The SFFaudio Podcast #639 – James P. Crow by Philip K. Dick – read by Mike Vendetti. This is a complete and unabridged reading of novelette (43 Minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Marissa VU, and Evan Lampe,
Talked about on today’s show:
Planet Stories, May 1954, little Donnie’s last name, Parks, Jim Crow, civil rights for an oppressed minority, institutional speciesism, taking this allegory too directly, more like China, selfish motivations, say her name [Rosa Parks] didn’t become a public figure until 1955, playing with the name, segregation, structural inequality, intellectual divergences between the robots and the humans, how we define success, W.E.B. Du Bois, cheating on a rigged test, its an SAT, if you make the test its a test that you can pass, a meritocracy test, a robot test, all the robots don’t get perfect answers, A – Z robots, D and beyond, D and above, a robot being mean to a human, it was true he was a human child, a human being in a robot’s world, you smell, The Matrix (1999), Star Trek: Enterprise, human stink, being more intellectually advanced, more logical, they can’t handle smell, the origin of that trope, associated with barbarians, they stink, the opposite test, the Voight Kampf Blade Runner test, the same author, anti-racist, he’s trying to do a story about racism, but class is also tied up so strongly with it, Indian Science Fiction, caste and class, disentangling, what’s he gonna do?, so preposterous things, a true anti-racist story, a problematic story, the cooking test, separate but equal, James P. Crow’s solution is segregation, the time window that we have, the program of integration, Colin Powell, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, successfully run the empire, become part of the ruling class, upset the apple cart, a shame covering maneuver, the truth’s going to come out at some point, Earth is a reservation, humans can’t leave, Time Out Of Joint, one happy world, a sequel to Second Variety?, robots built during the war, the Leadies, the vidsender, the time viewer, the time scoop, Paycheck, the Future History, just selling stories, using the tools of his imagination over and over again, what the title meant, Jesse’s not American, why his middle initial is P., Jim Crow is a weird etymology, the mid-19th century blackface character, James P. Johnson, a ragtime jazz musician, some hidden meaning, some hilarious joke, at the end of the story, Johnson died in 1955, classical music, a typical Philip K. Dick ending: I wonder what’s going to happen?, the congress, a strange granite cast to his face, Mount Rushmore, a peculiar harness, L87T, who’ll be the government?, The Turning Wheel, liberated humans from overseers, the master race, he’s a cheater, black doctors and famous scholars, a revered place within black communities, famous baseball player, they just can’t be held back, evidence for them, spending time with Donny Parks and his family, spending time with James P. Crow, stories where robots were black, as a metaphor, all the robots are white and all the humans are black, looking at it as an analogy for the United States in the 1950s, an incredibly powerful position, his smile seems menacing, the Humans Are Equal Party, he lecture the robot that they’re not equal, a very subversive thing, very human, the robots are more human than human, seeing history as it was, always working, he is the power, a bit of a dick, a worse robot like character, the husband from Human Is, inhabited by a PahWraith (Deep Space Nine), I’m a sweaty hairy big apey guy and this cute little elfin lady likes me, playing into that fantasy, he’s building, humans are good at entertaining, playing into black stereotypes, good at domestics, body servants [to robots], civil service exams, poll taxing, literacy tests, Protestant tests given to Italians, who grades the test, peasants studying, the Indian civil service exam, Rebecca Rebecca [R] F. Kuang the previously called Campbell Award, the Astounding Award, alternate history, the words boycott and gerrymander, these liberal universities SAT requirements, vocabulary words, when you Marshall your arguments, helping the Chinese elites become the American elites, a landowner who wouldn’t lower the rent, they shunned Boycott, voter suppression, power elites trying to keep in power, a Massachusetts mayor, a vice president with no primary votes, special circumstances, there’s always special circumstances, literally nuked, I could live in the mountains, surviving the initial blast, so good at getting in kid’s heads, Tony And The Beetles, its actually Bajor and he’s a Cardassian, they put us in these situations, the people in power, it feels like Philip K. Dick is smarter than he is, his dad, Edgar, those robots were contributing to society, so much in the fifties, some kind of dystopia breaking up, Vulcan’s Hammer, Solar Lottery, Now Wait For Last Year, Our Friends From Frolix 8, the future is unwritten, a weakness or a wisdom, a dark vision, The Crystal Crypt, send them all back to Africa (Liberia), some people bought into this, controlled by people in power, James P. Crow is the segregationist, his solution is Apartheid, Lesotho, such an American story, a 1955 letter, a Zora Neale Hurston letter to the Orlando Sentinel, the Indian position, a minority opinion, the argument Biden made at the time, a bunch of different reactions, on the side of good [except for being rabidly anti-communist], Booker T. Washington, growth from within, we don’t need white people, how Koreans and Chinese deal with inherent racism in the United States, quotas to keep them out, they just study harder, a cultural acceptance, that’s not our way, why do we want to be part of a system like that, we have our own thing going, Nick And The Glimmung, 1944, The Slave Race by Philip K. Dick, Berkeley Daily Gazette, May 8, 1944, culture and science was among them, worlds undreamed of, war followed in our steps, ambivalence, the robot on top, he can maintain his power, an autocrat, he gave the technology to the oppressor, talking about Lovecraft and the theme of deliberate forgetting, retelling the same story from a different angle, The Alchemist, The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward, trying to suppress knowledge, real historical figures, The Tree, he’s hidden in it a suppressed story, trying to prevent knowledge, always tilling up the earth, At The Mountains Of Madness, forbidden knowledge, civil unrest in the US under Jim Crow, not supportive of integration, not supportive of a rosy future together, fascinating stuff, very subtle, naive going in, we aren’t told, we just see that smile and that power disparity, the servant to him, watching humans construct the first A type, where black people came from, a horrible Lovecraft
letter [actually a poem], suppressing the feelings of being an immoral monster, there are differences between people between cultures, passing these tests, should everyone be equal or should everyone be treated equally?, remunerative careers, Grace Park, the only way our family can move up at all, basic survival, being second class, parallel evil lies: “separate but equal” and “work will set you free”, Planet Of The Apes, a Dreamworks option, a technological Planet Of The Apes, what’s so awesome about this, being displaced from this, creating other human beings is something you do in your bedroom or on the beach when on vacation, barnyard animals, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, air pressure differentials, the breeding of human beings could be an invention, what’s natural and what’s unnatural, change your perspective, Roombas cleaning your carpets, dishwashers washing your dishes, everything’s natural (in a certain sense), if you are taken out of your community, are we inferior, dad?, human is a slur, growing up on a planet full of robots, the kids who wants to be Data (on Star Trek: The Next Generation), loose your cultural legacy, why would construct themselves, newly formed, where does the original king come from, patriarchy is from God, every hierarchy constructed themselves, it’s impossible to conceive of a city without police now, your iPhone 6 vs. your iPhone 7+, Reason by Isaac Asimov, apples and eggs, Asimov is more right about robots, Dick is more right about power, apes engaged in archaeology, our people would have discovered this, what is the robot origin myth, the premise of this story and the themes, not a fun read, oh that’s really interesting, had he expanded it, more time with the robots and the family and less time with James P. Crow himself, the core of this story, L87T, your really inspire us, his right gripper, the equality sign, it lingered at the door, he’s turning into Malcolm X, I don’t want to be part of your liberal elite, look at your list scores, a human isn’t the equal of a robot anymore than he’s the equal of a stove, sing act, write plays, make love, scratch sonnets on menus, soft music mixed with wine, both realms are fine, separate spheres, domestic spheres, raise wonderful men, women have an essential role, a non-sinister ending, society, that’s the robot’s question, its not up to you, you don’t need to concern yourself with us here in Liberia, a powerful story, not what you expected, electric jeep, that other twist, a cop-out, kind of wise, everything worked out in the end, an ambiguous ending is preferred, all of the action in the story is superfluous to what happened, he got this power point ready, here’s my ultimatum, no wonder it doesn’t satisfy, a nice glimpse into a very weird and semi-plausible world that’s also a metaphor for our own world, Grace and Ed, too early, untrustworthy, that’s Philip K. Dick sitting at his desk, get that rent paid, an interstellar connection, a city mention?, Ed swallowed nervously, only 300 years, before that the government was reactionary, nowadays we have a liberal government, no human has ever passed a list, brutal, similarities to Frolix 8, a couple versions of post-humans, the psis, the mentat types, the facade of, Tony And The Beetles, The Hanging Stranger, Martians Come In Clouds, amoeba things just passing through, psychic blobs, we just want to relocate because Mars is doomed, black people come to the neighbourhood, a better allegory for civil rights, Philip K. Dick review is Evan, the Philip K. Dick fans page, The White Whale, a favourite book, post-colonial, sickmyduck.narod.ru, Prize Ship, let’s book that, end of January , wow the future, actors aging in place, Terry Farrell, an alien planet that looks suspiciously like southern California, bottle episodes, Paul’s first Star Trek convention, why aren’t you talking about that fight scene you did with your shirt off, a very bad hot take that’s very cold now, why you don’t need the actors to talk, Rene Auberjonois directs some episode, Ferengi talking about Ferenganar problems, a layer of universe, really rich, more drama based, Klingon mother in law doesn’t like it, the naked Betazed marriage ceremony, Marissa needs to get into Deep Space Nine, lots and lots of notes, Evan’s podcast, Sinclair Lewis who dat?, Henry James, technically an American writer, a traitor, the English don’t get him, isn’t Lovecraft a traitor, a British subject, hilarious hair-splitting, Doyle’s , Lord Dunsany’s fine because he’s from island, James Herriot, don’t try to undermine my prejudice, H.G. Wells, the Queen has a place in Scotland, he’s the Prince of Wales not the Prince of England, not just the yoga scenes, its shipping not sexing, sexual politics but no actual sex, alien babies, sex rituals of the planet Risa, rough patches, so many good Science Fiction ideas, counting coup, all the women are huge and all the men are tiny, Federation castaways, it was all about the 80s feminism, stop at the cookie store on the way home, big hair, shoulder pads, 1987, mid-80s, you can hear the set creak, still puppets, Worf is super conservative, most klingons are larping it, Worf intellectualizes it, he’s like Lovecraft trying to be an English lord, General Martok is way chill, I don’t get to have sex with her very often, if you don’t have Quark and Garak and Nog and Rom in your life, the first season of Babylon 5 is rougher, Alfred Bester is a psi-cop, The Demolished Man.