Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: EP090: How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas  (Read 33348 times)

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Reply #25 on: January 31, 2007, 02:51:41 PM
Great story:)  It reminded me quite a bit of the 2000AD comic series 'Rogue Trooper', about the last Genetic Infantryman (Yes that's right a 'G.I.').  He carried the bio-chips of his dead squad in his helmet, rifle and backpack and a lot of the fun of the series was seeing the four of them interact.
   However, where Rogue Trooper was always a bit of a tub thumper, I thought this was a very considered, almost poignant story.  I got the distinct impression that the helmet felt genuine regret for its actions and the ending was genuinely dark and affecting.

   Like I say, great story.  I look forward to more from the author.



Djerrid

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Reply #26 on: January 31, 2007, 07:33:30 PM
It is clear in the story that the helmet is self-aware enough to deserve a fair trial rather than just shut it off - and this also, indirectly, says something of the society Tortuga (sp?) exists in that they put him on trial versus just wiping the memory or cracking it open for parts.

If AI's are given due process then their status in the Empire is near citizenship-level. Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms.   



Paul Campbell

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 12
    • Cossmass Productions
Reply #27 on: January 31, 2007, 07:51:36 PM
It is clear in the story that the helmet is self-aware enough to deserve a fair trial rather than just shut it off - and this also, indirectly, says something of the society Tortuga (sp?) exists in that they put him on trial versus just wiping the memory or cracking it open for parts.

If AI's are given due process then their status in the Empire is near citizenship-level. Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms.   

Caprica?

Paul W. Campbell
* IM - AIM: kemitix / MSN: paul@paulwcampbell.com / Yahoo: kemitixii
** Coming June 1st from Cossmass Productions:
** Estalvin's Legacy - Episode 1 (http://estalvinslegacy.info/)
** Promo: http://cossmass.co.uk/series/estalvinslegacy/promo1


slic

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 727
  • Stephen Lumini
Reply #28 on: January 31, 2007, 08:10:26 PM
Quote
If AI's are given due process then their status in the Empire is near citizenship-level. Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms. 
Thanks, Djerrid.  That is what I was getting at - I wasn't looking to start a debate on politicizing fiction.



Rachel Swirsky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1233
    • PodCastle
Reply #29 on: January 31, 2007, 08:15:09 PM
"I wasn't looking to start a debate on politicizing fiction."

It's a point, though.

In eagerness to read this story as apolitical, have elements like a reference to an empire (with all the baggage that implies, particularly at a time when America is nation-building outside our borders) been pushed aside?



wakela

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #30 on: January 31, 2007, 10:55:30 PM
I kept waiting for the part when I was supposed to just accept that the Empire was evil and the rebels were good, and I was already writing the post in my head that asked what the Empire did that made it evil.  I was happily surprised that the story did not go there.  It's about the helmet.  The Empire may be a force of evil or good (most likely both), but it doesn't matter to the helmet.

I was not a big fan of the reader, though.  I actually think Capt. Eley's voice is somehow more...helmet-like.



SFEley

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1408
    • Escape Artists, Inc.
Reply #31 on: February 01, 2007, 03:07:24 AM
If AI's are given due process then their status in the Empire is near citizenship-level. Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms.   

My interpretation of the story (and to be clear: that's all it is, just my personal take) was that the event wasn't intended as a "trial" or "due process" for the helmet.  From the helmet's perspective, that's certainly what it would have seemed like; but from the judge's and the society's perspective I believe this was just an inquest into the death of the soldier.

Problem:  A soldier died in active duty.  Apparently not from enemy fire.

Investigation:  Examine the records of the soldier's equipment and find out what happened.  It looks like the helmet has complete records.  And it was programmed to spout bad poetry.  How annoying.

Conclusion: Equipment failure.  Get that equipment out of active service so it doesn't happen again.  Write it up and arrange the pension for the soldier's family.  Next case.

I think this story holds up and is fully consistent with the helmet's belief that it's on trial.  Although it's also clear that the helmet's perspective is far more interesting, and absolutely the best POV for this story.

ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine


Leon Kensington

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 296
  • Supreme Overlord of Earth
Reply #32 on: February 01, 2007, 04:24:05 AM
I couldn't agree more.



Djerrid

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 15
Reply #33 on: February 01, 2007, 07:05:52 PM
I couldn't agree more.

Neither could I, Steve. But who says we can't spice things up.  ;D

What I'm suggesting is that if it is a SF writer's job to speculate outside of the bounds of reality we can give ourselves license to speculate outside the bounds of the story. For instance, if every soldier has at least one AI handy and they are used as museum pieces then they must be pretty wide spread. And if they can be reliable witnesses at criminal trials then the millions of household AIs would turn the Empire into a de facto surveillance state.

Now there is nothing in the story that would back that up but its fun to flesh out the world that he hints at. That's why fan fiction is so engaging.



scissorfighter

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #34 on: February 06, 2007, 12:57:15 AM
I've been listening to Escape Pod for a while now, and although most of the tales are enjoyable and well done, this is the first one that's actually motivated me to stand up and say so.  A great creative piece, masterfully read.  Good work.



BSWeichsel

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 36
Reply #35 on: February 06, 2007, 03:20:30 PM
So Far this is up there with the Union dues stories for me. Only thing that I thought was what At least what I though the helmet looked like but other then that it was a very enteraining story. Only question is why metain the Sea boots if we don;t know what they do? Was just a little bit confused about that.

Good story all in all.

Since it began, who have you killed? You wouldn't be alive now if you hadn't killed somebody.


Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #36 on: February 06, 2007, 04:13:14 PM
It is clear in the story that the helmet is self-aware enough to deserve a fair trial rather than just shut it off - and this also, indirectly, says something of the society Tortuga (sp?) exists in that they put him on trial versus just wiping the memory or cracking it open for parts.

If AI's are given due process then their status in the Empire is near citizenship-level. Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms.   

Members of the British government have started suggesting that new laws need to be written that will cover rights for intelligent machines.



tsanders

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 24
Reply #37 on: February 06, 2007, 09:17:34 PM
Then things get messy when we get into guns that can vote, helmets that can run for office and toasters exercising their right to keep and bear arms.   

It gets worse once the logic goes circular. After all, would the arms (the voting guns) have the right to keep and bear toasters? ;)



fiveyearwinter

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 135
Reply #38 on: February 07, 2007, 03:49:26 PM
You know, that's a really good point!

hm. Somethin' to ponder.

Also -  I agree with the idea that the gas mask wasn't really 'on trial,' per se - more that they were doing a routine investigation of his programming to see what caused him to think that killing his owner was the proper course of action.



Brian Reilly

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 61
  • Bigger on the inside
Reply #39 on: February 08, 2007, 05:11:37 PM
This is easily the best episode of 2007, and indeed one of the best stories I have heard on EP. It's got everything- an intelligent machine who loves poetry and singing, criticism of militarism which doesn't go into political preaching, a Douglas Adams-style humour, plenty of action, betrayal, mars, hi-tech weaponry, death, a fantastic narrator, patriotic hymns, a truly unexpected twist at the end (who would have thought he'd end up as a museum exhibit?).

My only criticism is that I saw the soldier's pretend betrayal, and Tortuga's reaction to it, a mile off.

More from this author please!

The 21st Century is when it all changes, and you’ve gotta be ready- Captain Jack, Torchwood.


chosechu

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #40 on: February 08, 2007, 07:29:14 PM
Beautiful story! Excellent narration, tone, accent, very well exposed, not a single gram too much fat. In my view probably one of the best ever featured on EscapePod. Short and to the point, using SF as background and not as an end in itself. Many thanks for this masterpiece!



Phil_r

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #41 on: February 08, 2007, 10:11:04 PM
Nice story. Reminds me greatly of 'Rogue Trooper' that I read with great enthusiasm in my teens (and later).



feersum endjinn

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #42 on: February 10, 2007, 12:55:03 AM
This was one of my favorite Escape Pod stories by far.
I think the voice and accent of the reader really fit this
story well.  The reader gave the story a great British
SF feel, very 1984.



marriott

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #43 on: February 11, 2007, 04:06:51 PM
Just wanted to say (long time listener of Escape Pod, first time commenter ) that this is exactly what I want to hear on this podcast.

More like this!



Rachel Swirsky

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1233
    • PodCastle
Reply #44 on: April 02, 2007, 11:26:25 PM
The author of this story has an article up at Strange Horizons: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2007/20070402/trimarco-icke-a.shtml



JoeFitz

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #45 on: May 15, 2007, 01:27:05 PM

I don't doubt that the helmet was programmed to be patriotic, but I think it is worth entertaining the possibility that once a computer as sufficiently advanced AI as to be self aware it would be capable of stretching the truth to make it look as good as possible.


Excellent point.  But if it wasn't patriotism, then what was the helmet's motive?  There isn't much else offered in the story, except perhaps desire for a more blood-thirsty owner.  Or, more chilling, it did it because it could.

I'm convinced the helmet was lying throughout, especially about its patriotism. The protestations were just too much for me. Apparently, the murderer was always singing patriotic songs, but the murder victim didn't like them. The murderer always followed the letter of all mission parameters (which would make for a dangerous combat accessory), but the murder victim deviated from them and refused to explain. The murder itself was an enormous overreaction to what was (at best) an ambiguous display of loyalty. The helmet came to the most extreme conclusion very quickly and acted on the most extreme response. The decision not to excrete the toxins used to kill speaks to premeditation.

The motive seemed clear enough: a moderately self-aware machine with an inflated opinion of itself was bored with taking orders it didn't like from someone it didn't respect. It found an excuse it thought it could rationalize and buttressed it with character assassination of the murder victim on the stand.

JoeFitz



vetstudentjenn

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Horses make great patients! Or, they try yours!
Reply #46 on: May 20, 2007, 10:48:59 PM
A little late to the game. maybe no one will read this, but...

One of my favorite new quotes has come out of this story.

"One never knows just how one's feelings for another will grow or wilt with the passing of the hours"

I just love that!

Thanks for a pretty good story with a great narration. I think I may need to re-listen, though, after reading this thread. I am not sure I really "got" what happened with the attack at the end. I did laugh at the helmet getting sent off to a fate worse than the brig- museum piece, indeed!



geofftaylor

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #47 on: June 15, 2007, 06:50:59 PM
What a great story! And really well read.

And what a great device to have the story narrated by an AI helmet who is gung-ho about war, while the soldier under it is trying to end the war. The courtroom framing device worked really well too.

The character of the smart helmet in this story could have been inspired by the officer played by Robert Duvall in Apocalype Now, who loved the smell of napalm in the morning.



Planish

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
    • northernelectric.ca
Reply #48 on: June 22, 2007, 03:34:35 AM
My only criticism is that I saw the soldier's pretend betrayal, and Tortuga's reaction to it, a mile off.
"Pretend"? He totally went over to the rebels.

Now to speculate on "what would happen next". I think the inference is that the investigators would find that the AIs did their duties, but the human let them down. The obvious solution is to do away with the human element. Then you think "oh, is that what they've been attempting to do in the Real World, through behaviour modification?"

I'm not suggesting that this is indeed the case (ie. that troops are being conditioned to put aside human feelings and become automatons), but that is one of the things that people fear. See Stanley Kubrick's "Failsafe".

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")


Lizzer

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #49 on: July 12, 2007, 03:46:24 AM
I am a relatively new listener, and I'm really glad that this was the first story I listened to--it totally hooked me in, and I'm now a regular subscriber to the podcast. I thought this story was well-written, with an intriguingly unreliable narrator. Great stuff!