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Author Topic: EP152: The Big Guy  (Read 26568 times)

Windup

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Reply #50 on: April 11, 2008, 04:50:58 AM

So Windup... how do you explain drag racing?


You'd have to ask someone who watches drag racing.  

I'm not sure I'd consider it a sport -- which is not to say that some people don't find it entertaining or that there isn't any skill involved. The machines clearly display a high level of ingenuity that some people can appreciate.  But I do say it's fundamentally different than what we get from football, soccer, cycling, polo, etc.  And much less popular, I might add.  

<<Insert by reference long-winded and inconclusive agrument over the precise definition of "sport.">>


I would TOTALLY watch robotic basketball, if all the players were robots.  If they were self-directed robots, even better.  And I'd be right there listening to the interview with the lead programmer at halftime.


Out of curiousity, do you watch basketball now?  Or do you follow any other sport?  

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being fascinated by machinery; I'm just saying that's a different group, or at least a very different motivation, than the traditional sports fanbase.  
« Last Edit: April 11, 2008, 04:54:01 AM by Windup »

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Yossarian's grandson

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Reply #51 on: April 11, 2008, 11:10:56 PM

I wonder if it's a coincidence that there was a seemingly unimportant line in the story about Ralph being able to eat with people that was eerily similar to this line from "The Caves of Steel", an Asimov robot detective book, said by Daneel Olivaw, a robot:
"...Yes I can perform the mechanical operations of chewing and swallowing.  My capacity is, of course, quite limited, and I would have to remove the ingested material from what you might call my stomach sooner or later."
(Daneel even offers a human the food later on because he didn't digest it)


Yes! I caught that one too. Plus one for the geek-o-meter!  ;)

Ditto
Then I thought I was being silly, because it would be logical enough that you would want a robot to be able to eat socially that anyone would have come up with this idea.  Funny that so many of us remembered the same book.


Don't know about you, but when I started to get interested in SF, I didn't really have any friends who were into it like me. So I had to look for 'the good stuff' by myself. And I ended up with Asimov almost straight away, if only because of his fame. It's probably like that for a lot of people.

On the other hand, it is funny that something as futile as eating would stand out (I read the Asimov novel at least 15 years ago). Proves how good it was, eh? I mean, I saw I Am Legend tonight and I doubt any recollection will remain by, let's say, next tuesday..... ;)



Nobilis

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Reply #52 on: April 12, 2008, 12:27:19 AM

So Windup... how do you explain drag racing?

...But I do say it's fundamentally different than what we get from football, soccer, cycling, polo, etc.  And much less popular, I might add. 


I would TOTALLY watch robotic basketball, if all the players were robots.  If they were self-directed robots, even better.  And I'd be right there listening to the interview with the lead programmer at halftime.


Out of curiousity, do you watch basketball now?  Or do you follow any other sport? 

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being fascinated by machinery; I'm just saying that's a different group, or at least a very different motivation, than the traditional sports fanbase. 

I follow all kinds of robotic sports.  Back when "Battlebots" was on TV, I never missed it.  I cheered the challengers and booed the returning champions as if they were sentient creatures.  I debated the relative merits of flippers vs. wedges vs. spinners with my friends.

Same with "Robot Wars" which I actually thought was a better show, especially with Craig Charles, who was the best presenter by far in my opinion.  I especially liked the concept of the "House Robots" because they basically could mount weapons beyond what the competitors could mount, and really put the hurt on.  The British engineers were real characters, too.

Robot combat has a good deal of human skill involved... not only in the design and engineering, but "driving" the machine as well.  Of course, if those machines were self-directed, you take the "driving" skill out and replace it with "programming"... but the sport is not much changed.

Sadly, there's not much left of robot sports on TV.  I hope it eventually comes back.



Windup

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Reply #53 on: April 12, 2008, 02:57:38 AM

Robot combat has a good deal of human skill involved... not only in the design and engineering, but "driving" the machine as well.  Of course, if those machines were self-directed, you take the "driving" skill out and replace it with "programming"... but the sport is not much changed.


I'm not saying that there isn't any human skill involved with the design or "driving" of robots, just that it's a different order of skills than the ones that sports fans generally turn out to see.  "Programming" is even further removed from that skill set. 

And, as your lament over the demise of "robot sports" on TV seems to indicate, the group that's interested in the robot-related skills is much smaller than the group that follows most major sports.

Which, gets us back to TAD's original point -- I don't think most basketball fans would take well to having human players replaced by robots. 

(Hey TAD, get in here and defend your own assertions...  All I did was agree...)

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #54 on: April 12, 2008, 05:15:53 PM
So Windup... how do you explain drag racing?

I'm always amazed that the racers don't trip on their feather boas and stiletto heels....


I would TOTALLY watch robotic basketball, if all the players were robots.  If they were self-directed robots, even better.  And I'd be right there listening to the interview with the lead programmer at halftime.
...

Robot combat has a good deal of human skill involved... not only in the design and engineering, but "driving" the machine as well.  Of course, if those machines were self-directed, you take the "driving" skill out and replace it with "programming"... but the sport is not much changed.


I'm not saying that there isn't any human skill involved with the design or "driving" of robots, just that it's a different order of skills than the ones that sports fans generally turn out to see.  "Programming" is even further removed from that skill set. 

And, as your lament over the demise of "robot sports" on TV seems to indicate, the group that's interested in the robot-related skills is much smaller than the group that follows most major sports.

Which, gets us back to TAD's original point -- I don't think most basketball fans would take well to having human players replaced by robots. 

(Hey TAD, get in here and defend your own assertions...  All I did was agree...)


Taking Nobilis's fine defence (or defense... I can't remember which dialect I speak any more) of robot sports into account, I would have to say I'd probably be MORE interested in watching sports if the teams were made up of robotic players.  Well, most sports, anyway.

I wouldn't see any point in having humans compete against robots, for some of the reasons outlined so eloquently above.  Robots lack the "heart" that provides most of the drama; and building in design flaws or handicaps for the sake of making it *possible* for humans to compete would feel as much like cheating as, say, using steroids.

EXCEPT for baseball... I suspect there are enough variable built into the average baseball game to make the outcome between a human team and a team with robots an open question.

(See... I'm payin' attention!)

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Rain

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Reply #55 on: April 14, 2008, 03:57:17 PM
I liked the story, it was nice



Roney

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Reply #56 on: April 22, 2008, 08:27:34 PM
Thinking about this story again (and in the context of PodCastle starting), I'm reminded of Isaac Asimov saying that he always aspired to the writing of Fantasy but found it much more difficult than Science Fiction.  [Sorry: that's paraphrased to the extent of misquoting but I don't have the source to hand.]  I always interpreted this as meaning that you can distract a reader of SF from the deficiences (of plot or character or prose) of a story with a sufficiently cool idea, and his bibliography attests that Asimov was never short of cool ideas.  Whereas Fantasy is SF without a safety net, and needs a much more rounded depiction of a make-believe world to carry the story.

By staking itself on one idea, "The Big Guy" lived or died by how cool you found it.  (By "idea" I mean "physically superior robot is more interested in emotions, to inhuman extremes".)  If this is something that you think is always interesting to explore, or at least can bear study from a slightly different angle, then the story's OK.  If you think it's been done to death or too closely follows a previous treatment, it's pointless and frustrating.  But take away the central idea and there's nothing left at all.  In Fantasy you'd feel the emptiness so acutely that the story would never make it past the slush pile; in SF there's kinda something there in the technology-meets-today theme that makes it worth consideration.

I still like the story, and EP does (and should) lean towards the fun stuff, but good SF is better than this.



eytanz

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Reply #57 on: April 25, 2008, 09:47:25 AM
Ok, I'm a latecomer to this story - I just found it difficult to prioritize listening to it very highly over the last few weeks, so it sat on my iPod for a while - but now that I've got around to it, I agree with the "well told, but not very interesting, and feels over-constructed" sentiment I've been getting from other posts on this thread.

One thing that bothered me that hasn't been getting much attention is how implausible this story is - not in the setup (which was discussed above) but in the way the characters react. Strangely for a story about emotions, no-one seems to really have much of those regarding the robot - none of the players seems to resent the robot, or worry about eventually losing their job when all-robot teams become popular, or treat the robot in any way other than as if it's totally natural there suddenly is one on the team. Also, after a whole season of seeing him play perfect games, no-one - not the team members, not the coach, not the media - realizes he threw the last two shots?

Oh well.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #58 on: April 26, 2008, 02:21:14 PM
Ok, I'm a latecomer to this story - I just found it difficult to prioritize listening to it very highly over the last few weeks, so it sat on my iPod for a while - but now that I've got around to it, I agree with the "well told, but not very interesting, and feels over-constructed" sentiment I've been getting from other posts on this thread.

One thing that bothered me that hasn't been getting much attention is how implausible this story is - not in the setup (which was discussed above) but in the way the characters react. Strangely for a story about emotions, no-one seems to really have much of those regarding the robot - none of the players seems to resent the robot, or worry about eventually losing their job when all-robot teams become popular, or treat the robot in any way other than as if it's totally natural there suddenly is one on the team. Also, after a whole season of seeing him play perfect games, no-one - not the team members, not the coach, not the media - realizes he threw the last two shots?

Oh well.

Everyone was just bored, because... be honest, who wants to see basketball played "perfectly" all the time?

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justaJ0e

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Reply #59 on: May 11, 2008, 12:39:03 AM
Given this episode's intro and the direction the comments have headed towards ... I figured it was an appropriate time to chime in.  :)

I wondered across Escape Pod when episode 13 had just come out (The Once and Future Dentist) and have been addicted every since. I've been a Sci-Fi geek since I was in the third grade and now I like NASCAR so much ... I co-host a NASCAR podcast.

So I represent the segment of the population that cocks it's head to on side and says "Huh? What's the big deal?" anytime someone questions combining sports and sci-fi.

That being said ... this was not my favorite story by Mr. Resnick. Knowing how regulated professional sports are ... the premise that a pro-sports league would allow robots (especially to allow just some teams to have them) was distracting.

From that aspect, you might enjoy this story more if you AREN'T a sports fan.

Also, the whole "Wanting the whole experience" thing made the ending pretty obvious.


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RobinR

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Reply #60 on: May 14, 2008, 02:07:11 AM
I'm fairly new to Pseudo and Escape Pod, and I heard this one just today. Maybe it's just my horror writing mind at work, but when Ralph says he wants to experience love and losing love, I wondered how he was going to manage it when he decided that the love part was over and it was time to lose it. He can't change the emotions of another person easily, so wouldn't his robot logic tell him he just has to "lose" the whole person? In a quick and easy way?



DDog

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Reply #61 on: October 20, 2008, 10:02:22 PM
This story was okay. Apparently Mike Resnick is ridiculously prolific in outlets besides Escape Pod as well, but what I've seen so far is just...okay. Maybe I'm expecting too much from sci-fi to change my life or make me laugh, but... Fred and Wilma was pretty good. I liked that Ralph threw the last game just to see what it felt like, and it was better than him just doing awesome and that being the whole story, but it didn't have much of an emotional impact. It was okay.

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Unblinking

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Reply #62 on: March 23, 2010, 04:56:05 PM
Not great.  I rarely like sports stories.  There only seem to be a few permutations a sports story is expected to go, and anything that doesn't try to take it somewhere new doesn't mark itself as very memorable.  If it had been a more original spec component, maybe that could've carried it, but the robot finding emotions has been done so many times it does little to add freshness.  I listened to it about 2/3 of the way through and then stopped.

As others pointed out, the fact that the league, the fans, and the players were so willing to accept robo additions to just a few teams made it hard to suspend disbelief as well.  I don't expect every speculative element to be possible in our world, of course, but I do hope for internal consistency.

Resnick has raised the bar of expectations with most of his previous stories, and this one couldn't compare.  I know Resnick can do better than this, Barnaby in Exile being a case in point.