The SFFaudio Podcast #588 – READALONG: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #588 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Maissa Bessada talk about Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Talked about on today’s show:
The Body Snatchers, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, 1976/8, 1956, very faithful, the changes to the text, a slightly bigger frame, in and about and to the ending, I drive a 1973 Cadillac, 5 adaptations, the 1978 adaptation, 1955, serial finished on Christmas Eve, beautiful illustrations, 2007, The Day Of The Triffids by John Wyndham, 1951, The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, The Father Thing by Philip K. Dick, The Hanging Stranger by Philip K. Dick, an alien invasion of space plants, the scale, the major point of the body snatchers is the snatching, 28 Days Later, The Walking Dead, The Night Of The Living Dead, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, the plants are consuming people, a spore in the air, so close in other details, its eerie, an outsider to mainstream science fiction, Ray Bradbury, when Heinlein gets in a slick, bridging the gap between the mainstream mom and dads of the 1950s, the original dad ends up in a trash can, pod people in the sense their emotions are done, must be some sort of display, very Stephen King-like, a contagion that’s spread, communist Red Scare, you need to conform or those people are communists, 4 official adaptations, delightfully 1970s, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy, a really cool connection, maybe there are only 3 adaptations, it might be the case that they’re all the same storyline, Kevin McCarthy, a cameo, reprising his scene, they’re coming! they’re not who you think they are! they’re here!, Mill Valley, California, San Francisco, Louise Fletcher Veronica Cartwright is the last human alive in the 1978 movies, Wendy Lenk, the 1993 adaptation, Body Snatchers (1993), Scott has an idea for a movie called Snatchers, the Recorded Books audiobook, the Blackstone Audio, Kristoffer Tabori, a pretty terrific novel, reverse engineering, very close, a low budget, the bubbles and the foam, the major difference is the ending, the novel has the worst ending, we did it – we fixed it – it’s over, the ending of The War Of The Worlds, by accident we survived, The War Of The Worlds: The Series (1988-90), the Spanish Flu, WWI, individual tragedies vs. collective tragedy, the humour, the first person perspective, he sure seems handsome, divorcees, a wonderful relationship, they dated in high-school, compassionate writing, the meta-ness of the novel, brilliant!, Heinlein’s not good at people, Somewhere In Time, a different skill at writing, the clarity of Westlake, in relief against the other adaptations and the changing times, what’s missing from every adaptation, Billy the shoe-shine man, it’s not about communism, its about us, in a terrible relationship, Billy the shoe shine man is our hero, everybody is a white-man, none of the other adaptations go near that, self-loathing, other black characters in the adaptations, its not about race relations at that point, Finney is saying it, the cave, the ending, divorcees as human beings, the relationship he has to his patients and his own body, his girlfriend’s skeleton, her flesh fits her bones, two skeletons in his closet, the world is going to be saved, Soylent Green, you gotta tell em!, so Body Snatchers-ish, the pods are not giving up, they’re kinda resisty, anti-science fictional, he couldn’t know what he needed to be done, forget everything I said, maybe an editor made him do it, he didn’t fix it in the revision, its about San Fransisco and the people who live there, the banjo man, they have to share a pumpkin, the same relationship, the potential future girlfriend is already in a relationship, go to the psychiatrist with me, maybe he’s turning gay, the 2007, the kid is the primary relationship, The Invasion (2007) is very slickly done, a cool science fiction movie, a spore, an infection like a zombie infection, colonized chrysalis-ed, a collective consciousness, a way cool element, doubling down on why being snatched is maybe not such a bad thing, you will be just like you, there’s nothing new for you, the whole world is involved, a unilateral disarmament treaty, worse and worse or better and better, the countries listed, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Iraq, we’re all the same people inside, much more seductive, both positive and negative, played as totally positive, Daniel Craig is still alive, now recovered, all dream like, memory loss, Nicole Kidman has too children, in the background the American Empire is resuming, back to where we are, they close on her face, that amazing dance, the personal vs. the collective, the waiters are spitting into the coffee, fungal load, Equilibrium (2002), the dancing with guns movie, drugging their population, a society worth having an protecting, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, its all connected, the flying pancakes episode of Star Trek, Landru, you are not of the body, pointing and screaming, “New York Times has good reporters”, the most toxic relationship on the history of the Earth, so exactly right, a received opinion, why this book was so powerful, the NPC meme, youre a character in the story but you have no will or volition of your own, a red shirt, there to serve the plot and to show the gravity of the situation, if you are acting like an NPC you are making a mistake, philosophical zombies, observing somebody through a telescope, like a robot, following a script, a bot in computer games, critiquing the idea of individual thought, the processes have happened within us, watching a great actor in the great movie can give you a simulation of that, highly sympathetic actions, the psychology building up around that pool table, his new GF is in danger from her dad, a very cool Americanism, he runs in wearing his pajamas, magnified in the 1978: the amount of gaslighting that happens, Leonard Nimoy is a pod person from the beginning, the way he treats Jeff Goldblum, Robert H. Solo, Neil Simonesque, Alan Alda and Michael Caine and Richard Pryor, a style of film, it became a staple, the 1993 is the shittiest version, Invasion Of The Pod People (2007), if you’re not looking closely, most of the actresses are porn actresses, ginger root is the pods, Tubi, the acting is so wooden, the air condition systems are humming in every scene indoors, an excuse to have sexy being pod people, like the 1993 version but way worse, another direction, They Live (1988) adaptation of Eight O’Clock In The Morning, the sunglasses meme is evergreen, the recent election shit, you can’t call them oligarchs, the guy in The Matrix, I know what I’m doing is wrong but I really need the money, THEY LIVE (1988) is the most important science fiction movie that’s ever been, underneath the tunnels, some people are real some people were not, you’d sell out your own kind, the social message of THEY LIVE (1988) is super valuable, which is a better novel? very different exactly the same, Heinlein is Heinlein, The Puppet Masters is a piece of excellence, Donald Sutherland is playing another pod person and he loves it, they juice us up, Passengers by Robert Silverberg, can I borrow you for a minute?, a powerful story, aliens psychically take over your body, walk of shame back to your life, everybody is subject to it, we just have to live with this new reality, super cool, The Roller Coaster by Alfred Bester, we project our minds back in time yithian-style, The Shadow Out Of Time by H.P. Lovecraft, more technically a snatch, a super-positive tool for studying history in the hands of sons and daughters of billionaires, when you’re killing people you don’t want to do it openly, terrorize people to get a rise out of them, Reading, Short And Deep episode 11, from 1953, The Thirteenth Floor (1999), a better movie as a story than The Matrix (1999), eXistenz (1999), that mass scale, seeing it from a different end, semi-government competent agency, a pre-X-Files sort of story, taken over by a pancake, a trauma on the scale of rape or worse, a horror, you’re there but you’re not in control, witness to an alien mind, a parasitism, a broken axe handle and a soup can were duplicated, spilling the seed on the earth, Jeff Goldblum and Veronica Cartwright’s mudbath spa, I recommend the lava-ash, reading a paperback novel, Worlds In Collision by Immanuel Velikovsky, not science at all, the saucer stuff, you must read this book, I’ve read it several times, Star Maker by Olaf Stapledon, the seed of every science fiction story, let’s look in this basement, this chain of looking within to find facts from without, not my real mom, as science fiction as science fiction can get vs. space vegetables, the Space Shuttle, you’ve triggered it, we now have to talk about Lifeforce (1985), panspermia, Lifeforce (1985) said “hey 1970s movies, we saw what you did and we’re going to do the opposite”, science fiction isn’t about a whole bunch of separate ideas, its about the way you spin or focus on a particular detail, doing shownotes three months down the road, looking up the spelling of authors, spinning and thinking about different aspects of humanity’s role and what we’re doing here, what is your purpose here on earth, we don’t have a purpose, just reproduction, just like you, the virus is the body snatcher, the last 2 weeks has turned into bizarro world, it translates, whatever is happening, March 21st, 2020, we’re thinking about a scene where the town is dying, the coffee doesn’t taste good in the diner, people are numb, we don’t know who the enemy is, asymptomatic, very well shown, he loves his town, he flees and then returns, how broken we are, going back to bad relationships, why moving is such a trauma, we shelter in place, spring break beach, YOLO, how you feeling?, are you worried?, toilet paper levels, thermostat, the bidets were all sold out, hoarding bidets, Green Patches by Isaac Asmiov, a unified consciousness, a stowaway, back to anarchy, a greater unthinking being, The Green Splotches by T.S. Stribling, alien spores, grey goo aliens, Colony by Philip K. Dick, X-Minus One, “I trusted the rug completely”, the dissolve you and make copies of you, a fake laser gun, sending down a drop ship to rescue the crew, the cook taking orders from himself, oddly science fictional items, that was 1953 too, don’t drink the water, we will all find out, which one of us will be next?, going for that 1970s downer ending, which one of us isn’t even us anymore?

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney - Collier's November 26, 1954

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney Collier's, December 1954

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney - Colliers December24, 1954

Award Books - Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

URANIA - Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)

Posted by Jesse Willis
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The SFFaudio Podcast #569 – READALONG: The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #569 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons talk about The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Talked about on today’s show:
The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, Of Men And Monsters, in the shower, bins full of books, homework, no ending coming, the ending was a beginning, a solid ending, absurd in a bleak way, a stinger in the tail, mocking and doing a genre, collection of William Tenn short stories, the William Tenn model of story, absurdist, satirizing, frustrated expectations, Eastward, Ho , The Liberation Of Earth, this dying Earth, a metaphor for Africa, allegory, why he isn’t known as a novelist, to sustain a novel, an overarching belief in something, humans are fucking ridiculous, early on the web, a RealAudio stream, On Venus, Have We Have A Rabbi!, not a word different, “Priests, For Their Learning”, I’ll grow up fast, “Soldiers, For Their Valor”, literally takes place in the next step, “Counselors, For Their Wisdom”, 1000% confidence, William Shakespeare, Tenn taught English for a living, to Sheila Solomon Klass, this place of salvation, a quote from Gulliver’s Travel, “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth”, the land of the giants, a perfect fit, wholly new, puts them in their place, many ancestors to this book, The War Of The Worlds, how any one virtue is require for procurement of any one virtual, cockroaches or mice?, aspiring to the greatness of roaches, things completely outside humanity, the torture room, we’re all monsters, this book is very subversive, a cool idea, only 128 people are left, other tribes of mankind, he knows exactly what he’s doing, torturing these monsters is fine (because they’re not human), oh jeez, naive character, not a great book, misquote the quoter, Of Men And Monsters, easier to grasp, harder, Of Mice And Men, the institution vs the individual, trusting institutions, walking around the factory floor with long hair, your uncle your brother your sister your friend, people will be kind to you, Lenny and the other guy, their relationship, the labouring farm, a lecherous dude, a lecherous lady, navigable relationships, it ends in tragedy, Eric is our dumb character, the way of the world, slowly disabused of that, his uncle was also a fool, its not just we need a new king, government can’t help you really kid, I have no answers for you kid, the answer for Lenny, institutionalizing anything, it can’t care, summarizing Jesse’s point, the idea of the inhumanity of institutions juxtaposed to the human relationships we can have, put a cap on your hairs’ too long, capitalism, migrant labourers, mental handicap, he kills a woman, stop touching the rabbits, stop squeezing the ladies to death, Eric The Only, Eric The Eye, Eric The Outlaw, the church, the government, we can’t trust these human relationships either, about my vanity, folly, all the different tribes hate each other except for their leaders, it’s our planet buddy, a quietist tract, Man is alone in the world, as a young person, a product of his society, a statement about the society he is in, this is their mythology, a Harry Potter type character, destined to learn, smart enough eventually, try not be a roach anymore, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats In The Walls, humans to aliens, roaches to humans, a delicious scene, spending a lot of time analyzing what the aliens are thinking, sprayed by roach spray, hold your breath, count for 500 and run, a hissing whistling sound, a bed for the aliens, played the other way, his whole embarrassment in life is that he’s an only child, his only shame in life, mate with many wives and have massive litters, litters of puppies and kittens and mice and rats, pinkies, the most inhuman thing, mankind has changed, multiple babies at the same time, he’s a throwback, two three is common (up to six), wider hips?, the pill is a thing, restraining the pumping out of babies, over five litters two of them of maximum size, biologically possible but relatively rare, parthenogenesis, making twinning more common, fraternal or identical, old men at twenty, humans modified by a distant change, the religion and creed is pathetic and ridiculous, especially absurd groups of people, the national grouping is like a plains Indian thing, the people, so much worldbuilding here, restricted to Eric’s point of view, a very strange snapshot of the real world, Adam-Troy Castro: ‘imaginative and often witty simple and schematic nobody interesting not even the hero’, William Tenn was not a writer for writers, he was a writer gifted with writing but cursed with the knowledge of how humanity actually is, give ideas, he’s not supposed to be interesting, a traditional writer, I wanna be a writer, characters have to have motivation, what if we had the relationship that we have to ants, how would that go?, we lost Will, what’s wrong with that, Jo Walton, played for laughs, wryly and exclusively Tenn, not funny, but emotionally satisfying, it teaches you something, satisfying in a sense, feature not bug, the first line is a lie, two layers with that title, presented with facts and they’re subverted, how ->*”primitive”*<- people live, where everybody is a generalist, ridiculous leaders, executed or in prison, protests like you see in France or Hong Kong, everybody has to come out, classifying the kind of society, a hunter gatherer society, a social structure of mankind, hierarchy, make sure the food is edible, strange religious customs, cynically implemented, "a primitive people", somebody thought up agriculture, a post agricultural society, fascinating world-building, a hole at the bottom of the wall, alien food, the high absurdity is at is peak, the curtain is drawn away for us, a VCR with random buttons, ads for capitalism, two airplanes crash, a sale on cameras and a light meter, unthinking all hormones, sex with the ladies, being respected by his peers, did my dad have sex with other women because that'd be great if he did?, an inversion, oh my god BASTARD, the malleability of humans, how to take the pain, forced by circumstances into having his own thoughts about how to maybe run his life, forced into consciousness, a relevant book, a lot of people are vegans these days, projecting our own feelings into animals, it can be a pathology, not as obvious a trap, another kind of religion, we're trapped in the same way that Thomas Ligotti is saying we're trapped, a pitiable and curious state of mankind, personality and character rather than a presentment of the facts, Monty Python, Life's a piece of shit when you think of it, depressing and terrible but very accurate, am destiny story, all men are men, whatever magic, ancestor magic, he's the ONLY ONE, making only a good one, are we moving back, the idea of positioning, trying to relate it to mice, nesting in the spaces you aren’t, trees are fucking cold you don’t want to be in a tree, jars with lids, we crush them, Eric lives in the kitchen/bedroom, they have furniture, food, roach spray, one of them damn roaches again, and mysteriously everybody died, if its a depressing idea its a problem with the reader’s attitude, the novel is actually uplifting, deeply aesthetically satisfying (and upsetting on some level), the absurd reality of some man’s life, a sequel coming, a 1963 magazine, in Galaxy Magazine, the non-ephemeral nature of the paperback, if you didn’t get it that month you’ll never get it again, a physical copy of this book, a token of an achievement, a magazine feels like a newspaper, a childish way of looking at it, I’m not sure I can trust my sense, A Lamp From Medusa, a classic for our time, putting it in a package, a life of republication, what makes something a classic for the ages?, “Jesse, Moby-Dick‘s a famous book”, this novella was a classic of science fiction?, its not famous, a lost classic of science fiction, Richie Rich and Casper stuff…, so much going on in a short period of time, not a word wasted, fight for inclusion in a canon of anthropological science fiction, what is society, why do people do the things that we do, how do we know the things we know?, it keeps us sharp, received morality, the banality of evil, they did the crime so they need to do the time, abuse heaped up prisoners, that’s how the institution works, a layer was being peeled from your eye every few pages, my uncle’s not a hero?, we’re going to go into space!, an alternate interpretation, getting Eric out of the way, betrayed!, the French Revolution, restore the French monarchy, human science for humans, everything feeds into my podcast, The Penny Dreadfuls, The Brothers Faversham, satarizing everything, Richard E. Grant, The Scarlet Pimpernel, a proto-superhero, Maximilien Robespierre, how dare you!, why it came to this, why The Terror is happening, he didn’t have time for my speech, all of this farce of what caused the French Revolution, to take the other’s point of view as it is vs. the reality as we’ve framed it, the three estates, all three equal, choppin’ off heads is a good idea, once you get started breaking norms…, the effects of the French Revolution are still being felt, the Russian Revolution, the new word “adversary”, what the fuck you talking about, they like food and they enjoy TV, the button that Tenn is pressing, we like it a lot, a more obscure one, he’s a good writer and he’s got a nice sense of irony, a modern science fictional version of Jonathan Swift, slightly different from Robert Sheckley, slightly different from Douglas Adams, the broad brush, my loins are particularly tasty I’ve been fattening myself up, a Mark Twain-ness, this would make a really good audio drama, the sense of the big and the small, Oh, I’d really like to become a man, oooh she’s sexy, I hope somebody adapts it for an audio drama, Philip Jose Farmer, deeply sincere fictional beliefs, Will has that sense of humour, Phil Chenevert does a lot of Conan, he’s more whimsical, he’s is the naive light and fluffy, he’s perfect for this, The Slithering Shadow, a perfect Robert E. Howard voice, characterizing the writing as a gender, a combination of sensuousness and tooth and claw, perfectly attuned to Phil Chenevert’s voice, we’re laughing along, Donald E. Westlake’s The Spy In The Elevator.

Of Monsters And Men - Boris prelim

Of Men And Monsters by William Tenn, 1968 paperback illustration by Stephen Miller

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #543 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Defenders by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #543 – The Defenders by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Marissa Vu, Evan Lampe and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, January 1953, self-submitted, H.L. Gold, Ed Emshwiller, 100 Pages Of At A Time episode 6 of the Philip K. Dick book club, The Penultimate Truth, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, Deus Irae, different themes, the only idea that survives, different argument, a purity to The Defenders, a fable, monologues from robots, normalized, sitting with the idea, watching a short film (or television episode) vs. a film, participating in a different way, he’s retelling Plato’s The Myth Of The Cave, dwelling, a fundamental point, page 12, Taylor nodded, the peep slot, a world where no life could exist, bullshit, the story doesn’t fit, what Taylor is thinking, under the delusion, that’s fake, camouflage, still eating the blue pill, the red pill, the most famous modern reworking of Plato’s cave: The Matrix (1999), Philip K. Dick’s omniscient narration is complicit, how newspapers work, I don’t think that’s true, truth bombs, fake news, in its pure state, a slot in a lead wall, Russians pasted in Moscow, that’s CNN, the newspaper, and its all fake, epistemology, externalizing the internal, initial thoughts, the media, Dick’s first comment on the media, why they seem so different, it’s humans who use these leadies as serfs, exploiting those on the bottom, assholes or not, smashing human nature to get to some kind of utopia, humans exploiting humans, seeing The Penultimate Truth as a sequel to The Defenders, those on the outside are exploiting those on the inside, a mature and sophisticated version of Isaac Asimov’s robots, loopholes, caretakers for mankind’s spaces while they get their shitty ideas out of their heads, Philip K. Dick grew up during WWII, how this story starts off, reading the newspaper, homeopapes, everything’s getting shittier, the quality of the paper goes down, happy to get any paper, you can’t complain, a delight and a reminder, a conflict within Taylor, pro pro-war, the public persona, otherwise you’re a traitor, the radio drama adaptation differences, forbidden romance, there’s no daughter, there’s a wife, the role of the wife, the a-level robot, Mary is more evolved, us against them, the next step up before universal solidarity, how Dick’s wives appear in these stories, a minor antagonist to the main character, Misadjustment, she seems to get in the way, an annoyance, feeding back to Dick’s relationships, you shouldn’t be so bitter, once you go up there, he was shocked, at the breakfast table with his newspaper and his coffee, this whole thing is fake, if you go out to that shack…, god! it’s true!, you’re going to lose your mind, don’t believe the robots, the robots are under a delusion about humanity, fatigue and disinterest, a utopia as a homogenous culture, identical laws, one ID card for every America, a steady state, if everything is Microsoft, war is better than one user log-in, Asimov’s psychohistory, the robots have humanity wrong, a telling of Nick Bostrum, AI, the paperclip problem, make people happy = take control of our minds (horribly), perverse interpretation, Elon Musk’s fear of AI, AI’s not the boogeyman, one of the Scooby Doo gang, logic tree, that’s no thing to fear, I Am Mother (2019), decanting zygotes, regular skeptical Jesse, 15,000 days later, this is not the first kid, sometimes they just don’t care about shit like that, can liquid nitrogen make glass more brittle?, if you’re paying attention to the details of a story…, humans are so fucking stupid, failing ethical exams, the Russian fox experiment, Moon (2009), low budget science fiction good stuff, Philip K. Dick is wrong, they can lie but they can’t kill, the Asimov defect, weakening the second law, ruthlessness, the long-winded a-level robot, to order the lives of human beings, stories are three levels (vs. adaptations as two levels), a virtual reality game, illusion vs. the truth, not-a, working out what it would mean if you say this…, the three laws are laws for people, what is an order?, an urgent request, guides for moral behavior, lying as more acceptable than killing, they’re whole interactions are one big lie, all the little lies, their ends justify the means, when you change who it is and what they’re relationship is to others you see a change in the meanings of the words, four Russian soldiers, bender-pistols, slem-gun, all men, some more humans hatch out, their wormholes, in the radio drama, can we get married and have babies?, repopulating the Earth, her enemy, not Russians (Asians), a female as the lead changes the tone, its about reproduction, what motherhood means, sometimes she’s scary and sometimes she kind, a nod to Blade Runner, the dog as a figment of her imagination, the relationship humans have to pets, putting down pets vs. putting down humans, fur-babies, not our servants and not our masters, like Sky-Net but overly motherly, it’s all about power relations, the robots manipulate in a kind of a chess game, interesting stuff, trying to create empathy (or foster it) using anti-empathetic means, a great reversal, do the robots wither away?, keep a watch out?, eight years, faking the news, they become slaves again, The Zap Gun aka Project Plowshare, straight out of the newspapers, we need to take the weapons of war and turn them into the tools of peace, materiel, DC-4s as civilian transport aircraft, letting the humans become exhausted, something to this, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Supernova In The East, there was no stopping the Japanese empire, cultural zeal for expansion, a feudal society to an industrial power, all throughout the bureaucracy, how much terror and horror happened in WWII, within Japan, getting weary, let’s tire of this war, Afghanistan’s war doesn’t tire, Taylor is starting to feel it, he’s a writer in the novel, the rhetorizer, a new artioforg liver, the Yance-man, such a great Cold War story, its all in the open in The Zap Gun, the chosen consumer, a brilliant way, magazines about weapons, obsessed with war, a gun nut, all the needs are being met (all without war), Steen cares about this sort of stuff, the cost of F-35s is always going up, F-16s, F-18s, F-14s, f-15, $89.2 million each, the history of firearms, the M-16 vs. the AK-47, doing it out in the open, the M-1 Abrams tanks, there hasn’t been a tank battle since Iraq War I, A-10s, its all done out in the open, people don’t care, how much you exhaust in war production, how far the British Empire fell after WWII, they gave away the whole empire on a point of pride, British rationing (until 1956 not the 1960s), the 1990s Outer Limits episodes, robots with a utopian vision, a reactionary coup, the robot will fill in for you, replacing the father, reimposing the patriarchal family, Sales Pitch, tehcnology changes the attitudes of people, now we can go to space again, obsessed with the frontier as an escape, a reactionary agenda, Family Values, =lull=, annoying Evan, just to displease you, the pink light is the leady without radioactivity, discovering the beautiful world of love and empathy, the VALIS experience, a literal incarnation, our world is fake, the danger of a new dogmatic illusion, the commander, just an observer, breaking through the veil, until there’s a rooster crowing, Franks, explaining what the Soviet Union was, page 8, ascending out of the Tom Mix vault, Moss nodded, the stage trap, the idea of a stage, all the world’s a stage for them, those city videos, all the reports, all the samples, reverse Westworld, playing along, the horrible world, workers were everywhere, the labor corps, slaves, build V-2 rockets, what’s life like for regular folk in this world?, the stage was deafening with noise, rock and lead, lead and rock, a description of what’s going on on the surface of the Earth, what it’s like in the North Pacific right now, a lethal desert of slag, the red sun, something metallic stirred, constructed with feverish haste, the hellscape we get in Second Variety, the mine, the claws, the hellscape of The Terminator future, infiltrators covered with real human flesh!, all fake, a lot of interesting play, afraid of the stages, scary, our own minds looking out at the universe from our own senses, page 10, indirect evidence, a smell-o-printer, a VR one, blasting heat at your face, simulation, I don’t see reality as it is…, proprioception, our world in reality, the homunculus issue, Men In Black, sweeping all the problems into that little man, the leadies as senses, let’s test that idea again, we’re being lied to about reality, deep down its a really interesting science fiction, science, epistemology story, where are the c-class leadies?, taking care of the water-mains, their in the narrative rooms, how they make mistakes in the propaganda, forgetting to bathe the representatives in radioactives, making apologies, trying to protect the humans, the truncated first law.

Galaxy, January 1953 - Illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

Italian cover mirroring The Defenders

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #461 – READALONG: The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #461 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Evan Lampe talk about The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Imagination, October 1953, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, not that bad?, a lot to like, hate the ending, The Hood Maker, ambiguous clever or something, the story doesn’t need that, a tale of ecology, a fake tourist experience, they don’t know what they’re doing, what are you doing here?, long lost Earth, myth and legend, Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire, two kilo pos, love story, grandmother, grandfather?, incest issues, skinny dipping, more confusing, is it really happening?, a shared delusion?, a fairy realm?, deluding the same thing, she brought along some clothes, it’s Earth in the story, the twist in the tail, Planet Of The Apes, Richard, the coin, titillate our curiosity, the meaning of the coin, it could be Earth in the TV adaptation (but there’s no evidence for it), hook shaped rocks, the robant (robot) is lying, motivations, bad writing, we don’t get the ending, tell us what it means Jesse, struck, she’s the same old woman who appears in a handful of Dick stories, the old woman in The Cookie Lady, a personality, a sexuality, Captive Market, Douglas or Doug in a story is Philip K. Dick, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, writing women, why is she an old woman and not an old man?, gender swap, he buries her in the sea, some birds flying around, E. Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one”, a subtle environmental message, a symbol out of where we came from (the sea), it doesn’t look like Earth, I didn’t want it to be like that, all the money being made on genetic ancestry, big business, kinda bougey, white privilege, she’s rich, or is she using her last resources?, this is not what I want, Lovecraft is obsessed with ancestry, you better not look to much, a historical argument, genocide and slavery, no idyllic past, historical memory, North Carolina, some very weird things, the forgetting of the Earth, despoiled, garbage floating in that ocean, Strange Eden, ancient astronauts, Circe, develop the planet, humans are terrible, when you go picnicing, when Mother Earth returns to die, supposed to have a resonant feeling, the robant as a culmination of the industrial society, big red eyes (I’m angry?), Fondly Fahrenheit, almost beautiful, he went along with the scheme, the acting is good, the scripting isn’t very good, an extra character (the girlfriend), science fictional trappings that don’t resonate, it only makes sense if they’re delusional, no time travel explanations, he doesn’t really love his girlfriend, he’s from the periphery of the empire, the captain, whatever weird porn, fake sex, fake tourist sites, make the rubes happy, the girlfriend wants to go to the “city” too, the rat race of the corporate ladder, maybe the old lady is his true love, it is weird that he has these old women characters, formulaic vs. instinctual, what her body is like, how beautiful she is (really), sexualize a 340 year old lady, the money is double, the names are the same, old women can be beautiful, she’s going back, give this woman some dignity, the guys are kind of the assholes, not about the dignity of her death, a suicide pact, a suicide mission, the service worker angle, you waitress pretends to like you, the rubes, fakeness, they’re lying the whole time, this is Earth, it’s not Earth, oh, it’s Earth!, a lie that turns out to be the truth, genuineness, genuine emotion, genuine reality, the industrialization, the robant is more loyal than the humans, Norton, beautiful and dark, they sink into it together, muddle motivations, its only there to scold Andrews, the American experience, we need punishment, they’re channeling Americans, there’s no punishment at the end for the two liars, we don’t need punishment, it is not about punishment, why she’s a woman makes sense if her robant is her loyal servant, to deliver her for that scene, the original title was supposed to be Legend, a quest like the one for the Holy Grail, from thirty years ago, The Twilight Zone (1985/6), Voices In The Earth, ghosts, grass and flowers, repopulating the Earth, a Wall-E style rebirth, an elegy not a renewal, nature doesn’t give a fuck, there are no ghosts, the slug that crawls over that rock from a temple from 1,000 years ago doesn’t care, what makes something true, not a justified true belief, the skeletal moonlight, the recycling bin, we’re outside of the story, she’s representative of nature, leaves and branches, a voice like rustling leaves, a faded leaf carried on the wind, the Earth is cracked congealed baked degenerate, crusted with salt and waste, line by line, evocative and beautiful, Earth is green, what do we make of her being deaf?, different deafness, sensitive to the hearing community, hearing loss vs. complete hearing loss, the second to last page, Andrews, senile and deaf, easier to justify tricking her, disability, if she’s representative of Nature, Nature doesn’t speak to us, they can say things right in front of her, spitting on Mother Nature, it works somehow, a small idea, The Commuter, Prominent Author, wonderful technology, a joke, devastating the Earth so badly we won’t even know it is Earth, Planet For Transients, Survey Team, post-humans, leaving their mother, the seeds for a new form of life, a human civilization on Mars, this is what our species does, die and face our sins, that should have been the story, I go to the hair salon, their stylized white hair, upping the pink nebula, weird bouffant hair, regular mousy black, vs. Louis XIV hair, are we supposed to be disgusted by the tourists, class warfare, fulfilling her wishes, fell flat, she can hear the bird, Andrews is interpreting it correctly (just low on oxygen), toxins and radiation, fantasy is comforting, maybe Jesse dreamed the comfort, how harsh reality is, the comfort of a woman’s body, late late late winter and spring romance, that’s all the tourist experience is, Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, the intersection of old empires, the Roman Empire, Syria, Bible stories, the British, French, and American empires, poverty, managed and regulated, Hunting The Deceitful Turkey, hunting, Mother Nature is tricky and deceitful and full of irony, betrayed by her own bone, he’s a bad shot, if you interpret it right, he’s a vegetarian, too sensitive, reading Twain, Mark Twain deflecting with humour, Dick meditates in the spaces of the characters, the other characters are only there to deliver the scenes, how horribly we treat people, selling the dream, and sometimes they do get it, accidental moment of grace, research, hallucination, give her a fake memory of visiting Earth, that open question, the death chamber scene in Soylent Green, Edward G. Robinson (Sol), removing the ambiguity, the signature of this whole series, taking the lesson of Inception (2010) to heart too much, liquid realities, thematically grounded vs. fuzzy, The Commuter is an amazing and subtle short story, I can see it, he can’t see it.

The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

Watching for Robert Sheckley’s Watchbird

SFFaudio Online Audio

Every time I read a Robert Sheckley story I become re-enamored with the cutting burn of his insights. The latest Sheckley tale that I’ve been reading is his 1953 futuristic fable Watchbird. It’s about a new policing tool, a device that can prevent murder at the point of action. It’s not funny exactly, but it is satirical, and quite beautiful in parts:

“Over the town, the watchbird soared in a long, lazy curve. Its aluminum hide glistened in the morning sun, and dots of light danced on its stiff wings. Silently it flew.

Silently, but with all senses functioning. Built-in kinesthetics told the watchbird where it was, and held it in a long search curve. Its eyes and ears operated as one unit, searching, seeking.”

The watchbirds of the title are flying robots equipped with the tools to do their jobs – they sniff out the “outpouring of certain glands” and “taste” the “deviant brain wave” of a murderer before he or she can strike. But the watchbirds have also been programmed with the knowledge that not all murderers are wrathful, some like one hit-man who shows up in the story, have no feelings about the murders they commit. And so, they must learn to watch out for these hidden murders, to look out for the precursors to cold killings. And that’s where I think Sheckley’s radical departure comes in.

Denotation is at the heart of human conflict.

I take this as the thesis of Robert Sheckley’s short story Watchbird. Like many of those classic Science Fiction stories, Watchbird is nothing like plausible. I can’t imagine that Galaxy’s editor, Horace Gold, accepted Sheckley’s tale on the grounds that it was a logical extrapolation of where technology was going. This, even despite the long history of unmanned aerial vehicles which I am sure both Sheckley and Gold were aware of. Indeed, though we now live in a world where the likes of the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, equipped with air-to-ground AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, can strike any target – the technology was never the issue. Sheckley’s concern is in what motivates their use. So the question then, as now, is: “What’s the difference between a killing and a murder?”

In answer to that question I think Watchbird should be better known, more read, and perhaps like Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984, it should be read by those who would seek to govern. Sadly, I think this unlikely. I’m not convinced Watchbird‘s epistemological skepticism is as palatable as the simplicity of: a “boot stamping on a human face— forever” or that of a megalomaniacal pig.

Epistemology is a hard, hard sell, but as we strive for the moral conclusions we so desire, we must, if we are to be clever, first reconcile all the varied definitions that we think we know.

This kind of story is of history and humanity, written as with an exploded view. Words like “right” and “wrong”, “murder” and “kill” are used to map the world and as such they are the explanation of, and sometimes the reasons for, the actions we see all around us. As evidence I can only submit Watchbird:

Audiobooks:

LIBRIVOX - Watchbird by Robert SheckleyWatchbird
By Robert Sheckley; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 47 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: May 16, 2010
Strange how often the Millennium has been at hand. The idea is peace on Earth, see, and the way to do it is by figuring out angles. First published in the February 1953 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

Audio Drama:

Tales Of TomorrowTales Of Tomorrow – Watchbird
Based on a story by Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: ABC Radio (American Broadcasting Company)
Broadcast: 1953
Provider: OTR-Cat.com

2000X - Watchbird based on the story by Robert Sheckley2000X – The Watchbird
By Robert Sheckley; Performed by a full cast
Audible Download – Approx. 35 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Publisher: The Hollywood Theater of the Ear / Audible
Published: 2000
Science invents a flying robot that prevents murder, but there’s a fateful glitch. Adapted for audio by William F. Nolan and Ytzhak Berle, with a cast featuring Newell Alexander, Janet Carroll, Jerry Castillo, Joe Greco, Melissa Greenspan, Allan Miller, Stefan Rudnicki, Hamilton Camp, Brian Finney, and Bradley Schreiber.

Springbok Radio - SF'68SF’68 – Watchbird
Based on the story by Robert Sheckley; Adapted by Michael McCabe; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3|* – Approx. 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: Springbok Radio
Broadcast: 1968
Provider: The Zombie Astronaut’s Frequency Of Fear #0.048
*The adaptation begins at approx. the 43 minute mark.
SF’68 was produced in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1968.

Other:

-The original publication in Galaxy Science Fiction |ETEXT|HTML|

-Video adaptation in The Masters Of Science Fiction TV series.

Posted by Jesse Willis