The SFFaudio Podcast #731 – Badge Of Infamy by Lester Del Rey – read by Thomas Rose for LibriVox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novel (3 hours 20 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Tony De Simone.
Talked about on today’s show:
a short novel, half of an ace double or a maga books double, on LibriVox, The Sky Is Falling, aces are Dos y Dos, children don’t even what a paperbook is, two books in one, the Tor doubles, a better gimmick, a problem for shelving, two covers, makes the book shorter, written pretty quickly, science fiction vs. quasi-fantasy, a three hour drag, a one hour drag, the topic is interesting and topical for today, interesting worldbuilding, the role of government and quasi-government entities, Heinleins, people on Mars, the inexplicable girl falls for him (she’s his wife!), she falls for him all over again, a terrible harridan, they like each other again, I don’t hate you anymore, a strict bossy or belligerent old woman, Ethel Merman, is that how she is?, Doc Feldman, negative character traits, a perception thing, the mores of the time, the pattern, write women this way, let’s examine, a caduceus on the sidewalk, he’s a bum, fifty cents, 2100, generous, he’s bitter, the reason that all happened, a flashback to a weird hunting incident, accidentally shoots himself in the chest, very suspicious, a mechanism to defrock him, the ethics, sustained in practice, politics, a corrupt union, anti-union sentiment?, if you’re not super-rich, define our terms, if you have six houses…, the .1 percent, get on your plane and fly, the outcomes are worse, is that the fault of the medical lobby?, in our reality, the drug lobby, the American Medical Association, a medical doctor, practicing medicine, herbalists, surgery, my kidney really hurts, charged with a crime, laws being weaponized, abortion clinics, restrict abortion, it’s not in the book, anti-union?, thinking of it as a union?, the lobbies, the most interesting parts of this book, it’s the world building, a story set in that world, the idea of a frontier and having had a history where two big lobbies control the United States, the space lobby and the medical lobby, other lobbies, the PR lobby, is there a public relations union?, admit members, the U.S. Bar Association, guild, being anti-guild, Del Rey excoriates, stuff on the ship, getting radiated, terrible for society, the name of the book, a badge mentioned, he’s had his badge taken away, his badge is being a pariah, a grey suit, he had to have taken it with his ticket, sloppy writing, a sloppy suicide scene, notoriously a fast writer, Space Pariah, a stupid title, an interesting place to search, a free-floating phrase, did something dishonorable, a badge of infamy, freedom is heady stuff, you can’t acquire a taste for it second hand, anti-authoritarian, afraid of the tyranny of the bureaucracy, a negative effect on the world, why did he try to kill himself?, against the policy of the lobbies, being encroached upon, you have to have a taste for freedom, recent events, recent politics, I see the rise of authoritarianism, do people want to be free?, we want both, “them”, screw those people, the demonization of the other, those eggheads, standing at the top of the dungheap, I’m going to pull him down with me, an undercooked U.S. Revolution against the British Empire on Mars, a whole plot going on that’s boring, the villages are fomenting rebellion, FREEDOM!, the have brackiweed, the solution to the problem, kind of convenient, huh?, positive portrayals of smoking, Tolkien approves, they do it because they enjoy it, a fantasy a smoker might have, a defense of smoking, a government conspiracy to keep us from having fun, womens groups, temperance, a puritanical streak, in Iran, not wearing their clothes right, your hijab is not tight enough, people not liking other people wearing their mask on the chin, even outdoors, an extremely crowded place to see fall colours, close proximity jostling, during COVID, over now?, just quoting the president, in this matter the president of the united states is an ass, in 7 months, talking with Eric (S. Rabkin), some grocery store clerk, did the kid not know?, the most autistic person on the planet, the girls and women in Iran wearing the mandated headwear, space virus, being more holy, some people wear masks as a way of protecting themselves, in their car while they’re alone, they’re so lazy, some people like wearing masks, it’s freeing, sunglasses, they’re hiding, they’re cool, man, people can’t see your eyes, they can’t know your real feelings, the Murderbot series, a robot programmed to be cool, watching a lot of TV shows, their governance model, the plot doesn’t allow it, Luke Burrage and Julianne, we feel for this character, people projecting into the robot, explain it to me like I’m hyperautistic, some people would like to be that robot, a lot of evidence that reading helps support the growth of empathy, maximum empathy, Parable Of The Sower, feel people’s pain, back to our brackiweed story, they’re not like normal union, it requires that you join it, training required, abide by its rules, the lobby controls things, a union works for a larger institution, directed at Elon Musk, would you consider yourself the founder of the Space Lobby, he’s read science fiction, I want to be the head of the space lobby, start thinking about it that way, the lobbies are essentially a part of the government or control the government, taking on government functions, tendrils, more of a corporation than a union, the lobby that is not mentioned, very topical, the military , Raytheon and Mcdonnell Douglas, promoted tweets for the F35, 10 times, organized special interests, the mob, the hoi polloi, third arm of government, the old farm lobby, big farmers, little farmers, the farm vote, foods and crops, corn syrup, the corn lobby, Sprecher root beer, the last of the great lobbies, last in development, the funny way he writes, probably, who’s this narrator, Stephen King does stuff like that, grew up so fast, Russia, the first hunk of metal above the atmosphere, a myth of national prestige, sputnik, NASA, the aircraft industry, war or threat of war, a few sharp operators, subcontracts, spread profits so widely, lobby block, the first mention of recession, a continual war since WWII, Linda Nagata, the economy will tank, presidential veto, The Red, defense contractors, video on the oversight of the banking industry, they’re having a very cordial meeting, she’s going to be leaving us and going to join you guys, I hope you take care of her, her father already works for us, the men placed in government agency came from its own ranks, a medical lobby, conservative group, treatment and payment, a long series of retreats, “socialized medicine” is gonna fuck up the medical system, government spending, doctors working on a fixed fee, competence no longer managed much, as exemplified by the lobby, pretty subtle, quality vs. quantity of care, a thesis of the book, why our hero is kicked out, a tightly held belief, running up the national debt and the quality of healthcare will go down, if you look at neighboring countries, your conservative friends are factually wrong, without money involved they won’t be inspired to do anything, it could decline (eventually), its possible in the distant future, the experiments running for the last 50 or 60 years, Cuba, one of the poorest countries in North America, preventative care, not the evidence so far, there is a waiting list for a lot of stuff, you have to wait in line in the States too (unless you’re really wealthy), stuck with the system they’ve got, a lot of propaganda from the PR lobby, the focus on preventative treatment, spend extra money, local block doctor -> community clinic -> local hospital, you couldn’t have Breaking Bad happen in Canada, except for the fantasy of the blue meth, one of the hardest things about that show, fucking up your kid’s life, lying to your wife and getting divorced and fucking up your kids future, a big point of the show, a morality play, Better Call Saul, what’s ethical and what isn’t, dying of cancer, very reasonable, to make drugs that people want, murders happen because of it, that show can’t happen in Canada because its implausible on the surface, you might have to move, go down to Winnipeg to get treatment, hospital jets, very American, if cellphones are involved, for movies especially, horror movies, it took a worldwide plague, the plague began in old china, a few madmen planning to conquer the world, it might have been a laboratory mutation but nobody could ever prove it, COVID most likely did start in a lab, no it did not, it did not start in a lab, Jesse, deny facts, look into, not a biological weapon gone wrong, the unfortunate nature of virulent disease in the modern world spreading like wildfire, a matter of contagion, monies going to the lab doing gain of function research, lab leaks happen a lot, a movie book plot, right out of this plot, a narratively disorderly way, those evil Chinese, wouldn’t it be evil if it was, most plainly not, political purposes, a political effect, conspiracy theorists with a political agenda, highly conservative, doing it on a podcast right now, those guy in that bar in Philadelphia, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, it wiped out two billion people, an obscure scientist found a cure before the epidemic hit America, the plot of this book, foreshadowing?, a pariah, Rutherford Ryan, America ran it, the bad writing again, what is the it here?, the world?, America runs the world, the two effectively ran the world, none of the smaller lobbies could buck them, as under the Roman Caesars, false democracy, a man belonged to his lobby as a serf belonged to his feudal landlord, abide by standards and practices, equates to serfdom, end of the first chapter, Christmas in the year 2100, wrong about a lot of stuff, plot that happens, prescient, thought provoking, kind of a bad book, Deeper Than Darkness by Gregory Benford, Lester Del Rey, Faith Of Our Fathers, Helen O’Loy, two dorks making a girl in their basement, the original Weird Science (1985), uplifted dogs and gorillas getting together after humans have died off, outdated, she’s a very mechanical lady, an ideal woman from the 1940s, she cooks and cleans and loves you, nagging, The Faithful, he read The Island Of Doctor Moreau, way down the road David Brin said hold my beer, he gets to the point and doesn’t linger over it, clunkily written, he compliments her quite a bit, suspicious of her, her face was shocked, Forget it Chris, you can’t find a man strong enough to rule, in relationships, it didn’t work on Earth, what could be done with a new planet, their relationship is like the divorce between Earth and Mars, Earth is dependent on the brackiweed, those are the dreams that made a mess of the old one, second hand brackiweed smoke, trends and forces over time, besides once you get back to Earth you’ll forget what happened here, what she could have been, research, what else?, they were researching together, she’s a doctor, she’s royalty in the Medical Lobby, him breaking one of their rules, some Tibetan plateau, bystander laws, if we’re operating properly, ideal conditions, sued for any reason for any time, medical malpractice, if you’re the wife or husband of the most powerful person in the medical lobby, very simplistic, if we had never found, more plausible, when he’s in the flophouse, he needs the massage and the hot water, getting whipped, authoritarian for sure, if you break one of the lobby’s rules, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, the PR lobby dystopia, Coffeeist, floppy, if you cross the lobby, addicted to three different substances, that book is funny, this book is humourless, Star Surgeon by Alan E. Nourse, somebody has confused this book with that book, it’s not a juvenile, Little Fuzzy, cute fuzzy aliens, boring adults, young people learning the ropes, smoking, Dal Tigmar, earth medical school, interstellar emergency, good at medicine on Earth, specialist, uniformed, the grey uniform, pediatrics, exobiology, making jokes, pink for gynecology, brown for proctology, fun but silly, empathize with a semi-humanish alien, 1959, Sector General, James White, medical alien space things, Machine by Elizabeth Bear, interested in biology, electron microscopes, the triheaded thing, the disease from earth, measles, some background for this fake medical disease he’s curing, Jesuit bark, quinine, the same idea, PR lobbies from the early 20th century, advertising for smoking, the back of any slick magazine, medical benefits, some cases (edge cases) where the effect of smoking tobacco is not wholly bad, coffee, detriments, shakier, more nervous, keeps you awake, pee more, smoking makes you poo?, would explain a few occasions, pipe tobacco cigars, when you dig down deep into medical history, poisons are medicines, mercury, its terrible for you, water can drown you (misapplied), skillful that he puts it in early enough, enjoy smoking, old school sci-fi writers, tricked by that, not fully thought through, synthetic food vs. real food, we have a lot of synthetic food now, replicator sense, processed and artificial ingredients, people cooking real food, Sisko and Riker, like people like riding horses, a few real books in his office, status symbol, the office is the status symbol, real unreplicated food is slightly better, a prejudice or a real thing?, they never say: this is better for you, he’s prejudiced, always the same, slightly different, chocolate ice cream of number 67 flavour, AI program with the same recipe, Chrisopher Pike is also really into cooking, cooking in space, replicating the ingredients, a giant egg, replicated blankets, a gift of an egg, taste better, when Riker is cooking or Jake is cooking with his dad, Eric Rabkin talks about food in science fiction, food is love, we are on the same team, I love you as a parent loves a child, nourishing, the ritual of love, they want to spend time together, stimulant, enjoying the act of dishwashing, a novelty, an experience, electric dishwashers, pass them the dish rinse it off, drying rack, social, two strands of food, synthetics are the cheaper kind, outside the snow was still falling, no work shoveling snow, stolen the guy’s boots, if he’d had socks, synthetics, he’s hungry, a real meal on synthetics, scavenge something edible (dumpster diving), he clutched the quarter and turned to look , to which his metabolism had been switched, there’s two classes of eaters, real food, synthetic food, adjusted to synthetic (because he’s poor), this is a class thing, prescient, processed foods are way cheaper, go shopping for bread, imported foods must be listed too, manipulate terms, savvy, monosodium glutamate, plant cell walls, either of two forms, isomers, either form was digestible, the isomer to which it was adjusted, processed food, once you’re on sugar it’s hard to get off sugar, Martian plants produce different isomers, really confusing, an enzyme that could handle either isomer, the cheapness of synthetics, fudging the science a little bit, milk has additive, cereal additives, energy drinks, decaffeinated coffee, Tom Standage, a good writer, a good researcher, a bad magazine, urine and caffeine are closely related, Fritz Haber, some major role in the disease too, the red herring that wasn’t, specific point, an Earth meal and a Mars meal, if you eat the wrong one…, the food lobby in the United States is causing people to get fat, processed foods, fatter and fatter, The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker, hacking people, good takeaway, desert towns had joined, unmanned rockets loaded with atomics, demand surrender, he and Chris had put in every spare minute, that would be the montage, normal food, a handful of people, 80 of Earth’s population ate synthetics, synthesize normal food, 20% in a powerful lobby, the richest part of the United States is the communities around Washington, D.C., where the lobbies do their lobbying, don’t eat that we make that, I only manufacture that for the poors, a cynical view, the dentist who also owns a candy store, Mark Zuckerburg, Meta world is designed to increase that interest, Second Life was interesting but it wasn’t good, another Lester Del Rey story, an interest in medical stuff, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Volume IIA, Nerves, still a good story, a more coherent way, by modern standards, a medical thriller, his impact on science fiction, an editor, a reviewer, his wife too, a half handful, Police Your Planet, Preferred Risk with Frederik Pohl, insurance in the future, why is insurance a topic for science fiction?, read more, he doesn’t take two years to craft anything, written at a furious pace, still has value, the experience of reading it, wrong about a lot of things, right about a lot of things, in real life, Doctor Kevorkian?, Christopher Duntsch, our guy’s a hero in the book, out of genre examples, geology, Galileo, [Alfred Wegener], handwashing for doctors, corpsey hands, a good way to cause people to die, Mr. Lister, Lavoisier?, Robert Malone, super-negative headlines, false claim, the development of MRNA technology, Pfizer and Moderna, produce the spike protein, an early skeptic about the effect the MRNA vaccines would have, Wikipedia is the website that anyone can edit, his listing on Wikipedia, he is not one of us anymore, attended several conservative conferences, the “sponsored by Pfizer” supercut, holding patents, they’re turning him into a piriah, he’s not invited on TV anymore, the drug lobby vs. the medical lobby, the military industrial corporations, what gets served to people at the grocery store, pretty good for a guy from the 1950s, lesser examples of science fiction, genuine science fiction, Ted Chiang, cold and clinical vs. rough and smokey, emotional but clinical, blue colours, a science fiction approach, Robert E. Howard’s style is muscley, Lovecraft, languorous, Asimov is jokey, Lester Del Rey is smokey and clunky, William Gibson is cool, non-fiction by Del Rey, a history of science fiction, a good book, New Wave science fiction, style over idea, he’s doing science fiction, setting a story in a science fiction universe (its in the future), about idea, the lobby idea, the core of this, stodgy science by having a big powerful medical lobby, the F-35, the new Top Gun movie, Jesse likes movies, F-18s, very expensive, orders of magnitude, F-22, F-14s, we need the thing that will work for the film, not showcase the technology?, its product is bad now, maximizing profits vs. maximizing benefits, intellectual property vs. helping people, the fentanyl crisis, sell max product, heroin, now you can’t use it any more, ivermectin is out of patent, Rachel Maddow and Rolling Stone, a story from August, fake stories that get spread around, official license from the government for broadcast, the bluecheck system (on twitter), the FDA gets funding from corporations, jobs in the industries lobbying the FDA, not viral enough, so depressing, constant lies all day, a comic strip, survive everyday, what effect it has on you, the poodle industry, more homeless poodles, dogs that need homes, abandoning pets, everything effects everything else, you have to inject this shit into your body, blood clots caused by the vaccination, look at the record, not true, they were lying, hoping, before they changed the definition, those clips are there, they don’t have their YouTube accounts deleted, this is how we sell it, most people are too busy, while you’re not paying attention they’re fucking you, good luck with that, born as a rich kid, the provincial premiere gets cancer treatment at the same hospitals, hesitant to take a chance, Paul got his 5th shot, a near death experience, paying attention when people get hurt, vaccination injuries are real, they seem to be ineffective, Cinnamon Sam, Coleman, Lexy-Lou, make some babies, Lake Norman Humane, cat trap, why am I in this cage?, a domesticated cat, lack of food security, a new cat owner again, you’re appreciated, Pursuit by Lester Del Rey, exploding cats, how can this not involve aliens, entertaining description, Dale Grothmann, only a two hour commitment, Black Priestess Of Varda by Erik Fennel, Nudist Camp by Orrie Hitt, The Pink Panther (1963), Lawrence Block, The Black Stranger by Robert E. Howard, he’s really good, A Night In Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, Edgar Allan Poe, Blaze by Richard Bachman, The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper, Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, narrated by a dog, interior illustrations, Gahan Wilson is an acquired taste, The Starmouse by Fredric Brown, they make good microphones and good monitors, business practices and stinginess, premium materials, a true mono, the PDF page, The Clock That Went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell, Back To The Future II (1989), a grandfather clock, New England, it’s a time machine!, the Netherlands, spawning the line that creates themselves, 1881, before everything, “All You Zombies”, super-creepy makes it good, The Monster Maker aka The Surgeon’s Experiment by W.C. Morrow, doing bad stuff in there, an illicit doctor, he’s a pariah, full circle, euthanized, he has some theories, super-scary, turned into The Hulk, becoming more primitive, no eyes and no ears and fed through a straw, a super scary horror science fiction story, 1887, a Victorian era science fiction story, published in a newspaper, At The Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs, reading with your eyes, reading aloud, monks copying books, some house is on fire, the Mad Tea Party, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland vs. Alice’s Adventures Under The Ground, the mad hatter, the Gribcast, David H. Keller, Futurama’s “snu snu” episode, The Little Husbands, a comedy piece, Amazon women, dress them up like little dolls, they could use them as dildos, implied, out of context comics, the writer’s barely disguised fetish, he was a psychiatrist, designed to be entertaining, male female relationships, sexual dimorphism, a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode [Angel One], Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Sweeper Of Loray by Robert Sheckley, a Sheckley expert, he’s different sometimes, Mindswap, Immortality, Inc., The Status Civilization, Dimension Of Miracles, what happened to John Hodgman?, he was the PC, The Daily Show, Coraline (2009), more Sheckley is always good, a novel by Sheckley, a contest, too many fucking Draculas, which racial slur?, cancel stamp, nobody cares, Olaf Stapledon, science fiction but not a novel, The Silmarillion isn’t a novel, legally they have to call it a novel, other fiction types, making an argument that’s supportable, Jesse is unpickable, Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, 194 pages, John Wyndham, A World Of Sound, a guy goes to the opera, falls asleep, has a dream, a musical world, Jesse’s analysis of it is beautiful, Paul won’t play Jesse’s don’t understand reality game, some things you can’t talk about, sometimes you have a really good show, a metaphor that makes the story better, Peter And The Wolf, pop star lyrics, its art but its not drama, Gustav Holst’s the planets, the new Bill & Ted movie, George Carlin, Rufus’ daughter, Gravity Falls, What We Do In The Shadows, Bogus Journey, nostalgia attached, saved the world, that’s your philosophy so much, one of the few things out there, music is dangerous, music is used to manipulate and control thoughts, expressing emotion, reading had a lot to do with it, read a lot more poetry, Ursula K. Le Guin’s poetry, The Next War, Deep In Earth, Shel Silverstein, Lovecraft made fun of one of his friends, a poem as a wedding speech, Strephon And Chloe by Jonathan Swift, no mortal race, such cleanliness from head to heel, no noisome whiffs, squat on her hams to make maid’s water, this goddess walking the Earth, cut to the bedroom, giggling, Jonathan Swift’s advice: 1. don’t drink too much beer or tea, 2. you have a special responsibility to the person you’re married to to not disabuse them of the ideas they have about you, reaches under the bed and puts something under herself, American Gods, eats him, she’s peeing into the chamber pot, a man’s job is to ignore women not being creatures not from heaven, its a woman’s job to not make them think that they’re not, The Hunting Of The Snark by Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, this dangerous jingle, a plot point in The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, a defense shield, ads, words control you, judo flip, if you don’t know this word you’re subject to this word, Babel-17 by Samuel Delany, language works as a weapon, Luke Burrage, too New Wavey, mid-period, his early stuff, Embassytown, The Dispossessed, the things that matter are locked, the things that don’t matter are unlocked, dispute the propaganda, Jimmy Wales is always begging, weaponizing facts, citations, a slightly better reputation is bad news, the wild west, academic research, a good starting point, academic papers are garbage, extra super nerdy, tons of these fake papers, American education vs. Canadian education (all one big evil family), Aye, and Gomorrah, a revisionist take on Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith, not doing it for style, reaction against, we’re leaning into this shit, generally true, overlong, literary, the opposite of Lester Del Rey, a low tolerance for pretentiousness, Ursula K. Le Guin doesn’t show off, David Brin is not a supergenius (he’s okay and bad), so hit and miss, a period of science fiction where people were throwing crap at the wall, interesting, C.M. Kornbluth’s experiments are interesting, had he lived longer and written more Science Fiction, having co-written a famous book, bigger than Harlan Ellison, novels are really important for making him, nobody reads Harlan Ellison novels, he didn’t write science fiction!, Ray Bradbury makes a better case, lyrical spaceguy, a weird guy, reappraise Ray Bradbury, he wrote too much, nostalgia, anti-nostalgia, good short stories, as a percentage?, The Martian Chronicles is 1/80 of his output, The Toynbee Convector, four titles for one story, A Literary Nightmare.