PODCAST:

S4E9B – The Last Unicorn (book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we discuss a beloved classic of american fantasy literature as well as some unfortunate and lengthy legal travails undertaken by its author. I am joined again by my cousin, Kaelin O’Reilly, a book reviewer (Kaelin Reads YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3r-oumDi_CsMoFH4-vTqSA) for her second appearance on the podcast. This is our first recorded duo episode for NDIOS, but the second to be released (podcast time doesn’t adhere to the normal rules of the space time continuum). 

Both of us enjoyed the author’s noted lyrical quality of prose and appreciated the depth of dimension found in the main and secondary characters. The bumbling well intentioned wizard was a favorite. Kaelin brought out some quotes demonstrating the author’s writing as well as his skill in light-touch worldbuilding. He manages to create a secondary world that hints at our own but is very much different with an effective brand of low-magic based in wonder, and absurdist humor that is contrasted by real world consequence. 

After an utterly epic book synopsis that went on far too long, Ryan noted that the ending was particularly unique and powerful and Kaelin identified aspects of feminism coming through. Ryan admitted to be influenced by the highly esteemed praise and love for this piece of literature, but found that there was simply nothing else he wanted from it that might cause it to fall short of a perfect rating. Kaelin said that the more she discussed the story the more she discovered new layers of meaning to enjoy, which pushed her rating higher than it was at the start of the show (an occurrence not so uncommon on NDIOS). 

All around a good book discussion was had by all.**

-Ryan

**CORRECTION: During the podcast Ryan incorrectly stated that Peter S. Beagle wrote the screenplay for the 1978 animated film “The Hobbit,” and possibly the 1980 animated film “The Return of the King,” which were both directed by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. The screenwriter for both of those films is credited as Romeo Muller who also worked on other famous screenplays for the duo directors. Kaelin had it right when she stated that Peter S. Beagle worked on the screenplay for the 1978 animated movie “The Lord of the Rings,” which was directed by Ralph Bakshi. In actuality, Beagle is given co-writing credit on that screenplay with Chris Conkling who is named first. (Updated 9/17/19)

 

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

“The Last Unicorn (1968)” by Peter S. Beagle (book) 

Ryan: 5 Stars “…Magical prose that flows in lyrical quality and somber notes in deft creation of a profound myth that is familiar and yet completely unique. Hope and regret and joy and sadness–a complete and wondrous tale…

Kaelin: 3.75 Stars “…it’s filled with pretty round characters that are interesting and very different, and it’s an adventure story but it also has a really good touch of humor in it as well…a really good fantasy fairy tale…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

During the episode Ryan and Kaelin briefly mentioned working together on a short comedic film called “Shut-Eye” written and directed by her brother and past NDIOS guest Mike O’Reilly which is available on Mike’s YouTube Channel and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxzJP1cjrjk. Kaelin has her own BookTube channel there where she has done some video blogs on books she has read: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3r-oumDi_CsMoFH4-vTqSA. She is currently more active with her bookish interests on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/KaelinO.

The author for this book has influenced many other authors over the years including fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss (The Kingkiller Chronicle) who interviewed Peter S. Beagle at the 2018 SFWA Nebula Award conference. That interview is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shesTIgpibc. On the podcast we discussed how this author wrote screenplays including co-writing the uniquely animated and story-stunted version of “The Lord of the Rings” released in 1978 and directed by Ralph Bakshi. On a side note, Peter S. Beagle’s absurdist humor and playful nod at classic fantasy and fairy tale tropes in this work reminded Ryan of Harvard Lampoon‘s parody effort at LOTR called: Bored of the Rings.

During the bio portion of the Podcast the author’s various legal struggles were talked about. There are a few websites tracking this over various blog posts including a Snopes article which were used for research. These can be found here:

 

We also stated that over the years the author has either wrote more tales set in the same universe as this story or about the subject of unicorns. There are at least two which can be found free online. If you want to read these check out the story “Two Hearts” which acts as a Coda to this book at: http://www.peterbeagle.com/works/shorts/two_hearts.htm; and a story about the bumbling wizard, Shmendrick, that was featured in Fantasy Magazine called “The Woman Who Married the Moon” here: http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/new/new-fiction/the-woman-who-married-the-man-in-the-moon/. Two more stories about the wizard (The Green-Eyed Boy” and Schmendrick Alone”) and three stories about different kinds of unicorns (Chinese in “The Story of Kao Yu,” Persian in “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann,” and North American in “Olfert Dapper’s Day”) unrelated to this narrative are collected in the author’s anthology “The Overneath,” which was reviewed by Gary K. Wolfe for science fiction industry magazine “Locus” here: https://locusmag.com/2018/01/gary-k-wolfe-reviews-the-overneath-by-peter-s-beagle/. In addition to these, we talked about the early manuscript version of this novel which was released at least a couple times in special editions with commentary from the author as “The Last Unicorn The Lost Version” or “The Last Unicorn The Lost Journey“.

Lastly, both Ryan and Kaelin mentioned being fans of the bumbling wizard character in the book. Ryan compared him to the likable and often perplexed superhero protagonist of the 1980’s science fiction comedy/drama series “The Greatest American Hero.” Watch the opening of that show to get a quick sense of how the two would compare:

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

Advertisements

PODCAST:

S4E9P – Preview Episode (The Last Unicorn)

SUBJECT MATTER:

“The Last Unicorn (1968)” by Peter S. Beagle (book)

“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. So she ventured out from the safety of the enchanted forest on a quest for others of her kind. Joined along the way by the bumbling magician Schmendrick and the indomitable Molly Grue, the unicorn learns all about the joys and sorrows of life and love before meeting her destiny in the castle of a despondent monarch—and confronting the creature that would drive her kind to extinction… (from Amazon.com)

*** * ***

“The Last Unicorn (1982)” by Arthur Rankin Jr. and Jules Bass (Mia Farrow) (animated film)

“A brave unicorn and a magician fight an evil king who is obsessed with attempting to capture the world’s unicorns.” (from Amazon.com)

 

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

PODCAST:

S4E8M – Screamers (movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we dissect this Peter Weller enticing Canadian-American production of a Philip K. Dick short story with a screenplay that originated from the writer of the first “Alien” movie. I am rejoined by former co-host Richard Mehl a/k/a Rick for another dueling duo of discussion as we fight our way through the miasma of psychological distrust, shock, action/adventure, and science fiction horror.

Ryan enjoyed the film, but expressed that some of the changes made lost the claustrophobic feel that heightened the suspense of uncertainty and distrust which were at the hallmark-heart of what he enjoyed about the short story. Rick liked the visual clarity the film brought to the narrative, but was more engaged with how much of the underlying elements were used elsewhere across the filmic landscape.

While Rick and Ryan were both impressed with the level of special effects employed during film, Rick felt that some of this effort was unnecessary or wasted. That said, nobody questioned the high-quality contribution made by the unflappable Peter Weller (Rick even deigned to delight us with a brief impression!). 

So, suit up for this shorter NDIOS journey and don’t forget your evil-robot-warding-tab while you join us on this mid 90’s exploration of robotic evolution and mind game trickery! 

-Ryan

 

WRITTEN MOVIE REVIEWS:

“Screamers (1995)” by Christian Duguay (Peter Weller) (movie)

Ryan: 3 Stars “…This lesser known b-movie effort falls just short of cult status tracking decently with its fun PKD source material, but there are enough choice bits for science fiction fans to enjoy…

Rick: 3 Stars “…a top Canadian production and not really a b-movie, but, yeah, it had some memorable moments in it and I think they really capitalized on some of the imagery from the story ‘Second Variety’…

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

Not mentioned during the episode, the website www.philipkdickfans.com has an article pulling together information about the originating short story (Second Variety) as well as quotes from the author himself concerning the story and his feelings about the original script written by Dan O’Bannon (who also wrote the script for the movie “Alien“). You can read this short article here: http://www.philipkdickfans.com/mirror/websites/pkdweb/short_stories/Second%20Variety.htm. Within this web article is a quote from PKD: “My grand theme — who is human and who only appears (masquerading) as human? — emerges most fully.” The author talks about the difficulties of exploring this theme and how he kept coming back to it. This quote is from the original magazine publication of the short story (Space Science Fiction, May 1953) and is also quoted in the appendix notes of one of the anthologies which this story appears (“Second Variety – Collected Stories Volume 2″).

There are a couple blog posts on SFF Audio by Jesse Willis concerning PKD’s work and the copyright status of some of his stories that mentions the two stories talked about in our book review episode (“Second Variety” and “Jon’s World”). These posts include scanned images purporting to be copyright renewal forms of PKD works. Check these out here: https://www.sffaudio.com/commentary-philip-k-dicks-public-domain-short-stories-novelettes-and-novellas/ and also https://www.sffaudio.com/philip-k-dick-copyright-renewal-and-registration-scans/.

Ryan mentioned a few podcasts that talked about this movie and even discussed its similarity to the 1990’s cult classic Kevin Bacon film “Tremors.” One such show is Venganza Media‘s “Now Playing Podcast” and that episode can be heard here: http://nowplayingpodcast.com/episode.htm?id=675. It’s sister show “Books & Nachos” covered the written work here: http://www.booksandnachos.com/episode.htm?id=48. Check them out, too!

A few other articles either mentioned on the show or worth reading that are about this topic are as follows: “Screamers Is the Most Underrated Philip K. Dick Adaptation Ever” by Cheryl Eddy for iO9; “From The Vault: Screamers (1995)” by Simon Fitzjohn for Movie Ramblings; and “Peter Weller on feminism, sequels, and more” by Will Harris for AV Film.

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

PODCAST:

S4E8B – Second Variety (short story)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein the podcast returns to its origins and delves into another existential robot mystery by the great questioner of reality: Philip K.  Dick. I am joined by former co-host Richard Mehl a/k/a Rick, and we make for a tight duo this go round as we grapple with one of the author’s lesser known short stories. 

Ryan found this early cold war era tale a fun read. He agreed with other reviewers who have indicated that it is demonstrative of themes which PKD would spend greater amounts of his time on and become more well known for during the later years of his career. It was a great window into that perspective of the author’s developing voice. Rick felt more blase about the whole affair having a “it’s just typical Dick” take on things. He was rather jaded wading through the morose morass this author tends to weave with his characters and the stuff that confounds them. 

Rick didn’t get a chance to read our bonus story (Jon’s World), but we did briefly discuss the plot of that tale and its relationship to our subject matter as it was set in the same universe.

Since we were discussing two shorter works this episode we were able to sort of go through each one blow by blow. It was a zoomed-in look worthy of all the curvy plot twists and spin outs which the author wrote into each of the narratives. Hope you enjoy our story breakdowns and revisiting of PKD, about whom there always seems to be something new to discover and consider.

-Ryan

 

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

“Second Variety (1953)” by Philip K. Dick (short story) + Bonus: “Jon’s World (1954)” by Philip K. Dick (short story) 

Ryan: 3 1/2 Stars “…a post-apocalyptic cold war style tale early in this author’s career that contains entertaining edges and hints, emblematic of future efforts in plot ideation and explorations into uncertainties for which this author is known…

Rick: 2 Stars “…a paranoid experience in the final war between the United States and Russia where humanity lies on the brink and is about to pretty much extinct themselves with their own technology…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

During the episode we mentioned that the two short stories discussed were published in a science fiction magazine (Space Science Fiction, May 1953) and science fiction anthology (Time to Come, 1954). You can read more basic information about these publications by clicking their cover art (right and left images) or visiting the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (a community cataloging website): http://www.isfdb.org.

The other podcast referenced during our episode which reviewed the bonus story (Jon’s World) is called  “American Writers (One Hundred Pages at a Time)” and their episode on that topic can be listened to here: https://hundredpages.podbean.com/?s=jon%27s+world or https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/american-writers-one-hundred-pages-at-a-time/id1207607233?mt=2&i=1000393771283. This story does not seem to be widely reviewed so it’s worth a listen if you want to know more about it.

If you want to read another review of our subject story (Second Variety) then check out this article by T.S. Miller concerning a different PKD anthology (The Adjustment Team: The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Volume 2) which was written for science fiction magazine “Strange Horizons” and published on October 03, 2011: http://strangehorizons.com/non-fiction/reviews/the-adjustment-team-the-collected-stories-of-philip-k-dick-volume-2/.

The story “Second Variety” discussed on this episode can be read and listened to for FREE at these websites:

 

Philip K. Dick eventually moved away from short stories to focus more on novels, in part because of his frustrations with editors changing the stories without permission. One such occurrence, mentioned on the show, involved  a work titled “The King of the Elves,” which has been in film development off and on throughout the years: https://disney.fandom.com/wiki/King_of_the_Elves.

Lastly, the biography of Philip K. Dick that Ryan cited on the episode and which he has used in various other episodes where we covered works by this author is by Lawrence Sutin and called: “Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick.” This work can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Invasions-Life-Philip-Dick/dp/0786716231.

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

PODCAST:

S4E8P – Preview Episode (Screamers)

SUBJECT MATTER:

“Second Variety (1953)” by Philip K. Dick (short story)

“In the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war between the United Nations and the Soviet Union, sophisticated robots nicknamed “claws” are created to destroy what remains of human life. Left to their own devices, however, the claws develop robots of their own. II-V, the second variety, remains unknown to the few humans left on Earth. Or does it? (from Goodreads.com)

“Jon’s World (1954)” by Philip K. Dick (short story) ++ bonus story++

“An expedition back in time shall get hold of the papers written by Schonerman for his artificial brains that were responsible for the success of the Claws described in Second Variety, but this time to the betterment of civilization. (from ISFDB.com)

*** * ***

“Screamers (1995)” by Christian Duguay (Peter Weller) (movie)

“A rebel commander (Peter Weller, Robocop, 1987) must protect his outpost from the programmed weapons that are mutating into killers of all human life.” (from Amazon.com)

 

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

PODCAST:

S4E7M – Metropolis (silent film)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we go off the rails and head straight for the weeds. This proves to the longest episode yet for No Deodorant In Outer Space. I am joined once again by former co-host and original founding member of NDIOS, James Rauch a/k/a Beam, as well as a new guest, amateur historian and genre fan, Richard Bacon. We discuss one of science fiction’s earliest depictions on the screen while enjoying libations and sitting around a crackling bonfire near a soybean field. 

For the most part, Beam did not think this movie was fun to watch as it wasn’t a talkie. That said, he did find that the film made him think about the world he’s living in, and how it compared with the world in which the film was created. In that sense, Beam felt the film was artistically successful.  Ryan found the movie just short of perfection, and was profoundly impressed with the attention to detail that the director brought to life. Ryan and Beam disagreed with the amount of melodrama depicted during the course of the film. Rich explained that reading the book added a lot to the viewing experience, and he expressed that silent films are their own medium which should be considered on its own merits as a separate film category. Rich also felt the imagery he watched would stay with him for a long time despite any shortcomings in the content.

A lot of history was discussed during our recording. This film was created after World War I during the lead up to World Word II, so there was a lot to think about there. The director made a lasting impact in the film industry worth noting, and the film itself had a life of its own due to a somewhat recent found footage discovery and restoration process. We got into all this and more during our critique which lasted well into the night. We also got into the beer. 

Things got pretty interesting, a little repetitive, slightly weird, somber serious, and perhaps even silly by the end. All told, however, this rather long episode was a fairly thorough review worthy of the film’s epic and ambitious aspirations. Please enjoy our drunken babbling! We (probably) did!

-Ryan

 

WRITTEN MOVIE REVIEWS:

“Metropolis (1927)” by Fritz Lang (Alfred Abel) (silent film)

Ryan: 4 1/2 Stars “…A bombastic production complemented by subtle silent performances made with painstaking and innovative attention to detail, that come together in a glorious twentieth century fable which changed film forever…

Beam: 3 Stars “…“Well, I guess if you like movies where there is no talking…I mean if you went back in time like a hundred years and tried to film something and create some sort of artistic imagery, you imagine the complicated nature of that–this movie, it was transcendent in that regard…

Rich: 5 Stars “…A visual masterpiece. It is a scifi classic, and it is something that everyone should see certainly select portions of, if not the whole thing…

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

Rotwang admiring his mechanical hand while Maria the Robot looks on.

During our discussion we talked about the fascinating restoration of the film. A documentary on this process called “Voyage to Metropolis” directed by Artem Demenok can be found as a playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLioOe7PCjX1Tze5-sj31_7e0mXei1oY8O. The official Kino Lorber website has more on the production, resurrection, and restoration of this amazing work: https://www.kinolorber.com/sites/metropolis/restoration.html#rest.

American filmmaker, William Friedkin, interviewed Fritz Lang back in 1974. During this interview Lang recounted his infamous tale of fleeing Germany after being asked by the Nazi’s to make films for them. That interview, which was mentioned on the show can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or0j1mY_rug&feature=youtu.be. Fritz Lang was a larger than life personality and was notorious in Hollywood for being difficult. A video from Renegade Cut recounts “The Eight Most Insane Direction Decisions by Fritz Lang,” which is found here: https://youtu.be/4m0e4f7W7cE.

Rich compared this silent film story telling as being akin to traditional Japanese Kabuki Theater. It’s interesting to note that this form of dramatic story telling gained popularity in the Yoshiwara, a red-light district of what would later become Tokyo. Both the author and director utilized this place name for a night club in Metropolis. This is a web article on the Yoshiwara connection with Metropolis: https://documents.uow.edu.au/~morgan/metrov1.htm. Also, here is an an UNESCO article on Kabuki Theater which contains audio and video components demonstrating the art and providing a brief explanation: https://documents.uow.edu.au/~morgan/metrov1.htm.

The influence of Metropolis is still evident today. Rich mentioned that the gloved mechanical hand of Rotwang in the film influenced the use of the glove by the title character in Stanley Kubrick‘s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Shmoop’s did an article relating to this: https://www.shmoop.com/dr-strangelove/mechanical-arm-symbol.html. The metal act Sepultura named their thirteenth studio album from a quote in Metropolis: “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart.” The pop singer Madonna‘s hit song “Express Yourself” was influenced by the movie and also included a direct quote at the end of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsVcUzP_O_8. Lastly, the famous rock band Queen designed their music video for the song “Radio Gaga” mimicking and utilizing actual elements from the movie version of Metropolis. Check it out:

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.

PODCAST:

S4E7B – Metropolis (book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we dissect the hybrid tie-in book “Metropolis,” made in conjunction and simultaneous creation with its filmatic counterpart. This episode was recorded on the edges of agriculture and industry with a warming heart-fire of human ingenuity crackling in the background for added ambiance. I am joined by former co-host and original founding member of NDIOS, James Rauch a/k/a Beam, as well as a new guest, amateur historian and genre fan, Richard Bacon.   

All three of us generally found this book to be a laborious read. Our discussion focused heavily on the plethora of different story themes the author crammed into this relatively short work. Both Rich and Beam cited the historical context in which the work was created, however the class struggles inherent in the book that might have been exemplary of the author’s contemporary time seemed to be too buried to provide much insight. Rich ultimately felt that a revenge plot ran strongest through the book, which was the only thing he could grab onto solidly. Ryan saw familial relationships and conflicts put up against the artifice of machine as the central conflict. Beam struggled to finish the book and just didn’t like it, but thought it had cultural importance and influence. 

The episode runs longer than usual, but this otherwise difficult book provided great fodder for debate and discussion. Enjoy the ambiance of the bonfire and grumblings of civilization purring in the distance as my comrades and I imbibe spirits and pontificate on the ambitious meanderings of this lesser known twin origin piece for one of science fiction’s earliest efforts on the screen.

-Ryan

 

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

“Metropolis (1925)” by Thea von Harbou (book)

Ryan: 3 Stars “…A romanticized class struggle colored by religious and occult mythology with implacable villains full of old world venom and heroes in glorious melodrama – all set in the vast mechanized metropolis, a city dug as deep in the ground as it towers in the skies…

Beam: 2 Stars “…Melodrama…it was a very over dramatic almost theatrical book in a lot of ways…the style of the writing, the verbosity of it was almost intimidating to me…I didn’t really enjoy reading it…

Rich: 1 1/2 Stars “…Rotwang wants vengeance on the two men who stole the love of his life. One stole her heart. The other stole her life…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

Rich felt that one of the author’s strengths was her ability to invoke images in the mind with her writing. Strangely enough this reminded him of well known comic writer, Mike Mignola, who’s eponymous character, Hellboy, is also set in a similar era as this work. Rich vehemently recommended that any and all check out this comic author’s work.

Though not acknowledged during the recording, Rich also managed to slip various references from the Simpsons into the episode. Here is Homer’s Simpson’s famous Bee Monologue from Season 6, Episode 2 “Lisa’s Rival, ” part of which got snuck in at some point: https://youtu.be/97M1X13XvOk.

During the episode we mentioned that the marriage of Thea von Harbou began and ended with affairs. Unfortunately, the director’s first wife caught the author and him in the act and took her own life as a result.–or did she? A website exploring “The Mysterious Death of Lisa Rosenthal,” which Ryan mentioned during the podcast can be found here: http://www.williamahearn.com/lisa.html. This same website contains the reference Ryan also mentioned about Thea having confusing decorating tastes hanging on her wall at home at the time of her death with alleged depictions of both Ganhdi and Hitler: http://www.williamahearn.com/thea.html.

One of the various myth/occult references the author used in this narrative, the Seal of Solomon,  or the Star of David, or the Pentagram was brought up in our previous podcast reviews of the cult-based works: “The Devil Rides Out (Black Magic #1) (1934)” by Dennis Wheatley (book) and “The Devil Rides Out (1968)” by Terence Fisher (Christopher Lee) (film).

Lastly, Ryan also cited a eview of this work from a Marxist perspective. That video “Metropolis – Marxist Theory”  by Renegade Cut can be found here: https://youtu.be/DJjbfaEtPN0.

 

 

* DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that the views and opinions of the hosts and guests of NDIOS are completely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views and beliefs of the other hosts and guests or that of NDIOS.