Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Swamp on November 05, 2009, 12:37:07 PM



Title: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 05, 2009, 12:37:07 PM
EP223: The Uncanny Valley (http://escapepod.org/2009/11/05/ep223-the-uncanny-valley/)

by Nick Mamatas (http://www.nick-mamatas.com/)
Read by Kathryn Baker (http://anaedream.com/)

The trouble with knowing everything there is to know, Stephanie Dowling decided instantly, because that’s how clever she was, was that when there was something unknown out there, she had nobody to consult.

And there was something unknown out there, nibbling away at the edge of the economy, and screwing with the Cottrell-Cockshot tatonnements sufficiently that there’d be problems. Shortages of essentials: power cells and answer boxes. Ridiculous surpluses of nonsense like chrome and diamonds. She could tell because the bride was coughing between her lines and the donkey she rode on suddenly looked ill. It would be just like … wossname … that old thing. Capitalism. Till she fixed it anyway.

Wossname?


Rated R

(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif)
Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://cdn2.libsyn.com/escapepod/EP_223_TheUncannyValley.mp3?nvb=20091105172443&nva=20091106173443&t=0e3d665d45916a651ff23)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Ocicat on November 05, 2009, 02:55:34 PM
This read like a bad Grant Morrison comic - lots of ideas and pretty imagery thrown out there all higgledy piggledy.  Nothing I could really follow or sink my teeth into.  Hard to follow in audio too - not the narrator's fault really, but it was hard to follow along with switches of POV and scene.  But mostly just seemed like it was trying too hard to be poetic and deep, and not focusing on telling a coherent story.  Got really old really quick.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: KenK on November 05, 2009, 05:19:32 PM
I agree with Ocicat. And for the same reasons to. The intro was not very interesting or informative either. EP gets a D- for this episode.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Gia on November 05, 2009, 07:19:39 PM
I'm a little more than half way through and I have no idea what's going on. I get the impression that there's something a bit pretentious about it, but I can't say exactly why because, as I said, I really don't know what's happening.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 05, 2009, 07:24:20 PM
The intro was not very interesting or informative either.

Heh.  Actually, it explained a lot for me.  I was previously unaware of term "uncanny valley" as reference to feeling uncomfortable when robots/AI became too humanlike.  It cleared up a lot of confusion I had around EP's flash story of the same name (http://escapepod.org/2006/08/14/ep-flash-the-uncanny-valley/) by Jared Axelrod. (When I first started building this episode thread, I thought there might have been a repeat of stories or some other mistake, but then I saw the authors were different.  :))

So does this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LorTKDFIsxc) represent an "uncanny valley" response in anyone?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: KenK on November 05, 2009, 07:43:26 PM
@swamp
You have to be joking. That singing robot you linked to is not lifelike at all. It is a good replication of the human form, but once it starts to move and talk it is very clear that it isn't human. Not even close. The "uncanny valley" referred to hasn't been reached yet. 


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 05, 2009, 07:57:17 PM
@swamp
You have to joking. That singing robot you linked to is not lifelike at all. It is a good replication of the human form, but once it starts to move and talk it is very clear that it isn't human. Not even close. The "uncanny valley" referred to hasn't been reached yet. 

It was a little tongue in cheek.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: KenK on November 05, 2009, 09:18:23 PM
It was a little tongue in cheek.

Oops! My bad.  ;D



Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: deflective on November 05, 2009, 10:43:26 PM
for me, this story started with two strikes against it.

first, as mentioned, stories with shifting timelines & povs are difficult to put into audio.  it really helps to have changes in tone or distinct pauses to signal scene shifts.  the last story i remember with changing povs (requiem in d-minor (http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=2690.0)) had the same problem.

second, the story uses the overexposed science-run-amok trope.  this usually creates an homogenized image of humanity where some advance is universally embraced before turning horribly wrong.  it's a personal pet peeve, kinda like some people get tired of elves or vampires, mainly because it harps on the fear of change and only rarely creates a realistic situation that could result in cautionary advice.

if cavemen wrote scifi there would be a whole series of stories where Ogg uses fire (http://dresdencodak.com/2009/09/22/caveman-science-fiction/) to warm his cave and winds up burning down the mountain where everyone lives.  the tone and underlying message of these stories are counterproductive and they rub me the wrong way.

despite this, i enjoyed the central question (how would our subconscious react to singularity and vice versa) and the imagery used.  after a rocky start the story redeemed itself somewhat.


The "uncanny valley" referred to hasn't been reached yet.

it's a real problem in cgi.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 06, 2009, 12:16:08 AM
It was a little tongue in cheek.

Oops! My bad.  ;D

No problem.  I should have put a  ;) or a  ::) next to the link.

But the uncanny valley concept was new to me.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: lunastrixae on November 06, 2009, 12:21:09 AM
I'm a little more than half way through and I have no idea what's going on. I get the impression that there's something a bit pretentious about it, but I can't say exactly why because, as I said, I really don't know what's happening.

My thoughts exactly. I'm not the sharpest tool or dullest, but I was very lost the whole way through. I would start to think I saw the point of the story then it would crumple away the next scene. It was like a robotics engineer's acid trip while she was on a conference in San Fran.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: MacArthurBug on November 06, 2009, 01:48:48 PM
I felt like I'd taken something, then had a freak out.
When did EP come with a bad trip?

I did not enjoy this story, did not understand this story. And the reading- though good .. wasn't helping. Too friggin strange for me. Maybe if I HAD taken something I'd have "gotten" it?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: sibtrag on November 06, 2009, 04:58:48 PM
I'm a little more than half way through and I have no idea what's going on.

Same here.  Not easy to follow as narrated.  I think I'll opt for something else on the commute home & wait for next week.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: yicheng on November 06, 2009, 05:01:38 PM
I'm a little more than half way through and I have no idea what's going on. I get the impression that there's something a bit pretentious about it, but I can't say exactly why because, as I said, I really don't know what's happening.

^^ This.

One of the few EP's that I just really really couldn't listen through. 


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Darwinist on November 06, 2009, 09:10:30 PM

I got lost about 10 minutes in and never really recovered.   The breathy narration fit the storyline and main character but that's about the only good thing I can think of.   A big "meh" from me. 


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: KenK on November 06, 2009, 10:56:20 PM
I think the confusion apparent in the story is to be interpreted like this: What is being described here is a condition known as a "technological singularity."  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity) The machine intelligence is so much smarter and faster than the human mind/brain that the human end of the loop becomes uncomprehending and disengaged. That is the point that I think  deflective was making with the CGI* reference.  The human mind/brain can't provide the requested output the machine is asking for because it can't understand it and/or respond fast enough. At least that's my version of what the author was trying to do here. Kudos for the attempt although it didn't really work too well. Or maybe that was the author's point? :D  I'd love to hear other opinions about this.


*Common Gateway Interface


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Talia on November 06, 2009, 11:30:17 PM
I didn't have much idea what was going on here either, but I strongly suspect the story is more cohesive/comprehensible in written form, where its simpler to, if a passage is puzzling, go back and ponder over it a bit more. There were particular phrases and flashes of concepts that shone through here and there that were just outright brilliant, just really really good stuff, which makes me suspect its more a matter of the format being an ill fit than it being a wobbly story. Now I must decide if its worth tracking down in print to test my theory.

IE the intro: that one mecha-oprah who invariably went rogue explains a whole lot. In fact, its likely to blame for the state of television programming today. And the untimely cancellation of 'Firefly.'
Because mecha-oprahs are jerks.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: H. Bergeron on November 07, 2009, 01:18:07 AM
Because mecha-oprahs are jerks.

I studied Italian for two semesters last year, and the first thing that popped into my head was something like "should it be mecha-opre if it's pluralized?"

Sigh.  My brain.


I was listening to this story while playing a video game with the sound off - nothing too mentally preoccupying, just doing some grinding in Torchlight (which is pretty awesome, by the way) - and I initially assumed that I couldn't figure out what was going on because my attention wasn't on the story, but even once I stopped playing the game I was confused up until the very end, when it all sort of came together.

As I understand it, the entire story up until the end is about her, as one of the "Post Office" humans, being submerged into a false reality that is forcing her to confront and deal with her own subconscious concerns - the story was disjointed that way partly because that was how she was working through the issues, how everyone works through issues: not in a sensible, linear fashion, but jumping to and fro.  I definitely am going to go back and have another listen without distractions, probably spread throughout a day of walking to and from classes next week, but I honestly kind of liked the story itself.  I don't think it lent itself extremely well to the audio format, with all of its PoV switching, but it was still very good.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Portrait in Flesh on November 07, 2009, 11:49:29 AM
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the uncanny stuff, I will know no thing;
for thou art confounding me: thy plot and thy story, they bamboozle me.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: deflective on November 07, 2009, 08:42:16 PM
The "uncanny valley" referred to hasn't been reached yet.
it's a real problem in cgi.
The machine intelligence is so much smarter and faster than the human mind/brain that the human end of the loop becomes uncomprehending and disengaged. That is the point that  deflective was making with the CGI* reference.  (http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=3095.msg55557#msg55557)
*Common Gateway Interface

i wish i was making a point as nuanced as that, all i really meant was that our best cgi animation currently plummets into the uncanny valley.  when commercial cgi animators try to make lifelike animation it usually turns out lurching, wooden faced automatons (polar express (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RjWOoBR8_M#t=1m28s)).  this is one of the reasons that the most successful cgi movies remain cartoonish like pixar's.

The human mind/brain can't provide the requested output the machine is asking for because it can't understand it and/or respond fast enough. At least that's my version of what the author was trying to do here. Kudos for the attempt although it didn't really work too well. Or maybe that was the author's point? :D  I'd love to hear other opinions about this.

i agree with your idea that the brain/network interface was the problem but i didn't think that the connection was malfunctioning the way you described, actually the connection was too good.  the nanotech not only picked up surface thoughts & conscious decisions but subconscious & repressed feelings as well.  since these 2500 people had godlike global power their subconscious manifested in a horribly uncontrolled fashion.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: kibitzer on November 09, 2009, 02:05:27 AM
Hmm. I'm a third the way through. Maybe I'll give it a miss ;-)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Listener on November 10, 2009, 09:20:25 AM
The narrator's unchanging tone and speed of reading kind of made it hard to follow certain heavily-technical parts, and because of the technical aspect of the recording, sometimes I think technical words ran together. Who was it who said if you read something really technical and don't understand it, take out all the words you don't understand and it should be more comprehensible? Well, that's how I try to write SF, and reading it that way usually helps (I missed a LOT of Snow Crash and Anathem and Cryptonomicon the first time through and still really enjoyed all three books). Didn't quite help this time.

A lot of the commentary so far has been in line with what I thought about the story. There were some truly excellent images -- the stress-monkey was very cool, and I guess on reflection was foreshadowing of a monkey being on everyone's back. But at the point where the story reached convergence -- Esme's escape from Alcatraz (I'm still not sure how she got off the island) -- I got totally lost. What was up with the human biomass (Marge Piercy term, I believe, from "He, She, and It", but correct me if I'm wrong)? The sudden inclusion of steampunk and clockpunk? The giant robot that needed therapy? The version of Esme with a dildo, being carried in a wheelbarrow? (Isn't that like two EPs in two months with dildos in them? Am I the only one who noticed that?)

Using a psychiatrist as a MC to help conveniently get around explanation by having the psychiatrist think in psychiatric terms I think is becoming overused in fiction, unless of course the story is about analysis. In the beginning, this story was about that, and I really would've liked that story more -- the posthumans keeping a psychiatrist around to help them figure out why they were so affected by the murder of Stephanie Dowling, with oblique references to another force that was doing the killing of posthumans. As it is this was sort of a "Frame of Mind" (STNG episode) story where the psychiatrist has to keep breaking through POVs until she gets to the real world and can actually effect change.

I did like the fact that convergence happened in a day, and the way the author addressed the biomass just sort of accepting it as yet another news story was very cool.

I think the overall problem was that the author was telling too many stories here and leaving too much unanswered. I mentioned the one I would've liked to hear. Overall a #4 lane story -- not as good as being in the #1 lane, but not as bad as dealing with the merging traffic in #5. (Roadgeek humor.)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: MasterThief on November 10, 2009, 09:55:50 AM
This is the first EP story in a long time that was a chore to listen to.  The story couldn't decide what it wanted to be (an apocalypse?  A murder mystery?  a psychodrama?  a robot love story?  steampunk?  cyberpunk?  magical realism?) and everything was just smashed together and indistinguishable.  There was no plot I could follow.  The overuse of similes and metaphors started off annoying, but by the time the story got to "vaginal faces" and "giant leather phalluses" I was looking for the exits.  The main character was boring and unsympathetic, the robots failed to generate any emotional reaction at all.  The narration made me just want to curl up and go to sleep.  And what in the hell was Norm babbling on about in the outro?

I give this story an F.  If the singularity is going to be this boring, count me out.   >:(


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: stePH on November 10, 2009, 10:14:55 AM
This read like a bad Grant Morrison comic - lots of ideas and pretty imagery thrown out there all higgledy piggledy.  Nothing I could really follow or sink my teeth into.  Hard to follow in audio too - not the narrator's fault really, but it was hard to follow along with switches of POV and scene.  But mostly just seemed like it was trying too hard to be poetic and deep, and not focusing on telling a coherent story.  Got really old really quick.

Ocicat stole my thoughts before I got here to post them.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: RKG on November 10, 2009, 11:21:41 AM
I'm not claiming I really understood this well enough to make a coherent comment, but from what I think I understood, they should destroy the collected knowledge of the Krell and get the hell off of Altair IV.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Sgarre1 on November 10, 2009, 11:29:13 AM
Quote
but from what I think I understood, they should destroy the collected knowledge of the Krell and get the hell off of Altair IV.

 :D  Excellent!


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 10, 2009, 12:54:23 PM
EP gets a D- for this episode.

Overall a #4 lane story -- not as good as being in the #1 lane, but not as bad as dealing with the merging traffic in #5. (Roadgeek humor.)

I give this story an F.  If the singularity is going to be this boring, count me out.   >:(

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh".  The 5 lane rating is more creative (and kind of funny :)), but still, all of you did a good enough job explaining your thoughts and offering insightful comments about the story without the grades/ratings.  It's not that big of a deal.  I just envision people posting a grade and nothing else.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Prank Call of Cthulhu on November 10, 2009, 06:40:46 PM
Holy cow, this was a bad story! How bad? It was so bad that the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw" which was not dissimilar to it was better. Yes, I just said Star Trek Voyager didn't suck as bad as something else. I went there. Just because you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager, does not mean you'll come up with a good story. It will, however, give you an unmitigated mess of a story. This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: DKT on November 10, 2009, 07:08:45 PM
This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.

Worth noting: Nick Mamatas also works as an editor (http://ellen-datlow.livejournal.com/195314.html).


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Darwinist on November 10, 2009, 07:23:34 PM

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Ocicat on November 10, 2009, 07:32:30 PM

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Darwinist on November 10, 2009, 07:34:51 PM

Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-

Ooops.  Answer:  let the people grade the stories how they want.  If you don't like it don't read it. 


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 10, 2009, 08:20:23 PM
Do we really want to reduce our comments about a story down to a letter grade?  It's not much more descriptive than a "meh". 

Probably not, but what's the big deal if they do?  Or do we need to come up with some forum rules?   

We, as moderators, are trying to avoid drumming up a bunch of forum rules.  I don't think anybody wants a bunch of red tape.  However, as the forum grows, that may need to happen.  As I said earlier, it's not a big deal.  I just commented to try to head off a bad trend that could devolve.

Raising questions without offering answers.  I rate this post a C-

 ;D


Ooops.  Answer:  let the people grade the stories how they want.  If you don't like it don't read it. 

I agree with your first sentance, and except in extreme cases, that's pretty much how we roll.  As moderators, we try to establish a community of goodwill from everyone on the forums toward each other, the authors, the readers, etc.  Nobody's perfect.  I've obviously said things in a way that didn't promote good will.

But I do disagree with "if you don't like it, don't read it".  If we are talking only about the grades/rating, okay, I'm with you.  But when you have Prank Call of Cthulu again spewing venom, showing no respect, and dressing down the author as if he were some writing industry authority, it's completely out of line.  It will be read by anyone going through this thread. "If you don't like it, don't read it" isn't going to cut it.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 10, 2009, 08:27:44 PM
Holy cow, this was a bad story! How bad? It was so bad that the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw" which was not dissimilar to it was better. Yes, I just said Star Trek Voyager didn't suck as bad as something else. I went there. Just because you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager, does not mean you'll come up with a good story. It will, however, give you an unmitigated mess of a story. This is why writers need editors, people. A good editor would have taken one look at the draft of this and set fire to it.

Prank, we have tried to reason with you and explain the type of respect that we want in the forums.  You obviously don't care or want to push our limits.  One more post like this and you will be temporarily banned.

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

EDIT:  Responses to this moderation can be found here (http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=3149.0)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: stePH on November 10, 2009, 09:18:32 PM
...you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager,...

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

I don't know ... I think the bit of the quote that I kept above, pretty much nailed it.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Heradel on November 10, 2009, 09:45:02 PM
...you throw in some clockwork robots for the steampunk fans, chuck every high-falootin' word and foreign phrase you can for the lit majors, toss in some nattering about the singularity or convergence or whatever to grab the interest of the Cory Doctorow fans, then hang it all off a skeleton built from a little Matrix, a little Dark City, and a dash of Voyager,...

Obviously, you are not the only person who did not like this story, but others have expressed that in more respectful ways.

I don't know ... I think the bit of the quote that I kept above, pretty much nailed it.

Doesn't matter, you can say it in a way that respects the author and everyone else involved.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: cdugger on November 12, 2009, 09:36:55 AM
Sounded like a computer wrote this story. Insert random person description, insert random action, insert random room description.

And no differentiation with the voice. At 11 minutes, I stopped because I could never tell who was talking, or what they meant when they said it.

Definately one of the worst on EP.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 12, 2009, 11:19:18 AM
Sounded like a computer wrote this story.

Sigh.  Again, comments about authors, or other people, don't have to be praising or patronizing, but should have a manner of respect.  cdugger, you don't have a history of spurning comments and I think you are just trying to share your dissappointment with this story, so I'm not picking on you.  It's more to the general principle already discussed due to previous comments.  I don't think Nick Mamatas is a tender flower who cannot take criticism, but basic respect is the baseline that we are trying to establish for the forums.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: wakela on November 12, 2009, 06:34:53 PM
Basically what everyone else said. 

I will add that the last ten minutes or so made sense, and I thought the idea of the id taking over the singularity was pretty interesting.  I also like stories that don't seem to make sense at first, but then something clicks and the reader gets an impression of what happened without having it explained.  But this story was just not clear enough.  The EP editors liked it enough to pay for and publish it, so the story probably works better read than heard. 

The gauge in my head that measures amount of dry, detached, cynical, sarcastic, world-weary, judgmental*, snarky narration I hear is pegged at maximum due to the last few months of EPs.  She canna take much more of this, captain.  Not that this was bad narration -- I  thought it was very appropriate.  It's just that there have been several stories read with this voice lately. 

For all the story's bizarreness, the ending seemed pretty main stream. 

* I almost LOLed at the end when she said, "I won't judge you."  Would anyone want this woman as their therapist? 


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: cdugger on November 12, 2009, 08:42:13 PM
Sigh.  Again, comments about authors, or other people, don't have to be praising or patronizing, but should have a manner of respect.  cdugger, you don't have a history of spurning comments and I think you are just trying to share your dissappointment with this story, so I'm not picking on you.  It's more to the general principle already discussed due to previous comments.  I don't think Nick Mamatas is a tender flower who cannot take criticism, but basic respect is the baseline that we are trying to establish for the forums.

I do apologize if I offended anyone. I in no means was directing that at the author, just the structure of the story.

I don't generally keep track of the authors on EP, so I likely have/will loved/love something else written by the same hand.

What may have done it is the reading. I've been listening to 6-8 stories a day, M-F, and I hear them all. this one was just plain. Not the voice, the reading.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 12, 2009, 09:13:03 PM
No worries.  Most of your post was just fine.  That first line just caught my attention relative to the previous comments.  It was more  of a caution than a rebuke.  I may have been over-sensative to the point.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: cercle on November 13, 2009, 06:59:47 AM
Norm was right : I didn't see it coming.  In fact I didn't see ANYTHING coming.  Boring.  Boring.  UNBELIEVABLY boring.  I listened through the whole thing, but every two sentences or so my mind drifted off.  Couldn't make heads nor tails.  Didn't care, either.  A story needs to grab the reader's (or listener's) attention, not leave the reader (listener) to force his attention to story time and again. I got the impression the writer wanted to show off her intelect by throwing about all these metaphores and the like.  Style.  It's not only overrated, it is in fact irrelevant.  Tell your story as crisp and concise as possible.  Style will take care of itself.  The reading itself wasn't exactly great, either. To close : I thought the recent Nancy Kress story hit rock bottom as far as EP stories went, but I bow my head in defeat : this one was (a lot) worse.  Still absolutely loved last week's story, though ! That was fun, and having fun was what the Eley wants us to have, right ?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Swamp on November 13, 2009, 07:29:16 AM
I got the impression the writer wanted to show off her intelect by...

Note: Nick Mamatas is a man.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Bdoomed on November 13, 2009, 11:33:21 AM
...the Eley...
hahaha


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Doctor Thump on November 13, 2009, 11:51:09 AM
Much like everyone else, I couldn't follow the story.  But maybe more of an issue with me was the quality of the audio.  Certainly not up to normal EP fare; actually given that I work with sound quite a bit, the audio was so distracting, it was hard to put all of the focus on the story (which required maybe more focus than I had anyway).  Cheers!


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Kate_Baker on November 13, 2009, 02:27:26 PM
Much like everyone else, I couldn't follow the story.  But maybe more of an issue with me was the quality of the audio.  Certainly not up to normal EP fare; actually given that I work with sound quite a bit, the audio was so distracting, it was hard to put all of the focus on the story (which required maybe more focus than I had anyway).  Cheers!

I'm rather confused about this statement. To each his own about my narration skills, but really, I try my best to put out a professional sounding product. What were you upset with exactly?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: justinmartyr on November 13, 2009, 03:39:18 PM
There is a period of time, at the start of any tale, after which the reader should at least think they understand what is being described.  A story can then go on to puzzle, surprise or challenge the reader because he or she is following along.  This was like riding a high speed train past billboards too fast to read or make out the images.  There is an intuition that meaning is flying past you, but there is nothing to grab on to so you stop looking out the window.

Keeping with travel metaphors, this story has no on ramp, so it doesn't matter where it goes. The reader can't merge.






Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Bdoomed on November 13, 2009, 06:35:32 PM
Much like everyone else, I couldn't follow the story.  But maybe more of an issue with me was the quality of the audio.  Certainly not up to normal EP fare; actually given that I work with sound quite a bit, the audio was so distracting, it was hard to put all of the focus on the story (which required maybe more focus than I had anyway).  Cheers!
i have no idea what you are talking about, the narration was awesome.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: ajames on November 13, 2009, 09:50:26 PM
This story managed to piqué my interest in the beginning, but after scene after scene where everything made less and less sense, I just stopped caring or listening. Ultimately, I found the character of Esme far too self-absorbed to give a damn about her or the rest of the story. I've read a couple of posts that say that everything comes together in the last 10 minutes, but I still have no desire to finish listening, especially if the id is really part of the explanation.

Sorry if this sounds harsh - I get the feeling that the author was taking some chances with this story, and I respect that. It just didn't work for me.

Editors - just because you have someone named Alistair working for you, doesn't mean every piece has to be Masterpiece Theater ;-)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Bdoomed on November 14, 2009, 04:38:53 AM
so...
lemme get this straight...
well first, I think I liked it, however I think I'd like it better if I could read it...

SPOILER ALERT! (maybe?)
anyway...
She's a therapist...
and she was talking to an old client turned cyborg via the convergence... who was also her lover at one point...
then at one point she asks him a question that perplexes him so much he kinda turns off... and is then devoured by... whoever is murdering everyone?
he is later resurrected via a backup into another body.
she realizes that she has also been turned into a cyborg but had her memory erased...
she is kept on old Alcatraz...
she somehow escapes...
she realizes that the murders are being committed by... the old machines that are jealous that they've been outdated???
and then she soothes them with her 1337 therapist skillz...
is that right?

convoluted story, great narration, interesting plotline if I got it right, and.... yeah... I dunno what to think of this one.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: deflective on November 14, 2009, 05:54:32 AM
not towards the end.  we've already talked about what happened.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Kanasta on November 14, 2009, 07:27:22 AM
This story was interesting, but kind of a big melting pot of different ideas and genres that didn't necessarily go together. Steampunk and nanotech seem like two ends of a scale to me so those elements were a bit jarring.

A few people have been confused about how the narrator escapes from Alcatraz. My understanding was that she was never really there. When she looks over at San Francisco, she notices how the flames and the skyline are a simulacrum of a particular Rorschach card and so realises that the world she's in is a creation of her mind, like a therapeutic version of the Matrix, and this snaps her out of it.
The machines with leather dildoes etc are expressions of the Posties' subconscious. Their conscous minds still all in their own little worlds, but their subconsciouses could not be fully incorporated into the Singularity, so are roaming the earth and controlling the nanotech with very weird results. This does explain a bit why the machines are quite crude, but I still find all the brass and clockwork rather out of place.

Generally, I think this could have done with being trimmed and tightened, but also, as has been previously mentioned, it's maybe not a great type of story for audio. Talking of which, I was surprised to read the comment about bad audio. I'm pretty fussy about sound quality, and have turned off some stories before due to ear pain from bad sound quality, but this one was fine to me.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Gamercow on November 14, 2009, 02:24:52 PM
higgledy.  piggledy.  Two very well placed words to describe this story.  It did not translate well to audio, and I listened to it twice to make sure.  Some SF stories intentionally confuse the reader at the beginning and then clear things up as they get into it.  This story really didn't seem to do that for me.  I also wasn't a fan of the narration, it seemed like the reader had a snarky, sarcastic tone the whole time, and I had troubles identifying who was talking, or even if the person WAS talking or simply self-talking. 



Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: cdugger on November 14, 2009, 07:51:05 PM
I'm rather confused about this statement. To each his own about my narration skills, but really, I try my best to put out a professional sounding product. What were you upset with exactly?

For me, it was 80/20 production quality/narration style. And, part of the production problems are because of the low quality mp3 file, which probably doesn't have anything to do with you. Any mp3 below 192 kbps is going to have a lot a frequency issues.

There was a lot of hiss surrounding your voice, but that may have been a file conversion issue.

The 20% on the voice centered on the minor differentiation between narration and dialogue. There was just not enough difference between the voices. Also, your voice didn't come across as crisp. Too breathy. Now, this may have been your intent. I did not listen to the whole thing, so I may have missed a reason for it later in the story.

I like your voice for readings. It is pleasant and doesn't grate on my nerves. You speak clearly and I can understand you. There are some that are just unintelligible, but you do not fall in that category. It just didn't work for this particular story. It is, however, a nice change from The Ely. He's good, but he's a he. I listen at work, all day. It's nice to hear the ladies every now and then.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Myca on November 14, 2009, 09:35:18 PM
I simply cannot possibly express how wonderful it was to come here and see that I wasn't crazy, and I wasn't the only one who found this story ... hm ... unenjoyably difficult? Far too obfuscatory? This is the very first Escape Pod I've ever fast forwarded through, and I just finished up listening my way through the entire archives a month or two back.

I don't think it was necessarily a bad story, mind you. I like Nick Mamatas' stuff, and enjoyed 'To Do List' in PC a while back. Additionally, I do enjoy some of the deliberately obfuscatory transhuman stuff with a bushel of new vocab words in each sentence, I'm just not sure how well they work as audio.

I mean, let's take the very second sentence of the story.
Quote
And there was something unknown out there, nibbling away at the edge of the economy, and screwing with the Cottrell-Cockshot tatonnements sufficiently that there’d be problems.

Cottrell-Cockshot tatonnements? Really, guys? That didn't raise any red flags? On the page, I can pause at this, Google it, and figure out what the hell is being said. In audio? Usually I'm listening on my daily bike ride. A lot of people listen on their commutes. Not really google-friendly environments. What's more, unless you hit pause and take the time, the story continues.

I thought the reading was great, though as others have said, not necessarily friendly to multiple potentially confusing POV shifts.

I think some stories may just be best left on the page. It's not a reflection on the quality of the story, mind you, I think some great stories work better in audio, and some work worse.

---Myca


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: yaksox on November 15, 2009, 06:27:44 AM
I'm glad I wasn't the only one who couldn't follow the story.

While listening, on the bus, I was thinking 'I'm a simple man, and I like simple stories'. It's possible that this story might do better if I had it on paper in front of me and I could scan back through paragraphs to get the jist of it.  Maybe this is something to think about for the team.

At least the reading was well paced.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: eytanz on November 15, 2009, 03:27:35 PM
Ok, I've stopped listening to this story about 3/4 in since I have no idea what's going on.

This isn't a criticsm of the story. I honestly have no idea if it's a good story or not, since I couldn't follow it at all. The reading - with its flat tone and voice crossing multiple viewpoints with no clear breaks between them - didn't help.

This isn't a criticsm of the reader. I believe she did the best she could with difficult material. For plenty of other stories, her reading style would have been great. Perhaps a reader who varies their voice more would have been better suited to this story, but that's not this reader's fault.

It just - well, it just didn't work. I don't know if this particular story could work as an audio podcast, but in this case, it clearly didn't.

On the positive side, I think Norm is really finding his voice here on EP. I thought his intro approached Alasdair-level of brilliance (while still very clearly being a Norm intro).


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: RoccoFan on November 16, 2009, 04:30:35 PM
I got to the last 17 mins and just couldn't justify taking the time to finish.  Can't win them all.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: CryptoMe on November 17, 2009, 12:33:58 AM
I also didn't I like this story. I listened right up to the end, and was paying attention the whole time. But I still couldn't find the plot. It seemed to be buried under too much needless detail, presented in endless clauses. By the end, I was actually finding this style infuriating. So it definitely didn't work for me.

Narration and audio quality were fine, though.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Nobilis on November 19, 2009, 07:05:43 PM
Some stories don't work in audio.

This is one of them.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Gonzo Joe on November 20, 2009, 07:57:23 AM
I guess I'm the only person here who thoroughly loved this story.

It might have something to do with the fact that I'm a James Joyce fan, so following a distinct narrative is not requisite to my enjoyment of a story.  I contend that the problems folks are having with the disconcerting PoV shifts and big money vocabulary words are a matter of taste.  Also, the criticism of the story for blending concepts from too many different sub-genres of sci-fi, while valid, is not that big a deal to me either.  Genres are useful for organization, but I would never, ever suggest that a writer limit him/herself during the process of writing a story because of genre distinctions.

As a side note, I find the fact that so many people did not enjoy this story to be particularly ironic to me as it was the first episode of Escape Pod that I listened to.  I enjoyed this story so thoroughly that Podcastle and Pseudopod have a new listener as well, and I've begun the process of pounding through the archives of all three.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: cdugger on November 20, 2009, 09:25:36 PM
I enjoyed this story so thoroughly that Podcastle and Pseudopod have a new listener as well, and I've begun the process of pounding through the archives of all three.

That happened to me, on another story.

I've spent 2 or 3 weeks listening to tons of stuff thanks to these guys. Good or bad, love it or hate it, I'm here for the duration.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Yargling on November 22, 2009, 01:58:54 PM
I really couldn't follow this one, and gave up mid way through. Maybe it was just me, but it was confusing to me.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Ocicat on November 22, 2009, 03:38:50 PM
I really couldn't follow this one, and gave up mid way through. Maybe it was just me, but it was confusing to me.

I think someone posted before reading the other comments.   :D


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: El Barto on November 22, 2009, 11:20:38 PM
All I can say is WHEW.   I worried that the commentary here would be all about how brilliantly and great and complex and meaningful the story was. 

I really tried to listen carefully and understand what was going on but it was simply not possible.   I kept thinking/hoping that there would come a point when I'd say "oohhhhhh, now I get it" but things just got worse and I have no idea how she got into Alcatraz and then how did she get out and what is the Post Office and why should I care? 

At one point I thought the idea here was that when the singularity came, everyone's subconsciousness got left behind, and was pissed about it, and somehow they organized and tried to take over?   But then it was about people sleeping and just didn't make sense.  And some group of people or entities didn't understand the Venus de Milo.  Why? 

Having found the story in print now (google uncanny valley Mamatas) I see that the different parts of the story were supposed to be told from different points of view.   Wooosh!  That's the sound of that going right over my head in the audio version.   Where was the dramatically different tone of voice to express a different identity such as the part that started "We the imps of the perverse faced not only our fleshy anima but their pet men and women and it was they who surprised us."?

On my letter grade scale I reserve F for things that are clearly and obviously and undeniably not science fiction.  This story was definitely science fiction, and I give the author credit for trying to bring a complex and interesting concept to life.   And I blame the editor(s) who failed to protect us from this story.   

I would have rather there been no story this week rather than this one.  (That may be harsh but it really was a frustrating and unpleasant experience to listen to the whole thing, almost give up a few times, and say to myself, "no, this is Escape Pod.  The story WILL get good" and then have it get worse.

Lastly, I'd like to make a pitch to the editors to please stop saying things in the intro that give away a key plot point or concept in the story.   Once the intro explained what the phrase Uncanny Valley means, I knew the story was going somehow in that direction and I didn't like it one bit.   The same thing happened a few weeks ago.  I suspect the authors don't like this either.  If they write an entire story about a concept, don't foreshadow so much n the intro.  It is unnecessary -- we are obviously going to listen to the story -- and it is unfair to the readers and the writers.  Save it for the outro!   




Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: El Barto on November 23, 2009, 08:50:57 AM
      The question then becomes, how ignorant or nonignorant should the editor assume the audience is.

      This is obviously something impossible to assume. Very tricky subject.

      The EP editor stepped down this week.

      I think I understand why, now.

       FFS, people.



I'm not sure what to make of your reply, Talia.  Are you saying that I'm ignorant for not knowing what Uncanny Valley meant? 

Are you saying that my post (or the collective feedback on what seems to be a universally disliked story) caused the editor to step down? 

Was the profanity in FFS intended for me?   

I quite intentionally wrote my post in a way that was intended to be respectful of the forum etiquette.  When I got to the part about the intro, I started it with "Lastly, I'd like to make a pitch to the editors to please stop saying things in the intro that give away a key plot point or concept in the story."   I mentioned this because by my recollection it has happened twice in the last two months and I don't remember it happening previously.

If I were the editor who selected this story and I read all of this negative feedback I'd like to think that my reaction would be to say (1) oops, I misjudged my audience's taste a good bit on this one and I'm sorry about that because I really loved the story; (2) oops, when I first read this story it was in print and I see now that it didn't translate well into audio; (3) I loved this story and still do and here's why you guys should give it another chance; or (4) we were short on stories this week and didn't want to skip a week and we put up a story we knew was weak.   

P.S.  My apologies for not being able to use the quote feature properly this morning.   THAT is undoubtedly ignorant of me.  ;)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Talia on November 23, 2009, 09:04:17 AM
I was a little grumpy last night, sorry. Decided to just remove my post.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Scattercat on November 23, 2009, 10:45:54 PM
So, um, I loved this story.  I didn't have much trouble picking up on what was happening, and even enjoyed having to think a bit.  (Mostly because of my recurrent troubles with audio processing.)

I dunno.  It was chaotic and fascinating beautiful, like a storm of superballs (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bb8P7dfjVw&fmt=18).  I was really pleased with the idea of the Singularity of the Subconscious, taking its form from the discarded and the nightmarish.  (Lots of nightmare fuel images in this one, I think.)  I enjoyed having to work to keep up with a story; it reminded me of reading Zelazny in that way.  The rapidly shifting POV and fractured narrative were excellent for creating the flavor of that half-awake splinter-state just before you fall asleep for good, hovering right on the cusp of full unconsciousness.

Again, I must ask: why is it the stories I really like that get all the hate?  Am I just that bizarre?  I don't feel that bizarre...


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: eytanz on November 24, 2009, 05:34:27 AM
I don't think this story has been getting a lot of hate - it's been getting a lot of scratched heads. It seems that most people who actually understood the story rather liked it. Personally, I don't feel I did understand it, but I certainly don't hate the story - I just don't know what to make of it.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Gonzo Joe on November 24, 2009, 07:16:33 AM
it reminded me of reading Zelazny

Now that you mention it, I think that's one of the reasons I enjoyed this story too.  It had a very New Wave feel to it, and that's my personal favorite era of S-F.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: CryptoMe on November 24, 2009, 12:35:22 PM
I don't think this story has been getting a lot of hate - it's been getting a lot of scratched heads.

I would have to disagree. I do think this story got quite a bit more "hate" than is usual for Escape Pod.
For example, El Barto writes....
I would have rather there been no story this week rather than this one. (That may be harsh but it really was a frustrating and unpleasant experience ....

And I myself found the experience rather infuriating. I almost found myself yelling at my iPod several times, but I told myself....
"no, this is Escape Pod.  The story WILL get good" and then [it got worse].
 
This is pretty unusual for Escape Pod, I think.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: El Barto on November 24, 2009, 02:19:33 PM
I've got to agree with CryptoMe.   The feedback on this story was very strongly negative in a way that seems pretty unusual for Escape Pod.   

A few people said things about this being the first Escape Pod story they reacted so negatively to.  Here are salient comments from a dozen and a half folks:


•   But mostly just seemed like it was trying too hard to be poetic and deep, and not focusing on telling a coherent story.  Got really old really quick.

•   EP gets a D- for this episode. Mod: really, stop it, I don't like the idea of giving stories grades.Mod again: woops, didn't realize this was a summation thread of other people's posts... still... well... not your fault really... um... carry on.

•   I have no idea what's going on. I get the impression that there's something a bit pretentious about it, but I can't say exactly why because, as I said, I really don't know what's happening.

•   I felt like I'd taken something, then had a freak out.   When did EP come with a bad trip?   I did not enjoy this story, did not understand this story.

•   Same here.  Not easy to follow as narrated.  I think I'll opt for something else on the commute home & wait for next week.

•   One of the few EP's that I just really really couldn't listen through.

•   This is the first EP story in a long time that was a chore to listen to… I give this story an F.  If the singularity is going to be this boring, count me out.

•   Holy cow, this was a bad story! How bad? It was so bad that the Star Trek Voyager episode "The Thaw" which was not dissimilar to it was better. Yes, I just said Star Trek Voyager didn't suck as bad as something else. I went there.

•   Sounded like a computer wrote this story. Insert random person description, insert random action, insert random room description.  And no differentiation with the voice. At 11 minutes, I stopped because I could never tell who was talking, or what they meant when they said it.   Definately one of the worst on EP.

•   Boring.  Boring.  UNBELIEVABLY boring.  I listened through the whole thing, but every two sentences or so my mind drifted off.  Couldn't make heads nor tails.  Didn't care, either.

•   There is a period of time, at the start of any tale, after which the reader should at least think they understand what is being described.  A story can then go on to puzzle, surprise or challenge the reader because he or she is following along.  This was like riding a high speed train past billboards too fast to read or make out the images.  There is an intuition that meaning is flying past you, but there is nothing to grab on to so you stop looking out the window.   Keeping with travel metaphors, this story has no on ramp, so it doesn't matter where it goes. The reader can't merge.

•   Ultimately, I found the character of Esme far too self-absorbed to give a damn about her or the rest of the story. I've read a couple of posts that say that everything comes together in the last 10 minutes, but I still have no desire to finish listening, especially if the id is really part of the explanation.

•   Some SF stories intentionally confuse the reader at the beginning and then clear things up as they get into it.  This story really didn't seem to do that for me.  I also wasn't a fan of the narration, it seemed like the reader had a snarky, sarcastic tone the whole time, and I had troubles identifying who was talking, or even if the person WAS talking or simply self-talking.

•   I simply cannot possibly express how wonderful it was to come here and see that I wasn't crazy, and I wasn't the only one who found this story ... hm ... unenjoyably difficult? Far too obfuscatory? This is the very first Escape Pod I've ever fast forwarded through, and I just finished up listening my way through the entire archives a month or two back.

•   Ok, I've stopped listening to this story about 3/4 in since I have no idea what's going on.    This isn't a criticsm of the story. I honestly have no idea if it's a good story or not, since I couldn't follow it at all. The reading - with its flat tone and voice crossing multiple viewpoints with no clear breaks between them - didn't help.

•   I got to the last 17 mins and just couldn't justify taking the time to finish.  Can't win them all.

•   Some stories don't work in audio.   This is one of them.

•   I really couldn't follow this one, and gave up mid way through. Maybe it was just me, but it was confusing to me.


As for me, I definitely didn't like it at all, but wouldn't say I hated the story.   To paraphrase an old saying, a bad day reading sci-fi beats a good day working for the man!





Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Scattercat on November 24, 2009, 07:43:39 PM
Well, *I* liked it, anyway.  All you haters, jealous of my psychosexual urges...  (I also laughed out loud at both the intro and the outro, which I thought were particularly well-sculpted this week.)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Planish on November 24, 2009, 08:17:08 PM
Could not finish it. I rewound five times to try to keep up, but it didn't work, and I only made it to about 2/3 of the way through.

I could not figure out who was talking, who was physically present, who was "real", and so on.

It took me three listens (because of the awkward wording) to figure out that Stephanie did not see her own heart burst out before she herself died, but that it was the heart of the actress. And, did the actress in real life (so to speak), or did just her character die in the context of the movie?

The monkey thing was confusing too. Was it a mind-controlled text entry interface? A mechanical windup toy on her desk? (It did go "clang-clang".) Or was it just some kind of tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Infinite Monkey Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)?

I generally like "difficult" movies, books, and music, but this was too much work.

I think the confusion apparent in the story is to be interpreted like this: What is being described here is a condition known as a "technological singularity."  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity)
Yeah, I got the sense that it was more about the Singularity, and I waited (in vain?) for the Uncanny Valley part.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Scattercat on November 24, 2009, 08:28:59 PM
The monkey thing was confusing too. Was it a mind-controlled text entry interface? A mechanical windup toy on her desk? (It did go "clang-clang".) Or was it just some kind of tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Infinite Monkey Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)?

Neither, really; it was a nanobot-controlled stress meter, with the cymbals clapping regularly when she was calm.  The kitsch-punk equivalent of describing someone's heartbeat or pulse.

Quote
Yeah, I got the sense that it was more about the Singularity, and I waited (in vain?) for the Uncanny Valley part.

The Uncanny Valley is the Post Office; they drifted a little too far from human, and their own subconsciouses (subconsciousi?) rebelled against them.


Mod: fixed quote


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: CryptoMe on November 25, 2009, 12:39:00 AM
The monkey thing was confusing too. Was it a mind-controlled text entry interface? A mechanical windup toy on her desk? (It did go "clang-clang".) Or was it just some kind of tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Infinite Monkey Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)?

Neither, really; it was a nanobot-controlled stress meter, with the cymbals clapping regularly when she was calm.  The kitsch-punk equivalent of describing someone's heartbeat or pulse.

Quote
Yeah, I got the sense that it was more about the Singularity, and I waited (in vain?) for the Uncanny Valley part.

The Uncanny Valley is the Post Office; they drifted a little too far from human, and their own subconsciouses (subconsciousi?) rebelled against them.

Wow, Scattercat! I for one am jealous of the fact that you got so much from the story. I confess, all of that went way over my head (as I said before, the busy language was too distracting, like wading through a haystack to find the needle). Thank you so much for enlightening me. You almost make me want to go back for another listen.... almost.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Talia on November 25, 2009, 01:04:16 AM
The monkey thing was confusing too. Was it a mind-controlled text entry interface? A mechanical windup toy on her desk? (It did go "clang-clang".) Or was it just some kind of tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Infinite Monkey Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)?

Neither, really; it was a nanobot-controlled stress meter, with the cymbals clapping regularly when she was calm.  The kitsch-punk equivalent of describing someone's heartbeat or pulse.

Quote
Yeah, I got the sense that it was more about the Singularity, and I waited (in vain?) for the Uncanny Valley part.

The Uncanny Valley is the Post Office; they drifted a little too far from human, and their own subconsciouses (subconsciousi?) rebelled against them.

Wow, Scattercat! I for one am jealous of the fact that you got so much from the story. I confess, all of that went way over my head (as I said before, the busy language was too distracting, like wading through a haystack to find the needle). Thank you so much for enlightening me. You almost make me want to go back for another listen.... almost.

Might I suggest tracking it down in print. I'm thinking it might work better there.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Bdoomed on November 25, 2009, 03:22:22 AM
The monkey thing was confusing too. Was it a mind-controlled text entry interface? A mechanical windup toy on her desk? (It did go "clang-clang".) Or was it just some kind of tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Infinite Monkey Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)?

Neither, really; it was a nanobot-controlled stress meter, with the cymbals clapping regularly when she was calm.  The kitsch-punk equivalent of describing someone's heartbeat or pulse.

Quote
Yeah, I got the sense that it was more about the Singularity, and I waited (in vain?) for the Uncanny Valley part.

The Uncanny Valley is the Post Office; they drifted a little too far from human, and their own subconsciouses (subconsciousi?) rebelled against them.
I got the monkey thing on the second listen, it WAS mentioned, I just glazed over it the first time...
the subconscious rebellion I didn't get until I read the thread and re-listened, I thought it was just some other force that happened to be killing people, and the Post Office was just worried and confused about it.  seemed a bit too disconnected from the main story at the time, but now knowing it was their subconscious makes more sense.

again, I liked the story, I'm with you Scattercat!


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: seanpeter on November 25, 2009, 01:42:50 PM
Wow.  I liked it.  Is it my age?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Scattercat on November 25, 2009, 07:24:50 PM
Wow, Scattercat! I for one am jealous of the fact that you got so much from the story. I confess, all of that went way over my head (as I said before, the busy language was too distracting, like wading through a haystack to find the needle). Thank you so much for enlightening me. You almost make me want to go back for another listen.... almost.

I... uh... well, you're welcome, I guess.  Glad to be a help.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Planish on November 26, 2009, 04:12:17 AM
Quote from: Scattercat
... that half-awake splinter-state just before you fall asleep for good, hovering right on the cusp of full unconsciousness.
I think the word you want (for that state) is hypnagogia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia). It's great, at times. I know I've had what felt like an OOBE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_of_body_experience) while in a hypnagogic state. It's also good for listening to early Pink Floyd, or a Laurie Anderson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_anderson) spoken word piece.

Quote from: seanpeter
Wow.  I liked it.  Is it my age?
That depends. Do you think you are younger than most of us, or much older?

On second thought, sorry. However you answer, I won't have a clue. I think if I liked it, I'd guess "older". Since I did not like it, I'd guess "younger". Probably some kind of cognitive bias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias) thing on my part. (Heh. I just learned about that phrase, and have been waiting to whip it out.)


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: seanpeter on November 26, 2009, 10:27:38 AM
planish: did you like it?  I think I'm older.  Lets say I started reading SciFi in the 60's.  I think the story used words well to push a lot of images quickly.  I actually had to listen to it three times to get it, but I was glad when I did.  I guess I enjoyed working at it.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Scattercat on November 26, 2009, 01:36:28 PM
I think the word you want (for that state) is hypnagogia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia).

Yeah, but hypnogagia sounds like a really bad trance/electronica album, whereas "half-awake splinter-state" has an internal rhyme and everything.  :-D  :-P


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: CryptoMe on November 27, 2009, 02:44:43 PM
Wow, Scattercat! I for one am jealous of the fact that you got so much from the story. I confess, all of that went way over my head (as I said before, the busy language was too distracting, like wading through a haystack to find the needle). Thank you so much for enlightening me. You almost make me want to go back for another listen.... almost.

Might I suggest tracking it down in print. I'm thinking it might work better there.

Thanks for the suggestion Talia. I tracked down a print version and slogged through that, but still came away with pretty much the same opinion. Sure, I could skim through the over-the-top descriptive parts faster in print, but there were still way too many of those (IMHO) and I could never really be sure if I was missing something important in all those details.

So, I must conclude that this particular writing style really didn't work for me, in audio or in print.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Yargling on November 27, 2009, 03:32:42 PM
I really couldn't follow this one, and gave up mid way through. Maybe it was just me, but it was confusing to me.

I think someone posted before reading the other comments.   :D

5 pages of comments and, after now having read alittle on this current page, they are full of hate for this story. Fair enough, I'm not the only one, heh.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Unblinking on January 19, 2010, 12:50:37 PM
I didn't follow this one in the slightest.  I'm glad I wasn't the only one!  Confusion at the beginning can work really well, like in His Master's Voice it took me a while to get grounded, but that was half the fun in that one and my brain gradually approached understanding the situation while I enjoyed the voice and the partially understood events of the story.  Here I started confused and stayed confused (and am still confused).


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: LaShawn on January 21, 2010, 12:37:39 PM
A few thoughts immediately after hearing it.

1. Huh?
2. Any story involving psychologists must have some deeper underlayer to it that needs to unravel over and over again...
3. What?
4. I do want to sit down and pick it apart in a print copy.
5. Huuuuuuh?!
6. It did seem a bit pretentious, but maybe it was meant that way? After all, it does involve the subconscious.
7. I...huh? What? Huuuuuuuh???!!!

I guess to me, this was a written version of Neon Genesis Evangelion The Movie. Lots of technobabble, lots of weird images, and afterwards, I only had a vague idea of what just happened. Kind of like being assaulted by invisible pink elephants wearing bikinis. You're sure it happened, but you're not sure how...

Luckily for Mr. Mamatas, I happen to be a sucker for those kind of stories. I rather have this kind of story that makes me want to go back and reread to figure out what happened, than a story that is predicatable, lazy and instantly forgettable.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: robertmarkbram on March 22, 2010, 02:32:03 AM
I didn't understand this story. Subconsciously I think it made me angry, but I'm not sure. Why is there cat food on my desk?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Lietsjie on March 31, 2010, 03:31:55 PM

I am new to Escape Pod and are enjoying the archives from the most recent one released. Must say I am surprised at all the negative comments for 'Uncanny Valley'. I will agree that it is a difficult story and I would also like to see it in print but I have to say that I loved it. I loved it enough to look up the author and put his books on my to-read list.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: goatkeeper on March 31, 2010, 06:25:09 PM

I am new to Escape Pod and are enjoying the archives from the most recent one released. Must say I am surprised at all the negative comments for 'Uncanny Valley'. I will agree that it is a difficult story and I would also like to see it in print but I have to say that I loved it. I loved it enough to look up the author and put his books on my to-read list.

Nick's book of shorts You Might Sleep is great.  You'll enjoy I'm sure.


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Lietsjie on April 01, 2010, 01:03:16 AM

Nick's book of shorts You Might Sleep is great.  You'll enjoy I'm sure.

Thanks, I will get hold of it  :) Have you read any of his novels?


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: Fenrix on February 23, 2012, 07:23:17 PM
Again, I must ask: why is it the stories I really like that get all the hate?  Am I just that bizarre?  I don't feel that bizarre...

You're bizarre. You write stories including toilet octopi (http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=4794.0).


Title: Re: EP223: The Uncanny Valley
Post by: mgraves on December 10, 2015, 04:32:10 PM
A few days ago someone tipped me to a short video trailer called "The Uncanny Valley." I was certain that I'd heard that phrase before.

https://vimeo.com/147365861 (https://vimeo.com/147365861)

In fact, it was one of the very first Escape Pod episodes that I'd heard. Has it been that long. Yes, it has. I must sleep now.

Michael