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Author Topic: EP556: In a Manner of Speaking  (Read 791 times)
eytanz
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« on: January 01, 2017, 03:44:57 AM »

EP556: In a Manner of Speaking

AUTHOR: Charity Tahmaseb
NARRATOR: Amy H. Sturgis
HOST: Tina Connolly

---

I use the last of the good candles to build the radio. I still have light. The fire burns, and there is a never-ending supply of the cheap, waxy candles in the storeroom. I will–eventually–burn through all of those. My fire will die. The cold will invade this space.

But today I have a radio. Today I will speak to the world–or what’s left of it. I compare my radio to the picture in the instructions. It looks the same, but not all the steps had illustrations. This troubles me. My radio may not work.

I crank the handle to charge the battery. This feels good. This warms my arms, and I must take deep breaths to keep going. I shake out my hand and crank some more. When buzz and static fill my ears, I nearly jump. That, too, sounds warm. I am so used to the cold. The creak and groan of ice, the howl of the wind. These cold sounds are their own kind of silence. They hold nothing warm or wet or alive.

I decide on a frequency for no other reason than I like the number. I press the button on the mouthpiece. This, according to the instructions, will let the world hear me.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Kaa
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2017, 05:20:02 PM »

This was awesome. It reminded me strongly of the second-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Pen Pals."
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I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

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katiekawaii
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« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 12:07:06 AM »

I have never commented on the Escape Pod forums before, but this story was so good that I just had to. It was *so good*. Like, be late to work because you have to hear the rest of the story good. I just loved it.
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acpracht
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2017, 09:35:33 AM »

This was awesome. It reminded me strongly of the second-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Pen Pals."
That was the one where Data was communicating with a young girl on a planet about to be destroyed, right?
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Kaa
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2017, 09:39:06 AM »

This was awesome. It reminded me strongly of the second-season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation called "Pen Pals."
That was the one where Data was communicating with a young girl on a planet about to be destroyed, right?

Yes, that's the one.
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I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
user364826
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2017, 12:52:31 PM »

There is no doubt in my mind that this will join the likes of "Exhalation" and "Friction" in my personal "best of escape pod" list. It has a beauty of its own that accents the beauty of everything.

Being a short story, it says a lot. It's paradoxically epic.
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2017, 10:37:04 AM »

There was one point where Amy paused for a second during the narration where I went "NOOOOO!  Don't you dare end the story here!!!!"  I think that's the first time I've done that on a podcast....

Loved it, and loved the twist at the end where you start hearing things from the other perspective....
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2017, 04:05:19 PM »

I have never commented on the Escape Pod forums before, but this story was so good that I just had to. It was *so good*. Like, be late to work because you have to hear the rest of the story good. I just loved it.
Welcome to the forum!  There all kinds of topics floating around in here (EP keeps it hopping). I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts about more stories, eh. Re: Episode 556. It's definately one of their better podcasts. I was able to visualize the setting and connected to the 2 characters.  Gripping narative.
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2017, 04:15:49 PM »

There is no doubt in my mind that this will join the likes of "Exhalation" and "Friction" in my personal "best of escape pod" list. It has a beauty of its own that accents the beauty of everything.

Being a short story, it says a lot. It's paradoxically epic.

As a weekend bushcrafter (I mess around with knives, axes, firebuilding, twigs, and tarps) I wanted to jump into the story and help her fortify her shelter.  The story took a dark turn (after the avalanche) where I think she's freezing to death. I got a cold pit in my stomache...  No! No! NO! The story's grippiness went to "11" as I wondered how the radio-voice would TRY to rescue the girl from hypothermia.
Now, THAT'S good story telling.  When a piece of writing can get a 46-year-old high school science teacher to get all worked up into a tizzy... nice!

The story gave me a hell of suprise at the 40 minute mark.  What's going on?  Is the shuttle-pilot-AI-being doing some kind of time travel thing and trying different senarios to get Sochi to survive longer?  I visualized this being a kind of matrix moment... where different outcomes are tried out to see with will give the most successful consequence.

Here's another image I mused... The Green Lantern Corp. Is the AI-being a Green Lantern protector? I'm assuming that the Green Lantern Corp has to witness countless planet extinctions. I wonder how the corp deals with this workplace hazard?

Whatever's happening in this story -- it's rich story telling. I like it! More, please.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2017, 04:36:24 PM by Scuba Man » Logged

"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.
Jason Fischer
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2017, 10:27:26 PM »

This story was SO good. I was gripped from start to finish and genuinely forgot that I was driving my car. Outstanding work - the story of the girl, trapped in a cold cabin, the radio her only lifeline to....to somebody? This would translate to film so easily and somebody needs to make it happen. 10/10.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2017, 02:35:37 PM »

Hmmm... As it went with her perspective I was very interested in where it was going and the reveal of what this being was that could somehow see what she's doing despite communicating over the radio.   

But it lost me near the end when it became clear that... there wasn't really any reason other than handwaving that it should be reaching her at all, and the looping nature of the relationship from his point of view... I just don't really see what the point of that was, I guess.  It seemed like a big distraction to me to insert a time-loop element right at the end (it was suggested perhaps by some of the earlier dialog, but not clearly enough so it still felt like a big twist out of nowhere).
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VranaCat
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2017, 01:27:34 PM »

I loved this story right until the end.  I can't really articulate why, but the fact that the alien being was in the process of dying while going through this loop just struck me as unsatisfying. I suppose that I understand that the author seems to be trying to make a point about his attempt to comfort the doomed girl even as he himself is dying, but it made his sacrifice seem less sincere to me.  It's like.. "I'm dying anyway, might as well talk to her I guess," as opposed to if he hadn't been dying it being "I'm caught in a time loop, and I know that until I find a way out this will keep happening, but I won't find a way to free myself until I find a way to save her, or at least grant her as much comfort as possible before her death."
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Devoted135
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2017, 11:12:30 PM »

What a powerful narration! It really brought this story alive for me. I felt every small victory and set back with her! Regarding the vignette at the end, I'm conflicted. On the one hand, I would have been frustrated if we never found out who the voice belonged to. On the other hand, that was quite a lot to just toss in there, especially the completely unexplained time looping. It's sad, I wish the ending had really nailed it.
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Zelda
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2017, 03:32:36 AM »

I was confused by the time looping. Why is it happening? Why is it that the alien is aware of it but the girl is not? If the girl has the freedom to make different choices in different trips through the loop, shouldn't she also be aware it's happening over and over again?

What I took from the story was that the Earth had become unihabitable. The girl could not be saved because there was no better place for her to escape to. If she is doomed to die, would it be more merciful to let her die quickly in the avalanche rather than slowly of hypothermia?

I'm glad we got an explaination of who the voice was despite how much that explaination confused me. The bulk of the story, told from the girl's point of view, was gripping and I enjoyed it very much.
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acpracht
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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2017, 12:14:24 PM »

If she is doomed to die, would it be more merciful to let her die quickly in the avalanche rather than slowly of hypothermia?


Not a nitpick, but true curiosity... Do we know that dying in an avalanche is "better" vis-a-vis hypothermia?

I have a suspicion that dying in an avalanche is a bit like someone suffocating you. (i.e. Last moments filled with fear and panic)

Descriptions I hear of hypothermia death seem to suggest it's more peaceful, if slower (like being anesthetized).

If anyone has informed input, I'd be curious. (Yes, it's morbid curiosity).
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SteinUlf
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2017, 03:09:57 PM »

I hate this sort of story.  It was beautifully written and powerfully moving.  Listening to this story left me crying in impotent rage.  It reminds me of Tears for Algernon or the Little Matchstick Girl.  I don't mind stories where the hero dies, at least they get to die well, to go out swinging, to die trying.  But in this story, its so frustrating and hopeless, and I'm left feeling utterly helpless. 

I've spent years camping and hiking.  I know how to survive in the conditions Soshi found herself in.  I know how to use candles to heat a shelter, how to seal it to keep the cold out.  I kept hoping she would know how to do any of those things.  And then, when I recognized the signs of hypothermia, I wanted so much for something, anything, to save Soshi.  Even when I was sure she was doomed, I had to keep listening, just in case. 

And then, when we realize that not only is Jatar unable to do anything, but he's stuck in a loop, and every freaking time he answers the little voice on the radio, that's when I lost it.  Because I know, if somehow I was Jatar, I would answer back every time.  I'd embrace that feeling of a knife carving up my insides, that helplessness, just so some random little girl wouldn't die alone.  Every damn time.

I cannot say I enjoyed this story.  But it was masterfully written and narrated.  I wanted to drive my truck to whatever mountain Soshi was dying on, and climb it, just to have a chance to save her.  It takes an exquisitely skilled author to invoke that level of feeling. 
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acpracht
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« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2017, 08:32:35 PM »

I hate this sort of story.  It was beautifully written and powerfully moving.  Listening to this story left me crying in impotent rage.  It reminds me of Tears for Algernon or the Little Matchstick Girl.  I don't mind stories where the hero dies, at least they get to die well, to go out swinging, to die trying.  But in this story, its so frustrating and hopeless, and I'm left feeling utterly helpless. 

I've spent years camping and hiking.  I know how to survive in the conditions Soshi found herself in.  I know how to use candles to heat a shelter, how to seal it to keep the cold out.  I kept hoping she would know how to do any of those things.  And then, when I recognized the signs of hypothermia, I wanted so much for something, anything, to save Soshi.  Even when I was sure she was doomed, I had to keep listening, just in case. 

And then, when we realize that not only is Jatar unable to do anything, but he's stuck in a loop, and every freaking time he answers the little voice on the radio, that's when I lost it.  Because I know, if somehow I was Jatar, I would answer back every time.  I'd embrace that feeling of a knife carving up my insides, that helplessness, just so some random little girl wouldn't die alone.  Every damn time.

I cannot say I enjoyed this story.  But it was masterfully written and narrated.  I wanted to drive my truck to whatever mountain Soshi was dying on, and climb it, just to have a chance to save her.  It takes an exquisitely skilled author to invoke that level of feeling. 
Oy. Gutpunch. Well put.
Adam
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Zelda
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« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2017, 04:48:37 AM »

If she is doomed to die, would it be more merciful to let her die quickly in the avalanche rather than slowly of hypothermia?


Not a nitpick, but true curiosity... Do we know that dying in an avalanche is "better" vis-a-vis hypothermia?

I have a suspicion that dying in an avalanche is a bit like someone suffocating you. (i.e. Last moments filled with fear and panic)

Descriptions I hear of hypothermia death seem to suggest it's more peaceful, if slower (like being anesthetized).

If anyone has informed input, I'd be curious. (Yes, it's morbid curiosity).

My feeling that dying in an avalanche would be preferable is based upon my own, admittedly limited, experience of being in sudden, dangerous near-miss situations. I have found that during the event itself my thoughts are completely occupied by trying to figure out what is happening. My fear comes after the event when I can look back and realize what almost happened. My theory is that people who actually die in this type of event don't move past the confusion stage.

I'm on shakier ground with hypothermia. I have usually heard of it as being a sort of drifting off once the person has stopped trying to fight the cold. On the other hand, in a news article about a man who froze to death in his home after the city cut off his heat, a doctor described it as being a painful death. I don't know what the truth is.
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fairygothparent
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« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2017, 08:18:10 PM »

i've been listening to escape pod for a few years now but have never left comments before... not even on my favorite episodes before this one. while i am left confused about where we are left with some aspects of the story, i was absolutely hooked by both the writing and the narration and i can tell this one is going to really stick with me.
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