Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: eytanz on October 21, 2010, 11:19:54 AM



Title: EP263: Fuel
Post by: eytanz on October 21, 2010, 11:19:54 AM
EP263: Fuel (http://escapepod.org/2010/10/21/ep263-fuel/)

By Matthew S. Rotundo (http://matthewsrotundo.livejournal.com/)
Read by Dave Thompson (http://www.podcastle.org/)

First appeared in Cosmos (http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/2674/full)

---

The third quarter report cards came out Thursday, and for Jamie, the timing couldn’t have been worse. The Nike man was coming over that night to sell his brother some new blood.

He took his time walking home from Gilder Middle School, weaving past cracks in the sidewalk and mud puddles left behind by the spring thaw. His pace slowed further as he turned onto Willow Avenue and saw his house, second on the left, a red brick ranch with spidery ivy growing up the east side. Old leaves, fallen tree branches, and other detritus left over from the winter littered the front yard. As he neared, he noted with dismay his father’s car already in the driveway.

“Damn.” Jamie trudged across the yard and let himself in the front door with his keycard.

Dad was at the hall closet, hanging up his overcoat. He stood just under two meters tall; a navy blue business suit wrapped his muscled frame. He beamed when he saw Jamie. “Hey there, kiddo. How was school today?”

“You’re home early,” Jamie said.

“Need to get ready for the presentation tonight. And I’d like you to clean up the front yard. Make sure you use the dirt rake to get up that thatch. Will you do that for me?”

Jamie opened his mouth to protest, but thought the better of it. “Sure,” he said. He unslung his backpack and headed for the stairs.

“Oh. By the way.” Dad fished in a suit pocket and produced a folded piece of paper. “I got this in my email today.” He opened the paper.


Rated PG For a wee bit of swearing, sibling rivalry, and parents who don’t appreciate a smart son.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 255: Variations on a Theme.
  • It’s our first full-text story! Read OR listen to it! We’ll have the epub version ready for download in the next few days.
  • Next week… Halloween episode!


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Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://traffic.libsyn.com/escapepod/263_EP263__Fuel.mp3)


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: wintermute on October 21, 2010, 06:51:44 PM
So.... what was Jason's payoff? Scott loses the race, Jason gets in trouble, and then...? How does this help him to pursue academic interests?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: eytanz on October 22, 2010, 07:11:13 AM
Moderator note: The discussion on the download link on the blog has been split off into the "about Escape Pod" forum.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on October 22, 2010, 08:13:01 AM
Cool idea, although it's so close to happening I'm not convinced it's science fiction (kidding, kidding, it'll be at least 3 years before Nike comes up with synthetic blood products, maybe 2 now that Matthew's given them the idea).  The fact that sports funding is a more likely way to get a scholarship for college than academics really bothers me.  Then the jocks get to go off to college, and why?  So they can play some more sports...  good for them, but it seems like a waste of a college establishment to fund so many people who have no interest in the academics.

I do have to agree with wintermute though, that there doesn't seem to be much payoff (though that didn't keep me from wanting him to succeed at it on some vindictive level of my mind).  His parents aren't going to identify with him--they might disown him or if there's a physically abusive streak under the surface, beat the crap out of him, but I doubt they'll relate to him about it for (in their eyes) ruining his brother's chances at a future, anymore than a parent would relate to their jock son who gave slipping pills to a sibling just before a college entrance exam.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Void Munashii on October 22, 2010, 10:02:16 AM
So.... what was Jason's payoff? Scott loses the race, Jason gets in trouble, and then...?

1:Make Scott lose the race
2:Get in trouble
3: ????
4: Profit!!!


I did not really care for this one. The world in it seemed interesting, but I do not see how any world like that could not have some appreciation for smart people. It wasn't some juiced up jock that made Fuel 6.1. Even Nike Man has to understand that you need to encourage some brainboxes so that there will be someone around to design Fuel 6.2. I could not get past this idea enough to really enjoy the story.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Loz on October 22, 2010, 02:25:30 PM
I'm not sure but I don't think there's any educational institution in the U.K. that is particularly concerned about getting students for their athletic rather than intellectual prowess so my experience of the 'dumb jock' genre is limited to when it crops up in genre telly. This was a neat inversion that charmed me a lot by the author's canny realisation that it lacked the strength to sustain a longer length, especially as everyone seemed to be a stock character.

I think we are supposed to feel that the Nike man, his product and by extension the world that would allow such a thing to be considered both normal and admirable are bad, or at least morally poor, but being a Warren Ellis and Matt Fraction's Iron Man fan, I actually like the idea of blood plus that's been designed to help a body perform a different task better. What surprises me is that in this world it seems athletic prowess is all, surely blood could also be designed to help the brain work better, in fact, I know next to nothing about biology, but wouldn't most of what the Nike man says the new Fuel does help the brain too?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: icegirl on October 22, 2010, 04:01:53 PM
Kind of a neat concept, but not enough story to hang it on... I don't like my brother that much either, but I'm not sure what torpedoing his success in a race would do for you. Maybe it connects to the same mind set as the kids who bring guns and pipe bombs to school.

Re the Universities for Jocks only concept - I have seen in my life that institutions are frequently required to morph themselves to satisfy their clients no matter how this compromises their ideals, so I can believe this aspect more than some others. The thing I don't buy is that athleticism and intelligence must be opposing ideals and cannot be present within one body. Possibly because I have strived for years to ensure that my children are both smart and fit, I was hoping for a different response from the parents in this story. Blood-doping ethics aside, why wouldn't better blood also feed your intellect and why wouldn't higher intelligence help your sporting endeavours?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Turbo Funnelcake on October 22, 2010, 05:42:45 PM
I had to listen to this one twice.  I cannot and WOULD NOT want to live in a world where athleticism takes prescedence over intellectual excellence with regards to scholarships. That kind of world just doesn't make sense to me. Unless.....Unless of course malignant "highly intelligent" aliens enslaved mankind and spared humanity solely for entertainment purposes.  Hrmmm....But if that was the case, why bother with higher level learning in the first place?

I think the only value here was Jaime trying to prove a point, not only to his family but the system with regards to the norm of his world.   
It was an ok story, just not my cup'a tea.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Sandikal on October 22, 2010, 07:50:47 PM
I had to listen to this one twice.  I cannot and WOULD NOT want to live in a world where athleticism takes prescedence over intellectual excellence with regards to scholarships.

I saw this story as disturbingly realistic.  Athletics already take precedence over academics when it comes to scholarship money for middle-class kids.  A smart middle-class kid is lucky to get a grand here or there and they have to apply for a gazillion scholarships to do it.  The jock with lower grades gets scouted for a full ride scholarship.  There are many, many parents who push their kids in sports in the hopes that they'll get that athletic scholarship.  The parent of a straight-A student has little hope of seeing college money.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: KenK on October 23, 2010, 07:28:36 AM
I greatly enjoyed this story and empathized with the fat, smart, and nerdy kid. That was me in high school. Seeing half-wit jocks strut around the halls in their varsity jackets, their names and photos in the newspapers every week, and basking in the (fleeting) glory of their athletic prowess was awfully hard to endure. The kid has the same mindset as a suicide bomber who is totally willing to endure certain punishment for the chance to take advantage of this one-time-only opportunity for sticking it to the jockstraps.  ;D


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Schreiber on October 23, 2010, 11:50:21 AM
I think this is a case of the medium shortchanging the story. Seeing Scott lose the race and figuring out how it happened would have made the story stronger. It would have also been nice to see the Dracula red herring come to life. There just didn't seem to be enough time to see it all come to fruition the way I would have liked it to.

"Usurpers" managed to deal with a similar concept in a more satisfying way, but that story was told in a fairly untraditional way. I'd like to think that "Fuel" could work if it had more of a runway to accommodate the author's natural voice and pacing.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: eytanz on October 24, 2010, 04:53:49 PM
I didn't much care for this one. It was, in essence, a revenge story, where the underdog gets to be the petty one for once. And - maybe because I didn't grow up in America, so the concept of athletic scholarships seems just bizzare too me - I couldn't really buy into the culture. I certainly couldn't relate to it - I was always encouraged in my academic interests, both by my parents and my school.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: ElectricPaladin on October 25, 2010, 08:20:44 AM
I've been mulling this one over in my head for a while, and I've finally decided what I want to say about it. Ultimately, I think this is an interesting story set it in a chillingly absurd world - classic dark science fiction at its best. As some posters have pointed out, we aren't that far from demanding this sort of thing from our children.

On the other hand, the story did have a few major holes. How exactly did Jamie hope to profit from ruining his brother's sports career? What negative side effects was Jamie hoping to avoid, or was he just being contrary? Kids can't often hold on to such controversial views forever without backup - where was the subculture of naturalists who would have supported Jamie, if only by existing? I know that every story has its limits, but I feel that Fuel should have answered some of these.

That said, the world presented by this story was bleak and chillingly plausible and the story was well-crafted and enjoyable. Three of five zeppelins.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: blueeyeddevil on October 25, 2010, 10:40:27 AM
I'm seeing a general misinterpretation of this story, in my opinion. What I see here a case of a beautiful rough stone being chipped into a flawed gem.
I am only seeing this perhaps because I tend to think this way, but I suspect that actual world idea preceded the story.
It's a conceptually rich world: commodification of the body, a sort of anti-singularity of the physical, corporatist athletic competition beginning in junior high.
But when the time came for the actual story...

I seems a somewhat weak choice for the first story in this world, moreover compounded by a revenge ending that isn't much of a revenge.



Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on October 25, 2010, 10:42:43 AM
I've been mulling this one over in my head for a while, and I've finally decided what I want to say about it. Ultimately, I think this is an interesting story set it in a chillingly absurd world - classic dark science fiction at its best. As some posters have pointed out, we aren't that far from demanding this sort of thing from our children.

On the other hand, the story did have a few major holes. How exactly did Jamie hope to profit from ruining his brother's sports career? What negative side effects was Jamie hoping to avoid, or was he just being contrary? Kids can't often hold on to such controversial views forever without backup - where was the subculture of naturalists who would have supported Jamie, if only by existing? I know that every story has its limits, but I feel that Fuel should have answered some of these.

That said, the world presented by this story was bleak and chillingly plausible and the story was well-crafted and enjoyable. Three of five zeppelins.

Seemed a pretty clear cut case of revenge to me. What profit would he need from it besides personal satisfaction? He obviously resented his brother a great deal.

Also, I strongly disagree with it not being much of a revenge. Without the performance enhancers, its likely his brother would fail miserably at the upcoming games, particularly since everyone else would have them. He'd be humiliated and his parents would be disappointed. For the resentful brother that sounds like that would count as a sure win.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: tpi on October 25, 2010, 11:08:21 AM
I had to listen to this one twice.  I cannot and WOULD NOT want to live in a world where athleticism takes prescedence over intellectual excellence with regards to scholarships.

I saw this story as disturbingly realistic.  Athletics already take precedence over academics when it comes to scholarship money for middle-class kids. 

As a side note: why are the collages in the US so keen to get athletics to their schools?
What's in it for them?
That is something that has mildly baffled me.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Maplesugar on October 25, 2010, 11:13:38 AM
It's all about the money.

The better the teams do, the better the school's reputation. Large business and professional teams associate themselves with schools having a good image, and thus provide sponsorships to individuals and institutions.

The athlete is a warrior, and warriors have always been worshiped for their successes.
When has the scholar ever been crowned in laurels and given a parade for his deep thoughts?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: DKT on October 25, 2010, 11:49:03 AM

As a side note: why are the collages in the US so keen to get athletics to their schools?
What's in it for them?
That is something that has mildly baffled me.


Colleges make a ton of money off athletics - ticket sales, sponsorships, alumni support, etc.

As for what Jamie got in return for sabotaging Scott? I think the story answered that - he felt like it'd hurt his parents and Jamie, but also put them in a position to make them understand him - even if only for a second. So, yeah, to me it read as classic revenge and the need to be vindicated.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on October 25, 2010, 01:10:05 PM
It's all about the money.

The better the teams do, the better the school's reputation. Large business and professional teams associate themselves with schools having a good image, and thus provide sponsorships to individuals and institutions.

The athlete is a warrior, and warriors have always been worshiped for their successes.
When has the scholar ever been crowned in laurels and given a parade for his deep thoughts?

And the good schools become a testing area for pro sports.  Most of the American athletes in pro sports were picked because they stood out among college students.

Not at the school I went to, because we didn't win a single game in the first 3 years I attended.  Anybody who would merit a full ride athletic would not be caught dead attending that school


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: chornbe on October 25, 2010, 01:47:43 PM
Absolutely no offense to the author, but there was simply nothing in this story with which I felt connected or caring.

Just didn't do it for me. Sorry.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: MCWagner on October 25, 2010, 03:34:02 PM
I have a couple of points on this story, but, honestly, they both feel so petty that I hesitated quite a while before posting.

The major one is that I didn't like the story much because it felt like a revenge-fantasy... not for the characters, but for the author.  (I don't know the author from Adam, but I can only state how it appears to me.)  Template characters, absurdly one-sided abuse of the main character who "just wants to be left alone," predictable plot arc of "the little guy triumphant", etc.  A tale of revenge can be a gripping, emotionally engaging story, but revenge-fantasies always feel rather toxic to me... stories whose only purpose is showing how the people who picked on you in school end up cleaning toilets or dying horribly... how those people who don't share your political/social/moral outlook come to an ironic, painful end.  As one of those inathletic kids in school (scrawny, not chubby) who spent all his time with his nose in a book, I confess I indulged in similar fantasies, but it's just impotent dwelling and not a particularly healthy way to engage one's mind, nor a story I'd really characterize as "entertaining."

The other point is really, really petty...  I normally like Dave Thompson's readings, but in this story with a more science-based vocabulary, he fumbled the language pretty badly.  ("erythrocyte" (red blood cell) is pronounced "E-reeth-row-cyte" not "air-throw-cyte")  It probably only grated on me because of the six years I watched the damn things flow past on the microscope, but for future reference the merriam-webster site has pronunciation audio files for things like this.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: DKT on October 25, 2010, 04:03:54 PM
Heh. I actually did check the Merriam-Webster dictionary for that one (and a few others), but admittedly, may have fumbled it regardless. Sorry!


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Scattercat on October 25, 2010, 04:11:39 PM
It was... okay.  I strongly preferred "Usurpers," which had a fun language-level angle to it that this one didn't have.  I agree that this feels like a world idea that found a not-so-hot plotline to express itself.

On the other hand, I can empathize with the main character.  I was a pudgy, bookish nerd of a child, and my father tried several schemes to get me in better shape, including signing me up for sports teams against my will and spending his one-day-a-week with me and my sister making us run for an hour (which mostly resulted in my trying to play sick any day Dad was scheduled to pick us up after school.)  I can understand the need to strike back, even in a pointless or counterproductive way.  I kept my hair in a rat-tail haircut for *years* longer than I actually wanted it solely because my father was always pestering me to cut it, and the rat-tail was the closest he'd let me get to long hair in the first place.  If I'd had a brother who was athletic in the way the elder brother was here, I might well have fantasized about sabotaging his performance just out of sheer frustration and misdirected anger.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on October 26, 2010, 08:57:32 AM
Interesting that a couple people have mentioned that Usurpers worked better.  I guess that just shows how tastes vary:  I couldn't finish that one, the narrative style drove me bugnuts, and the character was so arrogant I really didn't want to listen to his story.

This one I finished, and I thought was pretty good, even though I had trouble buying that this kid thought the sabotage was a good idea.



Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on October 26, 2010, 12:20:56 PM
Interesting that a couple people have mentioned that Usurpers worked better.  I guess that just shows how tastes vary:  I couldn't finish that one, the narrative style drove me bugnuts, and the character was so arrogant I really didn't want to listen to his story.

This one I finished, and I thought was pretty good, even though I had trouble buying that this kid thought the sabotage was a good idea.



He's an emotionally neglected, hurt, angry 12-year-old. why wouldn't he? Or rather, I doubt the "good idea" vs "bad idea" would even cross his mind.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Wilson Fowlie on October 26, 2010, 03:56:24 PM
Interesting that a couple people have mentioned that Usurpers worked better.  I guess that just shows how tastes vary:  I couldn't finish that one, the narrative style drove me bugnuts, and the character was so arrogant I really didn't want to listen to his story.

This one I finished, and I thought was pretty good, even though I had trouble buying that this kid thought the sabotage was a good idea.

He's an emotionally neglected, hurt, angry 12-year-old. why wouldn't he? Or rather, I doubt the "good idea" vs "bad idea" would even cross his mind.

This ^^^  is basically the thought process that went through my head.  First was, Why does he think that's going to make them understand him?.  Then, Oh, twelve-year-old.

I have a twelve-year-old boy, you see (for 5 more days, anyway*), and figuring out actual consequences (rather than desired consequences) is not a strong skill in most at that age.

I didn't mind this story, but I didn't love it, either.  There were a couple of clumsy places that dragged me right out of the story and made me wish the author had had an editor.

At one point, Jamie "let himself in the front door with his keycard."  In a story using third-person limited narrative, this just doesn't work.  If keys as cards are ubiquitous in this future (I hope they don't become so in ours!), Jamie wouldn't think of it as a key card, any more than we call telephones something else because they now have pushbuttons.

To get across the idea that it was a keycard, it would have been better for the author to have done something like:

Jamie went to let himself in, but as usual, the card reader missed the first few swipes and he had to stand there like an idiot, swiping the card until the door finally swung open.

Only better.  :)

Also, the line, "You get better with practice. Like your brother Scott," really jarred on me.  Seriously?  Jamie needs to be told either who his brother is or who Scott is?

In the very next paragraph, the line "the way he gritted his teeth when he heard his older brother's name," made the solution to this clumsy line obvious.

In both of those cases, I had to go back in the file to listen to what came immediately after those bits, as my rants about the writing drowned out the story.  :D

All it needed was a quick edit to catch both of those problems (and possibly other, subtler ones that I didn't catch).




*He's not going anywhere, just won't be twelve any more.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Chuk on October 26, 2010, 04:10:58 PM
I was a little unsure of what he thought the sabotage would accomplish. Seems like a long way to go to make a point, too -- change out all your blood? And won't his brother notice right away that the Fuel 6.1 isn't doing its job?

I almost thought the story was implying that the kid thinks his blood will make his brother smarter.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Paranatural on October 26, 2010, 07:58:24 PM
I kinda liked this one. It  was no big huge expansive plot, but it was a very human one. Was it a revenge fantasy? Possibly, yes, but it wasn't just revenge against his brother, but his parents. He really didn't seem to resent his brother so much as he did his parents insistence that he be like his brother.

And he got his revenge by outsmarting them, which made it all the more sweet.

And to those who called this a nightmare scenario....apparently you don't live in the USA. At least, not the south. If you really dug in, I would not be shocked to see many that offer far more money to athletics than academics.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: CryptoMe on October 26, 2010, 10:19:52 PM
I almost thought the story was implying that the kid thinks his blood will make his brother smarter.

Oh, I like that angle. Especially because I was hoping the story would go in the opposite direction, where the MC takes the Fuel 6.2 blood and then finds himself too dumb to exact his revenge ;).


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on October 27, 2010, 08:32:47 AM
I almost thought the story was implying that the kid thinks his blood will make his brother smarter.

Oh, I like that angle. Especially because I was hoping the story would go in the opposite direction, where the MC takes the Fuel 6.2 blood and then finds himself too dumb to exact his revenge ;).

That would have been incredibly, incredibly depressing. Heh.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Saaoirse on October 27, 2010, 04:21:11 PM
I felt like this story was the author's first draft. The blood thing was a really interesting idea, and could have been a great story, but instead we got dull characters wandering around explaining it to us. There was only the semblance of a plot, which felt tacked-on. I want to read the story it could have been.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on October 28, 2010, 08:44:48 AM
He's an emotionally neglected, hurt, angry 12-year-old. why wouldn't he? Or rather, I doubt the "good idea" vs "bad idea" would even cross his mind.

The "good idea" vs. "bad idea" did cross his mind at the end of the story, and he decided good idea because his parents would understand him for a moment.  I think to say that he's incapable of predicting the bad outcome of this because he's 12 is to sell 12-year-olds short and he is, by all accounts, a very smart kid. 

*He's not going anywhere, just won't be twelve any more.

I'm glad you added the asterisk, I was worried!   :D

I kinda liked this one. It  was no big huge expansive plot, but it was a very human one. Was it a revenge fantasy? Possibly, yes, but it wasn't just revenge against his brother, but his parents. He really didn't seem to resent his brother so much as he did his parents insistence that he be like his brother.

Maybe that's his primary target, but his brother is the one who'll suffer the most, by having his only chances at a scholarship ruined.  He sure isn't going to impress anyone with his academics.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on October 28, 2010, 09:39:39 AM
He's an emotionally neglected, hurt, angry 12-year-old. why wouldn't he? Or rather, I doubt the "good idea" vs "bad idea" would even cross his mind.

The "good idea" vs. "bad idea" did cross his mind at the end of the story, and he decided good idea because his parents would understand him for a moment.  I think to say that he's incapable of predicting the bad outcome of this because he's 12 is to sell 12-year-olds short and he is, by all accounts, a very smart kid. 



Ah. But you are clearly drawing a dividing line between his mental and emotional states. Can't do that, particularly not with a kid of his age. This is a child on the verge of entering the most turbulent time of his life from an emotional perspective.  Regardless (I caught myself typing irregardless.. for shame) of his school smarts and relative cleverness, guy is kind of a mess inside.

You can be a genius and still do dumb things because of feelings.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on October 28, 2010, 12:30:45 PM
Ah. But you are clearly drawing a dividing line between his mental and emotional states. Can't do that, particularly not with a kid of his age. This is a child on the verge of entering the most turbulent time of his life from an emotional perspective.  Regardless (I caught myself typing irregardless.. for shame) of his school smarts and relative cleverness, guy is kind of a mess inside.

You can be a genius and still do dumb things because of feelings.

In general, I'd agree.  In this case, it didn't seem in character to me.  Especially since it's pre-meditated he's got lots of time to think about it, it wasn't a spur of the moment thing.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on October 28, 2010, 01:16:38 PM
Ah. But you are clearly drawing a dividing line between his mental and emotional states. Can't do that, particularly not with a kid of his age. This is a child on the verge of entering the most turbulent time of his life from an emotional perspective.  Regardless (I caught myself typing irregardless.. for shame) of his school smarts and relative cleverness, guy is kind of a mess inside.

You can be a genius and still do dumb things because of feelings.

In general, I'd agree.  In this case, it didn't seem in character to me.  Especially since it's pre-meditated he's got lots of time to think about it, it wasn't a spur of the moment thing.

I would argue that since he's pretty clearly emotionally neglected, negative feelings are having an ongoing effect on his behavior and thoughts. You need to have a certain degree of emotional maturity to recognize if how your feeling is having an effect on your thinking and behaviors. Due to his age and the fact that his society and family are morons, he doesn't have it.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Sandikal on October 29, 2010, 12:11:47 AM
Having just sent my second smart child to high school, I agree completely with Talia about the emotional maturity of middle school kids vs. their intellectual maturity. 


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: slic on October 31, 2010, 12:02:03 PM
I'm seeing a general misinterpretation of this story, in my opinion. What I see here a case of a beautiful rough stone being chipped into a flawed gem.
...
It's a conceptually rich world: commodification of the body, a sort of anti-singularity of the physical, corporatist athletic competition beginning in junior high.
But when the time came for the actual story...
This is what I would suggest to the writer to make this story (or any others in this world) better.  I think it is simpler to codify the direct results with regards to sports than acedemics (i.e. it's easier to show gains in someone running faster than it is to show them being more intelligent), so a couple of lines in the story to indicate that this is new - maybe something about an upcoming market for "smart blood" would help. After all we have "smart" food on the market even now (here in Canada anyway).
The story is also too short - the consequences and how they affect Scott's family would be more interesting that the end idea of revenge.

I defintiely agree with everyone's comments about Scott's behaviour making sense - I have a 12 and a 13 year old, they are very sincere and try hard, but don't always get the "consequences" part of their actions (long term or as they really affect others).
... He'd be humiliated and his parents would be disappointed. For the resentful brother that sounds like that would count as a sure win.
Yup

Blood-doping ethics aside, why wouldn't better blood also feed your intellect and why wouldn't higher intelligence help your sporting endeavours?
I suspect it would definitely help but more of a side affect, and likely not to the same degree.  You'd want something that encouraged better memory retention, cognitive leaps, perhaps increased synapse firing.  Also the dumb jock is something of a misnomer.  There are many sports where the athelete needs to strategize on the fly (though I don't think sprinting would necessarily be one of them). 
As a parent I do struggle with the idea of doing whatever it takes to give my kids a leg up.  Is it worth it to them for me to drive them to study harder, take more activites, fight through unnecessary difficulty?  They are all three above average in marks, healthy and pretty much happy - we are incredibly fortunate.  Isn't it greedy and unfair to demand more?

Maybe it's just me, but the latest run of stories seem to be revenge-ended or at least an ugly outcome - perhaps some happier endings would be good.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: seanpeter on November 06, 2010, 01:03:43 PM
come on, way to simple.  SciFi please, not teenage melodrama.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Talia on November 06, 2010, 09:19:46 PM
come on, way to simple.  SciFi please, not teenage melodrama.

And teenage melodrama can't be sci fi because...?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Scattercat on November 06, 2010, 09:56:05 PM
come on, way to simple.  SciFi please, not teenage melodrama.

And teenage melodrama can't be sci fi because...?

Duh!  Genre is strictly digital, not analog.  You can only ever be in one at a time, and their limits are codified in laws of stone set down by the Almighty Himself.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Bdoomed on November 06, 2010, 11:28:44 PM
Duh!  Genre is strictly digital, not analog.  You can only ever be in one at a time, and their limits are codified in laws of stone set down by the Almighty Himself.

Yup, Leviticus 133:7 - And the Lord did say that Science Fiction shall be confined to the following tropes
The list goes on from there.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: ElectricPaladin on November 07, 2010, 12:06:32 AM
Duh!  Genre is strictly digital, not analog.  You can only ever be in one at a time, and their limits are codified in laws of stone set down by the Almighty Himself.

Yup, Leviticus 133:7 - And the Lord did say that Science Fiction shall be confined to the following tropes
The list goes on from there.

You forgot Numbers 20:12-22, where the list is repeated with several major differences, including the inclusion of Alternate History and Steampunk, the omission of Space Opera, and a specific prohibition against "Pansy-Assed Science Fantasy" (which is not mentioned by name specifically). There's been a lot of interesting exegesis about this change.

/religion major asshattery ;).


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: stePH on November 07, 2010, 10:40:06 AM
come on, way to simple.  SciFi please, not teenage melodrama.

Like it or not, this was a sci-fi story.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: stePH on November 07, 2010, 10:42:10 AM
Duh!  Genre is strictly digital, not analog.  You can only ever be in one at a time, and their limits are codified in laws of stone set down by the Almighty Himself.

Yup, Leviticus 133:7 - And the Lord did say that Science Fiction shall be confined to the following tropes
The list goes on from there.

You forgot Numbers 20:12-22, where the list is repeated with several major differences, including the inclusion of Alternate History and Steampunk, the omission of Space Opera, and a specific prohibition against "Pansy-Assed Science Fantasy" (which is not mentioned by name specifically). There's been a lot of interesting exegesis about this change.


Interesting; I don't remember seeing those verses. But Leviticus and Numbers (and Deutoronomy) had lots of boring-ass sections that I lightly skimmed across, so I probably missed them. I'm into Judges now.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Dave on November 07, 2010, 06:13:34 PM
I could barely get through this one. My stomach turned afresh with every paragraph. And, after forcing myself to endure the entire sickening, terrifying story, I didn't even get to find out what happened?

Should have been a Pseudopod story, and also should have had an ending.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: ElectricPaladin on November 07, 2010, 06:19:20 PM
Duh!  Genre is strictly digital, not analog.  You can only ever be in one at a time, and their limits are codified in laws of stone set down by the Almighty Himself.

Yup, Leviticus 133:7 - And the Lord did say that Science Fiction shall be confined to the following tropes
The list goes on from there.

You forgot Numbers 20:12-22, where the list is repeated with several major differences, including the inclusion of Alternate History and Steampunk, the omission of Space Opera, and a specific prohibition against "Pansy-Assed Science Fantasy" (which is not mentioned by name specifically). There's been a lot of interesting exegesis about this change.


Interesting; I don't remember seeing those verses. But Leviticus and Numbers (and Deutoronomy) had lots of boring-ass sections that I lightly skimmed across, so I probably missed them. I'm into Judges now.

Oh, man, has Judges got some badass stuff. I love it.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: stePH on November 08, 2010, 12:33:32 AM
Interesting; I don't remember seeing those verses. But Leviticus and Numbers (and Deutoronomy) had lots of boring-ass sections that I lightly skimmed across, so I probably missed them. I'm into Judges now.

Oh, man, has Judges got some badass stuff. I love it.

The bit where Jael nails Sisera's head to the floor was priceless. And this is also the book with Samson and the Haircut of Doom, right?


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: ElectricPaladin on November 08, 2010, 12:45:51 AM
Interesting; I don't remember seeing those verses. But Leviticus and Numbers (and Deutoronomy) had lots of boring-ass sections that I lightly skimmed across, so I probably missed them. I'm into Judges now.

Oh, man, has Judges got some badass stuff. I love it.

The bit where Jael nails Sisera's head to the floor was priceless. And this is also the book with Samson and the Haircut of Doom, right?

AND the Firefox Stratagem. He also kills a dude with a bone. AND there's a singing battle judge. Man, I love Judges. I should go reread it.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Bdoomed on November 08, 2010, 02:33:48 AM
wow.  I'm sorry I totally derailed this thread.
Please, let's get back on track no? :P

I have not yet listened to this story, so I can't really offer an opinion or anything, but it IS on my list of things to listen to (along with about 50 other things haha)


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Wilson Fowlie on November 08, 2010, 04:33:48 PM
You forgot Numbers 20:12-22, where the list is repeated with several major differences, including the inclusion of Alternate History and Steampunk, the omission of Space Opera, and a specific prohibition against "Pansy-Assed Science Fantasy" (which is not mentioned by name specifically). There's been a lot of interesting exegesis about this change.

/religion major asshattery ;).

EP: This made me do a fist-pump in sheer glee.  You are now my second favourite religion major (http://heathensguide.com/).


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: ElectricPaladin on November 08, 2010, 04:36:17 PM
You forgot Numbers 20:12-22, where the list is repeated with several major differences, including the inclusion of Alternate History and Steampunk, the omission of Space Opera, and a specific prohibition against "Pansy-Assed Science Fantasy" (which is not mentioned by name specifically). There's been a lot of interesting exegesis about this change.

/religion major asshattery ;).

EP: This made me do a fist-pump in sheer glee.  You are now my second favourite religion major (http://heathensguide.com/).

Wow! Thanks.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Gamercow on November 09, 2010, 10:47:46 AM
I could barely get through this one. My stomach turned afresh with every paragraph. And, after forcing myself to endure the entire sickening, terrifying story, I didn't even get to find out what happened?

Should have been a Pseudopod story, and also should have had an ending.

Care to explain why you thought the story was sickening? 

In my case, I didn't particularly like this story because I thought it was a bit simple, and shallow.  If it was in the EP flash contest, I may have voted for it to get out of the first round, but not the second.  The characters were a little too stereotypical for me, and the premise a bit too straightforward.  I think it might have been better if it was written from a first-person perspective, so we would have an explanation for the black and white world that these people seem to inhabit.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Dave on November 16, 2010, 09:07:11 PM
I could barely get through this one. My stomach turned afresh with every paragraph. And, after forcing myself to endure the entire sickening, terrifying story, I didn't even get to find out what happened?

Should have been a Pseudopod story, and also should have had an ending.

Care to explain why you thought the story was sickening? 

The society portrayed in this story squicked me on every conceivable level. Also I have a huge phobia of needles.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Unblinking on November 17, 2010, 10:21:42 AM
A side discussion that crossed my mind while listening, but I forgot when commenting.

It occurs to me that the practice of keeping track of world athletics records and making a big hubbub when someone breaks one, is a system that will ensure that more and more athletes will use performance enhancing drugs as time goes on.  I mean, there are physical limits to how fast a human can move himself from point A to point B, and while we can try to approach that through sheer athleticism, at some point we will hit the wall where we literally cannot go faster with a natural human.  Then there will be no more records in that area, and sports news will be much more boring.  So, to get their name forever recorded, an athlete feels more and more pressure to use drugs or other enhancements that will push them past that wall just a little bit.  Even then, there are limits and we will eventually reach them.  At some point we're still going to hit the wall, and at that point we'll have a few options:  allow larger and larger enhancements (like rocket shoes or something) to try to draw it out a while longer, some change in the record systems so that each athlete doesn't need to compete against the entirety of athletics history, or we just put up with these sports being more boring because there are no new records.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Wilson Fowlie on November 17, 2010, 03:03:23 PM
... or we just put up with these sports being more boring because there are no new records.

Good god; sports could be more boring? ;)


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Scattercat on November 17, 2010, 08:51:23 PM
... or we just put up with these sports being more boring because there are no new records.

Good god; sports could be more boring? ;)

Rocket shoes says no.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Gamercow on November 18, 2010, 01:12:43 PM

The society portrayed in this story squicked me on every conceivable level. Also I have a huge phobia of needles.

Understandable.  I didn't make the connection in my head what an effect this story would have on someone with trypanophobia. 


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Calculating... on November 26, 2010, 02:34:34 PM
This story had an ending, a fantastic ending.  This was all about being an outcast among the people who are supposed to love and accept who you really are without prejudice and that uncontrollable want to just be understood.  The profit or result of making his brother loose the race was the chance that someone in his family would understand him, if only for a short period of time. I loved the terrifying ending of that desire being so strong and undeniable that he was willing to derail and destroy his brother's future.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Listener on November 27, 2010, 07:29:30 PM
This story had an ending, a fantastic ending.  This was all about being an outcast among the people who are supposed to love and accept who you really are without prejudice and that uncontrollable want to just be understood.  The profit or result of making his brother loose the race was the chance that someone in his family would understand him, if only for a short period of time. I loved the terrifying ending of that desire being so strong and undeniable that he was willing to derail and destroy his brother's future.

In a perfect world, that's what would happen. But in a sports-obsessed family, I could just as easily foresee them completely missing the point, punishing the younger brother, and making him somehow pay his academic scholarship toward sending his brother to a good sports school.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: kibitzer on November 28, 2010, 08:45:23 PM
I was listening to this on the train; were I alone I believe I would have been yelling at the parents out loud. ARGH!!! That sports-mad attitude makes me ANGRY!! I know this is sort of a parody -- or an extrapolation of current attitudes -- but still... ARGH!!! HULK SMASH PUNY PARENTS!!

It's maybe worse in the US with these scholarship things. I'm not sure of the situation in my own country; there must be something similar.

The ending was way too sudden, was expecting more. I'm not sure I'd ever be so blase about a blood transfusion as to think leaving my blood for someone else is a good idea! That thoroughly creeped me out.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Planish on December 18, 2010, 09:19:37 PM
I could barely get through this one. My stomach turned afresh with every paragraph. And, after forcing myself to endure the entire sickening, terrifying story, I didn't even get to find out what happened?

Should have been a Pseudopod story, and also should have had an ending.
What? His brother Scott performed at a level in the middle of the curve. That's what happened. Maybe his parents clued in that physical prowess is no guarantee of a success in life (but I doubt it). I don't see any Pseudopod-esque features.

This is a classic Trickster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trickster) story. Always a hit, in my book.


Title: Re: EP263: Fuel
Post by: Dave on February 12, 2011, 03:23:15 PM
A side discussion that crossed my mind while listening, but I forgot when commenting.

It occurs to me that the practice of keeping track of world athletics records and making a big hubbub when someone breaks one, is a system that will ensure that more and more athletes will use performance enhancing drugs as time goes on.  I mean, there are physical limits to how fast a human can move himself from point A to point B, and while we can try to approach that through sheer athleticism, at some point we will hit the wall where we literally cannot go faster with a natural human.  Then there will be no more records in that area, and sports news will be much more boring.  So, to get their name forever recorded, an athlete feels more and more pressure to use drugs or other enhancements that will push them past that wall just a little bit.  Even then, there are limits and we will eventually reach them.  At some point we're still going to hit the wall, and at that point we'll have a few options:  allow larger and larger enhancements (like rocket shoes or something) to try to draw it out a while longer, some change in the record systems so that each athlete doesn't need to compete against the entirety of athletics history, or we just put up with these sports being more boring because there are no new records.

I don't give a rip about sports at all, but I have been saying for years they need to split all sports into a Pure League and an Enhanced League, and just let the dopers and cyborgs and genetically engineered superathletes go to town.

I'm 100% serious, and if this happened, heck, I might even care about sports in ten or twenty years.