Novel Ideas returns with a rare venture into the topical, reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, the very hyped “sequel” to To Kill A Mockingbird. In this episode, we discuss why the word “sequel” might by appropriately contained within quotation marks, the murky ethics of this book’s publication, racism, and (of course) feminism. We also talk about whether this story takes place in a closely parallel alternate universe, shoddy research standards, how to get someone’s attention without backhanding them, and Ben’s utter lack of interest in Hank. And for a special bonus, we get at least two good Gabs rampages.
The sound quality is a little odd this week as I tried to use a more sensitive recording set up, but forgot to kill the fan in the background. Our voices are clearly audible, but the background is white noise city. My apologies. -Ben
The music bump this week is “I Wanna Go Back to Dixie” by Tom Lehrer, a satirical take on songs that glorify the south and things commonly associated with the south.
Ben: 5/10. The flaws in the writing and Atticus’s heel turn bother me less than the fact that if TKAM didn’t exist, this book wouldn’t stand up for ten seconds under its own merit.
Gabs: 4/10. Didn’t hate it, but it was too unpolished. Also annoyed that a book dealing with racial issues only had black people in one scene.
For those of you who were expecting Sherlock Holmes… it has mysteriously disappeared. In its place is The Martian by Andy Weir, a hard science fiction account of a lone man surviving on the surface of Mars. We recorded this one with special guest, Adam Milton. In this episode we discuss the resourcefulness of astronauts, the geniuses at NASA, the realities of running an organization, and the power of the human spirit. We also comment on the lack of rain on Mars, the likely effects of months of loneliness on our respective psyches, wacky parody sequels, and potatoes. Because potatoes, that’s why.
The music bump is “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees because it is Mark Watney’s theme song, even if only through an utter lack of alternatives.
Gabs: 7/10 potatoes. It’s a good book if you’re stuck on a bus.
Ben: 8/10. Big points for science and snark!
Adam: 8/10. For managing to make science interesting.
Novel Ideas is back! At least for this week. The plan had been to get this episode up around the time the movie was released, so expect a lot of hedging on estimates of when new episodes will be released. Adding context makes comments about having more content up by the end of the year more understandable, more amusing, and a bit more shameful. At any rate, here is Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, perhaps you’ve heard of it? If you listen, you will hear discussions about PTSD, the morality of war, weaknesses of characterization, and-dare I say it?-feminism. Not to mention messing with the shippers, different varieties of tridents, the curative power of babies in fiction, and why Gale is the worst.
If the audio quality seems off, we recorded and mixed this on a new rig. So Gabs is present via the power of the internet rather than the power of sitting at a table and may sound like she is present via the power of two tin cans linked by a string. Our apologies. Expect more of it. Eventually.
The music bump is “Back on the Streets Again” by the always timely Tower of Power.
Ben: 8/10. A more mature story than the first two with less action, but more interesting discussion points.
Gabs: 7.5/10 Peetas. (And zero Gales because he is terrible.) The book has some issues, but damn it, it’s trying.
After an unscheduled delay caused mostly by a certain male sibling’s recent life changes/laziness, Novel Ideas returns with ‘night Mother by Marsha Norman. We read this play because it is award winning and unlike our previous two plays, written by a female playwright. We brought back special guest Jessica Showers (at least at the time of recording) because she works in the theater industry. In this episode, we discuss women and Broadway, depression, conformity, and detachment. We also talk about the possibility of cotagonists, Sno Balls (and how they are the worst), candy, and a few terrible alternate endings.
The music bump is “Communication” by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and was inspired by our discussion of the theme of the play.
An award winning play that would definitely be worth seeing staged. Is it worth reading? Tougher question to answer.
Gabs: 7/10. Interesting, but hasn’t stuck with me completely.
Ben: 7/10. About the same.
We’re back! We have returned from our own fake murder to finish doing justice to evildoers and to record this podcast about Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This is a whodunnit about mystery, murder, and politically correct modifications of the title. Okay, the book isn’t actually about that last part, but there is a bit of a history there. Fair warning, before you click this first link, you may want to make sure no one will wander by and see it out of context. Borderline NSFW. Anyhoo, the book was first published as this, then this, and for the US edition, this. In the episode, we discuss the mystery genre, vigilante justice, anti-semitism, and class issues. We also talk about 1930’s futurism, bad qualities in a judge, PC modifications, and what the Stephen King version of this story might look like.
The music bump is the “Ten Little Indians” rhyme that the book uses as scaffolding for murder. Which probably should have been the title, but I didn’t think of the phrase until just now. Oh well.
Kind of lukewarm. We may have a subtle and inherent bias against mystery novels.
Gabs: 6.5/10 Tightly plotted and readable but without the extra oomph I need for a mystery to stand out.
Ben: 6/10 Probably originated many of the obvious tropes within, so I won’t hold that against it. Too easy to read to recommend against it.