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Author Topic: EP119: Aliens Want Our Women  (Read 20559 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: August 16, 2007, 02:43:14 PM »

EP119: Aliens Want Our Women

By Ramona Louise Wheeler.
Read by Leann Mabry (of Tag in the Seam).

He was a widower, weary of too many years of loneliness. He had decided to travel to someplace distant and exotic, in hopes of finding as a companion someone completely different from his lost love. He had chosen Earth for its very remoteness.

“I want to marry the most wonderful woman on Earth,” he said.

Every female on the planet had just acquired a brand new agenda in life.


Rated G. Contains gender role stereotyping, but no strong sex, language or violence. Sorry.


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eytanz
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« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2007, 03:10:58 PM »

Huh.

"Sex and the City" meets "Childhood's End" (well, the first half of "Childhood's End", at least), and, perhaps, also meeting "Bluebeard", depending on what you think is going to happen next.

Instead of debating whether or not this story is SF, I'm going to debate whether or not this story is a relationship story - there is no actual *relationship* here, between the narrator and her alien husband - there's basically a prolonged blind date. It may or may not be the prelude to a relationship (depending on what the wives die from), but it's basically a tale of women acting really, really stupid over a handsome stranger, writ large. I'm harboring a suspicion that it's meant to be ironic, but I'm not entirely sure.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2007, 03:14:26 PM by eytanz » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2007, 03:12:29 PM »

Well written, but I don't like it.

The premise is misogynistic: Jealousy is the most powerful force in the feminine psyche?  The alien asserts that women motived by the desire to discover and achieve would take centuries to develop star-drive, if they ever got around to it at all, while women motivated by jealousy will get it done in a snap.  The desire to see the galaxy will not get women off the couch, but the desire to be arm-candy for an alien hunk will make them work tirelessly.

That's demeaning, and not funny, and the story doesn't seem to have much point beyond delivering this rather heavy-handed insult to female dignity.  And I don't think it's true: The average woman has a much greater breadth of interest than competing for the most eligible bachelor.

The spaceships were cool.

Thumbs down from me.
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eytanz
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2007, 03:17:09 PM »

I'm not sure I'd go so far as call this misogynistic - it seems to me to be on par of a lot of woman-oriented entertainment, which seems to delight in perpetuating these stereotypes. But then, I'm a man, and I'm a bit wary of being overly critical on this point, since maybe I just don't get it.
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Swamp
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2007, 04:09:54 PM »

This was an okay story as it qualified under the fun category, but, yeah, it was a bit shallow.

Understatement of the week:
Quote
Contains gender role stereotyping...
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2007, 06:21:01 AM »

I can suspend belief for a little bit on a story like this, but come on...women inventing interstellar travel?  They can't even do math. ...

I keed, I keed...

This was an interesting story.  I question the part about the rest of the galaxy not contacting civilizations until they have a constitution.  Only about 300 million Americans are living under a constitution of some sort right now.  Lots of people in other countries are still under feudal or dictatorial rule.  Would the aliens only talk to US citizens?  Also, when the constitution was written there wasn't such a thing as radio, so how would they know we were even here and that we wrote a constitution?  That was my biggest gripe about this story.  Overall it was fun, but not great.
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eytanz
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2007, 06:49:54 AM »

Well, I think it's not important how many humans actually live under the constitution, what matters is that humans can come up with one - it's either a cognitive or moral aptitude test.

I don't think we're meant to think to much about the practicalities of how they figured out we're here. Maybe the aliens patrol the galaxy looking for planets that support life, and when they find one, they periodically check to see if it developed a constitution yet. If they have low-cost FTL travel, it may be feasible to do so.

But I don't think that there's much point thinking too much about the logical underpinnings of this story.
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VBurn
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2007, 10:23:05 AM »

I was surprised at how sexist I found this story (mainly because I am male and usually don't care about or notice such things).  I can deal with a story that has a sexist character and chalk it up to a character flaw.  But, to me and I maybe completely wrong here, the whole story was a set up for one big sexist statement.  It was poor twist ending that left me feeling cheated.  So I guess I have to give kudos to the author for the first 90% of the story because it really sucked me in. 
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wherethewild
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« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2007, 11:27:47 AM »

I´m quite sure that what I´m about to write is also influenced by a particularly condescending discussion (concerning the uselessness of female scientists and the superiority of US science) I got involved in today, so take it into account that I´m in a oversensitive mood, especially concerning these topics.

I haven´t finished listening to the story ´cause I´m already annoyed at it and I´m not interested enough in it to find out the twist. I reckon can figure it out from the other comments here and, if that´s it, it´ll just annoy me more.

I have a feeling the author meant for the heroine (I´m going to use Romance genre descriptions here) to be Trillian (several dropped half lines about wanting to get off planet even if she stole his ship, and about being over qualified). This may have worked if the author actually followed that through, but didn´t. Rather it appeared she cut the heroine´s backstory so that she came across as a shallow, husband hungry, predatory woman to start with and then a pathetic, weak, sappy, stereotypical Romance heroine. It was inconsistent
and horribly, horribly, shallow and condescending. Stuff that I´d expect to read in a Harlequin book with Fabio on the cover, but not listen to here. Thanks to the author for sticking up for the gender alongside all those Britney clones out there.

The second thing which got up my nose was the US-centricness of it. Yeah, ok, the author is USian but come on already! The US constitution is the important one? Not the several thousand years of work on constitutions before that? Simply Wikipedia it and you´ll find a reference to Aristotle´s work defining constitutional law, the Roman, Japanese and Islamic constitutions -what about the Magna Carta?- that predate the US constitution by, oh, just a little. The suggestion in the story that the alien had travelled ALL over the US before setting foot in London? The idea that Hollywood is all that´s on offer? Eytanz is right that there´s little point in nitpicking the logical underpinnings of the story, but to me this just made the author sound ignorant and arrogant.

So this is where I´ve ended the story and I have no desire to listen any further. I did enjoy Blink, Don´t Blink, so I´m massively disappointed that the author wrote such a shallow story with this kind of female lead. And, like I said, I´m waaaay sensitive on this subject today.
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Talia
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2007, 10:59:56 PM »

Huh.

"Sex and the City" meets "Childhood's End" (well, the first half of "Childhood's End", at least), and, perhaps, also meeting "Bluebeard", depending on what you think is going to happen next.

Instead of debating whether or not this story is SF, I'm going to debate whether or not this story is a relationship story - there is no actual *relationship* here, between the narrator and her alien husband - there's basically a prolonged blind date. It may or may not be the prelude to a relationship (depending on what the wives die from), but it's basically a tale of women acting really, really stupid over a handsome stranger, writ large. I'm harboring a suspicion that it's meant to be ironic, but I'm not entirely sure.

Well, I would argue there is at least the start of the relationship, and would that not, in and of itself, qualify as a relationship story? I think the start of relationships is quite an important part. Smiley I, for one, am left curious as to how the relationship between these two would develop and evolve as time passed... and that suggests to me it is indeed a relationship story. Or maybe its a promise of a relationship story, more than one in and of itself. The concept of stories suggesting future stories is kind of interesting to me.

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eytanz
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2007, 11:58:17 PM »

Or maybe its a promise of a relationship story, more than one in and of itself.

That's what I meant - there may well be a relationship in store for these characters, but the story ended just as it began.
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ajames
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« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2007, 06:44:13 AM »


Or maybe its a promise of a relationship story, more than one in and of itself. The concept of stories suggesting future stories is kind of interesting to me.


I was drawn into this story at the beginning by presentation of the alien, first through his voice as he traveled to earth and his decision to show pictures of the solar system rather than himself [a nice bit of foreshadowing as the author states how seductive his voice was to the women of earth, and he redirects their attention to the solar system itself]. then I was even more intrigued by the description of the alien himself ['more human than human' -- not original, I know, but powerfully evocative].

But in the end I thought the author did a much better job at raising interest and suggesting possibilities than delivering the goods.  To me it was like being a kid again and opening that large gift under the christmas tree, only to find it is a box full of underwear.*  Not even Buck Rogers' underwear, just plain old whitey-tidys.  And perhaps hidden somewhere in all of this an I.O.U. for a trip to the toy store.

Oh, and I found the spaceships to be the same way.  The suggestion of coolness left largely unfulfilled.

I really enjoyed Blink, Don't Blink.  In my book, R. Wheeler is 1 for 2 so far.

*Or better, to reflect some of the reaction to the stereotyping in this story, rather than underwear, some B.R.A.T.Z. dolls.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2007, 06:55:50 AM by ajames » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2007, 08:39:36 PM »

This story started out well, explaining why the aliens couldn't get here due to gravity cracks. I do love the discussion of interstellar travel. The relationship side of this story kinda dragged me down. I am not one who opposes relationships in stories, I just want more science fiction than relationships in my science fiction. If that sounded confusing, I am sorry, there is no other way that I can think to put it.
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mjn9
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« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2007, 08:30:50 PM »

Wasn't there a story awhile back on Escape Pod about time travelers going back in time to recruit "our women" for snuff films?  I got a moment of deju vu listening to this one, although the aliens treated "our women" much better in the end than the human time travelers did....
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Biscuit
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« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2007, 09:11:05 PM »

I was almost going to leap up and yell "Rawr! Girl Power!"...but after reading some of the comments here, I've had pause for thought.

Has our society been so tweaked in the last 40-odd years, that we're afraid to breathe around women-power issues? According to readers, here women are either "husband hungry bitches" or "jealous bitches".

But what motivates men, and male success? Yup, the same things. Human Beings may be sentient, powerful beings but we still operate on the one thing that drives ALL species - to procreate.

We're here to better ourselves, but ultimately it's bettering the life of FUTURE generations.

What if the gender roles were reversed in this story? Who would still be in the wrong? Yup, the "seeking to dominate male society" woman.

Either way, we (females as a whole) can't win. It hurts the brain.

In closing, I really liked the story. If I really wanted to catagorize it - "nice piece of feminist writing". Thar, I said it Wink
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eytanz
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« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2007, 09:48:43 PM »

I was almost going to leap up and yell "Rawr! Girl Power!"...but after reading some of the comments here, I've had pause for thought.

Has our society been so tweaked in the last 40-odd years, that we're afraid to breathe around women-power issues? According to readers, here women are either "husband hungry bitches" or "jealous bitches".

I am perfectly happy to discuss women-power issues. And neither I, nor anyone else in this thread, classified women that way.

Quote
What if the gender roles were reversed in this story? Who would still be in the wrong? Yup, the "seeking to dominate male society" woman.

Either way, we (females as a whole) can't win. It hurts the brain.

So, you (Biscuit, not women as a whole) pre-determine the response the other posters here will have, and based on your imagined response you decide you can't win.

You may find that women may have an easier chance of "winning" if you actually take the time to see what people here will say, rather than just put words in our mouths.

Quote
But what motivates men, and male success? Yup, the same things. Human Beings may be sentient, powerful beings but we still operate on the one thing that drives ALL species - to procreate.

We're here to better ourselves, but ultimately it's bettering the life of FUTURE generations.

Men are motivated by the desire to find suitable mates, just as much as women are. That much is certainly true. But there is a lot more than just that. There is greed, and the desire power. The desire for fame. The desire for knowledge. The desire to do what no-one has done before, the desire to solve a problem that others cannot. No-one questions it when a man makes a scientific discovery based on any of these.

The way I read it, this story is not empowering to women because according to it, women cannot be motivated to do science unless someone dangles a beautiful man in front of them like a carrot. Women may be capable of more then men, but they need to be manipulated into it, or they will never achieve it. At least that's what the alien seems to believe, and the narrator seems to agree.

Well, I know women in sciences - in the real world. They are fully capable scientists, as good as, if not better, than the men they work with, and their successes in their fields have nothing to do with whether they are married or dating. These women are perfectly capable of doing anything a man can do, without needing to be manipulated into it by anyone. The story does not seem to allow for that.

Quote
In closing, I really liked the story. If I really wanted to catagorize it - "nice piece of feminist writing". Thar, I said it Wink

Ok, so you said it. I'd like to hear why you think it is feminist - is it just because it suggests that women are capable of solving serious scientific problems? Is that on its own empowering? Or is there something else that I'm missing?

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Biscuit
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« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2007, 10:29:57 PM »

Hey Eytanz Smiley

I'd call it feminist, because it's empowering women in many ways.

- The alien said it himself - the female protaganist approached him (which can seem very forward in some societies).
- Even though the motivation for future enhancement may be jealously, surely if an intelligent woman recognizes this, she is transcending the original emotion in the betterment of herself/humanity.
- The female was aggressively honest about what she wanted. It's built into our genes that we look for the best looking/most intelligent partner to further the success of the species. When a guy does it, it's called "getting your rocks off" or "a mid life crisis". When a woman does it, it's called "being a dominating bitch" or "chick lit" Wink

Steve put it fairly succinctly in his intro - relationships in literature are broad strokes for the sake of dynamics and drama.

Sorry if I was putting words in where there weren't any Smiley. Ok, I'm touchy about feminist (or seemingly feminist) issues. I'm not arguing that any of us don't see equality - we're all pretty intelligent peeps.

What it comes down to is a great quote I saw in the context of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy (no politics here). To paraphrase "The equality debate should not be about whether she'd make a good president because she's a woman...it's about whether she'd make a good president because of her politics, and what she's like as a human being."

Cheers Smiley



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Swamp
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2007, 12:19:20 AM »

I'd call it feminist, because it's empowering women in many ways.

This fascinates me.  It just goes to show that I have a lot to learn about feminism.  The basic feeling that I got from the story was that it was degrading to women, not to extreme, but implied.  I expected the comments in this thread to be filled with women posters with that viewpoint; and there were some.  However I found many male posters as well, expressing that same opinion as I had (at least those that I know are male or female from the context of these posts or my knowledge of frequent forum posters).

And now Biscuit has come along as stated that this is a very pro women feminist peice.  Again, I am fascinated and look forward to more input from other women readers/listeners.  Anarkey?  Palimpsest?  Are you out there?
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 12:28:07 AM by kmmrlatham » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2007, 09:16:11 AM »

A SciFi Poem

Title: Alien, Space Ship, New Food, Hyperdrive

ALIEN!
A Nicole Smith marries an old rich man to
SPACE SHIP!
Take her away from her small town life
NEW Food!
All women that see her will want to
HYPERDRIVE!
enhance themselves to find an old rich man too



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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2007, 09:16:49 AM »

I think the story was a little too easy... just because she pursued him, she gets him.  It did actually read like a romance story stuck into sci-fi, and not necessarily adeptly.

I think the idea of Earth providing a new frontier in entertainment is a good one that could've been better-explored in another story, one that wasn't about a worldwide version of The Bachelor.

The reading was good.

As for Steve's comments about how it's hard to find positive/good relationships in fiction... have you tried erotica?  Often short erotica is more about the action rather than developing the characters' relationships via conflict with each other.  At least, in my experience.  (And my comment is certainly not all-encompassing of all erotica.)

The second thing which got up my nose was the US-centricness of it. Yeah, ok, the author is USian but come on already! The US constitution is the important one? Not the several thousand years of work on constitutions before that? Simply Wikipedia it and you´ll find a reference to Aristotle´s work defining constitutional law, the Roman, Japanese and Islamic constitutions -what about the Magna Carta?- that predate the US constitution by, oh, just a little. The suggestion in the story that the alien had travelled ALL over the US before setting foot in London? The idea that Hollywood is all that´s on offer? Eytanz is right that there´s little point in nitpicking the logical underpinnings of the story, but to me this just made the author sound ignorant and arrogant.

I think it occurs in the future -- perhaps the world has unified for whatever reason -- rather than in the now.  Apparently humanity knows there are other cultures out there, and how to get through interstellar space from a theoretical POV (the cracks), but no one's come to visit us yet.  IE, maybe there've been probes or something.  It wasn't explicit that this was happening in the future, but to me it sort of had a slight-future-y feel to it.

In "The Day The Earth Stood Still", the alien landed in the U.S.  I don't recall a reason ever being given, just that that's where he happened to land.  Maybe that's where Les happened to land -- if he'd landed just outside Moscow, maybe the main character would've been named Katya or something, and she would've gone to Tel Aviv to find him, rather than London.  

I realize at this point I'm just Devil's-Advocate-ing, but hey, someone's got to do it, right?
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