The SFFaudio Podcast #464 – READALONG: The Commuter by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #464 – Jesse, Paul, Marissa, and Evan Lampe talk about The Commuter by Philip K. Dick

Talked about on today’s show:
Amazing Stories, August-September 1953, the original magazine art, getting the TV adaptation out of the way, remotely redeeming?, intellect, a split, skipping scenes, a chore, enthusiasm, what is there to like about the TV adaptation, emotionally affecting, painful, paranoid schizophrenia, changes, empathy, heartbreaking, watching the TV show first, emotional power, the ending, on the nose, confused, an emotional poignant story, wish come true, saccharine, fake world, getting back to the real world, fraught, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, suicides?, the lady commuter’s creation?, fairy godmother, a place to not deal with your life, fantasy, the script makes no sense, a psychotic incident, the pedophile, why is he commuting?, is he dead, being redeemed, or punished?, to avoid pain, foreshadowing of showing him later, its addictive, it’s like a drug, like taking a sugar substitute, walled off from the real reality, they never had a child, what’s not explained, would his son reappear?, did he change reality?, is he flitting between two realities?, in order to keep the new reality going…, the border between reality and unreality, such a happy trip, friendly and helping, suddenly happier, they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, maybe they wanted to adapt Now Wait For Last Year, New York ’36, those themes, The Cookie Lady, walking back to the house, broken-down van, a mugger, the park bench scene, Adjustment Bureau and Adjustment Team, a friend with a car, commuting into the city on time, Matt Damon, explaining the plot, word salad, in the context of the story, the titular commuter is confused in the story, she’s faking at the beginning of the TV show, she’s luring him into the town, is she trying to help people, angelic vs. demonic, the girl in the cafe, she’s very good with pain, unwittingly, sucks the life out of him, Macon Heights, a wound on his face, is she a vampire?, the substructure, the Borgesian element, the extra story, a ticket clerk grandfather, projecting his own issues, The Cosmic Puppets, a broken marriage for no reason, he writes his reality, so fun, Puttering About In A Small Land, why none of these are working, The Twilight Zone, a new version of Black Mirror, cynical, technology, opening and closing narration, “emotional punch”, what’s really interesting about this story, they’re not easily classifiable, Roog, Beyond The Door, Of Withered Apples, fairy tales, some sort of fantasy, no technology, village council is a kind of technology?, looking it as a fantasy story, structurally it fits speculative fiction, epistemological fiction, a writing exercise, a writing prompt: you walk into your house and it is completely different, the two apartment scenes, Paine, what she’s going to be doing tomorrow morning, as you do, he rushes home, how much of an asshole Paine is, gender assumptions, Marissa went to another reality for a moment, with a female lead, how passive the girlfriend is in the story, maybe I ought to get myself another fella, are you serious right now?, that doesn’t matter, a dystopia for the lady, she’s in hell now, being funny, he named him Paine after all, how deep did he go?, and now he’s got a wife and the baby and they don’t matter, the baby glared up at him, who the fuck are you guys?, Jimmy glared up, it must have been the Sun, poking the baby, a great sense of humour, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges, cosmic horror, a weird fiction story, the branches of a chain of business, an insurance company, prediction, real estate, Krispy Kreme, south of the Fraser (river), it becomes real, why does Paine care at all?, he wants something, he wants to escape, unhappy at work, middle management, disappearing, Paine is much more interested in his stuff and the story in Macon Heights, intellectually curious, there’s something wrong in Basingstoke, fuck Basingstoke, which used teabag in which mug, he’s kind of a shit, ‘I’m more afraid of your fake smile than my (psychotic) son’, three kids by three different mothers, a radical change, am I ill?, the tea and the coffee and the cake is good, his familiar blue couch, cigarette burns on its arms, his desk, his fishing rods, he had purchased, the whole story is materialistic, its about the city and the relationship with the suburbs, ecological narrative, the politics were inverted, the stories are quite grounded, meaningful, it’s 100% about gentrification, he’s become a part of it, the suburbs that almost existed exist now, Macon Heights couldn’t exist without warping the city, how the suburbs transform the city, the story needs to be set in the USA, Levittown, the rise of conservative politics, Robert Moses, New York City, The Power Broker, the racist aspect of the Levittown suburbs, Martians Come In Clouds, Newspapers.com, Philip K. Dick and his wife were going to city councils, it only lost by one vote, when your character roles a 1 on the D20, trying to ground it in some sort of probabilistic reality, there’s no explanation, in a puff of logic, seeing the mechanisms going on behind it, a government that runs reality, men in blue suits are painting the next moment, a probabilistic cloud (of realities), an onion and potato field, the arbitrary nature of it all, walking in the air, the heights are something done by the developers, where they jump of the train, the story went off the rails, we always stop here, how are they going to get back on the train, ridiculous, For A Foggy Night by Larry Niven, parallel worlds, infecting our world, larger and larger ripples, reality intrusion, rewritten and unrecognizable, he’s always been there, Zoroastrian deities transform a town, certain powers, bad at remembering, living through it, panic attack, my wife is changing on me!, my carpet’s not going to be the same!, this is my life now?, Once In A Lifetime (the Talking Heads), Nicolas Cage, Family Man (2000), Poundbury, designed to embody radical social planning innovations, an ideal town, what is that couple who’ve just been married doing there?, randomly hugged by a stranger, when we’re playing Sim City, god mode, a bunch of negotiations and forces, what was strange about Macon Heights was that it was just another suburb, little Bob Critchet, their branch expansion, the infection of this reality has spread, some trend or force in the universe comes into your awareness, some horrible incident in Florida (as usual), bubbling up to the surface, a gradual realization, seeping into reality, Upon The Dull Earth, its spreading, Time Out Of Joint, a little bit off, percolating into the surrounding structure, almost like the subconscious, knowing something you didn’t know, there is a country in Central America…, popping up out of the subconscious (out of the reality), Kelowna or Nanaimo, there’s another world out there, Panama, a made up name Pan and Am(ericas)!, so duh!, sudden sharp horrors, the beach eroded or reshaped, dealing with the subconscious, outside of your awareness, in L.A., mysterious, your brain is doing all these mysterious things, why it’s not science fiction or fantasy, the epistemological and the psychological, a cool idea, pulling different threads out of it, why do they keep the names the same (or change them), Jacobsen, like he’s a detective on an epistemological investigation, Jesse loves the story, do you literally understand what is going on?, is she Prince Charles?, Ed’s story, its not addressed, are they in Hell?, not dealing with trauma, now Jesse has a handle, he the quality continues to evolve (or not).

The Commuter by Philip K. Dick from Amazing Stories, August-September 1953

Posted by Jesse Willis

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