The SFFaudio Podcast #566 – TOPIC: USED BOOKSTORES

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #566 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Fred Himebaugh talk about USED BOOKSTORES

Talked about on today’s show:
spend a lifetime researching, as opposed to regular bookstores, what’s the difference, not the price, Dawn Treader Book Shop, Bryan Alexander, Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, specializes in stock already been sold, hybrids, a Wikipedia entry, a booktown, in the UK, a book district, PaperbackSwap.com, young and poor, delight, selection, Staten Island, Barrett Book Trader, a good trade, romance books are of incredibly low value, voracious romance novel readers, a lending library with fees, Audible’s new romance title subscription service, a very different kind of category, milk run, Vancouver suburbs, bottle depots, a trunkload, Jolly Olde Bookstore, real estate prices, switching to audiobooks, David’s Books (Ann Arbor, Michigan), The Bookstore Mural, Walmart, Costco, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Uncle Hugo’s (and Uncle Edgar’s), Magers And Quinn, a phenomenon that flourished after books became available, in a hundred years, what was that phenomenon, the way we have understood it, Terry (Stillman), somebody died, get rid of this pile of stuff, a good used bookstore is always FULL, stuffed to the gills, they don’t tend to be chains, guys buying themselves a job, kind of a dream, imagine all the books, all the profit comes from the rare book side of the business, you job is to guess what your customers want, getting rid of romance novels, variety, the Philip K. Dick section, J.G. Ballard section, anything that was mass produced, the science fiction vs. the literary novel section, not representative, books from before you were born, 2 Heinlein novels, the only way to get a decent book collection, The Rolling Stone and Space Family Stone are the same book, this phenomenon is in decline, ebooks and Amazon have peaked?, 2020 eink with colour, comic books, book covers, podcasts are in more danger of disappearing than newspapers are (podcasts autodelete), Tony C. Smith’s earliest StarShipSofa episodes, preserving in old barns, the inability to sell used (digital) audiobooks and ebooks, rent control for a certain amount of space for used bookstores, Powells, a media warehouse, new and used, instrumental in Scott’s youth, Scott came to SF pretty much alone, a dad or an uncle, through Star Trek, The Bookworm in Idaho Falls, Idaho, looking at every single book, what science fiction was, the selection at a library, librarians are a self-selected (to the literary side), the paperback issue, Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, “Anne McCaffrey has never written a bad novel”, at that point it was true, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Tanith Lee, The Stand by Stephen King, scanning like a madman for years, books in bins waiting for the copyrights to expire, Jesse’s razor, you buy more books than you read, hours put in finding, downsizing, the way people find books now, Childhood’s End, a completely different experience, shit this has a map in it!, a massive appendix, book II in a series, Dune, that’s a different cover (two copies of Dune), not knowing that a book exists, Brin, Benford, Bester, Horseclan novels, William Gibson, here, trade paperbacks (the wrong size of books), the paperback IS the experience, you have to know what you’re looking for, The House On The Borderland by William Hope Hodgson, what the hell is this?, the books just didn’t exist for you, that popping in, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, a small town used bookstore, the college town experience, picking over the books, a crappy little storefront, all these wonderful books, a small town bookstore, a long and prideful thing, Gene Wolfe, Tucson, a Bookmans on the other side of town, Pulpfiction Books (Vancouver), the estate trying to sell everything, raiding parties (in the states), picking over the bones of other stories, Half Price Books, remainder books, a related phenomenon, a thrift shop (a bookstore with other stuff in it too), Value Village, charity shops, can you believe I got these two books for fifty cents each?, Dead Until Dark, a subsidiary of used bookstores, blew up Jesse’s mind, Ace Doubles are unable to be filed, John Brunner and Philip K. Dick, Tor Doubles, why libraries don’t like paperbacks, you have to pick a side, this is the dominant side, The Dragon Masters by Jack Vance, The Last Castle by Jack Vance, a thematic resonance, a nightmare, just two books, Sea Siege / Eye Of The Monster f-147, which terrible monster to start with?, Leigh Brackett (the greatest pulpmaster of them all), how to make your library show, why you have to have two copies, obtain mode, nemesis, Rendezvous With Rama, don’t read the sequels, the smell (of a used bookstore), sniffing these Ace Doubles, it smells like old paper, the rot of paper of glue hardening, a hint of mildew odor, Honor Books (Allen, Michigan), no door (so open), a microscopic science fiction section, put your money here, a vending machine you go inside of, a triple witching hour on a full moon on a thirteenth day you can feel some cold fingers in the slot, a state tax, this is not a going concern, no staffing issues, a lesbian couple, its a job, its a dream, you buy, I have a used bookstore!, everybody need employment, Trump isn’t responsible for the decline of the used bookstore, finding book 7 of the Barsoom series, lists, New Zealand waterfalls, Moby-Dick, a guilt purchase, I feel good when I give them my money, I’m paying more because THIS is what I get, NEW THIS WEEK, the entire rack of new comic books, Sergio Aragones’ GROO: THE WANDERER, a comicbook store is a USED and new bookstore, the books have a different smell and the patrons are different, comic book stores are in every city, you can’t tell a reader, rando strangers, the connection Jesse has with these guys, Projecting Project Pulp (podcast), what we all have in common is we like books, however fleeting, the stack of stuff they’re collecting, that little piece of advice, dying like tears in the rain, most of the books that Jesse was collecting were written before he was born or unable to read them, seeing the legacy of a whole commercial system turned on its head, drugstores and spinner racks, Gold Medal paperbacks, Richard Stark, the thinness of those volumes, 110 pages, a whirlwind kind of experience, books are too thick, James M. Cain in paperback, so spartan and so spare, Goodreads and Amazon and podcasts, experience that smell before its gone, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, an increasingly unaffordable hobby.

Jolly Old Bookstore

Jolly Old Books

Honor Books

The Bookstore Mural

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #564 – READALONG: VALIS by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, Evan Lampe and Terence Blake talk about VALIS by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1981, science fiction novel?, the long awaited masterwork, you didn’t like it, low expectations, the first half is the best part, it takes place in the head, after the film, the discussion of the film, the Wikipedia, Radio Free Albemuth‘s plot, parallel universe Nixon, state vs. society, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, movement cultures, fighting the Black Iron Prison, this is a political dead end novel, is it science fiction?, the opening, SickMyDuck.narod.ru, quasi-consciousness, gobbledygook,

VALIS (acronym of Vast Active Living Intelligence System, from an American film): A perturbation in the reality field in which a spontaneous self-monitoring negentropic vortex is formed, tending progressively to subsume and incorporate its environment into arrangements of information. Characterized by quasiconsciousness, purpose, intelligence, growth and an armillary coherence.

–Great Soviet Dictionary

Sixth Edition, 1992, used in many others, the copyright details about his other books, A Scanner Darkly, the schizophrenic break, good bits, the autobiographical details, fictionalizing his life, not anything like science, most people don’t have a grasp of what science is, a perturbation in the reality field, progressively subsumed?, a collection of words, he’s eating his own prole feed, he takes as fact, a refutation soon accommodated, this skepticism thing, the same plot as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Book Of The New Sun by Wolfe, the hero can reverse time, that’s there, so much better, weird quest, this 2 year old kid who may or may not be Jesus, more like meta-fiction, reintegrate his brain, Psi-Man heal me, he put’s his hand on Fat’s shoulder, self-hugging, he baptized him with chocolate and a hot dog bun, stuff he’s actually done, not fiction, bullshit people all the time, every now and then this should be science fiction, bullshit with his friends, a rough plot, exegesis, we should be upset, puttering about in a small land, so internal, his other half, Small Holywater, Black WanderingEarth, that’s why its a better novel, it has the satellite, in the beginning was the word,

#36. We should be able to hear this information, or rather narrative, as a neutral voice inside us. But something has gone wrong. All creation is a language and nothing but a language, which for some inexplicable reason we can’t read outside and can’t hear inside.

its important to see why people are attracted to this book, words are data as much as visual data, bear scratching against a tree, i present these words to you and they become reality, dope dope dope 500 times, the word loses its sound and its meaning, words on a page are reality, we have to contend with this, how do you know when this is, it’s tremendous, is that true, dreams, your critical faculties are not in full operation, religious people are presented with evidence, adopted accommodated or ignored, causing a crisis, telegraphed far before, we all have this capacity to generate data, distinguishing it from, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”, untethered to critical no no no no, Fat gained strength, self-criticism, Horselover Fat is the early 60s sociological type, Michel Serres, there’s something broken in his head, he’s a car engine and there’s a serious problem with the mechanics, “The Black Iron Prison”, “The Empire Never Ended”, proved, made up in medieval times, the Roman Empire fell in…, time is not what we think it is, K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers,

“You found your way into the upper realm,” Kevin declared. “Isn’t that how you put it in your journal?”

#48. Two realms there are, upper and lower. The upper, derived from hyperuniverse I or Yang, Form I of Parmeni-des, is sentient and volitional. The lower realm, or Yin, Form II of Parmenides, is mechanical, driven by blind, efficient cause, deterministic and without intelligence, since it emanates from a dead source. In ancient times it was termed “astral determinism.” We are trapped, by and large, in the lower realm, but are, through the sacraments, by means of the plasmate, extricated. Until astral determinism is broken, we are not even aware of it, so occluded are we. “The Empire never ended.”

A small, pretty, dark-haired girl walked silently past Fat and the huge old woman, carrying her shoes. At breakfast time she had tried to smash a window using her shoes and then, having failed, knocked down a six-foot-high black technician. Now the girl had about her the presence of absolute calm.

“The Empire never ended,” Fat quoted to himself. That one sentence appeared over and over again in his exegesis; it had become his tag line. Originally the sentence had been revealed to him in a great dream. In the dream he again was a child, searching dusty used-book stores for rare old science fiction magazines, in particular Astoundings. In the dream he had looked through countless tattered issues, stacks upon stacks, for the priceless serial entitled “The Empire Never Ended.” If he could find it and read it he would know everything; that had been the burden of the dream.

so many comic books, he’s obsessed in a way,

Prior to that, during the interval in which he had experienced the two-world superimposition, had seen not only California, U.S.A., of the year 1974 but also ancient Rome, he had discerned within the superimposition a Gestalt shared by both space-time continua, their common element: a Black Iron Prison. This is what the dream referred to as “the Empire.” He knew it because, upon seeing the Black Iron Prison, he had recognized it. Everyone dwelt in it without realizing it. The Black Iron Prison was their world.

Who had built the prison–and why–he could not say. But he could discern one good thing: the prison lay under attack. An organization of Christians, not regular Christians such as those who attended church every Sunday and prayed, but secret early Christians wearing light gray-colored robes, had started an assault on the prison, and with success. The secret, early Christians were filled with joy.

this is ho you make science fiction this is not science fiction, superimposing the present on the past, James Joyce, 1981 or 1982, Paris, one of the greatest philosopher’s of the 20th century Gilles Deleuze, cinema, a vertical time axis, Marie Louise Von Franz, Jungian theory, a second axis of time, Wolfgang Pauli, tied to a particular experience, a working out of it, dipping into it, this is basically what it is, not that revealing, nonsense, the big words that he’s using, essay writing as a game, write them first, the way Star Trek: The Next Generation technobabble, reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, a black iron prison, does the blackness refer to the iron, its just a phrase that popped into his head and he thinks, this is how religions are birthed, coming straight out of it, so sad, hilarious Philip K. Dick bits, a mental breakdown on the page, a slow decline into depression and isolation, A Scanner Darkly except real, new religious movements, subjective experiences, William James, is there anything not referenced in here, a trained philosopher, Dick doesn’t do any of that stuff, multidimensional, masterful from the beginning, the only sad thing Terence can see, male male male all along, one sided, The Exegesis a fake book, this is a novel, a metafiction novel, its not a fantasy, he perceived those perceptions, its most interesting to him, where it intersects with the stuff in his previous writings, from the beginning, The Cosmic Puppets, much more grounded, breaking himself off from himself, he gets stuck in this loop, I have become a mechanical function of my own idea, a rat trying to get on a rat-proof ship, something mechanically wrong in his brain, the rest of the engine was good, a terrible metaphor, he goes to the therapist and the therapist becomes part of the problem, going back to the themes of the institution vs. the individual, the police steal his stuff, this is not a political book, the society against the state, encouraging movements to do little things, the resistance is always there, in Valis we gotta find Jesus, his interpretation, The Divine Invasion, Shadow And Claw by Gene Wolfe, symbols invent us, the symbol took over his mind, The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer, a cathartic effect, juxtaposing is the problem, that’s the science fiction aspect, its a theory, its unfalsifiable,

9

Wordsworth’s “Ode” carries the sub-title: “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.” In Fat’s case, the “intimations of immortality” were based on recollections of a future life.

In addition, Fat could not write poetry worth shit, despite his best efforts. He loved Wordsworth’s “Ode,” and wished he could come up with its equal. He never did.

Boldness is not virtue, Spiders sail on strands, there was no path back, crouched in basement darkness, on and on, infinitude of time, Mind, now torn away, We humans have been told, We larger ones, What of us we lack the stamina, a summary of the book, cats, the key to decoding it, Phil’s Cat by K.W. Jeter, two of PKD’s cats: Mrs. Tubbs and Harvey (an “elegant but paranoid” black cat), lots of stuff from book, a fatalistic attitude, the thing one most loves can be fatal, “Listen, do you hear something.”, with an open can of catfood, two big yellow eyes, his small mind not comprehending the vertical dimension, his spatial coordinates had been right on target, March 1982, his self destructive urges had been transcended, methodically combing the isles, a little scrap of warmth, ludicrous hope, a faith that believed in faithlessness, in the light of the story, this is what the empathy thing he’s so known for is all about, very beautiful, a lot of empathy for cats, his weird relationship with women, weird resentments, retroactive blaming the women, his empathy for women is his bad side, Sherry with cancer, suffering something so horrible, is that his perception or is that the reality, did she know that she was doing that, how do you know that?, citing citations, does she know she’s doing that, that’s the main problem, confronted with both sense data and actual sentences and both are not subject to critical questioning, Jesse saw a ghost once, Jesse loves the idea of ghosts, part of a letter, Last Wave, Summer 1984, The Shadow Out Of Time, hypnagogic images, conversations with, John W. Campbell, ultimately always better, Gene Wolfe’s similar cosmogony, between Dick and Wolfe, a better thinker, he saw Dianetics was bullshit, it seized on him, religion as a kind of a mania, latching on to their stories, Bishop Pike, if Philip K. Dick had access to the internet, anamnesis, three meanings, obsessing over etymology, etymology is everything, he’s in improv, I’m a toaster, have you eaten your toast?, you always go with it, your sense data or your sentence in front of you Jabberwocky, brillig, his vorpal sword, runcible spoon (a grapefruit spoon), runcible to runciter, something animals don’t really do, its almost like we can fall down a well of only believing this one book from 4000 years ago, writing down experiences they never had with a guy they never met, and he’s wrong, a druid ceremony, not the only story even he’s caught up in it, a half hour of notes, Tractates Cryptica Scriptura, usually it takes whole cultures to make a cosmogony, the appendix is kind of useful, in Evan’s podcast episode on Valis, The Gospel According To Philip K. Dick,

50. The primordial source of all our religions lies with the ancestors of the Dogon tribe, who got their cosmogony and cosmology directly from the three-eyed invaders who visited long ago. The three-eyed invaders are mute and deaf and telepathic, could not breathe our atmosphere, had the elongated misshapen skull of Ikhnaton, and emanated from a planet in the star-system Sirius. Although they had no hands, but had, instead, pincer claws such as a crab has, they were great builders. They covertly influence our history toward a fruitful end.

Kilgore Trout, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, an endless hole, the discovery of planets doesn’t occur for quite a long time, an external place vs. another realm, his citation is it seems to me it must be true, horoscopes, there are no dis-confirming facts (until their is), a giant radical shift, its in the paper, if its published its true, the New York Times and The Washington Post, how we get offended by people’s words, you know I don’t REALLY believe this right, I know I’m nutty, the amount of time you spend on it, something is pulling their brain, a cool fact, bloodtype tells about your personality, you don’t know your blood type?, that’s very o positive, imagine saying that about someone’s race, we can’t conceive of that being a thing, this is destiny, this is how all the religious functions work, auspicious, looking good, Roman birds, suspicious, I don’t think we can trust this, trapped in a world of etymology, etymology as destiny, the fake etymology of embarrassed, Jesse doesn’t want to give it up, magic words, pickaninny, niggardly, the airplane was retarded by the braking process, the sound of it is not offensive, words are presentations of reality, the whole whale language thing, cobol, c++, I saw a ghost, I saw a red hat, red hats are not nice hats, words on a page, in your ear, on a sign, causing a dysfunction within us, that’s this book, that’s why this book has power, the revelation is surprising because almost nobody else ever talks about it, not a universal truth, how he described it to Anne, I’m writing an autobiography about BOTH of my personalities and I’m calling it VALIS, structure it as a self-conscious whatever, so much based on actual events, there is no VALIS film, he did call up somebody in Hollywood, he barely knew Gloria, a friend of his, Sic transit gloria mundi, pathology, sending up, funny bits pointing, making fun, he’s deflating the thing in real time, if he lived in our age, the pot showing up in the film, a fish symbol, the DNA molecule, how it connects to Galactic Pot-Healer, this pot did exist, oh yeah, of course, the jewelry in The Man In The High Castle, a photograph of him leaving the funeral early climbing into a Volkswagen, whose reaction is more authentic, if he were a girl, subject to criticism, ditzy, quite pathetic, pathos, Greek for feeling, how great he is at saying that experience of watching a film, applying the rules of filmwatching, Blade Runner, did they intend this to be the meaning, what about the eyes being lit up, different actors disagreeing, as a piece of fiction I’m allowed to spin up as many theories as I want, things outside of the film, where is the meaning?, the meaning goes out the window, macro-focused in the wrong direction, I didn’t see this the first time, adding Phil to the Skype call right now, at the time vs. now, almost guaranteed, everything in there is searchable, Reading, Short And Deep, looking at the text, breaking past the fourth wall into two different axis, no time is god, the boy can replace his wife who has died, its amazing, how seriously should we take this?, Parsifal,

Parsifal is one of those corkscrew artifacts of culture in which you get the subjective sense that you’ve learned something from it, something valuable or even priceless; but on closer inspection you suddenly begin to scratch your head and say, “Wait a minute. This makes no sense.” I can see Richard Wagner standing at the gates of heaven. “You have to let me in,” he says. “I wrote Parsifal. It has to do with the Grail, Christ, suffering, pity and healing. Right?” And they answered, “Well, we read it and it makes no sense.” SLAM.

which heaven do you go to?, the savior saved?, you’re the gods, the typical Nietzsche thing, glorified stupidity, a similar joke in episode 3 of Watchmen, the world being enduring suffering, Amfortas, three superheroes go to heaven, Nite Owl, did the comedian go to heaven?, how many people did you kill?, super moral, Ozymandias, Dr Manhattan, I’m already there, these things that seem to have great meaning, action set pieces, Harry Potter, ultimately its empty, Lord Of The Rings, the experience is not just a walk with Gandalf, finding meaning in existence, hiding in a secondary world, something deep there, its about the setups, kids go up and stuff happens, Tolkien would go to heaven, Wagner would go to hell, Rowling would go to hell, go to Valhalla for the Ring, you’re in the wrong heaven, sir, Valhalla ends at Ragnarok, a temporary heaven, done with VALIS, I wash my hands of it, where does it get us?, political or psychological, such an honest portrayal of having a psychosis and also be very aware of what’s happening, whatever philosophy he’s trying to get at, this is not a philosophy, pre-philosophy, gnostic beliefs, the Kult RPG, in the center of the city, a role playing game about trying to find reality, this module, the keeper or the dungeon master, exploring the reality, the players are in a Black Iron Prison.

On A Cat Which Fell Three Stories And Survived by Philip K. Dick from Last Wave, Summer 1984

Phil's Cat by K.W. Jeter from Last Wave, Summer 1984

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #470 – READALONG: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #470 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

Talked about on today’s show:
1950, novel/collection, The Moon Moth, a story suite, self-contained, a great book of language, the excellent prismatic spray, travertine, lapis lazuli, Hollywood, a black dragonfly, I hate the world and everything in it, Dungeons & Dragons, the Demon Princes novels, the Planet Of Adventure novels, a second order of facts, the richness of the language, the amoral characters, would you have dinner with any of these characters?, role-playing, the final descent, weird and wondrous, defined by this book, future echoes, The Matrix is a dying earth story, accessing certain special moves, fighting machines, the magic system, a 9th level spell, Bigby’s Grasping Hand, Tenser’s floating disc, the same recipe, magic missile, jamming in five spells (instead of four), so fun, a little bit of FOMO, re-memorizing spells, making magic controllable, it’s OP (overpowered), super hero movies, Heroes, origins stories, Mazarian, the Excellent Prismatic Spray, the Omnipotent Sphere, unceasing, a list of the spells, tomes, there’s no actual incantation, spell words and tongue twisters, Latin spell names, a great idea, how Harry Potter’s spells work, the orcs are coming, colour and action, Paul plays mages a lot, a callow youth, being indoctrinated into Dungeons & Dragons, being like Jesus means no stabbing, just swinging my arm, twisted logic, Gandalf has a big long sword, to balance out the classes, to balance, niche protection, cramming for your spell exams, Paul’s showing his geekiness, Dragon Magazine, you could swing that stupid sword around, why you gonna carry that giant sword?, a profound effect upon hundreds of thousands of people’s lives for decades and decades, pretty amazing, pure luck, strange creatures, demons, this is just like home, the plot lines do not closely follow, there’s no taverns, a conman thief, go find this museum, not standard D&D quests, Liane gets what he deserves, Chun the Unavoidable, torturing an innocent couple, so fun to read, such a prat, when Bryan bowed out, an in-joke within the campaign, the perversity of the Dungeon Master, suggested stats, other planes of existence, appearing from behind a tapestry, The Princess Bride, a passion for eyes, the dragonfly riders, a vial of oil, shrinking Paul, don’t trust anything, a Vancian point of view, judging the worst beauty contest of all time, Poul Anderson, the deep blue sky of Earth, a pocket dimension, T’sain, is he trying to make a girl?, vats, T’sais, Turjan, Pandelume, The Handmaid’s Tale, making women in bottles, alchemy, homunculi, chemical products, we’re nearly there with lab grown meats, everything is ugly is ugly even beautiful things are uglier, she finds the world a bitter place, dire malevolence, use of language, eructate, a poem about burps, a burping tree, women server me some wine and make the eighteen motions of allurement, interesting as a concept, the opposite of innocence, everyone is corrupt, there’s only loss, what re they going to do, living inside their tanks and know that’s where they’re at now, the middle of the Dying Earth ideas, Darkness by Lord Byron, E.R. Eddison,

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Forests were set on fire—but hour by hour
They fell and faded—and the crackling trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash—and all was black.

pretty gruesome, the year without a summer, Mary Shelley, Krakatoa, a dream and not a dream, it’s just everyday, this is not a young earth, not a new idea, Shakespeare’s fairies and Tolkien’s Middle Earth, from the fairy or elven point of view, a growing tide of darkness and ignorance, our deepest oldest fear, the end times, the end days, this is how we live now, the twilight days, the environmental stories in the news, we’re kind of fucking this up, “I just use as much plastic as possible”, an uplifting book, so dark but funny and uplifting, running the Museum of Man, that’s not how people actually are, the ideas of a book, these are the waves coming in, the beach, not the normal Jesse book, a very Clark Ashton Smith prose poem style, Zothique, a conduit, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, even the robots are tired, Mr Jim Moon, The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson, 17th century language, pseudo-biblical language, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess Of Mars, something distinctly moving, the unromantic and unpoetic among readers, an insanely strange book, H.G. Wells, The Cave Of Time, resurrected at the end of time, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, a lot of celebrities, Richard Burton, everybody who ever was, Mark Twain, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Hermann Göring, TV adaptations of the Riverworld series, at the end of history, so sad, still striving, The Book Of The New Sun, The Book Of The Long Sun, Gene Wolfe, he’s an apprentice torture but his true passion is rape, ornate strange language, brilliant, interesting, frustrating, and wonderful, a massive undertaking, the book of gold, Paul’s book of gold: The Amber Chronicles, The Hobbit, this is amazing!, the one book that made Marissa get super-excited about reading: Cujo by Stephen King, it’s almost never laser guns, I’ve done questionable things, Rutger Hauer, creators, but also great things, Blade Runner is a dying earth story, infectious imagery, neo-noir, film dystopia, there are no heroes (really), everything is falling apart, the creatures are no longer biological, Blade Runner: 2049, a down and depressing future dystopia, what we think of doing well now, the Marvel movies, short term thinking, how well the money’s doing, long lived lives, John W. Campbell’s Night, hard Science Fiction, Michael Moorcock, the Hawkmoon books, C.J. Cherryh, George R.R. Martin, The City At The End Of Time by Greg Bear, an amazingly powerful book, The House On The Borderland, an interesting sub-genre, the language of cant, I babble in an unknown tongue, even the prophets are corrupt and fake.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #442 – READALONG: The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #442 – Jesse, Scott, Maissa Bessada, and Bryan Alexander talk about The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Talked about on today’s show:
1997, digitizing audiobooks, a historical piece, starts in the Spring and ends in the Fall, taking the gun out into the woods, murder, Ronald Reagan, PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization), a chain of events, top cover, cutting the fat, Washington, DC, what you call National Airport (Ronald Reagan airport), of all things to name after Reagan, the turning point was when Carter lost the election, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater ads, what America was like in the late 1970s, a ‘we’re in this together’, so weird, refreshing, poor Bryan and Scott, a Go Fund Me for my dying brother or an author you might have read a story by, a different history, Scott’s family, realizing a lot of things, learning a lot of stuff, so many visions of what the future can be (from Science Fiction), the conservative is not how we get there, not even a scientist, Scott is very much in flux, staring open mouthed, When Worlds Collide, boiling under the ideas, who is in this?, who can we dispose of?, a man alone, he can’t depend on anyone, talking it over with his victims, a huge break between 1978 and 1982, income inequality, the Downton Abbey curve, you’re the help, one of the first literary works about neo-liberalism, professionalization, the government is hostile to you, homo economicus, Robinson Crusoe, the Decmocratic party’s turn to the right (in 1982), Regan -> Bush -> Clinton -> Bush II -> Obama, the Big Bang, the arguments that Burke makes, killing the shareholders and the CEOs wouldn’t work, will he get away with it?, should he get away with it?, automated manufacturing, meeting people like this guy, the air condition repair school, Scott’s the re-trainer, factories moving to Mexico, straight out of Scott’s life, how Westlake put this book together, a five page chapter on justification, killing people who don’t deserve it, the last lines, the cops wish him luck, he left it open, “I’m still going to get it.”, how cool Westlake is at making characters, backstories of their own, everyone in a Westlake novel has their own novel going, a house full of guns, the suit salesman, they all have middle names, some sort of sympathy, they have their own existence outside of that of the main character, a cousin or a brother out of work, looking for a job, the whole society is suffering, I didn’t know (at the time) Bill Clinton was a bad operator, Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank, an issue at the time, Clinton’s undoing of Glass-Steagall banking regulations, NAFTA, who is to blame, being triggered, The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck, it’s not my fault, a two page POLI-SCI exercise, one of the most radical books in American literature, the French movie adaptation, does the end justify the means, that’s what it comes down to, they say that in wartime, this is a war book, the Vietnam War, this war is personal, resumes, everyone has been in the military, Burke Devore, Burke the smotherer, Devore = the eater, the consumer, Arcadia = utopia, Sleepy Hollow, bucolic or suburban, Westlake lived in upstate New York, prime rustbelt area, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, change is inevitable, elevator operators, the greed of the corporation, there is never enough, we can make more money, cultures, when you’re in the American bubble, the entire newsmedia can ignore vast swaths of reality, South Korea is super-duper-capitalistic, how powerful a tiny little peninsula can throw out companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia, an implicit deal, the society doesn’t throw people away, trashing productive people in productive companies, whether he’s right or not the sentiment is right on, everyone is in the same boat, he’s the only one who has taken this technique to heart, the movie version’s ending, could a woman do your job, the same scary path, how effective it is, pulling a Westlake, Wanda Holloway (killing a cheerleader’s mother), the decline in violent crime, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Pinker, Freakonomics, leaded gas, impulse control, the lead theory, it doesn’t fit into any politics, crime translated into politics, economic and political crime on the upswing, the protected classes, ultimately you can’t defy the system, tiny house blog’s podcast, yes, that’s me, “remove yourself from the economy’s well being”, look at Wall Street’s numbers!, an insanely crazier economy, the “gig economy”, the cops are fine, it’s a growing industry, the nurse who was attacked in Utah by a cop, the cop had a second job, he was fired from his second job, now the police are eating themselves, police men and nurses were on a team, now their fighting each other, when you’re a kid and you’re young, cops job is to arrest people, people abuse their power, the cops aren’t really you’re friend, the BCCLA, Kim Campbell, cosmic level security clearance, if its an honest mistake…, Burke Devore gets a fair shake from the cops, since 1997 even the cops aren’t safe, in Australia they call the gig economy the American Economy, how we’re going to break the taxi industry, Uber, driverless cars, the only thing keeping violence, everything is more expensive today except for food, at least we’re not starving, bread an circuses, boomers and millennials, nno matter how many university degrees you have, a rich professor, who has been more tricked and put upon than the PhD candidate price markup has gone from 15% to 70%, mysteries vs. crime thrillers, genre moves, this is Scott’s fifth Westlake novel, incredibly clear and so smooth, profound, ‘I can only guess at any of these things and see what I do in response’, some books are designed to be chewed up and enjoyed, as a period piece, a bit weird that Westlake was so perceptive at such an elderly age, Donald E. Westlake has a cameo at the 22 minute mark in the French film adaptation, he sits in the garage and tries to think through the problems that he’s having, he’s the guy who fills the paper, a nod and a wink, a writer going through, so orderly and so ABCD, first person always becoming present tense, he’s always becoming, that first moment, “oh, my god he did it!”, every-time, thunk thunk, the tape, “my hand was on my mouth”, Westlake wrote an article about why he left Science Fiction (in Xero), Anarchaos by Curt Clark aka Donald E. Westlake, one of things that Westlake complains about is not getting paid, they promise to pay me and then they don’t, when I sell a book they pay me, you can’t make a living at Science Fiction, maybe 10% of people make a living, James Patrick Kelly doesn’t make his living writing Science Fiction, Gene Wolfe never made a living, crappy rural internet, Ted Chiang, Timothy Zahn made more on his first star wars book than all of his novels and stories combined, K.W. Jeter, kinda meta, The Hook by Donald E. Westlake, Amazon.com, basically, the publishing industry, writer’s block, Judson Jack Carmichael, always experimenting, Samuel Holt, Magnum, P.I., Westlake is super-addictive, he doesn’t really write mysteries, Westlake’s subject was the economy in the late 20th century, Macbeth, if I kill Duncan I will be King, if I turn back, I can’t stop at this point, alas alas, Vermont internet = swear words, going back to the cops again, the wife is so awesome after dealing with the cops, he lets that pass, Philosophy Of Law class, what are your responsibilities, I should co-operate with the police, I should confess, their job is to get convictions, being disabused of this, he should have been pirating instead of stealing CD-ROMs or floppy disks, The Young Turks, working in the best interest in the victim, the whole purpose, covering asses, that blue shield, the privatization of prisons, widgets per hour, arrests, tickets, target the people who can’t fight back, racism is a tool used to divide and conquer, you pit them against each other, it sounds familiar, a tool to be used against your seizing their power, Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, a whole host of terrible behaviors, there could have been a great disaster, open season on cuts, Train To Busan (2016), I’m a boss, we’re all in this together, a war of all against all, The Apprentice mode of government, what makes him a leader is that he fires people, Scott has no place, put out on his iceberg, I felt worried while reading this book, I felt paranoid, you’re fifty years old and you have a very particular skill, a La-Z-Boy factory that moved to Mexico, I’ve been putting chairs together for 20 years – now what, the double jobs, teachers have two jobs, Scott Walker wanted to make the teacher’s union illegal, making decisions not in the student’s best interest, a department head, why someone would take a pay-cut to become a teacher, it’s so upside down, teaching students in British Columbia, smaller class sizes, assistance in the classroom, curricula, PATCO’s goals: a maximum of a 32 hour work week and maximum of 8 hour shifts, Labour Day, life under Bill Clinton, Pushing Tin (1999), Billy Bob Thornton and John Cusak, pee breaks, fire doors not locked, NAFTA is not a good thing if it only helps companies screw over workers, re-negotiating NAFTA, an advantage for companies moving to Canada, globalization, fewer barriers make things move better, fear, BREXIT, seeing declines in a standard of living, Walmart is fucking things up up here too, their economic model is to exploit the food stamp subsidy for their own benefit, she’s become kind of bitter, arguing about having a day off, that line from Charles Dickens,

‘Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 19 [pounds] 19 [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income 20 pounds, annual expenditure 20 pounds ought and six, result misery.’

cutting to the bone for so long you have no bones left, GDP percentage of debt, offering security at rates in order to manipulate the market, Canada’s net public debt 98.8 as a percentage of GPD, USA’s net public debt 77%, taxing wealth instead of income, getting away from the book, Jesse’s solution, taxing capital gains, a tiny percentage of the population has gotten most of the productivity gains of labour for the last 25+ years, everything is expensive except for food, mass starvation seems to be the key to revolution, Trump puts an ugly face on an ugly problem, shaking things up, Mark Zuckerberg as president?, The Rock would make a better president!, he’s a high speed Train To Busan.

BOOKS ON TAPE - The Ax by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #439 – READALONG: The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #439 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer discuss the novella entitled The Fifth Head Of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe

Talked about on today’s show:
Serberous?, the novella (not the whole book), maybe an accident maybe on purpose, very-Wolfeian, Orbit 10 edited by Damon Knight, fixup vs. novel?, V.R.T., to fully understand…, you need them all together, error or on purpose, many moons ago, novella is the perfect length for any Science Fiction work, read in publication order, old home week, Ender’s Shadow, Ender’s Game, cheating, the Alzabo Soup podcast, The Book Of The New Sun, condensed and distilled, Jorge Luis Borges <- I like what that guy's doing, I'm going to do me some of that -> George R.R. Martin, reader doing the heavy lifting, A Song Of Ice And Fire, almost a fantasy novel, a cloning story, Jack Vance, far future where science has become magic, the Dying Earth subgenre, no magic going on?, the sentences are full of magic, what does the title mean, is the reader the fifth head?, The Black Gate blog post, this story is a combination lock that allows many different combinations, info-dumping, somebody is a clone or a mirror or a part of his imagination, an unreliable narrator, a really good sign, this is Gene Wolfe’s thing, perfect memory, no memory, a consistent memory, how accurate are the details?, how many characters are there?, number five, is one of the characters is “Gene Wolfe”?, the father, the brother (David), the aunt, the lady in pink, the other clone in the warehouse, the four-armed dude is a character, the robot (Mr Millions), Marsh, the anthropologist, the brothel, how its revealed, he has been in prison, the only complete arc, we must infer the rest of them, the death of the father, Christopher Nolan should direct it, it is a complete work or it will be, clones of the same person, hinkey, hokey, or odd, all the books in the private library were written by his father, going to the Ws, very meta, are you a Nigerian prince? Jesse will believe you (for a minute), he is really old, which body did all the typing and research, daily dissertations, studying particular subjects (to be filled in in the labyrinth), The Library Of Babel, the only thing we know about readers is that they like books, writers are readers too, the ultimate fantasy is the place where all the stories are found, cloning to write, cloning to read, what’s up with the late night interrogations, is he psychoanalyzing?, or studying?, voight-kampff tests, what makes something or someone real?, Infinivox, Robert Reed’s Guest Of Honor, there was no quintessential cloning novel, why she is guest of honour, everybody is immortal, he could be downloading, being able to read three books at the same time, David isn’t one of the clones is he?, he escapes, theory and conjecture, nothing more than personality test?, gaining insight into himself, he’s clearly cloned a lot, “failures”, a slave who looks like him, four arms vs. five heads, societal cloning, impressions, “questionable things”, a brothel, a Frankenstian lab, The Island Of Dr Moreau, Littlefinger and Varos from Game Of Thrones, all sorts of play, what the kid’s doing with the frogs, experimenting with all the different ways of living and making life, mirrors and labyrinths, why he lives in a brothel, financial motivations, slave dealing, endless cycle, the Greek Tragedy elements, unfortunately that’s how the prophecy goes, genes are destiny, escaping the trap and escaping the cycle, A Song Of Ice And Fire, castrated folks, incest, pretty interesting, Nightflyers, Sandkings, that hardness, slavery and murder, colonization, genocide, colonialism, what information can we glean, the plastic replicas of the aboriginal stone tools, pre-stone tool culture, is Veill’s hypothesis correct?, does it matter?, good questions, John Marsh or a version of John Marsh, sending messages in the prison…to who?, the third novella, only identified as numbers, more to unlock, 666 to jump up on the stage, Hell, Hell is a stage, the theatre, the woman guard, what are the different theories on the title?, Maitre, the five clones, the maidenhead (virginity), bars and locked doors, suddenly he’s a mad scientist, the slave market visits, the great grandfather, a ROM?, reliability of information, why who is an abbo is important, robot protector, robot tutor, seemingly no emotions, very Christopher Nolan, if Gene Wolfe is the name of 5, one is a mirror of the other, one is a mirror of Earth and one is a mirror of Hell, one way of writing a story summary, what is the metaphor of the stage?, why is the stage stuff in there?, there’s stuff they want you to see, there’s a bunch going on back stage, a facade, the name of the house, The House Of The Dog, base and primal, a sexual position, what the significance of the stone tools (that are actually plastic), John V. Marsh, the significance is overblown because it is the only thing leftover, the kid then confabulates the culture, is David smarter or wiser?, when our father interviews you what does he call you?, escaping the traps, reading Odysseus, the cyclops, don’t give your name, the intertextual references, H.P. Lovecraft, Vernor Vinge, feeling like fantasy, part of the play, nurture vs. nature, it’s all fate, doomed, a metal prison, we seek self knowledge, why we seek, the little ape, we wish to discover why we fail, another reflection, the mirror world you can’t go to, to step through the looking glass, a myth or a fairy tale, trying to connect with the world of myth and legend, quest, maitre means head, like a head of a hotel, so cool, the theories of what is going to happen in Game Of Thrones, Martin’s plans, “interesting”, what bones were put into the soup, how the meal is going to digest, a very complex set of flavours, the anise, the bacon, mixed beans, a very hearty hearty meal, How To Read Gene Wolfe by Neil Gaiman:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them.Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

the dogs always stand in, how the red woman and her prophecies play out, king’s blood, a victim of her own witchery, a deep analysis of the opening credits of the Game Of Thrones TV series, it’s not really a map, it’s an inverse orrery, mechanistic movement, behind the scenes, a Dyson’s sphere, when Winterfell falls, a nice metaphor for the creation of a secondary world, Lord Dunsany’s The Wonderful Window, Golden Dragon City, ways of reading, different methods and techniques with which to approach, an interview with Gene Wolfe, the Korean War, once you think you’re smart that’s when they get you, getting killed shows that you’re not smart, I’m a much more literary man, it’s about the love of writing, how ethereal or gossamer Borges stuff is, how it connects to us, it can live without us reading, a story being spun, its the yarn itself, it needs us more than Borges’ stuff does, what would make a failed Gene Story would look like, that’s his brand, Stanisław Lem’s One Human Minute, a cute thought, a professor of 1920s and 1830, a more broad education, the Wikipedia entry for 1908, when you read the Wikipedia entry for 2017 in 100 years…, Durham Stevens, super-deep, The Island Of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories, he knew exactly what he was doing, a confluence of events, a critical hit, stumbled upon, its not an accident, Faulkner’s The Sound And The Fury, Proust, questions of identity, Sandman, he has always been a really good guy to following the reading of, Douglas Adams, look at this, his essays about Edgar Allan Poe, an even better non-fiction writer than a fiction writer, a book of essays, a mini essay about cities in SimCity 2000, a little Easter Egg, “ruminate”, A View From The Cheap Seats, Philip Reeve, The Hungry Cities Chronicles, The Wind From A Burning Woman (collection) by Greg Bear, this is Lankhmar, Dungeons & Dragons, a city adventure, behind every door is another potential story, a tiny little slice, fully expanded, Fritz Leiber’s not as good as I want him to be, next level stuff, Gene Wolfe never won a Hugo, there’s no justice, you know nothing, Nebulas, who is our best writer?, no official audiobook version, Audible.com, the best of Gene Wolfe on audio is a good idea, a hard no, off the Wolfe subject.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Commentary: How I make a podcast

SFFaudio Commentary

The first step to putting together a podcast is the idea.

Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser - art by Keith Parkinson

I find that ideas are connected, and that by focusing on the connections ideas flow. For example, I just did some research on comics adaptations of the Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser stories. Looking at adaptations is one of several tricks I use for figuring out what might make for a good idea for a podcast. My logic is that if a story or a novel has been adapted to another medium then someone probably saw some merit in it other than the original writer and the original publisher. That isn’t to say that an adaptation means it will definitely work, or that stories or novels without adaptations (or even subsequent re-printings) won’t make for good shows – indeed, sometimes great works have just been neglected. This technique works.

Lankhmar - City Of Adventure

Coming off a recent discussion of a Gene Wolfe novella (recorded for a future SFFaudio Podcast), I got to thinking about the city of Lankhmar, that great fictional city that is the setting for so many of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser stories.

My first stop in looking for adaptations is comics and here are the results of my researches.

DC Comics - Sword Of Sorcery, Issue 4

DC COMICS – SWORD OF SORCERY (1973):
1. The Price Of Pain Ease (an adaptation)
2. Thieves’ House (an adaptation)
3. Betrayal (an original)
4. The Cloud Of Hate (an adaptation and public domain) 14pgs from Fantastic, May 1963
5. The Sunken Land (an adaptation) / The Mouse Alone (an original)

EPIC COMICS - Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser

EPIC COMICS – FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER (1991):
1. Ill Met In Lankhmar (an adaptation)
2. The Circle Curse (an adaptation) / The Howling Tower (an adaptation)
3. The Price Of Pain Ease / Bazaar Of The Bizarre (an adaptation and public domain) 28pgs from Fantastic, August 1963
4. Lean Times In Lankhmar (an adaptation and public domain) 40pgs from Fantastic, November 1959 / When The Sea King’s Away (an adaptation and public domain) 27pgs from Fantastic, May 1960

So as you can see above there have been two Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser comics series, one in 1973, the other in 1991. Of all the adaptations only The Price Of Pain Ease was adapted twice. But that story isn’t public domain (I prefer PD stories because it means we can just make an audiobook without spending weeks, hours, and centuries of often fruitless labour trying to track down the copyright holder). Of those that are PD I’m leaning towards the last couple from issue 4 of the Epic Comics run, in part because I have a vague positive memory of both). But I’m willing to have my mind changed. The next step will be to ask some narrator friends about their interest in Fafhrd And The Grey Mouser – in recorded a story and in talking about it – I seem to recall that Oliver Wyman has a deep love of Mike Mignola (who did the adaptations for Epic Comics) – that might be a good approach, but maybe that Mark Turetsky who was the Mignola lover – heck, I could ask Wayne June or Mr Jim Moon. These guys are all into comics. I’ll probably just tweet them all, cast a wide net and employ a crappy fishing metaphor (a crappie is a kind of fish) I’ll just ask them all if they’re interested in Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser and just see who bites.

Hmm… now for some reason I’m leaning towards When The Sea King’s Away.

Posted by Jesse Willis