BBC Radio 4: In Our Time – a new podcast for every subject with shows from the past 14 years

SFFaudio Online Audio

Our friend Anne has added a wonderful new post to his Anne Is A Man blog about podcasts. Says Anne:

“I used to write that one should always download the In Our Time podcasts and keep for ever. The BBC used to keep only the last episode in the feed. In case one had not kept the episode, the only option to listen was to go to the on-line archive and listen while streaming. While that has become less and less of a bother with WiFi all around and capable smartphones, it still was a pity you had no option. All of this now belongs to the past; the archive is also available for download and one can lay ones hands on any chapter ever.”

The archive has been categorized into five separate feeds, sorted by subject:

BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - CultureIn Our Time Archive – Culture
Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas. Topics in the Culture feed include: architecture, the Renaissance, writing forms (like the novel, the sonnett and biography), as well as a multitude of specific persons.

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iotc/rss.xml


BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - HistoryIn Our Time Archive – History

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas. Topics in the History feed include: The Wars of the Roses, specific battles, a multitude of historical personages, as well as the history of tea.

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/ioth/rss.xml


BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - PhilosophyIn Our Time Archive – Philosophy

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas. Topics in the Philosophy feed include: just war, rhetoric, great thinkers (Confucius, Popper, Socrates) as well as specific works of philosophy.

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iotp/rss.xml


BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - ReligionIn Our Time Archive – Religion

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas. Topics in the Religion feed include: fundamentalism, prayer, the Devil, paganism, the Holy Grail, and the Spanish Inquisition.

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iotr/rss.xml


BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time - ScienceIn Our Time Archive – Science

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history of ideas. Topics in the Religion feed include: genetic engineering, artificial intelligence (and regular intelligence), quantum gravity, oceanography, aliens and cryptography.

Podcast feed: http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/iots/rss.xml

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBCR4 + RA.CC: Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon RADIO DRAMA

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BBC Radio 4RadioArchives.ccSome stories adapt better than others. I think a straight narration of an audiobook of Daniel Keyes’ novelette of Flowers For Algernon would be an easy and natural way to experience most of the story’s power. Sadly, that’s still yet to happen.

The original story, of course, makes great use of spelling mistakes which could not fully be illustrated in any audiobook narration, but a straight single voiced reading of the story still provides the main thrust of the tale’s dramatic technique; we get the grammar of the main character, his account of what his doctors ask of him, and we get what his”friends” think of him.

The film and television versions that I’ve seen have, with video’s visually orientation, have all eliminated much of the very valuable power inherent in the epistolary.

Indeed, as editor James Gunn puts it in his introductory essay to Flowers For Algernon, found in The Road To Science Fiction #4 – From Here To Forever, “Part of the appeal of the story is the comparison of the reader’s knowledge to Charlie’s, and the ability to see more in Charlie’s reports than he knows is there.” Once you actually get out of Charlie’s head you lose his perspective and lose the unreliable narration.

So I was thinking about all of this as I was downloading a 1991 BBC Radio dramatization, via torrent, from RadioArchive.cc.

I was pretty skeptical of any radio dramatization’s ability to convey the story’s full power. Now though, after listening, I’ve come away convinced that it retains much of its power, and offers up a very innovative use of the aural medium. It is actually quite a tricky balance but it totally worked in the way it is put together.

Bert Coules, who adapted the novelette had this to say:

“In 1991 the BBC asked me to suggest some SF material for a short season. I drew them up a list and at the same time put in a claim to do Flowers, which I think is a tremendous story: it completed knocked me out when I first read it as a kid. I was delighted when I got the commission.”

In Flowers For Algernon the central character keeps a diary – in fact, the entire story consists of his diary entries. I changed the diary into a series of audio recordings made on a personal tape machine, and interspersed them with dramatised scenes which are mentioned or implied in Daniel Keyes’ original but which don’t actually appear in the story at all. When you’re writing new material like that, the challenge of course is to keep it consistent with the stuff that does come more or less straight from the book.

Flowers posed a particular problem: if you’ve read the story you’ll know that Charlie Gordon, the central character, goes through some huge changes which are brilliantly depicted by the way his diary entries are written: as he develops, so does his spelling, grammar and punctuation. I had to find a spoken way of reflecting the same journey.”

I believe he’s done a fantastic job with it.

Incidentally, the other plays in that series included: Brave New World, Kaleidoscope, The Midas Plague, The Chrysalids, Space Ache, Who Goes There? and Tiger! Tiger!.

So, like I was saying, if you haven’t read the original novelette, I recommend you experience the story that way, as a piece of text, first. If you have read it, then I heartily recommend you try the audio drama. It’s a wonderful adaptation with excellent acting and a highly innovative use of the microphone.

Flowers For Algernon by Daniel KeyesFlowers For Algernon
Adapted from the novelette by Daniel Keyes; Dramatized by Bert Coules; Performed by a full cast
Approx. 59 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: September 5, 1991
Source: RadioArchive.cc
The play featured as part of a series of forward-looking productions collectively named “The shape of things to come.” Tom Courtenay stars as the intellectually challenged Charlie, who as part of an experiment is offered a “cure” for his low IQ…..First published in The Magazine Of Fantasy And Science Fiction’s April 1959 issue.

Cast:
Tom Courtenay ………………… Charlie
Algernon …………………….. Himself
Joanna Myers …………….. Miss Kinnian
Barrie Cookson …………….. Dr Strauss
Ronald Herdman ………………. Dr Nemur
Clarence Smith ………………….. Bert
Nigel Carrington …………. Joe/Donnegan
Auriol Smith ………….. Mrs Flynn/Ellen
Alan Barker …………. Frank/Sherrinford

Adapted by Bert Coules

Produced by Matthew Walters

Recorded Books produced an unabridged edition of the novelized expansion of the story:

RECORDED BOOKS - Flowers For Algernon by Daniel KeyesFlowers For Algernon
By Daniel Keyes; Read by Jeff Woodman
8 CDs – Approx. 9 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 1998
ISBN: 9781402550348
Charlie Gordon knows that he isn’t very bright. At 32, he mops floors in a bakery and earns just enough to get by. Three evenings a week, he studies at a center for mentally challenged adults. But all of this is about to change for Charlie. As part of a daring experiment, doctors are going to perform surgery on Charlie’s brain. They hope the operation and special medication will increase his intelligence, just as it has for the laboratory mouse, Algernon. Meanwhile, each day Charlie keeps a diary of what is happening to him. This is his poignant record of the startling changes in his mind and his life. Flowers for Algernon was first published as a short story, but soon received wide acclaim as it appeared in anthologies, as a television special, and as an award-winning motion picture, Charly. In its final, expanded form, this haunting story won the Nebula Award for the Best Novel of the Year. Through Jeff Woodman’s narration, it now becomes an unforgettable audio experience.

As mentioned earlier there have been four major video adaptations of Flowers For Algernon (three television movies and on theatrical film): Des Fleurs Pour Algernon (a 2006 French TV movie), Flowers For Algernon (a U.S. TV movie from 2000), Charly (a U.S. theatrical release from 1968) and a live broadcast teleplay that aired as a part of The United States Steel Hour in 1961 (it was titled The Two Worlds of Charlie Gordon).

Des Fleurs Pour Algernon

And I’m afraid there was also a frightening looking musical theater version:

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #113

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #113 – Jesse and Eric S. Rabkin talk about Stupidity and Intelligence in Science Fiction (and Fantasy).

Talked about on today’s show:
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse, Fantasia, Christopher Marlowe‘s The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, Brothers Grimm Clever Hans (the fairy tale), Clever Hans (the horse), War With The Newts by Karel Čapek, Excerpt from (Book Two – Up the Ladder of Civilisation), trephination, “there are some things man was not meant to know”, evil science and evil scientists, R.U.R., Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein is an egotist whereas the creature wants community, Chapter 11 of Frankenstein, intellect vs. empathy, “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of knowledge which I sought.”, the ideology of intelligence is suspect, Gulliver’s Travels, Laputa, philosophers, The Clouds by Aristophanes, “head in the clouds”, BBC Radio dramatization of Lysistrata, The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle, “the big bang”, telepathy, Gregg Margarite, “Genius in not a biological phenomenon.”, “stupid people can have smart babies and smart people can have stupid babies”, eugenics, sterilization programs, “we know so little about what we mean by intelligence”, “we breed against the outliers”, “If I see further than others it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants”, Sir Isaac Newton, Newton vs. Leibniz, Darwin vs. Wallace vs. Darwin’s grandfather, Robert A. Heinlein, “steam engine time”, Columbus and the egg, humans (persons) can compound our intelligence, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Charly, “we shouldn’t define humanity by our intelligence”, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, flowers from Weena, “fundamental humanity has to do with emotion and not intelligence”, He, She and It by Marge Piercy, programming a robot with stories, Yod is a robot-like golem, “it was immoral to create a conscious weapon”, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Eric is the world’s least reliable critic of The Doomsday Book, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, philosophy of science, the meaning of weapon, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, tool vs. weapon, “we have one mad scientist after another”, Gojira!, Ozymandias, Watchmen, Understand by Ted Chiang, “talking to babies”, “if everyone in the world around you is an idiot…what kind of relationship can you have with the world”, His Masters Voice by Stanisław Lem, Hogarth is an incredibly intelligence person, Edgar Allan Poe, Audible Frontier’s Solaris: The Definite Edition, The Futurological Congress, Isaac Asimov, Eric puts on his professorial hat, nous, the etymology of the word “intelligence”, Asimov reads between the lines for you, the etymology of the word “stupid”, what’s with the word “sentient” in Science Fiction?, Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, ansible, “sentience is the bag that we put all our coding for equally human”, was Larry Niven the prime promulgator of the SF version of “sentience”?, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, “words are a map on the world”, The Time Machine, evolution and the clash of the classes, Wells respects the intelligence of his readers, Morlocks vs. Eloi, the King James version of the Bible, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani“, Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories, “whizz bang sensofwunda”, The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells, “the warp drive is not important”, “the ansible is not important”, “we are all time travelers”, “in Wells’ greatest works he leaves some part of the story open”, “but whether this was a reprieve for us or them only time will tell”, Experiment In Autobiography by H.G. Wells, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”, Friedrich Schiller, reporters became cynical now they just go see what’s happening on Facebook, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth is public domain, much of Kornbluth is PD because he died so young, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, Idiocracy, stupid people have lots of (stupid) babies (?), what’s wrong with The Marching Morons?, PLENTY!, “The Marching Chinese”, Thomas Robert Malthus, eugenics and dysgenics, what ties do genetics and intelligence have?, a very high fraction of American presidents have been left handed, immigrant groups produce terrific comedians, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, storing up ideas for my “word hoard”.

The Marching Chinese

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #112 – AUDIOBOOK: The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #112 – a complete and unabridged reading of The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth. It is wonderfully narrated for us by William Coon of Eloquent Voice.

The Marching Morons is a Science Fiction novella written by Cyril M. Kornbluth, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction’s April 1951 issue. It has been famously anthologized in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two (B).

The story is set hundreds of years in the future: the date is 7-B-936. Its protagonist is John Barlow, a man from the past put into suspended animation by a freak accident involving a dental drill and anesthesia. He is revived in a dystopic future where the dysgenic breeding of humans has, in combination with intelligent people not having many children, overwhelmingly populated the world with morons. An elite few non-idiots must work slavishly to keep the world productive. Barlow, who was a shrewd con man in his day, has a solution to sell to the elite.

In his introduction to The Best Of C.M. Kornbluth Frederik Pohl explains some of the inspiration to The Marching Morons. Apparently the work was written after Pohl suggested that Kornbluth write a follow-up story to The Little Black Bag (a classic Kornbluth short story). In contrast to the “little black bag” arriving in the past from the future, Kornbluth wanted to write about a man arriving in the future from the past. To explain sending a man to the future, Kornbluth borrowed from David Butler’s Just Imagine (1930) science fiction film in which a man is struck by lightning, trapped in suspended animation, and reanimated in the future.”

The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth - illustrated by Don Sibley

The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth - illustrated by Don Sibley

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #073

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #073 – Jesse talks with Luke Burrage and Gregg Margarite about the Audible Frontiers/Brilliance Audio audiobook of Earth Abides by George R. Stewart!

Talked about on today’s show:
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, New York City, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the best post-apocalyptic novel, a lost classic, a calm method of exposition, a student of history, Isherwood Williams, very vivid and deeply imagined, how do you define Science Fiction?, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, philosophical nuts and bolts, the central crisis is left unexplained, the science in Earth Abides, “I understand people better after reading this book”, breeding cycles, Hard Biological Science Fiction, the disappearance of lice, overpopulation of the Earth, is it the author speaking or is it the main character?, ecology, there was no will to power, only a will to live, Baruch Spinoza, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, I can’t believe how long it took the guy to get to the library!, “how to render game”, “there’s lots of library love in this book”, “we’re not going to be the people that we were”, “the characters had to be ignorant out of laziness”, 1947, going to university, mediocrity is well loved, “why is dumb so cool?”, only people who are intelligent enough to ask the question…, does genius beget genius?, is intelligence particularly related to genetics?, nature/nurture, eugenics, is intelligence a particular interest rather than something in the brain?, superior interest vs. superior brainpower, Evie, finding the test, the IQ test, the observer’s position in the universe, “do you think what the government did to Alan Turing was wrong?”, the Apple logo inspired by Alan Turning’s suicide?, snopes.com, I knew I wanted to be friends with Gregg Margarite, LibriVox.org, the San Fransisco tribe, you cannot spoil this book, WWII, cargo cults, “would you ever be a member of a cargo cult?”, Montezuma and Quetzalcoatl, The Gods Must Be Crazy, religion, superstition, pinch your God, if God lived on earth people would break his windows, tribal sociological phenomena, the role of chiefs, the most interesting book about pinching I’ve ever read, “heartwarming pinching”, reading, despondence and acceptance, what does it really matter if humanity is dead?, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, intellectual arguments vs. emotional arguments, it’s very rare to be emotionally affected (to tears) by a book, narrator Jonathan Davis, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, one of the best narrations that I’ve heard, Mike Resnick‘s Starship series, Star Wars, Connie Willis‘ introduction to Earth Abides, Deep Six by Jack McDevitt, “always skip over the introduction”, where does Isherwood’s name come from?, forgetting your own name, the character of Jack, I don’t read for characters, Isherwood thinks he’s an intellectual, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Dafoe, The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, “I would have taken out Electromechanical Engineering“, Emm and Ezra, Charlie, George (the carpenter/plumber), “even his dog (Princess)”, a friend’s quiz, people are not just what they know or what they read, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, “society is all the different bits and humanity is all the different bits”, adopting leaves as a currency, maybe the whole of Douglas Adams should be treated like a religious text, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is a book about itself, Doctor Who, the dish of the day, other themes in Earth Abides, racism in Lucifer’s Hammer, what race is Emma?, does it matter?, the last American, people who are racist are people talk about race, race is a sociological idea, race is something – but it is not science, “I don’t live the history”, “they need to have somebody who are below them on the ladder”, Fox News, ideological reasons for watching TV, Glenn Beck is Mormon, Mormons believe that the Constitution of the United States was “divinely inspired”, his country is part of his ideology, the reason Orson Scott Card hates gays is because of his belief system, newspapers still have an Astrology section, there is no hegemony in Earth Abides, individuals interacting with one another, “people abide”, are you born of another?, matriarchy vs. patriarchy, “Is it a talisman? a totem? It’s single jack!”, “the power to destroy and drive in a nail”, a genius accident, the word “jack” means “doer”, Jack Bauer, semiotics, Jesus freaks vs. religious freaks, separating the voice of the author from the voice of the main character, The Last Man On Earth, The Last Man On Earth Blog, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, Life After People, George R. Stewart wrote a biography of Bret Harte, Harte is far more complex than Louis L’Amour, Oakland, Mark Twain, recording for LibriVox.org, 2BOR02B by Kurt Vonnegut, we all know that Science Fiction has been carrying this burden, iambik audio, recording a 600 page book on the road, $1000 microphone, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, The Ego Machine by Henry Kuttner, the Del Rey “best of” books, The Best Of Jack Williamson, Frederick Pohl, Luke rates Earth Abides 4.5 out of 5 stars, “it’s good because it’s not very good in this way”, did it achieve what it set out to accomplish, The Incredible Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, we are thoroughly impressed, Earth Abides is 13 CDs 15 Hours, time passing, the loss of reading, is literacy in and of itself a good?, giving the book away, separating technique from practical skills, bull dodging, Make Room, Make Room by Harry Harrison, Soylent Green, get Charlton Heston out of your head but keep Edward G. Robinson, The Omega Man, potential upcoming SFFaudio Readalongs, Ubik by Philip K. Dick, The Man In The High Castle, Do Andoids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, Valis, The Transmigration Of Timothy Archer and The Divine Invasion, Leo Tolstoy, the philosophy of art, “the only true art is folk art”, art is an abbreviation of the word artifact, a nuclear bomb is art to me, labor intensive art, venus figures, craft vs. art, I don’t think art has a place in this book?, I’m pretty sure something is going on about art in this book, I see similarities between petroglyphs and Pollock, maybe I was wrong, are we post structuralist, Duchamp, Aristotle’s Poetics, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, David Lynch’s Dune, Laurel and Hardy, Gilligan and the Skipper, Akira Kurosawa, George R. Stewart basically invented the disaster novel, Ordeal By Hunger by George R. Stewart (available from Blackstone Audio).

Posted by Jesse Willis

MIND SLASH MATTER AUDIOBOOK at AUCTION~check it out

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I’ve put this very rare audiobook up to auction. It’s our very last copy (perhaps the last sealed copy on Earth). It got an excellent review from my son Jesse Willis…

See the review HERE – then please go bid on it at:


http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370200836661

THIS IS AN EXTREMELY RARE AUDIOBOOK. It is Out Of Print and very hard to find, the publisher is also out of business so it won’t be reprinted. This audiobook was published in 1995 and is amazingly STILL SEALED IN ITS ORIGINAL PACKAGING. It is in absolutely perfect condition. This is a 2 cassette audiobook and is UNABRIDGED (approx running time of 180 minutes).

And to quote Jesse’s review:

“For a straight reading – no music, no voice effects – this is perfect. Cover art is a little hard to decipher but is adequate. To top it all off, Mind Slash Matter was, until recently, only available only as an audiobook. Such an amazing story and straight to audio!”

Posted by Elaine Willis