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 #628 – READALONG: Rage by Stephen King

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #628 – Jesse and Evan Lampe talk about Rage by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)

Talked about on today’s show:
Richard Bachman, Getting It On, not what I thought it would be, a school shooter book, only two people, a lot less group therapy, The Breakfast Club where the teacher gets shot, Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick, working his real life problems, psychologically traumatized by growing up, On Writing, Danse Macabre, single mom, he was witness, assuming schools are different today, out of the institution, it is not like it was, way less, psychological bullying, the teachers are the prison guards, you don’t squeal, it really is a prison, obsessed with bullying, It, the whole town is kind of sick, Carrie, seems kind of unrealistic, pervasive evil, neutral or brutal, The Long Walk, Roadwork, The Running Man, Thinner, The Regulators, parallel to Desperation, Blaze, one of his more Philip K. Dickian novels, an official photo of Richard Bachman, Richard Stark and Donald Westlake, everything comes out like Bach, The Dark Half, Thad Beaumont, told the father, comic crime, a Navy or Marine recruiter, a helluva lot of psychology, a very strange book, why this stuff happens, school shootings make a lot of sense, you can’t leave, if you can’t escape you lash out, the centerpiece of young people’s lives, if you do have rage inside you, projected at your guards and fellow prisoners, the math teacher, the narrator viewpoint character has something wrong with him (and also grievances), how what people say and do haunt people, too grown up?, particularly sophisticated, Stephen King re-reads, this isn’t there anymore, his kids are a little too grown up?, they aged the kids up, magic, things that 11 year olds believe that 14 year olds don’t, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, infantilizing young people, its too late, a lot of truth in this book, so pervasive in the culture, The Shining, the father figure, the genealogy of evil, he’s an alcoholic, mother issues, family issues, cycles of horror, every 28 years, brainwashing her daughter, something King grappled with for decades, written in high school, contemporary references, the math teacher is a monster, he’s being haunted, he doesn’t attack the students, fellow prisoners, prisoners of their nation, prisoners of their community, prisoners of their religion, social stigma of being a slut, backstory, telling ghost stories, takes on the role of teacher, they get it on, getting passed all the bullshit and the horror and secrets that are making their lives miserable, pedagogy, industry standard, what do you think, let’s engage on this, he’s a better teacher, facilitate learning among students, I’m at BU now, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain, raw and short, 211 pages, just over 5 hours in the audiobook, one long walk, The Long Walk, only 100 people do it each year, virtually everyone fills out that form, a physical checkup, to do with the draft, the war, the guy who sells books to the school, his dad’s a creepy fuck, walking from Maine to Boston, there’s no end point, that’s life, a metaphor for life, very dark, it transforms itself rather oddly, why he withdrew the book, shooting up your school, kind of like a play, we learned something here today, another trope of his, seductive leader, Randall Flagg in The Stand, shining is King’s psychic ability, Charlie Decker shines, a very good book, an interesting book, this peculiar institution is ongoing, its global, when Jesse’s tutoring, realizing to them individually, the ability to get inside the kid’s head, building up skills and information, teaching them to ride bikes (with sentences, or analysis), use the magic words, a skill set you’re trying to impart, roll call, escaped for the day, Jesse has had good teachers, forced to be there, why or what was happening, you’re not allowed to skip, game the system, school was punishment, university was completely different, they take an exam at the beginning of the book, all the other kids are dressed down, you idiots, there’s no test, in a more horrible environment, modelling what they’re doing, you can’t do that with a whole classroom full of kids, they don’t know what they don’t know, its impossible, a disaster, 35 kids in a class, 20 is conceivable, some teacher who are capable of great work in the classroom, your attention is so divided, how normal animals work, mom bears eat blackberries, there’s no school for animals, a flock of birds, a herd of sheep, what we’re doing kind of is institutionalizing a thing, artificial parent, sometimes they’re horrible, their litters are to big, more malevolent, your pay determines how valuable you are, Elon Musk must be a genius because he’s so rich, the teacher has the right answer, showing your work, trains us for capital industrial society, obedience, the humanities (are to blame), S.E. Hinton, these are your great writers, these are your national heroes, expanding the hero set as we become more woke, an immigrant culture, 1870s, this twitter thing that happened S.E. Hinton author of The Outsiders, really good reads, reassign what you were assigned, about young kids, a JD novel, apparently alive, my students love your novel, thank you for your beautiful work, they can read a book, graphic novel, she’s a snob, a hierarchy of art, novels aren’t at the top, short stories, novellas, plays, TV movies, podcasts can be pretty amazing, her objection is interesting, make kids not hate school by showing school is totally hateable, empathizing with people of general good character (in poor circumstances), a teacher handing out copies of Rage, self-banned, shooters with this book in their locker, lifting the scales, this institution is super pervasive, half online, Michel Foucault, prison, asylum, institution, to serve modernity, the history of the prison, China, 80 years old, jail, confinement is the punishment, copying the west, public schools are very very new, what are we going to do with them, a fake labour market, what’s an alternative to prisons, tutoring is an alternative, monasteries, apprentices, student loans and free college, the industry needed skilled workers, cobblers or bakers, funded by taxpayers, the bosses don’t pay for it, it has never been the standard, why the university feels so different, exams and attendance, the lecture hall vs. the classroom, you can feel it, truancy officers, hall passes, the school to prison flow, black people in the States, being uppity in school, uppity into school, a feeding system for prison, residential schools were super-evil, away from their parents, their language, physical and sexual abuse, the legacy is not good, you can generationaly heal, Joe Hill, other problems, your society isn’t just your parents, recruitment for the war machine, another institution, professional soldiers and standing armies, clans and border incursions, the legacy of institutions gets deep inside, roots that are hard to see, penetrating layers of psychology, we’re in that forest, cultural interrogation, the asylum, Nurse Ratched, watch it if you want, asylums are the go to place for horror, reform out, group homes and group therapy, the abuses were so horrible, generational desensitization, co-op homeschooled, the default is the parent is a religious nut, overly protective, wonky, hippie, regular parents are desensitized, how crappy school is, just a thing you have to do, all sorts of things to hate about the institution, the only exception is politicians, a badge of honor, I went to a public school, I suffered with all you plebs, Pete Buttigieg, the psychological impact of not going to school, South Park pandemic special, psychological damage for *not* going to school?, watching YouTube videos, there’s a Philip K. Dick novel, The Long Walk was a depressing grind, there is no liberation, this is a liberation book, electroshock therapy, psilocybin, megadoses, parental expectation, what they think education is, what education actually is, memorization, maybe there’s a better way, use is the better way, start using those vocab, silly at the beginning, problems in the world you would like to communicate, we won’t like the ranking, it gets in students heads too, inured to education, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, becoming institutionalized, that mental illness thing, if he can’t break the system then what he did was horrible, did the prison guards have it coming?, getting up at 5am, the kids are overworked, they don’t have a life outside of school, that’s bad, we should all be in jail for child abuse, in a few hundred years, those overseers were as much to blame, strong union in British Columbia, criticize the curriculum, English 10, Shakespeare’s amazing, fill in the blanks, essays, online schooling, more common, self-paced, a list of books you need to read and reflect on in your writing, which character said this?, guess what the writer of the exam said was the right answer, get a stack of book, you’re gonna dig this book, not interested in reading at all, everybody has to be a novel reader, the problem with grading, art history in-class analysis, cultural, thematic, evaluation, judging a slug on how well it climbs trees, who can climb trees best, he chooses the math teacher, you have to have a certain level of math, math is really important and really interesting, if you’re a sailor, if you’re an engineer, a contractor, a cashier, quadratic equations, whose ever used Euclid, prove angles on a triangle, its interesting, let’s keep this idea and system alive, I’m for this thing, you don’t have to be an expert on Ancient Egypt, what school should be is a buffet, they can pursue it at a higher institution, in high school science we dissect animals, prepared slides, not literally science, pushing the boundaries of what we know, experimentalized, that’s not what you’re doing that’s not your job, Jesse teaches essay writing, the essay format was very popular in the 16 to 18th centuries, essay writing in first grade, did King do a disservice to humanity by self-banning this book, as a school shooter book, group therapy, he’s a horrible person, he uses foul language, Red Letter Media’s review of The Friday The Thirteenth sequels, should we ban slasher films?, slasher films are awesome, the close observer, other King books are so much worse, Apt Pupil is way worse, the new right, neo-nazis, a Nazi who got away, worse characters, he’s a popular writer, quoting Wikipedia, the Virginia Tech shooter, Cain Rose Up, Guns, the preface to Blaze, does it save lives?, the Columbine high-school massacre, Columbine by Dave Cullen, Bowling For Columbine (2002), what they always do in the media, Doom causes school shootings, blaming Dungeons & Dragons, Tom Hanks becoming mentally ill by playing D&D, Evan’s pastor, C.S. Lewis is okay, you shouldn’t do this: Jesus, another institution, sexual repression, the concerns of people’s reputations, what the truth is, all sorts of stuff, I’m not a devil worshiper surprisingly, what actually happened, folie à deux, Klebold and Harris, warning signs, the police fucked it up real good, school lockdowns, lockdown is not a good idea, a kind of mania for control, punishment, unquestionable policies, playing with guns, buying guns, making explosives, hate for people, extreme hate for people, the reason she was killed, are you a christian, she said yes, how the United States works, what Colorado was, Mork And Mindy was set in Boulder, a big Air Force state, military education, Robert A. Heinlein near Cheyenne, this mountain central state, a new western frontier, a batman movie shooting, a different kind of state, religion, school, military, set beliefs, you don’t fit into those, resentment can build up, boys are good at killing people because they have hands, machetes, it’s one way to go, its kind of like cancer, if you have enough cells you’re going to get it, Richard Bachman’s book are not the key to the school shootings, understandable, that person who he was, he was very angry, he was full of horror at reality, he reserves his anger for Trump now, this viewpoint character is most like the author, not the book Jesse was expecting, Pinter-like, its never gonna be a TV movie, getting out graduating and telling the truth, everybody masturbates, I’m a virgin, a good read, an interesting read, you shouldn’t skip rage, teenage sexuality, the one hold out, he’s a mirror to the narrator, male vs. female sexuality, there’s so much moralism about sexuality in King’s early work, alcoholism, drugs, Doctor Sleep, Revival, recovery narrative, monogamy, The Stand, 99.9% of Americans die, good wins out, THIS IS MY WOMAN, moralistic about monogamy, he’s taking what he likes from the institution, this is literally the problem, raging against the institutions all around him, The Running Man is such an awesome critique of American capitalism, Christian moralizing is not for me, some religious leader didn’t like the way the institution was running things, a lack of long term vision, seems like a nice guy, the killings, should I do a show on this?, Jesse was worried, Jesse shouldn’t worry, other problems that he’s ignoring, he has a legitimate grievance, make it about veganism, crazy people, TV shows, leaders on television, not so subtle hints, legacy of horror, changing the reality violently, an incident in a fictional character’s life, the loyal friend who is going to come visit him, getting some truth out and making people feel better, we all pee, she doesn’t pee or poo, you can’t admit to something like that, could have happened in a church, going postal, workplace shooting, interesting book, fits so smoothly into Stephen King’s other works, literally defying King, a 2012 Guardian review, asked Stephen King, what cowed media we have, fucking terrible journalism, its very impressive, 1966, good job Stephen King.

Signet - Rage by Richard Bachman

Signet - Rage by Richard Bachman

New English Library - Rage by Richard Bachman

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The SFFaudio Podcast #545 – READALONG: Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #545 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Talked about on today’s show:
cobber, guv’nor, tinhorn, ex-firster, a contemptible person, the Australian etymology, comrade, a revolution book, profound and deep and amazing, not the greatest science fiction novel ever written, no illusions, leg-clining, leg cling is the best part, ridiculous, weirdness, Helen O’Loy, Nerves, shaping the paperback industry, in the mood for something like, dig deep to keep going, 1.2x speed, police yourself, eastern USA accent?, perfectly adapted to the novel, implacable, a bulldozer through the plot, a fast read, a sweet-spot for science fiction novels, the period, what he’s doing, where this book fits in science fiction, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress but on Mars with more Mickey Spillane, more like tar than noir, Julie likes Maissa’s spirit, the same scenario over and over, Groundhog Day, shaking people down and breaking heads, a 15 page short story, Philip St. John was editor of several magazines, praising his own novel in the editorial, defending the novel against critics, fired from Future Publications, juggling everything, editorials, writing short stories and essays for four magazines, writing the novel while publishing it, a three part serial turns into four, people hate the serial, some people love them, he doesn’t really know where its going to end, this is gonna be okay (and then it fell apart), noirish style, the same trick over and over again, cop tinhorn fighter, Mercury mines, a punched mealticket, what the repetition does, not a fan of security, maybe…, Honest Izzy, didn’t pay-off, why did I get dragged through all this?, why you should be excited to buy this magazine, Van Lihn, a convincing picture of a planet, we were enjoying it, super-sloppy, not detail oriented?, its all getting done badly, apologizing, the height of the massive growth of science fiction magazines, as a product of that period, Dickens did that, he knew his prolific output, Elizabeth Gaskell, the motivation of Shelia, putting a gang together, why she attacked Gordon and was crying, in debt, sold as a slave, this is for what you did to Hilda, as a defense mechanism he hid all his soft feelings behind a tough mechanical exterior, a machine devoid of feeling, too much?, the fix-up, taking stuff in and take stuff out, chapter titles, chapter two is missing, police your prose, “Girl Gangs Of Marsport”, John W. Campbell, appreciating Campbell, the Del Rey books, his fourth wife, he’s a fucking liar, Erik Van Lihn, his Wikipedia entry, a professional liar, the closing editorial, “but it could happen”, happy to see it’s end, a darn fine yarn, doesn’t anyone like it, terrible as a whole, fun bits, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it should have been about Mother Corey, pulpy, the agent of change is a ex-boxer ex-gambler ex-cop ex-whistleblower, a yellow journal, benign agency, a traitor, if you squint a bit or your sick its not that bad, Durance, prison planet, done RIGHT, Australia as prison colony experience, a gloss of paint rather than thinking about ideas, Jerry Pournelle’s Co-Dominion, Sparta (prison planet), he could have done a lot more with this, less than the sum of its parts, what this podcast might be doing, what science fiction is, exploring the things Jesse’s interested in, the South Pacific in the 1830s (without spaceships), set on Mars with rockets and domes and superchargers, not science fiction, an editorial in Science Fiction Quarterly, February 1957, Robert W. Lowndes, P. Schuyler Miller, “The Reference Library”, good heavens!, Bridey Murphy, a suspense story, that’s a crime busting tale, where is the science fiction, it didn’t need to be set on Mars, gangs of New York, westerns, a lawless wild west story, almost no concrete ideas that are particularly speculative, something that Eric (Rabkin) taught Jesse, transformed language, The Teaching Company, an impression of the world in which you’re living, Cuddles, he sands the dishes for her, pioneer stories, designed to give you an impression of a whole world in the background you don’t see in the text, what makes it really science fiction is that it has ideas, so scattershot, he doesn’t follow through, Olaf Stapledon, no characters, idea after idea after idea, what science fiction might be, science is ways of knowing, he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he starts, a Philip K. Dick trick: he makes it symmetrical, the plot and the beatings and the dome punching, goddamned communists!, how do revolutions happen?, interesting as an artifact, imperialism, why certain things look like, a Big Big World, continents and countries and resources, why are people doing X, Y, or Z?, geography and resources, WWII, why are things happening this way, that’s where the oilfields are, like the game Settlers Of Catan, life outside of Marsport, Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold, which is it?, changing from paragraph to paragraph, he’s going to derail an already overly long book, heartland hinterland, the Canadian experience, the resources for the USA, branchplantism, car factories in Ontario, Canada as a the hinterland for the United States’ heartland, the outsiders and the insiders, there’s a dystopia on Earth that we don’t get to see, a corrupt journalist who did a little too much actual journalism, something about his personality, he’s not an upright guy looking for the truth, corrupt but not completely corrupt, the heroes are the agency, East Germany, everyone has a secret badge, we’re gonna eat strawberries and cream, White Tiger (2012), this Jesus figure, t-34s, praying to the god of tanks, a very strange Russian movie, Duel (1971) TV movie, The Haunted Tank, why?, Ok?, The Killer Angels, two strange scenes at the end, a long scene with Hitler, the unconscious desire of Europe, is that the European psyche?, the audience?, equally baffling, unconditional surrender, talking about the food, the Russians bring in desert, what is this?, strawberries and cream, come the revolution we’ll all eat strawberries and scream, the revolution has come, when the revolution comes, a downtrodden people, what the rich people always have, playing all these ideas out, why it is a weak science fiction novel, you’re like Judas, they stuck in his throat, the methods used betray the ideals, that’s what we like about Gordon: he uses all the wrong means, the thirty pieces, none of it makes any sense, he’s busy in the kitchen and some things are burning, James Blish’s review: it’s naturalism but not realism, unpleasant matter, a normal sexual relationships, a bundling scene, they kiss, a normal reaction, goes nowhere, the naughty parts for a 1953 science fiction audience: salacious, Samuel Beckett, trance writing, humourless, the voting chapter, vote early and often, Alfred Bester could hold it together, the difference between a great writer and a medium writer, I’m expecting people to pick up…, roiling around, tossed salad and scrambled eggs isn’t revolutionary, Les Misérables, about redemption?, building something together, a change of mind, it’s horribly written, women’s psychology in the fifties, lock this room for a week, how little depth it has, you seem alright in a way, your boots, arranged marriage, if a lady tries to stab you or breaks a bottle over your head she likes you, a book club, five hours like eons, Jesse made Wayne June read the 60 hour Jerusalem by Alan Moore, and Evan has already finished it, baseline science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, picking vs. talent, don’t even try to defend it, shotgun, the setup and the dome and the boots, and we’re all spy, what about the drugs?, street drugs, they’re all starving to death, social control, undercooked, ideas he doesn’t do anything with, we should read Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, why books used to have chapter names, editing out the “this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain”, editing, so amazing, first published in 1980, Julie’s mom loves Alfred Bester, on Earth and so good, a nebula nominee, doable, electric bliss, Jesse has pirate powers, spoiled it!, plus five stars, The Rosie Project, The Man Who Fell To Earth, a book about chess, Squares Of The City by John Brunner, Jesse is the best ever.

Del Rey - Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

POLICE YOUR PLANET - Emsh prelim

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Blumhouse Book of Nightmares: The Haunted City

SFFaudio Review

Blumhouse House of NightmaresTHE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: The Haunted City
Edited by Jason Blum; Read by Various
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: 7 July 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 14 hours

Themes: / horror / short stories / ghosts / demonic possession / violence / murder /

Publisher summary:

Emmy Award-winning producer Jason Blum has ushered in a new dawn of horror with franchises like Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister. Now he presents THE BLUMHOUSE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES: THE HAUNTED CITY, a stunning collection of original, terrifying fiction from a unique cast of master storytellers.   

Contents include:

“Geist” by Les Bohem
“Procedure” by James DeMonaco
“Hellhole” by Christopher Denham
“A Clean White Room” by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill
“Novel Fifteen” by Steve Faber
“Eyes” by George Gallo
“1987” by Ethan Hawke
“Donations” by William Joselyn
“The Old Jail” by Sarah Langan
“The Darkish Man” by Nissar Modi
“Meat Maker” by Mark Neveldine
“Dreamland” by Michael Olson
“Valdivia” by Eli Roth
“Golden Hour” by Jeremy Slater
“The Leap” by Dana Stevens
“The Words” by Scott Stewart
“Gentholme” by Simon Kurt Unsworth

Do you enjoy ghost, demon, and gore-lit? If yes, then you’ll enjoy this collection of stories ranging from psychological horror to down and dirty violent bloodletting. I feel this anthology does a nice job at covering the various bases in this subgenre, and for those of you interested in such reading material, I think you’ll enjoy the reading experience.

I’m not averse to reading stories that are violent or haunted by ghosts, but I need good writing. Some of these tales are fine examples of solid craft and storytelling. “A Clean White Room” by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill was a delight in the forward lean immediacy of the story. “Gentholme” by Simon Kurt Unsworth is an excellent story rendered in a pleasing unfolding of character exploration, and while the ending is a little flat, it was a pleasure to read.

Regarding recommendations? Yes, if you are a fan of these types of stories. No, if you are only an occasional horror reader. This is not a good collection to start on. It is a great collection if you’re looking to add to your already substantial horror reading catalog.

Several different narrators collaborate on this audiobook. I couldn’t find a list of the readers, but I think all deliver an outstanding reading. I was impressed with the audio quality.

Posted by Casey Hampton.

Review of Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

SFFaudio Review

Code Zero by Jonathan MaberryCode Zero (Joe Ledger #6)
By Jonathan Maberry; Read by Ray Porter
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: 25 March 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 16 hours

Themes:  / Horror / Zombies / Terrorists / Covert Intelligence /

Publisher summary:

For years the Department of Military Sciences has fought to stop terrorists from using radical bioweapons—designer plagues, weaponized pathogens, genetically modified viruses, and even the zombie plague that first brought Ledger into the DMS. These terrible weapons have been locked away in the world’s most secure facility. Until now. Joe Ledger and Echo Team are scrambled when a highly elite team of killers breaks the unbreakable security and steals the world’s most dangerous weapons. Within days there are outbreaks of mass slaughter and murderous insanity across the American heartland. Can Joe Ledger stop a brilliant and devious master criminal from turning the Land of the Free into a land of the dead? 

Code Zero, a Joe Ledger novel from Jonathan Maberry, is the exciting direct sequel to Patient Zero.

This is the worthy sequel to Patient Zero.

At one point, Rudy Sanchez says that “this has done something fundamental to the American people.”

I’ll tell you this. It did something fundamental to me.

It was exciting, suspenseful, terrifying, and haunted me in my dreams and at random moments in my day.

And it was satisfying. Very satisfying.

I’m not sure Maberry can top this. Though I’m already looking forward to his next attempt to try.

It’s been six years since Joe Ledger was secretly recruited by the government to lead a combat team for the DMS,  a taskforce created to deal with problems that Homeland Security can’t handle. That story was told in Patient Zero. This was where we met a group of terrorists who had developed a bio-weapon that turned people into zombies.

Every year since then, like clockwork, Joe and Echo Team have returned to battle a variety of seemingly supernatural foes, all developed by villains who are somehow going to make boatloads of cash off of the terror.

The action-packed stories are full of evil super-villains, noble heroes, smart mouthed quips, a smattering of philosophy about “good guys and bad guys” and heart. Lots of heart. All this is told at a roller coaster pace that barely allows you to breathe until you get to the end.

I love them.

In many ways, this book is similar to the rest of the series. Mother Night, a villain you love to hate, is a super-genius anarchist who’s strewing chaos throughout the country over Labor Day weekend. She’s got the DMS’s computer tied up in knots and old evils that were defeated in previous books are now popping their heads up all over the country. Losses are high and the odds are very much against Ledger and his team. We know Joe will win. It’s watching it happen that makes it fun.

It is superior to the other books, I think, because the pacing is more measured and there is more character development. I also enjoyed the flashbacks into the DMS’s years before Joe joined them.

But in one very important way Code Zero was very different for me.

I felt a level of anxiety that was all out of proportion. Maberry is an expert at ratcheting up the stakes until you just can’t see how anyone decent is going to survive the maelstrom. I was used to that. But somehow this felt different. I got a bit jumpy. I couldn’t quit thinking about the horrific chaos during the day when I had to put the book down. Maberry has his finger on the pulse of the evil that Americans today know all too well … that lurks below the conscious level of our lives … violent chaos that can strike without a moment’s notice. Shootings at Fort Hood, restaurants, schools, and more have changed the mood of our country and made Mother Night’s chaos resonate more deeply than usual.

Along the way, he looks at why people choose good or evil. Code Zero is full of people choosing to save the world or burn it down. In most of the cases, the motivation comes down to something that Maberry does not name, but which I will make bold to label: love. We want to know we matter, that we make a difference, that someone “knows” us. Not for our accomplishments but simply because our “selves” matter.

Mother Night gives it a different name, and she may not tidily fall into this definition but, let’s face it, she’s super-villain crazy. I believe that her ultimate fate bears me out. It shows most in Maberry’s final scenario at the end of the book as the answer to Rudy’s statement that the chaos “has done something fundamental to the American people.

Truly this is a great book, especially for the shoot-em-up genre. It is also probably one that can be read as a stand alone without reading the others that came before.

I listened to the audiobook read by Ray Porter who was superb, as usual, at portraying Joe and every other character along the way. In this book Porter dialed his urgent, driving, delivery down some and thank goodness for that. The action was intense enough without being shoved over the edge of the cliff by a continually urgent tone. Porter also was more nuanced and thoughtful in his reading than I recall in previous Joe Ledger books. If this sounds odd when considering our heroes are fighting off zombies, it actually worked to make me consider the full horror being faced. Once again, kudos to Ray Porter. He’s the reason I always choose audio for the Joe Ledger books.

Posted by Julie D.

Review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Aural Noir: Review

WHOLE STORY AUDIO BOOKS - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
By Stieg Larsson; Read by Saul Reichlin
Audible Download – Approx. 18 Hours 50 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Whole Story Audio Books
Published: May 2009
Provider: Audible.com
Themes: / Mystery / Murder / Intrigue / Political Intrigue / Hacking / Violence / Sex / Sweden / Politics / Feminism /

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own family. He employs journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

Better to read than to listen…maybe. There are too many characters in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and we get to know all their names and all their breakfast habits, no matter how minor a role they play in the story. And like the overdeveloped minor characters, there are also many overly lengthy descriptions and over-described scenes that are not key to the plot. It may be that both the character and the storyline problems that I describe are more distracting in the audiobook version than in the print book. After finishing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo I started reading the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, in paperback in order to compare the experiences. I still notice the excessive detail in the paperbook, but it is a more minor annoyance than in the audiobook. At first I thought my discomfort was because The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a translation from Swedish, but I recognized that the translation is seamless. The only other Swedish books, in translation, that I recall reading are those of Astrid Lindgren and, if memory serves, they weren’t nearly as cluttered as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. A quick look at the paperbook edition of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo revealed that the print edition comes with a genealogical table for keeping track of the numerous members of the Vanger family.

On the whole the almost 19 hours of listening is pleasant enough. There is no doubt that the main character is compelling, the plot interesting and that the reader, Saul Reichlin, is brilliant – but as an audio experience it can be daunting – at least without carrying around a character map.

[Here’s one!]

The Vanger Family Tree

Posted by Elaine Willis