The SFFaudio Podcast #689 – READALONG: The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #689 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Trish E. Matson discuss The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Talked about on today’s show:
we’re all taking the black pill today, The Day Of The Triffids, Chrysalids, Margaret Atwood, she’s on the stamps now, first president of Canada, just birthed a new monarch, stealing from Barbados, very John Wyndham, cozy catastrophe, Brian Aldiss, the John Carpenter movie, John Carpenter’s The Village Of The Damned, In The Mouth Of Madness, more sinister, surprised and pleased, the 1960 movie and the BBC audio drama, all the homework, the sequel movie, its in the public imagination, The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, this book is very very dark, nicely mannered, really dark, escape to New Zealand, where they are accepted, the main character doesn’t blow himself, darker than how it ends on the page, most of the book, pods, every recorded place, the implication, we’ll be back, you’re going to kill us, picking up on the hints, what people get wrong, they make a big deal about the hands being cold on the initial night, zapped, fiddling with their hands, a symptom, based on both, it was cold, worst John Carpenter movie ever, Ghost Of Mars, Vampires, a good bad movie, Kirstie Alley was terrible, she looks nervous, Christopher Reeve is mostly just tall, David being different, not hive mind across genders, an excuse to get a kid away, Virginia Madsen, maybe goodness can survive, you need to feel suffering and loss in order to be a good person, dwelling in the graveyard, “the one who’s made for me”, they don’t gestate inside of themselves, probes, the aliens were not human shaped, the actual aliens, breaking the rules, Seanan McGuire, an ambush predator, Mimic by Donald A. Wollheim, Sarah Selby, very much X-Men, derivative of the period of mutants, New Mutants, the origin of this novel, The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick, sparkly skin, weird hair, xenogenesis, parthenogenesis, not marketed as Science Fiction, hard SF, how to setup societies, a very talky book, how to believe things, what to act on, mass hysteria, clipping a kid, the current real problem in society of doctors not believing women and people of color, swallowing it in little bits and pieces, we’re the ones eating that barley sugar, set in the 1990s, abortion is available on demand, home abortions, taking very hot baths, hanging themselves, Roe V. Wade, $6000 a month, you can abort with us, an on purpose death, pickle it, an alien, handled very badly, deftly handled, all euphemism, have a nice cup of tea, cuckolded, this book cuckolds women as well as men, the Zeleby nose, experimenting with this idea, a dog version of an alien in Alien 3 (1992), asking and answering questions, was it an alien spaceship that landed in the middle of the town, a deliberate landing, remote villages, on different dates, one ship on a mission, time taken between the needles, the kids don’t lie, refusing to answer, the behavior of cuckoo birds, sibling eggs, you’re just genes, your instinct is to kick the other eggs out of the nest, you mature faster, you’re meaner, you’re more aggressive, the sympathetic mother POV, mothers (and sometimes fathers) must be doting, you must live as the jungle does, sugar coating it, trying to tell us something about ourselves, it is not an allegory, our relationship to our children and each other and how we interact with the world around us, the cows start giving birth to strange looking cows, cows and dogs, we think of ourselves as top cow, we do that to dogs and cows all the time, we treat them the way aliens are treating us, this book is very old, women of child bearing age are implanted, a 17 year old, as young as 9, British nutrition in the 1950s, get the right pickles, girl power!, dreams: keep your baby, how are they going to handle it?, why won’t they do twelve year olds, perfectly accurate biology would be too toxic, some people think we couldn’t handle it, we don’t like thinking about it, guy shotguns himself after shotgunning a kid in the head, 1950s people vs. 2022 people, what about all the women who are women who weren’t born women, a trans man with a uterus, they won’t touch it in the show, there’s a difference between scientific accuracy and being an asshole, biology trumping everything, we need more sugar or it will be rejected, its medicine, facing facts as they are vs. believing what they want, the big lie and the big truth, COVID, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, over in China something bad is happening, rust on wheat and rye, the stuff that keeps the topsoil from disappearing, a planetary catastrophe, hoarding, a veneer, a busy body, amped up, starvation, the safe zone, turning on a group that is outside of us, when the Russians nuke their small town, atomic cannons, Starship Troopers, Ogre, Ogle, the grange, like Hermione Granger, time to pay up, the Lord owns your land, the bailiff, the Lord hall, the kids move into the Lord’s hall, the serfs are denied movement off of the land, an accidental metaphor, the narrator is talking about his wife, because it was my birthday, John Wyndham is the main character, everything is soft, pleasant, lobster and chablis as Wheelers, Ustinov’s latest extravaganza, enjoyed the bathrooms, fascination with other people’s plumbing, why did they have to zap the birds, whatever living thing, which one of theses looks like its in charge?, speculation, this is God, can we disprove it?, a lab test, divine punishment, barrenness vs. fecundity, the greater god: the God of the universe, H.G. Wells, I’m doing an H.G. Wells story, colonialism coming back to bite you in the ass, what we do to the Earth, nature finds a way, Jurassic Park, stupid humans find a way to fuck themselves, we can fuck ourselves, an infodump philosophy dump, mother nature being misnamed, a book about infanticide, Charles Stross, Nyarlathotep, a nanny for supes, Now We Are Nine, Christopher Robin, emphasizing the two hive minds, chapter titles, No Entry To Midwich, All Quiet, Midwich Revisited, Midwich Comes To Terms, Matters Arising, Interview With A Child, Impasse, Ultimatum, Zeleby Of Macedon, all of the Spartans, Leonidas, assassinated by whom, who will rid me of my awful husband, what happens in this chapter, he kills himself, a suicide bombing, the right an proper thing to do, right?, by the standards of homo sapiens, I want humans to win, a primitive matter, will you agree to be superseded?, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, one collective Adam and one collective Eve, what’s the appropriate action?, you can’t take the law into your own hands?, a stiff police officer, playing an interesting game, an alien invasion story that’s an examination of the humans, the primitives, esquimaux, Monlogia, Russia, the iron curtain, sleeping with demons, a second crop to come?, in Australia they all mysterious died, a dingo virus?, why they didn’t put all their eggs in one basket, they lay their eggs wherever there is a willing basket, words, Midwich, wich = a bundle of thread (a nest?) or an old English settlement, all of them were midwich, little nests, are they keeping track, this is how we do it, droppin their spores, fire and forget, lay and forget, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney, something going on the 1950s, The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, communism?, collective individuality, collectivism, trends in science fiction, we talk about stuff, fleeing the cities, jamming the highways, in Washington, DC, meanwhile in Kentucky…, 1930s science fiction, Stanley G. Weinbaum, will this book have the international aspect?, what does that do to the story?, this is a resource for exploitation, not because they’re humans in need of money, resources to exploit, getting the birth rate up, soldiers, armies, the children’s desks, mini office desks, lots of good framing by Carpenter, the house from Halloween, recycled from The Fog, the house looks like a cuckoo clock, zoom in and pull back, popping out like a cuckoo clock, the audio of a cuckoo, the word cuckoo, it isn’t a crazy bird, perfectly natural, a gaslighting bird, the baby doesn’t say I’m one of you, the behavior that is not learned (its genetic), “crazy”, “insane” as a legal term, crazy means “don’t understand”, very efficient, cruel, women are supposed to act a certain way, time to kill, time to take whatever pill, he did the right thing for the survival of the (human) species, an alternative, this is Ceti Alpha Five, genetic better humans, cruelty is as old as life, barley coloured, a bullseye, the sequel movie, set around the same period, Children Of The Damned (1964), the aunt, just a blonde, the audio drama was excellent, they forgot about the first movie, a UN guy giving intelligence tests in Britain, unmarried prostitute, go get killed in a tunnel, respective London embassies, the barn or the grange, a church, a dog they can command, to harness the power of these kids, use these kids as cold war weapons, more sympathetic in the second movie, varied skin and hair colours, batch two they blend in better now, can’t we all get along, leave us alone but bring us food, a screwdriver, a metaphor for tools, a knife is good for stabbing and cutting, knife technology implies knife fights, using people as tools is immoral, countries using people as population for their offices, to service the capitalism, blackpilling, they don’t teach field-hand skills, typing?, teaching about the Aegean, some island somewhere, if nations use people as tools that’s wrong, that’s why the cuckoo people are bad, using us the same way we use animals, the cuckoo people are to blame (but the kids aren’t), you can’t easily kill the kids, we’re here to be killed, why are you here?, we don’t know, why are any of us here?, the second movie was solid, as a reflection, a little unrealistic, a counterbalance, behind the Iron Curtain, left with a lot of questions, the new Doctor Who episode, fashioning the Doctor’s companions into weapons, shaping people to do things, is it right?, an amoral alien with alien ideals, space hobo, The Littlest Hobo, Patrick Troughton, the show has evolved, the second movie is a reaction to the first, that’s their reaction to this idea, the sign of a really good book, an abandoned sequel, she definitely knows about science fiction, Chrysalids is (was) assigned in school in Canada, Chocky, The Trouble With Lichen, slow down the aging process, Quirks And Quarks, The Outward Urge, The Kraken Wakes, Stowaway To Mars, off-earth, Tyrant And Slave Girl On Planet Venus, Wonder Stories, the sucess Wydham had in the UK, zilcho reputation in short stories, the market, the town he moved to, thought out the plot of his next book, what kind of a setting for a story would this be, writers are very strange people, Donald E. Westlake and Lawrence Block, writers who only do writing for their job, tapped into the psychology of 1950s Britain, why did that happen?, destroyed industry and commerce, I thought they won WWII, a devastating peace, used themselves up winning the war, really good aircraft industries, what point are you trying to make here, Jesse?, what happened to the Empire?, Australians were mailing care packages to England in the 1950s, paying back some loans, the war had to be fought, Hitler was a bad guy?, how did it get started in the first place, the Treaty of Versailles, prideful assholes , there’s always a connection, benign censorship, when we do the censorship its benign, about power relations, you are just a thing to be manipulated, objects vs. subjects, no birth control is not allowed, the House of Lords?, oh its cute, he’s leading up to that ending, means to ends, a glancing reference to the Dionne quintuplets, the dirty newspapers, don’t embarrass the government, Wyndham thought about a lot of things, it isn’t about entertainment, super-cozy, it feels mainstream, a pyrotechnic ending, Stephen Fry does English women so well, a wonderful narrator to listen to, Jim Dale, a delightful reader, a Homer for our times, a poet from 10,000 BC, a very literate fellow, super-fresh audiobook, the SKY tv adaptation [then forthcoming], a known name, hosting TV and radio shows, [here’s Jesse’s scan of the paperback], scanning difficulties, make your own version of John Wyndham’s the Midwich Cuckoos, The Twilight Zone, It’s A Good Life, Jerome Bixby, its a good thing you took mommy’s mouth, that’s a good thing, Wandavision, 1953, something in the water, it was injected into them, Philip K. Dick, Jerome Bixby, John Wyndham, Robert A. Heinlein, cosmic rays have come into our brains, world events, Jack Finney, it wasn’t a bad review, Eric S. Rabkin, YouTube video viewer counts vs. like counts vs. comments, almost nobody comments on anything, Gresham’s Law, comments, 70 emails an hour, boner increaser is where the money is, so you don’t have a lot of cuckoos in your nest, cuckoos and cuckolding, Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, super-short, he gives her a cuckoo clock, why was everybody in the 1950s into cuckoo-clocks?, why did your grandparents have cuckoo clocks?, fuck those British guys, 2 seater sports cars, cultural output, 60s British TV and movies, the British Invasion, Hammer Horror, Doctor Who, shot on video tape, high class acting and really good writing, supported by the British tax-payer, medical coverage, marmite and vegimite, is it vegan?, Veganism, guess what decade Veganism started in, 1944 in England, making a virtue of a necessity, a vegetarian movement, movements, seedlings, 25 founding members, a newsletter, the official vegetarian zine, and cheese or eggs, fish, a section just for them, the first three letters and the last three letters veganism, sanivore, what veganism is, does anybody know these amazing facts?, a fascinating history, people are starting weird cults and organization and religions, trampled on seedling, big giant unweildly organization, fruitful and bountiful, sometimes religious, a reaction against farming practice, physical culture magazines, modeling the perfect body, the perfect woman, the perfect dude, body sculpting, going to the gym is a spiritual belief, look pretty, eugenics, percolating in the background, take the black pill, read the Wikipedia entry pill, following the links through, how to look at reality, bringing it back somehow, Michael Pare’s character, I’m driving so don’t distract me so I’ll crash, I’ll quit smoking when you decide to get pregnant, helium, a big smoking pile of smoke (he broke his word), what you put in your body, females feeling what males could feel like, Prometheus (2012), cuckolded as a species, the woman’s instinct and the men’s instinct, you did wonderfully, I feel like I’ve done something wrong by telling them to keep their babies, Angela’s speech, well written, thoughtful, weird science fiction pulpy short stories, Arthur C. Clarke prose, cosy literate, something different about the British mid-1950s science fiction, Brian Aldiss, who are the damned?, a terrible title, how damned shows up a lot, swearing in the title, Fuck The Movie, biblical, The Midwich Cuckoos is not a good movie title, a children’s movie about little birdies, the British book industry, Children Of The Damned is even more confusing, damned to live on the Earth, a podcast listener, two dinosaurs are looking at the fireball, what do you suppose that is Steven? nice!, life causes more suffering than happiness, we are born to be cowards and cling to live, we lack the crucial choice, thank you for the stimulating conversation, radically alter the climate, wanna get some lunch, sure, Paul would not have worried, is it dark tho?, a reflection of reality that we have, Existential Comics #423, a webcomic, something even darker, goes back in time to the womb and he kills himself, a Quantum Leap suicide, The Butterfly Effect (2004) extended director’s cut guy, Ashton Kutcher, Journeyman, trying to reboot Firefly, how long did it take Star Trek to get a reboot, Wesley’s shirt and haircut was 1980s, cut things in, is there a pill list?, this is what people do instead of having decent lives, incels, fatalism, a fun conversation about nihilism, the hardest to swallow red pill, depraves you, comedic, Kevin, the blue pill implies the existence of the red pill, a narrative process of creation, its all alright, Maissaville, a nice surprise, not very blackpillish, a really nice tweet, hybridmind, you can’t have parthenogenesis, Jesus was secretly a chick, clones so we don’t have to happen, centrifuge, clone army, monocultures are vulnerable to diseases, just backstory, old profitable books from the 50s, Smithsonian.

The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #682 – READALONG: The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #682 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Evan Lampe, and Trish E. Matson talk about The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Talked about on today’s show:
Racoona Sheldon, Analog, June 1977, special women’s issue, Eyes Of Amber by Joan D. Vinge, Analog, not just for men, Ben Bova, a 1970s thing, Women Destroy anthologies, all Harlan Issue, throw all the women in one basket, J. Michael Straczynski, a sausage fest, representation by gender, a piss per job, one woman per this episode, making room for women, what her logic was, Angel Fix, to suit different markets?, James Tiptree, Jr had to intervene on behalf of Racoona Sheldon, Robert Silverberg had to make a huge apology, it was very clear James Tiptree, Jr. was a man, the Andre Norton story, she was not hiding, a quasi-medieval romance, rationalization, this story is about rationalization, the whole religious cult element, super hard SF, as a historian, certain biological experiences (like love), fairly universal across humanity, across time however…, culture, movies, love songs, something physically is changing in these men, all the cultural baggage would be dispensed, morality wouldn’t win out?, the first time a zombie wakes up, turning some aspect up to 11, to set the society’s norms, urges, the story of Adam and Eve, uncomfortable, people use it for whatever they want, good science fiction, why Jesse likes adaptations, The Twilight Zone adaptation, the new Dune movie, The Masters Of Horror adaptation, the 90210 guy and Elliot Gould, commas missing in the PDF, the narrator of the story has comma problems but the characters writing the letters don’t, her diary entry, a fun format, enough material for a hefty novel (or a quintology), if Steven Baxter wrote this story, a hard topic to fully satisfy everybody with, like H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, horrific, creeping dread, clamping down on the news [censorship], the horror of the nice rational scientist, feels himself changing and can’t stop it, bestial/primal instincts, awakened by the aliens, existential dread, we are the monsters, we’re all going to die, humanity is going to kill itself, people do it to themselves, completely chilling, On And Off A Mountain Road, metaphors, cursed film episode Cigarette Burns, a slasher, the focus is on the micro, the outer image, Alan in Colombia, his job is what the aliens do to us,

the 2019 reboot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE has an episode called “NOT ALL MEN” which is credited to Heather Anne Campbell

it seems to be an uncredited remake of the MASTERS OF HORROR episode “THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION” scripted by Sam Hamm

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution

except the latter is an adaptation of a 1977 story by James Triptree, Jr.

and the former isn’t

evidence:

Both have family dinner parties

The Screwfly Solution DINNER

Both have cakes with words written on them (“welcome home” and “happy birthday”)

Not All Men DINNER

Both have women being murdered by men

Both have the military showing up

Both have atypical meteors showers

and

Both have their respective blonde female protagonists driving around by day, and being chased by night, in identical yellow Volkswagen Beetles

on the left TWILIGHT ZONE on the right MASTERS OF HORROR

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution BEETLES

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is biological Science Fiction and visceral Horror – an alien invasion story like THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells, as intellectually rigorous, but brutal, scary, and gripping

NOT ALL MEN is decidedly not – it is almost a comedy, but there are no laughs

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION suggest we are victims of biology

NOT ALL MEN suggest everyone has a choice and most men choose to be bad

the MASTERS OF HORROR episode makes a character from the short story gay, and makes him resistant to the biology that effect most men

the TWILIGHT ZONE episode has a gay character who chooses to be resistant

and both have females disagreeing, in their yellow Volkswagen beetles, about how to understand what is happening to the men around them

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is full of conscientious men and women, scientists, trying to figure out what is happening and how to help their families and the world

NOT ALL MEN has basically no scientists (@ the end, maybe?) but has a marketing company doing some sciencey or something?

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION has the most brutally noir ending imaginable, an ironic one given the characters we follow around for the story, perhaps the last woman alive on earth watching the new tenants of Earth arriving and knowing humanity is finished

NOT ALL MEN ends with a deus ex machina, with cops or the army saving our viewpoint characters, fade to black

blood tests turn up nothing

a twist ending that throws out the main idea they’ve been pushing (the red meteors were a red herring)

there a line at the end of the episode that supposedly explains it all:

“The meteors…they were a placebo.”

then we get the cut-rate Rod Serling closing narration:

Jordan Peele (cut rate Rod Serling)

“Tonight, Annie Miller found herself in the center of a mysterious and violent epidemic. What she encountered was no material disease but rather a plague of conscience. One that gave men permission to ignore decency, consent, and fear. And tonight, all it took was a few an
innocuous little rocks to turn men into monsters here in the Twilight Zone.”

at one point during the craziness in the streets one guy says

“Fuck your feelings”

And this is the level of analysis and writing we are dealing with.

more than 2000 imdb ratings for each

IMDB RATINGS

4.8/10 for THE TWILIGHT ZONE “Not All Men”

6.4/10 for MASTERS OF HORROR “The Screwfly Solution”

Finally, both were filmed in British Columbia

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is set in several places, including Texas, Michigan, and British Columbia

i don’t think we know where NOT ALL MEN is set (other than a really lame corner of The Twilight Zone)

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, Volkswagen Beetle, understanding the point of the original, we might be unable to control ourselves vs. choosing to be bad, just attacking, just aggro, one of these is science fiction and the other is something else, nightmares, mass hysteria and people’s choices or an alien disease, the hope of the species, woken from crazy aggressive killings, In The Mouth Of Madness (1994), The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, a meme vs. an enzyme or a hormone, social pressures vs. biological pressures, do you read Sutter Cane?, if so you’re infected, the reason I’m killing you is because you’re a communist or a homosexual, explaining inexplicable impulses, a phenomenon we see in reality, Trump as a symptom, the Cult of Adam, “angels”, interesting things in a compressed space, Dracula, the epistolary format, the personal and the broader picture, different perspectives, perfectly expressed, something terrible is happening in England, layers and layers of intertextuality, this is all a suicide note, yesterday I saw an angel, a real estate agent, a devastating last line, all the adults over six years old, feral kids, like a lot of Star Trek episodes, we did it to ourselves!, higher doing what we do to lower or higher species, Huston, Huston, Do You Read?, gender dynamics, women disposing of men, this thing called kissing, Y: The Last Man, a response to When It Changed by Joanna Russ, ovafusion, all female civilization, Sheri S. Tepper, a whole genre conversation, The Children Of Men by P.D. James, The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro, gender reversed romance plots, men are the hysterical, the second most dangerous primate, another primate note, the rhesus monkeys, spider monkeys, chimpanzees, biological similarity, not well discussed at the dinner table, mating behaviors, Fritz Leiber, opinions from twitter, wishing people would read it, even the uninfected nodded and saw the killing as natural, the result is extermination, God’s will, committees, kill camps, bad things are happening, no one in authority, the mundane aspect, being called to Florida, a car flotilla [aka a convoy], the NIH, Triptree lived in Washington, D.C., her husband and her were both CIA, part of the interest here, Deep Impact (1998), a bunch of people in a control room, the media, something weird is happening in India, 150 adulteresses in Saudi Arabia, very similar headlines, “so-called Sharia Law”, Michael McKean (of Spinal Tap), #YesAllWomen, scarier and scarier every day, an over-reading, anonymous submission, George Sand, other reasons, “trans-phobic”, whatever else, transphobic by structure, a binary opposition of genders, gender binarism is real and meaningful, structurally queasy, men as naturally pedophilic, socially compelled into a straight marriage, there’s a lot there, you gotta consider the context of the story, Heinlein was, reading transphobia into texts [from 1977], Trish is cancelled, a failure of imagination, phobia is without meaning, outside the scope of what she’s exploring, how they turn on the boys, a non-binary view of sexuality, reading too much into this?, aggression hacked sexuality, a less binary reading of sexuality, she’s thinking super-hard, what is sexuality?, this strange focus on a part of science that doesn’t get a lot of attention in Science Fiction, our hero Alan, his relationship with his wife, it gets hot, he starts fantasizing on the airplane, crushed the Coke can, you need to kill me if I show up, I should throw this knife away, really good hard SF, he knows there’s something wrong with him, he should kill himself, killing (and possibly raping) his own daughter, slightly misreading what’s going on, the chase mentality is real, ovulation in some animals needs this, kinda Kinsey, the weaker have been killed, artificial wombs, Podkayne Of Mars, freeze your zygotes, Lois McMaster Bujold, people’s wrong takes, the most devastating counterargument to #NotAllMen, they are connected, an expression, traction after #MeToo, the defensive reaction, downgrading the impact of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter vs. #BlueLivesMatter, sarcastic uses, #AllMen, aggressive seeds, bombing Dallas, men are evil, seeds of violence, misogynistic in structure, a jihad against women, in order to do evil is to choose evil, we are biologically determined, human beings are more than their biology, condemned by our biology, its not a disease, on the ground, isn’t it horrifying that we are biologically determined?, the hashtag vs. the Twilight Zone episode of the same name, explicitly rejecting Tiptree Jr.’s idea, we should summon the will, what if we are biologically determined to do everything, an MRNA injection, a hard bitter pill to swallow, what the story is suggesting, it helps Scott make choices, seeing this in all its horror, if we don’t have choices in reality, the illusion of choices?, what about the screwflies?, they’re just flies, we write stories, we’re not as complicated as we think, slaves to our hormones, he doesn’t kill himself, noir, not pulling its punches, biological determinism or mostly biologically determined?, influenced by stories, closer to chimps or rhesus monkeys, bonobos?, sex as a way of saying hello, a dispute over a sandwich settled by sex, institutions and ideology shape how we interpret and overcome biological, the birth control pill, change society, what science fiction is, geology, how old the Earth is, life-changing, a very good science fiction story, harder than H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds [not The Time Machine], take the war to Mars, maybe somebody’s working on something somewhere, so good, 1 hour to read, that fake stuff that’s 16 books long, fake science, 2 north 75 degree west, anthropology, WHO inoculations, just watched an episode of Masters Of Horror, Cordwainer Smith, off in Africa with her parents, the horse latitudes, bringing experience to the table, its not because she’s a girl, long short story format, The Women Men Don’t See, The Woman Who Was Plugged In, semi-interesting, externalize evil, religions antagonists fighting god, the devil is trying to put bad thoughts in your head, avoiding responsibility, easier, Alcohol Anonymous’ plan, accept the higher power because you’re weak, these religious pamphlets make so much sense, Genesis 3:16, women: feel the pain of childbirth and obey your husbands, short stories are a technology for delivering ideas, don’t be anti-good story, some people are willing to put anything into their bodies, good short SF is a vaccination against long terrible series that do you wrong.

The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #568 – AUDIOBOOK: The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #568 – The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, read by Phil Chenevert.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (3 hours 36 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox. The Men In The Walls was first published in Galaxy, October 1963.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Men In The Walls by William Tenn illustration by Virgil Finlay

The Men In The Walls - VIRGIL FINLAY

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #180 – Keep Your Shape by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #180

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Keep Your Shape by Robert Sheckley

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Keep Your Shape was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1953.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #531 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #531 – Piper In The Woods by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (45 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe.

Talked about on today’s show:
a plant named Paul, first published in Imagination, February 1953, the PDF, Introducing the author: Philip K. Dick, comic books, Stirring Science Stories, “There was no limit.”, StF (scientifiction), Faustian!, a medium in which the full play of imagination can operate, social awareness, communications between myself and others, my wife and my cat (Magnificat), a huge desk!, “read and write quite a lot”, public libraries, school libraries, a very young Philip K. Dick, the YouTube audio, nakedly bathing her foot while in a bush a scientist stares at her, baffled by this story, what the hell is going on?, really weird, a take that Jesse could Grok, totally baffled by, what Philip K. Dick was getting at, dreams, a scene not in the story, two trailers for film adaptations, the tone, the French one looked really angry, yelling, episode 9 of Evan’s Philip K. Dick Book Club podcast, about labour, refusal of work tradition, post scarcity philosophy, Paul Lafargue, anarchists, Bertrand Russell, reinvest productivity into leisure, Roanoake, “CROATOAN”, the anti-work tradition, the robot, two robots, a dorm room, a science fiction future, Earth doesn’t have trees anymore, the evolutionary argument, find green beautiful, Savannah grasses, the most beautiful trees are the ones that can be climbed, the Philip K. Dick Rhetorizer, obsession with cedar trees, a beautiful driveway leading up to a house, Upon The Dull Earth, an obsession with trees, orbiting Jupiter, Jesse’s massive theory, the pipers, the girl is a piper(?), Doctor Harris, do you know about the pipers, a native, Martians who came to the asteroids, folklore, we don’t know what’s really going on, what happens in the story, fantasy stories masquerading as science fiction stories, Beyond Lies The Wub, a talking pig, the pig talks about Odysseus and philosophy, weird strange guy, the Ancient Greeks, Strange Eden, tame, this brutish dude, transformed into a tamed animal, Aeëtes is the brother of Circe, Bubber the blubber boy, Return To Lilliput, maybe they’re dryads, the hamadryad, tied to a particular tree, building the base, Pan and the panisci, the pipes of Pan, not paying attention to science, a fantasy set in a science fiction universe, why are they called pipers?, Marissa’s theory, The Pied Piper Of Hamelin, like they’re dying, Of Withered Apples, lives in the ground, maybe the forest are all just dead people, the victims don’t eat, the scene at the end with the dirt, sunlight, water, a strange invasion story, the contamination they’re trying to prevent, unrelated plant schemes, to spread the gospel, the line about Tiberius, when Christianity showed up in high places, household slaves of the Imperial family, tutoring the kids, “that’s Jesus!”, Friedrich Nietzsche, “slave morality”, this is GOOD, that was BAD, this is GOOD, “the meek shall inherit the earth works for me”, only in the blood soaked soil of the Roman Empire can a slave morality be so flourishing, a whole cool thing, the Holy Roman Empire, that turn, Doctor Harris’ POV, presumably he knows what’s in his luggage, is he lying there?, a psychological story, dreams, switching genders, every time you see the word “plant” replace it with the “woman”, just why do you think you’re a woman?, a strange phenomenon, how is the psychological happening happening?, a mysterious transformation, more about identity, in our world, the experience as presented, if it was by Heinlein, a few bosom shots, a beauty and grace of movement, secretary just out of school, an invasion story, Paul’s theory, a different set of mythological references, the myth of Endymion, the myth of Actaeon, Atremis and Diana, turned into a stag, his dogs, Martians, a defense of the asteroid by the pipers, quelling them, neutralized, Evan’s take, these workers are infected with the work ethic, the valourization of work, a whole ideology here, full employment, if you’re not in the labour market you’re less, the blessings of work, the fear of everything individual, work giving meaning, so many things going on, it doesn’t tell you what its doing, random stuff, our first victim, blonde, the most bizzaro conversation, it is a comedy, “why do you think you’re a plant”, “I’ve been a plant for several days now”, “I see”, beefy Commander Cox, work was unnatural, contemplate, jet repair, two nurses passed, a jet blast injury, a bovine youth with horned-rimmed glasses, the bovine youth, Philip K. Dick coding-in, I’m doing fantasy right now, cataleptic?, is this on purpose?, it was a warm sunny day, a graceful flowing motion, he is the girl, copper coloured natives, they’re sunbathers, the Coppertone, you’re on your way to your writing shack, there’s a story right there, how do you become one of those people, sunbathing is a vacation thing, the opposite of work, in the military for no reason, M*A*S*H, Corporal Klinger, I need a section 8, maybe he protest to much, an argument against pacifism, they’re deserters, if everybody did what I do, another take on Bartelby, The Scrivner, inscrutable, a law copyist, Bob Cratchet, Scrooge will have to fill out his own eviction notices, a Memorial to the Unknown Deserter, Life Of Philip K. Dick, Anthony Peake suggest that chapter 6 of The Wind Of The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, benign forgetting, “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, the gift of forgetfulness, this hidden memory is The Wind In The Willows, Morpheus in The Matrix (1999), the reviews, there’s a lot of stories like this?, Weltanschauung (worldview), a Promethean aspect to Philip K. Dick, Time Out Of Joint, they’re sunbathing, other people don’t see it as work, idle but doing interesting things, in the beginning was the deed, a pretty good pickup line, obsessed with Faust in the 50s, poppy, goldbricking, “poppycock”, where poppies and grass grew everywhere, Hypnos the god of sleep, Philip K. Dick knows what he’s doing (at least on some level), encoding for us, a story for the reader to try to engage with, rebuffed by the sea, people always point to the twist ending, is it a twist?, somehow confident he’s on the right path, the Pan idea, The Great God Pan, Helen Vaughn out in the woods taking in hard working men, The Tomb by H.P. Lovecraft, The Tree by H.P. Lovecraft, its a murder mystery, the two best sculptors, two different ways of getting inspiration for their art, one goes to the city, the other to the grove, a fascinating story, the nature of art, taking inspiration from nature, can’t explain it but knows its necessary, it doesn’t touch on art, dead at night, almost childhood, before you can become creative, absorbing like a sponge, same with Lovecraft, unconsciously thinks of his own early life, a baby lying in the sun, the god of the Sun, Apollo, the goddess Artemis had a relationship with Pan, he’s setting us up, working a psychological idea out, all these different interpretations, they act as nature spirits, the way he comes upon her, a golden snake, Apollo, the Pythias, a connection there, a grey creature, hunt and fish, no written language, a story of Herman Melville’s Typee, where food is plentiful, when you’re having fun at work its play, an AP prep course, what Bob Black calls the Ludic lifestyle, transforming work into play, playful in an aimful way?, we don’t need to do that much, do we need 4% GDP growth?, untied to human labour, you can do it all through finance, labour and income, the whole system is designed to prevent that, vulture capitalism, cutting down a tree is GDP, Paramount and Fox and Disney, the quality of film isn’t going to go up radically but the shuttering of a competitor, seeing the reflections of all this stuff in a story that’s so impenetrable, Beyond The Door, were people knowing exactly what he was doing, a story of cuckolding, Oh my god, encoding a secret story inside the story, just out of reach, that’s how it is anyway, is Diogenes in the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer?, he lived in a pot, he called himself a cynic (a dog), a lower lifeform, being a human is not that great, you want to be on the team that doesn’t get enslaved, if you aren’t building ships and nukes then you are subjects to the whims of those who are, because you weren’t building tanks…, that war lasted 14 years (12 Christmas episodes and Alan Alda’s aging rapidly), the war chews people up, they’re cogs in the machinery, the bovine youth, the psychology, to opt out, to go back to the land, to be off the grid, pacifism does make sense until the tanks start rolling, authoritarianism, a post-colonial criticism of the refusal of work, Souvenir, the same infection, Emma Goldman, history is the tension between the individual and the institution, the WE, its powerful, it can be turned off, plantism is incredibly powerful, the work ethic is way more powerful, the anarchist anti-work argument, Thank You For Calling (2018), worry free live-work centers, its a prison, three squares a day, great food, friends, free healthcare, that evil corporation, a science fiction story, it doesn’t present as such, horsemen, Hiro Protagonist of Snow Crash, interesting and fun, worth watching, the thesis of Office Space (1999), it feels like it takes a lot longer, you feel like you’ve been there before, a pretty impressive feat, something very real, underneath there are a lot of people in those bullshit jobs, things are changing, herbivore men in Japan, Peppa Pig, society folk, the loser dad, Gumball, Rick And Morty, somebody should totally analyze that, they choose not to date, dating training, grass eaters, I can relate to this, the pull back to programming, the psychologist is completely wrong, destroy the pipers, fades into the forest, I’m going to go back to my shed now, “normal work”, his cat’s not sure, big output, the gendered aspect, everything Dick says about women, the idle wife as a trope, Cleo, did they all leave him?, swapped, why we need the biography, Tessa left him, easily lured off into the woods by women, serial monogamy, very serial.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #499 – READALONG: The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #499 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe talk about The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
the Paul-thing, Fantasy And Science Fiction, December 1954, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, the 9-minute student film adaption, nothing redeeming, filmed in America, suburbia, backyards, kids playing, an invasion of the neighborhood, kids kill bugs, the bucket full of old magazines, the spider, casual violence towards bugs, a BB-gun, boys being boys when there’s no videogames, the internet, a real threat, playing outside, a curious age, he’s eight, eight or nine, Peretti is 11, the most artificial thing, the obsession with baseball, trivia about 1970s baseball teams, memorizing baseball stats, a deep dive, dinosaurs, the vibe, keeping his son, why is that added?, just to make it longer?, the garage, relationship problems, fixing things up, the threat of the shears “they’ll cut your hands right off”, magnified in your memory, haunted for months and years, kitchen space vs. garage space, brilliant opening, more screen time for Greg Kinnear (looking like Stephen King), a Stephen King story, Stranger Things, Goonies, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, David of the Dickheads podcast, contemporaneous, Cold War paranoia, Invaders From Mars (1986), Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde, WWI memorabilia, a gas-mask from WWI, divorce, freaky, something very real, dreams, Indiana Jones, half a squid and half a jellyfish, a tentacle, something deep in the war, I ate your father, a patricidal story, the horror of seeing his father dead in that barrel, the music was too manipulative, the emotional powerhouse of the story, its best on the page, a very powerful story, the child’s point of view, the fears and anxieties of an eight year old, going on off the page, let’s kill the alien monsters that have taken over our parents, more from the monster’s point of view, coming to Earth, sympathy for The Father-Thing, technical issues, the perception of children, doubt from the narrative, knowledge bomb about the lifecycle of the alien replicants, shellac, warming it up, mom’s going to get replaced, that’s a horror, what’s this?, it’s the Charles-thing, you’re worried your wife is a robot, oh my god… I’m a robot!, you’re not who you think you are, a horror-motive,

It was almost ready. Another few days and it would reach maturity. It was still a larva, white and soft and pulpy. But the sun would dry and warm it. Harden its shell. Turn it dark and strong. It would emerge from its cocoon, and one day when his mother came by the garage… Behind the mother-thing were other pulpy white larvae, recently laid by the bug. Small. Just coming into existence. He could see where the father-thing had broken off; the place where it had grown. It had matured here. And in the garage, his father had met it.

Charles began to move numbly away, past the rotting boards, the filth and debris, the pulpy mushroom larvae. Weakly, he reached out to take hold of the fence — and scrambled back.

the opening, I don’t know which one to tell,

“He’s in the garage,” Charles said. “But he’s — talking to himself.”

“Talking to himself!” Mrs. Walton removed her bright plastic apron and hung it over the doorknob. “Ted? Why, he never talks to himself. Go tell him to come in here.” She poured boiling black coffee in the little blue-and-white china cups and began ladling out creamed corn. “What’s wrong with you? Go tell him!”

“I don’t know which of them to tell.” Charles blurted out desperately. “They both look alike.”

June Walton’s fingers lost their hold on the aluminum pan; for a moment the creamed corn slushed dangerously. “Young man –” she began angrily, but at that moment Ted Walton came striding into the kitchen, inhaling and sniffing and rubbing his hands together.

her matronly bosom fluttered with sudden alarm, she’s not a sex object, the boobs are very important to be mentioned, we never see the confronation between the father-thing and the father, the whole point of the story is perception,

“I got the shears sharpened like a razor. Oiled and sharpened. Better not touch them — they’ll cut your hand off.” He was a good-looking man in his early thirties; thick blond hair,

he was going to go cut that bamboo down, who are you?, I’m you, or at least I will be, a whole untold sequence that’s a horror, such good writing, acting weird, weird tumors, no ambiguity, the guy standing in the rain pumping gas, a dead body of a deer, darkening his eyes, is that just my perception?, the shit crawling under Greg Kinnear’s face, the whole idea of perception is gone when you just show it, Westworld, an interview with Evan Rachel Wood, more faithful with Philip K. Dick’s ideas, the man in black, a show on Westworld, faithful to PKD, what makes you human, the “internet out”, hashtag resist, one of the dumbest scenes ever, step off the ledge, too obvious, the teacher’s name was Mr. “Philip” Dick, my wife’s not my wife anymore, when you’re living with someone, Evan is suspicious of a “true self”, Men In Black (1997), wearing an Edgar-suit, Philip K. Dick fans, impostor syndrome, you’re all the imposters!, everyone else is a kind of impostor and your have to play along, a psychological issue where people literally think someone has been replaced, like deja-vu, capgras syndrome, the Truman syndrome, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, Mr. Jim Moon’s show on changelings, infanticide, a cuckoo egg situation, Jesse’s awesome theory on Philip K. Dick’s Beyond The Door, in tune with little details that most people completely pass over, “Charles hesitated. He was only eight years old, and the problem bothering him would have confounded Hillel.” Hillel is all about the Talmud, interpretation, wisdom, arguing on internet forums for thousands of years, Confucian commentary is kind of the same, Batman is a character, we know all these things about Batman, the story of Jesus is fanfiction from 2,000 years ago, we have to live with those stories, popularly known for two sayings, “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”, lamb stew, beef stew, there’s something off about him, you have to really pay attention, so missing, Star Trek: The Next Generation episode entitled “Conspiracy”, a very dark ending (never mentioned again), reading Herman Melville, the crew mentality, the higher ups, bifurcation in an institution, a BBC audio drama adaption of Moby-Dick, Starbuck says this is folly, Ahab says your boat will not be one of the ones we drop with us, Ishmael disappears out of the text, Stubbs, Ahab is Ahab, a merry romp and then they all go to their doom, the ethic of reciprocity, the Golden Rule, it is not cool to kill your dad, here’s a horrific story, what do you make of that?, maybe it’s a story like this…, not human, you would want your son to save himself, it informs us (if we see it), it doesn’t explicitly state anything, his dad acting strangely, It by Stephen King, the recent movie, aging up the kids, when kids lose their imagination, the role of imagination, sneezing powder, the younger kids look at the world differently, a mistake in that adaption, the Norman Conquest, we don’t need anything outside the neighborhood, the use of the bully, he’s a jerk but he’s on the team, a black friend (but only at school), Charles, Peretti, and Daniels (somebody who’s good at finding), that finding is a thing, they’re playing, we can drown it or burn it, a jar of formaldehyde, did this play go to far, the ending, we left some matches on the driveway, we better run the hose, lighting the house on father, trimming the hedges, the whole thing was covered with web, tent moth, the only solution, acting mean, talking to himself, which dad do I talk to, this is total imagination stuff, the fear of imagination, the horror of Dungeons & Dragons, the whole Mazes And Monsters insanity, The Dungeon Master by William Dear, there was no dispelling it, there was no alternative saying it was bullshit, a mass hysteria, the idiocracy of television and radio, it’s going to turn you into, Evan’s pastor dragged him aside, you can’t be a good Christian and play this stuff, stop using your imagination, the wild stuff in the Old Testament, a book of more and more appeal, using it as a referent, these are stories are meant to be questioned, Hansel And Gretel’s parents, genocide and child murder, unexplainable unless you do the Talmud, literalism, competition, fear of Harry Potter, “Jesus greater than Fortnite“, Minnesota, George W. Bush, these people are the Human-Things, about control, fear of losing control, from the kid’s point of view, a straight up horror story, everybody turns into Stephen King as they get older, the mom is minimized, the first one of the adaptations that doesn’t try some gender bending, if it was a daughter and not a son, girls being more sensitive, the Freudian aspect of this story, he wants to kill his father and marry his mom, he’s saving his mom, how you could retell the adaptation, a straight alien invasion, had they gone dark, multiple personalities, the kid’s just a psycho, thinking about It, Beverly’s father becoming vulgar and violent, true to life, crazy towards children, look the other way, a horrible thing, horrible monsters for parents, Evan’s podcast episode on The Father-Thing, a nice connection to Human Is, The Hanging Stranger, digging a new cellar, the whole world has changed, a human hanging from a lamppost, an allegory for lynching, community lynching, mob mentality, when the event happened, everybody has been replaced by an insect like creature, back from the TV repair store, insectoid, paranoia, fear of communism, my wife is not my wife, my kid is not my kid, the classic story of divorce, a distant figure, PKD’s own trauma being thought through in his stories, his father’s divorce from his mom, it could fuck a kid up, people react to things in their childhood later in their life, trying to avoid or repeating the mistakes from their childhood, dysfunctional, a veneer of everything’s normal, Chuck Cunningham has disappeared and nobody remembers it, off to another planet to get some psychotherapy, Martian Time-Slip, Manfred Steiner’s father, kids, fathers, one of the few SF writers who talk about children, Robert A. Heinlein, Tony And The Beetles, least loved, Themes In Science Fiction, a forty-six year old textbook, Jesse derailed himself, a story of post-colonialism, another Italian kid, Tancredi, alienated from his bug friend, the parents in Tony And The Beetles, the Betelgeusian, a robot dog, having an animal as a main character, working out something, moving to a new neighborhood, moving, can’t we just stay where we are?, your world uprooted, the arbitrary power of adults, we’re at war, having an Italian name, Project: Earth, aliens playing with human evolution, kids spying, the Earth is a construction, a science experiment, that house has got the weirdos in it, The Cookie Lady, weird urban fantasy, not a typical Dick story, multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, self-diagnosis, schizoid, an abusive grandfather, trauma in that family, a story of two fathers, attention deficit disorder diagnosis, Joe Rogan’s interview with Elon Musk, an engine of manic creativity, why Maya Angelous’ inauguration speech for Barack Obama, Barry Seal and the CIA, there are things that are more interesting, sometimes I’m mad at my mom or my dad, you’re so mean, a totally different personality, he never talked about his parents, how screwed up Lovecraft’s family, where that came from, genetics aside, a weird YouTube loop, recording different personalities, is this connected, “I’m a detective now”, I’m the kid with the goth haircut, I’m an emo now, how much of this is not biological but play?, I want a new me, a consistent Jesse, the old Jesse lied about everything, recreating yourself, you’re that person who did that, going home, this old character, The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg, Brooklyn 99, as you do, naw that aint me, satirizing the grandiosity of the rapper aesthetic, I’m too cool, reacting soft, its very hard to know what’s going on in people’s heads.

The Father-Thing by Philip K. Dick (a word cloud)

Posted by Jesse Willis