The SFFaudio Podcast #682 – READALONG: The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #682 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Evan Lampe, and Trish E. Matson talk about The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Talked about on today’s show:
Racoona Sheldon, Analog, June 1977, special women’s issue, Eyes Of Amber by Joan D. Vinge, Analog, not just for men, Ben Bova, a 1970s thing, Women Destroy anthologies, all Harlan Issue, throw all the women in one basket, J. Michael Straczynski, a sausage fest, representation by gender, a piss per job, one woman per this episode, making room for women, what her logic was, Angel Fix, to suit different markets?, James Tiptree, Jr had to intervene on behalf of Racoona Sheldon, Robert Silverberg had to make a huge apology, it was very clear James Tiptree, Jr. was a man, the Andre Norton story, she was not hiding, a quasi-medieval romance, rationalization, this story is about rationalization, the whole religious cult element, super hard SF, as a historian, certain biological experiences (like love), fairly universal across humanity, across time however…, culture, movies, love songs, something physically is changing in these men, all the cultural baggage would be dispensed, morality wouldn’t win out?, the first time a zombie wakes up, turning some aspect up to 11, to set the society’s norms, urges, the story of Adam and Eve, uncomfortable, people use it for whatever they want, good science fiction, why Jesse likes adaptations, The Twilight Zone adaptation, the new Dune movie, The Masters Of Horror adaptation, the 90210 guy and Elliot Gould, commas missing in the PDF, the narrator of the story has comma problems but the characters writing the letters don’t, her diary entry, a fun format, enough material for a hefty novel (or a quintology), if Steven Baxter wrote this story, a hard topic to fully satisfy everybody with, like H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, horrific, creeping dread, clamping down on the news [censorship], the horror of the nice rational scientist, feels himself changing and can’t stop it, bestial/primal instincts, awakened by the aliens, existential dread, we are the monsters, we’re all going to die, humanity is going to kill itself, people do it to themselves, completely chilling, On And Off A Mountain Road, metaphors, cursed film episode Cigarette Burns, a slasher, the focus is on the micro, the outer image, Alan in Colombia, his job is what the aliens do to us,

the 2019 reboot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE has an episode called “NOT ALL MEN” which is credited to Heather Anne Campbell

it seems to be an uncredited remake of the MASTERS OF HORROR episode “THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION” scripted by Sam Hamm

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution

except the latter is an adaptation of a 1977 story by James Triptree, Jr.

and the former isn’t

evidence:

Both have family dinner parties

The Screwfly Solution DINNER

Both have cakes with words written on them (“welcome home” and “happy birthday”)

Not All Men DINNER

Both have women being murdered by men

Both have the military showing up

Both have atypical meteors showers

and

Both have their respective blonde female protagonists driving around by day, and being chased by night, in identical yellow Volkswagen Beetles

on the left TWILIGHT ZONE on the right MASTERS OF HORROR

Not All Men / The Screwfly Solution BEETLES

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is biological Science Fiction and visceral Horror – an alien invasion story like THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells, as intellectually rigorous, but brutal, scary, and gripping

NOT ALL MEN is decidedly not – it is almost a comedy, but there are no laughs

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION suggest we are victims of biology

NOT ALL MEN suggest everyone has a choice and most men choose to be bad

the MASTERS OF HORROR episode makes a character from the short story gay, and makes him resistant to the biology that effect most men

the TWILIGHT ZONE episode has a gay character who chooses to be resistant

and both have females disagreeing, in their yellow Volkswagen beetles, about how to understand what is happening to the men around them

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is full of conscientious men and women, scientists, trying to figure out what is happening and how to help their families and the world

NOT ALL MEN has basically no scientists (@ the end, maybe?) but has a marketing company doing some sciencey or something?

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION has the most brutally noir ending imaginable, an ironic one given the characters we follow around for the story, perhaps the last woman alive on earth watching the new tenants of Earth arriving and knowing humanity is finished

NOT ALL MEN ends with a deus ex machina, with cops or the army saving our viewpoint characters, fade to black

blood tests turn up nothing

a twist ending that throws out the main idea they’ve been pushing (the red meteors were a red herring)

there a line at the end of the episode that supposedly explains it all:

“The meteors…they were a placebo.”

then we get the cut-rate Rod Serling closing narration:

Jordan Peele (cut rate Rod Serling)

“Tonight, Annie Miller found herself in the center of a mysterious and violent epidemic. What she encountered was no material disease but rather a plague of conscience. One that gave men permission to ignore decency, consent, and fear. And tonight, all it took was a few an
innocuous little rocks to turn men into monsters here in the Twilight Zone.”

at one point during the craziness in the streets one guy says

“Fuck your feelings”

And this is the level of analysis and writing we are dealing with.

more than 2000 imdb ratings for each

IMDB RATINGS

4.8/10 for THE TWILIGHT ZONE “Not All Men”

6.4/10 for MASTERS OF HORROR “The Screwfly Solution”

Finally, both were filmed in British Columbia

THE SCREWFLY SOLUTION is set in several places, including Texas, Michigan, and British Columbia

i don’t think we know where NOT ALL MEN is set (other than a really lame corner of The Twilight Zone)

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, Volkswagen Beetle, understanding the point of the original, we might be unable to control ourselves vs. choosing to be bad, just attacking, just aggro, one of these is science fiction and the other is something else, nightmares, mass hysteria and people’s choices or an alien disease, the hope of the species, woken from crazy aggressive killings, In The Mouth Of Madness (1994), The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, a meme vs. an enzyme or a hormone, social pressures vs. biological pressures, do you read Sutter Cane?, if so you’re infected, the reason I’m killing you is because you’re a communist or a homosexual, explaining inexplicable impulses, a phenomenon we see in reality, Trump as a symptom, the Cult of Adam, “angels”, interesting things in a compressed space, Dracula, the epistolary format, the personal and the broader picture, different perspectives, perfectly expressed, something terrible is happening in England, layers and layers of intertextuality, this is all a suicide note, yesterday I saw an angel, a real estate agent, a devastating last line, all the adults over six years old, feral kids, like a lot of Star Trek episodes, we did it to ourselves!, higher doing what we do to lower or higher species, Huston, Huston, Do You Read?, gender dynamics, women disposing of men, this thing called kissing, Y: The Last Man, a response to When It Changed by Joanna Russ, ovafusion, all female civilization, Sheri S. Tepper, a whole genre conversation, The Children Of Men by P.D. James, The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro, gender reversed romance plots, men are the hysterical, the second most dangerous primate, another primate note, the rhesus monkeys, spider monkeys, chimpanzees, biological similarity, not well discussed at the dinner table, mating behaviors, Fritz Leiber, opinions from twitter, wishing people would read it, even the uninfected nodded and saw the killing as natural, the result is extermination, God’s will, committees, kill camps, bad things are happening, no one in authority, the mundane aspect, being called to Florida, a car flotilla [aka a convoy], the NIH, Triptree lived in Washington, D.C., her husband and her were both CIA, part of the interest here, Deep Impact (1998), a bunch of people in a control room, the media, something weird is happening in India, 150 adulteresses in Saudi Arabia, very similar headlines, “so-called Sharia Law”, Michael McKean (of Spinal Tap), #YesAllWomen, scarier and scarier every day, an over-reading, anonymous submission, George Sand, other reasons, “trans-phobic”, whatever else, transphobic by structure, a binary opposition of genders, gender binarism is real and meaningful, structurally queasy, men as naturally pedophilic, socially compelled into a straight marriage, there’s a lot there, you gotta consider the context of the story, Heinlein was, reading transphobia into texts [from 1977], Trish is cancelled, a failure of imagination, phobia is without meaning, outside the scope of what she’s exploring, how they turn on the boys, a non-binary view of sexuality, reading too much into this?, aggression hacked sexuality, a less binary reading of sexuality, she’s thinking super-hard, what is sexuality?, this strange focus on a part of science that doesn’t get a lot of attention in Science Fiction, our hero Alan, his relationship with his wife, it gets hot, he starts fantasizing on the airplane, crushed the Coke can, you need to kill me if I show up, I should throw this knife away, really good hard SF, he knows there’s something wrong with him, he should kill himself, killing (and possibly raping) his own daughter, slightly misreading what’s going on, the chase mentality is real, ovulation in some animals needs this, kinda Kinsey, the weaker have been killed, artificial wombs, Podkayne Of Mars, freeze your zygotes, Lois McMaster Bujold, people’s wrong takes, the most devastating counterargument to #NotAllMen, they are connected, an expression, traction after #MeToo, the defensive reaction, downgrading the impact of #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter vs. #BlueLivesMatter, sarcastic uses, #AllMen, aggressive seeds, bombing Dallas, men are evil, seeds of violence, misogynistic in structure, a jihad against women, in order to do evil is to choose evil, we are biologically determined, human beings are more than their biology, condemned by our biology, its not a disease, on the ground, isn’t it horrifying that we are biologically determined?, the hashtag vs. the Twilight Zone episode of the same name, explicitly rejecting Tiptree Jr.’s idea, we should summon the will, what if we are biologically determined to do everything, an MRNA injection, a hard bitter pill to swallow, what the story is suggesting, it helps Scott make choices, seeing this in all its horror, if we don’t have choices in reality, the illusion of choices?, what about the screwflies?, they’re just flies, we write stories, we’re not as complicated as we think, slaves to our hormones, he doesn’t kill himself, noir, not pulling its punches, biological determinism or mostly biologically determined?, influenced by stories, closer to chimps or rhesus monkeys, bonobos?, sex as a way of saying hello, a dispute over a sandwich settled by sex, institutions and ideology shape how we interpret and overcome biological, the birth control pill, change society, what science fiction is, geology, how old the Earth is, life-changing, a very good science fiction story, harder than H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds [not The Time Machine], take the war to Mars, maybe somebody’s working on something somewhere, so good, 1 hour to read, that fake stuff that’s 16 books long, fake science, 2 north 75 degree west, anthropology, WHO inoculations, just watched an episode of Masters Of Horror, Cordwainer Smith, off in Africa with her parents, the horse latitudes, bringing experience to the table, its not because she’s a girl, long short story format, The Women Men Don’t See, The Woman Who Was Plugged In, semi-interesting, externalize evil, religions antagonists fighting god, the devil is trying to put bad thoughts in your head, avoiding responsibility, easier, Alcohol Anonymous’ plan, accept the higher power because you’re weak, these religious pamphlets make so much sense, Genesis 3:16, women: feel the pain of childbirth and obey your husbands, short stories are a technology for delivering ideas, don’t be anti-good story, some people are willing to put anything into their bodies, good short SF is a vaccination against long terrible series that do you wrong.

The Screwfly Solution by James Tiptree, Jr.

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #488 – READALONG: Dune (Book III of III) by Frank Herbert

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe 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

The Sandworm Strikes - illustration by Ed J. Hannigan

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #113 – Extraterrestrial Trilogue On Terran Self-Destruction by Sheri S. Tepper

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #113

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss Extraterrestrial Trilogue On Terran Self-Destruction by Sheri S. Tepper

Here’s a link to a PDF of the poem.

Extraterrestrial Trilogue On Terran Self-Destruction was first published in Galaxy, August 1961.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson