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Author Topic: EP187: Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky  (Read 45037 times)

Schreiber

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Reply #20 on: February 09, 2009, 06:00:00 AM
I will admit, I wasn't listening closely enough to be sure on one point, which this comment hinges on, so sorry if this is irrelevant.  I didn't catch whether the Napoleon IV was a reinstated anscestor, or if it represented continuous rule since Napoleon Boneparte I.  If it's the latter, then the whole story falls apart.  The chances of any given person being conceived, even the moment of, are so very tiny.  If one's parents end up not getting jiggy with it that night, or even end up doing so a few minutes sooner or later, if she rolls over ten seconds earlier or later afterwards, really the tiniest change to the whole setup that might result in spermatazoan number 423365 getting in instead of spermatozoan number 423478 would tear it all apart.  Extend this to the chances of changes in the life stories of the parents, and the parents' parents, along with countless other factors, and the chances of there being an Adolf Hitler and an Ernest Hemmingway and a Charlie Chaplin and all the other big names who made cameos here are approximately nil, keep the change.  I just can't suspend disbelief enough to imagine that a pretty major change in European history decades before any of the key players were born would have failed to upset that balance.

Wait, what?
NOt sure what you're arguing here. The basic premise of the piece is some descendant of Napoleon goes on to create an anti-semetic reign in the soviet union. Is that so far-fetched? I think not..



It's a delicate point.  What bolddeceiver is saying is that if Scholes had chosen to "start" the point of divergence after Hitler, Chaplin, and Hemingway were born, then history should have stayed the same up to that point, which means no Napoleon IV.  If, on the other hand, the point of divergence happens before these characters are born -and for there to be a Napoleon IV, it would kind of have to- the odds of babies being formed with the exact same DNA as they would have had otherwise is somewhat implausible.

And he's right.  It's a perfectly logical argument.  But the story is still a lot of fun, just the way it is.  Besides, in theory every Universe that could possibly exist does exist, so this Universe just exists alongside the one featuring the people who would be, practically speaking, the characters siblings.

Okay, now I'm dizzy.

P.S.  Sorry if I'm dominating the thread, but the story has got me excited.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 06:02:57 AM by Schreiber »



deflective

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Reply #21 on: February 09, 2009, 07:35:46 AM
man. i didn't take the warning seriously and was happily listening along when, out of no where, it dropped that whole 'ninety states of the union' thing. i took a deep breath and resigned myself to the implied manifest destiny, but then the story went on to that horrible climax.

Lincon had to 'help canada achieve independence' oh please! it was like the plot to a hollywood summer movie with everyone in the world looking to the states for help. so angry! if anything the warning needed to be stronger!

but then i remembered how happy i was to get a new escape pod and couldn't stop smiling. =)



Swamp

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Reply #22 on: February 09, 2009, 01:23:56 PM
Ken Scholes continues to impress me.  I think the best thing about alternate history peices is that it makes me want to become better familiar with actual history.  I am a little bit concerned with how much I wasn't affected by trying to envision a caring, heroic Hitler who fights for freedom, especially of the Jews.  Maybe it's because I'm an optimist, maybe it's because Scholes is brilliant, or maybe it's because I don't have a good enough education in history, maybe I need to be reminded of what the real Adolph Hilter really did and was trying to accomplish, maybe I should read Mein Kampf, and be reminded of how psychotic he really was.

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Void Munashii

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Reply #23 on: February 09, 2009, 04:01:21 PM
  I am deeply offended, and cannot beleive Steve would air such a story!

  I CAN NOT STAND Hemingway!

  Actually, I quite liked this story, there just seemed to be a distinct lack of outrage to this tale. I've been a fan of good alternate history since reading the collection "Alternate Generals" back in high school, and this sturck me as good alternate history. As others have said, this is certainly no "Edward Bear" (which certainly falls in my top 5 EP episodes), it is, I think, the best alternate history story that EP has played.

  I've always been fascinated with the idea that some small change can alter a person's destiny forever, and even though there are clearly larger changes in the background of this story, I thought that idea was still put to good use here.

  I still don't like Hemingway though.

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DKT

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Reply #24 on: February 09, 2009, 04:41:54 PM
I loved the portrayal of De Gaulle as a bar tender but (and my only negative) I felt the Hemmingway characteristion was a little cliched.

See, I thought that worked because Hemingway himself was such a cliche. ;)


DKT

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Reply #25 on: February 09, 2009, 05:10:49 PM
Nice story, Mr. Scholes, and nice to have you back here Steve. (I'll go visit that other thread in a minute.)

I actually really enjoyed the use of Hemingway and Chaplin in this story and would argue that no, the story would have a much different effect it hadn't included the two of them and Hitler. De Gaulle was a nice touch, but I'm willing to concede that one. Hitler, obviously, because it brings up the whole nature vs. nurture debate.

Hemingway, as I said above, was the quintessential drunken writer and fits perfectly as a loud-mouthed, gun-waving American. Also, he lived in Paris - a bit earlier than I think this story takes place, but it worked well enough for me. When you drop Hemingway and Chaplin in there like that, a lot of the characterization becomes automatic. Chaplin = funny. Hemingway = drunken tough guy/fool. Both of them pretty heartbreaking artists. So it could've been people other than Hemingway and Chaplin, but for me it wouldn't have worked as well, or been as poignant. And when you've already made Adolf Hitler the protagonist, why not go with Hemingway and Chaplin. (Although I would've enjoyed it more if Hemingway had taught Hitler how to strangle pigeons for dinner.)

Okay, aside from the literary games, this one had a pretty good effect on me. I'm seriously looking forward to checking out Scholes' book now...


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Reply #26 on: February 09, 2009, 05:31:42 PM
I liked this story.  I really enjoyed the way the alternate timeline was presented.  It wasn't brutal, nor was it abiquous.  Having Hitler run from the rape scene seemed a little heavy handed for me.  I didn't have a problem with him running for the gun, it just seemed like we were supposed to expect him to just run away.

This was a solid episode that I would recommend as a first episode to some of my friends.

As to nature/nuture:  I'm more on the side of nuture, but nature plays a role.



Peter Germany

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Reply #27 on: February 09, 2009, 07:18:35 PM
I'm not sure that if Hitler had stopped at Poland then history would portray him differently.  My Granddad saw first hand what state the death camp prisoners were in when his regiment found one of these camps, but it was a good storey which i enjoyed.  I often wonder what might have happened in this had happened or that had not.
This was well done, and i love the thought of Hitler, Hemmigway and Chaplin having 'who can drink the most compitions.'  I'd love to see that!



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Reply #28 on: February 09, 2009, 07:44:37 PM
Ack! How did I forget to compliment the narration? Alex Wilson did a great job reading this story.


Bdoomed

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Reply #29 on: February 09, 2009, 08:20:22 PM
wow this story was incredible!  Go humanitarian Hitler go!  A very interesting idea, and as to...
Hitler, obviously, because it brings up the whole nature vs. nurture debate.
I dont think it does really...
Hitler in this story is nurtured towards being a humanitarian, however he still retains his nature of being a leader, too bad he wasn't nurtured so....

I dont see why in this alternate history America has to encompass the whole continent... at least i believe that's what the story was saying... the U.S. was all of North and South America no?  Didn't seem to be a point to that... tho that would be pretty bad-ass (and terrifying) for the U.S. to be that big.

and i loved the change in title from Mein Kampf to Unser Kampf :)

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
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Reply #30 on: February 09, 2009, 08:25:02 PM
wow this story was incredible!  Go humanitarian Hitler go!  A very interesting idea, and as to...
Hitler, obviously, because it brings up the whole nature vs. nurture debate.
I dont think it does really...
Hitler in this story is nurtured towards being a humanitarian, however he still retains his nature of being a leader, too bad he wasn't nurtured so....

I dont see why in this alternate history America has to encompass the whole continent... at least i believe that's what the story was saying... the U.S. was all of North and South America no?  Didn't seem to be a point to that... tho that would be pretty bad-ass (and terrifying) for the U.S. to be that big.

and i loved the change in title from Mein Kampf to Unser Kampf :)

I think the idea was that with a France that was so strong England couldn't hold on to any of it's colonies and helped the Americans even more than they really did.  France probably also messed with Spain and portugal and that gives you South America. 



godzilla8nj

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Reply #31 on: February 09, 2009, 08:40:48 PM
I just can't suspend disbelief enough to imagine that a pretty major change in European history decades before any of the key players were born would have failed to upset that balance.
It goes beyond European history, since the U.S. encompasses all of North and South America. I agree the story would have been stronger if it restricted itself to the single point of divergence relating to Hitler's father. That all said I still enjoyed the story very much, though I also agree there were a few too many "I know that name!" coincidences.



Poppydragon

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Reply #32 on: February 09, 2009, 08:46:42 PM
I'm not sure that if Hitler had stopped at Poland then history would portray him differently.  My Granddad saw first hand what state the death camp prisoners were in when his regiment found one of these camps...

Stopping at Poland would mean that the death camps and the final solution did not happen. I wasn't meaning to suggest that those atrocities would have been forgiven simply because he did not attack Russia.

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deflective

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Reply #33 on: February 09, 2009, 09:01:58 PM
I think the idea was that with a France that was so strong England couldn't hold on to any of it's colonies and helped the Americans even more than they really did.  France probably also messed with Spain and portugal and that gives you South America. 

in that situation we would expect a large independent quebec.

i didn't read this story as having a single point of divergence. it was a similar but different history, two winding paths that go the same direction and touch each other often. so instead of a standard sf alternate history, change one thing and think through what might happen, we get a fantasy alternate reality where larger than life characters can be thrown together in interesting ways.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 10:54:09 PM by deflective »



sburnap

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Reply #34 on: February 09, 2009, 09:55:41 PM
I liked this one a lot.  To me, the interesting question isn't the "nature vs. nurture" debate, but the debate about how important "great men" are in historical events.  I think it is all to easy for us to blame the horrible events of WWII on a small group of people.  In many respects, I think the elevating of Hitler up to ultra-devilhood allows us to be far too comfortable about the possibilities of such things happening again.  (And certainly while the Nazis exceeded all or most in scale, there have certainly been many historical incidents that matched the holocaust in evil.)

That's what the story says to me.  Here, it happened with Hitler in Germany, but it could have happened in France, and by extension *anywhere* and thus we can't sit back in the comfort that Hitler was an evil unlike any before and therefore unlike we'll see again.



Yargling

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Reply #35 on: February 09, 2009, 11:10:31 PM
Hi, I'm new to the comments forums here, and only found escape pod about a month ago. Ever since I've been working on catching up (although I listened to 185, 186, and 187 without getting that far in sequence). Anywho, on to my newbie comments:

I enjoyed this work, mostly. The sheer impact of Hitler, arguably the nearest humans have come to satan on Earth, being shown as what might have happened if the world was subtly altered. Hitler, like everyone else, was the product of his genes, his environment, and frankly, random luck (bad luck). This tale does what good sci-fi fiction is meant to do - shake up our views of either the present or the future. It begs us to wonder if, under the same conditions, would we be as evil as Hitler? Did he have the ability for good as well what he did?

Of course, we'll never get a real answer to these questions, but if it gets us thinking about how world events affect both us and others, its worth it.

Onto the bits I didn't like: The rape bit was, to me, highly distressing to me, but that's more my own sensibilities than the authors fault, and Steve did give us fair warning. However, another section I didn't like was revisions of the American-continents history, as well the revisions of European history post World War I - after that war, most of Europe was democratic, or at least no longer monarch-based governments. It seemed to me the scale of the revisions dulled the impact of the Hitler change. It could easily have been done in the real 1930's France, and still have been diverged from the real history with ease.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2009, 11:13:51 PM by Yargling »



ieDaddy

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Reply #36 on: February 09, 2009, 11:48:16 PM
So, I listened to this particular story while walking my dog.  It was a nice surprise to spin through my podcasts and see the EP was back.

That being said - I just really did not like this story.  It wasn't the Hitler thing, nor was it the De Gaulle thing - at least not exactly.  Maybe my brain already has these characters set in my mind but I found them to be fairly cardboard and one dimensional and getting them to move in these different directions just felt a wee bit forced.  I felt like the alternate history angle was used as a crutch for character development and actually ended up being more of a distraction than anything else.

If these characters had just been named Tom, Dick and Harry and it was a normal story set in an alternate history, I think more people might be saying that the story was flat or one dimensional.  I think it fell flat on the whole "Hey, this is the Good Hitler." thing.



Listener

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Reply #37 on: February 10, 2009, 12:08:09 AM
Once Steve said "Israeli journal", I knew what this story would be about.

The reading was fine, except I didn't like the special effects (at least used sparingly) and the shifting of pauses to indicate confusion/rising action got annoying after a while (during the climax/denouement).

My favorite part of alternate history is "where is the change"? Or, how far back does it go? It started with Hitler's father being less of an asshat. Then it became the Napoleonic line. Then the Russian pogroms affecting Imperial France. Then the US achieving independence in the 1860s.

Knowing that this was alternate history allowed me to put aside my preconceptions of Hitler the person and look at him as Hitler the fictional character, much in the same way I looked at Niels Bohr in "NB and the Sleeping Dane", which ran (I think) last year on EP.

As a Jew, I've had HOLOCAUST = BAD AND HITLER = EVIL pounded into my head since I was a kid. I started resisting it when I was 17 or so. I've never seen Schindler's List. I avoid Holocaust museums. I know those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it; well, I know history, so stop reminding me of it.

The heavy-handed-est part of this story, for me, was Hitler's dream. I don't think we needed that at all.

Overall very strong.

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contra

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Reply #38 on: February 10, 2009, 12:47:32 AM
Interesting storiy.  I really liked it.  I agree that it's probably th best alternate history EP yet.  It was worth the wait. 
I was listening to it at work on my lunch hour.  I starded sitting back looknig out over the snow, I ended it if the edge of my seat totally taken into this other world.

There could be a single point of divergance from which we take everything differently, like the French revolution happening differently (or the counter revolution); or different some people going out to the Americas (though that would have then changed who was born...)


The best touch was the title of the book though.  That small change changes everything.

I accept some people saying that it didn't have to be Hitler, Hemmingway or Chaplin; I too thought this at first, but I think it did matter.  We had to understand these characters at least to a degree.  We had to know their potential, especially in a short story format.  We had to know how far they would go for their beliefs.
We all know how far Hitler went.
So all that weight is always hanging over the story.  And from the moment you look curiously at finding out who the main character was, you are applying all of this to him.  And from how it was written, the character seemed to be feeling it.  We learned it was his father hanging over him; but as we came in, it felt as if it was the baggage we carried in that weighed him down.  From the start he is acting like someone who has a missed destiny and the universe is passing them by.  We know where they should be, and what they should be doing.

As the story went on, in my mind anyway, from the original intro of Hitler in Paris with Stormtroopers all around him, a parade, people on the streets and war; these all fade away until you are left with an older man in his 50's, all alone.
For me this was a very powerful moment that couldn't have worked with any other character

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Darwinist

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Reply #39 on: February 10, 2009, 01:21:53 AM
Ack! How did I forget to compliment the narration? Alex Wilson did a great job reading this story.

Yeah, great reading.   I loved this story.  It had me transfixed the whole time.  Glad to have EP back. 

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan