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Author Topic: EP176: How The World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth  (Read 12026 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: September 20, 2008, 06:45:51 AM »

EP176: How The World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth

By Rachel Swirsky.
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard).

Humans laid the foundation for the sixth apocalypse in much the same way they’d triggered the previous ones. Having recovered their ambition after the Apocalypse of Serotonin and rebuilt their populations after the Apocalypse of Grease, they once again embarked on their species’ long term goal to wreak as much havoc as possible on the environment through carelessness and boredom. This time, the trees protested. They devoured buildings, whipped wind into hurricanes between their branches, tangled men into their roots and devoured them as mulch. In retaliation, men chopped down trees, fire-bombed jungles, and released genetically engineered insects to devour tender shoots.

The pitched battle decimated civilians on both sides, but eventually — though infested and rootless — the trees overwhelmed their opposition. Mankind was forced to send its battered representatives to a sacred grove in the middle of the world’s oldest forest and beg for a treaty.


Rated PG. Contains war, invasion, exodus, mass extinction, religious revival, and a lot of mud.


Referenced Sites:
Resonance FM
Reality Break Podcast



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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Darwinist
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« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2008, 10:27:35 AM »

Meh.   Loved the idea and great narration as always by Frank Key but for me the story bogged down with all the talk of the droves of insect men.   I liked the ending, so I'm glad I stuck with the story.   

Why didn't the cockroach men worry more about sanitation when they controlled the earth?  Where were all the dung beetle men, on vacation with the sow bug men?
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alllie
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« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2008, 11:11:34 AM »

Well, err… aahhh… I hate to not like something by Podcastle’s wonderful Rachel Swirsky since I enjoy Podcastle so much (and Podcastle has been putting out lots more content lately, go check it out and aren’t all the pods great)…but I didn’t like it. I know it was done in the style of some of the old pulps but it just didn’t work for me. Every time I started to get into it (and here comes the protestation of “It’s not you. It’s me”) there would be a reference to the whaleMEN or cockroachMEN or butterflyMEN EVEN when the character was female and my feminism would buzz and I would twitch and grit my teeth and hate whoever wrote the story, even Rachel.

Yeah, it is me. But even so the reversion to an old style sexism kept me from having any chance of enjoying it.  How about whalePeople or cockroachPEOPLE or ButterflyHUMANS. Do we have to be reminded of the days when most men (the gender) didn’t consider women (the gender) human or equal or anything but slaves and brood mares and sex toys and maids?

Sorry.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2008, 01:19:59 PM by alllie » Logged
slic
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2008, 10:22:36 PM »

Definitely agree, as Mr. Ely mentioned in his outro, that this was a stylistic story.  I loved the reading, and loved the idea of the great sweeping time spans.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel that the story really lived up to the idea.  It definitely dragged during the time of the insect people.

There were some really cool ideas (I loved the Crab people), but there were also a few of story points that just sent me right out of the story thinking "WTF?".  First was the Tree War - really we couldn't get some big bombers, some napalm or herbicide and wipe out some trees*? And the trees made hurricanes from waving their branches?
Second was when out of nowhere all the animal people started attacking each other.  The Crab vs Seal made really good sense and was intriguing - but the Parrot people got all violent because a Crab guy walked into their camp?  I can imagine some plausible reasons - like Crab guy is describing the seal people and their evilness, but since the Parrots have no context, perhaps because they have never seen a seal person, they confuse them with another species - but IMHO that's the job of the author. 
Third was when the Butterfly people seemed to suddenly re-appear.  I say that because I had got the feeling that once the cockroach-people had forgetten where they had put the Butterfly people, I figured they would have died out.  They hadn't seemed very hearty nor inventive, and we had been told they survived on honey (not something normally found underground). 

Steve, in case you need any more ammunition for this being sci-fi versus fantasy - don't forget the genetic mutation Wink



*Now I know this isn't without precedent - I recall a story (but not the title) of giant plants that attacked humans.  Now the plants walked slowly, but the ctach was that whatever had "liberated" the plants had also rendered all humans blind.
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alllie
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2008, 05:01:39 AM »

*Now I know this isn't without precedent - I recall a story (but not the title) of giant plants that attacked humans.  Now the plants walked slowly, but the ctach was that whatever had "liberated" the plants had also rendered all humans blind.

The Day of the Triffids?
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cede
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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008, 09:18:29 AM »

i don't think it would be disrespectful to the crickets to know what the apocalypse of darkness is if it can destroy cockroaches
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Stephen Lumini


« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2008, 01:38:00 PM »

*Now I know this isn't without precedent - I recall a story (but not the title) of giant plants that attacked humans.  Now the plants walked slowly, but the ctach was that whatever had "liberated" the plants had also rendered all humans blind.

The Day of the Triffids?
Yes, exactly.  I kept thinking of "The Chrysalids" which I knew was wrong, but now I realize it's because it's the same author.

Thanks alllie.
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Talia
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« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2008, 07:11:32 PM »

Fun story. Imaginative. I enjoyed how the trees ended up being the narrator. I tend to agree with them that us humans are pretty much a bunch of jerks Cheesy

Well, err… aahhh… I hate to not like something by Podcastle’s wonderful Rachel Swirsky since I enjoy Podcastle so much (and Podcastle has been putting out lots more content lately, go check it out and aren’t all the pods great)…but I didn’t like it. I know it was done in the style of some of the old pulps but it just didn’t work for me. Every time I started to get into it (and here comes the protestation of “It’s not you. It’s me”) there would be a reference to the whaleMEN or cockroachMEN or butterflyMEN EVEN when the character was female and my feminism would buzz and I would twitch and grit my teeth and hate whoever wrote the story, even Rachel.

Yeah, it is me. But even so the reversion to an old style sexism kept me from having any chance of enjoying it.  How about whalePeople or cockroachPEOPLE or ButterflyHUMANS. Do we have to be reminded of the days when most men (the gender) didn’t consider women (the gender) human or equal or anything but slaves and brood mares and sex toys and maids?

Sorry.


well, one of the main points of the story was how barbaric the human race was. Consider the "sexism" (I wouldnt use the label myself, stuff like that doesn't bother me in the least. Its just a word. In this day and age everyone knows it refers to both genders when used generally. Hell, I even say mailman and fireman sometimes. Mailman, at any rate, is way catcher than mailperson or postal worker or whatever the ultrauberPC term is)a reflection of that, of  a sorts.

Wow, I could probably rephrase that last sentence in a way that doesnt make the parenthesis longer than the regular sentence, but I'm tired.



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wintermute
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2008, 07:41:35 AM »

I find it amusing that Rachel is now being accused of not being feminist enough.

I understand allie's point, and at least half agree with her, but (in a grammatical sense, at least) she's possibly not entirely right. The word "man" comes to us from two separate roots: the Germanic "Mensch", meaning "male", from which we get "fireman", "snowman" and so on; and the Latin "humanum", meaning "person", which is derived from "manos", "hand", the same root as "manipulate" or "mandible". I believe that the "man" used in "parrot-man" or "crab-man" is from the Latin and therefore ungendered. I don't think I could definitively defend that, though.

However, there were only a couple of instances of people's gender being mentioned (crab matrons, and the three insectiod that threw themselves off the cliff), and no instances of it actually being relevant. In the main part, it was dealing with broad historical strokes, too large for individual people to be relevant, so a method of drawing distinction between the genders is a needless irrelevance.
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2008, 08:16:33 AM »

I found the narrative interesting, but lacking in characters.  There was nobody to latch onto and identify with.
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2008, 09:11:49 AM »

I imagine it really wasn't a treaty so much as a treety.

Did the trees talking remind anyone of Ents? If so, you may want to check out this episode of Irregular Podcast. Word of warning though, if you drink coffee but don't like laughing it up your nose, don't listen while enjoying your java.

So far as the story itself, I liked the imaginativaty of it. Since it was written as a sort of history, the lack of any characters didn't put me off. If it had been boring, though, it would have been really boring. But it wasn't boring.
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evo.shandor
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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2008, 02:10:48 PM »

I am not a fan of humanity in general, but do think we are just as capable of compassion as well as destruction, and I like to see a balance.  This story felt a little too heavy-handed in the "humans are evil" theme without mention of redeeming qualities.

I did like the imagery the piece evoked, though, of humans crossed with mosquitos, cockroaches and butterflies.  Very colorful and unusual images in my head as I listened.  I did not mind that this was "textbook-y" and lacked any characters to follow.  I don't think that was the point.

The closing quote put me in a foul mood: never mind countries looking to buy and use chemical weapons, world leaders who threaten to wipe other countries off the map and want to jump start Armageddon, or a culture that feels suicide bombing a marketplace is a ticket to eternal paradise.  It’s those bloody Americans who are going to ruin everything.

Last thing: I think Frank Key is a great narrator, although he will always be the talking gas mask from "How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas".
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2008, 03:41:40 PM »

Did the trees talking remind anyone of Ents?

Not me; it reminded me of the Parliament of Trees from Swamp Thing during Alan Moore's run.
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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2008, 04:05:48 PM »

First.  I enjoyed the story a lot.  I've never really been exosed to this sot of tale (other than the Shape of Things to Come... >_>)... so I will be at least trying to check out what steve talked about in his intro.  Awesome stuff. 

The story itself.  Well it would have been nice to have looked into the tree side of it more, or how the transition of humans actually happened.  But it could have got bogged down, and its a creation myth... you just have to say 'this happened', and its not really questioned.  At least not at the time the tale is told.  As for all the types of human, at first I was dissapointed; just crossing humans with animals didn't seem that interesting, and well I've seen that movie.  But by making who races of people like that, split by species and not just belief; we could be more brutal to each other.  Its probably easier to dehumanise someone what is half bee, when if you are half cat yourself.  And we've never really needed a reason to murder people.

This is why humans were put as warlike beasts that needed to be destroyed.  At the point we changed over, we were.  So we were stuck in that for as instinct took over.  We are then warlike once things started going well for each specific race. 

I think it would have been interesting to see this story a few million years down the line, when they are actually telling it to humans again.  I'd like to see how it twisted and turned with each telling down the ages.

For the sexism.  I didn't see it.  In almost all cases I saw it as man, as in human.  And only when refering to individuals it seemed to go into detail.  And crabperson, butterflyperson, and whaleperson just don't work as well when you say them.  Whalepeople dounds like a band from the 70's. 

And for evo.shandor who didn't like the closing quote.  When I heard the quote I didn't take it as being about a war disaster, I saw it as refering to other disasters; from global warming or something else.  In this case, it may have been America that was a part of it.  And if its War that ended it; well your country sold weapons all over the worlds for decades.  It breeded the idea of war, and sometimes would fund both sides.  Even if you stop weaponising them, it won't stop the country acting exactly like it was before.  It will get them from somewhere else.  And for rogue states, and other things; America may have been involved or at least been able to do something about it, but chose not to.  As for suicide bombers... not American caused I grant you, but they themselves will not end the world; because it doesn't ever work.
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2008, 06:17:12 PM »

Do not want.

The reading was good, but I prefer my morality much less heavy-handed than this story. While I am actually writing a "humans are evil" story, it's not in the vein of humans destroying earth. At least, that's not the focus.

I agree with the people who said it lacked characterization. I'm just not the kind of reader who can identify with a story if there are no distinct characters, even if they're all evil.

The concept of how slowly the trees speak was very interesting.
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evo.shandor
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2008, 07:01:40 PM »

And for evo.shandor ... your country sold weapons all over the world

I'm Canadian.  And CANADA will bring about the apocalypse by withholding good beer and hockey players from the world, eh.
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2008, 07:13:16 PM »

Sorry evo, from your use of the word Bloody I assumed you were from the UK >_>
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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2008, 09:01:18 PM »

And for evo.shandor ... your country sold weapons all over the world

I'm Canadian.  And CANADA will bring about the apocalypse by withholding good beer and hockey players from the world, eh.

No thanks on the hockey players.  What brand of beer?
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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2008, 09:33:24 PM »

And for evo.shandor ... your country sold weapons all over the world

I'm Canadian.  And CANADA will bring about the apocalypse by withholding good beer and hockey players from the world, eh.

Hockey means less than nothing to me, and I can find many a fine American beer without even trying.  Widmer Brothers and Deschutes brew right here in Portland, and when last I lived in the Seattle area the Red Hook brewery was a short drive away -- and that's just a small sampling of the local brands.  And if I want something imported, plenty of fine product comes from Mexico, Europe, and Japan.  So you can keep your Canadian lager; I have no particular need of it either.  Tongue
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2008, 04:19:56 AM »

I thought the use of man instead of person was very deliberate.  Every time man was used it was all about destruction and death.  When the Matrons came forward to try and stop the violence, their hands were cut off.  The trees referred to each other as sister and they're the ones who were rebuilding, giving birth, to the new world.  It was the women who jumped from the cliff, refusing to mate, that brought an end to the violence.  You can say that the use of man is generic, but then the only specific use of gender is for our female heroes. 

I think if male and female terms were reversed in this story, there would be blood on he floor from all the screams of sexism.

About the story itself:  I was hoping for Dobson, the out-of-print-pamphleteer to show up.  That would have been a bit more interesting.
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