The 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.