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Author Topic: EP595: Islands in the Dark  (Read 1413 times)
eytanz
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« on: September 30, 2017, 06:35:35 AM »

Escape Pod 595: Islands in the Dark


AUTHOR: Beth Goder
NARRATOR: Ibba Armancas
HOST: Tina Connolly

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Road out from Kaysee was boring as ever. The kids we’d picked up this time weren’t anything to sneeze at: soft-spoken boy with eyes too teched up to blink, real young bratty kid who kept trying to backseat drive me from the hatch of a goddamn pickup, and a girl I hadn’t quite gotten a read on yet. Made me nervous. New things tended to do that. Hal would know their names and their stories, hers included, but that wasn’t my job; socializing was his thing and driving was mine. Talking hasn’t ever been my strong suit. Neither has caring. But I was curious.

I let Hal take the wheel and swung myself back into the hatch. Quiet boy with the bright eyes spoke to me first. Asked me my name and rubbed at the place behind his ear where we’d cut the interface out. Thanks to the spray-on shit Hal kept around, it was scarring up already. We’d grabbed a few cans while we were in the city—we could grow a lot out here, but medical supplies could be hard to come by.

I said, “Call me Lanz.”

“You’re going the wrong way,” the bratty kid told me.

“And how would you know?” I asked. “You ever been out here before?”

“Once, on a bet,” she said. She tucked her hair back and wrinkled her nose. “I made it two hours before my ears hurt too much.”

“We’re going the right way,” said the inscrutable girl. Not soft but not loud either: steady like a lighttrain locked to its tracks. She didn’t say it like she trusted me. It was like she just knew better than the rest of us.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2017, 08:50:44 AM »

I enjoyed many elements of this story.  By about timestamp 33:50, when the "big reveal" happened between the two characters, I was getting a wee bit confused.  I did like the dystopian world the author built.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.
Thunderscreech
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 08:58:06 AM »

I thiiiink this is a world where the great fiber stringing of the 90s and dot-com boom didn't happen.  There are still thousands of miles (and even more kilometers!) of fiberoptic cable running from town to town that's never been activated because the infrastructure was put in place then various entities disappeared and/or focused elsewhere but still, the stuff that went online is much of our backbone and doesn't seem to exist in this world. 

Does that sound right to anyone else, that this is an alternate history where the dot com boom didn't happen?  Or did I misunderstand?
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Zelda
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2017, 03:25:47 AM »

I can't forgive Lanz for abandoning her nine year-old sister. Especially when Lanz doesn't have anything remotely resembling an excuse for taking off. There was no crisis, she wasn't faced with a difficult decision, she just left because she thought she'd like it better somewhere else. We learn this quite early in the story and for me it made Lanz such an unlikable character that I didn't care what happened to her. I would have preferred to see the events from someone else's point of view.

Of course the story shows some family history of abandonment. Lanz and Ria's mother abandoned them when they were fourteen and six. It's possible that this is just an extremely dysfunctional family. But given the world of the story I can't help wondering if the presence of the all-knowing, all-powerful AI was part of the reason for the abandonments. Were the mother and Lanz unconsciously relying upon Kaysee to protect and take care of the children they abandoned? I think they must have been. Otherwise they were horrible, terrible people, not people a normal person could understand or be interested in.
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Katzentatzen
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« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2017, 05:35:45 PM »

I also had a hard time sympathizing with Lanz, but I've never grown up with the voice of a city in my ear. I wish them luck on their travels!
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"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
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Scuba Man
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2017, 11:49:58 AM »

I thiiiink this is a world where the great fiber stringing of the 90s and dot-com boom didn't happen.  There are still thousands of miles (and even more kilometers!) of fiberoptic cable running from town to town that's never been activated because the infrastructure was put in place then various entities disappeared and/or focused elsewhere but still, the stuff that went online is much of our backbone and doesn't seem to exist in this world. 

Does that sound right to anyone else, that this is an alternate history where the dot com boom didn't happen?  Or did I misunderstand?
Dang! That’s an interesting interpetation. All that fibre won’t rot nor rust away. I read the nonfiction book, TUBES, and your musings jive with it. Good call,eh.
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"What can do that to a man?  Lightning... napalm? No, some people just explode [sic]. Natural causes".  Source: Repo Man.
Ichneumon
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« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2017, 01:20:30 PM »

I didn't really understand why they couldn't get news from other cities. People seem free to come and go as they please, and other cities are referenced to exist. Looking at how quickly people have become dependent on their phones today, I can't imagine people would be very willing to function with out the AI after being raised on it.
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2017, 01:25:23 AM »

Interesting story.

I didn't really understand why they couldn't get news from other cities. People seem free to come and go as they please, and other cities are referenced to exist. Looking at how quickly people have become dependent on their phones today, I can't imagine people would be very willing to function with out the AI after being raised on it.

Actually, people aren't free to come and go, since if they go too far from the city their chips will buzz and drive them nuts.  It's not the point of the buzzing, but is a consequence that people don't travel far, unless they remove their chip.

I took the lack of contact from other cities as an indication that everyone had all died off. Early on, there was a hint of something like that with the line: "That was the problem with America, endless sprawling land and no one to put on it." But maybe I'm reading too much into this.
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