The SFFaudio Podcast #387 – READALONG: Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein

September 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #387 – Jesse, Paul, and Julie Davis talk about Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein.

Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding Science Fiction, February, March, April 1956, Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini, making connections, good job, 100% first person, mistaken shallow perception -> deeper understanding, The Prince And The Pauper by Mark Twain, The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope, the LibriVox audiobook levelated and made beautiful, humour, light, twitter conversation “bland” vs. “light”, bubbles along, swashbuckler, Heinlein is that you?, this is a book about politics, here are all the political systems, making fun of Heinlein is very easy, bullheaded, popular quotes, one character sitting in a room and another character walks in and says “no”, refusing, listen to me young man I am the old man and I know best, Heinlein’s negotiation tactic is brinkmanship, it’s not your turn, more about politics and racism and perception (than SF), I think my father would be proud that my life is a work of art, from Lorenzo Smythe’s POV, a failed actor, not a loser, penniless, working as a stripper, the illustrations from the serialization, this is not in the book, non-info-dump info-dumps, Coriolis vs. Coriolanus, narrator Lloyd James, in the voice of Bonforte, a better person or politician than Bonforte, remember Bill, a bunch of people talking on a spaceship, not a juvenile, Hitler, Satan, assuming the attributes of divinity, a politically astute novel, Heinlein’s earlier jobs, owning a silver mine, running for political office, being in the room, libertarian, California state assembly 1948, no prizes for second place in politics, an British parliamentary system, William King Of The Dutch and Emperor of The Earth, Queen Elizabeth II (former Empress), head of state vs. head of government, when you go to visit Lincoln, Lincoln is a God in the temple, larger than life, a Greek temple, The Simpsons, political corruption, the Jefferson memorial, you went to Lincoln first!, understanding why the book is resonant, the emperor of Known Space likes playing with trains, meeting the Queen, no statue for John Major, 100 units in pocket, politics as a team sport vs. saviors, taking care of the day-to-day crap, Primary Colors (1998), John Hightower, I take that on so you can get something done, taking on the mantle of the President, there’s no special charm to Prime Ministers (usually), confidence votes, the show must go on, “always take sides”, the “poltroons”, a second look, the title, human = martian, equality for all, doubling, Lorenzo Smythe = Lawrence Smith, an instinctual hate of the aliens, squiggly arms, hating aliens is racism, the aliens are just Texans, the life wand, induction into the Martian clan, introduction at William’s court, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin’s lecture on Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, the TV Tropes entry on Double Star, orange morality and blue morality, wise man and straw man, showing up late, a cycle humans keep falling into, a 1970 Double Star cover, a modern art prize (2000 Turner Prize) controversy, Stuckists and Sad Puppies, scale matters (?), Marcel Duchamp, “artist”, Fountain, ponies?, movements for and against, Paul’s biased POV, taking umbrage, Rabid Puppies, SF is overrun with leftists (?), “no award”, like every awards thing, TOR Books, inclusionary authors, Larry Correia’s books, U.S. elections, trying to destroy the system, SJW = social justice warrior, what’s fundamentally interesting about Double Star is that we’re in on a massive fraud to subvert democracy, Humans First, for Jefferson’s sake, takes the facts the same story from the other side: a response book, I don’t want people walking around with open carry for their “life wands”, no guns allowed signs in Texas churches, The Good Wife, the Hillary Clinton – Bill Clinton story, telling lies in public, seeing politics from up close and personal, The West Wing, Dave (1993), a little humour there, “sick”, the wife, a little bit inverted, interesting parallels, taking the role and making it better, he’s better at Bonforte than Bonforte was, to be an actor you have to be every man, I’d like Jack the Ripper, an unreliable narrator, the theatrical way he describes himself, he thinks it’s all true, hyperbolized in some ways, acting with a burst appendix, biology can be conquered by will, ripping off the novel/plot, Moon Over Parador (1988), The Magnificent Fraud (1939), we are rooting for the hero, who is ripping off who?, it depends on what you do with it, To Be Or Not To Be (1942), To Be Or Not To Be (1983), the new Ben Hur, going by Hugos or awards or contests, Connie Willis, the Oscars, Guardians Of The Galaxy, two CG characters and it doesn’t suck?, being burned by award winners, Theeb, a disillusioning moment, boycotting and protesting, N. K. Jemisin, a Heinlein letter, race relations, the lucky ones were the ones that were enslaved, the inciting incident, Heinlein was the most liberal of SF writers, more left than Wells, a Missouri dude who was always into pushing fellow humans, “huh, he’s Filipino”, “he’s not even American!”, Heinlein’s always pushing talking heads that turn out to be diverse, Farnham’s Freehold, time travel, Blacks have taken over the world, castrating the son, cannibals, a less PC version of Planet Of The Apes, the Pierre Boulle book is a comedy (satire), Pierre Boulle, the ending of the Planet Of The Apes is a comedy, sexism, Charlton Heston in the Civil Rights movement, for both martians and men, making peace amongst all, here’s my problem, get in the system, The Fifth Season, where’s the idea?, where’s the idea?, Cory Doctorow does Heinlein in Little Brother, paint by numbers, Robert J. Sawyer, that shows the diversity you find in Toronto, the magic system is based on the manipulation of earth (geological) forces, it’s anti-racist, it’s important to be seeing doing it, more Bonforte than Bonforte, more Heinlein than Heinlein, the one female character, Heinlein doesn’t understand women, criticizing Dickens, he’s terrible at writing other humans, his villains are stick-figures, the old man, the young looking older woman, and the young narrator who has to be taught, transcending limitations, he’s bad at women who aren’t from the 1940s, violence towards women was an everyday thing, assault with violence, not that I laid a finger on her, proper and sensible hitting, the way people talked back then, from the wife-beating 1950s, acting like this guy, no no no no no, totally unrealistic, a six hour book, SFFworld.com, Double Star was written in three weeks, creep in.

Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas
Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein - illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #299 – READALONG: Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

January 12, 2015 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #299 – Jesse and Julie Davis talk about Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Talked about on today’s show:
North ANGER! Abbey, this is a comedy, parody and meta-gothic novel, The Mysteries Of Udolpho, an inversion, Jane Austen is hilarious, The Jane Austen Book Club (the movie), documentaries, “its very meta”, her first (and almost) last novel, the advertizement from the authoress, fashions of literature and clothing, Tilney and Thorpe, the price of everything, a braggart, going afoul, a terrible sketch,
A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, And the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz, don’t just believe what everybody teaches you, desperate characters, Pride And Prejudice, letting you think, going along, women are supposed to be passive, a woman’s only right is to refuse, railroaded by stronger personalities, “…born to be an heroine”, a mundane life, Catherine is living her life in the third person as a Gothic romance heroine, 1,000 alarming presentiments, romance subverted, The Mysteries Of Udolpho as a less realistic and hyped up version of Northanger Abbey, the labyrinth is society not Mrs. Radcliffe’s Apennines, Emma, Mrs. Allen, it’s just not done, Isabelle’s master list of Gothic Novels, “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for someone who isn’t my friend”, an open conversation, “I wish we knew someone here”, she’s 15, true to human nature, the arch narrator, hands and heads in the proper number to go around for all the children, Frederick, I’ve broken with my father, just like in a Gothic novel, the (BBC) audio drama of The Mysteries Of Udolpho, “you should really try Ursula K. Le Guin”, absolutely horrid!, the black wardrobe!, a character sketch (illustrated below), “She seized, with an unsteady hand, the precious manuscript, for half a glance sufficed to ascertain written characters; and while she acknowledged with awful sensations…”, a washing bill!, Eleanor, everything is explained, the volumes, a rushed ending?, the mysterious messenger, Henry’s true character, reining in your own imagination, Washington Irving’s The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, he’s spooking himself, the description of the birds, the slaves, New York, giving facts and making comments, we are doing a lot of the colouring, the one thing we know about readers is that they read, the reading process, the black veil <-is from The Mysteries Of Udolpho, The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a very funny (as in curious) story, Castle Of Otranto by Horace Walpole, supernatural elements, the refinements, the timelessness, Phyllis Whitney, Mrs. Radcliffe, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, what went wrong?, The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, The Devil To Pay, Sir Walter Scott, H.P. Lovecraft, Georgette Heyer, Northanger Abbey as a modern novel by Val McDermid, a YA novel, Fahrenheit 451, serving as a feeder, everybody is reading these trashy novels, an impassioned defense of the novel, you can’t live your life as if it was a novel, two movie adaptions, the 2007 ITV production, plot shorthand, Lord Byron, something terrible coming out of London, two tombstones and a lantern on the frontispiece, all of Jane Austen’s books have soldiers in them, a timeless focus on the people, when Julie met Jenny, these are characters not plots, sitting at the piano, The Many Lovers of Jane Austen, a Texas convention, with Klingons and Kirks, WWI, cigarettes and something to read, Mansfield Park, Mrs. Allen but with an edge, Juliet Stevenson as a narrator, 170 books read (in 2014), reading speed, a stumbling savourer, The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, solitary reading vs. group reading, trains boost reading, “drawing room reading like singing, piano playing, and card”, scandalous reading, reading out loud, David Timson’s Dickens narrations, dramatic readings, Dickens invented the audiobook, Charles Dickens And The Great Theatre Of The World by Simon Callow, Elizabeth Klett’s reading of Carmilla, oh my!,

I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

“Who? What? Your love? Well, that’s super”, he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters,

“…and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters. Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and, what is more remarkable, with a good constitution.”

surrounded by children, they all have to tucked in, they’re genteel, it was wet that day, a good introduction to Jane Austen.

Northanger Abbey - Marvel Comics Adaptation

Catherine Morland - Character Sketches (1892)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

September 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Clean Sweep by Ilona AndrewsClean Sweep
By Ilona Andrews; Narrated by Renee Raudman
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours

Themes: / urban fantasy / Texas / magic / bed and breakfast / werewolves / vampires /

Publisher summary:

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast.

But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina. And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….

Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Clean Sweep is an urban fantasy-type book with some interesting twists. Unfortunately, the narrator of the audiobook had a voice that didn’t fit the character and was so out of place that it made the book very difficult to listen to.

Dina is an innkeeper, a woman who runs a B&B in Texas. Her inn has magical properties and she has magical capabilities, her role being that of a neutral protector in a version of Earth/USA that includes normal humans but also has vampires, werewolves, and other magical beasts. The main thrust of the story is that Dina’s inn becomes the site for a showdown between two sides in a big family disagreement, though the book was more than halfway through before any of this became evident. The first half (or slightly more) of the book was world building and character introduction more than it was purely essential to the plot.

In Clean Sweep, Ilona Andrews has some interesting ideas about magic. I think I might be persuaded to read another book set in this world/series, assuming it was quicker to get to the point/didn’t do as much world-building, and assuming that I read it, not listened to it (or that the narrator was someone else). In Ms. Andrews’ world, the magical entities are by and large aliens from other worlds who find themselves on earth for a variety of reasons. What appears to be magic to “normal” people is actually uber nanotechnology or other futuristic technologies at work from alien worlds. There are many aggressive entities, such as the werewolves and vampires, but there are also places like the Inns, the Switzerland’s of the magical world. Innkeepers are to take no sides and to protect whoever signs the contract and pays to be a guest at the inn.

All of this goes awry when some creatures known as stalkers start killing dogs in the town where Dina’s inn is. At first, she believes that a local werewolf named Sean is to blame, but after killing two (with the help of Sean) and studying them, she comes to find out that these creatures may have been hired by vampires as part of a massive (and deadly) family feud. The world-building is mainly done by Dina explaining how the “magic” came to be to Sean, who knows nothing of the history of his species’ home planet or how his species came to earth. Through these explanations and through Dina’s preparations to help protect the vampires who are staying at the inn, the reader learns about other worlds, wormholes, and the true source of “magic.”

The book also has a side plot that was touched briefly upon, a story of Dina’s parents’ inn vanishing one day. Dina does a bit through the course of the narrative to try to find them, but it seems fairly obvious that it’s a side thread to be explored in later books/as a series arc. While most of the book is purely urban fantasy, there are also some hot and steamy scenes that are typically found in romance novels. Many urban fantasy books these days seem to have these scenes, whether they add to the story or not (in this case, not). There is also a possible threat, the local police officer thinking Dina is up to no good, but that thread is unceremoniously dropped just before the main thread of the story picks up, about halfway through. It’s not clear if this topic will be revisited in later books or if it was just an editing miss.

Clean Sweep is a fairly typical, action-packed urban fantasy story. There aren’t any deeper themes or morals to be had from it, though the idea of magic as uber technology is kind of fun. The book, once the actual plot started, was pretty quick to go through and fairly simple/straight-forward. This isn’t a book that’s going to make you think, or require lots of focused reading time to enjoy.

The only major negative is with the audiobook specifically. Dina is supposed to be a 23 year old woman living in Texas. Unfortunately, she sounds like an old grandmother from the deep south. The voice and the description of the character just don’t align. The narrator’s voices for the men were surprisingly good, but her overall voice just sounded old and tired. In parts where there was a lot of action, she actually sounded even worse, over dramatizing her voice acting. I actually thought she was going to die a few times. It was downright uncomfortable and annoying to listen to, and I cannot recommend the audiobook. If another book in this series is released, I may give it a go in print/Kindle, but won’t be listening again unless the narrator changes.

Posted by terpkristin.

Review of High Midnight

September 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

High Midnight by Rob MoscaHigh Midnight
By Rob Mosca; Narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark
Publisher: ListenUp Audiobooks
Publication Date: June 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 8 hours, 3 minutes

Themes: / horror / drunk monkeys / psychotic clowns / zombies / Texas /

Publisher summary:

Welcome to Unity, Texas. Population: Bizarre. The only thing protecting the residents of Unity from a stream of nightmares is Laredo Beaumont, the town’s hard-drinking, ass-kicking sheriff, and Cicero, his knife-wielding chimpanzee deputy. It’s a thankless job that leaves Laredo drained and nearly broken. The only solace he can find is in the arms of his beloved Sally Mae, a ghostly soiled dove from a phantom bordello where only the most daring of men would think to step foot.

We’ve all heard that old saying about book cover judgments. Perhaps now it’s time we block out blurb-based reckonings. Rob Mosca’s High Midnight is bursting with criminally psychotic clowns, zombies with a twist, spectral prostitutes, and strange creatures. But it’s also a prime example of good, at times strong writing.

I’m uncertain into which genre High Midnight ought slide. More than likely, it’s a sub-subgenre. Something like Gritty Redneck Bizarro. In the beginning, the weird hyperbolic writing style and content is intriguing. When combined with crisp and skilled writing, you feel anxious and excited. Like a passenger on a hijacked locomotive, you feel your heart speed up to mirror the rushing landscape and you begin wondering where you’re going, and what will happen when you get there. But as the story progresses, we climax, reaching a point at which we can go no faster, further, or weirder, and everything beyond becomes a repetitive flatlining disappointment due to the lack of contrast.

I liked how Mosca would introduce a character, and then immediately leap back in time to show a slivered piece of the character’s history. This allows for a streamlining of exposition without getting bogged down in unnecessary detail. But this approach comes with a price. The story’s momentum becomes the engine, the driving force behind the storytelling. When this occurs, character submits to situation, preventing reader from forging strong bonds with character. Before we know it, and no matter how good the writing, the story is the situation acting upon character, rather than the characters reacting to situation. The result is uninteresting characters. And it’s difficult to create tension when I don’t give a damn if someone lives, dies, laughs, or cries. Situation will always grab our attention, but it is forever characters that maintain it.

High Midnight gets high marks for the audiobook. Bernard Setaro Clark is a name to remember. Clark narrates the audiobook, and captures the story’s voice. Whether it’s a clown’s ghastly giggle, drawling redneck sheriff, or explicit ghostly fornication, Clark delivers a tremendous reading. If you’re going to give this a read, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

The SFFaudio Podcast #272 – READALONG: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

July 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #272 – Jesse, Jenny, Tamahome, and Julie Davis talk about The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters.

Talked about on today’s show:
2012, Amazon Vine, Android Karenina, Sense And Sensibility And Sea-Monsters, Quirk Books, nurturing writers, rage, apocalyptic stories, mysteries, The End Is Nigh, BRING HER TO ME, not-technically the end of the world, wretched stragglers, going bucket-list, Tam questions, “witty questions”, would you do a podcast if you knew the world was ending next year?, more classics, cozies, get your mind on someone else’s destruction, depressing things make Jesse feel good, “a jar for urine”, Jenny would forget reading, Tam would do “something involving women”, an existential novel, the mystery is secondary to the world building, planting potatoes, four or five months, brutish and horrible and short, the belt, the hoarding, money or love or jealousy or power, real random or artificial random, red herrings, Agatha Christie, the sister, hope, she networks well, the spotty cellphone service, the literary allusions, the romantic plot arc, a lot of ore to be mined, Detective Culverson, the mother and the father, the secondary characters, the coffee shop guy, the existential stuff, On The Beach by Nevil Shute, at the dentist, it’s all going to end, Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, Peter Berkrot is a great narrator, “Hen” is brooding, Palace like Pallas, upon the bust of Pallas, The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe, nevermore, the reverential use of “freeze motherfucker”, it’s about existence, Salvador Dalí, finding reasons for existence, suicide, doing the thing that must be done, a little case of doubling, “I finally get to do what I wanted”, a noble element, the shooting, and then there’s the dog (a bichon frise), a very well put together book, doing the romance, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Distant Pale Glimmers, a Marvel vs. DC movie, Firefly, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, Batman, emancipation or execution, the guns anomaly (AK-47), the trilogy, the second book, Concord, New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”, Texas, “live free, then die”, first person present tense, “that noir style”, treasuring the moments, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, Christmas, the message, where’s the seed bank on the Moon?, “think of your life as a story”, the key “Truth”, the most important thing ever, TV news is telling shitty stories, 2011 Norway Attacks, “psycho” vs. “psychotic“, “you’re not the main character”, the villain of the piece, “it would be noble, except…”, an intensification of everyday life, the rebuilding, societal change, a “novel” idea, World War Z by Max Brooks, The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell, the Edgar Award, the snow, the animals, “maybe the science is off”, denying reality, seeing it with a telescope, denial doesn’t help you, The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter, coming to grips with mortality, assisted living movie group, alternative medicine and false hope, “a natural reaction”, quit your job and go crazy, spend time with your friends, who cares about podcasting?, “the secret to podcasting is that it’s an excuse to spend time with your friends”, podcast is a great medium, unlike The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy, “that’s not what the podcast is”, religious books, A Good Story Is Hard To Find, Reading Envy, The Inklings, the formatting is facilitating, proper flow, “super-consumable”, re-readers, “this makes you think about what’s important in your life”, “a thought provoking book”, The Source, Hank’s purpose, ‘locked town mystery’, the process, empathy, a grubby little murder, caring, the insurance office, Hank Palace cares about all these stories, a Star Trek reference, The Inner Light, Picard learns to play the flute,

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Watchmen

Posted by Jesse Willis

Think: The Lives Of Jack London (an interview with biographer James L. Haley)

May 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Think with Krys BoydThink, a “topic-driven interview and call-in program hosted by Krys Boyd” from KERA (in Texas), covers many topics. But back on July 22, 2010 it broadcast an episode entitled The Lives Of Jack London. Here’s the official description:

He prospected for gold, hunted seals and wrote some of the most popular adventure novels of the early 20th Century. But what was Jack London really like? We’ll talk this hour with biographer, historian and novelist James L. Haley whose new book is “Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London” (Basic Books, 2010).

|MP3|

In many ways this is a surprising interview – well worth hearing. There are a few facts I’d never heard before and a few fascinating interpretations. The strangest part, at least for me though, were about London’s socialism and the lengths Hayley goes to apologize for it.

Very good news, by the way, the audiobook of Wolf: The Lives Of Jack London is available from Blackstone Audio and it’s read by Bronson Pinchot!

Posted by Jesse Willis

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