The SFFaudio Podcast #579 – The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake; read by Winston Tharp (for LibriVox.org). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (38 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada
Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, October 1961, a very good issue, Cordwainer Smith, Frederik Pohl, Fritz Leiber, Frank Herbert, Robert Bloch, Jack Sharkey, Willy Ley, a lot of engineering and planning, I love Westlake’s writing so much, reach out and kiss you, the first paragraph, that put the roof on the city, Eric S. Rabkin, “transformed language”, transforming an idiom for a science fiction setting, the opposite of Poe or Lovecraft, ornate, dense, oblique, frothy, characterization, perfect voice for it, he was dangerously insane, including my date with my girl, a post-apocalyptic dystopia that ends on a very sour note (for the reader), a nice trick he pulled, he gets over it very easily, cleavage girls, contract marriages, no-p (no progeny), p and not p, natural deductive and axiomatic logic, math for sentences and paragraphs, useless and yet…, an underlying current that’s rather deep, Philip K. Dick, The Penultimate Truth, The Defenders, leadies vs. ore-sleds, a retelling of the myth of the cave from Plato’s Republic, a metaphor for having conversations with people, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the mentality of the people, The Ax by Donald Westlake, a very funny sad scary book, very political, it wouldn’t have felt political at the time, artifacts, the massive trope or overpopulation, arcology, a condo, the projects, the justification for why would be reading a crime novel, he quit science fiction, Xero (magazine), very true of most science fiction writers, Joe Haldeman cant make a living at it, a sad reality of the industry, solid ideas, from a very different angle, Wool by Hugh Howey, mainstream science fiction with this wonderful aspect, Robert Sheckley, he’s poking fun at everything all along the way, delights in enjoying how ridiculous life is, makes kids enjoy science fiction, a great infodump on page 183, it flows just beautiful, a nation 200 hundred stories high, occasional spies, external dangerous lurking at the back of our minds, the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war, irony and humour, treated to such flowy goodness, the whole story’s greatness, you could make this as a student film, three or four actors, so good, an efficeny of science fiction, a real shame he quit science fiction, Doctor Killybilly, William = strength and protector, why did they do this?, our judo flipping instructor, where the outside is unknown and secretly not bad, Logan’s Run, the Fallout games, High-Rise by J.G. Ballard, The Luckiest Man In Denv by C.M. Kornbluth, why are the Russian oligarchs so much work than the Bloomberg oligarchs, can it be explained, circular, imaginary enemies, WWI (the ignoble nobleman’s war), The Westlake Review blog, WWII (the racial non-racial war), WWIII (the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war), tactical nuclear weapons, MacArthur, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, good strategy, your focus narrows, situational awareness, tunnel vision, engaged with a twitter thread, this happens to countries (not just people), they found his car, the army men, kind of incompetent, aiming the elevator at the army, starve-em-out, Edmund Rice, the right focus, his apartment is falling apart, the window doesn’t work, his single egg, rationing, chicory coffee, he cant imagine a different life, at the bottom of the apartment building, slag, it dumping of their ore car slag, piling up, if this goes on they will be buried, Idiocracy (2006), Javelin missiles sent to Ukraine, attacking Trump from the right (instead of the left), making more nukes?, if we have WWIII it will be stupid, howitzer line of sight nukes, they did it on purpose, somebody is lying, West End Games’ RPG Paranoia, it’s cool to think about, page 193, terror, horror, dizziness, do you see that green?, the power of suggestion, agoraphobia, The Caves Of Steel, his girlfriend, so obsessively worried about punctuality, PTSD, ore-sleds are just like people?, they have so little, they focus on the tiniest things, get Jesse hiking more, kidnap victims, Stockholm Syndrome for a whole nation, he’s like Canada, the sky isn’t falling, he’s a humanitarian, a dangerous criminal, an illegal immigrant, he puts us in the situation right with the guy, page 179, that horrible egg, gaspingly transparent window, its better to look inward, a whimsical approach, a romantic approach, I can’t live without you at the moment, will you be provisionally mine?, I’m going to be needing a wife for at least a year or two, I moved like a whirlwind, that was wrestling, that was judo, that was karate, he just killed the guy who was trying to help him, Paul plugs a book: Mazes Of Power by Juliette Wade, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, three extra zeros, advertising for coffins, a prospector wanders out of the New Mexican desert, humans are complete asses, under the roof, she refused at length and descriptively, any number of girls, I was a hero, they even gave me a medal, not licensed for progeny, this is our reality, living in bubbles, elaborate defenses, that’s what this is really good at, what’s going in the sixties, what its for, its about the psychology of our own human silliness, delightfully frothy, that first giant step, man got a hotfoot, he ran back with the tale between his legs, Neil Armstrong, images of flame, page 189, you’ve crawled into your caves, a well appointed cave, Outside, the same thing, always the same stupidity, the long slow painful creep of progress, a lot longer than it took to go right back into the cave again, how long people had without useful technologies, the cave is a metaphor for your set of beliefs, cut out the information coming from the outside, he wants to eat the fake news, he’s blocking people on twitter, you’re cancelled, cancer culture, once you start blocking…, he thinks what he hears in the building, what the army tells them, radiation proof cars, why should we?, don’t you ever wanna look at that guy’s voting record?, cutting off, dis-empowering yourself, you’re walking into the slaughterhouse, don’t listen to him, feels like there’s very little here, just another science fiction story, substantial power, if it were novel length, that experience, The Defenders is the same story from another point of view, City Of Endless Night by Milo Hastings, eggs, don’t shill for Instant Pot until they sponsor the podcast, the free range ones, orange yolks, you can taste the difference, a sad thought, that’s your allotment, the staircase, using the staircase is a transgressive act, do you need a stairway in a mausoleum, by 2000 everybody lived in projects, his grandparents?, three generations?, distorted stories, the history lesson, the old folks home, genetically unsuitable, what makes him unsuitable?, do you want to breed smarter people, suggested by the story but not in the story, we see two of them, the number of actors you need: two guys and a lady who comes in on skype, a tight dystopia, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, co-opted, Westlake was a Manhattanite, New York as a horizontal arcology, the El or the subway, you can walk three blocks, rush hour, you have ruined my life, the spy is a little more reliable, bad for you, a monster behind that dumpster, the big Donald Westlake hits, The Risk Profession, LibriVox, space insurance, the two sides of Westlake, oh man, situational jokeyness, the Dortmunder books, The Hook, Memory, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust’s Money Shot, like Kill Bill, Hard Case Crime, at least sixty novels, Anarchaos, a very slim volume, so many good books, Somebody Owes Me Money, a crime syndicate, wherever he takes you on a journey, still fun, he still makes it work somehow, so funny with his characterization, Greg Bear is the opposite of Donald Westlake, we build the whole thing, you don’t leave him for a second, the way Shakespeare was gifted, a massive loss for Science Fiction, Smoke, endlessly silly ideas beautifully demonstrated, how many movies are made out of Westlake’s stuff, foreign homages, 41 credits as a writer, The Hot Rock, The Grifters, Payback, Jimmy The Kid, Diff’rent Strokes, A Slight Case Of Murder, James Cromwell as the detective, Cops And Robbers, Point Blank, Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, he’s king of like Stephen King, Stephen King loves Westlake, Richard Bachman is named after Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Magnum, P.I., a crisp clear writer, Lawrence Block, fifteen years of great reading.
Talked about on today’s show:
a panel on the New Wave, reading the New Wave, stuck in Jesse’s craw, against movements, cyberpunk, that one William Gibson book, steampunk, as it was happening, H.L. Gold, Galaxy Magazine, John W. Campbell, Analog, not that, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, the label science fiction or fantasy, a reaction, quite impressed, really casual, the way it is written, the plot is pathetic, so meta, SF Impulse, mathematically wrong, 10,000 years from now, 1,000 years, the year 3,000, he’s describing 2019 or 1966, he met a girl and took her phone number, copyright 1966 by Rogue Magazine, a sub-Playboy, all the meta-stuff, just I guy who likes boobs, the whole thing is about sex, a direct injection of ideas, a little red convertible, how angrily you recoil from the page, who wants to read about a pair of queers, so innovative, transgender folks that are pronouns that aren’t male or female, the 1980s, born in 1919, sums up all of the issues we won’t care about, just getting used to the idea, 2012 review, what makes it feel old and dated, dude-bro, the dude-bros are back, the dude-bro phenomenon, click around on YouTube, all sorts of people, anti-gay sentiment from totally gay, women are all about peace, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney’s daughter, this dude whose reading a girlie magazine, interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1981, trending, a phenomenon, the last hurrah, the narrator is criticizing you, everytime there’s an objection, on this way I want to tell you about, a boy a girl and a love-story, none of it is true, undercuts, 137 years old, not a girl, the urge to rape and the urge to submit, psychology, a pedagogical lesson in what SF is, poignant sentiment, it sounds sarcastic and full of cliches, beginning with a hyperbole, just before the singularity, present day concerns, silly requirements long since left behind, the end, Spider Robinson’s podcast on this story, permission to read, what very well may be the ultimate science fiction short story, a lot of competition, edging out a lot of the competitors, more interesting, an introduction to science fiction, Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction 101, a terrible story
And you—with your aftershave lotion and your little red car, pushing papers across a desk all day and chasing tail all night—tell me, just how the hell do you think you would look to Tiglath-Pileser, say, or Attila the Hun?
boom, he dropped the mic, and walked away saying “I just showed you what science fiction is, yo.”, whisky, shaving everyday, everybody’s all beardy, ride horses and subdue cities, a man sits behind a desk, he bbqs stakes in the back yard, that is fucking weird, some of it is preposterous, the most normal stuff, VR stuff, personality copying, prosthetics, cavities filled, rude parts removed, organs, a new wave retelling of Scanners Live In Vain, Pohl fell in love with Cordwainer Smith, stacking up the famous science fiction writers, eventually you would get to Pohl, he was there the whole time, the opposite of Campbell’s movement, writing and editing magazines, he didn’t do the Moon Landing, with Cyril Kornbluth he wrote The Space Merchants, the Senator from Proctor And Gable, a book for millennials, sleeping on the stairs, near death of capitalism, a near singularity story, Don and his voyages, circled Alpha Centuri, agricultural implements, 10,000 planets, but you don’t care about that either, its people who make stories, making a concession, science fiction has no real characters or character development, full of circumstances, he’s mocking the reader, double meta reverse irony, you think I’m crazy, that part is boring, it doesn’t deliver what the readers want, oh my god, he’s right!, you don’t understand your place, there just different, offhand comments, you might be thinking about, they didn’t care, Dora is a dancer, the audience doesn’t care, you can’t make babies with her, that’s not natural, he responds to every dude-bro idea, “No”, I still don’t like it, Jesse’s two personalities, natural is good bullshit, everything is difference and everything is change, the smell of peanut butter, that she’s got a pelt, lives under the sea, gills, zero-g dancer, capable of deploying more energy that Portugal in a year, she doesnt sweat in the normal way, she’s up to peanut butter, musky honey, she’s more like a beaver or an otter, a platypus, he’s cranching all the time, getting his legs renewed, only the brain feels, the top tier of the middle class, the ads, an MG roadster, tennis rackets, cigars, cars, turtlenecks, a men’s fashion magazine, even the title, he gets about, a naughty wink wink, an aspirational lifestyle magazine, a tame rascal, Dude, Where’s My Car?, The Hangover, hipsters WWII veterans, the many many anthology, Worlds Of Wonder, not for an audience that’s familiar with SF, for the thinking man who has boobs, the cover illustration for SF Impulse, a human female near the horizon, are you guys seeing what I’m seeing, those calypgean hips = nice ass, she has a tail, not literally childbearing, Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein, conceived earlier and decanted later, birthing technology, plausibility, you can’t gill people up anytime soon, beyond the singularity for Jesse, birth control pills changed things a real fuckton, PROFOUND EFFECTS upon everything, thinking about science fiction as NOT about rocketships going to planets, incredibly valuable, its not supposed to be hard SF, an interesting shift, we could have sex for fun, how is this going to go, Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside, a mid-life crisis book, lets dwell with this idea, quite an interesting book, it feels like mainstream fiction, what effect would that have?, he can do whatever he wants, like a crutch…, there’s one person who had a cellphone that’s connected to the internet we have but his battery is getting weaker and weaker, you don’t know how to fix it, imagine you had that superpower for 40 years, and that’s science fiction, everything you know that you think is normal I’m cutting away, all the ground falls out from under you, more Buck Rogery style of story, nobody was writing it at that time, but it was translating into film, once you need Day Million in 1985…, a secret sin, science fiction as the literature of cognitive estrangement, it is but not what you expect, the tears and poignant sentiment, it made her feel sad, intensity of emotion, just their memories of each other, they’re not really human anymore, maybe dying earth, the death of humanity, post-human stories, I don’t get you, a couple texting, c u next time, being unable to understand, an ant on Jesse’s kitchen floor doesn’t know what Jesse’s doing in the next room, magnitude, an ant can’t understand a flea, singularities cropping, we’re not supposed to be able to understand, when the curve suddenly changes direction, artificial intelligence, deciding to give up peanut butter, record it for LibriVox, The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, what the people who were talking, Mankind consisted of 128 people, so vast a horde, sometime ago Earth was invaded by aliens, vast their huge their massive, humans as rats in walls of aliens houses, that change of magnitude, not only in time, an incommunicable difference, Virgil Finlay illustrations, dude, podcast, that’s the one, we can do that then, Of Men And Monsters, even if you’re the only thing in the universe, copies copulating with other copies, they need to meet each other, they met at the encoding room and they blushed, do they have to do it to tape it, making a digital copy of themselves, kids today, looking at their phones lovingly, all that sensory detail with them, they have friends too, passion of kiss in symbolic mathematical form, a residue of flesh or body, supercomputer tinder, when they lived in Seattle with a bunch of friends and dating with OK Cupid, a traditional Hollywood Meet Cute, oh shit vs oh hell, the exhibition has an open fly, balls you say vs rats you say, everything is virtual, dose of fleshiness, masterfully put together, Jesse feels to privileged, that wasn’t universally true, a story from Weird Tales called Pity Me! by Bertha Russell, in 1928, an old man who gets his jollies from having sex with dead bodies, she came back to life, how could this be?, this does not fit, 1920s flappers, great grandma and great grandpa were swingers, “problematic”, losing their jobs, they published that?, have you met a 15 year old, no matter where you go you find humans in time, comforting, they’re just like us but their circumstances are different, that big gap, what the publishing industry is putting out, whatever I’ve been reading recently will inform the plots, whatever you put in you’ll get out, if you only prime yourself science fiction novels you’ll get science fiction novels, read widely, watching science fiction TV and want to write a novel, new drafts coming in, the camera is panning in around things, a new phenomenon too, comics that are written as adaptation to Netflix, the art’s good, designed to be adapted as a Netflix series, what’s new this week, so many show there is no way to keep track, you could never catch up, feeding that hunger mill, all the competition for Netflix is starting this month and next and next year , 40 other shows to buy that day, sometimes that works, give me your most innovative story, he was editor of Galaxy and If: Worlds On Science Fiction, playing to the market, being terrible, they say Netflix on the side, a mill aspect, what the reaction of the New Wave is against, Algis Budrys, regular science fiction of the 30s and 40s and 50s, a monetary currency that had been debased, a bunch of tropes that were all worn out, telepathy, Ray Bradbury would use that same vocabulary and do his own thing with it, Heinleinian style Asimovian stlye, more internal, one human being failing, taking drugs on a ship, Charles Stross, a human observer, Ted Chiang, hermeneutics,
Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci’s face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face and back with the Mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.
“I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It’s my worry, isn’t it?”
When Luci answered, he saw only a part of her words as he read her lips: “Darling … you’re my husband … right to love you … dangerous … do it … dangerous … wait ….”
He faced her, but put sound in his voice, letting the blare hurt her again: “I tell you, I’m going to cranch.”
set in the same universe, the 1950s housewife, the other Cordwainer Smith story, The Lady Who Sailed The Soul, explain a photograph to a neanderthal, our way of seeing telepathy, we know what they’re thinking, accessible to the inner eye, a perfect reproduction, captures a moment, what difference does it make, everything is fantasy, everything out in the world is projection, fighting in a Battle Royale for a Chicken Dinner, romantic relationships can be…, the encoding room, their friends were there to cheer them on, are the friends physically there?, he’s a star man, on Wednesday, he takes all his friends with him, like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi?, over there there’s Ben Kenobi, how much is virtual is ambiguous, I saw you on the bus you dropped your glasses, are you looking for me?, never lose those interactions, your ex-wife never becomes your ex-wife, and husbanded, the only thing we’re almost sure of, totally programmed world, atoms all fall down, all the rest could be 100% virtual, sometimes the requirements of the human need for storytelling requires a certain page count, two sentence long story, what day is it?, Day Million, that’s not the way we count, tweaking his audience’s nose, his tongue is firmly planted, these things are coming faster, in your lifetime, the sexy version is “Night Million”, how many words, wordcounter.net, all these things we couldn’t do before except by hand, 2,122 words, 2,500 words, a very cynical view of relationships, that dating farce, the instinct to submit, kinda crass, no chasing, too animal, it really changes things for women, the Vanderbilt on CNN (Anderson Cooper), he comes from billionaire stock, billionaire DNA, gay bath houses and sex sex sex, a very straight gay man, “c’mon man”, the BC Civil Liberties Association, always suing the border customs guys, somebody at the border, philosophy of law, the gay bathhouse phenomenon in Toronto, homosexual men don’t have to worry about babies, as much sex as they want, imagine if women if women don’t need to have babies, as many husbands as they want, it does change the female psychology, females are scarce, get the equipment or marry somebody, it really changes things, you all have to start acting like gay men, the numbers of transitioners, more modest?, more randy?, gay bathouse men from the 1970s, men now living in a woman’s world, modifying their behavior, how people are externally treating them, the whole phenomenon of Saudi Arabia, women in the middle ages in Europe, we gotta keep that all locked down, the whole chastity belt, you can do a lot without electricity,
Talked about on today’s show:
1894, not a novel, not a collection in the normal sense, Kipling wrote the whole thing for his daughter, a book of children’s stories, died at six years old, when Kipling left India, the Just So Stories, an inscribed edition, the opposite of a sad book, sad or not sad, wonderful or interesting, the law of the jungle, it’s not all Mowgli stories, a natural progression, the first story about the white seal, interacting with men Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Her Majesty’s Servants, distressing, suffering, war, circling back, that’s just life, finding Shangri La, he lead his people to the promised land, his friend’s skin is missing, hard-hearted, beast of burden, the perspective Kipling sympathized with, the lower ranks, the simple working guys, stead in battle, Jesse’s not very quick with the “themes” in the book, obedience, finding your place in society, a template for the Baden Powell scouts, interaction with nature as a system, all these animals are for us to eat, an exemplar, how many tendrils have grown through to our modern day society, Kim, how influential the book is, the Great Game, Tim Powers’ Declare, religious power in the desert, in the background, Hathi Trust, its from this book, (if there is a) God’s work, preserving the ephemera of 19th and 20th century magazines, a scraper, such a good resource, big systems don’t operate for human beings, wow of course, elephants never forget, and they’re wise, you cannot not remember it, Tantor.com, the elephant from Tarzan Of The Apes, the Indian word for elephant, from 0 to 6, relearn all the things that he learned, low-lifes, lesser-down, class stuff, when Mowgli goes to town, Edgar Rice Burroughs, wow, that’d make a good story, Tarzan is Mowgli’s story in Africa, a series of lessons, Tarzan is pure fantasy, a tiger in Africa, colonialism, a fable, a fantasy, not writing from experience, no sympathy and fellow feeling, no existential crisis, lynching, a justified revenge, the scene with the white seal, Mowgli is no king, lessons to learn, that amazing idea, I don’t know where everything came from, a huge splash, the ripples are reaching us today, why is this thing continuing?, that’s why its a book, half the stories aren’t even in the jungle, the law of the jungle, bringing human values into the jungle and taking jungle values out of the jungle, when Dick is on my back, the bullocks: “here’s all we know”, how would they interact with each other, the Emir of Afghanistan, are the beasts as wise as the men?, thus is it done, sucked into the Bollywood musical experience, Lagaan (2001), the desire of the little guy to get out from under, here’s how the British were able to conquer, they obey as men do, Animal Farm, a Mr. Spock haircut, one more author, Jack London, H.G. Wells, stealing from a great, The Call Of The Wild and White Fang, Buck did not read the newspapers, the error of his arrogance, shanghaied!, the most amazing story, Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe, you don’t know what pain is, the pain of the animals, Mowgli’s parenthood, a picture of Kim, all the writers who write really well, the story of Kipling as a boy, taking aspects of his own life and magnifying them, Christopher Nolan’s movie, you monster!, what is true and what is love?, an innate sense, the irony, such a deep love of humanity, the mother wolf, melancholy, the potential of man, super-modern, there’s no distance between me, William Morris, Thomas Mallory, the dosts, distancing grammar, if Riki-Tiki-Tavi was written today, intimate and close, a light and fun one, snake deaths, so evil, they’re good (to eat), just following their natures, this is my job, the perfect look at man and creature together, each following their own natures, his business in life was to fight and eat snakes, being nuzzled in a bag, why people like to hang out with puppies and kittens, he has a place, verandah, tiny little dogs, handbag dogs, a different kind of love, dogs domesticated people, wheat also domesticated people, fruit trees domesticated human, cows and chickens, being on a dog’s level, co-existing, Toomai Of The Elephants, complete domestication, we are witness to the majesty of animals, Elephant Boy (1937), the radio drama, distancing vs. intimate, he writes good, another strain, Cat People (1942), Val Lewton’s The Bagheeta, that’s crazy, The Body Snatcher (1945), I Walked With A Zombie (1943), The Black Bagheela by Bassett Morgan, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, Frankenstein, important and interesting, Extra Credits, Cordwainer Smith, Jerome K. Jerome, The Idler, Vermont, influencing Heinlein, Citizen Of The Galaxy, Stranger In A Strange Land, Virginia Heinlein suggested Heinlein write the Jungle Book except with a boy raised by Martians, H.G. Wells, Charles Stross, Saturn’s Children, a hidden history behind the books were really like, working on something true, working through the ideas, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Coraline, fully illustrated, modern kid’s books (also for adults) that are fully illustrated, a tribute, people who dislike Kipling, “it would be a poor sort of world if one were only able to read authors who expressed points of view that one agreed with entirely. It would be a bland sort of world if we could not spend time with people who thought differently, and who saw the world from a different place.”, too problematic, let’s just read this book, do the life story’s of the authors matter?, O. Henry, The Gift Of The Magi, a criminal fraudster, rewarded and moral to be a fiction writer, Roman Polanski, Chinatown (1974), Arthur Conan Doyle, being modest about your claims about being a super-genius, foolishly doubling down on the ridiculous, Theodore Roosevelt, sometimes we’re just stupid about things, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, fascinated and hopeful, it humanizes them, a troubling trend, don’t watch the news, seeing a whole life, people being thin-skinned, Facebook or Twitter, performative, Logan Paul, famous for nothing, in the 1920s the way these kind of people got attention is they climbed up to the top of a flagpole, reality TV stars, in anticipation of reading The Graveyard Book, A Fine And Private Place by Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, written at age 19, in fantasy circles, Julianne Kutzendorf, working from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, a hidden history of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Juliane Kunzendorf, a Rudyard Kipling poem entitled M.I., the influences known or unknown, poetry, exploding with connections, giant spiderwebs, Saki aka H.H. Munro, Sredni Vashtar, twisted, is Jesse crazy?, reincarnation, an otter, a little brown servant boy, a very Indian concept, an alternative Kipling, charged by a cow, a hedgehog, Rumer Godden, going native, fraternizing with everybody, common experience and childhood, Anne Of Green Gables, Craftlit, H.H. Munro story entitled The Storyteller,
An aunt is travelling by train with her two nieces and a nephew. The children are inquisitive and mischievous. A bachelor is also travelling in the same compartment. The aunt starts telling a moralistic story, but is unable to satisfy the children’s curiosity. The bachelor butts in and tells a story in which a “good” person ends up being devoured by a wolf, to the children’s delight. The bachelor is amused by the thought that in the future the children will embarrass their guardian by begging to be told “an improper story.”
the aunt is an exemplar of a certain kind of person, the short term, bad governorship, being sensitive to the needs of the people you are in charge of, inverting the aunt’s story, horribly good, what a great story!, this story could have happened, managing children, a teaching story, thinking about yourself as an audience.
The 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.
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 SFFaudio Podcast #489 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964: The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein[ 4:08:46 | 148.39 MB ]Play Now | Play in Popup | Download
The SFFaudio Podcast #285 – Jesse, Scott, Luke, and Jenny talk about The Girl Who Was Plugged In by James Triptree, Jr.
Talked about on today’s show:
Alice Sheldon, why no audiobook?, how James Triptree, Jr. died, the award, the Virginia Kidd agency, the PDF version, who owns it?, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon by Julie Phillips, Her Smoke Rode Up Forever, she was a spy, Racoona Sheldon, a murder/suicide or a suicide pact?, nearly blind, what would Seth think of that?, Huntington D. Sheldon, OSS -> CIA, Cordwainer Smith, Jesse is glad “new wave” is dead, re-reading, you must pay close attention, grammar, a potential audio version, caps and italics, Scott’s proto-cyberpunk, story summary, holographic TV, a “waldo” system, product placement advertizing, the 1998 TV adaptation for Welcome To Paradox (was very faithful), emotional, internal, the weird framing style device, is it NEW WAVE?, J.G. Ballard, an ancient version of the singularity, the reader needs to do a lot more work, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, who is the narrator talking to?, “Listen zombie, believe me…”, the truth is in question, Scott is falling down the Jesse Well, Evel Knievel, media and money, someone goes time traveling, the sharp faced lad, Luke goes biblical, why do we need firm ground?, P. Burke, a media controlled dystopia, post-modern stream of consciousness, its set in the 1970s, “Nixon Unveils Phase 2”, a loopy temporal anomalyizer project, bringing the horrible future into being, investment opportunities, what do people do in this future?, the Wikipedia entry on product placement, “gods”, media consumers, Kyle Marquis @Moochava tweet: “Yearly reminder: unless you’re over 60, you weren’t promised flying cars. You were promised an oppressive cyberpunk dystopia. Here you go.”, dystopic is this?, reserving the word dystopia, “a bad place”, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, a world community, “the world is a dystopia for poor people”, buying into it, required consumption, a softer opt-in dystopia, Wool by Hugh Howey, the lack of truth, the six people in the GTX tower, Rupert Murdoch, government control vs. corporate control, biography of Anonymous, Wikileaks, Amazon.com, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, Russia, Jony Ive, Jeff Bezos, Google, this one person, this relationship, the emotional part of the story, a suicide attempt, “her eyes leak a little”, the godlings, media stars, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, the family and the fourth wall, a tax-dodge marriage, the narrator is full of contempt for everything, a soap opera and the show around that, Jean Harlow‘s story, the actress in that movie vs. the person in that life, her Prada bag, her Jimmy Choo, her iPhone 6, the meta-story, the movies remind us why they’re famous, South America, they’re just shows that happen to love soap (not soap operas), another allusion, Green Mansions by William Henry Hudson, Rima the Bird Girl, Audrey Hepburn, tragic end, “your brain is a dystopia for you”, tragedy, what of the empty body?, the best expression of the system, a plastic brain, a red herring?, was she trying to kill her biological body?, plugged in emotionally, I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, old man becomes young woman, grandfatherly lust, P. Burke thinks she is Delphi, The Matrix, if this is the start of the technology, The Beautiful People by Charles Beaumont, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, vat-grown avatars, Wii miis, World Of Warcraft, Team Fortress 2, unique trumps beauty, the second smartest man in the world, scars are cool, trans-humanism, did anyone enjoy this book (story)?, Jenny loves this story, Scott liked it, the value of short fiction, James Triptree, Jr. writing is not like other people’s, it feels like an artifact, hey you daddy-o, Luke is the dissenting voice, Luke doesn’t like short fiction very much, Rudy Rucker’s Software and Wetware, Cory Doctorow, the futuristic patois, Luke doesn’t like the punk in cyberpunk, “it kind of just flops there”, KCRW’s Bookworm, Reading Like A Writer by Francine Prose, using people, “the real hairy thing…love?”, the narrator’s cynicism, Isaac Asimov’s thoughts on New Wave, New Wave as the literary version of SF, style over content, what Rudy Rucker was doing, what is the first cyberpunk book?, Anne McCaffrey’s short story The Ship Who Sang, what it’s not, who wants straightforward?, addressing the reader directly, Peter Watts, infodumping, “As you know Jim…”,
On this day I want to tell you about, which will be about a thousand years from now, there were a boy, a girl and a love story. Now although I haven’t said much so far, none of it is true. The boy was not what you and I would normally think of as a boy, because he was a hundred and eighty-seven years old. Nor was the girl a girl, for other reasons; and the love story did not entail that sublimation of the urge to rape and concurrent postponement of the instinct to submit which we at present understand in such matters. You won’t care much for this story if you don’t grasp these facts at once. If, however, you will make the effort, you’ll likely enough find it jam-packed, chockfull and tiptop-crammed with laughter, tears and poignant sentiment which may, or may not, be worth while. The reason the girl was not a girl was that she was a boy.
“There’s a great future there”, All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, it’s not a time travel story?, newspapers, typewriters, telegrams, has writing gotten worse or is it just evolving?, brid -> bird, Luke thinks it’s all cyclical, this is just another princess, this is Princess Diana’s story, we are complicit, the message, everyone should have to read the news in a second language, being two steps removed from current events, the value of the short story (it’s short), speed dating books, good luck.