Category Archives: Science Fiction

Slaughterhouse-Five

Today, we skip through time into Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s absurdist anti-war sci-fi satire Slaughterhouse-Five. One man’s fatalistic journey back and forth from alien zoos, mind-numbing suburbia, carpet-bombed city remains, traumatic swimming lessons, and pre-determined futures. An audio mix in glorious non-linear!

Listen to the SH5 mix here, because you already have listened to it and you always will.

“All this happened, more or less.”:
Telstar – The Tornadoes / As We Go Up, We Go Down – Guided by Voices
KVj always played such a great unreliable narrator because he could seamlessly be funny, horrifying, and thought-provoking at the same time. I have trouble having any one idiosyncrasy (well, other than sleepy or boring) at any given time.

Billy Pilgrim: Once in A Lifetime – Talking Heads / Do It All Over Again – Spiritualized
Debate time: Broken soldier’s PTSD-garbled mind, misunderstood time-travelling abductee’s cautionary tale, or a parabolic representation of a desperate longing for a new model to explain away human tragedies. Any way you slice it, you gotta love that jacket.

Roland Weary: Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
Jingoistic! Gosh, I love being able to use that word.

Unstuck in Time: Trail of Time – The Knitters
Time travel is so much more efficient sans Delorean. Unfortunately, it’s also considerably less handsome without Michael J Fox.

The Alien Zoo: In a Jar – Dinosaur Jr
Shake ‘em and see if they fight! With humans, it’s usually that easy.

Tralfamadorians: Little Hands – “Skip” Spence
I can’t believe aliens that are essentially hands with plunger bottoms are the things that kill the universe. I was sure it was going to be the Republicans.

Montana Wildhack: Another Girl, Another Planet – Only Ones
Sure, if I do happen to get abducted by aliens I’d love to have naked model-actress cellmate. However, I’d probably just end up with a boilerplate probing.

Edgar Derby: Slow Death – The Flamin’ Groovies
I suppose we all know we are going to die, but not quite with the same intimacy and inevitability as the lovable English teacher’s foretold demise. He always makes me think twice when I contemplating looting me up a teapot.

Suburban Life: Everybody’s Happy Nowadays – The Buzzcocks
Wars, abductions, imprisonment, bombings, assassination, and the only time Pilgrim ever seemed miserable as when he was a successful doctor and family man.

Kilgore Trout: Books About UFOs – Hüsker Dü
My absolute favorite part of SH5 is the vignettes describing Trout’s novels (a moneytree fertilized by human murder, the robot with bad breath, the time-traveller measuring Jesus’ height). Heck, Vonnegut’s alter-ego’s ideas for made-up novels are better than most science fiction.

Paul Lazzaro: Sweet Revenge – John Prine
Cotton candy is probably the sweetest thing. Revenge is a close second though.

Lasergun Assassination: My Days are Numbered – Close Lobsters
Omniscient knowledge of the exact moment of death isn’t so bad when you know you death is a pleasant purple with a soft hum (and then you can go back to some more satisfying life event). I still would probably prefer not to get lasered in the head. Hey, you remember that X-Files with Peter Boyle where he could tell you how you’ll die? That was a great episode.

Unstuck in Time: Crazy Rhythms – The Feelies
Déjà vu all over again.

Schlachthof-funf: Underneath the Bunker – REM
The slaughterhouse is the safest place to be? Yeah, we’ve heard that one before say the cows.

Abducted for the first time again: U.F.O. – Jim Sullivan
I feel its only appropriate to include an artist that was actually abducted by a UFO. Hopefully, he is doing as well as Pilgrim in the whole forcible mating department.

Dresden: Its Hard to Believe – Glenda Collins
We always like to think of ourselves as the good guys, but, um, yeah.

The Greatest Moment: Good Feeling – Violent Femmes
Riding a cart around firebombed city might not be my selection for the moment to relive over and over. Mine would probably be my chicken wing eating contest championship 2003. Coincidentally, the moment I would least like to relive is about an hour after my aforementioned greatest moment.

“So it goes.”: So It Goes – Nick Lowe
After every time I read this book and get this three word mantra “ohrwurming” in my head, I can’t tell if Vonnegut is laughing at or crying about the human capacity to accept and dismiss the myriad of senseless horrors. Probably both.

“Poo-tee-weet?”: To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine
I guess a little bird song is probably about the most intelligent thing that can be said about war. If only everything was beautiful and nothing hurt…

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

This episode we take on Philip K Dick’s sci-fi-noir masterwork Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Faith, consumerism, technology, and morality get thrown into the dystopian blender and comes out a mind-bending humanity-questioning headtrip. I heard they even made a pretty decent movie about it starring the Han Solo guy (Blade Jogger or something).

Go ahead and test your humanness via emotive response to an artificial mix here. It’s a real “Dubious Cube of Margarine”

World War Terminus: Metal Machine Music – Lou Reed / Nuclear War – Sun Ra
It’s a fact that if you subject any non-android to Metal Machine Music, in its entirety, they will become a chickenhead.

Rick Deckard: Satisfaction – Devo
Bit of a Goldilocks dilemma for the Deckard song. Kate Bush’s “Running Up The Hill” is too girly. Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” is too manly. Devo’s just right!

Penfield Mood Organ: Moody Fucker – Lambchop
Man, why can’t we really invent a dial-a-mood machine?  While I am sure its a necessity in a pre-extinction society, it’d still be a heck of a lot of fun in this pre-pre-extinction society. Dial 194 for “Hungry for goat cheese and licorice”. Dial 76 for “Denial of impending baldness”. Dial 93 for “Unfounded self confidence in one’s writing, dancing, and pie-eating skills”.

Iran Decker: Never Make Me Cry – Camper Van Beethoven
Dial 443 for “Make me sadder than Nick Drake”.

Black-faced Suffolk Ewe: Black Sheep Boy #4 – Okkervil River
Well, even though earth is dying, you are deemed unworthy of escaping this death, and your job gives you constant existential crises, at least at the end of the day a man can dream. Of course, my dream wouldn’t be buying a sheep on a 30 year mortgage. But hey, different strokes…

Rosen Industries: Robots – Kraftwerk
‘Cause the “Less Human than Human” slogan just didn’t have the right ring.

Voigt-Kampff Test: Fight Test – Flaming Lips
Question: You’re at a Flaming Lips concert. Fake blood. Animal costumes. Wayne Coyne crushes fans to death with giant bubble. Crowd cheers. (Pupil dilation? Yup, you’re a replicant.) Note: This also applies to GWAR concerts.

Rachel Rosen: You’re Not Real, Girl – The Swans
A fake girlfriend…but still significantly more real than my “super hot Canadian girlfriend from summer camp” in 8th grade.

John Isidore: Are Friends Electric? – Tubeway Army
With electric friends like you, who needs electric friends?

Mercerism: Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan
Using this song here means I won’t be using it for any Shirley Jackson books. Shucks.

Buster Friendly: Transmission – Joy Division
Whenever I attempt to picture Buster Friendly, I only ever see Krusty the Klown. “Hey kids! Your religion is a sham! Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hahaha!”

Luba Loft: Opera House – Olivia Tremor Control
The way Deckard feels about the mechanized opera singer is close to how I feel about all electronic music. I often wonder how music so pretty and magnificient can be made from a machine, but eventually I mostly just want to “retire” the DJ.

The Police Station: Shot by Both Sides – Magazine
My favorite scene in the book has to be the android police station. It has Hitchcockian tension, Kafkaesque paranoia, Darwinian undertones, and of course Dickish plot twists. Or is that just Dicky twists? Basically, if you combined Hitchcock, Kafka, Darwin and Yogi Berra, you’d have Philip K. Dick.

Phil Resch: Bad Detective – New York Dolls
It’s your usual good cop, bad cop situation. And by bad cop, I mean total heartless sadistic  sociopath cop.

Pris Stratton: In Every Dream Home a Heartache – Roxy Music
Only PKD can take a situation with a human and an android and somehow make the human be the inflatable doll of the relationship.

Roy Baty: Leader of the Pack – Shangri-Las
Can’t you visualize robo-greaser Rutger Hauer (leather jacket and all) riding his motorcycle around Mars just breaking human necks and making the ladybots swoon?…What? You can’t? Simple. Try dialing Moods 48-67: “Rutger Hauer Fantasizing”

The Spiders: Boris the Spider – The Who
Contrary to popular opinion, gleefully plucking off spider’s legs is no longer only a recreational activity  of junior high school psychos.

Retiring the Andys: I Wanna Destroy You – The Soft Boys
Terminating robots hasn’t been so gleefully exciting since Megaman on the Nintendo. Or maybe not since Terminator. Or maybe that scene in Office Space with the printer.

The Toad/The End:  Fool on the Hill – The Beatles 
The only way to truly know you are human is by screwing up so thoroughly and so often that there is no doubt of your humanness. To be a decent human is to empathize with those who screw up because you know your time is coming.

Fahrenheit 451

This week’s Tape on Book is Fahrenheit 451. The late great futurist writer Ray Bradbury’s grim reminder that knowledge, intellect, and books might just be useful in years to come.

Check out the mix here.

America in the Future: Strange Times – Black Keys
Living an existence under a government that is constantly on the verge of war, creates policies that limits freedoms and access to information, and supports a society of blind apathy and consumerism. Whew, I am glad this is science fiction, eh?

“It was a pleasure to burn.”: Books are Burning – XTC
XTC uses powerpop power in defense of the printed word. Well done, boys.

The Firemen: Search and Destroy – The Stooges
“I’m a Street-Walking Cheetah with a Heart Full of Napalm” maybe the single most intimidating line in all of rock n roll. Perfect motto for fascist firemen who revel in burning down homes.

Clarisse McClennan: She Lives in a Time of Her Own – 13th Floor Elevators
Don’t we all wish we had a mind-opening free-thinking gal living next door? My neighbor is an ornery cuss with a pitbull.

Guy Montag: I’m Set Free – Velvet Underground
Meathead turned intellectual and political refugee. I love this Guy!

Mildred Montag: Sound and Vision – David Bowie
In defense of Montag’s wife, I might be tempted to not care about the outside world if all I had to do was watch Bowie videos on my room-sized television all day.

Captain Beatty: See No Evil – Television
Beatty was a particularly heinous antagonist because he was obviously a well-read book burner. You just want to punch him in the face everytime he makes a Bible reference. He totally “gets it” and still destroys with glee and vigor. At least he finally got his flame-thrown comeuppances, I suppose.

Faber: Gates of Steel – Devo
English professor to the rescue….sort of: “So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people only want wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.”

Poetry Party: Brainwashed – Kinks
Montag reads Dover Beach to his wife’s shallow and clueless friends eliciting tears, rage, and nausea. Of course, I’ve been to parties where someone’s poetry has had similar effects on guests.

The Plan: No Surprises – Radiohead
Plant books on the firemen so they get in trouble…then nobody can burn books, right?
Okay, it was probably the worst plan ever to try and overthrow the government. “A” for effort though.

Mechanical Hound: Hellhound on My Trail – Robert Johnson
Simply terrifying spider-dog machine that hunts and kills with no regard…like the terminator without the cheesy catchlines.

Granger and the Book People: Memories Can’t Wait – Talking Heads
Revolutionary revolutionaries. No violence. No protest. All you gotta do is memorize a few books  to change the world.

Book Of Ecclesiastes: Turn, Turn, Turn – Nina Simone
With respect to Mr. Seeger and The Byrds, a more soulful and wavering version was required to capture to power contained in Montag’s charge.

Bombs/End: New Day Rising – Hüsker Dü
It was quite a task to find a song that could soundtrack the image of bombs leveling a city while still somehow carrying a spirit of hope for the future. Thanks, Hüskers!

“People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it”
– Ray Bradbury (RIP)