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Author Topic: EP149: Union Dues: All That We Leave Behind  (Read 15255 times)
Jim
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« on: March 14, 2008, 10:33:31 AM »

EP149: Union Dues - All That We Leave Behind
By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Stephen Eley.

If I just lay here they will get tired and leave. They can’t hurt me all that much; my body is too hard now, too strong. But I can’t let on that their kicks and punches don’t bother me or who knows what they’ll do next. So I’ll lay here, curled up in the grass like some lump of igneous rock cast from a far away volcano.

“You fat assed son of a bitch! Talk to Loreen again and I’ll kill you! You understand me? I’ll beat your fat lazy ass to death!”

I bet his foot is starting to ache. My stomach is big, but it’s not soft. Not anymore. Not since last month when the change happened. We don’t have a lot of money so my wardrobe is still designed for a three hundred pound teenager, the kind with an almost unnatural love for pizza and potato chips. I still sort of look the same. But I am different, I can feel it. The rolls of flab that once encircled my belly and back are nearly gone, replaced by rippling muscle. My arms and legs are like tree trunks. I could rip Scott’s arms and legs off and beat his torso like a kettledrum. Well, if I wasn’t terrified.


Rated R. Contains profanity and violence.

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« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 12:23:35 PM by Russell Nash » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2008, 11:22:46 AM »

This might be my favorite Union Dues episode.  Very well done, Jeff.  I loved every second of it.
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2008, 12:25:28 PM »

Yay! Union Dues!

And, for once, it isn't entirely depressing! Awesome!
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2008, 12:53:33 PM »

Given that I haven't yet gone back and listened to/read any UD besides "Send in the Clowns", my picture of the Union might be a little darker... but I thought that the Union would quietly assist Tim's mom on her way.

I have to say, I liked Dani Cutler's reading of Megaton better than Steve's.  I almost think this one could've been played straight, with only a minor inflection, rather than the I AM MEGATON voice.

As a genesis story, this wasn't half-bad, but it didn't stand out to me as amazing.  It's kind of like when a comic series takes a short detour to focus on one character -- I haven't read comics in a while (at least, not ones I can easily find online and for free), so I can't really compare it.  I guess the closest analogue might be the ST:TNG episode "Lower Decks", where they focused more on the four ensigns than the main characters.

The roundness of Tim as a character I don't think made up for the flatness of Scott, and I think we should've gotten a little more thought before he told Loreen to bring Scott out of the store with her.

Really, the whole thing in the drugstore kind of bothered me.  It made me think too much -- has Tim experienced enough violence to not lose his lunch when he rips off the dude's fingers?  But more than that, I think there might have been a more internal way for Tim to come to terms with his abilities than having to use them like that.

I don't know... I guess I came away mixed on this one.  Not bad, not awesome.  I liked "Clowns" better.  Maybe it was the title; with a title like that, I kind of expected a little more.
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2008, 03:05:31 PM »

It was good, and certainly made a long bus ride quicker.

I wished the kid's age was mentioned earlier, I was guessing wildly from 11-14 until it turned out he was 16.

Yay! Union Dues!

I resemble that remark.
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« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2008, 03:22:01 PM »

Yet another winner from Mr. DeRego.  I have enjoyed all the Union Dues stories, and this one is no different.  The only thing I had a bit of a problem with were how Tim kept cowering when Scott beat him up. Maybe it's just me, but if someone handed me superpowers and some bully kept picking on me, that would be one very sorry bully.

Someone else mentioned this, but it bears examining: how many others who have read Mur's Playing for Keeps had to mentally put this story outside her universe? Smiley  I have to say that between Union Dues, Playing for Keeps and Matthew Wayne Selznick's Brave Men Run, it's sometimes hard to remember which superheroes are which.

Has Mr. DeRego told us, yet, how the supers came into being?
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Jim
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« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 07:46:17 PM »

I recently listened to the audiobook of Austin Grossman's novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, in addition to Playing For Keeps, so I'm so loaded up on superhero literature I can hardly tell which end is up.
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2008, 05:43:27 PM »

Well.

This is the first Union Dues story I've enjoyed at all. Granted, so far I've only heard Send In The Clowns (not even sure I actually listened to the end) and Iron Bars And The Glass Jaw(meh).

Whatever. I guess that it's because the Union Dues superheros are too self-concious about being superheros (or something like that) and it disengages me from the story. Oddly enough, I did like The Incredibles, and I'm not sure why the Union Dues stories are so different. This story didn't have so many full-fledged superheros doing super things, and was much easier to take.

I put it in maybe the Top 11 to 20 of my favourite EP episodes.
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2008, 06:59:59 PM »

Haven't listened.
Not reading the flavor text.
Drooling in antici...(say it)..pation!
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2008, 10:13:32 PM »

My favorite UD yet.
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2008, 10:27:40 PM »

The thing about the 'Union Dues' series is that it doesn't bring anything new or exciting to the table. I do enjoy them, but as heroic literature they're very flat and kind of dull slices of life in a larger tapestry.

The 'Union Dues' World is simply an average comic book world and it doesn't do anything to get me excited. It's Town Talk bread compared to Wonder bread. Depending on the price, I could go either way.

For recent good comic book stories, I cannot stress how good the Green Lantern series has been for the last two years. From the relaunch it has been a long build up to a true rival corps and the ensuing war between them. The war is now over, but now the Green Lantern Corps is dealing with the aftermath. More corps are sprouting up everyday and the story is building off these smaller ones.

I hope 'Union Dues' does the same. As it seems now, 'Union Dues' is a bunch of loose threads at the Blue Thread factory.
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« Reply #11 on: March 16, 2008, 01:57:49 AM »

First one of the Union that I've actually listened too--I kinda feared that I would have to find all of them first if they were a serial so I wouldn't get lost, but I figured, "What the hell" and played it.

Wasn't too bad. The story was kinda predictable--if you're a regular comic nut like me, you've probably read a similar story at least three or four times in a year at best--but it was well-written and had enough little twists to keep me interested. Kinda hard to imagine that messing up the robbers like that wouldn't have messed Tim up a bit, but other then that, it was definately not an half-hour wasted.

Whiskey about GL: I read Rebirth and it pissed me off enough how they got Jordan back to make me not want to read it--I was hoping for a redemption story about Hal trying to win the hearts and minds and make up for his wrong-doings as Paralax, but I intead got a cop-out that "a Yellow Fear Demon made me do it!" But I digress. I liked Kyle (and Guy) better anyway--Hal was only interesting to me when he was Paralax or The Spectre.
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« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2008, 09:27:34 AM »

I enjoyed this UD episode very much, and hope we will keep seeing UD episodes.

I thought that the predictable moment when the protagonist is forced to reveal his powers fell a bit flat.  I realize that in a short format there is limited time for character development, but using the only character that receives any positive attention as the hostage was a bit too much straight forward comic book.
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« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2008, 09:56:26 AM »

I'm not at all in to the superhero genre but I've listened to all the Union Dues stories and have liked them.  I would guess that going forward that they will be Podcastle fare. 
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« Reply #14 on: March 16, 2008, 10:11:05 AM »

I'm not at all in to the superhero genre but I've listened to all the Union Dues stories and have liked them.  I would guess that going forward that they will be Podcastle fare. 

No, Union Dues will stay on Escape Pod by virtue of tradition.  Other superhero stories might or might not.  We'll also continue to make offers on all Hugo nominees whether they're SF or fantasy, and may continue to run Mur Lafferty Christmas stories regardless of genre.

We are a science fiction market now, but I don't promise total consistency.  Escape Pod subscribes to Damon Knight's definition -- "Science fiction means what we point to when we say it" -- and occasionally I will point to things for non-canonical reasons.

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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2008, 10:34:35 AM »

Totally enjoyed the story JR.
I can understand why Tim put up with the bullying even though he was now build like a bull. He'd been getting mentally and physically abused most every day of his life by this kid for 6 years. That's not something you can just get over. Also, it's not like Tim had explored his powers at all, in fact he had intentionally not explored them. As for the violence in the drug store messing him up, I'd say that goes with out saying, especially when you consider how unstable all the Union members are. This comic is almost more about people in extraordinary situations dealing with serious personal issues than it is about super powers... but aren't all comic books?

Steve,
Glad to hear UD is staying on EP, and that you'll keep the variety coming. I know that's why I tune in.

Cryptocrat,
Welcome to the forums!
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2008, 10:47:07 AM »

Totally enjoyed the story JR.
I can understand why Tim put up with the bullying even though he was now build like a bull. He'd been getting mentally and physically abused most every day of his life by this kid for 6 years. That's not something you can just get over. Also, it's not like Tim had explored his powers at all, in fact he had intentionally not explored them. As for the violence in the drug store messing him up, I'd say that goes with out saying, especially when you consider how unstable all the Union members are. This comic is almost more about people in extraordinary situations dealing with serious personal issues than it is about super powers... but aren't all comic books?

Steve,
Glad to hear UD is staying on EP, and that you'll keep the variety coming. I know that's why I tune in.

Cryptocrat,
Welcome to the forums!

Thanks for the compliment. You know, the only misstep I made with this story was not having Scott be the hostage. I didn't really think about how much more conflicted Tim would have been if he had to get over his initial hatred of Scott just to step up and do the right thing. But, live and learn. Maybe I'll work that angle in to one of the other stories somewhere. Or if this ever gets reprinted in book form, I'll rewrite the ending to swap out Marissol for Scott in the pharmacy. I tried to hint that this experience really wouldn't ever leave Tim when I had Megaton mention Joey Fitzsimmons from Iron Bars and the Glass Jaw.

And indeed I did make Tim extra timid. Take it from someone who was bulled all through elementary and middle school, even when you have the power to beat back your tormentors, you don't, because even if you're strong enough and fast enough they still have the advantage because they scare the shit out of you.

"If I just lay here long enough, they'll get tired and leave me alone."

That was, for me, the daily mantra between 4th and 8th grade.
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2008, 11:02:52 AM »

JR,

Ha!  In my comments above, I was going to ask whether you had considered having Scott take the place of Marissol, but I held back.

I feel like having Scott there would also fulfill a standard comic book trope, but I don't think that is a bad thing in this case.  The comic book pastiche is a worthy one, and despite having wasted the entirety of my childhood income on comic books, I find your characters' internal struggles fresh and worthwhile.  I eagerly await the next installment.
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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2008, 11:27:13 AM »

Thanks for the compliment. You know, the only misstep I made with this story was not having Scott be the hostage.
I'm not so sure about that. I think it would have been too perfect, too cliche. UD seems to be a little more gritty and real-world than that. It was great that he had the chance to tell the girl to get out of there, lets him be a hero to her, but having an unresolved history with Scott was kind of nice.
I suppose you could have Tim tell Scott to get out of the store with with girl: let the bully be the coward, and the coward the hero.
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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2008, 03:08:04 PM »

I do enjoy the Union Dues universe, but this didn't seem to add much to our understanding of it, and as a story on it's own I found it sort of "meh".  Looking at it, the setup should have been good - I can relate to having a dying parent, certainly, and everybody had to deal with bullies at one level or another... but I just never bought in.  Never cared about the characters or their conflicts. 
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