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Author Topic: EP578: Cherry Squid  (Read 125 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 09, 2017, 02:51:30 AM »

EP578: Cherry Squid

AUTHOR: Celeste Hollister
NARRATOR: Amy H. Sturgis
HOST: Mur Lafferty

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It was the cherry squid that did him in.

Outside his window, seventy stories up, the advertisement bloomed, melon yellow, racecar red. A shoal of squid rippled across the holo, a tangram pattern that morphed into a human face. Almost human, but with a Vrellan’s ruby eyes. Then a blush of shimmer-pink as the slogan scrolled onscreen: “Let’s All Share a Cherry Squid” in all caps like a scream.

Fresh cherry scent wafted on the air. Then the ad faded to black before replaying, an endless loop of fragrance and light.

“A stupid, looping nonsense,” Adam called it.

The Mobius-strip of cherry squid peeled out from its backlit blue. I said, “I think it’s pretty.”

“They try too hard to be like us,” Adam said.

I edged onto the oval of his windowsill and watched the sun plait silver into the spillways. I said, “They are like us. The scientists say we share a common ancestor. We just evolved differently.”

Adam crooked a three-pod stool against his vid-wall. He popped open a can of Dr Pepper, one from his dwindling cache of Earthly goods. He said, “You don’t believe that crap, do you? The whole Selkie Evolution thing?”

The Vrellan face floated into view, its mouth wide as it chased the squid across the screen.

“How can you not?” I asked. “His face is like ours. The eyes are the same shape. Even his teeth–”

“–One,” he said. “You don’t even know if he’s a He. And two. They don’t have bones, Barbara. It’s all cartilage. Like a cuttlefish.”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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acpracht
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2017, 12:19:21 AM »

I might just point people to the episode post here: http://escapepod.org/2017/06/01/ep578-cherry-squid/
where some folks made some insightful comments (scroll down to the bottom).

-Adam
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coldequation
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 12:44:56 AM »

You know, usually this sort of story gives friendly aliens an ulterior motive, usually sinister, and they almost never treat the humans as equals, let alone friends or neighbors.

Listening to this story reminded me of a cousin I have.  She and her husband are diplomats, and as such get assigned to places that are very different from the home they knew in Ohio.  They're wrapping up a tour in Bangkok right now, and listening to the descriptions of the Vrellen cityscape and culture reminded me of the pictures they post on social media.  At once familiar, and yet alien, it's a big change in perspective.

These sorts of stories, the ones about people, and how changing environments change them, are my favorite kind.  Despite the trappings and setting, the story of Barb and Adam plays out somewhere on Earth every day.
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2017, 08:39:48 AM »

Wow - this one took me back to the three years I was living in the UK. (1998-2001)

I was a miserable SOB, for a lot of reasons. Mainly, I was unhappy because I was a junior enlisted USAF person who couldn't afford to do anything, but that unhappiness spilled out over everything else. Throw in a little post-partum depression shared with my wife, and the misery just snowballed.

By the end of my tour, I didn't like anything about England. "Why is there a 'prawn flavour' for everything? Why must everyone make the same lame jokes about the way I talk? Why can't local businesses be open when I need to buy something?"

Listening to this story gave me a very weird sensation of seeing both sides at the same time. In my gut, I could feel exactly what Adam was feeling. I could sympathize with what he was going through, and relate to the pain - at the same time, Barbara embodied the sense of wonder for an alien culture that I like to think I would have in her situation. Barbara is who I wanted to be when I went abroad.

As with most alien stories, this wasn't really about the aliens as much as it was about us and the ways we don't connect with each other. But that said, I found that conflict between Adam and Barbara to be very compelling, and I thought this struck a nice balance between showing us a unique, separately evolved alien species and holding back just enough detail to foster a sense of curiosity and wonder about them.

Well done, Celeste!

And, as always, Dr. Amy's performance fit this story beautifully. I'm always happy to see her name in the narrator credit! Smiley 
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2017, 04:43:53 PM »

I love that the setting is so fantastical but the human drama was so mundane that it's likely all of us have experienced something like it.
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