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

Podcast

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

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

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

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

Personal Helicon
by Seamus Heaney

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

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

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The SFFaudio Podcast #466 – READALONG: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #466 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa, talk about Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

Talked about on today’s show:
clones, doppelgangers, eidolons, 2014, the 2018 movie, gifting the book, Finch, City Of Saints And Madmen, new weirdness, The New Weird, The Weird, appreciating the book, appreciating the movie, understanding why people talk about the book and the movie the way they do, justifying their ratings, framing it wrong, the Wikipedia entry, The New Yorker, Area X as a hyperobject, Paul would know, big dumb object, Ringworld, Rama, going into it and experiencing it, the original and the interpretation, what?!!?, better experienced as audiobook, the cool thing about the audio version (it is ephemeral), you can’t skip or skim sex scenes, a dream like quality to the words, pronunciation, how things read on the page, The Man Who Japed, juveniles = Juvenal(s), fucking with the reader by changing the text in a kind of fungal growth, experimental, fairly successful, not easily digestible, the book is a manifestation of Area X itself, screwing with the readers’ heads, Alex Garland, seeing the movie first and then reading the book, Blade Runner: 2049, the theater experience, the painful trauma of childbirth, Sunshine, a science fiction movie that doesn’t care about science at all, Ex Machina, nuking the sun back into starting?, the metaphor for Sunshine, not a good idea for a movie, Solar Crisis (1990), Hard Sun, doing good things with bad ideas, not a perfect movie, interpretation, we can’t do that, narrator, from an internal point of view, a kind of version, inspired by, the book is all about words, no big piles of documents to read, The Man In the High Castle show, pointing to something without saying what it is, an art film for a mainstream audience, Andrei Tarkovsky, expectations, characters with names, outside of Area X, setting expectations, imagine its a different expedition, the tower the tunnel, Steen, what do you remember about it?, it’s “this kind of book”, no proper nouns in the whole book, signposts on your journey, taking down all the signposts, a sign there’s no signposts, an initial “S”, Ghostbird, Area 51, a word you use in place of a word, Operation Overlord, H-Hour, D-Day, designed to prevent you from knowing, in the mode, shift gears, losing your spot, so dreamlike, hypnotic, hypnosis, as a trope, hypnosis was huge in Science Fiction for decades, not a Science Fiction book, who likes this book, literary fiction, very lit-fic, horror elements, weird fiction, a reworking of The Willows, inspired by Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Conan Doyle, Supernatural Horror In Literature, something more than secret murder and bloody bones, a certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer unknown forces, the assaults of chaos and the demons of unplumbed space, an attack on the fixed laws of nature, a wrinkle in reality, what’s it like to experience that, if you squint a little bit, a metaphor for the scientific process, scientists, AR-15 or M-16s, a nod back to the book, everybody has one, the same uniform, a military expedition but twisted in a certain sense, the second and third books, cancer as a motivation, the disintegrating marriage, having an affair, pathetic and sad, set a little bit into the future, any evidence that it is set into the future, everything in the book is completely without specificity, he went through it with a comb and took away information, the word Lovecraft loves to use “certain”, a great adjective, the pig creature is a bear in the movie, Vietnam War upside down and inside out, the biologist is in love with the swimming pool, the characters in the film are cannon fodder, the conversation in the boat, taking away the centrality of character, a framing story, Benedict Wong, the tie-up scene, her fingerprints are moving, a lift from The Thing (1982), paranoia and suspicion, really bullshit, they’re all on Xanax, passion about biology and ecosystems, we only see the Xanaxed version on the characters in the film, we don’t see what the love, sympathy isn’t enough, evoking place, the black pine forest, a derelict lighthouse, untroubled landscape, Florida or the Georgia coast, filmed in England, cool ideas, Southern Reach, SR, an institution, two things that don’t tell you what they are, the same time zone, a lack of specificity,

“After leaving Vienna, and long before you come to Budapest, the Danube enters a region of singular loneliness and desolation, where its waters spread away on all sides regardless of a main channel, and the country becomes a swamp for miles upon miles, covered by a vast sea of low willow-bushes. On the big maps this deserted area is painted in a fluffy blue, growing fainter in color as it leaves the banks, and across it may be seen in large straggling letters the word Sumpfe, meaning marshes.”

the crawler, the thing without the name, the Swede, the narrator’s name, as if he is in the room, utterly transformed, just that, I am not returning home,

“See,” he said quietly, “the victim that made our escape possible!”

And when I peered across his shoulder I saw that his stick rested on the body of a man. He turned it over. It was the corpse of a peasant, and the face was hidden in the sand. Clearly the man had been drowned, but a few hours before, and his body must have been swept down upon our island somewhere about the hour of the dawn—at the very time the fit had passed.

“We must give it a decent burial, you know.”

“I suppose so,” I replied. I shuddered a little in spite of myself, for there was something about the appearance of that poor drowned man that turned me cold.

The Swede glanced up sharply at me, an undecipherable expression on his face, and began clambering down the bank. I followed him more leisurely. The current, I noticed, had torn away much of the clothing from the body, so that the neck and part of the chest lay bare.

Halfway down the bank my companion suddenly stopped and held up his hand in warning; but either my foot slipped, or I had gained too much momentum to bring myself quickly to a halt, for I bumped into him and sent him forward with a sort of leap to save himself. We tumbled together on to the hard sand so that our feet splashed into the water. And, before anything could be done, we had collided a little heavily against the corpse.

The Swede uttered a sharp cry. And I sprang back as if I had been shot.

At the moment we touched the body there rose from its surface the loud sound of humming—the sound of several hummings—which passed with a vast commotion as of winged things in the air about us and disappeared upwards into the sky, growing fainter and fainter till they finally ceased in the distance. It was exactly as though we had disturbed some living yet invisible creatures at work.

My companion clutched me, and I think I clutched him, but before either of us had time properly to recover from the unexpected shock, we saw that a movement of the current was turning the corpse round so that it became released from the grip of the willow roots. A moment later it had turned completely over, the dead face uppermost, staring at the sky. It lay on the edge of the main stream. In another moment it would be swept away.

The Swede started to save it, shouting again something I did not catch about a “proper burial”—and then abruptly dropped upon his knees on the sand and covered his eyes with his hands. I was beside him in an instant.

I saw what he had seen.

For just as the body swung round to the current the face and the exposed chest turned full towards us, and showed plainly how the skin and flesh were indented with small hollows, beautifully formed, and exactly similar in shape and kind to the sand-funnels that we had found all over the island.

“Their mark!” I heard my companion mutter under his breath. “Their awful mark!”

And when I turned my eyes again from his ghastly face to the river, the current had done its work, and the body had been swept away into mid-stream and was already beyond our reach and almost out of sight, turning over and over on the waves like an otter.

all the evidence is gone, the explanation in the movie is as much The Colour Out Of Space as it is the novel Annihilation, 12 expeditions, the shimmer is gone, possibilities, the asteroid, something extraterrestrial struck the lighthouse, the “S” word, he’s not her husband, he’s the duplicate, the shimmer in the eyes, more subtle, the thing he’s doing, a comet, meteorite, dwarf planets and planets, Ceres, a meteorite vs. comet, the object is white, aiming at something, the earth is a giant egg and the comet is a sperm, a tunnel and tower, slipping into Eric Rabkin mode, designed to be seen in the unconsciousness (if not the consciousnesses), a tunnel and a tower, becoming a being, fungus all over the walls is white, cell division, an egg developing into a person, cancer, ovarian cancer, the all women cast!, what is it like to have a being growing inside of you that is a mutation of you, the childless relationship, off to fight in Pakistan again, reunited, the happy ending is a new beginning, isn’t pregnancy scary, the real immortality cells can have, cancer vs. a baby, kinds of immortality, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the film works at what it’s doing, the movie is a prism for the book, a very filmic version of the book, it couldn’t be an audio drama, very very very metaphorical, a comic book version, in the backgrounds, Alex Garland’s story, the words scrawled in the tower/tunnel,

“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dimlit halls of other places forms that never were and never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who never saw what could have been. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit—and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive. And there shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy from which shall blossom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passing of an age. That which dies shall still know life in death for all that decays is not forgotten and reanimated it shall walk the world in the bliss of not-knowing. And then there shall be a fire that knows the naming of you, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you that remains.”

dreamlike biblical word salad, going to that church, its just weird, negative reviews of the book, you’re never going to get an explanation, very meta, the narration is unreliable, or the universe is unreliable, she’s in a coma, none of this is happening, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, Providence, seeing sexuality in everything, Rapunzel is only a sex story, hair growth like plant growth, a retelling of the Garden of Eden, underneath a lot of stuff is sex, about the cosmic, makes Jesse sad, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows, a big stream of white cats up to the Moon, a sex dream, once you start looking, what it makes us different from rocks, the formation of rocks, we can’t compare ourselves to electrons, not mammal sex, why that weird world salad sentence, a tunnel, spiraling, a helix, just words, words are magic in the same way that genes are magic, let’s write some words, what does it mean?, certain coding, creating and casting a spell, speech-writing, amino acids into creatures who build and use firetrucks, this is literally Marissa’s job, where the spell is breaking, a piece of tape, seeing the book as a text in reference to texts and weird fiction, the word “thing”, that’s why the word shows up in so many weird fiction stories, uncanny horror, between fantasy and science fiction, body horror, Re-Animator, coming back to life as parts, seeing those fruiting bodies on the dead corpses, let’s take some samples, guts fall out, the more Marissa learns about biology the more grossed out she gets, designed to, very very movie, intestines, fear, scary gross out scene, Aliens (1986), the perfect film movie for what it is, taking certain aspects of Alien and amps them up, Terminator 2 is a remake of Terminator, Hudson becomes the hero, switching over to science mode, horror mode, you’re allowed to switch around as much as you want, why so many love it and hate it, contamination story, pregnancy story, creeping dread, taking all that potential out, taking it as it is, watch the movies first, preferring the text, reading the subtitles, as a film the characters are Xanaxed humans, placing themselves in our reality, are you polishing your Pashtun?, grounding, the Southern Reach is a metaphor for the continual war on terror?, 17 years in, he should have made it a real art film, unrelatable, are we all 12 years old?, being talked down to, people on CNN, everything that isn’t set in the shimmer hurts the film, the environmental disaster, a military screw up, Stephen King (The Mist), angry at the movie, a slow creeping dread, so disappointing, the plants that look like people, the twinned dears with flower antlers, very excellent language, the hints about the journals, this is all in a journal, that’s the moment they knew the most, are they losing information, we start with more information, if you re-edited the film, we all lost time, this is the afterlife, this is dream state, if I was religious I would read everything that way, the pool, the pond, tower tunnel, how her husband was traumatized by something in childhood and it was a film, the shownotes for the Altered Carbon show, how memory works, how important childhood memory is for laying your personality down, what memories are even real, that was a different person, the crisis actor thing, misremembered, .005% error margin, interrupting an attempted murder, strangling and cover in blood, missing limbs, the screaming thing in the bushes, self-reinforcing, the spiral of words, in 10 or 20 years, Authority by Jeff VanderMeer, an agency in dysfunction, Kafkaesque, so mundane, The Castle, in second person, sudden jarring cries, dripping out, the, the movie poster’s tagline “fear what’s inside”, psychological head-space fear, flowers sprouting from her arms, the better parts of the film, filmic explanation, the anthropologist in the tunnel/tower, the psychologist, did she lie?, that’s a story, the story doesn’t make sense as a straight up story, hypnosis as used in Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, very science fictional, The Parasite by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, [Jesse has already done a show on it], a decent movie and an even more interesting book, Marissa wants Jesse to read the sequels, a marketing gimmick, readings for podcasts, revisiting as a concept, three big pieces of a puzzle, what’s wrong with the word “spoiler” is the word has the opposite meaning (for Jesse), knowing more makes Jesse more interested, the lady goes off in a boat (maybe), and leave her journal behind (maybe), it would be much better as a found footage movie shot on videotape, shaky-cam, The Ritual (2017), four guys go out for a hike in the woods, a psychological haunting that happens, not being able to act, the psychology works amazingly better, Norse mythology, a hike movie (!) Marissa’s in!, Swedish mountains, we’ve been completely destroyed, why is called Annihilation?, special pleading, “nihil” means nothing and “a” means not – annihilation is a nothing of a nothing, titles are important, the trigger word, The Slithering Shadow by Robert A. Howard, something to talk about over beers, having something to do is really important in a world with no meaning, Jesse has nothing in common with his students, the only thing we really share is the text, before and after class, having that ritual of three interesting things, Matchstick Men, there’s no heaven, try to get through it until the cancer comes, less Xanax more coffee, The Voice In The Night by William Hope Hodgson, a becalment, do you have any food, a ship covered in fungus, an island covered in fungus, eating the fungus, becoming the fungus, the pool body,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #415 – READALONG: Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #415 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa, and Jenny Colvin discuss Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler

Talked about on today’s show:
Asimov’s Science Fiction, Mid-December 1983, longer forms, the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, the Patternist novels, the scene on the bus, Parable Of The Sower, Parable Of The Talents, Kindred, Sisters Of The Revolution, The Evening And The Morning And the Night, disease, bio Science Fiction, the virology labs, Xenogenesis trilogy, aliens, breeding humans, public transportation science fiction stories, Philip K. Dick, Los Angeles, The Commuter, Ray Bradbury, The Pedestrian, interacting with the public, The Chrysalids, The Day Of The Triffids, The Walking Dead, how this world got to be how it is, slowly interrogate, her central thesis: civilization = communication, how does the bus driver get paid?, what percentage of the population died?, a normal route, one guy is the bus system, how does Obsidian get paid?, paid in sex?, post-apocalypse reveling Jenny, the creepy smelly wordless cult leader, how many women could speak?, right handed men, feminism, creepy men creeping on women, play dumb and pack a gun, our zombies are different, unique special snowflake zombies, body language, was it the Soviets?, you think you’re better than me?, a perfect nightmare of Hell, the law of the jungle, Obsidian is mentally impaired, if there ever was going to be a TV adaptation they’d call it “The Silence”, au contraire, standing spear-carrier, a swapped languages Vietnam War movie [subsequent research turns up no evidence that this film exists], everyone else is an alien to everbody else in this world, romance as opposed to SF, not certain of her own impairment, memory, they just needed audiobooks, jibber-jabber speech sounds, it just meant nothing, dah dah dah, could you still speak?, when the deaf speak, if you can’t speak can you understand your own thoughts, strokes, aphasia, communication by singing, Oliver Sacks, the afterword, visiting her dying friend, popular science of the 1980s, a science fiction epidemic, being a lefty or a righty, the rage, so primal, primal instincts, you’re all hairless chimpanzees, pre-human, the one element of humanity is your name, book-cart or book-truck, books as fuel, cake or oven, a teacher and protector, Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, it was language that turned her around, savouring the words, society in general, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, The Iron Heel not the Iron Fist, limited intellect and language, the Red Death, life before the plague, the breakdown of society, pandemics empowering the lower classes, a liberation from the burden of history, chauffeur, taking on a harem, reconstructing the low being brought up, The Walking Dead, scavenging silently, a Garden Of Eden, so messy, blow it up and start fresh, divine retribution, like the Tower of Babel, bulldoze 2017 and start again, the toddlers are immune, the story is unfinished and we have to finish it for ourselves, the Rosetta Stone, deciphering Linear B (the language of the Minoans), how important illustrations are, Aztec and Mayan hieroglyphs, The Riddle Of The Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code by , talking to other book people, Reading Envy isn’t Reading Rage, transcribing music without the western music notation system, what happens next?, the music analogy, a hopeful story, a hopeful ending, book people are focused on the reading, burned abandoned buildings, sex in public, highly depopulated, women seeking protectors, maybe he’d meet someone else, sadness, if this was a TV show, how would deaf people be affected?, isn’t sign-language simply another language, H.G. Wells’ The Kingdom Of The Blind, is the gesturing center the same as the speech center?, fMRI, Letters To [Octavia] Butler, Letters To Triptree, bias and prejudice, how can people think like this?, using words in ways they can’t be used, using words as gestures, Twitter as the aggressive gesture, big ideas in a short space, a conspiracy that’s happening (long names on Twitter), seeing metaphors everywhere.

Speech Sounds by Octavia E. Butler

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #361 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #361 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, Mr Jim Moon, and Paul Weimer talk about The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges

Talked about on today’s show:
the dream of Bryan Alexander, the nightmare that is Paul, 1940, 1962, almost a disaster, this story hit them like ton of bricks, Frankenstein, disturbing, a simple plot, leading you in circles, rising action, the horrible Freytag pyramid, creating a person out of dreams, a Joseph Campbell plot, learning Spanish, listen to the negatives, no one was unaware that the silent man, the unanimous night, it claustrophobic cloaks, the beginning of Moby Dick, in The Garden Of Forking Path, Jeff Vandermeer’s Ambergris, the circularity of the text, there is no “collected works” of Borges, Broges’ translations, the language of doppelgangers, the father and son angle, a mediation on parenthood, a god of fire, if Eric Rabkin were here, Prometheus, realizing you’re a dream, a trapped figure in endless circularity, parenting, once the colour of fire and now that of ashes, a grey man under unknown leaves, tributaries of sleep, weaving a rope of sand, coining the faceless wind, a folkloric reference, a Cornish legend, The Lottery Of Babylon, the company knows all, a ruin of a religion that somehow comes true, the most difficult task a man could undertake, an infinite amount of time for the hairs on the arm, not the god of the bible, food and figs, a dream god, a hilarious line from Celephais, I’m a prodigious dreamer, a dream man who dreams a dream man into existence, a dream written down, meta accusations in the post modern school, a hero to post-modern thinkers, The Babylonian Lottery, where the Zend language, characteristics of a society, too much leprosy, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, the moonness was going above the river, the beautiful language of a dream, Voltaire’s Zadig, a fake Babylon, the book of Zend, The Library Of Babel, real world Greek, this river, bamboo canoe, other burned temples, H. Rider Haggard, double negative, Xenophon’s Anabasis, 10,000 mercenaries, epic adventure, populated or unpopulated, in the aftermath of disaster, Detroit, Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Rings, yet another abandoned village, The Warriors (1979), an optimistic version of New York, being a vegetarian, Frankenstein’s creature is a vegan, he’s got to dream some meat into being, this is Abel not Cain, where the story really gets cooking, his body is a temple, dialectic dreams, clouds of taciturn students, interpolate him into the real world, a man lecturing the clouds, The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds by Lawrence Block, seeing images in the clouds, people are like clouds in dreams, a two sided coin, the dialectics, dissection theater, in the Gnostic cosmogonies, a red Adam who cannot stand, the world was created by the demi-urge, Valis by Philip K. Dick, addendum to the creation story, Lilith, the red mercury story (a geopolitical urban legend), alchemical texts, a locked Wikipedia entry, the cold fusion of terrorism, a golem, a man made out of clay but without a soul, Adam of dust, Adam of dreams, the wizard is the dreamer, again Frankenstein, why would it have been better?, Edgar Allan Poe’s William Wilson, H.P. Lovecraft’s Hypnos, doppelganger fiction, mirrors, Borges’ philosophy of Poe’s Composition, the literary equivalent of Escher, more like Lovecraft than Dick, aristocratic families, grandparents who were big into books, loved suits, loved their hometowns, Buenos Aires, a love of reading, wrote about writing, letter writers, connected with their readers, strange visionary figures, gregarious men, authors confused (conflated) with his own characters, complex truth and curious parallels, beauty, meaning and the belief in the power of story, how we make sense of the universe and how we interpret knowledge, both seeking to blow minds, Borges read Lovecraft, There Are More Things by Jorge Luis Borges is dedicated to Lovecraft, arguing with Lovecraft, cosmic is the word (not eldritch) or dream, The Call of Cthulhu, interpolate connects us to Dick as well, a bit of sense data, we don’t see just by having the world come into our eyes, we also project, the story is not complete, filling in the steps between fire and grey, Dick, Borges, and Lovecraft are working the world in a different way showing us their dreams, what would a Borgesian city in Kadath (the Dreamlands) look like?, Inception is a Borgesian story, far more concreteized, a heist, the grey man kissed the mud, the blades which were lacerating his flesh, the brambles delacerated his flesh, where did the blades come from?, what is certain, there’s something on the bank injuring him (or the blades are in him already), the crown of thorns, the temple was crowned, from out of the south, almost biblical, interesting, the plaything of forces far greater than he can comprehend, mental terror, the incessant trees, obligation, inconsolable shriek, the birdless morning, the phoenix, the tiger is man, Tyger Tyger, horses as a symbol of force, power, dynamism, and nobility, horse or tiger, domesticated vs. wild, super enigmatic yet we know exactly what happened, the creation of the heart, the moon, fourteen lucid nights, from lucidity to obscurity?, meticulous love, to rectify it with a glance, invoking the name of a planet, Mars?, Venus?, Mercury?, it could be the penis, much more meticulous from, the innumerable hair was the most difficult task, full moon?, starting the cycle again, the circularity of the ruins, re circularity, a disc vs. an amphitheater, the geography of the Library of Babel, a torus, the bottom of an amphitheater, it’s a magic spell, Lovecraft fandom, Cthulhu prayer breakfast, Borges was the darling of the literary set when he was alive, the New American Library edition, Borges is still a god of modern literature, intertextuality, Borges’ made up quotes and citations, Ibid by H.P. Lovecraft, a parody of 19th century scholarship, the adventures of a man’s skull, groundhogs worshiping a skull as a deity, the sense of humour, S.T. Joshi, a classic schoolboy error, BBC Radio documentary, humour in Borges, loops and whorls, sophisticated humour, blades vs. brambles, Poe the prankster, Herman Melville, extraordinary sentences, puckish and wry, apotheosis.

The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges - illustrated by Jesse

The Circular Ruins by Jorge Luis Borges

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #312 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Soft by F. Paul Wilson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #312 – Soft by F. Paul Wilson; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (34 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
Humphrey Bogart, reading at school, Jesse’s job, Korean academy (Hagwon), enrichment, H.P. Lovecraft, writing poems about ghosts, Tiger moms, Korean Hogwarts, a period piece, the 5″ black&white TV screen, an emergency television?, a Casio LCD Walkman sized TV, body horror, tentacles, the rats are people?, a TV adaptation?, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, the ending, what’s happened to George, clinging to their immunity, two weighted drapes, repopulating the Earth, 1950s actors, Protecting Project Pulp, Sex Slaves Of The Dragon Tong, Edgar Rice Burroughs, pulp era racism, Edgar Allan Poe, black people are conspicuously absent from most of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, Poe’s only interested in the deaths of beautiful women, is F. Paul Wilson libertarian?, what happens after the story’s end?, not many are left alive, The Walking Dead, the empty city, i09’s apocalyptic, zombie stories, World War Z, a partial zombie story, the introduction from Between Time and Terror edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemianowicz, and Martin H. Greenberg, the allegorical treatment of the AIDS epidemic, New York City, Cary Grant, what is Brad Pitt’s catchphrase, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hidden McBain movie in The Simpsons, watching movies on TV, a rumpus room?, the dying living room, reviving the living room?, you’re all alone together, Merlin, so ’80s, the Star Wars movies, what happened?, ’70s movies are now incomprehensible, we need training to appreciate old movies, the difference between the Watchmen movie and the Watchmen comic, new RoboCop vs. old RoboCop, V For Vendetta, Hugo Weaving’s performance as V, Fred’s kids, they can never a Jedi be, Yoda is wrong about everything, Dr. Smith from Lost In Space, David Brin, the nostalgia of old movies as a way of escaping the horrible pain of reality, an uncomfortable feeling of liking apocalyptic stories, weirdly self-flattering, zmobies are the force of nature we refuse to acknowledge, Robert J. Sawyer, the medical cure for death is coming, denying death vs. embracing death, Night Of The Living Dead, a memento mori, this story is about Viagra, an episode of Senifeld, …what was left of my legs, a great first line, a newscaster still out there, they’re all Jell-O in their apartment buildings, the Libertarian streak, does he have the cure, Ray Kurzweil, the basic premise of all life so far discovered in the universe, no matter how many pills he takes, fish oil revolutionized Fred’s life, a more wide ranging curiosity, fishy burps, its a pill of course its good for me!

Still Life With A Skull

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #301 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #301 – Jesse, Scott, Jenny, and Tamahome talk new releases and recent arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
Reading goals and the Reading Envy podcast, spy novels, The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton is a more serious version of James Bond, film version stars Michael Caine, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household, SFFaudio Podcast #95 features a discussion with Eric Rabkin about SS-GB by Len Deighton, a Britain-centered, less crazy version of Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, Scott on rereading Hyperion (but hasn’t read Fall of Hyperion), the Hyperion audiobook is highly recommended, Wool by Hugh Howey now a graphic novel, Jesse doesn’t like open questions that require him to read more, Kindle Worlds, Mobile Library by David Whitehouse, Bookworm villain from Batman, The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister reminiscent of The PrestigeA Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan, some synopses are better-written than others, Patricia Highsmith, The Brenda and Effie Mysteries: The Woman in a Black Beehive by Paul Magris especially for audio, The Last Passenger by Manel Loureiro, Aurora CV-01 by Ryk Brown looks to be the perfect Scott book, this podcast features a real phaser, Hellhole by Gina Damico (not to be confused with the Kevin J. Anderson book of the same name), never underestimate evil on a sugar high, Proxima by Stephen Baxter, on how discoveries in astronomy affect science fiction, Kate Wilhelm in Orbit by Kate Wilhelm is a collection of her short stories from ca. 1966-1980 in Orbit anthologies, Scott didn’t “get” Wilhelm’s short story The PlannersSuperEgo by Frank J. Fleming, I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells, Dexter in spaaaaaaace!, A Murder of Clones by Kristine Kathryn Rusch is part of the Retrieval Artists universe, first audiobook in the series produced by Scott, the series would make a good TV show, The Android’s Dream by John Scalzi narrated by Will Wheaton, Future Crime by Ben Bova, a collection of short stories, file sharing used to happen by mail, we demand the return of cassettes (not!), #GetOffMyLawn, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson is part of a triptych, an actual utopia, Orange County of the future, Jesse and Scott met Kim Stanley Robinson at WorldCon, no kaiju, Mort(e) by Robert Repine, Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer now available in one package via Audible, “there must be something wrong with it, it’s too popular!”, Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison a.k.a. the book that inspired Soylent Green, Jenny lives on lentils and soybeans, The Deep by Nick Cutter, The Abyss meets The Shining, discussion of The Abyss which is recommended sans the last five minutes, Freedom Club by Saul Garnell, Trigger Warning short story collection by Neil Gaiman, on authors doing test runs or tryout stories to develop an idea, the difference between plotters and pantsers, The Globe: The Science of Discworld II by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, and Jack Cohen is actually a novel, Jenny debunks the theory that all stories come from an origin, Endsinger by Jay Kristoff, Marked by Sarah Fine, Piers Anthony’s Apprentice Adept series, these books may or may not be kinky–weird kinky, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, David Hasselhoff does the musical, Markheim, a short story by Stevenson.

Posted by Jesse Willis