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Group Reads > July 2018 - What Mad Universe

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Something different this month - a book that regularly appears on "Greatest Science Fiction" lists.

Fredric Brown wrote both science fiction AND mysteries. His first mystery novel - The Fabulous Clip Joint won the Edgar Award. His science fiction works have been adapted for the big screen, and inspired television episodes of The Outer Limits and Star Trek. Writers Philip K. Dick, Robert A. Heinlein, Neil Gaiman, and Stephen King have all read and admired Brown's work.

Brown died in 1972.

More info - http://www.thrillingdetective.com/tri...


message 2: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
This month's poll was, well, to put it bluntly - not very popular. Guess most of our members prefer their pulps to be of a criminal nature. But, I know at least one guy in our group who is reading this now, and is EAGERLY awaiting a discussion.

I'm glad Brown's book won. I don't often read science fiction, but when I do, I prefer it with a healthy dose of humor.


message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments I inherited a leather bound copy of What Mad Universe when I got married and have been interested in reading it ever since. Written in the early years of the cold war, it promises to use a pulp format combined with a healthy dose of humor to shine a light on more terrestrial geopolitical concerns.

I'm looking forward to reading how General Dwight D. Eisenhower is going to handle being in command of Venus Sector.


message 4: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I downloaded this on my Nook for $2.99.


message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments I was going to say that Amazon has it for $2.99 on Kindle.


message 6: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments I think it is $2.99 for Nook, but Kindle is a bit pricier. If I can find a copy at the library I'll be in for this month.


message 7: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Franky wrote: "I think it is $2.99 for Nook, but Kindle is a bit pricier. If I can find a copy at the library I'll be in for this month."

Nope - it's still $2.99 on Kindle. My library has nothing by Brown. I'm guessing those cheap, mass market paperbacks just didn't hold up over the years . . . IF they ever had any of his stuff to begin with.


message 8: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments Melki wrote: "Franky wrote: "I think it is $2.99 for Nook, but Kindle is a bit pricier. If I can find a copy at the library I'll be in for this month."

Nope - it's still $2.99 on Kindle. My library has nothing ..."


Oh okay, then I'll check it out :) Weird, I thought I saw that it was pricier than that.


message 9: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I'm about 54 pages in. The beginning reminds me of the movies of the 1950s--and earlier-- when the multi-millionaire business owner invites the up-and-comers to his estate for the weekend at his country home. Tennis; cocktails; dressing for dinner; romance. What could
Go wrong?


message 10: by Girard (new)

Girard Bowe | 56 comments I got it on Amazon last month, and looks like it's still $2.99. While not a book I'd have picked for this group, it was an enjoyable read. The ending, not to spoil it too much, put me in mind of Total Recall. Maybe we can put another Fredric Brown on the list for later, perhaps His Name Was Death, one of 2 published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, the other being The Far Cry.


message 11: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Girard wrote: ".Maybe we can put another Fredric Brown on the list for later, perhaps His Name Was Death, one of 2 published by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, the other being The Far Cry. "

I'm thinking The Fabulous Clipjoint is going to show up in one of our polls sooner, rather than later.


message 12: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 167 comments I got it for $2.99, although if this was one of those e-texts which used to be free on Munsey's, I resent the charge.

I liked the "Arcturian agent"- we just read A Voyage to Arcturus for another group (only I didn't actually read it... yet..)


message 13: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new)

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 574 comments Mod
I'm back from holiday, and I'm glad to notice Fredric Brown won the poll. What Mad Universe has elements of hardboiled investigation in the story, not only SF. I already read it, but I look forward to the discussion.


message 14: by Dennis (new)

Dennis | 35 comments Every science fiction fan should read Fredric Brown . Especially his short stories. You can purchase two megapacks from amazon for 55 and 99 cents each. Great deal! And don't forget his mysteries , they're great too.


message 15: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments I'm about half way through and am hooked. Sort of reminding me of The Twilight Zone and the classic 50s sci-fi films.


message 16: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I can see that, Frank. You have the lone man put into an unexplainable situation.


message 17: by Girard (new)

Girard Bowe | 56 comments Then that connects with North by Northwest, as well as the novels of Eric Ambler.


message 18: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments I've just started, and I hate it. It just feels so sterile and dated. Maybe I'll change my mind, but I might give up on this one - and I voted for it!


message 19: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Franky wrote: "I'm about half way through and am hooked. Sort of reminding me of The Twilight Zone and the classic 50s sci-fi films."

It's very Twilight Zonish, and lots of fun. I've got no idea how Keith is going to get out of this mess. I really need to set aside some time and just read straight through, though, instead of reading only on my lunch hour minutes at work.


message 20: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I understand about the dated feel. But that's what keeps me reading. I'm a sucker for B-Horror movies, and pulpy pulp.


message 21: by Geoff (new)

Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments Yeah - just a taste thing. I'm not anti-sci-fi. I thought Scalzi's 'Lock In' was a pretty good sci-fi noir crossover. but I tried a bit more WMU today, and no, it's just not doing it for me. I'm probably being unfair to it of course - looking forward to next month!


message 22: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments Geoff wrote: "Yeah - just a taste thing. I'm not anti-sci-fi. I thought Scalzi's 'Lock In' was a pretty good sci-fi noir crossover. but I tried a bit more WMU today, and no, it's just not doing it for me. I'm pr..."

It doesn't seem to have quite the zing that I hoped it would but I really appreciate the TZ aspects of his situation. I'm halfway done and am going to stick it out.


message 23: by Girard (new)

Girard Bowe | 56 comments I thought it was definitely worth the time. It's a pretty quick read, well-written, and like all good stories, makes you want to know what happens next. I thought the Mistout was pretty clever. However, if it's not doing it for you, it's OK for you to move on! There's too many books out there, and they're writing them faster than we can read 'em.


message 24: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Girard wrote: "I thought it was definitely worth the time. It's a pretty quick read, well-written, and like all good stories, makes you want to know what happens next. I thought the Mistout was pretty clever. How..."

I love your attitude, Girard.


message 25: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I just finished the book. I liked the premise; it was different than anything I've read before. Actually enjoyed it more than I thought i would.


message 26: by Dennis (new)

Dennis | 35 comments Dated? Yes. So are the novels of H. G. Wells. I just pretend they take place in a parallel universe . Problem solved.


message 27: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
This line from when Keith was in the hotel picking out books caught my eye:

He picked The Story of Dopelle, and wasn't even surprised to notice that it had been written by Paul Gallico.

Since Gallico wrote one of my favorite childhood books - The Poseidon Adventure - I was curious about this reference. I know Gallico was a pretty prolific writer. Was it a tribute? An inside joke?

I can't seem to find anything about the two authors having a friendship, though they would have been contemporaries. Just wondering . . .


message 28: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments Finished it last night and really enjoyed it. I have a lot of thoughts about the book.

I also liked how Keith had to do some investigating and researching to try to figure out his time and place, and that reference to Gallico and Wells were interesting bits. I would like to research them myself now.


message 29: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence | 204 comments I'm only part of the way in, and i'm enjoying it, but the best term I can think to describe it is...campy.


message 30: by Girard (new)

Girard Bowe | 56 comments It is a bit campy, but that's by design, as WMU is partly a send-up of sf conventions. That's why you see references to BEMs and lurid magazine covers. It didn't detract from my enjoyment, but I can see why it might for others. The main thing is you're enjoying it!


message 31: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
What a fun book this was! I particularly liked that (view spoiler)

I'm glad I ponied up the buck fifty for two collections of the author's short stories.


message 32: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments Melki wrote: "What a fun book this was! I particularly liked that [spoilers removed]."

That is a good one.

I finished it last night. I expected a a little more tongue-in-cheek humor that I read into the book. In the example you cited, I question whether that was intentional or was Brown's imagination seriously limited to teleporting spaceships, BAMs and shiny bras.


message 33: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Tom wrote: ". . . and shiny bras."

I'm sure the bras occupied a lot of the author's gray matter.


message 34: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 167 comments It's not over 'til Brunhilde takes the stage:



(This post is a filibuster. I've only read one chapter so far.)


message 35: by Sara (new)

Sara (saraelizabeth11) | 49 comments Lawrence wrote: "I'm only part of the way in, and i'm enjoying it, but the best term I can think to describe it is...campy."

Marvelously campy! But I've just started...


message 36: by Lawrence (last edited Jul 17, 2018 01:59PM) (new)

Lawrence | 204 comments Christopher wrote: "It's not over 'til Brunhilde takes the stage

Did Richard Wagner write any Pulp fiction (HA!)

OR

is there any pulp fiction centered around the opera?


message 37: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments Lawrence wrote: "is there any pulp fiction centered around the opera? "

There must be. Brunhilde has a shiny bra.


message 38: by Dennis (new)

Dennis | 35 comments There were a lot of scantily clad ladies wearing brass bras on the covers of sf magazines when this book was written. Usually having their virtue threatened by a BEM.


message 39: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
If I end up on an alternate universe, I really hope the men aren't all wearing this:

description


message 40: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments Melki, it would be just our luck.


message 41: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments Thanks Melki, I'm going to just try to delete that image from my memory bank.

Over all, I thought this was a fun book. I don't mind campy if it is handled the right way, and I think there is a nice blend of sci-fi/fantasy/humor. Very pulp. I even have gone back and watched a few 50s sci fi films. I watched "It Came From Outer Space" last night.

I want to find some more reads like this now. I went ahead and purchased The Fabulous Clip Joint, since it was so cheap on Kindle. Maybe I'll look into Brown's stories, too.


message 42: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 443 comments Melki wrote: "If I end up on an alternate universe, I really hope the men aren't all wearing this:
"


LOL! Zardoz was a lot of fun. I think I watched it again a year or two ago.


message 43: by Sara (new)

Sara (saraelizabeth11) | 49 comments Melki wrote: "This month's poll was, well, to put it bluntly - not very popular. Guess most of our members prefer their pulps to be of a criminal nature. But, I know at least one guy in our group who is reading ..."

The poll may not have been popular, but the book gets raves from me! Now, that's some Pulp! Fantastic-silly-cheezy-campy and well paced, just the right length (short)--This is the pulpiest of the pulps we've read since I started reading with y'all. I loved it. Bring on more like this! And thanks much. I'd never have run across What Mad Universe without y'all.


message 44: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments I've noticed a couple things about book polls:

1. The first book listed usually gets the most votes

2. Many of the people who vote for the books, don't read the books.

3. I find many wonderful gems that I've never heard of because of these polls, this book being one of them. I look through the other books on the poll and put them on my to-be-read list, too.

4. Sometimes the book I think I would never like becomes a book I can either enjoy, or at least find something unique about it.


message 45: by Franky (new)

Franky | 412 comments Patty wrote: "I've noticed a couple things about book polls:

1. The first book listed usually gets the most votes

2. Many of the people who vote for the books, don't read the books.

3. I find many wonderful ..."


Well stated. I agree about checking out all the titles and reading up on them. I've found some real gems on the titles that don't get selected. And sometimes the one I don't vote for is better than the one I do vote for.


message 46: by Lawrence (new)

Lawrence | 204 comments Patty wrote: "I've noticed a couple things about book polls:

1. The first book listed usually gets the most votes

2. Many of the people who vote for the books, don't read the books.

3. I find many wonderful ..."


I agree with this also. On point number three, the idea of "The Winter of Frankie Machine" didn't move me, so I voted for another book. Because i'm a trooper and feel an obligation to the group, being the poll winner, I read it anyway. I'm very glad I did!


message 47: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews | 404 comments On point number one, doesn't GR randomize the order of the titles in a poll? I've gone to the same poll twice and have seen my favorite in different places.


message 48: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new)

Melki | 881 comments Mod
Tom wrote: "On point number one, doesn't GR randomize the order of the titles in a poll? I've gone to the same poll twice and have seen my favorite in different places."

When I set up the polls, I check the box to have the titles appear randomly. The one with the most votes automatically rises to the top of the list.


message 49: by Patty (new)

Patty | 53 comments Maybe this was just the last poll I did. There were several book categories to vote on in the poll. Every book that was listed first in each category was the one that was leading the poll in that category. If that was a coincidence, that was quite the coincidence.


message 50: by AndrewP (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 85 comments Melki wrote: "When I set up the polls, I check the box to have the titles appear randomly. The one with the most votes automatically rises to the top of the list. ."

If you hide the results until the poll ends that doesn't happen.


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