The SFFaudio Podcast #653 – READALONG: Roadwork by Stephen King

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #653 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Mr Jim Moon, and Connor Kaye talk about Roadwork by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

Talked about on today’s show:
1981, 1977 was a difficult year for King, quotidian, repertoire, daily or ordinary, where he goes to the gun store, blow up your house like everyone does, contemporary fiction, talking to his dead son, contemporary drama, first Bachman, a decent amount of King, that mode of King, psychological drama, internal psychological state, King novels that are classified as horror than are totally mundane, Night Shift, serial killers, mob bosses, marginal aspects of society, somewhere in the horror genre, Henry James, mimetic fiction, Philip K. Dick’s non-SF work, a confessional, grapples with sanity, Kafka, Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), Graham Greene novels, Taxi Driver (1976) is a social horror movie, running with it, a destination, putting himself on that path, he couldn’t tell us, no good reason, the Why Bachman essay, share the art with people, a weird way of approaching things, The Running Man, Rage, self-banning, Seuss self-banning, utterly banable, more common, death by cop, suicide by cop, SWATing people, the van at the end, things have progresses or degenerated or gone down the road, an existential novel, a rare sub-genre, A Man In Full by Tom Wolfe, like he did mushrooms, reexamining his life, crash the midlife crisis book, Fools Die by Mario Puzo, an overlay of magic, Las Vegas, meeting a girl, having a friend, smoking cigarettes, I am the master of magic, Falling Down (1993), so many things that are the same, he attacks the road, Nazi paraphernalia, just trying to get home, roadwork ahead, walking across Los Angeles, a very American sort of story, gang members, his mother in law, his wife and his kid, Robert Duvall is the police officer with his last day on the job, the major takeaway, fired from his “D-Fens” job, building missiles for the United States, the Korean shop owner, how much money the United States has given to Korea?, a black comedy, the same ending, the reason the road is being made, the government needs to spend the money or it doesn’t have it next year, Soviet Russia, the enemy is capitalism and existential angst, you know why he did what he did, King makes it incredibly plain, he fucked up, he thought if he follows the American dream everything would be good, a tumor the size of a walnut, his life is a miscarriage, his life is an abortion, this anguish, the terror of our own freedom, the burden of freedom, a space for freedom, Camus and The Stranger, he finds freedom, Connor’s interpretation, his inability to adapt to changing circumstances, suburban angst, this mentality, a breakdown, feeling the same way, dissatisfied with their own life, things were better before, spilled the beans, things used to be so much better, he’s a MAGA, he’s not alone, now I understand why school shootings happen, literally what happens, you shot my brother, the cigarettes, cancer sticks, the other cancer in this book, the cancer of him and television, television is under assault, he smashes the TV, the core of the love relationship of their life, working together in a marriage, the glue that holds him together, afternoon soap operas, Merv Griffin, the mediator of this family, Jesse’s mom thought TV is evil, all advertising is evil, the news is all propaganda, all cops shows are propaganda, reality is much more complex, sitting down and watching TV is not the solution to any problem you can possibly imagine, watching TV alone is really sad, a pixie girl, manic dream pixie girl, she’s on her own life course, the junior laundry guy, don’t go down this path its a trap, ask me how I know, she wants to watch Star Trek, it isn’t just Wagon Train to the stars, Lorne Greene advertising his new cop show, read a Ray Bradbury novel (or short story), its addictive and dangerous, the lowest point of the book is masturbating in front of the TV watching Merv Griffin and eating a TV dinner, The Mangler, Lovecraft’s the Cthulhu mythos, an industrial laundry, his first adult protagonist, The Long Walk, The Running Man, when King’s mother died (mid twenties), the folly of youth, a 20 year old getting into the mind of a middle age, weird books, mimetic fiction, Tom Clancy, what is the Soviet version of this book?, at the core and the target, I will advance in this career at this industrial laundry, his former boss, paying back the loan, this is why when the laundry is going to be taken apart, the overboss, I’m disappointed in you Dawes, chances of advancement, a decimal place on the spreadsheet, he’s the only one who can see reality for what it is in this book, the gangster, the dork and the fruitcake, what a doofus, why do I like a guy who I can’t understand, comes around to his point of view, the gas crisis, why am I listening to this again?, Ezra Kline interviewed Ted Chiang, the questions were bad, a good definition of why fantasy and science fiction from each other, science fiction has the potential to not be a metaphor, Kim Stanley Robinson, it isn’t some spiritual revision, terraforming mars, red skinned aliens on Mars, here we have a character in an existential crisis, there was an energy crisis, the car lot, he can sell the Vegas but no the Cadillac, rationing, being a trained dog, the Vietnam War, more roads for more cars, a stimulus, its infrastructure, this is what we’re going to do and this is a good thing, sometimes correct, incorrect for individuals, his house, his business, his marriage are being demolished, the bitch the gangster talks about, very instinctually awesome, what is Paul talking about, the same headspace, the school shooter kid, fuck you I’m not doing what you’re saying, Network (1976), the location of this book, stagflation, the boom of the New Deal flattened into a blah, a malaise, investment properties, cars in the garage, new TVs, October 1973 – January 1974, when Philip K. Dick reviews his own novel, some terrible author has planned out my life and put me on this path and fuck him, he was in the Poe society, William Wilson by Edgar Allan Poe, The Outsider, Harlan Ellison, I want you to punch that Ticktock man, Logan’s Run (1976), late for lunch, The Roads Must Roll, a fictional city?, on the way to Chicago, Ohio or Indiana, the hitchhiker, so many themes or motifs, the electricity costs, at the end of the line, deliberate fuck yous, a 2021 novel, running around without a mask, coughing on people, his anger is not at human beings, a very Catholic book, he digs Catholic, all those lots, Methodist, fallen priests, the street preacher, Salem’s Lot, Wolves Of The Calla, goes to work with the poor directly, the society lady’s party, girls have to stick their dicks in people’s mouths, horror stories, new years eve parties, trying to heal the world, reins of power, fuck this shit, an excuse not to kill yourself, your body is going to rot, I can’t lie to you, he tries not to lie to people, this type of character is very very common, the original paperback cover, he’s the cop, the competent one there, he’s not competent at all, trying to find meaning, on a bunch of dangerous and bad paths, he inconvenienced some people, Jack Daniels, reinforce the point that he’s making, even the wife seems better off without him, the gangster gives him the green light is a more honest character, outside the system, that turning point, a shift between ordinary run business vs. the corporate system, the perfect artificial life form that’s alien, Charles Stross, Ted Chiang’s not worried about AI, self-interested individuals, people didn’t used to be as self-interested, looking at the bigger picture, looking long-term, a big amoeba, an alien life form, mindless fashion, a shift from direction, family, mindless, not run by anybody, a big audiobook guy, before Audible was a thing, Music For Pleasure -> Listen For Pleasure -> Durkin Hayes -> DH Audio -> out of business, paperback audio, to generate more money so you can expand, build an new warehouse, terrible mistakes, content Jesse couldn’t sell, out of the hands of a person, buying up whole categories and genres of titles, this happens again and again, nobody loves laundry, loving clean sheets, the hotel sheets, the restaurants, on time and clean, the technical reasons, too far away, the efficiencies, the gains in efficiencies, it was his family, that boss took an interest in him, cared about him, the cop is retiring, his daughter died of SIDS, daughter themes, I never liked you, the retiring Robert Duvall never swears, a corporate climber, a formal relationship, they don’t want a hassle, here’s your coffee, he wants them to admit it, they’re gaslighting him and everyone, this capitalist horror system they’ve somehow fallen into is bullshit, I just want to know do you really care, ultimately no I don’t care, when you get cancer and you go to the doctor, are you really sorry or is this what you do everyday, have a good day, wow, painful, invested heavily in the American Dream, now there’s stagflation and the dividends are not paying, the most American writer: Robert A. Heinlein, Stephen King gives him a good run for his money, the nitty gritty of characters and experiences, very subtle, if he wasn’t such a popular author he’d be the darling of scholars, masterfully done, all instinctual, a bit of a slog, how masterful King is with the internal dialogue, it continues to move, day to day, a forward momentum, a doomclock, the Tuesday afternoon that never ends, an acceleration towards the end, Paul started feeling better, just the audio, the text -22 and counting, D-Day, it’s coming, little details that fill in the questions, that party, his friend who has the party, nice language about tripping on his mouth, d r o p, why did he take that drug?, those trips are designed to break you out of whatever rut you’re in, it didn’t work, or maybe it did work, really worried about suicide, he’s lying to himself, this alternative life for him, almost like the cancer is in him, he’s got a compulsion, he’s on this track, a path of self-destruction, don’t take the mescaline, get yourself back on track, compulsively and unconsciously taking decisions, you’d be a really good bowler, he didn’t need to watch more TV, it told him lies, nobody else is obsessed with TV, a Kingism, reading everything, he reads people’s cigarettes, branding, obsession, N, more obsessed with brand names, TV is sucked, The Glass Teat, reading Harlan Ellison when you’re 14, an eyeopener, pardon Paul’s language, the Dickhead’s show on Galactic Pot-Healer, dudes getting a book, appreciating a book the right way is a kind of a tragedy, writers could almost make livings, all writers, Langhorn J. Tweed, Paul knows a lot of them, some of them are rich and live off of investment properties, the rare exception, writing TV shows and making perfectly great livings, the actual novel and short story writing people can’t make a living from writing, a book that wasn’t written, he’s this weirdo writer, somehow able to do the thing people were able to do in the past, a professional writer, doing something of value, a kind of despair that most Americans and most people under capitalist, Mr Jim Moon’s patreon support, something outside, a lot worse off Mr Jim Moon?, Skeleton Crew’s introduction, why’d you bother with short stories, Steve?, you’re a clockwork monkey, he wanted people to read the books, good job I didn’t kill anybody, you’re interested, it gives value meaning satisfaction, for the love of sharing things, once you’re forced to make it your main profession, I need to make enough money to survive for the next month, market research, you don’t need to read Heinlein, making something that’s marketable, a compulsion, the opposite of a recipe, an intersection there, the realpolitik of having to pay the electric bill, what will my agent and publisher accept?, tricky things, the expansion of the number of books being published, publisher merging, consolidating, self-published stuff, a lot of content, underneath it all you’re a sharecropper for Bezos, the mediums, The Exorcist, barfs all over the place, and the priest can’t help, the meta on this book is really amazing, no forums, newspaper, radio, TV, record players, book store, today we have, what are Jesse’s students doing?, League Of Legends, free games, streaming, an increasingly smaller medium, people still like horses, people needed to know about horse shit, short stories are incredibly fringes, poetry journals, YouTube and Twitch content, this angst has been transferred to other places, podcasts are still on an upward arc, novels are on the decline now, short stories peaked in the 1950s and are on the steady decline, novels are on the decline, has broadcast TV gotten better or worse?, we’re in a something else, the media people consumed, magazines are almost gone, podcasts producing classic literature, we’re never going to give up on stories, he’s producing enough, original fiction, audio dramas in podcasting, carpetbaggers moving into podcasts, how do I make money off of this, inventing podcast dramas, there’s nobody to check their claims, the media now work for the giant corporations/the government, all a conspiracy to extract value, they sell it to you in lies, everything will be fine, he likes his suburban home, wonderful, horrible, struggling with reality, he got bought out, this terrible loss of his child, continuing in stasis, he can’t move on, what he’s stuck with, while he’s been grieving, who is this guy he’s talking about, is he schizophrenic?, middle names, such easy flow, well that was a clunky sentence, Kingisms, literary style, a slightly different Bachman style, repeat phrases, song lyrics, Fred and George, TV characters, repartee, dialogue with each other, internal development or decline, these same touchstones, the same song, or brand, or characters, tons of reviews of Stephen King stuff in the booktube environment, 6 minutes on this book, books that should have been Bachman books, Revival by Stephen King, Blaze by Stephen King, namedropping Lovecraft and Machen, fifth business, carnies, the trope of the mad scientist, made it totally realistic and totally believable, a mad scientist novel, Cujo, makes you feel dirty, split authors, Seanan McGuire, Mira Grant, A. Deborah Baker, branding, in the introduction, never lying, why Rage was out of print, not worried about being canceled, not having it on his conscience, suicide by cop people, the power of TV and media to influence people, a New York Times podcast, true crime podcasts, true crime/journalism podcasts, Derek Chauvin trial, make money off the gruesome interest, The Caliphate Podcast, all lies, the OJ Simpson trial, seven dancing its, Lorne Greene’s new cop show, random thoughts, he’s being shaped by what he sees, flipping scene, a suicide scene, in 100 years, an academia we won’t understand, blockchain version of academia, blockchain degrees, Jesse is a heretic, how good King was at doing this thing, the psychological underpinnings, tapping into something that’s real, accurate, Paul feels called out, always on about going down to Mexico and shooting zebra, a good time, that place in Mexico, stocked, a planned experience, a simulation, how much time we spend in games, drugstores in the 1970s, a spinner rack full of thin novels, you can’t review this with stars, I give it 6.7 out of ten, how could it have been a better book about killing yourself?, needed more cops killed?, he’s not really that immoral, barely a crime book, needs to be done, he detonated it himself at the end, he wanted to blow it all up, if he had nukes, this explains a lot of people, that guy in New Orleans, 2020 Nashville bombing, Oklahoma City Bombing, Anthony Quinn, a copy of Bachman’s novel?, 9/11 conspiracy, a conspiracy by the government?, the moon landing conspiracy theory, reptilian conspiracy theory, ufo conspiracy theories, reptoids, Atlantis, L.A. tunnels, The Shadow Kingdom by Robert E. Howard, weird and weird fiction, its a metaphor, why it has power, the dragons of ancient european mythology, he’s stealing our girls, he won’t share, redistribute the wealth, Jack Of Shadows by Roger Zelazny, mentioned in Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson, Beowulf scripted by Neil Gaiman, hyperbole, management makes things seem fake, a McDonalds equivalent, his whopper, this is supposed to look like that, food commercials, they have to use real food, mashed potatoes in place of ice cream, its all fake, everything is an illusion, there is no such thing is death, if Stephen King wasn’t so good at writing he might have blown something up, he didn’t kill anyone, its wrong to kill people, we gotta be real here, people reacting against being lied to and gaslit, another case, the Killdozer case, Theodore Sturgeon, he built a bulletproof killdozer, Marvin Heemeyer, Kentucky is for school shootings and Colorado is for rampages, I think God will bless me, notes found by investigators, zoning grudges, sometimes reasonable men must do unreasonable things, found in an altar, he’s tapped into something real, smoke from a campfire at all hours, they don’t want to escalate it, he’s got a brain injury, live and let live, people can be scary, muddle through somehow, he wouldn’t sell, why does everyone think he doesn’t move?, his castle, the castle doctrine, this is your life, to move an older person is traumatic, stairs or access or neglect, a mental trauma, we’re not just physical stuff, the rational thing to do, its gotta be done, there is no person there, “mistakes were made”, who made those mistakes?, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the problems in the seventies was the government was interested in infrastructure, something we don’t hear as much about, eminent domain, the most obvious example of not letting people be, they want to bulldoze his life, his network of friends family neighbours, definitely Network, 6 killdozers out of 10.

Roadwork by Stephen King

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Recent Arrivals from Penguin Audio

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

Four Stephen King audio re-issues!

Desperation by Stephen KingDesperation
By Stephen King; Read by Kathy Bates
8 CDs – 9 hours – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1996)
ISBN: 9780143143895

One of King’s best novels!

There’s a place along Interstate 50 that some call the loneliest place on Earth. It’s known as Desperation, Nevada. It’s not a very nice place to live. It’s an even worse place to die. Let the battle against evil begin.
 
 
The Regulators by Stephen KingThe Regulators
By Stephen King; Read by Kate Nelligan
8 CDs – 9 hours – [ABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1996)
ISBN: 9780143143918

This was released at the same time as Desperation, has the same cast as that novel, and appeared as written by Richard Bachman.

There’s a place in Wentworth, Ohio, where summer is in full swing. It’s called Poplar Street. Up until now it’s been a nice place to live. The idling red van around the corner is about to change all that. Let the battle against evil begin.
 
 

Thinner by Stephen KingThinner
By Stephen King; Read by Joe Mantegna
9 CDs – 10 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1984)
ISBN: 9780143143901

The last Bachman book – after this novel was published, it was revealed that Bachman was Stephen King.

When an old Gypsy man curses Billy Halleck for sideswiping his daughter, six weeks later he’s 93 pounds lighter. Now Billy is terrified. And desperate enough for one last gamble…that will lead him to a nightmare showdown with the forces of evil melting his flesh away.
 
 
Rose Madder by Stephen KingRose Madder
By Stephen King; Read by Blair Brown
14 CDs – 18 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Published: 2009 (reissue from 1995)
ISBN: 9780143143949

Intense novel about an abused wife.

This is the story of Rose Daniels, “the most richly portrayed female King’s ever created.”* Escape from her macabre marriage is not as easy as fleeing to a new city, picking a new name, finding a new job, and lucking out with a new man. Not with a husband like Norman…
 
 
Posted by Scott D. Danielson