Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Russell Nash on September 11, 2008, 04:24:37 PM



Title: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Russell Nash on September 11, 2008, 04:24:37 PM
EP175: Reparations (http://escapepod.org/2008/09/11/ep175-reparations/)

By Merrie Haskell (http://www.merriehaskell.com/).
Read by Mary Robinette Kowal. (http://www.maryrobinettekowal.com/)

Audible.com Promotion!
Get your free audiobook at: http://audible.com/escapepodsff (http://audible.com/escapepodsff)

I just swab my arm and administer the cocktail, a booster for my radiation immunization. The taste of brass fills my mouth in seconds, and I know that the cocktail has flooded my system. With this stuff burbling inside, I can stare down three sieverts without blinking, or, more importantly, losing my immune system, teeth, hair, and intestines.

When I finish with my dose, I grab the skin on the newbie’s arm, swab her and shoot her up, too. “Ow!” She jumps and rubs her arm. I watch carefully to see her smack her lips at the taste. “You could’ve warned me.”

“No time,” I say, doctoring Ken and the others just as abruptly. We’re pressed, and they know it.

We’re all nice and anodized on the inside at 8:12. We’re waiting for 8:16, or thereabouts. There aren’t any atomic clocks in 1945, so all times are approximate, internally speaking. And from here on in, there’s no point speaking any other way.


Rated PG. Contains mass destruction and graphic descriptions of the wounded.


(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif)
Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://media.rawvoice.com/escapepod/media.libsyn.com/media/escapepod/EP175_Reparations.mp3)


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: alllie on September 11, 2008, 09:04:57 PM
I want to know the rest of the story. I want to know how she ended up with the kid and the old man. I want to know how it all ended and if she made it back safely with them.

Maybe it is better that I have to make it up myself. Except I still want to know. It’s like a splinter.

Tell me this is just part of a larger work that I can go read.

Nice narration too.
 :'(


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Darwinist on September 12, 2008, 09:16:44 AM
I liked this one.  Yeah, it was short and the story could've been fleshed out more but it fit the mood of the day and was well told.   Nicely done.

I remember seeing in a college physics class many years ago a film shot not long after the bombs dropped in Japan.  Can't remember if it was Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  The graphic scenes of destruction and of the helpless survivors were shocking and horrifying.  Not sure why the prof showed it to us.   It was the only time I was ever physically ill after watching a movie.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Anarkey on September 12, 2008, 09:59:19 AM
I loved this story on (the now sadly defunct) Fortean Bureau and I still love it.  I'm so glad Escape Pod chose to run it.  Nice reading by Kowal. 

I suspect many people here think I'm a cold-hearted bitch because I thought Edward Bear was sentimental bs, and instead of making me cry Resnick stories usually make me roll my eyes and mutter "oh, please", but this story right here, this one, gets me on an emotional gut level.  Properly sad and beautifully told and emotionally true and so satisfying.  Catharsis, thy name is Merrie Haskell. 

I loved Haskell's other Escape Pod offering too:  One Million Years B.F.E. (http://escapepod.org/2006/02/14/ep-flash-one-million-years-bfe/), and between it and the Eekhout (http://escapepod.org/2005/06/20/ep-flash-airedale/) story (http://escapepod.org/2005/08/30/ep-flash-pennywhiste/) grenades (http://escapepod.org/2005/07/24/ep-flash-virus/) I was convinced of flash as a form and those, in part, provided impetus and inspiration for me to participate in the flash contest.

Anyway, because I pimped E. Bear's other wonderful stories so hard when "Tideline" ran, I should also point out that Merrie Haskell has another awesome story available online (I hope  hope hope it's the one PodCastle bought, but I dunno if it is or not): "Rampion in the Belltower" (http://www.les-bonnes-fees.com/rampioninthebelltower_1.html). Because even fairy tale retellings are better with zombies.
 


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 11:03:30 AM
Meh.

The reading was very, very good.  The premise was great.  I just felt like it lacked something.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Void Munashii on September 12, 2008, 12:13:21 PM
  A good, but very heavy story.

  As has already been said, I would have liked to have known more about the boy and the old man. there's not much suspense regarding the protagonist since she obvioulsy does not get into enough trouble to bar her from future trips for her little stunt since her future self was there to switch places with her in the first place.

  I wonder why, if time travel is possible, no one just goes back and sabatoges the bombs or something. Too much of a paradox risk, or perhaps just the knowledge that the government would have kept on trying until they succeeded anyway?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Anarkey on September 12, 2008, 12:44:44 PM
As has already been said, I would have liked to have known more about the boy and the old man. there's not much suspense regarding the protagonist since she obvioulsy does not get into enough trouble to bar her from future trips for her little stunt since her future self was there to switch places with her in the first place.

I don't believe this interpretation of the story is correct.  The self that gets stranded is today's self, not a future self.  She knows she didn't make her link today, hence she goes to the same pick up spot, so that her stranded self (if her today's self is compassionate enough) will cede her place in the pickup.  Today's self is then stranded for two days again, in a recursive loop.  I think we can safely assume she's in a shitload of hot water for bringing back the extra 2 locals that the tech won't count.

Quote
  I wonder why, if time travel is possible, no one just goes back and sabatoges the bombs or something. Too much of a paradox risk, or perhaps just the knowledge that the government would have kept on trying until they succeeded anyway?

Undoing the event isn't reparations.  Although there's probably another story waiting in your ideas.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 12:47:30 PM
  I wonder why, if time travel is possible, no one just goes back and sabatoges the bombs or something. Too much of a paradox risk, or perhaps just the knowledge that the government would have kept on trying until they succeeded anyway?
[/quote

Maybe it had been tried and the results were worse, so they had to go back and stop themselves from stopping the bombings.  

And then maybe someone else gained control of the time machine and stopped them from stopping themselves from stopping the bombings and found out that it was a mistake to stop the bombings, so they had to then stop themselves from stopping the orriginal attempt to stop the people from stopping the bombings.

I figured out what my problem was with the story.  I knew what the safe zones were, and that they were coming again and again to the same moment in time.  What would the outcome be of all the stories that people told of the events?  When they describe the same people all over the city helping the injured, what kind of reaction comes?  It is that unanswered question that got me.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 12:50:25 PM

I don't believe this interpretation of the story is correct.  The self that gets stranded is today's self, not a future self.  She knows she didn't make her link today, hence she goes to the same pick up spot, so that her stranded self (if her today's self is compassionate enough) will cede her place in the pickup.  Today's self is then stranded for two days again, in a recursive loop.  I think we can safely assume she's in a shitload of hot water for bringing back the extra 2 locals that the tech won't count.


Yes, why would they let her go back?  I understand how she gets back to the future, but wouldn't she be pulled from the team?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 12, 2008, 12:56:23 PM
As has already been said, I would have liked to have known more about the boy and the old man. there's not much suspense regarding the protagonist since she obvioulsy does not get into enough trouble to bar her from future trips for her little stunt since her future self was there to switch places with her in the first place.

I don't believe this interpretation of the story is correct.  The self that gets stranded is today's self, not a future self.  She knows she didn't make her link today, hence she goes to the same pick up spot, so that her stranded self (if her today's self is compassionate enough) will cede her place in the pickup.  Today's self is then stranded for two days again, in a recursive loop.  I think we can safely assume she's in a shitload of hot water for bringing back the extra 2 locals that the tech won't count.
All iterations of her arrive in Japan at T0. They leave at T1, which is in the evening of that day. It is at this time that the substitution happens. The emergency pickup is at T2, two days later. After T1 is past and the switch has been made, she has no way of going back in time to be that future person. She has to wait until T2; otherwise, why mention that they have to be on time for the portal back, rather than just saying "oh, you can use your personal time dohicky to go back and make it"? Therefore, she has to wait until T2, get picked up and go back to the future then, so that she could have been sent back (once again) to T0.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Darwinist on September 12, 2008, 02:36:19 PM
All iterations of her arrive in Japan at T0. They leave at T1, which is in the evening of that day. It is at this time that the substitution happens. The emergency pickup is at T2, two days later. After T1 is past and the switch has been made, she has no way of going back in time to be that future person. She has to wait until T2; otherwise, why mention that they have to be on time for the portal back, rather than just saying "oh, you can use your personal time dohicky to go back and make it"? Therefore, she has to wait until T2, get picked up and go back to the future then, so that she could have been sent back (once again) to T0.

My head just exploded.  :o


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 02:59:06 PM
As has already been said, I would have liked to have known more about the boy and the old man. there's not much suspense regarding the protagonist since she obvioulsy does not get into enough trouble to bar her from future trips for her little stunt since her future self was there to switch places with her in the first place.

I don't believe this interpretation of the story is correct.  The self that gets stranded is today's self, not a future self.  She knows she didn't make her link today, hence she goes to the same pick up spot, so that her stranded self (if her today's self is compassionate enough) will cede her place in the pickup.  Today's self is then stranded for two days again, in a recursive loop.  I think we can safely assume she's in a shitload of hot water for bringing back the extra 2 locals that the tech won't count.
All iterations of her arrive in Japan at T0. They leave at T1, which is in the evening of that day. It is at this time that the substitution happens. The emergency pickup is at T2, two days later. After T1 is past and the switch has been made, she has no way of going back in time to be that future person. She has to wait until T2; otherwise, why mention that they have to be on time for the portal back, rather than just saying "oh, you can use your personal time dohicky to go back and make it"? Therefore, she has to wait until T2, get picked up and go back to the future then, so that she could have been sent back (once again) to T0.

That takes care of the extraction, but what about her return?  Do they just let her go back, knowing she's going to break the rules? 

She has been going back for 40 days now.  So you could label her point of origin as P40 and her as Dr40.  Obviously, the injured edition of herself is from P>40.  Dr>40 returns to P40+.  But in order for Dr>40 to make it to T0, Dr40 has to return to P>40<PDr>40

Get it?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 03:41:42 PM
This is the fix of an earlier post, don't know what the problem is:

Maybe it had been tried and the results were worse, so they had to go back and stop themselves from stopping the bombings.  

And then maybe someone else gained control of the time machine and stopped them from stopping themselves from stopping the bombings and found out that it was a mistake to stop the bombings, so they had to then stop themselves from stopping the orriginal attempt to stop the people from stopping the bombings.

I figured out what my problem was with the story.  I knew what the safe zones were, and that they were coming again and again to the same moment in time.  What would the outcome be of all the stories that people told of the events?  When they describe the same people all over the city helping the injured, what kind of reaction comes?  It is that unanswered question that got me.


This is what my earlier post should have looked like.  I typed my post inside the quote, I am a goober


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Darwinist on September 12, 2008, 03:42:57 PM

She has been going back for 40 days now.  So you could label her point of origin as P40 and her as Dr40.  Obviously, the injured edition of herself is from P>40.  Dr>40 returns to P40+.  But in order for Dr>40 to make it to T0, Dr40 has to return to P>40<PDr>40

The remainder of my corpse spontaneously combusted.  :'(


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Anarkey on September 12, 2008, 04:59:50 PM
All iterations of her arrive in Japan at T0. They leave at T1, which is in the evening of that day. It is at this time that the substitution happens. The emergency pickup is at T2, two days later. After T1 is past and the switch has been made, she has no way of going back in time to be that future person. She has to wait until T2; otherwise, why mention that they have to be on time for the portal back, rather than just saying "oh, you can use your personal time dohicky to go back and make it"? Therefore, she has to wait until T2, get picked up and go back to the future then, so that she could have been sent back (once again) to T0.

Right, except there's an already future Laura-who-missed-her-pickup going back at today's T1, so the current Laura doesn't have to be rescued at all to be sent back again next week and break the rules, the future her can do that, leaving the current one stranded.  So the questions are: will they send future her back even though she's contravened policy because they have to, because it's 'already happened'? Will they pick up the stranded current her at T2 (and can they? The story casts a little doubt on the viability of the emergency pickup, though I think we're meant to think it's possible) or is the penalty for 'crossing the streams' leaving the current version of her in 1945 to die of radiation poisoning?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 12, 2008, 09:24:15 PM
The problem is that somehow, Dr>40 has to get to T0.  Unless the fact that she took Dr40's return trip is already a paradox. 

Steve should have put a warning on this episode to watch out for exploding body parts.  I don't think Darwinism is the only victim of this thread.   :o




Oh, and off topic, my wife never knew about the "crossing the streams" joke until after I explained it to her last year.   ::)


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Void Munashii on September 12, 2008, 11:22:36 PM
Right, except there's an already future Laura-who-missed-her-pickup going back at today's T1, so the current Laura doesn't have to be rescued at all to be sent back again next week and break the rules, the future her can do that, leaving the current one stranded.  So the questions are: will they send future her back even though she's contravened policy because they have to, because it's 'already happened'? Will they pick up the stranded current her at T2 (and can they? The story casts a little doubt on the viability of the emergency pickup, though I think we're meant to think it's possible) or is the penalty for 'crossing the streams' leaving the current version of her in 1945 to die of radiation poisoning?

  Of course they send her through again in the future, they have to because they already did as evidenced by injured Laura's existence. Injured Laura remembers being present Laura, and swapping places with the injured Laura that she encountered. To not let present Laura become injured Laura would create a paradox. That said, they may not let injured Laura go back after that since the chance of paradox is then over. They canot undo what they already will have done at a time some distance in the future anymore than the character in a book could cause a change to the end of the book, it's already written.

  I think Arnold Rimmer summed it up best:

"It will be happened; it shall be going to be happening; it will be was an event that could will have been taken place in the future.  Simple as that."


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 13, 2008, 09:06:09 AM
All iterations of her arrive in Japan at T0. They leave at T1, which is in the evening of that day. It is at this time that the substitution happens. The emergency pickup is at T2, two days later. After T1 is past and the switch has been made, she has no way of going back in time to be that future person. She has to wait until T2; otherwise, why mention that they have to be on time for the portal back, rather than just saying "oh, you can use your personal time dohicky to go back and make it"? Therefore, she has to wait until T2, get picked up and go back to the future then, so that she could have been sent back (once again) to T0.
Right, except there's an already future Laura-who-missed-her-pickup going back at today's T1,
For each iteration, there is a drop-off time and a pick-up time, which may be different for each time, just as the place is different. It's possible that she missed her designated pick-up but still had time to get to the one she actually made. It's also possible that she never even tried to make the pick-up she was supposed to, and headed straight for the one where she knew the tech would let the wrong people through.
so the current Laura doesn't have to be rescued at all to be sent back again next week and break the rules, the future her can do that, leaving the current one stranded.
If she doesn't get rescued, there'll never be a future Laura for her to switch places with; she'll just die in 20th Century Japan and never travel through time again.
So the questions are: will they send future her back even though she's contravened policy because they have to, because it's 'already happened'?
Unknown.
Will they pick up the stranded current her at T2
Yes; if they don't, the future her won't be there to go back in time.
(and can they? The story casts a little doubt on the viability of the emergency pickup, though I think we're meant to think it's possible)
Yes they can. The story makes it abundantly clear that she has to be picked up for the future her to exist to be sent back and to meet her.
or is the penalty for 'crossing the streams' leaving the current version of her in 1945 to die of radiation poisoning?
No.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Anarkey on September 13, 2008, 09:24:06 AM
Wintermute -

I believe you are assuming that the current Laura must be pulled back so that the future Laura can go back again, but since future Laura is picked up as today's Laura, and is going back into her own future past (the day she was sent), current Laura does not have to be picked up.  The premise of the story is that there can be more than one iteration (otherwise how do they speak to one another), so today's Laura CAN be left to die without affecting future (now also current) Laura's ability to go back and waylay her.  If future Laura goes back in current Laura's place, current Laura is an extra Laura.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: alllie on September 13, 2008, 01:38:17 PM
This all reminds me of Everyone Kills Hitler On their First Time Trip (http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html) which is about a forum for time travelers who keep having to fix things that new time travelers do.


International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum Subforum: Europe – Twentieth Century – Second World War
    Page 263
11/15/2104
At 14:52:28, FreedomFighter69 wrote:
Reporting my first temporal excursion since joining IATT: have just returned from 1936 Berlin, having taken the place of one of Leni Riefenstahl's cameramen and assassinated Adolf Hitler during the opening of the Olympic Games. Let a free world rejoice!

At 14:57:44, SilverFox316 wrote:
Back from 1936 Berlin; incapacitated FreedomFighter69 before he could pull his little stunt. Freedomfighter69, as you are a new member, please read IATT Bulletin 1147 regarding the killing of Hitler before your next excursion. Failure to do so may result in your expulsion per Bylaw 223.

At 18:06:59, BigChill wrote:
Take it easy on the kid, SilverFox316; everybody kills Hitler on their first trip. I did. It always gets fixed within a few minutes, what's the harm?

At 18:33:10, SilverFox316 wrote:
Easy for you to say, BigChill, since to my recollection ...


You should read the rest if you haven't already. It's Desmond Warzel's Wikihistory (http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html). It would make a nice flash.

It's a pretty famous piece. And pretty funny.

But it does illustrate some of the problems with time travel, including killing yourself by killing your ancestor.

But back to this story, it was my interpretation that it was the same timeline for both nuns, if they were actually nuns. The first one lets herself who is 2 days older, go in her place. As a result she goes into the city during that two days, is burned somehow and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her two-days younger self who then has to stay two days and goes into the city and gets burned and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her 2 days younger self who then goes into the city...
EDIT: Now that I think about this more I think it couldn't work. But just illustrates how confusing time paradoxes can get.

I think I'm getting a headache.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: bolddeceiver on September 14, 2008, 02:24:11 AM
My head just exploded.  :o

Have you seen Primer?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Darwinist on September 14, 2008, 09:08:08 AM
My head just exploded.  :o

Have you seen Primer?

I have not.  Just read about it on Wikipedia, though, and will add to my Netflix list.  Sounds cool.  I love time travel books also. 


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: bolddeceiver on September 14, 2008, 11:12:39 AM
Wintermute -

I believe you are assuming that the current Laura must be pulled back so that the future Laura can go back again, but since future Laura is picked up as today's Laura, and is going back into her own future past (the day she was sent), current Laura does not have to be picked up.  The premise of the story is that there can be more than one iteration (otherwise how do they speak to one another), so today's Laura CAN be left to die without affecting future (now also current) Laura's ability to go back and waylay her.  If future Laura goes back in current Laura's place, current Laura is an extra Laura.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this create a loop?  If so, this creates major problems with the arrow of time and the second law of thermodynamics.  Basically, if something starts looping in time, its age would "immediately" approach infinity.Obvious problem for living matter, as people age, but even with inanimate objects, like the Terminator arm, wear and tear means that it's not the same object when it gets into the loop again.

Say, for example, I recieve a book that my future self sent back in time by one day.  I very carefully, os as to cause as little wear and tear as possible, pick up that book and put it in the time machine the next day, and send it back one day.  That book, which I just carried to the time machine, is carried again, rpesumably held in exactly the same place by exactly the same hands, depositing exactly the same skin oils on the book, making exactly the same microabrasions on the cover; exactly the same ultraviolet light hits the paper, exactly the same atmospheric humidity soaks into the pages.  And then I put it in the machine AGAIN, repeat ad infinitum.  Heck, hundred-year-old books are usually not in great shape; this book is now older than the entire universe, and it happens the moment I close that loop!

---

That said, I enjoyed the story pretty well, though it was a concept piece; I was more interested about the issues raised of recieved guilt and how we remember horrific moments of our past than in any of the characters or events of the story.  I agree with the outro that the bombings are undertaught and under-thought-of, espescially in a world where the United States, the only country to actually use these weapons, is one of a small self-selected group of countries that claims to be exclusively able to posess nuclear weapons responsibly.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Anarkey on September 14, 2008, 11:30:10 AM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this create a loop?  If so, this creates major problems with the arrow of time and the second law of thermodynamics.  Basically, if something starts looping in time, its age would "immediately" approach infinity.Obvious problem for living matter, as people age, but even with inanimate objects, like the Terminator arm, wear and tear means that it's not the same object when it gets into the loop again.

No, I'd say you're right, or potentially right anyway.  I think it's a valid interpretation of the story to view the current Laura as sacrificial.  I also think it's a valid interpretation to view the current Laura as being rescued two days hence to restore balance to the Lauras having switched places.  And I also think it's a valid interpretation to have the time techs send future Laura back again to "fix" what the two Lauras broke when they switched.   These interpretations don't all work simultaneously, but I think there's room for each in its turn.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: alllie on September 14, 2008, 01:52:19 PM
I was more interested about the issues raised of recieved guilt and how we remember horrific moments of our past than in any of the characters or events of the story. 

I don't really believe in received guilt. I don't feel guilty for the Indians or the Japanese or anything that happened before I was born. I only feel guilty about Vietnam and Abu Graib and things that have happened that I have done nothing about, nothing but bitch a lot and march a little. Not enough to make any difference.

But while I don't feel guilt what I do feel is pity and empathy. Once we whip this world into shape and have a Star Trek type Utopia, I think going back to help those hurt in the past would be very satisfying, though, of course, you couldn't save someone and leave them there. You'd have to bring them back to not mess up the timeline. But Pompeii, the Mandans, the Trail of Tears, the invasion of the Philippines, the Rape of Nanking, and on and on. Instead of just saving the future we could save the past as well. That would be satisfying. At least to me.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: SFEley on September 14, 2008, 02:21:32 PM
You should read the rest if you haven't already. It's Desmond Warzel's Wikihistory (http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html). It would make a nice flash.

Holy cow, that IS good.  Good enough to make me push "resurrect EP flash" a notch or two higher up in my brainspace.  Thank you for the pointer, Alllie!


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: alllie on September 14, 2008, 03:15:34 PM
You should read the rest if you haven't already. It's Desmond Warzel's Wikihistory (http://www.abyssandapex.com/200710-wikihistory.html). It would make a nice flash.

Holy cow, that IS good.  Good enough to make me push "resurrect EP flash" a notch or two higher up in my brainspace.  Thank you for the pointer, Alllie!

Yeah, it's a really fun little piece. Fun to read especially if you hang out on forums and can recognize all the people in that forum.


And speaking of Hitler and Time Travel here is a funny cartoon. (http://www.viruscomix.com/obersalzberg.jpg)

http://www.viruscomix.com/obersalzberg.jpg


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 15, 2008, 07:43:43 AM
But back to this story, it was my interpretation that it was the same timeline for both nuns, if they were actually nuns. The first one lets herself who is 2 days older, go in her place. As a result she goes into the city during that two days, is burned somehow and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her two-days younger self who then has to stay two days and goes into the city and gets burned and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her 2 days younger self who then goes into the city...
EDIT: Now that I think about this more I think it couldn't work. But just illustrates how confusing time paradoxes can get.
So... she found a time machine lying around in 1945 Hiroshima? And it hadn't been destroyed by the nuclear blast? Seems like the kind of thing that would require an explicit mention, to me.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Listener on September 15, 2008, 07:51:51 AM
My head just exploded.  :o

Have you seen Primer?

I have not.  Just read about it on Wikipedia, though, and will add to my Netflix list.  Sounds cool.  I love time travel books also. 

If you thought the paradox in this story made your head asplode, Primer REALLY will. It's a great film.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Listener on September 15, 2008, 07:57:15 AM
Reading was skillful, although the shifting between dispassionate narration and "OMG I'm totally going to cry" narration was a little odd to me.

Not much else to say on this story, but the argument between forcing people to go back as community service vs. volunteers choosing to go back is an interesting one. I think that would be a good split-off topic -- compulsory service -- so I will not go into it here.

I would like to know more about the series of events that led up to the reparations thing. It doesn't surprise me; Americans are pretty guilt-ridden, and our country DID wipe two cities off the map.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: alllie on September 15, 2008, 11:00:18 AM
But back to this story, it was my interpretation that it was the same timeline for both nuns, if they were actually nuns. The first one lets herself who is 2 days older, go in her place. As a result she goes into the city during that two days, is burned somehow and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her two-days younger self who then has to stay two days and goes into the city and gets burned and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her 2 days younger self who then goes into the city...
EDIT: Now that I think about this more I think it couldn't work. But just illustrates how confusing time paradoxes can get.
So... she found a time machine lying around in 1945 Hiroshima? And it hadn't been destroyed by the nuclear blast? Seems like the kind of thing that would require an explicit mention, to me.

You're right. I did put an edit in acknowledging that wasn't possible. Though I still don't understand when the burned self came in. I thought she always came in at exactly the same time.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: stePH on September 15, 2008, 12:22:21 PM
But back to this story, it was my interpretation that it was the same timeline for both nuns, if they were actually nuns. The first one lets herself who is 2 days older, go in her place. As a result she goes into the city during that two days, is burned somehow and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her two-days younger self who then has to stay two days and goes into the city and gets burned and meets the old man and the kid and goes back to take the place of her 2 days younger self who then goes into the city...
EDIT: Now that I think about this more I think it couldn't work. But just illustrates how confusing time paradoxes can get.
So... she found a time machine lying around in 1945 Hiroshima? And it hadn't been destroyed by the nuclear blast? Seems like the kind of thing that would require an explicit mention, to me.

You're right. I did put an edit in acknowledging that wasn't possible. Though I still don't understand when the burned self came in. I thought she always came in at exactly the same time.

It makes perfect sense.  She meets herself twice, once from each point of view in the same encounter.  No recursive time loop need occur.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: stePH on September 15, 2008, 12:50:32 PM
It makes perfect sense.  She meets herself twice, once from each point of view in the same encounter.  No recursive time loop need occur.

... no, wait ... doesn't work.  Her self that is narrating the story proceeds forward in time from the point of meeting her burned future self, so howinhell does she return with the child and the old man back to the point in time where she meets her "past" self?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 15, 2008, 01:07:55 PM
It makes perfect sense.  She meets herself twice, once from each point of view in the same encounter.  No recursive time loop need occur.

... no, wait ... doesn't work.  Her self that is narrating the story proceeds forward in time from the point of meeting her burned future self, so howinhell does she return with the child and the old man back to the point in time where she meets her "past" self?
She makes the emergency pick up in two days, and goes back to 21st Century America. She goes on an unknown number of trips back to Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. On one of these trips, she meets the man and boy, and takes them to the pick up point where we meet them.

Seems fairly cut and dried to me.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: stePH on September 15, 2008, 01:31:08 PM
She makes the emergency pick up in two days, and goes back to 21st Century America. She goes on an unknown number of trips back to Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. On one of these trips, she meets the man and boy, and takes them to the pick up point where we meet them.

Seems fairly cut and dried to me.

Yeah, that works.  And there's still no need to get caught in a loop, which was the point I was trying to make.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Ocicat on September 15, 2008, 02:33:22 PM
Liked the story - rare for me on a time travel piece.  Yes, the mechanics of it make my head hurt as usual, but this time around it was mostly in a good way.  There was no obvious violation of internal self consistency.  Or at least not enough to get in the way of the character story, which was rather good. I am a bit of a sucker for stories about Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and Dresden for that matter.  I know my history here, and think it's a critical place to revisit and examine.  We should never forget what we, as a country, have done.



Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on September 15, 2008, 05:00:10 PM
Ok, brining up my question again, now that I've relistened to the story.

The old woman saw Laura's "sister" and remarked on it.  What happens in a week, a month or a year when all the survivors tell their stories and the same nuns appear everywhere in the city at the same time?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Cerebrilith on September 15, 2008, 07:43:54 PM
I enjoyed this story very much.  Good choice for the date, well written, and well read.  All around good experience.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: slic on September 15, 2008, 11:07:15 PM
Wow.
My fingers have hovered over the keys for a little while trying to think of something more worthy to describe how great I thought the story was.  Can't.
I should just quote Anarkey's first post in regards to Mr. Resnick's stories and how this one struck me emotionally because she read my mind on that.

I usually have real trouble with time travel stories for most of the reasons stated by others.  However, similar to "12 Monkeys", the time travel was glossed over and it really didn't matter how, it was just part of the fabric of the story.

Of course, as much as the story impacted me, I'll admit my nit-picking cold-hearted logic brain kicked in about 5 minutes after listening with the same thought as Zathras voiced - there'd be 40 identical versions of Laura around the city.  Then my reality editing ability took over and changed the number in the story from 40 to 7, and I felt better.  Then my logic brain proposed a new interpretation which returned reality back to it's former self - consider the following points
a) there were two cities, she could have worked at both, so the 40 drops to 20,
b) the "zones" she visited could have lots of space between them so as a rule the most some person might notice is twins, and
c) that's assuming that any survivor is going to notice, remember or care that they saw some gai-jin that looked like some other gai-jin when their entire world was destroyed in hellfire,
c-part 2) even if there was an official noting of this, they would likely write it off to the "strained brain" of the survivors, and finally
d) it was noted a few times that people rarely came back, so Laura was an anomoly (and, of course, the story writing part of my brain took over for a bit and added that there was normally a cap of 10 trips, but Laura was some high-up mucky-muck's daughter and she was a major exception).
This made me feel even better because I hate having to edit reality - leads to all sorts of trouble, believe me.


After reading the time travel logic debate, I just wish I had my own time machine so I could go back and listen to the story sooner so I could throw in my theory in a timely fashion - but here it goes anyway:
Laura40 can't possibly find the boy in the next two days because he's gone, so simple physics dictates that she returns to Aug 6th at least one more time in some fashion (perhaps illegally) becoming Laura41. Arguebly this is done without her meds (clandestinely could result in that), and arguably she returns near the zone of Laura40.  Once she (Laura41) discovers the boy and the old man, they start walking to Laura40's zone (they have many hours to do this) - Laura41 suffers from radiation sickness, etc (this is why it has to be without meds) hence the loss of hair.
Laura41 leaves on Aug 6th, while Laura40 has to wait two days to go home.  The beauty of time travel is that it could be months or years before Laura40 becomes Laura41 - in fact Laura40 could learn where she "finds" the boy from the boy himself before going back.  The story clearly indicated that multiple "versions" can exist in the same time area without immediate reprecussions.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Chivalrybean on September 15, 2008, 11:53:23 PM
I decided not to read too much of the time travel comments here before bed {:0P

I enjoyed the story, and it all made sense, right up to the end. Maybe I was just expecting one thing and got another. I know she broke to save the people, but was there a specific reason to save THEM? Obviously, saving them to save them is a good enough reason, but I felt like I missed something.



Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 09:35:28 AM
Awful, horrible and insulting.  Worst Escape Pod ever by far.

The main character is a jerk.  She doesn’t want to train “the newbie”, so I assume the main character was never a newbie and never made mistakes.  But, oh wait, she forgets a vital piece of equipment.  Training newcomers can be a challenge, but it is also an honor.  Stopping whining about it.

The newbie, though, is a doctor, the result of months of training and no doubt a rigorous selection process…and she’s an airhead.  Unbelievable and clichéd.

But the title is insulting.  I’d be ok with a title like “Mercy” about a future philanthropist sending aid to past World War II tragedies—Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hong Kong, Nanking, Dresden—or if a Japanese team going to Nanking had been mentioned where EVERYONE is trying to make up for suffering that was caused.  But “reparations” has a specific meaning.  This story suggests America sends back aid either because they are forced to, or out of a sense of guilt to make up for an injustice or wrong, namely the bombing of the two cities.  Such Western guilt is useless and sickens me.

Let’s be clear: The bombs were used in a time of war against military targets.  No doubt it was horrific.  No doubt civilians were killed.  But as Steve urges listeners to learn about Hiroshima & Nagasaki, also learn about Nanking, Bataan, the attack on Hong Kong, and treatment of POWs by the Japanese.  Also look at the alternative: an invasion of the Japanese isles, which would have killed many more civilians as well as allied forces (But oh wait, we are dealing with Western guilt, so the death of allied soldiers is OK because they are an extension of imperial ambitious and the military/industrial complex, right?).  It turns my stomach when we in the West look at our history and feel bad when you do not look a the larger context.  (Example: Yes, Europeans bought slaves in Africa, but it was other Africans who sold them -- plenty of blame to go around regarding the slave trade.)

The line “every American should do this” (or something like that, I refuse to listen again to get the quote exact) is a slap in the face.  Then every Japanese should suffer through the Rape of Nanking, and every Muslim who cheered as the Twin Towers fell or believe the Jews were behind the attacks should be in the buildings as they fell, and every German should live in a concentration camp.  It useless, politically-correct BS.  Many of the men involved in developing and dropping the bomb, and making all of the decisions along the way, suffered horrible guilt, and understandably so, but it was the right decision to end the war.

I will never read another story by Ms. Haskell, not buy a magazine or anthology with her in it, and delete unlistened anymore Escape Pods by her.  I am so insulted, I might even stop listening to Escape Pod if Steve feels this type of story is appropriate for 9/11.  That’s not to say we should have had some “USA!  USA!” type story, but to publish something that slaps America’s history in the face and pisses all over a difficult, but necessary and ultimately correct, military decision shows poor, poor judgement.

“Have fun”, indeed.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 16, 2008, 09:46:35 AM
The line “every American should do this” (or something like that, I refuse to listen again to get the quote exact) is a slap in the face.  Then every Japanese should suffer through the Rape of Nanking, and every Muslim who cheered as the Twin Towers fell or believe the Jews were behind the attacks should be in the buildings as they fell, and every German should live in a concentration camp.
Or, if you want to go by the theme of the story, they ought to help the people who did go through that. It's not like these people were being sent back in time to be nuked.

Oh, and you might have missed the fact that the idea that “every American should do this” was explicitly rejected. More on practical than moral grounds, but it was clear that the author does not believe that there's a universal moral imperative; those people that want to help should be able to do so, and those that don't shouldn't be forced to.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: stePH on September 16, 2008, 09:57:48 AM
Awful, horrible and insulting.  Worst Escape Pod ever by far.

[snip rant]

“Have fun”, indeed.

Steve actually omitted "Have fun" from his outro in this episode.  Just saying.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: slic on September 16, 2008, 11:24:58 AM
Such Western guilt is useless and sickens me.
You make a valid point, but I think you do the author and the story a disservice.  For me, the sense of this story is not so much different than when someone goes to another state or country and helps people in areas devastated by natural disaster.

I agree that the title implies more than just some organization wanting to help, and there was text in the story making it clear this was truly considered reperations of some kind.  The story never said why the reperations were called for (perhaps nuclear bombs were dropped in some recent conflict and the international community demaned them), but I'll cede that point.

As for the "Every American should" line in the story, I took that to be one more example of american-centric thinking - of course it should be "Every person should" but nothing wrong with starting in your own backyard, I suppose.  Every person should be exposed to these horrors in the hopes of discouraging them from happening again.
 
It turns my stomach when we in the West look at our history and feel bad when you do not look a the larger context.  (Example: Yes, Europeans bought slaves in Africa, but it was other Africans who sold them -- plenty of blame to go around regarding the slave trade.)
I'm sorry but "they did it too" has never been an acceptable reason to do something in my home.  I really think it is backwards thinking to ignore or try to justify poor behaviour from the past.  We need to learn from it, and prevent it whenever possible.

Let’s be clear: The bombs were used in a time of war against military targets...Also look at the alternative: an invasion of the Japanese isles, which would have killed many more civilians as well as allied forces...
For the record, I completely agree that dropping one bomb was absolutely necessary, and for reasons beyond just ending the war in the Pacific theatre.  However, I haven't yet heard a compelling reason for the second bomb.  Perhaps you can let me know your reasons.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 12:04:59 PM
It turns my stomach when we in the West look at our history and feel bad when you do not look a the larger context.  (Example: Yes, Europeans bought slaves in Africa, but it was other Africans who sold them -- plenty of blame to go around regarding the slave trade.)
I'm sorry but "they did it too" has never been an acceptable reason to do something in my home.
Do not put words in my mouth.  I am not saying it is acceptable.  I am addressing Western Guilt -- this sense that the West has been a force of destruction in the world and then pointing to examples like the slave trade.   The West was one of several players.  There is enough blame and guilt to go around, but I resent it when all of the blame is placed on Europeans/the West.

Let’s be clear: The bombs were used in a time of war against military targets...Also look at the alternative: an invasion of the Japanese isles, which would have killed many more civilians as well as allied forces...
For the record, I completely agree that dropping one bomb was absolutely necessary, and for reasons beyond just ending the war in the Pacific theatre.  However, I haven't yet heard a compelling reason for the second bomb.  Perhaps you can let me know your reasons.
The bombs were meant to force a surrender.  No surrender came, so a second bomb was dropped.  Certainly, while the first bomb was an agonzing decision, the second was that much harder.  Acknowledging all the horror they caused, I think both bombs were necessary.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 12:07:47 PM
Awful, horrible and insulting.  Worst Escape Pod ever by far.

[snip rant]

“Have fun”, indeed.

Steve actually omitted "Have fun" from his outro in this episode.  Just saying.

Which is why I noted it.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 16, 2008, 12:10:16 PM
Do not put words in my mouth.  I am not saying it is acceptable.  I am addressing Western Guilt -- this sense that the West has been a force of destruction in the world and then pointing to examples like the slave trade.   The West was one of several players.  There is enough blame and guilt to go around, but I resent it when all of the blame is placed on Europeans/the West.
So, your problem is with the explicit mention in the text that other nations aren't expected to provide reparations for their wrongs, but only America? Because I missed that bit.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 12:23:11 PM
Do not put words in my mouth.  I am not saying it is acceptable.  I am addressing Western Guilt -- this sense that the West has been a force of destruction in the world and then pointing to examples like the slave trade.   The West was one of several players.  There is enough blame and guilt to go around, but I resent it when all of the blame is placed on Europeans/the West.
So, your problem is with the explicit mention in the text that other nations aren't expected to provide reparations for their wrongs, but only America? Because I missed that bit.

Are you saying my issue is that the text did not mention if other nations are doing anything?  Then so, then yes -- mentioning that other nations were sending aid to the past to help those damaged by their actions would change my view of the story.  It might even be uplifting in that sometime in the future nations of the world can agree to use time travel for compassionate and charitable reasons.

But my big issue, to use your words, is: "reparations for their wrongs".  I believe reparations should be made for past wrongs, like Japanese internment during WW2.  Internment was a racist, panic-driven, bone-headed move America (and Canada) should hang its head about.  In other words, it was wrong.  But the A-bombs were not wrong.  Horrible, yes, but not wrong.  Should we show mercy, comfort, compassion and assistance to those injured -- sure, that is a human, moral reaction.  But it is NOT reparations.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wintermute on September 16, 2008, 12:39:10 PM
So.... you don't have a problem with what is done in the story, only with the word used to describe it?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 12:43:32 PM
Oh, and you might have missed the fact that the idea that “every American should do this” was explicitly rejected. More on practical than moral grounds, but it was clear that the author does not believe that there's a universal moral imperative;
The way I read (heard) the “every American should do this” line was the author speaking and advocating it as a moral imperative, but the other characters rejected it out of practical reasons to keep internal logic in the story.  Courses for horses.

those people that want to help should be able to do so, and those that don't shouldn't be forced to.
But they are making reparations, which -- by definition -- has some (legal or otherwise) coercion or moral imperative to do so.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 01:01:00 PM
So.... you don't have a problem with what is done in the story, only with the word used to describe it?
The idea of using time travel to provide aid and comfort to those affected by tragedy is a good one.  Imagine setting this in New Orleans after Katrina, or Antietam.  With other historical event travel stories having a violent streak ("We have to kill ________!"), so this idea is a good one.

But yes, to call in "Reparations" and to describe their actions as "reparations", and the subtext of "Isn't what was done so wrong" that we are compelled to send people back in time to make up for it boiled my blood.  I am not dismissing the effects of the bomb or the courage of the characters to face it (even if I did not like them), but I strongly disagree with the moral judgements I detected in the story and implied by the title.

Like I said in my original rant, call it "Mercy" (or whatever) and have there be a philanthropic motivation for sending them back, and my opinion would be very different.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: MacArthurBug on September 16, 2008, 01:14:34 PM
Fantastic. I went shopping with this story, and pissed off a bunch of the elderly people who usually piss me off by stopping suddenly in front of the canned peas to listen. This story caught me up fully and wholly. There was so much left unfinished, so much left unknown and unknowable. Marvey. This hit me, also, at a gut level- it made me sad .  Despite multiple attempts on the part of others, I didn't move from in front of the peas for quite some time. Thank you for this one!


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: slic on September 16, 2008, 04:04:52 PM
It turns my stomach when we in the West look at our history and feel bad when you do not look a the larger context.  (Example: Yes, Europeans bought slaves in Africa, but it was other Africans who sold them -- plenty of blame to go around regarding the slave trade.)
I'm sorry but "they did it too" has never been an acceptable reason to do something in my home.
Do not put words in my mouth.  I am not saying it is acceptable.  I am addressing Western Guilt -- this sense that the West has been a force of destruction in the world and then pointing to examples like the slave trade.   The West was one of several players.  There is enough blame and guilt to go around, but I resent it when all of the blame is placed on Europeans/the West.
Fair enough.  I do have a different way of phrasing it, along the lines of just because others don't acknowledge their wrongs, but in earlier posts it seems you and I actually agree.  You just dislike what the story implied.

Let’s be clear: The bombs were used in a time of war against military targets...Also look at the alternative: an invasion of the Japanese isles, which would have killed many more civilians as well as allied forces...
For the record, I completely agree that dropping one bomb was absolutely necessary, and for reasons beyond just ending the war in the Pacific theatre.  However, I haven't yet heard a compelling reason for the second bomb.  Perhaps you can let me know your reasons.
The bombs were meant to force a surrender.  No surrender came, so a second bomb was dropped.  Certainly, while the first bomb was an agonzing decision, the second was that much harder.  Acknowledging all the horror they caused, I think both bombs were necessary.
They only waited 3 days between bombs (Hiroshima, Aug 6 and Nagasaki, Aug 9).  Word had barely got out about the true level of destruction by the 7th.  The Soviets began an invasion of Manchuria on the 9th.  Besides not having read of any military action to force the timing of the second bomb, by using the second bomb, the US in fact exhausted their entire supply.   Why couldn't they have waited a few more days?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 16, 2008, 04:57:18 PM
They only waited 3 days between bombs (Hiroshima, Aug 6 and Nagasaki, Aug 9).  <snip> Why couldn't they have waited a few more days?
Jump in the time machine and ask them.

Look: You asked, I answered.  Two bombs were dropped and Japan surrendered.  We could play historical-second-guessing-armchair-quarteraback-pingpong all day long without knowing for certain how it would have played out.  Others have debated it, others will continue debating.

My interest is the story.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: squidbait on September 16, 2008, 07:17:43 PM
In short; I liked it.

The story did three things which I feel are the mark of a powerful story: it made me think, it made me feel, it made me wonder, "what happened next."

By not revealing the ultimate result of the narrator's transgressions; missing retrieval, and taking refugees back to the future, we are left to our own imagination to continue the world that Merrie has created.  This imbues it with more life than if the story had neatly tied up all loose ends.

In addition the story illustrated, for me at least, one of the more important concepts for a historian to grasp; the view of the past changes.

In the mid forties the view that the a-bombing of Japan was a necessary thing and morally just was nearly unanimous.  Today this view is an area of contention.  In the future it may be something completely different.

Moreover the story is a nice spring board into consideration of the classic question, "what duty or obligation does the present owe to the past?"  Do Germans born post WW2 owe anything to those slaughtered in the camps?  How about modern Americans to the slaughtered Indian tribes or those enslaved?  Britain to India?  China to the slaughtered inhabitants of Deneb 3?

"Reparations" also obliquely asks the question, "What use compassion against the flood?"  The minor first aid provided will no more undue the horrors of the bombing than giving a homeless man a dollar will end hunger in America.  Yet on the individual level...

All in all a strong story that wraps alot of emotional and interesting intellectual concepts into a short dramatic package. 

Thanks for presenting it.



Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Ersatz Coffee on September 17, 2008, 02:38:28 AM
An interesting story, and one I'd have to hear again to get my head round the time travel paradoxes (or otherwise).

I don't think the story implied guilt, necessarily. 'Reparations' can just mean 'repairing' or 'making good' rather than 'compensating'. Look at it like this: if in 1945 the Allies could have made a magic bomb that took out the military-industrial infrastructure of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but left civilians intact, they would have probably done so. But there was no magic bomb, so they had to kill civilians. However, the time-travel technology of the story allows the US to go back and mitigate the civilian casualties. They are only doing what they would have done in 1945 given viable technology. If the story was 'anti-bomb', time travel could have been used to prevent the bombings in the first place.

I'm in broad agreement with Evo about the bombs being a necessary evil in a brutal war - they probably saved the lives of at least 1 million US servicemen (though some historians claim they were also intended as a 'shot across the bows' to Stalin). But I don't agree with Evo's assessment of the story's moral implications; I think it assumes too much.

I did think Steve Eley's choice of end quote was "interesting". Having said he would not tell us what to think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he then quoted Enola Gay co-pilot Robert A. Lewis: "My God, what have we done?". He could equally well have quoted pilot Paul Tibbets: "I sleep clearly every night", and: "If you give me the same circumstances, hell yeah, I'd do it again."


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: eytanz on September 17, 2008, 04:02:56 PM
You know, I wrote a long response to this one, explaining why I dislike it. As a time-travel story, I think it is a failure because it is too muddled. The fact that there are three pages of interesting, detailed debate about *what the heck happened* is evidence of this. As a story about personal sacrifice, it didn't work for me - I found the narrator really hard to empathize with, as she was aloof and opaque for most of it, and at the end when the walls broke down, the story just didn't show up what was there instead.

As a political story, well, I wrote a long post about why I disagree with its philosophy, but upon re-reading it decided that I was nowhere clear enough to make my point without risking a lot of misinterpretation. I may return to this later, if I can think of how to express myself better. For now, I apologize, but I'll have to sit this one out.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: JoeFitz on September 17, 2008, 07:01:20 PM
Interesting but still not quite there. It seemed a little cloying. I also disliked the connotation the title "reparations" implies.

The story did not, for my liking, discuss enough about why these time incursions were taking place. It seems to me that sending so many people back in time to offer aid and comfort to people who otherwise would have died would seriously affect the future population. Granted, the aid was pretty minimal - why not give the people modern anti-radiation medicine instead of the 1945 medicine? It seems the people at the time would not notice and it might actually do some good.



Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: rider on September 20, 2008, 04:19:22 PM
9 days late, but that's the beauty of podcasting...

I think that this was the most moving story I've ever heard on Escapepod.  I had to listen to it a second time.  The characters seemed to have a real emotional resonance and the reading was also very authentic.

Steve mentioned the 9/11 comparison, but I humbly submit that there really is no comparison, as tragic and terrible as 9/11 was.

Keep up the great work!!


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: ryos on September 21, 2008, 01:05:48 AM
I've read a bit about the effects of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was a study from the 50's that somehow got preserved on the Internet. It contained a number of striking photos of the effects of the bomb on the city itself. The one that's stuck with me most was of a permanent "shadow" cast by a pipe on a concrete wall; the infrared radiation released in the blast was so intense that it blackened the concrete, except where obscured by the pipe. That same radiation caused the fires that killed most of the people that died due to the attacks.

Another thing in that study that struck me was that a roughly equivalent amount of damage was caused by the firebombing of Tokyo. I did not know that.

Steve encouraged us to explore our feelings in his outro. How do I feel about what my nation did? Until now I wasn't entirely sure. After listening to this story, my feelings are a little more concrete. I believe that someone would have dropped the bomb - whoever dreamed it up first was sure to use it. I'm glad that it was America that invented nuclear weapons. What atrocities would the world have suffered had Hitler or Stalin gotten there first? For that matter, what would expansionist Japan have done with a nuclear weapon, during the dying days of WWII? Thankfully, we'll never know. Thankfully, only two atomic bombs have ever been used in war. The threat of mutually assured destruction has kept the rest at bay.

If you want a tie-in to 9/11, consider: those who employ suicide bombers may be the only ones careless enough of the consequences to use a nuclear bomb today. If that's not reason enough to take the terrorists down I don't know what is.

In that the story made me reexamine my feelings about the war, it was a success, but other than that I didn't much care for it. It just bothers me that these people are wasting themselves poking about in the past rather than living their lives when they were born to make a better future. Or are we to believe that the world had become perfect in their time, and there was no situation there in need of aid? Please. Mere technology cannot change the natural man.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: slic on September 21, 2008, 01:52:45 PM
It just bothers me that these people are wasting themselves poking about in the past rather than living their lives when they were born to make a better future. Or are we to believe that the world had become perfect in their time, and there was no situation there in need of aid? Please. Mere technology cannot change the natural man.
That's an interesting question.  It strikes me that there are people in our time and neighbourhoods we could ask.  Is what they did much different than people who travel out of country to help small villages instead of helping local charities?


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Talia on September 21, 2008, 07:05:47 PM
  It just bothers me that these people are wasting themselves poking about in the past rather than living their lives when they were born to make a better future.

I doubt the people they helped thought it was a waste. Those people were still people, trying to live, survive, whether they were in the rescuers' time or not. Past or present is somewhat irelevant, the time travellers were helping people.. innocent victims.

That's no waste.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: mudguts on September 22, 2008, 12:01:39 PM
This story blew my mind... at first, it started out as a simple time travel tale.. then it remained a bit mysterious until the end when the 'other' showed up and the story really became interesting.  It was like an audio version of 'The Usual Suspects'.  It just meandered along peacefully until the very end when it whacked you in the head with a shovel!

Well written.  Well read.  Well done.   

I definitely want to hear more from this author.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: WillMoo on September 22, 2008, 02:03:43 PM
This story affirmed my belief that the vast majority of time travel stories are fatally flawed. Why go back and bandage the wounded when you could go further back and stop the event in the first place. Then you would have to write about how the land war in Japan cost far more lives in the long run than the two bombs did.

I won't even go into the "white guilt apologetic pap" that was the center of the story.  ::)


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: veganvampire on September 22, 2008, 06:24:01 PM
About the outro: Steve, you said it.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: ieDaddy on September 22, 2008, 06:50:14 PM
Didn't really care for it - not sure what the overall point of the story was.

There was too much paradox once you got past the initial layer - if she had brought back the 2 individuals then future self would not have been allowed to go back in order to bring the 2 individuals back from the past.  So future self had to be altering the timeline along a parallel time where she had not brought them back?  it sort of falls apart when you think too hard about it.

And like others said, time travel aside, if you're already messing with it, why not the big events too and pull something like a Stargate: Continuum with an altered timeline world? 

But, at least it was nice reading.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: contra on September 22, 2008, 07:11:51 PM
I took it that the reason they went for the new person on the controls, is that they wouldn't want to admit a screw up like this.  Bringing a future version of someone back?  Massive screw up.

Thus they would be willing to hide it, and get the timeline fixed.  Thus there is no paradox where things do and don't happen.
Since the future self knows what is gonig to happen (that the past self is saved in 3 days), they can be sure that this chain of events will happen. 

I'm not going to get into the bombings themselves.  They caused unspeakable horror, and may have saved lives in the long run.

America should be the ones doing reparations in this one, noone else.  After all it was them that dropped the bomb.  That should be caring for the wounded they caused.
While Europe should be responsable for the firebombings over there, and all the killing fields thoughout history that have blooddied almost every inch of the continent. 

While the death toll of the pacific war jumped greatly that day; for the war as a whole, it didn't jump by much... and in the grand scheme of the world for number killed in war for the last 200 years, it was hardly a blip. 


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Cognosco on September 22, 2008, 11:16:49 PM
Amidst all the scientific notation and hot-blooded nationalistic fervor, I would like to point out a different perspective on this story.  But first, thanks Steve, for purchasing this story and running it.  You seem to choose all 'our' stories by some kind of innate sense of feeling and although I don't like every story, I find that most of them are either fun or thought provoking.

To those whose heads didn't explode trying to figure out the logistics of meeting oneself on a road outside of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, I'd like to offer that the time travel angle was just a vehicle for the story and not the central part.  Some might say, "Well that's what makes it SciFi", but think about it this way - if you lived in an age when time travel was normal, and you told a story involving time travel, wouldn't it be just plain fiction?

To the marine who bleched all over the page above, I'd like to ask why the word 'reparations' makes you feel so guilty?  One meaning of the word 'reparation' is "restoration to a good condition", which is all the little team of volunteers (repeat - volunteers) was doing.  And this is exactly the reason they didn't go back just a little before so they could cut the throats of the pilots who dropped the bombs.  When you can't go back and change something so big in history, the best you can do is go back and take care of some of the little things.  Maybe ease one person's pain for a few days.

Which brings me to a conclusion.  The point of this story was about sacrifice.  Once I stopped trying to figure out the "how" of this story and just accepted the story at face value, it dawned on me that it was all about the protagonist's own sacrifice for that one little boy.  Love and sacrifice, baby.  Not guilt through service.  That's what it was all about to me.   Nice job, Steve.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Dutch Monkey on September 23, 2008, 11:00:02 AM
Time travel stories, while sometimes cool, don't pass the mustard with me. Among the other reasons noted above, what really stands out to me is: Is the future unchanged by these time travel excursions? They mention keeping tallies and data collection and "next times." But eventually this organization will cease to exist. They will have helped all the wounded they possibly can, eliminating the need for such a program in the first place. Imagine a scenario with a junior technician who would join the team when there are more than 5000 lives to save, but once that number hits 4999 or less he doesn't care enough to do it. If he's manning the controls on that exact mission, who's going to be there to throw the switch to bring you back? When time traveling, you really can't go home again.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wakela on September 26, 2008, 06:53:19 PM
I had the distinct feeling that this story wants me as an American to feel guilty about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  So in that sense it wants me to think about the bombings the same way Obama wants me to think about the Iraq war.  They want me to think until I agree with them, not until I reach my own conclusion.  Otherwise the story would have acknowledged the complexity and subtlety of the atomic bombing issue.  And why should every American go back in time to aid the wounded, and not ever person or every citizen of a nuclear power?  The purpose is not to discourage nuclear war or to aid the suffering, it's to punish Americans.  So I feel like I'm being told what to think.  One sentence about other countries doing the same kind of thing or why no one went back to stop the bombing completely would have alleviated this.  But the story sabotages it's own message by soft peddling the horror of the bombing.  The story mentions "injuries" and "the wounded" but the reality was extraordinarily horrible.  Flesh sliding off bone, melted eyes, etc.

The story did get me thinking, though.  The most interesting part for me is that time travelers still allow the bombs to be dropped -- the war to be started for that matter.  Also, most of the injured in this story were not being cured, they were being given temporary comfort.  Most of these people will die of radiation poisoning.  So I wonder if other countries were time traveling to give reparations, were Germans going back to aid inmates of concentration camps, but not to free them?  Were citizens of some kind of future Al Qaeda  nation coming back to comfort those trapped in the World Trade Center even though they were sure to die within the hour.  Is it worth it to do this? 


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: wakela on September 26, 2008, 07:09:38 PM
My Hiroshima experience.

I was in Hiroshima about ten years ago with a friend of mine.  Both of us are Americans.  We had been to the atomic bomb museum and we were sitting on the curb in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial), a building left standing as it had been after the bombing.  It's a haunting, skull-like building, and we were silently absorbing the heaviness of this place.  A group of high-school girls stood across the street listening to a lecture.  It was clear that this school trip was just as boring to them as ours are to us.  One of the girls spotted us, waved, and nudged her friend.  They both waved and gave us big smiles.  After the lecture they called us over to pose for pictures with them in front of the Dome.  About a dozen girls crowded around us for the picture, grinning and giving the peace sign.

 


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: JoeFitz on September 26, 2008, 09:37:41 PM
To the marine who bleched all over the page above, I'd like to ask why the word 'reparations' makes you feel so guilty?  One meaning of the word 'reparation' is "restoration to a good condition", which is all the little team of volunteers (repeat - volunteers) was doing.  And this is exactly the reason they didn't go back just a little before so they could cut the throats of the pilots who dropped the bombs.  When you can't go back and change something so big in history, the best you can do is go back and take care of some of the little things.  Maybe ease one person's pain for a few days.

I respectfully disagree. "Reparations" does have that literal meaning, but it is loaded with connotations of righting a moral wrong. Reparations are owed, not voluntarily given. These volunteers, moreover, were not "restoring" anything. The story has little discussion about why it was any sort of sacrifice to participate in these time journeys, and that was disappointing.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: evo.shandor on September 28, 2008, 08:53:27 PM
I'd like to thank wakela and Joe Fitz for eloquently stating what I was trying to say, but I only ended up belching a vitriolic rant while they used much more measured tones.

Thanks guys.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Planish on October 04, 2008, 04:21:53 AM
Paradox? What paradox? They ... um ... used a Schrödinger Time Travel Machine. You shot your grandfather AND did not shoot your grandfather. Yeah, that's the ticket.

The wave function collapses one way in the "normal" universe, and the other way in a second universe. The altered (superposed) universe that was created is pinched off, looping forever, and inaccessible from the "normal" universe like, a Klein bottle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klein_bottle). Each trip into the past pinches off another branch. This assumes that time travel does not necessarily permit the ability to jump into parallel time tracks within a multiverse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse_(science)).

Sure.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on October 08, 2008, 08:37:55 AM
"Can not run out of time. There is infinite time. You are finite. Zathras is finite. This is wrong tool. No. No, not good. No. Never use that."


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Baldessarini on October 11, 2008, 03:28:05 PM
Another question about time travel:
Why didn't all four (laura1+ slaura2 + boy + man) go back - if the counter doesn't work, why should laura 2 be able to take 2 others with her, but laura1 can't take all of them back?

I liked the story and I didn't think there'd be such a heavy discussion about politics - although I was also surprised that the main discussion was about time travel, because originally, that wasn't what struck me about the story...


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: gwalchmai munn on October 24, 2008, 02:57:29 PM
Wow! Great story. I won't worry about any political implications, but I would like to discuss some practical matters.

I'll call the narrator Laura40, since this is her 40th trip. I therefore think "injured Laura" is Laura41, due to L40's comment about her realization of the urgency that she save the man and boy. So, L40 waits until she can go back at the alternate pickup and the returns ASAP to a location which is safe, but as close as possible to where she can locate the boy and man (easy to do because injured Laura can tell her where they can be found). She then returns to where she already knows L40 is and the loop closes. (Yeah, I understand the inherent paradoxes of this, but such things exist in time travel. See the Terminator's arm mentioned above.)

Now, a practical consideration. On the day (we don't know if it's the 6th or the 9th) there are at least 41 Lauras near the city. There are also a whole heap of other time travelers. If they continue sending back folks, at some point there is going to be saturation.

Also, what about duplicate matter? I remember that whenever Superman traveled back to Smallville, Superboy would be automagically sent to Superman's time in order to satisfy the Laws of Thermodynamics.

And twonkys? The "doctors" are using modern medicine. And leaving doctors' bags in the past. Bad juju.

But overall I liked the story and appreciate EP for bringing it to the interweb. ;)


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Zathras on November 03, 2008, 12:52:15 AM
After Steve's outro in EP 182, I thought that this quote from B5 was quite fitting.  It's from "Confessions and Lamentations," a 2nd season episode.

Delenn and John Sherridan are referring to the Markab, who are all infected with a disease and being quarantined.  John is trying to talk her out of entering the quarantined area.

Delenn: They are in pain. Frightened. Dying. Minbari are taught that, at such a times, the afflicted should be ministered to, comforted.
John Sheridan: They're not your own people, Delenn!
Delenn: I didn't know that similarity was required for the exercise of compassion.

Thanks for running this one, Steve.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Aaron on November 03, 2008, 01:33:54 PM
I'm with you Steve.

Great story, I enjoyed it immensely.  You really know how to pick them.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Cerebrilith on November 08, 2008, 10:14:38 AM
This story didn't do much for me, but I wanted to voice my support for Steve's obvious good intentions.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: yicheng on March 27, 2010, 06:01:12 PM
I just heard this story, and I have to agree with Evo.Shander.  The story has "Western Guilt" dripping all over it.  While I do realize that "every american should do this" came out of the mouth of a newbie character, it just smacked so much of western-liberal "white man's burden" (e.g. american-european civilization are the only ones who can save the rest of the heathens from what terrible injustices that the american-europeans have wrought, blah blah blah).  Evo.Shander already had some good points about Nanking, Dresden, Bhutan, etc.  Heck, take any major battle along the Russian front, and it's likely to be ten times the terror, civilian casualties, and brutality that Hiroshima weathered.  More to the point, none of the other powers (Japan, German, Russia, heck Britain) would have hesitated one microsecond to nuke New York or Los Angeles if it came down to it and if they had the ability.  War is war, and guilt is a selfish emotion.  Better to spend that energy on doing something useful, like preventing future wars.



Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: Unblinking on April 06, 2010, 12:19:57 PM
This story was really good, as long as I just laid my nitpicking aside and didn't look for paradoxes and inconsistencies, such as:
1.  The supposed reason for not bringing residents to the future is because you can't alter the timeline, but they ARE altering the timeline to save people who might not otherwise be saved.
2.  If she violates orders by having her future self bring back residents, why would they send her back again?  Which would be necessary if future self has to show up.
3.  Why save those two and leave everyone else to die?

The concept itself was great.  I can kind of see Evo's point about the title, I would've liked something with a bit less guilt in it, but the concept itself is great.  I thought it was interesting that it never revealed who is sending them back and who made the decision to start this program.  I thought that lack of information was actually a good thing in this case.

I've never been very comfortable with the bombing of those two cities.  The thought of slaughtering of so many million civilians makes me sick to my stomach.  I'm just not convinced that wholesale slaughter on that scale can ever be the right thing.  Do I feel guilty?  No, because feeling guilt over something that occurred when my dad was only 6 months old is pointless.  But I'd like to think that I would volunteer to go back for at least a couple trips to do what I could to help.

I don't think that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a good comparison to 9/11, and that probably would've bothered me if I had listened to it on the original pub date of 9/11.  But since I listened to it for the first time in mid-March, it probably bothered me less.


Title: Re: EP175: Reparations
Post by: yicheng on April 10, 2012, 11:59:17 AM
Apologies for resurrecting this old thread, but Dan Carlin recently did a podcast episode that was very apropos to the topic at hand.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/dancarlinhh/dchha42__BLITZ_Logical_Insanity.mp3