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Author Topic: EP156: Distant Replay  (Read 25448 times)
qwints
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A fine idea, but who bells cat?


« Reply #40 on: May 06, 2008, 02:20:05 PM »


I imagine it's more a matter of the number of readers that would be able to relate to the protagonist. An adult can remember what it was like to be a teenager, but a teenager doesn't have the life experience to fully relate to an adult protagonist. The number of people who have the experience to know what it's like to be a 70 year old man is naturally small, which reduces the effectiveness of the story on the readership as a whole. This doesn't mean that children shouldn't read stories about adults, or that adults shouldn't read about the elderly, just that there's a missing element in the experience.

I think that having a close relationship with an elder can give you an idea of that kind of experience. For example, the narrator in this story reminded me of my grandfather and that's why the story affected me so strongly.

Reaction might also split based on who has a significant other who they see as a soulmate.
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Rain
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« Reply #41 on: May 06, 2008, 03:20:20 PM »

My play-by-play of the story :

5 minutes in : That old guy sure is creepy.
10 minutes in ; Yup, still with the creepy.
20 minutes in : What is the point of this story?
31 minutes in : Oh, i get it, there Was no point.

Can anyone explain this story to me? There was maybe 5 minutes of actual content stretched into 30 minutes of endless repeat.

The reading was ok, it did a good job of emulating the way an old man would think,, but it was perhaps too good since it got annoying real fast, but maybe that is because the main character was completely unlikable.

I dont know much about the Hugo awards but if this is the kind of fluff that gets nominated i have a hard time taking it seriously.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 03:28:36 PM by Rain » Logged
JoeFitz
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« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2008, 04:15:00 PM »

My play-by-play of the story :

5 minutes in : That old guy sure is creepy.
10 minutes in ; Yup, still with the creepy.
20 minutes in : What is the point of this story?
31 minutes in : Oh, i get it, there Was no point.

Can anyone explain this story to me? There was maybe 5 minutes of actual content stretched into 30 minutes of endless repeat.

The reading was ok, it did a good job of emulating the way an old man would think,, but it was perhaps too good since it got annoying real fast, but maybe that is because the main character was completely unlikable.

I dont know much about the Hugo awards but if this is the kind of fluff that gets nominated i have a hard time taking it seriously.

While hardly my favourite EP, I feel that I have to suggest that you listen again.

An old man just lost his wife of many decades, and then he randomly sees a young woman looks just like his wife at that age. Turns out the woman has the same name, job, dislikes and tastes as his wife had. He spends time with her. She breaks up with her boyfriend. He falls in love with her, but she doesn't fall in love with him. He finds out he's going to die. He randomly meets a young man who reminds him eerily of himself, who has just broken up with his girlfriend. He makes plans to introduce the young people to each other.

Why did you think the main character was unlikeable?
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Anarkey
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« Reply #43 on: May 06, 2008, 05:04:04 PM »

While in general I liked this story better than most Resnick offerings, and I thought it had some great moments, and the reading was excellent, I have to ditto Rain on the creeptasticness of the protagonist.  Add to that a dose of smug ('I'll fix you up with this lovely girl, you HAVE to like her') and I found that the main character was pretty unlikeable myself.

However, I was still able to empathize with him, and I still liked the story.  Maybe it spoke to my inner creep or something.  I like that Resnick chose to portray an older man, with all the frailties and foibles that are available to such a character. I'd like to hear and read more stories with old people in them, quite frankly.  I'm a little tired of stories where everyone is between 18-25, given that I find people of that age boring most of the time (sorry, ageist, I know!  I believe your boring 20 year old self should have the same rights and privileges and make wages commensurate with your skill regardless of experience, if that makes you feel better). 

Anyway, score one for Resnick, though like Rain, I find this story peculiarly mushy to be a Hugo offering.  I had the Edward Bear sentimentality issue with it, though not nearly as bad as with Edward Bear.  The Benadryl remained safe in the cabinet throughout this episode of the podcast, and I only sneezed twice.  I'm kind of boggled by the sentimentality streak that I've been shown SF geeks have through the EP forums, and I'm still thinking about that and trying to work out what it might mean.  (By contrast, Tideline appeals to sentiment without being sentimental, IMO, not that I'm voting for the Hugos or anything). 

Also, thanks for providing the story background, mike-resnick, I find that stuff fascinating.
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eytanz
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« Reply #44 on: May 06, 2008, 05:20:25 PM »

I can easily see how this story can be viewed as overly mushy - I think the main reason I didn't view it as that myself is that it's been pretty long since I last read/heard something as explicitly sentimental. It's something I can enjoy every once in a while, but not if I'm exposed to it too often.

But I'm surprised at people finding the protagonist creepy. I just don't see that. I can see why his initial behavior can give a somewhat odd impression, but I think it's negated pretty quickly. Definitely not still there at 10 minutes in. I'm wondering if Rain or Anarkey would elaborate on that a bit - what is it about him or his behavior that makes him creepy?

I do agree on the smug note of the ending, by the way, but I excused it on the fact that it was the ending. If the story had continued one more sentence, then the current last sentence would have been intolerable.
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Anarkey
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« Reply #45 on: May 06, 2008, 06:30:35 PM »

But I'm surprised at people finding the protagonist creepy. I just don't see that. I can see why his initial behavior can give a somewhat odd impression, but I think it's negated pretty quickly. Definitely not still there at 10 minutes in. I'm wondering if Rain or Anarkey would elaborate on that a bit - what is it about him or his behavior that makes him creepy?

Rain will have to do her own elaborating, but for my part, there's a lot of stalkerly behavior justified in internal monologue by 'I can't be a stalker because I can't get it up'.  No.  Dude.  Your ability to fulfill the sexual act is independent of behaving like a stalker.  And engaging in a lot of convincing yourself as to how you're not a stalker is probably a solid signal that you're behaving like a stalker.  Also, the tests he keeps devising by inviting her to stuff his Deirdre hated or mentioning things he knows she won't like?  Ugh.  How much of that is justified before one is just being a jackass?  There are more instances than the narrative rule of three generally calls for, so I can only deduce he enjoys running young Deirdre through the gamut of emotion, and that it's a point about his character that he keeps testing her.  She also pretty clearly gives off 'leave me alone' signals (verbally and physically) at the beginning which he ignores, though she does seem to be persuaded by the weirdness of it all to tolerate him, and they do seem to move on to a genuine friendship at some point.  Still, after their friendship is well-established he continues to use her company for wish fulfillment (and is cognizant of it), and yet isn't at all perturbed by his use of her in this way.  It has some interesting parallels, now that I give it some thought, to the clone story, where the girl made another version of herself to get away from creepy controlling insecure guy.  In this case, had the protag not been given a death sentence, he might have continued to use Deirdre as his surrogate lover indefinitely.  It's only because he is about to check out that he works to give her a chance at her own happiness.  IOW, he doesn't become an altruist until he doesn't need her anymore (though I'll admit there's other plot elements, such as the boyfriend breakup which apply at that point).  Still, it's enough to justify a sense of creepiness for me, that's for sure.

Again, I liked the story.  But I can totally see the creepy and felt it myself, to some degree.
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crowsdream
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« Reply #46 on: May 06, 2008, 07:15:18 PM »

There are so few things that give meaning to life. This story reminded me that my future wife is one of them. I listened while walking around the mall, and I noticed a lot of older couples holding hands and laughing everywhere. I suppose that that kind of connection goes on since the beginning of time, and it will go on and on... The reader was amazing!
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qwints
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A fine idea, but who bells cat?


« Reply #47 on: May 06, 2008, 08:34:18 PM »

On the creepiness thing:

If the story hadn't been in the context of magical realism (e.g. if it had been on Pseduopod) he would have been really creepy. I don't think that the continued testing is any way cruel. Is it really that traumatizing to be asked to go to a movie you don't like?
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DKT
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« Reply #48 on: May 06, 2008, 10:41:33 PM »

On the creepiness thing:

If the story hadn't been in the context of magical realism (e.g. if it had been on Pseduopod) he would have been really creepy. I don't think that the continued testing is any way cruel. Is it really that traumatizing to be asked to go to a movie you don't like?

Depends.  If you ask my wife to go see Cloverfield again, I'd say yes Smiley
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Drabbler
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« Reply #49 on: May 06, 2008, 10:59:15 PM »

I know I'm probably the only one who thinks this but I really don't like Steve Anderson's readings.  I know this is subjective, but every story I hear him read I feel the same way.  Every sentence...is groaned out...and has a big...emphasis...on everything.   From the start... to finish... he uses the same inflection...on everything.
C'mon.
"Trying too hard" sums it up for me.  In audiofiction, story is 1/3 and story telling is 2/3.
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birdless
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Five is right out.


« Reply #50 on: May 06, 2008, 11:14:53 PM »

I know I'm probably the only one who thinks this but I really don't like Steve Anderson's readings.  I know this is subjective, but every story I hear him read I feel the same way.  Every sentence...is groaned out...and has a big...emphasis...on everything.   From the start... to finish... he uses the same inflection...on everything.
C'mon.
"Trying too hard" sums it up for me.  In audiofiction, story is 1/3 and story telling is 2/3.
You aren't the only one. I thought his voice would have been good for this week's PC Hotel Astarte, but not this particular story.
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Windup
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« Reply #51 on: May 06, 2008, 11:22:44 PM »

On this one, I guess I'm just another member of the camp that found it OK, but not overwhelming.  

I didn't find the narrator's behavior creepy, since we knew why he was doing it, though I was surprised that the woman agreed to have dinner with him on a regular basis.  It makes sense to me that having identified some sort of larger (and apparently benign) force at work, trying to understand how to cooperate with it an play the right role is the right thing to do.  

As for the "soulmate" thing, the problem that I see with it is that it gives too much emphasis to who comes into the relationship, and not enough on what they put into it.  Love, to my mind, is mostly a matter of doing what is right for the relationship, and putting the needs of the relationship first. (Note that sometimes, the right thing is to take care of yourself.) I'll grant that this seems easier with the "right" person, but getting it done is more important than your reason for doing so.

I thought the narrator was a great pick for this story, too...
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #52 on: May 07, 2008, 06:07:41 AM »

Rain will have to do her own elaborating, but for my part, there's a lot of stalkerly behavior justified in internal monologue by 'I can't be a stalker because I can't get it up'.  No.  Dude.  Your ability to fulfill the sexual act is independent of behaving like a stalker. 

... She also pretty clearly gives off 'leave me alone' signals (verbally and physically) at the beginning which he ignores, though she does seem to be persuaded by the weirdness of it all to tolerate him, and they do seem to move on to a genuine friendship at some point. 

... Still, it's enough to justify a sense of creepiness for me, that's for sure.

Again, I liked the story.  But I can totally see the creepy and felt it myself, to some degree.

Alright, let me preface these remarks by saying that I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Resnick; I don't intend anything here to disparage his skills or track record as a writer.  If I ever manage to get published, I hope to maintain the grounded sense of dignity and good sportsmanship that he has shown by wading in with the opinionated masses here in the forums on occasion.

However, part of my defense of Old Walter lies in a writerly flaw; I don't think the patterns of creepiness that Anarkey picked up on (and I assume the same is true for Rain to some extent) came from Mike Resnick trying to convince his audience that Walter is not a stalker, rather than from Walter trying to convince himself that his motives are ... less unpure.  To his credit, the line was less crude than "I can't get it up, so I can't be a stalker"; it was phrased in a way that seemed more like an aside, and I thought it was meant to dispel any audience associations with Lolita.  I think it was a mistake on the part of the author, because a) at 31, Didi is no Lolita, and b) it put the sex angle into the mind of the reader - which made it sound creepier (as evidenced by Anarkey's comments) than intended.

The other part of my defense, though, should compliment Mr. Resnick's sensibilities.  I think it's quite uncharitable to call Walter's behavior creepy and compare him to a stalker.  He's lonely, for one thing; that should be obvious.  He's also confronted with the person he is missing most - not just a close resemblance, but the *real* thing, right down to the perfume. 

If you've spent any time around the elderly you notice two things: they are very intensely interested in you once you get their attention (which can be confused with "unwelcome attention") and their more distant memories are far more real and relevant than anything happening in their present.  You can see both traits at play in this story.

And I wonder, if it had been Didi who had survived (since statistically, women tend to outlive their men) would you have had the same qualms about her finding her young Walter?  Would you be bothered by her behavior?  I'm sure that if Mr. Resnick had written the story with an elderly female protagonist, the idea that she was looking to bed the younger version of her dead spouse would not have even been raised.

I may not have convinced you that Walter is less creepy... but I hope I've made you reconsider how you judge real old-timers!  (Because I've been feeling like one of them since that last birthday.  Tongue )


As for the "soulmate" thing, the problem that I see with it is that it gives too much emphasis to who comes into the relationship, and not enough on what they put into it.  Love, to my mind, is mostly a matter of doing what is right for the relationship, and putting the needs of the relationship first. (Note that sometimes, the right thing is to take care of yourself.) I'll grant that this seems easier with the "right" person, but getting it done is more important than your reason for doing so.


Absolutely!  That attitude has a lot to do with "not being sure", too.  If you're too busy looking for "that exciting feeling", you will probably miss the stable, loving relationship that you claim you want.
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« Reply #53 on: May 07, 2008, 06:57:40 AM »

my favorite quote on that is here Yogi Berra

Stepping in here as a moderator.  When you're referring to a seven word quote, just put in the quote instead of linking to a page where the quote is down the page.  It just makes things a little easier.
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Biscuit
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« Reply #54 on: May 07, 2008, 04:42:17 PM »

Sometimes I feel we over-analyse. Discourse is great, but sometimes a simple love story is a simple love story.

While some may disparage the sentimentality of a Simple Love Story, or find less than savoury meanings that weren't intended (is that a generation thing? Has the media primed us to find a creep in every seeming good deed?), Mike Resnick makes it flow so effortlessly, makes the emotion effective without being cheesey, that the simplicity should be applauded.

In an age where some writers seem to be throwing out a "Beat THIS!" with their technical wankery, it's refreshing to have someone write WELL about the simple things in life. As I've said before I'm not a big fan of over-sentimental SF&F, but I am always impressed by someone who can write it without making it glurg.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 04:45:58 PM by Biscuit » Logged

eytanz
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« Reply #55 on: May 07, 2008, 05:01:01 PM »

(is that a generation thing? Has the media primed us to find a creep in every seeming good deed

You know, I didn't really have time today to respond to Anarkey properly, and I was sort of hoping Rain would post as well, but I agree with this worry, as well as with what TAD posted. It seems to me, especially after reading Anarkey's post, that to interpret the man's actions as creepy we need to be subconciously primed for an excuse to do so - it is a reflection of a society where basic human interaction is discouraged outside of very narrowly prescribed social bounderies, where an old man taking any type of interest in a younger woman, for whatever reason, is viewed with suspicion and possible disgust. Where any overture which is not immediately welcomed is viewed as unwelcome attention. Where openness is interpreted as either vulnerability or creepiness, depending on who exhibits it.

Not, mind you, that I'm saying that that is Anarkey's attitude, or Rain's attitude. What I'm saying is that that is the underlying current in our society, and that it affects all our attitudes to some degree.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 05:29:46 PM by eytanz » Logged
qwints
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A fine idea, but who bells cat?


« Reply #56 on: May 07, 2008, 11:48:47 PM »

Just to play devil's advocate, there are real reasons for being creeped out by the protagonist. A feminist reading of the passage could focus on the woman's unhealthy need to find her identity as a wife and the old man as the voice of the patriarchy forcing her into an eternity of subjugation. I don't think that would be a proper reading of the story and an actual literary critic would be much more subtle.
With that kind of critique in mind, this quote made me think.
Quote from: eytanz link=topic=1577.msg26257#msg26257
date=1210197661
It seems to me, especially after reading Anarkey's post, that to interpret the man's actions as creepy we need to be subconciously primed for an excuse to do so - it is a reflection of a society where basic human interaction is discouraged outside of very narrowly prescribed social bounderies, where an old man taking any type of interest in a younger woman, for whatever reason, is viewed with suspicion and possible disgust. Where any overture which is not immediately welcomed is viewed as unwelcome attention. Where openness is interpreted as either vulnerability or creepiness, depending on who exhibits it.

Not, mind you, that I'm saying that that is Anarkey's attitude, or Rain's attitude. What I'm saying is that that is the underlying current in our society, and that it affects all our attitudes to some degree.
Although Mr. Resnick's comments early in the thread make me discard this as intentional, there is an element in this story which could be an argument that social taboos constantly restrict us from our true happiness. Think of all the people you come in contact with in a modern society who you never even acknowledge the existence of. The idea that your soulmate could be a local stranger is a powerful one. Given the restrictions we place on our interactions with strangers for well founded reasons,  I could run into a best friend or a soul mate regularly without a prayer of ever getting to know them.

As I think about it, young Dede's passivity does start to bother me. The internal conflict she has between the fear of being alone and the fear of ending up with the wrong person is a very believable one, but the only thing we see her do is fret over her dilemma. I guess I need to see the protagonist as a fairy godmother type figure who steps into to save the day. I can't help liking the story, but the more I think about it, the more powerful I think a good feminist critique of it would be.

*edited for a formatting error
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 11:54:38 PM by qwints » Logged

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cuddlebug
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« Reply #57 on: May 08, 2008, 04:24:48 AM »

(is that a generation thing? Has the media primed us to find a creep in every seeming good deed

It seems to me, especially after reading Anarkey's post, that to interpret the man's actions as creepy we need to be subconciously primed for an excuse to do so - it is a reflection of a society where basic human interaction is discouraged outside of very narrowly prescribed social bounderies, where an old man taking any type of interest in a younger woman, for whatever reason, is viewed with suspicion and possible disgust. Where any overture which is not immediately welcomed is viewed as unwelcome attention.

... or in extreme cases HARASSMENT.

Where openness is interpreted as either vulnerability or creepiness, depending on who exhibits it.

I heard someone say something on this issue once which kind of stuck with me. He said "Flirting is only considered flirting as long as it is welcome, when it's not welcome it becomes harassment."

To my mind, the interesting thing in this story is, how the interpretation of Walter's behavior changes from being considered creepy or stalker..ly (?) to the behavior of a concerned friend who is doing one last good deed for his wife's Doppelgänger/reincarnation.

I have to say, I personally did not find his actions creepy at all, what did bother me though, was that he had to keep defending his behavior, by reassuring her, that he had no ulterior motives and does not intend to bed her. So going along with what has been said before, it seems like we are living in a society where our behavior has to be guarded at all times for fear of harassing others.... even if this means we are not actually doing and saying the things we might want to. Kind of sad, isn't it?
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eytanz
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« Reply #58 on: May 08, 2008, 05:24:40 AM »

Where openness is interpreted as either vulnerability or creepiness, depending on who exhibits it.

I heard someone say something on this issue once which kind of stuck with me. He said "Flirting is only considered flirting as long as it is welcome, when it's not welcome it becomes harassment."


I'm not entirely sure if you are agreeing with me or disagreeing with me. In any case, I should point out that continuing to flirt with someone AFTER they make it known that it is unwelcome is harassment. What I was railing against is the fact that we seem to have shifted to a society where you are prejudged - if you flirt with someone, or otherwise show attention, it is retroactively harassment unless the response is positive. I certainly think people need to respect other people's right to say "no", but I think "no" applies to the future - all else being kosher (i.e. the two parties involved are adults and there are no other special factors) it means "stop", not "you were wrong to try".
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cuddlebug
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« Reply #59 on: May 08, 2008, 05:55:20 AM »

Thanks for clearing that up. ... and yes, I was agreeing with you.
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