The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Releases: Robin Hood, Jane Slayre, Fools Die, The Twilight Zone Companion, and MORE!

New Releases

Blackstone AudiobooksHere’s a batch of new Blackstone Audio audiobooks that have my frontal lobes salivating … huh … while I’m waiting for them to arrive maybe I should consult a doctor on this salivating brain thing.

First up, a new movie-tie-in audiobook for the upcoming Ridley Scott movie of the same name…


Blackstone Audio - Robin Hood by David B. CoeRobin Hood
By David B. Coe; Read by Robin Sachs
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: April 27, 2010
ISBN: 9781441755964 (cd), 9781441755971 (mp3-cd)
In 13th century England, the legendary figure known by generations as Robin Hood leads an uprising that will forever alter the balance of world power and will make one man of humble beginnings an eternal symbol of freedom for his people. An expert archer once interested only in self-preservation, Robin now serves in King Richard’s army. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation. There he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion, who is skeptical of the motivations of this mysterious crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and to save the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct the injustices of the sheriff.

Here’s another re-mixed vampires in classics book inspired by the success of Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. Scott figures this fad has run its course. I’m thinking it has at least a couple of more seasons left in it.

Blackstone Audio - Jane Slayre by Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning ErwinJayne Slayre (The Literary Classic…with a Blood-Sucking Twist)
By Charlotte Brontë and Sherri Browning Erwin; Read by Rosalyn Landor
12 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 14.2 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 9781441752185 (cd), 9781441752192 (mp3-cd)
Raised by vampyre relatives, Jane grows to resent the lifestyle’s effect on her upbringing. No sunlight, keeping nighttime hours, and a diet of bloody red meat is no way for a mortal girl to live. Things change for Jane when the ghost of her uncle visits her, imparts her parents’ slayer history, and charges her with the responsibility of striking out to find others of her kind and learn the slayer ways. After trying her luck at a school full of zombies, Jane finds a position as a governess, where she meets and falls in love with Mr. Rochester. But evil strikes in the form of Mr. Rochester’s first wife, a violent werewolf he keeps locked in the attic. Jane departs to study the slayer tradition with her cousins, but finds herself yearning to reunite with Mr. Rochester. She returns to find that Mr. Rochester has been bitten by the werewolf, and only she can release him from his curse.

I first read this book, Fools Die, when I discovered an unabridged Books On Tape edition of this in a Port Moody thrift store years and years ago. It may have been my best thrift store find ever. Marked at $5.00, it was a steal and a half. It has been out of print for years, so I know a ton of folks are going to want to hear it. It’s all about gambling, brotherhood, corruption and the meaning of life, and its so well written you’ll think about it for years to come. I know I do.

Blackstone Audio - Fools Die by Mario PuzoFools Die
By Mario Puzo; Read by Kristoffer Tabori
16 CDs or 2 MP3-CD – Approx. Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: April 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781441715005 (cd), 9781441715012 (mp3-cd)
From the blockbuster author of The Godfather comes this bold international best-seller about the feverish world of a big-time gambler. Merlyn and his brother, Artie, obey their own code of honor in the ferment of contemporary America, where law and organized crime are one and the same. Set within America’s golden triangle of corruption and excess—New York, Hollywood, Las Vegas—the novel plunges into the glittering and ruthless worlds of gambling, publishing, and the film industry, where greed, lust, and violence hold sway. As high rollers, hustlers, and scheming manipulators use power, sex, and betrayal to win, the strongest survive—but fools die.

This looks like it could be terrific! In the tradition of The Aneid, the original re-mix of a classic story…

Blackstone Audio - The Hittite by Ben BovaThe Hittite
By Ben Bova; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
8 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 9.3 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: April 13, 2010
ISBN: 9781441728135 (cd), 9781441728166 (mp3-cd)
Ben Bova brings us an exciting new take on the timeless legend of Troy. This is the tale of Lukka, the Hittite soldier who traveled across Greece in search of the vicious slave traders who kidnapped his wife and sons. He tracks them all the way to war-torn Troy, where he proves himself a warrior to rank with noble Hector and swift Achilles. Lukka is the man who builds the Trojan horse for crafty Odysseus, who topples the walls of Jericho for the Israelites, and who steals the beautiful Helen—the legendary face that launched a thousand ships—from her husband Menaleus, fighting his way across half the known world to bring her safely to Egypt.

From the author of The Blue Max!! Here’s an audiobook I almost overlooked, first published in 1982…

Blackstone Audio - Florida Is Closed Today by Jack D. HunterFlorida Is Closed Today
By Jack D. Hunter; Read by Tom Weiner
5 CDs – Approx. 5.6 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: March 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781433219580 (cd), 9781433219610 (mp3-cd)
CIA sleuth Roger Wagner has retired and moved to Florida with his smart, pretty wife. But his leisure is disrupted when the body of a fellow secret agent washes ashore near his beach-front house. The incident launches him on a frantic, hazardous race against time to neutralize a doomsday bomb hidden by a group of terrorists, who are holding his wife—and the entire state of Florida—as hostages.

And finally, a non-fiction audiobook of the kind I’d love to see a ton more of. Also included, in this audiobook package, is a batch of pictures on a CD-ROM. Nice!

Blackstone Audio - The Twilight Zone Companion (Second Edition) by Marc Scott ZicreeThe Twilight Zone Companion (Second Edition)
By Marc Scott Zicree; Read by Tom Weiner
13 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 15.4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: March 1, 2010
ISBN: 9781433223426 (cd), 9781433223457 (mp3-cd)
The Twilight Zone Companion is the complete, five season (1959-64) show-by-show guide to one of television’s greatest series. Zicree’s well-written account is fascinating reading for even the casual fan. Coverage of each episode includes plot synopsis, Rod Serling’s opening narration, behind-the-scenes stories from the original artists who created the series, and a complete list of cast and credits.

Posted by Jesse Willis