PODCAST:

S4E10P – Preview Episode (The Haunting)*

SUBJECT MATTER:

“The Haunting of Hill House (1959)” by Shirley Jackson (book)

“First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” (from Amazon.com)

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“The Haunting (1963)” by Robert Wise (Julie Harris) (movie)

“A group is introduced to the supernatural through a 90-yearold New England haunted house. Be prepared for hair-raising results in this classic horror film!” (from Amazon.com)

 

 

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“The Haunting (1999)” by Jan de Bont (Liam Neeson) (movie)

“In the 1860’s, industrialist Hugh Crain financed the construction of Hill House, a beautiful but forbidding mansion where Crain hoped to house a wife and children. However, Crain died an unexplained death at Hill House, and ever since tales have circulated that the mansion is haunted by evil spirits. 130 years later, Dr. David Marrow (Liam Neeson), long fascinated by the Hill House legend, brings three people there for what he tells them will be a study in sleep disorders.” (from Amazon.com)

 

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“The Haunting of Hill House (2018)” by Mike Flanagan (Kate Siegel) (netflix series) ++bonus follow up++

“Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.” (from Netflix.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.

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PODCAST:

S4E9M – The Last Unicorn (movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wherein we visit and revisit this cult classic animated film directed by an iconic duo of americana animation (cultivated mainly in Japan), featuring a star-studded cast of voice talent, and spots of dated folksy music with vocals by members of the band “America.” Kaelin O’Reilly, a book reviewer (Kaelin Reads YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3r-oumDi_CsMoFH4-vTqSA) joins me again as we cover this important 80’s esque cartoon fairytale, that as of yet, doesn’t have anything to do with the Disney company.

We both enjoyed delving into the history of these directors and recounting their many and varied forays into animation which peppered our respective childhoods. The attention to detail that was paid to creating unique characters impressed us and contributed to making their efforts memorable along with the voice talent which was well cast. 

Neither of us were over the moon about the music and felt that the songs were done well enough to carry the movie, but lacked something that might have launched this film into the big leagues of all time classics (Kaelin, in particular, felt that sometimes these were done off-key). The book was preferred by both, but Kaelin expressed favorite parts in each while Ryan noted that the author, who served as the screenwriter, took out some noted bits of the book that had felt unnecessary without losing anything of the narrative. 

While Kaelin felt the movie was slow at times, overall she enjoyed the nostalgic revisit to this cartoon style. For Ryan this brought him back to the directors’ soulful versions of the Tolkien cannon which was equally nostalgic for him.

Enjoy this sometimes overlooked fantasy fairy tale of old school animation!

-Ryan

 

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

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

Ryan: 3 Stars “…A folksy take on an american fantasy classic, which manages to capture the tone of the original work. Bonus: includes an all-star cast of voice talent who all seem to get it…

Kaelin: 3 1/2 Stars “…Fun and whimsical film that sticks closely to the novel, features many recognizable voices and good humor and adventure. The songs are cheesy and the singers off-key, but the animation is great…

 

FUN FACTOIDS:

During the episode we talked about Rick Goldschmidt who is dedicated to preserving the legacy of Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass. Here is an audio interview with the historian on YouTube: https://youtu.be/PsdwZk2uNRo. He has also established and collaborates on websites that sell collectibles from the beloved films which these two directors made their mark. There is http://miserbros.com/ which is “Home of merchandise related to the Animagic of RANKIN/BASS,” and also http://www.rankinbass.com/ which is “The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass: Preserving the history of Rankin/Bass Productions.”

Ryan also mentioned a video interview of Arthur Rankin, Jr. at the Museum of Television & Radio in 2003 hosted on the Miser Bros Press YouTube Channel which can be see here: 

 

We also briefly talked about the actor and comedian, Brother Theodore, who did the voice of Ruhk (Mommy Fortuna’s assistant and carnival barker) in the movie. Ryan recognized the voice and noted the he also played the infamous character Gollum in Rankin/Bass Productions foray into J.R.R Tolkien‘s world of Middle-earth for both “The Hobbit” and “The Return of the King.

Kaelin mentioned that he was a character in the 1989 comedy horror film “The ‘Burbs” which was directed by previously covered director Joe Dante and starred Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, and Carrie Fisher (among others). Here is an article by M.V. Moorhead for Topless Robot recounting some of Brother Theodore’s more memorable moments with video clips: https://www.toplessrobot.com/2013/10/top_ten_coolest_manifestations_of_brother_theodore.php. Below is the clip from “The ‘Burbs”:

 

* 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:

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.

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)

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“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)

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“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.