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Review: Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky)

New podcast episode !

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E6M – Stalker (movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

Wow this was a doozy folks. I’ll have to be frank, there was much ramp-up to covering the book from all three hosts. Each of us had a bit of a taste reading “Roadside Picnic” wrapping up the previous episode and had expressed a degree of excitement for our “picnic.” It was definitely a unique piece of work as far as science fiction goes. The characters and mode of storytelling were atypical to say the least. None of us, however, anticipated the esoteric nature of the movie. The movie was so infused with philosophical poetics; I don’t believe one of us was prepared enough to cover it (as the usual last minute protocols appeared to be in effect). All three of us were blindsided by this movie, our reactions to it were quite different. While Ryan and I were compelled to simply…

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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “Roadside Picnic” – Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

New podcast episode on the Russisn science fiction masterpiece “Roadside Picnic” by Arkady and Boris Strugastky !

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E6B – Roadside Picnic (book)*

SHOW NOTES:

“Roadside Picnic” took a surreal concept, wrote about it in Russian, translated it into English, and eventually into its highest form, became the subject of this month’s podcast.

As I write this I feel that the book is calling to me, daring me to reread it. I gave it a paltry three stars, but that was only because it was overly complex. Sort of like a Radiohead album. It’s the sort of thing you need to read a couple times to appreciate because it is so dense and rich.

We all enjoyed it. And we did not interpret the book in the same way, yet we all agreed that it was a masterful work. It was dark, enchanting, foreboding, horrible, and mysterious.  It evoked different emotions in all of us and led to a decent debate about the actions and intentions…

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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “Roadside Picnic” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (5 Stars)

A moody morass rallying against the gray walls of reality, in perfect tone.

This book lilts like a weather-beaten gravestone, sunk in a forest cemetery littered amongst the broken fragments of classic science fiction tropes. Originality shines through in the story line and voice of the authors (and translator—I read the 2012 translation). The plot laps in along the written words in understated waves, cutting into the psyche as silent and nondescript as a straight razor.

The characters are displaced misfits revolving in orbital magnetism around demarcated zones. These “zones” are the site of past visitations from unidentified extraterrestrial beings. In the wake of these visits the aliens have left behind foreign objects that imbue strange physics of unknown purpose. An interesting premise that immediately goes off the rails when it’s revealed that nobody knows anything about the aliens; and that none of this is precipitating a massive invasion. The aliens came and went without saying hello, goodbye or cleaning up after themselves when they exited the planet. What’s left is their junk. Commence story.

The science fiction elements in this tale are subtle and yet present in perfect form. There is no ambiguous allusion to the weird or otherworldly. Strange things happen that are not of this earth, but not in any kind of grandiose fashion. Yes, the planet and mankind’s destiny is forever changed, but not in the way that some Hollywood script might explore. Also absent are long diatribes mining over the murkier parts of dark science. This is not hard sci-fi.

The focus tends to be more on the interpersonal relationships of the characters who live on the fringes of the alien zones and how their immediate, domestic lives are affected. Relationships, work, local politics all center around a black market of trade that has evolved and devolved based on the supply and demand of skilled human workers who can negotiate the dangerous obstacles in the zones and retrieve some of the coveted alien pieces for further study.

There is no quest. Well, that’s not entirely true, but the story is not so much about getting the sacred “boon” to save the world as it is about what we happen to learn about ourselves in our quest to know and understand—everything. Lots of questions are posed and the actions of the characters feel almost like poetic gestures poised against the eternal esoteric void of the universe. I’ve seen some reviewers read a “faith-type” journey into this story. I also feel compelled toward this view, but not in any specific denominational sense. I felt that the protagonist was on a spiritual journey of some sort. Almost like a vision quest. He throws himself into the dangerous zones as if he is throwing himself at the universe. Daring to be understood.

So much of the story is beyond the words and obtuse. Much is left to interpretation. Yet, things are not so abstract as to put off a straight reading. Very concrete events happen that can be tracked and followed. There just seems to be the perfect amount of an ethereal aura present that the story is transported up out of the gloomy-gray of the abandoned and ever-decaying zones, and lifted into an eternity of human existence. The experience is haunting and thought provoking.

This is one of the few books I’d like to come back and re-read to see what I’ve missed and what other universal truths I could glean from the prose. And yet, it’s not because the writing is so complex or the ideas so foreign. This work contains significant bones, multi-layered in the simple genius that I long for in a masterpiece.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).

Episode Link: https://nodeodorantinouterspace.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/review-roadside-picnic-arkady-and-boris-strugatsky/

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Preview Episode (Roadside Picnic)

New podcast preview episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E6P – Preview Episode (Roadside Picnic)*

SUBJECT MATTER:

Book: “Roadside Picnic (1972)” by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

“Amazing. . . . The Strugatskys’ deft and supple handling of loyalty and greed, of friendship and love, of despair and frustration and loneliness [produces] a truly superb tale. . . . You won’t forget it -Theodore Sturgeon Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those young rebels who are compelled, in spite of the extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. But when he and his friend Kirill go into the Zone together to pick up a “full empty” something goes terribly wrong. . . . First published in 1972 and immediately acclaimed as a science-fiction classic, Roadside Picnic is included on almost every list of the hundred greatest science-fiction novels, despite the fact that it has…

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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” by Bram Stoker (2 1/2 Stars)

A meandering gothic tale of wormish fiends, overshadowed by a giant kite and frequent supper respites.

Written just before the author’s death, many reviewers have speculated that the writing suffered horribly as a result. There are seemingly random point-of-view switches (not set off by modern-standard breaks), dead end plots, confusing motivations of character, and staring contests (yes, mandatory staring contests that nobody can seem to avoid). Oh yeah, horribly offensive racist elements that probably even exceed what one might expect from this time period can be found in this work.

Most times when a book is read it should be considered on its own terms. For this book, the proper placement in history, literature and an open mind do very little to help the story elevate to any kind of level worth reading.

Despite all this, there are some interesting elements that rise up from the tattered ruins like dinosaur bones poking out of a primordial swamp. My favorite of which was an ominous kite that seemed to cast a strange influence over the characters and setting and even figure into the plot proper. The White Worm and its legend and place of abode are also intriguing and bolster up the back-story. The writing itself is very manageable for being an older work.

What mainly works in this story is the horror elements and the insufferable madness that rots the brains of the two chief antagonists: Lady Arabella and Edgar Caswall. The author does a decent job of describing their increasing descent into evil chaos. We seem to know what’s driving Lady Arabella’s ambitions and Caswall’s possessiveness. In contrast, the protagonists feel a bit like fluff as they wrestle with all the evil surrounding them. The African character is made to be one-dimensional and the other character’s views toward him are despicable and provide little more than an author’s lazy and contrived plot device.

The plot is not tight and moves slow as it plods over the occasional hole along the way. For myself, I found the continual and frequent meetings for strategy over tea between the protagonist and his would-be-ally (Sir Nathaniel) tedious and redundant if not pointless. The protagonist’s invocation of morality (sometimes a twisted morality) feel like a fragile shell of trite emblematic overtures. And the staring contests go on and on and on into absurdity and hilarity. I suspect that in the author’s time “mesmerism” (later hypnosis) were new and mysterious things in the minds of the culture and perhaps audiences of that time might be more intrigued by these references. That said, the author makes no great literary effort to complement this bygone fascination.

This is a story about privileged gentry that is filled with boring anecdotes of how dire their circumstances are without really feeling so dire. There is definitely a disconnect between the perils of the characters and what’s supposed to be at stake. The contrast is felt sharply when the climax of the plot crests into an absolutely bombastic finale that is fit to fritter across the pages of Hollywood’s worst action blockbuster (though it is described very well).

Ultimately, this book is not worth checking out. Not even for the fact that it is written by the author of “Dracula.” It may hold some small interest for those wanting to fully explore the author’s career (perhaps as an end cap of sorts). Perhaps those heavily interested in horror and wacky stories might find some elements worth noting. Overall, this is book is not for the casual fan or even the avid fan of this genre or related genres.

Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes, Tune-In Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, YouTube or our website (www.nodeodorant.com).

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in Book Reviews

 

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Review: The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell)

Review: The Lair of the White Worm (Ken Russell)

New podcast episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E5M – The Lair of the White Worm(movie)*

SHOW NOTES:

The Lair of the White Worm film far exceeded the book. It was also a farcical incoherent mess of a film that was fantastic. Of course two out of the three co-hosts did not understand this and ruined not only their own experience, but those of anyone listening to the podcast (and possible people in the near vicinity that could absorb their negative energy).

Like all great films from the 20th century this starts with a man named Angus finding a skull. This of course leads to human sacrifice, an artificial phallus, an orgy, nudity, murder, the opening of hell, and a giant white worm who may or may not have a lair.

The movie is provocative and high camp at the same time. It is best enjoyed while on a sinking boat or LSD, but not…

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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in News, Podcast

 

Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” – Bram Stoker

Review: “The Lair of the White Worm” – Bram Stoker

New podcast episode!

No Deodorant In Outer Space

PODCAST:

S3E5B – Lair of the White Worm(book)*

SHOW NOTES:

Well, this show was fantastic. The book was weird but we managed to dig it up pretty well.

-Rick

WRITTEN BOOK REVIEWS:

Ryan:2 1/2 Stars “…A meandering gothic tale of wormish fiends, overshadowed by a giant kite and frequent supper respites…

Wilk:0 Stars “…This is a very bad book and was not meant to be published. It has a worm. The worm is white….Read Dracula instead….

Rick:3 Stars “…This book lies in the historical cesspool of courtship to inherited entitlement and propagates paranoid racist incitement that has continued to flush over humankind through the centuries…

(Click the links to read full written reviews on Goodreads.com)

FUN FACTOIDS:

Henry_Irving_portraitMuch of Bram Stoker’s life was dedicated to the support of famed Shakespearean, Henry Irving. Stoker was absolutely devoted to the actor…

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Posted by on July 19, 2016 in News, Podcast

 
 
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