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Author Topic: Pseudopod 86: The Wild Y  (Read 30217 times)

Russell Nash

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Reply #50 on: May 07, 2008, 06:08:18 PM
First off I didn't like this story.  Like Bdoomed I was intrigued by the idea and could skip over the crap science just like I do with comic book movies.  The rest of it just bored me. 

I'm on the side that didn't see a huge amount of sexism.  It, at least, wasn't as hammered in as the man-hating in PP083.

The sex scene is another issue.  The "reason" I thought the women jumoed him was simply to seal the deal.  She used the weak will of this man, who hasn't had quality sex in a long time, against him.  Make it so he won't ask questions and will just go through with it.  I think it was poorly written and that the agent would have flirted with him instead. 



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Reply #51 on: May 08, 2008, 03:36:24 AM
First of all, I have to make a big admission --- I missed that Paul (it was Paul, wasn't it?) was turned into a woman. I don't know how I did that. Something didn't make sense at the end, and I did relisten to the ending a couple of times to figure out what I missed. Still didn't get it. Man, am I embarrassed.
I didn't catch on to that either.  It confused me equally, and I had come to the conclusion that they were simply going to frame him as a look-alike who did the bad things.

The only sexism I got from this story - even now knowing its end - is the way the secret service agent was written.  To be very fair, there is a lot more misogynist territory that could be explored given the combination of that agent with a very lonely man-turned-woman.  I honestly feel like this was a less-than-successful attempt at horror: the promise of eternal health granted then taken away. 

I am just now exploring Psuedopod and liking enough of it.  I had grabbed a few episodes to listen to at work.  I can see the point of view that it may have taken on a different context if showcased somewhere else.  On the flip side, a number of the more recent episodes I listened to were of a common "normal person goes crazy" theme.  I was actually happy to hear a story try something outside of those lines.



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Reply #52 on: May 27, 2008, 05:51:40 AM


Maybe I'm way behind on this one - in fact, I AM way behind on this one - but I felt like making a post and weighing in a little because I just listened to the story for the first time today.  I'll admit that I was in the boat that didn't catch the "sex change" angle at first.  In fact, I didn't catch it until I read this thread, which (I'll admit) makes me feel a little dumb.  My initial listening was something like, "Oh, cool, the Wild Y absorbs the new DNA and he's no longer wild Y, he's just whatever DNA it absorbed instead!" which seems pretty neat, all in all, though not quite the kind of thing that would garner instant screaming.
 
The sex scene is another issue.  The "reason" I thought the women jumoed him was simply to seal the deal.  She used the weak will of this man, who hasn't had quality sex in a long time, against him.  Make it so he won't ask questions and will just go through with it.  I think it was poorly written and that the agent would have flirted with him instead. 

This, actually. I heard it as exactly this - she wasn't fooling around because she likes having sex with this newly 25-year-old hunk of a former bum but rather because she wanted to get him to sign up.  The second time around, I caught her saying that about "At least you'll have the memory of these two times..." before the second injection.

In terms of the immediate horror inherent in the idea of waking up a woman, well... It would horrify me.  I don't mean that in the sense that it's somehow WORSE to be a woman, but rather in that I, myself, am male.  I have lived this long as male, and it's a core element of my personality, my behavior, my self-identification.  Your gender defines how you fit into society and the way you see yourself.  Part of the horror is that the protagonist has opened his eyes and found that one of his fundamental traits is changed - even if he doesn't immediately make the connection of no longer having a Y chromosome,  it's still a bit of a shock.

Imagine, the most incredible, orgasmic feeling of all your life washing over you, the anticipation of being the goddamn PRESIDENT, and then hearing the people talking about what had happened, slowly making the connection, then opening your eyes, still coming down from the high of the transformation, and finding out that your worst suspicions were true?


...At least, that's how I read the horror of the ending.  I didn't quite feel that way, listening to it, since (as I mentioned) I missed the whole YX -> XX change thing, but it seems like that might be the intention.

I didn't hear too much misogyny in the story, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't there and I didn't notice it.


This:
I honestly feel like this was a less-than-successful attempt at horror: the promise of eternal health granted then taken away.

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Reply #53 on: May 28, 2008, 02:04:29 AM
Oo good stuff. The twist ending was unexpected. The reading was good. This is a writer to watch.

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Ben Phillips

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Reply #54 on: May 31, 2008, 11:14:03 PM
My goodness.

When I evaluate any media artifact, I'm asking myself two questions.  1. What is it supposed to be?  2. Is it a good example of what it's supposed to be?

This story is supposed to be, and is, fairly mindless pulp, deliberately replete with all the cliches that entails.  "Pulp", as I think of it, is a story not designed to improve with analysis.  For example, I (and I daresay also the author) was fully aware of how ridiculous the sex scene is, and I can only apologize that my comic delivery wasn't up to snuff if that part of the recording didn't have the intended effect.  The plot is, yes, littered with gaping plot holes that it makes no attempt to address or apologize for.

Regarding the horror reaction of the protagonist at the end:  I also share the opinion that no one would take it well if unexpected, and unexpectedly irrevocable, gender change were abruptly imposed upon him or her.

Regarding sexism in the story in general:  This is a very valid critique.  I doubt it was truly the intent of the author to shock you using these James Bond adventure story cliches of cardboard cutout women.  When I bought the story, I saw that stuff blending right in with the outlandishly over-the-top pseudoscientific premise (which, you may note, is self-awarely ridiculed by one of the protagonist's comments) and the other cheerfully included cliches.  I (obviously quite foolishly) had no idea anyone would take especial offense.

While my hope was that this story was going to be received in the shallowly amusing light it was intended, it's a fine commentary on our listenership that neither the weak premise & plot nor the (intentionally or not) ingrained sexism flies.  So, kudos to you.  And as always, my sincere thanks for all the feedback.



Ben Phillips

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Reply #55 on: June 01, 2008, 12:01:26 AM
Mostly, I think this story suffered for being in Pseudopod - if I were to read it in a general anthology/magazine, I may have been misled into thinking this was a wish-fulfillment story and then the twist in the end would have had some bite, even if it was a campy silly one. But here, I spent the entire story knowing it's going to end badly, and making up scenarios of how it all goes horribly wrong.

This is a very interesting dilemma, and one endemic to the horror genre.  Although I treat genre considerations with the traditional Escape Artists editorial disdain, taking as axiomatic the assumption that genre-mongering is a counterproductive waste of time, it remains that with the stories most true to horror genre expectations we generally have to deal with an anticipation of endings perhaps best summarized by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre tagline:  Who will survive, and what will be left of them?

This again supports the philosophy of avoidance of slavish adherence to genre, if only to keep you guessing a little more.  And maybe I should indulge it more noticeably, since as another poster astutely notes (sorry I can't seem to locate your post to quote it -- this thread is pretty long!), with standard genre lines cheerfully underemphasized, my personal predilection for tragedy has been the main distinguishing feature of Pseudopod as compared with Escape Pod, and even that can't be adhered to slavishly without descending into stagnation.  Consistency vs. unpredictability is a fine line to walk.

In general, the only response I can come up with to complaints of "good story, wrong genre" is:  blame the author for deciding to send it to me instead of Escape Pod or PodCastle.  :)  (Disclaimer:  The above is a flagrant cop-out.)



Sgarre1

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Reply #56 on: July 05, 2008, 11:30:27 PM
I won't waste anyone's time with too much of a "me too" but I agree with pretty much every negative comment.  Silly, waste of a time story seemingly written with a high-schooler's understanding of gender relations.

Ben's comments above, about his definitions of pulp and how it relates to Pseudopod, help me to realize that I shouldn't expect as much out of Pseudopod as I do.  I want there to be a source for quality horror audio that I can go to and, if not enjoy every story (unlikely even under the best of circumstances, as I'm a grumpy old fool), at least have a good chance of getting something out of the stories that I may not have liked.

I don't feel particularly enthused by knowing some (I'm giving the benefit of the doubt and the history of better stories) of these offerings have passed editorial muster with "mindless" and "not designed to improve with analysis" being bottom line standards (I'm adding to this comment in retrospect because I do not want it inferred that Pseudopod stories have to meet these standards, just that these are "bottom line", that is to say, that these critiques are not considered valid).  Maybe Escape Artist should start a "humor pod" or "frivolity pod" for these kinds of things.  WEIRD TALES (not the new version, the "in it's day" version), UNKNOWN, THE HORROR SHOW, etc., pretty much any high-water mark in horror publishing, all of these publications had great stories and a lot of filler, this was necessity of the publishing format, frequency, page count, etc. But we don't have to read the filler now because the great stories (mostly) have been culled for us.  Maybe Pseudopod should go to bi-weekly or fill the occasional gap with readings of some older public domain titles.

And, yes, no need to get into the genre shell-game but this, to me, was pure sci-fi with an unhappy ending.  And, since I've already (finally) listened to next week's, that one was as well.

I appreciated the shout-out to "The Immortal" television show, though.

Thanks for listening

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« Last Edit: July 05, 2008, 11:33:56 PM by Sgarre1 »



Myrealana

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Reply #57 on: August 04, 2008, 07:48:15 PM
Having just gotten around to listening to this story, I find myself in agreement with the general opinions expressed here.

The pseudo-science was detailed enough that I listened and said to myself Huh? The story would have been better off with less detail to be picked apart there.

Also, I was struck by the notion that turning a man into a woman is inherently horrible. Yes, The President is apparently a sadistic killer, but that wasn't what the author pointed out to us - it was the higher pitch in Paul's voice that he uses to convey the horror.

I'm going to have to go with a distinct thumb's down on this one.

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Reply #58 on: August 10, 2008, 05:15:03 PM
Also, I was struck by the notion that turning a man into a woman is inherently horrible. Yes, The President is apparently a sadistic killer, but that wasn't what the author pointed out to us - it was the higher pitch in Paul's voice that he uses to convey the horror.
yes, that is horrible!  Nothing against the ladies here, but imagine believing that you are going to impersonate the president of the united states and find out that instead you have been transformed permanently into a sadistic president's wife?

Im sorry, for some inexplicable reason i find turning a man into a woman against his will horrifying. 

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Russell Nash

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Reply #59 on: August 10, 2008, 05:24:59 PM
Also, I was struck by the notion that turning a man into a woman is inherently horrible. Yes, The President is apparently a sadistic killer, but that wasn't what the author pointed out to us - it was the higher pitch in Paul's voice that he uses to convey the horror.
yes, that is horrible!  Nothing against the ladies here, but imagine believing that you are going to impersonate the president of the united states and find out that instead you have been transformed permanently into a sadistic president's wife?

Im sorry, for some inexplicable reason i find turning a man into a woman against his will horrifying. 

Also he was about to be turned into the most powerful man in the world, and he becomes that man's next victim instead.  I'm sure that if he was supposed to be urned into a guy on death row, but instead got turned into Hillary Clinton right after she won the presidency (alternate history) he would have been thrilled.





crem8d_boogaloo

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Reply #60 on: October 09, 2008, 10:31:01 PM
Good story.  Just goes to show that, no matter what makes you special/unique/elite/awesome, there's always a person or group lying in wait... to screw you.



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Reply #61 on: October 20, 2009, 08:49:46 PM
Well, I don't want to wake up the argument that got going here, so I'll try to stay mostly out of that territory.

I didn't hate the story, but it was definitely sub-par.  Mostly my reasons can be summed up as follows:

1.  The way the scientific premise was explained, I thought he could ONLY become other men.  The Y chromosome is the agent of change, so suddenly changing to a woman was outside of the realm of the possible, based on what I had heard before.

2.  The ending was needlessly unclear as to what happened.  I had to listen to it 3 times to guess he'd become the first lady.  A high pitched voice could mean many things, such as him being turned into Michael Jackson, or being placed in a room full of helium.  Why not be totally clear that a sex change had occurred.

3.  To add on to #2, the reason for the scream is unclear.  Many people have commented that they think it's because he doesn't want to be a woman.  That wasn't how I read it at all, but since the story doesn't TELL you the reason, any answer is correct.  I read it that he was screaming because he was afraid he would be strangled and quite possibly raped by the President, his new husband.  But I don't think it's sexist to be horrified by an unexpected sex change.  Even my own interpretation is kind of weak.  The first lady could get an interview with the press if she wanted to, and could out the President's abusive ways--easy peasy.  It would be unpleasant, but would be less unpleasant than being strangled to death.  But even if I'd interpreted the horror as being due to the sex change alone, that's not sexist in my view.  I have wondered what it would be like to be a woman, and if there were a way that it could happen in a reversible Ranma 1/2 sort of way, then that would be intriguing.  But waking up and unexpectedly finding your penis gone?  I can honestly say that would scare the crap out of me.  Much like a woman waking up with a new appendage between her legs would be rather horrified.

4.  What's the point of the contract?  He's not allowed to tell anyone, and it's all done in an effort to cover up the President's felonies.  Not only that, but they intend the signer to be murdered.  They don't even want anyone to know this gene exists, and they insist on a paper trail?  WTF?

5.  Possible sexism aside, ethics aside, why the hell would the government take an  infinitely useful attribute like this wild Y and just throw it away?  This guy would be the perfect assassin!  He has extreme longevity, he's in peak physical condition, and he can exactly mimic the appearance of another.  Not only that, but these people are in extremely short supply.  They've already thrown away 2 of these, by the sound of it, there may only be a handful more in the entire world.  What a frivolous use of them!

6.  The sex.  I wasn't bothered by the awkwardness of the sex scene itself, or even the premise that he gives in so easily because of the sex.  What bothered me is that she had sex with him as part of her governmental obligation, not only that, but under the supervision of a squad of other government employee witnesses.  That reduces her character to nothing more than a political prostitute paid on taxpayer money.  Neither she nor the squad monitoring the room really had any problem with that?



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Reply #62 on: January 29, 2010, 09:42:51 PM
Put me in the boat with the people who missed what happened. I lstened to it twice, and still missed it. I shrugged and moved on and appreciated the story for the diversion that it was. Beats the hell out of watching a queue refill and drain every couple minutes in silence or listening to corporate radio.

Now that I have thought about this story for a while and read the forum I think it wasn't just that the story was so openly sexist, I think it was a deliberate hit at Hillary Clinton, an uppity women who some people wish had been killed by her husband and whose surrogate was repeatedly killed in this story. (The character Toland wasn't the first Wild Y to be used to replace her and be killed again.)

I think there was a political subtext in the choice of this rather poor story.

I felt the political subtext was jarring and unnecessary. The president was clearly identified as a Democrat, so this supports the concept that it was crafted as a dig at Bill. But if it was, it's over a decade late to be topical. I think there's been some sensitivity to this story that's not entirely deserved. I didn't take much of anything away from the story other than the diversion.

Also, I'd add that this type of horror is (IMO) is covered more effectively in the early PP Flash piece "Her Shoes."

Yours Shoes was definately a nice piece of flash. Same story but better. I don't think I'm saying that because I actually got that one.

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Reply #63 on: July 21, 2010, 11:32:23 PM
This one gets a negative response from me.  At first, this story seemed to be a non-humorous retelling of the movie "Dave" (1993) in which a common man must impersonate the president.  But I knew there had to be a twist somewhere and that our unfortunate protagonist would not wake up as the president.  With the repeated hammering of the XY and XX chromasone dispairity, I called the ending long before it plodded along.

The sci-fi elements of this story felt a little ham-fisted and unrealistic.  There were numorous "lampshade hangings" but it just did not stop me from wanting to shout "DNA does not work that way!"  By the end, it had become a major sticking point with me and made me enjoy the story even less.

Finally, the language was weak.  Lack of effective metaphor, too many pronouns close together, rambling sentences etc.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that the sex scene was not only completely out of left field, but also totally superfluous - I mean, like he wasn't going to agree to based solely on the "fountain of youth" serum??  Secondly, after they finish she gets the contract from a compartment in the chair?  That was lazy writing.  It felt like the sex got crammed in, then the writer needed to invent somewhere for her to get the contract from quickly.  Couldn't it just have been nearby?  Or folded in her pocket.

Also, when they finish, all the Secret Service goons enter the room, but - am I wrong here? - isn't she still naked?  Even "Ms. Erotic Assassin Stereotype" would have AT LEAST put her underwear back on, right?  I know they were watching, but it just felt so weird and forced.

Finally, to cap it all off, the sex scene was dull and poorly written.  It basically read: "They did it.  He liked it.  A lot."
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 11:38:29 PM by Millenium_King »

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Reply #64 on: July 22, 2010, 12:05:27 AM
Apologies for the double-post, but I usually post first, then read other people's reactions second so mine isn't colored.  I wanted to comment on an area Sgarre1 brought up:  pulp.  I'll be first to go on the record to say that I like pulpy stories.  My top three authors of all time are none other than Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and the venerable H.P. Lovecraft.

I am not sure I agree with Ben's definition of "pulp" as I certainly believe an analysis of a story like "The Call of Cthulhu" or even "Red Nails" (Conan!) can improve with analysis (for example - just what comments is "Red Nails" making about modern, encapsulated, civilized society?)

I think of a good "pulp" story as one which takes the "Rule of Cool" and runs with it.  The story is supposed to be fun first, and serious literature later.  Likewise, the story should maintain a serious penchant for being over the top - often in both language, characterization and plot.  That being said, I don't think the "pulp" label is enough to excuse glaring plotholes and exploitation-style sex scenes that seem pretty much tacked on.

In short, I think this story took itself far too seriously to be considered pulp.  A pulpy telling of it may have been possible, but this definately was not it.

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