Escape Artists

Escape Pod => Episode Comments => Topic started by: eytanz on June 28, 2013, 05:04:49 AM

Title: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: eytanz on June 28, 2013, 05:04:49 AM
EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle (http://escapepod.org/2013/06/28/ep402-the-tale-of-the-golden-eagle/)

By David D. Levine (http://www.daviddlevine.com/story/space-magic/)

Read by the author

--

This is a story about a bird.

(http://escapepod.org/wp-images/podcast-mini4.gif) Listen to this week’s Escape Pod! (http://traffic.libsyn.com/escapepod/EP402_TheTaleoftheGoldenEagle.mp3)
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: LadiesAndGentleman on June 28, 2013, 04:46:58 PM
That was an unexpected ending! I liked it.

As for the rest of the story, the build up was disappointingly dull.  It was only at the halfway point, when the "prologue" seemed to end and the action began, I became more interested.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: matweller on June 28, 2013, 05:29:33 PM
I apologize for not having the full story available at the time the post was made. I was waiting for confirmation that we had permission to post it, but you can see the entire story on the site now - http://escapepod.org/2013/06/28/ep402-the-tale-of-the-golden-eagle/ (http://escapepod.org/2013/06/28/ep402-the-tale-of-the-golden-eagle/)
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Cutter McKay on June 29, 2013, 01:23:55 AM
I really struggled with the massive back-story info dump, and almost quit listening. But the ending made it worthwhile. The "ship with the human mind and the metal captain" is such a fantastic image. I wouldn't want to read stories this bogged down in exposition on a regular basis, but in this particular story, the payoff was worth the lengthy buildup.

My only other complaint is even with so much buildup, this feels like just the beginning of the story. What I really want to read about are the adventures of the Ship with the Human Mind and Metal Captain. Does anyone know if these two play any roles in other stories of David's anthology?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: adrianh on June 29, 2013, 09:22:53 AM
I rather liked this - slow build up and all. Especially the traditional folk-tale structure wrapped around the history of a kinda-sorta story telling robot - nicely meta that. That structure also kept my interest despite seeing the reveal coming a little early.

In many ways it reminded me of more golden/silver age SF. In a good way. Reminded me of Cordwainer Smith.

I also love this kind of storytelling - when the author sketches out a history and a world and a myth - and then leave them half formed in the reader's head for them to play with. I've no idea if the author has written any more tales of The Golden Eagle - but thanks to this story those adventures already almost-exist at the back of my head. I'm happy to let them play there.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: rendall on June 29, 2013, 04:31:51 PM
Two observations, nothing major:
1) I think her last Zeebnen-Fearsig stems from "sieben und vierzig", German for 47.
2) Lovely reading!  Is Escape Pod abandoning the policy of authors not reading their own work? 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Rain on June 29, 2013, 05:39:31 PM
I liked the first part, and would have loved to hear more about the eagles being used to drive ships through space, on the other hand everything in present time was a little dull i thought.

Two questions : First we are told that Eagles were the best creatures, that makes me wonder how useful a human would be.
Also the eagle (can't remember her name) says that travelling through space is so painful she would rather die than do it, yet the guy at the end apparently had no problems..
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: adrianh on June 29, 2013, 06:48:40 PM
Two questions : First we are told that Eagles were the best creatures, that makes me wonder how useful a human would be.

Nope. We were told that only the visual-cortex was the essential part of the space-time hack - and that eagles were good non-humans to uplift (we already know that it worked for humans because of evil-dude's experiments).

"He found a way to weld a human brain to the keel of a starship, in such a way that the ship could travel from star to star in months instead of years. After the execution of Doctor Jay, people learned that the part of the brain called the visual cortex was the key to changing the shape of space. And so they found a creature whose brain was almost all visual cortex"

Also the eagle (can't remember her name) says that travelling through space is so painful she would rather die than do it, yet the guy at the end apparently had no problems..

Nope. It was the being cut out of an existing embodiment and being placed onto the ship that was the painful part. That was what she couldn't face again - not the flying.

“To fly is joy, yes … but to be cut from this body … to be severed … uprooted … the pain, Sir and Master … that pain is something I could never endure again.”
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Frungi on June 29, 2013, 11:35:12 PM
I’m not sure why some are complaining about the story feeling slow. I liked it. It felt like someone telling a folk story aloud, maybe to a child. The whole thing just… I dunno, feels real.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Dem on June 30, 2013, 05:45:37 PM
Superb story. Maybe I missed the info dump aspect of it because I was listening - being told a story (beautifully narrated, by the way) - and I absorbed every word. I was also torn apart by the cruelty and if it had not ended the way it did, I would have had to seek out the author and threaten atrocities until it got changed :)
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: FireTurtle on June 30, 2013, 08:17:47 PM
Comment the First: Is no one else reminded of the Brain/Brawn/Partnership ship series (The Ship Who Sang, et al) by the late Anne McCaffery? Wow, just me? Huh.

Comment the Second: Loved it. Reminiscent of the "old" science fiction of the great space opera/optimistic times (see Comment the First). No info dump problems, because I felt it was in keeping with the more old-fashioned narrative approach. Very arresting visuals and crazily optimistic plot.

Comment the Third: Really? No one can see that this is a LOT like The Ship Who Sang? Sigh.

Comment the Fourth: I assume the author reading this one had to do with contractual obligations and not new policy??

Good job to the editors on bringing something really different (from other stories published here) to the table.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Dem on June 30, 2013, 09:20:56 PM
Nope, not just you, FireTurtle, I was there too. And didn't Brian Stableford do something similar with The Hooded Swan?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on July 01, 2013, 12:22:42 PM
I liked it. The slow and info-dumpy aspect didn't bother me, it felt like a campfire story.
What did bother me was the whole welding brains to keels bit. I can accept the fact that the brain needs to perceive space, but it needs to be protected from space as well. So presumably it is in some form of containment vessel welded to the keel. But why not put it inside the ship? Why not allow it access to ship's systems? Why, if you already have a brain interfaced with your ship, not use the power of said brain for other things?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: matweller on July 01, 2013, 12:45:42 PM
Comment the Fourth: I assume the author reading this one had to do with contractual obligations and not new policy??
The author was recording it for his purposes in a professional studio anyway, and that gave us a rare opportunity to have the author narrate. It's not regular policy, though I think we'd be happy to do it again anytime we can get such a good quality recording.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Thunderscreech on July 01, 2013, 12:50:44 PM
This story felt to me like a Mike Resnick story, along the lines of the universe his 'Birthright of Man' is held.  I love the tapestry effect; there's this feeling that the story is a moment in time surrounded by millions of other compelling stories and moments that are juuuuust barely out of sight and I can see them if I can just move a little bit over and keep reading.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Dem on July 01, 2013, 01:07:17 PM
Comment the Fourth: I assume the author reading this one had to do with contractual obligations and not new policy??
The author was recording it for his purposes in a professional studio anyway, and that gave us a rare opportunity to have the author narrate. It's not regular policy, though I think we'd be happy to do it again anytime we can get such a good quality recording.

Bonus: he's a damn good narrator!
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: chemistryguy on July 01, 2013, 06:42:37 PM
The back story was interesting enough.  The deadpan delivery at the beginning really worked for me.

I just couldn't relate to Nerissa.  I suppose that's only to be expected when one is an eagle with intelligence elevated to a human and subsequently plugged into a spaceship, but still.  Her character rang flat.  I couldn't get emotionally invested. 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: matweller on July 01, 2013, 07:41:41 PM
...there's this feeling that the story is a moment in time surrounded by millions of other compelling stories and moments that are juuuuust barely out of sight and I can see them if I can just move a little bit over and keep reading.
I feel that way about most of our stories. It's one of my favorite things about the show. I've even started writing peripheral stories on a couple occasions just to expand the universe in my head some more.

You know, that would be a fun special episode...give the forum a flash story a couple months in advance and invite people to write their own peripheral flash pieces and record them, then put 5 or 6 together into an episode...

. o O ( I wonder if JC Hutchins could flash us something...that kinda play would be right up his alley )
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Thunderscreech on July 01, 2013, 07:49:08 PM
You know, that would be a fun special episode...give the forum a flash story a couple months in advance and invite people to write their own peripheral flash pieces and record them, then put 5 or 6 together into an episode...

. o O ( I wonder if JC Hutchins could flash us something...that kinda play would be right up his alley )
Awwwww yes, that would be fantastic!
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on July 01, 2013, 08:14:12 PM
You know, that would be a fun special episode...give the forum a flash story a couple months in advance and invite people to write their own peripheral flash pieces and record them, then put 5 or 6 together into an episode...

. o O ( I wonder if JC Hutchins could flash us something...that kinda play would be right up his alley )
Awwwww yes, that would be fantastic!

Can we please do this?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Frungi on July 01, 2013, 08:18:31 PM
What did bother me was the whole welding brains to keels bit. … But why not put it inside the ship? Why not allow it access to ship's systems? Why, if you already have a brain interfaced with your ship, not use the power of said brain for other things?

I got the impression that they could (I believe they did with the MC’s brain); they just didn’t want to. To them, it was just part of the engine, nothing more.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: flintknapper on July 01, 2013, 08:27:36 PM
Like most people have already said, the info-dump -as that appears to be what we are calling it- at the beginning of the story did not bother me. I think it introduced us to this amazing setting which I thoroughly enjoyed. For me, story setting is important and the author really delivered a fantastic universe. The level of detail for a short story was tremendous.

Many have already made comments regarding other stories, specifically the classic space operas. I would like to add to the myriad of obvious influences that this story is drawing from also includes space travel in the Dune franchise. However, the fact that it reminds me of these other stories is a huge positive. The stories we are comparing it to do not suck. They are excellent pieces within the genre.

The only place I am going to deviate from what others said is that to me, the narration was only so-so. I get that the author was reading his own work. However, I would have liked someone else to do. I think if anything the narration came off as generic white male. He was articulate, but I would have liked something deviating from the status quo... perhaps an accent. I don't know. My criticism is minor. Overall it was a fun story.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: InfiniteMonkey on July 03, 2013, 03:48:53 AM
Well, having heard Levine read his own (and other) works before, I knew he'd be fine. And I liked the long-tale aspect of the story. I thought this would end up with our destitute nobleman welding the now-android body with the brain somehow to the ship, but this was a more satisfying ending.

The one problem I had with the story was minor, because it didn't really effect the story too much, and that's the idea that a mind can somehow fly between the stars by virtue of being a mind. That's kind of silly. Catherine Asaro goes even farther with her "only some minds can master imaginary math that makes ships fly faster than light!" thing- that's REALLY silly, and kind of broke her book for me. Here the emotional context of the well-told story falls apart if you remove that stick, so I chose to overlook it.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Frungi on July 03, 2013, 06:34:06 AM
The “only minds can do space” thing actually reminded me of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker series, where a big enough mind can manipulate metaphysics to remove a body (be it person or spaceship) from the universe and insert it elsewhere. So I had that on my mind when considering how it worked here.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on July 03, 2013, 07:39:03 AM
Minds can do space didn't faze me at all.
Our minds are pretty good at abstract thinking, throw in a little Terry Pratchet and some extra narrativium and abstract thinking turns into warping spacetime. Easy as falling off a log. Not sure about the whole visual cortex thing, but I'm no rocket surgeon.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Frungi on July 03, 2013, 04:16:55 PM
Narrativium… I have got to start reading Discworld.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Windup on July 04, 2013, 02:10:01 AM

I was impressed by the craftsmanship of this story.  The author earned the right to info dump by making it engaging, pulling us along with the ship's slow descent from luxury yacht to scrap with just enough emotional detail to draw us in.  By the time the main narrative really gathers steam, the world is so fully realized that I felt we could have followed any of the characters and had an interesting story.  That possibility gave the story he did tell both richness and tension.  I did not see where it was headed until the very end, even though the author plainly gave me the chance to figure it out by describing how human brains were used in the first ships. "Surprising, yet inevitable." -- the very best kind of ending.  :D

Like others, I'd love more stories of "Denali Eu and Nerissa the Silver Captain." If I didn't have both digital and physical bookshelves overflowing with unread volumes, I'd pick up his anthology.  Maybe by Christmas... 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: MasterZap on July 05, 2013, 07:36:38 PM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

Basically, we have to survive a huge long infodump in the beginning, then we get to the exciting card game part, and then we have our metal heroine tell our hero the backstory. Which is over and done with in a sentence or two (coz we already did it in the beginning).

The fix is SO trivial: Start at the cardgame. Guy wins metal chick. Now metal chick gives him and us the backstory!! Et voilá, as they say in Spain (Or was it Portugal?), story structure fixed, no massive info-dump, better flow, better hook to get us into the story!!

But I liked it as is. I would just have likeinated it morerer if it been betterificated as per the abovination.

/Z
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Cynandre on July 05, 2013, 09:57:55 PM
My kind of Love Story. That's it.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Devoted135 on July 06, 2013, 04:24:22 PM
I didn't mind the "info-dump" at the beginning, because it was presenting a really interesting premise in an engaging way. It also flowed seamlessly into Nerissa's story, which I confess that I got really wrapped up in. When I think about all that she went through, and all of the forms that she embodied over her lifetime, it adds up to a pretty incredible story. :)


...even with so much buildup, this feels like just the beginning of the story. What I really want to read about are the adventures of the Ship with the Human Mind and Metal Captain. Does anyone know if these two play any roles in other stories of David's anthology?

I'm would also like to know the answer to this. :)
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: PrimerofinTheSequel on July 08, 2013, 12:33:21 AM
Did I miss something? Anything?  Did anything actually happen?

This seemed like an origin story.

What exactly did the fabulous eagle bird space plane human craft actually do?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Frungi on July 08, 2013, 01:13:23 AM
Did I miss something? Anything?  Did anything actually happen?

This seemed like an origin story.

Answered your own question there, I think! :P Yeah, the origin happened. And whoever’s keeping score, add in my vote for more stories of their adventures.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: TheArchivist on July 08, 2013, 09:51:34 AM
Strange. All these people finding fault for so many different reasons.

It's infodumpy : true, if what you're looking for is an excuse to complain about info dumps. But actually that's a well-established traditional form widely used in verbal traditions. See folk tales.

It's only the beginning : true, if you're intent on finding fault with lack of completeness. But ALL stories are partial, even massive ten-book fantasy epics. The short form is all about bringing out a coherent part of the greater whole, and this stroy did that superbly.

It's just like Anne McCaffrey : true, in many ways. On the other hand, The Ship Who Sang was by no means totally 100% original and unlike anything that went before. All stories are reminiscent of something else - it's inherent in the human condition.

The final twist was predictable : yes, it was. By some people, but clearly not others. I saw it coming. But who cares? All stories are predictable at some point - the skillful author does not leave the reader in the dark. I can't remember who I heard say it, but "Don't leave them guessing - make them think they could finish the story themselves, just do it better than they would"

It's rather like Orson Scott Card : well, yes. See above re: Anne McCaffrey

The physics / engineering was silly : probably. But the anthology is called "Space Magic" for pity's sake! Heck, the physics / engineering is a story device and it works great for this story.

Me, I loved it. Thank you, Escape Pod.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Unblinking on July 08, 2013, 03:28:57 PM
I didn't care for it.  I'm not opposed to a folktale style story, but this one failed to make me give a crap at any point.  The way that it was written made it seem that it was being told to me at some point after the silver captain and the human-mind ship became a well-known tale, and this was telling the origin of the tale.  But I didn't really care about the origin of that tale-that-I'd-never-heard because I'd never heard the tale. 

Otherwise, I could potentially be interested in the origin story in it's own right, but to me the characters didn't feel at all real to me, and felt nothing more than narrative setpieces to get to the end of the story.

I do like David D. Levine's narrations though.  I saw a reading of his at WorldCon 2012 where he read a story narrated by a mad scientist.  He slipped into character so easily it kind of scared me a bit.  Besides the reading, he has such convincing crazy eyes that I'm half-sure that crazy-eyes are his default setting and he has to mask when he's not reading a crazy-eyes story.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: evrgrn_monster on July 09, 2013, 12:15:25 AM
I loved this story. I can see where people could say that the beginning was info-dumpy, but I disagree with that sentiment. My favorite part of sci-fi is the story of new technologies (even though I super non-techy) and how they shape the world they are in. This story did this in a sweet way, and I felt for the two characters and their places in life. Sure, the ending may have been a bit predictable and sappy, but that was exactly what I wanted out of this story, and I am so glad the author delivered. I don't know what other resolution I could have been given that would've left such a big smile on my face and a hungering for more about these two. Thumbs up from this listener!

Stories like this remind me of early Pixar movies; take something predictable in a genre, give it a little twist, then tell the story incredibly well. It may be something we've seen before, but it's so well done, such a good example of that particular story, that we don't mind.

Also, very much enjoyed the narration. Soft, clean, easy to listen to; like your dad telling you a bed time story.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: TB3 on July 09, 2013, 12:42:42 AM
Oh, my. Am I the only one who got a Cordwainer Smith vibe from this story? Bits of The Ballad of Lost C'Mell, The Game of Rat and Dragon, and many more of the Instrumentality of Mankind stories. Even the names had the taste of Smith. And the wonderful conceit of 'namedropping' characters and technologies and events left unexplained, just to add color.
It even had that melancholy feel that pervades so many of Smith's stories.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Windup on July 09, 2013, 01:08:28 AM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

Basically, we have to survive a huge long infodump in the beginning, then we get to the exciting card game part, and then we have our metal heroine tell our hero the backstory. Which is over and done with in a sentence or two (coz we already did it in the beginning).

The fix is SO trivial: Start at the cardgame. Guy wins metal chick. Now metal chick gives him and us the backstory!! Et voilá, as they say in Spain (Or was it Portugal?), story structure fixed, no massive info-dump, better flow, better hook to get us into the story!!


I disagree with you, MasterZap.  Part of the reason the card game was exciting was that we knew both parties had a lot to lose -- the merchant could lose his long struggle against bankruptcy, disgrace and slavery, or our metal heroine gets sold for precious-metal scrap.  That tension existed only because we knew enough about both of them to care.  (Or, alternately, think "How is the author going to get out of this one?"  Depends on how you approach these things...)

Anyway, tell the tale after the fact, and the card game isn't nearly as interesting. 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: SonofSpermcube on July 09, 2013, 05:14:09 AM
I liked how he never just dropped a simile and left it there, he always ran with it a little bit. 

The only thing that kind of killed my suspension of disbelief was the idea that the protagonist could so simply have his own brain swapped in place of one that was grown for the purpose, into an interface designed to fit that other brain. 

I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: adrianh on July 09, 2013, 08:07:06 AM
Oh, my. Am I the only one who got a Cordwainer Smith vibe from this story?

No - see http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=7231.msg115980#msg115980 ;-)
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: TheArchivist on July 09, 2013, 09:29:26 AM
If you managed to sit through this story - it was amazing. But what was really SAD, was that the main problem with the story is soooo easily "fixed".

I disagree with you, MasterZap. 
....
Anyway, tell the tale after the fact, and the card game isn't nearly as interesting. 

This is a good point, and a fairly general one. It's so easy, after the fact, to look at a story and say "I wasn't really into it until this point, so start it there" - indeed it's a common statement in critique groups I've been in. It's usually wrong, and if the author does as s/he is advised, the story still suffers the same problem. Fundamentally, the reason you got "into" the story at point x is NOT that point x is particularly spectacular or interesting. The reason is that by the time you reach point x you have got to know the characters, the universe, well enough to care.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Unblinking on July 09, 2013, 12:31:24 PM
I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.

I wondered that too. 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: evrgrn_monster on July 10, 2013, 01:06:33 AM
I also wondered why selling all the glitter and geegaw from the body but leaving it functional, and creating some kind of adapter to plug the ship in without removing the brain from the body never occurred to Denali.

I wondered that too. 

Me too. How much would a few of those ruby fingernails have gotten him? Seemed like a simple solution.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: bounceswoosh on July 10, 2013, 10:07:22 PM
I loved this story, except maybe the ending, because I was expecting a tragedy; even though I desperately wanted everything to work out for Nerissa, somehow the way it did work out lacked oomph for me.  I didn't dislike it, but it suffered in comparison to he first 98% of the story, which absolutely enthralled me.

I don't really get complaints about info dump, because it didn't feel like an info dump to me.  An info dump is where you, as a reader, notice that the author is unloading a bunch of background on you because it's done in a clumsy way that obviously is meant to inform the reader rather than tell the story.  To me, all the events leading up to the game weren't info dump; they were the story.  Nerissa's story.

I thought it was interesting that the story called out lack of sex organs in Nerissa's body as cruel; given her intended usage as a plaything for a rich man, and given that she'd spent her entire life a slave, I was relieved that she wouldn't be exposed to that avenue of exploitation - or maybe more accurately, that I wouldn't be exposed to listening to a story about it.

There were definitely holes in the technology and the explanations/justifications, but they didn't strain my credulity so much as to catapult me out of the story; rather, I experienced this story as a fairy tale with sci-fi trappings.  I'm having some refrigerator moments right now - if they could extend a bird's effective lifetime indefinitely, wouldn't there be at least some humans who would opt for a mechanical body in exchange for eternal life, and wouldn't that be a pretty major feature of this society? hmmmm ...



Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Max e^{i pi} on July 11, 2013, 05:01:49 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: TheArchivist on July 11, 2013, 10:45:18 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....
Yes, but the narrator did say, in the backstory bit, that this was considered a barbaric ancient attitude in retrospect (one of the "you may think" bits).
Actually that's a topic that isn't often explored. My brother was musing a little while back on our tendency to look at the past and say "weren't those <insert-historical-period> barbaric with the way they treated <insert-group>" while completely forgetting that the historical people in question looked back at their predecessors in the same way. He predicted, and I fully agree, that our descendents will look back on us and see our attitudes as barbaric, in ways we can guess at and ways we can't. I liked the way (the early part of) this story picked up on that.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: matweller on July 11, 2013, 12:56:23 PM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....
Yes, but the narrator did say, in the backstory bit, that this was considered a barbaric ancient attitude in retrospect (one of the "you may think" bits).
Actually that's a topic that isn't often explored. My brother was musing a little while back on our tendency to look at the past and say "weren't those <insert-historical-period> barbaric with the way they treated <insert-group>" while completely forgetting that the historical people in question looked back at their predecessors in the same way. He predicted, and I fully agree, that our descendents will look back on us and see our attitudes as barbaric, in ways we can guess at and ways we can't. I liked the way (the early part of) this story picked up on that.

The whole basis of the story was that the ship he was making was unique because they didn't enslave any species' brains anymore because it was considered barbaric. When he found a prepared brain box -- something that was not supposed to exist anymore -- he thought he understood that it actually wanted to fly among the stars. He thought maybe he knew something the whole rest of the world didn't and he leveraged his whole future on that. When he found out his thinking was erred -- that the eagle brain /did/ like to fly among the stars, but even that was not enough to make up for the pain of the connection -- he decided to sacrifice himself rather than harm this other sentient creature.

Don't think for a minute that we're advanced beyond the crudest estimation of what you describe. I don't think there's a government in the world today that wouldn't line up 1% of it's population and summarily execute them in exchange for the strategic/economic/scientific advantages that could be gained by making a leap of magnitude like the upgrade to the bird ships offered in this story.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: DoctorBob on July 11, 2013, 07:13:56 PM
Put me down as absolutely loving this story. As others have commented, it had an old SF vibe to it that I absolutely adored. I loved the feeling of unfathomable deep time that this story evoked by the long infodump at the beginning and the uplifting, unspecified ending that the pair had many great adventures made me smile. I found the narration excellent. I was just starting to see the solution to Denali and Nerissa's problem when the author dropped it on me, which was perfect. These are the stories I read in my youth, and it's nice to occasionally find fresh ones.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Just Jeff on July 12, 2013, 01:42:28 AM
I loved this story, mostly because the narration was beautiful. My biggest problem was the ending. My response was, really? That's your solution? As others have mentioned, seemed like there were other options to be explored.

And once the decision was made, seemed like things were wrapped up in a couple of hasty paragraphs and we're done. Not very satisfying, that.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Windup on July 12, 2013, 02:39:00 AM
Oh, that reminds me.
The people in this universe thought it not OK to put somebody's brain on the keel of a ship. But it was OK to take a golden eagle, upgrade the brain to human levels, and then stick it onto the keel of a starship (did they use duct tape?).
Not cool in my book.
But they probably didn't think too highly of synthetic intelligences, so....

Yes, but it's not your book, and that's the point. ;)

As others have mentioned, the narrator noted that this belief in a difference between what was OK to do to synthetic and natural intelligences was something that had passed away by the narrator's time, and was viewed as a strange aspect of an earlier civilization. Much the way we view, say, combat in the Roman arena. I thought the author used this as a clever way of showing the distance in time between the different periods of the story. 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: ElectricPaladin on July 18, 2013, 04:19:11 PM
Let's see...
 • Sentient starships... check.
 • Epic legendary style incongruously mixed with a science fiction setting... check.
 • Questions of morality, duty, destiny, and identity... check.
 • Excellent pacing, craft, and narration... check, check, and check.

Thanks for producing a story just for me!

Seriously, I loved this one. I love everything about this story, from the nonstandard science fiction setting to the supporting character's three increasingly dramatic choices, all leading up to the final terrible choice. The storytelling tone really drew me in, creating the feeling that I was learning more details about a story that I already knew, but didn't remember just now. It was splendid.

I will definitely investigate this author's ebook.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Gamercow on July 26, 2013, 02:08:05 PM
For me this story started of slow.  Interesting, but slow.  Then around the time of the card game, my brain clicked, the penny dropped, and I started viewing this story as a "tale", along the lines of Arabian Nights, or the Knights of the Round Table.  Viewed from that standpoint, the wordiness of it became a beautiful weaving of story.  Not sure how I can explain it, but it definitely made a difference.  Excellent narration, by the way.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: CompiledTom on August 02, 2013, 03:53:38 PM
I liked the first part, and would have loved to hear more about the eagles being used to drive ships through space, on the other hand everything in present time was a little dull i thought.

Two questions : First we are told that Eagles were the best creatures, that makes me wonder how useful a human would be.
Also the eagle (can't remember her name) says that travelling through space is so painful she would rather die than do it, yet the guy at the end apparently had no problems..

The original starships were driven by Human brains. It was only after using Humans for this purpose was outlawed that engineers looked around for another method of guiding starships through space. I doubt the Golden Eagle brain was better than the Human brain, since it required additional technology to be grafted on in order to work, but it served because the Golden Eagle's brain has a large visual cortex.

As to the pain: the pain wasn't in flying the ship. The author made it very clear that she loved flying between the stars. The pain came when she was cut free from the keel of the ship and her brain case was connected to equipment it wasn't designed for. While she loved starflight more than anything, she simply couldn't go through the pain again in order to have that opportunity.

Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: CompiledTom on August 02, 2013, 04:12:07 PM
I absolutely loved this story. I loved the fairy tale style, and I thought the author's reading was great. (And for what it's worth: Steve read a couple of his own stories in the past.)

I have to admit that I'm a sucker for stories that explore relationships between humans and AI's or Humanoid robots. One of the biggest reasons I  watched Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles was the relationship between John, the Human and Cameron, the Robot.

This story is interesting, not so much because a man falls in love with a (mostly) machine, but mostly I think because the man himself is such a study in opposites: he's a good man, as can be seen by the way he treats the "story telling machine", but he's also a bit selfish: he lures the duke into a card game with the express purpose of taking the robot.

But again, this goes back to the fairy tale nature of the story: fairy tales and fables are full of characters who fall in love and who will do anything to have the object of their affection. And there's no doubt he loves Nerissa thoroughly and utterly. She's not a machine to him. She's a person, and she deserves her freedom, not to be bound as a slave.

That, of course, is what makes his sacrifice so poetic. He not only gives up his Human life in order to save her, but he actually becomes what she was. After that moment, neither of them could ever possibly be apart from the other. After all, who better could understand Nerissa but another ship mind, and who would ever love Denali more than Nerissa could?

That they loved each other, I have no doubt. She loved him for his kindness and his sacrifice and their shared bond of this experience of being a ship mind, and he loved her not just for her glittering jeweled body - remember that he was going to sell it for parts before he actually met her - but for her charm and wit and for the things she brought to his life.

Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Lambear on August 02, 2013, 05:01:05 PM
Completely loved this story, it's just so full of great imagery! Did anyone else have the song "Dancing in the Moonlight" stuck in their head by the end?

I know some didn't like the long exposition at the start, but that didn't bother me. It felt like an important part of the story rather than just a lot of unnecessary info.

I did accurately guess how it was going to end the moment he presented the ship and she refused to be taken from her current body. It seemed the only way for things to work out, though I also wondered if she'd just fly the ship manually rather than by brain power, which, in a way, she kinda did.

The only thing this story left wanting was more tales of their adventures. Do you know if David D Levine wrote more about this pair or is this a one-off?
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: benjaminjb on August 07, 2013, 03:19:27 PM
I'm with adianh and TB3: I got a very strong Cordwainer Smith vibe off this story. Perhaps because of that association, I guessed pretty early where the story would go. But that didn't diminish my enjoyment of the piece, which got along well with me without surprise but with some interesting characters and scenes.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: rotheche on August 19, 2013, 07:50:23 AM
I loved this yarn.  I'm glad I was in a mood and place to be able to let it unwind at its own pace and get lost in it: it had a lovely slow and steady rhythm that drew me in.  If there are more stories of the silver captain and human ship, I'd love to read or hear them.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: LaShawn on September 16, 2013, 03:36:26 PM
Oh, beautiful! Gorgeous story. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. the card game had me on edge, though David had dropped hints it turned out well. I did see the end coming when the MC realized he was out of options, and yet I enjoyed the bittersweetness of it.

David's a great storyteller. Loved it to bits. Now I'll have to check out his book as well!
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: Darwinist on October 15, 2013, 12:36:27 AM
Fascinating story.  Excellent narration.  Loved it. 
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: BethPeters on October 15, 2013, 05:04:52 PM
This is also one of my favorite stories I've heard on Escapepod.  Brilliant, original and emotionally engaging.  This is why I come to science fiction.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: CryptoMe on October 28, 2013, 01:51:45 AM
Add me to the "what info dump, where?" camp. To me, it just sounded like the natural unrolling of a good story. But I am partial to stories that begin at the beginning and not in the middle.
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: hardware on January 14, 2014, 12:32:08 PM
This was unexpectedly enjoyable. A fairy-tale styled story set in a Science Fictional universe where there was actually an co-evolution of technology and ethics, and a pretty touching love story to boost. Not much to dislike in my eyes. OK, maybe that dance scene in the moonlight felt a wee tacky, but that's a minor spot. The reading was also very good.   
Title: Re: EP402: The Tale of the Golden Eagle
Post by: SmiiiLee on February 08, 2016, 08:25:46 PM
I think this was one of my favorite ones so far. The end was amazing, it gave me the chills.