The SFFaudio Podcast #122 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #122 – a complete and unabridged reading of Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick, followed by a discussion of it with Scott, Jesse, Tamahome and Gregg Margarite (who narrated the story).

Talked about on today’s show:
Beyond The Door is a story about a very angry bird, is it a puff-piece or a potboiler?, Rod Serling, Twilight Zone, “My name is Talky Tina and I’m going to kill you.”, Living Doll, Telly Savalas, Clown Without Pity (from Treehouse of Horror III), Night Gallery, Chucky, were clowns always scary?, automaton, fantasy, is it a haunted cuckoo clock?, what does that mean?, why is that in there?, who is Pete?, Pete has to be her dead brother, did Pete die in the same way?, the Black Forest, what’s wrong with this woman?, “it was written in the fifties!”, she’s happy and she’s sad, Umberto Eco and the role of the reader, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Eric S. Rabkin, Warehouse 13, is the first line a moral lesson (or merely a magazine call out)?, Project Gutenberg’s etext edition of Beyond The Door, Fantastic Universe Science Fiction, this story is not about a cuckoo clock, it’s about the cuckoo bird and the cuckoo egg, and the egg’s name is Pete, Perky Pat, Gregg has read Philip K. Dick’s Exegesis, James Joyce, what am I thinking?, what am I feeling?, “keep thinking about that”, “it’s wholesale baby”, this is sex, Bob is her lover (in the 1950s sense), anthropomorphizing cuckoo clock’s bird is not that uncommon, “you’ll love it Bobby”, this is a really strange clock, it would keep you up all night, the cuckoo clock fad (they were ubiquitous), “like a new member of the family”, what is the symbol of?, the cuckoo is a brood parasite, the characteristics of cuckoo eggs and chicks, “some important special accounts” sounds like a story, “how nice you look today”, “Mrs. Peters across the street you know…”, “oh oh oh”, Pete was only her half brother, “it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you need 5,000 words by ten a.m.”, Clans Of The Alphane Moon, Dick’s many marriages, Tessa Dick, structuralism vs. post structuralism, writer’s intent vs. the text standing alone, does the author’s intent matter?, a bastard child, “she’s seen this thing in action before”, the great depression -> WWII -> many impulsive marriages, Bob isn’t gay, “no guy is interested in buttons!”, “does he realize he is next in line?”, “monogamy is designed to makes sure the male gets a genetic heir”, the cuckoo is her champion, “I like a good deal”, “he’s rude, he doesn’t deserve to die”, there’s no magic, no science fiction, folklore, mythology, proto-story, Scott read Beyond The Door aloud to his daughter, James Thurber’s The Princess And The Tin Box, Anthony Boucher, three or four princes, reverse-dowry, “red charger” vs. plow horse, mica and hornblende, she’s not an idiot, anyone who thought she was going to…, this is an overturning of that, it’s a fractured fairy tale, a noir fairy tale, Frank R. Stockton, The Griffin and the Minor Canon, Snow White as a horror story, Rocky And Bullwinkle, June Foray, William Conrad, Jake And The Fatman, “finish before it burns”, the Marx Bros., the self-deprecating stuff we like today, Forever Peace, we got it sorted, anecdotal proof.

Posted by Jesse Willis

6 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #122 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Beyond The Door by Philip K. Dick”

  1. Hey, guys. My take on this is that Doris is upset about Larry cheapening the clock by telling her he got it wholesale. This has more to do with the root cause of the problems in the marriage than with the infidelity. The word cuckold comes from cuckoo, at least that’s what Wikipedia says. so the clock represents infidelity. That’s why it wouldn’t be right to keep it in the bedroom, though that seems like Dick talking to us rather than Doris. I’m guessing Pete is Doris’ step-father, who would have been getting it on with her mom while she was still married to her dad. And I felt positive that Bob was having an affair -sexual and not intellectual – with Doris. And cuckoo clocks, like many other old-timey clocks, make noise every quarter hour, with more noise on the hour.

  2. I like the cut of your jib sir.

    However, I must ask you about Mrs. Peters across the street. How does she fit into your theory?

  3. Oh, I thought Peter was St. Peter, you know, like in ‘for Pete’s sake’? Ok I’m reaching.

    Youtube took down the living doll video. Talky Tina doesn’t think youtube is very nice.

  4. Ornaments (n) – an object that is used as decoration in a room, garden/yard, etc. rather than for a particular purpose.
    Ex. I hung my Christmas ornaments on the Christmas tree so it can be pretty.
    Contemplation (n) – the act of thinking deeply about something
    Ex. He sat there deep in contemplation, considering to live in Canada or the USA.
    Remorse (n) – the feeling of being extremely sorry for something wrong or bad that you have done.
    Ex. I felt remorse for lying to my best friend.

  5. Essay Questions:
    1. Why is Doris upset? Does she say anything that explains it?
    2. Who is “Pete”?
    3. What is a cuckoo?
    4. What is a cuckoo clock?
    5. Why does everyone in the story talk to the clock’s bird like it is a person?
    6. If the bird is symbolic, what is it a symbol of?
    7. What is the name of the woman across the street when Bob comes to Doris’ door? And why is it important?
    8. Why does the conclusion of the story not tell the whole story?

    Doris is upset because Larry bought her a cuckoo clock, wholesale. She doesn’t say anything that explains her feelings except “A cuckoo clock!…Just like my mother had, when Peter was still alive.” From this we can assume that Pete was Doris’ younger brother, and that he died.

    Now, a cuckoo is a type of a bird. And a cuckoo clock is a clock that has a cuckoo bird inside of it. It tells the time by its cry. Everyone in the story talks to the clock’s bird like it is a person. Doris treats it like a person because it symbolizes Pete, her younger brother. Larry treats it like a person because it symbolizes the bastard child which Doris and Bobby might have.

    The name of the woman across the street is Mrs. Peters. Her name is important because it allows us to suppose that Mr. Peters, her absent husband, impregnated Doris’ mother with Pete. This is why the conclusion of the story does not tell the whole story.

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