The SFFaudio Podcast #692 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures Of Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #692 – Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures Of Caleb Williams by William Godwin – read by Bev J Stevens, for LibriVox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of novel (16 hours 37 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Bryan Alexander

Talked about on today’s show:
1794, consistently mentioned, extensive shownotes, 2013, “The Modern Prometheus” or Frankenstein, Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown, 9 years of hint, The Star King by Jack Vance, favourite novel or favourite book?, sportsball human named Caleb Williams, Oklahoma Sooners, an evil plan to make us stupider, where everybody lives, how tall or how much money does Caleb Williams make, Google sponsoring Worldcon, the connection to Frankenstein, four people, woho would the first family of British letters (but their politics is too upsetting), anarchist political philosophy, Political Justice by William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, The Last Man, Percy Shelly, one of the greatest poets of all time, their politics are so uncomfortable, vegetarian scary feminist, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, The Stress Of Her Regard, neutered their reputations, Percy Shelly as a nature poet, a rich and exciting book, the sentences are long, a cat just climbed on Bryan, better on the page, a really fun book, written in reverse, Dickens wrote a note to Poe to that effect, the fun stuff, very John Buchan-y, escape, Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, crime novel, a thriller novel, chase and escape, one man against the state, a detective story, Hamlet, curiosity, a classic tragedy, a Jacobean revenge tragedy, all those modalities, a gothic layer, a doppelganger story, weird tweets, Arthur Mervyn by Charles Brockden Brown, tasting Godwin, teaching a course on those four writers would be a dream course, Women’s Studies/History, connecting these writers with the French Revolution, The Rights Of Man by Thomas Paine, trying not to think about the 1790s, The Making Of The British Working Class by E.P. Thompson, 1810-1815, Ireland was invaded by France in 1797, the nine years war, its not popular, going against what the British like to think about themselves, practicing colonialism on their neighbour, the Easter Rising, WWI, rebellion and mutiny in the British Navy, a continental story, Napoleon, republic is a good idea, incendiary, The REVOLUTIONS Podcast, Queen Victoria’s guillotine nightmares, echoes in Political Justice, this is all messed up, our reliance on hierarchy and authority, the alternate ending (the bleak one), insane in prison, dire notes, true happiness lies in being like a stone (a grave stone), all caps and exclamation marks, literally radical stuff, alternate takes, a shirt nobody with recognize, correct or semi-correct, hot take, a woman fleeing a castle, a thinly veiled reboot, landlord lord boss, the mother in the attic or the kid in the trunk, a homoerotic or homosocial relationship, a classic heterosexual triangle, the young bride and the evil spouse, everybody is corrupted by the villain, local criminal gangs are corrupted, Mrs. Radcliffe, an anarchist book, so tame and so subtle, his starting position is internal, I have to chop of my understanding, things as they are maybe aint so great, set in Naziland, uts okay to kill Hitler, but not okay to say the British power system is corrupt, don’t steal from everybody, the preface being to risque for the publisher, zero out of ten, very hard to read, that person’s not getting it, old books are different from the style we have today, modes and trends and styles of fiction, too trusting, transformed, resigned, meta-ness, escaping into books, becoming a publisher of books, hiding as a Jew, copying their manners, that’s really cool, a way of escaping the godlike detective agency, every man’s hand is against him, a series of veils being lifted, Jews live in a ghetto, trigger, there’s a lot of torture in this book, what’s my duty, what’s my responsibility, denied light and heat, ruffians, manacled, hounded, living you misery, he can’t seem to flee, emigrate, get away from this nutty landlord, not the best plan, a relatively honest person, stealing money, the worst blackguard in all of England, a literary reflection, Tony Blair is getting another knighthood and Julian Assange is being extradited for treason to a country he is not a citizen of, an avatar for how people should act, joins the criminal gang, a cop and a criminal, a thief taker and a thief, you can be moral within yourself and not worry about the laws, or you can worry about what the laws are and bend to the will of liege lords and masters, we see this lesson again and again, an old guy with a ruddy face and white of lock, oh you’re the guy who insulted that leige lord, Ferdinando Falkland, held in such high regard, he can do no wrong, celebrities, people who own the means of communications, worldcon photography sessions, putting money into speech and putting thoughts into people’s heads, regrounding ourselves by making individual foundations, to throw you off the scent, an all in good fun game, he’s had a revolution within himself, he can’t steal, writing and selling your ideas for whatever meager living that gives you is the way, The Castle Of Otranto, what do you do next?, the novel is about consciousness raising, the next step, education, women are reading these stupid books [Jane Austen], universal compulsory education, The Future Trends Forum, climate change, unhappy cats, think better/act better, the solution is more education, Taiwan and China, the answer to social problems is always education (and never guillotines), we are severely educating the population, education is the solution to a lot of these things, the product of it [education], the mid-19th century, Marx and Engels, more unions, assassinations (propaganda of the deed), a one man army, How To Blow Up A Pipeline by Andreas Malm, all bets are off, extreme measures, Lenin’s war communism, “how things could be” (the sequel), it can’t be institutional, there’s something wrong with institutions at their heart, the justice system is beyond redemption, education is the answer but not institutional education, an 18th century version of The Wire, everyone is in the game, ennui, hate the game not the player, a rebuke, marriage, married largely for show, for her reputation, “Mary Junior”, stupid medical care, a lethal idea, which title do you use?, into the 18th century, a classic plot, lords, Bryan had his students play a role playing game about the Luddite rebellion, I get to be the bailiff, I got the cudgel, a Stanford experiment gone wrong, built into a hero, noble, smart, cultured, trying to stop a fire, 18th century life, why its so sad that Falkland becomes a villain, Justine gets in legal trouble because of the monster’s actions [in Frankenstein], reading it backwards, theatre of calamity, tyranny, is a tyrant a bad ruler or an illiterate rulers?, Declaration Of Independence language, William Blake’s America: A Prophecy, Edmund Burke, execrated my name, reputation, pulp fiction horror thing, writing is embarrassing, Anne Radcliffe, I didn’t write this I found it in a weird monastery in Italy, every praragraph sets up bit by bit, like a table of contents, post script:

Why should my reflections perpetually centre upon myself?—self, an overweening regard to which has been the source of my errors! Falkland, I will think only of thee, and from that thought will draw ever-fresh nourishment for my sorrows! One generous, one disinterested tear I will consecrate to thy ashes! A nobler spirit lived not among the sons of men. Thy intellectual powers were truly sublime, and thy bosom burned with a god-like ambition. But of what use are talents and sentiments in the corrupt wilderness of human society? It is a rank and rotten soil, from which every finer shrub draws poison as it grows. All that, in a happier field and a purer air, would expand into virtue and germinate into usefulness, is thus concerted into henbane and deadly nightshade.

insight through a dream:

Dreamt I had to attend a faculty meeting because I was unaware of what we were going to do about the people sent to troll us during the final examination. We’d be moving the university off planet – but the dimbulbs and corporate flacks were people too and they didn’t seem to get they were going to die. The low tier adult children were around now, but what would happen when we moved off planet? They were not assigned seats, at least not yet, and nobody seemed to be looking out for their interests. When I finally got to speak [on] this issue the chair did a silent scream in response. Which was utterly understandable. [there] was still hope their respective senders, two corporations, a small island nation, and a religious organization might send a budget for them prior to launch. I was still worried. On my way out of the meeting one of their number was making a mess and two others doing acts of public indecency (which would be more acceptable if they grokked the gravity of their existential plight). With nothing yet resolved I walked by then into the maker building where the maker collective was busily winding down their own far less formal meeting. I toured their facility and saw and recognized the results of several projects I’d seen them create and toured their funky display space – which had recently been updated – and talked with one of my favourite creators – who was not as popular as many others in the collective, but who was well respected for the seriousness with which he advanced the state of the humour arts. Still shook from the prospect of seeing people left behind I went to the on campus pizza place. What were we gonna do?”

the way this book is positioned is the anti-deplorables condemnation, a revolutionary czar, he wants nobody to be hung for anything, moral crimes, legal crimes, the reason they’re bad, that’s the way they were made, we need to fix things, not writing people off, all the good people are on my side, we need to make this a personal choice, a personal revolution, trying to drag all the people who are reading the book, what its like to be punished for doing no wrong, always making it personal, having revelations of how things are given to him, when she gets arrested, it would be better for me not to have done anything, not a guillotine book, lets think on this thing together, come together and be friends, bound up in his reputation, your focusing on the wrong part, it isn’t about with a name its character with a personality, how to be in the world, a precursor to a utopian novel, The Fugitive, Les Misérables [by Victor Hugo], The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, I have No Mouth And I Must Scream [by Harlan Ellison], fear of embarrassment, Ghislaine Maxwell trial, Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew, we just can’t allow this, what we are as beings, growing literacy, rumour opinion, face and losing face, the doppleganger idea, dopplegangers are almost always lethal, reading the doppleganger’s story from the other side, I now have no character I wish to vindicate, a half told and mangled tale, he’s done, he’s William Wilson [Edgar Allan Poe], the Jane Austen comedy of manners, Jeremy Bentham, panopticon, Volume 3 Chapter 6, extreme verbal violence:

I now took it for granted that I was once more in the power of Mr. Falkland; and the idea was insupportably mortifying and oppressive to my imagination. Escape from his pursuit, freedom from his tyranny, were objects upon which my whole soul was bent. Could no human ingenuity and exertion effect them? Did his power reach through all space, and his eye penetrate every concealment? Was he like that mysterious being, to protect us from whose fierce revenge mountains and hills, we are told, might fall on us in vain? No idea is more heart-sickening and tremendous than this.

is he God?, lyrical, keep being revealed the conspiracy, literally true of the world, outside Julian Assange’s prison, cars full of cops, CIA literally plotting to assassinate him, they were embarrassed, make an example, the CIA was laughing at the State Department, agents all over the British isles, had you stepped on a ship there, a broken figure, barely alive, very convincing, I don’t want to be a Falkland, only a personal political solution, we have to call things as they are as we see them, we lie, we obfuscate, we do it for profit, playmobil Scooby Doo TIKI, tropical trees, a guy wearing a mask, Scooby Doo is very gothic, voodoo, you can’t use that because someone would be upset, Lego Magical Caravan is not cultural appropriation,

LEGO “Magical Caravan” is not cultural appropriation because the vardo wagon and bender tent complete with crystal ball is all euphemismed away so as to be simply a “magical caravan” with no cultural specificity, you see

“Charming details

The horse-drawn caravan is brimming with traditional features, such as cute latticework shutters and an old-fashioned lantern. The roof is side-hinged to allow kids to explore the living quarters. Inside they’ll find a bed, a kitchen with a stove and…

a table they can eat around. They can then care for the horse or play with the owl. In the tent is a crystal ball. Controlled by a twisting function, it spins to reveal Mia’s future. Kids can choose whether it lands on a sad face or a happy face or simply let fate decide”

a gypsy wagon, I wanna see the names so I have knowledge, whitewashed or anonymized, this attractive concept, they can’t name it for what it is, sail back dinosaur, Queen Of The Black Coast by Robert E. Howard, there are black people on the boat, Belit’s commanding non-blacks makes it non-problematic, not allowing speech to be said, by making nobody unhappy we’re making everybody happy <- is the theory, objecting things to showing things as they are, arrested for a crime he didn't commit, everybody is corrupt all the way up and all the way down, here I am I can be no other (and he disappears), I was told this was an anarchist book, where's the anarchism?, revolution from within, but it didn't work, William Morris and his crew, 100 years later, a similar expression, long, his wallpaper becomes popular, the Stickley furniture, craftsman’s houses, Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, there’s no escape, acts of terror get people’s attention, unintended effects, drone attacks, The Ministry Of The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, kidnap people from Davos and make them watch powerpoints, a panic over beef, killings and property damage, killing the Czar is the big success, Alexander Berkman blasting Henry Clay Frick, Falkland’s power is too big, Caleb is a cool guy, a chameleon, a publisher, a criminal, a personal assistant, too much, its overwhelming, justice might grind out the occasional victory, Ferdinando Falkland, when he flips out, he goes insane, detested, if it were in my power, things are not so bad as you imagine, range, genteel country squire, fits of insanity, Byronic villain hero, 18th century hero to romantic villain, literary merit, dramatist personae, more useful in a paperback, Arcadian, old hag, housekeeper, 2020s, the role of women in books and what it says about the character of the writer of the book, the bad guy in the band, stab him with a clever, demonically strong, bewildered, how to be, how to respond to the world as it is, more wild less educated, cooking and cleaning and making a person like her, experience not unlike this, avoid being physically injured, some violent person, how do we deal, she informs, going to bring down the gang, they should reform, Caleb Williams mirror without formal education, their own rustic knowledge, vernacular intuition, somehow subverted by the system, eaten the propaganda, all the encounters he has are focused on teaching us something, pedagogical or exploratory, it doesn’t have any answers, News From Nowhere, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, how bad patriarchy is, how much, Britain is the last country to figure out that novels exist, very realistic, about class, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Evan’s escape, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, probing and sketching, Pamela, views and sketches of British life, clear dystopia, where it could have gone, broke a whole bunch of ground, good book, making apologies, they’re doing stuff very differently than the way we would do it, the conscience of the king, who am I supposed to root for here everyone is terrible, Caleb you idiot, I can explain, good character writing, the double has to be the double, the biggest objection (a Louisiana thing), it was just the one murder, who hasn’t?, Quantum Of Nightmares by Charles Stross, Caleb as victim of broadsheet cancel culture, penny dreadfuls, the meta-stuff, writing about the things that he knows, a book he finds is The Adventures Of Caleb Williams, sent to Cancelvania, resonance today, so disreputable you can’t listen to anything he says, acts of public indecency, does Williams lie?, putting on an accent isn’t lying, taking alternate or no name as a writer, what lying, or does anything really immoral?, an excuse, saving his masters papers, his one sin, he broke into it, his job is to save those papers, his motivation was wrong, close to the line, a confession, he breaks into it, guilty of the opposite of lying (too honest), pressing him, as an ancestor to detective fiction, social awkward detectives (Holmes and Nero Wolfe), if Caleb had an Archie Goodwin, a Law & Order series, Asperger’s detective with his minder, Tyrell and Falkland, why are they obsessing over me, turning a good person to evil, an orphan, broke, almost homeless, feeling guilty, in contrast to the bitter hag, a Buddhist enlightened figure, we could all go that way, the captain is kindly, cruel to animals!, they don’t live under the law, snitch, the appeal to outer authority is a shit move, physical violence in the school yard, the relationship kids have to principals, teachers and parents, prison guards and wardens, the logic works, knuckling to their authority, anarchistic at its heart, why he doesn’t want to inform, Falkland stands in for the state, he’s a justice of the peace, the stand in for institutions, penetrating society, Philip K. Dick, the black iron prison of our institutions, perverted loyalty, to do a false accusation, strongly infers, repress and control, you will never leave my service, What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?, The Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, dead or a prostitute, gothic romances from the 1960s, women with great hair fleeing a house with a high lit window at night, Caleba Williams, a pregnant prostitute, just find a suitable marriage, test the character of your potential husband, the end of Wall-E (2008), Down And Out In The Year 2000 by Kim Stanley Robinson, suffering cyberpunks in Washington, D.C., the author made the fire,

My mind was already raised to its utmost pitch. In a window-seat of the room lay a number of chisels and other carpenter’s tools. I know not what infatuation instantaneously seized me. The idea was too powerful to be resisted. I forgot the business upon which I came, the employment of the servants, and the urgency of general danger. I should have done the same if the flames that seemed to extend as they proceeded, and already surmounted the house, had reached this very apartment. I snatched a tool suitable for the purpose, threw myself upon the ground, and applied with eagerness to a magazine which inclosed all for which my heart panted. After two or three efforts, in which the energy of uncontrollable passion was added to my bodily strength, the fastenings gave way, the trunk opened, and all that I sought was at once within my reach.

then a gun is pointed to his head, a Bluebeard story, sins are not in thought, this is the excuse I’ve needed, take the things to safety, he was a scrivener, at every opportunity to lie he does not, lying to the F.B.I. is illegal, the only thing we shouldn’t do to mom and dad, computer game logic, handy tools, fire, a repetition, fire scenes become drama is heightened up, Eric S. Rabkin, Psychoanalysis Of Fire by Gaston Bachelard, fire is literally illumination, symbolically too, Saul becomes Paul because of light, the MacGuffin opened up for us to see, an action movie, Pulp Fiction (1994), the Blade Runner link, tyranny, death to tyrants, autocratic or illicit or illegal rulers, Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles, he solves the crime, the detective being the criminal, Shutter Island (2010), the guilty party, setting up an axe throwing station, Vermont roots to D.C., gleefully splitting, bloody handed, more walking the streets with a bloody axe, a plague doctor mask, happy new year!

Caleb Williams by William Godwin

LEGO 41688 - Magical Caravan

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The SFFaudio Podcast #513 – READALONG: Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #513 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Bryan Alexander, and Evan Lampe talk about Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown.

Talked about on today’s show:
1798, Wieland: or, The Transformation: An American Tale, first novel, the first author who got paid for a living in the United States, a weird first big novel, a weird country, a founding document is a strange book, Bryan’s thesis, connectivity issues, Bryan’s dissertation, Edgar Huntly, the doppleganger as a motif, the romantic era, British poems, not allowed to include Americans, teaching, the gimmick is sleepwalking, murder, Indian war, Skywalk: The Man Unknown To Himself, talking to Americans, in and out of fashion or focus, prefering the manly nature stuff, freakishly bizarre, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and H.P. Lovecraft, Supernatural Horror In Literature, James Fennimore Cooper, The Last Of The Mohicans, American muscular exceptionalism, written for women, a female protagonist, a horror story, violence against women, murder, Natty Bumppo, waking up in a cave, like Rambo, violent novels, religious violence, nature, nature worship, nature is terrifying, incinerator by divine pyrotechnics, American Writers: 100 Pages At A Time, dense, super-high level vocab, distancing from the events, the whole back half, a very strange recommendation,

Of Mrs. Radcliffe’s countless imitators, the American novelist Charles Brockden Brown stands the closest in spirit and method. Like her, he injured his creations by natural explanations; but also like her, he had an uncanny atmospheric power which gives his horrors a frightful vitality as long as they remain unexplained. He differed from her in contemptuously discarding the external Gothic paraphernalia and properties and choosing modern American scenes for his mysteries; but this repudiation did not extend to the Gothic spirit and type of incident. Brown’s novels involve some memorably frightful scenes, and excel even Mrs. Radcliffe’s in describing the operations of the perturbed mind. Edgar Huntly starts with a sleep-walker digging a grave, but is later impaired by touches of Godwinian didacticism. Ormond involves a member of a sinister secret brotherhood. That and Arthur Mervyn both describe the plague of yellow fever, which the author had witnessed in Philadelphia and New York. But Brown’s most famous book is Wieland; or, The Transformation (1798), in which a Pennsylvania German, engulfed by a wave of religious fanaticism, hears voices and slays his wife and children as a sacrifice. His sister Clara, who tells the story, narrowly escapes. The scene, laid at the woodland estate of Mittingen on the Schuylkill’s remote reaches, is drawn with extreme vividness; and the terrors of Clara, beset by spectral tones, gathering fears, and the sound of strange footsteps in the lonely house, are all shaped with truly artistic force. In the end a lame ventriloquial explanation is offered, but the atmosphere is genuine while it lasts. Carwin, the malign ventriloquist, is a typical villain of the Manfred or Montoni type.

is the next book about x-ray specs, the Binding of Isaac, based on a true story in upstate New York, your local history, Washington Irving, Anthony Boucher’s They Bite, the cannibalism aspect, religious fanaticism, Carwin is a bit villainous, a thing going on with the maid, a genealogy of religious madness, an unreliable narrator, quite unhinged, a very Lovecraftian theme, inheriting the sins of the father, forbidden knowledge, ancient French protestants, this sounds like Lovecraft, half buried in dust and rubbish, his eyes were not confined, seek and you shall find, connection to madness, looking for her father’s old writings, Carwin in her closet, don’t read the book we’ll interpret it for you, teach the Indians how to be good Christians, his own personal religion, twice a day without fail, craziness and religion, really strange, early American history, the American Revolution, The Peopling Of British North America by Bernard Bailyn, America as a Marchland, a marquis, slavery, new religious movements, cults, no established church, a weak echo, Netflix’s Wild Wild Country, the Albigensians, not having a positive view of religion, religious frenzy: the end, a more traditional religious education, an unhinged freethinking frontier religion, the argument of religious authorities, Augustine, the best thing for humans is a good theocracy, Sunday School, mandatory belief, a Comics Code Authority Stamp, if you don’t like it I won’t write any more, William Godwin’s Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, anarchism, what’s the lesson here besides beware of ventriloquists, she isn’t as naive as she sometimes seems to be, a transformation from the brother into Carwin, a rustic friendly atmosphere, science and astronomy, traumatized by nightmares, a nightmare story, her savior is a rapist, I said I was going to rape you because it seemed best at the time, it feels so gothic, throw your voice to get out of dangerous situations, throw your voice to the garbage can behind your muggers, that’s bullshit, The Secret Of Ventriloquism by John Padgett, written for a Thomas Ligotti fansite, 1943, “Benders”, the Kansas serial killer benders, that father was insane, god was talking to him, so full of coincidence, Clara is not reliable, a sign of mental illness, the case that inspired Wieland, we could almost diagnose, showing up at a neighbor’s house naked, not just genetics but also disease, Guy de Maupassant, Who Knows?, The Horla, burn the house down, the brother is definitely insane, the father has been insane for a long time, voices attributed to a stranger with Spanish characteristics, Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, charms for protection against vampires, a castle in an American forest, a temple, mysterious stranger, the father’s death and spontaneous combustion, a state of insensibility, his imperfect account, bearing a lamp, a blow from a heavy club, an imperfect tale, half the truth has been suppressed, how it ends, the divine ruler, the religious vs. the rational explanation, the boyfriend, the uncle, a professional, the voices, the original kills in New York, struck by lightning, both natural and supernatural, a sound up on the temple, a pistol discharged, a blazing light, a very striking image, a cloud impregnated with light, a burning bush, ball lightning, naked and scorched and bruised, clothes removed and reduced to ashes, never explained, so devout god visited him and he saw god’s sideboob, Poe is dealing with Radcliffe 50 years later, what’s going on up front, Mulder and Scully, crucial to the Gothic, Gothic explicae, The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis, Scooby-Doo, the final chapter, making sense of real phenomenon, lets find out what it is, H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, the temptation of the Ring of Gyges story, a temptation to intervene, always rationalizing, past tense, for those people who want to know what happened to my family, this is her Stormy Daniels book, an essay in Vanity Fair three years later, no one would really write this that way, written for our benefit this way, putting it in the best light, I was paying her, what else is going on, the children, the maids, an upper class family, playing musics and discussing philosophy, suffering from syphilis, paranoia, hearing voices, a psychotic break, Lovecraft’s dad, a gang of men are raping my wife, went to the hospital, a hushing up, can this be rationalized without modern disease theory and modern psychology, In Cold Blood, so familiar, Gary Cole, Fatal Vision, a gang of hippies, Charles Manson, threat of the week, a narcissistic sociopath, Pleyel’s experience, “drifter”, he’s the Rasputin of this mess, lets have a secret meeting, no you idiot, don’t do it!, maybe I should, he’s hiding in your closet, let’s split up, a horror movie trope, drawn to the flame, the implications towards incest, transformed into a Spaniard, Carwin, this non-Spanish crypto-Spanish dude, some guy who doesn’t like me in Ireland, the British Gothic tradition, the Catholic South is very sexual, Othello, every Radcliffe novel, a ritual thing to do, a classic geographical imagination, part-time Spanish part-time English, Germans and Scotch-Irish and Jews, an inherited move, what Jeffrey MacDonald told the investigators, high heeled boots, “Acid is groovy, kill the pigs.”, the American Revolution angle, hostile to hierarchies and institutions, the corruption of old Europe, Saxony, Chapter 5, the good king, the Prussians, the horrors of war, which eventually happens, Thomas Paine, views on marriage, gender politics, the final scene, no general critique of institutions, a normal life, happiness in France, a Lord in Saxony, The Rats In The Walls, why they moved to the U.S., the Delapore family was murdered by one member and then praised by the neighborhood, the secret of the family was passed down, his family seat, the whole cycle of horror, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound Of The Baskervilles, the Canadian who comes into take the Baskerville estate, returning to Europe where the sins were ingrained in the family name, start a religion afresh, principled and thoughtful, rigid thinking, too rational, what could have caused this?, a pair of aunts who married a pair of brothers, hints of incest, she’s expecting her brother there, “that’s weird, man”, emotion and passion vs. rationality, a movement driven in part by the Enlightenment, violent, slavery, siding with reason, mental illness, the scene of this contest, a duel, a malignant figure, I leave you to moralize on this tale, Robinson Crusoe goes hunting in Spain, a problem with pagination, a double-tongued deceiver, if only they had gone to church, you gotta think this problem through, a Kantian answer, an 18th century chestnut, the human brain is a pretty good machine until the passions wreck the place, frailty, Robespierre and the Goddess of Reason, The Dunwich Horror, Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, who is he talking to, these are your idols, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a horror book, you don’t wanna go that way, one take on America, American Culture 101, the spontaneous combustion, horror movie scenes, don’t do it!, don’t go down in the basement, hewing trees, where you keep the monsters (the basement), most of the horror takes place upstairs, closets, when did basements become popular?, cellar, I lurked through the day, a trap door, a storm cellar, so strange, so weird, so foundational, the opposite of James Fenimore Cooper, William Faulkner, Pierre by Herman Melville, all the heads we’re driving over, Melville’s gone nuts, overblown writing for 200 pages, frustration, speaking to something that everybody knew about then, why was Poe obsessing about premature burial?, fake news, preserved like the bones of a dinosaur, historical criticism, a Gothic dream of factionalism, the Civil War, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, disconnected from religion but surrounded by people who are connected, swimming with the church team, freezing rain, Quaker meetings, another set of friends, the Philosophical Society, equal in extent, very much of the enlightenment, a biloquist, all the voices were Mel Blanc, digging graves in your sleep, astral projection, The Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar, the biggest hoaxer of them all, Channel Zero, creepy pasta, Candle Cove, the tooth monster, about grief, a mobile haunted house, almost perfect, uncanny, a rundown Rustbelt city, modern folklore, a local legend, ventriloquism, that’s so weird, sleepwalking, Rutger Hauer and very meaty, infecting my dreams.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #264 – READALONG: The Martian by Andy Weir

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #264 – Jesse, Jenny, Tam, Julie, Bryan, and Mike discuss The Martian by Andy Weir.

Talked about in this episode:
Dust on Mars is too thin to allow for sandstorms; terpkristin says NASA would never build a faulty antenna; and we finally introduce the book; is The Martian science fiction?; the one-way Mars mission Mars One; reminiscent of Heinlein’s Farmer in the Sky; Mike tracks Watney’s journey through Google Mars; why NASA picks boring locations to land their first missions; Andy Weir on Science Friday; the most far-fetched element of the book is its lack of budgetary concerns; Bradley Cooper in the film adaptation?; The Martian and Gravity have depressing implications; the novel’s (Heinleinian?) lack of character development; Mark Watney is in “full on Macgeyver mode”; most pilots are boring; many LOLs in the book; Andy Weir’s webcomic Casey and Andy; strong language in the novel; stoichiometry; feasibility of plot points; engineer-as-hero motif pitted against bureaucracy; Martian Odyssey by Stanley G. Weinbaum; Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe; Robinson Crusoe on Mars starring Adam West; The Makeshift Rocket by Poul Anderson, a spaceship powered by beer; From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and First Man on the Moon by H.G. Wells; Robinsoniad; Thunder and Lightning series by John Varley; Rocket Ship Galileo by Heinlein, featuring Nazis on the Moon!; the United States falling behind in the Space Race; Stephen Hawking on the dangers of artificial intelligence; Mars Attacks!; the novel’s lack of Earth focus makes it literally escapist; Heinlein’s prophetic Destination Moon; send more potatoes to space; pop culture references; “I’m a space pirate.”; The Case for Mars by Bob Zubrin, a non-fiction proposal for reaching the Red Planet; Red Mars and other Kim Stanley Robinson novels; Marooned starring Gregory Peck; GravityApollo 18, a found-footage horror film; Falling Skies; Bruce Campbell and Martin Koenig in MoontrapPrincess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs; A Walk in the Sun by Geoffrey Landis; Transit of Earth by Arthur C. Clarke bears a strong resemblance to The Martian; new party game: “You an astronaut on Mars. What’s the last music you listen to before you die?”; We Who Are About To by Joanna Russ; hope in fantasy and science fiction; Jesse hopes they don’t make a sequel; locked-room scenarios; Portal; would Earth really expend so many resources to save a single human being?; Ascent by Jed Mercurio; T-Minus: The Race to the MoonLimit by Frank Schätzing; PlanetesThe Souther Reach by Jeff VanderMeer for more botanist action; The Apollo Quartet by Ian Sales; Voyage by Stephen Baxter, dramatized by BBC Radio.

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir (Mars Itinerary)

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #226 – READALONG: The Iron Heel by Jack London

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #226 – Jesse, Jenny, and Bryan Alexander discuss The Iron Heel by Jack London.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny is not an economist, a Heinlein vibe, God Emperor Of Dune, The first half of this book is talk, a terrible novel but an interesting book, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, the distancing narrators, 700 years into the future, the audience is for seven hundred years in the future (or is that six hundred), prizefighting, grub = food, the purpose of the footnotes, The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells, Avis Everhard, alternate history, Michael Bishop, an underground book, an underground society, that Buck Rogers stuff, Armageddon—2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan, exchanging socialism for the Yellow Peril, Asgard, Seoul, set in the year 419 B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Men), A Thousand Deaths by Jack London, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, predictions, war with Germany, a surprise attack on December 4th, William Randolph Hearst, war economy as a solution to national surplus, Trotsky’s letter to Jack London, London had good reason to be a socialist, work conditions and natural disasters, a chaotic time, Jackson’s arm, race vs. class, Jack London’s racism, The Heathen by Jack London, the dog stories, class consciousness, grinding out the middle class between the 1% and the people of the abyss, The Shadow And The Flash by Jack London, manly overachievers, oligarchy doesn’t use race to divide people, do you want you fruit to be picked or not?, Japanese segregation in California classrooms, Canadian politics, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’, the quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “the military-industrial complex”, Eugene Debs, why was The Iron Heel not more popular?, The Black Hundreds, Das Kapital, Marxian fan-fiction, ‘social evolution is exasperatingly slow’, sooo sad, Marx’s essay on Napoleon III, a Darwinian model, do we live under an oligarchy?, government regulation (anti-trust and child labour laws), why socialism didn’t take hold in the early 20th century USA, Larry Summers, the Chilean cover of The Iron Heel, Salvador Allende, a novel read by revolutionaries, Science Fiction within the novel, the aesthetic end, the role of religion, the God of the Oligarchs, mostly air with a little bit of vertebra, Chicago, religious revivals and the apocalypse, Azusa Street Revival, the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake, William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst, John Waters, Cecil B. Demented, personal charisma and bulletproof arguments, Everhard is a porn star name, Benjamin Franklin, London’s didactic reading, Marx’s surplus theory of value, economy is not a science, power wins, the French Revolution, the Commonwealth of England, George Orwell’s review of The Iron Heel, 1984 is in The Iron Heel, coincidental dates, London’s insight into fascism, too much love from the strong and not enough love for the weak, Eric S. Rabkin, unmanning, ‘designed to be crucified’, father figures are destroyed, the chapter titles, The Call Of The Wild, a powerful beast is unmanned, builds up and builds through interaction with others, a sated king, a dominant primordial beast, The Sea Wolf, reading London is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart, surplus value, colonialism, the machine breakers, the trusts did not advertize, consumerism, Paul Krugman, petty bourgeoisie, the genocide of Chicago, the Paris Commune, gothic wooing, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy, the education of the oligarchy,

“They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the great beast would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without them, anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged.”

excusing colonialism, the white man’s burden, ignoring the starving masses, the Roman Empire, steampunk, Lloyd Blankfein “doing God’s work”, Margin Call, oppositional films, “The Social Network deeply hates Zuckerberg and the online world”, Nine Inch Nails, Michael Douglas, Wall Street, the cleaning lady, why isn’t The Iron Heel more generally appealing to SF readers?, British Space Opera vs. American Space Opera, Commune 2000 A.D. by Mack Reynolds, a broken utopia, job cash vs. job love, the social end of SF, the storytelling technique doesn’t attract, the unsuccessful revolution, Winston Smith’s diary, looking back when writing doesn’t have the same power, the Goldstein Book, brainwashing, the bomb in congress, spy and counterspy, Starship Troopers is a series of lectures punctuated by gunfire, Frank Herbert, “a raving genius”, doing Dune (and Dune Messiah), Chilton Books, the boot crushing the human face forever, the leaky suspense, a Norton critical edition, how to record The Iron Heel, the footnotes are problematic, a crazy wild marvelous book, WWI, WWII, Metropolis, armoured cars or tanks, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, a terrifying future found in a cave written on leaves, A Journal Of The Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Idiocracy, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, on Lenin’s deathbed he was read Jack London, The Cold Equations, To Build A Fire, The Empire Strikes Back,

“The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow.”

cosmic and Lovecraftian, as snug as a Jedi in a hot tauntaun, Robert Sheckley, Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

The Iron Heel by Jack London (Viva Allende)

The Iron Heel by Jack London - Capital V. Labour

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Sailing Alone Around The World by Joshua Slocum

SFFaudio Review

Sailing Alone Around The World by Joshua SlocumSailing Alone Around The World
By Joshua Slocum; Read by Alan Chant
1 |M4B|, 22 Zipped MP3 Files, or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 52 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 9, 2007
|ETEXT|
Joshua Slocum was the first man to sail around the world alone in a small boat. He personally rebuilt an 11.2 metre sloop-rigged fishing boat that he named the Spray. On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston, Massachusetts. More than three years later, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, on June 27, 1898 having circumnavigated the world, a distance of 46,000 miles (74,000 km). In 1899 he described the voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World now considered a classic of travel literature. It is a wonderful adventure story from the Age of Sail and a book of which Arthur Ransome declared, “boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once.”

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/sailing-alone-around-the-world-by-joshua-slocum.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

I was listening to an episode of the CBC Radio One Ideas podcast, entitled Sailing Alone Around The World |MP3|, and was struck by the story of the first man to do that very thing. The program uses excerpts from Slocum’s book of the same name, and interviews those modern solitary sailors who’ve followed in Slocum’s wake. The fact that, in some sections of the sea, the next nearest human being to a lone sailor might be someone on the International Space Station, was an astounding revelation to me. The fact that there have been fewer solitary circumnavigators than there have been people in space, also astounding. So, not even half-way through the show I set my sights on LibriVox, where I searched for, found, and downloaded an M4B of the audiobook.

Slocum was an Canadian by birth and a naturalized American. In the late 19th century, upon finding himself out of work (the age of coal powered ships had begun in earnest), Slocum found there was no more call for a tall ship captain. One day Slocum finds himself having been gifted with an aged sloop. And so he sets about refitting it, hires himself out to himself plans to write a book (serialized in the Century magazine), loads up his cabin with food, supplies and lots of books, and sets sail on a solitary circumnavigation of the planet earth.

What he finds in the adventure is, simply put, real adventure! Slocum is alone for the entire trip except for The Spray itself, Slocum’s sloop, which is full of emotions (it feels happy when the sailing is good, and becomes anxious when in port too long). Similarwise he has a few passengers, there’s a hungry goat, a sneaky bilge rat, and a long suffering spider (it meets another just like it half a planet away from where it was born).

In his more than three years at sea Slocum meets with ship thieves, admirals, colonial governors, the widow (and adopted son) of Robert Louis Stevenson, friendly natives, hostile natives, officious bureaucrats, friendly bureaucrats, storms, reefs, sickness, and even a ghost!

Along the way he salute’s the sea god Neptune, ports at many memorable anchorages, including the island of the real life inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (Alexander Selkirk), and becomes an international celebrity.

Slocum’s narrative is helped by his enjoyable sense of humor and hindered by his prejudices. And while the various characters that he meets in the book may sometimes benefit from Slocum’s breezy writing style I got no real sense of the other side of the story. Incidents with thieves, one man steals his pistol, and one South American boy tries to steal his ship, come across as far less frightening than they might really have been. Indeed, there’s something of a deliberate storyteller to this travel narrative, something which reminds me of Sławomir Rawicz’s extraordinary adventure memoir The Long Walk (it may have been entirely made up). That said, the documentation seems far more present, and the journey here does seem to have actually occurred.

Narrator Alan Chant has an English accent and a relaxed reading style. There’s a bit of background noise in the recording, but the audio is very serviceable. Each chapter begins and ends with a bit of seabird song. Recommended.

A Brush With Fuegians

The Voyage Of The Spray

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #201 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #201 – The Inn (aka Ulrich The Guide) by Guy de Maupassant, read by Mirko Stauch. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Mirko.

Talked about on today’s show:
Where and why, more and more Maupassant, is there a definitive list of Guy de Maupassant SFF stories?, German translations, the BBC audio drama adaptation of The Inn, RadioArchive.cc, a ghost story, the twist in the end or the twist middle, great writing, an ambiguous ghost story, a psychological happening, the dog’s reaction, revenant, “it becomes the monster”, Louise Hauser, is Ulrich dead?, Gaspard, The Others, Maupassant tricks us, “they bury themselves”, Ulrich is punished for no reason, the voice, white noise, Ulrich’s religious beliefs, Cologne on a cold night, the ravens!, the audio drama improves on the short story!, a filling metaphor, “the immense ocean of pale mountain summits”, mainstream, the vertical issue, Wolfgang von Goethe, “only a very stable character”, a proto-cosmic horror, The Festival by H.P. Lovecraft, a Christmas story, describing nature, the second meaning, “arose from the snow itself”, “he’s alone on the Moon”, being alone, cabin fever, we are alone in the cosmos, community allows us to hide from the harsh truth, gambling, “I would have brought a bunch of books”, “illiterate mountain peasants”, a lonely island, did Gaspard fall into a crevasse?, nature is the monster, the unknown is more terrifying, the terror of the soul, undeserved guilt, “eighteen degrees of frost”, “he was of a sleepy nature”, 1886, Guy de Maupassant visited the Alps, riddled with disease, the Inn at Schwarenbach, The Shining by Stephen King, an internal flaw, “he could speak no human words”, Nightflyers by George R.R. Martin, Perry Rhodan, Silent Running, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the dog as a symbol, the dog as a companion, the importance of routine for the lonely, the demon of loneliness, “all is busy work before the grave”, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, Castaway, The Piece Of String (aka The Piece Of Yarn), “eating a sandwich that you find on the sidewalk”, he dies alone and unloved, “two feets”, every Norman is trapped in disbelief, it could have happened to us!, his hair turned white, Supernatural Horror In Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, “the unseen”, “the outer blackness”, able to appreciate the immensity of reality, Honey Boo Boo, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, The Call Of Cthulhu, “when I think of H.P. Lovecraft I don’t think of immense tentacles.”

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

The Inn by Guy de Maupassant

Ulrich The Guide by Guy de Maupassant

Posted by Jesse Willis