The SFFaudio Podcast #484 – The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

July 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast
The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #484 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Luke Burrage, and Evan Lampe talk about The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Luke Burrage, Evan Lampe

Talked about on today’s show:
Amazing Stories, March and May 1971, the 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, the best way to be right more often is to change your mind a lot, different futures, eerily close in some ways, the opposite of this book is Nancy Kress’ Beggars In Spain, questions vs. answers, immoral vs. nice, a very evil book, some facts about sleep, lack of sleep, eliminating sleep, a horror show, Randian superhumans, robots, being robots who grind other humans into powder, A.E. Van Vogt, when fans are slans, not as a science fiction but as a fantasy book, Philip K. Dick, scientific explanations, the aliens, a fantasy book about a guy dreaming science fiction, calling out science fiction in science fiction, Star Wars, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the tropes of pulp science fiction, the 1980 TV adaptation, changes for changes sake, a good adaptation, the 2002 remake, they drop the “the” and the philosophical stuff, dying dream, WWIII, as he’s dying in a nuked Portland, Rumble In The Bronx, Mount Hood, volcanoes, Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, how Mount Hood looms over the book, what makes it the classic that Jesse thinks it is, the first half vs. the back half, battling for control, the narrative goes off the rails because it’s needed, two bad utopianists, central planning, life goes on, Orr being passive, “George Orr” vs. “John If”, Haber is a verb, to express the existence of something, the perfect tense, future tense, Orr is wishy washy, using to perfect, cute, Lalashe, coward, an insect, a black widow spider, she click-clacked and snapped, changing reality, everyone’s skin colour goes grey, to have…or, the genie problem, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, in imperfect dreamer, world peace (through war), no racism, overpopulation, internal vs. external, aliens ex machina, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, from ideas to reality, dreams -> reality, nightmare -> reality, Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the historical context, Stand On Zanzibar, Make Room! Make Room!, The Population Bomb, Star Trek, The Mark Of Gideon, The Conscience Of The King, Malthusian worries, people as consumers vs. people as producers, did Le Guin by into it?, Orr bought into it, it’s all about power and checking privileges, a diploma on his wall, a button on his desk, turned into an asshole and a user, somebody to use, a tool, Immanuel Kant, means to an end, what if there is no end, all we have is the means, the categorical imperative, subscribing to a particular morality, Haber is gaslighting Orr, civil rights, the dynamic between Orr and his psychotherapist, if this was expanded out it would be a dystopia, mild punishment for drug crimes, mandatory therapy, a little bit Brave New World, protein rations, climate change, the end of chapter one, the GPRT drivers, people on basic support, pretending that starvation is scurvy, at least they have unions, pre-Ronald Reagan, the logo of the white hand and the black hand are shaking, the anti-war movement, the end of the ’60s, wish for peace on earth (get war in space), simplistic anti-war ideas, asshole vs. misguided, wasting time on means, the consent form, the abuses of hypnosis, hypnosis as a device, Robert A. Heinlein, experimenting on patients, he hides his assholishness, getting violent, rejecting the second reality, it ISN’T morally ambiguous, Haber is so real, evil in our reality, what actual evil people do, belligerence, Haber’s arrogance, who was responsible for killing 5/6th of the population, how the establishment is: satisfied with the way things are, everything is getting better and better for Haber, why people are confused about Haber being a bad guy is because Orr is confused, he’s not curing me he’s encouraging me, being evil is using someone as a means to an end, rationalizing for evil, lying, the most insidious evil shit, why people stay in abusive relationships, compulsory voluntary therapy, blaming himself, hypnosis vs. persuasiveness, he wants another doctor, he wants help, what a medical ethicist would say, anti-psychiatry thinking, modern Scientologists, Dick thought this true, he’s not a mad scientist, his science as a means, his ends are good, aren’t they?, he’s right to go to a lawyer, so subtle, not everyone sees, the subtlety of Le Guin vs. the hammer of Kress, the most Philip K. Dick novel by Le Guin, out Philip K. Dicking Philip K. Dick, Ubik, Maze Of Death, PKD vibes, PKD and Le Guin went to the same school, a staunch advocate of Dick, one of the best novels, we are in danger of breaking the book by taking it apart too much, how different it is from Dick, feeling like a Dick plot, there’s no humour in this book, insectoid clicky boobs with a chitinous sheen, of course its a horse, funny vs. jokes, the focus on the power dynamic as a horror, sympathy for a horrible dictator, talking about that horse, Philip means “horse lover”, how George Orr lives his life, the homosexuality, dope, very advanced, no fear of bisexuality, NOT problematic, a very 70s way of talking, a 21st century book, the radiation, set a little in the future, undoing problems, mutating, the psychology of the horse and the mountain, erupting, everything’s beneath the future, evidence looms large, right out the window, only when Orr becomes upset, running away to his cabin, triple crown, Tammany Hall, Boss Tweed, corruption, a horse of corruption, is Orr naming it in his dream?, if you don’t treat it as a simple fantasy, is Orr’s brain creating the backstory, choosing between different quantum futures, switching dimensions, how Haber explains it, what does he know?, he’s confabulating it, this is a book about dream, dreaming about this podcast, less LEGO than in the dream, absolutely necessary, completely mysterious, we’ve all had that feeling, angry at someone all day, waking up stressed out, what is the reality, Jesse is sometimes surprised to hear his own name, explaining away the painting, that is not normal, it used to be a view of Mount Hood, the influence of Dick, the power dynamic, The Man In The High Castle, when you read a Philip K. Dick book you can imagine him writing it with a smirk on his face, this feels more dignified, the Laozi, Zhuangzi, Taoism, H.G. Wells, the quotes, too many, so on the nose, the book is prescriptive, in what universe are these quotes relevant?, why isn’t Shakespeare talking about bug-people and aliens?, my pigtail points to the sky, buttocks into a cartwheel, freeing of the bond, accepting the life that comes to you, guiding the reader, breaking the fourth wall, spoiling the effect of the book, The Beatles, she was making it a “greater book” but “diminished it”, more subtle, the I Ching, the characters are learning from the quotes, had the quotes been changing…, “Shotgun Funeral”, the character list that’s messed up, Brandon Sanderson, a missed opportunity, Ubik, advertisements, influencing the characters vs. influencing the readers, look at all these cool quotes I found, “dream quotes”, doing a service, narrative thrust vs. narrative wander, Bertrand Watson, Margaret Killjoy, this is almost an H.P. Lovecraft stories about dreams, Hypnos, drug taking and dreams, a strain of Lovecraftian stories with the horrible machines, From Beyond, Tillinghast’s device, Eight O’Clock In The Morning by Ray Nelson, transparent skin, birds, gross!, Herbert West: Re-Animator, the lesser figure, the passive witness, the dreamer himself, reluctant fascination than actual inclination, the power of dreams, dreams written down, had H.P. Lovecraft written this novel, what’s missing from this book, what’s missing from this book: lucid dreaming, continuing the dream, watching two episodes of a TV series over the space of days, Luke’s lucid knife fight dream, narrative control, did I dream dreaming, George Orr was so wishy-washy, falling under Haber’s sway, spineless characters, weak men, too average, Idiocracy, the most average person, did he make himself the most average man in the world?, which was is the causation, personality inventories, gaslighting, the augmentor, he’d never actually given it any thought, the lay-word sane, your median, by the end of the novel he’s called an artist, he’s a draughtsman at the beginning, grabbing the world by our hands, a celebration of human agency, creativity, character growth, Sidewise In Time by Murray Leinster, living with the pieces, the opening paragraph from Hypnos, Baudelaire:

“Apropos of sleep, that sinister adventure of all our nights, we may say that men go to bed daily with an audacity that would be incomprehensible if we did not know that it is the result of ignorance of the danger.”
—Baudelaire.

May the merciful gods, if indeed there be such, guard those hours when no power of the will, or drug that the cunning of man devises, can keep me from the chasm of sleep. Death is merciful, for there is no return therefrom, but with him who has come back out of the nethermost chambers of night, haggard and knowing, peace rests nevermore. Fool that I was to plunge with such unsanctioned phrensy into mysteries no man was meant to penetrate; fool or god that he was—my only friend, who led me and went before me, and who in the end passed into terrors which may yet be mine.

the audacity of this guy, we are gods, we are the creators of our own reality, dreams reveal truth, teaching things we shouldn’t know about ourselves, terror about knowledge, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, Thomas Ligotti, an early pioneer in a horror people don’t want to know about: science is true, the comfort of ignorance, melancholy characters, The Dispossessed, the novel is not about that, power relations, conversations where someone is playing a game, handcuffed together, it’s almost like they’re married, why change the lease 33 year lease to a 10 year lease, the age at which Christ died, no resonance, credited as a consultant (not a scriptwriter), Luke would give it 3.5 stars, the lips within the curly beard, then this world will be like heaven and the men will be like gods, the other paid no heed, volcanoes emit fire, fascinating, he has the beard, we are already (like gods), we can already do this, Le Guin is very good at not telling but indicating the direction, signposts on the road, course correcting, why Jesse loves Philip K. Dick, he always doesn’t give you what you want, the setup, Lester Del Rey, designed while it was being written, Jesse has four copies of The Left Hand Of Darkness, when you think of Le Guin this isn’t the book you think of, a step below greatness, the author is visible, here are the ideas I’m playing with, psychiatry as the mains science of the book, Gateway by Frederik Pohl, psychiatry is less science than economics (the dismal science), how primitive psychotherapy worked in the 1970s, A.I. super-intelligence, turned into paperclips, the greatest good for the greatest number, humans into widgets, anti-utilitarianism, how Orr is upset when his girlfriend is gone, not black and not white, it’s worth it, grey not pink not purple, pink dogs, Loving vs. Virginia, she’s not scoring points, a lot of books seem to think they’re the ones who invented being cool, I wanted to show a lot of diversity, rainbow unicorns, representation is overstated, go for ideas, a response to race as a problem, racism is historically contingent, 17th century, let’s talk about this a bit more, slavery, Doctor Futurity, breaking up into new clans, clans are a real thing, speciation, mountain lions and valley lions, family behavior, SNCC, integrationist model for overcoming racism, to solve racism by making everyone the same colour, if he was a PKD protagonist, why the genders are the way they are, Orr was a woman (never mind), the secretary/assistant, the aunt that gets deleted in the first dream, a retcon?, sexually predating on her own family, if Orr was a woman and that was an uncle…, exploring sexuality in other books, Orr had to be a male, male manipulation of women, Lalashe, the most PKD character, starts as a negative, a persona she can take it off, turtle shaped aliens, do they even have a planet?, allowing pink dogs to exist, reality will cover its tracks, when Evan is talking to his students, the origin of the prison, imagining alternative to prisons, the Romans didn’t have prisons, exiles, fines, crucifixion, it has always been this way, a historical invention, The Word For World Is Forest, weird side-bar, The Word For World Is Rainforest, back to PKD, a one sentence defense of utilitarianism, critical of bad and stupid utilitarianism, defer to John Stuart Mill, the problem of the pleasure wizard, Jesse thinks of himself of as a pleasure wizard, think about kids, they haven’t read any books, or seen any movies, you’re going to watch Snow White, god-like power, children are not best able to marshal resources, The Good Place, Kristen Bell, Ted Danson, way cleverer than Jesse thinks, Jesse hates the word spoiler, Jesse doesn’t trust people, “type it Paul!”, that’s cute, someone fools you it doesn’t mean they’re cleverer than you, intellectual journey, repetition, American Made (2017), Barry Seal, Hitler loses WWII is not a spoiler, is this Good Place better than Willa Cather?, time commitment, The Americans, look at it from the Soviet point of view, the ending was terrible because the bad guys were let go?, how we won World War II, the more you learn about the soviet end of the war, Canada boasts it had the second biggest navy in the world, gravitas, we can’t know, modern things, at the end of history, stagnating in place, the idea of the novel, historicity, podcast as a genre was completely unimaginable thirty years ago, still mysterious, how many music podcast are there?, it’s not a rights issue, Mr Jim Moon, The Lathe Of Heaven, With A Little Help Of My Friends, @SFFaudio “full film”, complete versions of non-public domain films, nobody cares, commercial concerns, podcast medium is fundamentally different, radio is almost all music, BBC is different, CBC is different, you have to keep it short, Joe Rogan’s three hour shows.

The Lathe Of Heaven - Illustrations by Michael Kaluta

The Lathe Of Heaven - Illustrations by Michael Kaluta

The Lathe Of Heaven - SF Masterworks

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #322 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #322 – Jesse and Jenny talk about new audiobook releases and recent audiobook arrivals.

Talked about on today’s show:
many sins, paperbooks, The Architect Of Aeons by John C. Wright, Tor Books, The Voyage Of The Basilisk by Marie Brennan, beautiful illustrations and blue text, cover art, a bias against bad art, the way kids talk about book covers, fonts and graphic design, stock photos, don’t mix serif’d fonts, use classic art in the public domain, don’t muddy it up, Graysun Press Class M Exile by Raven Oak, Star Trek, Self Made Hero, I.N.J. Culbard, The Shadow Out Of Time, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream Quest Of Unknown Kadath, the difficulty of promotion for small press publishers, Horror!, The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker, John Lee, Macmillan Audio, Pinhead, Hellraiser, random bloody body horror, The Midnight Meat Train, Bradley Cooper, the way Clive Barker’s stuff works, Audio Realms, Limbus, Inc. Book 2, a shared world anthology by Jonathan Maberry, Joe R. Lansdale, Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe McKinney, Harry Shannon edited by Brett J. Talley, space for creativity, David Stifel’s narration of The Monster Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Island Of Doctor Moreau meets Frankenstein done Burroughs style, The Man Without A Soul, David Stifel knows everything about Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, read by Scott Brick, Mad Max: Fury Road, 3D is a gimmick, Vampire Horror! by M.R. James, John Polidori, F. Marion Crawford, Anthony Head, M.R. James is the country churchyard ghost story guy, John Polidori was Byron’s Doctor, Mary Shelley won the contest, The Vampyre by John Polidori, Lord Ruthven is kind of based on Lord Byron, an autobiographical fantasy horror, music!, all the good D words, Survivors by Terry Nation, Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, who wrote House, M.D.?, writing credit in the UK, a familiar premise, the original TV series and the remake, The Walking Dead, all the fun stuff we like about post-apocalyptic storytelling, simultaneous existence, The Death Of Grass by John Christopher, A History Of The World In Six Glasses by Tom Standage, our dependence on grasses, The Road, canned food isn’t a long term plan, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, deer in the woods, the high price put on poaching, the other solution is cannibalism (also not very sustainable), The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, cutting water, this is already how things are, the atomic bomb scenarios are played out, the water problem, the new dust bowl, North Carolina and South Carolina, Seattle and Vancouver, Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick, read by Phil Gigante, a comic version of Doctor Strangelove, Marissa Vu, Paul Weimer, The Gold Coast by Kim Stanley Robinson, Pacific Edge by Kim Stanley Robinson, Luke Burrage’s reviews of the Orange County books, Find Me by Laura van den Berg, silver blisters?, Guy de Maupassant style, The End Has Come edited by Hugh Howey and John Joseph Adams, Carrie Vaughn, Megan Arkenberg, Will McIntosh, Scott Sigler, Sarah Langan, Chris Avellone, Seanan McGuire, Leife Shallcross, Ben H. Winters, David Wellington, Annie Bellet, Tananarive Due, Robin Wasserman, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth Bear, Jonathan Maberry, Charlie Jane Anders, Jake Kerr, Ken Liu, Mira Grant, Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Margaret Atwood’s serial, Science Fiction in Space and the Desert, Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, read by Mary Robinette Kowal and Will Damron, very sciencey, too many Jesses, Rob’s commute, Nova by Margaret Fortune, read by Jorjeana Marie, a human bomb, Imposter by Philip K. Dick, The Fold by Peter Clines, read by Ray Porter, another Philip K. Dick story called Prominent Author, a joke story, 14 by Peter Clines, Expanded Universe, Vol. 1 by Robert A. Heinlein, read by Bronson Pinchot, Blackstone Audio, Robert A. Heinlein is a weird idea man, Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey, Hachette Audio, Sword & Laser, The Darkling Child (The Defenders of Shannara) by Terry Brooks, read by Simon Vance, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, larger than life voices, The Red Room by H.G. Wells, the accents, BBC audio dramas of James Bond books, the David Niven Casino Royale, The Brenda & Effie Mysteries: Brenda Has Risen From the Grave! (4), Bafflegab, Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III: A Novel by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, read by Michael Fenton Stevens and Stephen Briggs, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, read by Julia Emelin, The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, read by Davina Porter, Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor, coming of age in a fantasy world, librarians recommend!

The Brenda And Effie Mysteries (4) Brenda Has Risen From The Grave by Paul Magrs

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Dangerous Women

October 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Dangerous Women Dangerous Women: Stories
Edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Narrated by Scott Brick, Jonathan Frakes, Janis Ian, Stana Katic, Lee Meriwether, Emily Rankin, Harriet Walter, Jake Weber
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 3 December 2013[UNABRIDGED] – 32 hours, 49 minutes
Listen to an excerpt: | MP3 |

Themes: / short stories / fantasy / women /

Publisher summary:

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,  S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.
 
Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

Stories and Narrators (in order of appearance):
“Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie; Read by Stana Katic
“My Heart Is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott; Read by Jake Weber
“Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass; Read by Jonathan Frakes
“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher; Read by Emily Rankin
“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn; Read by Inna Korobkina
“Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale; Read by Scott Brick
“Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm; Read by Lee Meriwether
“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block; Read by Jake Weber
“Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson; Read by Claudia Black
“A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman; Read by Harriet Walter
“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman; Read by Sophie Turner
“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress; Read by Janis Ian
“City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland; Read by Scott Brick
“Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon; Read by Allan Scott-Douglas
“Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling; Read by Stana Katic
“Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes; Read by Claudia Black
“Caregivers” by Pat Cadigan; Read by Janis Ian
“Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector; Read by Maggi-Meg Reed
“Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon; Read by Jenna Lamia
“The Princess and the Queen” by George R. R. Martin; Read by Iain Glen

It took me a really long time to make it through this book, even with skipping stories, and that was a big sign that it wasn’t working for me. I love and read a lot of anthologies, and Dangerous Women was odd in that it only paid lip service to the theme. Most of these stories had nothing to do with women, dangerous or otherwise, instead focusing on men talking about women. Overall, while I was disappointed in this anthology, and would not recommend it, here are my spoiler thoughts on some of the best and worst individual stories (scroll to the end for a link to more!):

“The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: the Next Generation is the narrator!!! Fortune 500? Strip club? OK, I’m missing the dangerous women portion of this story at the beginning, and am a little confused overall. The main character doesn’t seem to have a great opinion of women in general. Suppose that’s not surprising considering this takes place during a bachelor party. “Sassy little buttocks”? I giggled when he shouted “blackout’. Genetic manipulation? What am I listening to?

Holy. Hell.

Aside from the novelty of the narrator, this was just bad. The characterization of women left a bad taste in my mouth. The prose was an unfortunate shade of purple. The plot twist was silly. So. Bad.

“Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story
I’ve never read any of the Dresden books, although I’m vaguely familiar with the story, and this was a sorely needed palette cleanser after the last story. Except for the leg-shaving bit. Wut? That came across as trying a bit too hard. Bit more telling than showing than is to my taste. And hearing the phrase ‘soul gaze’ spoken out loud just pointed out how silly it is. Holy infodump on how magic works, but overall both the narrator and writing was A+.

“Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
Eeeeeee! Night witches! I love female pilots!

The writing is concise and easy to follow, but full of effective details that really conveyed the feeling of a fire fight. The plot was just heartbreaking. And a lovely relationship between siblings is the focus, rather than a romantic one. Such a nice change! This was an excellent portrayal of female non-competitive friendship. So good. One of the highlights of the anthology.

Narrator had a distinctive, lovely voice.

“I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
Noir up the wazoo! This was a man’s man kind of a story, I guess. Wow. I had to skip this after he started fantasizing about beating the woman he was with. He had so much hate for women. I felt a little sick just listening.

Narrator has great, gritty voice.

“Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
This was a great story. Silence was amazing, and the world had just enough detail for you to believe and fill in the rest of the blanks. Her background as a bounty hunter was inventive, and I loved seeing the people people who crossed her get their eventual comeuppance.

Narrator had just enough weariness in her voice to be pleasing and appropriate to the story.

“The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story
Fabulous characterization of mischievous girls at a magical school. Their talk is real, and the details are well delineated. Think Harry Potter but darker and meaner. Adorable short story. Just lovely.

As an added bonus, Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Games of Thrones, was the narrator. She hit the perfect tone, and I would definitely listen to her narration again.

“Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
This was a very quiet, intense, and bleak story. The women are essentially kept for breeding in a post-apocalyptic setting, but during a young girl’s ‘budding’ ceremony, one woman voices her desire to be more. The narrator is the nurse, in charge of the health of the other women. There’s an undertone of packs and the urban forest in this story, like I was waiting for them to turn into werewolves. Women have dressed codes to avoid tempting men, but are somewhat in charge of deciding who they have sex with. The group finds a TV and get it to work. They watch a ballet. Now one of the beta males wants to learn how to dance to entertain the pack. They find a moment of beauty, but lose it just as quickly.

The narrator has an understated style that worked really well for this.

“Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling – An Emberverse story
This was the most unpleasant part of this whole experience.

At first I was interested, as there was a main character traveling with a baby and some practical discussion of how life with children after the apocalypse works. There were disabled characters, and the women seemed to have some autonomy in the society.

However, the story then turned into a rape trial. The victim recounts escalating abuse from one man, and how the other women blamed her for his actions. Then she describes his violent sexual assault of her, and I turned it off. I had no motivation to finish this story.

The narrator was very pleasant, and her deadpan accounting of the assault was chilling.

“Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
It starts out with an innocent question about female serial killers. These two sisters live together and while one is obsessed with Red Dawn (Go Wolverines!) the other loves to watch shows about serial killers. There was a lot of realistic characterization driving the story, and rising tension as you begin to wonder exactly how much the sister likes serial killers.

Narrator did a fantastic job, fading back to let the story stand on its strengths.

“Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector – A Wild Cards story
I felt a little behind by the abrupt entrance of the first scene, but loved the discussion of prettiness in relation to society. Parades and zombies and consumerism. Mothers and daughters and self-esteem. Fat and bubbles as defense. The villain was such a dick, and such a stereotype of gamer dudes. Overall amazing!

Fantastic narrator.

“The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire story
Finally. this is the whole reason I was interested in the first place. I’ve read a couple of the ASOIAF books, so I was interested in what Martin would do with two super-powerful women. Not much, it turns out.

Sooooo – everyone in Westeros has always been terrible and power-hungry? OK then. First Night rites? Really? Ahhhh I am so bored. Never has anything with dragons in it bored me as much as this has. It’s about queens, yes, but it’s still the men who do almost everything.

Good narrator, though.

Sarah reviewed each and every story, which you can see on her GoodReads review.

Posted by Sarah R.

Review of The End is Nigh

June 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

The End is NighThe End is Nigh (Apocalypse Triptych #1)
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey (full author and performer list below)
Publisher: Broad Reach Publishing
Publication Date: 8 April 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 15 hours, 8 minutes

Themes: / apocalypse / destruction / short stories /

Publisher summary:

Famine. Death. War. Pestilence. These are the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse, of the End of the World. In science fiction, the end is triggered by less figurative means: nuclear holocaust, biological warfare/pandemic, ecological disaster, or cosmological cataclysm.

But before any catastrophe, there are people who see it coming. During, there are heroes who fight against it. And after, there are the survivors who persevere and try to rebuild.

Table of contents and audiobook narrator listings copied directly from John Joseph Adams’ website. If you want more detailed summaries of each story, I found the review at Tangent very good, particularly because it is so hard to keep track of short stories when you are listening instead of reading!

The audio was an incredible asset to this anthology, although I will probably also need to buy this for my shelf o’ anthologies. The best in audio are Removal Order, BRING HER TO ME, and The Fifth Day of Deer Camp.

My favorite stories were BRING HER TO ME and Goodnight Moon.

I’m most interested in the next installment (so please let there be a next installment) of Removal Order, Pretty Soon the Four Horsemen are Going to Come Riding Through, and Spores.

What do I mean by next installment? The End is Nigh is the first volume of a triptych. It will be followed by The End is Now and The End Has Come, with some authors contributing linked stories. Very exciting concept, and as the Queen of Apocalypse there is no way I couldn’t read this.

Here are my more detailed impressions, story by story!

Read more

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

The SFFaudio Podcast #178 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

September 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #178 – An unabridged reading of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (32 minutes, read for LibriVox by Michelle Sullivan) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Tamahome, Jenny Colvin, and Julie Hoverson.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman vs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson, wall-paper vs. wallpaper, a seminal work of feminist fiction, a ghost story, a psychological horror story, the Wikipedia entry for The Yellow Wallpaper, Alan Ryan, “quite apart from its origins [it] is one of the finest, and strongest, tales of horror ever written. It may be a ghost story. Worse yet, it may not.” postpartum depression, “the rest cure”, phosphates vs. phosphites, condescending husbands, infantilization of women, superstitions, is she dangerous?, is she only pretending to go insane or is she actually mad?, will reading The Yellow Wallpaper drive you to insanity?, an androcentric society, Titus Andronicus by William Shakespeare, Life by Emily Dickinson

MUCH madness is divinest sense
To a discerning eye;
Much sense the starkest madness.
’T is the majority
In this, as all, prevails.
Assent, and you are sane;
Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous,
And handled with a chain.

Jenny is the husband’s sister (or mistress?), “gymnasium or prison, she doesn’t know she’s living in a short story”, does the family think she’s crazy a the story’s start?, biting the bed is a bit suspicious, barred windows, suicide, has she forgotten that she’s the wrecked the wallpaper to begin with, a haunted house vs. a haunted woman, is the supernatural only within minds?, Julie goes crazy without something to read, first time motherhood can be a struggle, duplicity, crazy people are known to make unreasonable requests, “why is the cork on the fork?”, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, what’s the rope for?, “all persons need work”, counting the holes, are women moral by default?, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, utopia, “everything is both beautiful and practical”, the eighteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution (prohibition), the husband faints (and so she wins?), creeping vs. crawling, the creepiest ending, smooch vs. smudge, neurasthenia, William James (brother of Henry James), “Americanitis”, the fashion of being sick, hypochondria as a fad, the “fresh air” movement, Kellogg’s cereal 9and other patented medicines), a yogurt colonic, mental illness is shameful in Asia, mental illness vs. oppression, an absolutely unreliable narrator, Stockholm syndrome style thinking, “You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well under way in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you.” worrying a tooth, tooth loss as an adult is horrific, as a kid it’s fun, why are we rewarded by the tooth-fairy?, is the tooth-fairy universal?, was chronic fatigue syndrome a fad?, fame is popular, Münchausen’s syndrome (the disease of faking a disease), take up a hobby!, distinguishing genuine from real, syndrome (symptoms that occur together) vs. disease (dis-ease), “which is worse…”, how to look at doctors, Tam’s doctor is nicer than House, M.D., witch doctors, non-invasive cures, gallium, Vitamin C, The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Julie Hoverson’s reading of The Yellow Wallpaper, the unnamed narrator (let’s call her Julie), “what’s with the plantain leaf?”, a modern version of The Yellow Wallpaper would be set at fat camp (is that The Biggest Loser), starts off, Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews, arsenic doughnuts (are not Münchausen syndrome by proxy), The Awakening by Kate Chopin, civilizing influence, bathing!, “men know what side their sex is buttered on”, In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) by Sarah Ruhl, Changeling (screenplay by J. Michael Straczynski), what is your Yellow Wallpaper?, fiction is Jesse’s wallpaper, ‘tv, videogames, comics … none of these make you crazy’, heroin chic, Julie has many yellow papers, Tam’s yellow wallpaper is the bookstore, Sebastian Junger vs. J.G. Ballard, 1920s, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, posing gowns, identical wigs, Jenny’s yellow wallpaper is dreams, The Evil Clergyman (aka The Wicked Clergyman) by H.P. Lovecraft, nice wallpaper, authorial self-interpretations, Eric S. Rabkin, re-reading as an adult something you read as a kid, The Prince Of Morning Bells by Nancy Kress, The Portrait Of A Lady by Henry James, The Lord Of The Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, old time radio comedies, should you read fiction from the beginning? Start with Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer?, Hyperion by Dan Simmons, Jonathan Swift, Peter F. Hamilton, E.E. ‘doc’ Smith, Mastermind Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Ad for The Yellow Wall Paper from 1910

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman - illustration by J.K. Potter

Sebastian Junger vs. J.G.  Ballard

Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper - illustrated by Hyperphagia

Posted by Jesse Willis

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