Escape Artists
September 17, 2014, 10:31:08 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
Author Topic: EP123: Niels Bohr and the Sleeping Dane  (Read 18979 times)
Russell Nash
Guest
« on: September 14, 2007, 02:26:13 AM »

EP123: Niels Bohr and the Sleeping Dane

By Jonathon Sullivan.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Strange Horizons, July 2005.

“Herr Doktor Bohr!” The captain’s cruel smile returned. “What a relief. We’ve been very concerned about you.”

Bohr sighed, looked up at the Gestapo captain with calm resignation, and took his wife’s hand. He started to get up.

“You are mistaken, sir,” Papa said.

I was nineteen years old. I had followed Bohr’s career for half my life, with something bordering on worship. A terrible miracle of circumstance had finally brought me into his presence. But at that moment his life meant nothing next to my own. Niels Bohr was already a prisoner of the Third Reich—nothing could stop that now. Papa’s action could only put us on a boxcar to Theresienstadt.


Rated PG. Contains scenes of graphic violence.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Logged
bolddeceiver
Matross
****
Posts: 226


Plunging like stones from a slingshot on mars...


« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2007, 03:30:45 AM »

I really liked this one, even though "alternate history/historical fiction/historical fantasy involving real, well-known people" stories usually give me hives.  The emotion felt real, with a powerful exploration of both the father-son relationship and the narrator's hero-worship of Bohr.  Also, I was impressed with how the arcane discussion, both of Kaballah and of physics (and of the grey area of overlap) was just deep enough to be interesting, while not going too deep to bog down the story.  This is a very hard tightrope to walk as a writer, as I know from experience (okay, from failure mostly).

I don't have much else to say right now, but I expect to have more after I've let this sink in a little.
Logged
DeGem
Extern
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2007, 06:05:34 AM »

I want to know more about invisible pink Unicorns!

like how many are there, where are they, are they beneficial? and how can they be pink if they are invisible?
Logged
Pink Shift
Palmer
**
Posts: 35



« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2007, 08:59:53 AM »

I too am interested in
 the invisible PINK unicorn.
And to my amazement
 what did I find?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn

I am researching
 a new religion
 for myself
 that others might be interested in joining
 - Fictionology

http://tinyurl.com/butc8

It is my understanding that
 the mystical unicorn of old
 changed into a Narwhal
 when humans lost their ability
 to simultaneously hold beliefs
 in the whimsical and rational.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narwhal

 
Logged

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.

I imagine that yes is the only living thing.

e. e. cummings
Mette
Silent
*
Posts: 1


« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2007, 11:51:43 AM »

Hi!

I will start by being a partyspoiler and bring this thread back on topic:  Wink

Overall a very nice read, being a Dane it was great fun hearing a story taking place, and involving people from this corner of the world - the author has certainly done some research. I didn't catch any direct errors, that couldn't be explained by me not knowing enough about the public transport system around Copenhagen in 1943. Smiley

The one thing, that did bother me a bit was actually the fantasy ending, which the story didn't really need in my opinion - the story of how the Danish (and some German) jews where ferried across the sound to Sweden is quite exiting in and of itself. Adding a stone golem impersonating as one of our greatest national symbols didn't add to the story in any significant way (except giving it the label Fantasy, thus allowing it on the Escape pod, which gave me a  chance to listen to it Smiley), I think the magic would have been much more easily accepted, if it has stayed subtle,  like the Rabbi's mindpower tricks on the Gestapo officer.

Compliments to Steve for his pronounciation of the difficult Danish names and places - no, they weren't spoken like a native, but this native understood them easily... (btw Holger Danske is pronounced with the last E as the E in the - same goes for my name).

Thanx for a great podcast.

/Mette

« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 12:24:41 PM by Mette » Logged
SFEley
Autarch
*****
Posts: 1408



WWW
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2007, 11:58:27 AM »

like how many are there, where are they, are they beneficial? and how can they be pink if they are invisible?

"Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them."
 - Steve Eley, circa 1995

I had a whole manifesto written up at one point, but the exact text has been lost to history and pre-Web Telnet-based BBS systems.  I remember there was a model of the expanding universe based on raisin bread.  I remember that IPUs were responsible for stealing your socks. 

I remember writing that mosquitoes don't actuallly bite people; rather, they flock around IPUs the way horseflies flock around horses.  The raised, itchy welt is the Invisible Pink Unicorn poking you with its horn for your sins.  Since you can't see the IPU, you blame the mosquito instead.

I also remember not wanting to be the High Priest.  HPs are figureheads, and the first against the all when the revolution comes.  I was Chief Advocate and Spokesguy instead, meaning I got to make up cool manifestos and nobody blamed me for what happened.

A friend of mine started the first schism by founding the Cult of the Very Stealthy Maroon Pegasi.  His branch didn't get very far, however.  How could it?  Maroon pegasi are ridiculous.
Logged

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
Mr. Tweedy
Lochage
*****
Posts: 497


I am a sloth.


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 03:40:13 PM »

THAT WAS PRETTY–  Oops, caps lock.

That was pretty cool.

I agree with Mette that the fantastic ending was actually superfluous: I would have been happier with something more subtle.  Everything up to that point was solidly rooted in history, science and believable drama when suddenly– WHOA, there's a freakin' giant golem cuttin' people up!!  It's like if The Sound of Music had ended with Maria pulling out a magic wand and turning Zeller into a toad.  It also raises some questions in my mind, like, if rabbis could really make golems, then why didn't they use them to kick Hitler's ass?  And it was stated that making a golem is a "mortal sin," yet the father makes one anyway.  Seems inconsistent.

Although I thought the ending was weak, the prose was solid, the characters were well drawn, the tension was tense and the drama was poignant and very human.  A good fiction piece that tried just a little too hard to shoehorn itself into a genre where it probably didn't belong.

Concerning Invisible Pink Unicorns: I've always thought that was a hilarious satire.  The Flying Spaghetti Monster has more slapstick comedic value, but the IPU is wittier, IMO.

I was glad to hear the opinion that the science/religion antagonism is mostly due to dogmatism on both sides.  I agree.  Myself, I see no necessary quarrel between them and I enjoy stories (and thought in general) that does not treat them as mutually exclusive.  Two of my favorite science fiction works–the book "Out of the Silent Planet" and the movie "Pi"–deal with their convergence.  I liked the idea in this story that the religious numbers of the Torah and the scientific numbers of quanta were simply different ways of describing the same reality.

One thumb up from me.

A final comment concerning the end: There have been times when the absence of weirdness came as a satisfying twist in a story.  For instance, I really like in the movie "The Village" that there aren't any monsters at the end.  I expected monsters.  Discovering that there weren't any was actually a lot more shocking than the confirmation that there were would have been.  I, for one, would not be upset to hear a story of that sort in EP or Pod Castle sometime.  I think this story would have been stronger if it had been more along those lines.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 03:45:24 PM by Mr. Tweedy » Logged

Hear my very very short story on The Drabblecast!
Reggie
Palmer
**
Posts: 22



« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 04:18:02 PM »

I liked this story as well, and for all the same reasons that everyone else has already said, so I won't repeat them.

I did however find it rather predictable, and once we encountered the giant "sleeping" statue, I was just ready for the story to hurry up and get to that point where it came to life and started smashing Nazis.....cause that's awesome.

I'd also like to echo and agree with Mr. Tweedy's echoing and agreeing on the intro's science and religion musings.  That's kind of an important topic with me right now, for various reasons, and I'm sure it is with a lot of my fellow listeners.

And I think that part about making a Golem a mortal sin was just referring to "making one from clay" because that's how God made humans.  I think using a large statue to kill Nazi's is ok....lol

As a final note....for some reason in the opening scene on the train, I kept anticipating the Rabbi's next words to be "you don't need to see his identification" or "he can go about his business"....or...."these aren't the droids you're looking for....."

hmmmmmm........ 
Logged
Alasdair5000
Editor
*****
Posts: 973



WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 04:44:20 PM »

One of my favourites so far this year although I do echo the sentiment that the fantastic element seemed slightly unnecessary.  Other than that though, nicely handled alternate history, some lovely, subtle characterisation (The scene between the hero and his dad could have been OTT.  Instead it was sweet and honest and set up the tragedy to follow.  THAT's good writing.) and a really interesting view of an overlooked piece of history.  Good job all round.
Logged
GrantHenninger
Silent
*
Posts: 4


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 05:09:09 PM »

Like most other people who've already posted, I liked this story, it was engrossing and suspenseful.  However, waking the golem at the end was more than unnecessary, it hurt the story.  It would have been a better story had the father tried to stop the SS like he did in the train, be killed but buy enough time for others to escape.  That, to me, would have been a better ending.

As for the intro, I have to disagree that science and religion can coexist happily.  Despite the fact that many of history's great scientists believed in god, and were perhaps motivated by that belief, a belief in god is not scientific or rational.  Saying that god does not exist is not necessarily dogmatic either, while saying that god does exist is.  Looking around and finding no evidence of god and thus stating there is no god is not dogmatic.  Looking around and finding no evidence of god but still clinging to a belief in god is the very definition of dogmatism.  A belief in god is the rejection of science and everything good that has come out of the enlightenment.  I just don't see how anybody can say god and science can coexist.
Logged

Pink Shift
Palmer
**
Posts: 35



« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 06:12:26 PM »

  A good fiction piece that tried just a little too hard to shoehorn itself into a genre where it probably didn't belong.

The strange part of this story
 is how much I agree with Mr. Tweedy's points.
Especially
 the quote above.

I had the feeling
 that there were the seeds
 of a very interesting story here
 but it was dropped in favor of a fantasy story.

I am more interested in
 what this story could have been
 than what it is.
Logged

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.

I imagine that yes is the only living thing.

e. e. cummings
DigitalVG
Palmer
**
Posts: 38


« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 06:30:37 PM »

I've heard this story before. 

"The Golem", CBS Radio Mystery Theater, Dec 30th, 1974

http://ia331311.us.archive.org/3/items/otr_cbsradiomysterytheater/CBSRadioMysteryTheaterthegolemDecember301974.mp3

Of course, there's also a 1920's movie, "Der Golem" which is also basically the same story (without the nazis, of course) and they're all based on a 1500's play.  It's kind of like The Strange Case of Dr. Faustus, Faust, the Devil and Daniel Webster, etc.  In this way, I found this story interesting not of itself but in how it had been updated.
Logged
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 06:52:50 PM »

I'll add my voice to those who liked the story.  I was engrossed by the characters and the plot, and the author did a very nice job weaving a spell until the ending.  I'm still mulling the ending over.  It jarred me out of the story [never a good thing] but all the foreshadowing was there, and then some.  Really shouldn't have been so jarring, but it was.  Good pick Steve!!

GrantHenninger, you can't prove a negative.  Looking around and not finding god doesn't mean god doesn't exist, necessarily.  It may mean you haven't looked hard enough, or in the right places.  Dogma isn't saying that god exists even if you don't have proof, that's belief.  Dogma is saying that you KNOW that god exists, or doesn't exist, and anyone else's so-called proof be damned.  Dogma is seeing the world through heavily-filtered glasses, glasses that filter out anything that might be inconvenient to the wearer's views.
Logged
GrantHenninger
Silent
*
Posts: 4


WWW
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2007, 07:14:36 PM »

GrantHenninger, you can't prove a negative.  Looking around and not finding god doesn't mean god doesn't exist, necessarily.  It may mean you haven't looked hard enough, or in the right places.  Dogma isn't saying that god exists even if you don't have proof, that's belief.  Dogma is saying that you KNOW that god exists, or doesn't exist, and anyone else's so-called proof be damned.  Dogma is seeing the world through heavily-filtered glasses, glasses that filter out anything that might be inconvenient to the wearer's views.
Saying that you can't prove a negative is a hallow argument.  I know that you can't prove that god exists, but that doesn't mean a belief in something that there is no evidence for is rational.  Saying that "Dogma is saying that you KNOW that god exists, or doesn't exist, and anyone else's so-called proof be damned." is the same as saying that dogma is saying you KNOW that god exists despite the lack of evidence for said god.
Logged

ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2007, 08:29:52 PM »

Let me clarify a bit.  First, I'm saying that you cannot prove that God does not exist.  Therefore a belief in God in and of itself is not dogmatic.  I do agree completely that saying that you cannot prove that God does not exist is not a strong argument that god exists, either, as the same can be said about IPUs and flying spaghetti toasters.

I think our real disagreement is that you are saying that there is so much evidence against god existing that to believe in god can only be described as dogmatic, and I disagree.  Of course, a lot depends upon your definition of God, and what you accept as evidence.  And it is probably some of the connotations that come with the word "dogma" that make me loathe to apply it to someone simply for believing in the existence of god.

Anyway, I don't really want to go any further into this argument, except to say that the Dalai Llama wrote something not too long ago which still blows me away:  "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." 
Logged
DigitalVG
Palmer
**
Posts: 38


« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2007, 08:46:50 PM »

I know I'll regret this, but I'll throw in my weird perspective on God since I haven't heard it expressed.

God is superfluous.

If God is all-seeing/all-knowing/all-encompassing-of-the-whole-universe we can't even begin to comprehend it at this stage in our development, and taking the word of some bronze-age sheep-herders about it seems rather ludicrous especially given the multitude of religious flavors out there.  On the off chance the omnipotent God exists, I sincerely doubt it'd care about what religion you are.  Why punish someone because they were Buddist, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Wiccan, or Atheists?  The universe abides.

There's the rub of it.  The universe is a HUGE place.  It seems highly improbable that the universe cares whether or not you touch yourself at night.  Our size in comparison with the universe is many orders of magnitude smaller than a single atom in a single cell of your big toe.  We are tiny!  The omnipotent God that's deeply interested in YOU just doesn't really plausible once you have scaled Mount Olympus and seen the world is a lot bigger than you thought it was.

The other possibility is a limited God.  One who isn't all-powerful and can focus on you.  Is this a God you want to worship?  He's a middle-manager.  He lays down crazy department rules and expects you to follow them.  If you don't, he'll fire you.  The thing about this God is that...  All the really smart people tend to either talk to the higher ups about having him fired or they go to some other company where they're more appreciated.  Why on Earth would I stay with a God who threatens to break my kneecaps forever if I don't write ISO-9000 procedural documents every time I wash my hands?  I wouldn't.  I'd either join FluffyBunniesAndFreeHugs Inc, or maybe give my own start-up a go.  (Hey, it worked for L Ron Hubbard!)  Okay, sure maybe that God promises you'll go IPO any day or there will be a 4th quarter bonus and maybe there will be, but can't you probably do just as well elsewhere and feel better about yourself?  Moreover, if you really are good at what you're doing and your manager is a jerk, any company worth working for should reward you, regardless of the rotten manager.

Religion is ritual.  It's cheap self-help and if that gets you through the day,  there's no real harm in it.  It's like playing a video game to unwind, or listening to a science fiction podcast to get you through the day at work.  Some of those parables are even good stories that really make you think.  Just don't take it too seriously.  God might not exist.  In which case, you're wasting the one life you have.  If God is a real friend, he won't care if you're a christian, buddist, or level 60 dwarf so long as you aren't a jerk.  On the other hand, if God's a cliquish jerk;  Do you really want to hang out with him?

In short:  Don't be a jerk and don't worry about it.  Either it will work out or you were screwed from the start.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 02:10:17 AM by DigitalVG » Logged
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2007, 04:38:00 AM »

There was a lot I liked about this story, and I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say about it.  In my experience, though, the science/religion discussion generates a lot of participation [who doesn't have some ideas on god and science, and for many these ideas are strongly held].  So I've started a thread in Gallimaufry for discussion of IPUs, science and religion not directly related to this story.  Hope this link works.

http://forum.escapeartists.info/index.php?topic=1062.0 
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 04:41:04 AM by ajames » Logged
ajames
Lochage
*****
Posts: 358



« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2007, 04:50:33 AM »

It also raises some questions in my mind, like, if rabbis could really make golems, then why didn't they use them to kick Hitler's ass?  And it was stated that making a golem is a "mortal sin," yet the father makes one anyway.  Seems inconsistent.

In trying to control the brownshirts and the nazi captain, the rabbi already demonstrated that he would risk sinning in order to save others.  His son and his people are in mortal danger, so I see it as consistent with his previous behavior, although inconsistent with his belief.

Two of my favorite science fiction works–the book "Out of the Silent Planet" and the movie "Pi"–deal with their convergence.  I liked the idea in this story that the religious numbers of the Torah and the scientific numbers of quanta were simply different ways of describing the same reality.

Bit of trivia - did you know that "Out of the Silent Planet" was a result of a bet between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien?
Logged
BrandtPileggi
Matross
****
Posts: 192



WWW
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2007, 05:17:34 AM »

I just flat out enjoyed it. Yeah I knew there was going to be a Golem the second he talked about it, but I dind't care. Not being big on religion, I still respect and am in awe of it sometimes, and it was nice to see religion and science compared, contrasted and mutually respected, rather than adversarial. Yes the story would have been brilliant without the super magic monster golem but then shit, you'd just have a straight up fiction story. I hate seeing someone throw in a spaceship here and a future tech there, maybe a dragon for good measure, just to get it into a certain categorybut I didn't feel like it was forced here. It felt more like a vintage Amazing Story. Way to go SullyDog!
Logged
DigitalVG
Palmer
**
Posts: 38


« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2007, 03:02:10 PM »

It felt more like a vintage Amazing Story. Way to go SullyDog!

Like I pointed out above, it was an update of "The Golem" which was an update of a 1920 german film, "Der Golem", which was an update of "The Golem of Prague" (mid 1500's).

I linked to an MP3 of the CBS Radio Mystery Theater version of "The Golem" which has a lot of the same elements.  Jews on the run from nazis in WWII.  Bohr and the Rabbi are combined into a single person in that story.  The grandfather is a chemist who has been doing research into a means of breaking apart atoms, generating far more power than dynamite. 

In my view, it's kind of fun to see how these stories get updated, like how <U>Ran</U> and <U>My Own Private Idaho</U> are updates of <U>King Lear


Anyhow.   You're right!  It definitely feels like OTR and there's an OTR story that it is very closely related to. Smiley
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4  All
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!