The SFFaudio Podcast #166 – TOPIC: SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World)

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #166 – Jesse, Luke Burrage, and Eric S. Rabkin discuss, at length, the SFF FORMS (Short Story, Novella, Novellete, Novel, Fix-up, Trilogy, World). Here’s the premise:

Science Fiction Forms: Short Story, Novella, Fix-Up, Novel, Trilogy, and World. Respectively, they might be exemplified thus: Short Story (“Mars Is Heaven!“), Novella (“Flowers for Algernon“), Fix-Up (The Martian Chronicles, which contains a revised version of “Mars Is Heaven!” or The Seedling Stars, Accelerando, and Beggars In Spain, all of which began as novellas), Novel (originals, like 1984, and derivatives like Flowers for Algernon or Varley’s novel Millennium coming from his short story “Air Raid“), Trilogy (original Foundation series), World (the ultimate Foundation world or Heinlein’s Future History [shared with others] or Banks’s Culture or LeGuin’s Hainish series [created just for the authors, but let’s not forget about fan fiction]). What are the special challenges and rewards in reading and writing in these diverse forms? What special challenges or rewards attend on reusing material in another form? Is the formal plasticity of SF unique among literary genres?

Talked about on today’s show:
Eric’s suggestion, literature with a capital “L”, The Dead by James Joyce, The Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Luke’s Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, the format, the themes, the variability of short story form, the feghoot, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Accelerando, Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, The Tower Of Babel, stripped away vs. embellished to the nth degree, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Understand by Ted Chiang, The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, The Black Cat, fantasy, the unexplicit story, valid reactions, the etymology of “text”, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, a persuasive existential journey, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, San Fransisco, short stories as objects of frivolity or training, the brilliance of an idea is not always enough, a novel can act as a community to an individual, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury vs. The Fireman by Ray Bradbury, is the novel inherently more participatory than a short story?, the failure of technology vs. the power of nature, The Masque Of The Red Death, teaching Science Fiction with short stories and novels, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame (Volume 1), the composite novel, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, A.E. van Vogt, the fix-up, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Lobsters by Charles Stross, the cat changes function, “an intellectual framework”, Robert A. Heinlein’s future history, the composite novel, Isaac Asimov, future history vs. psychohistory, Michael Moorcock, I, Robot, Robbie, the three laws, Stephen Byerly and Susan Calvin, unAsimovian assumptions, the full dose of SF, Reason, The Evitable Conflict, is Stephen Byerly a robot or a man?, the Mérode Altarpiece (a medieval iconographic trope), art history, Luke doesn’t think Asimov is that clever, R. Daneel Olivaw, the three laws are fairytale laws, positronic brains are positive, the three laws are for people (not just robots), The Bicentennial Man, Asimov’s powers, Asimov’s business acumen, Brandon Sanderson, shared worlds, gods, Mormonism, Daniel Clowes, The Death Ray, Elantris, “The Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durrell, reading The Martian Chronicles backwards, Luke’s fiction, Alastair Reynolds, Sherlock Holmes, Baker Street Irregulars, whodunit ain’t the attraction, The Adventure Of The Speckled Band, a matter of cutting, A Clockwork Orange, it’s better without the extra chapter, the commercial effect (or the effect of commercialism), popular literature, the flabby novel, Robert J. Sawyer, Hominids, Calculating God, William Shakespeare, The Royal Ontario Museum, horse evolution, God needs a starship!?, where to find a paleontologist, “a hundred pages of nothing happening”, a circular argument, writing to the story’s demands, Kevin J. Anderson, commercial constraints shouldn’t be points of pride, the thickness of books, The Lord Of The Rings, does more succinct = more better?, novellas are novels with threads missing?, The Hobbit, the ambition of the author, Luke is rejecting the basic premise, The Stand by Stephen King, is it a better story short or long?, changes and updates and additional material, don’t let Asimov near a typewriter unless you want something written, Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke, The City And The Stars, expanding everything, Monster Story, “it came to me in a dream”, Minding Tomorrow, Nightfall (the short story) vs. Nightfall (the novel), “it’s a lot like a perfectly nice novel that eventually becomes a masterpiece”, The Lion of Comarre, it’s not a commercial podcast, a civil rowdiness, Eric’s Coursera course: Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, rechunking, forums, essays, 18,000 registered students, University of Michigan, only the competitors are qualified to judge the competitors, a history of the U.S. Civil War, Luke’s kitchen, grades, “there is no absolute abstract grade for anything”, Science Fiction and Politics (Courtney Brown), the governor of a steam engine, Luke confuses two professors, “yes, by golly, that was a very good thing of it’s kind”, The Odyssey by Homer, a foundational classic, The Bible, the Benjamin Franklin bible, there should be an SFBRP review of The Odyssey, Luke’s Matthew Mark Luke Skywalker, Star Wars, Joseph Campbell, time for coffee!

The Mérode Altarpiece

Startling Stories, November 1948 - Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 11 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Against The Fall Of Night by Arthur C. Clarke (page 12 and 13 of Startling Stories, November 1948)

Posted by Jesse Willis

SFBRP #152: Time Travel Special, part 2 – Isaac Asimov’s – The End Of Eternity

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast Episode #152 of The Science Fiction Book Review Podcast is a discussion of Isaac Asimov’s The End Of Eternity. It’s also a follow-up to the previous time travel episode (#151). Luke and I discuss the book and related time travel tales.

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Podcast feed: http://www.sfbrp.com/?feed=podcast

Discussed on the show:
A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, a flexible chronology, Luke’s first Isaac Asimov review for SFBRP, Robert A. Heinlein, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov (and Robert Silverberg) is bad, Isaac Asimov has ideas to spare, the Wikipedia entry for The End Of Eternity, “what clever idea can I use, in time travel, that hasn’t been used before”, time loops, time barriers, “are you your own grandpa?”, Poul Anderson’s time corps, bureaucracy, how does time travel work?, time travel is discovered, eternity is a place outside of time, powering a time travel technology is easy if you can time travel, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, the “kettle”, Ray Bradbury’s A Sound Of Thunder, A Gun For Dinosaur by L. Sprague de Camp, time lords?, Adjustment Team by Philip K. Dick, Back To The Future, remembering the works of culture and developments in realities that no longer exist, 13 different versions of the complete works of William Shakespeare, the academic background of professorial jockeying, are there two different endings for The End Of Eternity?, being outside of time, “the outside of the inside of eternity”, the malleability of reality through time travel, a limited butterfly effect, the inertia of history, killing Hitler, William The Conqueror vs. King Harold Godwinson, Genghis Kahn’s descendants, computers (the vocation) vs. computers (the devices), technicians don’t get any respect, “They feel an unspoken collective guilt which causes them to scapegoat the ‘Technicians’, the experts who actually execute Reality Changes by doing something that will alter the flow of events.”, a caste system, Minding Tomorrow by Luke Burrage, making changes by setting your mind to it, Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Harlan is a bit of a dim bulb, Demolition Man, time travel as a secret (paralleling magic as a secret), The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, mutable realities, the grandfather paradox, unmanipulated reality, alternate history, Sidewise In Time by Murray Leinster, later Heinlein novels, unrestricted freedom in multiple realities can be extremely disheartening, Groundhog Day, infinite universes are boring, By His Bootstraps by Robert A. Heinlein, All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, making a knot out of your own timeline, giving a young William Shakespeare a copy of The Complete Works Of Shakespeare, motherless objects and motherless ideas, giving your younger self an object (or advice), multiple timelines, “if that’s possible then that’s not possible”, time traveller’s convention, BoingBoing’s time travelers (I and II), European Juggling Convention 2003, Time Travel #2 Advanced Time Travel Techniques, Paradoxes For Beginners, Harlan Ellison, Murder At The ABA by Isaac Asimov, Darius Dust (dry as dust), Tales Of The Black Widowers, sexism, women are not suitable time travelers, an apocryphal tale of the Obamas, energy bodies, sending a message from the past to the future, you have an energy body but paper magazines?, a future vs. the future, The Door Into Summer, Escape Pod’s recording of All You Zombies, Asimovian characters, The End Of Eternity is about Earth, House Of Suns by Alastair Reynolds, something so big and so mind bogglingly complex, SFFaudio Podcast #073 George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides, “Gregg Margarite and that other guy (Jesse) are losers”, batshit theories, Eric S. Rabkin, Adam and Eve, fairy tales, sex, “the unconscious does exist”, Luke’s original fiction, “we do these podcasts for ourselves”, interesting bullshit, Luke’s Creative Podcast (with Gregg Margarite), “make your own podcast if you don’t like one.”

Ed Emshwiller cover illustration of Isaac Asimov's The End Of Eternity

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: MP3-CD Audiobooks (old and new)

SFFaudio Commentary

The video below is a quick exploration of the MP3-CD audiobook format. It’s my favourite format for physical audiobooks. The packaging is small, the files are ready to be used, and they are cheaper audiobooks than their regular CD equivalent. The only disadvantage to the MP3-CD format is they don’t play on all CD players, and the ones they do play on may limit the volume output.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #135 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #135 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Year’s Top Short SF Novels edited by Allan Kaster, including “Return to Titan” by Stephen Baxter (set in the Xeelee Sequence), “Jackie’s-Boy” by Steven Popkes, “The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles, “A History of Terraforming” by Robert Reed, “Several Items of Interest” by Rick Wilber, and “Troika” by Alastair Reynolds.  Two were finalists for the Hugo Award this year.  The Seven Cities of Gold is also a video game!

Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley, narrated by the amazing Bronson Pinchot. Originally published serially as “Time Killer” in Galaxy Science Fiction (1960).  Jesse wants to do this as a readalong, but Jenny wants something newer than 1960.

Earth Strike: Star Carrier, Book One by Ian Douglas.  Tamahome is a sucker for space, and this is the first of two books that are available in Audible.  Scott doesn’t care much for military sci-fi, but didn’t mind Starship Troopers, Ender’s Game, and Forever Peace.  What matter is the focus – Scott is looking for a good story, which is hard to find.  “Too much science?” Deep Space Nine.  “Not all Muslims are fanatic, lieutenant…” Is it too politically correct?  Tamahome is a sucker for women who kick ass too, this is right up his alley!

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, also Sputnik Sweetheart, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, A Wild Sheep Chase, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, After Dark.  46 hour commitment for the audio book, originally published as three separate volumes.  Jenny can’t stop reading it!  Aomame = “green peas.”  Publisher says it is a love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, and a dystopia to rival George Orwell.  Tamahome heard that Q sounds like “nine” in Japanese.  Don’t read too much Murakami in a row! Look for cats and spaghetti.

Five books by Philip K. Dick from Brilliance Audio – The Divine InvasionNow Wait for Last Year, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, The Simulacra, and Lies, Inc.  More details in Dick’s newly published journal, Exegesis. Reading about authors vs. just reading their work.  East of Eden on A Good Story is Hard to Find and Steinbeck’s novel journal.  Jesse relates more to life in the suburbs. Rewrite of “The Unteleported Man.”  Gregg Margarite discussed Exegesis on his podcast – “a lot of work to slog through.”

Lots of collections from Brilliance Audio – Wild Cards edited by George R. R. Martin, Wild Cards II: Aces High edited by George R. R. Martin, Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin, and Down These Strange Streets edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. We complained about lack of contents and Brilliance has started including them – thank you!  Up next – contents printed on specific discs. George R. R. Martin is spending his time on anthologies because he is not your bitch!  Warriors anthology is cross-genre. Someone should make an audio book of Best of the Best edited by Gardner Dozois.  Tamahome likes “Trinity” by Nancy Kress, but the print in the book is too tiny for anyone over 40.

Manhattan in Reverse by Peter F. Hamilton. Only available outside of the United States, queue proprietary publisher rant by the SFF Audio crew, in fact Jenny posted a sassy one in her blog. Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct detective novels and a reimagined New York City.  Robert E. Howard does a similar thing with countries.  Perfectly genetically engineered female cops (Paula Myo from the Commonwealth Saga) end up with personal problems.

Two picks for post-apocalypse fans – Swan Song by Robert McCammon and A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  Swan Song is highly rated.  Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon has been recommended to Scott multiple times.  Swan Song reminds Jenny of The Stand with a promise of fantastical elements. Destiny’s Road also comes out December 1.  Death and destruction ends in rejoicing!

Angry Robot and Brilliance Audio have published seven novels that Scott previously posted aboutDarkness Falling by Peter Crowther, Debris by Jo Anderton, Moxyland by Lauren Beukes, Reality 36 by Guy Haley, Roll: The Nightbound Land by Troy Jamieson, Triumff: Her Majesty’s Hero by Dan Abnett, and Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Jenny heard Lauren Beukes on Writing Excuses, and Tamahome heard she won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Zoo City. Reality 36 has a pie fetish? Oh PI fetish. Tamahome likes cyberspace but not LARPing, John Anealio wrote an Angry Robot Theme song, What is wild magic? Maybe quail.  Angry Robot is doing interesting stuff, also won the World Fantasy Award for professionals in the field this year, and they are doing eBooks the right way.

The Cold Commands by Richard K. Morgan. Jesse will read books out of spite. “Dude! Your homophobia is calling.” “It’s fiction, not you!” From Tamahome’s second tier – Nothing to Lose: The Adventures of Captain Nothing by Steve Vernon.  Some confusion which should be cleared up when it is released.  Something may have been lost in the translation from the Nova Scotian. Might be like Dark Knight, except for actually being a bad guy.  Batman finding his voice, Batman vs. the Clown. The Folded World by Catherynne M. Valente (A Dirge for Prester John #2) – “she writes with the original unicorns.”  “That’s probably because she doesn’t actually have a head.” The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherill.  One of the Neil Gaiman Presents titles.  “The Minotaur sits on an empty pickle bucket….” Anything like American Gods? Realistic restaurant world portrayal. All Clear by Connie Willis, half of this year’s Hugo Award.  Pavane by Keith Roberts is another Neil Gaiman Presents title.  Alternate history and steampunk?  Other novels of loosely related stories – Kirinyaga by Mike Resnick, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Voyage of the Space Beagle by A. E. van Gogt. Light by M. John Harrison – Tamahome finds it to be “unpleasant” between the masturbating and the killing.  Why is this one of Neil Gaiman’s top novels of the last 10 years?  Reinvention of space opera, but the end result is hard to take.  Stephen King’s newest – 11-22-63Ring by Stephen Baxter (from the Xeelee Sequence), Baxter even explains why aliens don’t visit in his Manifold Trilogy, which is based on the Fermi paradox. “That’s it!  Go to your rooms!”  “Everybody out of the pool!” Digital vs. disc, subscription vs. individual purchase, Audible.com sale, Black Friday and Cyber Monday – we are ready for holiday gift giving!  Evacuation Day instead of Thanksgiving. Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke, Jo Walton’s Revisiting The Hugos, the SF Masterworks series (from the U.K.), Jenny’s Around The World bookshelf

From Stephen Baxter’s Ring:

Lieserl was suspended inside the body of the Sun.

She spread her arms wide and lifted up her face. She was deep within the Sun’s convective zone, the broad mantle of turbulent material beneath the growing photosphere. Convective cells larger than the Earth, tangled with ropes of magnetic flux, filled the world around her with a complex, dynamic, three-dimensional tapestry. She could hear the roar of the great gas founts, smell the stale photons diffusing out toward space from the remote core.

Posted by Jenny Colvin

The Year’s Top Short SF Novels, ed. by Allan Kaster

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Science Fiction Audiobook - The Year's Top Short SF Novels edited by Allan Kaster

Life is good! Infinivox just released their latest: The Year’s Top Short SF Novels, edited by Allan Kaster.

CONTENTS:
“Return to Titan” by Stephen Baxter
“Jackie’s-Boy” by Steven Popkes
“The Sultan of the Clouds” by Geoffrey A. Landis
“Seven Cities of Gold” by David Moles
“A History of Terraforming” by Robert Reed
“Several Items of Interest” by Rick Wilber
“Troika” by Alastair Reynolds

All seven stories are unabridged and run approx 2 hours each.

Infinivox says:

Short novels may well be the perfect length for science fiction. They are movie length tales that resonate with moxie while exploring characters, new worlds, and ideas. The stories in this unabridged audio collection are the best-of-the best short science fiction novels published in 2010 by current and emerging masters of this form.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson