Author Topic: EP187: Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky  (Read 56269 times)

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.



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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.


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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?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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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. 



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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.



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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.

Man - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments - owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.


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 »



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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.



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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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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


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Reply #40 on: February 10, 2009, 01:32:42 AM
I enjoyed the story mostly for having Hitler, Chaplin, and Hemingway drinking together in the bar.  I particularly like historical spec-fic that involves real people doing fictional things in our timeline, rather than in alternate history.  My favorite of this type is Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati, which kicks off with Albert Einstein and James Joyce drinking in a Zurich tavern in (I think) 1910, when a terrified Englishman barges in and tells them about how he ran afoul of Aleister Crowley.  Another is Morris West's The World is Made of Glass which speculates on an obscure note in Carl Jung's journals about a woman who came to him with "a confession".

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Yargling

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Reply #41 on: February 10, 2009, 08:34:07 AM
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.

Agreed - some random Tom, Dick, or Harry would have required way too much dialog explaining their history and so forth. With Hitler, everyone knows who he was, and what he did. In essence, it needs Hitler to make the story work.



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Reply #42 on: February 10, 2009, 10:14:22 AM
I was fascinated by the years this Hitler had that ours did not... the years after our Hitler died.  It was one thing to have a different attitude and outlook on life, but to have an old age and children... I found myself musing, "Here's what our Hitler missed out on" and being happy that this Hitler was able to cherish those moments.



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Reply #43 on: February 10, 2009, 11:53:18 AM
I thought I'd post this here, instead of just on the opening comment page.

Evil, it would seem, rises from circumstance: that is the lesson of this excellent story.  It's something we've heard before.  What makes this so memorable, I think, is the very nature of the characters through which the idea is conveyed.  As Steve said, Hitler is very much the Devil and deservedly so.

But to see a "what if" and ponder other evils -a French Empire led by the 4th Bonaparte and circumstances in Russia driving out the Jews- nicely demonstrate that much of what contributes to evil -and good- arises from our surroundings.  We are mirrors to our experiences, times, friends, families, cultures, and surroundings:  our evils and goods may very well not be rooted within our souls but lie somewhere beyond us where we cannot so easily see or grasp.

A beautifully ponderous contemplation, indeed.

Thoughts?

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Sylvan (Dave)



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Reply #44 on: February 10, 2009, 03:16:07 PM
I really enjoyed this one. Although the story is very different, it humanises Hitler in a similar way to Downfall/Der Untergang. That is, IMHO, a good thing. Unfortunately, the capacity for evil is a part of the human condition. I think there's a real risk in allowing history to repeat itself if we allow ourselves to consider Hitler an aberration; he's joined by too many Stalins, Pol Pots and so on for us to remove it from consideration. Summer in Paris, Light from the Sky is an eloquent restatement of the results of Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment.

Can we assume that Godwin's Law doesn't apply for this discussion?

xD.

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sirana

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Reply #45 on: February 10, 2009, 03:48:01 PM
Wow, a feelgood story about Hitler. Who thought it possible...

I liked the story. I enjoy alternate history and this one was done very well imho. The characters were nice variations on their real counterparts and I think it gave a strong enough argument for the complete difference of the Hitler this story painted and the real one.
I think the quotes form various books were the best part of the story, they seemed very real.
I do not like rape beeing used just to move the plot along, so that hindered my enjoyment of the story a bit.
Still all in all a good story.



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Reply #46 on: February 11, 2009, 03:29:52 AM
I really feel like this is a beautiful story.

I remember seeing a video of our Hitler speaking/speeching while I was in middle school and thinking, "I don't speak any German, but I am so there!"  His charisma is undeniable.  Since then I've always wondered what the world could have been like if his charisma had found another direction, one for good. 

This story made me feel something deep within my heart, and few things do.  Maybe it was because it was a story of the love of freedom or perhaps because of the hope that none of us are truly lost to evil as even the worst of us can be seen differently by way of paths not taken.  This is in no way an absolution, this is a work of fiction.

As for the reading, I thought it was done rather well, with a few hiccups here and there noted by others.  Somehow Tesia seemed to come alive as a person you could care about despite being voiced by a man.

Again, beautiful story and one I will listen to again.



Peter Tupper

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Reply #47 on: February 11, 2009, 07:39:02 AM
I just didn't buy this story's premise. The author removes two of the most important influences on Adolf Hitler's life, his distant, harsh father and his experiences in the trenches of WWI (I assume, as there's no mention of an analogous conflict in the story). Without that, is he really Adolf Hitler or just somebody who happened to be named Adolf Hitler? I think that if you do an alternate history story about a known historical figure, but you change details so radically that the person bears only a superficial resemblance, then it isn't really about that figure.

If the story showed this version of Hitler as a leader, putting Hitler's inexplicable charisma to positive ends, that would be interesting, but instead all we get is a depressed wannabe painter. I saw nothing of the Hitler we know. And there was an anti-version of Hitler, he'd be a firebrand and a rabble-rouser, not a writer.

There's also the problem that, even with a saintly father, Hitler would have been brought up in a society with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism, and it would take more than a kiss from a pretty girl to make a dent in that.

(I'm struggling not to make any Springtime for Hitler jokes.)

I'm also not sure what to make of the appearances of Hemingway and Chaplin as bohemians. I expected some gag about little mustaches, as supposedly Hitler copied it from Chaplin.

Good reading, and I'm glad to see EP back on the air, if that's the proper phrase.



sirana

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Reply #48 on: February 11, 2009, 08:19:37 AM
There's also the problem that, even with a saintly father, Hitler would have been brought up in a society with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism, and it would take more than a kiss from a pretty girl to make a dent in that.

Not to come of defensive or anything (I'm German), but which society ca. 1920 had no deeply ingrained anti-Semitism? Not everybody who grew up in that time period in Germany or anywhere else became an anti-Semit. And I think a kiss from a pretty girl (or guy) is the best cure for any Racism you can find...



Yargling

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Reply #49 on: February 11, 2009, 08:20:58 AM
If the story showed this version of Hitler as a leader, putting Hitler's inexplicable charisma to positive ends, that would be interesting, but instead all we get is a depressed wannabe painter. I saw nothing of the Hitler we know. And there was an anti-version of Hitler, he'd be a firebrand and a rabble-rouser, not a writer.

Hitler was a depressive painter, living in various Doss houses over the course of several years, before the first world war. That was what Hitler was before the first war.

To quote from the wikipedia page:
Quote
He struggled as a painter in Vienna, copying scenes from postcards and selling his paintings to merchants and tourists. After being rejected a second time by the Academy of Arts, Hitler ran out of money. In 1909, he lived in a shelter for the homeless.

The difference between this Hitler and the real one seems to be that this Hitler never joined the government to spy on the "National Socialist German Workers’ Party" (the Nazi's in their early days), and hence never ended up joining them. You are right about the apparent lack of WWI experience in the trenches - but the thing is, the idea is that in the alternative Hitler, we're meant to see what he could have been like without those horrifying experiences, including being wounded twice (once in the groin) and experiencing the blinding of mustard gas.

Overall, you do have an interesting point - is this really Hitler? Without these experiences?

There's also the problem that, even with a saintly father, Hitler would have been brought up in a society with deeply ingrained anti-Semitism, and it would take more than a kiss from a pretty girl to make a dent in that.

Not to come of defensive or anything (I'm German), but which society ca. 1920 had no deeply ingrained anti-Semitism? Not everybody who grew up in that time period in Germany or anywhere else became an anti-Semit. And I think a kiss from a pretty girl (or guy) is the best cure for any Racism you can find...

Agreed! Although there was some anti-semitism feeling towards the jews, it wasn't as strong as, say, racial divisions between blacks and whites in America. I don't think any jews where murdered for just being jews pre-brown-shirt provoking. It was prehaps more like the current situation in the UK with immigrants now - a general distrust/dislike of them, and a few out and out attacks by extremist nutters on them.

But yeah...pretty girls cure alot! ;)
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 08:26:25 AM by Yargling »