Author Topic: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus  (Read 18964 times)

Heradel

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PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« on: May 23, 2008, 12:13:55 PM »
PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus

By M. K. Hobson
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod).
First appeared in ChiZine: Treatments of Light and Shade in Words.

I see a seahorse. It is curled like a question mark on the sand. I pick it up and show it to her.

“Ah!” she says, her delight surprisingly intense. She’s a woman who takes intense delight in very few things, I’ve found. “Your hippocampus! How clever of you to have found it!”


Rated PG. Contains immoral characters and crunchy dreams.



Why PodCaslte miniatures? According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brievity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.

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« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 06:32:13 PM by Heradel »
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eytanz

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PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2008, 12:24:09 PM »
Oh, this is how flash fiction should be - small, self contained, but delivering a story far larger than the word count would suggest. There was so much left unsaid but conveyed nonetheless - this was not only a fun story, but it's a supreme example of the craft.

And no intro explaining the fact that "Hippo" in hippocampus means horse or pointing out that swiss bank accounts are secret and therefore used by criminals to hide their ill-gotten gains, leading to all sort of possible double-crosses! Yay! Thanks Rachel & co. for taking the feedback on board!
« Last Edit: May 23, 2008, 12:25:41 PM by eytanz »

Chivalrybean

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Re: PC Miniature: 004
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2008, 03:07:29 PM »
I was totally confused when I heard Steve, I was like, where was my Escape Pod intro?! Once I figured it out, all was good. I really enjoyed this story. Many times in flash fiction, I've been left with a "What?! Huh?" but this time I was left understanding everything I needed to know for the story. Thanks for the story!
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Kaa

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2008, 05:00:23 PM »
Now, here's a flash piece I can sink my teeth into. (No pun intended. Really!)

I loved it doubly because I once lost a turn at Balderdash because my definition for 'hippocampus' was 'a seahorse-shaped region of the brain associated with memory' and they wanted 'a mythical beast that is part horse and part dolphin' or something like that. I insisted I was right, but....

So, take that, Balderdash! Take THAT!  I was right, dammit. I deserved those three points.

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JoeFitz

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2008, 08:17:31 PM »
Lovely! Left a lot unsaid but captured everything it needed.

Great catch (pun inevitable)!

Sylvan

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2008, 06:28:32 PM »
Whoa.

Just "whoa".

Ok, that was nice, like an aperitif of evil.  Are you sure this would not belong on PseudoPod?  :)

I think there's something inherent in the concept of losing one's memories and mind that makes it fundamentally frightening and disturbing.  Very nice!

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cuddlebug

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2008, 08:19:31 PM »
I'll have to agree with everyone who's praised this 'little' story, I hope it can cope with the weight of all those compliments, but then again it actually really was a 'huge' story when it comes to the images it was able to convey in just a few minutes.

I think Flash Fiction is one of the hardest things to do in this genre, it is really tricky to get it right, since there is so little room to manoeuvre and entice the audience into a setting and plot with just a few words, without the opportunity to give vital information, a lot has to be left to the imagination. I just wanted to mention, I really am amazed and fascinated when I come across one that is so good, since I appreciate the 'craftsmanship'.

If Flash Fiction is done right and the writing is as good as this one, the story comes to life in the listener's mind, and this story seems to be exactly right as far as filling in the gaps and the reader 'constructing' it goes. Quite an accomplishment. WELL DONE. More like this please.

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2008, 09:12:30 PM »
Nah, fun little story, but way too obvious. At the first mention of hippocampus, the link to the brain was clear. After that, it was just a matter of getting to the end.

Also, it sounded like the pun was the basis for the whole tale. If I want puns for the sake of puns, I'll read Piers Anthony. Wich I don't.

Chivalrybean

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2008, 05:19:12 AM »
Wasn't obvious to me since I thought Hippocampus was the scientific name of a seahorse or something until learned otherwise, I think while listening to Seventh Son Book One.
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JoeFitz

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2008, 02:47:35 AM »
Hippocampus is the scientific name for the genus that includes sea horses and the name for a pair of structures in the human brain.

Apparently, a human hippocampus looks like a sea horse (at least to some guy in 1564).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippocampus


Listener

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2008, 12:52:24 PM »
I got the hippo/horse reference pretty quickly, and I agree with Sylvan that this would've been equally good on PP.  I really liked the idea of memories being stored elsewhere, somewhere tiny, but destructible if someone finds it.  Which makes me wonder... if a predator had eaten the seahorse, what would've happened to the memories?  Does that explain amnesia?
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ajames

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2008, 12:30:16 AM »
I got the hippo/horse reference pretty quickly, and I agree with Sylvan that this would've been equally good on PP.  I really liked the idea of memories being stored elsewhere, somewhere tiny, but destructible if someone finds it.  Which makes me wonder... if a predator had eaten the seahorse, what would've happened to the memories?  Does that explain amnesia?

Great piece of flash fiction but I wouldn't over-analyze it. Otherwise you start getting into questions like "If it was long term memory stored in the seahorse, then why couldn't he remember what they were just talking about (short term memory) before she ate the seahorse?" and "As the seahorse was dead, does that mean that he could no longer store new long term memories? Or did some other seahorse start taking his memories? What happens to him now?" and "If the memories are stored IN the seahorse, and are transmitted via antennae, but the seahorse dies, why didn't the man lose his long term memories when the seahorse died, versus when it was finally consumed by something else?" and "If she consumes the seahorse and gets his long term memories, do these memories now get transmitted to some other seahorse, and how does she keep whose memories are who's straight? Or does she?" and, well, you get the picture.

Good thing I don't over-analyze things.

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2008, 01:07:05 AM »
Great piece of flash fiction but I wouldn't over-analyze it. Otherwise you start getting into questions like "If it was long term memory stored in the seahorse, then why couldn't he remember what they were just talking about (short term memory) before she ate the seahorse?" and "As the seahorse was dead, does that mean that he could no longer store new long term memories? Or did some other seahorse start taking his memories? What happens to him now?" and "If the memories are stored IN the seahorse, and are transmitted via antennae, but the seahorse dies, why didn't the man lose his long term memories when the seahorse died, versus when it was finally consumed by something else?" and "If she consumes the seahorse and gets his long term memories, do these memories now get transmitted to some other seahorse, and how does she keep whose memories are who's straight? Or does she?" and, well, you get the picture.

Good thing I don't over-analyze things.
Ha!! Glad i'm not the only one who "doesn't" over-analyze things. I "didn't" ask myself these same questions. But, yeah, it was still fun.

Chivalrybean

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2008, 09:41:03 PM »
Great piece of flash fiction but I wouldn't over-analyze it. Otherwise you start getting into questions like "If it was long term memory stored in the seahorse, then why couldn't he remember what they were just talking about (short term memory) before she ate the seahorse?" and "As the seahorse was dead, does that mean that he could no longer store new long term memories? Or did some other seahorse start taking his memories? What happens to him now?" and "If the memories are stored IN the seahorse, and are transmitted via antennae, but the seahorse dies, why didn't the man lose his long term memories when the seahorse died, versus when it was finally consumed by something else?" and "If she consumes the seahorse and gets his long term memories, do these memories now get transmitted to some other seahorse, and how does she keep whose memories are who's straight? Or does she?" and, well, you get the picture.

Good thing I don't over-analyze things.
Ha!! Glad i'm not the only one who "doesn't" over-analyze things. I "didn't" ask myself these same questions. But, yeah, it was still fun.

I find if the story leaves me with a total understanding of the point and what happened, I don't over analyze. When it leaves me with unanswered questions, I start a-thinkin'.
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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2008, 09:53:01 PM »
I have to differ from the majority opinion here and say that this one just didn't do anything for me.

Or in the words of Mr. Horse: "No sir, I didn't like it."

So far I've been greatly underwhelmed by all of the Podcastle "miniatures".
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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2008, 10:20:14 PM »
I find if the story leaves me with a total understanding of the point and what happened, I don't over analyze. When it leaves me with unanswered questions, I start a-thinkin'.

I'd have to agree on this point.  It isn't that the reader *can't* overanalyze... some people can't help themselves.  But at least in my own case, if the story feels complete and satisfies my literary palette, I can discard the questions that might otherwise gnaw incessently at my mind.  This story satisfied me enough that I didn't feel compelled to dwell on any seemingly unanswered questions.

My favorite miniature so far.

cuddlebug

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2008, 04:53:39 PM »
I find if the story leaves me with a total understanding of the point and what happened, I don't over analyze. When it leaves me with unanswered questions, I start a-thinkin'.

I'd have to agree on this point.  It isn't that the reader *can't* overanalyze... some people can't help themselves.  But at least in my own case, if the story feels complete and satisfies my literary palette, I can discard the questions that might otherwise gnaw incessently at my mind.  This story satisfied me enough that I didn't feel compelled to dwell on any seemingly unanswered questions.

My favorite miniature so far.

See, I love the analysis part. The best stories are the ones that make me think further and imagine a whole world that is only hinted at in the actual story, where my understanding of that world can only be developed by asking those questions. And that is exactly what makes SF so fun to read/watch/listen to (as it is discussed in this thread), it can give me an idea (one that contains scientific elements in an unusual setting with 'probably improbable probabilities', haha!) and it makes me come up with all kinds of questions about consequences and repercussions ...etc. etc. etc.

Ok, will stop waffling now.

My point was: Nothing wrong with overanalyzing, IMHO.

Nobilis

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2008, 10:12:08 PM »
I give it a solid "Cute."

Given that you need to have a certain amount of knowledge of neuroanatomy to get the joke, I wonder how many people would get it.

Chivalrybean

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2008, 05:21:43 AM »
I find if the story leaves me with a total understanding of the point and what happened, I don't over analyze. When it leaves me with unanswered questions, I start a-thinkin'.

I'd have to agree on this point.  It isn't that the reader *can't* overanalyze... some people can't help themselves.  But at least in my own case, if the story feels complete and satisfies my literary palette, I can discard the questions that might otherwise gnaw incessently at my mind.  This story satisfied me enough that I didn't feel compelled to dwell on any seemingly unanswered questions.

My favorite miniature so far.

See, I love the analysis part. The best stories are the ones that make me think further and imagine a whole world that is only hinted at in the actual story, where my understanding of that world can only be developed by asking those questions. And that is exactly what makes SF so fun to read/watch/listen to (as it is discussed in this thread), it can give me an idea (one that contains scientific elements in an unusual setting with 'probably improbable probabilities', haha!) and it makes me come up with all kinds of questions about consequences and repercussions ...etc. etc. etc.

Ok, will stop waffling now.

My point was: Nothing wrong with overanalyzing, IMHO.

Well, I really do like stories that leave you thinking, and this one did, so perhaps I should clarify what I meant. I don't like stories that leave me annoying questions. Stories that end just after a close, but leave a lot more story to be told, are great. You then can wonder what the sequel would be like (and then wonder how horrible it would be if it were a movie). I'll give an example of a bad unanswered question: It was a future story about convicts who worked for the space postal service. Skipping to the end, the guy defeated the bag guys on his ship, was going to send a body back with a little surprise to the enemy ship and then... the story ended. I didn't give a rip if the package made it, it really didn't matter for this story, but what mattered what did the guy survive? I'm leaving out tons of the story, but I liked the character a lot for reasons I didn't say, so I wanted to know if he made it, but I'll never know. So, after all that, what I mean is I don't like stories that have parts missing that should be present, and many times short fiction can have that effect. What I liked about Hippocampus was, with all the brevity of the story, everything I needed to know was there, and I could imagine what happened next, what happens when she eats lots of people's memories, etc, but this story didn't have any confusing parts where I sent time going 'huh?' and missing the next part of the story and now that I got distracted and totally lost my train of thought, I'll end here.
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birdless

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Re: PC Miniature 004: Hippocampus
« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2008, 05:59:06 AM »
Well, I really do like stories that leave you thinking, and this one did, so perhaps I should clarify what I meant. I don't like stories that leave me annoying questions. Stories that end just after a close, but leave a lot more story to be told, are great. You then can wonder what the sequel would be like (and then wonder how horrible it would be if it were a movie). I'll give an example of a bad unanswered question: It was a future story about convicts who worked for the space postal service. Skipping to the end, the guy defeated the bag guys on his ship, was going to send a body back with a little surprise to the enemy ship and then... the story ended. I didn't give a rip if the package made it, it really didn't matter for this story, but what mattered what did the guy survive? I'm leaving out tons of the story, but I liked the character a lot for reasons I didn't say, so I wanted to know if he made it, but I'll never know. So, after all that, what I mean is I don't like stories that have parts missing that should be present, and many times short fiction can have that effect. What I liked about Hippocampus was, with all the brevity of the story, everything I needed to know was there, and I could imagine what happened next, what happens when she eats lots of people's memories, etc, but this story didn't have any confusing parts where I sent time going 'huh?' and missing the next part of the story and now that I got distracted and totally lost my train of thought, I'll end here.
Well, as long as we're clarifying, it wasn't that I missed the point or didn't understand, because I did find the story fun. And I didn't make a conscious effort to analyze the story; those questions just popped into my head, because my brain just tends to work that way. ::)