The SFFaudio Podcast #118 – READALONG: Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #118 – Scott, Jesse and Tamahome talk about Philip K. Dick’s wonderful novelette Upon The Dull Earth (available in Blackstone Audio’s The Selected Stories Of Philip K. Dick Volume 2)

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond Fantasy Fiction, the prolific Philip K. Dick, Galaxy Magazine, H.L. Gold, is Upon The Dull Earth Fantasy or Science Fiction, suburban romance?, rural romance, Jesse loves the setting, cedars, angels, The Odyssey, On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Jesse’s terrible Philip K. Dick impersonation, a wooden faucet?, a one way ladder to another plane, using your coffin as a cocoon, “Rick, I cut myself.”, Rick is responsible for her death, is Rick in hell?, Silvia is a sick chick, shortly after Silvia’s incineration, blood from a New Jersey abattoir, Upon The Dull Earth would be perfect for the A Good Story Is Hard To Find podcast, God has moved on up, HE is capitalized, she’s Fantasy, he’s Science Fiction, she’s elf-like, he’s machine-like, iron and spirits don’t mix, ridding one’s self of civilization, Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle |READ OUR REVIEW|, uisge beatha mean “the water of life” (or whisky), is Silvia depressed?, YA, valkyries, insects, The Hanging Man had insects too, witch vs. saint, remember Prometheus and the fire?, ripples from the event, kraals of white skinned young women, is this all going on in Rick’s head, Rick picks up a hitchhiker to use him as a guinea pig, “you’re crowding me man”, going into the underworld to get back your dead girlfriend, when someone dies you mourn your loss, Plato (and Aristophanes’) story about the mythological division of male from female (The Symposium), “we were meant to be together”, “you complete me” and similar cliches, what happens at the end?, Fair Game by Philip K. Dick, Philip K. Dick stories often have a roadside cafe scene and a gas station scene, “like the doves in a John Woo movie”, where does the title of Upon The Dull Earth come from?, she was merely playing at death, disturbed spirits thirsty for blood, the natural of order of things has been violated, William Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act 4, Scene 2, the character name Sylvia comes from the play, but sylvan means “of the wood”, is she a fairy?, HBO’s True Blood, Icarus, the Wikipedia entry for Upon The Dull Earth, the many mentions of clay, Wonder Woman came from clay, Batman: False Faces by Brian K. Vaughn, J. Michael Straczynski, the Golem, Ted Chiang’s Seventy-Two Letters, The Adventures Of Cavalier And Clay by Michael Chabon, capricious (adj.) Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior, religion, Steven H Silver’s review of Seventy-Two Letters (and Stories Of Your Life And Other Stories), FREE TED CHIANG!, Saint Bernadette, Philip K. Dick really cares about the way the story is told, we never see inside a character’s mind, the authorial view, is Dick popular in for movies for this reason?, it’s grotesque!, she filled the Silex, “We’re all going to have wings!”, “We won’t be worms anymore”, Silvia’s looking for an abusive relationship, Blackstone Audio, the audiobook, Upon The Dull Earth is best read aloud, Tama didn’t know how fantastical Dick was, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, its a Noir Horror Science Fiction Fantasy story, anime, Berserk, Project A-Ko, Princess Mononoke, I only understand Japanese movies made by Akira Kurosawa, Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, “I can barely understand the people wearing a Storm Trooper costumes”, Jesse needs some accessible anime, Spirited Away, what are the background assumptions in anime, Cowboy Beebop intro, Luke’s review of Solaris on SFBRP, Erik S. Rabkin, Just Imagine is a crazy musical with plenty of background assumptions (like prohibition), Hey Want To Watch A Movie? podcast, is there an MST3K podcast?, Tam was thinking of the non-podcast, readalong vs. watchalong, The Thing, The Thing From Another World, The Thing (2011), Captain America: The First Avenger, The Amazing Spider-Man, comic books vs. Hollywood, The Avengers will be written and directed by Joss Whedon, swastikas are banned in Germany, it’s a case of it’s time to end the podcast.

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick - BEYOND FANTASY FICTION #9 (November 1954) illustrations by Rene Vidmer

Posted by Jesse Willis

16 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #118 – READALONG: Upon The Dull Earth by Philip K. Dick”

  1. Jesse, if you want to try an anime that isn’t completely out-there, check out The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. 90% of it is a slice-of-life tale about a high school student and the weird girl who sits behind him in class, and the other 10% involves their search for aliens, ESPers, time travelers and sliders.

    Just skip episode 1 as it doesn’t make any sense until you’ve seen the whole series.

    You should also take a look at the publisher Haikasoru, which is translating Japanese sci-fi novels into English. You should like them because (A) the Japanese believe anything more than 250 pages is a long book, and (B) they tend to have a much more optimistic outlook on the future, making their books closer in tone to Clarke and Asimov than modern writers.

  2. Sean. Thanks! I’ve started The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya at episode 2. It looks interesting, thanks!

    And I will keep my eye out for a Haikasoru book – I like the nice and short aspect a lot.

  3. Download box pops up as soon as the page loads…page hasn’t updated since Mondays pod cast was put up…colors off to a deep purple. Happened Mon or Sun night after the new podcast was put up.

  4. Rick. Thanks.

    Personally my main problem with the site has been its slow loading.

    That “follow” button thing (on the right hand side of the site) is new, an experiment – i don’t know if it is useful yet.

    We upgraded wordpress and added a bunch of new features – most happily a much more aggressive tag cloud and a “Similar Posts” feature. We also added those social networking buttons (which I’m not quite convinced about yet).

    The site hasn’t been updated with new posts because we haven’t posted anything. Which is a bit unusual. Here are my two excuses:

    1. I’m listening to a big audiobook THE INCREDIBLE, THE AMAZING AND THE UNKNOWN by Paul Malmont

    2. I have been pretty busy during the mornings and evenings

    So yeah, I feel guilty about the lack of content. To remedy this I’ve just now posted a big post on THE BLACK STONE.

    There will be more content next week, I expect. I was invited to participate in SFSignal’s podcast this week and that will be online around Monday.

    Not sure what’s going on with the colours. What browser and version # are you using?

    It looks ok in Firefox 5.0, Safari 5.0.5, and Chrome 12.

  5. IE 8 or 9…no problems on other sites and it just changed on yours when the problem started. Deep purple..can’t read much.

  6. Thanks Rick, I’ll see what I can figure out. I haven’t been able to replicate the problem yet… I’ve got IE 8 on this machine and it looks normal. Will keep looking.

  7. Everything looks and acts normal now. Colors normal…the download doesn
    ‘t try to start automatically just by the page opening now. You did good.

  8. Accessible anime for Jesse … I think that if you have ever watched Firefly you would like the Cowboy Bebop series. The movie, however, tends to jump around in a way that you might find disorienting based on your other comments. I also HIGHLY recommend Tokyo Godfathers. A movie that no one mentions much but which I love. Our entire family has enjoyed all of the Hayao Miyazaki movies, some more than others. You might find The Castle of Cagliostro more accessible than Spirited Away. More of a crime/gangster story than anything.

    St. Bernadette and the hospital … for me this indicated that Dick had a parallel universe for his story since St. Bernadette had her visions of Mary near a little grotto in the woods, with nothing at all nearby. Definitely there were no blood-drinking angels … ha! Same with her comments about the saints and martyrs cutting … obviously an alternate reality. However, St. Bernadette was a young girl of about 14 when she had her visions. To me, Silvia’s enthusiasm was more like that of the 10 year olds who tell their mothers they want to be saints or nuns and play pretend (this is a fairly common thing … the mothers are always thrilled and I reserve comment, because I remember at that age wanting to be a stewardess – glamorous! … it usually fades). But Silvia has taken it to another level and didn’t stop when she got older.

    The few Philip K. Dick stories I have read all have fairly fantastical elements. The one with the cuckoo clock particularly comes to mind. Is this true of a particular period of his short stories since Tamahome hadn’t come across this element before?

  9. Thanks for the recomendations, will keep them handy!

    Funny you should mention that cuckoo clock story – we are recording a podcast on it next Sunday – wanna participate?

  10. The premise of Upon the Dull Earth

    Upon the Dull Earth is a scientific-fiction story written by Philip K. Dick. The tale begins with two characters; Silvia and Rick. These two teenagers are a couple, but Silvia has the power to attract white figures with wings that drink blood and hate metal. Rick thinks that this is a dangerous thing to do but Silvia tells Rick that they are her ancestors. Rick knows what these creatures want. They want Silvia, but Silvia doesn’t really notice that. Silvia’s family is worried about her too. One night, Silvia and Rick go down to the basement in Silvia’s house. Silvia wanted to show Rick something so Rick just follows her out of curiosity. Silvia shows Rick an oak coffin, which was a “cocoon” for herself when she goes away with her ancestors. While she is holding on to it, Rick gets worried and pulls her. Suddenly, Silvia’s facial expression darkens. Her finger bleeds. Silvia orders Rick to stay as far away from her as possible. Rick doesn’t yet understand what she means, so he just goes upstairs to get some adhesive tape to stop the bleeding. By the time Rick was returns, he cannot see Silvia. He immediately realizes that the creatures had come for her and taken her away. Rick wants to bring her back. But how can he?

  11. Vocabulary for Upon the Dull Earth
    1. Rapturous (adj)- expressing extreme pleasure or enthusiasm for somebody/something
    Ex. Sentence: I was rapturous because I got a perfect score on my math test.

    2. Sullen (adj)- silent and bad-tempered, either on a particular occasion or because it is part of your character
    Ex. Sentence: I am sullen because I have lots of unfinished homework that is due in an hour.

    3. Feeble (adj)- very weak
    Ex. Sentence: I felt shame because I was the feeblest person in my school, I couldn’t even lift my textbook.

    4. Grotesque (adj)- strange in a way that is unpleasant or offensive
    Ex. Sentence: It was grotesque to see the inside of the salmon with all its blood coming out.

    5. Bewilderment (n)- a feeling of being completely confused
    Ex. Sentence: Her bewilderment was caused by the bike being parked at the parking space.

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