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Author Topic: EP172: Union Dues - Tabula Rasa  (Read 7913 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: August 22, 2008, 06:27:17 PM »

EP172: Union Dues - Tabula Rasa

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Stephen Eley.

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I raise my hand and she stops chattering. “Just tell me who you are and where I am.”

She freezes and blinks twice. “Tell you where you are? Cap, you’re home. This is the Cleveland Pyramid. I’m Sarah Shadow. You don’t recognize me?”

“That doesn’t mean anything to me!” I stand up. Frustration washes over me like heat from a blast furnace, and worse, my stomach is rumbling. “I woke up today. The first person I saw was you, but I’ve never seen you before in my life. I figured as long as I was in the hospital, or wherever, I’d start to remember, but it’s a blank. Where am I, what is this place, what are you people?” I point at her costume. “And that, what’s that, are you part of a circus act or something?”


Rated R. Contains profanity, sexual innuendo, and a bit of soap opera.


Referenced Sites:
Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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JoeFitz
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2008, 11:16:31 AM »

As extreme as the previous Union Dues stories was, this one struck me as kind of bland.

I do like the underlying story for the series and I didn't mind the arc of this story. I did feel that the main character this time was poorly executed. I was disappointed that he began to demonstrate irrational anger but then it was suddenly gone, never to return.

To put a point on it: given the general bleakness of the UD-universe so far (at least on EP), I was put off by the happy ending.
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 12:43:27 PM »

A great addition to the Union Dues world.  It's nice to know there is a hero out there free from the clutches and mind control of the Union.  And loved the tie-in with the Team Shikaragaki.
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Talia
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2008, 12:13:03 AM »

This was a fun one. Id kind of like to hear more about the character in a future story.. how he's coping with regaining his identity, how much of his old jerkishness he fell back into, any close calls he has with being caught.
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contra
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2008, 06:31:18 PM »

Another good Union Dues story. 

The idea of identity is always a confusing one for superheroes anyway.  The Union Dues universe confused that more by having their people also as comic characters that they have to represent.  So on a good day, a member of the union is confused.
Take all that away and make them restart, they are pretty much screwed for trying to find themself again.

I liked how the memory loss was dealth with.  How he tried to act like his own self, and was frustrated to learn that he was a jackass.  I know I fear that I will wake up one day to find out everyone actually hates me.  Bring identity crisis into that, and you have a good reason to run.

Its good to have a story that has a happier ending to the others.  While i'm not sure it is totally happy, it shows the Ubion are not all powerful, what they do can be reversed and they manipilate a lot.

But still this threat of Antartica... I don't actually think anyone knows whats happens there, especially the heroes.  It is a threat to keep people in the company line.  Something may happen down there.... but I don't think its doom on the level they keept implying...
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2008, 06:52:07 PM »

Another good Union Dues story. 

The idea of identity is always a confusing one for superheroes anyway.  The Union Dues universe confused that more by having their people also as comic characters that they have to represent.  So on a good day, a member of the union is confused.
Take all that away and make them restart, they are pretty much screwed for trying to find themself again.

I liked how the memory loss was dealth with.  How he tried to act like his own self, and was frustrated to learn that he was a jackass.  I know I fear that I will wake up one day to find out everyone actually hates me.  Bring identity crisis into that, and you have a good reason to run.

Its good to have a story that has a happier ending to the others.  While i'm not sure it is totally happy, it shows the Ubion are not all powerful, what they do can be reversed and they manipilate a lot.

But still this threat of Antartica... I don't actually think anyone knows whats happens there, especially the heroes.  It is a threat to keep people in the company line.  Something may happen down there.... but I don't think its doom on the level they keept implying...

Listen to Off-White Lies, that one takes place, for a time, in the village.
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2008, 10:54:50 PM »

And loved the tie-in with the Team Shikaragaki.

puts a new spin on Tam Suji's bout, turns out it was thrown. we could have had two guys in gorilla suits with shattered jaws.
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« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2008, 08:02:17 AM »


That was an unusually upbeat ending for a Union Dues story; is Mr. Derego going soft on us? Maybe beginning to abandon the mission of doing for Super Hero stories what John Le Carre did for spy novels? Shocked

Seriously, I liked this one quite a bit, not least because we let the characters see some daylight.  The conundrum of, "What if I set out to discover my True Self -- and find out he's a jerk?" made a great focal point for the story as well.  I assume we are going to go someplace with Mindstorm in a future story as well; that seems like an interesting thread. 

Looking forward to it...

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« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2008, 08:09:00 AM »

I missed the Tam Suji tie-in until Steve mentioned it at the end.  Undecided

Another good addition to the UD series.
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« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2008, 09:59:05 AM »

  I'm always glad to see a Union Dues story come up, as I have yet to be dissapointed by one. This one seemed a little less action-packed than a lot of the others, and the hopeful ending was both odd and nice. As always, I continue to look forward to more UD stories.

  I've always found the concept of amnesia to be a bit of a moral dilemma. Can you truly hold someone responsible for something if they do not remember doing it? If the person being punished is essentially a different person than the one who commited the offense, is it really appropriate to hold them responsible?

  I still need to check out the Team Shikaragaki stories, whenever I'm at my computer at home, I forget about them with all of the other podcasts I listen to (especially with the glut of new content during the run-up to Playing For Keeps' release today).
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« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2008, 10:27:22 AM »

Normally union dues stories are not my favorites. I like them just fine- but they're a world of their own. Not.. sci-fi enough mayhap? I wish I knew. However, this one made me happy. I love the premise. I adored the tie in, I'd listned to the clone pod story just the day before listening to this one- so I caught the tie in right away!  I hope they made back the cash!
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« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2008, 10:54:10 AM »

I liked this one.  Couldn't really put my finger on why.  I guess because it wasn't depressing.

This would've been a perfect one for Ralph Walters to read.  Sorry, Steve, but your HUGE DUDE voice only works in small doses.
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yicheng
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« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2008, 11:19:20 AM »

I didn't really enjoy this one.  There were a lot of unaswered questions, like exactly how was the escape plan supposed to work, and how exactly does a huge 500+ lb guy "fit in"?  You'd think the Union would have heard about implanting RFID chips in their people, especially given how many of them seem to go rogue, or at the very least prove mentally unstable.
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« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2008, 03:16:48 PM »

I think this one hit me at that strange in-between land.  Maybe it was the theme of, "asshole super looses memory" or maybe it was the part where a woman is willing to copulate with someone she hates... maybe it was the fact that I, like yicheng, can't see how the Union doesn't have every super "chipped".

I wonder if the memories that show up at the end aren't really the person's original memories.

I did find the line, "no one cares about the guy under the costume."  Fitting given the premise that supers can be replaced without creating a new character.
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Heradel
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2008, 05:32:28 PM »

I think this one hit me at that strange in-between land.  Maybe it was the theme of, "asshole super looses memory" or maybe it was the part where a woman is willing to copulate with someone she hates... maybe it was the fact that I, like yicheng, can't see how the Union doesn't have every super "chipped".

I wonder if the memories that show up at the end aren't really the person's original memories.

I did find the line, "no one cares about the guy under the costume."  Fitting given the premise that supers can be replaced without creating a new character.

Cough Cough Green Lantern Cough Cough.

I liked it.

I think those of you that are seeing this as a 'light/bright future' story are only doing so because all of the other UD's are so, so very dark. He's constantly hiding, has a single friend, and seems to be barely getting by. So, better than being in the Union, but so are a lot of things.
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« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2008, 07:29:51 PM »

I think those of you that are seeing this as a 'light/bright future' story are only doing so because all of the other UD's are so, so very dark. He's constantly hiding, has a single friend, and seems to be barely getting by. So, better than being in the Union, but so are a lot of things.

  You are right in that this is only a light/bright future ending by UD standards, but that ending is not as bleak as it sounds. He actually has a friend, not a subordinate who hates his guts, but someone who hangs out with him because he enjoys his company. He may be barely getting by compared to his standard of living in the Union, but he's happy, and happiness can count for a lot. It's not just that his life is better than being in The Union, it's better than being hated and feared.
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« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2008, 07:36:01 PM »

Was okay, but frustrating on several points.  

First off, the "rules" of memory loss stories always strike me as a little odd.  He remembers what comic books are, but not the existence of the union?  Stuff like this always makes me wonder about the mechanics of the memory loss, over the story itself.  Not really something wrong with the story, mostly me.  :-)

Secondly, aren't supers a fairly rare resource?  You'd think the union would actually want to put some effort in, especially for someone who was a team leader (the union higher ups presumably like him, even if his team mates don't).  The union spends all this time tracking down the new superhumans, but apparently once they have you, you're not worth much effort.

Third, a telepath can do more with someone's head than the union can with their implanting?  Uhhh, I always presumed they had telepaths do those.  

Fourth, as someone said, they really should have trackers on these guys.  Plus, as noted, they have a bunch of telepaths around.  Finding out everything from those involved should be pretty easy.  I just have a hard time believing that he'd just be able to get away from an entire group of supers who basically have nothing better to do than track him down.

I don't know... maybe the Union Dues universe is just starting to loose it's appeal for me.  When I scratch the surface, there are just too many questions - the universe doesn't seem realistic on closer inspection.
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stePH
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« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2008, 09:07:38 PM »

I don't know... maybe the Union Dues universe is just starting to loose it's appeal for me.  When I scratch the surface, there are just too many questions - the universe doesn't seem realistic on closer inspection.

To be fair, neither do most other "superhero" milieus, including the DC and Marvel universes. 
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« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2008, 09:51:38 PM »

I don't know... maybe the Union Dues universe is just starting to loose it's appeal for me.  When I scratch the surface, there are just too many questions - the universe doesn't seem realistic on closer inspection.

To be fair, neither do most other "superhero" milieus, including the DC and Marvel universes. 

They don't really try to.  They have Ambush Bug and the Impossible Man hopping around.  The Union Dues stories are founded on the idea of taking a realistic view on superpowers and the idea of superheroes.  Which has of course been done before.  The Wildcard series of novels, Rising Stars comic, even the Heroes TV show.  And (sorry Jeff) I think all those universes hit that mark better.  Of course, the Union Dues universe has it's own spin, the nature of the union itself, which is certainly interesting... there's just a lot of details that don't quite read right for me.
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« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2008, 10:49:06 PM »


A technical note on RFID "chipping." 

At the current state of the art, RFID is nearly useless in locating something over a wide area.  The radio signals generated by the RFID card are far too weak to carry more than about 50 meters, even from cards that supply their own power (and are therefore subject to "running down" their batteries) rather than depending on the magnetic field from the reader to generate a pulse of power via induction.  Range is further dramatically reduced if there's any sort of intervening stuff -- stuff like walls, metalized clothing, etc.

The ones implanted in dogs don't allow you to track down Fido by use an aircraft or satellite to hunt the radio pulse. Rather, they give organizations that care -- like ethical labs and shelters -- a way to extract ownership information by using a hand-held RFID reader to read a chip planted under the skin.  The only significant advantage the chip has over a plain old dog tag is that it can't easily fall off or be removed. 

So, I don't see planting an RFID chip in "supers" as being much help in locating runaways. 
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