The SFFaudio Podcast #737 – The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper – read by Mark Nelson for LibriVox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novel (7 hours 18 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Trish E. Matson, and Tony DeSimone.
Talked about on today’s show:
Junkyard Planet, a precursor, Graveyard Of Dreams, Galaxy, 1958, the H. Beam Piper’s Federation, Space Viking, a little earlier, the Federation is doom, ruinous, more meat, this book sucks, Klatooine, trash compactor planet, crashed star destroyer planet, the throughline, fun title, graveyard of empires, Poul Anderson, a larger space future history, Dominic Flandry, the clock is ticking for humanity, influenced from other SF, Helen O’Loy by Lester Del Rey, the positronic brain is Asimov, Star Trek, a Foundation book, the situation with Merlin, a lot of ideological stuff, bogged down in the wrong things, recounting the growth of one major idea, about making companies, management, not interesting, space manager, Michael Whelan, battle armour, wreck, that has nothing to do with computers, all of the battle set pieces, pirate infested, a landspeeder flying across a landscape, the carbon dioxide planet, pollution, the best cover is the Valigursky cover, the cosmic robot, the mcguffin, a con job, the audience hates you, rather clever, the sexy mermaid movie is full of office managers, an old manatee, writers and moviemakers are interested in sales, if he had called it Junkyard Planet, great ideas, civil war stuff, Fox Travis, an Alamo guy named Travis, finding and marketing war surplus, matter converters, post scarcity, power units, Universe by Robert A. Heinlein, a Heinlein lift, replicator, a very tired replicator, sad and melted, a living being like a shoggoth, the growth and management of new businesses, marriage stuff, compared to his mystery novel, not very mysterious, not bounded by genre lines, a space opera, a sociological novel, ship battles, space battle management simulator, soccer, England, Premiere League manager simulator, advertising for products, Master Of Orion, MOO2, space fleet management, a startup company, revitalizing the economy, character names, an interesting idea book bogged down in details we are not interested in, dry discourse, here’s some news, Asimov does it better, the background and the ideas, the world, faith in this one supercomputer that’s going to solve all their problems, more melon farming, an interesting review on RPG.net, historical themes, the Pacific island cargo cults, temporary prosperity, larger war themes, cargos that came, influences on the RPG Traveler, Space Viking is even more of a template for Traveler, lost technology, Merlin is a higher TL (tech level), a poison chalice, a subrace, the stellar trigger, build up a whole little polity, nothing lasts, there’s junk all around, the ideological stuff with regard to all the capital is lying around, the laws are designed to do things, for us too, setting up the game for the market of that good, you can fuck up an economy by having bad laws, who is making the laws and for what purpose, hiding the truth to improve the economy by lying, the theme of the book is: should you lie for people’s good, what happened?, Merlin knew their society was going to collapse, but he told them to lie about it, not an AI, offering falsehoods as suggestions, Arthur C. Clarke’s Space Odyssey series, a sign of true sentience and intelligence, R2-D2 clearly has free will, deceiving Luke, a plot to trick a human, Jawas or Princess Leia?, its the other way around?, where are we going Batman?, he/it’s long association, Jesse’s favourite scene in the book:
He climbed out of bed, knuckled the sleep-sand out of his eyes, threw his robe around him, and started across the room to the bath cubicle.
They had decided to have breakfast together his first morning home. The party had broken up late, and then there had been the excitement of opening the presents he had brought back from Terra. Nobody had had a chance to talk about Merlin, or about what he was going to do, now that he was home. That, and his career of mendacity, would start at breakfast. He wanted to let his father get to the table first, to run interference for him; he took his time with his toilet and dressed carefully and slowly. Finally, he zipped up the short waist-length jacket and went out.
His father and mother and Flora were at the table, and the serving-robot was floating around a few inches off the floor, steam trailing from its coffee urn and its tray lid up to offer food. He greeted everybody and sat down at his place, and the robot came around to him. His mother had selected all the things he’d been most fond of six years ago: shovel-snout bacon, hotcakes, starberry jam, things he hadn’t tasted since he had gone away. He filled his plate and poured a cup of coffee.
shovel snout bacon!, starberry jam!, we gotta sell our wine, Omnitrend’s Universe 2 is up on Archive,org, stop calling it spoilers!, call it enhancers!, Larry Niven, Neutron Star, Binary Systems’ Starflight and Starflight 2: Trade Routes Of The Cloud Nebula, Star Trek, Star Trek economics manager, analogous characters, a whole universe to explore, pirates, a mystery, the old ones, Babylon 5 sort of stuff, the fuel you’ve been using is ancient aliens that are still alive, Endurium is made of people, Robin Hobb’s The Liveship Traders series, Frontier Elite, a new Mario game: labyrinth manager, hire a bunch of turtles, grow a bunch of mushrooms, how else are you gonna keep the princess safe from rescuers?, padded out, pirate battle scenes, the construction of his merchant fleet, a High Crusade situation, overtures in that direction, undercooked things, a whole third class group of people, dealing with the unemployed, women can press buttons too, cardboard characters, I’m in hospital because I’m so shocked, Sylvie, a go-getter, a marriage but hardly any romance or dialogue, romancing little fuzzies, he ends up with a different girl, fixups or expansions, Time Pawn vs. Doctor Futurity by Philip K. Dick, shares, you’re a stockholder, he doesn’t care, ships carrying old CRTs to the Philippines, the junkyard stuff, military surplus planet, PBY aircraft tuned into luxury homes for rich people, a downed pilot in the Sulu Sea, there’s no junk, too expensive, space travel is really expensive, an analogy for carpet bagging, Firefly, these guys are the losers of the civil war, ex-browncoats, border states, what happened to this great economy we had, overblown, wicker aircraft, the Seabees, what the hell are you doing, shit out cargo, chewing gum, reconcile the values, sending their kids to university in the states, let’s fake a reason, if we just believe hard enough, faith, McDonnell Douglas, hilarious, in eight months when this comes out, a weird time on twitter, Lockheed-Martini, calling themselves real, faith and rule-sets, creating whole classes of people, the vague idea of the book, David Drake and S.M. Stirling, dark age of magic, evil demonic empire, having a computer in your back pocket, interested in the wrong things, what we want, if he had written it differently, people make mistakes, Tony’s reaction, Jesse wanted to like this book, obsessed with smoking, a lot of smoking and gun polishing, a very interesting intelligent man, not a powerful man, a working class guy who was able to write, a lot of self-taughtness, he could do great things if he was in such a position, is this helping the story?, inside this book there are good ideas and such, more focused on a theme, its not objectively true, he might have thought this is my best work ever, an objective star rating, a thesis for why it sucks in the way that it does, run a Traveler campaign, stand around and tell us about what’s happening elsewhere, Little Fuzzy, a trial, heart and humour, folksy, forgettable characters, Calvin Morris, Omnilingual, a modest focus, doing something like this, what estate agents do, how to make money off of an abandoned resource, informative to his life, The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946), warplane graveyard, his nightwatchman job, Jesse is not a big character guy, Murder In The Gunroom, a lady, a good mystery, a solid book, Graveyard Of Dreams should be public domain, virtually everything of his is public domain, John J. McGuire, A Planet For Texans, Cowboy Range In Heaven, Lone Star Planet, the “wild west”, everyone was very polite, when and wear you can carry firearms, Broken Arrow (1950), Jimmy Stewart, emancipated!, New Mexico, Cochise, Indian culture, Jay Silverheels, seal the peace, they refrigerated her, Gregory Peck, The Bravados (1958), Joan Collins, Lee Van Cleef and Henry Silva, sounds like a western, a catholic vibe, killing em off one by one, has a wife and kid, you killed my wife!, you raped my wife!, a really good ending, we thought he was a good guy, western media, the Dark Tower books by Stephen King, cinemascope!, Gregory Peck is not a nerdy, Jimmy Stewart is nerdier, they don’t laugh out loud very long, there’s this giant class of amazing culture, the fans of the westerns made all those movies happen, submarine movies, prison movies, WWII movies, exhausted all the genres, The Big Country (1958), sounds like a western, treat him like a dude, a wild bronco, he won’t play their games, big musical score!, 90 minute movies, 2 hours 46 minutes, Charlton Heston, House Of Wax (1953), The War Of The Roses (1989), Danny Devito, a spiritual sequel, the romancing the Stone cast back together, a cynical movie, Michael Douglas, Death To Smoochy (2002), that wont offend people, What Is A Woman (2002), My Son Hunter (2022), 2000 Mules (2022), Dinesh D’Souza, God King Trump, that’s what piracy is for, Allen Anderson, credits for movie posters, Memory (2022), Guy Pearce, The Time Machine (2002), The Rover (2014), a guy driving around Australia, living in his car, not an action movie, a different kind of fun movie, Ravenous (1999), a western black comedy, The Count Of Monte Cristo (2002), BC (Before Cavil), Jim Caviezel, poor rich actors, not flourishing, also goes with Tom Cruise, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022), UHF (1989) is one of the best movies, people loved it, Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), that kind of movie, Adam Sandler mixed with Mel Brooks, has heart, make you root for the characters, we’re a family, very 80s, fake ads, Robocop (1987), Conan The Librarian, Ghandi II, The Moon Maid by Edgar Rice Burroughs, in 7 to 8 months you will hear about Blaze, The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, a Conan story, heavy on the action, they all have virtue, At The Earth’s Core, Tarzan, The Land That Time Forgot, The Monster Men, Beyond Thirty, rewilded, The Mucker, The Efficiency Expert, The Mad King, anti-communist centaurs, heat from the left and heat from the right, a good writer not a brilliant thinker, sequels, avoided politics, the last election, center is the worst, Jesse is not in the center, Evan Lampe gets very salty in DMs, cranky on twitter, pleasant in real-life, if the Dems are proBLM…, they oppose all working class movements, not left wing, co-opted, flawed leaders, foreign forces of corruption and evil, visiting politicians in the states, Justin does what they say, he’s a bad person, tangled up about being left or right, meet somewhere in the middle, conversations about fascism on twitter, minor differences, antagonistic towards what?, a Trump supporter who criticizes Trump, WWIII with Russia, Ukraine related, not good at his job is a positive, too incompetent to get things done, he has the right enemies, he hates the media, Biden is much better for what?, based on the effects they actually had, surprising strides, trying to make peace with North Korea, if we’re grading on a curve, every time they say they’re going to do something, codify Roe V. Wade, a way to keep people voting, when Paul and Trish are worried about Jesse watching What Is A Woman (2022), Jesse’s fragile mind, have issues with the movie, Joe Rogan, [Graham Hancock], interesting guests, Robert E. Howard was right!, Ancient Apocalypse, criticism, ground penetrating radar, more stuff in the earth to find out, ancient aliens is a stage, less rewarding as you investigate, paranormal people are full of it, most interviews suck, gay marriage, asking the question, coming at it from a Christian pov, Orson Scott Card, gays kissin’, pretty antigay, why is gay marriage wrong?, the best of the bad choices, the federal vs. provincial parties, Paul and Trish couldn’t be seen to watch this movie because it is from a right wing website, we’re all in the poors class together, all pro-big business, that would never happen to me because I’m so corrupt, $80,000 a month for a no show job in a country they coup’d, they banned it, all the earmarks of Russian disinformation, this is something I don’t need to look at, corruption alleged, the evil ghoul Giuliani, America’s mayor for a minute, the laptop was real and the corruption was real, vote for the right team, there’s no reason to votes for these Democrats, just do it as a personal favor for me, provide legitimacy to the farce, more people on the team: let’s not do this anymore, robot’s platform, there wasn’t inflation under Trump (like there is now), super-right wing, can’t allow the plebs to talk amongst themselves, makes sure they know there are two camps: right wing and left wing, shaking things up, sowing chaos, the Marx Brothers, what the politicians say to the people who really matter, that’s what you can believe, they tell the truth, “nothing will fundamentally change”, don’t worry I won’t rock the boat, nothing good happened for regular people, imposing their morality on our bodies, lied about it for 50 years, is it true that?, Justin Trudeau is stealing people’s bank accounts, $2000 a month for a long time, $90 a month for car insurance, smaller government, what really needs to happen is more universal programs, the “socialist” party, universal dentalcare, phase it in, they care a little more, there’s a feedback, let’s fix this, you fucked up our healthcare system you get fired, pharmacare is almost completely covered too, good positions, before Justin, an oligarchy, when the government and the big corporations get in bed together, you don’t need armbands together, Italy and Germany, developing as nations later, late in the game, it’s our turn too, Italy taking Ethiopia, Germany trying to colonize Russia, almost all of Canada used to belong to the Hudson’s Bay Company all of western Canada, being mean to gay people, we’re gonna censor this, I like music, I like my pets, mutual aid, conspiracy theory, the farther down you dig for the truth the more you realize you’re not going to find it, Bigfoot isn’t in the woods he’s in your heads, like ghosts, a multidimensional being, Michio Kaku’s whole life is a lie, their theory sucks, dark matter and dark energy, an invisible black ball we can’t detect, not testable, we’re going to add another dimension, he says “long distance communication was yelling out the window”, because he’s got a PHD and he’s Japanese and he wears a suit, he’s a fuckin scammer, Neil Degrasse Tyson, big fish in a small pond, Newt Gingrich has a wife that looks like an owl, evil Republican, he’s read some books, he thinks he’s super-genius, he’s a dimwit, finally Oksana Boyko, kaku means shit, Stanton [T.] Friedman, debunk UFO stuff, evidence to the contrary, physical mechanical things (rather than multidimensional), people like to be fulfilled, we will be like gods?, in the year 1900, technically correct, your parents weren’t alive 100 years ago, Napoleon had long distance communication, yelling at your neighbor, life in 1900, they had letters in the Roman era, sell his book, how to become a god, Biden is demented right?, he looks pretty out of it, literally dementia, is Trump demented?, morally, yes, Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego, Biden dementia updates, FDR, Reagan’s wife was running things, they don’t want to make him look weak, is that a right wing talking point?, is it over-fixating when the man with power over nukes has dementia?, Kamala Harris is so incompetent but not from dementia, she does not do homework, pay more attention to the opposition, don’t support people who don’t support you, the way that they want us to be, withdrawing your consent, you can’t make me party to it, if you vote for someone you can be in a sense responsible for everything he did, if you voted for George W. Bush you’re in part responsible for a million kids dying, from 2 wars to 7 wars, Paul would get mad at Jesse, world socialist website, Citigroup Chose Obama’s 2008 Cabinet, being on the team makes you left wing, sure to solve things, its time to not giving your support to shit, a risky thing to do, that’s the concern, you can’t let them win because Roe V. Wade might be overturned, they might export all the jobs to China, inflation might get bad, third party candidates, Al Gore, John Kerry, manufacturing consent, I’ll go with the less shitty choice, things are bad, mutual aid, a local group, these are the people in the community doing this, “leadership classes”, manufacturing politicians and flunkies for politicians, management and leadership, bossing people around, giving out favours, if you giving them what they want, a tough situation, have nothing to do with it, most people don’t vote, the material conditions worsen under both teams, all the great things the Democrats have done, the EPA is Nixon, the DHS, we need more cops and spies, that will solve things, the social programs, building hospitals and universities and bridges and highways and trains, we don’t need that stuff, giving money to their friends, Costa Rica, Evan is in Taiwan, your country is experiencing emigration, pro-capitalist, defense about capitalism leading to progress, dependence on money and the oil industry, serving the power that is, the South was against universal healthcare, insurance is a huge industry drugs is a huge industry, work three jobs, there are solutions to power problems, we can do a lot of things we choose not to, its not a conspiracy theory if it is true, one third of Syria is occupied, the Nordstream pipeline, putting it all in the hands of people who give it to each other seems wrong, the lower class doesn’t deserve good healthcare, working too hard, on the spectrum, easily stressed out, just because you know why your leg is hurting doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, why we need comedy so bad, a dying art form, all the wokeness, like a religion, like puritanism, comedy is tied to culture and youth, irreverence, older comedians, those jokes are old now, not new stuff, outdated opinions, weak jokes, “offensive”, we’ve all heard those jokes before, Richard Pryor [LIVE IN CONCERT (1979)], Blazing Saddles (1974), we’re talking about the Ghostbusters (2016) movie, very charitable, the jokes were not character based, look he’s dumb, lowball, vocab jokes, simple, fart jokes, Adam Sandler movies are starting at the baby level, fart jokes, unusual for mainstream American films to portray flatulence in any way, eating beans all the time, a cowboy movie therefore farting, inherently funny, Eric S. Rabkin wrote a book called It’s A Gas, a serious academic book on farting, Terry Gilliam, pumping his colon up with gas in order to perform, a spectrum of jokes available to us, we’ve descended to the farting level.