The SFFaudio Podcast #717 – READALONG: Binary by Michael Crichton

Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Cora Buhlert talk about Binary by Michael Crichton

Talked about on today’s show:
1972, John Lange, hardcovers vs. paperback originals, a slim volume, 4 hours 26 minutes, the kind of paperback novel that made Jesse love novels, modern novel form is very big, as Michael Crichton’s career went on his books got bigger and bigger, market concerns, the price of paper, trilogies, sequels, the 70s, 50s, 60s, between 5 and 3 hours, Drug Of Choice, the Hard Case Crime reprints, this book really cooked, 19th century, 20th century, 21st century, beat beat beat beat and we’re done, a technothriller, a ticking time bomb, Tom Clancy, to pad it out, technical details, operation manuals for submarines, obvious mistakes, technobabble, a teaser for another book, 220 pages, The Hunt For Red October, the most iconic of technothrillers, German teachers in high school, a hardcore communist who loved The Hunt For Red October, leftist radicals, Stephen King-shaming, a terrible person, Amercian far-right conservative, published by Mabel Institute Press, not aimed to be a popular success, not suited to be a popular success, this little book from this naval press, the Harpoon board game, computer game strategy, Harpoon the novel, very much interested in the power of the Soviet Union, high-tech tech, appreciate the Soviet space program, similarly: Dune, famously not published in a mainstream press, Chilton, car repair manuals, a fixup, Gideon Marcus, nobody wanted to do Dune, the format, a 70s crime book, Donald E. Westlake, the Westlake in here, 1957, Russian translators, world communism, Russia and China, Graves worked for two years in the Army, the state department, 1959, on Senator Westlake’s staff, tuckerized, the movie, Crichton didn’t write the script, his first film (a TV movie), the dialogue is straight out of the book, a train in the book a truck in the film, for cost reasons, Ben Gazara isn’t the man of action, Steve Graves, John Wright, John Gray, John Lange, in a novel you can handle that, it could be confusing, doing that on purpose, right in the title, they are mirrors to each other, misunderstanding, diluting the binary aspect, adaptations are interpretations, the entirety of the original plot, being forced reconcile the entire thing, a ticking clock, minus 16 hours, plus 16 hours, a very Michael Crichton move, a great film director as well as a great writer, the ex-travel agency scene, Phelps and the John, one of those guys gets a name: Stark, Crichton knows who his daddy is, Peter Graves, Phelps, Mission: Impossible, a visual reader, 1966, the reboot in the 1980s, the Tom Cruise movies, a team thing, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Star Trek, tech genius, almost no descriptions, how stripped down this is, very simple, seeing the end sequence set piece, a more modern take on this, Speed (1994), 3 (or 4) action sequences, taking the room from outside, the counter-agent, matter-of-factly, all a sham (sort of), not be blown up, not be gassed, the container is combustible, very simple and slick, Crichton’s writing is flawless, the psychological stuff, I’ve got this idea of a binary relationship, the bomb, the characters, the antidote, so many little things, two canisters, 75 and 76, driving around in the cars, 107 and 106, separated by one digit, what the psychiatrist thought of his answers to the Rorschach test, visiting his psychiatrist, Martin Sheen plays the hacker, home computers are not a thing yet, insurance underwriter, very high tech, a period piece, enough phone lines, hack the defense department, the technology of the time, Rorschach testing children, pictures of butterflies, a man who’s just finished killing his friend and now he feels sad, no obvious mistakes, it’s perfect, the video where the condemned was gassed, the French were guillotining people, firing squads, gas chambers, experiments that the Nazis did, a cool new nerve gas, North Korea, Cora’s skepticism, NASA Nazis, not quite that lethal, eliminating all of San Diego, a concentrated urban core, New York, he’s not trying to kill lots of people, he’s trying to eliminate the Republican Party, collateral damage, things are very divided, December 1972, it’s supposed to be Richard Nixon, Watergate, political scandals, foreign work, his focus is changing from foreign to domestic, Operation Mockingbird, domestic threats, tailing communists and soviets vs. tailing a businessman, domestic terrorism in Germany, the Committee To Re-elect the President, the suffix “gate”, G. Gordon Liddy, psychological records for the president’s enemy, Nixon’s cover-up was for something very similar, personal knowledge Crichton had, the stealing of opposition research, where the scandal was made public and there was a resignation, third-rate, portable wireless microphones, well funded, if you retire from the FBI you still have all those old contacts, old passwords, Graves likes the game too much, immoral and illegal, surveillance is questionable, 24 logic, Counter Terrorism Unit, spinning up possible threats, the Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot, almost all of them were FBI informants, banning a political party, half the party are informers, a strange situation, the more you encourage this sort of thing, one guy came up with a plan to blow up an airplane with his shoes, a “batshit” plot, binary liquids, liquid explosives in the plane toilet, more than 3 ounces, security theater, to annoy people vs. to control people, mixing shampoo and handcream to make sarin gas, Larry Niven spinning up scenarios, foreign agents get training in the USA to crash airplanes into the USA, done in real life, Japanese kamikaze attacks, Stukas, In The Line Of Fire (1993), a plastic gun, cat and mouse game, how to think outside the box, roadblocks, the dead man behind the grave, clockwork implications, his will continued beyond the grave, E.G. Marshall, a baddie, he started his own political movement, Absolute Power by David Baldacci, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, a remix of Watergate with a sex scandal in the center, an attempted rape and an accidental murder, a lecherous Nixon, E.G. Marshall tries to kill the president again (and succeeds), what was weird about Watergate is that it came out, done ALL THE TIME, not that bad of a president, ended the Vietnam War, Willy Brandt, a social democrat, an angry letter to the party, the wife was sent to prison, deported to East Germany, their dad was a spy, why people would be so angry, a more modern analogy, foreign policy vs. domestic policy, starting the War on Drugs, paranoia, Shakespearian, in today’s politics, the 45th president, a foreign agency, the end of the Union, a terrible president, incompetent is a compliment, people who are happy Hillary Clinton is making noises like she was going to run again, the gerontocracy, batshit, a completely incompetent government, a cabinet of horrors, the Secretary of Justice, newer COVID measures, the Undersecretary of Culture, an anti-Semitic exhibit, ex-Nazis, what John W[r]ight’s motivation, perhaps you think that a few people have power, everyone is locked into a system that he has inherited, the century of impotence, inability to act, inability to be effective, the invocation of God, psychological not political reasons, Americans For A Better Nation (and extremist group), no significance in national politics, $1.7 million, just barely paying attention, doodling, 49 years old, a very strange child, mathematics, inveterate gambler, the assembled men began to fidget, New York from Pittsburgh, who does this remind you of?, six months nervous breakdown, paranoid ideation and feelings of impotence, he can’t get it up, erectile dysfunction, he’s right wing and thought Nixon betrayed, Wright murdered his wife, a car bomb, a Texas oil bomb, a shift in orientation for state intelligence, the number 55 man in the Black Panthers, the John Birch society, what do these three organizations have in common, political parties trying to change things, racism, they want a better nation, they’re on him like glue, terrorist attack, hey i’m trying to get your attention, weird purchases, he knows he’s being trailed, put the puzzle pieces together, The Riddler, a Batman villain, the Zodiac Killer, the smartest man in the room, Jack the Ripper, real-life serial killers, raping and killing women, elderly prostitutes, the terrible smell, keeping chopped up women in his attic, The Golden Glove (2019), the toughest bar in Hamburg, three movies about Ted Bundy, make a buck, he’s trying to kill himself, John Graves is going to bring him to his grave, suicide by cop, a particular frustration with life, a dignified way to make your life have meaning (by doing something political), John Graves is a mirror to John Wright, he can’t stop the game, escape to some beach country (Jamaica), at the airport, the caretaker was black, Hard Case Crime covers, a 1970s shampoo ad, the most interesting parts, a single woman in a speaking role, on the night before he’s going to do the big deed they “made it three times”, Crichton trained as a doctor, a little bit of psychology, a delightful enjoyable read, because of the era, his later long long books and sequel books, raw paperback novel style storytelling, limited to the length of the paperbacks on the spinner racks at the drugstore, a Weird Tales in the 1930s, a paperback in the 1970s, the time to go to the drugstore, cheap aspirin, mostly romance, racks, the latest political biography, the airport bookstore, lots of bestsellers, a book about magical rituals, Amsterdam, Detroit, vaguely readable, a Battletech novel, dime novels, pulp novels, 64 pages, Country Style Living, Drug Of Choice, Dealing, a shadowy corporation, it sounds good, let’s do it!, 166 pages, Brilliance Audio (owned by Amazon/Audible), Easy Go, a tomb book, Odds On, Zero Cool, The Venom Business, Grave Descend, thirty year highschool reunion, Hugo nominations, a good excuse to move up on Cora’s reading pile, on the sched, the copyright page, John Lange asserts the moral right, copyright renewed by Michael Crichton, he got his moral, copyright extension ending, for Jasper Johns (whose preoccupation provided solutions), little bits that relate, Angry Robot books, a tiny little easter egg, 208 pages, a book about the artist, later Crichton books, a real intellect, he’s not a fake, his clean writing, very tall and very smart, director, medical doctor, a renaissance man, you hear things about books, until you read it for yourself…, 1940s science fiction stories, Galactic Journey, received knowledge, good works have been forgotten, anthologists, people who need to be championed and people who had too many champions, L. Ron Hubbard had far too big a champion, Margaret St. Clair didn’t have kids, champions for garbage and orphans for everything else, Michael Crichton’s kids, most didn’t copyright renew, trademark, Doctor Mabuse, Cora’s modern Mabuse, trademark has to be enforced, the French Conan, Robert E. Howard, The Cimmerian, the American ones are pretty bad, just go with the title of the story, they’ll lie, Conan Properties International, Fred Malmberg, Brandon Sanderson, corporations are worse than estates, suck blood, backup stories for The Shadow, work for hire, James Patterson, Darkman (1990), Tim Curry, The Spider, Marvel will publish a one-shot, DC’s Unknown Soldier, they’re just not into it, that’s how they enforce the trademark, a Captain America movie in the 80s, the Spider-Man movies, the early Fantastic Four movie, an actor or a scriptwriter working on a a movie not for release, shit work, the opposite of getting a camera and going out in the woods vs. contractual obligation (to preserve profits), the horror we’re trying to avoid at all costs.

PAN - Binary by Michael Crichton

PURSUIT (1972) TV movie

HARD CASE CRIME - Binary by Michael Crichton

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

JAMES BOND: Doctor No by Ian Fleming

Aural Noir: Online Audio

Doctor No art from a paperback edition

ca·lyp·so – /kəˈlɪpsoʊ/ – a musical style of West Indian origin, influenced by jazz, usually having topical, often improvised, lyrics.

I’ve only been the Caribbean once. But I still greatly feel its tropical magnetism. Ian Fleming did too. The first James Bond film, Doctor No was set in Jamaica. It’s where Ian Fleming lived and where he wrote Doctor No. I think he really brought the flavour of the Caribbean to the story. Throw in a mysterious Chinese, a yellow peril type, complete with fire-breathing dragon – and that’s entertainment folks!

When you think about it, Doctor No has just about everything a James Bond movie would later come to epitomize. First, there’s the exotic locale, Jamaica! Then there’s the titular villain with a body quirk, Doctor No has functional metal hands. And finally there’s the beautiful and headstrong woman, Honey Rider. Her first appearance, on screen, is perhaps the best known scene in any James Bond movie. As we first meet this enterprising shell collector she’s singing a song to herself on the beach. It’s a calypso tune that goes … “Underneath the mango tree me honey and me…” |MP3|

Now while that’s a great scene, the original novel ain’t no slouch either. Check out the unabridged reading by Simon Vance…

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Doctor No by Ian FlemingDr. No
By Ian Fleming; Read by Simon Vance
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 7 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2001
ISBN: 9781433258572 (cd), 9780786190720 (mp3-cd)
Sample |MP3|
M called this case a soft option. Bond can’t quite agree. The tropical island is luxurious, the seductive Honey Rider is beautiful and willing. But they are both part of the empire of Dr. No. The doctor is a worthy adversary, with a mind as hard and cold as his solid steel hands. Dr. No’s obsession is power. His only gifts are strictly pain-shaped.

In the novel, “Honeychile Rider” is described as “Botticelli’s Venus as seen from behind.” The movie has her in a bikini, in the novel she’s nude, except for a belt. In the movie she’s singing “Underneath The Mango Tree,” in the novel she’s whistling “Marianne.” Fleming describes “Marianne” as “a plaintive little Calypso that has now been cleaned up and made famous outside Jamaica.”

And it’s “Marianne” that’s used in the most recent incarnation of the Doctor No story, the BBC audio dramatization! And, in case you were wondering, it returns Honeychile to the nude.

I really like the movie, and the novel is definitely up there, but for me, now that I’ve heard it, the 2008 BBC audio dramatization of Doctor No is now my preferred version. It has that, sense of place, that a film gives, it plays up the mystery element, (which the movie downplays) and compresses the narrative with a “show, don’t tell” way that good audio drama really excels at.

I got a copy from RadioArchive.cc. The uploader there describes the audio dramatization like this:

Ian Fleming was never satisfied by the movie world’s take on James Bond. This dramatisation by Hugh Whitemore would meet with his approval as it is so faithful to the original novel. Bond, played here by Toby Stephens, is a wistful, vulnerable man as much as he is a fabulously fit and sexy hero. We hear him throwing up with fear after being crawled upon by a giant killer centipede, for example, which would never have done for Sean Connery. But both script and performances are true to Fleming’s vision of Bond.

And of course once you start looking into the actors biographies you start seeing all sorts of fascinating connections. Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s neice plays a role. Toby Stephens has been in a Bond film and John Standing, who plays “M”, came from the family that owned Bletchley Park (the ultimate in espionage HQs if there ever was one)!

Now read a couple more of the listener reviews:

“Were this a movie, David Suchet [playing Dr. No] could have seriously expected an Oscar nomination, best Bond villain in any medium ever. Fantastic production all in all.”

“A splendid, sharp, slick adaptation, very faithful to Fleming’s writing. Makes you wonder why BBC hasn’t tackled more of these. And Toby Stephens is terrific as Bond.”

BBC Radio 4: Doctor No RADIO DRAMA - From left to right Nicky Henson, Martin Jarvis, John Standing, Janie Dee, Toby Stephens and Peter Capaldi

BBC Radio 4Dr. No
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Adapted by Hugh Whitemore; Performed by a full cast
Broadcast – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play
Broadcast: May 24, 2008
Provider: RadioArchive.cc
Bond is sent to investigate a strange disappearance on the island of Jamaica, and discovers that the heart of the mystery lies with a sinister recluse known as ‘Dr No’.

Cast:
‘M’ …… John Standing
Moneypenny …… Janie Dee
James Bond ……Toby Stephens
The Armourer …… Peter Capaldi
Chief of Staff …… Nicky Henson
Airport Announcer/Receptionist/Inika …… Leigh Wright
Airport Official/Pus-Feller/Henchman …… Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Quarrel …… Clarke Peters
Miss Chung/ Sister Lily …… Kosha Engler
Pleydell Smith …… Samuel West
Miss Taro/Telephonist/ Sister May/Tennis girl …… Jordanna Tin
Librarian …… Lucy Fleming
Honey Rider …… Lisa Dillon
Guard/Henchman/Crane Driver …… Jon David Yu
Dr No …… David Suchet
Acting Governor of Jamaica …… Simon Williams
Voice of Ian Fleming …… Martin Jarvis

Crew:
Music by Mark Holden and Samuel Barbour
Producer Rosalind Ayres
Director Martin Jarvis

DOCTOR NO - The People In This Story - From the Macmillian Readers Edition

PAN - Doctor No by Ian Fleming

[via Dictionary.com, BondMovies.com, Illustrated007 and Audible.com]
Posted by Jesse Willis