The SFFaudio Podcast #618 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #618 – The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake; read by Gregg Margarite (for LibriVox.org). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (1 hour 4 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons

Talked about on today’s show:
authors like Westlake, seeing the ending coming, Amazing, March 1961, which ending?, a cynical person, when you’re a lawyer…, lawyer brain, ruining your enjoyment?, you feel smart, reading mysteries, ahead of the curve, forgetting the ending every time, a double twist ending, Westlake is amazing, his most Amazing story, he doesn’t like his boss but he puts up with him, fire and theft in New York, space missions, a meta-story, Westlake’s career, a crime story, a locked room mystery, a series, he could easily lose all the money, a triple twist ending, there could have been!, planned all along, contingency plans for everything, he was planning this forever, cleverer than they knew, the worldbuilding, this could have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, they don’t seem to have the internet, real last name, Ab and Jafe and Ged, an Expanse story, space stations around Earth, a colony on Luna, a gold rush story, The Expanse, what’s driving this?, brilliant people going out to make their money, Jesse can explain it all, they shrivel up, not mostly Australians, mostly Americans, obsessed with the country in which he lives, The Spy In The Elevator, the theme about government, a hands-off government, the Double RP deal, uninsurables, very rapacious capitalism, definitely his signature, handwriting analysis is not as robust as people want it to be, a part of our toolkit, he actually did sign it, this retirement plan, cash return form, well…there’s a law, they wouldn’t give money if they didn’t have to, the corruption somehow didn’t work that day, the insurance lobby, an insurance investigator, a hidden theme, Evan Lampe’s podcast on Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick is obsessed with the frontier, Lovecraft: forgetting and the sea, Westlake is obsessed with insurance, Somebody Owes Me Money, a nephew novel, this weird phenomenon, characterization, the best insurance policy, it seems like if I go with this plan…, why is this in here?, calling Paul Westlake up, his first published story as a professional, government is insurance, helping me not worry about stuff, what taxes are insurance payments, health care, car insurance, the army, in tight alliance with our neighbours, what the RCMP is for, thinking of government as insurance, we have to defend this, Corona virus, starving to death, that payment is insurance, keeping the system stable, an evil universe, anybody who cheats on their CERB is going to be investigated, UBI, telling the company being afraid of its boss, an insight into a terrible, who is the government an insurance policy for?, insurance for the employers, the primary beneficiaries are the stock owners, the WE fake charity, speaking fees, a $14,000 vacation for a minister, if the stockholders are not the general public then they are working for a subset of them, the cynicism is not the focus, an Agatha Christie style locked-room mystery, if it was the government…, the last book, Anarchaos, the absence of insurance companies, a possibility of taking your crime with you, government ideas, ethics, if he wasn’t so greedy, he wouldn’t have gotten away with it, that Scooby Doo ending, alive and in France, they all look exactly the same, Atronics, Chemisant, Ludlum, they sound like things we would get, company towns, how it worked in Anarchaos, Vicco, Kentucky, a ghost town called IOCO (Imperial Oil Company), all the way from Trinidad?, Alcan, through the panama canal, that’s where the power is, if the company goes out of business, those fly-over states, bringing mining back, northern Minnesota, Westlake is incredibly subtle, if you look for the signs, standout lines, there he is, he’s kind of a ghost, the description of the boss and his hands, always smooth, skepticism, the spaceship west of Cairo, the good ship Demeter, g-sickness pills, I was as sick as a dog, as depressing as Turkish bath with all the lights on, a welder’s practice range, a transparent dome would have been more fun, cheap iron, polishing his own spacesuit’s inside, debris, shit orbiting earth, paint chips, some physics problems, jollier, scooters and tuggers, industry troopers, capitalism, the winners of capitalism, square corners painted olive drab, International Atronics Incorporated, high wages, how do you make a vacuum tube?, the tech of the now, he’s putting it in your hand, dribbled down the elevator, the opening of Anarchaos, a milk run, other adventures, Martians, alien insurrections, you don’t even notice, Westlake has opted out, high school, air-force, a Snow top, a white helmeted MP, a set of background for his writing career, hints as to what was striking him, The Man With The Getaway Face by Richard Stark, plastic surgery, Will needs to read that book, falling in love with the author, the driver was an ex-communist party enforcer, Parker was in WWII, be a thief, Westlake started in law enforcement, healthcare, hunger, being in the army is being in a socialist state, he’s a cop in a socialist state, your health insurance, your housing, most people never think about it, Westlake is some kind of weird intellectual, his only way to make a living is to tell people lies, the more interesting your lies are the better your living, my god this is good!, psycho-analyzing his own thing, there’s some substance to it, Tomorrow’s Crimes, the closest to a crime story, a philosopher of crime, he got a lot of letters from prison, prisoners loved his crime books, rats, pulling the perfect job is amazing, once you can’t turn to the cops for help you’re always on his own, he can’t trust his partners, he murders the taxi-man, he’s here to enact his power fantasy in a libertarian state, yay!, a funny way of thinking of what he’s doing, how do you survive in the 20th century?, why would he leave SF?, not financially viable, series is where the money is, science fiction is kind of the opposite of series, its finished, Melinda Snodgrass, fulfilling a role were; not supposed to have, science fiction can be applied to any literary genre, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, we know him from his SF, movies, a tonne of crime, a mystery set in a science fiction universe, I can make the rules, The Caves Of Steel, people don’t go outside, The Hole Man by Larry Niven, Paul’s theory of mysteries, a fair mystery, there’s two suits sitting there, he red-herring’d it, polished his silvered faceplate visor, where the whole thing started, built the whole story around the image, gold in the NASA suits, gold vs. silver, 30 pieces of silver, a different Adams, a lot of domes, the scooters are domes, the asteroid city dome, Finder by Suzanne Palmer, an Apollo Program, understatement, its egg shaped body, green, very army, “the windshield” translucency, floating forever, foreshadowing, we’re him, our hero Jed, he took so long to come home, Will’s a little acquisitive, really empathizing with this story, giant pile of metal, an intellectual exercise, you’re feeling like the guy, Will’s a little bit different than Jesse, an office job, petty bourgeois technician, a life of quiet desperation, Fight Club, breaking his own identity, identity switching, A Bullet For Cinderella, the cultural universe it comes out of, John D. MacDonald, we should eventually do all of the Westlake novels, The Green Eagle Score, the titles run in streaks, Parker robs an air force base, army guys, that rock concert sure is loud, think of all the money from the concessions, scores, a couple of decades between books, see the pattern?, he’s just being playful, he’s a hunter, then he becomes a shark, eventually he gets married, just keep me in flowers and champagne, they start getting silly, he’s got a real sense of humour, cuz sharks don’t laugh at jokes, funny doings, isnights into a person’s character by reading essentially throwaway stories, different from making a movie or a TV show, one person generally, a sense of through-line, wouldn’t you rather know what H. Rider Haggard was thinking than some adaptation of his novel?, too ponderous, Edgar Rice Burroughs, limited success, the way Frankenstein movies gets Frankenstein so wrong, the smartest man who ever lived, I Tarzan you Jane, “Fire bad” vs. soliloquy, learned to speak and read through a crack in a wall, you can’t see those hand gestures, those wry lines, all these flavours of cocktails, bitter but also delicious, rye, very fluffy, it feels so fluffy, so good!, reading Lester Del Rey, so hamfistedly bad, he’ll get you drunk you don’t even know you’re drinking, terribly clunky, For I Am A Jealous People by Lester Del Rey, he’s good at lifting, The Faithful, Reading, Short And Deep, uplifted dogs, dog pilots with surgically altered hands, the last man has died, a very Will story, uplifted gorillas, so badly written, that’s kinda super-racist right there, so hamfisted, a green and lovely world, Man’s creation, worship the memory, Who Can Replace A Man by Brian Aldiss, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, WWI, Lester Del Rey is making moves, here’s four more 10 hour novels, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, City by Clifford Simak, Desertion by Clifford Simak, Cemetery World, animal stuff, we go sideways, this is a dog man, James Powell, 130 stories, A Dirge For Clowntown, Inspector Bozo, a world worry down on his luck aging clown detective, a clown police procedural in a clown universe, his clown wife, the clowns are the white people, the other race is the mimes, mime on mine violence, Discworld novels, not a fantasist in a normal sense, its just so weird, its its own literary thing, The Code Of The Poodles, episode 81, humorous fantasy crime, The Friends Of Hector Jouvet, A Pocketful Of Noses, a unique voice, Ed Wood, pre-everybody.

The Risk Profession by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

Reading, Short And Deep #205 – The Doomdorf Mystery by Melville Davisson Post

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #205

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Doomdorf Mystery by Melville Davisson Post

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Doomdorf Mystery was first published in The Saturday Evening Post, July 18, 1914.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #202 – The Star by Arthur C. Clarke

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #202

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Star by Arthur C. Clarke

The Star was first published in Infinity Science Fiction, November 1955.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #194 – The Altar by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #194

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Altar by Robert Sheckley

The Altar was first published in Fantastic, July-August 1953.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #188 – The Haunted Tomb by C.H. Shanan, Assoc. M. Inst. C.E.

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #188

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Haunted Tomb by C.H. Shanan, Assoc. M. Inst. C.E.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Haunted Tomb was first published in The Wide World, July 1915.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #516 – READALONG: The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #516 – Jesse, Mr Jim Moon, Maissa Bessada, and Evan Lampe talk about The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Talked about on today’s show:
1920, serialized with wonderful illustrations, WWI, volunteer hospital dispensary, Cynthia, Dashiell Hammett, Dick worked in a repair shop, H.P. Lovecraft never left his house, the best selling novelist of all time, Shakespeare, pretty impressive, go back to the start, so polished, Sherlock Holmes, her first dog was named George Washington, Agatha Christie: surfer, her house was named Styles, her husband had an affair, she mysteriously disappeared, Curtain, the template for her later books, a court case, gathering everyone together in the library, Captain Hastings, his brother she kept in a basket, Oscar Wilde, interactive, written on a wager, the ideal detective story, what really made her reputation, what she’s created here is something people really liked, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, an intellectual game you play with yourself, Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin, the novelized form of a game that can only be played between a reader and an author, a sudoku puzzle, “cosy” murders, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Choose Your Own Adventure books, props, the map of the house, the fragment of the will, play along at home, tremendously cool, an ahead of its time idea, Dell mapbacks, Avon mapback, a very American cover, Marilyn Monroe, the layout of styles, who’s lying, American hardboiled, so detached, emigres, the corrupt police department, everyone’s dirty, Raymond Chandler, a body, a motive, more escapist than fantasy literature, who killed this nice lady, who started this goddamned war that’s killing everybody, Bryan Alexander, it can’t but help talk about WWI, pro-war rallies, patriotic Belgian refugees, the rape of Belgium, an offer to write propaganda, unemployed uppercrust guys, Inspector Japp is not the right class, I much prefer the Belgies, aint your ordinary run of foreigners, noir books, James M. Cain, the murderers are the main characters, suspense, game-playing fantasy, if you could do anything after the war, I’d like to be a detective (like Sherlock Holmes), Jesse ruins the show, 15 Agatha Christies, read like popcorn, so relaxing, so untaxing, turn on my brain more, Chandler, the breakdowns of people’s lives and marriages, Hastings is sort of a flake, offers to marry the first lady who starts crying in front of him, an odd scene, someone might take you up on it, failed romance, the promise that made Agatha Christie very wealthy, there could be more of these adventures, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Miss Marple, problems from success, an outsider’s view of something very inside, Murder In Mesopotamia, Murder On The Orient Express, this is where Agatha Christie wrote, basing it on her own experience, losing money, murder for revenge, murder for love, murder for money, mostly money, Evelyn Howard, playing housemaid, a con-artist, American hardboiled evil characters, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the estate is a diner in California, the Howard and Inglethorp relationship, the intricacy of the plotting, double jeopardy, civics class, this cleverness, like a puzzle, The Simple Art Of Murder by Raymond Chandler, the authentic flavour of life, begging the question, a really long game, deeply embedded, impressively patient, on vacation in Dartmoor, The Hound Of the Baskervilles, the isolated house, a convoluted plot to disinherit somebody, red herrings, almost efficient, legitimated, the spy, the escaped lunatic, thrown off the scent, not the way murders actually take place, the Khashoggi assassination, reading too many Agatha Christies, lured into an embassy, a hit team, a lot more grubby, Jesse wrecks the podcast again, real life murders, John Haigh, the next rung on the ladder, when bodies are dissolving, poison is her trademark, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books, the American response to Christie and Holmes, “I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you all here”, the real murderer is revealed, the consulting detective, kinda strange, kinda weird, no matter where he goes people die, Miss Marple, Angela Lansbury’s Murder She Wrote, the most prolific serial killer, the title, all the mysterious affairs, Dorcas, Jonathan Fast, a strange SFy name, don’t write notes to your gf, they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for Poirot, an antecedent in Sherlock Holmes, leaning on an intellectual heavyweight, Hastings has his heart too much on his face, a vague suspicion of everything, the game is under foot, how self-aware this is, I’m a kind of literary detective, Tommy and Tuppence, this is a thing in this world, her second husband was an archaeologist, ahead of her time on the meta-stuff, more than 60 novels, Philip K. Dick had 40 novels, this drive to write, Stephen King’s legacy, Mr Jim Moon’s Stephen King shelves, back to King, The Running Man, The Long Walk, a straight-up metaphor for life, from the alien perspective, newsreel footage from the 1930s, wearing a hat, Our Dumb Century, “Man Ventures Outside Hatless”, sunglasses replaced hats, the fossil of a whole fleshed out society that existed, John Buchan, the politics, Belgian refugees, the Poirot TV show, a French detective, a detective has to have a quirk, McCloud, Cannon, Ironsides, quirks, a cup of hot chocolate to get the little grey cells working, an outsider who brings insight into the cases, tapping into the same thing Jane Austen does, closely observing society, classes, a close up focus, shared DNA, upper classes, seeing the dirty laundry, quaint and cozy, later books, the interwar years, a very static world, the way class works in England, hardboiled novels, a more liquid environment, you get to ignore class conflict and unions, inheritance, always on vacation, the investigation is into people’s character, whether Mr Darcy is a jerk, whether this man is suitable for marriage, an orphan who gets adopted, seven Belgians, the audio drama, her patriotic poem, go fight in the war and get killed, the Napoleonic wars, detachment makes them popular, an escape, her perspective, poisoning thousands (with her words), toured the world, staying at the Ritz, Jack London, send me to the worst part of town, The People Of The Abyss, those who don’t live off of the investments of their grandfather, the best selling novelist of all time is a woman, she’s the J.R.R. Tolkien of the mystery, Alfred Hitchcock, The Feminization Of American Culture by Ann Douglas, Mary Wollstonecraft, women should marry their friends, poetry is peacock feathers, “dude this will get you chicks”, a valuable skill, not our world, the amazing thing about humans is we’re not as visual as we think we are, we live in the world of words, Lovecraft’s spells, false realities, oral cultures, languages and literary traditions, a bookshelf is case of spellbooks, a certain kind of magic, the primary medium, music, idea based SF vs. cozy based mystery solving, politicize Dick’s works, the worst sin she commits, pure escapism, detached relationships, there’s a wall all the way through it, a big circle, skating along the perimeter, look for the things that aren’t there, children, all adult children, Hallowe’en Party, Mr Jim Moon’s Halloween researches, a wonderful childhood, the money went away, WWI pilot, a little too attractive, he’s too pretty, that famous disappearance, the darkest incident in a person’s life, public crisis, so guarded in her interview, the worst incident in Philip K. Dick’s life, the lowest point of people’s lives, a very very very famous writer, a fulfilling life, a life well led, the adaptations, Japanese mysteries, the audio drama vs. the TV adaptation, really well put together, seeing the mustache, whole mediums come in, Maissa’s audio drama video, a poolside infodump, Big Finish, the modern novel is showing some signs of wear, new technologies, a VR story industry, streamer media, Twitch, what the kids are doing, kind of like podcasting in realtime, celebrities, content creators, Deadmau5, Dr DisRespect, performing and talking, whatever medium in 50 or 60 years they’ll be doing documentaries about these people, not only for children, livestreaming, drawing, a new medium, magazines, what we imagined 2019 would be like, it was not this, the war is barely there in the book, adaptions play up the war, she plays down the war, The Mousetrap is excellent, a great sense of humour, everybody did it.

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Pan - The Mysterious Affair At Styles by Agatha Christie

Posted by Jesse Willis