The SFFaudio Podcast #565 – READALONG: Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Talked about on today’s show:
and today we’re reading…, John Bloodstone, an old science fiction novel, why wouldn’t I read this book?, public domain, never heard of this guy, Science Stories, February 1954, house names or pseudonyms, tiers of science fiction magazines, armchair fiction, digging into the issue, the cover has nothing to do with the contents of the story, a brilliant 45,000 word novel, a singular spaceship, J. Allen St. John, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, Warlord Of Mars, The Moon Maid, a Burroughsian planetary romance, splash page, the creature, his former lover, a precursor, L. Sprague de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias, against the rules, find each other attractive, tentacles out of eyebrows, an ancient spaceship, the subjugated people have invented gunpowder, backgrounded to Garthanas’ story, what Paul would be thinking about Jesse would be thinking about the worldbuilding, how little this book has been published, it does was it says on the tin, a man off his world (or not our world), the ending, a solar system with two and a half inhabitable planets, Thronas is the fifth world, Carson of Venus, Hamardeen, the math and the names, a panspermia story, dinosaur time, Dalathasheen, Haven, Adamas, a tropical haven, a vast natural garden which they named…, Atlantis,

Their dreams of old we, too, have known,
But we are flesh and they are
stone,
And Yesterday is dust…

just some rando, a weird way to start a story, Tolkien, narrator Tim Harper, preeeety good job, so good, very specific vocab, names of days, all of the logic, names of ranks, layer up this world, as logical and rational as possible, lovely detail, the amphitheater, very vivid, very colourful, a real sense of embodiment, the interests of the author, elf names, etymological construction to the names of things, the measuring system, worldbuilding and making a whole universe (or solar system) for a FIVE HOUR BOOK, and to make the story work as well, the same trick over and over: a secret identity, he’s teaching us, you like Twelfth Night, you like Shakespeare, he’s turning evil, what if I’ve been rooting for a monster this whole time, that’s good writing, the AI of the ship, the metal god, a very early AI, from such an oblique angle, The Great C by Philip K. Dick, he Kirks the computer, I love that idea, the computer doesn’t say, if Kirking is a verb, apparently Gene Roddenberry was a fan, “I’d stand in a line in the rain for one of Stu Byrne’s stories”, back when Paul was young and strong, Thundarr The Barbarian Garth Ennis, one of the many many rip-off’s if Conan, make the show to sell the toys, unpublished Tarzan novel, fan fiction, the Pellucidars, the Barsoom books, male romancesque, lost to time, when the book is THIS interesting, the archaeology of this sort of thing, born in 1911, Jam Packed with Burroughs, more of the same, He-Man, She-Ra, Red Sonja (from the comics), filed-off serial numbers, friendship works differently in Burroughs-world, honor-based friendship, more sex and drinking, more carousing, no animal friend, no Woola, The Green Odyssey, a loving-parody-comedy vs. straight-up, Michael Moorcock, Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, hard to escape the orbit of Burroughs, S.M. Stirling, Tantor Media, The Sky People, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings, he goes wide, characterizing the responses to Burroughs, dinosaurs on Mars, Leigh Brackett, aliens, A World Of Difference by Harry Turtledove, a collapsed empire, the golden ship is a great piece, with that ending he’s cutting off all the sequels, what it turns this book into is a science fiction book of the mainstream type, acceleration, artificial gravity, a force of nature like the tides, the worship of many many gods, how much work he put into this, not a work of slapdashery, Goodreads reviews, the used bookstores podcast, Goodreads is owned by Amazon, many moral hazards in the universe, AbeBooks is owned by Amazon, Byrne is from St. Paul,

It has all the hallmarks of a hastily-written product plus one whose creator has a very specific beginning and endpoint in mind and is working to bridge the two. Byrne occasionally has to paste in the gaps with backstory or offstage events–clearly he was not going to go back and revise–and this leaves the impression that more interesting things are happening to more interesting people while Garthanas is standing around waiting or being talked to.

The story is also strangely unspecific about the context. It’s implied that the oppressed Harmarians are some kind of ethnic minority who are slowly being deported to planet Hamardeen (Mars) because the Thronasians would prefer to be served by the unpredictable and violent nonhuman polar inhabitants, but nobody says this and it is not explained clearly. The half-explanations conspire to baffle and not tantalize with unseen depths.

“Space barbarians” is arrived at uniquely, with a robotic Golden Ship left behind by an earlier civilization. It is a tragedy that this is the only remnant of super-science and one wonders what more Byrne could have added to liven up this story.

The final moments, as it starts to wrap up, do achieve power. Byrne finally has a specific vision with a specific end goal and Garanthas is in place to witness it all and to act appropriately. But the overall impression is less “tale of multigenerational tragedy” than “muddled mess”.

hanging out with a Roman slave who knows how the Roman Empire works, a case of reviewism, a disease that effects many reviewers, space barbarians, a trope, maybe it needed more pondering, a lot of battle scenes, before we talk about the art, action packed, almost the script for Buck Rogers, so many court scenes, sneaking around inside of a space ship, a Star Wars (1977) level of action, kissing, intrigue, how you are when you come to something, a serious problem when they do reviews a lot, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, he’s writing to his own conclusion, award winning is a bad word in Jesse’s mind, The Aquiliad: Aquila In The New World by S.P. Somtow, you need to know what the author is doing, answers to What If, the artist knew truth, the only person better at sculpting than me is my master, a very small pair of worlds, another connection to Star Wars, hello Jupiter, reading into it, he wanted to have philosophy in it without getting into it, a thinker king like King Kull, appreciating the art, about that meditation, a John Carter who is appreciating the martian sculptures, normally that’s us when reading the books, the statue at the end, it’s in that opening song, a future echo, an echo of the past, Battlestar Galactica, page 13, we are flesh and they are stone, playing with, the word “Truth”, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley, Ozymandias by Horace Smith, On A Stupendous Leg Of Granite…, hubris is a great problem, uh huh and yup and we’re going to be the same way, more political, Lovecraftian vs. science fictional, that projection, Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia, the journals and a report about what’s going on in North America, Planet Of The Apes, fast paced, Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road, so many great books that are just hidden away, ratings are a part of the problem of reviewism, star ratings, clouding judgement, it straight jackets you, the pain management chart, hangnail 1, gaping flesh wound from sword stab 8, a standard of one person, the way Luke Burrage justifies his rating system, this is not a classic like a The House On The Borderland, The Time Machine, more worldbuilding than The Green odyssey, Tolkien vs. Narnia, portal fantasy vs. secondary world, six hours well spent, thank you to Tim Harper,

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

The SFFaudio Podcast #550 – READALONG: A World Of Talent by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #550 – Jesse, Evan Lampe, and Terence Blake talk about A World Of Talent by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, October 1954, MASTERPIECE!, copyright stuff, really angry, starts off really well, an autistic son wandering around his own house, no humour, big noodle, candy from out of nowhere, fighting between a husband and a wife, novel-like, 42 pages, mutant stories, Psi-Man Heal My Child, The Golden Man, the mutant is something that we should fear and will replace humanity, The Crawlers, aborted fetuses, a mundane threat, cruelty, the wife is so difficult, Terence’s first read, full of interesting ideas, John W. Campbell’s editorial note about The Legion Of Time, the stories are the mutants, a big mutation, small mutations vs. big mutations, Galaxy mutated away from the John W. Campbell model, Philip K. Dick was diagnosing the nazi side of John W. Campbell, the naive idea of the superman, we read it as creatures, Slan as the perfect example, this is the future, no one can write about the future of man without talking about PSI, this isn’t science, the beginning of the movie Ghostbusters, a buxom young lady, parapsychology, there’s no evidence for it, its all bullshit, the X-Men, such a good allegory, Slan is a terrible allegory, John W. Campbell was a fucking idiot, a chauvinist, broken ideas, the Dean drive and Dianetics, we the readers of science fiction , Isaac Asimov’s Super Quiz, excluding the sports and movies, Jesse is a super-genius, if Slan is not science fiction as an imagination of thwat the future is…, a metaphor, taking it more seriously, homo superior, Deadpool (2016), H.L Gold wrote under the name Campbell in Astounding, stodginess, analyzing Dick’s own psychology, mental disability, games, another theme, its in the art, the big chess piece, a pretty damn terrific ending, what’s going to happen next?, in the context of Philip K. Dick’s life, marriage problems, should we put him in a special school?, the way the whole story opens and closes, as an autism story, Martian Time-Slip, Earth is thinking of eradicating all the mutants and post humans on Mars, murdering all the kids, the plots are very different but the background is similar, the global intrigue vs. the personal, getting his wife back, his son turned into a god, Adjustment Team, most people won’t notice, one of the futures will go the right away, a lot of arrows could point to this story, Avengers: Endgame, Infinity War, looks at all the different futures, picking and choosing of timelines, she’s alive in all the other timelines, a distant and arbitrary god (with a dad), it doesn’t help poor Big Noodle, an allegorical aspect, just naive, stupid, we don’t know what Philip K. Dick’s image of revolution was, an element of resistance, drug dealers as a resistance to the state, Our Friends From Frolix-8, The Simulacra, The World Jones Made, seizing hold of the means of production and the power apparatus, the meta-humans, the Maoist idea, creating the new means of production, toying with both ideas, Fairchild’s vision, a multicultural prosperous society, genetic purity, post-colonial struggles, a Hindu-Muslim secular state, ethno-nationalist movements, anti-colonial stuff, theme: Earth is invaded by aliens who the majority of people welcome, mut = mutants, norms = people without psi-powers, precogs, anticipating bickering, a funny situation, the kid’s acting weird, “try to hold an objective orientation”, people as blotches of colour and a cacophony of noise, a philosophical objective orientation, blobs spread out in spacetime, a very clunky robotic speech, War-Game, The Game-Players Of Titan, games are serious, if that true…, acting like a god, giving money from the bank in monopoly, if games are serious…, games as a model for reality, cheating is acting as a god, Small Town, disgruntled husband, I don’t like all these casinos as an bars, a really interesting theme that goes all his stuff, Cosmic Puppets, the one with the Bevatron, Eye In The Sky, I don’t like to think about sex so now nobody has genitals, there was a revolution against a king in England, the outside perspective on the American Revolution, fast forward a couple hundred years and there’s another country in Europe, this repressive government IS John W. Campbell, all mutants are positive mutants, Impostor, if you were in the room long enough with John W. Campbell and you had your ideas totally marshalled, I have a new way of solving my own mental problems, of course!, all the things we did with physics we’re now going to do with the mind!, If, I don’t have a problem with mutants (because my own son is a mutant), I need to think about it, he goes both ways on mutants, the pretend supermen in Nazi Germany, imagine what the real supermen could do, Amazon Prime’s The Boys, dickish humans, the mundane mutant, Captive Market, instead of stopping a nuclear war, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, his mechanical computer shrink, figuring out the next fashion, Galactic Pot-Healer, Tim seeing the Others, more different from humans than the mutants are, reading Frank Herbert after Dune Messiah, God Emperor Of Dune, artificial intelligences, anticipated in the Dick story, favourizing the creation of anti-PSI talents, short circuiting each other, blur or block psionic powers, Dune was published in Astounding, everything that Campbell was looking for, it’s all mushrooms, maybe he didn’t like yoga, Alfred Bester, Babylon 5‘s PSI-CORP, Philip K. Dick’s PSI-CORP, surveillance capitalism, the corporations that supply the CIA and the NSA are actually running things, you don’t see the machinations or the hands, how all of this works, the plot stuff vs. the personal story, doing some exploration, John W. Campbell set the table in this totally unscientific idea, maybe we’re defining these terms too strongly, Jesse is a precog (just not a very good one), how we dominate the world, that’s the insurance industry, Foundation by Isaac Asimov is precognition on a macroeconomic scale, China’s on the rise, China’s massive population and old infrastructure, reading history, if you think about it that way (especially the way we define it), hard to falsify, studying parapsychology, if you don’t really understand how science really works, Karl Popper, Khunian normal science, Popperian revolutionary science, philosophy of science, spiritual stuff, how to deal with the pain of reality, a philosophical fiction writer, there’s no science in this story at all, birth defects, just evolution, the new men, the evolution of human intelligence, there not on spice, Mentats, Numen = numinous?, the opening is really well written, Jesse reads the opening, this is what we previewed half an hour ago, a lot of weird smells, corpsman, I don’t fully trust the corps, at age 20 something happens, Progeny, military camp/residential school, it comes up again and again, norm and psi-guests, an objective narrator, Philip K. Dick style, in the melee, nothing existed there, robots everywhere, is this a key party?, why is that line in there?, sour like spoiled milk, The Father-Thing situation, this sets up so much for what goes on later, the left and the right, the beginning and the end of the timeline, its a stranger’s home, wander around looking for something interesting, a ghost, no wonder he acts so weird, to give pleasure to Evan (anti-pleasure), VALIS is the anti-surveillance society, Ubik, the witch in this story, he gives her a token, the bedroom’s not occupied yet, now she’s mad at him, you’re not supposed to bring them home, there’s literally some cheating going on, what kind of party is this an analogy for, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, a bunch of patients of a psychiatrist conspiring to rebel against their doctor, a wife-swapping world, let’s talk about Big Noodle for a minute, a picture on page 21 of the PDF, Jesse thought he had no bones, the power of telekinesis and teleportation, is that why he’s a big blob?, you can predict the future (because you write science fiction), an allegory of the defense department, he literally is the defense department, the way he talks, Eisenhower’s farewell address, he was president from 1953 to 1961, The Hood Maker episode of Electric Dreams, Jesse talking to Julie Davis, shuts down and collapses the whole thing, “Imagine if the ants are talking about me!”, Jesse recapitulates the plot of Expendable, his whole world collapses, Misadjustment, the women just block it, the opposite of Tessa (Kleo), BoingBoing.net’s motto is “Happy Mutants”, homo superior, meta-humans, post-humans, meta-beings, a time traveler, All You Zombies, Predestination (2014), The Big Time by Fritz Leiber, Alfred Korzybski’s animals are space binders and humans are time binders, possibility binders (science fiction), a feminist equivalent, Charlie Jane Anders’ Six Months Three Days, you see I was right, gaslighting as reality bending, Francis Fukuyama, thinking about his theory on autism, two theories, open to all sense data, seeing other aspects that we can’t see, they’re not stupid just cognitively different, how they will be when they’re dead, she’s gonna be dead soon, the skull beneath the face, momento mori, a totemic limitation, he’s always talking about the “tomb world”, people die, what’s next?, why stories can be beautiful like that, Philip K. Dick can make a random crappy story really good, but in real life…, the mundane allegory, with an act of will you can make a difference, by an act of creativity you can inject at some moments anti-entropy, acting like Cornell West, is this even a science fiction story, meta-fantasy exploration of philosophical ideas and bullshit science fiction ideas, the very end of Martian Time-Slip, the significance of the return, closure,

We are better off not being able to look ahead, she said to herself. Thank God we can’t see.

a vision and a return, what parents of autistic kids are worried about, pretty traumatizing.

A World Of Talent by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #542 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Exhalation: Stories: What’s Expected Of Us by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #542 – What’s Expected Of Us from Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang; This is an unabridged reading of What’s Expected Of Us (6 minutes) followed by a discussion of the Penguin Random House Audio audiobook of Exhalation: Stories by Ted Chiang.

participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, Wayne June, and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
his second collection, 17 years to come out, The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, squint hard, a lot of them have a focus on children, he had some kids?, a theme, teaching and growing, parenting, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, a science fiction story with mimetic fiction problems, Dacy’s Patent Automatic Nanny, childrearing, not the major theme, background thought processes, fate and destiny, an abiding theme, care and caring, finding truths closer to home, The Great Silence, dissecting one’s own brain, straight up science fiction, Kim Stanley Robinson, you fools, you’re wasting your life, Paul could rant, set on spaceships, making sense of reality, a test subject for another star, they’re all standouts, its not our universe, a creationist universe, a dread discovery, the center of the universe is elsewhere, Earth as a prototype for someone else, an epistolary manner, a crisis of faith, Poul Anderson, a mixed relationship, life after death, finding a way to be comfortable with that fact, approaching the subject of entropy, the universe is winding down, nobody is going to live forever, comforting ideas, all just whistling past the graveyard, a positive conclusion about it, how do you look into the abyss and come away with a happy attitude, be happy on the way down, Oomphalos, I’m in charge now, now she has free will, he explores free will from every direction, the audiobook from Tantor, it took a long time for audiobooks to become the dominant medium for people who actually read, I don’t get many ideas, most reviewers on YouTube: booktubers?, a whole universe of people, people who read books are really weird, every week you wanna be reading a new book? what a weirdo, the New York Times bestseller, books not designed to be read, overwritten, as any right thinking person would, these should be longer, very presumptuous, I want more of this, throwing down idea much bigger than the package he places them in, Wayne liked the shortest stories best, educated super-intelligent, deep thought, rigorous self-examination, tedious, on and on and on, 48 minutes, The Lifecycle Of Software Of Objects, concentrated science fiction, two drops in a cup of water, what it means, navel, center, a role playing anecdote, the enemy is the they (the center of the universe), we’re the center of the universe, The Middle Kingdom, Middle Sea, everywhere is the center, everybody’s stupid because their vision is so limited, a young earth, a parallel in our own history, reason for belief, mummies with no navels, obviously not created, his guiding philosophy, if there was a miracle, its on rails, preodomites, other people, The Truth Of Fact The Truth Of Feeling, deeply profound, a Black Mirror episode, some colonial guy getting colonized, writing and reading, auto text generator, no periods, Roman monuments used dots not spaces, pre-modern Chinese, getting it from context, cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphs, right in Jesse’s zone, Bros. Grimm concertizing, once in book form, Jesse doesn’t really take notes, one of the things going on, going back to an oral culture, Socrates, cost effective, the Romans were into copying and photo-copying each other’s works, questioning the nature of truth and reality, really cool, what truth is, Scott and Jesse conversations on truth, people complaining about truth, he’s more truthful about his lying, politician lying, not a wise man, wiser than some of the fools that have been so smart in the past, he was not the same, name recognition, you know exactly what his motivation is, truth is not one thing, your own memory of what reality was, science as being replicable, that whole diatribe, truth is that what is, there is an objective truth, we hope, touch the Eiffel Tower, a subjective conclusion, the objective truth, defining truth, relativistic, its subtle, tirade harangue fulmination, discursive, who designed it?, maybe he stole that plan, the more you don’t examine and are unable to reexamine stuff…, religious truth, truths which motivation action, William James, pragmatism, because it was false, smoke sacrifice to the gods was meaningless, intersecting with other science fiction stories, Living Space by Isaac Asimov, king of your own planet, a real estate story, jack hammering off the coast of Labrador, a Nazi universe, Genghis Khan, mythological pseudo-historical figure, the universe does and doesn’t care about you, making a connection with science, those most interested in religion were scientists, Isaac Newton, the original Bible Code person, the impact might have been diluted, these people don’t die, there is no biology, this culture built up around air-stations, eating as a cultural event, if you get this you can tell the story, The Nine Billion Names Of God and The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, sacrificed, hits Paul in the feels, the three narcissistic wounds, Sigmund Freud, the Earth is not the center, Darwin and evolution, that the ego thinks it is free is an illusion, strong with archaeological proofs, freedom, no final answer, interesting concepts, Olaf Stapledon, a whole book from one paragraph of Starmaker, Jorge Luis Borges, The Library Of Babel, standing room for sleeping, why this illusory duplication, this is not our world, there’s no food, they’re more like robots in a certain sense, all the argon is coming to them from something beneath them, who invented the robots?, a blank slate, the robot equivalent, an analogy of the heat death of the universe, “we existed we were real”, a self contained universe, a navel gazing story, working the same theme, Jesus in South America (the God of Dreams) [The Circular Ruins], teaching the A.I.s consciousness, self-dissecting, a good example that doesn’t exist in the same way as ours does, the transference between universes, the prism, Anxiety Is The Dizziness Of Freedom, Until The End Of The World (1999), replaying your dreams, so much about them, the perfect obsessive movie for you, gazing into who you are, the machine allows you to navel gaze, fomo = fear of missing out, the grass is greener, a simple idea, fragmenting kaleidoscopic versions of reality, only a few months old and it was going up in value, diminishing returns, amazing sparky thoughts, pirated songs, I’d make so much money, information is the only thing passed between universes, copyrighted specifically for you, the same wound, possible yous, not being paralyzed, why not?, one of me is going to do it, destroys your ordinary criteria for action, a high dose of neg-entropy, the school shooters, what effect would it have, Jesse derives solace from being (sort of) a determinist, science fiction about the difficulty of weather prediction, are there more murders now?, outliers, fads, more of the same, All The Myriad Ways by Larry Niven, you might lose your will to do things, What’s Expected Of Us, whichever universe you’re in, Vanessa, an unstable person, Counterpart, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick, as Evan pointed out on his podcast, the universe is very small, seeing what’s going on outside, they’re all blending together, he thought he had done so much work, that’s much to harsh, words can sometimes resonate very deeply, the non-simple truth, a reality we are distantly connected to, poor connections, emergent things, to know what truth is (is tough), a longer meditation, the longest thing he’s ever written, either these people are wasting their lives or we’re all wasting our lives, where’s the truth there WAYNE?, to leap into agnosticism, relate to our interpretation of reality, we can only do what we can do, the motif of harmful sensation, The Imp Of The Perverse, physical or mental damage you can suffer, explicitly shoutsout to H.P. Lovecraft, akinetic mutism, won’t or can’t speak or won’t or can’t move, the motif of harmful sensation, a truly convincing argument that life is pointless might qualify, it doesn’t matter, a thread running through (or more than one), Ted Chiang has got a brain, the Lovecraftian horror, like a cognitive plague, a thought that explores the thinker, a Godel sentence, I try to act as if or rather action happens, pretend you have free will, believing the lie is the only way to avoid this waking coma, civilization relies on self-deception (perhaps it always has), The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate, living it, this universe might have slipped into equilibrium with nothing more than a quiet hiss, that in itself is beauty, in the next bottle over, the Complete Works of Shakespeare except it’s “Shmamlet”, the meaning is fake, Paul’s fear, robot descendants,

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

not a horror story but a science fiction truth, truths always in refinement, David Hume, past behavior, Robert Wright’s interview with Ted Chiang, The Story Of Your Life, a silly seeming story, Arrival, are you going to roll up into a little ball or are you going to affirm it?, the pharmacon, poison and medicine, make you a paralyzed mute or a creative, it takes all that time or that care to make that stuff literary, Wayne’s in a little ball, Wayne’s gonna complain, some stuff’s going to happen, get some jokes in there, WTF, we’re all gonna be specks in a layer of basalt, Tony C. Smith’s StarShipSofa, a Ted Chiang fan forever now, four stories, nested stories, Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, The Garden Of Forking Paths, you can read it forever, a story that’s circular, in the exact middle you have a point around which everything swirls, the knowledge for where the treasure under the tree came from, super symmetrical, so wonderful, a time travel story in which there’s no technological difference, no traditional time travel tropes, there’s no predicting eclipse, he steals from himself, he predicts the albino baby and gets out of prison, The Diamond Necklace or The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, there’s the pit of despair, the story is the treasure, we as the prince get the benefit, why the title is Exhalation: Stories, The Great Silence, John Paul Sartre with possible worlds, Dacey’s Patent Automatic Nanny, whatever works is true, the suppression of this technology because of the ruling class, nowhere for that to go, a remaking of humanity, thinking about childrearing while childrearing, mimetic fiction is all about divorces, my experience with my marriage, different parents have different levels of interest in their own child’s rearing, would have benefited the working class, the washing machine is liberatory, television as the babysitter, smartphones, is that wrong, a typical Ted Chiang thing, an actual syndrome: psychosocial dwarfism, growth hormones stop operating, emotional malnutrition, not an ideal human state, really bougie, homeschooling, unschooling, the class dimension, a survival strategy, a metaphor for public schooling, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, Nanny by Philip K. Dick, the planned obsolescence angle, aloof parents, more attached to the nanny than to the parents, gladiatorial nannies, what if they trigger while raising the kids, if you follow police state logic, hands are dangerous weapons, tape their mouths up, and kill everybody (to be safe), the rational childcare device, a more cutesy vignette

reading, or being read, Ted Chiang stories, is like quaffing pure liters of undiluted SCIENCE FICTION from the fount in which it was first forged. And I tell you, without hyperbole, that Science Fiction absolutely cannot die as long as TED CHIANG lives and writes it.

asking and posing the big questions, natural science, parallel universes, asking questions, collecting and systematizing, that guy we didn’t like, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn, “proving things”, weapons of mass destruction, 17 intelligence agencies, how can we falsify this?, holy shit he was right!, thought experiments, thinking them through completely, exploring a philosophical point, you can’t do it with mimetic fiction, what happens if…, that’s what they all are, the author afterwords offer insight, that I’m taking my head apart scene, a reverse infodump, we can’t understand ourselves, arguments like proverbs (suck), limiting understanding, refusing that limit, there’s no Godellian self-impossibility, what Dick does, almost like a drug metaphor, the thought’s he’s having and the thoughts he’s expressing, if you want to get into a big fight, tell me my hand is not my hand, memory, Hal, the difference, Ted Chiang doesn’t have this paranoia, adjacent to technology, the guy measuring the ether, how do we know what we know, the art installation for The Great Silence, Alex the talking parrot, very emotional, their beak is kind of their hand, emotional realities, those Alex videos, a whole other mind we have access to through regular English, these humans are looking for intelligence in the universe, the search for terrestrial intelligence, pretty cool, kinda heartbreaking, the whole Alex thing, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams, Arecibo, it hears the voice of creation, the lasting breath, spirit as the breath of God, the breath is not me, he’s having it both ways, these copper plates, audio versus text, in another five years, Wayne would personally recommend the book and the audiobook, here’s where I got the idea, at the end of every story, as a collection, this book we can hand off to people, I feel stupid when I’m reading stupid, reading this makes me feel like I’m the genius that I am, I’m sophisticated, I’m so stupid, not having brilliant ideas all day long, a guy practicing his words for his sermon, thinking on aloud, thinking on paper, writing therapy, cast them out of you, people are made of stories.

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #535 – READALONG: The Pirates Of Ersatz by Murray Leinster

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #535 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about The Pirates Of Ersatz by Murray Leinster

Talked about on today’s show:
The Pirates Of Zan, translation, there’s no planet named Ersatz, inferior substitute, pirate planet, a terrible pirate, a great pirate, a successful pirate, replacement pirates, Darth pirates, actors, so fun, The people of Walden are pirating themselves, Zan pirates, regular boring farming, he wanted adventure, cover with a slide rule in his teeth, he wanted to be an engineer, climbing into the boat, a stun pistol, Jesse read it 10 years ago, forgettable fun, comic novels, The Incomplete Enchanter by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp, Space Viking by H. Beam Piper, between the two poles, Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, a road trip, a means of pointing out flaws in society, “audiobooks are books, Paul”, back when Jesse was angry about stuff on the internet, the same Kurt Vonnegut story: 2BOR02B, where the PDF Page came from, The Aliens by Murray Leinster read by Julie Davis, Forgotten Classics, you’re welcome for the audiobook, the Astounding book, a nominee for the Hugo, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Sirens Of Titan, definitely written for John W. Campbell, the competent man, a comedic novel, The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, Deathworld by Harry Harrison, there are better con-men novels, with less infodumping, his tricks, not cheating as much as we might guess, Jesse is not an electrical engineer, everything is wirelessly charged, this is all very plausible (in theory), everyone is getting cooked with microwaves, magnetic coils, how romantic, a Tesla thing, a wireless radio without a battery, the radio waves themselves are the power, Julie wants no more details, the central problem and its resolution, a “death ray”, being set-up, an unintended consequence, he wrapped it up nicely, virtually in suspense, the political/sociological heft, a little too pat, the ambassador and the grandfather are the Heinlein characters, the mental wisdom for Hodan, oh yeah, gotta bunch of wisdom to instill in this kid, Walden Pond, here’s what comes from too much peace, stasis, civilization, the most civilized planet, frontier mentality, tranquilizing society, taking Oxycontin in their main hobby, the Captain Kirk of their society, an agent of chaos, he facilitates, some more of the embassies, the kind of Earth empire (not even a confederation), a larger universe, central authority, feudal chaos, different polities, a space patrol, The High Crusade by Poul Anderson, green-skinned aliens, the Krishna novels, fauna and flora, legalistic arguments down to a fine art, culturally sophisticated, the lord of this and the king of that, the bride of our hero, “this is the woman for you, dude”, the angriest woman in the universe, Chekov’s gun, Netta, the glamour of being associated with a pirate, cowing the barbarians, she wants to make a nice girl out of me, speaking of gender, the Gendered Text Project, suddenly everything’s different, when Bree Hodan…, she was a delightful girl, the weirdest one, it changes the feel, a basic romance, non-binary, Bryn, hir room, zee went to bed, hir ambitions, zee’d be well to do, such prospects made for good sleeping, grandPARENT, what does this do to the original story, kind of like a Conan story, the fools all around them, a softer Conan story, a very weird concept (with that in mind), the male version of the book, Thor is female (or was), a female Wolverine, a novel of a capable man, a capable woman (a Mary Sue), unlikeable, fun and helpful, what happens to your perception, Derek was almost like a female character to begin with, backing into the piracy, originally funnier, who wants to go off an be a civil engineer?, messing around, a new company comes out, ebooks, the Adult version of Harry Potter, Harriet Potter, does that inform your writing, copyright laws, we need a new clause, Indian films, Ghajini (2008) is the Hindi version of Memento (2000), non-creative, zero-respect, the point of writing a book, nyah nyah nop eugh, Julian Assange being taken out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, shelter, citizenship, citizenship revoked, “crime”, the science fiction romp frothiness vs. realpolitik, could that fictional embassy possibly exist?, how striking, shimmying down a rope, heat guns, a very Cory Doctorow thing, flashmobs, an ad on Craigslist: white wig and blue shirt, 10,000 Julian Assanges, embassy intrigue, not that kind of science fiction (really serious about politics), an adventure story, razed in a day, England and embassies, not so much pirates, Pirates Of Darth, the Danegeld, some viking will take them up on it, semi-civilized, William the Bastard, invading a neighbouring island (England), the really fun part, the homeless people are his fleet, sense of empathy, he’d been cheated, so angry, with the insurance, the bonuses, it’s his character, a soft-hearted pirate, why’d you come to a poor place, the poor will give you everything, the underclass, high fleet admiral, against the elites, the Walden society is fucked up, Robert E. Howard’s theories about civilization and barbarism, built-up capital, addiction and getting servants in to pick your crops, a built-in establishment likes they way things work out for them, not everyone is equally powerful, cops vs. judges, a critique of 1959 USA, a lot of lines like this, a lot of frothiness, the background buildup in the philosophy of the world, in cahoots, in support of that system, from the fourth paragraph, good writing, quite pretty, the highest in the Nurmi cluster, a supply of tranquilizers, the tigers aren’t after us at this very moment, blackbears aren’t super-dangerous, a bear up stuck in a tree, wealthy humans getting excited about a bear, so few bear skeletons found in trees, would they notice with one hand clapping?, straight thinking is a delusion, real things aint simple, aint clear, make it as complicated as you can, isn’t that the way, we’ll just do this to do that, that bit of wisdom, how politicians get out of hot water, death ray vs. he literally fell out of a tree, tying everything back in, luring them into understanding how it works, using them as a means to his end, in dealing with other peoples problems you can solve your problems, a helluva lot better neighbour, its not your business, US public healthcare would force Canada to go left, Jagmeet Singh, the US government can’t administer Medicare very well, corruption, we have to up our game, Jesse is not wrong, Canada defines itself in opposition to the USA, Nice, France, from the outsiders outsiders point of view, how clear that question was, 42, Twitter as a medium of links and pictures, Gilles Deleuze, the grandfather’s idea, piracy is good for the economy, things only work because they break down, piracy is a good think, a timid introverted poor student from Australia who went to France, a powerful thinker, what old guys thought might make sense, that history of failure is fascinating, see where someone else made this mistake a long time ago, 1987, an English teacher in a technical high-school, terminal, a couple of hours of philosophy a week, six or seven hours a week, general culture, written in the 1950s, this depiction of piracy, stasis vs. disorder, a product of its time?, relative stability, would people go for it?, a precarious situation, does this novel work today, Frederik Pohl, P. Schuyler Miller, adventure yarning, of piece of lightweight for entertainment purposes only, sneaks up on you, something funny about the names, Hodan like Odin, Bran, brain vs. brawn, Darth is dearth, things with the names, order and chaos, no longer applicable, capitalism is based on producing as much disorder as possible, Crim is the ultimate capitalist, Walden is sublimation, full of crackpots, for spite, a subtle sort of hidden intellectual side to the story, spot on, John Clute, “a competent but unremarkable space opera”, a series of planetary romances, The Odyssey, picaresque, Penelope isn’t delightful so he goes back with Circe, coming to mind, stasis vs. richness, Jesus: feel sorry for the rich man, a cyclical need, Jesse wants to read more of these, other Leinsters, The Forgotten Planet, A Logic Named Joe, Journey To Barkut, William F. Jenkins, one of the earliest science fiction writers of the pulp era, making a living, Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey, Badge Of Infamy, The Green Odyssey by Philip Jose Farmer, humans are pretty funny, a smelly barbarian queen, he delicately disassembled, a very nice sweeping line, one could spend a lifetime, absolutely true, industriously reading pirated books, so important, torrent site, not available in his region, deathbed conversion, sin-eater, something real about the piracy thing, the title is already a parody (of The Pirates Of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan), making fun of the romantic idea of piracy, the pirate nation known as the United States, Fred Himebaugh’s pirate novel (with Blackbeard as president), USA maintains a shit list, yo ho ho and a bagful of books, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings by Tom Shippey, viking is a verb, you get a song out of it, heroic lifestyle, the Wild West, threats vs. warnings, we need an audiobook of this book, the last John W. Campbell story, angels, Alec Nevala-Lee, philosophy as a sort of science fiction, people are complex numbers existing on an imaginary axis, a last joke, Campbell’s definition of science fiction, non-philosophy, he’s gone beyond everyone, September 1971, On The Nature Of Angels, a pun, the really sad part, adhering the copyright law is hurting people, playing a little bit fast and loose, makes sense, a “sample”, pirates are nice folks, generally helpful, helping the insurance industry, Walden to the nth level, sad story for them, romance adventure and derring-do, The Runaway Skyscraper by Murray Leinster, stf = scientificition, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, H.G. Wells, 40 years later, 1919 – 1959, LibriVox, on the lam, The Creatures Of The Abyss, good basic pulp-type story, Sidewise In Time, passenger pigeons are back, pulpy goodness, alternate histories, Star Trek, First Contact, here’s an idea, poor Tom Godwin couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag, thick accent that infests every sentence, getting more Leinster up.

Ace Books, 66525, The Pirates Of Zan

The Pirates Of Zan, 1974

Kelly Freas' The Pirates Of Ersatz

Piratefleet Over Darth

ACE Books D-403, The Pirates Of Zan

The Pirates Of Zan, 1989

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #501 – READALONG: The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #501 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about The Book Of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Talked about on today’s show:
1972, nominated for…, it doesn’t feel like a science fiction book at all, a small book, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, winning author, feels like a Lawrence Block book, the Lawrence Block genre, the same writing system, magazines and paperbacks, a prolific writing machine, four a year or five a week, pseudonyms, erotica, mysteries, a writer’s writer, Harlan Ellison, Donald Westlake, the kind of paperback you read with one hand, paying markets, popular writers, you can feel it, it didn’t keep it up, keeping up the pace, it doesn’t feel like a fantasy either, genre adjacent, secret history, come from Atlantis, can we trust that monk?, anything?, inside the compound, exactly halfway through, another kind of book, the Wikipedia entry, a happy roadtrip movie, a Quentin Tarantino, the route they took, New York, Chicago, Phoenix, Route 66, bildungsroman, American road-trip, Route 666, the TV show, what kind of book this is, no one reads as many old magazines as Jesse does today, ads for the Rosicrucian, the pyramids, astounding wisdom, astral projection, you may walk on the surface of the Sun!, the free book, secret society, AMORC, what secret power did they possess?, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton, a full and peaceful life, power on this earth, primetime for cults, hey baby we’re going to the desert, dropping out, a book about a cult, unadvertised, that kind of immortality, laying out plans, stuck in this vastness, unrealistic expectations, when I get immortality, studying music for 30 years, walk across Asia, Larry Niven’s immortal characters, Louis Wu, a fashion maven, a hermit in a cave, the attraction of this book, stupid guys in college, naive, spew on it, a quest, eternal life, existential philosophy, seeking meaning, personal devils, the rubric, a cosmic accident, worth the risk, significance for your life, underlying outline, couched in the 70s, pretty accurate, when this book was new, time under my belt, he knew his existential philosophy, this book lives and dies on the fact there’s no Wikipedia, Scientology, getting off the bus to Hollywood, some friendly guy, working on myself, help me get jobs, the death wish thing, it doesn’t happen on screen, uninteresting lives, Jesse is Eli, homosexual, no trust fund, confess that later, reality shows and Big Brother, William Friedkin, a horror story, thinking during the book, Oliver, ’70s randy dudes, a lot of sex, not very SFy, cutting edge back then, drugs, pulp sci-fi, my faith wavered, the shrill laughter of Satan, do you think you’ve gained anything here?, the icy future, this image, the desert as one of the poles, an empty blasted world, a strange backsliding, oh god, you felt it to then?, the voice of doubt, the thing that you seek, skull mask, sullen girl, the heavy breasted succubus, the thing you seek, the House of Skulls, a hawk in the blue sky, hawk you will die and I will live, of this I have no doubt, I understand, life eternal we offer thee, a horror story ending, as much as it is disquisition on existentialism, prescribing vs. describing, I reject your victory, are these guys 25,000 years old?, an afterword, tell us the secret, I wasn’t there, ambiguity, the path of existentialism, belief, salvation, if you have a philosophical bent, in to being outraged, problematic scenes, I raped my sister, completely free of any of those concerns, he’s not trying to make it a movie, free love, a less apologetic culture, one review, this isn’t the only way to practice homosexuality, a gay friendly book, not shy or ashamed, never felt preached to, there’s these dudes, who’s telling this story, snarking on each other, getting it right and wrong, a psychological study, four narrators, not buddies, same basic age, hard to distinguish when not talking about themselves, Stefan Rudnicki, they’re the same guy, aspects of the same guy, the skull with the faces, without the flesh on it it is just a skull, each of those skulls had a face, working on a Freudian analysis, flowery metaphor, the right symbol for immortality, not immortality in Heaven, a horror immortality, the ending, in too deep, the sunk cost fallacy, that’s what this is about?, spicy vegetarian meals forever, a really old thing, memento mori, to contemplate your mortality, skulls under our faces, carrying death within us, Lent, from dust you came, Halloween, the Day of the Dead, candy skulls, Hamlet, I knew him Horatio, I kissed these lips, how great a work is man, I’m on a horror train come with me, sorry Ophelia, two fall away two move forward, four confession, the sacrifice and the murder, who is going to be killed?, who is going to kill themselves?, sharp, into overdrive, Oliver was the one, Eli was going to kill himself, a neurotic nebbish, game this out, expectations gone awry, Ariel, Random Walk by Lawrence Block, meanwhile in Kansas, really evil characters, these two forces come together, it is about walking, power walker (racewalker), speedwalking, a sports commentator, the normal human activity, chasing at a leisurely pace, endurance running, human physiology Wayne, local stray animals, escaping predators, getting places, an excuse to get exercise, walking (and hiking) is associated with thinking, meaning comes to him, gaining interest over time, The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham, Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Denholm Elliot, a WWI book, a trip to Asia, I’m a yogi, having meaning, it pisses everybody else off, from their point of view, crime novels, the Bernie Rhoddenbar books, The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart, Eight Million Ways To Die, the Matt Scudder series, A Walk Among The Tombstones, really good at brutal, Liam Neeson, alcoholism, a philosophy behind him, putting bullets in people occasionally, 1944, a sense of maybe not is all right with existence, ideas of the East, a weird category, not a lot of mystical powers, is there anything in here that is proof of some fantastic element, not good proof, on the razor’s edge between reality and something beyond, Poul Anderson’s Boat Of A Million Years, what does this all mean?, just sayin’, mixed success, the end of chapter nine, Jesse trying to dominate everything, the frater Anthony, go off into the desert and bury your friend, a librarian who keeps track of the local cults, they’re never coming back, when the cops come…, we have two, oh shit, keeping those hands off, their techniques, what are the ladies doing there, is there a book of skulls for women, four ladies on a road trip, a jump forward in time, porridge again for breakfast, skyscars, A Canticle For Leibowitz by American writer Walter M. Miller Jr., a great idea for a novel, quick edit that part out, possibilities, Larry Niven, the flipside of death, the men who live forever, The Draco Tavern, a story for ever vocab work, attaching meaning, ephemeral, a fifth Doctor episode, thing that doesn’t last very long, a three day old newspaper, all these skulls, all the idiots who came to this cult, two for every four, so fucking bored, same society, is Clark Gable still making movies?, Avengers: Infinity War, Footloose, the remake, Flashdance, cheerleader movies, Bring It On, Turn It Up, end of Chapter 9, Richard Nixon, bumptious, the true genius of the race, clerisy, a Lincoln Continental, flogging us towards sundown, a thing writers writers do all the time, a book I was reading not long ago, metaphor, the bleak Kalahari, the realities of the desert, the beautiful one, the clown, the hunter, the headman, Yatesian counter rotating gyres, ideational vs. operational, a stable group, the state, the hunter, the church, the art, and I the clown, a summary of their book in their book, I was reading this book lately and I’ll tell you how shitty it was, Ned and Eli, the shaman, the religion, Ned is the art, the leadership and the hunter, given up the things that connect them to the outside, people who live in the mind, meditating all day long, that makes sense, an existentialist end in view, the church and art, the speculative and self expressing parts of identity, Søren Kierkegaard, personal identity, the father of existentialism, a core value, an actual philosophy, here is a way towards answer, damn this shit is hard, we got to find something to do, Albert Camus, the myth of Sisyphus, life is absurd, pointless futile labour, find your own meaning, The Stranger, The Rebel, The Fall, the only thing left to us is suicide and I hope you consider it, the only practicing Catholic, St. Louis whore sex, the inner thoughts, powerful stuff, this actually happened, four science fiction writers in a car, a very North American thing, the road trip novel, Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon, Paul Theroux, Anthony Bourdain, The Old Patagonian Express, Siberia, landscape, flashbacks, Eli is a fraud, they’re young college kids, James Joyce, critical essays, flowery description, bullshit, personal demons, a metaphor for his entire life, his how life was inauthentic, the murder, you can see why, don’t threaten my escape, the part of the ritual, the receptacle, a side benefit, a very well written book, the 9th secret, the rich guy, Oliver, a shameful gay dalliance, denying his authentic self, the non-PC part of the book, the people who are upset about things, a very real cultural attitude, bred for richness, 100 a week, 18,000 years, pride, the tallness that I have, a short book, a slim volume from the ’70s, as always, a preview of Robert Silverberg’s return to Lord Valentine’s castle, Majipoor Chronicles, Dying Inside, The Stochastic Man, Lord Valentine’s Castle, what a cool world, a series back then, a series today, Nightwings, the future city of Rome, the mouth, Hero Of The Empire, Roma Eterna, a young man who wants to start a new religion, keep the empire going, Harry Turtledove, fighting Persia all the time, Through Darkest Europe.

The Book Of Skulls (1979)
The Book Of Skulls (1981)
The Book Of Skulls
The Book Of Skulls (1972)
The Book Of Skulls

Posted by Jesse Willis