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Author Topic: EP579: Texts from the Ghost War  (Read 4397 times)
eytanz
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« on: June 09, 2017, 02:57:01 AM »

EP579: Texts from the Ghost War

AUTHOR: Alex Yuschik
NARRATORS: Trendane Sparks and Adam Pracht
HOST: Tina Connolly

---

While I realize driving that mech likely takes all of your limited resources, please take care not to step on the roses.

what

Don’t step on the roses. I don’t care if we’re under imminent attack.

Your mech is standing so close to them I’m cringing.


who is this?

I can see you typing and then stopping

don’t waste my time coming up with a lie, punk

Who I am or how I got your number is irrelevant.

no, it’s not

and, fyi, we don’t drive them, we pilot

gods, you’re probably chung sol trolling me

I assure you, I am not.

I am only here for the roses.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Chuk
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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2017, 11:27:25 AM »

Great story, I love the setting and the way we see it just from the character's texts, and the format works well (I read the text version but two narrators in stereo is a great way to produce it).
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chuk
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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2017, 05:57:06 PM »

I thought this was a really, really well-done story.  The two narrators played off one another so incredibly well.  Both Trendane and Adam make a great team, and their voice work on other projects in the Escape Artists podcasts have always been top notch.  (Yes, please more from these two.)

I thought the writer did a great job building dialog between the two characters, building a story that no only fills in some details about the world, but put the hook in there that the pilot used to watch mech-related stories on TV as a kid.  All around, it draws the listener in and makes you wonder what's next for these two characters.

Well done!
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acpracht
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« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2017, 06:04:17 PM »

Great story, I love the setting and the way we see it just from the character's texts, and the format works well (I read the text version but two narrators in stereo is a great way to produce it).

As the producer, I want to just say: "Thanks, Chuk!" Smiley

You (and maybe others) might be interested to know that my processing in production for this one went beyond panning between the L and R stereo channels. I've found a effects filter plug-in (that, generally, plays nice with Audacity) that uses what's called a "Head-Related Transfer Function" (or HRTF) to mimic not only what the ear closest to a sound would hear, but also what you would hear in your other ear through your head! This results in a much more realistic 3-D audio effect with only two audio sources - L and R.

(You can see what this means with this episode. While listening on stereo earphones, take off the headphone/earbud on the side that the narrator is apparently "located." You'll hear that that narrator doesn't disappear entirely, as you might expect them to. Instead, you can hear them - more muffled but still intelligible - in your other ear. This is what that person speaking would sound like after the sound waves have traveled through a typical person's head.)

The filter is sophisticated enough that I can make (and have made, with work I've done for the Drabblecast) the apparent source of a voice or sounds move anywhere in a full sphere around the listener. I opted to keep it fairly straightforward here, however, as simply locating each narrator primarily in the L or R location would avoid confusion and seemed the best way to translate the visual effect of left or right justification into audio terms. (Incidentally, you should absolutely look at the text to get the full effect of what Alex has pulled off. They left us the challenge of how to interpret "?" and "..." into audio forms. Also, there's personality expressed in how Five and Hyeon use and understand texting. For example, Five is more likely to use slang and abbreviation, doesn't tend to use proper capitalization and punctuation - at least, until he slips into a more formal register briefly after Hyeon reveals himself - and tends to send much briefer messages. Hyeon, meanwhile, tends toward a more formal register even when he's trying to "be casual" - at least, until he starts drunk-texting - uses capitalization and punctuation correctly, and - even though he types slower - tends toward much longer texts.  

Anyway, it takes some work, but I always have liked the greater depth of realism added by the 3-D effect.

TL;DR : Adam likes nerdy audio / literary stuff. Tongue

-Adam
Producer
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benjaminjb
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2017, 08:58:09 AM »

Really nice story, really nice narration, really nice production.
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Schrodingrr
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« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2017, 06:15:53 PM »

I loved this story so hard! Also: Been a while since a story made me tear up at work. My co-workers are now frightened and giving me a wide berth. Thanks for that!
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acpracht
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2017, 12:17:24 AM »

I loved this story so hard! Also: Been a while since a story made me tear up at work. My co-workers are now frightened and giving me a wide berth. Thanks for that!

Glad to be of service. Smiley

Incidentally, I know that a narration is really tuned where I want it when, after the hours of working with the manuscript, the narration, the editing, and the final production... it still makes me cry.

(That is, of course, assuming it's a story that's supposed to make the listener feel the feels. If it's a comedy piece that makes you start sobbing, well, I've got a problem).

-Adam
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Chuk
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« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2017, 11:21:33 AM »

(That is, of course, assuming it's a story that's supposed to make the listener feel the feels. If it's a comedy piece that makes you start sobbing, well, I've got a problem).
That might be an interesting technical challenge though...
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chuk
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« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2017, 05:48:51 AM »

I was struck that the last line was the same as another Escape Artists story, the name and number of which I don't recall at the moment. I think it was on Podcastle. But when he texted that last line, I immediately flashed on that other story and brought my feelings on that story into play as well.

Well done.
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Frank Evans
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« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2017, 07:18:21 AM »

Like everyone else, I really liked the way the audio was done for this story. It really added to the overall effect. The story itself was well done as well. Good job all around. Thanks!
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2017, 04:45:57 PM »

You know what I love? Sci fi mixed with fantasy. You know what I love even more? BROMANCES!
Seriously, the speed at which this story has me caring about the characters was impressive. I want more in this setting! It's so disturbing that grieving a loved one could have their ghost come back to attack everyone.
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Abrigella
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2017, 08:32:53 PM »

I think this might be one of my favorite stories. I found the whole story so compelling.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Anthony Creamer (Poisonwaters)
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« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2017, 12:57:27 PM »

Thoroughly enjoyed this story.

The one complaint I have is the format of the text, because I read it a couple days after I listened to the story. The format works and is creative but I found it distracting because my eyesight, even with glasses, hasn't been great for awhile and looking back and forth gave me a mild headache Smiley

As an audio story it was fantastic, the characters really drew me in and I found myself caring about them as I 'watched' their interactions unfold through the texts. It's why I made the effort to read the story hehe.

Great work, probably one of my favorite pieces recently.
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acpracht
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« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2017, 12:35:36 AM »

Thoroughly enjoyed this story.

The one complaint I have is the format of the text, because I read it a couple days after I listened to the story. The format works and is creative but I found it distracting because my eyesight, even with glasses, hasn't been great for awhile and looking back and forth gave me a mild headache Smiley

As an audio story it was fantastic, the characters really drew me in and I found myself caring about them as I 'watched' their interactions unfold through the texts. It's why I made the effort to read the story hehe.

Great work, probably one of my favorite pieces recently.

Glad you enjoyed the story, Poisonwaters!

Sorry to hear that the formatting caused issues for you.

I personally don't think it would work the same without the left and right justifications to distinguish the characters, but there is always an inherent risk when doing something unique and non-standard.

Certainly, the audio version would not have been the same, as using the left and right stereo channels would never have occurred to me without this unique layout.

A possible solution for your particular case occurs to me, however. Could you have done: Ctrl+A to select the full text, then Ctrl+C to copy it... Open a word processor, and Ctrl+V to paste it. Then, Ctrl+A again to select the full text and, finally, select left justification to shift the entire text flush left.

Just an idea... Smiley

-Adam
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Anthony Creamer (Poisonwaters)
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« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2017, 02:00:52 AM »

Nah I just wont read the text again Smiley
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spidervet
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« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2017, 02:11:04 PM »

Delurking to say that l just loved this story. I'd definitely read more by this author, especially a sequel (hint hint)
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LydiaJ
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« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2017, 01:03:12 AM »

This story had just about everything: drama, humor, ghosts, class commentary, battle mechs. It was just fantastic. I liked the narration too. Fortunately, I just happened to listen to it with ear buds.

Big win all the way around with this one!
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danooli
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« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2017, 10:24:36 AM »

What a fantastic story. Loved it, even if I also found myself crying at work!

Great production.
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Kittenpox
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2017, 02:47:05 AM »

This story was *wonderful*. I may or may not have cried a little at the end. :3
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Ichneumon
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2017, 07:12:50 PM »

I don't want to rain on the parade, because I appreciated many parts of this story, but idk, it felt a little too cheesy for me.
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Trendane
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« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2017, 06:04:03 PM »

I don't want to rain on the parade, because I appreciated many parts of this story, but idk, it felt a little too cheesy for me.

That opinion is just as valid as any other.  Thank you for sharing it!
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acpracht
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« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2017, 05:03:05 PM »

I don't want to rain on the parade, because I appreciated many parts of this story, but idk, it felt a little too cheesy for me.

But the important question... did the cheese make you cry?

Wink

-Adam
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TrishEM
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« Reply #22 on: August 16, 2017, 03:42:51 AM »

I'm finally starting to catch up on Escape Pod and the other Escape Artists shows after a long hiautus caused by weeks and weeks of overtime at work. This is the show that made me want to say Hello again to everybody, because Oh, the feelings that this story gave me! I just adored the development of this relationship (my idea was that it was an incipient romance, not just a platonic bromance, albeit a closeted star-crossed romance due to dynastic considerations). The horrific worldbuilding hints, with the casual references to so much death and destruction, and the fact that allowing yourself to mourn a loved one outside of controlled circumstances endangered you and others, really were incredibly effective at putting me into the story. I loved this story so much!

Technically, I noticed the right-left channels at first, and it worked for me, but after a while I didn't notice it at all and was just immersed in the story. I hope @acpracht views that as a compliment!
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Schrodingrr
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« Reply #23 on: August 16, 2017, 03:22:17 PM »

my idea was that it was an incipient romance, not just a platonic bromance, albeit a closeted star-crossed romance due to dynastic considerations

I had the same thought, but what I loved about that aspect of the story was that it was ambiguous enough that either interpretation would be equally valid. Smiley
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Fenrix
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« Reply #24 on: October 10, 2017, 10:05:25 PM »

The worldbuilding and development of the relationship was very nicely done, particularly considering the format constraints.
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Piet
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« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2017, 05:14:03 PM »

It is engaging to follow the two characters as they gradually find common ground between their initially separate worlds and then eventually come to deeply care for each other. The innovative use of an epistolary form, with the back-and-forth texts between the two characters distinguishable by being justified either left or right, somewhat compensates for the unexplainable supernatural ghost element in this story.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2017, 01:36:26 PM »

Okay, this story was super weird for me. Why? Well, there were so many elements that I didn't like about the story, yet I still *loved* the story.
What I didn't like:
  - ghost thing wasn't very well explained, I was completely lost on all it's aspects throughout.
  - lots of other things weren't explained well; something about removing teeth?? mourning training?? and more...
  - the Left/Right track thing didn't work for me - I kept checking to see if my earbuds had busted.
  - the narration was good, but because it was good I kept seeing this as a phone conversation instead of a texting one.
And yet, despite all that, I absolutely loved this story.

Then, on the advice of apratch, I went and read the text (which is something I never do). OMG!! So many things that didn't come across well in audio were crystal clear in text. This was sooo well done!! I absolutely love this story even more!

So, I have to say something that I never thought I would say.... This story just doesn't work well in audio. But I am so grateful EP tried to do it anyway, because otherwise I wouldn't have been exposed to this fabulous story.
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acpracht
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« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2017, 08:33:18 PM »

Okay, this story was super weird for me. Why? Well, there were so many elements that I didn't like about the story, yet I still *loved* the story.
What I didn't like:
  - ghost thing wasn't very well explained, I was completely lost on all it's aspects throughout.
  - lots of other things weren't explained well; something about removing teeth?? mourning training?? and more...
  - the Left/Right track thing didn't work for me - I kept checking to see if my earbuds had busted.
  - the narration was good, but because it was good I kept seeing this as a phone conversation instead of a texting one.
And yet, despite all that, I absolutely loved this story.

Then, on the advice of apratch, I went and read the text (which is something I never do). OMG!! So many things that didn't come across well in audio were crystal clear in text. This was sooo well done!! I absolutely love this story even more!

So, I have to say something that I never thought I would say.... This story just doesn't work well in audio. But I am so grateful EP tried to do it anyway, because otherwise I wouldn't have been exposed to this fabulous story.

Hey, Crypto,

So, to address the L/R effect. My first reaction was: "What?!!!"

Given that I had spent a good extra 30-45 minutes applying said effect. And if it was gone I was going to have to cry... or break something... possibly both...

But anyway I knew it was there. I had not only applied it but also heard it from the RSS feed after it went live.

So I went to check, and I'll be damned if it wasn't in mono.

By some miracle, nothing ending up being broken or succumbing to, erm, water damage...

Finally, I went back today and checked the Libsyn direct file link. To my profound relief, it's there WITH the stereo effect.

So, I went back and checked the website player, and it's there correctly now, too...

I have no idea what caused it to go to mono and even less of an idea of what made it go back. But you might try giving it one more listen.

I'm biased, but I think it's worth experiencing in audio as-intended.

-Adam
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2017, 11:10:49 PM »

  - the Left/Right track thing didn't work for me - I kept checking to see if my earbuds had busted.
....
So I went to check, and I'll be damned if it wasn't in mono.
...
 I went back today and checked the Libsyn direct file link. To my profound relief, it's there WITH the stereo effect.
...
I'm biased, but I think it's worth experiencing in audio as-intended.
LOL! Sorry to scare you Adam, I guess I wasn't clear.
When I said the L/R thing didn't work for me, I meant the the concept, not the technology. I was getting the stereo effect just fine! So,   every time one character started speaking, I kept thinking the other earbud had just busted. Drove me nuts!  Grin
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acpracht
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« Reply #29 on: December 20, 2017, 06:17:01 PM »

  - the Left/Right track thing didn't work for me - I kept checking to see if my earbuds had busted.
....
So I went to check, and I'll be damned if it wasn't in mono.
...
 I went back today and checked the Libsyn direct file link. To my profound relief, it's there WITH the stereo effect.
...
I'm biased, but I think it's worth experiencing in audio as-intended.
LOL! Sorry to scare you Adam, I guess I wasn't clear.
When I said the L/R thing didn't work for me, I meant the the concept, not the technology. I was getting the stereo effect just fine! So,   every time one character started speaking, I kept thinking the other earbud had just busted. Drove me nuts!  Grin

Oh, well, sorry to drive you nuts, but in my defense the method I used was supposed to minimize that sort of effect.

It wasn't a hard pan to the left or right. Rather, it was a filter to simulate how you'd hear though sound in your opposite ear after it has traveled through your head (the result is a more realistic 3-D effect).

That hard pan to the L or R drive me nuts, too, so I can empathize (Especially when a podcast decides to put one person completely in the left and the other fully in the right. I often like to listen with just one ear, so I miss half of all of it).

I guess never get stuck between two people talking? Wink

Sorry it didn't wory for you, but I felt I needed to do SOMEthing in audio to reflect what it was doing visually. Was the best I could think of.

Oh, wells...

Now the real mystery... why did I hear it in mono that one time...?

-Adam
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TrishEM
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« Reply #30 on: June 05, 2018, 01:08:54 AM »

Popping back to note that this remains my favorite story of 2017 from ANY venue, not just Escape Pod or even Escape Artists. I nominated it for a Hugo Award, but alas, apparently not enough other nominators agreed for it to make the finalists cut.
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acpracht
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« Reply #31 on: June 15, 2018, 08:24:55 PM »

Popping back to note that this remains my favorite story of 2017 from ANY venue, not just Escape Pod or even Escape Artists. I nominated it for a Hugo Award, but alas, apparently not enough other nominators agreed for it to make the finalists cut.

Wow, that's AWESOME Trish.

If if makes you feel better, the story was one of the ones we selected to include in the Hugo Voter Packet, which you can access for free right here: http://escapepod.org/2017-hugo-voter-packet/

-Adam
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