The SFFaudio Podcast #139 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Pyramid Of Amirah by James Patrick Kelly


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #139 – The Pyramid Of Amirah by James Patrick Kelly, read by James Patrick Kelly. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the short story (16 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it (by Jesse, Tamahome, and James Patrick Kelly himself). Here’s the ETEXT.

Talked about on today’s show:
Call him Jim!, James Patrick Kelly’s FREE READS podcast, “a gift story”, PBS, Mayan temples, ancient Mayan empire, Copán (Honduras), “time passes”, “2,000 words of nothing happening and 200 words of everything changes”, is it Science Fiction or Fantasy?, David G. Hartwell, Katherine Cramer Year’s Best Fantasy 3, 3D TV, the Earstone is the iPod Nano’s successor, Catholicism, religion, it’s a Horror story, sacrificial victims who volunteer, is Amirah hallucinating?, David Hume on miracles, take a miracle and make it a recipe, Memphis (Egypt), is religion a fantasy?, what is slipstream?, proto-slipstream, “Kelly Link is a goddess”, Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, cognitive dissonance, slipstream encourages cognitive dissonance, “for every religion there is an equal and opposite religion”, “making the familiar strange and the strange familiar”, horror, comedy, Fantasy, The Lord Of The Rings, Science Fiction, Nine Billion Names Of God by Arthur C. Clarke, The Crawling Chaos, James Patrick Kelly doesn’t fully understand The Pyramid Of Amirah, is the Dalai Lama happy?, stay in your god tombs, The Girl Detective, Karen Joy Fowler, Carol Emshwiller, Franz Kafka, readers are happier when they’re really really surprised, most readers don’t re-reread stories, slipstream is a balcony on the house of fiction, behind the push of science is the turbulence of religion and the fantastic, Bruce Sterling, Ted Chiang is slipstream?, J.R.R. Tolkien, some short stories are Rorschach tests, Bruce Coville’s Full Cast Audio, Robert A. Heinlein’s juvenile novels, the love hate relationship with Heinlein, Heinlein’s villains are all straw men, Starship Troopers, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Heinlein’s sexy mother, Heinlein’s late career needed editing, Stranger In A Strange Land, stories in dialogue with other stories, Think Like A Dinosaur is in dialogue with The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin (and the controversy about it), The New York Review Of Science Fiction, not all problems are institutional problems (you are going to die), institutional facts vs. brute facts, John W. Campbell, was Campbell a terrible editor?, “all stories must have telepathy”, the story that must not be named (in Galaxy SF April 1975), Jim Baen, religious Science Fiction, Death Therapy by James Patrick Kelly, Terry Carr, The Best Science Fiction of the Year #8, collaborations, John Kessel, Jonathan Lethem, Robert Frazier, ISFDB, The Omega Egg, Mike Resnick, Kafkaesque: Stories Inspired by Franz Kafka, Tachyon Publications, The Secret History Of Science Fiction, The Drowned Giant by J.G. Ballard, The Lottery Of Babylon by Jorge Luis Borges, Max Brod, Joe Hill, Heart Shaped Box, You Will Hear The Locust Sing by Joe Hill, T.C. Boyle, Michael Chabon, Carter Scholz, Don DeLillo, Lucius Shepard, The Nine Billion Names Of God by Carter Scholz, A Recursion In Metastories by Arthur C. Clarke, post-cyberpunk stories, what is post-cyberpunk?, Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, Cheap Truth, the way technology changes the way we are, Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, a new cyberpunk anthology is in the works, is there pre-cyberpunk?, Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick isn’t really cyberpunky, steampunk has a vision, what is the ethos of a steampunk story?, alternate history, goggles and zeppelins vs. computer hacking and mirror-shades, Pavane by Keith Roberts, William Gibson, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Bernardo’s House is an iconically Jim Kelly short story, Isaac Asimov, robots, a post-cyberpunk character, a prim and proper sex doll, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury, Mary Robinette Kowal, puppets, a stage adaptation of There Will Come Soft Rains.

A Recursion In Metastories by Arthur C. Clarke (Galaxy SF, October 1966 - Page 78)

The Pyramid Of Amirah by James Patrick Kelly - from Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2002

Posted by Jesse Willis

7 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #139 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Pyramid Of Amirah by James Patrick Kelly”

  1. I can’t believe I missed a discussion of a short story written after 1970, with an author STILL LIVING who also knows about mainstream literature. Doh!

    Love Kelly Link, love Jonathan Lethem (I’ve read everything he’s written, I think). Jesse, you should try some of George Saunders’ short stories, as literary as he is you may still like them. I was laughing hysterically about not even knowing Don Delillo or TC Boyle but I’m better now.

    A question I would have liked to ask Jim is to differentiate between slipstream and “the weird,” the way the Vandermeers are currently trying to define it.

  2. Great podcast as always. Nice to hear some discussion of slipstream.

    I’ve not read it myself, but John Brunner’s 1975 novel “The Shockwave Rider” is usually cited as a key proto-Cyberpunk text. Amongst other things it’s where the malware term “worm” originates from.

  3. Thanks Ultra Mech Ok.

    Stand On Zanzibar is the only John Brunner novel audiobooked so far. I’d be interested in reading it and Shockwave Rider too.

  4. I just listened to 139, and have some thoughts about the discussion of the definition of “slipstream.”

    Your discussion made me think of the “Uncanny Valley” (, the phenomena where robots that become too lifelike are unsettling.

    I have always used the the definition “not of this world” for Fantasy; suppose you defined genres by their “distance” from reality, thusly (this is off the top of my head, this ordering is probably incorrect):

    not of this world
    | fantasy
    | speculative fiction
    | science fiction
    | hard science fiction
    | slipstream
    | documentary
    of this world

    I would speculate that “slipstream” is the uncanny valley of fiction; so very close to reality, yet strikingly different so as to produce the cognitive dissonance that you were speaking of.

    — Charles

  5. That was another great episode. Great story, great discussion.
    The slipstream discussion was great, too.
    Gave me a lot of thinking.

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