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

Reading, Short And Deep #224 – The Last Baby by Ken W. Purdy

Podcast

Reading, Short And DeepReading, Short And Deep #224

Eric S. Rabkin and Jesse Willis discuss The Last Baby by Ken W. Purdy.

Here’s a link to a PDF of the story.

The Last Baby was first published in Cosmopolitan, November 1953.

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

Posted by Scott D. Danielson

The SFFaudio Podcast #548 – READALONG: The Ministry Of Truth by Dorian Lynskey

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #548 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, Maissa Bessada, Evan Lampe, and Terence Blake talk about The Ministry Of Truth by Dorian Lynskey

Talked about on today’s show:
June 2019, direct from the publisher Penguin Random House, the last chapter, the afterword, there are four lights, the first part, learned the most, an intellectual history, the life after Orwell’s death, a grab-bag of memes, the cold war, the conservative revival, too loosey-goosey, H.G. Wells, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, flat, comprehensive, how it touched other people, David Bowie, Star Trek, Babylon 5, it didn’t have that rigor (in the second half), a funnel, a shotgun, The Prisoner, the momentum is gone by 2019, how many places he’s infiltrated culture, computer games, blind spots, America was a blind spot, Orwell’s anti-Americanism, Trump, when you’re writing about history thirty years ago, perspective, Margaret Atwood’s appendix theory, a lot of bad theories, China and 1984, through the great firewall, censorship, The Guardian, June 4th anniversary, The Atlantic, why 1984 isn’t banned in China, the inner party is going to read it anyway, it’s at bookstores, Animal Farm, discussed in colleges in Canada, Hearts Of Iron IV, so deep, play Honduras during WWII, what officers in the army were active in Honduras during WWII, Paradox Games, insane on the details or mechanics, cannot be done in any other medium, fascinating, that they ban that, the meme of the day issue, PUBG, blood and gore restrictions (green blood), switches from being about Orwell and the U.K. to the United States after the war, the Apple ad, social media, fake news influencing the Taiwanese elections, who gets taught this book and who discusses it, how Orwell is used by the CIA as anti-communist propaganda, why so many people are forced to read it in school, school is indoctrination, training workers, who what huh?, what was your first encounter with Nineteen Eighty-Four, trying to learn about dystopian fiction, self-educate, a roman-a-clef (a book with a key), most teachers suck, who the fuck are those guys?, its not a kids book, Animal Farm is a kids book, propaganda, everybody wants to take control of Orwell, anti-totalitarian, notice how its not considered science fiction, she’s a stumbling block, she is double thinking when she says her book is not science fiction, in her mind, the pulpy fifties sort of stuff, a wilful blindness, voluntary ignorance, an article on Margaret Brundage (for Playboy), I’m going to write a science fiction novel, I’m going to write a utopian, a massive list, We is public domain, E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, I’m inside the machine, I worship the internet, just like the lady in the story, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, the premise, H.G. Wells (the guy most responsible for modern science fiction), in response to Looking Backward, the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles, she uses the appendix theory in The Handmaid’s Tale, she needs that hope, had Orwell lived, Wells gets dragged, nobody likes Wells’ later stuff, H. L. Mencken’s review of Wells’ later stuff (The Late Mr. Wells), When The Sleeper Awakes, Mack Reynolds, the problem is everybody has a good income and no jobs, no waiters or waitresses, no service jobs, everybody wants meaning (and there’s no jobs), The Unincorporated Man by Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, that book nobody reads anymore, the turn from utopia to dystopia, a theory that’s just an idea, people trying to fuck with George Orwell’s statement for their purposes, how everybody can take ownership, this is how you guys are, high school sci-fi class, libertarian teacher, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut, kids are malleable, the books you read when you were young, Brave New World, look at this!, these are books that exist, who’s the publisher?, questions that never go into the mind of a student, Adbusters, slick production used against slick production, the best books tell you something you already know, I’m being gaslit, I’m not crazy!, that Goldstein book, literally true, did they create it themselves?, The Plague by Albert Camus, realist vs. allegory, a movie version of The Plague starring William Hurt, the Hurts hurt, the RCMP, anti-American imperialism, the Chinese threat, afraid of conscription, looking back do you see the hands?, staying with the Queen and following America’s lead, why we read the books that we did, the “free market” trying to sell books, not just the free market, Shakespeare for social purposes (rather than a CIA plot), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, the legacy, the same books still being pushed, a certain number of novels in the curriculum, The Hunger Games used in school, massive cultural impacts (from inertia), The Prisoner is Nineteen Eighty-Four, the village is perfect, everyone has a place, a child of 1984, spook-life, political expediency vs. moral obligation, the new Big Finish The Prisoner, what makes the dialogue authentic, all questions are turned on their heads, number one is number six, why Atwood’s theory is bad, when the telescreen echoes words, doubling dream-like, nothing is on fixed ground, is it even 1984, write new reality, the one book, a healthy body is a negative, physically weaker, turning them into infants, that instinct is within us, I want a pillow, the Big Brother reality shows, make me a star, I like being babied, people would volunteer for prison, no problem for most people, does it matter (most people aren’t going to read it anyway)?, the Internet Research Agency story, if this book was written in the 1970s, the Muller stuff, okay Rachel Maddow went too far, a political hack who doesn’t even know what’s in his own report, political interference, Honduras, why are 80% of the refugees Honduran, a passing reference to Milton Friedman and the Shock Doctrine, Chile, the U.S. Empire, not a major part of the story, Airstrip One, is Britain in charge or is Britain a colony in 1984, post national, the difference between patriotism and nationalism, a good and natural thing vs. an artificial and evil thing, a connection and fondness for them, when George Orwell went to fight against fascism, ok I have to fight now, when you submit to an authority, Blake’s 7, that opening episode is absolutely drawn from 1984, they call him a pedophile and insert memories in order to convict him, the solution (never stated) is anarchistic group of people who do not love Big Brother, even on Star Trek they have to follow orders, Terry Nation’s Survivors, the “good fight”, working with warlords to take down the Taliban, dishonorably discharged for telling the media about warlord sex-slaves, why the good side lost, nobody conscripted them, about nationalism, the state more than the nation, the Michael Radford movie of 1984, national symbols, nations are constructed, French culture, the French state, the books that are important to you, a nation is a project, what Oceania meant, they control the world through the sea, not nation names anymore, Orwell is seeing what’s happened to the U.K., The Marshall Plan, no victory here, V-J Day, this book published in June, no mention of BoJo (Boris Johnson), neoliberalism, ideology is what’s missing, Boris Johnson and Donald Trump don’t have ideology, the alternative facts are just to make them look good, damage control and self-promotion, not having an ideology is the ideology, double-think, he’s lying but he’s revealing what other don’t want to say, you don’t need an intellectualized theory, a gas that’s everywhere based on double-think, who gets to do the gas-lighting, story after story about alternative facts, Cube (1997), Cube 2 (2002), owners, making fun of a conspiracy theory is a conspiracy theory, Noam Chomsky, The Wall Street Journal, it’s not the focus, preferred candidates, the staff of RT is former MSNBC employees, Jesse Ventura, Minnesota exist in theory, the dominant voice, the subtitle is what sold me, The Biography Of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a birth, genes, afterlife, more books like this, a negative review, Bellamy is the soup that’s in the culture that you’re building on, an overall trend from utopia to dystopia, so valuable, all the stuff that was listed, a lot not mentioned, the number of respondents to Bellamy, William Morris’ utopia, we’re the sleepers, that opening line (much improved from the original draft), he was a very good writer, the previous drafts, what he took out, really interesting, Orwell’s personality, cruel to everybody’s babies, a fundamental place of honesty, I paid money for this they’re doing a bad job, no animosity for the writer and artist, not trying to be mean, Jesse fears he’s being mean when he ats Marissa, a smile with a thing, “Lies are the religion of slaves and masters. Truth is the god of the free man.” from The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky, the quote in the book is not that quote, the spirit of the play(?), a drama in four acts, as hard as it is to identify the truth (very very very hard), if you don’t have truth as your god you’re fucked, if you were forced to fight in a war in the 20th century, of all the fascist dictators was Franco the least worst?, Hitler, Mussolini, WWII was a battle against fascism, WWI, the Spanish Civil War, the Vietnam War, Maissa’s question (turned on its head), the International Brigades, Norman Bethune, the Great Patriotic War (in China), battlefield surgery, fighting for a principle, what war would you fight for?, what principles would you fight for?, Orwell’s Homage To Catalonia, pirate mentality, you don’t get 1984 without that, thinking on paper, everything that I wrote was directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, so Pollyanna, lay down and die, if conscripted during WWII Jesse would like to serve Alan Turning’s coffee, his country didn’t love him, you love Big Brother (he doesn’t care), the mustache is not a Hitler mustache, more Stalin, no one escapes the tar-brush, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow, an important and good book, how to fight against your government your institutions your Alexa devices, the Google button that’s built in, on principle it’s a bad idea to be submitting so, the reason it has a switch to turn the camera off, removing the battery, electromagnetic field sensitivity, keeping his cellphone in a lead-lined box, its off in a certain sense, devices with no off switches, “Nvidia Shield Off”, if the book is going to be relevant after 1949, B.F. Skinner’s Walden Two, positive reinforcement vs. negative reinforcement, use pleasure, use fear, News From Nowhere: 1984, the discovery of Eric Blair, lack of any institutionalized government, the dream of 19th century anarchism, 10 hours is a reasonable size, so much is suggested, the appendix is important, revising history, you don’t read the Dune appendix, the Tolkien appendices, A Clockwork Orange, a missing chapter, as Eric Blair intended, Eric Blair hates vegetarianism, teetotalers, nudists, Quakers, sandals, fruit juice, Marxist slogans, pistachio coloured shirts, birth control, yoga, and beads, anti-hipster socialist.

And, here are Marissa’s notes about UTOPIAS & DYSTOPIAS mentioned in The Ministry Of Truth:

1516 – Utopia by Thomas More
1726 – Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
1771 – The Year 2440: A Dream If Ever There Was One by Louis-Sebastién Mercier (time-travel to future utopia)
1880 – Dr Heindenhoff’ Process by Edward Bellamy (scientist learns how to erase memories and guilt – Orwell’s Oceania-like)
1872 – Erewhon by Samuel Butler (satire)
1887 – A Crystal Age by W. H. Hudson
1888 – Looking Backward: 2000–1887 by Edward Bellamy
1889 – To Whom This May Come by Edward Bellamy (telepathy has eliminated crime and deceit)
1889 – New Amazonia: A Foretaste of the Future by Elizabeth Corbett (feminist utopia)
1890 – News from Nowhere by William Morris (agrarian, anarchist utopia – counter to Bellamy’s “cockney paradise”)
1890 – Looking Further Backward by Arthur Dudley Vinton (bigoted sequel to Bellamy’s book, nationalism + feminism have emasculated America)
1890 – Caesar’s Column: A Story of the Twentieth Century by Ignatius Donnelly (Minnesota congressman & original conspiracy utopia in which “paradise is carved out in a Swiss-owned Uganda while American capitalism perishes in blood and fire”)
1890 – A.D. 2050: Electrical Development At Atlantis by John Bachelder (Right-wing utopia, refugees from Bellamy’s failing Nationalist society flee to Atlantis, which is turned into a proto-Orwellian police state)
1891 – Mr. East’s Experiences In Mr. Bellamy’s World by C. Wilbrant
1891 – Freeland: A Social Anticipation by Theodor Herzoka (Austrian economist “the Austrian Bellamy”)
1891 – The New Utopia by by Jerome K. Jerome (Bellamy spoof, introduces “numbers as names” SF trope)
1892 – A Traveler from Altruria by William Dean Howell
1892 – Gold In The Year 2000, Or, What Are We Coming To? by J. McCullough (time travel to future utopia where men play golf)
1897 – Equality by Edward Bellamy (fills gaps in Looking Backward)
1893 – Sub-Coelum: A Sky-Built Human World by Addison P. Russel (conservative utopia, anti-“materialistic socialism”)
1894 – The Land of the Changing Sun by Will N. Harben (underwater society with gov of eugenicists uses scanning devices and psychological torture)
1894 – A Journey of Other Worlds by John Jacob Astor (A conservative utopia, [by] one of richest men in the world at time USA, dominates planet & seeks to colonize others)
1897 –”A Story of the Days To Come by H.G. Wells” (forerunner to The Sleeper Awakes)
1898 – The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells
1899 – Imperium in Imperio by Sutton E. Griggs (first black utopia, Baptist Minister, son of former slave)
1900 – The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (“a Bellamyite, to judge by L. Frank Baum’s description of his egalitarian society in The Emerald City of Oz”)
1905 – A Modern Utopia by H.G. Wells
1906 – Looking Forward: The Phenomenal Progress Of Electricity in 1912 by Harry W. Hillman
1909 – The Machine Stops by E.M Foster (scientific dystopia)
1915 – Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (feminist utopia)
1920 – We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (totalitarian state dystopia)
1923 – Men Like Gods by H.G. Wells (parallel universe utopia), HG Wells,
1932 – Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (response to Wells’ Men Like Gods)
1938 – Anthem by Ayn Rand
1940 – Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler (author’s disillusionment with the Soviet Union’s version of Communism at the outset of World War II)
1942 – Unknown Land by Herbert Samuel
1945 – Animal Farm by George Orwell
1948 – Walden Two by B.F. Skinner (utopian)
1949 – 1984 by George Orwell
1952 – Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
1953 – Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
1953 – Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future by Evelyn Waugh
1953 – One by David Karp
1958 – The Rise Of The Meritocracy 1870–2033 by Michael Young
1960 – Facial Justice by L.P. Hartley
1962 – Island by Aldous Huxley

The Ministry Of Truth: The Biography Of George Orwell's 1984

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #545 – READALONG: Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #545 – Jesse, Paul Weimer, Maissa Bessada, Julie Davis, and Terence Blake talk about Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

Talked about on today’s show:
cobber, guv’nor, tinhorn, ex-firster, a contemptible person, the Australian etymology, comrade, a revolution book, profound and deep and amazing, not the greatest science fiction novel ever written, no illusions, leg-clining, leg cling is the best part, ridiculous, weirdness, Helen O’Loy, Nerves, shaping the paperback industry, in the mood for something like, dig deep to keep going, 1.2x speed, police yourself, eastern USA accent?, perfectly adapted to the novel, implacable, a bulldozer through the plot, a fast read, a sweet-spot for science fiction novels, the period, what he’s doing, where this book fits in science fiction, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress but on Mars with more Mickey Spillane, more like tar than noir, Julie likes Maissa’s spirit, the same scenario over and over, Groundhog Day, shaking people down and breaking heads, a 15 page short story, Philip St. John was editor of several magazines, praising his own novel in the editorial, defending the novel against critics, fired from Future Publications, juggling everything, editorials, writing short stories and essays for four magazines, writing the novel while publishing it, a three part serial turns into four, people hate the serial, some people love them, he doesn’t really know where its going to end, this is gonna be okay (and then it fell apart), noirish style, the same trick over and over again, cop tinhorn fighter, Mercury mines, a punched mealticket, what the repetition does, not a fan of security, maybe…, Honest Izzy, didn’t pay-off, why did I get dragged through all this?, why you should be excited to buy this magazine, Van Lihn, a convincing picture of a planet, we were enjoying it, super-sloppy, not detail oriented?, its all getting done badly, apologizing, the height of the massive growth of science fiction magazines, as a product of that period, Dickens did that, he knew his prolific output, Elizabeth Gaskell, the motivation of Shelia, putting a gang together, why she attacked Gordon and was crying, in debt, sold as a slave, this is for what you did to Hilda, as a defense mechanism he hid all his soft feelings behind a tough mechanical exterior, a machine devoid of feeling, too much?, the fix-up, taking stuff in and take stuff out, chapter titles, chapter two is missing, police your prose, “Girl Gangs Of Marsport”, John W. Campbell, appreciating Campbell, the Del Rey books, his fourth wife, he’s a fucking liar, Erik Van Lihn, his Wikipedia entry, a professional liar, the closing editorial, “but it could happen”, happy to see it’s end, a darn fine yarn, doesn’t anyone like it, terrible as a whole, fun bits, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, it should have been about Mother Corey, pulpy, the agent of change is a ex-boxer ex-gambler ex-cop ex-whistleblower, a yellow journal, benign agency, a traitor, if you squint a bit or your sick its not that bad, Durance, prison planet, done RIGHT, Australia as prison colony experience, a gloss of paint rather than thinking about ideas, Jerry Pournelle’s Co-Dominion, Sparta (prison planet), he could have done a lot more with this, less than the sum of its parts, what this podcast might be doing, what science fiction is, exploring the things Jesse’s interested in, the South Pacific in the 1830s (without spaceships), set on Mars with rockets and domes and superchargers, not science fiction, an editorial in Science Fiction Quarterly, February 1957, Robert W. Lowndes, P. Schuyler Miller, “The Reference Library”, good heavens!, Bridey Murphy, a suspense story, that’s a crime busting tale, where is the science fiction, it didn’t need to be set on Mars, gangs of New York, westerns, a lawless wild west story, almost no concrete ideas that are particularly speculative, something that Eric (Rabkin) taught Jesse, transformed language, The Teaching Company, an impression of the world in which you’re living, Cuddles, he sands the dishes for her, pioneer stories, designed to give you an impression of a whole world in the background you don’t see in the text, what makes it really science fiction is that it has ideas, so scattershot, he doesn’t follow through, Olaf Stapledon, no characters, idea after idea after idea, what science fiction might be, science is ways of knowing, he doesn’t know what he’s doing when he starts, a Philip K. Dick trick: he makes it symmetrical, the plot and the beatings and the dome punching, goddamned communists!, how do revolutions happen?, interesting as an artifact, imperialism, why certain things look like, a Big Big World, continents and countries and resources, why are people doing X, Y, or Z?, geography and resources, WWII, why are things happening this way, that’s where the oilfields are, like the game Settlers Of Catan, life outside of Marsport, Komarr, Lois McMaster Bujold, which is it?, changing from paragraph to paragraph, he’s going to derail an already overly long book, heartland hinterland, the Canadian experience, the resources for the USA, branchplantism, car factories in Ontario, Canada as a the hinterland for the United States’ heartland, the outsiders and the insiders, there’s a dystopia on Earth that we don’t get to see, a corrupt journalist who did a little too much actual journalism, something about his personality, he’s not an upright guy looking for the truth, corrupt but not completely corrupt, the heroes are the agency, East Germany, everyone has a secret badge, we’re gonna eat strawberries and cream, White Tiger (2012), this Jesus figure, t-34s, praying to the god of tanks, a very strange Russian movie, Duel (1971) TV movie, The Haunted Tank, why?, Ok?, The Killer Angels, two strange scenes at the end, a long scene with Hitler, the unconscious desire of Europe, is that the European psyche?, the audience?, equally baffling, unconditional surrender, talking about the food, the Russians bring in desert, what is this?, strawberries and cream, come the revolution we’ll all eat strawberries and scream, the revolution has come, when the revolution comes, a downtrodden people, what the rich people always have, playing all these ideas out, why it is a weak science fiction novel, you’re like Judas, they stuck in his throat, the methods used betray the ideals, that’s what we like about Gordon: he uses all the wrong means, the thirty pieces, none of it makes any sense, he’s busy in the kitchen and some things are burning, James Blish’s review: it’s naturalism but not realism, unpleasant matter, a normal sexual relationships, a bundling scene, they kiss, a normal reaction, goes nowhere, the naughty parts for a 1953 science fiction audience: salacious, Samuel Beckett, trance writing, humourless, the voting chapter, vote early and often, Alfred Bester could hold it together, the difference between a great writer and a medium writer, I’m expecting people to pick up…, roiling around, tossed salad and scrambled eggs isn’t revolutionary, Les Misérables, about redemption?, building something together, a change of mind, it’s horribly written, women’s psychology in the fifties, lock this room for a week, how little depth it has, you seem alright in a way, your boots, arranged marriage, if a lady tries to stab you or breaks a bottle over your head she likes you, a book club, five hours like eons, Jesse made Wayne June read the 60 hour Jerusalem by Alan Moore, and Evan has already finished it, baseline science fiction, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, picking vs. talent, don’t even try to defend it, shotgun, the setup and the dome and the boots, and we’re all spy, what about the drugs?, street drugs, they’re all starving to death, social control, undercooked, ideas he doesn’t do anything with, we should read Mockingbird by Walter Tevis, why books used to have chapter names, editing out the “this is a librivox recording all librivox recordings are in the public domain”, editing, so amazing, first published in 1980, Julie’s mom loves Alfred Bester, on Earth and so good, a nebula nominee, doable, electric bliss, Jesse has pirate powers, spoiled it!, plus five stars, The Rosie Project, The Man Who Fell To Earth, a book about chess, Squares Of The City by John Brunner, Jesse is the best ever.

Del Rey - Police Your Planet by Lester del Rey

POLICE YOUR PLANET - Emsh prelim

Posted by Jesse Willis

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

Podcast

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

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

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #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