The SFFaudio Podcast #587 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Dream Of Debs by Jack London

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #587 – The Dream Of Debs by Jack London; read by KevinS for LibriVox. This is an unabridged reading of the story (47 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Will Emmons

Talked about on today’s show:
The International Socialist Review, January – February 1909, The Strength Of The Strong, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Masque Of The Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe, Mask vs. Masque, its both, The King In Yellow, jumps in the fireplace, the hunting story, Robert W. Chambers, cars breaking down, punctures, drivers, The Sketch 1910/1911, Lord Dunsany, made of tires, ads for cars, wheels and wings, touring cars, cars as a toy of the rich, what’s missing, why does the story play out the way it does, refrigeration technology, widescale refrigeration, ice deliveries, this particular general strike, not much talk about toilet paper, paper towels, pinecones, store shortages, Manhattan Clam Chowder, canned food, how achievable is a general strike, when Bernie loses the election and our revolution turns into a party, what had to happen for the ILW to accomplish a general strike, the story is silly, IWW, the Knights Of Labor, industrial unionism, a mythological quality for people in the labour movement, the 1880s railway strike, Indiana, they don’t teach this stuff in school, what was uncanny about this story, the majority of working age people had knowledge they were gonna strike, if it was happening today, organizations on Craigslist, there have been revolutions, the Arab Spring, governments are incompetent, our hero gets his information from a particular newspaper, in the offing, Vancouver 1918 general strike, the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike lasted six weeks, anti-conscription, why the fuck was the United States in WWI?, 2nd Lt. Mike Vendetti, the Vietnam War, makes you feel stuff, Jack London supported it, we’re very complex strange creatures, an economic explanation, insuring loans get paid, rationing until the mid-1950s in the UK, the last day of sugar rationing August 1953, what a difference a couple of years makes, our colony in Hawaii, how unrealistic is this story, a week?, if we suddenly had a general strike today, eat those six-months old pickles, dogs and cats, from the POV of a very wealthy man, a feudal lord, that last line, something needs to be done, ridiculously orderly, the army only killed a few people, the telegraph lines, an apocalypse in a comic book, the state is totally unable to respond, if the industrial unions accomplished some of their goals, 1930s strikes, why schools don’t talk about labour history, a functional history showing how thing change, how to change stuff, we cant rely on the newspapers owned by rich people, we have to have our own means of communicating, the people that own everything, how factory jobs became family sustaining jobs, the miners were striking, an actual history of the future, set just a couple of years ahead (at most), utopian writing, aspirational, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, one of the things that socialism is a story about how to make things better, how it could work, emphasizing the lawfulness, doing only a few illegal things, unprecedented!, immoral!, a fair game, he’s a dilettante journalist, he’s a blue check twitter, Anderson Cooper, a Vanderbilt, Journalism school, the billionaires who are his friends and relations, they don’t listen at the club, and that was the end of the general strike, worse than a war, Harrison is still my chauffeur, the tyranny of organized labor, neighbours houses burned to the ground, they haven’t overturned capitalism here, an inversion of another line, something must be done is the starting point, the tyranny of the plutocrats, immigrant labour, imprisonment, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, the New Democratic Party, Canada has a different culture than the USA (mostly to do with the relationship to government), Steve Cox hospital bill, Tommy Douglas, Keifer Sutherland, if you want to change to happen, why not any blue will do, eventually the guillotines will come out, a seminal strike 2 years after the Russian Revolution, this deal sucks, how do you scare the shit out of the government, the violence we see, forced to kiss the union jack, 30,000 workers on strike, stop all traffic, why we have that difference, Canada was not born with a different healthcare system, returning soldiers, the idea that soldiers love war, doofus men and boys, wargames, fight the Germans for reasons that did not make any sense, the title of this story, Winnipeg, Eugene V. Debs, Frankenstein’s subtitle, the anti-trust law made unions illegal, they’re using the laws designed to help them against them, that taught Debs a lesson, Victor Berger, I really like reading books so…, Karl Marx, a traveling evangelist for Marxism, evangelical Christianity, socialism, human beings are sacred, everybody has to come together, expropriate the parasites, overthrow the government and replace it with another kind of government, speaking out against WWI, this is all about securing the loans, I belong to the world, it’s disgusting, the Dixie Chicks, they’re heroes, Bill Maher, weird war rah rah madness, a hope for change, TV news clown, people wanted hope and change, they got 6 new wars, more neoliberalism, we know our country isn’t great, you don’t have to be a lunatic to see the appeal, people living under bridges, unless something weird happens with the red death: guaranteed Biden will lose, a return to normalcy is MAGA for white liberals, both are imaginary, Will has questions, the jingoism stuff, Jack London is one of the biggest American writer, the richest writer in the United States, he had the estate he was writing about, not since Mark Twain, this huge figure, a broke labourer, he started as a homeless guy, he was the poorest of the poor, a sincere socialist, a left a center and a right, how lazy the Italians who worked for him are, he had a crazy work ethic, drink you under the table, ride all day, laying bricks, boxing the shit out of people, a proletarian Lord Dunsany, gentleman’s club, what does it mean now?, the audience for this story, playful, The Iron Heel by Jack London, a future history, a very Jack London of Debs, August 2019, News From Nowhere by William Morris, Will Emmons: Boy Genius, a response to Bellamy, everyone lives the lifestyle of an artist, the arts and crafts guy, inspiring those who need inspiration, The Commonweal: The Official Journal Of The Socialist League, you control the means of publication, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the 8 hour day, ratchet down from there, everybody has three jobs now, Paul conveniently flees the country whenever we do a socialist book, the tyranny of human endurance, a 19th century sermon, religious non-conformists, seeing people oppressed for religious beliefs, Prairie Giant, current British Columbia government, the Canadian Labour (UK) party, parties change, the way Cornell West talks and thinks, he saw what Barack Obama did, those snake emojis, they believe she’s a snake (not a lizard person), he was stabbed in the back (in a certain sense), Nancy Pelosi has an endless supply of $600 silk scarves, the AUMF, a plan designed to fail, people can’t judge people, like the butler, Elizabeth Warren is an enemy not an ally, a narrow stratum of petite bourgeoisie, bourgeoisie the capitalist class (the owners of property), small in French, profit margins are lower, the most evil people in the world, squeeze super-exploited people, a position of class, the grocery store and warehouse workers, the proletariat (people who own nothing), debt peonage, the people who are told stay home (but can’t), wage slavery is a beyond the pale as a term, is this really like a choice?, communism, scientific socialism, once a certain number of people it becomes much easier for everyone to stop working, distancing yourself, the way Canada’s fucked up psychology works, until you get better we can’t get better, provinces have more authority than states do, a federal government, provincial responsibilities, equalization payments, provincial change, GST, Value Added Tax, the everyday feel, Social Credit, a Heinlein novel that deals with it, distance Paul, general strikes in antiquity, the secessio plebis, H.G. Wells’ Outline Of History, the plebeians invented strikes, Jesse is very proud of this fact, how the patricians and the plebeians had this relationship, the citizen’s assembly, a mean use, obey the laws you don’t know, 450 B.C., the laws of Rome were written, where that tribune of the plebs came from is because of a general strike, a religious exit from the city, ex-soldiers being treated like nothing, an untouchable representative, whoevers wrote it, when the South lost the war, W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction In America, some great saga, an inciting incident, Lincoln sort of freed the slaves, its not about race, race was a way of dividing people, divide and conquer, indentured servitude vs. slavery, to prevent making common cause, how these changes actually happened was not examined, we saw that it evolved, the teacher didn’t know how these evolutions came, the clarifying questions, slave revolts, patricians are plutocrats, why Julius Caesar was stabbed, I am your advocate, he is betraying his class, all his high school buddies stabbed Julius Caesar, maybe he’s just someone from the upper class, an inflated self-image, private soldiers, Sandline, Blackwater, Erik Prince, Dashiell Hammett, Ludlow, Colorado massacre, become a detective, the phenomenon of these people, gun thugs, a funny piece of history, the Pinkertons, were very concerned about the plebeians, subject to the law, the slum-dwellers, bread lines, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the outer party, that turn on stage, by not supporting her claim…, he doesn’t say a bad word about anybody, democratic socialists (rose twitter), cross class coalition, people in the streets, Bernie Sanders, Paul is a good person, Paul is in a position of Winston Smith, ready for rebellion, the ultimate betrayal, define betrayal, she didn’t endorse him, she didn’t drop out, you said to me a woman couldn’t be president, a naked political move, the anti-Christ, an aggressive political move, unprincipled, a non-aggression pact with everybody, a revelation of character, Bernie has no killer instinct, everybody is savable, you need to unilaterally disarm, using his personality defect, Joe Biden is responsible, the Iraq War, I wanna prostitute himself, is he gonna kill fewer people, a venal incompetence, a little afield, numbers of wars started, Trump has killed fewer people than Obama, a bad person and immoral, go for funny, Ronald Reagan, a comedy of the worst and last kind, if you looked at her policies, somebody needs to push this party to the left, the bedrock inherent conservationism, how many more homeless people will have to be out on the street?, old folks, crying wolf too much, social dangers, energizing the far right, Hillary Clinton ran to the right of Trump, militia people coming of the woodwork, an uptick in terrorism, the deep state is not gonna do anything about it, functional Nazis in US police department, I will work with anybody to get something done, scientifically that’s not true, guillotine 2020 is my compromise candidate, start with a strong position, the New Deal, the Depression was an existential threat, FDR was not conservatism, who owns the TV stations, who owns the newspapers, back to the slumdwellers, checking all Jesse’s privileged boxes, how science fiction relates to reality, Survivors, The Scarlet Plague, how to survive the plague that is upon us, Carriers (2009), so well organized, non-unionized workers and the unemployed, the lumpen proletariat (the criminal element), the reserve army of labour, structural unemployment, scabs, more oppressed, the first stratum organized, what he needs to win, amazing, the plebeians are aligned with the patricians against the slaves, guaranteed work, the mobility you see for Roman society for slaves vs. American society for slaves, capitalist slavery, a new nationality, the descendants, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Benjamin Disraeli, this story isn’t about race at all, very radical for the time, there’s no gender in this story either, German opposition to WWI, fake scientific notions about the races related to each other, H.P. Lovecraft wasn’t uniquely racist, the multinational character of the US working class, if Will is a child then Jesse and Paul are old men, the 19teens, as learned people, the second Red Scare was very successful, the turn, Uncle Joe Stalin, when you see US and Soviet soldiers embracing, some real united shit, the first Red Scare, massive state repression, vigilante violence, when the socialist disappear off the map, mayor of Burlington, Vermont, the farmer labour movement, the libertarian strain, a constitutionally different personality, going in the religious direction, official racism, genocidal settler nations, getting the slumdwellers in, the Communist Party was huge, organize the homeless, organize the sharecroppers, the geography of the United States, the ability to just move, extra lumpen, and Canada is a safety valve for the United States, poor and terrible, they beat up some rich people, its not discussed, a dream tweet:

Dreamt a lost sequence of 3 novels by Jack London. Each built-up an idea then the wiped the slate clean, the last ending in a scene in which the horrified protagonist–trapped in a maze built of bookshelves fights an infection by ultimately setting the labyrinth & himself alight

whips, there’s a shotgun shell incident, a lot less gun oriented, so crazily armed, a positive dream, you don’t want a massacre, Anderson Cooper reminds them, ways of looking at history, why people like watching hockey, Jesse doesn’t love Canada, a hard to understand phenomenon, every time the Canucks win a hockey tournament, the Stanley Cup riots, mass psychology, a way of understanding psychology enmass, reading the riot act, who is involved in sports riots, regular sports riots, college kids with parents who make more than $100,000 a year.

International Socialist Review, January 1909 - The Dream Of Debs by Jack London

International Socialist Review, February 1909 - The Dream Of Debs by Jack London

International Socialist Review, February 1909 - The Dream Of Debs by Jack London

International Socialist Review, February 1909 - The Dream Of Debs by Jack London

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #585 – READALONG: The King Of The Elves by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #585 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe talk about The King Of The Elves by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond Fantasy Fiction, September 1953, Jerome Bixby, Robert Bloch, John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Margaret St. Clair, Upon The Dull Earth, a sister magazine to Galaxy, a mirror universe to Astounding and their fantasy magazine: Unknown, 2017, a popular story, a rural fantasist, Expendable, the war against the ants, what makes that a fantasy, the birds can also talk, a psychology story, The Cosmic Puppets, spiders, The Hanging Stranger, pure horror, The Father Thing, a mental illness story, king of the trolls, a tragedy, he kills his best friend, a similar scene, an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers story, the stories being circular, the most horrific thing imaginable, maybe its an ad, every hand is against him, a metaphor for communism taking over, not believing in the Red Scare, the parallel, none of the elves have names, brought in and taken away on litters, the title works the same way, there are two hanging strangers and two kings of the elves, Philip K. Dick doesn’t start with “I’m going to write for a market”, working out ideas over space of thirty pages, compelled to do these things, exploding with ideas, this is my attempt to explore, exploring the psychology of other people and animals, Shadrach Jones, Irish names, Welsh names, Phineas Judd, Dan Green, a Colorado setting, Philip K. Dick was the king of the elves, a town full of men, no females in the story, how do the elves replicate?, binary fission?, The Hobbit, Larry Niven, their empire is diminished, the René Auberjonois narration, laughing, the economics of this story, how many people are like this in our world, his skin is dark, is Shadrach black?, the (aborted) Disney adaptation, ultimately deep down this is NOT a happy story at all, hard to find a Disney princess in this story, violating the whole premise, nature stuff, fairies, another layer of analysis, the way people treat Shadrach, I’m king of the elves, Texaco Gas or King Of The Elves Gas, if this was a real thing, a whole different kind of story, about the landscape of Colorado, men who don’t get married go crazy, lonely, set in their ways, an H.P. Lovecraft Dreamlands story done through the Philip K. Dick lens, Lord Dunsany, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, a delusion that ends in violence, bloody hands, H.L. Gold wanted a happy ending, a tacked on ending after the pagebreak, H.P. Lovecraft, The Rats In The Walls, the original ending, it was quite a battle wasn’t it, the real ending, the elves are Philip K. Dick’s cats, he’s got a bunch of cats, curled up on the carpet, cultivating this fantasy in his head, enough for one old man, magazines, some of the lore of elves, Ireland, watching for something to come, a strong opening,

IT WAS RAINING and getting dark. Sheets of water blew along the row of pumps at the edge of the filling station; the tree across the highway bent against the wind.

Shadrach Jones stood just inside the doorway of the little building, leaning against an oil drum. The door was open and gusts of rain blew in onto the wood floor.

he lights up a cigar,

“Darn,” he said. “What a night!” Rain buffeted him, wind blew at him. He looked up and down the highway, squinting. There were no cars in sight. He shook his head, locked up the gasoline pumps.

why is he tensing?, an epileptic fit, water running, white noise, patterns and shapes to be found, the information being generated, the reason he’s locked the door, anticipation as projection, how seeing works, philosophy, one is a pyramid and one is ball, seeing with hands vs. seeing with eyes, two tiny figures in the rain, limp and sodden, they might have worn brightly covered clothes, their swords are gold, dressed in gray, I’m the king of the elves and I’m wet, where the audience laughs, “forlornly, silently”, the Philip K. Dick trademark: a description and then two adverbs, we don’t notice how well written it is, glittering brightly, “honked thinly, impatiently”, “silently, grimly”, clients is the word we’re looking for, don’t use OVERUSE adverbs, Elmore Leonard’s style, said is transparent, its amazing, advice to stop amateur writers from overusing, its not about filling pages, isn’t this novel -> oh my god what am I reading?, sad mental illness, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the town and the time, a few days pass, he’s doing it for attention, he doesn’t think much of it, cars might come, quotidian concerns, spending time with mentally ill people, not actual, it throws you out, a boy who exhales carbon monoxide, monkey on a skateboard, his friend Phineas, come in for a coffee, go home and have a hot bath, why did this relationship sour so?, talking him down, how his ears and face and hands looked, back to perception, the change comes slowly (dementia), heavy and brutal, yellow and coarse like parchment, back to Evan’s hometown, seeing them differently for a moment, an actual psychological phenomenon, he sees them at night, they sleep in his bed, a solemn circle, a Philip K. Dick sentence, is the dead body still upstairs?, when you’re in a dream, generating library books, delusions are beliefs about the reality of the world, reality fills in better than brains can, building details are returnable to, not enough lore, nameless elf soldiers, a nameless elf king, the faces of the elf soldiers were serious and concerned, democracy, as our old king lay dying, very Philip K. Dick, important all right, he spoke the name, they don’t know his name, cats turning up and adopting a human, cats lording it over, Sugar Ridge, Route 20, the Endless Road, world building is not the issue, its a spontaneous delusion hinting itself into existence, the walk home and the rain, “I’m wet”, a super sad story, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Pop Richey, half name and half description, Lucky story, everybody is a leprechaun, a lot of hands in this story, great murderous shovel hands, shovel nails, above the filling station the sun shone high, Ford truck, a flivver later, what did you say, slender deft fingers, a giant earlobed horror, a faceless creature to be destroyed, level boss, if you’re going to kill somebody you don’t want to know their name, the transformation,

He restored his glasses to his nose and smoothed what remained of his hair into place.

his friendly neighbour, when the Moon sets, warming up, what festering resentment suddenly came forth, the insanity defense, a barrel stave, who had motive here?, there’s no motive here, black people being oppressed by white people in the United States, both of them had stones laid in front of their homes, the flat stone steps, unhappy and cold (just like him), the first of the flat stone steps, the old oak tree,

Shadrach went on up the steps, his lips pressed tight. When he reached the top of the stone steps, the last rays of sunlight had already faded. It was night.

the next time we see stones, his chest rose and fell painfully, reasons for shaking your head, the tacked on ending, his gas station vs. his home, so much about the landscape (and weather), near some trees, the Disney stuff, the isolation, the environment, the wind, the rain, out of the basement, the garage, The Builder, a PTSD story, Noah’s insane, the economics of this all, the interstate system, Robert Moses, destroying a community, thinking about the suburbs, the automobile, the changing landscape of America, Radiator Springs in Cars (2006), the Bates Motel, The Commuter, commentary on suburban sprawls, dark bent over things, a flood of dark creatures, the colour of Phineas’ skin, Shadrach In The Furnace by Robert Silverberg, Dying Inside, spending time with Philip K. Dick short stories is super rewarding, some of his novels are TRIUMPHS, short stories as polished gems of gorgeousness, the psychology of a man in his time, Puttering About In A Small Land, in the book of Daniel, three Jewish boys who refused to bow down, King Nebuchadnezzar, slightly different than our story here, Daniel’s wild, there’s no such thing as a false prophet, no boobs in this story, the Moon and the bleak sky, more coffee, a cup of hot chocolate, this coffee sure tastes good, human kipple, the leftovers of those who are not moving on to the west.

The King Of The Elves by Philip K. Dick from BEYOND Fantasy Fiction, September 1953

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #496 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #496 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, and Paul Weimer talk about new books, audiobooks, and audio drama.

Talked about on today’s show:
a full size show, paperbooks, audiobooks newly released, stacking on desks and shelves, books a week, piling up, send me stuff season, a tonne of books being published, everybody needs publicity, organized by publisher, St. Martin’s Press, advanced readers copy, Deep Silence by Jonathan Maberry, Joe Ledger, Julie Davis, mail it to Julie, Julie’s reviews on Goodreads, a prolific reviewer, Maze Master by Kathleen O’Neal Gear, techno-thriller, retro virus, Coldfall Wood by Steven Saville, Henre The Hunter, William Shakespeare, haunting the forest outside of Windsor Castle, how to organize, piles, too many to read, Shaun Duke, Tor.com, three novellas, Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Running Man (by Stephen King), The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark, The Black God’s Drums, The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, Irene Gallo, H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford, a novella, are they listening to my podcast, William Morrow, Ahab’s Return, Or The Last Voyage, the premise of Moby-Dick, The Coode Street Podcast, the best of the year so-far, All Systems Red by Martha Wells, Harper Voyager, Dragonshadow by Elle Katharine White, A Study In Honor by Claire O’Dell, near future SF, civil war, a great cover, 11 hours, a mystery, world-building, a series, Temper by Nicky Drayden, similar to South Africa, twins, 14 hours, evocative of the works of…, annoying Jesse, everything in the kitchen sink, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, And The Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee, 1,300 newly released audiobooks, when SFFaudio Podcast started, drowning in books both good and bad, moving product, no way to keep up, a podcast listener, Tantor Audio, Blackstone Audio, The Best Of Subterranean edited by William Shaffer, Ursula K. Le Guin’s collected short fiction, The Way Of The Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca, all-paladin-like, The Silver Scar by Betsy Dornbusch, Boulder, Colorado, post-apocalyptic Earth, The Tomorrow Factory, Pinnacle City, The Rising Moon, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts, The Things, The Island, Blindsight, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Who?, totally do-able, Planet Stories, March 1953 by William Tenn, Gardner F. Fox, Robert Moore Williams, Ross Rocklynne, Radio Archives, the height of the science fiction magazine era, the plateau, a great way to spend six hours, Archangel by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, audio drama, time travel, WWII, alternate future and past, Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead edited by Gordon Van Gelder, stories by K.G. Anderson, Richard Bowes, Elizabeth Bourne, Scott Bradfield, J.S. Breukelaar, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Becca Caccavo, Don D’Ammassa, Stephanie Feldman, Eric James Fullilove, Ron Goulart, Eileen Gunn, Leslie Howle, Matthew Hughes, Janis Ian, Michael Kandel, Thomas Kaufsek, Paul La Farge, Yoon Ha Lee, Michael Libling, Heather Lindsley, Lisa Mason, Barry N. Malzberg, David Marusek, Mary Anne Mohanraj, James Morrow, Ruth Nestvold, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Marguerite Reed, Robert Reed, Madeleine E. Robins, Jay Russell, Geoff Ryman, James Sallis, J.M. Sidorova, Brian Francis Slattery, Harry Turtledove, Deepak Unnikrishnan, TS Vale, Leo Vladimirsky, Ray Vukcevich, Ted White, Paul Witcover, N. Lee Wood, Jane Yolen, dystopia, A Choice Of Gods by Clifford D. Simak, a lot of Simak from Audible Studios, the central intelligence of the universe, Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton, John Lee, Tantor Audio, Tamahome, how do you write that much?, Neal Stephenson, this thing called the internet, when does he sleep?, children’s fantasy novels, in 25 years he’s written 15 (BIG) books, short stories too, a prodigious output, The HPLHS adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories are on Audible, CDs vs. props, separate props, the deluxe editions, printed ephemera, Tantor.com, Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, the full KSR experience, The Invincible by Stanisław Lem, everybody needs a little Lem, The Cyberiad, Dichronauts by Greg Egan, Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, Maissa Bessada, with a parasite, changing the laws of physics, not meant for audio, a very Greg Egan trick, review like mad, podcasts, Wooden Overcoats, a comedy on a Channel Island, rival funeral homes, narrated by a mouse, quite delightful, The Monster Hunters, a Marvel Comics audio drama, Wolverine: The Long Hunt, full of ads, is it worth it? tell Jesse, sort of X-Files-y, Serial Box podcast, worth a listen for horror fans,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #316 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #316 – The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick; read by Mike Vendetti. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 15 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Paul, and Mike.

Talked about on today’s show:
1954, The God Who Runs, bad titles, Next, Homo Aureus, The Man In The high Castle (TV series), hashtag marketing, an episode of The Twilight Zone, the film adaptation, Knowing, a working train-wreck, the main character has no sapience, autism, the diner scene, not just an exposition scene, the fake salesman, a lady with 8 boobs, shades of Total Recall, he’s looking for Jews, the secret police, the DCA are the secret police, the locals protect the mutant, Philip K. Dick:

“Here I am saying that mutants are dangerous to us ordinaries, a view which John W. Campbell, Jr. deplored. We were supposed to view them as our leaders. But I always felt uneasy as to how they would view us. I mean, maybe they wouldn’t want to lead us. Maybe from their super-evolved lofty level we wouldn’t seem worth leading. Anyhow, even if they agreed to lead us, I felt uneasy as where we would wind up going. It might have something to do with buildings marked SHOWERS but which really weren’t.”

what we did to the neanderthals, this is super X-Men, the John W. Campbell mutants vs. the Philip K. Dick mutants, House Of M, for those who are not Tamahome…, Spider-Man trying to “pass” as a mutant, the Scarlet Witch can re-write reality, to the beginnings of the superhuman genre, the origins of Superman, powerful superheroes are going to save us, Astounding -> Analog, John W. Campbell was obsesses with psychic powers being a science, mutation as evolution up, Slan by A.E. van Vogt, “fans are slans”, a lot of stuff going on, looking into the future, this so isn’t a movie, they just put a golden tint on the film-stock for Next, single word titles, Audible ratings, a story that is repulsive to everybody, we are the monsters, Audible’s return policy, Mike grew up in the Cold War era, Mutual Assured Destruction, no real external threat anymore, the Soviets have their own DCA, all the “deves” are getting “euthed”, Cris Johnson is the character’s name in the book and the movie, Dick was really interested in what happened in Nazi Germany, the atomic war caused all these mutations, the diner scene again, they’re everywhere!, the Johnson family seem to love Cris, he’s got the James Bond gene, women can’t resist, the unfaithful wives (and husbands), the crappy Wikipedia summary, can they sterilize everybody, they know this is the end, Cris can never be outmaneuvered, the whole last 40 minutes of Next didn’t happen, the movie does a good job of illustrating how Cris’ super-power would work, Groundhog Day, computer save gaming, because Cris can’t talk…, how we interact with NPCs in computer games is how Cris is interacting with everyone around him, we’re all sort of trapped like that, marketing it as a X-Men or superhero type story, imaging a dollhouse and all the different possibilities he could do, Philip K. Dick is Mr. Innovative, a chilling world that’s pretty much like ours, a very ’50s feel in terms of the country and random energy shields, the X-Men explanation for mutation (atomic bomb testing), The Crawlers by Philip K. Dick, the golden man is beautiful and the crawlers are ugly, the crawlers have their own agenda, they are not seen as human, Harlan Ellison, a mutant psionic, The Skull by Philip K. Dick, “we met the enemy and he is us”, the mutant theme has dried up in SF, Deus Irae, an armless and legless hero, Tibor McMasters, a huge sense of pathos, “how come people are such assholes”, The Turning Wheel by Philip K. Dick, White Man’s Burden, what if we would have lost the war (WWII)?, Cañon City, Colorado, Mike is the man in The Man In The high Castle again, Nazis vs. Imperial Japan, the American occupation of Japan, Two Dooms by C.M. Kornbluth, occultist, even more surreal than Dick, we’re number 1 and their number 10, the werewolves (post-war German resistance against occupation), going to the movies, after the atom bomb, you never saw the Hollywood movie where the Americans invade Russia (the reverse of Red Dawn), the ridiculous premise behind the remake of Red Dawn, North Korea, auto-immune disease, the acronym-itis that sinks the ship, government conspiracies, aliens, Mexicans are aliens?, what?, what would happen if the Americans left California, don’t spread that rumor, Pacific Edge, the California drought, Washington and Oregon, archetypical Dick, A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, to quote Solaris, Dick is wise, if humans go on as Cris Johnson, this is why people are upset that their kids are autistic, he is in a sense “superior”, ok you say you want a superior being… how do you like that John W. Campbell, he’s a golden god, the Steve McQueen of mutants, a swelling torrent of sheer force!, are they having sex?, cigarettes as symbols, explicit sex, a seduction, is she going to be the mother of dragons?, Genghis Khan style, Cris is unique (for now), dumb feral cubs, dominant or recessive, there is no hope, it won’t be us, grinning wryly, In The Mouth Of Madness, every species can smell its distinction, man will be a myth, one perfectly adapted animal, more of a threat to the men than it is to the women, Species, a female golden man, that’s why you have the mutants with the eight breasts, what do you think of that? what do ya make of this?, a litter of kids needs eight arms, turning people into animals, rats, subhumans, what do ya make of that?, he’s covered in fur, how does he put on pants?, he’s like a peacock, Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp, why peahens choose peacocks with the longest tails, peahens want their male offspring to be attractive to peahens, they’re going to breed us out of business, The Turning Wheel (again), racism, H.P. Lovecraft, it’s an act!, there are mutants all around them, he’s one thing in the restaurant he’s another to the cop, a super-secret agency that everybody knows about and talks about, every family is hiding a mutant, FBI agents infiltrating anarchists groups, ATF Operation Fearless, Kafka by way of Dick, the NRA, welcome to America, Anita, sexism, nobody is clean in this fight, Cris ruins the horseshoe game (by way of saying goodbye?), a repulsive attractive powerful story, Cris’ mom, Cris’ dad, how could this story have been adapted otherwise, a stupid plot, why do the French want to blow up Los Angeles?, the movie is a train-wreck and yet…, Juliane Moore’s character is a monster, she’s driven, strapped to the Clockwork Orange chair watching CNN, that’s burying the lead, the two minute rule, he’s got no past, you have to have a past to decide what you’re going to do in the future, his present is our future, the movie has lots of problems, what was the “next” card, domestic rendition, there are people, don’t ask this question, Cris doesn’t need to speak because speaking is for planning, he’s just an animal, you have to have a past to plan.

The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas ORIGINAL ART

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Discord’s Apple by Carrie Vaughn

SFFaudio Review

BRILLIANCE AUDIO - Discord's Apple by Carrie VaughnDiscord’s Apple
By Carrie Vaughn; Read by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: July 6, 2010
ISBN: 9781441876003
Sample |MP3|
Themes: / Fantasy / Magic / Gods / Family / Romance / Greek Mythology / Colorado / Terrorism / Arthurian Legend / Russia / Los Angeles / Immortality /

When Evie Walker goes home to spend time with her dying father, she discovers that his creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado, is not the only legacy she will inherit. Hidden behind the basement door is a secret and magical storeroom, a place where wondrous treasures from myth and legend are kept safe until they are needed again. Of course, this legacy is not without its costs: There are those who will give anything to find a way in. With the help of her father, a mysterious stranger named Alex, and some unexpected heroes, Evie must guard the storeroom against ancient and malicious forces, and protect both the past and the future even as the present unravels. Old heroes and notorious villains alike rise to fight on her side or to do their best to bring about her defeat. At stake is the fate of the world and the prevention of nothing less than the apocalypse.

Novels with alternating storylines, like Discord’s Apple, are probably easier to write than regular single plot novels. I’ve never come across one that defeated the main problem of such novels. It’s the problem of comparison. The present (alternate present) storyline in Discord’s Apple is far less compelling than those parts which are set during, and in the immediate years following, the Trojan War. By disc three it had become abundantly clear that the two storylines would meet up – and that the more interesting part of the book would be subsumed by the lesser. But, as the novel progressed MORE storylines were added and none of them were very promising. First there was The Eagle Eye Commandos story, the story of a set of G.I. Joe knock-offs that are, we are told, ‘the most popular comic book series in the USA.’ That storyline is told in a third person ominscient POV, as if were’ reading over Evie’s shoulder while she writes it on her laptop. That’s a big problem. I’ve seen scripts for comic books. They look nothing like what Evie writes for her artist collaborator – she’s writing standard prose, not a comics script, the artist would have to adapt what Evie wrote and dumping most of it. Then, just to confuse things just a little more, we get an out of nowhere historical Walker family storyline. It goes nowhere. Then, another short lived storyline will pop up for a chapter, then disappear, never to be heard from again. By disc five, these trends, along with many other warning signs, had cast a dread pall over my hopes for the novel’s conclusion.

It is never good when an author shows contempt for her story or for her readers. Carrie Vaughn is guilty of both of these authorial sins. As was pointed out in detail on Charlie Stross’ blog even the opening scene of Discord’s Apple is a mess. It is, of course, described (not shown) and features the destruction of “The Kremlin” by an Cessna full of kerosene:

He made a noise like a deflating balloon. “The Kremlin’s been bombed. Obliterated. A Cessna filled with drums of kerosene rammed it. They’re thinking it’s Mongolian rebels.”

She took a moment to register that he was talking about current events and not a plot point in their comic book. “Then our May storyline is out the window.”

The Eagle Eye Commandos couldn’t raid the building complex if it wasn’t there. She should have seen this one coming.

“Yeah. Unless we can put some kind of ‘how things might have been’ spin on it.”

Uh …. no. How could she have seen this coming? That whole passage should stop you in your tracks. Let me lay it out for you:

1. The biggest Cessna ever built carries no more than a dozen passengers and crew, the Cessna brand, moreover, is widely known to be a small aircraft manufacturer, with pretty much every single model ever built measuring far less than the 16 meters of their very largest passenger jet.

2. The Kremlin, meanwhile, is a massive fortress without one central structure. It measures a vast 68 acres and yet this plane full of drums of kerosene “obliterated” it. I would be very much surprised to learn that even the worlds biggest aircraft could completely destroy the Kremlin with any number of drums of Kerosene stuffed into it. Consider this, even with a maximum capacity of 27,276 liters the largest water bomber in the world, the Martin Mars, world only be able to drench four acres in a single pass. At that rate it would require no less than sixteen passes to completely cover the Kremlin with Kerosene – and that would assume that every pass had no overlaps.

3. Worse, why would “Mongolian rebels”, of all rebels, attack the Kremlin? That makes absolutely no sense at all. Russia and Mongolia have essentially been staunch allies for the last five hundred years. Russia never annexed Mongloia, doesn’t claim any part of it as a part of Russia, and didn’t even incorporate it into the Soviet Union. This is an absolutely monumental gaff – as backward as expecting the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City to be attacked by Quebec separatists.

And she should have ‘seen it coming’?

Other signs of contempt for the reader litter the novel. At one point the main character, a comic book writer, notes that the events that have just happened to her seemed unbelievably “overwrought” – after which she makes a point of filing them away for future use as a plot twist in her comic book series. She wants to add an unbelievable and overworked event to her own writing … what is a reader supposed to takeaway from that other than Vaughn is pissing on our shoes? Is she thumbing her nose at comics?

More stumbling blocks – as the “terrorism” in Russia continues we’re told that trainyards and shipyards are the targets. Yeah …. no …. that doesn’t sound like terrorism – it sounds like war. Terrorism is violence intended to foster terror. Blowing up a shipyard, attacking a citadel, derailing a train – that all is far more targeted than than strategic bombing of Europe in WWII. Carrie Vaughn seems blissfully ignorant of the meaning and import of the word “terrorism.”

But it doesn’t stop there! Vaughn has her central character, a rough analogue for herself, say that the Trojan Horse was the “car bomb” of its day. After hearing that I was figuratively shaking my head for about an hour.

That character, Evie Walker, then does some stunt driving while being chased by a herd of coyotes. In so doing she executes something she calls a “Hollywood turn.” … What I assume that Vaughn was actually referring to is, in fact, called either a Rockford or Moonshiner’s or J-Turn (and never a “Hollywood turn”).

Evie Walker also casually mentions that a drive through Los Angeles requires multiple stops and searches – adding hours to a commute. But it doesn’t end there, even the small town in Colorado, as depicted in Discord’s Apple, exist under a draconian police state. A drive through the city center means a warrant-less search of your vehicle and a questioning by police. There’s also food rationing. It isn’t explained, none of it. That’s shocking and interesting stuff and yet it has absolutely no follow up in the book whatsoever. Evie Walker doesn’t seem alarmed by it, finds it mildly annoying (and maybe even comforting), but she doesn’t mention it as being particularly shocking or even attempt to explain why it isn’t. What the fuck?

At first I thought maybe that my problems with Discord’s Apple were the same kinds of problems I had with Catherine Asaro’s Sunrise Alley |READ OUR REVIEW|. I thought that maybe Carrie Vaughn’s focus and interest just wasn’t on the stuff I care about: ideas, attention to detail, and the surprising (but logical) consequences to those ideas and details. But upon further consideration I don’t think that’s true. Vaughn’s writing technique for Discord’s Apple consisted of remixing her Sinon fan-fiction with events in her own life, filtered through a magical grab bag of other mythology and politics that she is only very dimly interested in. A few aspects of this novel could have worked had they been more focused and perhaps less slap-dashed together. Was she writing on a tight deadline? Couldn’t she do some revision? I don’t know.

The return of King Arthur (and Merlin) – ok why not? Sadly, this epic pair seem to be merely active mannequins in Discord’s Apple – their presence may have initially been to offer a possible rival love interest for the protagonist, but that doesn’t even come close to ripening. What about that artist penciler/inker partner on the comic book Evie Walker is writing? Oh him? Apparently he’s there solely to give Walker someone to talk to, setup the novel’s unpaid off premise. He just dries up and blows away.

What about that mysterious new dog, Queen Mab, that Evie’s father has? You know, the one with more emotion, knowledge and expression than all the rest of the characters in the novel? Oh that? It’s just what Vaughn would call her “Wash” techniques – something designed to manipulate the audience’s expectations. Consider me manipulated.

It is terrible.

The best part of the novel, the part that is actually alright – good even – the part that Vaughn wrote with passion and attention: That’s Sinon’s story. The rest, set in Evie’s time (or whenever else Vaughn went with the roving POV) is full of characters that are only minimally purposeful. Their goals are only strong enough to push them onto the stage, not strong enough to explain what they’re doing there or explain why they skulk-offstage when someone else is talking.

Or to put it another way – if this novel was a piece of clothing it would be a sweater. But unfortunately it’d be the kind of sweater that started out as a smart-looking and comfortable scarf and has now has been inexplicably knit-into an unwieldy sweater/dress/hat garment with a dozen fist sized holes in it. This sweater may be somewhat fashionable in some parts of the book store sweater store. Maybe it’ll be popular with the talented readers who don’t have time to think about what they’re reading. But for a Science Fiction reader, like me, who tries on a book sweater thinking it will be a garment with a particular purpose in mind, well he may find that every string of that sweater’s yarn wants to unravel. Or to put it in Carrie Vaughn style terms:

It’d be like the arrival of the president of the radical monarchist league (driving an Austin-Healey Bug Eyed Sprite with 17 liters of re-fried beans in the glove compartment) to an Outer Limits cast reunion party in Ruritania. Yep. It’s going to mess-up President Al Franken’s America in many magically unproductive ways! I should have seen it coming.

The shame of it is that Vaughn’s probably could write a lot better than Discord’s Apple. What works in the novel works well. Over on John Scalzi’s blog Vaughn wrote:

I have more ideas than I will ever be able to write in my lifetime. One of my solutions to this dilemma is to put as many ideas in a book as I can manage. The more disparate the better, because finding connections between seemingly unrelated ideas can make for great stories.

In a grad school Latin course, I translated bits of the Aeneid and fell in love with Sinon. He’s the Greek spy left behind to talk the Trojans into bringing the horse into the city. He’s brash, clever, and really awesome. So I committed a very long piece of fanfic telling what happened to Sinon after the war — he was kidnapped by a very pissed-off Apollo, made a slave, granted immortality so he’d be a slave forever, and. . .well. You’ll just have to read about it, because his story is the second part of Discord’s Apple, in which we learn that the Trojan War never really ended. (It all fits together, honest.)

At first, I didn’t know quite what to do with this very long piece of fanfic. I got to thinking about the nature of epic literature in general, and I decided that Sinon’s story needed to be part of Evie’s story. You see, “Evie returns home to discover an amazing heritage” is just an idea. But Evie and Sinon meeting each other, the chaotic events surrounding that meeting, and the fact that the goddess Hera still wants to get her hands on that apple – that’s a story.

Throw in King Arthur and my deep and irrational fondness for 1980′s GI Joe comics and what I ended up with was a novel about family, storytelling, history, and war and how they get tangled together.

This right here is the whole problem. Ideas are what stories should be about. But what Vaughn doesn’t realize is that not all ideas are gold. Not all ideas should include everything you think to include, not all of them fit together. A book about a comic book writer living in a Alternate Present USA police state? That sounds really cool. A book about King Arthur returning? That could be cool. A book about a woman who returns home to take care of her dying father only to discover that every magical artifact from history is in the basement? COOL! All together it is a mess.

Vaughn’s not short of ideas, not even short of good ideas. She’s short of a filter, an editor. Vaughn needs to have someone really critiquing the shit out of her ideas, really making the novel focused. Vaughn is a huge Sinon of Ithaca fan, and with the parts of this book set during and after the Trojan War she has made me one too. The market may not be clamoring for fiction rooted wholly in Greek Mythology, or for a book about a comic book writer living in an alternate USA, but I am. What I’m not clamoring for is a novel about all of those things in one.

The audio production itself is faultless. Discord’s Apple is a two narrator production with the vast majority of the reading is by Angela Dawe. Dawe performs everything except for the Bronze Age storyline which is delivered by Luke Daniels. Both Dawe’s and Daniels pronunciation and delivery are flawless.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #097 – READALONG: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #097 – Scott and Jesse talk with Luke Burrage about about two short stories: The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges |ETEXT| and Fair Game by Philip K. Dick |ETEXT|. The audiobook edition of The Garden Of Forking Paths can be found in the Penguin Audio audiobook Jorge Luis Borges: Collected Fictions.

Talked about on today’s show:
The virtues of short stories, metafiction, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, If magazine, Anthony Boucher, The Garden Of Forking Paths, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, espionage, fantasy, alternate history, WWI, “start the scene as close to the action as possible”, labyrinth, recursion, the Wikipedia entry on The Garden Of Forking Paths, choose your own adventure, parallel worlds, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the Necronomicon, H.P. Lovecraft, “The Garden of Forking Paths is an incomplete, but not false, image of the universe as Ts’ui Pên conceived it.”, why doesn’t Luke review short stories on SFBRP?, Eifelheim by Michael Flynn |READ OUR REVIEW|, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang, Gene Wolfe, The Book Of The New Sun, Labyrinths: Selected Stories And Other Writings by Jorge Louis Borges, A Solar Labyrinth by Gene Wolfe, “dense as in wonderfully deep”, Penguin Audio, Collected Fictions by Jorge Louis Borges, how are Fair Game and The Garden Of Forking Paths connected?, “how you read a story matters to your understanding of a story”, Professor Anthony Douglas, “An immense eye gazed into the room, studying him.”, The Twilight Zone, “The damn thing was looking at me. It was me it was studying.” Douglas’s voice rose hysterically. “How do you think I feel — scrutinized by an eye as big as a piano! My God, if I weren’t so well integrated, I’d be out of my mind!”, Colorado, “we are the face in the sky staring down at this paper”, physics, the observer effect, the wave function collapses, Schrödinger’s cat,

“What is Doug? About the best nuclear physicist in the world. Working on top-secret projects in nuclear fission. Advanced research. The Government is underwriting everything Bryant College is doing because Douglas is here.”

“So?”

“They want him because of his ability. Because he knows things. Because of their size-relationship to this universe, they can subject our lives to as careful a scrutiny as we maintain in the biology labs of — well, of a culture of Sarcina Pulmonum. But that doesn’t mean they’re culturally advanced over us.”

“Of course!” Pete Berg exclaimed. “They want Doug for his knowledge. They want to pirate him off and make use of his mind for their own cultures.”

“Parasites!” Jean gasped. “They must have always depended on us. Don’t you see? Men in the past who have disappeared, spirited off by these creatures.” She shivered. “They probably regard us as some sort of testing ground, where techniques and knowledge are painfully developed — for their benefit.”

big brother, 1984, “money and sex and food”, To Serve Man by Damon Knight, Fredric Brown, Space by James A. Michener, Apollo 18, payoff first – ironic twist next, Dick vs. Borges, is Dick cynical?, mountains and religion, the atmosphere is an ocean of air around the Earth, “Colorado is the shallows in the Earth.”, what does ample mean?, science fiction, “Ts’ui Pên was a brilliant novelist, but he was also a man of letters who doubtless did not consider himself a mere novelist.”, is Dick taking the piss?, high-minded Science Fiction, what is the significance of the title Fair Game?, this is not a podcast for people aren’t going to read the books, “I think Philip K. Dick bases all of his stories on his own life.”, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick, Luke’s novels, is Luke as clever as PKD and Borges?

Looks like it was inspired by Fair Game by Philip K. Dick

Burrage:

Posted by Jesse Willis