Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Russell Nash on March 12, 2009, 03:32:02 AM

Title: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Russell Nash on March 12, 2009, 03:32:02 AM
EP190: Origin Story (http://escapepod.org/2009/03/12/ep190-origin-story/)

By Tim Pratt (http://www.timpratt.org/).
Read by Stephen Eley.
Special closing music: “Skullcrusher Mountain” by Jonathan Coulton (http://www.jonathancoulton.com/).

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He didn’t call himself The Aerialist at first. The newspapers came up with that later. He called himself Kid Kangaroo of all things, because of the jumping from rooftop to rooftop, even though I made fun of him, called him “Joey,” made jokes about dingoes. Nobody knows his secret identity but me, and I only found out because I snuck into the treehouse one night to smoke a cigarette and found him changing out of his leotard and tights and domino mask. He was only fifteen. I still remember what he said: “Don’t tell anyone — if my identity is discovered, you and mom and dad could be used against me.”

Rated PG. Contains sibling rivalry and comic book deconstruction.


(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/EP190_OriginStory.mp3)
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: DKT on March 12, 2009, 10:39:36 AM
Wow, a Tim Pratt original. Very cool.

I really dug how The Aerialist's history kind of mirrored the history of comic books. The Golden and Silver Age, the Mighty Marvel Age, and the gritty era of the 90s.

I had a pretty good idea where the story was going with the brothers, and how our narrator would turn on Reg, but when it did happen, it really worked for me. And I liked the ending.

So mark me down as a fan. Good stuff. It makes me want to go write some more dark superhero fiction, which I think is really one of the best compliments I can give it!
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Corydon on March 12, 2009, 12:22:07 PM
I enjoyed this story too.  I don't know that I really get how the whole time travel part worked, but that's no doubt the point; you don't want to press superhero logic too hard, especially when it comes to alternate dimensions and whatnot.  Thinking too hard spoils the fun!

I really dug how The Aerialist's history kind of mirrored the history of comic books. The Golden and Silver Age, the Mighty Marvel Age, and the gritty era of the 90s.

I noticed that too.  I find it interesting that all of the superhero fiction I read or hear (which I'll grant you, isn't a lot) is interested in tweaking or commenting on the rules and history of the genre.  This is as close to a "straight" superhero story as I've come across in ages, but even so, it spends some time picking at the seams.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Listener on March 12, 2009, 01:14:59 PM
I think too much time was spent on Our Hero's turn from loyal brother to I Want To Lead The Society-To-Kill-Reggie Man. Like, after the bombshell is dropped, it just seems to go on a bit too long.

The story itself was a little too talky; everything happenED, but nothing was happenING, and I think I need more ING in my superhero fiction. The "telling the story" trope is overused these days, though I don't know if this was written before that started happening. Also, I think I knew from the start that Our Hero was talking to some sort of supervillain. I did like how he exposed them as being fake Feds.

One last thing -- Reggie going back in time and saving his parents but forgetting his brother would've led to an entirely-different upbringing, which might not even have led to an Aerialist. Kind of the "Star Trek" theory of altering the past -- most of it's the same, with only a few key differences. (For example, in "Tapestry", would Captain Holloway have seen Riker as being awesome for saving DeSoto and brought him to the Enterprise, or would he have said "wow, that guy totally disobeyed orders; I'd rather have this Quinteros guy from Starbase 74.")

For all that, the story did move well and kept me interested, even though I spent much of it trying to figure out when the action was going to start. I give it 3 Watchmen (Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias) out of 5.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: DKT on March 12, 2009, 02:01:27 PM
I give it 3 Watchmen (Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias) out of 5.

Weren't there 6 Watchmen?
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Ocicat on March 12, 2009, 03:24:15 PM
As a longtime comics fan, I was really digging how the story changed tone along with comic book trends of the times.  You could actually pinpoint exactly where Watchmen came out!  And of course we have to have some retconning in there somewhere.  And the hero's brother becoming his arch nemesis is of course a classic... it's just surprising it wouldn't have happened earlier in his publishing history.

Overall a really fun love letter to the comicbook superhero.  Oh, and I should note: there was a comics hero by the name of the Aerialist - published in Dark Horse Presents long ago.  Matt Wagner abandoned him mid-story though, so I doubt he'd mind this use of the name.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: MacArthurBug on March 12, 2009, 10:50:56 PM
Now that- that was awesome.

I'm now a happy camper. Excellent story.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Listener on March 13, 2009, 06:05:08 AM
I give it 3 Watchmen (Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias) out of 5.

Weren't there 6 Watchmen?

Nite Owl, Rorschach, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, Comedian, Manhattan...

Yep, you're right. I THOUGHT I was forgetting someone.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: stePH on March 13, 2009, 10:21:38 AM
Brilliant.  Four stars (in the hateful iTunes program).


I give it 3 Watchmen (Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias) out of 5.

Weren't there 6 Watchmen?

Girls don't count.  ;)
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Raving_Lunatic on March 13, 2009, 11:44:35 AM
I very much liked this story, and I don't have much else to say.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Listener on March 13, 2009, 01:26:38 PM
Brilliant.  Four stars (in the hateful iTunes program).


I give it 3 Watchmen (Nite Owl, Rorschach, and Ozymandias) out of 5.

Weren't there 6 Watchmen?

Girls don't count.  ;)

(http://meatbun.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/watchmen_silk_spectre.jpg)

You wanna tell her that? Cos I don't.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: SFEley on March 13, 2009, 10:47:54 PM
Weren't there 6 Watchmen?

Nite Owl, Rorschach, Ozymandias, Silk Spectre, Comedian, Manhattan...

Seven.  Captain Metropolis.  It was written out of the movie, but in the book it's Metropolis's map that the Comedian burns.

(Just saw the movie today, BTW.  It was...okay.)
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: BethPeters on March 14, 2009, 12:54:10 AM
Great story, looove Pratt!
Great closing song too.  Why haven't Coulton and Norm Sherman gotten Grammy's yet?  Sad.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: cuddlebug on March 14, 2009, 06:39:30 AM
Amazing story, I really enjoyed this one and it confirmed what I always knew, I would NEVER in a million years want to be a SUPERHERO. Who wants that responsibility, who wants to live a life that is all about the job and no fun. Who wants to be lonely all the time. Naw, not my cup of tea, ... but SUPERPOWERS on the other hand would be quite welcome as long as I can keep them secret. ..... =)

Can't wait to see Watchmen now, listening to this story made me even more excited that it has just come out in the UK.

And welcome back Steve, feels like you got your stride back. It feels almost like having a good old friend return who had disappeared for a while. Good to see you're ok, and I think it was the best decision you could make to share the work with other people, nobody can do this alone. No man is an island, right?
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: 600south on March 14, 2009, 07:20:39 AM
Yeah, that was a good one. It's funny, because I used to run a mile from superhero stories. Loved superhero movies, but reading stories about them never interested me much (and I didn't get Unbreakable at all). I always used to delete the Union Dues stories. But then I listened to one of them for the hell of it, and got re-interested. I've listened to all of them since. And now this one got me even more re-interested...

Now that I think about it, I never had anything against superheroes themselves, but superhero teams always seemed kind of ridiculous and over-the-top. Maybe I need to read Watchmen.


Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: stePH on March 14, 2009, 10:16:05 AM
Now that I think about it, I never had anything against superheroes themselves, but superhero teams always seemed kind of ridiculous and over-the-top. Maybe I need to read Watchmen.

Do.  You'll like how hero teams are dealt with in the story.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Kaa on March 14, 2009, 11:40:56 PM
Very, very nice. I thought I knew where this was headed and it totally took me by surprise. A most excellent little tale with all the elements I've come to love about Union Dues and Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps.

Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: coyote247 on March 16, 2009, 09:39:20 AM
As much as I love Union Dues and Playing For Keeps (and even Astromonkeys was fun, though a bit cliche), it /was/ nice to have a deadpan superhero story.

And on a more specific note, these are the kinds of stories I always wish there would be. The one where the minor character or the one taken for granted ends up doing something about it, the way you sometimes want those characters in other books and stories to rise up when they don't.

Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: 600south on March 16, 2009, 09:41:26 PM
Now that I think about it, I never had anything against superheroes themselves, but superhero teams always seemed kind of ridiculous and over-the-top. Maybe I need to read Watchmen.

Do.  You'll like how hero teams are dealt with in the story.

I did. Just read all 12 books in two nights.
Wow.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Darwinist on March 16, 2009, 10:20:41 PM
I didn't care for the story, I guess I've felt like I've been superhero-ed to death lately.  Not a big fan of the genre.  The closing song was perfect.  Coulton rocks!
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Void Munashii on March 18, 2009, 10:04:20 AM
  I loved this story, even though the fact that brother had become a villain was evident early on it still managed to surprise me a bit when it got to the whole I-was-erased-from-history-and-now-I-can't-die bit.
  As has already been said by othersm the story made me think of the progression of superheroes (I was thinking particularly of Batman) from the idealism of the golden age up to the dark grittiness of today. Really really good stuff.

  Oh, and Skullcrusher was a great song to play with it; it's one of my and Osaka's favourite Rock Band songs. Rock Band needs more Coulton.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: CGFxColONeill on March 19, 2009, 11:07:06 AM
very interesting story imo... not sure what it is with Pratt but he is an excellent author and has written several of my ep favorites
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Hatton on March 20, 2009, 01:19:48 PM
A good listen with a twist ending I didn't expect.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Loz on March 22, 2009, 12:52:33 PM
I enjoyed that, I thought it was a nice twist on the whole 'heroin addicted jazz-critic who isn't radioactive' school of superhero deconstruction, Superman becomes Wolverine becomes Cable but then pulls back and is generally a decent guy, it's his brother that's the arsehole, even if he has what he feels are good reasons. Almost makes me want to ask for a sequel.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: DarkKnightJRK on March 25, 2009, 06:43:41 PM
I had an idea that the main character would become the villain the second I looked at the info and saw that "Skullcrush Mountain" was playing afterwards. Still, I loved the hell out of it--it was a very strong take on how the superhero has involved and the characters seem very interesting. Like someone else mentioned, it makes me want to hear/read a sequel.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: stePH on March 27, 2009, 08:15:31 PM
(Just saw the [Watchmen] movie today, BTW.  It was...okay.)

This is still the least-favorable review I've yet heard for the film.

I hope I get a job soon, so I can go see it.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: rowshack on March 28, 2009, 01:32:13 AM
after listening to I had to call my big brother to remind him of a skateboard there was some question of ownership about 15 years ago. My time will come.
Title: Re: EP190: Origin Story
Post by: Unblinking on May 12, 2010, 12:01:27 PM
I liked this one!  Yet another great Pratt story, yet more reason why he's one of my favorite authors (I've got an interview with him coming up in Fantasy Magazine, woohoo!).

This was an example of a good title.  At first it seemed straightforward, the origin story of his brother, but it became his own origin story and I liked that twist.  The idea that he can't die because he isn't supposed to exist is an interesting one, all the more support for the universe being a glitchy computer program.