, classic comedy, highly neat, a weird theory, in the context of the movie logic, memories with the daughter, pointing at the problem of the movie, there’s no deciding!, it’s everywhere, talking for the sake of ritual, actors performing the lines, you have to read it on the page to grasp it in the theatre, seeing Shakespeare performed, to see an actualization of your experience, a positive story (a horror), not testing them limits, delivering their lines well, he’s improvising, I need a bowl like this (in order to hit my daughter in the head with it), choosing not to learn it <-this doesn't make sense - does it?, it's the written language, most people don't read, language ability, would you?, going to psychics, no one would go because they know it's bullshit (deep down), those who've read the book of ages never admit to it, conversations about certain topics because they're not read for it, good old days of forums, yelling against the wind, work it out themselves, a lesson from getting things right, you don't want to waste time, Fermat's most efficient system, you wanna be that way soon, computer games, no unlimited quarters, taking the ferry, the Sunshine Coast (British Columbia), riding the Queen Of Nanaimo, my Tron story, a clone of Defender, a side-scroller, demo mode, “insert coin”, a weird phenomena, at what point did I lose control?, computer games, Battlefield 4, the same kind of frustration, when you’re in the “zone” where time flows differently, your brain chemicals are elevated, it’s like I’m on drugs, where frustration comes from, why the ancient Greeks are all about fate, errors are going to creep in, in a certain sense it’s all scripted, dealing with this theme more explicitly, the one with the button, what to make of all of this?, a creepier sense of this poor woman, what a horrible existence, I cherish every moment, it’s only when things don’t going according to my script, even better!, only a lack of knowledge is upsetting, however we’re supposed to perceive it, it doesn’t make her upset, euphoric in the flow state, a logic defeated by the film, there’s no drama like that in the story, our realization of what Ted Chiange has done with that two hours of text, very Borgesian, a science fiction writer’s version of Borges, the text fixed, all the contents are immutable and yet we continue reading it, Big Trouble In Little China, Galaxy Quest, knowing the end doesn’t distract from the movie, is there a word for a fear of predictability?, do things unexpectedly all the time please, such a horror, he’s also Lovecraft, barrel shaped, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Shadow Out Of Time, an experience that the narrator can’t do anything time, if Lovecraft could ever write about a mom…, a professor who has a strange experience with an otherworldly creature, unavailability and a horror, a slow build up of tension, the whole bomb sequence, the alt-right talk show Alex Jones character, the latest series of Homeland, is in the death process, they knew it was coming, the spray (of shit?) all over the screen, their writing reflects their perception of reality, their speech doesn’t reflect their perception, from the end of the Mist, that’s just how we perceive it,they don’t really look like that, big pieces of silica, 12 vs. 112, why only 12?, this is a math problem, only one pair of aliens in all of those looking glasses, time fracture, all-time/no-time, there might only be one alien, when you’re perceiving things differently, why did the aliens come to visit?, we need reasons when we walk out of the movie theater, the 3,000 years thing, at the moment I was satisfied, Fermat and the light, for teleological reasons, knowing where it’s going and where it’s been all at the same time, we think of cause and effect, the universe is a book that can be read a couple of different ways, in a story vs. in a movie, we’re so conditioned, getting mad at the movie, are they just scientists?, the Strugatsky brothers, Roadside Picnic, animals, we are come and creepy like that, animals are almost never interested in having conversations,

The universe was a language with a perfectly ambiguous grammar. Every physical event was an utterance that could be parsed in two entirely different ways, one causal and the other teleological.

the rabbit is ready to eat, the rabbit is ready? hungry rabbits vs. hungry people, time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, fruit doesn’t fly, fruit stays still – like bananas, free as in software not as like free as in beer, FREE BEER!, free software is infinitely copyable, grammar allows for multiple meanings too, parallels with Contact (1997), a little bit like an homage, complete with the religious nuts, a cult, Heaven’s Gate, a nice metaphor for our current times, what the State Department is going to think, a clown show, nothing they do matters, clearly filmed before the Trump presidency, could you film it now?, somehow Trump makes it more realistic, who would do that?, a big tantrum, stop talking to them bigly, the score and cinematography, the same director and composer, I’ve seen the future don’t be so excited, moderate your expectations, dreaming about hectopod unlocking future memories, seeing snatches of the future, it rewired Paul’s brain, really affecting stories, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, TED Talks, a TED Talk talking point, linguistic relativity, stories are what come out of language, stories that resonate, when she’s reading Goldilocks to her daughter, you’re not telling it right, threefold magic, that’s all you need to know, always the same reaction and always a different reaction, the three chairs, the bowls, the three beds, somebody’s been sitting in my chair, somebody’s been eating my porridge, somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and there she is!, being able to retell, this is how Homer’s stories are designed, rosy fingered dawn, memory cues, hhmms and hawws, the epithets, tools and tricks evolved naturally out of us, Maissa enjoying Galaxy Quest again and again, Seth McFarlane’s The Orville, a whole series?, In The Mountains Of Madness by W. Scott Poole, I Am Providence by Nick Mamatass, the subgenre, Murder At The ABA by Isaac Asimov, mysteries set at mystery or science fiction conventions, authors writing what they know, Winter’s Tide, Lovecraft Country, Goodreads.com is good for satisfying hate-ons, here’s my position: I’m better than you, you with your Lovecraftian tentacle shirt…, the opposite of Ted Chiang, some sort of ethos or ethical system, there’s not just going with it and seeing how it goes, he has something to say, crafted not rushed, awards are wrong on the grand scheme, Parsec and Nebula awards, if you’re aiming in that direction…, moving through the universe and collecting awards by accident, Hidden Figures (2016), why are they stopped there?, whatever…, should I call a tow truck?, “no, I’ll just bypass the starter?!!?!?”, what the fuck are you talking about?!!?!?, smart women engineers, you can’t bypass starters, IBM, come on!, now you’ve ruined it Jesse, the only reason that exists, they ruined it, they need the sequence, a movie supposedly about science and engineering and then they focus on what makes it actually interesting, an establishing character moment, their so smart they can do magic, for trailer moments, Kevin Costner smashing the bathroom sign, I want to be manipulated, Da Vinci’s Demons, an amazonian parrot in the time of Da Vinci?, we could use african greys, perfectionists and people who don’t care, every word is perfectly placed, he’s clear, every word is carefully place, actually it’s him doing Borges, a much finer point, brains and minds, Exhalation, you can’t use your mind to look at your own mind, doing experimental surgery on his own head using a mirror, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, this is a master at work, everybody in there, he’s a wonder.

TANTOR MEDIA - Stories Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Arrival by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #410 – READALONG: Protector by Larry Niven

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #410 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Protector by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
1973, Galaxy, June 1967, The Adults by Larry Niven, Phssthpok, the name of the ship, the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Human, and Eagle, baby angels, beaked, going deeper, the seraphim, Cherubism

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

the end

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

how the aliens are described, aliens, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, previous encounters with Larry Niven, channeling all sorts of things, what did Maissa think?, a softer spot for Larry Niven, not sexist at all, Larry Niven’s best book, an abrupt ending, incomplete pieces, more Kobold, the artificial planetoid, Eden II, the first paperback release of Protector, a donut shaped planet with a tibit (Tim Horton’s), the belly button of the donut, donut holes, a monster or a fairy, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, by all the Lords of Kobol, clicks, Battlestar Galactica, going Old Testament, going Mormon, a masterful novel, The Ringworld Engineers as a reprise of Protector, Ringworld as the light fun novel, the ending is so good, the horror, genocide, fighting for humanity, Roy Truesdale, tricking the nurses, fake cities, WWII, inflatable tanks, a page break, it seems only reasonable to novelize this report, that was fun, check the duplicate Stonehenge, the final three paragraphs, just behind this laser pulse, “I love you”, the novel is wrong, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, Betrayer Of Worlds, Protector has enough space battle to kill actual space battle novel (barring crappy space opera space battles), space seeds, biological bullshit, a highly motivated character, deeply reasoned, a quasi relative, the opposite of X-Wings and Tie fighters banking in outer space, we love it anyway, exactly the opposite, cool vs. functional, steel jacketed, magnetic field, the thinking behind the space battles wipes out everyone (writer’s) abilities to write any more, a galactic chess game vs. high-stakes poker, sub-light relativistic space battles, positional effects, Rules Of Engagement (or maybe Master of Orion ?, C.S. Forester, broadsides in space, a Frederick Pohl editorial from 1963, Spacewar! (literally mentioned in this book), Asteroids, a right turn in space, that’s why Larry Niven’s the best, playing with the laws of physics and he doesn’t cheat, the Hal Clement essay, honest poker, the panspermia aspect, World Of Ptavvs, the slavers, Homo habilis from the stars, dna based, the Slavers did it, the Sea Statue, a dissertation of free will, two divergent visions of Creation, when god stays or leaves, no progress, still animals, the image of the Eye and the Garden of Eden, the Eye In The Sky, I can see you – I can see through bushes, no art, Brennan can see, a sense of whimsy, a fun character, was Brennan a fake?, Truesdale’s protector, motivation, take me to you leader, so playful, he is their leader, amazing, paying fees, Oldavai, Crete, still in the breeding stage, a good book, bunches of questions and points, building the Ringworld, a different library, an expedition to Earth, an expedition to star X, their achilles’ heel, Ringworld Engineers is all echoes, we needed this book, Alice as in Alice In Wonderland, she left pregnant, play in the fields, but do not touch…, tell her about the Bluebeard myth (aka The Castle Of Murder), an egg, a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg, you do not want to open that door, you do not want to eat of those Trees, the solution to the mystery of the novel, everyone has been kidnapped is a descendant of Brennan, farming and cultivating descendants, Brennan monster is playful in his play, Vandervecken, making a myth he can enjoy, consciousness before being changed, the vampires get consciousness in Ringworld Engineers, does it help you to have whimsy, the jury is out, a message of despair, the Pak is coming, the Kzinti, The Mote In God’s Eye, hard lessons, genocide, moties, motivation by need, Brennan painting his spacesuit, biding his time, a medieval castle, progeny, deep down the point is art is good, if you’re smart enough there is very little free choice, Teela Brown’s luck, the same subject, the root is perpetuated by a virus, colonizing the pak, what is smartness except efficiency, crossing a continent, struggling with money, why do people want it, what is money anyway?, money is food, keeping your food safe with food, why does Trump need more money, operating as a logical creature it is to make his progeny better off, it worked for Genghis, inheritance, straight out the genes, what motivates people, biological determinism, everyone needs motivation, stop eating, grasping after fake visions of punishment (or reward), a “death wish”, like Phssthpok I’ve made all human children my beneficiaries, the Public Domain PDF Page, a hip street, channeling Frank Sinatra, taking photographs, not sanguine, Larry Niven’s own financial circumstances, writing SF for a long period of time, Greg Bear, Halo novels, Blood Music don’t put money on the table, Niven’s work is playful, the reason for Niven’s renown, making the piece the best piece it can be, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, collaborations, there are no spoilers,

Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…
-Dirk Grobbelaar

Among Others by Jo Walton, all his human characters blur together, Walton has a point, psychoanalyzing, SF isn’t a costume drama, John W. Campbell’s challenge: write me an alien that thinks as well as a man but unlike a man, Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves, Arrival, the story and the movie, Understand by Ted Chiang, Limitless (2011), and the rightly cancelled Limitless TV series, like the Minority Report TV show, from the sub-conscious to uplift and unconscious and conscious, Flowers For Algernon, flourishing and protected, seeing the manipulation happening, Sherlock Holmes, seeing the pattern no one else can see, intelligence, politics and the failures of politics, intelligence vs. manipulation, a smart person doesn’t gamble unless they know it isn’t a gamble, a war longer than the quagmire of the Vietnam War, all of that struggle, that’s the opposite of intelligence, Niven is right about intelligence and options, Brennan is not as bound, the golf course, did Brennan ever play the golf course that he built?, this would be good, having thought those through, how we see Brenna when he interacts with his Adam and Eve, he runs, the next thing that needs to be done, the efficiency we gain as adults, pretending to play dolls, the exigencies of adulthood, being a smart adult, I put away childish things, playing with LEGO, an angle to attack, LEGO as a awards, appreciating the enjoyment of play, having consciousness of his childhood, creations for a purpose, sharing vs. hoarding, pondering deep things, the mother vs. the father, Brennan’s modified suit with the Mother and Child, a savior figure, he’s the Madonna, their garden, playthings for the children, the Sol system is Brennan’s garden, have you noticed you haven’t had war?, exterminating the Martians, The Organleggers, capital crimes, China, the horror of rationality, organ transplantation, the RNA sequence, wiping your whole mind, the premise of Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck, Rammer by Larry Niven, A World Out Of Time, greater than human intelligence, we were manipulated into it, The Draco Tavern, playful comedic pieces, here’s a problem of science and here’s my solution, jokes, a whole subgenre of bar stories, The Callahan books by Spider Robinson, Lord Dunsany’s The Jorkens Stories, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, chirality, thalidomide, an iceberg, Known Space, just one of Niven’s playgrounds, Hard Fantasy, The Magic Goes Away, as you use magic you deplete a natural resource, magic carpet, a dead spot, and back in these days amoeba were the size of whales, that’s how little magic is left, a Niven disc, a sense of sadness, set in the time of Atlantis, The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak, Niven as an efficient writer, jarring transitions, needing an editor, better than Clement, sex, a vitality, the weather is a little to clement in Clement’s world, Harry Stubbs, revisiting Protector, given Tree Of Life now Paul would… stop eating? wiping out half of humanity for reasons known only to him… in the New World Order, remaining human, being a mom, maternal feelings, a screaming red thing that came out of your body, are Protectors more like moms than dads?, genderless, oh sweetie, killing off all the creatures that threaten her children, warlike, a mother wouldn’t do that, is Niven right?, if you’re smart enough are their fewer and fewer courses of action?, the Teela monster, pretty sure Niven was never a mom, fierce viking grandparents, no free will, different motivation and different results, why does Brennan wait to convert Truesdale, poor Brennan, too much talking baby-talk, gender as an honorific, Protector Mom (please don’t write this as a sequel), something really original, a creation so original it is like a dragon or an elf, seeing the cat vs. monkey you’ve always wanted, the super-strong hominid vs. the intelligent tiger, Speaker vs. Teela, as Douglas Adams put it “Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.”, we got our own stuff going, the Traveller universe, most excellent.

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Ballantine Books (1973) Protector by Larry Niven

Protector by Larry Niven - illustration by H.R. Von Dongen

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 #276 – READALONG: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

August 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastDowncastThe SFFaudio Podcast #276 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Fred discuss Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway.

Today’s podcast is sponsored by Downcast, a terrific podcast app for iPhone and iPad.

Talked about on today’s show:
Fredösphere’s (Fred Heimbaugh’s) choice, the Ann Arbour Science Fiction And Fantasy Literary Discussion Group (founded by Eric S. Rabkin), the audiobook, the confusing and scatter first half of the book, the audio version, Daniel Wayman is one of the best narrator’s Fred’s ever heard, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick (read by Paul Giamati), some books are better as audiobooks and some are better as textual books, Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Tony C. Smith, StarShipSofa, the glossary takes 30 minutes, Angelmaker is 18 hours, you have to pay close attention, do you listen to podcasts?, our SPONSOR: Downcast, the new iOS, Apple’s Podcasts App sucks, Downcast allows you to ultra-customize your podcast feeds, Levelator, volume booster for podcasts are too quiet, Protecting Project Pulp, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History and Common Sense, noisy environments, the Downcast app is $3, updating feeds on the go, a podcast queue, if it isn’t in the iTunes store …, your custom HuffDuffer feed works great with Downcast, the SFSignal Three Hoarsemen Podcast, Tamahome uses Downcast, back to our regular programing, Jesse has no opinion about Angelmaker, this is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere by somebody else, the Neverwhere BBC TV adaptation, Nick Harkaway’s writing voice and actual voice are similar to Neil Gaiman’s, a completely undisciplined novel, a meandering through-line, the prose was “too plummy”, an editor with a strong whip-hand, Harkaway is enamored with great ideas, Goodreads has angry and bitter four and five star reviews for Angelmaker, unfinished novels don’t often get reviewed, books take a lot of time, why is it present third person every day tense?, breezy and informal sixteen-hour shaggy dog story, really really good writing, Ted Chiang, just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s good, Tam is surprised, history and science, Neil Gaiman’s wild son?, talking about interesting things in interesting ways with interested characters, sexually aggressive women, a pulp fiction novel, Fred lays out the plot, Joe Spork, Matthew “Tommy-Gun” Spork, the grandfather, clockwork bees, a doomsday device, a female James Bond, the evil Asian mastermind, absurdly competent, Remo Williams, the Opium Khan aka Shem Shem Tsien, a brilliant French scientist (a Hakote), the “Apprehension Engine”, fundamentally transform human consciousness, waves, “step one: steal underpants”, instantly intuit the truth of reality, Nick Harkaway is interested in interesting things, the throwaway ideas, Project Habakkuk, a WWII project in a WWII setting, an aircraft carrier built out of ice, the u-boat service, cool and interesting, the frozen submarine and the frozen air-craft carrier, if Jesse wrote fiction…, a submarine and an elephant in the same sentence, this book has dream-logic, Harkaway wanted the submarine encased in ice and didn’t care if it was implausible (a rumour), torture, sex, a Saint-Crispin’s speech, an adventure book, humour?, funny?, a romp?, silly?, allusions, The Gone-Away World, Tigerman, steam-punk, clock-punk, the etymology of the word “punk”, coming from the street, about the visual, about the body, Neuromancer, looking and acting like a punk, steampunk is about dressing up, form and colour over function, Hayao Miyazaki, an obsession with body parts, an obsession with torture, “fingers getting cut-off”, one of the Goodreads reviews, the toe obsession, Polly’s sexy and knowledgeable toe, this book is a thousand Chekhov’s guns, the toothless dog, the Snowy of this novel, Tin Tin, Tam should read Tin Tin, Angelmaker would be a really good HBO show, the names, Spork, Friend, Cradle, realism is not being strived for, a word cloud for Angelmaker, what words are being used, over description, the main character looks at himself in a mirror, not a mirror but polished brass, very clever Nick Harkaway, René Descartes, a steam-punk pulp adventure spy thriller, Robert E. Howard’s muscular description of colour, Howard wrote short, a serious issue, very interesting and difficult reading, the tense, Nick Harkaway is Neal Stephenson by way of P.G. Wodehouse, people drowning in a world of epic fantasy, Grimm’s Fairy Tales characters are puppets, over-description, Joshua Joseph Spork embraces his gansterhood, Luke Burrage’s complaint about American Gods, the character arc, false or indulgent, decapitating the evil mastermind, the Thompson sub-machine gun, aggressively turning off a large portion of one’s brain, Ada Lovelace, trains are cool, cheap complaints, an unplugged wild adventure book, Blood Music by Greg Bear (short story and novels), what is he trying to say here?, science fiction writers, Eon, The Wind From A Burning Woman is an amazing author collection, despite the caveats, the “grey goo problem” and the nature of consciousness, is it the case we are not seeing the world directly?, medium sized objects, trucks and trees, Jesse found it very frustrating, the movie people, a comic booky plot, animation?, John le Carré, paging Dr. Freud, no editors, do editors even exist any more, Marissa Vu works for the author, enjoy a ride and live in a world and drown in an environment, the reader makes an investment in the world building, Darkon (2006), LARPing (live action role playing), Cory Doctorow, Jim Butcher, regular people, Elidor and Aquilonia, more fun to play than to watch, Dungeons & Dragons, more word-play and less shield-taping, escaping from a horrible day job, Thomas Jefferson’s idea for state-names, Fred’s novel, “you’re not like most people you read books”, to each there own, make it shorter and better, a unit of Jesse (7 hours), Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott, the modern medieval romance, Game Of Thrones, why Fred fully forgives Angelmaker‘s failings, scenes that don’t just advance the plot, when Jesse wrote fiction it was terrible, being blind to your own faults, self-blindness, the four boxes, incompetent but self-aware, the inevitable decline, Elmore Leonard, Rum Punch, Stephen King, William Gibson, Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan, early success, an overflowing fountains of ideas, Tam and Jesse were obsessed, enormous fun, Jesse doesn’t read books for fun but rather for edification, Mike Resnick, instinctual writers, Dean Koontz, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, writing the same novel over and over again, Neil Gaiman is a discovery writer, sprinkling plot points, Jesse shouldn’t try writing, Jesse’s curation #PUBLICDOMAIN fiction, The Wonderful Window by Lord Dunsany is basically a guy watching Game Of Thrones, like everybody else on Goodreads “this is the worst five star book I’ve ever read”, needs taming, layering done well, The Graveyard Book is a retelling of The Jungle Book, this novel should have spent a few days in the dungeon, rallying the underworld, Angelmaker would make a great Broadway musical.

Word Cloud for Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Posted by Jesse Willis

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