Review of Gather Yourselves Together by Philip K. Dick

SFFaudio Review

Gather Yourselves Together by Philip K. DickGather Yourselves Together
By Philip K. Dick; Read by Luke Daniels
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1435-0
[UNABRIDGED] – 9 compact discs; 11 hours

Themes: / Loss of innocence / Communist China / philosophy /

Publisher summary:

Gather Yourselves Together is one of Philip K. Dick’s earliest novels, written when he was just twenty-four years old. It tells the story of three American workers left behind in China by their employer, biding their time as the Communists advance. As they while away the days, both the young and naïve Carl Fitter and the older and worldly Verne Tildon vie for the affections of Barbara Mahler, a woman who may not be as tough-as-nails as she acts. But Carl’s innocence and Verne’s boorishness could end up driving Barbara away from both.

Prior to writing the complex reality-bending science fiction novels and stories that Philip K. Dick is best known for, he strived to be accepted as a mainstream writer; writing a handful of novels that on the surface bear little resemblance to the works that later became the source material for such films as Bladerunner and Total Recall. Gather Yourselves Together is one of these very early novels and one of a few to still be intact and published posthumously. The story revolves around three Americans left deserted among themselves in communist China to oversee the changing of the guard as their company is turned over to the Chinese.

At first the very basic and sparse plot spanning a few day period seems to bare little resemblance to the often sprawling narratives of Philip K. Dick’s better known alter-universes, but closer examination reveals several themes that would later re-occur in many of his better known stories. Additionally for enthusiasts, many autobiographical aspects of the author’s own life seem to be worked into the story. Although only mentioned in passing, a topic that would become a lifelong obsession and reappear in later novels is first mentioned in this novel: that of the time of the fall of the Roman and birth of Christianity being constantly repeated throughout history including during what Philip K. Dick thought was his own lifetime.

Narrator Luke Daniels does a great job breathing life into a novel that at 481 pages in length and which having little of substance actually take place in the span of the novel’s few days could easily have lost a listener’s interest. The story fills out the space by spending significant time on the past of the three characters while focusing on their current relationships in the present. The overall tone of the book is fairly dismal, which each character being extremely self-absorbed in their own ways but being drawn together due to circumstance. That being said, much of the story has a theatrical feel that builds to a very satisfying conclusion. The audiobook ends with an afterword by Dwight Brown, also read by Luke Daniels. Gather Yourselves Together succeeds on many levels and is certainly not a book to be avoided simply due what would seem to be an uninteresting premise when compared some of Philip K. Dick’s wilder, better known works.

Review by Dan VK.

The SFFaudio Podcast #191 – READALONG: The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #191 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about the Brilliance Audio audiobook, The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s podcast:
Racy?, 1950s, hermaphrodites, relativism is mandated by the government, reverse Nazism, the Wikipedia entry for relativism, relativism as a tool against disbelief, L. Ron Hubbard, The Way To Happiness, communism, “good explorations”, Doug Cussick, political correctness, the opposite of communism?, China, Chinese communism, WWII, “Hitler was a precog”, escape your fate by embracing your fate, seeing into the future after your death, the devolution of a mind in a dead brain, a molluscular and mineral afterlife, grab bag of ideas, giant alien jellyfish, Brilliance Audio, pollen?, spores?, polyps?, planula!, Floyd Jones (is he the hero?), the Venus babies, the people in the Womb, seven mutants in a warehouse in San Fransisco, artificial animals, Venusian wallpaper?, hot and moist, The Truman Show, people have to get off of Earth, the Moon as the 51st state, King Newt running the Moon, pantropy, tropism, genetic modification, Nexus by Ramez Naam, More Than Human by Ramez Naam, Kim Stanley Robinson, More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon, the ending, Jones as the new Jesus, contempt for the audience, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, kids getting off on power, suicide, Hitler’s death, “how could a precog be wrong?”, future knowledge of your own knowledge, its very confusing, is Cussick the main character?, rebellion by shoplifting, sexism, WWIII, “asparagus sucks!”, women as litmus paper, she always held the majority opinion, visiting a racist elderly relative, “No grandma! That’s wrong!”, irony, the nameless character has a fascinating story, why don’t we get a sense of the masses, paralleling the rise of Hitler, lebensraum, interesting scenes interspersed with less interesting scenes, domestic scenes vs. organizational scenes, Tyler’s story, the Venus children, paranoia, Shell Game by Philip K. Dick, redundant exists, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, Counter Clock World, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, The Zap Gun, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner, Robert Downey Jr., A Scanner Darkly, The Man In The High Castle, alternate history, most people who live in SF universes don’t read SF, a BBC adaptation of The Man In The High Castle, an epic story about a guy who makes jewelry, Terry Gilliam, Anthony Boucher, “a hasty and disappointing effort”, perk up vs. zone out, civil war or aliens?, a golden land of opportunity and adventure (and slime).

ACE - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Damon Knight on The World Jones Made

ACE Double - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Sphere - The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

Geheimproject Venus by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Ray Bradbury’s The Flying Machine and The Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl

SFFaudio Online Audio

I’m not sure exactly how I came across this broadcast recording. But I’m very glad I did. It’s as part of a collection called The Golden Apples Of The Sun – a five part half hour of radio drama series adapting Ray Bradbury stories. This episode, episode 2, includes a pair of stories.

The first, The Flying Machine, is a short “fantasy” set in a mythical China. The story was familiar somehow so I looked it up and realized it was in an issue of Playboy that I have. I have appended the beautiful accompanying illustration (by Franz Altschuler).

In the same broadcast was an iconic tale of an obsessive compulsive murderer. Called, The Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl, it was first published as Touch And Go! in a mag called Detective Book (November 1948). Unfortunately, I don’t have a beautiful scan of the first publication of that. Instead, I have a terrible scan (see below).

But, my new friend John Feaster, who I found through LibriVox, mentioned an adaptation of it in the EC Comics comic called Crime SuspenStories (#17). And that I do have a nice picture of.

BBC Radio 5The Golden Apples Of The Sun – The Flying Machine
Adapted from the story by Ray Bradbury; Adapted by Lawrence Gilbert; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 5
Broadcast: January 30, 1991
Source: Archive.org

Producer Peter Hutchings.

Cast:
Paul Maxwell
Don Fellows
Ed Bishop
Paul Downing

The Flying Machine from Playboy August, 1954 - illustration by Franz Altschuler

Touc And Go! by Ray Bradbury - from Detective Book, November 1948

Touch And Go! adapted from the story by Ray Bradbury - from Crime SuspenStories #17

And The Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl was adapted to TV for The Ray Bradbury Theater. And it stars Michael Ironside and Robert Vaughn!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #144 – READALONG: Immortality, Inc. by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #144 – Jesse, Tamahome and Gregg Margarite talk about the audiobook of Robert Sheckley’s 1959 novel Immortality, Inc..

Talked about on today’s show:
Time Killer was nominated for a Hugo, the Blackstone Audio audiobook, Sheckley’s family of themes, a collage of images, Immortality, Inc. is a comedy, Bronson Pinchot’s narration, Peter Lorre, Midnight Cowboy, “those are real tears”, a cartoon, Buddhism, reincarnation, the yoga machine, “manipulation catches up to theory”, surviving beyond death, Futurama, suicide booths, New New York, Douglas Adams, Matt Groening, zombies, are we chicking or egging, Mindswap by Robert Sheckley (SFFaudio Podcast #076), Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, “you are not…”, are you your memories?, hundreds of trillions of assumptions, “why did communism fail?”, Tam knits, sweet sweet coffee, Harrison Bergeron, we need the CPU as well as the memory, Gregg would still be Gregg in another body, a body as an automobile for genes, aren’t skills a part of your mind, your memories?, bayoneting skills, Gregg wants longer pinkies, dynamic finger growth is optimal, episodic, the hunt, have the lawyer leave the room, “what if there is nothing more?”, this is a book about death, ghosts, walking through all the explanation for what happens after they die, tomb like an Egyptian, sane ghosts vs. nutjob ghosts, “the competition never ends”, “different dimension, same shit”, “transplant”, a black-market copy of a sensory recording of our hero’s story, interest in the twentieth century is waning, 1950s New York, Jesse has never been to New York, security theater, Gregg promises to take Jesse to New York, a private Winnebago?, the suspension of habeas corpus, Canada is a country that doesn’t work in theory (but works in practice), the United States as a utopian experiment, Australia has mandatory voting, Mayberry, “the right to die”, death is exactly like before you were born, you can only look forward to death, Mark Twain, death is just one damn thing after another, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson, Dante’s Inferno, does love conquer all?, Cinderella, happily ever after, arguments that get all of us killed, Pakistan vs. India, tribalism, Ghandi vs. Jinnah, “the enemies of progress”, China, Buddhism, Confucianism, Shinto, ancestor worship, Khmer mythology, Hanuman the monkey king, “reality is only inside you”, are most people half-believers?, Sheckley doesn’t pick one way, did the serialization inform the storytelling, The Status Civilization, Sheckley looks at the world and laughs, there’s no thesis Sheckley is trying to explicate, Sheckley is “a sane Phil Dick”, horror vs. humor, Freejack is a loose adaptation of Immortality, Inc., Emilio Estevez and Mick Jagger, the role of the reader, the magic of radio (drama), The World According To Garp (film vs. novel), converting the nonconvertible, a romantic relationship, Aristotle’s Poetics, plot should follow necessarily (or at least probably) from that which came before, Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, “it all happens at the same time”, flat characters vs. round characters, do we live in a serial world?, if Hamlet was a television series, Gilgamesh still works, Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry vs. J.J. Abrams, an anthologic approach, Babylon 5 as the counter-example, Neil Gaiman, J. Michael Straczynski, Doctor Who, the vehicle of the series, will the dancing toilet paper company care?, Gregg: “I’m no longer god”

The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
The Time Killer by Robert Sheckley - Illustration by Wood
Freejack credits - "Based upon the novel "Immortality, Inc." by Robert Sheckley
Suicide Booth

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: Mr. Wicker’s Window by Carley Dawson

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s the promotional description for a gorgeous juvenile, fantasy, pirate, time travel, airship novel (all this and less than 59,000 words). It’s public domain and from 1952. It’s called Mister Wicker’s Window:

When twelve-year-old Chris entered Mr. Wicker’s shop to inquire about a job for his friend, something about old Mr. Wicker forced him to take the job himself. Chris found himself the pupil of Mr. Wicker, not the old man he first saw, but a powerful man in his forties—a magician. Chris learned how to turn himself into a fish, a bird, a fly, and with a magic rope he learned to make a boat or even an elephant.

Chris had been chosen to sail to China on a mysterious mission. Long before he sailed, Chris met the enemies who would try and stop him—evil Claggett Chew, the dandy Osterbridge Hawsey, the treacherous old beggar Simon Gosler. With a Nubian boy Chris brought to life with magic, he set out on his hazardous voyage.

Carley Dawson writes beautifully, combining fact and fantasy with skill. Her characters are lifelike and vivid, and the plot of this, her first book, is fantastically exciting and exceptionally outstanding. With power and imagination Lynd Ward has illustrated the book with over eighty drawings in two colors.

It was precisely those drawings that drew me in!

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Art from MR. VICKER'S WINDOW

Lynd Ward, the artist, drew dozens of gorgeous illustrations just like the ones above. They kind of remind me of Darwyn Cooke and, oddly, Doctor Seuss. Every single one of them accompanies the Gutenberg etext edition. After seeing them I was absolutely compelled to seek out the audiobook. I badly wanted someone to read me the story, if only so I could spend that much more time staring at the gorgeous images. I looked on LibriVox, and achieved a double success.

But… the first version, recorded in 2009 is a multi-reader relay-style edition (SIGH). And, Arthur Piantadosi, the narrator on Version 2 of LibriVox’s public domain audiobook, is not my ideal reader either. His recording is a little hollow sounding (oh well), he stumbles over words (not good) and he makes the occasional sound effect (ARGGGH!!).

We can’t have this. No we can’t.

This sounds like a job for WILLIAM COON!

Until Bill, you can take your pick…

LIBRIVOX - Mr. Wicker's Window by Carley DawsonMr. Wicker’s Window
By Carley Dawson; Read by various
36 Zipped MP3 Files – Approx. 5 Hours 53 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: November 10, 2009
Ebook: Gutenberg.org
Printable CD Booklet: |PDF|
When twelve-year-old Chris entered Mr. Wicker’s shop to inquire about a job for his friend, something about old Mr. Wicker forced him to take the job himself. Chris found himself the pupil of Mr. Wicker, not the old man he first saw, but a powerful man in his forties–a magician. Chris learned how to turn himself into a fish, a bird, a fly, and with a magic rope he learned to make a boat or even an elephant. Chris had been chosen to sail to China on a mysterious mission. Long before he sailed, Chris met the enemies who would try and stop him–evil Claggett Chew, the dandy Osterbridge Hawsey, the treacherous old beggar Simon Gosler. With a Nubian boy Chris brought to life with magic, he set out on his hazardous voyage.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/mr-wickers-window-by-carley-dawson.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

LIBRIVOX - Mr. Wicker's Window by Carley DawsonMr. Wicker’s Window (VERSION 2)
By Carley Dawson; Read by Arthur Piantadosi
36 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 49 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: March 2, 2010
Ebook: Gutenberg.org
Printable CD Booklet: |PDF|
When Christopher Mason walked into Mr. Wicker’s antique shop, he had no idea he would soon be embarking on a marvellous journey to China to find a wonderful tree made of jewels. He had no idea that Mr. Wicker was a magician and could travel through time. And that the tree was sought by others, not least among them the murderous Claggett Chew, a merchant in port and a pirate on the high seas, who also had knowledge of magic. But before Chris succeeded in quest, he would know of all these things and more. And of Mr. Wicker’s friends, the sailor Ned Cilley, Becky Boozer, and the African boy Amos, changed from wood to flesh. And Christopher Mason would never be same, after.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/4062

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

[Thanks also to Patti Cunningham, Diana Majlinger, J.M. Smallheer and Annise]

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #067

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #067 – Scott and Jesse talk to Dan Carlin, of the Hardcore History and Common Sense podcasts!

Talked about on today’s show:
Hardcore History, Common Sense, the Rashomon effect, Gilligan’s Island, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, defensive reporting, nuance vs. talking points, BBC, NPR, PBS, Wikileaks, Common Sense Show #179 – GenX Journalism, the Martian political position, comics, What If…, Niall Ferguson, “counterfactual history“, “how different would voting be if there were no money impacting the political system at all?”, the toothless United Nations, the Canadian political system vs. the U.S. political system, the Congress Of Vienna, WWI, WWII, the Napoleonic Wars, the Rwandan Genocide, the Korean War, the Gaza flotilla incident, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq War, unilateral action, Panama, NATO, imagine if the United Nations wasn’t toothless, Wikileaks’ “Collateral Murder” video, Grenada, a “muscular” foreign policy, “air on the side of reality”, Julian Assange, unreleased Abu Ghraib prison video, podcasting, “how cool is it to have an international program?”, Pierre Trudeau, “we live in reaction to you”, U.S. foreign policy, Barack Obama, first contact in Science Fiction, first contact in history, Despoilers Of The Golden Empire by Randall Garrett, Fransisco Pissaro, United States expedition to Korea, “Korea is a dagger, in the hand of China, pointed at the heart of Japan”, Globalization Unto Death, “the hermit kingdom”, Magellan expedition, Steppe Stories, an island off the coast of India, Commodore Perry‘s expedition to Japan, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Civilization (board game), Sparta, the freedom of podcasting.

Posted by Jesse Willis