Forum Posts

Daniel Falch
Oct 13, 2021
In Gene Wolfe
Your comparison about Professor Peacock and his being a suitor in the fairy tale was really interesting. I think that the phrase “His kisses tasted like earth” is alluding to something else about where Peacock’s money comes from. I think his family’s money is from growing tobacco, which would taint him by association with the vice of smoking.
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Daniel Falch
Jul 16, 2021
In Star Trek
I didn't find much to like in the Picard show. Is Picard the hero of the show or was Soji (sp?)? For me it's that there is a hero is what was lost from earlier Trek shows. I didn't know it was planned as a 10 episode season, they didn't have enough story to fill ten episodes. The most nostalgic episode, number 7, was basically added in as filler, from an article I read. The plot was basically the same as the Mass Effect video game. I would have much preferred Picard meeting and overcoming the threat at the site the Romulans encountered it. I found the scenes at the very end to completely be devoid of stakes since it was obvious what was going to happen. I'm glad that you found things to enjoy.
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Daniel Falch
May 28, 2021
In Gene Wolfe
I have never read this book or even heard of it until the start of this series. My knowledge of Gene Wolfe’s works is very small unfortunately. That said, when I start a book I don’t immediately go into a close read of the text. So reading chapter 1 I’m left with questions. What’s the plot of this? Right now the answer is no, this isn’t a plot story it’s a character story. Does this old man have Alzheimer’s? Is this a first person account of experiences living with dementia? Right that’s what it seems like. If you handed me chapter 1 to read and asked me what classification is this story I would say it’s Literature not a speculative fiction story. I would expect the author to be one of those names that people claim to love and have read but haven’t read any of, they just want to sound smart. Like all of the 19th century Russian authors. ‘’I’m reading this on Kindle and I wonder if the cover of the print edition gives a better clue what to expect from this story or that a close read is beneficial. Would I have read this when I was twenty? I’m thinking the lack of an immediate plot would have been turn off, I was more interested in action. I have enjoyed the close coverage you have given this story so far. I am also hopeful a plot arrives by the end of chapter 2.
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Daniel Falch
Dec 17, 2020
In Elder Sign
More in the interest of a discussion than a disagreement. In this discussion of the story the action is labeled as murder porn. It doesn’t get to the level of murder porn like the movie Rambo from 2008 is murder porn. It’s an action adventure tale which is a whole genre. The villainy is discovered and the people in the group are all judged simultaneously for it. The hero stops the villainy and any of the villains he kills along the way earned their fate without individual judgment of their personal responsibility. This ability to have action without consequences is the whole point of the story. We the reader can’t do these things so this is an escape where we can experience the danger without being in danger. It’s not a weird fiction story but it’s not terrible for what it is. The adventure genre usually doesn’t get a lot of high end prose or concepts because of the supposed intelligence of the type of reader it attracks.
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Daniel Falch
May 21, 2020
In Elder Sign
I’m going to disagree with your assertion that mentioning another story in the same genre is always a bad idea. In most cases you are correct but when a genre of story is really popular it becomes increasingly difficult to pretend that nobody in your world has heard of the phenomenon your story is dealing with. I am thinking of the current zombie craze that is finally dying out. All of these shows and movies pretend that no one has heard of zombies before, to the point it becomes a constant criticism of the show/film. A character asking another how they ended up in Night of the Living Dead would have been refreshing change in the zombie genre. In the current story it seems poorly done, which makes it into a sad me too kind of reference. If handled well it could really connect the story to the larger genre. I wonder how many of these haunted house stories were being published at the time? It seems like quite a few, unless Elder Sign by some fluke has covered them all already. Enjoyed the podcast and the analysis of how the story was constructed.
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Daniel Falch
Apr 22, 2020
In Elder Sign
Great discussion as always. I really enjoyed this story and i didn’t know I needed occult Sherlock Holmes! The other stories in this series feature the Watson type assistant much more Prominently, so I agree that a mention was shoehorned into the first story to give it all a connection. Do you think that the able assistant who functions as the audience is required for an iconic protagonists story to work? Or is it the influence of the Holmes stories? I was trying to think of an iconic hero who doesn’t have an assistant and the only one that I thought of was Robert Howard’s Solomon Kane. I was not surprised by the appearance of the cat and dog in this story at all. In a modern tale you wouldn’t be surprised if a character pulls out a cellphone or credit card that hasn’t been introduced before, I don’t see how the cat and dog function any differently here. I actually really like the idea that this whole thing is part of nature that some creatures of nature can detect with the senses they have. I am looking forward to more Blackwood stories, this series needed more than the few he published about Dr. Silence.
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Daniel Falch
Mar 24, 2020
In Star Trek
https://www.cinemablend.com/television/2493047/star-trek-discovery-season-3-is-also-facing-delays-but-its-not-all-bad?pv=related_list
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Daniel Falch
Mar 20, 2020
In Star Trek
Spoilers, Mostly not but just to be safe: . . . . .. . . ‘This is a series that has far exceeded what I thought it would be. In its opening episodes I thought it was over interested in a pure nostalgic story about Picard and what he lost with Data. I thought they had skipped over the artificial life story to show us a darker galaxy where the light of the Federation was dimming. The last few episodes they came back to the story and deftly setup the conflict. All of the acting, production have been the best Trek ever done. The story is tight, with almost no mistakes. The finale is setup to be very exciting. This is what a Trek movie should be. The interlude of episode 7 is one of the best Trek episodes ever made, what a way to bring the story to the level of the lives of characters we love. For me the only missteps have been the terrible disguises and Picard‘s absurd persona in episode 5 (I think). The back story of the ship captain neatly tying into the story was also a bit much. Every character so far has commented on how arrogant Picard is, to his face even. It’s not arrogance if you can back it up with results and Picard can. Please share your thoughts on this show.
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Daniel Falch
Mar 19, 2020
In Gene Wolfe
Wow there are so many great discussion points that you brought up in the podcast. I’m going to have to listen to the discussion sections again to wrap my brain around them. My reading of this story is that it is about the purgatory of modern corporate culture and its effects on people. When Forlesen asks what they do here all he gets is jargon. In his one day of lifetime he encountered one room where physical work was being done. There were 30 machines but only 2 were in use, one by an old person doing work carefully and a young person, going fast, distracting himself and even injuring himself while doing his work. The youth is praised for his effort while all of the machines sit idle, producing nothing. He goes to work and by lunch he doesn’t recognize his wife and she doesn’t recognize him. When he finally gets to go home he sees the next generation where both people in the marriage are going to work, but won’t see each other either. He gets home and his wife is dead and a child he doesn’t know is only interested in putting him in a box, which is a metaphor for a nursing home in my opinion. Then a meaning is put on your life once it is over. In your discussion you refer to the National Hero narrative in terms of military or physical bravery terms. This is way that narrative is usually used but I think Wolfe meant it in a “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda sense. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the lines “I thought it would be better to give you time to set your hook and get your jib in.“
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Daniel Falch
Mar 15, 2020
In Star Trek
I have been binge watching from last 6 episodes of season 3 and into season 4, this episode is really a standout. The A plot with Archer dealing with some of things he’s done and being questioned about choices he’s made could have easily filled the entire episode. I thought it was fantastic. I really appreciate his interactions with the Captain of the Columbia, who represents where he was at the beginning of the series highlighting how much he’s changed. The actors had great chemistry which made his angry rants into something that was therapeutic and actually helping him. The B plot with Trip and Tpol was also pretty good but I think is was under used when they had C plot scene showing the crew experiences. It was all to much for one episode.
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Daniel Falch
Mar 11, 2020
In Elder Sign
My main question is who dug the passage beneath the statue? This was a great podcast as usual. I think your various theories are present in a subliminal way, I don’t think the author was thinking of all of the class issues, just writing an adventure in a way that he is familiar with. I want to read this story at some point if I can wade through descriptions of his collected stories to find a book it is located in. Hodgsons bibliograpby on Wikipedia lists this story as his first published work in Royal Magazine in 1904. He most definitely had a word count and his newness is most likely the reason for the not great structure.
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Daniel Falch
Feb 29, 2020
In Agnus
I have really enjoyed the Angus podcasts you have put out so far and am looking forward to the next season. It may be outside of interests for this podcast but Jesuit missionary’s bringing Christian religion to Japan in the 1500‘s and the religions suppression by Japanese government has been a topic that I have found very interesting of late. I am reading a fiction book about this called Silence by Shusaku Endō and it is fascinating. If you have an opportunity to interview someone working in this area I think would be a great topic for your podcast. Keep up the great work.
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Daniel Falch
Feb 26, 2020
In Elder Sign
I have never read this collection of stories and am interested in getting a copy. On Amazon there seem to be multiple versions for different prices a confusing array of poor reviews for the formatting of some of them. Could someone suggest which publisher or page count I should look for to get a complete one, I would appreciate it.
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Daniel Falch
Jan 10, 2020
In Gene Wolfe
I loved this story. The craftsmanship on display in introducing a third story type and having them all mesh is just wonderful. It really highlights what a next level master Gene Wolfe was and makes me incredulous that he isn’t more widely known. I think that is mostly due to his fiction being too complex to be adapted into film and tv which Would have increased his audience. Your long discussion about St. Croix government in the second sections recap and discussion was great. You talked a lot about Vichy France but there are many other examples of this kind of government. From Sulla’s proscribed lists in Rome, the second triumvirate, the England of Shakespeare and Marlowe and East Germany in the time this story was written. The combination of a minority, for political religious or other reasons, government that is distrustful of its population and a perceived weakness in foreign affairs is a combo that leads to this. There is no evidence that the government of St. Anne is also a military junta or threatening St. Croix in anyway. The statements about St. Anne are all made by government officials of St. Croix and are unreliable. They need St. Anne to be an enemy to justify their actions. All we see of St. Anne is the edge of a colony towns, never the main city. The fact that the military is also the customs authority is common in many countries here on Earth. I appreciated that the ballistic table in the back of the field guide was the main excuse used to detain the prisoner. The fact that it was old doesn’t matter. It also is set for a different planet, a particular weapon with a specific loading and is therefore useless for what Constant claims the prisoner was going to use it for also doesn’t matter. Why V.R.T. brought the field guide with him is kind of odd though, given the weight penalty for space travel. That Wolfe adds these types of details and uses them correctly is one of the things that makes reading his stories so enjoyable. Is there a race of shape shifting pastoral beings living a natural existence on an alien planet? Your discussion convinced me no, but I want it to be true. I can’t remember on which podcast that you mentioned wanting a happier ending. It seems to me that the 70’s science fiction market didn’t want a happy ending. Most every sci fi movie between 2001 A Space OdySpey and Star Wars are pretty bleak. Dystopian worlds with environmental disasters and tyranny in government was the order of the day.
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Daniel Falch
Jan 08, 2020
In Gene Wolfe
Great discussion as always. In the discussion of which character could be Jesus it seems to me Diane is the only one who fits the bill. She sacrificed herself so that others could be saved. I actually don’t think any of the characters fit but it’s an interesting question. IQ was often made a big deal of in the 70s and 80s. I don’t think it’s being used correctly by most people and I’m glad it’s out of favor as a measuring standard. I am always interested in fiction that have serious questions about how culture should work. In this story Wolfe created a world that valued IQ and asks at what point does that measurement no longer matter? This last year I saw a great movie called Ad Astra that asked the same kind of questions about the engineering culture of NASA and how that would translate into human migration into space. It is a fascinating movie with a lot of sutb points, like a Wolfe story needs to be seen multiple times to be appreciated.
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Daniel Falch
Jan 04, 2020
In Gene Wolfe
What a fantastic piece of writing. I could read a whole series of novels about Sandwalker of the hill people. The many questions that you both brought up really added a lot to think about in this story. In my opinion all of the abos didn’t mimic humans. The oasis tree was still an abo and that is why Sandwalker‘s greeting was responded to by the tree. I also think that the abo’s in various forms can mate with each other. I believe the tree was the father of Seven Girls Waiting’s baby. The line about Sandwalker’s tree growing wasn’t the author just being cute with the euphemisms. The line about the humans removing themselves so the abo’s could take them is the humans removing their spacesuits and losing access to their technology. I am still puzzled on how John V Marsch is connected to this story other than his name in the title and his green eyes. Also when did this story occur in relation to The Fifth Head of Cerberus. The extremely different types of stories that are supposed to be connected and don’t seem to be would be very difficult for any other author to pull off. In most cases I would stop reading at this point because I would be thinking that the author is just trying to show how clever they are. Wolfe has done such a masterful job I think it will all connect in the third story and am interested in finding out how he does it.
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Daniel Falch
Dec 28, 2019
In Gene Wolfe
I just finished reading this along with your podcasts. Excellent job again. I haven't read ahead, I am reading this for the first time. A few thoughts. The repeated experiments on each generation of clone isn't a abuse cycle like people in our world experience. It is beyond that and into the realm of torture as expermentation so the fathers explanation doesn't make sense unless they are trying to unlock genetic memories. The nature/nurture left me with questions. It discounts the brother David as an influence unless all other previous clones also had a brother? Why would each clone come to the same conclusions as the previous ones? This would seem to preclude the idea of original thoughts or that our ability to chose is always predetermined by our genetics and formative years. Mr. Millions is the true villain of this story. None of this clone business would work out without him guiding each generation. There would be no ability to have a clone be raised the same without his guidance. The original human who uploaded himself into Mr. Millions also created the first clone and was obsessed with retaining his memories for some reason? To cheat death? I enjoyed your references to the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. In the poem the sin caused the ship to be stuck in becalmed zone with no wind. In Fith head the whole planet is becalmed as shown be the ships with 5 or 7 masts. A ship like that on earth would be torn apart by normal winds or storms so they must not exist on St. Croix. On my first reading I thought John V. Marsch was also killed by the narrator but the text doesn't support that. Looking forward to the next novella and your podcast.
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Daniel Falch
Dec 21, 2019
In Atoz
Great podcast about this story. If I have read this it was so long ago I don’t remember any of it. Your points about this books structure and place in Star Trek cannon have really increased my interest in reading this. The post scarcity society that is posited by Star Trek is the most interesting concept of the science fiction universe. I would like more stories about how the Federation and Star Fleet are structured but I don’t agree with how it has been described so far. The idea of a socialist/democratic utopia doesn’t hold up in a post scarcity universe. The ideas of socialism or capitalism don’t work in post scarcity world. All of our current systems of government, religion and family are based on management of scarcity to perpetuate societies and benefit a group with the production of others. In post scarcity what is the motivation for the individual to join Starfleet or any of the science expeditions we have seen in various shows? Why would you bother with a job that by definition will be doing something you don’t agree with no matter how it began? The employment/organization structure goes right out the window if an individual has no compelling reason to endure adversity or the monotony of work with no gain. Thanks for starting this project and I am looking forward to the next story you cover.
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Daniel Falch
Dec 13, 2019
In Gene Wolfe
I just finished reading 'Beautyland' in the Castle of Days collection. I blew me away with its bleak outlook for our human nature. It has the same dark pessimism as 'Paul's Treehouse'. I'm wondering what Wolfe thought about environmental issues as an aspect of his religious beliefs, if he disused the topic anywhere? I mostly just wanted to mention Beautyland which I thought was a masterfully written story.
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Daniel Falch
Dec 05, 2019
In Elder Sign
I'm shocked that Glenn would pass up an enchanting experience with the Necronomicon just because the host has a minor skin blemish. If you don't blithely ignore portents of terror you aren't in a Lovecraft story. Also don't accept any party invitations from Lovecraft. I don't think that the narrator's people are supposed to be what we would consider Native Americans. They are supposed to be a much older group. That's why 3 of them were hung as witches by the Puritans. I thought the winter setting was an interesting start for a weird story and I like the tie in to older Christmas rituals. It was a clunky transition though.
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