02-15-13 UPDATE:Podcast Update: Time to Read Episode 85: Dave Barry, 'Insane City'
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Here's the eighty-fifth episode of my series of podcasts, which I'm calling Time to Read. Hitting the one-year mark, I'm going to make an effort to stay ahead, so that podcast listeners can get the same sort of "sneak preview" effect that radio listeners get each Friday morning.
02-13-13:Steven Gould Reads from 'Impulse' at SF in SF on January 19, 2013
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"This full-disclosure thing would take some getting used to."
—Steven Gould, 'Impulse'
In theory, the title of this article offers enough information to let a lot of readers know that they want to listen to the podcast. You'd want to know that Gould wrote the acclaimed novel 'Jumper,' that there was one sequel thus far, 'Reflex,' and that 'Impulse' is the third book in the series. That puts it squarely into "must-buy" territory for many, and the podcast scoots up to the top of their queue.
But let's say, you're generally here for the ultra-literary stuff, or the non-fiction. The names and previous novels are ciphers to you. Here's why you want to hear Gould read from his new novel. Let's begin with establishing that it is important to hear an author read his or her own work. In this way, you get a sense of both voices at once, the spoken and the written. It will go a long way towards telling you just how smart and funny this author is.
What you will hear when you listen to this reading is an absolutely classic example of the science fiction thought experiment. In his softly-spoken voice, Gould carefully explores all the nooks and crannies of a particular and fascinating conceptualization of teleportation. It's akin to watching a master craftsman turn chunks of wood into a finely-built piece of furniture, or an explorer make his way through new terrain. What Gould posits may be fantastical, but what follows is utterly, and thrillingly logical.
Science fiction at its best, and this is a fine example, offers readers the thrill of logic, turning deduction and extrapolation into satisfying plot points. In the excerpt he reads here, Gould carefully takes readers through a list of potential actions one might indulge in given his fantastic premise, that is, teleportation. He orchestrates the deductions into a thrilling sequence of stunts, but integrates those dedications and the stunts into his character arc. This reading makes for a perfect example of how science fiction can be used to provide reading pleasure on two levels; adrenaline-fueled excitement and character development.
It's easy to think that readings offer little more than an audio book preview of what's to come, that they are in effect book trailers without the (generally spurious) visual elements. But if you approach them as opportunities to hear an author's voice on two levels — the spoken voice and the written voice, then you can get quite a bit more out of them than you might imagine.
Cory Doctorow gets to KQED pretty much straight off the red-eye; he arrives at 8:20 AM to talk about 'Homeland' and 'Rapture of the Nerds' having had his day start the same time as mine, that is at 3:30 AM. This is my standard insomniac wake-up call, but Cory is ready to talk and bristling with energy. We start early because he's anxious to get to the high school events he has scheduled after our interview.
Creating new readers is something that science fiction does really well. The old joke is, "The Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12," and while there is certainly some truth to that, it's not a bad thing. Doctorow has embraced that and he has a very aggressive and enthusiastic schedule that gets him into as many high schools as possible in front of what I am guessing are very excited audiences.
I've been speaking with Cory for a long time. I have very fond memories of lugging my portable DAT recorder and some very heavy microphone stands and cables into the offices of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco to talk with him about 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.' Of all the times we have spoken, this was the first in the ultra-luxurious studios at KQED, with master engineer Howard Gelman on the board. For me, this was like a coming home party.
'Homeland' is superb sequel, and lots of fun to talk about. Doctorow cover so many interesting issues here, and creates a nicely even-more complicated version of the world we found in 'Little Brother.' He really hit his stride with student debt, in the sort of talk I'd like to hear on say, 60 Minutes. To my mind, it's that level of importance; I pay attention to media coverage of this subject, or I would if there were any.
But Doctorow is a reading enthusiast as well. We talked about the contribution that his work for Boing Boing makes to the science fiction he writes. It actually was the inception point for one of the standout sequences in 'Homeland.' There are a lot of those to pick from.
And yes, because Doctorow mentioned coffee tech so prominently in 'Homeland' we talked about his favorite brewing methods. These may or may not involve the purchase of forbidden technology that has the potential to explode should it be left unattended. Not surprisingly, Doctorow mentioned Intelligentsia, the coffee shop favored by Michael Harvey in Chicago.
Cory Doctorow managed to get his cup of coffee slipped in just before the interview started, though so far as I could tell, he was already ready to discuss his newest ripping yarn. And we did not forget 'Rapture of the Nerds.' I still have my copy of Argosy with an early version of one of the parts of this novel.
05-04-13: Commentary : Reasons Not to Leave the House, Reality Check : The Truth Hurts Edition: 'Down the Up Escalator' by Barbara Garson, 'The Wolf and the Watchman' by Scott C. Johnson,'The Book of Woe' by Gary Greenberg, 'Confessions of a Sociopath' by M. E. Thomas