The SFFaudio Podcast #642 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #642 – The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard; read by Connor Kaye

This unabridged reading of the story (1 hours 34 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Will Emmons, Trish E. Matson, and Alex and Connor Kaye.

Talked about on today’s show:
Oriental Stories, Winter 1932, 9 issues, a spinoff of Weird Tales, G.G. Pendarves, Hung Long Tom, Otis Adelbert Kline, The Dragoman’s Jest, the kock-off Edgar Rice Burroughs, E. Hoffman Price, Magic Carpet, 5 issues, the Arabian Nights theme, historical fiction, what kind of stories they’re publishing, guys with scimitars, yellow peril, the mystical east, Orientalism, Australian stories, the land of upside down, the exotic, Outback Tales, Bush Tales, shaggy dog stories, time wasters, folklore, folktales, bush poetry, don’t worry Trish, North-West Adventures, Yukon Tales, Jack London made that genre, American movie productions set, I Heard The Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven, the last frontier, She in the Arctic, that excitement about Antarctica, Hawks Of Outremer, Robin Hood, King John, the crusades and the crusader states, a lot of work, the research for Oriental tales was too much work, battle scenes, historical errors?, Saladin’s a real guy, a shoutout to Cormac Fitzgeoffrey, Swords Of Shahrzar, there’s a lot going on in here, the twist ending, why it didn’t grab you, Jewels Of Gwahlur, a completely different kind of mode, transferring information, giving what you need for what he’s going to do, we need a map, El Borak, The Fire Of Asshurbanipal, the 1982 Conan movie, Subotai is in this, Baibars, Gerry Lopez, Lopez, lifts from other Robert E. Howard stories, deep in your soul, make it part of your life, A Witch Shall Be Born, Hour Of The Dragon, Tower Of The Elephant, a Kull villain, dressed like a mongol, what happened to Baibars in real life, a king by his own hand, Oliver Stone or John Milius, there is no one Conan story, Queen Of The Black Coast, Belit for this scene, giant snake, an amalgam of Howard’s themes and ideas, the wheel of pain, we don’t know who the hero of our story is, that mode, is the hero Baibars, its a ruse, a castle full of Arabs, “this is a ruse”, this is a trick, the trick happened earlier, not a mystery exactly, we’re not supposed to know, our reveal is a supposition of reality, Haroun, Harold Lamb, why it feels like it doesn’t work, our Irish lord fleeing despair in Europe for relief in the east, a historical supposition, he’s making an argument, the protagonist vs. the viewpoint character, rising around for three chapters until the plot hook, it bounces from castle to castle, all this stuff didn’t happen over night, what’s the time frame of this story, we need a map and a timeline, from Egypt to Palestine, the first invasion, the subsequent invasion, historical about Baibars, Kingdom Of Heaven (2005), the reveal was amazing, he was my taskmaster, I was his body servant, I hate that guy, I am not Haroun, a really interesting thing that he’s done, really impersonal, a bigger scoped story, the fall of kingdoms, Howard works best at the personal level, the undercooked personal level, the knight who secretly betrayed him, a prophecy, twice as long, the lady knight thing was so out of nowhere, that plot arc, a bit out of place, why it doesn’t work as well as Hawks Of Outremer, not much of a payoff for any of the characters, the romance plot ends in tragedy, it can’t be told from his POV, we want to want him to win, pulling itself in several different ways, everything that happens in it is historically accurate, a scar on his face, involved in many intrigues in his life, going amongst the people to spy, what made him such a rags to riches story, an indentured slave, the schools, a northern barbarian, blue eyed, pale skin, chopping skills, 1,000 sword swings a day, kinda hard to understate, he thinks of himself as an Irishman, him confronting the east, why the mongols were stopped, how come the hordes didn’t take over the Arab empire, Baibars stopped them, he took a crusader state and teamed up against the mongols, team-up, wow!, the opposite of Saladin, Saladin is noble, Baibars is cunning, quarterstaff, neither of us will ever be able to dominate the other, when our hero dies, that scar on his face like Kull, Howard projecting himself against a historical figure, an different kind of defeat, Cahal, kay-hal?, his kingdom is the dark side of the moon, he kinda gets what he wants: an end to himself, he came here because he couldn’t go home, he’s seeking death, you can’t defeat me, I see you as a fellow person, a terrible defeat for Cromac Fitzgeoffrey, he clawed him, the only way Howard could engage, more than the end he wants, western civilization will crush Islam in 1,000 years, talking with Evan Lampe about Robert E. Howard’s letters to H.P. Lovecraft, within his stories, Lovecraft was never effected by Howard, Howard was very effected by Lovecraft, barbarians, barbarianism is the norm (not civilization), putting myself up against any historical figure, an intellectual heavyweight from a small town, such an insight into Howard’s psychology, the technical need, it isn’t a classic of Robert E. Howard, the scimitar with the scarlet flying, the babies being spitted, the bar fight, the Roy Thomas written Savage Swords, it doesn’t flow in the way we want it to, another way to do it, unless he abandons the thesis, the Irish viewpoint character, when the Mongols hit eastern Europe, these sons of slaves, disinherited before he was born, dies of a poisoning not meant for him, Haroun, Baibars is not the leader of Egypt, he’s not yet the leader of Egypt, info dump drops are 100% accurate, all these kingdoms, the Syrians and the Egyptians, imagine Canada trying to jump into the fight on January 6th, to get up to speed, who the sides are, relatively painless, if flows perfectly, the common enemy, a bit more messy, the craftsmanship, getting the writing done, the European inset, given the people he’s chosen to write about, he wanted to be as accurate as possible (or so it seems), Conan wouldn’t react the same way, a kingly figure who is worthy, who is Conan’s greatest adversary?, not Thulsa Doom, a monkey with a cape, his own lust, a doomed character, a femme fatale story, he’s so bitter at the beginning so revealed at the end, uncharacteristically Robert E. Howard, does he notice her at the beginning?, he looks into the visor, pulled back almost like a woman, he zones out a little bit, a giant army is coming, we should run, the great oaf, a slender knight, a rough red beard, a Vanir, something slumbering, man, where have I seen you before?, shadowed eyes, a thousand racing chaotic thoughts, an almost womanish gesture of rebuke, distracted by the Odin swearing assistant, Howard’s red herring is literally red haired, the ending works for Jesse, why it is not THE classic of Robert E. Howard stories, with the reveal and the supposition, growing mustachios, Connor read this for us, what’s the time period, the final battle is 1244, a year, six months, time to grow a mustache, Jerusalem, from Cairo to Damietta to Jerusalem, with a bandit far to the east, at least six months, seven chapters, how do you tell this story if you’re trying to be accurate, Die Hard (1988), these guys are gonna hang out and have adventures together, Marvel Team-Up, Green Lantern – Green Arrow, Hard Travelin’ Heroes, these two titans testing each other, team up for one battle, the double reveal of the masked night, strangled by the concept, the thesis, make this story longer, a modern fantasy novel, a novel length story spending more time with each of the characters, impersonating a man, tell it from her point of view, Will really liked this story, Vikings, go back in time, cut people up, lets have a hitting contest, Christopher Lee is a pirate, the Spanish Armada, a punching contest, The Devil-Ship Pirates (1964), PTSD in those days, drink each other under the table with fermented milk, a character that we don’t understand any better having read this story, different personas to live their lives, shocking and amazing and why are they doing it?, a lot of disguises, Eleanor, trying to fix this story, make it shorter or longer, the Eleanor plot arc, make it episodic, chunks, Akbar, start, middle, and end, episodes, add in something in the middle, uncharacteristic, make baibars more empathetic to see something from his perspective, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, only technically true, different perspective characters (all Baibars!), a unique idea for a series of stories, could I beat Baibars in a fight, it would be a tie!, I would be his equal!, I would be his match!, overstating the case, the sub-thesis, 100 years later in the history, the crusader states are in decline, Red Cahal rode, Tyre, Jaffa, Acre, Hospitallers and Templars, the Teutonic knights invaded Russia and Poland, spread Christianity and stamp out paganism, to stabilize his rule, pay off his guys, keep the mongols out, the fading kingdom, suicidal, at least a year, full of difficult pronunciations, living by his wits on the edge of his sword, a predatory nose, a haunt of poverty, weeds grew rank, lizards, the echoing emptiness, no gaily clad pages, a reiver’s hold, how does a noble house go down?, it just takes time, arguing so hard with Lovecraft, really interesting vs. rousing adventure, a good miniseries, his femme fatale who betrayed him, too short for what its trying to do, more resonant, he had to do so much infodumping, skillfully done, Hour Of The Dragon, the downer ending of Hawks Of Outremer, the same setup, his brother is dead so he’s sad, a gracious enemy vs. a devious enemy, strategist, leading incredibly heavily on a romance, I’ve heard stories about you tell me if they’re true, different media, in a TV show, techniques, what Shakespeare does on stage is so what you can’t do, an audio drama would need a narrator, a text crawl, its setup a lot like a mystery, Dashiell Hammett style, going around and getting beat up to solve a mystery, a recitation of facts is not a story, Shanghai, Shadow Of The Vulture, the Siege of Vienna, Magic Carpet, Red Sonja, a revenge arc, first concubine of the sultan, that bitch betrayed all of Europe, a red headed wanton, down the road in history, a generic Howard guy, a Howard woman who never needs to be rescued, what the Jews and Syrians were wearing in the street, different Irish guards, this guy’s young!, Dark Valley Destiny by Catherine Crook de Camp, Jane Whittington Griffin, L. Sprague de Camp, a photographic memory, an inability to not remember things like dates of purchases, Marilu Henner’s memory [hyperthymesia], a major facility, he was 30, being towards death, Bill Hollweg, Edgar Rice Burroughs, part of the attraction to Bill was these feelings, racial memory, events in your ancestor’s past, a guy who becomes Conan, Jack London, the Celt’s facility with language, Before Adam, The Call Of The Wild‘s race memory, reverting to one’s ancestor, the definitive word, White Fang, The Sea Wolf, savouring, Jack London’s one of the best writers ever, as I’m flying across the street having been hit by a bus I’ll be screaming “I should have read the memory”, an eidetic memory, worth reading (at least once), expensive bon bons, don’t read every Conan story back to back, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the beats, 1995 – 2021, The Sowers Of The Thunder volumes from the 1970s, The Sword Of Shahrazar, Skull Face, the most racist, Howard doing Fu Manchu, an Atlantean priest, now Will is sold, a Famous Fantastic Mysteries podcast, Virgil Finlay, Hannes Bok, Lawrence Sterne Stevens, Almuric, something wrong about the ending, May June July August, Connor needs to do the one about the Polish lady, Leigh Brackett, doomed cult ideology, Outpost On Io, Chief O’Brien is not super-doomed, he likes being doomed, virtual reality prison for 40 years, oh I’m a robot, Philip K. Dick’s Impostor, the Gary Sinise movie sucks so bad, a giant chase sequence with Ice Cube in the middle, we like O’Brien, we know O’Brien, more Irish fated ill guys, other gloomy Irishmen characters, The Terror by Dan Simmons, The Coming Race, too long, another true story that’s been modified slightly to make it weird, except for the giant polar bear monster spirit, maybe that’s why the expedition was so doomed, tinned meat contaminated with lead, a supernatural element, the HBO biopics were really kind of depressing, real life is much harsher than stories are generally, spice it up with the fantastic it becomes more spritely and less dour, lets the medicine go down, the slash fiction, an archive of our own, they fall in love, some hot gay sex, grasping that pole (so to speak), take us through your inspiration for your story, where the slash fiction lives, post your own fan fiction, a good tagging system, Of Stray Cats And Lost Kings by galerian_ash, comments and kudos, rather shocking, the red cat is adorable, red head, its a metaphor, gold hair tinged with read, the Dane, Oh, and I love the bit about the stray cat staying,

What wonderful tension you hold here between Cahal and Baibars. It’s such a classic situation, but you’ve made it fresh and new here, and I particularly like your emphasis on a lack of personal hatred. I find myself sympathising with Baibar’s honourable patience and Cahal’s tussle with himself, and thus your resolution is both hard-won and satisfying. I did like the little details that worked to reveal each character, too – paticularly Barbar’s “let’s ride!”. What else would a warrior from the steppes say?

– on a completely different note, it was delightful to learn about Baibars’ cat garden in Cairo, and to discover that the cats of Torre Argentina and the Mosque Aziz Mahmud Hudayi have such noble heritage. Thank you for that!

what his name means, what was missing from the story!, the most Howard thing, Cahal was like a bear, the male gaze, male gay vs. lesbian stuff, some of it was poetry, the explicit lesbian poetry, explicitly lesbianism in Weird Tales, whipping and lesbians goes together, ruffled a few feathers, Gay Orientaled Stories, Spicy Tales he told, The Dragon Of Kao Tsu by Robert E. Howard, September 1936 Spicy and Juvenalia, Mexico, all over the world, its possible he didn’t even know how to swim, a powerhouse.

extras at 6 minutes so far

Oriental Stories - The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

Roy G. Krenkel, 1975 Donald M. Grant Edition -The Sowers Of The Thunder by Robert E. Howard

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The SFFaudio Podcast #640 – READALONG: Wang’s Carpets by Greg Egan

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #640 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Scott Danielson talk about Wang’s Carpets by Greg Egan

Talked about on today’s show:
Greg Bear, its been a while, a story about scientists doing science in a science fiction story, really pleasant, a lot of philosophy and a lot of scientific ideas, establishes themes, distilled, some real questions about the world, many worlds to conquer, sense of wonder, fractals, not conquer, contact is conqueror, very Prime Directivey, a Sterling thing, the Shaper Mechanist stories, biological and technological, parallel lives, they’ve mastered biology, they’re digital, baseline humans, 96 percent of me died, I’m going to mourn that for a while, Borderlands, digistructs, Star Trek, stuck in the buffer, technically this story is really good, not writing problems, digital vs. biological, the CZ folks, there was a reality, not a solipsistic universe, All You Zombies by Robert A. Heinlein, why Scott is worried (what Scott understood), biological copies, they’re not in a simulation, when they arrive at Vega, another level, one of the reviews, a little bit of Borges, how Set Theory interacts with philosophy, an infinity of numbers, this thing could go on for a while, a bigger infinite set, once you set down this path, interesting to think about what’s going on, rather repulsive, a few shows ago, In The Clutch Of The War God went to Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson, the post-human aspect, going post-human, changing your eye stalks, your dad’s third copy of your cousin, sound and fury signifying nothing, the act of looking at mp3 files is copying them, I don’t download I only stream, any actions within a computer are copying actions, going to visit a website is downloading it, big sheets of sugar, it turns out its not alive, turns out its not alive, in the interstices, what’s so interesting about this, kind of like Exhalation by Ted Chiang, these things are going on without us, hard fantasy, its much more like Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott, learning the rules of a game, why is he telling me about the emotional relationships between these characters, they don’t have belt pouches and breakfasts, they don’t care whether it is raining, following robots, these are not a metaphor, any sense why Jesse would have a reaction, the message is sad, the people at home are living in VR worlds, step one set back and we’re looking at a short story, yeah within the story it all makes sense, within the story, the story is meta-questioning, somewhere deep in the center, why the search for life is necessary, suicide and emigration, people are excited to hear about life, if this goes on…, the carpets seem to have their own thing going on, exactly like your world, its incestuous, Wang tiles can’t be mirrored, very depressing, here’s the problem, here’s the solution, the problem is present again, escape solipsism with reality exploration, they’re playing proceduraly generated Minecraft, like LEGO, clunky cubic architecture, making calculators and computers that run programs inside of Minecraft, the logic chain, Redstone circuits, and or gates, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, like the data tape of a Turing machine, if someone had recorded all of our button presses…, control systems, a series of button presses, home computer programming, BYTE Magazine, Ti 99/4A, most people are not going to have access to this story, The Hard SF Renaissance, Mainly Books And Reading Blog, they have their own private language, a thinking machine, its a person, very distanced from the characters, some of them look like butterflies, post-human stuff, a mirror to the world that they’re exploring, the character of Orpheus, there’s no head involved, Cyberpunk 2077, one of the things you can do in the game is you can modify your character, super-customize your character, purple skin and eight fingers per hand, robot legs, eventually you’re just a thing that was a robot, these are not the bodies of the people back on Earth, the thoughts or the Turings of the people, they have votes, nobody would every consider cheating here, the guy who used to be his own son, it is all about the head, ultimately this is a math story, distinct realms, using math to measure reality, digital vs. analog, digital people living in a digital world, stored in pattern buffers, Carter Zimmerman, exploring the physical world vs. we’ve got aliens, so meta and so Borges, a very interesting crystal fractal thing, alienating, reading about others, there’s so much character work, consciousness downloading, Robert J. Sawyer, Four Lords Of The Diamond by Jack L. Chalker, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, death is not an issue and the biggest issue that ever could be, suicide, immortality, no more copies, downloading memories, a linear existence, explored, tossed-around, really dense, a lot happening, read and listened simultaneously, a different skill, words that give you trouble, spelling, the philosophical exploration, ideas for life, back to Borges, The Library Of Babel, indefinite, infinite, standing room for sleeping, I prefer to dream, a world (not our world), what are in the books, how the world looks, the world consist of rooms, hexagonal, there is not outside world, it could be a giant circle, it could be a carpet, on that water world, some beaches somewhere, the toxic UV, out of contact with the reality of the sun, Plato’s cave creatures, no sense data, social information, a model of the internet, we could hook up webcams, so full, the naming of the planet (Orpheus), he’s despairing, that’s depressing, not a character story, a bit of nostalgia for Paul, all Paul wanted out of science fiction, characters could go hang, their world is presented clinically, they’re there, we’re distanced – like we’re scientists examining them, legitimate emotions, as much as Jesse’s emotions are legitimate, there’s no difference between actual people and fictional people?, an anthropocentric universe, the young earth creationists, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, these are the worries, the Fermi paradox, subspace chatter, why aren’t the Cardassians yelling at the Klingons, are we the first?, the only?, that’s what they’re saying, mocking, a cause for happiness, hey they discovered life on Mars again!, because there’s some methane, every fifty light years there’s a plankton sheet, fifty light years on there are ones with eyes, fifty light years beyond that there are ones with brains who worry about being alone, their hope, a twofer, a good old fashioned excuse to point to an article of November 1965 issue of Scientific American, Border Guards, David G. Hartwell, the lit crit pov, science as a symbolic construct of language, that’s part of it, are you gonna live you life playing computer games or live a real life, digital clothes for your avatar, the post-human people, the trans-human people, dump these bodies, we’re going to be digital, buy the books, the hard reality is they’re stuck in a meatbody, Kiln People by David Brin, its a metaphor for books, just shoot annoyed clones, typical Brin, I wanna play Minecraft, I left a me in the fridge, Transmetropolitan, robot slaves, you’ve got to have a plot, Raymond Kurzweil, cryonics, I can become younger, self-improvement, augmentation, nano-robot stuff, we do this, cataracts, what you’re claiming to think is consciousness, Evan Lampe, current Klingons aren’t interested in developing science, Klingons are post-human larpers, new fashion, what’s the difference between that and culture, the people who wanna be foxes, furries, unrealistic hope, you’re an ape that can swim and put on clothes and light fireplaces and collect rings, you’re not a bird, you’re not a fish, you’re definitely not going into a chrysalis and coming out a butterfly, 20 spots left in my harem, the more x chromosomes the better, if you have the fallopian tubes, we’re biological, we can’t fully transform from that, Jesse Simulator 1.2, a mistake like warp drive, that’s just gravity assist, Pandora’s Star by Peter F. Hamilton, I liked Sliders too, the farcasters in Hyperion, every room on a different planet, which planet does he choose to poop on, how many classes do we have in this story, everybody is equal except how many generation you are, suicide of emigration, what those carpets are doing, that we know of, they don’t have eyes, we come with assumptions, everything that looks at stuff have eyes, trees can detect light, designed to be depressing, these are not supposed to be humans, would you be cool with being a clone?, your clone uncle is now a butterfly, they have Wikipedia, post-scarcity, trans-humanist space journey, you can drink digital root beer and take digital photographs, another rant, AI software used in photos, HDR, slices of the reality that was there, the mark 1 eyeball, cheating, that lady who restored the painting of Jesus to look like a capuchin monkey, this is what Jesus looked like maybe, Paul’s philosophy of photography, that’s not really what you saw, the bad driving out the good, a weird overlay of reality, a watermark, a fascinating discussion, similar arguments in sports, a valid sports participant, a list of things you can’t do, using technology to enhance a performance, SPVIZ runtime, you never could, the Iwo Jima flag raising, manual photograph, choosing where to put and place the camera, it has always been the case you can’t trust the narrative, media literacy, common sense, The Invention Of Lying (2009), its a stage of human development, if I make a scary noise mom thinks I’m in pain, not everything is real, they can edit their personalities, change their dispositions in radical ways, a totalitarian state, I seem to remember that not being the case, so spotty, so useful, have the focused changed, the narrative, so meta, all those sets, if not deliberately, the story itself as part of the story, levels of a story, wholly artificial, a construction that’s interesting to look at, the appeal of sodoku, a logic exercise, a program that will do it in real time, kind of like dominoes, one sided tiles, good story, depressing story, in the Aurora sort of way, maybe that’s why there’s no photo of him, he might be a butterfly, the fundamental constants changed, the Clockwork Rocket series, what if light bends differently, the Greg Egan way.

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The SFFaudio Podcast #633 – READALONG: The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #633 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Will Emmons talk about the The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott’s idea, TBR [to be read], book 2 in a series, standalone, Culture books, a giant black hole, 10 book series, Inversions, culture tech, Transitions, the book to read, Consider Phlebas, Excession, shared universe, unsympathetic protagonist, Gurgeh, is that what we want from a main character?, being nice, reading about unpleasant people doing evil things, horrible people doing horrible things, our very few rules, flawed, spoiler rules, a spoiler and a save it for the podcast, how could you spoil that doesn’t have that content, a moral failing on Will’s part, we’re all healing, the definition of the culture, post scarcity, dangerous, Evan Lampe is very dry, honest feelings he was trying to share illegally, no laws, social customs, sincere, a serious book, not just entertainment, serious ideas, its both, political philosophy, up against a galactic empire, aimed in his sights, the ending, an inferno of fire, science fictional empires are not the target, what ruling class is like, the Epstein stuff, the private island, the blackmail, deviations we want to do, games, if you want a house, with no money and no possessions, gambling, no money or excess money, throughout the book, about economics, if games have options to make the stakes higher Jesse always wants it, Enemy Territory, friendly fire on, one life to live, no respawns, Roguelikes, Ironman Mode, gluttons for punishment, a legitimate game, a game within my own game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the excitement of potential loss or even ruin, a further extreme, good at exploring the topic its talking about, the player is getting played (by everyone), he’s playing himself, a really good book and a really bad book, why people like reading the series, Luke Burrage talking about this series, feeding the wrong part of my brain, the comforting stuff, a utopia, a fake utopia, the Culture is Heaven, everybody has a guardian angel, under the cloak of science fiction, Banks is using rules, lightspeed rules, people without a terminal, they send a rocket to save you, designed to be heaven, ooh its so fun, its like a rot, its a bad apple, its like satire, where we’re headed, so incredibly great, if you one and done it, a little more tongue in cheek, the impossibility he’s playing with, poked fun of, he’s doing it, he’s having his cake and eating it too, everybody who wants to change genders whenever they want to, you can have anything you want, the bullshit is consistent (therefore interesting), book after book set in the same place, Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, outside the ship problems, the coziness of The Next Generation, its a TV show, they’re dealing with it in an hour or 40 minutes, this is soaking in it, dangerous, they’re striving, a satire of a goal, Gulliver’s Travels is a satire of us, Gulliver’s Travels 2: The New Boogaloo, make money, its a good book, the tendencies in it are towards series, Jesse can blame Iain Banks, I was just following the trends, a writer’s gotta eat, in the culture he wouldn’t have written other culture books, is the culture a satire of itself?, yes, projecting his own values, what’s he’s good at, what’s useful about this book, criticism of the results of that kind of society, an anarchist or libertarian communist society, there’s no king, the tyranny of structurelessness, they’re benign, this is God, what about when earthquakes happen and babies die, doing a satire, relishing the experience of satirizing, the tendrils, the seduction, like reading Lord Of The Rings, its fun to go to Bree, benignant, conquering vs. toppling vs. annexing, regime changing, because they’re good, Gaddafi is a bad man, they need to be liberated, the drone, the horror that capitalism has wrought, mercantilism, bamboozles, blackmailed, secret police, they tricked one of their pets into doing a show, he suspects, puppetting, annoying, cast out of heaven, I had to steal the money otherwise I would be embarrassed, they played him, snookered, the fun-house mirror of the empire, the empire is more honest, naked power structures, a benign autocracy, he volunteered, the pushing is so wimpy, he wants to get invited to parties, he would lose his status, labeled as a cheater, he would get fewer papers published, he’s convinced to go, it was still his choice, he might kill himself if he was revealed, they’re going to make it your choice, that’s why we’re pets, our own enslavement to them, we’ve done it to ourselves, no civic virtue, a spy service, the super powerful people manipulate the weak people, he’s got PTSD, he lives in a cushion, ground fine, he gets sacrificed, another series that ran way to long, the journey was worthwhile, Ringworld, Louis Wu was tricked into doing what he wants, the luckiest girl on the planet, a big dumb object vs. our contemporary planet, three sexes, really its Earth, customs, a culture, friendly (not an empire), they kill you with kindness, physically worse things, King Midas, he got overexcited about the one thing he was passionate about, what are you gonna do in a society, go into games and live there, living to play, you gotta go build some LEGO, creative work, art, he knows what he’s doing, really smart, like Charles Stross plus Larry Niven plus Olaf Stapledon, well expressed, he ended up seducing himself, why Jesse avoided it in the first place, worth studying, Will has endless time, the whole Babysitter’s Club, Shelfwear, the Starship series by Mike Resnick, lotta good dead writers, Star Trek with Captain Kirk saying fuck the federation, succulent, more like Horatio Hornblower, he can’t keep writing and make me read more of them, the prequel to The Lord Of The Rings TV series, exploration of post-scarcity, this is not achievable, ship-bound, the black black sky, the kids equivalent of ten forward, you want to have your family with you, almost killed every episode, that move is interesting, privileging audiobooks over TV shows, Jesse might be snobbish, novellas and novelettes were the perfect length for science fiction, idea fiction, Olaf Stapledon wrote books not novels, this is a good book, soak in the playing of the game, the meta-game, a lot of gold, books are incredibly powerful, danger manifesting, misunderstanding of reality, this is not a heroic age, the individual is obsolete, no one person can have any real effect anymore, a terrible heaven, you go up into the sky you sit on a cloud and play a harp, he is empty, succumbs to the temptation, Paul’s totally right, they seem a lot like children, university people in our society, neuroses, a new type of brain, change your brain chemistry, a total lack of meaning in your life, an indictment, in the context of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, useful aspects of socialism, it shares a flaw, both novels fail to consider the emotional political and moral hazards, the polity in the Culture is less naive, a hundred years of thinking about utopias, a response to Looking Backward, our rosy heavenly future, the fringes of the Culture, seems kind of slow, he gets his own ship, drones are like regular people, put to sleep for seven hundred years, I’ll wait a couple years and get Use Of Weapons, the frontiers of utopia, if this was a one and done book, it feels good, some importance, he got seduced, read about series books, Jesse has read a fuckton of science fiction, meta-textual evidence, why didn’t Jesse pick up Iain M. Banks before this, State Of The Art audio drama, Jesse had a feeling it would be what it is, what people are saying about a book, looking for excuses not to read something (to read something in its place), something of value, you’ve heard how that director works, you can suss out what movies are worthy of your attention, 1988, still of value, much in favour of series, coming at it from a writerly perspective, super-smooth writing, more of a grift, Jesse doesn’t want to be comfortable, Looking Backward is lame in many ways, it leaves out race, black people not mentioned at all, huge massive flaw, its not comforting, Jesse doesn’t want to be comforted, I’m shaken to my core, the story, thought provoking, goals, your phone, are they really making your life better, you have a really good time in Los Vegas, whaddaya say wifey?, spoken highly of, highly regarded, go to Rome have a great time, you don’t live in the Culture, a money aspect, more though provoking stuff, audiobooks out quite early, Peter Kenny, a long book, 16.5 hours, a meditation on all games, something to think about, a phenomenon happening under the sun, all reality is a game, by being unknowable, the possibility of change, victory, time is one of the rules, The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt, Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick, what games are and what they mean, Fair Game, sending board games to the Earth, Monopoly, The Game Players Of Titan, real estate developers, stock market, they can do whatever they want, rules for the plebs and rules for us, punished by the emperor, the rules are overthrown, you become the emperor, education and taking tests, help students game the tests, the SAT, how the Chinese government has run itself for the last 5,000 years, something to be worried about, a masterful job, a solid take on what gaming is and the motivation behind it, Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Night, modern 2020 politics, giving healthcare to everybody, way cheaper, Machine, James White’s Sector General novels, plenty of AIs, taking on Iain Banks, the genre conversation, if this Iain M. Banks goes on…, Architects Of Memory by Karen Osborne, meta thinking, evocative and fecund, psychological realism, when the apex who had made the body bet realized he was going to lose, really fruitful, the kinds of things you do to make the world a better place, a regular dude, somebody’s in charge, that spaceship, surplus from the war, what is Iain M. Banks trying to say here, if you wanted to make an informed decision, spy novelists, supporting a cultural boycott of Israel, South Africa, an international solidarity activist, a political Douglas Adams, his intellect is in the same area, Monty Python-esque fatalism, trying to intellectualize his way out of it, making really solid points, that dangerous word again, Paul doesn’t agree with the word “danger”, Communist Manifesto is only a book, Mein Kampf only a book, interesting but not important, a guidebook kind of, a fountainhead, a prose poem, avoiding writing, it feels like there could have been something more, life in the Culture, amuse yourself for three hundred years and then get shot into the sun by your own choice, no difference in the brains, they’re all people, othering robots, bringing them down to their level, can you have a benign heaven with a god who isn’t smarter than you?, they don’t run heaven, impinging on Scott territory, a secularization of heaven, reading for pleasure is a seduction, what will result if you gave into that temptation, making a reading choice is not political, reading a series is not good, the decline, market forces, realpolitik and economics, not the ideal, Paul is making Jesse’s argument for him, Beggars In Spain is an evil book, Nancy Kress, she’s chosen the darkside, made horrible consequences palatable, a novel like Starmaker, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Jesse’s criticism of series is well grounded, more enriching, widely and deeply, perilous, words are powerful Paul, Paul wants an off-ramp for a first book in a series, lure, feeling this stress, its okay to make it addictive, when did Dan Simmons jump the shark?, Olympos, the analogy, from series lasting too long, compelling you to read more, a nefarious thing, how Lost sucked so many TV show people in, enamoured with his idea, detective books, literary fiction, very impressive, a high complement, why series happen, we elect a really good king, four more year for you King, a few dynasties go by and we’re chopping people’s heads off, at the risk of provoking Jesse to keep going, adverse consequences, Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny, its the meta-game, a playground in which he can do satire forever, why Tom Clancy is still producing from beyond the grave, ownership, Neil Gaiman doesn’t milk, don’t read the first volume, the horror host, more like The Twilight Zone, Anansi Boys, whatabout this?, you already did that bud, A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, break em in half, a reversal, please don’t annex us, we recommend, the dangers involved, he’s ultimately won over to the Culture, choose to become a robot, that’s what people want, how dear he, he’s very wise in his book writing decisions, the paths we set our feet down, make a rule for yourself make a rule for everybody, the categorical imperative, Immanuel Kant, is it okay for me to kill?, is it okay for me to lie to my kids?, its for everybody, a case by case basis, he didn’t want to keep writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide books, you keep using that word, he has no respawn, he got two series, he was a big brain, we’re way over on the tipping scale, all I want is healthcare, what’s the right word? [silence] The Last Dangerous Visions, J. Michael Straczynski, regular visions, vague visions, one last significant work by Harlan Ellison, the executor for the estate, those middle seasons of Babylon 5 were so good, a half-assed 2 actors and a greenscreen.

The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #467 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #467 – Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (14 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
A Tale Of Fear, Weird Tales, October 1938, Frank Belknap Long, Who Fears the Devil, Silver John, proto-hippy wandering balladeer, the Lovecraft circle, The Werewolf Snarls, so short, an odd ending for a Weird Tales story, anthologies of horror, feeling familiar, the fears of a ten year old boy, manufacturing a memory, weird dreams, false echoings, lucid dreaming, that wasn’t real, The Thing In The Cellar by David H. Keller, A Message From The Pig-man by John Wain, the short film, short films on Netflix, calling card, is he actually an orphan?, local politics, he wants to be a deep sea diver, the Encyclopedia Britannica, a thing, two things going on, a monster, see it and feel it, looking for something to read, the suspense, strange ideas, still living your life, comic books, It by Stephen King, Summer Of Fear by Dan Simmons, no one listens to me, tension, having to man up, a heavy handed symbol for a coming of age, page 494, night after night, week after week, the thing and its fear, mid-summer, it did not wait, he can’t put it off anymore, weird psychology, a symmetry, Marissa, [The THING] Up Under The Roof, John Carpenter’s The Thing, it and them and they, the first hook, get fire, face the fear that’s in there, like a pirate, he shuffles around, his imagination is really what the thing is, there’s absolutely no monster, conjured by imagination, a true story, the last two paragraphs, “I found nothing.”, the had been something, mortal peril, sleeping soundly, not even in the war, WWI, going over the top, the lurking dread, Wonder Woman (2017), the worst war for scariness, Doctor Who, The War Games, Genesis Of The Daleks, Forgotten Weapons, Skaro, the mutations, the Kaleds, what happened to Davros?, moral degeneration, the slave system, V2 slave labour, Sarah Jane Smith, a heavy dose of radiation, starved of oxygen, digging up old stuff, special effect and in the moment, Radio 4, Wrath Of The Iceni, Energy Of The Daleks, Trail Of The White Worm, Leela, in facing it he dispelled it, facing fears, is the creature real real?, sometimes stories just work, 100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories edited by Al Sarrantonio and Martin H. Greenberg, horror, dread, other dwellers, a terrible beating, pulping my face, tongue-lashed, scolded, no one can help him, Great Depression era orphans, Dickensian, an orphanage?, we sympathize, he’s a reader, the downstairs parlour was Heaven, Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia, hating school, a die-hard reader, aardvark, amoeba, sounded as an amoeba looks, rolling and flowing, scared himself, ceiling cat, reversing the horror of his life, a power story, Jung or a Jungian disciple, ‘angels monster gods and demons may not exist but the human mind behaves as if they do’, wonderfully evocative, wrong-footing your perception, when it comes down, it would wait no longer, it would flow, bullies, if you’re fearless it works to your advantage, creep into bed with me, a cold dog who wants to snuggle up, what colour it was, almost sexual?, crossing a line, scared in bed, sticking your head under the blankets, totemic blankets, something primal, cocooning yourself away, I care not for your blanket protection small child, school shootings, arm the teachers, giving bullet-proof blankets to children, a beautiful metaphor: a cold determination came like new sawdust poured into an empty doll, like Gepetto’s puppet (Pinocchio), this is what made me, what was necessary, a character defining moment, like a pirate’s dirk, deeper into the darkness, clearing the whole space, he becomes the thing, a horror show, he made it!, so freaky, a reversal, he’s under the microscope, it can see him but he can’t see it, very Dungeons & Dragons, Lurkers Above, Grey Oozes, Gelatinous Cube, you gotta clean the dungeon somehow, a power play, mirrors, there’s something down there, a moment of contact, if I’m dead anyway, Wellman’s biography, moving around, suggesting how someone’s life will go, trained for the law or the ministry, an adventurer, deep-sea diver is kind of like astronaut, making your own way, old books, commercial divers, the bad guys in Scooby-Doo episodes with big brass helmets.

House Of Secrets #126

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #308 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain

Podcast

A Double Barrelled Detective Story
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #308 – A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain; read by John Greenman. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 58 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Paul Weimer.

Talked about on today’s show:
January and February 1902, a one man machine, why don’t people like this story, acerbic humour, puncturing sacred cows (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes), chance and chaos vs. logic and reason, Tom Sawyer, Detective, Mark Twain’s detective fiction, real life detectives are completely incompetent, Pinkertons, corruption, early private detectives as upholding the system, post-WWII detectives, noir, an uneasy triangle, a rogue agent for justice, how ridiculous Sherlock Holmes is, Sherlock Holmes’s brother runs the British government?, Sherlock does the retail and Mycroft does the wholesale, The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother (1975) , Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), if Watson is not there to tell us…, Without A Clue (1988), humble-bragging, the crime doctor, Remington Steele, when the miners deflate Sherlock Holmes, oh yes he’s died many times, the smell of the grave, yet another revival, The Hound Of The Baskervilles, San Bernardino, unkillable, unstaydeadable, how meta this story was, “the great detective narratives”, one of Twain’s autobiographies,

It was a crisp and spicy morning in early October. The lilacs and laburnums, lit with the glory-fires of autumn, hung burning and flashing in the upper air, a fairy bridge provided by kind Nature for the wingless wild things that have their homes in the tree-tops and would visit together; the larch and the pomegranate flung their purple and yellow flames in brilliant broad splashes along the slanting sweep of the woodland; the sensuous fragrance of innumerable deciduous flowers rose upon the swooning atmosphere; far in the empty sky a solitary oesophagus slept upon motionless wing; everywhere brooded stillness, serenity, and the peace of God.

is that a typo?, so many readers didn’t see they were being made fun of, we eat so much bullshit, a parody of everything, epistolary writing, perspective change, the shotgun approach to satire, Fetlock Jones, an obscure English Christan name, pain for all eternity, Melbourne, a travelogue, the great detectives were monsters hounding innocent people, the expectations of the townspeople and the reader, the movements of Holmes’ hands, ravaged by bloodhounds, a superpower, a superhero, the 1965 movie adaptation, a miscreant boss, marriage, revenge, Sherlock Holmes’ American adventures, The Valley Of Fear is a Sherlock Holmes story that begins and ends with Holmes in his bathrobe, The Five Orange Pips, the KKK!, Doyle’s embarrassment by Holmes, Hard Case Crime, a youthful embarrassment, Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014), Galaxy Quest (1999), fan service,

“What a curious thing a detective story is, was there ever one that the author needn’t be ashamed of, except Murders In The Rue Morgue?”

C. Auguste Dupin, earlier detective stories, The Dog And The Horse by Voltaire, Zadig’s super-observance, punishment for honesty, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, Drood by Dan Simmons, Moonmist, Infocom, Agatha Christie, Doctor Who: The Unicorn And The Wasp, Tommy and Tuppence, The Pretender, UPN, Brandon Sanderson, the mystery story, as readers of Sherlock Holmes we feel that we could be like Sherlock Holmes, finger stains and muddy boots and walking sticks with bite marks from Alsatians, Ham Sandwich, Wells Fargo, training you powers of deduction, The Librarian TV movies and The Librarians TV series, a superpower that real people (think) they could have, Doyle’s story on the origin of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Joseph Bell ding ding ding, Murder Rooms, instant diagnosis of disease, predictions vs. diagnosis, web M.D., gout!, Benjamin Franklin, House, M.D., The Talons of Weng-Chiang, The Aluminum Crutch, The Giant Rat Of Sumatra, bad special effects and great writing is preferable to good special effects and shit writing, a little more juice, Murdoch Mysteries (Season 8, Episode 6: “The Murdoch Appreciation Society”), a parallel to the Twain novel, the many cameos by historical figures, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, how interesting the time period was, telegraph technology, the attention to detail is very high, modern Doctor Who elevates relationships over facts about history whereas historical facts are foremost in the Murdoch Mysteries, The Newsroom, as we gain perspective on history…, we know what was going on 100 years ago, why Jesse hates modern Doctor Who, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Corey Carrier’s Indiana Jones, seeing Ernest Hemingway over time, the belle epoch

Stillman accuses Sherlock Holmes (1903) illustration by F. Luis Mora

A Double Barrelled Detective Story by Mark Twain - Stillman Accuses Sherlock Holmes

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Ilium by Dan Simmons

SFFaudio Review

Ilium by Dan SimmonsIlium (Ilium #1)
By Dan Simmons; Narrated by Kevin Pariseau
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
[UNABRIDGED] – 25 Discs; 30 hours
Themes: / Mars / gods / ancient Greece / scholars / Shakespeare / fantasy /
Publisher summary:
From the towering heights of Olympos Mons on Mars, the mighty Zeus and his immortal family of gods, goddesses, and demigods look down upon a momentous battle, observing—and often influencing—the legendary exploits of Paris, Achilles, Hector, Odysseus, and the clashing armies of Greece and Troy.Thomas Hockenberry, former 21st-century professor and Iliad scholar, watches as well. It is Hockenberry’s duty to observe and report on the Trojan War’s progress to the so-called deities who saw fit to return him from the dead. But the muse he serves has a new assignment for the wary scholic, one dictated by Aphrodite herself.With the help of 40th-century technology, Hockenberry is to infiltrate Olympos, spy on its divine inhabitants…and ultimately destroy Aphrodite’s sister and rival, the goddess Pallas Athena. On an Earth profoundly changed since the departure of the Post-Humans centuries earlier, the great events on the bloody plains of Ilium serve as mere entertainment.Its scenes of unrivaled heroics and unequaled carnage add excitement to human lives devoid of courage, strife, labor, and purpose. But this eloi-like existence is not enough for Harman, a man in the last year of his last 20. That rarest of post-postmodern men—an ‘adventurer’—he intends to explore far beyond the boundaries of his world before his allotted time expires, in search of a lost past, a devastating truth, and an escape from his own inevitable ‘final fax.’ Meanwhile, from the radiation-swept reaches of Jovian space, four sentient machines race to investigate—and, perhaps, terminate—the potentially catastrophic emissions of unexplained quantum-flux emanating from a mountaintop miles above the terraformed surface of Mars.

If someone were to describe this book to me (if they even could), I don’t know if I would believe how much I absolutely enjoyed it. Dan Simmons is a mad genius.

Shakespeare-quoting humanoid robots, Greek Gods, post-humans, and old-style humans somehow make the craziest awesome story imaginable.

Ilium is a story told through essentially three unrelated viewpoints. First, there’s Hockenberry. This is told in first person. Hockenberry is called a “Scholic,” a human from our the 20th century (our time) who was rebirthed in a future where Homer’s Trojan War is being fought. His job is to report on the war … to the Greek Gods.

At first, this is completely confusing. Why? is a question I asked myself over and over, but it begins to make sense with time. Plus, it’s hard not to be fascinated with the events of the Iliad. It’s also impressive how much research went into it, though that’s only an assumption since my knowledge of the Trojan War is essentially from the movie, Troy (but I have read the Odyssey!).

The second viewpoint is the humans, mainly Daemon. Daemon is a self-involved fool who is unlikeable to say the least. But who wouldn’t be when you have everything handed to you on a silver platter by robots called servitors (sp – I did listen to the audio so forgive me), like all humans everywhere. Pleasure is their life, knowledge … is lacking.

The third viewpoint is that of a sonnet-loving humanoid robot called a “moravec” and named Mahnmut. Specifically, and only, Shakespeare’s sonnets. It’s work consists of exploring the moon of Jupiter called Europa. Mahnmut is called in on a mission with a group of moravecs to explore some occurrences on the planet mars.

At first, I was highly entertained, though confused, with the events of the Trojan war and the other parts were just above boring. Slowly, the story takes hold and it had me hook, line, and sinker.

Listening to the audiobook, I was looking forward to my morning and evening drives and not too sad to do errands on my lunch hour either. Somehow, it ALL makes sense even though it sounds like the oddest collection of classics to make up a cohesive story all its own. What does Shakespeare have to do with the Iliad or Proust (his work makes appearances too) for that matter, all set in the future with technology that gives humans everything they ever want or need?

It’s crazy I tell ya. Crazy! How did I like this book this much? I’m telling you, Simmons is a mad genius. I will just sit back and let him take me on his journey. It’s amazing. I question not.

Kevin Pariseau is the narrator of this audiobook and while at first I thought he over-acted the part of Hockenberry, though somehow not the other parts, I really grew to like him and found out that it was literally just the character of Hockenberry that he was playing. And it’s impressive given how many Greek words and names he’s got to …erm… name.

The only problem is that Ilium is only half the story. It stops at a huge cliffhanger and I’m already heading to Olympos to see how this ends.

5 out of 5 Stars (Mind … blown)

Posted by Bryce L.