The SFFaudio Podcast #525 – READALONG: The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
a novella from Space Science Fiction, September 1963, illustrations, going deep into Philip K. Dick, wanting to like it, recapping Evan’s thematics, big data, blinkered, as art, so many important elements, starting where he ended up, shifting realities, what is human?, the frontier, labour and the meaning of labour, interesting authoritarian dystopias, anti-Orwellian, Solar Lottery, The Man Who Japed, direct democracy, optimism, they have the whole universe open to them, the narrowmindedness of Cold War thinking, the first tinkerer hero, an average putterer, preternatural in fixing or degraded skills?, preposterousness, the generalist vs. the technocrat, academia limits you, narrow corridors of specialization, I know more than you and there’s no way you can reach, getting ahead of Paul, write a sonnet, build a wall, solve equations, pitch manure, specialization is for insects, esoteric order, intellectuals vs. academics, feted, he’s great!, how Philip K. Dick doesn’t fit into his own environment, what is this all about?, what’s happened, his car breaks down, “I’ll have a look”, how can we possibly move to a new place, “My god! This is amazing!”, The Golden Man, completely like a chickenhead, functionaries, coffee and boobs and that’s it, the proto-tinkerer, Time Pawn or Doctor Futurity, time travel, saying something about the interaction with specialization, the “genius bar”, “geniuses” being slightly more than minimum wage, Jesse ruined the show, Robert McNamara, The Fog Of War (2003), a numbers game, true to life, not guiding the policy, Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), letting the spreadsheets dictate, the tyranny of the computer, hydraulic empires, China, the nature of the infrastructure, Arnold J. Toynbee, Dune, one small intrusion, no variables allowed, A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven, Stability, Meddler, Paycheck, competence porn, House Of Cards, Sherlock Holmes, almost any John Scalzi protagonist, Breaking Bad, he’s doing science!, so awesome to see it, oh my god we’re going to do some science, helium has these properties!, black boxy, the kid’s vidsender, a genetic freak, he is the hydraulic empire, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Little Black Bag, such a competent bag, competence satire, The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, is a vizsender facetime?, this is public domain, the visuals, lemmee fix that, a real robot now, fantasy real objects, stories with games, War Game, trying to invade the Earth using board games, sitting down to play, Monopoly is a capitalism simulator, the purpose of Monopoly, toys and game and hyper-competence, fixing things for coffee and donuts, no vivid mental life, the Pole, Soviet scientist, Sergei Korolev, expansion, why do we never see the Centaurans?, Traveler, a decaying empire, The World Jones Made, imperial ambition, Oregon trail, the noser or the jitney, a used car lot, Mimsy Were The Borogoves by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, a mirroring, a conversation, Waterspider, Astounding, 3-D movies every night, The Variable Man, the old time pre-cog who wrote it, The December 1962 IF, a meta-story, commenting on his own work, Orpheus With Clay Feet, We Can Build You, a reference to Nanny, pre-cogs are science fiction writers, how to build the future, welding skills?, soldering skills?, the ultra-competent handyman, shoe a horse and run a government, fantasy as the main element, Reading, Short And Deep, Strange Eden, slem ray vs. r-pistol, asshole braggart character, tame animals, there’s a lady, a retelling of the Circe episode, Jesse just lights up, getting those rocket ships off the ground, Beyond Lies The Wub, a pig with a ghost inside it (that wants to talk about philosophy), so weird and obsessive, The Gun, The Defenders, an elaborate bureaucracy, meetings, no love interest, it reads like a script, dropping bombs on a guy with a horse and cart, Mr. Spaceship, weapons of war, a dying scientist, a vehicle of exploration, The Defenders, a trans-humanist force, The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey, shell people, “you can be beautiful”, they have longings, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, the cripples, colonization, Dick’s first long fiction, how to put things together, novel structure, the coffee, the boobs, the trail of Philip K. Dick, the characters are lacking, irritable anxious weird dudes, I want my comedy, Evan thinks Galactic Pot-Healer is Dick’s novel (for a deep philosophy on work), the jokes, the silly stuff, you went there didn’t you, the compatibility test, spending the time, reading it is a pleasure, intellectual stuff, themes, no pleasure, elegance, beauty, Earth against the others, who is the aging empire here?, the British, the Nazis, vundervepons, invasion board, the big board, The Penultimate Truth, fake work, fake war, are they the Japanese?, Philip K. Dick’s childhood poems, Aunt Flo judging his work, weeks and weeks and weeks of newspapers, war war war war domestic domestic domestic, American tank giving Japanese tank a piggy-back ride, The Man In The High Castle, the role of war, the war of munitions, the war of industry, we can win WWII no problem, here’s a Japanese intern(ee) that was murdered, The Simulacrum, Reinhardt, Reinhard Heydrich, the Wannsee Conference, the calculation, spreadsheets were involved, Supernova In The East, anti-war in Japan, elan, The Crystal Crypt, a snowglobe story, the Black Clad Leiters, Nazis on Mars, childhood trauma, reflecting, what if me and my fellow writers are pre-cogs, nobody else uses pre-cogs, Null-A, a parody of the plots of The Pawns Of Null-A, Null-P, Think Like A Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, what if…, The Great C, work as therapy, art therapy, what’s your therapy?, occupational therapy, Dick being a bit of a pre-cog, find work you love, find pleasure in your work, fantasy, Taiwan, work should be enjoyable, work being meaningful, a euphemism, a way of tricking yourselves, kindergarten, lunch is coming and take your pills, universal basic income, getting paid in coffee and a sandwich, the lack of ability to fix things, openable phones, a plastic cover over the engine of modern cars, alienated from the ability to fix your own stuff, walking towards this Philip K. Dick future, the whole Amish thing, human scale technology, Murray Bookchin, anarchism, the light switch as consent, thinking through the technologies we choose, obsessed with tiny houses, being “off grid”, growing the fuel for the horses, compressed air technology, social ecology, the kind of guy they don’t talk about in school, Towards A Liberatory Technologies, post hole diggers, this would make a good movie, very visual, Molly Jojez has blue skin, they always adapt the wrong stories, a failed experiment, Idiocracy is The Marching Morons, Mark Twain, a reverse Connecticut Yankee, Flight Into Forever by Poul Anderson, the heroic past, Little, Big: Or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley, return of the king, The Skull, Paycheck, Captive Market, All You Zombies, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, social credit, socreds, Alberta, ancient political ideas, neo-liberalism, an interesting thinker, mostly wrong about everything, The Number Of The Beast, time and space and universes, Barsoom and Oz, Sliders with sex, we need utopias, solar punk, green shoots away from this grim dark, post apocalyptic story, Netflix, lots and lots of science fiction and almost all post-apocalyptic, zombies, an anarchist take on a post apocalyptic story, Doctor Bloodmoney, dog eat dog vs. human eat horse, a thing for horsemeat, another thing for the rhetorizer, Horselover, why is he murdering the horses?, Confessions Of A Crap Artist, weird conspiracy theories, another meta observation, pseudo-science magazines, a Dianetics scene, a misfit, the competent man stuff, his answers are all wrong, interesting in their absence, there’s no explosion, not acceptable for a film, that’s not the problem he’s interested in, true wub!

Posted by Jesse Willis

Shambleau by C.L. Moore

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here is Jayem Wilcox’s illustration for C.L. Moore’s Shambleau as it appeared in Weird Tales, November 1933, its first publication:

Shambleau by C.L. Moore - illustration by Jayem Wilcox from Weird Tales, November 1933

Her first professional sale, selling for $100, it is also her most famous story.

The LibriVox version, read by Roberta J, runs just under 78 minutes |MP3|.

C.L. Moore recorded her own reading of Shambleau, available below in two parts, for a Caedmon record (TC 1667) published in 1980:

Frank Kelly Freas’ did the cover art for the Caedmon recording:

CAEDMON Shambleau by C.L. Moore - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

And on the back of the LP was an abridged “Footnote To Shambleau” taken from a 1975 essay of the same name:

Footnote To Shambleau by C.L. Moore (abridged)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Maria Lectrix: Song In A Minor Key by C.L. Moore

SFFaudio Online Audio

From Maureen O’Brien of the Maria Lectrix podcast/blog comes…

“Northwest Smith is one of the great adventurers of Science Fiction, one of that group of cool, gray-eyed men who roam the spaceways and provide much of the inspiration for the legends that are a part of the folklore of space. Here is Northwest Smith, in a rare moment of peace…”

Song In A Minor Key by C.L. MooreSong In A Minor Key
By C.L. Moore; Read by Maureen O’Brien
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Maria Lectrix
Podcast: July 26, 2009
The last of the Northwest Smith stories, and probably the shortest. First published in the February 1940 issue of the mimeographed fanzine Scienti-Snaps. Later reprinted in Fantastic Universe, January 1957.

[Thanks Maureen!]

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC7 celebrates Robert A. Heinlein Centenary with audio fiction

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th DimensionIn honour of the 100th anniversary of Robert A. Heinlein’s birth, BBC7’s The Seventh Dimension is airing a special series of Heinlein stories. The first of which aired this last Saturday. First up was The Green Hills Of Earth, a Heinlein story he partially credited to a line from C. L. Moore and her story Shambleau (which also aired this year on BBC7). The Green Hills Of Earth is also one story with a distinction few others could possibly equal, it was quoted to listeners on the Moon – namely the crew of Apollo 15! Next Saturday the Heinlein Centenary celebration continues with Ordeal In Space. And, all this week, BBC7 is airing Methuselah’s Children. You can have a listen to The Green Hills Of Earth now, and for the next few days, via the Listen Again service. Same goes for the first episode of Methuselah’s Children. More details below..

The Cool Green Hills Of Earth by Robert A. HeinleinThe Green Hills Of Earth
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Adam Sims
1 Broadcast – Approx. 30 Minutes [UNABRIDGED?]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Saturday July 7th 2007
This is the poignant story of Rhysling, the blind space-going songwriter whose poetic skills rival Rudyard Kipling’s. This yarn is about a radiation-blinded spaceship engineer crisscrossing the solar system writing and singing some of the best lyrics in science fiction. In a fine display of writing skill, the spaceship and crew feel as real to the reader as a contemporary tramp steamer.

Science Fiction Methuselah's Children by Robert A. HeinleinMethuselah’s Children
By Robert A. Heinlein; Read by Paul Birchard
6 Parts, Six 30-Minute Broadcasts – Approx. 3 Hours [ABRIDGED]
BROADCASTER: BBC7’s The 7th Dimension
BROADCAST: Weekdays July 2007 to July 16th 2007
Robert A Heinlein’s sci-fi novel about a group of families who can live for several hundred years.

Jesse Willis

BBC7 has C.L. Moore’s Shambleau

Online Audio

BBC 7's The 7th Dimension BBC Radio 7 has an new project Saturday, a reading of C.L. Moore’s classic Shambleau! The story was produced by Gemma Jenkins as a commission for the 7th Dimension. This is the most famous of Moore’s famous pulp adventure Northwest Smith stories. Shambleau was Moore’s first professional sale, it first appeared in the November, 1933 issue of Weird Tales and the sale netted her a cool $100.00. The hero of the story is Northwest Smith, a spaceship pilot and smuggler, who’ll remind you of both Indiana Jones and Han Solo both. Smith lives in a future in which humanity has colonized the solar system. The relationship of the planetary primitives, on these planets, to the earth colonists, is analogous to the situation between the Native Indians of the Americas or the Aboriginies of Australia to European colonials. Smith is a ruthless, self-serving, and cynical anti-hero with a core of goodness. “Shambleau” mixes themes of sexuality and addiction during Smith’s encounter with a strange female alien. Details follow…

Science Fiction Audiobooks - Shambleau by C.L. MooreShambleau
By C.L. Moore; Read by; Read by Elizabeth McGovern
3 Radio Broadcasts – Approx. 90 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: BBC 7 / 7th Dimension
Broadcast: Saturday April 21st, 28th and May 5th at 6.30pm and 12.30am
An adventure set on Mars, bounty-hunter Northwest Smith lands himself in trouble when he comes to the aid of a beautiful young woman who is being attacked by an angry mob.

NOTE: Those outside the UK can get all of the above using the BBC7 Listen Again service for up to 6 days following the broadcasts.

Review of 2000X: Tales of the Next Millenia

Another for my list of favorites… almost done!

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - 2000X2000X: Tales of the Next Millennia
Hollywood Theater of the Ear
Executive Producers – Andy Trudeau and Stefan Rudnicki
Project Director / Producer-Director – Yuri Rasovsky
Hosted by Harlan Ellison

2000X aired on National Public Radio in 1999 and 2000. It’s a diverse series of 46 dramatized science fiction stories from authors like Robert A. Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, C.L. Moore, Robert Sheckley, Connie Willis, and Octavia Butler, just to name a few. This is audio drama at it’s highest quality – both the scripts and the performances are as good as I’ve heard.

I’ve got two favorites in the series:

By His Bootstraps
From a story by Robert A. Heinlein
Adapted, Produced, and Directed by Yuri Rasovsky
Mixed by Richard Fairbanks
Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Cordis Heard, Kascia Marciniak, and Ira Burton
Themes: / Time Travel / Paradox / Far Future /

This production won the Ohio State Award in 1982, and was included later in the 2000x series. It’s a fine dramatization of the story of time travel from one of the masters of the genre, performed by Richard Dreyfuss. It twists and turns back on itself in a brilliantly paradoxical manner. The production is fascinating to hear, as the stereo levels are managed to provide separation between the characters, which gets pretty complicated during the story. This one is best in stereo, while wearing headphones.

“Repent, Harlequin,” said the Ticktockman
Based on the story by Harlan Ellison
Dramatized, Produced, and Directed by Yuri Rasovsky
Recorded and Mixed by Warren Dewey
Starring Robin Williams, Harlan Ellison, Stefan Rudnicki, Arte Johnson, James Otis, Scott Brick, Hamilton Camp, Laura Kellogg, Melinda Peterson, and Phil Proctor

This is a fine way to experience Harlan Ellison’s classic story. It’s introduced and narrated by an enthusiastic Harlan Ellison. Robin Williams is perfect as the Harlequin, and Stefan Rudnicki’s voice makes the Ticktockman positively ominous. It’s an audio treat, full of sound, energy, and humor.

For a play list of all the productions in the series, click here. The 2000X homepage is here. And don’t forget to support your local public radio station!

2000X is currently available is two ways. First, Fantasic Audio has published a collection of some of the shows on cassette. It includes Repent, Harlequin and By His Bootstraps along with several others.

Second, the shows are available individually from Audible.com.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson