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

Review of The World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick

SFFaudio Review

Please welcome our newest reviewer, Marissa!  You can also download our podcast readalong discussion of this book.

The World Jones Made
By Philip K Dick; Read by Christopher Lane.
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1456-5
[UNABRIDGED] 6 discs – 7 hours

Themes: / precognition / relativism / post-apocalpytic / carnival / government /

Publisher Summary:

Floyd Jones has always been able to see exactly one year into his future, a gift and curse that began one year before he was even born. As a fortuneteller at a postapocalyptic carnival, Jones is a powerful force, and may be able to free society from its paralyzing Relativism. If, that is, he can avoid the radioactively unstable government hit man on his tail.

So far, every Phillip K. Dick book I read makes me fall in love with him a little harder. This one didn’t disappoint.

PKD’s protagonist in The World Jones Made is a dedicated, world-weary secret-service officer for FedGov, the world government in 2002. He thinks of himself as something like “the town dog catcher,” and he’s proud of his work, even if other people (including his wife) don’t much appreciate it.

Cussick’s job is to help enforce the new Relativistic society in which just about anything is tolerated and you can believe whatever you want, but you can’t state personal beliefs as facts or impose your views on anyone else. The world has recently emerged from a huge religious war that nobody really won, and now religious dogma as well as anti-religious dogma (or any kind of fanaticism) is illegal.

Of course, there’s a dystopian twist: anyone who is caught stating their personal opinions as facts loses their civil liberties and is sent to a labor camp.

The story starts when Cussick meets a weird, slightly feverish fortune-teller named Floyd Jones at a carnival. Cussick arrests Jones for talking about the future as fact, but it soon becomes clear that Jones isn’t just spouting opinions; he’s a true precog. The FedGov police are forced to release him (just as Jones knew they would), and Jones’ subsequent cult following soon begins to upset the “stability” FedGov had forced on the population.

This is the set-up to the main plot, but I haven’t even mentioned the sub-plots that run alongside and intertwine the Jones/Cussick story, like the strange mutants who live inside a hot, steamy biodome refuge near San Francisco. There’s also the problem of the barn-sized jellyfish-aliens that have been drifting down from space to die on Earth’s surface. No one really knows what “the Drifters” are or what they want, but people find them kinda disgusting and scary (fair enough) and have a tendency to attack them in angry mobs.

FedGov, meanwhile, is trying to protect the aliens from injury, in case whatever has sent them doesn’t appreciate mob attacks by Earthlings. One of the notices up on a bulletin board in this future world goes like this: “WARNING TO THE PUBLIC: Migrating Protozoa not to be harmed. The public is hereby advised that certain Interplanetary Migratory Protozoa, referred to as “Drifters,” have, by special act of the Supreme Council of the Federal World Government, been placed in the category of Wards of the State and are not to be damaged, harmed, mutilated, destroyed, abused, tortured or in any way subjected to cruel or unusual treatment with intent to injure or kill.”

The scenery and situations in this book are pure PKD: dark and grim and bizarre. There are mutants, precogs, wives behaving mysteriously, and smoky subterranean bars where patrons order heroin from robot servants and hermaphrodites perform live sex shows on the stage.

PKD switches viewpoints between the characters of the main story-lines: the biodome mutants, Cussick, and of course the fascinating Jones, who is a long-suffering prisoner to his own future: his ability to see one year in the future means that he must experience every conversation and event twice (to his extreme irritation).

For me, Christopher Lane’s reading was just about perfect: his calm, determined narration and pacing is well suited for PKD’s writing. The characters already had distinctive personalities and voices, but Lane managed to enhance them. He also did a great job with the female voices by adjusting his tone, accents and pacing without affecting that artificial high pitch I’ve heard some other male narrators do (cringe). I especially loved how he portrayed Jones’ bored frustration at having to live every moment twice over.

I’ll definitely look out for more of Lane’s readings, and I highly recommend this audiobook as a brilliant and weird PKD experience.

Review by Marissa van Uden

The SFFaudio Podcast #142 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG – Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #142 – Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood, read by Gregg Margarite. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Tamahome, and Gregg Margarite).

Talked about on today’s show:
Accessory Before The Fact was published in 1911, Jesse doesn’t understand this story, Wilkie Collins, ethereal planes are the hook (rather than the detail), Gilligan and The Skipper vs. Laurel and Hardu vs. Harold and Kumar, “this is not a time-slip story”, “this is a precognative story”, paranoia, “spirtitualized”, Germanophobia, WWI, bigotry on display, L. Frank Baum’s racism, Teutonic invasion, how many characters are in this story (4 or 3)?, peeling away the layers, déjà vu, see/feel the future, quantum theory, is time a superimposition onto real reality?, slipstream, fantasy, should we dismiss this story?, Ten Minute Short Stories, adventure, Accessory Before The Fact is at the genesis of all this, an accountant on vacation, “what do you do when you have one of these events and you can’t prove it”?, The Moment Of Decision by Stanley Ellin, 13 More Stories They Wouldn’t Let Me Do On TV edited by Alfred Hitchcock, An Occurance At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, time is an illusion, “time is a serious problem…”

Accessory Before The Fact by Algernon Blackwood - illustration by Bob Harvey

Alfred Hitchcock Presents: 13 More Stories They Wouldn't Let Me Do On TV

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Song Bird from RRCA

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audio Drama - Song BirdSong Bird
Starring Kelli O’Hara, Shirley Jones, and Ed Asner
2 CDs – 2 Hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Repertory Company of America
Published: 2011
Themes: / Audio Drama / Science Fiction / Music / Precognition / Private Investigator /

I know the Radio Repertory Company of America best for the Anne Manx series. I’m a fan of those entertaining comic book dramas (|SFFaudio Review|) so I’m always thrilled when they send me something.

Before they get back to Manx, Angelo Panetta and crew offer Song Bird, a standalone science fiction audio drama. The story opens with a singer named Maureen Barnett (Kelli O’Hara) singing in an out of the way lounge. This is odd because she’s famous and should be singing in front of huge crowds. Amelia Storm (Shirley Jones) is also a singer and she’s got something to give Maureen – the ability to see the future. The gift immediately becomes a burden as Maureen sees disturbing things about her teenage daughter. The story then shifts into a higher gear when the things that worry Maureen actually take place and she’s forced to hire a private investigator to help her find her daughter.

After listening to this production, and so many other audio dramas over the years, I continue to be impressed by RRCA. The quality of the actors is one of the things that set RRCA’s productions apart. The actors here are excellent. Ed Asner plays a retired police officer turned private investigator, and is hilarious. Asner and Shirley Jones together are a delight and I wanted to hear more of them when it was over. First rate performances all around.

The second mark of an RRCA production is the quality of the sound. Music plays a large role here, and Kelli O’Hara and Shirley Jones sound great. Great care is taken with sound effects and background music. I urge you to grab a nice pair of headphones and give this production your full attention! It’s well worth your time. Enjoy!

Posted by Scott D. Danielson