The SFFaudio Podcast #650 – The Crystal Crypt by Philip K. Dick; read by Ian Bradford Ngongotaha Pugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (49 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Evan Lampe.
Talked about on today’s show:
Planet Stories, January 1954, his first big year, The Variable Man, junky stories, really simple, too simple, if somebody did something, Philip K. Dick was not a wise man, the reader is stupid, negging, read all of Philip K. Dick except for his kid’s stories and his posthumous stuff, a world encapsulated in a globe, Stability, 1987, written in 1947 or earlier, a lot of weirdness, miniaturization, what goes on (or in) the Rhetorizer, looking at somebody’s desk, a paperweight, stapler, paperclips, a fan blowing air over your desk, worlds in a bottle, Paul explains worlds in a bottle, escaping the mundanity of a desk job, St. Elsewhere, Homicide: Life On The Street, [Tommy Westphall], when the liberation from horrible work comes, shake it up, a little world, god power, Kandor, repressed, Supergirl, aliens from Mars, Martians Come In Clouds, Fortress Of Solitude, if Kandor was decanted, a city full of immigrants, worried about status, the Japanese immigration policy is xenophobic, what’s in the briefcase, gimmicky futuristic desk stuff, office supplies, a theme hidden in other Philip K. Dick stuff, Paycheck, ridiculous and awesome, what the hell is this?, writing off part of you life, a secret meaning, from a timescoop, hidden memory, missing memory, a fiddly little concept, I wonder if it has secret meaning!, momentary escape, the nuclear bomb, destruction, a flash of light, connected to the nuclear, connected to the cold war, it’s still WWII, fragile dystopia,The Man Who Japed, War Game, Monopoly as an alien invasion, taking the mundane and making it fantastic, this stick is a sword, watch out for the pinecone grenade, the framing device, twist stories, too neat, it doubles back on itself, why is he doing this?, a bunch of people on a plane, the plane is forced back down, cops on the bus for a shoplifter, a standard writing technique, supposed to be spies, not professional spies, they execute the job perfectly, no operational control, super incompetent recruitment, doofuses, they tell it for no reason, we’re all on the same team (Earthers), twigged into, Evan should have picked up on, stark terror ruled the inner-flight ship, Mars-Terra, inter-national, inner solar system?, the black clad leiter, what the hell is a leiter, Gauleiter, district leader, these are the Nazis, they’re looking like the SS, redskinning themselves, dressing up as locals, they’re wearing shorts, leiderhosen, did you see the woman, she was very attractive, the breasts get mentioned, figures of fear, a half dozen in the glass tomb, half their leaders, Nazi imagery, we’re supposed to be on the side of the Earthers, no death’s head on their uniform cap, leiter = leader and ladder, Martians in disguise, Inglourious Basterds (2009), Standartenführer = standard leader, written for a market that includes Planet Stories, the context for the magazine vs. the political context, recruitment, victory gardens, embedded in the war, on the granular level of regular people, block leiters, block warden, disseminate propaganda for 60-80 households, Nazi officials, we are holding a rally, keeping notes on all the families, really horrible, a (school) class snitch, little Johnny: look at that squirrel, little Sally informs the teacher, snitch culture, the violence of the state, that central vision, the local costumes, the flavour of the city and the people, the village is a shithole, a pig’s sty, the leadership is very technically savvy, bronze age, this man has never shaved his face with a Martian stone, how did Mars get that way, Babylonians, Sumerians, an ancient sun-baked city, a city seldom seen, an iron hand, black priests with rods of fire, the Terran senate, Erick and the two behind him, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, deep in enemy territory, what’s so ridiculous about the story, “Thacher”, it makes sense, Philip K. Dick is a real smart guy, a thatcher makes a cover, he’s a martian, white-face, a really fake beard, the red skin, the movie adaptation, these are supposed to humans who emigrated to Mars long ago, predating humans?, Ray Bradbury, colonists later turning against Earth, a standard theme in Science Fiction, Elon Musk’s Mars colony, a vast wall, it felt the wind and sun for centuries, the technology level, an hour from Mars to Earth, all they have to do to look like Martians, Omnilingual by H. Beam Piper, several hours of audio drama, a history of the Suez crisis and how it was connected to the European Union, the British seized Suez, not a normal colony, to control trade, this story is ultimately about financial position, Mars will have to do what Terra asks, commercial demands felt, quite a story, an interesting technology to preserve cities from war, reducing a whole library, microfilm, make something that was tiny big, the important contents, the data, the information, the images, using it for ransom, ransoming all the people in that city, there is no war yet!, this is what the Japanese did, the sneak attack, the stab in the back, Pearl Harbour, how dare they!, annexing the Sudetenland, for interplanetary trade, the British the Americans, the Japanese forcing trade on China by seizing ports, the leadership on Earth vs the leadership on Mars, the short film, double down on the Nazis, no nuance there at all, most Philip K. Dick doesn’t adapt well, some telepathy wandering around with the cops, The Hood Maker, the block warden, the test, the box is a character, THE TRUTH, HE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH, YES, THAT IS THE TRUTH, so easily fooled, pinwheeling your arms, how cops justify stuff, his head connected with my baton, I didn’t *destroy* the city, are they okay?, the walk up to the city, joining the caravan, not horses not camels (hoofers), the problem with this as an adaptation, they just tell when they should have operational security, when you do some crime and you tell all your friends, why this is in there, based on a book, based on a year spent with the homicide unit in Baltimore, David Simon, a sales pitch that works every time, a person confronted by the cops, sitting in the squad car, a human being asking your questions, some mental problems, ROTC for ten minutes, H.P. Lovecraft couldn’t finish high-school due to a nervous breakdown, tests are stressful, its very easy to crack, LAWYER, I want a lawyer, a cop’s job is not to help you, entrap you, catch you speeding, they’re whole thing is putting people in prison, you’re on a bus, like a passenger on a plane, three spies, more likes Hans Landa, testament to how Philip K. Dick feels, coups attempted all the time, a bunch of mercenaries sent into Venezuela, what’s in your briefcase, let’s just drink, very Philip K. Dick pressure, fundamentally broken at that point, spoilers in general, the first time Marissa read it, the reveal, there’s not really anything else, stressed out by seeing SS uniforms on film, Movie Tone News, the stress level is incredible, where’s the mall?, legal requirements, what’s in your bag?, some drug, open alcohol, what have you been drinking tonight?, not the story itself, its the logic of the building of the story, a real phenomenon, one of his weakest stories, do you know how fast you were going?, please confess, why would you do that?, questions bring stress, lying is something you learn, lying is a stage of development, who knocked over the milk?, the dog knocked over the milk, Werwile of The Crystal Crypt by Gardner F. Fox, hashtag boobtube, women in test tubes, in comics, I underestimated him, if you have a family who loves you, most people don’t read, Paul can read for himself, enjoying a story together, watching a TV show together, playing computer games, you can ask your mom to read it, adorable, Jesse’s mom was not a fan of that story, Harry Turtledove, reading The Iliad for fun, what we did for entertainment before radio and TV, designed to be read aloud, reading Oscar Wilde, reading an audiobook, most people’s interactions are through the audio medium, its not that weird, unlocks the lady in the jar, a retelling of SHE by H. Rider Haggard, she knows everything, some good ideas, three planets, throne planet, laboratory planet, arsenal planet, a Marvel movie final fight scene, the big boss fight, great writing for the first 4 pages, transformed language, half-Borg and half-Vulcan, Seven Of Nine, she gets damseled, suitable for marriage now, pretty funny stuff, a lot of bad writing in the middle, there’s no reason or explanation for it being a “Werwile”, a god named Grock, lots of great vocab words, there’s a scene that is almost identical, the dressing up in native costume and joining a caravan heading to a city, Dick’s first sale that was published was to Planet Stories [Beyond Lies The Wub], studying the market, reading the story in context, that cyclopean look to the city, a market that he understood, if you can get into Fantasy & Science Fiction, one story into Astounding (Imposter), another weak connection, The Twilight Zone, Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?, more like a Fredric Brown, palate cleansers between bigger stories, dressing up as a native, joining a caravan, fun, what a lot of Planet Stories is about, playing dress-up and hide and seek, hey dad what’s that little snow-globe you keep on your desk, hey look at all the dead bodies floating around in the water, HBO MAX, the Watchmen sequel series, Don Johnson, cool in the 1980s, our heroine superhero cop, team blue, her snooper x-ray device, a secret panel with a KKK uniform behind it, he’s got the black clad leiter uniform in the closet, he’s the Thacher character, he used it to improve himself within the party, a Voight-kampff test, an IQ test, doing the latrines or calculating ballistics, the social hierarchy within the Martian society, William Gibson’s technology not being evenly distributed, they half to come to the city to have their marriage performed, an official has to do it, grey robes he never takes off and will be buried in, awesome costumes, the fear of totalitarian style government, accede to our demands, that’s empire, Evan, you need to trade with us on our terms, you take this opium, you need to give us gold, that’s extraction, the villagers aren’t cowed, good breeding stock, very Nazi, what’s the point of governments counting marriages, you belong to us, official breeding programs, shcakc up with every girl he wants to get into the pants of, marry all of them, Dick took serial monogamy very seriously, worried about being cuckolded, Beyond The Door, worth reading despite being weak, unpolished Dick, there was no polish on The Unteleported Man aka Lies, Inc., just stapled together, Werwile Of The Crystal Crypt was a much worse story, the tonal shift, a suitable bride having her superior mind wiped, Planet Stories are fun even when the stories are very weak.