The SFFaudio Podcast #495 – READALONG: News From Nowhere by William Morris

October 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #495 – Jesse, Bryan Alexander, and Evan Lampe talk about News From Nowhere by William Morris

Talked about on today’s show:
a socialist magazine, hardcover later that year, a response to something real, Looking Backward: 2000–1887 by Edward Bellamy, historical interest, as a historian would, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, lefties read it, Frederick Jameson, Marxism, post-modernism, An American Utopia, universal conscription, the actual plan, the military budget goes up every year, segmented by geography and class, how the army works, a planned economy, Americans fetishize the flag and the army, only the poor serve, leftist history writing, the importance of fiction, Bellamy clubs, Nationalism, confusing to 21st century folks, a fierce reaction against, an anti-centralized anti-industrial, anti-factory, scythes, beautifully crafted scythes, odious labour is automated, a different attitude towards labour, Rossetti, the lesbian fruit poem, Goblin Market, Eleanor Marx, why am I arguing with the book, all the problems he’s not addressing, the audio drama adaptation, force power, not coal powered, salmon spawning in the Thames, it is a beautiful thing, about beauty, “An Epoch Of Rest”, arguing against motivation to work, he hasn’t defined work very successfully, Mack Reynolds, hardcore socialist, here’s a novel, Equality In The Year 2000, everybody has degrees, guaranteed universal income, no crappy work, a problem of robotics, a lack of work is the problem, how striking, the serious problem is a lack of work, lazy bums, not enough quality work, the drudgery jobs are eliminated somehow, primitive communism, no invasion, no starvation, real issues, revolutions in every country of Europe, way to naive, he’s writing a utopia, least religious, Dante Alighieri, Nowhere = Utopia, articles about police brutality, the eight hour workweek, dynamiters imprisoned, The Anarchist, this is news, economics and foreign relations, Karl Marx, utopians as bourgeois, the world we live in is not the only possible world, the Greek polis, the nation state, the prison, capitalism, this doesn’t make any sense, talking past each other, there are alternatives, the world we live in is not written in stone, 500 years, Ernst Bloch, Kim Stanley Robinson, making sense of Henry Tudor’s world, Pacific Edge is an almost feasible science fiction utopia, the political situation, small problems, eliminating currency, making manifest, can you really get rid of currency, “everyone is an artist”, David Graeber, debt, three chickens for your cow, debt societies, my son really loves your daughter, debt relations, swapping around debts, made up, fancy ledgers, the lecture in the museum, getting a cutter, load up on surplus goods, great looking wine, very happy dudes, the big projects, rebuilding this cathedral, rebuilding this road, Che Guevara with a scythe, a fantasy, having utopia in our own life, Lasqueti Island, the back-to-the-land movement, the real economy there, Bryan’s homestead in Vermont, snow from October to May, shedding every 20th century technology, rural internet, 1800s technology, the Amish and the Mennonites, scale, Karl Schroeder, Britain is depopulated, mass produced arts and crafts wallpaper, J.R.R. Tolkien, hand carved wood, working with stone, hand mowing the hay, boats haven’t changed, the emotional appeal of it, thinking about health, chemotherapy, we live well, how long we live, crib-death, surgery without anesthetics, kidney stones, the childbirth thing, primitivist?, easier for men than for women, liberatory technology (for women), epidurals, fantasy novels gendered female, fantasy as pleasant imaginations of medieval world, 14th and 15th century style, contemporary back-to-the-land literature, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Iain M. Bank’s culture novels, post-scarcity, assuming robotics, dishwashers and Roombas and autodocs, two ways to get to post-scarcity, post-Ice Age post-scarcity, Bellamy’s assumptions, the Chinese, until we’re all wealthy, Steen Hansen, I bet that guy was born wealthy, you can’t even conceive of this stuff, the trust-fund hippie, ramping up wealth inequality, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. , upper middle class enlightenment through international travel, a historical vibe, the Clinton Democratic shift to the right, growing the economic, neo-primitivist, satisfied with what they have, the turn of the seasons, the anticipations graded finely, the turn to handicrafts, making and smoking pipes, finding meaning, little cheaty things, the exercise of vital powers, enjoyment in production, making that bread, that bread smell, that bread taste, something real, that utopian problem, the resisters, the refusers, the classic problem of utopia, your real skills, a race car driver, he’s completely forgotten the tragedy of the commons, where’s the violence, where’s the threat of violence, so fantastic it’s less believable than princess fantasy, a deep, deep claim, reforming the material conditions of life, the new Soviet man, their art, anti-communists, you can’t defy human nature, socio-biology, social arrangements, creationists, Jordan Peterson, women are more free to be nurses, women wanna be more nurturing, dudes like hitting each other with sticks, men like writing these utopian science fiction novels, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, progressive and fascinating and a utopia, 25 years later, sparking a love and aesthetic, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, women serving food, William Guest, his age is 56, the romance angle, Dick and Clara, risque for 1890, to “be together”, still problems in utopia, relationship stuff, the whole marriage thing, Mardi by Herman Melville, Typee and Omoo, copies of European states, a Christian utopia, following the girl, a critique of utopia, Melville’s early novels, a failed job interview, Evan’s podcast, American frontierism, going off to Oklahoma, going off to Nevada, getting back to history, Suspicious Persons, content setting up a kingdom for themselves, an anti-work thesis, be with the cannibals, paradise, the fruits on the tree, work and traveling up the Thames, Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, maid’s knee, a model for all diseases, foolish doofuses, a series of ridiculous pastoral incidents without consequence, a madeira cake, told from an idle gentleman’s point of view, a huge smash, skulling, skulling all day, completely inappropriate, The Riddle Of The Sands by Erskine Childers, a German invasion of Britain, The Willows by Algernon Blackwood, going to the water to make a utopia, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, living on breadfruit, making pineapples for foreign markets, it makes socialism seem like its fluffy-headed, one day the government will wither away, the ecological problem, an ecological lens, the green movement, cultural, all sorts of weird things are within human nature’s possibilities, ancient megaliths, some rich guy, what’s missing, notice how content everybody is, nobody wants to reach to the Moon, this is fascinating, I need six guys to help me build a super-collider in Kent, most people don’t need books, somebody has to clean the toilets, Hakim Bey, immanentism, the Bros. Grimm, the cultural creativity seems to have stopped, no new stories or songs, distressing Bryan, harder to imagine than a new tech, what we have now but streamlined, imagining the internet, human operators, Orson Scott Card got forums, the rich depth of Troll Culture, Locke is a troll, Poul Anderson, Olaf Stapledon, Samuel Delany, Philip K. Dick, fashions, the genre, the Gernsback model, utopianism isn’t exactly science fiction, an epoch of rest vs. work houses, the reason Sherlock Holmes can do his job, the uniform of a coachman, a ridiculousness, winking the whole time, the coming out is anticipated, asymmetrical, great scenes, the Victorian version of the new Soviet man, no longer seen by people, dull and bleared, dirt and rags, much servility, what the Victorian era is doing to humans, a positive idea prompt, this poor bastard was made by his time, the black cloud overhead, servility, the class situation, Upstairs, Downstairs, a speech the butler gives, Downton Abbey has a changed ethos, a fantasy of a fantasy, “they are our betters”, there is great honor and beauty in doing your job well, taking pleasure in doing a job well, scrub it well, finding dignity in your own work, for two reasons, why the British didn’t have another revolution, Jesse is really on to something, understanding as a historian, a revolution is social relations, ranks, profession or blood, The Radicalization Of The American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood, American slavery, “master” is replaced with “boss”, The Making Of The English Working Class by E.P. Thompson, “upper middle class”, Bryan is nodding and pumping his fist, republican virtues, a bipartisan love for the aristocracies, “we don’t do aristocratic politics in our family”, the least unequal period in British, Canadian, American and Australian history, more unequal, Downton Abbey is a celebration of aristocracy, Sex In The City, sukc down that fantasy and enjoy it, the Downton Abbey scenario, you’re the help, an expression of our acculturation, F. Scott Fitzgerald, WWI was fought as a love affair, the Trafalgar Square incident, Bill Hicks, how pathetic British crime is, fraying that love, the sociology of every nation (except for the USA), mutinies, broke France, broke Russia, broke Germany, that broke, the love affair is still there, “Boss”, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, a classic for the ages, the houses of parliament are used for storing manure, so savage in its takedown of all things American and medieval romanticism, Hank Morgan, why isn’t somebody wandering in, just get a stick and start hitting, no outlaws, no bandits, everybody is an artist, everybody be cool, universal basic income, the Manitoba Income Project, a decent response as to why would people work, cultural revolution, how the Romans saw the world, essential human characteristics, this book appreciates the idea that people find pleasure in being productive and helping one another, there’s a purpose to life outside a wage, a hard subject, the ultimate outcome is going to be close to E.M. Forsters’ The Machine Stops, starting a podcast after your oldest child moves out, changing how we raise children, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Russia, Eastern Europe, every single hotel has two hour rates, long workdays, imaging having kids, women are freer, Ecan is a stay at home father, the fake complaint tweet, the TV was a CRT, Walmart, giving the kids to nannies, what money does, access to birth control, universal basic income will help, the government is really good at mailing cheques, orphan’s benefit, cheap college, money totally helps, that Mack Reynolds novel, you have to spend the money, Townsend, the economy is predictability, bitcoin, deformational effects, government is really good at regulating, doctors still make a living, even with wait times, no dental care system, Sam Harris, Jerry Yang, some idiot (Dave Rubin), you don’t need plumbing or building regulations, people cut corners, all the products are designed to be sold, “makeshifts”, pop (soda), the history of soda, who is responsible when you put the phosphoric acid into the pop, The Soul of Man under Socialism by Oscar Wilde, satire, remedying the evils they see in poverty, destroying the need for charity, super-rich having a charity ball for the poor, The Clinton Foundation, charity salves the soul, carrying for the unknown, I would be a freer person, people on the right, a state burden, a way to liberate people, the rise of pet stores, pet service stores, children are too expensive, “fur babies”, not a single pet in this book, there might be more birds of prey, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Shelley, the most dangerous animal in England is a badger, bears in the mall, missing kitten, when you push down on one part of the society, such criticism, the economic cost, I really like the idea of craftsmanship, I love art, some lectures about how bad it was in the 19th century, a famine in France, France is just like this, the Iron Curtain, why NATO is still around today, dystopias are the inverse of that, everywhere’s the same, a global catastrophe, is The Road by Cormac McCarthy a dystopia?, addressing the truth of reality, violence isn’t going away, wouldn’t it be nice, how they get there, several chapters, one good thing about this book, immigration, easy to have a guest, what are you Greeks gonna do about it, sometimes that’s the point, a naive novel, “that’s what Hitler’s trying to do, yo”, rationalistic vs. empiricistic, eight hour work week, one idea, motivation to work outside of forced labour, keep scythin’, sowing.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #294 – READALONG: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

December 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #294 – Jesse, Jenny Colvin, and Tamahome talk about This Perfect Day by Ira Levin.

Talked about on today’s show:
1970, swearing, watch your “fighting language”, think about things before treatments, like Brave New World‘s soma, the incurables vs. the savages, a stratified society vs. a flattened society, sex once a week, Marxmas and Christmas, the computer shapes little boy Li, the computer trains the society, controlling by giving a semblance of control, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, no friction, top-speed, Jesus Christ, Karl Marx, Bob Wood, Li Wei, Vulcan philosophers, a cross and a sickle instead of a hammer and a sickle, not exactly a Communist utopia/dystopia, a communist takeover of the entire planet, movies and TV shows about Marx every year, no spirituality, Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, did the good guy win in the end?, the rape scene, Rosemary’s baby-daddy is Satan, what will happen after Chip blows everything up?, when Wei is eating, the focus on the food, the high programmers, the turn/plot twist, the gold toilet fixtures, silk clothing, fuck is a nice word, you’re not free, free of aggression, how will they feed everyone, the YouTube video, The Syndic by C.M. Kornbluth, the Prometheus Award, books that examine the meaning of freedom, Ayn Rand, four ideologies combined, what they took from Christ, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, Wei addressing the chemotherapists, who is Wood?

Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei,
Led us to this perfect day.
Marx, Wood, Wei and Christ,
All but Wei were sacrificed.
Wood, Wei, Christ and Marx,
Gave us lovely schools and parks.
Wei, Christ, Marx and Wood,
Made us humble, made us good.

body part swapping, improvements in the society, the last injection you get is fatal, you become a net loss to society after a certain point, baby boomers getting older, the diseases of aging, the totalcakes and cokes for lunch, Jenny is baking total cakes for Marxmas!, Li’s spilling a coke on a leaf, eureka!, how he got the idea to avoid treatment, there is no Pepsi, there’s no Dr Pepper, the symbol of a leaf in the shape of a man, Jenny always ignores metaphors, was the grandfather in a secret society?, you don’t forget, ecstasy , athletes and drugs, the influence machine, television as a drug, revisionist history, there’s no NEWS, it’s very North Korea, how did you claim the ticket?, a book about mental illness, replace sickness with sin and the entire novel is about religion, self-reporting, “No, thank uni.”, “they’re all snitches”, the f-word is fight, “everybody loves fucking”, hate is a bad word, objectivism is exactly selfish, selfishness and fear, it’s their Galt’s Gulch, the whole smoking thing, the perks of the programmer class, the fantasy of libertarianism, “you the unrecognized superman”, a dystopia, we’ve got our magic super-power stuff, Atlas Shrugged, reardon metal, people are aliens, men trying to control women bodies, two ambiguously dystopic societies, a powerful book with a lot to think about, more Animal Farm than Nineteen Eighty-Four, We, Brave New World has a boring, stupid and depressing plot (so let’s do a podcast on it!), a neglected novel, Planet Of The Apes, Logan’s Run, Paranoia (the Role Playing Game), THX-1138, The Call Of Cthulhu RPG, the new Paranoia Kickstarter, the book for the blind audiobook, rape in quotation marks, The Matrix, Soylent Green, Gattaca, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Equilibrium, “live in that horrible world”, the women’s names: Anna, Mary, Peace and Yin, if you were living in this world which society would you want to live in or would you overthrow it?, keep getting mad, keep being proactive, aren’t we done talking about it yet?, King’s suicide, your old gray head, the secret sleeper spies, a mental asylum run by the patients, Cuban refugees fleeing Castro, this book is about our world, any ideology you have ought to be thrown to the dirt, the schizophrenia TV focus, Facebook becomes our island, dumping buckets of ice, Ferguson, New York, this book feels alien, the goal of communism, wouldn’t it be interesting if we all were actually equal, father knows best, blowing up airports seems crazy, a hard one, people only want you to think for yourself when it doesn’t effect them, Pierre Boulle.

Fawcett - This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

Book Of The Road - This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin - illustration by Jerome Podwil

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #248 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Goliah by Jack London

January 20, 2014 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #248 – Goliah by Jack London; read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (57 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Bryan Alexander, Seth, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Colossus: The Forbin Project; title’s reference to biblical Goliath; story’s title a reference to the famous Pacific steam ship; colonial capitalism; the story’s Gilded Age context; child labor; Eugene Debs and American socialism; Karl Marx; Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan; the story’s fictional energon evocative of Transformers energon; Nikola Tesla; Goliah has a palantir; Goliah as Santa Claus; the story’s invented island Palgrave in the South Sea; parallels to London’s other speculative fiction including The Iron Heel; the story’s unreliable narrator; Asgard; origin stories and foundation myths; nineteenth-century racism rears its ugly head again; Übermenschen; contempt for military and militarism; The Unparalleled Invasion; Seth works too hard; the theoretical increase of productivity through automation; 1984Twilight casting a sparkly shadow over modern culture; Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward as a possible influence; Karl Marx’s German Ideology; the importance of laughter; Herland; the story as a response to nihilism; similarities between Guy de Maupassant and Friedrich Nietzsche; The Scarlet PlagueCanticle for Leibowitz; the medieval investiture controversy; animal metaphors in Goliah; accurate predictions of World War I; structural similarity to the Book of Job; “you don’t get a lot of laughter in the Old Testament”; Arslan by M.J. Engh; The Bookman literary magazine; It’s a Good Life by Jerome Bixby; steampunk by tag cloud; we make a dismal attempt at discussing the Stock Market; the dark underbelly of Goliah’s utopia; the unrealistic perpetuation of a utopia; Autofac and Pay for the Printer by Philip K. Dick; With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson; Star Trek: The Next Generation; Lenin’s dying wish; Jules Verne; Goliah relinquishing power; Hot Fuzz; more on the palantir and the NSA; “grumblers grumble”; attitudes toward the criminally insane; “Goliah has spoken”; nukes not MOOCs; Cuban Missile Crisis; Douglas MacArthur biography American Caesar by William Manchester; Doctor Who episode “The Happiness Patrol”; Japanese Manga Death Note; the “bread and roses” U.S. labor strike contemporary with Jack London; the Pax Romana; The Better Angels of Our Nature by Stephen Pinker, a discourse on lethal violence; the Franco-Prussian War; Earle Labor’s Jack London: An American Life available in audio.

Colossus The Forbin Project

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #226 – READALONG: The Iron Heel by Jack London

August 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #226 – Jesse, Jenny, and Bryan Alexander discuss The Iron Heel by Jack London.

Talked about on today’s show:
Jenny is not an economist, a Heinlein vibe, God Emperor Of Dune, The first half of this book is talk, a terrible novel but an interesting book, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, the distancing narrators, 700 years into the future, the audience is for seven hundred years in the future (or is that six hundred), prizefighting, grub = food, the purpose of the footnotes, The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells, Avis Everhard, alternate history, Michael Bishop, an underground book, an underground society, that Buck Rogers stuff, Armageddon—2419 AD by Philip Francis Nowlan, exchanging socialism for the Yellow Peril, Asgard, Seoul, set in the year 419 B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Men), A Thousand Deaths by Jack London, The Island Of Doctor Moreau, predictions, war with Germany, a surprise attack on December 4th, William Randolph Hearst, war economy as a solution to national surplus, Trotsky’s letter to Jack London, London had good reason to be a socialist, work conditions and natural disasters, a chaotic time, Jackson’s arm, race vs. class, Jack London’s racism, The Heathen by Jack London, the dog stories, class consciousness, grinding out the middle class between the 1% and the people of the abyss, The Shadow And The Flash by Jack London, manly overachievers, oligarchy doesn’t use race to divide people, do you want you fruit to be picked or not?, Japanese segregation in California classrooms, Canadian politics, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’, the quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country… corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, “the military-industrial complex”, Eugene Debs, why was The Iron Heel not more popular?, The Black Hundreds, Das Kapital, Marxian fan-fiction, ‘social evolution is exasperatingly slow’, sooo sad, Marx’s essay on Napoleon III, a Darwinian model, do we live under an oligarchy?, government regulation (anti-trust and child labour laws), why socialism didn’t take hold in the early 20th century USA, Larry Summers, the Chilean cover of The Iron Heel, Salvador Allende, a novel read by revolutionaries, Science Fiction within the novel, the aesthetic end, the role of religion, the God of the Oligarchs, mostly air with a little bit of vertebra, Chicago, religious revivals and the apocalypse, Azusa Street Revival, the 1906 San Fransisco earthquake, William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst, John Waters, Cecil B. Demented, personal charisma and bulletproof arguments, Everhard is a porn star name, Benjamin Franklin, London’s didactic reading, Marx’s surplus theory of value, economy is not a science, power wins, the French Revolution, the Commonwealth of England, George Orwell’s review of The Iron Heel, 1984 is in The Iron Heel, coincidental dates, London’s insight into fascism, too much love from the strong and not enough love for the weak, Eric S. Rabkin, unmanning, ‘designed to be crucified’, father figures are destroyed, the chapter titles, The Call Of The Wild, a powerful beast is unmanned, builds up and builds through interaction with others, a sated king, a dominant primordial beast, The Sea Wolf, reading London is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart, surplus value, colonialism, the machine breakers, the trusts did not advertize, consumerism, Paul Krugman, petty bourgeoisie, the genocide of Chicago, the Paris Commune, gothic wooing, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy, the education of the oligarchy,

“They, as a class, believed that they alone maintained civilization. It was their belief that if ever they weakened, the great beast would ingulf them and everything of beauty and wonder and joy and good in its cavernous and slime-dripping maw. Without them, anarchy would reign and humanity would drop backward into the primitive night out of which it had so painfully emerged.”

excusing colonialism, the white man’s burden, ignoring the starving masses, the Roman Empire, steampunk, Lloyd Blankfein “doing God’s work”, Margin Call, oppositional films, “The Social Network deeply hates Zuckerberg and the online world”, Nine Inch Nails, Michael Douglas, Wall Street, the cleaning lady, why isn’t The Iron Heel more generally appealing to SF readers?, British Space Opera vs. American Space Opera, Commune 2000 A.D. by Mack Reynolds, a broken utopia, job cash vs. job love, the social end of SF, the storytelling technique doesn’t attract, the unsuccessful revolution, Winston Smith’s diary, looking back when writing doesn’t have the same power, the Goldstein Book, brainwashing, the bomb in congress, spy and counterspy, Starship Troopers is a series of lectures punctuated by gunfire, Frank Herbert, “a raving genius”, doing Dune (and Dune Messiah), Chilton Books, the boot crushing the human face forever, the leaky suspense, a Norton critical edition, how to record The Iron Heel, the footnotes are problematic, a crazy wild marvelous book, WWI, WWII, Metropolis, armoured cars or tanks, The Last Man by Mary Shelley, a terrifying future found in a cave written on leaves, A Journal Of The Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Idiocracy, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, on Lenin’s deathbed he was read Jack London, The Cold Equations, To Build A Fire, The Empire Strikes Back,

“The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow.”

cosmic and Lovecraftian, as snug as a Jedi in a hot tauntaun, Robert Sheckley, Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky.

The Iron Heel by Jack London (Viva Allende)

The Iron Heel by Jack London - Capital V. Labour

Posted by Jesse Willis

Here’s an annotated table of contents for Rip-Off! edited by Gardner Dozois

January 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

After talking about it on the last SFFaudio Podcast NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS episode, I decided we really needed to know exactly which classic stories were being ripped-off in the new Audible Frontiers collection entitled Rip-Off!.

You’re welcome!

I’ve also made a note of the narrator for each story. And, while I’m at it I should tell you that nearly every story is an hour long. Every story with the exception of James Patrick Kelly’s (which runs about 90 minutes) and Tad Williams’ (which runs just over 26 minutes).

Audible Frontiers - Rip-Off!

Rip-Off!
Edited by Gardner Dozois; Read by various readers
Audible Download – Approx. 12 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audible Frontiers
Published: December 18, 2012
In Rip-Off!, 13 of today’s best and most honored writers of speculative fiction face a challenge even they would be hard-pressed to conceive: Pick your favorite opening line from a classic piece of fiction (or even non-fiction) – then use it as the first sentence of an entirely original short story. In the world of Rip-Off!, Call me Ishmael introduces a tough-as-nails private eye – who carries a harpoon; The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz inspires the tale of an aging female astronaut who’s being treated by a doctor named Dorothy Gale; and Huckleberry Finn leads to a wild ride with a foul-mouthed riverboat captain who plies the waters of Hell. Once you listen to Rip-Off! you’ll agree: If Shakespeare or Dickens were alive today, they’d be ripping off the authors in this great collection. As a bonus, the authors introduce their stories, explaining what they ripped-off – and why. Rip-Off! was produced in partnership with SFWA – Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Gardner Dozois served as project editor.

Annotated table of contents:

Introduction by John Scalzi, read by Scalzi

Fireborn by Robert Charles Wilson – Introduction by Wilson, inspired by a “Rootabaga” story by Carl Sandburg – Read by Khristine Hvam

The Evening Line by Mike Resnick – Introduction by Resnick, inspired by Pride And Prejudice by – Read by L.J. Ganser

No Decent Patrimony by Elizabeth Bear – Introduction by Bear, inspired by Edward II by Christopher Marlowe – Read by Scott Brick

The Big Whale by Allen M. Steele – Introduction by Steele, inspired by Moby Dick by Herman Melville – Read by Christian Rummell

Begone by Daryl Gregory – Introduction by Gregory, inspired by David Copperfield by Charles Dickens – Read by Jonathan Davis

The Red Menace by Lavie Tidhar – Introduction by Tidhar, inspired by The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx – Read by Stefan Rudnicki

Muse Of Fire by John Scalzi – Introduction by Scalzi, inspired by Henry V by William Shakespeare – Read by Wil Wheaton

Writer’s Block by Nancy Kress – Introduction by Kress, inspired by Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton – Read by David Marantz

Highland Reel by Jack Campbell – Introduction by Campbell, inspired by Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Read by Nicola Barber

‘Karin Coxswain’ Or ‘Death As She Is Truly Lived’ by Paul Di Filippo – Introduction by Di Filippo, inspired by Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Read by Dina Pearlman

The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal – Introduction by Kowal, inspired by The Wizard Of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Read by Allyson Johnson

Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air by Tad Williams – Introduction by Williams, inspired by the Book of Genesis by anonymous – Read by Marc Vietor

Declaration by James Patrick Kelly – Introduction by Kelly, inspired by The Declaration Of Independence by Thomas Jefferson – Read by Ilyana Kadushin

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

September 23, 2012 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Hachette Audio - Arguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensArguably: Essays
By Christopher Hitchens; Read by Simon Prebble
24 CDs – Approx. 28.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: September 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781611139068
Themes: / Non-fiction / History / War / Biography / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Iran / Afghanistan / Germany / North Korea / France / Dystopia / Utopia / Religion / Tunisia / Piracy / Terrorism / Feminism / Pakistan /

The first new collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for arthe enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The audio book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, Arguably burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.”

Here’s a question I was thinking about while listening to Arguably.

What is fiction for?

One answer, the bad one, is that it’s for entertainment. That’s certainly where many readers are willing go, and the fiction writers who write it too. Maybe that’s precisely why so much fiction is just so very shitty.

To me, if you aren’t exploring ideas in your fiction, then you really aren’t serving a greater purpose. Idea fiction, fiction with ideas rather than just action and plot, is to my mind a kind of supplement to the wisdom found in writings on history, biography and science.

Of the many lessons learned I in listening to the 107 essays in Arguably I was particularly struck by the wisdom Christopher Hitchens gleaned from his reading of fiction. Hitchens reviews many books in this collection, nearly half of the essays are book reviews. Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Flashman, The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard, Our Man In Havana, and even, surprisingly, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows all get fascinating, critical, and reverent reviews.

Yet Hitchens also takes the lessons with him into his writing about his travels. Hitchens writes about visits to such places as North Korea, Cyprus, Afghanistan, and Kurdish Iraq. When talking about his visit to Beirut we see what comes when Hitchens, a man of ideas, acts upon them. The essay, The Swastika and the Cedar sees the convictions of the commited anti-fascist Hitchens beaten and nearly kidnapped for an act of vandalism on a prominently displayed swastika. Writes Hitchens:

“Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced.”

In a review of two books, Lolita and The Annotated Lolita, Hitchens applies the controversial subject in a real life look at the modern, and very non-fictional oppression and objectification of women. Indeed, the ideas he appreciated in fiction helped Hitchens to come to grips with the real world.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

As to the narration of the audiobook. I’m ashamed to admit that I was initially dismayed when I saw that Christopher Hitchens had not narrated this audiobook himself. I was wrong to worry. Incredibly, Simon Prebble seems to have have become Hitchens for this narration. Prebble perfectly captures the erudite words, so eloquently performs them, and with an accent so like that of Hitchens’ own so as to make me think that it was Hitchens who had actually read it.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

Here’s a list of the book’s contents, with links to the original etexts when available, along with my own notes on each:

ALL AMERICAN
Gods Of Our Fathers: The United States Of Enlightenment – a review of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen

The Private Jefferson – a review of Jefferson’s Secrets: Death And Desire At Monticello by Andrew Burstein

Jefferson Vs. The Muslim Pirates – a review of Power, Faith, And Fantasy: America In The Middle East: 1776 To The Present by Michael B. Oren

Benjamin Franklin: Free And Easy – a review of Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, And Political Thought by Jerry Weinberger

John Brown: The Man Who Ended Slavery – a review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked The Civil War, And Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds

Abraham Lincoln: Misery’s Child (aka Lincoln’s Emancipation) – a review of Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame

Mark Twain: American Radical – a scathing review of The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan

Upton Sinclair: A Capitalist Primer – a review of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

JFK: In Sickness And By Stealth – a review of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek

Saul Bellow: The Great Assimilator – review of six novels by Saul Bellow (The Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures Of Augie March, Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, and Herzog)

Vladimir Nabokov: Hurricane Lolita – reviews of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Annotated Lolita edited and annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr.

John Updike: No Way – a review of The Terrorist by John Updike (with reference to The Coup too)

John Updike: Mr. Geniality
– a critical review of the affable Due Considerations: Essays And Considerations by John Updike

Vidal Loco – Gore Vidal went crazier, more elitist and perhaps more racist as he got older (with attention and quips for Quentin Crisp and Oscar Wilde and Joyce Carol Oates)

America The Banana Republic – Hitchens on the “socialistic” bank bailout of 2008 (“socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest”)

An Anglosphere Future – a review of The History Of The English Speaking Peoples by Andrew Roberts (with reference to both Sherlock Holmes and The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as to Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling)

Political Animals – a review of Dominion: The Power Of Man, The Suffering Of Animals, And The Call To Mercy by Matthew Scully

Old Enough To Die – on capital punishment as applied to children

In Defense Of Foxhole Atheists
– a visit to the United States Air Force Academy and the tax funded proselytizing

In Search Of The Washington Novel – a search for some good fiction about Washington, D.C.

ECLECTIC AFFINITIES
Isaac Newton: Flaws Of Gravity – a stroll through the medieval streets of Cambridge with the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who worked there

The Men Who Made England: Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” – a review of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Edmund Burke: Reactionary Prophet – a review of Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke

Samuel Johnson: Demons And Dictionaries
– a review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography by Peter Martin

Gustave Flaubert: I’m With Stupide – a review of Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert translated by Mark Polizzotti

The Dark Side Of Dickens
– a review of Charles Dickens by Michael Slater a biography (Hitchens was a not uncritical admirer of the subject)

Marx’s Journalism: The Grub Street Years – a glowing review of Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism Of Karl Marx edited by James Ledbetter, foreword by Francis Wheen (Marx admired the United States, and other fascinating facts about the father of communism)

Rebecca West: Things Worth Fighting For – an introduction to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West

Ezra Pound: A Revolutionary Simpleton – a review of Ezra Pound, Poet: A Portrait Of The Man And His Work: Volume I: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A. David Moody (a biography of the fascist poet)

On “Animal Farm” – an introduction to Animal Farm

Jessica Mitford’s Poison Pen – a review of Decca: The Letters Of Jessica Mitford edited by Peter Y. Sussman

W. Somerset Maugham: Poor Old Willie – a review of W. Somerset Maugham: A Life by Jeffery Meyers

Evelyn Waugh: The Permanent Adolescent – a look at the enigmatic life, writing, religion, and sexuality of Evelyn Waugh

P.G. Wodehouse: The Honorable Schoolboy – a review of Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum

Anthony Powell: An Omnivorous Curiosity – a review of To Keep The Ball Rolling: The Memoirs Of Anthony Powell

John Buchan: Spy Thriller’s Father – a review of John Buchan The Presbyterian Cavalier by David R. Godine (with discussion of The 39 Steps and a fantasy novelette The Grove Of Ashtaroth)

Graham Greene: I’ll Be Damned – a review of The Life Of Graham Green: Volume II: 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry

Death From A Salesman: Graham Greene’s Bottle Ontology – an introduction to Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

Loving Philip Larkin (aka Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man) – a review of Philip Larkin: Letters To Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite

Stephen Spender: A Nice Bloody Fool – a review of Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography by John Sutherland

Edward Upward: The Captive Mind – a look at the British novelist and short story Edward Upward

C.L.R. James: Mid Off, Not Right On – a review of Cricket, The Caribbean, And World Revolution by Farrukh Dhondy

J.G. Ballard: The Catastrophist – a review of The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard

Fraser’s Flashman: Scoundrel Time – a look at the George MacDonald Fraser series of Flashman books and the connection with The Adventure Of The Empty House

Fleet Street’s Finest: From Waugh To Frayn – an essay on the dubious romance of journalism

Saki: Where The Wild Things Are – a review of The Unbearable Saki: The Work of H.H. Munro by Sandie Byrne

Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived – a review of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
Why Women Aren’t Funny – a controversial essay on why more comedians are male and why women laugh at them the way they do

Stieg Larsson: The Author Who Played With Fire – a look at the phenomenon of the bestselling author of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

As American As Apple Pie – a literary and chronological history of the blowjob, with reference to Valdamir Nobokov’s Lolita

So Many Men’s Rooms, So Little Time – a fascinatingly insightful argument on what’s was going on with the Larry Craig bathroom airport scandal and related phenomena

The New Commandments – deconstructing the Ten Commandments

In Your Face – are bans on burqas and veils actually bans, or are they liberation?

Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite – ill mannered waiters are ruining the business of wine drinking

Charles, Prince Of Piffle – a damning look at the prince who shouldn’t be king

OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
Afghanistan’s Dangerous Bet – a visit to Afghanistan, it’s all about the women

First, Silence The Whistle-Blower – is there any hope for democracy in Afghanistan?

Believe Me, It’s Torture – a report on what it’s like to be water-boarded

Iran’s Waiting Game – a visit to Iran and a meeting with Hussein Khomeini the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini

Long Live Democratic Seismology – on democracy, Chile, Iran, and earthquakes

Benazir Bhutto: Daughter Of Destiny – a personal remembrance of the brave liar, Benazir Bhutto

From Abbottabad To Worse – an explanation for the existence of Pakistan as the U.S.A.’s worst best friend

The Perils Of Partition – on what dividing a country does to it (it’s like a man with a broken leg – he can think of nothing else)

Algeria: A French Quarrel – a review of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

The Case Of Orientalism (aka East Is East) – a review of Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents by Robert Irwin

Edward Said: Where The Twain Should Have Met – a review of Orientalism by Edward Said

The Swastika And The Cedar – a visit to “the Arab street”

Holiday In Iraq – Hitchens on holiday in Kurdish Iraq: it’s lovely

Tunisia: At The desert’s Edge – a lavish and lengthy visit to Africa’s gentlest country

What Happened To The Suicide Bombers Of Jerusalem? – why is no one writing about the dog that didn’t bark?

Childhood’s End: An African Nightmare – on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Vietnam Syndrome – on the horrific effects of Agent Orange and the legacies of dioxin

Once Upon A Time In Germany – a review of the movie The Baader Meinhof Complex, it explores the origins of The Red Army Faction

Worse Than “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – North Korea is a slave state seemingly modeled on 1984

North Korea: A Nation of Racist Dwarfs – a visit to North Korea

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of The Castro Dynasty – a look at the Castro regime’s familial coup

Hugo Boss – a visit to Venezuela with Sean Penn and a meeting with Hugo Chávez – he’s nuts

Is The Euro Doomed? – what will be the fate of Europe’s common currency?

Overstating Jewish Power – In the Israeli American relationship who’s pulling who’s strings?

The Case For Humanitarian Intervention – a review of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins Of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass

LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM
Victor Serge: Pictures From An Inquisition – reviews of The Case Of Comrade Tulayev and Memoirs Of A Revolutionary by Victor Serge

André Malraux: One Man’s Fate – a review of Malraux: A Life by Olivier Todd, translated by Joseph West

Arthur Koestler: The Zealot – a review of Koestler: The Literary And Political Odyssey Of A Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell

Isabel Allende: Chile Redux – an introduction to The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Persian Version – a review of Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology Of Contemporary Iranian Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari

Martin Amis: Lightness At Midnight – a review of Koba The Dread: Laughter And The Twenty Million by Martin Amis

Imagining Hitler – the problem of evil, and Hitler, with reference to Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw

Victor Klemperer: Survivor

A War Worth Fighting – a persuasively systematic review of Churchill, Hitler And The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire And The West Lost The World by Pat Buchanan

Just Give Peace A Chance? – a critical review of Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker

W.G. Sebald: Requiem For Germany – a review of On The Natural History Of Destruction by W.G. Sebald

WORDS’ WORTH
When The King Saved God – for the love of the King James version

Let Them Eat Pork Rinds – Berthold Brecht, Charles Dickens and various other sources inform Hitch’s view of the Hurricane Katrina relief disaster

Stand Up For Denmark! – a still timely plea for preferring free speech to religious tolerance

Eschew The Taboo – on the banning of words, particularly the word “nigger”

She’s No Fundamentalist – a spirited defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Burned Out – the verb “fuel” is fueled by journalistic sloppiness

Easter Charade – on life and death and Terri Schiavo

Don’t Mince Words – the disenfranchisement of south Asians in Britain isn’t the cause of bombings, hatred of women is.

History And Mystery – al-Qaeda in Iraq, jihadists, or “insurgents”? Do words matter? Of course they bloody well do.

Words Matter – political slogans make of “every adult in the country” an “illiterate jerk who would rather feel than think”

This Was Not Looting – how can a government “loot” it’s own weapons manufacturing facility? The government of Iraq managed it according to The New York Times.

The “Other” L-Word – a lighthearted piece on the prominence of the word “like” and it’s use

The You Decade – what’s wrong with you (marketing to the selfish)

Suck It Up – the Virginia Tech shootings prompted the wrong response from the world (namely that it prompted one)

A Very, Very Dirty Word – the English empire, in centuries to come, may only be remembered for soccer and the phrase “fuck off”

Prisoner Of Shelves – on the indispensability of books

Posted by Jesse Willis

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