Author Topic: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls  (Read 4035 times)

eytanz

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EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« on: April 14, 2017, 10:56:55 PM »
EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls

AUTHOR: J. E.Bates
NARRATOR: Trendane Sparks
HOST: Alasdair Stuart

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Fine amber dust infiltrated everything in the Preserve. Each morning, I vacuumed it away with my ventral hose prior to opening my kiosk. I paid particular care to my curios: the fossils, the bismuth crystals, and the beetle-cleaned skulls. Forebears, especially the children, delighted in receiving my curios as gifts. Each successful transaction gave me a burst of surplus energy, expressed as pride.

The mineral specimens I gathered from the talus behind the kiosk. I polished them right in the kiosk according to aesthetic principles. But I prepared the skulls in the subterranean machine rooms. They were created from deceased rhuka, a species of domesticated bovine. No other kiosk attendant created such skulls, and Forebears traveled great distances to receive one. They used them to decorate their caves.

A biped appeared on my mass scanner, recognizable as a male humanoid. As the mass approached, I further identified it as the Forebear named Peggin. I recognized his adolescent gait, his subpar physique, and the idiosyncrasies of his heat signature, among other things. Other Forebears only visited my kiosk for fabricator requests or the occasional curio, but Peggin came almost every day.

“Hey, Kruc,” he said, crumpling to a squat just inside the door. Beside him, one of the fabricators hummed, a pottery mold spinning into shape within its matter conversion field.

I waggled a manipulator in greeting. “Hello, friend. Do you find the dust tolerable today? Would you like some clean, potable water? Have you resolved your dispute with Targ?”

“Yes, no, and definitely not,” he said, voice listless and eyes shut. “He’s a beast. What am I going to do?”

“You could carve,” I said, hoping to reduce his distress. “A new skull is ready.” Peggin decorated my skulls, carving geometric patterns into the white bone before painting them with pigments derived from local sediments. The whorls of red, yellow and blue formed pleasing patterns and increased their desirability in the eyes of the Forebears.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!

Father Beast

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2017, 12:02:42 AM »
Well, This was neat and enjoyable. The idea of Machines becoming custodians of their human creators was a bit cliche, but I found it plausible. Even if they do decide to maintain their humans in a primitive society, rather than equal partners in the spacefaring and engineering projects.

The Problem at the end which spells the end of the machine culture, but not the humans, given that they are less susceptible to the hard radiation, just doesn't hold water. Just off the top of my head, several hundred miles of planet should block most radiation; or build a ship to put some machines on and get out of the way of the radiation for a while. The idea that they just accept extinction without considering alternatives doesn't make sense.

Still, it was fun, and I enjoyed it.

Jethro's belt

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 03:42:18 PM »
OOOH, a post and pre-apocalypse story in one, neither of which is my favored type but resulting in something really satisfying. I like the pacing of the reveals quite a lot, neither too fast to spoil the suspense nor agonizingly and painfully slow. Narrations as of late have been excellent as was this one. 

Katzentatzen

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2017, 07:43:44 PM »
Non-interference stories I always find fascinating.
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irishlazz

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2017, 01:06:51 PM »
Well I actually signed in to comment on Episode 572, but that thread has not been started yet.  :o  So while I'm here...

I found this an enjoyable story in spite of my eyeroll moments.  If our future survival relies on the benevolence of machines we make I don't think we stand a chance.  And, as Father Beast pointed out, the Robot Overlords give up far too easily.  Fun lines of thought to contemplate, nonetheless.
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." A.Einstein

rackhamm

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2017, 12:57:46 AM »
Unlike others, I had no trouble suspending disbelief to imagine a natural phenomenon that could wipe out the machines but leave biological life relatively unharmed. They say a coronal mass ejection aimed at the right spot or some other type of massive EMP could do much the same to our current technology today (barring anything set up in a Faraday cage), and it seems like we discover existentially frightening new facts about our universe all the time.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 01:01:32 AM by rackhamm »

Ichneumon

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2017, 04:01:41 PM »
I hope the robots left a library, three months is not enough time to learn a civilization's worth of knowledge! Kruc was an interesting character, making friends and questioning mortality.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2017, 04:04:13 PM by Ichneumon »

Fenrix

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2017, 01:46:02 AM »
I really enjoyed this story, and the solutions achieved through non-violence. Nicely done!

I hope the robots left a library, three months is not enough time to learn a civilization's worth of knowledge! Kruc was an interesting character, making friends and questioning mortality.

Sure there was a library.  Stored in mp3's and on floppy discs. Was papermaking even one of the relics they preserved? Our protagonist was weird for preserving one of their artistic passions.
All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

acpracht

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2017, 09:27:28 PM »
I really enjoyed this story, and the solutions achieved through non-violence. Nicely done!

I hope the robots left a library, three months is not enough time to learn a civilization's worth of knowledge! Kruc was an interesting character, making friends and questioning mortality.

Sure there was a library.  Stored in mp3's and on floppy discs. Was papermaking even one of the relics they preserved? Our protagonist was weird for preserving one of their artistic passions.

For some reason I'm picturing printers humming nonstop across the planet for three months.

I would argue that paper and printing would have been preserved among the AIs (Computers were supposed to kill paper books, but they're still kicking... and a printer is considered an important computer accessory).

And, yes, AIs are probably more comfortable with the 1s and 0s, but if our humans don't have computers, how else are AIs going to communicate important messages to their charges?

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Fenrix

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2017, 02:36:50 PM »


I hope the robots left a library, three months is not enough time to learn a civilization's worth of knowledge! Kruc was an interesting character, making friends and questioning mortality.

Sure there was a library.  Stored in mp3's and on floppy discs. Was papermaking even one of the relics they preserved? Our protagonist was weird for preserving one of their artistic passions.


For some reason I'm picturing printers humming nonstop across the planet for three months.

I would argue that paper and printing would have been preserved among the AIs (Computers were supposed to kill paper books, but they're still kicking... and a printer is considered an important computer accessory).

And, yes, AIs are probably more comfortable with the 1s and 0s, but if our humans don't have computers, how else are AIs going to communicate important messages to their charges?


I'm not confident this society would have paper, printers, or ink. The overseers are preserving the species, not sending them to schools and ensuring the hominids are literate. When they need to tell them things, they have the audio announcement system.
All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”

Trendane

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2017, 02:41:27 PM »

Stone tablets, then!

acpracht

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2017, 11:26:16 PM »


I hope the robots left a library, three months is not enough time to learn a civilization's worth of knowledge! Kruc was an interesting character, making friends and questioning mortality.

Sure there was a library.  Stored in mp3's and on floppy discs. Was papermaking even one of the relics they preserved? Our protagonist was weird for preserving one of their artistic passions.


For some reason I'm picturing printers humming nonstop across the planet for three months.

I would argue that paper and printing would have been preserved among the AIs (Computers were supposed to kill paper books, but they're still kicking... and a printer is considered an important computer accessory).

And, yes, AIs are probably more comfortable with the 1s and 0s, but if our humans don't have computers, how else are AIs going to communicate important messages to their charges?


I'm not confident this society would have paper, printers, or ink. The overseers are preserving the species, not sending them to schools and ensuring the hominids are literate. When they need to tell them things, they have the audio announcement system.


I do think you just asserted that podcasting will be the ultimate end of humanity, then, right? ;)

acpracht

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2017, 11:26:44 PM »

Stone tablets, then!

You're limited to 10. Go.

Varsha

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2017, 02:34:40 PM »
Good robots for once.
I enjoyed this story, it was a reversed version of usual stories about AI

There are some holes, like why the robots have given up?
They could try to move themselves and the people away from this magnetar
They could focus on developing better shielding technology
etc.

But those flaws are not important, I can suspend disbelief because the story was good.

Narration was excellent.

CryptoMe

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Re: EP571: Beetle-Cleaned Skulls
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2017, 04:18:55 PM »
This one I enjoyed and, like other forumites, was willing to suspend disbelief wrt the robots giving up on their impending demise, which incidentally leaves the humans virtually untouched.

I did find the ending (like the last 2 lines or so) a bit sappy in it's execution, though. But otherwise, good story.