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Author Topic: EP561: The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie  (Read 792 times)
eytanz
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« on: February 04, 2017, 09:30:42 AM »

EP561: The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie

AUTHOR: A. Merc Rustad
NARRATOR: Setsu Uzume
HOST: Adam Pracht

---

Unit EX-702 comes back online when UV wavelengths activate its solar plating. Its optics are crusted with red dust; a low-powered system scan concludes that though its left arm is missing and there is excessive oxidation damage along its chassis and helmet, as well as a web spun from several arachnids (Nephila clavipes) now embedded in its servo stump, EX-702 is functional. Its operational protocols are intact.

This unit is programmed for the support of life and sapience.

Its databanks are semi-corrupted beyond basic functions and archived footage and base knowledge dumps. Attempts to access the ‘Net and reboot from a mobile hub fail with a repeated NO CONNECTION AVAILABLE alert. EX-702 lifts its remaining arm and scrapes dust away from its optics.

Operational Function 413: this unit will maintain self-preservation operations, including but not limited to the access of immediately available data to determine procedure, when it does not conflict with the preservation of homo sapiens’ survival.

EX-702 sits in the crater of what had been Newtonian Genetech Incorporated laboratories and HQ facility. Debris from the lab cakes the thick concrete and rusted iron walls. Its scanner matrix glitches with static-filled readouts and partially deteriorated unprocessed updates from microseconds before it was shut down.

Scientist voices agitated and unmodulated without appropriate safety masks. [STATIC] “—find survivors! Protect yourself!” [SHUT DOWN]

Something crackles against EX-702’s knee joints. Fibers, synthetic and organic—old HAZMAT suits shredded and woven around broken plywood and stripped copper wiring—shaped in a non-geometric design. Inside the structure sit three maroon and heather-brown eggs thirteen centimeters in length and six in diameter.

Processing…

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Ichneumon
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 02:04:15 PM »

I didn't really think about tales of human extinction as exciting and fun before this story. The potential of the growing "family" of speciose sentient lifeforms cooperating and exploring together provides fuel for the imagination. How will the ethics of this nonhuman society differ from ours? What outside challenges will the new society face?
There were a few statements that I felt were difficult to believe, even as fictional science. The explanation about turning back the Earth's biological clock was too much for me. It would have helped if the causes of the cataclysm had been more (or perhaps even less) fleshed out, but seemed a bit sloppy as is. Despite this, the I really enjoyed it and was rooting for the little family.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 02:20:02 PM by Ichneumon » Logged
acpracht
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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2017, 08:30:10 PM »

I didn't really think about tales of human extinction as exciting and fun before this story. The potential of the growing "family" of speciose sentient lifeforms cooperating and exploring together provides fuel for the imagination. How will the ethics of this nonhuman society differ from ours? What outside challenges will the new society face?
There were a few statements that I felt were difficult to believe, even as fictional science. The explanation about turning back the Earth's biological clock was too much for me. It would have helped if the causes of the cataclysm had been more (or perhaps even less) fleshed out, but seemed a bit sloppy as is. Despite this, the I really enjoyed it and was rooting for the little family.
After the multiple listens I need to do on each episode, I caught some hints I missed the first time.
I believe the dinosaurs, Phoenix, et al were the results of genetic engineering at the corporation (and probably subsequent mutation. We don't really know how long the android has been "out" for.)
I don't think it's entirely "head canon."
Adam Pracht
Producer
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VranaCat
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« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2017, 09:02:35 PM »

I get the feeling that in the month or so I've been posting I've probably gained a bit of a reputation as a grouch for always grumbling about something I don't like in the stories.  You know what? This time I'm not gonna do that.  Although this story is definitely more soft than hard SF it still is satisfyingly in the realm of SF for me, and I found it a quite enjoyable listen over all.  Thanks for the story!
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Zelda
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2017, 04:16:52 AM »

This story is beautifully written. But a couple of aspects of the plot made no sense to me. The idea of Earth's biological clock turning back and reviving prehistoric species sounds completely impossible. But what I really didn't get was why the dinosaurs had such advanced language abilities. That seemed like a magical element, introduced to make the post appocalyptic world a new Eden. (One that had to be saved from the snake of human selfishness which deemed an absence of humans to be appropriate reason to introduce death.)
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Kittenpox
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 12:12:08 PM »

The story was definitely enjoyable, even though there were quite a few aspects of the story that broke the immersion.
(The presence of a phoenix that is hardly used in the story, when the archaeopteryx would have sufficed if the avian needed to be included at all. EX-702 doesn't attempt to re-interpret what counts as having "identified" "human" sentient life, and just gives up. The program shut-down accelerating when there's absolutely no reason for that to be a feature in the undesired program. The sudden introduction of the raptor's l33t h4x0r 5k!llz, when finding a panel with an 'On' button to press after the shutdown would have been sufficient. Stuff like that.)

I did have a long post typed out going into more detail on those, but I definitely did enjoy the story despite those things. Plus it's clear a lot of love went into writing the story, so I'd much rather not rain on anyone's parade by nitpicking.

On the other side, I loved how EX-702's name became gradually shortened during the shut-down. It was a very nice touch, as was "the doctor is a rusted socket wrench!" being a form of coarse language. Cheesy
The story was well-written. I just didn't understand why various elements were included/overlooked.
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amrowe
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2017, 12:21:13 AM »

I enjoyed this story, I thought it was ambitious and creative.  Like the others I found myself having to suspend disbelief to accept a reality in which super smart post-apocalyptic dinosaur orphans are raised by an android and then together adopt a pet phoenix. But I was honestly felt relieved when the babies spoke because then the androids life would not be so lonely.  That was also when I realized the story had one me over.

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affert
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 01:19:27 PM »

I enjoyed this story.   I was really struck by the different attitudes between the Lieutenant Bella Strovhurd (spelling?) and Dr Urushami.  Both left messages assuming their own death.  Neither knew what would happen.  But Bella's assumption was that the unknown was a source of hope, but to Dr Urushami, that same unknown was viewed with despair.  It's a good reminder that it's hard to predict the future, and to give others the benefit of that doubt.
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Fenrix
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Have you found the Yellow Sign?


« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2017, 10:21:52 AM »

This one surprised me by having a whole lot of feels. The quiet despair of an android not wanting to cease to exist was quite poignant. Precision workmanship!

I had no problem with the "turning back the biological clock" bit. I grew up with scifi canon including a magic-spirital-science Genesis bomb terraforming a planet and resurrecting Spock. This story was a little less allegory and a couple more nods towards science. The peripheral bits about the genetic modification from the corporation was enough pointing for me.

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I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Varsha
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« Reply #9 on: Yesterday at 01:29:24 PM »

I liked this one

The idea of people who want to good, but screw it up is not new, but here is a fresh version of it.
There is no mention of how many years passed since whatever bad disaster happened, so its believeable.
It reminded me of the game "Talos Principle"

Narration was great - clear voice.
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