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Author Topic: EP621: Assistance (Artemis Rising)  (Read 2579 times)
Posts: 6106

« on: April 14, 2018, 02:43:11 PM »

Escape Pod 621: Assistance (Artemis Rising)

AUTHOR : Kathryn DeFazio
NARRATOR : Summer Brooks
HOST: S. B. Divya


“Would you like to discuss your coping plan?”

Astor did not want to discuss their coping plan. They didn’t want to think about their coping plan, or the trip itself, or the airport, or the subway, or— “No, thank you.”

“Do you think it would be—”

“Manual override.” Astor sat heavily in the armchair.

“Hmm.” The little android tilted its head slightly. “I’m sorry, Astor, I don’t understand the command. Could you rephrase?”

It had been worth a shot. “Never mind.”

“The value of coping in advance allows you to prepare for the most likely scenario and therefore decrease feelings of helplessness and fear. Would you like to discuss your coping plans?”

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
Father Beast
Posts: 516

« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 08:13:59 AM »

The story makes a point of using a pronoun in a way I'm not used to in order to point out Astor's gender, and the gender turns out to be irrelevant. But then the continuing reference to Astor as "they", and Page as "it", was jarring. I kept wondering why we were giving respect to Astor, and dehumanizing Page.
Then I realized, as a quote occurred to me:

"You don't have to waste manners on the ogre!"
-Lord Farquad, in Shrek

People who say things like that don't understand the basic meaning of manners and respect. Manners are never wasted because we use them because we want to be good kind and decent people. We use manners and are respectful because in doing so, we show respect to ourselves as well as others. Manners are not wasted on the ogre, because it demonstrates who we are, regardless of whether the ogre appreciates it.
This is why people anthropomorphize their dogs and cats. This is why you see people saying "please" and "thank you" to their phones.

Despite the fact that Page is an android, Astor is always polite to them, and watchful for their well being. So it seems to me that Astor treats them with more respect than the author does.
Posts: 42

« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2018, 02:43:48 PM »

I found this to be a good depiction of social anxiety, but I don't think it belongs on a sci-fi podcast. Replace the android with a therapist on the phone and it's just... a person with anxiety dealing with it.
Posts: 212

« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2018, 03:33:32 PM »

1. Loved the non-binary protagonist, I'm all for more inclusion on that, and I always worry for my trans/nonbinary/genderqueer friends at places like the airport.

2. It took me a while to finish this one, I have anxiety and one of the places that triggers me most is the grocery store. Thank you for running such an accurate representation of mental illness, without being ableist at all.

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."
Posts: 1042

« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 10:45:59 AM »

I found this story pleasantly soothing. Yes, that is what I said. 
It didn't make a deep impact on me and I didn't find it particularly meaningful (yes, my privilege is showing), but I did find everything (the story, the attentive assistant, and the calm voice of the narrator) all very soothing. And that is good too.
Posts: 49

« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2018, 02:08:48 PM »

I liked the way this story conveyed the conflict between needing help with a disability and being frustrated with the assistance (and with the need for assistance in the first place). Too often, writers seem to assume that disabled people regard human or mechanical assistance as an extension of their bodies and/or some wonderful thing that's always great to have around. There's rarely any acknowledgement that disability can be frustrating and that assistive technology can still be a pain in the ass.

There were several points in the story where I wanted to jump in and smash the android.
Posts: 503

« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2018, 06:12:28 AM »

I found the use of "they" as a first person pronoun a bit confusing in audio. I use it myself in writing (e.g. for non-fiction texts), but in a story, I sometimes couldn't figure out if a single person - Astor - was meant, or a number of people.

What annoyed me was the "look it up on google" statement in the end credits. That's like "go to a library" - it's not precise at all. Only that in a library there's a qualified person who can help you. I would have appreciated an actual link/website/forum with information.

As for the story itself - as a neurotypical person, it was interesting to experience this other viewpoint, though I didn't take much else out of the prose.
Posts: 217

« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2018, 11:36:38 AM »

Humans have a difficult time understanding and empathizing with other humans going through mental health problems, and I think it would be even more difficult to get appropriate/effective feedback from a robot. Astor's fears, like many fears, were not logical: they have to check the door despite knowing they locked it, they are afraid of going to the grocery store even though they know statistically that nothing bad will happen, etc. It seems like it would be difficult for a robot, which I assume using logic, to process and respond with anything but generalized and repeated solutions.
EA Staff
Posts: 215

« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2018, 12:10:16 AM »

Looking back on this string, I got reminded of a recent episode of RadioLab.

Somewhere around 44 minutes is the relevant portion.

Technology allowing psychoanalysis on yourself... now THAT's a trip...

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