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Author Topic: EP126: The Sweet, Sad Love Song of Fred and Wilma  (Read 15517 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: October 05, 2007, 02:09:40 AM »

EP126: The Sweet, Sad Love Song of Fred and Wilma

By Nick DiChario and Mike Resnick.
Read by Stephen Eley.
First appeared in Science Fiction Age, November 1994.

So there you have him, Frederick Bannister, tripping across the highways and byways of of life, stubbing a toe here, bruising an elbow there, spilling this, dropping that, and managing to make it to the halfway point without too many major accomplishments or disasters.

And what of Wilma?

She possessed massive storage capacity, and no fourth-level equation, no matter how complex, was beyond her, but whether she was bright or merely well programmed is a moot point. Or at least it was in the beginning.


Rated X. Contains explicit sex of several kinds. Not recommended for younger audiences.


Referenced Books:
A Small and Remarkable Life by Nick DiChario
Magic Feathers: The Mike and Nick Show by Nick DiChario and Mike Resnick



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2007, 07:18:00 AM »

This just goes to show you that what's under the hood matters more than the sheet metal.

(pun intended, but not really good)
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lhoward
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« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2007, 07:22:52 AM »

Five minutes into this story it wasn't really doing anything for me, but I kept listening and by the end it had drawn me in.  The story grew in ways I could not imagine going into it.  I never thought that by the end I would be lamenting the damage to a wonderful relationship between a man and a robot.  I hope they find a way to work it out.
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ajames
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« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2007, 07:49:25 AM »

By the end I was struck with the very strong resemblance to "Travels with Cats".  Loner learns to love and live life through impossible or unthinkable relationship, loses relationship and finally takes a chance and throws the old, safe life away searching for his lost love.
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raygunray
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« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2007, 08:44:32 AM »

Great quote from R.U.R by Karel Capek. I acted in a stage production of the play while living in Prague during the early 1990's.  I played Marious, the servant robot turned assassin. 

The play was pretty terrible despite the cutting-edge ideas forwarded in it.  Plays before the Method were highly melodramatic and impressionistic, which meant there were many gushing soliloquies.  Had a lot of fun doing it.

The play is best know for coining the word Robot which is derivative from the Czech word Robota - to labor.  That's about all the Czech I learned other than "yednout Pivo, Prosim" (another beer, please).
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hatton
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« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2007, 10:06:42 AM »

This is only the second EP episode that I've purposefully stopped listening to.  The other was Ep 113 Ishmael in Love.

I don't know why but animal/non-humanoid alien/robotic love with a human turns me off... with the exception of Juxtaposition by Piers Anthony, which I haven't read since I was 14 and sex was an unknown.  Now my brain starts working on the logistics of the relationship all the way from the emotional to the cultural to the physical.

The one thing that I wonder about - if Wilma's voice was upgraded, why didn't it change for the sobbing message at the end?

EDIT: I stopped the player initially when the redhead office-whore was recognized by name at the hotel but then decided to listen to the rest of the story.  Hence the reason for the wonder.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2007, 10:21:47 AM by hatton » Logged
BigDrahma
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« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2007, 01:26:57 PM »

It's just like Travels With My Cats, but this one's actually sci-fi.

...too soon?  Okay, I kid, I kid.  Grin

No, seriously, don't ban me.  I'll add content!

I was hoping for a cameo from our favorite Escape Pod Announcer voice for Wilma, but Steve did a great job with the voice.  The entire reading was great, which made it easier for me to get into the story.  Hearing the Flintstones theme song makes me appreciate why Steve's boy screams at him when he sings.  Grin

Other than that, it was ... good.  Kind of samey, after hearing more than a couple Mike Resnick stories.  His influence on the plot feels obvious, even if he in fact may not have come up with that particular twist.  I think I'm kind of done with Resnick stories, to be honest.  It's no knock on their quality; all of them have been pretty top notch.  It's just the mechanics of the stories are starting to pop out a little more, and it's harder not to see the metal structure of the story when it appears that only the sheet draped over it has changed.

I had a similar reaction to Charles De Lint (please for the love of all that is holy get him on Podcastle).  I love his novels, and his short stories are great, when taken individually.  When I bought one of his short story collections, however, I began to see patterns.  When those patterns started to border on formulas, I put the book down, and I haven't picked it up since.  Which is too bad, because De Lint has some great strengths as an author, and he was a huge influence on my writing style early on.

So: good story, Resnick writes sci-fi, I get flogged for bringing up the "is it sci-fi" question.  But it was worth it, dang it! Grin
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mike-resnick
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« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2007, 07:31:36 PM »

Nick DiChario and I have written 11 collaborative stories, which were published as THE MIKE AND NICK SHOW back in 2000. For the other 10, he wrote the first draft, I wrote the final draft/polish. But for
this story...

I'd written the first 1000 words of "Fred and Wilma" back in the late 1980s, right up through the
description of Wilma. Then I had to set it aside for a bunch of better-paying novel deadlines, and
I never thought of it again until the mid-1990s, when Nick and I had already sold four or five stories.
I sent it to him to see if he wanted to collaborate, he sent back a finished draft a couple of days
later, I polished it, and we sent it to Science Fiction Age, which was the top-paying market at that
time. Scott Edelman sent it back, saying he'd take it if we took most of the sex out, and we did (which
is why Escape Pod's X rating surprised me. I mean, hell, it wasn't pornographic to begin with, and we
toned it down plenty.)

As for those who find traces of "Travels With My Cats", which I wrote a decade later, or
"my" approach...all I can say is that the first 1000 words were mine, but the plot and approach
thereafter were Nick's. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was Nick who submitted this one to Escape
Pod; I'd all but forgotten it.

On the other hand, it's a pleasant change not to have to explain that it really and truly -is-
science fiction. <g>

-- Mike
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SFEley
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2007, 08:15:31 PM »

Scott Edelman sent it back, saying he'd take it if we took most of the sex out, and we did (which
is why Escape Pod's X rating surprised me. I mean, hell, it wasn't pornographic to begin with, and we
toned it down plenty.)

I'm VERY conservative with the ratings.  Not in my own tastes, but in the story ratings.  Since we're not trying to restrict by age or put any "Click here if you're over 18" gateways over any content, the only thing I can do if somebody's mom complains is to say "Here, look, we did have a very clear warning."

And yes, Nick did send it to EP.
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ajames
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2007, 09:54:29 PM »


As for those who find traces of "Travels With My Cats", which I wrote a decade later, or
"my" approach...all I can say is that the first 1000 words were mine, but the plot and approach
thereafter were Nick's. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was Nick who submitted this one to Escape
Pod; I'd all but forgotten it.

On the other hand, it's a pleasant change not to have to explain that it really and truly -is-
science fiction. <g>

-- Mike

That's very interesting, because it really wasn't until near the very end that I thought of "Travels with my Cats" at all, but then it was such a strong recollection.  I'll stand by the resemblance, but pass it off to coincidence or at least something other than similar themes by the same author.
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Swamp
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« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2007, 10:17:50 PM »

I'm VERY conservative with the ratings. 

And I for one am very grateful to you for that.  Not necesarily that I won't read a certain story because of a rating, but at least I know what to expect and not to have to listen part way into a story if I'm not in the mood for that kind of a story.  But what I appreciate more is that you give a reason: "Contains explicit sex" or "strong violence", etc.  That means a lot more than X, R, or G.
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Czhorat
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« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2007, 12:53:28 AM »

I kinda liked this one. I felt that explicitly stating that the sex between Fred and Mrs. Crummings was "mechanical" might have been a touch heavy-handed; we should have gotten that much from the actual descriptions of the act. I loved the descriptions of the initial sexual encounter between Fred and Wilma. I found the whole relationship between Fred and Wilma to be over-immersive to the point of unhealthiness, but that makes sense within the story. Neither of them had the experience to do much better. Part of me thinks that the story might have worked a little bit better for me if we'd seen some tension between Fred and Wilma before the big betrayal.

As far as the ratings are concerned, I, too, thought that the "X" was a bit much for this story. I'm wondering if it would be better to use the MPAA's less-loaded "NC-17". Downloading an "X" rated podcast makes me feel as if I'm going to be loading porn into my iPod.
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The Word of Nash is the word of Nash and it is Nash's word.
Pink Shift
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« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2007, 11:39:06 AM »

The idea of
 “You don’t know what you have until you lost it”
 resonated with me.
Been there, done it, got the tee shirt.

Men being dogs;
 not news.

Did anyone else wonder
 why humans had jobs at the law firm
 if  Wilma had the abilities
 to do Fred’s work for him?

And

Why did Wilma have to be a robot at all?
What greater value
 did a robot bring
 to the story that a
 human woman would not?

I’ll think about this one.
So far
 not high on my Escapepod list.
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Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.

I imagine that yes is the only living thing.

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Roney
Lochage
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« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2007, 04:35:31 AM »

A sexbot story.  Ahh, that takes me back to the flash fiction contest...

Still, Wilma's story was quite interesting (much more so than Fred's) and there were a few chuckles along the way.  Despite the humorous tone it was successfully emotionally manipulative, which I thought was impressive.
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Czhorat
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« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2007, 07:07:53 AM »

Why did Wilma have to be a robot at all?
What greater value
 did a robot bring
 to the story that a
 human woman would not?

Wilma didn't have to be a robot, but for the story to work as written she had to be some kind of other with whom Fred couldn't have a "normal" relationship. If she were another woman he'd not have experienced the tension between the need to keep his lover secret and the obvious success and happiness he was having as a result of being with her.

I don't think it was onlty a story about not appreciating what one has until it it lost. There were serious levels of inequality and noncompatability in Fred and Wilma's relationship. It was interesting that it worked at all, but felt a bit doomed from the beginning. It was also interesting to see just how superficial Fred's change was and how it took some kind of real loss to make it into a "real" change.
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The Word of Nash is the word of Nash and it is Nash's word.
BigDrahma
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« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2007, 01:44:03 PM »

As for those who find traces of "Travels With My Cats", which I wrote a decade later, or
"my" approach...all I can say is that the first 1000 words were mine, but the plot and approach
thereafter were Nick's.

My God, you ripped off Nick on Travels With My Cats!

 Grin  Grin JUST JOKING!  Grin  Grin

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Listener
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« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2007, 08:09:09 AM »

I don't know that I really liked this story.  I felt it was a tad formulaic.  Also, the "cleaning mech" thing seemed a little dropped in... like... the SF, outside of that, was almost too subtle.

Eh.  I don't know.  Not really a fan.  Possibly because I didn't feel any new ground was being covered.  Can't win 'em all, I guess.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #17 on: October 08, 2007, 12:19:29 PM »

It was fun, but not one of my favorites.  Once we got to "unemployed mars explorer robot working as hotel maid" my suspension of disbelief went right out the window.  So I sat down to enjoy it on it's own level, which I did - but it never really rose above the level of "fluff" for me.
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Planish
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« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2007, 04:33:39 PM »

It was fun, but not one of my favorites.  Once we got to "unemployed mars explorer robot working as hotel maid" my suspension of disbelief went right out the window.  So I sat down to enjoy it on it's own level, which I did - but it never really rose above the level of "fluff" for me.
That's pretty much what I thought, as soon as I read the title. Even so, it was pretty high-quality fluff, once you start picking it apart.

I rather liked the Hanna-Barbera crossover aspects, combining Flintstones (with Fred as the primitive male) and Jetsons (robot Wilma channeling Rosie the Robot Maid).
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Reggie
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« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2007, 04:43:23 PM »

I was just going to comment about how there was a Flinstones/Jetsons crossover in this story, but when I clicked the reply link the warning popped up that someone else had posted while I was reading, so I hit refresh, and there you were, lol.

 Roll Eyes

Anyway, I liked this story, I don't have anything else really to add to what has already been said though.

But one thing I really did like was the way the introduction of the robot set up the time frame for the story.  It seemed present day, but then robots and Mars were mentioned, so that clearly puts us in the not very distant future....of course, Mr. Resnik points out above that he began the story in the 1980's, so really it could have been a few decades in the future making it set...well....right now.  But, my point is, I really like it when we can figure out the setting or other ambient factors on our own without needing everything spelled out for us.  I like the fun little details you get from stories when you pay attention. 
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