The award-winning author and Ezra Klein discuss A.I. suffering, free will, Superman’s failures and more.
On September 11, 1973, a military junta violently took control of Chile, which was led at the time by President Salvador Allende. Allende had become president in a free and democratic election. After the military coup, General Augusto Pinochet took power and ruled Chile as a dictator until 1990.
The military regime dissolved the congress, took control of the media and went about dismantling the socialist and democratic institutions that Allende’s government had built.
In the midst of this takeover, the military discovered a strange room in a nondescript office building in downtown Santiago. The room was hexagonal in shape with seven white fiberglass chairs arranged in an inward facing circle.
This “operations room” (or: opsroom) was the physical interface for a complex system called Cybersyn. It was an ambitious project in technology and design meant to help Chile’s socialist economy succeed.
Our colleagues at the TED Radio Hour introduce us to wildlife filmmaker Ariel Waldman. She says the coldest continent is brimming with invisible life that can only be seen through microscopes, including tardigrades (one of Maddie’s favorite critters).
An absolute stoater! A Great Session = ‘The maximum fun possible, every night!’ From Dundalk to Belfast, and finding freedom in Edinburgh. Hamish Henderson and the wild nights in Sandy Bell’s. Mike One-Shirt and Luke Plumb; Deaf Shepherd and the great encouragers like Cathal McConnell. The consolations of music. House sessions in Venice Beach, meeting the daughter of the man who wrote Thíos Cois na Trá, and so much more. Awesome.
Country Sligo in the ’50s and ’60s, to London then Sydney. Father, mother
and uncle playing the fiddle, learning at country house dances and ‘having
a go myself.’ Ceili House on Radio Athlone, and looking forward to Friday
night house dances. Falling in love with the accordion. Listening to the
greats of the London scene; learning the box, digging trenches and
labouring; Kentish Town and Holloway Road.
You will be surprised at the variety of food in medieval Ireland (if you had the money). This show also looks at the strange, lethal and somewhat scary world of takeaway food in medieval Ireland.
Audrey Niffenegger discusses her bestselling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife with James Naughtie.
It’s a romantic story about a man - Henry - with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage to Clare.
The book opens when they meet in a Chicago library, and they both understand that he is a time traveller. But Clare knows much more than this about him as he has not yet been to the times and places where they have met before, and she remembers him from when she was just six years old.
He falls in love with her, as she has already with him, but his continuing unavoidable absences time travelling - and then returning with increasing knowledge of their future - makes things ever more difficult for Clare.
Audrey Niffenegger explains how she created a set of rules for the book, such as there would be no sex between the couple before Clare reaches 18; and how Henry’s disorder is genetic rather than magical, meaning that when he time travels he arrives naked and with no money or useful possessions.
She also talks about the morality of her tale - the consequences of Henry’s criminal behaviour, and how she dealt with a male character who effectively moulds the character of Clare as she grows up.
Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House in London, Bookclub with Audrey Niffenegger includes questions from the studio audience.
Michael Chabon talks about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay with James Naughtie and a group of readers.
The novel follows the story of the teenage Josef Kavalier, who makes a daring escape from the Germans in Prague in 1939, leaving his family behind. He travels across Europe and eventually arrives at his cousin Samuel Clayman’s house in Brooklyn. There the pair discover a shared love of the burgeoning comic book world of Superheroes - Joe Kavalier is the artist, and Sam Clay, as he becomes, is the writer.
Together they create a hero of their own, The Escapist, a Houdini-type figure who fights the Nazis, frees the enslaved and leads them home. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2001.
Margaret Atwood discusses her dystopian masterpiece The Handmaid’s Tale with James Naughtie and a group of readers. This edition celebrates Bookclub’s 20th anniversary and includes contributions from former alumni of Bookclub such as Ali Smith, Eimear McBride and Evie Wyld; as well as the reading group made up of Radio 4 listeners.
Thirty three years ago, Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale, a novel about a futuristic America, which following a major ecological disaster, is ruled by a brutal, misogynistic Christian theocracy called Gilead. In 2017 The Handmaid’s Tale became a television series, going on to win eight Emmies. It followed the book closely, telling the tale of a society in which women are subjugated and not allowed to work or read, and valued only for their fecundity. The book has now found a new readership amongst a younger generation.
The Handmaids - most prominently a woman called Offred, the narrator of the novel, are the few fertile women, who are assigned to the homes of married male rulers, and compelled to endure rape at their hands in the name of procreation.
Margaret Atwood, who is one of the most celebrated novelists writing in English today, meets an invited audience of Radio 4 listeners, including sixth-formers and university students, to discuss the Handmaid’s Tale.
Richard Holmes talks about The Age of Wonder, his non-fiction account of the Romantic age, as scientific and artistic thinking began to diverge.
In the book he describes the scientific ferment that swept through Britain in the late-18th century and tells the stories of the celebrated innovators and their great scientific discoveries: from telescopic sight and the discovery of Uranus to Humphrey Davy’s invention of the miner’s safety lamp, and from the first balloon flight to African exploration.
Holmes has also written biographies of the poets Coleridge and Shelley and he explains how The Romantics didn’t believe in the modern idea that the arts and sciences are two cultures dividing us. The chemist Humphrey Davy wrote poetry and was good friends with Coleridge and they inhaled nitrous oxide gas together as part of Davy’s experiments on its properties.
Presented by James Naughtie and including questions from an audience of readers.