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Author Topic: EP148: Homecoming at the Borderlands Café  (Read 41594 times)
Nobilis
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« Reply #40 on: March 10, 2008, 07:13:17 PM »

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.
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Jason
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« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2008, 12:51:28 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.
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DarkKnightJRK
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« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2008, 01:55:16 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 We work alone in our room and the folks who crit our unpublished stories "know" what we're aiming for so they don't see what strangers see.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. Grin
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gelee
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« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2008, 07:26:50 AM »

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.
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Swamp
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« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2008, 07:55:08 AM »

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, 03:15:27 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.
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ElSenorDelFuego
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« Reply #46 on: March 11, 2008, 10:18:47 PM »

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 11, 2008, 10:21:06 PM by ElSenorDelFuego » Logged
CGFxColONeill
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« Reply #47 on: March 11, 2008, 11:25:10 PM »

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 11, 2008, 11:54:29 PM »

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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Darwinist
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« Reply #49 on: March 12, 2008, 08:30:50 AM »

(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...........
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birdless
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« Reply #50 on: March 12, 2008, 09:15:28 AM »

That has its place but I listen to EP for entertainment.
Oh, good! That's a relief. I'm glad I'm not the only one! After spending a little time as I have here (admittedly, not much at all, yet), I sometimes feel like it would be regarded as banal to simply listen for entertainment's sake. I mean, sure, if we get something out of it that we can take with us, all the better, but my main motivation for listening to EP (and eventually PC) is entertainment. And I agree. I just didn't find this story entertaining. Like I said in an earlier post, it almost seemed divisive rather than unifying, but I think TAD helped turn that around a little.
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ElSenorDelFuego
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« Reply #51 on: March 12, 2008, 12:45:24 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.

Honestly enough i am so glad that pissed you off. In my original write up of my first post i went into greater detail but i cut it down to that comment because it felt to greatly like a tangent to me, but since you brought it up will will expand on the story. At the time my mother was applying for the loan she had perfect credit like i said, she had a good steady job and was married (now divorced) to my stepfather (who is white Btw) who himself has good credit. she went into the bank and the loan officer treated her suspiciously front the start, even outright badly. after being told she could not have a loan my stepfather went into the bank and asked the teller to speak to the bank manager. telling him what happened he wanted to know from him if they should have qualified for the loan. according to the manager they not only qualified for the amount asked for but more. the manger himself was nothing but polite understanding and truthful to him and told him that there was no reason to deny my mother the loan. As far as i know the loan officer made the call herself that mother could not or would not make the loan payment merely based on her race. I guess i should have mentioned that we got the loan from them in the end, and the bank itself did not deny us the loan but the loan officer did. however I missed that when i reedited my post and i apologize for that. However that the part of my post having riled you so tells me that in an incident similar to this one you would make sure that everything was in order when you receive a complaint. people like you are what makes the system stay fair. thanks for your concern and comment though!

Oh BTW, we haven't seen that loan officer since at the bank, and my step dad banks there regularly, and the manager stills say hi when he is there.
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CGFxColONeill
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« Reply #52 on: March 12, 2008, 01:15:35 PM »

Before i say anything, i have to say i LOVE your name/icon

*ahem*

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.

cool glad you like it lol

thanks for clarifying the point
That has its place but I listen to EP for entertainment.
Oh, good! That's a relief. I'm glad I'm not the only one! After spending a little time as I have here (admittedly, not much at all, yet), I sometimes feel like it would be regarded as banal to simply listen for entertainment's sake. I mean, sure, if we get something out of it that we can take with us, all the better, but my main motivation for listening to EP (and eventually PC) is entertainment. And I agree. I just didn't find this story entertaining. Like I said in an earlier post, it almost seemed divisive rather than unifying, but I think TAD helped turn that around a little.


I am also glad I was not the only one that has my motivations in entertainment.  I have taken  some things away from some of the episodes but ya that is not something I look for in entertainment
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« Reply #53 on: March 12, 2008, 01:18:51 PM »

I think the majority of us read/listen for entertainment (primarily).  However, if a story hits both the entertainment factor and is provocative, it's a double bonus.  Whether or not this story did either or both those things still seems to be up for debate Smiley
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #54 on: March 12, 2008, 04:07:18 PM »

[Moderator attitude]

Man, I'm not around for a little while a the place explodes. 

To the people who came here looking to talk about the story: I'm sorry I'm late splitting this one off.

To those I split off:  Couldn't one of you decide to start your own thread or send me a PM to let me know what was hitting the fan? 

It was a sloppy split, because it came so late.  If the post was mostly a liberal/conservative rant, it got split. Even if it had comments about the story

Anyway if you want to contribute to my headache, go here.  If you want to talk about the story, you're in the right place.  If you want to talk about the banking thing, keep your bank comments seperate from your story comments.  The banking thing is a couple posts away from getting split off too.

[/Moderator attitude]
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Darwinist
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« Reply #55 on: March 12, 2008, 04:12:42 PM »

If you want to talk about the banking thing, keep your bank comments seperate from your story comments.  The banking thing is a couple posts away from getting split off too.

[/Moderator attitude]

The banking thing was handled via personal message.  Case closed. 
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #56 on: March 12, 2008, 05:25:45 PM »

Wow. Great episode Steve!
My thoughts on the story are neither here nor there, but over all I think this was one of the best EPs you've put together if only for the feedback it's generated. Tossing in my own to cents:
It sounds like you're doing something different with the audio, your voice sounds a little distant, and did you change up the computer voice at the beginning? I like the new accent too.
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deflective
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« Reply #57 on: March 12, 2008, 09:00:24 PM »

the message i took was a relatively heavy handed 'live the change you want to see.' others will take courage from your example, within minutes apparently.

the attempt was respectable but the story took too many shortcuts to really address the issues. a good example is the way it tried to take a neutral stance by pissing everyone off equally. effective, maybe, but if this thread is any indication it also distracts.

i liked the protagonist's voice, seemed plausible for someone conflicted between upbringing and personal opinion but his last actions, were thoughtlessly cruel (if not necessarily out of character). greeting the couple that way then making a controversial announcement; there's no way that his mother doesn't blame them for her sons decision.

as if their life wasn't going to be hard enough now the community has a justification to try to alienate & ostracize.

If the post was mostly a liberal/conservative rant, it got split. Even if it had comments about the story

this is another thread where i would have really appreciated a link to the new thread at the beginning of the original one.
knowing that it's a split thread makes it easier to make sense of cryptic posts and makes sure that i post to the one appropriate for my comment.

is there any way that i can convince you to do this Russell?
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2008, 09:09:26 PM »

I think the majority of us read/listen for entertainment (primarily).  However, if a story hits both the entertainment factor and is provocative, it's a double bonus.  Whether or not this story did either or both those things still seems to be up for debate Smiley

Everything I do is for entertainment... unfortunately for those around me, my idea of entertainment is a little like what they think of as work.  For example, diagramming sentences brings me hours of hilarious fun... but I digress.


Sorry to make your job harder, Russell... I, too, took the bulk of it to personal message, so only Mr. Tweedy would have to suffer my questions.  Now only Mr. Tweedy has to see how TRULY sorry I am.  Smiley
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« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2008, 10:15:27 PM »

I really liked this story.  I was at first taken aback that it was even on escape pod, and I think it shows some considerable sand for Mr. Eley to present it.  He must have know it was going to rattle some cages, but did it anyway.  Stylistically, I think it was a good middle of the road "what if?" story.  But what really got me, what really cinched it for me, was that the "Union" (Columbia, what have you) was NOT portrayed as bastion of freedom, tolerance, love and rainbows.  The simple fact that so many people on here are shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone thinks "liberals" aren't the higher beings of love/tolerance shows how powerful this story was.  I'm sure many of you "free thinkers" would cheer if it was another story about how closed minded Christians are, and in the end they get shown up for the monsters they are by a gay robot.  But let someone imply that lefties aren't always on the side of right, and you cry foul.  Good SF is the SF that challenges your world view, no matter what that world view is.
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