The SFFaudio Podcast #549 – READALONG: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #549 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Talked about on today’s show:
a question on Twitter, Julie, how it even got on the schedule, A Good Story Is Hard To Find (110), June 2015, Mark Woodword, how we’ve never heard of this book, Julie’s mom, very weird, a near masterpiece of Science Fiction, Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell To Earth, David Bowie, not about music, Queen’s Gambit, The Hustler, The Color Of Money, one PDF on the PDF Page, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism, post apocalyptic, a post-capitalist society, a post-scarcity society, a downer, a slow slow slide into the long dark night, uplifting (also), the state of humanity, they way he reveres reading, enjoy an omelette, re-watching Star Trek, the Animated Series, The Next Generation, it gets better, Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Yang, take away all goals, stripping us of our humanity, drugs, hippies, an anti-marijuana book, a critique of the hippies, silent movies, a world you didn’t know, when this old man dies, a different view, Spoforth, pensioning off Paul, reading is not valued, Paul teaches Mary how to read, looking for pornography, he was teaching pornography and mindfulness, a savage critique, who’s the mockingbird?, he wants to know what’s going on, genuine examples of humanity, Julie is being so mean to Paul, Paul in the book, Bentley, spaw-forth or spoof-forth (and multiply), struck to the heart, revealed as the villain, he’s not even sure it’ll work, kill humanity to kill ones’ self, kinda dark, sympathetic, did he intend to kill the child right from the start?, detector, a lot of twists, no diary, a hard shift, switches to Mary Lou, I don’t like this book anymore, not who I imagined her to be, love as a projection, maybe she was blind to herself, or emotionally repressed, when he gets thrown in prison, hanging out with the baleens, a horror novel, shifting around, an impressive world, standard mainstream good writing, built up this whole world, premises are revealed to us, is he a bad guy, an abortionist, destroy humanity, he didn’t invent the system, he’s cursed with an inability to die, massive, a total dystopia, Brave New World‘s children, Huxley was optimistic, self immolation, political protest, a political act, a religious act, a sacrifice, people can’t string ideas together, going to the same cafe, they’re singing, what is the motivation, psychology, Annabelle, SEARS as a church, A Boy And His Dog (1975), a revelation, different genres, my pet Biff, New York City, the Adam and Eve theme, story is how we find truth, books get us in touch with other minds, what a masterpiece, have you got to the monkey bacon yet?, bacon for monkeys?, clever ideas going on, a lot of biblical stuff, this is Jonah, he’s vomited out, the thought buses are like the friends in Job, they’re something else, that thought wasn’t finished, the true inhabitants of the city, a line relevant to our times, cars were promulgated by a cabal of oil manufacturers, dealing with the consequences of a world we never made, a mass transportation system, look very deeply back at old stuff at the time, reading TV Guide from 1980, it’s fascinating, yo, a good magazine about the technology of TV, what television will be like in 1990, they kinda nailed it, gay behavior will be more popular, the trends we see here, the 1980 Olympics in Russia, the invasion of Afghanistan, anyone who would invade Afghanistan is obviously a monster, the fossils of a previous generation, A Streetcar Named Desire, streetcars around the world, one more reason to go to Nice (France), I say that in Jes(t), she picks a fruit, its artificial, what they’re being taught in school, quick sex is best, it comes from the same place, reconstructed all the greatness in science fiction, a mainstream book with a deeply science fiction world behind it, the zoo is all fake, even the children are fake, the Adam and Eve thing, when he comes back to Marylou, Jesus!, Mary, the notion of felix culpa (the fortunate fall), remembering her action, he explicitly remembers, it isn’t going to be as bad as you think, thank you Terence, so loaded, Spoforth is a good carpenter, the poem from T.S. Eliot, the songful simian, a Christ figure, the little sparrow, like the end of Blade Runner when Roy Batty dies, the same problem in the other direction, a sort of love, joy, compassion, influenced?, a lot of Philip K. Dick elements, artificial emotions, the symmetry trick that works every time, it’s beautiful, an act of mercy and love, the poor guy, condemned to Hell on Earth, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, I Am, keep sliding towards oblivion, actively seeking death, the mercy that he wants the mercy he’s trying to give humanity, the behavior of humans is not good, an Arthur C. Clarke vibe, The City And The Stars, that world is perfectly broken, the only thing you can do is appreciate the abstract, blotchy moving colour shapes and sounds, no more music, the heart and the center of the book, the robot toaster factory, a whole novel, a mindless parody of productivity, those grey uniformed sub-morons that all look like Peter Lorre, and then he fixed them, suddenly people are getting toasters again, the warmth and the light (a preview), its a rebirth, what happened in real-life that you didn’t see on twitter, looking for stuff on Netflix, Year One (2009), cave man comedies, fur bikinis, One Million B.C. (1940), science fiction stories, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling, The Wonderstick by Stanton A. Coblentz, the wonder of the wheel the wonder of the stick, a retelling of the bible, Harold Ramis plays Adam, David Cross is Kane as Paul Rudd is Abel, that tree of knowledge, only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods, that’s really powerful, all the characters, Simon, the alternative father for Marylou, why she’s so different, monstrous and straight out of Brave New World, we recognize all this biblical stuff, you get both, there’s gotta be something out there, an The Brick interview with Walter Tevis, it felt very Lawrence Block-y, “Mockingbird’s about coming out of alcoholism.”, “But I don’t do any outlin­ing. I don’t do any researching. I was tempted while writing Mockingbird to start watching silent movies, you know, and see if I could pick some interesting stuff to use, and I realized that would’ve been just a dodge to avoid the type­writer. So I never research anything.”

LD: You paint a pretty bleak picture in terms of lit­eracy in Mockingbird.

WT: It comes from twenty-five years of being an English teacher.

RW: Do you see a decline in literacy? I do, but do you?

WT: Oh, you hear about it a lot. Yes, I’ve seen it a bit, but my private experience as an English teacher has been that Americans don’t read books. They didn’t read books in 1949 when I started teaching. They don’t read books now Television did make a difference. It deepened the slack of the slackjaws and gave another great quantity of garbage for people to fill their lives with. But, you know, there was other garbage around before television. Mockingbird does sometimes, I think, weaken into an attack solely on television and on the modern world, and “weaken” I say because I’m not completely convinced of all those things that I say. But what I am convinced of is that it is very bad for people to find substitutes for living their lives, and that’s what I hope I do say, and say well, from time to time in the book.

reading is the tool that opened up his mind and taught him how to think, a photograph of notes to the editor, the surprise that she’s going to narrate, destructive to our view of his wonderful relationship, she came to appreciate him, he forgot her too, what they had wasn’t super-deep, she was Dante’s Beatrice, Edward Hopper, there’s no door in Nighthawks, alone together, some lady sitting on a bed looking out a window, beautifully painted, what makes us care about his paintings is the emotions in these characters, the emotions that make Hopper’s paintings so powerful, a criticism of the kind of television being shown in the book, stimulating arrangements of color form and design, the psychedelic, Tevis’ take on Hopper’s quote, yeah exactly, four things you can get from films (books), manipulating one’s mental states, a means of learning something about the past, why memory is not enough, sympathizing with other people from other times, knowing about other people’s feelings you discover your own feelings, he captures that experience, jokes from 200 years ago, a line that crystallizes something you’ve always known but never seen before, before Plato, the only book he never reads is Gone With The Wind, See Spot Run, the alphabet is arbitrarily ordered, this is science fiction, the scene in Frankenstein where the creature learns how to read and speak, Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, his creation book (Frankenstein’s lab notes), this is a Frankenstein-fixed story, the creation of the world, how to service robots and thought-buses, a masterpiece, nature is always pulled in, puzzling over how to fix the thought-bus, a large dramatic spiderweb, the moon, made of pure light, the elaboration and power of life that could make such a design, this makes me feel something, Julie’s favourite Psalm is Psalm 19, so mysterious, the way you hold that cup, so much bigger, the human experience, he wrote it for us, the earlier scene with the spiderweb, the court is a plastic building, you go clean the judge’s face, yellow powder, they all have the same look on their face, the system turns on and gears up, other prisoners, the prison sequence, I didn’t see this coming, Belasco, tattoos, Queequeg!, rule breakers, paintings of trees and birds, have a fire on the beach, as free as people in that world can be, a temptation to stay there?, the escape itself, a community of people to help him toughen up, the beginning of his journey, The Handmaid’s Tale. reading is powerful, the way we got there, our own fucking laziness, go along get along, rage rage rage against the machine, read a fucking book, you’ll like it it’s good, not just shore-dinners, a so coddled society, memorizing your life, a kind of writing, a book that feels like its in dialogue with Fahrenheit 451, drop out communities, finding the libraries (it’s treasure!), insistence of family and community, Annabelle becomes his mother, enriched by other communities, great risks to my individuality, the robots who taught me, yup, individualistic, you’re not letting me help anyone, a balance, a really good job of pointing that stuff out, it doesn’t feel like a sermon, super-funny, Buster Keaton, he’s baptized in the mall, the SEARS (catalogue) was a big part of Jesse’s life in 1980, a book of pictures of things, the world in the background economically makes sense, could you game in this world?, a survival game, rebuild society, back to board-games, Scrabble, role-playing games, a very New York thing to do, California, The Last Chase (1981), how the credit card system worked, the pricing, what are they teaching in those classrooms?, yoga and meditation?, sopors, soma, give yourself to the screens, Terence is right!, social media, stream everything, everybody is literate now (to read stop signs and instructions), people who never read anything (maybe a magazine once a year), a super-nice person, what is wrong with you, there are these parallel societies, Anabelle is that representation, part of this is looking at creativity, Spoforth wasn’t creative but he learned, Exhalation Stories: (The Lifecycle Of Software Objects) by Ted Chiang, the whole him trying to find his earlier incarnation, recapture what he had lost from his earlier mind, in the dream, its a baby, just before he dies, the missing peice in the puzzle of his dream, in Westworld for recipe for an intelligent robot is a reverie, the reverie we get from literature, its made him more human, he’s trying trying trying, another element of information, what humanizes him, he felt love, the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen, I love you, still strange, the mockingbird sings from the edge of the woods, Scott Danielson, “Whose woods these are I think I know”, the mockingbird is the creative artist, always in association with creativity, a deepening sadness, more creative than we give him credit for?, the boy’s drawings, it works on multiple levels, the fake, the marginal, mocking, a mockery of a man, the emotions of a man and he can’t connect, this mock level, mockingbird songs, things stung together, Tevis is the mockingbird, there’s this hybridization, a very literary book, To Kill A Mockingbird, it sings its heart out, to deal with race again, is it because you’re a black man, it’s 1978, the most advanced beautiful man ever, he was the pinnacle and they made him a black man, still enslaved, in his dream his feet are white, Typee by Herman Melville, an Anabelle like character, only one person’s working hard all day line, Bentley see this as an injustice, is it an injustice?, her choice, making something of value, cooking is work, its still good to feed the kids (even if they can’t thank you), making the mistake of thinking humans are all one way, objectivism, let’s be greedy together, reading Ayn Rand, is Anthem a rip-off of We, moms being moms, I’m a loner, everybody’s talking to each other all the time, invading privacy is the worst thing, it was the robots that did it, the society happened almost by accident, quite beautiful, we fall into the trap of amusing ourselves to death, John Savage likes pain, they twist it against him, “that’s illegal”, those people are all around us, he had his stash, dumping herself full of Valium, him living in her house, thank your mom for us, how many people heard about it through you through her through this podcast, Marissa would have been here very happily, the Westworld connection, good choice, thank you!

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

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

The SFFaudio Podcast #547 – READALONG: The Angel Of Terror by Edgar Wallace

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #547 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about The Angel Of Terror by Edgar Wallace

Talked about on today’s show:
1922, mean and bad people who all look very pretty, act so sweet, physically beautiful, even the ugly people are distinctive, surprised, Julie has read it three or four times, Terence read it in two sittings, the LibriVox was too slow, he wrote a tonne of books, super-popular, very exciting, you read it as fast as he wrote it, he dictated his writings, he roared through them, Kevin J. Anderson does the same thing, very extensive Wikipedia biography, aha!, he used every part of the buffalo, stuff that happens in his life, he’s the bad guys, they all go to the South of France, he wrote King Kong, the best way to approach him, using themselves, churning out a great adventure, more complete, the angel and the other woman, you can’t like her but you can admire her, she’s so complete, Lydia liked her, Maissa enjoyed it like candy, the author loved her (the angel), so nefarious, Jack O’ Judgement, Batman/Joker character, what genre is this?, suspense, is she going to get away with it?, will she do it, it wasn’t suspenseful, armchair interesting, interesting jumping, that style of writing/thinking, working the plot out on the fly, putting out a novel in three days (with no editing), he’s got magic, breaking it down, funny lines, Terence’s neighborhood, Cannes, Monte Carlo, Nice, San Remo, the true reason they go down there, he has to get rid of his money as quickly as possible, you can’t drink and drug that much, the best way to get rid of money, very exotic, a few sound problems at the beginning of the audiobook, we open with the conclusion of a murder case, how can we get our client off even though he’s been convicted, the lawyers flout the law, family loyalty, they knew she was guilty, she’s his white whale, will you please just take these steps?, falling under the sway of a charismatic personality, unrelenting naivete, Edgar Wallace is the main character, he was working for a newspaper, how many times he got married, there was dictation, To Catch A Thief (1955), a very strange taffy-pull, a reverse Les Misérables, off to North Africa, Edgar Wallace plot wheel, what kind of Edgar Wallace plot you’re in, wheel of blind trails by which the hero is mislead or confused, planted clues, false confession, document forged, go around the room, having those prompts, watching Jean have to improvise, somebody is going to get Lydia, double plans, “oh great, the chauffeur’s in love with me”, when Lydia’s being shot at on the raft, there’s something funny about it, things become more and more far-fetched, A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Jesse’s mom read him a book for Christmas (A Peculiar Curiosity by Melanie Cossey), the reason that book exists as it does, trying to make everything right, he’s much more like Elmore Leonard, I don’t know anything about diving, go find out about that stuff for me, dialogue driven crime sort of stuff, that external research, Civil War reenactors, “farbs” they’re in it for the weekend, it’s just what we do, Alexander Dumas, set in London, John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, less he-man, Wallace was in love with his villain, this malignant disease, forgotten to say her prayers, a broken moral compass, damn!, it’s natural to her, I fear life without money, the cold mutton of yesterday, the people reading these books, she’s a sociopath, deep into his biography, when he joined the army, Edgar Wallace is named after Lew Wallace author of Ben Hur, religious as an undercurrent, the premise is uniquely interesting, her debts are because she’s so moral, some rando stranger somewhere on the internet dies, we’ll marry him off, that hook is so important, ooh hey!, this wide eyed innocent but quite competent lady, can she compromise her moral values and the plot is rolling along, did Jesse doctor the audiobook’s speed?, some sort of weird forced marriage?, by any means necessary, genre expectations, Brewster’s Millions (1985), a false tension, George Barr McCutcheon’s novel Brewster’s Millions, new clothes, new place, she IS a fashion plate,

The novel revolves around Montgomery Brewster, a young man who inherits 1 million dollars from his rich grandfather. Shortly after, a rich uncle who hated Brewster’s grandfather (a long-held grudge stemming from the grandfather’s disapproval of the marriage of Brewster’s parents) also dies. The uncle will leave Brewster 7 million dollars, but only under the condition that he keeps none of the grandfather’s money. Brewster is required to spend every penny of his grandfather’s million within one year, resulting in no assets or property held from the wealth at the end of that time. If Brewster meets these terms, he will gain the full 7 million; if he fails, he remains penniless.

Edgar Wallace’s dream, the house always wins, whatchu gonna do with that money?, the kind of plot premise that starts off this money, she marries a murderer, he’s suicided, she’s an heiress loose on the goose, study with the Italian masters, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), our anti-hero is a “femme fatale”, she cuts the guy’s hand, your handkerchief please, she’s a monster, a very attractive monster, brought to justice?, she hoodwinks one more guy, it’s for the wildlife, you don’t want to hurt a dolphin, she’s met her match, Jesse got the sense the cycle was going to repeat, she meant it, he’s an interesting man, the last line, five million francs, money did not interest her, a sphere of might and power, an intellectual is somebody who has discovered something more interesting than sex, he was likeable, he loves her anyway, simpering, saving Lydia, love was more important, chose something good at the end, fooled by Mr Jags, the train station, he’s gonna follow her, because I have a criminal mind, a wholesome respect for the law, Jack Glover = Jag, who was the angel of terror?, at no moment does she inspire terror, Jag is the Hyde aspect of Jack Glover, the two angels, she conducts terror, she feels terror, Jean might corrupt Lydia, a first class criminal, born 600 years to late, Lucrezia Borgia, Dexter, a do good framework, did Edgar Wallace know Jags was gonna be Jack, the character shift is pretty massive, a very good fellow (illiterate and speaks amazing French), I wouldn’t mind a pipe, a disguise, Julie agrees with Terence, too much weight on the dictation?, a flow of consciousness, increasingly outlandish, he knew and he didn’t know, fiction writing, seeing connections, plots in opposition, a twist that inverts, deliberate, trying to hide identity, Carmilla, Mircalla, an acronym of your own name, a tribute to Edgar Wallace, its hard to tell, this is a job for Superman!, from a writer’s perspective, he was there the whole time, one alternate title: The Destroying Angel, a quote from Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke, maybe both are the angel of terror, disguised, her beauty is her disguise, lookism, I’ll get you my pretties!, the opening of Chapter 2, the writing is “choice”, mmmm yes,

Lydia Beale gathered up the scraps of paper that littered her table, rolled them into a ball and tossed them into the fire.

There was a knock at the door, and she half turned in her chair to meet with a smile her stout landlady who came in carrying a tray on which stood a large cup of tea and two thick and wholesome slices of bread and jam.

“Finished, Miss Beale?” asked the landlady anxiously.

“For the day, yes,” said the girl with a nod, and stood up stretching herself stiffly.

She was slender, a head taller than the dumpy Mrs. Morgan. The dark violet eyes and the delicate spiritual face she owed to her Celtic ancestors, the grace of her movements, no less than the perfect hands that rested on the drawing board, spoke eloquently of breed.

“I’d like to see it, miss, if I may,” said Mrs. Morgan, wiping her hands on her apron in anticipation.

Lydia pulled open a drawer of the table and took out a large sheet of Windsor board. She had completed her pencil sketch and Mrs. Morgan gasped appreciatively. It was a picture of a masked man holding a villainous crowd at bay at the point of a pistol.

“That’s wonderful, miss,” she said in awe. “I suppose those sort of things happen too?”

The girl laughed as she put the drawing away.

“They happen in stories which I illustrate, Mrs. Morgan,” she said dryly. “The real brigands of life come in the shape of lawyers’ clerks with writs and summonses. It’s a relief from those mad fashion plates I draw, anyway. Do you know, Mrs. Morgan, that the sight of a dressmaker’s shop window makes me positively ill!”

at the end of this chapter is a review of this book, Philip K. Dick, the promise of the book:

“Since when has the Daily Megaphone been published in the ghastly suburbs?” asked the other politely.

He saw the girl, and raised his hat.

“Come along, Miss Beale,” he said. “I promise you a more comfortable ride—even if I cannot guarantee that the end will be less startling.”

a nice turn of phrase, Mrs Cole Mortimer was a chirpy pale little woman of forty-something, descriptions of the south of France, my soul has been in a hundred collisions, she had no sense of metaphor, page 52, waiting for the detective to arrive, picturesque dressing gown and no-less picturesque pajamas, to impress, the staging and artifice, hoodwinked all the way through, the ability to surprise while we’re in the know, cotton candy, it’s very old, on LibriVox, Lee Elliott was a good narrator, getting professional about our amateurism, Terence is sounding good, our show, Terence’s sound is terrible, content is king, sometimes narrators have really good taste, Phil Chenevert does tonnes of science fiction, narrating a novel is a huge commitment, “yup I’m doing another one for money, Jesse”, the narrator of Weiland (Karen Joan Kohoutek), Greener Than You Think by Ward Moore, almost like reading a super-old style comic book, this mysterious cloaked and masked character, no one knows who he is, Moon Knight, a minor Marvel character, The Joker, The Riddler, youre almost on the evil guy’s, The Shadow, Orson Welles, a giant prosthetic nose, Wallace didn’t live that long, proto-superhero magazines, the foreshadowing of that, The Spider, Doc Savage (the guy with the big shiny muscles), Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Buckaroo Banzai, failed MCUs (Marvel Cinematic Universes), an aspect like the Watchmen, Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, the evolution, James Bond, superhero-like stories, going in blind, understanding the phenomenon, we couldn’t quit reading, on his writing process, Brian Aldiss, you begin with a striking image, a crazy robot on the moon firing into the void, he probably began with the beautiful evil woman, there is a huge unity to the story, imagistic unity, Jack and Jean’s story, there’s this 1971 movie, nope it’s not that, conventions stuck in the period in which it is set, House, M.D. works much better, differential diagnostics, he’s a consulting doctor, what Arthur Conan Doyle really did, very Agatha Christie territory, to see the actors chewing up the scenery, set it after WWII, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, get some colour, Jean would laugh at Dexter, you’re wasting your talents!, as any flapper would pick up any nut, proto-feminism, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Scarlett Johansson as Jean,

Edgar Wallace plot wheels

Edgar Wallace plot wheel blind trails

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #545 – READALONG: Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #545 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Talked about on today’s show:
cobber, guv’nor, tinhorn, ex-firster, a contemptible person, the Australian etymology, comrade, a revolution book, profound and deep and amazing, not the greatest science fiction novel ever written, no illusions, leg-clining, leg cling is the best part, ridiculous, weirdness, Helen O’Loy, Nerves, shaping the paperback industry, in the mood for something like, dig deep to keep going, 1.2x speed, police yourself, eastern USA accent?, perfectly adapted to the novel, implacable, a bulldozer through the plot, a fast read, a sweet-spot for science fiction novels, the period, what he’s doing, where this book fits in science fiction, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress but on Mars with more Mickey Spillane, more like tar than noir, Julie likes Maissa’s spirit, the same scenario over and over, Groundhog Day, shaking people down and breaking heads, a 15 page short story, Philip St. John was editor of several magazines, praising his own novel in the editorial, defending the novel against critics, fired from Future Publications, juggling everything, editorials, writing short stories and essays for four magazines, writing the novel while publishing it, a three part serial turns into four, people hate the serial, some people love them, he doesn’t really know where its going to end, this is gonna be okay (and then it fell apart), noirish style, the same trick over and over again, cop tinhorn fighter, Mercury mines, a punched mealticket, what the repetition does, not a fan of security, maybe…, Honest Izzy, didn’t pay-off, why did I get dragged through all this?, why you should be excited to buy this magazine, Van Lihn, a convincing picture of a planet, we were enjoying it, super-sloppy, not detail oriented?, its all getting done badly, apologizing, the height of the massive growth of science fiction magazines, as a product of that period, Dickens did that, he knew his prolific output, Elizabeth Gaskell, the motivation of Shelia, putting a gang together, why she attacked Gordon and was crying, in debt, sold as a slave, this is for what you did to Hilda, as a defense mechanism he hid all his soft feelings behind a tough mechanical exterior, a machine devoid of feeling, too much?, the fix-up, taking stuff in and take stuff out, chapter titles, chapter two is missing, police your prose, “Girl Gangs Of Marsport”, John W. Campbell, appreciating Campbell, the Del Rey books, his fourth wife, he’s a fucking liar, Erik Van Lihn, his Wikipedia entry, a professional liar, the closing editorial, “but it could happen”, happy to see it’s end, a darn fine yarn, doesn’t anyone like it, terrible as a whole, fun bits, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it should have been about Mother Corey, pulpy, the agent of change is a ex-boxer ex-gambler ex-cop ex-whistleblower, a yellow journal, benign agency, a traitor, if you squint a bit or your sick its not that bad, Durance, prison planet, done RIGHT, Australia as prison colony experience, a gloss of paint rather than thinking about ideas, Jerry Pournelle’s Co-Dominion, Sparta (prison planet), he could have done a lot more with this, less than the sum of its parts, what this podcast might be doing, what science fiction is, exploring the things Jesse’s interested in, the South Pacific in the 1830s (without spaceships), set on Mars with rockets and domes and superchargers, not science fiction, an editorial in Science Fiction Quarterly, February 1957, Robert W. Lowndes, P. Schuyler Miller, “The Reference Library”, good heavens!, Bridey Murphy, a suspense story, that’s a crime busting tale, where is the science fiction, it didn’t need to be set on Mars, gangs of New York, westerns, a lawless wild west story, almost no concrete ideas that are particularly speculative, something that Eric (Rabkin) taught Jesse, transformed language, The Teaching Company, an impression of the world in which you’re living, Cuddles, he sands the dishes for her, pioneer stories, designed to give you an impression of a whole world in the background you don’t see in the text, what makes it really science fiction is that it has ideas, so scattershot, he doesn’t follow through, Olaf Stapledon, no characters, idea after idea after idea, what science fiction might be, science is ways of knowing, he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he starts, a Philip K. Dick trick: he makes it symmetrical, the plot and the beatings and the dome punching, goddamned communists!, how do revolutions happen?, interesting as an artifact, imperialism, why certain things look like, a Big Big World, continents and countries and resources, why are people doing X, Y, or Z?, geography and resources, WWII, why are things happening this way, that’s where the oilfields are, like the game Settlers Of Catan, life outside of Marsport, Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold, which is it?, changing from paragraph to paragraph, he’s going to derail an already overly long book, heartland hinterland, the Canadian experience, the resources for the USA, branchplantism, car factories in Ontario, Canada as a the hinterland for the United States’ heartland, the outsiders and the insiders, there’s a dystopia on Earth that we don’t get to see, a corrupt journalist who did a little too much actual journalism, something about his personality, he’s not an upright guy looking for the truth, corrupt but not completely corrupt, the heroes are the agency, East Germany, everyone has a secret badge, we’re gonna eat strawberries and cream, White Tiger (2012), this Jesus figure, t-34s, praying to the god of tanks, a very strange Russian movie, Duel (1971) TV movie, The Haunted Tank, why?, Ok?, The Killer Angels, two strange scenes at the end, a long scene with Hitler, the unconscious desire of Europe, is that the European psyche?, the audience?, equally baffling, unconditional surrender, talking about the food, the Russians bring in desert, what is this?, strawberries and cream, come the revolution we’ll all eat strawberries and scream, the revolution has come, when the revolution comes, a downtrodden people, what the rich people always have, playing all these ideas out, why it is a weak science fiction novel, you’re like Judas, they stuck in his throat, the methods used betray the ideals, that’s what we like about Gordon: he uses all the wrong means, the thirty pieces, none of it makes any sense, he’s busy in the kitchen and some things are burning, James Blish’s review: it’s naturalism but not realism, unpleasant matter, a normal sexual relationships, a bundling scene, they kiss, a normal reaction, goes nowhere, the naughty parts for a 1953 science fiction audience: salacious, Samuel Beckett, trance writing, humourless, the voting chapter, vote early and often, Alfred Bester could hold it together, the difference between a great writer and a medium writer, I’m expecting people to pick up…, roiling around, tossed salad and scrambled eggs isn’t revolutionary, Les Misérables, about redemption?, building something together, a change of mind, it’s horribly written, women’s psychology in the fifties, lock this room for a week, how little depth it has, you seem alright in a way, your boots, arranged marriage, if a lady tries to stab you or breaks a bottle over your head she likes you, a book club, five hours like eons, Jesse made Wayne June read the 60 hour Jerusalem by Alan Moore, and Evan has already finished it, baseline science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, picking vs. talent, don’t even try to defend it, shotgun, the setup and the dome and the boots, and we’re all spy, what about the drugs?, street drugs, they’re all starving to death, social control, undercooked, ideas he doesn’t do anything with, we should read Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, why books used to have chapter names, editing out the “this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain”, editing, so amazing, first published in 1980, Julie’s mom loves Alfred Bester, on Earth and so good, a nebula nominee, doable, electric bliss, Jesse has pirate powers, spoiled it!, plus five stars, The Rosie Project, The Man Who Fell To Earth, a book about chess, Squares Of The City by John Brunner, Jesse is the best ever.

Del Rey - Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

POLICE YOUR PLANET - Emsh prelim

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #543 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Defenders by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #543 – The Defenders by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Marissa Vu, Evan Lampe and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, January 1953, self-submitted, H.L. Gold, Ed Emshwiller, 100 Pages Of At A Time episode 6 of the Philip K. Dick book club, The Penultimate Truth, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, Deus Irae, different themes, the only idea that survives, different argument, a purity to The Defenders, a fable, monologues from robots, normalized, sitting with the idea, watching a short film (or television episode) vs. a film, participating in a different way, he’s retelling Plato’s The Myth Of The Cave, dwelling, a fundamental point, page 12, Taylor nodded, the peep slot, a world where no life could exist, bullshit, the story doesn’t fit, what Taylor is thinking, under the delusion, that’s fake, camouflage, still eating the blue pill, the red pill, the most famous modern reworking of Plato’s cave: The Matrix (1999), Philip K. Dick’s omniscient narration is complicit, how newspapers work, I don’t think that’s true, truth bombs, fake news, in its pure state, a slot in a lead wall, Russians pasted in Moscow, that’s CNN, the newspaper, and its all fake, epistemology, externalizing the internal, initial thoughts, the media, Dick’s first comment on the media, why they seem so different, it’s humans who use these leadies as serfs, exploiting those on the bottom, assholes or not, smashing human nature to get to some kind of utopia, humans exploiting humans, seeing The Penultimate Truth as a sequel to The Defenders, those on the outside are exploiting those on the inside, a mature and sophisticated version of Isaac Asimov’s robots, loopholes, caretakers for mankind’s spaces while they get their shitty ideas out of their heads, Philip K. Dick grew up during WWII, how this story starts off, reading the newspaper, homeopapes, everything’s getting shittier, the quality of the paper goes down, happy to get any paper, you can’t complain, a delight and a reminder, a conflict within Taylor, pro pro-war, the public persona, otherwise you’re a traitor, the radio drama adaptation differences, forbidden romance, there’s no daughter, there’s a wife, the role of the wife, the a-level robot, Mary is more evolved, us against them, the next step up before universal solidarity, how Dick’s wives appear in these stories, a minor antagonist to the main character, Misadjustment, she seems to get in the way, an annoyance, feeding back to Dick’s relationships, you shouldn’t be so bitter, once you go up there, he was shocked, at the breakfast table with his newspaper and his coffee, this whole thing is fake, if you go out to that shack…, god! it’s true!, you’re going to lose your mind, don’t believe the robots, the robots are under a delusion about humanity, fatigue and disinterest, a utopia as a homogenous culture, identical laws, one ID card for every America, a steady state, if everything is Microsoft, war is better than one user log-in, Asimov’s psychohistory, the robots have humanity wrong, a telling of Nick Bostrum, AI, the paperclip problem, make people happy = take control of our minds (horribly), perverse interpretation, Elon Musk’s fear of AI, AI’s not the boogeyman, one of the Scooby Doo gang, logic tree, that’s no thing to fear, I Am Mother (2019), decanting zygotes, regular skeptical Jesse, 15,000 days later, this is not the first kid, sometimes they just don’t care about shit like that, can liquid nitrogen make glass more brittle?, if you’re paying attention to the details of a story…, humans are so fucking stupid, failing ethical exams, the Russian fox experiment, Moon (2009), low budget science fiction good stuff, Philip K. Dick is wrong, they can lie but they can’t kill, the Asimov defect, weakening the second law, ruthlessness, the long-winded a-level robot, to order the lives of human beings, stories are three levels (vs. adaptations as two levels), a virtual reality game, illusion vs. the truth, not-a, working out what it would mean if you say this…, the three laws are laws for people, what is an order?, an urgent request, guides for moral behavior, lying as more acceptable than killing, they’re whole interactions are one big lie, all the little lies, their ends justify the means, when you change who it is and what they’re relationship is to others you see a change in the meanings of the words, four Russian soldiers, bender-pistols, slem-gun, all men, some more humans hatch out, their wormholes, in the radio drama, can we get married and have babies?, repopulating the Earth, her enemy, not Russians (Asians), a female as the lead changes the tone, its about reproduction, what motherhood means, sometimes she’s scary and sometimes she kind, a nod to Blade Runner, the dog as a figment of her imagination, the relationship humans have to pets, putting down pets vs. putting down humans, fur-babies, not our servants and not our masters, like Sky-Net but overly motherly, it’s all about power relations, the robots manipulate in a kind of a chess game, interesting stuff, trying to create empathy (or foster it) using anti-empathetic means, a great reversal, do the robots wither away?, keep a watch out?, eight years, faking the news, they become slaves again, The Zap Gun aka Project Plowshare, straight out of the newspapers, we need to take the weapons of war and turn them into the tools of peace, materiel, DC-4s as civilian transport aircraft, letting the humans become exhausted, something to this, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Supernova In The East, there was no stopping the Japanese empire, cultural zeal for expansion, a feudal society to an industrial power, all throughout the bureaucracy, how much terror and horror happened in WWII, within Japan, getting weary, let’s tire of this war, Afghanistan’s war doesn’t tire, Taylor is starting to feel it, he’s a writer in the novel, the rhetorizer, a new artioforg liver, the Yance-man, such a great Cold War story, its all in the open in The Zap Gun, the chosen consumer, a brilliant way, magazines about weapons, obsessed with war, a gun nut, all the needs are being met (all without war), Steen cares about this sort of stuff, the cost of F-35s is always going up, F-16s, F-18s, F-14s, f-15, $89.2 million each, the history of firearms, the M-16 vs. the AK-47, doing it out in the open, the M-1 Abrams tanks, there hasn’t been a tank battle since Iraq War I, A-10s, its all done out in the open, people don’t care, how much you exhaust in war production, how far the British Empire fell after WWII, they gave away the whole empire on a point of pride, British rationing (until 1956 not the 1960s), the 1990s Outer Limits episodes, robots with a utopian vision, a reactionary coup, the robot will fill in for you, replacing the father, reimposing the patriarchal family, Sales Pitch, tehcnology changes the attitudes of people, now we can go to space again, obsessed with the frontier as an escape, a reactionary agenda, Family Values, =lull=, annoying Evan, just to displease you, the pink light is the leady without radioactivity, discovering the beautiful world of love and empathy, the VALIS experience, a literal incarnation, our world is fake, the danger of a new dogmatic illusion, the commander, just an observer, breaking through the veil, until there’s a rooster crowing, Franks, explaining what the Soviet Union was, page 8, ascending out of the Tom Mix vault, Moss nodded, the stage trap, the idea of a stage, all the world’s a stage for them, those city videos, all the reports, all the samples, reverse Westworld, playing along, the horrible world, workers were everywhere, the labor corps, slaves, build V-2 rockets, what’s life like for regular folk in this world?, the stage was deafening with noise, rock and lead, lead and rock, a description of what’s going on on the surface of the Earth, what it’s like in the North Pacific right now, a lethal desert of slag, the red sun, something metallic stirred, constructed with feverish haste, the hellscape we get in Second Variety, the mine, the claws, the hellscape of The Terminator future, infiltrators covered with real human flesh!, all fake, a lot of interesting play, afraid of the stages, scary, our own minds looking out at the universe from our own senses, page 10, indirect evidence, a smell-o-printer, a VR one, blasting heat at your face, simulation, I don’t see reality as it is…, proprioception, our world in reality, the homunculus issue, Men In Black, sweeping all the problems into that little man, the leadies as senses, let’s test that idea again, we’re being lied to about reality, deep down its a really interesting science fiction, science, epistemology story, where are the c-class leadies?, taking care of the water-mains, their in the narrative rooms, how they make mistakes in the propaganda, forgetting to bathe the representatives in radioactives, making apologies, trying to protect the humans, the truncated first law.

Galaxy, January 1953 - Illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

Italian cover mirroring The Defenders

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