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Author Topic: EP148: Homecoming at the Borderlands Café  (Read 50164 times)

Sylvan

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Reply #25 on: March 09, 2008, 03:18:58 AM
There's an interesting point, I'm seeing, in the discussions:  is "Homecoming at the Borderlands Café", Science Fiction, or not?

Certainly, to use the Ellison standard, it was "Speculative Fiction".  As Steve has said several times before:  "Science Fiction is what I'm pointing at when I say it".  Still, this whole debate brings us to the personal contemplation of whether or not this story qualifies.  In my mind, it does, because I come to this tale with the perspective of this being a logical outgrowth of parallel social structures, identical in most cases, to things we see in the real world.  What would have made it more clearly SF, however, would have been if there were exploration -albeit brief- of what elements led to the divergence.

This was handled expertly in Harry Turtledove's "Joe Steele" (Episode #72 - http://escapepod.org/2006/09/21/ep072-joe-steele/) but is completely absent in this tale.  So, while it is my personal decision to take this as "Science Fiction" (because it is alternate history), this definition is also tenuous because we are not shown a clear division-point from standard history.  Unless I missed it, we don't even have one hinted at.

Sociology is a science ... a "soft science", sure, but a science nonetheless.  I believe you can do Science Fiction with the soft sciences but the line is blurrier for the individual as to whether or not they can point to it and say "that's Science Fiction".

At least that's what I think.  Does that make any sense?

Yours,
Sylvan (Dave)
« Last Edit: March 09, 2008, 03:42:46 AM by Sylvan »



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #26 on: March 09, 2008, 07:00:32 AM
This story didn't make me think, or even make me mad. It made me severely depressed that there are bigots and assholes like this who believes in the insipid ideas expressed in this story.

Both sides are essentially bigoted and evil, and both are so unlikely it's not even funny.

The "Liberal" cities apparently steal Christian children from their parents. Right. Sure. And I bet they eat the children while sodomizing each other, too.

The "Conservative" cities are "Seperate but Equal," but don't do anything bad to the other minorities that live there. Sure. I can believe that. That's pretty much how it happened from the 1800s until 1964. Cases like Emment Till and Rosa Parks were just "misunderstandin's."

This was useless, insane ramblings of a bigoted writer. I want my thirty minutes back.



scifiwritir

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Reply #27 on: March 09, 2008, 01:48:43 PM
Hi all:

I've been checking out your responses to the story. Thanks for all the comments. The story is written in first person and so the narrator's words aren't exactly mine. I tend to think of Alternate history as science fiction, and that the science being played with is the science of "history"  --Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood comes to mind, although my little story is nowhere in that category. But I can understand how many people might feel that alternate history isn't really science fiction. I think it's part of the African-American SF mindset to play around with history.

As for me, I'm a conservative Christians and Jamaican-American. I am also a womanist, and a liberal.  One of my essays appears in Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of  gender and conformity a book written by a gay editor-friend of mine about the inability to fall neatly into any one political or social agenda.  The story won third prize in the Contemporary Western Fiction contest several years ago and is included in Jigsaw Nation, an anthology written during the last election whose premise was based on imagining the extremes, i.e. "What would happen if the blue states and red states seceded?" If the story seems to be anti any group, then I have failed and I am sorry. I really did try my best to show that all the "societal" groups people put themselves into were neither totally wrong nor totally right. I tried to show all the characters --including the black girl, Jody-- as being good but stressed individuals who were trying to compress themselves into a single "group." 

So the story isn't about race at all. Nor is it saying that people who lable themselves as conservatives and/or Christians are more likely to be racist than people who label themselves as liberals or atheists. I have met racists who are Christians and atheists, liberals and conservatives. I suppose I could have used any social issue. It's about the silliness of people labeling themselves.

In the end, a story is what it means to the listener. Conservative Christians have stated the story is anti-Christian. Then in a post later, a liberal will state that the story is too Christian. Some posters have stated that the issue of race turned them off the story, other posters have stated that the racial issue was handled badly and still others have said that the issue of race was important to them because of their own experience with racism, and it was good to see a SF story that dealt with something important to American minorities and to oppressed minorities all over the world. As I said, a story can only be judged by the listeners' own experiences. So far, I have found that Speculative Writers of color like this story because they see their own lives reflected in it. And that, in the long run, is what matters to me. -Carole



sirana

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Reply #28 on: March 09, 2008, 02:58:05 PM
Regardless of what I said about the story, I admire the courage of your coming into this forum and laying out your thoughts about your story, even though there was a fair share of critical comments.
So, Carole, welcome to the forums.
Deep down we are almost human ;-)



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #29 on: March 09, 2008, 02:59:03 PM

 The only true edict made against homosexuality in the bible is the one law in leviticus, but if you want to follow that, you should also give up cotton-wool blends, pork, shellfish, masturbation, and using public transportation.


So THAT'S why we don't have a decent public transit system in this country!  Because it's forbidden by God!   Whew, and I thought it was just because people would rather spend 100K on a new Hummer than pony up another 1% on sales tax.  I'll have to find that scripture for next time the subject comes up.  :)

... I suppose I could have used any social issue. It's about the silliness of people labeling themselves.

In the end, a story is what it means to the listener. Conservative Christians have stated the story is anti-Christian. Then in a post later, a liberal will state that the story is too Christian. ... So far, I have found that Speculative Writers of color like this story because they see their own lives reflected in it. And that, in the long run, is what matters to me. -Carole

Thanks for dropping by to share that, Carole.  You must be very brave and sturdy to wade through the sort of comments sure to be generated by a story based on these themes!

The snippets I quoted here seem to reinforce my interpretation of the story (at least in my mind), and it is a great relief to know that those were your intentions, and not just me projecting what I think onto your words.  Couching these ideas in a fictional context is a daunting challenge; I am constantly amazed when I see how badly my closest friends misinterpret things that I write in my blog, even when I am simply baldly stating my opinions.

But knowing that you were trying to create an unsavory salad of ideas doesn't mean those ideas won't still tick me off... it just means I'll feel more secure about not associating you (the author) with any of them in particular.  :)

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MattArnold

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Reply #30 on: March 09, 2008, 03:49:20 PM
The author bent over backwards to try to create imaginary unpleasant liberal people to balance out actual right wing attitudes from our past and present. The gay minister who hates the bible is supposed to be some Nazi hate monger who steals children, but it just didn't work for me. For starters, we actually have ministers and politicians campaigning against gay people, but this symbolically powerful "gay minister" who can convict you of thought crime is an utter fabrication.
This is why at least part of the story should have shown us Columbia first-hand. The progressives who support thought-crime legislation were off-scene characters. It would be difficult, but not impossible, for some authors to write their point of view convincingly, lacking personal knowledge of them.

I say "not impossible" because I have that knowledge. I volunteered at the Triangle Foundation to support an anti-bullying law called "Matt's Safe Schools Law" in Michigan, until I found out the legislation wouldn't crack down on physical violence in schools, it would crack down on free speech and enact homophobia as a thought-crime. I quit in disgust.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2008, 04:00:04 PM by MattArnold »



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #31 on: March 09, 2008, 08:51:23 PM
Hi all:

I've been checking out your responses to the story. Thanks for all the comments. The story is written in first person and so the narrator's words aren't exactly mine. I tend to think of Alternate history as science fiction, and that the science being played with is the science of "history"  --Steven Barnes' Lion's Blood comes to mind, although my little story is nowhere in that category. But I can understand how many people might feel that alternate history isn't really science fiction. I think it's part of the African-American SF mindset to play around with history.

As for me, I'm a conservative Christians and Jamaican-American. I am also a womanist, and a liberal.  One of my essays appears in Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of  gender and conformity a book written by a gay editor-friend of mine about the inability to fall neatly into any one political or social agenda.  The story won third prize in the Contemporary Western Fiction contest several years ago and is included in Jigsaw Nation, an anthology written during the last election whose premise was based on imagining the extremes, i.e. "What would happen if the blue states and red states seceded?" If the story seems to be anti any group, then I have failed and I am sorry. I really did try my best to show that all the "societal" groups people put themselves into were neither totally wrong nor totally right. I tried to show all the characters --including the black girl, Jody-- as being good but stressed individuals who were trying to compress themselves into a single "group." 

So the story isn't about race at all. Nor is it saying that people who lable themselves as conservatives and/or Christians are more likely to be racist than people who label themselves as liberals or atheists. I have met racists who are Christians and atheists, liberals and conservatives. I suppose I could have used any social issue. It's about the silliness of people labeling themselves.

In the end, a story is what it means to the listener. Conservative Christians have stated the story is anti-Christian. Then in a post later, a liberal will state that the story is too Christian. Some posters have stated that the issue of race turned them off the story, other posters have stated that the racial issue was handled badly and still others have said that the issue of race was important to them because of their own experience with racism, and it was good to see a SF story that dealt with something important to American minorities and to oppressed minorities all over the world. As I said, a story can only be judged by the listeners' own experiences. So far, I have found that Speculative Writers of color like this story because they see their own lives reflected in it. And that, in the long run, is what matters to me. -Carole

You know, after I posted, I thought, "You know, it is possible that she was writing as the character and it isn't exactly her own views." After that, I thought, "I hope not, because if it's found out otherwise, I'll look and feel like a tremendous asshole." So, thank you for making me look and feel like an asshole, Carole. ;)

I think it was mostly my own feelings and experiences (talking with and dealing and, in some cases, being related to) and some of the over-the-top ideas on both sides that made me...tremendously dislike the story.

I've had to deal with a lot of crap with fundamentalists, being agnostic, bi, and questioning everything they said. They often took themselves extremely seriously and would go to extremes to get things their way. So whenever I hear a voice like that, I kinda go into attack mode and assume that they believe everything they say.

Also, while the idea of the states succeeding is plausible (VERY plausible, possibly more so with each passing year), the idea that the "new Confederacy" would be "Seperate but Equal" and not to messed-up things to their "Seperate but Equal" bretheren is extremely unlikely. Like I mentioned in my first post, tell that to Emmett Till and countless other people who was dealt the same punishment. As for Columbia...liberals taking babies from religious parents? That itself essentially makes them the "evil" of the two sides, so the idea of the story not being biased thrown right out of the window.

I mean this with no disrespect, mind you. Like someone mentioned, it was pretty ballsy to post after essentially everyone ripped you a few dozen new arseholes. I'm just letting you know how it failed for me so that you know for possible future reference. Take from it what you want.



Iron Guidon

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Reply #32 on: March 09, 2008, 09:32:57 PM
Wrote this on my BlackBerry yesterday after listening.  Came back and read the posts.  Couldn't believe the hate I saw here.  Vitriolic hatred I do not want to engage.  I'm submitting as written yesterday. 


Steve, Carole,

Just finished listening to "Homecoming at the Borderland Cafe."  Superb commentary on present day politics. Maybe I liked it because it hit so many buttons close to home.

I'm a well educated, post-graduate degreed professional that has attended exclusive schools both here and in the United Kingdom. I also happen to be a committed, Bible-believing Christian from the unpopulated heartland. To muddy the waters yet further, I am married to a lovely woman of a different race and a totally different culture.

Who represents me? All sides of the "political" debate are shrill, strident. And none represent my views. At all.

Keep the stories coming. Thanks for your time.




scifiwritir

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Reply #33 on: March 10, 2008, 12:27:49 AM
I totally agree that I really should have spent some time in Columbia first. What can I say? I slipped up there. I wanted to show that all sides were pretty wrong in trying to think they could fit their families and lives into a perfect agenda. Love, etc, has no rules and won't fit into any category. Trust me, if I were writing the story again, I would probably A) make our fleeing lovers meet up with a gay priest (on the confederacy side) who helped them cross the border. What can I say? Messed up there. Lord knows I don't want to pick on any gay folks. Don't want to pick on anyone...except folks who feel they perfectly fit into any political or social party line.

As a writer, I must also add that we writers often get the greatest feedback for a story AFTER it is published. We work alone in our room and the folks who crit our unpublished stories "know" what we're aiming for so they don't see what strangers see. Thanks again. If this story ever gets lengthened you will see that it's about love...the power of love, the power of acknowledging that no one but no one fits neatly into any man-made system of labelling. It's also about stress.

As for the need for escapism, I understand it being African-American. But heck, if a story comes out a story comes out, and there isn't much to do. Most black spec-fic writers deal with racial issues. Nnedi, Octavia (Kindred, Parable of the talents), David Durham (Acacia), Nalo (Black Girl in the Ring).

Generally, I am not so blatant. I write about oppression, restriction, imperialism and governmental excess but I like to think that, like Emily Dickinson, I tell the truth but I tell it slant. In my story, Lingua Franca, which was published in Nalo Hopkinson's book So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction, I created a world of deaf people which was being intruded upon by mouth-speakers. It was about race but not so near as to make anyone who likes escapism too uncomfortable. I DO have my blatant moments, too, as in my novel Wind Follower, which is about religion and imperialism and which is anthropological Christian fantasy. So it's hard. I can only try to be me.

And being one's self in society is a very hard thing. Because if one is one thing society tells you you can't be another thing also because they don't coincide in the same individual. I hope I explained that well. Among my gay friends, for instance, are Gays for Life, Feminists for Life, Evangelical gays,....and the list goes on. My feminist friends are an odd lot also, as are my Christian friends. As are my Jewish friends. But the world tells us we cannot be christian conservative and liberal at the same time. Or that we cannot be black and x and y at the same time.   I suspect that if everyone here were to examine themselves and their friends they would realize they themselves don't follow any strict political party line because no one is a cookie-cutter. That was what Mattilda's book, Nobody Passes: Rejecting the rules of gender and identity was about.

Again, some writers are less perfect than others. I did my best with the little talent God has blessed me with. The story wasn't perfect but it was heartfelt and in the end, the main character -- with a little help from an ally (because allies are always important if one is to truly be one's self) decide to be himself. It's all one can ask for. Thanks again so much for discussing my story. I really appreciate it and God bless you. -Carole

 



bad_andy

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Reply #34 on: March 10, 2008, 03:27:00 AM
Carole,

I appreciate the time you took to write to us and discuss the story further. If I'd met more people like you when I was a Christian I might not have become the happy Atheist I am today. :) I'm going to see if I can find that story you wrote about the planet of deaf people the next time I hit the bookstore. It sounds like a pretty intriguing premise. (...or if it hasn't already, a future episode of EP.) ;) You make some really interesting points discussing your goals for the story. I just wish more of them had ended up in the piece.

I'm relieved to hear that you were writing in character. The reason I think that parts of the story struck a nerve with me was the way some of the buzzwords hit home. The discussion of Columbia reminded me of things I heard coming out of the AM radio one of my coworkers used to have going constantly in his office as Glenn Beck, Dr. Laura and Rush kept him company throughout his day. If you were trying to hit that tone by the way the Midwesterners thought and talked, then you definitely nailed it. I did think that putting the god-fearing white Secessionists in middle America was an interesting choice as I live in the Midwest now and I've actually heard certain racial epithets more often in casual conversation here than when I lived in the South.

The problem with Columbia was that it reminded me of some of the misconceptions I repeatedly run into as an out Atheist. I've met a lot of very nice people who don't believe in God and don't really care what you believe as long as you don't try to force them to participate in it. Yet, Atheists are still a fairly reviled minority in this country. The gay minister and the baby snatching liberals sounded like something right out of AM talk radio and I guess I'm just tired of hearing that kind of thing. I'm active on the forums at RichardDawkins.net and I have yet to interact with one person who wants to outlaw religion or take children from religious parents.

(As an aside, I saw a round-table discussion between the four "New Atheists" where the question came up, in effect, "So, do we actually want religion to go away entirely?" None of them, not one, wanted to completely get rid of religion even if they had to power to do so. Daniel Dennett actually advocates not only teaching about religion in schools, he wants to see a comprehensive and mandatory curriculum developed to educate kids about all of the major religions. That way they'll have the context to understand a driving force behind so many world events. Harris' major argument is just that Bronze-Age thinking and 21st century weapons technology are a dangerous combination. I can think of plenty of Christians and Sci Fi authors that feel the same way. Hitchens and Dawkins don't think it's even possible to understand huge chunks of Western Lit without some familiarity with scripture. Safe to say, I don't think we have to worry about the Bible going anywhere any time soon.)

So when Stephen Eley identified you as a Christian author and then the story pulled out the scary version of what the liberals will do when they get their own country, I jumped to the conclusion that you were trying to make a much different point than you were trying to make. I'm glad I was wrong about my assumption. I think I'd be more interested in a longer and more nuanced version of the story. Humanizing the Columbians would do a lot to solve the apparent bias in what we heard. I'm still not sure if I could get past the whole "they're out to take your guns, your God and your kids" fantasy, but I think at least doing that much would broaden the appeal to a wider audience.

Good luck with your future writing.  :)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2008, 06:34:12 AM by bad_andy »



birdless

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Reply #35 on: March 10, 2008, 04:26:46 PM
I thought this story might engender a long string of posts. At first, I was a little frustrated at how many pages of post I was going to have to read before I posted, but by the end of it all, I was glad I hadn't posted earlier.

After all that I've read, though, I am struggling with knowing how to respond, but feel compelled to post something. So I'm just gonna try to take the ideas as they come (which is difficult, as they're all tumbling around at once).

I, too, am a Christian. When I heard Steve's intro, I was really glad that he was going to give this author and her views a chance.

When I heard the story, I had to keep reminding myself that these were her characters' voice, and not necessarily her voice. Plenty in the story made me angry. It was especially the gay pastor that was described in a "you know how they are" way that made me cringe the most. Please know that not all Christians are racists, homophobes or "everybody-else-haters." I do understand how this stereotype was developed, though. The only thing I can say about that is there is a lot of ignorance on the part of the people who fostered this stereotype, and that they had/have a very incomplete knowledge/understanding of the Bible and have taken a lot out of context. The same can be said of nonbelievers, though (like those who believe Paul was a "sexist and racist asshole" (Sorry, DVG, I really don't like to point people out, but this makes no sense in context of what Paul wrote, and, because of your eloquence (<- that's not sarcasm) and background, I don't want people who don't know for themselves to take what you say on this matter as fact)).

Oh, I'm also a Mississippian. The views expressed by the people in this story seem antiquated to me, but maybe I'm just naive (and i really, honestly, suspect that there is some validity to this). Generally speaking, people seem to keep wanting to keep us (the South in general, and Mississippi specifically) in the 1950s and 1960s, but the South has progressed in their stupid and intolerant views on race (I know this story was set in Wyoming, but even someone said they felt like the author had just turned the country on it's side to find the "dividing line" (that's a pathetic paraphrase on my part–my apologies to whoever posted that, but I don't want to look for the quote)). Honestly, it feels like I've read in the news about more racial violence and hatred in NY and LA. I'm speaking for the entire South, here, and unfairly so, perhaps, but, doggone it, we're tired of being pointed at as the standard of racial intolerance and bigotry when it seems like there's as much or more in some of the other 37 states. It was indeed fair to point at us for those reasons 50 years ago... even 25-30 years ago, but it feels like a lot has happened in the last quarter century in the way of mind-sets.

Ah.... I probably shouldn't have even posted. Most of what I've done is try to defend my beliefs and my region. So my apologies.

But as for the story, the characters were really confusing to me. I couldn't figure out what they believed or what their motivations were (except for the moms). And I had a hard time visualizing the setting (the cafe, not the two cultures). Mainly, though, it wasn't what I would consider sci-fi. Oookay, yeah, I guess social science is still science, it's just not what I watch/listen to/read SF for. But I'm fine with getting something like this from Escape Pod every once in a while. It's unexpected, but not abhorred.



CGFxColONeill

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Reply #36 on: March 10, 2008, 05:13:56 PM
Hey everybody. Long time listener, first time caller. I finally decided to check out the discussion forum, because I figured the feedback would be intense. I've been listening to Escape Pod for two years and this is the first episode I almost quit halfway through because I was genuinely annoyed by *both* the writing and the message the author wanted to convey. For the record, I was raised as an evangelical Christian in the southern United States. I'm familiar with small towns, segregation, secession, and right wing christianity from a personal perspective.

I also almost quit but I kept hoping for a payoff at the end of the story.  I definitely did not get what I was hoping for
I will not argue the point about it was or was not SF we have had the conversation on these forums before
I felt that the story was overly preachy and was well described earlier as about as subtle as an atomic bomb
The story while containing interesting subject matter was not something I would want to hear again on EP
if I want to get beaten over the head with the moral point of the story I can just go here http://librivox.org/newcatalog/search.php?title=Aesop&author=&status=all&action=Search

however that is not the kind of thing I want for entertainment

I, too, am a Christian. When I heard Steve's intro, I was really glad that he was going to give this author and her views a chance.

When I heard the story, I had to keep reminding myself that these were her characters' voice, and not necessarily her voice. Plenty in the story made me angry. It was especially the gay pastor that was described in a "you know how they are" way that made me cringe the most. Please know that not all Christians are racists, homophobes or "everybody-else-haters." I do understand how this stereotype was developed, though. The only thing I can say about that is there is a lot of ignorance on the part of the people who fostered this stereotype, and that they had/have a very incomplete knowledge/understanding of the Bible and have taken a lot out of context. The same can be said of nonbelievers, though (like those who believe Paul was a "sexist and racist asshole" (Sorry, DVG, I really don't like to point people out, but this makes no sense in context of what Paul wrote, and, because of your eloquence (<- that's not sarcasm) and background, I don't want people who don't know for themselves to take what you say on this matter as fact)).

Oh, I'm also a Mississippian. The views expressed by the people in this story seem antiquated to me, but maybe I'm just naive (and i really, honestly, suspect that there is some validity to this).


 you said some things in here that I was trying to say but did it better than I could good job

Overconfidence - Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you.

I am not sure if Life is passing me by or running me over


melopoiea

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Reply #37 on: March 10, 2008, 06:58:48 PM
I've read another story by Ms. McDonnell, "Lingua Franca", in the collection _So Long Been Dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy_, and loved it to bits for its vivid setting and interesting main character, whatever its flaws. But "Homecoming at the Borderlands Cafe" just doesn't have the strength of that other piece for me, and its not just the unappetizing (and unconvincing) "Christian victim" trope either. Full disclosure, I'm liberal (or perhaps a radical....I'm not sure where the line falls) and I'm not a Christian, although I am a person who subscribes to a specific organized religion which I'm working on converting to at the moment. But the thing that broke this story for me, besides the unrealistic setting (the south would never succeed in breaking away nowadays) was the unbelievably wimpy main character, as well as the unbearably slow opening. I know I was supposed to learn something from hearing the point of view of the racist family members of the protagonist, but I really didn't. They just sounded dumb; I couldn't understand them, even when they were presented in a way that encouraged me to try.

I'm ok with losing the futuristic trappings; frankly I'm a person who really loves socially aware sf, and like to read stories written from a diversity of perspectives--straight white boys+shiny toys gets kinda tired after a while. Part of the reason I like Escape Pod is because its more than that.

I think this was a worthwhile attempt by both the author and Mr. Eley, but I didn't like it.

Try again, please? I really mean it. Egads, if we got "Lingua Franca" on here the forums would light up for a MONTH.



Liminal

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Reply #38 on: March 10, 2008, 07:58:57 PM
What’s that old adage: show don’t tell. The best parts of this story were the opening lines, the picture that was evoked of the car, the snow, a couple resisting each other’s desires.

Then it all went downhill and, rather than present complex and interesting characters, the story relies on stereotypes, cliches, and a fatuous divide between liberalism and religion that demonstrates no real understanding of the historical or contemporary intersections between the two.

Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness? - Artemus Ward


Biscuit

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Reply #39 on: March 10, 2008, 09:36:15 PM
I also almost quit but I kept hoping for a payoff at the end of the story.  I definitely did not get what I was hoping for

Same feeling here.

I'd hope I'm an intelligent human being, willing to take on any discussion (and it has been interesting in this thread)...but all I could feel mid-way through this story was that my head was ready to asplode.

The Science Fiction of any real or fiction Them Versus Us discussion is that I BEG the interstellar emptiness every day to send me a higher thinking being to take me away from the quagmire that is the human condition. We're WAY to stuck on this bullshit to make any decent steps in our evolution.


Nobilis

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Reply #40 on: March 11, 2008, 12:13:17 AM
This kind of discussion is exactly why I hope we don't get more of this kind of fiction on EP.  Very few people are talking about the story anymore.



Jason

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Reply #41 on: March 11, 2008, 05:51:28 AM
Carol & Steve,

If we're talking this much, you obviously did something right. :p

Personally I kinda enjoyed it; not a favorite, but I liked that we can look at ourselves from a different point of view.



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #42 on: March 11, 2008, 06:55:16 AM
I totally agree that I really should have spent some time in Columbia first. What can I say? I slipped up there. I wanted to show that all sides were pretty wrong in trying to think they could fit their families and lives into a perfect agenda. Love, etc, has no rules and won't fit into any category. Trust me, if I were writing the story again, I would probably A) make our fleeing lovers meet up with a gay priest (on the confederacy side) who helped them cross the border. What can I say? Messed up there. Lord knows I don't want to pick on any gay folks. Don't want to pick on anyone...except folks who feel they perfectly fit into any political or social party line.

As a writer, I must also add that we writers often get the greatest feedback for a story AFTER it is published. We work alone in our room and the folks who crit our unpublished stories "know" what we're aiming for so they don't see what strangers see. Thanks again. If this story ever gets lengthened you will see that it's about love...the power of love, the power of acknowledging that no one but no one fits neatly into any man-made system of labelling. It's also about stress.

As for the need for escapism, I understand it being African-American. But heck, if a story comes out a story comes out, and there isn't much to do. Most black spec-fic writers deal with racial issues. Nnedi, Octavia (Kindred, Parable of the talents), David Durham (Acacia), Nalo (Black Girl in the Ring).

Generally, I am not so blatant. I write about oppression, restriction, imperialism and governmental excess but I like to think that, like Emily Dickinson, I tell the truth but I tell it slant. In my story, Lingua Franca, which was published in Nalo Hopkinson's book So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction, I created a world of deaf people which was being intruded upon by mouth-speakers. It was about race but not so near as to make anyone who likes escapism too uncomfortable. I DO have my blatant moments, too, as in my novel Wind Follower, which is about religion and imperialism and which is anthropological Christian fantasy. So it's hard. I can only try to be me.

And being one's self in society is a very hard thing. Because if one is one thing society tells you you can't be another thing also because they don't coincide in the same individual. I hope I explained that well. Among my gay friends, for instance, are Gays for Life, Feminists for Life, Evangelical gays,....and the list goes on. My feminist friends are an odd lot also, as are my Christian friends. As are my Jewish friends. But the world tells us we cannot be christian conservative and liberal at the same time. Or that we cannot be black and x and y at the same time.   I suspect that if everyone here were to examine themselves and their friends they would realize they themselves don't follow any strict political party line because no one is a cookie-cutter. That was what Mattilda's book, Nobody Passes: Rejecting the rules of gender and identity was about.

Again, some writers are less perfect than others. I did my best with the little talent God has blessed me with. The story wasn't perfect but it was heartfelt and in the end, the main character -- with a little help from an ally (because allies are always important if one is to truly be one's self) decide to be himself. It's all one can ask for. Thanks again so much for discussing my story. I really appreciate it and God bless you. -Carole

Being a writer myself, I know the feeling of looking back at one of my stories and thinking, "God, I should have done that differently," so I can feel your pain there.

I can definately agree with your perspective on those societal and political squares and people trying to fit in them. I think Chris Rock said it best on the political lines, "Anyone who knows what to say before they even hear the issue is a f**king fool."

All and all, at least you wrote something that inspired civil dialogue, and there definately isn't no problem in that. ;D



gelee

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Reply #43 on: March 11, 2008, 12:26:50 PM
I don't think I have much to add.  I'm not surprised at all to see this one generating a ton of discussion.  Lots of sensitive issues in there.
I don't have any problems with this story showing up on EP.  It's certain more "Spec Fic" than "Sci Fic", but I think that underlying question of "What If?" is at the heart of all SF (and maybe fantasy fic, too).
I'll give the writer credit for tackling a touchy subject.  I think this was an honest attempt at showing what things might be like if the extremists in the US, both right and left wing, got there wish: two seperate states, run by their respective ideologies.
Unfortuanately, I just don't think the story was very good.  I think this is a good example of what happens when a writer tries so hard to make a point that the story suffers.  The characters felt shallow and two-dimensional.
I also had to scratch my head a bit at the narrator.  How did this guy find himself moved to propose to a non-white woman, while still framing his ideas in the context "those touchy minority women"?  Seems that the two positions would be mutually exclusive.



Swamp

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Reply #44 on: March 11, 2008, 12:55:08 PM
Unfortuanately, I just don't think the story was very good.  I think this is a good example of what happens when a writer tries so hard to make a point that the story suffers. 

I completely agree.  I am convinced, by my own experience as well as reading other stories, that simply trying to make a political or religious point, or trying to be provocative is a bad genesis for any story.  Even if you try to be even handed or express a point you don't personally share.  There are ways to make a point that are less blatant and more effective.  I am interested in reading more by the author, though.

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Biscuit

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Reply #45 on: March 11, 2008, 08:15:27 PM
I also had to scratch my head a bit at the narrator.  How did this guy find himself moved to propose to a non-white woman, while still framing his ideas in the context "those touchy minority women"?  Seems that the two positions would be mutually exclusive.

I believe the author was trying to get across the idea that not everything is as clear cut as being liberal or conservative, religious or aethiest, black or white. While the narrator resented his mother for the interference in his inter-racial relationship, he still had an entire life time of indoctrination and family politics to fight against - which is why he never verbally told her to stuff it.


ElSenorDelFuego

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Reply #46 on: March 12, 2008, 03:18:47 AM
Hi all, I'm new to the forums here but not to Escapepod. love what Steve is doing.

 Its been really interesting to read all the backlog posts to work up to this point, and I'm thinking I will have to jump back and read some of the comments left on other stories I love from Escapepods past. I  guess I should say firstly that I really enjoyed the story. I'm not in any way try to advocate the story being a literary masterpiece of pacing, character progression or narrative style. I will however say that I genuinely liked the story. I agree with a large portion of those who pointed out problems the story had, but none the less the story really resonated with me. the story reached me so much I actually cried, this can be a problem for a six foot, two hundred pound construction worker on his way to work. An incident like that can lead to puffed chest disputes among men ranging from arm punches to the level of territory disputes between warring tribes of baboons. The reason the story got to me so much is simple, I am young, (only 20) am Hispanic (and an immigrant) and have a white girlfriend who, I hope one day will become my wife. I also live in a small town "behind the redwood curtain" in northern California.

despite being in California my town has a good sized chunk of bigoted racist people living here.
I don't think i have to point out a lot of them are also very religious. I know it sounds like I am accusing the religious community of being racist, but i know from experience that this same community has some of the warmest most understanding people in it. While in other communities with no such stereotypical characteristics in our collective conscience i have found some of the worst racist's in my life. I guess I found this story so appealing because i have seen so much of this story in my own life, from the general racism of the mother which to me exemplifies the general racism that can exist in a otherwise polite society, (my mother was once turn down for a loan at a well respected bank for nothing other than being a Mexican immigrant, I can claim this confidently as she had then and still now has perfect credit) to the directed disgust toward interracial couples shown by the crowd in the cafe. (I have always worried that people would treat my girlfriend different or even with hostility because of our relationship, not because of abstract accounts but because i have seen it myself)

The story was for me very much about my life as I try to make my way in the world, and I saw many things in the story that to me were scary because they were plausible, including the baby stealing liberals. Say what you will but i could see this happening and I happen to be a liberal, and I include the scary conservative state in plausible category. A society based on a radical form of any idealism should be feared no matter what the ideals are. To me the best SF is not the far off story about space wars, but the SF that hits uncomfortably close to home. That makes you think more and harder about life than space cadets could in my opinion.

Oh and Steve, keep em coming!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2008, 03:21:06 AM by ElSenorDelFuego »



CGFxColONeill

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Reply #47 on: March 12, 2008, 04:25:10 AM
The story was for me very much about my life as I try to make my way in the world, and I saw many things in the story that to me were scary because they were plausible, including the baby stealing liberals. Say what you will but i could see this happening and I happen to be a liberal, and I include the scary conservative state in plausible category. A society based on a radical form of any idealism should be feared no matter what the ideals are. To me the best SF is not the far off story about space wars, but the SF that hits uncomfortably close to home. That makes you think more and harder about life than space cadets could in my opinion.
Oh and Steve, keep em coming!

First off welcome to the forum
second I agree about the radical idealism ( best real world example I can think of is the Nazis in WW2) it just does not work
I disagree that SF has to be like this in fact I would not object to this story being called a deviation away from SF as an experiment for EP one which I hope does not get repeated soon b/c it was not entertainment ( not that it was a bad story but definitely not high not the entertainment scale).  That has its place but I listen to EP for entertainment.

looking forward to this Thursday Steve

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ElSenorDelFuego

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Reply #48 on: March 12, 2008, 04:54:29 AM
Before i say anything, i have to say i LOVE your name/icon

*ahem*

I disagree that SF has to be like this in fact I would not object to this story being called a deviation away from SF as an experiment for EP one which I hope does not get repeated soon b/c it was not entertainment ( not that it was a bad story but definitely not high not the entertainment scale).  That has its place but I listen to EP for entertainment.
point taken, but I am thinking i gave you the wrong impression with this comment:

To me the best SF is not the far off story about space wars, but the SF that hits uncomfortably close to home. That makes you think more and harder about life than space cadets could in my opinion.

I should say that while I enjoy most of all the SF that hits so close to home. I don't think by any means that it has to be like that (In fact is shouldent, or SF would have no flavor),and I agree with you that EP is mostly about entertainment.  however for me personally even when the SF is so painfully close to home, as this piece was for me, it was still entertaining for me. I also believe SF is a genre of speculation, and that leads to reflection. this in turn means if a story hits us close to home, would that not lead to reflection that much faster? or more intensely? for me at least that is true.



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Reply #49 on: March 12, 2008, 01:30:50 PM
(my mother was once turn down for a loan at a well respected bank for nothing other than being a Mexican immigrant, I can claim this confidently as she had then and still now has perfect credit)

I hate to derail the thread temporarily but I've been in banking for 20 years and comments like this rile me.  There are several factors that go in to loan underwriting, not just credit rating/scores.  I find it hard to believe that a "respected" bank would allow a loan officer to make racist decisions, and loan denials are usually reviewed by a manager to make sure a proper decision was made.  A bank's loans and loan denials are gone over by state or federal (depending on the bank's charter) examiners as they are looking for lending issues like this.  Banks are also rated on the Community Investment Act, which grades their community involvement, lending to lower/moderate income individuals, and home/business improvement programs in their lending area.   Sure, your mother may have been the victim of a racist loan officer and if she was that sucks.  I just wanted to point out that there is more behind loan decisions that meet the eye. 

Back to the cafe...........

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan