The SFFaudio Podcast #315 – READALONG: Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #315 – Jesse, Seth, and Paul talk about Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison.

Talked about on today’s show:
Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! = 1973 Soylent Green; Seth misattributes A. Lee Martinez’s The Automatic Detective to Harry Harrison; Harry Harrison doesn’t know anything about science, but he’s big on comedy; Robert Sheckley; the novel’s dark tone; J.G. Ballard’s Billenium also focuses on overpopulation; Seth has never seen Soylent Green; Charlton Heston is the science fiction Will Smith of the 1960s and 1970s; Soylent Green is more a sequel to Make Room! Make Room! than an adaptation; horrible people with money living in nice buildings; crapsack; China’s one-child policy; large families in the South; tilapia is the aquatic chicken, freshwater fish from the Nile; the movie has a greater emphasis on global warming; overpopulation as a trending topic in the late 1960s and early 1970s according to Internet Speculative Fiction Database; environmental issues, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, DDT; slightly alternate history in the novel involving Thailand’s invasion of China; refugees comparable to Vietnam boat people; very little science fiction in the novel; resource depletion as a theme in both book and movie; comparison to Nevil Shute’s On the Beach; comparisons to Logan’s Run, which features a “crapsaccharine” future; the bad guy is us; weed crackers; tilapia symbolic of the devolving food chain; modern China is the wild west of capitalism–you can get eggs without egg; wild fish populations like salmon, cod, and walleye dwindling in our own world; the wastefulness of shark fin soup; Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons; on crowded apartments; the positive impact of contraception and birth control; economic prosperity’s ameliorative effect on population growth; hunter-gatherer societies don’t have pharmacies; “abstinence goes against human nature”; RU486; is religion the bad guy in the novel; Peter, the novel’s religious fanatic; you don’t see old people in Hollywood movies anymore; the endless chase for youth; we now live in Logan’s Run; actors and athletes die at 30; Achille’s Choice by Larry Niven; sexism in Soylent Green, women are furniture; difference in tone between the novel and the movie; in the movie, corruption is systemic; on bribing officials in third-world countries; over interpretation; the book as-is isn’t fixable; secrets in movies like The Sixth Sense and Signs; “you can’t get kids to watch old things”; Charlton Heston has bad politics; 1976 Hugo Awards; the shipyards are a throwback to World War II, resemble floating Roman ruins, made of ferroconcrete; there’s not enough war in this novel; stabilizing influence of war in George Orwell’s 1984; Kim Stanley Robinson’s Pacific Edge; worldwide water shortages; Paolo Bacigalupi’s forthcoming The Water Knife; Robert Bloch’s 1958 This Crowded Earth; Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke on the moon landing; youth culture doesn’t love intelligence; elderly U.S. presidents; Netflix’s Daredevil; Saul is the novel’s most likable character; Andy and Saul, don’t call it a bromance; the movie lacks the book’s humanity; the movie is the cynical Chinatown version of reality; Hollywood used to tackle real-life issues in movies, now all we get is The Day after Tomorrow and 2012; we like John Cusack; Airport 1975 with more Charlton Heston action; the tragedy is that most people don’t recognize parodies; the novel’s resonance with the current unrest in Baltimore; the book and the movie are both good medicine; embrace the silent green–or yellow!

Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison

Soylent Green - Riot Control

Soylent Green LEGOized
Penguin - Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison
Berkley - Make Room Make Room by Harry Harrison

Posted by Jesse Willis

3 thoughts to “The SFFaudio Podcast #315 – READALONG: Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison”

  1. It sounds like you speak of corruption being systemic as something different from bribery to officials.

    It’s all the same thing beside the lipstick on the pig.

    Just as complaining about the politics of someone, in this case Heston almost always means that one smeared the lipstick off of the other guys pig but left it on their pig like it proves something.

    Hope and Change, is the slogan for basically every president that’s ran and everyone that will.

    It’s just that people for whatever reason believe they are above Human Nature and that we can be better then we are.

    A Closer look at the history of all of Humanities Saints would cast aside such foolishness.

    This is why SF should always focus more on entertainment instead of trying to brow beat someone with politics. The wisest person of all(whoever that was) once said to “Never argue Politics or Religion with Loved Ones” as it is indeed a Fools errand.

  2. Personally, I don’t find that many books that aren’t about ideas very entertaining. The more novel the ideas – often – the more interesting the book.

    With regard to Heston and his politics – he is often remembered for his later political actions – and not for his many excellent films. Set his politics (early and late aside, and his films are terrific entertainment and full of ideas).

  3. Oh I hear ya and I agree but when one makes it about politics of the left and right(and belittling Hestons political “Ideals” certainly suggests this as well as it suggests that his “Ideals” are not socially acceptable. Which I know you were not intending to make it sound like that but you know as I that it is a very dangerous slope to slip on.

    Now keep in mind I’m replying this way because of all the crap going on with the Hugos and every thing in the last few years that has led up to it and I respond because I want people to STHU about it already. We live in the most free of countries. Buying Power is THE POWER in a Capitalist country. “You buy it, and they will make it” Doesn’t matter if it’s books by transgendered one armed Islamist vegetarians. If there is a demand then they will sell it, And if they are not, then thats a door for someone to step right up and get rich of of doing so(how it works) Blaming someone else for it is also a Fools Errand.(which I’m speaking in general and not at you)

    But It has become a Frankenstein’s monster, And we must not forget that the monster was created (I like to refer to Newtons 3rd law of equal and opposite force/reaction and liken it to how we often create our own enemies)

    I do like a few of Hestons SF films quite a bit but I used to hate on Heston for his politics myself. But it was the casual bigoted hypocrisy of my party that eventually made me learn the error of my ways and stop judging myself on the weaknesses of my so called enemy, but on the weaknesses of my own party and that of myself. Most of which has to do with Ego and pretending one is better then they/we actually are. So many of us so self righteous believe that we are better/above Human Nature. And this has always lead to disaster for everyone, including those who just read SF for entertainment

    I guess if I was another species I might put it more simply and state
    “The Only Good Human is a Dead Human”


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