The SFFaudio Podcast #488 – READALONG: Dune (Book III of III) by Frank Herbert

August 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #488 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Bryan Alexander, and Will talk about Dune: Book III “The Prophet” by Frank Herbert aka the third third of Dune.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965, The Santaroga Barrier, El Santos!, Luke Burrage, the worst part of the book, good stuff in here, amazing, stupendous, and really good, not spectacular, the most spectacular, man to man, a knife fight, the sparkling knife fights of conversation, reading the books for the action, an idea person, heavy on the ideas, the setup, the culmination, splayed out, family atomics, Paul’s analysis, which baby to never see again, it isn’t a Dune problem it’s an every book problem, who wants answers?, Herbert’s answers, it can’t exist without the other two, the only movie we should ever talk about, the scenes, the dialogue is all there, what’s missing, there’s a gun that doesn’t go off, very strange, the gun of Count Fenring, denouement, a friend of an emperor, Fenring vs. Paul, “Count Fenring: A Profile”, within his capabilities, not about Paul, this is Count Fenring’s book, this guy’s the one guy that’s never been in my vision, a lot of promise, what kind of power is it going to be?, the power of invisibility, Kwisatz Haderach, Jesse’s twitter profile, who Jesse modeled himself after, I don’t want that mantle, about the accretion of power, why Dune Messiah is such a fantastic book, private language, they did seduce Feyd, the Imperium beyond the Harkonnens, Russian Czar’s abdication, even if Fenring could defeat and kill Paul it wouldn’t stop anything, tapping into the collective consciousness, a Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Handerson quadrology, no attempt has ever been completed, walking wounded, sterile, a could-have-been, a powerless eunuch, forty or fifty pages where Paul isn’t mentioned, worldbuilding, Leto II, Alia lives, seeing all ends, the surfer on the wave, a lot of smart folks anticipating, the flags, C.H.O.A.M. or U.N., does that mean the bombs don’t hurt?, cover, saves the emperor’s life, a beautiful cruel joke, to reign in Hell, soft and wonderful, straight from the Iliad, too comfortable, from their decadence, a callback to the Trojan War, rest and pay taxes, Ottoman Janissaries, going crazy without a purpose, all the what ifs, suppose Paul dies, kill the rest of the universe, a tyrannical genocide, let’s go conquer the galaxy, destroy the spice, galactic civilization collapses, interstellar society, the best possible outcome, a Boethian decision, Book II, parallel structure, ooh I’m smart, happy birthday, it makes you feel like a supergenius, plans within plans feints within feints, combat to the death, another parallel, Feyd tries to take the Baron’s position, Thufir’s blindside, the Baron is so lovably evil (and competent), make Arrakis great again?, gluttonous lust, the slaveboy with a posion stinger in his thigh, let Feyd think that I saw it myself, actually I’m the smart one, Nefud, you still need me, I’m going to show you still need me, I’m going to remember this, the next scene that we never see, killing his harem, to take his punishment, Alia sting, Stilgar’s challenge for Paul’s leadership, should I cut off my right arm, so well highlighted, a fear-power relationship vs. a love-power relationship, the Baron hates truthsayers, the Bush administration, it could be true that’s good enough, truth means nothing, for the sake of tradition, ride the maker, this idea of history or necessity, bought a Bene Gesserit, you pay for that Amazon Echo dot but Amazon should be paying you, you know my tastes, I’m totally gay, the straight up interpretation, I don’t want them spying on me and manipulating me, on the Kinsey scale, other ways of getting semen, one would be valuable for…, advice, I trust them not, changing the subject, when Thufir has a fight with the Baron, there are things that you don’t need to know, Salusa Secundus, that tiny little fact (that the Baron wanted to turn the Arrakis into a prison planet), you fucked up, Rabban has to be cut off, the whole of the missing years, at least three years, the toddler, to save himself from the emperor, how the sardaukar are created, a spare heir, acting instinctually smartly, a political calculation that saves the Emperor’s life, to tame Thufir Hawat, making all the right chess moves, the Baron’s fate is not as forseeable, Baron Harkonnen did nothing wrong!, shall I dispatch her now Emperor, a victory for her brother, the revenge, kills her own grandfather, justice, this poor Baron, still ends up dead, a brilliance to this, easy to dismiss, everybody here is a monster, you should be afraid of Paul, Gurney gets an Earldom, and every surviving Atredies gets a title, Baronets all over the place, massive reward, this victory, the prophet Mohamed, all the Muslim lands, satrapys, Alexander the Great, Leopold II, plundering Africa, squeezing and squeezing, always a touch of the calculated, not from the heart, wanting everyone loyal, I NEED him, he’s a tool, forget the equipment, we need men now, like in the first book, shortly thereafter, not what the old Atredies would have done, regretting the loss of the equipment, the men vs. the equipment, nicely balanced parallel, the appeal of Paul, one of many many games, a fantastic power fantasy, Slan, the X-Men, Kyle MacLachlan, master of the universe, age 14, Achilles was 17 in the Iliad, cheeks too full for the desert, seductive, quietly undermining, if Aragorn was the main character in The Lord Of The Rings, Voltaire, tend your own garden, Irulan, how cruel Paul is to Irulan, I’m gonna treat her so bad baby!, Irulan plotting to kill Paul, the ultimate internal question, religion and politics in the same cart, the ultimate power fantasy for Paul, this quote is fantastic, treating Herbert as non-fiction, the Amish, that orthodox effort, that moment of peace for Paul and Chani, quiet hypocrisy, “terrible purpose” is repeated 23 times, another change, feeling it, a nice lady who has a little test for a little boy, the heat and pain pile, an iconic scene for all of science fiction, I see the truth of it, explosion of realization in the mental sphere, a drug book, Gaius Helen Mohiam appears like a witch, kind of kind, wench poured my water, her apprentice, you disobeyed your orders, until she shows up here at the end, how is she depicted, this child is an abomination!, is it TP? telepathy?, just like when I was getting consciousness uploaded when I was a girl, is she wrong?, mom shouldn’t do drugs when she is pregnant, making the sacrifice, child genius, leading a regiment at age 3, she’s meant to be the bad guy, we’re supposed to recoil, the coming jihad, only a glimpse, the dark future, this desert power, addicted to oil, solar power, Dune solved, when they go too far, only spice powered, no solar, no wind, cutting-off avenues of caught, Jesse is not Elon Musk’s team, artificial intelligence, AI as a weapon, hippy dippy engineering sociologist anthropology guy, terraforming, this is about O.P.E.C., the Hudson’s Bay Company or the East India Company, his stock in CHOAM is forfeit, brutal indignity, title rich and money poor, the role of oil, Butlerian Jihad as a useful phrase, techlash, jihad is not a word that sells well today, biased data, accentuating inequalities, dreadful flavour, future history, Isaac Asimov’s future history, tinkering back towards that, cast away AIs, the decline of Empire, science as priesthoods, that last Cold War, Giving Up The Gun by Noel Perrin, banning crossbows, giving up nuclear stockpiles, blew their noses off, high technology and its opposite, star spanning starcraft and medieval style politics, how Marissa’s games match her audiobooks, Horizon Zero Dawn, a robot safari, retreating from technology, ruins are computer screens, going back to the Amish, Mennonites, weird policy, no electricity, airpower, blenders running on compressed air, technological policies, what are the ramifications of this technology, landline telephones, cellphone technology, Africa’s wired cellular wallets, digital currency based on cellphone credits, what technology will be useful, Canada’s participation in NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, WarGames (1983), nukes, we took the missiles but not the nuclear tips, Defense Minister and Prime Minster of Canada, advice on top secret stuff, managing treaties, political cost, being in NORAD, Iceland’s invasion during WWII, you can have your country back, a giant bully south of the border, obey the will of the giant country, John Diefenbaker, John F. Kennedy, what Syria is all about, the White Helmets, no giant surprise, an actual machine out there doing work, get on board or find a path through, the Bomarc Missile Crisis, the joint strike fighter debacle, if you look at the history of Canada in the right way, a positive force, Pierre Eliot Trudeau was paling around with Castro, a true image, Cuban doctors, plot machinations in the book mirroring a reality happening in the nows, mushrooms, more Marissa territory, hanging out with that worm, a coma for three weeks, some trip, time opening up, a sniff of a new drug, Feyd’s knife’s poison is transmuted, “poison” appears 117 times in Dune, chief poisoner, the Russian doping epidemic, bend over comrade, early on in book three, she took the coffee and sipped it, Frank Herbert’s at a rock concert, tripping out on the floor is transmuting, hot and delicious, room service, heaven for Jessica, she had thought of coffee and it had appeared, Tau, the subtle poison of the spice diet, enlightenment, their minds rejected what they could not encompass, more Slan, the guide, guided through the trip, Joe Rogan, taking the arrogance out of it, training, the etymology of psychedelic, psyche = soul/mind, delos = clarity/manifest, no mischaracterization, pattern recognition enhancement, seeming like a truth, the way the birds fly, “truth” is in the book 90 times, “pattern” comes up 48 times, the pre-spice mass, gathering up the magic mushrooms, a convenience, metaphorical, the power to destroy a thing is the power to control it, heavy shit, super-dark, science fiction genre history, partaking in jaspers, not the full-dune effect, amphetamines or coffee, town awareness, telepathy, drugs as a huge theme, stimulants, barefoot in the head, Robert Silverberg, Norman Spinrad, 1980, super-anti drugs, an exponent of coffee, Neuromancer, case is strung out all the time, reflecting what was happening in the culture, his case officer, Armitage implants a drug neutralizer, the ultimate solution for Reagan, The Hellgramite Method, how Keith Moon of The Who died, suicide, how science fiction shifts, innerspace going from biological to cyberspace, dated in interesting ways, the role of gender, Planet Of The Apes (1963), where Paul rides the sandworm, making the models feel realistic and big, the worm as a dragon, the Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe, much of madness more of sin, coffin worm of a dead world, a man making a steed out of a giant god, Reading, Short And Deep, Strange Exodus, gutted cosmic carcass, primal lust, humanity becomes a parasite, the image of man conquering death, it looks like a shot from Dune, a flea on a dog, the ecology, threatening a chain reaction, destroying all the oil like Saddam Huessein during the first Gulf War, not an atomic model, oil and drugs, Jessica’s power to transmute, a superhero story, Doc Savage stuff, if you’re anxious about your body, why Bryan doesn’t like the Lynch movie, minute operations, a weirding module defense in The Appendix show, that interior way, the women dare not look in that place, a place that women can’t go, the balance of the force, controlling the gender of their babies, controlling ovulation, super-yoga, a superpower, ultradiscipline, she didn’t seem to have an inner life, the women in here have huge inner lives, we spend a ton of time in Jessica’s mind, what’s going on in Paul’s mind, he becomes an enigma, the way Jordan Peterson talks about male and female minds, Jessica is a mom then she’s a reverend mom, Paul you do what’s good for you, is her mind expansion there a reflection, if men don’t have father figures, being raised by mothers alone, mothers want to protect their children, toughening, only giving into one instinct, having been tested, why the kwisatz haderach has to be male, the Y chromosome, how midwives are always women, midwives dudes, are male obstetricians uncool?, a caste based thing, training schools, Gurney even went to some school, the Suk school, training academies, he’s a mentat, who is the emperor’s mentat?, male domains and female domains, women’s roles and men’s roles, anthropological science fiction, traditional societies, strict gender roles, a remix of a medieval society, historical framework, Paul as the white savior, a male who solves a female problem, sexism, too easy, how powerful the role of Jessica is, Chani and Jessica and Alia, the brilliant one, the wise one, here too, there has to be a pattern, a version of Dune with Paula Atredies, Leta who bears a daughter, Grass by Sheri S. Tepper, if one was doing a university course on science fiction, one semester for each of Dune’s three books, an amazingly rich text, he’s the baddie, the subversion, from the fourteen year-old’s point of view, a wonderful adventure that makes you feel smart, over and over, a war book, a drug book, history, the Folio Society edition, Scott Lynch, Dracula, Bram Stoker, non of his other books are Dune level, The Dosadi Experiment, Whipping Star, Herbert is playing games of complexity and depth, Gene Wolfe, mind stretching, Samuel Delaney, a mental workout, an emotional workout, The White Plague, The Children Of Men, emotional destruction, taking story into all kinds of places, 159

The Sandworm Strikes - illustration by Ed J. Hannigan

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #487 – READALONG: Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein

August 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #487 – Jesse, Maissa Bessada, and Julie Davis talk about Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein

Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding September to December 1957, a juvenile, Julie’s favourite Heinlein, Starship Troopers, really subtle, themes!, the prison on the moon, “I’m tired of being told your philosophy”, reconsidering, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, the computer, it’s on THE MOON!, so good, lectures, Maissa’s first time, Glory Road, crazy stuff, how gently, grossly obsessed, handled deftly, serialized, magazines back then, magazines suck today, magazines have been on the wane, the promise, so cool, not written for children, Double Star, looking up and remembering stuff, Heinlein’s worldbuilding, three major cultures, Jubulpur, the Free People, and Earth, the Hegemony, little drop ins, the planet of the squid people, reading into Earth’s history, launching his imagination, because of its alienness, what strikes you, the ride, all those incarnations, a blank slate, the unspoken premise, slavery, how free is anybody, deeply entrenched within the text, Jesse never sees themes, no themes, that word: “FREE”, and that was the freest time he had ever known, straight out of Kim by Rudyard Kipling, he ended it the same way, the thing that makes you free, I’m going to finish your work, the two priests and the monk and the military officer, his heirship, the Free Traders are the horse dealers of this world, thoroughly embedded in the culture that he’s in, the responsibilities grow, the ending section is boring and businessy, getting a handle, coming back to Pop, he would have joined the military again, reconstruct and deconstruct, reading every Heinlein book, maybe its these Dell books, reading a ton of Philip K. Dick, reading life or listening life, PKD characters are always talking about chamber music, writing those crazy books, being super-enthusiastic about it, in Heinlein’s books, his early reading influnced his own writing, really obvious, when Thorby gets on the Sisu, what Heinlein did when he was in the Navy, mechanical computers, exactly what his job was, classic who sunk my battleship, shooting nukes instead of canon, paralyzing beam, that esprit de corps, making it a family, we’re making it a matriarchy, the other thing he’s obsessed with is manners (in a way that no other author is), no normal decent person would, the gas-lighting grandparents, slavery in Canada, the underground railroad (was 30 years), between the American Revolution and the American Civil War, Oliver Wiswell, fleeing Tories, slaves in New France, it’s cold up there, slavery is still a reality, Libya’s slave market, Blackbirding, fruit plantations of the Pacific, indentured servitude for six years, Nate And Hayes (1983), an action adventures, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Tommy Lee Jones, non-Frakis, Suomi, the Finnish word for Finnish, they can’t see it, putting scabs on himself, getting pissed off, making slavery look ok, the whole theme, supporting fascism, chicken hawk politicians, a thoughtful book, guiding you like a teacher, being wise, heavy handed?, the movie of Starship Troopers is a parody of the Starship Troopers the book, militarism is something worthy of mockery, we gotta take it serious, every time he changes jobs and culture, a new kind of unfreedom, philosophical pacifist, pacifism in opposition to militarism, what Heinlein is always coming back to, the grandparents are a slave to the money, what’s going on with their ships?, did or do the grandparents know?, so removed, are they that dense, the uncle knows, a disagreement about the ending of the book, did the uncle set up the parents?, he is the baddie of the book, willing to do anything to keep his power, he clearly has a lot to hide, a yacht with three passengers and no cargo, this is the exact plot of Netflix’s Iron First, “hey white kids kung fu is cool!”, political correctness doesn’t care about facts or logic, Danny Rand’s return to the estate, somebody at Marvel read this book?, lawyer characters, its going to cost you a fortune!, words of wisdom, talking to an experienced mechanic, is he going to marry his cousin?, they’re on the path for it, the career he needs, a person cant run out on responsibility, being so devoted to freedom…, what do you mean by slavery, being under the whip, Paul is a slave of Christ, that wisdom from the anthropologist, she’s fantastic, fun stuff, when Baslam is dead, he’s shortened, his words come back, he literally comes back, and so does grandmother, “citizen”, mmmhhhm!, the Sargonese nine worlds, end slavery by other means, India, caste, “levels of responsibility”, let me tell you better than you know, I’ve got scars on my back, the value of an open mind, how big is this book, it feels huge, so well packed, it feels breezy, all one character’s POV (with a few exceptions), age 4 or 5 or 6 to 19 or 20, Baslam looks at the boy, a hunted animal, opinions or endorsements of former owners, Jesse is going to blow everyone’s mind, Sisu came into popular North American parlance during the Winter War, 300,000–340,000 vs. 425,000–760,000, 2,514–6,541 tanks vs. 32 tanks, 3,880 aircraft vs. 114 aircraft, the Soviet Union won WWII, 27 million Russians died in WWII, Sisu expresses their natural character, the word that explains Finland,

The Finns have something they call sisu. It is a compound of bravado and bravery, of ferocity and tenacity, of the ability to keep fighting after most people would have quit, and to fight with the will to win. The Finns translate sisu as “the Finnish spirit” but it is a much more gutful word than that. Last week the Finns gave the world a good example of sisu by carrying the war into Russian territory

how Thorby acts at the end, just sign this thing, end use license agreements and terms of service, implied interactions with Grandmother, a whole novel or novel series hidden within just that line, bringing him into the family, a puddle of blood formed on the deck, your blood is now in the steel, sympathetic magic, he was now part of the ship, seeing how this is lived out, why does Baslam buying Thorby?, unmutated earth ancestry, he needs an assistant, many other lots, the whip marks and the price, he is literally buying a slave, he threatens to manumit him, “don’t manumit me, pop!”, Virginia Heinlein never bore any children, fertility treatments, all they could do was practice, the Heinleins never adopted, these juvenile books express a longing, he’s always the old man, interesting transgender issues, I Will Fear No Evil, a Missouri military guy, a free thinker, our Glory Road show, Heinlein should be handed out to everybody, Heinlein would have been a great father, slaves purchased for sexual purposes, this could be creepy, it’s not creepy at all, he’s mother and father to the boy, a touching book, very maternal for a dude, Baslam’s motivation, for no more children to be like Thorby, all the little hungry Thorbys, the big picture, you turn into the uncle, Heinlein is really good at the big picture, philosophy, circumstance, here are their skeletons, he never makes sequels, we make the sequels in our own heads, Thorby’s escape, the uncle is the undoing of Thorby’s family, giant stories we build ourselves, loquacious or voluble, the standard Heinlein asshole character, running around Bombay, where’d you get that scarf?, “I inherited it.”, that lesson is paralleled, how to get Thorby’s identity, when Heinlein is in the military, make it happen anyways, those kinds of lessons, lecturing people about morality, why Heinlein why?, no particular action, we’ve been taught, he’s trying to protect the kid, stealing from the beggar bowl, the ripples that effect somebody else, a true story we see expanded upon with every new level that he hits, Heinlein is more subtle here than in his other books, Mother Shaum, is she a brothel owner?, a parallel to Kim, the only time he has a mother, advisor, grandmother, one big strange family, more of the behind the scenes development, the nice note, indicating vs. preaching, the People (the Finish fleet of Viking trading ships), super-rich, potlatch style, so much prestige!, amazing cool culture, they’re racists!, from the anthropologists POV, Captain Krause, eating the soup, so good, real science fiction, anthropological science fiction, their name means the people, we all understand each other, SFFaudio is the people for that, right here this is our little spaceship, the trading ground, at the gathering, Jesse’s gonna lay out his stuff on this grass, their ability to turn Fraki off, admonished immediately, raiding neighboring communities for slaves, a path to one of the group, not the chattel slavery at the beginning of the book, evil slavers, the hope that was held out, Julie also heard that In Our Time episode, American slavery, Roman slavery, the business model, expressing the cultures, examining it, there’s nobody more anti-slavery than Heinlein, that’s “problematic”, Baslam’s fight to stop slavery, the ghost that haunts the whole book, Rudbecks, a giant evil state corporation, slavery is preferable to genocide, prison industrial complex slavery, people start wars for slaves, a more pleasant vs. preferable alternative to genocide, integration was hated by a lot of white folks, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lincoln, a book about slavery that isn’t about American slavery, Paul I hope you’re listening, why everyone should be reading Heinlein, literal starships, a book about a concept and anthropology (not technology), my other father, the way to find justice is to be fair with other people and not care how they treat you, calm things down, the judges, the justices, draw nigh and ye shall be heard, a lot of witnesses, the uncle’s daughter was named Leda, does it mean anything in this context, his swan body, Thorby is The Ugly Duckling and so is Baslam, pure of heart, the book ends with Thorby picking up another father, just in a way that Baslam was just, Stranger In A Strange Land, a great fondness for one particular kind of lawyer, using the weapon of the law to get justice, another wonderful person to showcase, how fatherly, looking at some pretty girls, back to Kim, the same tiny family, a good book, here’s one, a good story is hard to find.

Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Citizen Of The Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein
Darrell K. Sweet illustration for CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #455 – READALONG: The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

January 8, 2018 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #455 -Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Moon Moth by Jack Vance

Talked about on today’s game:
1961, dude!, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, the Seeing Ear Theatre adaptation, a setting and a culture and an experience, not very science fictiony, no weird transhumanism, deep interesting cultures and settings, more in the fantasy, a science fiction setting but it feels like fantasy, anthropological science fiction, Rite Of Passage by Alexi Panshin, Dune by Frank Herbert, goblins, the fantasy element of the masks, are you bold enough to wear a sea-dragon conquerer mask?, the adaptation follows the plot fairly faithfully, other POVs, a little more linearly, the ambassador’s folly, a masterful adaptation, like nothing we’ve ever seen before, it feels relaxing, gorgeous description, the plot is very stressful, how does this work?, the Larry Niven of economics and culture, high praise, Haxo Angmark, a Vance specialty (names), stealing his “money belt”, Cory Doctorow’s wuffie, so fascinating, I want to walk these streets, my father is a magistrate, a very libertarian society, Texas, L. Neil Smith, no expansionism, the night men, like a role-playing game, cannibalize whatever’s on the shore, indigenous people, captured by the night men!, social status, far weirder than any kind of Marxian communism, when he’s embarrassed about the fish with a face in the water, he’s acculturating to the culture, “religious convictions”, sticky and annoying like a thistle, the philology of our language and hacked it, Edwer Thissle, David D. Levine’s Tk’Tk’Tk’, what Jesse senses what walking the streets of Japan would be like, a dystopia, no government, it all comes down to violence, a very humble mask, how Saudi society works, a married couple would never show their faces to each other, a mock mask?, the afterword, clothes and nudity, the slaves are for having sex with, Jesse has questions, “I’ve been working on it for seventeen years”, a public ledger (like blockchain), a robot, electronic devices, an electric instrument, practically speaking, a bat-belt full of tiny musical instruments?, ornate and complex, the aliens are humans right?, orcs?, a weird human culture, the four outsiders, essentially humans (with pale faces), the consular representative, an anthropologist, Thomas Piketty, how do you have trade with these folks?, a trade port, fun to imagine, maybe you have people who hold value (for trade), expatriates, I will return you to the islands if you don’t obey me, food is incredibly plentiful, kind of like Venice, imaging Venice the whole time, the Dunsanian stories by H.P. Lovecraft, or Idle Days On The Yann by Lord Dunsany, the fantastic orient?, what Korea would be like from an Italian point of view, some happy fools have opened up a bookstore, people don’t want books, nail salon, skin salon, hair salon, tooth whitening, did you see a man come in here and did he take something?, why Steen was mad at somebody, he’s not acting like a Canadian, everyone in the states is so rude, so apologetic, if you don’t acknowledge how terrible you’ve been, an immoral slouch, Iranians have a way of talking around a subject (and will become annoyed when Jesse doesn’t understand), what would it have taken?, a kind of meritocracy, how reputation works in the States, infamous, Chelsea Manning, going from being a reviled traitor to having cachet, a celebrity in need of a couch, their visit to me makes me higher in the society, I gave Al Pacino a place to sleep for the night because his car broke down, how selfies work, some percentage of people want their picture taken with celebrities, our strakh in our culture is attention, Instagram people without their Instagram filters, Sirene is 1000 years in our future, free stuff, stereotypes about New Zealanders, people love Kiwis, an alien as a woman (than as a foreigner), cultural baggage, James Clavell’s Shōgun miniseries adaptation, feudal Japan, swaggering samurais, you’re disgusting and hairy, easing us into it, learning Japanese, the cultural barrier, Jesse’s strahk level plummets, the murder mystery aspect, brilliant!, the weak part, subtle or detailed, an excel sheet, a locked planet or locked houseboat mystery, Robert van Gulik, the whole murder mystery detective genre, you participate in the solving of the mystery, almost there, Judge Dee, like Sherlock Holmes but set in Ming China, a rich and decadent society, Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, there is a structural class system, you guys are building one, number one in plutocrats!, Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, their highest hope, falling from class position, how one gets raised out of the strakh level you’re born in to, how people change classes, sociology and anthropology, the business department, Jesse is insulting someone, everybody can be a manager, this story raises so many questions about our own societies, it is not a mirror to us, StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith, obsessed with the baroque, in the way that Tolkien is obsessed, the ornate social structures, The Potters Of Frisk, Planet Of Adventure, a tapestry of different cultures, unlock the puzzle of the culture, powned!, one delicious five volume package, what are Vance’s literary roots, science fiction friends, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, diverse life experience, California, sui generis, the Demon Princes novels, phone booth, his roots are not in the Clarkeian-Sturgeonian tradition, The Dying Earth, one book leads to another book, Paul got lucky, getting the urge, the BBC In Our Time on Moby Dick, the whiteness of the whale, the pasteboard masks, Philip K. Dick, Halloween, thing are quite different, we wear a mask that blinds us to the world, we wear a mask that blinds us to us, Herman Melville, hijab, it plays to the base, what would it be like to be in a world, this is a very weird world, what form of popular entertainment is being satirized, opera, music, scary talented, an operatic world, musical accompaniment, 24/7 opera, the first audio drama Marissa enjoyed, in the audiobook, an animal!, Marissa got into it, Bryan is nodding, a metaphor for getting used to a new society, a metaphor for learning a foreign language, that sense of fear, a classic mystery novel, almost a western, John D. MacDonald, plotting was the hard thing, gathering the tools up to bluff your way through, what is the author thinking, what are they trying to do, isn’t wonderful to think about beautiful dead women, I think the mystery is the plot, what would it be like where nobody has any identity except what they say is their identity, nicely shoehorned, wow! look at this world, its the one with the masks, Marissa used to be so shy, if you’re in anyway alien or introverted this is playing with the fear of that, fear of bureaucracy, at the mercy of the killer, a judo flip, Vance always has a sardonic sense of humour, The Dying Earth, civilizations rising and falling, magic, Chun the unavoidable, one of the greatest villains, a sub-genre, Hothouse by Brian Aldiss, Clark Ashton Smith, Last Castle, The Dragon Masters, I want more, so much is in it and it has a plot too?, more Vance on the schedule, the orbits that writers move in, the focus on language, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, transformed language, Isaac Asimov, a total twin of science fiction, we do this job, we engage in the reality, fantasy as escape, working it out, this is the anthropology section of the lirbary, the soft sciences, Larry Niven did too much of it, there’s nothing more to say at the moment, if its not bio – what else you got?, genetics and epigenetics, philosophical science fiction, Mack Reynolds, a post-scarcity society, a great problem to have, nobody is starving to death, cheap food, a rich society, wearing the right suit, look at Bill Maher in his french cuffs, its a $5,000 suit, they look like clowns out of their context, the hair and makeup departments, that’s what all the slaves are doing on Sirene, hair and nails, tuning the instruments,

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

The Moon Moth - illustration by Dick Francis

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Rocannon’s World by Ursula K. Le Guin

August 5, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le GuinRocannon’s World
By Ursula K. Le Guin; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
5 CDs, 5 hrs – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433210822
Themes: / Science Fiction / Anthropology / Interstellar travel / Aliens / Telepathy /
Listen to sample

Against a cold war subtext of a well-meaning interstellar civilization trampling other cultures in its blind panic to defend itself against a nebulous enemy from beyond the galaxy, Ursula Le Guin kicks off her vaunted Hainish novels with a tale that blends elements of high fantasy, space opera, anthropology, and political commentary. It’s got a little bit of everything: a quest for revenge across two continents and an ocean by boat, by foot, and flying cat-horse back; a main character immersed in adventure, yet torn by guilt for his own decisions and those of his government; a classic “god gambit” featuring an invincible, invisible suit of armor, a sword, and a trial by fire; and not one, not two, not three, but five species of intelligent hominids on the same planet.

Okay, so not all of it flies as plausible science fiction. But it is compelling, as a ripping good adventure yarn, as an examination of how legends are created, and as a thought-provoking examination of our own cultural chauvinism. The complexity of emotions that roil in Rocannon’s soul as he moves into and through this world are so believable, the implausibility of some of the story elements evaporates from our notice. And even the multiplicity of intelligences works on a symbolic level. The subterranean clay-folk, the laughing Fiann, and the lords and mid-men of the North all function like the multiple poles of human nature, offering a mirror of our own nobility and baseness.
Is it LeGuin’s best? Not by a longshot. She’s still developing her craft here, still conforming to a male-dominated genre, and still working on making characters that live and breathe. But the focus on anthropology, the nobility of the small being ground beneath the powerful, and the truth that lies beneath layers of language made for falsity that will permeate so much of her later work are all there.

This is a work of solid storytelling that carefully juxtaposes just the right elements at just the right angles to produce not cold logic but warm emotion. As such, Stefan Rudnicki’s muscular, antiseptic voice is the perfect vehicle to deliver this tale. His tone is impeccable, his pronunciation exact, yet within moments all you hear is rushing wind, blaring static, crackling flames, and shocking silence, the sounds of exhilaration, heartbreak, fear, and guilt. It’s well worth your time.

Posted by Kurt Dietz

aBoSaSoTT: The Forgotten Enemy by Arthur C. Clarke

November 19, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Online Audio 

SFFaudio Online Audio

A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou - a Resonance FM podcastRounding up recently wrapped second series of A Bite of Stars, a Slug of Time, and Thou is a pleasure. Hopefully this delightfully interesting podcast and radio show (on Resonance FM 104.4 FM in London, U.K.) will come back with a third series real soon.

In reverse order of podcast…

First, there’s a terrific tale by Arthur C. Clarke. Set in London, it’s the tale of a lonely man in a deserted London waiting for rescue. He can almost hear the helicopters. Yes, the helicopters. The slow, loud, helicopters coming inevitably from the north.

The Forgotten Enemy by Arthur C. ClarkeEpisode 16 – The Forgotten Enemy
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: 2008
First published in December 1948, in an issue of King’s College Review. In a bleak snow and ice covered London, a lone survivor faces isolation, polar bears and loneliness. But even his one hope, the idea that a rescue team is crossing the Atlantic ice sheet isn’t enough to stave off The Forgotten Enemy.

Less accessible, but probably just as interesting if you can get into it, is episode 15, which features some highly literary SF from Ursula K. Le Guin…

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou: Things by Ursula K. Le GuinEpisode 15 – Things
By Ursula K. Le Guin; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: 2008
Written by Ursula Le Guin in 1970. This is a short story about a society sharply divided between nihilist marauders and maudlin do-nothings… and two people who don’t really fit in either camp. Oh, and masonry.

There’s a little editing error in this reading of The Squirrel Cage. And, past that point, Sessions’ reading becomes very quiet, you’ll have to turn up your volume. Despite these issues during the reading of the story, you’ll keep listening, almost as if you don’t have a choice. It’s a compelling narrative of a man trapped alone in a room with a subscription to the New York Times.

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou: The Squirrel Cage by Thomas M. DischEpisode 14 – The Squirrel Cage
By Thomas M. Disch; Read by Elisha Sessions
Podcast – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: 2008
It’s a story about a writer writing for no one, or for everyone – he’s not sure which.

Episode 13, a story by Brian Aldiss, feels oddly modern, despite its age. Charles Stross might have written it. It’s funny, poignant, and rather subversive – I’m not sure exactly what lessons it teaches, but I like the lesson very much. Perhaps All the World’s Tears is just a lesson in humility? Unfortunate sound effect additions don’t destroy the reading, but they are intrusive.

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou: All The World’s Tears by Brian AldissEpisode 13 – All The World’s Tears
By Brian Aldiss; Read by Elisha Sessions
1 |MP3| – 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: A Bite Of Stars, A Slug Of Time, And Thou
Podcast: Oct. 7, 2008
The people and culture described in this 1957 short story by Brian Aldiss are human, but they don’t really act like it. Except for maybe the self-destructive part. It’s about a vitiated ecology, a mechanized society, and a desolate, wind-swept mansion where love may not be all you need.

Podcast feed:

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/slugoftime-podcast/feed/

Posted by Jesse Willis