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Author Topic: EP589: Seb Dreams of Reincarnation  (Read 169 times)
eytanz
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« on: August 25, 2017, 07:54:37 PM »

EP589: Seb Dreams of Reincarnation

AUTHOR: Aimee Ogden
NARRATOR: Matthew Hamblin
HOST: Mur Lafferty

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They unplugged Seb’s neurodes at the end of his ten-year tour of duty. He’d known it was coming, had been told before he ever signed the contract that if they left him in any longer his health would start to deteriorate. What they hadn’t mentioned was that his health would deteriorate anyway. Once, Seb had kept six hundred people alive, responded instantly to their needs, and their wishes too when those fell within his power. He had carried them all in his belly, made them part of himself. He thought he would implode under the emptiness of having lost them.

Today, though, his only job was to leave his apartment: something he hadn’t done since the first week he’d moved in. He had groceries delivered, the occasional takeout, odds and ends as he needed them. Supermarkets and corner stores might as well have been on another planet. If they were, he might have actually cared to visit them. He stared out his ninth-floor window while trying to summon up a reason to go out, let alone the will to do so. His fleet-assigned shrink had given him the task and called it homework. Which was of course the exact opposite of what it actually was. Out-of-home work.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2017, 07:54:32 AM »

I saw a different metaphor to the story, I wondered if Seb's situation might be similar to how Social Media can affect us.  We start sharing posts and liking pictures from our friends and it feels like we're part of something bigger.  A healthy balance might even give us a real benefit in terms of relationships maintained or grown beyond our immediate monkeysphere and we get a boost from the acceptance and praise that comes with being part of an active circle even if we can't get out as much as others yet we're still 'connected'.

For some people, though, it goes deeper.  Eventually, they stop leaving their houses and having their own adventures.  Their interaction with Social Media takes a turn for the worse where they start to define themselves entirely by this one small window to the world.  As they dive deeper, it becomes a dependence and it starts to hurt them.  They compare their own 'behind the scenes' lives to the 'best-of' reels for their friends and begin to collapse inwards.  What once brought them join and acceptance now leaves them feeling like they're a lone swimmer who just can't reach the boat that's motoring away while everybody onboard parties, oblivious to the struggle in the water behind them.  Their entire identity becomes wrapped up in this dependence, defines them, but insidiously, they feel they can't break free because then they'll miss out on more.

Seb tries to recreate that feeling of connection he had as a ship brain, to recapture that immediacy, that community the only way he knows how.  He's someone who's been kicked off Facebook and is trying to see if he can fill that need with reddit.  The outlet is different, but the drive is the same and the danger of losing himself to an unhealthy level in it is identical. 

This story seemed less The Forever War to me than a parable about how we want to be helpful, social animals and how easily technology can refine and concentrate that desire to be 'connected' to a point where we harm ourselves. 
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2017, 09:18:13 AM »

This story reminded me of the traumatized and isolated protagonist of EP573: Whatever Tower, However High. I hope he turns out okay in the end.
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"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
--LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN
esanderson
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 02:04:33 PM »

I really liked this. Seb needs to be part of something bigger and he needs to be helpful to his community and he needs to use his neurodes. In my work with US Military Veterans, I have seen that they are happiest and recover best if they can use skills they were taught in service to destruction in a positive and constructive way after they come home.
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Zelda
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2017, 02:58:44 AM »

It took me a little while to get into this story because at the beginning Seb confused me and I had trouble relating to him. But I really enjoyed it when he began figuring out how to help his neighbors.

I didn't notice anything in the story that led me to think Seb was a war veteran. His memories of being a ship brain were about taking care of the people inside the ship. I see it as a peace time vessel and Seb as someone who was so fascinated by space that he was willing to get the body modifications the job required.

The underlying premise strikes me as unrealistic. I can't imagine that a human brain would be better at taking in and analyzing the vast amount of information needed to keep a space ship operating than a computer designed for that purpose. This didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story however.
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acpracht
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Posts: 176


« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 08:31:07 PM »

It took me a little while to get into this story because at the beginning Seb confused me and I had trouble relating to him. But I really enjoyed it when he began figuring out how to help his neighbors.

I didn't notice anything in the story that led me to think Seb was a war veteran. His memories of being a ship brain were about taking care of the people inside the ship. I see it as a peace time vessel and Seb as someone who was so fascinated by space that he was willing to get the body modifications the job required.

The underlying premise strikes me as unrealistic. I can't imagine that a human brain would be better at taking in and analyzing the vast amount of information needed to keep a space ship operating than a computer designed for that purpose. This didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story however.

Huh, I guess I didn't read it as anything but a wartime vessel. The talk of "tour of duty," "fleet assigned shrink," and "Suicide was bad for recruitment" all smacked of military lingo to me.

This, especially, though suggested that Seb was a veteran, to me:

"There was still pain, but it was a dull ache, a limb compressed oddly into a new and strange shape, not severed entirely. Growing pains, not war wounds."

As for the "brain as supercomputer" thing; I think it's a valid point and there's probably some willing suspension of disbelief being asked for the sake of the story. My own "brain canon" goes something like this, however: Seb was the human component of a human/machine integration. Just as some assembly lines combine what humans are good at (pattern recognition and dexterity) with what machines are good at (data crunching, repetitive actions), I think that might be the case here. Seb recognizes human needs, identifies complex patterns by human intuition, etc., and is aided by the processing power of the onboard CPU.

Just my thoughts.

-Adam
Producer
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