The SFFaudio Podcast #510 – READALONG: Understand by Ted Chiang

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #510 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Wayne June talk about Understand by Ted Chiang

Talked about on today’s show:
still alive, still putting out stuff, novelette, an interesting topic, intelligence and stupidity, pair things up, an interesting and complex topic, the school system, true features, a story about an incredibly stupid guy, the title is not intelligence, a long traditon in Science Fiction, Flowers For Algernon, the arc that happens within it, Idiocracy (2006), The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, a lot of bad answers, a short theory, first impression, so success and smartness, very successful stupid people, Bill Maher on Stan Lee, wrong about a long of things, Jerry Springer, propelling interest, a calculated effect, a bigger issue, a Reading, Short And Deep, on YouTube, its about awareness, the “bubble” you’re in, the blinders you have, going back to first principles, how do you know what you think you know?, epistemology, jargon, technical talk, very skilled, you have to be super-intelligent to have written it, very studied, the integration of hard science into the story, super smooth, Arrival (2016), Story Of Your Life, the audiobook by Todd McClaren, the BBC version, a response to Flowers For Algernon, spinning out implications, fatal error, the end of the story, hypercritical, such a great metaphor, he’s a bomb, he’s about to go off, where he was coming from, lofty concepts, meta-cognition or thinking about one’s thinking, computer science, artificial intelligence, being self-aware, the nature of consciousness, the limits of our consciousness, hormone k, how far will intelligence get us, Leon and Reynolds, how to use it, conflicting philosophies and moralities, I I I, save the planet, how selfish Leon is, go transcendental, changing whole industries, the good guy won, the whole view of the outside world, the normals and their world, aesthetics and beauty vs. saving the world from itself, who are you to decide?, threw Wayne for a loop, kinda monstrous, admirable, Eric S. Rabkin, one of the few people alive I want to read, how do you think he made this?, as we see his growth, Limitless (2011), don’t bother with the TV show, super creative, stock market trading, the book, methamphetamine, set in the future, Asimov’s, August 1991, The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, came out 2001, tweaking, in manic mode, less about accumulating new knowledge, going over and over and over, the way this story gives you the sense of intelligence growth, playing ahead, if this happens then this will happen, hacks in to a terminal at his doctor’s office, service port, a desktop safe, bio-metric device with a service port, all these steps to think ahead, what we think of as chess, teaching chess, constricting an opponents movements, fewer choices, anticipating, gestalt, an organized whole that is perceived than more than the sum of its parts, micromanaging details of everything, the gestalt of everything, the ultimate meaning of everything, as a result of his powers, read a person’s body language, intentions and nature, the smell of their pheromones, microscopic details, one little thing, the whole is much more than the sum of their parts, Sherlock Holmes to the nth degree, time chess to speed chess, transcendental enlightenment, he’s Buddha, the point of the story, an infinite staircase, close to futile, other creature’s intelligence, a critical mass thing, reading a Lovecraft story, consonance and resonance and sonar, animals that use sonar, bats and whales, sperm whales, massive resonance chambers, free divers, six times the size of a human brain, they have no hands, can’t forge metal, and have no writing implements, Icarus and Daedalus, father and son, godlike in their abilities, just like in Watchmen, already won, already in the trap, the note at the doctor’s office, gloating, his undoing, a real thing and a real phenomenon, vocabulary words, that gestalt and that surprise, the guy with the psychedelic shirt, an Inception (2010) story, literally happening all around us, advertising, my friend Maissa Bessada, skeletons, lesbians, two more skeletons, a pattern of acceptance and dissolving your preconceptions, that scene in Total Recall (1990), this is exactly why this is so effective (is because it can be so affective), René Girard’s triangular desire or mimetic desire, other monkeys, supreme manipulators, don’t participate or try to minimize it, the dominant chatter, chatter controls action, a slowdown, intelligence as getting what you want, what drops out of the story is everybody else in society, what makes Reynolds the good guy, a group animal, meaning and intelligence are tied together in a strong way, bad at math, can brain damage make you better at math?, his regret is evident, idiot savants, the CIA, Greco, accurate in assessing Reynolds, a reliable narrator, merely a savior, his judgement is optimal, how he justifies himself, people don’t trust themselves, a meta-human, how we’re supposed to think of him, once as an experiment on a drug dealer, testing your power, Joe Rogan, UFC, which system of fighting is the best system, how do you test it?, which techniques is really better, jujitsu, Steven Seagal, all about the testing, what techniques work, testing our limits, what animals do when they’re young, a drug dealer, drug users, a beneficent god in a certain sense, not without sin, not necessarily unironic, I dissolve, Word is capitalized, the Logos, page 116, the sentence that when uttered will destroy the mind of the listener, it makes the title a really clever punchline, meta-awareness, self-awareness, ultimate understanding, taxing the limits of the structure of my brain, tricks him into understanding, the trap, he’d already programmed him, triggering the word, he got what he wanted, very good, a really clever punchline, less science than it is fantasy, fetal brain tissue, repair when not rejected, anoxia, damage more parts of his brain, his former life, there’s no girlfriend, a business, looking at Understand through the lens of The Dark Fields, a line from The Great Gatsby, a book about people without purpose, enhancing what you have, about methamphetamine, to speed people up, more active, paradoxical effect, your brain is not an engine, the Le Mans 24 hour race, the continual racing, testing to endure, an extended amount of high performance, Reynold’s weapon, implants the mandala, beyond his endurance, a metaphor, composing poetry, emotional impacts from words, the right combination of words can make an audience explode, pointing to real things, how writers and ad writers get their money, an impact on the reader, we change our lives, we sacrifice peoples lives for words, more real than most things, those whales without tools, they have lives we can never understand, what they’re communicating and how they even live and hunt is incredibly complex, very rare, the lives of beings that are not like us, Lucy (2014), psychokinetics, Morgan Freeman babbling, that stupid bullshit, most people don’t use the engine at maximum RPM, sleep, rest for the cars engine, a new air filter, stress tests, adrenalin, a super fuel, super good, Mr Jim Moon puts out a lot of podcasts, working smart, have a plan and be open, wherever you can get progress you push, the journey of a thousand miles, Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Devil’s in the details, navigating and picking which ones to go with, attempts at wisdom, when smart people say stupid things, committed to a system or a person, made commitments that they were unwilling to examine, Exhalation, a robot who opens up his own brain, the Galen of the robot universe that he lives in, pneumatic, a self-consistent brilliant idea, examining the internal to examine the external, Jesse’s not a drug guy, the brain is thinking, the body is thinking, so inside your own brain, focus, memory and thought and action, a brilliant guy, amazing stories, he can’t really tell the truth here, he knows what truth sounds like and it sounds like this, that poetic canto, the art, two naked dudes, a skull brain, climbing out of his own brain, representing out two main characters, a metaphor for the hyper-intelligence, a symbol, not the size of your brain, brain body ratio, Protector by Larry Niven, a particular drive, how certain kinds of intelligence to survive, hummingbirds, we can create niche (or destroy the niche) we’re in, there are stupid people, lead, fetal alcohol, no comic books for 20 years, behavior, the right habits, intention and purpose, a self appointed savior, incompatible, almost into programing, no quotation marks, the meta-textual text you may miss in the audio, only one bit that tells you its in the future, Pittsburgh, white air filter masks, not necessarily a pollution thing, hoodies, restricting vision, feeling cozy, women are more likely to wear masks, all sorts of reasons, welder masks, keeping skin pale, it allows you to hide, license to do it, you’re the crazy ones, a critical mass, trends, everybody used to wear hats, the fashion man, smoking their asses off, vaping, people who would have been ashamed to be smoking, wearing baseball hats, cowboy hats, fake street kids, $200 t-shirts, strange phenomenon, what makes this story fantastic (fantasy), could there ever be a drug or hormone, a metaphor for a kind of approach to that direction, like the ending of Dagon, past tense with present tense interruptions, we don’t expect the ending because told first person in present tense, “I’m standing” not “I was standing”, Ted Chiang is doing what Reynolds is doing and we’re the protagonists.

Understand by Ted Chiang

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #506 – READALONG: Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #506 – Jesse, Scott, and Paul Weimer talk about Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Talked about on today’s show:
1953/1954, people and animals getting smarter on the Earth, Space Science Fiction, the 2nd half was never published, the first half is public domain, Greg Bear and Poul Anderson’s daughter, bad logic, a strange curiosity, 1953, oh crap my subscription’s lapsed!, The Escape, putting Poul Anderson on notice!, Scott’s prediction, idea science fiction, fantastic, very good, the reviews, what people love about it, too short?, 164 pages, Archie Brock, Jesse is not here to poop on the book, the imagery, the opening, Ray Bradbury, an elephant, a chimpanzee with a shotgun, these covers are weird, not a novel about an animal uprising, that’s not what you see mostly, didn’t come to fruition, throwaway stuff, a revolution in Africa, a one off, gorillas organizing, Protector by Larry Niven, A Fire Upon The Deep by Vernor Vinge, the laws of thought in different in different parts of the galaxy, Earth is in the slow zone, stories that nest within this premise, a dampening field was turned off, echoes in other stories about intelligence or stupidity, Anderson didn’t say enough, it wasn’t philosophical enough, the dog, reflection on motivation, reading news reports, the Chinese army has defected, characters coming up with explanations for other characters to shoot down, a shotgun approach, the Goodreads reviews, a good idea for a bunch of different writers to tackle, Mike Resnick can take a bone and chew on it real good, Rachel In Love by Pat Murphy, Flowers For Algernon, a lack of focus, a whole novel about that farm, what does it mean to be smart, people going crazy, its better to be stupid (so as to not be unhappy), a philosophical meditation or exploration, among the scientists, cut the book up, the space stuff is supposed to make us think, is there something that we don’t see?, that’s amazing, no backup systems, no safeguards, an arrogance there, hubris!, racing brains, manic, what about the insects?, the pigs, it almost turned into Animal Farm for a minute, how George Orwell’s novel can be explained, bees, ants, social insects, the higher animals, working at real speed, shrew to humans, reptiles, fish, what about all the aquatic mammals, dolphins and whales, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish, he isn’t really interested in the animals except on the farm, 5 times boost, critical mass, let’s explore what intelligence is, is this about school?, more facts, more history, math, train you up, a useful and functional member of society, quitting your job and moving to the country, Clifford D. Simak’s City stories, it’s not a metaphor, what Anderson thinks education is about, they never make the whole planet dumb, a sidebar, save humanity by making it dumb, so 2018, The Food Of The Gods by H.G. Wells, an apple the size of a basketball (or bigger), a scientific adventure romance, a fabulation, a fertilizer that boosts production, the ultimate result, a homeostasis, profits are always temporary, no eternal profits (or prophets either), very sparky for ideas, no answers, a real thorny issue, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Scott is surprised, if you multiply everyone’s intelligence by 5 the system we live in will fall apart, rote jobs, the elevator job, the farm job, Sheila wasn’t very bookish (was looking into the abyss), Jesse doesn’t know what intelligence is, very pleasant house frau, deep conversations, dissatisfied, I don’t want to know, red pill blue pill, is that intelligence, so small, people don’t enjoy things except for food, bad coffee, super geniuses on top of super geniuses, IQ, what IQ tests are, we’ve got morons and we’ve got imbeciles, problematic language, disability to the mean, mental disabilities, mental classes, does existential angst only kick-in at a certain intelligence class?, sphere of influence, put things back the way it was, there wasn’t a universal thesis, intelligence is a bag, this explains voting, you guys aren’t doing it right, “if everybody got a 5x boost Hillary would be president”, why not the American army, ho one gets classified as an officer (vs. a grunt), why is Sgt. Rock a sergeant, the iconic Nick Fury (and his Howling Commandos), the top of the competence chain, he isn’t saying specific, no single thesis, what is intelligence, bad at math good at smelling bullshit, sometimes stupid sometimes smart, gradients or thresholds, here’s a massive effect, why do so many move to the country?, circumstances and limitations, intellectual limitations vs. vs. power limitations, the rabbit has not hand, power and manipulation, no matter how smart dolphins are they don’t impact us?, what’s a dolphin going to do with a ship?, what’s in the black box (underneath)?, Jesse will shut up for a while, no evolutionary pressure to increase intelligence after a certain level, no supersingularity civilizations, humans can now explore the galaxy, what is that going to do?, human-alien relations, story possibilities, now what?, leaving it hopeful at the end, categories of human, the level we used to be, good luck and godspeed, neanderthals and homo sapiens, recolonize the earth, what the pigs have to say about being slaughtered, veganism, pigs are ok to eat because they’re yummy, negotiations, mutually yummy, we’re mutually yummy, chicken eggs, how much is language importance to intelligence?, dogs and pigs and the elephant, a new logical language, natural shorthand, efficiency of communication, pretty hungry, now the sheep knows what’s happening, cows don’t want to go in the slaughterhouse, in the queue, I’ve heard Bessie, what does this mean?, an animal with human level intelligence and no thumbs and no fire, new sets of questions, selection pressure, no hands and no speech, Lawrence M. Schoen’s Barsk, uplift, Startide Rising by David Brin, a driving thesis, it doesn’t really work that way, reading the gossip column, poetry is making her depressed, we need to develop a new philosophy, usually the problems, what is the new relationship on the farm going to be?, what should happen?, should we stop eating meat?, if pigs were intelligent(er), lots of experience with cows, feral pigs in Texas, vegetarianism, dairy, slaughtering animals for meat, another thing Anderson doesn’t think about, what about Africa?, Mountain Lions are lions, they can’t eat vegetables, carnivores, what are the predator prey dynamics, birds of prey, intelligence is associated with hunting, instincts to huddle up and get in the center, runaway or get to the center, hide and kill, wolves, stalk, kill, a major disruptor of ecology, what will the wolves do, Traveller (RPG), the entire Earth’s ecology will be disrupted, what we don’t see, the amount of time spent under tutelage, both kids in college, an empty nest, 18 years in the nest, most animals, insects and snakes never meet their parents, hunting skills, a full fledged member of the group, the cultural tools, linguistic tools, not just for poetry, much more to be said on this topic, a place to spark ideas from, not the end word on it, from Locus magazine, what five books would I like to be remembered for? Tau Zero, Mid Summer Tempest, The Boat Of A Million Year, Three Hearts And Three Lions, The Enemy Stars, Brain Wave, what science fiction does best, maybe one more chance, thank you Paul, he didn’t put the High Crusade on the list, Call Me Joe, funny and fun.

Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
Space Science Fiction, September 1953
BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Brain Wave by Poul Anderson

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #147 – The Die-Hard by Alfred Bester

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #147

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Die-Hard by Alfred Bester
Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Die-Hard was first published in Starburst, 1958.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #500 – READALONG: The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #500 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada talk about The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

Talked about on today’s show:
So it goes, the natives don’t like Paul, stop raping, a novella, dense, Again, Dangerous Vision edited by Harlan Ellison, out like a rocket, commissioned in the ’70s, the introduction and the afterword, easy to write, a boss with ulcers, lacking charity, anthropology, an army planet, a metaphor for Vietnam, wood, sawmill workers, not all that it was, Dump Island, ansible, gender, the role of women, the whole Biblical thing, a Prometheus story, The Streets Of Ashkelon by Harry Harrison, Avatar (2009), Dances With Wolves (1990), thinking in the shower, The Power Of Kroll, a giant Cthulhu monster, nasty colonizers, Creechies, Ben and Sam, Gunga Din, Rudyard Kipling, strange conclusion, a lover of the exotic, unconscious of his own hypocrisy, a really good writer, very praising, effortless and beautiful to read, two pieces of yesterday, a ship-load of women, a crop failure, tame this planet, smiling jiggling line of little figures, effortless, The Lathe Of Heaven, Portland, the geography on New Tahiti, mostly ocean, how can you have a northwest corner?, all kinds of jungle, temperate rainforest, things don’t start growing on your purse, Costa Rica, clothes never dry, go naked, beautiful beyond words, life expressing itself in every corner, sound-wise, bugs and birds and frogs, the smells the sights the sounds, confronted and embraced, exhausting and wet, insects are the measure of how much life is going on, horrible insects, the giant red deer, fish, squirrels, her boss, it had been done before, come from Earth about a million years ago, monkey, her Hanish-verse, names of trees, a conspiracy, right but wrong, if you listen to those E.T.s, everything from sex to thumbtacks, gook, creatures!, green fur, super-asshole, Davidson, a split-rail fence, first reefer of the day, it might have been Idaho in 1950, a distant bird, what is undeveloped, so connected to the Lathe Of Heaven, you can’t beat them, round up the ringleaders and threaten to give them hallucinogens, from Selver’s point of view, dreams, that’s implied, a built up culture, oblique glimpses, another guy named Orr, cool!, training to dream, they never sleep, a broken sleep cycle, cat-nap your way through life, active dreaming, forges, wheels, helicopters, and laser guns, the good news about reading Ursula Le Guin, witch-doctors, the men’s lodge, lord dreamer, tell me about your dream Selver, killing all the guys at Smithcamp, a stepping stone, in the pre-story, a hot afternoon with two prostitutes, 220 other women, aliens came, “went spla”, how could they be to blame, a god, a Promethean technology, ideas as weapons, Jack Vance, weaponizing a culture by means of ideas, had he learned to kill his fellow men, an infection, a foreign plague, a psychological psionics, a raincoast, a physical change to the landscape, the same is happening to Davidson, your thinking gets all screwed up, hard to know, company, helicopter logging, by that point in the story, they’re kinda loose, lumberjacks and flapjacks, chopping down trees, wearing high heels, a looseness to the military, captain vs. colonel, the army and creechies, a whole section, the ansible anagram, two different directions, the U.N., smash the radio, how a place affects you, with your person and your purse, Collapse by Jared Diamond, the Medieval warm period, unsuitable ways, winter is coming, refusing the ways of the Inuit, Thailand, the hotel food, the hotel water, the Hilton is not Thailand, rejecting the whole part of the plot, the smash, transmitting false information, this machina ex machina, answerable within your own lifetime for what you did, the League Of Worlds, administering the American Empire, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, NAFAL, the economics, luxury goods, a kid in Chicago, rats, a nightmare, a powerful image, the Tet offensive, who the creechies are, deforestation, defoliant, massive swaths, agent orange, under that plan, Brazil, another dead Earth, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, a minor story, city?, warrens, Sarnath, India, H.P. Lovecraft, The Doom That Came To Sarnath, summary, subject to interpretation, Jason Thompson‘s adaptation, isolation, solitary, an out, I’m a god you’re a god, going native, bringing life back, a backdoor, maybe in 20 or 30 years, what will happen when I die?, the gift of killing, always touching each other, Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, go me!, murder has no reason, what’s going to happen?, interest in dreams and reality, everybody knows Scott, how simple truth was, famous for flying, if we knew what everything was, perception errors, what the word dream means in this context, dreaming the previous days information, pieces of yesterday, paying attention to it, great detail, every time we go to sleep its like we’re rebooting, hard to see the difference between, alternate New York City, what is a book if not a dream, it has no physical consequence excepting piling up, Karl Marx changed the world, George Orwell, taken from the world and then dream, her dreams are more real than she is now, Philip K. Dick’s dreams are more real than he is now, dreamed into existence, an E.E.G. subject, the Parthenon to a mud-hut, the aboriginal cultural of Australia, the Dreamtime, counting coins, shared dreaming, trees communicating to each other, considered as the trees, page 35, things looked pretty neat for a logging camp, endless meaningless, in your face and in your eyes, corruplast, eaten by the jungle, a permanent stain, being newed again, the world is always new, the creechie women, why the women listen, the afterword, the boss is a man, he didn’t want to play, he wanted to moralize, he was a man, when women are taking more assertiveness with their role in society, what feminists should be looking up to, the role of gender, The Left Hand Of Darkness, a lot of tea, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, too much kicking, what makes a gender role a gender role, captured incredibly well, George Orr, murder and revolution, a feminist streak, the ecological devastation, an act of rape, this is a new time for the world, at the farthest grows the Tree where the fruit ripens, the roots are deeper than the forest, no evidence that the creechies aren’t human, Colonel Dong, not really about Vietnam, every kind of human is represented (other than women), Euraf, Asian, all in destruction together, ill, bowels, water illness, when you go to the jungle you get bit, Selver’s name, self, selfish, subversive, kinda Buddhist, Taoist beliefs, Tibet, the land of Buddhists, Tibetans who resisted with weapons, shooting at your enemy, submission poses, certain traditions, surrender symbols, it doesn’t have answers, a lot of questions, terran man is clay, they are trees, Earth is rock and static, Trees have roots and grow and are more interconnected, not as rich as Dune by Frank Herbert, the desert planet, Waterworld (1995), the culture is deceptively rich, a pretty high rung, a good writer, CBC radio’s Vanishing Point adaptation from 1989, too much screaming, we don’t see it, straight from the book, very faithful, singing = screaming, a weird noise, a fantasy set in a rainforest, played on the title, probably pulling, urination, not concepts!, language!, reading books, no censorship, hygienic homosexuality, sure he’s a 20th century tough guy, what does that mean?, she’s way ahead of the curve, so ahead of its time, straight on with what is a gender role, this metaphor, what does that mean?, why Ursula Le Guin has a prominent position, always interested in interesting stuff, a pipe-smoker, just Gandalf, pipeweed.

Again, Dangerous Visions - The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

BOOK OF THE ROAD - The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Word For World Is Forest - illustrated by Peter Eleson

Berkley - The Word For World Is Forest

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #144 – The Revolt Of The… by Robert Barr

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #144

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Revolt Of The… by Robert Barr

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Revolt Of The… was first published in The Idler, May 1894.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #494 – AUDIOBOOK: News From Nowhere by William Morris

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #494 – News From Nowhere by William Morris, read by Elizabeth Klett.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (7 hours 15 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.

News From Nowhere was first published as a serial in The Commonweal (The Official Journal Of The Socialist League), January 11th to October 4 1890.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

News From Nowhere by William Morris

News From Nowhere An Epoch Of Rest

Posted by Jesse Willis