The SFFaudio Podcast #513 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg
Talked about on today’s show:
a serial in Galaxy July and September 1972, 41 years old, out of context, people getting grumpy, autobiographical?, writing himself into his book, unnerving, “problematic”, you wont like anything, very well written, censoring oneself, all internal thoughts, a thoughtful interesting book, an interior book, racial slurs, the fakest parts are the plot points, going around in elevators, how other people perceive him at parties, the Lumumba incident, getting beaten up, ghosting student essays, websites that advertise these services, students required to submit, text comparison, tuning the voice, Columbia University, a cat and mouse game, young and strong, failing powers, a real person, the most clumsy, detecting lies, becoming telepaths, getting vibes, a metaphor for (if not science fiction), curious, casual or romantic or natural experiments, the drug scene, trapped in our own heads, comparing actions with words, complaining about the essay, super-resentful, this is not going to work out well, he’s broke all the time, so dependent on his powers, how to deal with somebody, the whole Kitty storyline, Ted Chiang’s Understand, invisible to the superpower, a cheat or not a cheat, “defend”, a science fiction novel in which the narrator is uninterested in the rules behind it, the author hasn’t revealed the rules to the narrator, he’s AM and she’s FM, undistinguished in everything, she doesn’t put up a defense, paranoid, unlock her telepathic mind, a crepazoid being creepy, annoying, bringing your psychiatry on your wife, Charlaine Harris’ Dead Until Dark, what makes that a fantasy book, a fascinating attraction, would she have read this?, an avid reader in the 1970s, one of Silverberg’s best, as a metaphor, superbpaper.com, need help with your assignment, “we can write any paper on any subject on any deadline”, $29 per page, testimonials, making people have skills, Jesse has a lot of homework to do, Jesse’s not doing this for money, Jesse has the telepathy within narrow range, I’m dignified, he’s barely in the economy, people thinking sentences in their head, “he thinks in French”, Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, a shared document, Nixon shows up in a motorcade, if this book is a metaphor, trying to be telepathic with a later audience, Isaac Asimov, Lawrence Block, they communicate their ideas super-clearly, Greg Bear’s ideas, to him it makes sense, writing as telepathy, a writer’s inability to write, the autobiographical elements, things get thin until the 1980s, there’s life inside, the life may return, a massive output from the 1950s through the 1960s, the next novel is Lord Valentine’s Castle (eight year’s later), The Stochastic Man, Shadrach And The Furnace, The Book Of Skulls, like 50 stories in 1956, the same if not more, the magazine industry, Harlan Ellison, Donald Westlake, sleeze novels, writing pornography, that wonderful sequence, hopping from mind to mind, the bee, the girl, the farmer, the full fulmination of his power, why its a tragic story, wunderkind, a pathetic shlub, cheat his way through life, stockbroker, Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields, inside information, insider trading, Dr. Hitner, the radio drama adaptation, read comic books and enjoy myself, when he gets into a fight, telegraphed, a rag-doll to be tossed about, have sex with girls is his major ambition, Paul’s own life, why Jesse has to make such pains to distinguish himself, volatile, a lot of parallels here, supermen aren’t going to be what you think they are, in dialogue with Slan by A.E. van Vogt, “slans are schlubs”, every allusion and reference, poets, painters, playwrights, philosophers, scientists, replete with thinking about books, a very philosophical novel, Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, The Hampdenshire Wonder by J.D. Beresford, semi-autobiographical, Arthur C. Clarke, he lives in our universe, a little bit too recursive, the 2001 BBC radio drama adaptation, rather condensed, he works at a bookshop, translated into an adaptation, if people complain…, Harlan Ellison and Silverberg, how much filler material they could add, the Aeschylus essay, the Franz Kafka essay in full, The Castle and The Trial, padding, fun reading, recycle some material, so fun to do that, a sad and depressing book?, tonally depressing, comparing your own life to Selig’s, The Book Of Skulls, holding back information, a very good writer, a promise to the reader, when is he composing this narrative?, nicely constructed, a blank in his history, distancing himself from himself, cheating, things are a little tight this month, because he’s given something early on in his life, manipulating the moment, if you only have 40 minutes to tell the story, the car section of the bookstore, definitely gay, the musclemen section of the bookstore, a repressed homosexual, the dean, how far you’ve fallen, this guy’s pathetic, reading about rocketships and robots, that actually hits home, he’s doing bad work for money, prostitution, his nephew, meeting Kitty on the street, so many girlfriends, I didn’t get your number but you weren’t there anyway, many many other uncles, here’s a picture of a bomb blowing somebody up, Judith probably told him to say that, the necessity of the face and the smile is the new truth, he could see beneath that truth, they’re told to smile, seeing below the surface is a grim reality, self-motivated, if you can take that away, they’re delighted to meet you, “I feel your pain.”, disdain for politicians, a very nice character piece on why it might not be so great to be telepathic, almost like growing up and not being a liar, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, Robert A. Heinlein, “Selig’s Complaint”, Silverberg could exist without Heinlein, parallel tracks (not tracts), Judith Beheading Holofernes, parallels with Judith of the bible, a nice jewish girl’s name, Zelig (1983), first observed at a part by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the secret history of reality, Selig’s death would mean almost nothing, an incredibly underwhelming superpower, the new wave, Alfred Bester, diddly shit, the jive-speak voice, keeps failing, Jesse wrote a lot of reviews, if its just a book, if its just a book then the temptation is to shit on it, baggage of your own, the demand for reviews, writing is a superpower you can waste by using a metaphor too much, sick of the treadmill, SFSignal doesn’t blog anymore (except on Twitter), gone to be a farmer, a different and happier place, the books doesn’t stop, new or underappreciated, still a good book, slightly less stuck in its time, the black dialogue is slightly different now, a historical piece, the power of the book is still with it, having lived through things and done things, “had I read it way back when”, a book for middle aged science fiction readers, they’ll feel it, hey kids you’re going to love Dying Inside!, when you’re young you read books differently, the depth of Selig’s plight, outright sexism, a pathetic character, once you’re inside somebody’s head you pretty much have to forgive them for everything, the crisis crisis, Airplane! (1980), I speak jive, subtitles, the sentences make sense, Diff’rent Strokes, cultures with different languages and vocabularies, well worth it.
The SFFaudio Podcast #488 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, Bryan Alexander, and Will talk about Dune: Book III “The Prophet” by Frank Herbert aka the third third of Dune.
Talked about on today’s show:
1965, The Santaroga Barrier, El Santos!, Luke Burrage, the worst part of the book, good stuff in here, amazing, stupendous, and really good, not spectacular, the most spectacular, man to man, a knife fight, the sparkling knife fights of conversation, reading the books for the action, an idea person, heavy on the ideas, the setup, the culmination, splayed out, family atomics, Paul’s analysis, which baby to never see again, it isn’t a Dune problem it’s an every book problem, who wants answers?, Herbert’s answers, it can’t exist without the other two, the only movie we should ever talk about, the scenes, the dialogue is all there, what’s missing, there’s a gun that doesn’t go off, very strange, the gun of Count Fenring, denouement, a friend of an emperor, Fenring vs. Paul, “Count Fenring: A Profile”, within his capabilities, not about Paul, this is Count Fenring’s book, this guy’s the one guy that’s never been in my vision, a lot of promise, what kind of power is it going to be?, the power of invisibility, Kwisatz Haderach, Jesse’s twitter profile, who Jesse modeled himself after, I don’t want that mantle, about the accretion of power, why Dune Messiah is such a fantastic book, private language, they did seduce Feyd, the Imperium beyond the Harkonnens, Russian Czar’s abdication, even if Fenring could defeat and kill Paul it wouldn’t stop anything, tapping into the collective consciousness, a Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Handerson quadrology, no attempt has ever been completed, walking wounded, sterile, a could-have-been, a powerless eunuch, forty or fifty pages where Paul isn’t mentioned, worldbuilding, Leto II, Alia lives, seeing all ends, the surfer on the wave, a lot of smart folks anticipating, the flags, C.H.O.A.M. or U.N., does that mean the bombs don’t hurt?, cover, saves the emperor’s life, a beautiful cruel joke, to reign in Hell, soft and wonderful, straight from the Iliad, too comfortable, from their decadence, a callback to the Trojan War, rest and pay taxes, Ottoman Janissaries, going crazy without a purpose, all the what ifs, suppose Paul dies, kill the rest of the universe, a tyrannical genocide, let’s go conquer the galaxy, destroy the spice, galactic civilization collapses, interstellar society, the best possible outcome, a Boethian decision, Book II, parallel structure, ooh I’m smart, happy birthday, it makes you feel like a supergenius, plans within plans feints within feints, combat to the death, another parallel, Feyd tries to take the Baron’s position, Thufir’s blindside, the Baron is so lovably evil (and competent), make Arrakis great again?, gluttonous lust, the slaveboy with a posion stinger in his thigh, let Feyd think that I saw it myself, actually I’m the smart one, Nefud, you still need me, I’m going to show you still need me, I’m going to remember this, the next scene that we never see, killing his harem, to take his punishment, Alia sting, Stilgar’s challenge for Paul’s leadership, should I cut off my right arm, so well highlighted, a fear-power relationship vs. a love-power relationship, the Baron hates truthsayers, the Bush administration, it could be true that’s good enough, truth means nothing, for the sake of tradition, ride the maker, this idea of history or necessity, bought a Bene Gesserit, you pay for that Amazon Echo dot but Amazon should be paying you, you know my tastes, I’m totally gay, the straight up interpretation, I don’t want them spying on me and manipulating me, on the Kinsey scale, other ways of getting semen, one would be valuable for…, advice, I trust them not, changing the subject, when Thufir has a fight with the Baron, there are things that you don’t need to know, Salusa Secundus, that tiny little fact (that the Baron wanted to turn the Arrakis into a prison planet), you fucked up, Rabban has to be cut off, the whole of the missing years, at least three years, the toddler, to save himself from the emperor, how the sardaukar are created, a spare heir, acting instinctually smartly, a political calculation that saves the Emperor’s life, to tame Thufir Hawat, making all the right chess moves, the Baron’s fate is not as forseeable, Baron Harkonnen did nothing wrong!, shall I dispatch her now Emperor, a victory for her brother, the revenge, kills her own grandfather, justice, this poor Baron, still ends up dead, a brilliance to this, easy to dismiss, everybody here is a monster, you should be afraid of Paul, Gurney gets an Earldom, and every surviving Atredies gets a title, Baronets all over the place, massive reward, this victory, the prophet Mohamed, all the Muslim lands, satrapys, Alexander the Great, Leopold II, plundering Africa, squeezing and squeezing, always a touch of the calculated, not from the heart, wanting everyone loyal, I NEED him, he’s a tool, forget the equipment, we need men now, like in the first book, shortly thereafter, not what the old Atredies would have done, regretting the loss of the equipment, the men vs. the equipment, nicely balanced parallel, the appeal of Paul, one of many many games, a fantastic power fantasy, Slan, the X-Men, Kyle MacLachlan, master of the universe, age 14, Achilles was 17 in the Iliad, cheeks too full for the desert, seductive, quietly undermining, if Aragorn was the main character in The Lord Of The Rings, Voltaire, tend your own garden, Irulan, how cruel Paul is to Irulan, I’m gonna treat her so bad baby!, Irulan plotting to kill Paul, the ultimate internal question, religion and politics in the same cart, the ultimate power fantasy for Paul, this quote is fantastic, treating Herbert as non-fiction, the Amish, that orthodox effort, that moment of peace for Paul and Chani, quiet hypocrisy, “terrible purpose” is repeated 23 times, another change, feeling it, a nice lady who has a little test for a little boy, the heat and pain pile, an iconic scene for all of science fiction, I see the truth of it, explosion of realization in the mental sphere, a drug book, Gaius Helen Mohiam appears like a witch, kind of kind, wench poured my water, her apprentice, you disobeyed your orders, until she shows up here at the end, how is she depicted, this child is an abomination!, is it TP? telepathy?, just like when I was getting consciousness uploaded when I was a girl, is she wrong?, mom shouldn’t do drugs when she is pregnant, making the sacrifice, child genius, leading a regiment at age 3, she’s meant to be the bad guy, we’re supposed to recoil, the coming jihad, only a glimpse, the dark future, this desert power, addicted to oil, solar power, Dune solved, when they go too far, only spice powered, no solar, no wind, cutting-off avenues of caught, Jesse is not Elon Musk’s team, artificial intelligence, AI as a weapon, hippy dippy engineering sociologist anthropology guy, terraforming, this is about O.P.E.C., the Hudson’s Bay Company or the East India Company, his stock in CHOAM is forfeit, brutal indignity, title rich and money poor, the role of oil, Butlerian Jihad as a useful phrase, techlash, jihad is not a word that sells well today, biased data, accentuating inequalities, dreadful flavour, future history, Isaac Asimov’s future history, tinkering back towards that, cast away AIs, the decline of Empire, science as priesthoods, that last Cold War, Giving Up The Gun by Noel Perrin, banning crossbows, giving up nuclear stockpiles, blew their noses off, high technology and its opposite, star spanning starcraft and medieval style politics, how Marissa’s games match her audiobooks, Horizon Zero Dawn, a robot safari, retreating from technology, ruins are computer screens, going back to the Amish, Mennonites, weird policy, no electricity, airpower, blenders running on compressed air, technological policies, what are the ramifications of this technology, landline telephones, cellphone technology, Africa’s wired cellular wallets, digital currency based on cellphone credits, what technology will be useful, Canada’s participation in NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, WarGames (1983), nukes, we took the missiles but not the nuclear tips, Defense Minister and Prime Minster of Canada, advice on top secret stuff, managing treaties, political cost, being in NORAD, Iceland’s invasion during WWII, you can have your country back, a giant bully south of the border, obey the will of the giant country, John Diefenbaker, John F. Kennedy, what Syria is all about, the White Helmets, no giant surprise, an actual machine out there doing work, get on board or find a path through, the Bomarc Missile Crisis, the joint strike fighter debacle, if you look at the history of Canada in the right way, a positive force, Pierre Eliot Trudeau was paling around with Castro, a true image, Cuban doctors, plot machinations in the book mirroring a reality happening in the nows, mushrooms, more Marissa territory, hanging out with that worm, a coma for three weeks, some trip, time opening up, a sniff of a new drug, Feyd’s knife’s poison is transmuted, “poison” appears 117 times in Dune, chief poisoner, the Russian doping epidemic, bend over comrade, early on in book three, she took the coffee and sipped it, Frank Herbert’s at a rock concert, tripping out on the floor is transmuting, hot and delicious, room service, heaven for Jessica, she had thought of coffee and it had appeared, Tau, the subtle poison of the spice diet, enlightenment, their minds rejected what they could not encompass, more Slan, the guide, guided through the trip, Joe Rogan, taking the arrogance out of it, training, the etymology of psychedelic, psyche = soul/mind, delos = clarity/manifest, no mischaracterization, pattern recognition enhancement, seeming like a truth, the way the birds fly, “truth” is in the book 90 times, “pattern” comes up 48 times, the pre-spice mass, gathering up the magic mushrooms, a convenience, metaphorical, the power to destroy a thing is the power to control it, heavy shit, super-dark, science fiction genre history, partaking in jaspers, not the full-dune effect, amphetamines or coffee, town awareness, telepathy, drugs as a huge theme, stimulants, barefoot in the head, Robert Silverberg, Norman Spinrad, 1980, super-anti drugs, an exponent of coffee, Neuromancer, case is strung out all the time, reflecting what was happening in the culture, his case officer, Armitage implants a drug neutralizer, the ultimate solution for Reagan, The Hellgramite Method, how Keith Moon of The Who died, suicide, how science fiction shifts, innerspace going from biological to cyberspace, dated in interesting ways, the role of gender, Planet Of The Apes (1963), where Paul rides the sandworm, making the models feel realistic and big, the worm as a dragon, the Conqueror Worm by Edgar Allan Poe, much of madness more of sin, coffin worm of a dead world, a man making a steed out of a giant god, Reading, Short And Deep, Strange Exodus, gutted cosmic carcass, primal lust, humanity becomes a parasite, the image of man conquering death, it looks like a shot from Dune, a flea on a dog, the ecology, threatening a chain reaction, destroying all the oil like Saddam Huessein during the first Gulf War, not an atomic model, oil and drugs, Jessica’s power to transmute, a superhero story, Doc Savage stuff, if you’re anxious about your body, why Bryan doesn’t like the Lynch movie, minute operations, a weirding module defense in The Appendix show, that interior way, the women dare not look in that place, a place that women can’t go, the balance of the force, controlling the gender of their babies, controlling ovulation, super-yoga, a superpower, ultradiscipline, she didn’t seem to have an inner life, the women in here have huge inner lives, we spend a ton of time in Jessica’s mind, what’s going on in Paul’s mind, he becomes an enigma, the way Jordan Peterson talks about male and female minds, Jessica is a mom then she’s a reverend mom, Paul you do what’s good for you, is her mind expansion there a reflection, if men don’t have father figures, being raised by mothers alone, mothers want to protect their children, toughening, only giving into one instinct, having been tested, why the kwisatz haderach has to be male, the Y chromosome, how midwives are always women, midwives dudes, are male obstetricians uncool?, a caste based thing, training schools, Gurney even went to some school, the Suk school, training academies, he’s a mentat, who is the emperor’s mentat?, male domains and female domains, women’s roles and men’s roles, anthropological science fiction, traditional societies, strict gender roles, a remix of a medieval society, historical framework, Paul as the white savior, a male who solves a female problem, sexism, too easy, how powerful the role of Jessica is, Chani and Jessica and Alia, the brilliant one, the wise one, here too, there has to be a pattern, a version of Dune with Paula Atredies, Leta who bears a daughter, Grass by Sheri S. Tepper, if one was doing a university course on science fiction, one semester for each of Dune’s three books, an amazingly rich text, he’s the baddie, the subversion, from the fourteen year-old’s point of view, a wonderful adventure that makes you feel smart, over and over, a war book, a drug book, history, the Folio Society edition, Scott Lynch, Dracula, Bram Stoker, non of his other books are Dune level, The Dosadi Experiment, Whipping Star, Herbert is playing games of complexity and depth, Gene Wolfe, mind stretching, Samuel Delaney, a mental workout, an emotional workout, The White Plague, The Children Of Men, emotional destruction, taking story into all kinds of places, 159
Talked about on today’s show:
1933, Ira Levin, Gladiator, the first superhero novel, Odd John by Olaf Stapledon, Superman, fleeing a dead world, the sequel: After Worlds Collide, the illustrations in The Passing Show (magazine) serialization, not the only ship, Bronson Beta, Blue Book, the very last page (February 1933), “these daring pilgrims”, remake a world, George Pal’s plans for a sequel, Cecil B. DeMille’s plans for a film, Pal’s would pale, the official adaptation is the least good adaptation, that crappy matte shot, Ransdall smooching his girl while flying his aircraft, Guardians Of The Galaxy, his Kryptonian origin story, spinoffs, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, football, a religious moment, good birth and breeding, the W.A.S.P., precursors and follow-ups, an amazing book, its hard to gage how big a book it was, the “queen of the pulps”, the premier way of getting (fiction) content to the people, the middle of The Depression, daily life-sucks, the Roosevelt administration, the work programs, making the unemployed work, is it simpler than that?, Arkham House, The Outsider And Others by H.P. Lovecraft, maybe it helps to have something worse in mind, The Star by H.G. Wells, Nemesis by Isaac Asimov, Finis by Frank Lillie Pollock, gravitational waves, earthquakes, cooking the earth (microwave style), a long tradition, The Star by Arthur C. Clarke, biblical collections, A Pail Of Air and The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber, Deluge (1933), S. Fowler Wright, the motif of the destruction of of Fantastic Universe, a thugee-romance plot, Meteor (1979), Sean Connery as an SDI scientist, Armageddon, Independence Day, Twitter, Fred, Deep Impact (1998) started life as a remake of When Worlds Collide, the crowning adaptation of is 2012 (2009), so ridiculous, it knows its stupid, the ‘neutrinos mutated’, Battlefield Earth is Ed Wood with a budget, The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010), Lars Von Trier’ Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst and Keifer Sutherland, Forge Of God by Greg Bear, “I have bad news.”, rescued by good aliens, watching the destruction of the Earth, Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall, fan fiction of themselves, Hammer Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, the evolution of the plot ideas, so heavy, the religious elements, her name is EVE, Joyce, handing out sandwiches, the zillionaire, a plane-load of money, an iconic scene, why 2012 works so well, the Russian billionaire and his family, how ambivalent I feel, the role of government, what made Robert A. Heinlein wrote, super-Ayn Rand-y, The Fountainhead, robust and austere, strange-y, a broken-ness, who is funding this?, everybody is working for free, how do you get truckloads and truckloads to a certain place, economics do matter, everybody is working for free, a new metal, the nice horror tour, where did the fuel come from, if Heinlein were writing it, all in secret, how Maissa saw it, tidal waves, weird side digression, The Last Car Chase (1981), Lee Majors, Steve Austin, two theories, one funny, one dark, nouveau riche, old fortunes, just arranged, shiny upstarts get their comeuppance, steel furnaces, punishing the parvenus, so not democratic, Galt’s Gulch, we know better, the magic metal, our ingenuity, weird sexual purity, part of the old money righteousness, South Africa in 1933, no more lions, rich white guys in South Africa, Chapter 8: Marching Orders For The Human Race, ugly houses, the spawn who inhabited it, pollution, 125th street in New York (Harlem), immigration bans, the Lovecraftian racial horror moment, “God himself had sickened with their selfishness”, squalid horror, the golden age of eugenics, the “Jap”, purifying the race, a giant eugenics exercise, even if a cashless economy you have to trade, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, a conspiracy, the first episode of The X-Files, the paean to the Vanderbilt family, set in the mid-20th century, his sister went to school with my mother, the elite, should Jesse bring it up?, huh this is a novel for Hillary voters, its the east coast elites, what is everybody’s problem? why can’t they vote for the right person?, WWI, lining up the machine guns and mowing down the plebes, retreating to their spacecraft and cooking the earth of all the people, a fantasy of many people, it is good to escape the death of the Earth, 2012 addresses all the horror vs. Deep Impact (the government is here to save you), the heroes in space, pathos, way to much love with MSNBC, saccharine horror, cynical comedy, the Paris Hilton looking girl, even Oliver Platt (the baddie) is just trying to get shit done, even the billionaire comes off pretty well, really fun, such a page turner, it’s so good (but it doesn’t deserve it), where are all the rats?, back to World War I, the Noah thing, open the doors, the billion dollar ticket, James Cromwell’s character is a whistleblower, the truth needs to come out, secretary of finance, thinking about the economics, the word “Tony”, our hero from every Robert Heinlein story, “Tony, I’m explaining the plot, Tony.” Tony is slang for expensive, what makes it so gripping, the premise, none of the characters are worth caring about, from Deluge to Meteor, a disaster movie without screen stars, the idea is primary, a race, Edwin Balmer was editor of Red Book magazine, they know how to spin a story, Wilkie Collins: make the worry, make them wait, make them weep, Dunkirk (2017), a ticking clock, what’s in the box?, un-bribe-able, doing this story today, how academia doesn’t matter, the professors, a chief scientist at a chemical company, a private observatory, universities as research machines (since WWII), scary politics, in 1933 the USA had unions, the Battle Of Blair Mountain, the lurking socialism, Eugene Debs, labour unrest, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we’re noble, machine gun them, then burn them, but we’re nice, the same stories are told again and again, choosing who gets to go in the Ark, Tasha Yar gives her baby to Frodo Baggins, black presidents, black Presidents, grounded in individual details, apocalypses are always about escape, an escape from communism, shade thrown on the French and the Germans, the french turn to fascism, planting the French flag for comedic effect, nationalism, labour without labour, race without race, the religious sanction, George Pal’s The War Of The Worlds, the book is big and broad and deep, 44 people and a dog, a dog in 2012 and Independence Day, for they were walking hand-in-hand, a road, the ribbon of it ran right and left, by what hands and for what feet, through Eden took their solitary, a yellow brick road, Tony the guy with no brain, they’re in Oz, the souls of those a hundred million years dead, a Nineveh a Sargon?, the fate of our world, human with bodies like our own?, The Ring, a curse, so tempting, William Blake’s The Tyger, what dread hand and what dread feet, they are the tiger, when the stars threw down their spears, what did the people on this other planet do to be knocked out of their orbit and frozen, how god has graced us with his goodness, us east coast elites, the whole universe , she has a right to my vote, Heinlein can’t be right and Rand can’t be right, it’s just too simple (but its so fun), business and military, more sex and nudeness, the love triangle, oh Tony can’t you understand I can’t make decisions for the future, the other rocket, the other half of the plane in Lost, the setup is so good, one bizarre detail, Chapter 21: Diary, the insulation (books), a first edition of Shelley, a cute idea?, the 2012 movie picks it up, John Cusack’s character, Chewitel Ejifor’s character, Yellowstone, loaded up with the signs of the elites, isn’t it funny that there’s one copy of this books and it just so happens…, in 2012 under a pile beer bottles and bourbon bottles and a copy of Moby Dick, Robert Duvall reads Moby Dick in Deep Impact, ambivalence about lots of things but everybody agrees Moby Dick is terrific, a stand in for god, providing the bees and the books, a distasteful task in the sequel, The Wonder Clock by Howard Pyle, a story about mercy, saving the kids, little moments of mercy, women doing men’s jobs, France, canaries, the radium girls, how women get the vote, when they come for our women, women as possessions, triumph of the patriarchy, the proles are coming for our women, racist and sexist, an atomic rocket in 1932, not even a nuclear reactor has been invented yet, the Chicago Pile, ten years later, Rocketship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein, space-Nazis, so early!, countdown clocks, a race for everything, side quests, a lot being told, the illustrations, this book feels huge, 150 pages in the serial, complementing content, Eve’s mother gets killed, how quickly the veneer of civilization gets ripped off, Augustine, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster Book by Rebecca Solnit, Bronson: the son of a brawny man, the anticipation of total war, U.S. nationalization, Prohibition, beer makers, say nothing bad about the government law, human cogs, price fixes, holding the masses, Oliver Platt’s mom in 2012, Tony’s so angsty about his mom, he wants to kill, the mobilization doesn’t matter, the migration is for nothing, the President and his cabinet in Kansas, the plebeian thing, rules for them, dignified in their way, terrorizing the plebeians, Téa Leoni’s character’s mom and dad in Deep Impact, tons of connections, waiting for the wave to come, Roland Emmerich and Harold Klausner, The High Crusade, The Thirteenth Floor, a schlockmeister of the highest order, the cultural baggage of the legacy of films gets into you whether you’ve seen them or not, you have Casablanca lurking in your cultural DNA, nobody complains we’ve already seen this movie, the end of the world blah blah blah, this novel is at the center, Noah’s Flood, Gilgamesh, wiping out the Earth for 5,000 years.
The SFFaudio Podcast #405 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss The Ringworld Engineers by Larry Niven
Talked about on today’s show:
Speaker to Canadians, off the rails, doing a sequel, 1980 follow up to the 1970 novel, was this a good idea?, seeing the Ringworld one more time, fun, Larry Niven was having a lot of fun with it, retcon (retroactive continuity), Teela’s luck, maybe Paul is completely wrong, bad bad Teela Brown, her boytoy, because reasons, becoming a protector, where the luck problem comes in, the fight between Teela, Chmee and Wu is fabulous, luck is directing all these people, re-re-reinterpretation, happily ever after and sequels don’t play nice, luck as a genetically programmable trait is complete bullshit, that’s what’s going to happen, if you’re going to do a sequel…, waiting for Teela to show up, The Ringworld Throne, Louis becomes a protector, take each book on its own, she’s protecting all of the lucky people who are coming after her, cooler in a couple of ways, why Louis had needed to be a droud addict (a wire-head), he was bored in the first book, he’s an addict in the second, a little flashback to the visit of the gardens of the patriarch, “call me Chmee”, the Kzin patriarch’s version of the Smithsonian, happy all the time and hating his life, he can’t have cheese anymore, no more skinjobs or sleeping plates, caught up by the A.R.M., when Louis quits the droud, the only thing that saves him, a brilliant plotter, making choices, having free will (or not), Teela has to double-think her way, he’s the center of his own Ringworld (as an addict) then it flips, the addiction withdrawal was too easy, gorging on tree-of-life, that’s why sequels are a problem, really good writers use up their characters, that’s what makes The Postman Always Rings Twice so great, there aren’t endless sequels to great books, by the end of Moby Dick only one character is still alive, this whole book is retconning, here’s what’s wrong with the Ringworld!, that’s the game in Hard SF, the game he was playing was too big for him (Larry Niven), incorporating criticism, we were wrong about this…, this is a science heavy book, Prill was a liar, the spill mountains, the unclimbable rim mountains became volcanoes (kind of), how terrible this world is, the scrith covered place, we are very lucky to be on an actively-geological plant, we’re lucky to have metal, Riverworld by Philip Jose Farmer, an asteroid crash that Mark Twain finds, it’s harder to boil things without metal, a ceramics and alcohol based high-technology, fiddling with the facts of the first book, Paul is more annoyed about the Teela brown transformation, Teela becomes both the hero and the villain kind of, maybe we should have read Protector first, the Pak and the Pak protectors, big science, World Of The Ptavvs, a recap of the premise of Protector, two main characters, unwanted and unexpected uplift, are there any women in there?, Protectors are sexless, talking about the sex in The Ringworld Engineers, rishathra, the Babylon 5 episode with rishathra, the two librarian Wendy and Peter, tell me about the mating practices, we make records (anthropological pornography), Jesse defends Larry Niven again, Wu the silent sexual ambassador, if Louis Wu was a female character…, where’s the same sex rishathra?, an obvious method of birth control, too much of that again, projecting what heterosexual males, I gotta get me a harem, mating uncontrollably, venereal disease is a real problem in our world, no mosquitoes, no venereal disease, the logic behind the sexual practices, the grass eaters, the cow and bull people, how cattle work, the sexual practices of wolves, the going on vacation thing, the terms the field scientists used: sneaky fuckers, another double-think, the lone guy in SF willing to do stuff with this, Bloodchild by Octavia Butler, a real reproductive phenomenon, male pregnancy, sympathizing with everyone, males are easily replaced, they way we love our pets, the way he says females should be docile, the third sex of puppeteer, the way females are regarded, he’s a dude from the 1970s whose not trying to be sensitive, some books are male or female, more appealing to males, Niven is so good at thinking, the Wheels Within Wheels chapter, I’m saving this world, when Louis cuts up the hyperdrive, “Come, let us reason together” where is that line from?, the book of Isaiah, God talking to man, playing the god gambit, he turns the tables on the Hindmost, aye aye captain, the Bandersnatchi of Jinx is from Jabberwocky by Louis Carol, Wunderland, the Alice In Wonderland theme from Ringworld, the Peter Pan theme, Louis Wu is Peter Pan (the boy who will never grow up), following Louis out the window into Neverland (of the ship), The Man-Kzin Wars books, why is Speaker’s name Chmee, Smee, tag in the dark, Smee is the bosun to Captain Hook, that’s really clever, turning lead to fuel, the alchemy of the planet, a wild goose chase, the 5% 95% trick, it’s legit!, a strong sense of pathos, every character we’ve met on the Ringworld will die, would you kill everyone you’ve ever met to save 95% of the population?, empathizing with the sunflowers, is life for a year for everyone better?, it could be triple-think, talking about motivation, why do anything, what’s the point of anything, caring for the breeders, protecting her own vs. others, very interesting stuff, Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto, helicopter parenting, you can’t tell me my son’s grades are low, teacher motivation, knuckling under, lowering standards and grade inflation, the Business and Computer Science departments, everyone gets As, only Philosophy was holding out (when Jesse was at university), the mother protecting the young, the bear mother attacks threats to the cub, Free Range Kids, the perception of the threat level is higher, the craziness that happens when the mothering instinct is in charge, imagine Grandma with the powers of Rambo, why Teela is such a fearsome adversary (even when she’s playing to lose), the closest in any other science fiction is in the Banquet Scene in Dune, super-geniuses plotting how to murder each other, literally a role playing game style adventure, totally an RPG player move, where The Ringworld Role Playing Game came from, an nobody noticed he was talking into his hand, layers of fun, two poems,
I. The Book
The place was dark and dusty and half-lost
In tangles of old alleys near the quays,
Reeking of strange things brought in from the seas,
And with queer curls of fog that west winds tossed.
Small lozenge panes, obscured by smoke and frost,
Just shewed the books, in piles like twisted trees,
Rotting from floor to roof—congeries
Of crumbling elder lore at little cost.
I entered, charmed, and from a cobwebbed heap
Took up the nearest tome and thumbed it through,
Trembling at curious words that seemed to keep
Some secret, monstrous if one only knew.
Then, looking for some seller old in craft,
I could find nothing but a voice that laughed.
I held the book beneath my coat, at pains
To hide the thing from sight in such a place;
Hurrying through the ancient harbor lanes
With often-turning head and nervous pace.
Dull, furtive windows in old tottering brick
Peered at me oddly as I hastened by,
And thinking what they sheltered, I grew sick
For a redeeming glimpse of clean blue sky.
No one had seen me take the thing—but still
A blank laugh echoed in my whirling head,
And I could guess what nighted worlds of ill
Lurked in that volume I had coveted.
The way grew strange—the walls alike and madding—
And far behind me, unseen feet were padding.
the first two sonnets from the Fungi From Yuggoth sonnet cycle, some books of elder lore, the audiobook irony, the problems of not having an audiobook version, the connection between finding the old books that reveal the truth about the world (only the machine people know the secret), the cult of knowledge, the paperback cover of Protector, surrounded by ancient tomes, great books make you super-smart, hitting that hard, page 128,
Something leaped from the crest of the next hill over. Green light speared it in midair, and held while the thing flamed and died. So much for Chmeee’s spacesuit. But a flight of hand-sized missiles flew toward the base of the green laser beam. Half a dozen white flashes from behind the rise, and the snap! of lightning striking close, showed that Chmeee had succeeded in turning puppeteer-made batteries into bombs.
Teela was close, and she was using a laser. And if she was circling the pond, just beyond the crest… Louis adjusted his position.
Chmeee’s burnt suit had fallen too slowly. A protector would know it was empty. Cthulhu and Allah! How could anyone fight a lucky protector?
calling on one fictional god and one semi-fictional god, calling on other gods, this is Niven playing a game with us, I like this game, gender does really change peoples minds, seeds and fields to plant, that has consequences in thinking, what do men want?, if you look at history, Genghis had a huge harem, the practice of polygamy, viking practices, is it patriarchy, he’s working it out in this Ringworld scenario, providing grandmotherly wisdom and veteran warriors, a generic love, another plot going on, the Earth is great and Ringworld sucks, Ringworld is a Garden of Eden, all the predators are on one island too far away from the rest of the ringworld, this is the story of the Fall, what is the thing that turns you into a Protector and something hard, the tree-of life root, who do we need right now, climate change, we’re so busy pulling the world apart Bussard ramscoops, Ringworld Engineers as an analogy for Earth, we need some smart bad-ass, monstrous, Justin Trudeau’s not going to solve it and neither will Trump, somebody around here needs to eat some Tree-Of Life Root, there were two trees in Eden, the tree of immortality, longevity vs. fertility, banishment, the fall of the cities, the Puppeteers with their snaky heads did this, they have beautiful voices too, a retcon Paul could accept, interpolating,
The smell of tree-of-life was in Louis’s nose and in his brain. It was not like the wire. Current was sufficient unto itself an experience that demanded nothing further to make it perfect. The smell of tree-of-life was ecstasy, but it sparked a raging hunger. Louis knew what tree-of-life was now. It had glossy dark-green leaves and roots like a sweet potato, and it was all around him, and the taste — something in his brain remembered the taste of Paradise.
panspermia is bullshit, Chariots Of The Gods?, the plot of Battlestar Galactica, thallium oxide, the Bible is a true story … we’ve forgotten, damn that’s good!, still doing good work, adding another ring, who were the first people, the two librarians, they get on an Ark, was Teela one of Louis’ descendants? (dating the great great granddaughter), not Heinlein level incest, if you think incest in Science Fiction that’s Heinlein, male SF writers, set pieces, I love the vampires, undercutting Prill’s one skill, vampire perfume, everything on the map of Mars, they have a gas laser, the taboo against lasers went away, I love the ghouls, keeping it in the family, the ghouls are the secret rulers of the Ringworld, non-sentient male and female, free-will vs. choice, he’s sexy, pheromones for humans, animal free will vs. animal free will, insects that get killed in mating, we were all in that state at some point, all the ideas Niven is playing with, all those ridiculous RPG-like events (the sunflowers and the water condensers), looking for ways to create meaning, a really smart book (and also a trashy sequel), stealing stuff for RPGs, dreaming about protectors, one of Niven’s big ideas, where did all the protectors go?, a question for The Ringworld Throne, making a whole bunch of people soft, nature finds a way, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, the hanging people are kind of like the moties, the audiobook narrator didn’t do the Puppeteer contralto, we miss Nessus, the Hindmost is a dick, the tree-of-life virus, where did they go?, Niven didn’t know (in this book), another kind of addiction, their booster spice or their current addiction, a symbiotic virus, who is running the show?, more than Human (or Pak), powerful ideas and powerful characters powerfully motivated, not a wholehearted endorsement.
Talked about on today’s show:
1970, many people have a problem with this book, issues, classic big dumb object, the book hasn’t changed, oh bad, with live in very sensitive times, political correctness, totally unacceptable jokes, ‘Teela was one of the few women crying doesn’t make ugly’, “so I don’t rape Nessus”, joking and laughing, regaining confidence, is Teela a damsel in distress?, a hole in the Ringworld, luck, she isn’t saved by a man, a trope subverted, Candide, blind faith, rising up, worldbuilding, jaded spacer, quasi-murderous kzin, cowardly Nessus, N-Space, an author plot device, not so cool, Prill, Ascension, Jesse begins apologizing for Larry Niven’s, breaking Paul’s bubble with a fan favourite: Firefly, a lot of sex, defined as a concubine, 40 people on the ship, overly sensitizes, picks at people’s mind, every woman has a tasp within her if she knows how to use it, where are the vampires and ghouls, The Ringworld Engineers, he’s a wirehead, drugs, retesting, a stimulating environment, puppeteer is puppeteer, where’s the outrage over the puppeteer immorality, looking at the book the wrong way, if that’s your takeaway from that scene, let it go, non-sentience and the non-sentient females, Louis Wu’s freezer family, sentient is an interesting world, Philosophical zombies, Westworld!, Ex Machina, man creator creating a woman for sex, addressing a real thing, hard facts that people don’t like to think or talk about, differences between the genders, not being shy, gender switch Louis and Teela’s genders, non-reproductive sex, the intersection between reproduction and sex and gender, a biological fact, why do we go to the puppeteer world, motivated by breeding licenses, he has a beautiful woman’s voice(s), horror acts, I’m going to murder you, when you live in a society that has solved all the gender problems…, as a plot device, the whole book is “spoiled” on the cover and the back, it’s very interesting and let’s explore, in order to have a reason there have to be a series of coincidences, a treatise on fate and destiny, exploring through the story, she just needs to meet a man?, do you have any free will, the puppet strings of fate, the god gambit, she’s going to be alive for 20,000 years, Teela becomes a “protector”, retconing, Protector by Larry Niven, a 1 to 1 scale map of the Earth, Mars, after the Halo generation, trouble picturing it, a true fact, bigger than our imagination, the orbit of the Earth around the sun, did the Lying Bastard make the Fist Of God, the comet defense system, the shadow square wires, Earth has natural mechanisms for keeping itself in balance, there’s no maintenance crew for the Ringworld, laser taboo, Ringworld is so inconceivably big and the whole is not very big in comparison, plug the hole, the center cannot hold, things fall apart, entropy, the sunflower problem, ecology, the ring foundation material being exposed, no real geological activity, preventing the seas from being silted, all the systems that are needed to be maintained, good job Earth!, the Aral Sea, the Earth society, the homogenization of the world, Beirut looks like Budapest, Munich resembles Cairo, transfer booths and stepping discs vs. Skype, a global culture, people in other countries can be in the same room, the lucky ones, every number in South America, Louis is a big mix, Larry Niven is hilarious, Louis Wu and his Motley Crew, French and Chinese, a chrome yellow mandarin, so racist?, just a fashion, Teela was blue, globalism happens, google translate, the Larry Niven’s flashcrowd stories, not the Organlegger stories, not Known Space, flash zombie mobs, revolutions, 2000+ veterans heading to Standing Rock, North Dakota, not through the mainstream media, a slow motion flash mob, thinking about technology the way Larry Niven does, Mission Of Gravity by Hal Clement, how are fly-cycles powered?, concepts or technologies from Ringworld, Neutron Star, Beowulf Shaeffer, my greatest hits of technology ideas, the Ansible (an anagram for Lesbian), Orson Scott Card, General Products Hull, anti-matter, Slaver stasis field, World Of Ptavvs, selecting for luck, a stupid (smart) idea, we don’t have a complete picture of reality, they’re using a different theory, manipulating probabilities, the Scarlet Witch and Gambit, there is no actual book from god, running a crazy (interesting) experiment with an infinite amount of puppeteers, The Mote In God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, sex solving all problems, Babylon 5, bonobo references, sexing your ways out of problems, obsessed by sex, anyone alive has someone in their family interested in sex, a science fan, something to think about, when did Isaac Asimov become interested in sex?, a good thing, the problems with it are so negligible, the fans of Ringworld are insanely interested in it, browbeaten into writing the sequels, a natural school learned from, booster-spice is straight out of Dune, ragweed, the Chaosium Ringworld RPG, Teela brown is well educated, bundled in with the luck, does having experience pain help with empathy?, the Ringworld foundation material, the way Douglas Adams explains how big space is doesn’t give you the same sense, this thing is really, really big, a barbarian swordsperson on a quest, he’s Don Quixote and she’s Sancho Panza, super-funny, “he stopped having sex with me when he found out about you”, almost every culture has done that in most of human history, a collapsed civilization, he knows magic, people barter with people, he’s honourable, stupid honour, she’d be ruining him, keep him the noble idiot that he is, wandering the Ringworld forever, that’s why there is a game about this world, Stellaris, the puppeteer world, leaf-eaters for lunch, “my love”, sexism is based on the distinguishment between male and female, races aren’t real, genders are real, French-ness, epicanthic folds, the end of racism, we all speak Interworld, there goes Firefly again, Joss Whedon, this is why you should pillory Niven: Wu travels the wrong direction for his birthday, “endlessly teased”, the Earth spinning the wrong direction, Niven has tapped into something amazing with Ringworld, a TV adaptation, how to depict the Ringworld on screen, mostly conversations about technical problems and possible solutions, that’s so interesting, the cloud over the city, it looks like a cloud?, that variable sword, Jesse does the voices, Louis the mediator, a xenophile, cool!, real racism, that’s racist!, Speaker’s viewpoint, Nessus’s character is brilliant, [“Write me a creature who thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man.”], Meskalanites as Yankee traders, the same story (in structure), what antlers are for, they’re cowards (cautious), they always attacked before they were ready, masterful foreign policy, sock-puppets, it’s both, the Outsiders, slave and food out of everybody, 350 pages, The Wizard Of Oz plot, Maissa’s theory: Teela is Dorothy, the Puppeteer is the Cowardly Lion, Sunflowers instead of Poppies, Louis is Dorothy, Teela as the Tin-Man, Prill as the Wizard, a road trip, it kind of looks like The Wizard Of Oz, Speaker as Tony the Tiger, anachronisms, when you make a kizinti laugh that’s going to be your last joke, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Starfleet Battles, drone warfare, an Enterprise made out of General Products hulls, a BDO, a BDO capper, invented and solved in one book, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, Jesse engineer’s a dyson’s sphere without artificial gravity (using Ringworld tech), The Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees, low-tech characters lack a scientific education, Rammer is not known space story, a horrible dystopia, the corpsicles, sticking it to the man, A World Out Of Time, always weird sexual things, totally forgivable, setting Samuel DeLany aside, biological differences in the genders create biological imperatives, women seem to like to take care of babies that come out of their bodies, why do you think that is?, snakes don’t take care of their babies, a biological reason, snakelets take care of themselves, men seem to find women scarce and women seem to find men plentiful, these are facts, that’s what people do, recreation and reproduction, birth control technology has fundamentally changed human relations, walking around in bags, repressed technology, Jesse is going to get into trouble, protecting the make libido, horror stories, a culture of repression, from a biological stance, Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, changelings, Rapunzel, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin, this totally a sex story, women always know who their children are and men don’t, the motivation behind horrible, men spread genetic material without cost but for women it is highly costly, the cuckoo, feeding baby birds is physically high cost, divorce in the age of social safety net, charged words, in defense of poor Larry Niven, sexist, colouring the re-reading, trapped in the police jail, flying the Improbable, put a ring around it, a fundamental disregard for women, a lessering of women, little low affect Hal Clements, he’s a man, books written by women, good books, an exercise in making characters, being unable to fully model, a callousness, plot movers to opposed to people, Prill is at a disadvantage, if you’ve been worshiped for a long time, non-violation of the Prime Directive, violated many times, Speaker as a male god, it doesn’t count on Ringworld, very worldist!, vampires and hominids, the lack of diversity, human speciation on the Ringworld in The Ringworld Engineers, bribed with Boston lettuce, less diamond so chaff, mining metaphors, one-and-done-it.