The SFFaudio Podcast #646 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #646 – Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick – read by Ian Bradford Ngongotaha Pugh. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (31 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Evan Lampe.

Talked about on today’s show:
Orbit, December 1953, copyright clearances, a comic book adaptation, BIPOC, very countryist of you, IBPOC, who gets to be included, LGBTQ2S+, a council that meets in the sewers beneath New York City, can Jesse be included?, parentage, black vs. coloured, then most obvious, latinx, 25% of the community is aware of it, approx 5% use it, Tony’s dad, that’s our word, you beetle lover, Pasudeti’s point of view, very different, similar themes, goodreads, three Os with a little line dancing over it, 3.5 stars, ratings out of stars, one of the most different Philip K. Dick stories, the literary agency that gave it a G or a G+, classify it, feel about it, Mike Resnick, Birthright: The Book Of Man, dooming humanity, enslaved and subjugated, teetering point, where we came from, Seven Views Of Olduvai Gorge, bootstrap up themselves to sentience, mankind are assholes, India’s rise against the British, decolonization, Rhodesia, Kenya, leibensraum, you can’t live on Earth anymore, how far they spread, other Orion planets, a huge crisis, we must move out just to survive, a theme in Dick’s novels, The Variable Man, Mr. Spaceship, The World Jones Made, this expansion of humanity, this intimate way, what he thought were friends, his community, this way, this angle, Time Out Of Joint, Arthur C. Clarke, Omni Magazine, it doesn’t seem inevitable, doom, one battle, the tide has turned, they’re evacuating the planet, evacuating the city, beetle riots and mobs, being psychohistorians, this is stolen ground, in the long term, no forever in the long term, the SMLA agency, “pedestrian”, “rather corny stuff”, “pretending to be impressive”, not your favourite, my knee, earnest, certain works are the greats, they don’t understand it, seeing Jesse’s own reactions, why is this ok?, The Crystal Crypt, humans leaving Mars, Earth spies steal a city, black clad leiters, Philip K. Dick is doing something, our hero in this story, Tony Rossi, Italian, Anthony, Italians play a role, make a little list, Roog, Cardossis, a real house and a real dog, The Man In The high Castle, Joe Cinadella, Now Wait For Last Year, always on about the Italians, my best friend was Italian!, the Japs, victory gardens, a German last name, Philip K. Dick’s father, a gas mask, everybody knows what your name is, Dick is a pretty funny name, where this story is really set, he was never decolonized, double envelopment, seeing his story in print there, American tank gives piggy back ride to nip tank, growing up during the war, during the Italian Campaign, Sicily, the Italians change size, Benito Mussolini, again The Hanging Stranger, an analogy, the number of military bases in Italy today, between 3 and 100, growing up on a military base, that’s actually what we see, he puts on his spacesuit, I’m going out to play, school 4 hours a day 6 days a week (online), a mandatory lift from a beetle, the B-slur, humans automatically get rides, a polite boy, an attractive telepathic female, the robot carries his bag, his friends reject him, you suck, fuck you, they throw rocks at him, not suitable for human life, recovery mode, his EEP (his robot dog), a heat ray, no blood, Tony’s visor fogs up, we’re on the run now, a really weird story, read the words and bounced off, how amazing the amount of planetary world building goes on, the flux winds, trudging through sands, almost like Cuba, freighters that have been changed, they have an empire, a really amazing world, told from the POV of someone least able to tell us about it, threatens to beat his son, that threat from the parents, Martians Come In Clouds, the external colonizers, the monsters are the humans, he’s 11 in that story and 10 in this story, we know he’s reading the newspaper, he has to flip through the newspaper, everybody would know what’s going on, his sensitivity level is through the roof, John W. Campbell, a metaphor for sensitivity, insensitive to his parent’s racism, working on projects with them, polite and friendly, they turn on a dime, all of a sudden, this Japanese friend, the next day Pearl Harbor happens, the stab in the back, unprovoked attack, high rhetoric for Pearl Harbor, a participant in this hate, reflecting upon it and thinking about it, a twitter thread about this story, an interesting comparison to Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, a movie of no note, a very powerful book, a war story told from the point of view of a boy, special kids, super-soldiers in a war against the buggers, Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, funny name, accident, human inability to recognize they were like them, stolen ground, a thoughtful guy, a relgious guy, anti-gay vs. homophobic asshole, taking his religion seriously, pressing Paul’s buttons, all his hate non-violent, sexual preference, sexual tension between the young pasudeti woman and young Tony on the bus, Catholicism’s official policy on homosexuality, dodging it, still evolving, dealing with intellectual inconsistencies, when Tony is being attack for his species, why he would feel hurt, physically assaulted, a terrible law imposed on them, an occupying force, settlers, stolen ground, we’re here because we’re stronger, a meeting of an elite at a university, introductions degrees, acknowledge the place that they’re in is on unceded territory, on Dakota land, I’m headed back to Europe, this is stolen ground, there’s no place for Jesse to go, the Earth is uninhabitable, something deep inside this, all the ships that come from Europe or Asia, the Vietnam War, “doesn’t resonate in a particular way yet (but I think it will), I was thinking about the end of the Vietnam War and the aircraft carriers, the images of aircraft, perfectly good helicopters, being pushed off to make room for more people, this is 1975, and they’re just like trying to get every person who was a quote unquote collaborator, that’s not my word, but somebody who is going to get persecuted or
prosecuted for collaborating with the Americans out and into the United States to safety, right? Those people can’t go back. I guess this is sorta how the Cubans feel, in southern Florida, or whatever. So there’s some sort of resonance going on there and that’s … this is not a
story that can be judged on a score out of five, because its not trying to win a contest its trying to express a very, very specific kind of concern. It’s a very strange story.”, subsequent books, how do you reconcile the idea of your country and community being taken from and genocided to take that land, they ain’t giving it back, a nice worldbuilding, Eastward Ho! by William Tenn (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1958), really dark, world history, the century of Ethnic Cleansing (the 20th century), the Acadians, Armenia, Pakistan – India, decolonization efforts, Zanzibar, the rights of indigenous people vs. ethno-nationalism, they physically come and ethnically cleanse you, some cop shows up, little Johnny has to leave to a camp, Germans and Italians, Germans ethnically cleansed from Europe after the war, 12 million people, Prussia, German enclaves, all over the world, a whole bunch of Germans shipped to Australia during WWII, the Dunera Boys, enemy aliens, hate causes that, they don’t wear a pickle helmet, Paul’s family name pronunciation changed, based on hate, racism, the George Takei, the Star Trek guy, Star Trek was trying to break up that idea of racism, Kenyan, they had a Jewish captain and a Jewish first officer, one world government, ethnic identities but not ethno states, Harry Kim is from Denmark, so weird to have a nuanced very strange little idea, an anti-happy ending, Tony is turned from being a happy little boy playing with his friends to a bitter boy who could be fighting the pasudeti soon, sufficient lengths to show these bug-like aliens have their own ethnic slur for humans (white-grubs), not a militaristic culture, swapped military equipment, armed freighters, those beetles shooting down our boys from armed-freighters, to think of those Germans shooting down my boy, some rando, strategic bombing, is it okay for us to bomb cities?, coup any attempts at change, ask the city fathers of Carthage, economic and social control of Sicily, the Phoenicians, a commercial empire, mercenaries, raise more legions, delda est, Delenda Est by Robert E. Howard, culture is important, the humans remind Evan of the Romans, on the planet for 14 years, slaves and land, citizenship, the best way of analyzing it, he’s set it in space, the barbarians are retaking the land, now taking Rome, cynicism about the humans, designed to be humans are always the same wherever we go, he ain’t wrong, nobody’s mad at Genghis Khan the way they’re mad at Hitler, betrayed by his friends at school, his haircut, Cato was in favour of genocide, its so long ago, ultra-right nationalists, SPQR, trolls, we don’t have to go back too far, victims and oppression, Israel, reparations for slavery, continue cancelling people, cancelling Genghis Khan, cancel Thomas Jefferson, re-contextualizing, less hagiography more history, the 1619 project, first grade, early American history, conservatives react badly, Irish drafted into the US army and sent to fight in Mexico, the largest mass execution in U.S. history, all this land was stolen, a war of imperialist conquest, most people aren’t in academic environments, Tom Berenger, One Man’s Hero (1999), HBO movies, we don’t care about you, a pretty compelling example, the two state solution, good luck with that, a one state solution, secular power-sharing, still in ethno-nationalist, a lot of support for it, Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, punishment, on this planet, its not even habitable, his parents gave him an EEP, a cute robot dog (also a killing machine bodyguard), electronic extermination pet?, a truck ride in the Man In The High Castle, everything in this story is Italian, regular people, if Jesse lived in Italy and there’s a military base right beside me, a military transport that ran over a Korean school girl, the Catholic church’s solution to problem priests, resentment, you’re a nice guy and everything but get the fuck out of here, Okinawa, the Taiwanese will take those bases, it isn’t pedestrian, there’s a lot of walking in this story, not even a real grapefruit he’s eating, a lot of walking, a regular old story about a guy who goes for a walk, a kind of tree, a kid rejected on the school yard, what colour his spacesuit is, its bizarre and fascinating, people read Philip K. Dick backward, I like LSD, they like Ubik, this doesn’t have that stuff, the Jupiter symphony by Mozart, they don’t understand, the beat vs. the lyrics, all the words passed into my eyes, trying to make money, Jesse read a ton of science fiction, nobody else writes about kids, middle grade fiction, Schooled by Gordon Korman, school books, the short story fiction markets from the 1950s, the short story market is basically dead, it was always adult, in science fiction?, Stephen King, he does kids really well, how many H.P. Lovecraft stories? [The Silver Key], the pasudeti kids, they’re building a space station, the childhood of slaves, plantations were not segregated, the childhood aspect, stolen childhood, playing with the black slaves, this facade doesn’t work anymore, even without the defeat, equals, power over them, a cusp of awakening, Joel Chandler Harris, Uncle Remus, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, like Robert E. Howard, you take your place as the lord of the manor, they need to know their place, you can free some of them when you die, she smiled faintly, she knows what’s going to happen, Tony was troubled and uncertain, to the place where his friends lived, an immense bengalo tree, a domed city, B’Prith, his eep, “how are things?”, fine, their shells had not hardened, they’re the grubs, they could hop and skip around still, such a great writer, “what’s the matter”, Llyre, what are you all mad about, the war again, his anger burst up, it was fine, sure, the heart of the story, being affected by what’s going on in the news, when 9/11 happened, all those arab kids endlessly prosecuted and persecuted, both, getting attacked for nothing they did, we do it to ourselves, he’s capturing something, the antithesis of pedestrian, so wrapped up in its own explanations, sorry about the genocide, gotta be nice to the Indians now, this is a very extraordinary story, how could you rate this?, it makes sense to compare it, it doesn’t make sense to rate, trying to classify things, the instinct to rate, The Father-Thing was sold to the highest market, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Philip K. Dick is so important because he’s doing things nobody else is doing, starting with Valis, I dig drugs, The Crystal Crypt is almost impenetrable, could be years, Evan’s podcast on this story, the one state solution, the no state solution, most of the West Bank is colonized, the beetles would be the majority, a detour, The Wild One (1953) with Marlon Brando, The Red Dwarf version of the movie, personality on screen, I love you johnny, based on a short story about a real incident, took over the town, a “riot”, a photograph, a phenomenon in the 1950s, the juvenile delinquents, Rebel Without A Cause (1955), James Dean, the biker gangs started after WWII, ex-bomber pilots all PTSD, living the wild lifestyle, the 1%ers, outlaw motorcycle gangs, they don’t fucking care about your fucking laws, I don’t like no cops, I don’t make no deals with cops, this is a reaction, when you come back from the war traumatized, unless you’re a psychopath, drinking, not obeying, not old enough to be a soldier, his ROTC didn’t last very long, too sensitive, a universal draft, arguing about it at the kitchen table, we know exactluy what’s going on, but Tony doesn’t know, his dad threatens to beat him, if this is your target and you hit your target, that movie makes no sense, a warning to our society, the disclaimer, the least wild person in the whole movie is the wild one, calm down, have a seat, have a drink, how high his voice is pitched, a homoerotic relationship, somebody throws a tire iron at him, his bike runs over an old man, the whole point of this movie, it doesn’t give you a clue, they don’t understand it at the time, why these biker gangs existed, cops are authority, fascinating psychology, a post traumatic stress society.

Tony And The Beetles by Philip K. Dick

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The SFFaudio Podcast #644 – READALONG: Martians Come In Clouds by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #644 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe a talk about Martians Come In Clouds by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Fantastic Universe, June – July 1953, read before?, Second Variety and Other Stories, moments used in The World Jones Made, gelatinous blobs, xenophobic violence, overtly political, the translated titles, Philip K. Dick’s submitted title “The Buggies”, the memorability of the stories, how important it is for the story, a pretty simple story, sits his kid down, kid goes for a walk, he sees a buggie, they kill a buggie, what the father saw, his reaction, if we cut out the whole middle section that would change the story radically, why cant we assume the martians are speaking to all the people, a lot darker, how its supposed to be read, its not about the boy, everybody is the same way, the Philip K. Dick rhetorizer, “Rigid”, newspapers, of the period, familiar, finding the title, the canned dutch ham, a very Philip K. Dick move, the couch, where Philip K. Dick lived in Berkley when he was 11 years old, 1212 Walnut Street, Berkeley, California, Bubber and The Cookie Lady, every tree name, visually inspirational, tree and forest street, Douglas, palm trees, Vermont Street, maple syrup, we are in once upon a time land, Hansel And Gretel, once upon a time land, the suburbs are a forest, garages, buses, even more chilling, mining his own youth, conjure up, where the buggie lands, a shout out to The Father Thing, Ralph Drake, like a dried up thing you’d find in a garage, the evergreens, something moved, a combination of Los Angeles and Seattle (in climate), walking home from school, the childhood thing, spiders with them, it becomes like the world, yellow light inside, dark and menacing, wailing, trees and detritus, “the Ditch”, a tangle of forest and trees, it felt big, explore and delve in, Paul was smol (with big eyes), some beautiful parallels, why Jesse recommends Dick as a writer, what say Barnes, they already tore it up, poking it down with a pole, what?, spider-web, what they see in the bamboo, a tree covered in a web, very nebulous, a giant nest for the eggs of some sort of insect, they eat the whole tree (every leaf), just a little while, 99.9% chance something like this happened in his neighborhood, political, so many spiders in Philip K. Dick, stop pulling those legs off, Phil, feeling awful, so sensitive, super-sensitive, trained by Philip K. Dick, the brutality of the humans is evident from the beginning of the story, grim-faced and trembling, what was the fear caused by?, the vision the buggie gives to our main character, a lecture from his dad, you mind what your father tells you, the biggest whipping, I’ll get washed, be yelly, a whole other educational scene at the end, violence, externalizing violence away from the family, punch him on the shoulder, no reaction, very normalized, dirt on his cheek, his hair is tousled, did he get that at school?, these are free range kids, a more innocent time, the stranger danger is the humans, outsiders coming in, more subtle, I wonder where it will end?, a dying planet, their perception of it, Dick’s intention, the efforts of blacks to get into the suburbs, Lovecraft Country, they’re more organized this time, like leaves, you get out the long pole (aka the rake), gosh!, Will Emmons, what is it about?, it’s about communism, it’s about communists, another Red Scare, the insanity of McCarthyism, from Truman to Eisenhower and VP Tricky Dick, the war, communism is everywhere, what broke the fever, what the buggie is trying to say, I’m trying to be transparent here, on metal disks in the middle of the ocean, fuck off!, get a fireman and burn it to death, looking below, you could put any group in there, immigrants, aliens come in caravans, imploring, begging, permission, mobs and police, the violent culture, indoctrination, if it was an adult, this is how you learn to be a racist, those are the others, see how we treat that person, what you need to understand, boy, like little sponges, your religion, being afraid of outsiders, the programming, numb them to the violence, picnics at a lynching, take you pet to the vet, associating the positive with going out, spay you, the really spooky part, capturing this programming, how you program a society, how you program people, little Jimmy, sad, a tragedy, take anybody’s permission, he should have found the dog in Roog, genetically programmed to bark at strangers, the house came with a dog, a rundown house and a rundown dog, get used to communists, this is a sad story, we should be sympathetic to these beings, it would help a living being, we don’t understand it, whatever it is we’re blind to, the structure does the job of what Philip K. Dick is trying to say, Hartley Construction, Western Lumber, his chest swelling, Frank Hendrix was from Missouri, Jack Green, Green thumped Ted on the back, chip off the old block, coffee, not one damned bit, all aglow with reflected glory, the kid was scared shitless, the analogy of the barking dog, he’s lying to himself about what his son felt, what he does with his trembling hands, a very Philip K. Dick move, blowing smoke in a grey mist, what’s for dinner, he presents something, lets sit with that for a while, another Philip K. Dick-ism, Lena, nineteen hundred and fifty eight, mid sixties, early seventies, what the Martians are presenting, a CBS Radio Mystery Theatre adaption of The Prisoner Of Zenda, commercial radio drama, the ads and the news, a news station with an audio drama, how different the United States is today, the metric system, the refugee immigrants from Vietnam, this failed war, we gotta take out people with us, the communists will gettem, a wave of immigration from Europe, The Hounds Of Zaroff aka The Most Dangerous Game, a White Russian count in the Caribbean, a combination of a natural image like the fall, a “long pole”, what the pole is for, they get torches and more gasoline, pure evil, and everybody’s good with it, a Japanese fighter pilot parachuting down over San Francisco bay, The Battle Of Los Angeles, shelling the sky over Hollywood, what would the people do, people falling out of the sky, they’re spies, the cruelty just under the surface, the Comic Code Authority, no impugning police officers, judges, or politicians, built into the programming, a false reality story where everyone is in on it, the kids talk just like the adults, I wanna see one, I wanna get one, reflected glory, if you’re a person who doesn’t feel fear you’re not a person, you gotta listen to me boy, is he’s old enough, you run, you tell the authorities, inside of him he was shown something that shook him to his core, there’s something wrong with you, you go to church, masturbation will put you in hell, I resist, I’m a good person, a transmutation, curious, happy go lucky, he transmutes what he heard about the buggies, he transmutes his fear into hate and then lies about his motivation, human beings favourite hobby, what about the vision, a dying Mars trope, dead spiders lodged in cracks, layer after layer, where have we seen this before, the Vaults from Fallout, The Penultimate Truth, into these bunkers to slowly wither away, give up that industrial way of life, it is not without risk to bring immigrants into your society, but there are rewards too, that distant green sphere, dried out blind husks, be waterspiders, we can’t have them breeding, your civic duty, stab him with a pitchfork, make you doubt the war is a good idea, subversive, scarier, xenophobic, who is doing the programming, shown pictures of them at school, listens to the TV murmuring to itself, television, the TV is programming them, most of them are already rounded up, the warm bright living room, Jimmy imagines what his parents are doing at home, a frigid wind, reading the newspaper, fixing dinner, the friendly yellow homey warmth, the home being a center of warmth and caring, the garage is where you find father things and poles for raking leavers, the neighbourhood, the things up on the roof, the things up in the tree, very powerful, it seems insubstantial, he nails it perfectly, super-talented writer, writing about stuff other people are not interested in, writing about children, Evan’s show on this story, the relationship between children and parents, Stephen King, more optimism in King, corrupted by society, Project Earth, Tony And The Beetles, The Cosmic Puppets, Of Withered Apples, can I go outside and play with my tree?, newspaper x6, when you’re a kid everything is new, delivering newspapers, a needed commodity, gasoline over newspapers, how newspapers work, if you deliver the newspaper late, the generalized value, as opposed to a book, what’s happening now, how to think now, whenever the New York Times puts out a headline that’s ridiculous, get 650,000 people killed, its in the newspaper, how Nineteen Eighty-Four works, we get rid of old newspapers, you wrap fish in newspapers, you wrap newspapers and fish, dried up and useless, the newspaper needs to be burned to prevent archiving, down the memory hole, the last of the buggies, completely forgotten, a horror story, remember that time our ancestors genocided the neanderthal, the megafauna extinctions, mysteriously they disappeared, as we’re carrying around our knife all covered in blood: “I can’t image what happened to them.”

1212 Walnut Street - Philip K. Dick's house when he was 11

Martians Come In Clouds by Philip K. Dick

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The SFFaudio Podcast #591 – READALONG: The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #591 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and David Agranoff talk about The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

Talked about on today’s show:
three terribly scanned issues of Astounding, illustrations, a quick OCR, minor revisions, the introductory material, arguing with his critics and conceding a point, very Aristotelian, Damon Knight, a lot to eviscerate, a terrible book, one of those famous essays, David is forgiving, the good things that it inspired, why Marissa needed to be on this one, Philip K. Dick, Solar Lottery is basically World Of Null-A fanfic, Vulcan’s Hammer, the competent man porn, The Variable Man, The Golden Man, pre-verbal, all instinct, Vogt literally told Dick to write novels, the level of influence, plotting is terrible, Slan, van Vogt’s plotting philosophy: every 900 words plot twist, The Purge, The Hunger Games, Jesse will like this, no law in the opening, who is fit to live on Venus, putting it in communist terms, approaching full communism, full blown Null-A, general semantics, its not as stupid as it sounds, Bertrand Russel version, natural deductive logic, logical positivism, lefty peacenik thinks world’s problem can be solved by understanding sentences, two right wings of the same party, words have power, the word “cat”, pussy, feline, black cat, cursed, witch’s familiar, the power of synonyms, a feature of those things, be gaslit, fall into traps, Alfred Korzybski, mistaken silly ideas, the solution is silly, Olaf Stapledon and group minds, an idea we had to explore, a grift, L. Ron Hubbard’s grift, the aims that the people have behind these systems, not everybody operates on the same level, Robert A. Heinlein is believing this shit, Heinlein is very thoughtful, weird ways of living, to confined in the cultural mean of those around them, Gulf by Robert A. Heinlein, a future fans will be slans argument, Friday, Mr. Twocanes, join those supermen, Heinlein rejecting his own earlier embrace of general semantics, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, notice how it hasn’t taken over everything, Rosicrucians, go to church, he just kills dozens and dozens of people, how language effects your nervous system and decision making process, it knows what its trying to do, that ending, writing to the conclusion, why is this novel so bad, Astounding had a lot of shitty stories, its not that good, it has a status that is large, Dune, The Left Hand Of Darkness, Dune is a really good version of The World Of Null-A, basically yoga of the mind, shitty plot, the first time he’s killed, the equivalent of Star Trek: Picard, more and more churning, a Flash Gordon serial, John W. Campbell, supermen, Anthony Boucher, the corona virus pandemic, WWII, a letter from an SF author in Germany, V-2, rattling, rattle city, the guy is wrong about everything, moving through a liquid at a very high speed, a complete and crazy novel, A.E. van Vogt was Philip K. Dick’s idol, tanks getting piggy-back rides, the best defense, Knight rescinded his criticism, don’t judge it based on novel standards, an experimental novel, an action yarn, why he is, all these dudes really believed in the superman ideology, I don’t know it who I am, it barely has a plot, The Green Odyssey is a good book, an important book that is bad vs. an unimportant book that is good, influencing a slew of things, am I really married to the presidents’ daughter, she keep comings back, its like a dream, Jesse’s dream:

Dreamt I followed loud music, taking a shortcut home from my late night retail job, and found myself at a Carib Zombi takeout shak. Shamblers were everywhere, going in and out. I recognized one employee & ordered the SPECIAL. Another, a real freak, touched me, his corrupted flesh infecting mine. I told him to back off as where he touched me my flesh came away. He laughed and spoke a creole phrase under his fetid breath. I put on my own creole accent and gave him the counter response as he shambled away. More order came, and I took it to go. Spicy takeout.

most stuff shouldn’t be novels, cosmic jerrybuilder, this is what happens in the story, why all these plot twists don’t make any sense, unpuzzling is harder, what a convoluted mess it is, predicting the sequel, hilariously bad plotting, adding to the insanity, the ideas at the heart of it are really interesting, there are some things that have some value, the Promethean attitude about humanity, historicizing and contextualizing mental illness, go-sane, all who don’t practice are insane, structural problems, political problems, Michel Foucault, mental discipline, ulcers, Illness As Metaphor by Susan Sontag, repression causes cancer, HIV = excess and immorality, August 1945, SCIENCE TO COME, ulcers, if I pray for you you’ll get better, psycho-medical therapy, insulin shock therapy, what he does consistently, so common among science fiction writers, Robert J. Sawyer, all bullshit, the race is fairly indestructible but our present culture is finished, not a very Null-A thing to say, opened the realm of wonder, John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum, a fork, a Superman Returns, The Voyage of the Space Beagle, Black Destroyer, Alien (1979), an amnesia, interesting as opposed to shitty, the shitiness supports its thesis, animals don’t time bind, why Picard is shitty, remember how he got over those things, he found his brother in his vineyard and had a good cry, what was the whole thing about the Star Trek universe, being petty about jobs, the subersion we have in Deep Space Nine, labour problems, the only thing that supports Picard being a good show, I think Picard has dementia, why its a Don Quixote style show, all of this shit only makes sense only if its a dementia show, all the stuff that would support, we have a history and a memory, why antisemitism was so strong in Germany, there’s no morality involved in a tiger eating a deer, the least Null-A thing about Null-A, how humans are different from animals, put your hand in the box, testing Paul’s humanity, animal cultural legacies, skills that they can pass along, social ecology, Murray Bookchin, we create communities, we are able to carry on ideas, monogamy, Commando (1985) should be thought of as garbage, being entertained, David highlighted the shit out of Null-A, the most intense evisceration, an attack on literary grounds, at war with dictatorships, The Weapon Shop, his plots do not bear examination, sentences, Philip K. Dick at his worst, Joseph Conrad, two thoughts: like Flash Gordon and therefore it is trash, investigate that, the zig-zaggyness, extreme dissociative events, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, what a book is is what you take it to be, Joe Cinnadella is so fucking interesting because he was an Italian and a Nazi and a truck driver, any reading when citing sources within the text is legit, the way we are like Rick Deckard, oh my fucking god, he’s seeing inside my head, regular junky astounding stuff, Will has terrible taste, this book is stupid and interesting, reviews with star ratings, Sophie Wenzel Ellis’ story, junky pulpy thrown together bits, Lovecraft doesn’t care about markets at all, so market oriented it was not meant to be read after it was published, distracted from his market goal, those dignified realism books that nobody likes, Clark Ashton Smith poetry, what Will likes about it is its a super-science story, read Solar Lottery next, defend Will’s taste, 4 Gosseyns out of 5, a weapon called the vibrator, ridiculous space opera, you have to consider when it was written, Martian Time-Slip, laying in bed reading Null-A, a valid thing to think about, back to mental illness, WWII veterans, a social context to sanity, shell shock, PTSD, war created mental illness, maybe it’s all in the context, The Myth Of Mental Illness by Thomas Szasz, a funnier book, a jarring book, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, corporations corrupting governments, the senator from Coca-Cola, giant chickens, an amazingly interesting book, really funny, Gravy Planet, the military industrial complex is going to make so much money, very Robert Sheckley in comedy terms, societal problems, history is a series of fucking errors, here’s how you’re wrong, why Isaac Newton is interesting, Newton’s Cannon by J. Gregory Keyes, when we get telepathy, his 75-year old man self, they’re thinking the same thoughts, the exact same thought at the exact same time, solving the same problem, when you go into Heinlein, Grok fills a function that isn’t a word we already have, we all grok this book pretty well, water brother let me tell you this is not the best drink available, when he’s trying to convince himself to kill himself, Paul’s issues, the original Gosseyn was Jesus, Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, Alas, All Thinking! by Harry Bates, a historical document, what do you make of the quotes at the beginning of every chapter, chapter 18, “feast upon shadows”, pearls of wisdom, general semantics, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz vs. Isaac Newton, Dianetics is a fork, we randomize it, The Game-Players Of Titan as the stock market and predicting Wall Street as games and tricks, political anarchism, Ursula K. Le Guin, Norman Spinrad, gated community socialism, the Galt’s Gulch planet, The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber, mutual aid, 600 years of games, Vulcan’s Hammer, just looking at the cover, hardcover (legit) vs. paperback (trash), Jesse only likes garbage, the good art and the bad art, commercially available, the smart people say that it’s good, direct to VHS movies from the 1990s, Noah’s Ark with Sodom and Gomorrah scene, Ed Wood, they don’t care they don’t know they don’t give a fuck, Above Suspicion (1995), A Slight Case Of Murder (1999) TV movie, aiming high with no skills, big swings, the economics of Star Trek: Picard, Quentin Tarantino, The Unteleported Man vs. Lies, Inc., this is a good attempt, it did what it wanted to do, be careful what you put into the world, future reprints, a catalyst and an exemplar, pulp science fiction, Robert E. Howard really holds up, surprisingly terrible, Clifford D. Simak, Isaac Asimov, he’s pre-Dick but without the natural gift, John the Baptist, Dick Christ, Mysterious Galaxies in San Diego, there’s a reason he doesn’t need to know about it, if you like out of date sci-fi, showing how general semantics and science fiction are tied together, H.L. Drake, why Heinlein is so interesting, he’s fundamentally right, there’s something to it and its really stupid, nothing’s new under the sun, practicing the art of reading science fiction for decades and decades, all the sound and fury all around us, as part of their identity vs. a fact about their history, being out of the loop by not practicing the art of reading science fiction, anti-bodies against surprised, forseen vs. predicted, plague, thousands of plague stories, Carriers (2009), how the United States is going to be in 9 months, the USG shit the bed, The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner, were just gonna have to let a couple million people go, top 10s, The Naked Sun, The Sphinx by Edgar Allan Poe, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, history is your proof against cycles, terrible dead ends, 277 years ago in where Vancouver is now, Philip K. Dick becomes more and more relevant and A.E. van Vogt becomes less and less relevant, thrash metal, PKD is covering Null-A, the opposite of academia, it is education for podcasters and podcast listeners, Donald A. Wollheim, Evan’s cat’s name is Rusty Cohle, also the Will book, Stanley G. Weinbaum’s Dawn Of Flame, fired no job jobless, we wont need lawyers in our new Null-A society, be more like Saul Goodman.

William Frederick Timmins art for The World Of Null-A on the cover of Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, August 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, September 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

Astounding, October 1945

ACE - D-31 - The World Of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt

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The SFFaudio Podcast #590 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Creatures Of The Light by Sophie Wenzel Ellis

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #590 – Creatures Of The Light by Sophie Wenzel Ellis; read by Kathy Wright. 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, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons

Talked about on today’s show:
Astounding Stories, February 1930, the second issue, the subtitle, slimemold and flivver, super-science, there’s a reason we don’t SUPER-SCIENCE stories, this whole issue is on LibriVox.org, Into Space by Capt. S.P. Meek, here’s some volume for you, a retelling of The First Men In the Moon by H.G. Wells, a one bullshit gimme, not a scientific bone in the actual, bullshit science is everywhere in this story, launch into a defense of this story, an interesting story, a very silly story, intended, she’s kinda silly, between Frankenstein and 2001: A Space Odyssey, an evolutionary destiny to be god-like, can we create a better kind of person through science, the ideology of science, a Fantastic Voyage quality, hey have you read this Science article, a scary looking beautiful man, Antarctica, the fourth dimension, everything this exists, how deranged these experiments are, a crazy romp, it lives on in comics, Superman, Superboy, Superdog, villain mustaches, a good silent movie, a good bad movie, Captain America is a product of super science, one of the first super hero story, so amazing, Francis Stevens invented the superhero in 1904, The Curious Experience Of Thomas Dunbar, Sampson, bitten by a radioactive spider, unique, the fun, very sensuous bodies, lips, splattered with startling features, people are so beautiful they are magnificent scenery, getting into arguments on twitter, attacking Lovecraft for being racist, she fundamentally misunderstands, genetics and evolution, Philip K. Dick’s The Infinities, teleological evolution, racism is tied up with an evolutionary ladder, Evan’s podcasts on H.P. Lovecraft (the sea and forgetting), racism is bullshit, there is no end state, no perfection, humpbacked German scientist, the first creature that crawled out of the sea was a Man, man is going to evolve into God, all life is a part of an experiment, her bursting ideas, the solar powered helicopter, everything turns gray, new scientific ideas that are not really science, if you get a life ray you get a death ray, she’s like Ed Wood, hilarious, earnest, not hard SF, a science fable, the overreach of the German scientist, they’re all chill about it, Adam and Eve at the end, she’s the anti-eve, Lilith, She‘s Ayesha, so funny, somebody’s head has been on this pillow, hey let’s build igloos and live on penguins, yo-yo-y, the Savage Land, a continuation of the Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Andre Norton’s The People Of The Crater, its all there, madcap bursting at the seams with concepts, she’s juggling, a low mileage, life-ray, super-race, solar sphere, telepathic, death-ray, superman, LibriVox, invisible man, time travel, an unconventional form of invisibility, telepathy, the story needs an interlocutor, Ed Wood needs to do the narration, this perfect black age woman, she had the good genes, keeping his disability, hilarious and amusing, like a kitten being angry at you, Beggars In Spain by Nancy Kress is an evil book, a new race of people who are superior to you, they’re eugenically more pure, none of the defects that we have, only for the richies, the liberal elites vs the basket of deplorables, Plan 9 From Outer Space is not a good plan for the space program, this is 1930s, what sexual selection is for, modern science is permitting the unfit to live, she doesn’t even get Paradise Lost, its 9 hours, comedic on purpose, a story with a happy ending in marriage, The Tempest has the greatest fart jokes on the planet, a slef concisncous commediane , Heard In A Grocery, The White Wizard, her letter to Weird Tales, the happiest days of the month for me, The Woman Of The Wood by A. Merritt, The Moon Bog, The Outsider, The Dreamer of Atlânaat by E. Hoffmann Price, Dwellers In The House, White Lady, a hunch nose, he smells bad, an Arabic scholar judge, it goes without saying, courting the judge’s daughter, personality change, its a Lovecraft ripoff, split people into multiple bodies, a happy ending, burn down the house that all the book were in, chaste and tortured romance, they don’t have houses, our whole lifestyle, we’re locked up in our houses, you need a gym membership, more logical, that’s crazy, a role playing game plot, Spirit Of The Century, E.E. “Doc” Smith, “they’ve adapted”, “only human ingenuity”, technobabble heavy Star Trek: The Next Generation, Will’s definition for super-science: science is part of modern mythology, the mythological power of science, fantastic and godlike things, The Flash, magic with science as the explanation, an ideological component, GURPS,

‘“Superscience” technologies violate physical laws – relativity, conservation of energy, etc. – as we currently understand them. (…) By definition, it is impossible to set a firm TL for superscience – we might discover faster-than-light travel tomorrow, a thousand years from now, or never. Equipment TLs are always debatable, but superscience TLs are arbitrary.

The Super-Friends wiki,

Super-Science is a term that refers to any type of science that is considered beyond that of the normal mainstream science. The Raven was a super-scientist, but his experiments were considered unethical.

a great episode, erasing the Super-Friends from the timeline, The Boys From Brazil, Teen Titans, Nazis are a combination of throwbacks to medievalism and super-science, In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Eagles or Legions, 2,000 year old consequences, they’re their own people, a moral screed against Romans by Romans, German psychology of the 20th century before and after WWII, the chances of finding a couple Germans hiking in the mountains of British Columbia, blue eyed and yellow haired, he’s got the WILL!, the classification system, novel and cute hunchback, she would get destroyed if she was used in a touchstone, a womanthology, forgotten, wrong about everything, not a single correct move in any scene, the right guy, he’s a dilettante who doesn’t have a job because he has good genes, what about Mary?, she’s not beautiful so we don’t care, Friedrich Engels’s common-law wife, what’s going on psychological here?, dude, it’s so obvious, interested in girl stuff, this handsome handsome man, a middle-class housewife, totally fun to hang out with, disabuse her of her eugenics beliefs, almost everybody was ideologically deranged, H.G. Wells’ The Country Of The Blind, a lost world story, different kinds of assholes, H.G. Wells assholes vs. H.P. Lovecraft assholes, Æpyornis Island, that’s my ride, this æpyornis comes out, taking on Will’s mannerisms, …the one eyed man is king, sight (which is not a thing), these two growths in the front of your face, a scientific story, sickle cell anemia and malaria, its a mistake, Huntington’s disease seems to be bad, way to sophisticated for Sophie Wenzel Ellis, one thing everyone sort of got wrong, “survival of the fittest”, social Darwinism, there is no path that we’re on that is going towards a destiny, you don’t need breeding if you have a life-ray, confronted in the raw, Jesse went to university for 16 years, cloning, Kate Wilhelm’s Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, cloning doesn’t make any sense on a large scale because of , Hitler’s clone army, monocultures are terrible, what genetic diversity is for, this problem with bananas, sexual selection is about diversity, stupid but fun, emerald ash borers, tree farming, economically too, no ventilators, British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve, you’re setting yourself off for a massive die-off, trying to diversify, riding the wave, stuff is complex, complex is hard to explain, its a bush not a ladder, seed pods, Paul is right again, an alternative to this story, eugenics and race stuff, Milo Hastings’ City Of Endless Night, all coincidence and fortuitousness, a pandemic and a plague and we’re all gonna die, how come he can fly, its not the right (or fruitful) critique of this story, it might reinforce your distorted ideas, now that its so silly its mostly harmless, the ubermensch, Superman: Red Sun, a great super-science ending, the story ideologically undermines itself to work as a story, inching himself towards godhood, we’re meant to be gods, horrible people who needed to be destroyed, watching the gods destroy themselves, a viewpoint character, René Girard, distracted boyfriend meme, Where No Man Has Gone Before, very super-sciency-stupid, but what does it mean?, this is inevitable, you can not rush it otherwise you will get monsters, Babylon 5, supercharged psi-guy, I’ll see you again in a million years, down the tubes, supercharged by Vorlons, another Star Trek: Voyager episode, when Paris goes to super-warp and becomes a lizard, retconing conversations with your mother, when Larry David was a writer on Saturday Night Live, pretended it never happened, George Costanza quits his job, that’s gaslighting so don’t do that, this really terrible Star Trek episode, another really annoying novel by Kurt Vonnegut (Galapagos), Margaret Atwood, humans as sea-lions flopping around on the beach, when Olaf Stapledon does it it’s cool, Will thinks seal people are a good idea, push straight through, a silly silly book, Maissa defends Kurt Vonnegut 100%, feted in a way that Jesse doesn’t think is reasonable, when Jesse watches an Ed Wood movie, he is dead, we must honour him by never talking about him again, day six I got displaced from time, I ran myself to my destruction, my humpbacked’s father: Jesse, Harrison Bergeron, The Marching Morons.

Heard In A Grocery by Sophie Wenzel Ellis

Creatures Of The Light by Sophie Wenzel Ellis - Astounding, February 1930

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The SFFaudio Podcast #576 – READALONG: The Many-Colored Land by Julian May

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #576 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Evan Lampe about The Many-Colored Land by Julian May

Talked about on today’s show:
an unsolicited Patreon plug, now you know, now Jesse is beholden to Paul, special members only episodes, The Many Colored Land, the Patreon, Jesse doesn’t want to reward anybody for anythings, take suggestions from Patrons, Office Hours, Evan’s office hours, Evan’s decline is an ascension, Jesse’s university career, ideas throwin’ down, door open, Discord, Paul derailed us, why did Jesse agree to it?, by spoiling he interested, Luke Burrage’s review, Jesse wrote about Julian May in 2012, leaving science fiction, a young published author and then a thirty year gap, The Dune Roller, Tales Of Tomorrow, The Cremators (1972), pretty sure this book is written by a girl, really weird, not a good book for a lot of the book, what this book is, SUPER-AMBITIOUS and kinda-almost pulls it off, a great mind, did it come out of gaming?, a role-playing game style writing, this book has everything in it, a potpourri, an encyclopedia, if she was a really good writer this could be on the scale of Tolkien, tell me one thing this book doesn’t do, time travel, space aliens, telepathy, elves, portals, megafauna, magic, clerics, fighters, Sarban, the wild hunt, way too much, bursting with ideas, I can explain everything, nine more books, Jack the Bodiliess, will-o’-the-wisp, Mr Jim Moon’s Hypnogoria podcast, Jim Moon is a treasure for our time, this great research, fulfilling bits of history, the Mediterranean basin is empty, filling the basin, Down In The Bottomlands by Harry Turtledove, she’s doing everything, she made a dress for a convention and then tried to figure out who would have worn it, people making costumes of future people, a book about Robert E. Howard’s geography of Gazetteer of the Hyborian Age, Europe from 10,000 years, a dragon in Red Nails, wizardry, NO BUT WITH SCIENCE, she tries to rationalize it, a map of genre, issues, what genre is this book supossed to be?, pseudo-science fiction, psionics as magic, origin of the Celtic mythology, the Pliocene Companion, as soon as the torc was introduced, it has ODIN in it, Aiken Drum, the science fiction mindset, WOW, AMAZING!, if this book was written today…, she coulda tightened this up, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, the psychic interrogations, that’s insane, an introduction, 1981, that’s impossible, all the character classes, it feels ten years later, her pseudonym list is all male, as J.C. May, Weird Tales, C.L. Moore, he was a dude using a female pseudonym, genre expectations, a lot like Ringworld and Dream Park, really interested in gender, women’s sexuality and reproduction, Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, Pamela Sargent, its in the air, the birth control pill changes everything, she goes there, the setup, that wasn’t the book I signed up for, that’s what they thought too, pre-caveman, prehistoric adventures, fighting off smilodons, the galactic milieu, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, more motley, a blank slate, the baggage of human history, the prologue, the utopian aspect, a conservative element, something (not quite) reactionary, ethnic enclave planets, Transmetropolitan, what kind of society will these misfits create, the DM says “Haha! Switched ya!”, this has random encounters, very much like Riverworld, famous characters, the big dumb object here is Earth, rejuvenation, psychic vampires, the psychic shit, this shit from Astounding, it was totally bullshit, they thought it might be real, parapsychology, Ghostbusters is the last gasp of it being a phenomena, they’re discontinuing his research is because its bunk, a guy who used to work in remote viewing, no need for satellites, a guy in a room in Langley and we bring him a sandwich, they didn’t know it was discredited in the 50s, a news story, coffee is bad for you, this back and forth, clearly phlogiston, you idiots it was oxygen the whole time, the plate tectonics theory, what he didn’t have was the data to back it up, nobody mentions plate tectonics, how much geology, this gate can only be here, The Last God, the map in the back, have you ever seen a river?, they don’t know what they’re doing, she’s doing everything, too ambitious, it explains everything, wouldn’t it be cool if…, hello fairy, people living in caves full of uranium, change your lifestyle in order to not be mutants, these are goblins, not just Tolkien goblins but also Goblin Market by Christian Rossetti, goblins, tempting with a plate full of fruit, be a brood mare for her reproduction, Julian May is a vast reader and she wants to include it and explain it all and it mostly works, this book is not for me, a GURPS version, lift large, designed for role-playing, character creation, their stats are amplified by their torq, LARPing, L. Sprague De Camp, the Society For Creative Anachronism, Planescape and Dark Sun, Space: 1889, Spelljammer, so grounded in geology, of its time, she’s reading science fiction, its not outsider science fiction, woolly mammoths and then we’re done, she revels in it, the giant sloth gets left all by its lonesome, Evan was into the cenozoic, Jesse was a silurian man, when people think about ancient life on earth, trilobite, I love me some ferns, yo, giant sloth tunnels, untooled scratches, living in them for centuries, that’s the excitement of science fiction, the size of the universe, if this isn’t something you think about everyday poor you, this is FUNDAMENTAL to…, no, dude you can’t believe how big the universe…, poor donkey, in sympathy with the animal, the great unconformity, a plot with an empire that needs to be overthrown, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Mound, a whole civilization under the earth, Lovecraft’s utopia, I signed up for a ghost that haunts a tomb, ten thousand times bigger, she doesn’t leave any room for anything else, there are no traditions that didn’t start with this (in Europe), what is luck?, what if you have a culture based on fear?, five or six major themes, at least twenty things she’s dealing with and trying to think about, the juggling’s pretty good, Tolkien loves the forest but he doesn’t invent whole new trees, “operant”, oh god this is just technobabble, initiative has a whole set of connotations if your not a RPGs, a republican talking point, para-psychological powers, a ticking clock, big fights at the ends of books and movies, still pretty good, a wonderful stew, its 16 hours, Neal Stephenson, Dune Roller, a gothic setup, a tonne of pent up ideas, it came out in a huge geological sized flood, going through the Black Forest, all the different mushrooms, Hansel and Gretel time, very Bros. Grimm, go to Doggerland, Albion, and what would be France, the power, misfits with different weapons and armor, their murder hobos, player characters, he can’t be socialized, euthanasia or life imprisonment or exile, a slave-society, the core element, why does she go with grey?, Plato’s Republic, bronze, Plato is the original racist, the cops, the golden dude are philosophers, the TV series Spartacus, guidebooks on how to manage your slaves, reading so much Stephen King, adaptations of Carrie, in the aftermath, we gotta control women, after Roe vs. Wade, psychic powers, Firestarter, King never dropped that theme: the desire of states to control the exceptional, The Running Man, comprehensive lengths, the antecedents of everything, the book cover, she thought they were cool, what if…, six million year gap, aboriginal Australia, a hugely rich history, many more different kinds of mythological systems, in comparison, New Guinea, geographical vs. geological, it worked itself out, silly explanations, a one way time machine, questions back and answers back, lockboxes, what colour are woolly mammoth tusks?, a whole amber explanation, the plot doesn’t allow it, Halloween and May Day, reverses, like a role playing game, a cleric who can heal people, a paladin, a hunter, a pirate, a thief, this is what I do, yo, Will Emmons’ question, Neuromancer as a first science fiction book,

since you asked…

I say that DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP is not anything like “hard SF”

and neither, really, is FOUNDATION

FOUNDATION is interesting (and foundational) but not great

ANDROIDS *is* great and one shld probably be a connoisseur of SF before reading it

really hard question, I usually like to think of SF as something you read from earlier to later – give a sample size of TWO books liked – and TWO disliked – that said, and even with @PrinceJvstin worries in mind

…I would still recommend HEINLEIN – he’s not HARD SF, and he really is SF – HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL is a good starter book

if you don’t like HEINLEIN I think you don’t really like SF – he was made of SF

dont start with any random Heinlein tho – BIG MISTAKE

MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS

and

STARSHIP TROOPERS

are good choices – will make you argue with HEINLEIN which is what a lot of later writers are doing in their books, arguing with HEINLEIN :)

YES, and i would say in that order, but put another book as palate cleanser in between

there’s a whole series of books that are connected to STARSHIP TROOPERS – ENDER’S GAME, ARMOR and going backwards to KIPLING’S poem M.I.

my point is…, going down a hole, a callback to science fiction, hollow earth, people having sex in Stromboli, a very famous science fiction novel by Jules Verne: Journey To The Center Of The Earth, Iceland, a little sex scene, this is all her, there is almost no visual SF at this point, working on a masters degree, very rich, let’s do a 16 hour book, dense even though it doesn’t feel that dense, not just more Tolkien, science fiction-ish, science fiction tropes, pseudo-scientific explanations, the crown, a magic system, H.G. Wells’ Floor Games, wargaming, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, in role playing time you build role playing games, Jesse’s repeating because Julian was repeating herself.

Map of Northwestern Europe during the Pliocine epoch

Posted by Jesse Willis

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