The SFFaudio Podcast #076 – READALONG: Mindswap by Robert Sheckley

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #076 – Jesse talks with Gregg Margarite, Julie Davis and Luke Burrage about Robert Sheckley’s 1966 novel Mindswap.

Talked about on today’s show:
Blackstone Audiobooks audiobook edition of Mindswap by Robert Sheckley, The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley, Rick Jackson’s Wonder Audio version of The Status Civilization, Marvin, existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, Søren Kierkegaard and Martin Heidegger, Mars, swapping minds vs. swapping bodies, xenophiles, “metaphoric deformation”, one of the greatest scenes of comedy ever in a novel, mind vs. body, mind vs. brain, consciousnesses and memories, Mindswap is “a subversive ontological satire,” Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, extracting sunlight from a cucumber, “theory of searches”, existentialism for a Science Fiction audience, Voltaire’s Candide, Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, balance is superfluous, “contemplation is the most direct form of involvement (and so it is avoided by everyone)”, Bertrand Russell, New York, solipsism, cognitive dissonance, Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Future Shock by Alvin Toffler, Chekhov’s gun, comedic soliloquies, speaking with a lisp, the twisted world, the interventionist fallacy, the authorial sting, “the ripe greenness of her ovipositors”, Luke defends the honour of the name Kathy, Marvin The Paranoid Android vs. Marvin The Martian, Roland Barthes, absurdity is funny, a pseudo-Gulliver’s Travels, the mechanics of the humor, Gregg’s top five written objects, Laputa, “the pinnacle of satire”, A Modest Proposal, “everything is bullshit”, Dr. Jeykll And Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (our next readalong), Dracula, Lair Of The White Worm, Ken Russell, Gothic, On The Buses, Africa, “Africa? Where do you mean in Africa?”, Namibia vs. South Africa, Kilimanjaro vs. Everest, a set can’t be a member of itself, “it’s all a big giant steaming pile of absurdity” vs. “the glory and excitement of being alive”, monsignors vs. bishops, “you’re just not in our target market”, “I don’t believe what someone believes has to be true or not”, spiritual experiences vs. explanations of them, there’s a helmet for that (spiritual experiences), the charismatic formula, true vs. honest, Luke’s blog post on spiritual experiences and atheism, Thomas Aquinas, “truth is relative”, Gregg has big sets!, Julie is completely talk-able, Margaret Atwood history denier, the Apollo missions, making stupid easier, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a great aggregator , Glenn Beck’s snakedance, smart people are making the universe complex, “the enemy of nuance” vs. “the enemy of history”, rejecting reality, why they argued with Jefferson, their totally alienable, “this is why I watch 30 Rock“, Kids In The Hall, you have the potential of niche markets, ‘the United States is the greatest country in the world (with the greatest failures and great achievements)’, nobody cares about Africa (or South America), not knowing the Prime Minister of Canada vs. not knowing the Governor of Guam, Peter F. Hamilton’s latest book, a bunch of fun loving existentialists, Sheckley’s short stories, City by Clifford D. Simak (it has conflict), Sheckley at his best is Voltaire and soda (or Voltaire and tonic), Flannery O’Connor, the keyword game, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart, art and craft are the same thing, craftsmen aren’t artists, I Hate Music, “I’m NOT tone deaf!”, Charlie Parker, iTunes=music, mp3=music, “it’s like I’m gay and I’m the only one”, This Is Your Brain On Music, Gregg is too emphatic (?), “I – do not – sound – like – William Shatner.”, Weird Al Yankovic, “my guitar is the best girlfriend I ever had.”

Gray Morrow‘s illustrations of Mindswap from the June 1965 of Galaxy:

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley - Cover

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley - Page 7

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP - Page 9

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley - Page 27

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley - Page 53

Galaxy June 1965 - MINDSWAP by Robert Sheckley - Pages 67 and 85

DELL - Mindswap by Robert Sheckley

Posted by Jesse Willis

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3 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #076 – READALONG: Mindswap by Robert Sheckley”

  1. Great show folks. Really interesting stuff.
    I still think Jesse you’re religious about your anti-religious statements. ;)
    I wish you would have stopped dancing around the funny scenes in the book. You’re there to talk about the book by Sheckley.. too much inside stories means we don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. If people don’t want to be spoiled they can stop listening!
    Love the big head stuff, and frankly.. well.. I’ll comment on the music post, because I feel your pain.
    J

  2. Jack, I don’t recall making any “anti-religious statements” but as to me being religious, let’s see..

    from Dictionary.com:

    re·li·gion

    –noun
    1.
    a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. [I DON’T BELIEVE IN SUPERHUMANS]

    2.
    a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. [I DON’T ADHERE TO ANY FUNDAMENTAL SET OF BELIEFS OR PRACTICES AND AM NOT THE MEMBER OF ANY SECTS OR CLUBS]

    3.
    the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions. [AM NOT A MEMBER OF ANY SUCH BODY]

    4.
    the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion. [AM NEITHER MONK NOR NUN]

    5.
    the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith. [I HAVE NO FAITH]

    6.
    something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice. [THIS ONE IS THE CLOSEST]

    7.
    religions, Archaic. religious rites. [WELL, I THINK THEY ARE ARCHAIC]

    8.
    Archaic. strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one’s vow.
    —Idiom [NOT WHOLLY WRONG EITHER – I AIM FOR CONSISTENCY]

    9.
    get religion, Informal. [SOUNDS LIKE AN AKA FOR “DRINK THE KOOL-AID”]

    a.
    to acquire a deep conviction of the validity of religious beliefs and practices.
    b.
    to resolve to mend one’s errant ways: The company got religion and stopped making dangerous products.

    ;)

  3. As a participant in this podcast who can be labeled cynical regarding the supernatural I must concur with Jesse. I don’t think either of us is anti-religious, and we’re certainly not anti-spiritual, but perhaps we’re anti-dogma. Speaking for myself now; I believe the issue is simple. People who believe in an omnipotent creature who is outside nature by definition believe in something “super-natural”. Pick up any thesaurus and look up supernatural and you’ll find magic listed as a synonym. So if your god(s) can contravene the laws of physics and make things fall up then you believe in magic. This is not an insult and if you have a semantic objection to the word magic use whatever word you feel best describes the ability to defy nature and logic.

    Now think of the fanatical religious zealots of all religions except your own, and I’ll bet you see some of them as dangerous. The only difference between us is that I don’t have a religion to exclude from that danger, and therein lies the rub. I’m not opposed to religion, I’m opposed to things that can get us all killed. It’s possible that technologically advanced civilizations automatically snuff themselves out and I feel strongly that if they do the likely cause will be people who believe in magic fighting over subjective ideas.

    This doesn’t make magical thinkers bad. Our brains are wired to propose patterns; so much so that we invented the word fallacy to catch ourselves when we overdo it. Every time you flip a coin the odds are 50-50, but that doesn’t keep people who have flipped heads 10 times in a row from believing that tails is due. What you believe does not need to be true.

    My mind is open to anything because I have no certainty even in my own existence. It’s the folks who are absolutely sure about the unverifiable that worry me because they can be persuaded to do anything in defense of shifting sands they want to see as rock. These people don’t have to be religious. There are plenty of secular dogmas and they are just as perilous to our survival. There’s a pretty religious guy I know named Stevie Wonder, and I agree with him when he says, “When you believe in things that you don’t understand you will suffer”. I don’t consider that suffering inevitable and would like to avoid it through understanding. I don’t think that makes Jesse and me anti-religious, even though Jesse probably doesn’t like that song… or any other for that matter.

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