Reading, Short And Deep #190 – The Meddlers by C.M. Kornbluth

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #190

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Meddlers by C.M. Kornbluth

The Meddlers was first published in Science Fiction Adventures, September 1953.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

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 talk about 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

The SFFaudio Podcast #522 – READALONG: Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #522 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Evan Lampe and Amy H. Sturgis talk about Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee

Talked about on today’s show:
Alex Nevala-Lee, a book and an audiobook, thinking about legacies, thinking about audiobooks before, the original cool guy, adorable, its nice to be read to, 100 pages of footnotes, Evan, your book doesn’t exist as an audiobook, nobody wants to read anymore, Evan’s gotten to the stage, reading history books, non-fiction is so good on audio, rekindling pleasure, everything is cited, really he said that?, “Fuck, Eando Binder!”, “lambasted dianetics”, its all cited, 13 hours, not padded, way too long, more about their sexual problems, wife-swappin’ again, a problem for a lot of books, so easy to read, just have a little listen, so engrossing, so well written, The Amazing, The Astounding, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont, the Navy yard, commentary on the stories, I Will Fear No Evil, John W. Campbell is important, Ben Bova, two confusing awards, Hugo Gernsback needs his own version of this, the one person who is completely missing from this book is H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Arthur C. Clarke, what about this?, Jesse’s complaints are not very legit, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, modern science fiction, the intellectual historian, markets for genres, the 20s-30s-40s, the Cold War, turn towards nativism, a profound effect, the Science Fiction League, a self-aware community, WWII, a fledgling dialogue, this revolution, connecting SF with science, Microcosmic God, this is on Campbell, distinctly American?, issues sent as ballast to the UK, all the foreign editions of Astounding, the British fanzines, Hugo was nuts for electronics, we’re going to invent our own televisions, home amateurs, ham radio operators, the science fiction reader, Tom Swift, the edisonade, fertile soil, the radio boys, Electronic Experimenter, a pulp fiction collection, reading Amazing vs. reading Astounding, technical drawings and weird editorials, not only space opera, The Electrical Experimenter, Larry Niven, they’re weird dudes, a pathetic figure, a tragedy, a mire of pseudoscience, Asimov’s biography, Heinlein’s letters, no no, a horror suspense movie, uplifting, it worked on Heinlein, Asimov was his own little being, the tragedy is coming, blind spots and prejudices, good fiction and good science, the new wave, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, a machine for generating analogies, he’s given them the tools to push back against him, still influential, descent into pseudoscience and self delusion, Asimov’s preface to Dangerous Visions, we’re the squares, the passing of the torch, the sexual revolution, a cultural revolution vibe, Asimov was a square, “I fuck a lot, man.”, almost sexless, The Gods Themselves, weird alien sex, Heinlein’s weirdness, a lot of revealing things, the role of the wives, a biography of Kay (Catherine) Tarrant, spelling the names, Campbell wasn’t needed, behind the scenes, Astounding is so important, still under copyright, Heinlein getting mad at Campbell, Philip K. Dick has one story in Astounding, what’s going on?, Impostor, Campbell wanted superhumans, The Golden Man, a superhuman idiot, writing in reaction to it, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold’s aesthetic, Campbell didn’t take Alfred Bester!, a gatekeeper, Frederik Pohl, how important The Cold Equations is, you have to keep re-writing this until you get it right, what it does, this is what we are talking about, this is how far we can go, a Star Trek story, here is an episode of something that we can imagine happening, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, what Campbell was aiming at, a study in what editors can do, seeding the same idea multiple times, turning Asimov down, how would that intelligence work?, a black POV character, a leap of imagination, racism and homophobia as compartmentalization, Dune World by Frank Herbert, Mack Reynolds, Black Man’s Burden, Commune: 2000, the problem is scarcity (there is none, except in jobs), universal basic income, it didn’t matter to you that the kid was Filipino, what the difference between a rationalists and empiricists, here’s how drunk driving should work, you’re not clear yet, a technical journal, that’s not how science works, how science works, grinding lenses, Verne -> submarines, Wells -> warplanes, Campbell -> atom bombs, science fiction leading the science, a legacy, Rocket Ship Galileo, Tom Swift in the Rocket Age, Nancy Drew is not the same, Nazis on the moon, action fun excitement, Elon Musk, pushing in all directions, badly inspired, Paul Krugman, Asimov’s Foundation series, a weird tension, the scientific approach to all things, psychology, a desire to make everything scientific, A.E. Van Vogt, enough to be dangerous, enthusiasm for the ideas didn’t follow through to the methodology, we can make this science too, Hubbard had no interest in science (or science fiction, really), Heinlein’s failing, Asimov was a sexual asshole, a tragic figure, Heinlein falls for Hubbard because he had a uniform, a lying used car salesman, cults, its not about your intelligence, lacking critical thinking, charisma doesn’t translate from the page, judging eyes, I no longer trust you, the worst insult Heinlein could ever give anybody, broken legs and gonorrhea, the asshole sections of Jesse’s email, Heinlein was really blinded by patriotism, the Vietnam War, we need a renaissance for the Heinlein juveniles, Farnham’s Freehold makes a lot more sense now, trying to make a point about Campbell being wrong, hopeful commentary, not including Hubbard, the serpent in the garden, transformative, “the competent man”, competitors and community members, we’re doing something that’s important, the conversations we’re having are important, they hung together for decades, personal loyalty, trolls, the story of the first Worldcon, women nurturing men who were nurturing other men, Donald A. Wollheim was a better troll than anyone living today, contributing something positive, Mimic, he bought a lot of Philip K. Dick, Asimov as a youth, your idea of heaven, the power of picking up one of these magazines, the one thing missing from this book is the history of the covers, the art, fill the space, a little bit of technology, pitch me three new magazine, Weird Tales, tiny little things, when H.P. Lovecraft turns down the editorship of Weird Tales, what would we have or what would we be missing?, a magazine with a legacy, Elon Musk is a Heinleinian character, old letters pages are fossils, D.D. Harriman, The Man Who Sold The Moon, a trap, not hard enough on the Soviets!, a whole lifetime of a really complicated human being, the whole point, the functionalist stuff sounds like Campbell, creativity doesn’t work that way, how writing works, The Trouble With Tribbles, everything is in reaction, H.G. Wells doesn’t seem to have a massive precursor, The Time Machine, Last And First Men, Olaf Stapledon, Starmaker, those men are heroes, page 370 and 371, Barry M. Malzberg, sympathize with his critics, the question of victimization, a problem solving medium, not everyone is a hero, the way science fiction is today, science fiction should explore everything, schlubs, we all live in a world that’s increasingly become science fictional, Wells’ heroes are assholes, the New Wave pushes back against the Campbellian revolution, J.G. Ballard, mistrust of the meta-narrative, setting up things that come later, wanting 15 other books to be written, a companion volume on the Futurians, creating editors, Judith Merrill, here’s another community, C.M. Kornbluth, glimpses, Arena by Fredric Brown, The Orville is new Star Trek: The Next Generation, the a plot and the b plot, season 8 Next Generation, Enemy Mine, Hell In The Pacific, Lee Marvin, no alien movie, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, Space: 1999, The Most Dangerous Game, Predator, somebody sitting around, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, the b-plot, The Corbamite Maneuver, The Kobayashi Maru, Amy’s Looking Back At Genre History, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, always asking questions, how do you know, a meta-story, it’s about what happens when you read Astounding, Sandkings by George R.R. Martin is a retelling of Microcosmic God, Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, Hal Clement, science fiction luminaries, missing an ode to Hal Clement, the chapter titles, Who Goes There?, it doesn’t give you what you want, Don A. Stuart, Twilight, two types of storytellers, historical narratives, a remarkable achievement, history is a pruning job, a really important book, more books just like this, every time we say “Astounding” take a drink, endnotes, bibliography, a gift that’s going to keep on giving, what happens after this, some editor discovered or promoted Dashiell Hammett, Black Mask, railroading magazines, westerns, isn’t Analog still going today?, finally why this magazine called Analog?, it’s a metaphor, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, factless, Willy Ley, trying to make the reality behind science fiction more real, giving writers a grounding, Asimov: what a man!, writers who are complaining about low pay rates, E.E. Doc Smith, the Dean drive, a reactionless space drive, more biographies of these pulp era mags, The World Of Nitrogen, The Realm Of Measures, Asimov On Numbers, super-clear writing, Campbell’s book of collected editorials, Lecherous Limericks, bra-snapping and carrying on, Annoted Gulliver’s Travels, a writing and learning machine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, mysteries, the joy of reading and the joy of writing, his mind was always elevator, that kind of curiosity is so rare, he wanted to know the answers to everything, a powerful force in reality, The End Of Eternity, a fun book.

Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

The SFFaudio Podcast #506 – READALONG: Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #506 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Talked about on today’s show:
1953/1954, people and animals getting smarter on the Earth, Space Science Fiction, the 2nd half was never published, the first half is public domain, Greg Bear and Poul Anderson’s daughter, bad logic, a strange curiosity, 1953, oh crap my subscription’s lapsed!, The Escape, putting Poul Anderson on notice!, Scott’s prediction, idea science fiction, fantastic, very good, the reviews, what people love about it, too short?, 164 pages, Archie Brock, Jesse is not here to poop on the book, the imagery, the opening, Ray Bradbury, an elephant, a chimpanzee with a shotgun, these covers are weird, not a novel about an animal uprising, that’s not what you see mostly, didn’t come to fruition, throwaway stuff, a revolution in Africa, a one off, gorillas organizing, Protector by Larry Niven, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, the laws of thought in different in different parts of the galaxy, Earth is in the slow zone, stories that nest within this premise, a dampening field was turned off, echoes in other stories about intelligence or stupidity, Anderson didn’t say enough, it wasn’t philosophical enough, the dog, reflection on motivation, reading news reports, the Chinese army has defected, characters coming up with explanations for other characters to shoot down, a shotgun approach, the Goodreads reviews, a good idea for a bunch of different writers to tackle, Mike Resnick can take a bone and chew on it real good, Rachel In Love by Pat Murphy, Flowers For Algernon, a lack of focus, a whole novel about that farm, what does it mean to be smart, people going crazy, its better to be stupid (so as to not be unhappy), a philosophical meditation or exploration, among the scientists, cut the book up, the space stuff is supposed to make us think, is there something that we don’t see?, that’s amazing, no backup systems, no safeguards, an arrogance there, hubris!, racing brains, manic, what about the insects?, the pigs, it almost turned into Animal Farm for a minute, how George Orwell’s novel can be explained, bees, ants, social insects, the higher animals, working at real speed, shrew to humans, reptiles, fish, what about all the aquatic mammals, dolphins and whales, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, he isn’t really interested in the animals except on the farm, 5 times boost, critical mass, let’s explore what intelligence is, is this about school?, more facts, more history, math, train you up, a useful and functional member of society, quitting your job and moving to the country, Clifford D. Simak’s City stories, it’s not a metaphor, what Anderson thinks education is about, they never make the whole planet dumb, a sidebar, save humanity by making it dumb, so 2018, The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells, an apple the size of a basketball (or bigger), a scientific adventure romance, a fabulation, a fertilizer that boosts production, the ultimate result, a homeostasis, profits are always temporary, no eternal profits (or prophets either), very sparky for ideas, no answers, a real thorny issue, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Scott is surprised, if you multiply everyone’s intelligence by 5 the system we live in will fall apart, rote jobs, the elevator job, the farm job, Sheila wasn’t very bookish (was looking into the abyss), Jesse doesn’t know what intelligence is, very pleasant house frau, deep conversations, dissatisfied, I don’t want to know, red pill blue pill, is that intelligence, so small, people don’t enjoy things except for food, bad coffee, super geniuses on top of super geniuses, IQ, what IQ tests are, we’ve got morons and we’ve got imbeciles, problematic language, disability to the mean, mental disabilities, mental classes, does existential angst only kick-in at a certain intelligence class?, sphere of influence, put things back the way it was, there wasn’t a universal thesis, intelligence is a bag, this explains voting, you guys aren’t doing it right, “if everybody got a 5x boost Hillary would be president”, why not the American army, ho one gets classified as an officer (vs. a grunt), why is Sgt. Rock a sergeant, the iconic Nick Fury (and his Howling Commandos), the top of the competence chain, he isn’t saying specific, no single thesis, what is intelligence, bad at math good at smelling bullshit, sometimes stupid sometimes smart, gradients or thresholds, here’s a massive effect, why do so many move to the country?, circumstances and limitations, intellectual limitations vs. vs. power limitations, the rabbit has not hand, power and manipulation, no matter how smart dolphins are they don’t impact us?, what’s a dolphin going to do with a ship?, what’s in the black box (underneath)?, Jesse will shut up for a while, no evolutionary pressure to increase intelligence after a certain level, no supersingularity civilizations, humans can now explore the galaxy, what is that going to do?, human-alien relations, story possibilities, now what?, leaving it hopeful at the end, categories of human, the level we used to be, good luck and godspeed, neanderthals and homo sapiens, recolonize the earth, what the pigs have to say about being slaughtered, veganism, pigs are ok to eat because they’re yummy, negotiations, mutually yummy, we’re mutually yummy, chicken eggs, how much is language importance to intelligence?, dogs and pigs and the elephant, a new logical language, natural shorthand, efficiency of communication, pretty hungry, now the sheep knows what’s happening, cows don’t want to go in the slaughterhouse, in the queue, I’ve heard Bessie, what does this mean?, an animal with human level intelligence and no thumbs and no fire, new sets of questions, selection pressure, no hands and no speech, Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk, uplift, Startide Rising by David Brin, a driving thesis, it doesn’t really work that way, reading the gossip column, poetry is making her depressed, we need to develop a new philosophy, usually the problems, what is the new relationship on the farm going to be?, what should happen?, should we stop eating meat?, if pigs were intelligent(er), lots of experience with cows, feral pigs in Texas, vegetarianism, dairy, slaughtering animals for meat, another thing Anderson doesn’t think about, what about Africa?, Mountain Lions are lions, they can’t eat vegetables, carnivores, what are the predator prey dynamics, birds of prey, intelligence is associated with hunting, instincts to huddle up and get in the center, runaway or get to the center, hide and kill, wolves, stalk, kill, a major disruptor of ecology, what will the wolves do, Traveller (RPG), the entire Earth’s ecology will be disrupted, what we don’t see, the amount of time spent under tutelage, both kids in college, an empty nest, 18 years in the nest, most animals, insects and snakes never meet their parents, hunting skills, a full fledged member of the group, the cultural tools, linguistic tools, not just for poetry, much more to be said on this topic, a place to spark ideas from, not the end word on it, from Locus magazine, what five books would I like to be remembered for? Tau Zero, Mid Summer Tempest, The Boat Of A Million Year, Three Hearts And Three Lions, The Enemy Stars, Brain Wave, what science fiction does best, maybe one more chance, thank you Paul, he didn’t put the High Crusade on the list, Call Me Joe, funny and fun.

Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #489 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964: The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastBlackstone Audio - The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Volume 1 edited by Robert SilverbergThe SFFaudio Podcast #489 – The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein; read by L.J. Ganser. This is an unabridged reading of the novelette (1 hour, 33 minutes) followed by a discussion of the Blackstone Audio audiobook of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964 and The Roads Must Roll.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Scott, Paul Weimer, and Marissa Vu

Talked about on today’s show:
The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume I, the mid-1980s, this one looks really long, a good exercise, reviewing collections, summarizing stories, quick opinion, get the audiobook and dole them out very gently, Microcosmic God, disgusting to rush, the audiobook is fantastic, superior, so good, one caveat, songs, tunes, Fondly Fahrenheit may be the greatest science fiction ever written, Cold Equations is important, Alfred Bester, tension apprehension and dissension have begun, reet in the heat, missing tunes, X-Minus One, cheery and cool, Oliver Wyman, Scanners Live In Vain, the cranch voice, if you had to narrate which story would you pick?, all so different all so good, Paul would go with Coming Attraction, that sad mournful ending, New York, tugging at Paul’s heart, the mangled Empire State Building, the girl is playing him, Paul could bring that pain, such male author stories, Stanley Weinbaum’s A Martian Odyssey, Judith Merril, The Quest For Saint Aquin by Anthony Boucher, very Catholic, the pope keeps his ring in his shoe, apostolic, the filth encrusted wooden table, robass – a robot donkey, jeep, The Huddling Place, Clifford D. Simak, no conflict in his stories, the guy needs to leave his house, the stakes are big, caught by Simak, The Goblin Reservation, so relatable, too late, sort of a metaphor for life right now, conversations about which stories to read, this is great!, science fiction stories can resonate even stronger later on than when they were published, 1944, all about today, all his friends are elsewhere, bullshit at the airport and the border, stay home in my mansion, the horrors of bureaucratic awfulness, hotel food, you fight to travel, the shore I know, a traveling armchair, The Caves Of Steel by Isaac Asimov, agoraphobia, where Asimov read Simak, City, we need a narrator for The Trouble With Ants by Clifford D. Simak, future history, the rise of the dogs, Jesse would narrate Born Of Man And Woman by Richard Matheson, not my life experience, Marissa gets it now, Jesse’s Roof Bear friends, ESL/EAL, making acronyms, drawing little pictures, bare means naked, a bare roof has no bear, Cellar Feller, a green monster chained to the wall of the basement, unchained the monster, told from the monster’s point of view, Flowers For Algernon, “Screen Stars”, you have to infer so much, a simple and thoughtful POV, it has niceness inside of it, after yet another beating, That Only A Mother, the horrors of mutation, The Crawlers, The Golden Man, Philip K. Dick, radiation, E.E. Doc Smith, Them! (1954), giant ants, the psychic wound of nuking cities, the white guys do science fiction anthology, sameness in assumed viewpoint, plenty of SF women writers, James Nichol, Nebula award folks (SFWA writers), introductions, a terrible introduction for telling you about the stories, one decision of editors, novelists and co-writers, switching over to weird fiction, ‘women had to hide their identities behind male pseudonyms’, weird fiction authors, science fiction poetry and novels are well represented, one and half women, Nightfall is a dud because it is long and it doesn’t need to be, it needs to be read, writing to an image and a final scene, slow buildup, that final realization, fear vs. wonder, the celestial mechanics don’t really work, a wondrous image, that religious or anti-religious thing, who are we arguing with, the writers from 1970, The Country Of The Kind by Damon Knight, Arena by Fredric Brown, Tishiro Mifune vs. Lee Marvin (Hell In The Pacific), where is Philip K. Dick?, Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, The Marching Morons, terrible but interesting, The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin, an important story, a rage inducing story, the most influential science fiction story ever written?, responses to it, very H.G. Wells in its execution of thought, clean and pure vs clunky and arbitrary, character is really not very important in science fiction, western genre, baseball magazines, railroad magazines, True Detective, those are all dead and gone, they’re not full of idea, the universe doesn’t care about you, you are mistaken sir, designed by committee, John W. Campbell, the story that it is, the story we needed, take a spacewalk, fascinating, pure poetry, Ray Bradbury, Roger Zelazny, serviceable, all about the idea, The Nine Billion Names Of God, beautifully executed and a mindblower, The Star, was it right for God to destroy a whole civilization just to get a baby Jesus, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human, Some Of Your Blood, Venus Plus X, the Frankenstein story retold, the definite mad scientist story, Sandkings by George R.R. Martin, in dialogue, massive differences, Kidder, ideas vs. entertainment, Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, incredibly well written, Sturgeon’s style, that Heinleinian feel, First Contact by Murray Leinster, Star Trek, a view of the 20th century, feeling futuristic still, visiplates, when flatscreens first came out, visiplates everywhere, mirrors out the visiplates, the Apollo program had mirrors, A Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum, a story of The Martian by Andy Weir, a great description, a bird monster alien being eaten by a cthulhu creature, Tweel, better aliens than any aliens, language, a United Nations of accents, a classic of Science Fiction, laying the groundwork for later SF, the entirety of John W. Campbell’s theory, Jack Vance, really good story, delightfully light and fun and thought provoking, impossible, funny and tragic in so many little moments, Twilight by John W. Campbell, a hitchhiking time traveller, light and breezy and old fashioned sexist?, Helen O’Loy by Lester Del Rey is a satire, out of context, its beautiful, she kills herself, true love, porn addiction, it feels very modern, very influential, The Stepford Wives, Ex Machina, Fondly Fahrenheit, The Weapon Shop by A.E. Van Vogt, PKD became obsessed with A.E. Van Vogt, the Null stories, The Voyage Of The Space Beagle, the alien from Alien, Slan, a very good reading, the arbitrary weirdness that happens and the small businessman, how you feel when you’re reading a PKD book, community, migrating to another planet, somebody gets me!, these are the rules now, no boobs, sentient nipples, nobody cheating on his wife, Rudyard Kipling really influenced Heinlein, The Seesaw, Mimsy Were The Borogroves by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, creepy weird SF, Alice In Wonderland, Kuttner’s radical viewpoint, C.L. Moore’s style and image, Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury, Reading, Short And Deep, very pairable, Vintage Season, like a business, making a living together, our Scanners Live In Vain show, the best Martian Chronicles story, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Million Year Picnic, Usher II, Kornlbuth was snarky or amazing, Surface Tension by James Blish, pantropic series, a Joseph Smith and the golden plates going on, using their gametes, they won’t remember us, untarnishable, a few microns, a science fiction story about sea monkeys, rocket technology, a whole funny cute little thing, Stephen Baxter’s Flux, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s The Expert System’s Brother, Jerome Bixby’s A Good Life, The Twilight Zone episode, Daniel Keyes, the shorter version is better, adapted many times, an emotional trainwreck, Ted Chiang’s Understand, Beggars In Spain by Nancy Kress, exploring the consequences of giving superhuman abilities, developmental disabilities, mocked by the people at the bakery, if you just become a libertarian…, the Ayn Rand version of this story, The Country Of The Kind is in dialogue with The Country Of The Blind by H.G. Wells, there’s no such thing as vision, a horror story about an evil man, Alfred Bester’s The Roller-Coaster, Robert Silverberg’s Passengers, putting avatars through hell for your own amusement, once the people in your VR worlds are smart enough to feel real, the pleasure-pain syndrome is not available in this unit, A Rose For Ecclesiastes by Roger Zelazny, Mars getting smaller and smaller, strong religious themes, Lord Of Light, a Hindu thing going on, an Amber fan, when he uses his kung-fu, smoking, “Mr Gee, piped Morton.”, why was this Heinlein story chosen, it’s a representative story, Gentlemen, Be Seated, a character who knows things taking someone around and giving him a tour, social stuff, a rebellion of labour against “the Man”, functionalism, how important a position is to economics, a real phenomenon, a real paper from 1930, a certain kind of philosophy, Douglas-Martin screens, the mid-sixties, The Man Who Sold The Moon, cars are not a really great idea, how are we going to recover from it?, the rise of suburbia, the depletion of inner cities, urban sprawl, cars are going to kill us, what are the social implications, going for big ideas, a labour intensive technology, he works it out in such detail, we should all expect rockets to the Moon, ancient journeys to the Moon, what about slidewalks, airports have them, a conveyor belt that pulls people along, castles in the sky but in science fiction, I have this vision of the United States remade, how would all this work, the union that runs this machine, a militarized union, a fascinating exploration of Science Fiction that proves the point Scott is making, here’s an idea – what would it mean, some guy from Australia, Airplane! (1980), it all comes to nothing (except its amazing), a weird strain of science fiction, look at what people can do, grand ideas to solve upcoming problems, the law of unintended consequences, who are putting you life in the hands of, so different physically, the internet cables, shutting the internet off for 8 hours, when Wikipedia shutdown, the screen is black, so many people are affected, why is my website not working?, when Ronald Regan broke the air traffic controller’s union, if you accept the basic premise,

The fictional social movement he calls functionalism (which is unrelated to the real-life sociological theory of the same name), advances the idea that one’s status and level of material reward in a society must and should depend on the functions one performs for that society.

meritocracy, the elite that runs the country, we need superdelgates, who are the depolarables?, binders full of assholes, anybody who didn’t go to an ivy league university or doesn’t work for a military contractor, testing out his whole theory, what the saboteurs want, the philosophy behind the story, compare with Starship Troopers and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, votes for veterans, “fight the wars” say the chickenhawks, a real problem, if you cant service the servos, in today’s society, why is Heinlein even talking about this?, in the Navy, peacetime officers, during wartime incompetence can kill you, the Scientology Wikipedia entry, L. Ron Hubbard, removed from command twice for incompetence, this is not a tenable situation in an emergency, these guys deserve more power because they have more skill, exploring the idea, they’re all competent, extreme competence, breaking psychologically, for the good of society, a fascinating fact, the R.C.M.P., Preston, Nelson, Dudley, a paramilitary force, when the RCMP are protesting they wear jeans, Coquitlam, Vancouver, Port Moody, what are the union members fighting for?, the right to quit and take another job, the plot comes after the idea, so awesome, a roadside diner on a moving road, how to move people, buses and trains, railroad magazines, every kind of of thing you can imagine about railroading, solar power, obsessed with the idea, the poor Australian, under what circumstances aren’t there better choices?, not practical, he proves they are impractical, all these engineers, a story about a bus company, the buses are shutdown, he maximizes it in certain places, general strikes, a strong man at the top, a straw man to knock down, someone with large hands, New York City stopping allowing cars, self-driving cars, a really efficient traffic pattern, a Netflix subscription service, electric scooters parked everywhere, the key to efficiency, what Scott sees, ransomwaring, working at Vodafone, loyalty to the company, X-Minus One, Dimension X, a fairly long story, tumblebugs, Segways, how humiliating it is, child sized bikes, the cover of Astounding, June 1940, they have guns, engineer and policeman, engineer and soldier, the ultimate in Heinleinian competence, we have to come to some arrangement, horror danger, going the horror direction, Farnham’s Freehold, some doofus, old man and his son-in-law, castration for being an idiot, nuclear war, are they going to be aiming here?, Fallout 3 or 4, a park of the black overlords, listen to papa boss, what would the United States be like if Heinlein had become president?, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, failed politician, science fiction happens anyway, public works, moon program, an Eisenhowery-father figure, super-anti-communist, what kind of sex scandals would we be having in the White House if Heinlein were President?, what Secretary should Philip K. Dick become, Secretary of The Interior, Jack Vance could be Secretary Of State, James Triptree Jr could be director of CIA, Cordwainer Smith, Ray Bradbury as Vice President, Isaac Asimov as Science advisor, H.P. Lovecraft on immigration, somebody could write a book, Fredosphere, an interdimensional adventure, The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown by Paul Malmont, L. Sprague De Camp, Lester Dent, Doc Savage, Green Fire by Eileen Gunn, Andy Duncan, Pat Murphy and Michael Swanwick, wild and weird, 2011, Jack London, Hawaii, The Philadelphia Experiment, final thoughts, the Scientology people outside, “Trying to live in a high-speed world with low-speed people is not very safe. The way to happiness is best traveled with competent companions.”, “Do Not Murder”, the way to happiness.

The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein

Posted by Jesse Willis