The SFFaudio Podcast #461 – READALONG: The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #461 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Evan Lampe talk about The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Imagination, October 1953, Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, not that bad?, a lot to like, hate the ending, The Hood Maker, ambiguous clever or something, the story doesn’t need that, a tale of ecology, a fake tourist experience, they don’t know what they’re doing, what are you doing here?, long lost Earth, myth and legend, Isaac Asimov’s galactic empire, two kilo pos, love story, grandmother, grandfather?, incest issues, skinny dipping, more confusing, is it really happening?, a shared delusion?, a fairy realm?, deluding the same thing, she brought along some clothes, it’s Earth in the story, the twist in the tail, Planet Of The Apes, Richard, the coin, titillate our curiosity, the meaning of the coin, it could be Earth in the TV adaptation (but there’s no evidence for it), hook shaped rocks, the robant (robot) is lying, motivations, bad writing, we don’t get the ending, tell us what it means Jesse, struck, she’s the same old woman who appears in a handful of Dick stories, the old woman in The Cookie Lady, a personality, a sexuality, Captive Market, Douglas or Doug in a story is Philip K. Dick, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, writing women, why is she an old woman and not an old man?, gender swap, he buries her in the sea, some birds flying around, E. Pluribus Unum, “out of many, one”, a subtle environmental message, a symbol out of where we came from (the sea), it doesn’t look like Earth, I didn’t want it to be like that, all the money being made on genetic ancestry, big business, kinda bougey, white privilege, she’s rich, or is she using her last resources?, this is not what I want, Lovecraft is obsessed with ancestry, you better not look to much, a historical argument, genocide and slavery, no idyllic past, historical memory, North Carolina, some very weird things, the forgetting of the Earth, despoiled, garbage floating in that ocean, Strange Eden, ancient astronauts, Circe, develop the planet, humans are terrible, when you go picnicing, when Mother Earth returns to die, supposed to have a resonant feeling, the robant as a culmination of the industrial society, big red eyes (I’m angry?), Fondly Fahrenheit, almost beautiful, he went along with the scheme, the acting is good, the scripting isn’t very good, an extra character (the girlfriend), science fictional trappings that don’t resonate, it only makes sense if they’re delusional, no time travel explanations, he doesn’t really love his girlfriend, he’s from the periphery of the empire, the captain, whatever weird porn, fake sex, fake tourist sites, make the rubes happy, the girlfriend wants to go to the “city” too, the rat race of the corporate ladder, maybe the old lady is his true love, it is weird that he has these old women characters, formulaic vs. instinctual, what her body is like, how beautiful she is (really), sexualize a 340 year old lady, the money is double, the names are the same, old women can be beautiful, she’s going back, give this woman some dignity, the guys are kind of the assholes, not about the dignity of her death, a suicide pact, a suicide mission, the service worker angle, you waitress pretends to like you, the rubes, fakeness, they’re lying the whole time, this is Earth, it’s not Earth, oh, it’s Earth!, a lie that turns out to be the truth, genuineness, genuine emotion, genuine reality, the industrialization, the robant is more loyal than the humans, Norton, beautiful and dark, they sink into it together, muddle motivations, its only there to scold Andrews, the American experience, we need punishment, they’re channeling Americans, there’s no punishment at the end for the two liars, we don’t need punishment, it is not about punishment, why she’s a woman makes sense if her robant is her loyal servant, to deliver her for that scene, the original title was supposed to be Legend, a quest like the one for the Holy Grail, from thirty years ago, The Twilight Zone (1985/6), Voices In The Earth, ghosts, grass and flowers, repopulating the Earth, a Wall-E style rebirth, an elegy not a renewal, nature doesn’t give a fuck, there are no ghosts, the slug that crawls over that rock from a temple from 1,000 years ago doesn’t care, what makes something true, not a justified true belief, the skeletal moonlight, the recycling bin, we’re outside of the story, she’s representative of nature, leaves and branches, a voice like rustling leaves, a faded leaf carried on the wind, the Earth is cracked congealed baked degenerate, crusted with salt and waste, line by line, evocative and beautiful, Earth is green, what do we make of her being deaf?, different deafness, sensitive to the hearing community, hearing loss vs. complete hearing loss, the second to last page, Andrews, senile and deaf, easier to justify tricking her, disability, if she’s representative of Nature, Nature doesn’t speak to us, they can say things right in front of her, spitting on Mother Nature, it works somehow, a small idea, The Commuter, Prominent Author, wonderful technology, a joke, devastating the Earth so badly we won’t even know it is Earth, Planet For Transients, Survey Team, post-humans, leaving their mother, the seeds for a new form of life, a human civilization on Mars, this is what our species does, die and face our sins, that should have been the story, I go to the hair salon, their stylized white hair, upping the pink nebula, weird bouffant hair, regular mousy black, vs. Louis XIV hair, are we supposed to be disgusted by the tourists, class warfare, fulfilling her wishes, fell flat, she can hear the bird, Andrews is interpreting it correctly (just low on oxygen), toxins and radiation, fantasy is comforting, maybe Jesse dreamed the comfort, how harsh reality is, the comfort of a woman’s body, late late late winter and spring romance, that’s all the tourist experience is, Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain, the intersection of old empires, the Roman Empire, Syria, Bible stories, the British, French, and American empires, poverty, managed and regulated, Hunting The Deceitful Turkey, hunting, Mother Nature is tricky and deceitful and full of irony, betrayed by her own bone, he’s a bad shot, if you interpret it right, he’s a vegetarian, too sensitive, reading Twain, Mark Twain deflecting with humour, Dick meditates in the spaces of the characters, the other characters are only there to deliver the scenes, how horribly we treat people, selling the dream, and sometimes they do get it, accidental moment of grace, research, hallucination, give her a fake memory of visiting Earth, that open question, the death chamber scene in Soylent Green, Edward G. Robinson (Sol), removing the ambiguity, the signature of this whole series, taking the lesson of Inception (2010) to heart too much, liquid realities, thematically grounded vs. fuzzy, The Commuter is an amazing and subtle short story, I can see it, he can’t see it.

The Impossible Planet by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #409 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan

Podcast

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #409 – The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan, read by Mr Jim Moon. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 5 minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul)

Talked about on today’s show:
1910, obsession, kinda gross, fundamentally based on racism, Jewishness, troublesome, H.P. Lovecraft, a racist filter, horror as fear of the other, the same intellectual climate, racial theory, a sensitivity alarm bell, scare not offend, on the cusp, an off note, Sax Rohmer, yellow peril, Fu Manchu is the hero, the Escape audio drama adaptation, Harlan Ellison, Red Hook territory, uncomfortably of its time, its about race, his friend’s changing disposition, the Saxon Mother vs. the “strong wine of the east”, that logic is still in force, 1/64th Cherokee, if this was set in the highlands…, natural peace, a benevolent supernatural force, white hat vs. black hat, the theme of colonialism vs. race and heredity, imperialism, two-fisted adventure vs. poetry and philosophy and pathos, the landscape, the skyline, the love that Lawson has is reflected by Buchan himself

At midday it cleared, and the afternoon was a pageant of pure colour. The wind sank to a low breeze; the sun lit the infinite green spaces, and kindled the wet forest to a jewelled coronal. Lawson gaspingly admired it all, as he cantered bareheaded up a bracken-clad slope. ‘God’s country,’ he said twenty times. ‘I’ve found it.’ Take a piece of Sussex downland; put a stream in every hollow and a patch of wood; and at the edge, where the cliffs at home would fall to the sea, put a cloak of forest muffling the scarp and dropping thousands of feet to the blue plains. Take the diamond air of the Gornergrat, and the riot of colour which you get by a West Highland lochside in late September. Put flowers everywhere, the things we grow in hothouses, geraniums like sun-shades and arums like trumpets. That will give you a notion of the countryside we were in. I began to see that after all it was out of the common.

beautiful writing, the sensual description of Lawson,

Being a fair man, he was gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker’s clerk working on half-commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step was his return to London as the new millionaire — young, good-looking, wholesome in mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not propose to become a conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire.

a bromance at the least, homoeroticism, nudity or flannels, naked on the veldt, the gorgeousness of the writing, T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, a miniseries on Cecil Rhodes, the empire builder, Rhodesia, like Rhodes Lawson made his money in mining, Buchan knew Rhodes, a giant country estate, Buchan is the name of the unnamed narrator in the audio drama adaptation, biographies, First World War Hidden History blog,, at the center of spying and propaganda, Lord Tweedsmuir, use in a role playing game, Kim Philby, the old boy network, the revolving door policy, no longer conspiracy, no longer tin-foil hat territory, rewarded with the Governorship of Canada, nobility by appointment, “gone to the wall”, with the riff-raff and the hoi-poloi, “gone to seed”, a pun, the fertile and lush garden, the flower of his youth, a railroad from South Africa to Egypt, nursemaided by Rhodes, illness,

Then we went to work to cut down the trees. The slim stems were an easy task to a good woodman, and one after another they toppled to the ground. And meantime, as I watched, I became conscious of a strange emotion.

It was as if some one were pleading with me. A gentle voice, not threatening, but pleading — something too fine for the sensual ear, but touching inner chords of the spirit. So tenuous it was and distant that I could think of no personality behind it. Rather it was the viewless, bodiless grace of this delectable vale, some old exquisite divinity of the groves. There was the heart of all sorrow in it, and the soul of all loveliness. It seemed a woman’s voice, some lost lady who had brought nothing but goodness unrepaid to the world. And what the voice told me was, that I was destroying her last shelter.

That was the pathos of it — the voice was homeless. As the axes flashed in the sunlight and the wood grew thin, that gentle spirit was pleading with me for mercy and a brief respite. It seemed to be telling of a world for centuries grown coarse and pitiless, of long sad wanderings, of hardly-won shelter, and a peace which was the little all she sought from men. There was nothing terrible in it. No thought of wrongdoing. The spell, which to Semitic blood held the mystery of evil, was to me, of a different race, only delicate and rare and beautiful.

poor spirit, parallel to an extinction, running away from the destruction of man, reading the story from Lawson’s point of view, what is he doing there?, an alabaster moon, blood sacrifice, depleting life force, a lonely deity, The Call Of Cthulhu role playing game, a temple ruin, an abandoned mine, a tiki-fetish, some ancient horrible power, maybe we’ve done wrong here,

And then my heartache returned, and I knew that I had driven something lovely and adorable from its last refuge on earth.

the last doorway, the model for this tower, the Great Zimbabwe, where could I read up on that?, a country house with a mock temple: “the folly“, druid orders, cheese rolling, a week later, keeping a secret, dropsy or yellow fever, the revenge of the land, disease, looking down on the tropics, three years, scarfe, natural beauty, that library, the moon of alabaster, the bird statuettes, turtle doves, green doves, auk-like bird carvings, everything is going extinct, the sin at the story’s end, the two-fisted action, shotguns make short work, the birds on the pyre, salting the earth, the Punic wars, improve on Josiah, dynamiting a priceless ancient temple, a “land without history”, purpose of visit: colonialism, sad but true, ancient ruins of Africa, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, the character names all end in “son”: Lawson, Isaacson, Jobson (the factor), the Hudson’s Bay Company, the East India Company, wagons, more money than the Queen, Ming pots, a night watchman, the natives won’t go to the temple, local folk, indemnification, Adamson, half-English, Biblical naming, The Skids, Richard Jobson, Travers, Lowson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Supernatural Horror In Literature, building or rebuilding an ancestral home, The Moon Bog, The Rats In The Walls, they have the exact same structure, illness, lifted up into the sky, Ashtaroth the Moon goddess, Captain Norris, Magna Mater, Exham Priory, “what on Earth is going on here man?”, Out Of The Earth by Christine Campbell Thomson (aka Flavia Richardson), standing stones, mummy fiction, atavism, reverting to ancestral type, seeing things backwards, the industries that allow you to work, an inversion, an environmental horror story, silver bark, a beautiful image, Ishtar -> Ashtaroth, male and female spelling, an interest in weird fiction, one of the big names, scant detail, The Golden Bough, To The Devil A Daughter (1976), Astarte, a punny title, if this is a true story…, the covenant, the “Call of Ashtaroth”, the blood ritual, body horror, a psychic impasse, a taste, is there more than one force at work?, Of Withered Apples by Philip K. Dick, an apple tree, a bad farm, eating a withered apple is a bad move, the call of nature, it wants you, its using you, the last portal through, not of this Earth, a moonbeam, She by H. Rider Haggard, elegiac and wistful, a pleasure to read, layers and layers, old school weird fiction, layers of questioning and ambiguity, homages and reinterpretations, Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Alan Moore, Michael Moorcock, no clear lines, ambiguity comes to the fore, vs. early 20th century polemic, it would be an amazing comic book, visually stunning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the albatross of The Thirty-Nine Steps, literary highways and byways, The Moon Endureth, Christopher Hitchens essays,

“In a remarkable short story, ‘The Grove of Ashtaroth,’ the hero finds himself obliged to destroy the gorgeous little temple of a sensual cult, because he believes that by doing so he will salvage the health and sanity of a friend. But he simultaneously believes himself to be committing an unpardonable act of desecration, and the eerie voice that beseeches him to stay his hand is unmistakably feminine.”

-Christopher Hitchens (The Atlantic Monthly, March 2004)

The Grove Of Ashtaroth by John Buchan illustrated by Jesse

Astarte

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #017 – The Wolf by Guy de Maupassant

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #017

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Wolf by Guy de Maupassant

The Wolf was first published in French in 1889.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

LibriVox: The Watcher by R.H. Benson

SFFaudio Online Audio

E.F. Benson, A.C. Benson, and R.H. Benson were three brothers, all writers. They wrote weird fiction, Science Fiction and ghost stories.

R.H. Benson, the youngest of the three, started off as a clergyman in the Church of England, but later switched to the Roman Catholic Church and became an assistant to the Pope. An interesting choice since his biological father had been the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This short story of his, The Watcher, is somewhat difficult to classify. Reading it, it sounds like it could almost have been a true story – but it’s from a collection of fifteen stories depicting a fictional priest’s supernatural experiences.

I think it’s an allegory.

But the question is … an allegory for what?

Find out for yourself with Peter Yearsley’s fun reading of it…

LibriVoxThe Watcher
By R.H. Benson; Read by Peter Yearsley
1 |MP3| – Approx. 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: January 7, 2007
A face in a bush takes delight in the death of a thrush. First published in 1903.

And here’s a |PDF|.

Posted by Jesse Willis

X Minus One: A Gun For Dinosaur based on the short story by L. Sprague de Camp

SFFaudio Online Audio

I was surprised to learn this X-Minus One audio drama had never been posted to SFFaudio before. We’ve talked about L. Sprague de Camp’s A Gun For Dinosaur on the SFFaudio Podcast a couple of times (episodes #055 and #035), but for some reason it had never actually been posted on the website!

Now that I’ve got a copy of the original magazine where the short story was first published, and I’m looking at the fantastic illustrations by Ed Emshwiller, I think I’ve found the perfect time!

X-Minus OneX-Minus One – A Gun For Dinosaur
Based on the short story by L. Sprague de Camp; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx.30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: NBC
Broadcast: March 7, 1956
Provider: Internet Archive
In the bloodiest and most ferocious arena of all prehistoric Earth, hunting reptile heavyweights isn’t for human lightweights. First published in the March 1956 issue Galaxy magazine.

A Gun For Dinosaur illustrated by EMSH
A Gun For Dinosaur illustrated by EMSH
A Gun For Dinosaur illustrated by EMSH

And here’s the cover and splash page for Marvel Comics’ Worlds Unknown, which featured a 14 page adaptation of the story:

Worlds Unknown #2 - A Gun For Dinosaur - COVER

Worlds Unknown #2 - A GUN FOR DINOSAUR Adapted by Roy Thomas, art by Val Mayerik and Ernie Chua - Page 1

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #105 – AUDIOBOOK: The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #105 – a complete and unabridged reading of The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. Narrated by William Coon of Eloquent Voice.

A tempest tossed hunter crawls ashore on a mysterious island only to find his way to a creepy castle inhabited by a Russian Count named Zaroff.

After listening to this wonderful recording I heartily recommend you check out the 1932 RKO film version of The Most Dangerous Game. It has an excellent provenance having been produced by David O. Selznick and Merian C. Cooper. That’s the same team, with the same actors, with the same sets that was later used to make the original King Kong (1933)! The film version of Game adds a couple of characters (most notably a love interest), changes a few scenes, but really keeps the spirit of the piece and adds a haunting and beautiful visual motif. When the hero crawls ashore he meets the lovely Eve (played by Fay Wray) and her drunken brother Martin (Robert Armstrong), who were also shipwrecked. The film opens with a shot of a door with an ornate door knocker in the shape of a wounded centaur that’s carrying a subdued human woman. We see the door knocker once again and then later, inside the castle, the same iconic image is seen upon a mighty tapestry.

So, the wounded centaur is obviously a symbol. But for who or for what?

Now if you think about it, I’m sure you’ll see it, just as I did. Let’s break it down:

1. A centaur is, of course, half-man and half-beast.

2. The wound is from an arrow.

3. The woman in the centaur’s arms is either being rescued or abducted.

That’s almost enough. But it may help to know that, as I figure, the image was inspired by the myth of the centaur Chiron. In one part of the legend of Chiron, he is wounded by Hercules, with the wound’s cause being an arrow. An arrow dipped in the blood of a hydra. And hydra blood (of course) causes a wound that can never heal.

Now here’s the clincher, there’s a character in the film that has a wound that constantly bothers him. Get it?

As one of the reviewers on Archive.org’s page for The Most Dangerous Game put it: “[It’s a] film you can watch again and again.” Another reviewer put it this way:

“I think watching this movie has awakened my latent homicidal tendencies and right now I wanna fart around on an island with a cod Russian accent, wear a black polo neck sweater guzzle the best cognac smoke filterless cigarettes … and im gonna start right now.”

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell

The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game FILM

The Most Dangerous Game

The Most Dangerous Game

Download the |AVI| of the public domain movie!

Posted by Jesse Willis