The SFFaudio Podcast #548 – READALONG: The Ministry Of Truth by Dorian Lynskey

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #548 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and Terence Blake talk about The Ministry Of Truth by Dorian Lynskey

Talked about on today’s show:
June 2019, direct from the publisher Penguin Random House, the last chapter, the afterword, there are four lights, the first part, learned the most, an intellectual history, the life after Orwell’s death, a grab-bag of memes, the cold war, the conservative revival, too loosey-goosey, H.G. Wells, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, flat, comprehensive, how it touched other people, David Bowie, Star Trek, Babylon 5, it didn’t have that rigor (in the second half), a funnel, a shotgun, The Prisoner, the momentum is gone by 2019, how many places he’s infiltrated culture, computer games, blind spots, America was a blind spot, Orwell’s anti-Americanism, Trump, when you’re writing about history thirty years ago, perspective, Margaret Atwood’s appendix theory, a lot of bad theories, China and 1984, through the great firewall, censorship, The Guardian, June 4th anniversary, The Atlantic, why 1984 isn’t banned in China, the inner party is going to read it anyway, it’s at bookstores, Animal Farm, discussed in colleges in Canada, Hearts Of Iron IV, so deep, play Honduras during WWII, what officers in the army were active in Honduras during WWII, Paradox Games, insane on the details or mechanics, cannot be done in any other medium, fascinating, that they ban that, the meme of the day issue, PUBG, blood and gore restrictions (green blood), switches from being about Orwell and the U.K. to the United States after the war, the Apple ad, social media, fake news influencing the Taiwanese elections, who gets taught this book and who discusses it, how Orwell is used by the CIA as anti-communist propaganda, why so many people are forced to read it in school, school is indoctrination, training workers, who what huh?, what was your first encounter with Nineteen Eighty-Four, trying to learn about dystopian fiction, self-educate, a roman-a-clef (a book with a key), most teachers suck, who the fuck are those guys?, its not a kids book, Animal Farm is a kids book, propaganda, everybody wants to take control of Orwell, anti-totalitarian, notice how its not considered science fiction, she’s a stumbling block, she is double thinking when she says her book is not science fiction, in her mind, the pulpy fifties sort of stuff, a wilful blindness, voluntary ignorance, an article on Margaret Brundage (for Playboy), I’m going to write a science fiction novel, I’m going to write a utopian, a massive list, We is public domain, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, I’m inside the machine, I worship the internet, just like the lady in the story, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the premise, H.G. Wells (the guy most responsible for modern science fiction), in response to Looking Backward, the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, she uses the appendix theory in The Handmaid’s Tale, she needs that hope, had Orwell lived, Wells gets dragged, nobody likes Wells’ later stuff, H. L. Mencken’s review of Wells’ later stuff (The Late Mr. Wells), When The Sleeper Awakes, Mack Reynolds, the problem is everybody has a good income and no jobs, no waiters or waitresses, no service jobs, everybody wants meaning (and there’s no jobs), The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, that book nobody reads anymore, the turn from utopia to dystopia, a theory that’s just an idea, people trying to fuck with George Orwell’s statement for their purposes, how everybody can take ownership, this is how you guys are, high school sci-fi class, libertarian teacher, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, kids are malleable, the books you read when you were young, Brave New World, look at this!, these are books that exist, who’s the publisher?, questions that never go into the mind of a student, Adbusters, slick production used against slick production, the best books tell you something you already know, I’m being gaslit, I’m not crazy!, that Goldstein book, literally true, did they create it themselves?, The Plague by Albert Camus, realist vs. allegory, a movie version of The Plague starring William Hurt, the Hurts hurt, the RCMP, anti-American imperialism, the Chinese threat, afraid of conscription, looking back do you see the hands?, staying with the Queen and following America’s lead, why we read the books that we did, the “free market” trying to sell books, not just the free market, Shakespeare for social purposes (rather than a CIA plot), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the legacy, the same books still being pushed, a certain number of novels in the curriculum, The Hunger Games used in school, massive cultural impacts (from inertia), The Prisoner is Nineteen Eighty-Four, the village is perfect, everyone has a place, a child of 1984, spook-life, political expediency vs. moral obligation, the new Big Finish The Prisoner, what makes the dialogue authentic, all questions are turned on their heads, number one is number six, why Atwood’s theory is bad, when the telescreen echoes words, doubling dream-like, nothing is on fixed ground, is it even 1984, write new reality, the one book, a healthy body is a negative, physically weaker, turning them into infants, that instinct is within us, I want a pillow, the Big Brother reality shows, make me a star, I like being babied, people would volunteer for prison, no problem for most people, does it matter (most people aren’t going to read it anyway)?, the Internet Research Agency story, if this book was written in the 1970s, the Muller stuff, okay Rachel Maddow went too far, a political hack who doesn’t even know what’s in his own report, political interference, Honduras, why are 80% of the refugees Honduran, a passing reference to Milton Friedman and the Shock Doctrine, Chile, the U.S. Empire, not a major part of the story, Airstrip One, is Britain in charge or is Britain a colony in 1984, post national, the difference between patriotism and nationalism, a good and natural thing vs. an artificial and evil thing, a connection and fondness for them, when George Orwell went to fight against fascism, ok I have to fight now, when you submit to an authority, Blake’s 7, that opening episode is absolutely drawn from 1984, they call him a pedophile and insert memories in order to convict him, the solution (never stated) is anarchistic group of people who do not love Big Brother, even on Star Trek they have to follow orders, Terry Nation’s Survivors, the “good fight”, working with warlords to take down the Taliban, dishonorably discharged for telling the media about warlord sex-slaves, why the good side lost, nobody conscripted them, about nationalism, the state more than the nation, the Michael Radford movie of 1984, national symbols, nations are constructed, French culture, the French state, the books that are important to you, a nation is a project, what Oceania meant, they control the world through the sea, not nation names anymore, Orwell is seeing what’s happened to the U.K., The Marshall Plan, no victory here, V-J Day, this book published in June, no mention of BoJo (Boris Johnson), neoliberalism, ideology is what’s missing, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump don’t have ideology, the alternative facts are just to make them look good, damage control and self-promotion, not having an ideology is the ideology, double-think, he’s lying but he’s revealing what other don’t want to say, you don’t need an intellectualized theory, a gas that’s everywhere based on double-think, who gets to do the gas-lighting, story after story about alternative facts, Cube (1997), Cube 2 (2002), owners, making fun of a conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory, Noam Chomsky, The Wall Street Journal, it’s not the focus, preferred candidates, the staff of RT is former MSNBC employees, Jesse Ventura, Minnesota exist in theory, the dominant voice, the subtitle is what sold me, The Biography Of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a birth, genes, afterlife, more books like this, a negative review, Bellamy is the soup that’s in the culture that you’re building on, an overall trend from utopia to dystopia, so valuable, all the stuff that was listed, a lot not mentioned, the number of respondents to Bellamy, William Morris’ utopia, we’re the sleepers, that opening line (much improved from the original draft), he was a very good writer, the previous drafts, what he took out, really interesting, Orwell’s personality, cruel to everybody’s babies, a fundamental place of honesty, I paid money for this they’re doing a bad job, no animosity for the writer and artist, not trying to be mean, Jesse fears he’s being mean when he ats Marissa, a smile with a thing, “Lies are the religion of slaves and masters. Truth is the god of the free man.” from The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky, the quote in the book is not that quote, the spirit of the play(?), a drama in four acts, as hard as it is to identify the truth (very very very hard), if you don’t have truth as your god you’re fucked, if you were forced to fight in a war in the 20th century, of all the fascist dictators was Franco the least worst?, Hitler, Mussolini, WWII was a battle against fascism, WWI, the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam War, Maissa’s question (turned on its head), the International Brigades, Norman Bethune, the Great Patriotic War (in China), battlefield surgery, fighting for a principle, what war would you fight for?, what principles would you fight for?, Orwell’s Homage To Catalonia, pirate mentality, you don’t get 1984 without that, thinking on paper, everything that I wrote was directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, so Pollyanna, lay down and die, if conscripted during WWII Jesse would like to serve Alan Turning’s coffee, his country didn’t love him, you love Big Brother (he doesn’t care), the mustache is not a Hitler mustache, more Stalin, no one escapes the tar-brush, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an important and good book, how to fight against your government your institutions your Alexa devices, the Google button that’s built in, on principle it’s a bad idea to be submitting so, the reason it has a switch to turn the camera off, removing the battery, electromagnetic field sensitivity, keeping his cellphone in a lead-lined box, its off in a certain sense, devices with no off switches, “Nvidia Shield Off”, if the book is going to be relevant after 1949, B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two, positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement, use pleasure, use fear, News From Nowhere: 1984, the discovery of Eric Blair, lack of any institutionalized government, the dream of 19th century anarchism, 10 hours is a reasonable size, so much is suggested, the appendix is important, revising history, you don’t read the Dune appendix, the Tolkien appendices, A Clockwork Orange, a missing chapter, as Eric Blair intended, Eric Blair hates vegetarianism, teetotalers, nudists, Quakers, sandals, fruit juice, Marxist slogans, pistachio coloured shirts, birth control, yoga, and beads, anti-hipster socialist.

And, here are Marissa’s notes about UTOPIAS & DYSTOPIAS mentioned in The Ministry Of Truth:

1516 – Utopia by Thomas More
1726 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
1771 – The Year 2440: A Dream If Ever There Was One by Louis-Sebastién Mercier (time-travel to future utopia)
1880 – Dr Heindenhoff’ Process by Edward Bellamy (scientist learns how to erase memories and guilt – Orwell’s Oceania-like)
1872 – Erewhon by Samuel Butler (satire)
1887 – A Crystal Age by W. H. Hudson
1888 – Looking Backward: 2000–1887 by Edward Bellamy
1889 – To Whom This May Come by Edward Bellamy (telepathy has eliminated crime and deceit)
1889 – New Amazonia: A Foretaste of the Future by Elizabeth Corbett (feminist utopia)
1890 – News from Nowhere by William Morris (agrarian, anarchist utopia – counter to Bellamy’s “cockney paradise”)
1890 – Looking Further Backward by Arthur Dudley Vinton (bigoted sequel to Bellamy’s book, nationalism + feminism have emasculated America)
1890 – Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century by Ignatius Donnelly (Minnesota congressman & original conspiracy utopia in which “paradise is carved out in a Swiss-owned Uganda while American capitalism perishes in blood and fire”)
1890 – A.D. 2050: Electrical Development At Atlantis by John Bachelder (Right-wing utopia, refugees from Bellamy’s failing Nationalist society flee to Atlantis, which is turned into a proto-Orwellian police state)
1891 – Mr. East’s Experiences In Mr. Bellamy’s World by C. Wilbrant
1891 – Freeland: A Social Anticipation by Theodor Herzoka (Austrian economist “the Austrian Bellamy”)
1891 – The New Utopia by by Jerome K. Jerome (Bellamy spoof, introduces “numbers as names” SF trope)
1892 – A Traveler from Altruria by William Dean Howell
1892 – Gold In The Year 2000, Or, What Are We Coming To? by J. McCullough (time travel to future utopia where men play golf)
1897 – Equality by Edward Bellamy (fills gaps in Looking Backward)
1893 – Sub-Coelum: A Sky-Built Human World by Addison P. Russel (conservative utopia, anti-“materialistic socialism”)
1894 – The Land of the Changing Sun by Will N. Harben (underwater society with gov of eugenicists uses scanning devices and psychological torture)
1894 – A Journey of Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor (A conservative utopia, [by] one of richest men in the world at time USA, dominates planet & seeks to colonize others)
1897 –”A Story of the Days To Come by H.G. Wells” (forerunner to The Sleeper Awakes)
1898 – The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells
1899 – Imperium in Imperio by Sutton E. Griggs (first black utopia, Baptist Minister, son of former slave)
1900 – The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (“a Bellamyite, to judge by L. Frank Baum’s description of his egalitarian society in The Emerald City of Oz”)
1905 – A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells
1906 – Looking Forward: The Phenomenal Progress Of Electricity in 1912 by Harry W. Hillman
1909 – The Machine Stops by E.M Foster (scientific dystopia)
1915 – Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (feminist utopia)
1920 – We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (totalitarian state dystopia)
1923 – Men Like Gods by H.G. Wells (parallel universe utopia), HG Wells,
1932 – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (response to Wells’ Men Like Gods)
1938 – Anthem by Ayn Rand
1940 – Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler (author’s disillusionment with the Soviet Union’s version of Communism at the outset of World War II)
1942 – Unknown Land by Herbert Samuel
1945 – Animal Farm by George Orwell
1948 – Walden Two by B.F. Skinner (utopian)
1949 – 1984 by George Orwell
1952 – Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
1953 – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
1953 – Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh
1953 – One by David Karp
1958 – The Rise Of The Meritocracy 1870–2033 by Michael Young
1960 – Facial Justice by L.P. Hartley
1962 – Island by Aldous Huxley

The Ministry Of Truth: The Biography Of George Orwell's 1984

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #122 – Displaced Person by Eric Frank Russell

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #122

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Displaced Person by Eric Frank Russell

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Displaced Person was first published in Weird Tales, September 1948.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #471 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #471 – Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (21 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
the proper pronunciation of Machen, Arthur Llewellyn Jones, Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman, apprentice journalist, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, The Lost Club, Reading, Short And Deep, identicals, a Hellfire Club, a big scary black book, never heard from again, a very weird story, truly as the first weird fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, cosmicism, Mr Weird, H.P. Lovecraft, “it is this”, M.R. James, bedrock authors, Machen lived this stuff, a real-life magical society, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, W.B. Yates, a genuine mystic, landscape, in the modern world people see things on the surface and don’t apprehend the meaning, meta narrative, the interior story, so deeply framed, so nested, the hoopla surrounding The Bowmen, it’s not the story, the story is not the story, the story is the effect of the story, embarrassed by the story, a disappointment, surprisingly funny, a bit of whimsy, the early weeks of WWI, a ray of hope, taken as a genuine report from the front line, the Angel of the Mons, fighting the tide, how rumours take hold without any evidence, “snow on your boots”, reading it a straight up, a weird meta-fiction, pre-Borges, this sounds familiar, so popular, side projects, tales, stories, a meme, fascinating, how many Machens?, not a good story, T.P.’s Weekly, November 22nd, 1915, the retreat from Mons (August 1914), September 1914, six months later, weird podcasts, Tin Foil Hat Podcast, part of being an adult is being interested in the truth, conspiracy, half of capitalism, Clinton and Pizzagate, really fucked up things going on in government, punishment for plebs, a Clinton, New York child sex scandal, in the memory, it couldn’t be killed, all the letters Machen got, death threats, bottom up stories and top down stories, Russia! Russia! Russia!, collaborating or colluding, a conspiracy theorist, the person who testified who can’t be found, the Russian rumor, reports of Russian troops seen in Britain, a plague of spies, Cossacks at train stations heading south, a huge flap, a third myth, the Rape of Belgium, a rumour among German troops, resisting the invasion, buckets full of eyes, necklaces of German soldiers’ eyeballs, breasts cut off, every conceivable atrocity, a British censor on war time reports, the liars did very well, James Hayward’s Myths And Legends Of The First World War, German corpse factories, “the vile Hun”, fake news, the horrible little children, the Edwardian equivalent of the internet, into the papers in a round about fashion, how the nature of rumor and myth begins, transmitted in times of uncertainty and trouble, official news sources, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, they’re all correct, CIA infiltration of news agency [and MI5 screening of BBC], a lack of news, filling the gap with whatever they can find, the whole Russia story, 13 Russian trolls, Facebook ads, “the big gotcha moment”, the Internet Research Agency, in the business of trolling (for money), fake accounts, we have these rubes, for commercial purposes, Trump somehow helped the Russians hack the DNC servers?, borders mean nothing to the ultra-rich, puppets, Bernie-bro,

“army recruiters reported problems in explaining the origins of [WWI] in legalistic terms” hence an evolution in tactics, or different tactics for different classes, or the intellectual vs. the visceral

posters from 1914 and 1918

Seventy years ago your great-grandfathers and their great-grandfathers signed a document that made certain guarantees about Belgium’s neutrality.

vs.

Remember when the Germans raped their way through Belgium

this was Pearl Harbor!, why this story is so relevant, the thing that is the story, a powerful point about war, Morgan the childlike man, Castle Coch, the Red Keep, read about Belgium, and think they could haven been more than five or six years old, they were to ear what slime is to the touch, blasphemies struck like blows, a swarm of noise-some creatures, children with old men’s faces, one paragraph, Morgan to dream of Avalon, to purge himself of the fuming corruption of the streets, is this a true story?, places that are deprived and poor, the underwolves, super-predators, the Central Park five, seven fold increase in prison population, harvesting slaves, whatever new drug it is, top down or bottom up, moral panics, juvenile delinquents, hoodies, chavs, thuggish people, picked up by politicians, class war, welfare is for crack and knives, mainstream news, rock and roll, Beatles records, video nasties, horror comics, Dungeons & Dragons, video game violence, Trayvon Martin, manipulate the facts, the funny children, is Machen starting another story?, this is how I make this stuff up, the myth of the JD (juvenile delinquent), teddy boys, rockers, mods, a Bank Holiday British tradition, Quadrophenia, arguments about-for-and-against education, bad seeds, evil children, The Midwich Cuckoos, teenage hoodlums, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, free rides, sticking it to the man, sense of power, community centers, midnight basketball, psychology, the irresistible impulse to knock over a house of cards, the impulse for destruction, they just came in from Siberia, a train ride from Scotland, the British, Americans, and Canadians invade Siberia to try to reverse the Russian Revolution, The Sandbaggers, the rumour becomes the reality, wanting to believe the legend, not caring about evidence, fossilized in this story, what Robert E. Howard calls the little people, elves and trolls and gremlins, from fantasy to fake news, fake fairies, a strange new power, The Novel Of The Black Seal, The Novel Of The White Powder, Panther paperback, terrible cruel dwarf elves, the horror of war, he took a long time to get there, what’s this mention of Belgium, the worst swearword known in the galaxy, a weird momentum, the story has to keep replicating, the introduction to The Bowmen And Other Stories, the answer of course is in the question, struggles in truth in news, false, the seedbed for new conspiracy theories, official unknown sources, trying to fill dead air, Mr Jim Moon’s Folklore On Friday articles, Krampus, absolute bullshit, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Halloween, the received wisdom is always wrong, a new dark age, perceiving reality, where this story is set, who’s saying it, there are so many narrators, real places, Glastonbury Tor, Morgan le Fay, the myth of Avalon seems to be a bottom up story, Geoffrey Of Monmouth, Mallory, John Boorman’s Excalibur, a gel filter, the land of the fairy, Morgan le Fay is she has sex with her half brother, Mordred is killed by Arthur, Arthur is wounded and goes to the island of Avalon where he is healed by his sister and the mother of his child, how you get out of the horror of the Belgian horror, internecine war, the Kaiser and the Czar hugging each other.

propaganda evolution in WWI

The Angels Of The Mons

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #407 – The Ego Network by Paul K. Willis AUDIO DRAMA

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #407 – The Ego Network by Paul K. Willis was first broadcast on CBC Radio in the Spring of 1987 (airing on the weekend variety show, The Entertainers, hosted by Stan Carew).

“The chances are good that you’ve never heard of The Ego Television Network. caters to the world’s elite. There’s a reason for that, your’e not important enough.The Ego Television Network caters to the world’s political elite, the movers and shakers, the leaders of nations. This program offers a rare glimpse into that most private of networks, you are about to see television as you’ve never seen it before. You may never see its like again, but you will never forget The Ego Network.”

Featuring a TV morning show with Ferdinand Marcos and Jerry Falwell, a Billy Ocean ad for The Betty Ford Clinic, a game show with Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini, want ads from Idi Amin, Queen Elizabeth II, and Rudolf Hess. Mikhail Gorbachev’s game show (sponsored by the AK-47). And there’s Margaret Thatcher’s cooking show. PLUS: Muammar Gaddafi, Pik Botha, Nelson Mandela, Neil Kinnock, Jacques Chirac, and His Imperial Majesty [Jean-Bédel] Bokassa I, Emperor of Central Africa by the will of the Central African people, united within the national political party, the MESAN!

Cast:
Frank Daley
Catherine Gallant
Angela Guy
Ray Landry
Paul K. Willis

sound effects by Anton Szabo and Jean Sarrazin

Engineered by Doug Doctor

Produced by Tom Shipton

the EGO NETWORK by Paul K. Willis

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #250 – READALONG: Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #250 – Jesse, Tamahome, J.J. Campanella, and Marissa van Uden discuss Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith.

Talked about on today’s show:
Cordwainer Smith’s first story, Fantasy Book, Frederik Pohl, roughness but with power, space is not for humans, A Game Of Rat And Dragon, a cool cat story, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, a bit romantic with a cat, cyborgs, habermans, cranching, Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith), was that a Mandarin fingernail?, Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, a specialist in propaganda, the spacers union, On The Waterfront, merchant marine (but super respected), all scanners are habermans but not all habermans are scanners, pork chops have gone extinct, The Instrumentality Of Makind series is set between 2000-8000 A.D. (with Scanners Live In Vain at 6000 A.D.), a rocketry problem, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Call Me Joe, the first post-singularity story, what will it be like when I have Google installed in every part of my body, chest box and instruments, Steve Austin, there’s something symbolic going on, the TV Tropes entry is like a cynical version of the Wikipedia entry, Adam Stone, half-Chinese, somebody from the South, Nazis, anti-Semitic feeling, J.J. Pierce, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, can’t taste, can’t smell, can’t feel, can’t hear, practicing facial expressions, a U.N. of spacers, The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey, romantic not symbolic, Mr. Spaceship by Philip K. Dick, habermans vs. scanners, the dregs of society, no computers in the future, whatever the instrumentality is, Martel’s wife is very patient, honor, China, eunuchs, samurai means to server, ronin, a very Asian story, Game Of Thrones, respect not money, an alienness of outlook, love, duty, and humanity = I surrender, 20th century Asian history, reading Scanners Live In Vain as an editor, the opening and the ending, a cynical ending, a little injection of Philip K. Dick, The Electric Ant by Philip K. Dick, the graphic novel version, Martel as Edward Snowden, the NSA as the scanners, Fight Club, Alfred Bester, what’s the “the up and out”?, they have Etch A Sketches, the unforgiven, the “great pain of space”, Think Blue, Count Two, sleeper ships, an organic computer, Philip K. Dick’s question was ‘how do I know what’s real?’, “the First Effect”, reading authors, “writing is telepathy” (Stephen King, On Writing), a weird heightened operatic style, a mythical style?, “here’s to the habermans up and out”, a schizoid class, text message style, you don’t want or need an electronic teapot, brown betty, a bot-net in the refrigerator, my tootbrush is communicating with me!, firefly toothbrushes, a useful trap, when the technology enters your body, ice-cream.

Scanners Live In Vain by Cordwainer Smith

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Nazi Eyes On Canada Produced by J. Frank Willis

Nazi Eyes on CanadaNazi Eyes On Canada
Produced by J. Frank Willis; Performed by a FULL CAST
2 Cassettes – Approx 2 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Scenario Productions
Published: 2000
ISBN: 1894003136
Themes: / Science Fiction / Alternate History / World War II / Propaganda /

1942. From the West, from the East, the war draws near to Canadian shores. Canada is saying goodbye to her sons who are off to serve in all parts of the world. Taxes, the restrictions on unessential services, and the re-allocation of man power bring the war into the life of every Canadian. But Canadians are still living in relative luxury, and they still hold fast to the greatest of blessings – freedom. “Nazi Eyes on Canada” shows how all this would have changed in the Nazi lust for power on the North American continent had been fulfilled.

Nazi Eyes On Canada was a dramatized radio series produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Radio) during Canada’s fourth year in World War II. Its purpose was not so much to entertain as to sell war bonds, the rationale being ‘if you buy war bonds you’ll prevent the Axis powers from winning the war as depicted in these dramatizations’. The series was inspired by a German publication (contemporary to the time) written by a Nazi spy who used the alias “Colin Ross”. Ross traveled throughout Canada in the 1930s assessing the military and industrial capacity of Canada for a Nazi think tank. The purpose was to investigate first-hand the strategic requirements for an eventual North American invasion. Based on Ross’ reports, Nazi Eyes On Canada depicts exactly what such a Nazi occupation by the Third Reich would mean for the average Canadian. Broadcast over five weeks, each week looked at a particular province under the heel of the fascist jackboot: Episode 1: Ontario, Episode 2: Alberta, Episode 3: New Brunswick, Episode 4: British Columbia and Episode 5: Saskatchewan. Scenario Productions has also included a speech by then Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King which serves as an introduction to the series.

This is one of the most unusual radio drama series I’ve ever heard. It puts big Hollywood stars, CBC staffers, and regular citizens together for each episode. CBC announcer Lorne Greene works with the likes of Helen Hayes, Quentin Reynolds, Vincent Price and Orson Welles! One factoid not mentioned in the liner notes of Scenario Productions’ two cassette version is that Orson Welles showed up late to the live broadcast of episode five. Welles had been at the rehearsal but at airtime he was nowhere to be found, so producer J. Frank Willis had to imitate Welles until he showed up during the third scene – something to listen for.

I found the series on the whole deeply disturbing. It was effectively scary and fascinating at the same time. But I have many reservations about it. Nazi Eyes On Canada is poorly written, jingoistic and commercial. The real life Canadian citizens (who get tell us their responses to the dramatization of their lives under Nazi occupation) read their lines woodenly. Much repetition is made with regards to the source material – to be expected I guess as they were originally broadcast a week apart. But the worst part of the experience was the blatant racism displayed during Episode 4. That episode is set in Vancouver, which in Colin Ross’ book would be given to Germany’s Axis ally the Empire of Japan, along with all lands west of the rocky mountains. So during Episode 4 we are invited to visit Vancouver under Imperial Japanese occupation. Unlike the Nazis who though are portrayed as thoroughly evil, the Japanese are painted evil by nature and are implied to be ‘a deceptive yellow race’. Such racist filth absolutely disgusted me.

But it wasn’t just this broadcast. During the time of the live airing of Nazi Eyes On Canada in 1942, widespread anti-Japanese sentiment in British Columbia led to internment of all Japanese males between the ages of 14 and 45. In 1942 Canada set up eight internment camps in the interior of British Columbia where over a nine month period 22,000 innocent Canadian Japanese were locked up for racist reasons. Make no mistake; it was racism pure and undiluted. German Canadians were not subjected to the same treatment.

So what exactly makes this science fiction?

Well for one thing Philip K. Dick’s excellent The Man in the High Castle uses the exact same premise and if that isn’t science fiction my name is J.R.R. Tolkien. The projection into the future as depicted in Nazi Eyes On Canada is an earmark of SF too. But most importantly this vintage radio drama series does what the greatest works of science fiction do; preventing the future. It’s a good thing so many Canadians bought war bonds, because expansionist fascism was defeated in no small part because of it. It is just too bad we didn’t have more science fiction dealing with racism before the Second World War. Science fiction isn’t a cure-all, but it is the vaccination against future horrors we can foresee. But you have to hear its message to be protected.

So keep listening and never forget.

Posted by Jesse Willis