The SFFaudio Podcast #614 – READALONG: The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #614 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Will Emmons talk about The Coming Race by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Talked about on today’s show:
Vrill, Paul’s kind of joke, anonymously in 1871, highly influential novel, a rival for Dickens, Theosophists and the Nazis, an underground dystopia utopia from the 19th century, a little butter, a giant infodump with wings, nice first draft bud now write an adventure set in that place, cool idea it sucked as a book, abandon all of the things that were stupid, stupid but compelling, so many people were stupid to think this was amazing, Looking Backward, 90% of the book is describing that place, a thought experiment, a sociological novel, an American point of view, when these people come out of the work we’re fucked, a pro-American point of view, its a satire, making fun of the narrator, these jokes don’t land, why its so ironic, the ultimate error, he didn’t think it through, the background Silmarillion material for another book, etymology, nomative and genative cases, a local angle, the Secretary for the Colonies in the 1850s, a Whig and a conservative, Colonel Moody (Port Moody), as a colonial dude he is always looking outward, how societies should be run, how great American democracy was, for example two of my own brothers just paid $30,000, from infancy their handed pistols, they treat men like women, not even a science fiction novel, there’s these big birds, they wear their wings around, and there’s this metal, he doesn’t have midichlorian vril veins, that staff, magic wands, some tie to Circe, a strong will, a Sumuerian goddess, a wand as opposed to a staff, satirical in setup, how many other good books their are that are ripping this off, City Of Endless Night by Milo Hastings, Nazi world underground, the magic is eugenics, also eugenics, zapping babies, electromagnetism, Faraday, the age of the Earth, why Evan wanted his wife on the show, an influence on H.P. Lovecraft, there’s a scientific culture, the elements, Vril is not treated as magic, electricity, mental power, a pseudoscience, Vril has long long legs, still with us today, BoVril, essence of beef, bullion, bovine + vril = Bovril, soda pop, wonder drugs, healthenize your body, cereals, physical culture, a discipline, a BBC piece, pre-Nazi Germany was into it, the British were into it, you just have to breathe through your nose, improve your life by breathing through your nose, a superior, yoga, its good to exercise their body, big muscular lady arms and legs, continual calm exercise, why is he focused so much on that?, everybody knows god is 100% real, a very specific other world, making fun of Christianity, my dad wants me to kill you, we could go together, I’ll kill myself too, Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, one place underground, on the way down, the passage had been zapped before, zap the hole closed, why do they have wings?, The Menace From Earth by Robert A. Heinlein, the lower gravity on the Moon would allow human flight, they’re angels, higher beings, those Nordics have as much as 1% angel in them, back to the Nazis, more Darwinian, neanderthal blood, Jesse is a bit too hard on the whack-jobs, Alcoholics Anonymous, its bullshit but there’s something to it, acupuncture, needles and a massage, William James, social movements, devil worship, concrete manifestations, witches, Margaret Murray, if yoga helps you, namaste, you went in skeptical to your back treatment, its not all in your head, center your prana, Paul, feel better at your desk job, yogic flyers, exoticness, cult or belief system, unfalsifiable, a popular cult, also a political party, anti-enlightenment, Willy Ley, Astounding, May 1947, Pseudoscience in Naziland, the shotgun technique, John W. Campbell, full of stereotypes, the Russian a vodka bottle, the Frenchman a woman, the German, magic, in the days before the Nazi, Ariosophy, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, Albrecht Dürer, I can’t stand that man’s smell, various races have different smells, “society for truth”, “power”, a British state secret, surely the Roman’s had it, contemplating the structure sliced in halves, looking at the outer world, a whackjob cult, Nazi and SS stuff was Bulwer-Lytton telling us a truth hidden in fiction, ancient aliens, ancient Egypt, this a box that existed, maybe it is a gateway to another dimension, Madame Blavatsky, She by H. Rider Haggard, The Parasite by Arthur Conan Doyle, past life regression, I was a priest in Atlantis!, seeing how there’s two of us now…, if everybody has past lives…, we were both Cleopatra, more an more animal life dies, furries, the relationship between Theosophy and this book, root races, Hyperboreans, Lemuria, Egypt in the Americas, the Thule Society, cultural zeitgeist, the Q (anon) for theosophy, Amazing Stories, a thirst for this stuff, Raelians, the Northwest Passage, a vital and firm belief, expedition after expedition, the climate at the time, why did they act on this faith belief, Terra Australis Incognita, societies within the culture, The Terror, the H.M.S. Terror, most everybody died, tins being full of lead, the funding for the expeditions were crowdsourced, start a war with Russia, a grift that they sold themselves them into, who take there orders from…, the Nazis wanted to expand their territories the way the Vrilya, a blueprint for Thule society beliefs, there are books that get written and people adopt them as a belief system, why utopian fiction is so different, the means and reins of power, The Mound by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop, with these expedition, to get to the China market, Hudson’s Bay Company, Pacific island possessions, propping up the Empire in the Pacific, it doesn’t cost you anything to invade Russia, they didn’t run into a continent full of people with tanks, China’s colonial system (with credit and ports), the Belt and Road initiative, the different Lovecraft collaborations, ghost writing, a three sentence idea, Underwhelming Scares, where did this ghost come from?, zombies, slaves, rising and falling empires, a decadent declining society, no art, no culture, gladiator fights, bodily abilities, Lovecraft and machine culture, they don’t make any new music, mummer plays, news: “bears in the woods”, get your 72 dark eyed houris, so sex randy in the afterlife, kingdom of heaven forever, own planet, what you gonna do there?, seems kinda stale, Job: A Comedy Of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein, talking about politics a little bit, the kids do the work, an uninspired utopia, no vigour, nukes, elevators, wings, Choose Your Own Adventure, One thing disturbs you…, sterile utopia is dystopia, Nazis and the United States, the Lovecraft utopia Jesse likes is the Yithian one, field researchers, when not cataloguing and cross-referencing, all over space and time, The Roller Coaster by Alfred Bester, a terrible boring underground heaven, everybody is the same, if your kid is a little bit ugly (or birth defect) they destroy it, we know how great they are because there are no policemen, the explanation for the economy is very very poor, an economy in heaven is BS, Underground Kingdom by Edward Packard, a higher species of life, Pellucidar, Edgar Rice Burroughs, by way of the men and the women, 45-50% of the book, you’re revealing things about yourself, Bulwer-Lytton likes masculine women, she hangs up her wings forever, its about Victorianism, just reverse the genders and it makes a lot more sense, really good at pretending to be good at the stupid hobbies of their husbands, he’s satirizing normal bourgeois marriage, Arkham Librarian (Rebecca Baumann on twitter: @arkhamlibrarian), Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, the Mahars are all women, dominating with mental powers, looking at his own wife askance, I might be the colonial minister but my wife is running my life, the psychological influence this is operating under, what happened is…, cool cool cool, the same protagonist as our unnamed protagonist but a successful imperialist, the light explanation sucks in The Coming Race, Thomas More’s Utopia, an inner moon, John Cleves Symmes, Jr., it DID exist, Jesse is obsessed with weird islands, Kerguelen Islands, Thule, in Poe, there are these places, they’re in the literature, this isn’t coming from bullshit, which one is the ultimate Thule, six days north of Britain by sea, Orkney, Faroe Islands, why people grift themselves into believing the Necronomicon is a real book, it becomes critical thinking, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, not everybody twigs, how democracy was going to take over the world, old men should act like young kids, democracy democracy democracy, Monroe Doctrine, Bulwer-Lytton as a defender of the Victorian marriage, mutah marriage, a loophole for prostitution, making this the norm, propaganda, every romantic comedy should have a post credit scene where a man moves into a mancave, Robert Silverberg, my month wife…, Donald E. Westlake’s The Spy In The Elevator, Temporary Wife, Vril stuff is kinda like power, keep things as they are, this group of greater people, satirizing religion, an unhappy result, lebensraum, Greek colonies, earthquake damage, an alien planet, under a particular mountain, a fairy sense, the little people, elves, The King Of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, Journey To The Center Of The Earth by Jules Verne, dinosaurs, tigers, the parasite tiger, the parasite parasite tiger, Stromboli, the cartoon of Journey To The Center Of The Earth, all the scholars are female, what is he saying there?, parasitism, the descendants from frogs, what is he saying?, the batrachian-ness of this species, birds as symbols, frogs and salamanders are down and dirty in the muck, birds sing and frogs croak, aware of what Darwin’s laying down, the moral debate about how the frogs should be interpreted, an academic argument, its incredibly rich (whatever it is), some Victorian thing hit right on the nose (that we’re not able to follow), scientists and philosophers have argued each other in circles, tadpoles are totally perfect, a conversation about decadence, simple vs. complicated, moralists and naturalists, the vast superiority of the frog, the monkey trial, still talking about it on the TVs (racism), they think that race is a thing, an ascent and descent, a footrace up a ladder of evolution, filling all the niches, all of this shit is bullshit, ethnic types, rare genetics, like that of a red-man, beardless, gravity and quietude of orientals, male and female look more or less alike, most big sex animals have the females bigger, hyenas, sperm competition, rams, gorillas, peacocks are all display, different kinds of competitions, proof that your genes are shit, drinking contests, drinking diesel to show how tough he was, the point of alcohol contest, “honest signals”, baby springboks, a way of indicating your material is good, buff your muscles, rug your head, subconsciously indicating your quality, challenging all sorts of assumptions, I blushed like a girl when the girls complimented me on my choice of clothing, back to the gorillas, competing physically to dominate the harem, they’ve evolved incredibly tiny penises, gender dimorphism, sperm competition, whose gonna mount who?, what’s the point of a family in this world?, a fertility rate of 1, the female pursuit, immediately submissive, a whack idea, he’s having his cake and eating it too, a male fantasy, Y: The Last Man, Philip K. Dick’s Doctor Futurity, why feminists like birth control, disempowering men, Lois McMaster Bujold, artificial wombs, the pill was not banned, abortions have been with us a lot longer than the pill, the brutal unthinking mythology about what religion has to say, bypassing the gut response, Mormonism came into existence when coffee was a thing, alcohol is ancient, marijuana, taboo-ish, bypassing the objection of killing a baby, something Bulwer-Lytton wouldn’t have, Make Love Not War: The Sexual Revolution, An Unfettered History by David Smith Allyn, once you have the photocopier quill copyists are out, post-scarcity, printing press restrictions, a license to get a printing press, the power, the pill (so concealed) bypasses all the previous setup defenses a society has made, how does Saudi Arabia hand the pill?, a post-1970s catholic priest do?, what’s your advice, priest?, approved of or not, traditional patriarchal society, birth control in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia), I’m only going to have another kid if you do X, Y and Z, in the west, they way we treat doctors as a priest class, these documents that allow people to do things they wouldn’t allow other people to do, men and women had equal access, there was no intellectual momentum behind its banning, people working the religious grift are not the swiftest, look at this and look at that, is he making fun of science?, a giant lizard, they destroy crops, they’re not vegans, they add a little fruit to it, milking goat-like non-goats, Hitler being a vegetarianism, an intellectual tradition, veganism is less intellectual than vegetarianism, we examined your teeth, Jesse knows a lot of veggies, Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History Of Vegetarianism From 1600 To Modern Times by Tristram Stuart, bad for the planet, going to the teeth stuff, we’re not evolved to have wheels, evolved to cook our meat, sugar and fat, keep it in the freezer, phrenology, ridiculous 19th century bullshit, our bearded hero wearing a tunic, dominate him like a child, a refined look, AND she’s a vegetarian,

amativeness – the arousal of feelings of sexual desire. sexiness, amorousness, eroticism, erotism. concupiscence, physical attraction, sexual desire, eros – a desire for sexual intimacy. carnality, lasciviousness, lubricity, prurience, pruriency – feeling morbid sexual desire or a propensity to lewdness.

something phrenologists were obsessed with, playing with actual people (vs just playing with skulls), a practical working phrenologist needed to be quick on his feet if their head didn’t fit, the ultimate protestants, puritanical protestants clearing the land, admiring or ambivilating?, a dystopia, poking fun of the Americans, the racism that elinates native population, coitus reservatus, Rosicrucians, ancient knowledge, super-human geniuses of history, Jesse can’t stop harassing Wayne June with Rosicrucian ads, AMORC, Doctor Climber, misues of sex energy, “Dianism” (Sex Magick), the war is now on Wikipedia, revision wars, whose ridiculous system of fake religion is better, the Rosicrucians (at least) didn’t kill millions of people, a particular moment and particular conditions, reading it today, Richard Wagner, the Meistersinger of Nürnberg, buying Goya beans to show support, more chaff than clarity, we might not get She, this stuff is in the air, so many precursors, stuff is happening right now that we cant see for what it is, they’re doing THAT kind of crazy thing, some traditions can last a long time, what new pieces of information are coming into the public consciousness, evolution, electricity, and deep time, the flood pushed them below ground, how recently we realzied how old the earth is, Lovecraft is two things, geology and the biggness of the universe, both of those things make you small, the sea, the sea is vast, cosmic horror writ small, the genetic racism stuff, mixing of inferior and superior, The Festival, maritime connections, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, the Dreamlands, we’re there, the underground stories are a precursor or related to time travel stories, going back to Verne, how do they get all their oxygen from, don’t think about it, Jesse, 1780s, the discovery, nobody wants to get into fights with Jesse about phlogiston, phlosgisticated and dephlogisticated, a fluid that can be transferred between air and objects, no crusades or jihads about phlogiston, it wasn’t fundamentally changing our conception of ourselves, that kind of resistance, your point is Darwin, this information doesn’t need to be suppressed, I need the stuff that’s in the air to live, we are lying to ourselves all the time by using metaphors, oxygen causes cancer, a lack of it causes immediate death, sushi is a food that makes you healthy, sushi is full of heavy metals which makes you die, the frog is being dephlogisticated under the vacuum pump, oxymoron, oxy means sharp, moron means dull, why etymology is incredibly important, oxy-gen, hydro-gen, heli-um, the shitty logic (is the history), one of the names in here, Tyee [a Chinook word drawn from the Nuu-chah-nulth language], a princess of Helium, a weird love hate relationship, you were doomed to be exterminated from the beginning, a grand tapestry, the great chain of being (and your not believing), no skepticism in their relgion, literally one of the arguments for the existence, I can conceive of a being that which non-greater can be conceived, a god who works Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, Descartes, St. Anselm, Ontological argument, philosophy as close-up magic, Platonism, if bigness is a form, a nice explanation for why monotheism is incredibly popular, two guys in Asia meet at a campfire, Conan The Barbarian (1982), Subotai, your god lives under my god, your guy got sacrificed on the cross, a giant that’s 800 feet tall, not subject to kryptonite, but he also has a natural power like Green Lantern, yeah well my God exists, its very silly, it tricked people for a couple hundred years, cogito ergo sum, I can trust my senses, kind of Him, the people who are giving the money to the relgious people, can I marry this lady if I say these special words?, the bumps on her noggin make her really sexy.

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The SFFaudio Podcast #586 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #586 – The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 10 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Will Emmons and Trish E. Matson

Talked about on today’s show:
Weird Tales, October 1936, what a good issue this is, how many podcasts based on stories in this issue?, Lloyd Arthur Ashback, The Lost Temple Of Xantoos by Howell Calhoun, Robert Block, Witch-Burning, The Lost Door by Dorothy Quick, Mark Twain, Earle Pierce Jr., Red Nails by Robert E. Howard, the final Conan story while he’s alive, R.E.H. by Robert H. Barlow, The Secret Of Kralitz by Henry Kuttner, Arthur Conan Doyle, a lot for your money, The Shadow, Motor Stories, True Detective, Northwest Smith stories, worldbuilding, Rainbow Mars by Larry Niven, corrupt the planet, elves, diminished, our swashbuckling hero, connections, Philip Jose Farmer’s authorized Tarzan novel: The Dark Heart Of Time, a crystal tree, a civilization built around it, trees, a pocket universe ruled by a being that created the universe, ultimately easy to deal with, Jirel Of Joiry, Shambleau, succumbing to the wiles of a woman (who is not a woman), an anti-climactic ending, as an introduction, it has the virtue of being public domain, LibriVox, what she does with the language, not very much happens, mostly description, very Robert E. Howard like, the colour and the emotion, what actually happens, crashed, he’s basically Han Solo, a Mandalorian episode, no Chewie here, more pathetic than Chewie, a million year old ruined city, the Patrol, the well, a fake crying lady, reaching back into his brain vocab book, a missing bit, sacrificing a few of the forest people, through a monumental effort of will, he shoots it in the trunk/roots, very metaphorical, a dream sequence, the mushroom expression of the thing that is Thag, give him a sword, half of Conan stories, fights a god, a girl to be saved and a girl that’s evil (and jealous of Conan’s gf), Jesse’s least favourite part of Game Of Thrones, a really long story for the amount of activity that happens, a laser beam battle, a tribal war, it feels very long, the repetition, the same strange word again, incongruity, incredulous, making it more ornate and then colouring in, how it feels rather than what you see, a queer sort of music, intolerable beauty, that piercing strength, purple prose, its all about the dwelling in that feeling, the description of bodies, moonstone eyes, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Tyger by William Blake, my dead friend Gregg Margarite, “went lurking” a verb now used,

“went lurking” is a verb now used by people who only know each other via newsgroups – can mean, stopped responding to email or threads, also usable to describe people have have possibly died – so that’s how I will now describe my friends who I know have died

-they “went lurking”

Where do they lurk? Under what circumstances do they stop lurking? This sounds like a story waiting to be written.”[email protected]

Now they ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-winds, and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadoth by the Nile, at least… for now.

referencing The Outsider by H.P. Lovecraft whenever possible, The Number Of The Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, it’s a (Philip Jose) Farmer book, its not a great book, “I’m going to do nostalgia”, 666 dimensions, WOW, To Sail Beyond The Sunset, 1979/80, revisiting some feelings, self-indulgent and incestuous, Lazarus Long, Mike the computer, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Glory Road, tour de Heinlein, enjoyed reading it, living my life and reading this book, it shouldn’t exist, the Exegesis of Robert A. Heinlein, science fictional concepts, watch out for femme fatales, “I’ll try”, a character development, a bottle episode, a standalone, the way Red Nails ends, Queen Of The Black Coast, go have one of his gigantic melancholies, “harry the coast of Kush”, a sense of optimism, this is not really science fiction, more like Star Wars, sword and planet, science fantasy, a romance, more weird, a setting beyond the Earth, its totally weird, there’s this god and this wizard, Conan, The Lost Valley of Iskander by Robert E. Howard, broody and thinky, Windwagon Smith, Philip Jose Farmer’s Windwagon Smith, Frank Leslie Illustrated, The Steam Man Of The Prairies, Tom Swift And His Electric Runabout, Around The World In 80 Days, Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987), an Ice Sledge, Dragonlance DL6: Dragons Of Ice, could this really work?, Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Windwagon Smith And The Martians, a mashup, Northwest Smith and Windwagon Smith, Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides, pirates and voodoo, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, Lord Dunsany’s A Story Of Land And Sea, Thomas Windwagon Smith, 1854 newspaper accounts, the prevailing winds blow in the wrong direction, a legal document with silver ink on blue paper, adapted into a comic (Eclipse’s Orbit), recorded into an audiobook, reasons to contact Ray Bradbury, Twelve Kings In Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu, Paul Bunyan, American myths, where’s Philip Jose Farmer when we need him?, American Mythos, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Smith is that name, Joe Anybody, C.L. Moore’s afterword for Shambleau And Other Stories, a red figure running, N.W. Smith, a third character was needed, Yarol is an anagram for the typewriter, North-West recurs, North West Territory, North-West Passage, the Northwest Rebellion, Northwest Of Space, do you remember when I was a kid?, Grizzly Adams, recreating the Garden of Eden with a bear,

The Lost
Temples of Xantoos

By HOWELL CALHOUN
Celestial fantasies of deathless night, Enraptured colonnades adorned with pearls, Resplendent guardians of crimson light, Expanse of darkness silently unfurls Among colossal ruins on this shore, That once was purled by Xantoos’ rolling seas; Nothing remains upon this barren core Of Mars, but your palatial memories.

Your altars and magnificent black gods Still flash beneath the sapphire torches’ flames, The fragrant ring of sacred flowers nods Beneath the monstrous idols’ gilded frames. Your jeweled gates swing open on their bands Of gold; within, a lurid shadow stands.

John Carter, Northwest Smith, this Sea that once was (now dry), abandoned city, vocabulary practice, retelling without having read, mixing and remixing, when you put Burroughs out into the world…, more sharp, more poisonous, it sticks with you, Blake inspired, the syntax, part of the fun, reading deeply, what haunts authors, the sea is an image in Lovecraft, Philip K. Dick, C.L. Moore is more commercially minded, Robert E. Howard was willing to write for anybody, Henry Kuttner, he’s kinda like Robert E. Howard, first fanmail, ‘she’s hiding her identity behind her initials’, a more common thing to do, a trend that happened, the sexism was not real in Weird Tales, some womens names were hidden by initials, the readership was almost equally female, boys and girls and women and men of all ages, more female poets, 30% female story authors, H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Seabury Quinn, Lovecraft’s semi-beef with Farnsworth Wright, No Woman Born by C.L. Moore, gynoid body please, rings of metal, conveying the woman that she used to be, Science Fiction 101 aka Worlds Of Wonder edited by Robert Silverberg, Fondly Fahrenheit, Day Million, No Woman Born, The Monsters, Jack Vance, no time to read for anything except for the podcast, the difference between podcasts and reviews, the firehose is the fifty firehoses, I would love to help, 17th century novels and poetry nobody reads, a lot of dross, gender stereotyping, kind of a doofus as opposed fascist, compilation of trailers, Siren, Odysseus and the Sirens story, a classical trap,
a fundamental misunderstanding people have been having since the mid-19th century, what evolution, a show about mermaids set in 2020, I despair for our species, that’s why we have problems, FreeForm, filmed 10 feet from my mom’s house, Apple TV+ a fourth grade student investigating a murder as an accredited journalist, its not aimed at humans, its like a kitten detective, a serious show, Encyclopedia Brown, Love Is Blind, marriage, they’re all fake, artificial drama, the consequences, why did you bring this white guy home, a TV whore, an intellectually morally bankrupt decision, abuse, Will to to blame, subordinating themselves for infamy, The Running Man by Stephen King, The Prize Of Peril by Robert Sheckley, Das Millionenspiel, traumatized by the indignities, doing your spirit wrong Will, Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, facial tattoos, scarification, SoundCloud rapper is a culture, earlobe stretching, lip stretching, group identity by shared pain, everything’s crazy in the shade of The Tree Of Life, were in the Thag bubble, their story is a lot richer, snuggled up or running screaming, the lie of this story, he never really got out that’s why this is the last story, he’s a white man, he’s fine, a semi-desperate criminal, why people fundamentally reject the death of Han Solo, when Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes, remember Spock?, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, give Mirror Universe Spock a shave, killing Kirk, a generational changing of the guard, gone down with the Enterprise, a twitter argument,

@SFFaudio Feb 8 [2020]
time to face the truth:

STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) looks better and better and better as the years go by

at some point it will be better than VOYAGE HOME (1986) and yes, inevitably, even WRATH OF KHAN (1982)

Star Trek 1 is an art film, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969), how you know you’re in a Russian art film, a big idea, everybody agrees, VGER, Milton and Moby Dick and Shakespeare, themes, everything, meanwhile in the darkness Star Trek I is getting better and better, gaining more gravity with time, why they changed the uniforms, its Frankenstein, try the computer down, we can be friends, The Changeling, Voyage Home is so much fun, some lady who’s a cat, Assignment: Earth, “exact change”, too much LDS, while ST1 is a better film, Star Trek IV is more fun, retcon things, Jesse’s ratings of the Superman movies.

The Tree Of Life by C.L. Moore

The Lost Temples Of Xantoos

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The SFFaudio Podcast #565 – READALONG: Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse and Paul Weimer talk about Last Days Of Thronas by Stuart J. Byrne

Talked about on today’s show:
and today we’re reading…, John Bloodstone, an old science fiction novel, why wouldn’t I read this book?, public domain, never heard of this guy, Science Stories, February 1954, house names or pseudonyms, tiers of science fiction magazines, armchair fiction, digging into the issue, the cover has nothing to do with the contents of the story, a brilliant 45,000 word novel, a singular spaceship, J. Allen St. John, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan, Warlord Of Mars, The Moon Maid, a Burroughsian planetary romance, splash page, the creature, his former lover, a precursor, L. Sprague de Camp’s Viagens Interplanetarias, against the rules, find each other attractive, tentacles out of eyebrows, an ancient spaceship, the subjugated people have invented gunpowder, backgrounded to Garthanas’ story, what Paul would be thinking about Jesse would be thinking about the worldbuilding, how little this book has been published, it does was it says on the tin, a man off his world (or not our world), the ending, a solar system with two and a half inhabitable planets, Thronas is the fifth world, Carson of Venus, Hamardeen, the math and the names, a panspermia story, dinosaur time, Dalathasheen, Haven, Adamas, a tropical haven, a vast natural garden which they named…, Atlantis,

Their dreams of old we, too, have known,
But we are flesh and they are
stone,
And Yesterday is dust…

just some rando, a weird way to start a story, Tolkien, narrator Tim Harper, preeeety good job, so good, very specific vocab, names of days, all of the logic, names of ranks, layer up this world, as logical and rational as possible, lovely detail, the amphitheater, very vivid, very colourful, a real sense of embodiment, the interests of the author, elf names, etymological construction to the names of things, the measuring system, worldbuilding and making a whole universe (or solar system) for a FIVE HOUR BOOK, and to make the story work as well, the same trick over and over: a secret identity, he’s teaching us, you like Twelfth Night, you like Shakespeare, he’s turning evil, what if I’ve been rooting for a monster this whole time, that’s good writing, the AI of the ship, the metal god, a very early AI, from such an oblique angle, The Great C by Philip K. Dick, he Kirks the computer, I love that idea, the computer doesn’t say, if Kirking is a verb, apparently Gene Roddenberry was a fan, “I’d stand in a line in the rain for one of Stu Byrne’s stories”, back when Paul was young and strong, Thundarr The Barbarian Garth Ennis, one of the many many rip-off’s if Conan, make the show to sell the toys, unpublished Tarzan novel, fan fiction, the Pellucidars, the Barsoom books, male romancesque, lost to time, when the book is THIS interesting, the archaeology of this sort of thing, born in 1911, Jam Packed with Burroughs, more of the same, He-Man, She-Ra, Red Sonja (from the comics), filed-off serial numbers, friendship works differently in Burroughs-world, honor-based friendship, more sex and drinking, more carousing, no animal friend, no Woola, The Green Odyssey, a loving-parody-comedy vs. straight-up, Michael Moorcock, Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein, hard to escape the orbit of Burroughs, S.M. Stirling, Tantor Media, The Sky People, In The Courts Of The Crimson Kings, he goes wide, characterizing the responses to Burroughs, dinosaurs on Mars, Leigh Brackett, aliens, A World Of Difference by Harry Turtledove, a collapsed empire, the golden ship is a great piece, with that ending he’s cutting off all the sequels, what it turns this book into is a science fiction book of the mainstream type, acceleration, artificial gravity, a force of nature like the tides, the worship of many many gods, how much work he put into this, not a work of slapdashery, Goodreads reviews, the used bookstores podcast, Goodreads is owned by Amazon, many moral hazards in the universe, AbeBooks is owned by Amazon, Byrne is from St. Paul,

It has all the hallmarks of a hastily-written product plus one whose creator has a very specific beginning and endpoint in mind and is working to bridge the two. Byrne occasionally has to paste in the gaps with backstory or offstage events–clearly he was not going to go back and revise–and this leaves the impression that more interesting things are happening to more interesting people while Garthanas is standing around waiting or being talked to.

The story is also strangely unspecific about the context. It’s implied that the oppressed Harmarians are some kind of ethnic minority who are slowly being deported to planet Hamardeen (Mars) because the Thronasians would prefer to be served by the unpredictable and violent nonhuman polar inhabitants, but nobody says this and it is not explained clearly. The half-explanations conspire to baffle and not tantalize with unseen depths.

“Space barbarians” is arrived at uniquely, with a robotic Golden Ship left behind by an earlier civilization. It is a tragedy that this is the only remnant of super-science and one wonders what more Byrne could have added to liven up this story.

The final moments, as it starts to wrap up, do achieve power. Byrne finally has a specific vision with a specific end goal and Garanthas is in place to witness it all and to act appropriately. But the overall impression is less “tale of multigenerational tragedy” than “muddled mess”.

hanging out with a Roman slave who knows how the Roman Empire works, a case of reviewism, a disease that effects many reviewers, space barbarians, a trope, maybe it needed more pondering, a lot of battle scenes, before we talk about the art, action packed, almost the script for Buck Rogers, so many court scenes, sneaking around inside of a space ship, a Star Wars (1977) level of action, kissing, intrigue, how you are when you come to something, a serious problem when they do reviews a lot, IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, he’s writing to his own conclusion, award winning is a bad word in Jesse’s mind, The Aquiliad: Aquila In The New World by S.P. Somtow, you need to know what the author is doing, answers to What If, the artist knew truth, the only person better at sculpting than me is my master, a very small pair of worlds, another connection to Star Wars, hello Jupiter, reading into it, he wanted to have philosophy in it without getting into it, a thinker king like King Kull, appreciating the art, about that meditation, a John Carter who is appreciating the martian sculptures, normally that’s us when reading the books, the statue at the end, it’s in that opening song, a future echo, an echo of the past, Battlestar Galactica, page 13, we are flesh and they are stone, playing with, the word “Truth”, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley, Ozymandias by Horace Smith, On A Stupendous Leg Of Granite…, hubris is a great problem, uh huh and yup and we’re going to be the same way, more political, Lovecraftian vs. science fictional, that projection, Beyond Thirty by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert Charles Wilson’s Darwinia, the journals and a report about what’s going on in North America, Planet Of The Apes, fast paced, Jack McDevitt’s Eternity Road, so many great books that are just hidden away, ratings are a part of the problem of reviewism, star ratings, clouding judgement, it straight jackets you, the pain management chart, hangnail 1, gaping flesh wound from sword stab 8, a standard of one person, the way Luke Burrage justifies his rating system, this is not a classic like a The House On The Borderland, The Time Machine, more worldbuilding than The Green odyssey, Tolkien vs. Narnia, portal fantasy vs. secondary world, six hours well spent, thank you to Tim Harper,

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

Last Days Of Thronas by S.J. Byrne - illustration by J. Allen St. John

The SFFaudio Podcast #497 – READALONG: Dune (Appendices) by Frank Herbert

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #497 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Bryan Alexander, talk about Dune: Appendices by Frank Herbert aka the appendixes of Dune, the adaptations, and the book’s influence.

Talked about on today’s show:
the Appendix, a world first?, The Lord Of The Rings, Tom Bombadil, Tom Baker, most science fiction books don’t have appendices, Ringworld, Hal Clement’s Mission Of Gravity, The Ecology Of Dune, The Silmarillion, more fiction, out-takes from world-building, Neal Stephenson’s Anathem, glossary, what makes an appendix an appendix, non-fictional matter that explains and develops a world, really wants to be Dune, Christo Empire Silence , an empire must be get-able to, Aba – loose robe worn by Fremen women, usually black, another episode, Kynes came first, his babies, doing all that work, so fully thought through, the seams are as smooth as the desert sand, a skeptical point of view, past the point where you need it, the American edition of A Clockwork Orange, a glossary of the slang, a weird supplement, you don’t need the map, Eric Rabkin, transformed language, new or repurposed vocabulary, lasgun, a demystifier, the terminology of the impreium, demi-brother, cone of silence, Get Smart, a superfluousness, a playground of the imagination, peons, he put it into the book but he doesn’t use the word, the real reason, Dune lives beyond the last chapter, there is only one Dune movie, the Sci-Fi channel miniseries are fucking terrible, wasn’t there a book too, heartplugs, there’s no heartplugs in the original Dune book, a life much greater than the final word of the last sentence of the last book of Dune, sequels by other hands, Star Wars, Jesse’s spirited defense of the weirding modules, David Lynch’s Dune doesn’t capture the Paul – Duncan Idaho relationship, whiny Paul, “I just want to see my dad”, “Paul we don’t need your sarcasm”, Paul is the receiver of a long tradition, the Harkonnens, they’re not joking around, William Hurt, casting, ending scenes with a rhyming couplet, the Jodorowsky Dune, Pink Floyd, a fantasy dream, Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary, stories and stories, visual matches, Hollywood loves to pilfer from foreign films, movies that come out in pairs, Deep Impact and Armageddon, psychedelic, using drugs to expand consciousness, a sixties novel, a seventies novel, the ecological part, the rain at the end, the reward for the ritual sacrifice of Sting, the galactic setting, the mythical part, Beatles, El Topo (1970), a psychedelic western, The Holy Mountain (1973), it makes Zardoz looks like an after-school special, Santa Sangre (1989), Lynch was the wrong director, the anti-epic, the greatest science fiction film every made, trying to turn Dune into a movie, the Allan Smithee version, the Japanese laser-disc version, we gotta lot of characters, we gotta infodumping, all the things that happen, more than enough for a season of a television show, Francessa Annis, Leonardo Cimino, the Baron’s Doctor, your diseases made love to me, Brad Dourif, he treats everyone like an idiot, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, and his co-stars, there’s nothing about eyebrows in the book, the kind of detail Jesse is loving, visualization, The Death Of Stalin (2017), Steve Buscemi, Brezhnev, Richard Jordan, Kyle Maclachlan, a blank slate, Blue Velvet, The Trigger Effect (1996), The Twilight Zone, very present for its time, Virginia Madsen, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill, Twin Peaks, Jack Nance, Nefud, they’ve even got his music in there, it’s unbelievable, Jürgen Prochnow, Patrick fuckin Stewart, a battle pug!, dogs, Atredies, RPG launchers, Long live Duke Leto!, no pets on Dune, if Queen Elizabeth showed up with her corgis, Lynch added, he worked on the script for six months, so full, it works really well if you know the story, how come everybody isn’t watching this every night, the third stage guild navigators, giant slug people, Sardaukar Terror Troops, visually what is happening, Wellington Yueh, Asian, international casting, red haired, every grunt is ginger, a horrible sex scene, the heartplug is the symbol for that kind of perversion, it is the novel in a very real sense, the cat’s job is to show that Thufir is being controlled, they had to cut stuff, whole scenes added at the beginning of the film, it really almost is the book, its awesome!, so accessible, people who’ve read the book tend to be dismayed by it, the tradition of epic film, Akira Kurosawa, Kubrik’s Spartacus, the Battle of the Five Armies, The Straight Story, a really weird noise, finally a David Lynch moment, Inland Empire (2006), Mullholland Drive (2001), a perfect horror film in three minutes, a very strange scene, the floating fatman, never before never since, every war movie, the sense of pageantry, the sense of scale and heat, desert coloured fatigues, a sense of scale that the book can’t, the production history, Dino De Laurentiis, watching people on stage, the worms are fabulous, a universal film, Star Wars for grown ups, this is not Buck Rogers, completely belly-flopped, way the minority, a punchline, the existential bleakness of the Dune Coloring Book, let’s color the Baron’s Doctor, incredibly abbreviated, 129 theatrical, 176 minutes, how weird it is, whispered though narration, “My Duke. How I’ve failed you!”, literally weird as in weird fiction, hypnotizing, straight out of the book, the banquet scene, My Dinner With Andre, a whole episode, everything about the miniseries is terrible, more Irulan in the TV mini-series, disembodied head, nice and Lynchian, Dune Messiah, more cat-milking, the goddamn weirding modules, all the other versions of Dune, a jazz album from the 1970s, a board game, the real time strategy game, The Dune Encyclopedia, The Dune Companion, this isn’t a concordance, creative stuff, Game Of thrones, where it could have gone beyond, not-ordinary fan fiction, its the Talmud, oh my god!, especially Jesse, expanding out that universe, what’s in this that inspires that?, what would hook him?, that whole weird trip, the world-building that went into the book, historical novels, Steen Hansen, thank you Steen, Steen’s spirit animal is the Baron from the movie, he’s the ID unleashed, such a fucking evil shit that you love, little Alia, Rabban rips the face off a cow, “Yeth my Baron!”, this is not a rip-off of Star Wars, Tatooine, we got some moisture vaporators, some bantha tracks, Carrie Fisher back from the dead flying through space with magic woo powers, the comparison, the centerpieces, Paul Atredies and Luke Skywalker, the National Lampoon, the Dessert World, “my god I’m good, my god…I’m God!”, power fantasies, such a period piece, staying power beyond the 1960s and 1970s, the spaceship earth mode, oil and scarcity, the attitude towards sexuality, the homophobic strain, will that power last?, that’s just the way the world works these days, absent an adaptation…, Altered Carbon, a book compressed and shoved into a film medium, it’s time to talk about the weirding modules, untranslatable to film, much easier to film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, Harry Potter is much more influenced by film than other fantasy novels prior to it, Rowlings books have scenes and sequences, rich and deep themes about psychology, loyalty, love, the weirding way, a specialized athlete, very hard to translate that to film, yoga mats, aligning chakras, montage, “you have the weirding way”, why these people are special, the new army, a second level guild navigator cleaning up urine with a broom, making small-talk, you are transparent, the emperor spills his guts, a filmable film, set the film in motion, a through-line, the training scenes, “kick it, punch it, yell at it”, they have laser swords!, some sort of gimmick item, Krull (1983), how the voice can control people, “My name is a killing”, Usul no longer needs the weirding module, a perfect film, “THE (film) adaptation of DUNE full stop end of story”, watching, listening, Dune Messiah, how we’re going to overthrow Paul, we once made a Kwisatz Haderach but we had to kill him, a prophet, many such prophets, Joseph Smith, Jesus, a lost of thread of Dune, that’s the kind of passion, a flying Dutchman of space, dates mentioned in the book, the history from 1980 to Dune’s future, so generative, Stephenson tells you everything, CHOAM, Noam Chomsky, why Jesse is completely wrong about the weirding modules, Arnold J. Toynbee, history, challenge and response, The Dosadi Experiment, Babylon 5, why the Fremen are such great fighters, the Vorlons are the democrats, the Shadows are the republicans, and the solution is to get out from under both, deliberately creating these conditions, serving wench, God Emperor Of Dune, unless you squeeze and squeeze the human race will be killed off, one Sardaukar throws two Atredies, the training montage, training a unit, “fit him with the weirding module, Doctor Yueh”, activate a fighter, paralleled in the back end, the fighting machine, this could have been a great theme, Denis Villeneuve, visuals, music, favorite actors, Arrival (2016) had scale, Blade Runner: 2049 (2017), if you’re doing the book, look at The Hobbit, they’re doing it wrong, five dwarves too many, where’s the poetry, to film the impossible film, Brian Herbert, Eric Roth, War And Peace, the Soviet 8 hour film, Lynch put such a stamp, when you’re watching the miniseries, sentences, spun and respun, the previous incantations, the power of the word, Soviet movies, formally possible, production, do a TV show, The Man In The High Castle, Sharknado 5, sigh, Sicario (2015), HBO, Westworld, cinematic universes, The Expanse, back into the book and the books, all those cultures and all those secrets, such depth, if you could read the book and enjoy it you could be my friend, in 1983/4, Starlog, the stills, one more adaptation, the Audible multiple narrator edition, George Guidall, a 2010 music video starring Christopher Walken, check out my new weapon, walk without rhythm you won’t attract the worm, the wonderful dance, this crazy book line, the power of these words, still influencing, an ars technica discussion, Second Life, three different Dune re-enactment levels, a still suit, a chrysknife, scheduled reenactments, Prim Perfect, a tottaly VR game, oh my love girl, knife fight with Sting!, prescient visions, the appropriate use the media, infeasible/unfeasable, nobody loves every episode, there’s more interest in Dune podcast episodes, independent of hype, Luke Burrage, Comic Book Girl 19‘s Dune show, holy crap she’s a genius, becoming hyper-intelligent when talking about it, doing something profound to the reader, fake excitement, New Releases/Recent Arrivals, most of it is artificial, Bryan do you want to show on Greenmantle by John Buchan?, the best of a bunch of bad books, revisiting Dune with you, is that the end? it could be the end, but there’s no sequels, that was just the excuse, the trigger for the movie talk, shitting on the Bene Gesserit for being a little dumb, the Religions of Space Travel, published by Chilton, what it did for Chilton, when you break the mold, people want the mold, the publishers tell authors what to write, John W. Campbell, the Golden Age, Extra Credits, the book business, the Golden Age for some people?, the dignity, a new golden age?, stuff was really great back in that time, The First Golden Age of SF 1938-1946, 1947-1959, the rise of the paperback, writing paperbacks, from short stories to novels (and then series), changing the SF genre immensely, a whole new market, Del Rey, The Sword Of Shannara, extruded fantasy product, the grim dark era, a piracy show, never underestimate the power for the demand of a product, Tolkien didn’t want his books published in paperback, the ACE The Lord Of The Rings, an authorized paperback edition, not-piracy per-se, the history of their own industry, demand that isn’t supplied, suppression, getting that supply, the words must flow, paperbacks and pockets, “you could get hardcover books of Tolkien at the library”, in the modern era, a digital copy, Tolkien’s feelings about the wretchedness, Dune rules as a paperback, piracy is just demand, Wayne June is super-popular, beneficial to Wayne June, they are loving giving him money, not knowing what the market’s actually like, fictional author: Alice Beth Chatham, both sides, look to your own experience, piracy is a way of getting stuff when you don’t have any money, really complex, sometimes flattering, a weird argument with the head of the RIAA, steal this episode, pay for this episode, obscurity is the big problem, somebody got mad, an author dropped by the publisher, lost sales, save it for the pirate episode?

Map of Arrakis

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Star Wars: Bloodline

SFFaudio Review

Bloodline by Claudia GrayStar Wars: Bloodline (New Republic)
By Claudia Gray; Narrated by January LaVoy
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 3 May 2016
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 hours, 14 minutes

Themes: / Star Wars / New Republic /

Publisher summary:

WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE RESISTANCE
 
When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.
 
Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy—from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.
 
As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position—even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing. . . .

Review:

To start I will say that I was about to give up on Star Wars books because I haven’t been enjoying them lately, but now I’m telling my friends that do like Star Wars book to go read this one because we might be turning a corner here.

What starts out as a slow, politics-laden story became a fun Star Wars book that actually had meaningful events. The recent flow of Star Wars novels have felt like filler more than content so it’s about time a story actually starting to really fill in some of the events between Episodes 6 and 7. The book isn’t perfect by any means but I enjoyed it well enough and it gives me hope that more good novels could still happen. Did you miss all the politics that didn’t happen in Episode 7? Well you are going to love the beginning of this book. Glad there weren’t politics in Episode 7? Be patient with the beginning of the book and you’ll be rewarded with some redeeming adventure afterwards!

The story begins with tension in the senate between Democrats and Republicans in the senate….err I mean Centrists and Populists. Really the whole two party system felt like an allegory for the current political climate in many ways. If you’re sick of all the primaries and partisan stuff going on, you’ll be able to relate to the nonsense going on here. Both sides of the New Republic government see each other a villains or weak and their bickering means nothing gets accomplished (see what I mean about it being just like our government???). Enter a real threat and everyone is too busy arguing to pay any head so lets send a bipartisan contingent to investigate! Leia (populist) volunteers to go on a mission to investigate this criminal organization and an annoying, pompous centrist volunteers to go with her.

Enter Ransolm Casterfo. This guy starts out pretty annoying but I actually came to really like him after the first little foray of adventure. He has more depth to him than many other Star Wars characters and is given many nuanced decisions to make throughout the book while dealing with the fact that he becomes friends with his political enemy. He has a big role to play in this story and does not disappoint. There are a couple of other interesting characters that are introduced in this novel and they are also often more than they seem…but Ransolm Casterfo is the best of them.

Speaking of adventure, the action has a bit of a rocky start but gets to be more interesting as the story progresses. There were some moments early on when I got pretty tired of Leia being some kind of expert of the criminal world and acting pretty reckless, but a lot of that pulpy behavior faded out as the story continued. Star Wars is still the kind of world where you don’t send special forces or spies to investigate criminal organizations, you send some of your most important leaders (Like how Star Trek always seems to have the top ranking officers of the ship on dangerous away missions).

As for the audio side of things Star Wars continues with its great formula of great narration, music, sound effects, and atmospheric sounds. January LaVoy does a great job with the narration even though her range of distinct voices isn’t as varied as some. The music and special effects were great as usual with some odd music choices for some scenes but some very poignant choices for others. Most of the atmospheric sounds were good but some scenes go on a while and I felt like the background noise was on a bit of a loop – a problem I haven’t heard from a Star Wars audiobook since Star Wars: Kenobi (thank goodness it wasn’t very distracting).

Posted by Tom Schreck

Review of Aftermath: Star Wars by Chuck Wendig, Read by Marc Thompson

SFFaudio Review

Star Wars AFtermathAftermath: Star Wars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
By Chuck Wendig; Narrated by Marc Thompson
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: September 04, 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 12 Hours and 16 Minutes

Themes: / Star Wars / rebels / empire /

Publisher summary:

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down. Devastating blows against the Empire and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance – now a fledgling New Republic – presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial star destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former Rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world – war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’ urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is – or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit – to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies – her technical genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector – who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Star Wars Aftermath is the first book of the newly renovated Star Wars timeline to take place after the original movies and it doesn’t live up to the hype that surrounded it. We were enticed by the potential for details of what happens after Return of the Jedi but details of the main heroes are doled out sparingly while the main part of the story involves mostly new characters. This isn’t quite the journey to the Force Awakens I was hoping for.

The main plot follows those new characters, Wedge gets some screen time in there, and we get small glances of the rest of the universe through small little interlude chapters – which are the most interesting parts of the book. We get to find out some hints of interesting things going on elsewhere in the universe and it’s the unclear nature of those hints that make them so interesting.

So what about the main story? It’s fairly standard pulpy Star Wars action that I honestly can’t really remember a whole lot of because nothing particularly stood out. Some of the remnant of the Empire decide to hold a secret meeting somewhere they don’t have firm control (or also not somewhere in deep space) so that Rebels (or New Republic people) could stumble upon them and we could have some nice “stuck on a planet” moments. I’ve seen some criticism of the writing style but I think the main problem this book has is that the plot doesn’t really seem to matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, I don’t look for fine writing in a Star Wars book anyway – I look for fun and action.

As for the audio side of things, Marc Thompson and the sound engineers did a great job as per usual. Thompson does a great range of voices and impressions even though he didn’t really get to use many of those impressions in this book. His Wedge sounds a lot more like Luke but Wedge doesn’t really have as much of persona from the movies anyway. The music and sound effects were great as they usually are in Star Wars productions.

Posted by Tom Schreck