The SFFaudio Podcast #591 – READALONG: The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #591 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and David Agranoff talk about The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

Talked about on today’s show:
three terribly scanned issues of Astounding, illustrations, a quick OCR, minor revisions, the introductory material, arguing with his critics and conceding a point, very Aristotelian, Damon Knight, a lot to eviscerate, a terrible book, one of those famous essays, David is forgiving, the good things that it inspired, why Marissa needed to be on this one, Philip K. Dick, Solar Lottery is basically World Of Null-A fanfic, Vulcan’s Hammer, the competent man porn, The Variable Man, The Golden Man, pre-verbal, all instinct, Vogt literally told Dick to write novels, the level of influence, plotting is terrible, Slan, van Vogt’s plotting philosophy: every 900 words plot twist, The Purge, The Hunger Games, Jesse will like this, no law in the opening, who is fit to live on Venus, putting it in communist terms, approaching full communism, full blown Null-A, general semantics, its not as stupid as it sounds, Bertrand Russel version, natural deductive logic, logical positivism, lefty peacenik thinks world’s problem can be solved by understanding sentences, two right wings of the same party, words have power, the word “cat”, pussy, feline, black cat, cursed, witch’s familiar, the power of synonyms, a feature of those things, be gaslit, fall into traps, Alfred Korzybski, mistaken silly ideas, the solution is silly, Olaf Stapledon and group minds, an idea we had to explore, a grift, L. Ron Hubbard’s grift, the aims that the people have behind these systems, not everybody operates on the same level, Robert A. Heinlein is believing this shit, Heinlein is very thoughtful, weird ways of living, to confined in the cultural mean of those around them, Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein, a future fans will be slans argument, Friday, Mr. Twocanes, join those supermen, Heinlein rejecting his own earlier embrace of general semantics, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, notice how it hasn’t taken over everything, Rosicrucians, go to church, he just kills dozens and dozens of people, how language effects your nervous system and decision making process, it knows what its trying to do, that ending, writing to the conclusion, why is this novel so bad, Astounding had a lot of shitty stories, its not that good, it has a status that is large, Dune, The Left Hand Of Darkness, Dune is a really good version of The World Of Null-A, basically yoga of the mind, shitty plot, the first time he’s killed, the equivalent of Star Trek: Picard, more and more churning, a Flash Gordon serial, John W. Campbell, supermen, Anthony Boucher, the corona virus pandemic, WWII, a letter from an SF author in Germany, V-2, rattling, rattle city, the guy is wrong about everything, moving through a liquid at a very high speed, a complete and crazy novel, A.E. van Vogt was Philip K. Dick’s idol, tanks getting piggy-back rides, the best defense, Knight rescinded his criticism, don’t judge it based on novel standards, an experimental novel, an action yarn, why he is, all these dudes really believed in the superman ideology, I don’t know it who I am, it barely has a plot, The Green Odyssey is a good book, an important book that is bad vs. an unimportant book that is good, influencing a slew of things, am I really married to the presidents’ daughter, she keep comings back, its like a dream, Jesse’s dream:

Dreamt I followed loud music, taking a shortcut home from my late night retail job, and found myself at a Carib Zombi takeout shak. Shamblers were everywhere, going in and out. I recognized one employee & ordered the SPECIAL. Another, a real freak, touched me, his corrupted flesh infecting mine. I told him to back off as where he touched me my flesh came away. He laughed and spoke a creole phrase under his fetid breath. I put on my own creole accent and gave him the counter response as he shambled away. More order came, and I took it to go. Spicy takeout.

most stuff shouldn’t be novels, cosmic jerrybuilder, this is what happens in the story, why all these plot twists don’t make any sense, unpuzzling is harder, what a convoluted mess it is, predicting the sequel, hilariously bad plotting, adding to the insanity, the ideas at the heart of it are really interesting, there are some things that have some value, the Promethean attitude about humanity, historicizing and contextualizing mental illness, go-sane, all who don’t practice are insane, structural problems, political problems, Michel Foucault, mental discipline, ulcers, Illness As Metaphor by Susan Sontag, repression causes cancer, HIV = excess and immorality, August 1945, SCIENCE TO COME, ulcers, if I pray for you you’ll get better, psycho-medical therapy, insulin shock therapy, what he does consistently, so common among science fiction writers, Robert J. Sawyer, all bullshit, the race is fairly indestructible but our present culture is finished, not a very Null-A thing to say, opened the realm of wonder, John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum, a fork, a Superman Returns, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, Black Destroyer, Alien (1979), an amnesia, interesting as opposed to shitty, the shitiness supports its thesis, animals don’t time bind, why Picard is shitty, remember how he got over those things, he found his brother in his vineyard and had a good cry, what was the whole thing about the Star Trek universe, being petty about jobs, the subersion we have in Deep Space Nine, labour problems, the only thing that supports Picard being a good show, I think Picard has dementia, why its a Don Quixote style show, all of this shit only makes sense only if its a dementia show, all the stuff that would support, we have a history and a memory, why antisemitism was so strong in Germany, there’s no morality involved in a tiger eating a deer, the least Null-A thing about Null-A, how humans are different from animals, put your hand in the box, testing Paul’s humanity, animal cultural legacies, skills that they can pass along, social ecology, Murray Bookchin, we create communities, we are able to carry on ideas, monogamy, Commando (1985) should be thought of as garbage, being entertained, David highlighted the shit out of Null-A, the most intense evisceration, an attack on literary grounds, at war with dictatorships, The Weapon Shop, his plots do not bear examination, sentences, Philip K. Dick at his worst, Joseph Conrad, two thoughts: like Flash Gordon and therefore it is trash, investigate that, the zig-zaggyness, extreme dissociative events, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, what a book is is what you take it to be, Joe Cinnadella is so fucking interesting because he was an Italian and a Nazi and a truck driver, any reading when citing sources within the text is legit, the way we are like Rick Deckard, oh my fucking god, he’s seeing inside my head, regular junky astounding stuff, Will has terrible taste, this book is stupid and interesting, reviews with star ratings, Sophie Wenzel Ellis’ story, junky pulpy thrown together bits, Lovecraft doesn’t care about markets at all, so market oriented it was not meant to be read after it was published, distracted from his market goal, those dignified realism books that nobody likes, Clark Ashton Smith poetry, what Will likes about it is its a super-science story, read Solar Lottery next, defend Will’s taste, 4 Gosseyns out of 5, a weapon called the vibrator, ridiculous space opera, you have to consider when it was written, Martian Time-Slip, laying in bed reading Null-A, a valid thing to think about, back to mental illness, WWII veterans, a social context to sanity, shell shock, PTSD, war created mental illness, maybe it’s all in the context, The Myth Of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz, a funnier book, a jarring book, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, corporations corrupting governments, the senator from Coca-Cola, giant chickens, an amazingly interesting book, really funny, Gravy Planet, the military industrial complex is going to make so much money, very Robert Sheckley in comedy terms, societal problems, history is a series of fucking errors, here’s how you’re wrong, why Isaac Newton is interesting, Newton’s Cannon by J. Gregory Keyes, when we get telepathy, his 75-year old man self, they’re thinking the same thoughts, the exact same thought at the exact same time, solving the same problem, when you go into Heinlein, Grok fills a function that isn’t a word we already have, we all grok this book pretty well, water brother let me tell you this is not the best drink available, when he’s trying to convince himself to kill himself, Paul’s issues, the original Gosseyn was Jesus, Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, Alas, All Thinking! by Harry Bates, a historical document, what do you make of the quotes at the beginning of every chapter, chapter 18, “feast upon shadows”, pearls of wisdom, general semantics, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz vs. Isaac Newton, Dianetics is a fork, we randomize it, The Game-Players Of Titan as the stock market and predicting Wall Street as games and tricks, political anarchism, Ursula K. Le Guin, Norman Spinrad, gated community socialism, the Galt’s Gulch planet, The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber, mutual aid, 600 years of games, Vulcan’s Hammer, just looking at the cover, hardcover (legit) vs. paperback (trash), Jesse only likes garbage, the good art and the bad art, commercially available, the smart people say that it’s good, direct to VHS movies from the 1990s, Noah’s Ark with Sodom and Gomorrah scene, Ed Wood, they don’t care they don’t know they don’t give a fuck, Above Suspicion (1995), A Slight Case Of Murder (1999) TV movie, aiming high with no skills, big swings, the economics of Star Trek: Picard, Quentin Tarantino, The Unteleported Man vs. Lies, Inc., this is a good attempt, it did what it wanted to do, be careful what you put into the world, future reprints, a catalyst and an exemplar, pulp science fiction, Robert E. Howard really holds up, surprisingly terrible, Clifford D. Simak, Isaac Asimov, he’s pre-Dick but without the natural gift, John the Baptist, Dick Christ, Mysterious Galaxies in San Diego, there’s a reason he doesn’t need to know about it, if you like out of date sci-fi, showing how general semantics and science fiction are tied together, H.L. Drake, why Heinlein is so interesting, he’s fundamentally right, there’s something to it and its really stupid, nothing’s new under the sun, practicing the art of reading science fiction for decades and decades, all the sound and fury all around us, as part of their identity vs. a fact about their history, being out of the loop by not practicing the art of reading science fiction, anti-bodies against surprised, forseen vs. predicted, plague, thousands of plague stories, Carriers (2009), how the United States is going to be in 9 months, the USG shit the bed, The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner, were just gonna have to let a couple million people go, top 10s, The Naked Sun, The Sphinx by Edgar Allan Poe, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, history is your proof against cycles, terrible dead ends, 277 years ago in where Vancouver is now, Philip K. Dick becomes more and more relevant and A.E. van Vogt becomes less and less relevant, thrash metal, PKD is covering Null-A, the opposite of academia, it is education for podcasters and podcast listeners, Donald A. Wollheim, Evan’s cat’s name is Rusty Cohle, also the Will book, Stanley G. Weinbaum’s Dawn Of Flame, fired no job jobless, we wont need lawyers in our new Null-A society, be more like Saul Goodman.

William Frederick Timmins art for The World Of Null-A on the cover of Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

ACE - D-31 - The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

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The SFFaudio Podcast #586 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #586 – The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 10 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons and Trish E. Matson

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, October 1936, what a good issue this is, how many podcasts based on stories in this issue?, Lloyd Arthur Ashback, The Lost Temple Of Xantoos by Howell Calhoun, Robert Block, Witch-Burning, The Lost Door by Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Earle Pierce Jr., Red Nails by Robert E. Howard, the final Conan story while he’s alive, R.E.H. by Robert H. Barlow, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, Arthur Conan Doyle, a lot for your money, The Shadow, Motor Stories, True Detective, Northwest Smith stories, worldbuilding, Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven, corrupt the planet, elves, diminished, our swashbuckling hero, connections, Philip Jose Farmer’s authorized Tarzan novel: The Dark Heart Of Time, a crystal tree, a civilization built around it, trees, a pocket universe ruled by a being that created the universe, ultimately easy to deal with, Jirel Of Joiry, Shambleau, succumbing to the wiles of a woman (who is not a woman), an anti-climactic ending, as an introduction, it has the virtue of being public domain, LibriVox, what she does with the language, not very much happens, mostly description, very Robert E. Howard like, the colour and the emotion, what actually happens, crashed, he’s basically Han Solo, a Mandalorian episode, no Chewie here, more pathetic than Chewie, a million year old ruined city, the Patrol, the well, a fake crying lady, reaching back into his brain vocab book, a missing bit, sacrificing a few of the forest people, through a monumental effort of will, he shoots it in the trunk/roots, very metaphorical, a dream sequence, the mushroom expression of the thing that is Thag, give him a sword, half of Conan stories, fights a god, a girl to be saved and a girl that’s evil (and jealous of Conan’s gf), Jesse’s least favourite part of Game Of Thrones, a really long story for the amount of activity that happens, a laser beam battle, a tribal war, it feels very long, the repetition, the same strange word again, incongruity, incredulous, making it more ornate and then colouring in, how it feels rather than what you see, a queer sort of music, intolerable beauty, that piercing strength, purple prose, its all about the dwelling in that feeling, the description of bodies, moonstone eyes, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Tyger by William Blake, my dead friend Gregg Margarite, “went lurking” a verb now used,

“went lurking” is a verb now used by people who only know each other via newsgroups – can mean, stopped responding to email or threads, also usable to describe people have have possibly died – so that’s how I will now describe my friends who I know have died

-they “went lurking”

Where do they lurk? Under what circumstances do they stop lurking? This sounds like a story waiting to be written.”[email protected]

Now they ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-winds, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile, at least… for now.

referencing The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft whenever possible, The Number Of The Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, it’s a (Philip Jose) Farmer book, its not a great book, “I’m going to do nostalgia”, 666 dimensions, WOW, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, 1979/80, revisiting some feelings, self-indulgent and incestuous, Lazarus Long, Mike the computer, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Glory Road, tour de Heinlein, enjoyed reading it, living my life and reading this book, it shouldn’t exist, the Exegesis of Robert A. Heinlein, science fictional concepts, watch out for femme fatales, “I’ll try”, a character development, a bottle episode, a standalone, the way Red Nails ends, Queen Of The Black Coast, go have one of his gigantic melancholies, “harry the coast of Kush”, a sense of optimism, this is not really science fiction, more like Star Wars, sword and planet, science fantasy, a romance, more weird, a setting beyond the Earth, its totally weird, there’s this god and this wizard, Conan, The Lost Valley of Iskander by Robert E. Howard, broody and thinky, Windwagon Smith, Philip Jose Farmer’s Windwagon Smith, Frank Leslie Illustrated, The Steam Man Of The Prairies, Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout, Around The World In 80 Days, Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987), an Ice Sledge, Dragonlance DL6: Dragons Of Ice, could this really work?, Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Windwagon Smith And The Martians, a mashup, Northwest Smith and Windwagon Smith, Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, pirates and voodoo, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Lord Dunsany’s A Story Of Land And Sea, Thomas Windwagon Smith, 1854 newspaper accounts, the prevailing winds blow in the wrong direction, a legal document with silver ink on blue paper, adapted into a comic (Eclipse’s Orbit), recorded into an audiobook, reasons to contact Ray Bradbury, Twelve Kings In Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Paul Bunyan, American myths, where’s Philip Jose Farmer when we need him?, American Mythos, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Smith is that name, Joe Anybody, C.L. Moore’s afterword for Shambleau And Other Stories, a red figure running, N.W. Smith, a third character was needed, Yarol is an anagram for the typewriter, North-West recurs, North West Territory, North-West Passage, the Northwest Rebellion, Northwest Of Space, do you remember when I was a kid?, Grizzly Adams, recreating the Garden of Eden with a bear,

The Lost
Temples of Xantoos

By HOWELL CALHOUN
Celestial fantasies of deathless night, Enraptured colonnades adorned with pearls, Resplendent guardians of crimson light, Expanse of darkness silently unfurls Among colossal ruins on this shore, That once was purled by Xantoos’ rolling seas; Nothing remains upon this barren core Of Mars, but your palatial memories.

Your altars and magnificent black gods Still flash beneath the sapphire torches’ flames, The fragrant ring of sacred flowers nods Beneath the monstrous idols’ gilded frames. Your jeweled gates swing open on their bands Of gold; within, a lurid shadow stands.

John Carter, Northwest Smith, this Sea that once was (now dry), abandoned city, vocabulary practice, retelling without having read, mixing and remixing, when you put Burroughs out into the world…, more sharp, more poisonous, it sticks with you, Blake inspired, the syntax, part of the fun, reading deeply, what haunts authors, the sea is an image in Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, C.L. Moore is more commercially minded, Robert E. Howard was willing to write for anybody, Henry Kuttner, he’s kinda like Robert E. Howard, first fanmail, ‘she’s hiding her identity behind her initials’, a more common thing to do, a trend that happened, the sexism was not real in Weird Tales, some womens names were hidden by initials, the readership was almost equally female, boys and girls and women and men of all ages, more female poets, 30% female story authors, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Seabury Quinn, Lovecraft’s semi-beef with Farnsworth Wright, No Woman Born by C.L. Moore, gynoid body please, rings of metal, conveying the woman that she used to be, Science Fiction 101 aka Worlds Of Wonder edited by Robert Silverberg, Fondly Fahrenheit, Day Million, No Woman Born, The Monsters, Jack Vance, no time to read for anything except for the podcast, the difference between podcasts and reviews, the firehose is the fifty firehoses, I would love to help, 17th century novels and poetry nobody reads, a lot of dross, gender stereotyping, kind of a doofus as opposed fascist, compilation of trailers, Siren, Odysseus and the Sirens story, a classical trap,
a fundamental misunderstanding people have been having since the mid-19th century, what evolution, a show about mermaids set in 2020, I despair for our species, that’s why we have problems, FreeForm, filmed 10 feet from my mom’s house, Apple TV+ a fourth grade student investigating a murder as an accredited journalist, its not aimed at humans, its like a kitten detective, a serious show, Encyclopedia Brown, Love Is Blind, marriage, they’re all fake, artificial drama, the consequences, why did you bring this white guy home, a TV whore, an intellectually morally bankrupt decision, abuse, Will to to blame, subordinating themselves for infamy, The Running Man by Stephen King, The Prize Of Peril by Robert Sheckley, Das Millionenspiel, traumatized by the indignities, doing your spirit wrong Will, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, facial tattoos, scarification, SoundCloud rapper is a culture, earlobe stretching, lip stretching, group identity by shared pain, everything’s crazy in the shade of The Tree Of Life, were in the Thag bubble, their story is a lot richer, snuggled up or running screaming, the lie of this story, he never really got out that’s why this is the last story, he’s a white man, he’s fine, a semi-desperate criminal, why people fundamentally reject the death of Han Solo, when Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes, remember Spock?, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, give Mirror Universe Spock a shave, killing Kirk, a generational changing of the guard, gone down with the Enterprise, a twitter argument,

@SFFaudio Feb 8 [2020]
time to face the truth:

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) looks better and better and better as the years go by

at some point it will be better than VOYAGE HOME (1986) and yes, inevitably, even WRATH OF KHAN (1982)

Star Trek 1 is an art film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969), how you know you’re in a Russian art film, a big idea, everybody agrees, VGER, Milton and Moby Dick and Shakespeare, themes, everything, meanwhile in the darkness Star Trek I is getting better and better, gaining more gravity with time, why they changed the uniforms, its Frankenstein, try the computer down, we can be friends, The Changeling, Voyage Home is so much fun, some lady who’s a cat, Assignment: Earth, “exact change”, too much LDS, while ST1 is a better film, Star Trek IV is more fun, retcon things, Jesse’s ratings of the Superman movies.

The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore

The Lost Temples Of Xantoos

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The SFFaudio Podcast #579 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #579 – The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake; read by Winston Tharp (for LibriVox.org). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (38 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, October 1961, a very good issue, Cordwainer Smith, Frederik Pohl, Fritz Leiber, Frank Herbert, Robert Bloch, Jack Sharkey, Willy Ley, a lot of engineering and planning, I love Westlake’s writing so much, reach out and kiss you, the first paragraph, that put the roof on the city, Eric S. Rabkin, “transformed language”, transforming an idiom for a science fiction setting, the opposite of Poe or Lovecraft, ornate, dense, oblique, frothy, characterization, perfect voice for it, he was dangerously insane, including my date with my girl, a post-apocalyptic dystopia that ends on a very sour note (for the reader), a nice trick he pulled, he gets over it very easily, cleavage girls, contract marriages, no-p (no progeny), p and not p, natural deductive and axiomatic logic, math for sentences and paragraphs, useless and yet…, an underlying current that’s rather deep, Philip K. Dick, The Penultimate Truth, The Defenders, leadies vs. ore-sleds, a retelling of the myth of the cave from Plato’s Republic, a metaphor for having conversations with people, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the mentality of the people, The Ax by Donald Westlake, a very funny sad scary book, very political, it wouldn’t have felt political at the time, artifacts, the massive trope or overpopulation, arcology, a condo, the projects, the justification for why would be reading a crime novel, he quit science fiction, Xero (magazine), very true of most science fiction writers, Joe Haldeman cant make a living at it, a sad reality of the industry, solid ideas, from a very different angle, Wool by Hugh Howey, mainstream science fiction with this wonderful aspect, Robert Sheckley, he’s poking fun at everything all along the way, delights in enjoying how ridiculous life is, makes kids enjoy science fiction, a great infodump on page 183, it flows just beautiful, a nation 200 hundred stories high, occasional spies, external dangerous lurking at the back of our minds, the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war, irony and humour, treated to such flowy goodness, the whole story’s greatness, you could make this as a student film, three or four actors, so good, an efficeny of science fiction, a real shame he quit science fiction, Doctor Killybilly, William = strength and protector, why did they do this?, our judo flipping instructor, where the outside is unknown and secretly not bad, Logan’s Run, the Fallout games, High-Rise by J.G. Ballard, The Luckiest Man In Denv by C.M. Kornbluth, why are the Russian oligarchs so much work than the Bloomberg oligarchs, can it be explained, circular, imaginary enemies, WWI (the ignoble nobleman’s war), The Westlake Review blog, WWII (the racial non-racial war), WWIII (the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war), tactical nuclear weapons, MacArthur, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, good strategy, your focus narrows, situational awareness, tunnel vision, engaged with a twitter thread, this happens to countries (not just people), they found his car, the army men, kind of incompetent, aiming the elevator at the army, starve-em-out, Edmund Rice, the right focus, his apartment is falling apart, the window doesn’t work, his single egg, rationing, chicory coffee, he cant imagine a different life, at the bottom of the apartment building, slag, it dumping of their ore car slag, piling up, if this goes on they will be buried, Idiocracy (2006), Javelin missiles sent to Ukraine, attacking Trump from the right (instead of the left), making more nukes?, if we have WWIII it will be stupid, howitzer line of sight nukes, they did it on purpose, somebody is lying, West End Games’ RPG Paranoia, it’s cool to think about, page 193, terror, horror, dizziness, do you see that green?, the power of suggestion, agoraphobia, The Caves Of Steel, his girlfriend, so obsessively worried about punctuality, PTSD, ore-sleds are just like people?, they have so little, they focus on the tiniest things, get Jesse hiking more, kidnap victims, Stockholm Syndrome for a whole nation, he’s like Canada, the sky isn’t falling, he’s a humanitarian, a dangerous criminal, an illegal immigrant, he puts us in the situation right with the guy, page 179, that horrible egg, gaspingly transparent window, its better to look inward, a whimsical approach, a romantic approach, I can’t live without you at the moment, will you be provisionally mine?, I’m going to be needing a wife for at least a year or two, I moved like a whirlwind, that was wrestling, that was judo, that was karate, he just killed the guy who was trying to help him, Paul plugs a book: Mazes Of Power by Juliette Wade, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, three extra zeros, advertising for coffins, a prospector wanders out of the New Mexican desert, humans are complete asses, under the roof, she refused at length and descriptively, any number of girls, I was a hero, they even gave me a medal, not licensed for progeny, this is our reality, living in bubbles, elaborate defenses, that’s what this is really good at, what’s going in the sixties, what its for, its about the psychology of our own human silliness, delightfully frothy, that first giant step, man got a hotfoot, he ran back with the tale between his legs, Neil Armstrong, images of flame, page 189, you’ve crawled into your caves, a well appointed cave, Outside, the same thing, always the same stupidity, the long slow painful creep of progress, a lot longer than it took to go right back into the cave again, how long people had without useful technologies, the cave is a metaphor for your set of beliefs, cut out the information coming from the outside, he wants to eat the fake news, he’s blocking people on twitter, you’re cancelled, cancer culture, once you start blocking…, he thinks what he hears in the building, what the army tells them, radiation proof cars, why should we?, don’t you ever wanna look at that guy’s voting record?, cutting off, dis-empowering yourself, you’re walking into the slaughterhouse, don’t listen to him, feels like there’s very little here, just another science fiction story, substantial power, if it were novel length, that experience, The Defenders is the same story from another point of view, City Of Endless Night by Milo Hastings, eggs, don’t shill for Instant Pot until they sponsor the podcast, the free range ones, orange yolks, you can taste the difference, a sad thought, that’s your allotment, the staircase, using the staircase is a transgressive act, do you need a stairway in a mausoleum, by 2000 everybody lived in projects, his grandparents?, three generations?, distorted stories, the history lesson, the old folks home, genetically unsuitable, what makes him unsuitable?, do you want to breed smarter people, suggested by the story but not in the story, we see two of them, the number of actors you need: two guys and a lady who comes in on skype, a tight dystopia, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, co-opted, Westlake was a Manhattanite, New York as a horizontal arcology, the El or the subway, you can walk three blocks, rush hour, you have ruined my life, the spy is a little more reliable, bad for you, a monster behind that dumpster, the big Donald Westlake hits, The Risk Profession, LibriVox, space insurance, the two sides of Westlake, oh man, situational jokeyness, the Dortmunder books, The Hook, Memory, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust’s Money Shot, like Kill Bill, Hard Case Crime, at least sixty novels, Anarchaos, a very slim volume, so many good books, Somebody Owes Me Money, a crime syndicate, wherever he takes you on a journey, still fun, he still makes it work somehow, so funny with his characterization, Greg Bear is the opposite of Donald Westlake, we build the whole thing, you don’t leave him for a second, the way Shakespeare was gifted, a massive loss for Science Fiction, Smoke, endlessly silly ideas beautifully demonstrated, how many movies are made out of Westlake’s stuff, foreign homages, 41 credits as a writer, The Hot Rock, The Grifters, Payback, Jimmy The Kid, Diff’rent Strokes, A Slight Case Of Murder, James Cromwell as the detective, Cops And Robbers, Point Blank, Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, he’s king of like Stephen King, Stephen King loves Westlake, Richard Bachman is named after Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Magnum, P.I., a crisp clear writer, Lawrence Block, fifteen years of great reading.

The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #569 – READALONG: The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #569 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons talk about The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Talked about on today’s show:
The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, Of Men And Monsters, in the shower, bins full of books, homework, no ending coming, the ending was a beginning, a solid ending, absurd in a bleak way, a stinger in the tail, mocking and doing a genre, collection of William Tenn short stories, the William Tenn model of story, absurdist, satirizing, frustrated expectations, Eastward, Ho , The Liberation Of Earth, this dying Earth, a metaphor for Africa, allegory, why he isn’t known as a novelist, to sustain a novel, an overarching belief in something, humans are fucking ridiculous, early on the web, a RealAudio stream, On Venus, Have We Have A Rabbi!, not a word different, “Priests, For Their Learning”, I’ll grow up fast, “Soldiers, For Their Valor”, literally takes place in the next step, “Counselors, For Their Wisdom”, 1000% confidence, William Shakespeare, Tenn taught English for a living, to Sheila Solomon Klass, this place of salvation, a quote from Gulliver’s Travel, “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth”, the land of the giants, a perfect fit, wholly new, puts them in their place, many ancestors to this book, The War Of The Worlds, how any one virtue is require for procurement of any one virtual, cockroaches or mice?, aspiring to the greatness of roaches, things completely outside humanity, the torture room, we’re all monsters, this book is very subversive, a cool idea, only 128 people are left, other tribes of mankind, he knows exactly what he’s doing, torturing these monsters is fine (because they’re not human), oh jeez, naive character, not a great book, misquote the quoter, Of Men And Monsters, easier to grasp, harder, Of Mice And Men, the institution vs the individual, trusting institutions, walking around the factory floor with long hair, your uncle your brother your sister your friend, people will be kind to you, Lenny and the other guy, their relationship, the labouring farm, a lecherous dude, a lecherous lady, navigable relationships, it ends in tragedy, Eric is our dumb character, the way of the world, slowly disabused of that, his uncle was also a fool, its not just we need a new king, government can’t help you really kid, I have no answers for you kid, the answer for Lenny, institutionalizing anything, it can’t care, summarizing Jesse’s point, the idea of the inhumanity of institutions juxtaposed to the human relationships we can have, put a cap on your hairs’ too long, capitalism, migrant labourers, mental handicap, he kills a woman, stop touching the rabbits, stop squeezing the ladies to death, Eric The Only, Eric The Eye, Eric The Outlaw, the church, the government, we can’t trust these human relationships either, about my vanity, folly, all the different tribes hate each other except for their leaders, it’s our planet buddy, a quietist tract, Man is alone in the world, as a young person, a product of his society, a statement about the society he is in, this is their mythology, a Harry Potter type character, destined to learn, smart enough eventually, try not be a roach anymore, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats In The Walls, humans to aliens, roaches to humans, a delicious scene, spending a lot of time analyzing what the aliens are thinking, sprayed by roach spray, hold your breath, count for 500 and run, a hissing whistling sound, a bed for the aliens, played the other way, his whole embarrassment in life is that he’s an only child, his only shame in life, mate with many wives and have massive litters, litters of puppies and kittens and mice and rats, pinkies, the most inhuman thing, mankind has changed, multiple babies at the same time, he’s a throwback, two three is common (up to six), wider hips?, the pill is a thing, restraining the pumping out of babies, over five litters two of them of maximum size, biologically possible but relatively rare, parthenogenesis, making twinning more common, fraternal or identical, old men at twenty, humans modified by a distant change, the religion and creed is pathetic and ridiculous, especially absurd groups of people, the national grouping is like a plains Indian thing, the people, so much worldbuilding here, restricted to Eric’s point of view, a very strange snapshot of the real world, Adam-Troy Castro: ‘imaginative and often witty simple and schematic nobody interesting not even the hero’, William Tenn was not a writer for writers, he was a writer gifted with writing but cursed with the knowledge of how humanity actually is, give ideas, he’s not supposed to be interesting, a traditional writer, I wanna be a writer, characters have to have motivation, what if we had the relationship that we have to ants, how would that go?, we lost Will, what’s wrong with that, Jo Walton, played for laughs, wryly and exclusively Tenn, not funny, but emotionally satisfying, it teaches you something, satisfying in a sense, feature not bug, the first line is a lie, two layers with that title, presented with facts and they’re subverted, how ->*”primitive”*<- people live, where everybody is a generalist, ridiculous leaders, executed or in prison, protests like you see in France or Hong Kong, everybody has to come out, classifying the kind of society, a hunter gatherer society, a social structure of mankind, hierarchy, make sure the food is edible, strange religious customs, cynically implemented, "a primitive people", somebody thought up agriculture, a post agricultural society, fascinating world-building, a hole at the bottom of the wall, alien food, the high absurdity is at is peak, the curtain is drawn away for us, a VCR with random buttons, ads for capitalism, two airplanes crash, a sale on cameras and a light meter, unthinking all hormones, sex with the ladies, being respected by his peers, did my dad have sex with other women because that'd be great if he did?, an inversion, oh my god BASTARD, the malleability of humans, how to take the pain, forced by circumstances into having his own thoughts about how to maybe run his life, forced into consciousness, a relevant book, a lot of people are vegans these days, projecting our own feelings into animals, it can be a pathology, not as obvious a trap, another kind of religion, we're trapped in the same way that Thomas Ligotti is saying we're trapped, a pitiable and curious state of mankind, personality and character rather than a presentment of the facts, Monty Python, Life's a piece of shit when you think of it, depressing and terrible but very accurate, am destiny story, all men are men, whatever magic, ancestor magic, he's the ONLY ONE, making only a good one, are we moving back, the idea of positioning, trying to relate it to mice, nesting in the spaces you aren’t, trees are fucking cold you don’t want to be in a tree, jars with lids, we crush them, Eric lives in the kitchen/bedroom, they have furniture, food, roach spray, one of them damn roaches again, and mysteriously everybody died, if its a depressing idea its a problem with the reader’s attitude, the novel is actually uplifting, deeply aesthetically satisfying (and upsetting on some level), the absurd reality of some man’s life, a sequel coming, a 1963 magazine, in Galaxy Magazine, the non-ephemeral nature of the paperback, if you didn’t get it that month you’ll never get it again, a physical copy of this book, a token of an achievement, a magazine feels like a newspaper, a childish way of looking at it, I’m not sure I can trust my sense, A Lamp From Medusa, a classic for our time, putting it in a package, a life of republication, what makes something a classic for the ages?, “Jesse, Moby-Dick‘s a famous book”, this novella was a classic of science fiction?, its not famous, a lost classic of science fiction, Richie Rich and Casper stuff…, so much going on in a short period of time, not a word wasted, fight for inclusion in a canon of anthropological science fiction, what is society, why do people do the things that we do, how do we know the things we know?, it keeps us sharp, received morality, the banality of evil, they did the crime so they need to do the time, abuse heaped up prisoners, that’s how the institution works, a layer was being peeled from your eye every few pages, my uncle’s not a hero?, we’re going to go into space!, an alternate interpretation, getting Eric out of the way, betrayed!, the French Revolution, restore the French monarchy, human science for humans, everything feeds into my podcast, The Penny Dreadfuls, The Brothers Faversham, satarizing everything, Richard E. Grant, The Scarlet Pimpernel, a proto-superhero, Maximilien Robespierre, how dare you!, why it came to this, why The Terror is happening, he didn’t have time for my speech, all of this farce of what caused the French Revolution, to take the other’s point of view as it is vs. the reality as we’ve framed it, the three estates, all three equal, choppin’ off heads is a good idea, once you get started breaking norms…, the effects of the French Revolution are still being felt, the Russian Revolution, the new word “adversary”, what the fuck you talking about, they like food and they enjoy TV, the button that Tenn is pressing, we like it a lot, a more obscure one, he’s a good writer and he’s got a nice sense of irony, a modern science fictional version of Jonathan Swift, slightly different from Robert Sheckley, slightly different from Douglas Adams, the broad brush, my loins are particularly tasty I’ve been fattening myself up, a Mark Twain-ness, this would make a really good audio drama, the sense of the big and the small, Oh, I’d really like to become a man, oooh she’s sexy, I hope somebody adapts it for an audio drama, Philip Jose Farmer, deeply sincere fictional beliefs, Will has that sense of humour, Phil Chenevert does a lot of Conan, he’s more whimsical, he’s is the naive light and fluffy, he’s perfect for this, The Slithering Shadow, a perfect Robert E. Howard voice, characterizing the writing as a gender, a combination of sensuousness and tooth and claw, perfectly attuned to Phil Chenevert’s voice, we’re laughing along, Donald E. Westlake’s The Spy In The Elevator.

Of Monsters And Men - Boris prelim

Of Men And Monsters by William Tenn, 1968 paperback illustration by Stephen Miller

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #194 – The Altar by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #194

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Altar by Robert Sheckley

The Altar was first published in Fantastic, July-August 1953.

Here’s a link to the PDF of the story.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

Reading, Short And Deep #180 – Keep Your Shape by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #180

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Keep Your Shape by Robert Sheckley

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

Keep Your Shape was first published in Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1953.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson