The SFFaudio Podcast #549 – READALONG: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #549 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

Talked about on today’s show:
a question on Twitter, Julie, how it even got on the schedule, A Good Story Is Hard To Find (110), June 2015, Mark Woodword, how we’ve never heard of this book, Julie’s mom, very weird, a near masterpiece of Science Fiction, Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell To Earth, David Bowie, not about music, Queen’s Gambit, The Hustler, The Color Of Money, one PDF on the PDF Page, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism, post apocalyptic, a post-capitalist society, a post-scarcity society, a downer, a slow slow slide into the long dark night, uplifting (also), the state of humanity, they way he reveres reading, enjoy an omelette, re-watching Star Trek, the Animated Series, The Next Generation, it gets better, Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Yang, take away all goals, stripping us of our humanity, drugs, hippies, an anti-marijuana book, a critique of the hippies, silent movies, a world you didn’t know, when this old man dies, a different view, Spoforth, pensioning off Paul, reading is not valued, Paul teaches Mary how to read, looking for pornography, he was teaching pornography and mindfulness, a savage critique, who’s the mockingbird?, he wants to know what’s going on, genuine examples of humanity, Julie is being so mean to Paul, Paul in the book, Bentley, spaw-forth or spoof-forth (and multiply), struck to the heart, revealed as the villain, he’s not even sure it’ll work, kill humanity to kill ones’ self, kinda dark, sympathetic, did he intend to kill the child right from the start?, detector, a lot of twists, no diary, a hard shift, switches to Mary Lou, I don’t like this book anymore, not who I imagined her to be, love as a projection, maybe she was blind to herself, or emotionally repressed, when he gets thrown in prison, hanging out with the baleens, a horror novel, shifting around, an impressive world, standard mainstream good writing, built up this whole world, premises are revealed to us, is he a bad guy, an abortionist, destroy humanity, he didn’t invent the system, he’s cursed with an inability to die, massive, a total dystopia, Brave New World‘s children, Huxley was optimistic, self immolation, political protest, a political act, a religious act, a sacrifice, people can’t string ideas together, going to the same cafe, they’re singing, what is the motivation, psychology, Annabelle, SEARS as a church, A Boy And His Dog (1975), a revelation, different genres, my pet Biff, New York City, the Adam and Eve theme, story is how we find truth, books get us in touch with other minds, what a masterpiece, have you got to the monkey bacon yet?, bacon for monkeys?, clever ideas going on, a lot of biblical stuff, this is Jonah, he’s vomited out, the thought buses are like the friends in Job, they’re something else, that thought wasn’t finished, the true inhabitants of the city, a line relevant to our times, cars were promulgated by a cabal of oil manufacturers, dealing with the consequences of a world we never made, a mass transportation system, look very deeply back at old stuff at the time, reading TV Guide from 1980, it’s fascinating, yo, a good magazine about the technology of TV, what television will be like in 1990, they kinda nailed it, gay behavior will be more popular, the trends we see here, the 1980 Olympics in Russia, the invasion of Afghanistan, anyone who would invade Afghanistan is obviously a monster, the fossils of a previous generation, A Streetcar Named Desire, streetcars around the world, one more reason to go to Nice (France), I say that in Jes(t), she picks a fruit, its artificial, what they’re being taught in school, quick sex is best, it comes from the same place, reconstructed all the greatness in science fiction, a mainstream book with a deeply science fiction world behind it, the zoo is all fake, even the children are fake, the Adam and Eve thing, when he comes back to Marylou, Jesus!, Mary, the notion of felix culpa (the fortunate fall), remembering her action, he explicitly remembers, it isn’t going to be as bad as you think, thank you Terence, so loaded, Spoforth is a good carpenter, the poem from T.S. Eliot, the songful simian, a Christ figure, the little sparrow, like the end of Blade Runner when Roy Batty dies, the same problem in the other direction, a sort of love, joy, compassion, influenced?, a lot of Philip K. Dick elements, artificial emotions, the symmetry trick that works every time, it’s beautiful, an act of mercy and love, the poor guy, condemned to Hell on Earth, I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison, I Am, keep sliding towards oblivion, actively seeking death, the mercy that he wants the mercy he’s trying to give humanity, the behavior of humans is not good, an Arthur C. Clarke vibe, The City And The Stars, that world is perfectly broken, the only thing you can do is appreciate the abstract, blotchy moving colour shapes and sounds, no more music, the heart and the center of the book, the robot toaster factory, a whole novel, a mindless parody of productivity, those grey uniformed sub-morons that all look like Peter Lorre, and then he fixed them, suddenly people are getting toasters again, the warmth and the light (a preview), its a rebirth, what happened in real-life that you didn’t see on twitter, looking for stuff on Netflix, Year One (2009), cave man comedies, fur bikinis, One Million B.C. (1940), science fiction stories, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling, The Wonderstick by Stanton A. Coblentz, the wonder of the wheel the wonder of the stick, a retelling of the bible, Harold Ramis plays Adam, David Cross is Kane as Paul Rudd is Abel, that tree of knowledge, only the mockingbird sings at the edge of the woods, that’s really powerful, all the characters, Simon, the alternative father for Marylou, why she’s so different, monstrous and straight out of Brave New World, we recognize all this biblical stuff, you get both, there’s gotta be something out there, an The Brick interview with Walter Tevis, it felt very Lawrence Block-y, “Mockingbird’s about coming out of alcoholism.”, “But I don’t do any outlin­ing. I don’t do any researching. I was tempted while writing Mockingbird to start watching silent movies, you know, and see if I could pick some interesting stuff to use, and I realized that would’ve been just a dodge to avoid the type­writer. So I never research anything.”

LD: You paint a pretty bleak picture in terms of lit­eracy in Mockingbird.

WT: It comes from twenty-five years of being an English teacher.

RW: Do you see a decline in literacy? I do, but do you?

WT: Oh, you hear about it a lot. Yes, I’ve seen it a bit, but my private experience as an English teacher has been that Americans don’t read books. They didn’t read books in 1949 when I started teaching. They don’t read books now Television did make a difference. It deepened the slack of the slackjaws and gave another great quantity of garbage for people to fill their lives with. But, you know, there was other garbage around before television. Mockingbird does sometimes, I think, weaken into an attack solely on television and on the modern world, and “weaken” I say because I’m not completely convinced of all those things that I say. But what I am convinced of is that it is very bad for people to find substitutes for living their lives, and that’s what I hope I do say, and say well, from time to time in the book.

reading is the tool that opened up his mind and taught him how to think, a photograph of notes to the editor, the surprise that she’s going to narrate, destructive to our view of his wonderful relationship, she came to appreciate him, he forgot her too, what they had wasn’t super-deep, she was Dante’s Beatrice, Edward Hopper, there’s no door in Nighthawks, alone together, some lady sitting on a bed looking out a window, beautifully painted, what makes us care about his paintings is the emotions in these characters, the emotions that make Hopper’s paintings so powerful, a criticism of the kind of television being shown in the book, stimulating arrangements of color form and design, the psychedelic, Tevis’ take on Hopper’s quote, yeah exactly, four things you can get from films (books), manipulating one’s mental states, a means of learning something about the past, why memory is not enough, sympathizing with other people from other times, knowing about other people’s feelings you discover your own feelings, he captures that experience, jokes from 200 years ago, a line that crystallizes something you’ve always known but never seen before, before Plato, the only book he never reads is Gone With The Wind, See Spot Run, the alphabet is arbitrarily ordered, this is science fiction, the scene in Frankenstein where the creature learns how to read and speak, Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, his creation book (Frankenstein’s lab notes), this is a Frankenstein-fixed story, the creation of the world, how to service robots and thought-buses, a masterpiece, nature is always pulled in, puzzling over how to fix the thought-bus, a large dramatic spiderweb, the moon, made of pure light, the elaboration and power of life that could make such a design, this makes me feel something, Julie’s favourite Psalm is Psalm 19, so mysterious, the way you hold that cup, so much bigger, the human experience, he wrote it for us, the earlier scene with the spiderweb, the court is a plastic building, you go clean the judge’s face, yellow powder, they all have the same look on their face, the system turns on and gears up, other prisoners, the prison sequence, I didn’t see this coming, Belasco, tattoos, Queequeg!, rule breakers, paintings of trees and birds, have a fire on the beach, as free as people in that world can be, a temptation to stay there?, the escape itself, a community of people to help him toughen up, the beginning of his journey, The Handmaid’s Tale. reading is powerful, the way we got there, our own fucking laziness, go along get along, rage rage rage against the machine, read a fucking book, you’ll like it it’s good, not just shore-dinners, a so coddled society, memorizing your life, a kind of writing, a book that feels like its in dialogue with Fahrenheit 451, drop out communities, finding the libraries (it’s treasure!), insistence of family and community, Annabelle becomes his mother, enriched by other communities, great risks to my individuality, the robots who taught me, yup, individualistic, you’re not letting me help anyone, a balance, a really good job of pointing that stuff out, it doesn’t feel like a sermon, super-funny, Buster Keaton, he’s baptized in the mall, the SEARS (catalogue) was a big part of Jesse’s life in 1980, a book of pictures of things, the world in the background economically makes sense, could you game in this world?, a survival game, rebuild society, back to board-games, Scrabble, role-playing games, a very New York thing to do, California, The Last Chase (1981), how the credit card system worked, the pricing, what are they teaching in those classrooms?, yoga and meditation?, sopors, soma, give yourself to the screens, Terence is right!, social media, stream everything, everybody is literate now (to read stop signs and instructions), people who never read anything (maybe a magazine once a year), a super-nice person, what is wrong with you, there are these parallel societies, Anabelle is that representation, part of this is looking at creativity, Spoforth wasn’t creative but he learned, Exhalation Stories: (The Lifecycle Of Software Objects) by Ted Chiang, the whole him trying to find his earlier incarnation, recapture what he had lost from his earlier mind, in the dream, its a baby, just before he dies, the missing peice in the puzzle of his dream, in Westworld for recipe for an intelligent robot is a reverie, the reverie we get from literature, its made him more human, he’s trying trying trying, another element of information, what humanizes him, he felt love, the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen, I love you, still strange, the mockingbird sings from the edge of the woods, Scott Danielson, “Whose woods these are I think I know”, the mockingbird is the creative artist, always in association with creativity, a deepening sadness, more creative than we give him credit for?, the boy’s drawings, it works on multiple levels, the fake, the marginal, mocking, a mockery of a man, the emotions of a man and he can’t connect, this mock level, mockingbird songs, things stung together, Tevis is the mockingbird, there’s this hybridization, a very literary book, To Kill A Mockingbird, it sings its heart out, to deal with race again, is it because you’re a black man, it’s 1978, the most advanced beautiful man ever, he was the pinnacle and they made him a black man, still enslaved, in his dream his feet are white, Typee by Herman Melville, an Anabelle like character, only one person’s working hard all day line, Bentley see this as an injustice, is it an injustice?, her choice, making something of value, cooking is work, its still good to feed the kids (even if they can’t thank you), making the mistake of thinking humans are all one way, objectivism, let’s be greedy together, reading Ayn Rand, is Anthem a rip-off of We, moms being moms, I’m a loner, everybody’s talking to each other all the time, invading privacy is the worst thing, it was the robots that did it, the society happened almost by accident, quite beautiful, we fall into the trap of amusing ourselves to death, John Savage likes pain, they twist it against him, “that’s illegal”, those people are all around us, he had his stash, dumping herself full of Valium, him living in her house, thank your mom for us, how many people heard about it through you through her through this podcast, Marissa would have been here very happily, the Westworld connection, good choice, thank you!

Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

LibriVox: Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 022

SFFaudio Online Audio

LibriVoxHere’s another almost all new-to-audio collection from LibriVox.org. Ten tales of Science Fiction from the tail-end of the “Golden Age Of Science Fiction.” These stories span the years 1947 to 1962. We’ve got LibriVox volunteers like
book coordinator Gregg Margarite, proof-Listener “julicarter” and meta-coordinator/cataloguer Lucy Burgoyne, to thank for ogranizing, proofing and cataloguing it. But we shouldn’t forget to thank the narrators either! Thanks for this fun collection of Public Domain audio goodness! We appreciate it.

LibriVox - Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 022Short Science Fiction Collection Vol. 022
By various; Read by various
10 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 4 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
Science Fiction is speculative literature that generally explores the consequences of ideas which are roughly consistent with nature and scientific method, but are not facts of the author’s contemporary world. The stories often represent philosophical thought experiments presented in entertaining ways. Protagonists typically “think” rather than “shoot” their way out of problems, but the definition is flexible because there are no limits on an author’s imagination. The reader-selected stories presented here were written prior to 1962 and became US public domain texts when their copyrights expired.

Podcast feed:

http://librivox.org/bookfeeds/short-science-fiction-collection-22.xml

iTunes 1-Click |SUBSCRIBE|

Fantasy Book Vol. 1 No. 1 (1947)Flight Through Tomorrow
By Stanton A. Coblentz; Read by Derek Bever
1 |MP3| – Approx. 16 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
Super warfare has destroyed the old race of man, but elsewhere a new civilization is dawning… From Fantasy Book Vol. 1 number 1 (1947).


Fantastic Universe September 1957Happy Ending
By Fredric Brown and Mack Reynolds; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 31 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
A world had collapsed around this man—a world that would never shout his praises again. The burned-out cities were still and dead, the twisted bodies and twisted souls giving him their last salute in death. And now he was alone, alone surrounded by memories, alone and waiting… From Fantastic Universe September 1957.

Fantastic Universe January 1954Lost In The Future
By John Victor Peterson; Read by Reynard T. Fox
1 |MP3| – Approx. 8 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
Did you ever wonder what might happen if mankind ever exceeded the speed of light? Here is a profound story based on that thought—a story which may well forecast one of the problems to be encountered in space travel. From Fantastic Universe January 1954.

LibriVox - Master Of None by Neil GobleMaster of None
By Neil Goble; Read by Dan Wylie-Sears
1 |MP3| – Approx. 33 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
The advantages of specialization are so obvious that, today, we don’t even know how to recognize a competent syncretist! From Analog Science Fact and Science Fiction February 1962.

Fantastic Universe August 1957No Pets Allowed
By M.A. Cummings; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 7 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
M. A. Cummings (Monette to her friends) returns with another hauntingly persuasive story of a Tomorrow that may not be as gleaming as we hope. Her recent story, The Weridies, apparently delighted some and startled others—and this in Los Angeles! What’s happening there? From Fantastic Universe August 1957.

Fantastic Universe August 1957Now We Are Three
By Joe L. Hensley; Read by Roger Melin
1 |MP3| – Approx. 28 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
Where are we going? What will the world be like in the days—perhaps not too distant—when we have tested and tested the bombs to the finite degree? Joe L. Hensley, attorney in Madison, Indiana, and increasingly well known in SF, returns with this challenging story of that Tomorrow. From Fantastic Universe August 1957.

Fantastic Universe May 1954Rex Ex Machina
By Frederic Max; Read by Reynard T. Fox
1 |MP3| – Approx. 8 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
The domination of the minds of tractable Man is not new. Many men have dreamed of it. Certainly some of them have tried. This man succeeded. A science fictional letter from a father to a son. From Fantastic Universe May 1954.

LibriVox -  A Transmutation Of Muddles by Horace Brown FyfeA Transmutation of Muddles
By Horace Brown Fyfe; Read by Bellona Times
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
An experienced horse-trader, bargain-haggler, and general swapper has a very special talent for turning two headaches into one aspirin pill… From Astounding Science Fiction September 1960.

Fantastic Universe November 1956The Velvet Glove
By Harry Harrison; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 44 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
SF writer and editor Harry Harrison explores a not too distant future where robots—particularly specialist robots who don’t know their place—have quite a rough time of it. True, the Robot Equality Act had been passed—but so what? From Fantastic Universe November 1956.

Fantastic Universe September 1956When I Grow Up
By Richard E. Lowe; Read by Gregg Margarite
1 |MP3| – Approx. 20 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: LibriVox.org
Published: August 4, 2009
A good many science fiction writers seem determined to depict children as little monsters. Not all children perhaps, and not with completely merciless regularity. But often enough to make us shudder. Only Richard Lowe remains independent. The youngster of this story isn’t a child monster at all. He’s just—a “destructor.” And that in itself is somehow unimaginably terrifying! From Fantastic Universe September 1956.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics: The Wonder Stick by Stanton A. Coblentz

SFFaudio Online Audio

Forgotten ClassicsI was cheering up a young friend of mine by showing her video of Weird Al’s White and Nerdy the other day. It worked. Afterward, in explaining who Weird Al was, I described the character he played in the movie UHF. I said:

“He’s a sort of guy everybody thinks is a loser – incredibly passionate about his interests. In other words, he’s a nerd like me.”

My young friend then sez: “You know you’re a loser?” and then she laughed.

It was funny.

After the convulsions died down, I said: “I know that some people think of me that way.”

I explained that I know I’m a nerd. That I wear the nerd badge with pride. I like, and always have liked Weird Al and the whole ’embrace your inner nerd’ mentality he exemplifies. Which brings me to The Wonder Stick:

Julie D., of Forgotten Classics podcast (and a contributor to SFFaudio), has just wrapped up the final installment of her wonderful reading of The Wonder Stick by Stanton A. Coblentz. It was Coblentz’s first novel. You can kind of tell it his first novel, much of the dialogue is rather simplistic, especially with crowds of cavemen speaking like a Greek chorus (but then again, cavemen probably weren’t super eloquent). I get the sense that kids will really dig this adventure. Had I read it, when Julie had (in junior high school or high school), I’d have probably have enjoyed it even more than I did.

The Wonder Stick is the story of Ru, a young caveman who’s an outsider. Ru is scorned by his community despite his superior intellect, insight and cunning. In the end Ru triumphs, and gets the respect he so rightly deserves. It’s really the story of the original triumph of the nerds.

What The Wonder Stick doesn’t quite have is the modern ethos of the nerds (it is also absent from the W&N video), namely: We don’t need the respect of the non-nerds. We have our own community. So, to my young friend, and to all you nerds, I highly recommend downloading…

Forgotten Classics presents… Stanton A. Coblentz’s The Wonder StickThe Wonder Stick
By Stanton A. Coblentz; Read by Julie D.
Podcast – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: May – September 2008
A prehistorical science fiction novel that does everything but invent the wheel. The “wonder-stick” of the title, is a real invention which provided an unparalleled quantum leap in human technology.

|MP3| Chapters 1 – 2 |MP3| Chapters 3 – 5
|MP3| Chapters 6 – 7 |MP3| Chapters 8 – 10
|MP3| Chapters 11 – 12 |MP3| Chapters 13 -15
|MP3| Chapter 16 |MP3| Chapters 17
|MP3| Chapters 18 – 19 |MP3| Chapters 20 – 21
|MP3| Chapters 22 – 24 |MP3| Chapter 25 – 26 & Conclusion

and then watching…

Posted by Jesse Willis

Forgotten Classics presents… Stanton A. Coblentz’s The Wonder Stick

SFFaudio Online Audio

Forgotten ClassicsJulie D. is the proprietor of Forgotten Classics; it’s one of my favorite podcasts. And that is rather strange thing to say as Julie and I really don’t seem to have much in common. She’s Catholic, has a big family, a husband, and kids in high school and university. She’s into knitting (or at least knitting podcasts) and cookbooks. Many of her blog posts and podcasts talk about what I’d call the pleasures of ‘hearth’ and ‘home.’ None of that’s really my bag, not at all. But on the other hand she’s into podcasts, SF and has an abiding love of old books. All that shows in every single podcast. Julie reads her “Forgotten Classics” with warmth, confidence and clarity. It’s always a pleasure to receive one of her podcasts in my podcatcher. Part of this is her passion for the books themselves, another part of it is that all the books she reads from have been ones unfamiliar to me – I like to be surprised. Her latest project is one just such, namely Stanton A. Coblentz’s first novel The Wonder Stick. I first read a Coblentz story in the Blackstone Audio collection called A Galaxy Trilogy (Volume I). That novel came from the tail end of Coblentz’s carreer. Julie’s recorded chapters 1 and 2 of The Wonder Stick, Coblentz’s first book, and I’m eager to hear the rest of it. Check it and Forgotten Classics out…

Forgotten Classics presents… Stanton A. Coblentz’s The Wonder StickThe Wonder Stick
By Stanton A. Coblentz; Read by Julie D.
Podcast – [UNABRIDGED]
Podcaster: Forgotten Classics
Podcast: May 2008 – ????
Variously described around the net as “a cave-man story” and “a prehistorical” my attention was piqued when I realized this was an out and out Science Fiction story, that “wonder-stick” of the title, it performs what could playfully be called the original spooky action at a distance.

Have a listen to the Forgotten Classics promo |MP3| and then subscribe for the podcast feed:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/forgottenclassics

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of A Galaxy Trilogy: Volume 1 by Poul Anderson, George H. Smith and Stanton A. Coblentz

SFFaudio Review

Science Fiction Audiobook - A Galaxy Trilogy by Poul Anderson, George H. Smith and Stanton A. CoblentzA Galaxy Trilogy: Volume 1
By Poul Anderson, George H. Smith and Stanton A. Coblentz; Read by Tom Weiner
12 CDs – 13.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published: 2007
ISBN: 9781433202255
Themes: / Science Fiction / Politics / War / Aliens / Space Travel / Galactic Civilization / Telepathy /

“Long before Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, or Isaac Asimov, there was an earlier generation of dreamers and writers who defined the science-fiction genre, in what today is affectionately known as the pulp era. Heralding back to the early television days of Flash Gordon and the earlier tales of Jules Verne, Bram Stoker, and H. G. Wells, these great science-fiction writers of the 1950s and 1960s included among their ranks such icons as Poul Anderson and the prolific Robert Silverberg, who would write some of the hippest genre literature of its era. Now you can experience this unique moment in genre literature with three exciting, imaginative short novellas from some of the pioneers of pulp science fiction.”

In Star Ways a mysterious plot my be behind the disappearance of a number of ships in the Terran sphere. This is the best of the three short novels in a fun collection. Star Ways posits a familiar ‘nomads in space’ idea and chucks in a plot about some truly totalitarian aliens. This short Science Fiction novel allows us to tag along on an interstellar nomad ship, with fascinating folkways. Also on board thanks to Poul Anderson’s magnetic writing are your regulation intergalactic troubleshooter, a wily space captain, a rustic crew of wanderers, an alien with telepathic powers and even a bit of romance. The tale’s end doesn’t go exactly where you’d expect, and that makes it all the more interesting.

In Druid’s World Adam MacBride is the stiff backbone of a sprawling empire, his Empress is smart but acts dumb, her lover scorns MacBride openly. When the novel begins MacBride has set his mine to retiring home to his fjords and his three wives and only an imminent threat to his beloved fleet and his unwarranted loyalty to his Empire keep him from returning home immediately. This novel is jammed to the rafters with swashbuckling action, ship-to-ship broadsides, many volleys of grapeshot, at least two rebellions and sickle wielding druids. What’s not to love? All these elements swirl about in a swift but realtively simple plot. I love the way this book was written, it’s small but denser than a neutron star. My guess, George H. Smith had just finished reading a stack of history books before sitting down to write this rollicking hodge-podge of science fiction, pre-Roman religion, and 18th century Imperialism. Druid’s World is a scattered but worthy listen – the kind of pulpy material you can crave on dark winter evenings. Druid’s World could happily sit on your audiobook shelf between The Green Odyssey and Star Surgeon. Druid’s World was the first book in Smith’s “Annwn” series and was first published in 1967.

The Day The World Stopped is set in 2020. In it the United States and “Red China” are deep into a new cold war when the testing of some super-weapons that can automate human destruction on an unprecedented scale are nearing the cusp of completion. This tale feels like a combination of The Manchurian Cantidate and The Day The Earth Stood Still. Clearly the worst of the three tales collected in A Galaxy Trilogy I’m sad to say The Day The World Stopped is weighed down by too much hokey dialogue, not enough thought given to pacing or plotting and a “deus ex-machina” ending that makes it feel like a bad Hollywood version of itself. First published in 1968 it was written at the beginning of the tail end of Coblentz’s writing career.

Narrator Tom Weiner lends a gravitas to all three novels, The Day The World Stopped needed it the most, given its weighty dialogue and scene after scene of back-room politics there was dozens of voices to work. The “Omegriconians” especially spoke English with a strange accent, Weiner does his best with it, to little avail. In Druid’s World the admiral MacBride character predominates the thoughts and dialogue of most of the novel. This works out well, Weiner’s got range but his natural growl fits just this kind of character. Star Ways has several strong characters all of which are distinctly rendered. Overall Weiner’s narrative authority elevates what really are three unremarkable pulp adventures into a worthy package.

Posted by Jesse Willis