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Author Topic: EP168: Family Values  (Read 21263 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: July 25, 2008, 02:09:03 PM »

EP168: Family Values

By By Sara Genge.
Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod).
First appeared in Cosmos, August/September 2007.

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Senator Wu accepted Twing’s seed out of courtesy, although she had no intention of conceiving his child. Twing of Sails had thrown this party in his house in her honour, but he wasn’t as free with kilojoules as he was with genetic material, and Senator Wu wasn’t prepared to funnel the heat donations of her two crèche mates to bring another man’s child to the World. She acidified the pores in her tentacle and waved it around, letting the current carry away the dead spores. She smiled at Twing and a wave of blue burst from his centre and radiated towards the thin membranes that rippled on the edge of his disc-shaped body.

He didn’t look bad, but he wasn’t as comely as Senator Wu. Her body was an almost perfect sphere, and she was well aware of it. Wherever she went, she took care to rotate every few minutes, lest gravity pull on her too long in any one direction and tug her gelatinous figure out of shape.


Rated PG. Contains alien reproduction, politics, and other sordid topics.


Referenced Sites:
The Daily Cabal


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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wintermute
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2008, 02:18:33 PM »

I enjoyed the story in general, but there's a technical niggle that annoys me:

The teacher transferred (more than) 10,000,000 zettajoules of energy to the senator. To put that into proportion, the largest nuclear bomb ever detonated had a fireball 9Km across and a mushroom cloud seven times higher than Mount Everest. It was 2,500 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

It released one forty-billionth as much energy as was transferred between these two beings.

Ten million zettajoules is as much energy as the sun puts out in 30 seconds. It's enough energy to boil every drop of water on Earth 15 or 20 times over.

You know what Douglas Adams said about space being big? Yeah, well, this is hot.

To be fair, without knowing the creatures' size or composition, it's hard to argue that they must be incapable of holding this much heat without being vaporised, but the fact that they're in a region where gravity can pull them out of being spherical strongly implies that they're smaller than your average gas giant. Also, there was something about people coming within a few metres being able to feel the residual heat? That implies that they're about human in scale, to within a couple of orders of magnitude.

The same thign happened with EP094: THe Last Wave, in which the author thought that 1012 picoseconds was a significant amount of time. So, I propose a general rule of authors: Don't throw around big numbers without actually knowing what they mean. Choose a scale in natural language that makes sense (a thousand years; 5,000 Calories) and then convert that into scientific notation.

Collorary for editors: When faced with numbers like this, convert back to something you can make sense of, and if it seems odd, raise the issue with the author. Because you know that your audience is going to do it.
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2008, 05:49:18 PM »

Collorary for editors: When faced with numbers like this, convert back to something you can make sense of, and if it seems odd, raise the issue with the author. Because you know that your audience is going to do it.

This is true.  I missed that totally; I often read too big-picture.  Good catch, Wintermute!
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2008, 06:48:48 PM »

A nice short piece, despite the technical quibble and the relatively simple story.
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wintermute
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2008, 07:18:01 PM »

A nice short piece, despite the technical quibble and the relatively simple story.
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I did enjoy the story. The language was beautiful.
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2008, 07:26:31 PM »

  While entirely too short, I found this to be a fun and entertainlingly squishy story. To be fair, if the story had been any longer with the same plot it probably would not have been as good as it is.
 
  Even though I felt that very little about the world was explained about the world in the story, I didn't feel that anything was lost by that. I would be interested in learning more of their world, but the lack of that knowledge did not detract from the story for me.

  The energy thing went somewhat over my head. I knew it was an insanely large amount of electricty, but without any information about the size of these creatures, their planet, etc, I just let it go.

  Given the Reagan quote at the end, does that mean this is another story featuring a prostitute? She does have sex with teacher for power after all.

  As far as water coolers go, we don't have one at my work anymore, no one hung around it when we did, and most of my co-workers are more the American Idol set than the EP set. It's quite sad really, I've tried to get the people who share my cube interested in a number of podcasts, but to no avail so far.

 
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2008, 07:44:13 PM »

But I'm a horrible pedant.

Ahem, a shockingly dreadful pedant would not actually be very pedantic, now would he? QED. Wink

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wintermute
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« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2008, 08:20:09 PM »

The energy thing went somewhat over my head. I knew it was an insanely large amount of electricty, but without any information about the size of these creatures, their planet, etc, I just let it go.
Given the complete lack of detail, I was tempted to let it go, but when I ran the numbers, it turned out to so obnoxiously insane that they'd need to be planet-sized (and not a wimpy little planet like Mercury, either) to not be instantly vaporised. If it had been scaled back about 10 orders of magnitude, I'd considered it unlikely but ignored it.
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« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2008, 10:39:43 PM »

 
  Given the Reagan quote at the end, does that mean this is another story featuring a prostitute? She does have sex with teacher for power after all.

 
I think the quote was more about politicians. Smiley
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« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2008, 10:51:49 PM »

Alien jellyfish sex! Huzzah?

A fun story. I couldn't help half imagining it taking place beneath our very own seas. Jellyfish society Cheesy



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« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2008, 11:51:32 PM »

This one left me lukewarm. Put another way, it only imparted a little bit of heat--a miserly donation at best.

Edit:
Quote
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I'd say it's about as large a gaffe as Han Solo using parsecs as a measure of speed. IOW, it's worth poking fun of, but not getting upset over.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 12:05:00 AM by ryos » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2008, 09:11:44 AM »

I will definately stand out from the pack and offer high praise for this story.  I thought Ms. Genge did a masterful job of bringing us a new world, with uniquique characters.  In a short time we learn their of thier motivations, their social structure (at least in regards to politics), their biology, and of course, their values.  I enjoyed becoming immersed {sorry, couldn't help it} in this world.  Also, the character building of such an alien species was fantastic--the wisdom and vunerability of Senator Wu, the passion and cunning of the teacher.  Great stuff!  This is the type of story that keeps me coming back to Escape Pod.

Regarding the energy transfer, they need to be careful.  If they get up to 1.21 gigawatts they might go back in time.
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2008, 09:25:49 AM »

Whee! Now this is the sort of odd strange quick story I fell in love with when I first started reading short fiction. It's squishey and strange, the charactors fizz about in the imagination. Alasdair Stuart read wonderfully (happy 100th show!!) and I wouldn't be adverse to hearing this fine gentleman read more often, his voice makes me terribly happy.
More like this!
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2008, 09:56:08 AM »

Its good to see a story about Rocktipie that doesn't involve platinum knives.  Tongue
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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2008, 10:11:44 AM »

   As far as water coolers go, we don't have one at my work anymore, no one hung around it when we did, and most of my co-workers are more the American Idol set than the EP set. It's quite sad really, I've tried to get the people who share my cube interested in a number of podcasts, but to no avail so far.
 

Funny, that's the way it is at my work  The majority of the people discuss Idol at length.  I am part of a small "Lost" group that chats a bit on Friday mornings but nothing like the time-wasting going on in the "Idol" group.   

Back to the story:  I liked it.  It was short so I listened to it twice.  Neat world building.  Props to Steve for giving props to Darwin's work!
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2008, 12:34:48 PM »

Hot.  In a... liquid sphere political pregnant jellyfish sort of way.

Which, let's face it, is the best sort of way.

Loved the worldbuilding (mild numerical mistake not with standing).  The story itself was interesting, if a bit cutoff (I got the feeling that there was something more there.  Maybe it's the dark bastard in me, but I kept expecting Teacher to have some sort of malicious motive), but the world building was what REALLY made this original.  It's not often you see someone taking on a world and a species so utterly unlike us (although apparently we wear pendants the year 'round).
« Last Edit: July 26, 2008, 03:57:14 PM by tazo » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2008, 12:56:18 PM »

I liked it.  I didn't think it really WENT anywhere; more a slice-of-underwater-life than anything else. Not sure I really understood the teacher's motivations.  It always takes a moment to get used to Alasdair's reading voice, too.  Good world-building, very immersive (and that's not a pun).  Too many authors build worlds and use human notations for everything.  This one didn't.
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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2008, 03:15:39 PM »

Oh, this one gets a squishy tentacles, ähm, thumbs up from me. Who would have thought jellyfish sex could be that exciting, but it seems the description of all kinds of ways to *tranfer energy* is always very welcome in our circles.   

Only too bad twirling around a bit to counteract the effect of gravity on our bodies is not really working in these parts. (… and trust me I spend a lot of time twirling around, assuming dancing counts as twirling around, that is…)

Fun story, way too short though, the world was so interesting that it might offer food for more stories? Just a suggestion (... for the people in the forum crit group maybe? Those who are squishing their brains over what to write about next?)
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2008, 03:27:39 PM »

Only too bad twirling around a bit to counteract the effect of gravity on our bodies is not really working in these parts. (… and trust me I spend a lot of time twirling around, assuming dancing counts as twirling around, that is…)
I'm guessing that these octopoda don't have a well defined "up" or "down" in the same way that humans do, so they can spend extended periods of time having gravity pulling them in different directions without it getting uncomfortable or inconvenient. Of course, not having a hard skeleton probably helps, too.
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« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2008, 10:58:35 PM »

Was the flanging/phase-shifting on the narrator's voice really necessary?  It made it hard for me to understand.  I've listened to Alasdair's Pancast and prefer the "dry" recording for easy intelligibility.

Story was OK.  Didn't hate it; wasn't too long.
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« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2008, 11:21:20 PM »

I guess I depart from the pack; my impressions were exactly the opposite of the usual -- I really dug the story, didn't care for the world-building.  I know, I know, it's really tough to write truly alien aliens, and this was a valiant attempt.  But it fell to two related pitfalls.  First, while in physiology and mechanics these blobs were totally inhuman, and their culture was pretty alien.  But their mental and emotional process were, well, pretty much human.  Maybe there are some universals of what might be expected to develop in communicative sentient beings, but these guys seemed to think pretty human.

And that gets me to the other problem.  These guys seemed to think about their situation too much.  They felt almost like they were mildly surprised by their own biological and social activity.  So many things were said, not just in narration (acceptable, as the story is being narrated to humans) but also in dialogue (less acceptable, since the blobs are talking amogst themselves), that seem like they would have been left unsaid by a creature who had lived with that set of rules all its life.

Still, great story, and at very least tons of points for ambition just for trying to write a story so short about aliens so alien.  This definitely comes in on the top side of the EP median for me.
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« Reply #21 on: July 27, 2008, 03:29:13 AM »

I did like the irony of casual and ostensibly anonymous sex saving a politician from a political gaffe.  But the story itself was weak soup.  Those zettajoules might have been better spent on character development and an emotional arc that didn't feel like a deleted scene from some  intergalactic version of "The West Wing."
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« Reply #22 on: July 27, 2008, 10:36:25 AM »

I enjoyed the story, and I echo Steve's sentiment about the worldbuilding. But there was something that worried me about the ending - maybe it's my cynicism, and years of being disappointed by (Earth) politics, but it seems to me that if all it takes to get a "Get A Senate Voice" token is some flattery and a larger donation (of body heat in this case) to a politician, without her ever checking to see what the guy's actual politics are - well, isn't that an echo of the worst people say about lobbyists today?
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« Reply #23 on: July 27, 2008, 10:53:07 AM »

But there was something that worried me about the ending - maybe it's my cynicism, and years of being disappointed by (Earth) politics, but it seems to me that if all it takes to get a "Get A Senate Voice" token is some flattery and a larger donation (of body heat in this case) to a politician, without her ever checking to see what the guy's actual politics are - well, isn't that an echo of the worst people say about lobbyists today?

In a word: yes.
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slic
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« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2008, 10:56:16 AM »

Well, I lost the chance to be the clever one to make the link to "The West Wing"  Sad  
I definitely enjoyed the behind the scenes manoeuvres.

I found the story to be excellent!  It couldn't be any longer without being much much longer.  Schreiber wasn't wrong in describing it as a scene more than a complete episode, but that is often the weakness of short stories.

The story used every word effectively.  Every description helped move the story forward and explain the world.

Having disliked/meh'd most of the stories recently on Escapepod, I have been wondering if I am too picky - then this story comes along and delivers all the things I really enjoy in character-driven sci-fi.  I enjoyed so much, and it contained so much information, it is the first Escapepod story I've ever listened to twice.

bold deciever - the story has to be written from a human sense or else we couldn't possibly relate.  This is a mistake some writer's make when writing aliens - if they are too different from our understanding then the reader never relates.  This is clearly shown when people attribute human motivations to their pets and other animals.

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« Reply #25 on: July 27, 2008, 11:21:51 AM »

I don't know if I agree that it couldn't have been productively longer, Slic.  I mean there's a built in cliff-hanger with the pregnancy, a virile young political upstart with newfound juice, and an upcoming election to sort through.  It felt as though the author just lost interest and went off to write a lobster alien sex story.
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« Reply #26 on: July 27, 2008, 04:17:54 PM »

I guess I depart from the pack; my impressions were exactly the opposite of the usual -- I really dug the story, didn't care for the world-building.  I know, I know, it's really tough to write truly alien aliens, and this was a valiant attempt.  But it fell to two related pitfalls.  First, while in physiology and mechanics these blobs were totally inhuman, and their culture was pretty alien.  But their mental and emotional process were, well, pretty much human.  Maybe there are some universals of what might be expected to develop in communicative sentient beings, but these guys seemed to think pretty human.

What, in your view, is the purpose of fiction?  I think that a wonderful aspect of sci-fi (and fantasy) is that we can explore human ideals, emotions, and thoughts in a way that would seem silly and contrived in contemporary settings with human characters.  I don't see the aliens' "humanity" as a liability.
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« Reply #27 on: July 27, 2008, 07:32:01 PM »

bold deciever - the story has to be written from a human sense or else we couldn't possibly relate.  This is a mistake some writer's make when writing aliens - if they are too different from our understanding then the reader never relates.  This is clearly shown when people attribute human motivations to their pets and other animals.

I recognize that, but that doesn't make it believable.  I guess my problem here was it wasn't done consistently.  I can take something like Babylon 5 or Star Trek, where the aliens are humans with funny bumps, because the degree of difference is pretty steady.  I can also deal with something like Contact (the book, not the movie) or Gateway (the Heechee in the first book, or in the later book when they became skinny humans with human feelings, the Slush-dwellers and the Assassins) where the aliens' behavior and motivations are so different and unfathomable.  It's harder to deal with sentient jellyfish society revolving around preudosexual transfer of energy (hoeever plausible the measures) in a society of rigidly quantifiable (and possibly emperically verifiable) social hierarchical standing, that just happen to also experience the same emotions as we do in pretty much the exact same way, and also dance and engage in representative government by plebicite.  Teh anthropologist in me says, with such different starting conditions, it's just not believable that so much of their psychology and society would feel just like ours.
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« Reply #28 on: July 27, 2008, 07:46:42 PM »

I don't know if I agree that it couldn't have been productively longer, Slic.  I mean there's a built in cliff-hanger with the pregnancy, a virile young political upstart with newfound juice, and an upcoming election to sort through.  It felt as though the author just lost interest and went off to write a lobster alien sex story.
Hmmm.  While I do think this story had enough energy to go much longer, I meant that it would have to get alot longer to find another comfortable breaking point.  While the sub-plot around Teacher is unresolved, everything is pretty much answered.  Continuing the TV show analogy - these scene wrapped up, but you couldn't write another scene, you'd need to finish the episode.


And, bold deciever, I guess you've got the same point I sometimes have with a story - some niggly detail that I just can't get past. No worries.
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« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2008, 08:08:00 PM »

Thanks for a short one, Steve. Now I'm all caught up on my Escape Pod.
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« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2008, 08:29:19 PM »

I'm afraid I don't really understand what this story is about, because it was so short, therefore it didn't have enough Worldbuilding! I've listened to it three times now. All I understood was that a female politician was pregnant, the length of the pregnancy depends on how much energy she's got and how many offspring she's carrying and some of them can be held in suspended animation. I don't think this is enough and it obviously wasn't explained what "the children's vote" meant. I didn't know how old the children had to be before they could vote. This, as well as the lack of other details, such as the definition of energy units, really disappointed me. I hope there will never be another story as short as this one on Escapepod in the future!   
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« Reply #31 on: July 28, 2008, 01:11:37 AM »

I don't think this is enough and it obviously wasn't explained what "the children's vote" meant. I didn't know how old the children had to be before they could vote.

Well, since it was claimed that the children are pre-verbal, my assumption was that the only requirement was that they are born. But I'm not sure how giving a specific age would be helpful anyway, since we also don't know how long these creatures take to reach maturity, or, for that matter, how long their years are relative to ours.
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« Reply #32 on: July 28, 2008, 02:23:56 AM »

as jellyfish like entities, they probably have a polyp stage they call children. since polyps are anchored (probably to something near the bottom, making sense of 'teacher of muddy waters') their movement would be limited and since jellyfish don't have much in the way of vocal chords their 'verbal' communication might be something more like sign language.

I hope there will never be another story as short as this one on Escapepod in the future!

according to the big list we've already had well over a dozen that were even shorter. maybe it's a trade off for going years without flash fiction.

i found the cross-gender thing strange. i can't think of the last time escape pod had an episode where the reader wasn't the same sex as the main character.
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« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2008, 08:23:24 AM »

as jellyfish like entities, they probably have a polyp stage they call children. since polyps are anchored (probably to something near the bottom, making sense of 'teacher of muddy waters') their movement would be limited and since jellyfish don't have much in the way of vocal chords their 'verbal' communication might be something more like sign language.

I hope there will never be another story as short as this one on Escapepod in the future!

according to the big list we've already had well over a dozen that were even shorter. maybe it's a trade off for going years without flash fiction.

i found the cross-gender thing strange. i can't think of the last time escape pod had an episode where the reader wasn't the same sex as the main character.

Well, Steve read episode 155, which had a "female" protagonist, sort of - a robot referred to as "she" anyway.. Smiley
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« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2008, 09:01:10 AM »

I loved the story. In good short SF, the reader has to scramble
to build the world from hints dropped by the writer. This is a pleasure
denied to readers of mainstream literature.

I'm technically trained, and the energy units issue hit me like a
hammer ('He just said ZETTAjoules?'). It's up there with Han
Solo 'Making the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs', or the
original Battlestar Galactica using 'microns' as time intervals.
Authors who grab cool words from the dictionary should
realize that there's always someone familiar with the actual
meaning.



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« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2008, 01:52:14 PM »

This is easily one of my favorite Escape Pods in recent months.  Very fun, I dug the Jane Austen vibe and wit and energy transfer/sex, and it made me laugh in a couple of spots.  I'm also going to have to take a look at more of what this author's written, and I hope we hear more of her stories on Escape Pod.  Alasdair was a great reader for this one. 

Also, I definitely don't mind a few shorter episodes like this one, especially when they're so note perfect.  I guess it could've been longer, as Schreiber suggested, but it would've been a different story, a more epic one, and it could've detracted from the fun tone and pacing this piece has going for it.
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« Reply #36 on: July 29, 2008, 04:35:11 PM »

Contrary to the title, this story easily constitutes moral deviance not to mention the universal trait of political corruption found in all alien cultures. The intelligent jelly based races of the cosmos should take action against this senseless affront to their wholesome way of life... Wink Wink

So, seriously, it's sort of odd how the reproductive traits of a species unlike our own are perceived as unoffensive. As humans we gaze with slight embarrassment at documentaries and images as different species participate in the reproductive process and yet the idea doesn't take on real vibrance until the players become those of your own kind. What an odd race of beings we are. 

This was a good story with even spacing. I enjoyed it. 
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« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2008, 05:57:06 PM »

Contrary to the title, this story easily constitutes moral deviance not to mention the universal trait of political corruption found in all alien cultures. The intelligent jelly based races of the cosmos should take action against this senseless affront to their wholesome way of life... Wink Wink

So, seriously, it's sort of odd how the reproductive traits of a species unlike our own are perceived as unoffensive. As humans we gaze with slight embarrassment at documentaries and images as different species participate in the reproductive process and yet the idea doesn't take on real vibrance until the players become those of your own kind. What an odd race of beings we are. 

This was a good story with even spacing. I enjoyed it. 

I know your objection is somewhat tounge-in-cheek.  However, I felt as I read the story that the energy transfer was not a tautry act of sexual satisfaction, but a necessity for Senator Wu as a mother to care for the embryos she carried.  The teacher told her, "Surely, no one can blame you for being absent from the party in order to procure energy for your young." or something in that vein.  The source of her political power came from her competance as a mother, or at least as a child-bearer.  The story didn't actually say much about nurthuring and rearing the children. 

I kind of like the idea of a political system built around caring for children.  Of course, these alien politics (like all) are also subject to corruption.  It also appears the children were a source of status for the males.  Also, the teacher only gave her the energy to make her look good for the party, and he gave her a super dose of energy to impress her, so it's all about power and position.

Regardless, it is a fascinating world that we are given a glimpse of here.
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« Reply #38 on: July 30, 2008, 06:17:22 AM »

i found the cross-gender thing strange. i can't think of the last time escape pod had an episode where the reader wasn't the same sex as the main character.
Well, Steve read episode 155, which had a "female" protagonist, sort of - a robot referred to as "she" anyway.. Smiley

ah, i remember that now. i also remember thinking that was odd when i heard it. maybe we'll see more experimentation this way.

I kind of like the idea of a political system built around caring for children.  Of course, these alien politics (like all) are also subject to corruption.  It also appears the children were a source of status for the males.  Also, the teacher only gave her the energy to make her look good for the party, and he gave her a super dose of energy to impress her, so it's all about power and position.

maybe it's similar to the way a strong warrior general would be respected in the roman senate, this society gives political capital to strong breeders. veni, vidi, semini
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eytanz
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« Reply #39 on: July 30, 2008, 06:21:45 AM »

Also, the teacher only gave her the energy to make her look good for the party, and he gave her a super dose of energy to impress her, so it's all about power and position.

Maybe - his motivations are not very explicit in the story. It could be he's just trying to impress his way into her graces for personal reasons, or it could be that he's a very committed supporter doing what he can to help her get elected - most likely a bit of both - or it could be, as I suggested as a possiblity earlier - that he has his own political agenda and he's just trying to use her to get to it. The story didn't let us see much into his mind...
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tpi
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« Reply #40 on: July 30, 2008, 06:22:42 AM »

In a few of last (not in all) escapepod episodes there has been a slight strange "echo" in the soundtrack which makes it harder to understand. this was one of those.  Is there some kind of noise reducting or something in use which causes that?
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« Reply #41 on: July 31, 2008, 06:27:01 PM »

I'm afraid Steve raised my expectations rather too high with the comparson to Austen.  Sitting in transit I could barely contain my glee anticipating the clever and dramatic characters I love from Jane Austen set in an alien world.  Unfortunately I found that, while like Steve's intro, the stroy raised my expectations it didn't actually fulfill any of them.  The world was interesting, the motivations understandable (and yes I believe alien motivations must be mostly human like in order for us to relate to them) but they didn't go anywhere.  I think I'm going to join Steve in high hopes for future work and possible even further development of this world. 
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contra
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« Reply #42 on: July 31, 2008, 07:06:23 PM »

I liked this story.  It felt like an episode of the west wing... well... in some ways...
>_>
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« Reply #43 on: July 31, 2008, 07:18:00 PM »

I liked this story.  It felt like an episode of the west wing... well... in some ways...
>_>

  With a large gelatinous blob in the role of President Bartlet  Wink
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« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2008, 02:58:37 PM »

This one left me lukewarm. Put another way, it only imparted a little bit of heat--a miserly donation at best.

Edit:
Quote
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I'd say it's about as large a gaffe as Han Solo using parsecs as a measure of speed. IOW, it's worth poking fun of, but not getting upset over.

On one of the DVD commentaries Lucas explained why Parsecs was used.  The way Hyperspace was defined in Star Wars has all ships moving at the same speed in Hyperspace.  The key is planning your route so that you don't fly through a moon, but making it shorter than others would.  Han Solo made the run in 7(?) Parsecs, because he planned the course shorter than anyone else had.
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eytanz
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« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2008, 03:02:34 PM »

This one left me lukewarm. Put another way, it only imparted a little bit of heat--a miserly donation at best.

Edit:
Quote
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I'd say it's about as large a gaffe as Han Solo using parsecs as a measure of speed. IOW, it's worth poking fun of, but not getting upset over.

On one of the DVD commentaries Lucas explained why Parsecs was used.  The way Hyperspace was defined in Star Wars has all ships moving at the same speed in Hyperspace.  The key is planning your route so that you don't fly through a moon, but making it shorter than others would.  Han Solo made the run in 7(?) Parsecs, because he planned the course shorter than anyone else had.

That's just him adding post-hoc justification. It's pretty well documented in various interviews that parsecs were used because, when he wrote the movie, he believed them to be units of time.
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2008, 07:13:32 PM »

This one left me lukewarm. Put another way, it only imparted a little bit of heat--a miserly donation at best.

Edit:
Quote
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I'd say it's about as large a gaffe as Han Solo using parsecs as a measure of speed. IOW, it's worth poking fun of, but not getting upset over.

On one of the DVD commentaries Lucas explained why Parsecs was used.  The way Hyperspace was defined in Star Wars has all ships moving at the same speed in Hyperspace.  The key is planning your route so that you don't fly through a moon, but making it shorter than others would.  Han Solo made the run in 7(?) Parsecs, because he planned the course shorter than anyone else had.

That's just him adding post-hoc justification. It's pretty well documented in various interviews that parsecs were used because, when he wrote the movie, he believed them to be units of time.

I'm going to be an ass now.  Got A link?  A Physicist friend of mine said the explanation held a bit of water.  Maybe not perfect, but acceptable.  Han does talk about plotting the course in Star Wars.
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stePH
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« Reply #47 on: August 03, 2008, 12:37:50 AM »

This one left me lukewarm. Put another way, it only imparted a little bit of heat--a miserly donation at best.

Edit:
Quote
I fully admit that it's a ridiculous thing to pick on. But I'm a horrible pedant.

I'd say it's about as large a gaffe as Han Solo using parsecs as a measure of speed. IOW, it's worth poking fun of, but not getting upset over.

On one of the DVD commentaries Lucas explained why Parsecs was used.  The way Hyperspace was defined in Star Wars has all ships moving at the same speed in Hyperspace.  The key is planning your route so that you don't fly through a moon, but making it shorter than others would.  Han Solo made the run in 7(?) Parsecs, because he planned the course shorter than anyone else had.

That's just him adding post-hoc justification. It's pretty well documented in various interviews that parsecs were used because, when he wrote the movie, he believed them to be units of time.

I'm going to be an ass now.  Got A link?  A Physicist friend of mine said the explanation held a bit of water.  Maybe not perfect, but acceptable.  Han does talk about plotting the course in Star Wars.

He mentions plotting a course through hyperspace because without the precise calculations they could fly right into a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that would end their trip real quick, wouldn't it?

Lucas in the aforementioned DVD commentary is attempting to retcon his gaffe.  When Han says the Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs" he's talking about time.  Remember, this is in the context of the Falcon being a "fast ship."  She makes "point five past lightspeed."
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eytanz
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« Reply #48 on: August 03, 2008, 02:46:50 AM »

I'm going to be an ass now.  Got A link?  A Physicist friend of mine said the explanation held a bit of water.  Maybe not perfect, but acceptable.  Han does talk about plotting the course in Star Wars.

I don't have a link to any particular interview; note that I wasn't saying it's a retcon, for the simple reason that the movie dialogue stands as is. What changed was the explanation, which evolved over time. I speculate, though I don't know for sure, that explanation you gave was why Lucas decided to leave it in when he was making the special editions. That doesn't mean that he thought about it back in the 70s.

Also, from the official Star Wars website:

http://www.starwars.com/databank/location/kessel/index.html

Note the bottom section; it doesn't outright say "Lucas made a mistake", but it acknowledges that it doesn't make sense as-is, gives several alternative explanations, and attributes all of them other than "Han was just trying to sound impressive" to sources other than Lucas.
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« Reply #49 on: August 03, 2008, 08:26:00 AM »

This was a well written story I mean the sentences went together very well, I just felt that the actual overall plot was missing.  Kind of a Meh.
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CammoBlammo
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« Reply #50 on: August 03, 2008, 08:35:25 AM »

I enjoyed this story, and I agree it does a great job of world building. It's a great example of the old 'show, don't tell rule.' The world was built not by straight descriptions, but by implication and context.

I have a lot of trouble with this in my writing, which often becomes so bogged down with description the plot forgets to happen.
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Rain
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« Reply #51 on: August 04, 2008, 10:22:27 AM »

I liked it, it seemed to be an interesting world. As some others have mentioned i found it hard to hear at some points i dont know if it was poor sound quality or just some sound effect
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« Reply #52 on: August 06, 2008, 08:49:04 PM »

It was only out of politeness that I continued listening past 5 minutes or so. I thought maybe it was going to become (intentionally) humorous, but such was not the case.

It's harder to deal with sentient jellyfish society revolving around preudosexual transfer of energy (hoeever plausible the measures) in a society of rigidly quantifiable (and possibly emperically verifiable) social hierarchical standing, that just happen to also experience the same emotions as we do in pretty much the exact same way, and also dance and engage in representative government by plebicite.  Teh anthropologist in me says, with such different starting conditions, it's just not believable that so much of their psychology and society would feel just like ours.
Yeah, what he said.
Any world-building that went on was immediately rendered pointless by the similarity to human culture. In spec-fic, the usual thing is to say "what if..." and then explore what might happen. If what happens is "same-old same-old", then the "what if" is moot. Compare with, say, the Flouwen of Rocheworld.

I just could not stay engaged in the story.

The background noise removal artifacts didn't help either.
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« Reply #53 on: August 12, 2008, 12:35:08 PM »

Fun story.  It's always interesting to get a sci-fi story that doesn't include humans in any way.  It's got to be hard to write, since you don't have that character to look at things and relate them to humanity.  I really enjoyed this one.
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« Reply #54 on: April 01, 2010, 11:57:08 AM »

For those of you who enjoyed this story, it recently appeared on the Drabblecast (3/11, I think). The reding is very different and really fits with the tine of this story.

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« Reply #55 on: April 05, 2010, 01:59:40 PM »

Politics can make anything boring.  If the politics and politicians were more different than our own, maybe the differences would've interested me, but it sounded like the same old BS that goes behind any politics in the human world.  For one thing, I just really don't relate to politicians.  The system seems to be designed in such a way that only the most dishonest creeps rise to the top--that's not a criticism of any particular politician and I'm not going to get into a discussion about that.  Some candidates are better than others, yes, but the choice tends to be about who would be the least bad, and too many seem to view politics like they're betting on a sports pool--it's the team that matters, not the individual athlete, and you root for you team even if you don't think you can win or even if you think you don't deserve to win.  None of that is the author's fault, but I have trouble relating to someone whose only motivation is political power at the expense of others, and sycophantic supporters who give their everything for no other reason than some vague belief that this person is somehow better than the other.

I try to give the benefit of the doubt until about the 13 minute mark of any story before shutting it off, and it ended just before I reached that.  The most interesting part was at the very end with the heat transfer, and then it just ended without her confronting her detractor and actually getting some real conflict out of it.

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