This week Novel Ideas discusses Hyperion by Dan Simmons, a far future version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This is probably the most “pure” science fiction we’ve read so far, with various story elements not only taking place in a science fiction setting, but requiring a science fiction setting to exist at all. In this episode we’ll discuss imperialism, mystery, pain, and feminism (of course.) We’ll also discuss whether this book has a protagonist (probably not), violence induced boners, surprisingly accurate visions of the internet, and ridiculous applications of Godwin’s Law. This episode also features our less than soundproof studio and the various comings and goings of roommates, angry post-surgical cats, and Ben’s extremely creaky chair that he can’t sit still in. We hope you enjoy!
The music bump is “Mysteries and Mayhem” by Kansas because those are both common subjects in this book, plus I couldn’t quite bring myself to use “We’re Off To See the Wizard,” but Kansas feels like it’s at least close. Should I even try to justify these decisions? It comes off as feeble even to me…
Welcome back, old sport. It’s so good to see you yet again at one of our extravagant parties, old sport. This week’s discussion topic is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Old sport.) Listen as we analyze racism, how to identify a protagonist, hypocrisy, and the danger of being tied to your past. We also look at verbal tics, what is actually the “midwest,” and the various ways in which Tom is a dick. Though it’s short, this book is a pretty rich source of material. You can read it in less time than it takes to go see the movie, so consider doing that before you join us.
The music bump is “Beale Street Blues,” a popular piece of music from around the time the book was written, and furthermore, a piece of music that gets specifically mentioned in the text. This particular recording was made a few years later, sung by the still amazing Ella Fitzgerald. No relation to the author, but I hope I didn’t need to tell you that.
This week on Novel Ideas, discuss Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a psychological/mystery/thriller about two of the most thoroughly unlikeable people you’ll ever read about. This is a recent one, so if you don’t want the twists and turns spoiled, go read it before you listen! In this episode we talk about the ethics of cheating, manipulative people, and close sibling relationships. We also cover cat phrases, extreme relationship behavior, and timely references.
The music bump is “Bullhead City” by Umphries McGee, mostly because of something Ben said during the episode about losing a fortune twice. Total stream of consciousness on this one.
Novel Ideas caps off LGBT Month with a book that is actually about a gay relationship, Maurice by E.M. Forster. This very interesting book was written in 1913, but not published until 1971. Forster was unable to find a publisher during his lifetime because the subject matter, a love story between men with (gasp!) a happy ending was considered too risky by most publishers. It definitely reads as something ahead of its time, as many of the attitudes and opinions are right in line with those of 2013. We discuss that, as well as the importance of love, the unimportance of orthodoxy, and what “natural” really means. We also examine excellent turns of phrase, behaviors that strike us as very gay, and the adorable future of Maurice and his lover.
The music bump is from the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, commonly referred to as the “Pathetique” symphony. Light research reveals that this is translated from a Russian word for passion, rather than something deserving pity.
Welcome back to Novel Ideas for this week’s second episode. Monday’s post was intended for last week, but we weren’t quite able to get it finished up in time. This one gets us caught up for the two weeks. What is this one? It is Every Day by David Levithan, a book about a teenager who wakes up in a new body every morning. There is a lot to discuss in this one, as David Levithan does his best to hit every item on the controversial YA checklist. So tune in to hear us talk about teenage romance, suicide, alcohol use, and love. Especially love. Lots of love in this episode. Does love conquer all? Can you love somebody for who they are rather than what they are? What are the practical issues surrounding love? When does love cross the line into being a creepy stalker? We probably don’t answer any of these questions, but we do talk about them. A whole bunch.
The music bump is “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac, chosen both for sharing a name with the love interest in this book and for being specifically referenced in the text.
This week’s episode is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin, a novel about a genderless society on a harsh, winter planet. Join us as we discuss the effects of a sexless society, the lack of warfare, and repression, both sexual and governmental. We also talk about ridiculous sci-fi names, gender bending, and pronoun problems.
The music bump is “Journey Home” by Maria Schneider, partly because of the hundred page journey home across the glaciers of Gethen, but mostly because I like it.
For those of you who have read the book already, here’s something interesting that I found:
Our apologies for being late this week, but Gabs has been mobilizing for WAR. Well, basically. Anyhoo, here is this week’s episode, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a short story about medical ignorance, madness, and in a move that is completely out of character for us, feminism. If you want to read it before you listen, you can read it for free here. In our discussion we touch on the historical view of mental illness, gothic literature, and interpretations of the story based on gender lines. We also cover Hollywood, insane LGBT tie-ins, John’s a Dick Theory (just barely missed being the title of this episode), and vibrator play. Oops, I mean “Vibrator Play.” One has to be careful where one leaves their capital letters.
If we post only one day late because we were a week late with the previous episode, is that a Catch-22? I think it is if you only try to download episodes when they aren’t here. And you don’t read our posts unless they aren’t posted. I’m not sure because I’m not very good at Catch-22 logic. At any rate, this week we discuss Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, the classic satirical war novel. In this episode we discuss characterization, plot, and how to make a movie out of this book. Is that discussion a Catch-22? It might be, because those are three things that are not very likely to be connected to this book. We also talk about war, war stories, and whether or not war is bad (hint: yes). We very carefully do not discuss how this episode title could be applied to our podcast at large. We hope you enjoy this episode, but if you don’t, maybe it can at least extend your lifespan.
The music bump is “Keasbey Nights” by a band called, appropriately, Catch-22.
It’s time for our first year(ish) anniversary episode. We apologize for being a week late, but our recording from last week was corrupted somehow and we had to meet again and record the whole thing a second time. In this week’s episode, we cover our top and bottom five from the previous year, recount several old jokes, and even manage to make a couple of new ones. We plug a few of our favorite episodes and books, revisit old hatred, and are generally the same vainglorious, self-indulgent goofballs that by now you expect us to be.
The music bump is “It Was A Very Good Year” as arranged by Gordon Goodwin and performed by Take Six and Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band.
This week on Novel Ideas is Holes by Louis Sachar, an award winning YA novel that has become a modern classic. Many of you read it and loved it as children, plus there is a movie that we’re doing a bad job of pretending does not exist. In this episode we talk about the surreal atmosphere of the story, race issues, the justice system, and whether the plot is powered by fate or coincidence. We also touch on the possibility of Newberry Death Month, whether a rooster is just a rooster, and the various little known powers of onions.
The music bump this week is Fiction Plane’s setting of Louis Sachar’s lullaby from the book, though in a form that is not notably lullaby-ish. Also, this setting would probably play over the end credits of the movie version of Holes, if such a movie existed.