The SFFaudio Podcast #543 – The Defenders by Philip K. Dick; read by Gregg Margarite. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Marissa Vu, Evan Lampe and Terence Blake
Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, January 1953, self-submitted, H.L. Gold, Ed Emshwiller, 100 Pages Of At A Time episode 6 of the Philip K. Dick book club, The Penultimate Truth, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, Deus Irae, different themes, the only idea that survives, different argument, a purity to The Defenders, a fable, monologues from robots, normalized, sitting with the idea, watching a short film (or television episode) vs. a film, participating in a different way, he’s retelling Plato’s The Myth Of The Cave, dwelling, a fundamental point, page 12, Taylor nodded, the peep slot, a world where no life could exist, bullshit, the story doesn’t fit, what Taylor is thinking, under the delusion, that’s fake, camouflage, still eating the blue pill, the red pill, the most famous modern reworking of Plato’s cave: The Matrix (1999), Philip K. Dick’s omniscient narration is complicit, how newspapers work, I don’t think that’s true, truth bombs, fake news, in its pure state, a slot in a lead wall, Russians pasted in Moscow, that’s CNN, the newspaper, and its all fake, epistemology, externalizing the internal, initial thoughts, the media, Dick’s first comment on the media, why they seem so different, it’s humans who use these leadies as serfs, exploiting those on the bottom, assholes or not, smashing human nature to get to some kind of utopia, humans exploiting humans, seeing The Penultimate Truth as a sequel to The Defenders, those on the outside are exploiting those on the inside, a mature and sophisticated version of Isaac Asimov’s robots, loopholes, caretakers for mankind’s spaces while they get their shitty ideas out of their heads, Philip K. Dick grew up during WWII, how this story starts off, reading the newspaper, homeopapes, everything’s getting shittier, the quality of the paper goes down, happy to get any paper, you can’t complain, a delight and a reminder, a conflict within Taylor, pro pro-war, the public persona, otherwise you’re a traitor, the radio drama adaptation differences, forbidden romance, there’s no daughter, there’s a wife, the role of the wife, the a-level robot, Mary is more evolved, us against them, the next step up before universal solidarity, how Dick’s wives appear in these stories, a minor antagonist to the main character, Misadjustment, she seems to get in the way, an annoyance, feeding back to Dick’s relationships, you shouldn’t be so bitter, once you go up there, he was shocked, at the breakfast table with his newspaper and his coffee, this whole thing is fake, if you go out to that shack…, god! it’s true!, you’re going to lose your mind, don’t believe the robots, the robots are under a delusion about humanity, fatigue and disinterest, a utopia as a homogenous culture, identical laws, one ID card for every America, a steady state, if everything is Microsoft, war is better than one user log-in, Asimov’s psychohistory, the robots have humanity wrong, a telling of Nick Bostrum, AI, the paperclip problem, make people happy = take control of our minds (horribly), perverse interpretation, Elon Musk’s fear of AI, AI’s not the boogeyman, one of the Scooby Doo gang, logic tree, that’s no thing to fear, I Am Mother (2019), decanting zygotes, regular skeptical Jesse, 15,000 days later, this is not the first kid, sometimes they just don’t care about shit like that, can liquid nitrogen make glass more brittle?, if you’re paying attention to the details of a story…, humans are so fucking stupid, failing ethical exams, the Russian fox experiment, Moon (2009), low budget science fiction good stuff, Philip K. Dick is wrong, they can lie but they can’t kill, the Asimov defect, weakening the second law, ruthlessness, the long-winded a-level robot, to order the lives of human beings, stories are three levels (vs. adaptations as two levels), a virtual reality game, illusion vs. the truth, not-a, working out what it would mean if you say this…, the three laws are laws for people, what is an order?, an urgent request, guides for moral behavior, lying as more acceptable than killing, they’re whole interactions are one big lie, all the little lies, their ends justify the means, when you change who it is and what they’re relationship is to others you see a change in the meanings of the words, four Russian soldiers, bender-pistols, slem-gun, all men, some more humans hatch out, their wormholes, in the radio drama, can we get married and have babies?, repopulating the Earth, her enemy, not Russians (Asians), a female as the lead changes the tone, its about reproduction, what motherhood means, sometimes she’s scary and sometimes she kind, a nod to Blade Runner, the dog as a figment of her imagination, the relationship humans have to pets, putting down pets vs. putting down humans, fur-babies, not our servants and not our masters, like Sky-Net but overly motherly, it’s all about power relations, the robots manipulate in a kind of a chess game, interesting stuff, trying to create empathy (or foster it) using anti-empathetic means, a great reversal, do the robots wither away?, keep a watch out?, eight years, faking the news, they become slaves again, The Zap Gun aka Project Plowshare, straight out of the newspapers, we need to take the weapons of war and turn them into the tools of peace, materiel, DC-4s as civilian transport aircraft, letting the humans become exhausted, something to this, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Supernova In The East, there was no stopping the Japanese empire, cultural zeal for expansion, a feudal society to an industrial power, all throughout the bureaucracy, how much terror and horror happened in WWII, within Japan, getting weary, let’s tire of this war, Afghanistan’s war doesn’t tire, Taylor is starting to feel it, he’s a writer in the novel, the rhetorizer, a new artioforg liver, the Yance-man, such a great Cold War story, its all in the open in The Zap Gun, the chosen consumer, a brilliant way, magazines about weapons, obsessed with war, a gun nut, all the needs are being met (all without war), Steen cares about this sort of stuff, the cost of F-35s is always going up, F-16s, F-18s, F-14s, f-15, $89.2 million each, the history of firearms, the M-16 vs. the AK-47, doing it out in the open, the M-1 Abrams tanks, there hasn’t been a tank battle since Iraq War I, A-10s, its all done out in the open, people don’t care, how much you exhaust in war production, how far the British Empire fell after WWII, they gave away the whole empire on a point of pride, British rationing (until 1956 not the 1960s), the 1990s Outer Limits episodes, robots with a utopian vision, a reactionary coup, the robot will fill in for you, replacing the father, reimposing the patriarchal family, Sales Pitch, tehcnology changes the attitudes of people, now we can go to space again, obsessed with the frontier as an escape, a reactionary agenda, Family Values, =lull=, annoying Evan, just to displease you, the pink light is the leady without radioactivity, discovering the beautiful world of love and empathy, the VALIS experience, a literal incarnation, our world is fake, the danger of a new dogmatic illusion, the commander, just an observer, breaking through the veil, until there’s a rooster crowing, Franks, explaining what the Soviet Union was, page 8, ascending out of the Tom Mix vault, Moss nodded, the stage trap, the idea of a stage, all the world’s a stage for them, those city videos, all the reports, all the samples, reverse Westworld, playing along, the horrible world, workers were everywhere, the labor corps, slaves, build V-2 rockets, what’s life like for regular folk in this world?, the stage was deafening with noise, rock and lead, lead and rock, a description of what’s going on on the surface of the Earth, what it’s like in the North Pacific right now, a lethal desert of slag, the red sun, something metallic stirred, constructed with feverish haste, the hellscape we get in Second Variety, the mine, the claws, the hellscape of The Terminator future, infiltrators covered with real human flesh!, all fake, a lot of interesting play, afraid of the stages, scary, our own minds looking out at the universe from our own senses, page 10, indirect evidence, a smell-o-printer, a VR one, blasting heat at your face, simulation, I don’t see reality as it is…, proprioception, our world in reality, the homunculus issue, Men In Black, sweeping all the problems into that little man, the leadies as senses, let’s test that idea again, we’re being lied to about reality, deep down its a really interesting science fiction, science, epistemology story, where are the c-class leadies?, taking care of the water-mains, their in the narrative rooms, how they make mistakes in the propaganda, forgetting to bathe the representatives in radioactives, making apologies, trying to protect the humans, the truncated first law.
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!
The 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.