Talked about on today’s show:
1998, Arrival (2016), Ted Chiang has lost it!, you’ve pulled it off again, the vast sweep of history, the space of my life, Jesse doesn’t hold with modern writers (very much), savouring his stories, a technical writer, smart, wise, and young!, let’s sell out write away, he’s all ages at once, wisdom, his themes, Stories Of Your Life by Ted Chiang (the collection), too much chocolate, Tower Of Babylon, Liking What You See: A Documentary, style and tone, it’s right there in every sentence, when I talk about this on the podcast…, falling into place, in giant swaths, blocks, blocks of ash backwards and forwards, how memory works, changing memories by looking at them, heptapods, could they have done the movie any better?, a thoughtful science fiction story, more graspable, the rogue Chinese general, weirdly flowing hair, they’re doing it!, “oh gawd, Hollywood, what are you doing?”, which order is better?, movie first?, the future not the past, the clay figure, a breakdown, pieces building up, flashbacks, the house was so empty, past and future tense at the same time, movies do that all the time, less literary and more show, the movie-ish elements are not in the story, scale and stakes, Understand is a power, Flowers For Algernon, a meta-human super-mind, Hell Is The Absence Of God, a hilarious ending, too much dark chocolate is overwhelming, Seventy-Two Letters, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, The Life-Cycle Of Software Objects, he’s too wise, stories like bonsai trees, her first dream about her daughter’s death, where he puts everything, just the right spot, very Hollywood, so much more tragic, more mysterious, the writers sitting around…, the lady has to be younger because…, we’re going to give a 45 woman a movie?, how would they film that?, and how’s she gonna die?, incurable disease, nothing the mom could say or do could save the daughter, thinking about what the audience is thinking, outrage!, she seems to have more choice in the movie, an action sequence, she saves the world, the floating hair sequence, it doesn’t work as a memory, timey-wimey, a propagating wave of memory, it doesn’t work within the logic of the book, in trying to make it easy to the audience they’ve broken the logic of the story…, too dumb to understand, more rewarding and more hollow, is this a Science Fiction classic?, not at all, total brilliance, the whole movie in that sentence, my favourite second, our bar for science fiction movies is quite low, it’s legitimately science fiction, playing it up, fiddled with the aliens, a visual treat, a blockbuster, against the grain of the short story, the kangaroo, everything in my life points toward the fiction we’re going to discuss, Cognitive scientist explains why perceiving a false reality is beneficial, the duck that’s also a rabbit, the duck-rabbit’s direction, a complex reality we don’t need to know, whatever reality might be, the tiger would eat you, why do people have babies, “wanna make a baby?!, my kid’s gonna die, absolutely!”, all babies die, fearful of death, always looking at that end point, thinking about death is comforting, everybody does know the future, Robert J. Sawyer, any time now!, death is absolutely inevitable, outliving your friends and family, fragile and tiny, why daddy looks at me strangely now, Jean Paul Sartre, everybody lives forever, your forever has happened, that was your forever, giving it the forever life, the death of a child vs. the death of a 99 year old person, her “accident”, why the name change from Flapper and Raspberry to Abbot and Costello, the audience wouldn’t buy it, it’s very movie, Sam and Diane, definitely its, a thematic pair, classic comedy, highly neat, a weird theory, in the context of the movie logic, memories with the daughter, pointing at the problem of the movie, there’s no deciding!, it’s everywhere, talking for the sake of ritual, actors performing the lines, you have to read it on the page to grasp it in the theatre, seeing Shakespeare performed, to see an actualization of your experience, a positive story (a horror), not testing them limits, delivering their lines well, he’s improvising, I need a bowl like this (in order to hit my daughter in the head with it), choosing not to learn it <-this doesn't make sense - does it?, it's the written language, most people don't read, language ability, would you?, going to psychics, no one would go because they know it's bullshit (deep down), those who've read the book of ages never admit to it, conversations about certain topics because they're not read for it, good old days of forums, yelling against the wind, work it out themselves, a lesson from getting things right, you don't want to waste time, Fermat's most efficient system, you wanna be that way soon, computer games, no unlimited quarters, taking the ferry, the Sunshine Coast (British Columbia), riding the Queen Of Nanaimo, my Tron story, a clone of Defender, a side-scroller, demo mode, “insert coin”, a weird phenomena, at what point did I lose control?, computer games, Battlefield 4, the same kind of frustration, when you’re in the “zone” where time flows differently, your brain chemicals are elevated, it’s like I’m on drugs, where frustration comes from, why the ancient Greeks are all about fate, errors are going to creep in, in a certain sense it’s all scripted, dealing with this theme more explicitly, the one with the button, what to make of all of this?, a creepier sense of this poor woman, what a horrible existence, I cherish every moment, it’s only when things don’t going according to my script, even better!, only a lack of knowledge is upsetting, however we’re supposed to perceive it, it doesn’t make her upset, euphoric in the flow state, a logic defeated by the film, there’s no drama like that in the story, our realization of what Ted Chiange has done with that two hours of text, very Borgesian, a science fiction writer’s version of Borges, the text fixed, all the contents are immutable and yet we continue reading it, Big Trouble In Little China, Galaxy Quest, knowing the end doesn’t distract from the movie, is there a word for a fear of predictability?, do things unexpectedly all the time please, such a horror, he’s also Lovecraft, barrel shaped, At The Mountains Of Madness, The Shadow Out Of Time, an experience that the narrator can’t do anything time, if Lovecraft could ever write about a mom…, a professor who has a strange experience with an otherworldly creature, unavailability and a horror, a slow build up of tension, the whole bomb sequence, the alt-right talk show Alex Jones character, the latest series of Homeland, is in the death process, they knew it was coming, the spray (of shit?) all over the screen, their writing reflects their perception of reality, their speech doesn’t reflect their perception, from the end of the Mist, that’s just how we perceive it,they don’t really look like that, big pieces of silica, 12 vs. 112, why only 12?, this is a math problem, only one pair of aliens in all of those looking glasses, time fracture, all-time/no-time, there might only be one alien, when you’re perceiving things differently, why did the aliens come to visit?, we need reasons when we walk out of the movie theater, the 3,000 years thing, at the moment I was satisfied, Fermat and the light, for teleological reasons, knowing where it’s going and where it’s been all at the same time, we think of cause and effect, the universe is a book that can be read a couple of different ways, in a story vs. in a movie, we’re so conditioned, getting mad at the movie, are they just scientists?, the Strugatsky brothers, Roadside Picnic, animals, we are come and creepy like that, animals are almost never interested in having conversations,
The universe was a language with a perfectly ambiguous grammar. Every physical event was an utterance that could be parsed in two entirely different ways, one causal and the other teleological.
the rabbit is ready to eat, the rabbit is ready? hungry rabbits vs. hungry people, time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana, fruit doesn’t fly, fruit stays still – like bananas, free as in software not as like free as in beer, FREE BEER!, free software is infinitely copyable, grammar allows for multiple meanings too, parallels with Contact (1997), a little bit like an homage, complete with the religious nuts, a cult, Heaven’s Gate, a nice metaphor for our current times, what the State Department is going to think, a clown show, nothing they do matters, clearly filmed before the Trump presidency, could you film it now?, somehow Trump makes it more realistic, who would do that?, a big tantrum, stop talking to them bigly, the score and cinematography, the same director and composer, I’ve seen the future don’t be so excited, moderate your expectations, dreaming about hectopod unlocking future memories, seeing snatches of the future, it rewired Paul’s brain, really affecting stories, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, TED Talks, a TED Talk talking point, linguistic relativity, stories are what come out of language, stories that resonate, when she’s reading Goldilocks to her daughter, you’re not telling it right, threefold magic, that’s all you need to know, always the same reaction and always a different reaction, the three chairs, the bowls, the three beds, somebody’s been sitting in my chair, somebody’s been eating my porridge, somebody’s been sleeping in my bed and there she is!, being able to retell, this is how Homer’s stories are designed, rosy fingered dawn, memory cues, hhmms and hawws, the epithets, tools and tricks evolved naturally out of us, Maissa enjoying Galaxy Quest again and again, Seth McFarlane’s The Orville, a whole series?, In The Mountains Of Madness by W. Scott Poole, I Am Providence by Nick Mamatass, the subgenre, Murder At The ABA by Isaac Asimov, mysteries set at mystery or science fiction conventions, authors writing what they know, Winter’s Tide, Lovecraft Country, Goodreads.com is good for satisfying hate-ons, here’s my position: I’m better than you, you with your Lovecraftian tentacle shirt…, the opposite of Ted Chiang, some sort of ethos or ethical system, there’s not just going with it and seeing how it goes, he has something to say, crafted not rushed, awards are wrong on the grand scheme, Parsec and Nebula awards, if you’re aiming in that direction…, moving through the universe and collecting awards by accident, Hidden Figures (2016), why are they stopped there?, whatever…, should I call a tow truck?, “no, I’ll just bypass the starter?!!?!?”, what the fuck are you talking about?!!?!?, smart women engineers, you can’t bypass starters, IBM, come on!, now you’ve ruined it Jesse, the only reason that exists, they ruined it, they need the sequence, a movie supposedly about science and engineering and then they focus on what makes it actually interesting, an establishing character moment, their so smart they can do magic, for trailer moments, Kevin Costner smashing the bathroom sign, I want to be manipulated, Da Vinci’s Demons, an amazonian parrot in the time of Da Vinci?, we could use african greys, perfectionists and people who don’t care, every word is perfectly placed, he’s clear, every word is carefully place, actually it’s him doing Borges, a much finer point, brains and minds, Exhalation, you can’t use your mind to look at your own mind, doing experimental surgery on his own head using a mirror, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, this is a master at work, everybody in there, he’s a wonder.
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.
The SFFaudio Podcast #319 – Jesse, Julie Davis, Seth, and Maissa continue their journey through The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien with a discussion of Book III “The Treason of Isengard” (aka the first half of The Two Towers).
Talked about on today’s show: Lord of the Rings was published in three volumes instead of six volumes due to paper shortages; surprise, Jesse prefers shorter volumes; Ayn Rand’s thick books, and thin books like Anthem; pocket editions of The Hobbit; small books make us feel like giant Alice in Wonder characters; The Two Towers is the shortest volume, though Return of the King is bulked up by appendices; as a first-time reader, Maissa appreciated the quick pacing; Anthony Boucher’s review claims the volume makes “inordinate demands” on readers; overwhelming back history; the difference of reading review and reading for pleasure; reading at Shadowfax speed!; “hope is in speed”; the poetry of Tolkien’s prose; Anglo-Saxon influence on alliteration in Rohan speech; the beauty of Tolkien’s descriptions; Gimli’s descriptions of the caves; the illegitimate heirs of Tolkien can’t compete with Tolkien’s command of language; the Orcs as comic relief; three factions of Orcs set against the three races of runners; Legolas and Gimli working through their differences; evil by definition does not make alliances; Saruman’s cloak of many colors as a symbol of evil; the Orcs’ lack of coöperation; who is the wandering old man in the hat?; the contrast between the Orc draught and Ent draught, similar to Gandalf’s flask of Miruvor in Book II; the persistent symbolism of waters and drinking in this volume; similarities between Rohan and Anglo Saxon culture; linguistic parallels between the speech of the Rohirrim and Old English; “sister-daughter” and different familial relations in Rohan; the emerging importance of Éowyn; the underpopulation of Middle Earth; parallels between the Third Age of Middle Earth and Europe after the “fall” of Rome; Gondor = Rome to some Tolkien scholars; Dan Carlin’s Blueprint for Armageddon on World War I; the influence of World War I on Tolkien’s writing; flood and trench imagery of Orthanc recalls the devastation of World War I; Middle Earth (and the modern world) is in a time of transition; conversation with Éomer about the persistence of legends; “not we, but those who come after, will make the legends of our time”; people tend not to recognize they’re in a time of transition; Jesse deftly defines “Flotsam and Jetsam” for us and ties them into the book’s backward-looking and forward-looking symbolism; Tolkien’s love of etymology; action like the Ents’ storming of Isengard happens off-stage; Agatha Christie style foreshadowing with Longbottom Leaf; we don’t really care about Helm’s Deep; “Aragorn joined Éomer in the van”; horrible tree puns; Old Forest as the Fangorn of the West; we’re pretty sure the Entwives are hanging out there; the Elves are less interesting than Ents because the Elves are too perfect; the Elves talked the Ents into wakefulness; Shadowfax’s race of horses can understand the speech of men; the pre-speech age of human beings and Koko the gorilla; the Rangers are the detectives of Middle Earth; Voltaire’s Zadie and Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin from The Murders in the Rue Morgue; debate about existence of evidence for the Entwines–stay tuned to the next volume!; finding the Entwives = Mission Impossible (cue theme); the growth (in many ways) of Merry and Pippin; Gandalf’s foresight in allowing them to join the Fellowship; “they are the pebbles that began the avalanche of the Ents’ rising”; the three runners sped 220 kilometers in four days; it proved fortuitous that Pippin found the Palantir; the Palantir is FaceTime with Sauron; Merry and Pippin were key to Boromir’s redemption; return of the black swans–and the eagle!; Ariel in The Tempest by Shakespeare does all the work for Prospero, just like the eagles; Gandalf actually performs magic in “The Voice of Saruman” chapter; the voice in Dune; Gandalf takes over the council of wizards; the blue wizards aren’t present because they’re too “swear-y”; the recurring importance of choice; Tolkien is always on the side of free will; Aragorn’s decision not to follow Frodo; Palantir are the “seven stones” of Gondor’s flag; the Palantir is neither good nor evil; Palantir symbolizes communication of superpowers between the world wars, and the iconic red phone; The Victorian Internet by Tom Standee: the telegraph is the best thing since sliced bread; the lazy visual shortcuts that the movie takes with the Palantir and with Saruman’s influence on Théoden; The Man Who Never Was; meanwhile, Sam and Frodo are slogging through; the inevitable breaking of the Fellowship; the four elements in Gandalf’s death and resurrection; more Lovecraftian weirdness in the bowels of Middle Earth; Gandalf has changed; Norse worm gnawing at the roots of the World Tree; Treebeard as shepherd of the trees; “boom, boom, dahrar!; Net names tell the whole story of things; Freebeard’s bed isn’t for sleeping; Shakespeare’s disappointment at Shakespeare’s sleight-of-hand with the trees of Birnam Wood not actually coming to life in Macbeth; “fear not, till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane” almost perfectly echoed in The Two Towers; nobody does Elves better than Tolkien; the joy Tolkien must have had writing about trees.
“Aragorn and Legolas went now with Eomer in the van.”
The BBC World Service commissions an annual collection of new radio plays from around the world each year. They call it “Worldplay” and this year’s theme was “science.” Entries came in from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, the USA and Canada. It was Canada’s entry that has drawn my ear. Not only because it is Science Fictional (and Horror-ish) but also because it happens to be related to a movie that I told you radio drama fans would probably dig. Here’s a CBC Edmonton review of the movie |MP3| (now on DVD). Perhaps this Pontypool radio drama would have been broadcast on CBC Radio One too, had not the CBC radio drama department been virtually mothballed. Luckily, the BBC and ABC Radio National seem interested in airing new Canadian radio drama even if CBC itself isn’t.
Now for a few caveats. As the Horror Squad blog points out this is not, strictly speaking, a new recording but rather a radio drama created by editing the movie’s dialogue and sound effects tracks. Ultimately, this does hurt the piece; it would have been better to have had these terrific actors in the studio to recreate their performances (as was done by the likes of Lux Radio Theatre). But to my ears this edit is good, if not the ideal. Here’s what Horror Squad said:
“This is actually not a new recording, but simply the original audio of the film re-cut as a play. If you haven’t seen the film, I’d highly recommend you do before giving it a complete listen. As fantastic as the audio side is, one of the best things about the film is Bruce McDonald’s [he’s the film’s director] ability to visually trap you within the confines of the radio station, which is something I fear this 40 minute shorter take on the material is without.”
I myself have a couple factoids about Pontypool the radio drama. I’ll throw out there. First, this AD has a different ending than does the film. Second, it’s substantially abridged. The movie runs 97 minutes, with dialogue running over the opening and closing credits; whereas the AD runs only 53 minutes. The AD’s end credits also, by the way, say that Pontypool, was directed by Gregory J. Sinclair as a production for CBC. This is news to me considering I haven’t heard it broadcast on CBC radio this year, or even announced for the fall. Sinclair, incidentally, is the producer of CBC Radio’s last standing radio drama series, Afghanada. Have a listen to Pontypool. It’s a very Canadian zombie story. I really liked it a lot!
By Tony Burgess; Performed by a full cast Streaming Audio – Approx. 58 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC World Service / Worldplay
Broadcast: June 21, 2009 “Shock jock Grant Mazzy has, once again, been kicked-off the Big City airwaves and now the only job he can get is the early morning show at CLSY Radio in Pontypool Ontario, which broadcasts from the basement of the small town’s only church. What begins as another boring day of school bus cancellations, due to yet another massive snow storm, quickly turns deadly when reports start piling in of people developing strange speech patterns and evoking horrendous acts of violence start piling in. But there’s nothing coming in on the news wires. Is this really happening? Before long, Grant and the small staff at CLSY find themselves trapped in the radio station as they discover that this insane behaviour taking over the town is actually a deadly virus being spread through the English language itself. Do they stay on the air in the hopes of being rescued or, are they in fact providing the virus with its ultimate leap over the airwaves and into the world? Based on the novel Pontypool Changes Everything. Starring Stephen McHattie, Lisa Poole, Georgina Reilly, Rick Roberts, Hrant Alianak and Daniel Fathers .
This is also available in MP3 format via RadioArchive.cc along with more of the Worldplay dramas.
And, for australian listeners without torrent capability, via ABC Radio National |STREAMING|.
Our U.K. radio spotter, Roy, has pointed out a couple of recent BBC broadcasts that are still available for your listening pleasure.
BBC R4 Monday 1st June 11:30-12:00 Newfangle episode 1/6.
Radio Times says:
“Sitcom set among a tribe of proto-humans. Newfangle is bottom of the heap – despised by his mother, savaged by Alf on a daily basis and ignored by Snaggle, his favourite female. But Newfangle is a hominid with big ideas. In this opening episode he invents language, which he hopes will transform his situation, only to find words have a way of being twisted to unpleasant uses”.
BBC R4 Tuesday 2nd June 14:15-15:00 Afternoon Play: On Ego
Says the Radio Times:
“Alex believes people and emotions are just a bunch of neurons and uses a teleportation device to prove it. When the machine malfunctions, & his wife falls ill, he is forced to question his beliefs. A Sci- Fi drama from writer Mick Gordon and neuropsychologist Paul Broks”.
These are still be available via ‘listen again’ – or even better via Radio Downloader!