The SFFaudio Podcast #506 – READALONG: Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

December 31, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #506 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Talked about on today’s show:
1953/1954, people and animals getting smarter on the Earth, Space Science Fiction, the 2nd half was never published, the first half is public domain, Greg Bear and Poul Anderson’s daughter, bad logic, a strange curiosity, 1953, oh crap my subscription’s lapsed!, The Escape, putting Poul Anderson on notice!, Scott’s prediction, idea science fiction, fantastic, very good, the reviews, what people love about it, too short?, 164 pages, Archie Brock, Jesse is not here to poop on the book, the imagery, the opening, Ray Bradbury, an elephant, a chimpanzee with a shotgun, these covers are weird, not a novel about an animal uprising, that’s not what you see mostly, didn’t come to fruition, throwaway stuff, a revolution in Africa, a one off, gorillas organizing, Protector by Larry Niven, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, the laws of thought in different in different parts of the galaxy, Earth is in the slow zone, stories that nest within this premise, a dampening field was turned off, echoes in other stories about intelligence or stupidity, Anderson didn’t say enough, it wasn’t philosophical enough, the dog, reflection on motivation, reading news reports, the Chinese army has defected, characters coming up with explanations for other characters to shoot down, a shotgun approach, the Goodreads reviews, a good idea for a bunch of different writers to tackle, Mike Resnick can take a bone and chew on it real good, Rachel In Love by Pat Murphy, Flowers For Algernon, a lack of focus, a whole novel about that farm, what does it mean to be smart, people going crazy, its better to be stupid (so as to not be unhappy), a philosophical meditation or exploration, among the scientists, cut the book up, the space stuff is supposed to make us think, is there something that we don’t see?, that’s amazing, no backup systems, no safeguards, an arrogance there, hubris!, racing brains, manic, what about the insects?, the pigs, it almost turned into Animal Farm for a minute, how George Orwell’s novel can be explained, bees, ants, social insects, the higher animals, working at real speed, shrew to humans, reptiles, fish, what about all the aquatic mammals, dolphins and whales, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, he isn’t really interested in the animals except on the farm, 5 times boost, critical mass, let’s explore what intelligence is, is this about school?, more facts, more history, math, train you up, a useful and functional member of society, quitting your job and moving to the country, Clifford D. Simak’s City stories, it’s not a metaphor, what Anderson thinks education is about, they never make the whole planet dumb, a sidebar, save humanity by making it dumb, so 2018, The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells, an apple the size of a basketball (or bigger), a scientific adventure romance, a fabulation, a fertilizer that boosts production, the ultimate result, a homeostasis, profits are always temporary, no eternal profits (or prophets either), very sparky for ideas, no answers, a real thorny issue, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Scott is surprised, if you multiply everyone’s intelligence by 5 the system we live in will fall apart, rote jobs, the elevator job, the farm job, Sheila wasn’t very bookish (was looking into the abyss), Jesse doesn’t know what intelligence is, very pleasant house frau, deep conversations, dissatisfied, I don’t want to know, red pill blue pill, is that intelligence, so small, people don’t enjoy things except for food, bad coffee, super geniuses on top of super geniuses, IQ, what IQ tests are, we’ve got morons and we’ve got imbeciles, problematic language, disability to the mean, mental disabilities, mental classes, does existential angst only kick-in at a certain intelligence class?, sphere of influence, put things back the way it was, there wasn’t a universal thesis, intelligence is a bag, this explains voting, you guys aren’t doing it right, “if everybody got a 5x boost Hillary would be president”, why not the American army, ho one gets classified as an officer (vs. a grunt), why is Sgt. Rock a sergeant, the iconic Nick Fury (and his Howling Commandos), the top of the competence chain, he isn’t saying specific, no single thesis, what is intelligence, bad at math good at smelling bullshit, sometimes stupid sometimes smart, gradients or thresholds, here’s a massive effect, why do so many move to the country?, circumstances and limitations, intellectual limitations vs. vs. power limitations, the rabbit has not hand, power and manipulation, no matter how smart dolphins are they don’t impact us?, what’s a dolphin going to do with a ship?, what’s in the black box (underneath)?, Jesse will shut up for a while, no evolutionary pressure to increase intelligence after a certain level, no supersingularity civilizations, humans can now explore the galaxy, what is that going to do?, human-alien relations, story possibilities, now what?, leaving it hopeful at the end, categories of human, the level we used to be, good luck and godspeed, neanderthals and homo sapiens, recolonize the earth, what the pigs have to say about being slaughtered, veganism, pigs are ok to eat because they’re yummy, negotiations, mutually yummy, we’re mutually yummy, chicken eggs, how much is language importance to intelligence?, dogs and pigs and the elephant, a new logical language, natural shorthand, efficiency of communication, pretty hungry, now the sheep knows what’s happening, cows don’t want to go in the slaughterhouse, in the queue, I’ve heard Bessie, what does this mean?, an animal with human level intelligence and no thumbs and no fire, new sets of questions, selection pressure, no hands and no speech, Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk, uplift, Startide Rising by David Brin, a driving thesis, it doesn’t really work that way, reading the gossip column, poetry is making her depressed, we need to develop a new philosophy, usually the problems, what is the new relationship on the farm going to be?, what should happen?, should we stop eating meat?, if pigs were intelligent(er), lots of experience with cows, feral pigs in Texas, vegetarianism, dairy, slaughtering animals for meat, another thing Anderson doesn’t think about, what about Africa?, Mountain Lions are lions, they can’t eat vegetables, carnivores, what are the predator prey dynamics, birds of prey, intelligence is associated with hunting, instincts to huddle up and get in the center, runaway or get to the center, hide and kill, wolves, stalk, kill, a major disruptor of ecology, what will the wolves do, Traveller (RPG), the entire Earth’s ecology will be disrupted, what we don’t see, the amount of time spent under tutelage, both kids in college, an empty nest, 18 years in the nest, most animals, insects and snakes never meet their parents, hunting skills, a full fledged member of the group, the cultural tools, linguistic tools, not just for poetry, much more to be said on this topic, a place to spark ideas from, not the end word on it, from Locus magazine, what five books would I like to be remembered for? Tau Zero, Mid Summer Tempest, The Boat Of A Million Year, Three Hearts And Three Lions, The Enemy Stars, Brain Wave, what science fiction does best, maybe one more chance, thank you Paul, he didn’t put the High Crusade on the list, Call Me Joe, funny and fun.

Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

April 23, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

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 #454 – READALONG: The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

January 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #454 – Jesse, Scott, Paul, and Steen talk about The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

Talked about on today’s show:
1987, God!, Blood Music, Eon, Jesse’s finnicky tastes, Jesse’s purity test, three years before, the peak of his career, making money and trying to be mainstream, near the peak, that whole weird phase (techno-CIA thrillers), it had a profound effect upon Scott, no such thing as spoiler territory, just profound, the only good end of Earth story, a lot like 2012 (2009), a bunch of theories, Maissa Bessada, WWI (actually WWII) pilot, Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”, Strange Exodus by Robert Abernathy, the false story, the parasites, the cinder cone, good steal!, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, political problems, how dated the politics is in the sense of the president, to impeach the president for being incompetent, part of the point, what has a point at all?, our most powerful person in the world is worse than useless, fantasies of competence, the 2006 Wordlcon in Los Angeles, “Bear, Benford, and Brin (and Vinge)”, very self-satisfied, consulted by the “higher ups”, they got tricked in the same way Dan Carlin got tricked, their consultation was of no inherent interest, Joe Rogan, the CENTCOM conference, shake the hand of the orange doofus, in awe of the room, all of them are frauds, just guys who got elected to a certain job, the problem is he has no power, is it OK to talk about religion on this show?, the “moms” are essentially a kind of god, machines saved us, machines all the way out, a real robot pretending to be biological, Doctor Who, Aliens Of London, When Worlds Collide is an antidote to this book, a different take, “competence porn”, the reference to Larry Niven, Laurence Van Cott, all sorts of great ideas, a really strange book, Jesse summarizes the book: enjoying geology, some weird stuff (not shown), the Americans!, leering at each other sexually (because its a book), science fiction writers writing about sexy time, Lucifer’s Hammer or Footfall, all this rigamarole, absolutely nothing could have been done except what they were compelled to do, a show like dominoes falling, worrying, like ants being attacked by you, ultimately they have no influence on what you’re going to do, part of the theme of the book, even the Arks aren’t human built in this book, at least we’ve got that going for us, no matter how many Larry Niven characters are consulted, blowing up the cinder-cone, buying CDS, so many spinning discs, it hid its age well, in fact the Soviet Union is in terrific shape!, Jerry Pournelle’s future, it should be humbling, the opposite of competence porn, Brin is incredibly impressed by his own brilliance, they’re smart guys, the wife who looks like an owl, Newt Gingrich’s attitude towards his fellow congressmen, the smile he would put on his face, he thought he was the genius in the room, he has written science fiction, he realizes he’s the only one who has read some books, they’re all Trump’s biggest fan, the left-right divide is a false reality, competent vs. incompetent vs. incredibly incompetent, a rhyming satire of Ronald Reagan, the Dunning–Kruger effect, equating not-smart with being religious, the president is not wrong (in this book), the irony, instinct, not a novel about the president, more and more attention goes to the Presidency, Jesse posits an alternate ending to Air Force One (1997), wasn’t that weird, the prayers are answered by the Moms, free will, its almost like they’re the religious ones, even the Moms are omnipotent, Shanghai and Seattle, what about the sequel?, we forget some of the rules from the first book, that Orson Scott Card feeling, Anvil Of Stars, the “ships of the law”, a treatise on the cost of vengeance, chapter openings, Lamb Of God, Lord Of Mercy, we repeat the cycle of violence, how are we any better than them?, Quantico, The Vulcan Academy Murders, the Fermi paradox, Fred Saberhagen, some of the characters have read science fiction, Larry Niven doesn’t even get a berth, an awful randomness, Yosemite National Park, I can write it off, going to the places in the book, The Crystal Spheres by David Brin, radio signals, everybody is living on Trantor, the logistics of empire, anticipating and then seeing the future not look like that, this guy’s amazing!, yeah except that novelized version of Blood Music…, the vision of what you see, the grey goo pouring over the surface of the earth, the same effect, the inner exploration, somehow was on a trajectory for greatness, The Wind From A Burning Woman collection, the raw power and intelligence that you see in a brilliant writer, Ted Chiang, bursting with weird ideas, not 100% polished (at first), now polished, this era of Greg Bear ends with Moving Mars, Queen Of Angels, Darwin’s Radio, Darwin’s Children, fantasies, Michael Crichton territory, to make some money?, rods from god, the “thor project“, War Dogs, a great author, his foundation novel, Gregory Benford, I’ve read this before, contemptuous of the reader, continuing a series, what do you expect from the latest Dune book?, how L. Ron Hubbard still sells a lot of books, Kevin J. Anderson’s writing method, making books while hiking, Vitals, the least damning paragraph, a Goodreads review: “Word count achieved”, The Liberation Of Earth by William Tenn, Of Men And Monsters by William Tenn, we’re termites, we’re the rats in the walls, humbling or humiliating, are we ever going to see from the aliens point of view?, he put us with the people, writing it today, less America focused, inferring the extra lies, a more global perspective, Independence Day (1996), the heart of the book (should have been) to spend time with the teenager, The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, if this had been a novel of two ways of dealing with the situation, Elon Musk/Larry Niven team vs. an Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star team/robots, get past the kumbaya, the turn, the Australian robots self-destructing, they’re alien biological entities, trillions of sentient beings killed, the Wikipedia entry for Anvil Of Stars, formidable “philosophical defenses” (Jesse’s philosophy-fu?), the children of Earth are mad, Peter Pan, Wendy and The Lost Boys, “philosophical defenses” = “human shield“, humans are fucking horrible, brilliant but monstrous, a set up for the sequel, the four witnesses, who made this law?, Jesse is fighting The Forge Of God all the way, he doesn’t know how to do endings, a prequel to Eon, when Greg Bear was really angry, rolling in the Halo money?, a badge of shame, “I don’t understand how it could be good”, the whip!, Steen’s review of The Wind From A Burning Woman, Greg Bear’s take on Arthur C. Clarke’s The City And The Stars, Hardfought, if not audio he’s not going to read it, Bear is married to Poul Anderson’s daughter, a hate-on for Star Wars, Star Wars On Trial, I don’t want to live in a universe with Paul Atredies in charge, that Paul Weimer administration is even more dangerous than some, taxation in USA vs. Canada, Heads, Hegira, residual good feelings, Hull Zero Three, Dinosaur Summer, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, City At The End Of Time, the dying earth sub-genre, William Hope Hodgson, using Steen as a filter, ideas vs. writing, easy listening, Jorge Luis Borges, Olaf Stapledon, Voyager 1 news, awe inspiring, far future, long term projects that are still paying dividends, more funding to rovers on mars, some hot hot Venus action, balloons, Zeppelins on Venus, City Of Darkness by Ben Bova, betrayed by Bova, puns!, and that’s how Paul’s administration came to an end.

TOR - The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #410 – READALONG: Protector by Larry Niven

February 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #410 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Protector by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
1973, Galaxy, June 1967, The Adults by Larry Niven, Phssthpok, the name of the ship, the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Human, and Eagle, baby angels, beaked, going deeper, the seraphim, Cherubism

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

the end

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

how the aliens are described, aliens, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, previous encounters with Larry Niven, channeling all sorts of things, what did Maissa think?, a softer spot for Larry Niven, not sexist at all, Larry Niven’s best book, an abrupt ending, incomplete pieces, more Kobold, the artificial planetoid, Eden II, the first paperback release of Protector, a donut shaped planet with a tibit (Tim Horton’s), the belly button of the donut, donut holes, a monster or a fairy, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, by all the Lords of Kobol, clicks, Battlestar Galactica, going Old Testament, going Mormon, a masterful novel, The Ringworld Engineers as a reprise of Protector, Ringworld as the light fun novel, the ending is so good, the horror, genocide, fighting for humanity, Roy Truesdale, tricking the nurses, fake cities, WWII, inflatable tanks, a page break, it seems only reasonable to novelize this report, that was fun, check the duplicate Stonehenge, the final three paragraphs, just behind this laser pulse, “I love you”, the novel is wrong, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, Betrayer Of Worlds, Protector has enough space battle to kill actual space battle novel (barring crappy space opera space battles), space seeds, biological bullshit, a highly motivated character, deeply reasoned, a quasi relative, the opposite of X-Wings and Tie fighters banking in outer space, we love it anyway, exactly the opposite, cool vs. functional, steel jacketed, magnetic field, the thinking behind the space battles wipes out everyone (writer’s) abilities to write any more, a galactic chess game vs. high-stakes poker, sub-light relativistic space battles, positional effects, Rules Of Engagement (or maybe Master of Orion ?, C.S. Forester, broadsides in space, a Frederick Pohl editorial from 1963, Spacewar! (literally mentioned in this book), Asteroids, a right turn in space, that’s why Larry Niven’s the best, playing with the laws of physics and he doesn’t cheat, the Hal Clement essay, honest poker, the panspermia aspect, World Of Ptavvs, the slavers, Homo habilis from the stars, dna based, the Slavers did it, the Sea Statue, a dissertation of free will, two divergent visions of Creation, when god stays or leaves, no progress, still animals, the image of the Eye and the Garden of Eden, the Eye In The Sky, I can see you – I can see through bushes, no art, Brennan can see, a sense of whimsy, a fun character, was Brennan a fake?, Truesdale’s protector, motivation, take me to you leader, so playful, he is their leader, amazing, paying fees, Oldavai, Crete, still in the breeding stage, a good book, bunches of questions and points, building the Ringworld, a different library, an expedition to Earth, an expedition to star X, their achilles’ heel, Ringworld Engineers is all echoes, we needed this book, Alice as in Alice In Wonderland, she left pregnant, play in the fields, but do not touch…, tell her about the Bluebeard myth (aka The Castle Of Murder), an egg, a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg, you do not want to open that door, you do not want to eat of those Trees, the solution to the mystery of the novel, everyone has been kidnapped is a descendant of Brennan, farming and cultivating descendants, Brennan monster is playful in his play, Vandervecken, making a myth he can enjoy, consciousness before being changed, the vampires get consciousness in Ringworld Engineers, does it help you to have whimsy, the jury is out, a message of despair, the Pak is coming, the Kzinti, The Mote In God’s Eye, hard lessons, genocide, moties, motivation by need, Brennan painting his spacesuit, biding his time, a medieval castle, progeny, deep down the point is art is good, if you’re smart enough there is very little free choice, Teela Brown’s luck, the same subject, the root is perpetuated by a virus, colonizing the pak, what is smartness except efficiency, crossing a continent, struggling with money, why do people want it, what is money anyway?, money is food, keeping your food safe with food, why does Trump need more money, operating as a logical creature it is to make his progeny better off, it worked for Genghis, inheritance, straight out the genes, what motivates people, biological determinism, everyone needs motivation, stop eating, grasping after fake visions of punishment (or reward), a “death wish”, like Phssthpok I’ve made all human children my beneficiaries, the Public Domain PDF Page, a hip street, channeling Frank Sinatra, taking photographs, not sanguine, Larry Niven’s own financial circumstances, writing SF for a long period of time, Greg Bear, Halo novels, Blood Music don’t put money on the table, Niven’s work is playful, the reason for Niven’s renown, making the piece the best piece it can be, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, collaborations, there are no spoilers,

Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…
-Dirk Grobbelaar

Among Others by Jo Walton, all his human characters blur together, Walton has a point, psychoanalyzing, SF isn’t a costume drama, John W. Campbell’s challenge: write me an alien that thinks as well as a man but unlike a man, Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves, Arrival, the story and the movie, Understand by Ted Chiang, Limitless (2011), and the rightly cancelled Limitless TV series, like the Minority Report TV show, from the sub-conscious to uplift and unconscious and conscious, Flowers For Algernon, flourishing and protected, seeing the manipulation happening, Sherlock Holmes, seeing the pattern no one else can see, intelligence, politics and the failures of politics, intelligence vs. manipulation, a smart person doesn’t gamble unless they know it isn’t a gamble, a war longer than the quagmire of the Vietnam War, all of that struggle, that’s the opposite of intelligence, Niven is right about intelligence and options, Brennan is not as bound, the golf course, did Brennan ever play the golf course that he built?, this would be good, having thought those through, how we see Brenna when he interacts with his Adam and Eve, he runs, the next thing that needs to be done, the efficiency we gain as adults, pretending to play dolls, the exigencies of adulthood, being a smart adult, I put away childish things, playing with LEGO, an angle to attack, LEGO as a awards, appreciating the enjoyment of play, having consciousness of his childhood, creations for a purpose, sharing vs. hoarding, pondering deep things, the mother vs. the father, Brennan’s modified suit with the Mother and Child, a savior figure, he’s the Madonna, their garden, playthings for the children, the Sol system is Brennan’s garden, have you noticed you haven’t had war?, exterminating the Martians, The Organleggers, capital crimes, China, the horror of rationality, organ transplantation, the RNA sequence, wiping your whole mind, the premise of Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck, Rammer by Larry Niven, A World Out Of Time, greater than human intelligence, we were manipulated into it, The Draco Tavern, playful comedic pieces, here’s a problem of science and here’s my solution, jokes, a whole subgenre of bar stories, The Callahan books by Spider Robinson, Lord Dunsany’s The Jorkens Stories, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, chirality, thalidomide, an iceberg, Known Space, just one of Niven’s playgrounds, Hard Fantasy, The Magic Goes Away, as you use magic you deplete a natural resource, magic carpet, a dead spot, and back in these days amoeba were the size of whales, that’s how little magic is left, a Niven disc, a sense of sadness, set in the time of Atlantis, The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak, Niven as an efficient writer, jarring transitions, needing an editor, better than Clement, sex, a vitality, the weather is a little to clement in Clement’s world, Harry Stubbs, revisiting Protector, given Tree Of Life now Paul would… stop eating? wiping out half of humanity for reasons known only to him… in the New World Order, remaining human, being a mom, maternal feelings, a screaming red thing that came out of your body, are Protectors more like moms than dads?, genderless, oh sweetie, killing off all the creatures that threaten her children, warlike, a mother wouldn’t do that, is Niven right?, if you’re smart enough are their fewer and fewer courses of action?, the Teela monster, pretty sure Niven was never a mom, fierce viking grandparents, no free will, different motivation and different results, why does Brennan wait to convert Truesdale, poor Brennan, too much talking baby-talk, gender as an honorific, Protector Mom (please don’t write this as a sequel), something really original, a creation so original it is like a dragon or an elf, seeing the cat vs. monkey you’ve always wanted, the super-strong hominid vs. the intelligent tiger, Speaker vs. Teela, as Douglas Adams put it “Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.”, we got our own stuff going, the Traveller universe, most excellent.

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Ballantine Books (1973) Protector by Larry Niven

Protector by Larry Niven - illustration by H.R. Von Dongen

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #383 – READALONG: The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

August 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #383 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Steen Hansen talk about The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton.

Talked about on today’s show:
1969, before the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, contemporary critics, SF critics vs. mainstream critics, the defense of the ghetto against interlopers, Ray Bradbury, Doris Lessing, a deep feeling, spoiling the book, showing what was wrong with it, getting the facts wrong, interpretation, Luke Burrage reviewing, Robert J. Sawyer, bad writing, had they done nothing … nothing would have happened, the mutation, the Wildfire facility, Star Trek, scientists out for the good of humanity, self-destruct sequences, MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction, every nuclear sub movie, film-like, The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, airport fiction tropes, hyper competent high level government high tech mcguffins, brain-washing, novel -> film, written for film?, ER, picky fiddly science and bureaucratic operation, killed or useless, trusted scientists to save the world, ruthlessly hard science, Hollywood couldn’t make this movie now, restrained, chilly, the gender swap, Robert Wise, Shirley Jackson, The Haunting Of Hill House, Alfred Bester, a document dump, classified material, overloading the reader with verisimilitude, Eaters Of The Dead by Michael Crichton, The Thirteenth Warrior, Vikings, Russians and Byzantium, completely bullshit, Mr. Bullshit, regular SF vs. techno-thriller, a yummy INFODUMP, nobody had a definition for life, black cloth, a watch, a piece of granite, pure Science Fiction, Bryan’s mind destroyed at age 8, binary numbers, lasers vs. darts, Larry Niven, 24, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Steen welcomes our robot overlord, high-scale AI, Iain M. Banks, humans as pets, humans as cogs, I Have No Mouth And I must Scream, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, Dante Alighieri, lost race, the descent into Hell, from red to blue, the harrowing of Hell, a cold war story where the Russians aren’t the bad guys, The Bedford Incident, James Follett’s The Light Of A Thousand Suns, set in the recent past, the shotgun approach, Margaret Atwood, picking and choosing at the buffet table, dedicated to A.C.D., M.D. -> Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle -> Dr. Michael Crichton, “not a new story”, the glowing review in Life magazine, a retelling of The Blob, the Technovelgy, auto-doc, the suppressed cancer drug, Jensen Pharmaceuticals, gut flora, nudity and ass-grabbing, rectal suppository, astro-Tang, coffee, all that cleaning, they’re too holy, the five levels is a gimmick, the leveling, it’s bullshit!, we all know we have to wash our hands, the Wikipedia entry for the Airport Genre

Airport novel(s) represent a literary genre that is not so much defined by its plot or cast of stock characters, as much as it is by the social function it serves. An airport novel is typically a fairly long but fast-paced novel of intrigue or adventure that is stereotypically found in the reading fare offered by airport newsstands for travelers to read in the rounds of sitting and waiting that constitute air travel.

Rudyard Kipling’s fiction was published as a railway magazine, the origin of pulp fiction, The Lion’s Game by Nelson DeMille, the opening to The Strain, having the reins of political power at your fingertips, in the 2008 miniseries remake, back stories/love stories, a muddy anti-science mess, pre-Apollo -> Watergate -> conspiracy theories, the technical glitch (paper between the bell and the striker), germ warfare?!, the remake of The Manchurian Cantidate, the films and adaptations reflect the times, the 2008 version is super-militarized, X-18, F-4 phantoms, Dracula, the long gothic tradition of found documents, Plan 9 From Outer Space, a cold war document, The Parallax View, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Crichton like Spielberg loves power, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, medical people as superheroes, uber-expert scientists, power fantasy fiction, scepticism of power, image Michael Crichton at a Science Fiction convention, the immune reaction, You are not of the body!, techno-thrillers, why Ian Fleming’s James Bond books became so popular, JFK, Ronald Reagan was a big fan of Tom Clancy, The Hunt For Red October, Reagan based foreign policy of Red Storm Rising, Jack Ryan was a wonk Navy -> CIA agent -> CIA Director -> President, Firefox, political fiction written for a jet-set audience, conservative Heinleinian, Andromeda Strain cosplay?, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, SF writers save the world from alien invasion, science matters vs. science fiction, the first biology crisis, outflanking the ghetto, the 2006 Worldcon, Greg Benford, Greg Bear, David Brin, thinking up scenarios, if I was a terrorist how would I destroy the the United States, Wildfire, Cold War contingency planning, the Rand Corporation, the odd-man out element, his name was Hall but should have been Corridor, does this make sense?, the odd man is gay?, The Odd Couple, gay coding?, gay men are most likely to turn off nukes?, The Great Train Robbery, timing pacing planning tricking, that roller-coaster spark, opening observation, we are always observing, fun fiction for Henry Kissinger and the jet set, bureaucrats of a class, this function material is reflective, Science Fiction writers are poor, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, a biology book, Paul Di Filippo, bio-punk, Ribo-funk, The Bay (2012), The Hot Zone, the wet science, cloning, the neglected science, Coma, Protector by Larry Niven, how electron-microscopes work, crystallography, “it mutated”?!?!?, that was odd, it’s communicating with itself, block-chain virus, deep hurting, The Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski, medicine without silicon, the Patriarchy, The Highest Frontier, Blood Music by Greg Bear, a Halo novel, The Wind From A Burning Woman, a “wild” writing style, bio is hard to do, Pontypool, prions, the worst part of The Walking Dead, we’re all infected, a symbol for regular death, Titan by John Varley, a 100ft tall Marilyn Monroe monster, The Satan Bug by Alistair Maclean (1962), where does the techno-thriller begin, a precursor to techno-thriller, The Stolen Bacillus by H.G. Wells, a really obvious anarchist, Wells defused the whole genre for sixty years, The Food Of The Gods, a convincing linguistic maneuver, fawning of technology bureaucracy power and the function of government, a stack of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Sputnik shock, British invasion novels, Tom Clancy as a zombie brand, special helicopter trip, massive government expenditure for the competent man, an empty jetliner, vicarious thrill, power fantasy, “he’s the most important person right now”, this is our bailiwick!, nice and short, Dean Koontz, Phantoms, A Game Of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, Ghost Fleet by August Cole and P.W. Singer, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child books, no CRISPR, China is no Soviet Union, futurism, education moves so slowly, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an X-Box with Paranoid Linux, Reamde by Neal Stephenson, a Kurt Vonnegut vibe, a Welsh Muslim terrorist, like pornography you know a techno-thriller when you see it.

The dedication for The Andromeda Strain

title page for The Andromeda Strain

Algis Budrys review of The Andromeda Strain

Life Magazine review of The Andromeda Strain

The Andromeda Strain - illustration by Dusty Abell

The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton - Random House Audio read by Chris Noth

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #288 – READALONG: The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson

October 27, 2014 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #288 – Jesse and Mr Jim Moon talk about The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson.

Talked about on today’s show:
1912, The House On The Borderland, a great flawed masterwork, Panther UK, The Ghost Pirates, Carnacki, “you could club a night hound to death with it!”, why you shouldn’t skip the first chapter (or why you should), what’s missing: hey we found this document, the unnamed protagonist(s), a handwritten font, a seventeenth century that never was, the style and the tics, giant paragraphs starting with “and” “yet” “now”, no dialogue at all, the Lady Mirdath, a deliberately clumsy journal, a found footage book, a book to savour, Scott Danielson, mostly kissing, a little spanking, washing and kissing feet, playing the coquette, the Ballantine publication with the Lin Carter introduction, why is Hodgson such a romantic in this book?, Sam Gafford, writing order vs. publication order, The Night Land as the work of a young adolescent man, getting into the rhythm of the language, the Pyramid of the Lesser Redoubt, the 80% mark, the black river, a morass of romance, gender politics, horror?, Lovecraftian horrors in the background, fantasy, adolescent fantasy, a mother and a damsel, fight monsters and capture the princess, honoured as a hero, a classic adventure story, the landscape itself, how does the ecology work?, no sun and no moon, an utterly far future, it retains its plausibility, a new dark age of science and sorcery, a scientifically minded man, a 17th century man, the “earth current”, geothermal energy, when the earth was struck by a comet, pierced to the mantle, the oceans drained away, a dying earth, flying machines, The Night Land is future-proofed, the Earth is tidally locked, Lord Kelvin’s estimate, trees? trees?, the Moon is gone, the stars are gone, an underground world, the other stars have also burned out, billion year old petrified trees?, mega-fauna, at the ocean’s bottom there are lots of predators, moss bushes, living on the little light of the lava pits, the Country Of Seas, the Black River, moss trees?, spiders, scorpions, snakes, the four armed men, the humped men, the great men, monstrous mutations, the Night Hounds and the Watchers are unclean things intruding into our world, damaging the fabric of reality, abhumans, neither animal nor supernatural, Outside forces, the Watchers, converging on the Great Redoubt, you don’t see anything as menacingly powerful even in Mordor, subsisting on isotopes, giant eidolons or avatars of outside forces, pawns of the power of evil shaped out of the landscape itself, the Listening Ear, slow but intelligent, the Thing That Nods, the Earth will be destroyed (in so many ways), WWI, mutating away, all these threats to humanity are symbolized, aeons of encroachment, the Watcher Of The South, the Watcher Of The North-East, the light in the eye, “the essential doubt that is part of myth and legend”, cast iron mythology, the joys of The Night Land, the last of humanity in one building, it won’t belong before humanity degenerates, the grey metal armor, the diskos, a spinning metal weapon wouldn’t work, “don’t hold it that way”, whipping, immature attitudes, whose wearing what, “you’re not eating you pills!”, something real and human, a youth of 17, beneath the constant kissing, the audiobook version, an epic of two characters, the Master Monstruwacans keeping the telescopes warm, the top of the pyramid, the farmers (as usual) are at the bottom of the social pyramid, deep into the Earth, the first proper dying earth, a sequel to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, a fannish projection, Darkness by Lord Byron, the journey to the far future, the journey through Mordor, C.S. Lewis read The Night Land, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Inklings, Sam Gafford’s hypothesis, the first fully fledged dying earth story, Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique, Jack Vance, a love across time, the dog and the sister, human emotion played out across a backdrop, the last reel of 2001: A Space Odyssey, deep future, TheNightLand.co.uk, why you should read chapter one, they always meet at night, attacked by footpads, boar hounds, pigs, she dies in childbirth, then the crazy stuff happens, it was all mistake and they lived happily ever after, the framing sequence in The House On The Borderland, a journal of actual life and a journal of a future incarnation, “she called me by my pet name”, “I called her Mirdath”, the product of a nervous breakdown, a manic wish-fulfillment, the focus is not on the 17th century writer, deep into the night, the names, powdered food and powdered water, telepathy, mind elements, the night hearing, awesomely hilarious and completely wrong, “the master word”, an authentication against false messages, public key cryptography, discos?, a 17th century man who somehow got a hold of the projector and some reels of Tron (1982), the plot of Tron, an avatar of everyone he knows is in there, The Lego Movie (2014) has the same plot, Small Town by Philip K. Dick, some crazy futurist, Frank Tippler, reincarnated in a computer program, a dreamland, the hypnagogic land, a novel theory, Hodgson is such a good writer that we are doing most of the work, the greater and the lesser, the reflections, what’s going on in the House Of Silence?, why is the nodder nodding?, the road where the silent ones walk, the country from where comes laughter, monstrous black slug creatures, wilderness hazards, capital “E” evil, “Ah, last of humanity.” [licks lips], is the House of Silence the House on the Borderland?, the arena, Hodgson is an amazing power of a writer, retelling of The Night Land, stories set in The Night Land, he has the power of H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, because Lovecraft liked them, the unrecognized part of Lovecraft’s legacy is that he was a fan, oh the really long difficult one, you need to be a mature and patient reader, The Dream Of X, The Shadow Out Of Time, a mind swap through time, Lovecraft was fundamentally uninterested in making money, somebody’s pet project, an artwork, will this be popular?, I wanna make some money, the Carnacki stories were commercial, prog-rock, a concept album, self-indulgent doesn’t necessarily mean bad, “what I really need is a 500 page novel written in 17th century language”, written for his own edification and amusement, nautical fiction, The Boats Of Glen Carrig, The Voice In The Night, horrible and romantic, an infection story, body horror, The Night Boat?, “I just found this it was in an old trunk”, “outshone by the Wellses, Doyles, and Ashton Smiths”, there’s something to this idea, John C. Wright, Greg Bear, screen adaptations, The Rivals Of Sherlock Holmes, The Night Land is ideal for film script, giant slug battles, A Princess Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs has the same plot, he out-Howards Robert E. Howard, the nobility of masculinity, a male archetype, physical culture, body building, William Hope Hodgson was a hottie, a Hodgson bio-pic would be a winner.

Fabian A DREAM OF X
Pays Nuit
Ballantine - The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson
Fabian - The Watcher Of The South
Fabian - Into Mine Arms
The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson - Word Cloud
review of THE NIGHT LAND by William Hope Hodgson from The Observer, May 19th, 1912

Posted by Jesse Willis

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