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Author Topic: EP576: Karma Among the Cloud Kings  (Read 269 times)
Posts: 5752

« on: May 20, 2017, 05:56:50 PM »

EP576: Karma Among the Cloud Kings

AUTHOR: Brian Trent
NARRATOR: Ellora Sen-Gupta
HOST: Mur Lafferty



Fifty thousand feet above Tempest’s highest clouds, Antarag Vel-heth invites me to sit beside him in the lobby of Lindorm Refueling Station. It’s a desolate, littered expanse of tables, party-streamers, and plastic people with unceasingly flapping jaws.

“What… what are they doing?” I whisper, sweating despite the room’s merciless air conditioner.

“Eating,” Antarag winks. “Talking.” His pitted skin stretches like a weather-beaten tarp across a knobby skeleton and skull of aquiline protrusions.

The plastic people have no food that I can see. One of them leaps up from its chair, arms raised in silent declaration while the others applaud with rubbery hands. Discolored mouths swing open and shut on cheap hinges.

Antarag grins at me with pained, frank interest—I wonder when the last time he’s had a real, flesh-and-blood female visitor up here with him. He knows I’m from Bellcap 51. He knows we’re all Jains there, with our shaved heads, monastic robes, and vows of celibacy. Still, my eyes dart nervously to his holstered pistol.

I ask, “What are they eating?”

He taps his forearm gauntlet. Menu options unfurl in neon petals. “That one’s eating steak and potato pancakes,” he says, pointing to one guest whose plastic body appears to have been assembled Frankenstein-style from at least six different modular components. ”Those two girls are eating sushi—” he motions to a pair of androgynous mannequins who are miming the use of chopsticks, bringing invisible morsels to their skeleton jaws. “We’ve got blihabi caviar, fresh raspberries, Osirian felsacs, comet cakes, beef stroganoff, flame-roasted marrow. Name it, I’ve got it. Ten million foods from across the galaxy.”

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Scuba Man
Posts: 98

Drabblecast, Pseudopod, Escapepod, Podcastle

« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 05:59:18 PM »

Nifty episode... I could bio-engineer myself to go way, way beyond being a vegan. I did get hung up on the terminology of the Janists being being classified as autotrophs. Sigh, no.

I was trying to figure out where the protagonist was getting her supply of Carbon (as she's a C-based life-form).  She's utilizing photons water, and carbon dioxide. Okay. And she's excreting oxygen (or perhaps her body metabolizes the oxygen in some kind of cellular respiration feedback loop) & carbon-containing-high-energy compounds.

My author's creation must have figured out how to unlink photosynthesis, respiration, and even the Carbon cycle (a biogeochemical cycle).

"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.
Posts: 71

« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2017, 03:30:14 AM »

Interesting story. I will confess when I saw that it was almost an hour long I worried that it might drag. But it didn't at all. I would happily have kept listening if there had been more story.

I know almost nothing about Jainism. In this story as the Jains bring back an extinct but revivable species we get no indication they are worried about the war that will inevitably follow and the tremendous loss of life it will bring. It made me think.
EA Staff
Posts: 166

« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2017, 04:22:26 PM »

If anyone's interesting, there's also a version of this over on StarShipSofa - different narrator.
Posts: 124

« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 02:53:51 PM »

I enjoyed this one.
the thought struck me when they said they had become "perfect Jains" that chloroplasts were once free living organisms, now trapped in symbioses with larger cells.
Jainism seems so counter to the entire universe, but I certainly wont criticize those that try to cause no harm.
I liked how the story brought to light that one cant simply not have an impact on the world, though. they let the cloud kings return, knowing they will seek revenge.
Posts: 38

« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2017, 04:41:15 PM »

Got a bit confused when it seemingly started to repeat in the middle... revenge on the avatar eloi was sweet.
Posts: 10

« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2017, 12:31:03 PM »

I love the looping nature of this story, and the fact that the people who try to do no harm have to figure out how to actively do good-it was such an engaging conflict. I didn't even notice the hour fly by, or realize that the story was passing so quickly!
Posts: 62

« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 08:38:17 PM »

I can't really imagine how one could exist without harming any living things or controlling them either. The protagonists in the story found that choosing to save the jellies was the same as choosing to kill members of their own species. The guy on the station I didn't really feel bad for. But if the hydrogen fueling system for the ships is disrupted, there's no telling how many people will lose their lives. Also, what was the government thinking when, after a few decades the mercenaries told them, "hey those jellies you were protecting are just gone now...we're gonna build the stations."
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