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Author Topic: EP124: Save Me Plz  (Read 51267 times)

Planish

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Reply #20 on: September 23, 2007, 12:49:01 AM
It's no accident that in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) we pretend to be living in "the Middle Ages as they should have been" - no plagues, no famine, no inquisitions, and the wars have resurrection points to walk back to. It's by no means a "re-enactment" group, in the strict sense.

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Ultimately it just shows that our world can be magical and beautiful and challenging, if you're lucky, or maybe if you just look for it.

Ah yes - the business with Meg wondering about a world with cars, cell phones, and cinema. That was nice.
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I love the pics Planish - that sounds like so much fun!
It is.
I got to teach myself how to make those bucklers (top and bottom ones started out as flat sheets of steel plate) and then I get to use them in combat. Sorry I could not get the html "img" tags to display them at a smaller size. Here's how I made the top one, in stainless steel: http://northernelectric.ca/medieval/armoury/buckler_stainless/ss_buckler.htm
But I digress. Back to your normal programming.

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600south

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Reply #21 on: September 23, 2007, 08:30:33 AM
I really enjoyed this one, and I've never even played a RPG of any kind (unless you count my job).

All my favorite elements were in there: reality as simulation, a splash of quantum physics, a time loop... but most of all, I'm a sucker for any story where the main character is trapped in a nightmare, but the nightmare isn't revealed until the end.

oh, and Mur's reading was fantastic as usual.



Loz

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Reply #22 on: September 23, 2007, 11:50:15 AM
I find it interesting how many people will wish to live in [insert fantasy world/sf world/historical period], even when, on a bit of analysis, the world in question wouldn't be a very fun place to actually live.  A couple of prime examples would be Middle Earth, or on the historical side medieval Europe.

Hell, I wouldn't have wanted to live fifty-one years ago, when choosing a sexual partner could have landed me in jail in the UK. It does seem as though most people in this world are looking back towards some idyllic golden age that never existed, then letting that define how they move forward.



DDog

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Reply #23 on: September 23, 2007, 03:55:01 PM
This one was great!

I too had a progression from sword in the trunk ("Cool, a geek after my own heart"), to dog-sized spider ("Wait, what?), to pirates and gnomes and goblins ("...Ooooh!"). I thought it was fascinating that pirates and knights were listed as things that had never existed in reality--leaving me to wonder whether someone had already used a Wand of Reification on us.

Great reading as well.

I did wonder, if he already had over a thousand wands yet reality had been changed, how many times Meg had actually been back and forth. I was glad that at the end Devon was finally satisfied and stopped running her on the quest and they could actually have a life together. I was also glad that the story didn't end with the first sentence again, and there was more to it than a simple loop. I also had a sinister thought that Devon could have used the wand to make sure that Meg would always choose the quest over again--since by running the quest over and over again, she is copping out on her ultimatum of "the game or me, I mean it."

I'm a little frustrated because I'm working on a story involving the "world is a simulation" concept and I don't want five million other stories with that concept to crop up before I'm done! But I doubt I will manage it with the finesse that this one has.

I did think it was a little too neat that one of Devon's drug-induced theories actually turned out to be true, and that Meg just accepts it with seemingly little internal conflict--which is another point in favor of the wand being used on her mind as well as her body at the outset.

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Reply #24 on: September 23, 2007, 04:05:00 PM
This one was just a lot of fun.

Mur's reading was excellent. 

I don't want to change the world to some fantasyland, but can I have a couple of those wands??


edit: typo
« Last Edit: September 23, 2007, 06:06:50 PM by Russell Nash »



milo

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Reply #25 on: September 23, 2007, 05:56:39 PM
I didn't like this story for two reasons.

First, stories about video games are inherently shallow. While a video game may be a way to tell a compelling story, a story about the story someone else experienced by playing a game doesn't help me feel caught up in a story. The only point I could relate to was Meg's boredom at dinner listening to Devon blather on about the progress of his character.

Second, I think this story gives short shrift to the amazingly mysterious universe we live in. Explaining away quantum mechanics as some sort of "mistake" in a giant meta-game makes me suspect that the author lacks the grand scale of imagination that the story supposedly promotes. Quantum mechanics is far stranger than the spells and magic of most run-of-the-mill fantasy. Who needs goblins and swarms of giant bats to make life interesting when we live in a world where one photon can exist in two faraway places at once, where many atoms at the verge of absolute zero can coalesce into a super-atom, and even time itself can be bent by gravitational forces? Teleportation between galaxies, made-to-order black holes, and time travel are just a few of the possibilities.

Despite all of this, I’ve enjoyed most of the fantasy run on Escape Pod and look forward to the launch of Podcastle. I’d especially like to hear more by Tobias Buckell and N. K. Jemison.



Jim

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Reply #26 on: September 23, 2007, 06:33:35 PM
I liked the story, as it was entertaining to try and guess what was really going on.

It reminded me a bit of the not-that-good SF movie The Thirteenth Floor, but Save Me Plz is, I think, the superior story by far.

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bolddeceiver

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Reply #27 on: September 24, 2007, 02:31:45 AM

Hell, I wouldn't have wanted to live fifty-one years ago.

I was engaged to for a time (and dated a long time before that) a type 1 diabetic, and any time I ran into someone talking about the "simpler times" of the past I would point out that she would have most certainly died at the age of 15 eighty years ago, and would have driven her family into abject poverty to keep her alive a little over twenty years ago.



Swamp

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Reply #28 on: September 24, 2007, 03:40:23 AM
I forgot to mention that I haven't heard or read a story by David Barr Kirtley that I haven't liked.  That's 5 for 5.  Below are the stories I have heard, listed in order of my most favorite to my least (but I liked them all):

1) "The Second Rat"
2) "Veil of Ignorance"
3) "Save Me Plz"
4) "Blood of Virgins"
5) "The Disciple"

His website liked to on this episode has many more that I plan to seek out.

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Bdoomed

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Reply #29 on: September 24, 2007, 03:41:55 AM
I really enjoyed this story.  it was tons of fun, and it gave me yet another reason to not play WoW! (Guild Wars FTW!)

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Planish

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Reply #30 on: September 24, 2007, 05:14:55 AM
Explaining away quantum mechanics as some sort of "mistake" in a giant meta-game makes me suspect that the author lacks the grand scale of imagination that the story supposedly promotes. Quantum mechanics is far stranger than the spells and magic of most run-of-the-mill fantasy.
Oh yeah. that bugged me too. Conscripting quantum mechanics as a kind of applied phlebotinum, because it is so insufficiently understood that even if the author does understand it, their readers probably do not. If you're going to apply phlebotinum, you should invent either your own name or use handwavium, or use a generic public domain SF term.

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Etherius

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Reply #31 on: September 24, 2007, 05:59:31 AM
This one was fun to listen to, and having Mur (a well-known MMO addict) read the story gave it a nice touch of irony, above and beyond the fact that she just did a great job with it.

The ending, though ...

<shiver>

In the end, this one gave me a feeling very similar to that of "Just Do It" -- it's basically a story about a selfish bastard imposing his will on another human being and getting away with it. Mind control stories can often be humorous, entertaining or even arousing, but they usually make me feel like I need a shower.

The power of the Wand of Reification is just about the biggest temptation that could exist in the universe. I would normally say that I don't care about having power, in the sense of political power or economic power or military power. The types of power commonly available in our world are primarily destructive, and they double as a set of shackles for the person who bears them. This sort of power, though -- the power to quite literally change the world to your liking -- this would be truly seductive. One reason the ending is so unsettling is because there is a part of me that would want to change things, to make them "better" -- and because the story shows us that one person's wish fulfillment is another person's nightmare. "Lena" might be happy most of the time and soon forget about the incident with the ruined truck, but the truest part of herself will still be trapped inside, screaming. I shudder to think that my own actions with such a Wand might end up doing the same thing to someone, and it makes me glad that I'll never be faced with that choice.

The idea of quantum mechanics as, essentially, the "pixelization"  or "granularity" of a simulated universe at fine scales is one that I've heard before, and I do find it to be a fun thought experiment.  (Dr. Nick Bostrom, a philosopher at Oxford, has gotten some headlines for seriously proposing the "our universe is a simulation" idea.) My mother, a long-time Star Trek fan, once referred to the Bible verse that says that "in Him we live, and move, and have our being" and said that we must be on God's holodeck.  ;D Yes, it's a program with its own (mostly) internally consistent rules and subroutines, but he could always change the parameters, or even turn it off...

Oh, and as for why he has the armory full of wands: My guess is that he uses two of the wishes from each wand to make changes, then keeps the last wish in reserve "just in case." That would be consistent with the in-story comments about his reluctance to use up magic items, while also accounting for the fact that he obviously has been making changes with each iteration of Meg's "quest."

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burnt_toast

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Reply #32 on: September 24, 2007, 11:54:32 AM
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one creeped out by the ending.  It's bad enough to have another girl on the side, but turning your girl into that other girl?  That's pretty low.  So much for, "I love you just the way you are."

That being said, I liked the story, even if the end did leave me thanking god that, while I've dated some losers in my time, none of them were busily orchestrating a devious plot to turn me [and the rest of the world] into something else.



Listener

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Reply #33 on: September 24, 2007, 12:57:13 PM
I'm very surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response to this story.  I kept expecting something better.

On the positive side, the reading was compelling, and I really like the world Meg lived in -- the existence of swords, certain monsters, Cheshire Gnomes, etc.

But for the most part, I was disappointed.  Though a casual reader might say this story is reflective of our times -- MMOs, txtypng or whatever it's called, etc -- from a critical reader perspective, this was just a story of wish-fulfillment.  I don't know the author personally, so maybe it's not, but to me it read that way.  I kept expecting to be shocked by something, made to think, etc.

I was a little surprised that Devin didn't have to force Meg to restart the quest.  But otherwise, meh.  And even that surprise wasn't much of a surprise, given the M-Night-Shalamalamadingdong trend of contemporary SF.

Also, the coda felt unnecessary.  I think the story would've been just as good if it'd ended with the first few paragraphs being repeated.  Too many authors, I feel, are writing unnecessary codas.

The writing also felt a little juvenile -- "she felt x.  she felt x.  she said x in x way."  There wasn't very much diversity to the language, at least not that I recall.

So, overall, I liked the idea of the story, but it wasn't anything new, and in the end, it just didn't feel right to me, like the story needed a few rounds of editing to really be all it could be.  A story with some of these ideas in it deserved a better trip through the word processor than it got.

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BigDrahma

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Reply #34 on: September 24, 2007, 05:43:38 PM
I'm very surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response to this story.  I kept expecting something better.

You may have a point, and it may come down to the reading.  First, it was refreshing to have a reader with a microphone that didn't sound like a tin-can tied to a string (I sometimes have to skip stories, they sound so poor).  And, I'm coming to the realization that Mur could read a Red Robin menu and I'd enjoy it.



VBurn

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Reply #35 on: September 24, 2007, 09:28:01 PM
I always say that the only thing these kinds of games make you is a loser in reality, mainly as a joke because most of these games have no "YOU WIN, GAME OVER" point. But having seen some people "disappear" because of these games, there might be a deeper truth to that thought.

Good story, easy to relate to in today's society, and I have yet to hear a story Mur did not do a great job on.



Listener

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Reply #36 on: September 24, 2007, 10:05:32 PM
I'm very surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response to this story.  I kept expecting something better.

You may have a point, and it may come down to the reading.  First, it was refreshing to have a reader with a microphone that didn't sound like a tin-can tied to a string (I sometimes have to skip stories, they sound so poor).  And, I'm coming to the realization that Mur could read a Red Robin menu and I'd enjoy it.


I'll give you that.  But not everyone can have a professional-grade microphone.  (Hey, Steve, I happen to have one, if you're looking for more readers... Ben Phillips has a demo I made last week if you want a copy too...)  Still, I can separate the reading from the story, and while I really liked the reading, the story overall was still... eh... better than "Ishmael in Love" and "Reggie vs Storm Chimera Whatever" but not as good as many others.

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Czhorat

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Reply #37 on: September 24, 2007, 10:46:44 PM
Hi all. First time listener, first time poster.

I agree with those who liked the story and found the ending somewhat creepy. I don't agree with Listener that it's wish-fulfillment. If anything, it's a cautionary tale about where wish-fulfillment could take you.

Some things were elegantly done. I liked the way the encounter with the giant spider (and Meg's matter-of-fact reaction to it) showed us that we're really in a somewhat different world. Before that bit I suspected that Meg was a LARPer of some sort and her ex was a gaming buddy as well as an ex boyfriend.

The one thing that didn't quite work for me was her feeling about living in someone else's dream. It rang true, but struck me as just a tiny bit too obvious. I'd rather the reader be left with Meg's feeling of unease. That would have let me conclude for myself that she was unhappy because she's in someone else's dream.

All in all, though, I think I'm going to like it here. I'm already downloading my way through the archives and eagerly awaiting next week's installment.

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ScottC

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Reply #38 on: September 25, 2007, 01:51:16 PM
Long time listener, first time poster.

What struck me was how the fantasy elements were introduced so you assume this is some alternate reality with magic tossed in, but later find out that those elements are much more significant than just 'local color'.

The story also made me think of Disney.  I read (well listened) to the recent biography and the theme was that Disney wanted to make a perfect world (Snow White, Disney Land, the original concept for EPCOT).  But the difference was Disney invited you into his world, Devon forced everyone including Meg into his.  I bet Devon is still fine tuning his world, still thinking the problem is with reality and not with him.



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Reply #39 on: September 25, 2007, 11:49:44 PM
The thing I liked best about this story is that "bad guy" wasn't really what most people would call evil; he was just trying to make the world into what he thought would be a better place. I don't think he would have considered himself selfish (though he was), rather he was just so myopic he believed that by remaking the world he would be helping everyone out.  This gives the story resonances with not just multiplayer games, but politics as well. Perhaps I'm a bit naive, but I think most of the political battles are not good vs evil but people trying to reshape the world into what they think would be ideal, not grasping that their view of the heaven is the other man's hell.

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