The SFFaudio Podcast #447 – READALONG: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #447 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Talked about on today’s show:
1974, if everybody in the modern era writes like him…, depth beyond the good writing and the ideas, what does it MEAN?!, a straightforward 1970s novel, ever further into the future, future-shock, war, Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary series, accelerated time, mid-2016 and now, WHAT the bleep has HAPPENED?, clown show, a politically traumatic time, 1967-1968, 1968-1969, Paul is my senior, draft dodgers taught Jesse, “not my president, hashtag”, leaving the USA for Canada, they stayed, making a peep, the elites (or quasi-elites) might have to go, the real plutocrats always found a way out, Jimmy Carter, McCain, John Kerry, that trick still works, the Russia thing, collusion, what skills does he bring to the table?, the John Podesta emails, Bill and Hill Clinton, flipped the script, they swift-boated him, a perennial technique, bringing it back to the book, all weird, another tour, all word, Earth is a dystopia, Earth became Texas, the first section, training on Charon, power-armor, technology, silly and weird predictions, Mogadishu, Somalia, the farm, lawless Horn of Africa, the center cannot hold, ever expanding military, no health-care for the mom, death-panel, trying to figure out what’s going on in the mind of the author, an analogy, this is why people sign back up (go on another tour), going back and forth, the big takeaway, oh, my mom’s gay, everybody’s gay!, everybody’s multi-racial now and I’m the queer, that’s interesting, now everybody is a clone, a hyperbolized version of the political changes, Cassius Clay -> Muhammad Ali (and great) -> now he’s a war-resister, the kind of military SF, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Armor by John Steakley, Old Man’s War, ooh it’s a twist (he’s not even white!), the movie adaptation of Starship Troopers, doing something slightly different, following forward, Jesse’s a big fan of the montage, tedium mixed with fear and shock, the military-industrial complex, romance novels for men, a focus on the specs of the pistols, the serial numbers on their special hand-grips, what gets them going in the night, he did a lot of math, gravity curves, MIT, political stripes, the legalization of cannabis, the acceptance of homosexuality, having latent feelings, a little looser, among those artist types, he’s the “old queer”, a funny twitter conversation: what’s really lacking today…, VHS vs DVD, we’ve become more prudish, conservative marketing, “no, we’ve lost context”, sexist!, homophobe!, “a latent heterosexual”, whenever you put a pressure on a large group of people results happen, everybody in our society is gay now, isn’t that interesting, look at the way we’re living now, the lack of context rule, when Potter converts to heterosexuality…, he’s not trying to target the audience of today, Heinlein was a weird guy, the way he obliquely attacks problems, no qualms about this book, an asexual cyborg, Forever Free, Forever Peace is excellent (Paul doesn’t like it), all about drone warfare, more artificial, The Accidental Time Machine, funny and delightful, Haldeman on Prisoners Of Gravity, he won everything (it was political), overwhelming, a thoughtful and reasonable guy, four serials of this book, Analog, Hero, “Screw you, sir!” -> “Fuck you, sir!”, Robert A. Heinlein’s naval service, a deep respect for the military, a hippie planet called “Middle Finger”, it starts with a “fuck you” and ends with a “Middle Finger”, Mandela’s psychological profile, leading from a position of empathy and ideas (instead of will), how the Marxist soldier during the Spanish Civil War would do business, ambiguous (ambivalent) feelings, Mike Vendetti, not something you take lightly, his emotions in his tweets, he’s got mixed feelings, a big mistake!, this war didn’t need to happen, ultimately the lesson, “support our troops”, taking a knee, a conflation with honouring the military, into the arms of the other f-word (fascism), a very nice point, politicians manipulating the people is nothing new, actual journalism with a critical eye, both Gulf Wars, “embedded with the troops”, stories in a patriotic light, propaganda, still happening today, Brian Williams’ ‘beauty of our missiles’, this book misses, told tightly from Mandella’s POV, the veterans are toured around the world, the comic book adaptation of The Forever War by Marvano (artist), Gay Haldeman (translation) and Joe Haldeman (script), Titan Comics, he stacked the deck, a counter-pole, there’s nothing here, the serialization, We Are Very Happy Here, necessary for serialization, a plot contrivance, 84-year old moms, joining the army for financial reasons, Marygay’s mother and father, true for the people of Somalia, pirates don’t do piracy for the sea-shanties, manipulated for our benefit, in the tradition of Starship Troopers (and not in the tradition), Heinlein’s generation vs. Haldeman’s generation, war with aliens, we become the alien, “you don’t understand politics”, why veteran are the only people are allowed to vote, politics of the era of Nixon vs. the politics of the era of Roosevelt, a “take that”, there was a revolt of veterans on earth at one point, the Bonus Army, the Revolutions Podcast, support our troops is a whip, the American support of the French in Vietnam, depending on how you calculate, a sunk cost fallacy, JFK needed to keep the war going past the next election, we can only badly infer it, what Jesse appreciated about Ender’s Game, a wish-fulfillment avatar for 13 year old boys, a lot of time in the online forums, reading a really deep reddit post, why that book is powerful, and here’s what’s missing, the general is a child, it kind of explains the real life generals, Netflix’s thinly veiled McCrystal biopic, there’s no job to be finished, there are no victory conditions, a frameworks for continuous unending war, without a draft it is an endlessly churning meat-grinder, a constant war economy, the government is being fleeced of its coffers by war profiteers, why is my standard of living falling?, pointing out the unfair, labeling it is not the solution, the Las Vegas shooting, “this is an act of domestic terrorism!”, we’re going to calm things down, slave revolts are not terrorism, labels are not the issue, the guns and the access to them are a bigger issue, people get caught up on the words and identity politics, sidestepping racism, sexual norms, a made-up name, he dodged the question, the charge of racism, google n-gram, nobody got suddenly racist, when they do the movie, Channing Tatum, they made a decision, socioeconomic status, a person’s story, the Ender’s Game movie, Johnny Rico is Filipino from South America, Ensign Kim is Scandinavian!, is it a weakness that the novel doesn’t explore racism?, a beautiful time capsule, Mandella’s psychology, Doctor Potter: I’m not prejudiced, the soldiers he was fighting beside were all his team and the fear of the enemy was more important than the colour of the skin of the soldier in the fox-hole with him, a media construction, real human beings, outside your bubble and your fears, deep deep resentment, prejudices of all kind, lived experience, ameliorating intolerance, a chance to grow and understand, an overoptimistic story?, a combat team, it treats racism as settled, let’s deal with homosexuality, Heinlein on homosexuality, a greater representation of gender-queer characters (male vs. female), painful and uncomforting, seeing the flaws within yourself, he’s a dude telling his own story, Diana, Margay gets her own standalone story, Spider Robinson, many changes, an excised fourth part, people read science fiction the wrong way, dangerous territory, Jesse you should read this this and this, this is a story of a dude like this…, reading off in my own direction, books written before I was born, reading the books written by the readers of recent books, unlike other genres (with the exceptions of mystery and crime), science fiction is a series of conversations between stories, your going to be missing a large part of the story, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, I Will Fear No Evil, gay characters in a story is passe, I don’t read the stories for the characters at all, reading it for the societies, reading it for the science, I want to see my values reflected, the battle on that last planet, where’s the rest of the story, why people read science fiction (other than to see their values relfected), world-building, effusive for Ringworld, literal world-building, reading to see representation, an era of character based, having not seen themselves they want to see themselves reflected, a sense of wonder, Paul Atreides is someone Paul could sink into, a white male protagonist, they’re not the classic, how cool the other stuff in that book is, why am I having a whispered conversation with this weird lady in my bedroom, kids never pay attention to the author until you graduate from that, cover artists, aha!, this other thing: the author, this Miguel Ferrer is the actor (not the writer), Tom Cruise movies have no writers, the French focus on the film director, it’s not the characters to me, what makes science fiction so different, soft science fiction, looking at trends and forces, here’s a society with a guaranteed annual income, he’s probably male, that Mack Reynolds novel stands out because it is representing me, the scarcity of jobs is important, world-building enough to spend, there’s no one true way to read science fiction, to misquote Rudyard Kipling, alien planets, we get to see Heaven (a paradise planet), we get to see life on a little planet in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, a deep dive into William Mandella, academic to grunt, what a soldier’s life is like, waiting in a time, a lover or a nurse, reading for the Marygay-William relationship, the Church of Science Fiction, if you read it for the romance you’re going to be disappointed, a Heinleinian bit, looking it as a modern book, are there books still to be written in this conversation?, how Jesse would film the novel, people don’t just live happily ever after, H.E.A. (a romance term), Jonathan and Gary of the Coode Street podcast, how you want to slice it, Linda Nagata’s The Last Good Man, the “Red” series, in this particular thread, digitizing The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, Le Guin doing Philip K. Dick, a great appreciator of PKD’s writing, she’s trying to have a conversation with Philip K. Dick, the Lovecraft conversation is so loud and churning, fulminating, denouncers, he’s now at max volume, how many sequels to Innsmouth, Ben Bova, a legacy of Analog and Astounding, John W. Campbell seemed to interfere, a pretty stupid man in many respects, the telepathic (psionics), add some bullshit element and you’ll get a sale, nobody writes those (psionics) books anymore, Julian May’s intervention novels, The Many Colored Land, August Derleth, not only a bad writer (a bad person), show me an alien that thinks as well as a man but not like a man, nicely reflected in what happens to the humans, you poor deluded human, Murray Leinster, A Martian Odyssey Stanley G. Weinbaum, an important story, H.G. Wells, I’ve got these great ideas and this piece of paper, thinking through the ideas, tell a story based on that world, what makes Dune so great, a gender-swapped version of Dune, monks instead of nuns, set on a waterworld?, this book has something for everybody.

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

End Game by Joe Haldeman - illustration by Vincent Di Fate - Analog, January 1975

End Game by Joe Haldeman - illustration by Vincent Di Fate - Analog, January 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

Titan Comics - The Forever War - Issue 5

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #406 – READALONG: Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #406 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa talk about Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
if this book is anything to go by, personal drama, bottom quarter, pre-A Maze Of Death book, protagonist, world dictator, his woman for a girl, an Earth dictator, a real Trump, aliens, prohibition of alcohol, easy access to drugs, a throwback, the ending, Jesse really liked this book, a Philip K. Dick book, a tire re-groover, illegal and immoral, The Man In The High Castle, ersatz carving of reality, fun themes, so emotional, more emotionally interesting, for poignancy, so good at feeling things, such a loser, the age of consent in Canada, everything in this book actually happened, subtle, the wife and son are literary abandoned, the details of the world, the Philip K. Dick fans page, the what is reality is missing, quotidian, debating philosophy, the PKDS issue 19, Frolix 5 9, prolix, frolicking, The Three Body Problem, are you ready for the alien invasion yet?, people have awakened,

Outline for science fiction novel called: OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 5 8

Theme: Earth is invaded by aliens whom the great majority of people welcome.

Locus of action: Earth in 2190

Situation: Within the last century two new types of human beings have arisen as sport-mutations desired and preserved until by 2085 they fill the top levels of business organizations — and, in the planet-wide federal government, all persons who pass the Civil Service tests must be either a New Man or an Unusual.

The New Men possess magnified cerebral cortexes, the so-called Nodes of Rogers. Their I.Q. is twice that of a brilliant Old Man — as the unevolved are called. (Most people are Old Men, so this makes the New Men an elite — along with the Unusuals.)

The Unusuals are mutants who have freak abilities; i.e. all the familiar psionic gifts having to do with reading minds, knowing the future, moving objects at a distance, etc. They, too, can pass the Civil Service tests and obtain G ratings. And hence rule, along with the New Men.

Neither group likes the other very much. In particular, the New Men look down on the Unusuals as being merely odd.

The highest official on Earth is the Council Chairman of the Extraordinary Committee For Public Safety. He, too, must hold a Civil Service rating. This office, over the years, has passed back and forth between New Men and Unusuals. At this moment the council Chairman is an Unusual named Willis Gramm.

In addition one further group exists. An illegal organization by Old Men calling themselves — not Old Men — but Under Men. There is no way they can rule legally, but at least they can fight. But up to now they have done nothing but print tracts and hang up lurid posters in the dead of night.

Their paralysis is understandable; they are waiting for their hope, their saviour. Led by their pro tem spokesman, Eric Cordon, who is in prison, they are standing firm until the day that Thors Provoni returns from the distant star-system which he is visiting. “Provoni will come back with help,” the Under Men say, but, as they wait, the police (the PSS: Public Security Service) get them one by one; the police have successfully infiltrated the ranks of the Under Men and are destroying them from within.

Plot: The novel opens in on Bobby and his father Nick Appleton. Along the crowded sidewalk, at a snail’s pace, they are making — or trying to make — their way to the Federal Bureau of Personnel Standards; there, Bobby (who is twelve) will try to score highly enough on his first Civil Service test to give the Appleton family some hope for the future… since Nick himself has never been able to obtain even a G-one rating, the lowest there is.

coming to you soon Paul, Democrats and Republicans, untermenschen, slidewalk, this is a true story, autism, he’s obsessed with it, he literally has no skills, he’s a super-genius, a brilliant genius and completely unemployable, people look down on him, you write that dreck?, full of pathos, a knife to help me have confidence, we’re going to flunk him, a weird dystopia, a nationalist sounding speech, I showed him, I’m going to show everyone, so timely, “God is dead. They found His carcass in 2019, floating out in space near Alpha [Centauri]”, Towing Jehovah by James K. Morrow, that Philip K. Dick move, that doesn’t prove it was God, we don’t have his wallet, God at the end, a statuette of God, their prophets, this it was it means…, all the possible interpretations, my arm’s broken, shake your head and give him a hug, if someone else wrote this book, not as polished, that Dick sensibility, better than reading a non-Philip K. Dick book from 1970, the New Wave, big novels of the ’70s, the gears of Science Fiction, Lord Of Light by Roger Zelazny, recommending this book, moments, a whole sequence, the turning point of the novel, Philip K. Dick has to go find a new drug dealer, passive vs. active, complimented by a sixteen year-old, boobs, taking her home to the wife and son, she’s an underman, the drug dealers in this book are selling The Communist Manifesto, carve ’em deeper, taking pride in the art of tire re-grooving, a radio, ghetto blasters, the Edward Snowden equivalent, deep down he likes his boss, super-anti-racist, we seen that figure before, share a beer with me, get a new wife, alcohol, Nick Podehl, Trump with psionics, A/B testing, social intelligence, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe by Douglas Adams, the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer, the squib (air car), the Morbid Chicken, the Gray Dinosaur, the Purple Sea-cow, is that what literally happened?, give it up dude, 50mph or 70 or 120, autopilot (self-driving car), no sentient machines, an automatic door, the appliances don’t talk in this world, tire retreads, the funny thing about this world, inverted, psychotic violence, the alcoholic version of Reefer Madness, drug taking, a scene in The Man Who Japed, kicking dirt, Hokkaido, 25 year old scotch, a beer, the effects last for so long, books are illegal, people abusing books, a drug scene with tracts, Jack Chick Chick Tracts, anarchists, you haven’t got addicted yet, you care about me as a person?, don’t you ever touch me without my permission, precious, amazing little bits, men just want to take little helpless animals and girls in, lost cats and kittens and girls, she sees you as a money making machine, don’t wreck my machine by drinking, a core of truth, if you depend on someone for your income…, 1960s women, a policewoman with her gender taking away, uniforms, Dick: ‘you can barely see her boobs’, ‘her personality’s changed too!’, Psychology of Clothes, my Jesse uniform, why are you dressed like that?, Richard Dawkins’ socks, unmatched socks, a tyranny of socks, shoes have chirality but socks don’t, under the thumb of big sock, the psychology of appearance, unshaven and unclean, a space alien, have a bath (hints the space alien), Jonah inside the whale, another space saviour, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, laser energy, a Christian allegory, The Day The Earth Stood Still, a man who isn’t a man and his robot Gort, underrated?, expectation, no one talks about it, not terrible, the neat little nod to The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, the premise, malignant vs. friendly aliens, make the new men froclick in the play room, having to live in camps, camps vs. camps, Ild (the eyeless) is the Mike Pence of this world, the “great ear” is the NSA, listening to everybody’s thoughts, “we can put people into camps. relocation camps”, we’re going to use these things for good, prepping for the new dystopia, the fake news radio and television in this book, well known for his crimes against the people, Cordon, commutation, execution, Chelsea Manning’s last minute clemency, Julian Assange stuck in that embassy, 2019, how timely this book is, totally surprising, motives for joining political parties, personal motives, the 1%, fated to be a tire regroover, no social movement, the “new math”, symbolic logic, the elaborate theory is completely wrong, string theory, it’s all coming together, just a little more investment/research money, scammers, that’s what exams are, I can write an exam that only I can pass, way back in history, Diff’rent Strokes, test what you want them to test, IQ tests have gone out of fashion, Philip K. Dick is super smart, a deep thinker, thinking the wrong way, a divergent thinker, Jesse’s job, provincial exams, which of these is more correct, the question was badly formed, double think, Marissa’s editing work, how to interpret, editing is about what figuring out what a reader is taking from a scene, writing narrative non-fiction, do more dialogue, we’re inside the character’s mind, no work for the reader to do makes it long and boring, very subtle, what makes a person think a book is good, a high art for author an editor, pg 165, “that melted his heart”, the Dionysian face, a poem by Yeats, an alliforget sweater, I should just spray myself with paint, was he before Bob Dylan, set 200 years in the future, a Nobel Prize laureate, poetry started with Dylan and has declined since, chamber music, he rolled himself on to her, I’m not a woman, what?!, wow!, it’s statutory rape he told her presently, the end of the world has come, PiSSers, their occifers not officers, to ossify is to turn to bone, the black shirts, keeping the undermen down, witness it he echoed, Central Park, those lines are from his life, he withdrew from her, look Nick, you keep having sex with me and I’ll let you read that poem, you’re hurting me, they’ve been having sex!, surprising sex scenes you didn’t know were sex scenes in Philip K. Dick books, Provoni came from up there, I’m so glad I’m not an American right now, lobotomized, The Cosmic Surgeon From A Distant Star (an alternative title),

I must be gone: there is a grave
Where daffodil and lily wave,
And I would please the hapless faun,
Buried under the sleepy ground,
With mirthful songs before the dawn.
His shouting days with mirth were crowned;
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
Walking ghostly in the dew,
Pierced by my glad singing through,

The Happy Shepherd by William Butler Yeats, very very Greek, Chronos, a gay poem, fawns are male, her grave, the second to last scene, a world with a black sun, asking his autistic son for a drawing, what does this mean?, he’s a prophet, the black shirts, baffling stories, The Crystal Crypt by Philip K. Dick, SS (Schutzstaffel), three saboteurs, the Chelsea Manning sort of character, political prisoners, like an airplane, a snowglobe, a terrible science fiction story, a reducing ray, Dick cannot get the idea of the SS out of his mind, a powerful image, newsreels, chapter 24, a hydrogen truck, he can’t feel his body, is that the light of a police officer shining in my eyes?, he sees her brain, brutal, surprising, sudden, he gives he cop a fake name and then starts running, let me take you to the hospital, you’re not going to arrest me?, the evil behind the throne, a pathetic scene, being kindly treated by a bunch of SS-guys, a brilliant monster that can’t be monstrous anymore, Philip K. Dick is so willing to have his mind changed about things, it’s amazing!, little arcs, I don’t know anybody else who is like that, the car chase, polished writing, a mad driver, drawing from his life, a little longer, only 189 pages, expanded, an Ace paperback, back to the pulp roots, Jesse really liked this book, not a bad Science Fiction story, recommended to Dick fans, unspool his mind, paint your flying car purple, teenagers hanging out, users, abusers, losers, young people looking up to him, why he is that way to this girl, why she is admirable to him, if Philip K. Dick were alive now…, during his lifetime, wow this guy is awesome, most people in his lifetime, in reading all his novels, give one of those great Philip K. Dicky responses, hidden genius, what he gets out of that relationship, that lack of confidence, if you’re married to a famous person, everybody needs a little bit of reassurance now and then, Don Wollheim, oh yeah sure!, appreciated for what he’s doing, and here’s some money, you can see it in his writing, rolling the eyes is the end, you’re amazing!, he needed that, wanting to spend time with him,

Great news. Although I am a little late, I have finished the novel, OUR FRIENDS FROM FROLIX 8, which, as you will recall, I am under contract for (sometime last month it was due). All I need do now is simply type up the final draft; there will be no further revision, that having already been done.

The novel runs longer than my others. They all came out at about 215 typescript pages; this comes out to 268, which I would estimate as between 70,000 and 80,000 words. I hope that the length is satisfactory to you; i.e. the contract called for 70,000, rather than the usual 60,000, so I assumed you wanted a longer novel; hence this length, which was most carefully planned on my part; it didn’t just happen that way.

Not since EYE IN THE SKY have I so much enjoyed working on a novel. Usually I get up at noon; while writing this I got up at seven a.m. and tottered my way to the typewriter, my mind filled with dialog. There is nothing about reality-versus-illusion in it, no hallucinations, etc. I did depart from the latter part of the outline, but the book remains as the outline described it; I think it is fair to say that it is true to the outline.

Please write me and let me know if the length is okay. But I really don’t want to trim it; I would appreciate it very, very much if you let me leave it at its present length. Okay?

and then:

I have been stewing and fretting about completing the final copy of OUR FRIENDS. First, when I began typing the final version, I discovered that I had to change some of the material. Then I came down with Hong Kong flu, with complications. And as the coup de grace, my Olympia typewriter broke down and had to go to the shop for repairs {…} typing 80,000 words on this damn {loaner} thing is next to impossible (it’s a 1941 Royal). I have to have my own machine, and when I get it back I’ll resume the typing of the final draft (which I had gotten well into before the troubles began). I am very sorry and I know the novel is overdue, but the revisions have been made {…}

the only novel he completed in 1969, June 1970, personal troubles, its all in the book, a very long memoir, memoir by way of Science Fiction, no-one writes book like this, taking elements, the crazy cars, the crazy boss, a good book.

Ace Books - Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Jesse

Chris Moore illustration of Our Friends From Frolix 8 by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis