The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #155 – The Rutted Road by H.P. Lovecraft

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #155

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Rutted Road by H.P. Lovecraft

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

The Rutted Road was first published in The Tryout, January 1917.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #507 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #507 – Seaton’s Aunt by Walter de la Mare; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 36 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Wayne June

Talked about on today’s show:
aunt?, ownt?, The London Mercury, April 1922, H.P. Lovecraft, pretty damn interesting, is it a ghost story?, Robert Aickman, Fontana Book Of Ghost Stories (Volume 1), M.R. James,, E.F. Benson, Thomas Liggoti, is it a vampire story?, a very successful ghost story, is it a witchcraft story?, necromancy, psychic vampirism, all about mood and sustaining a mood, atmospheric, very, creepiness sneaks in, chills up and down the spine,

“Deserving of distinguished notice as a forceful craftsman to whom an unseen mystic world is ever a close and vital reality is the poet Walter de la Mare, whose haunting verse and exquisite prose alike bear consistent traces of a strange vision reaching deeply into veiled spheres of beauty and terrible and forbidden dimensions of being.”

in a letter to Clark Ashton Smith, rumors about an ancient castle under which is a conclave of demons, not truckle with psychological fudging, real life stories, never tipped over the abyss, a feeling of being haunted, the weight of disbelief, monster,

“Of the shorter tales, of which several volumes exist, many are unforgettable for their command of fear’s and sorcery’s darkest ramifications; notably Seaton’s Aunt, in which there lowers a noxious background of malignant vampirism”

Shades Of Darkness adaptation, 9/10ths close to the book, a big switcheroo, switching the roles, dialogue from the story, adaptations are people interpreting, interpretive decisions, the girl Alice, more life to her at the beginning, the casting, what a role, a role of a lifetime, no eating, a mountain of a woman vs. doll-like, that thin and hungry look, her hair, a wig, dark hair, all this history, how intense people are, things going on, the number of parallel things that are happening, the first meeting the second meeting, the school, the strand, creepier, it feels like an actual memoir, weary of for no good reason, Withers, why is he telling this story, a chapter in a memoir, not very good person, Seaton’s not perfect, maybe this aunt is very moral, she does pretty much everything wrong, a huge colossal biotch, from a shit’s point of view, “a creature”, why does she act that way, she’s a prick or in league with the devil, she is a monster (in a any sense of the word), a horrible person, spite, little mind games, this is not Seaton’s story, may ownt, an extraordinary figure, a non-supernatural story, what made a person like this?, maybe she just way to much Lovecraft when she was young, we English, pongo, ape, monkey, bribed every time, some jam, lunch, expensive wine, the everyman, self-involved, does she kill him?, the roles were switched, bells and sparks, that chess scene,

Seaton’s aunt was wearing an extraordinary kind of lace jacket when we sidled sheepishly into the drawing-room together. She greeted me with a heavy and protracted smile, and bade me bring a chair close to the little table.

“I hope Arthur has made you feel at home,” she said, as she handed me my cup in her crooked hand. “He don’t talk much to me; but then I’m an old woman. You must come again, Wither, and draw him out of his shell. You old snail!” She wagged her head at Seaton, who sat munching cake and watching her intently.

his room is full of cages, down at the pond, a dysfunctional family,

“And we must correspond, perhaps.” She nearly shut her eyes at me. “You must write and tell me everything behind the creature’s back.” I confess I found her rather disquieting company. The evening drew on. Lamps were brought in by a man with a nondescript face and very quiet footsteps. Seaton was told to bring out the chess-men. And we played a game, she and I, with her big chin thrust over the board at every move as she gloated over the pieces and occasionally croaked “Check!”—after which she would sit back inscrutably staring at me. But the game was never finished. She simply hemmed me defencelessly in with a cloud of men that held me impotent, and yet one and all refused to administer to my poor flustered old king a merciful coup de grâce.

teaching chess, the aunt and Withers are parallel, Arthur chose him, something of his aunt there, toying and sparing,

“There,” she said as the clock struck ten—”a drawn game, Withers. We are very evenly matched. A very creditable defence, Withers. You know your room. There’s supper on a tray in the dining-room. Don’t let the creature over-eat himself. The gong will sound three-quarters of an hour before a punctual breakfast.” She held out her cheek to Seaton, and he kissed it with obvious perfunctoriness. With me she shook hands.

“An excellent game,” she said cordially, “but my memory is poor, and”—she swept the pieces helterskelter into the box—”the result will never be known.” She raised her great head far back. “Eh?”

It was a kind of challenge, and I could only murmur: “Oh, I was absolutely in a hole, you know!” when she burst out laughing and waved us both out of the room.

immoral behavior, a cloud of men, how she treats her nephew, Withers or Johnson or Wither or Smithers, another dig, tapping into something very British, mirrored, a dishonest narrator, passing judgement on all and sundry, a hideous old beast, she’s not such a bad old stick, a dull stolid chap, what’s expected, a public school attitude, everyone’s a jolly good sort, a mask for bad behavior, a cavalier with the truth, very calculated, foibles of behavior, you are nothing to me, it’s a test, dare you correct an old lady, is she’s too self aware?, if this were a true memoir, they sneak into her room and hide in her closet, too intellectual for her own good, why she’s a miss, about half way through the book,

We turned and walked slowly towards the house, across whose windows I confess my own eyes, too, went restlessly wandering in search of its rather disconcerting inmate. There was a pathetic look of draggledness, of want of means and care, rust and overgrowth and faded paint. Seaton’s aunt, a little to my relief, did not share our meal. Seaton carved the cold meat, and dispatched a heaped-up plate by an elderly servant for his aunt’s private consumption. We talked little and in half-suppressed tones, and sipped a bottle of Madeira which Seaton had rather heedfully fetched out of the great mahogany sideboard.

I played him a dull and effortless game of chess, yawning between the moves he himself made almost at haphazard, and with attention elsewhere engaged. About five o’clock came the sound of a distant ring, and Seaton jumped up, overturning the board, and so ending a game that else might have fatuously continued to this day.

no malice, interpretation, he’s turning into her, becoming more sympathetic to her, my aunt, we lost all our money, fairly obvious, the aunt has spent the inheritance, stopping at the chemists to get rat poison, WHY?, is Seaton trying to kill his aunt?, a half-term holiday, for his own use, another parallel, what’s with the bangle?, only when pirating, a craze for wearing a ring, a craze for wearing bangles, wearing a rubber band as a bangle, a little affectation, a bit of jewelry, more adult, a bit glamorous, to be interesting and opulent, bullying, perfectly horrid, a touch of the tar brush, not white enough, a bit debonair, a bit gypsy,

I can scarcely describe with what curious ruminations I led the way into the faded, heavy-aired dining-room, with this indefinable old creature leaning weightily on my arm—the large flat bracelet on the yellow-laced wrist.

they are isolated, a maiden aunt, a malevolent creature, sometimes people are weird, weird household cultures, lobster mayonnaise, game sausages, the salad is the monster, a gargantuan appetite, you can’t scare me with your ghost stories, I’ll take it, she’s sure to be quite decent to you, code for child sexual abuse, she’s just a woman, does she lie ever?, the eye in the room, is this an Innsmouth story?, a lot of fishy eyes in this story, Irving S. Cobb’s Fishhead, frog boy?, did he go to the pond, or the sea?, her younger brother, she might be being misread, people turning into dust, Seaton is turning into his aunt, something you like to eat, so interesting,

We walked up the village street, past the little dingy apothecary’s and the empty forge, and, as on my first visit, skirted the house together, and, instead of entering by the front door, made our way down the green path into the garden at the back. A pale haze of cloud muffled the sun; the garden lay in a grey shimmer—its old trees, its snap-dragoned faintly glittering walls. But now there was an air of slovenliness where before all had been neat and methodical. In a patch of shallowly-dug soil stood a worn-down spade leaning against a tree. There was an old broken wheelbarrow. The roses had run to leaf and briar; the fruit-trees were unpruned. The goddess of neglect brooded in secret.

the Goddess of neglect, what the hell does that mean?, the whole opposite view of this whole thing, he’s dying, is he digging his own grave?, his way to try to get away, a keen naturalist, he’s making the best of a bad situation, I like wildness, forklift trucks to do her goddamned hair, the keys to his trust fund, salving a scrap of conscience, a bit of a tightfist, the money is running out, nuts and fruit, he doesn’t want to get too fat, tadpoles, between becoming what he’s going to be, the aunt croaks, he will never,

on one memorable occasion went to the length of bestowing on me a whole pot of some outlandish mulberry-coloured jelly that had been duplicated in his term’s supplies. In the exuberance of my gratitude I promised to spend the next half-term holiday with him at his aunt’s house.

expensive madeira, she sounds like a Lovecraft,

She confided in us her views on a theme vaguely occupying at the moment, I suppose, all our minds. “We have barbarous institutions, and so must put up, I suppose, with a never-ending procession of fools—of fools ad infinitum. Marriage, Mr. Withers, was instituted in the privacy of a garden; sub Rosa, as it were. Civilization flaunts it in the glare of day. The dull marry the poor; the rich the effete; and so our New Jerusalem is peopled with naturals, plain and coloured, at either end. I detest folly; I detest still more (if I must be frank, dear Arthur), mere cleverness. Mankind has simply become a tailless host of indistinctive animals. We should never have taken to Evolution, Mr. Withers. ‘Natural Selection!’—little gods and fishes!—the deaf for the dumb. We should have used our brains—intellectual pride, the ecclesiastics call it. And by brains I mean—what do I mean, Alice?—I mean, my dear child”—and she laid two gross fingers on Alice’s narrow sleeve—”I mean courage. Consider it, Arthur. I read that the scientific world is once more beginning to be afraid of spiritual agencies. Spiritual agencies that tap, and actually float, bless their hearts! I think just one more of those mulberries—thank you.

sounding like Thomas Ligotti, everything sucks, the trap of pessimism, a certain truth to it, justification for all manner of barbarity and horror, survival of the fittest, neoliberal morality, atmosphere building, the deaf for the dumb, intellectual pride, what do I mean Alice?, I mean courage, spiritual agencies, an attack on spiritualism, worst wedding toast ever, worst host ever, my child brother died in it, sleep well, how big a deal, another theory, one more of those mulberries, bastard squirrels, almost all vegetation, pop goes the weasel, Babylonian mythology, silkworms, death and rebirth, they spin their own shroud, Seaton should run away, the horse, she never will or she never would, she knows everything we’re doing, is she telepathic?, does she know the boy is buying rat poison?, cages and boxes, a box with a worm in it, role reversal, a switch, something strange happens near the end, off to tea, she calls him Arthur, is that you Arthur?, the ghost of Arthur?, get out, she doesn’t know, she killed him but she doesn’t even know, a voracious appetite, getting psychically fatter, she’s lost her source of food, she’s dying, conversing with the dead, still floating around the house, nothing to feed off anymore, not wholly embodied, that all seeing eye, seeing into other people’s minds, is he first in his class?, maybe if you apply the rules of science it’s almost like she’s in a superposition, the pile of clothes on the floor, the shoes two meters apart pointing at each other, a bundle of clothes, she’s in her room and she’s not in her room, Schrödinger’s Aunt, she’s just a human being, this story does both, a horror story, she’s a vampiric-witch who can talk to ghosts, The Terrible Old Man by H.P. Lovecraft, Spanish gold, easy pickings, bottled souls, old shipmates, three new bottles, his yard, moss covered totemic gods from the South Seas, Smithers Withers Johnson, not wholly of this dimension, why she’s so weird, an alien trapped on Earth, she knows she’s a shit, he does the exact same stuff as she does, not of this earth, a tragedy, the whole takeaway, feeling a little guilt, a life tragedy, nothing but a trap, you’re either a feeder or you’re the food, not an Oscar Wilde, outside of society, so masterfully put together, another way of going, she’s mean because she gives him the small room, who made the room full of cages and boxes, playing goth music all night, all about interpretation, a reflection of me (being in a cage), interesting parallels, a black widow spider, Wayne doesn’t buy that she’s innocent, in league with the devil, what happened to her brother?, a theory for Mr Jim Moon, The Terror Of The Blue John Gap by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mother of pearl, a monster in the mine, a letter Seaton, Samuel Seaton, the painting on the wall, the one with the eye is S. Seaton, retelling it as a modern story, he has a VIC 20!, security cameras in every room, we have the same kinds of issues and problems today, most manifest in her awareness of what she’s doing, self-conscious, Alice is almost consciousless, did she move away?, who did she escape?, a weird race of two, the deep one crown in a chest of jewlery, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, trying to find a place to put my sympathy, they’re screwed individually and in combination, All Hallows by Walter de la Mare, a sour church, Blackwood and Machenesque, a BBC Radio abridgement, the story becomes insane without pauses,

you know your space, a powerfully interesting way of writing, layering in themes that are almost ineffable, just words, so much is the way its told, a liberated thoughtful lady, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, occult skill, charged with mockery and bitterness, ruined, processing through a filter of hate, began to play the opening bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata. The piano was old and woolly. She played without music. The lamplight was rather dim. The moonbeams from the window lay across the keys. Her head was in shadow. And whether it was simply due to her personality or to some really occult skill in her playing I cannot say: I only know that she gravely and deliberately set herself to satirize the beautiful music. It brooded on the air, disillusioned, charged with mockery and bitterness. I stood at the window; far down the path I could see the white figure glimmering in that pool of colourless light. A few faint stars shone, and still that amazing woman behind me dragged out of the unwilling keys her wonderful grotesquerie of youth, and love, and beauty. It came to an end. I knew the player was watching me. “Please, please, go on!” I murmured, without turning. “Please go on playing, Miss Seaton.”

No answer was returned to my rather fluttering sarcasm, but I knew in some indefinite way that I was being acutely scrutinized, when suddenly there followed a procession of quiet, plaintive chords which broke at last softly into the hymn, A Few More Years Shall Roll.

what significance did the hymn have for her?

I confess it held me spellbound. There is a wistful, strained, plangent pathos in the tune; but beneath those masterly old hands it cried softly and bitterly the solitude and desperate estrangement of the world. Arthur and his lady-love vanished from my thoughts. No one could put into a rather hackneyed old hymn-tune such an appeal who had never known the meaning of the words. Their meaning, anyhow, isn’t commonplace.

I turned very cautiously and glanced at the musician. She was leaning forward a little over the keys, so that at the approach of my cautious glance she had but to turn her face into the thin flood of moonlight for every feature to become distinctly visible. And so, with the tune abruptly terminated, we steadfastly regarded one another, and she broke into a chuckle of laughter.

engaging with him like an adult, the clothes of a man, his coat is too big for him, so grateful for the invitation, I really appreciate it because I’m dying, the paranoid literal ghost haunted victim of an in-league-with-the-devil-aunt, nothing more than a coffin, my brother William died, there’s hundreds of eyes like that in the house, I shan’t stand it much longer, did Seaton commit suicide?, all my plans are falling into place, the old mulberry jelly trick, we are told he has lavish pocket money, that would be in character, so lonely, the bangle as an amulet against her, Alice Outram, some good stuff, a now lost medieval village in Derbyshire, early 1900s travel, piggy back rides and hiding in closets, candles, a fascinating story, Seaton is definitely a liar, you were supposed to best man, more on the ball, creeped by the aunt, you hypocrite, a mismatch between emotions and what people say, being clever and arch, snarky, is it about control or just being playful, so much free-rangeness, allowed bullying to flourish, snapchat bullying, the mistakes of perception that you have in childhood, a confession story, somewhere in there Withers is having an argument with Seaton, some guilt, mistreating the old bird, what she says, calculated cruelty, emotionally abusive, emotionally neglectful, no sexual or physical abuse, she never lies to him, she never gaslights him, that never happened, you’re wrong, she demeans him, she knows everything that I think and what I do, he’s a squashed human, squashed at school, victimness, uninterested in his emotional being, baby monkeys, the monkey Withers, a monkey in with a tadpole, very subversive, what is the question, what is this story?, not fantasy, not science fiction, definitely weird fiction, vampire is stronger than ghosts (in here), prehistoricism, eternal evil, Silurians (Doctor Who reference), Doggerland, it feels so Lovecrafty because of all the fish, he is doomed, The Rats In The Walls, The Moon Bog, The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan,

And again I paused irresolutely a few paces further on. It was not fancy, merely a foolish apprehension of what the raw-boned butcher might “think” that prevented my going back to see if I could find Seaton’s grave in the benighted churchyard. There was precious little use in pottering about in the muddy dark, merely to discover where he was buried. And yet I felt a little uneasy. My rather horrible thought was that, so far as I was concerned—one of his extremely few friends—he had never been much better than “buried” in my mind.

dark!, a dark philosophy,

I was not a man of the world, nor was I much flattered in my stiff and dullish way of looking at things by being called one; and I could answer her without the least hesitation.

“I don’t think, Miss Seaton, I’m much of a judge of character. She’s very charming.”

“A brunette?”

“I think I prefer dark women.”

“And why? Consider, Mr. Withers; dark hair, dark eyes, dark cloud, dark night, dark vision, dark death, dark grave, dark!”

she’s goth, yo,

Perhaps the climax would have rather thrilled Seaton, but I was too thick-skinned. “I don’t know much about all that,” I answered rather pompously. “Broad daylight’s difficult enough for most of us.”

Seaton's Aunt by Walter de la Mare

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #500 – READALONG: The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #500 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada talk about The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Talked about on today’s show:
So it goes, the natives don’t like Paul, stop raping, a novella, dense, Again, Dangerous Vision edited by Harlan Ellison, out like a rocket, commissioned in the ’70s, the introduction and the afterword, easy to write, a boss with ulcers, lacking charity, anthropology, an army planet, a metaphor for Vietnam, wood, sawmill workers, not all that it was, Dump Island, ansible, gender, the role of women, the whole Biblical thing, a Prometheus story, The Streets Of Ashkelon by Harry Harrison, Avatar (2009), Dances With Wolves (1990), thinking in the shower, The Power Of Kroll, a giant Cthulhu monster, nasty colonizers, Creechies, Ben and Sam, Gunga Din, Rudyard Kipling, strange conclusion, a lover of the exotic, unconscious of his own hypocrisy, a really good writer, very praising, effortless and beautiful to read, two pieces of yesterday, a ship-load of women, a crop failure, tame this planet, smiling jiggling line of little figures, effortless, The Lathe Of Heaven, Portland, the geography on New Tahiti, mostly ocean, how can you have a northwest corner?, all kinds of jungle, temperate rainforest, things don’t start growing on your purse, Costa Rica, clothes never dry, go naked, beautiful beyond words, life expressing itself in every corner, sound-wise, bugs and birds and frogs, the smells the sights the sounds, confronted and embraced, exhausting and wet, insects are the measure of how much life is going on, horrible insects, the giant red deer, fish, squirrels, her boss, it had been done before, come from Earth about a million years ago, monkey, her Hanish-verse, names of trees, a conspiracy, right but wrong, if you listen to those E.T.s, everything from sex to thumbtacks, gook, creatures!, green fur, super-asshole, Davidson, a split-rail fence, first reefer of the day, it might have been Idaho in 1950, a distant bird, what is undeveloped, so connected to the Lathe Of Heaven, you can’t beat them, round up the ringleaders and threaten to give them hallucinogens, from Selver’s point of view, dreams, that’s implied, a built up culture, oblique glimpses, another guy named Orr, cool!, training to dream, they never sleep, a broken sleep cycle, cat-nap your way through life, active dreaming, forges, wheels, helicopters, and laser guns, the good news about reading Ursula Le Guin, witch-doctors, the men’s lodge, lord dreamer, tell me about your dream Selver, killing all the guys at Smithcamp, a stepping stone, in the pre-story, a hot afternoon with two prostitutes, 220 other women, aliens came, “went spla”, how could they be to blame, a god, a Promethean technology, ideas as weapons, Jack Vance, weaponizing a culture by means of ideas, had he learned to kill his fellow men, an infection, a foreign plague, a psychological psionics, a raincoast, a physical change to the landscape, the same is happening to Davidson, your thinking gets all screwed up, hard to know, company, helicopter logging, by that point in the story, they’re kinda loose, lumberjacks and flapjacks, chopping down trees, wearing high heels, a looseness to the military, captain vs. colonel, the army and creechies, a whole section, the ansible anagram, two different directions, the U.N., smash the radio, how a place affects you, with your person and your purse, Collapse by Jared Diamond, the Medieval warm period, unsuitable ways, winter is coming, refusing the ways of the Inuit, Thailand, the hotel food, the hotel water, the Hilton is not Thailand, rejecting the whole part of the plot, the smash, transmitting false information, this machina ex machina, answerable within your own lifetime for what you did, the League Of Worlds, administering the American Empire, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, NAFAL, the economics, luxury goods, a kid in Chicago, rats, a nightmare, a powerful image, the Tet offensive, who the creechies are, deforestation, defoliant, massive swaths, agent orange, under that plan, Brazil, another dead Earth, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, a minor story, city?, warrens, Sarnath, India, H.P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, summary, subject to interpretation, Jason Thompson‘s adaptation, isolation, solitary, an out, I’m a god you’re a god, going native, bringing life back, a backdoor, maybe in 20 or 30 years, what will happen when I die?, the gift of killing, always touching each other, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, go me!, murder has no reason, what’s going to happen?, interest in dreams and reality, everybody knows Scott, how simple truth was, famous for flying, if we knew what everything was, perception errors, what the word dream means in this context, dreaming the previous days information, pieces of yesterday, paying attention to it, great detail, every time we go to sleep its like we’re rebooting, hard to see the difference between, alternate New York City, what is a book if not a dream, it has no physical consequence excepting piling up, Karl Marx changed the world, George Orwell, taken from the world and then dream, her dreams are more real than she is now, Philip K. Dick’s dreams are more real than he is now, dreamed into existence, an E.E.G. subject, the Parthenon to a mud-hut, the aboriginal cultural of Australia, the Dreamtime, counting coins, shared dreaming, trees communicating to each other, considered as the trees, page 35, things looked pretty neat for a logging camp, endless meaningless, in your face and in your eyes, corruplast, eaten by the jungle, a permanent stain, being newed again, the world is always new, the creechie women, why the women listen, the afterword, the boss is a man, he didn’t want to play, he wanted to moralize, he was a man, when women are taking more assertiveness with their role in society, what feminists should be looking up to, the role of gender, The Left Hand Of Darkness, a lot of tea, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, too much kicking, what makes a gender role a gender role, captured incredibly well, George Orr, murder and revolution, a feminist streak, the ecological devastation, an act of rape, this is a new time for the world, at the farthest grows the Tree where the fruit ripens, the roots are deeper than the forest, no evidence that the creechies aren’t human, Colonel Dong, not really about Vietnam, every kind of human is represented (other than women), Euraf, Asian, all in destruction together, ill, bowels, water illness, when you go to the jungle you get bit, Selver’s name, self, selfish, subversive, kinda Buddhist, Taoist beliefs, Tibet, the land of Buddhists, Tibetans who resisted with weapons, shooting at your enemy, submission poses, certain traditions, surrender symbols, it doesn’t have answers, a lot of questions, terran man is clay, they are trees, Earth is rock and static, Trees have roots and grow and are more interconnected, not as rich as Dune by Frank Herbert, the desert planet, Waterworld (1995), the culture is deceptively rich, a pretty high rung, a good writer, CBC radio’s Vanishing Point adaptation from 1989, too much screaming, we don’t see it, straight from the book, very faithful, singing = screaming, a weird noise, a fantasy set in a rainforest, played on the title, probably pulling, urination, not concepts!, language!, reading books, no censorship, hygienic homosexuality, sure he’s a 20th century tough guy, what does that mean?, she’s way ahead of the curve, so ahead of its time, straight on with what is a gender role, this metaphor, what does that mean?, why Ursula Le Guin has a prominent position, always interested in interesting stuff, a pipe-smoker, just Gandalf, pipeweed.

Again, Dangerous Visions - The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

BOOK OF THE ROAD - The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Word For World Is Forest - illustrated by Peter Eleson

Berkley - The Word For World Is Forest

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #498 – READALONG: The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #498 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, Paul Weimer, and Marissa VU talk about The Magic Goes Away by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
novella sorta, Odyssey, thinking back, telling about the books, the interesting things in the books, hard Fantasy, mana, the problems of depletion, the wheel spell, a skull, so fun, the whole spoiler phenomenon, spoiler people get uptight as they age, kids are little scientists, tell me more, they walk on clouds, unicorns were a thing, the explanation, in different cultures, is spoiler sensitivity cultural, the joy of getting there, Snotgirl, Jesse’s worst sin this year, treasuring the experience of discovery, extra jalapenos, “surprise me!”, in the early days of Paul’s life, Not Long Before The End, What Good Is A Glass Dagger?, The Wishing Game, The Burning City, The Burning Tower, same universe, ancient Los Angeles, the political messaging gets really ham-handed, the IRS is bad, later books are co-authored, the ideas vs. the execution, Scott’s view, so smart, preppin’ for a podcast, the magazine version, the art is so good, it felt like trying to extened a really good story premise, the similarities to Ringworld, a big dumb object in the sky (the Moon), we’re going to need a god, before they get to the god, the denouement, poor Wavyhill, immortality, screaming for thirty years, Protector, how idea heavy his stuff is, the little consequences, a cultural legacy, some people still believe in magic, he’s retconned our magic-free universe with a universe full of magic, he sees like other people do, true for all humanity, kinda sexist, the Moon is magic, when we achieve that as a species, worldsnake, amoeba used to be huge monsters, the Grey Ooze, the gelatinous cube, where Gary Gygax got the idea, the goo, vacuoles, translucent, holding the goo, one of the first words we all say as babies, a giant tardigrade, The First Fossil Hunters by Adrienne Mayor, a protoceratops fossil, gryphons, why we dig them up today, page 46, the size of houses, there that’s what I’m talking about, the children of the first god, the Crawling Chaos, fire vs. magic, so much work, good additions, fire is technology, elves are all gone because they are powered by magic and fire, Avengers: Infinity War, mixing in Doctor Strange, created at the point of creation of the universe, The Key To Time, a purpose, characters with different skills, the fire and the magic, a god in the form of Thor, different skill sets, a real issue, a dying earth story, we live in the dead Earth, the setup and the premises, Warlock vs. Wavyhill, a wolfwere, please tell me more, a wolf that’s really a man, magic dead zones, a snail dragon, some hidden stuff, Neuromancer, a ROM, Dixie Flatline, a book about hackers, hackers can do magic, cyberpunk role-playing game scene, the Magic: The Gathering cards, Larry Niven backwards, a Niven disc, the NetRunner collectible card game, very clever, he’s systematized magic where everything is possible, using limited resources, peak oil problem, what a big idea, The Magic May Return, Fred Saberhagen, Poul Anderson, Mildred Downey Broxon, Roger Zelazny, meteor bombardment, this is cute, emphasize the right words, page 8, chapter 2, an Asian infestation of vampires, “gone mythical”, the crater is old, Fistfall, at this point in the book, a mountain, a village, the moon, it’s not two wizards, we’ve got three…, the Three Magi!, what he was going for, that kind of retelling, happening in the background, the kind of book that will reward careful reading, I need to see a wizard, the opening with the raft and the collapse of Atlantis, why Atlantis sunk, I can solve that, tectonically unstable, the payoff, the centaur can’t survive without the magic, the image, climate change, images in the news, too real, Trail Of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse, a post apocalyptic landscape where the magic has returned, the sixth world, Lucifer’s Hammer, Fist Of God, Inferno, Dante’s Inferno, the structure, he’s old, Planet Stories, The Dancers by Margaret St. Clair, Blue Hours Suspense audio drama series adaptation, waiting for the dawn, a new Eden, the premise, the belief of the dancers, the last uncontacted tribe was shown the error of their ways, who knows what hold the Moon up?, philosophy of science, uniformity, six weekends on the Moon, explanations for why our explanations don’t work, I’ve solved everything in hard Science Fiction, but you haven’t solved unicorns, Svetz, time travel stories, Moby-Dick, running into fantasy, into a fantastical past, a collection of short stories, Rainbow Mars, a seed from Yggdrasil, A Wolf In My Time Machine, manna in fantasy, manna’s from heaven, Maori culture, as a unit of magic, magic as sustenance, a shout out to Australia and New Zealand, emigrate to Australia, super-yummy, “try the moa, it’s great!”, the aborigines, the Dreamtime, this fits in with my explanation, Master Of The Maze by Avram Davidson, been not from, Maori cultural practices, reciprocal obligations, Jesse explains the potlatch, depleting your production, you have power, an economic cultural mixer, what commerce can do, nobody would be productive if they didn’t have money, the communication of debt, honor, they owe you and you own them, Washington State, banned, spiritual power, gods and spirits, the UBC Museum of Anthropology, that is magical in a certain sense, motivating without money, economics as debt not as currency, a theme in a lot of Niven’s work, solving ideas, 13,000 B.C., geography, Doggerland is still above the waves, exploring the changes, the unstated name is Robert E. Howard, his Hyborian age, Acheron, King Kull was an Atlantean, a philosopher king in a magic heavy universe, Kull The Conqueror (1997) movie is fairly faithful, Kevin Sorbo, The Good Place, funny dialogue, a good sense of humour, the relationship he has with women, typical, the right Niven characters together, Louis, Speaker, and Nessus, damn hard SF, character low, having motivation, the baddie, the worlds first necromancer, is Wayvhill the badguy?, a heist that goes wrong, very Joseph Campbell-y, dealing with the epic, The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson, Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock, Orolandes said, the skulls, “I wish…”, what was Clubfoot wishing for?, the last great sorcerer, a diminishment and a sadness, wishes don’t come true anymore, now I’m sad, thanks Paul, Antarctica, you wish upon a star, he’s not spelling it all out but he’s pointing to it, that’s the joy, Merlin, he ages backwards, they have these spells, Mirandees hair colour, from black to white, the vampire spell, good stuff, a very nice exercise, throwing Larry Niven into Hell, totally worthwhile, the original short was withdrawn for consideration for a Hugo, fantastic, Marissa is going mythical.

Odyssey, Summer 1976

Boris Vallejo cover for The Magic Goes Away

Skull Of Wavyhill

The Magic Goes Away - Chapter 8

Nevinyrral's Disk from Magic: The Gathering

NetRunner card NevinYrral

DC Comics - Larry Niven - The Magic Goes Away

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #143 – Its Prayer by Duane W. Rimel

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #143

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Its Prayer by Duane W. Rimel

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Its Prayer was first published in The Phantagraph, November-December 1935.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson