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!
The 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.