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

The SFFaudio Podcast #380 – READALONG: The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #380 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965/1964, Nebula Award, Dr. Bloodmoney, Dune by Frank Herbert, better than Dune?, if books were boxers…, a standard Philip K. Dick book, a lot of religious people, taking the cracker and the juice (communion), religious crises, the smaller ideas, precogs, forgetting the precogs are precogs, writing characters who can see into the future, what this novel has, a certain movie, after chapter 5 you don’t know what is real anymore, actual reality and what we’re seeing aren’t lined up, are we still in the Chew-Z delusion?, a very surreal Dick experiences, it’s a trip, the rhetorical flourish, are they spreading the plague, the questioning of reality, an original idea book (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?), The Days Of Perky Pat, an improvement of an idea in Perky Pat, a cobbled together book, a collage, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick, witchcraft and blood magic, the infection is spreading, Anne’s story (joke) about a cat who eats a steak, transubstantiation, the telepathic martian grandmother jackal beast, the difference, Dr. Bloodmoney is funny, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch is creepy horror, the colonization of reality, Solaris, 1961, whenever a beautiful young woman says “come with me” she always wants to take you to Jesus, Anne Hawthorne, she’s really an agent for Leo, the rehotrizer, the analog for sin, Nathaniel Hawthorne is the religious American version of Edgar Allan Poe, how evil is Palmer Eldritch?, is he a victim?, claims and undercut claims, what real evidence do we have that he’s evil, the three stigmata, subjective realities, then we would all be your children, childlike evil, coming up with the idea, people playing with dolls, Barbie dolls, that connection makes it a better book, all the men go into the Walt (Ken), all the women go into Perky Pat (Barbie), LEGO, a Doctor Who podcast, little mustaches and little hats, The Game Players Of Titan, playing like kids do, you can no longer have the experience of Barbie in her dream house, if I had Can-D (candy) I could have…, so well realized in the Short Story, the kids are adults and the adults are children, hunting for rabbits, waving to the Care-Boys, Martian octopuses looking to help humanity on blasted earth, adults need toys, from Earth to Mars, Chicken Pox Prospect (CPP), a grim prospect, an escapist materialistic world, landscapes of methane ice, the opiate of the colonists, when Philip K. Dick wrote this book he was banished from the house, miserable in his shack, taking his drugs in his hovel-shack, seeing that huge metal mask in the sky, he’s like the doll, Eichorst or Eidhorst, E-therapy (evolution therapy), “look, I’m a bubblehead”, religion vs. evolution, he beats Palmer Eldritch (or he thinks he does), the opening paragraph is the clue, we’re only made of dust, they way he wrote it that’s the idiosyncratic voice, so he did win, thank you Marissa, thank you Philip K. Dick, the runaway green-house effect, resort beaches in Antarctica, it’s 2016, running around in air-conditioned suits, “his conapt Marilyn Monroe, New Jersey”, 4.62 grables, 1.46 wagners, things were hotter than ever, clanked?, Daybreakers (2009), vampires, a nocturnal society, Mayerson is a shriveled up corpse, Guillermo del Toro, The Strain, a retelling of Dracula, an invasion of New York, Chuck Hogan, Eldritch Palmer, a synthesis of Dracula with The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, that homage, like Babylon 5, Highlander: The Series, flashbacks, it’s fun, he’s really enthusiastic about all the right things, a scary book, seeing the names mispronounced, little details, now is the time when Paul talks about eXistenZ, virtual reality games, deep into the game, take-out from Perky Pat, just like real life, the sting in the tail, are we still in the game?, they’re acting just like characters, a Palmer Eldritch sort of experience, baseline reality, so many levels of reality, out of the rat maze, laserdisc, a gun made out of a bucket of chicken, real-Cronenbergy, it still holds up, sort of Philip K. Dicky, Big Kahuna Burger, identity issues, Felix Blau, how come you keep calling me Leo, “rigid” is a Philip K. Dick keyword, Roog, a good ending, that interoffice audio memo, we’re supposed to infer that he’s not Palmer Eldritch, World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven, don’t be such a Fnool, getting Fnoogled, Larry Niven takes a page out of Philip K. Dick, the most sexist man in the universe, the Kzinti females are non-sentient, he’s wholeheartedly sexist, Ronnie, super-cunning and clever, lots of boobs, plots and plans, nobody ends up at the top in a Philip K. Dick novel, women in his Antarctic colony, Winnie The Pooh Prospect, fluke-pits, it’s a fluke that they lived, homeopapes, just go with it, underappreciated Dick novels, the religious aspect is a really big thing for a lot of people, now you are like Jesus, Americans are baked in religion, Jesse’s students are from Asia, talking about three days in a tomb, fundamental background material, 37 books, Cosmic Puppets, Marissa really liked the virtual reality stuff, Facebook and Second Life, he would have had a lot of fun with Facebook, Palmer Eldritch today is Google, everyone is in the religion of Facebook, Google’s claws are deep, Fallout 3, Tranquility Lane, an evil little girl, a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, if you really want to be a video-game designer you wanna read a lot of this, whoever the nameless game writer are, the Voigt-Kampf tests, Synths, managing towns, an underground railroad for androids, find the Institute (MIT), a robot wants a human body, romance her later, we’re gonna hook up – might as well get straight to it, they all seem to reward re-reading, The Matrix, I’m going to be all the colonists, I’ll be their civilization, playing all the people, SimCity, Civilization, deep into role-playing without the drugs, addicted to evil games, Clash Of Clans, FREE to play, spending $300 on digital skins (for League Of Legends), Candy Crush, I’m going to farm, rejecting the fake world for the real world, The Sims, managing sims lives, micromanaging fake people’s lives, buying virtual goods for an artificial world, sucking up your life, alcohol is a drugs, beer allows escape from the body, the rejection, the kids being the responsible ones, we will make our own world, it’s hopeful, A Scanner Darkly, Facebook is a drug, liking a Bernie tweet, little check-boxes, a long vacation away from man (then share it on Twitter), I was here at these sand dunes, Jesse is stingy with Twitter favourites, favourites are currency, bots, we live in a sick world, digitizing a human need, you can buy 7,000 followers for $50, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, you must!, TV satire commentary, the top video games of all time, the number one game was Twitter, they’re not as good as me, I’m better than you, keeping up with the Morrisons, the Morrisons had more stuff in their layout, their virtual television is at the shop, psychotherapy costs $10 an hour, spinners and squares, a 12 hour flight to New Zealand, 35 hours to New Zealand, Auckland, Helen Lowe in Christchurch.

The Days Of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick

The Days Of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick

DAW - The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch - illustration by Hannah Shapero

Haffmans - The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch

The Three Stigmata Of Plamer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Ron Walotsky

Perky Pat

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #370 – READALONG: The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #370 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
a terrible funny book, contemporary American politics, Jim Briskin, a bunch of stoners going out to dinner, political sophisticates, the ending, PKD is sick of his own story, precedents, Cantata 140, Johann Sebastian Bach’s When Sleepers Awake, H.G. Wells, seeing it from the wrong end, time travel, putting people into suspended animation, poor political intrigue, House Of Cards, what America is really about, racism and class, the cols and the jerries and the bib, why are they called bibs?, most bibs are cols, cols = coloureds (non-whites), jerries = geriatrics, Robert A. Heinlein, other themes, Dr. Futurity, two books smooshed together, that was a funny two books, other books on this theme, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, you can own an entire empty Earth, aliens come to visit, the sleepers, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, a sense of deep time, the beginning of this book, so racist, not as racist as it sounds, Herb Lackmore, get an abortion, a “wheel” is a car, more of a U.S. thing, the United States stands in for the entire Earth, an economics issue, other countries have had this problem in the past, England (the enclosures), they sent them to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, we don’t have that frontier, Dick nailed the economic problems of the early 21st century, a clunky 1960s novel, fun-house mirror prescience, seeing through a Scanner Darkly, white vs. black election, Trump supporters, C.L.E.A.N., the Tea Party, the KKK, super racist organization, interesting payoffs, the pekes (Peking man), sloping foreheads, racism vs. speciesism, and the moral of this story is…, Bill Smith walks into the room, even more hilarious, this whole incident will fade out of reality, whatever political scandal is happening this week…, nothing comes of it, how you gonna terraform Uranus?, a gigantic problem, what happens?, frustrating, but we love it, that mutant peke, even the space brothel comes back online, everybody hit the reset button, like a Star Trek episode, the Prominent Author by Philip K. Dick is entirely explained within The Crack In Space, a jiffy scuttler, Terran Development, Mary (again), “I’m thinking of writing a sequel”, a very funny joke, God is the most prominent author, an almost Jim Briskin, he was a “newsclown”, Stand-by, What Will We Do With Ragland Park?, interesting SFF audios, precognitive songs, weird, The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, a flaming red wig, the Philip K. Dick fan page notes, Ace Books changed the title, the title is a double-entrendre, “The Golden Door”, very American, they hate sex and they love it, where’s our flying taxi to take us to our brothel in space, a giant boob in space, bootleg organs, nothing came of that, Doctor Who, Revelation of the Daleks, consumer resistance, are you sure want to do this?, Vanilla Sky, Abres Los Ojos, the two political parties, the Liberal Republicans and the Conservative Socialists, possibly the worst book by Dick, not the book to start with, full of lots of ideas and humour, George Walt (the wind god), he’s a libertarian, see what you get, one long rambling set-up, you can’t live in this novel, Dr. Futurity, a valuable and valueless skill, bonkers, more repairmen, fewer presidents, The Simulacra, they’re all blending together, The Man Who Japed, Vulcan’s Hammer, The Cosmic Puppets, Solar Lottery, Eye In The Sky, these are the golden books, somehow they all got published, Now Wait For Last Year, a floppy fruit salad, he was attempting a trick, it didn’t work, wub fur pajamas, advertising on the doors, like Minority Report‘s ads (the movie), Mr American Buisness, my “golden door”, the Statue of Liberty’s poem:

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

that’s why, the abortion therapist wife, we’re supposed to empathize with the cols, if he had had another pass at this…, flying to the coast of the new world, a new Normandy invasion, how many D-Days, Neanderthal strivings are modest, The Long Earth by Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett (a sequel of sorts), Stephen Baxter doesn’t write comedy, if this is his worst it does not turn us off at all, clunky and malformed like the brow ridges on a peking man, a slight vacation from our own broken crazy world, the audiobook, the narrator made one character sound like Ronald Regan, Eric Dawe, a few jiggling boobs, almost no women, this novel doesn’t pass any tests.

Fantasy & Science Fiction, July 1964 - Cantata 140 by Philip K. Dick - illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick - Ace Books F-377

The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Chris Moore

Ace Books 12126 The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick

MAGNUM - The Crack In Space by Philip K. Dick

Cantata 140 by Philip K. Dick illustration by Emsh "Briskin For President"

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov

SFFaudio Review

Naked Sun by Isaac AsimovThe Naked Sun (Robots #2)
By Isaac Asimov; Read by William Dufris
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: July 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 hours, 41 minutes

Themes: / robots / colonization / science fiction / detective /

Publisher summary:

A millennium into the future, two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the Galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain.  On the beautiful Outer World planet of Solaria, a handful of human colonists lead a hermit-like existence, their every need attended to by their faithful robot servants. To this strange and provocative planet comes Detective Elijah Baley, sent from the streets of New York with his positronic partner, the robot R. Daneel Olivaw, to solve an incredible murder that has rocked Solaria to its foundations. The victim had been so reclusive that he appeared to his associates only through holographic projection. Yet someone had gotten close enough to bludgeon him to death while robots looked on.

What a shocker! I suspected the murderer but not the ending Asimov gave us. Wow.

The Naked Sun gives us a look at the mysterious Outer Worlds, first mentioned in The Caves of Steel. Solaria has never had a crime, due to their extremely privileged population served solely by robots who, of course, never commit crimes of passion. Lige Bailey finds this open, practically empty environment poses both the challenges of solving the mystery and of adapting his agoraphobic nature, thanks to a lifetime of living in underground cities on overpopulated Earth.

Asimov has fun looking at the sociological effects of a high-tech, low population world. I was fascinated by Asimov’s contrast of Elijah Bailey, used only to an overcrowded Earth, with the outworld Solarian society which had open space, eugenics, and many robots. There is no way Asimov could have foreseen our computer-oriented society today, but I found the Solarian society’s preference for “viewing” through screens rather than “seeing” in person to be a disturbing echo of what we ourselves seem to be moving toward.

I originally read this long ago and remembered a lot about the Solarian society but almost nothing about the mystery itself. Listening to William Dufris’ excellent narration, so long after my first reading, I found this a wonderful mystery. Dufris surpassed his performance in The Caves of Steel as he voiced a wide range of Solarian characters from sensuous to prim, blowhard to reserved, blustering to withdrawn. My favorite voices actually were the Solarian robots which were precisely what you’d expect, and which we hadn’t heard yet though several robots spoke in The Caves of Steel.

If you haven’t revisited this series lately I recommend it highly, especially this audio version which brings it to life in a fresh way.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

SFFaudio Review

cavesCaves of Steel (Robots #1)
By Isaac Asimov, read by William Dufris
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication date: 15 July 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 7 hours, 43 minutes

Listen to an excerpt: | MP3 |

Themes: / science fiction / robots / detectives / over-population / colonization /

Publisher summary:

A millennium into the future two advancements have altered the course of human history: the colonization of the galaxy and the creation of the positronic brain. Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels chronicle the unlikely partnership between a New York City detective and a humanoid robot who must learn to work together. Like most people left behind on an over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley had little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions.

“Like most people on the over-populated Earth, New York City police detective Elijah Baley has little love for either the arrogant Spacers or their robotic companions. But when a prominent Spacer is murdered under mysterious circumstances, Baley is ordered to help track down the killer. Then he learned that they had assigned him a partner: R. Daneel Olivaw. Worst of all was that the ” R” stood for robot.”

I originally read this book when I was a teenager and loved it from the beginning. Isaac Asimov’s descriptions of an overpopulated future Earth were de rigueur for science fiction of the time. What gave this story a fresh spin was that it was a bona fide mystery.

Many years later, listening to William Dufris’ splendid narration, it still holds up. I still remembered the main points of the mystery and detective Lige Bailey’s personality. This left me free to fully appreciate the details of Asimov’s imagined future society, complete with spacemen and robots to provide tension and interest.

I’m not sure if I completely forgot or just never registered the points Asimov was making in this book about technology, adaptation, and the human soul. I was quite surprised to see that Lige Bailey knew his Bible so well that he could quote it in either the King James version or the modern version. And that he used religion as a main point of differentiation (along with art, beauty, and other intangibles) between humans and robots. Atheist Isaac Asimov didn’t deny that faith can lift people higher and that is something one rarely, if ever, sees these days in science fiction.

I also was really interested in watching the way the germ of an idea took hold and was spread from person to person. It was fascinating to see how many things that idea applied to once it had wormed its way into the person’s consciousness.

All in all, this short but satisfying mystery is much richer than I recalled. It was greatly enhanced by the audio where William Dufris became a one man theater company in the way he voiced different characters. There was never any fear of my mistaking who was talking in straight exchanges of dialogue. He was simply masterful whether it was world-weary detective Bailey, slightly robotic Daneel Olivaw, jumpy Jessie, or the nervous Commissioner.

Highly recommended.

INTERESTING SIDE NOTE
Wikipedia notes:

It is a detective story and illustrates an idea Asimov advocated, that science fiction is a flavor that can be applied to any literary genre, rather than a limited genre itself. Specifically, in the book Asimov’s Mysteries, he states that he wrote the novel in response to the assertion by editor John W. Campbell that mystery and science fiction were incompatible genres. Campbell had said that the science fiction writer could invent “facts” in his imaginary future that the reader would not know. Asimov countered that there were rules implicit in the art of writing mysteries, and that the clues could be in the plot, even if they were not obvious, or were deliberately obfuscated.

All hail opinionated John Campbell and Isaac Asimov’s determination to prove him wrong. Today there are a lot of different mash-ups included in the science fiction genre and Asimov led the way with this book.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of Earthseed by Pamela Sargent

SFFaudio Review

Earthseed by Pamela Sargent Earthseed (The Seed Trilogy, #1)
Written by Pamela Sargent; Read by Amy Rubinate
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2011
ISBN: 9781455118335
Themes: / space colonies / adventure / science fiction / space /
Awards: AudioFile Earphones Award; ALA Best Books for Young Adults Selection, 1983

Publisher Summary:

Ship hurtles through space. Deep within its core it carries the seed of humankind. Launched by the people of a dying Earth over a century ago, its mission is to find a habitable world for the children—fifteen-year-old Zoheret and her shipmates—whom it has created from its genetic banks.

To Zoheret and her shipmates, Ship has been mother, father, and loving teacher, preparing them for their biggest challenge: to survive on their own, on an uninhabited planet, without Ship’s protection. Now that day is almost upon them, but are they ready? Ship devises a test, and suddenly instincts that have been latent for over a hundred years take over. Zoheret watches as friends become strangers—and enemies. Can Zoheret and her companions overcome the biggest obstacle to the survival of the human race—themselves?

It is understandable why this book is getting attention again, almost 30 years since it was written: it’s another YA book that is similar to The Hunger Games.

In Earthseed, the reader is introduced to Zoheret, one of many teenagers aboard a ship traveling through space. Zoheret, and her ship mates, were all “born” on the ship, created by the ship (known as “Ship”) from DNA samples of Ship’s creator. Ship was sent from Earth with samples (and programming) from “the last of humanity on Earth,” set with a mission to find another world where no intelligent life exists and “seed” the world with humans. Ship raised these kids (about 50ish in total) from birth, teaching them, fulfilling a parental role. We enter the story as the kids, now teens, are getting ready to spend time in the “holo” (I presume it’s “holo” and not “hollow,” either way, it’s a wilderness environment on-board the ship) to train for what it will be like on the surface of the planet.

At this point, I’m sure you’re thinking that some Lord of the Flies type story is going to happen (I know that’s what I thought), and in fact there are some parallels between Lord of the Flies and Earthseed. However, Sargent does a wonderful job of making the story engaging with some surprising twists and turns along the way. While listening, I felt myself making excuses to listen to more of the story, not wanting to stop. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that at the end, Ship’s residents find themselves making a life on the surface of the new planet and Ship goes off to seed another world.

I thought Amy Rubinate’s narration was superb. I normally don’t care for female narrators; usually they sound too dramatic for my taste. But Rubinate did a great job. I could always distinguish the voices of the characters, whether it was two females, two males, or a male and a female talking, and at no point did I feel like it was overdramatized. Also, the voice she used for Ship was a perfect matronly but somewhat robotic voice.

All three books in The Seed Trilogy are available in audio from Blackstone – Farseed (Book #2) and Seed Seeker (Book #3).

Review by terpkristin.