BBC4 & RA.cc: Stephen Fry – In The Beginning Was The Nerd

SFFaudio Online Audio

BBC Radio 4RadioArchive.ccI’ve been enjoying quite a lot of Stephen Fry on television lately. He’s been following in the footsteps of Douglas Adams in the recent series Last Chance To See, doing an autobiographical examination of a fascinating disorder in Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and criss-crossing the USA in Stephen Fry in America. But the programme that I’ll draw your attention to is a very nice hour long documentary that aired on BBC Radio 4 a couple weeks back. I picked it up through RadioArchive.cc, and I recommend you do the same.

Fry brings quite a bit to the show, delving back into computer history, talking about Alan Turing (and how that connects to where the Apple company’s logo came from), sliding tangentially into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Karel Čapek’s Rossum’s Universal Robots, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops and plenty more besides. The “Y2K disaster” seems more and more relevant these days, not because of the disaster itsel (which didn’t happen) but rather because the fixity of poorly informed media opinion is more and more likely despite our increasing ability to digitally record and rehash our poor predictions. We just don’t do it – except with programmes like this!

Stephen FryStephen Fry – In The Beginning Was The Nerd
By Stephen Fry
1 Broadcast – Approx. 56 Minutes [DOCUMENTARY]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: October 5, 2009
The Western world, with a few notable exceptions, poured billions of dollars into electronic pesticides to defeat the Y2K bug. Only to find that for the most part it could have been defeated by turning the systems off then on again. So, why the silence when the bug didn’t bite? The answer’s in the programme. Politicians, experts and businessmen all profited in status or cash from the threat. In the media – to paraphrase the crime reporters – it bled so it led. In the USA, government brazenly claimed victory for its defeat. In reality, the enemy was almost totally imaginary. But it’s useless blaming the great and the good. It was inevitable. We’d been told repeatedly that this brilliant new technology would change the world. Then we were told it could all stop on the stroke of one spookily special midnight. We were the newly addicted, suddenly faced with the prospect that our supply was fatally endangered. There was only one thing we could do. Panic. Then spend millions fixing it. Sorry, that’s two things.

Here’s a 15 minute selection from the doc:

You can pick up the rest, via torrent, from RadioArchive.cc.

Posted by Jesse Willis

CBC Ideas / Entitled Opinions – an interview

SFFaudio Online Audio

I don’t get a ton of feedback on most posts. So, I tend to argue, mostly with myself, that Science Fiction and Fantasy includes a great many things: Crime, Noir, Horror, History, ancient literature, philosophy, mythology.

Today I might try to argue that the SFF genre is ‘larger than it appears,’ or that ‘much that many would define as within SFF actually isn’t’ (i.e. the stuff I don’t care about). Or I might argue both.

Now that I’ve carefully constructed a wall to indemnify myself against phantom accusations of “off topic” – I’d like to talk about gardening.

A couple months back CBC Radio One’s Ideas producer, Richard Handler, talked to Robert Harrison, the host of one of my favorite podcasts, Entitled Opinions. Topics discussed in the interview include Dante, the dead, the origins of Stanford University, Karel Čapek, and gardening.

CBC Radio One - IdeasCBC Radio One – Ideas
1 |MP3| – Approx. 53 Minutes [INTERVIEW]
Broadcaster: CBC Radio One / Ideas
Broadcast: Thursday March 5th, 2009
Robert Harrison is an eminent American scholar and a Dante specialist by trade. He wants the humanities to ask big and searching questions. He even runs an intellectual talk show from his perch at Stanford University.

If after this you’re more interested in gardening, check or Handler’s BLOG POST on the “gardening” topic.

Also, mentioned in the above podcast is Harrison’s show on Heart Of Darkness – it’s awesome |MP3|. I’ve put both files in my HuffDuffer feed, I hope you check them out.

Posted by Jesse Willis

P.S. Apocalypse Al, I haven’t forgotten you!

Prisoners of Gravity on Robots and Artificial Intelligence

SFFaudio Online Audio

Here’s another episode of Prisoners Of Gravity uploaded to YouTube (and audio’d by SFFaudio). The three videos below make up the bulk of one episode from the 2nd season of PoG. The episode is titled “Robots & Artificial Intelligence“. In the show, Commander Rick and guests talk to and about, Douglas Adams, Gregory Benford, Karel Čapek, Isaac Asimov, Nancy Kress, George Zabrowski, Stanislaw Lem, Robocop, Frank Miller, Robert J. Sawyer, Donald Kingsbury, Brian Fawcett, Pamela Sargent, Lewis Shiner, Roger Penrose, Judith Reeves-Stevens, Garfield Reeves-Stevens, Star Trek and Judith Merril and William Gibson, John Varley. This is a terrifc survey of the cross’d subjects of robots and AI. Check it out…

Prisoners Of GravityPrisoners Of Gravity – “Robots & Artificial Intelligence”
1 |MP3| – 25 Minutes [AUDIO FROM VIDEO]
Broadcaster: TV Ontario
Broadcast: Thursday, January 24th, 1991

“This week’s topic is Robots… unfortunately, NanCy, Commander Rick’s computer, changes the topic on him to Artificial Intelligence; Commander Rick manages to discuss a little of both with his guests. Including clips from Hardware and Robocop 2.”


Part 1 of 3:


Part 2 of 3:


Part 3 of 3:

Posted by Jesse Willis

BBC Radio 3 to a new Karel Capek RADIO DRAMA

Online Audio

Online Audio BBC Radio 3All honourifics for this nice find go to our eagle-eyed U.K. contributor, “Roy”…

BBC Radio 3 will be re-airing a 2005 dystopian satire, a Radio Dramatization of Karel Capek’s War With The Newts. We suspect this will be available via the Radio 3 “Listen Again” for 6 days following the transmission but there are no guarantees so observe these details if you’d like to listen to the live broadcast:

War With The Newts by Karel CapekWar With The Newts
By Karel Capek; Dramatized by George Poles; Perfomed by a full cast
Radio Broadcast – Approx. 1 Hour 30 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
BROADCASTER: BBC Radio 3
BROADCAST: Sunday April 1st 2007 20:00-21:30 (U.K. Time)
When humanity encounters another race of intelligent bipeds sharing the Earth, what choice is there but to exploit it? When the existence of a group of speaking newts comes to the attention of the ruthless GH Bondy and his Salamander Syndicate, they find themselves turned into a commodity as the nations fight over them. At its heart, this joyously funny satire is a plea for decency and tolerance towards others, as relevant now as when it was first written in the 1930s.