The SFFaudio Podcast #525 – READALONG: The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #525 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa Vu, and Evan Lampe talk about The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
a novella from Space Science Fiction, September 1963, illustrations, going deep into Philip K. Dick, wanting to like it, recapping Evan’s thematics, big data, blinkered, as art, so many important elements, starting where he ended up, shifting realities, what is human?, the frontier, labour and the meaning of labour, interesting authoritarian dystopias, anti-Orwellian, Solar Lottery, The Man Who Japed, direct democracy, optimism, they have the whole universe open to them, the narrowmindedness of Cold War thinking, the first tinkerer hero, an average putterer, preternatural in fixing or degraded skills?, preposterousness, the generalist vs. the technocrat, academia limits you, narrow corridors of specialization, I know more than you and there’s no way you can reach, getting ahead of Paul, write a sonnet, build a wall, solve equations, pitch manure, specialization is for insects, esoteric order, intellectuals vs. academics, feted, he’s great!, how Philip K. Dick doesn’t fit into his own environment, what is this all about?, what’s happened, his car breaks down, “I’ll have a look”, how can we possibly move to a new place, “My god! This is amazing!”, The Golden Man, completely like a chickenhead, functionaries, coffee and boobs and that’s it, the proto-tinkerer, Time Pawn or Doctor Futurity, time travel, saying something about the interaction with specialization, the “genius bar”, “geniuses” being slightly more than minimum wage, Jesse ruined the show, Robert McNamara, The Fog Of War (2003), a numbers game, true to life, not guiding the policy, Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), letting the spreadsheets dictate, the tyranny of the computer, hydraulic empires, China, the nature of the infrastructure, Arnold J. Toynbee, Dune, one small intrusion, no variables allowed, A World Out Of Time by Larry Niven, Stability, Meddler, Paycheck, competence porn, House Of Cards, Sherlock Holmes, almost any John Scalzi protagonist, Breaking Bad, he’s doing science!, so awesome to see it, oh my god we’re going to do some science, helium has these properties!, black boxy, the kid’s vidsender, a genetic freak, he is the hydraulic empire, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth, Little Black Bag, such a competent bag, competence satire, The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster, is a vizsender facetime?, this is public domain, the visuals, lemmee fix that, a real robot now, fantasy real objects, stories with games, War Game, trying to invade the Earth using board games, sitting down to play, Monopoly is a capitalism simulator, the purpose of Monopoly, toys and game and hyper-competence, fixing things for coffee and donuts, no vivid mental life, the Pole, Soviet scientist, Sergei Korolev, expansion, why do we never see the Centaurans?, Traveler, a decaying empire, The World Jones Made, imperial ambition, Oregon trail, the noser or the jitney, a used car lot, Mimsy Were The Borogoves by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore, a mirroring, a conversation, Waterspider, Astounding, 3-D movies every night, The Variable Man, the old time pre-cog who wrote it, The December 1962 IF, a meta-story, commenting on his own work, Orpheus With Clay Feet, We Can Build You, a reference to Nanny, pre-cogs are science fiction writers, how to build the future, welding skills?, soldering skills?, the ultra-competent handyman, shoe a horse and run a government, fantasy as the main element, Reading, Short And Deep, Strange Eden, slem ray vs. r-pistol, asshole braggart character, tame animals, there’s a lady, a retelling of the Circe episode, Jesse just lights up, getting those rocket ships off the ground, Beyond Lies The Wub, a pig with a ghost inside it (that wants to talk about philosophy), so weird and obsessive, The Gun, The Defenders, an elaborate bureaucracy, meetings, no love interest, it reads like a script, dropping bombs on a guy with a horse and cart, Mr. Spaceship, weapons of war, a dying scientist, a vehicle of exploration, The Defenders, a trans-humanist force, The Ship Who Sang by Anne McCaffrey, shell people, “you can be beautiful”, they have longings, Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson, the cripples, colonization, Dick’s first long fiction, how to put things together, novel structure, the coffee, the boobs, the trail of Philip K. Dick, the characters are lacking, irritable anxious weird dudes, I want my comedy, Evan thinks Galactic Pot-Healer is Dick’s novel (for a deep philosophy on work), the jokes, the silly stuff, you went there didn’t you, the compatibility test, spending the time, reading it is a pleasure, intellectual stuff, themes, no pleasure, elegance, beauty, Earth against the others, who is the aging empire here?, the British, the Nazis, vundervepons, invasion board, the big board, The Penultimate Truth, fake work, fake war, are they the Japanese?, Philip K. Dick’s childhood poems, Aunt Flo judging his work, weeks and weeks and weeks of newspapers, war war war war domestic domestic domestic, American tank giving Japanese tank a piggy-back ride, The Man In The High Castle, the role of war, the war of munitions, the war of industry, we can win WWII no problem, here’s a Japanese intern(ee) that was murdered, The Simulacrum, Reinhardt, Reinhard Heydrich, the Wannsee Conference, the calculation, spreadsheets were involved, Supernova In The East, anti-war in Japan, elan, The Crystal Crypt, a snowglobe story, the Black Clad Leiters, Nazis on Mars, childhood trauma, reflecting, what if me and my fellow writers are pre-cogs, nobody else uses pre-cogs, Null-A, a parody of the plots of The Pawns Of Null-A, Null-P, Think Like A Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, what if…, The Great C, work as therapy, art therapy, what’s your therapy?, occupational therapy, Dick being a bit of a pre-cog, find work you love, find pleasure in your work, fantasy, Taiwan, work should be enjoyable, work being meaningful, a euphemism, a way of tricking yourselves, kindergarten, lunch is coming and take your pills, universal basic income, getting paid in coffee and a sandwich, the lack of ability to fix things, openable phones, a plastic cover over the engine of modern cars, alienated from the ability to fix your own stuff, walking towards this Philip K. Dick future, the whole Amish thing, human scale technology, Murray Bookchin, anarchism, the light switch as consent, thinking through the technologies we choose, obsessed with tiny houses, being “off grid”, growing the fuel for the horses, compressed air technology, social ecology, the kind of guy they don’t talk about in school, Towards A Liberatory Technologies, post hole diggers, this would make a good movie, very visual, Molly Jojez has blue skin, they always adapt the wrong stories, a failed experiment, Idiocracy is The Marching Morons, Mark Twain, a reverse Connecticut Yankee, Flight Into Forever by Poul Anderson, the heroic past, Little, Big: Or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley, return of the king, The Skull, Paycheck, Captive Market, All You Zombies, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, social credit, socreds, Alberta, ancient political ideas, neo-liberalism, an interesting thinker, mostly wrong about everything, The Number Of The Beast, time and space and universes, Barsoom and Oz, Sliders with sex, we need utopias, solar punk, green shoots away from this grim dark, post apocalyptic story, Netflix, lots and lots of science fiction and almost all post-apocalyptic, zombies, an anarchist take on a post apocalyptic story, Doctor Bloodmoney, dog eat dog vs. human eat horse, a thing for horsemeat, another thing for the rhetorizer, Horselover, why is he murdering the horses?, Confessions Of A Crap Artist, weird conspiracy theories, another meta observation, pseudo-science magazines, a Dianetics scene, a misfit, the competent man stuff, his answers are all wrong, interesting in their absence, there’s no explosion, not acceptable for a film, that’s not the problem he’s interested in, true wub!

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #524 – AUDIOBOOK: The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #524 – The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick, read by Gregg Margarite.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (2 Hours 47 Minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox.org. The Variable Man was first published in Space Science Fiction, September 1953.

We will discuss it next week.

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick from Space Science Fiction, September 1953 (pgs 6 and 7)

The Variable Man by Philip K. Dick from Space Science Fiction, September 1953 (pg 29)

Posted by Jesse Willis

Reading, Short And Deep #165 – A Message To Garcia by Elbert Hubbard

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #165

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss A Message To Garcia by Elbert Hubbard

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

A Message To Garcia was first published in The Philistine, March 1899.

Podcast feed https://sffaudio.herokuapp.com/rsd/rss

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #503 – READALONG: The Wood Beyond The World by William Morris

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #503 – Jesse and Evan Lampe talk about The Wood Beyond The World by William Morris

Talked about on today’s show:
1894/1896, novel?, fairy tale, romance, one of the first fantasy novels set in a secondary world, why people point to this, a pseudo-medieval style, very soothing, hypnotically engaged, The Magic Flute, tied to our world, utopias, many interesting connections out of this, how impressive it is, the power this book has is not in itself, J.R.R. Tolkien, modern traditional fantasy in novel length (or trilogy length), it gives fantasy its modern shape, medivale in manners and technology, “bend the knee”, George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones, re-entered the lexicon, coming from science fiction fandom, something Promethean about science fiction, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, The Return Of The King, a conservatism in fantasy, what a socialist would do with fantasy, News From Nowhere, forward looking anti-capitalism vs. backward looking anti-capitalism, radical elements, not a conservative tale, George R.R. Martin, everything that’s disgusting, George R.R. Martin is the anti-Tolkien, Tolkienesque, a little talk of war, getting into the groove, difficult but rewarding, The Night Land as Hodgson’s take on The Wood Beyond The World, dying earth, quest, Supernatural Horror In Literature, potent, old fashioned language, Thomas Malory, William Shakespeare, 600 years ago, fetishizing of strange words, bucking people off, the Wikipedia entry, Golden Walter and the maid, a goddess and a slave and a mistress, the dwarf, powers, in control of so much of the story, radicalism, a slave revolt, commute listening, Cori Samuel’s narration, the language, more time, themes he’s working with, the old coincidence formula, the only through-line is that is a book, are the bear people actually bears or are they actually people?, interbreeding, orcs, more like vikings, values, a humanoid creature, something feral, Beowulf, what’s going on in the woods, about Morris’ own life, a fascinating powerful figure, socialist, anti-capitalist, the establishment, so busy, an artist, a factory owner, newspaper, bookbinding, the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, was it easier back in those days, born into wealth, quitting jobs, his own life story, an escape from his own life story, escapist, Childhood’s End, a critique, an opting out tale, a walkaway tale, American Writers (One Hundred Pages at a Time) podcast, Frodo never wanted to leave, one of the most famous faces from the 19th century, Jane Burden, art history, the Pre-Raphaelites are not before Raphael, what didn’t they like about Raphael?, the northern renaissance, detail rules, early doctrines, studying nature attentively, attention in the places not normally given attention, eyebrows and ivy, a style, Rossetti, Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, cheating and living together in the same house, Blunt, Cosima Liszt, Richard Wagner, a social activist who wants to empower women, chapter 10, in comparison to me, all women are the same woman in this book, are you really a goddess?, the flowers start blooming, promises, not their true relationship, a really deep thinker, written as an escape, an escape from the personal displeasures of one’s own life, when socialist were claiming this was a political tract, socialist allies, the revolutionary narrative, lifestylism, veganism, a call for more broad political action, the personal, being a hobo, walk the earth, a rich merchant family, is he 70?, as young men are mostly wont, knowing how to forbear, a trusty warfellow, Langton means boring, the passing of the names backwards and forwards, Hansens are sons of Han, the poetic stuff, all poetry, all the Ls, manifest tokens, she hates him, Dad I gotta leave, his dad has been murdered by his wife’s family, a descent warrior, the traditional hero, he chooses to go back, the coincidence, a cycle of violence, the old man, very Odysseus, how did you inherit this house, empire and the cycle of violence, that old man wants Golden Walter to be his son and heir and to slay him, something going on below the surface, the Zen Buddhism of William Morris, not to give into resentment, why is the wife sour on Golden Walter, the most noble of hosts, a sad story, don’t seek out the maid, that woman, how knowst?, war breaks out among the bear people, the cyclical story, 36 chapters, pretty big for a small book, Carl is the Scandinavian word for dude, The Walking Dead, house carls, here is a man, good in a fray, rather wiser than foolish men are mostly wont, Odysseus’s men, The Odyssey, a series of scenes that allow you to interact with strangers, stealing cheese and drinking wine, the proper response to dealing with strangers, houseguests, him and his girl, the first foreigner who shows up becomes king, god and catholicism, a religious element, more like an elf than a goddess, JSTOR, down on academic stuff for academic purposes, the scaffolding, Debbie Zapata, Goodreads, quest for love, verily, “…but next I must needs tell thee of things whereof I wot, and thou wottest not.”, to wot is to know, crispy hair, naked, from a real person, crispy = curly or wavy, he louted to the lady, lout = bent, stoop, or bow, villain = bad guy (or serf), we have adopted the values of the lower upper class, an Americanism, egalitarian social relations, boss replaced master, a honorific, working class language, chief, is language separable from a class system?, dozens of different types of people, very rigid structure, poor laws, the basket of deplorables, white on white hate, redneck, hillbilly, Morris thought class was a huge problem, Friedrich Engels, visiting Iceland, a resource poor nation, guiding philosophy, in assembling News From Nowhere, how the working class are getting the shaft, the position of the police in the class system, social justice, the poorest in Scotland, they all have copies of News From Nowhere in their homes, the return to the Middle Ages, a more egalitarian time, the village, the collectivity, the slaveholders in the American South, Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, slave collars, a wedding ring as a symbol of slavery to another person, he literally leaves planet earth, as escapist as you can get, not a normal political work, about the class system, when Lovecraft was a little kid, the mad Arab Abdul Al Hazred, his superhero name, reading The Arabian Nights, as a child William Morris convinced his parents to buy him a full suit of armor, all forty of Sir Walter Scott’s books by the age of seven, absolutely bursting with ideas, Tolkien’s dwarves in The Hobbit, the Saga of the Volsungs, Gandalf, this is where it starts, Tolkien is a country gentleman, Tolkien adores the class system, “Oh Mr Frodo, sir!”, all the rich people go to the land to the west (Elysium), the movies, where you start in life effects what you’re interested in, Jon’s World by Philip K. Dick, an alternate reality, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, that same fascination for the middle ages, a race system, the idea of the “Boss”, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, the ethos of the hardworking American go-getter, thoughtlessly recreating the industrial revolution in Medieval England, we’re not slaves, The Wages Of Whiteness: Race And The Making Of The American Working Class by David R. Roediger, obsession with minstrel shows, what we think through and what we don’t think though, the Milwaukee Brewers, “problematic” team names, baseball, a course on sports history, Any Given Sunday (1999), what makes something good (the work that went into it that you don’t see), fetishizing the aesthetic, Le Morte d’Arthur, Lancelot, a super epic internal struggle, a wound that can’t heal, betrayal and atonement, the Holy Grail, Morgan Le Fay, Mordred, a bastard product of incest, traditional Hawaiian royalty, Excalibur (1981), The Well At World’s End, tough listening, webbed language, pre-television and pre-literacy word weaving, the episodic nature of The Odyssey, telling tales, coming from a real place, not a book I would recommend to everybody, a book about escaping the more serious things one does all day long, one of the busiest men ever, escape from WWI, Elfish, The Silmarillion, what that leaves out, this is all a way to escape the world, somebody named Kavanaugh, his comrades, all they’re about, a more complex person, eight hour work day, a choice that he made, why the Arts and Crafts movement, made shittly, factory jobs, intellectually, the degradation of work, scientific management, Philip K. Dick, the tinkerer or the repairman, Galactic Pot-Healer, The Hanging Stranger, the ethos of work, Henry Ford’s creation seem antithetical, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, post-scarcity, technology as a way to free us, the mental a physical connection, the horror of capitalism, Sales Pitch by Philip K. Dick, robots who replace you, Human Is, there’s nothing to do, that industrial equation, the uselessness of his job, coming from an industrial fixer, the pot was terrible, The Man In The High Castle, the jewellery making, abstract zen koan art, that tiny influence, something new created, a fantasy of escape, very important, this is the beginning, the Glimmung, you’re needed you have value, restore a cathedral, what is more epic?, so metaphorical, you can see the strivings the longings, these are not entertainments, Dick’s commercial strivings, Morris’ book was self published, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, passionate visionaries, why people point to this book, once it clicked in, James Joyce’s Ulysses, one guy’s bad day, his wife’s cheating on him during the day, humiliation, masturbating on a beach, head to feet, people having there wife cheat on them, I can’t go home so I might as well write this book.

Proserpine by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #471 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #471 – Out Of The Earth by Arthur Machen; read by Mr Jim Moon. This is an unabridged reading of the short story (21 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Mr Jim Moon.

Talked about on today’s show:
the proper pronunciation of Machen, Arthur Llewellyn Jones, Up Under The Roof by Manly Wade Wellman, apprentice journalist, The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen, The Lost Club, Reading, Short And Deep, identicals, a Hellfire Club, a big scary black book, never heard from again, a very weird story, truly as the first weird fiction author, Edgar Allan Poe, cosmicism, Mr Weird, H.P. Lovecraft, “it is this”, M.R. James, bedrock authors, Machen lived this stuff, a real-life magical society, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, W.B. Yates, a genuine mystic, landscape, in the modern world people see things on the surface and don’t apprehend the meaning, meta narrative, the interior story, so deeply framed, so nested, the hoopla surrounding The Bowmen, it’s not the story, the story is not the story, the story is the effect of the story, embarrassed by the story, a disappointment, surprisingly funny, a bit of whimsy, the early weeks of WWI, a ray of hope, taken as a genuine report from the front line, the Angel of the Mons, fighting the tide, how rumours take hold without any evidence, “snow on your boots”, reading it a straight up, a weird meta-fiction, pre-Borges, this sounds familiar, so popular, side projects, tales, stories, a meme, fascinating, how many Machens?, not a good story, T.P.’s Weekly, November 22nd, 1915, the retreat from Mons (August 1914), September 1914, six months later, weird podcasts, Tin Foil Hat Podcast, part of being an adult is being interested in the truth, conspiracy, half of capitalism, Clinton and Pizzagate, really fucked up things going on in government, punishment for plebs, a Clinton, New York child sex scandal, in the memory, it couldn’t be killed, all the letters Machen got, death threats, bottom up stories and top down stories, Russia! Russia! Russia!, collaborating or colluding, a conspiracy theorist, the person who testified who can’t be found, the Russian rumor, reports of Russian troops seen in Britain, a plague of spies, Cossacks at train stations heading south, a huge flap, a third myth, the Rape of Belgium, a rumour among German troops, resisting the invasion, buckets full of eyes, necklaces of German soldiers’ eyeballs, breasts cut off, every conceivable atrocity, a British censor on war time reports, the liars did very well, James Hayward’s Myths And Legends Of The First World War, German corpse factories, “the vile Hun”, fake news, the horrible little children, the Edwardian equivalent of the internet, into the papers in a round about fashion, how the nature of rumor and myth begins, transmitted in times of uncertainty and trouble, official news sources, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, they’re all correct, CIA infiltration of news agency [and MI5 screening of BBC], a lack of news, filling the gap with whatever they can find, the whole Russia story, 13 Russian trolls, Facebook ads, “the big gotcha moment”, the Internet Research Agency, in the business of trolling (for money), fake accounts, we have these rubes, for commercial purposes, Trump somehow helped the Russians hack the DNC servers?, borders mean nothing to the ultra-rich, puppets, Bernie-bro,

“army recruiters reported problems in explaining the origins of [WWI] in legalistic terms” hence an evolution in tactics, or different tactics for different classes, or the intellectual vs. the visceral

posters from 1914 and 1918

Seventy years ago your great-grandfathers and their great-grandfathers signed a document that made certain guarantees about Belgium’s neutrality.

vs.

Remember when the Germans raped their way through Belgium

this was Pearl Harbor!, why this story is so relevant, the thing that is the story, a powerful point about war, Morgan the childlike man, Castle Coch, the Red Keep, read about Belgium, and think they could haven been more than five or six years old, they were to ear what slime is to the touch, blasphemies struck like blows, a swarm of noise-some creatures, children with old men’s faces, one paragraph, Morgan to dream of Avalon, to purge himself of the fuming corruption of the streets, is this a true story?, places that are deprived and poor, the underwolves, super-predators, the Central Park five, seven fold increase in prison population, harvesting slaves, whatever new drug it is, top down or bottom up, moral panics, juvenile delinquents, hoodies, chavs, thuggish people, picked up by politicians, class war, welfare is for crack and knives, mainstream news, rock and roll, Beatles records, video nasties, horror comics, Dungeons & Dragons, video game violence, Trayvon Martin, manipulate the facts, the funny children, is Machen starting another story?, this is how I make this stuff up, the myth of the JD (juvenile delinquent), teddy boys, rockers, mods, a Bank Holiday British tradition, Quadrophenia, arguments about-for-and-against education, bad seeds, evil children, The Midwich Cuckoos, teenage hoodlums, Graham Greene’s The Destructors, free rides, sticking it to the man, sense of power, community centers, midnight basketball, psychology, the irresistible impulse to knock over a house of cards, the impulse for destruction, they just came in from Siberia, a train ride from Scotland, the British, Americans, and Canadians invade Siberia to try to reverse the Russian Revolution, The Sandbaggers, the rumour becomes the reality, wanting to believe the legend, not caring about evidence, fossilized in this story, what Robert E. Howard calls the little people, elves and trolls and gremlins, from fantasy to fake news, fake fairies, a strange new power, The Novel Of The Black Seal, The Novel Of The White Powder, Panther paperback, terrible cruel dwarf elves, the horror of war, he took a long time to get there, what’s this mention of Belgium, the worst swearword known in the galaxy, a weird momentum, the story has to keep replicating, the introduction to The Bowmen And Other Stories, the answer of course is in the question, struggles in truth in news, false, the seedbed for new conspiracy theories, official unknown sources, trying to fill dead air, Mr Jim Moon’s Folklore On Friday articles, Krampus, absolute bullshit, Mr Jim Moon’s shows on Halloween, the received wisdom is always wrong, a new dark age, perceiving reality, where this story is set, who’s saying it, there are so many narrators, real places, Glastonbury Tor, Morgan le Fay, the myth of Avalon seems to be a bottom up story, Geoffrey Of Monmouth, Mallory, John Boorman’s Excalibur, a gel filter, the land of the fairy, Morgan le Fay is she has sex with her half brother, Mordred is killed by Arthur, Arthur is wounded and goes to the island of Avalon where he is healed by his sister and the mother of his child, how you get out of the horror of the Belgian horror, internecine war, the Kaiser and the Czar hugging each other.

propaganda evolution in WWI

The Angels Of The Mons

Posted by Jesse Willis