The SFFaudio Podcast #542 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Exhalation: Stories: What’s Expected Of Us by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #542 – What’s Expected Of Us from Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang; This is an unabridged reading of What’s Expected Of Us (6 minutes) followed by a discussion of the Penguin Random House Audio audiobook of Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang.

participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, Wayne June, and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
his second collection, 17 years to come out, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, squint hard, a lot of them have a focus on children, he had some kids?, a theme, teaching and growing, parenting, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, a science fiction story with mimetic fiction problems, Dacy’s Patent Automatic Nanny, childrearing, not the major theme, background thought processes, fate and destiny, an abiding theme, care and caring, finding truths closer to home, The Great Silence, dissecting one’s own brain, straight up science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson, you fools, you’re wasting your life, Paul could rant, set on spaceships, making sense of reality, a test subject for another star, they’re all standouts, its not our universe, a creationist universe, a dread discovery, the center of the universe is elsewhere, Earth as a prototype for someone else, an epistolary manner, a crisis of faith, Poul Anderson, a mixed relationship, life after death, finding a way to be comfortable with that fact, approaching the subject of entropy, the universe is winding down, nobody is going to live forever, comforting ideas, all just whistling past the graveyard, a positive conclusion about it, how do you look into the abyss and come away with a happy attitude, be happy on the way down, Oomphalos, I’m in charge now, now she has free will, he explores free will from every direction, the audiobook from Tantor, it took a long time for audiobooks to become the dominant medium for people who actually read, I don’t get many ideas, most reviewers on YouTube: booktubers?, a whole universe of people, people who read books are really weird, every week you wanna be reading a new book? what a weirdo, the New York Times bestseller, books not designed to be read, overwritten, as any right thinking person would, these should be longer, very presumptuous, I want more of this, throwing down idea much bigger than the package he places them in, Wayne liked the shortest stories best, educated super-intelligent, deep thought, rigorous self-examination, tedious, on and on and on, 48 minutes, The Lifecycle Of Software Of Objects, concentrated science fiction, two drops in a cup of water, what it means, navel, center, a role playing anecdote, the enemy is the they (the center of the universe), we’re the center of the universe, The Middle Kingdom, Middle Sea, everywhere is the center, everybody’s stupid because their vision is so limited, a young earth, a parallel in our own history, reason for belief, mummies with no navels, obviously not created, his guiding philosophy, if there was a miracle, its on rails, preodomites, other people, The Truth Of Fact The Truth Of Feeling, deeply profound, a Black Mirror episode, some colonial guy getting colonized, writing and reading, auto text generator, no periods, Roman monuments used dots not spaces, pre-modern Chinese, getting it from context, cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, right in Jesse’s zone, Bros. Grimm concertizing, once in book form, Jesse doesn’t really take notes, one of the things going on, going back to an oral culture, Socrates, cost effective, the Romans were into copying and photo-copying each other’s works, questioning the nature of truth and reality, really cool, what truth is, Scott and Jesse conversations on truth, people complaining about truth, he’s more truthful about his lying, politician lying, not a wise man, wiser than some of the fools that have been so smart in the past, he was not the same, name recognition, you know exactly what his motivation is, truth is not one thing, your own memory of what reality was, science as being replicable, that whole diatribe, truth is that what is, there is an objective truth, we hope, touch the Eiffel Tower, a subjective conclusion, the objective truth, defining truth, relativistic, its subtle, tirade harangue fulmination, discursive, who designed it?, maybe he stole that plan, the more you don’t examine and are unable to reexamine stuff…, religious truth, truths which motivation action, William James, pragmatism, because it was false, smoke sacrifice to the gods was meaningless, intersecting with other science fiction stories, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, king of your own planet, a real estate story, jack hammering off the coast of Labrador, a Nazi universe, Genghis Khan, mythological pseudo-historical figure, the universe does and doesn’t care about you, making a connection with science, those most interested in religion were scientists, Isaac Newton, the original Bible Code person, the impact might have been diluted, these people don’t die, there is no biology, this culture built up around air-stations, eating as a cultural event, if you get this you can tell the story, The Nine Billion Names Of God and The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, sacrificed, hits Paul in the feels, the three narcissistic wounds, Sigmund Freud, the Earth is not the center, Darwin and evolution, that the ego thinks it is free is an illusion, strong with archaeological proofs, freedom, no final answer, interesting concepts, Olaf Stapledon, a whole book from one paragraph of Starmaker, Jorge Luis Borges, The Library Of Babel, standing room for sleeping, why this illusory duplication, this is not our world, there’s no food, they’re more like robots in a certain sense, all the argon is coming to them from something beneath them, who invented the robots?, a blank slate, the robot equivalent, an analogy of the heat death of the universe, “we existed we were real”, a self contained universe, a navel gazing story, working the same theme, Jesus in South America (the God of Dreams) [The Circular Ruins], teaching the A.I.s consciousness, self-dissecting, a good example that doesn’t exist in the same way as ours does, the transference between universes, the prism, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, Until The End Of The World (1999), replaying your dreams, so much about them, the perfect obsessive movie for you, gazing into who you are, the machine allows you to navel gaze, fomo = fear of missing out, the grass is greener, a simple idea, fragmenting kaleidoscopic versions of reality, only a few months old and it was going up in value, diminishing returns, amazing sparky thoughts, pirated songs, I’d make so much money, information is the only thing passed between universes, copyrighted specifically for you, the same wound, possible yous, not being paralyzed, why not?, one of me is going to do it, destroys your ordinary criteria for action, a high dose of neg-entropy, the school shooters, what effect would it have, Jesse derives solace from being (sort of) a determinist, science fiction about the difficulty of weather prediction, are there more murders now?, outliers, fads, more of the same, All The Myriad Ways by Larry Niven, you might lose your will to do things, What’s Expected Of Us, whichever universe you’re in, Vanessa, an unstable person, Counterpart, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, as Evan pointed out on his podcast, the universe is very small, seeing what’s going on outside, they’re all blending together, he thought he had done so much work, that’s much to harsh, words can sometimes resonate very deeply, the non-simple truth, a reality we are distantly connected to, poor connections, emergent things, to know what truth is (is tough), a longer meditation, the longest thing he’s ever written, either these people are wasting their lives or we’re all wasting our lives, where’s the truth there WAYNE?, to leap into agnosticism, relate to our interpretation of reality, we can only do what we can do, the motif of harmful sensation, The Imp Of The Perverse, physical or mental damage you can suffer, explicitly shoutsout to H.P. Lovecraft, akinetic mutism, won’t or can’t speak or won’t or can’t move, the motif of harmful sensation, a truly convincing argument that life is pointless might qualify, it doesn’t matter, a thread running through (or more than one), Ted Chiang has got a brain, the Lovecraftian horror, like a cognitive plague, a thought that explores the thinker, a Godel sentence, I try to act as if or rather action happens, pretend you have free will, believing the lie is the only way to avoid this waking coma, civilization relies on self-deception (perhaps it always has), The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, living it, this universe might have slipped into equilibrium with nothing more than a quiet hiss, that in itself is beauty, in the next bottle over, the Complete Works of Shakespeare except it’s “Shmamlet”, the meaning is fake, Paul’s fear, robot descendants,

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

not a horror story but a science fiction truth, truths always in refinement, David Hume, past behavior, Robert Wright’s interview with Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life, a silly seeming story, Arrival, are you going to roll up into a little ball or are you going to affirm it?, the pharmacon, poison and medicine, make you a paralyzed mute or a creative, it takes all that time or that care to make that stuff literary, Wayne’s in a little ball, Wayne’s gonna complain, some stuff’s going to happen, get some jokes in there, WTF, we’re all gonna be specks in a layer of basalt, Tony C. Smith’s StarShipSofa, a Ted Chiang fan forever now, four stories, nested stories, Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, The Garden Of Forking Paths, you can read it forever, a story that’s circular, in the exact middle you have a point around which everything swirls, the knowledge for where the treasure under the tree came from, super symmetrical, so wonderful, a time travel story in which there’s no technological difference, no traditional time travel tropes, there’s no predicting eclipse, he steals from himself, he predicts the albino baby and gets out of prison, The Diamond Necklace or The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, there’s the pit of despair, the story is the treasure, we as the prince get the benefit, why the title is Exhalation: Stories, The Great Silence, John Paul Sartre with possible worlds, Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny, whatever works is true, the suppression of this technology because of the ruling class, nowhere for that to go, a remaking of humanity, thinking about childrearing while childrearing, mimetic fiction is all about divorces, my experience with my marriage, different parents have different levels of interest in their own child’s rearing, would have benefited the working class, the washing machine is liberatory, television as the babysitter, smartphones, is that wrong, a typical Ted Chiang thing, an actual syndrome: psychosocial dwarfism, growth hormones stop operating, emotional malnutrition, not an ideal human state, really bougie, homeschooling, unschooling, the class dimension, a survival strategy, a metaphor for public schooling, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the planned obsolescence angle, aloof parents, more attached to the nanny than to the parents, gladiatorial nannies, what if they trigger while raising the kids, if you follow police state logic, hands are dangerous weapons, tape their mouths up, and kill everybody (to be safe), the rational childcare device, a more cutesy vignette

reading, or being read, Ted Chiang stories, is like quaffing pure liters of undiluted SCIENCE FICTION from the fount in which it was first forged. And I tell you, without hyperbole, that Science Fiction absolutely cannot die as long as TED CHIANG lives and writes it.

asking and posing the big questions, natural science, parallel universes, asking questions, collecting and systematizing, that guy we didn’t like, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, “proving things”, weapons of mass destruction, 17 intelligence agencies, how can we falsify this?, holy shit he was right!, thought experiments, thinking them through completely, exploring a philosophical point, you can’t do it with mimetic fiction, what happens if…, that’s what they all are, the author afterwords offer insight, that I’m taking my head apart scene, a reverse infodump, we can’t understand ourselves, arguments like proverbs (suck), limiting understanding, refusing that limit, there’s no Godellian self-impossibility, what Dick does, almost like a drug metaphor, the thought’s he’s having and the thoughts he’s expressing, if you want to get into a big fight, tell me my hand is not my hand, memory, Hal, the difference, Ted Chiang doesn’t have this paranoia, adjacent to technology, the guy measuring the ether, how do we know what we know, the art installation for The Great Silence, Alex the talking parrot, very emotional, their beak is kind of their hand, emotional realities, those Alex videos, a whole other mind we have access to through regular English, these humans are looking for intelligence in the universe, the search for terrestrial intelligence, pretty cool, kinda heartbreaking, the whole Alex thing, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams, Arecibo, it hears the voice of creation, the lasting breath, spirit as the breath of God, the breath is not me, he’s having it both ways, these copper plates, audio versus text, in another five years, Wayne would personally recommend the book and the audiobook, here’s where I got the idea, at the end of every story, as a collection, this book we can hand off to people, I feel stupid when I’m reading stupid, reading this makes me feel like I’m the genius that I am, I’m sophisticated, I’m so stupid, not having brilliant ideas all day long, a guy practicing his words for his sermon, thinking on aloud, thinking on paper, writing therapy, cast them out of you, people are made of stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #176 – The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #176

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Fun They Had by Isaac Asimov

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Fun They Had was first published in the “Boys And Girls” page of the NEA service, December 1951.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #517 – READALONG: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #517 – Jesse, Julie Davis, and Maissa Bessada talk about The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Talked about on today’s show:
2008, a children’s book, hardcover, a book for kids, better than most adult books, Neverwhere, Coraline, who hates Neil Gaiman?, Sandman, pictures slow it down, he didn’t feel competent, a genuine classic, character and sentences, crafting language, the wisdom of his prose, insights into basic human beings, you know its true, his evil characters, thinking about The Jungle Book, he started with chapter 4, MouseCircus.com,

“We were young, and very poor. The rooms I was renting above a shop were in a building tall and spindly and old. The kitchen and lounge were on one floor, a bedroom and my office and a bathroom on the next, and, at the top of the house, there was a big attic bedroom, and a low, long room in which an adult could barely stand up straight and in which there was a crib and a playpen. My son, Michael, who was two years old, loved his tricycle more than anything, but there was nowhere to ride it in the house, not without him tumbling down the stairs, so I would carry him and his tricycle across the narrow lane to the grounds of the local church, and he would pedal around to his heart’s content, and I would sit and read a book in the sunshine, and watch him, and look at the grey gravestones, names half-erased by time, and marvel at how comfortable a child looks in a graveyard. That was where it started. I’ll call it The Graveyard Book, I thought. Like Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book.”

listening to it, ghoulheim, there it is!, the monkey scene with Mowgli, Silas is Bagheera and Ms. Lupescu is Baloo, the tribute to Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, the rubberfaced night gaunts, something Lovecraft dreamt as child, they became his friends, they tickle you, creepy and wonderful, chew off any meat left on the bones, tip-up the lead-lined coffin and all the juices, when the angles were wrong, a city built to be abandoned, just as odd, to find the equivalent, King Louis, the Emperor Of China, the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman is a ghoul, the full cast version, recorded in a Minnesota radio station, so fantastic a narrator, no better author narrator, Gaiman’s reading of Coraline, Scott Danielson, a boy story and a girl story, The New Mother by Lucy Clifford, Heather Ordover, the CraftLit podcast, very insightful, The Count Of Monte Cristo, a man and woman in a box, glass eyes and a wooden tail, the cycle repeats three times, never naughty enough, live on berries, worse than the Other Mother, children in Hell, where Coraline came from, no redemption, no mercy, fairy-tale-like, very Neverwhere-ish, has he ever written a book that isn’t about gods, regular Neil Gaiman stuff, the Endless, is there a god in this book?, who is the grey lady on the grey mare?, she’s Death, the sickle and the hood, The Old Gray Mare, she ain’t what she used to be, the Hounds of God, Romanian soup, boiled cabbage is kinda a good, eating Twinkies, Mr Lupescu by Anthony Boucher, Mr Jim Moon’s Hypnogoria (Hypnobobs) podcast, Neil Gaiman’s breadth of reading, Mr Jesse, macabre (macabray), imaginary friends, Thus I Refute Beelzy by John Collier, Scarlet has an imaginary friend, Scarlet’s story is a mini-version of this story, a kid romance, the angry teenager, play houses, meany, totally girl, so cute, very brave, going into the dark, five years old, before Julie was 3, barely remember yesterday, summer used to last several years, the perception of time, how you could get bored really easily, the world is so boring, tapped into the youth, the Sandman series, the conference of the Jacks, serial killer convention, where is Silas going?, he’s like Gandalf, standard mean horrible character, time-traveling hit-men, Connie Willis, the characters that work, there’s the deepness, Jack Frost is Shere Khan, fresh, very fresh, quite refreshing, the comic book adaptation, some of the art in here, Jill Thompson, P. Craig Russell, Galen Showman, the scale is bigger, the horizon is bigger, the ghouls, comic gross humans, monkey creepy horrible awful, the sleer, Gaiman gives you the outline and then you fill it in, the Indigo Man, the broach, the graveyard, the antique shop, super complementary, look how Silas dominates the room, there’s never a haircut scene, so intriguing, why does he hang out in this graveyard, knowledge of the prophecy?, the whole plot is way less important, why is the Danse Macabre in this?, Death is so beautiful, living forever, the living with the dead, each to each, names aren’t really important, find his name, one day everybody does, how come death’s so cool?, really smart, what’s true and what do we need to remember, the dead should have charity, Elizabeth Hempstock, Toomai of the Elephants, referential, winter flowers, we’ve crossed worlds, within generations enough, the other book that was homework, A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle, Beagle’s narration, ended up perfect, brought to life, ride that raven, they are both stories about a human living in a graveyard and they are fantasies, very gentle and slow, it could have been a little bit shorter, he made his case for all the relationships, overcoming fears, only 19 when he wrote it, mature, living a fantasy world life, a raven, taking some inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, Ezekiel in the desert, a loose connection, the raven is what kept him there, psychopomp, a real personality, a ride in a back of a truck with a squirrel, set somewhere in England, so rich, find some weird house, adventures in her back yard, fully realized, how stiking is it that 10 year old kids and adults can enjoy it and not be lost, Coraline is not as amazing as this book, aimed at the children’s market, 188 pages for $10 US, images conjured by the book, no description of the lines on his face, the relationship has to Bod (she’s not going to eat him), it takes a (graveyard) village, out of time, his parents are almost the least interesting characters in the book, the poet who punished all his enemies by refusing to write his poems for the public, from my cold dead hand, kinda like Scrooge, some Lord Of The Rings stuff, the broach the knife and the cup, the Sleer is awesome, Elidor by Alan Garner, a family of jerks, William Shakespeare’s King Lear, a sword, a spear, a bowl, and an anvil, escaping into a fantasy world while you’re a kid, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, weaving in true history, he liked the roads, Celtic mythology, the ring connection, the barrow wights from The Fellowship Of The Ring, Jesse’s Roof Bear calendar, there has to be rules behind stuff to make it interesting, Roof Bear can’t leave the roof, Ghost Horse is waiting for his master to return, lifting from the Sleer?, children’s adventures, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, fun stuff for kids (and for Jesse), remembering the sort of fun you had as a kid, we don’t get to play house anymore, the pretend has a lot of value, mud pies, hanging out in childhood, beautiful, children and grandchildren, so Christmas becomes magic again, that acknowledgement, Bod’s getting too old, talking to Mother Slaughter, you’re always you and that don’t change, truth, I’m still me, that double memory, one of those profound things, LEGO robotics on Apple II computers (LEGO Logo), you really do loose something, its impossible, something you loose and yet retain the memory of it, Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, the head key, take out memories, the gender key, you forget, exploring a big old house, a menace, it works in the same way, brilliant and well worth reading, The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, 1984 by George Orwell, “Christ, Marx, Wood, and Wei”, very 1984, The Giver by Lois Lowry, a remake, the witch chapter, time in libraries, what forms your imagination, what tempts Bod is an apple, wish I’d left…, the groundskeeper’s pile of grass, she’s just a girl (who was murdered), “then I did my death curse”, when Bod falls out of his crib, a pile of plush toys, a nice doubling, do this kind thing, sends him out into danger, all the influences, nothing is forced, the mechanisms of writing, a six sentence story, all unconscious, it feels very natural, I want the magic, it takes him years and years, Tolkien: there were all these Catholic things in there, a good book, a good movie, what Neil Gaiman can do, just crafting your work, a lot of it is unconscious, an apple orchard, seeing things evolving, re-reading is not Jesse’s thing, when you run out you have to go back, re-watching, all these little things, Julie’s project, have they earned my shelf space?, deep in our cultural unconscious, 43 Bollywood movies last year, legal/police/moral situations, western culture branched-off, vengeance is looked at very differently, cultural thinking, shocked and taken-aback, northern Europe is full of apple trees, a ghost outside, Good book, what’s Ace barking at?, thought-yells, a Man Jack in the yard, a fun read.

The Graveyard Book - comics adaptation

The Graveyard Book - comics adaptation

The Graveyard Book - comics adaptation

The Graveyard Book - comics adaptation

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - with illustrations by Dave McKean

The Graveyard Book illustration by P. Craig Russell

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

Podcast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #471 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #471 – Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (21 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
the proper pronunciation of Machen, Arthur Llewellyn Jones, Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman, apprentice journalist, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, The Lost Club, Reading, Short And Deep, identicals, a Hellfire Club, a big scary black book, never heard from again, a very weird story, truly as the first weird fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, cosmicism, Mr Weird, H.P. Lovecraft, “it is this”, M.R. James, bedrock authors, Machen lived this stuff, a real-life magical society, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, W.B. Yates, a genuine mystic, landscape, in the modern world people see things on the surface and don’t apprehend the meaning, meta narrative, the interior story, so deeply framed, so nested, the hoopla surrounding The Bowmen, it’s not the story, the story is not the story, the story is the effect of the story, embarrassed by the story, a disappointment, surprisingly funny, a bit of whimsy, the early weeks of WWI, a ray of hope, taken as a genuine report from the front line, the Angel of the Mons, fighting the tide, how rumours take hold without any evidence, “snow on your boots”, reading it a straight up, a weird meta-fiction, pre-Borges, this sounds familiar, so popular, side projects, tales, stories, a meme, fascinating, how many Machens?, not a good story, T.P.’s Weekly, November 22nd, 1915, the retreat from Mons (August 1914), September 1914, six months later, weird podcasts, Tin Foil Hat Podcast, part of being an adult is being interested in the truth, conspiracy, half of capitalism, Clinton and Pizzagate, really fucked up things going on in government, punishment for plebs, a Clinton, New York child sex scandal, in the memory, it couldn’t be killed, all the letters Machen got, death threats, bottom up stories and top down stories, Russia! Russia! Russia!, collaborating or colluding, a conspiracy theorist, the person who testified who can’t be found, the Russian rumor, reports of Russian troops seen in Britain, a plague of spies, Cossacks at train stations heading south, a huge flap, a third myth, the Rape of Belgium, a rumour among German troops, resisting the invasion, buckets full of eyes, necklaces of German soldiers’ eyeballs, breasts cut off, every conceivable atrocity, a British censor on war time reports, the liars did very well, James Hayward’s Myths And Legends Of The First World War, German corpse factories, “the vile Hun”, fake news, the horrible little children, the Edwardian equivalent of the internet, into the papers in a round about fashion, how the nature of rumor and myth begins, transmitted in times of uncertainty and trouble, official news sources, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, they’re all correct, CIA infiltration of news agency [and MI5 screening of BBC], a lack of news, filling the gap with whatever they can find, the whole Russia story, 13 Russian trolls, Facebook ads, “the big gotcha moment”, the Internet Research Agency, in the business of trolling (for money), fake accounts, we have these rubes, for commercial purposes, Trump somehow helped the Russians hack the DNC servers?, borders mean nothing to the ultra-rich, puppets, Bernie-bro,

“army recruiters reported problems in explaining the origins of [WWI] in legalistic terms” hence an evolution in tactics, or different tactics for different classes, or the intellectual vs. the visceral

posters from 1914 and 1918

Seventy years ago your great-grandfathers and their great-grandfathers signed a document that made certain guarantees about Belgium’s neutrality.

vs.

Remember when the Germans raped their way through Belgium

this was Pearl Harbor!, why this story is so relevant, the thing that is the story, a powerful point about war, Morgan the childlike man, Castle Coch, the Red Keep, read about Belgium, and think they could haven been more than five or six years old, they were to ear what slime is to the touch, blasphemies struck like blows, a swarm of noise-some creatures, children with old men’s faces, one paragraph, Morgan to dream of Avalon, to purge himself of the fuming corruption of the streets, is this a true story?, places that are deprived and poor, the underwolves, super-predators, the Central Park five, seven fold increase in prison population, harvesting slaves, whatever new drug it is, top down or bottom up, moral panics, juvenile delinquents, hoodies, chavs, thuggish people, picked up by politicians, class war, welfare is for crack and knives, mainstream news, rock and roll, Beatles records, video nasties, horror comics, Dungeons & Dragons, video game violence, Trayvon Martin, manipulate the facts, the funny children, is Machen starting another story?, this is how I make this stuff up, the myth of the JD (juvenile delinquent), teddy boys, rockers, mods, a Bank Holiday British tradition, Quadrophenia, arguments about-for-and-against education, bad seeds, evil children, The Midwich Cuckoos, teenage hoodlums, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, free rides, sticking it to the man, sense of power, community centers, midnight basketball, psychology, the irresistible impulse to knock over a house of cards, the impulse for destruction, they just came in from Siberia, a train ride from Scotland, the British, Americans, and Canadians invade Siberia to try to reverse the Russian Revolution, The Sandbaggers, the rumour becomes the reality, wanting to believe the legend, not caring about evidence, fossilized in this story, what Robert E. Howard calls the little people, elves and trolls and gremlins, from fantasy to fake news, fake fairies, a strange new power, The Novel Of The Black Seal, The Novel Of The White Powder, Panther paperback, terrible cruel dwarf elves, the horror of war, he took a long time to get there, what’s this mention of Belgium, the worst swearword known in the galaxy, a weird momentum, the story has to keep replicating, the introduction to The Bowmen And Other Stories, the answer of course is in the question, struggles in truth in news, false, the seedbed for new conspiracy theories, official unknown sources, trying to fill dead air, Mr Jim Moon’s Folklore On Friday articles, Krampus, absolute bullshit, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Halloween, the received wisdom is always wrong, a new dark age, perceiving reality, where this story is set, who’s saying it, there are so many narrators, real places, Glastonbury Tor, Morgan le Fay, the myth of Avalon seems to be a bottom up story, Geoffrey Of Monmouth, Mallory, John Boorman’s Excalibur, a gel filter, the land of the fairy, Morgan le Fay is she has sex with her half brother, Mordred is killed by Arthur, Arthur is wounded and goes to the island of Avalon where he is healed by his sister and the mother of his child, how you get out of the horror of the Belgian horror, internecine war, the Kaiser and the Czar hugging each other.

propaganda evolution in WWI

The Angels Of The Mons

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #451 – READALONG: Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #451 – Jesse, Paul and Marissa talk about Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1985, 1957, a magnificent novel!, struggling through, Paul is not a fan, opinions about this book, Marissa really enjoyed it, problems, interesting, not a mainstream book, marriage and cheating, Jesse’s gutter definition of mainstream, it has them all beat, an existential novel, mainstreaminess, dread, creeping social order dread, where did it start to go wrong for Paul, why am I listening to this book, technical difficulties, the opening, the school, why am I listening to this?, mimetic fiction, I’m not interested in this, there’s no hook, their lives, the son, the poor victim, Roger recapitulates, his mother-in-law, the inevitability of the break-up of the marriage, his third time, failed relationships, spending time with these people, they’re awful awful, flip-flopped, disregarding the content of the novel…, badly composed Philip K. Dick novels, he’s really smooth, most beautiful in a few places, a way for Paul to get through this novel, Jesse’s last theory, the Mexicans are not really Mexicans (they’re Martians), what the heck are you talking about, Martian Time-Slip, his autistic son, he gives his son to the Martians, put on the lap of one of the hitchhikers, psychology, moving to Chicago with a load of stolen televisions, a secret science fiction novel, becoming a science fiction novel for a moment, at the point where it would spin fantastic… its averted, ruminating and undercutting, when Jesse reads and Isaac Asimov mystery, mind bendy, under Galactic Pot-Healer, no access to higher beings or aliens who live across the street, Lord Running Clam, well and truly lost, there’s no way out other than to move about, Puttering About vs. puttering around, what is this thing about, its not really about anything, when Virginia talks about her husband, she’s made this mistake, the mores of the 1950s, waiting for her husband to screw up, Roger is a prat, they’re all Philip K. Dick, Mrs. Alt, the teachers are all robots, The Simulacra, the math teacher, the horses, the character realization is amazing, all real people, the TV repairman, R. Childan from The Man In The High Castle, a fascinating book for anybody who wants to go deep on Philip K. Dick, you have to let it hypnotize you, bootstrapping opportunities, being in the right mood for things, if you classify this book differently, this is a crime novel scene, they commit adultery and that’s a crime, James M. Cain, adulterous relationships, the Greek fate track they get on, a car-wreck of murder and sex and love, if I was in this car…, tearing him down, he married into this, there’s no escape, a horror, a horrible human being, horrible people, being terrorized and terrified and having no escape, good writing, feeling something coming, a payoff, what all the school means, what (other than the fact that this actually happened) does this mean?, like he was experiencing this stuff, screw you all, feeling the tedium, attention to detail, open and closed to the experience, little kid psychology, sometimes adults have a greater wisdom and experience than the kid, an emotional sponge, to get that cheque, Mrs Alt is a change, the chickens and the eggs, that chicken scene is straight out of The Father Thing, old and mouldy and rotten down to the center of the earth, its turning science fiction its turning fantasy, its turning PKD!, his brother, a multiple reality thing, it wouldn’t take much to flip it into a science fiction story, Paul remembers he hated mimetic fiction, A New Apartment, I hate these people, Paul nearly failed reading in seventh grade (because of the books they gave him), A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, mis-classified, listening to my neighbours talking about their marriage, the periodness of it, a picture of the 1950s that is so complete, immersed into the 1950s, oh this is a real place, this is a real time, so many scenes, The Hanging Stranger, the basement, everything in his 1950s town is exactly the same except for the corpse hanging from a lamp post, lynching, transparency into a social reality, the racism, he didn’t mutter it quietly enough, teeth flying all over the street and he deserved it, seeing the consequence, it felt so real, so visceral, what happened?, explaining to his wife, refusing to go to the dentist like a little kid, new horrors to come, he’s constantly putting himself into these horrible situations, how great is the rage trip?, raging at the whole world, every middle class white guy’s fear, the emotional experiences, perfectly encapsulated, maybe this was written by a woman, Liz is a fantasy character, Upon The Dull Earth, digging the trench, all the other stories reflected, a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, a waking dream, in a very PKD sense, you can’t tell which universe you’re in, the photographs, so amazing, Time Out Of Joint, we don’t want to live in the world where PKD became a successful mainstream writer, decaying royalties, he is a success in this world, being recognized during his lifetime, worth digging out, he’s such a great idea man that his work will live on past his mere boring and terrible existence, mainstream writers that have wasted their lives, Martian Time-Slip can’t exist without this mundane book, squint a little bit, the PKD genre, the shoe-repair boy, none of them can hear me, our perceptions of reality, it felt like it was about to turn into a science fiction novel, almost a witch, a sorceress, Roger’s seeing something in her, children and schizophrenics, a secret brother living inside, an asshole father, an amazing horror story, Tony And The Beetles, what does this mean, Evan Lampe American Writers: One Hundred Pages At A Time podcast, kids, an empathetic sponge, where it turns into a science fiction novel for a moment, the stamp collection, dad did they use stamps in Roman times, I think I have one, that’s the end of that scene, where’d that come from and where did it go?, the denouement of so many Philip K. Dick novels, Ubik, that is the turn, how often Jesse talks to kids, its almost like they have schizophrenia, I think my feet are on fire, they sound insane, what if that’s true?, the fact that he thinks he has a Roman stamp is true in that moment, those little touches are what make this a great, great book, eliciting the sense of existential dread, I might read another mainstream Philip K. Dick, The Man Whose Teeth Were Exactly Alike, the premise is like nothing, horrible people, I love reading about these fuck-ups, asshole after asshole, Stephen King, Nelson De Mille, a Goodreads review by Hyzenthlay:

The worst part of having a favourite author who died before you started reading him is that eventually you will run out of new reading material. The best part of that favourite author being Philip K Dick is that he was prolific as fuck AND he has so many books that are only recently coming back into print and/or being published posthumously for the first time that even though I’ve been reading him for 20+ years, I still haven’t run out of new-to-me shit to read.

Puttering About in a Small Land is one of those mythical PKD volumes I searched used book stores and thrift shops for for years. It was first published in the mid-80s, following Dick’s death, then went out of print for almost three decades cos there was never much call for his literary fiction. It’s not sexy enough to be referred to in hushed reverential tones like a DADoES or mind-fucky enough to be a scholarly treatise on humanity and reality like the VALIS trilogy.

It’s a quiet book, dealing with adultery and retail. It’s undeniably an early Dick book, exploring what exactly it means to be human; to feel eternal, knowing all this pain is an illusion. The prose and style will be familiar to anyone who’s read more than a handful of his books or short stories, but it’s not one of his Big Damn Idea books.

I feel I’m not explaining myself very well.

If you’re a genre fan thinking to dabble in Dick, don’t start here. [Waves hand] This is not the book you’re looking for. You go read something else (if you don’t want to start with the usual suspects, I applaud you and would recommend The Penultimate Truth, Dr Bloodmoney or The Cosmic Puppets), cos you will likely find this book’s slightly plodding pace infuriating.

If you’re a litfic reader, looking to broaden your reading horizons, you *could* give this one a go. Maybe only if you’re already into mid-20th Century Americana, though. This might not be the best starting point. You’d be better served picking up Confessions of a Crap Artist or Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (which, yes, is genre fiction, but ONLY JUST).

Fellow Dickheads? Obviously you need to read this. After Milton Lumky (who knew typewriter sales would be so compelling?). You might hate it, but your need for completion will compel you.

TL;DR This book isn’t for you. Or you. Or you. But it might be for YOU.

stealth sex scenes, she’s consuming him, a spider crawls on her hip, a great review, Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, Mario Puzo’s Fools Die,

Puttering About In A Small Land by Philip K.Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis