The SFFaudio Podcast #638 – READALONG: Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #638 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Scott Danielson, Maissa Bessada, Will Emmons and Trish E. Matson talk about Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre

Talked about on today’s show:
1978, kicking around for years and years, The Entropy Effect, the first Star Trek novel, Of Mist, And Grass, And Sand, a report with science fiction fandom, Will’s choice, The Moon And The Sun, Louis XIV, Jesuit scientist, sea-monsters, consciousness about the world, politics, first contact, a little person, a magnum opus, 1998, a capstone, the Hugo for best novel, Nebula and Locus awards, Heinlein dedicated Friday to Vonda McIntyre, polyamory, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Ursula K. Le Guin, Marge Piercy, Roger Zelazny, Joanna Russ, a tender and compassionate adventure story, swashbuckling, saddle buckling, acrobat skill, diplomat skill, real life swashbuckling, the personal rather than the institutional, dedicating a book to other people, my agent and my wife, turning institutional into personal, this is not a Heinlein book, why Heinlein thought something about it, Anne McCaffrey, C.J. Cherryh, the first in a trilogy, there’s a lot in this book, three different stories, little vistas, technologies used on this world, biology as a technology, very Dune, birth control, just slide it in, weaving world-building elements, the door dilated, second wave feminism, bears rereading, destroying so we can rebuild, an Earth empire planet, comparative text looking, the names of the snakes, October 1973, 1978, the ending, tons of changes, a lot dropped, stuff added, the last sentence, healers heal quickly, February and March would have come out in late 77 and the start of 78, a polish, a lot of plot threads that don’t go anywhere, we think she’s going to the city and then go to the stars, an Ursula K. Le Guin novel: City Of Illusions, The City And The Stars, rocket jockey finds love in space, subverted expectations, amazingly clever for a first novel, female protagonists in leadership positions, being in control of your own biology, what is he talking…, literally 100 years out of date, very Dune like, sex-education, The Many Colored Land by Julian May, biofeedback, evolving and changing and growing, outside of the center city, fighting for power, Jesse’s death, not dated at all, more social SF than hard SF, snake medicine good for somethings not so good for other things, making slaves, lies as a form of control, a 1973 person, in a religion that is telling you what to not do and what to do, people who are reading books, if you’re in the science fiction readership, an inoculation against the future, abstinence through yoga, will that change society? 100%, so immune to disease, breeding her horse, its a mule, where the novel doesn’t work as well, unfulfilled notes, what that material is made of, relationship material, a fix-up, a new view into the that world and a new problem to solve, The Lone Ranger, Kung Fu, a western, The Mandalorian, not with a flamethrower, education and information, Paul’s D&D tweet, the setting of a D&D game, she’s a druid, that time she bit someone, the crazy, the crazies, what we’re supposed to think about, Jesse is honour bound not to talk about the book (lest Jesse be a hypocrite), psychedelic, a drug book, heroin users, a medical problem, a dreamsnake breeder, a drug dealer, scenes with this character, the third part with the dome, alien plants, did the otherworlders come and leave the snakes?, left for us to excavate, going to visit her teachers, she’s lost her journal, its going to go well, how the dreamsnakes reproduce, to drop it there, why these things exist in the story, her real name, she’s snake, bestowed upon you, like the title doctor, call me nurse, the Doctor, Doctor Who, The Master, two kinds of degrees, the Bachelor, the Rani, other time lords, a special figure, living up to that title, a badge of honour, the War Doctor, training be damned, on a sentence by sentence level her prose is quite poetic, why isn’t this a classic?, she’s doing a recipe for school, for a Clarion West class, very powerful, setting things up, laying things down, this future, that not paying off is where it has gone wrong, the Kung Fu aspect, with her actions, she does a lot of telling along with the showing, every gun doesn’t have to be a chekov’s gun, a sandbox vs. a railroad, all the more rich, why you shouldn’t turn your D&D campaign into a novel, Jesse’s birthday present to Will:

The Birthday Present by Jesse

Once upon a time there was a gentle black bear who always wore the disguise of a human when going shopping.
He was a sly bear, so instead of just wearing a mask made of a human face, he also had gloves made from the skin of human hands.
Because it was his mother’s birthday he was determined to buy her a nice gift, in this case a bone china teapot.
As he approached the city gate the bear in human guise was asked by the city guard if he was “just a bear wearing a human face and human hands as gloves.”
Instead of denying it, the bear smote his challenger, his powerful claws making short work of the sentry.
In the third gift store he went into the disguised bear found a delightful bone china teapot with pink flowers and intertwining green ivy decorating its sides and lid and the bear knew it would make his mother sow happy.
Asking if the proprietor took human corpses as currency, the bear proffered the guard’s corpse, and after a moment’s calculation of the taxes, the shop owner consented, knowing there was plenty of bone in the corpse for the making of new teapots, and skin for the making of masks and gloves.

The End

making the story better, symmetrical, solving all of a story’s problems, a mini-Clarion, two stories set in the same city, adding the depth of richness, whatever you lay down pays off, out of the tunnels in Fallout 3, each individual stories, The Voyage Of The Space Beagle, novels are a marketing campaign to move paper, novelettes are better, the whole market for audible.com, longer books not better books, pushing novels over short stories, 50s and 60s and 70s, trilogies, I need these stories to be individual rather than be collective, healers heal quickly, don’t think of it as a novel, Alan Kaster’s INFINIVOX audiobooks, fiction podcasts, Escape Pod, Podcastle, Uncanny Magazine, Clarkesworld, new fiction, another Heinlein, more about snakes, the dream part, hearing about it over these decades, something Scott said, second wave feminism, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, totally changed the fabric of society, what makes this book good, Trekonomics, what makes Star Trek good, its the ideology, a beautiful child with deep sexual shame, what makes this book good, how people could relate to each other, whether science fiction should be didactic, stigma, how you can relate to other people, the post-apocalyptic setting, step-out side the system, what science fiction can do, fear, a powerful story, deep truth, escape from pain, forget myself, fantastic things, this is what made it really good, the ideology, all of the baggage of society we live in, Gödel, Escher, Bach, imagining differently being, life outside of capitalism, the divine right of kings, different ways of living, examine our assumptions, you cannot protect someone completely without enslaving them, puts it into action, giving advice, Hippocratic oaths, ethics, a great negotiator, a great character, as a TV show, Raised By Wolves, character based, what makes Deep Space Nine such a great show, a darker prophetic aspect, outside of time, all the more powerful on screen, the way other people react to her, the new shirt, her feelings about the shirt, a very talented writer, Superluminal, disparate elements, reacting to assumptions being challenged, legalistic, a fun read, started from a short story, right after Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the very serious Mr. Spock, this is just her western, the genre she’s writing in, responding to the stranger, Conan stories, the effect is rather different with the Conan stories, a female inversion of the Conan stories, a wizard who has a pet monkey, Rogues In The House, scalpeling and herbs and a couple of snakes and the sticking around, the handsomest youth in town, thrown a lady over his shoulder and running off into another adventure, Melissa continues on, part of her being a woman, making a family vs. fleeing a family, just not marketable, center city, communication with the outside universe, an oppressive thing, the center as a first world nation, the strange weirdo people, whatever skills they brought, the one thing you don’t really feel, The Wizard Of Oz, poppies and heroin, ultimately it would be a lie, underwhelming, so locked up, not because you’re powerful but because you’re weak, when people are in bounty the instinct is to share it, Jesse hates feel good stories, fruit trees, a four fruit tree, what it is to go down and pick berries, a tree shoving apples in your face, you fucked it up, the food bank, the food bank is a new thing, the element of the church, the corporate thing, that’s a different show, how the health care system is terrible, wandering doctors, why don’t you move into town, healers retire to communities, she’s got the arthritis, word of mouth, she came to help that child, messengers, caravans, ships in the ocean would call out the news to each other, a pro-vaccine book, Arvin, we change viewpoints, arrested for assault, oh this is plot, action rather than dialogue, more dialogue please, a sidelight on the mayor, to figure out the truth, the slavery stuff, things changing over time, half-life calculations, radioactivity, Babylon 5, “The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars”, A Canticle For Leibowitz, what we assume, maybe they can heal her there, maybe the can’t, they’re liars, he says he’s going to heal us, the mirror of center in this dreamsnake cult, pain-relief, sound like real life, enslaved to a product that’s illegal, the externality, excommunicate them, damaged by whatever community they’re in, Melissa is hiding all sorts of things, the stable manager, the lies are consistent, something to the rumours, not face value, the reasons are forgotten, whatever led to the apocalypse doesn’t matter, we’ve got to learn to cooperate, families of three now instead of two, we need to work together, how the chores are going to be distributed, gathering the firewood, cleaning the horses, Scott may have heard of families, a family isn’t a democracy, an anarchy, age and experience, make demands, too harsh, fleeing the society of the family, fleeing on their own happy, Melissa wants to do all the chores, seeing the value in herself, self-respect, a nice journey, good messaging, the war was long over almost forgotten it had destroyed everyone, those domes, Larry Niven Ringworld material (scrith), The Ringworld Engineers, none of them cooperated, dwindled away, the engines off the Ringworld, it would pay off to read that terrible book, progressively worse, worthwhile?, seemed inexplicable, we like that too, adventuring, subversion, the god gambit, Speaker To Animals, if Will was in the adventure party he’d be Kizinti, he feels contempt for the fucking plant eaters, Bechdel Test, two aliens talking to each other, Garak and Quark, you solids, Odo, actors under, Nessus, comedy gold, Ringworld should be done as a comedy, Louis Wu is the straight man, the three person partnership, Jesse and Meredith and Alice, non-binary, they’re all female, Anna Fields, the cassette flipping information, you buy a license from Audible.com, buy from Blackstone and Downpour you do own it, Ringworld on Earth with a lot less rocket stuff, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.

Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre AUDIOBOOK

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The Broken Dome by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Broken Dome by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Broken Dome by Vonda N. McIntyre

Droom Slang (Dreamsnake)

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

The SFFaudio Podcast #283 – READALONG: Watchers by Dean Koontz

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #283 – Jesse, Seth, and Steen discuss Watchers by Dean Koontz

Talked about on today’s show:
1987, Amazon and Goodreads reviews, what the fuck’s going on, super-clear = refreshing, mainstream, science fiction elements, a mainstream thriller with sufficently science fiction trappings, the bad guy, action and science fiction, supermarket fiction, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Michael Crichton, flirting with the fantastic, Koontz could go deep if he wanted to, excitement and involvement, an intelligent dog, a human serial killer and the good guy is always super good, a lonely lady who needs fixing, no need for a job, Garrison, the vet, money ex machina, wish fulfillment, sniffing the books, writing instinctual, “I like books”, readers are readers, is Koontz wealth (?) an accident, the same book over and over again with different sentences, dogs, odd without a dog, back to dogs, the fictional golden retriever, service dogs, Trixie Koontz, dog POV, Travis and Nora, if I could only communicate…, five stars with more than 1,000 reviews, cat lovers, sappy wish fulfillment, clunky dialogue, Seth’s retired guide dog, emotional scenes, Einstein, emotional beats hitting home, the Outsider, slow pitch Science Fiction, the NSA, research as depth of feeling, why the eyes, the Mickey Mouse telephone, a direct philosophical descendant of Frankenstein, we must treat our creations with justice and mercy, the disfigured (?) monster, extreme violence is a turn-off, dogs as wild animals that we tamed, a glacial Frankensteinian process, dogs as infantilized wolves, a dog’s nature is to be cowardly, breeding for violence (?), no savagery gene, baboons, bonobos, the creepy cable-guy stalker, delusions of immortality (?), money, surreality, The Call Of The Wild reference, survivalists, true love with a threat, preppers, Home Alone, what do Europeans think of gun culture?, fully automatic uzi kits, the baking of the cookies, the Dean Koontz genre, Phantoms, the town of Snowfield is deserted, a sink-full of jewels, creepy with wish fulfillment, and fun, multiple bad guys (monster and otherwise), The Mysteries Of Udolpho, let’s look at the parallel structure…, snake killing, some (more) cookies, pity, the underlying strength of the book, did the Outsider think that it killed Einstein?, Dean Koontz likes: cookies, mercy, and guns, Koontz’s hair transplant, political things, the soliloquy on technology, computer hacking (prior to the web), a preoccupation with Central/South America, Lebanon, Delta Force, quasi-domestic operations, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, the crappy 1988 movie of Watchers, the horror/1980s-gore aspect, Koontz and King adaptations, completely forgettable single word titles, Koontz’ preferred title would have been “Guardian”, Philip K. Dick’s first story Roog, offering urn, the education of Einstein (paralleling the education of Frankenstein’s monster), Agatha Christie, it makes you happy, 2 Jesses, “a book you will never forget!”, a candy book, The Giver, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, taking experiences from their own life, Ray Bradbury never had an experience that he didn’t turn into a fix-up novel, turn your brain off, smooth flowing fun, the complainers, the style of dialogue, a straw man of the dialogue, why is the Outsider after Einstein?, a “thing that should not be”, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, page turning machines, stewing in resentment, the Outsider has no bride and hasn’t read Paradise Lost, a shared love of Mickey Mouse, the yin and yang of humanity, the NSA agent’s role is like that of Detective Fix in Around The World In Eighty Days, the level of characterization, Dean Koontz is by himself on his own little island.

Watchers (1988)

An Astronomers Theory illustration by Virgil Finlay

Posted by Jesse Willis

LibriVox: The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard

SFFaudio Online Audio

The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard

The Devil In Iron - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Considered by some to be the worst Conan story written by Howard, The Devil In Iron isn’t my favourite either.

In it the “gay clad” barbarian visits an island fortress, wrestles a giant green snake, fights an unstabable demon, and saves a sleepy-headed and scantily dressed beauty.

The plot, which is rather intricate, doesn’t do much for me – but several scenes have that Howard writing magic I love.

LibriVoxThe Devil In Iron
By Robert E. Howard; Read by Phil Chevernet
6 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 1 Hour 35 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: March 16, 2013
Alone on the strange enchanted island of Xapur, Conan must face Khostaral Khel, a fearsome monster made of living metal! First published in Weird Tales, August 1934.

Podcast feed: http://librivox.org/rss/7606

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|
The Devil In Iron - illustration by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala

Weird Tales, August 1934

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Going Solo by Roald Dahl

SFFaudio Review

Going SoloGoing Solo
By Roald Dahl; Narrated by Dan Stevens
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 26 September 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 4 hours, 38 minutes

Themes: / memoir / World War II / RAF / colonialism / growing up / snakes /

Publisher summary:

Going Solo is the action-packed tale of Roald Dahl’s exploits as a World War II pilot. Learn all about his encounters with the enemy, his worldwide travels, the life-threatening injuries he sustained in a plane accident, and the rest of his sometimes bizarre, often unnerving, and always colorful adventures. Told with the same irresistible appeal that has made Roald Dahl one of the world’s best-loved writers, Going Solo brings you directly into the action and into the mind of this fascinating man.

Going Solo is the gripping autobiographical follow-up to Roald Dahl’s Boy. Whereas Boy tells the story of Dahl’s childhood, this speaks of his time in Africa before the war began, and relays his participation in the RAF. Whereas Boy was an odd concoction of heartwarming sadness that kept me smiling throughout its duration, Going Solo is less amusing and more riveting as we, through Dahl’s eyes, witnessed death.

Dahl doesn’t squander his words. He draws vivid images with powerful verbs and bright adjectives. His sparing prose paints these vignettes so true that we squint for the dust, smell the oily flames, and feel the wind pressing us back.

Dan Stevens narrates this wonderful production from Penguin Audio. Stevens, as he did in Boy, becomes the voice of Roald Dahl. Both this production and the reading of Dan Stevens are beyond improvement. Thank you Penguin Audio, and thank you Dan Stevens.

I’m left feeling a profound sense of wonder. I was constantly forced to remind myself “this is true,” “this is not fiction.” We really do see an African lion carry off the cook’s wife. We really do see the illogical and stubborn face of war. I could go on and on. I could try to tell you how much this book deserves your attention. I could try and relate all the wondrous encounters with snakes or Dahl’s solitary conversation with giraffes. But at this point, you have a good sense as to whether you will or won’t read this. I hope you do. I hope you start with Boy and continue with Going Solo.

This may not be as incredible as Boy, but I don’t believe it’s meant to be. Our childhood is a time separated from adulthood, and should retain a special magic free of weighty responsibility. Oh! And you don’t need me to point out the obvious metaphor in “Going Solo” as it pertains to both flight and life, right? Good, I knew you caught that.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of Conan The Barbarian Movie Adaptation LP

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Conan The Barbarian - Movie Adaptation LPConan The Barbarian
Based on the Motion Picture directed by John Milius; Performed by a FULL CAST
33 1/3 RPM LP – Approx. 43 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Power Records
Published: 1982 (Out Of Print)
Product #: 1134
Themes: / Fantasy / Revenge / Battle / Mythology / Gods / Snakes /

“I was born on the battlefield! The first sounds I
heard were the screams of dying men!”

It took almost a half of century for Robert E. Howard’s legendary thief, warrior, barbarian and eventual King to debut on the silver screen. In the fifty or so years prior to the 1982 theatrical release of Conan The Barbarian, and against all odds, Conan had clutched fate by its throat and demanded success in practically every media it was translated into. Novels, magazines, newspaper syndication and comics, they were all conquered by this sword-wielding barbarian. These conquest continually garnished him a growing legion of loyal followers. So by Conan’s God Crom, it only made sense for Hollywood to be this fantasy character’s next path to tread under his sandaled feet.

Ridley Scott… Oliver Stone… Many talented directors attempted to bring “Conan The Barbarian” to theaters before writer/director John Milius’ inspired script finally got it right and brought the project to fruition. John’s vision, which some critics called “horribly violent” and “sexist”, captured the true lifeblood and essence of the Hyborian Age and all its brutality and sinister ways. Directed on location in Spain for Universal Pictures, it starred world renowned bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan of Cimmeria and Shakespearean actor James Earl Jones as the dreaded snake cult leader Thulsa Doom.

As always, making a motion picture about any character with a large fanbase creates controversy, and Conan The Barbarian was no different. Many fans questioned most of the inexperienced cast and their acting ability. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a world champion bodybuilder. Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman, was a professional dancer. Even the director’s surfing partner took on the role of Subotai. Overwhelmingly, other than James Earl Jones, the cast was perceived as great lot of physical specimens rather than accomplished actors. Confusion also lingered among purists regarding Milius’ choice to retell Conan’s origin, which somewhat contrasted with the purist understanding of the barbarian’s earlier years. But other fans defended the retelling, arguing that creator Robert E. Howard never truly fleshed out Conan’s childhood, only briefly touched upon it. Moreover, they were quite pleased that Milius honored the legacy of Conan by sampling script ideas from many of Conan’s original tales like “The Tower of the Elephant” and “The Thing in the Crypt”.

Whichever side fans took, most couldn’t help not to revel in the sure beauty of the film… especially its Fantasy panting-like cinematography, awe inspiring original score and its seriousness in tone (something sorely missing in the later and utterly inferior sequel.) So, like all forms of media before it, the film Conan The Barbarian was a success and is now considered a classic among fans of the sword & sorcery genre. Conan was once again triumphant.

That same year, Power Records released the story of “Conan The Barbarian” which was surprisingly good among movie adaptation albums of its time. Known more for creating stories for adolescents, it was really quite astonishing to see Power Records adapt a “R” rated film, gloriously filled with masses of graphic violence, explicit nudity and even an orgy! The adaptation did exclude the “worst” parts of the film of course, but most mothers I know would balk upon their children listening to lines like “The last image I saw was my parent’s heads on a pair of Vanir pikes!” This adaptation was obviously made for young adults.

A whole new cast of actors were used, and the actors chosen for Conan, Subotai and The Wizard were an excellent choice. Conan is more intelligent than he appeared in the film, in the vein of the original Robert E. Howard writings. Actually, the original film script called for Conan to have more dialogue and narrate his own story rather than Mako’s ‘The Wizard’ doing the chronicling. But due to Schwarzenegger’s thick accent, much of Conan’s lines were trimmed down and/or removed in trade of Arnold’s powerful visual presence, which is where a problem lies. I actually had trouble appreciating this adaptation at first. Being a great fan of the film, I had the original actor’s voices and their dialogue (or Conan’s lack thereof) imprinted in my mind so deeply, it was hard to listen with a fresh perspective. Challenging yourself to give it a second “go around” is where the reward lies!

Conan narrating his tale is not the only difference between the adaptation and the actual film. Though fans of the film will be pleased to know that practically all of the story differences you hear were actually in the original John Milius script, before they were edited for various creative and/or monetary reasons. Some differences are subtle, like Thulsa Doom’s high priests are named Yaro and Rexor (rather than the familiar Rexor and Thorgrim). Others are larger events, like when Conan and Subotai enter the cities of Zamora looking to plunder the riches of the snake tower. While traveling through the filthy city of Shadizar, the script & adaptation details an extra scene of Conan and Subotai witnessing a snake cult procession moving through the streets. This is where Conan first hears the cursed chant of his nemesis Thulsa Doom since his parent slaying so long ago. He also gets his first glance of the haunting Princess he would later steal for King Osric, as she calls out to Conan from her platform, commanding him to “throw down his sword” in the name of Set. It’s a great scene.

My only gripe with the record adaptation is I wish it featured the film’s original score. While the orchestration Power Records uses is vast and surprisingly well done, it’s hard to stand against the classic work of composer Basil Poledouris. Though, with their excellent cast and matching production values, this can be easily overlooked. Especially when listening to the “new” dialog and scenes ultimately left on the cutting room floor. As a fan of all things Conan and especially the films, it creates quite a thrill and leaves you slightly imagining… what might have been.