The SFFaudio Podcast #481 – READALONG: Exhibit Piece by Philip K. Dick

July 9, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #481 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Evan Lampe talk about Exhibit Piece by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
If: Worlds Of Science Fiction, August 1954, its okay, a lot better than initial impressions, Evan loves this story, Marissa enjoyed it, Paul thought it was deeper than he thought, set apart from the Electric Dreams adaptation, the tropes of TV are not the tropes of Philip K. Dick, Real Life, Sookie Stackhouse and Terrance Howard, a strong script, slightly inspired by Exhibit Piece, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, Anna Paquin, a male fantasy, I’m a lesbian supercop, flying cars, pubtrans (a fucking bus), a suburban utopia, dystopia, juxtaposing, idiocy of television tropes, vs. a 1950s science fiction story, why are they cops, that’s what television does, the end, does a lot happen at the end, oriented for television, what is the plot in the two worlds in Real Life, they killed my partners (all 15 of them), those fingers your not eating, the french fries are the flapjacks, the physical trauma in the story vs. punching and shooting, the murder of his wife doesn’t matter, tracking down the murder of the cops doesn’t matter, all the threads in the short story, the concussion is hay-fever in the story, total world destruction ahead, demolish (The Demolished Man), Mr. PKD doing your job so well today, a schizoid embolism, Total Recall (1990), Paul Verhoeven vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, back to the ambiguity, time portal, the best episode so far, the more you look at it, the psychology stuff, ultimately there are no threads you can pull on in Exhibit Piece that can make the story fall apart, The Commuter, wearing robes, Fleming, officious and a jerk or constructive truth, even the robot bus driver is upset, how much time PKD spent in university, Xeno’s paradox, weird one-up-man-ship, manifest in academic departments, historians in TV shows (don’t exist), some wisdom we’re missing out on, cosplay, powdered wigs, AP history exam, singing Stan Rogers’ sea-shanties, subtle!, I wish you could see this side, Carnap. Freedom, limited government!, no euthanasia!, he lives in a department dormitory, the Spartans, a psychotic break, a terrible shame, malice, they live in a dystopia like hell, political correctness, Small Town by Philip K. Dick, life-size, just beyond the paper-route, like the dioramas in the American Museum of Natural History, they gender flipped it!, a lesbian and a person of colour, George Miller, the fantasy world is the television world, billionaires and cops, Network (1976), the guardians as Plato described them, how many times does PKD use cops, drinking coffee and getting lost in bathrooms, the Eisenhower administration, the cobalt bomb, setting it in his period, oh my god!, I want to escape into the future, that great turn, from a utopia because it has flying cars and lesbians, advertising and VR, a clue, that whole world revolves around our main character, many lesbian supercops in the future, so egotistical, did they or didn’t they resolve it, survivor guilt, her mind is completely wiped, what about all these murdered 15 cops, the partner story doesn’t matter, the unresolved stuff with the husband trying to get revenge, it’s a dream, her wife gets killed, a personal Hell, a form of torture, Evan’s take, this can’t be real because my life’s too good, labour saving technology, the bad world must be real, our vacations are dystopias, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Windup Girl, it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, the one with the hot wife, when things are good we write dystopias, during wars we write the utopias?, Evan wants utopias back, The Walking Dead, no capacity for cooperation, Doctor Bloodmoney, an optimistic post apocalypse, seeing examples of solidarity and heroism, Gary K. Wolfe’s How Great Science Fiction Works, exposing cracks in humanity, Evan’s not a Hobbesian, being an anarchist, nasty, brutish, and short, a billionaire, lackeys, gun fight, Bruce Wayne, a lampshade, Ronald D. Moore, nostalgic 1950s restaurant, TV cops, neither one is a reality from which one could escape, they’re both fantasy worlds, a fear of the future being dystopic space, no ability to quit your job, a genuine fear, many people had that life goal, a car in the garage, the Russian River, that subtlety, page 2, no standards of your own, these words mean nothing to you, post Fordism (scientific management), The Variable Man, value from our working lives, William Whyte’s The Organizational Man, David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd, The Mold Of Yancy, conformity in the 1950s, 60-40 or 70-30, there are good things about our society, he’s absolutely not a communist, losing track about people weaved their own clothing, the early modern, Souvenir, everyone walks everywhere, the board, the soviet, the committee, Edwin Carnap, N’York, the World Directorate, there are no other countries, the World Series, there’s no place on Earth for him to escape to, tobacco, why this story is so good, an Ouroboros style circle, nothing loose or falling out, cementing the circularity, kapok, George Miller was so much like Philip K. Dick, holding on to his art, the weird eccentric guy, this period, Time Out Of Joint, seeing the 1950s like an alien, like time travel, page 68, a picture of the 1950s, Don and his brother Ted, the woman, sprinkling soap flakes, slumping down at the kitchen table, vividly embodied, what was happening?, the sights and sounds of people, how could he be sure, a pink plastic apron, old man Davidson, a tall white-haired old man, downtown San Fransisco, tight sweaters and perfume, two sides of the same country, the authority figure of Davidson is paralleled in the future world by Fleming, a wife and car and two kids, a new prison, a delightful prison, Futurama, transformed language, why is this story so long, material, full, subtle, nothing flashy, why are these kids here, the very progressive 2018 version, a gratuitous lesbian sex scene, eye candy, we’re so progressive we’ve got to show the eye candy and the gunfight, recollecting, the details of a dream, building a world you’re immersed in, delusional or not, like a dream confabulation, amazingly strange, the visual tropes, wakes up with fire burning all around, thrown into the deep end, dialogue, TV cop trope: “whadawegot?”, infodump us, as you know Bob, “wegottanuthaone”, he never loses consciousness throughout the story, both worlds have technology that doesn’t exist, Black Mirror, going to the psychiatrist, such a PKD scene, you could start it the other way, having the same effect, Time Out Of Joint, a whole future outside the town, he writes about this stuff all the time, the Capgras delusion:

Mrs. D, a 74-year-old married housewife, recently discharged from a local hospital after her first psychiatric admission, presented to our facility for a second opinion. At the time of her admission earlier in the year, she had received the diagnosis of atypical psychosis because of her belief that her husband had been replaced by another unrelated man. She refused to sleep with the impostor, locked her bedroom and door at night, asked her son for a gun, and finally fought with the police when attempts were made to hospitalise her. At times she believed her husband was her long deceased father. She easily recognised other family members and would misidentify her husband only.

the Truman Delusion, The Father Thing, the theory as to why deja vu happens, sense data misinterpreted as a memory, brainfart, when you start noticing the operating system, a general production fault, we see the world with our brain, feelings are completely non-existent in the universe except inside this grey stuff, Gatecrashers by Patrick Tomlinson, The Gameplayers Of Titan, the threat of us being just a simulation in someone else’s dream, either it was too long or two short, something missing, where is their connection, one voice all the way through, maybe it would make a good VR game, a VR game about a VR game, Existenz (1999), put the bead on her head, playing with the media, how hip we are!, they used to care about Science Fiction, we only care about cops and billionaires, Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man has both billionaires and cops, although 20th century Americans laid their own floor tiles, Ragle Gumm, little weird things in bathrooms, the Hellenistic empire, obsessed by plumbing, individualism, Athens, the skeptics, the cynics, the stoics, an inter-cultural space, the ruins of Roman London, Celts running around Egypt, melting pot, he paid the robot, from the pre-Christian division, the atomic engine exhibit, it looks like a squashed Jurassic lizard, what is it all for?, a post-apocalyptic Hellscape in recovery, one of the threats of communism is conformity, the officiousness, the government oversight committee, we need spies, history is really important, World War VI, even in communist Russia they have museums and language learning, yes you’re supposed to study Americans but you’re not supposed to have Elvis’ haircut, the briefcase was a power authority symbol, transforming my relation to empathy, dig me?, look I’m important, the tie is the accoutrements, why profs go crazy, beards and sandals and sweaters, Stalinism, we totally misunderstood the Soviet Union, through a glass darkly, maybe that’s why this story feels like he did time travel, Back To The Future (1985), the nylon hose, the woman’s boudoir, he’s nailed the 1950s, he’s skewering his possible future, I’m making a living as a science fiction writer, The Americans, the Dead Hand, a dead-man’s switch, looking at the 80s with the knowledge about if from the present, watching the news, propaganda, when you were reading those history textbooks about WWII, the Americans defeated the Nazis at Normandy, 27 million dead, Stalingrad, grinding horror forever, little bit of rationing, other than Blade Runner the flying cars trope, the focus for the movies, I was promised a flying car, bureaucratic technologies, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, The Land Ironclads, helicopters are the flying cars for billionaires, the Aerocar, the future is not evenly distributed and may never be, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Spiderman: Homecoming, Hulk’s really great, snappy, What We Do In The Shadows, Guardians Of The Galaxy, why is everything about vibranium?, a flower that gives you superpowers, if you had this drug, you’re fucking monsters, a Rick And Morty, Message From The King, American street politics vs. fantasy fantasy fantasy, why we need a Robert A. Heinlein, to do a political job or teach a particular lesson, the third Iron Man movie, Battlestar Galactica, narratives of Africa, dreaming of Liberia, new world values, projecting dreams onto Africa, a fictional country made real, the whole afro-centric narrative, not just the Greeks, Greek philosophy comes from Egypt?, afro-centric philosophy, Ant-Man, the villain is so believable, an amoral corporate suit, the Iron Man villains, Robert A. Heinlein’s gay deceiver, spanking with their own swords, Blade Runner made it manifest, that’s the evidence, probes on Mars, telescopes in orbit, what we don’t have is the iconic Science Fiction cars, Real Life is worth watching, look advertising outside your window, nothing new, all derivative, not Promethean technologies, police, how many TV shows are set in the classroom, schools, teacher makes a difference movie, Head Of The Class, the learning experience or the teaching experience, what’s the inherent drama?, it’s easier to follow the trend, Exhibit Piece exemplifies actual science fiction, the story need not be published in a Science Fiction magazine, Netflix and Amazon are science fiction crazy, Paul is sad, we only like flying cars and cops and billionaires, bad endings, smoking a cigar, had it been a Black Mirror episode, too safe, the Zhuangzi, Taoist text, The Butterfly Dream, just go with it, making a choice, you shouldn’t make a choice, nostalgia, Ready Player One, nostalgia is not healthy at all, South Park, member berries, Magnum, P.I., a fantasy world that is acknowledging it is maybe a fantasy, same helicopter, the same Ferarri, a Haole, the Navy, based on issues about Hawaii, all the things, an action explosion show, Call Of Duty, Hollywood is eating itself, a terrible way to end this podcast, everybody gets lesbian flying car wives from billionaire cops.

Exhibit Piece by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #463 – READALONG: Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

March 5, 2018 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #463 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa van Uden, Bryan Alexander, Luke Burrage, and Maissa Bessada discuss Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Talked about on today’s show:
2002, a pretty good book, cyberpunk continuing, classic film noir detective stuff, sleeving, an old book, the Netflix TV adaptation, 10 years of the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast, too heavy, too violent, sex scenes, long and graphic, too much tumescence?, a major part of the book, having partial control of your body, Ortega connection, his dick understands, your biology and your mind, Luke is his penis and his brain, the disconnect, what a lot of this book is, hard to listen to a narrator narrate, not Morgan’s forte, the action, the love of the guns, the sheen of the blades, a really interesting idea book, the second and the third book, the narrator’s pronunciation of Kovach (in book 2 and 3), Todd McClaren’s narration, a causal vs a casual link, Bancroft has Mr Burns (from The Simpsons) voice, thinking about the sex and the violence, a book about the first year of the war on terror?, Battlestar Galactica, part of his identity, a ghost in the book, The Maltese Falcon, Bay City, a setup for the traditional private eye novel, hardboiled novels, the femme fatale, the noir detective, a murder mystery, a locked room murder mystery, a false ending, we are with the detective, proper timing, missing the whole lightness of being, it feels like a first novel, merging a hardboiled detective novel with a real science fiction idea, alien technology, the perennial spoilers are uninteresting conversation, consciousness uploading and downloading, a whole economy that works inside of the technological system, real death, “organic damage”, Prof. Eric S. Rabkin’s “transformed language”, capitalism can go a step further, repossessing you body, mortgaging your body, what the riches of the ultra-capitalist winners look like, Market Forces, Morgan understands global capitalism in a way few science fiction writers rarely do, Neuromancer by William Gibson, when Case disparaging the meat-sack, so much smoking, sleeve-sickness, cross-sleeving, a fourth book?, skip to the third book, Broken Angels, military SF, Woken Furies, Quellist struggles, the ideal series, like Doctor Who or James Bond, what would normally trigger a lot of people, a big backlash?, racism-proof, accidentally funny, whitewashing, not enough of the Asian identity, two different faces in the mirror, Ghost In The Shell (2017), Maissa was witness to the Falcon Heavy launch and recovery, making note of Miriam Bancroft, Jesse tells a story that turns out to be importantly incorrect, loving James M. Cain at age 14 or 15?, a terrible crash of destiny, stories about femme fatales, which Takeshi Kovacs, childhood memories set the program, telling Jesse’s sad stories, feeling betrayed, face punch exchanges, you’re not supposed to hit women, legitimate hitting, resonating for a reason, personality formation, not enough or the right kind of trauma, all kinds of experiences, resleeving and doing the podcast again, weird connections, identical twin problems, growing up and not being a single human unit, Luke and Nathan go to see the head teacher, tedious and annoying and boring, that’s not the fun game, everybody got Luke and his brother mixed up, what it’s like to be your own identical twin, one particular trauma to magnify, how long will it take to be two different people, rock-paper-scissors, virtual, taking the randomness out of it, taking out all the whims, how can they even be throwing differently, quantum improbabilities, slight differences, it isn’t chance, trying to lose, fun sex party, second guessing to win and lose, how attached they were to that life, proud to have been able to have killed himself, a will, the institution of you continuing on after your death, codicils, the A.I. hotel, Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze, the reason for the change, the Hendrix estate, Hendrix was a big fan of SF, the language of H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, the sidekick, a second trope, the possessive girlfriend nature of the hotel, a lot more personality, meeting the Hendrix, social graces and hotel service, subsumed inside his job, everybody in the police station has a mohawk, why does Ortega cut her own hair?, an undeveloped plot thread?, she’s Catholic, is it possible she doesn’t have a cortical stack implant?, everybody would have the scar, savoring that idea, when you can live forever and nothing can kill you, less meaning to existence, savouring the moments, never do a show twice, we’re never going to do one again, poignancy, the upcoming Dune show, the holiday lasted forever, permanent memoirs, people re-act, the physicality of the sonic booms, startling emotions, why am I crying?, death is more meaningful, seeing in the background, the first bit of violence, death isn’t final, “we saved the stack”, sixteen real deaths, more meaningful, not just movie violence, Ryker didn’t like mohawks, the default in computer gaming is multiple games, iron man mode, flushing your cache, stuck with the consequences, get to the next screen, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds vs. Battlefield 4, completely different vibes, paranoia sneaks up on you, constant electrical shocks, one life to live mode, all the more meaningful, an accomplishment, the highest highs and the lowest lows, as a game mechanic, thirty minutes in, becoming very meaningful, seeming to rely on neurochem as superhero juice, neurochemicals, if you can control your neurochemicals you can control a lot of your world, dials you can up or down, pouring my coffee is doing the neurochem, anticipating the hit, fight sequences, about the meths, meth now means something else, more relevant, economic inequality, more in the consciousness, about the 1%, eat the rich, Black Man aka Thirteen, the Jesus-land idea, a very different resonance, a just reward for hard work, race and gender, the U.S. Democratic party, still fighting the 2016 election, a dystopia in the worst way, everything we have now except it will never end!, Baby Boomers, Nancy Pelosi sacrificed herself by standing for eight hours, Morgan really knows what’s going on, his wife is Spanish, teaching English in non-English countries, a world book, the quintessential American noir detective novel, not Agatha Christie, the femme fatale wife, the ultra rich guy paying the bills, private justice, the cop who is the enemy and the friend, a tangled romantic past, all backstory, his body has a history, he has a history outside his body, well layered, the Patchwork Man story, Frankenstein, Golems, Neuromancer, just delete me, man, Galatea 2.0 by Richard Powers, Charles Stross, Douglas Adams, Raymond Chandler, his politics, economics, deep corruption, strikingly feminist, strikingly anti-religion, these resonate, the triad boss, it feels like fifteen short stories before it, the pacing, what would you cut, the book is about the sex, cut down the fights, the Thunderdome, Head-In-The-Clouds, kung-fu for 15 minutes, and now a gunfight, fade to black, toggling the text in or out, dial it up, you can’t easily skim read an audiobook, super-aware of the narrator, Jonathan Davis on performing sex scenes, the post torture rampage, time working differently in virtual, the rampage feels lifted straight out of Robert E. Howard’s The Vale Of Lost Women, rampage mode, stack killing (RDs), a very dark Dashiell Hammett, Red Harvest, the weapon that he is, an important scene, the unicorn backpack is turning into a meme, to film that scene, designed to be a film, it isn’t a Blade Runner rip-off, a different kind of dystopia, we’re going on a run, the visual connections, a cartoon, why can’t all cityscapes, Blade Runner: 2049 as a silent film or a wordless film, plenty of direct links, “freeze and enhance”, Rick Deckard, bounty hunter and mercenary, film noir tropes, the visuals do not come out of the book, let’s play out the same thought experiments, everything is at night in the rain, Dark City (1998), off to the rest of the galaxy, stagnation, why is it so conservative?, the leftovers, Earth?, that shithole, this is not the home planet, quaint and ancient, a lampshading way of saying we’re not going to invent that much more, how hard it is to write near future SF, why isn’t it called San Fransisco, PoCo, IOCO, PoMo, slang terms, more transformed language, Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler, Harlan’s World = Harlan Ellison’s world, UBC Museum of Anthropology, mossy and rocky with beautiful forest, mom and dad and sister, not just a rampage book, smoking, what is it like to come back to the homeworld and think of it as a dump?, The Impossible Planet, Wall-E, Milk Of Paradise by James Triptree, Jr., environmental, on the nose, the underbelly, Head-In-The-Clouds vs. Licktown, seeing what it is, Miriam Bancroft, Chinatown (1974), the proposition, ‘it’s all about the money, man’, the puppetry by the rich of the inconsequential, where are they getting all the human bodies?, disposiblity, working to grow your clown, a mismatch between the scarcity of bodies and the plurality of bodies, increasing the number of crimes, The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven, exploitation, synth-bodies, The Crack In Space, an orbiting whorehouse, Westworld, loving one and not caring about another, feeling a connection, an anti-hero, rooting for the mission (not the man), Jimmy’s story, Poe, a fairly good job at adapting, Dollhouse, body hopping, virtual reality, an almost sexual urge, the show’s appeals, the grandma, exiting Bryan’s brain, bonding with the main character, Luke thinks about his penis a lot, fun to read, such a sad life, a twisted sense of humour, skewering global capitalism, Car Wars, hedge-fund managers play Mad Max, what’s wrong with us, we’re being manipulated, extending life, what about everybody else?, leave the planet, if we don’t treat it as a metaphor, people act as if, this long view of the world, Bancroft has been alive longer than the history of my planet, would you live in this world?, taking a chance, in a sim?, South America, India, dystopia is already here it’s just not evenly distributed, hanging out with Ortega, super-corrupt, Ryker would go around beating people up, torture program, we did that, there are no good cops, seeing the world from the civilian POV, seeing cyberpunk having an extended life, sub-genres, steampunk, alternate history, Ridley Scott, more of that, not that many good ones, Neuromancer remains the great one, a subterranean vibe, a masterpiece you don’t enjoy watching, such a cultural impact, what comes through, Jack Womack, computer gaming, manga, power and influence, to persist, looking back over the years in science fiction, we’re too close, Gollanz Masterwork series, wait twenty years, 40 years for Moby-Dick, we’re accelerated, what is the good movie?, the Best Picture Oscar winners are a photo-negative of quality, hype machine, more than a twitter, good speech takes a long time, short speech is advertising, Mad Max: Fury Road, come back in a new sleeve in twenty years, all the evil corportations are named S.A., the European version of LLC, Tessier-Ashpool S.A., the orbital battle scenes, the client, Miriam Bancroft gets a punch in the face from me, the fist remembers, Annihilation, a long time since Berlin, hiking the hills, Honeybear lives, organic dog damage, does the dog have a person in it, a tiger sleeve, sleeved in a snake, What It Is Like To Be A Bat, qualia, an attempted-masturbation scene.

Altered Carbon - The Patchwork Man

Altered Carbon street scene

Carbone Modifie

TANTOR - Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #449 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft

November 27, 2017 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #449 – Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft; read by Oliver Wyman. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Oliver Wyman.

Talked about on today’s show:
100 years old, the beginning, because it is short, At The Mountains Of Madness, the narrator is insane, gone mad with fear, Pete Rawlik, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, a great Crispin Glover impersonation, Christopher Walken, the great war was then at its very beginning, pre-Lusitania, the narrator is either British or Canadian or an American working on a British or Canadian ship, inspired by a dream, a Lovecraft-stand-in, internal evidence, a Mid-Atlantic accent, the element of the war, post-traumatic stress, adding ambiguity, illustrations, a LEGO version, on the first page, he’s outside of the boat, “the change happened while I slept”, the heaving vastness of unbroken blue, half-sucked, the surface of the ground matching the undulating black mire, Stranger Things, “the upside-down”, stranded at the bottom of the ocean, being sucked into black slime, how sexual the images are in this, everybody illustrates the creature climbing up the monolith, the one with the monster, an incredibly striking image, a framing story, weeks -> months -> years, three or four years of torture, he was “supercargo”, WWII, The Narrative Of Arthur Goron Pym Of Nantucket, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, two spaceships traveling in intergalactic space crashing into each other, designed to be suspect, “I think I went mad then”, an unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a reverse Atlantean myth, Lemuria, Mu, pre-human horrors, all of this is real, The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith, King Kong, a phantasmagoric eternity of delirium, like The Invisible Man, a coming apocalypse, the oars, a style of storytelling, The Red One by Jack London, the big red thing, it feels like a Lovecraft story, shooting giant butterflies or moths, the Atlas moth, a juju man, the heads, a breadfruit tree, loaded with heads, “the red one”, a giant red sphere, an alien spaceship, a super-powerful weird story, nothing is revealed, the most enigmatic story, ancient astronauts were not a thing until after The Red One, stories really, Erich von Daniken’s Chariots Of The Gods and Life After Life, huskies and dying in the snow, White Fang, Call Of The Wild, The Sea Wolf, Jack London’s science fiction, “hard-ass bastards vs. dilettante assholes”, To Build A Fire, a punch to the gut, feeling SFy, the coldness of space reaching down, being tipped away from the sun, hard SF, the guy needs a spacesuit, that feeling when Luke Skywalker gets stuffed into a tauntaun, looking at the world from an alien perspective, the wisdom of men does not extend to all things, Jack London totally an SF guy, The Iron Heel is mostly lectures, back to Lovecraft, the genre of apocalyptic dream fiction, highlights and stars and boxes, “I cannot think of the deep sea”, “water soaked granite”, clams in their clammy beds, sea-cucumber, eating invertebrates, a horseshoe crab, Oliver is not afraid of going in the water, on the dock, de-crabbing his crab trap, good at clamping, tearing the crab apart, pretty horrific, Paul went to the beach in New Zealand, the deep ones were not invading that day, the HPLHS’ Dagon: The War Of The Worlds, reading the ending in a subversive way, I dream of day, in their reeking talons, war exhausted mankind, universal pandemonium, just end this!, bring on the great old ones!, why is he freaked out?, what’s happening with our species right now, if Jesse is right, taking place in 1917, the horrors of trench warfare, end our inhumanity to each other, might as well have the apocalypse, Keith Roberts’ Pavane, Scott and Luke Burrage, fairies, changing history, researching history (instead of watching the news), some dude went crazy in Las Vegas, country music is not for everybody, this story fits in with that, the general tenor, I got to read more about what the unabomber was worried about, hid and read history and do a podcast,

When you have read these hastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death.

Lovecraft’s inspiration for writing these stories is dwarfing the horror of reality, somebody is putting a name on it, House Of Cards, I miss when politicians were evil (instead of corrupt and inept), we sympathize with their massive ability (and their massive ambition), a fantasy of competence, Ken Burns’ Vietnam, JFK, Obama, a written narrative, I hear a noise at the door, an immense slippery body, that same scene, jumping out the window, that turn, he’s one of them, a fear that he has within him, knowledge bubbling below the surface but which he can’t put name to, “it shall not find me”, “god, that hand”, “the window, the window!”, being digested slowly, the hand is the hand before him, creepy, totally within the text, pre-Shadow Over Innsmouth, subconsciously he’s thinking of all of this, when doing the modelling of that LEGO, seeing other people’s drawings, a sexuality that’s freaking him out, kissing is somebody putting their mouth on you, when people write about sex, detail by detail, beat by beat, drawing a veil over some of it, the carvings and the bas-reliefs on the monolith, a giant man-like creature fighting a whale, reading this as deep ones, each story is independent, are we supposed to…, what size is this monolith, what size is the creature that most people would call Dagon, dimensions, presumably, Polyphemus-like and cyclopean, definitely huge, it’s his, no man could life that, bronze age tombs, when it comes out of the water, it flung its gigantic scaly arms, a child clinging to its mother, certain measured sounds, is it “in heat”, a Freudian interpretation, “loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds.” “certain” is very specific and means nothing, a religious chanting, a sexual thing, I remembered little, “I believe I sang a great deal” and laughed oddly when I was unable to sing. I have indistinct recollections of a “I heard peals of thunder”, over reading, certain people (Ollie Wyman), something deep within us, we know it is powerful, its the questions that propel us forward, when he travels over the surface over the land, nowhere were there sea-fowl, a giant white phallus, walk through the mire, unknown to the modern world, decomposing forms of dinosaurs?, a vision of a present?, Doctor Who’s Silurians, this was all fever dream, the storm broke the fever (and the dream), unless you’re Captain Bligh…, in his dream, I want it to be that way, ancient chthonic creatures or all in his head, tending to the more fantastic, especially when the Moon is gibbous, transient surcease (the lost Lenore is always missing from the Lovecraft stories), written for information (or contemptuous amusement), a hideous vivid vision in reply, it manifests itself before him, Gustave Doré, Bulwer-Lytton, Piltdown Man, Paradise Lost, worries about the reception of his work, a real chip on his shoulder, contempt, self-loathing, self-doubt, nobody likes his poems (except for Jesse and Paul), the psychiatrist is “hopelessly conventional”, alienated, Lovecraft is an alien, Sonia Greene would feed him because he was so thin, had never been in an Italian restaurant (age 30), let’s go in for lunch, Lovecraft watches him eat, why open yourself up to criticism, you end up being a Crispin Glover, Willard, a pale gaunt slender man living in his parent’s garret, New York, Chicago, Sonia Greene was a big fan of amateur journalism (blogs and podcasts), earning the equivalent of $100,000 a year, echo-y with later stuff, The Tomb, “I dreamed that the whole hideous crawl”, Fishhead by Irvin S. Cobb, the sky is also black, its not Carcosa yet, Marissa wants to go there, bring a gas-mask, bring a camera, a great virtual reality environment, almost nothing happens in terms of choices, the Lovecraft role-playing game, The Nightmare Lake, What The Moon Brings, a recurring dream, lotus-petals, sea-birds circling over something in the water, the brow of a giant statue, he goes mad, if he seas what is beneath the brow it will be the end, the hideous stench of the sea, swimming in black lakes, a little bit freaky, the water is much scarier, VR is the hot new thing, Blackstone Audio’s The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Jerome Bixby’s It’s A Good Life, Roger Zelazny, Bill Mumy, the Joe Dante adaptation, Dawn Of The New Everything: Encounters With Reality And Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier, VPL, Playstation VR, HTC Vive, eating virtual food, screen-time, selling the spiritual aspect, how good are computer games?, mixed reality (augmented reality), Steam’s VR environment, on a catwalk in the bowels of Bespin, unendurable vertigo, The Simpsons living room, Audioshield, it makes me feel I’m in a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic, the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Aces Of The Pacific, a rookie pilot in 1943, why Ollie is an actor, pulling the wool over my own eyes, getting into VR, go for an Occulus or a Vive, a VR Star Trek game, Fallout 4 (VR), Psychonauts, cooking an egg and washing dishes in VR, Vanishing Realms, real fight mechanics, its ready, 1991, huge and clunky, more than a bigger monitor, vector graphics?, Dactyl Nightmare, Dire Straits, Max Headroom, Elite Dangerous, Marissa wants to join the church of VR, skiing, under London Bridge, divining caches, friend MrKawfy on Steam and, the interactive entertainment editor of Creem magazine, that raunchy Doom theme, Serious Sam, chainsaw, was the Far Harbor expansion for Fallout 4 Lovecraftian?, the Pickman’s Model house, the Dunwich Borers, a serial killer, get their shit freaked, what are we doing in here?, the problem Bethesda games is the inventory management, a bane on your existence, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, listening to audiobooks while playing games.

Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft - WEIRD TALES

Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft - WEIRD TALES

Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft

Dagon - adapted by Dan Lockwood and Alice Duke - I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain

Dagon - adapted by Dan Lockwood and Alice Duke - I think I went mad then.

Dagon - adapted by Dan Lockwood and Alice Duke "The Window"

Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft - illustrated by Jesse Willis

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #402 – READALONG: A Maze Of Death by Philip K. Dick

January 2, 2017 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #402 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Marissa, talk about A Maze Of Death by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
1970, one of Marissa’s favourites, get going, where is he going with this?, ohhhkay, Do Androids and Ubik, Morbid Chicken, similar scenes, the space jalopy scenes, this guy is crazy, the Philip K. Dick fans page, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Conspiracy ’87: “…Robinson came up with some refreshingly intriguing ideas. For instance, he sees Dick in A MAZE OF DEATH, deliberately murdering the cast of characters he has used in his books, and grown sick of since SOLAR LOTTERY. There is a different, new cast after MAZE”, the bevatron, various realities, dying one by one, hating each other for their worlds, that house!, all the religions in a blender, a signpost, The Cosmic Puppets, this far and no farther, endlessly spinning wheels about what God is like, prayer transmissions, the Walker On Earth, Seth has ascended, virtual reality, dolphin people, Kurt Vonnegut wrote that book: Galapagos, cynical, he’s going to bite his tongue off, sea-lion people, Margaret Atwood, Oryx And Crake, an episode: Books Jesse Hates, recycled or re-themed, the tench things: T.E.N.C.H. = tensions, tension apprehension and dissension have begun, Alfred Bester, I can’t stand you ANYMORE!, so depressing, stuck in a bottle forever, a Hell, Seth Morley escapes Hell, suicide, “oh god, that’s life!”, and then we play videogames and read books, Faith Of Our Fathers, which is the reality, overlapping possibilities, the weird gnostic twist, purposely plunging into fake reality, a metaphor, drug addiction, Seth Morely’s apotheosis, Delmak-O, is it too soon to bring up The Matrix?, the machines tried to give humans paradise, you weren’t satisfied with it, acting out, it’s a “dead star” not a “black hole”, right to the edge, it literally would be hell, Event Horizon, frozen forever, the Disney movie The Black Hole (1979), they wished they had had star wars, an R2-D2 character, Maximilian, see the movie anyway, a really fun kid’s movie, Roddy McDowell, Anthony Perkins, the overture, Virtuality, a murder happens, a Civil War world, a holodeck, musician/superhero, sounds Philip K. Dicky, follow me down the rabbit hole, Paul’s guess, “Heading for a lawsuit…”, “ripped off from Joe Haldeman’s SF novel “Old Twentieth”, Frozen Journey by Philip K. Dick (1980), you are in a faulty cryonic suspension, Vanilla Sky, Abres Los Ojos, in Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis, the Walker On Earth as the protagonist, I don’t trust Philip K. Dick, interpretations, we’re all the Walker On Earth, they’re all Dick, I have to sleep with all the men, he really loves women, unrealized motivations, group therapy, couples therapy, so impressionable, empathizing with everybody’s point of view, he’s working out his own psychology, seeing one person’s attempt to reconcile all the weirdness that’s in his mind, H.P. Lovecraft, that’s his psychology, always being honest, this is what fascinates and obsesses them, PKD doesn’t like it either, “this is life we’re all sort of trapped in orbit around a dead star”, “why the fuck did you do that, you asshole?”, we’re so annoying, escaping to heaven, Heaven would be the most boring fucking place in the entire universe, change, coming to appreciate it, they’re all blurring together, The Game-Players Of Titan, haning out with people who are annoyed with each other, Philip K. Dick’s Agatha Christie novel, Ten Little Indians, Murder On The Orient Express, wow I had no idea this was coming!, “click here for a big spoiler”, too dense or too sick, did you realize what was going on beforehand?, Paul started to suspect, is this an Eye In The Sky sort of thing?, red herrings, a government experiment, an oceanologist and no ocean, an economist, their concentrating all the idiots together, a bunch of people with degrees they couldn’t use, a noser, a squib, a punishment planet, I don’t think Philip K. dick knows what’s going to happen, take me to my last destination, this has Printers in it, a hint early on where the conversations repeat, 1977, kind of like this podcast, it’s long and everybody’s babbling away, just like the podcast, you’re thrown a little bit, what is going on?, an author’s forward,

AUTHOR’S FOREWORD

The theology in this novel is not an analog of any known religion. It stems from an attempt made by William Sarill and myself to develop an abstract, logical system of religious thought, based on the arbitrary postulate that God exists. I should say, too, that the late Bishop James A. Pike, in discussions with me, brought forth a wealth of theological material for my inspection, none of which I was previously acquainted with.

In the novel, Maggie Walsh’s experiences after death are based on an L.S.D. experience of my own. In exact detail.

The approach in this novel is highly subjective; by that I mean that at any given time, reality is seen–not directly– but indirectly, i.e., through the mind of one of the characters. This viewpoint mind differs from section to section, although most of the events are seen through Seth Morley’s psyche.

All material concerning Wotan and the death of the gods is based on Richard Wagner’s version of Der Ring des Nibelungen, rather than on the original body of myths.

Answers to questions put to the tench were derived from the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes.

“Tekel upharsin” is Aramaic for, “He has weighed and now they divide.” Aramaic was the tongue that Christ spoke. There should be more like him.

what the hell does this mean?, it’s the Gotterdammerung!, this lady’s an embodiment of Freya, that guy’s an embodiment of Thor, archetypes of Biblical characters, the table of contents:

1 In which Ben Tallchief wins a pet rabbit in a raffle.
2 Seth Morley finds out that his landlord has repaired that which symbolizes all Morley believes in.
3 A group of friends gather together, and Sue Smart recovers her faculties.
4 Mary Morley discovers that she is pregnant, with unforeseen results.
5 The chaos of Dr. Babble’s fiscal life becomes too much for him.
6 For the first time Ignatz Thugg is up against a force beyond his capacity.
7 Out of his many investments Seth Morley realizes only a disappointing gain– measured in pennies.
8 Glen Belsnor ignores the warnings of his parents and embarks on a bold sea adventure.
9 We find Tony Dunkelwelt worrying over one of mankind’s most ancient problems.
10 Wade Frazer learns that those whose advice he most trusted have turned against him.
11 The rabbit which Ben Tallchief won develops the mange.
12 Roberta Rockingham’s spinster aunt pays her a visit.
13 In an unfamiliar train station Betty Jo Berm loses a precious piece of luggage.
14 Ned Russell goes broke.
15 Embittered, Tony Dunkelwelt leaves school and returns to the town in which he was born.
16 After the doctor examines her X-rays, Maggie Walsh knows that her condition is incurable.

maybe all this stuff did happen!, other realities, the economist goes broke, that’as another Philip K. Dick novel: The Cosmic Puppets, true in a metaphorical way, he’s playing a game, Jesse unearths a mysterious object, Rupert, stories told in four levels, “In Which Rupert Finds A Lost Boy” rhyming couplets, prose text, leveling of reading, on one level it’s a murder mystery (and science fiction novel), if you play long enough with Philip K. Dick…, a long game, not the book to start with, late Dick but not bad at all, the comedy and the descriptions and atmosphere of the planet, more polished, Three Stigmata, communities of protagonist, reading about a bunch of dickheads, he’s kind of an asshole sometimes, stressing each other out, the original title: The Hour Of The Tench, the manuscript, no revision, no moving things around, no third and fourth drafts, getting it right the first time, knowing how to hit the beats, Lawrence Block, Donald Westlake, how well the topic can be played out, a cute topic won’t be a great novel, as he was going it developed into that and started playing it up, How I Rose From The Dead And So Can You, forty god-worlds, mot-scientific means, a big clue, a biblical number, rather than revise, interplaneast and interplanwest, Dick loves Germany, Waking Life, are you the story?, he’s living the books, why is he always obsessed with printers?, their all in an insane asylum, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, little cups with pills, where do the pills come from?, when they don’t work properly and make me feel weird, buy a new car and suddenly entropy happens, the fight against entropy, the Printers are cool because…, other writers or Star Trek deal with replication, what will that do to the economy, a post scarcity future, anti-entropy machine: DNA, I make a kid and he’s not a little mini-me, even this awesome amazing thing that is life even it can’t win, every printer we’ve ever met in any story has been a dying printer, like fairies they’re always dying, deep and creepy, the computer is the Bible, the Bible as our programming, everything is decaying but not the ink, he’s taking it from another Bible: the I, Ching, Jesse’s understanding of how church works, throwing the yarrow stalks, don’t do two shows in the row exactly the same, a good fruitful passage, that’s the mystery of God!, Kings 2:4, it’s no John 3:16, Paul the altar boy, that’s the way its going to be, Jesse’s 4am dream, saving the end for the morning of, in a diner in Orange County, living in a Philip K. Dick (played by Antonio Banderas), a 1950s everyone has a special uniform world, cafe/restaurant/bookstore, a bag with two copies of A Maze Of Death, I’m pretty sure the last two chapters are going to reveal something to me, Antonio Banderas Philip K. Dick sort of smiled, just like in Delmak-O, that was only way this book could be adapted, what’s wrong with Philip K. Dick movie adaptations…, there’s no music swelling, A Scanner Darkly, successful, Blade Runner, Total Recall, Philip K. Dick can never be faithfully adapted, Adaptation, it made sense in the dream, a theory as to what’s going on in the book, that’s essentially what the dream is, an internet of dreams, the collective bevatron worlds of this dream, isolated invented worlds, a hall of puppets, Mormonism, experimenting with religions, Roger Zelazny’s Amber, Tickleufarsen, the Walker On Earth is real, he wants to believe in Jesus, stuck on the side of the highway with a flat tire (and helped by Jesus), Jesus Christ is a character (like Batman), Constantine and Council of Nicea, why religious revolutions happen, this Jesus Robin Hood figure, how is Donald Trump gonna go to heaven?, PKD is the Walker On Earth for the characters in A Maze Of Death, inviting a meta-interpretation, a philosopher who uses 1950 and 1960 paperbacks to do philosophy, possibility vs. technology, the Printer is the important part, in a peripatetic Socrates and Plato kind of way, that’s why he (Dick) is immortal, Marilyn Monroe can be reconciled, the coffee machines and the computers, Google T.E.N.C.H., that’s what we’re all striving for, the ink stays, the WORD lives on, 1s and 0s, what really happened, he saved them all, ridiculous but also true, the Total Dick-Head Blog, the cook changes, oh yeah I’m the cook, The Commuter by Philip K. Dick, we knew it from the colour of the couch, new knowledge, the game he’s always playing, it’s so subtle, nice catch!, totally re-readable, we did a show.

A Maze Of Death by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Bob Pepper

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #380 – READALONG: The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

August 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #380 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1965/1964, Nebula Award, Dr. Bloodmoney, Dune by Frank Herbert, better than Dune?, if books were boxers…, a standard Philip K. Dick book, a lot of religious people, taking the cracker and the juice (communion), religious crises, the smaller ideas, precogs, forgetting the precogs are precogs, writing characters who can see into the future, what this novel has, a certain movie, after chapter 5 you don’t know what is real anymore, actual reality and what we’re seeing aren’t lined up, are we still in the Chew-Z delusion?, a very surreal Dick experiences, it’s a trip, the rhetorical flourish, are they spreading the plague, the questioning of reality, an original idea book (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?), The Days Of Perky Pat, an improvement of an idea in Perky Pat, a cobbled together book, a collage, Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick, witchcraft and blood magic, the infection is spreading, Anne’s story (joke) about a cat who eats a steak, transubstantiation, the telepathic martian grandmother jackal beast, the difference, Dr. Bloodmoney is funny, The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch is creepy horror, the colonization of reality, Solaris, 1961, whenever a beautiful young woman says “come with me” she always wants to take you to Jesus, Anne Hawthorne, she’s really an agent for Leo, the rehotrizer, the analog for sin, Nathaniel Hawthorne is the religious American version of Edgar Allan Poe, how evil is Palmer Eldritch?, is he a victim?, claims and undercut claims, what real evidence do we have that he’s evil, the three stigmata, subjective realities, then we would all be your children, childlike evil, coming up with the idea, people playing with dolls, Barbie dolls, that connection makes it a better book, all the men go into the Walt (Ken), all the women go into Perky Pat (Barbie), LEGO, a Doctor Who podcast, little mustaches and little hats, The Game Players Of Titan, playing like kids do, you can no longer have the experience of Barbie in her dream house, if I had Can-D (candy) I could have…, so well realized in the Short Story, the kids are adults and the adults are children, hunting for rabbits, waving to the Care-Boys, Martian octopuses looking to help humanity on blasted earth, adults need toys, from Earth to Mars, Chicken Pox Prospect (CPP), a grim prospect, an escapist materialistic world, landscapes of methane ice, the opiate of the colonists, when Philip K. Dick wrote this book he was banished from the house, miserable in his shack, taking his drugs in his hovel-shack, seeing that huge metal mask in the sky, he’s like the doll, Eichorst or Eidhorst, E-therapy (evolution therapy), “look, I’m a bubblehead”, religion vs. evolution, he beats Palmer Eldritch (or he thinks he does), the opening paragraph is the clue, we’re only made of dust, they way he wrote it that’s the idiosyncratic voice, so he did win, thank you Marissa, thank you Philip K. Dick, the runaway green-house effect, resort beaches in Antarctica, it’s 2016, running around in air-conditioned suits, “his conapt Marilyn Monroe, New Jersey”, 4.62 grables, 1.46 wagners, things were hotter than ever, clanked?, Daybreakers (2009), vampires, a nocturnal society, Mayerson is a shriveled up corpse, Guillermo del Toro, The Strain, a retelling of Dracula, an invasion of New York, Chuck Hogan, Eldritch Palmer, a synthesis of Dracula with The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch, that homage, like Babylon 5, Highlander: The Series, flashbacks, it’s fun, he’s really enthusiastic about all the right things, a scary book, seeing the names mispronounced, little details, now is the time when Paul talks about eXistenZ, virtual reality games, deep into the game, take-out from Perky Pat, just like real life, the sting in the tail, are we still in the game?, they’re acting just like characters, a Palmer Eldritch sort of experience, baseline reality, so many levels of reality, out of the rat maze, laserdisc, a gun made out of a bucket of chicken, real-Cronenbergy, it still holds up, sort of Philip K. Dicky, Big Kahuna Burger, identity issues, Felix Blau, how come you keep calling me Leo, “rigid” is a Philip K. Dick keyword, Roog, a good ending, that interoffice audio memo, we’re supposed to infer that he’s not Palmer Eldritch, World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven, don’t be such a Fnool, getting Fnoogled, Larry Niven takes a page out of Philip K. Dick, the most sexist man in the universe, the Kzinti females are non-sentient, he’s wholeheartedly sexist, Ronnie, super-cunning and clever, lots of boobs, plots and plans, nobody ends up at the top in a Philip K. Dick novel, women in his Antarctic colony, Winnie The Pooh Prospect, fluke-pits, it’s a fluke that they lived, homeopapes, just go with it, underappreciated Dick novels, the religious aspect is a really big thing for a lot of people, now you are like Jesus, Americans are baked in religion, Jesse’s students are from Asia, talking about three days in a tomb, fundamental background material, 37 books, Cosmic Puppets, Marissa really liked the virtual reality stuff, Facebook and Second Life, he would have had a lot of fun with Facebook, Palmer Eldritch today is Google, everyone is in the religion of Facebook, Google’s claws are deep, Fallout 3, Tranquility Lane, an evil little girl, a lot of H.P. Lovecraft, if you really want to be a video-game designer you wanna read a lot of this, whoever the nameless game writer are, the Voigt-Kampf tests, Synths, managing towns, an underground railroad for androids, find the Institute (MIT), a robot wants a human body, romance her later, we’re gonna hook up – might as well get straight to it, they all seem to reward re-reading, The Matrix, I’m going to be all the colonists, I’ll be their civilization, playing all the people, SimCity, Civilization, deep into role-playing without the drugs, addicted to evil games, Clash Of Clans, FREE to play, spending $300 on digital skins (for League Of Legends), Candy Crush, I’m going to farm, rejecting the fake world for the real world, The Sims, managing sims lives, micromanaging fake people’s lives, buying virtual goods for an artificial world, sucking up your life, alcohol is a drugs, beer allows escape from the body, the rejection, the kids being the responsible ones, we will make our own world, it’s hopeful, A Scanner Darkly, Facebook is a drug, liking a Bernie tweet, little check-boxes, a long vacation away from man (then share it on Twitter), I was here at these sand dunes, Jesse is stingy with Twitter favourites, favourites are currency, bots, we live in a sick world, digitizing a human need, you can buy 7,000 followers for $50, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, you must!, TV satire commentary, the top video games of all time, the number one game was Twitter, they’re not as good as me, I’m better than you, keeping up with the Morrisons, the Morrisons had more stuff in their layout, their virtual television is at the shop, psychotherapy costs $10 an hour, spinners and squares, a 12 hour flight to New Zealand, 35 hours to New Zealand, Auckland, Helen Lowe in Christchurch.

The Days Of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick

The Days Of Perky Pat by Philip K. Dick

DAW - The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick

The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch - illustration by Hannah Shapero

Haffmans - The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch

The Three Stigmata Of Plamer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Ron Walotsky

Perky Pat

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Sea of Silver Light by Tad Williams

July 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Sea of Silver LightSea of Silver Light (Otherland Book #4)
By Tad Williams; Read by George Newbern
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 17 March 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 37 hrs, 32 mins

Themes: / science fiction / cyberpunk / virtual reality / virtual worlds / serial killer / Otherland /

Publisher summary:

A group of adventurers searching for a cure for comatose children find themselves trapped in a sequence of virtual worlds, the only opponents of a conspiracy of the rich to live forever in a dream. Now, they are forced to make an uneasy alliance with their only surviving former enemy against his treacherous sidekick Johnny Wulgaru, a serial killer with a chance to play God forever.  Few science fiction sagas have achieved the level of critical acclaim-and best-selling popularity-as Tad Williams’s Otherland novels. A brilliant blend of science fiction, fantasy, and techno thriller, it is a rich, multilayered epic of future possibilities.

The finale to the Otherland series, Sea of Silver Light wraps up the multitude of story lines that began in City of Golden Shadow. While the book dragged in places, and some may find that the book (and the series, especially in the middle books) wanders a bit too much, it is hard not to appreciate Tad Williams’ amazingly prescient series, especially if you’re a fan of a) the internet and b) classic literature. It’s probably safe to say that the wandering will not be for everybody, but for those that enjoy the mystery and the references to other works, the series could be a lot of fun.

A series written in the mid-late 90’s, the books cover amazing breadth of topics with a wide cast of characters in this world and in a parallel online world. What started as a cyberpunk story quickly unfolded into a much larger world with many players with significantly different motivations–on all sides of the story. With unlikely/atypical heroes (a South African woman, an African “bushman”, a blind woman, two teenagers, a mom, and a guy who doesn’t know his own past, not to mention a 5 or 6-year old girl, an ancient man…the cast is huge!) and a sprawling world, it’s easy to see why some people are overwhelmed. The more intriguing part, though, is trying to piece together the entire story, trying to figure out who’s involved in the world and for what purpose…and what the online world really is. I will admit that when the world was pieced together, it seemed pretty out there…but I was so engrossed that I didn’t really mind. The only part I really did mind was the end; the book felt maybe a little too neat, and a little too drawn out at the end. That said, it does leave an opening for Williams to return to the world (and looking on Goodreads, it seems as if he may have done just that with a short story in Legends II.

It’s hard to describe the book and what happened in the series without venturing into spoiler territory. Basically, Renie, a young South African woman who is a sort of professor or teacher of computer engineering-type classes at a local university, finds one day that her brother is in a coma of sorts, a result of playing an online game. Games in the future world that Williams created are played online in a virtual reality simulation type schema, where users have different levels of gear that immerse them (fully or to varying degrees) into a virtual world. Some users go so far as to get neural cannulas, so that they can “jack in” and have the VR system provide a direct link to their brain, become fully immersed. Renie, wanting to try to find out more about how her brother came to be in the coma, went online to try to learn what she could of what he got into. Unsurprisingly, she found herself sucked into and literally stuck in a virtual world, unable to disconnect (sort of like Sword Art Online). While there, she meets others who have family members with the same affliction as her brother, and still others who have been recruited by an unknown agent to help Renie and those who are trying to help their children/family members. In parallel, there is the story of the Grail Brotherhood, a private group of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest elite, who wish to achieve immortality, and invest heavily in a system to do so. In a third story line, there is additional intrigue about a psychopath who calls himself “Dread” and seems to seek out ways to torture and kill others, online and in reality. His story ends up weaving and in some ways connecting the Grail Brotherhood and those of the people trying to help the children. Throughout, there are a multitude of worlds created by various users of the online system, many with literary references (such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The War of the Worlds) or other evolving schema (such as a virtual rainforest that actually begins to evolve in the simulation world, similar to how it might have on earth). Williams uses cyberpunk, the idea of virtual/simulation worlds, and some more fantastical elements (some characters have special abilities, particularly abnormal/special mental powers) to weave a tale that leaves the reader picking up puzzle pieces and slowly piecing things together, just as the heroes do in the story.

I’m most amazed at how prescient Williams was. The book was written in the mid-90’s, yet there are references to things in the world today, innovations that were barest ideas of science fiction in the 90’s. The first and most obvious observation is that the VR world, while more immersive than anything we really have today, is very much akin to the internet of today, with people spending entire lives and making entire livelihoods on the internet. People use tablet-like devices to connect to the networks, to make calls, to shop, to go into their simulation worlds–much like an iPad or other tablet of today. People watch movies on the internet, so-called “Net Flicks” (I really wonder if that’s how Netflix’s name came to be), and an automated robotic floor-sweeping robot (Roomba, anyone) makes an appearance or two. Kids have “storybook sunglasses” which sound a bit like more immersive (and frankly more fun) versions of Google Glass. Just today, I read an article on Slashdot about body hacking through the vagal nerve, a topic that’s actually brought up in the book (as a therapy that is abused, oddly enough). There are other examples, which reading in 2015, are fun nuggets to pick up along the way. It’s crazy how forward-thinking this book was, how much it got “right” even for 2015 (I think the book is supposed to take place closer to 2050).

I liked this book and really enjoyed the series. I think that listening was a fantastic way to experience the book, to be able to lay back and shut my eyes and become immersed in the book as the characters are immersed in their world. The narration was (as I’ve said in my other reviews) great, if a little slow. But that meant that I could speed the book up slightly in the playback, cutting down some of the listening time.

The book (and series) may not be for everyone. I think it’s fair to criticize this book for going on a little “too long” or for being a little “too neat,” and it’s equally fair to think that Book 1 started slow or that books 2 and 3 wandered a bit (they absolutely were “middle books” in a series, which not everybody enjoys). But I still really liked the series. I look forward to reading it again in the future, maybe in a few years, to see how much I can pick up in advance, knowing as I do now, how the book ends.

Posted by terpkristin.

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