Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good Story 061: The Demolished Man

Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun in episode #61! Julie and Scott discuss The Demolished Man (1953) by Alfred Bester.

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  1. If the NSA reads this they will be surprised into thinking deep thoughts.
    They may want to approach with caution! :-D

  2. Okay, that was the greatest end to a podcast episode ever. Perfect.

    Although hard to believe you didn't reference.

    Tenser, said the Tensor.
    Tenser, said the Tensor.
    Tension, apprehension,
    And dissension have begun.

    (Although you worked it nicely into blog titles on the other sites(

    I found that aspect of the novel regarding intentional advertising ear worms rather fun. I recently read this in anticipation of your discussion and surprisingly I don't believe I ever read it before. The imaginative writing style really sets it apart and achieves what it sets out to do.

    I actually do like this one over "The Stars are my Destination". I really preferred it's original title " Tiger! Tiger! " which was much more apt for the type of story it was. Really "The Stars are my Destination" is a great title for a book with a more optimistic plot concerning mankind and space travel. Still " Tiger! Tiger!" is quite enjoyable.

    As for Kim Stanley Robinson, I read Red Mars and while I liked the well-thought out world-building and hard science aspects. I just didn't care for the characters. Which is why I never finished this trilogy even though trilogies are like crack to me. Still I would be very interested in Scott's thoughts on the novel of his he is current reading when he is finished.

    As for After Earth much of the plotting is scientology propaganda and there are many references to scientology including the volcano which is about right off the cover of L. Ron Hubbard's book. Will Smith's wife is a scientologist. Although while this movie has been panned by many, I guess it can't be worse than the movie Battlefield Earth based on Hubbards book starring another scientologist John Travolta. Thankfully Tom Cruise hasn't done any of Hubbard's books, besides those hilarious leaked videos of him teaching scientology.

    1. I'm kicking myself over missing something as obvious as "Tenser..." But I'm glad you liked the ending as much as I did. It made me laugh when I was listening again.

      I never knew Will Smith (or, rather, his wife) was into Scientology. It's kind of funny that the movies seem doomed to dullness. Perhaps because they, unlike the angels, haven't learned that it is through laughter that we rise? (paraphrasing Chesterton, obviously)

  3. I am stunned that I didn't catch that obvious scientology link! I keep forgetting that Will Smith is into that.

    Does scientology teach you to eliminate fear?

    Again, I liked After Earth more than Airbender. A very serious movie, though.

    I understand your view on the characters in Red Mars. It was fascinating, though. I did like it, and I agree with you on the characters. It's probably telling that I did not read Green Mars or Blue Mars... but I never did because of the reviewing and things I was doing at the time. Kim Stanley Robinson's books are rich with ideas, but slow going.

  4. Talking about what you said about Calvin I think that it was said that when he was a child author George MacDonald actually cried when he was told about the Calvinist view of human beings and predestination from his father.

    Reading his material you can certainly see that he didn't believe that at all.

    (Also, I'm going to chime in that the animated series of The Last Airbender was much better than the movie. M. Night cut a lot out of it)

  5. I agree on the animated series. My son used to watch it, and I've seen several episodes. The movie was a missed opportunity. They certainly could have made 4 of them.

    All I can say is that I felt like I was being treated like an idiot when I watched the movie. Terrible, terrible dialogue, I thought.

  6. I agree. I think M Night's dialogue has really taken a hit in his last few movies. He always seems to over-explain things or show things he doesn't need to.

    By the way, have you read Love In The Ruins by Walker Percy, Scott? It's not hard Sci-Fi, but it does involve the creation of a clinical device to measure the depths of the human soul. The book does a very good job at showing how the world would react to something like that if it were ever made. It's also pretty funny.

  7. No, I haven't read that! Putting it on my list - sounds terrific. Thanks!

  8. I would second JD Cowan's recommendation of "Love in the Ruins", plus the full title is awesome "Love in the Ruins: The Adventures of a Bad Catholic at a Time Near the End of the World"

    I've long wanted you and Julie to discuss one of Walker Percy's books. I think Julie was put off by "The Moviegoer", which certainly isn't one of my favorites of his. "Love in the Ruins" is quite funny and does have SF themes and is one of my favorites of his. He was quite astute regarding cultural decline and saw it for what it was. Although his novels are not sock puppetry. His novel "The Thanatos Syndrome" also has SF elements and a look at the budding culture of death at the time.

    I would also recommend "Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book" which is also very funny, but often in a nerve-touching way.

    1. What a good memory! That is exactly the book that everyone was pushing at me and that turned me off. Although, I will also admit that my stubborn streak tends to arise when I am told about great "Catholic" authors. So much better to tell me about a great book, rather than pushing that Catholic aspect. JD's description piqued my interest and when seconded by your endorsement has the overall effect of making me add it to my "to read" list. :-)

  9. Great, thanks Jeff. Moving that right up the list when it arrives. And adding "Lost in the Cosmos".

    The first time I encountered Walker Percy was when I read of his efforts to get "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole published. That book was was quite funny too.