The SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute; read by Simon Prebble. Jesse fends off illness to lead us in an intriguing discussion about Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel. This podcast features Jesse, Jenny, Seth, and Paul.
Talked about on today’s show:
Reversed seasons in Southern Hemisphere; novel originally serialized in London weekly periodical The Sunday Graphic; “on the beach” as naval phrase meaning “retired from service”; the novel almost universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike; what is the ideal time frame for an end-of-the-world scenario?; On The Beach as bleak existential novel; the author’s avoidance of political or religious polemic; 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins; Australia as a secular nation; Earth Abides by George R. Stewart; Endgame by Samuel Becket; the novel as a metaphor for terminal cancer patients; The Star by Arthur C. Clarke; abstract sterile end-of-world mechanics, a “cosy catastrophe“; 2008 BBC radio adaptation; 2000 TV movie starring Bryan Brown, modernized and featuring a much more optimistic tone; Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick 2012; could the novel’s characters done more to ensure the continued survival of humanity?; fallout shelters, “duck and cover!”; Chernobyl; rampant alcoholism; euthanasia; attitudes toward media–were newspapers responsible for the war?; regression of technology in the novel; The Waveries by Fredric Brown; we wish the Cosy Catastrophe genre would supplant Paranormal Romance; reflection of a pre-WWI era arms race; 1959 movie version tackles Cold War paranoia; U.S. government’s criticism of the novel; Five Years by David Bowie; faced with the end of the world, our panel would evidently read Marcel Proust; needless revisions in film adaptations; much action takes place “off the page” in the novel; lookism; The Scarlet Plague by Jack London; Simon Prebble’s excellent audio narration; George Orwell’s 1984; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and logotherapy; Jay Lake and his bout with cancer; Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and how we’re haunted by the people who are no longer with us; the novel’s three-dimensional characters; Nevil Shute employs typical British understatement; Lord of the Rings‘s Denethor and the idea of hopelessness; Egyptian tomb goods and attitudes towards death; Jesse plans his funeral rites.
Talked about on today’s show:
Is The Comedy Is Finished going to be the last Donald E. Westlake novel to be published?, Memory (and our discussion of it), Charles Ardai, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, getting paid is a priority for professional writers, the 1970s, Honeydew, USO tours, Bob Hope, the audiobook experience, Peter Berkrot’s narration of the audiobook of The Comedy Is Finished, Koo Davis, Bob Hope as Red Skelton vs. Bob Hope as Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ricky Gervais, Koo Davis narrates his own POV in the present everyday tense sense, “Westlake is the master of sentence by sentence writing”, “in the moment”, “the god-damned Vietnam thing”, “the real Americans”, the redemption, healing vs. moving on, Ronald Reagan, “new normal”, “the Carter malaise” and “festering wounds”, Larry, Peter, Mark has daddy issues, Joyce, the Dortmunder gang if they were all psychotic, “doing a Westlake”, why do Koo’s boys not look like him?, the role of a father, the mirror scene, “genetics don’t matter in fiction”, fatherhood as a choice, leave the messages to Western Union, character arcs, Lindsey, A Sound Of Distant Drums, radio drama, “there are round characters and there are flat characters”, “oh this is a Westlake”, “Charo has become a bitter old woman”, “a romantic writer”, succinct description, taking plots from real life, The Score, “he can heist anything”, The Mourner, The Stepfather, “that’s pretty much how these work”, three Dortmunder ideas, Kahawa should be an audiobook, California, Burbank, Santa Barbara, Elizabeth Taylor’s biography, Under An English Heaven should be an audiobook too, Anguilla, an option has been taken out on Kahawa, the new Parker movie, Stephen King’s filmography vs. Donald Westlake’s filmography, The Hot Rock, Cops And Robbers (1973), The Split (based on The Seventh), Payback, Les Alexander, The Outfit, City Of Industry, The Sour Lemon Score, Made In U.S.A., the Criterion Collection, it’s Clint Eastwood with internal monologue, a Dortmunder TV series, The Limey, Terence Stamp, Idi Amin, Uganda, “the coffee train”, Enough, Ordo, A Slight Case Of Murder, A Travesty, it’s very hard to be a Westlake expert, the sound a girl makes when you’re kissing her, “it’s just a weird name”, Bob Hope was a knight!, Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, Westlake’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, Westlake’s renunciation of SF, Anarchaos by Curt Clark, “Rolf Malone is a precursor to Parker”, Theodore Bikel (the fiddler in The Fiddler On The Roof), The Risk Profession, Nackles (is great for kids!), The Twilight Zone, Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Nackles, the Starship Hopeful series (available on DonaldWestlake.com), Lawrence Block’s fantasy story, SF is very allegorical (and that’s not Westlake), Humans, Westlake’s Smoke vs. Wells’ The Invisible Man, “and everybody’s an asshole”, “everybody one way or another is a jerkoff”, “Joyce goes crazy in the most wonderful way”, a survivor of Chernobyl, “is God really an asshole?”, “angels are assholes”, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Sacred Monster, Get Real, ridicule in print, Money For Nothing, Westlake never lectured, interior thoughts that are so revealing about the shallowness of a character’s nature, Washington, D.C., “moving up the ladder”, “what does Ginger want?”, “it’s fun to play with fire”, “I’ve got to have something”, did Don hate rock and roll?, he liked classical and atonal jazz, “damn hippie”, 99% of politics is pointless, talking to death, Jimmy The Kid (a Parker novel inside of a Dortmunder novel), kidnapping, Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, Patty Hearst, Gangway, Brian Garfield, Spider Robinson’s Dortmunder homage, Lawrence Block, The Sour Lemon Score, Dashiell Hammett, Piers Anthony, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, shiny spaceships, don’t read by genre, read by author, the genre label, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Trent’s beef with Angelica Huston, a period piece, Paul had a problem with John Cusack, J.T. Walsh, Pat Hingle, Annette Bening, “I’ll never look at a bag of oranges the same way”, Donald Westlake: NYC Personified, The Violent World Of Parker website, Nick Jones, Westlake’s bibliography at DonaldWestlake.com.
The SFFaudio Podcast #142 – Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Tamahome, and Gregg Margarite).
Talked about on today’s show: Accessory Before The Fact was published in 1911, Jesse doesn’t understand this story, Wilkie Collins, ethereal planes are the hook (rather than the detail), Gilligan and The Skipper vs. Laurel and Hardu vs. Harold and Kumar, “this is not a time-slip story”, “this is a precognative story”, paranoia, “spirtitualized”, Germanophobia, WWI, bigotry on display, L. Frank Baum’s racism, Teutonic invasion, how many characters are in this story (4 or 3)?, peeling away the layers, déjà vu, see/feel the future, quantum theory, is time a superimposition onto real reality?, slipstream, fantasy, should we dismiss this story?, Ten Minute Short Stories, adventure, Accessory Before The Fact is at the genesis of all this, an accountant on vacation, “what do you do when you have one of these events and you can’t prove it”?, The Moment Of Decision by Stanley Ellin, 13 More Stories They Wouldn’t Let Me Do On TV edited by Alfred Hitchcock, An Occurance At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, time is an illusion, “time is a serious problem…”
The SFFaudio Podcast #106 – Jesse and Tamahome talk about audiobooks, books, comic books, movies and technology.
Talked about on today’s show:
Scott is away, Warrior Race by Robert Sheckley, the guilt tactic, Robert Sheckley’s The Victim From Space, M. Night Shamylan, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the limits of sympathy and empathy, Lethal Weapon, civil disobedience, Ghandi, Ahisma, Gregg Margarite, Lauren Bacall, the future of self-published ebooks and curation, SFsignal’s anthology reviews, novels vs short stories, LibriVox, rating systems, Gil T. Wilson, SFSite, Avatar, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman’s narration, William Gibson, Where is the Neuromancer audiobook?, The Matrix, What is noir in film or books?, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Memento, a podcast about noir films (Noircast.net), Limitless aka (The Dark Fields) movie vs book, director Neil Berger, The Illusionist, The Prestige, Christopher Priest, Existenz, WWW: Wake, WWW: Wonder, Robert J. Sawyer, many spoilers in this podcast, Sawyer’s next novel is Triggers, research then write, the Webmind, Jesse doesn’t like series (usually), the ‘talking Dinosaur’ series (the Quintaglio Ascension series), is the WWW series YA?, Cory Doctorow, characters, Golden Fleece is a murder mystery in space, more dino, would anyone make the dinosaur series into a 3D animated film?, Robert J. Sawyer’s Rollback was on CBC Radio One’s Between The Covers podcast, Galileo’s Dream, Red Mars, Michio Kaku, futurism, climate change, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, can a domestic story be thrilling?, Austin Powers, “one million dollars!”, the trap of inflating the stakes, Tim Pratt on Dragon Page podcast (7½ minutes in), the ‘speech thriller’, what’s in the suitcase?, Kiss Me Deadly, “make each sentence do two things”, Midnight Riot (aka Rivers Of London), British lingo, “snog”, series and trends at bookstores, Peter Watts‘s openness, Flashforward TV show, The Gong Show, bring back the hook, Crysis 2: Legion the novel and the game, the economics of hard covers vs ebooks, Kindle openness, the VLC app was removed from the iTunes App store, the Android OS, Embedded, ROM person, the Comics Code Authority repealed!, Mark Millar, Nemesis, The Ultimates, Ex Machina, Chronicles Of Wormwood, Garth Ennis, Howard The Duck, death of superheroes, Superman left America (Action Comics #900), “truth, justice, and the American way”, Superman: Red Son, Battlefields, The Boys, The Punisher with the guy from Hung (Thomas Jane), Warren Ellis wrote a novel (Crooked Little Vein), can we make Peter Watts audiobooks?, synthesized voices on archive.org, Linux for all e-readers, Philip K. Dick, The Electric Ant comic, Tom Merritt, Sword and Laser, TWIT, Munchcast.
So I can’t really contain my excitement on this one. Peter Watts is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I got to briefly chat with him after a reading he did of “The Things” at Worldcon. He had only read part of the fantastic story but it was too late. I was hooked. I wanted more.
As I say in the few minutes before the story gets going on the podcast, you can imagine my utter delight and many squees when Neil [Clarke] told me we were putting up the story for January. What a way to start 2010!
Without sounding like a total fangirl here, this story is awesome on so many levels. With anything in the written or spoken word, your imagination has to do all the work. Once the writer and/or narrator start laying the canvas, it’s ultimately how you arrange the paint in your head. The artists give you the broad strokes. This story is almost an Alfred Hitchcock approach to imagery, by dancing around the grotesque, your mind is left to make up the difference. Wholly more terrifying in parts if you ask me. Words cue mental pictures and depending on your life experiences, there are moments within “The Things” which send shivers up your delicate spine and invite introspection. Peter has the gift of making me question what it really means to be human.
I hope you’ll go read or listen to this month’s Clarkesworld Magazine. You won’t be disappointed. As always — please let comments on both stories and podcasts.