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


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

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

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:

Posted by Jesse Willis