The SFFaudio Podcast #579 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #579 – The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake; read by Winston Tharp (for LibriVox.org). This is an unabridged reading of the short story (38 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Maissa Bessada

Talked about on today’s show:
Galaxy, October 1961, a very good issue, Cordwainer Smith, Frederik Pohl, Fritz Leiber, Frank Herbert, Robert Bloch, Jack Sharkey, Willy Ley, a lot of engineering and planning, I love Westlake’s writing so much, reach out and kiss you, the first paragraph, that put the roof on the city, Eric S. Rabkin, “transformed language”, transforming an idiom for a science fiction setting, the opposite of Poe or Lovecraft, ornate, dense, oblique, frothy, characterization, perfect voice for it, he was dangerously insane, including my date with my girl, a post-apocalyptic dystopia that ends on a very sour note (for the reader), a nice trick he pulled, he gets over it very easily, cleavage girls, contract marriages, no-p (no progeny), p and not p, natural deductive and axiomatic logic, math for sentences and paragraphs, useless and yet…, an underlying current that’s rather deep, Philip K. Dick, The Penultimate Truth, The Defenders, leadies vs. ore-sleds, a retelling of the myth of the cave from Plato’s Republic, a metaphor for having conversations with people, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the mentality of the people, The Ax by Donald Westlake, a very funny sad scary book, very political, it wouldn’t have felt political at the time, artifacts, the massive trope or overpopulation, arcology, a condo, the projects, the justification for why would be reading a crime novel, he quit science fiction, Xero (magazine), very true of most science fiction writers, Joe Haldeman cant make a living at it, a sad reality of the industry, solid ideas, from a very different angle, Wool by Hugh Howey, mainstream science fiction with this wonderful aspect, Robert Sheckley, he’s poking fun at everything all along the way, delights in enjoying how ridiculous life is, makes kids enjoy science fiction, a great infodump on page 183, it flows just beautiful, a nation 200 hundred stories high, occasional spies, external dangerous lurking at the back of our minds, the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war, irony and humour, treated to such flowy goodness, the whole story’s greatness, you could make this as a student film, three or four actors, so good, an efficeny of science fiction, a real shame he quit science fiction, Doctor Killybilly, William = strength and protector, why did they do this?, our judo flipping instructor, where the outside is unknown and secretly not bad, Logan’s Run, the Fallout games, High-Rise by J.G. Ballard, The Luckiest Man In Denv by C.M. Kornbluth, why are the Russian oligarchs so much work than the Bloomberg oligarchs, can it be explained, circular, imaginary enemies, WWI (the ignoble nobleman’s war), The Westlake Review blog, WWII (the racial non-racial war), WWIII (the ungentlemanly gentleman’s war), tactical nuclear weapons, MacArthur, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, good strategy, your focus narrows, situational awareness, tunnel vision, engaged with a twitter thread, this happens to countries (not just people), they found his car, the army men, kind of incompetent, aiming the elevator at the army, starve-em-out, Edmund Rice, the right focus, his apartment is falling apart, the window doesn’t work, his single egg, rationing, chicory coffee, he cant imagine a different life, at the bottom of the apartment building, slag, it dumping of their ore car slag, piling up, if this goes on they will be buried, Idiocracy (2006), Javelin missiles sent to Ukraine, attacking Trump from the right (instead of the left), making more nukes?, if we have WWIII it will be stupid, howitzer line of sight nukes, they did it on purpose, somebody is lying, West End Games’ RPG Paranoia, it’s cool to think about, page 193, terror, horror, dizziness, do you see that green?, the power of suggestion, agoraphobia, The Caves Of Steel, his girlfriend, so obsessively worried about punctuality, PTSD, ore-sleds are just like people?, they have so little, they focus on the tiniest things, get Jesse hiking more, kidnap victims, Stockholm Syndrome for a whole nation, he’s like Canada, the sky isn’t falling, he’s a humanitarian, a dangerous criminal, an illegal immigrant, he puts us in the situation right with the guy, page 179, that horrible egg, gaspingly transparent window, its better to look inward, a whimsical approach, a romantic approach, I can’t live without you at the moment, will you be provisionally mine?, I’m going to be needing a wife for at least a year or two, I moved like a whirlwind, that was wrestling, that was judo, that was karate, he just killed the guy who was trying to help him, Paul plugs a book: Mazes Of Power by Juliette Wade, And All The Earth A Grave by C.C. MacApp, three extra zeros, advertising for coffins, a prospector wanders out of the New Mexican desert, humans are complete asses, under the roof, she refused at length and descriptively, any number of girls, I was a hero, they even gave me a medal, not licensed for progeny, this is our reality, living in bubbles, elaborate defenses, that’s what this is really good at, what’s going in the sixties, what its for, its about the psychology of our own human silliness, delightfully frothy, that first giant step, man got a hotfoot, he ran back with the tale between his legs, Neil Armstrong, images of flame, page 189, you’ve crawled into your caves, a well appointed cave, Outside, the same thing, always the same stupidity, the long slow painful creep of progress, a lot longer than it took to go right back into the cave again, how long people had without useful technologies, the cave is a metaphor for your set of beliefs, cut out the information coming from the outside, he wants to eat the fake news, he’s blocking people on twitter, you’re cancelled, cancer culture, once you start blocking…, he thinks what he hears in the building, what the army tells them, radiation proof cars, why should we?, don’t you ever wanna look at that guy’s voting record?, cutting off, dis-empowering yourself, you’re walking into the slaughterhouse, don’t listen to him, feels like there’s very little here, just another science fiction story, substantial power, if it were novel length, that experience, The Defenders is the same story from another point of view, City Of Endless Night by Milo Hastings, eggs, don’t shill for Instant Pot until they sponsor the podcast, the free range ones, orange yolks, you can taste the difference, a sad thought, that’s your allotment, the staircase, using the staircase is a transgressive act, do you need a stairway in a mausoleum, by 2000 everybody lived in projects, his grandparents?, three generations?, distorted stories, the history lesson, the old folks home, genetically unsuitable, what makes him unsuitable?, do you want to breed smarter people, suggested by the story but not in the story, we see two of them, the number of actors you need: two guys and a lady who comes in on skype, a tight dystopia, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, co-opted, Westlake was a Manhattanite, New York as a horizontal arcology, the El or the subway, you can walk three blocks, rush hour, you have ruined my life, the spy is a little more reliable, bad for you, a monster behind that dumpster, the big Donald Westlake hits, The Risk Profession, LibriVox, space insurance, the two sides of Westlake, oh man, situational jokeyness, the Dortmunder books, The Hook, Memory, Charles Ardai, Christa Faust’s Money Shot, like Kill Bill, Hard Case Crime, at least sixty novels, Anarchaos, a very slim volume, so many good books, Somebody Owes Me Money, a crime syndicate, wherever he takes you on a journey, still fun, he still makes it work somehow, so funny with his characterization, Greg Bear is the opposite of Donald Westlake, we build the whole thing, you don’t leave him for a second, the way Shakespeare was gifted, a massive loss for Science Fiction, Smoke, endlessly silly ideas beautifully demonstrated, how many movies are made out of Westlake’s stuff, foreign homages, 41 credits as a writer, The Hot Rock, The Grifters, Payback, Jimmy The Kid, Diff’rent Strokes, A Slight Case Of Murder, James Cromwell as the detective, Cops And Robbers, Point Blank, Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, he’s king of like Stephen King, Stephen King loves Westlake, Richard Bachman is named after Richard Stark, Tucker Coe, Magnum, P.I., a crisp clear writer, Lawrence Block, fifteen years of great reading.

The Spy In The Elevator by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #522 – READALONG: Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #522 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Evan Lampe and Amy H. Sturgis talk about Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee

Talked about on today’s show:
Alex Nevala-Lee, a book and an audiobook, thinking about legacies, thinking about audiobooks before, the original cool guy, adorable, its nice to be read to, 100 pages of footnotes, Evan, your book doesn’t exist as an audiobook, nobody wants to read anymore, Evan’s gotten to the stage, reading history books, non-fiction is so good on audio, rekindling pleasure, everything is cited, really he said that?, “Fuck, Eando Binder!”, “lambasted dianetics”, its all cited, 13 hours, not padded, way too long, more about their sexual problems, wife-swappin’ again, a problem for a lot of books, so easy to read, just have a little listen, so engrossing, so well written, The Amazing, The Astounding, And The Unknown by Paul Malmont, the Navy yard, commentary on the stories, I Will Fear No Evil, John W. Campbell is important, Ben Bova, two confusing awards, Hugo Gernsback needs his own version of this, the one person who is completely missing from this book is H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, Arthur C. Clarke, what about this?, Jesse’s complaints are not very legit, The Return Of William Proxmire by Larry Niven, modern science fiction, the intellectual historian, markets for genres, the 20s-30s-40s, the Cold War, turn towards nativism, a profound effect, the Science Fiction League, a self-aware community, WWII, a fledgling dialogue, this revolution, connecting SF with science, Microcosmic God, this is on Campbell, distinctly American?, issues sent as ballast to the UK, all the foreign editions of Astounding, the British fanzines, Hugo was nuts for electronics, we’re going to invent our own televisions, home amateurs, ham radio operators, the science fiction reader, Tom Swift, the edisonade, fertile soil, the radio boys, Electronic Experimenter, a pulp fiction collection, reading Amazing vs. reading Astounding, technical drawings and weird editorials, not only space opera, The Electrical Experimenter, Larry Niven, they’re weird dudes, a pathetic figure, a tragedy, a mire of pseudoscience, Asimov’s biography, Heinlein’s letters, no no, a horror suspense movie, uplifting, it worked on Heinlein, Asimov was his own little being, the tragedy is coming, blind spots and prejudices, good fiction and good science, the new wave, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K. Le Guin, a machine for generating analogies, he’s given them the tools to push back against him, still influential, descent into pseudoscience and self delusion, Asimov’s preface to Dangerous Visions, we’re the squares, the passing of the torch, the sexual revolution, a cultural revolution vibe, Asimov was a square, “I fuck a lot, man.”, almost sexless, The Gods Themselves, weird alien sex, Heinlein’s weirdness, a lot of revealing things, the role of the wives, a biography of Kay (Catherine) Tarrant, spelling the names, Campbell wasn’t needed, behind the scenes, Astounding is so important, still under copyright, Heinlein getting mad at Campbell, Philip K. Dick has one story in Astounding, what’s going on?, Impostor, Campbell wanted superhumans, The Golden Man, a superhuman idiot, writing in reaction to it, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold’s aesthetic, Campbell didn’t take Alfred Bester!, a gatekeeper, Frederik Pohl, how important The Cold Equations is, you have to keep re-writing this until you get it right, what it does, this is what we are talking about, this is how far we can go, a Star Trek story, here is an episode of something that we can imagine happening, Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, what Campbell was aiming at, a study in what editors can do, seeding the same idea multiple times, turning Asimov down, how would that intelligence work?, a black POV character, a leap of imagination, racism and homophobia as compartmentalization, Dune World by Frank Herbert, Mack Reynolds, Black Man’s Burden, Commune: 2000, the problem is scarcity (there is none, except in jobs), universal basic income, it didn’t matter to you that the kid was Filipino, what the difference between a rationalists and empiricists, here’s how drunk driving should work, you’re not clear yet, a technical journal, that’s not how science works, how science works, grinding lenses, Verne -> submarines, Wells -> warplanes, Campbell -> atom bombs, science fiction leading the science, a legacy, Rocket Ship Galileo, Tom Swift in the Rocket Age, Nancy Drew is not the same, Nazis on the moon, action fun excitement, Elon Musk, pushing in all directions, badly inspired, Paul Krugman, Asimov’s Foundation series, a weird tension, the scientific approach to all things, psychology, a desire to make everything scientific, A.E. Van Vogt, enough to be dangerous, enthusiasm for the ideas didn’t follow through to the methodology, we can make this science too, Hubbard had no interest in science (or science fiction, really), Heinlein’s failing, Asimov was a sexual asshole, a tragic figure, Heinlein falls for Hubbard because he had a uniform, a lying used car salesman, cults, its not about your intelligence, lacking critical thinking, charisma doesn’t translate from the page, judging eyes, I no longer trust you, the worst insult Heinlein could ever give anybody, broken legs and gonorrhea, the asshole sections of Jesse’s email, Heinlein was really blinded by patriotism, the Vietnam War, we need a renaissance for the Heinlein juveniles, Farnham’s Freehold makes a lot more sense now, trying to make a point about Campbell being wrong, hopeful commentary, not including Hubbard, the serpent in the garden, transformative, “the competent man”, competitors and community members, we’re doing something that’s important, the conversations we’re having are important, they hung together for decades, personal loyalty, trolls, the story of the first Worldcon, women nurturing men who were nurturing other men, Donald A. Wollheim was a better troll than anyone living today, contributing something positive, Mimic, he bought a lot of Philip K. Dick, Asimov as a youth, your idea of heaven, the power of picking up one of these magazines, the one thing missing from this book is the history of the covers, the art, fill the space, a little bit of technology, pitch me three new magazine, Weird Tales, tiny little things, when H.P. Lovecraft turns down the editorship of Weird Tales, what would we have or what would we be missing?, a magazine with a legacy, Elon Musk is a Heinleinian character, old letters pages are fossils, D.D. Harriman, The Man Who Sold The Moon, a trap, not hard enough on the Soviets!, a whole lifetime of a really complicated human being, the whole point, the functionalist stuff sounds like Campbell, creativity doesn’t work that way, how writing works, The Trouble With Tribbles, everything is in reaction, H.G. Wells doesn’t seem to have a massive precursor, The Time Machine, Last And First Men, Olaf Stapledon, Starmaker, those men are heroes, page 370 and 371, Barry M. Malzberg, sympathize with his critics, the question of victimization, a problem solving medium, not everyone is a hero, the way science fiction is today, science fiction should explore everything, schlubs, we all live in a world that’s increasingly become science fictional, Wells’ heroes are assholes, the New Wave pushes back against the Campbellian revolution, J.G. Ballard, mistrust of the meta-narrative, setting up things that come later, wanting 15 other books to be written, a companion volume on the Futurians, creating editors, Judith Merrill, here’s another community, C.M. Kornbluth, glimpses, Arena by Fredric Brown, The Orville is new Star Trek: The Next Generation, the a plot and the b plot, season 8 Next Generation, Enemy Mine, Hell In The Pacific, Lee Marvin, no alien movie, Star Trek, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, Space: 1999, The Most Dangerous Game, Predator, somebody sitting around, Gilgamesh and Enkidu, the b-plot, The Corbamite Maneuver, The Kobayashi Maru, Amy’s Looking Back At Genre History, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, always asking questions, how do you know, a meta-story, it’s about what happens when you read Astounding, Sandkings by George R.R. Martin is a retelling of Microcosmic God, Dragon’s Egg by Robert L. Forward, Hal Clement, science fiction luminaries, missing an ode to Hal Clement, the chapter titles, Who Goes There?, it doesn’t give you what you want, Don A. Stuart, Twilight, two types of storytellers, historical narratives, a remarkable achievement, history is a pruning job, a really important book, more books just like this, every time we say “Astounding” take a drink, endnotes, bibliography, a gift that’s going to keep on giving, what happens after this, some editor discovered or promoted Dashiell Hammett, Black Mask, railroading magazines, westerns, isn’t Analog still going today?, finally why this magazine called Analog?, it’s a metaphor, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, factless, Willy Ley, trying to make the reality behind science fiction more real, giving writers a grounding, Asimov: what a man!, writers who are complaining about low pay rates, E.E. Doc Smith, the Dean drive, a reactionless space drive, more biographies of these pulp era mags, The World Of Nitrogen, The Realm Of Measures, Asimov On Numbers, super-clear writing, Campbell’s book of collected editorials, Lecherous Limericks, bra-snapping and carrying on, Annoted Gulliver’s Travels, a writing and learning machine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, mysteries, the joy of reading and the joy of writing, his mind was always elevator, that kind of curiosity is so rare, he wanted to know the answers to everything, a powerful force in reality, The End Of Eternity, a fun book.

Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Posted by Jesse Willis

A conversation between Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley

SFFaudio Online Audio

Archive.org has a wonderful 90 minute English language conversation between two famous German rocket scientists!

Check it out |MP3|

A historic conversation between German rocket scientists Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley. Highlights include the development of the German rocket programs during WWII, and the space program in the 1950’s. Recorded June 9th and 23rd, 1959, in New York City and Redstone Arsenal, Huntstville, Alabama.

Indeed hearing Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley talk is very cool.

Ley and von Braun talk about:
old school days in Germany, Hermann Oberth‘s influential book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (“By Rocket Into Interplanetary Space“), Fritz Lang movie Woman In The Moon, rocketry and rockets from the V-2 to the Saturn rocket family, geosynchronous satellites, the Mercury project, space stations, weather satellites, the Van Allen radiation belt, the role of humans in space, sending men around the Moon, the logistics of photographing and visiting Venus and Mars, space probes, a “semi-philosophical question about Man’s rights in space”, theological objections (and blessings), the compatibility between religion and science, Blaise Pascal, extraterrestrial life, vegetation on Mars, smart aliens, Arthur C. Clarke’s first law.

As you can see it is very historic!

Wernher von Braun (left) and Willy Ley (right)

I won’t say much more about the fascinating Wernher von Braun as I recently posted a biographical radio dramatization about him. But I will point out that Willy Ley is pretty damn amazing. Ley was an avid reader of Science Fiction, contributed science articles to Astounding Stories and Galaxy Magazine and was a member of the Trap Door Spiders – there is a wonderful Wikipedia entry about him to explore HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis