Reading, Short And Deep #360
Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Roberta by Margaret St. Clair.
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.
Roberta was first published in Galaxy, October 1962.
The 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.
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
except the latter is an adaptation of a 1977 story by James Triptree, Jr.
and the former isn’t
Both have family dinner parties
Both have cakes with words written on them (“welcome home” and “happy birthday”)
Both have women being murdered by men
Both have the military showing up
Both have atypical meteors showers
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
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:
“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
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.
Talked about on today’s show:
space opera, Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, space opera is garbage, Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off, galactic civilization, Mirror Mirror, a perpetual war, a security officer, Yar abd Odo and Tuvok, sleeping with Big Brother, Big Sister, Nineteen Eighty-Four, she likes to watch, enjoying the voyeurism, nothing non-carnal, worshiping Wilson Cole like a god, a group of malcontents, Honor Harrington, the Honorverse, drugged out, an attack on the Honor Harringtonverse, Horatio Hornblower in space, broadsides, the pointlessness in being space opera, steelmanned space opera, Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott, Melinda Snodgrass, more nuanced and interesting, Alastair Reynolds, Greco-Persian wars in space, a female Alexander The Great, all gender flipped, the Pournelle Niven theory about space travel, better warps, there’s no worldbuilding in this novel, you are correct sir, one spaceship can blow up a planet, how much energy to blow up a planet, its a fuel dump, Space: 1999, slightly implausible, not a fig leaf of plausibility, did you enjoy the book, the lack of worldbuilding, he’s a great commander, he’s always right, do we have to do this again?, the way Socrates is always right, see what happened to him, explicitly designed to be a series, Will’s problem with it, telegraphing, it works, being the smartest man in the room, the canniest man, his instincts are always right, the author is cheating, sarcastic and sardonic, how much research put into this book, he did zero research, it probably took a week to write, hackwork, absolutely entertaining, Neal Stephenson, super easy reading, every book came out the year after the last one, I need some meat on some bones, some actual science fiction, extruded science product, a perfectly fine TV show, what colour are the uniforms?, the ship is grey, he doesn’t care about the ranks, all the services were amalgamated, flows easily and well, not to Paul’s taste, what makes it better?, more interesting and nuanced characters, worldbuilding, they have the same ethnicities we have the day, Mount Fuji, an oriental that’s 7 feet tall, a perfectly legitimate word, an inscrutable Chinaman, the news media, in jail awaiting his trial, commander Podok, this is a girl boss story, not the racism its the sexism, his theme, bureaucracy and military inefficiency, the message, its 2005, why can’t we win this Iraq War?, a Lincoln, WWII, this is a really political book, guess who went into the navy three years past the cutoff and given a rank of ensign and had no training as an officer, Hunter Biden, a lot of shitty officers, the whole premise of this book, we don’t know who they’re fighting, there will be a mutiny, the flagship, taking back the federation/republic, manly men doing manly things, a symbiont, the gorib, no deep worldbuilding at all, more anthropology, I’m the smartest guy in the room episode, dumb smart guys, The High Ground, criticizing patriarchal values, imperial space navy, exploring patriarchy and empire, an aristocratic empire in space, deeply into the world and the characters, crap, Measure Of The Man, Pen Pals, C.J. Cherryh, Downbelow Station, what its really like with people settling space, a bunch of old people, Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold, military SF, overlapping, Gareth L. Powell’s Embers Of War series, The Expanse, alien molecule, Alastair Reynolds land, pure storytelling, a little serialized, the horse people who can’t see too good during the day, painted on the cover, foreign editions, disposable science fiction, writing to be turned into a Netflix or Amazon series, the James S.A. Corey thing, right there in the business, The Wheel Of Time, Bryan Alexander’s review of Foundation TV series, add a lot of sex scenes to Foundation by Isaac Asimov, a novel series, subtle anthropological science fiction, Kirinyaga, Seven Views Of Olduvai Gorge, purely commercial (hackwork), smooth writing, why markets exist, manual labour, painting 3,000 square feet, interesting and hold your attention and fun, when sick, yard work, it serves a purpose, a space opera soap opera Star Treky universe, all the criticisms that we throw at it, this is not an intellectual stimulation delivery system, perfectly serviceable, there are stars in the universe, grav plats, wormholes and lightspeed, weapons systems, lightspeeds in an atmosphere, we’ll burn up due to fiction, pure space opera, military SF, star trek doesn’t feel like military SF, where Resnick feels comfortable, series stretch the idea of it being about science, making pain go away, very much like Soma, Paul did that on purpose, a different totalitarianism, the regular federation couldn’t have a mutiny, the most rotten thing of all is incompetent government, Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, nobody was going to be held to account for this 20 year adventure in Afghanistan, didn’t do anything, couldn’t find anything, incompetence, the decline of the Empire (in Foundation), science fiction is always taking about the present, the buildings crashing down are suicide bombings, the anniversary of September 11, 2001, the author didn’t even know it was political, what they’re worried about in 1890 and 1920, they’re soaking in it, so obvious they don’t even state, retelling the story of the flight of the mercenaries our of Persia, retellings, if you want to sell a book, March Upcountry by David Weber and John Ringo, The Warriors (1979), is it really relevant or is it just a story?, how you end up with Rudy Guiliani, The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, ideas in what you read, leadership and the media, 2,500 pages with 400 ideas, anachronistic, magic gold, heavy gold, the guy who walked with god, Leibniz’s logic mill, careening, hefty intellectually, its not like your brain is a muscle exactly, Will and reality TV shows, brain decay because of this book, the Rastignac the Devil section, the gorib, handled completely differently, Wilson Cole’s inability to use they them pronouns, pilot/slick, a strawman situation, we need to give Chinese people American name, where did you get English names?, Winston is the most ridiculous name, don’t be another Anna, what gets Mike Resnick in trouble, science fiction drama, hotter back in the day, canceled after his death, unrepentant, I’m too old for this shit, Alex Acks, Dear Barry Malzberg, fuck you, SFWA bulletin, sexism allegation, bulletin magazine, the losses this industry has suffered, our old masters are dying, glad the old ways are dying, Jaym Gates, Jerry Pournelle, dead people gettin’ roasted, Resnick created the situation, our hero Wilson Cole doesn’t do that, a casual captain, lazy salutes, respect for the character, transgender, pronouns, its cool to assign people pronouns, sexism and assumptions, not kosher, these rules, offensive language, a religious practice, a cultural practice, keeping halal, eating pork everyday, Paul doesn’t need to apologize, redskin dream, this is wrong bud, Khartoum (1966), Chinese Gordon, Lawrence Oliver in blackface, Cecil Rhodes put Rachel Maddow through university, Cecil Rhodes is responsible for Russiagate, Will is a comics guy, people who are running the X-Men movie studio, X-Men is exclusionary, X-Folk, staying up nights, many internally think the title X-Men isn’t inclusionary, X-Ladies And Gents, XXs and XYs but no asking, we know there is a problem with the X-Men, stunningly incompetent, don’t make waves, I’m busy trying to get myself promoted here, rotated in, always making improvements, the Afghan army is now ready to take over, the warlords are sex trafficking children, it makes your bosses look bad, why it resonates a little bit, do I really need space opera in my life?, the gorib’s planet is called Rastignac The Devil by Philip Jose Farmer, a Clash Of The Titans remake, Will Durant’s The Life Of Greece, Stephen Fry, Avengers Ancient Greece, the Argo initiative, Eternals, Jack Kirby property, The Cosmic Puppets by Philip K. Dick, reality, what is it?, reality is whatever I say it is, Golan Globus, almost all dialogue, characters in conversation, pure storytelling, supposed Science Fiction on TV, fun dialogue, the characters are fun, passable entertainment, not a lot of dramatic tensions, The Voice, a break from this boomer, dealing with something real, planetoids, some asteroid with the same amount of air pressure as the Earth, The Little Prince, I need some real space opera, Catalyst Gate by Megan E. O’Keefe, science fiction ideas, more popcorny space opera, K.B. Wagers, not rebelling against the empire, always about rebelling against the empire, why people like Star Wars, I’m a Sith you’re a Jedi can’t we all get along?, we need to constantly rebel against the empire, retcon things, essentially the problem with series, what do you think it means that they’re always fighting for the empire and never against it, comforting and reifying the old order, Miles Vorkosigan is fighting for the empire, back to the 1920s and 1930s, reconciliation, they fight for the empire, classic fantasy tropey, space opera is much closer to fantasy than science fiction, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, the ragtag fugitive fleet, the freed slaves, the girl boss in this book is wrong, killing civilians on your own side, deny the enemy materials, we have a duty to the empire, rooting for a prince to help other princes, so conservative, keep the empire going, bubbly easy reading, its very important they’re pirates, made some progress, The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick.
The SFFaudio Podcast #673 – Inside Earth by Poul Anderson – read by Phil Chenevert. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novelette (2 hours 3 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Will Emmons
Talked about in today’s show:
Inside Earth by Poul William Anderson, Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1951, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Beetlejuice Bridge by William Tenn, Nice Girl With Five Husbands by Fritz Leiber, Galaxy vs. Astounding vs. Planet Stories, a good reason to do a podcast, the content, its disturbing, extremely though provoking, racism, imperialism, presented in what Science Fiction does, pulling away from humanity for a second, thinking about a lot of things, isn’t this nifty, strands of thought, the libertarian camp, utopia, doing what the humans do, Will’s agenda, can’t trust them, what the message is, The Fall Of The Roman Empire (1964), part of the empire, Romanizing barbarians, unity, slavery of humanity, in a terrarium, indoctrinated, deprogrammed vs. programmed, interesting nuances, Valgonians, the best versions of themselves, who is defining best?, races and cultures and creeds, made into a Jew, a Norwegian, Levinson, comments throughout, written by the seat of his pants?, doubts about their plan, a poor plan?, infiltration, against their own people, The Americans, on the cover, a scene not even set on Earth, inside earth culture, fallen in love with a human, feelings for Barbara, get over his backstory of his dead wife, I was Earthling, being restored to normal, as complete and scarless, I’d be human again, the Klingons think they’re human, later Star Trek episodes, surgically altered humans and Klingons, nose ridge addition, convergent evolution, the Federation works like the Empire does here, Enterprise, guided on your tricycle, the Valgonian Empire, “slant eyed” is unfortunate, “it’s a very diverse empire”, two ways of looking at science fiction: 1. telling us about ourselves 2. how things could be, an analogy for something happening in the world vs. the Star Trek plan, how often Mr. Spock is an alien, Balance Of Terror, a WWII submarine vs. destroyers story, suspicious of Mr. Spock, Mrs. Spock is above suspicion, the actor’s a Jew but not the character, can we trust our Japanese soldiers?, can we trust our Navajo translators?, can we trust our German population?, war having a common enemy, this melting plot, the lack of skepticism on the part of our narrator, reeducation camps will work?, remake Afghanistan, 100% on board with it, I want another kid, they’ll sterilize me, its good to sterilize people, eugenics, hereditary taints, in 1951 its still there, how genetics work, the spirit bears, the same species as black bears, blonde hair isn’t a defect we think, but something definitely are, these people are resistant to a disease, genetic diseases, Huntington’s disease, Robert J. Sawyer, that level of protection against a fairly common disease, beneficial, neutral, or bad, in the scope that we have now, the Hari Seldon plan is never wrong, dentists who are social engineers, Will had to brush his teeth so he wouldn’t get sterilized, an uplift story, cultural uplift, the [David] Brin stories, Jesse didn’t start WWII, a certain set of people, the controls of power, Justin Trudeau is more responsible for climate change than I am, he solar system was in disarray, what’s the story this week, Afghanistan wins again!, we need to civilize them, two trillion dollars investment lasted a week, Hamid Karzai hugging the Taliban leaders, its liberation, just like the Russians, the British, Alexander the Great, very naive, a travelogue for something that happens a lot, something cops do all the time, infiltrate organizations, Martin Luther King, cops in the Environmental movement having children with people, he put her back on the list, oh he’s going with her, she’ll hate me for years (but its for his own good), the original plan, we’re going to the concentration camp together, meta evidence, just a reeducation camp or a death camp?, why is this report being told, a quasi-official report, bed talk, flying by the seat of his pants, who go into deep?, crushed and reeducated, oops, Poul Anderson tragedy, what it means to be a Valgonian, maybe he wants to take the punishment?, Dominic Flandry, agent for a galactic empire, what else are you going to do?, better than anarchy, disillusionment with empire, the strongest case, how Valgonian soldiers treat earth Terries, the SS showing up in Paris, Resistance movies set in occupied France, the occupied French people, we train them to be rude, treat the people nicely, don’t call them ragheads, be courteous, apparently not racist at all, play that up, super-interesting, the United Nations, a psychotechnic league story, Anderson’s political beliefs, world government, from pro-UN to anti-UN, its empire, the UN as a governing body for the world, while this is happening in Afghanistan, “it’s going to be really weird when in 6 months this podcast comes out”, Ender’s Game, H.G. Wells’ martians in The War Of The Worlds, I have no race prejudices, a menace to the peace of the galaxy, the lesser empire, no inferior races but only more or less advanced ones, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, clashing for a difference in philosophy, the lies we tell ourselves about WWII, we won the war, its all about Europe, 80% of Germans were killed by the Russians, D-Day, one of the many many lies we tell ourselves about WWII, that was the just war, we have some doubts about the nuking of humans, firebomb the civilians all to death, WWI civilian casualties vs. WWII civilian casualties, A Bright Shining Lie (1988), Col. John Paul Vann, a true believer, a civil war for the liberation of a country from its occupiers, propping up the South Vietnam government is like propping up Karzai, how long?, centuries, thousands of years, Will is very shy but has ideas, pull together ideas, social engineering, where science fiction comes from: put smart people in front of dumb people, Paul says Will needs to read The Marching Morons (Jesse agrees, and says it is a bad story), we’ll be welcomed as liberators, top down speeches, always another excuse as to why we have to keep doing the war, this is just a story, this position in science fiction that is uncritical of technocracy and experts knowing what is better than other people, narcotic gas is like daddy coming to take the toys away, the most disturbing part of the story, paternalism, the general premise of the relationship with Barbara, lovey dovey story (been lying to her the whole time), she’s supposed to hate him for years she can’t help it, paternalism even in his romantic relationship, get queasy, a very interesting story, not the most well thought out story ever, an underground agent’s thoughts, its going to make me suffer when I flip on these people, a price you pay that your bosses don’t pay, hence promoted two ranks, an abstract evil, the meta-dialogue, what these titles mean, it even meant something, just sounds that came out of people’s mouths, an eagerness close to hero-worship, the colonel, if you use the language enough you get to believe it yourself, what does West Point teach its officers, engineering and road building and well digging, a tweets abandoning the Kurds, what the internal politics of the two parties will use against each other, using the Kurds against Bush, against Biden, woefully obtuse or lying or stupid, “abandon” or “support” the Kurds, now Jesse gets it, are their Valgonian factions pro or against, just the party line, if you’re people who are doing this, orders, we need a win hear, go take a building, you don’t need to know and you can’t inquire, a submission, its all lie, Jesse’s meta-text, maybe this is more sophisticated than it looks, Barbara’s picture, on page 35, she looks like a robot, she looks like a Stepford wife, our hero with the mohawk, ramrod straight, staring into space, she’s from an old family, she’s rich, he’s marrying into this old rich family, a wander the Earth guy, whose going to be top dog, a best friend he punches out, dirty ’30s hobo story, an awful lot of tramping going on on Earth, we’re told there’s no homelessness and no hunger anymore, only tackling inherent racism, the difference between the original Star Trek and the Next Generation, it comes back in Deep Space Nine, and to our profit, Voyager, the Maquis is the more sophisticated reading, admirals are almost always wrong, “the war is winnable”, the Thomas Friedman unit, Matt Taibbi, writing “the next six months will tell” for twenty years, New York Times columnists being consistently wrong for twenty years, your job pitch, returning to the story, time as a tramp and a steel worker and his time hanging out around Barbara’s house, it sounds like he’s trying to blow his cover, a very strange tonal note, let’s go kill a Valgonian vs. I try to be fair to everyone, class, we need to cultivate the elite of earth, help the Terries become whatever they need to be, at some point in the future, the Ferengis are going to become part of the Federation, the Dominion is the evil version of the Federation, our union that is called the Federation, the details on that, genetically engineered enforcers, their ultimate motivation, the solids don’t like shapeshifters, the Klingons and the Romulans can get along because they have four limbs and a head, Odo is an infiltration unit, the evil humans, we need to be incredibly skeptical of power, an endless fleet of admirals, policy this and plan that, you can’t trust it, as a provocateur isn’t to just start the wars its to include, the January 6th [*insurrection*] was infiltrated, the Whitmer kidnapping plot was infiltrated, a very flawed hero, should we have any respect for him?, the greater good going to be achieved or is this the occupation of the Philippines, enhanced interrogation for the greater good, kind of naive, a fun adventure vs. a guide for thought, in the thinking department, kind of juvenile?, written to quickly for pay?, Anderson is always competent but has no style, Philip K. Dick has weird grammatical stuff, H.P. Lovecraft has his own quirks, a Scandinavian, thematic, robots and boobs and weird grammar, the ideas flow very easily, internal monologue, the king of clarity is Asimov, Asimov is very simple, Anderson is a little silly, the muscles removed from his ears so they wouldn’t wiggle anymore, silliness and tragedy, the dead wife, Flight To Forever, super-nova class warships, a doomed romance, Tau Zero, a happy ever after polygamy story at the cost of the universe: “it was worth it”, fan theories, how the Klingons got that way, arguing for hours, page 36 (23 of the PDF), still capitalists and communists, a million petty divisions, an alien firm but just rule, why we have to be there, they’re so divided unlike us, that’s the way you have to run things, the messiness is what they’re against, what horrifies people the most on the deep web, the bottom of the iceberg of the deep web, whatever google has on its how page, way down deep, underneath all the car accidents and horror body porn, art pieces, tones and two color bars intersecting with each other, Voynich manuscript style websites, where’s the search bar, it needs to be ordered, spell everything the same way everyone else does, you are forced to go to school, you don’t want to live a disordered life do you?, you can’t make your own letter and put it in your own sentences, speech precedes the alphabet, this is the one way and the only way, we’re building roads and building bridges, the ultimate problem here, what does that education camp do, regular propaganda, it has to be felt, the weird bard symbolize all the races, the black site torture facilities, conform, A Clockwork Orange, Alex is a psychopath and a rapist, will should have a notebook, don’t impose a notebook on him, orthography is important, communicating efficiently with others, Sequoyah the Cherokee people, we will preserve our language by making it readable, the G8, all the people wearing suits, the Mao suit, the respectable white shirt and a tie and a jacket, Qaddafi, to honor his heritage, putting on that three piece suit to become legit, the Saudis don’t do that, a subversion with in the text (not on purpose), a psyop, Jesse doesn’t trust a plan, Qanon, foolish to trust any sort of authority, sunlight and cameras all over everybody’s business, a panopticon facing at the guards and their bosses, your average Valgonian, the stupid Section 31, the deep state doesn’t acknowledge their secret police, the FBI is not secret police, police are in other countries, they do the same job as the secret police, thought provoking but not a thought leading story, were you surprised to see the words sluts in 1951, sluts are good, what of it, how did he get away with that?, working class women with low morals, hair like molten golden, blonde or red-haired, the stepford type, Poul Anderson’s personal life, Astrid Anderson, Greg Bear, science fiction royalty, no kings or queens please, the cover picture, is one of these our guy?, Barbara is in the red dress, our guy is in the grey suit, more like a hive than a rebel base, a big conspiracy, the Valgonian conspiracy, the official line and what everybody knows, the official plan doesn’t seem to be like what everybody knows, talking to actual anarchists, we know the cops are trying to infiltrate us, dead give away you’re a Fed, looking for traitors, its sorta incoherent, an accelerationist theory, voting for Trump will make the thing that the United States come fast, tearing off the bandaid vs. slowly peeling it off, a faction of Christianity, Justin Trudeau, we need the funding from this pipeline to fight climate change, Jesse predicts the 2021 Canadian federal election results [sadly, accurately 5 weeks before it happened], not enough hope, what’s their hit rate, the domino theory, fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here’, the Taliban vs. Boogaloo Bois, joining the rebel alliance vs. subverting the rebel alliance, a fixup?, it was all a lie!, we aren’t told what I was told we were, a worthy read, Phil Chenevert made it very easy reading. Horace Gold, best of Galaxy (The Galaxy Reader), its a good story, needs a little something, what the point was, Terrie Like Me, an exploration of colonialism, the British in India, it doesn’t line up, the stratification, a copy of Britain, getting an upper middle class going, physically bigger, they’re cold because they’re red Scandinavian with mohawks, to fry an egg, pajamas and tea and curry and eastern mysticism, what do the Valgonians get?, why you have to be so occupy-y, buy into the empire, they want to pull their troops away, we don’t want to be occupying you but you still need us, we’re going to choose your rebellion leader for you, Karzai’s a trustworthy guy, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s retrieval artist series, alien laws, The Disappeared, Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke, apotheosis, science fiction properties, The Way Of The Pilgrim by Gordon Dickson, Jesse is ruined, smaller versions of us, you’re not worthy, the Dread Empire series by Walter Jon Williams, a parody of Paul’s writing would need “Shenanigans Happen” “you have to tweet that”, Will is sated by this conversation.