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Author Topic: EP154: Union Dues - Freedom With a Small f  (Read 42228 times)

Chey

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Reply #40 on: April 21, 2008, 11:27:19 AM
I think Union Dues could use some super-villains.
Actually, I think The Union are the super-villains.

[/quote]

The Union is reminding me more and more of the Psy Corp out of Babylon 5.  There is nothing more terrifying than a bureaucracy with access to unlimited power.

As far as Crimson’s drug problem, I found it disturbing, but with her background as an orphan and the drug culture in her work place, I wasn’t too surprised to find she too was partaking.  I didn’t hear how long she was on the streets on her own before the Union discovered her and took her in.

I was caught by her saying, early in the story, that she was dying.  This was never returned to.  Or perhaps it was and I was too busy playing dodge ‘em on the beltway to hear.  Can the supers die from disease or neglect? 

Interesting series.  I’ve listened to the Union Dues stories, Mur’s Playing For Keeps, and Mercedes Lackey/Steve Libby’s The Secret World Chronicles, and am struck by how different each person brings to life basically the same idea.  Supers, good/bad, no one has it easy.

Also, I think the stories are getting more frustrating for me because it feels like the author is heading somewhere BIG.  A large plot arc, major development, a hard left....something, and the drips and drabs on Escape Pod aren't allowing him to feed us the arc properly.  I keep expecting, hoping really, to hear Union Dues has moved over to Podiobooks and is coming out in a longer, more book like form.

(edited due to short term memory issues.  What was I saying again?)
« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 11:39:33 AM by Chey »



Listener

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Reply #41 on: April 21, 2008, 12:22:26 PM
I've not listened to the story yet, but I just want to reference this post from the EP153 thread...
http://forum.escapeartists.info/index.php?topic=1501.msg24347#msg24347
I am apparently prescient.

Heh.  If it helps any, I had not read your comment when I scheduled this story.

As for lesser-known authors, I'm sympathetic to your viewpoint here.  But we're about to go into our Hugo run, so it's going to be at least a few more weeks.  (And you're guaranteed to get one more Resnick story in the next month, too.  He was Hugo-nominated.  My hands are tied.)  >8->



No worries.  I was joking around.

At least if it's Hugo-nominated, it'll probably be better than standard Resnick.  (Which isn't usually bad.)

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Listener

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Reply #42 on: April 21, 2008, 12:33:51 PM
I liked this one better than the previous. 

The title threw me a little -- Crimson has the freedom to do what she wants as long as she also does what the Union wants, and I get that.  But... I dunno, I'm not any good with titles myself.

The comment from "Michael King" is funny to me because in about eight hours, he'll be sitting at the desk next to mine.  (We work in the same department at the same TV station.)

Contrariwise to what others are saying, I don't think we need a supervillain in the Unionverse.  (See what I did there? :) )  If the Union had a supervillain to rally against, they would by nature have to be the good guys, and the Union itself... not so much.  The people, yes; the organization, no.

The references to money, more than anything, really brought the story home.  The last time I had to use a laundromat, I spent $5 total on all my laundry, and that was like six or seven loads through washer and dryer.  The cost of pizza and soda, not so out-of-line.  Does laundry really cost that much these days?

I think the author did a great job of getting into this character's head, especially her misery.  I might have appreciated a short paragraph about how she decided to start using coke.  Drinking is an easy one to fall into, but coke?  Coke takes effort.  And it's illegal.

For a short time I thought Crimson would be a vigilante.  Then I thought the Union would disavow any knowledge of her existence and sacrifice her for the greater good.  Which they did, but not in the way I expected.

A nice touch: how Alex Nova dehumanized her in the limo by not referring to her by her real name, just her Union name and her stripper name.  The Union is a dehumanizing organization, which is part of what makes them that much more evil.  And not just that low-grade evil that rubs off on everyone who touches it.  You know, like British Rail.  (Thank you, Terry Pratchett and perhaps Neil Gaiman; I don't remember if that's from Good Omens or a Discworld book.)

My favorite Union story was probably "Clowns", but this one is close to #2, if not already there.

I think we need a Union story that hearkens back to "Clowns", to the Union interacting with themselves, instead of one Union member out there in the world.

Whoever said "one every six months is good, one every six weeks not so much", I agree with.  They're not serialized enough, I think, to justify such a quick reappearance.  Unless there really isn't anything good out there that can trump U.D., in which case, I understand the selection, but that in itself depresses me.

Finally... deep down, I know JRD is just ITCHING to write the "Union members go on strike/rebel against the Union/take it down" story.  If it's not written already.  Maybe that'll be the novel... or the green-screen movie shot by Areakt/Rob Caves productions...

(CFL bulb appears above head.)

PS: I liked the reader.  Use her again please.

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gelee

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Reply #43 on: April 21, 2008, 05:34:56 PM
Another great piece from Jeff.  I can understand why some people don't enjoy the UD stories, and why this one in particular is getting hit so hard.  Super-hero pieces usually leave me cold.  I find them simplistic, two-dimensional, and utterly over the top.  The UD stories are, I think, the most realistic imagining of what a world with super-heroes might really be like.  This is challenging fiction, not *POW!* *BIFF!* *UMF!* stuff.  "Superfreinds" a la "Gattaca."  So I guess I'm not tired of UD yet.



contra

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Reply #44 on: April 21, 2008, 05:53:05 PM
I like Union Dues at hte best of times.  Its like an old friend.... keeps coming back, I have a good time and it leaves.

I don't know if the universe needs a supervillian... it would been to undermine the point of the universe.  They are propaganda spreading glory hogs who are only really to protect themselves from the people father than protect everyone else.

This story didn't really fit in that same vein for me.  I still liked it, and it didn't have the normal ending where you know for sure things are going to get better from now on.  The Union experimenting with giving heroes secret identities?  I'm not sure why... unless they want to put heroes back into the genetral population... but then they wouldn't be able to control them on the same level.  Ah wait... the hypnotic suggestions.  Hmm....
Meh.  I liked it enough and it made me think enough to come here and comment.  That the previous few stories haven't.  I don't know.  I didn't not like them... and I had nothing negative to say about them... but I liked this one.


And I keep playing that damn song at the end...
So when the compilation 'music to eat brains to' coming out wiuth all this awesome zombie music people are making?
>_>

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Mike---Glasgow.  Scotland.-->


DKT

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Reply #45 on: April 21, 2008, 06:51:27 PM
For me, this UD story was the most compulsive listen of the bunch.  It sucked me right in and didn't let go until Daikaiju fired up the closing music.  I felt like there were a couple times I had to stretch my suspension of disbelief (that was a hell of a hunch) but the writing was so strong, it really wasn't that hard.  I thought it was some of the best writing in the Unionverse  ;).  Well played.

I don't remember anyone else saying anything about the narration, but I thought Nuri's reading absolutely nailed it.  It sounded completely natural and perfectly paced. 


iankoenig

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Reply #46 on: April 21, 2008, 07:30:04 PM
Yeah, let me second the love for the song. I listened to it on Drabblecast the day before I listened to this EP episode, and I was really delighted the moment Steve mentioned he's playing it again.
Thirded.
Fantastic!

Where's a link for the song?  It was the only song to have made my laugh out loud driving to work over the last 6 months.  Its a share worthy classic in my mind.

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Darwinist

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Reply #47 on: April 21, 2008, 08:00:46 PM

Where's a link for the song?  It was the only song to have made my laugh out loud driving to work over the last 6 months.  Its a share worthy classic in my mind.

Check out the Drabblecast website.   

http://web.mac.com/normsherman/iWeb/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html
« Last Edit: April 21, 2008, 08:03:59 PM by Darwinist »

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Roney

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Reply #48 on: April 21, 2008, 09:23:45 PM
I don't remember anyone else saying anything about the narration, but I thought Nuri's reading absolutely nailed it.  It sounded completely natural and perfectly paced. 

Definitely.  I thought this was an above-average Union Dues story anyway, but the reading really sold it.

Some of the previous stories have elaborated on aspects of the Union that didn't seem surprising for a bureaucracy out of control.  To me this was the first unpredictable development.  Beyond the PR and the self-preservation of any large organization, what are the people at the top, the ones with discretionary power, running for their special ops?  And this special op was an interesting one.

Other than that, I liked the parallel lack of glamour in the portrayal of two professions (stripper and superheroine) that like to glamorize themselves.  I also liked the fact that the various parallels (of which there do seem to be many: really, Union members are on a par with strippers in this universe) weren't laboured.  As usual with Union Dues, I found I cared about what happened to the viewpoint character by the end.

Less positively, either there were continuity gaps in the plot or gaps in my attention (I'd have said the latter but other posters' comments mentioned the same things), and it could probably have lost a few words.  These didn't bother me as much as they might have.



gelee

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Reply #49 on: April 22, 2008, 02:08:58 PM
Other than that, I liked the parallel lack of glamour in the portrayal of two professions (stripper and superheroine) that like to glamorize themselves.  I also liked the fact that the various parallels (of which there do seem to be many: really, Union members are on a par with strippers in this universe) weren't laboured.  As usual with Union Dues, I found I cared about what happened to the viewpoint character by the end.
Neat insight.  I missed it in the first time through.



eclipse

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Reply #50 on: April 22, 2008, 07:49:31 PM
Quote from: Thaurismuths
I wonder if there's something going on stylistically and JR is being too subtle, or if it's a fault of the medium?

It's neither, at least as far as I am concerned.

i have to agree.
maybe i should have been more specific. i could say i learn about the union. but i don't CARE. i'm not interested in one more soul-smashing, beaurocratic, systemic manifestation of human mediocrity and incompetance....systemic evil is depressing, it's not educating. here lets see how many ways we can fail to organize in productive ways! ....no thanks, i'll take the liver and brussel sprouts instead, please.

now, make it a personal evil instead...then you've got my attention.

Mod: Fixed quote formatting
« Last Edit: April 22, 2008, 08:26:58 PM by Heradel »



Peter Tupper

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Reply #51 on: April 22, 2008, 08:38:31 PM
I found this story confusing. Was the drinking, drugs and dyslexia part of her cover story, part of the "template"? If so, a drunk, coked-out dyslexic super-agile is not an effective crimefighter. (I half-expected that she was going completely paranoid when she thought the guys in the club were connected with the kidnapped baby.) Furthermore, if she is deep cover, why was there no emergency procedure for her to make contact, like a code word or secret 1-800 number?

I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

As a side note, I'm wondering about something I've noticed in the Union Dues stories, Mur Lafferty's Playing for Keeps, the Secret World anthologies and other prose versions of the superhero genre. The authors keep making their superhumans members of large, bureaucratic, state-sanctioned, hierarchical organizations, with lots of Silver Age trappings (skyscrapers, jets, etc). They're bureaucrats with superpowers, not superheroes, closer to Jack Bauer than Batman.

You can compare this with Neil Gaiman's Eternals for Marvel and Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory, both of which try to put the "hero" back in "superhero" by rejecting realism and investing characters with mythic significance and making them players in vast cosmic, Jack Kirby-based mythologies. What's lacking in the Union Dues stories and the other works cited above is that sensawonda, IMHO.



ScottC

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Reply #52 on: April 22, 2008, 11:01:58 PM
Much like the books of Le Carre isn't James Bond, Union Dues is not Superman. 

I think the 'experiment' could be seen several ways.  Can an Union member live outside the system without revealing her abilities?   Would she still 'save the day' or keep her head down?  What is life really like on the outside?

Oh, is there a wiki or something about the Union Dues universe? 



Steven Saus

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Reply #53 on: April 22, 2008, 11:25:13 PM
I think Jeffrey R. DeRego should get this story illustrated by Frank Miller.   I kept thinking of Nancy Callahan throughout.   

I should clarify:  That is high praise from me.   The last one or two Union Dues stories were nice, but didn't suck me in against my will, painting pictures in my head.   This one did, and I'm grateful.

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Thaurismunths

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Reply #54 on: April 23, 2008, 02:09:38 AM
Quote from: Thaurismuths
I wonder if there's something going on stylistically and JR is being too subtle, or if it's a fault of the medium?

It's neither, at least as far as I am concerned.

i have to agree.
maybe i should have been more specific. i could say i learn about the union. but i don't CARE. i'm not interested in one more soul-smashing, beaurocratic, systemic manifestation of human mediocrity and incompetance....systemic evil is depressing, it's not educating. here lets see how many ways we can fail to organize in productive ways! ....no thanks, i'll take the liver and brussel sprouts instead, please.

now, make it a personal evil instead...then you've got my attention.

Mod: Fixed quote formatting
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Old Man Parker

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Reply #55 on: April 23, 2008, 02:17:34 AM
The Best Union Dues story yet! Freakin awesome!

A stripper, with a heart of gold, super powers, and a drug habit, in a dark almost cyber-punk reality, who kicks ass?!?!? Does it get any better?

I think not!

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sirana

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Reply #56 on: April 23, 2008, 07:58:16 AM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...



stePH

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Reply #57 on: April 23, 2008, 12:52:17 PM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...

I'd find Antarctica (as described in the prior UD story; can't remember which) preferable by far to the life she was living.

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ScottC

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Reply #58 on: April 23, 2008, 01:01:56 PM
I get the idea that the protagonist is getting screwed over by the organization she works for, but it seems so blatant and so pointless that I don't know why she doesn't quit. Unless that's part of her mind-control template too.

Because she would get sent to Antarctica if she did. To me that would be a hell of an incentive...

I'd find Antarctica (as described in the prior UD story; can't remember which) preferable by far to the life she was living.

I'm not so sure.  I bet Union members have been drilled that The Village is a fate worse than death.



stePH

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Reply #59 on: April 23, 2008, 01:06:12 PM
I bet Union members have been drilled that The Village is a fate worse than death.

True ... only those who have been there know what it's like.  Most never return, and those who do aren't talking about it (or more likely spread misinformation).

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