The SFFaudio Podcast #650 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Crystal Crypt by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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.

Werwile Of The Crystal Crypt by Gardner F. Fox

The Crystal Crypt and Werwile Of The Crystal Crypt

The Crystal Crypt by Philip K. Dick

The Crystal Crypt [2013 short film]

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

Reading, Short And Deep #280 – The First Time Machine by Fredric Brown

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #280

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The First Time Machine by Fredric Brown

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The First Time Machine was first published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1955.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson Become a Patron!

Reading, Short And Deep #111 – Hall Of Mirrors by Fredric Brown

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #111

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Hall Of Mirrors by Fredric Brown

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Hall Of Mirrors was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1953.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #016 – The House by Fredric Brown

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #016

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The House by Fredric Brown.

The House was first published in Fantastic, August 1960.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Commentary: Appendix N: Inspirational And Educational Reading by Gary Gygax (from AD&D’s original Dungeon Masters Guide)

SFFaudio Commentary

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide by Gary GygaxGary Gygax, co-creator of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons added, on page 224 of the 1979 Dungeon Masters Guide, a list of “Inspirational And Educational Reading.”

Long out of print, but still incredibly relevant, this list of inspirations for the phenomenon that is Dungeons & Dragons, and role-playing games in general, deserves to be better known. There is a Wikipedia entry for the “sources and influences on the development of Dungeons & Dragons”, but there’s nothing like looking at the real thing.

So, here it is in it’s entirety, following it you will find hypertext links to the Wikipedia entries for the specifically mentioned novels and collections (when available).

Appendix N: Inspirational And Educational Reading by Gary Gygax

Appendix N lists the following authors and works:

Poul AndersonTHREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS; THE HIGH CRUSADE; THE BROKEN SWORD
John BellairsTHE FACE IN THE FROST
Leigh Brackett
Fredric Brown
Edgar Rice Burroughs – “Pellucidar” Series; Mars Series; Venus Series
Lin Carter – “World’s End” Series
L. Sprague de CampLEST DARKNESS FALL; FALLIBLE FIEND; et al.
[L. Sprague] de Camp & [Fletcher] Pratt. “Harold Shea” Series; CARNELIAN CUBE
August Derleth
Lord Dunsany
P. J. [Philip Jose] Farmer – “The World of the Tiers” Series; et al.
Gardner [F.] Fox – “Kothar” Series; “Kyrik” Series; et al.
R.E. [Robert E.] Howard – “Conan” Series
Sterling LanierHIERO’S JOURNEY
Fritz Leiber – “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” Series; et al.
H.P. Lovecraft
A. MerrittCREEP, SHADOW, CREEP; [The] MOON POOL; DWELLERS IN THE MIRAGE; et al.
Michael MoorcockSTORMBRINGER; STEALER OF SOULS; “Hawkmoon” Series (esp. the first three books)
Andre Norton
Andrew J. Offutt – editor SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS III
Fletcher PrattBLUE STAR; et al.
Fred SaberhagenCHANGELING EARTH; et al.
Margaret St. ClairTHE SHADOW PEOPLE; SIGN OF THE LABRYS
J.R.R. TolkienTHE HOBBIT; “Ring Trilogy” [aka The Lord Of The Rings]
Jack VanceTHE EYES OF THE OVERWORLD; THE DYING EARTH; et al.
Stanley [G.] Weinbaum
Manly Wade Wellman
Jack Williamson
Roger ZelaznyJACK OF SHADOWS; “Amber” Series; et al.

Now with regards to the audio availability of the works and authors on this list I have composed the following set of notes:

Too few of the novels and collections specifically mentioned above are or ever have been audiobooks. But, there are several that have: the two Jack Vance books, the Tolkien books, of course, and Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword is available from Downpour.com (narrated by Bronson Pinchot). Unfortunately very few of the remaining bolded titles are in the public domain. One of the interesting exceptions is The Moon Pool by A. Merritt, which is available from LibriVox and narrated by veteran narrator Mark Douglas Nelson.

Of the series, those are the ones mentioned in quotes, I recommend Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first Pellucidar novel, At the Earth’s Core which is available from narrator David Stifel’s site – we also have a podcast discussion of that book HERE. And we did a show on A Princess Of Mars, which is the first audiobook in what Gygax calls the “Mars series.” The audiobook is HERE and the podcast is HERE.

Andre Norton’s work is actually well represented on LibriVox.org, have a look HERE.

Several of Fritz Leiber’s “Fafhrd & Gray Mouser” collections were produced by Audible, HERE. But several of the stories are also public domain and are available on our PDF Page, for turning into audiobooks or podcasts!

Roger Zelazny’s first Amber series book was once available with Roger Zelazny’s narration, today Audible.com has the original ten book series as narrated by Allesandro Juliani.

As for H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Lord Dunsany, we have done several audiobooks of their stories for The SFFaudio Podcast, available on Podcast Page, so that’s a good place to start.

Further recommendations would have me point you towards the excellent small press audiobook publisher Audio Realms, which has the majority of the great Wayne June’s readings of H.P. Lovecraft. They also have two volumes of Robert E. Howard’s “Weird Works.” Even more Robert E. Howard is available from Tantor Media.

I should also point out that most of the authors listed in Appendix N are now represented somewhere on our PDF Page, a page made up of U.S. public domain stories, poems, plays, novels, essays and comics. Please make some audiobooks, audio dramas, or podcasts from them! We will all be all the richer for it.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #247 – READALONG: On The Beach by Nevil Shute; read by Simon Prebble. Jesse fends off illness to lead us in an intriguing discussion about Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel. This podcast features Jesse, Jenny, Seth, and Paul.

Talked about on today’s show:
Reversed seasons in Southern Hemisphere; novel originally serialized in London weekly periodical The Sunday Graphic; “on the beach” as naval phrase meaning “retired from service”; the novel almost universally acclaimed by critics and readers alike; what is the ideal time frame for an end-of-the-world scenario?; On The Beach as bleak existential novel; the author’s avoidance of political or religious polemic; 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, and Anthony Perkins; Australia as a secular nation; Earth Abides by George R. Stewart; Endgame by Samuel Becket; the novel as a metaphor for terminal cancer patients; The Star by Arthur C. Clarke; abstract sterile end-of-world mechanics, a “cosy catastrophe“; 2008 BBC radio adaptation; 2000 TV movie starring Bryan Brown, modernized and featuring a much more optimistic tone; Roland Emmerich’s disaster flick 2012; could the novel’s characters done more to ensure the continued survival of humanity?; fallout shelters, “duck and cover!”; Chernobyl; rampant alcoholism; euthanasia; attitudes toward media–were newspapers responsible for the war?; regression of technology in the novel; The Waveries by Fredric Brown; we wish the Cosy Catastrophe genre would supplant Paranormal Romance; reflection of a pre-WWI era arms race; 1959 movie version tackles Cold War paranoia; U.S. government’s criticism of the novel; Five Years by David Bowie; faced with the end of the world, our panel would evidently read Marcel Proust; needless revisions in film adaptations; much action takes place “off the page” in the novel; lookism; The Scarlet Plague by Jack London; Simon Prebble’s excellent audio narration; George Orwell’s 1984Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl and logotherapy; Jay Lake and his bout with cancer; Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, adapted by Alfred Hitchcock, and how we’re haunted by the people who are no longer with us; the novel’s three-dimensional characters; Nevil Shute employs typical British understatement; Lord of the Rings‘s Denethor and the idea of hopelessness; Egyptian tomb goods and attitudes towards death; Jesse plans his funeral rites.

On The Beach - illustration by John Rowland

On The Beach - Ralph Lane adaptation - RADIATION

Scorpion at Bremerton - illustration by Ralph Lane

ON THE BEACH - illustration by Ralph Lane - glass bricks

Posted by Seth Wilson