The SFFaudio Podcast #497 – READALONG: Dune (Appendices) by Frank Herbert

October 29, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #497 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Bryan Alexander, talk about Dune: Appendices by Frank Herbert aka the appendixes of Dune, the adaptations, and the book’s influence.

Talked about on today’s show:
the Appendix, a world first?, The Lord Of The Rings, Tom Bombadil, Tom Baker, most science fiction books don’t have appendices, Ringworld, Hal Clement’s Mission Of Gravity, The Ecology Of Dune, The Silmarillion, more fiction, out-takes from world-building, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, glossary, what makes an appendix an appendix, non-fictional matter that explains and develops a world, really wants to be Dune, Christo Empire Silence , an empire must be get-able to, Aba – loose robe worn by Fremen women, usually black, another episode, Kynes came first, his babies, doing all that work, so fully thought through, the seams are as smooth as the desert sand, a skeptical point of view, past the point where you need it, the American edition of A Clockwork Orange, a glossary of the slang, a weird supplement, you don’t need the map, Eric Rabkin, transformed language, new or repurposed vocabulary, lasgun, a demystifier, the terminology of the impreium, demi-brother, cone of silence, Get Smart, a superfluousness, a playground of the imagination, peons, he put it into the book but he doesn’t use the word, the real reason, Dune lives beyond the last chapter, there is only one Dune movie, the Sci-Fi channel miniseries are fucking terrible, wasn’t there a book too, heartplugs, there’s no heartplugs in the original Dune book, a life much greater than the final word of the last sentence of the last book of Dune, sequels by other hands, Star Wars, Jesse’s spirited defense of the weirding modules, David Lynch’s Dune doesn’t capture the Paul – Duncan Idaho relationship, whiny Paul, “I just want to see my dad”, “Paul we don’t need your sarcasm”, Paul is the receiver of a long tradition, the Harkonnens, they’re not joking around, William Hurt, casting, ending scenes with a rhyming couplet, the Jodorowsky Dune, Pink Floyd, a fantasy dream, Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary, stories and stories, visual matches, Hollywood loves to pilfer from foreign films, movies that come out in pairs, Deep Impact and Armageddon, psychedelic, using drugs to expand consciousness, a sixties novel, a seventies novel, the ecological part, the rain at the end, the reward for the ritual sacrifice of Sting, the galactic setting, the mythical part, Beatles, El Topo (1970), a psychedelic western, The Holy Mountain (1973), it makes Zardoz looks like an after-school special, Santa Sangre (1989), Lynch was the wrong director, the anti-epic, the greatest science fiction film every made, trying to turn Dune into a movie, the Allan Smithee version, the Japanese laser-disc version, we gotta lot of characters, we gotta infodumping, all the things that happen, more than enough for a season of a television show, Francessa Annis, Leonardo Cimino, the Baron’s Doctor, your diseases made love to me, Brad Dourif, he treats everyone like an idiot, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, and his co-stars, there’s nothing about eyebrows in the book, the kind of detail Jesse is loving, visualization, The Death Of Stalin (2017), Steve Buscemi, Brezhnev, Richard Jordan, Kyle Maclachlan, a blank slate, Blue Velvet, The Trigger Effect (1996), The Twilight Zone, very present for its time, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill, Twin Peaks, Jack Nance, Nefud, they’ve even got his music in there, it’s unbelievable, Jürgen Prochnow, Patrick fuckin Stewart, a battle pug!, dogs, Atredies, RPG launchers, Long live Duke Leto!, no pets on Dune, if Queen Elizabeth showed up with her corgis, Lynch added, he worked on the script for six months, so full, it works really well if you know the story, how come everybody isn’t watching this every night, the third stage guild navigators, giant slug people, Sardaukar Terror Troops, visually what is happening, Wellington Yueh, Asian, international casting, red haired, every grunt is ginger, a horrible sex scene, the heartplug is the symbol for that kind of perversion, it is the novel in a very real sense, the cat’s job is to show that Thufir is being controlled, they had to cut stuff, whole scenes added at the beginning of the film, it really almost is the book, its awesome!, so accessible, people who’ve read the book tend to be dismayed by it, the tradition of epic film, Akira Kurosawa, Kubrik’s Spartacus, the Battle of the Five Armies, The Straight Story, a really weird noise, finally a David Lynch moment, Inland Empire (2006), Mullholland Drive (2001), a perfect horror film in three minutes, a very strange scene, the floating fatman, never before never since, every war movie, the sense of pageantry, the sense of scale and heat, desert coloured fatigues, a sense of scale that the book can’t, the production history, Dino De Laurentiis, watching people on stage, the worms are fabulous, a universal film, Star Wars for grown ups, this is not Buck Rogers, completely belly-flopped, way the minority, a punchline, the existential bleakness of the Dune Coloring Book, let’s color the Baron’s Doctor, incredibly abbreviated, 129 theatrical, 176 minutes, how weird it is, whispered though narration, “My Duke. How I’ve failed you!”, literally weird as in weird fiction, hypnotizing, straight out of the book, the banquet scene, My Dinner With Andre, a whole episode, everything about the miniseries is terrible, more Irulan in the TV mini-series, disembodied head, nice and Lynchian, Dune Messiah, more cat-milking, the goddamn weirding modules, all the other versions of Dune, a jazz album from the 1970s, a board game, the real time strategy game, The Dune Encyclopedia, The Dune Companion, this isn’t a concordance, creative stuff, Game Of thrones, where it could have gone beyond, not-ordinary fan fiction, its the Talmud, oh my god!, especially Jesse, expanding out that universe, what’s in this that inspires that?, what would hook him?, that whole weird trip, the world-building that went into the book, historical novels, Steen Hansen, thank you Steen, Steen’s spirit animal is the Baron from the movie, he’s the ID unleashed, such a fucking evil shit that you love, little Alia, Rabban rips the face off a cow, “Yeth my Baron!”, this is not a rip-off of Star Wars, Tatooine, we got some moisture vaporators, some bantha tracks, Carrie Fisher back from the dead flying through space with magic woo powers, the comparison, the centerpieces, Paul Atredies and Luke Skywalker, the National Lampoon, the Dessert World, “my god I’m good, my god…I’m God!”, power fantasies, such a period piece, staying power beyond the 1960s and 1970s, the spaceship earth mode, oil and scarcity, the attitude towards sexuality, the homophobic strain, will that power last?, that’s just the way the world works these days, absent an adaptation…, Altered Carbon, a book compressed and shoved into a film medium, it’s time to talk about the weirding modules, untranslatable to film, much easier to film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Harry Potter is much more influenced by film than other fantasy novels prior to it, Rowlings books have scenes and sequences, rich and deep themes about psychology, loyalty, love, the weirding way, a specialized athlete, very hard to translate that to film, yoga mats, aligning chakras, montage, “you have the weirding way”, why these people are special, the new army, a second level guild navigator cleaning up urine with a broom, making small-talk, you are transparent, the emperor spills his guts, a filmable film, set the film in motion, a through-line, the training scenes, “kick it, punch it, yell at it”, they have laser swords!, some sort of gimmick item, Krull (1983), how the voice can control people, “My name is a killing”, Usul no longer needs the weirding module, a perfect film, “THE (film) adaptation of DUNE full stop end of story”, watching, listening, Dune Messiah, how we’re going to overthrow Paul, we once made a Kwisatz Haderach but we had to kill him, a prophet, many such prophets, Joseph Smith, Jesus, a lost of thread of Dune, that’s the kind of passion, a flying Dutchman of space, dates mentioned in the book, the history from 1980 to Dune’s future, so generative, Stephenson tells you everything, CHOAM, Noam Chomsky, why Jesse is completely wrong about the weirding modules, Arnold J. Toynbee, history, challenge and response, The Dosadi Experiment, Babylon 5, why the Fremen are such great fighters, the Vorlons are the democrats, the Shadows are the republicans, and the solution is to get out from under both, deliberately creating these conditions, serving wench, God Emperor Of Dune, unless you squeeze and squeeze the human race will be killed off, one Sardaukar throws two Atredies, the training montage, training a unit, “fit him with the weirding module, Doctor Yueh”, activate a fighter, paralleled in the back end, the fighting machine, this could have been a great theme, Denis Villeneuve, visuals, music, favorite actors, Arrival (2016) had scale, Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), if you’re doing the book, look at The Hobbit, they’re doing it wrong, five dwarves too many, where’s the poetry, to film the impossible film, Brian Herbert, Eric Roth, War And Peace, the Soviet 8 hour film, Lynch put such a stamp, when you’re watching the miniseries, sentences, spun and respun, the previous incantations, the power of the word, Soviet movies, formally possible, production, do a TV show, The Man In The High Castle, Sharknado 5, sigh, Sicario (2015), HBO, Westworld, cinematic universes, The Expanse, back into the book and the books, all those cultures and all those secrets, such depth, if you could read the book and enjoy it you could be my friend, in 1983/4, Starlog, the stills, one more adaptation, the Audible multiple narrator edition, George Guidall, a 2010 music video starring Christopher Walken, check out my new weapon, walk without rhythm you won’t attract the worm, the wonderful dance, this crazy book line, the power of these words, still influencing, an ars technica discussion, Second Life, three different Dune re-enactment levels, a still suit, a chrysknife, scheduled reenactments, Prim Perfect, a tottaly VR game, oh my love girl, knife fight with Sting!, prescient visions, the appropriate use the media, infeasible/unfeasable, nobody loves every episode, there’s more interest in Dune podcast episodes, independent of hype, Luke Burrage, Comic Book Girl 19‘s Dune show, holy crap she’s a genius, becoming hyper-intelligent when talking about it, doing something profound to the reader, fake excitement, New Releases/Recent Arrivals, most of it is artificial, Bryan do you want to show on Greenmantle by John Buchan?, the best of a bunch of bad books, revisiting Dune with you, is that the end? it could be the end, but there’s no sequels, that was just the excuse, the trigger for the movie talk, shitting on the Bene Gesserit for being a little dumb, the Religions of Space Travel, published by Chilton, what it did for Chilton, when you break the mold, people want the mold, the publishers tell authors what to write, John W. Campbell, the Golden Age, Extra Credits, the book business, the Golden Age for some people?, the dignity, a new golden age?, stuff was really great back in that time, The First Golden Age of SF 1938-1946, 1947-1959, the rise of the paperback, writing paperbacks, from short stories to novels (and then series), changing the SF genre immensely, a whole new market, Del Rey, The Sword Of Shannara, extruded fantasy product, the grim dark era, a piracy show, never underestimate the power for the demand of a product, Tolkien didn’t want his books published in paperback, the ACE The Lord Of The Rings, an authorized paperback edition, not-piracy per-se, the history of their own industry, demand that isn’t supplied, suppression, getting that supply, the words must flow, paperbacks and pockets, “you could get hardcover books of Tolkien at the library”, in the modern era, a digital copy, Tolkien’s feelings about the wretchedness, Dune rules as a paperback, piracy is just demand, Wayne June is super-popular, beneficial to Wayne June, they are loving giving him money, not knowing what the market’s actually like, fictional author: Alice Beth Chatham, both sides, look to your own experience, piracy is a way of getting stuff when you don’t have any money, really complex, sometimes flattering, a weird argument with the head of the RIAA, steal this episode, pay for this episode, obscurity is the big problem, somebody got mad, an author dropped by the publisher, lost sales, save it for the pirate episode?

Map of Arrakis

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

June 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Fantasy Audiobook - The Broken Sword by Poul AndersonThe Broken Sword
By Poul Anderson; Read by Bronson Pinchot
7 CDs – 8 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2011
ISBN: 9781441786876
Themes: / Fantasy / Vikings / Myth / Battle /

The Viking Age of England offers fertile ground for storytelling. It was a time of strong men, beautiful fair-haired women, and bloody raids for plunder. Christianity was the new religion on the block, striving to make inroads on the old pagan beliefs—and often at the point of a sword. Gods were said to mingle with men and the world lay poised on the edge of Ragnarok, a final battle and fiery conflagration that would end the world.

Poul Anderson drew on the best of this wild and poetic age, stirred it up with myth and fantasy, and the result was his 1954 novel The Broken Sword. Its like has rarely been matched in the annals of fantasy literature.

I’ve read The Broken Sword previously and knew what a wonderful book it was, but TV and film actor Bronson Pinchot’s narration in this new Blackstone Audio, Inc. production added a new dimension to the novel. I had first heard Pinchot in a reading of Stephen King’s Eyes of the Dragon. While he was wonderful there he ups his game in The Broken Sword, reading with a spite and fury in his voice that perfectly matches the book’s unrelenting grimness and battle fury. Pinchot breathes life into beautiful maidens and proud warriors, deep-throated trolls, and ancient elven warrior-kings whose voices are like winds sighing through treeless leaves.

Oddly enough there is exactly one sound effect in the entire recording—an echo effect used to convey the cold, cruel laughter of Odin—and it’s on the final disc. It was cool but rather jarring, considering it’s on the last disc and there’s no precursor. But on to the tale.

In The Broken Sword the land of Faerie exists alongside the lands of men, invisible save to those with the witch sight. Faerie is a land of bright castles and achingly lovely elves, of the gods of Odin and Tyr, the giants of Jotunheim, black-eyed trolls, and other, fouler monsters.

Pride and ambition touches off the events of The Broken Sword. Orm the Strong is the fifth son of Ketil Asmundsson and thus low in the totem pole of inheritance. Rather than accept a smaller share of wealth Orm seeks his own fortune by going a–viking. On one of his raids he kills a husband and his sons, burning their hall to the ground. The man’s mother, a witch, escapes and swears revenge: She bestows a curse that Orm’s eldest son will be fostered beyond the world of men, while he in turn will foster a wolf that will one day rend him.

The elf-earl Imric travels to the lands of men and sets the witch’s curse in motion. Imric takes Orm’s unbaptized infant son Skafloc and replaces him with Valgard, a changeling, whom Imric himself has fathered by raping a captive troll woman. Valgard’s dark ancestry is evident when he bites his unknowing mother’s breast and grows restless and violent in Orm’s care. Skafloc, raised among the elves, is fair haired and fair of spirit, though equally mighty and otherwise a mirror image of his dark changeling “brother.”

After he discovers his true half troll, half-elf heritage, Valgard embarks on a mission of revenge, killing several members of his foster family. Aided with an army of trolls he then launches a war of annihilation on the elven lands of Alfheim. Skafloc and the elves are beaten back by the initial assaults and all seems lost. Only by going on a quest to reforge a powerful ancient weapon—the eponymous broken sword, a weapon of terrible demonic power that demands blood each time it is drawn and ultimately turns on its wielder—can Skafloc save Alfheim and avenge his family.

Though The Broken Sword seems largely forgotten these days it remains influential. The elf Imric for example reveals the clear stylistic (and thematic) influence The Broken Sword had on subsequent authors like Michael Moorcock. Moorcock (a big fan of the book, who once wrote thatThe Broken Sword “knocked The Lord of the Rings into a cocked hat”) based his Melniboneans heavily on Anderson’s elves. Imric is (largely) Elric of Melnibone, not only in similarity of name, but in appearance and even character. Anderson’s Elves are darker than those in The Lord of the Rings (though I would point out that Tolkien’s elves closely resembled Anderson’s in his source material; see the prideful warrior Feanor from The Silmarillion). They are haughty, prideful, shun the sunlight, and if not malicious are certainly mischievous. These traits have their roots in Norse myth, which both Tolkien and Anderson drew upon.

Everything about the book is wonderfully northern. Characters mingle soaring verse with common speech in conversation. Anderson weaves old northern vocabulary into the tale, evocative words like “Fetch,” “Fey,” and “Weird” (the latter is a fate from which no man escapes), which lend The Broken Sword a hard northern ethos to match its flavor. In this pagan hierarchy the Norns are higher than the towering Jotuns or even the Aesir. Even the gods will die in the fires of Ragnarok at their appointed time. That grimness bleeds through into The Broken Sword as its protagonists are slowly crushed beneath the merciless wheel of fate.

“Throw not your life away for a lost love,” pleaded Mananaan. “You are young yet.”

“All men are born fey,” said Skafloc, and there the matter stood.

This is hard stuff and an unforgiving outlook on life, though not incompatible with that other somewhat famous work that debuted in 1954—Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring. No matter what Moorcock—he of the tin ear when it comes to Tolkien analysis—may tell you.

The writing in The Broken Sword is top-notch, really and truly great stuff. A small sample of dialogue uttered by the troll-woman Gora:

“The world is flesh dissolving off a dead skull,” mumbled the troll-woman. She clanked her chain and lay back, shuddering. “Birth is but the breeding of maggots in the crumbling flesh. Already the skull’s teeth leer forth and black crows have left its eye sockets empty. Soon a barren window will blow through its bare white bones.”

One final, important note about the Blackstone recording: The text is Anderson’s original from the 1954 version of the book, which Anderson updated in 1971 for republication in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line. This is not immediately apparent from the description on the Blackstone website. I’ve only read the 1971 version, so for those who haven’t had the chance to experience The Broken Sword in its earliest and rawest incarnation you now have another chance.

Posted by Brian Murphy