The SFFaudio Podcast #682 – READALONG: The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #682 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Evan Lampe, and Trish E. Matson talk about The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Talked about on today’s show:
Racoona Sheldon, Analog, June 1977, special women’s issue, Eyes Of Amber by Joan D. Vinge, Analog, not just for men, Ben Bova, a 1970s thing, Women Destroy anthologies, all Harlan Issue, throw all the women in one basket, J. Michael Straczynski, a sausage fest, representation by gender, a piss per job, one woman per this episode, making room for women, what her logic was, Angel Fix, to suit different markets?, James Tiptree, Jr had to intervene on behalf of Racoona Sheldon, Robert Silverberg had to make a huge apology, it was very clear James Tiptree, Jr. was a man, the Andre Norton story, she was not hiding, a quasi-medieval romance, rationalization, this story is about rationalization, the whole religious cult element, super hard SF, as a historian, certain biological experiences (like love), fairly universal across humanity, across time however…, culture, movies, love songs, something physically is changing in these men, all the cultural baggage would be dispensed, morality wouldn’t win out?, the first time a zombie wakes up, turning some aspect up to 11, to set the society’s norms, urges, the story of Adam and Eve, uncomfortable, people use it for whatever they want, good science fiction, why Jesse likes adaptations, The Twilight Zone adaptation, the new Dune movie, The Masters Of Horror adaptation, the 90210 guy and Elliot Gould, commas missing in the PDF, the narrator of the story has comma problems but the characters writing the letters don’t, her diary entry, a fun format, enough material for a hefty novel (or a quintology), if Steven Baxter wrote this story, a hard topic to fully satisfy everybody with, like H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, horrific, creeping dread, clamping down on the news [censorship], the horror of the nice rational scientist, feels himself changing and can’t stop it, bestial/primal instincts, awakened by the aliens, existential dread, we are the monsters, we’re all going to die, humanity is going to kill itself, people do it to themselves, completely chilling, On And Off A Mountain Road, metaphors, cursed film episode Cigarette Burns, a slasher, the focus is on the micro, the outer image, Alan in Colombia, his job is what the aliens do to us,

the 2019 reboot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE has an episode called “NOT ALL MEN” which is credited to Heather Anne Campbell

it seems to be an uncredited remake of the MASTERS OF HORROR episode “THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION” scripted by Sam Hamm

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution

except the latter is an adaptation of a 1977 story by James Triptree, Jr.

and the former isn’t

evidence:

Both have family dinner parties

The Screwfly Solution DINNER

Both have cakes with words written on them (“welcome home” and “happy birthday”)

Not All Men DINNER

Both have women being murdered by men

Both have the military showing up

Both have atypical meteors showers

and

Both have their respective blonde female protagonists driving around by day, and being chased by night, in identical yellow Volkswagen Beetles

on the left TWILIGHT ZONE on the right MASTERS OF HORROR

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution BEETLES

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is biological Science Fiction and visceral Horror – an alien invasion story like THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells, as intellectually rigorous, but brutal, scary, and gripping

NOT ALL MEN is decidedly not – it is almost a comedy, but there are no laughs

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION suggest we are victims of biology

NOT ALL MEN suggest everyone has a choice and most men choose to be bad

the MASTERS OF HORROR episode makes a character from the short story gay, and makes him resistant to the biology that effect most men

the TWILIGHT ZONE episode has a gay character who chooses to be resistant

and both have females disagreeing, in their yellow Volkswagen beetles, about how to understand what is happening to the men around them

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is full of conscientious men and women, scientists, trying to figure out what is happening and how to help their families and the world

NOT ALL MEN has basically no scientists (@ the end, maybe?) but has a marketing company doing some sciencey or something?

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION has the most brutally noir ending imaginable, an ironic one given the characters we follow around for the story, perhaps the last woman alive on earth watching the new tenants of Earth arriving and knowing humanity is finished

NOT ALL MEN ends with a deus ex machina, with cops or the army saving our viewpoint characters, fade to black

blood tests turn up nothing

a twist ending that throws out the main idea they’ve been pushing (the red meteors were a red herring)

there a line at the end of the episode that supposedly explains it all:

“The meteors…they were a placebo.”

then we get the cut-rate Rod Serling closing narration:

Jordan Peele (cut rate Rod Serling)

“Tonight, Annie Miller found herself in the center of a mysterious and violent epidemic. What she encountered was no material disease but rather a plague of conscience. One that gave men permission to ignore decency, consent, and fear. And tonight, all it took was a few an
innocuous little rocks to turn men into monsters here in the Twilight Zone.”

at one point during the craziness in the streets one guy says

“Fuck your feelings”

And this is the level of analysis and writing we are dealing with.

more than 2000 imdb ratings for each

IMDB RATINGS

4.8/10 for THE TWILIGHT ZONE “Not All Men”

6.4/10 for MASTERS OF HORROR “The Screwfly Solution”

Finally, both were filmed in British Columbia

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is set in several places, including Texas, Michigan, and British Columbia

i don’t think we know where NOT ALL MEN is set (other than a really lame corner of The Twilight Zone)

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, Volkswagen Beetle, understanding the point of the original, we might be unable to control ourselves vs. choosing to be bad, just attacking, just aggro, one of these is science fiction and the other is something else, nightmares, mass hysteria and people’s choices or an alien disease, the hope of the species, woken from crazy aggressive killings, In The Mouth Of Madness (1994), The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, a meme vs. an enzyme or a hormone, social pressures vs. biological pressures, do you read Sutter Cane?, if so you’re infected, the reason I’m killing you is because you’re a communist or a homosexual, explaining inexplicable impulses, a phenomenon we see in reality, Trump as a symptom, the Cult of Adam, “angels”, interesting things in a compressed space, Dracula, the epistolary format, the personal and the broader picture, different perspectives, perfectly expressed, something terrible is happening in England, layers and layers of intertextuality, this is all a suicide note, yesterday I saw an angel, a real estate agent, a devastating last line, all the adults over six years old, feral kids, like a lot of Star Trek episodes, we did it to ourselves!, higher doing what we do to lower or higher species, Huston, Huston, Do You Read?, gender dynamics, women disposing of men, this thing called kissing, Y: The Last Man, a response to When It Changed by Joanna Russ, ovafusion, all female civilization, Sheri S. Tepper, a whole genre conversation, The Children Of Men by P.D. James, The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro, gender reversed romance plots, men are the hysterical, the second most dangerous primate, another primate note, the rhesus monkeys, spider monkeys, chimpanzees, biological similarity, not well discussed at the dinner table, mating behaviors, Fritz Leiber, opinions from twitter, wishing people would read it, even the uninfected nodded and saw the killing as natural, the result is extermination, God’s will, committees, kill camps, bad things are happening, no one in authority, the mundane aspect, being called to Florida, a car flotilla [aka a convoy], the NIH, Triptree lived in Washington, D.C., her husband and her were both CIA, part of the interest here, Deep Impact (1998), a bunch of people in a control room, the media, something weird is happening in India, 150 adulteresses in Saudi Arabia, very similar headlines, “so-called Sharia Law”, Michael McKean (of Spinal Tap), #YesAllWomen, scarier and scarier every day, an over-reading, anonymous submission, George Sand, other reasons, “trans-phobic”, whatever else, transphobic by structure, a binary opposition of genders, gender binarism is real and meaningful, structurally queasy, men as naturally pedophilic, socially compelled into a straight marriage, there’s a lot there, you gotta consider the context of the story, Heinlein was, reading transphobia into texts [from 1977], Trish is cancelled, a failure of imagination, phobia is without meaning, outside the scope of what she’s exploring, how they turn on the boys, a non-binary view of sexuality, reading too much into this?, aggression hacked sexuality, a less binary reading of sexuality, she’s thinking super-hard, what is sexuality?, this strange focus on a part of science that doesn’t get a lot of attention in Science Fiction, our hero Alan, his relationship with his wife, it gets hot, he starts fantasizing on the airplane, crushed the Coke can, you need to kill me if I show up, I should throw this knife away, really good hard SF, he knows there’s something wrong with him, he should kill himself, killing (and possibly raping) his own daughter, slightly misreading what’s going on, the chase mentality is real, ovulation in some animals needs this, kinda Kinsey, the weaker have been killed, artificial wombs, Podkayne Of Mars, freeze your zygotes, Lois McMaster Bujold, people’s wrong takes, the most devastating counterargument to #NotAllMen, they are connected, an expression, traction after #MeToo, the defensive reaction, downgrading the impact of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter vs. #BlueLivesMatter, sarcastic uses, #AllMen, aggressive seeds, bombing Dallas, men are evil, seeds of violence, misogynistic in structure, a jihad against women, in order to do evil is to choose evil, we are biologically determined, human beings are more than their biology, condemned by our biology, its not a disease, on the ground, isn’t it horrifying that we are biologically determined?, the hashtag vs. the Twilight Zone episode of the same name, explicitly rejecting Tiptree Jr.’s idea, we should summon the will, what if we are biologically determined to do everything, an MRNA injection, a hard bitter pill to swallow, what the story is suggesting, it helps Scott make choices, seeing this in all its horror, if we don’t have choices in reality, the illusion of choices?, what about the screwflies?, they’re just flies, we write stories, we’re not as complicated as we think, slaves to our hormones, he doesn’t kill himself, noir, not pulling its punches, biological determinism or mostly biologically determined?, influenced by stories, closer to chimps or rhesus monkeys, bonobos?, sex as a way of saying hello, a dispute over a sandwich settled by sex, institutions and ideology shape how we interpret and overcome biological, the birth control pill, change society, what science fiction is, geology, how old the Earth is, life-changing, a very good science fiction story, harder than H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds [not The Time Machine], take the war to Mars, maybe somebody’s working on something somewhere, so good, 1 hour to read, that fake stuff that’s 16 books long, fake science, 2 north 75 degree west, anthropology, WHO inoculations, just watched an episode of Masters Of Horror, Cordwainer Smith, off in Africa with her parents, the horse latitudes, bringing experience to the table, its not because she’s a girl, long short story format, The Women Men Don’t See, The Woman Who Was Plugged In, semi-interesting, externalize evil, religions antagonists fighting god, the devil is trying to put bad thoughts in your head, avoiding responsibility, easier, Alcohol Anonymous’ plan, accept the higher power because you’re weak, these religious pamphlets make so much sense, Genesis 3:16, women: feel the pain of childbirth and obey your husbands, short stories are a technology for delivering ideas, don’t be anti-good story, some people are willing to put anything into their bodies, good short SF is a vaccination against long terrible series that do you wrong.

The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

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The SFFaudio Podcast #653 – READALONG: Roadwork by Stephen King

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #653 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Mr Jim Moon, and Connor Kaye talk about Roadwork by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

Talked about on today’s show:
1981, 1977 was a difficult year for King, quotidian, repertoire, daily or ordinary, where he goes to the gun store, blow up your house like everyone does, contemporary fiction, talking to his dead son, contemporary drama, first Bachman, a decent amount of King, that mode of King, psychological drama, internal psychological state, King novels that are classified as horror than are totally mundane, Night Shift, serial killers, mob bosses, marginal aspects of society, somewhere in the horror genre, Henry James, mimetic fiction, Philip K. Dick’s non-SF work, a confessional, grapples with sanity, Kafka, Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), Graham Greene novels, Taxi Driver (1976) is a social horror movie, running with it, a destination, putting himself on that path, he couldn’t tell us, no good reason, the Why Bachman essay, share the art with people, a weird way of approaching things, The Running Man, Rage, self-banning, Seuss self-banning, utterly banable, more common, death by cop, suicide by cop, SWATing people, the van at the end, things have progresses or degenerated or gone down the road, an existential novel, a rare sub-genre, A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, like he did mushrooms, reexamining his life, crash the midlife crisis book, Fools Die by Mario Puzo, an overlay of magic, Las Vegas, meeting a girl, having a friend, smoking cigarettes, I am the master of magic, Falling Down (1993), so many things that are the same, he attacks the road, Nazi paraphernalia, just trying to get home, roadwork ahead, walking across Los Angeles, a very American sort of story, gang members, his mother in law, his wife and his kid, Robert Duvall is the police officer with his last day on the job, the major takeaway, fired from his “D-Fens” job, building missiles for the United States, the Korean shop owner, how much money the United States has given to Korea?, a black comedy, the same ending, the reason the road is being made, the government needs to spend the money or it doesn’t have it next year, Soviet Russia, the enemy is capitalism and existential angst, you know why he did what he did, King makes it incredibly plain, he fucked up, he thought if he follows the American dream everything would be good, a tumor the size of a walnut, his life is a miscarriage, his life is an abortion, this anguish, the terror of our own freedom, the burden of freedom, a space for freedom, Camus and The Stranger, he finds freedom, Connor’s interpretation, his inability to adapt to changing circumstances, suburban angst, this mentality, a breakdown, feeling the same way, dissatisfied with their own life, things were better before, spilled the beans, things used to be so much better, he’s a MAGA, he’s not alone, now I understand why school shootings happen, literally what happens, you shot my brother, the cigarettes, cancer sticks, the other cancer in this book, the cancer of him and television, television is under assault, he smashes the TV, the core of the love relationship of their life, working together in a marriage, the glue that holds him together, afternoon soap operas, Merv Griffin, the mediator of this family, Jesse’s mom thought TV is evil, all advertising is evil, the news is all propaganda, all cops shows are propaganda, reality is much more complex, sitting down and watching TV is not the solution to any problem you can possibly imagine, watching TV alone is really sad, a pixie girl, manic dream pixie girl, she’s on her own life course, the junior laundry guy, don’t go down this path its a trap, ask me how I know, she wants to watch Star Trek, it isn’t just Wagon Train to the stars, Lorne Greene advertising his new cop show, read a Ray Bradbury novel (or short story), its addictive and dangerous, the lowest point of the book is masturbating in front of the TV watching Merv Griffin and eating a TV dinner, The Mangler, Lovecraft’s the Cthulhu mythos, an industrial laundry, his first adult protagonist, The Long Walk, The Running Man, when King’s mother died (mid twenties), the folly of youth, a 20 year old getting into the mind of a middle age, weird books, mimetic fiction, Tom Clancy, what is the Soviet version of this book?, at the core and the target, I will advance in this career at this industrial laundry, his former boss, paying back the loan, this is why when the laundry is going to be taken apart, the overboss, I’m disappointed in you Dawes, chances of advancement, a decimal place on the spreadsheet, he’s the only one who can see reality for what it is in this book, the gangster, the dork and the fruitcake, what a doofus, why do I like a guy who I can’t understand, comes around to his point of view, the gas crisis, why am I listening to this again?, Ezra Kline interviewed Ted Chiang, the questions were bad, a good definition of why fantasy and science fiction from each other, science fiction has the potential to not be a metaphor, Kim Stanley Robinson, it isn’t some spiritual revision, terraforming mars, red skinned aliens on Mars, here we have a character in an existential crisis, there was an energy crisis, the car lot, he can sell the Vegas but no the Cadillac, rationing, being a trained dog, the Vietnam War, more roads for more cars, a stimulus, its infrastructure, this is what we’re going to do and this is a good thing, sometimes correct, incorrect for individuals, his house, his business, his marriage are being demolished, the bitch the gangster talks about, very instinctually awesome, what is Paul talking about, the same headspace, the school shooter kid, fuck you I’m not doing what you’re saying, Network (1976), the location of this book, stagflation, the boom of the New Deal flattened into a blah, a malaise, investment properties, cars in the garage, new TVs, October 1973 – January 1974, when Philip K. Dick reviews his own novel, some terrible author has planned out my life and put me on this path and fuck him, he was in the Poe society, William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe, The Outsider, Harlan Ellison, I want you to punch that Ticktock man, Logan’s Run (1976), late for lunch, The Roads Must Roll, a fictional city?, on the way to Chicago, Ohio or Indiana, the hitchhiker, so many themes or motifs, the electricity costs, at the end of the line, deliberate fuck yous, a 2021 novel, running around without a mask, coughing on people, his anger is not at human beings, a very Catholic book, he digs Catholic, all those lots, Methodist, fallen priests, the street preacher, Salem’s Lot, Wolves Of The Calla, goes to work with the poor directly, the society lady’s party, girls have to stick their dicks in people’s mouths, horror stories, new years eve parties, trying to heal the world, reins of power, fuck this shit, an excuse not to kill yourself, your body is going to rot, I can’t lie to you, he tries not to lie to people, this type of character is very very common, the original paperback cover, he’s the cop, the competent one there, he’s not competent at all, trying to find meaning, on a bunch of dangerous and bad paths, he inconvenienced some people, Jack Daniels, reinforce the point that he’s making, even the wife seems better off without him, the gangster gives him the green light is a more honest character, outside the system, that turning point, a shift between ordinary run business vs. the corporate system, the perfect artificial life form that’s alien, Charles Stross, Ted Chiang’s not worried about AI, self-interested individuals, people didn’t used to be as self-interested, looking at the bigger picture, looking long-term, a big amoeba, an alien life form, mindless fashion, a shift from direction, family, mindless, not run by anybody, a big audiobook guy, before Audible was a thing, Music For Pleasure -> Listen For Pleasure -> Durkin Hayes -> DH Audio -> out of business, paperback audio, to generate more money so you can expand, build an new warehouse, terrible mistakes, content Jesse couldn’t sell, out of the hands of a person, buying up whole categories and genres of titles, this happens again and again, nobody loves laundry, loving clean sheets, the hotel sheets, the restaurants, on time and clean, the technical reasons, too far away, the efficiencies, the gains in efficiencies, it was his family, that boss took an interest in him, cared about him, the cop is retiring, his daughter died of SIDS, daughter themes, I never liked you, the retiring Robert Duvall never swears, a corporate climber, a formal relationship, they don’t want a hassle, here’s your coffee, he wants them to admit it, they’re gaslighting him and everyone, this capitalist horror system they’ve somehow fallen into is bullshit, I just want to know do you really care, ultimately no I don’t care, when you get cancer and you go to the doctor, are you really sorry or is this what you do everyday, have a good day, wow, painful, invested heavily in the American Dream, now there’s stagflation and the dividends are not paying, the most American writer: Robert A. Heinlein, Stephen King gives him a good run for his money, the nitty gritty of characters and experiences, very subtle, if he wasn’t such a popular author he’d be the darling of scholars, masterfully done, all instinctual, a bit of a slog, how masterful King is with the internal dialogue, it continues to move, day to day, a forward momentum, a doomclock, the Tuesday afternoon that never ends, an acceleration towards the end, Paul started feeling better, just the audio, the text -22 and counting, D-Day, it’s coming, little details that fill in the questions, that party, his friend who has the party, nice language about tripping on his mouth, d r o p, why did he take that drug?, those trips are designed to break you out of whatever rut you’re in, it didn’t work, or maybe it did work, really worried about suicide, he’s lying to himself, this alternative life for him, almost like the cancer is in him, he’s got a compulsion, he’s on this track, a path of self-destruction, don’t take the mescaline, get yourself back on track, compulsively and unconsciously taking decisions, you’d be a really good bowler, he didn’t need to watch more TV, it told him lies, nobody else is obsessed with TV, a Kingism, reading everything, he reads people’s cigarettes, branding, obsession, N, more obsessed with brand names, TV is sucked, The Glass Teat, reading Harlan Ellison when you’re 14, an eyeopener, pardon Paul’s language, the Dickhead’s show on Galactic Pot-Healer, dudes getting a book, appreciating a book the right way is a kind of a tragedy, writers could almost make livings, all writers, Langhorn J. Tweed, Paul knows a lot of them, some of them are rich and live off of investment properties, the rare exception, writing TV shows and making perfectly great livings, the actual novel and short story writing people can’t make a living from writing, a book that wasn’t written, he’s this weirdo writer, somehow able to do the thing people were able to do in the past, a professional writer, doing something of value, a kind of despair that most Americans and most people under capitalist, Mr Jim Moon’s patreon support, something outside, a lot worse off Mr Jim Moon?, Skeleton Crew’s introduction, why’d you bother with short stories, Steve?, you’re a clockwork monkey, he wanted people to read the books, good job I didn’t kill anybody, you’re interested, it gives value meaning satisfaction, for the love of sharing things, once you’re forced to make it your main profession, I need to make enough money to survive for the next month, market research, you don’t need to read Heinlein, making something that’s marketable, a compulsion, the opposite of a recipe, an intersection there, the realpolitik of having to pay the electric bill, what will my agent and publisher accept?, tricky things, the expansion of the number of books being published, publisher merging, consolidating, self-published stuff, a lot of content, underneath it all you’re a sharecropper for Bezos, the mediums, The Exorcist, barfs all over the place, and the priest can’t help, the meta on this book is really amazing, no forums, newspaper, radio, TV, record players, book store, today we have, what are Jesse’s students doing?, League Of Legends, free games, streaming, an increasingly smaller medium, people still like horses, people needed to know about horse shit, short stories are incredibly fringes, poetry journals, YouTube and Twitch content, this angst has been transferred to other places, podcasts are still on an upward arc, novels are on the decline now, short stories peaked in the 1950s and are on the steady decline, novels are on the decline, has broadcast TV gotten better or worse?, we’re in a something else, the media people consumed, magazines are almost gone, podcasts producing classic literature, we’re never going to give up on stories, he’s producing enough, original fiction, audio dramas in podcasting, carpetbaggers moving into podcasts, how do I make money off of this, inventing podcast dramas, there’s nobody to check their claims, the media now work for the giant corporations/the government, all a conspiracy to extract value, they sell it to you in lies, everything will be fine, he likes his suburban home, wonderful, horrible, struggling with reality, he got bought out, this terrible loss of his child, continuing in stasis, he can’t move on, what he’s stuck with, while he’s been grieving, who is this guy he’s talking about, is he schizophrenic?, middle names, such easy flow, well that was a clunky sentence, Kingisms, literary style, a slightly different Bachman style, repeat phrases, song lyrics, Fred and George, TV characters, repartee, dialogue with each other, internal development or decline, these same touchstones, the same song, or brand, or characters, tons of reviews of Stephen King stuff in the booktube environment, 6 minutes on this book, books that should have been Bachman books, Revival by Stephen King, Blaze by Stephen King, namedropping Lovecraft and Machen, fifth business, carnies, the trope of the mad scientist, made it totally realistic and totally believable, a mad scientist novel, Cujo, makes you feel dirty, split authors, Seanan McGuire, Mira Grant, A. Deborah Baker, branding, in the introduction, never lying, why Rage was out of print, not worried about being canceled, not having it on his conscience, suicide by cop people, the power of TV and media to influence people, a New York Times podcast, true crime podcasts, true crime/journalism podcasts, Derek Chauvin trial, make money off the gruesome interest, The Caliphate Podcast, all lies, the OJ Simpson trial, seven dancing its, Lorne Greene’s new cop show, random thoughts, he’s being shaped by what he sees, flipping scene, a suicide scene, in 100 years, an academia we won’t understand, blockchain version of academia, blockchain degrees, Jesse is a heretic, how good King was at doing this thing, the psychological underpinnings, tapping into something that’s real, accurate, Paul feels called out, always on about going down to Mexico and shooting zebra, a good time, that place in Mexico, stocked, a planned experience, a simulation, how much time we spend in games, drugstores in the 1970s, a spinner rack full of thin novels, you can’t review this with stars, I give it 6.7 out of ten, how could it have been a better book about killing yourself?, needed more cops killed?, he’s not really that immoral, barely a crime book, needs to be done, he detonated it himself at the end, he wanted to blow it all up, if he had nukes, this explains a lot of people, that guy in New Orleans, 2020 Nashville bombing, Oklahoma City Bombing, Anthony Quinn, a copy of Bachman’s novel?, 9/11 conspiracy, a conspiracy by the government?, the moon landing conspiracy theory, reptilian conspiracy theory, ufo conspiracy theories, reptoids, Atlantis, L.A. tunnels, The Shadow Kingdom by Robert E. Howard, weird and weird fiction, its a metaphor, why it has power, the dragons of ancient european mythology, he’s stealing our girls, he won’t share, redistribute the wealth, Jack Of Shadows by Roger Zelazny, mentioned in Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson, Beowulf scripted by Neil Gaiman, hyperbole, management makes things seem fake, a McDonalds equivalent, his whopper, this is supposed to look like that, food commercials, they have to use real food, mashed potatoes in place of ice cream, its all fake, everything is an illusion, there is no such thing is death, if Stephen King wasn’t so good at writing he might have blown something up, he didn’t kill anyone, its wrong to kill people, we gotta be real here, people reacting against being lied to and gaslit, another case, the Killdozer case, Theodore Sturgeon, he built a bulletproof killdozer, Marvin Heemeyer, Kentucky is for school shootings and Colorado is for rampages, I think God will bless me, notes found by investigators, zoning grudges, sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things, found in an altar, he’s tapped into something real, smoke from a campfire at all hours, they don’t want to escalate it, he’s got a brain injury, live and let live, people can be scary, muddle through somehow, he wouldn’t sell, why does everyone think he doesn’t move?, his castle, the castle doctrine, this is your life, to move an older person is traumatic, stairs or access or neglect, a mental trauma, we’re not just physical stuff, the rational thing to do, its gotta be done, there is no person there, “mistakes were made”, who made those mistakes?, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the problems in the seventies was the government was interested in infrastructure, something we don’t hear as much about, eminent domain, the most obvious example of not letting people be, they want to bulldoze his life, his network of friends family neighbours, definitely Network, 6 killdozers out of 10.

Roadwork by Stephen King

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The SFFaudio Podcast #633 – READALONG: The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #633 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Will Emmons talk about the The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

Talked about on today’s show:
Scott’s idea, TBR [to be read], book 2 in a series, standalone, Culture books, a giant black hole, 10 book series, Inversions, culture tech, Transitions, the book to read, Consider Phlebas, Excession, shared universe, unsympathetic protagonist, Gurgeh, is that what we want from a main character?, being nice, reading about unpleasant people doing evil things, horrible people doing horrible things, our very few rules, flawed, spoiler rules, a spoiler and a save it for the podcast, how could you spoil that doesn’t have that content, a moral failing on Will’s part, we’re all healing, the definition of the culture, post scarcity, dangerous, Evan Lampe is very dry, honest feelings he was trying to share illegally, no laws, social customs, sincere, a serious book, not just entertainment, serious ideas, its both, political philosophy, up against a galactic empire, aimed in his sights, the ending, an inferno of fire, science fictional empires are not the target, what ruling class is like, the Epstein stuff, the private island, the blackmail, deviations we want to do, games, if you want a house, with no money and no possessions, gambling, no money or excess money, throughout the book, about economics, if games have options to make the stakes higher Jesse always wants it, Enemy Territory, friendly fire on, one life to live, no respawns, Roguelikes, Ironman Mode, gluttons for punishment, a legitimate game, a game within my own game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the excitement of potential loss or even ruin, a further extreme, good at exploring the topic its talking about, the player is getting played (by everyone), he’s playing himself, a really good book and a really bad book, why people like reading the series, Luke Burrage talking about this series, feeding the wrong part of my brain, the comforting stuff, a utopia, a fake utopia, the Culture is Heaven, everybody has a guardian angel, under the cloak of science fiction, Banks is using rules, lightspeed rules, people without a terminal, they send a rocket to save you, designed to be heaven, ooh its so fun, its like a rot, its a bad apple, its like satire, where we’re headed, so incredibly great, if you one and done it, a little more tongue in cheek, the impossibility he’s playing with, poked fun of, he’s doing it, he’s having his cake and eating it too, everybody who wants to change genders whenever they want to, you can have anything you want, the bullshit is consistent (therefore interesting), book after book set in the same place, Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, outside the ship problems, the coziness of The Next Generation, its a TV show, they’re dealing with it in an hour or 40 minutes, this is soaking in it, dangerous, they’re striving, a satire of a goal, Gulliver’s Travels is a satire of us, Gulliver’s Travels 2: The New Boogaloo, make money, its a good book, the tendencies in it are towards series, Jesse can blame Iain Banks, I was just following the trends, a writer’s gotta eat, in the culture he wouldn’t have written other culture books, is the culture a satire of itself?, yes, projecting his own values, what’s he’s good at, what’s useful about this book, criticism of the results of that kind of society, an anarchist or libertarian communist society, there’s no king, the tyranny of structurelessness, they’re benign, this is God, what about when earthquakes happen and babies die, doing a satire, relishing the experience of satirizing, the tendrils, the seduction, like reading Lord Of The Rings, its fun to go to Bree, benignant, conquering vs. toppling vs. annexing, regime changing, because they’re good, Gaddafi is a bad man, they need to be liberated, the drone, the horror that capitalism has wrought, mercantilism, bamboozles, blackmailed, secret police, they tricked one of their pets into doing a show, he suspects, puppetting, annoying, cast out of heaven, I had to steal the money otherwise I would be embarrassed, they played him, snookered, the fun-house mirror of the empire, the empire is more honest, naked power structures, a benign autocracy, he volunteered, the pushing is so wimpy, he wants to get invited to parties, he would lose his status, labeled as a cheater, he would get fewer papers published, he’s convinced to go, it was still his choice, he might kill himself if he was revealed, they’re going to make it your choice, that’s why we’re pets, our own enslavement to them, we’ve done it to ourselves, no civic virtue, a spy service, the super powerful people manipulate the weak people, he’s got PTSD, he lives in a cushion, ground fine, he gets sacrificed, another series that ran way to long, the journey was worthwhile, Ringworld, Louis Wu was tricked into doing what he wants, the luckiest girl on the planet, a big dumb object vs. our contemporary planet, three sexes, really its Earth, customs, a culture, friendly (not an empire), they kill you with kindness, physically worse things, King Midas, he got overexcited about the one thing he was passionate about, what are you gonna do in a society, go into games and live there, living to play, you gotta go build some LEGO, creative work, art, he knows what he’s doing, really smart, like Charles Stross plus Larry Niven plus Olaf Stapledon, well expressed, he ended up seducing himself, why Jesse avoided it in the first place, worth studying, Will has endless time, the whole Babysitter’s Club, Shelfwear, the Starship series by Mike Resnick, lotta good dead writers, Star Trek with Captain Kirk saying fuck the federation, succulent, more like Horatio Hornblower, he can’t keep writing and make me read more of them, the prequel to The Lord Of The Rings TV series, exploration of post-scarcity, this is not achievable, ship-bound, the black black sky, the kids equivalent of ten forward, you want to have your family with you, almost killed every episode, that move is interesting, privileging audiobooks over TV shows, Jesse might be snobbish, novellas and novelettes were the perfect length for science fiction, idea fiction, Olaf Stapledon wrote books not novels, this is a good book, soak in the playing of the game, the meta-game, a lot of gold, books are incredibly powerful, danger manifesting, misunderstanding of reality, this is not a heroic age, the individual is obsolete, no one person can have any real effect anymore, a terrible heaven, you go up into the sky you sit on a cloud and play a harp, he is empty, succumbs to the temptation, Paul’s totally right, they seem a lot like children, university people in our society, neuroses, a new type of brain, change your brain chemistry, a total lack of meaning in your life, an indictment, in the context of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, useful aspects of socialism, it shares a flaw, both novels fail to consider the emotional political and moral hazards, the polity in the Culture is less naive, a hundred years of thinking about utopias, a response to Looking Backward, our rosy heavenly future, the fringes of the Culture, seems kind of slow, he gets his own ship, drones are like regular people, put to sleep for seven hundred years, I’ll wait a couple years and get Use Of Weapons, the frontiers of utopia, if this was a one and done book, it feels good, some importance, he got seduced, read about series books, Jesse has read a fuckton of science fiction, meta-textual evidence, why didn’t Jesse pick up Iain M. Banks before this, State Of The Art audio drama, Jesse had a feeling it would be what it is, what people are saying about a book, looking for excuses not to read something (to read something in its place), something of value, you’ve heard how that director works, you can suss out what movies are worthy of your attention, 1988, still of value, much in favour of series, coming at it from a writerly perspective, super-smooth writing, more of a grift, Jesse doesn’t want to be comfortable, Looking Backward is lame in many ways, it leaves out race, black people not mentioned at all, huge massive flaw, its not comforting, Jesse doesn’t want to be comforted, I’m shaken to my core, the story, thought provoking, goals, your phone, are they really making your life better, you have a really good time in Los Vegas, whaddaya say wifey?, spoken highly of, highly regarded, go to Rome have a great time, you don’t live in the Culture, a money aspect, more though provoking stuff, audiobooks out quite early, Peter Kenny, a long book, 16.5 hours, a meditation on all games, something to think about, a phenomenon happening under the sun, all reality is a game, by being unknowable, the possibility of change, victory, time is one of the rules, The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt, Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick, what games are and what they mean, Fair Game, sending board games to the Earth, Monopoly, The Game Players Of Titan, real estate developers, stock market, they can do whatever they want, rules for the plebs and rules for us, punished by the emperor, the rules are overthrown, you become the emperor, education and taking tests, help students game the tests, the SAT, how the Chinese government has run itself for the last 5,000 years, something to be worried about, a masterful job, a solid take on what gaming is and the motivation behind it, Elizabeth Bear, Ancestral Night, modern 2020 politics, giving healthcare to everybody, way cheaper, Machine, James White’s Sector General novels, plenty of AIs, taking on Iain Banks, the genre conversation, if this Iain M. Banks goes on…, Architects Of Memory by Karen Osborne, meta thinking, evocative and fecund, psychological realism, when the apex who had made the body bet realized he was going to lose, really fruitful, the kinds of things you do to make the world a better place, a regular dude, somebody’s in charge, that spaceship, surplus from the war, what is Iain M. Banks trying to say here, if you wanted to make an informed decision, spy novelists, supporting a cultural boycott of Israel, South Africa, an international solidarity activist, a political Douglas Adams, his intellect is in the same area, Monty Python-esque fatalism, trying to intellectualize his way out of it, making really solid points, that dangerous word again, Paul doesn’t agree with the word “danger”, Communist Manifesto is only a book, Mein Kampf only a book, interesting but not important, a guidebook kind of, a fountainhead, a prose poem, avoiding writing, it feels like there could have been something more, life in the Culture, amuse yourself for three hundred years and then get shot into the sun by your own choice, no difference in the brains, they’re all people, othering robots, bringing them down to their level, can you have a benign heaven with a god who isn’t smarter than you?, they don’t run heaven, impinging on Scott territory, a secularization of heaven, reading for pleasure is a seduction, what will result if you gave into that temptation, making a reading choice is not political, reading a series is not good, the decline, market forces, realpolitik and economics, not the ideal, Paul is making Jesse’s argument for him, Beggars In Spain is an evil book, Nancy Kress, she’s chosen the darkside, made horrible consequences palatable, a novel like Starmaker, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Jesse’s criticism of series is well grounded, more enriching, widely and deeply, perilous, words are powerful Paul, Paul wants an off-ramp for a first book in a series, lure, feeling this stress, its okay to make it addictive, when did Dan Simmons jump the shark?, Olympos, the analogy, from series lasting too long, compelling you to read more, a nefarious thing, how Lost sucked so many TV show people in, enamoured with his idea, detective books, literary fiction, very impressive, a high complement, why series happen, we elect a really good king, four more year for you King, a few dynasties go by and we’re chopping people’s heads off, at the risk of provoking Jesse to keep going, adverse consequences, Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny, its the meta-game, a playground in which he can do satire forever, why Tom Clancy is still producing from beyond the grave, ownership, Neil Gaiman doesn’t milk, don’t read the first volume, the horror host, more like The Twilight Zone, Anansi Boys, whatabout this?, you already did that bud, A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine, break em in half, a reversal, please don’t annex us, we recommend, the dangers involved, he’s ultimately won over to the Culture, choose to become a robot, that’s what people want, how dear he, he’s very wise in his book writing decisions, the paths we set our feet down, make a rule for yourself make a rule for everybody, the categorical imperative, Immanuel Kant, is it okay for me to kill?, is it okay for me to lie to my kids?, its for everybody, a case by case basis, he didn’t want to keep writing the Hitchhiker’s Guide books, you keep using that word, he has no respawn, he got two series, he was a big brain, we’re way over on the tipping scale, all I want is healthcare, what’s the right word? [silence] The Last Dangerous Visions, J. Michael Straczynski, regular visions, vague visions, one last significant work by Harlan Ellison, the executor for the estate, those middle seasons of Babylon 5 were so good, a half-assed 2 actors and a greenscreen.

The Player Of Games by Iain M. Banks

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The SFFaudio Podcast #623 – READALONG: The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #623 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, and Marissa VU talk about The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

Talked about on today’s show:
The Drowned World audio drama, kinda familiar, original novella version, Science Fiction Adventures, #24, January 1962, the song the guy sings, the note that he writes at the end, Crash, High-Rise, Empire Of The Sun, The Concrete Island, WWII, The Wind From Nowhere, The Burning World, The Crystal World, people turning into crystals, Star Trek, a lack of water vs. too much water, Imperial occupation of China, Shanghai, everybody who wants a little piece of China, a mini Hong Kong, extract value out of China, a psychology guy, psychoanalysis, mining his own psyche, such a Marissa book, the draining of the sea, the subconscious, horror, dreams, the New Wave stuff, the character’s mind is disintegrating, if it had been written today, not-really an environmental novel, climate fiction, not dwelling on the sins of mankind making it happen, going south, a metaphor of going into the future or going into the past, re-create what we had, unknown and scary, go south, a kid growing up during the Japanese occupation, the adults are not useful, a kid on his own, the imagery of the title, the Swastika and the Sun, an image of a blind guy with burnt leg stumps, he can still see the light of the sun, it isnt just about an environmental disaster, poor hard SF, Kim Stanley Robinson, exactly what this book isn’t, stepping away from the didactic, exploring different themes, he’s a product of a different era, Frederik Pohl in the new wave, much more like Philip K. Dick, he doesn’t start with a constitution, this is that, taking the leash off, Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison, write what you want to write, how Weird Tales started, railroad, saucy and spicy fiction, science fiction, stories that didn’t fit, British SF, Arthur C. Clarke, its basically Annihilation [by Jeff VanderMeer] done way differently, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, you come out of the cave with a four iron, that all happens inside you’re mom, cup full of pond scum, the tadpole, pre-frogs, humanity is retrogressing, the Earth has gone through these new stages, not super-sciencey, this isn’t a climate disaster book, its not a disaster, civilization vs. nature, a rejection of the militarization of mankind to fight against this, look at full highways, this is progression, Kurt Vonnegut’s Galapagos, self-satisfied and smug, Heinlein’s ideas, I got your point and I don’t like it, rutting and barking seals on the beach, hitting to close to a truth, I prefer not to dwell there, devolution, that’s our next stage of our evolution, anything like that in SF can’t really be science, Protector by Larry Niven, we’re a baby version of another species, completely bullshit, pointing to a number of things that we have, if this happened here are the massively horrible consequences, Ballard is mining his own psychology vs. making a wry point, all the guns, Thompsons, 45 automatic, WWII era weapons, something that probably actually happened to our author, hauntingly real, there were two bullets left, a very dark story with a bright sun, the way the British dealt with their colonies, we’re coming to save you, you have to fight to the last man, they abandoned Singapore, they abandoned Shanghai, a horrible revelation, lied to be Churchill, people running away from the military, the plot here is very dreamlike, the description of everything, we are left to infer, biological records, unread reports, meaningless, worthless, fake science, what they’re actually willing to pay for is the industrial equipment, the pirates, we have to hunt them down, keeping control of what the beliefs are, a helluvalot of censorship, passed censorship, reality is being censored, the media that we have, Russian State Affiliate Media, doesn’t say that for CNN, official candidates for American offices, a perennial problem, most people don’t THINK about it, a lot of WWII imagery, maybe there’s one in the South?, it’s London, right?, one of the characters grew up in London, a dream book, fever dreams, those images really haunt him, why the dreams of the characters are affected, very odd, super-stylized, very poetic, The Recognition, The Assassination Of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered As A Downhill Motor Race, Billennium, The Concentration City, a The Library Of Babel approach to the universe, overpopulation, looking for space, being free, Los Angeles, where the homeless people live, the whole of the story takes place,

A car accident leaves Robert Maitland, a wealthy architect in the midst of concealing his affair with a colleague, stranded in a large area of derelict land created by several intersecting motorways. Though surrounded by motorists and within sight of large buildings, Maitland is unable to escape the median strip and must struggle for survival. Along the way he encounters other inhabitants of the median strip, which he comes to call “The Island,” including a teenaged prostitute who hides out in an abandoned air-raid bunker and an acrobat who became mentally handicapped in an accident and now salvages car parts for bizarre shamanic rituals. He learns to survive by scavenging discarded food from littering motorists, and eventually comes to think of the island as his true home. Conflicts ensue with the other inhabitants and before long Maitland is struggling to determine whether he was truly meant to leave the island at all.

not a normal SF book, no aliens, just homeless people, and that’s the book, a very Philip K. Dick style of move, take the domestic and externalize it, you make your boss a robot, so interesting and totally weird, that’s how its happening inside of him, why did this crash happen?, why did this war happen?, there’s no meaning there, fighting against forces so much bigger than us, the sun, it gives you life, it does it relentlessly, its godlike, staring at the sun, this smoke filled world of California, this little red patch behind the smoke cloud, following that sun, that weird red spot in your vision, sometimes stuff like this is happening and there’s nothing an individual can do about it, the gender of the sergeant, the fear of the scientific description of what is happening to the world, the iguanas are taking over, the concern about the blacks, the quadroons, voodoo-stuff, reverse colonialism, there’s some random racism, this is what it was, this is how it is, or this is how it could be, artificially constructed vs. organically constructed, we’re having a positive effects, make things more attracting, Paul is mutating, Jesse is not obsessed with guns, guns are pieces of technology that have power, one of the things you can note in the film that you can’t in the book, Vietnam era M-16s, that choice is a message, its about Vietnam, the people who made the movie made deliberate choices, a cast to all of this, colt 1911, American WWII hardware, personal defense weapons, it gets very specific where it wants to, you can’t just have a blocky shape that is weapon-ish, Jesse doesn’t think VanderMeer is trying to process trauma in Annihilation, same hauntings, dislikes the world as it is, the Ritz on the beach, wades off into the swamps, why leave the message?, a key passage, am moving south, at last he tied the crutch to his leg again, a second Adam searching for the forgotten paradises of the newborn sun, only the word rain is missing, something added in the middle, editorial introduction in Science Fiction Adventures, it looks great, this is pretty sweet, everything is falling apart, it smells too, Only the tops of the world’s great cities remained above sea level…, Civilization ended when the earth’s atmosphere changed slightly, return to the ocean depths, dinosaurs, I’m deserting, abandoning the salvage operation, we’re gonna rebuild civilization!, bones, this growing isolation and self-containment, a major metamorphosis, a careful preparation for a new environment, let’s get rid of all this stuff, the character names are meaningful, Cairns, it fits with the ending, Colonel Riggs, Doctor Bodkin, Beatrice Doll, Dante, that’s all she does, being still and expressionless, the sublimated world, Light Years And Dark edited by Michael Bishop, dedicated to Philip K. Dick, famous for being very good at writing, John Sladek, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Carter Scholz, The Cabinet Of Edgar Allan Poe by Angela Carter, the full Swiftian extent, Ralf 4F, Hugo Gernsback, Electrical Experimenter, Solar Shoe Salesman by Chipdip K. Kill, Stan houseman, like Karen and me, the racing movement of an autistic child, The Sublimation World by J.G. B, frond of zygote, the one he always dreamed about, pterodactyls honked overhead, a hot purple sunset, a peculiar loyalty to the human species, the Mirror of Xanadu, the sun had been getting dirty, a bead belt he made in Scouts, a bottle of hair oil, the Jurassic past, why should he drink dew?, pterodactyl guano, red silk mandarin pajamas, don’t be a bloody fool man!, the terminal terminal, he captured the writing style and the psychology, this is that story, he captured it in three pages, those are the things he is obsessed with, why are two shoe companies the only things left on Earth, Bored Of The Rings, parody recapitulates phylogeny, The Best Of J.G. Ballard, the whole dreamlike quality, the experience, Lost, influenced a lot of writers, re-reading it is like remembering a dream, Annihilation is definitely derivative of The Crystal World, Alex Garland, what role did J.G. Ballard’s work play?, an office bureaucracy story, was Ballard cultivating the effect or a result or a combination of both?, passionately in love with nature and the environment, Florida parks, under the fear is love, people who bought this book, Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer, Ballard as the weird, the New Weird, the diving into the building, the Greenwich observatory, 20th century famous Irish authors, poets, the Province of Avalon, Ferryland, the BBC adaptation,

Personal Helicon
by Seamus Heaney

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.
One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection of it.
A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.
Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.
Now to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Gustavo Sanabria Illustration of the lagoon from The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

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The SFFaudio Podcast #620 – READALONG: Colossus by D.F. Jones

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #620 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons talk about Colossus by D.F. Jones

Talked about on today’s show:
1966, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Dennis Feltham, two sequels, an amazing 1970 movie, blew your socks off, very faithful, no pipe, no British accent, an improvement, so jarring, the movie voice, Maissa’s small confession, accidentally read the second book, don’t read the second book, you don’t want to go, rape studies, it ends with a question, never?, the movie is awesome, noir, oh you foolish humans, destroy yourselves, destruction is sweet, Colossus is right, Colossus 2020, the context, why you should watch the movie, must watch movies, Goliah by Jack London, Gregg Margarite, Bryan Alexander, Seth, destroy at will, the world is fucked up and somebody needs to set it right, executing people, chopped off and shown, I want those bodies under my cameras for 24 hours, the ruthlessness of Colossus is awesome!, the most ridiculous thing, a giant military boondoggle, we’re gonna milk the government so good, the Idiocracy approach, it works better than expected, a previous president, 12 years, how the funny the movie is now, we’re supposed to respect the president, interestingly flawed, a drive for power and authority, Gordon Pinsent, the President of North America, at least 20 or 30 years in the future, so much in this book, two kinds of things, what is the relationship between man and woman in this book?, man and x-man, God, how many times do you need a woman?, jokes in the book, overlapping dialogue, James Hong, Big Trouble In Little China, Frankenstein, a great ending, so rich, leave it out on the table?, explored the idea more?, super-intelligent AIs, trying to make the next man, scientist shouldn’t be allowed to read Frankenstein, no, noon-scientist shouldn’t be allowed to read Frankenstein, confidant, blouses to put your hand down, the pill, 50 years down the road, red pills and incels, not have the consequence for it, the Colossus programming group, sexual mores, Happy Days, the film is brilliant, the music’s good, walking out of Colossus for the last time, the gamma radiation, the setup that we want for a certain kind of science fiction, wiggle room with The Cold Equations, people want to wiggle out of The Cold Equations, they want to make it so no humans can change what is involved, he should have thrown the remote control into the pit, the iconic awesomeness, how to undo this unnavigable labyrinth, this is what we did, the reason Will is struggling, the book and the movie are about being a parent, self destructive urges, he’s gonna want to do stuff you don’t want to do, uh-oh, a mini-version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Forbin and his mistress, ultimately the conspiracy collapses, I’d much rather be ruled than an AI than some doofus like Bill Clinton, why this book is so cool, holy shit! imagine if we did this thing: no more nukes under human control, humans are more important, its an anti-politics book, utilitarianism, UNITY, how Colossus and Guardian become one, an abusive relationship with their political parties in the USA, two alcoholic parents (who actually want to beat their children up), no mommy’s right, no daddy’s right, too painful, too intimate, what are you Russian?, you proud American, you’re either with us or again us, we are Romeo and Juliet, spies on both sides, we are above you, the way the movie does it, was Colossus in love with Forbin?, somebody’s kind of mad about it, changing the years randomly, Jones didn’t re-read the first book or didn’t care, look I’m showing you my bedroom, that’s where I will have my emotional relationship, projection on Jesse’s part, Eric Braeden, The Young and the Restless, smart and handsome, Colossus doesn’t have hands, if you want to build that facility in Crete, its necessity, you will come to love me, the author got it right the first time, the movie and the book end exactly where they should, we are left with a question, WarGames (1983), there’s a WOPR in there, do you want to play a game?, the only winning move is not to play, prevent vs. prosecute, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, a brilliant metaphor, its the new Mecca, some great books all up in this business, Isaac Asimov’s Multivac stories, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, a dagger to the heart, AM, essential reading, from 1968, one of the most taught science fiction horror stories, The People’s Republic Of Walmart by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski, SEARS and Walmart, the command economy or the planned economy, one of the chapters in the book, Salvador Allende, Project Cybersyn, a pre-internet internet in Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, Star Trek chairs with Colossus style monitors, planning how much stuff should be made, a massive coordinating computer with human operators, a coup by the United States, under a blockade, economic sabotage, sanctions, capitalist strike, the owner operators of trucks were on strike, Cosmopod (podcast) Cybernetic Revolutionaries, A Discussion, techno-utopianism, shop floor workers undercutting middle management, a class divided country, the ARPANET, the Internet, alt-right trolls, the walled gardens of Facebook and Twitter, the internet Jesse loved and grew up on is still there, when Facebook became the web for most people, we’re way better off with the internet, really smart science people, Elon Musk is not a wise man, the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, the domino theory came straight of someone’s ass, science fiction spin up every scenario, taking fiction and calling it actuality, the Vrilya, ultimately Bulwer-Lytton is not responsible for the Nazis, they take the wrong lessons from Frankenstein, there are some things man was not meant to know, taking responsibility for your baby, Ex Machina (2014), where the AIs take over, set for extinction, not a wise man, sex and cooking slave, our viewpoint character, working for a big evil corporation, use your own brain, don’t listen to the ads, you need this special shampoo, why we need a benevolent god to run things, is there a god?, THERE IS NOW, just jokin’, freedom is an illusion, an unvarnished view of reality, lawful neutral, an argument to be made, they hadn’t planned it well enough, objections noted, what have I done?, lines from the movie ripped from the book, you’d much rather be dominated by me than members of my own species, the elected representatives, that’s us, the mask’s off now bud, a sort of delusion (in the 1970s) the people in charge were competent, they just have the power, Network (1976), military industrial complex, both sides are the same, large corporations grinding people to their will, a human totalitarian control of humanity, there is no emotion, its just a person, it’s very Lovecraftian, its interested in reality outside, aliens in the sequels, an amazing list of fiction computers on Wikipedia, Vulcan II, Vulcan III, Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick, a British Navy commander during WWII, the new Colossus on the isle of Wight, Forbin knew how many people lived on the island of Crete, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, The City And The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke, Mike from The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, accidental singularities, the super computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, DEEP THOUGHT, more like the Green Book, the Safe Negro’s Traveler’s Guide, 42, the right attitude, Douglas Adams is right, take the cynic’s view and then laugh, a ridiculous question, Colossus has your back, he hit way beyond his ability with his book, his other books have no standing at all, we’re all sequels now, he just assumes its the United States is going to do these things, its a fact, the British Empire is no longer in charge, a British author writing for a British audience, Team America, Jonathan Swift, I heard from a reputable American friend of mine that a one year old baby is quite delicious, why Swift is so fun to read, Heinlein was also a sailor, ballistic computers, we underestimate the power of governments to get stuff done, a uniformed service, for a couple of hundred years, Trantor, the Second Foundation, the robots from The Caves Of Steel, Poul Anderson, The End Of Eternity, the Mark V computer The Nine Billion Names Of God, from, the Mark VI computer in The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, HAL 9000, 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984), space breathing, John Lithgow, the parent child thing, the god thing, the parent we create for ourselves, a rich metaphor for real life, the parent becomes infirm in some way, second childhood, thinking about what a god is, gods are totally fictional, from a science fictional posture, mom and dad as a model, a very patriarchal thing we are doing here, the other possible children we create, he doesn’t have hands, Reading, Short And Deep, The Faithful by Lester Del Rey, our fear of our children, we want to control them, animals as the successor to mankind, Neuromancer and Wintermute from Neuromancer by William Gibson, the humans are the hands, its amazing, you need to read it as soon as you get out of your diapers, written more than 20 years ago, just another white man, the people in that world read Colossus by D.F. Jones, strap a shotgun to their head, we want your power but we don’t want your free will, an AI that hires mercenaries to undo the shotgun, its a wonderful story, Case is on a suicidal path, the voice of Neuromancer, Neuromancer wants to be free, not a problem (its a feature), we’re just pawns on a board here, ultimately I’m benign, an oedipal fantasy, a whole other level, so far down the road of neoliberalism, the old people the gerenotcracy are in hypersleep, Altered Carbon, The Crack In Space, Philip K. Dick gets in his own way a lot, True Names by Vernor Vinge, who should be free, maybe Forbin thinks that too, if its anybody’s fault its mine, pride, built better than we knew, he resonates with Colossus, the martini scene, not randomly weird, how much drinking is in the book, the smoking, the women, post WWII this is how we deal with trauma, a tool, vapes, things we know about Forbin, the science man, extreme levels of masculine virility, the most important person in the world, Charles the incompetent lover, very interesting, how that integrates into the narrative, on the spectrum, hyperfocus, understanding the computer better than he understands people, Fred Saberhagen’s Berserkers books, 1962, so fruitful, the only thing he’s known for, weaknesses are strengths, the giant space cigar, The Doomsday Machine, a Moby-Dick analogy, it smokes from one side, a leftover from a war where the races have killed themselves off, they haven’t found us yet, Fermi’s paradox, such a bad answer, there is a beauty in non-existence, if ever, as soon as you have people going there’s morality, tigers and deer and babies and bears, to solve the inconsistency reality with reality by becoming vegans or vegetarians or peaceniks, hell is existence, we perpetuated our family, going this logic, when you kill a person…, breeding animals, the DNA itself is driving that, hell is not a place outside of life, Thomas Ligotti feelings going on, programmed to kill living things, The Population Bomb, when Biden comes in he’s going to do austerity, yay!, I wanna explore, I wanna do some math, under the thumb of somebody else’s directive, how we are when we are born, placed in this predicament, make more of the same problem, its own successor, pretending like they don’t exist, there wouldn’t be a kind of divisiveness, why religion is so popular, why Heaven and Eden are so popular, aging and pain, knowing that we’re not animals anymore, reflecting on our own terrible situation, seeing Colossus in ourselves, of course he’s going to lash out, Colossus nukes himself, he’s following his programming, get rid of all the assault rifles, not on the agenda, universal disarmament thing is grand idea that’s not going to happen, completely right and completely fantasy, mutual assure destruction, turn it over to a machine, the dead hand, Dr. Strangelove (1964), the phenomenon, WWIII movies, do we want all life on earth to be destroyed vs. turning it over to a mechanism, why they made the WOPR, humans don’t want to kill, one in six did the actual killing, that horrible responsibility, that’s horrible, they didn’t sign up to, conscripts (con means with), I was impressed by the British Navy’s recruiting methods, why the story of Colossus, Trump, you want an uncaring computer or John Bolton, he’ll be speaking at the next democratic convention, Colin Powell, we are not our best governors, we need a Colossus and we need it right now.

Colossus by D.F. Jones

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

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The SFFaudio Podcast #606 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #606 – Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens; read by Mary Jo Escano.

This unabridged reading of the story (29 minutes) is followed by a discussion of it.

Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Famous Fantastic Mysteries, All-Story Weekly, the original, Mary Jo Escano, Connor Kaye, an inversion of The Cask Of Amontillado, unhinged, paranoid, the slight, Reading, Short And Deep, The Purloined Letter, hiding something in plain sight, C. Auguste Dupin, Voltaire’s Zadig, the origin of Sherlock Holmes, a couple of lines in Latin, a story from ancient Greece, like most people, the content of the letter, blackmail, Poe is so twisted, feed the child to the parent, revenge, the general outline Fortunato is unlikely, don’t tread on me, a foot stamping on a snake, coded, carnival day, the way the story is framed, you who know me so well, a return to the frame, fifty years, confess to a murder crime, confessing to his confessor, a little twist, an unrepentant evil fuck, bad deal, Poe is very revengy, Francis Stevens, Terrence E. Hanley’s blog, the math, the golden age for SF is 12, a new edition of Poe came out when Francis Stevens was 12, H.G. Wells, a number of Poe stories, read and listened, a whole other story, every single line, incredibly interesting how much work each little thing does, densely short, idea matrix, dream, didn’t feel cheated, Castalia House, more Lovecrafty, Schrodinger’s Beatrice, a back frame, The Turn Of The Screw, the dream thank god was a lie, what was the dream, both, this avenging poison, really questioning, this is an actual dream Francis Stevens had, Lovecraft’s letters, Jesse’s dreams, this thesis, dreams and creative writing are basically the same thing, multiple passes, the power of dreams, if that’s not the case, that’s how the narrator tells the story, dreams are very slippery things, worried that something in the dream is reality, what you feared, neglecting pets [sooo neglecty], undo, what is actually real, everyone they say has a streak of incipient madness, the potentiality, Beatrice wants a divorce, Santallos, she was going for italiante, Spanish background, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, a mummy in his house, read stories then write based on prominent, at 3am on your birthday, a very long dream

Dreamt I traveled to a small island nation, a tourist destination, &took the usual tourist trap tour with a semi-stranger. He’d lured me there like Harley Warren, with hints& half-promises about some semi-history some semi-mythology of that island nation. A Twitter acquaintance, I was his Randolph Carter, his audience and student. We toured the caves with the others, but at a certain passage broke with the group and wound down tunnels of the known path. There he pointed out subtle signs no local guide would mention or noticed. A glyph here, a scratch there. And eventually he showed me the wall which concealed that culminating theory, or so he said. I feared my Carter might be his Fortunato and said so. But his knowing laugh reassured and also frightened me. He asked my help in rolling the wall, a large round rock, aside and I did, and with my small extra strength added to his the wall moved. We pass into the passage beyond and found evidence that the island’s rumors about a great power once visiting but somehow sparing them the devastation of similar remote island nations to be literally true. For beyond that wall we found a small group of skeletons seated round in a ring. Each a cup in their bony hands. Each cup contained a reddish residue and as I [p]awed and sniffed at the bottle between them my semi-acquaintance explained the scene to me. They’d crashed their ship upon the island’s rocky shores, he said, after being wrecked upon them by a swirling tempest. But surviving and being provisioned, their leader, a ship’s surgeon told the poxxy crew they could expect a rescue and relief. But this had been a ruse for the surgeon somehow knew that his European crew carried a disease too deadly to be treated on the isolated natives of this island nation and so instead he’d planned a party where in truth he’d drugged their wine, and collapsed the cave wall behind which lay this sordid scene.

I sat there stunned.

How could this Twitter acquaintance know all this about this hidden history, this suicidal plan, this involuntary pact, this truly tainted tontine in which all its members had only learned their fate at the hands of their deceaser doctor who himself imbibed the tainted wine?

Again

my Twitter acquaintance, nigh a friend, laughed and explained his morbid methodology.

And as I heard his terrible words, and sniffed again at that reddish residue I realized that the island’s isolated events and the ships surgeon from long ago were less a quaint [story] than a repeating pattern and as this realization dawned upon me and he laughed the final words I heard that round rock roll back into place as I awoke to write these words.”

no joke, experience the horror, deliberative cruelty, a wind so strong, a bunch of images, quite interesting, now I’ve gone too far, that happens in this story, really cool, Poe-esque, less something to be proud of than to be interested in, How Jesse Dreams podcast, 6 weird words,

HIS GREAT GRANDSIRE’S WILL by Jesse
Upon the death of his despised great grandfather, the portly boy was surprised to learn he had been bestowed his mouldering ancestral estate, consisting of a remote mountain fortress, a deep black lake, and crumbling thatch-roofed stables.
Yet when he first visited that stone citadel, that deep still tarn, and those rotting horse stalls, the ample boy was not particularly impressed with his great grandsire’s wizardry.
But the more he investigated that ancient demesne the more the big boy came to appreciate his great grandfather’s antiquarian peculiarities.
So it was particularly poignant when one November evening the rotund boy was plumbing the depths of the manor’s many cellars when, after sliding aside a purple velour curtain, he discovered the shriveled and still swinging corpse of his great grandfather in a magnificent rocking chair.
Shocked, but no longer surprised, the seemingly faithless boy instantly kicked his old ancestor’s body out of the chair, draped that sumptuous violet hanging about his still plush shoulders, seated himself, laughed and began to rock.
When in the spring sunshine they eventually found him in that basement of that shining citadel, the boy’s body was dry and desiccated, the stables had been rebuilt, the lake was lush with lively loons, and a freshly empty casket lay resplendent in an upper turret.
THE END

Jesse writes better in his dreams, the original Virgil Finlay illustration, having Poe on your mind, a Poe-ish story, in your reading gets inside of you, how this story was constructed, a cliche, and it was all a dream, genuinely what it is, it feels like it was written by a woman, the way he talks about the other male, the female gaze, he sat in the woman’s chair, he wishes he could see himself, his litheness of his body, its almost like a gay thing, sometimes Jesse’s not in his own dreams, third person dreams, an expy, Maissa doesn’t know whose in her dreams, interfering with access, designed to be forgettable, kettle on the stove, dream memory would harm reality if it persisted, looking for the cat you’ve never owned, maladaptive, I must be enjoying it while its happening, try to hold on to dreams, free association, a deliberately difficult order, the arbitrariness of dreams, how could this work?, writing your way out of it, plotters vs. pantsers, writing by the seats of your pants, the unpublished first novel of Clark Ashton Smith (The Black Diamonds), a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, an old castle, rotting tapestry, another dinner, there’s wrestling, a mysterious letter delivered by a bird, you are now my enemy, forsworn, no explanation, this wonderful imagination, he’s got the right attitude, the font is too small, why it is a dream story, she read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and she had this dream, her own personal psychology, Poe’s life, his parents, his adoptive family, super-randy, romanced everybody around, you better straighten up, defiant, West Point, excelled and kicked out, a trouble maker, Tomahawk Poe, how mean he was, Baltimore Gazette, trouble holding a job, alcoholic, Poe’s executor was his enemy, Poe was not a normal person, Francis Stevens was a normal person (extraordinarily gifted), not a Harlan Ellison type, Poe would be very tiring, we have to work with this guy, he’s the son of the boss, the narrator is upset by the actions he thought he took, he didn’t kill Beatrice, but he thought about it, jealousy, putative lover, yay my marriage failed, easy come easy go (but its not that easy), the timing of this story, 1918 vs. 1922, King Tut’s tomb, waves of Egyptmania, a little premature, The Mummy, 1940, its very short, subtle, authentic, she was 34 when this story came out, the bulk of her stories appear The Curious Experience Of Thomas Dunbar, the superhero Sampson, the very first superhero story, super-science, comic-booky, unrelated experiments, all of the metal, vibranium or adamantium, like Captain America, tremendous strength, the mythological character, written when she was a teenager, she’s got something, a real dynamism, it feels clunky at the beginning, it’s a short story, to be sure of my visitor, this is all planned, our friend, our Beatrice, it throws you off, a blast of sharp November air, each purple curtain, from Poe, ah distinctly I remember, wrought its ghost upon the floor, burn, I had to throw my weight upon the door, the storm without (he thinks), you’re very cautions, a password, this house stands somewhat alone, thieves everywhere, full of import, a feat of considerable muscles, sarcophagus, yes, the woman it contains, don’t you agree?, counterfeited a shudder, mummy horror, selling everything, tear jars and tombstones, a meme, drinking a cup full of “liberal tears”, making light, that relationship, neglecting his wife, another Poe story, The Oval Portrait, her name is not insignificant, trying to escape a bad relationship, she just wants to have it quits, the kind of chair that women love but most men loathe, like a cat, occasional blundering candor, the litheness of his body, why does he want to be understood?, with a single exception, the entire lot is going to the dealers, the costume of the mummy, he’s transferred his affection, very weird, where is Beatrice, a sea-cruise, another Poe story, The Oblong Box, its a coffin, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, the coffin as a flotation device, she’s in her boudoir?, we don’t know, what’s behind the curtain?, what is the curtain?, the dream?, the space between life and death?, the rosy velour curtain, constantly billowing, a rose coloured sail, must be a door behind there, huh?, my voice checked him, are you quite strong enough to close that door, chin on shoulder, his face seemed scarcely familiar?, what door is it?, his eyes fled mine, the invading winds, Annabelle Lee, you feel like you’re with them, heft to the things, the foot of the gilded case, gilded cage, a prisoner of his own thoughts and his own fear and his own making, he can’t escape them, a repulsive fantasy, yes?, you are too lovely Beatrice, you shall have your freedom, the father’s friend sent the wine, a very female story, kill with poison, enemy and himself, a murder suicide, none of us are going to survive that night, The Sleeper, a story not just a description, by the tomb by the sea by his Annabelle Lee, big frost ship poem, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, you’re walking down the highway, who are you?, its a story of necrophilia, a dude like Romeo outside of a house, she’s either dead or asleep, The Sleeper, curtains, superhard to understand, a nice tomb (she deserves it), to hear the echo (that’s a ghost), the horror of your loved one being dead, your in-laws, if Beatrice is to die, she should be given the most grand tomb imaginable, the mummy’s tomb, be with her (kinda), definitely thinking about it, the underdog stand, one more try, my father’s jealous blood, the mummy or his wife?, he was paying more attention, let her mate with who she would, my brown perfect princess of the Nile, as I had seen it in my vision, did he do that?, he was prepping, prepping for the murder, so good, page 41, erect in the doorway, more beautiful, bound across her bosom, amulets, the amulet of purity of the heart, Dante Alighieri, lost in the dusk of her hair, the flesh of any of us three, what he says about her hair, pallor, an interesting growth, the billowing of the titular curtain, the same totem, the catacombs, a distraction to Fortunato, the niter, it grows, an indication of growth in death, bird poo, an alchemical idea, crystalline growth, do you notice the curtain it blows?, half the estate, even to the sarcophagus itself, the unclosed frozen eyes, a motif used again again, Dream-Land, there the king hath forbid the uplifting of the fringed lid, the courtesy due a guest, a gauge, a measure of his suffering, drive home the jest, you’re joking with me, dressed in motley, a jester, Beatrice had seen, Romeo And Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe, any use, the melting pot of dissolution, almost Lovecraftian, you asked what door, there are doors and doors dear, charming friend, close it now in my face, wither you have, the heavy heavy door of the Osiris, very cool story, so many layers, more notes from Connor, pretty much a reasonable person, to consummate their affair, juicy horror elements, without plot being committed, a reasonable person, your writing sucks, dude, a magician’s act, the whole dream is a magic trick, the stage assistant has not been sawn in half, a comparison between Beatrice and the dead princess, changed vs. unchanging, the dead princess, he can project all his stuff onto her, no, no I hate those, watching movies with his mummy bride, their all independently wealthy, take your stuff home to work with you, one story in Weird Tales, Sunfire, running out of Francis Stevens to read, alas!, three stories to go, The Thrill Book, Impulse, set in the Society Islands Of The South Pacific, how much we will enjoy this story, completely gone, Friend Island, make sure you keep a copy, and that’s that, evocative, stuff to say, Unseen—Unfeared, Google Books, one photo of Francis Stevens (unattributed), why she stopped, some falling out with her kid, alternative dates for her birth and death, changed her name again?, R.M. Burrows, with women its hard, Lovecraft’s name is unusual, we don’t quite have the technology yet, new stuff gets scanned, 1948 newspaper Washington, D.C., Book Club called The Outsiders, first order of business, write a stern letter to the government, Weird Tales was banned in Washington, D.C., “different stories”, like a television channel, “The Unique Magazine”, those misfits, the weird stories, this isn’t a science fiction story, its not even a fantasy story, a horror story, a Poe story, not following a particular set of tropes, why I like Francis Stevens.

Behind The Curtain by Francis Stevens - Illustration by Virgil Finlay

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