The SFFaudio Podcast #516 – READALONG: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #516 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Evan Lampe talk about The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Talked about on today’s show:
1920, serialized with wonderful illustrations, WWI, volunteer hospital dispensary, Cynthia, Dashiell Hammett, Dick worked in a repair shop, H.P. Lovecraft never left his house, the best selling novelist of all time, Shakespeare, pretty impressive, go back to the start, so polished, Sherlock Holmes, her first dog was named George Washington, Agatha Christie: surfer, her house was named Styles, her husband had an affair, she mysteriously disappeared, Curtain, the template for her later books, a court case, gathering everyone together in the library, Captain Hastings, his brother she kept in a basket, Oscar Wilde, interactive, written on a wager, the ideal detective story, what really made her reputation, what she’s created here is something people really liked, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, an intellectual game you play with yourself, Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, the novelized form of a game that can only be played between a reader and an author, a sudoku puzzle, “cosy” murders, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Choose Your Own Adventure books, props, the map of the house, the fragment of the will, play along at home, tremendously cool, an ahead of its time idea, Dell mapbacks, Avon mapback, a very American cover, Marilyn Monroe, the layout of styles, who’s lying, American hardboiled, so detached, emigres, the corrupt police department, everyone’s dirty, Raymond Chandler, a body, a motive, more escapist than fantasy literature, who killed this nice lady, who started this goddamned war that’s killing everybody, Bryan Alexander, it can’t but help talk about WWI, pro-war rallies, patriotic Belgian refugees, the rape of Belgium, an offer to write propaganda, unemployed uppercrust guys, Inspector Japp is not the right class, I much prefer the Belgies, aint your ordinary run of foreigners, noir books, James M. Cain, the murderers are the main characters, suspense, game-playing fantasy, if you could do anything after the war, I’d like to be a detective (like Sherlock Holmes), Jesse ruins the show, 15 Agatha Christies, read like popcorn, so relaxing, so untaxing, turn on my brain more, Chandler, the breakdowns of people’s lives and marriages, Hastings is sort of a flake, offers to marry the first lady who starts crying in front of him, an odd scene, someone might take you up on it, failed romance, the promise that made Agatha Christie very wealthy, there could be more of these adventures, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Miss Marple, problems from success, an outsider’s view of something very inside, Murder In Mesopotamia, Murder On The Orient Express, this is where Agatha Christie wrote, basing it on her own experience, losing money, murder for revenge, murder for love, murder for money, mostly money, Evelyn Howard, playing housemaid, a con-artist, American hardboiled evil characters, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the estate is a diner in California, the Howard and Inglethorp relationship, the intricacy of the plotting, double jeopardy, civics class, this cleverness, like a puzzle, The Simple Art Of Murder by Raymond Chandler, the authentic flavour of life, begging the question, a really long game, deeply embedded, impressively patient, on vacation in Dartmoor, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the isolated house, a convoluted plot to disinherit somebody, red herrings, almost efficient, legitimated, the spy, the escaped lunatic, thrown off the scent, not the way murders actually take place, the Khashoggi assassination, reading too many Agatha Christies, lured into an embassy, a hit team, a lot more grubby, Jesse wrecks the podcast again, real life murders, John Haigh, the next rung on the ladder, when bodies are dissolving, poison is her trademark, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, the American response to Christie and Holmes, “I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you all here”, the real murderer is revealed, the consulting detective, kinda strange, kinda weird, no matter where he goes people die, Miss Marple, Angela Lansbury’s Murder She Wrote, the most prolific serial killer, the title, all the mysterious affairs, Dorcas, Jonathan Fast, a strange SFy name, don’t write notes to your gf, they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for Poirot, an antecedent in Sherlock Holmes, leaning on an intellectual heavyweight, Hastings has his heart too much on his face, a vague suspicion of everything, the game is under foot, how self-aware this is, I’m a kind of literary detective, Tommy and Tuppence, this is a thing in this world, her second husband was an archaeologist, ahead of her time on the meta-stuff, more than 60 novels, Philip K. Dick had 40 novels, this drive to write, Stephen King’s legacy, Mr Jim Moon’s Stephen King shelves, back to King, The Running Man, The Long Walk, a straight-up metaphor for life, from the alien perspective, newsreel footage from the 1930s, wearing a hat, Our Dumb Century, “Man Ventures Outside Hatless”, sunglasses replaced hats, the fossil of a whole fleshed out society that existed, John Buchan, the politics, Belgian refugees, the Poirot TV show, a French detective, a detective has to have a quirk, McCloud, Cannon, Ironsides, quirks, a cup of hot chocolate to get the little grey cells working, an outsider who brings insight into the cases, tapping into the same thing Jane Austen does, closely observing society, classes, a close up focus, shared DNA, upper classes, seeing the dirty laundry, quaint and cozy, later books, the interwar years, a very static world, the way class works in England, hardboiled novels, a more liquid environment, you get to ignore class conflict and unions, inheritance, always on vacation, the investigation is into people’s character, whether Mr Darcy is a jerk, whether this man is suitable for marriage, an orphan who gets adopted, seven Belgians, the audio drama, her patriotic poem, go fight in the war and get killed, the Napoleonic wars, detachment makes them popular, an escape, her perspective, poisoning thousands (with her words), toured the world, staying at the Ritz, Jack London, send me to the worst part of town, The People Of The Abyss, those who don’t live off of the investments of their grandfather, the best selling novelist of all time is a woman, she’s the J.R.R. Tolkien of the mystery, Alfred Hitchcock, The Feminization Of American Culture by Ann Douglas, Mary Wollstonecraft, women should marry their friends, poetry is peacock feathers, “dude this will get you chicks”, a valuable skill, not our world, the amazing thing about humans is we’re not as visual as we think we are, we live in the world of words, Lovecraft’s spells, false realities, oral cultures, languages and literary traditions, a bookshelf is case of spellbooks, a certain kind of magic, the primary medium, music, idea based SF vs. cozy based mystery solving, politicize Dick’s works, the worst sin she commits, pure escapism, detached relationships, there’s a wall all the way through it, a big circle, skating along the perimeter, look for the things that aren’t there, children, all adult children, Hallowe’en Party, Mr Jim Moon’s Halloween researches, a wonderful childhood, the money went away, WWI pilot, a little too attractive, he’s too pretty, that famous disappearance, the darkest incident in a person’s life, public crisis, so guarded in her interview, the worst incident in Philip K. Dick’s life, the lowest point of people’s lives, a very very very famous writer, a fulfilling life, a life well led, the adaptations, Japanese mysteries, the audio drama vs. the TV adaptation, really well put together, seeing the mustache, whole mediums come in, Maissa’s audio drama video, a poolside infodump, Big Finish, the modern novel is showing some signs of wear, new technologies, a VR story industry, streamer media, Twitch, what the kids are doing, kind of like podcasting in realtime, celebrities, content creators, Deadmau5, Dr DisRespect, performing and talking, whatever medium in 50 or 60 years they’ll be doing documentaries about these people, not only for children, livestreaming, drawing, a new medium, magazines, what we imagined 2019 would be like, it was not this, the war is barely there in the book, adaptions play up the war, she plays down the war, The Mousetrap is excellent, a great sense of humour, everybody did it.

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #515 – AUDIOBOOK: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #515 – The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie, read by Maureen O’Brien:.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (8 hours 4 minutes) comes to us courtesy of MariaLectrix.

The Mysterious Affair At Styles was first published as a serial in The Times, February 1920.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

AVON - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

AVON - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie - MAP OF STYLES

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #443 – READALONG: Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #432 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa VU, talk about Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1969, the third most popular PKD novel, not much new in here, a lot more costumes, very familiar things, a pretty good book, the top half of the bottom half, for Dick connoisseurs like us, a tonne of Philip K. Dick, the end of the most lucid stage, things are starting to slide, conapts, strange realities, mysterious forces, a relatively coherent whole (except for the last chapter), we’ve done 40 episodes on Philip K. Dick, thank you, a Ubik ad, one of the first Philip K. Dick books Marissa read, well put together, loving this crazy guy’s writing, a different appreciation, What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick, Virgil Finlay illustrations, this novel contains one page of that novelette, some crossover, names and concepts, no Joe Chip, amazing illustrations, a lot fewer angry wives, “wife”, become my wife, now you’re just a girl, that scene where some guy comes by with a girlfriend for the main character, Lord Runningclam, you’re depressed you need a girlfriend, G.G. Ashwood, on coffee and cigarettes and speed, a nice big fat commission, a sad sack Dick protagonist, Galactic Pot-Healer, so many connections, who is the Glimmung in this book?, strange messages on packages, notes, Ubik is the Glimmung, a thing or a tool?, a McGuffin, a random line, “I am”, God talking (from the Bible), one of those bathroom revelations, I am alive!, Chapter 17, “before the universe was, I am,” my name is never spoken, I am called Ubik, the little bon mots at the beginning over every chapter, “only as directed”, Christ Sally!, but now – wow!, the enterphone, my apartment’s a mess, a vague memory of going shopping the night before, the conapt’s super-maket, a green ration stamp, all drugs, expensive coffee, soporific, ubiquitous throughout the novel, in our higher moments, drug induced experiences of god, Ubik as an anti-psychedelic, legit, his novel is decaying, the world is regressing, Runciter, amphetamines, delusion and paranoia, Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick, ubik reifies reality, after the explosion on the moon who is alive and who is dead?, are they all in coldpac?, is the entire novel a false world?, the facile answer, the central attraction of the novel, managing the question, a screenplay, skillfully done, Solar Lottery, an anti-telepath, the twitching of the bottle, feeling the echoes, Eye In The Sky, Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie, a bomb, Impostor by Philip K. Dick, the bevatron novel (Eye In The Sky), Deus Irae by Philip K. Dick and Roger Zelazny, they’re all merging into one, Time Out Of Joint, recycling, somehow it still works, all the pieces fit together, good writing, comedy, horror, The Cookie Lady, a little boy named Bubber, a retelling of Hansel and Gretel without Gretel, a bundle of rags and a tumbleweed, the sick my duck website, Chapter 16, fades, “an evening wind rustled at him”, a real feeling, super-coffee, perked up, he let his unconscious take over early in the book, the Hour 25 interview, $0.06 for every novel sold, Ubik my dear sir, Gresham’s law, Ubik The Screenplay, 1985, a digital ebook, he’s kind of like us, reinterpreting his own work, visual metaphors, being told what you’re seeing, clothing description, playing up against the retro elements, 1939 -1933, dressing like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band members, captain’s hats, when Pat comes, she starts taking her clothes off right away, you don’t remember, hence this, her breasts wagging forward, take-off, electric yellow cummerbund, knee hugging hose, gauntlets, “Gosh Jill, I wish I knew what was wrong with me lately”, inertia inertial, tousled woolly hair, luminous gypsy, jangled taughtness, wagging a goatish beard, gold lame trousers, kelp green minty blouse, cowboy chaps, a weak nosed young man in a maxi-skirt, hippie-fashion, green and tumbled stones (for eyes), tumbled eyes, tumbling black hair, is it a mistake or something he’s coding into the book, eye-colour changes, tipped me, here’s what good is and here’s what bad is, genocide is a bad thing, increase the amount of suffering make more things that can suffer, getting eaten or crushed by a rock, it doesn’t end well for any piece of life, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker books, kinda makes sense, H.P. Lovecraft, The Turning Wheel, life is suffering, escaping from the cycle, life is the only thing in the universe that is anti-entropic, trying to fight entropy, God is the one who created life in the mythology, hence all the suffering, the demiurge, what half of PKD novels seem to be about, a booster-strap for life itself, the sub-worlds of Runciter, the final narrator, the Gnostic interpretation of Ubik, a coin with Joe Chip’s face on it, Inception is the movie adaptation of this, The Matrix, time is frozen, coldpac and moratorium, we’ve seen that in other Dick novels, racist, Dr. Futurity?, there sitting to close together in the freezer, The Crack In Space, escaping from entropy, the fundamental grounding, the Gaurdian article: it’s squishy, there’s no firm ground, life is very problematic, the horror of entropy, never a permanent solution, the DNA breaks down, fiction, especially novels can be preserved, the preservation of the text is like the preservation of DNA, finding the earliest publication, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Valley Of Unrest, as time goes by in the publication industry people fiddle with stuff, italics, a poem is a super concentrated story, each sentence is an image, Jesse do you like pizza?, who likes pizza is the question, the question of the correct text, a novel is a fixed thing, does the font effect it?, formatting, outside of our reality, a way of preserving history, in a meta-context, he’s holding some ubik in his hand and it starts regressing, the changing context showing there’s no escape from the dread horror of entropy, we don’t want it to change anymore, constructing it on the fly, coins at the beginning, her special psychic power is to change reality in the past, some politician coming on to TV to talk about What Happened, is that really what happened?, our default is to just believe what we hear, we believe our sense, we start with believing our senses, everything is deceiving including our memories, if everyone around us in believing it, if everyone is delusional, they have to hang together, their tomb world, another TOMB WORLD!, invoking the name: Palmer Eldritch, what is an S. Dole Melipone?, he doesn’t know what he’s doing yet, the entire last chapter:

Chapter 17
I am Ubik. Before the universe was, I am. I made the suns. I made the worlds. I created the lives and the places they inhabit; I move them here, I put them there. They go as I say, they do as I tell them. I am the word and my name is never spoken, the name which no one knows. I am called Ubik, but that is not my name. I am. I shall always be.

Glen Runciter could not find the moratorium owner.

“Are you sure you don’t know where he is?” Runciter asked Miss Beason, the moratorium owner’s secretary. “It’s essential that I talk to Ella again.”

“I’ll have her brought out,” Miss Beason said. “You may use office 4-B; please wait there, Mr. Runciter; I will have your wife for you in a very short time. Try to make yourself comfortable.”

Locating office 4-B, Runciter paced about restlessly. At last a moratorium attendant appeared, wheeling in Ella’s casket on a handtruck. “Sorry to keep you waiting,” the attendant said; he began at once to set up the electronic communing mechanism, humming happily as he worked.

In short order the task was completed. The attendant checked the circuit one last time, nodded in satisfaction, then started to leave the office.

“This is for you,” Runciter said, and handed him several fifty-cent pieces which he had scrounged from his various pockets. “I appreciate the rapidity with which you accomplished the job.”

“Thank you, Mr. Runciter,” the attendant said. He glanced at the coins, then frowned. “What kind of money is this?” he said.

Runciter took a good long look at the fifty-cent pieces. He saw at once what the attendant meant; very definitely, the coins were not as they should be. Whose profile is this? he asked himself. Who’s this on all three coins? Not the right person at all. And yet he’s familiar. I know him.

And then he recognized the profile. I wonder what this means, he asked himself. Strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Most things in life eventually can be explained. But – Joe Chip on a fifty-cent piece?

It was the first Joe Chip money he had ever seen.

He had an intuition, chillingly, that if he searched his pockets, and his billfold, he would find more.

This was just the beginning.

ravelling around Runciter, Jesse casts a spell: Counter-Clock World,

“I was dreaming,” Ella said. “I saw a smoky red light, a horrible light. And yet I kept moving toward it. I couldn’t stop.”

“Yeah,” Runciter said, nodding. “The Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of the Dead, tells about that. You remember reading that; the doctors made you read it when you were-” He hesitated. “Dying,” he said then.

“The smoky red light is bad, isn’t it?” Ella said.

“Yeah, you want to avoid it.” He cleared his throat. “Listen, Ella, we’ve got problems. You feel up to hearing about it? I mean, I don’t want to overtax you or anything; just say if you’re too tired or if there’s something else you want to hear about or discuss.”

“It’s so weird. I think I’ve been dreaming all this time, since you last talked to me. Is it really two years? Do you know, Glen, what I think? I think that other people who are around me – we seem to be progressively growing together. A lot of my dreams aren’t about me at all. Sometimes I’m a man and sometimes a little boy; sometimes I’m an old fat woman with varicose veins… and I’m in places I’ve never seen, doing things that make no sense.”

“Well, like they say, you’re heading for a new womb to be born out of. And that smoky red light – that’s a bad womb; you don’t want to go that way. That’s a humiliating, low sort of womb. You’re probably anticipating your next life, or whatever it is.” He felt foolish, talking like this; normally he had no theological convictions. But the half-life experience was real and it had made theologians out of all of them. “Hey,” he said, changing the subject. “Let me tell you what’s happened, what made me come here and bother you. S. Dole Melipone has dropped out of sight.”

A moment of silence, and then Ella laughed. “Who or what is an S. Dole Melipone? There can’t be any such thing.” The laugh, the unique and familiar warmth of it, made his spine tremble; he remembered that about her, even after so many years. He had not heard Ella’s laugh in over a decade.

“Maybe you’ve forgotten,” he said.

Ella said, “I haven’t forgotten; I wouldn’t forget an S. Dole Melipone. Is it like a hobbit?”

consulting the dead in order to make corporate decisions, we just drop it, what’s he visiting her for, there’s no business in this book at all, the business of being alive, an excuse to go to Switzerland and see his dead wife, step-up your TV ads, you need to send off more manuscripts, Ella, it’s a cryogenics book, it’s all bullshit, it’s just a way of avoiding death, if you’re living in a half-life, fundamentally there’s a really weird long part of the interview that’s pretty interesting, how the Soviet Union that had scientists that wanted to talk to him, from the Soviet embassy, I played dumb, classic Dick, A Scanner Darkly, he’s both the drug deal and the drug cop, he’s informing on himself, worlds inside worlds, to connect it to our reality, we only have access to the constructs of reality, What It Is Like To Be A Bat?, swapping genders, Philip K. Dick creating these characters, if you have a fixed text you can escape from your shared reality, it isn’t as squishy as regular reality, its only you who change between readings (we hope), the anomalies are the clues, that wouldn’t negate the point, after the explosion when they’re all on the Pratfall II, Glen Runciter’s POV, his transparent plastic casket,

Removing the plastic disk from its place, its firm adhesion to his ear, Glen Runciter said into the microphone, “I’ll talk to you again later.” He now set down all the communications apparatus, rose stiffly from the chair and momentarily stood facing the misty, immobile, icebound shape of Joe Chip resting within its transparent plastic casket. Upright and silent, as it would be for the rest of eternity.

Sarapis, plastic rosebuds, “A man that vital. And vitalic.”, that’s a weird error, upright, her sagacity, a wisdom not based on knowledge and experience, maybe the whole thing is in Ella’s world, the cop with little blonde pig-tails and red shoes, she’s changing characters, maybe they all fit together, the Technovelgy website, artiforg = artificial organs (also artificial and forged) = a fake fake, automatic apartment maintenance, homeopapes are Twitter feeds, high gossip vs. low gossip, physiognomic template, a tranquilizing gum, amazing technobabble:

“What is Ubik?” Joe said, wanting her to stay.

“A spray can of Ubik,” the girl answered, “is a portable negative ionizer, with a self-contained, high-voltage, low-amp unit powered by a peak-gain helium battery of 25kv. The negative ions are given a counter-clockwise spin by a radically biased acceleration chamber, which creates a centripetal tendency to them so that they cohere rather than dissipate. A negative ion field diminishes the velocity of anti-protophasons normally present in the atmosphere; as soon as their velocity falls they cease to be anti-protophasons and, under the principle of parity, no longer can unite with protophasons radiated from persons frozen in cold-pac; that is, those in half-life. The end result is that the proportion of protophasons not canceled by anti-protophasons increases, which means – for a specific time, anyhow – an increment in the net put-forth field of protophasonic activity… which the affected half-lifer experiences as greater vitality plus a lowering of the experience of low cold-pac temperatures. So you can see why regressed forms of Ubik failed to-”

Joe said reflexively, “To say ‘negative ions’ is redundant. All ions are negative.”

complete bullshit, this is how people buy products, all that babble mixed with the Amazing promises, Deepak Chopra, self-criticizing, chapter 16:

Under a streetlight he held up the spray can of Ubik, read the printing on the label.
I THINK HER NAME IS MYRA LANEY, LOOK ON REVERSE SIDE OF CONTAINER FOR ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER.

“Thanks,” Joe said to the spray can. We are served by organic ghosts, he thought, who, speaking and writing, pass through this our new environment. Watching, wise, physical ghosts from the full-life world, elements of which have become for us invading but agreeable splinters of a substance that pulsates like a former heart. And of all of them, he thought, thanks to Glen Runciter. In particular. The writer of instructions, labels and notes. Valuable notes.

like the Glimmung, Jesus: Don’t worry guys I’m going away for a while buyt I’ll be back!, they are Jesus for each other, the Inception situation, there’s no top level, there’s only the outside of the book, the writer is dead (Dick) but he’s in half-life becasuue we can read his book, maybe we’re all dead, Ubik is real!, Jesse’s Satoshi Nakamura theory, why graphics cards are so expensive, video cards are reality simulators, BitCoin, he’s gone dark, Satoshi Nakamura is a benevolent AI trying to fix our world, economic theory, an indefeatable unstoppable way to subvert the power of the banks, like the Glimmung, it’s not all powerful, it’s just an AI, it’s a demiurge of some-kind, kind of what Neuromancer is, the end of True Names by Vernor Vinge, Neuromancer also has a half-life in the form of a hacker on a ROM-chip (Dixie Flatline), thanks for helping me pull this heist, turn me off, a completely different kind of writer dealing with the same kind of stuff, hack to hard, episode 136, while trying to crack an AI, the lesson for Runciter, does it even matter what the status, it’s the old trick, the best trick there is, he’s always pulling the same exact move and you see it coming, getting close to book length, the swerve, curling back on itself, peak Dick, most popular Philip K. Dick books in order of popularity, Martian Time-Slip, what you’ve read of him before, Evan Lampe’s American Writers: One Hundred Pages At A Time podcast, how Philip K. Dick is always thinking about the frontier, the horror world, The Father Thing, The Simulacra, The Pentultimate Truth, the big surprise Now Wait For Last Year, Valis, the titles all flow together, the alternate titles for Ubik: Death Of An Anti-Watcher a new spin on the last chapter?, who is dead?, One theory: everybody died except for Runciter, The Half Life Of An Anti-Watcher?, a story about a dead-guy: Runciter, Runciter is the main character, the pixie-like Pat, maybe she is Ella as an older woman, there’s no answer here, who is that Ubik girl, ultimately Marissa and Jesse are figments of Paul’s imagination, this is Philip K. Dick doing Philip K. Dick.

Blackstone Audio - Ubik by Philip K. Dick

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

What The Dead Men Say by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Virgil Finlay

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #428 – READALONG: Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

Podcast
Lawrence Block's Burglars Can't Be Choosers
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #428 – Jesse and Maissa Bessada talk about Burglars Can’t Be Choosers by Lawrence Block.

Talked about on today’s show:
1977, a Matt Scudder book: A Walk Among Among The Tombstones, cut-up women, he most brutal book Maissa’s ever read, sex, comedy and mystery, a treasure hunt, little gems, is that ever cool!, the 2 cassette audiobook (heavily abridged), just under six hours, it percolated along, coffee drinking, word humour and word play, why I love to read Lawrence Block books, 11 books in the series, 4 short stories, percolating dialogue, an Agatha Christie style mystery, Lawrence Block is an excellent narrator, you’re intellectually engaged, turning the horror of crime into a cozy murder mystery, a magician, sleight of hand, false directions, The Purloined Letter, the Blackstone Audio afterword, maybe I’ll try crime, everything you see on the page is Block’s brain, sparkling personality, Bernie doesn’t age, his burglar charms, Ruth Hightower, you can call me Roger, subsequent books, a front for a burglary business, Block’s dialogue and writing, the whole back end, seeing things we’re not allowed to see, what is happening?, the psychology of the character is a mystery to himself, Carolyn the lesbian poodle groomer, Carolyn is the Watson to Bernie’s Sherlock, it always was a parody, that love of books, contemplating a life of crime, Robin Hood, what kind of dog?, maybe a stuffed dog, no shedding, it’s obvious who the murderer is, carefully set like a jewel, a lot is unconscious, Ruth’s the murderer, suspects, some lurker in the shadows, how small New York is, it fits to Agatha Christie neat, that’s the genre, he’s playing totally by the Hal Clement rules, Mission Of Gravity, Two If By Sea, putting all the evidence before us, a particular hobby horse, The Burglar Who Liked To Quote Kipling, Kipling, The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, Piet Mondrian, baseball, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, The Burglar In The Library, locked room murder mystery, The Burglar In The Rye, The Burglar Who Counted Spoons, told in first person, Like A Thief In The Night, A Bad Night For Burglars, from this character’s point of view, fitting in to one area of art or collecting, this is the theater one, everybody’s an actor, everybody in the book has another name or a hidden identity, Lauren, the 85 bucks, a burglar code of ethics, “I never believed in overlooking cash”, choices, the cop costume, which one is the real burglar?, they totally switch, Wesley Brill, playing “the heavy”, he’s lost his skill, this is the book where he gets his skill back, writing fiction is a kind of magic, losing the magic, Lawrence Block is always retiring from writing, staying in hotels, breaking into his own hotel room, writers who write for a living, Bernie’s lifestyle is Block’s lifestyle, going through a divorce, moving to California, an amazing soup of goodness, he’s a soup fiend, he’s also the “Man In The Middle”, Russian dolls, why isn’t this book much better known, Burglar (1987), gender swapped, Bobcat Goldthwait, too much in the words, it would make a great comic, imagery, exposition is not great for comics, a Hercule Poirot ending, Penguin Audio audiobooks, Richard Ferrone’s narration, Recorded Books, masks, Roger Armitage, they’re lying to each other, call me “Wes”, John Wesley, oh there you are!, fake names, really recognizable, how you know someone, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, The Maltese Falcon (1941), two guys looking for the bird, the rara avis, the pear shaped man, a pre-telling, Ms. Brill by Katherine Mansfield, an ESL teacher in France, creating an internal life, an active imagination, moth powder, his yacht, a fried whiting, a flounder, a fox stole, honey cake, Maissa misread it, Reading, Short And Deep, Julie Hoverson’s narration of Ms. Brill, a little box room, Lawrence Block were you inspired by Katherine Mansfield’s story…?: No., a brill is a fish, the ermine toque = fur hat, knocked on the nose, everything is reflecting everything else, without even having read it, echoes of brill, Goldilocks, archetypes, Bernie assumes Ruth has a husband, Ellie, cheating, the ultimate woman, Darla Sandoval, he hasn’t cheated…yet, his cop costume, you don’t even need those burglar’s tools, a break in as a sexual thing, the ability to open locks, modelling a life on Bernie Rhodenbarr, locks and keys, how many passwords, one password, power and speed, a ream of keys, access, keys are responsibilities that weigh you down, physically and metaphorically, memorization, having lockpicks, lockpicking, water my plants, his burglary life, Mrs. Hesh, power is attractive, like sexual triumph, tumblers finishing, he doesn’t want it to be too clear, on the tip of understanding, “I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you all here”, Rex Stout, Raymond Chandler, a true consulting detective, Archie Goodwin, Nero Wolfe is a cogitating machine, perfect recall, fine living, food, a reveal, parceled out, we get all of the story, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle getting bored of the form, we are Bernie’s Watson, The Silver Blaze, he totally cheated us, cheating, honest cheating cops, the person behind everything, the second gun, triggering, a real play?, second cabbie, James Garner, “Sound Of Distant Drums”, phrases, things that suggest, suggesting rather than saying, a certain feeling, Block is a master manipulator, you flinched, he charmed me out a lot of money, playing a role from the very beginning, he’s an actor, really great, incredibly enjoyable, examining the furniture, shaking out the books, so much in there, intellectual exercise, whodunit?, if you want to know about Watergate now’s the time to read about it, wait twenty years, a good mystery novel gives you all the facts, I feel like Ray Kirschmann, we were totally cheated, a bed is a bed is a bed, no bed of roses, set apart from our world, everybody smokes, no internet, cellphones, computers, answering services, the world has been transformed, visiting a simpler time, sexism of the period is quaint, slightly askew.

POCKET BOOKS - Burglars Can't Be Choosers by Lawrence Block

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

Podcast

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #308 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain

Podcast

A Double Barrelled Detective Story
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #308 – A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain; read by John Greenman. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 58 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Paul Weimer.

Talked about on today’s show:
January and February 1902, a one man machine, why don’t people like this story, acerbic humour, puncturing sacred cows (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes), chance and chaos vs. logic and reason, Tom Sawyer, Detective, Mark Twain’s detective fiction, real life detectives are completely incompetent, Pinkertons, corruption, early private detectives as upholding the system, post-WWII detectives, noir, an uneasy triangle, a rogue agent for justice, how ridiculous Sherlock Holmes is, Sherlock Holmes’s brother runs the British government?, Sherlock does the retail and Mycroft does the wholesale, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) , Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), if Watson is not there to tell us…, Without A Clue (1988), humble-bragging, the crime doctor, Remington Steele, when the miners deflate Sherlock Holmes, oh yes he’s died many times, the smell of the grave, yet another revival, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, San Bernardino, unkillable, unstaydeadable, how meta this story was, “the great detective narratives”, one of Twain’s autobiographies,

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind Nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

is that a typo?, so many readers didn’t see they were being made fun of, we eat so much bullshit, a parody of everything, epistolary writing, perspective change, the shotgun approach to satire, Fetlock Jones, an obscure English Christan name, pain for all eternity, Melbourne, a travelogue, the great detectives were monsters hounding innocent people, the expectations of the townspeople and the reader, the movements of Holmes’ hands, ravaged by bloodhounds, a superpower, a superhero, the 1965 movie adaptation, a miscreant boss, marriage, revenge, Sherlock Holmes’ American adventures, The Valley Of Fear is a Sherlock Holmes story that begins and ends with Holmes in his bathrobe, The Five Orange Pips, the KKK!, Doyle’s embarrassment by Holmes, Hard Case Crime, a youthful embarrassment, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), Galaxy Quest (1999), fan service,

“What a curious thing a detective story is, was there ever one that the author needn’t be ashamed of, except Murders In The Rue Morgue?”

C. Auguste Dupin, earlier detective stories, The Dog And The Horse by Voltaire, Zadig’s super-observance, punishment for honesty, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Drood by Dan Simmons, Moonmist, Infocom, Agatha Christie, Doctor Who: The Unicorn And The Wasp, Tommy and Tuppence, The Pretender, UPN, Brandon Sanderson, the mystery story, as readers of Sherlock Holmes we feel that we could be like Sherlock Holmes, finger stains and muddy boots and walking sticks with bite marks from Alsatians, Ham Sandwich, Wells Fargo, training you powers of deduction, The Librarian TV movies and The Librarians TV series, a superpower that real people (think) they could have, Doyle’s story on the origin of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell ding ding ding, Murder Rooms, instant diagnosis of disease, predictions vs. diagnosis, web M.D., gout!, Benjamin Franklin, House, M.D., The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Aluminum Crutch, The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, bad special effects and great writing is preferable to good special effects and shit writing, a little more juice, Murdoch Mysteries (Season 8, Episode 6: “The Murdoch Appreciation Society”), a parallel to the Twain novel, the many cameos by historical figures, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, how interesting the time period was, telegraph technology, the attention to detail is very high, modern Doctor Who elevates relationships over facts about history whereas historical facts are foremost in the Murdoch Mysteries, The Newsroom, as we gain perspective on history…, we know what was going on 100 years ago, why Jesse hates modern Doctor Who, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Corey Carrier’s Indiana Jones, seeing Ernest Hemingway over time, the belle epoch

Stillman accuses Sherlock Holmes (1903) illustration by F. Luis Mora

A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain - Stillman Accuses Sherlock Holmes

Posted by Jesse Willis