feminism

The Martian

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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.

94 – The Martian – Snark Tank

Our ratings:

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.

Mockingjay

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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.

93 – Mockingjay – The Bad Guys Would Eat Its Meat

Our ratings:

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.

 

‘night Mother

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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.

‘night Mother – Suicide is Hard to Joke About

Recommendations:

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.

Angels in America

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Our drama push continues this week on Novel Ideas with Angels in America by Tony Kushner, a very long two part play about… AIDS, maybe? This is a massive work, resulting in a longer than average episode where we mostly thrash about and try to figure out what various fantastical occurrences actually mean. In this episode, we discuss change, reluctant prophets, conservatism, and homosexuality. We also talk about why Tony Kushner won’t be appearing on the podcast, stupid alternate titles, chewing down a tree, and try to figure out what’s up with Joe. In the angelic realm alone, we examine the sexual habits of angels (always banging), the genitalia of angels (many and varied), and how angels maintain creation (mostly via jizz, as it turns out).

The music bump is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” not merely as yet another one of Ben’s terrible attempts at humor, but also because it actually appears in the play, though perhaps not in a traditional context.

Angels in America – Angels Be Crazy

Recommendations:

A very lengthy play (actually two plays) that is rather confusing to read at times because it’s supposed to be staged. Still has some power and effect though.

Gabs: 7/8 angelic vaginas.

Ben: 8/10 bouquets of phalli.

And Then There Were None

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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.

And Then There Were None – People Who Only Kill Dillholes

Recommendations:

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.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

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We apologize for the lengthy interregnum, it was so long that we had to look up a new word just to describe it. Or possibly we just have trouble getting our act together sometimes. At any rate, Novel Ideas is back with Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, a story of a woman’s personal journey to self-realization. Listen to the episode to hear our conversation about dialect, ambition, feminism, and race. We also talk about white history professors, bees, how rabies works, and kickass deathbed scenes.

Quick scheduling note: We’re trying to post an episode for John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War next week, followed by our year in review episode for “Season 2″ of Novel Ideas. There is likely to be a couple more missed weeks after that as Gabs gets married and goes on her honeymoon. Or maybe Ben will post something highly self-indulgent while we’re waiting. We’ll have to see.

If you have any comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about in the past year, please let us know! Also, if there’s anything you were hoping we might talk about outside those books, also let us know. We’d like to find some interesting and slightly different content for the end of the year episode if we can.

The music bump this week is “Janie Runaway” by Steely Dan, after our plucky protagonist.

Their Eyes Were Watching God – Too Dignified for a Mule Funeral

Recommendations:

A 20th century classic that is commonly assigned in school with a lot of conversation worthy content. A little tough to read due mainly to the use of dialect, but also rather short.

Gabs: 7/10 for literary value, 5/10 for ease of reading.

Ben: 5.5/10 because I liked it more than I didn’t, but just barely. This one felt kind of like assigned reading.

Under the Dome

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Novel Ideas returns, still a tad off schedule, with Under the Dome by Stephen King. Yes we’re a week late. Yes we’ve switched up our order. But we made it. And we’re hoping to get back on track for a few weeks before our schedule mid-March disruption. But more on that later. Listen to the episode for our discussions on antagonists, black and white characters, feminism, and difficult thematic questions. We also talk about Stephen King-isms, people who don’t swear, functional bullshit detectors, and bursting a rage bubble.

The music bump is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, chosen for possible thematic relevance.

Under the Dome – Worst Comedy Ever

Recommendations:

Gabs: 8/10. A fun and compelling read, where you don’t stop to ask questions until after you’ve finished.

Ben: 8/10. A very entertaining book, assuming you aren’t scared of its sheer mass.