The SFFaudio Podcast #646 – Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick – read by Ian Bradford Ngongotaha Pugh. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (31 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Evan Lampe.
Talked about on today’s show:
Orbit, December 1953, copyright clearances, a comic book adaptation, BIPOC, very countryist of you, IBPOC, who gets to be included, LGBTQ2S+, a council that meets in the sewers beneath New York City, can Jesse be included?, parentage, black vs. coloured, then most obvious, latinx, 25% of the community is aware of it, approx 5% use it, Tony’s dad, that’s our word, you beetle lover, Pasudeti’s point of view, very different, similar themes, goodreads, three Os with a little line dancing over it, 3.5 stars, ratings out of stars, one of the most different Philip K. Dick stories, the literary agency that gave it a G or a G+, classify it, feel about it, Mike Resnick, Birthright: The Book Of Man, dooming humanity, enslaved and subjugated, teetering point, where we came from, Seven Views Of Olduvai Gorge, bootstrap up themselves to sentience, mankind are assholes, India’s rise against the British, decolonization, Rhodesia, Kenya, leibensraum, you can’t live on Earth anymore, how far they spread, other Orion planets, a huge crisis, we must move out just to survive, a theme in Dick’s novels, The Variable Man, Mr. Spaceship, The World Jones Made, this expansion of humanity, this intimate way, what he thought were friends, his community, this way, this angle, Time Out Of Joint, Arthur C. Clarke, Omni Magazine, it doesn’t seem inevitable, doom, one battle, the tide has turned, they’re evacuating the planet, evacuating the city, beetle riots and mobs, being psychohistorians, this is stolen ground, in the long term, no forever in the long term, the SMLA agency, “pedestrian”, “rather corny stuff”, “pretending to be impressive”, not your favourite, my knee, earnest, certain works are the greats, they don’t understand it, seeing Jesse’s own reactions, why is this ok?, The Crystal Crypt, humans leaving Mars, Earth spies steal a city, black clad leiters, Philip K. Dick is doing something, our hero in this story, Tony Rossi, Italian, Anthony, Italians play a role, make a little list, Roog, Cardossis, a real house and a real dog, The Man In The high Castle, Joe Cinadella, Now Wait For Last Year, always on about the Italians, my best friend was Italian!, the Japs, victory gardens, a German last name, Philip K. Dick’s father, a gas mask, everybody knows what your name is, Dick is a pretty funny name, where this story is really set, he was never decolonized, double envelopment, seeing his story in print there, American tank gives piggy back ride to nip tank, growing up during the war, during the Italian Campaign, Sicily, the Italians change size, Benito Mussolini, again The Hanging Stranger, an analogy, the number of military bases in Italy today, between 3 and 100, growing up on a military base, that’s actually what we see, he puts on his spacesuit, I’m going out to play, school 4 hours a day 6 days a week (online), a mandatory lift from a beetle, the B-slur, humans automatically get rides, a polite boy, an attractive telepathic female, the robot carries his bag, his friends reject him, you suck, fuck you, they throw rocks at him, not suitable for human life, recovery mode, his EEP (his robot dog), a heat ray, no blood, Tony’s visor fogs up, we’re on the run now, a really weird story, read the words and bounced off, how amazing the amount of planetary world building goes on, the flux winds, trudging through sands, almost like Cuba, freighters that have been changed, they have an empire, a really amazing world, told from the POV of someone least able to tell us about it, threatens to beat his son, that threat from the parents, Martians Come In Clouds, the external colonizers, the monsters are the humans, he’s 11 in that story and 10 in this story, we know he’s reading the newspaper, he has to flip through the newspaper, everybody would know what’s going on, his sensitivity level is through the roof, John W. Campbell, a metaphor for sensitivity, insensitive to his parent’s racism, working on projects with them, polite and friendly, they turn on a dime, all of a sudden, this Japanese friend, the next day Pearl Harbor happens, the stab in the back, unprovoked attack, high rhetoric for Pearl Harbor, a participant in this hate, reflecting upon it and thinking about it, a twitter thread about this story, an interesting comparison to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a movie of no note, a very powerful book, a war story told from the point of view of a boy, special kids, super-soldiers in a war against the buggers, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, funny name, accident, human inability to recognize they were like them, stolen ground, a thoughtful guy, a relgious guy, anti-gay vs. homophobic asshole, taking his religion seriously, pressing Paul’s buttons, all his hate non-violent, sexual preference, sexual tension between the young pasudeti woman and young Tony on the bus, Catholicism’s official policy on homosexuality, dodging it, still evolving, dealing with intellectual inconsistencies, when Tony is being attack for his species, why he would feel hurt, physically assaulted, a terrible law imposed on them, an occupying force, settlers, stolen ground, we’re here because we’re stronger, a meeting of an elite at a university, introductions degrees, acknowledge the place that they’re in is on unceded territory, on Dakota land, I’m headed back to Europe, this is stolen ground, there’s no place for Jesse to go, the Earth is uninhabitable, something deep inside this, all the ships that come from Europe or Asia, the Vietnam War, “doesn’t resonate in a particular way yet (but I think it will), I was thinking about the end of the Vietnam War and the aircraft carriers, the images of aircraft, perfectly good helicopters, being pushed off to make room for more people, this is 1975, and they’re just like trying to get every person who was a quote unquote collaborator, that’s not my word, but somebody who is going to get persecuted or
prosecuted for collaborating with the Americans out and into the United States to safety, right? Those people can’t go back. I guess this is sorta how the Cubans feel, in southern Florida, or whatever. So there’s some sort of resonance going on there and that’s … this is not a
story that can be judged on a score out of five, because its not trying to win a contest its trying to express a very, very specific kind of concern. It’s a very strange story.”, subsequent books, how do you reconcile the idea of your country and community being taken from and genocided to take that land, they ain’t giving it back, a nice worldbuilding, Eastward Ho! by William Tenn (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1958), really dark, world history, the century of Ethnic Cleansing (the 20th century), the Acadians, Armenia, Pakistan – India, decolonization efforts, Zanzibar, the rights of indigenous people vs. ethno-nationalism, they physically come and ethnically cleanse you, some cop shows up, little Johnny has to leave to a camp, Germans and Italians, Germans ethnically cleansed from Europe after the war, 12 million people, Prussia, German enclaves, all over the world, a whole bunch of Germans shipped to Australia during WWII, the Dunera Boys, enemy aliens, hate causes that, they don’t wear a pickle helmet, Paul’s family name pronunciation changed, based on hate, racism, the George Takei, the Star Trek guy, Star Trek was trying to break up that idea of racism, Kenyan, they had a Jewish captain and a Jewish first officer, one world government, ethnic identities but not ethno states, Harry Kim is from Denmark, so weird to have a nuanced very strange little idea, an anti-happy ending, Tony is turned from being a happy little boy playing with his friends to a bitter boy who could be fighting the pasudeti soon, sufficient lengths to show these bug-like aliens have their own ethnic slur for humans (white-grubs), not a militaristic culture, swapped military equipment, armed freighters, those beetles shooting down our boys from armed-freighters, to think of those Germans shooting down my boy, some rando, strategic bombing, is it okay for us to bomb cities?, coup any attempts at change, ask the city fathers of Carthage, economic and social control of Sicily, the Phoenicians, a commercial empire, mercenaries, raise more legions, delda est, Delenda Est by Robert E. Howard, culture is important, the humans remind Evan of the Romans, on the planet for 14 years, slaves and land, citizenship, the best way of analyzing it, he’s set it in space, the barbarians are retaking the land, now taking Rome, cynicism about the humans, designed to be humans are always the same wherever we go, he ain’t wrong, nobody’s mad at Genghis Khan the way they’re mad at Hitler, betrayed by his friends at school, his haircut, Cato was in favour of genocide, its so long ago, ultra-right nationalists, SPQR, trolls, we don’t have to go back too far, victims and oppression, Israel, reparations for slavery, continue cancelling people, cancelling Genghis Khan, cancel Thomas Jefferson, re-contextualizing, less hagiography more history, the 1619 project, first grade, early American history, conservatives react badly, Irish drafted into the US army and sent to fight in Mexico, the largest mass execution in U.S. history, all this land was stolen, a war of imperialist conquest, most people aren’t in academic environments, Tom Berenger, One Man’s Hero (1999), HBO movies, we don’t care about you, a pretty compelling example, the two state solution, good luck with that, a one state solution, secular power-sharing, still in ethno-nationalist, a lot of support for it, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, punishment, on this planet, its not even habitable, his parents gave him an EEP, a cute robot dog (also a killing machine bodyguard), electronic extermination pet?, a truck ride in the Man In The High Castle, everything in this story is Italian, regular people, if Jesse lived in Italy and there’s a military base right beside me, a military transport that ran over a Korean school girl, the Catholic church’s solution to problem priests, resentment, you’re a nice guy and everything but get the fuck out of here, Okinawa, the Taiwanese will take those bases, it isn’t pedestrian, there’s a lot of walking in this story, not even a real grapefruit he’s eating, a lot of walking, a regular old story about a guy who goes for a walk, a kind of tree, a kid rejected on the school yard, what colour his spacesuit is, its bizarre and fascinating, people read Philip K. Dick backward, I like LSD, they like Ubik, this doesn’t have that stuff, the Jupiter symphony by Mozart, they don’t understand, the beat vs. the lyrics, all the words passed into my eyes, trying to make money, Jesse read a ton of science fiction, nobody else writes about kids, middle grade fiction, Schooled by Gordon Korman, school books, the short story fiction markets from the 1950s, the short story market is basically dead, it was always adult, in science fiction?, Stephen King, he does kids really well, how many H.P. Lovecraft stories? [The Silver Key], the pasudeti kids, they’re building a space station, the childhood of slaves, plantations were not segregated, the childhood aspect, stolen childhood, playing with the black slaves, this facade doesn’t work anymore, even without the defeat, equals, power over them, a cusp of awakening, Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, like Robert E. Howard, you take your place as the lord of the manor, they need to know their place, you can free some of them when you die, she smiled faintly, she knows what’s going to happen, Tony was troubled and uncertain, to the place where his friends lived, an immense bengalo tree, a domed city, B’Prith, his eep, “how are things?”, fine, their shells had not hardened, they’re the grubs, they could hop and skip around still, such a great writer, “what’s the matter”, Llyre, what are you all mad about, the war again, his anger burst up, it was fine, sure, the heart of the story, being affected by what’s going on in the news, when 9/11 happened, all those arab kids endlessly prosecuted and persecuted, both, getting attacked for nothing they did, we do it to ourselves, he’s capturing something, the antithesis of pedestrian, so wrapped up in its own explanations, sorry about the genocide, gotta be nice to the Indians now, this is a very extraordinary story, how could you rate this?, it makes sense to compare it, it doesn’t make sense to rate, trying to classify things, the instinct to rate, The Father-Thing was sold to the highest market, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Philip K. Dick is so important because he’s doing things nobody else is doing, starting with Valis, I dig drugs, The Crystal Crypt is almost impenetrable, could be years, Evan’s podcast on this story, the one state solution, the no state solution, most of the West Bank is colonized, the beetles would be the majority, a detour, The Wild One (1953) with Marlon Brando, The Red Dwarf version of the movie, personality on screen, I love you johnny, based on a short story about a real incident, took over the town, a “riot”, a photograph, a phenomenon in the 1950s, the juvenile delinquents, Rebel Without A Cause (1955), James Dean, the biker gangs started after WWII, ex-bomber pilots all PTSD, living the wild lifestyle, the 1%ers, outlaw motorcycle gangs, they don’t fucking care about your fucking laws, I don’t like no cops, I don’t make no deals with cops, this is a reaction, when you come back from the war traumatized, unless you’re a psychopath, drinking, not obeying, not old enough to be a soldier, his ROTC didn’t last very long, too sensitive, a universal draft, arguing about it at the kitchen table, we know exactluy what’s going on, but Tony doesn’t know, his dad threatens to beat him, if this is your target and you hit your target, that movie makes no sense, a warning to our society, the disclaimer, the least wild person in the whole movie is the wild one, calm down, have a seat, have a drink, how high his voice is pitched, a homoerotic relationship, somebody throws a tire iron at him, his bike runs over an old man, the whole point of this movie, it doesn’t give you a clue, they don’t understand it at the time, why these biker gangs existed, cops are authority, fascinating psychology, a post traumatic stress society.