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Author Topic: EP140: Astromonkeys!  (Read 10674 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: January 11, 2008, 03:54:37 AM »

EP140: Astromonkeys!

By Tony Frazier.
Read by Norm Sherman (of The Drabblecast).
First appeared in Jim Baen’s Universe, June 2006.

“All right, so I’m chasing these things down the street, and there’s more showing up all the time, so now there’s like ten of them. I have no idea how I’m supposed to wrangle all these space monkeys, and right about then is when this dude comes swooping down out of the sky, wearing this blue costume with a big yellow star on his chest.”

“Another hero,” Jill says.

“Guy named Astro,” I say. “I’d run into him a few times before, back when GoDS 1.0 was still together. He would be fighting this monster - that was his thing, fighting these random space monsters - and we’d show up to help out. I thought he was okay, but the other guys didn’t like him much.”

“Why not?” Jill asks.

“Well, he was kind of a dork. No offense,” I say, turning to Dave. Dave waves it off.


Rated PG. Contains some profanity, some scatology, and a lot of silly superhero violence.


Referenced Sites:
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Mur Lafferty



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Stoffern
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2008, 09:41:36 AM »

Now this was nice.

After a period with stories that range from "Interesting, but emotionaly neutral" to "About as cheerful as a truckload of sand", nothing cheers you up like green imaginary space monkeys.

I mean no disrespect to stories like Acephalous Dreams but...yeah...this was nice too.

Stoffern
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2008, 09:56:10 AM »

A fun story. I'm a bit unsure what I feel about the reading - it was very good from a technique point of view, but I wasn't sure it was exactly right emotionally - it sounded too into the story telling; a bit more how I'd expect Dave to be telling the tale rather than Digger. Digger says at several points he does not particularly want to tell the story. I don't know if that's supposed to be taken at face value, but the narrator didn't sound like he's even pretending to be disinterested.

Still, a relatively minor nitpick for a fun and not particularly serious story. Oh, and the small twist at the end took me by total surprise, which was nice.
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DKT
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2008, 11:53:58 AM »

I haven't heard the episode yet, but WOO-HOO!!! NORM SHERMAN!!!

Sweet.  Grin
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Mr. Tweedy
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2008, 05:04:06 PM »

Woo hoo!  Two Drabblecasts in one week!  This is just the sort of story that would be on Drabblecast, albeit about twice as long as a normal DC story.  As a reader, Norm Sherman créme de la créme.

That said, the story was fun and earned a few chuckles, but the person who projects physical manifestations of their hopes and fears onto the external world is so cliché.  The mentally-projected monster that can only be defeated by a character facing his/her inner demons had been used about a billion times in absolutely everything since it was first made popular in Forbidden Planet, although I'd bet it wasn't new then.

Digger is cool.
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Darwinist
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2008, 08:31:58 PM »


Great stuff!  I liked everything about this story.  The reader was great.  The dialogue and slang made it feel like a buddy was telling me a yarn over a couple of cold ones.  The twist at the end was neat.   Freaking flying green monkeys propelled by flames coming out their butts?!  How can you beat that?  LOVED IT!  Hells yeah!
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Czhorat
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2008, 11:16:15 AM »

I have to confess that I was a bit nervous at the start of this one. One way in which Mr Eley's taste diverges from mine is that he likes superhero stories much more than I do. That being said, and while I agree with Mr. Tweedy that the central premise isn't that fresh, I found this to be great fun. Digger has a very nice voice, there was some very nice humor that didn't distract from a feeling of tension, and the twist ending while a tiny bit predictable did work for me. I especially liked Astro's bit of cockiness masking his insecurity. All in all one of the better superhero stories I've read in a while.

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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2008, 08:06:41 PM »

That was just hilarious. Monkeys and superheroes, I was in wierdo geek heaven. I espicially loved Digger's character and how he describes Astro. "Watch this shit!" Cheesy

The only problem was the very end. Maybe I didn't quite get it, but I didn't really like having the kid never coming out of the coma. Kinda felt off in what's a fun superhero story.

Other then that, it was great. Cool
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eytanz
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« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2008, 08:10:45 PM »

That was just hilarious. Monkeys and superheroes, I was in wierdo geek heaven. I espicially loved Digger's character and how he describes Astro. "Watch this shit!" Cheesy

The only problem was the very end. Maybe I didn't quite get it, but I didn't really like having the kid never coming out of the coma. Kinda felt off in what's a fun superhero story.

I thought that for a while, and then realized that since the kid obviously learnt to control his mental projections, he could live a proper life (or even better - a proper life with superpowers) while his body is technically still in a coma.
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Biscuit
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2008, 04:57:33 PM »

I thought that for a while, and then realized that since the kid obviously learnt to control his mental projections, he could live a proper life (or even better - a proper life with superpowers) while his body is technically still in a coma.

Ohh, just like Tad Williams Otherland series Cheesy
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the_wombat
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« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2008, 07:39:31 PM »

First Off, Hilarious story, and touching too. I really liked all the movie and culture references, Zulu, Monkey's Paw, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, I really felt that these were brilliant clues into Digger's character, like he's not a superhero out of some higher sense of obligation or morality, but that he just wants to be "really cool". Thumbs Up!
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deflective
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2008, 08:49:07 PM »

so much fun.

this reminds me a lot of the incredibles both for the enjoyment and the family superhero theme. a hero is someone who stays and does the right thing, whatever it happens to be.

a good story for mr. Sherman, he does good superhero.
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Rain
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2008, 06:36:57 AM »

Wow i am surprised i am in the minority here, i thought the idea in itself was ok but it came off painfully unfunny, maybe the reader had something to do with it but it seems to me that the author just tried too hard to be funny and not succeding..
« Last Edit: January 30, 2008, 09:59:58 AM by Rain » Logged
HokieGeek
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2008, 07:53:49 AM »

Only escapepod puts together a great story like this with an amazing talent like Norm Sherman (LOVE the drabblecast). This stuff is pure gold.
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Jack_Frost_esq
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« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2008, 08:12:19 AM »

How can "Grean monkeys" be any but fun.
Fun Story.
Great story telling.
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wookieedaddiee
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« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2008, 09:26:09 AM »

Loved the monkeys - made me laugh out loud on the bus this morning.

Ahhhh - Tommys.  I'd forgotten how gloriously bad their burgers are.  That little bit of realism made it that much better.

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« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2008, 12:07:03 PM »

Now that was fun!  A great change of pace.  All hail the variety of Escape Pod!
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« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2008, 12:09:02 PM »

I had a blast listening to this one.  Green monkeys, superheroes, and Tommy's chili burgers.  What more could I ask for?  The characters were a hoot and the set-up worked really well for me.  (Also, loved the little piano effect when we dropped back to telling the story/flashback -- not only was it a great audio cue, it continued to set the tone of the story.)  Did anybody else get a Hellboy vibe off of Astro?  The "watch this shit" tag was perfect and reminded me of "Aw, crap."  Great story Tom Frazier and a fantastic reading by Norm.  I'd definitely be down for more stories about Digger.

Now, I'm left wanting some Tommy's...
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Listener
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« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2008, 08:30:55 AM »

Amazingly, I did not see the twist coming at the end.  I saw that Dave = Astroboy "twist", but not that Dave was still in a coma.  Good storytelling there.

As annoying as I think "let me tell you this story" stories can be, I think they lend themselves really well to EP and PP (and PC, I'm sure) because the narrator can tell the story in a consistent voice, without needing to play the narrator as well as the MC.  Norm did an excellent job staying in voice and playing some of the incredulity (as was noted, "watch this shit").  However, I think the chosen voice might have worked better for a villain than a hero; he sounded way too sinister at times.  However, I would definitely be open to hearing more Norm Sherman on EP/PP/PC.

I think, in terms of storytelling as a whole, toward the end the author relied too much on comparisons to other films/stories that the reader may not have seen (I have never seen North by Northwest, though I have seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off).  A similar problem cropped up in the "Night Watch" series of books -- the author referred too often to metal/rock song lyrics.  I understand this is part of the Digger character, but I think it could've been done better.  Also, a nitpicky thing, but at one point either the author or the reader turned an "asks" to "asked" and pulled me out of the present-tense flow of the story.

The imagery was superb -- the burger, the monkeys, the butt-flaming, the leaf in the burger at the end, and the incidental way Digger refers to his lasers, not trying to explain what they are or what they do, just noting that they exist.  Jill was a good foil for Digger as he told his story.

I agree with Steve in that there's been less humor around -- even in the fanfic and original-fic-by-friends that I read, and in some of my own fic, I've noticed a trend toward less-than-humorous stuff.  I didn't find this story really funny at first, just interesting, but as we learned more about the monkeys and the characters, I found myself laughing along in places.

Of course, my own perception of less humor around might be in that I just finished "I Am Charlotte Simmons", which gets really depressing toward the end, with a very short payoff back to "normalcy".

Overall, very pleased with Astromonkeys.
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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2008, 11:33:57 AM »

Wow. Another minory view here, it seems. I thought the story started out very promising and funny indeed (jet propelled green monkeys from outer space, who doesn't love them). It had a cool narrator, a nice cynical view of the superhero community ('He was a bit of a dork') and the dynamic structure of a story-within-a-story. Up to about the halfway point, I felt like I was in for a very funny punchline.

And then it all fell flat. To me, the second half of the story had quite a different feel. Not nearly as funny. By the time the twist came around, I just didn't care, I felt a bit let down. And it wasn't the reading, I thought that was excellent.

In Dutch I would say: 'Blijgemaakt met een dooie mus' (which roughly translates as: I had high expectations, only to be disappointed)...
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