Audiobook Month: Going Public … In Shorts!

Image from APA (www.audiopub.org)

Image from APA (www.audiopub.org)

June is Audiobook month (JIAM 2013). The audiobook community is giving back by teaming with the Going Public Project by offering a serialized audio story collection. All proceeds will go to Reach Out and Read literacy advocacy organization. Throughout June, 1-2 stories will be released each day on the Going Public blog and on author/book blogs. The story will be free (online only – no downloads) for one week. In collaboration with Blackstone Audio, all the stories will be available for download via Downpour. The full compilation will be ready June 30th.

The full schedule of the story release dates and narrators are at Going Public. Engineering and Mastering are provided by Jeffrey Kafer and SpringBrook Audio. Graphic design provided by f power design and published by Blackstone Audio. Project coordination and executive production by Xe Sands. (written by Mary Freeman)

Photo from Mark's Twitter page.

Photo from Mark’s Twitter page.

Today I’m lucky enough to have audiobook narrator MARK TURETSKY on the blog! Among other things, he narrates one of my favourite middle grade series, Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. 

Mark Turetsky is an award-winning audiobook narrator and voice over artist living in Brooklyn, New York. In addition to his audiobooks, Mark has voiced numerous commercials, video games, and online presentations. He is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and holds a minor in English and American Literature.

For Going Public … In Shorts, Mark recorded a narration of Philip K. Dick’s ‘Beyond Lies the Wub’ (which you can listen to below) a short story that we’re going to discuss below. This story will be part of a larger compilation of stories that will be available this month is available NOW — see below for the link. 

 

 

BUY THIS SHORT STORY FROM DOWNPOUR NOW! ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE REACH OUT AND READ LITERACY ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION!

beyond lies the wubMark: At the outset, I’d just like to point out to any readers that we’re going to be spoiling the heck out of the story, so they should take a listen to it before reading ahead. Now that that’s taken care of, the first thing I’d like to discuss is to pose the question of what the heck is going on in the story on a purely surface level.We’ve got this space ship crew who is restocking their larder on Mars, and they’ve picked up this animal called a wub, which to them looks exactly like a pig. The story ends with the wub taking over the body of the Captain of the ship, after the captain has eaten the Wub. the question that immediately comes up for me with this whole story is whether the pig creature was born a wub, or whether the wub is the consciousness that moves from body to body, who just happens to be inhabiting the body of a pig at the beginning of the story. I personally have a pretty strong opinion, but I’d like to see what conclusion you’ve come to. Also, you’re pretty new to Science Fiction, right? What did you think of the story?Kristilyn: Yes. I am very new to science fiction. I bet this is something my older brother (who is an AVID science fiction fan) would have read, but it’s something I would have only heard about in passing and probably never would have picked up. I did like how accessible the story was, what with it not scaring away a newbie sci-fi fan, like myself. There was a good mix of humour throughout — along with plenty that had me shaking my head. I mean, it’s a story that could be taken in a very silly way, OR it can be quite scary. I think the part that is most scary is how we come across as human beings, only wanting to EAT something like the wub, rather than accept it as an equal. What kind of monsters are we? When it comes to the wub itself, I think that it wasn’t a thing that was born; rather, I think it’s an entity on its own that took over the body of the pig, and then that of the captain. Since the captain was so keen on eating the wub, I wonder if he had been successful, would the entity still survive? Would it have been able to take over the captain’s body AFTER its current body had passed? Also, if the wub was indeed a pig, I guess it makes more sense of the term “when pigs fly,” since they CAN fly — on spaceships, but flying nonetheless.

Mark: Yes, I find Captain Franco’s lust for delicious wub meat is somewhat unusual, and I find it pretty funny. But, I mean, if we re-frame this in a more familiar mode, that they’re say, 19th Century explorers on a long ship who’ve spent the last year at sea, it’s pretty easy to imagine they’d be licking their chops over having a nice juicy pig on board. Legend has it that the galapagos giant turtle didn’t make it back to London for examination as it was so delicious (and is endangered now). What’s really weird is that knowing that the wub is an intelligent creature seems to make the captain even more eager to eat it. I have a hypothesis about what precisely is going on here, which is how I approached the reading. First off, the wub is obsessed with creature comforts, he says he’s “addicted to various forms of relaxation,” and a bit later talks about the taste of wub meat, saying, “The taste, I am told, is good. A little fatty, but tender.” Do you see where I’m going with this? I personally believe the wub has started manipulating the captain when he meets in his cabin: Franco’s got a nice, cozy apartment, and, since he seems dead set on eating the wub, maybe the wub is a bit curious to see how he tastes. For a creature who’s “addicted to various forms of relaxation,” it seems like it might just be the most decadent thing to try. This little section ends with the captain and the wub exchanging a strange telepathic moment, where the wub seems to come out on top, making me think the captain’s under his control at this point, and the wub, despite his protestations, wants to be eaten. Later on, as the captain is shooting the wub, the wub looks deeply into his eyes, and at that moment, the wub transfers his consciousness into the captain’s body.

There’s another really fun reading of this story which fits in well with your belief that the wub is a consciousness inhabiting a common pig, and not the name for a telepathic animal that looks like a pig. The wub, in this case, reminds me of a parasite called dicrocoelium dendriticum. It lives in cattle or other grazing animals. The cattle or sheep’s poo is full of parasite eggs, which then get eaten by a snail. The snail then excretes these little parasites in its slime, and then an ant comes along to drink the slime as a source of water. Once the parasite is inside the ant, it actually begins to control the ant’s brain, making it climb a blade of grass, and once the ant is at the top of the blade of grass, it can be eaten and then the whole business starts again. So, in this case, this may just be part of the wub’s life cycle. It seeks out a tasty-looking creature, it manipulates the creature into being eaten by something higher up the food chain. Once it’s eaten, it takes control of the host brain, and on and on. Maybe Captain Franco’s ship is just the unwitting trojan horse of a huge planned invasion of Earth, with the end result being all of humanity taking over by slovenly wubs. It’s a fun way to think about this story, since it’s not all that much different than what’s out there on Earth, just re-cast with a science fiction twist, with humans as the ants. It’s quite unsettling, in that case.

Kristilyn: Wow, Mark — you sure did your research for this story! I think there’s a lot of instances of parasites just feeding off of animals, moving from animal to animal. It doesn’t seem so unsettling when you think of it in real life, but I do think that the fact that the wub (or the parasite or consciousness inhabiting the wub) is highly intelligent is what makes it very unsettling in the story, the fact that the captain is so eager to eat it. BUT I do like your theory about the wub coercing the captain into wanting to eat it. Maybe if the captain didn’t seem so keen on eating the wub, it might have moved on or chosen another body to move into. Perhaps it just wants to inhabit the body of those creatures who seem dead set on killing, maybe weeding out the bad eggs of human society?

I like thinking that this story is only the first part of many, the beginning of an even larger plan to take over Earth. It’s really great when a story plants an idea like that in your brain, leaving you to want more or to create the larger story in your head. I’d be interested to know if Dick made a series out of this story, or if the idea lends itself to any other of his works.

Mark: I guess this demonstrates a key difference between us: I see an invasion force bent on conquering the planet, you see one set on civilizing us, and turning us into peaceful vegetarians! Philip K Dick did visit the wub again in a story called “Not By Its Cover”. In it, a publisher on Mars is binding books in luxuriant wub fur, and the books bound in wub fur end up having their text changed. So, this is a pretty hardy creature, if the fur can survive being removed, and it’ll even still telepathically get into philosophical conversations. I guess what really interested Dick about the wub, beyond its remarkable survival traits, was that it had deeply held philosophical beliefs, as that’s what it really wants to discuss, if given the chance.

There’s a wonderful part in “Not By Its Cover” where it replaces Tom Paine’s The Age of Reason with the single word “bleh.” The wub in “Beyond Lies The Wub” seems most interested in the common cultural traits between wubs and humans, and specifically the story of Odysseus. The wub describes it as “a brief journey of the soul,” after which “the wanderer returns to land and race.” So, maybe the wub isn’t as nefarious as I might be positing, but someone out to have an adventure, after which time he’ll return to the creature comforts of home (admittedly, in a new body).

Well, that’s about all I have to say about this story at the moment. Anything else you’d like to add?

Kristilyn: I love that — like the wub is just out there to have fun and mess with people, but will ultimately return home. Who says science fiction has to be so serious? Thank you for mentioning the other wub story of Dicks — I know I’ll for sure be checking that one out! Sounds like another great read for my rising science fiction tastes.

Thanks so much, Mark, for being on the blog today!

Check out yesterday’s post over at Linus’s Blanket! 

Get ready for tomorrow’s post over at The Reading Date!

Have you read this story before? What are your thoughts on it? 

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8 thoughts on “Audiobook Month: Going Public … In Shorts!

  1. Pingback: Going Public…in Shorts – 6/3 |

  2. Pingback: Audiobook Month Interview with Narrator Susan Ericksen | The Reading Date

  3. Pingback: Book Bloggery Week-in-Review (11) | Another Novel Read

  4. Pingback: The Book Tart | Going Public… In Shorts with Cris Dukehart + Mark Twain + Contest!

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