The SFFaudio Podcast #490 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Human Is by Philip K. Dick

September 10, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #490 – Human Is by Philip K. Dick, read by Julia Morgan (this audiobook comes to us courtesy of Morgan Scorpion). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (33 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Evan Lampe, and Julia Morgan

Talked about on today’s show:
Startling Stories, Winter 1954, what is human?, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, empathy, Lester is a horrible person, Lester wants to kill human beings, the alien is too good to be true, getting Lester back, a kid and a kitten, the illustration, I know how this story was created, at his typewriter, shut up I’m typing!, PKD is Lester, poking fun at his own obessiveness, the nagging wives, the annoying wives, this time he’s the guy who’s the dick, Evan’s notes, the four stories: Out In The Garden, Beyond The Door, Of Withered Apples, neglected wife and aloof husband, an affair with a non-human entity, what was he going through?, The Father-Thing, the Husband Thing becomes human, what you think of the title, questioning the meaning of the title, “handsome is as handsome does”, don’t judge by the looks, it always applies, you’re looking very handsome, great language, Lester Herrick came back from Rexor 4 a different man, robant, Jill gaped, you’re looking lovely, do I smell a delicious repast warming on the hearth?, he’s always playing a game of whose telling the story, the narrator can change sides, watch out for my tiger!, the tiger did this, it’s just an alley cat, human is as human does, a Devonshire lady, stupid is as stupid does, Forrest Gump (1994), the lurking background sexual motivation missing from the adaptation, Beyond The Door, a child comes into the story, “a friend”, a rival for the wife’s affections, the brother, human beings are more complicated than just sex, underneath all that technology and gender roles, sexual jealousy, Julia doesn’t see it, Marissa doesn’t see it, Paul can see a longing, a longing for a child, Out In The Garden, a kid and a garden, a god or an animal, Leda And The Swan by W.B. Yates, the old college friend, Jesse thinks this really happened, PKD got jealous, you have to make allowances after all he’s a scientist, wife leaving her husband, your still classed as sexually adequate aren’t you?, handing the boy over to the government when they’re old enough, communal spartan living, Progeny, an autistic kid in the family, you think a lot of children, Gus loves to go visit you, I’ve had fun, almost the opposite, this isn’t about sex but he’s waiting it equally, Helen O’Loy by Lester Del Rey is a porn addiction story, when women complain about men watching porn, romance fiction, what these aliens do, the odd diction, an ideal abstraction, books mostly, romantic novels, 19th century Jane Austen, another PKD story, astronauts who died in space and return and are arrested, a poor copy, aliens invading as door-to-door salesman, aliens trying to mimic humans, Impostor, Spencer Olham, he passes her test, this is not a story about empathy, Dick is wrong again (about his own stories), programmed automaton, acting kind, being kind without empathy, not faking, differentiating the real without an internal narrative, Jesse’s snobbyness, reviews of the Human Is episode, she chose her own personal preference to allow the invasion of the Earth, her false testimony, infiltrating Earth, the Rexorian Lester is wonderful, super creepy, she’s got his love, this is exactly how women get into bad relationships, at best it will be like Helen O’Loy, the TV version ups the stakes, the missing child, the substitute child, the little Gussy needing to come over there, how the brother is, he’s distancing himself from his sister, his job as a lawyer, the otter slide, an annuzlement, he’s going to live with them, the jealously flipped over, defensive of the original Lester, you think a lot of children, there’s no question whether he is or isn’t the alien, super-wise advice, yeah he has a big nose but look how good he is with kids, how cold blooded is that?, beautiful on the inside, Centauran parasitic life, merely an opinion, another robot, robants everywhere, a robot who becomes malicious, where’s Gussy’s mom, what does the mom think about that?, what happens to Jill after this?, you can divorce people, Philip K. Dick’s life story, the five wives of PKD, just a bad day?, you’re a monster, too many amphetamines, he makes poisons, he’s just the worst, a scientist who makes toxins, military role, a weird profession, designed to make us hate him, less believable, straight up adaptation, now clear out of here, the reports are stories, his cheeks flushed his eyes sparkled, the most explicit version of the wife as a child, Upon The Dull Earth, Jill’s heart was like lead, sit in the garden, bring your tiger, Vidsender is Skype, nobody speak, he gets a letter from Donald A. Wollheim, off to the shack in the back yard to write a novel, the portrayal of these child wives, the wives of the 1960s,Clans Of The Alphane Moon, Now Wait For Last Year, 1959, Cleo and Anne, a 1950s wife with no child and no responsibilities, finding pleasure and life elsewhere, we know what she wants, she wants a family, the proxy child is available, how I keep the family whole, those toxic little stories you write, it feels like journal entries turned into science fiction, such a sensitive guy, overwhelmed with guilty, February 2, 1953, the 1955 FBI visit, Eye In The Sky, in keeping with, driving lessons, something Paul would say, individuals amongst them are doing good work, not pertinent, Terry Carr, The Ganymede Takeover, you fellas at Ace, I’m embarrassed by this story, they didn’t hand out the best stories, a future season?, radical fixing, maybe, I have not really changed my views, the quality of kindness, rocks and sticks and metal, always talking about empathy, William James pragmatism, what’s on the surface, telling over time, not enough time with new Lester, anything you wish whatever will make you happy, conmen say that, worried about Jill, just run you don’t need another man right now, especially an alien man, her only refuge, lush and green, smells good, compared to where he comes from, they’re out in the garden, Frank is very honest, mushroom sauce and steak stored under the house, the second interview with the brother, I did notice he was getting fatter, the coffee and the rolls and the ice-cream, how Lester and the stove get up to all sorts of things, he’s cheating on his wife with the stove now, that was a sex line, and now he’s romantic, you’re eyes are like virgin pools, the sex scenes in the TV adaptation, Paul liked it, ok, preposterous, due process, a military court, she tricks them with a sixth grade logic puzzle, courtroom fell for it, they set up a straw man to knock down, a good excuse for a softcore porn movie, the sets and the costumes, stupid high heeled shoes, an option for the uniform, not a good adaptation, not a good show, why does that happen?, why is she on the treadmill all the time?, to show she’s not moving with her relationship, sexual liaisons with costumed strangers, lesbianism, the explanation not an excuse, lets invert everything but not the most important thing, why is the director the wife now?, set in 2520, our present cultural values, women should be empowered and have loving husbands, everybody in the military, what’s missing in the story, ever gender is flipped, militaristic, law and order for the rich, flipping the genders of the husband and the wife, the set design, I’d like to have that apartment, a gorgeous closet, a home gym, the Maze, fancy clothying and stabbing each other, am I insane or is this terrible?, adding the big stakes, what you want out of a spouse, missing the heart of the story, if they hadn’t added everything they added, no softcore scenes in The Twilight Zone, how many lesbian episodes, audience expect filler and gender balanced, Black Mirror doesn’t, cheap sex and war, Bryan Cranston’s soulful eyes, uniformly good acting, the start with the shittiest script imaginable, he loves these metaphors, he retains all the memories and yet his emotions are changed, in the story he retains none of the memories, Hugh Jackman as a time traveler in Kate And Lepold (2001), a romance fantasy, Outlander, why did they change the guy’s first name, changes for changes sake, following the slipstream, in Charlie Brooker’s shadow, Ronald D. Moore, getting the most bang for their buck, our turn now girl power, Bryan Cranston as the wife, problematic, swapping everything, switching the emotions, if you’re gonna mess with the structure then change everything, from warm to cold, the story fall apart, the story that Philip K. Dick wrote was so good, ideal visions of themselves, what’s the ideal man supposed to be like?, so many perfect women stories, if you just flip everything the story becomes pointless, that whole sequence in the underground, the missing element from the story is the child, non of the stories in the adaptations (so far) have dealt with children, a Stephen King story written by Philip K. Dick, like It, Robert A. Heinlein, weird kids, the system or the older people are repressing opportunity, impenetrable for adults, Crack In Space is the novel for the millennials, the brown people, Martian Time-Slip, Galactic Pot-Healer, Nick And The Glimmung, autistic boy, adult bullies and jerks, problematic humans, what’s best for the kid, how to raise and educate children, the Jovians are sending board games to earth, War Game, obsessed with children, Isaac Asimov, full of children, they don’t get what he’s about, a pecuniary decision, not a good introduction to Philip K. Dick at all, if this is your introduction to Philip K. Dick you’d think PKD was obsessed with soft-core sex scenes, psychic sex, a man interested in women, borrowing from other stories, resources, empire, the TV adaptation picked out the word “metaphor” and now the aliens are metamorphs, this story is a metaphor for a husband-wife relationship, they won’t even talk about children, you be you, what does that have to do with, Jesse can’t tell what the TV adaptation’s metaphor, The Father-Thing vs The Father Thing, Foster You’re Dead, The Hanging Stranger, all of that stuff is not in the story, top half, irritated by everything they added to it, why not just do this thing and set it in the 1950s future, 1950s weirdness, computers but not in the house, robants that run on punchcards, the aesthetic of the Fallout games, all the TVs are cathode ray, the Philip K. Dick rehtorizer, getting up to all sorts of no-good with the oven, your’e cooking now, I’ve got a bun in the oven, coffee for the rhetorizer, Lester was so indifferent to pleasure he wants his food intravenously, Paul’s re-litigation, he wasn’t bad enough, working harder at making him odious, Major Dad, sirloin steak medium, Counter-Clock World, he has trouble with his pipe, a great comedy piece, it’s funny on the page, a suburban regular girl, perfect alien comedy, perfect comedy, My Favorite Martian, sucking all the humour out of these, Crazy Diamond was supposed to be funny, you can’t have sexy time and comedy?, Sales Pitch was easily a comedy, crapsack earthworld, The Outer Limits, Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven, The Human Operators by Harlan Ellison and A.E. Van Vogt, mean robots, they don’t care about science fiction, military stuff is not even his thing, the material they’re going to use to fix the atmosphere, oil?, being imperialistic, fascistic human government, amping up the sympathy for the Rexorian, the morality of empire, not even sex just dress-up, random strangers, the secretary/assistant, underwritten, the scene that was cut, she’s genetically matched up with him and they have no children, this report on Betelgeuse XI, Fomalhautan fossils, a lawyer for ICE or the Border Patrol, outside of Earth you got to Gitmo, laziness or terrible supervision, shot in black in white in a fallout future 1950s, an episode of The Twilight Zone that never happened, framing devices, make this story live.

Human Is by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #437 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Turning Wheel by Philip K. Dick

September 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #437 – The Turning Wheel by Philip K. Dick, read by Mike Vendetti (this audiobook comes to us courtesy of Mike Vendetti). This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (52 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Mr Jim Moon, Marissa, and Mirko Stauch.

Talked about on today’s show:
clearness be with me, novelette, Science Fiction Stories, issue 2, 1954, the far future of The Faith Of Our Fathers, an ambush ending, Brian Aldiss, I wish he wasn’t on speed, adrenaline or heroin hit, really funny, the most hilarious thing ever, walking around Hollywood, cruel glee, Sigma 2 Foxtrot, full of ideas, building a world step by step, small hints, not Dick’s best story, The Philip K. Dick Fans page, baffled by, pointing to something, the plot, what are we supposed to make of the ending, another turn of the wheel, penicillin, a return to reality, false beliefs, the next world, the tinkerists, a parade, a secular meeting, taken on too much, a racist and anti-racist story, awkwardness in his own body, PKD was a cauc, an interest in the numinous, a repairman, ambivalence, crapsack future, post apocalyptic dystopia, a Yellow Peril story, Indians ascendant, the lowly caucs, rotations of karma, circles within circles, humour, the PKD stand-in character, “my mind is still impure”, denial of education, entertainment, food, bardley class, some sort of satire, Scientology, Dianetics, A.E. van Vogt, John W. Campbell, there’s not much science in it, self-helpy, therapy replacement, psychotherapy for the afflicted, did Dick ever go to a Scientology meeting, Lawrence Sutin, phhh, Elron Hu (Bard), pretty crazy, in the center, e-meters, Aleister Crowley, apocryphal stories, Lester del Rey, founding a religion, Michael Shermer, the Robert A. Heinlein anecdote, the Harlan Ellison anecdote, what is religion for?, The Man In The High Castle, even the caucs of Detroit, the colonial governor, what is the purpose of religion?, how strange a man, a born liar, a similar mentality to Trump, a serious mental illness, a system, persuasion, the appeal of any religion, offering answers, tradition, social structure, what do they say?, they look with their blank stares, creepy, free test, no eye contact, Sung Wu, this is what the real world’s like, so much fear, it will jangle you, deprogrammed, the medicine, bad days, mental crisis, free floating anxiety, existential angst, this electronic device is not going to hurt you, free (at first), haters, every cult, the Westboro Baptists, Cults!, rusty and unoiled, a jammed disposal slot, any stable society is menaced by cults, are we stable society, teetering on the brink, blind to the rot, rationalize, this is fine, do not repair, do not fix, shooting bullets with a rusty gun, deterministic nature of their faith, predetermined, divine will, a cheap argument, the lowest class, off to Spain, a silent messenger, the basic catechisms, busy mixing, a hairy cauc sweating and galumphing around like a neanderthal, one of PKD’s wives must have called him an neanderthal, Mary And The Giant, technos, pale and unhealthy like nocturnal insects, othering the Caucasians, I’m pretty hairy myself, lascivious looks, human dimensions, incessant whining, laughing and wincing, full of hypocrisy, the robots, “clearness be with you”, welded to its waist, some tinkerist, a plow, legacy leftovers, the TV repairman part of PKD, science is good and engineering is great aspect, hoping for recycling, monorails everywhere, nuclear war, open sores, farming the ruins of Detroit, a cool image, Time Pawn, revisions, world-building, wanted more meat, nicotine or copper, insecticide, our brothers, reacting to Eastern Mythology, gnostic, I Ching, of course not, reading the Dick’s Exegesis, jangled with spirits of murders, Thetans, I wanna murder you right now, not my best self, externalize, a lascivious bastard, getting clear, on a spectrum, mental issues, so productive, maybe this will work, a marketable madness, negative thoughts, that’s the bad part, panic attacks, agoraphobia, depressions, the link between graphomania and mental depression, you wouldn’t see anything, sitting on Philip K. Dick’s shoulder, across the street with binoculars, it must be frightening, nobody has the answer, a powerful ending, a lot of reflection of our society, making animals suffer is bad, sorry spider, take it to the limit, hairy and sweaty, ultimately we’re smart and we have science and engineering, he ultimately believes that American industrialism is a good thing, penicillin is awesome, his only real giant point, its about empathy, kipple or gubble, back into organized states, old religions, a new world order, out of the ruins of the old society, deeply symbolic, they could make the same mistake, primitively wise, they suborn ’em, expiration dates on drugs, unpacking the brushed over, how do we know that it works?, a poor little fly on an alien planet, a self-deluded cult that’s taken over the world, we have no guarantees, to reboot Scientology, it would be VR, you’re jangled!, VR as a treatment for PTSD, I remember all of Blade Runner, I don’t need to watch it again, the Vangelis soundtrack, the cause of my jangles, that room, put yourself in a basket, the Mercer cult machine, no decent self-respecting woman, incredibly hairy, like apes!, ape-like, dealing with racism, a yellow man criticizing white men, a white ascendancy, a horizontal ascendancy, we’ll have to share the same outhouse, oh my Hubbard!, the black empathy box, Wilbur Mercer, an Empathy box, an E-Box, the virtual reality of Perky Pat, a regular person, you have to have so much knowledge going in, Roog, deciding to become a vegetable, what is he saying here?, did his wife say something to him?, why would anyone publish this?, no movie will be made of this (as it is), wishing it were a lot longer, Piper In The Woods, the Green Man, what’s he getting at here?, New Wave, why is that guy doing that?, is he New Wave before his time, Gonna Roll Them Bones by Fritz Leiber, things are like huh, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, pre-inoculated for the changes to come, a boy goes to prison for treason and comes out a girl (Chelsea Manning), turmoil and rage, I was thinking about this two decades ago, fifty years ago, a story aimed squarely at the heterosexual male, stick with me, still a love story, there’s something going on there, not meant for the ages, for lining your bird cage with, we’re clear, and marked as suppressive persons, vegans, what you gonna stop eating fruit, totally put off, kind of cute, The Misfits, is abstaining from alcohol a religion, not having to lie, the religious fervor has passed, 27 year old Toyota,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The literary roots of Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986)

July 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

Black Destroyer by A.E. van Vogt - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939

“‘It was history, honorable Mr. Smith, our knowledge of history that defeated him,’ said the Japanese archaeologist, reverting to the ancient politeness of his race.”
-A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939)

Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) takes inspiration from a number of sources. The oldest direct literary allusion is to Joseph Conrad’s 1904 novel Nostromo. Nostromo, beside being the book’s title, is also the name of the novel’s protagonist and the name of the ship in Alien. Conrad’s novel is set in a fictional South American nation of Costaguana and in it’s seaport town of Sulaco, the name of the ship in Aliens.

Nostromo by Joseph Conrad

In the novel Nostromo is an Italian seaman, a trusty capataz de los cargadores, a hyper-competent, but resentful, head longshoreman, and an employee of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company (perhaps hence forth to be named either “the company” or Weyland-Yutani). Having settled in the seaside town “Sulaco” he has established himself as an the indispensable man.

The crew of the Nostromo, in Alien, act much more like longshoremen than they do sailors – though I note that they are more commonly referred to as long haul trucker types*. But, given all the union shop talk, the bonuses, and all the loading and unloading equipment all over their ship (all those chains hanging down, remember?) and also Ripley’s later work with power loaders in the sequel, Aliens, the comparison to longshoremen is more apt. Moreover, the ship in Alien is named “Nostromo” and is a commercial mining ship.

Starship Solider by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Solider by Robert A. Heinlein

James Cameron’s Aliens (1986) is mostly inspired by Alien (1979), having approximately the same recipe and relationship that Terminator 2 (1991) has to The Terminator (1984), yet Cameron still acknowledges the inspiration of Robert A. Heinlein’s novel, Starship Troopers (firrst published as “Starship Solider“). And, you can totally see it – what with the “combat drops” and the “bug hunts” and the power armor (powered exoskeletons).

Finally, and I posted about this back in 2012, there is a massive inspiration for the alien of Alien coming from a 1939 novelette by A.E. van Vogt, Black Destroyer. That story is told from the perspective of the intelligent alien animal. Here’s the art for it from the original publication:

A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939
A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939
A.E. van Vogt’s Black Destroyer - Astounding Science Fiction, July 1939

More on Black Destroyer can be found here:

Newest to me, and perhaps least known [thanks to Chris for the pointer], is the fact that A.E. van Vogt’s second story in Astounding (December 1939), also influenced Alien. The story is entitled, Discord In Scarlet.

Astounding Science Fiction, December 1939

Again the cover story, Discord In Scarlet featured another alien horror attacking a crew of humans, but this one doesn’t so much look like the alien from Aliens as it does act like it – specifically it has the ability to plant its eggs in men for reproductive purposes. I’ve highlighted a gruesome passage here:

Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt

Also evocative, is the interior art for the story, two of the illustrations use some colour (rather rare for Astounding):

Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt
Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt
Discord In Scarlet by A.E. van Vogt

Both Black Destroyer and Discord In Scarlet were incorporated, with some revisions, into van Vogt’s fix-up novel The Voyage Of The Space Beagle.

Posted by Jesse Willis

*there is a D-grade movie called Space Truckers

The SFFaudio Podcast #378 – READALONG: The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick

July 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #378 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, not exactly a fix-up, this novel’s DNA, The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, the next draft, the main character’s problem was Dick’s problem, an idea, another Yance-woman, a sausage fest, did you’re arm fall off again?, “the well-informed dead rat romped under the tongue-tied pink log”, a new ACE or Ballantine book, more cohesive and clearer, all ideas are undercooked, the Wikipedia summary, The Defenders feels like junk, but translated to the novel… a sequel to The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy is excellent, reading The Mold Of Yancy helps you understand The Penultimate Truth, conapts with wall to wall wub-fur carpeting, artiforgs (artificial organs), Yancy in the novel vs. the short story, a syndicate, a quasi-corporatist government short, the Kardashians and Gwyneth Paltrow, set on Callisto, a totalitarian government, letting in spies, his spidey-sense, he’s like Ronald Regan, a fireside chat, Dick’s analysis of our North American society is dead on, war is bad but just wars have to be fought, cats are definitely better than dogs, political correctness, media pushing (or pulling) society in different directions, a perfect fit, a nice welding, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, worried about the overseer, strap on your vault suit, he’s a companion, a NPC, leadies are Mister Handies, the robot companions, Hugh Howey’s whole career, the same premise and ideas as Wool, ant tanks, vaults (and silos), WWIII, The Game-Players Of Titan, neo-fuedalism, squabbling fiefdoms, the MegaVac computer echoes Vulcan II or III, Isaac Asimov’s MultiVac, the plot with Brose and Lantano, re-purposing people across stories, the leadies are slaves, a good Goodreads review, the 1% and the 99%, labouring under delusion, a damn fine analysis, the scandal of the day, obedience, Paul is a history fan, a Roman society, Sulla and Pompey, the triumvirates, private armies, the land grant system is very Roman, proto-feudal (or manorial), Cheyenne is nuked again, Estes Park, Colorado, Philip K. Dick has to throw everything into the crockpot, Pretty Blue Fox, Lincoln Apartments, the Tom Mix tank, 290 movies, Tom Mix had five wives, Philip K. Dick dressed like a movie cowboy, clear evidence you’re living in a Philip K. Dick world, ask me about Plato, The Defenders and The Penultimate Truth are modeled after Plato’s the Myth of the Cave, gin and tonic vs. beer, Dog Stories Monthly vs. the Journal Of Psychological Review, a gestalt, the art of Hieronymus Bosch, everything should be about challenging and questioning, Critical Thinking should be the only class in high-school, nothing can be challenged, no critical thinking, all Yancy’s beliefs are insipid, as close as possible to no beliefs, apolitical (without a viewpoint), William Tenn, Null-P, Dick was really influenced by A.E. van Vogt, “wow, my god!”, a preference for Kriegsspiel, a cosmic wrestling match, The Cosmic Puppets, a nice six hour game of Kriegsspiel, Bach’s art of the fugue, subdued by the plot, troweling it down a bit, The Unreconstructed M stuff, fun to read, a time traveling Cherokee warrior who walked in from another Dick story, Time Pawn, Dr. Futurity, fake artifacts of a fake alien invasion, it gells as a novel, a really good speech about a squirrel, an actual living squirrel, there’s no little scurrying creature at the end, a questionable bow,

However, Adams figures out Lantano was behind the deaths as part of his plot to bring down Brose. In desperation and fear, he joins up with St. James, who discovered a cache of artificial organs, and flees into the Tom Mix tank with him. They discover that Lantano was ultimately successful but contemplate that the biggest lie is yet to come.

that’s the ending and discovery of The Defenders, meeting the quota, they don’t let you out when you don’t meet the quota, there’s no reward and punishment, appreciating The Defenders, in Plato’s The Republic, PKD knows all about Plato (and The Odyssey), the Allegory Of the Cave,

Plato begins by asking Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do (“just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets”. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the shadowed wall, and the prisoners falsely believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave

fake destruction of San Fransisco, false reconstructions, Stalin with Roosevelt speaking Russian at the White House, 1984 by George Orwell,

Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed, being forced to turn and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it hard for him to see the objects that are casting the shadows. If he is told that what he saw before was not real but instead that the objects he is now struggling to see are, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the shadows of the carried objects. He writes “…it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.”

writing lies and having your son believe the lies, Hollywood,

Plato continues: “suppose…that someone should drag him…by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun.” The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him. The sunlight is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the freed prisoner is experiencing. Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself. Only after he can look straight at the sun “is he able to reason about it” and what it is.

a sign of madness,

Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.

other levels, the fake journal entries, the time scoop, in the geological strata, a critical thinking story, what makes us believe the Earth is as old as it is is evidence, pointing in the direction of a Truth, a little bit paranoid, Philip K. Dick has a whole story about it, an evidence laying assassin robot, questioning the science, then you have a Philip K. Dick story, Vulcan’s Hammer, a real theme he’s struggling with, don’t get into conversations with strangers, you’re a human being … I guess, it’s great to be in a country where you don’t understand the language, an afterword by Thomas Disch, a downhill racer of a writer,

If Dick had stopped to think (but that’s something a downhill racer can’t do), he might have realized that there was an essential dramatic disparity between the two stories he was trying to weld together. The Yancy part of the plot generated a story about dirty tricks in high places, a genre for which Dick possesses little flair (compare le Carré and his better imitators), while that element of the story that all readers remember, after the lapse of however many years, is the notion of the human race imprisoned in underground factories because they’ve been tricked into believing that a nuclear war has destroyed the world. It’s an extraordinarily resonant idea. One thinks of the dwellers in Plato’s cave who know nothing of the reality but the shadows cast on the wall; of the similar destiny of Wells’s Morlocks; of the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio; and of ourselves, living in the shadows of a nuclear threat that is only bearable by pretending that it does not exist. To have recognized that our situation is a kind of madness (“What, me worry?” sang the Titanic’s passengers) has not helped us toward a solution, for our situation with respect to the bomb is not much different in 1983 than it was in 1964. And for that reason The Penultimate Truth, for all its flaws, remains a book that can speak to the terror that is the bedrock of our social order.

plotting the distance away from a nuclear target in order to survive, a nuclear wasteland in every movie, an insipid Kardashianism seems to have taken over, we seem to have gotten worse, the fading away of the nuclear threat, the 99% accepting the 1%, breaking free from the cave seems impossible, the internet is our Yancy, like the same things on Facebook, we all have the same opinions, political correctness is like fascism except you can’t use that word, John Wayne day backlash (because he was apparently super-racist), Donald Trump is a power word, he’s willing to say whatever he wants to say, you have to come to that, arguing with the racism, Hieronymus Bosch are loveley, the Kriegsspiel argument, everyone should struggle with this, a dictate from on high or social mimesis, walking by the lottery counter, there’s no way to fix that, think about it, don’t just think the right thing because its the right thing, the re-writing rooms, the proles kind of ignore the prole-feed, the tankies who don’t know, the meek inheriting the Earth, maybe we aren’t meek enough, sprawling demesnes, the human condition, a good book, pulling the veil or reality aside, back to the shadows, from The Republic, the leadies are the leaden weights, the armies of the 1%, how much do you need to be educated, is it for gold or for lead?, Mr. Dick you did something with it, a downhill skier of a writer, add The Mold Of Yancy, he’s such a great idea man, he really engages with the situation, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Defenders is improved upon reflection,

The wonder is how often Dick was able to produce work of real interest and wit in these marathons of typewriting. For readers who read at a pace proportioned to his speed of writing (as most sf fans learn to do, or else cease being fans), the dull patches disappear into a haze of white powder as they careen down the slopes of the narrative. It is the ideas they are after, and Dick always provides more than a sufficiency of these.

Disch knew what Dick was all about, the longer novelettes, he has to pay the bills, too much plot, not enough story, welding together three stories, what was your process, MAN!?, Marissa attended a conference with a bunch of Dick wives and lovers, how much is reflected in what Marissa heard?, how much he loved everyone, feeling betrayed and angry, how funny he is, playing tricks on people, I love that Dick is seemingly incapable of being self-concious about what he loves, Roog, can you pick a subject that is less cosmic in scope, passionate about weird little things, watching a pilot for a new Science Fiction show, Colony (TV show), domesticity, “yeah, I’m out”, sympathy for the characters, overlaying crappily manipulative music, engaging with them in a real way, that dog was a real dog named Snooper, Jonathan Lethem, so good at self-examination, he’s the anti-facsist, he’s wise as well as crazy, he’s blind but he’s glimpsed greater truths, gnosticism, his fallout stories, we will miss them, you should be reading these PKD books, our listeners aren’t watching the Kardashians, are they?

The Defenders by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953

The Mold Of Yancy by Philip K. Dick - IF: Worlds Of Science Fiction, August 1955

The Unreconstructed M by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #265 – READALONG: Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny

May 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #265 – Jesse, Tam, and Paul Weimer discuss Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny

Talked about in this episode:
1976, “hey it’s Zelazny”, Tibor and whatnot, “The Great C.“, waking from a gnostic dream of oblivion, “the book is opaque to say the least”, “on the pilg”, recommended for super Dick-fans who like religion, New Wave (basically shitty), Christianity, Ted White, the Sector General novels, mythology and religion, 80-85% Dick, post-apocalyptic story, the local A.I., the sacrifice of the Athenians to the Minotaur, like a Jeopardy game, heliocentricity vs. geocentricity, “Benford, Bear, and Brin’s new Foundation trilogy”, Hari Seldon in a chimpanzee body, The Best Of Gregory Benford, it’s a paycheck, “If you wanna read this piece of shit that’s fine … I’m getting paid.”, cynicism, looking for the truth behind things, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Tibor’s conversations, there’s no fixed ground, Dr. Bloodmoney, Or How We Got Along After The Bomb, the fallout from nuclear fallout, Utah, Denver, “where are they getting this coffee?”, the socio-economic underpinnings of this book are fantasy, The Man In The High Castle, is he really worried about his bottle?, Autofac, the consequences of automated production, an economic weapon a weapon of war, Gresham’s law, The Crawlers, incs = incompletes, the thalidomide baby phenomenon, Arthur C. Clarke, Of Withered Apples (and our podcast about it), the apple tree scene doesn’t pay-off, the dog, episodic feel, the parallel pilgrimage of Peter Sands, the guy with the face problem, devil from the sky, Lufteufel (from the German words “Luft,” meaning “air,” and “Teufel,” meaning “Devil”), the class of people who engage with believers but don’t believe themselves, if you go into churches…, if there is a point to this story, representation, no photos of Jesus, does it matter if we worship a false image?, drawing a symbol, “the novel is extremely gnostic”, Zelazny’s Amber series, Islam goes the opposite way, depictions of Muhammad, believers tend not to worry about such details, the Klingons, the gnostic gloss, “it works as what it is”, the miracle of the arms and legs, a vision of the Deus Irae, what’s going on with the cow?, she’s a holy cow, the authors say?, “the cow slept and dreamed – Tibor ruminated.”, mechanical arms only (no legs), the crucifixion in reverse, the endings, Lufteufel and his daughter, dissolution, he does partake in divinity, Dr. Abernathy, Luke Daniels, the ozone in the air, an Arthurian motif, the healing of the wound, The Last Defender Of Camelot, dedicated Stanley G. Weinbaum and The Martian Odyssey, connecting the books, The Martian Odyssey is important and interesting but not great, “a classic of the field”, the first Science Fiction to come out of the 1920s, mostly junk, aliens that are just alien, where it fits in the history of Science Fiction, PKD’s favourite author was A.E. van Vogt, changing things up every thousand words, a formative influence on both Dick and Zelazny?, Eric S. Rabkin, maybe they had coffee together, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., dung beetles, the lizards (Lizzies), the talking bird, “the little black boys”, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, transformed by Am, another name for God or Popeye, evil turns into good, it’s all for the best, the philosophy behind Voltaire’s Candide, “it was good that we had a nuclear war”, the story of Noah, the ultimate Spring cleaning, religious people don’t tend to get stuck at that point, “maybe I’m wrong”, somebody is going to enjoy that sermon by Dr. Abernathy, the passing of good out of evil, internal arguments, “good” is not as strong as “evil”, a very clever sophistic argument that kind of works, a lot of German, allusions to other literature, and “the stars threw down their spears”, William Blake’s Tyger Tyger, a gnostic poem, the currency of half-forgotten poems, funerals and weddings call for the imagery and vocabulary of poetry, cultural tools for sealing social relationships, The Stars My Destination, what is gnosticism?, going out into a cave…, a vision quest, revelations, Jesus’ marriage, canonized gnosticism, religion as Jesus fan fiction, fan service, Galactic Pot Healer, a crisis of faith, a god needs help, a lack of editing, the meditation/drug thing, pastors can be grumpy without coffee and cigarettes, Abernathy is an asshole.

Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick DELL SF

Daw Books - DEUS IRAE by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny

DEUS IRAE by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny - Illustration by Corben

The Great C. by Philip K. Dick

Tyger Tyger by William Blake

Posted by Jesse Willis

Protecting Project Pulp: Letter From The Stars by A.E. van Vogt

September 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

Letter From The Stars by A.E. van Vogt

This short epistolary Science Fiction story, Letter From The Stars (aka Dear Pen Pal), is about a foolish person who writes to an alien criminal. Like many episodes of PPP lately it is straight-up pulpy fun, but with a twist.

Protecting Project PulpProtecting Project Pulp No. 60 – Letter From The Stars
By A.E. van Vogt; Read by Josh Roseman
1 |MP3| – Approx. 18 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Protecting Project Pulp
Podcast: September 17, 2013
It was just a peaceful correspondence between two lonely shut-in strangers — but the destiny of the universe was to depend on the answers! First published in The Arkham Sampler, Winter 1949.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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