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Author Topic: EP236: Still On the Road  (Read 5264 times)
Swamp
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« on: February 01, 2010, 08:17:50 AM »

EP236: Still On the Road

By Geoffrey A. Landis.
Read by Stephen Eley.

First appeared in Asimov’s, December 2008.

Turns out, you know, that old dharma bum never made it off the wheel of karma. He had too many attachments, to the road, to words; and if you love the things of the world of Mara too much you fall back into the world, like gravity pulling back a rocket that doesn’t reach escape velocity. Two, three thousand years later, he’s still on the road. Really, nothing’s changed. And Neal, that old prankster, Neal never really did want to transcend, he loved to see it all streaming past the window, a constant moving circus disappearing in the rear-view mirror, loved to talk, loved it all.

Rated PG. Contains a little profanity and a lot of beat.


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Talia
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« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2010, 09:18:53 AM »

I enjoyed this just as a fun little tale of an space road trip, but apparently I missed out on the whole point of the piece, having never read 'On the Road' nor having any clue who Neal Cassidy is. Heh.

Oh well. Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2010, 11:19:05 AM »

I enjoyed the story. Having not read Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson, I vacillated between the two but eventually guessed it was the latter. I guessed wrong. I also thought Neil was Neil Armstrong.
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Swamp
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« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2010, 11:59:43 AM »

For those who don't know about Jack Kerouac, here is a clip of him reading from his book, On The Road, on the Steve Allen Show in 1959.  Jack was the voice of the Beat Generation or Beatnic movement in the 1950's.  I've always thought that compared to the Beatnics, the hippies of the 1960's are just a bunch of posers. 

I have always liked the cadence of their readings, and of course, the music.  I know that things aren't always possible with schedules or what not, but I really would have loved to hear this story read in that same cadence (like Jack from the clip), with a little jazz in the background.  However, I enjoyed the story nonetheless.  Now snap to the bongos, my friend, and go with the flow of life.
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KenK
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« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2010, 01:42:39 PM »

 Huh
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2010, 03:25:55 PM »

I liked the story, despite not liking Kerouac terribly much.  (Blasphemy, I know.  He just always seemed a little... immature.  I dunno.)  However, that enabled me to empathize with the protagonist pretty well, smiling politely and edging away as quickly as he could.

Fun story.
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2010, 05:49:20 PM »

It was good enough, but I just don't see how driving around with two guys for days on end and inhaling noxious space gas counts as "living."
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 07:12:09 PM »

The funny part is that it is supposed to be a tribute to those two guys, then the MC says he wouldn't go with them again.
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 11:42:01 PM »

The funny part is that it is supposed to be a tribute to those two guys, then the MC says he wouldn't go with them again.

Honestly, I think they'd take that as a compliment.
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KenK
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2010, 09:20:41 AM »

This story got linked by the BoingBoing blog today.That might shoot up the traffic and the comments some. Maybe the hipsters who read BB can sort it out better than we have so far. I would enjoy some comments that attempt to describe what this story is about, if anything. Kerouac is way over-rated from what I've read of him (On the Road, Dharma Bums) in college. I was really hoping for something more than the usual "liked it" or "hated it" type of comments. Maybe when the full issue comes out in a few days this will resolve itself.
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2010, 09:51:44 AM »

Never read Kerouac, but I remember Neal Cassady being with Ken Kesey's group (I must have read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test at least half a dozen times in high school.)

This story did nothing but bore me for ten minutes.  I could have listened to King Crimson's "Neal and Jack and Me" twice in that same time and been better off.
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2010, 11:13:21 PM »

For those who don't know about Jack Kerouac, here is a clip of him reading from his book...

I have always liked the cadence of their readings, and of course, the music.  I know that things aren't always possible with schedules or what not, but I really would have loved to hear this story read in that same cadence (like Jack from the clip)...

I don't think the story was written with a beat cadence. Maybe I would have liked it better if it had been (though I am not generally a big fan of beat).
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2010, 10:31:57 AM »

... (though I am not generally a big fan of beat).

It's a good album, though I like Discipline and Three of a Perfect Pair more.

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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2010, 01:46:12 PM »

I liked the story, despite not liking Kerouac terribly much.  (Blasphemy, I know.  He just always seemed a little... immature.  I dunno.)  However, that enabled me to empathize with the protagonist pretty well, smiling politely and edging away as quickly as he could.

Fun story.

Wow, Scattercat.... we are kindred spirits. I too have thought it was immature, to much disagreement/disappointment from many of the so-called poets, rebels, and others I hang out with (mostly male). NOT ONLY THAT.... that Kipling quote is my favorite quote of all time (its all i have in the 'about me' section on Facebook). Wow!

Some mush I'd like to share: My fiancé's favorite book growing up was On the Road, and Steve's closing quote, about the stars, is always in my fiance's wallet. My recognition of the quote (even though I was NOT a fan of the book) was one of the reasons he fell in love with me. When he asked me to marry him, he told me that I was one of the "mad ones." I was touched, but I still don't like the book.

I did like Still On the Road, though. When I saw the title and heard the first started listening, I thought, Oh no not another lazily-but-enthusiastically-written fanboy beatnik-wannabe story, but I was pleasantly surprised by the honesty and depth. I might even say that I was actually moved.



 
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2010, 03:00:30 PM »

NOT ONLY THAT.... that Kipling quote is my favorite quote of all time (its all i have in the 'about me' section on Facebook).

Kipling was a pretty good dude, considering his time and place, and he definitely had a flair for language.  I tend to collect quotes about cats in general, however; it is sometimes made difficult by the preponderance of cutesy-wutesy cat-based material.  "Just So Stories" and, in particular "The Cat Who Walks by Himself," was one of my favorites, growing up.

Interestingly, there are some correlations between the eponymous Cat and Kerouac, but I think the Cat has a more balanced view on the whole.  Sure, talk a big game, but in the end a nice spot by the fire and milk three times a day are probably worth having some shoes thrown at you by the Man periodically.  And you can always go out by yourself if you need to get away for a while.
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2010, 03:34:08 PM »

WARNING!  INCOMING CULTURAL DIVERGENCE!

Mike Carey's The Unwritten is a genuinely superb comic being published by DC Vertigo about a secret conspiracy to map and influence fictional geography and use it to influence the world.  It's a magnificent series and the first volume is an essential purchase.  However, issue five, which is about Rudyard Kipling and how his work is first influenced by and then rebels against this conspiracy and the price he pays for this is, flat out, one of the three best comics I've ever read.  I don't know if it's in the first collection but it's a must read if you're even a little interested in him or his work.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled podcast.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2010, 05:32:35 PM »

That sounds absolutely awesome, Alasdair; where can I find a copy in tradebook?
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« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2010, 09:24:25 PM »

Count me as one of those who never read On the Road and doesn't really know anything about Kerouac. 

As a science fiction story, it doesn't really impress me.  It seems to be set in space for no particular reason.  But I could see this coming, and the author obviously isn't concerned with this story's lack of "hardness", so I was able to turn down my Indign-o-meter before any damage was done.

As a fun little story I think it works.  I can sympathize with the narrator being swept along by a pair of nutjobs.  He's envious and fearful of them at the same time.

We envy the bleeding edge types when we see them doing crazy, fun things.  They're right, that really is living.  On the other hand so is tucking your kids in at night in a warm, safe house.  And I have a feeling that they are sometimes envious of us boring types who have a nice dinner with our families and then snuggle up on the couch to watch Lost.  I think you're lucky if you can be crazy, but not too crazy, and boring, but not too boring.

I looked up Neil Cassady on Wikipedia.  His live-wire personality inspired Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, and the Grateful Dead, but he was dead at 41 from passing out outside in the cold and rain after having taken drugs.  He was estranged from several wives and his kids and did two stints in prison.   If I had taken a ride with Ol' Cowboy Neil I would probably have had the same reaction as the narrator.  If the car came by I again I would know I shouldn't get back in, but I would know I wanted to. 

Steve:  Nice outro.  It would be rude for me to say take pleasure for your problems, but I thought it was poignant. 
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« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2010, 10:58:45 AM »

This one didn't do much for me, but that's no surprise as I have no idea who Neil is, and only the vaguest idea who Kerouac is.  I know Jack wrote On the Road which is hyped to such a huge degree that I'm almost reluctant to read it--usually anything with that level of hype disappoints simply because not much can live up to that level of expectation (although if I expect hyped-up stories to be disappointing, maybe they won't be, because I no longer expect it?).

But, it was short enough and kept me listening throughout.  Not a bad story, but without being familiar with the tribute's source, not that compelling.

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« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2010, 11:41:13 AM »

I liked the story, despite not liking Kerouac terribly much.  (Blasphemy, I know.  He just always seemed a little... immature.  I dunno.)  However, that enabled me to empathize with the protagonist pretty well, smiling politely and edging away as quickly as he could.

Ditto.  Kerouac always seemed really self-absorbed to me, and I never really cared for jazz music, which he would go on and on about.  I never really understood how he was Buddhist either.  His life was not what one would usually call "the middle path".  I was more of a Hunter S. Thompson fan, who I felt always had a great mix of Dionysian playfulness and the occasional moments of sobering profoundity.
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