Escape Artists

Pseudopod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: Bdoomed on November 20, 2009, 02:25:13 AM

Title: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Bdoomed on November 20, 2009, 02:25:13 AM
Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected (http://pseudopod.org/2009/11/20/pseudopod-169-the-disconnected/)


By David Steffen (http://www.diabolicalplots.com/)
Read by Rich Sigfrit (http://www.pulpadventures.net/)

“I’m glad you volunteered tonight. I’m not sure I’m ready to go solo again quite yet.” Tim pointed at a nasty welt on his own neck before he popped the neck brace in place. “This gear saved my life, but it still hurts to swallow.”

He pushed the inner door open with a click. They stood at one end of a long hallway, lined with glass rooms, most occupied by leashed Disconnected. Before they started Tim’s rounds, they did a quick walk through of the facility, which was just more hallways of glass rooms, all on one level. Some of the Disconnected looked out at them. Others were sleeping, or eating.

“All Disconnected present and accounted for,” Tim said.

“See, Harken?” the chief said. “There’s no way it could have been a Disconnected.”

“You’re probably right, Chief.”

They walked back to the staging room to grab Tim’s cleaning cart.

“Why are all the Disconnected naked?” Harken asked.

“You want to put clothes on them? They’d never stay clean, then. I’d have to sedate them to dress and undress them, and what would be the point?”

“I suppose you’re right…” It just seemed so disrespectful. Each of them had been a person once, with a family.


Check out this author’s list of favorite Pseudopod episodes (http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=848), replete with links to each one in our archives.


(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif)
Listen to this week's Pseudopod. (http://media.rawvoice.com/pseudopod/media.libsyn.com/media/pseudopod/Pseudo169_TheDisconnected.mp3)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Bdoomed on November 20, 2009, 02:25:49 AM
okay first of all, YAY for Steffen's story finally coming out, and second of all, started listening and I'm loving this idea so far! :)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on November 20, 2009, 10:00:11 AM
A couple plugs that I wanted to share with you guys that I thought would be in the intro:

1.  If you liked this story, you might want to check the Shadows of the Emerald City anthology, published by Northern Frights Press.  It's an anthology of horror stories inspired by The Wizard of Oz.  My story "The Utility of Love" is a reimagining of Dorothy's original journey to Oz, but the Tin Man, in this incarnation, is a near-indestructible heartless assassin.  He's not cruel, exactly, but purely pragmatic, only considering how his actions will benefit himself.  Dorothy tries to teach him about the concept of "love".  The anthology got a 5 out of 5 rating from Apex Book, and has received reviews that are consistently positive.
You can order it here:
http://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Emerald-City-James-Schnarr/dp/0973483717/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258729123&sr=8-1

2.  I co-edit a zine called Diabolical Plots.  Besides the "Best of Pseudopod" post mentioned in the intro, Anthony Sullivan and I provide regular nonfiction content, including reviews, editorials, and interviews related to the field of speculative fiction.  We've had quite a run of guests so far, including David Farland, Cat Rambo, Jeremy C. Shipp, Nick Rose, and Nancy Kress.  Our upcoming guests include Tad Williams, John Joseph Adams, and--this just in as of this morning--Anne Rice.  If you have any guests you'd like to see, drop me a line and we'll see what we can do.  Come check it out!
http://www.diabolicalplots.com
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: MacArthurBug on November 23, 2009, 02:28:39 PM
EEW! and odd. I knew cellphones would take over the world.. I just knew it.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: nathonicus on November 23, 2009, 04:13:38 PM
I have to say, this one didn't feel quite as well thought out as it should be.  I can't really buy this version of the future, as it seems that it couldn't come about without selectively forgetting large portions of neuroscience and the constitution. 

It reminds me of a story I once read about a world in which a global event had caused the sudden development of telepathy in the world's populace. This had the effect of stopping most violent acts, as the one doing the violence felt the hurt of the victim. A minority of people did not develop psychic powers, and were shunned and feared because of their distance from the rest. 
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: RedArrow on November 23, 2009, 09:14:36 PM
EEW! and odd. I knew cellphones would take over the world.. I just knew it.

Most definitely!!
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Sandikal on November 23, 2009, 10:55:32 PM
I know that there is a lot of crossover between the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres.  However, this seemed to be more pure science fiction than horror.  Yeah, the gore was pretty gory, but the whole premise and how it played out was straight out of science fiction.  I almost forgot which EA I was listening to.

For the record, science fiction is my first love and this was first-rate science fiction.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: kristin on November 24, 2009, 01:40:07 AM
I thought it was okay. I wish I knew more about the phones. Did he have to cut the person's ear off? Was it something kinda internal in the ear, or was it external, kinda like a blue tooth. I also didn't think it was too scary.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: kurtgw on November 24, 2009, 05:17:25 PM

More sci-fi than horror.  (Yeah, I know,  the horror is in an inhumane system that doesn't respect people -- I deal with state agencies in RL, so I guess I'm jaded to it now.)

That said I liked it a lot. An intriguing take on dystopia.   Baba reminded me of Equality 7-2521 in Ayn Rand's Anthem.  I guess this is "Anthem" meets Verizon Wireless....
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: melopoiea on November 25, 2009, 12:04:29 PM
I really disliked the voicing on this one. The story was an interesting concept, but rather exaggerated.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: wakela on November 25, 2009, 06:26:15 PM
For the record, I think this was definitely more SF than horror.

Either the phones are a natural extension of modern cell phones, or this is a distopian alternate reality where the state mandates that people are plugged in.  The latter seems like a pretty big leap to me, and IIRC there isn't anything in the story to support it.  But if it's the former, I think we would see more changes in the way people communicate.  As it stands, it's like normal modern society plus flying cars and everyone can talk to each other.  But I would expect that at this level of technology they would be able to do all sorts of other things.  What apps are these guys running on their superphones?

I think there would be some interesting complexity in exploring the benefits of these phones.  Why does everyone get connected? 

I don't want to imply that I didn't like it, thought.  I thought it was pretty engaging.  But I think it could be fleshed out a little.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: heyes on November 28, 2009, 07:31:43 AM
I enjoyed listening to this story, but I also agree that maybe this could have been better showcased at escapepod. I think two things outside of the story really helped me dig it: 1 - I'm currently replaying Silent Hill: Origins, 2 - I do direct care for folks that used to live in a non-criminal institution.  I loved the frustration of trying to develop a language.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on November 28, 2009, 10:53:54 PM
Thanks for the feedback everybody, including those who didn't like it as much.  This forum is one of the reasons I really like Escape Artists.  :)

As for whether this was better suited for Escape Pod, I think it could fit well there too, but it was also horror for me because of the way this society treated the Disconnected.

kristin:  The question of what the phones looked like, I intended them to be very similar to a Bluetooth headset in size and shape, with some kind of extension that went in the ear to interface with the brain.  Severing the phone does not require severing from the ear, but the cut would have to be enough to slice a portion of the phone off to kill it and separate it from the ear.

wakela:  You could either view it as a possible future or an alternate reality.  I'd probably lean more towards the former, but I don't think there was anything in the text which mandated one or the other.

And again, I do appreciate the feedback!
,David
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Scattercat on November 29, 2009, 02:35:38 AM
The concept was interesting, but a few things kept bothering me.

1) While I can grok judging people by what they can afford and I can even grok having an underclass of Have-Nots whom the technological Haves look down upon as subhuman, what I have a hard time grokking is the point of view - apparently shared by everyone in the world - that person + phone = real person, but that same person - phone = subhuman.  Given that human beings still apparently reproduce the normal way and don't seem to have forgotten any other major cultural touchstones (there's still single mothers buying groceries, for Pete's sake!) then how has everyone forgotten what the brain is and how it works?

2) A planet, apparently still bustling in the future, with only one hundred "disabled" people living on the entire world?  Man, no matter how they treat those hundred folks, sign me up for THAT cultural advance.

3) There's still concepts of sympathy and etc., as witness the caretaker's idea of legislation which will fund research to reattach phones to the poor deprived Disconnected.  So why hasn't anyone noticed that the Disconnected are, um, caged, chained, rolling in their own filth, and fed gruel?  We used to treat insane people that way, sure, nearly a hundred years ago.  How is it that society has stayed so nice and orderly and reasonable except for this one enormous gaping flaw?  We currently treat brain-dead individuals who literally can't breathe without outside assistance better than the phoneless wretches in this story, and those people were at least of "animal" intelligence.

4) So, um, at the end the pregnant lady goes off to... well, the only thing I can imagine happening is her rapid recapture and the abortion of her child.  She has no resources, no allies, and no plans.  If she doesn't die in childbirth, then how exactly is she going to manage to live?  Sure, she's got half-invisibility in that people don't tend to look with their eyes anymore, but that only goes so far, especially when an infant starts squalling.  I got the feeling I was supposed to feel a wash of happiness at the True and Natural Woman heading off into the sunset with that evergreen symbol of new hope, a pregnancy.  However, because I wasn't able to quite get a handle on the mindset this "new society" represented, all I really saw was some poor deprived woman off to live a short and brutish life of starvation and fear. 

Frankly, the phones just weren't scary on their own, not without the weird, out-of-place brutality with which the Disconnected were treated.  I think having that sort of automatic empathy would generally be a positive thing, or at least morally neutral.  The "evilness" of the networked society felt forced and somewhat tacked on.  I would have much preferred a piece that simply explored what it was like to be a part of that network and then lose that connection than I did this story, which seemed intent on proving how eeeeevil the phones were without much actual evidence for it.

---

I started to go on for like two or three pages about privacy and democracy and empathy and groupthink, but then I realized that no one else cares that much, so just leave it that I think there's an awful lot of thematic meat here that wasn't cooked up to my taste (and had a weird foreign spice on it that I had to mask with lots of ketchup.)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on November 29, 2009, 11:14:34 AM
Thanks for your detailed comments, Scattercat.  A few responses (if you're interested).

Regarding #1 and #3, those are definitely the biggest believability issues that may cause problems with suspension of disbelief.  I can understand how they wouldn't work for you.

Regarding #2, the reason there's such a small number of Disconnected is partially because of the unlikeliness of having your phone severed without actually dying in the process.  Injury by accident is quite rare--if it's a preventable accident, then another Connected will generally see it coming and chip in to try to prevent it.  Murder and assault are even rarer, because the victim will see it coming, and so will everyone else.  Disconnection generally only happens in freak accidents, and those accidents must sever the phone without killing the person.  As it is, many of the disconnected have actual brain damage caused by the same incident that caused the severing of the phone.

Regarding #4, I didn't at all intend for Topi's escape to be an unblemished ray of hope.  Her survival is in no way certain.  If she does survive child birth, then I don't think continued survival is impossible at all.  No one knows a Disconnected is on the loose, and so no one is watching for her.  Even if they did catch her before the birth, they would not abort the baby.  What they would do is allow her to carry it to term, take the child away from her, attach a phone, and give it to foster parents. Even if she is recaptured, she may be able to make a difference if she is able to convince them she is not all that different from them. 
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: wakela on November 29, 2009, 06:34:07 PM
The concept was interesting, but a few things kept bothering me.

2) A planet, apparently still bustling in the future, with only one hundred "disabled" people living on the entire world?  Man, no matter how they treat those hundred folks, sign me up for THAT cultural advance.

3) There's still concepts of sympathy and etc., as witness the caretaker's idea of legislation which will fund research to reattach phones to the poor deprived Disconnected.  So why hasn't anyone noticed that the Disconnected are, um, caged, chained, rolling in their own filth, and fed gruel?  We used to treat insane people that way, sure, nearly a hundred years ago.  How is it that society has stayed so nice and orderly and reasonable except for this one enormous gaping flaw?  We currently treat brain-dead individuals who literally can't breathe without outside assistance better than the phoneless wretches in this story, and those people were at least of "animal" intelligence.

2)Yes.  For a horror story, this society seems like a utopia.  Transparent too, since they can listen in on the cops.  Count me in.

3)Good point.  Modern western society treats animals better than these guys treated the disconnected.  But we don't treat humans suspected of being terrorists better.  I wonder what would happen if there was a perceived threat from the disconnected.  But, IMHO a metaphor for Abu Ghraib would be less interesting than exploring how these phones change society, so you would want to avoid that.

Also, when it's not for punishment, expense is usually the reason why some class of people gets poor treatment.  But it seems that supporting 100 people would be a pretty small burden for this society, especially when their law enforcement costs are so low.

David, I don't want to come off as telling you how to write your story.  You're the published author, not me.  I just enjoy riffing with the world you made.  And forgive me if there were details in the story that negate my points.  I listened to it a while ago. 
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on November 29, 2009, 06:50:46 PM
David, I don't want to come off as telling you how to write your story.  You're the published author, not me.  I just enjoy riffing with the world you made.  And forgive me if there were details in the story that negate my points.  I listened to it a while ago. 

I'm not offended at all! I'm enjoying the discussion, and I think it's cool that enough people had a reaction to the story to have something to discuss.  At some markets, once you post the story you have no idea how it's being received or if anyone read it at all.  But here, I know that people are listening to the story, and are willing to share their reactions to it.  I write because I want to share my stories with others, and talking about the story with you is quite fun.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: RedArrow on November 29, 2009, 07:25:46 PM

 Transparent too, since they can listen in on the cops.  Count me in.


This was something I had an issue with.  Trust me, it's never a good idea.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Scattercat on November 30, 2009, 12:51:56 PM
Regarding #4, I didn't at all intend for Topi's escape to be an unblemished ray of hope. 

Oh, I understand that part.  What I was trying to say was that because I couldn't see any reason why the phones were bad per se, I found Topi's situation to be sad rather than noble.  That is, I was really hoping she'd be found and at least given food and shelter instead of trying to raise an infant without any resources at all.  The baby, in particular, would have a really pleasant and wonderful life in this near-utopia once it had its phone, and it made Topi seem cruel and selfish (in that special way unique to parents) that she was fleeing this better life because of her own anger at her treatment.  She's denying her child health, safety, and membership in society and condemning it to the same brutality she experienced, all because... well, because she doesn't like phones very much, I guess.  (Yes, yes, the torment etc., but as I said, that part didn't really click for me because there was no real justification for it.)

Now, it occurs to me that an explanation for the way the Disconnected are treated AND a way to increase the "Ick, ew, scary!" factor of the phones would be if it were made more clear that the phones are an alien parasite/symbiote and the instinctive revulsion toward the Disconnected is related to the fact that the alien beings are sentient enough to recognize non-phone-having humans as a potential threat toward their domination of the planet.  That is, they don't want their free ride disrupted by humans realizing they have a choice about using the phones, and so they've modified human thought such that humans no longer recognize non-phoned humans as fully human.  This would also explain how humanity managed to forget that we were perfectly capable of living and communicating before the phones existed, not to mention forgetting how to speak entirely.

However, this really wasn't in the story, other than the mild hints that the phones are vaguely organic.  I think someone used the word "symbiosis" at some point.  But because we never see the phones acting or influencing people, it's hard to see this in the story at all.  Like, I'd think that people who once had phones and no longer do might have had some thought about how much easier it was to think, about the things they now realized and remembered which they never thought of before.  Maybe a description of what a phone looked like and a thought of, "My God!  I had THAT hanging off of me?  And I *liked* it?  I must have been mind-controlled!"  If you were intending to communicate this, well... I missed it until I'd sat and thought from first principles about how to make the phones "bad" in and of themselves. 
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: lowky on November 30, 2009, 05:00:56 PM
actually i got the impression that those with phones were connected constantly, more like the borg, almost a hive mind kind of thing.  it wasn't just a phone in the sense you can call someone when you want to talk, but that everyone is aware of each other constantly.  Hence being aware if someone was approaching without a phone.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Jim Bihyeh on November 30, 2009, 07:33:06 PM
I just listened to "The Disconnected" this morning on the way to work.

Did anyone else get a neat Aldous Huxley-meets-Peter Gabriel's "The Flood" ?

If you haven't heard Gabriel's song, check it out. A lot of those ideas rang in the chamber while I listened to "The Disconnected."

Of course, in this story the "flood" is brought on by technological fascination and eventual choices that are taken out of the hands of the unborn, whereas in Gabriel's reality - where people are "a thousand minds within a flash" - the tragedy is brought on almost by evolutionary accident.

Any similar reactions


 
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: wakela on November 30, 2009, 08:17:20 PM
I just listened to "The Disconnected" this morning on the way to work.

Did anyone else get a neat Aldous Huxley-meets-Peter Gabriel's "The Flood" ?

If you haven't heard Gabriel's song, check it out. A lot of those ideas rang in the chamber while I listened to "The Disconnected."

Of course, in this story the "flood" is brought on by technological fascination and eventual choices that are taken out of the hands of the unborn, whereas in Gabriel's reality - where people are "a thousand minds within a flash" - the tragedy is brought on almost by evolutionary accident.

Any similar reactions


 
I was a huge P-Gabe in high school, so I'm well acquainted with The Flood, but I always took it to refer to nuclear war.  "as the nails sunk in the clouds the rain was warm and washed the ground."  I thought the thousand minds were lost in the flash, but I just re-read the lyrics and they are not particularly straightforward.  Do you see it more as a song about the Singularity, or whatever they would have called the Singularity back then?
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: cdugger on December 01, 2009, 07:49:49 PM
Ya know, I was able to just sit back and enjoy this story.

I listen to a bunch of EP stuff all day at work. Quite honestly, most of the PseudoPod stuff just isn't all that good. Yesterday had a couple. Today had a couple. This was one of them.

Whatever problems there were with the story can be easily overlooked if you just want to hear a good story. If your goal is to "get something" from a story, you're not having fun.

Good job, David. I enjoyed it.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on December 01, 2009, 08:14:08 PM
Ya know, I was able to just sit back and enjoy this story.

I listen to a bunch of EP stuff all day at work. Quite honestly, most of the PseudoPod stuff just isn't all that good. Yesterday had a couple. Today had a couple. This was one of them.

Whatever problems there were with the story can be easily overlooked if you just want to hear a good story. If your goal is to "get something" from a story, you're not having fun.

Good job, David. I enjoyed it.

I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for posting!
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: podes on December 03, 2009, 04:11:33 AM
Did anyone think "BladeRunner" or should I say "Do feathersticks dream of Electric Sheep" (that was the name of the title wasn’t it?)

Anyway to comment on does the story belong to horror.

My answer, I usually listen to these stories in bed while fading off to sleep. If the story keeps me up, then it passes the test.

This story kept me up in a cold sweat. Hearing how the guy's last actions went towards protecting his partner and baby while doing the hand rocking motion striked hard into me as I gazed over at my wife lying beside me with her huge bump.

So to the guys who thought it was more dystopia rather then horror, I challenge you to listen to this story 5-8 months into your partner's pregnancy, you will see this story in a whole new light trust me.

And that’s to the author for its creation.

cheers
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Jim Bihyeh on December 03, 2009, 09:52:53 PM

I was a huge P-Gabe in high school, so I'm well acquainted with The Flood, but I always took it to refer to nuclear war.  "as the nails sunk in the clouds the rain was warm and washed the ground."  I thought the thousand minds were lost in the flash, but I just re-read the lyrics and they are not particularly straightforward.  Do you see it more as a song about the Singularity, or whatever they would have called the Singularity back then?
[/quote]

I always thought "The Flood" was an event where the entire human population becomes telepathic and can no longer use deception or guile. And how strange and frightening that would be...

I couldn't remember the exact wording of how Peter Gabriel phrased the meaning of The Flood, but I tracked it down elsewhere:

"When I wrote this song [Here Comes The Flood] I had an obsession with short-wave radio and I was always amazed at the way in which the radio signals would become stronger as daylight faded. I felt as if psychic energy levels would also increase in the night. I had had an apocalyptic dream in which the psychic barriers which normally prevent us from seeing into each others' thoughts had been completely eroded producing a mental flood. Those that had been used to having their innermost thoughts exposed would handle this torrent and those inclined to concealment would drown in it." ('Peter Gabriel' by Armando Gallo, Omnibus Press, 1986.)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Bdoomed on December 04, 2009, 02:53:26 AM
I always thought "The Flood" was an event where the entire human population becomes telepathic and can no longer use deception or guile.
I always thought The Flood was a parasitic race and the reason for the construction for the Halo Rings...
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: PodcastingsRichSigfrit on December 04, 2009, 09:17:56 AM
Thanks for listening everyone.  I felt with the bouncing of the sane characters to the "insane" characters, a different type of reading was warranted.  It was experimental and I feel it adds a little something to a good story.

I'm glad you guys enjoyed it and I think David did a tremendous job writing it.  I hope to read more of his work!
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: DKT on December 04, 2009, 12:22:12 PM
Congrats, David  :D

I liked it - especially pushing the limit of cellphones and being connected All The Time, and the dangers that could bring. I'd like to hear more about the dangers of the Connected being connected all the time, but I liked this story enough anyway. Maybe that can be in the sequel?

Annnnnnnnnd, now you guys have made me want to go listen to Peter Gabriel.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Alasdair5000 on December 04, 2009, 12:48:17 PM
You KNOW it makes sense.  Oh regarding Here Comes the Flood?  Firstly it's one of the best things he's ever done, ever (There's a reason it tends to be wheeled out for 'And now you will be sad' scenes in TV shows) and secondly I always associated it with the John Wyndham, Kraken Wakes, gradual collapse of society type of catastrophe.  The telepathic idea Jim mentioned sounds awesome though:)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Loz on December 06, 2009, 07:22:08 AM
I did enjoy this story, even though I couldn't quite see why it was a Pseudopod story rather than an EP one. As I'm a bigger science-fiction and fantasy fan than I am a horror fan I think that made me well-disposed towards it despite what I saw as a flaw, yes all the connected people were a little dumb but a good proportion of people are anyway. I was more offended by the 'a phone for popular people' ad that Alasdair talked about than the future society. Constant horizontal-level surveillance wiping out crime to the degree that a big city only needs a few dozen cops? Sounds pretty good to me.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Fenrix on December 07, 2009, 11:11:39 AM
One of the examples of the casual denigration of the disconnected that spoke the loudest to me was the locking mechanism on the doors. As if they're too savage to even bother with keeping people out. How something outside the room could never be a threat.

The one thing that left me wondering at the end of the story is what Topi's plan was. It seemed as if she had an idea of what to do that she was unable to either communicate to or convince Baba of.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on December 16, 2009, 12:23:52 PM
Congrats, David  :D

I liked it - especially pushing the limit of cellphones and being connected All The Time, and the dangers that could bring. I'd like to hear more about the dangers of the Connected being connected all the time, but I liked this story enough anyway. Maybe that can be in the sequel?

Annnnnnnnnd, now you guys have made me want to go listen to Peter Gabriel.

I wouldn't mind writing a sequel to this one to show what happens to Topi, though I do like the open ending to let people extrapolate her fate themselves.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: David Steffen on December 16, 2009, 12:25:54 PM
Did anyone think "BladeRunner" or should I say "Do feathersticks dream of Electric Sheep" (that was the name of the title wasn’t it?)

Anyway to comment on does the story belong to horror.

My answer, I usually listen to these stories in bed while fading off to sleep. If the story keeps me up, then it passes the test.

This story kept me up in a cold sweat. Hearing how the guy's last actions went towards protecting his partner and baby while doing the hand rocking motion striked hard into me as I gazed over at my wife lying beside me with her huge bump.

So to the guys who thought it was more dystopia rather then horror, I challenge you to listen to this story 5-8 months into your partner's pregnancy, you will see this story in a whole new light trust me.

And that’s to the author for its creation.

cheers


I'm glad the story had it's intended effect for you!  Seriously, twas a very cool comment.

And thanks to everyone who's listened and commented.  I'm proud for Pseudopod to be the home of my first fiction sale, and hopefully many more to come.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Unblinking on May 01, 2010, 11:04:06 PM
I just got notification that The Disconnected was accepted for an anthology of Minnesota-based speculative fiction writers, put out by Sam's Dot Publishing.  This will be the first time this story has appeared in text.  I'll post more details when I know them.   ;D
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Unblinking on May 18, 2010, 10:28:18 AM
Apparently we, as a group, have had good luck with Escape Artists, I recognize 4 of the 20 in the ToC as stories that have run in Escape Artists, (#s 1, 3, 5, 20, if I remember correctly), as well as familiar authors like Joel Arnold.

1.  Kissing Frogs -- Jaye Lawrence

 2.  Three Views of the Maiden in Peril -- Catherine Lundoff

 3.  The Desires of Houses -- Haddayr Copley-Woods

 4.  Come and Catch Me, Henry -- Jason D. Wittman

 5.  The Disconnected -- David Steffen

 6.  The Leviathan’s Teeth -- Kelly Barnhill

 7.  Dinosaurs of the Great Depression -- Damian Sheridan

 8.  Garbage Man -- R. Scott McCoy

 9.  Guess Who's Coming to Gotterdammerung -- Terry Faust

10. Bright, Bright City Lights -- Lyda Morehouse

11. Can't Stop, Won't -- Carrie Devall

12. At The Edge Of Twilight, Melissa Remembers Flight -- Michael Merriam *

13. Daedalus -- Patrick Sullivan

14. Sabine Baring-Gould and the Werewolf -- Roy C. Booth

15. Oh, Hell -- Britt Aamodt

16. The Question -- Sharon Hanson

17. Narcissus in Links -- Joel Arnold

18. The Radiator Burped -- Abra Staffin-Wiebe

19. The Robber King And The Blood Orange Tree -- Maggie Della Rocca

20. Run of the Fiery Horse -- Hilary Moon Murphy
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Millenium_King on June 01, 2010, 06:36:24 PM
I agree with most of the sentiments above: this one was very sci-fi and not so much horror.  I think someone pointed out that, aside from the gore, there wasn’t really any horror in it.  I would say I have to agree.  I would furthermore say that the gore was somewhat unnecessary: when Baba was crushed by the car, was there a need to get all POV with the woman driver?  Was there a need to get all Red Asphalt with the description?  I didn’t think so.  The sickening sound of a car bumping over flesh is sufficiently disturbing – the description made it seem a little cartoonish.

The language was alright, though a little flaccid and not interesting on its own.  But the pace was good and it did not have a long, slow buildup (“The Blessed Days” anyone?).

All that being said, I did not have the trouble others seem to have had with integrating in with the world.  The story, like Star Trek or Twilight Zone (or most good sci-fi) is really more of an allegory or warning.  The phones seemed like implants to me, maybe even partially biological ones.  The fact that they were not well described or explained, I think, is irrelevant: they served well as plot devices.

I usually caution against multiple POVs, but I thought this one was alright.  It was a little disconcerting in audio to switch around a lot, but it was easy enough to follow if one paid attention.

This was an idea I swear I’d seen before, but then again...  I can’t think of where, so maybe this is just a story which I will describe as “Why didn’t someone think of it before?!”  Which is to say that the idea seemed so obvious – but not unoriginal.

Again, I just looked at this one as an allegory a little more than “realistic” or “hard sci-fi” – has anyone ever seen the ST:TOS episodes “The Mark of Gideon” or “Let that be your Last Battlefield?”  Are they totally realistic?  No.  But do they have a lot to say about our society?  Yes.  This was the same way.  Maybe humans are animical to being “plugged in” to this degree – but as more and more people obsess over ephemeral facebook friends or text-message drama, this serves as an interesting signpost of what’s to come – if maybe not a warning.

Anyway, I think this might have been more at home at Escape Pod.  It fails at horror, but definitely succeeds as a story.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Ben Phillips on June 02, 2010, 04:25:26 PM
Was there a need to get all Red Asphalt with the description?  I didn’t think so.  The sickening sound of a car bumping over flesh is sufficiently disturbing – the description made it seem a little cartoonish.

I'll take the blame for that one.  I don't ask for many edits from anyone, but I asked for more there.  And I enjoyed it.  And I'd do it again.

Anyway, I think this might have been more at home at Escape Pod.  It fails at horror, but definitely succeeds as a story.

Succeeding as a story is priority one around here.  I'll try to pitch closer to the strike zone when it comes to genre, though, since I know we're pretty fast and loose with genre boundaries -- and always will be, but I can bear it in mind a bit more.

- the editor
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Millenium_King on June 02, 2010, 05:11:54 PM
No big deal, Ben.  Don't take me too seriously.  This was an excellent story, and maybe it just didn't hit the horror buttons with me.

(Besides, I'm pretty sure you know who I am and, really, do I have room to talk with the genre thing?)
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Unblinking on June 02, 2010, 05:29:31 PM
I thought the story was improved by the more vivid description, myself.  The original one was a bit bland for what was happening.  And of course I'm completely impartial.   ::)

For genre boundaries, I like that there are no cracks between the podcasts that stories can fall through.  I'd rather have overlapping definitions than to have gaps between, such that an otherwise amazing story is too horror for Escape Pod but too science fiction for Pseudopod and thus is rejected from both.  It would've been a big loss if Eugie Foster's "Oranges, Lemons, and Thou Beside Me" had fallen into such a gap, for instance.

-the author   ;D
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Millenium_King on June 02, 2010, 06:08:22 PM
Yeah, actually the more I think of it the more I think I need to be a little less obsessed about "Is it horror?"  If "it's good" - then, that's all that matters.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Nitequill on June 04, 2010, 01:45:07 AM
Ouch! I am loath to be critical of a generous effort by people I am sure are all giving thier best but it seems negative response are not considered outré here so I'll say it: I had to bail on this one but quickly! What was with all the silly voices? In the good old days readers could do all the dialog in thier natural voice and count on the writing and the audience to distinguish the speakers.

The beginning bit I did listen to was pretty much a data dump... expository dialog with no character motivation or action - maybe that is what inspired the reader to do his wild puppet show reading. It was like listening to a future crime story performed by the Manger Babies ;) Sorry, that was too mean.

For me at least just read the text and don't attempt to act it like a full cast production.

I find a funny lisping hysterical falsetto for female characters as offensive as I find it annoying... do that one thing and you've lost me.
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Unblinking on September 04, 2010, 12:23:35 PM
The Disconnected is now available for the first time in text, in an anthology by Sam's Dot Publishing titled "Northern Lights:  20 MinnSpec Tales".  It includes several other stories and authors familiar to Escape Artists fans, like Hilary Moon Murphy's Run of the Fiery Horse, and a story by Joel Arnold:

http://www.genremall.com/anthologiesr.htm#northernlights

Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Millenium_King on September 08, 2010, 02:16:19 AM
As soon as my new credit card comes in the mail, I'm going to order one.  I'll do a review too.  Need something new to read!
Title: Re: Pseudopod 169: The Disconnected
Post by: Unblinking on September 08, 2010, 08:17:33 AM
As soon as my new credit card comes in the mail, I'm going to order one.  I'll do a review too.  Need something new to read!

Great!  I hope you enjoy it!