The SFFaudio Podcast #104 – Scott, Jesse, and Gregg Margarite talk about two Robert Sheckley short stories, Untouched By Human Hands (aka One Man’s Poison) and Seventh Victim.
Talked about on today’s show:
extravaganza vs. jamboree vs. hootenanny, the absent article, The Tenth Victim, Is That What People Do? The Selected Stories Of Robert Sheckley, “one man’s poison is another man’s meat”, writing with your mind, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Gregg has been on many bloody campaigns with his typewriter, Scott loves the pen and notebook, Jesse uses a camera, whiteboard technologies, our podcast about FOOD, Douglas Adams, “Sheckley is not as vaudevillian as Adams”, Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, The Pirate Planet, a building shaped like a doughnut, “food-worthy”, c-rations vs. sea rations, “fill all your stomachs and fill them right”, Hellman and Casker, how do you determine food from non-food, chemists have horribly burnt tongues, Geology exams require the use of tongues, giggling food, drinking vs. being drunk, short stories should throw off sparks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Untouched By Human Hands was sixty years ahead of its time, Laurel And Hardy vs. Gilligan’s Island, the SyFy channel is sixty years behind the times, Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Robert A. Heinlein, copyright, Mickey Mouse vs. Mighty Mouse, keeping murder alive, Sheckley’s late career, Stanton Frelaine = Stand In the Free Lane?, The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Lifeboat Mutiny by Robert Sheckley, The Leech, Warrior Race, Watchbird, La Decima Vittima, Marcello Mastroianni, New York, World War IV, World War VI, feminism, Mindswap, the economy in Seventh Victim, wordlbuilding in a short story, Spotters, Morger, the Tens Club, a game where people kill people, “there is no such thing as human rights”, are these rights not self-evident?, thou shalt not kill/murder, “the age of the half-believer”, Catholicism vs. protestantism, cherry-picking the beliefs from the old and new testament, the three legs of the scientific method (rational, empirical, scholastic), fads, should we require a degree in science to wear a lab-coat?, cargo cults, philosophy, the Emotional Catharsis Bureau, “damn women”, “gladiatorial events complete with blood and thunder”, does a desire to murder start wars?, Gregg thinks we are vehicles for genes, Professor Eric. S. Rabkin, Genesis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is aggressiveness (or competition) a requirement to move on, the Space Race, the architects of tech during WWII, Michael Faraday isn’t getting any royalties, copyright vs. copyfight, seek technology got a patent!, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, guaranteed minimum income, William Shakespeare, West Side Story, “there are only seven stories [basic plots]”, “we stray”, Frelaine’s reaction to the suicidal Victim, the purpose of catharsis, the deep unsatisfaction of an unfinished play, an unrequited kill, how many [TV] series are canceled before their plots unfold? (too many), Dexter vs. Babylon 5 vs. Lost, Game Of Thrones, Drive, The Wire is deeply unsatisfying every episode, ambivalent storytelling, “you can’t fix this neighborhood, move.”, The Corner, Firefly and Serenity, “he had a plan”, how to watch Babylon 5, what is the message of Seventh Victim, X-Minus One, Battlefield 2, do violent video games (and computer games) reduce violence?, Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, Killer: The Game Of Assassination, Gregg wants it with collateral damage.
Journey to the Center of the Earth
By Jules Verne; Read by Simon Prebble
7 CDs – 7.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Classic / Geology / Dinosaurs /
In listening to Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, I was struck by how much modern films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and National Treasure owe to this book. Although it was written way back in 1864, while the War Between the States was in full swing and the earth was a very different place, in many ways its thoroughly modern, at home alongside recent sci-fi novels like John Crichton’s Jurassic Park.
In summary, Journey to the Center of the Earth is a fast-paced and lively pseudo science/exploration story that manages to be mostly interesting and entertaining. Unfortunately, it also crosses over into unbelievable territory about three-quarters of the way through and ends with a classic deux-ex-machina, but I found I can live with it.
Journey to the Center of the Earth takes aim at the theory that the earth grows hotter the nearer that you travel to its center. Verne posits the idea that the earth’s core is inhabitable and houses massive cavities, caverns so huge that you cannot see their roof. At its center is a sea large enough that you can travel across its and lose sight of land all around. Science has of course since proven this idea impossible, but it makes for a fun story if you divorce it from reality.
Journey to the Center of Earth has a compelling opening that reminded me of The DaVinci Code–Professor Liedenbrock and his nephew Axel, the heroes of the story, find a coded note written in runes within the pages of an Icelandic saga. They puzzle through it and discover that it is a note written by Arne Saknussemm describing a passage he has found to the center of the earth. The opening is located in the interior of a dormant volcano in Iceland. Liedenbrock and Axel recruit an Icelandic guide and the three men embark on their journey.
I found Verne’s descriptions of overland and sea travel to Iceland interesting, and the first scenes of the descent fascinating. Verne vividly portrays the vast depths and terrifying downward drops of the volcano draft, and creates excitement and dread in two sequences in which Axel gets lost in the inky blackness and the three men nearly die of thirst.
Unfortunately I thought that the tale started to unravel once the men near the earth’s center, which contains ice age creatures, dinosaurs, and even early men. If the story didn’t literally jump a shark it certainly started to lose me once Liedenbrock and Axel’s small boat passes very nearly over an Ichthyosaurus. I was also puzzled with the abrupt ending–Liedenbrock and Axel gain great fame from their expedition, while others treat their claims with skepticism. But, inexplicably, no one ever bothers to re-trace their footsteps and verify their claims.
Still, you could do worse than pass the time by giving it the book a listen. It’s also skillfully read by English-accented, professorial-sounding narrator Simon Prebble.
Journey to the Center of the Earth By Jules Verne, performed by a full cast 2 Tapes, Approx. 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA] Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio Published: 1998 ISBN: 0671872281 Themes: / Science fiction / Adventure / Exploration / Geology /
One should not drink from the same well of audio books in rapid succession. I recently listened to Alien Voices’ The First Men in the Moon, and found this one just a little too similar for my liking. The main characters in both consist of a crusty professor and a younger, more energetic helper; in both cases the professor is voiced by Leonard Nimoy and the younger man by John DeLancie; and in both cases the two men go off to explore some unknown world and discover amazing adventures.
This book suffers in the comparison not just because it came second, but because it isn’t quite as good. The plot involves a wild trip, but one that brings the characters into contact with only monsters and forces of nature, not other intelligences; whereas The First Men in the Moon brings us into an alien society that has chilling implications for our own. The soundscapes of this book are neither as rich nor as immediately immersive as the first, and the characters are not played that distinctly different. Leonard Nimoy is good, but he’s just so darned good-natured that his character only seems foul tempered by others’ report. His heart isn’t really in it, and Herr Doktor Liedenbrock comes off no less pleasant than the buzzing Professor Caver. And John DeLancie’s true talent comes in portraying morally suspect characters. Here, his sweet Axel, the Doctor’s nephew, never quite rings true.
Not to say either man does a bad job, or that the sound isn’t excellent, or even that the adaptation doesn’t rip right along and offer plenty of adventure, quaint as the concepts are. But it just doesn’t grab you in the gut, it doesn’t feel inevitable, and it doesn’t offer any fresh insight into the human condition. In short, it doesn’t bring a classic story from the dawn of science fiction into our living presence, and as such, it really isn’t worth the time. Based on my previous exposure, I think it would be a mistake to write off other Alien Voices titles, but I wouldn’t break any bones rushing out to get hold of this one.
Everybody’s talking about podcasting these days, either that or starting their own and then talking about it. We’ve collected some resources for the Science Fiction and Fantasy audio fan who is finally ready for the MP3 experimentation to begin…
The Dragon Page A long running Arizona radio show has transitioned from mere frequency and amplitude modulations to the exciting world of Podcasting! But in a disturbing turn it has started to multiply at a truly alarming rate! The Dragon Page has spawned three, count em three, podcasts and a number of spin-off serial novels. Will they become the Walmart of SF & F podcasting? Tune in and see…
–Cover to Cover A podcast with a literary science fiction and fantasy bent, authors are interviewed frequently, hosted by Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra. http://dragonpage.com/
–Slice of Sci Fi A podcast with a spec fic media and Star Trek bent, hosted by Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra. http://www.sliceofscifi.com/
–Wingin’ It Two bent SF & F geeks, Michael R. Mennenga and Evo Terra, podcasting without a net. http://dragonpage.com/
Evo Terra came up with the term, “Podiobooks”, for serially podcast audiobooks and he’s built a site showcasing four spec fic novels that are doing just that, the first three were associated with The Dragon Page prior to the the creation of the Podiobooks site, but they’ve generously included a fourth independent author’s “podiobook” there too:
–MOREVI: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana Tee Morris and Lisa Lee’s paperbook novel Morevi: The Chronicles of Rafe and Askana gets serially podcast with Tee Morris reading and engineering. http://www.teemorris.com/podcast
–Earthcore, Scott Sigler’s geology and mining centered novel is being serially podcast. It plays out like a technothriller in the vein of a Lincoln Child novel only far, far angrier. Sigler reads it himself. http://www.scottsigler.net/earthcore/
–Tom Corven is a tale being written and read by Paul Story. Story (a pseudonym) originally hails from Scotland but he’s writing it in Split, Croatia and podcasting it serially from a cybercafe there. http://www.dreamwords.com/TomCorven.htm
Rev Up Review British blogger and SF author Paul Jenkins’ new podcast sounds very promising indeed. His second podcast carefully surveys what’s available in the speculative fiction podcast field and what of it is worth listening to. He’s also reading his short story “The Journey of Jonathan Cave”, but part one starts with his first “experimental” podcast so be sure to check that one out first. http://www.rev-up-review.co.uk/
The Seanachai Thanks to Paul S. Jenkins for finding this one. The Seanachai is a “weekly(ish)” podcast of dramatic storytelling and commentary by Patrick E. McLean. Funny fantasy so far! http://www.goodwordsrightorder.com/
“Next, I Hem a Cyclic Door” A project using “podcasting”, comic book panels and video to tell an episodic science-fiction story across different mediums. A collaboration between comic book artist Tim Dedman and Code Owl Productions founder Gabriel Walsh. Dedman and Walsh exchange scripts and execute each other’s idea. http://www.codeowl.com/nextihemacyclicdoor/