The SFFaudio Podcast #569 – READALONG: The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #569 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, and Will Emmons talk about The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Talked about on today’s show:
The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, Of Men And Monsters, in the shower, bins full of books, homework, no ending coming, the ending was a beginning, a solid ending, absurd in a bleak way, a stinger in the tail, mocking and doing a genre, collection of William Tenn short stories, the William Tenn model of story, absurdist, satirizing, frustrated expectations, Eastward, Ho , The Liberation Of Earth, this dying Earth, a metaphor for Africa, allegory, why he isn’t known as a novelist, to sustain a novel, an overarching belief in something, humans are fucking ridiculous, early on the web, a RealAudio stream, On Venus, Have We Have A Rabbi!, not a word different, “Priests, For Their Learning”, I’ll grow up fast, “Soldiers, For Their Valor”, literally takes place in the next step, “Counselors, For Their Wisdom”, 1000% confidence, William Shakespeare, Tenn taught English for a living, to Sheila Solomon Klass, this place of salvation, a quote from Gulliver’s Travel, “the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth”, the land of the giants, a perfect fit, wholly new, puts them in their place, many ancestors to this book, The War Of The Worlds, how any one virtue is require for procurement of any one virtual, cockroaches or mice?, aspiring to the greatness of roaches, things completely outside humanity, the torture room, we’re all monsters, this book is very subversive, a cool idea, only 128 people are left, other tribes of mankind, he knows exactly what he’s doing, torturing these monsters is fine (because they’re not human), oh jeez, naive character, not a great book, misquote the quoter, Of Men And Monsters, easier to grasp, harder, Of Mice And Men, the institution vs the individual, trusting institutions, walking around the factory floor with long hair, your uncle your brother your sister your friend, people will be kind to you, Lenny and the other guy, their relationship, the labouring farm, a lecherous dude, a lecherous lady, navigable relationships, it ends in tragedy, Eric is our dumb character, the way of the world, slowly disabused of that, his uncle was also a fool, its not just we need a new king, government can’t help you really kid, I have no answers for you kid, the answer for Lenny, institutionalizing anything, it can’t care, summarizing Jesse’s point, the idea of the inhumanity of institutions juxtaposed to the human relationships we can have, put a cap on your hairs’ too long, capitalism, migrant labourers, mental handicap, he kills a woman, stop touching the rabbits, stop squeezing the ladies to death, Eric The Only, Eric The Eye, Eric The Outlaw, the church, the government, we can’t trust these human relationships either, about my vanity, folly, all the different tribes hate each other except for their leaders, it’s our planet buddy, a quietist tract, Man is alone in the world, as a young person, a product of his society, a statement about the society he is in, this is their mythology, a Harry Potter type character, destined to learn, smart enough eventually, try not be a roach anymore, H.P. Lovecraft’s The Rats In The Walls, humans to aliens, roaches to humans, a delicious scene, spending a lot of time analyzing what the aliens are thinking, sprayed by roach spray, hold your breath, count for 500 and run, a hissing whistling sound, a bed for the aliens, played the other way, his whole embarrassment in life is that he’s an only child, his only shame in life, mate with many wives and have massive litters, litters of puppies and kittens and mice and rats, pinkies, the most inhuman thing, mankind has changed, multiple babies at the same time, he’s a throwback, two three is common (up to six), wider hips?, the pill is a thing, restraining the pumping out of babies, over five litters two of them of maximum size, biologically possible but relatively rare, parthenogenesis, making twinning more common, fraternal or identical, old men at twenty, humans modified by a distant change, the religion and creed is pathetic and ridiculous, especially absurd groups of people, the national grouping is like a plains Indian thing, the people, so much worldbuilding here, restricted to Eric’s point of view, a very strange snapshot of the real world, Adam-Troy Castro: ‘imaginative and often witty simple and schematic nobody interesting not even the hero’, William Tenn was not a writer for writers, he was a writer gifted with writing but cursed with the knowledge of how humanity actually is, give ideas, he’s not supposed to be interesting, a traditional writer, I wanna be a writer, characters have to have motivation, what if we had the relationship that we have to ants, how would that go?, we lost Will, what’s wrong with that, Jo Walton, played for laughs, wryly and exclusively Tenn, not funny, but emotionally satisfying, it teaches you something, satisfying in a sense, feature not bug, the first line is a lie, two layers with that title, presented with facts and they’re subverted, how ->*”primitive”*<- people live, where everybody is a generalist, ridiculous leaders, executed or in prison, protests like you see in France or Hong Kong, everybody has to come out, classifying the kind of society, a hunter gatherer society, a social structure of mankind, hierarchy, make sure the food is edible, strange religious customs, cynically implemented, "a primitive people", somebody thought up agriculture, a post agricultural society, fascinating world-building, a hole at the bottom of the wall, alien food, the high absurdity is at is peak, the curtain is drawn away for us, a VCR with random buttons, ads for capitalism, two airplanes crash, a sale on cameras and a light meter, unthinking all hormones, sex with the ladies, being respected by his peers, did my dad have sex with other women because that'd be great if he did?, an inversion, oh my god BASTARD, the malleability of humans, how to take the pain, forced by circumstances into having his own thoughts about how to maybe run his life, forced into consciousness, a relevant book, a lot of people are vegans these days, projecting our own feelings into animals, it can be a pathology, not as obvious a trap, another kind of religion, we're trapped in the same way that Thomas Ligotti is saying we're trapped, a pitiable and curious state of mankind, personality and character rather than a presentment of the facts, Monty Python, Life's a piece of shit when you think of it, depressing and terrible but very accurate, am destiny story, all men are men, whatever magic, ancestor magic, he's the ONLY ONE, making only a good one, are we moving back, the idea of positioning, trying to relate it to mice, nesting in the spaces you aren’t, trees are fucking cold you don’t want to be in a tree, jars with lids, we crush them, Eric lives in the kitchen/bedroom, they have furniture, food, roach spray, one of them damn roaches again, and mysteriously everybody died, if its a depressing idea its a problem with the reader’s attitude, the novel is actually uplifting, deeply aesthetically satisfying (and upsetting on some level), the absurd reality of some man’s life, a sequel coming, a 1963 magazine, in Galaxy Magazine, the non-ephemeral nature of the paperback, if you didn’t get it that month you’ll never get it again, a physical copy of this book, a token of an achievement, a magazine feels like a newspaper, a childish way of looking at it, I’m not sure I can trust my sense, A Lamp From Medusa, a classic for our time, putting it in a package, a life of republication, what makes something a classic for the ages?, “Jesse, Moby-Dick‘s a famous book”, this novella was a classic of science fiction?, its not famous, a lost classic of science fiction, Richie Rich and Casper stuff…, so much going on in a short period of time, not a word wasted, fight for inclusion in a canon of anthropological science fiction, what is society, why do people do the things that we do, how do we know the things we know?, it keeps us sharp, received morality, the banality of evil, they did the crime so they need to do the time, abuse heaped up prisoners, that’s how the institution works, a layer was being peeled from your eye every few pages, my uncle’s not a hero?, we’re going to go into space!, an alternate interpretation, getting Eric out of the way, betrayed!, the French Revolution, restore the French monarchy, human science for humans, everything feeds into my podcast, The Penny Dreadfuls, The Brothers Faversham, satarizing everything, Richard E. Grant, The Scarlet Pimpernel, a proto-superhero, Maximilien Robespierre, how dare you!, why it came to this, why The Terror is happening, he didn’t have time for my speech, all of this farce of what caused the French Revolution, to take the other’s point of view as it is vs. the reality as we’ve framed it, the three estates, all three equal, choppin’ off heads is a good idea, once you get started breaking norms…, the effects of the French Revolution are still being felt, the Russian Revolution, the new word “adversary”, what the fuck you talking about, they like food and they enjoy TV, the button that Tenn is pressing, we like it a lot, a more obscure one, he’s a good writer and he’s got a nice sense of irony, a modern science fictional version of Jonathan Swift, slightly different from Robert Sheckley, slightly different from Douglas Adams, the broad brush, my loins are particularly tasty I’ve been fattening myself up, a Mark Twain-ness, this would make a really good audio drama, the sense of the big and the small, Oh, I’d really like to become a man, oooh she’s sexy, I hope somebody adapts it for an audio drama, Philip Jose Farmer, deeply sincere fictional beliefs, Will has that sense of humour, Phil Chenevert does a lot of Conan, he’s more whimsical, he’s is the naive light and fluffy, he’s perfect for this, The Slithering Shadow, a perfect Robert E. Howard voice, characterizing the writing as a gender, a combination of sensuousness and tooth and claw, perfectly attuned to Phil Chenevert’s voice, we’re laughing along, Donald E. Westlake’s The Spy In The Elevator.

Of Monsters And Men - Boris prelim

Of Men And Monsters by William Tenn, 1968 paperback illustration by Stephen Miller

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #568 – AUDIOBOOK: The Men In The Walls by William Tenn

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #568 – The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, read by Phil Chenevert.

This UNABRIDGED AUDIOBOOK (3 hours 36 minutes) comes to us courtesy of LibriVox. The Men In The Walls was first published in Galaxy, October 1963.

The next SFFaudio Podcast will feature our discussion of it!

The Men In The Walls by William Tenn illustration by Virgil Finlay

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #560 – READALONG: Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #559 – Jesse, Marissa VU, and Terence Blake talk about Day Million by Frederik Pohl.

Talked about on today’s show:
a panel on the New Wave, reading the New Wave, stuck in Jesse’s craw, against movements, cyberpunk, that one William Gibson book, steampunk, as it was happening, H.L. Gold, Galaxy Magazine, John W. Campbell, Analog, not that, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, the label science fiction or fantasy, a reaction, quite impressed, really casual, the way it is written, the plot is pathetic, so meta, SF Impulse, mathematically wrong, 10,000 years from now, 1,000 years, the year 3,000, he’s describing 2019 or 1966, he met a girl and took her phone number, copyright 1966 by Rogue Magazine, a sub-Playboy, all the meta-stuff, just I guy who likes boobs, the whole thing is about sex, a direct injection of ideas, a little red convertible, how angrily you recoil from the page, who wants to read about a pair of queers, so innovative, transgender folks that are pronouns that aren’t male or female, the 1980s, born in 1919, sums up all of the issues we won’t care about, just getting used to the idea, 2012 review, what makes it feel old and dated, dude-bro, the dude-bros are back, the dude-bro phenomenon, click around on YouTube, all sorts of people, anti-gay sentiment from totally gay, women are all about peace, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Dick Cheney’s daughter, this dude whose reading a girlie magazine, interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1981, trending, a phenomenon, the last hurrah, the narrator is criticizing you, everytime there’s an objection, on this way I want to tell you about, a boy a girl and a love-story, none of it is true, undercuts, 137 years old, not a girl, the urge to rape and the urge to submit, psychology, a pedagogical lesson in what SF is, poignant sentiment, it sounds sarcastic and full of cliches, beginning with a hyperbole, just before the singularity, present day concerns, silly requirements long since left behind, the end, Spider Robinson’s podcast on this story, permission to read, what very well may be the ultimate science fiction short story, a lot of competition, edging out a lot of the competitors, more interesting, an introduction to science fiction, Robert Silverberg’s Science Fiction 101, a terrible story

And you—with your aftershave lotion and your little red car, pushing papers across a desk all day and chasing tail all night—tell me, just how the hell do you think you would look to Tiglath-Pileser, say, or Attila the Hun?

boom, he dropped the mic, and walked away saying “I just showed you what science fiction is, yo.”, whisky, shaving everyday, everybody’s all beardy, ride horses and subdue cities, a man sits behind a desk, he bbqs stakes in the back yard, that is fucking weird, some of it is preposterous, the most normal stuff, VR stuff, personality copying, prosthetics, cavities filled, rude parts removed, organs, a new wave retelling of Scanners Live In Vain, Pohl fell in love with Cordwainer Smith, stacking up the famous science fiction writers, eventually you would get to Pohl, he was there the whole time, the opposite of Campbell’s movement, writing and editing magazines, he didn’t do the Moon Landing, with Cyril Kornbluth he wrote The Space Merchants, the Senator from Proctor And Gable, a book for millennials, sleeping on the stairs, near death of capitalism, a near singularity story, Don and his voyages, circled Alpha Centuri, agricultural implements, 10,000 planets, but you don’t care about that either, its people who make stories, making a concession, science fiction has no real characters or character development, full of circumstances, he’s mocking the reader, double meta reverse irony, you think I’m crazy, that part is boring, it doesn’t deliver what the readers want, oh my god, he’s right!, you don’t understand your place, there just different, offhand comments, you might be thinking about, they didn’t care, Dora is a dancer, the audience doesn’t care, you can’t make babies with her, that’s not natural, he responds to every dude-bro idea, “No”, I still don’t like it, Jesse’s two personalities, natural is good bullshit, everything is difference and everything is change, the smell of peanut butter, that she’s got a pelt, lives under the sea, gills, zero-g dancer, capable of deploying more energy that Portugal in a year, she doesnt sweat in the normal way, she’s up to peanut butter, musky honey, she’s more like a beaver or an otter, a platypus, he’s cranching all the time, getting his legs renewed, only the brain feels, the top tier of the middle class, the ads, an MG roadster, tennis rackets, cigars, cars, turtlenecks, a men’s fashion magazine, even the title, he gets about, a naughty wink wink, an aspirational lifestyle magazine, a tame rascal, Dude, Where’s My Car?, The Hangover, hipsters WWII veterans, the many many anthology, Worlds Of Wonder, not for an audience that’s familiar with SF, for the thinking man who has boobs, the cover illustration for SF Impulse, a human female near the horizon, are you guys seeing what I’m seeing, those calypgean hips = nice ass, she has a tail, not literally childbearing, Podkayne Of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein, conceived earlier and decanted later, birthing technology, plausibility, you can’t gill people up anytime soon, beyond the singularity for Jesse, birth control pills changed things a real fuckton, PROFOUND EFFECTS upon everything, thinking about science fiction as NOT about rocketships going to planets, incredibly valuable, its not supposed to be hard SF, an interesting shift, we could have sex for fun, how is this going to go, Robert Silverberg’s Dying Inside, a mid-life crisis book, lets dwell with this idea, quite an interesting book, it feels like mainstream fiction, what effect would that have?, he can do whatever he wants, like a crutch…, there’s one person who had a cellphone that’s connected to the internet we have but his battery is getting weaker and weaker, you don’t know how to fix it, imagine you had that superpower for 40 years, and that’s science fiction, everything you know that you think is normal I’m cutting away, all the ground falls out from under you, more Buck Rogery style of story, nobody was writing it at that time, but it was translating into film, once you need Day Million in 1985…, a secret sin, science fiction as the literature of cognitive estrangement, it is but not what you expect, the tears and poignant sentiment, it made her feel sad, intensity of emotion, just their memories of each other, they’re not really human anymore, maybe dying earth, the death of humanity, post-human stories, I don’t get you, a couple texting, c u next time, being unable to understand, an ant on Jesse’s kitchen floor doesn’t know what Jesse’s doing in the next room, magnitude, an ant can’t understand a flea, singularities cropping, we’re not supposed to be able to understand, when the curve suddenly changes direction, artificial intelligence, deciding to give up peanut butter, record it for LibriVox, The Men In The Walls by William Tenn, what the people who were talking, Mankind consisted of 128 people, so vast a horde, sometime ago Earth was invaded by aliens, vast their huge their massive, humans as rats in walls of aliens houses, that change of magnitude, not only in time, an incommunicable difference, Virgil Finlay illustrations, dude, podcast, that’s the one, we can do that then, Of Men And Monsters, even if you’re the only thing in the universe, copies copulating with other copies, they need to meet each other, they met at the encoding room and they blushed, do they have to do it to tape it, making a digital copy of themselves, kids today, looking at their phones lovingly, all that sensory detail with them, they have friends too, passion of kiss in symbolic mathematical form, a residue of flesh or body, supercomputer tinder, when they lived in Seattle with a bunch of friends and dating with OK Cupid, a traditional Hollywood Meet Cute, oh shit vs oh hell, the exhibition has an open fly, balls you say vs rats you say, everything is virtual, dose of fleshiness, masterfully put together, Jesse feels to privileged, that wasn’t universally true, a story from Weird Tales called Pity Me! by Bertha Russell, in 1928, an old man who gets his jollies from having sex with dead bodies, she came back to life, how could this be?, this does not fit, 1920s flappers, great grandma and great grandpa were swingers, “problematic”, losing their jobs, they published that?, have you met a 15 year old, no matter where you go you find humans in time, comforting, they’re just like us but their circumstances are different, that big gap, what the publishing industry is putting out, whatever I’ve been reading recently will inform the plots, whatever you put in you’ll get out, if you only prime yourself science fiction novels you’ll get science fiction novels, read widely, watching science fiction TV and want to write a novel, new drafts coming in, the camera is panning in around things, a new phenomenon too, comics that are written as adaptation to Netflix, the art’s good, designed to be adapted as a Netflix series, what’s new this week, so many show there is no way to keep track, you could never catch up, feeding that hunger mill, all the competition for Netflix is starting this month and next and next year [2020], 40 other shows to buy that day, sometimes that works, give me your most innovative story, he was editor of Galaxy and If: Worlds On Science Fiction, playing to the market, being terrible, they say Netflix on the side, a mill aspect, what the reaction of the New Wave is against, Algis Budrys, regular science fiction of the 30s and 40s and 50s, a monetary currency that had been debased, a bunch of tropes that were all worn out, telepathy, Ray Bradbury would use that same vocabulary and do his own thing with it, Heinleinian style Asimovian stlye, more internal, one human being failing, taking drugs on a ship, Charles Stross, a human observer, Ted Chiang, hermeneutics,

Martel was angry. He did not even adjust his blood away from anger. He stamped across the room by judgment, not by sight. When he saw the table hit the floor, and could tell by the expression on Luci’s face that the table must have made a loud crash, he looked down to see if his leg were broken. It was not. Scanner to the core, he had to scan himself. The action was reflex and automatic. The inventory included his legs, abdomen, Chestbox of instruments, hands, arms, face and back with the Mirror. Only then did Martel go back to being angry. He talked with his voice, even though he knew that his wife hated its blare and preferred to have him write.

“I tell you, I must cranch. I have to cranch. It’s my worry, isn’t it?”

When Luci answered, he saw only a part of her words as he read her lips: “Darling … you’re my husband … right to love you … dangerous … do it … dangerous … wait ….”

He faced her, but put sound in his voice, letting the blare hurt her again: “I tell you, I’m going to cranch.”

set in the same universe, the 1950s housewife, the other Cordwainer Smith story, The Lady Who Sailed The Soul, explain a photograph to a neanderthal, our way of seeing telepathy, we know what they’re thinking, accessible to the inner eye, a perfect reproduction, captures a moment, what difference does it make, everything is fantasy, everything out in the world is projection, fighting in a Battle Royale for a Chicken Dinner, romantic relationships can be…, the encoding room, their friends were there to cheer them on, are the friends physically there?, he’s a star man, on Wednesday, he takes all his friends with him, like Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi?, over there there’s Ben Kenobi, how much is virtual is ambiguous, I saw you on the bus you dropped your glasses, are you looking for me?, never lose those interactions, your ex-wife never becomes your ex-wife, and husbanded, the only thing we’re almost sure of, totally programmed world, atoms all fall down, all the rest could be 100% virtual, sometimes the requirements of the human need for storytelling requires a certain page count, two sentence long story, what day is it?, Day Million, that’s not the way we count, tweaking his audience’s nose, his tongue is firmly planted, these things are coming faster, in your lifetime, the sexy version is “Night Million”, how many words, wordcounter.net, all these things we couldn’t do before except by hand, 2,122 words, 2,500 words, a very cynical view of relationships, that dating farce, the instinct to submit, kinda crass, no chasing, too animal, it really changes things for women, the Vanderbilt on CNN (Anderson Cooper), he comes from billionaire stock, billionaire DNA, gay bath houses and sex sex sex, a very straight gay man, “c’mon man”, the BC Civil Liberties Association, always suing the border customs guys, somebody at the border, philosophy of law, the gay bathhouse phenomenon in Toronto, homosexual men don’t have to worry about babies, as much sex as they want, imagine if women if women don’t need to have babies, as many husbands as they want, it does change the female psychology, females are scarce, get the equipment or marry somebody, it really changes things, you all have to start acting like gay men, the numbers of transitioners, more modest?, more randy?, gay bathouse men from the 1970s, men now living in a woman’s world, modifying their behavior, how people are externally treating them, the whole phenomenon of Saudi Arabia, women in the middle ages in Europe, we gotta keep that all locked down, the whole chastity belt, you can do a lot without electricity,

SF Impluse - Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Stellar Audio - Day Million by Frederik Pohl

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #496 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #496 – Jesse, Scott Danielson, and Paul Weimer talk about new books, audiobooks, and audio drama.

Talked about on today’s show:
a full size show, paperbooks, audiobooks newly released, stacking on desks and shelves, books a week, piling up, send me stuff season, a tonne of books being published, everybody needs publicity, organized by publisher, St. Martin’s Press, advanced readers copy, Deep Silence by Jonathan Maberry, Joe Ledger, Julie Davis, mail it to Julie, Julie’s reviews on Goodreads, a prolific reviewer, Maze Master by Kathleen O’Neal Gear, techno-thriller, retro virus, Coldfall Wood by Steven Saville, Henre The Hunter, William Shakespeare, haunting the forest outside of Windsor Castle, how to organize, piles, too many to read, Shaun Duke, Tor.com, three novellas, Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett, The Running Man (by Stephen King), The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djèlí Clark, The Black God’s Drums, The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe by Kij Johnson, Irene Gallo, H.P. Lovecraft, The Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford, a novella, are they listening to my podcast, William Morrow, Ahab’s Return, Or The Last Voyage, the premise of Moby-Dick, The Coode Street Podcast, the best of the year so-far, All Systems Red by Martha Wells, Harper Voyager, Dragonshadow by Elle Katharine White, A Study In Honor by Claire O’Dell, near future SF, civil war, a great cover, 11 hours, a mystery, world-building, a series, Temper by Nicky Drayden, similar to South Africa, twins, 14 hours, evocative of the works of…, annoying Jesse, everything in the kitchen sink, Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, And The Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee, 1,300 newly released audiobooks, when SFFaudio Podcast started, drowning in books both good and bad, moving product, no way to keep up, a podcast listener, Tantor Audio, Blackstone Audio, The Best Of Subterranean edited by William Shaffer, Ursula K. Le Guin’s collected short fiction, The Way Of The Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca, all-paladin-like, The Silver Scar by Betsy Dornbusch, Boulder, Colorado, post-apocalyptic Earth, The Tomorrow Factory, Pinnacle City, The Rising Moon, The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts, The Things, The Island, Blindsight, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, Who?, totally do-able, Planet Stories, March 1953 by William Tenn, Gardner F. Fox, Robert Moore Williams, Ross Rocklynne, Radio Archives, the height of the science fiction magazine era, the plateau, a great way to spend six hours, Archangel by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, audio drama, time travel, WWII, alternate future and past, Welcome to Dystopia: 45 Visions of What Lies Ahead edited by Gordon Van Gelder, stories by K.G. Anderson, Richard Bowes, Elizabeth Bourne, Scott Bradfield, J.S. Breukelaar, Jennifer Marie Brissett, Becca Caccavo, Don D’Ammassa, Stephanie Feldman, Eric James Fullilove, Ron Goulart, Eileen Gunn, Leslie Howle, Matthew Hughes, Janis Ian, Michael Kandel, Thomas Kaufsek, Paul La Farge, Yoon Ha Lee, Michael Libling, Heather Lindsley, Lisa Mason, Barry N. Malzberg, David Marusek, Mary Anne Mohanraj, James Morrow, Ruth Nestvold, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Marguerite Reed, Robert Reed, Madeleine E. Robins, Jay Russell, Geoff Ryman, James Sallis, J.M. Sidorova, Brian Francis Slattery, Harry Turtledove, Deepak Unnikrishnan, TS Vale, Leo Vladimirsky, Ray Vukcevich, Ted White, Paul Witcover, N. Lee Wood, Jane Yolen, dystopia, A Choice Of Gods by Clifford D. Simak, a lot of Simak from Audible Studios, the central intelligence of the universe, Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton, John Lee, Tantor Audio, Tamahome, how do you write that much?, Neal Stephenson, this thing called the internet, when does he sleep?, children’s fantasy novels, in 25 years he’s written 15 (BIG) books, short stories too, a prodigious output, The HPLHS adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft stories are on Audible, CDs vs. props, separate props, the deluxe editions, printed ephemera, Tantor.com, Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, the full KSR experience, The Invincible by Stanisław Lem, everybody needs a little Lem, The Cyberiad, Dichronauts by Greg Egan, Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, Maissa Bessada, with a parasite, changing the laws of physics, not meant for audio, a very Greg Egan trick, review like mad, podcasts, Wooden Overcoats, a comedy on a Channel Island, rival funeral homes, narrated by a mouse, quite delightful, The Monster Hunters, a Marvel Comics audio drama, Wolverine: The Long Hunt, full of ads, is it worth it? tell Jesse, sort of X-Files-y, Serial Box podcast, worth a listen for horror fans,

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #454 – READALONG: The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #454 – Jesse, Scott, Paul, and Steen talk about The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

Talked about on today’s show:
1987, God!, Blood Music, Eon, Jesse’s finnicky tastes, Jesse’s purity test, three years before, the peak of his career, making money and trying to be mainstream, near the peak, that whole weird phase (techno-CIA thrillers), it had a profound effect upon Scott, no such thing as spoiler territory, just profound, the only good end of Earth story, a lot like 2012 (2009), a bunch of theories, Maissa Bessada, WWI (actually WWII) pilot, Group Captain Sir Douglas Robert Steuart Bader: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”, Strange Exodus by Robert Abernathy, the false story, the parasites, the cinder cone, good steal!, The Hitch-hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, political problems, how dated the politics is in the sense of the president, to impeach the president for being incompetent, part of the point, what has a point at all?, our most powerful person in the world is worse than useless, fantasies of competence, the 2006 Wordlcon in Los Angeles, “Bear, Benford, and Brin (and Vinge)”, very self-satisfied, consulted by the “higher ups”, they got tricked in the same way Dan Carlin got tricked, their consultation was of no inherent interest, Joe Rogan, the CENTCOM conference, shake the hand of the orange doofus, in awe of the room, all of them are frauds, just guys who got elected to a certain job, the problem is he has no power, is it OK to talk about religion on this show?, the “moms” are essentially a kind of god, machines saved us, machines all the way out, a real robot pretending to be biological, Doctor Who, Aliens Of London, When Worlds Collide is an antidote to this book, a different take, “competence porn”, the reference to Larry Niven, Laurence Van Cott, all sorts of great ideas, a really strange book, Jesse summarizes the book: enjoying geology, some weird stuff (not shown), the Americans!, leering at each other sexually (because its a book), science fiction writers writing about sexy time, Lucifer’s Hammer or Footfall, all this rigamarole, absolutely nothing could have been done except what they were compelled to do, a show like dominoes falling, worrying, like ants being attacked by you, ultimately they have no influence on what you’re going to do, part of the theme of the book, even the Arks aren’t human built in this book, at least we’ve got that going for us, no matter how many Larry Niven characters are consulted, blowing up the cinder-cone, buying CDS, so many spinning discs, it hid its age well, in fact the Soviet Union is in terrific shape!, Jerry Pournelle’s future, it should be humbling, the opposite of competence porn, Brin is incredibly impressed by his own brilliance, they’re smart guys, the wife who looks like an owl, Newt Gingrich’s attitude towards his fellow congressmen, the smile he would put on his face, he thought he was the genius in the room, he has written science fiction, he realizes he’s the only one who has read some books, they’re all Trump’s biggest fan, the left-right divide is a false reality, competent vs. incompetent vs. incredibly incompetent, a rhyming satire of Ronald Reagan, the Dunning–Kruger effect, equating not-smart with being religious, the president is not wrong (in this book), the irony, instinct, not a novel about the president, more and more attention goes to the Presidency, Jesse posits an alternate ending to Air Force One (1997), wasn’t that weird, the prayers are answered by the Moms, free will, its almost like they’re the religious ones, even the Moms are omnipotent, Shanghai and Seattle, what about the sequel?, we forget some of the rules from the first book, that Orson Scott Card feeling, Anvil Of Stars, the “ships of the law”, a treatise on the cost of vengeance, chapter openings, Lamb Of God, Lord Of Mercy, we repeat the cycle of violence, how are we any better than them?, Quantico, The Vulcan Academy Murders, the Fermi paradox, Fred Saberhagen, some of the characters have read science fiction, Larry Niven doesn’t even get a berth, an awful randomness, Yosemite National Park, I can write it off, going to the places in the book, The Crystal Spheres by David Brin, radio signals, everybody is living on Trantor, the logistics of empire, anticipating and then seeing the future not look like that, this guy’s amazing!, yeah except that novelized version of Blood Music…, the vision of what you see, the grey goo pouring over the surface of the earth, the same effect, the inner exploration, somehow was on a trajectory for greatness, The Wind From A Burning Woman collection, the raw power and intelligence that you see in a brilliant writer, Ted Chiang, bursting with weird ideas, not 100% polished (at first), now polished, this era of Greg Bear ends with Moving Mars, Queen Of Angels, Darwin’s Radio, Darwin’s Children, fantasies, Michael Crichton territory, to make some money?, rods from god, the “thor project“, War Dogs, a great author, his foundation novel, Gregory Benford, I’ve read this before, contemptuous of the reader, continuing a series, what do you expect from the latest Dune book?, how L. Ron Hubbard still sells a lot of books, Kevin J. Anderson’s writing method, making books while hiking, Vitals, the least damning paragraph, a Goodreads review: “Word count achieved”, The Liberation Of Earth by William Tenn, Of Men And Monsters by William Tenn, we’re termites, we’re the rats in the walls, humbling or humiliating, are we ever going to see from the aliens point of view?, he put us with the people, writing it today, less America focused, inferring the extra lies, a more global perspective, Independence Day (1996), the heart of the book (should have been) to spend time with the teenager, The Puppet Masters by Robert A. Heinlein, if this had been a novel of two ways of dealing with the situation, Elon Musk/Larry Niven team vs. an Arthur C. Clarke’s The Star team/robots, get past the kumbaya, the turn, the Australian robots self-destructing, they’re alien biological entities, trillions of sentient beings killed, the Wikipedia entry for Anvil Of Stars, formidable “philosophical defenses” (Jesse’s philosophy-fu?), the children of Earth are mad, Peter Pan, Wendy and The Lost Boys, “philosophical defenses” = “human shield“, humans are fucking horrible, brilliant but monstrous, a set up for the sequel, the four witnesses, who made this law?, Jesse is fighting The Forge Of God all the way, he doesn’t know how to do endings, a prequel to Eon, when Greg Bear was really angry, rolling in the Halo money?, a badge of shame, “I don’t understand how it could be good”, the whip!, Steen’s review of The Wind From A Burning Woman, Greg Bear’s take on Arthur C. Clarke’s The City And The Stars, Hardfought, if not audio he’s not going to read it, Bear is married to Poul Anderson’s daughter, a hate-on for Star Wars, Star Wars On Trial, I don’t want to live in a universe with Paul Atredies in charge, that Paul Weimer administration is even more dangerous than some, taxation in USA vs. Canada, Heads, Hegira, residual good feelings, Hull Zero Three, Dinosaur Summer, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, City At The End Of Time, the dying earth sub-genre, William Hope Hodgson, using Steen as a filter, ideas vs. writing, easy listening, Jorge Luis Borges, Olaf Stapledon, Voyager 1 news, awe inspiring, far future, long term projects that are still paying dividends, more funding to rovers on mars, some hot hot Venus action, balloons, Zeppelins on Venus, City Of Darkness by Ben Bova, betrayed by Bova, puns!, and that’s how Paul’s administration came to an end.

TOR - The Forge Of God by Greg Bear

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #378 – READALONG: The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #378 – Jesse, Paul, and Marissa talk about The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick.

Talked about on today’s show:
1964, not exactly a fix-up, this novel’s DNA, The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy, The Unreconstructed M, the next draft, the main character’s problem was Dick’s problem, an idea, another Yance-woman, a sausage fest, did you’re arm fall off again?, “the well-informed dead rat romped under the tongue-tied pink log”, a new ACE or Ballantine book, more cohesive and clearer, all ideas are undercooked, the Wikipedia summary, The Defenders feels like junk, but translated to the novel… a sequel to The Defenders, The Mold Of Yancy is excellent, reading The Mold Of Yancy helps you understand The Penultimate Truth, conapts with wall to wall wub-fur carpeting, artiforgs (artificial organs), Yancy in the novel vs. the short story, a syndicate, a quasi-corporatist government short, the Kardashians and Gwyneth Paltrow, set on Callisto, a totalitarian government, letting in spies, his spidey-sense, he’s like Ronald Regan, a fireside chat, Dick’s analysis of our North American society is dead on, war is bad but just wars have to be fought, cats are definitely better than dogs, political correctness, media pushing (or pulling) society in different directions, a perfect fit, a nice welding, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4, worried about the overseer, strap on your vault suit, he’s a companion, a NPC, leadies are Mister Handies, the robot companions, Hugh Howey’s whole career, the same premise and ideas as Wool, ant tanks, vaults (and silos), WWIII, The Game-Players Of Titan, neo-fuedalism, squabbling fiefdoms, the MegaVac computer echoes Vulcan II or III, Isaac Asimov’s MultiVac, the plot with Brose and Lantano, re-purposing people across stories, the leadies are slaves, a good Goodreads review, the 1% and the 99%, labouring under delusion, a damn fine analysis, the scandal of the day, obedience, Paul is a history fan, a Roman society, Sulla and Pompey, the triumvirates, private armies, the land grant system is very Roman, proto-feudal (or manorial), Cheyenne is nuked again, Estes Park, Colorado, Philip K. Dick has to throw everything into the crockpot, Pretty Blue Fox, Lincoln Apartments, the Tom Mix tank, 290 movies, Tom Mix had five wives, Philip K. Dick dressed like a movie cowboy, clear evidence you’re living in a Philip K. Dick world, ask me about Plato, The Defenders and The Penultimate Truth are modeled after Plato’s the Myth of the Cave, gin and tonic vs. beer, Dog Stories Monthly vs. the Journal Of Psychological Review, a gestalt, the art of Hieronymus Bosch, everything should be about challenging and questioning, Critical Thinking should be the only class in high-school, nothing can be challenged, no critical thinking, all Yancy’s beliefs are insipid, as close as possible to no beliefs, apolitical (without a viewpoint), William Tenn, Null-P, Dick was really influenced by A.E. van Vogt, “wow, my god!”, a preference for Kriegsspiel, a cosmic wrestling match, The Cosmic Puppets, a nice six hour game of Kriegsspiel, Bach’s art of the fugue, subdued by the plot, troweling it down a bit, The Unreconstructed M stuff, fun to read, a time traveling Cherokee warrior who walked in from another Dick story, Time Pawn, Dr. Futurity, fake artifacts of a fake alien invasion, it gells as a novel, a really good speech about a squirrel, an actual living squirrel, there’s no little scurrying creature at the end, a questionable bow,

However, Adams figures out Lantano was behind the deaths as part of his plot to bring down Brose. In desperation and fear, he joins up with St. James, who discovered a cache of artificial organs, and flees into the Tom Mix tank with him. They discover that Lantano was ultimately successful but contemplate that the biggest lie is yet to come.

that’s the ending and discovery of The Defenders, meeting the quota, they don’t let you out when you don’t meet the quota, there’s no reward and punishment, appreciating The Defenders, in Plato’s The Republic, PKD knows all about Plato (and The Odyssey), the Allegory Of the Cave,

Plato begins by asking Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from childhood. These prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets “of men and other living things”. The people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do (“just as puppet showmen have screens in front of them at which they work their puppets”. The prisoners cannot see any of this behind them and are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them. The sounds of the people talking echo off the shadowed wall, and the prisoners falsely believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows constitute reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else; they do not realize that what they see are shadows of objects in front of a fire, much less that these objects are inspired by real living things outside the cave

fake destruction of San Fransisco, false reconstructions, Stalin with Roosevelt speaking Russian at the White House, 1984 by George Orwell,

Plato then supposes that one prisoner is freed, being forced to turn and see the fire. The light would hurt his eyes and make it hard for him to see the objects that are casting the shadows. If he is told that what he saw before was not real but instead that the objects he is now struggling to see are, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he can see and is accustomed to, that is the shadows of the carried objects. He writes “…it would hurt his eyes, and he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, and these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him.”

writing lies and having your son believe the lies, Hollywood,

Plato continues: “suppose…that someone should drag him…by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, and never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun.” The prisoner would be angry and in pain, and this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him. The sunlight is representative of the new reality and knowledge that the freed prisoner is experiencing. Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows. Gradually he can see the reflections of people and things in water and then later see the people and things themselves. Eventually he is able to look at the stars and moon at night until finally he can look upon the sun itself. Only after he can look straight at the sun “is he able to reason about it” and what it is.

a sign of madness,

Plato continues, saying that the freed prisoner would think that the real world was superior to the world he experienced in the cave; “he would bless himself for the change, and pity [the other prisoners]” and would want to bring his fellow cave dwellers out of the cave and into the sunlight. The returning prisoner, whose eyes have become acclimated to the light of the sun, would be blind when he re-enters the cave, just as he was when he was first exposed to the sun. The prisoners, according to Socrates, would infer from the returning man’s blindness that the journey out of the cave had harmed him and that they should not undertake a similar journey. Socrates concludes that the prisoners, if they were able, would therefore reach out and kill anyone who attempted to drag them out of the cave.

other levels, the fake journal entries, the time scoop, in the geological strata, a critical thinking story, what makes us believe the Earth is as old as it is is evidence, pointing in the direction of a Truth, a little bit paranoid, Philip K. Dick has a whole story about it, an evidence laying assassin robot, questioning the science, then you have a Philip K. Dick story, Vulcan’s Hammer, a real theme he’s struggling with, don’t get into conversations with strangers, you’re a human being … I guess, it’s great to be in a country where you don’t understand the language, an afterword by Thomas Disch, a downhill racer of a writer,

If Dick had stopped to think (but that’s something a downhill racer can’t do), he might have realized that there was an essential dramatic disparity between the two stories he was trying to weld together. The Yancy part of the plot generated a story about dirty tricks in high places, a genre for which Dick possesses little flair (compare le Carré and his better imitators), while that element of the story that all readers remember, after the lapse of however many years, is the notion of the human race imprisoned in underground factories because they’ve been tricked into believing that a nuclear war has destroyed the world. It’s an extraordinarily resonant idea. One thinks of the dwellers in Plato’s cave who know nothing of the reality but the shadows cast on the wall; of the similar destiny of Wells’s Morlocks; of the prisoners in Beethoven’s Fidelio; and of ourselves, living in the shadows of a nuclear threat that is only bearable by pretending that it does not exist. To have recognized that our situation is a kind of madness (“What, me worry?” sang the Titanic’s passengers) has not helped us toward a solution, for our situation with respect to the bomb is not much different in 1983 than it was in 1964. And for that reason The Penultimate Truth, for all its flaws, remains a book that can speak to the terror that is the bedrock of our social order.

plotting the distance away from a nuclear target in order to survive, a nuclear wasteland in every movie, an insipid Kardashianism seems to have taken over, we seem to have gotten worse, the fading away of the nuclear threat, the 99% accepting the 1%, breaking free from the cave seems impossible, the internet is our Yancy, like the same things on Facebook, we all have the same opinions, political correctness is like fascism except you can’t use that word, John Wayne day backlash (because he was apparently super-racist), Donald Trump is a power word, he’s willing to say whatever he wants to say, you have to come to that, arguing with the racism, Hieronymus Bosch are loveley, the Kriegsspiel argument, everyone should struggle with this, a dictate from on high or social mimesis, walking by the lottery counter, there’s no way to fix that, think about it, don’t just think the right thing because its the right thing, the re-writing rooms, the proles kind of ignore the prole-feed, the tankies who don’t know, the meek inheriting the Earth, maybe we aren’t meek enough, sprawling demesnes, the human condition, a good book, pulling the veil or reality aside, back to the shadows, from The Republic, the leadies are the leaden weights, the armies of the 1%, how much do you need to be educated, is it for gold or for lead?, Mr. Dick you did something with it, a downhill skier of a writer, add The Mold Of Yancy, he’s such a great idea man, he really engages with the situation, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Defenders is improved upon reflection,

The wonder is how often Dick was able to produce work of real interest and wit in these marathons of typewriting. For readers who read at a pace proportioned to his speed of writing (as most sf fans learn to do, or else cease being fans), the dull patches disappear into a haze of white powder as they careen down the slopes of the narrative. It is the ideas they are after, and Dick always provides more than a sufficiency of these.

Disch knew what Dick was all about, the longer novelettes, he has to pay the bills, too much plot, not enough story, welding together three stories, what was your process, MAN!?, Marissa attended a conference with a bunch of Dick wives and lovers, how much is reflected in what Marissa heard?, how much he loved everyone, feeling betrayed and angry, how funny he is, playing tricks on people, I love that Dick is seemingly incapable of being self-concious about what he loves, Roog, can you pick a subject that is less cosmic in scope, passionate about weird little things, watching a pilot for a new Science Fiction show, Colony (TV show), domesticity, “yeah, I’m out”, sympathy for the characters, overlaying crappily manipulative music, engaging with them in a real way, that dog was a real dog named Snooper, Jonathan Lethem, so good at self-examination, he’s the anti-facsist, he’s wise as well as crazy, he’s blind but he’s glimpsed greater truths, gnosticism, his fallout stories, we will miss them, you should be reading these PKD books, our listeners aren’t watching the Kardashians, are they?

The Defenders by Philip K. Dick - Galaxy Science Fiction, January 1953

The Mold Of Yancy by Philip K. Dick - IF: Worlds Of Science Fiction, August 1955

The Unreconstructed M by Philip K. Dick - illustration by Frank Kelly Freas

Posted by Jesse Willis