The SFFaudio Podcast #560 – READALONG: Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #559 – Jesse, Marissa VU, and Terence Blake talk about Day Million by Frederik Pohl.

Talked about on today’s show:
a panel on the New Wave, reading the New Wave, stuck in Jesse’s craw, against movements, cyberpunk, that one William Gibson book, steampunk, as it was happening, H.L. Gold, Galaxy Magazine, John W. Campbell, Analog, not that, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, the label science fiction or fantasy, a reaction, quite impressed, really casual, the way it is written, the plot is pathetic, so meta, SF Impulse, mathematically wrong, 10,000 years from now, 1,000 years, the year 3,000, he’s describing 2019 or 1966, he met a girl and took her phone number, copyright 1966 by Rogue Magazine, a sub-Playboy, all the meta-stuff, just I guy who likes boobs, the whole thing is about sex, a direct injection of ideas, a little red convertible, how angrily you recoil from the page, who wants to read about a pair of queers, so innovative, transgender folks that are pronouns that aren’t male or female, the 1980s, born in 1919, sums up all of the issues we won’t care about, just getting used to the idea, 2012 review, what makes it feel old and dated, dude-bro, the dude-bros are back, the dude-bro phenomenon, click around on YouTube, all sorts of people, anti-gay sentiment from totally gay, women are all about peace, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney’s daughter, this dude whose reading a girlie magazine, interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1981, trending, a phenomenon, the last hurrah, the narrator is criticizing you, everytime there’s an objection, on this way I want to tell you about, a boy a girl and a love-story, none of it is true, undercuts, 137 years old, not a girl, the urge to rape and the urge to submit, psychology, a pedagogical lesson in what SF is, poignant sentiment, it sounds sarcastic and full of cliches, beginning with a hyperbole, just before the singularity, present day concerns, silly requirements long since left behind, the end, Spider Robinson’s podcast on this story, permission to read, what very well may be the ultimate science fiction short story, a lot of competition, edging out a lot of the competitors, more interesting, an introduction to science fiction, Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction 101, a terrible story

And you—with your aftershave lotion and your little red car, pushing papers across a desk all day and chasing tail all night—tell me, just how the hell do you think you would look to Tiglath-Pileser, say, or Attila the Hun?

boom, he dropped the mic, and walked away saying “I just showed you what science fiction is, yo.”, whisky, shaving everyday, everybody’s all beardy, ride horses and subdue cities, a man sits behind a desk, he bbqs stakes in the back yard, that is fucking weird, some of it is preposterous, the most normal stuff, VR stuff, personality copying, prosthetics, cavities filled, rude parts removed, organs, a new wave retelling of Scanners Live In Vain, Pohl fell in love with Cordwainer Smith, stacking up the famous science fiction writers, eventually you would get to Pohl, he was there the whole time, the opposite of Campbell’s movement, writing and editing magazines, he didn’t do the Moon Landing, with Cyril Kornbluth he wrote The Space Merchants, the Senator from Proctor And Gable, a book for millennials, sleeping on the stairs, near death of capitalism, a near singularity story, Don and his voyages, circled Alpha Centuri, agricultural implements, 10,000 planets, but you don’t care about that either, its people who make stories, making a concession, science fiction has no real characters or character development, full of circumstances, he’s mocking the reader, double meta reverse irony, you think I’m crazy, that part is boring, it doesn’t deliver what the readers want, oh my god, he’s right!, you don’t understand your place, there just different, offhand comments, you might be thinking about, they didn’t care, Dora is a dancer, the audience doesn’t care, you can’t make babies with her, that’s not natural, he responds to every dude-bro idea, “No”, I still don’t like it, Jesse’s two personalities, natural is good bullshit, everything is difference and everything is change, the smell of peanut butter, that she’s got a pelt, lives under the sea, gills, zero-g dancer, capable of deploying more energy that Portugal in a year, she doesnt sweat in the normal way, she’s up to peanut butter, musky honey, she’s more like a beaver or an otter, a platypus, he’s cranching all the time, getting his legs renewed, only the brain feels, the top tier of the middle class, the ads, an MG roadster, tennis rackets, cigars, cars, turtlenecks, a men’s fashion magazine, even the title, he gets about, a naughty wink wink, an aspirational lifestyle magazine, a tame rascal, Dude, Where’s My Car?, The Hangover, hipsters WWII veterans, the many many anthology, Worlds Of Wonder, not for an audience that’s familiar with SF, for the thinking man who has boobs, the cover illustration for SF Impulse, a human female near the horizon, are you guys seeing what I’m seeing, those calypgean hips = nice ass, she has a tail, not literally childbearing, Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein, conceived earlier and decanted later, birthing technology, plausibility, you can’t gill people up anytime soon, beyond the singularity for Jesse, birth control pills changed things a real fuckton, PROFOUND EFFECTS upon everything, thinking about science fiction as NOT about rocketships going to planets, incredibly valuable, its not supposed to be hard SF, an interesting shift, we could have sex for fun, how is this going to go, Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside, a mid-life crisis book, lets dwell with this idea, quite an interesting book, it feels like mainstream fiction, what effect would that have?, he can do whatever he wants, like a crutch…, there’s one person who had a cellphone that’s connected to the internet we have but his battery is getting weaker and weaker, you don’t know how to fix it, imagine you had that superpower for 40 years, and that’s science fiction, everything you know that you think is normal I’m cutting away, all the ground falls out from under you, more Buck Rogery style of story, nobody was writing it at that time, but it was translating into film, once you need Day Million in 1985…, a secret sin, science fiction as the literature of cognitive estrangement, it is but not what you expect, the tears and poignant sentiment, it made her feel sad, intensity of emotion, just their memories of each other, they’re not really human anymore, maybe dying earth, the death of humanity, post-human stories, I don’t get you, a couple texting, c u next time, being unable to understand, an ant on Jesse’s kitchen floor doesn’t know what Jesse’s doing in the next room, magnitude, an ant can’t understand a flea, singularities cropping, we’re not supposed to be able to understand, when the curve suddenly changes direction, artificial intelligence, deciding to give up peanut butter, record it for LibriVox, The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, what the people who were talking, Mankind consisted of 128 people, so vast a horde, sometime ago Earth was invaded by aliens, vast their huge their massive, humans as rats in walls of aliens houses, that change of magnitude, not only in time, an incommunicable difference, Virgil Finlay illustrations, dude, podcast, that’s the one, we can do that then, Of Men And Monsters, even if you’re the only thing in the universe, copies copulating with other copies, they need to meet each other, they met at the encoding room and they blushed, do they have to do it to tape it, making a digital copy of themselves, kids today, looking at their phones lovingly, all that sensory detail with them, they have friends too, passion of kiss in symbolic mathematical form, a residue of flesh or body, supercomputer tinder, when they lived in Seattle with a bunch of friends and dating with OK Cupid, a traditional Hollywood Meet Cute, oh shit vs oh hell, the exhibition has an open fly, balls you say vs rats you say, everything is virtual, dose of fleshiness, masterfully put together, Jesse feels to privileged, that wasn’t universally true, a story from Weird Tales called Pity Me! by Bertha Russell, in 1928, an old man who gets his jollies from having sex with dead bodies, she came back to life, how could this be?, this does not fit, 1920s flappers, great grandma and great grandpa were swingers, “problematic”, losing their jobs, they published that?, have you met a 15 year old, no matter where you go you find humans in time, comforting, they’re just like us but their circumstances are different, that big gap, what the publishing industry is putting out, whatever I’ve been reading recently will inform the plots, whatever you put in you’ll get out, if you only prime yourself science fiction novels you’ll get science fiction novels, read widely, watching science fiction TV and want to write a novel, new drafts coming in, the camera is panning in around things, a new phenomenon too, comics that are written as adaptation to Netflix, the art’s good, designed to be adapted as a Netflix series, what’s new this week, so many show there is no way to keep track, you could never catch up, feeding that hunger mill, all the competition for Netflix is starting this month and next and next year [2020], 40 other shows to buy that day, sometimes that works, give me your most innovative story, he was editor of Galaxy and If: Worlds On Science Fiction, playing to the market, being terrible, they say Netflix on the side, a mill aspect, what the reaction of the New Wave is against, Algis Budrys, regular science fiction of the 30s and 40s and 50s, a monetary currency that had been debased, a bunch of tropes that were all worn out, telepathy, Ray Bradbury would use that same vocabulary and do his own thing with it, Heinleinian style Asimovian stlye, more internal, one human being failing, taking drugs on a ship, Charles Stross, a human observer, Ted Chiang, hermeneutics,

Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci’s face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face and back with the Mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.

“I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It’s my worry, isn’t it?”

When Luci answered, he saw only a part of her words as he read her lips: “Darling … you’re my husband … right to love you … dangerous … do it … dangerous … wait ….”

He faced her, but put sound in his voice, letting the blare hurt her again: “I tell you, I’m going to cranch.”

set in the same universe, the 1950s housewife, the other Cordwainer Smith story, The Lady Who Sailed The Soul, explain a photograph to a neanderthal, our way of seeing telepathy, we know what they’re thinking, accessible to the inner eye, a perfect reproduction, captures a moment, what difference does it make, everything is fantasy, everything out in the world is projection, fighting in a Battle Royale for a Chicken Dinner, romantic relationships can be…, the encoding room, their friends were there to cheer them on, are the friends physically there?, he’s a star man, on Wednesday, he takes all his friends with him, like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi?, over there there’s Ben Kenobi, how much is virtual is ambiguous, I saw you on the bus you dropped your glasses, are you looking for me?, never lose those interactions, your ex-wife never becomes your ex-wife, and husbanded, the only thing we’re almost sure of, totally programmed world, atoms all fall down, all the rest could be 100% virtual, sometimes the requirements of the human need for storytelling requires a certain page count, two sentence long story, what day is it?, Day Million, that’s not the way we count, tweaking his audience’s nose, his tongue is firmly planted, these things are coming faster, in your lifetime, the sexy version is “Night Million”, how many words, wordcounter.net, all these things we couldn’t do before except by hand, 2,122 words, 2,500 words, a very cynical view of relationships, that dating farce, the instinct to submit, kinda crass, no chasing, too animal, it really changes things for women, the Vanderbilt on CNN (Anderson Cooper), he comes from billionaire stock, billionaire DNA, gay bath houses and sex sex sex, a very straight gay man, “c’mon man”, the BC Civil Liberties Association, always suing the border customs guys, somebody at the border, philosophy of law, the gay bathhouse phenomenon in Toronto, homosexual men don’t have to worry about babies, as much sex as they want, imagine if women if women don’t need to have babies, as many husbands as they want, it does change the female psychology, females are scarce, get the equipment or marry somebody, it really changes things, you all have to start acting like gay men, the numbers of transitioners, more modest?, more randy?, gay bathouse men from the 1970s, men now living in a woman’s world, modifying their behavior, how people are externally treating them, the whole phenomenon of Saudi Arabia, women in the middle ages in Europe, we gotta keep that all locked down, the whole chastity belt, you can do a lot without electricity,

SF Impluse - Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Stellar Audio - Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #447 – READALONG: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #447 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about The Forever War by Joe Haldeman

Talked about on today’s show:
1974, if everybody in the modern era writes like him…, depth beyond the good writing and the ideas, what does it MEAN?!, a straightforward 1970s novel, ever further into the future, future-shock, war, Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary series, accelerated time, mid-2016 and now, WHAT the bleep has HAPPENED?, clown show, a politically traumatic time, 1967-1968, 1968-1969, Paul is my senior, draft dodgers taught Jesse, “not my president, hashtag”, leaving the USA for Canada, they stayed, making a peep, the elites (or quasi-elites) might have to go, the real plutocrats always found a way out, Jimmy Carter, McCain, John Kerry, that trick still works, the Russia thing, collusion, what skills does he bring to the table?, the John Podesta emails, Bill and Hill Clinton, flipped the script, they swift-boated him, a perennial technique, bringing it back to the book, all weird, another tour, all word, Earth is a dystopia, Earth became Texas, the first section, training on Charon, power-armor, technology, silly and weird predictions, Mogadishu, Somalia, the farm, lawless Horn of Africa, the center cannot hold, ever expanding military, no health-care for the mom, death-panel, trying to figure out what’s going on in the mind of the author, an analogy, this is why people sign back up (go on another tour), going back and forth, the big takeaway, oh, my mom’s gay, everybody’s gay!, everybody’s multi-racial now and I’m the queer, that’s interesting, now everybody is a clone, a hyperbolized version of the political changes, Cassius Clay -> Muhammad Ali (and great) -> now he’s a war-resister, the kind of military SF, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Armor by John Steakley, Old Man’s War, ooh it’s a twist (he’s not even white!), the movie adaptation of Starship Troopers, doing something slightly different, following forward, Jesse’s a big fan of the montage, tedium mixed with fear and shock, the military-industrial complex, romance novels for men, a focus on the specs of the pistols, the serial numbers on their special hand-grips, what gets them going in the night, he did a lot of math, gravity curves, MIT, political stripes, the legalization of cannabis, the acceptance of homosexuality, having latent feelings, a little looser, among those artist types, he’s the “old queer”, a funny twitter conversation: what’s really lacking today…, VHS vs DVD, we’ve become more prudish, conservative marketing, “no, we’ve lost context”, sexist!, homophobe!, “a latent heterosexual”, whenever you put a pressure on a large group of people results happen, everybody in our society is gay now, isn’t that interesting, look at the way we’re living now, the lack of context rule, when Potter converts to heterosexuality…, he’s not trying to target the audience of today, Heinlein was a weird guy, the way he obliquely attacks problems, no qualms about this book, an asexual cyborg, Forever Free, Forever Peace is excellent (Paul doesn’t like it), all about drone warfare, more artificial, The Accidental Time Machine, funny and delightful, Haldeman on Prisoners Of Gravity, he won everything (it was political), overwhelming, a thoughtful and reasonable guy, four serials of this book, Analog, Hero, “Screw you, sir!” -> “Fuck you, sir!”, Robert A. Heinlein’s naval service, a deep respect for the military, a hippie planet called “Middle Finger”, it starts with a “fuck you” and ends with a “Middle Finger”, Mandela’s psychological profile, leading from a position of empathy and ideas (instead of will), how the Marxist soldier during the Spanish Civil War would do business, ambiguous (ambivalent) feelings, Mike Vendetti, not something you take lightly, his emotions in his tweets, he’s got mixed feelings, a big mistake!, this war didn’t need to happen, ultimately the lesson, “support our troops”, taking a knee, a conflation with honouring the military, into the arms of the other f-word (fascism), a very nice point, politicians manipulating the people is nothing new, actual journalism with a critical eye, both Gulf Wars, “embedded with the troops”, stories in a patriotic light, propaganda, still happening today, Brian Williams’ ‘beauty of our missiles’, this book misses, told tightly from Mandella’s POV, the veterans are toured around the world, the comic book adaptation of The Forever War by Marvano (artist), Gay Haldeman (translation) and Joe Haldeman (script), Titan Comics, he stacked the deck, a counter-pole, there’s nothing here, the serialization, We Are Very Happy Here, necessary for serialization, a plot contrivance, 84-year old moms, joining the army for financial reasons, Marygay’s mother and father, true for the people of Somalia, pirates don’t do piracy for the sea-shanties, manipulated for our benefit, in the tradition of Starship Troopers (and not in the tradition), Heinlein’s generation vs. Haldeman’s generation, war with aliens, we become the alien, “you don’t understand politics”, why veteran are the only people are allowed to vote, politics of the era of Nixon vs. the politics of the era of Roosevelt, a “take that”, there was a revolt of veterans on earth at one point, the Bonus Army, the Revolutions Podcast, support our troops is a whip, the American support of the French in Vietnam, depending on how you calculate, a sunk cost fallacy, JFK needed to keep the war going past the next election, we can only badly infer it, what Jesse appreciated about Ender’s Game, a wish-fulfillment avatar for 13 year old boys, a lot of time in the online forums, reading a really deep reddit post, why that book is powerful, and here’s what’s missing, the general is a child, it kind of explains the real life generals, Netflix’s thinly veiled McCrystal biopic, there’s no job to be finished, there are no victory conditions, a frameworks for continuous unending war, without a draft it is an endlessly churning meat-grinder, a constant war economy, the government is being fleeced of its coffers by war profiteers, why is my standard of living falling?, pointing out the unfair, labeling it is not the solution, the Las Vegas shooting, “this is an act of domestic terrorism!”, we’re going to calm things down, slave revolts are not terrorism, labels are not the issue, the guns and the access to them are a bigger issue, people get caught up on the words and identity politics, sidestepping racism, sexual norms, a made-up name, he dodged the question, the charge of racism, google n-gram, nobody got suddenly racist, when they do the movie, Channing Tatum, they made a decision, socioeconomic status, a person’s story, the Ender’s Game movie, Johnny Rico is Filipino from South America, Ensign Kim is Scandinavian!, is it a weakness that the novel doesn’t explore racism?, a beautiful time capsule, Mandella’s psychology, Doctor Potter: I’m not prejudiced, the soldiers he was fighting beside were all his team and the fear of the enemy was more important than the colour of the skin of the soldier in the fox-hole with him, a media construction, real human beings, outside your bubble and your fears, deep deep resentment, prejudices of all kind, lived experience, ameliorating intolerance, a chance to grow and understand, an overoptimistic story?, a combat team, it treats racism as settled, let’s deal with homosexuality, Heinlein on homosexuality, a greater representation of gender-queer characters (male vs. female), painful and uncomforting, seeing the flaws within yourself, he’s a dude telling his own story, Diana, Margay gets her own standalone story, Spider Robinson, many changes, an excised fourth part, people read science fiction the wrong way, dangerous territory, Jesse you should read this this and this, this is a story of a dude like this…, reading off in my own direction, books written before I was born, reading the books written by the readers of recent books, unlike other genres (with the exceptions of mystery and crime), science fiction is a series of conversations between stories, your going to be missing a large part of the story, Day Million by Frederik Pohl, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, I Will Fear No Evil, gay characters in a story is passe, I don’t read the stories for the characters at all, reading it for the societies, reading it for the science, I want to see my values reflected, the battle on that last planet, where’s the rest of the story, why people read science fiction (other than to see their values relfected), world-building, effusive for Ringworld, literal world-building, reading to see representation, an era of character based, having not seen themselves they want to see themselves reflected, a sense of wonder, Paul Atreides is someone Paul could sink into, a white male protagonist, they’re not the classic, how cool the other stuff in that book is, why am I having a whispered conversation with this weird lady in my bedroom, kids never pay attention to the author until you graduate from that, cover artists, aha!, this other thing: the author, this Miguel Ferrer is the actor (not the writer), Tom Cruise movies have no writers, the French focus on the film director, it’s not the characters to me, what makes science fiction so different, soft science fiction, looking at trends and forces, here’s a society with a guaranteed annual income, he’s probably male, that Mack Reynolds novel stands out because it is representing me, the scarcity of jobs is important, world-building enough to spend, there’s no one true way to read science fiction, to misquote Rudyard Kipling, alien planets, we get to see Heaven (a paradise planet), we get to see life on a little planet in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud, a deep dive into William Mandella, academic to grunt, what a soldier’s life is like, waiting in a time, a lover or a nurse, reading for the Marygay-William relationship, the Church of Science Fiction, if you read it for the romance you’re going to be disappointed, a Heinleinian bit, looking it as a modern book, are there books still to be written in this conversation?, how Jesse would film the novel, people don’t just live happily ever after, H.E.A. (a romance term), Jonathan and Gary of the Coode Street podcast, how you want to slice it, Linda Nagata’s The Last Good Man, the “Red” series, in this particular thread, digitizing The Lathe Of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin, Le Guin doing Philip K. Dick, a great appreciator of PKD’s writing, she’s trying to have a conversation with Philip K. Dick, the Lovecraft conversation is so loud and churning, fulminating, denouncers, he’s now at max volume, how many sequels to Innsmouth, Ben Bova, a legacy of Analog and Astounding, John W. Campbell seemed to interfere, a pretty stupid man in many respects, the telepathic (psionics), add some bullshit element and you’ll get a sale, nobody writes those (psionics) books anymore, Julian May’s intervention novels, The Many Colored Land, August Derleth, not only a bad writer (a bad person), show me an alien that thinks as well as a man but not like a man, nicely reflected in what happens to the humans, you poor deluded human, Murray Leinster, A Martian Odyssey Stanley G. Weinbaum, an important story, H.G. Wells, I’ve got these great ideas and this piece of paper, thinking through the ideas, tell a story based on that world, what makes Dune so great, a gender-swapped version of Dune, monks instead of nuns, set on a waterworld?, this book has something for everybody.

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

Hero by Joe Haldeman - Analog June 1972 - Illustrated by Frank Kelly Freas

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

We Are Very Happy Here by Joe Haldeman - Analog, November 1973

End Game by Joe Haldeman - illustration by Vincent Di Fate - Analog, January 1975

End Game by Joe Haldeman - illustration by Vincent Di Fate - Analog, January 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

You Can Never Go Back by Joe Haldeman - Amazing, November 1975

Titan Comics - The Forever War - Issue 5

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #410 – READALONG: Protector by Larry Niven

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #410 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa discuss Protector by Larry Niven

Talked about on today’s show:
1973, Galaxy, June 1967, The Adults by Larry Niven, Phssthpok, the name of the ship, the cherubim, Lion, Ox, Human, and Eagle, baby angels, beaked, going deeper, the seraphim, Cherubism

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered trees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

the end

For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

how the aliens are described, aliens, The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft, previous encounters with Larry Niven, channeling all sorts of things, what did Maissa think?, a softer spot for Larry Niven, not sexist at all, Larry Niven’s best book, an abrupt ending, incomplete pieces, more Kobold, the artificial planetoid, Eden II, the first paperback release of Protector, a donut shaped planet with a tibit (Tim Horton’s), the belly button of the donut, donut holes, a monster or a fairy, Friday by Robert A. Heinlein, by all the Lords of Kobol, clicks, Battlestar Galactica, going Old Testament, going Mormon, a masterful novel, The Ringworld Engineers as a reprise of Protector, Ringworld as the light fun novel, the ending is so good, the horror, genocide, fighting for humanity, Roy Truesdale, tricking the nurses, fake cities, WWII, inflatable tanks, a page break, it seems only reasonable to novelize this report, that was fun, check the duplicate Stonehenge, the final three paragraphs, just behind this laser pulse, “I love you”, the novel is wrong, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, Betrayer Of Worlds, Protector has enough space battle to kill actual space battle novel (barring crappy space opera space battles), space seeds, biological bullshit, a highly motivated character, deeply reasoned, a quasi relative, the opposite of X-Wings and Tie fighters banking in outer space, we love it anyway, exactly the opposite, cool vs. functional, steel jacketed, magnetic field, the thinking behind the space battles wipes out everyone (writer’s) abilities to write any more, a galactic chess game vs. high-stakes poker, sub-light relativistic space battles, positional effects, Rules Of Engagement (or maybe Master of Orion ?, C.S. Forester, broadsides in space, a Frederick Pohl editorial from 1963, Spacewar! (literally mentioned in this book), Asteroids, a right turn in space, that’s why Larry Niven’s the best, playing with the laws of physics and he doesn’t cheat, the Hal Clement essay, honest poker, the panspermia aspect, World Of Ptavvs, the slavers, Homo habilis from the stars, dna based, the Slavers did it, the Sea Statue, a dissertation of free will, two divergent visions of Creation, when god stays or leaves, no progress, still animals, the image of the Eye and the Garden of Eden, the Eye In The Sky, I can see you – I can see through bushes, no art, Brennan can see, a sense of whimsy, a fun character, was Brennan a fake?, Truesdale’s protector, motivation, take me to you leader, so playful, he is their leader, amazing, paying fees, Oldavai, Crete, still in the breeding stage, a good book, bunches of questions and points, building the Ringworld, a different library, an expedition to Earth, an expedition to star X, their achilles’ heel, Ringworld Engineers is all echoes, we needed this book, Alice as in Alice In Wonderland, she left pregnant, play in the fields, but do not touch…, tell her about the Bluebeard myth (aka The Castle Of Murder), an egg, a chicken is an egg’s way of making another egg, you do not want to open that door, you do not want to eat of those Trees, the solution to the mystery of the novel, everyone has been kidnapped is a descendant of Brennan, farming and cultivating descendants, Brennan monster is playful in his play, Vandervecken, making a myth he can enjoy, consciousness before being changed, the vampires get consciousness in Ringworld Engineers, does it help you to have whimsy, the jury is out, a message of despair, the Pak is coming, the Kzinti, The Mote In God’s Eye, hard lessons, genocide, moties, motivation by need, Brennan painting his spacesuit, biding his time, a medieval castle, progeny, deep down the point is art is good, if you’re smart enough there is very little free choice, Teela Brown’s luck, the same subject, the root is perpetuated by a virus, colonizing the pak, what is smartness except efficiency, crossing a continent, struggling with money, why do people want it, what is money anyway?, money is food, keeping your food safe with food, why does Trump need more money, operating as a logical creature it is to make his progeny better off, it worked for Genghis, inheritance, straight out the genes, what motivates people, biological determinism, everyone needs motivation, stop eating, grasping after fake visions of punishment (or reward), a “death wish”, like Phssthpok I’ve made all human children my beneficiaries, the Public Domain PDF Page, a hip street, channeling Frank Sinatra, taking photographs, not sanguine, Larry Niven’s own financial circumstances, writing SF for a long period of time, Greg Bear, Halo novels, Blood Music don’t put money on the table, Niven’s work is playful, the reason for Niven’s renown, making the piece the best piece it can be, Gregory Benford, Bowl Of Heaven, collaborations, there are no spoilers,

Larry Niven proves a point here. Most other authors would be tempted to tell a story of this magnitude in a trilogy consisting of thousands of pages. Niven does it in a little over 200 pages. Granted, he keeps the featuring cast down to only a few individuals. But still…
-Dirk Grobbelaar

Among Others by Jo Walton, all his human characters blur together, Walton has a point, psychoanalyzing, SF isn’t a costume drama, John W. Campbell’s challenge: write me an alien that thinks as well as a man but unlike a man, Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves, Arrival, the story and the movie, Understand by Ted Chiang, Limitless (2011), and the rightly cancelled Limitless TV series, like the Minority Report TV show, from the sub-conscious to uplift and unconscious and conscious, Flowers For Algernon, flourishing and protected, seeing the manipulation happening, Sherlock Holmes, seeing the pattern no one else can see, intelligence, politics and the failures of politics, intelligence vs. manipulation, a smart person doesn’t gamble unless they know it isn’t a gamble, a war longer than the quagmire of the Vietnam War, all of that struggle, that’s the opposite of intelligence, Niven is right about intelligence and options, Brennan is not as bound, the golf course, did Brennan ever play the golf course that he built?, this would be good, having thought those through, how we see Brenna when he interacts with his Adam and Eve, he runs, the next thing that needs to be done, the efficiency we gain as adults, pretending to play dolls, the exigencies of adulthood, being a smart adult, I put away childish things, playing with LEGO, an angle to attack, LEGO as a awards, appreciating the enjoyment of play, having consciousness of his childhood, creations for a purpose, sharing vs. hoarding, pondering deep things, the mother vs. the father, Brennan’s modified suit with the Mother and Child, a savior figure, he’s the Madonna, their garden, playthings for the children, the Sol system is Brennan’s garden, have you noticed you haven’t had war?, exterminating the Martians, The Organleggers, capital crimes, China, the horror of rationality, organ transplantation, the RNA sequence, wiping your whole mind, the premise of Philip K. Dick’s Paycheck, Rammer by Larry Niven, A World Out Of Time, greater than human intelligence, we were manipulated into it, The Draco Tavern, playful comedic pieces, here’s a problem of science and here’s my solution, jokes, a whole subgenre of bar stories, The Callahan books by Spider Robinson, Lord Dunsany’s The Jorkens Stories, Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales Of The White Hart, chirality, thalidomide, an iceberg, Known Space, just one of Niven’s playgrounds, Hard Fantasy, The Magic Goes Away, as you use magic you deplete a natural resource, magic carpet, a dead spot, and back in these days amoeba were the size of whales, that’s how little magic is left, a Niven disc, a sense of sadness, set in the time of Atlantis, The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak, Niven as an efficient writer, jarring transitions, needing an editor, better than Clement, sex, a vitality, the weather is a little to clement in Clement’s world, Harry Stubbs, revisiting Protector, given Tree Of Life now Paul would… stop eating? wiping out half of humanity for reasons known only to him… in the New World Order, remaining human, being a mom, maternal feelings, a screaming red thing that came out of your body, are Protectors more like moms than dads?, genderless, oh sweetie, killing off all the creatures that threaten her children, warlike, a mother wouldn’t do that, is Niven right?, if you’re smart enough are their fewer and fewer courses of action?, the Teela monster, pretty sure Niven was never a mom, fierce viking grandparents, no free will, different motivation and different results, why does Brennan wait to convert Truesdale, poor Brennan, too much talking baby-talk, gender as an honorific, Protector Mom (please don’t write this as a sequel), something really original, a creation so original it is like a dragon or an elf, seeing the cat vs. monkey you’ve always wanted, the super-strong hominid vs. the intelligent tiger, Speaker vs. Teela, as Douglas Adams put it “Humans are not proud of their ancestors, and rarely invite them round to dinner.”, we got our own stuff going, the Traveller universe, most excellent.

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Virgil Finlay's illustrations for PROTECTOR by Larry Niven (aka The Adults) Galaxy June 1967

Ballantine Books (1973) Protector by Larry Niven

Protector by Larry Niven - illustration by H.R. Von Dongen

Posted by Jesse Willis

“Spoilers” spoil my life

SFFaudio Commentary

Spoilers…. this post will point out how fucking stupid spoilers are.

See that yellow line at the end? That’s the spoilers I’m talking about. That’s the one I don’t give a shit about – and that’s the one that seems to have infected the minds of practically every conversation about books in the last 10 years. It’s pretty fucking sad to me that the only place one can really go to find out anything about a book is Wikipedia. Wikipedia, the one place that has a rule about not allowing argument about a book, the only place I can seemingly go to find out whether I’ll want to read a book.

Spoilers

So this is a pretty hard topic to research. Those colours, on the “use over time” above, are mine. I’m guessing with them, going with my sense of the predominate usage of “spoiler” – I think I once read that Spider Robinson coined the modern genre usage back in the late 1970s, in a column or something. Roger Ebert seems to be attributed it for movies. But what I’m certainly not talking about third party political candidate phenomenon (the idea is that they ruin elections), nor am I talking about the wings mounted on the backs of sports cars (which reduce aerodynamic lift) – I’m talking about the “spoilers” that dominate and limit book talk today – the ‘who dies at the end’ of a movie or TV show kind of “spoiler!” [said with glee], the ‘who’s whose secret sister to whom’ – or some such inane detail that someone thinks is crucial to appreciate something.

That person, actually, its you – its you – you are the person who uses the term “spoilers” – you’re well, you’re just really really wrong.

I understand, these trendy terms and turns-of-phrase are inevitable, unstoppable. One may as well fight against the tide as fight against them.

If you look to the past, as I am always doing, you will see how oblivious to the stupidity people are – check out this list of ridiculous 1980s phrases and euphemisms and you’ll see just how stupid people were in the 1980s were.

I know it is pointless to fight but I’m going to anyway, I’ve staked my claim on the beach, anchored myself to the bedrock beneath the shifting sand, and I’m beating against the endless wash of “spoilers” as hard as I can – my lone and lonely voice against “spoilers” is a valiant fight, and it is a fight I’ve long been losing – but that’s the point I’m trying to make – we all lose, whenever a conversation about any book somebody is discussing is truncated because they think some fact could “spoil” a book.

Even the word is stupid. “Spoilers” even if they have an effect won’t utterly ruin anything that is truly good” – but I understand, hyperbole is effective, the words “enjoyment lessener” or “surprise reducer” and thus would be unsurprisingly less enjoyable to use.

I really think it all just boils down to one point. I know it is doomed to failure, but I just have to say it – if you could just grasp it – if you could only grok it, deep down in your bones, in your genes – you’d stop having that word come out of your mouth when it comes to books.

I can almost understand it when it comes to a very narrow subset of movies, like The Crying Game, or Chinatown, or The Sixth Sense (the only thing The Sixth Sense has is the twist/surprise/point of the whole 1 hour and 47 minute exercise).

But books aren’t like that. And honestly, if you think about it, TV shows aren’t either.

Spartacus dies, I knew that going in, the fact enhanced my pleasure.

Whether Walter White gets away with his crimes or not isn’t the point of me watching Breaking Bad. I enjoyed the journey (except for that one episode where nothing happens).

In terms of TV shows it all comes down to this, do the people who make the show know where they‘re going? Do they know how it ends? If they do, great. If not, you’re fucking LOST.

Now books are a completely different deal, and here’s why. Books are long, and they are many. Being long and being many means we can’t read all of them, not even all the ones we want. And ultimately I think this explains why the term “spoiler” crops up in practically every conversation about book these days. If you don’t understand this one point, a small matter you think you know (but don’t really accept) if you just could accept this concept, really take it on board, namely that we are all going to fucking die, your saying “spoilers!” would rapidly diminish.

You who say “spoilers” act as if we had an infinite amount of time to read all the books.

This is stupid.

There are now more books published every year than we could read in all our lifetimes. So if you tell me that some point or other “spoils” a book then what you’re essentially saying is that you think I’d be less inclined to read the book if I knew some fact about the book. But this misses the point, I’M NOT GOING TO READ THAT FUCKING BOOK.

So, to sum up, please stop the self-censoring. I’m not going to read that book you don’t want to spoil for me, not unless you tell me something about it, something interesting.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Update: here’s a Google N-gram for the phrase “spoiler alert”

The SFFaudio Podcast #152 – READALONG: The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #152 – Jesse talks with Trent Reynolds and Paul Westlake about the AudioGo and Hard Case Crime novel The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake.

Talked about on today’s show:
Is The Comedy Is Finished going to be the last Donald E. Westlake novel to be published?, Memory (and our discussion of it), Charles Ardai, Max Allan Collins, Mickey Spillane, getting paid is a priority for professional writers, the 1970s, Honeydew, USO tours, Bob Hope, the audiobook experience, Peter Berkrot’s narration of the audiobook of The Comedy Is Finished, Koo Davis, Bob Hope as Red Skelton vs. Bob Hope as Gene Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ricky Gervais, Koo Davis narrates his own POV in the present everyday tense sense, “Westlake is the master of sentence by sentence writing”, “in the moment”, “the god-damned Vietnam thing”, “the real Americans”, the redemption, healing vs. moving on, Ronald Reagan, “new normal”, “the Carter malaise” and “festering wounds”, Larry, Peter, Mark has daddy issues, Joyce, the Dortmunder gang if they were all psychotic, “doing a Westlake”, why do Koo’s boys not look like him?, the role of a father, the mirror scene, “genetics don’t matter in fiction”, fatherhood as a choice, leave the messages to Western Union, character arcs, Lindsey, A Sound Of Distant Drums, radio drama, “there are round characters and there are flat characters”, “oh this is a Westlake”, “Charo has become a bitter old woman”, “a romantic writer”, succinct description, taking plots from real life, The Score, “he can heist anything”, The Mourner, The Stepfather, “that’s pretty much how these work”, three Dortmunder ideas, Kahawa should be an audiobook, California, Burbank, Santa Barbara, Elizabeth Taylor’s biography, Under An English Heaven should be an audiobook too, Anguilla, an option has been taken out on Kahawa, the new Parker movie, Stephen King’s filmography vs. Donald Westlake’s filmography, The Hot Rock, Cops And Robbers (1973), The Split (based on The Seventh), Payback, Les Alexander, The Outfit, City Of Industry, The Sour Lemon Score, Made In U.S.A., the Criterion Collection, it’s Clint Eastwood with internal monologue, a Dortmunder TV series, The Limey, Terence Stamp, Idi Amin, Uganda, “the coffee train”, Enough, Ordo, A Slight Case Of Murder, A Travesty, it’s very hard to be a Westlake expert, the sound a girl makes when you’re kissing her, “it’s just a weird name”, Bob Hope was a knight!, Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, Westlake’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, Westlake’s renunciation of SF, Anarchaos by Curt Clark, “Rolf Malone is a precursor to Parker”, Theodore Bikel (the fiddler in The Fiddler On The Roof), The Risk Profession, Nackles (is great for kids!), The Twilight Zone, Harlan Ellison’s screenplay for Nackles, the Starship Hopeful series (available on DonaldWestlake.com), Lawrence Block’s fantasy story, SF is very allegorical (and that’s not Westlake), Humans, Westlake’s Smoke vs. Wells’ The Invisible Man, “and everybody’s an asshole”, “everybody one way or another is a jerkoff”, “Joyce goes crazy in the most wonderful way”, a survivor of Chernobyl, “is God really an asshole?”, “angels are assholes”, Milton’s Paradise Lost, The Sacred Monster, Get Real, ridicule in print, Money For Nothing, Westlake never lectured, interior thoughts that are so revealing about the shallowness of a character’s nature, Washington, D.C., “moving up the ladder”, “what does Ginger want?”, “it’s fun to play with fire”, “I’ve got to have something”, did Don hate rock and roll?, he liked classical and atonal jazz, “damn hippie”, 99% of politics is pointless, talking to death, Jimmy The Kid (a Parker novel inside of a Dortmunder novel), kidnapping, Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, Patty Hearst, Gangway, Brian Garfield, Spider Robinson’s Dortmunder homage, Lawrence Block, The Sour Lemon Score, Dashiell Hammett, Piers Anthony, Poul Anderson, Robert A. Heinlein, shiny spaceships, don’t read by genre, read by author, the genre label, Jim Thompson, The Grifters, Trent’s beef with Angelica Huston, a period piece, Paul had a problem with John Cusack, J.T. Walsh, Pat Hingle, Annette Bening, “I’ll never look at a bag of oranges the same way”, Donald Westlake: NYC Personified, The Violent World Of Parker website, Nick Jones, Westlake’s bibliography at DonaldWestlake.com.

AudioGo - The Comedy Is Finished by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #104

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #104 – Scott, Jesse, and Gregg Margarite talk about two Robert Sheckley short stories, Untouched By Human Hands (aka One Man’s Poison) and Seventh Victim.

Talked about on today’s show:
extravaganza vs. jamboree vs. hootenanny, the absent article, The Tenth Victim, Is That What People Do? The Selected Stories Of Robert Sheckley, “one man’s poison is another man’s meat”, writing with your mind, On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Gregg has been on many bloody campaigns with his typewriter, Scott loves the pen and notebook, Jesse uses a camera, whiteboard technologies, our podcast about FOOD, Douglas Adams, “Sheckley is not as vaudevillian as Adams”, Tom Baker’s Doctor Who, The Pirate Planet, a building shaped like a doughnut, “food-worthy”, c-rations vs. sea rations, “fill all your stomachs and fill them right”, Hellman and Casker, how do you determine food from non-food, chemists have horribly burnt tongues, Geology exams require the use of tongues, giggling food, drinking vs. being drunk, short stories should throw off sparks, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Untouched By Human Hands was sixty years ahead of its time, Laurel And Hardy vs. Gilligan’s Island, the SyFy channel is sixty years behind the times, Melancholy Elephants by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW|, Robert A. Heinlein, copyright, Mickey Mouse vs. Mighty Mouse, keeping murder alive, Sheckley’s late career, Stanton Frelaine = Stand In the Free Lane?, The Most Dangerous Game, Richard Connell, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, The Lifeboat Mutiny by Robert Sheckley, The Leech, Warrior Race, Watchbird, La Decima Vittima, Marcello Mastroianni, New York, World War IV, World War VI, feminism, Mindswap, the economy in Seventh Victim, wordlbuilding in a short story, Spotters, Morger, the Tens Club, a game where people kill people, “there is no such thing as human rights”, are these rights not self-evident?, thou shalt not kill/murder, “the age of the half-believer”, Catholicism vs. protestantism, cherry-picking the beliefs from the old and new testament, the three legs of the scientific method (rational, empirical, scholastic), fads, should we require a degree in science to wear a lab-coat?, cargo cults, philosophy, the Emotional Catharsis Bureau, “damn women”, “gladiatorial events complete with blood and thunder”, does a desire to murder start wars?, Gregg thinks we are vehicles for genes, Professor Eric. S. Rabkin, Genesis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, is aggressiveness (or competition) a requirement to move on, the Space Race, the architects of tech during WWII, Michael Faraday isn’t getting any royalties, copyright vs. copyfight, seek technology got a patent!, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, guaranteed minimum income, William Shakespeare, West Side Story, “there are only seven stories [basic plots]”, “we stray”, Frelaine’s reaction to the suicidal Victim, the purpose of catharsis, the deep unsatisfaction of an unfinished play, an unrequited kill, how many [TV] series are canceled before their plots unfold? (too many), Dexter vs. Babylon 5 vs. Lost, Game Of Thrones, Drive, The Wire is deeply unsatisfying every episode, ambivalent storytelling, “you can’t fix this neighborhood, move.”, The Corner, Firefly and Serenity, “he had a plan”, how to watch Babylon 5, what is the message of Seventh Victim, X-Minus One, Battlefield 2, do violent video games (and computer games) reduce violence?, Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, Killer: The Game Of Assassination, Gregg wants it with collateral damage.

Posted by Jesse Willis