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

June 12, 2017
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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

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Posted by Jesse Willis

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