Our friend Lindsay Lajoie saw that we were considering William Gibson’s Neuromancer on the podcast, and admitted on her Instagram that it’s one of the very few books she attempted and could get through. Lindsay joins us for a mini-sode, and we pick apart her reaction, and try to convince her it’s worth another go.
Dukes and Bagg return to William Gibson’s groundbreaking 1984 novel, that popularized the cyberpunk genre. The reviews are mixed. There are moments of brilliance, but does the young Gibson’s drive to “put a hook on every page” lead to more confusion than clarity?
As students, parents, and teachers happily (or wrenchingly) return to school, we invite our resident education specialist, Justin Reich, to talk about stories with teachers. We identify many examples of bad teachers and bad teaching in fiction, and while film and TV often present sympathetic teacher protagonists, we wonder if the Great American Teacher novel is yet to be written.
Whitehead’s neo-noir crashes to a climax, but does it stick the landing? In the end, the Dukes and Bagg wonder if the weight of the the author’s allegory overloads the elevator car laden with plot and character. The lads continue to marvel at Whitehead’s sentences, and sheer originality and ambition of this remarkable novel.
Thanks to everybody who joined our first ever live event last night. Here are the results for our next series (after we finish Neuromancer, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and The Forever War). We’ll publish the audio from last night’s event in our podcast feed in the coming weeks. See below for our plan… Continue reading Draft Results!!
The live draft will begin at 7:30 PM tonight, August 2nd. Use this link to tune in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aWaSNmJe8k
On Wednesday, August 2nd, at 7:30pm EDT, we will select our next FOUR series using a ranked choice voting system we like to call “DRAFT DAY”. If you want to join, watch this space for a youtube live link, around 7:15pm EDT. Here is a rando Creative Commons image we found searching “Draft Day”. It’s…… Continue reading Upper Middlebrow Live DRAFT!
The lads are quite impressed with Colson Whitehead’s debut novel, which packs an allegory about race, class, and futurism into a unique take on hard-boiled noir. Bagg challenges Dukes to unpack exactly how the tone of irony is detected in the novel, and they both marvel over Whitehead’s delicious sentences. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”… Continue reading Episode 26: “Uplift!” or Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist
Jemisin weaves three major threads into one in the second half of The Fifth Season, but the lads take issue with some of the convenient plot wrapping. Dukes + Bagg remained blown away by the power of imagination on display, but Dukes raises the question of whether the book deals honestly with the moral dilemma at its heart.
The Fifth Season is… a lot. Fantasy? Sure. Sci-fi? Maybe. Allegory? Definitely. The first half introduces us to three apparently different protagonists, with action in an uncertain number of timelines, and the sense that this particular world is about the be transformed. But why? And how?
We hear from you! We share listener summer read recommendations in the form of voicemails and texts. Dukes + Bagg each share a summer reading recommendation, and somehow, the conversations keeps getting dragged back to baseball.
We’re joined by two journalists and avid readers, Susie An and Arionne Nettles, both former colleagues of Jesse’s from WBEZ in Chicago. Susie and Ari both like the IDEA of a beach read, and both say they use summer as a time to catch up on books they WANT to read, as opposed to books they’re SUPPOSED to read. Susie recommends The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, and Ari recommends You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi.
We’re joined by two veteran high school English teachers, each with a summer reading recommendation for a teenager. We talk about about how speculative fiction (including sci-fi, fantasy, horror, alt. history) engages teenagers in different ways, and why magic gets a bad rap among “literary” readers.
Lauren Olamina leaves her ruined home in the second half of Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 novel/theology document/allegory/philosophical text, heading for the mysterious utopia of Branscombe first and then…the stars? Bagg and Dukes try to locate the climax of this work, discuss the figurative vs. denotative nature of the novel, and close things out with some Muppets impersonations.
Parable of the Sower purports to be a work of speculative fiction, but Bagg points out that “speculative” is in the eye of the speculator. Dukes calls it the founding document of a theology that both UMBs find rather coherent and attractive. Whatever the book is, it is the work of a gifted writer, who was overlooked when she was alive, and died too young.