The SFFaudio Podcast #543 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Defenders by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #543 – The Defenders by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Marissa Vu, Evan Lampe and Terence Blake

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, January 1953, self-submitted, H.L. Gold, Ed Emshwiller, 100 Pages Of At A Time episode 6 of the Philip K. Dick book club, The Penultimate Truth, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, Deus Irae, different themes, the only idea that survives, different argument, a purity to The Defenders, a fable, monologues from robots, normalized, sitting with the idea, watching a short film (or television episode) vs. a film, participating in a different way, he’s retelling Plato’s The Myth Of The Cave, dwelling, a fundamental point, page 12, Taylor nodded, the peep slot, a world where no life could exist, bullshit, the story doesn’t fit, what Taylor is thinking, under the delusion, that’s fake, camouflage, still eating the blue pill, the red pill, the most famous modern reworking of Plato’s cave: The Matrix (1999), Philip K. Dick’s omniscient narration is complicit, how newspapers work, I don’t think that’s true, truth bombs, fake news, in its pure state, a slot in a lead wall, Russians pasted in Moscow, that’s CNN, the newspaper, and its all fake, epistemology, externalizing the internal, initial thoughts, the media, Dick’s first comment on the media, why they seem so different, it’s humans who use these leadies as serfs, exploiting those on the bottom, assholes or not, smashing human nature to get to some kind of utopia, humans exploiting humans, seeing The Penultimate Truth as a sequel to The Defenders, those on the outside are exploiting those on the inside, a mature and sophisticated version of Isaac Asimov’s robots, loopholes, caretakers for mankind’s spaces while they get their shitty ideas out of their heads, Philip K. Dick grew up during WWII, how this story starts off, reading the newspaper, homeopapes, everything’s getting shittier, the quality of the paper goes down, happy to get any paper, you can’t complain, a delight and a reminder, a conflict within Taylor, pro pro-war, the public persona, otherwise you’re a traitor, the radio drama adaptation differences, forbidden romance, there’s no daughter, there’s a wife, the role of the wife, the a-level robot, Mary is more evolved, us against them, the next step up before universal solidarity, how Dick’s wives appear in these stories, a minor antagonist to the main character, Misadjustment, she seems to get in the way, an annoyance, feeding back to Dick’s relationships, you shouldn’t be so bitter, once you go up there, he was shocked, at the breakfast table with his newspaper and his coffee, this whole thing is fake, if you go out to that shack…, god! it’s true!, you’re going to lose your mind, don’t believe the robots, the robots are under a delusion about humanity, fatigue and disinterest, a utopia as a homogenous culture, identical laws, one ID card for every America, a steady state, if everything is Microsoft, war is better than one user log-in, Asimov’s psychohistory, the robots have humanity wrong, a telling of Nick Bostrum, AI, the paperclip problem, make people happy = take control of our minds (horribly), perverse interpretation, Elon Musk’s fear of AI, AI’s not the boogeyman, one of the Scooby Doo gang, logic tree, that’s no thing to fear, I Am Mother (2019), decanting zygotes, regular skeptical Jesse, 15,000 days later, this is not the first kid, sometimes they just don’t care about shit like that, can liquid nitrogen make glass more brittle?, if you’re paying attention to the details of a story…, humans are so fucking stupid, failing ethical exams, the Russian fox experiment, Moon (2009), low budget science fiction good stuff, Philip K. Dick is wrong, they can lie but they can’t kill, the Asimov defect, weakening the second law, ruthlessness, the long-winded a-level robot, to order the lives of human beings, stories are three levels (vs. adaptations as two levels), a virtual reality game, illusion vs. the truth, not-a, working out what it would mean if you say this…, the three laws are laws for people, what is an order?, an urgent request, guides for moral behavior, lying as more acceptable than killing, they’re whole interactions are one big lie, all the little lies, their ends justify the means, when you change who it is and what they’re relationship is to others you see a change in the meanings of the words, four Russian soldiers, bender-pistols, slem-gun, all men, some more humans hatch out, their wormholes, in the radio drama, can we get married and have babies?, repopulating the Earth, her enemy, not Russians (Asians), a female as the lead changes the tone, its about reproduction, what motherhood means, sometimes she’s scary and sometimes she kind, a nod to Blade Runner, the dog as a figment of her imagination, the relationship humans have to pets, putting down pets vs. putting down humans, fur-babies, not our servants and not our masters, like Sky-Net but overly motherly, it’s all about power relations, the robots manipulate in a kind of a chess game, interesting stuff, trying to create empathy (or foster it) using anti-empathetic means, a great reversal, do the robots wither away?, keep a watch out?, eight years, faking the news, they become slaves again, The Zap Gun aka Project Plowshare, straight out of the newspapers, we need to take the weapons of war and turn them into the tools of peace, materiel, DC-4s as civilian transport aircraft, letting the humans become exhausted, something to this, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Supernova In The East, there was no stopping the Japanese empire, cultural zeal for expansion, a feudal society to an industrial power, all throughout the bureaucracy, how much terror and horror happened in WWII, within Japan, getting weary, let’s tire of this war, Afghanistan’s war doesn’t tire, Taylor is starting to feel it, he’s a writer in the novel, the rhetorizer, a new artioforg liver, the Yance-man, such a great Cold War story, its all in the open in The Zap Gun, the chosen consumer, a brilliant way, magazines about weapons, obsessed with war, a gun nut, all the needs are being met (all without war), Steen cares about this sort of stuff, the cost of F-35s is always going up, F-16s, F-18s, F-14s, f-15, $89.2 million each, the history of firearms, the M-16 vs. the AK-47, doing it out in the open, the M-1 Abrams tanks, there hasn’t been a tank battle since Iraq War I, A-10s, its all done out in the open, people don’t care, how much you exhaust in war production, how far the British Empire fell after WWII, they gave away the whole empire on a point of pride, British rationing (until 1956 not the 1960s), the 1990s Outer Limits episodes, robots with a utopian vision, a reactionary coup, the robot will fill in for you, replacing the father, reimposing the patriarchal family, Sales Pitch, tehcnology changes the attitudes of people, now we can go to space again, obsessed with the frontier as an escape, a reactionary agenda, Family Values, =lull=, annoying Evan, just to displease you, the pink light is the leady without radioactivity, discovering the beautiful world of love and empathy, the VALIS experience, a literal incarnation, our world is fake, the danger of a new dogmatic illusion, the commander, just an observer, breaking through the veil, until there’s a rooster crowing, Franks, explaining what the Soviet Union was, page 8, ascending out of the Tom Mix vault, Moss nodded, the stage trap, the idea of a stage, all the world’s a stage for them, those city videos, all the reports, all the samples, reverse Westworld, playing along, the horrible world, workers were everywhere, the labor corps, slaves, build V-2 rockets, what’s life like for regular folk in this world?, the stage was deafening with noise, rock and lead, lead and rock, a description of what’s going on on the surface of the Earth, what it’s like in the North Pacific right now, a lethal desert of slag, the red sun, something metallic stirred, constructed with feverish haste, the hellscape we get in Second Variety, the mine, the claws, the hellscape of The Terminator future, infiltrators covered with real human flesh!, all fake, a lot of interesting play, afraid of the stages, scary, our own minds looking out at the universe from our own senses, page 10, indirect evidence, a smell-o-printer, a VR one, blasting heat at your face, simulation, I don’t see reality as it is…, proprioception, our world in reality, the homunculus issue, Men In Black, sweeping all the problems into that little man, the leadies as senses, let’s test that idea again, we’re being lied to about reality, deep down its a really interesting science fiction, science, epistemology story, where are the c-class leadies?, taking care of the water-mains, their in the narrative rooms, how they make mistakes in the propaganda, forgetting to bathe the representatives in radioactives, making apologies, trying to protect the humans, the truncated first law.

Galaxy, January 1953 - Illustrated by Ed Emshwiller

Italian cover mirroring The Defenders

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #363 – READALONG: The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #363 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein.

Talked about on today’s show:
1951, the really annoying way Heinlein does things, Paul’s main Heinlein phase (in the late 1980s), when Paul was ten, Time Enough For Love, Expanded Universe, the basic parts of a Heinlein novel (in terms of characters), the Heinleinian triad, the young talented protagonist, the older wise crotchety man, and the red headed woman character, who The Man In The High Castle was, when Dick writes a novel…, when Heinlein writes a novel…, methamphetamine is 100% non-habit forming (?!), Jesse is uncomfortable with surety, Heinlein exudes surety from every pore of his body, orbital mechanics, what women want, Bruce Jenner’s gender switch, Heinlein’s politics, black people, women should be raised up in society, homophobia, Mary’s super-power is gaydar, homosexuality, asexuality, marriage, men and women are identical, “of course husband”, the alien is the husband, the structure, the final chapter, in case the mission to Titan fails, message in a bottle storytelling, first person perspective, surety undercuts it, has Dick ever written in first person?, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Hanging Stranger, identical paranoia, how much he hates the Soviets, Heinlein was rabidly anti-communist, in the commissar’s office, WorldCon, God help us all, he was right but…, imagine if this novel is a metaphor for communism, the Second Red Scare, Soviet and Chinese communism, WWWII, Manhattan crater and Washington crater, projecting brawn, getting tanks to North America, the evil of the puppet master aliens, orgies on TV is bad, also gladiatorial combat, they kill cats!, no effect on Soviet Russia, hygiene, scabies and lice, parasitism, cranked up to 13, Saddam Hussein, U.S. politics, if it were re-written today…, core fears, 24 was that, looking at the structure, avenging the cats and dogs, a master of the craft, Luke Burrage, that is good writing, so different from Philip K. Dick’s books, a straight line vs. how did I get here, all the sins that Time Enough For Love, naked people standing around in cushioned apartments talking about legal matters regarding the decanting of babies while a cat walks into the room, get passed the cat, Pirate the cat, casual nudity, Eric S. Rabkin, making it absolutely necessary that the society go nudist (and never go back), Hyperpilosity by L. Sprague de Camp, combs, even in Heinlein’s kids books, in their dome homes the heat is cranked up, was Heinlein a nudist?, Hollywood, downhill after The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, I Will Fear No Evil, an old white guy living in the body of a young black woman, the US Navy, hate and love for the military, this weird guy from Missouri writes his consciousness into his books, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Friday, rape, when Heinlein talks about rape…, an artificial person, an inferiority complex, a fascinating society, the movie of The Puppet Masters, the fun stuff, the cat, the alien was kissing, being devoured by a woman, Eric Thal opens his mouth whenever possible, Sam, Mary, why does everyone hate this movie so much, Donald Sutherland, Keith David is always fun, unlike every X-Files this was competent, yeah look it’s a fake, the slugs are really smart, were they smart?, the sequence where Sam first gets a slug on his back is one of the best bits of Science Fiction, its almost as if he doesn’t know, more insidious and more scary, tying it all together, helicopter vs. skycar, Heinlein loves incest, they do juice you up, the addiction metaphor, had Dick developed it…, an Olympic athlete, what’s undercooked, who is in charge of their own minds, choices under some conditions but not under others, if we all had slugs on our backs…, getting married to Mary, love of a good woman ends addiction, black and white, Joe Cinidella is actually Italian until he becomes a Nazi, a flipped switch, turning on the waterworks, operating as a slug, Glory Road, set in fairlyand, Nebraska, all about the contract, an ambivalent relationship with marriage and law, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, alpha husbands and beta wives, primae noctis, you get into their psychology, really weird people, WWII and methamphetamines, go pills, tempus fugit, chasing the cat, is Heinlein challenging us?, Star Trek: Operation: Annihilate (aka Planet of the Pancakes), Maissa Bessada, resetting the show at the end of the episode, another point of Vulcan physiology, Kirk’s brother is named “Sam”, Mary is the vessel for world piece, Heinlein sued the makers of The Brain Eaters, Star Trek: The Next Generation, there’s no money until the Ferengi show up, Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy of the post scarcity economy, maybe women did act that way in the 1950s, a sequel in which Mary is saved from her marriage, 1980s tropes, sex scenes, Mission Impossible movies, developing out of taboos, the PG-13 effect, “they’re boffing, ok”, Alien, giant penis monster, Aliens, James Cameron’s problems with Harlan Ellison and The Terminator, The Outer Limits, The Brain Eaters, lifting things out of literary SF, Avatar is very good lifting, redoes the the first movie and the first, Luc Besson, The Professional, adding a baby doesn’t make things better, Ellen Ripley, the corporate military mission, Newt (from Aliens) is Mary (from The Puppet Masters), garbage bunk vs. good orbital mechanics, feral child, the structure is the same, spacesuit -> fighting suit, ejecting from the ship -> ejecting from the planet, a powerful story, Alien 3, Paul fulminates, the nine day fever (Venusian Jungle Fever), encephalitis, The Puppet Masters is a retelling of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds, here’s how I would do it, H.G. Wells was a cynical asshole, monstrous, liars, jerks, and racists, our CIA operatives know what they’re doing, the NSA, “you just killed a guy for no reason”, it isn’t uncaring wisdom that save humanity it’s man’s ingenuity, root em out and kill em all, it’s the end of Starship Troopers, the Elves of Titan, Independence Day aliens, Welcome to Earth scene, Have Space Suit, Will Travel, Willy Wonka-style, a space alien cop (the Mother Thing), “who lives like that?”, if Heinlein had had a kid, the serial was slightly rewritten by Horace Gold, the unexpurgated version, 1980s movie style, a hook-up with an anonymous blonde from a bar, the trope for James Bond, Virginia Heinlein, Stranger In A Strange Land, it is not better, weird names, Biblical names, Mary’s real name, Sam’s real name is Elihu, in the Book of Job, Elihu’s big speech

Elihu states that suffering may be decreed for the righteous as a protection against greater sin, for moral betterment and warning, and to elicit greater trust and dependence on a merciful, compassionate God in the midst of adversity.

putting us on the right path, x is so bad that we have to put all our trust in…., our precious bodily fluids, if Heinlein were alive today…, Ray Bradbury, the NSA, anarchism, Mary’s backstory, the Whitmanites, an explicit mention of the Doukhobors, Heinlein just likes nudity, Heinlein likes his women to older or a lot younger, physically young but actually older, a young secretary with an old man’s brain, The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, lots of surgeries or whatever, shrugging it off, a different experience than back in the day, you must read ancient authors, for another podcast, you don’t know SFF if you don’t read…, shame at not reading The War Of The Worlds, can you find Heinlein books at new bookstores?, Alfred Bester is great but he wrote two books, genre defining or pioneering, well-written idea SF, almost no science, a bit of politics, marriage, you don’t know SFF if you havent read a Heinlein novel, a long discussion for another time.

The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
Galaxy - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein - illustration by Don Sibley
PAN Science Fiction - The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein
The Puppet Masters - MOVIE
The Puppet Masters - Illustration by Barclay Shaw

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #339 – READALONG: Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #339 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about Vulcan’s Hammer by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1960 novel, 1956 novella, the Goddreads reviews, Reddit, re-listening, very visual, John Mcclane at the end of Die Hard, conference room scenes, vague characters, awesome ideas, three Philip K. Dick stories that could have inspired The Terminator movies, no time travel, Doctor Futurity, Skynet, the drones (the hammers), UAV style drones vs. terminators, drone technology, there were drones in WWII, remote controlled bombers [ex. Operation Aphrodite], almost nothing “invented in SF” was actually invented in SF, infiltrators, Jesse has become a Terminator geek, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Screamers (adapted from Second Variety by Philip K. Dick), two battling computers, humans as pawns, both computers are in the same building!, proxies, the Internet is missing, Vulcan 3 is building the Internet, Skynet’s drones, Skynet doesn’t have central control, when Vulcan 3 is controlled, Vulcan 3 as a baby, creepy, at the periphery of the plot, the education sub-theme, a little red headed girl, being raised by a terminator, such a fanny show, the movies are recycling scene and catchphrases, at the school, a non-conformist school, Philip K. Dick’s kid is in school, regular school crushes creativity, meritocracy, nepotism, an unfinished thought, cronyism, technocratic government, getting through by hard work, was he an A.I. controlled by Vulcan 3, “hey the system works!”, sociological ideas, how un-Dickian this novel is, a relatively straightforward mystery, no weird obsessions (like with infidelity), the obligatory black haired girl, the president of the world comes into the world takes a little girl out of school and takes her home?, WTF?, the teacher’s okay with this?, the classroom, the concentration camp in Atlanta is a psychology camp, the conformist world in A Wrinkle In Time, Marissa learns Science Fiction, a planet of complete conformism, “you let them play an unstructured game?”, stifling of independent thought and creativity, why was the teacher killed?, reading Lolita, secretly reading forbidden books, is Philip K. Dick improving the books when he re-writes them (consensus is NO), two cults, a cult of reason and rationality, why is that rebellion group called the “Healers”, like alternative medicine, the worship of the computer, Greys, blue collars against the white collars, “we shouldn’t undervalue people just because their skills are in their hands and in their fingers”, vaxxers vs. the anti-vaxxers, back to Dr. Futurity, Vulcan 2 in the novella, piecing Vulcan 2 back together like a damaged hard-drive, the data is recovered aurally, listening to the broken thoughts of Vulcan 2, not just white noise in between the broken sentences, a groaning of ghosts, psychology, weird and interesting, absolutely NOT what anyone else does in Science Fiction, the Butlerian Jihad, because… Skynet, nobody says actually technology is really quite useful, 43% of the Earth’s resources?, the paragraph, maintaining the computer, the “lesser order of human needs”, some sort of metaphor 43 percent of calories go to the brain?, a biological parallel, making the decisions, making the policy, a subtle allusion to Plato, the greys the technician class are “guardians”, denying a brain data (big mistake), The Just City by Jo Walton, Athena sets up Plato’s Republic, automatons for physical labour, seeing the connections, The Republic, Socrates, like the old Atlanteans, the Gold the Silver and the Bronze (ditch diggers and truck drivers), the Silver (the police, functionaries, tax-collectors), the Gold (the enlightened, the philosophers), Vulcan 3 is the Gold, the T-class (experts and specialists), these books are all being suppressed (due to copyright), a pretty good title, Hammer shaped robots?, Vulcan (aka Hephaestus), the ancient Greeks and Romans, Hephaestus built a robot for Athena, the Greeks were really into automata, metal beings, the Talos of Crete, Vulcan as the wizard of metal, a Philip K. Dick conference lecture, when the Greeks thought of gods they thought of A.I. (sort of), these atoms over here have desires, intelligence in non-living things, a little bit under cooked, what about Vulcan 1?, or does it?, maybe Vulcan 1 is hiding, in a degenerate state, Deus Irae and The Last C., tactical nukes, a lot of weakness but it makes up for it, a bit of paranoia, that’s usually what causes the problem, self-preservation, when Saddam Hussein is threatened, the emotional computer, pleading only as a human could do, “We can come to an arrangement!”, shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2001: A Space Odyssey is a microcosmic version of Vulcan’s Hammer, several Star Trek episodes, The Ultimate Computer, Star Trek as a metaphor for American foreign policy, The Apple, they kill the computer that regulates their society, they killed the snake but…, vegetarians are now hunting, put some controls on this, as a metaphor for society, a rebellion against pain in the body, the mind as the government, living in a post-WWIII world, WarGames, the Russians had a battle computer called “The Dead Hand“, a dead-man’s trigger, WWIII was looming in 1956 and 1960, so good even though its not that good, Dick loves blue collar workers, Father Fields, making something out of the air-conditioner, a dropped thread, a completely weird metaphor, The Borderlands series, Scooter, a technopath, The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, “he fixed things”, a great tagline, “I don’t got Philip K. Dick for action”, living in a disposable society, everything is disposable, is there a TV-repair shop left in North America?, modern cars, only 5.5 hours, zoning out, cool predictions, the paranoid artificial intelligence, Sam Harris and Joe Rogan, caging an A.I., setting up honey-traps, Jesse thinks that’s not going to be the issue, Neuromancer all A.I.’s have digital shotguns strapped to their heads, “the smartest man in the world”, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, worries, better as a metaphor than as a prediction, we shouldn’t be unconcerned, Colossus: The Forbin Project, it isn’t 1s and 0s on a screen, seeing inside a burned diary, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, Mike the computer (aka Mycroft Homles), what’s missing from Vulcan’s 3‘s life is a friend, kids want to know, I think you guys are liars if…, kids are going to get into everything and that’s not a bad thing, more information is better, Vulcan 2’s decision, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, you are totally welcome to prosper if you are willing and able to play a certain kind of game, the push-back is caused by the masses rejecting stability, the adventurer class, “more concerned with gain than with stability”, the phrases: “life is cheap”, big gambles, the Netflix series Narcos, communist guerrillas living in the jungle, if you are living in a corrupt society you get a lot of gamblers, the striking opening scene, “can’t you get a better picture?”, they all wear the uniform of their class, another theme, destroying stability, going back to entropy, it is kind of Philip K. Dickian after-all, undercooked or maybe overcooked, the same with Time Pawn, this is my worst book, Dean Koontz’s 1973 novel of Demon Seed has a rapey robot computer, with the rewrite of Demon Seed Koontz has mellowed out, writing for the market, even after his death, Puttering About In A Small World by Philip K. Dick, everything’s always better with a robot wife.

Future Science Fiction No. 29 (1956). Cover Art by Frank Kelly Freas
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art
Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick interior art

Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick - FRENCH

ACE - Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick

Vulcan's Hammer by Philip K. Dick - German

Vulcan's Hammer - preliminary art D-457

Posted by Jesse Willis