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Author Topic: EP153: Schwartz Between the Galaxies  (Read 43713 times)

wakela

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Reply #50 on: April 15, 2008, 11:00:07 PM
In the future Antares must be the Grand Central Station of the galaxy.  How many aliens have we come across from Antares?  How come no one ever visits Zubenelgenubi*? I want to know what the Zubenelgenubians are like.



*Amazingly, Google actually predicted that I wanted to search for Zubenelgenubi when I was only half-way through the word. 



eytanz

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Reply #51 on: April 15, 2008, 11:05:24 PM
As a late listener to this story, I find that I have little to add to the discussion. But I must say that I find this thread a whole lot more interesting than the actual story.

I think I may have liked the story better if I were reading it rather than listening to a reading. There were long lecture segments (both the actual lecture and the earlier lectures to Dawn) which, by their nature, were dry and not particularly exciting to listen to.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #52 on: April 16, 2008, 03:31:12 AM
The lack of actual cannibals in Papua was mentioned above.  Maybe Silverberg knew that too, and was just making Schwartz that much less informed.
Uninformed and still a world-class authority on the subject? Somehow I doubt Silverberg did that deliberately.
Yeah, that was a reach on my part.
But I still think that the point of the scene where he explains his Jewishness was to show that he wants other cultures to revert to their traditional ways, while he is not willing to do this himself. 

I didn't take that passage that way at all; rather, I saw it as an attempt to explain the inevitability of cultural drift.  I am surprised that the two kinds of "Jewishness" are not explored more often.  There are ethnic Jews (meaning there's a genetic connection) and there are religious Jews (who could be converts) - but rather than explain that to the alien, Schwartz simply fumbled around trying to explain his own identity.

Take my own heritage: Scots-Irish Presbyterians (or possibly Manxmen... came over circa 1750, and I haven't proved either yet), Palatinate Germans, Dutch (possibly by way of New Amsterdam), Irish (1840s), Pennsylvania Dutch, and a few that are most likely English.  In one sense, a real hodge-podge of language, class, and religion; but also distinctly "white European Christian".  Which box do you suppose I have to check on my census form?  But our family lore has always said that we were Irish, and that's how we tend to think of ourselves, despite having very little actual connection to the island.

My theory is that all of these people came to North America for pretty much the same reasons, and thought of themselves the same way; poor, devout, persecuted folk looking for a better lot in life.  (Sorry, indigenous peoples... if I could go back and tell them to be nicer, I would.)  Point being, we tend to "homogenize" over time - that is inevitable.  But we all hold on to a romantic ideal of who we are and where we come from.

And I think Schwartz ought to have been able to figure that out.

Another comment.  Having the coolest part of the story, the descriptions of the aliens, exist only in a character's fantasy diminished the sense of wonder for me.  These aliens aren't real, they are only this guy's dream.  And I don't even like or respect this guy, so why do I care?

I think that's why I decided I liked "my" interpretation better... ::)

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Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #53 on: April 16, 2008, 03:35:10 AM
I never read any book of Mr. Silverberg, but judging by his short stories I doubt that I would enjoy it.
I haven't liked any story of his that appeared here and there was only one ("When we went out to see the end of the world") that I didn't hate.

I wouldn't say I *hated* his EP short stories, but I can see where you're coming from.  If you were going to try one of his books, the Majipoor Chronicles are completely different from the sampling you've seen here.  (And I remember liking Lord Valentine's Castle, for whatever that's worth; I don't think I've attempted any of the others.)

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Darwinist

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Reply #54 on: April 16, 2008, 01:13:24 PM
I never read any book of Mr. Silverberg, but judging by his short stories I doubt that I would enjoy it.
I haven't liked any story of his that appeared here and there was only one ("When we went out to see the end of the world") that I didn't hate.

I wouldn't say I *hated* his EP short stories, but I can see where you're coming from.  If you were going to try one of his books, the Majipoor Chronicles are completely different from the sampling you've seen here.  (And I remember liking Lord Valentine's Castle, for whatever that's worth; I don't think I've attempted any of the others.)

I'm reading Silverberg's Face of the Waters right now and I like it.  I've also read Dying Inside and Hawksbill Station.  Dying inside was really good.  He's got a sh*tload of work out there, that's for sure.

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


Ocicat

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Reply #55 on: April 16, 2008, 09:58:06 PM
I found his plans a tad draconian and unrealistic, though.  "Restrict travel, especially tourism?"  Good luck...  I think all you'd discover is the speed with which trips can be re-labeled.

I'm sure Silverberg found Schwartz' plans unrealistic as well.  That was actually the point of the story - what Schwartz wanted was not only impossible, but a bad idea.  And through the course of the story, he was figuring that out.  He was a pretty bad example of a Jew.  He was, in fact, exactly what he was decrying.  Actually, his whole plan was designed to make more adventure for *him*, not to improve the lives of others.  Limit travel?  Not for anthropologists!  It was just a childish fantasy.  Just like his life in the starship was...

I'm sure that Silverberg wasn't advocating Schwartz' plans.  But I'm not exactly sure what his point *was*.  And I certainly agree that that future no longer looks plausible.  In the end, I enjoyed the story enough, but not so much as to go back through it and try to figure out what the lesson we're supposed to take away from it.



wakela

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Reply #56 on: April 16, 2008, 10:56:07 PM
This morning I realized that while Schwartz longs for a multicultural Earth, the aliens in his fantasy come from not even monocultural worlds, but monocultural star systems.



Windup

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Reply #57 on: April 17, 2008, 03:33:33 AM

I'm sure that Silverberg wasn't advocating Schwartz' plans.  But I'm not exactly sure what his point *was*.  And I certainly agree that that future no longer looks plausible.  In the end, I enjoyed the story enough, but not so much as to go back through it and try to figure out what the lesson we're supposed to take away from it.


I don't know enough about Silverberg to know what actual positions he might hold on the subject. 

One aspect of my life is storytelling, and it's made me somewhat resistant to the idea of a story having a single lesson or "moral." At least, for stories told to adults, by adults.  People will, and should, fit the story and find its meaning in the context of their own lives.  I like the storyteller's parable: "You can help pull the cork out of the bottle, but don't imagine you can control what happens next."

On possibility that did pop into my head as I was writing was that it's an advocacy piece for the importance of space travel.  As earth becomes more homogenized, poor Schwartz is stuck with two fantasies -- an imaginary journey in a starship, and an equally unrealistic plan for reacting to the trends that bother him. (I agree we're supposed to take the trends seriously, not the plan.)  Real space travel solves the problem with aliens.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2008, 11:37:05 PM by Windup »

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qwints

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Reply #58 on: April 17, 2008, 06:22:22 AM
How much significance was there to the fact that Schwartz didn't have a Jewish mother? I thought that to be considered a Jew by the Orthodox, it didn't count if only your father was Jewish. Maybe there's something to be taken from the fact that Schwartz is self-identifying with a culture but rejects others similar identifications.  (e.g. the Hopi and Navajo)

The more I reflect on the story, the more intensely I dislike Schwartz. Maybe it's the references to primitive tribes or the way he treats women, but I think he comes off as a whiny, weak-willed jerk.

The lamp flared and crackled . . .
And Nevyrazimov felt better.


DKT

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Reply #59 on: April 17, 2008, 04:31:41 PM
I just finished listening to this story and am coming to the thread a bit late, but this quote made me grin like an idiot.


Man, I love how this forum makes me think and re-evaluate/validate things. Does anyone else benefit from this place that way? This forum is art to me.

<edit: clarified which motif of Mondrian I was speaking of... and again for a typo>

I know exactly what you mean, man.


Russell Nash

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Reply #60 on: April 17, 2008, 05:06:32 PM
I just finished listening to this story and am coming to the thread a bit late, but this quote made me grin like an idiot.


Man, I love how this forum makes me think and re-evaluate/validate things. Does anyone else benefit from this place that way? This forum is art to me.

<edit: clarified which motif of Mondrian I was speaking of... and again for a typo>

I know exactly what you mean, man.

I gotta say, this is why we moderators like what we do.  You guys really make this place worth moderating.  Honestly most of the time we're just splitting off smart discussions into their own thread, so they have space to grow.  In almost a year and a half I've had one post where I had to edit out an insult and one battle with a jerk who Steve later banned.  That is just amazing. 

Don't let any of this go to your fat heads, but you guys are great.



Chodon

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Reply #61 on: April 17, 2008, 07:43:35 PM
I just finished listening to this story and am coming to the thread a bit late, but this quote made me grin like an idiot.


Man, I love how this forum makes me think and re-evaluate/validate things. Does anyone else benefit from this place that way? This forum is art to me.

<edit: clarified which motif of Mondrian I was speaking of... and again for a typo>

I know exactly what you mean, man.

I gotta say, this is why we moderators like what we do.  You guys really make this place worth moderating.  Honestly most of the time we're just splitting off smart discussions into their own thread, so they have space to grow.  In almost a year and a half I've had one post where I had to edit out an insult and one battle with a jerk who Steve later banned.  That is just amazing. 

Don't let any of this go to your fat heads, but you guys are great.
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome). 

Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.


wintermute

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Reply #62 on: April 17, 2008, 07:56:49 PM
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome).
Why is that an insult? I like the smell of elderberries.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


Russell Nash

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Reply #63 on: April 17, 2008, 09:49:41 PM
I just finished listening to this story and am coming to the thread a bit late, but this quote made me grin like an idiot.


Man, I love how this forum makes me think and re-evaluate/validate things. Does anyone else benefit from this place that way? This forum is art to me.

<edit: clarified which motif of Mondrian I was speaking of... and again for a typo>

I know exactly what you mean, man.

I gotta say, this is why we moderators like what we do.  You guys really make this place worth moderating.  Honestly most of the time we're just splitting off smart discussions into their own thread, so they have space to grow.  In almost a year and a half I've had one post where I had to edit out an insult and one battle with a jerk who Steve later banned.  That is just amazing. 

Don't let any of this go to your fat heads, but you guys are great.
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome). 

Is that supposed to be a reference to my weakness for fruit wines?  What was the other insult?  Was that the velcro recomendation?

I like the smell of elderberries.

Want some of my wine?  ::burp::



Chodon

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Reply #64 on: April 18, 2008, 12:13:45 AM
I just finished listening to this story and am coming to the thread a bit late, but this quote made me grin like an idiot.


Man, I love how this forum makes me think and re-evaluate/validate things. Does anyone else benefit from this place that way? This forum is art to me.

<edit: clarified which motif of Mondrian I was speaking of... and again for a typo>

I know exactly what you mean, man.

I gotta say, this is why we moderators like what we do.  You guys really make this place worth moderating.  Honestly most of the time we're just splitting off smart discussions into their own thread, so they have space to grow.  In almost a year and a half I've had one post where I had to edit out an insult and one battle with a jerk who Steve later banned.  That is just amazing. 

Don't let any of this go to your fat heads, but you guys are great.
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome). 

Is that supposed to be a reference to my weakness for fruit wines?  What was the other insult?  Was that the velcro recomendation?
How am I supposed to know?  You edited it out.  The velcro reference was just a tip from someone who has some friends that went through fraternity initiations.
In almost a year and a half I've had one post where I had to edit out an insult...
Sheesh, not the sharpest pencil in the box either.  Ooh, that makes three.


Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.


Windup

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Reply #65 on: April 18, 2008, 12:25:12 AM
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome).
Why is that an insult? I like the smell of elderberries.

I think because it was used as an insult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Or maybe it's an Arsenic and Old Lace reference.  Though considering context, I'm thinking that the former is more likely than the latter...

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


wintermute

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Reply #66 on: April 18, 2008, 12:48:47 AM
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome).
Why is that an insult? I like the smell of elderberries.

I think because it was used as an insult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Or maybe it's an Arsenic and Old Lace reference.  Though considering context, I'm thinking that the former is more likely than the latter...

Well duh, Sherlock.

Science means that not all dreams can come true


Windup

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Reply #67 on: April 18, 2008, 12:50:47 AM
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome).
Why is that an insult? I like the smell of elderberries.

I think because it was used as an insult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Or maybe it's an Arsenic and Old Lace reference.  Though considering context, I'm thinking that the former is more likely than the latter...

Well duh, Sherlock.


Hey, I'm not the one that asked...

« Last Edit: April 19, 2008, 02:53:14 AM by Windup »

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Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #68 on: April 18, 2008, 01:33:10 AM
That's awful nice for someone who smells of elderberries (now you have two insults...you're welcome).
Why is that an insult? I like the smell of elderberries.

I think because it was used as an insult in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  Or maybe it's an Arsenic and Old Lace reference.  Though considering context, I'm thinking that the former is more likely than the latter...

Hey, I'm not the one that asked...

Well duh, Sherlock.

I would say he smells of dingleberries... now THAT would be a worthy riposte!

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CGFxColONeill

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Reply #69 on: April 18, 2008, 01:45:52 AM
did anyone else think of spaceballs when they saw the title?

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Heradel

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Reply #70 on: April 18, 2008, 02:46:18 AM
did anyone else think of spaceballs when they saw the title?

God yes. I was fully expecting Yogurt to show up for a bit.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


DKT

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Reply #71 on: April 18, 2008, 04:29:05 AM
I fully expected this to be a comedy when I saw the title, until Steve's intro.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get the "I see your schwarz is as big as mine" bit from my mind.

Then, when the Antarean showed up, I was waiting for the cross-over from the "43rd Antarean Dynasties."

Mostly, I agree with Nobilis.  While listening to this story, I kept thinking, wow.  He was pretty far off.  It reminded me a lot of when I read Michael Crichton's The Lost World back in high school, and he was railing against how the internet was going to destroy culture, because everyone would only read the same top ten books, or watch the same tv shows, or listen to the same music.

It's certainly not a story I would've sought out and read on my own, so I'm glad I got to listen to it here, even though it wasn't a favorite.  One of the things I love about EP (and PP, and probably PC from the sound of it) is the diversity of the choices and broadening my own perspective on genre fiction.  And like I said before, the forums are amazing.  Some of the things other people came up with (TAD) I'd never considered.  You all broaden my perspective, too.


Darwinist

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Reply #72 on: April 18, 2008, 01:21:04 PM

One other thing:  first a Resnick, now a Silverberg... at that rate, next week will probably be "Union Dues" (no offense, Jeff).  I don't mean to be overly critical of my free entertainment, but are there any new (or at least lesser-known) authors that might have some works out there for us to enjoy?


You nailed it!!

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


Listener

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Reply #73 on: April 18, 2008, 01:47:14 PM

One other thing:  first a Resnick, now a Silverberg... at that rate, next week will probably be "Union Dues" (no offense, Jeff).  I don't mean to be overly critical of my free entertainment, but are there any new (or at least lesser-known) authors that might have some works out there for us to enjoy?


You nailed it!!

I was going to mention that when the EP154 thread opens up.  But when I updated my iPod this morning I had a good long LOL.

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Iron Guidon

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Reply #74 on: April 19, 2008, 02:48:25 AM
 :'( 

Anyone else think of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by Thurber or am I just showing my age. 

Really didn't like the story.  Seemed like an update and expansion of Thurber's story.  Original was better.

We're slower than I'd like getting of this Rock, but we WILL go to the stars. 

 :-[