The SFFaudio Podcast #645 – READALONG: Red Plenty by Francis Spufford

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #645 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Bryan Alexander, and Will Emmons talk about Red Plenty by Francis Spufford

Talked about on today’s show:
a book, not a novel, a fairy tale, is it a novel?, the novel format is old and no longer novel, a thread back to The Efficiency Expert, The People’s The People’s Republic Off Walmart, Four Futures, Trekonomics, Looking Backward, The Coming Race, The Iron Heel, a utopian international experiment, Karl Marx, things out of books, that terrible Vril book, THIS IS REAL!, Marxism vs. Vrilism, the worst takes on communism and the Soviet Union, a nice feel, a meditation, a very personal book, the different socialist personality types, taking personal responsibility for what happened in the Soviet Union, the blood clogging the drain, Pete Seeger, apologizing for Stalin, baiting people to defend death camps, Carl Davidson, Students For A Democratic Society, something her regrets, Democratic Kampuchea, Cambodia, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, very touching, one man’s personal meditation about his feelings about socialism, does the dog die at the end?, writing into the newspaper, more atheism, unschooled in things can hit on stuff, whether there will be mental illness under socialism, what’s truly painful about what happened in the soviet union, millenarianism, I’m for the end of the world, our religious history, colonial South Africa, they killed all their cows, trying to end the, 2012 (2009) is a comedy, Greenland (2020) is even funnier, the sad part, magical thinking, religious thinking, QAnon, the Millerites, the great disappointment, group magical thinking, a harbinger figure, 12th imamism, how this will be understood in 1,000 years, Saint George, an issue in the collective mind, Trump will be a kind of figure like a Saint George, Babylon 5, The Deconstruction Of Falling Stars, the magical tablecloth, the seven league boots, the invisible cap, a protest letter, shut up and say nothing you’ll be fine, how long can this magic work, straight to the Soviets, Uighurs, Venezuela, do you think you’ll do it better this time, 100 years of building socialism, the worst version, industrializing quickly, the high cost, the book is focused on the 50s and 60s, the break from Stalin, Khrushchev, the utopian drive, the dream, GDP data, defeating the Nazis, industrialization, a weird idea for a novel, a weird beast, exactly on the same topic, a command economy, a planned economy, putting politics in command of the economy, Dracula, Kim Stanley Robinson, science fiction and historical novels are similar, 19th century social novel, very satisfying, the dream behind it, Ernst Bloch, better sausage, the framing of a fairy tale, something Disney never touches (hunger), Hansel and Gretel is about hunger, a house made of food, you become the food, the primal level, a genius move, Ivan is the Russian version of Jack, Lois McMaster Bujold, John Brunner, Stand On Zanzibar, a meta-level, John Dos Pasoss, Soviet film and literature, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Russian humour, Jacobin, Leigh Phillips, Michal Rozworski, linear programming, Verso sales, the Soviet Union as a corporation, the math wasn’t there, what’s always left out is the other player, Cuba, embargoed from the world and yet somehow they are still communist, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, evident in all sorts of places, a thesis, where were the Russians were not really successful, Russian cars, everybody is competing, hard top argue that Russian military aircraft are worse, SU-27, the Steel Eaters (the military industrial complex), the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union was terrible at consumer goods, the kitchen debate, The Death Of Stalin (2017), Steve Buscemi, Network (1976), linear programming charts, lets address that idea, the problems of world communism, pro-american?, what small countries do, Vietnamese glasnost, Spains’ Mondragon, Mondragon vs. neo-liberals, a gleam of hope, not Stalinist, if Lenin or Stalin hated you…, Robin Williams, Russians jokes don’t have a punchline, the blackmarketeer, the buyer agent, standing in for a helluv a lot of people, very real, one of Jesse’s students, an unofficial offer from Harvard, this is the goal of every Chinese mom, hey I’m very happy to say my son is at Oxford, access to the reins of power, you’re one of us now, do amazingly well on the exams, you pay for it, legacy, something like an economy and rigged in the same way, Operation Varsity Blues scandal, just the tip of the iceberg, novelistic, demanding behavior, the scam artists, elaborate, my daughter is a professional rower, very real, when he gets picked up by the cops, a shakedown, a lashing out, a beat-down, spontaneous?, special arrangement shit, what greases the wheels, Pete Buttegieg, that’s very very real, a weird economy with perverse incentives, exploited effectively and efficiency, it is objectively interesting to see polite people interact with impolite people, why it is a compelling story, attempting a little Marxism, a system is going to be dynamic, look at the contradictions, the criminals became the main economy, China is the 70s and the 50s, automatically give birth to robust black market sectors, the education industry, Felicity Huffman, a bunch of rich people need to get their kid into a university, users and offerers of services, hire a Jesse, what Evan’s school does, more counselors than teachers, grade inflation, begging for grades, pressure from the bosses, top 50 or top 100 schools, they don’t really deserve it, the Svoiet Union’s education system, you can’t do humanities, more engineering, philology, a flood of highly competent flood, cancel cultures, the problem with cancel culture is it doesn’t cancel enough, during the purges, during the War, killing people and expanding operations, massively expanding education, massively educating in the sciences, so many programmers coming out of the former Soviet Union, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Kolyma Tales, the NRA (under FDR), an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Nog, “Treachery, Faith And The Great River”, Sisko’s desk, Picard’s desk, Jesse spends a lot of time reading, in the military, Parker’s backstory, he was selling jeeps to the Nazis, common throughout any system, external pressure keeps the people more united, the Cold War was not as pressured as we might thing, making the system work despite the problem, a lot of merit to what Marx was saying, part 4, this problem comes up, spread out the pain, prisoner’s dilemma, side quest with the police, The Wire, mandates from the top, middle managers, its kid of universal, this book doesn’t explain why all this failed, not buying the plan completely, some PUBG rando starts talking about communism, its becoming a genuine option at this point, the forever war in Afghanistan, their war in Afghanistan was too much, when the top people don’t care, the description of Kruschev, Stalin I really cares a lot, Kurschev: I care too, I’m more of an ideas man, I’m a psychology guy, Ronald Regan, George H. Bush, back to being competent, Obama’s latest 25 hour book, the clown president, no one is arguing isn’t demented, why communism talk is spreading now, the book is talking about private desires and private pleasures, overall despair at the broader systems, climate change, economic inequality, the cold war training (indoctrination), Firefox (1982) with Clint Eastwood, Gorky Park (1983), all a fantasy, in the movies its always winter in Russia, Galena’s giving birth, suffering in childbirth, give us morphine, pain in childbirth is capitalist propaganda, my husband is powerful you better give me morphine, corruption, one of the most important scenes in the book, a symbolic summing up, this really painful thing, she just breaks, this is what happens to the communists, relying on lies to ration goods, a very human thing, if that’s the attitude it’s not going to work, can they successfully manage information, free-market theorists, Ludwig von Mises, progress in women’s rights, childbirth plummeting, hero-mother, pleasure, physical goods, practical healthcare, housing, the replicators, industrial replicators, a machine that can solve your wants, 100% free when you show up, what is a little bit hard to understand, oversell on medical services, you have to be your own advocate, it helps to be vocal, I’m going to call my MP, hospital managers don’t want to deal with that shit, home-care, more and more disabled people have the ability to hire and fire their own employees, I need my butt wiped every day (not every second Tuesday), a mixed system, not top down bureaucracy, do what you want you know what you need, people are desperate, the current system of capitalism fuckin sucks, the industrialized countries are least interested in market reforms, a decline, its going to be guillotines and a revolution, time to revisit why socialism never happened in America works, the frontier, the Red Scares, running out of explanations, Russia Russia Russia!, the Democratic party, quashing its left flank, Occupy protestors, Woodrow Wilson, the populists, trans-partisan and anti-elite, upset with the status quo, Joe Biden, suspicious and skeptical, Pavlovian when it comes to socialism, Putin is communist, an old habit, reflexive, moronic, people under 50, what Scandinavia has, Canada, we’re going to flee to if X becomes president, closing comments from Francis Spufford, gender, teaching at an AP center in China, Human Geography, 6 kids vs. 3, Israel and Idaho, going through modernity, land reform, marriage law, revolutionary in terms of gender, no fully liberated, the education themes, Lenin’s parents, Philly Socialists, a public service program called Red Plenty, In hopes of 21st century socialism, the economist and the apparatchik, conscious arranger, Olaf Stapledon.

The Magic Tablecloth

Red Plenty by Francis Spufford

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The SFFaudio Podcast #358 – READALONG: The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #358 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, Simulacrum vs. Simulacra, Dick is right in complaining about the title, Ace Books, what this book is about, “The First Lady Of The United States”, in the background, a tiny little hint, are chupas androids?, a closed-circuit-like passing spasm, who and what are robots, simulacrum, undercooked, best novel or worst novel, the audiobook, well-crafted, juggling, so confusing, a populated novel, psychoanalyzing Philip K. Dick, the settings, a complex complicated world, the Warsaw Pact, Poland, the Soviet Union, jalopies, why is the world the way it is?, der alter = the old man, Philip K. Dick saying…, my wife is my boss, changeable husbands, my emotions aren’t real, a fine idea for an SF novel, Queen Elizabeth II, the society is profoundly different, they don’t have books (or knowledge about anything), projecting into minds, your one chance, mass psychosis, societal control, a caste system, “the Ges”, the USEA society, education?, hobbies, “Let’s Watch Nichole”, it was nightmare world, passing the social studies test to keep your apartment, deep sea divers, knowing the numbers, a glimmering seed of an idea, revisionist history all the time, busywork, having political correct terms for everything, a Stalinist version of this story, the New Pravda, Wikipedia, “the euphemism treadmill”, what sounds like attack words, the word shit is a shitty word, toilet, escape to another planet, there’s always people going off-world, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, when you leave Earth, service simulacra, a worker of your own to help you, a warm jacket and a packed lunch, quick divorce, “I divorced my wife last night”, the Frontier Thesis, Frederick Jackson Turner, space as the new frontier, “the artificial worlds of Philip K. Dick”, the default, “the final frontier”, colonizing the solar system and the universe, other countries, Canadian bacon exists, moving to another apartment complex is a huge deal, what will the kids think?, a satire, the latest season of Homeland, an unprecedented, American television is very strange, House Of Cards, has there ever been an American television series set in another country?, not a Netflix show, tricked Americans into seeing another country, increasing America, the Berlin Airlift, JFK, the Philippine conquest, and Cuba, Germanophile weirdness, time travel is very easy, why always with the Hermann Göring in SF?, “he looks like he’s having fun”, he knows how to use power, Caligula, monsters, you have to have dinner with someone in the Third Reich, To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer, why is Hermann Göring in this book?, a transplanted plot?, looking to change time, palace intrigue, a time war, hilarious, more of everything, he’s running into himself, Sir Francis Drake, Time Pawn aka Dr. Futurity, apartment complexes, The Man Who Japed, fear of the pop-quiz, history isn’t neat, from democracy to totalitarian hermit kingdoms, baroque weird alien things (from the outside), it hangs itself (together), jug bands?, “Jug Band Plays The Whitehouse”, Richard Congrosian believes his body odor is lethal, Chick, chupa, the way Dick’s mind works, she’s so mean she can’t be a robot, that explains my lack of emotion, palupas are fake, am I invisible?, nits?, the crawling advertisements, they shoot the adveritzments to make them shut up, the reason Richard Congrosian thinks he stinks, I’ve had sex with 755 women, I’ve met three presidents of the United States, the default response, brainwashing, Jesse is sensitive to scent, Tide laundry detergent, gender equality vs. not touching door-handles, Paul’s superpower is he can smell ketchup from a mile away, Jesse thinks the general public is brainwashed by clothing cleaning products advertising, soap operas, Gain laundry detergent, advertising a product can create a market, fake creation of desire, the pets, my sheep’s not real, like the Dr. Bloodmoney, psychiatry, Mars, neanderthals, political factions, mutants, he just read something, The Crawlers, “more evolved” isn’t really a thing, a group of sad-sack mental deficients, what circumstances would allow you to enjoy a future that is grim?, he wanted vegetables and they gave him a coin, if they were the simulacra at the end, waiting for their time to rise up over the humans, the neanderthals will inherit the earth, this (novel) is a stew, not the best meal he (Dick) has served, electic music enterprise, do they have any ethnic music before you die?, funny digs, German conglomerates, Dick seemed to enjoy writing this, the next thing you know you have twenty characters and ten plots, it’s all held together by Dr. Egon Superb, Strikerock, Wilder Pembroke, National Police, one of his biographies or an interview, other than being a psychoanalysis of his own marriage, Dick never came at it from whatever the dominant view was, sometime in this period…, communists, the FBI came by and interviewed him, a locked filing cabinet, bikers, drug addicts, the FBI, or he did it, he became friends with one of the FBI agents (who taught Dick to drive), Donald A. Wollheim, in the paranoid phase, I’m gonna help out, no matter what novel there’s only thirty or forty people in the entire society, eventually their in the crank file, when you see the NP men, the Secret Service, an insight, when Philip K. Dick is at home he’s at work, all grist for his mill, when he isn’t writing novels he’s writing letters to the FBI, a terrible Philip K. Dick novel but a pretty good science fiction novel, fun and funny, a prism, that’s okay, sometimes you get stuff that’s okay, was there boobs?, “she had high-rise breasts”, 90-year old breasts, no quivering breasts, they were poking out every now and then, “her breasts protruded divinely”, we have marriage we have boobs, somebody is drinking coffee, you can see his life, so true, so familiar, just hanging out with Philip K. Dick again, random Germans, he likes Germans, hanging out with Philip K. Dick.

ACE Books - F301 - The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick
The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick - Illustration by Ed Emshwiller
Chris Moore illustration of Philip K. Dick's The Simulacra

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #222 – READALONG: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #222 – Jesse, Jenny, Paul Weimer and Bryan Alexander discuss Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Talked about on today’s show:
The audiobook, Recorded Books, the appendix, The Lord Of The Rings, the feeling in your right hand, a dream-like book, Room 101, a disjointing of time, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Signet Classic, already a member of the Junior Anti-Sex League at 12, a 1971 sex drive, memory, Winston Smith’s obsession with the past, the three traitors, the Soviet Union as applied to Britain, show trials, it is so effective, The Running Man is a prole version of Nineteen Eighty-Four, “WHITMAN, PRICE, AND HADDAD!!! You remember them! There they are now, BASKING under the Maui sun.”, down the memory hole, the brutality of the movies and the applause of the audience, the crushing of weakness, the terrible children, the 1954 BBC TV version starring Peter Cushing, Winston’s own memories of his childhood, did Winston kill his sister, his bowels turn to water when he see a rat, the return of the mother, a bag of decay, the 1984 version of 1984, John Hurt looks like he was born to play Winston Smith, is it Science Fiction?, dystopia, does this feel like Science Fiction?, Social Science Fiction, If This Goes On… by Robert A. Heinlein, Animal Farm, Goldstein’s Book, the re-writing of history, collapsing the vocab, The Languages Of Pao by Jack Vance, Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, The Embedding by Ian Watson, Isaac Asimov’s review of Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell imagines no new vices, WWIII, in regular SF we get used to a lack of motifs, the coral, the memories, the place with no darkness, everything is recycled in a dream and people merge, in dream logic 2+2 can equal 5, reduction of the world and the self, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, soma, The Hunger Games, Wool by Hugh Howey, cleaning day, grease, transformed language, a crudboard box, euphony, a greasy world, a comparison to We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, We The Living by Ayn Rand, Harcourt Brace, Politics And The English Language by George Orwell, V For Vendetta, Norsefire vs. IngSoc, a circuitous publishing history, crudpaper, prole dialect, part dialect, New Speak, military language, Generation Kill, military language is bureaucratic language, Dune by Frank Herbert, Battle Language, private language, Brazil, the thirteen’s hour, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, victory means shit, Airstrip One, speakwrite, Star Wars, careful worlding, a masterwork, a transformation and an inoculation, watch 1984 on your phone while the NSA watches you watch it, North Korea, “without getting to political”, 2600‘s editor is Emmanuel Goldstein, the traitor Snowden, that’s what this book is, it’s political, The Lives Of Others, hyper-competent, the bedroom scene, “We are the dead.”, how did the picture break off the wall, dream-logic, Jesse knows when he’s dreaming, if you dream a book you must generate the text, dreaming of books that don’t exist, a great sequel to Ringworld?, The Sandman, “We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.”, O’Brien, Martin, the worst thing is you can’t control what you say when your sleeping, uncanny valley,

Whatever it was, you could be certain that every word of it was pure orthodoxy, pure IngSoc. As he watched the eyeless face with the jaw moving rapidly up and down, Winston had a curious feeling that this was not a real human being but some kind of dummy. It was not the man’s brain that was speaking, it was
his larynx. The stuff that was coming out of him consisted of words, but it was not speech in the true sense: it was a noise uttered in unconsciousness, like the quacking of a duck.

Polar Express, the book within the book, high end books, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, is London the capital of Oceania?, the value of the book, Stephen Fry’s character, a book that tells you only things you already knew, The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick, the possibilities of other books, supercharged moments in movies, Twelve Monkeys, Dark City, Book Of Dreams, utopias within dystopias, reading in comfort and safety, the golden place, Julia is a pornosec writer, Robert Silverberg, Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Processed Word by John Varley, Russian humor, is there really a war?, power is the power to change reality, Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, doublethinking it, the proles seem to be happier, feeling contempt, lottery tickets depress Jesse, “renting the dream”, the proles are obsessed by lotteries, who is the newspaper for?, the chocolate ration, Larry Gonick’s The Cartoon History Of The Universe, how stable is Oceania?, guys and Guy, how stable is North Korea?, Christopher Hitchens, there’s no hope in 1984, the subversion mechanism has been subverted, changing human behavior, Walden Two by B.F. Skinner, Faith Of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick, genocide, racial purity, are they bombing themselves?, where does Julia get all her treats?, utopia is a nice cup of coffee, The Principle Of Hope by Ernst Bloch, what’s missing from your life comrade?, is Julia playing a role?, she’s the catalyst for everything, misogyny vs. misanthropy, Nietzsche’s master morality slave morality, political excitement is transformed into sexual excitement, ‘I have a real body it occupies space (no you don’t you’re a fictional character)’, Julia’s punk aesthetic, I love you., she’s the dream girl, the romantic couple that brings down the bad order, The Revolt Of Islam by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Pacific Rim, The Matrix, Equilibrium, Mephistopheles, Mustapha Mond, Jesse thought she was in on it, the prole lady out the window, nature, ragged leafless shrubs, nature has been killed, the Byzantine Empire, the Catholic Church, cult of personality vs. an idoru Big Brother, Eurythmics, we’re nostalgic for the Cold War, the now iconic ironic 1984 Apple commercial, dems repubs NSA, has Britain been secretly controlling the world using America?, George Bernard Shaw, society and politics, SF about the Vietnam War, petition for and against the war, Judith Merril, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, China.

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Reader's Digest 1984

Reader's Digest 1984

Reader's Digest 1984

Reader's Digest 1984

Reader's Digest 1984

Mori's 1984

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Singularity by Bill DeSmedt

Podibook Review

Podcast - The SingularitySingularity
By Bill DeSmedt; Read by Bill DeSmedt
47 MP3 Files – 20 Hours 24 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Podiobooks.com
Published: 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / Hard SF / Tunguska Event / Black Holes / Time Travel / Near Future/ Cloak & Dagger / Quantum Physics / Soviet Union /

June 30th, 1908 – In the remote Tunguska region of Siberia, the most violent cosmic collision in recorded history flattened ancient forests over an area half the size of Rhode Island. Yet after a hundred years of international scientific research the cause of this impact remains a mystery.

Several people told me Singularity was worth listening to. But of course I figured they we’re probably wrong, I’m not easy to please. But because it was FREE I told myself to give it a chance. I have to say I was astounded! After a longish introduction, more of a history lesson, the real story takes off. And boy, does it! Like a Nelson DeMille novel with Saturn V booster strapped to it! This is incisive Hard SF set in a near future with plenty of action, some very cool ideas and even a bit of romance. The plot orbits around the mystery of the 1908 Tunguska Event. The action intertwines cloak and dagger with quantum physics in a tidal dance. I’m no physics major, but the scientific explanations were clear and compelling. You know a story’s good when you end up looking up some of the ideas. The tale is fleshed out through a large cast of central characters: Jonathan Knox, a consultant to elite government agencies, is the engaging lead protagonist. Knox has a knack with finding patterns in giant fields of data – a trait attributable to a voyage his mind went on once. Marianna Bonaventure, his soon to be lover, is a federal government agent on the trail of a missing materials scientist. Physicist Jack Adler is on the same trail as Knox and Marianna, but he doesn’t know it yet. Together, and apart they are in a race that may have been predetermined as unwinnable before it started, only the laws of causality know. Opposing them is a set of rationally motivated villains – with the weight of an multi-billion dollar corporate empire behind them. Leading them is, Arkady Grigoriyevich, who spends most of his time aboard a converted mega-yacht, that is now a floating laboratory. DeSmedt packs about a dozen terrific SF ideas into his tale. Also included in the podcast feed is an informative question and answer bonus MP3 file with the author himself. I am eagerly awaiting the follow-up novel, cleverly titled, Duality.

I tend to enjoy audiobooks narrated by authors, as they know exactly when and where to pause, what words to accentuate and how to pronounce the character names. But DeSmedt was not a perfect narrator, in fact at the start he sounded nervous. I was worried, but gradually as the chapters flowed the anxiety faded, and by the end I he was reading like a professional. Maybe his female voices need a bit more practice, but I swear, all those Russian accents were perfect.

I downloaded Singularity from Podiobooks.com for free, but when I did I could only get the first half of the novel. It was being released piecemeal, chapter by chapter, as podcasts. I have heard many people enjoy this delivery style; and it probably works for serial adventures or short story collections but I don’t like it for novels. I quickly listened to the first 20 chapters of the book in quick succession only to then have to wait for a whole month to finish it. Next time I visit podiobooks.com I’ll be making sure the serialization is completed before starting another novel. Another issue, selecting the next podcast once a chapter was finished was a real bitch. I drive a standard transmission automobile and my iPod is stuck into a faraway cigarette lighter. Every time a chapter of Singularity ended I would be made to reach over to rip my iPod out of the transmitter/charger and then hold on to it and the steering wheel while trying to navigate the menu to figure out which chapter was next. The podcasts delivery system would have been far better if I could have started and the ended the story in the same file, in other words what I needed was one big podcast, the novel in one file.